Tickets to Portugal! New travel website found!

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:34 pm

So I always thought of myself as pretty savvy when it comes to online travel deals, but fortuitously enough, today I stumbled upon Lowestravel.com. I put in our planned travel dates and, just for the hell of it, I put in Cedar Rapids as the starting point. I love flying out of Cedar Rapids–it’s just a short drive from home, small and easy to navigate, security’s a breeze. Unfortunately, a lot of times it adds $250 to your ticket. We were pretty well resigned to flying out of Chicago or Minneapolis.

But! Dig this! We got tickets flying out of Cedar Rapids for about the same price as the very best deal flying out of Minneapolis. Most of the tickets out of Chicago or Minneapolis that we priced out during the research phase were a couple hundred bucks more than the deal we got.

Another thing I like about Lowestravel.com is that even though it looked like a Priceline or Hotwire-style site at first (e.g., not telling you what airline you were flying or the exact flight times or connections), you could find those things out before you progress to the point of paying. We’ll be flying Cedar Rapids > Minneapolis > Amsterdam > Lisbon, which is much less convoluted of a trip than some of the major carriers suggested (such as Cedar Rapids > Detroit > Newark > London > Copenhagen > Lisbon. Forget that.).

Also (and this is a real charmer), unlike a lot of flight discounters, you can still get your frequent flyer miles. Denny and I both have miles with Northwest/KLM, which is the airline this trip happens to be on, so that’s just swell.

Have I mentioned I’m excited about going to Portugal?


Daphne saves the day

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:04 pm

I was really getting down about the tsunami. I’m still down about it, but Daphne and Holly came to visit and lifted my spirits considerably.

Daphne knows about camels. *nod*

A bold stance against tsunamis

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:40 am

Well, I’m just going to say it. I don’t care whom I offend. I AM AGAINST TSUNAMIS.

It’s just horrible, really; tens of thousands of people dead, more missing, and many more likely to die of injuries and disease. It got me thinking about September 11, not that horrific events need to be compared necessarily, but it’s the last thing I can think of that seemed to have such a big, world-wide impact.

It made me wonder which is more awful, violence from terrorism or violence from nature. They’re both awful, of course, but they’re different, and I imagine it affects victims and communities differently. In a terrorist attack, you get the sense that the victims were specifically targeted because of something they or the government that represents them did (weak logic, sure, considering the massive civilian death toll surrounding 9/11, but it still implies a motivation. Also, let’s not forget the death toll among Iraqi civilians that continues today. It wouldn’t be a long logical leap to call this war an act of terror. But anyway.).

But nature is morally neutral. There’s nothing those thousands and thousands of people did to motivate the attack. Hell, they weren’t even living in “tsunami country,” whatever that is. Tsunamis are incredibly rare in that part of the world. Sri Lanka, one of the nations hardest hit, is a veritable microcosm of world religion–Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are all well-represented. And yet, it wasn’t religious or political tension that took a giant swipe at their little country.

What on earth do you do when your planet turns against you? I can’t imagine the horror those people are facing. Not only have they lost their mothers, their fathers, their children, they’ve lost their entire communities. They can’t mourn and heal by holding their children’s toys or smelling their spouses’ pillows. Their homes are gone. The toys and pillows are gone. Their neighbors’ houses are gone. Nothing can ever be close to normal again for the survivors. There can be no lawsuits, no follow-up wars to appease people through vengeance, whether misguided or not.

Geez. This is depressing. My phone just rang, and it was this perfectly nice woman I work with, and it was hard to have a work-related conversation with her because I was all upset from thinking about the tsunami.

Here’s a good website (thanks, Denny) that has information about charities, if you’re interested in donating.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:57 am

I’m trying to learn Portuguese for the trip in March. So far I suck. I can read it pretty well and even understand it more or less, but as it turns out, the audio files I was using to try to learn are for Brazilian Portuguese, and I need peninsular. So I got a book that seems to have a pretty good pronunciation guide.

So far, this is what I have gleaned: it’s more or less like Spanish, except o is pronounced “oo” instead of “oh,” and a is pronounced “uh” instead of “ah.” That “uh” is hard for me to do, because it sounds so much like what my former Spanish students would say when they were speaking Spanish with horrible American accents: “Bway-nuhs dee-uhs” (flashback to Jan Hooks’s role in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure). Yuck. But I’m working on it. Oh, also there’s a lot more “sh” and “zh” in Portuguese than in Spanish, which kind of makes it sound like Italian. It’s all rather confusing. It’s fun, though. A lot of the food sounds really good, such as piri-piri.


My girls

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:46 am

After lots of fun family-related stuff, my holidays culminated with a hang-out with my best ladypals (except Sara, whom we missed). I got some pictures I didn’t previously have from our trip to San Francisco last summer.

From left: Emily, Sara, Aprille, Ruby, at a winery whose name I don’t remember right now

Aprille and Sarah at Korbel

The whole group of us, recovering after the winery adventures


Song lyrics

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:16 pm

So I read on someone else’s site that, for this little game, you’re supposed to put your iTunes on random, pick your favorite line from each of the first 15 songs that come up, and people are supposed to try to guess what songs and artists they came from. That sounds awfully comments cloggy (but fun), so I did that, but what I did was I put the title and artist in white text after the lyric. That way, if you want to know the answer, you can just click and drag over the space right after the lyric and you’ll be able to see it.

1. “So meet a bear and take him on out to lunch with you.” “Bears,” by Lyle Lovett
2. “I just stand by and let you fight your secret war” “Joey,” by Concrete Blonde
3. “I just stood there whistling ‘There Goes the Bride’ as she walked out the door.” “Lucky Ball and Chain,” by They Might Be Giants
4 “So you said you wanna spend it on me / And shook the blues out of your hair” “Beautiful Way,” by Beck
5 “Go little record, go. It is named by some guy named Joe.” “Trompe Le Monde,” by the Pixies
6 “They were naked as the day they were born / skin all bone-china white” “Vampire Song,” by Concrete Blonde
7 “You got too many bees in your honey” “Unskinny Bop,” by Poison
8 “Intergalactic, see me to be you / It’s all in the tablets, / Sneezy Bhutan” “Little Wonder,” by David Bowie
9 “Tonight your a star / And I’m the big dipper.” “Gett Off,” by Prince
10 “Poppa been smooth since days of Underroos” “Hypnotize,” by Notorious BIG
11 “Pathetic eyes high alive / Blind to the tide that turns the sea” (I always thought it was “jai alai,” not “high alive.” I was way off.) “Half a World Away,” by REM
12 “the drain. goes straight. into the sea. the sink itself. is porcelain.” “Moon Sammy,” by Soul Coughing
13 “The children come, the children go / Like arrows with no targets / Like shackles made of snow” “True Love Leaves No Traces,” by Leonard Cohen
14 “Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic” “Into the Mystic,” by Van Morrison
15 “And I just got a message that said / Yeah, hell has frozen over. / I got a phone call from the lord saying, / Hey boy, get a sweater, right now!” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” by Modest Mouse


Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:21 am

Tomorrow morning Denny and I are going to have an off-schedule Christmas morning, the first one in our new house. I think I’m going to make a quiche for the occasion. That will be pretty easy but still relatively fancy-schmancy to celebrate.

Asparagus quiche


  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 2 (8 inch) unbaked pie shells
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or buttermilk (depending on if you want to make it reduced-fat or not–half-and-half is fattier than lowfat buttermilk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Steam asparagus until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool.
  2. Place bacon in a big pan. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  3. Brush pie shells with beaten egg white. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shell.
  4. In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle Swiss cheese over bacon and asparagus. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until firm, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

I’m excited for Denny to open his presents. I hope he likes them. I’d post a link to the main thing I got him, but knowing that sneaky little weasel, he’d probably go and click it.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:45 am

I was talking to Jack just now about how his actual name is John, and he’s surprised by how many people don’t realize Jack is a nickname for John, especially given the historical visibility of John/Jack Kennedy. He was saying how everybody knows that Bill is a nickname for William, which made me wonder how that nickname came about in the first place. That B just came out of nowhere! Yes, Will is also a nickname, but Bill is just as popular or even more so.

That made me think about Robert/Bob, which also has an inexplicable B. I decided it would be cool to name a baby Bobert. Denny thinks it’s a bad idea, and Jack isn’t too fond of it either, but it is a very funny idea to imagine a cute little baby named Bobert.

(Note: the inclusion of this picture of Daphne, who is not actually named Bobert, is a joke in reference to the fact that that particular picture has become the default baby image, Internet-wide. It comes up on the first page of hits when you do a Google images search on the term “baby.”)


I am so productive

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:35 am

I had an excellent weekend, thanks for asking.

1. Friday: easy day at work, then a good run on the track afterwards. Denny and I went out with friends for a graduation/birthday get together in which we feasted on pizza and shiraz. It was fun. The we came home and watched an episode from season 2 of Coupling, my current favorite show. It’s not often that a sitcom makes me actually belly-laugh on multiple occasions per episode.

2. Saturday: ran some errands, got some Christmas shopping done, then went to Des Moines for the family get-together on Denny’s dad’s side. They play a game where each person brings a wrapped gift, then you draw numbers. The first person chooses a gift and opens it. The second person can either open a new gift or take the first person’s. The third person can open a new gift or take the first or second person’s, and so on. It was pretty fun. The gifts Denny and I contributed were big hits: a lava lamp and a peel-off one-a-day Onion calendar. Denny’s dad opened the Onion calendar at first and couldn’t figure out what it was. He thought it smelled like onions.

3. Sunday: very productive. I got just about all my Christmas shopping done, and I made some jaunty stockings to hang from our mantle, got a good run in, and offered moral support and occasional help while Denny cooked one of his first major meals: spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs. It was delicious. My run was also really good. If you had told me even six months ago that I would be able to run a mile, walk for a minute and a half, then run another mile, then do probably another mile and a half broken up with occasional bouts of walking, I never would have believed you. Running the mile in P.E. used to just about kill me. For perhaps the first time, I’m going to be able to make entirely character-based New Year’s resolutions, since the fitness thing is shaping up on its own.

And now, just a short little week before the holiday festivites begin in full swing. Whoooo!

Hey, you should check out Denny’s site, because he posted a link to that preachy email forward (“Rah rah go war you have it so easy but the war guys have terrible lives hooray for war!”) that, despite its annoying tone, is interesting in that it contains a picture of Denny’s brother Michael sleeping in a ditch.

(Look, people, I recognize that soldiers put up with really horrible conditions. War, General Sherman and many others have said, is hell. I just don’t think exploiting the soldiers’ living conditions for the sake of propaganda is a good logical argument. I mean, I can think of a way that they’d be safe at home in comfortable beds, and I dearly wish Michael were. Of course, Michael’s always been sort of the ditch-sleeping type, which I mean in the nicest possible way.)


I am the champions

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:38 am

So…since I wasn’t feeling well Wednesday night, we decided to skip dance class and make it up Thursday night. I’m glad we went last night, because it turns out it was the last class (I had thought there was one more week). We had a good time. Again, every single time the teacher needed a partner to demonstrate something (which was a lot), he picked me. This made me feel a little awkward. I realize that I have more ballroom dance experience than most people in Ballroom Dance I, but I didn’t want to seem like a big show-off or something. Anyway, at the end of class, he came up to Denny and me and told us that if we want to take Ballroom Dance II (which we do), we don’t have to pay for it! I do believe this is the closest I will ever come in my entire life to an athletic scholarship. I am very proud of myself. What I really want to do is get to level 3, because that’s when they teach polka and tango. Those are both really fun. Polka is fun because you can go really fast, flying around the room like a windstorm. This is sure to make poor Denny a bit dizzy, as he is somewhat easily discombobulated. And tango is fun because it’s sexy. Maybe if I’m a big show-off in level 2, I’ll get another athletic scholarship to level 3.

Another funny thing about dance class: one time there was a woman there who was squatting next to the teacher, asking him a question. I don’t remember why she was squatting; maybe he was bent down fiddling with the CD player or something. Anyway, she had seriously three inches of buttcrack showing out the top of her jeans. Hah!


Sitting in the Kaspar

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:19 pm

I stayed home from work today. It was a rare occasion that I didn’t have any meetings, and I’m not feeling my best, so I took advantage of my job’s generous sick leave policy. To tell you (the public) the truth, I feel better today than I did yesterday, but I worked all day yesterday. So I’m taking today for karmic balance.

I just saw a blurb for the movie Bad Santa, which I didn’t see. I didn’t realize Sarah Silverman was in it; she’s my hero. I like Billy Bob Thornton, too. It seems to have gotten pretty good reviews.

Wait a minute…I’m looking at Sarah Silverman’s IMDB site, and it doesn’t say anything about Bad Santa. Was I hallucinating during that tv commercial? Maybe I’m sicker than I thought.

Anyway, there are lots of movies coming out that I want to see. For example:

How will I manage to see all these movies? How will it happen?


What I am excited about right now

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:21 pm

1. Dance class tonight. We will master those turn combinations. We will, I swear it.

2. Chicken Paprikash cooking in the Crock Pot right now. It will be so tasty. (Brief, easy non-recipe: dice an onion and a few cloves of garlic and put them in the Crock Pot. In a small bowl, mix 2/3 cup sour cream with 2 Tbsp Hungarian paprika. Add cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper to taste. Thin with chicken stock until it’s like thick soup. Mix with the onion/garlic. Put in several skinless chicken breasts and stir around a bit to coat them in the onion mixture. Cook on low all day.)

3. Coupling: The Complete Second Season (British version) that I got from the library. Thanks for the suggestion, Erin. It’s a good show.


Hooray for Tella

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:12 pm

Donatella is doing fine. I think maybe the engine flooded when we were trying to start it up the other day, and that’s why it was running all rumply-pumply. Mr. Car Dude said the spark plugs look fine (as they should; I got them replaced right on my maintenance schedule), so we should just drive it and keep an eye (ear) on it. So far so good.

Here’s a survey I copied off my friends’ pages. Don’t worry, the answers are all mine.

1. Aprille
2. Apry
3. Bootsie

1. Avenue Player
2. Aprillepetunia
3. Mucha Muchacha

1. Smart brain
2. Nice smile
3. Tell good jokes

1. Socially awkward
2. Take things too personally
3. Overcritical

1. Enthusiastic
2. Empathetic
3. Loyal

1. Snobby
2. (didn’t I just do this?) Socially awkward
3. Shy in a way that’s hard to describe

1. English
2. German
3. I don’t know what else, but I may have bombed myself in WWII.

1. Why they can’t make a pump lotion that doesn’t get lotion boogers
2. How microwave ovens work
3. Why it is so much easier to eat 600 calories than burn 600 calories

1. My phone ringing
2. Strangers who want to talk to me
3. When the lady at the fabric store asks what I’m making. None of your damn business!

1. Heights
2. Shots (at the doctor, not at the bar)
3. Death

1. Black coffee
2. Toothpaste
3. Hand lotion

1. Dark grey ribbed turtleneck
2. Light grey pants
3. Shiny sparkly earrings

1. Coffee mug
2. So many pads of paper and loose papers
3. Two monitors

1. “Don’t tell Denny” (mostly said directly to Denny when I am mock-confessing something)
2. “Arfnabougin Augustine” (said while stretching)
3. “Oh my crap”

1. Pixies
2. David Bowie and the Bowie-rifics (I made up the Bowie-rifics part)
3. King Toad

1. The “This Is Techno” ringtone on my phone
2. “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” Modest Mouse
3. “Heaven,” King Toad

1. Denny
2. My coworkers (Angie, Ken, Kyle, etc.)
3. My computer (she is a human to me)

1. They love me exactly the way I am, and vice versa
2. They are brainiacs
3. They are trustworthy

1. An alliance against the forces of evil
2. The ability to take care of me sometimes
3. The ability to be taken care of by me sometimes

1. Smartness
2. Kindness
3. Smiley face

1. I have very healthy fingernails
2. I like to sing songs and substitute the word “cheesecake” for regular words in the song
3. I always nudge the thermostat lower than Denny would like it

1. Speak any non-romance languages
2. See those stupid Magic Eye pictures
3. Dance hip-hop style

1. Cooking tasty food
2. Sewing outfits
3. Reading and writing stories

1. Nice dining room chairs
2. Bridesmaid dresses that are beautiful and affordable for my friends
3. A baby! Denny says not yet 😛

1. Writy McWriter
2. Computer Lady
3. Professor Lady

1. Spain
2. Nevis
3. Portugal

1. Publish more writing
2. Be the amount of famous where one person per week asks me for my autograph or otherwise looks happy to see me for no good reason
3. See one of those stupid Magic Eye pictures

1. Don’t put water in your melting chocolate! It will seize up! And for the love of god, DON’T melt it on high heat! (Are you reading this, former roommate Aimee who stunk up my kitchen?)
2. Ballroom dancing is fun. You should learn how to do it.
3. “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer you a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate–and quickly.” — Robert Heinlein


The very scary thing that happened to me

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:41 pm

Remember how yesterday I reported that my car Donatella was acting weird? Well, I wanted to go to the office last night to work on some things, so Denny lent me his car (Jim). I noticed he was running low on gas, so as a way of saying thanks for lending me his car and all the other nice things he does for me, I decided to fill it up. I went to the Kum & Go that’s right across the street from our office. First of all, I couldn’t figure out where the gas tank release was. I searched around for several minutes before I checked the owner’s manual and got the gas tank open (it was on the central console, for those of you who ever find yourselves in my position in a VW Passat). Then I put in my credit card and started fueling up (with premium, because that’s what Denny likes, and that’s how benevolent I was feeling).

It filled up, and right about the time I expected it would be done, it made that click that indicates the tank is full. So I got out of the car (did I mention there was a huge windstorm yesterday? It was really cold and extremely windy out) and took the pump out of the car. But it kept squirting! The trigger was stuck in the ON position! I yelped and tried to get it unstuck, but to no avail. Gas was getting all over me, all over the car, all over the concrete. I started yelling, but of course no one could hear me because of the windstorm. I stuck the pump handle back in the gas tank, which of course overflowed. I looked around on the pump for some sort of emergency override, found nothing, and was about to go inside and holler at the attendant. Then it abruptly stopped. I don’t remember if the trigger released or if I actually tapped out the world’s supply of crude oil (sorry, Alaska), but at least the price wasn’t spinning along merrily as I dumped gasoline (premium, remember) onto the ground.

I went in and told the employee what had happened, and she sort of shrugged and said, “Yeah, that’s been happening.” Wha-wha-what? And there was no “Out of Order” sign or any such thing on the pump? No “Use only if you really like the smell of petroleum products on your pants” warning? She didn’t even give me money back for the gas I paid for and didn’t actually put into the car.

Today I went back there and talked to the manager, who is my friend because we go there a lot for a break during work. He was duly sympathetic and promised to have it taken care of post-haste.

Oh, and then after all that, I went to the office and realized I didn’t have my keys, so I was locked out.


But all is not lost, because I’m having sushi for dinner. Sushi is my ray of sunshine. Also, Denny was very nice to me and very thankful for all I went through to fill his gas tank.


Non-demoninational holiday cheer

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:20 pm

Yesterday my parents came to town to see the house and help us with a few tasks. The best part was going out and cutting a tree. We got some lights and ornaments and had a good time decorating it. There was some brief drama involving a string of semi-functional lights, but Denny and Dad exchanged them, and all was well.

The only unpleasant thing that’s happened this weekend is that Donatella (my car) wouldn’t start, or when she did start, she just sputtered. I’m going to try it again later. I hope it’s not too expensive to fix.


Office holiday party

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:53 pm

Today’s the best office party of the whole year: the one at the big boss’s house where there’s lots of beer and food. Plus it starts at 3 p.m., so I get two hours off work for free. It’s a potluck thing (my friend Ken told me today that Baptists don’t have potlucks because nothing is luck, it’s all Providence–hilarious. They just have shared dinner events), and I invented a dish for the occasion. It’s a variation on my special pork burritos in tomatillo sauce, but this is more of an appetizer-type thing.

Empanadas de cerdo en salsa verde (fancy-talk for little pork turnovers in green sauce)


  • enough pie crust for 4 9-inch crusts (I cheated and bought frozen)
  • half a pork loin, about half a pound, cut into small cubes (hint: this is easier to do if it’s semi-frozen) (you could also use chicken or garbanzo beans)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 24 small pieces (about .75 inch x .75 inch x .25 inch) Monterrey jack cheese (I wanted queso fresco but didn’t see any at Hy-Vee)
  • 1 egg
  • paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 small container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 cup tomatillo sauce (see recipe below)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium. Sauté the pork until it is cooked through.
  3. Add the tomatillo sauce and stir. Heat through. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Roll out the pie dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (I used a glass that was about 3 inches in diameter), cut out circles.
  5. Moisten your finger with some water and run it around the outer edge of the circle. This will help it adhere to itself once it’s stuffed.
  6. Place a piece of cheese in the center of the circle. Place two pork cubes on top of the cheese.
  7. Fold the circle into a half moon, sealing along the edges. Place on a cookie sheet.
  8. Repeat, occasionally picking up the scraps of pie dough and re-rolling them so you don’t waste it. You should be able to make about 2 dozen or so.
  9. Beat the egg and use a basting brush to give the empanadas an egg wash. Sprinkle generously with paprika (chile powder would be good too).
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. It’s ok if they burst a little.
  11. While they’re cooking, mix the cilantro, sour cream, and cumin. Serve it in a pretty bowl to use as a topping or dip.

Tomatillo Sauce: This is slightly labor-intensive, so I’m glad I had some in the freezer. This is good on burritos or enchiladas.


  • 2 lbs. tomatillos (they look like little green tomatoes, but they’re actually different)
  • 2 cans green chiles
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed (use more or less depending on how much you like cilantro. I myself love it)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • several cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 whole jalapeños (fresh), coarsley chopped (1 if you’re a weiner)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock


  1. Rinse the tomatillos and peel off the papery husk. Using a kitchen torch (aka fire squirter), squirt fire on the tomatillos one at a time until they are scorched and blackened all over. You could also do this over a gas stove, or you can do it in a pan, but the pan method takes forever and makes the kitchen smokey. I recommend the fire squirter method.
  2. If the tomatillos are large, cut them in half. Drizzle some olive oil into a large pan and saute the tomatillos, half the onion, the garlic, and the jalapeños over medium heat until the tomatillos are dull green and squishy.
  3. Put the contents of the pan into a blender. Blend until relatively smooth. Add the green chiles, cilantro, the cumin, and about 1/4 cup of sour cream. Blend, adding chicken stock a little at a time until it is a sauce consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Wine and food night

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:20 am

Last night Denny and I went on a super-fun date. There’s a place in Mt. Vernon called Devine Wines, which is a swanky little wine shop/bar. They hosted a special night of wine pairings with food from Matt of the Lincoln Café, our favorite restaurant.

Round 1: Sparkling Alsatian blanc de blanc, which I believe was a blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc. It was really nice, very dry but not harsh at all; it was smooth and delicate. It was paired with sweet/spicy toasted walnuts and garlicky green olives.

Round 2: A Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux with light tree fruit notes; I tasted a lot of pear in it. That was paired with shrimp garnished with ancho chile, cucumber and red pepper bits, and apple mousse on a little corn wafer.

Round 3: This was my favorite round of the evening: a really good malbec from Argentina that was rich and earthy without being musty (which I find a lot of European wines can sometimes be). A woman next to us didn’t like it because she said it was too barnyardy; I can kind of see where she’s coming from, because it was definitely hearty, but it had a refreshingly light finish and good black fruit flavors too. This was paired with what was also my favorite food choice of the night–smoked eggplant with roast fig on some sort of bread vehicle (forgive me; they were pouring big glasses of wine with every round). It went so well with the wine. Denny made the comment after taking a bite then taking a drink of wine, “It’s like I’m still eating.”

Round 4: I have to admit this wine wasn’t very memorable for me. It was a merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I think I was still excited about the malbec from Round 3. The food, however, was really good on this round too. It was Iowa elk crusted with espresso powder, cinnamon, and chocolate, cooked rare and sliced thinly on a pastry triangle. It was topped with a cumin-infused mayonnaise. Yum.

Round 5: They house-blended some wine for the final round, though I don’t remember exactly what the components were. It was a fruity mix that did well by breathing for the full two hours of the previous rounds. I didn’t have very much of it because I was getting a little over-wined by that point. As for food, this was the cheese-and-chocolate round. The three cheese they offered were a Spanish mahón (a medium-to-hard aged cheese with nutty flavors, sort of like asiago or aged manchego), a French bleu, and a softish Swiss gruyere. Matt also provided delicious pistachio chocolate truffles and some other nutty chocolates.

All in all, it was a delightful evening, and an excellent deal. They’re having another one next month that’s more food-centric, and it’s more expensive, so we’re not completely sure yet if we’re going. But it’s a definite possibility, and we had a delightful time. We bought a bottle of the sparkling Alsatian and ordered two bottles of the malbec (they were sold out).

Another interesting bit of fall-out is that we had a nice chat with the woman who’s the wine expert in the store, and it turns out she and her husband live in Iowa City. We have tentatively made friends and hope to socialize with them if it’s not one of those things that seems like a good idea in a wine haze but seems stupid later. Also, it is contingent on her husband being cool. But…the best part is that they have an 8-month-old baby, so I might have another baby to snuggle.


My hilarious boobs

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:30 am

So, on the recommendation of my friend Patty and strangers on the Internet, I purchased an item called a Nubra to wear with my wedding dress. It’s this adhesive silicone contraption that’s strapless and backless. It’s very weird. I tried it out last night under a tank top, and it was really pretty comfortable. I don’t see it doing anything for lift and support, though; as far as I can tell, it just sort of sits there blobbily. But that’s all right; I enjoy it on a hilarity level, and it will make me feel a bit less naked under the dress. My dad suggested that I wear a turtleneck under my dress. I said no way.

Note: this is not actually me. This is, apparently, a young Melanie Griffith, ever-so-delighted about wearing her adhesive silicone bra. I look more or less like that, I guess, except probably less enthusiastic. I save my enthusiasm for playing with boingy things and dinging gongs, thank you very much.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:10 pm

So remember how I was in that commercial? My friend sent me a Windows Media Player version of it. I’ll get it on VHS eventually, but for those of you with Windows Media Player, you get to see it now. It’s actually pretty well-done. I think I look dorky, especially in the parts where I’m playing with the sproingy things and dinging the gong, but it’s kind of cute-dorky (I hope).

Mac users, download Windows Media Player here (free).

Here’s the commercial.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:40 pm

I tried a new hairdo method I read about on the internet. It’s called plopping. It sounds much grosser than it is. The result is that my hair is VERY CURLY. In fact, the secretary at work asked me this morning if I’d gotten a perm. Nope, these are just my natural curls, in all their ploppy goodness. Usually I try to beat them into submission a bit, but not today.

I’m not entirely convinced by the results just yet. I think I may need a diffuser and perhaps some sort of hair goop.

Did you see the pictures I posted last night? I like my house. Now we have a really nice table and chair set up, as assembled by Denny last night. Tonight we’re going to move the futon down to the basement and have our first TV date in the new house (The Real World, if you must know).

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