Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Larsons Hit the Town

As I said last time, I've been battling a cold for a number of weeks now. Its mostly gone, but I'm still coughing and have a bit of a frog in my throat. While I stayed home sick, Ayla and Mac kept me company on the couch, under covers. Good dogs.

Sympathetic pooches

Earlier this week my mom and dad come to visit. They arrived on Wednesday just in time to see me perform with the USS Hornet Band. I guess its once a parent, always a parent since they took photos and video of the performance. :) I need to bug them for one of the photos they took (hint, hint Dad). That night Chris and I took to them The Pearl Garden for dinner, our favorite Chinese place here in San Ramon that has the best veggie dishes.

Thursday Chris had to work, so we did a few things around San Ramon. We took their new Toyota Prius to the car wash, and I took them to Bay Books, my favorite used book store. I'm reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, which is absolutely addictive, and I needed the next book since I'd read the previous one in only about four hours. Then we picked up a spanakopita plate at Mykonos Mediterranean Grill for a light lunch and took the dogs for a walk.

Thursday afternoon we hopped on BART and headed in to San Francisco. Mom and Dad had never seen the Nordstrom Mall so we wandered around a bit, taking in the 8 or so floors of curving escalators. Then Stef met up with us at First Crush for dinner. The restaurant is a tiny place with a bar and some tables at street level, and a lounge and more tables downstairs. The food was absolutely wonderful. We started with drinks and bread and pesto. Next was salads: us girls had the chilled beet salad which was fresh and juicy while Dad has the green salad that was topped with the best slice of blue cheese I've ever tasted. I had the risotto which was drizzled with brown butter (oh my god was that good!), Dad had the chicken, Mom had the ravioli, and Stef had the fish. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their entrees, and I liked the brown butter so much I made some to put over mashed potatoes last night. Stef, Dad and I had the chocolate espresso pots du creme for dessert and Mom had the lemon tart - all perfect caps to the meal. We left absolutely stuffed, too!

After dinner we walked down to the Orpheum Theater to see Wicked. I have been so excited to see this musical since I read the book a few years back and found out it was turned into a Broadway show. Last fall I heard it was coming back to SF, so I immediately rallied the troops and bought tickets. Stef's mom was supposed to join us, but unfortunately couldn't make it so my Dad came in her place. He said that he was glad Mom Schafer couldn't make it because he had been jealous! The theater is gorgeous, with an ornately carved ceiling and plaster work. The set for Wicked was amazing, the show was amazing, the production was just huge. All I can say is, wow! I wish I was going again tonight.

Friday we met up with Chris for lunch at Fuddruckers before Mom and Dad had to head back home. I furiously knit the entire morning and was able to finish Mom's birthday blanket and give it to her before they left. This is the Lion Brand Cable Comfort Throw, knit with a little over eight balls of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Denim. I like knitting blankets with this yarn since its so soft and squishy. The pattern is easy and quick (this took me about a month to complete). The only modification I made was knitting it all at once on a circular needle instead of in five separate strips that get sewn together.

The dogs were worn out after Mom and Dad left. Its a lot of work entertaining the visiting humans! They snoozed in the sunshine Friday afternoon to recuperate.

And last night I was messing around on the computer when Gretel tried to climb into my lap. I pushed her away since I didn't feel like having twelve pounds of feline on me right then. A few minutes later I turn next to me and see this:

Apparently Gretel found a better place to rest.

Thanks Mom, Dad, and Stef for going to the show with me. It was great seeing everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Update

I have been negligent of my blog lately. A cold knocked me out for a few weeks, and I've only been up and running again the last week. Needless to say, I haven't done anything very interesting for a while. That will all change soon: My parents are coming to visit on Wednesday and we will be doing Stuff! So please check back later this week.

In the meantime, Happy First Birthday to Mac! Here's a photo taken shortly after we got him last March. He turned one on 1/7.

And Happy Third Birthday to Ayla! Here's the inspiration for the photo above, taken shortly after we brought her home in March three years ago. Her birthday was 1/19.

They're so cute when they're little. Now I have dogs that combined weigh more than I do!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Doesn't Play Well With Others

Gretel wedged herself in between Mac and me on the couch the other night.

I took the dogs to the dog park after work today, and Mac is really pushing my buttons. Between being spoiled over the holiday vacation by having someone around almost constantly and getting whatever he wanted at my parents' house, and being in a fun teenage-phase of development, he's been such a pill. Then he turns those big brown eyes on me and I completely melt. Sigh.

So, I took the dogs to the dog park and as soon as we're in Mac high-tails it over to a couple playing with a toy football with their dog. And he wants that football. Nothing will stop him, which makes him very, very annoying. I don't want to be that dog owner, so I leash him up and drag him away. He manages to tear the leash from my hands twice! Now I'm yelling at him, in a dog park full of people and their well-mannered dogs. Great, I've become that other dog owner. Time to implement some hard core training and NILIF with this guy who has become too big for his britches. And reclaim my sanity.

I was chatting with another person at the park who asked about my Wonder Twins, since they are a very odd duo. After a few minutes of is that your dog? how old? he's very cute! blah blah blah, she whips out, "So are those really your dogs, or are they family dogs?" Umm... "Well, my husband and I own them, so I guess that makes them family dogs." Seriously, I'm not 16! For Pete's sake I'm nearly 30! I know, I know, take it as a compliment and at least I'll look young when I'm old, but really! And Chris recently got carded buying a video game because you have to be 17 or have a parent buy it for you. Perennial teenagers... one day I'll buy liquor without having my driver's license scrutinized. Or see an R-rated movie without ID.

This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe comes from Karen of Something Sweet by Karen (she has some very nice photos on her blog!). Karen chose Banana Sour Cream Pancakes, and I love breakfast!

I halved the recipe since Chris isn't a breakfast eater, and ended up with 6 pancakes. I usually mash the banana and add it to the dough, but in this recipe you sprinkle diced bananas over the batter in the pan. I liked how they lightly caramelized when you flipped the pancakes. However, mine didn't cook all the way through. They were dense and the sour cream made them moist. I put the pancakes in packs of two in my freezer, so I can pop them in the oven on broil in the mornings for a quick breakfast. The pancakes were good, but not great.

We got some new elements for our fish tank recently: A giant palm tree and a tiki hut. And since the fish don't get much face time around here...

Fishy Cabana

The blue cichlid is named F***er, since he's a mean fish and killed all the other cichlids. There's also a Chinese algae eater. Together they're known as The Fish Sticks. Can you find the algae eater in the picture above? Let's take a closer look...

Why, hello there!

I've put the Cable-Down Raglan on hold for a while. I'm just not feeling it right now and have other goals, namely the Cable Comfort Throw.

Yarny Coziness

The color is very off in this picture, its a dusty blue in person, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Denim. This is supposed to be a gift knit, if I finish in time; we will see. I'm sure it will be very warm and cozy, since I've knit two blankets with this yarn already.

That's all for now. I'm off to make a strong hot toddy and put myself in bed, to see if I can't shake this cold that kept me up all night. Or just hit the good ol' bottle of NyQuil. Its always fun to develop a cough the day after you do a lot of abdominal exercises when you just took a couple weeks off from exercising.

* cough * OUCH * cough * OUCH * cough * OUCH!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Christopher and I are nearing the end of our two-week vacation. It has been very, very nice and relaxing. Last Tuesday we went up to my parents' place for Christmas. It was wonderful to see them, and to finally introduce Mac to them. Of course, Ayla is their princess and gets spoiled whenever we visit as well.

Over the summer Mom and Dad found a cat and her six kittens in their backyard. They took them all in, got the kittens and mama-cat all fixed and vetted, and tried to get in touch with a local cat rescue organization. With the pet overpopulation problem as it is, the cat rescue was unable to help out and Mom and Dad ended up keeping them... all of them. Now they have the six kittens, mama-cat (who lives with my dad in Vegas while he's working there), and the two old lady cats Precious and Jo (I got Jo in high school and she grew attached to my Dad when I left for college). In addition to the nine cats they have a bearded dragon named Puff, a turtle, and a fish tank with four gouramis and a couple algae eaters. Its always been a zoo in the Larson home!

Here's a slide show that starts with the kitties, then goes into some holiday photos:

We came home on the day after Christmas (to a loudly protesting Gretel kitty). On Sunday we decided to replace the carpet in our bedroom. We ended up going with the Pavilion Berber in Desert Stone at The Home Depot since it fit our room (12' wide rolls) and wouldn't require seaming, it was in stock, its about a third the price of putting in laminate (what we put in the living area), and it would be good for the pets. We aren't expecting this to last forever, or be what we sell the condo with if we ever sell the place. We just wanted something nicer than and different from the standard apartment carpeting that was already present.

We brought home the 12' x 16' roll in the good old Jetta - gotta love the fold-down back seats, that car has been nearly as good as a truck for us. That afternoon we moved everything but the bed and the Bowflex out of the room, ripped up the old stuff, laid down the new (the original carpet pad was still in fine condition and didn't need replacing), and maneuvered it into place under the remaining furniture. It was quite the task, but didn't take long at all. It certainly isn't a professional job, but its more than good enough for what we want right now. And for less than $150, its definitely made the room feel a lot nicer. I don't have a good picture (its not an easy room to take a photo in due to lighting issues), but click on the linked product name to see it.

Yesterday we headed into San Francisco for an early New Year's Eve dinner at Daily Grill. This is the restaurant we went to last year around the holidays, and where my great-aunt and -uncle took the family to for my college graduation six(!) years ago. We shared the spinach-artichoke dip with crostini, Chris had an aged rib eye with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, and I had the pesto penne. The service wasn't as good as last year which was a disappointment. The food was quite good, though not warranting a trip into the city alone. After dinner we headed to Nordstrom's to have dessert and coffee at their cafe like we did last year, but they had closed early for New Year's Eve. I love sitting at the top of Nordstrom's and watching the city below, so I was quite disappointed that we couldn't do that this time. Instead we caught BART back home - we didn't want to be in SF when it got really crazy for New Year's Eve, it was crowded enough while we there. We stopped off for ice cream at the market and watched the ball drop in New York on TV, with my ark snuggled happily in my lap:

It was a nice evening overall. Next year we'll try someplace local for our little tradition of a fancy holiday dinner out, though I told Chris I want to go to a very nice vegetarian place in the city for my birthday in April that I've been wanting to try.

For the next few days before work starts again we'll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, and conditioning our bodies to wake up before 10 am again (ouch!). I hope you had a happy holiday and here's to a wonderful new year!