Dancy Pants

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:29 pm

Mockup of a potential redesign for my mom’s website.

The other one has gotten pretty dated. I haven’t revamped it in years.

Back to life

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:31 am

I’m back at work. It’s a little busy making up work from yesterday, but I’m doing ok. I really should have remotely changed my outgoing phone message, because I had a zillion voice mails when I came back, but it’s ok. The last thing I feel like doing when it’s 8 in the morning and I’m feeling bad is calling my work phone and trying to sound intelligible in my outgoing message.

The bad news is that Denny had to stay home today because he wasn’t feeling well. I hope he gets over it as fast as I did. Zicam, people! I was briefly scared off it because of reports that it can destroy your sense of smell, but I think that’s just when people use it wrong (actually inhaling it instead of just smooshing it around the inside of the nose).


Posting from bed

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:51 am

I woke up with a sore throat this morning, so I decided to stay home from work. I think it might be due to allergies and congestion, but I’m not sure. It’s not one of those irritated kind of sore throats where it feels like the surface of your throat is scratchy; rather, it’s kind of an achy sore throat. Weird. Some ibuprofen has helped, though.

I need to rest up because I’ve got a lot of crap going on starting tonight and going through the weekend. The New Play Festival has its dress rehearsal tonight, then performances Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday night after the show I have No Shame, then Saturday and Sunday I have Sweet Charity rehearsals.

I fear I have overbooked myself.

In good news, my dad is getting the wedding album all ordered, so I’ll have that soon. I’m excited.


Slow news day?

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:12 pm

OK, I realize the Daily Iowan is a student newspaper and perhaps should not be held to the same standards of journalism as an actual professional paper, but seriously, people.

How many dance on the pin?
By Elaine Fabian – The Daily Iowan
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Four beers, two glasses of wine, 35 shots, and a fifth of vodka in less than two hours might translate into a rough night for most, but for one former Iowa City resident, it caused an out-of-body experience that he said gave him the ability to communicate with angels.

Since being visited by seven angels while his body lay surrounded in vomit on the bathroom floor of a Coralville restaurant almost two decades ago, Mark Patterson contends, he has been able to hear the voices of angels hinting at the right decisions in his life.

“I am guided by inner voices,” he said.

“I try to spend time meditating, and it made me study religions to find the common truth among all of them,” said Patterson, who earned an undergraduate degree in psychiatry. “It made me 100 percent responsible for myself.”

Barbara O’Rourke, a psychiatrist for Psychiatric Associates, 319 E Bloomington St., said Patterson’s drunkenness during the experiences voids all of his claims.

“It isn’t credible information,” she said. “His brain was put to sleep. If [he] wasn’t drunk, I would take it very seriously.”

Oookay. So a teenage kid (the article mentions that he was a sophomore in high school when this happened) drinks enough to cause brain death in Fat Bastard, claims he saw angels, an actual psychiatrist says, “No, that’s stupid,” and this is somehow newsworthy? I’d be surprised if he didn’t see something wacky as his poor little brain cells were trying their hardest to weave themselves back into some semblance of order.

Also, I can’t think of any institution that grants an undergraduate degree in psychiatry.

My hot date.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:59 am

I have a date tonight. With a BOY.

If we’re going to be specific, it’s with my husband. But he’s my favorite date anyway, so here we are.

It’s the one night off all week I have from rehearsing, so we’re taking advantage by going out to Mount Vernon for a Lincoln Café dinner. We decided we would go once a month on our monthly anniversary. We decided this after we were sitting there last time and realized the date was August 30, exactly one month after our wedding. Technically our two-month anniversary isn’t till Friday, but like I said, tonight is my only free night this week.

So we pretty much blew the plan just two months in. Oh well, I still get a good dinner.


Honeycrisp for you and me

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:52 pm

I spent a lot of money on produce last night. I went to Hy-Vee at like 10 p.m. and bought double-digit figures’ worth of apples. But no, my friends, these were not ordinary apples. These were Honeycrisp apples, which sounds gross (because who wants crisp honey? And who wants an apple that tastes like honey? Too sweet) but are ambrosia in apple form. Holy crap, they’re really good. They’re not as sweet as the name would indicate, and they have a wonderful crunchy-yet-light texture. They’re really fabulous and available only for a limited time. I don’t think I would bake with them; they’re better for eating raw, because it’s the texture that’s the best part, and cooking would destroy that.

I don’t feel too bad about it, because my last produce binge was at the Farmers’ Market, and I spent five bucks and got about a thousand pounds of onions, garlic, and various squash. Which reminds me, I need to make another batch of squash soup. That’s some good stuff.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:29 pm

I had a busy weekend that is leading into another busy week.

Even my horoscope said, “Slow down, woman. You’re too busy.”

There are about eighteen movies playing that I want to see, but I haven’t had a chance to see any of them. For example:

1. Corpse Bride
2. The Constant Gardener
3. Mad Hot Ballroom
4. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
5. March of the Penguins
6. The Aristocrats
7. Wedding Crashers

These are all playing at a theatre near me. And yet, I have no plans to see any of them, because my life is hogged up something fierce. Which ones are the best? If I have three nights in the next month to go to the movies, which three should I see? I believe Mad Hot Ballroom is leaving soon. Plus I want to go to the Rabassa lecture tomorrow.



I copied this from Emily Yoshida

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:06 am

Leave your name in my comments and…
1. I’ll respond with something random about you.
2. I’ll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. I’ll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
4. I’ll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
5. I’ll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I’ll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I’ll ask you something that I’ve always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal. You MUST. It is written.

I’ll write a genuine post later. I just got to work, after all.


Couch time U.S.A.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:22 pm

Denny is leaving work early this afternoon because the couch is being delivered. Do you realize that we have lived in that house for almost ten months with no couch? That is a sad state of affairs. We do have the futon in the basement for tv-watching, but it will be very nice to have something in the living room.

Plus the couch is cool. Chocolately leathery goodness!

I feel like I’ve barely been home lately, so I hope I get a chance to sit on the couch. I’ve been rehearsing almost every night. I work all day, get home, toss some dinner together, then go to rehearsal. Then I come home, watch a tv show that I taped if something truly important was on (such as The Real World or Lost), maybe run on the treadmill if I have time, then go to bed. There are so many things I want to do, like make zucchini bread with the giant zucchini Kaspar brought over and wax my eyebrows. These eyebrows are getting out of control, I tell you what.

One day I shall be free.


No more direct flights to Rome

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:44 pm

I’m sure you will be disheartened to know that American Airlines has discontinued their nonstop service from Chicago O’Hare to Rome.

I was probably leaning toward Northwest’s Cedar Rapids > Detroit > Amsterdam > Rome route anyway, since it’s over a hundred bucks cheaper per ticket, but the nonstop nature of the American’s midwest-to-Rome leg was very appealing.

Plus I hate the Amsterdam airport. It seems like I’m always running like hell to get through customs and make a connection there, and then when I finally get to my gate, there’s a miles-long (make that kilometers-long) line to board the plane. They don’t use any of that “now boarding rows 45-60” nonsense; they just let everybody try to pile in at once. Ah, the Dutch. If it weren’t for Anne Frank, I’d have nothing good to say about them.

Actually, that’s not true. My second cousin used to be married to a Dutch guy, and I liked him. I guess it’s just the airport I don’t like.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:38 am

I was doing my morning surf just a few minutes ago, and I really enjoyed this New York Times article about a new breed of Asian fusion cuisine: hyphenated Chinese.

It’s kind of funny; I’ve had Chinese food in just about every country I’ve ever visited. After a week or so of eating local cuisine a lot of times I just get in the mood for a change, and Chinese suits. These places all seem to have a local spin on Chinese food, probably to appease the local palate. For example, the egg rolls at a Chinese restaurant in Portugal tasted strongly of olive oil. This article, though, talks about actual purposeful cross-overs, like Chinese-East Indian, Chinese-Jamaican, and Chinese-Peruvian.

It makes sense, really. The Chinese have been some of the most successful immigrants in history. Just about every democracy has a thriving Chinese immigrant population, some of which have been established for many generations. It’s easy to see how a kid born in Peru to Chinese parents would pick up tastes and eating habits from both cultures.

The most interesting random fact I learned from the article: Naomi Campbell’s father is Chinese-Jamaican.

The second most interesting fact I learned from the article: many scholars believe that the origin of ketchup is the “intense Chinese sauce” ke-tsiap. It seems to have mellowed considerably across the continents.


Survey says…

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:54 am

Copying Lettie

I know some people find these tiresome, but I really enjoy it when other people post them. So feel free to copy it from me and do it yourself. I like learning more about my friends. Come to think of it, I like learning more about my enemies, too. It helps me defend myself with knowledge.

1) What color are your kitchen plates? We have white square ones and cobalt blue glass ones. We use the square ones for fancy things and the blue ones for food prep and casual eating.
2) What book are you reading now? I just bought two books: a Cadogan Guide to Italy and a Rough Guide to Rome. I need to go to the library and get some fiction, though.
3) What’s on your mouse pad? It’s black with the Women’s Resource and Action Center logo on it. They gave it to me after I did some volunteer stuff with them. They’re nice.
4) What’s your favorite board game? I really like Trivial Pursuit, but lately I’ve enjoyed Time’s Up, which is a game I learned about from my cousins.
5) Favorite magazine? Probably Cooking Light or Food and Wine.
6) Favorite smell? DC’s face right after he shaves. It smells like shaving cream and fresh skin. There are also about a million food smells I love, like apple pie in the oven.
7) Least favorite smell? Hog confinement lots. Pew, pew! They’re worse than skunks.
8) What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? “Is Denny going to take first shower or am I?”
9) Favorite color(s)? Cobalt, turquoise, aqua…all the bluey greens.
10) Least favorite color? Orange. Ugh. I do like squash, though, and that’s pretty orange.
11) How many rings before you answer the phone? Usually three or so. When I hear my phone ring, I make a mad dash to my purse, try to find the phone, and try to answer it before it goes to voice mail. At work I usually get it on the first ring.
12) Future child’s name? I change my mind on that one just about every day. Denny says I like nerd names. It’s probably true since I like nerd people.
13) Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
14) Do you like to drive fast? I drive medium, like right around the speed limit or a little over. That doesn’t count Nebraska, because does anybody actually drive the speed limit through the endless stretch of Nebraska?
15) Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? Nope. I don’t have the spare bed real estate.
16) Thunderstorms: cool or scary? Cool, unless you’re really tired and driving home from O’Hare in the middle of one. Or rather, unless you’re trying to be a combination of keeping-the-driver-awake fascinating yet not distracting while he drives home from O’Hare.
17) What type was your first car? A little white Geo Prizm named Katoonis. We had good times.
18) If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be? Greta Garbo, of course, not that she’d want to talk to me. I’d also like to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. Sometimes I have dreams that I’m friends with celebrities, like Britney Spears or David Bowie or Michael Stipe.
19) Favorite alcoholic drink? Right now, maybe Malbec wines from Argentina. I also really like this peach and lemon cocktail I make.
20) What is your sign and your birthday? Aries: March 24, 1977. Chinese zodiac: snake.
21) Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Yes, I love broccoli, all parts of it
22) If you could have any job, what would it be? Travel writer! Or posssibly woman of leisure who writes articles and stories and novels when she gets around to it.
23) If you could have any color hair, what would it be? The survey says this as if something is stopping me from having any haircolor I want. Have you ever been to Osco, survey? It’s very easy to have a variety of haircolors. I’m pretty happy with my current one. If I weren’t, I would have a different one.
24) Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It’s all empty, and it’s a mug, not a glass, and I should get some more coffee.
25) Favorite TYPE of movie? I like all different kinds, but I when it comes time to go to the movies, I’m usually in the mood for a comedy.
26) Do you type with your fingers on the right keys? Yep. I am an orthodox typist, with one exception. I only use the left shift key, and I only use my right thumb on the spacebar.
27) What’s under your bed? Books, magazines, socks maybe.
28) What is your favorite number? 9
29) Favorite sport to watch? What?
30) What is your single biggest fear? My own death. I’m human, it’s our nature.
31) Say one thing about the person who sent this to you. Nobody sent it to me, but because I copied it from Lettie, I’ll say something about her. She was in my homeroom in high school but I didn ‘t really know her at all. It’s been interesting getting to know her in the post-high school internet-based world. She seems really thoughtful and like she has her priorities straight.
32) Person most unlikely to respond to this? I am not going to spam my friends with this via email. That is bad form. People can post their own answers in their own blogs, but I’m not going to boss people around about it.
34) Favorite CD? What’s a CD? I like lots of stuff on my iPods.
35) Favorite TV Show? Probably Carnivale
36) Ketchup or mustard? Both, please. Also pickles.
37) Hamburgers or hot dogs? Hot dogs, I guess. I found these fat-free hotdogs that I like. Denny always gets Hebrew Nationals, which are better, but about a zillion times unhealthier. I don’t even like him to put them too close to my hot dogs, because the oozing grease infects them.
38) Favorite soft drink? Easy to get: Diet Sunkist Lemonade. Hard to get: Lemon Soda, which I’ve only ever had in Italy. I definitely need to get me some of that when we go. It’s really tart and has little lemon chunks in it.
39) The best place you have ever been? Rome is the greatest city in the world. I also really love the north of Spain.
40) What screen saver is on your computer right now? I have this screensaver where you input a search term, and then it goes out and searches Google images on that term. Right now I have it searching pictures of…you guessed it…Rome.
41) Burger King or McDonalds? Wendy’s.
42) What did you want to be when you were little? A cowgirl veteranarian. Things change.


Roman holiday

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:03 pm

I bought two books about Italy today, one about Rome and one about Italy in general. I love having a robust travel library. I definitely want to spend a week or so in Rome, because I really gave it short shrift when I was there last time, and it’s just incredible. The rest of the trip is up for grabs. I’ve been pressing Denny for an opinion, and such options as Cinque Terre and Dubrovnik, Croatia have come up. I’m also batting around the idea of Pompeii. But you couldn’t keep me away from Rome if you tried with medium amounts of effort.

How much longer till we go to Rome? Six months? That’s not so long I guess.

Actually, it’s pretty long. I wish we were going to a conference there so it could be partly paid-for by work, like the Portugal trip last year was. Oh well. I’m sure some people think it’s weird that I spend so much of my money and leisure time travelling, but really, how many more years do I have of being half of a dual-income family with no debt (except mortgage, which doesn’t count because we’d be paying rent anyway)?

I’m sure our travel budget and free time will shrink mightily once we have a kid or two, but that’s ok because we’ll have all the entertainment we need gazing at our amazing offspring. I’m already pretty entertained by my friends’ babies, and I’m not even related to them.


Raspberry Mascarpone Napoleons

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:37 pm

Raspberry Mascarpone Napoleons

This is quick, easy, and beautiful. Thanks to Denny for the photographic evidence.

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 oz peach schnapps
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix the above until nicely stiff and aerated (use a stand mixer or a hand
mixer). Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix the above, smooshing the raspberries a little. Let them sit and macerate
until ready to serve.

  • Peach puree
  • Amaretto

Mix the above until it’s a nice drizzling consistency. I had some peach puree
in the freezer from another experiement, so I used that. You could also use
caramel sauce or chocolate syrup for this.

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Cut puff pastry into 12 squares (or as many as you need to have two squares per serving). Bake in a 400F oven for 12 minutes, or until golden and puffy.

On a plate, drizzle the peach puree, caramel sauce, or chocolate syrup. Place one puff pastry square on the plate.

Using a pastry bag, squeeze a circle of mascarpone mixture onto the pastry. Spoon macerated raspberries on top. Place another puff pastry square on top,
squeeze on more mascarpone, then more raspberries.

Garnish with a whole raspberries, mint leaves, shaved almonds, or chocolate shavings, in any combination that you like. I meant to garnish mine with shaved almonds and powdered sugar, but I got so excited to eat it that I forgot.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:04 am

Check out Denny’s lovely photo of raspberries I gathered from our garden.

To answer map’s question from the comments:

And to address Emily’s comment: Thanks. We got them as a wedding gift. The set has many different sizes of bowls, and many of them are great for using when picking produce. I have a bunch of tomatoes sitting in a larger one right now.


Treadmill purchased, run upon

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:29 pm

The treadmill arrived today. It turns out it’s a Trimline 350 HR, which scored a “very good” in all categories in a January 2005 Consumer Reports test. By the way, I did not pay as much as is listed on that website. I got it on sale. I tried it out this morning, and it’s pretty good so far. I ran about four miles, and it was fun to watch the little blips advance on the distance display, and to watch the calories burned rack up. It’ll be nice not to have to depend on daylight to get my running in, what with my busy evenings and reducing daylight hours.

Other exciting things in my life:

I finally tried out my wonderful KitchenAid mixer (thanks, Cheryl!). It was great! For some reason I had it in my head that it would be more trouble or harder to clean than a hand mixer, but it really wasn’t. If anything, it was easier, because stuff didn’t splatter all over the kitchen, and there were no more bowls or beaters to clean than with the hand mixer. I really enjoyed it and had a fun time using it, and Denny and I are both enjoying the cookies that were the result.


Shaquille O’Neal is a true American hero

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:52 am

I’m not even kidding all that much. Read the article.


My still-hypothetical vacation planning continues…

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:56 pm

So, I found another hotel I’m seriously considering for Rome. It’s gotten good reviews on review sites that I trust, it’s in an excellent location (smack dab in the middle of the awesomest relics of ancient Rome, and right near a Metro stop), and I found a good deal on it on Hotels.com.

I haven’t booked it or anything, what with the trip still being hypothetical and all, but I do enjoy the research.

We’re tossing around the idea of combining a trip to Italy and Croatia. It’s cheaper to fly into Italy, and then you can just jump off the heel of the boot and take a ferry over to Dubrovnik, which is where we’re considering going. Have any of you ever been to Dubrovnik or elsewhere in Croatia? I’ve heard wonderful things about it, but I’m a little nervous because I’ve never been to a country where I have zero clue about the language. Even in France I could pretty much read signs and menus, which gave me a head start. Well, I guess I spent a few hours in Germany, but that was just the airport, which was not very stressful language-wise.

Thoughts? Reviews? Recommendations?


Nice voicemail and treadmills

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:35 am

I got into work this morning and saw that I had voice mail. Yuck. I hate voice mail, in part because I hate talking on the phone. So I listened to my voice mail, and the time stamp was from Sunday morning. What kind of weirdo would call and expect me to be at the office on a Sunday morning? I braced myself for some (perceived) giant emergency. I knew it wasn’t a genuine emergency, because I would have gotten a call on my cell phone for that, but sometimes people think they have emergencies when they don’t really.

Fortunately, it was not an emergency. It was a message from a faculty member I helped on Friday. He was just saying thanks for making his Powerpoint work.

You’re welcome, Professor M. Thanks for leaving me voice mail that was pleasant and not crappy. You brightened my Monday morning.

In other news, we bought a treadmill yesterday. We don’t have it yet; the store person is going to call me today to set up a delivery time. I’m looking forward to it. We got a decent deal; this is one of the most basic of the higher-end models, and it was on sale because it’s a floor model. It seemed like the biggest difference between the various higher-end treadmills was the types of programs and the different kind of stats you can get.

I admit, the advanced stats were appealing, but almost every one of the treadmills with lots of statistical features suffered from poor user interface. By default, they are set to calculate calories burned based on some sort of average-weight person, whatever that is. I suspect they were set at about 300 pounds, because then when you test it out, you’re like, “Holy crap, I burned 50 calories in one minute. This is the awesomest treadmill ever!” Anyway, it’s obviously really important to be able to enter your own actual weight if you want any kind of accuracy in the calories burned.

In just about every treadmill I tried (and I tried about 20 of them), I couldn’t figure out how to enter my weight. I know it’s possible, and at one store the guy got out the manual on my request to try to figure it out because he didn’t know either. We couldn’t find it in the manual. I consider myself fairly adept at clunky user interfaces (remember, people, I am the head WebCT administrator for this entire university, and I am occasionally unlucky enough to have to use Microsoft Windows), but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to customize the weight input! Since Denny and I are both going to be using it, I’ll have to change the weight rather frequently.

I really wish Apple made a treadmill. It could be called the iJog, and it would be sleek and sexy and it would definitely have an iPod dock. I asked if any of them had iPod docks yet, and the employee said no. Bummer.

So anyway, the one we got doesn’t have all the super-fancy features, like the automatic customization of a program based on criteria you enter (such as the desire to keep your heart rate at some particular level), but it does have the basics: calorie count, distance and time count, speed count, a handful of programs with varying intensities, and most importantly, an easy and obvious weight input feature.

I’ve only used treadmills a couple of times when I’ve stayed at hotels with gyms, but I liked it pretty well. I like the statistics on the screen. I usually run outside, but colder weather is coming. Also, my evenings for the foreseeable future are going to be filled with New Play Festival and Sweet Charity rehearsals, so I won’t have as many daylight hours at my disposal.

For those of you who were interested (because this is becoming a catch-all post, it seems), I figured out who my character Carmen is in Sweet Charity. She’s one of the Fandango hostesses, and there is no reason you would know her name, because even though she has the name “Carmen” written above her lines in the script, nobody ever addresses her by name in the text.

It’s a small part, but it will be fun–lots of singing and dancing. We’ll see if I’ll have the energy to come home and use my super-rad treadmill.

As a reward for anyone who is dedicated enough to have read my entire post, here is a treat: the most hilarious mugshot in the world.


Candy bars at the office

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:27 pm

My coworker Amir is pressuring people to buy candy bars that he’s shilling on his kid’s behalf.

I kind of resent it, because I don’t like it when parents do that kind of thing for their kids. I’m just bitter because I had to tromp around in the cold January weather ringing doorbells to sell Girl Scout Cookies, then tromp around in the cold March weather delivering Girl Scout Cookies. My parents didn’t work in offices, so they couldn’t do my work for me. Too bad, really; they had to tromp around outside with me.

Those candy bars of Amir’s are pretty darn good, though. I like the almond ones best.

Speaking of deliciousness, the Deluxe hurricane fundraiser (or rather, hurricane relief fundraiser) is actually tomorrow. I may have erroneously posted that it was last weekend, so those of you in the Iowa City area haven’t missed your chance to buy delicious, delicious baked goods, the profits from which will go to a good cause.

I don’t know what I’ll get for sure, but we’re going to a fête tomorrow night (hi, Kyle!) and it would be fun to get some treats to share.

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