Sarasota plans

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:23 pm

As I’ve previously written, my cousin is getting married in Sarasota in June, and we’re making a mini-vacation of it and staying a few extra days. I’m really excited about the possibility of going to Egmont Key, which is a state park and wildlife refuge. You can only get there by private boat, but lots of outfits in the area will take you on excursions. This one includes snorkeling and dolphin watching. Beware, the website is just awful, but I’ve read reviews of that business and they’re legit. I think Denny and I and my parents might go on such an adventure. My dad’s not much into swimming/snorkeling, but he might be convinced by the opportunity to see tortoises and birds and collect seashells in a historic environment.

It’s probably because I’ve spent most of my life land-locked, but there’s something amazingly thrilling to me about seeing ocean creatures (especially mammals) in the wild. Shedd Aquarium is cool and all, but it hits me on a much more visceral level to see a dolphin jumping around in the ocean as opposed to jumping around in a pool. I’ve always wanted to learn to scuba dive, but it never seemed practical since I don’t get to tropical environments very often. Snorkeling is still fun and requires much less investment. Still, that’s on my “when my mom wins the lottery and kindly shares with me” (because I never play the lottery) list: get scuba certified and take advantage of said certification.

Also, this just in! I used to be hot but now I’m cold. Good thing I have a jacket.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:12 pm

So I’m definitely making pasta for dinner, in a browned butter sauce with morels and chicken, but what kind of pasta should I use?

In my cupboard I currently have:

  • Orzo (probably not right for this)
  • Couscous (see above)
  • Whole wheat penne
  • Linguine

Which one should I use?  I think the penne and the linguine are the front-runners.  The penne is healthier, being whole wheat, but I wonder if the slightly heartier taste would work well with the morels, which are also rather earthy.  Would it detract from them or complement them?

The linguine is just normal semolina, pretty neutral.  Help!


Morel season

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:37 pm

Denny spent the day in the woods near some family property, and look what he brought home for me:

I am very excited about this. Normally I don’t get very many morels because they’re so expensive (although I do indulge once or twice per season). Apparently this rainy period we’ve had followed by a warm snap is great for fungus. Hooray!

Also, I just got a very interesting comment on an old post about my former hosting service, Globat. Check out the fourth comment. He got treated worse than I did.


Bah bah arf arf

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:08 am

I’m not a pet person by any means (unless newts count), but I think even I would notice that my poodle was actually a sheep.

Some people didn’t.

My favorite part of the article:  “One couple said they became suspicious when they took their ‘dog’ to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.”


Clay and ginger babies

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:21 pm

My whole life I’ve had really vivid, memorable, and sometimes bizarre dreams.  I know it’s boring to read about other people’s dreams, so I don’t post about them very much, but one I had last night was especially strange.

I dreamed that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (I dream about celebrities pretty often; I probably read too many celebrity gossip blogs) were getting married at North Grand Mall in Ames, I think at JC Penney’s.  I wanted to go in to catch of glimpse of them, but there were guards all over the parking lot who wouldn’t let me.

There in the parking lot, I found two little bundles, and I knew that it was Zahara and Maddox.  I didn’t know what they were doing out in the parking lot, but I didn’t think they were safe, so I grabbed them up.  The Zahara bundle was a little blob of clay, and the Maddox bundle was a shriveled little ginger root.

Word somehow got to Brad and Angelina that I was protecting their kids (no idea about the location of the other ones), and they came out to express their gratitude.  I was handing them over and I accidentally broke the blob of clay that was Zahara, and I felt terrible, but they didn’t seem concerned.  Brad did a trick that involved pushing on them from the bottom, and POOF, they turned into regular kids.

I got into a car with them and we drove away.  As we were driving, Brad expressed concern that the public disapproved of their relationship.  I told him he shouldn’t worry about that, that it’s important to have a partner who challenges you and keeps you sharp, and that Angelina was a better choice than that milquetoast Jennifer Aniston.  He put his arm around me in a friendly way, but I felt strange because I didn’t want Angelina to get the wrong idea.

The alarm woke me up then, and Denny’s arm was around me, which really makes a lot more sense.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:07 am

Don’t you wish you had some huggable, cuddly meat products?

Now you can.


A strange confluence

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:45 pm

What do you get when you cross an AK-57, a giant lip disc, and an iPod?

This.  She’s pretty cool, of you ask me, except for the gun.  It would be cooler if it was coming out of her leg like Rose McGowan’s.

In sad news, the Campus Theatres in the mall closed.  I thought they were closing April 30, and I was looking forward to going one last time before they shut down.  Sadly, there is now an “out of business” sign where there used to be showtimes.  It’s a shame because they always got the smaller movies that the megaplexes never aired.  They were pretty shabby, in terms of amenities, but it was where I always went to the movies in college, so I will mourn the loss.


Hamlet promo (not all that related to Hamlet)

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:21 pm

Okay, so you know how I have a couple of bit parts in that play called Hamlet?

There is going to be a thingy on Public Access TV promoting the show, and they did interviews with all of us in character. Here’s a clip of me as a gravedigger (this was before we had costumes; I do not ordinarily dig graves in that pretty necklace Denny gave me) along with an actor playing my brother/fellow gravedigger. It’s pretty much just 2 minutes of me spouting off and the guy next to me chiming in very occasionally. He’s more of the strong silent type.

Just as a teaser: the sex life of worms does come up.

See it here

There are more videos of other cast members; you can see them if you search YouTube for Hamlet Iowa City.  There’s an interview just with me, but for some reason my voice cuts out halfway through it, and all you can hear is the background music.  You do get to see the wide variety of facial expressions I make in any given conversation, though.  This is why I am bad at poker.


Good things

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:29 pm

Here are some things to be happy about:

1.  It is going to be a beautiful weekend.
2.  There’s a new Heroes on Monday.
3.  It’s getting warm enough that the Ped Mall fountain should be on soon.
4.  The most annoyingly named month of the year is almost over.


All hail the weekend

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:42 pm

Thursday’s almost over, which means the week is almost over, which means it’s almost the weekend.  It’s supposed to be nice out, even.

I don’t have any major plans, probably just helping paint the Hamlet set and doing some costume work.  I also need some kind of slipdress to wear under my It-Was-Such-An-Incredible-Deal-I-Couldn’t-Not-Buy-It Diane von Furstenberg dress, as it is sheer.  I picked up a pattern last weekend but I haven’t had a chance to do anything with it.

I will be glad when this play is over.  I’d forgotten just how time-consuming it is.  It’s pretty fun and everything, but it was more fun when I had fewer responsibilities and other things that suck up my time.  There’s a woman in the cast who has three kids, works, is training for a marathon, and is in the process of trying to sell her house.  I have no idea how she does it.  I’m very impressed, regardless.


Pirates abound

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:56 pm

Today was the pirate lunch at work.  Pirate lunch means we eat sub sandwiches and some people dress up in pirate outfits and I think there might be “booty” (aka door prizes).  There was also a treasure hunt (the goal being to explore our new space; some nice new areas have opened up, like a big break room and some new training/conference spaces).  The treasure in each destination was one of the directors, each one of whom is a font of knowledge.

Also, there was candy.


Everybody’s grumpy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:19 pm

I had a meeting today, and we digressed after discussing the meeting-related topics.  People were getting quite foul-mouthed.  It was kind of exciting, really.  I try not to swear at work too much, but I can see the appeal.

Also, this might be a good solution to our workplace lighting problems:


And that’s that.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:22 pm

Emily came to visit on Saturday. We went out for dinner and drinks at Graze, which is a new place in town. It was…okay. The atmosphere was fun, but the menu was kind of middling. There was nothing particularly innovative on the menu, just dressed-up bar food, really. I’d go again because they have some interesting drink options and some good snacky-type stuff, but I wouldn’t make a dinner of it again.

After that, we went to the Picador (the venue formerly known as Gabe’s), where I haven’t been for years. An artist Emily likes, Joshua Radin, was playing. It was an enjoyable show. It’s not my usual style of music, but he had a really pretty voice, especially when he did duets with his tour/love partner, Schuyler Fisk.

Following the show (it ended really early), we went out with some of the members of the backup band and a few other people who attended the concert.  It was nice to hang out with Emily. Here we are:


Pasta carbonara

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:31 pm

What I was really looking for was buccatini, which are the thick spaghetti tubes, but I couldn’t find any at Prairie Table, so I got linguine instead. It was still very good. Here’s the recipe I used (it’s actually a halved version of the original, hence some slightly weird measurements). Serves two. If you’re doubling, use 2 whole eggs plus one egg yolk.

Pasta (in this case, linguine, although spaghetti would be more authentic) Carbonara


2 tsp olive oil
4 oz thickly sliced pancetta or guanciale, cut into 1/4 inch x 1 inch strips (or whatever) (SEE NOTE)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 pound pasta
2 eggs, one of them separated
1/2 cup aged asiago or parmigiano, finely grated
1/2 cup peccorino romano (I think I actually got toscano, but it was good too), finely grated
freshly-ground black pepper and salt, to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When barely starting to smoke, add the pancetta or guanciale. Cook until crisp, stirring frequently. Do not drain. Set pan aside.
2. Heat 6 quarts of water in a large pot until boiling. Add salt, then add pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
3. While pasta is cooking, combine 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and about half of an egg white (don’t get too uptight about this.  Just make your best guess). Beat well.  In a separate container, mix the two cheeses.
4. When pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Reduce heat to low. Drain pasta, then return to pot.
5. Add pancetta or guanciale (including rendered fat), egg, most of the cheese, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the reserved cooking water until it is a nice consistency. This is up to you. I prefer it drier, so I don’t add much. If you like it creamier, add more.
6. Serve immediately, sprinkled with reserved cheese.

You can make a vegetarian version, which is more or less Pasta Cacio e Pepe (though I believe to be truly authentic it would have a particular sheep’s milk cheese). It is also delicious.

NOTE:  My local source for thickly-cut pancetta recently dried up, so I’ve been using the thinly-sliced stuff I can find at the supermarket.  With the additional surface area, I’ve found it’s better to use less–closer to 2 ounces for the whole recipe, not 4 ounces.

Hahahaha part deux

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:59 am

My coworkers are getting outrageous.  First this…

And then this:


I’ll say it too.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:56 pm

Also, it isn’t original, but I’d like to say thanks for being such a good writer, Mr. Vonnegut.  You make me proud to be an Iowa Cityzen.

Slaughterhouse Five was one of the first classics I ever read without having been assigned to do so, and it was really an important experience for me as a reader.  For one thing, it’s hilarious.  It was the first widely-acknowledged great book I ever read that made me laugh.  I realize that some of you people believe Dickens is worth reading, and I respect your right to wallow among sooty-lunged paupers and tall-haired aristocrats, but you have to admit that time travel and naked ladies are much, much better.  Art can be a lot of things, but finely-crafted words that make you laugh and think at the same time are my favorite art form.

You had a good run.  Now it’s done.  So it goes.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:32 am

You remember the Clock Placement Committee discussion, right?  Here’s another example.  This is for real, folks.

This morning when I came into the office at about 7:50, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this:

There were several specimens, all of which were swiftly removed, but I sneaked a picture first.  It makes me sad that they got taken down.  My workplace used to be a really fun, relaxed, friendly place to be.  It’s just not anymore.  But at least I got a good laugh this morning.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:52 pm

I really hope actual spring returns soon, and that this cold snap hasn’t demolished my rhubarb, because I really want to make some of these rhubarb and custard delights.

In other exciting news, I was reading Food and Wine the other night, and there was an article about “where to eat now” in a bunch of different cities around the world.  Included in the Rome section was our own Taverna dei Fori Imperiali!  We picked it at random because it was right across the street from our apartment, and it was so good.  The blurb talked about how the owner/chef and his wife and son do all the cooking and serving, and we knew just who they were talking about.  Good old Aldo.

One of these nights I’m going to attempt to recreate their spaghetti carbonara and ricotta dessert.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:40 pm

Hooray, the Fabian Shrimp Truck is back!  It is truly spring, except for the cold, gloomy weather and the sad, dead daffodils in the back yard.  But at least I will have tasty crustaceans.

So…about those Hamlet costumes.  Last night I was talking to the guy playing Osric about what kind of costume would be appropriate for him, and he said, “Something frilly.”

I said, “Quit effing around.  I have things to get done here.”

He went on to tell me that the director has asked him to play Osric super-gay.  Okay, whatever.  The biggest problem is that I have watched the Osric scene like ten times and never once noticed that he was playing the character flamboyantly, so if I dress him in something frilly, it’s just going to look ridiculous and people will wonder what kind of crack the costume designer was smoking.  Secondly, when did you ever see a gay person wearing frilly things?  When I think of a very flamboyant gay man, I imagine him in an impeccably tailored suit, with maybe a jaunty hat and neckscarf.  Or, on the other end of the spectrum, he might wear a skin-tight mesh tank top.  But frilly?  I don’t know, yo.


My weekend

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:40 am

Friday night: I got out of rehearsal early and Denny was at a poker game, so I had a Night of Beauty (not to be confused with Place of Beauty) in which I soaked my feet in scented water and scraped off my callouses and watched What Not to Wear. That haircut really helped that woman’s overall appearance.

Saturday: I did some costume work for Hamlet, which involved searching around in thrift stores for costume items. I found exactly zero of the costume things I was looking for (a posh-looking robe and a pair of white or grey pajamas, both for large-ish men). However, and this is the coup of the year for me, I found a 100% silk Diane von Furstenberg dress for $11.

No, seriously. I did. Diane von Furstenberg dresses of this variety (wear-to-workable) normally go for $300-$400. It’s probably from a couple of seasons ago, because I can’t find any pictures of it on her website, but that’s okay. I need to find a slipdress to wear under it because it’s pretty sheer, but I don’t care because I’m so proud of myself for finding it.

Also, Grindhouse is so good. It was gross and funny and legitimately scary at times. Kurt Russell made me laugh the hardest I’ve laughed in a movie theater since Borat. His part isn’t comical overall, but there’s this one part that about made me barf with laughter. My shoulders were sore all the next day, though, from being so tense during the scary parts.

Sunday: Denny and I smoked a chicken, some bratwursts, and some sausages. We had part of the chicken for dinner, and I’m saving the rest for a jambalaya later this week. The shrimp truck is coming to town tomorrow, which means big, fresh shrimp in my portion. Woot!

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