Sunday, January 29, 2006

Fun weekend

Deidre was here this weekend, and we had a fun (albeit short) visit. We went to our often-used visitor destination, Robert Moses State Park, which is on the westernmost end of Fire Island (click the star on the map for the better view). We took a walk on the boardwalk and saw a lot of deer, and Jess took pictures. We had planned on salmon for dinner, but on the way back, got a more decadent idea and so we stopped at the seafood shop to pick up some peeled, cleaned shrimp to batter and deep-fry. Of course, you can't have fried shrimp without onion rings, so I picked up a couple of onions, too, and we dipped and fried them. And because we desperately needed to have some health food with this meal, I made up some oven-roasted asparagus.

Although it took a good while to prepare, the results were tasty. While dinner was being made, we were listening to tunes on the Bose system and comparing musical tastes and we discovered that Deidre can really belt a fine tune!

For dessert, I made a S'mores-type concoction that I had in my head. I prepared a recipe of graham cracker crust but instead of putting it in a pie pan, I just pressed it out flat and rather thick on a cookie sheet. After I baked it, I cut it into small chunks and lined the bottoms of six custard cups with it. Then I made some Double Chocolate pudding with a favorite recipe of mine, and poured the pudding over the graham cracker "cookie" mixture. Marshmallows covered the top of the pudding, and then more graham cracker chunks and some mini-chocolate chips went on top of that. Then I baked them until the marshmallows browned. It was amazing. At least I thought so.

Then after dessert, we watched Lord of War, which I liked, surprisingly. It had two strikes against it from the start, for me: 1) Nicolas Cage was the star (I don't usually like him) and 2) it was a "war" movie, of sorts. But two things in its favor were 1) Jared Leto and 2) Eamonn Walker, both of whom I really like. At any rate, it was a really fantastic and disturbing film. The opening sequence, shown from a bullets-eye view from manufacture to use, was pretty cool, although the animation was too X-Box to be believable as it was interspersed with live-action film throughout the opening sequence. Still, if you just watched it and let it tell you the story it was driving at, it was hard-hitting stuff.

I would have to say that this was some of Jared Leto's best work ever. He was very convincing as Nicolas Cage's disturbed and drug-addled brother. The "high" sequences were evidence of the depth of his ability. And those eyes...

Anyway, for breakfast I made some frittatas with onions, broccoli, turkey bacon, and smoked turkey, and then we relaxed a little with the Bose system blasting some of our favorites before returning Mz. Ouiser to the train.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Search me

Okay, WTF? In a review of search terms that resulted in hits to this blog, Tuna Girl boobs is in the list. I have never written about K's boobs, and I certainly don't have pictures of them...and why is anyone but Tuna Man looking for them? Tuna dear, do you know...?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Florals 101

Okay, if you read my blog regularly, you know I sometimes create floral arrangements. So I went to my mom's last weekend. She has several arrangements that I have created for her. One of my favorites that I've ever done is one I made during my 2004 trip there:

This used to be a really horrible arrangement that someone she used to work with had made for her, and it was just awful. But my mom kept it around because occasionally the woman would drop by. Well, last year, the woman moved back Peru. So we doubt we'll be seeing her again, or at least anytime soon. When I asked my mom about re-doing the arrangement, she said she guessed it would be okay. Trust me, it was horrible...unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me so I could show you the before-and-after shot. Anyway, I created the above arrangement out of it, retaining just a few pieces that the woman had used originally, so that if she ever did show up at Mom's, at least Mom could say, "we just refreshed it a bit." Knowing the woman, I told my Mom, she wouldn't even ask the question, she would probably think it was what she did. Ha. If only.

At any rate, on this trip, I decided I would make over another arrangement long in need of a makeover. This one had been around for a long time...17 years to be exact. My friends Steve and Scott had come up from Texas in 1989 when my mom had remodeled her former house, and we went out and bought the flowers for this arrangement to go in a lovely cobalt vase that she had received from a co-worker. It's pretty, but silk florals have made a LOT of progress in the last 17 years, and the ones you can buy now look much more realistic than the ones of old. I didn't want to get rid of the arrangement because it had sentimental value for me and my mom, as well as aesthetic value. It mainly needed some freshening. So I went to Jo-Ann, Etc. (they have the best silks) and found a few pieces to add. I didn't tell my mom I was going to do this, I just came home with the flowers and started working. She was really surprised with the results, and actually, so was I.

The old silks were flat. No depth and virtually no realism to the petal shapes. Stems were gangly, buds had to be added to the original stems using floral tape. It was difficult to shape the flowers realistically because they didn't have as much wire in them. The red sticks were supposed to be pussy willow. The little white tufts had all fallen off over time. The entire arrangement was pretty sparse. Silk florals were not as cheap then, so I couldn't afford that much.

Mostly accomplished by adding florals to the arrangement, notice how the newer lilies actually look like lilies! New pussy willow stems have tufts! The old "red-stick" pussy willows added interesting color so I left them. Hyacinth that matched the deep blue of the vase more closely than the unreal-looking blue lilies of the old arrangement was added, as were several stems of berries that livened the color and worked well with some of the color in the existing arrangement. Since I took out very few stems, the new arrangement looks a lot more robust than the old.

By the way, if you're wondering, Jess took these beautiful pictures with his new Nikon D200 camera that he got for Chanukah.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nice holiday gift

Our friend Byrne gave us a wonderful holiday gift: a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. I shop there, but don't often buy; it's a luxury when I do buy something there, because it isn't cheap. But it's always nice. And that's something Byrne and I share a love of: cooking and great food. So the gift certificate to W-S was especially fitting, and appreciated. And some time back, Matt and John gave us an American Express Gift Card that we were waiting for the perfect opportunity to use. Matt is also a fabulous cook. So we thought it would be fitting to use Byrne's gift certificate and Matt & John's Gift Card to get something nice at W-S. And so, just today, I was bemoaning the fact that my cheap Benriner mandoline is tough and somewhat dangerous to use...and Jess dropped over to the W-S web site in search of a mandoline. And he found one...just like the one I had been wanting, except even nicer. So we went to W-S this evening and bought the mandoline, among other things.

It's fabulous. What a great gift. And I wouldn't have ever been inspired to get this great mandoline were it not for Byrne's and Matt and John's gift. Thanks, guys. You are the absolute best. We're very fortunate to have you as friends.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Well, it was a quiet New Year's celebration here. Our friends Matt and John and Jeff came over to enjoy some food and spirits. We were hoping for TunaGirl to join us since she was in the city, but she wasn't feeling well so no Tuna visit. Hopefully next trip.

Jeff made sour apple martinis to kick things off. I made a chicken enchilada casserole, and a salad with a southwest chili-ranch dressing. Jess made his famous corn and sour cream salsa and I made cheese dip to go along with an assortment of chips as an appetizer.

Matt brought his fabulous chopped liver and I was very excited about that!

Jess and I had made several candies over the course of the holiday season, so we brought those out: peanut clusters, cashew clusters, Cherry Mash bars, cashew brittle, January Thaw, and peanut butter-chocolate layered fudge.

The sour apple martinis took their toll: the gallon of eggnog that I made that I had no room for in the upstairs fridge wound up in the downstairs fridge, and that was the last it was seen of for the night. I mentioned it once to our guests during the evening and then didn't think about it again until the middle of the night, when I woke up and realized it had never come out of the fridge. Damn, damn, damn!

But, oh, well, it was a fun evening. We sat by the fire and enjoyed some fun conversation, then retired to the front room, where we watched the laugh-a-minute, ultra-campy Drop Dead Gorgeous before finally tuning in to a minute or two of New Year's Rockin' Eve to see how Dick Clark was faring...instead, we really only heard him...but we saw enough of the perenially bubble-headed Mariah Carey to last us for the next 20 years: she kept trying to pull her hair out of the way to show us her boobs, which were practically falling out of her dress. It was very obvious that she was working hard to make them the stars of the show. *What*a*SLUT!* She was the REAL boob. We quickly switched to New Year's Eve with Anderson Cooper to watch the perenially sexy Mr. Cooper ring in the New Year.

The night quickly came to an end with the tolling of the midnight bell...the guests had to drive back home and we were tired from all the prep, so Matt and John hit the road and Jeff, Jess, and I headed to bed. We were all wrapped up by 12:30. How boring is that?! Oh well, it was fun, nonetheless.