Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dinner and a show

In addition to being my favorite season in general, I think fall is also my favorite time to eat. Everything just tastes better. Plus, that chill in the air puts me in the mood to drink spicy red wines and eat heavier, richer foods like stuffed pastas or to cook with fragrant fall-like herbs such as sage (does anything smell more like fall than sage?) - not to mention all the glorious things you can make with pumpkin.

We've definitely been doing some good eating this fall, from the New London Main Street Fall Food Stroll to dining at G'vanni's in Boston with Sophie. However, I think I ate my favorite dish of the fall (so far) last Saturday night at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

Amanda and I were headed out to the Duffy concert. For those of you unfamiliar with Duffy, she is another retro-sounding UK-born and bred singer in the vein of Amy Winehouse (only Duffy isn't crazy). I don't like her quite as much as I like Amy, but definitely enough to go see her in the MGM Grand's new theater with the comfortable seats and excellent acoustics.

Of course, Amanda and I celebrated the occasion by wearing 60's-inspired clothing purchased at various thrift stores. In addition, we decided that as long as were were hauling ourselves all the way out to Foxwoods, we deserved a nice meal. Craftsteak was unfortunately out due to budget constraints (someday I will make my pilgrimage to worship at that altar of Tom Collichio) but Michael Schlow's Alta Strada was definitely in the running.

Michael Schlow is a Boston-area chef specializing in Italian cuisine. The restaurant itself looked sort of like everything in the MGM Grand - modern, dimly lit, lots of dark wood and brushed steel but still somehow managing to look "warm." We were very pleased when the host showed us to an excellent corner booth instead of one of the tiny two-top tables in the middle of the floor (I'd like to think it was the outfits).

For some inexplicable reason I wanted white wine. Sadly, I am not incredibly good at navigating an Italian wine list - Amanda, Katie, and I have been drinking a lot of South American, Spanish, and French wines lately. I was unfamiliar with pretty much everything on the list. I settled for a glass of Foradori “Myrto” Sauvignon Blanc. It was decent - lots of flavors going on, softer citrus than I initially expected, and kind of a mineral-y taste in there - but would not rank amongst my favorites.

Due to time constraints, we skipped appetizers and went straight for the the entrees. Both Amanda and I were in the mood for pasta. After perusing the menu, I selected the Ravioli Gnudi with Tomato, Italian Bacon and Sage Brown Butter. (I know, I just ate ravioli with a sage and burnt butter sauce in Boston. But this was TOTALLY different - trust me.)

The waitress explained to me that the ravioli gnudi meant "naked ravioli" - as in, not really ravioli at all. She explained that the dish was actually the ravioli filling, formed into balls. This sounded intriguing, and everything in it sounded tasty, so I considered myself warned and ordered it anyway.

The dish arrived and looked as described - six or seven balls of ravioli filling - cheese and spinach? - cooked just enough to be warmed through and to hold their shape, resting delicately in a light brown butter sauce with only a whiff of sage wafting away from the plate. Cherry tomatoes and delicious smelling Italian bacon completed the dish.

If you think this sounds glorious, well, you should have tasted it. It was amazing. First of all, I love almost anything that comes in a brown butter sauce and this was no exception. The little bits of bacon added just enough complexity to an otherwise simple dressing. The tomatoes had a delicious roasted flavor, and the ravioli themselves were so satisfying that I did not at all miss the pasta pouch one would normally expect a ravioli to come in.

Amanda's dish was also prepared in an interesting manner. The menu described it as cavatelli with broccoli, chilies, and several other ingredients, which it was. However, instead if being sliced up and tossed with the pasta, they broccoli, chilies, etc were ground up into a sort of pesto and tossed with the pasta. It had a delightfully chunky texture and fantastic flavors. The chilies provided a little interesting heat at the end of every mouthful without making the dish overly hot.

We both ate every bite and were way too full to even look at dessert. It's a good thing Duffy's sound is kind of mellow and lounge singer-esque, because I am not sure the two of us could have stood up to dance even had we wanted to (although the middle-aged drunk women in the crowd had NO trouble dancing, they may have had a little harder time with the "standing up" part).

Duffy sounded great and looked great - we were only twelve rows back, so we had a pretty good view of her and the band. If you'd like to check her out, here is the URL to the video for Duffy's most recognizable song, "Mercy" (unfortunately, the embedding feature for these videos has been disabled): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE2orthS3TQ

All in all, we had a delicious meal and a great time. I can't wait to dress up and head out to our next dinner-and-a-show casino adventure, which will be Michael Buble in December!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

(Not Quite) Lazy Sunday

I love carving pumpkins. Noe and I had our second annual pumpkin carving party, and here were the results:

Amanda's Count von Count and Kevin's Headless Horseman

Noe's Skull

Jason's tiny creepy pumpkin and Katie's wolves

I carved a kitty pumpkin, of course.

In other news, I (well, Noe) finally hung up the Charles Hull prints that Noe and my mom got me for my birthday at the art fair in Mystic (I had been lusting after these since Noe and I saw them at the art fair in Westerly.) Here are the awesome prints in my kitchen:

Yeah, that pretty much sums up Sunday. I'll write a belated blog about Saturday (Alta Strada and the Duffy concert - both fantastic) tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here's Lookin' at You, Kid.

I love dressing up, and I love parties, so naturally I was way into John Felty's Casablanca-themed birthday party last night. Katie cooked us an amazing dinner of lamb, chicken, squash, potatoes, and green beans; John opened some very good bottles of wine; and several of us sported movie-inspired costumes.

John was Rick Blaine incarnate in his white Oscar de la Renta dinner jacket (which he got on Ebay for a great deal) and black bow tie. Amanda and I chose to go the Ilsa Lund suit and hat route. I scored an excellent 40's vintage suit that afternoon at Peacock Feathers but was unable to find an appropriate hat, so I substituted with a beret. Amanda's hat looked like Ingrid Bergman could have worn it on the set.

We had a great time eating Katie's delectable cooking, playing Guitar Hero, and of course, watching Bogie and Bergman steam up the screen. Here are some pictures - in the spirit of the movie, I turned them black and white:

John and Amanda

Queuing up to fill our plates

John's house is more of a wine joint than a gin joint.

I tried out D-Train's Indiana Jones hat as a substitute for the beret.

The best-dressed people I know:
Me, Katie, John, Amanda, and Kevin (not in a period costume)

We walked around town in these outfits before the party.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If heaven ain't a lot like Detroit, then I don't want to go.

I went home this past weekend - with two native New Englanders in tow - to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in Detroit, MI. Convincing people that have never been to Detroit that they want to go there can take some work - hell, it can take work to convince people that HAVE been there.

The half-marathon has a great course, though. It not only winds through some of the more interesting parts of Detroit (Corktown, old Tiger Stadium); it also crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, takes you three or four miles along the river in Windsor, then brings you back to Detroit through the tunnel, giving the course the distinction of having the world's only underwater mile. (The full marathon course is even cooler - it includes Belle Isle and Indian Town - but you won't see me doing any of those any time soon.) But in addition to all the sites they would see on the course, I wanted to show my fellow Trifecta members some other good things about Detroit.

First up: we had Becky organize a massive girls-only trip to Boogie Fever (technically in Ferndale, but close enough). There is no better way to kick off a weekend than a light-up dance floor and some dancing and pointing. The only draw back: I always forget that Michigan allows people to smoke in bars. Get rid of it already!

Dancing, singing, and of course, pointing at Boogie Fever

After we (Amanda and I) picked KLF up at the airport on Saturday, we headed into Detroit to pick up our race packets at Cobo. Kristen came along and at her suggestion we boarded the People Mover (the so-bad-it's-good piece of public transportation) and showed the girls around Greektown and Foxtown.

First stop was the Astoria Pastry Shop for mouth-watering baked goods. I almost don't know where to look first when I walk into the Astoria. Do I go for a traditional Greek pastry? Some kind of cheesecake? A giant meringue or a chocolate-dipped muffin? (Cheesecake usually prevails and this occasion was no different. I picked caramel apple cheesecake - picture the cinnamony, spicy flavors of apple pie in a cheesecake consistency with a caramel topping. Yes, it was as good as it sounds!) After selecting our confections, we headed to Foxtown for a drink.

(I have to stop here and ask why there were six separate wedding parties waiting to have their pictures taken with the big tiger statue at Comerica Park. Is that really such a wedding photography hot spot?)

Trifecta on the People Mover

Unfortunately, Cheli's and Hockeytown were both completely packed with people either there early for the Red Wings Game or watching the Michigan State/Ohio State game ('annihilation' might be a more appropriate term). Unable to grab a beer, we went back to Greektown and headed to an early dinner at Pegasus Taverna, home of the best neon sign in Greektown and fantastic Greek food. (Naturally we started the meal with Saganaki so we could yell "Opa!" - or at least, our waitress could.)

Opa! Greek Food at Pegasus.

Once we were stuffed full of grape leaves and lamb and pasta casserole, it was time to once again board the People Mover and head back to the Cobo/Joe Louis Arena area for...wait for it...the Red Wings Game! I was thrilled to see my boys on their own turf against the Rangers, even if the Rangers were too stupid to resign Shanahan. It got even better when the Wings managed to score 29 seconds into the first period and follow it with another four minutes later.

Things got a little close when the Rangers managed to tie it up and pull ahead, thanks to some sloppy play in the second and third periods. However, Jiri Hudler was able to tie it and send the game into OT...where our newest acquisition, former Pittsburgh Penguin Marian Hossa was able to score his 300th career goal and his first goal as a Red Wing.

Getting up at 4:00 AM to get ready for the half marathon was not the most pleasant thing in the world, but all was good once we started. The weather was perfect - a little too cold for standing around but great for running. The views of Detroit from Windsor were amazing, and there were thousands of spectators cheering the final stretch to the finish line. My personal favorite sight: the woman who came out to encourage the runners by holding up a sign that read "You are better than the Lions." We celebrated our finish by heading back to Ypsi for the best burgers in the world at Sidetrack.

Trifecta post-finish.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. It's not quite as hard to come back to Connecticut as it used to be, but it's still a little difficult. At least before I came back this time I got to show some north easterners why I like Michigan so much.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Food Strollin'

Last night, Noe and I attended the New London Main Street Fall Food Stroll. This is the third Food Stroll that has happened since we have been here (one last fall and one in the spring) but the first one we were able to make it to.

New London Main Street is a non-profit organization dedicated to the "preservation, enhancement, and promotion of the Historic Waterfront District" here in New London. Basically, they want downtown to look nice and they want people to come here. New London has kind of a bad rep around CT and New London Main Street is trying to change that perception. (Ypsi - you could probably take some notes from NMLS.) One way they get people downtown is with events such as the Food Strolls, where most of the downtown restaurants and bars give out samples of their wares. Since New London's downtown is very walkable, everybody pretty much sets up shop in their own space and the attendees wander from one restaurant to the next. The cost of this adventure? $25 bucks for all the samples you could eat and a drink coupon.

After meeting up with the group at our favorite downtown watering hole, Hanafin's Irish Pub, we headed all the way down to the end of Bank Street to start the stroll at Jasmine Thai, the newest restaurant in town. Jasmine Thai put out the most diverse array of samples of any of the participating vendors. We were able to get fried rice, salad, tempura shrimp, cucumber rolls, and California rolls. Yum! (Noe and I actually ate at Jasmine Thai about a week ago and enjoyed the food - there will be a review forthcoming.)

Dr. Chattybox, me, Amanda, Kevin, John and Katie setting out

After Jasmine, we continued down Bank Street to some other familiar spots, Hot Rod Cafe and Dev's on Bank. Rod was serving up an Amy and Noe favorite, the garlic-pepper dry rub wings, along with a prime rib slider (both excellent). It is also worth noting that Rod was redeeming drink coupons at a two-for-one rate, which the boys were taking full advantage of. Dev's was handing out their painted grapes (grapes wrapped with Gorgonzola, rolled in spicy almonds, and drizzled with honey).

After gossiping with Bunny for awhile, we continued down the street, stopping at the firehouse (firemen handing out their homemade chili), Frontera's (Ecuadorian place we have never tried, but thanks to the excellent ceviche we will certainly be trying soon!), Lucca (albacore and liver pates on crostini), Brie & Bleu (hunks of Gouda cheese), Thames River Wine & Spirits, Muddy Waters (could not keep the boys away from those chocolate muffins!), Daniel's Downtown Dairy (mini ice cream cones!)

We negotiated the right turn onto Water Street to grab some tamales at Zavala and then turned left to head up State Street. There aren't as many restaurants on State as there are on Bank, but we'd read that some of the local catering companies had set up shop in the stores and venues. We were able to get a good look at City News, the new cigar shop/news stand owned by the Thames River Greenery/Wine & Spirits/Brie & Bleu group. We visited East Coast Catering in the Atrium building, and then headed over to the Crocker House.

The boys at Crocker House heading back for seconds.

Gourmet Galley Catering was displaying their wares in Crocker House's three outstanding event spaces - the modern art-inspired rainbow colored lobby; the gorgeous grand ballroom, and the elegant garden courtyard. We knew we'd like them before we even entered the lobby - we were handed some Captain Morgan spiked hot cider at the door and didn't even have to use a drink coupon. Once we got in, we gawked at the space and ate a sandwich that Steve the Pirate very aptly described as "Thanksgiving on a bun" along with little pieces of pie. Katie and I chose to redeem our drink tickets here for some (full-sized) gin and tonics to enjoy as we completed the stroll.

Katie and I love our G&Ts.

We stopped for curried rice at Northern Indian and squash/carrot soup and apple crisp at Mangetout, downtown's organic offering (the crisp was awesome but I thought the soup - while having a great velvety texture - was lacking in flavor). We finished the night with chocolate chip cookies and banana crepes at the Bean & Leaf - and were finally forced to admit that we were indeed finally full.

This was a fantastic event and I am really impressed with NLMS and all their volunteers for being able to pull it off so smoothly. I can see why these strolls continue to bring more and more people downtown. As long as I live in New London, I know I'll never miss another one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Five Things I Love This Week

5. Kirk Herbstreit (Football Commentator)
I like a lot of the guys who commentate or anchor on ESPN - really, sports commentators in general - because it seems like they get to say pretty much whatever they want, and sometimes that includes making obscure literary references or lame jokes. College football commentators are my favorites because you can just tell that they wait all year for kick-off week. That being said, I especially love Kirk Herbstreit. He is cute and funny and he was a Big Ten quarterback. He's like the homecoming king of football commentating. If he asked me to the dance, I would definitely go.

4. Harper Connelly novels by Charlaine Harris

These books are even better than the Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels (at least writing-wise). Harper was struck by lightning when she was 15, leaving her with an uncanny ability to find corpses. Mayhem ensues. The third one was kind of icky (on several counts) but the first two were spectacular. Can't wait for the fourth. (If you're interested, check out Grave Sight - its the first one in the series.)

3. Cannoli
I always say tiramisu is my favorite dessert, but you know what? I lie. I'd considered cannoli a close second until this past weekend when my ricotta-chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry in Boston (see my last entry) vaulted the cannoli into first place. Besides, you've never heard tiramisu referenced in a mob movie (bonus points if you can quote the line and name the movie).

2. Soup/Stew/Comfort Food
I've gained a new appreciation for comfort food. I pretend that fancy food is my favorite to make and serve, but honestly, during a week that I have mixed up a pot of excellent onion soup and a most terrific beef stew, I beg to differ. The fancy stuff is good for showing off (which, let's not lie, I also love) but there's big-time satisfaction in stirring up a pot full of happiness. Plus, with the soups and stews, you can start out following a recipe until over time you have modified it into your own. These types of foods are perfect for fall and my favorite things to cook. Plus there's usually enough leftovers for lunch - an added bonus.

1. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (Tuesdays, 10:00 PM EST, Travel Channel)
Zimmern tops the list of people whose jobs I wish I had. He travels around the world and eats all the time. I honestly can not imagine a better way to make a living. I watch his show as preparation for our eventual trip to the Philippines (even though Noe assured me I would not have to eat any kind of wood worm after we watched that episode). My dream is to go to an open-air market in an exotic country. Some of my friends prefer Bourdain, but I'll take Zimmern's true enthusiasm for the food and the people serving it any day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Boston State of Mind

Although Noe and I are about equal distance from Boston and New York City (maybe even a little closer to Boston) we find ourselves in New York much more often. This is mostly due to the great museum perk Noe gets for working for big pharma (and my overwhelming desire to see a giant Christmas tree).

This past weekend, however, we were handed a great excuse to head in the opposite direction. My good friend Sophie was in Boston visiting her sister, a grad student at BU. Noe and I both wanted to see Soph, and we both wanted to explore Boston, and to top it all off the weather forecast was calling for absolutely incredible - if slightly warmer than usual - fall weather. We didn't think too long about it. Noe picked me up from the aquarium on Saturday afternoon, we grabbed some lunch, and away we went.

Beantown as seen from Long Wharf

We were able to catch up with Sophie and her family on Saturday night for dinner in the North End, Boston's Italian enclave. Basically, since there were six of us wandering around without a reservation, we meandered down the street until we found a restaurant that could accommodate our party. Most of the restaurants are small Italian joints within a variety of price ranges. Figuring any of these places were bound to be decent, we weren't too picky. Eventually we ended up at G'vanni's, mainly because they were able to seat our party within ten minutes. We were not disappointed.

Soph and I both ordered pumpkin ravioli in a burnt butter and sage sauce. It sounded like fall, and when it arrived the aroma of sage almost knocked me out of my chair. Although the smell was strong, the sage was not overpowering. The light butter sauce let the sweet-ish flavor of the pumpkin come through. Noe's pasta carbonara was also good - the cream sauce had a good consistency and was neither too bland or overpoweringly cheesy.

(I did not drink any wine at this meal - I know, weird for me, isn't it? But I was not with my wine drinking crew - no one else was drinking - and truthfully, I was pretty ravenous by the time we sat down to eat, so I wasn't even thinking about it.)

Saturday morning Noe and I hauled ourselves our of bed and back downtown (we were staying on the outskirts; hotel rooms in Boston are pretty pricey) and out to Long Wharf to go whale watching. Yes, I know this is a touristy thing to do, but I have never seen a whale other than our aquarium belugas and I wanted to see these huge animals out in the open ocean.

On the boat, looking for whales

Once again, not disappointed. Boston Harbor Cruises took us out to Stellwagen on a high-speed catamaran, and we saw dozens of whales. None of them breached (beaching is when they come completely out of the water) but we saw many of them come partially out, including a mother and her calf. We saw humpbacks, finbacks, and minkes. These animals are amazing. It helped too that we had insanely gorgeous weather - a great day for a cruise on a boat.

One of the first whales we saw -
it is hard to get good pics of them without a good camera

Once we were back on dry land, Sophie met us at Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market, where we grabbed some lunch, then it was back to the North End. Noe and I had decided we couldn't let another Boston trip go by without a visit to Mike's Pastry, and everything Sophie's family told us about their own visit just whetted our appetites more. After all, as far as desserts go, there is nothing I like more than good cannoli.

Noe with our glorious box of cannoli from Mike's Pastry

We joined the throngs of tourists in the long, long line (which moved very quickly, considering) and were soon out the door and sitting across the street from Paul Revere's house indulging in some truly decadent desserts. Mike's cannoli deserve its stellar reputation. I ordered the ricotta filled with chocolate chips, and Noe ordered the chocolate mousse filled with chocolate chips. Both the sweet ricotta cream and the airy, fluffy mousse tasted much lighter than any cannoli has a right to taste, and the crispy, freshly made shells provided a satisfying crunch. The chocolate chip-dipped ends and the dusting of confectioner's sugar were the perfect amount of sugary sweetness. I would weigh 300 pounds if I lived near Mike's Pastry.

Soph and I in across from Paul Revere's house

We walked ourselves out of our dessert coma by following the Freedom Trail a bit and wandering around one of the old cemeteries, then it was time for Soph to rejoin her family and Noe and I to head back to CT. But I hope we'll be heading back to Boston very soon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Heads-up - It's Hockey Season

Hockey season is officially underway, and the defending Stanley Cup champions the Detroit Red Wings already have a loss under their belt to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Awesome.

On the bright side, I get to see my beloved Wings take on Brendan Shannahan (former Wing) and the New York Rangers on October 18. While one game per season is hardly a fair option (when I lived in Michigan I would get to between 8-10 a season) I guess it is better than nothing. And this year I get to see them on their own turf, my beloved Joe Louis Arena.

Last year I had complaints during hockey season from some of my non-interested blog readers. I'll try to label any hockey posts clearly so you'll be able to skip them should you desire, but you should probably expect about one a week.

Just giving you the heads up.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Library Love

I haven't checked a book out of a library since I was at least 13 years old. I never once checked a book out of my high school or college libraries - although my college did have an absolutely beautiful library completed only a year or two before I started there.

It's not that I was anti-library; I used to check out quite a few books as a kid. However, the Ypsi library's rather poor selection (this was pre-brand new Ypsi Township library, by the way) combined with the fact that I read more and faster than the average person made the library sort of an inefficient option. Plus, I generally like to re-read my books.

Lately though, I noticed I was spending a LOT of money on books. Like, as much as I used to spend when I worked at the Earle and went to Border's every Sunday (and the Border's Rewards program not only gave coupons but holiday savings bucks. Probably the reason they don't do that anymore is because I got almost seventy dollars worth of free books between Thanksgiving and New Years.) Even the discovery of the Book Barn wasn't helping much because I was seeking out specific books and they were not necessarily available in used form.

So I turned to a solution that at the time seemed quite desperate: the New London Public Library.

To be honest, the only reason I even gave the library a chance was because it is a block away from work, meaning I can walk there, browse the books, and walk back on the average half-hour lunch break. Also, I was reading the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books and had not yet decided if I liked them enough to buy all eight, and no way was I buying just one.

I wasn't expecting much from the New London Library, and my expectations were met. It is somewhat small and most of the books are old. They often have the middle of a series but not the beginning or end. I was about to give up without ever checking anything out until my coworker told me about what I considered to be the library's redeeming feature (besides proximity to work).

It turns out that all the area libraries are linked up to one online database, which you can search not only from the library computers but also from your home computer. As long as the book you want is in that database, you can reserve it and select which library you want to pick it up and drop it off at. The library will then get it for you and call you when the book comes in.

I have now done this three times (all with Charlaine Harris books, no less) and am finding it an extremely agreeable system. And I have yet to wait more than a week for something that I have put on reserve. Plus, all that going back and forth to the library on my lunch hour resulted in me finding another redeeming quality: the kids section. Yes, most of those books are also old, but I want those books to be old because I want to find the ones I used to read...hence the fact that I re-read Bunnicula last week (hey, I had to check it out - Noe didn't believe that Bunnicula was a real book).

If you have given up on your local library, I am urging you to give it another chance. I know it is saving me money, which, let's face it, we can all use to do these days. Plus, some libraries have really great community programs, book discussion groups, or show neat movies. I know I'll never give up Border's and the Book Barn (or Amazon - damn internet) completely (or even really remotely, if we want to be honest) but for the books I am only going to read once or am not sure that I'll enjoy, the library is a fantastic option.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Cadbury Bunsy

We bought Buns a chicken costume - well, at least we bought her a chicken hat. (We bought Ralphie a dinosaur hat but have not been able to get him to hold still enough to get a photo...yet.)

Ha ha ha ha ha. Unfortunately the Buns does not seem to be enjoying this as much as I am.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beer + Chowda = Fall

Back in May I blogged about the Springfest and Chili Cook-off. Last night, we went to the fall version of the same event, Oktoberfest, which essentially just swaps out chili for chowder. I don't think chowder goes quite as well with beer as chili does, and I wish there were more microbrews instead of major distributors, but this is still a great event and a lot of fun. As a bonus, we had PERFECT fall weather - cool and crisp, which continued into today (making my aquarium shift extremely pleasant as well).

There's not much to say about Oktoberfest that I didn't say about Springfest, so I'll just leave with some stolen photos courtesy of Brian Samas:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seven Random facts About Me

Apparently there is now Blog Spam. Just like those email chains that go around and I tend to ignore, I have been blog tagged to tell you seven facts about me that you may not know. While I would simply delete this from my email box, I decided to give it a go on the old blog because Google Analytics is telling me that I may have a very small contingent of readers who actually don't know who I am. They may not care, but that's beside the point.

I dedicate this post to Becky Berry. Seven weird things about me:

7. I have never, not once in my life, eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Sorry, but this combination sounds gooey and disgusting. Maybe on toast it would be OK, but on just plain old bread? Nasty. I won't even eat peanut butter alone on untoasted bread, and I love peanut butter - but you have to have a crunchy surface to put it on. And mixing fruit flavors with my peanut butter, well, that is just uncalled for. This idea is only made more unappealing by the thought of putting it in a plastic bag and letting it sit for several hours in a desk drawer or refrigerator before consuming.

6. The sight of baby food makes me gag.
I'm sorry, friends of mine with mini-mes, but baby food is probably the most disgusting "food" substance on earth, followed closely by the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Just the thought of pureed meats and vegetables makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. I seriously can not look at baby food without gagging. Not metaphorically gagging; physically gagging. I don't know why; canned cat food and dog food don't bother me at all, but show me a can of pureed bananas and I am running for the nearest garbage can.

5. When I bowl, I have to take my fingers in and out of the ball several times every time I go up to make sure my hand will actually release it.
I am sure it looks like I am doing some weird ritual, and in a way I am. I have an innate fear of my hand getting stuck in the bowling ball (even though I have my own ball custom-drilled to fit my fingers). I am quite sure that if my hand gets stuck in the ball I will fall down, or drop the ball on my foot, or pull my arm out of the socket...you see the potential for injury and embarrassment here. Therefore, I have to test the release capability any time I prepare to throw a bowling ball.

4. I had my own snowmobile when I was eight years old.
I am not talking about one of those kid snowmobiles, either - I had one of those when I was five. By the time I was seven, I inherited the old Bombardier. Since you don't have foot brakes in snowmobiling, I guess the fact that my feet barely reached the runners was of minor concern. I drove this hand-me-down snowmobile for two years, until dad went all out and bought me and Kristen our Arctic Cat Lynx, which was brand new and had pink and purple decals.

3. When I was in middle school and Kristen in elementary school, the school bus dropped us off a bar.
Kristen and I went to this terrible little Catholic school in Belleville called St. Anthony's. Mom and dad worked until four or five. How were we to get back to Ypsilanti? Mom's solution - convince the bus driver (we shared buses with the public high school next door to St. Anthony) to drop us off at the family bar, which was right on the county line. Every day, the bus would pull up at the bar, Kris and I would walk through, say hello to Uncle Dick (our senior-citizen relative tending bar) and the regulars, get some pop from the soda fountain and go do our homework in the back. Or play skeeball, if our homework was done. And people wonder why I like dive bars so much...

2. I love the book Hearts in Atlantis so much that I can not bear to read any other Stephen King books.
HIA is probably my favorite book of all time. I think Stephen King is actually a spectacular writer. However, I have not read any other book by him. Not a single one. And I don't ever plan to. Most of the summaries on the backs of his books just don't sound like anything I am remotely interested in reading, and I have a completely irrational fear that giving one of these books a chance and not liking it would diminish my love for HIA. Seriously. I honestly believe that. So I will continue to list Stephen King amongst my favorite writers although I have only read one of his books.

1. I met Neil Patrick Harris at a boy scout disaster convention when I was eight or nine years old.
Sad to say, I was not impressed. I thought Doogie Howser was a stupid, boring show. So when Uncle Tom's old girlfriend Mary Beth took Kristen and I to this simulated disaster thing the boy scouts were throwing (MB worked for the scouts) and Doogie showed up, I was kind of like "ehhh." He even autographed a napkin for me, which I promptly lost about three days later. Given how hilarious NPH has proven to be these days on How I Met Your Mother, I wish I had gotten a picture or at least hung on to the napkin. But alas, I did not.

So there you go. Seven completely random facts about me. Is your curiosity satisfied? Did you learn something new? Or do you wish that spammers would leave the blogosphere alone?

(Feel free to consider yourself "tagged" by the way.)