Sunday, March 29, 2009

A slight obsession

I love the color pink, and my closet reflects that love. This coat is a new purchase—I got it from Old Navy with birthday money from my mother-in-law (thanks again, Ardis). Even my nail polish is pink. When I spring for a pedicure, I never go for brown tones. I always pick pink or variations on that theme. I’ve even got some pink-ish eye shadows. Really they are more aubergine and are powder eye liners, but what is aubergine except a very dark pink? My blush is pink, my lipsticks are pink—yes I do love pink. I didn’t realize just how much pink I owned until I started taking pictures of my pink things.

Which leads me to this video. As I started putting my pink things on the bed to take pictures for this blog entry, I realized a video would be a LOT easier.

And the point of today's entry are these:

Amazing, aren’t they? I just got them yesterday from Designer Shoe Warehouse and I absolutely love them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Restaurant review and bonus kitty pics

Last night we gave Metropolis a try, walking through cold drizzle to get there. As part of his increased commitment to a healthier lifestyle, Kent walked from work which is about a 30 minute walk. Fortunately his coat has a hood since he didn’t bring an umbrella. I had an umbrella (thanks, Mom!) so stayed dry although not warm on my walk.

We split the price fixe menu down the middle. I had the butternut squash bisque, the pasta, and the mini cannolli, while Kent had the antipasto, the char and the pear. Overall the food was good, although not stellar. I found the bisque a little too squashy-tasting. I couldn't taste the green apple or toasted sage even with a big leaf of the sage floating most artistically in my soup. I did taste the smoked prosciutto, and the soup needed that to help calm down the squash flavor. Kent’s antipasto had fantastic grilled artichoke hearts and he said the avocado was amazingly fresh. The rest of his dish was fine but again not stellar.

His char was fantastic. If you have never had char and get a chance to try it, you should. As our server said, char has the skin of trout and the flesh of salmon, although not as rich or fatty-tasting. Kent said the ratatouille tapenade on the top didn’t enhance the dish so he ate it separately. My pasta was the hit of the evening. Think of the most delicious flat noodle pasta dish with chicken you’ve ever had, comforting but different all at the same time—that’s what my pasta was like. I couldn’t finish it so Kent did, and loved it too.

Our desserts were good but I will never understand why chefs insist on adding fruit to chocolate—its just not necessary and in my opinion, the mini cannollis suffered from adding the orange to the chocolate. The pear was good, and I want to know where Metropolis gets their cinnamon stick. That was the most intense-tasting cinnamon I’ve ever had.

Now for the bonus pictures. Usually Eddie takes his morning nap on the top of the cat perch (he’s there even as I write this), but on Tuesday he was a cat on a mission. He ran into the bedroom, found Wally curled up snoozing away and practically threw himself on Wally, draping his arm over Wally’s back. Pretty cute, don’t you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Metropolis tomorrow night

Restaurant week is almost over for the season and we'll give Metropolis a try tomorrow night.

I think I'll have the butternut squash bisque, and probably the arctic char although I'm not all that fond of wilted Swiss chard. For dessert, the pear sounds really intriguing.

I'll post afterwards what we each had and what we thought.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring is a myth in Boston

There—I said it out loud. Officially spring started last Friday. Sunday night/Monday morning, our temperature dropped to 22F. The high was 31. Today is not much better. The one saving grace is that it’s sunny outside. Sunny and absolutely FREEZING.

We are looking at ways to bring more natural light into our apartment. We knew going into it that light would be scarce, and it is. That’s also why we could afford as big of a place as we have, but in the meantime we are looking to boost the light. You might remember that our bathroom was originally painted dark gray (think battleship gray, only a bit darker) and has slate tiles on the floor and glass tiles in the bathroom that are three shades of gray. It’s a very dramatic look and in a space with lots of sunshine, it would work well. But not here—so the first thing we did was paint the bathroom a much lighter color and increase the wattage in the lights.

Saturday we got a different shower curtain and that’s made a huge difference too. The new one is slightly off white, and very sheer with more opaque leaves of the same color and material appliquéd on it. Being so sheer, it lets far more light into the shower. So next up in the bathroom will be painting the cabinets a glossy just off white color (they are faux cherry stained), and probably painting the walls a semi-gloss to match.

Our bedroom has a big window well with a small window. The well walls are made of poured concrete and we think at least one of us (OK me) can fit through the window. If so, we want to paint the concrete white. I’ve seen several window wells like ours around the South End that have been painted, and the paint really seems to increase the brightness.

Most of the painting projects require outdoor work, which in turn requires warmer weather. So I am waiting pretty impatiently for the weather to get warmer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

And the winners were . . .

Here's the scoop from our dinner out last night.

Kent and I both had the Grilled Portabella Mushroom Carpaccio for our appetizers. We'd both give this dish a solid A+ and I am on the hunt for a similar recipe. Truly it was amazing.

For our entrees, Kent had the Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak and said it was an A- only because the steak was fairly small. I had the Sautéed Chicken Scallopine and managed to eat half of it. I'd rate it A+ also, and wow was the chicken tender, I really need to learn how to get chicken breasts that tender. Of course the risotto was fantastic (although definitely NOT low fat).

For dessert, Kent now says he wishes he had gotten the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie, but he didn't. He chose the S’mores Bread Pudding. I had a taste of it and while it wasn't awful, it was very sweet. I think it would have been far better if it had been made with dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Kent rated it a C, and said it was too generic, with nothing special about it other than the charred marshmallows. I had the lemon bars. I've never had lemon bars before so I wasn't sure what to expect. They were OK, again nothing to write home about. I'd rate them a B, mostly because they did have flavor and I liked the combination of lemon bar with raspberry sauce.

While we both loved the appetizer and the entrees, I'm not convinced that Union shines at dessert. They gave us a coupon for a similar deal next month so we will go back and see if that's still true.

Man I love eating out in Boston!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What would you pick?

Boston has Restaurant Week a couple of times a year. Participating restaurants pull together a price fixe menu at a specific price point and it's a fantastic way to try something new.

Tonight we are going to Union Restaurant here in the South End. Here are our options:

Appetizer (choose one)
Fresh Spring Pea Soup with Creamy Pasta Shells,
Pecorino, Parsley and Mint

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Marinated Sweet Peppers,
Lemon Aioli and Cracked Pepper Scone

Grilled Portabella Mushroom Carpaccio
Shaved Fennel, Balsamic and Parmigiano Reggiano

Entree (choose one)
Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak
Iceberg Lettuce Wedge, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Toasted Baguette

Sautéed Chicken Scallopine
Lemon, Capers and Button Mushrooms, Spring Herb Risotto

Orrechiette Carbonara
with Pancetta, Peas and Parmigiano

Dessert (choose one)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

Lemon Squares with Fresh Raspberry Sauce

S’mores Bread Pudding

So what would you choose?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bonus post!

First, I took this video just two weeks ago. I hope we are done with snow now.

This past Sunday afternoon, Kent and I did some "yard" work. I put yard in quotes because of course we don't really have a yard. But we do have a large patio and we also needed to clean the screen that covers the iron grate over our bedroom window. Remember, our window is below street level so we have a huge window well that has an iron grate over it. At some point, someone had put screen mesh over the grate and it does help cut down on the crap that falls into the window well. But the screen was covered with leaves and pebbles, and all that stuff was cutting down our precious light. So we replaced the screen. I am going to try squeezing through the window when it's warmer so I can paint that window well. The well itself is huge, but the window is pretty small--Kent could never fit through it. I may not either but I think painting those walls white would also help get more light into our bedroom.

We also swapped out our bedspread, curtains and dust ruffle. Spring officially starts on Friday but I want it to start NOW! I put a new slide show of the winter/spring versions.

Finally here's a short video I took of the boys this morning. They were very dozy and snoozy this morning and watching them sleep sure made me want to go take a nap myself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy birthday, Ben

Ben was born at a civilized time of day -- around 8:30 AM. That's because my c-section with him was planned. The only bad thing was that he was early, like about four weeks early. I'm not sure how long doctors had been using ultrasounds to help determine fetal age, but in my case my doctor told me that the baby's head size meant I'd gotten pregnant a month sooner than I knew I did. Don't ask how I knew, just take my word for it, I got pregnant with Ben on July 17. But I was young and not prone to questioning authority so after offering up my reasons for knowing he was due in April, I did agree to have the c-section on the earlier date of March 14.

Boy he looked awful. His eyelashes hadn't really come in, his fingernails weren't all grown in either, and he looked really scrawny, even though he weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces. Our pediatrician came in my room the next morning and told me "Benjamin wasn't quite done yet." Boy was that the truth. On the good side (and unlike his brother), Ben slept a lot.

I don't have pictures from the first two months of his life because the place we took our film to be developed lost them all. So instead I've posted a picture of both boys taken in June 1983. Ben is about four months old and he had filled in a lot.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kitty stats

Last year my friend Sabrina pointed out that the boy kitties have long tails. I hadn't really noticed, although I did know that their tails were longer than Chloe's tail. This morning Kent and I did some kitty wrangling and captured some measurements. Then I scouted around online and found a site that lists average measurements for feral cats. All measurements are in inches.

I don't know their exact weights right now, they haven't been to the vet since last July and probably won't go until this coming July. But at their last visit, they had a big range of weight--Chloe and Wally both weighed right at 10 pounds and Eddie weighed a whopping 14 pounds. I think Eddie weighs more than that now. Putting him on a diet is next to impossible since he is a gobbler and the other two are nibblers. Restricting his food would only starve the skinny cats.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Toro, Toro, Toro!

We finally had dinner at Toro's last night. You may recall we'd tried twice before to no avail. The first time we got there at 6 PM on a freezing cold Saturday night only to find the restaurant completely packed with a 90 minute wait. The second time, their website indicated they were open for lunch but in fact they were not.

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful here in Boston and so I suggested we try Toro's again. Usually if we eat out it's on a Monday or Tuesday night, partly to avoid crowds and partly because Kent likes that gentle start to the work week. But we are supposed to get one to three inches of snow today and yesterday it was in the upper 50s--much better walking conditions. So making that switch was easy.

The dishes are very tasty and combine ingredients in unusual ways. Here's a link to their menu (warning--PDF). We completely oinked out and had dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese wrapped in jamon serrano, yellowfin tuna with citrus and soy, and hot green peppers with sea salt to name just a few. We'd go back again (and definitely on a Sunday evening), although we'd order more moderately. Having a gift certificate meant we could entirely indulge ourselves and indulge we did. I think my favorite was the grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese. It's actually half ears of corn that have been fire-roasted so there are these lovely charred bits. While I have no idea what's meant by aged cheese, that stuff was amazing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tightening up the budget

I know I'm not the only person to be actively looking for ways to tighten up our family budget in all categories. One of the ways we've been working on saving money lately is (of course) for food and household goods. I asked a friend of mine how she defined the grocery budget because I struggle a bit with that question myself. For example, how do you classify things like light bulbs, toilet paper or laundry detergent? For me, all of that gets lumped into the grocery budget.

That's not to say I get all those items at the actual grocery store--far from it. I prefer to do some price checking and then get those things where they are cheapest. The location varies so I have to stay on top of ads, coupons and circulars, but I think the pay off is worth it.

So with that big preamble, I've added a couple of new links to my Interesting Links section in the left hand navigation panel. You'll find a link for a blog called Cheap Healthy Good--my introduction to this very well-written blog was an article called 1 Chicken, 17 Healthy Meals, $26 Bucks, No Mayo, as well as another blog called Casual Kitchen (check out that article for starting a casual and inexpensive wine tasting club). If you have other blogs that fit in this general theme of saving money while living well, feel free to suggest them in the comments section.

In keeping with our tightened budget, today we saved about $2000. We'd gotten a bid for putting in under-cabinet lighting in our very small (8'x8') kitchen. That's serious money and while we desperately need the light, we can't justify spending that kind of cash right now. But the need for light is real, so today we picked up four GE Slimline fluorescent linkable plug-in fixtures for $76. Kent's installing them even as I type. I cannot wait to have a better-lit kitchen. While I would most definitely prefer them to be hard-wired to a switch, for the amount of savings I can live with this solution.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy birthday, Jordan

Twenty-eight years ago Jordan was born. He was a week late, which is typical for a first pregnancy. That didn't matter to me, I just knew I was going to go early because I'd dilated two weeks before my due date. Nope, I was a week late. This picture was taken at my parents' house in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I had traveled from Germany to Missouri after leaving the Army to have Jordan. I could have stayed in Germany since Rick was still in the service but I'd had an appendectomy that resulted in a seven-inch long incision at an Army facility, and didn't want to risk similar results when I had Jordan.

Here's a recent picture of Jordan and Sophie that I borrowed from Sophie's Facebook. He and Sophie are amazing dancers and to see them perform or compete as I've been able to do is just a wonderful experience. I am not sure which competition they were at for this picture; most recently they competed in Indiana. Sophie told me the competition was quite large and they placed in the semi-finals. After having seen a competition, I'm just so impressed with how well they do. And as you can see, they are both incredibly fit from all that dancing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Ginger Prince

Kent has renamed Wally the Ginger Prince. The new name is reserved for when Wally is either acting lordly or is sitting in a regal way. I think these two pictures taken yesterday morning more than qualify. So without further ado, I present to you the Ginger Prince:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snoozing kitties

Yesterday I took four pictures of the boys curled up on the top perch of the cat tree, snoozing away. Then I realized I have enough pictures of my sleeping kitties to build a slide show of them. So that's what you have on the left. I hope these pictures don't make you need a nap!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today's weather

If you listen to NPR in the mornings, then this morning you probably heard the newscaster mention the big storm that stretches from Washington DC up past Boston. I took this picture at about 6:15 AM--yesterday morning the patio was almost entirely clear of snow and the patio table was clear. The snow is coming down pretty steadily so I'm not going anywhere except to shovel later today. Apparently most of the East Coast airports are shut down and have canceled all flights. Good thing Kent left yesterday!

Here's our weather map from NOAA. So I think it's not going to stop snowing before noon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cuteness to follow the grossness of yesterday

Yesterday morning Wally was a complete love bug on my lap. I got my camera to snap a couple of pictures of him, and then he started playing with the strap. So I switched to video instead and here's what I got:

Last night Eddie was insistent on getting under the covers. As you can imagine, I was a little leery but he would not take no for an answer. I think that kitty should be in sales, he was so persistent.

Kent left for London this morning (6 AM flight). He goes to Frankfort on Tuesday and then flies back home again Friday. It's going to be a long week, especially since we are supposed to get snow today, tomorrow and Tuesday. Yuck. I am ready for winter to be over and that's a first for me.