Monday, July 28, 2008

A Room of One's Own

The nursery here has been up for grabs for some time, and while I had planned on taking it over as "my" room, for writing and sewing, Griffin has broken out with other ideas.
The other night, we watched My Family and Other Animals, in which a young Gerald Durrell has his own room filled with various critters in their nests and cages. It made quite an impression on Griffin, and the next morning he asked if he could have the nursery as his own room. He also wants a bird.
That night, I heard thumping sounds coming from above, and asked Troy if he knew what was going on. He said that Griffin keeps going into the room and rearranging the existing furniture, which includes a crib that needs to be dismantled, and a chaise, which was for me. He set up picnic blankets on the floor with stuffed animals, and has lined up his little Lego people on the nightstand.
"He's going for Squatter's Rights," I thought. Still, I had to admit I was getting caught up in his enthusiasm.
Then, today, I found this charming Marimekko Metsanvaki ("Forest Dwellers") print bedding, which I thought would be perfect for Griffin's room, and had to concede my claim on the space.

We are not getting a bird, though.
Well, certainly not an owl.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stingray spotting

This morning we were sitting outside, chatting, and spotted some stingrays swimming around.

They're very graceful, and mesmerizing to watch. Or maybe that was just my take, having not had my morning cappuccino yet.

Nevertheless, it was a nice surprise, and a pleasant start to the day.

Very cool.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saved from a watery death

Have you ever seen such a tiny frog?

Troy went swimming and saw this teeny thing floating, legs out. Lifeguard Troy saved him.

He is now safely on land, living in the trees, presumably.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Wonder

I stumbled upon a near-miracle the other night.

Friday is doing really well at suppressing his urges to chase the cats. But I didn't expect such closeness as this! Here he is sleeping with Monster -- he must have been pretty tuckered out.
Meanwhile, Winter, our other cat, wants nothing to do with those bonding sessions, thank you very much.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The still! C'est arrive!

The pot still arrived from Germany!
Well, technically, half of it arrived. Here is the truck and the guys unloading the container.
You can see why I adore my f-i-l. Isn't he cute?!

Huge pot still. Fork lift. Ergh! Stuff! Masculine!

Enormous copper still and parts.

Pipes! Wtf are we supposed to do with these? They did not come with instructions.

Wow, I don't know what we've gotten ourselves into, but I'm really glad that the Germans -- the makers of the still -- and some friends (engineers!) have volunteered to assist. People have been really cool about lending a hand. For example, the guy running the forklift works in a nearby boat builder, but just offered to pitch in. This is really appreciated. He and all helpers will be given rum, for sure, from the first batches.
Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tasty seafood in Indian Rocks Beach

We recently paid a visit to Troy's grandpa, and afterwards, decided to check out a seafood place I'd heard about in Indian Rocks Beach, a little town on the Gulf of Mexico, South of Clearwater.
Keegan's Seafood Grill was recently featured on a FoodTV special about the U.S.'s best seafood restaurants, and I'm happy to say it deserves the honor. What a great place!
The owners, Linda & Cesar, are very warm & welcoming, and the restaurant is clean, cute, and has an unpretentious atmosphere. Cesar is a Spaniard, and reportedly excels at grilling octopus, so that's what I had to try.
My mom used to make octopus, and it's very popular in the Mediterranean, but not so much here in America. I think it makes people slightly nervous, but if you have never tried it, please give it a chance. It's very tasty when done right -- in fact, it's much better than calamari, which everyone seems to eat despite it being served up rubbery and soggy 90% of the time.
Octopus is a little tough, and needs to be tenderized before being cooked. Traditionally, people beat it repeatedly against a rock to achieve this, and I remember my mom whacking it against the kitchen sink (I think she enjoyed this). But it also can, and should, be tenderized with a marinade, and this is part of Cesar's secret -- a flavorful marinade of red wine, herbs, and spices. The other crucial element to a good octopus preparation is to char it on a flaming hot grill.
Still, as right as it was, having this delivered to the table freaked out the boys, and no one wanted to try it.

Looks a little too much like a Jules Verne monster.
Thinking about it now, though, it's probably good for them to see their mom eat an octopus with a big knife -- it might give me a slight edge in future battles with them. You can see that Cesar adds little fresh chili bits to his marinade; it lent just the right degree of spicy heat -- delicious.
I also ate a Greek salad, which, in the Tampa Bay area always includes a small portion of potato salad tucked in. I don't know why that is, but it's a quirky local custom and it tastes really good! You get used to it.

Troy got a pita sandwich stuffed with crab salad, and the boys had linguine with butter, and a hamburger. All excellent and high-quality. Also, our waitress was very nice and friendly to the boys, which I appreciate.
For dessert, we all split two pieces of Key lime pie, a perfect prototype! This is exactly how a Key lime pie should look and taste.

A fine balance between tart & sweet, with a graham-cracker crust.
I look forward to returning to try some of their other dishes, like the gumbo & a fresh fish special.

Keegan's Seafood Grille 1519 Gulf Blvd (Mile Marker 17.5)
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida 33785
(727) 596-2477

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Everybody's All-American

This is the Hob Nob, my favorite place in Sarasota to get a hamburger & fries.

The entire restaurant is outdoors, under cover, but with no walls. You can sit at the bar; at a high table-for-two; or at one of the long picnic tables, which you share with other diners...perhaps to hobnob.

The place has been around for 50 years, an American classic serving every echalon of society -- you might sit next to a sheriff, or you might sit next to someone who's been on "Cops!" you never know.
^Clearly from the latter group.^
There's a pretty extensive menu, as well as a blackboard of Daily Specials, and yet I've actually never had anything here but a hamburger and fries! The chili dogs are reportedly excellent.
Once you place your order, your waitress (and they're all waitresses) prints out a chit and sets it in front of you with a clothespin so it doesn't blow away in the wind.

And apparently the Hob Nob is open seven days a week. As Johnnie Carson used to say: I did not know that.
Here's Cooper with a tasty chocolate milkshake.

The regular hamburger, not to be confused with the Hob Nob Burger, which I believe is a double-decker. Troy and I immediately placed a bet that I would not make it through lunch without getting some of this on my white dress.

The fries. They're crinkle fries. Everything is served in the waxed paper it comes wrapped up in, or in a basket with a waxed paper liner.

Troy had a blackened Tilapia sandwich, one of the day's specials.

All done. All clear. All good.

Cappuccino Art X

"Platform Pump with Ankle Strap."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thinking & schmoozing

Recently, Kelly-Jane of the very impressive Cooking the Books, awarded me these two blogger awards:


The timing was funny, because I'd been feeling like I had nothing to say, and what was the point in my having a blog...I was thinking of packing it in because I really didn't feel like I was contributing anything worthwhile. This is why my "Sum Sum Summertime" post was up for so long.
My blog serves as a modern diary for me, and I like being able to share a moment with pictures included. Some friends who are very busy and on-the-go can pop in and catch up a little bit, and a lot of the time, I do like to try to share funny or happy or silly moments because my view of life is that there's enough hardship going around, so why not talk about cakes and cats and things that can bring a little levity to our lives?
When I first saw that K-J listed me in her meme, I thought, "What does this mean?" I guess the fact that I've been thinking about the meaning and managed to concoct a post about it tells me she was right, haha.
I just wish more people would leave more comments on my blog to schmooze along with me :).
Thank you, K-J, you are very thoughtful yourself, and I appreciate these two awards. AND your blog is fabulous and always inspires me. It's like pressing my nose up against a bakery window!