Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 4 picks

When I make my picks for my football pool, I kind of wing it by looking at previous scores and what little knowledge I have about the players on the team, usually the current college transitions. I know I should probably look at the injury reports and stats on defense and offense, and not let personal bias (argh--when is my support for Vince Young going to consistently pay off?!) and eternal hope for the underdog come into play (though occasionally it pays off).

That said, I've come up short by 1 for weeks 1 and 3 and currently tied for 3rd (after two people tied for 1st) in the cumulative overall. My conundrum this week is Detroit versus Green Bay. The point spread is GB to win by 14. Though I can certainly see GB winning this, will it be by 14? Ouch. Well by my theory--Detroit has lost by 14 already so I should say Yes. But my inexplicable faith in the underdog is bugging me not to give up hope and put down No. Sigh. What to do?

If only things were so cut and dry as age labels are by my daughter:

Paul was impressed that she was so generous with such a wide window for "Young Adult" but pointed out that it seems a harsh jump to go from "Young Adult" to "Middle Age" at 40. She made the adjustment and now all 40-49 year olds are "Young Middle Age". Paul says you're welcome.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TGIHyundai Market

I was really, really dying for some homestyle Asian food. Friends back in SoCal would tell me how they went to lunch at Korea House (Sorry! they'd text. Winking emoticon! And a picture of the food! Gaaaaah!) Even seeing characters on tv eat takeout Chinese was making my mouth water. The final straw was my cousin making stuff from scratch.

So Google said there was Hyundai Market. I finally got my act together and went there after picking the girl up from school.

Entering these unassuming doors (including their request to "Please remove ski masks and hoodies"):

Led to an oasis for my sore eyes:

Besides kimchi and seaweed salad, I got a 10 pound sack of brown rice:

And loaded up on other essentials, like sesame oil, tofu, seaweed, etc. The girl went a little overboard on Asian snacks and drinks but next trip, we'll BOTH have to rein in it a bit.

Is this Korean for "Frances's Oasis"?

Next door was a Korean restaurant with a interesting (or promising?) name:

I snagged a ready-to-eat pack of kim bap:

Yes, I ate the whole thing by myself.

I wish I had bought two packs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finally cooling down

Starting on Sunday, we had major rainstorms and the temp only reached the mid 70s. It managed, however, to still be pretty muggy that day. Yesterday was our first cool day, i.e., reasonably below the 80s, though still a little muggy with some morning rainfall. Unfortunately, I didn't feel comfortable opening the windows because for some reason, a good number of ants are finding their way into the house and I didn't want to give them another access venue. Is it the rain? Did it flood them out and they're looking for higher and dryer ground?

What makes this worse, as I painfully discovered, is not only are they regular house ants, some were fire ants. I felt a sharp sting and saw one on my foot. I pulled out the vaccuum and went over the entire area and also spritzed some Raid for good measure. Guess it's a sign to finally get that termite and pest control maintenance going.

Ants=Gross, no likey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Got R Done x 2

This weekend I painted a room each day. I started with the dining room on Saturday before heading out to Viva La Vista:

And finished the dining room around 10pm. Wha-la!

I'm still trying to figure out what's going in this room besides a dining table. Initially, I was thinking that I would enjoy getting crafty down here while games are on, so the tall crafting table is in the corner for now. But I'm wondering if I should put it upstairs in the room with all the craft stuff (still have 5 big boxes left to unpack/sort up there). For now the piano stays--the bench has served as extra seating for the dining table in a pinch.

Now that the walls are freshly painted, they look like they could use something on those walls. Hmm, guess I should start unpacking some more boxes--I'm pretty sure we have some framed pictures that could go up there.

Anyhoo, then on Sunday, I powered through and painted the master bedroom:

Sorry for the sloppily made bed but I thought it would be a better picture than this:

Gaaaaah! So many boxes still!

I will say that these two rooms were my most pleasant painting experiences so far. I think the better paint helped (I used Sherwin Williams Duration)--these rooms both only required one coat. I really tried to use the method of generously loading the roller and using gentle pressure like all the videos and paint people advise and I think I might be getting the hang of it. And I made the decision to not tape and instead take the brush and cut out carefully around the ceiling, window frames, and baseboards. Unfortunately I don't have the perfect straight touch yet, but it was a lot less frustrating than pulling up tape and seeing drips of paint that seeped through (and dried) or crisp evidence of my uneven taping job. I probably only used about a foot of painters tape to cover the outlets but by the last walls I even skipped doing that. I did still use the canvas drop cloth because sometimes my generously loaded roller would release a drop without me realizing it.

Well, now all that's left is the kitchen (ugh, so many cabinets and how do I paint behind the stove and fridge? Anyone?) and the living room (the biggest room). Another weekend...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Viva La Vista

A big event they have here in the fall is Viva La Vista, an outdoor food festival with live music and retailers celebrating the restaurants in the Vista of downtown Columbia. One of the girl's friend's was going so we thought meeting them at this food fest would be fun.

Despite the calendar saying summer was over and that it was technically autumn, it was a muggy 94 degree day. Undeterred, we headed out to the Vista. Our first stop was the stand for Pearlz Oyster Bar--the Crab Bruschetta was messy to eat but delicious. It was a typical but well-executed tomato bruschetta tossed with some healthy chunks of crab. Their corn fritters were crispy hot--a wonderful savory sweet combo of the corn and bell pepper fritter topped with a light snow of powdered sugar.

Then on to the stand for Gervais and Vine. We enjoyed Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops and an Albondigas (Spanish meatballs) skewer. The meatballs won Best Savory of the festival:

The Sweet and Savory Zapmia Zeppolli from Blue Martini were good though I think they would have benefited from being a little larger and less dense. Paul enjoyed the Fried Green Tomato BLT from 300 Senate:

I enjoyed the Shrimp and Grits at the Blue Marlin enough that I'd love to check out the rest of their menu--in their nice climate controlled seated venue.

I was curious to try SakiTumi, a hip Asian fusion grill and bar. The Seared Tuna on wonton chips didn't disappoint and SakiTumi is also on my list of places to try seated and not drenched in sweat.

Perhaps due to the heat, the girl had little interest to try anything besides cold desserts like ice cream (from Marble Slab), a Sno-Kone (from Cromer's) and a mango ice (from Rita's). Though she and Paul did enjoy a mini lemon cupcake from Cupcake and a burger from Five Guys.

My favorite food from this food fest were these Bleu Cheese Chips from Liberty Tap Room. It was a simple appetizer, but the chips were housemade and they were crispy perfection. The melted bleu cheese was just enough to infuse its potent flavor without overpowering the wonderful chips or making them soggy. They were a bit salty, but in my head an ice cold hef would complement it perfectly. Add Liberty Tap Room to the list.

There were other vendors that we were game to try but the heat slowed us down a bit. Overall, it was a great event--well-sized and spaced, plenty of trash cans and recycling receptacles, free parking, and reasonably priced for gourmet grazing. We look forward to going again next year--we only hope it will be cooler!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hot stuff

Well my lunch at Panera this week was nice but needless to say, going out to eat is a lot more fun with friends. And well, generally more expensive than eating in. So bottom line, not many strong reasons to eat out by myself right now. Especially when I can make this lunch for less than a dollar:

I pan fried (note to self: add grill to wish list) some zucchini slices and and sandwiched it between two sandwich rounds slathered with some hummus and baba ghanoush. Pretty tasty if you ask me:

After lunch, I saw a fire truck pull up in front of the house.

When I opened the door they were hosing down a tree in front!

Apparently someone (not distractedly eating a delicious sandwich) saw the mulch smoking and called the fire department. I can't believe I didn't notice it myself. Maybe if it had been cooler and I had some windows open I would have at least noticed the smell but with it still in the 90s, we've been pretty shut up with the a/c on. So grateful someone was paying attention and called it in.

What to do after such high adventure? Go to the grocery store.

I reflexively thought that "Piggly Wiggly" and Extra Virgin Olive Oil were a bit incongruous together on a label but who knows? Maybe they have a similar label in Italy or Greece...

Yes, I bought it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Yesterday, inspired by the trip to the local Starbucks, I tried out Panera for lunch (the Starbucks I went to doesn't carry food except pastries) and got their You Pick 2 special (Vegetable soup and Mediterranean Veggie sandwich):

Delicious. And I joined their MyPanera club and got a free pastry just for signing up. I went with a chocolate one and then bought a classic croissant to keep it company:

I enjoyed the croissant with my home-brewed latte this morning:

Hopefully this fueled my brain for today--I made my football picks for Week 3. Let's hope they're much better than last week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Change of venue

"Guys, I need to eat something."

You know who I was informing of my hunger? The cats.

The day before a friend suggested getting out of the house might be in order. Talking to unsympathetic cats who won't even bother acknowledging me confirmed it. Thanks to a generous Starbucks gift, I headed there and treated myself to a Vivanno smoothie (instead of coffee because I'm pretty darn good at making iced lattes at home now)--chock full of protein and fruit.

A good day topped with the season premiere of "Glee". I am loving the new character, Coach Beiste--credit to the writing and actress Dot Jones--so easy to have become a caricature, she was revealed as much more dimensional, poignant character. And excited to see more of Cheyenne Jackson as the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline--loved him on 30 Rock. Of course as always, loved Sue Sylvester and the music--Empire State of Mind, Telephone, What I Did for Love--can't wait till next week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We were invited to a potluck dinner and I brought these. Cupcakes?

Not exactly:

I wanted to bring something from stuff we had on hand which was veggies, grapes, and hummus. We also had eggs so I decided to devil them up. I used this cupcake carrier to bring the deviled eggs over so they wouldn't roll over and get smashed. I'm really starting to appreciate having a trimmed down kitchen, though some of it came involuntarily through the move with a couple of boxes of broken stuff and some stuff going AWOL, like the new-still-in-the-box blender. But not only do I like a kitchen that operates lighter, leaner, and less-cluttered, I'm using more of the stuff I do have on hand, like this cupcake carrier.

Very satisfying. And motivating to trim down other rooms.

Though I think we're going to get a blender.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tom Brady said it for me

"We just sucked." I know he was talking about how the Jets kicked their Patriot rear-ends 28-14, nailing the coffin on my miserable picks for Week 2. But he could have been talking about me. Because I could not get it together to paint yesterday. In an effort to clear the dining room, I got sidelined by unpacking a few boxes, as well as come to the realization that our ladder didn't make it across the country. And that's as far as I got.

I did, however, accomplish organizing what was left in the garage, once the moving casualties were hauled out:

The best part? We're able to fit both cars in the garage too!

I know most of you are not impressed. But just to give a sense of reference and improvement--before in SoCal we had two single car garages. This was the front garage:

This was the side garage:

Step in for a closer look, if you dare:

So grateful to my kind friends who generously helped me purge and pack these garages up in Cali. I'll confess that some of the stuff is in now the spare room, some stuff went into the dumpster, and some went annoyingly AWOL during the move, like the ladder. But overall, I'm psyched that we have a (comparatively) uncluttered garage.

Like Tom Brady, I'll focus on doing better next weekend. Also like Tom Brady, I should contemplate getting a haircut.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweet Saturday

The girl had four friends over yesterday. One of the nice things about kid guests is they don't judge so harshly about the fact that we still have boxes everywhere and still aren't unpacked. Some find it fascinating, So you can't turn on this lamp because the special bulbs are in one of these boxes? Eyes are wide, intrigued. Some things are disappointing, So the drumsticks for RockBand are in one of these boxes? Face goes into a solemn frown. They get even less judgy when pizza and candy-making are involved:

Yes my plan not to have a high caloric/cavity-inducing activity was thwarted by the coverage map of ABC where South Carolina was deemed more interested in watching the Arizona/Iowa game versus the Nebraska/Washington game. Which meant we bought the ESPN GamePlan package to watch the Nebraska game. Holy cow, it is expensive--we could basically watch a PPV championship boxing match every month through January for the price we paid. Do I confess that the cable guy talked me into getting HBO too?! Bottom line, these games are going to be watched. Which meant no Wii until the game was over with the Huskers crushing the Huskies 56-21.

But the kids were totally game for a little sit down time with pizza and melted chocolate and I was impressed by some of the detail these kids gave their sweets, like these swirly, rosy bowls:

And the heart detail on this bonbon:

So cute in a little origami box (argh--sorry so blurry!):

Another sweet ending was Michigan State beating Notre Dame in OT, 34-31, with a crazy fake field goal TD. I'll confess that I actually dozed off (darn Eastern Time) with the game tied 21-21 and only learned about the win this morning. Unfortunately I also learned that Coach Dantonio suffered a heart attack afterwards--thankfully he's expected to make a full recovery.

And to wrap up things up--the home team beat Furman. Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Coffee Break

With all the time and money I spent at Starbucks, I gained a taste for strong coffee. But it's not something I can spend the money on everyday and frankly, it's not the same making the journey to Starbucks without friends. So I considered buying a coffee maker but I realized I had one from my friend Linda that was still in its box. It's a French Press:
I have to put ground coffee (here I used 4 fat spoonfuls) and boiling water (here I poured 2 cups) and let it sit for about 5 minutes with the plunger up:

Then I have to push down the grounds with the plunger, which has a coffee-filtering screen:

And then pour. I used espresso coffee, which is pretty strong for me:

But I like it so I can make a latte. I nuke up some milk--like in this handy milk steamer/frother my sweet cousin had given me:

Which also comes with its own plunger with a special aerating screen attached:

After a few vigorous pumps, the milk becomes frothy:

And it makes one sweet latte:

Allow me to pour it in a glass mug so one can see the beautiful latte-ness:

But you know what else I can do with this strong coffee? I cool it in the fridge and grab a tumbler of ice:

Then add the cold espresso:

Pour some cold milk:


And enjoy an Iced latte!

At less than $6 for that brick of coffee and half gallon of milk, the cost is hard to beat and frankly, my home-barrista skills aren't too bad.

So who wants to take a coffee break with me? I'll make some delicious lattes and even some coffee cake if you'll swing by SoCar!