Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dick...Liz & Dick

Finally, a post where I can use the word dick all I want and not have it flagged as dirty. Also finally, Lifetime aired a movie I might be the least interested in seeing.

She really does look like her

Many critics lauded this movie as a train wreck months before it even aired. After viewing it in it's entirety, I actually was kind of impressed.

My first exposure to Lindsay Lohan was her starring role in The Parent Trap, many years ago. I was captivated by her performance. She brought an essence to the movie that even the original Haley Mills didn't.

Since then, like everyone I have been over shadowed by her tabloid presence more so than that of her acting. That is, until now.

Liz & Dick isn't a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that it is a shockingly, possibly true representation of their relationship. I think most of the world has created a vision of Elizabeth Taylor and Dick, that transcends reality. I think what the producers of this movie sought to portray were the real people behind the media hype.

I almost wish that the entire movie had consisted of Liz & Dick sitting in front of the camera as they did from time to time throughout. Their candor during those scenes was amazing! People often forget that during their relationship Liz was a young, immature girl (she was 29 when they met and had done 29 films...not a situation that fosters maturity) and I feel that Lindsay captured that. It's very easy to take the icon that Liz became and easily apply that to every characterization of her for eternity. But she wasn't always an icon, famous and spectacular, but not always an icon.

This movie captures that time. The time when Liz was a wildly successful actress, but not yet an icon. For that viewpoint I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

San Fran: The Hotel

In my 13 years traveling I have stayed at more hotels than I can count. One chain of hotels I haven't had the pleasure of staying in is The W Hotel brand. This time in San Fran, I got my chance. Granted, this hotel chain is a little more upscale than I would ever stay in if I was traveling on my dime. But if someone else is paying...I'm there!

I had a standard room, so it was small. But some of the touches were very highbrow.

Mirrored clouds on the headboards.

The art in the bathroom was also much more upscale than you find at most hotels. This piece is just amazing. It made me smile every time I peed.

Fashioned out of vintage airline tickets.

The elevators alone were amazing. Not for their speed, but for their art. The tree is a layered glass effect.

A little tripy, the leaves seemed to move as you did.

One thing this hotel does, that I guess a lot of hotels are going towards is being "Green". Upon checkin they offered me a deal where I could opt for maid service every other day and get 500 Starwood Guest Points for every day I didn't have maid service. Well, I'm not a messy person so I said yes to the deal. What it really comes down to is a way for them to save money on maid services. But who am I to complain. I did get to complain one day tho. 

After being at the convention center for 14 hours, I returned to my room at 7pm to find the maid still cleaning it. I was less than pleased and immediately went down to the front desk to complain. I mean, I had been gone for 14 hours...that maid had plenty of time to get to my room before I returned! The young lady at the front desk was sympathetic, she said, "Sir, how can I possibly make this right for you?" I said, "Well you can give me vouchers for a couple free drinks at the bar while I wait for my room to be ready." Without batting an eye she immediately produced 2 drink vouchers and sent me on my way. Moral of the story...a cocktail or 2 goes a long way towards my happiness.

I liked the cocktail as much as the flower.

That is the Meadowlark. It's a combination of vodka, fresh lemon juice and a lavender syrup. It was very tasty and 2 of these was well worth having to wait a bit for my room to be cleaned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

San Fran: The Food

Let's travel back in time to a few weeks ago. I was in San Francisco. I don't know exactly where any of you might have been. Even if I did know, I 'm sure I've forgotten by now. What I haven't forgotten is all of the wonderful food I was able to sample in San Francisco while I was there.

I have found a new love...don't worry Hubby, it's a burger. A Super Duper Burger to be exact. Around here we have Five Guys Burgers & Fries, but in San Fran, they have Super Duper Burgers, and I have to say...they are super duper! 

You can get a double or a single burger and their garlic fries are to DIE for! Yeah, I ate here 4 times during the trip. Twice was to prove to other people how amazing the place is. The sacrifices I make for others!!!

Heaven on a cute little metal tray!

You really do need that wrapper on the burger in order to eat it. They are so juicy that your hands are a mess till your finished even with the wrapper. A word or warning...if you order the garlic fries, you will smell like garlic through the following day. I woke up the next morning and even my pillow smelled like garlic.

My coworkers and I took the client out to dinner one evening to a delightful little place called oola. Right off the bat, I have to tell you that the service was less than exceptional. We were a group of 10 and they really didn't seem to have the ability to service a group that large. I would guess that a party of 2 or 4 would have a delightful experience here. 

Yeah, they need to clean the bird poop off their sign.

Their real claim to fame is their cocktail menu. They offer a lot of prohibition era cocktails that are made with the finest ingredients. I was intrigued by the Dark & Stormy. It's a combination of incredibly dark rum, ginger and lime. It is indeed dark, so much so that I had to light it from behind with a candle to get a photo of it.

A storm is brewing
Pretty amazing cocktail. I need to start making these at home. I just need to find some really dark rum to do it with.

For dinner, I chose their 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese and roasted brussel sprouts. Everything was very tasty, I just wish it had arrived faster. I do have to say...the waiter did keep the cocktails coming, that's a plus. I apologize for the lighting, the cocktails aren't the only dark thing at this place.

I don't remember what 4 cheeses...but does it really matter?

Tender, perfect!

The meal really was delicious. I am so glad I wasn't paying for it. I mean, those cocktails were $12 a piece and I know I drank more than 6 of them. Thankfully the big wigs didn't say a word. Cause if they had I would have answered with, "13 years...last up!"

That was all of the savory food from the trip. Some nights we were finished so late and I was so tired that I just grabbed a sandwich at Subway. One nice little treat were the cupcakes that the convention & visitors association brought to us. Yes, I ate one or two despite the carbs involved.

At first glance, I thought this cupcake was cussing at me.

Well, I don't travel again until New Year's and that will be to Las Vegas. So I might not have much on-the-road food to talk about until then.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This is a Test: Winter Mint

Look! A new column!!! Most people assume that the confidence with which I attack my projects somehow means I have any idea how they are going to turn out. Little secret...most of the time I have no idea what the outcome will be. So, I have created the "This is a Test" column for times when I'm relatively sure that the outcome could be way worse than I imagine it to be.

I have always considered mint to be a summer delicacy. Most consider it a weed, for me it's the main ingredient in my amazing Mojitos. Mojito season officially runs Memorial Day to Labor Day for me mainly because that is when the mint flourishes. For some reason, perhaps because temps have been fairly mild here this fall, my mint is still growing.

I've decided to try storing some for the winter. Who knows...maybe I'll have Mojitos on New Year's? Anyway, I did a little research and the 2 most prevalent ways for storing mint are to freeze it inside ice cubes or to vacuum seal it. I've opted for vacuum sealing simply because the packages of finished product take up a lot less space in the freezer than a bag of ice cubes would.

I began by harvesting my mint. I pretty much decimated the plant. Winter is coming and it'll be totally dead soon, I just helped it along. Here is my harvested and carefully selected mint.

Minty heaven in a colander

Once I washed it off and patted it dry, I let it sit for a while. All of the websites said that the mint should be as dry as possible prior to vacuum sealing it. My hands still smell like mint from all the handling I did. I love that! I get the same joy out of handling basil.

I then dug out my trusty FoodSaver machine and sealed up the mint. I think it did pretty well.

FoodSaver in no way paid for this endorsement.
The true test will be when I go to use it. I'll be sure to blog about the first ever Winter Mojito!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yep! I Live in the Country

I've talked a lot about my house, but I haven't discussed a lot about the area I live in. It's a pretty small town in Western Maryland. I can traverse the 2 main streets of the town in about 10 minutes, if that gives you any idea of the size. The town is surrounded by a variety of agriculture. There are 6 orchards within a 3 minute drive of my house and an excellent butcher who's offerings come from a 30 mile circumference of the town. can't get fresher than that for produce and meats. More importantly there are 2 liquor stores within a 3 minute drive. You can't get anymore drunk than that!!!

I've always live rurally. I grew up in a slightly larger Small Town than I live in now. There is something truly priceless about small town living. Sure, I could have moved to somewhere a bit more cosmopolitain, but why? I have everything I need right here.

My town even has parades...3 of them a year, and my house is directly on the parade route. We have the Carnival Parade every summer, the Homecoming Parade in the fall and every year...the parade that accompanies the annual Steam & Craft Festival. Steam? What??? Well yes, every year they haul out the ancient steam powered farm machinery that powered our early nation and show it off. In addition they have great food and well...crafts. I'm not so much into the crafts, but the food...I enjoy that very much.

During the parade you see sights such as this...

Yep, powered entirely by steam.

And this...

It's like a train and tractor combined!

Aside from some of the cool steam powered engines that I'm hoping are around when the Zombie Apocalypse hits, it also is a very family centered affair.

Like father, like son..oh wait, like daughter? Good for her!

The scary part of the parade is at the end. Everyone in town who owns a riding lawn mower saddles up and rides through town behind the steam engines.

 I'm so glad I don't own a riding mower.

Only slightly more shocking are some of the social idioms the parade seemed to enforce. Photographical evidence follows...

Wife in the wagon.

Grandma in the wagon.

And yep...grandma is clutching a flag in that picture. So yes, I do live in the country. A town where the women-folk aren't allowed to drive mowers, but are resigned to riding in the wagon. If I had a riding lawnmower and a wagon you had better believe The Hubby would be driving it while I sat in the wagon with Molly, sipping on a martini and throwing candy and condoms out to those observing!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bulbs...And I Don't Mean Flowers

Well, here it is getting chilly here in Maryland. Sorry I haven't posted in so long. Just so you know we are going to be doing some time traveling. I'm starting out with some current posts and then will go back in time to cover some things I was too lazy to post while they were happening.

Back to bulbs...light bulbs, that is. I am trying something new and not for the reasons you might think. I have 2 light bulbs, one outside and one inside that require a 17 ft ladder to change. They both recently went out at the same time which is sort of a saving grace. It means only having lug the ladder around one day.

Yeah, you wouldn't want to change that either!

I headed off to Lowe's  yesterday to check out my lighting options. I usually buy "Rough Usage" bulbs (Sounds a little kinky, doesn't it?) for these fixtures because the front of my house gets so much vibration from the road. Normal bulbs last about 3 days in these fixtures and that's just a huge pain. Once I got to the store, I was confronted by way more lighting choices than I felt like making that day.

There are the normal incandescent bulbs, well I knew I wasn't messing with those. There are the CFS bulbs. I am not a fan...not only are they rather delicate, but I don't enjoy the quality of light they give off at all. I feel like the light they give off is the same quality of that in a morgue. 

What surprised me was the huge selection of LED light bulbs they had now. I have a lot of accent lighting that is powered by LED's, but I never really considered it's other lighting possibilities. LED's are great, they are bright and they last forever! The LED lighting I have as been going strong for 8 years now. I opted for a couple of bulbs that were equal to 75 watts, a little less than I have used in these location in the past. LED bulbs are fairly expensive at the moment compared to their incandescent brothers. I paid $40 each for the 2 bulbs I bought. There were even more expensive options...but I'm on a budget, no time for lighting frivolity. 

I pulled out the incredibly long ladder and installed the bulbs today. Now I can't wait for it to get dark to see how well they perform. I think over time the LED bulbs will come down in price and I could see myself converting the entire home over to LED. Mind you, I'm not so concerned about the economy of it...I just love the idea of hardly ever having to change a lightbulb!