Friday, September 30, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tonight was alright

Tonight was alright.  I came home and made dinner for my family.  We enjoyed Crab Quesadillas and chips and Garlic Salsa from Trader Joes. After dinner, I found a MINI owners club, Puget Sound Mini Motoring Club.
They have a large website, with MINI forums and it looks like they do a monthly drive.  Hopefully, I can make time to participate.
After that, I had some Scotch.  My bottle of Glenlivet is running low.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My weekend trip

This weekend, my family and I took our first trip - back to the Bay Area! Our trip went pretty well, with a few mishaps.
The Seattle airport's parking garage is posted that vehicles over 6-1/2 feet won't fit and my wife's Expedition is pretty close to that. So, just to be on the safe side, we chose to park in the Overhieght Parking area. For some reason, we had to drive all the way around the terminal and parking garage to get there. And when we started our tour, we were right by the parking area, but all of the signs pointed us away from it. Evidently we had to drive all the way around to make sure the area was secure!
We finally got to the airport and still had plenty of time to spare and on the way into the terminal, we saw several unattached SmarteCarts. I recalled that they offered a reward to return them and when I mentioned that to my small capitalist kids. they collected all they could find. It was crazy - between the three kids (each with a small rolling case) they must have had 8 carts. Parker couldn't even see over the back of the cart, but he insisted upon pushing too!

Remember that we paked in the Overheight Parking area? It is a parking area not a parking garage. Sea-Tac is built around a large parking garage and the airport terminal is on the fourth floor. So, all the carts went in elevators to get up to the terminal, where we were sure to find a return station.
Well, evidently they don't give that reward any more. Alec demanded that I pay him the money instead of getting the reward. I didn't.
We hadn't eaten dinner yet, and our plan was to eat in the food court in the airport. Here a certain comedy of errors (if you discount all the previous comedy) began. I waited in line at Pallino Pasteria with the kids and Heather went to Maki of Japan for some teriyaki. Evidently, we both got to the front of the line at the same time and tried to pay for our dinner's with the same credit card. Obviously, using the same card in two different places must be fraud, so my card was declined. The clerk almost told me to just sign the declined credit receipt. I could have gotten my food for free (which we did, but that is still coming). We ran the card again and this time it worked.
All this time spent running the credit card allowed the kids pizza to cook completely, so we didn't have to wait long. Heather came to us and Alec was carrying the pizza. He rested it on a divider cord and opened the pizza to show his Mom. She told him to close it and sure enough, I hope that Alec learned the lesson of why you don't open the pizza box when it isn't on a table - it all slid out on to the floor.
The pizza manager saw this happening and by the time Alec had picked it all up, he had brought out a new pizza.
So, the kids and Heather all have dinner. Maki of Japan sounded tempting - I like sushi. But the chance of food poisoning while trapped on a plane sounded risky. Live on the edge!
So, I waited in that line and got out my credit card (the same one as before) and it was declined. "Did you make a purchase here today, already," the cashier inquired. Well, evidently, buying sushi twice in one day is also credit fraud. So, my Check Card came in handy, becuase it never gets used. Good thing, this way my inactivity clock starts over. I'm probably good for another year of not using it. The sushi was as good as any pre-packaged sushi you can get at a grocey store and there were no stomach pains on the trip there.
On Southwest Airlines, you get pre-boarding priviledges with kids under 4. So we took advantage of that and were first on the plane. With a family of five, though, we had to sit in two rows. Not really a big deal, I sat with Parker and Heather sat with Alec and Chase. On a previous flight, Parker had big problems equalizing the pressure in his ears, so we had to make sure that everybody had gum to chew so that their "ears didn't get sick." It was really cute to watch the kids read the safety cards, which were pretty easy for them to read being in International-Picture-ese.
Parker decided that he wanted to sing on the airplane, so he sang for most of the way there. Most of the passengers thought it was cute, because he really isn't that loud - compared to an airplane.
While on the flight there, I came to the realization that I needed some kind of book to put the wedding ceremony in. I figured it out, I should get a Moleskin Journal at some place like Borders. Heather had the rental car, so I found the closest one and decided the boys and I would walk the 1.3 miles. Without being able to print out the map, I got a little misoriented and we walked about half a mile - the wrong way. We walked back, and by then, it was time for lunch. We ate at Arby's, something I haven't done in a long time and then set out again, this time in the right direction. Two hours after we started, we ended up at Borders. We found the journal, read some kids books, and called the bride for emergency evacuation back to our hotel.
The wedding went off without a hitch. It was the first wedding I officiated at, so now I am a professional.
The wedding reception was nice and there was lots of dancing with both my kids and my wife. It was a lot of fun.
We flew home with out event, humorous or otherwise. Unless you count all the people who looked at the two empty seat next to Chase and Alec and then passed it up. Finally, some lady chose to sit there. Chase chatted it up with her for awhile.
Chase had trouble finding our rental car (a crappy Ford Taurus) everytime we went out to it. Tonight, we rented a car so that Heather could get the Expedition repaired. We ended up with a bright red Dodge Neon. We hadn't picked up dinner yet, so we went to a Teriyaki take out place. As we walked out to go to the car, Chase went to the first red car she saw and pulled open the door. Well, it was a mini-van - not our rental! She closed the door and we walked away, embarrassed. Luckily, we live in a safe enough area where the people that don't lock their doors also don't have alarms.
Kids do the darndest things. It makes you smile.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dinner with Friends

On Friday night, we got a baby sitter and my wife and I went to dinner with some friends who were in Seattle selling a house. It had been almost 5 years since we had seen Erik and Kelly, so we had some catching up to do.

We went to Union on First Street in Seattle and it was quite an enjoyable dinner. While we were definitely there to eat dinner, we were really there to spend some time and catch up with Erik and Kelly. I was quite happy with the lack of presssure to keep dinner moving and how informative they were.

We got a five course sampler and each course, as it was presented to us, was described to each person. A very nice touch.
So, we had:
  • Steak Tartare with pumpernickle crostini
  • Sweet Corn Soup with a seared Sea Scallop
  • Duck Muscovit with roasted figs
  • Sea Bass with Chantarelle mushrooms
  • Huckleberry Crisp
All of it was excellent and I was pleased to find that they had 3 different Cabernet Francs to choose from. Cab Francs are hard to find, even in restaurants with large wine lists. We enjoyed one from Domaine des Corbillieres of the 2002 vintage.
Dinner was delicious, but the chatting was better. I got to show off pictures of our kids that, to my wife's surprise, I had on my phone and saw pictures of their baby, their dog Ronin (a totally bad ass name).

I also learned that I can fit four grown adults in my MINI - I gave them a ride to their hotel, instead of making them walk the six (or nine) blocks. I also learned something - all the people that have said that they think a MINI is cute, that is just their way of saying "badass."

I am still impressed with how quickly we can get from our house to downtown Seattle. On a Friday night, it took us less than 40 minutes to get all the way to the restaurant, including finding parking. There is no way we could have done that in the Bay Area.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

So close to Seattle!

Our new community is so cool; we are so close to Seattle.  In less than 30 minutes we can be in Seattle. That is such an improvement over where we lived in the Bay Area.  So, for breakfast this morning, we decided to go to the Hi Spot Café in Madrona.
Hi Spot is a really great place that my friend Roger took us to when we were house hunting.  There is a sign in list and the wait was almost an hour, but the breakfast was great.  The cinnamon rolls are huge – our kids couldn’t finish them.
Afterwards, we drove back to the Eastside and looked for Trader Joes.  That is another really cool place.  What was especially cool is that we found a Basil plant – for some reason fresh herbs are hard to find in grocery stores around here. We’ve planted 8 pots of herbs, so once they get started; we’ll have our own in-house.  I picked up some frozen quiches to take to work to have in the freezer for lunch and some wasabi cashews.  
I went for a run after we got home and then started dinner.  I made a pesto (not with the TJ’s basil, but some from our neighbor’s co-op farm) with shrimp and farfalle.  I found a recipe for pesto in one of our cookbooks, In Nonna’s Kitchen, that said that the best way, the authentic way, to make it was in a mortar and pestle.  So, I whipped out  my mortar and threw the garlic and toasted walnuts in.  Smashing them wasn’t so difficult, but once I was supposed to add the basil leaves, I started to run out of space and patience for mashing with a pestle.  I gave up on being authentic and busted out the food processor and was done in nary minutes.
Dinner was a great success and I followed it up with Root Beer Floats.  The kids really enjoyed them and now my tummy is pleasantly filled.  As I write this, I’ve got Miles Davis on my stereo and my wife is sitting across from me, doing something on Craigslist.  A full tummy, happy kids, great tunes, a beautiful wife; ahh, life is good.

Cooking for hours

Last night, I made an Empanada recipe from Cooking Light. It took forever to make, involving an extra trip to the grocery store, marinating, making dough and then baking.
I started at about 4:30, preparing the marinade. When I cut into the package of pork tenderloin, I was greeted by a funky smell. Upon further inspection the best by date was the seventh, so I asked Heather to take a whiff. Well, her nose isn't all that particular, but she went with the "when in doubt, throw it out." So out went the core of the dinner.
I dashed out the door, and hopped in my MINI for a quick trip to the grocery store. Now, we are still new and I haven't figured out where everything is at our QFC. I found all the marinated tenderloins in one corner of the pork section, but I couldn't find any plain ones. I had to ask and they were just on the other end of the pork section - like 2 and ahalf feet away. Duh.
I had to go over to the produce section and had to pass through the wine section. I was perusing the shelves and ran into an employee (figuratively speaking) - it was the Wine Steward. It is pretty cool that QFC has a wine steward; it will be a nice way to learn more about Washington wines. It is always enjoyable to talk to someone knowledgeable about wines. That doesn't mean that I am knowledgable, but to quote Jay-Z, "I know a little bit."
So, I came home and finished the marinade. It had to rest for two hours and I had to make some pastry dough for the crust. It, too, had to rest for about 30 minutes. Once the meat was done, I had to cook it for about 30 minutes and then fill the crust and bake it for 30 minutes more.
Empanadas are best eaten at room temperature, but we didn't wait for that. So at 9:05 PM we sat down for dinner. And after all that work, it wasn't so great.
Every once in a while, Cooking Light has some real stinkers, and they are always the recipes that take forever to prepare. I still really like Cooking Light as a source for recipes, though and I'll still faithfully subscribe to the magazine.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Boys Day

Today, my wife and daughter did a girls-day and went shopping for dresses for the upcoming wedding. So, the boys and I, we had a boys day. First, we went to Blockbuster and returned some of the movies we had rented.
While we were there, we asked the girl behind the counter where to go for a milk shake. She suggested a burger joint in the same shopping mall, so we went over there and ordered three shakes. Being in the ice cream industry, of course, I asked who made their ice cream. The guy behind the counter said, “It’s just soft serve,” pointing at the machine in the corner. Milkshakes are supposed to be made with real ice cream! It wasn’t like the milkshakes were bad, they just weren’t a great milk shake. Soft serve isn’t real ice cream, unless you are buying the stuff that my company makes. How is that for a shameless plug. The kids still had a good time. Boy thing number 1 – eating.
When we came back to my car, we found that my car had made a friend. We hopped in and did something else that boys do – we drove. We had to drop of a digital cable box in Redmond, so we took the back way – a winding road and had a blast driving. On our way there, a red MINI Cooper with the Union Jack roof graphics fell in behind us. It was an older couple and when they drove past, we waved at them and he honked and she waved at us. Owning a MINI gets you into a friendly club.
We got home and decided we would go for a walk and explore (boy thing number 3) some of the trails in the area. We walked for a long time and found two playgrounds, heard things in the woods, found something that appears to be bear scat. Our new neighborhood is cool and there are all kinds of trails to walk on. We were not far from people’s back yards, but it felt like we were deep in the woods.
After we got home again, boy thing number 4 – we played video games. After a while, we decided that my wife wasn’t going to be home any time soon, so we started setting up the stereo (boy thing number 5) and then ordered pizza (boy thing number 6). We drove to Fall City to Sahara Pizza to pick it up and then drove home. I’ll go there again, for both the pizza and the drive.
My wife finally did come home, but no dress for the wedding. I guess that means there’ll be more boys days in the future.

A life of the cloth

My wife’s sister is getting married at the end of the month.  This week, I was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church so that I could perform the ceremony.  I am pretty honored to be asked to do it, but at the same time, I am little worried about what to say.
If you’ve got any ideas for how a ceremony would be laid out, leave a comment.  I’d really appreciate it.
I think in the end, it will all work out okay.  I’ll talk with them and figure out what they would like and then help them out with their ceremony.