Sunday, March 29, 2009

Northern California, March 2009

Yukie and I spent three days in northern California. Pretty much all we did was eat.

On Thursday, I met up with Liz at
CafĂ© de la Presse in San Francisco. She always picks a good restaurant. We shared a goat cheese tarte, two baskets of bread, roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes (with whole cloves of garlic — love that), wilted spinach, beef bourguignon, and macaroni gratin. (I thought it would seem like less food if it was all listed together. I guess not.) We had a lot of catching up to do.

On Friday, Yukie and I spent time with our aunt Mishi and uncle Min (here they are in front of their house). We met up with our aunt Dorothy and cousin Gayle at Kirala in Berkeley. This time, only one dish for me: tempura udon — it was nice to practice moderation.

We went back to Min and Mishi's house to chat and eat cupcakes that Gayle baked in her solar oven. I passed on the cupcakes (I'm trying to forego dessert at lunchtime), but they looked really lemony and delicious.

I did need a late-afternoon snack, so Yukie and I went to King Pin Donuts in Berkeley. Usually they close at 3 a.m., but the guy said he's been closing at 2 a.m. because it's spring break. When I was in college, Ruth and I used to go there many weeknights after hanging out at Manny's. So I picked up a chocolate-frosted old-fashioned (for me) and a regular old-fashioned and a jelly donut (for her).

For dinner, Yukie and I ate at Chevys. Now, to me, Chevys is like Red Lobster: a fabulous chain restaurant that people secretly love. Or not so secretly: Yukie wondered where all the people came from. Anyway, I figure that, in a chicken salad, the lettuce and avocado offset the bacon and bleu cheese.

Saturday morning, Ruth and I had brunch at Bill's in San Jose. After an omelette and hash browns, I made a purchase that I hope will be life-changing: a pair of MBTs. Ruth tried on a pair, too, and said they made her legs hurt. I hope that means they were working. Either way, I plan on lots of long walks with Papa when I get back. But enough about healthy habits.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More March Madness

I had a busy weekend, and Papa participated in a lot of it.

On Friday, we went to Keith’s for March Madness. To practice her dribbling, Papa peed on the white carpet when she walked in. (Oh no, Papa.) I think big entrances make her nervous.

But after that, she loved hanging out with the crowd. Here she is giving kisses to Cathy and Jeremy.

On Saturday, Katy and I went out to dinner and then had chocolate cake at my house. Papa also enjoyed that (Katy's company, not the cake).

Papa turns 9 tomorrow. So I went to Pet World and got her a new treat ball. She is a bit puzzled by it, occasionally bringing it to me so I can take out the treats. But I think this will be a good toy for her: it looks like it will really keep her busy. Happy Birthday, Papa!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Little upsets

1. Cal lost to Maryland (84–71) in the first round of the tournament.

2. One of my essays was rejected by a women’s magazine.

3. Putting together a nightstand took hours because there were so many predrilled holes in the drawer rails.

This is all about perspective. The Cal thing, I have no control over. The essay, I can revise and send out again. But the nightstand, that is something that seemed pointlessly difficult. Why should assembling a small piece of furniture require so much effort? Why didn't the diagram clarify things? And why couldn't they just provide a 4 mm hex wrench?

After two nights of effort, I finally finished assembling my three-drawer wonder. And UCLA won, so I can continue my emotional investment in college basketball and end my day on a high note. Good night!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh no, Papa, not my favorite lip gloss!

My favorite lip gloss, Max Factor's "Too Much Wine," fell out of my purse last week. Papa saw fit to destroy it. The lip gloss is from Maxalicious' Naughty line; I think Papa interpreted that literally. Also, doesn't she look like she's had too much wine? Amazingly, there was no gloss on her face or smeared into the carpet. So there's something.

I'm pondering a new, spring-y lip gloss. She must have really hated that shade.

I think Papa doesn't understand when I'm displeased. Maybe because I sigh and then make her pose by her handiwork. My instinct is to snap a photo, not to clean up the mess. Because I don't want to do a reenactment. This is all real, folks!

I'll be in California next week, so I may take a day off from Oh no, Papa. But I have a feeling she'll keep up her hijinx at my parents' house....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh no, Papa, it's just the PediPaws!

For Christmas, Yukie gave Papa PediPaws. Alas, Papa did not show quite the interest I did.

I don't know if you've ever trimmed your dog's nails and accidentally cut the quick, but that yelping haunts me. So even though Yukie couldn't use PediPaws on Yoshi (her siamese, who can tolerate the noise but not the actual filing), it seemed like it was worth a try.

The instructions were helpful. Because essentially, I do need to pin Papa down when using this. Oh no, Papa. The buzzing is a bit alarming.

But she's such a good girl, she trembles but allows me to file her nails.

And the best news of all: PediPaws actually works. I thought it would be wimpy, but it's powerful. Just be careful not to angle it wrong. That hurts (I tested it first on my own nails, ouch).

I give it four stars. Paws up!

Monday, March 9, 2009

One of my favorite books

I just re-read one of my favorite books, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. This time, I read it with an eye for excerpts that Bill could interpret photographically. I loved this book just as much as the first time I read it, but I was surprised that there weren't many excerpts I wanted to see translated visually. Maybe that's because I already have an idea of what the story looks like.

So here's the one I picked, from page 13. It's part of a conversation that Oskar (who's 9) is having with his dad:

He said, “We exist because we exist.” “What the?” “We could imagine all sorts of universes unlike this one, but this is the one that happened.”

I understood what he meant, and I didn’t disagree with him, but I didn’t agree with him either. Just because you’re an atheist, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t love for things to have reasons for why they are.

So true, isn't it?

By the way, here's a (lighthearted) runner-up. This line appears by itself on page 20, without punctuation:

And I wouldn't say no to something sweet

Aren't you curious what this book is about? If you get a chance, read it! And also consider giving Bill an excerpt to work with.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oh no, Papa, not you, too!

I’ve been playing a lot of tennis lately — singles, not doubles — and I woke up Monday morning barely able to straighten my right arm. Later that night, Papa started limping after playing Frisbee. She tried not to put weight on her front right leg.

Coincidence — or sympathy pain?

Even though I know that my sore arm doesn't preclude running or using the elliptical machine or doing abs, I've taken it easy on my workouts this week. Tonight, I skipped the gym and opted for a nap. Papa joined me. Doesn't she look happy about the extra couch time?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Some uses for buttermilk

I bought a quart of buttermilk so I could make scones this weekend. Because I have no idea when buttermilk goes bad — and I’m paranoid about the freshness of dairy products — I wanted to use up the rest. As soon as possible.

Lemon cake sounded yummy, but I could only find recipes that required a loaf or bundt pan, neither of which I own. (I don’t do loaves. Meat loaf, I make in a pie plate or a glass baking dish.)

So I made a chocolate buttermilk cake from a recipe I found online. It was just okay, not nearly as good as the Hershey’s chocolate cake I baked last winter. That recipe requires sour cream. I never have a problem using up sour cream, by the way: I'll put it on soup or tortilla chips or mac and cheese. Maybe I could try it on the chocolate cake....

Back to the buttermilk. I suppose I could make a half recipe of Lindsay’s Grandma Dort’s waffles, but I’m not in the mood for those (or for pancakes or biscuits) after the scones.

Do you have any good recipes that use buttermilk? Maybe as a surprising ingredient?