duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Whoa, am I falling behind!

The most notable event recently was the second annual Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic, which took place on the weekend before last. We welcomed Gir, Nik, Cadyr, and Eddi over at our place that Friday night and did some prep work for the picnic (including Genet making five gallons of simple syrup for the sno-kones!). We packed it in on the early side, then it was up relatively early on Saturday. Picnic prep went quickly, though we were late leaving the house.

The picnic was amazing. We had over 150 RSVP's, though the actual turnout was probably more like 135 or so. It was a beastly hot day, in the 90's and humid. We set up two grills, one for Midwest FurFest and one for Furry Connection North. In the time leading up to dinner I was in charge of making appetizers, which I did with copious help from Linnaeus, Aureth, Genet, Roho, and Cadyr. Appetizers included grilled pineapple with cumin, quesadillas, grilled plums, grilled baby bok choy in a light peanut sauce, and grilled jalapeno peppers, stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. This was supplemented by an inspired addition on Dan's part: he rented a sno-kone machine, which was perfect for the day. We went through about 80 pounds of ice, providing sno-kones for everyone (even bacon and peanut butter flavors!).

The main event came down to Furry Connection North's Guacamole Bacon Bomb Burgers (secret ingredient: chopped bacon and scallions mixed into the burger!) versus Midwest FurFest's Killer Bacon Cheeseburger (secret ingredient: 7-year-old aged cheddar cheese!). They were part of a delicious dinner buffet that included green salad, steakhouse potato salad, baked beans, and several trays of tasty dessert pastries. We had more than enough food (as always), but everyone seemed very happy with dinner and no one walked away hungry. I'm pleased and proud to say that Dan's bacon cheeseburgers won the day, though Gir's burgers were mighty tasty. Perhaps a rematch is in order?

The only downside is that the heat of the day and the hot grills took their toll - Gir, Dan, and Genet all had to take breaks because of the heat, and honestly early on I felt a little dizzy myself. Fortunately with lots of water and some time in an air-conditioned car, everyone bounced back and was able to return to the fray. Overall it was an excellent event, and I think that we succeeded in our goal to maintain awareness of Midwest FurFest during the summer months, recruit new volunteers, and increase community goodwill toward the convention. Certainly a worthwhile event!

Speaking for me personally, I'm wondering if the picnic isn't getting a bit too big for us to be doing all the cooking (or any of the cooking, really). I've got some ideas for next year, but if we're back to grilling for crowds again, I wouldn't be too upset about that.

More about recent events in another post...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Right, there was a holiday weekend back there. We were still dragging from Anthrocon going into the weekend, so keeping things laid-back was definitely on the menu. On Friday night, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet stopped by and we made fajitas, then just hung out. Saturday was a lovely day of relaxing, then Roho, Genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus came over and we made steaks Argentinean style. OMG SO GOOD! This is a method described in the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated: you coat the steaks lightly with a salt/cornstarch mixture, then place then in the freezer for 30 minutes. You build a hotter-than-heck charcoal fire and put a couple of wood chunks around the perimeter. Then you season the steaks with pepper and put them on the grill, 2-3 minutes per side, flipping twice. They came off perfectly rare/medium-rare. Oh, wow! Those were excellent - a nicely browned crust and suffused with hickory smoke. So good.

Sunday was another day of lazing about in the morning, then [livejournal.com profile] chanur2000 came over and he and [livejournal.com profile] takaza went to work reconciling Anthrocon's finances. As they did this, I caught a ride from Roho & Genet down to [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's for their "Red White and Gin" party. It was an awesome party - great food, tasty drinks, shameful performances on Rock Band, and the evening was capped off by watching the town's fireworks from their back deck. Awesome. I was also quite pleased that the gazpacho I made seemed to go over well. Since a couple of folks asked for it, here's the recipe )
We got home at around midnight, just as Takaza and Chanur were wrapping up. Well, mostly. Dan still has some minor number-crunching to do but then he'll be done.

Monday? On Monday we did nothing. And it was damn good.

This week we're back at work - Dan to the usual stress, me for a somewhat more relaxed week. The plant I work in is in the middle of its annual summer shutdown (cleaning, repairs, etc. - we do this every year around July 4th and Christmas). The atmosphere is much more relaxed, the hours are shortened, and it's a good way to get back into the groove of things.

This coming weekend will be spent getting ready for the coming Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic. We'll be stopping by the park, the MFF storage unit, and probably buying some last-minute supplies. Now that we know we can rent the grills and tables from the park, life will be MUCH less complicated! I'm really looking forward to the picnic.
duncandahusky: (Wagging Husky)
I need a vacation from my vacation!

It all started so long ago...Friday, I think it was. That night, what was going to be a small pre-party get-together swelled to 11 people getting together for "tapas" (as in "we only serve a bunch of appetizers, so let's call it tapas") at Rugan's in Antioch. The company was excellent, the beer tasty, the food OK, the service disastrous, and the sound level inexcusable. We had a good time anyway.

On Saturday things got rolling early as folks started to arrive for our big Memorial Day Party. The cast of characters from the previous night, plus, um, a lot of other people - I think we had 25 people in our place at dinner time. I smoked a bunch of chickens in the smoker, Dan grilled up some bacon cheeseburgers, and everyone had a great time. Little-known fact: "Mai Tai" is Polynesian for "express train to drunkville" :-) Everyone brought an amazing array of food and drinks and we had a fantastic dinner.

On Sunday morning we made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas Restaurant for their tasty brunch, then retired back to our place for chatting, relaxing, and gaming. As the day wore on we broke out the leftovers (of which there were copious quantities) and Dan got to try out a couple more drink recipes. Drunken Malarkey was played, where we learned that Bill Hep may or may not have been a hep cat, toothpaste magically regenerates itself, and popping movie theater popcorn has been outsourced to China.

Monday brought breakfast fail, as I somehow failed to comprehend that bagels, lox, and cream cheese requires bagels and cream cheese. Um, whoops. Thanks to Mirko, at least, for importing salmon from Seattle! We recovered, though, and headed out en masse to take over Whirlyball in Vernon Hills! We had 23 people in all there, including 11 fursuiters. The Whirlyball marketing guys loved us, taking pictures and video of the fursuit Whirlyball sessions (our picture gallery is here). We played for two hours, and I think everyone had a pretty darned good time!

Afterward, we adjourned back to our place for lunch with a few folks, then saw our last guests off at 4 PM. Dan went to bed not long after that, and I took a nap myself, then enjoyed a quiet evening, just me and Buddy.

As always, this was a terrific weekend, and I want to thank all of the great folks who were able to join us at some time over the course of the weekend: Aerofox, Aiden Dingo, Aureth, Bacon, Baja, Basil, Croc, Delmir, Drake, Eddi, Ford, Genet, Gir, GrayWolf, Hartree, Hegdish, Jenne, Linnaeus, Mirko, Nik, Perro, Quasi, RB, Rex, Roho, Rusty, Stevie, Street, Ted, Theome, Tozier, Vish, and Woody (I think I may have missed a few - if so, I apologize!). As tired as we were at the end of it, I know I felt it was all worth it, and we're already thinking ahead to New Year's Eve and other fun events in the future!
duncandahusky: (Wacky Alton)
So, life has been interesting at work, though it's not much I can comment on in a public journal entry. The good news is, I have a job, it's not in danger of going away any time soon (as far as I know), and I'm keeping busy. Let's leave it at that.

So last week [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I spent a little more time doing some housecleaning and dealing with some of the spring cleaning we had so artfully avoided the weekend before. This was because we were welcoming company. [livejournal.com profile] plonq and [livejournal.com profile] atara rolled in mid-afternoon on Saturday as part of their epic drive from Winnipeg to Ohio. We put together a nice dinner for them, inviting [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] aureth, and [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf (alas, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's car blew up and he had to spend the day dealing with that and couldn't make it). Genet made a tasty Asian slaw and banana pudding, and Aureth made a delicious (if sloppy) cherry pie. Dan made some killer macaroni and cheese with bacon.

For my part, I smoked a bunch of chickens in the smoker. Two of them I soaked overnight in a bourbon/honey brine, and two of them in a soy/ginger brine. Once I got the smoker up to a proper temperature, they smoked beautifully with some apple wood I had leftover from last year. Just perfect! The bourbon/honey brine was definitely the lesser of the two - some definite sweetness, but no real bourbon flavor. Everyone agreed that the soy/ginger was the real winner. We whiled away the night chatting and drinking some of Aureth's excellent homebrew, but unfortunately I conked out earlier than I would have liked.

On Sunday, Atara and Plonq spent the day with Atara's sister in Chicago, so Dan and I just hung around the house and relaxed most of the day. Roho and Genet came over in the evening and we watched the season finale to The Amazing Race (still not happy with how it ended, but it could have been much worse). We reheated the leftovers from the previous night, and I whipped up a simple Alabama white BBQ sauce that was absolutely divine with the smoked chicken. Atara and Plonq got home part way through the show and we spent the balance of the evening chatting and poking at our laptops - companionable geekery :-)

On Monday morning we bid farewell to our Canadian guests as they continued their trip eastward. Looking ahead to the coming weekend, we have more company coming, as well as the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. This should be a fun one - it's an in-person meeting at the Hyatt O'Hare in the middle of Anime Central, a 12,000-person anime convention. If anyone is at ACen and wants to stop by to say hi, we'll be in the Hartsfield Room at the Hyatt from 2 PM until around 4 PM!
duncandahusky: (Wagging Husky)
Spring continues apace! Last weekend we had considered doing some Spring Cleaning, but after thinking about it, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I decided the weekend was better spent doing very little :-)

Friday night after work, we decided that we really wanted to see How To Tame Your Dragon again, this time in 3-D. We bought tickets at Gold Class Cinemas in South Barrington, and we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah, and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr. Yes, the tickets were a bit expensive at $17.50 apiece, but considering we were originally looking at the IMAX in Lincolnshire ($17/ticket), it was a very good deal indeed. Gold Class is a "premium theater", one of the more over-the-top examples. There are (I think) ten auditoriums, the small ones having 22 seats and the large ones having 44 seats. And what seats! Comfy electric recliners with lots of space all around, and pillows and blankets provided on request.

We decided to try the whole deal and ordered dinner and drinks before the movie, to be delivered during the movie. Dan ordered the Wagyu beef burger duo (which unfortunately turned out to be served with mustard - not to his liking at all). I had the Cuban pork sandwich, which was delicious. Also, they have a fantastic drink called a ginger collins (Hendricks gin, Canton ginger liqueur, fresh strawberries, Pama pomegranate liqueur, sweet and sour mix, and ginger). SO GOOD. The prices were sky-high, though, and although the food was good, we could have had an amazing dinner at a fine steakhouse for what we paid. We won't be doing dinner there again. Fortunately, there's a Cooper's Hawk Restaurant and Winery right in front of the theater, so I can see a nice combination of dinner and a movie right there.

Oh, and the movie? Really great, even the second time. The 3-D did add to the experience, so I'm glad we saw it that way. We'll be buying the DVD for sure.

On Saturday, we did nothing. And it was good.

Sunday, I got a little more motivated. I took Buddy for a walk at a local forest preserve, then did some shopping at Garden Fresh, our local grocery store. Why do I love this store so much? They cover the basics, but also have a wide variety of ethnic foods. It's a wonderful mix of foods and cultures, and I was amused when I stopped by a sample table and had to help a Korean woman explain to a Middle Eastern woman what was in the kim chee dumplings (tasty, too!). Roho and Genet joined us for a dinner of bacon cheeseburgers, grilled asparagus with rosemary, lemon, and goat cheese, and a dessert of grilled pineapple. Somewhere in there we attended the online Midwest FurFest staff meeting and watched an episode of Glee, too.

This week is going by pretty much as usual. One bright spot is that with a nice influx of reimbursements from various sources we've paid our credit card off. Looking ahead to this weekend, the Spring Cleaning will kick in in earnest. After that, our weekends are claimed through the beginning of June. Yikes!


Jun. 11th, 2009 08:36 am
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Whoa, what a crazy week. Work has had me slammed all week, and it will probably be more of the same into next week. Still, it's manageable, just doesn't leave a lot of time for things like LiveJournal updates.

Waaay back on Friday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph to see the Pride Edition of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It was a fun show, though not one of their best overall. We still had a good time. Afterward we walked over to Big Jones for what turned out to be a really enjoyable dinner. We worked our way through their cocktails menu, and my shrimp and grits was fabulous (if this sounds weird, imagine the grits being served more like polenta). Dan's country fried steak was tasty as well, up to Heaven on Seven standards.

Saturday was pretty low-key. I went in to work in the morning, then that afternoon we had Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet over for dinner. We grilled up some steaks, chatted a good bit, sampled some mighty fine beers, and played the new Boom Blox game. And Sunday? On Sunday we didn't do anything - just stayed in and relaxed. That was nice.

This week has been busy on the housing front. The home inspection for the new place was on Tuesday, and everything looked pretty good. There are a couple of exterior GFCI outlets that need to be replaced, but we'll have the seller take care of that prior to closing. I'll be meeting with our mortgage broker today at lunch to sign off on paperwork and hopefully secure as good a rate as possible.

Last night we got the letter we'd been expecting, a Notice of Motion to the Court of Lake County setting a trial date for the foreclosure of the townhouse we're living in. The good news is that this is just another step in a long process, and the bank won't take over the property for at least another four or five months - we'll be long gone by then. The other good news is that in lieu of refunding our security deposit, our landlord told us we don't have to pay rent in August. This is awesome!

In the meantime, planning is still going ahead full steam for the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic, which right now has about 100 RSVP's. Yikes! We'll definitely have free strip steak for everyone (and some chicken breasts for non-beef-eaters); I'm working with a local caterer to figure out what the sides and desserts will be. I'll be posting the menu next week as soon as we get it locked down.

And finally, there's Anthrocon looming large on the near horizon. I need to deal with some items on my to-do list for that this weekend, and make sure that everything is ready to go. One advantage to having done this for so many years is that I've got lots of notes about things that need to be done before the convention. That will definitely save my sanity (what little I have left). OK, back to the grind!
duncandahusky: (pukey-cute)
Right. Friday. Where did the week go?

We've got a busy weekend ahead, but before that happens I wanted to post about the past week. On Saturday, we were joined for dinner by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] hegdish, [livejournal.com profile] drakeduck, and [livejournal.com profile] baconcoyote. We grilled up some very tasty bacon cheeseburgers and had a lovely evening of chatting and catching up. We don't get to see the Milwaukee folks too often so it was a lot of fun to hang out with them!

On Sunday we did some work around the house, though [livejournal.com profile] takaza was feeling a bit iffy. I wound up going up to [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's for dinner and The Amazing Race by myself. Unfortunately, Dan's illness carried over into the next day, when his boss sent him home because he was running a mild fever and had a slight cough (OMG SWINE FLU!). Even after he saw a doctor (who diagnosed it as your basic virus-caused upper respiratory ick), he didn't go back to work until Wednesday.

My week at work has been pretty busy, wrapping up a final report and starting in on my next project. It has kept me hopping (and extremely stressed on Monday), but it hasn't be too bad.

Last night was a fun change to the usual routine; we met up with [livejournal.com profile] aureth, [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf, and [livejournal.com profile] moryssa for dinner in McHenry at the decidedly pedestrian Bambino's (so-so pizza and $5 bottles of Guinness? Seriously?) before walking down to see Star Trek. On a scale of 0 to 100, I'd give it about an 85. Entertaining, pretty to look at (though as Dan and I said on Twitter, you can make a drinking game out of counting the lens flares, and be very drunk by the end of the movie), though ultimately lacking in...something. It was amusing to see them follow the "Star Trek checklist", though: Bones says "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a *", Scotty says he's "giving her all he's got", etc. I absolutely got my six dollars' worth, so I have no complaints.

As for this weekend, we're going to stop by Anime Central briefly tomorrow, then either go for some tasty BBQ or a wine tasting for a great cause, the German Shepherd Search and Rescue Dog Association. As for Sunday, I have a list with a lot of tasks to complete before we open up our house for Memorial Day, mostly stuff that no one would notice if we didn't do them, like cleaning the windows in the stairwell and such, but I'll feel better once they're done. Hmm, Sunday is also the finale for The Amazing Race. We (or someone) should do something for that. We'll have to work on that :-)
duncandahusky: (Oh really?)
Holy cow, it's been a while since I updated. Last weekend was a real hoot. Saturday was [livejournal.com profile] roho's birthday, so we got together with a bunch of friends and first hit Brightonwoods Orchards, then went back to Roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's place for a tasty dinner of grilled meats and some excellent cupcakes make by [livejournal.com profile] takaza, including carrot cake cupcakes and my favorite, Boston cream cupcakes {drool}.

Sunday, we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and headed north to Milwaukee, first to Sprecher Brewing to stock up on cherry cola for Midwest FurFest, then a quick stop by Alterra Coffee to feed my filthy caffeine habit. Once done there, it was off to [livejournal.com profile] hegdish and [livejournal.com profile] drakeduck's place for a very enjoyable shindig featuring more grilled meats and some excellent company. It was great to meet some of the Milwaukee furs we hadn't seen before, as well as some old friends we hadn't seen in ages (hi Mistletoe and Tremaine!). Wonderful company, and Hegdish and Drake were excellent hosts. I look forward to seeing more of them!

Most of this week has been slow at work, which is good since that let me catch up on some MFF business. I've been very busy coordinating between departments, making my credit card squeak with a good bit of ordering, and working with some fine crafters out in California on some fun "spiffy" projects. Evenings have been spent enjoying the autumn chill by snuggling up with Dan on the sofa and catching up on Tivo'd programs. Some TV notes: Heroes is definitely getting better. The Amazing Race bummed me out by eliminating my favorite team. Survivor:Gabon is still in the early (boring) stages where the majority of the show can be watched on fast-forward. Chuck is fun, though we still have a couple of episodes to watch. Also sitting on the Tivo: Life on Mars, Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod, My Own Worst Enemy, and the balance of Reaper from last season. As much as I wish we could keep up with Pushing Daisies, we're too far behind. Shows that are falling into the "Ain't gonna watch it" category: Prototype This (so much potential, but so much suck), Knight Rider (too dumb for words), and Fringe (just can't work up the interest).

As for plans this weekend, I may have to go in to work tomorrow morning for a bit. Then tomorrow afternoon Dan's family is coming over - I just don't have the motivation for cooking for a crowd, so we may just order pizza. Sunday I hope to do as little as possible, though we have an MFF staff meeting online in the evening. Just about a month to go until the con! Gah!

Right now, though, I'm listening to some excellent blues, Dan is cooking up a delicious dinner in the kitchen, and I have a very tasty beer in front of me. Life is good. I hope everyone has a great weekend!
duncandahusky: (Crochet)
It's Wednesday already? Wasn't it just Wednesday last week? Man, someone should do something about these calendars.

So last weekend was halfway stress-free. On Saturday we had [livejournal.com profile] takaza's family over to celebrate his mother's birthday, albeit belatedly. We all went together and bought her a Wii. She's a big fan of old-school games like Zelda and Final Fantasy stuff, so the online purchase thing is nifty for her. Plus, we played Boom Blox and I think we sold his mother on the game as well as his brother on buying a Wii period. The damn game is like a virus, I swear.

On Sunday I carpooled with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet down to meet with a prospect for our charity for Midwest FurFest this year (Dan went to see The Dark Knight with his family and worked on Anthrocon tax stuff). The meeting went extremely well and I hope to have an announcement on that front later this week. They're very excited to work with us and I think we're going to have a lot of fun and make them a lot of money. From there, we drove over to [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's place where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar, [livejournal.com profile] simbalion, [livejournal.com profile] feren, and [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon. We all enjoyed an excellent dinner of burgers and tasty sausages (mmm, andouille!) and some excellent beers. It was a very enjoyable evening!

Work has been more than a little crazy of late. I just wrapped up a big project yesterday which is a big relief, though I've got another project next week that will take up all of my time for the first three days of the week. We've also had a slew of new hires and I'm helping out occasionally to get them settled as well.

This weekend should be fun - I'll be at LAFF softball on Saturday to hang out and chat with folks. Not a lot of plans on Sunday, but we'll wing it and see how things go.

I'll leave you with two interesting links: If anyone is in Los Angeles and likes food and The Amazing Race, well, the Food Network is looking for you! Granted, being the Food Network, I'm sure they'll take a good idea and screw it up royally.

Also, it's about damn time. Anthony Bourdain has been touring around Chicago as he finally films an episode of No Reservations here. I don't know most of the places he mentions, but I'm glad to see that one of the highlights will be Hot Doug's, a true Chicago original. (Though I wonder about his choice of local guides. Mancow Mueller? Really?) Anyway, it should be a great episode when it airs.
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Before the craziness of this week's preparations for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we had a very nice weekend. On Friday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet for dinner in Antioch. We had originally planned to try out a BBQ joint I had read about, except we found that it was not only closed, the space was vacant and available for rent. Well. Instead, we walked down to the little Italian place a few doors down, Petrucci's. As we were standing outside debating, one of the employees came out to cajole us into coming in. After she went inside, Linnaeus took a deep whiff and said, "Smell that? That's Calvin Kline's Desperation." We shrugged and went inside.

After being seated, the waitress asked what we wanted to drink. I asked what beers they had on tap, and she...didn't know. The manager came over and told us the beers they had: Michelob, Heineken, and Moretti (sure, they had a Peroni neon sign out front but they didn't actually, you know, carry it). Evidently the three-beer beer list was too much to remember. Drinks arrived, and many giggles were had as we admired the Dunkin Donuts straws we were given. That was when I started pushing for just getting appetizers (a selection of fine frozen, fried cheese sticks, onion rings, etc.) and getting dinner elsewhere. I got outvoted, but we ordered the simplest possible thing we could: one sausage pizza, and one pepperoni pizza. To their credit, the pizza sauce wasn't bad, and the toppings were OK. The crust, though, was terrible. It reminded me for all the world of cheap frozen pizza. Needless to say, we won't be going back.

Saturday saw me at work in the morning while Dan slept in. He was awake and showered when I got home, and we headed out to run some errands. We happened upon a local coffee house now in its third incarnation since we've been in the area, and had a very tasty lunch there (they carry Intelligentsia Coffee! Yay!). Then it was up to Antioch Packing House to gather information on buying a side or quarter of a cow to fill up our freezer. We also picked up some excellent bacon and a couple of fantastic steaks. Once we got home we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah for the evening, and introduced him into how we have a small dinner for company: grilled NY strip steaks, baked potatoes with Monterey Jack and Parmesan, and grilled asparagus with rosemary and goat cheese, all accompanied with an excellent Australian shiraz blend. The evening ended with me nodding off on the sofa while Dan and Toz played Mario Kart Wii.

Sunday was the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. It was lightly-attended, as expected, but we got some good stuff done. [livejournal.com profile] perro has done a great job of fitting all the major events into the allotted space; now he can start thinking about the smaller panels. Afterwards we went over to Cafe Mistiko, a curious "European sports bar" that I really wanted to like more than I did. They made killer smoothies, and the saganaki was quite tasty. My crepe, "The Zembekiko" (Loukaniko [Greek sausage], tomatoes, peppers, and feta cheese) was only so-so, though. I'd be willing to go back and try something else on the menu, though. And lest you think of crepes as dainty little things, these suckers were huge, taking up three-quarters of the plate. I did also pick up a copy of the menu for the Japanese sushi joint next door and it looks like that may be next on the list of places in the area to try.

This week, we're cleaning and shopping in preparation for the coming weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing some of our out-of-town friends, and hopefully repeating the fantastic time we had last year. Never a dull moment!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
What a great weekend! The skies were sunny, the temperatures were above 60 degrees (F), which made it cause to at least open a few windows and air out the house a bit to celebrate the impending spring (geeky meteorological note: This was the first weekend in Chicago in six months where the highs on both Saturday and Sunday have been over 60 degrees, according to Tom Skilling).

As I mentioned on Friday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah attended the Cubs game while I slaved over a hot computer at work (there's some neat tales to be told from that, but I'll let Dan tell that story). After work, I drove down and met them and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, then from there we met up with [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph, then headed over to [livejournal.com profile] kodi_pup's swanky new digs, where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] invncble.

After some hemming and hawing (and being assisted by Cheetah's forethought to bring his EVDO-equipped laptop with OpenTable bookmarked), we decided to head down to Emmett's Ale House. Tasty beer was had, and my burger with portabellas, sautéed onions, and Boursin was divine. The company was excellent as well! Afterwards we retired back to Cheetah and Cala's to watch Ratatouille, but Dan and I had to bow out early due to the long drive home. What a great evening, though!

On Saturday we celebrated the weather by getting out and indulging in some retail therapy. Highlights included some wardrobe expansion at Berman's, some tasty ice cream, picking up some lovely rosemary-mint bath products, finally spending my Williams Sonoma gift card (thanks [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc!), and making our second round of purchases for a certain party next weekend. Oh, and getting sleazed on by the used car Sleep Number bed salesman. I'm afraid it will take more than just sweet-talking to get us to buy at $2,500 - $3,000 bed.

We were tired after all that running around, so we opted to go home and crash in lieu of further socializing. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah and Perro for the invite, though!

The weather on Sunday was every bit as lovely as Saturday's. Following a nice and relaxing morning and a quick grocery run, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus came over for some very enjoyable grilling. Nothing complicated, just burgers and brats and grilled veggies, but it was all delicious. The evening flew by and we had a lot of fun. It's so nice to know that the grilling season will soon be on us. My to-do list for smoking includes ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, and chicken or turkey. I can't wait!

This week is going to be pretty low-key. Since we're heading out to Ann Arbor on Friday, we're going to stay in, keep costs down, and get ready for the weekend. I've got a couple of statistics classes on Wednesday and Thursday, so this is effectively a two-day work week for me, which is quite lovely. I've got a rather extended to-do list of stuff for MFF tonight, though, so there's plenty to keep me occupied at work and at home!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
This afternoon the temperature soared into the mid-fifties, which means that it was time to roll out the grill for the first time since last fall. [livejournal.com profile] takaza picked up a couple of excellent steaks and I made foil packets with thinly-sliced potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sprigs of fresh thyme. I grilled it all up over charcoal and it was absolutely fantastic. Sure, there may still be more snow coming and the temperatures are going to drop back down, but it's a nice reminder of warmer days and fun times ahead.
duncandahusky: (Me- Jacket)
So, a few months back, we cooked up some burgers after a LAFF Softball game. It was a lot of fun and my loving husband [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I started to think about what we could accomplish if we really wanted to do it right.
Menu Preparation )
Logistics )
Execution )

Mission accomplished. And the big news? We're doing it again! Saturday, July 19, 2008 at the LAFF Softball Ninth Anniversary Game and Dinner, at Belvidere Park in Waukegan, Illinois. It'll be $10 per person, and be prepared to eat very, very well :-)

Recipes to follow in my next post!
Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] fursthatcook

Edit: I almost forgot - there's pictures! Here's pictures courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] dexcat, and also pictures by [livejournal.com profile] artemisfur.
duncandahusky: (Alton)
So we're a few weeks out from LAFF Softball, which is on Saturday, October 6 at Madison Meadow Park (Madison and Ahrens Ave, Lombard, IL). As many of you already know, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I will be grilling up steaks (NY strip steaks, baby!) after the game. We will also be serving apple pie and some delicious side dishes as well (possibilities include grilled asparagus with a lemon-rosemary dressing, grilled potato packets with fresh herbs and butter, or something similar, depending on how I can work the budget). All this for only $10! This is going to be a whole lot of fun and even if you're interested in playing there will be good food and good company. Yes, even at a LAFF event. Trust me on this.

So, who's interested? If possible, we'd like to get RSVP's by noon on Friday, September 21 (this Friday), though if you decide that you're interested after that you can let me know and we can probably squeeze you in. If you've already RSVP'd to [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell or on [livejournal.com profile] laffsoftball you don't need to RSVP again, but otherwise you can either leave a comment here or e-mail Stevie at his account at gmail.com with the username steviemaxwell@. When RSVP'ing, please respond with: attending softball or not, attending picnic or not, wanting steak or not. Any response of "N, N, Y" will earn a boot to the head. The final deadline for RSVP's is Friday, October 6.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
That was the weekend that was. On Friday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I went out after work for a quick trip to Sam's Club to price out some shelves that he had his eye on so we could bring some order to our garage (and hopefully other areas of the house as well). We didn't buy anything while we were there, but we had some better numbers to work with. On the way home, we decided to try one of the family restaurants in Grayslake, the Hillside Restaurant. While Dan's meal was pretty blah, my Reuben was excellent, with some of the better corned beef that I've had in a while. Afterwards, we stopped by the Prairie Croissant Cafe and picked up some coffee beans (they get theirs from Metropolis Coffee in Chicago, my second-favorite roastery there :-)

On Saturday, Dan had to go over to his mom's place to hook up her new DVD recorder and show her how to use it. I struck off on my own and joined [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, and [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc for brunch at Las Vegas Restaurant in Antioch. Afterwards we walked around downtown a bit to fight off the inevitable food coma and we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. The lot of us headed north to Brightonwood Orchard, home of Aeppeltreow Winery. We sampled some of the new wines for 2007, but I wound up buying a bottle of the very tasty Appley Doux sweet sparkling cider and a bottle of Pommeaux apple dessert wine (fortified with apple eau de vie). Then it was over to the apple barn where we checked out some of the wonderful heirloom varieties. My favorite, Northern Spy, wasn't in yet, but I picked up some Northern Greening and Gravenstein apples.

After returning from the orchard, Straif and I headed south and picked up Dan, then stopped at Garden Fresh to get some dinner fixins before returning to Antioch. Roho grilled up some delicious burgers and sausages from Antioch Packing House, then I went to work on the grill, test-grilling a couple of different things to see how they might work for the upcoming picnic. The verdicts:
Grilled Butternut Squash: Delicious, very potatoe-y when grilled. This begs the question, though, why not just grill potatoes, which are easier to deal with in quantity?
Grilled Honeydew Melon: The grilling didn't really add much to the flavor. Maybe good for a garnish in a salad? Probably won't pursue this for the picnic.
Grilled Honey Crisp Apples: Excellent! Nicely caramelized, very tasty. Might be a bit too expensive, though (there's a reason the orchard nicknames them "Money Crisp" apples)
Grilled Nectarines: No verdict, since the coals were dying and I never succeeded in doing much more than warming the nectarines.

Sunday got a lot crazier than expected. First, we were surprised by a call from our landlord wanting to come in and change the furnace filter (read: "I want to come by and make sure you guys aren't destroying my place.") That's cool, though - this was the first time he's been out since we moved and, and I can understand his concern. Fortunately, we're good tenants and he seemed happy with what he saw. We also talked about re-upping our lease and he seemed very amenable to that, so we're covered for next year, it appears (thank heavens!). After he left, we drove back to Sam's Club and bought the shelves we had looked at on Friday. We rearranged some of the stuff in the garage and put the shelves together, then Dan started replacing the various boxes on the shelves. Dan's mom showed up to start work on a slipcover for our sofa, and I went to work in the kitchen making the aforementioned Apple Slab Pie. That sucker took seven pounds of apples and four pie crusts, but it came out well and I'm very happy with the results. In the midst of the chaos, [livejournal.com profile] luckytheevildog showed up and Dan helped him install a new hard drive on his computer. I whipped up dinner for everyone, a simple fettuccine with a modified pesto consisting of olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, and parsley), and Parmesan cheese. I cooked up some Italian sausages to serve on the side, and I was very happy with the results. The pie definitely passed muster; I'll be posting the recipe in the next few days, since Dan's mom wants a copy.

The alarm went off far too early this morning, and I'm dragging a bit now. Coming up this week...um, beats me. I know I have a lot of work to do for Midwest FurFest, though, so that will probably be my primary non-work focus. For now, though, I'm going in search of caffeine!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Now that was an entertaining weekend! First off, the week was instantly made better on Friday afternoon when [livejournal.com profile] takaza returned from the wilds of Indiana. Of course, not an hour after he got home we had to leave again, but it was for a good cause: dinner with friends at Bombay City Indian Restaurant. We had a lot of fun seeing familiar faces and meeting some cool new folks too (who I hope we'll have a chance to see more of!). The food was, as always, fantabulous, though I have learned my lesson: while tandoori stuff is tasty, the sauced dishes are where it's at. Fresh naan dipped in the chicken tikka masala sauce...heaven! Unfortunately, we've been there three times and each time the service has been sub-par. This time we waited about 30 minutes for our check once we were done. It might be time to investigate other Indian places in the area, sadly. For dessert, we went to Marble Slab Creamery with [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, which was a perfect capper for the evening.

On Saturday, after a very quick follow-up visit with the doctor about my toe (it's healing nicely, thank you), I returned home and Dan woke up not long after. I knew that I needed to go to laffsoftballLAFF Softball to drop off the badge holders for Mephit Furmeet to [livejournal.com profile] ramalion, but it was up in the air if Dan would be joining me. Between a couple of calls to Stevie, making some lists, and having some cool ideas for grilling, it suddenly transpired that he had talked himself into going and we were going to be grilling for the picnic after the softball game. We stopped by Sam's Club and picked up a huge amount of food (as well as a nifty new portable table) and then headed over to the softball game. [livejournal.com profile] aeto was kind enough to make a quick store run for us for a few things we couldn't get at Sam's Club and to lend us the use of his cooler - thanks, Aeto! We watched some of the game and chatted with the various folks who were there (too many to name!). At about 4 PM we took all of the supplies over to the cooking area and fired up the (one, very small) grill and set to work prepping the food. Dan and I had agreed that we were going to make "Jucy Lucy" burgers (sic), and we set to work making the patties. [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph let us store some of the perishables in their refrigerator, which was a huge help! I learned that the grill didn't put out as much heat as I had hoped as I limped along with the first batch of bratwurst, but once we got a handle on it (and added another chimney full of charcoal!) we got things working properly. We wound up feeding 25 people or so, and even managed to break even in costs! Dan and I are kicking around ideas for the end-of-the-season picnic, possibly including steaks. We'll see if we can make that work, though.

After grilling, we were both drained, so we drove home and crashed. We were both silly and didn't put on sunscreen (not too bad - we were mostly in the shade) or bug spray (bad - I've got multiple unpleasant welts!), so we've got some tokens of the day to remind us to properly prepare next time!

Dan's sister came over Sunday afternoon and they worked on her computer for several hours while I puttered around the house doing laundry and cleaning. That unfortunately meant that Dan had to stay home to work on work-related stuff while I headed out to have dinner with Roho, Genet, [livejournal.com profile] chebuytkin and CAJones at Dave and Busters. The company was excellent, with much smoffage and comparisons of conventions (I like the idea of road-tripping to Minneapolis next July 4 for Convergence!). The food was surprisingly good as well, as was my strawberry margarita. The games afterwards...not so much. If you like shooting or driving games, D&B's is the place to go. Unfortunately, shooting games have zero interest for me and my passion for driving games is limited at best. I left with credit still on my card, but the night was getting late. I got home just as Dan was wrapping up for the evening, so it all worked out.

It's a new week now, and it looks like it'll be a busy one at work. We don't have much planned during the week, though at the end of the week is the Chicago Air and Water Show. Also, keep an eye out here because plans are in the works for another game night at our place next week!
duncandahusky: (Default)
The past few days have been something of a mixed bag. We didn't do much on Friday, but on Saturday I got up early to head off to the doctor. As I had in April for my other foot, I had to go in for a matricectomy on my left foot. Click for potentially squicky medical details. ) One nice thing this time around: last time I had this done I had to soak my foot twice a day. No, I just have what is essentially a medicated Band-Aid I put on the toe after showering each day. Much easier!

So anyway, I got back from the doctor's office at about noon and pretty much sat and stayed on the sofa. Poor [livejournal.com profile] takaza was a whirlwind through the house, cleaning the place up single-handedly in preparation for his family coming over to celebrate his mom's birthday. After a bit we went out to run some errands, though I pretty much stayed in the car with my foot propped up. We did go into Tony's Butcher Shop in Grayslake, since it took less time than going all the way up to Antioch Packing House. This was the second time we've gone there, and we won't be going back. Between the surly service ("What kind of hot dogs are these?" "The best ones."), high prices, and low quality (bones in the ground beef, cartilage in the brats). We got home just in time for Dan's mom to show up, then after a while his sister and brother (and his brother's sister-in-law) arrived. Dan busied himself playing host and grilling up dinner, and was pretty much consigned to the sofa. Since the anesthetic had worn off by then, I was quite OK with this, though I felt kind of useless. We played some games later in the evening, which was quite fun, though by 10 or so everyone was worn out. After we saw everyone off, I popped a Tylenol 3 and we went to bed. I slept quite poorly, waking up every time I moved my foot.

And on Sunday? On Sunday we didn't do diddly, and it was great. We watched a whole lot of Tivo and relaxed, and didn't even leave the house.

So here we are at Monday. My foot isn't hurting too badly, though I'm propping it up at every opportunity. The boss is out this week, so there's a corresponding lack of immediacy pervading the office. Dan is going to be off in Indiana for a few days this week, so I'll be on my own for at least one night. Then this weekend there's Indian food on Friday (om nom nom!) and LAFF Softball on Saturday (yes, I intend to be there, though not play). But for now, back to work!
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
So besides the weekend's technological trials and tribulations, what else happened?

On Saturday we decided that since [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc were coming over, a tasty grilled dinner would be in order. We laid out where we needed to go, but the circle slowly got wider. See, we needed some really good corn on the cob, and while Garden Fresh Market's isn't bad, I think the best corn around is from Stade's Farm Market, so a detour to McHenry was added. And heck, as long as we were going that way, if we want really good steaks, we were going to need to go to our favorite butcher at Antioch Packing House. The farm stand was delightful, as expected, and we picked up some fresh peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, and some delicious apple-cinnamon bread along with the corn. And Antioch Packing House always has good ground beef and bacon, so we had to get some of those while we got the 1.5" thick New York strip steaks. Stopping by Garden Fresh, I got some asparagus and some other goodies. Once the Tivo was up and running, I fired up the grill and I grilled the asparagus with a garlic-rosemary-lemon vinaigrette that was divine. The steaks cooked up perfectly, and the rest of the meal (as well as the company) was excellent!

On Sunday we unfortunately had to bow out from [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw's birthday shindig (we'll make it up to you, we promise!). While we were out picking up the networking gadgets we needed, I wanted a quick and cheap lunch. Hey, there's a White Castle! I haven't been to one of those in over a decade. And after having eaten there, I can safely say it'll be at least another decade, because that was just plain nasty. Once we got everything up and running, the rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around relaxing, and scheduling our Tivo to fill up with weird, random programming.

And now it's Monday. It should be a quiet week, though it looks like Dan will be working late on Thursday and Friday. Hmm, maybe I'll actually get around to start that Harry Potter book this week (sorry Roho! :-)
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
So I suppose the last substantive post I made kind of left things off around the middle of last week. The rest of the week was pretty quiet; honestly, I was so darned tired all week long that actually doing anything would have been difficult. Also, it didn't help that the cough that lingered through Anthrocon continued to haunt me, waking me up a couple of times each night and making catching up on sleep difficult.

Saturday we finally got around to being social again, catching Harry Potter and the Moneymaking Juggernaut on Saturday afternoon with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. Order of the Phoenix was my least favorite book, between Harry's pubescent whining and interminable scenes at the Order headquarters filled with talking, talking, talking. The movie cured a lot of that by cutting out great chunks of the story (which was needed, I think, if only to make the run time manageable). For that alone I would have liked the movie, but the casting was fabulous as well. I always adore Emma Thompson, and her depiction of Professor Trelawney is always great. Evanna Lynch wasn't quite the way I was picturing Luna Lovegood but I thought she was a good choice. And Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge was just delicious - how she gives you the willies with a girlish giggle. All in all, a good movie, and one I enjoyed a lot.

After the movie, we retired back to our place where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc, who was crashing with us between weekend shifts at Bristol Renaissance Faire. Fajitas were consumed, as well as yummy artichoke dip and a caramel apple pie that was just divine. We watched some Flip This House and World Series of Pop Culture, and everyone had a great time.

Both [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I woke up before 8 AM on Sunday (!), so we saw Straif off for the day. After relaxing a bit and catching up on some Tivo, we headed out to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah for a Top Secret Project. Not much I can say except that it was a pleasure to Mike (Calla), Cheetah's boyfriend. Afterwards we headed home and had a quiet evening in.

On Monday, I finally got tired of the wretched cough and went to see the doctor. I explained that I had tried taking Tussin AC (guaifenesin + codeine, left over from a prescription from last year) but it didn't really seem to help. She prescribed another cough syrup and told me to call if that didn't help. I left a bit disgusted, hoping to have a bit more help than that, but oh well. I got out of the doctor's in time to catch Dan on the way home on the train, so I picked him up at the Mundelein station (yay for Google Maps on my Motorola Q!) and we went shopping for the week's groceries at Target using the $100 in gift cards we had gotten as thanks for helping out at Dan's company picnic. While we were there, I had the cough syrup prescription filled, to the tune of $0.69. The groceries were a lot more, though we went a little nuts and bought some stuff we probably wouldn't have otherwise, just to try out new brands and such.

That night, I took the cough syrup before going to bed and...I take back everything I said before. The doctor had prescribed Hydromet, which I thought was more of the same but is actually hydrocodone and homatropine. I knew hydrocodone affects me a lot more than codeine (following some fun in college with an abscessed tooth and Lorcet Plus; "Whoa, I think I'll sit down now."), but the homatropine is some serious stuff as well. Since I took that first dose I haven't coughed. At all. Holy cats. And this after I was wracked a couple of times each day and night with a nasty, rasping cough. I took it again last night (earlier than I had Monday night, which was good since I didn't feel quite as dopey this morning), but I'm thinking that should be all that's necessary.

As for the rest of the week, there's not too much going on. I have the Midwest FurFest registration database up to date now, and while we're ahead of last year's registrations I'm not seeing any insane explosions of growth. The fact that we're selling out the Hyatt in July (as opposed to in October last year) is more a reflection of the fact that it costs nothing to reserve a hotel room, but actually costs money to register :-) Anyway, now that everything is caught up, I have about 70 or so confirmation postcards to send out, which I hope to do tonight. I don't think we're doing anything Friday night, but Saturday night we're going to stay at the Amerisuites Schaumburg (thanks again, [livejournal.com profile] r_bear!), then on Sunday is the Midwest FurFest board meeting at 1 PM then the staff meeting at 2 PM. Lots to do before those meetings, so off I go!
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
Oh dear, a meme. I'll get that out of the way first, and I blame [livejournal.com profile] skorzy and [livejournal.com profile] atara for it:

Ask me to take a picture of any aspect of my life that you're interested in/curious about - it can be anything from the house I live in to my favorite shoes. Leave your choice here as a comment, and I will reciprocate by taking the pictures and posting them as an LJ entry. That way you get to know a little bit about my life!

Please note that it may take a few days to get to all of the requests (if there are any), but I'll do my darnedest to accommodate them all. Now, I reserves the right to interpret any and all requests however I like, though ;-)

Now that that's out of the way...Yesterday was rather busy. I slipped out from work a little early (considering I get into work each day 20-30 minutes early, this is no big deal) and ran up to Lovin' Oven Cakery to pick up some tasty stuff for a certain panda's birthday. On the way, I got a call the my new glasses were ready, so I stopped by the opticians in Grayslake (navigating through the weekly Farmer's Market) to get them, then raced home and did some last-minute cleaning. Dan got home a little late (he'd had to drive in due to a little problem that Metra had), and were then joined by [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw, [livejournal.com profile] midwestcougar, [livejournal.com profile] nymphara and her new squeeze, Nick, and [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. While the crowd played a couple of rounds of poker, I busied myself grilling up a multitude of brats and hot dogs and hamburgers. Everyone had a good bit of fun, and Dan had fun making appletinis. Genet and I elected to chat while everyone else played games, and that was fine - I wasn't much in a poker mood. For dessert we had a couple of monstrous éclairs that we cut up for serving, as well a couple different kinds of strudel. Yummy! We didn't get to bed until after 11 PM, though, and both Dan and I are dragging a bit today as a result.

Not much going on today, though I do have my annual checkup with my doctor right after work today. Tomorrow we'll be heading up to Antioch to stock up on some important items for Anthrocon, and I may see about taking Dan's car in for emissions testing as well.

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