Saturday, April 26, 2008

A little wine and cheese adventure

I have to say that as far as boyfriends are concerned, Noe is a pretty great one. His greatness is especially evident when I ask him to humor some weird idea I have, such as going to the goat farm.

Yes, I asked Noe to take me to a goat farm. The idea came to me at work one day when I was bored and surfing websites that have not yet been blocked but probably will be soon due to my excessive surfing of them. Obviously, all the usual suspects - Facebook, MySpace, YouTube - have been blocked for awhile, and around Christmas time all the shopping sites - Amazon, Ebay, any store you can think of - started dropping like flies. (Believe it or not, they have not blocked Blogger - of course, that could be because one of our IT guys enjoys reading my blog and then calling my extension to discuss.)

Luckily for me, restaurant sites have not been put on the chopping block. Nor have chamber of commerce or downtown development-oriented sites, such as New London Main Street. Most people probably wouldn't care, but I occasionally go to these types of sites in my desperate attempts to find things like teams, lessons, events, etc (still looking for that soccer team, by the way). Anyway, somehow I ended up on the Fiddleheads food co-op site, I think maybe because I was trying to find the hours for the farmer's market. From there, I ended up on the "links" page, and from there I ended up at the (virtual) goat farm.

Meadow Stone Farm is in Brooklyn, Connecticut. According to MapQuest, it should have taken us 56 minutes to get there but it took more like 45. I wanted to go because Meadow Stone Farm makes and sells artisan cheeses on their premises. They sell both cow and goats milk cheeses. It was a little early in the season for the goat cheeses, but the website said they had two varieties of cow's milk cheeses (they also sell all kinds of soaps and lotions, most made with a goat's milk base, in addition to honey, occasionally eggs, and some other good stuff).

A very nice woman at the farm told us all about the cheeses and the different products and let us sample the two cheeses available, the brie and the abbey (kind of like cheddar).

The brie, while not as creamy as one might expect (it had a little bit more of a crumbly texture, although definitely not as crumbly as, say, chevre) had great flavor and was especially good when spread on some rosemary crackers I had in the cupboard (thanks, Judy!) The abbey was delicious as well and I'll probably eat it sliced up alongside some apples (maybe Granny Smith?)

As you've probably guessed, I purchased both cheeses and am very much looking forward to going back in May or June to get some goat cheese and - wait for it - milk and dark chocolate goat cheese truffles. (Chocolate and goat cheese may sound disgusting to some, but please trust me when I say it works. It works beyond belief.)

Part of the fun of buying our cheese at a goat farm was obviously seeing the goats. Although we were informed that Elsa, the goat who appears on the website and many of the product labels, had passed away, there were plenty of other goats around (including Elsa's daughter, GiGi). We even saw some tiny babies (only a couple weeks old) and were told that there was actually a litter of goats born that morning before we got there.

By the way, Michigan readers - Meadow Stone Farm ships, so if you're interested check out their website:

You might think our foodie adventure ends here, but since Noe was being so accommodating, we also got to visit the winery down the road. Sharpe Hill Vineyard is sort of hidden - it's way back on a twisty-turny, very narrow country road - we thought for a few minutes we might be going the wrong way. However, we eventually located the vineyard and headed in to the tasting room.

Now, wine is not really Noe's thing, but he tried a few varieties anyway. I tried more than a few. Most were drinkable and some were pretty enjoyable. I think I made my selections based completely on the nice weather we've been having - I left with a Dry Riesling and the Dry Summer Rose. Both will be enjoyable chilled while sitting in the backyard, perhaps after we put in the patio. I did not pick up any of the Select Late Harvest (a dessert wine made entirely of estate-grown Vingnole grapes) on this visit, but we did try it and it was a mouthful of sweet fruity deliciousness. Actually, Noe said he "kind of liked it", which coming from Noe is pretty high praise for a wine. (Noe only likes the sweet stuff.)

All in all, this was a pretty enjoyable way to pass a warm and sunny afternoon. Cute baby animals, cheese and wine...does it get any better than that?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weird, Al

Al Sobotka rocks. If you can't swing the octopus on the ice, swing it in the tunnel. Go Wings!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mom always says "Don't swing octopi in the house!"

OK, I know I said I was going to try and reign in my hockey blogging, but this issue simply can not be ignored.

The NHL recently banned octopus-swinging from Joe Louis Arena.

For the less-enlightened, octopus flinging and swinging is a JLA tradition. After the national anthem, an octopus is thrown onto the ice. Al Sobotka, rink master and Zamboni driver extraordinaire, goes out to pick up the octopus. While some would gripe and groan about this somewhat disgusting duty, Al exits the ice by twirling the octopus over his head, helicopter-style.

Cue the roaring crowd.

Seriously, who is this harming? Who in the NHL administration is so lame that they actually thought up and pushed through this rule? If Al busts out his signature move at tonight's game (Round Two opener against....the Colorado Avalanche!) he will be fined $10,000. That's a lot of money for a Zamboni driver, even if he is the most famous Zamboni driver, like, ever.

Why has Al been banned from swinging his Octopus? According to an email from the NHL to the Freep, "Because matter flies off the octopus and gets on the ice when he does it."

Luckily Detroit hockey fans know an injustice when they see one. I encourage everyone who loves Red Wings hockey - and those who don't, but see how incredibly pointless and ridiculous this rule truly is - to go online and sign Al's petition:

Seriously - if you can't swing your octopus, what CAN you do?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Raiders of the Lost Art

Kids today have no idea what hard work really means. I'm not talking about walking-five-miles-uphill-barefoot-in-the-snow-to-get-to-school hard work - I'm talking about making a mix tape.

That's right, the mix tape, a now-defunct art form that literally took hours of careful thought and planning to execute. Kids today can just download songs and burn them to a CD. (Burn? Download? What is this new-fangled nonsense?) A burned CD of downloaded songs is the equivalent of picking your date a bouquet from her flower bed - there's no real work behind it, rendering it somewhat meaningless.

Back in the mix tape days, you had to actually own the music you wanted to put on the tape. If you did not own a cassette with your chosen song, you had to tape it off the radio. This required countless hours of holing up in your bedroom listening to lame radio shows with your finger poised over the "record" button only to hit the button ten seconds too late or have the last twenty seconds of the song spoken over by the DJ.

Not that taping songs off other cassettes was much easier - you had to cue it up to the right song and you had to have a dual cassette player (more than one mix tape failed in its purpose due to the fact that the maker simply tried to put one cassette player facing another one - the song sounds really far away and you would inevitably have the maker's mom in the background asking "What are you doing, honey?")

Even when CDs caught on and CD/cassette players made the recording process easier, you still had to own the songs you wanted to put on the mix tape. The likelihood that you owned 13 or 14 songs fitting one theme was not high, so sometimes you would end up with four of five themed songs and nine or ten that served as filler.

Mix tapes seemed to hit the high point for my class our junior year, when most of us had cars with cassette players to listen to them. (Some of us lucky people had portable CD players that had to be plugged into the cassette deck.) My friends and I made and swapped quite a few mix tapes. They weren't strictly a romantic thing - in our case, they really weren't a romantic thing at all because, let's just be honest here, my friends and I were not the group of girls that most YHS boys circa 1995-1999 were clamoring to date.

I received several quality mix tapes that year. Among my favorites:

1. The three-tape "Cool Tape" series mixed by Brandon Louthan. The inscription from the original "Cool Tape" appears below. This tape was mixed at the end of tenth grade and included songs such as "Runaway" by Del Shannon, "Louie, Louie", and several original songs by Brandon's band, Flotilla. The Cool Tape II and Cool Tape III contained some Weird Al Star Wars parodies and a pretty sweet punk version of "Build Me Up Buttercup" - but sadly, they never lived up to the promise of the original.

(Also, for those who can read the inscription and are wondering, I sadly did NOT call Brandon when Men in Black came out - I saw it with Jen Campbell instead.)

2. "Ray's Cool Tape" mixed by Ray Burg.
After seeing the Cool Tape I in typing class, Ray decided that it was NOT cool and the very next day brought me his own version of a cool tape. His tape had automatic coolness cred because he recorded all of his songs off actual records. Ray's Cool Tape contained a lot of obscure Beatles, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.

3. "Amy's Ghetto Fabulous Mix Tape Boo Ya!" mixed by Chareen Goven.
This tape was actually made senior year. One side was pretty much devoted to Marvin Gaye, an homage to Chareen's dad, Don. The other side, however, was filled with DMX, Tupac, and other rap music that I didn't listen to very much on my own but was more than happy to blare in the Tempo with Chareen in the passenger seat while we cruised Washtenaw Avenue or rolled up to soccer games in the middle of nowhere.

4. "Amy's Really Super Tape" mixed by Tim Schreiber. If there was ever a tape made of music I never would have discovered on my own, this was it. Some of it was fairly mainstream (Beck) but most of it I had never heard of (Ween, Meat Puppets, T. Rex). I am including the song list below, if you can read it:

As you can see, Tim illustrated the cassette jacket himself, in crayon. The best part was the cover of the Really Super Tape, where he included an illustration of my neighbor Marshall, who at the time thought himself to be black:

Marshall didn't have anything to do with the tape; Tim had just met him at the Heritage Festival and thought cover art was a good opportunity to showcase his interpretation.

These days (how old lady of me), all kids have to do is go on the internet and download all the songs they want. They burn them to a CD and can even print out a fancy label. The whole thing takes maybe 15 minutes, max. Some of those CDs might even contain great and meaningful songs...but if you want a real display of affection, you need look no further than a good old-fashioned mix tape.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

IDK, my BFF Rose

In my last post, I referenced my best friend Rose and the fact that she moved away when we were in fourth grade. Ironically enough, Rose called me yesterday to tell me that while opening random boxes in her parent's basement, she found a box of letters, all dated 1991, that I had written her after she moved.

The portions she read to me are pretty priceless. Sample paragraph:

Hey Rose,

Are you reading anything good right now? I just finished BSC #43 and it was great! Is Greg still the dumbest kid in the world? PS - tell your dad to keep up the good work on the banana pancakes!

BSC #43 refers to the forty-third book in the then-popular Babysitters Club series (which according to the internet is Stacey's Emergency), Greg refers to Rose's younger brother, and keeping up the good work on the banana pancakes seems to refer to Mr. Peruski making banana pancakes, but as I do not remember him ever doing so is more likely than not some stupid private joke.

Obviously, I wish I had letters from Rose to retaliate with, but her letters have all fallen victim to my father's sporadic "throw away everything in the house" binges. However, Rose has promised to send photocopies or scanned versions of some of my more choice letters and I will share them with you (maybe) as soon as she does so.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck...

Tonight's episode of the The Office ended with Michael (Steve Carrell) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) singing "American Pie" in a cemetery. They had no sooner hit the line "I know that you're in love with him" when Rose and I began frantically texting each other.

Rose and I have been friends since first grade (that's 21 years, for those of you who are counting) and "American Pie" is one of our favorite songs. The obsession began after Rose moved to Bad Axe, MI (that's in the thumb, for those of you who want the hand map) when we were in fourth grade. Although we were devastated at the time, Rose moving 2.5 hours away actually provided me with a week (or two) vacation every summer, much to the dismay of her younger brother and the annoyance of her father.

The first or second summer Rose lived in Bad Axe, her family had a satellite dish - they were the only people I knew who actually had one. This was when satellite dishes were bigger than the trampoline they had in their back yard (another awesome part of staying at Rose's house - trampolines didn't have guard rails back then).

The Peruskis got all sorts of weird channels via satellite, including one called "More Music" which apparently played concert videos and cheesy music videos from the 70's and 80's. Rose and I were especially taken with "Fernando" by ABBA and spent hours singing (screaming) it on the trampoline. However, another song in frequent rotation on More Music was "American Pie."

I can't even tell you at what point the song became a tradition, but we sang it every summer, sometimes making up our own words. For instance, after Tim O'Malley taught me how to polka at the Ubly Summer Homecoming Dance (note: the whole town is Polish and the polka is played at all events, including high school dances - they learn how to do it in gym class up there) we changed the line "I know that you're in love with him because I saw you dancing in the gym" to "I know that you're in love with Tim because I saw you polka in the gym."

If Rose and I were a couple and had "our song", no doubt it would be "American Pie." Sometimes we forgot that other people were not really in on the joke, like the time (approximately four or five years after the polka lesson) that we thought it would be a good idea to bake a pie for Tim O'Malley and leave it on his doorstep with a note saying something to the effect of "Did you write the book of love?" We found it clever; Tim found it annoying and creepy.

(This was also the summer Rose and I spent afternoons rollerblading up and down Main Street - the only street in Ubly - past Tim's house, which after passing, we would immediately turn around and rollerblade past in the other direction. Tim liked us at the beginning of the summer, but he was permanently done with us after about two weeks of this nonsense.)

So while Michael and Dwight singing "American Pie" in a cemetery might seem humorously odd to some, to me and Rose that song is appropriate anytime, any place.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nice Aim

Have you ever seen this done before?

This was taken with a camera phone so it's a little dark, but what you think you are seeing is true: Noe threw a bullseye and then immediately proceeded to throw another one right into the first dart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Prepare your Fangers...

Way to blow it, guys.
How Wings-Predators Series Changed in Nine Seconds

Dom, you couldn't have held on for three minutes and fifty-seven seconds? Seriously? And what's with the double goals? Any team that scores on you is like, guaranteed another goal with two minutes. Are we running a two-for-one special here?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Truth Hurts (and so do shin splints)

I think excessive hockey blogging may be costing me readers - I haven't had any comments in awhile. So for this evening's edition, I will take a break from sports commentary (but believe you me, it will return tomorrow).

One thing that I can honestly say I like better about Connecticut than Michigan is I have better running routes. Everyone knows I have been in a fitness rut (hell, for a few months after moving I was just in a general rut). But lately, with the return of sunshine and 50+ degree weather (and a looming half-marathon) I have really made an effort to get outside again. I ran so much over the past week that I realized I was long overdue for new running shoes (shame on me - I've been wearing the same pair since the 2006 Detroit Free Press half-marathon).

Here in New London, I can have water views for a whole run if I like - all I have to do is run down Pequot Avenue. A three-mile round trip run gets me to a white sand beach and back (won't summer be fun with a beach 1.5 miles away?) I could even run to work if wanted to - and I intend to start doing that this week in a desperate attempt to log some miles. I clocked it in my car - it's only about 2.5 miles, and there are sidewalks almost the whole way. A seven or eight mile loop could get me to Harkness State Park and back (and if I can't run an eight mile loop by this weekend, I am in serious trouble for Indy).

So running has been good for me - I have discovered something I can honestly say I prefer to Michigan (running through subdivisions got pretty boring). However, taking up running again has made me realize how out of shape I have truly let myself become, and I am pretty disgusted with myself in that aspect.

The picture above is me and my dad when we ran the half-marathon in Nashville last April. I ran three half-marathons and a couple 10-Ks between October 2006 and August 2007. I was also playing outdoor soccer once a week in the spring and playing tennis up to three times a week in the summer. Believe it or not, this was not my MOST fit. But I was in pretty decent shape considering we had cookouts every Friday and drank beer and mojitos on the porch all summer.

It's not completely my fault - I don't have the sports teams or lessons that I had readily available in Michigan (for those of you who were wondering - I never did find a soccer league, and I asked EVERYONE. Sports in Southeastern Connecticut are only for Electric Boat and Pfizer people). But if I don't have the teams and the lessons, I need to be out there running or walking or going to the gym. I am in such worse shape now I can't even stand to think about it. It's not that I have gained so much weight, but I have lost a lot of my muscle and pretty much all my endurance.

I can't sit here and be unhappy about this anymore. I also can't continue to bitch and moan and use not having a soccer team or tennis lessons as an excuse. It's up to me to fix this problem - but I am allowed to be pissed at myself for letting it get to this point.

NHL Playoff Roundup

Note to Noe: Looks like agrees with your opinion that Evgeni Malkin is completely overshadowed by flashier teammate Sidney Crosby. Check out this little puff piece: Despite His Talent, Pens' Malkin Lurks in Shadows

Now, a little playoff roundup:

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: Canadiens lead the series 2-1.
It was almost 3-0, but Marc Savard's OT slapshot brought the Bruins back. Oh well - we might as well let them have one win, right?

(Note to Bruins: I don't want to hate you. You are an Original Six team. In fact, I would appreciate it if you would get good so that I would have a hockey team within a reasonable distance and games to attend. That being said, I can not root for you in this series. Maybe next year.)

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils: Rangers lead 2-1.
The Devils John Madden has Ranger's defenseman Marc Staal to thank for his overtime goal. The Devils caught a lucky break on this one, but Brodeur has step up his game if they want to stay in the series. I'd also like to say "nice goal" to the Rangers Sean Avery - nice to see you working on your scoring instead of on your locker room commentary!

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators: Penguins lead series 2-0.
Way to go Pens (although I am sure Aaron is crying in his beer over his beloved Senators. Note to the Mini-Wiseman - go easy on him!)

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals: Series tied 1-1. Philly gets to take it back home for game three. We'll see how Alex Ovechkin does with a riotous Philly crowd booing his every move (my guess? He'll be fine.)

Western Conference

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche: Series tied 1-1.
A few years ago, this would have been a laughable match-up. At least, we thought it would be...turned out the whole Western Conference was a lot less humorous that year than most of us intended it to be (that was the year that the Wings were taken out in the first round by the Ducks...the year ALL the favorites were taken out in the first round, actually). The old guard of the Avalanche may be back in tact (Forsberg, Sakic, etc) but the old magic doesn't quite seem to be there...but that Jose Theodore sure is cuter than Patrick Roy!

Calgary Flames vs. San Jose Sharks: Flames lead series 2-1.
The Flames rallied from three unanswered goals in the first period of the last game to pull off a 4-3 win. And hey Ken Holland, check out who's in goal: none other than former Wing Curtis Joseph, who was completely abused by the Detroit administration. Go CuJo, go!

Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks: Stars lead series 2-0. Props to the hometown boys (Westland native Mike Modano and former UM goalie Marty Turco). Keep it up - I don't really want to play the Ducks anymore this season.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators: Wings lead series 2-0. The Wings are off to a great start, but there's a pretty good amount of luck that has gone into these wins. We have to buck up on our actual performance if we want to keep the streak alive. Congrats to Chelios for playing in a record 248th playoff game (take that, Patrick Roy!) and don't let those Preds fans and their stupid "fangers" get to you too much (check out the Freep article Baby-ing Chris Chelios in Nashville).

Friday, April 11, 2008

This is how we do it...

Ahh, the NHL playoffs. The time of year that I take a temporary leave from being a poseur restaurant reviewer to be a fake sports columnist.

Nice job Wings! Props to Zetterberg and Franzen for finishing their chances. Dom, thank you for not totally sucking. Chelios, how about NOT turning the puck over in the future - just a suggestion, OK?

Read about the Wings first-game victory in the Freep article ZLightful! Zetterberg's 2 Goals Give Wings 1-0 Lead

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rangers Edge Out Devils in Game One

I know - for years I have called the Eastern Conference boring (only in comparison to the Western Conference - hockey in general can never truly be boring.) While my opinion hasn't exactly changed, being on the East Coast forces me to keep a little more of an eye on the East Coast teams. And I wanted to point out that Mini-Wiseman's Rangers-Devils prediction is looking good after game one.

Check out the New York Times coverage here: In Rare Lapse, Brodeur Hands Edge to Rangers

Blog Name Change

Yes, I know this is the third time I have changed the name of the blog. It is also the LAST time I will do so. Please update your links accordingly.


Rocky Mountain High

A little column scrounged up from the Rocky Mountain News outlining the NHL Western Conference: Western Conference Preview by Aaron J. Lopez
Detroit vs. Nashville game one tonight!

Monday, April 7, 2008

We Are the Champions (well, we probably won't be, but a girl can hope, right?)

Now that the NCAA tournament has ended, let's talk about the REAL playoffs: The NHL.

NHL playoff time always makes me nostalgic for a few years back when we could look at a playoff schedule and laugh at match-ups like Anaheim-Detroit or Minnesota-Colorado (Ah, remember when those seemed humorous? Remember when Nashville was a complete joke? How times have changed.) My sister Kristen recently announced her predictions on her MySpace blog.

Mini-Wiseman's predictions (with Mini-Wiseman commentary):

Western Conference

(1) Detroit vs. (8) Nashville - easy as pie, Wings in 5

(2) San Jose vs. (7) Calgary - they need to start living up to the hype, SJ in 5

(3) Minnesota vs. (6) Colorado - all I have to say is Jose Theodore, Avs in 6

(4) Anaheim vs. (5) Dallas - this is the closest match-up, Stars in 7

Eastern Conference

(1) Montreal vs. (8) Boston - this is a joke right? Habs in 4

(2) Pittsburgh vs. (7) Ottawa - regular season stats don’t matter now, Pens in 5

(3)Washington vs. (6) Philly - It may be Sergei’s last time to shine, Caps in 6

(4) New Jersey vs. (5) NY Rangers - NJ hasn’t been good in years, NYR in 5

I agree with Kristen's predictions for the most part - unlike me and my dad and the tumultuous NCAA bracket fill-out, Kris and I tend to agree on our hockey. The only things I may call into question in her predictions:

Anaheim Vs. Dallas in the West:
The rest of the Western Conference is definitely going to be put on hold waiting for the outcome of this series. I think it's going the full seven games either way, but I think Anaheim and those stupid Neidermeyer brothers might manage a victory (them and Pronger, provided he can actually stay on the ice, ha ha).

New Jersey Vs. New York Rangers in the East: I agree, NJ hasn't been good in awhile, but they still have Brodeur in goal and he can pull it out - this may be a six-game series. I still prefer the pick of the Rangers for the sake of Brendan Shanahan (we're Shana-fans in Detroit, even though he left us) and Jaromir Jagr (really, I like his name).

As for the rest of the picks - seriously, the Bruins made the playoffs? How did that happen? (Sorry East Coast, but you know they haven't exactly had the best decade or so.) I am very excited to see how the Pens perform in playoffs (and to resume my Malkin vs. Crosby argument with Noe, although I am NOT excited for repeated viewings of Crosby's stupid Gatorade commercial) and I can't wait to see what Sergei will do for the Caps (please, Sergei - just do something, OK?)

As for the Red Wings: well, I wish I were more optimistic. I am going to cautiously stick with Mini-Wiseman's prediction for Round One, although Nashville is a scary team for us. And though it breaks my heart to say it, I think we'll expend so much energy trying to beat Nashville in the first round that if we make it to the second we may be too tired to inflict any damage. That being said - I hope I am wrong.

Let's Dance (Let's)

I just want everyone to know for the record that I got slaughtered in the NCAA basketball brackets this year. I picked Kansas as the number one seed that would NOT make it to the Final Four. Go Figure.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rugby + Cookout = LOTS of Fun

What a weekend! Actually, now that I think about it, it's been a pretty crazy past three weeks or so. Even if had not been slightly hung over I think I may have needed to spend all day in the armchair watching movies on TV (The Princess Bride was on!) because I didn't realize exactly how tired I was. Family in town, going home for a weekend, and of course, rugby games and cook outs will wear a person down!

Friday night was pretty low-key - we checked out a movie. I talked Noe into humoring my George Clooney infatuation and seeing Leatherheads. It was actually pretty decent - we both enjoyed it well enough and Renee Zellweger wasn't so completely annoying that she ruined the movie, so we consider it to be a winner. Clooney really does remind me of Carey Grant or Clark Gable or one of those old-time movie stars - and he looks great in 1920's period clothing!

Saturday is what really did me in, however. The forecast called for heavy rain, yet by 10:00 Saturday morning the sun was out and the temperature was rapidly approaching the mid-50's. Not being able to bear the thought of staying inside on such a lovely day, Noe and I decided to join Kevin Doyle and Amanda and check out Kevin Lester's rugby game.

The closes I have come to a rugby game before now is seeing bits and pieces of them on TVs in various Irish pubs. I certainly didn't expect to find a rugby league in Connecticut, but sure enough, there is.

Although rugby is played by big manly men, it is a little weird for several reasons: 1) They lift each other up; 2) They link arms and occasionally touch each other's butts; and 3) They were short shorts. However, once you get past these rather questionable elements, there is a lot of tackling, falling, swearing, pushing, shoving, and otherwise manly activities.

Truth be told, it's pretty easy to enjoy anything - even a sport you know nothing about - on the first warm sunny day of the spring. In fact, we enjoyed being outside at the rugby game so much that we parlayed it into an impromptu cookout, which soon turned in to impromptu drink a lot of beers and margaritas, and then progressed in to a New London bar crawl.

Highlights of the evening: meeting The Dude and his brother; Jell-O Shots at Hot Rod's; finishing the night by showing off our mad skills on the dance floor at Kream. Truth be told, it's probably a good thing the pictures stop after bar number one.

It was a great weekend - but I am ready for a break!

Dev's On Bank Street

The weekend got off to an early start when Amanda and I decided to go out to dinner on Thursday. We went to Dev's on Bank Street, a newer restaurant in town which bills its food style as "Mediterrasian Tapas." This turned out to be a most excellent choice. First of all, their wine list is more extensive - and interesting (it's nice to see a restaurant acknowledge that there are wine-producing regions outside of California!)than a lot of the restaurants around here. Once we settled on a couple glasses of Tapena tempranillo (delicious!), we were ready to decide on our food.

Amanda went with Dev's award-winning Sweet Corn & Chorizo Clam Chowder, which was so full of clams, corn, and assorted vegetables that I believe she could have stood the spoon up in the bowl. She also ordered the steamed vegetable dumplings. I chose the toasted goat cheese (I can never say no to goat cheese) and wasabi-crusted scallops.

The Mediterranean/Asian combination may at first sound like another lame attempt at 'fusion' cuisine, but Dev's makes it work. I was crazy about the goat cheese, which comes on crostini and is lightly drizzled with honey - just the tiniest bit of sweetness to compliment the savory flavor of the cheese. The wasabi scallops were surprisingly not hot, just coated in a flavorful and crunchy coating and served with an orange-infused soy dipping sauce - yum.

The prices for the tapas range from $3.00 - $12.00 per plate (the $12.00 is a sampler of several items). We did not try any of the regular-sized entrees during this particular trip, but definitely will in the future.

In addition to great food and great prices, part of the Dev;s experience is the people who work there. Amanda and I opted to sit at the bar, where the bartender, the owner, and the owner's mother/manager lavished attention on us. (Bunny is all about the gossip, so be prepared to share.) Everyone who works at the restaurant is friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to make a recommendation or chat with you about how they happened to choose the location. All in all, Dev's is a great experience.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Best Friends

We got Ralph and Sunny when they were babies. They are litter mates and have never been separated. Because of this, they have remained best friends and often wash each other and sleep together. I took this picture of them in one of their favorite spots - the radiator cover in the guest room. They like to lay on the cover when the radiator is on because the hot air blows up through the holes - it's essentially like sitting on a heat vent. They like this particular radiator cover because they can look out the window and watch the squirrels while they're "baking." They're not squirrel-watching in this picture, though; they are too tired from their wrestling match about ten minutes prior.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm Back! (literally and figuratively)

Hello, readers. As you can surmise from the title, I'm back! "Back" referring to both back from Michigan - I flew home for the weekend to visit friends and family - and back online, thanks to Eric Crowley, who should be nominated for sainthood after dealing with the spyware-laden mess that was my computer (if not sainthood, he should at least be knighted - my machine was a disaster).

Going back to Michigan always makes it a little harder to return to Connecticut. Although I am finally starting to find some good friends here and have established several favorite places to hang out, I still miss my friends at home terribly - namely Becky. Luckily I was able to get my Becky fix satisfied by seeing her all three days I was home. We were more or less inseparable from the time she picked me up at Metro until we ate lunch with my parents at the Sidetrack.

We kicked off the weekend with a trip to Boogie Fever in Ferndale. While some might call Boogie Fever a "night club", those of us who have been there know that it is really a "disco". Seriously - it has a light-up dance floor and everything. Don't go to Boogie Fever expecting to booty-dance to the newest hip hop songs. The music and the crowd are reminiscent of a giant wedding reception - in other words, cheesy.

Why do we go there, you ask? Because my friends and I are the type of people who point when we dance. We know the words to the Grease Mega-Mix and I Will Survive. We think ABBA is a good band. This type of music bodes well for those of us lacking rhythm.

(Not to mention the fact that most of us are married, engaged, or have been seriously involved with the same person for several other words, not really looking to hook up or make out with random guys.)

Perhaps the greatest part of this particular Boogie Fever extravaganza was the other Amy. Being married with three children, she doesn't get to go out very often. Not only did she come to Boogie Fever with us, she drove three of us there in her mini van. When we got back in the mini van for the hour-long drive home, she had platters of cookies, Rice Krispie treats, and bagels with cream cheese awaiting us. Forget the limo - THIS was riding in style.

Obviously, it was hard for the rest of the weekend to live up to such a great start, but it was fun in its own right. Saturday was taken up mostly by a haircut with Dwight (yes, I still fly home to get my hair cut and you would too if Dwight were your stylist) and then dinner at La Shish with Sophie and Anthony. Unfortunately, I did not get to see baby Cornish, as I had come down with a fairly severe cold right before my trip. But I did get to satisfy my long-standing curiosity over whether or not Sophie named the baby after her family's old cat (she didn't, in case you were wondering as well.)

Sunday was rather packed as well. In keeping with the theme of gluttony that I seem to stick to every time I go home, I started the day with a great breakfast of dad's homemade French toast and thick-cut bacon from Picnic Basket (or was it Dearborn Sausage Company? So much good meat in Michigan I can't keep track of it all...) Then it was off to Jen's birthday brunch at the Sheraton.

(Just to clarify, I did NOT eat breakfast AND brunch. I eat a lot when I go home, but not that much! And I did manage to squeeze in a three-mile run in between.)

Of course, no trip home would be complete without a trip to my favorite bar/restaurant ever, the Sidetrack. I like to go to Sidetrack en route to the airport so that I am still full and don't spend ridiculous amounts of money on airport food (unfortunately there is no remedy for spending ridiculous amounts of money on airport magazines and beverages).

Not only does Sidetrack still have the best burger in the world, but - just to make my weekend a little more perfect - Oberon has arrived for the season! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Oberon is the signature beer of the Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you've ever had Blue Moon, it is similar to that - but better. Plus it's seasonal, so you can only get it in the summer. Luckily for me, summer starts early at the Sidetrack and I got to enjoy a pint of my favorite beer in the world before coming back to CT, where sadly it is unavailable (nor does Bell's ship beer to consumers).

So that was pretty much my entire weekend in a nutshell. Normally I try to stay away from these diary-like lists of activities, but I have so much fun whenever I go back to Michigan that I just can't help it. But the main focus of this blog is adjusting to life in Connecticut - and now that my computer has adjusted from it's numerous viruses, we can get back to that focus.

Check back tomorrow for another new post!