Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Birthday To You! And Other Events ....

Okay, we know that we haven't posted in a long while, but it's been pretty crazy-busy, between work (mid-term time for Lauren), and work (ramp-up to being productive after training). Between dodging the winter weather and bad drivers, it's been a challenge simply getting up in the morning to make the near-2 hour commute down to KC and back. But it's been worth it; the new job is going wonderfully, and it's nice to finally be with a company that appreciates my skills.

So, in the meantime, what's happening with us? Well, we're planning to travel and simply do things, because March will bring with it our one year wedding anniversary. Hard to believe that a year ago, we were ramping up to March 17th, planning, sending invites, picking colors, setting up the hotel and venues. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

Anyway, we're not going very far, unlike a certain fellow friend and blogger who is going to India for 3 weeks. No, our trips will be a bit shorter this year: in April, we are looking at a weekend trip to Kirksville, MO for an SCA event (we're not members, but we thought it sounded cool to go to, so we're going), and then in May, we plan on heading up to Illinois around Memorial Day, where we'll do an outdoor memorial (now that it's warmer) for Pat, Lauren's mom. Somewhere in there, we hope to spend a weekend in KC to celebrate our anniversary.

Finally, in July, we are planning to go out to Blacksburg, VA, as a longtime friend of Lauren's is celebrating her 60th birthday and possibly (she should know by then) getting tenure from Virginia Tech, her current college. That will mean a trip out and back; due to the smaller size of the nearest airport at Roanoke, 3/4ths of it will be on regional jet (cramped, but reasonably priced). Still, it will be worth it; we hope to do some historical sightseeing and some local winery research, as well as the birthday and tenure celebration.

Speaking of birthdays, it was almost a year ago that we adopted Snowball, following the demise of Kitty. Here's a pic taken the day after we adopted her:

She has grown considerably, so we thought we would post a picture of her now:

The concensus is that she's a little odd looking in some ways, but she's still the sweetest kitteh we've owned in a long time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Okay, So I'm a Little Disappointed ....

Given the announcement a couple of days ago that, in the reshuffling of release dates following the writer's strike resolution, Paramount has pushed back the release date for the next Star Trek movie to May of 2009, rather than Christmas of this year, it means one less movie to look forward to, and it is a little disappointing.

However, I am hoping that with the writer's strike resolved, that this means Abrams will have extra time for polish, (including updating any potential rough spots with the script, more time for VFX, and more time in the editing bays), so that the movie has a better chance of succeeding at the box office.

And I also hope that this means we will get a final last half of the season for Battlestar Galactica, and a well thought-out end to the series as well.

Still, there is still a lot to look forward to this year. Earlier this week, I was able to catch the just-released trailer for Indiana Jones 4, and it looks great (although it is disconcerting to see Ford as Indy at the actor's current age). Oh well ... to quote Indy from the original Raiders: "It's not the years, it's the mileage."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chocolate Festival

Today marked an annual Maryville tradition. As a fundraiser for the local Presbyterian Church's food kitchen, the women of the church put on a chocolate festival right before Valentine's Day. In the week before it, they make enough chocolate to rival Willy Wonka, producing everything from cakes to pies to chocolate covered cherries to brownies to cookies ... you name it, they have it for sale.

For a donation, you can also sample plated samples of their wares, as well as hot chocolate, chocolate-flavored coffee, chocolate-flavored tea (this year a chocolate raspberry combination), and, of course, melty chocolate from a chocolate fountain.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Quick Restaurant Note

Tonight we had dinner at Napoli's, a new Italian restaurant in town that replaced two former Mexican restaurants (and before it, a Country Kitchen) in the location adjoining the local Comfort Inn. Since it opened, the parking lot has been packed, so I convinced Lauren that we ought to try it out.

What we found was a place that serves very reasonably priced, very authentic Italian cuisine. Lauren had the Chicken Lemon (kind of like a Chicken Piccata), while I had their "works" spaghetti: meatballs, mushrooms, meat sauce, and Italian sausage (which also provided the seasoning). That was topped off with a stuffed dessert cannoli cream, which we split.

As I remarked to my wife as we left, "now if we could only get a decent Indian restaurant in town, we'd be in great shape" (Fuji, in St. Joseph, covers Japanese cuisine pretty well).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's Nice to Know Even the Forecaster Can Be Wrong ....

We weren't supposed to get snow today ... mostly freezing fog. However, the conditions have changed enough that we're getting snow this afternoon. Unlike most of the snow we've gotten so far this winter, which has been of the "small flakes or small flakes mixed with freezing precipitation" variety, we've been getting big, fluffy flakes of of the winter wonderland variety instead.

It's almost enough to make me like winter again.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Strange Dreams, etc.

Sorry about the lack of recent posting, but the last couple of days have been rather hectic for both of us. Monday found Lauren headed to Jefferson City with two busloads of students for Child Advocacy Day at the Missouri Statehouse. Although we hadn't planned on it, the timing was such that the bus dropped her off at Hazel's, a longtime independent coffeeshop in St. Joe, and I was able to leave work, head up to St. Joe, and pick her up to take her to dinner that evening.

The remainder of the week went by rather rapidly, or at least it's gone that way because of the below zero wind-chills, which have done much to encourage getting home as quickly as possible and making one's way straight to bed. Of course, that gets interesting when you start having strange dreams: in my case, one night I'd concocted a mash-up of Battlestar Galactica and Enterprise, with a harried Trip Tucker being chased by a determined Caprica Six. Utterly strange. And Lauren's been having some strange dreams, too. Those I blame on the NyQuil she's been taking. I'm not sure where mine came from.

This week's also been a bit of a cooking week: with the temperatures encouraging us to stay indoors, I've been finding the time to cook a bit. Wednesday night, I made a West African soup-inspired peanut curry recipe I found off one of my favorite recipe websites, the Simply Recipes! blog, which was an instant hit with Lauren (hey, it had curry, it had cilantro, it had mint, and it had creamy peanut butter ... what wasn't there not to like?).

On Friday, the development team I sit with held yet another potluck. I've been with them a little over two months, and they've had two potlucks and one team dinner for the holiday. These are my kind of software developers.

Friday's potluck was the "Security Siesta", so named because the team I work for supports the security side of the software the company sells, the theme for the potluck was Mexican, and because it would be a break from work. Yours truly brought Chicken Mole ... a bit of chocolaty-BBQ sauced goodness made quite easy with the crockpot. I cooked the chicken the night before, then got up early to shred the chicken in the morning and mix in the mole sauce (okay, I confess, I cheated ... rather than do a scratch mole sauce, I used Dona Ana's pre-made sauce, except I livened it up a bit with some extra cocoa (Hershey's Dark), a little bit of creamy peanut butter, and some Splenda to cut the edge on the sauce.) It was received pretty well; I had exactly 1 bowl left afterward, which became Lauren's dinner Friday evening.

This morning found us getting a break from the cold weather (finally!), and it was a good day for sleeping in. Lauren's been feeling a little bit under the weather due to that cold, but it had warmed up enough this morning that we could scatter seeds for the side garden, after which I realized it had thawed enough outside that I could do another raking of branches (from the ice storm), and sawdust (from the tree we had to have removed following the ice storm). The lawn's not 100 percent back to where it was (we still have to replace the trellis that the drunk driver took out), but all in all, the lawn's looking a bit better than it was before Christmas.

Lauren also put out new seedlings in the phonebooth-sized greenhouse she keeps out on the back porch. After that, she headed back to bed, which is where I will likely go here shortly ... we'll both need to be in good shape to watch the game tomorrow (well, at least I'll be watching the game ... Lauren will be watching it for the commercials). I must admit, we're going for the "reasonably healthy" for game-day snacks: buffalo wings with fat-free blue cheese dressing and guacamole accompanied by multi-grain tortilla chips for snacking. I might even be tempted to pull out a pack of chicken-spinach sausages to grill on the George Foreman in lieu of the usual brats.