Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last bite of the holidays

Here it is, the last of the cookie recipes.

That only took a week.

These have white chocolate instead of real chocolate. But they were still quite popular with the work crowd, the family crowd and the friend crowd.
They were tiny, but packed with lots of flavor.

I may just have to break out this recipe for cookies with white chocolate, cranberries and macadamias even when it is not Christmas.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Going green

I am still catching up with recipes from the past week or so.

There is still another cookie recipe to post, but I wanted to get some real food posts done.

So here is a great recipe for chile verde that I made on Christmas Eve. I wanted chile and usually make a red chili with beans and ground beef. But this version with green chiles, tomatillos, pork and potatoes sounded like a nice change.
Wrap some up in a tortilla with some rice and cheese and you have a delicious burrito. Or just eat it from the bowl like a stew.
It was perfect for the cold snap we had last week, and it makes great leftovers to go in the freezer for later.
So I made a huge pot of it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No tough cookies here

Monday was a very busy and productive day for me.
I think I did in one day what usually takes me three or four days to accomplish.

I cleaned house and made "Sunday dinner" and baked cookies. Four kinds of cookies.

It was an excellent day for it, cold and rainy and gray.

Once my cleaning was done I went to the market to stock up on the essentials: butter, flour, brown sugar, nuts and chocolate.

I have two of the cookie selections posted already over at the food blog. These are both pretty easy, but tasty and definite crowd-pleasers:

Oatmeal-pecan shortbread with chocolate

Oatmeal-fruit bars

Huh. I just realized the oatmeal-oatmeal thing.

But the shortbread does not seem like an oatmeal cookie. The oats just give it a nice texture and a little nuttier flavor.

And I have posted the shortbread recipe here and on the food blog before, but since I fancied them up with chocolate, I figured they deserve another mention here.

The oatmeal fruit bars? Those are all about the oats. My favorite part of those is the crumbly oaty part. Yum. Maybe the butter in there has something to do with that.

OK. I have some chores and errands today. But at some point I will post the other cookies on the food blog and flag them here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bacon, eggs and pasta. Perfect!

I have recently taken a liking to spaghetti carbonara.

Why had I never had this before?

I am not sure. But now that I know how good it is, and really pretty easy, I will make it a lot.

My version of spaghetti carbonara is made up of small bits of several other recipes. And it is awesome: rich and creamy and so satisfying.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy, happy birthday...

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Sissy
Happy birthday to you!!!!!

That's for my awesome sister.

I hope you have a great day. See you Sunday!

Last year at this time

I decided to see if I posted on this date last year.

I did.

It was a happy post about doing adopt a family for the holidays.

I am a little sad that I did not do adopt a family this year. I decided that with the unstable job situation, the economy and all that I needed to scale back on stuff.

The shopping for specific people was fun, but I tended to get carried away and spend more than I planned.

Instead, I am just doing a few small things this year:

--I put a big bag of food in the food bank donation bin at work.
--I bought a couple pounds of coffee to at Starbucks to be sent to the troops in Iraq
--I have not yet done this, but have plans to go buy $50 worth of toys Monday to donate to Toys for Tots.

It is not much in the grand scheme of things. But it is something, I think.

Because I know that even with my own worries, I am pretty darned lucky.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Concert clips

Juts a quick post to add a couple video clips from Sunday night's concert, Night 2 of KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas.

You will tell from the videos that it was really not at all acoustic.

First up:

Franz Ferdinand singing "Take Me Out."

Next is The Killers singing "Human."

That is all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

KROQ's not even close to acoustic Christmas

I am not much of a concert goer. The last concert I went to was New Year's Eve a few years back when the manfriend won tickets to a Gnarls Barkley/Flaming Lips show at USC's Galen Center, which is the fairly small arena where they have basketball games and the like.

But this year I was in the mood to see some live music. And I was able to score a couple tickets to KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas.

The popular Los Angeles radio station puts on a couple shows that benefit Para los Ninos, a children's charity.

The venue, the Gibson, is fairly small with just over 6,000 seats. Ticket sales are tightly regulated by the station and Ticketmaster to try to keep brokers from getting a bunch and then selling them at huge markups.

So when they went on sale Thursday evening, I was not holding my breath that I would get any.

It was a pleasant surprise when I was able to get two, albeit for not-so-great seats. But the venue was small and the acoustics were good.

The other fun thing was that Kim, my friend from work, also got a ticket. Since she bought one seat, she was able to get a spot in a lower section and closer to the stage.

We made a plan for her to meet at my house and then she, MF and I would go up to Universal City (about 30 miles from my place) together.

We got there, parked and then found the Gibson. It is next to Universal Studios and the retail/restaurant complex known as Universal Citywalk. Since we had some time, we stopped at a restaurant and had a couple drinks before going to the show.

Once we had a happy little buzz going, we wandered back to the theater and checked out the scene outside. There was a large stage where KROQ DJs were interviewing some of the musicians. There also were people passing out beads, glow sticks and a heavily tattooed elf handing out candy canes.

Really. I just have no words for
this picture. The elf, the giant, the tattoos...
Would you like some candy, big boy?
This is MF, all 6'9" of him, with the candy cane elf. The poor elf. His initial reaction to seeing me, 6' tall, and MF was to jump back a bit in shock. But he was a good sport about having his picture taken with someone twice his height.

We also stopped to get shirts and more refreshments. By this point we had missed the opening act, Vampire Weekend. I don't think any of us were that bummed since none of us had really heard of the band before. Though I may check them out online later to see what I missed.

The first band we saw was Snow Patrol. Normally I can take or leave this when I hear it on the radio. But they did sound better live than I would have imagined.

Of course, the situation for taking photos was not ideal. But I gave it a go.

Up next was Scott Weiland. We watched for a couple songs then Kim and I, via text, decided to take a break.

Franz Ferdinand came out next. I have always liked them because they are upbeat and catchy. I had never entertained the idea of seeing them live though. But they were good. The crowd had been fairly tame up to that point, but they got more people on their feet. This set was one of the highlights for me.

KROQ pretty much always throws in an unbilled performance. The surprise guest for our show: Kanye West. It seemed like an odd fit to me (and not usually what I listen to), but he had the crowd bouncing.

Paramore, the only group with any estrogen, came on after Kanye.
Yeah, they were not my favorite. They have a couple songs on the radio that are OK, but not at all my favorite. We listened to a couple songs, but this was another good time for a break.

Another band about which I am ambivalent is Death Cab for Cutie. I mean, other than thinking they have a fairly dumb band name, I don't pay too much attention to the music when it comes on the radio. I don't change the station, but I don't sing along either.
Seems they had a decent following at this show though, several people were up, dancing along to the music. I liked the guy's green beanie.

The camera pretty much did what it wanted in the conditions of constantly moving musicians, erratic lighting and me being far away from the action.
Here is one of my nice blur shots. What is it? Who knows.

Finally, it was time for the Killers. Kim was very excited about the chance to see this band. With good reason. They came out with a song from their new album, but then gave a really good mix of stuff from their older discs. And the crowd was really into it.
I had seen them years ago on SNL and I was not sure about how they would be live, based on that. They were great live. They sounded really good. This and Franz Ferdinand were the highlights for me.

The last band up was The Cure, a band that was very popular way back in my high school days in the late 80's. I was wondering if they would make me feel young again or old.
They made me feel kind of old.
Don't get me wrong, they sounded great. Robert Smith can still deliver, which he did with the lovely "Pictures of You" right up front. But the vibe was much more mellow.
And we all were fading. So we decided to leave before the end of the show. Kim told me earlier today that she heard they played for two hours. There was no way I was going to make it two hours and then drive home.
So yeah, maybe I am old.
But all in all, it was a great evening. We got back to my place and I capped my night with a bourbon and dropped into a lovely deep sleep at about 1 a.m.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Currying flavor

I wanted to make this roasted cauliflower with curry the other day.

I ended up creating a whole meal around it.

It's easy and it's tasty. Which is a tough combination to beat.

The curry is not strong here. But if it is not your thing, just make the recipe without the curry.

It's still good.

Starting over, in a way

So I started my new job last week.
It's not really like a whole new job since I work at the same place, just in a different department now.
But it has left me zapped of any creativity and energy.
The first week was watching other people work basically.
Most of the stuff I did in my last job doesn't not apply in the new job. It's all new software to do the work and all new ways of thinking about things.

I have felt displaced without a real workstation of my own. I got tired of waiting for "them" to come move my computer, so I did it myself over the weekend.

But I still have no phone at the new desk. I still feel unsettled. I am still learning the people and the new dynamic after three years of being so at ease with the people in my old department.

And I have felt pretty useless at my job. Which I hate.

I like to be busy. I like to fill the day so the day goes faster.

I know that as I get better with the new processes, it will get better in general.

I had a little "aha" moment tonight. After wondering all day if I had done the right thing and wondering if I would get this and be able to do the most basic things, I had the "aha" moment.

I can do this. It will become second nature.

Just like the process in the old job, this stuff will sink into my skull and become second nature.

Now if only I could get a phone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just say no to rugs

I saw this van at a neighbor's house the other day.

I guess they were able to kick their rug habit.

Me? I kicked my rug habit years ago.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting stuffed

I'm finally starting to get back in the swing of things at home.
That includes cooking.

I've made a few yummy things that I want to put over on the food blog.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

28, 29, 30 - addendum

I was trying to post these last two videos in the previous entry.

It was taking too long. Maybe I had too many other photos and videos in there already.

This is a little video above is of the crazy yellow-fin snappers at Coki Beach during our last beach dive.

They were literally on our fins and in our faces.

This is what happens when people feed the fish.

Really, it's amusing.

I took a moment toward the end of our beach dive at Coki to look up and check out how the light was filtering through the water.

When I did, I saw this guy swimming at the surface.

It did not take him long to swim deeper, coming within about 1o feet of me. Then he meandered leisurely on his way.

OK. That is all for the addendum.

28, 29, 30

OK. Wrapping it up, boss.

These are photos, videos and details from the last three dives of the St. Thomas trip.

We did our two boat dives, then, wanting to see the Coki Beach area by day after the night dive the previous evening, we talked Peter into giving us a couple full tanks to do a quick spin around Coki.

Before the dive we hung out with one of the beach cats.

Then off to the first site.

Grassy Cay, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 28
Max depth: 65 feet
Bottomtime: 52 minutes

Below is a video snippet of manfriend's macho back roll.

And then the second site.

Lovongo Cay, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 29
Max depth: 55 feet
Bottomtime: 50 minutes

And finally Coki to finish off the trip.

Coki Beach, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 30
Max depth: 45 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes

From here on out I get lazy. You just get a photo blog. Captions, if I write them will be under the photos. And there are a couple little videos in there.

So really, you should keep reading.

We actually saw these dolphins later into the second dive. But I wanted to post them toward the top here to make sure people stuck around long enough to see them. Manfriend took the photo. I was too in awe to collect myself enough to use the camera. Plus these babies were cruising by pretty fast.
They were also far away, but he got a decent shot.

MF, who is fascinated by anemones, took the two photos above.

This is MF's picture of an eel that I spotted tucked into a crevice.

I like this shot of coral, also by MF. Something about the grayness of it is so nice.
From here down are my shots. They will not all have captions.

This is a detail of a sea fan. I like the lacy look of them.

On the beach dive from Coki, we were followed, quite closely, by a large group of yellow-fin snappers. Turns out they get fed by the snuba people and the snorklers and some divers. So they did not just really, really like us. They were moochers.

What IS it? So fascinating.

This video is of a tube worm swaying with the current. They look like plants or flowers until you get too close and they WHOOSH! pull themselves back into their tubes.
That is the tube some sort of tube worm retracts back into.

My eel picture.
Yes, another.

Stop light parrot fish. Love these guys.

Again, what the heck IS it?

My two brains. I liked the contrasting colors of these brain corals. A meeting of the minds.

Here is the turtle from the Coki dive. I looked up, just to see what the light looked like, and saw him swimming over head. As I shot the video, he swam deeper, coming down just to the side of me. This is some really nice footage.

This guy runs a daquiri stand at Coki Beach. He was quite friendly and made a mean daquiri. He said this concoction, the Island Girl, was the specialty. It had strawberries, pineapple, mango, banana and rum. Maybe some other stuff. But once I heard rum I really stopped listening and just said "Yes, please!"

And yeah, it was awesome. This was my end-of-diving treat.

Now, even though I have been home for more than a week, it is just about time to bring this blog back to reality.

One more post, probably tomorrow, of some here-and-there shots around the island.