My joke

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:57 pm

I made what I thought was a fairly funny joke today, but my audience wasn’t going for it at all.  Maybe I’ll get some love here.

I got a call from the front desk because there was this guy I’ve worked with who had stopped in with a question for me.  His name is Scooter.  The front desk called and said,

“I have a Scooter out here…”

I replied, “I have a bicycle in here.”

Dead silence.  Maybe it wasn’t the most hilarious joke in the world, but it’s polite to laugh when people are just trying to add a little mirth to the otherwise dull workday, no?


Sandwiches and nurseries

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:52 pm

Thanks for all the well-wishes, everybody. I’m pretty sure that’s my record for the most comments on a post. I feel like a grown-up blogger now.

I have a predicament. There’s this restaurant in town that has really great French fries, which come with their sandwiches. Their sandwiches are just so-so. They have other good stuff, like salads and pizzas, but you don’t get French fries with those. I have tried almost every sandwich on the menu, and I have never really wanted to order any of them again. The salads and pizzas are too big for me to eat and still be hungry for French fries. Oh, what a world, what a world.

It’s moving time in Iowa City, which means there are U-Hauls illegally parked everywhere and lawn-couches abound. Luckily, I don’t think there’s rain in the forecast, so if you’re in the market for some furniture, now’s the time to wander the streets. I’m really glad I don’t need to move in the foreseeable future. What a pain. It’s going to be challenging enough just to get the nursery set up.

I have exactly zero plans for what to do in there, except that I think I want to take the carpet out and I definitely want to repaint and take down the wallpaper border (it was there when we bought the house). I don’t really want a gender-specific room, because I think it’s weird to foist your gender-related hang-ups on a newborn, and we haven’t even decided if we’re going to find out anyway. Maybe we’ll just paint the walls white and put different pictures in front of the kid and try to discern which ones he/she prefers. I’ve seen some cool ideas on http://www.coochicoos.com, but it’s mostly for stuff I can’t afford. It’s good for inspiration, though.


I should also mention…

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:53 pm

…that when I got back to my desk after the appointment this morning, there was a bouquet of roses, irises, daisies, and something else I can’t identify (raspberry-purple colored and multi-bloom, like a hyacinth but not exactly) that had been delivered in my absence.

The note read, “Happy anniversary and happy heart beat. Love, Denny.”

Don’t you just love that guy?

160 bmp

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:21 am

We’ve known for a while, but I didn’t want to announce it until we heard a heartbeat.

Well, we had doctor’s appointment today, and the heart is beating loud and clear.

We’re nervous but really, really happy.


Logey bogies

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:25 pm

Several people I know are moving soon, like today or tomorrow or over the weekend.  I’m glad we’re not moving.  Moving = really hard work.

Actually, the physical moving part isn’t so bad.  Mostly I don’t like packing and unpacking.  I personally have no problem living out of a suitcase; if it weren’t for Denny, I would never actually pack or unpack from trips, I would just cycle clothes in and out of the suitcase.  Drawers?  Closets?  Why?

I had a big lunch and now I’m all logey.  It feels like Friday (probably due to going out for lunch–I do that mostly on Fridays).  I’m going to have some bad attitude when I have to get up for work tomorrow, I tell you what.

You know what I like?  How in Harry Potter (this is  not a spoiler) they refer to boogers as bogies.  It’s cuter word, like little Humphrey Bogarts grow in their nostrils.  Is that a well-known Britishism or do only Hogwartsians use the term?  I thought of this because logey sounds like bogie.


My dream come true

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:32 pm

I had my dream consultation at work today.

The Spanish department (my alma mater–er, alma departmenter) has a new tech coordinator, and it’s a young woman from Spain named Marta.  She came in because she had some questions about setting up their websites.  It was fun because I got to speak Spanish and hear a bit about what was going on over there.

Best of all, she brought her adorable ten-month-old nephew Jorge.  He has long eyelashes and big brown eyes and he was wearing a jaunty hat.

The only downside was it was really hard to concentrate on answering her questions when Jorge was being all precioso over there.  Ay yi yi!

To answer Katy’s question from a couple of days ago:

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and my dad is a good cook (and, more importantly, a good experimenter).  I didn’t really start cooking until I moved into my first apartment in college.  I was living with three roommates, and we all had dinner together once a week, rotating who was the cook.  That gave me the opportunity/impetus to learn to cook things that went beyond my usual repertoire.

After college, when I had a little more money to throw around, I started making an effort to go to good restaurants (I guess I did that and college and previously too, but it was usually as someone’s guest).  I also made friends with some people who have good taste and introduced me to some really innovative restaurants (notably, Trio when Grant Achatz was cooking there, and Martín Berasategui).

I don’t cook/eat extravagantly every day; I don’t have the time or funds or desire to get as chubby as I would if that were the case.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I have the luxury, though.

I try not to pay too much attention to food trends; apparently crème brulée is out, which is stupid because it’s delicious.  Foie gras is out among P.C. types and in among foodies, but I’ll eat it if it’s legal because it is amazing (yet cruel) stuff.  In fact, Grant Achatz did the best presentation I’ve ever had of foie gras:  he did some magical thing to it that made it look exactly like shredded wheat, but it was all light and melty on your tongue.  One thing that is always in is raw oysters, and I just can’t deal with that.  I was a good sport and tried them in Puerto Rico, but it was…a challenge.


New bed

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:20 pm

I’m working from home starting in about an hour because we need to be there to greet the Bearers of the New Bed.

Yes, last weekend we purchased a queen sized bed.  Barring trips to hotels or other luxurious spots, we had, until tonight, been sleeping in a double (known euphemistically as a “full”) sized bed.  It was fine at first.  We’re both smallish people, and in the first year we wanted to cuddle all the time, so it was no big deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still like Denny quite a bit, and cuddling has its place and time, but you know what else does?  Splaying.  I really like to splay, especially in hot weather.  Also, Denny has really pointy knees.  It’s not the kind of thing I would think to examine in a potential mate, but I now realize it should be a factor.  A couple of weeks ago, I was awakened in the night by two pointy rocks jamming into my thigh, as Denny had decided to roll over onto his side and face me.

We’d been talking about it for a while, so we finally broke down and bought a big bed.  It’s not a king-sized, which I think are too big.  I get lonely in them.  I like cuddling to be a possibility, and when I’m groggy in a king-sized bed, it’s like crossing the freaking Alps to find somebody on the other side.  I also tend to get confused in the night and think illogically, and if I don’t have immediate evidence of who is in the bed with me, I think it’s a stranger, and I get anxious and curse myself for not wearing pajama pants.  You’d think if there were a stranger in my bed, my outfit would be the least of my worries, but there is no explaining the things I do in a semi-conscious state.

I’m happy about the queen-sized, which I think will be a good compromise of spaciousness and human accessibility.

I want to jump on it, but somebody is trying to dissuade me.  Hmph.


More food

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:38 am

I cooked another zucchini item yesterday. It was inspired by Wolfgang Puck’s corn soup that was in the most recent issue of Food & Wine, but I made a few changes to make it lower fat and higher zucchini. I only made a half batch since it was my first time out with it, but I should have made a whole batch because Denny gobbled up almost the whole pot.

Corn soup with bacon and zucchini

5 ears of fresh sweetcorn, shucked and kernels cut from the cobs
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 medium-to-large zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced (to be honest, I’m not sure what that is in my garden. The plant label said zucchini but the results look more like squash. I think they’re basically the same thing anyway.)
olive oil

16 oz chicken or vegetable stock
2 strips of bacon, most of the fat cut off, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Take a little more than half of your cut corn and blend it up in a blender until it’s sludgy. Put a little bit (about 1 tsp) of olive oil into a large saucepan. Sauté zucchini over medium-high heat until soft, then add to corn in blender and blend until it’s all sludgy together.

In the same pan, put the onion and the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and the bacon is cooked. In a small pan, sauté remaining corn in a little olive oil until it’s lightly browned. Add to the bacon and onion mixture. Pour vegetable sludge into bacon/onion/corn mixture. Reduce heat to medium and add stock. You may need to transfer it to a larger vessel now if your pan isn’t big enough. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until it is hot throughout. Add cream, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper until it tastes good.

Serve with a dollop of jalapeño sour cream and/or garnish with chives.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:03 am

The zucchini bow before me.

In process:

Final product:


It’s a Thriller night

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:28 pm

I plan to try a couple of zucchini recipes over the weekend:  a smooth zucchini-rosemary soup (we also have a prospering rosemary plant) and a zucchini frittata.  One of these days I might also fry up some zucchini blossoms.

I hope zucchini have some good vitamins, because lord knows we’ll be consuming enough of them.  I’ve already made four loaves of zucchini bread.

We also have a thriving pineapple sage plant.  I think I might try to infuse some ice cream with that flavor.  I haven’t really been in the mood for ice cream lately, but I’m not sure what else I could put it in.  I guess I could make zucchini/pineapple sage bread.

Here’s a treat for you that Denny showed me this morning.  I am doing my best to spread it around, because it is truly something wonderful.

Prison inmates reenact the “Thriller” video 


Grammy’s house

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:40 pm

Denny and I are going to go see my grandparents (Grammy and Pop-Pop) at their house in Springville (near Cedar Rapids) this evening.  We have some spare zucchini bread (and how) to share, plus my parents are going to be there anyway.  It’s good for Grammy to have some company, since Pop-Pop had a stroke and isn’t a very good conversationalist.  I hope she enjoys the visit.

As I was writing the title for this post, I remembered something from when I was a little kid.  Every summer, my cousins and I would spend some time at what we called “Cousins’ Week,” which Grammy hosted.  We always had so much fun, and my cousins are still some of my favorite people because of it.  We’d have wienie roasts at Pop-Pop’s farm, we’d rehearse a show to present to our parents when they came to pick us up, we’d go see miniature horses, and we’d flirt with the dashing and exotic Springville boys.

I don’t remember what year it was, but one summer I wanted to write “Go to Grammy’s house” on my calendar.  I was still new to punctuation and pluralization, and I couldn’t remember how the y vs. ie and apostrophe situations were supposed to work.  Rather than risk inaccuracy, I wrote “Go to the Grammy house” on the appropriate date.  I don’t even know why I remember that so clearly, but it was still my first instinct to write “Denny and I are going to the Grammy house.”

It sounds like a place music awards are stored.  It’s not, though.  It’s just a regular house.


Stormy Tella

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:39 pm

The storm-sleeping plan didn’t work out so well.  We were sleeping with the windows open to enjoy the cool temperatures, but that made for really loud thunder that woke me up probably 5 times in the night.  Then the electricity went out, which meant the alarm clock was flashing.  I hardly ever oversleep due to my hyper-tense internal alarm, but that meant I was waking up all the time thinking it was time to get up.

Nonetheless, it worked out.  I was a little late to work, but that’s just because I had to drop my car Donatella off at the repair shop due to a Check Engine light.  I had it checked out when it first started, and the guy suggested it was from not getting the gas cap put on tightly enough (apparently it’s related to the fuel aeration system or some such).  I was suspicious that was not the case, since my gas-cap-affixing compulsion is up there with the internal alarm in its vigilance.  It turned out to be something that requires an actual part to be replaced, so he’s working on that.

My dream is to invent cars with immune systems, so that when something minor goes wrong, you can just let it rest for a couple of days and maybe fill it up with premium and it will get better.  Computers are starting to do this (repair disk permissions, all kinds of diagnostic tools).  There need to be more nerds in the auto-mechanical field.  We could save so much money.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:23 pm

I hope it storms tonight.  I love sleeping during rainstorms.

I bet there is rain coming in our windows.  We didn’t shut them this morning, due to not being smart enough to look at the weather forecast.  It was perfectly lovely when we left for work (as it was when we went for a break downtown earlier this afternoon).  Scattered storms indeed.

Oh.  My boss just came over and said she hears sirens.  I guess I have to go hang out in the lower level of the mall.

I hope I get to go to the land of Oz, or at least the nice furniture place down there.


Risotto accomplished

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:17 pm

I made the risotto. It hit the spot.

Delicious though it is, it kind of just looks like a white blob, so I didn’t take a picture of it.  I did, however, take a picture of the remains of the asiago cheese I used.

I used a variation on Alton Brown’s recipe. His contains asparagus and mushrooms and lemon, all of which are delicious, but I was in the mood for something a little more simple and classic. Here’s what I did:


3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio or other short-grain rice (I used vialone nano because it’s what I found at Prairie Table)
1/2 cup freshly grated aged asiago cheese
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

1. In a small saucepan with a lid, heat the chicken stock and wine until simmering. Maintain at a simmer.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add onion and sauté for about five minutes or until translucent. Make sure it doesn’t brown.
4. Add rice and cook for an addition 3-5 minutes or until the rice grains are translucent around the edges. Again, make sure the rice and onion don’t brown.
5. Add about 1/3 of the simmering liquid; it should cover the rice. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently until all the liquid is absorbed.
6. Add about half the remaining liquid and repeat step 5.
7. Add all the remaining liquid and repeat step 5 (steps 5-7 should take about 30-40 minutes, total).
8. Stir in cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. The texture should be thick and creamy.

This is totally comfort food. It would serve 4-5 as a side dish, or 2-3 for larger helpings. Recipe can be doubled.

I like it.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:44 am

Has anybody been reading the comic Luann over the last week or two? The storyline is moderately compelling, I guess (Luann’s brother wants to impress the pretty lady he has the hots for, and he has his friend cook a gourmet dinner for her to happen onto when she stops by his place to pick something up). Really, though, what it does the most is make me want some risotto.

I really, really want some risotto, made with a nice aged, nutty cheese. To tell you the truth, while I like risotto just fine, I’m not one of those people who lives and dies by it. I enjoy it, but if I see it on a menu, I may or may not order it, depending on what else is available. I had some super-good black risotto (squid ink, maybe? I can’t remember exactly what turned it black) with frog legs the second-to-last time we were in Minneapolis. Sadly, I can’t remember what restaurant it was at.

But dang. Risotto sounds really good. Does anyone have a favorite recipe?


Tiny lemons will grow up big and strong

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:30 pm

Today has been a busy day, and tomorrow promises to be worse.  It’s not so fun to have time away when a whole week’s work gets crammed into the two days one is back.

But that’s okay.  At least tomorrow is Friday even though it will only feel like Tuesday.

The drive home yesterday was long but uneventful.  We made a game-time decision to take 35W instead of 35E due to “major delays” on 35E.  I have no idea if there were really delays or not, but we made it back in 7.5 hours (which included 4 breaks:  1 beverage, 1 excretory, 1 meal, and 1 car-fuel), so I guess that’s not so bad.  One guy said he did it in 6 hours, but he may possibly be insane.

Iowa is much nicer now than when we left.  We have great big zucchini in the garden and bigger-but-still-small lemons on the tree.  If all those bad boys mature, we’re going to have a whole lot of lemons.  I’ll need to look into some really great lemon recipes.  It’s a Meyer lemon tree, and it seems like I’m always seeing candied Meyer lemon peel and stuff, so I guess it can be used in a variety of forms.

I’m thinking maybe this Meyer Lemon Budino or maybe just a nice Meyer lemon curd to spoon over grilled angel food cake or something.  I can see it doing well in savory dishes, too, like rubbed on a grilled chicken or stuffed into a smoked duck.


More Duluth

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:35 am

I am sort of friends with the CEO of a multinational corporation.  It’s weird.

I’ve got to say, though the product (like all others) has its faults, Desire2Learn’s staff is much less obnoxious to work with than any other corpo I’ve ever encountered.  They’re good folks.

Yesterday I found out that the reason one of their main tech guys is leaving is nothing particularly scandalous; he’s going to be backpacking around New Zealand for 18 months.  The CEO decided he must have been paying the guy too much if he can just up and do that.  He plans to abandon everything, even email, for a year and a half.  I don’t know if I could do that.  I really enjoy information.  When I was a kid, I was a U.S. Mail junkie.  I had ten or fifteen pen-pals (some of which worked out better than others; hi, Justin!).  I made a special mail envelope for myself to hang outside my room.

Email is better in terms of speed and quantity, but letters still have their charm.  95% of my U.S. Mail is junk mail anyway, so I guess I get more overall satisfaction out of email.  I had a friend in college who graduated before me, and he just to write me letters sometimes.  I thought that was really nice, but I later found out he…um…didn’t really know about email.  This was like 1999.  He was a sweet person but kind of dumb.

So anyway…what’s going on in Duluth, you ask?

Last night we went on this social excursion thing, which I thought was going to be a scenic train ride around the north shore of Lake Superior.  It turned out the lake was only visible for a few minutes of the two-hour ride, and the rest of the time it just went through business or residential areas.  It was mostly a drinky-drinky situation, which wasn’t really my bag last night.  There were some good food items, though.  My favorite was the pork tenderloin with some kind of fruity chutney.  We also managd to get back in time for s’mores at the hotel, though, so that was good.
I have sessions all day today, then half a day tomorrow, then a long drive back tomorrow afternoon/evening.  I’m glad Denny likes (or at least doesn’t hate) driving.  I like (or at least don’t hate) napping.


Minnesota USA

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:34 pm

Hi everybody.

We have arrived safely in Duluth.  We had a fun night last night in Minneapolis with John, Patty, and Niamh.  Niamh (pronounced NEEV, remember) is about the sweetest baby in the whole world.  She was so cheerful and made lots of great faces, mostly smiley ones.  We held her and played with her a lot, and it was great fun.

We went out to the movies (Eagle vs. Shark, which was sort of like a New Zealand version of Napoleon Dynamite, only the Napoleon character wasn’t really the main focus and it was in post-high school world), and she was so good.  She was silent the whole time, so those surly teenagers who gave us dirty looks can shove it.

We came up to Duluth today for my conference.  The hotel is right on Lake Superior, and it’s very pretty.  It’s kind of overcast right now, but if we get some sunshine in the next couple of days it has the potential to be quite beautiful.  It was nice of Denny to come with me.  I got him guest passes for the couple of recreational things that are going on, but mostly he’ll be working from the hotel room.

Here’s me trying to use both hotel beds at the same time:



Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:25 am

Hey, I’m ever-so-mildly famous in the blogosphere!

This is exciting to me.  It’s funny that they describe me as very girly.  Other than the facts that I like cute outfits and I don’t like competitive sports, I don’t think of myself as particularly girly.  I like technology and fart jokes and I am not very tidy.

That’s okay, though.  Ain’t nothing wrong with being a girl.  I guess I’m more girly than boyly, which is fine with me because boyly sounds like I’d have boils all over me.  DC and I watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle last night, so I guess I have boils on the brain.  Gross.
So anyway, where were we?

Oh yes.  Even though it seems like we just got home, Denny and I are leaving town again tomorrow.  The neighbors are going to think we don’t like them.  We’re heading up to Minneapolis in the morning to spend some time with John, Patty, and baby Niamh, then we’re pressing on to Duluth on Sunday for the D2L conference.  We’ll be there through Wednesday, then back home to work Thursday and Friday.  Ay yi yi.

I woke up early this morning, and instead of getting up and doing something productive, I lay in bed and thought about why almost none of the couples from The Bachelor or similar shows ever make it.  I came up with a few theories, but now that I think about them with a clearer mind, I think the answer is that stupid, shallow people go on those shows, and even if they’re not stupid and shallow, it’s a terribly unnatural environment that is not conducive to human relationships.

This is why I quit watching.  I did, I admit, watch The Bachelor: Rome, but that’s because it was right before we went to Rome and I wanted was all excited about anything Rome-related.  Too bad they spent all their time getting drunk in the castle and not out doing stuff in the city and environs.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:17 am

Everybody who’s in the know has already eschewed Mapquest (yawn) in favor of Google Maps, but Denny just pointed out some really cool features I had no idea existed (maybe they’re new).

Drag-and-drop rerouting and instantly updated directions if you want a different view!  Multiple destinations!  Traffic monitoring so you can avoid the trouble spots!

Check out this video of fresh-faced young Gmappers who will explain the whole thing.

Maybe it’s not quite as cool as Mrs. Garman (my parents’ new anthropo-voiced GPS), but if Google and Garman would just fall in love, imagine all the exciting things that can happen.  Are you listening?  You already have the same initials.

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