27 June, 2009

Living Legend

For anyone out there who doesn't know who Paul Bocuse is, he's basically the original celebrity chef. He's the first chef-owner to name a restaurant for himself and step out of the kitchen and into the spotlight.

The Bocuse d'Or, an international cooking competition dubbed the "Culinary Olympics," is named for him.

He is a living legend.

Last month, my friend Gayle went to France with a friend who had won this really cool river cruise vacation, and one of their stops was Bocuse's restaurant in Lyon. She had e-mailed me before she went and asked if I had ever heard of the restaurant, and I basically sent her back 500 words with no punctuation breathlessly explaining who Bocuse is, and how freaking lucky she was. ("oh yeah, and I hate you.")

Upon her return, she sent me another e-mail about her lunch, and how her friend had told everyone about how Gayle used to work at The Restaurant. She struck up a broken-English conversation with one of the waiters, who had worked for a time at Chefs de France at Epcot (which is run by Jerome Bocuse - his son), and was familiar with The Restaurant as well as The Chef. My name came up somewhere in there, as in "my friend Jamie works there..." And when the waiter asked if she'd like a signed menu to take back to her friend, she jumped on it.

Gayle says she guesses the waiter didn't understand as much of the conversation as she had thought, and she debated whether to send the menu to me at all. I'll call it a happy accident, that my husband and The Chef should share the same first name, and therefore HE got a really cool gift from France. It's actually better, because Scott loves cooking so much more than I do. I think he almost misted up a bit when he pulled the menu out of the envelope.
Plus, the menu is cool enough looking (all those circles are the same shiny gold as the edge) that I'd actually consider framing it and hanging it in our kitchen...when we have a kitchen with actual wall space! Our autograph from a living legend definitely deserves to be seen!

23 June, 2009

Night Terrors

Reading Between the Tweets

I sent a bunch of rapid-fire Twitter messages this morning, and there was so much more to share that I thought I would use them to add color to the story of my morning.

Scott woke up around 5:00 this morning, and was surprised that I was still asleep. I woke up about 5 seconds later. The cause? Sideways rain was pelting our bedroom windows. These windows are north-facing and don't usually get direct impact rain. The rain was pretty surreal due to the near-strobe-light effect of constant lightning. I couldn't believe how bad it was out there. Scott went to the living room to turn off the computer, and I turned off the cable box in the bedroom. But it was so bad (sounded like we were inside a tin can) that we (I) decided to check the weather for a tornado warning. There was no tornado warning - just one cell directly over our home that was red and pink on the radar, though you couldn't even see the color until they turned off the lightning strike display!

This was the worst nighttime thunderstorm I had seen since the week I spent in Casselberry with my Great Grandmother when I was in junior high. I was terrified. As the storm was winding down, I joked with Scott that I was going to get on the floor and sleep between the bed and a pile of laundry baskets, just in case the roof crashed in. We fell back to sleep right around 5:30, having survived the crazy storm.

6:20: flashBANG! I think the lightning actually woke me up a split second before the thunder shook the walls. "Holy shit!" It's not that I wanted to yell. It was involuntary (sort of). I was NOT going to be awake and terrified by myself. This storm was worse than the first one, and that lightning strike was CLOSE!

If you thought waking up to 5am t-storm was bad, try 6:30 lightning strike followed by bldg fire alarm going off!

At first, we didn't know it was our building. It was a funny alarm, beeping twice, then a feeble chirp, and then it would stop for a few seconds. Right away, we thought that it was another building, but that it was a shorted out alarm. We heard the fire truck come into the development and decided to get out of bed and investigate. Upon opening the door to the living room, I nearly jumped out of my skin to the sound of a loud CHIRP! coming from the alarm right above my head! "Oh...I guess it's our building."

Side note: firefighters in full gear stopped to say good morning when they passed us in the hall!

We decided to put on more clothes - an undershirt and pair of shorts for Scott, and a bra and change of pants into less pajama-like black lounge pants for me. We couldn't go out on the balcony due to the continued sideways rain (having lived through a few hurricanes, I can tell you the rain and wind was just as bad this morning) so we wandered out into the outside hallway. We were walking towards the back of the building when we heard very heavy footsteps on the stairs near our door. And lo, there were two firefighters in full gear stomping up our steps! As they passed us, I was waiting for them to "rescue" us or something. Instead they said good morning, and kept walking. Thank goodness. Not only had we wandered outside without shoes, cats, keys or wallets, I wasn't even wearing underwear! I imagine they were just as confused to see us.

Another side note: not sure who's more spooked, me or the cats. I'm not hiding under any furniture, but I think I'm also staying awake.

Even now, Elph and Milo are extra cuddly. When we came out during the second storm, there were no cats. Then Elphie came out from under the blue chair, and Milo appeared from wherever he had been hiding. Kilo came out when he was sure the danger had passed.

update: channel 9 a-hole weather man just said this storm wasn't severe. wtf???

The storm let up a little bit, so Scott turned on the TV in the living room while I was sending out my rapid-fire tweets. I wish I knew what the criteria was for "severe" thunderstorm. If not high winds or sideways rain or thousands of lightning strikes, then what?? I'm sorry that I called the smiling guy an a-hole, but he shouldn't have marginalized my terror. Had this storm hit downtown Orlando or Seminole County the way it hit us, they would've been running wall-to-wall weather all morning.

At 7:00, we went back to bed. I finished one book* and started another, and Scott fell right back to sleep. At 7:45 I stopped reading, and decided to try to fall back to sleep. At 8:00 on the dot, just as I finally sunk into my pillow, I woke up to a low rumble - the unmistakable sound of a riding lawn mower. That's right, the lawn guys were back, mowing our swamp! I managed to fall back to sleep, and barely flinched when the alarm went off at 10. I woke up for real at 11, but only because I have to leave for work by 12:45.

Speaking of work, I should really go blow dry my hair.

* Dave Barry's collection of columns, "Boogers Are My Beat." Even if you never liked his humor, I suggest you find this book at your local library and read the last two essays. They are, to the best of my knowledge, the only non-humor columns he's ever written. One was written the week after 9/11, and the other was written a year after. It made me realize that Dave Barry isn't a silly guy who lucked into a writing gig. He's a really gifted writer. And that last story should be required reading for high school kids.

19 June, 2009

1,000 Words

Further proof that my camera is designed for teenagers: fun borders you can add before taking a photo! Here's Milo and Elphie "playing" in their play zone, with an eerily familiar orange & black cats border!
Side note: we washed those towels yesterday, and now have the most fascinating orange & black lint ball ever!

13 June, 2009

We Can Do It: Wine Edition

I know, it's not good to judge a book by its cover, but tell me this label doesn't make you want to try the wine!

It's called Rosé the Riveter and it's from Working Girl Wines. I discovered the company last night at work when I noticed a case displaying their logo (featuring Rosé, Working Girl White, and Go Girl Red) next to my desk. I don't know if we ordered a mixed case that was just packed in it or what, but I totally fell in love. And that was before I found out the name of the wine!

I actually have a Rosie the Riveter magnet on my desk (thanks, Scott) and showed my manager and he was a little freaked out. I think maybe he didn't get the reference before it was right in front of his nose.

I'm hoping that since the case found its way into our office, that means one of our distrubutors carries the collection, and that means it's available in Florida. Fingers crossed...Scott is on a mission to find it for me.

And by the way, according to their website, they support women and family charities. And this particular wine might actually not suck: Wine Press rated the 2006 Rosé "Outstanding!"

Work "Schedule"

Until the end of Encore, I am scheduled off Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (rehearsal days). That's actually my 2 normal days off and 1 vacation day per week - the only way I could do Encore and not go broke. However, we're in the midst of this system transition right now, so my managers have basically given me carte blanche with my schedule. This week, I worked 4 hours on Wednesday. Next week, I plan to work a full daytime shift on Monday.

It's nice that I'm not having to burn my vacation time, and that I'm able to help out on day shift with training and phone calls and whatever else needs attention. At the same time, I'm coming into my third week in a row with a different schedule. My brain is confused about whether it's my Monday or Friday, and when my next day off is going to be.

...and I thought stepping out of your routine was supposed to be good for your brain!

10 June, 2009

Operation Iraqi Stephen

If you're not watching the Colbert Report this week, you really should be. He's doing shows from Iraq, wearing a digital camo tailored suit. The show is peppered with military jokes, most of which Scott has to explain to me. And his "Baghdad Shout Outs" have featured short videos from John McCain, Bill Clinton and (Old) George Bush.

Of course, I don't know if it'll be possible to top the surprise guest from the first show - a video from President Obama! To the best of my knowledge, this is Obama's first late-night comedy appearance since taking office. That's a huge "get" for a basic cable show, and just goes to show either how much the Stewart/Colbert team means to pop culture or how much Obama's team wants to show support to the troops overseas.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama Orders Stephen's Haircut - Ray Odierno
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

I hope his hair grows fast!

08 June, 2009

Philly in Lists

We're home from the great grey north, also known as the greater Philadelphia area!

While in Philly we saw the following friends and family: Grandpop and his "lady friend" Dottie (who has been in his life longer than I've been alive and he still introduces her to us as "my lady friend," which is sort of cute and creepy all that the same time), Jackie (the newly certified RN) and Jon and their girls, and Jackie's mom and brother.

I did not see any of my other Marlton friends or family members, because I couldn't put out an all-call on Facebook because we were going to be surprising* Jackie, and the people I did contact were too busy doing important things like yard sales.

While in Philly we saw the following things: the LOVE statue, the Art Museum (didn't run up the steps... are you crazy???), the clothespin statue, the Mint, William Penn, Boathouse Row, Independence Hall, the Constitution Center, Penn's Landing, Betsy Ross's House, Edgar Allen Poe's house, Ben Franklin's grave, The Thinker, the Rocky statue, Reading Terminal Market, and lots more. Notice I said we saw these things. We didn't go into any of them except the market! We also got quite a thorough tour of the area where my Dad grew up, including my Grandmom's house (where we didn't stop because Grandpop was driving), Dad's middle and high schools, the church where - correct me if I'm wrong here Mom - my parents were married and I was baptised, and every creek or home/"estate" with a story, and Mama's - my Dad's favorite cheese steak maker.

While in New Jersey we saw: Evans Elementary, Marlton Middle, and Cherokee High Schools. Each has grown in the past *cough*thirteen*cough* years. We saw my old house, which now has white aluminum siding, gold numbers, a fancy stained-glass-like storm door and a tacky flowered mailbox that the current wife of the previous owner would probably love. It didn't look like "home" at all. We saw the Marlton 8, which I had a different story about every time we drove by, Olga's Diner, buildings I think my Mom worked at, some friends' old houses (in most cases, where their parents still live), the Amish market, Main Street, a few parks, the Super Fresh, and some other places.

We crossed Delaware River via the Betsy Ross Bridge, Ben Franklin Bridge and Walt Whitman bridge. We also briefly floated down the river via Duck.

And of course, we ate! We had a cheese steak, soft pretzels (buttery Amish kind, not stale Philly kind), fresh corned beef sandwich, Philly pizza, South Jersey pizza, Amish sticky buns and roast chicken, water ice, calzone... I realized this morning that I hadn't consumed a vegetable since Friday afternoon at Olive Garden (don't judge us for the OG - we went with my Grandpop!).

We took loads of pictures, mostly *not* of people, which I'll be editing and presenting later. For now, here's the first few I managed to pull off of Scott's camera before the computer decided it was done with photos. I'll try again Wednesday to get the rest done. Tonight and tomorrow are pretty full.

*oops...surprise was ruined, but not by me!

02 June, 2009

Minding My Business

"Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties." ~Doug Larson

I've had quite an exciting few days at work. I've been solving problems that we've been banging our heads against, streamlining some processes and centralizing information, and giving my manager a few new gray hairs (the last one is strictly a recreational activity!).

Tonight I actually stayed late to run through some stuff I've been working on with the manager, and I really thought what I had was ok. It was imperfect and inconvenient, but better than anything else we'd managed to come up with. And in the 10 minutes we spent talking about it, we went from "yeah, that's ok" to "can we do this?" (my answer: "no") "well what about this?" (my answer: "no") "I wish we could make this happen." (my answer: "OH MY GOD YES! AND I KNOW HOW TO DO THAT! LET ME FIDDLE WITH IT TOMORROW!")


My brain hurts for the first time in over a year. I had forgotten what it's like to feel challenged by my job. And I miss it! So tomorrow when I get in, I'm going to start from square one based on what we discussed tonight, and teach myself some new formulae in Excel. Example: "=(sheet1!b2:b6)" I have basically just tomorrow to figure out whether we're going to be going with my "old" plan from 2 days ago or the new plan because we have to roll this out next week and I'm off 5 of the next 7 days.

01 June, 2009

Cooking Fun

What to do with a mostly-full bag of mini marshmallows? Perhaps make a batch of marshmallow-cereal squares? Well, I had the marshmallows, I had 1/2 stick of butter, and I had 8 cups of cereal. I didn't have anything with "Rice" or "Krisp" in the name, but I did have Peanut Butter Crunch. That's crispy, right?

So I made them.

I can't tell you how they are (though my guess is "not good") because they're still cooling in a foil-lined pan. What I can tell you is...

* Melted marshmallow is about 1000 degrees and so sticky you could use it to adhere heat tiles to the outside of the space shuttle. I still have the imprint of a piece of cereal that stuck to my shirt. (yes Scott, I was wearing one of your undershirts. again. I'm sorry, but those things are stain magnets!)
* When the directions call for a "large bowl," they underestimate the sheer volume of 8 cups of cereal. They mean "use a punch bowl." If your bowl is merely large, you will not be able to properly coat all of your cereal with molten marshmallow.

Scott seemed pretty shocked that I had never made Marshmallow-Krisped-Rice-Treats before. I've always liked them, but they weren't something we made. We made cookies by the ton instead.

I'll let you know how they came out, and maybe take a picture, but not until I get home from work. I'm supposed to be leaving in 15 minutes and am nowhere near ready to go.