Baby Paisley

Six months old! Growing up so fast, our little Paisley is. She is smiley and chubby and sleeping well and eating solid food. Seems like only yesterday she was born. She won't be a tiny baby much longer.

Above, Paisley with my llama Alphonse. Below, a comparison of Natalie (left) with Paisley (right) at about the same age. Can you spot the differences between these two babies?

My new obsession: LEGO mecha

It started with this, the Mobile Frame Zero kickstarter page. I need a new board game, or a new hobby, like a hole in the head. But I'm absolutely enamored with these little LEGO robots. Some builders are doing incredible work, using blocks in ways that were never intended, and I'm deep in the rabbit hole of photo galleries. I mean just look at these:




San Diego treats: Pinkberry

If Apple and Cold Stone had a baby, it would look like Pinkberry. The product tastes more like a yogurt that has been frozen than your typical "frozen yogurt." And the shop is so modern--so clean!--that it seemed to belong in a video game set in a fictional utopian city.

I ordered a cone with the seasonal peach yogurt, topped with sweet peaches and creamy Swirly Whip. It was so good, there's only one thing I can say about it: go to Pinkberry. Oh, and then open a franchise in Minnesota, so that I can get some too!

UPDATE: Pinkberry now in Mall of America.

San Diego eats: Pokez

On my last business trip I suggested that Strong Hearts vegan cafe was the Syracuse analog to the Minneapolis stalwart Hard Times cafe. But that was mostly because I was over-eager to ascribe its legendary qualities to another deserving restaurant. The truth is that the similarities mostly ended with the menu.

Which I why I make the following statement confidently, but with a couple of crucial caveats: Pokez is the Mexican, omnivorous, version of Hard Times Cafe. Check it out: totally sketchy-looking inside and out, loud music, and good vegan food for not a lot of money. But here there are differences too: a family with young children occupied the table next to mine, a sight that I can't quite imagine at Hard Times. Also, lucky me because I was low on cash, Pokez takes credit cards.

I had the tofu, potato, and mushroom taco; and a machaca burrito, which was a scramble of tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables. The taco was great. The burrito was as big as my arm and I barely made a dent in it. I also ordered a Sangria and then only took a few sips.

I was fat and happy as I waddled back out to the streets of San Diego. Only one more stop on our tour and then I'm done with food reviews for this trip.

San Diego drinks: Craft & Commerce

There are few pleasure in life I savor as much as an expertly-made cocktail. It's also very rare for that cocktail to be made by someone other than myself. I was determined to have a good drink in San Diego, and that's what brought me to Craft & Commerce.

I was impressed from the instant I walked in the door (pictured above). The bar was fully stocked with specialty mixtures and fresh food ingredients sitting in separate cups on a bed of ice. After consulting the menu I ordered a Wimbledon Fizz. When I've tried to mix a Fizz at home, it turned out runny and gross. This one was delicious.

While I sipped my (fantastic) drink, I watched the bartender make a few more, using some classic techniques. He was like an artist at work. Everything had some fresh fruit or tea or infusion, and I wanted to try them all! Unfortunately, even if I could have afforded to stay and sip the afternoon away, there wasn't much time left to sample the culinary delights of San Diego.

San Diego eats: Fabrison's

On Friday I ate one orange, one white chocolate mocha, one bowl of melon pieces, one apple, one crepe, one bottle of Orangina, one cocktail, one taco, one burrito, one basket of chips and salsa, and one sangria. That night I had a stomach ache.

No but seriously, folks, this week I ate a lot of meat. My digestive system is completely out of whack trying to figure out how to handle it all. So Friday was a kind a meat cleanse when not a single ounce of animal protein passed my lips. Which brings us to lunch at Fabrison's French Creperie Cafe in Little Italy (of course?).

I ordered a Nutella crepe with whipped cream and to drink, Orangina. It was everything I dreamed of and more! I savored that snack for about an hour and then moseyed around the block for a digestif.

San Diego eats: Fish Market

On Thursday all of us had dinner at the Fish Market Restaurant. It's a three mile walk from the hotel along the harbor. The restaurant sits right on the bay. I had high hopes again and again I was not disappointed.

For starters, I had never eaten an oyster before, so I tried one of those in an oyster shot. It wasn't bad but it didn't taste like much other than the hot sauce concoction it was served in. Our table shared a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and two of the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc.

Dinner was the mesquite grilled Alaskan halibut... probably the best halibut I've ever had. They print their menus twice daily to reflect availability and when I asked about it, we learned that this was their first fresh catch in some time, so I was very lucky!

San Diego eats: Stone Brewing Co.

On Wednesday we took a road trip to Stone Brewery in Escondido, California, about half an hour's drive north of San Diego. It's a big, beautiful facility; everything Surly aspires to be. You walk into a gift shop, can see into the brew rooms through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, and stroll around a landscaped courtyard garden. Even the bathrooms were impressive, with big egg-shaped urinals and a countertop carved from a solid slab of rock.

We were seated at the last open table on a spacious patio. I ordered the grilled Buffalo Burger on recommendation of my colleague. Listen to this: "A tamarind-glazed buffalo patty with pickled red onions, roasted garlic mayo, and butter lettuce, served on our housemade sweet Hawaiian roll with Sriracha pickled cucumbers." Mmmm. I had garlic mashed potatoes on the side.

For beer I played it safe with the Stone Pale Ale. Not an exciting choice, but a good barometer of a brewery's overall quality. Besides that I've already had their signature offering and IPA so I was curious how they would handle a milder beer. Conclusion: It was all very good. A brewery tour was starting as we left, but we didn't have time to stick around. Maybe next time!

San Diego eats: Old Town Mexican Cafe

On Tuesday we had dinner at Old Town Mexican Cafe. In contrast to the setting for last night's outing (quiet, trendy, and not crowded) this place was packed, wild, and totally unpretentious. It was highly recommended by a member of our group as the Mexican restaurant in San Diego.

Once we were seated, the chips and dips started coming... and didn't stop. The salsa tasted fresh, the guacamole was good if surprisingly mild, and the queso was revelatory. Solid, toasty cheese packed with ground meats and dripping with oil. It was a meal in itself. In fact, another one of my coworkers didn't even bother to order an entree after filling up on that cheesy ambrosia.

Foolishly, I ordered a chicken chile enchilada and grilled Mahi Mahi taco. They were both good (I preferred the enchilada to the taco) but neither achieved the level of perfection that had been set by the queso. In that respect it was disappointing, but for the queso alone it's worth the trip.

San Diego eats: Yard House

On Monday night I visited Yard House restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp district. I had the pepper-encrusted Gorgonzola burger. It was pretty fantastic. The patty was a small, circumference-wise, but tall. Cooked well-done to order and covered in mushrooms and spinach. The thin cut fries were good too. Not really amazing, but they hit the spot after a day of flying.

What was impressive was the glass they used to serve my big boy pour of Red Trolley Ale. It was taller than most vases and very narrow, with a bulb base. I felt it would have been very easy to knock over after having a couple of these beers!

Beer was what this place was really all about. They had one of the longest rows of taps I've ever seen with plenty of local selections. Downstairs, next to the bathrooms, you could look into their storage area and see rows of kegs all hooked up to pressure regulators. Anyway that's what I think they were, and it was enough to impress our resident home brewer, so that's enough for me!

Setting sail for San Diego

My company is sending me to San Diego. I haven't traveled far (or flown anywhere) since the last business trip to Syracuse. That was three and a half years ago! Which means Natalie would have been three months old.

This time I'm leaving Jenna with two little kids and I'll be away for nearly a week. Not only is this the longest time I will ever have been away from the kids, it is also more consecutive days than Jenna and I have been apart since we got married. That's kind of amazing.

I'm also having an adventure in light travel. I only packed one not-so-big carry-on bag to live out of for the week. It should be more than enough, but I usually pack too much, so it will be a test for future trips. This is what passes for excitement in my life.

Number Munchers

This week I started studying for the GMAT. Now, you might think the important news here is that I'm thinking of getting an MBA. But considering that I started my previous blog to write about going to law school, then got rejected by nine different programs... let's not jump the gun. For now I'm just focused on this exam. Specifically, the math.

The reading and writing parts of the GMAT will be super-easy,* but the "Quantitative" section has me worried. It calls for knowledge of formulas and calculations that I either haven't used in over a decade or never properly learned in the first place. I did some research and ordered this book.

It feels weird to be studying for a test again after all these years. I was talking about it with Jenna today and she couldn't believe it's been nine years since we graduated from college. On the other hand, all my life I've never stopped having nightmares about school, so in a way it's like I never left!

*I scored 48 on the Verbal section of the official practice test with plenty of time to spare (a score of 45 or higher is in the 99th percentile).

Wabbit Season

On Sunday morning I was watching some Juncos pecking around on our lawn, when I saw a flash of white out by the compost bin... our first Spring bunny! At first I just snapped a few photos but as I got closer, it was clear that this was a tame rabbit. My neighbor helped catch her and I spent most of Sunday building a rabbit hutch.

Natalie named the rabbit "Faye," but soon changed her mind to "Sasha" (pronounced "Sha-sha"). I have no idea where she came up with either of these names. We got some food and treats and bowls at the pet store. Then we moved Sasha from the pet carrier into her new hutch for the night.

I'm trying to figure out the breed; my best guess is a "broken brown" Rex. That would mean she could be either a juvenile or fully grown, depending on whether she's a standard or "mini" Rex. Coincidentally, when I checked on our hens I found the first egg of the year, and I told Natalie that Sasha laid it.

Late Night Snack Ice Cream

  1. Melt some chocolate
  2. Dip some potato chips in there and lay them out on wax paper
  3. Let the choco-chips harden & break up into bite-size chunks
  4. Mix with vanilla ice cream and caramel
  5. Snack time!
I found the Ben & Jerry's version after the fact. March is the month I resume ice cream making after a winter sabbatical (I guess?). This flavor is a new entry in the salty/sweet category.

Rock the Cradle

Natalie and I had a wonderful time together at Rock the Cradle. She played drums, watched a puppet show, and owned the dance floor in the kids' disco. I don't have a single good photo except for this one I took over my shoulder while driving home: