May mosaic

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:27 am

Here are the May photos from the 365 Days of Self Portraits project.

Click the mosaic to be taken to the individual photos.

I was into Zombies and Ralph Wiggum this month.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:45 pm

Wow, it’s been a busy day.  I finally have a few minutes at my desk.

Did you ever wish you had a battered, deep-fried bacon double cheeseburger?  Now you don’t have to, because someone else documented the experience for you.  It might be okay if it were a little mini-burger thing, but the whole deal looks like a bit much.

Speaking of sandwiches, Panera canceled my favorite one (Peppersteak Blue), so I’m going to attempt to recreate it tonight.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


Phones and Phlorida

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:32 pm

I got a new cell phone.  It’s nothing awesome, but it’ll do.  Denny and I are on the “maybe if we go cheap now, we’ll be able to afford iPhones when the next generation comes out, when they’re cheaper and better” plan.  Anyway, my previous cell phone was a piece of crap, so hopefully this one will be better.

One issue:  when the guy at the store was trying to import my contacts from my old phone into my new one, he managed to delete almost all of them.  Sigh.  So I’ve had to pester all my friends and family to get their info.  If I didn’t ask for yours and you think I should have it, I probably just forgot; send me an email.  If you don’t know my email address, then I clearly don’t know you well enough to be calling you, do I?

It’s exciting to look at my Sarasota countdown and see that it’s less than a month away now.  It’s going to be really fun, I think.  There are a lot of really great things going on in my family right now (the wedding, of course; there’s also another engagement and a pregnancy–not me, calm down).  It will be fun to hang out with people who have such exciting things going on in their lives.  Plus some fun and sun never hurt a girl.  Well, I guess sun could, but I got some SPF sun gear.


Blueberry black pepper “shortcake” with basil ice cream

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:11 pm

This is my attempt at recreating a fabulous dessert I had at the Lincoln Café. I think it turned out pretty well.

You could leave out the black pepper if you’re SCARED, but I recommend leaving it in. It adds a really nice flavor dimension.


2 cups milk (I used skim, but whatever would work)
2 cups cream
1/2 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
3 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean (scrape out pulp and put pulp and pod in saucepan), and basil. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes.

Remove vanilla bean pod; pour milk mixture into a blender. Blend until no discernable bits of basil remain (approximately 1 minute). Add remaining sugar and cream; blend to combine.

Chill for at least one hour, ideally more. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.


This really has more of the texture of bread pudding.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/8 cup cornmeal
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, mix butter and sugar until well-blended and fluffy. Add the flour and water and beat until well combined. Put the blueberries into a blender or food processor and, with short pulses, chop the blueberries until, you know, they don’t look like blueberries anymore. It doesn’t have to be a uniform paste; some chunkiness is fine.

Stir the blueberries into the butter/flour mixture. In another bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and black pepper; add cornmeal mixture and cream to bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into an ungreased 8×8 inch baking pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place this pan into a 13×9 inch pan filled one-third of the way up with hot water.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. When the cake is set, remove the small pan from the larger pan and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. To serve, scoop out each portion with an ice cream scoop or rounded spoon.

Top with a scoop of basil ice cream. Garnish with additional berries.


What I learned today

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:19 pm

Actually I learned more than average today, and it’s only 1:04.

Anyway, here’s something I learned that I thought was really interesting. I’m reading a book called The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher. In it, I learned this interesting fact.

All the languages I (and presumably you, gentle reader) am familiar with use prefixes, suffixes, and additional marker words to indicate things like tense, person, gender, and plurality:

I say
She says

Yo digo
Ella dice

I/you/she will say
Ella dirá

Arabic, however, takes a different approach. Rather than add extra words or tack letters on the beginning or ends of words to denote these changes, Arabic relies on a base set of three consonants that represent a concept, and then vowels are inserted between and around the consonants to make the word take different forms. And not just tenses and gender, no! They can mean widely varied things based on the vowel combinations, but they still take root in the three-consonant set.

For example…the words Islam, Muslim, Solomon, and Salaam are all, at their core, the same word (s-l-m, in that order). s-l-m is never pronounced by itself, but it means “be at peace.” i-a, [m]u-i, o-o-o, and a-a-a, respectively, are what give the words their nuances. They have evolved in meaning throughout the centuries, but the etymology of each relates to “be at peace.”



Lost season finale II

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:57 am

We had the Lost season finale party last night.  The episode was pretty good, with the twists and turns we’ve come to expect.  Here’s the other treat I made:

They’re cheesecake squares, and they’re supposed to represent when Jack cut Ben’s back open to take the tumor out.  Appetizing!  Actually they were pretty good, and it was fun to hang out with fellow Losties.  Bonnie made some really good bean and cheese dip.  Bonnie and Steve have promised to host a Project Runway season premiere party, so we have that to tide us over until Lost begins again (which probably won’t  be for a really long time, since the next three seasons are only 16 episodes each, and no repeats).


Lost season finale

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:07 am

Here are the “fish biscuits” (actually peanut butter cookies in the shape of fish, to represent the victuals Kate and Sawyer ate while they were trapped) I’m serving at tonight’s Lost season finale party.  I’m also making another treat, which is slightly more gruesome.  I’ll show a picture of that if it turns out okay.

Crazy birds

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:06 am

Whoa, was there some kind of orchestrated bird attack all over the state yesterday?

From Katy’s blog:

Also, lesson learned again: I need to take my camera everywhere. Today, downtown by the Canteen, I saw a big black bird, as big a bird as the smallest dog, picking on a little brown sparrow, pecking at it and then taking it in its beak and throwing it down again. The sparrow’s twiggy legs twitched in death throes and it flexed one wing upward, like a man beaten down to the ground puts up his hands as a plea for his attacker to stop. The sparrow was tossed around a few more times by the large bird until it picked it up and flew to the roof of the nearest building with the sparrow in its beak. I stayed in the car and watched.

From Mark’s blog:

Before heading off to dinner this evening, we were sitting in the dining room looking out into the back yard when a grackle dropped down on top of an unsuspecting sparrow and started attacking it. We all sat there in disbelief for a bit (at first it looked like they might be playing, but then I think we all realized at just about the same time that a grackle wouldn’t be playing with a sparrow).

Mark and Katy are nowhere near each other. And, come to think of it, I saw some birds squabbling this morning in the back yard (though it doesn’t sound as violent as Mark’s or Katy’s experiences). What gives?


Daphne knows the score

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:20 pm

I hung out with Daphne for a little while this morning while her dad tried to sort some stuff out regarding a missing inhaler attachment.

Daphne is cool.  I want a little girl like Daphne.

We drew on the whiteboards.  She drew an alien, and when I asked her what planet it was from, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “Earth.”  Then I asked her what planet she’s from, and she said, “Iowa, but not Iowa City.”  This is internally consistent, as her family does, in fact, live in a nearby community.


Denny comes home tonight

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:54 pm

Hooray!  I am very excited about that fact.  The plants are too, I’m sure.

The weekend wasn’t very interesting, but the weather was beautiful, so I spent a fair amount of time actually outside or else on the (screened-in) porch.  Denny always calls it the screened-in porch, as if we have another porch.  We only have one porch.  I tease him about this.

It’s fair because he teases me for saying eastern goldfinch instead of just goldfinch.  I can’t help it.  It’s our state bird, and that’s how it was drilled into my head in elementary school.  Also, our state flower is the wild rose, not just the rose.

I don’t remember what our state song is, but you can bet it’s got an adjective in the title.  It’s probably something like “Rad Iowa” instead of just “Iowa.”


Here is where I offend all single parents everywhere

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:27 pm

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I thought, “Crap, it’s garbage day.”  Taking out the garbage is usually Denny’s chore, and he’s out of town.  There was no way I was getting away with not taking it out, considering the salmon detritus from last night’s dinner that was sitting in there.

I managed to take it out before the garbage truck came, so whew.  Then I went back in and completed my usual morning chores (making lunch, tidying up the kitchen a little).  At that point I realized I hadn’t watered the plants at all while Denny was gone, and I promised I would do that, so I ought to.  I got most of them watered, looked at the clock, and realized I was running late.

As I scrambled into the car, I thought to myself, “Being a single parent is hard.”

Yeah.  A plant parent.  Hooooo boy.


Seafood extravaganza

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:15 pm

I’m having a seafood partay the next couple of days, since Denny is away and he’s not crazy about the stuff.

Tonight I’m having a salmon steak with pesto (frozen from last year’s enormous basil crop), pan-roasted potatoes, and broccoli; tomorrow night I’m having shrimp linguine with lemon-garlic sauce. This is very exciting for me. It helps fill in the gaping hole in my heart (stomach) that emerges every time Denny goes away.

Wouldn’t that be really gross if that actually happened? All my stomach acid would come out and burn a hole in my shirt.

UPDATE:  Here’s how it turned out.  Oh man, it was really delicious.


My Grammy met Grant Wood

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:03 pm

I was over at my Grammy and Pop-Pop’s on Sunday for Mother’s Day, and I learned the coolest thing.  When Grammy was little girl, she spent a lot of her time at her grandmother’s house in Viola, Iowa.  At one point, someone (I’m not sure if it was Grammy or a sibling or cousin) said, “There’s a man in the yard.”

The answer?  “He’s an artist.  Don’t bother him.”

She even has a picture on her fridge of Grant Wood teaching his art students on her grandmother’s lawn.  It’s so awesome.  I love Grant Wood.  I was driving Denny to the airport today, and the twisting roads and poofy green trees made me think of Grant Wood’s paintings.  He captures that feeling of springtime in eastern Iowa so well.

This painting looks more like summertime, but you get the idea.


Portland for DC

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:10 pm

Denny is going to Portland tomorrow for work.  I thought about going with him, but then I decided not to for some reason.  I don’t actually remember that reason right now; maybe it was related to the upcoming trip to Sarasota.  Still, from where I’m sitting, the Sarasota trip seems really far away.

Anyway, Denny had hoped to visit Roloff Farms, the base of operations for the family in Little People, Big World. I don’t know if he’ll actually get that done or not, since it sounds like his schedule is pretty tight.  That’s always how it is at conferences; you get so excited to see a new place (see also:  Indianapolis) and then you don’t actually get to see much of it at all.  I can’t even remember if that place I went to in Michigan was East Lansing or Ann Arbor.  It’s whichever one is very close to Detroit.

I’m working on a semi-secret project at work that may prove to be the most fun work-thing I’ve done in months (years?).  We shall see.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:23 pm

I have never been to Indianapolis.  I was recently accepted to present at the CIC CIO Tech Forum 2007 (not much available at that site yet), and it’s in Indianapolis in October.  I have no idea what to do there.  Is it fun?

The presentation is going to be kind of lame, because it’s actually a colleague and me together, so I figured we’d each have half an hour.  Then, when I got the acceptance, I found out that we only get 20 minutes for both of us.  Sheesh!  How are we supposed to get anything said in such a short time?  I’ve got a lot of love to give, people.

Oh well.  I get a free trip out of it regardless, and I guess it’s less stress this way.  The question remains:  Indianapolis?  Any good museums or anything?


More TV stuff

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:46 pm

Those of you who watch Heroes know why it was a little disconcerting to see this in my Flickr mail today:



Off the Wall

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:24 am

This is what I wish I were doing with my life. It’s a great, lo-fi, funny and creative little comedy short about a guy and his friend who is drawn on a wall. My compliments to the creator.

Lost screen capture

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:45 am

Hey, do you watch Lost? If you do, and you’ve already seen last night’s episode, read on for a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it screen capture. It doesn’t really spoil anything, exactly, but it’s cool and I wouldn’t have noticed it if it weren’t for some enterprising slo-mo watchers in the Television Without Pity forums.



Basil ice cream = awesome

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:23 pm

Inspired by Mark’s post about the dinner he had last night last Saturday…

Denny and I went out and had a great meal last night. We had pepper-crusted ribeyes on a mushroom (including morel) fricassee with bacon, fennel, and wine-soaked figs, topped with arugula and herbed butter.

Dessert was especially notable: a free-form blueberry/black pepper shortcake topped with basil ice cream, candied tomatoes, and pine nuts. I think I could eat about six gallons of basil ice cream, and the shortcake was really unexpected and good. I’m going to attempt to make that once our basil plant gets big enough to use without killing.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:55 am

I recently (at about 10 last night) learned that it is Denny’s dream to stay in one of those in-the-water bungalows-on-sticks somewhere tropical. This surprised me, as usually he is kind of air-conditioning-centric, but he tells me the breezes from the water negate the need for air conditioning.

Far be it from me to thwart his travel dreams. Where should we go? This is all hypothetical, of course, but I like to fantasize. Does anybody know of any particularly great destinations where you can stay in a stilt-bungalow? He was looking at pictures from the Maldives, and that sounds pretty cool. I’ve been in a Fiji mood myself.

If I come up with any great ideas I’ll let you know.


Um…these are expensive.  Hm.  Maybe we can just go camping in the back yard after a strong rain.

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