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: (Thoughtful)
Work work work...yeah, it's been that kind of week (and weekend).

Most of last week was spent wrapping up the latest Big Project at work - still some stuff to do on that but we're very close to getting things into production by the end of the week. [livejournal.com profile] genet stopped by for dinner on Tuesday, which was a nice break in the routine and her company is always a pleasure.

Friday night we were joined by Genet and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus ([livejournal.com profile] roho was stuck with workstuff) for dinner at Jimmy John's. [livejournal.com profile] takaza, Genet, and Linnaeus went off to see Harry Potter and the Giant Wads of Money; I wasn't really feeling it so I decided to chill out at home. It sounds like I probably made the correct choice :-)

Saturday was Bingo Day! It was once again Dan's employer's Summer Picnic and once again we got drafted to run bingo. It went OK, and we gave out about $900 in gift cards as prizes. When we wrapped up there, we drove over to Trader Joe's in Lake Zurich and splurged on a few things, then back home. For dinner, we decided to try Smokin' T's BBQ in Long Grove, which [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph had recommended a while back. The pulled pork was extremely tasty, the short ribs only so-so, and the sauces were a little underwhelming (though the Alabama White BBQ sauce was very tasty). We had a lovely walk through the area and enjoyed the sunset afterwards, then headed home.

Unfortunately, it appears that something Dan ate, either at the picnic or at the restaurant, caused something akin to food poisoning because he was up all night. I woke up on Saturday and saw that Dan was already up, which worried me. I came downstairs to find him in the middle of making me breakfast in bed, which was incredibly sweet of him. He finished making breakfast then headed off to bed himself. I came in to work and spent a few hours finishing up some testing that had to be done during the off-hours of production. I was home by noon, though. Later in the afternoon I went over to Remington Pointe in Volo and signed the papers to start the process of purchasing our new home.

The whole process has been too complicated to get into and to be honest it's stressing me out a lot, but the upshot of it is that we are on to buy a new townhouse and close the sale on Friday, August 7. Moving day is slated for August 22. The new place is fabulous - a really nice place, backs up to woods, and not in a terribly crowded neighborhood like where we live now. I'll feel better once we work out the details of the sale, but I definitely like this place better than the one we were originally going to purchase. The only drawback is a kitchen smaller than I would like, but the open floor plan makes up for it. It's very beige right now, but I suspect we're going to be applying some paint and changing that up a bit.

As for this week: besides the ongoing home purchasing trials, we're going on a little trip on Thursday. Many of you already know the details, but shhhh! Don't tell Linnaeus ;-) I'll have a lot more to talk about when we get back.
duncandahusky: (Cooking - Kitchen Aid)
Stop the train I wanna get off!

Yeah, we're down to that crazy time of year, and last week I had a convergence of planning for the MFF Summer Picnic and Anthrocon as well as a high-pressure project at work. I was not a happy camper at all. Thankfully, [livejournal.com profile] takaza put up with my antics and I somehow muddled through two out of three problems (Anthrocon is still to come).

I wrapped up all but the last few details of the project I was working on Friday afternoon. That left me feeling pretty good as Dan and I went out to do some last-minute grocery shopping and get everything prepped for the picnic.

Here's how it all went down... )
The goal of the picnic was threefold: to increase goodwill for Midwest FurFest, to continue to generate interest in the convention five months out, and to get people interested in volunteering for the convention. I think we accomplished the first two goals; as for the third, we'll have to wait and see. I really had a good time, and even though it took a lot out of me I'd definitely like to do it again next year. We'll see how that goes, though.

Oh, and on Sunday? We didn't do jack. And it was good :-)

Back to work!
duncandahusky: (Default)
(Crossposted from [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest)

The First Annual Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic was a resounding success! We cooked up 120 New York strip steaks, 8 chicken breasts, all sorts of fun appetizers, and everyone enjoyed lots of potato salad, green salad, banana pudding, and cookies. It was a hot day, too - we went through about 25 gallons of Gatorade and 15 gallons of water.

I hope that everyone had as good a time enjoying all the food as we did putting the event together. Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] skuffcoyote who won the Fan's Choice award for the softball games, and with that a $50 gift certificate to Tramonto's Steak and Seafood. Also, after everyone had eaten, we selected three names at random for prizes. Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] tybis and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, who each picked up a free weekend night's stay at the Westin Chicago North Shore and to Cale, who received a $50 gift certificate to Tramonto's Steak and Seafood! (And I apologize for mispronouncing your name, Cale - twice! :-)

This picnic was of course a volunteer effort. As such, a few thank-yous are in order. Thanks go out to:

[livejournal.com profile] dexcat has posted his pictures of the day. [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl has posted his pictures as well. Do you have pictures from softball and the picnic? Tell us about it in the comments!

Thanks again to everyone, and we look forward to seeing you in November!

P.S. - For those who asked about volunteering at Midwest FurFest, you can find more information right here!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
I needed a laid-back weekend, and that's exactly what I got! Both Saturday and Sunday I was able to just relax each morning, read the news, listen to some nice music, and enjoy my coffee. It was lovely! I even slept in a bit, which is unusual for me. Definitely it was something I needed to reset myself a bit after dragging horribly all last week.

On Saturday [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I checked out the site for the MFF Summer Picnic (on June 20 in Prairie Spring Park, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin). Nice fields, and the shelter is a bit cozy, but I think it will work. We also stopped to watch a neat Jet-Ski freestyle competition, part of the Great Lakes Watercross Tour.

As we were checking out the park, I got a text from [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd. He, [livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena, and friends were doing a Wine Country tour and were right up in the area where we had toured last year. After hearing about their experiences at somewhat lackluster wineries, I suggested they check out Peju Winery, which was one of our favorites. Score! It sounds like that wound up being one of the best places they stopped at. Baja was also kind enough to send what sounds like a very tasty white port home with Ford for me, something that was very sweet and unexpected. Thanks again, Baja! :-)

We capped off the day with a trip with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and Tom J. to the McHenry Outdoor Theatre to see Up. Wow, what a great movie! I really enjoyed it, and it was an amazing night to be out watching a movie - crisp, a steady breeze fending off the bugs, and a lovely wine and cheese spread to start the evening. Just a great evening. (Also, to paraphrase Nathan Fillion: How to test if your date is a robot. Take them to see Up. If they don't cry, robot!)

Sunday, we met up with Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet at BW3's for lunch. R&G had just arrived from [livejournal.com profile] gypsypet and Charlie's wedding in Charleston, SC. Lydia was on her thirtieth or so hour of being awake and was amusingly loopy :-) It was a fun lunch, and a nice spontaneous break in a very mellow day. We did a little shopping afterwards and picked up the new Boom Blox game (whee!). Later in the evening I made a batch of bagels for the week.

Then there's this morning. Dan left for work at 5:45 AM as usual, but not long after I got a call: his car had died on the way to work. After I showered I drove down and kept him company while waiting for the AAA-summoned tow truck to show up. The truck didn't show up until 9 AM, but that's fine - it was nice to have the time with Dan. The car went to the Honda dealer in Gurnee, I dropped Dan off at home, since he can work from home, and came in to work. No diagnosis on the problem yet, but given that it sounded like it the engine was missing and losing power at 2,500 rpm+, I'm thinking it might be a computer issue, or maybe spark plugs, fuel injectors, or something else entirely. On the bright side, Dan's car needed service anyway, including a fix to a sticky driver's side door lock. I could have conceivably fixed that myself but taking apart the door looks like a bit of a nightmare.

So that's about it right now. The rest of the week should be pretty boring, at least it will be once we get Dan's car back. Fortunately he can commute by train if need be, so that makes the lack of a car somewhat less critical. Hope everyone has a great week!

EDIT: Sounds like the problem is the VTEC oil pressure switch, something that is apparently a common problem in 2003 Elements. It's about a $250 fix, which isn't too bad considering that (routine maintenance notwithstanding) Dan's car hasn't required any major work in years.
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
So the craziness of the past week and a half is done, and I'm looking forward to a busy, but not insane week ahead. Now that I have time to breathe, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. )
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Now that was a truly amazing weekend, and exactly what I needed!

With Anthrocon quickly coming up, I admit I was not the most pleasant company for much of last week. Worries about preparations compounded with concerns about projects that were hitting at work right after the convention had me irritable and sleeping quite poorly. [livejournal.com profile] takaza, as always, was a saint and put up with me somehow. Then on Friday, I realized that 95% of what I needed for the convention was done and what wasn't done could be handled at the con. At the same time, I found out that due to equipment and material delivery issues, my projects were being pushed back to late July. All of this set the tone for me to be very relaxed for the weekend.

We kicked off the weekend by checking into the Westin Chicago North Shore. You see, Dan won a free weekend in the Wheeling Suite there (yes, the suite which will be home to the Con Suite at Midwest FurFest) and he suggested that this would be the ideal weekend for it. So after we got settled in, he had to go have lunch with his cow-orkers. I met up with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and we had dinner at Wakaba, a Japanese restaurant just up the road from the hotel. It was...underwhelming. Standard suburban strip-mall sushi, at slightly inflated prices. I don't see us going back there. After dinner we relaxed on the suite balcony (15 floors up) and relaxed. That was a nice end to the evening.

Saturday brought Dan's company picnic. He was in an organizational role this year (yeah, imagine that) and so I was left to run bingo myself. Fortunately, Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet volunteered to lend a hand, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon calling bingo to several hundred people and giving away over a thousand dollars in gift cards. It was surprisingly entertaining. Afterwards, we had a quick but refreshing swim in the hotel pool, then it was time for the party.

What's the fun of having a ritzy suite if you can't have a party? We welcomes a small group of friends up to the suite, ordered pizza, and mixed up some drinks. The weather was perfect as we chatted out on the balconies, admiring the views and watching fireworks set off in distant towns. We took a break at about 10 PM and everyone went down and swam for an hour until the pool closed, then it was back upstairs to chat and refill our drinks. I had a fantastic time and the party really let me relax and not worry about work or Anthrocon.

On Sunday it was time to check out (after sleeping relatively late). [livejournal.com profile] jet_der_hund had spent the night with us, and he kindly assisted us in carrying all of our stuff down. Dan took a nap in the afternoon while I puttered with Anthrocon preparations. Following a reasonably short online MFF staff meeting, we both worked on AC stuff while I introduced Dan to some of Big Blue Fox's outstanding megamixes.

And now it's Monday and I'm back at work. I'm going to struggle to maintain focus and get stuff done here, but I leave here at 2 PM tomorrow, pick up Dan from work, and then we head for a brief overnight in Cleveland, then Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. By the way, A note to folks in general: if you e-mail me between now and the coming weekend, don't expect any response until after Anthrocon at the earliest!
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: (Tom and Dan)
45+ hungry people fed. They seemed happy.

Sanity retained (mostly).

Recipes to follow. For now, it's time to relax.
duncandahusky: (Cooking - Kitchen Aid)
Well, something about being wrist-deep in garlic will do that to you, I suppose. Last night's kitchen adventures included preparing the Asian peanut dressing for the grilled zucchini (easy enough - dump a bunch of stuff into the food processor and puree). I also made the rosemary-garlic oil for the potatoes grilled in foil, which consisted of 50 garlic cloves and 30 sprigs of fresh rosemary pureed with three cups of olive oil. Let me tell you, it's a pain in the ass to peel 50 cloves of garlic. Still, I'm happy with the results.

Then came the main event: dinner rolls. Very exciting, no? Well, baking 96 yeast dinner rolls is a bit of a challenge. [livejournal.com profile] takaza was kind enough to borrow a number of muffin pans from his cow-orkers (some of which were best described as "vintage"). I made the rolls in two batches of 48 (actually 45 in the first batch and 40 in the second due to vagaries of portioning). Blessings upon Dan for reminding me that our square Cambro containers are awesome for holding rising dough and perfect for determining when the dough volume has doubled. I'll post the recipes after this weekend, but everything came out reasonably well with only a couple of rolls getting a bit overdone and having to be eaten/discarded (most of them from one of the "vintage" pans). They're all nicely bagged up in one-gallon Ziplock bags and ready to go; the plan is to put them into foil and briefly throw them on the grill (maybe with a quick spray of water to moisten them) so they can be served hot.

Tonight's entertainment? A run to the butcher immediately after work to pick up 20+ pounds of New York strip steaks, then an evening spent making apple slab pies (mmm, 20 pounds of apples to be peeled and cored. What fun!).

Incidentally, if anyone is going to be at the game on Saturday, isn't going to be playing, and would like to lend a hand, we will probably be able to put a few folks to work as we prepare dinner. Dan and I will probably be on site and setting up between noon and 1 PM. Also, note that if I understand things correctly (and I hope [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell corrects me if I am wrong), although we will still be in Madison Meadow Park in Lombard, we won't be at the usual field (the ones at Madison and Ahrens) but at the ones near Harding and Fairfield. Here's a map to make things a bit clearer.
duncandahusky: (Cooking - Kitchen Aid)
Yeah, it's another food-related post from me. Little-known fact: my LJ posts are 1,200 calories per serving, but low in saturated fats and sodium!

Click for lots of chatter about cooking for large groups! )
Still to do tonight: finish laying out all of the tasks required, scheduling them, and figuring out who's going to be doing what.

And you know what? This is fun! :-)
duncandahusky: (Alton)
RSVP's for the LAFF Softball game/Steak picnic are due by noon today! Let me know, 'cause I need to call in the order to the butcher today.
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
Let's get up to speed, shall we?

After work on Friday [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I stopped by Gurnee Mills to pick up a few things. We were just looking for a new belt for me but wandered into the game store only to find that they were having a buy-one-get-half-off-another sale on games. We walked out with two games that look like they're going to be a lot of fun at our next party: Malarkey and Wits and Wagers. When we finished shopping we drove up to Antioch to our favorite liquor store to stock up on a few things for Anthrocon (a couple of new Scotches and a bottle of Grey Goose, 'cause I likes me some good sipping vodka). We met up with [livejournal.com profile] genet ([livejournal.com profile] roho was under the weather) and had a pleasant dinner at Las Vegas Restaurant.

Saturday was craziness, but in a fun way. For the second year in a row we ran the bingo games for Dan's company picnic. It's a good thing that Dan thought to bring our bingo set (purchased for use last year, but not used) because we found that the provided bingo set was missing four bingo balls. That would have sucked. We ran two sessions, each 90 minutes long, and gave away a little over $2,000 in gift cards to Target, Wal Mart, and various restaurants. People seemed to enjoy it. Dan had bought a huge chunk for tickets for the charity raffle (to benefit Gilda's Club) and for the second year in a row he won an iPod, this time a 4 Gb iPod Nano. Which would be nice except that we both have 30 Gb Video iPods. Ah well, we had fun, at least, and the day's surreal moment was provided by the CEO of Dan's company inquiring if we're brothers. I guess it's true that the longer a couple stays together, the more they start to look alike :-)

After the picnic we headed into the city, where we met up with [livejournal.com profile] datahawk and [livejournal.com profile] emrldgrrl to see the GLBT Pride edition of Too Much Light makes the Baby Go Blind ("30 queer plays in 60 straight minutes"). As always, the show was amazing - funny, poignant, and thought-provoking. I admit, it's the silly stuff that I remember most, including "Two Minute Strip Rock Paper Scissors" and "All The Boys in the Frat House Say Ho(mosexual)!" Because it was a benefit show, even though they ran out of time on play #25 everyone agreed that we should see the last five plays, so we did! After the show, we drove down to [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's place and got dinner from our favorite taquiera. It was great ending to a great day.

And on Sunday? We rested. Well, we did a little work on Anthrocon stuff, but mostly we just rested. And it was good.
duncandahusky: (Default)
Wow, a week since a substantial update. Impressive! Well, maybe not. We just survived the exhausting Weekend of Doooom and let me tell you all about it...

Last week we didn't do much... )
On Saturday we worked a con... )
On Sunday we marched and cheered...for baseball? )

Man, after a weekend like that I need a weekend to recover. Not that that will happen, unfortunately. It doesn't look like we have a whole lot planned for this week, though, so that's good. We have Anthrocon planning to do, and that's going to keep us plenty busy. My last day at Abbott is on Friday, but I don't have anything lined up for after that, unfortunately. Not for want of trying, of course, but it's pretty dry out there right now. I'll continue to investigate all possible avenues and hopefully something will come up. In the meantime, it looks like I'll be unemployed come Anthrocon, yay. This leaves me curiously conflicted, of course: More time to prepare and I don't have to worry about requesting time off - yay! Coming home from the con to unemployment: boo! Well, I intend to do everything I can to avoid that.

Time for me to head home!

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