Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007


OK, it's over and the Packers lost. And Brett got hurt.
Good things:
--Rodgers looked pretty good.
--Everyone played well except for all the penalties
--It was not an embarrassing performance

at least the food was good!

Packer Kitty can't bear to watch

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Showdown in Big D

I am so not going to be able to concentrate on work tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anticipation Aggravation

Just stocking up for Thursday.......arrrrgh, it's killing me!

I think I'll go light a candle too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

LA Auto Show and Why I Hate People

Friday we took our somewhat annual trek to check out the LA Auto Show at the LA Convention Center downtown.

One of the traditions is to take the Metro downtown. So we hopped on the Money (green) Line in Redondo Beach then transfered to the Crip (blue) Line which drops us a block from the Convention Center. On the return trip, Dale got stopped by the Transit Police for not having the correct ticket. The fare structure changed since we last rode, so we bought the wrong tickets. D'oh!

Although we do check out the cars at the show, the main reason we go is to check out the exhibits. Dale's employer designs and manufactures most of the exhibits--in fact, the company "invented" the whole auto show concept way back when. I finally get to see all the stuff I hear about in the months prior to the show. This year many of the auto makers had totally redesigned their exhibits, so I wanted to check the new ones out.

One of the exhibit trends this year was the use of what is called an "LED wall". Thousands of tiny LED's (about 1/8" square and spaced about 1/2" apart) are mounted on horizontal bars. Thousands of these horizontal bars are then stacked vertically to form a panel. The panels are then suspended and form a sort of humongous tee-vee screen that displays images. It was pretty impressive. I think it would be neat to get a 4 foot square one for the house--ambient mood lighting.

This is a not so good example but you get the idea.

The car I wanted to check out was VW's SpaceUp. Sort of like "honey I shrunk the VW bus". It will come in an all electric model, I sure would like that. I thought I had heard that VW was going to bring back the Scirocco, but I didn't see any evidence of that at the show. Overall, the exhibits were good, but not too many cool concept cars.

Space Up! Elf Up! Mep.

VW's "paint and trim" display was pretty clever.

Another of our Auto Show traditions is having a "Tijuana Dog" at one of the street vendor carts along Pico Blvd. A jumbo hotdog wrapped in bacon and then fried on a flattop griddle. Served with griddled onions and peppers....street food doesn't get better than that. Imagine our disappointment when we saw NO vendors on the street. Maybe there was a crack down or something. We were so bummed.

From time to time I have been known to say "I hate people". I try to be a lover, not a hater, but sometimes my fellow humans just let me down. This isn't when someone cuts me off in traffic or the clerk at the store cannot communicate with me in English. Nah..that's just the price of doing business nowadays and I just let it go.
No, I'm talking here about incredibly self-centered behavior, complete breakdowns of common sense and the utter disregard of human civility.
An example would be a parent that sits their diapered child's rear end on the counter at the store. Or someone who thinks it is OK to park their RV in front of your house. For a year.
Well this one pretty much takes the cake in the "I hate people" category. Last week, after the first or second day of the Auto Show, Dale gets a super rush order to make a new wheel sign because they had to swap out the Honda Odyssey that was on the show floor with another one. It seems that someone took a crap in the cup holder. Repeat after me...."I hate people".

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Time Travel

Thanksgiving was pretty low-key. Neither of us has any family in the area and our friends have their own family doings, so our day was a quiet one.
The day began with the Packer-Lions game at 9:30am. The guys played a nearly flawless game that continues to show the team's talent. This coming Thursday's game against Dallas, another 10-1 team, will be exciting. Wednesday night I made a Cranberry Coffeecake to eat as we watched the game.

I also made this nice frittata to eat during half-time.

Since we had no "real" plans for a Thanksgiving feast, last week when I asked Dale what we should do, he said "Let's go to The Mermaid." So that is what we did.

The Mermaid Restaurant is a trip back in time to the 1950's Southern California beach city culture. It sits at the end of Pier Avenue facing The Strand in Hermosa Beach. It is a dive bar in the sense that you pretty much go there to drink, not for the ambience--even though it faces the ocean. It is not a sleezy place, although it does have patrons that are euphemistically known as "characters" or "local color". This is the kind of place that has "regulars". The restaurant is of the dinner house type with Naugahyde booths, a piano bar, and a somewhat nautical motif. Steaks, chops, fish, shrimp cocktails as well as burgers and sandwiches. "Mystery soup" is listed under the soup choices--you gotta love that. The food is considered quite good, is reasonably priced, and has a loyal following.

The Mermaid is the kind of place you might not venture into on your own. Even though I have lived in this area for close to 30 years, the first time I went in was about five years ago with Dale. Dale's Mermaid experience goes way back to the early '70s when his family first moved to this area. Eventually he ended up working at The Mermaid for many years, parking cars and bussing tables. Dale has many stories about his time there--a big, dysfunctional family atmosphere.

The soul of The Mermaid was its owner, Boots. Originally from South Dakota, he bought the place in 1954, and never changed a thing since. By all accounts he was a no-nonsense crusty old guy with a heart of gold. He had his ways and his rules and that was that. If you didn't like it, you could leave. He did not tolerate swearing and kicked out boisterous patrons.
He passed away this past July at age 85.

Because of Boots' passing, the fate of The Mermaid is uncertain as is the fate of the huge chunk of beach-front property he owned. Good Stuff (you can still see it on Baywatch re-runs), The Poopdeck, and The Mermaid take up about a block of prime real estate fronting The Strand, and he also owned about a half of the block east of the beach. These properties represent the last hold outs to the Hermosa Beach Pier, I mean "beautification" plan. Everything else is all bright and shiny for the scenesters from wherever. The Mermaid was the last example of the way things used to be down at the beach. The developers are salivating. The price tag is 27 million dollars. The heirs might not be able to pay the estate taxes. We'll see how this plays out.

OK...enough of the depressing stuff and on to THE FOOD!

In addition to the regular menu, there was a special Thanksgiving prix-fix menu. $13.95--a bargain!

I started with a KetelOne on the rocks....hey...when in Rome!
First up was soup. We chose the special soup--Cream of Sweet Potato. WOW, this was so good! Nice and thick, it was pretty much just pureed sweet potatoes.
Next was salad....huge plates of fresh leaf lettuce--none of that frou-frou mesclun mix here! My bleu cheese dressing had lots of big chunks of cheese.

The entrees were tasty as well. A scoop of potatoes, a mound of stuffing with 4 thick slices of turkey on top, gravy, a piece of sweet potato, and a couple stray veggies made the plate. Everything had a nice, fresh home-style flavor to it. I was 100% satisfied. We took our pumpkin pie to go.

After dinner, we took a little stroll on The Strand to work off a few calories, and reminisced on the beachy times of old.

(P.S. For some unknown reason, you have to click twice on the BOOTS link to get to the correct page. Make the effort, it is a nice story to read) Here is a subsequent update to this story.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful........4

Oh yeah!

As I prepared this post, I discovered I really DO have something to be thankful for: some Blogger enhancements that no longer make me the red-headed Mac stepchild! PTL and pass the mashed potatoes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Comfort Food Sunday

Sunday evenings at Fartwood Manor are usually spent watching the wonderful animated offerings of the Fox Network. From 6pm until 9pm we learn the wisdom of Hank Hill (I can't believe Cotton died!), cringe at the bad jokes of Family Guy, and luxuriate in the glory that is The Simpsons.
I usually try to have dinner on the TV table by 6 so we can eat and watch the shows.
Last night I made one of my old-school favorites: roast pork loin, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. When I was growing up, this was one of my family's favorite meals--one of my Mom's specialties. She made it in a Nesco roaster, so I guess it really wasn't technically "roasted" but more like "a la poele". I cooked mine in the oven in one of those little blue enamel covered roasting pans, since I don't have a Nesco.
I made a paste of Penzey's Shallot Salt, rubbed sage, black pepper and a little olive oil and massaged it into the pork. I cooked it at 325 degrees for a little over an hour (it was a small loin) until 160 degrees on the instant read. One thing I notice is that back in the day, the pork roasts had this nice layer of fat on top that got all crispy and good. I don't see that any more.
I made a nice little gravy with the juices in the pan for the garlic mashed potatoes. No HAS to be corn on the side. The pork was super tender, I was very happy with it. Not quite as good as Mom's but still OK.

A nice crackling fire in the fireplace, pork roast, a new episode of The Simpsons, pumpkin ice cream for dessert AND another Packer doesn't get better than that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Old Bowl

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Tomorrow's greybeard match-up will be interesting to watch. I just hope no one gets hurt.
I'm more worried about 3 games in 12 days time. That's just nuts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

candy heaven

A few weeks ago, I discovered that one of my very-best-favorite candies is available once again--Licorice Snaps!
Oh, don't you go wrinkling up your noses you 70% cacao chocolate addicts--licorice rocks.
Snaps was one of the candies I liked as a kid. They came in a red box. The tubes of soft licorice are covered with a thin sugar glaze. The Snap colors are white, pink, orange, and green.
I pretty much had forgotten about them after my teen years. Then, in the late 80's or so, I spotted them in pound-sized bags at a Pic-N-Save in Milwaukee. These were a little different than what I had remembered--a little thicker and the coating wasn't as fine. Still they were Snaps. I had my folks send me some from time to time through the years.
American Licorice stopped making Snaps in 1999, due mostly to manufacturing issues rather than lack of interest of the consumer. They got things sorted out and reintroduced them in 2002. Yay.
I ordered the Snaps from Old Time Candy. nice and fresh! Soft, chewy and not too sweet. I put them in my desk drawer at work and when I sit down at my desk in the morning the scent of licorice is faintly in the air.
Another good thing about being a licorice lover is that you pretty much don't have to share! But then again, do I REALLY need this two pound bag of candy sitting next to me all day? Dale says "Licorice is for people who don't like candy". Pffft...what does he know?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Leftover Magic

I'm really aware of using up my leftovers. I usually have my week's menus planned out to use everything up, but once in a while I get this odd assortment of ingredients in the fridge. Tonight I needed to connect a cup of rotisserie chicken and three kinds of Mexican cheese.

Eureka! Enchiladas!

I had the cheese leftover from making Green Chile Chilaqiles two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the Panela cheese did not make it. It is a fresh cheese, sort of similar to ricotta or farmer's cheese (sorta). The Manchego and Cojita were fine and I shredded them. (Oh, let's say...10 oz total) Chopped up an onion and half of a chile pepper from my neighbor's garden and let them sweat in some canola oil. Added the shredded chicken and hit it with a half cup of purchased enchilada sauce.
I dipped corn tortillas in some of the heated enchilada sauce and filled the tortillas with the chicken mixture and some of the cheese.
Roll 'em up, place in a casserole that has just a teeny bit of sauce in the bottom, cover with a teeny bit more sauce and cover with some cheese.
375 deg. 20 min or so.
Que Bueno!

I don't make enchiladas very often, but when I have made them in the past, I have made the enchilada sauce from scratch. It is not too hard, but takes a bit of time to toast, soak, and then blenderize the chiles. I was in a little bit of a hurry last night, hence the canned sauce. Maybe I picked the gringo brand or something, but it wasn't that good. I'll stick to my home made sauce.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why Do They Hate The Beatles?

Back in the day Dale was in a band named LUNCH. The band took their inspiration from many sources, including The Beatles. Their repertoire included a few Beatles' covers, my favorite being "Flying". They truly made the songs their own, which to me is the true test of doing a cover song. A listener to Lunch's music once commented "Why do they hate The Beatles?"
Anyway.......Dale came across this awesome video on YouTube and it brought back all the wonderful LUNCH memories...I think these guys found an old LUNCH tape at a garage sale or something, which inspired them to make this video. ENJOY! (brains!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


This blog entry is extremely overdue. But, hey, I'm a busy kinda chick. And lazy. And forgetful.

This past May Dale and I took our first trip to the Pacific NorthWest. We went to Seattle and Portland and a few meanderings between the two. We had planed on a quickie across the border to Vancouver, but the State Department put the kibosh on that -- meaning Dale's passport didn't arrive until a week AFTER we got home.
We had a most excellent trip. The weather was super, only one day of rainy weather. Lots of good food, beautiful scenery, and once we learned to tell people we were from Michigan instead of SoCal--lots of friendly natives. (gosh these folks are touchy....don't worry, I am SO not cool enough to move there...and I DO luv my Mac!)

This is a little photo essay on "How Portland is like Milwaukee". Portland is one awesome little town. A beautiful river, lively neighborhoods, fun, friendly people and lots of cool architecture. Hey, you could say the same about Milwaukee too, aina? I was blown away on the number of similarities between the two towns. OK, except that in Milwaukee you get gun violence and Portland gets Matt Groening. Not fair.

Portland and Milwaukee are both located on rivers which form the core of the city.



The city planners must have bought the same blueprints at "Bridges-R-Us".



(thank you to John December for this photo)

Both cities have similar architecture--bungalows and brick construction.

This Portland firehouse is now a private residence.

This Milwaukee firehouse uses the famous "Cream City" bricks.

Even the city-issued house numbers are the same!



The musical stylings are similar too! Oh wait....maybe not.

Portland has:

Milwaukee's (in)famous son:

The most surprising thing was that PORTLAND HAS BUBBLERS! Well, THEY call 'em "drinking fountains" but they are most definitely bubblers of the classic style. Note the orbs with water "bubbling" out. Now, THAT'S a bubbler!

Portland's bubblers were installed by some teetotaler civic leader way back when to provide sailors on shore leave an alternative to Demon Rum.

A not too fancy Milwaukee example:

Here's Dale's (Mr. Professional-like Website maker) site where you can check out the other cool photos and stuff from our PacNW trip....and see the wonder that is (or was) The Idaho Spud!

Monday, November 5, 2007

City of Torrance Entry for Tournament of Roses

I just got my neighborhood association news flash on the Torrance Rose Float entry. This year they are honoring the Sister City Association. The sister city of Torrance is Kashiwa, Japan. We send people there, they send people here...everyone feels all warm and happy.
Actually, I think I might just volunteer to help on the float. Sounds like fun...I mean, how hard can it be? And they give you a bus ride to the place (which is about an hour away) that's cool. Might be good blog fodder, eh?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cocktails @ Fartwood Manor

"Hey Maw, git me a ginger beer!"

"Mmm, that sounds good, but I think I'll have some cider."

So I get the cider and beer from the fridge, and I think:

"Hmmm....I wonder what would happen if I mixed them together?"

Well, I'll tell get a really great drink! Nice and apple-y but still with the bite of the ginger.

We go through A LOT of ginger beer around here. If you like ginger, give any of the Reed's products a try. No HFCS...yay!

The Packer game was exciting today. I only got a little bit of a stomach-ache there at the end, but they pulled it out with that INT. Not too bad after a short week, too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Spooktacular...and yummy too

On Sunday we had a dry-run of the haunt. We do it mainly to make sure the foggers are operational. No fog=bad haunt. This also enables friends with their own Halloween-night activities a chance to see the haunt fully operational.
This year I made a big pot of Posole Rojo. Just what was needed on a crisp fall evening.
You would think with the quantity of chiles the posole would be super hot, but it wasn't. In fact I added a little cayenne and a few shakes of chipotle powder right before serving to give it a little heat. There is a huge difference between Mexican oregano and Greek oregano. Search out the Mexican variety if you can. I get mine at Penzey's
You might notice the lack of toppings. Against my better judgement, I bought avocados from New Zealand. They were awful and I couldn't use them. California Avocados Uber Alles. I used cabbage instead of the lettuce and I totally spaced on the onions. The "home made" tortilla strips really do make the dish.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Last night was show time over here at The Fartwood Cemetery. All the months of preparation came together flawlessly. We had a clear, mild fall evening to make it even better.
The kids started coming about 6:30 and there was a steady flow of goblins, witches, and Spidermen throughout the evening. Even King Tut visited us. Many people stopped by and told us they had been watching and waiting to see the haunt for weeks.
Dale got two votes of "tight" and one "sick" from the local teenagers. So I guess that's good, huh? I overheard one kid say "Mom! It's a MILITARY" Instead of "cemetery". That was cute.
The fog was really pumping. At some points you could not see across the street.

Here's a shot of a few weeks ago when we first put up the fence. This gives a good "before" image.

One new thing this year was the addition of a second gate, with the hopes it would provide better traffic flow. We put down a path of cedar mulch over the grass to delineate the way to go. Dale decided he needed some fall leaves to lend authenticity, so we found some maple trees in town and raked us up some leaves.

Here's a shot of the completed yard in daylight.

The Cryptmaster

Some close-ups of the props

What would happen in Insane Killer Klown and Hoochie Mama had a baby? It would be Pooh Bear! Who knew?!?

Dale and Mother Superior. Good thing she forgot her ruler.

We knocked it off about 9pm. Dale had counted 270 kids had been there. As we cleaned up the yard, we listened to our traditional broadcast of "War of the Worlds". A spooky and fun night was had by all. Plus we got a little candy leftover =)