Monday, December 20, 2010

Armadillo Willy's - Barbecue Time!

Jim, JB, and I felt like barbecue for lunch, and we drove over to a local place. However, it was about 2:30pm on a Saturday, and as soon as we got out of the car, a restaurant employee came out to let us know that they were closed (and would be closed the next day, too). Apparently they close at 2:30pm on Saturdays... which seems really odd (they don't re-open for dinner or anything, either). So we'll have to go back there some other time. We drove over to a place that JB and Jim (whose initials are also JB, LoL) have lunch sometimes: Armadillo Willy's.

They claim to be Texas-style, but I'm not 100% sure. I didn't really like it at all, but I'd go back anyway. To start with, apparently they have a special everyday, but it's not clear on the menu, and we didn't see them until we were at the table, which was too late. This is because you order when you walk in, then you carry a buzzer until your order is ready, when you go to a window to pick it up.

I was feeling pretty confident in my (Memphis) pulled pork sandwich selection, which turned out to be pretty blah. I didn't like the sauce (I got "original" or "mild," whatever you want to call it), and wasn't thrilled with the meat. In fact, Jonathan had ordered the chopped brisket (with the hotter sauce), and we couldn't tell our sandwiches apart. Chopped versus pulled, beef versus pork, hot versus mild... the differences were not apparent. We could tell that the sauces differed slightly, but it seemed to be a vinegar-type difference rather than a spiciness difference, so it didn't help. He wasn't in love with his either, but he finished it, LoL. Jim liked his, tho I forget what he ordered. We all enjoyed the fries, and I'd go back just for the them! Plus, I'd like to try their burgers, and apparently their milkshakes (another item that we didn't notice on the menu until we were seated).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dish Dash - Mediterranean Cuisine

It was an off-Friday for the guys (and, in this case, I mean JB and all of his LM friends), so a bunch of us did lunch in downtown Sunnyvale. We went to DishDash, which everyone had been to before except me. It's a Mediterranean place, with an emphasis on Greek.

We started out with the hummus, which was garlicky and good. We did need to ask for more pita, but it was delivered post-haste. Most of us ordered wraps, and I think everyone went lamb but me; I went with the chicken. The shawarma wraps came with cucumber, onions, tomatoes, and parsley with a garlic tzaziki sauce. They were served with delicious fries (I think one person went with the salad instead, which was good). It was a little pricey for lunch (the shawarma wraps start at $10), but I can see why the place was so packed! It was very good, and I only ate half of my wrap there, leaving me with another day's deliciousness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

San Jose Museum of Art

There was a corporate night going on at the San Jose Museum of Art, so a few of us went to see Leo Villareal's exhibit and enjoy the rest of the museum and some snacks.

The food was pretty good for snacks and appetizers - our favorite was the grilled cheese and tomato soup! I was actually too full to even try the churros bar, which was the dessert. The only disappointment in this area was the spiced apple cider - which was awful.

It's not a very large museum, and we were able to make it through the entire thing in like an hour (though we weren't being uber-thorough, LoL). Leo Villareal's exhibit was really fascinating, and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to check it out. He works with LEDs and has come up with some pretty interesting stuff. It's hard to explain, and it's a very fleeting art form, so photos don't really do it justice (tho I imagine video might work to a certain extent).

I realize that this post wasn't actually all that informative, but should you have the chance to check out some Villareal artwork, go for it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

P. F. Chang's

P. F. Chang's is a Chinese restaurant where the dishes are mostly served family-style. It's pretty popular and it's a chain, so you may have been before. Jonathan has been a few times, but I never had, so we went with our friends, Jim & Vivian. We have one here in town, so it was very easy to plan this outing.

I gotta start by saying that I just wasn't thrilled with anything. The flavors were all average and not unique, and the price was high for what you got. I don't really care if I go back, since I don't get the vibe that this was an unusual visit - everyone else seemed to enjoy the place pretty well.

We started with crispy pork wontons. Now, to be fair, I prefer steamed to fried, so maybe I'm not the best judge on this one. We ordered three dishes for the table: double pan-fried noodles with shrimp, the crispy honey chicken, and the mu shu pork. The noodles were okay, they just didn't stand out in any way. The crispy honey chicken was not crispy at all, and kinda bland in the sweetness department. The mu shu pork was kinda neat in presentation, since they make the pancake-packages at your table. But I'm not in love with hoisin sauce so the overall flavor didn't blow me away.

Overall, it's probably one of those places that you should go to once (like Hard Rock), but if it's not for you, I think you'll know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend 2010

We flew to Florida for Thanksgiving, as many of you may have guessed, since there was a large lull in postings, hehe. It was a six-day trip, and it just flew by.

I was pretty excited when we decided to take the Caltrain and BART to the San Francisco airport. We had a 9:30am or so flight, and the traffic into the city would have been rough, plus it would keep any of our friends from getting to work on-time. Jim dropped us off at the Mountain View train station on his way to work, and the tickets were printing as the train arrived. It was an express, so we made it to Millbrae pretty quickly. We got off and double-checked the rest of our plan before getting on the BART. We went up a stop to San Bruno, then transferred to a train that went to the airport (the options for how to get to the airport change depending on the time of day). We would have taken the AirBART from there, but we were flying Virgin and they fly from the International Terminal, so we were able to skip that step. The flight went quickly enough, and it was pretty good overall.

Thanksgiving was a two-day celebration for us this year, but it worked out pretty well. For the first time in about ten years I didn't start Black Friday shopping before daylight. My brother was taking part in the ritual for the first time on his own (he, my sister, and I have all been together a time or two), and since he started at 10pm the night before, he handled the one big-ticket item on my list. So, Jonathan and I took our time and hit up only seven or eight stores, starting at 8:30am. No, we didn't get everything we wanted, but we still did fine. We did pick up our Walgreens items on Thanksgiving night, but otherwise we had all of our Black Friday shopping done in three hours. We grabbed a bite to eat and began the drive to Sopchoppy.

Since we were going to be in Tallahassee for the Florida-Florida State football game on Saturday, we agreed to go camping with Joe that weekend in Sopchoppy, which is a little under an hour from the stadium. Just four of us went, and we had a good time, all things considered. It rained pretty heavily for a while the first night, but we had plenty of firewood. It was pretty cold both nights (low 40s the first night, mid-to-upper 30s the second), but we made do. We used leftover turkey to make fajitas for dinner the first night, and I hadn't realized that you can cook sausage biscuits over a fire, so breakfasts were also rather interesting. We drove out to Wakulla Springs on Saturday morning and saw eight or ten manatees before Jonathan and I took off for Tallahassee, leaving Joe and Rita to take the boat tour. (Which reminds me... apparently they don't do the glass-bottom boat tours there anymore... the water's been too dark for 19 months now!)

The game was AMAZING. This was the fourth time I've been to the annual game against the Gators, and since we haven't won in six years, winning was absolutely AWESOME. Our seats this year were amazing, and we were able to see some great angles on many of the plays. It was a bit intense when the Gators scored on their opening drive, but the fact that they never even got a field goal after that was kinda cool. The fake punt caught me by surprise (it was early in the game for that!), and I also never expected us to win by such a margin! Everyone stayed until the end, and there were fireworks when we won and everything! Plus, while our game was going on, the Maryland-NCState game was also taking place... and our coach specifically requested that score updates not be given for that game (which determined our ACC division outcome). Very few people in our area were able to get a cellular signal, but I had fortunate enough to have a friend text me whenever something happened. This was especially exciting because I felt like the "cool kid" in our section, since I verbally passed on the updated scores whenever I heard something. In the end, not only did we beat the Gators, but the team is also going to the ACC Championship game tonight in Charlotte against Virginia Tech.
an hour before the game, we went to watch the Chiefs head to the stadium
the excitement when we won the game! and the accompanying fireworks below...
Like I said, our trip went by pretty quickly, and before we knew it, we were on our way back to California. Fortunately, we flew "main cabin select" so we had access to unlimited food, drinks, and movies to keep us busy. That, combined with the extra legroom and priority boarding totally made for a nice return, hehe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pho Garden

Another day another pho place. This is a place that opened in downtown Mountain View since we last lived here. We were there specifically for a scouting mission, since they have a challenge that Jonathan and our friend Andy (not Florida-Andy) want to do. It's a giant bowl of pho, which (for our newer readers) is a Vietnamese soup.

So this time, Jonathan and Andy both got the XL (the challenge uses a 3XL) pho and timed themselves on that. They weren't really eating it for the flavor (Jonathan did not spend nearly his usual amount of time seasoning, LoL), but they seemed to like it well enough. I, on the other hand, went for the Spicy Chicken with Garlic Noodles. I thought this would be pho as well, but it turned out to be a broth-free dish. The chicken was plentiful, but the skin was still on it, so it took a bit of work to separate that. The noodles were heavy on the garlic, but that was to be expected. Cucumber and tomato garnished the dish, but didn't really add anything. I added a bunch of lime (having mistakenly ordered "extra lime" since I thought I was being served a pho), which gave the spicy chicken a great flavor, so I'm glad I did.

The guys both decided that they could handle the challenge, and a week later we went back for that! Kathy and Cody joined me in cheering them on, but unfortunately there were a few snags in the plans...

In investigating the challenge, we had found out that you were permitted to remove two of the six or so kinda of meat that was in the gigantic bowl. So, Jonathan and Andy both chose to remove the tendon and the tripe, since those are harder to get down (strange textures and such). However, when the bowls came out, those meats were present. They were promptly sent back. BUT, instead of bringing out completely new bowls of pho, they apparently just tried to remove those meats and added more of others instead. Well, this failed miserably because there was some tendon and a fair bit of tripe that remained in the bowl. PLUS, the time elapsed allowed the noodles to expand quite a bit, which removed the strategy of gobbling down those first. About twenty minutes in, they knew it was a bit of a stretch to attempt to finish off the challenge, so the pace slowed quite a bit. Andy had more optimism than Jonathan about it, and he continued to wolf it down for another ten or fifteen minutes, until he also knew that their efforts were fruitless. They did receive t-shirts for attempting the feat, and I took notes from each of them as to how they'd approach it next time, LoL.

Meanwhile, by the way, I had the chicken pho on that trip... and it was some of the worst pho that I have ever had. I'd never order it again. Pho Hoa is just so much better, LoL. Here are a few photos of the guys eating the gigantic bowls...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shabu House

We were on our way back from dropping off some friends at SFO when we stopped in Burlingame for a late dinner. We had heard that Shabu House was good, and we agree. Shabu is a Japanese cuisine, similar to hotpot. We visited one in Mountain View when we lived in California last time.

We had the spicy miso broth. Jonathan got the lamb and beef combo platter, and I actually went with unagi (eel) on rice. It was the largest helping of eel I've ever been served, and it was delicious! At the end I was getting a little tired of the flavor, but I don't regret getting that giant piece of eel. We both had an assortment of vegetables and tofu to cook as well. The carrots were pretty good, but the bean sprouts, lettuce, spinach, and other items weren't all that great. After we added some garlic to the broth it helped a bunch, and the vinegary soy sauce also helped with the flavor a bit. We were seated about half an hour before closing, but we were definitely rushed a bit as we were there until about 15 minutes after closing. I dunno... I gotta say that this shabu thing is not growing on me, LoL. Still, it was a fun time. And I actually imagine that we will be back, since they offer an all-you-can-eat-and-drink thing that excited some of our friends.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frankie, Johnnie, & Luigi Too

For our first dinner-and-a-movie night in California, we drove over to Mountain View for some Italian food. It was a restaurant we had not been to before, even though it was just outside of the downtown that we frequented last year. Frankie, Johnnie, & Luigi Too had a 25-minute wait, but we were seated after 19 minutes. It was a good thing that I had previewed the menu, since we weren't exactly given a relaxed pace. But that's no big deal, it was after 8 on a Friday night, and we would've been upset if the meal was too leisurely, since we did have a movie to make over in Santa Clara.

Our waters weren't refilled immediately, but they were filled consistently, so no true complaints there. The bread was fresh and hot, with plain butter. We also ordered the sausage bread as an appetizer, since it sounded unique and we were hungry. It was very fresh, with sliced (homemade) sausage and mozzarella baked in. It was served with a good marinara sauce as well, and we even took the final slice home.

Many things on the menu looked good, and I absolutely have to give them credit for unique combinations in their dishes. I went with the linguini pollo alla cuore, which was bite-sized chicken with broccoli, onion, peppers, and tomatoes. It was an oily romano-basil sauce, and as a whole I probably would have placed it near the bottom of the list of Italian dishes I've ever had. But it was unique, and I enjoyed eating one part of it at a time (broccoli, then peppers, etc). I just didn't care for the flavors together (I think the "sauce" killed it for the most part).

Jonathan had the baked ziti, which was also very unusual. It was eggplant, mushrooms, sausage, and ricotta in a tomato cream sauce and smoked provolone baked on top. He liked it a lot there, but reheated he didn't really like the mixed sausage and eggplant in the flavor. So, although both of us had three meals out of the giant plates we were given, only I finished it.

I wanted to like this place quite a bit, since you can get 20% off really easily (Costco deals), but it didn't happen. We may try it again, since it was highly recommended to us by a friend, but we'll have to see.

Oh, and the movie we went to see was Due Date, which wasn't all that great but had some funny moments.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Freedom Burrito

We were at the store and got hungry for dinner so we looked around to see what else was in the plaza and felt like Mexican. There was also a Chinese place, a coffee shop, and a pizza place, so it's a pretty hopping little shopping center.

The menu is huge, but about a third of it is all the same with minor differences (like one with sour cream, one with sauce, etc.). We both had "Super Burritos" tho I had chicken fajitas on mine, and Jonathan had carne asadas. The pork was fabulous, but overall the flavor was about average. I specified "chicken fajitas" as opposed to "chicken" because the former was supposed to come with veggies... mine did not.

The portions were large for the price. The guacamole wasn't anything special, and the chips & salsa was an extra $2.50 (salsa was nothing special, but clearly made on the premises). The actual restaurant is kinda neat (nothing uber-original, but it is colorful). It's not a place we're dying to go back to, but it wasn't all bad.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Epcot Food & Wine Festival II

Then it was on to the World Showcase and the start of the Food & Wine Festival. Timing worked out well, since it was around 6pm by then, and we were hungry. We technically walked the Festival backwards, but we'd actually recommend doing it that way.

Our first stop was Charcuterie & Cheese, which isn't specific to any one country, but specializes in wines & cheeses. We had the Nueske's Charcuterie Plate, which had smoked beef, duck, and ham with bread. It was all good, but the beef in particular had a nice flavor. I also had the sample of Prosecco, a peach sparking wine by Martini & Rossi. It was nothing special.
Canada was next, where we shared the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup (one of our favorites of the night) and tried the Inniskillin Pearl Vidal Icewine. Now, we adore icewine but rarely have it because it's expensive. It was wonderful here, tho a little thick (also not uncommon with icewine). I wanted to stop at Ireland for the Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie, which was absolutely scrumptious. It had carrots and onions in it, and the scallops were plentiful. It was topped with a baked mashed potato, and I'd probably call it my favorite item, tied with the cheese soup. Jonathan liked it, especially because he had a big lump of lobster in his bite!

Morocco was a bit of a let-down, as we went with the Tangerine Mimosa Royale, which wasn't anything special. Tasted like you'd expect, and was a bit pricey for the serving size.


I think Jonathan's favorite was probably Australia. He had a grilled lamb chop with roasted potato salad and red wine reduction. I tried it, but of course I don't really like lamb. I thought the potatoes had a nice flavor, despite the red wine drizzle. I had considered getting the Lamington from that station as well, but it turned out that the chocolate-covered butter cake was also covered in coconut, so I skipped it.


Then it was on to Germany! We were really looking forward to that one, and honestly would've ordered everything on the menu (except the two beers) if we weren't pacing ourselves! They had 4 Rieslings to try, and since Jonathan enjoys Riesling, he was hard-pressed to choose one. He went with the Gunderloch Diva Sp
ätlese, which ended up being rather sweet, and even I enjoyed it. We also had a Nürnberger Sausage in a pretzel roll, which came with a wonderful mustard and was delicious (and probably the largest portion for the price that we had anywhere). Again, I had planned on trying the Apfel Strudel with Werther's Oiriginal Karamell Sauce, but was told it was covered in nuts, so I refrained. Our next stop was South Korea, where we couldn't resist the Barbecue Short Ribs with steamed rice and cucumber kimchi. The ribs had an excellent flavor, and I thoroughly missed the Korean sauces, since it's been so long since I've had that. I was getting pretty full, otherwise I would've dived right into finishing off the rice (which was sticky like sushi rice) and the cucumber (which was plentiful). We actually paused after that to take a restroom break and to ride the Maelstrom, which is Norway's ride (and my favorite in the World Showcase). Again, no line. The ride wasn't as great as I remember, and they've also added a 5-minute film on Norway at the end of it, but we didn't stay. There's also a possibility that the film isn't new, but neither of us remember ever seeing it before.

After some deliberation, Jonathan tried the Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa at the Brazil kiosk, which he enjoyed. Farofa is really ground up spices covering the pork, making it incredibly dry in your mouth, LoL. I thought it was kinda bland, especially since it was supposed to be a "rooty" flavor.

I was really excited about the Desserts & Champagne booth, and had planned to order two out of the three items. At this point, Jonathan was feeling like something chocolate, so he was probably going to order the third item. I was getting concerned about running out of money (we had picked up a Disney gift card earlier to make transactions faster), but it turned out that at that station only you could get all 3 items for just $3.50! That settled that! I dove into the Strawberry Angel Verrine, although Jonathan did try the middle part of that layered dessert, and found it to be very good. I enjoyed the Pear Streusel Pudding cake much more than he did, too. He did eat the bulk of the Dark Chocolate Sensation (kinda like a brownie bite with chocolate mousse on top) tho, which was fine with me.
On our way to find a nice place to watch the fireworks, we stopped at the Puerto Rico location and got a Bacardi Frozen Torched Cherry Colada. It was very creamy, and probably the least coconut-ty colada I've ever had. It was a nice way to finish.

I had never seen IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth before, since I've always left Epcot before closing time the other 4-5 times I'd been there. Jonathan remembered it quite well, and had a nice spot picked out where we could see just about everything (it's fireworks plus an on-the-water display plus various buildings on the water light up as well). I wasn't all that impressed, but I suppose it's good to know what else is out there (I've always been at Magic Kingdom at the end of the day when I've park-hopped, so I see their beautiful display above the castle). I tried to take a bunch of photos, but most didn't turn out so well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Epcot Food & Wine Festival I

You may remember that Jonathan and I volunteered in Trenton back in January as part of Disney's Give a Day Get a Disney Day program. Well, we finally decided to use the day we got! We got a much later start in the day than we wanted to, but ultimately didn't miss much. Our vouchers even got us free parking (we don't think they were supposed to), so I was really excited when we started making our way to the park.

Redeeming our vouchers at the window was pretty straightforward, although it did take a little more time than I was expecting. Disney has also upgraded to using plastic cards instead of paper, so they don't tear and get wet and mangled in pockets and such all day, which was nice. We even got Volunt-Ear buttons to wear, and several Cast Members thanked us for volunteering. We were also stopped by a couple other visitors who chatted about their experiences volunteering as well.


We chose Epcot because of the Food & Wine Festival that takes place in October and November. I had never been before, but Jonathan went a few years ago. As you may already know, about half of the park is a "Word Showcase," featuring rides, pavilions, foods, films, and other things from various countries. During the Food & Wine Festival, additional countries are on display, and each has a kiosk where they sell small portions of authentic cuisine and drinks. This is where the fact that our tickets and parking was free comes into play... we spent about $50 on food and drink. But it was delicious! Everything was wonderful, so we have no regrets. And besides, places like South Korea and Ireland are not at the top of our international travel list, anyway.


We entered the park and checked out the Food & Wine Festival Welcome Center, where we picked up passports to be stamped at each country. This is a new thing this year, and I'm really glad that we did it, since it tells which foods you got and it makes for a nice souvenir. If you had an annual pass and went often, it would also help you remember what you've tried if you were trying to sample something from every country.


After that we headed to the Nemo ride, because I've heard good things from a lot of people, but had never been on it. We walked right on (well, there might have been a 90-second wait, LoL). It's styled like the Haunted Mansion over at Magic Kingdom, in that you're in a cart on a conveyor belt going through various rooms. However, this is mostly CGI, whereas Haunted Mansion is very little CGI. It was cute, but we were clearly in a car that got the tail-end of the audio, so the timing wasn't the best. It's not really worth riding multiple times, but if there's no wait, why not?

We got off and looked at the manatees, which is always fun.
Then we went to The Land (Nemo is in The Seas), where we saw that the line for Soarin' was over an hour, and there were no more fastpasses left for the day, so we skipped that. We tried out Living with the Land, where we walked right on. It's a 15-minute boat tour that takes you around to see the greenhouses and aquaculture areas where Epcot gets a lot of the fish and vegetables that they use in the restaurants in The Land. It was pretty neat, and since it would change depending on what they're growing when, definitely worth a repeat trip.

We headed to Imagination! where we walked right onto another ride, called Journey into Imagination with Figment. Figment is an animated dragon. The ride is kinda trippy, and probably the worst one we went on all day. If you have kids, however, I bet they'd like it. Figment's jokes are for six-year-olds.

We immediately went into Caption EO, which is a 3D film from 1986 that features Michael Jackson as a space captain on a mission, where he gifts music and dance to the enemy. George Lucas was behind it, and there was an interesting making-of documentary that we watched beforehand.
We also wandered through Innoventions a bit, but the only cool things had lines, so we passed. If there was time later, we planned to come back and ride the segways and stuff, but there ended up being no extra time.
Next post will focus on the deliciousness of the Food & Wine. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Tell Me About Sunnyvale"

I think that our upcoming living situation is of greater interest than our past few because we're going to be there longer, and because we actually got to choose our set-up this time. So, it makes sense that people ask us to talk about Sunnyvale, which is the city that we're in the process of moving to. I thought I'd take a post and talk about the city, which we're both really looking forward to living in.

When we describe where we are in California, we always talk about Silicon Valley in terms of San Francisco. However, Sunnyvale is actually a suburb of San Jose, the 10th-largest city in the country. Sunnyvale has a population of 131,000 as of 2000 (but less than half are registered to vote!), so it's not exactly small in that respect. However, it's only 22 square miles (Port St. Lucie is 77 square miles for comparison). It has a Mediterranean climate, and natural disasters are few. Tornadoes are incredibly rare, there's no blizzards or hurricanes, and while there are earthquakes, many are not measurable (tho we did feel one when we lived out there last time). Sadly, there has only been measurable snowfall twice on record, and most recently was in 1976.

the green part is what's considered Bay Area, to give you a state contextthis is a blow-up of that green area, showing the different counties of the Bay Area. Santa Clara County is considered "South Bay Area"This is a blow-up of just Santa Clara County. You can see Sunnyvale in the northwestern area, southeast of Mountain View.

The history of the city is all over the place, and it wasn't actually a city until 1912. Native Americans were first, then the Spanish. Fruit farms and canneries were a big deal for a long time. World War II changed that, and that's when the high-tech stuff began. That's how we got Mexicans... everyone else left the farms to work toward the war effort, and we needed labor. The very first Pong arcade game prototype was in Sunnyvale, in a bar called Andy Capps, which is now Rooster T. Feathers (we've driven by it many times, but have not been inside). Most of the orchards are gone now, but there are still some city-owned ones.

Lockheed is the largest employer in the city, and there's a bunch of other big-name corporations in the top 10 as well, including Yahoo, Northrop Grumman, and Palm. More than a quarter of the population has a degree higher than a Bachelor's, and 67% went to college. Something really cool is their Public Safety system. Sunnyvale is one of the few cities in the United States that cross-trains policemen, firemen, and EMT workers so that everyone can perform all three jobs. Isn't that neat? I mean, I bet it's a heck of a lot more work, but I like the concept. Another unique thing is that the library isn't through Santa Clara county. Instead, the City of Sunnyvale has its own library (Mountain View had this too, but we just never realized it).

Crime is actually rare in Sunnyvale. It consistently ranks on the Top 10 Safest Cities for its size, on the list put out by the FBI. For its population class, it was in the Top 5 from 1966-2004! Burglary and robbery are at one-third of the national risk.

Okay, I think that covers the basics, LoL.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Little Cute House on a Little Cute Street

From the first time we saw it, we've called it, "the corn house." Nope, it's not bright yellow. Nope, it doesn't have popcorn walls. Nope, it doesn't even have giant green leaves that you have to peel back to get to the door.

Across street there's a cornfield. We didn't even know that they grew corn in California.

It was the first house we looked at on that the first day of house-hunting. It was also, coincidentally, the one that Jonathan went back to tour and take photos of. It won out because of its space, mainly. It's not near super-near a train station, not just outside a downtown, and, although it's close to an expressway, it's still a little off-the-beaten-path. It's just under 6 miles to Jonathan's office, so 10-15 minutes by car, and he has already looked at ways he can bike it. Our nearest Caltrain stop is now the Lawrence (just a mile away on foot), which is two stops south of our old one in Mountain View. We can still get to San Francisco in an under an hour and a half, so that's good. It does, however, put us into a different "zone" for ticketing, making it $15.50 each, roundtrip. I was about to complain, and then I remembered that after the price-jack in Jersey, our NYC tickets jumped to twice that amount, so I guess we're good, LoL.

So... yeah. I'm posting this to let you know that we've found a place to live. Jonathan has done the paperwork, the movers are lined up, and the lease starts Friday. It may take up to two weeks for the things to get there (and we believe it could take longer, since we've seen it take longer on previous moves with fewer things), but once we have a date, we'll book my flights so I can be there when it's all delivered. I'm really excited to set things up and peruse the area for other things to fit the house. It's definitely going to be a fun project, since it's very different from the house we live in when we're in Florida. So, I leave you with some photos. I plan on writing about Sunnyvale this week as well, but otherwise there may be a lull in posts as things are in transit (plus, I've been swamped with revisions for the past week, and expect them to take another week).
this is the front of the house. I blotted out the house number for privacy, but of course once we're set-up we're send out the address to friends and family.
This was originally the front door. See, the garage was originally a carport, and this was off the carport. Since that area is now enclosed, this door connects the hallway to the "converted garage," which we are planning to use as a workshop/rec-room/not sure what else. The window on the left goes into the living room.
here we are on the other side of that window. You can see the nice hardwood floors. Back in the corner you can see the dining room, and we have this cute open-shelf thing extending the wall which I'm looking forward to filling.
this is the kitchen. Its not the greatest angle, but you get the general idea. That window over the sink looks into the front yard (if you look at the top photo again, it's the window on the far left.

I don't have photos of the bedrooms, and only a dark one of the bathroom. I personally haven't seen any of the laundry room, so there are going to be a few surprises all around. Anyway, I'll post some more after I get out there and after we're settled a bit, but this does give a general idea for you guys.

Oh, and in case anyone wants to visit, we do have three bedrooms, one of which is going to be a dedicated guest room, so c'mon out!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seth & Harry's Bar & Grill

You know how there's a restaurant in every town that keep changing hands? In Mountain View it was UWink. I can think of 3 places in Port St. Lucie that have had this happen, LoL. In Fort Pierce, that restaurant in the Sabal Palm Plaza has been a bunch of different things, too. In Melbourne, it's On Tap. Then it was called Grill 192. Now it's called Seth & Harry's, but it might have had another name-change in there, I'm not sure.

Joe, Bryan, and I went to Seth & Harry's on a Thursday night for a late (8pm) dinner. I was not really impressed in any way, but the guys both thought it was okay. My biggest gripe would be the service. Our waitress wasn't clear on the menu items (particularly when she told me they had crinkly fries... they were straight), came by rarely, and we ultimately sat around waiting for the check for more than ten minutes.

We had the chicken nachos as an appetizer. It was one of the only menu items without a description, and when I asked what was on them, the waitress didn't know. We ordered them anyway, asking for black olives on the side if they were supposed to come with some. They were okay. They were served with a spicy salsa verde and some sour cream. The chicken was kinda pulled apart, as in not sliced, but not as in pulled chicken. The chips were tri-color, and the cheese was standard nacho.

I had the guacamole bacon burger, no lettuce, with fries. As I already mentioned, the fries were not what had been described. There was also lettuce on the burger... and no bacon. It already was cheeseless, so it ended up being a rather strange combination. I took half home, and it was much better with a layer of mashed potatoes, LoL. The fries were plain, and I didn't really care for them... with no flavoring, they could have at least been crunchy.

Joe had the French dip with coleslaw (though he did not order coleslaw, and was hoping for fries), and didn't have anything remarkable to say about it. Bryan wanted a buffalo chicken sandwich, which wasn't on the menu. There were buffalo chicken sliders, and they were able to create one large sandwich instead. He also had the fries as a side. Contrary to my opinion, Bryan liked the fries. He ended up ditching the bun to focus on his sandwich toward the end, so it must have been pretty good.

I don't really recommend the place, but they weren't all bad.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pennsylvania Highlights & Favorites

I know. We moved away a month ago and I'm still coming up with things to say about PA. But, as our readership grows I thought it might behoove us all if I pointed out some of the greatest parts about our 14 months in Pennsylvania. So, I've created a list of sorts, with links to the original posts if you're interested.

Our First Phillies Game was only about six weeks after we moved to PA.

Spending a weekend in Amish Country for Labor Day Weekend 2009.

Jonathan's parents and uncle joined us for a trip around the area to see the foliage in October.

We went to New York City to see the Halloween Parade.

We went to the Army-Navy football game.

An amazing Christmas light show we went to just down the street from our apartment.

Atlantic City in the winter and in the summer (day and night).

New Year's Eve in Times Square.

I learned how to curl like they do in the Winter Olympics.

We went snowboarding in Pennsylvania.

We won tickets to a Nets basketball game.

We spent a wonderful weekend on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, seeing lots of the sights.

This wasn't in Pennsylvania, but we took a three-day cruise from Port Canaveral to Nassau have a fun going-away party for our friend, Ebad.

We went to the US Send-Off game for the World Cup.

We spent the 4th of July in the very place the Declaration of Independence was signed - Philadelphia.

Although there are a bunch of theme parks in the PA-NJ area, we managed to spend a day at Hershey Park when Jonathan's company got tickets. We also did ChocolateWorld.

We did a short weekend trip to Delaware & Maryland.

And, of course, all of the times we went to NYC for sights and shows.

- - - - -
I find it particularly amusing that, of the 18 posts above, 1/3 are dedicated to various sports (and I do mean various. baseball, football, basketball, soccer, curling, AND snowboarding).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese

While I was out in California for the weekend, we managed to take in four rounds of Asian food (impressive when you consider I arrived at 5pm Thursday and left at 9am Monday). Three of them were new places (the fourth was our beloved Sushi 85), and none were worth going back to, so all the reviews are lumped together.

Thai Spoons was very close to the hotel, so we ate dinner there after I got in. The place was pretty deserted, but pick-up orders became popular toward the end of our meal. There was a credit card minimum so we ordered an appetizer - which ended up being the best part of the meal. The Thai Shrimp Rolls were simple: fried shrimp in rice paper. But the "sweet & sour chili sauce" with which it was served made a great accompaniment. I had pad thai, no peanuts. The fried tofu in it tasted like egg, and the chicken was kinda strange. It also lacked a sweet flavor, and I'm not even sure I ate half of it. Jonathan had curry. He didn't finish it, but didn't take it home, either.

Pho Nam on El Camino (I specify location because it's kinda a common name) was some of the worst pho I've ever had. And that's all they make... they don't specialize in any other Vietnamese dishes. We ordered shrimp summer rolls to go with it, but they had purple cabbage or something inside that made them taste funny, too. I added a whole lime's worth of juice and hardly tasted it. I added five ice cubes and it was still too hot to eat. Most of the pieces of chicken had dark spots on them. It had plenty of cilantro and green onion, but too much mint. Jonathan didn't eat as much of his as he normally would, either. But, honestly, I was rather distracted by how strange mine was to ask him what he didn't like about his.

Dim Sum King is in the plaza behind Pho Nam, and that's how we found it. It's really like a fast-food dim sum place, in that there's a menu, you order and pay, then you take it to-go. There were a few tables, so we stayed to eat there. We got chow mein (average, a little oily), shrimp dumplings, stuffed pork dumplings, pork potstickers, and an egg roll. The shrimp dumplings were a little thick, but good. The stuffed pork were sweeter than I was expecting, and I could only eat one. The pastry part just killed me. The potstickers were average, but the sauce wasn't anything special, and I think that usually makes the difference. The egg roll was gross... I think I ate half before giving up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Halloween Haunt at Great America

We did manage to make time for a night of fun while I was in California. Similar to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, California's Great America has a Halloween Haunt. Basically, the park is open late at night (in this case 7pm-midnight), with some rides open. The focus of the event, however, are haunted houses (called mazes at Great America), scarezones (where they have people stationed to try and creep you out), and shows. The shows tend to be all over the place, and generally change from year to year. In Orlando, everything has a general theme that changes each year. In California, there are a bunch of themes, one for each attraction, really. And it seems that they don't necessarily change too much each year, as Jim and Viv went there two years ago and said that at least two of the mazes were very similar to last time.

We did six of the seven mazes (the final one required doing the log flume ride, and it was only 65 or so out, so we weren't feeling getting wet). We did the best one first, but most of them were pretty well done. Now, I should mention that we went on October 1st, which was opening night for the season. So, not all of the kinks were worked out for spacing and timing and stuff like that, which might have had a big effect. CarnEvil was the best, mostly because it makes for a good maze theme. Toy Factory was another fun one, and it seemed pretty long. Club Blood was kinda boring. Slaughterhouse was kinda gross. Werewolf Canyon could've been better. CornSTALKERS was neat, but the set-up was strange.

We walked through all four of the scarezones. In two of them, the creatures got extremely close to you (much closer than they would in Orlando). The other two were kinda sparse, but Jonathan proposed that perhaps the park re-positioned some of the creatures to the more populated areas of the park. The themes were only slightly apparent.

There are four shows. One is a percussion show, and we tried to see it over and over, but since it moves throughout the park and has no set performance times or places, we were never able to catch it. Another is a hypnosis show, which we skipped. Another is a "freak show" which we skipped since everybody's been to a carnival or flipped through Ripley's Believe it or Not, LoL. We did see the musical show, called FANGS. It's about vampires, and it's REALLY bad. Skip it if you're considering it. It was absolutely ridiculous, ran 6 minutes over (and it's only 30 minutes to begin with), and poorly written. They even used "monologue" where they should have used "soliloquy."

We only did a few rides, and various selections of us skipped out on all but Deck Flight, the inverted roller coaster. Jim was the only one who went on everything, LoL. Jonathan and Jim had the entire Viking Ship to themselves, so they sat at opposite ends, which was pretty cool. Jim & Viv walked right on to the Grizzly, as there was no line at all! They got front row (we skipped it because we don't like the shakiness of wooden coasters), so it was probably an interesting ride at night.

I didn't take many photos, but there were some nice decorations throughout the park (unlike Orlando, the regular season is closed, so they don't have to decorate every night). One particularly crazy installment was a lifelike dummy in an electric chair which goes off every five minutes or so.

Overall, if you get a good deal, it's worth going to. We only paid $25 each because we had a coupon (retail is $40 each). We were able to do everything we wanted to, and we got there late AND left early. Of course, it helped that we had been to Great America before. (to read about that adventure, here's links: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Traveling & House Hunting

So I flew out to California for five days for a house-hunting trip. Jonathan didn't have to work Friday, so I got in Thursday evening and left Monday morning before he went to work. Time-wise, it worked out pretty well. It's difficult to be on a different timezone for a few days, but no biggie.

I flew Continental, which was different. It was (note the past-tense, since they turn to pay-for-food on the 12th) still a full-service airline, so I was treated to a meal/snack each leg of each flight. The first leg on the way there and the second leg on the way back served a turkey sandwich, simple with lettuce on a whole-wheat roll. It also came with a bag of Fritos and a packet of M&Ms. The second leg on the way there was a delicious chicken pocket with three kinds of cheeses, peppers, and taco sauce. It came with chips, baby carrots, and a kit-kat bar. The morning flight on the way back was honey-nut chex, an apple muffin, and a box of raisins. The turkey sandwich was average. The chicken pocket was great (made by Stefano's, but apparently not sold in stores. I looked already), and carrots were a nice addition, but they were getting ready to turn, I think. The cereal was okay. The muffin was too crumbly.

Had a few small hiccups in traveling, but nothing major. I only had about 30 minutes to make my connection on the way there, but luckily it was just a few gates down. When I landed in San Jose, the strangest logistical thing happened: when you exit the airport to get picked up, the traffic goes to the left. In every other airport I've EVER been in, it goes to the right. So weird. On the way back, we land in Houston but there's no gate available, so we taxi around for about 20 extra minutes. Plus, my gate was in a different terminal, so I was hiking it. I was supposed to have over an hour, but between the taxi time and the travel time, I arrived at the gate as they began boarding economy. When we landed in Orlando, they took their time pulling up the jetway, but I wasn't in a super hurry by that point so it didn't really matter.

*-*-*-*-*

Finding places, narrowing down places, looking at places, and making decisions on places is a lot of work. Especially when you're in an area that doesn't have a local website that lists everything out and allows filtering by certain qualifications (Tallahassee had this when my friend Heather and I were shopping for a place when we were in graduate school). And, since we weren't limited to a certain area in a single city (Sunnyvale, Mountain View, San Jose, and Santa Clara were all fair game), the numbers of places were staggering. Plus, add in the notion that we were looking for apartments OR houses for rent.

We made lists. We put pins on a map. We took notes. We drove around. Some places got eliminated just by driving by. We took tours of others. We called others. We made appointments. On and on and on.

Utilities were a factor - there are two different companies that handle electricity in that area, and one is cheaper than the other, but only available in the city of Santa Clara. Some places average your water bills by building, others measure it individually. Some places have shared water heaters and others have their own. Gas versus electric stoves were a factor, too. Air-conditioning was a factor, as it's not standard out there. Location and traffic were factors (we were hoping for something near a train station that would also allow Jonathan to avoid the major freeways to work). I also wanted someplace safe (areas of San Jose, in particular, are prone to break-ins and stolen cars) and clean (the apartment complex we liked the best when we toured ended up being riddled with bugs when we read reviews).

We had to have two bedrooms (or more). We had to have washer/dryer in-unit (although I started to compromise on this a little when things started looking bleak). We had to have a dishwasher (and there was no way I was compromising on that). We were pro-elevator if it was a higher floor, but that wasn't necessary, either (though people seemed to think we should have a definitive stance on this).

One of the main problems with apartments was that they wanted to push amenities we didn't really care about. Like pools (sure, they're nice, but not necessary), patios (um, if there's not enough space for a table and chairs, it's useless. and we certainly don't need two patios of useless size, either), hardwood floors (love 'em, but not a deal-breaker in any way) and fireplaces (yeah, it's nice. but it's California. We didn't turn the heat on at all when we lived there in January-February-March). And whenever you're asked what you're looking for, and we don't have a particular floor preference or care what direction we're facing or prefer a specific area within the building, they get surprised. Look, square footage of living space is our biggest priority. If you show me a bedroom I can't get both a bed and a dresser into, it's not going to work. If you show me a three-bedroom place that's UNDER 1000 square feet, it's not going to help. We'd also like a bathroom large enough where you can bend down to pick something off the floor, or perhaps be able to brush your teeth with the door open.

We narrowed down places more than anything else. And we've come up with decent back-ups, but we're both hoping that something better will work out. And it still may, as we have outstanding requests to see several more houses, which Jonathan will have to manage on his own (he saw one yesterday and was so thorough in his photos and video that I was able to recreate the floorplan and only had a single wall out of place). I'm rather shocked in general over how slow people are at getting back to you... it seems like some of these people aren't actually all that interested in renting, LoL. Or, perhaps they're overwhelmed with responses, but somehow I'm not getting that vibe. Similarly, you have to give a lot of information to take a tour (I guess so they can make sure they're not letting a felon case the joint), and we were expecting a bombardment of emails or phone calls in the days after, trying to make a sale. Not one person has contacted us, which is nice because I don't like pushy salespeople, but it's also bad, since it means they genuinely didn't care if we want to live there or not.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Travel Wishes for California

As we sit here on the precipice of a new stage in our lives, Jonathan and I have been making a lot of lists. Lists of things we want to do. Of websites we want to own/build. Of business ideas we might employ. Of things we want in our future home (not our upcoming home, but further in the future). And, of trips we want to take while we live in California.

For the time we lived in PA, we did a lot of trips along the Eastern Seaboard. This made sense, since flights and fares are less when you live in a certain area. We never accomplished all of the trips we wanted to take, but no biggie. With modern medicine, we have about 60 or 70 more years to do so, LoL. However, we wanted to have a list of trips to take while we lived in California (aka trips in the western part of the country) so we can better space them out and plan them. So, I present you with things that we hope to do in the coming years, and hopefully we'll be able to write about each one.

- Alaska. Specifically by cruiseship.
- Hawaii. Probably by cruiseship as well.
- The Grand Canyon. Complete with a ride to the bottom on horse/donkey/etc.
- The Hoover Dam. Probably during our next Vegas trip.
- Los Angeles/Hollywood.
- Salt Lake City/Park City, Utah. The snowsports out there are supposed to be amazing.
- Yosemite.
- Mount Rushmore. We don't have a heck of a lot of reasons to go to South Dakota, so this one may get streamlined at some point... but for now it sounds exciting.
- Vancouver. I think it sounds like an amazing city, and although last year would have been interesting because of the Olympic aspect, it should prove to be fascinating nonetheless.

anyone have any other suggestions for places to visit out west? We've thoroughly done Seattle. And we've done San Diego. We did the major San Francisco sights when we lived in California last year. We went to Napa. We've been to Tahoe (tho we will surely go again).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Things PA Taught Me

The 14 months we lived in Pennsylvania were amazing. We saw a lot, did a lot, and learned a lot. I kinda wanted to make a list of things that I learned while living there, as a tribute to living in the area.

- Buying clothes without tax all the time is awesome.
- You don't know how to drive until you've driven in the northeast. Jug handles, no left turns, stop signs on on-ramps, merges with no time, ice, snow, cutting people off, the whole nine yards.
- Trains are so handy! We've both taken trains before, and took them multiple times into San Francisco when we lived in California last time. But driving ten minutes to park the car and then take the train into NYC was beyond handy. Same with Washington, DC. Trains really need to come back in style.
- how to shovel a car out of the snow. similarly, how to properly scrape a windshield.
- how to re-book a flight when Mother Nature decides a blizzard will prevail.
- Lesson planning. I had my first *real* teaching job here.
- some new dramaturgy responsibilities. I had my first *real* dramaturgy gig here, too.
- Meetup.com is a great resource. I joined several groups and became regular members of two of them. This also allowed me to learn the wonders of games like San Francisco Cable Car, Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Straw.
- there's probably a lot more, but that's all I can think of right now, and I did want to write this much before I forget, LoL.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Olympic Taverna

It happened to work out so that Jonathan and I could have dinner with my brother and his girlfriend in Jensen Beach. Stacie had told us about a fabulous Greek place, and we were looking forward to trying it. It's called Olympic Taverna, and it's on US1 south of Port St. Lucie Blvd, in front of BJ's Warehouse. It has taken over an old Wendy's.

Between the four of us we chose two appetizers: the saganaki and the hummus. Both were good. The hummus was served with warm pita pieces (tho we needed twice as much as was given). It was very garlicky, but delicious. My brother had apparently never had hummus before, and he liked it. The saganaki was average, but it always is exciting to watch them light the kasseri cheese on fire in front of you. Again, we could have used more pitas, but we made it work (fried cheese is good by itself, LoL).

Everyone but me had a Greek salad to start. Lots of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, and a homemade creamy (pink) dressing. Overall, it was well-liked, but nothing terribly unique. The same sauce came with my sandwich (the Taverna Special), and I'm glad I got it on the side, as I didn't want it. It was a crunchy tilapia sandwich, with swiss and romaine. It should have been on grilled rye, but I asked for grilled wheat, which was good. It was served with some pretty plain fries, but no real complaints. Jonathan and Stacie ordered gyros, while Jon ordered the gyro platter with lemon potatoes. Everybody devoured the food, and everyone but Stacie needed a to-go box. Jon's potatoes were good... if I needed to choose a side, I'd get those. I might even try to sub them instead of fries, too. I'd choose something else next time, but primarily because I had a tough time choosing, not because the tilapia was anything short of delicious.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Genghis Grill

Jonathan and I were in Tallahassee for the BYU football game (which we won! yay!), and had dinner with Heather afterward. She suggested a newer place (it's been in Tallahassee for about six months) called Genghis Grill. We didn't really know much about the place, but it turned out to be very interesting!

It's a Mongolian Grill, which we've been to a few times in the past (notably in Mountain View). Only this one is GIANT. We were seated and ordered drinks, and the next thing you know we were given little silver bowls and told to follow our server. She led us to a buffet line of sorts, and explained the process. First, you go through and put your "proteins" in your bowl. Then, the spices. Then, the vegetables. Finally, the sauces. After that, you take your overflowing bowl to the grill where you tell them what starch you want, and they give you a number. You go sit down, put your number in the holder, and wait for someone to bring out your (now red and angled) bowl of cooked food.

But the complication increases. There were probably 10 or 12 proteins, including marinated fish, scallops, krab, shrimp, beef, sliced beef, chicken, turkey, pepperoni, sausage, and ham. There was also probably a tofu option, but I didn't notice it. There were 8 or 10 spices (very random selection, some with strange names and no descriptions). I remember lemon pepper, crushes red pepper, cajun, dragon, and ginger. Next, the humongous selection of veggies. There was a peppers-and-onions mix, baby corn, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, cilantro, green beans, bean sprouts, green onions, pico de gallo, sliced potatoes, tomatoes, and another 10 or so. This is also where you found raw eggs (in the shell). The ten or so sauces were even more varied than the spices: 3G, dragon, island teriyaki, chili garlic, garlic water, honey soy, mongo bbq, and tomato sauce are the ones I remember. At least they offered little tasting spoons so you could try to figure out what you want (there's no spiciness scale or anything). There were five or six starch options, including white or fried rice, spiral pasta, and udon noodles.

Now, there are two identical lines to help speed the process. But since we had no idea what was further down the line when we began, it was difficult to make decisions. Heather and I handled this by going through the proteins, spices, and veggies... then going back to get more protein before getting the sauces and starch. Jonathan went the more logical route: he looked through the "idea cards" and picked out one he liked. Then all he had to do was go through the line and put in the stuff from the card. He went with a jambalya-type bowl, but got fried rice instead of white. Heather and I kinda just took what looked good... so for me this meant a combination of turkey, chicken, shrimp, and scallops... cilantro, peppers, onions, tomatoes, green onions, and probably some other things I can't remember. I went with the udon noodles.

Overall, the bowls turned out okay. Nobody was in love, but nobody disliked what they got. I seemed to get more noodles than Jonathan or Heather got rice, but it's hard to judge. Jonathan went with the 3G and the dragon sauces, and that turned out to be a pretty good combination. I went with the island teriyaki and the chili garlic, but the taste came through only slightly in the end. I finished my bowl, but both Jonathan and Heather had enough to take home. I'd say it's worth trying if you're already in Tallahassee. It's down on Appalachee Parkway, where Bennigan's used to be (if you're old enough to remember that, hehe). Dinner is $10 or $14 if you want unlimited trips to the grill.

Also, apparently Genghis Grill is a chain. But they weren't in the NE, they're not in California, and the only other one in Florida is in Gainesville. So I'm not sure that you'll come across one, LoL.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lorenzo's

Many of the non-chain restaurants in Fort Pierce that I genuinely liked are no longer there. Some left after the 2004 hurricanes destroyed them. Others closed down at some point due to the economy. There are still some around (like the Tiki), but for the most part, the selection isn't wonderful. However, the other night we struck gold.

Lorenzo's is in downtown Fort Pierce and is an Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. Jonathan's parents had been there before and had mentioned that their sauce is a little different and that the portions are huge. The menu includes pizza, hero sandwiches, and a wide variety of pasta dishes (including a large veal section). We all ordered pastas. Each comes with two garlic rolls, so they brought out a basket of eight, all covered in bits of freshly roasted garlic and a layer of parmesan cheese. They were quite hot, but the first one I had was wonderful. Clearly homemade, the taste was just delicious. The second one, however, wasn't as great. Because it was underneath the top layer of rolls, it was oilier and there was less cheese. I actually had to keep my napkin under my chin as the oil poured out when I took a bite. (This is easily remedied tho - take care not to have more than 2 or 3 people at the table order the pasta, so the rolls aren't stacked. or, ask for separate baskets maybe.)

I ordered the chicken parmigiana, which was hand-breaded and baked. I received two large (there may have even been a third - I didn't separate them as I dug in) slabs of chicken, with a fantastic sauce and fresh cheese over top. My pasta was served on the side, which was different because I am accustomed to having it served underneath the chicken. The small bowl of linguine with sauce and cheese was good, too. I easily brought more than half of the dish home, and I almost couldn't wait to reheat it and have more!
Everybody else enjoyed their dishes as well - the spaghetti and meatballs (great meatballs), the peppers & onions pasta (in a brownish sauce, very good), and the baked penne (the perfect amount of cheese). I couldn't stop talking about how much I enjoyed the food there! It is a little pricey for Italian in that area (entrees started at $10 as opposed to $7 or $8 at other places), and there's a credit card minimum of $8 (good to remember if you just want to stop by for a slice of pizza), but still an excellent choice.
the penne (you can see part of my side of pasta in the lower left corner as well)

the spaghetti & meatballs

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Apartment: PA Edition

Yeah, I know. I didn't post about our California apartment until we moved, and I'm doing the same thing this time. I promise I'll do better next time, LoL. In our PA complex there are quite a few buildings and about five different floorplans. We had a 1/1 second floor walk-up. It's quite a change from being on the third floor (as we were in California), and I frequently wanted to go up another flight in the beginning, hehe. The no-elevator option isn't the best when we get lots of groceries, tho.

It was also a big change from the 2/2, as the desk ended up in the living room, and the beanbag ended up in the dining room corner, then next to the bed (where it became unusable). We had our own washer and dryer (they're the small, stacked kind), plus a pantry, so there was a lot more "practical" storage space than in our CA apartment. We also had quite a few more kitchen cabinets and newer appliances (stove, microwave, fridge). The oven even knew how long it takes to preheat to different temperatures, and counts down for you after you set the desired temperature!
When you enter the apartment, you're in the living room. To your left is the television, to the left of that is the desk and then the window. To your right is the hall closet. As you walk straight ahead, you pass the couch and an end table, and you can take a right into the kitchen. If you go back and sit on the couch, you're facing the fireplace. To the right of the fireplace is another window, and there's an end table in front of that. Next to the end table (and facing the tv) is the loveseat. In front of the loveseat is the coffee table, and behind it is the dining area. Along the same wall as the fireplace you'll find the balcony, accessible from the dining room (and a window looks out on it from the bedroom). On the far end of the balcony we have a storage closet, which is nice because we can keep the cooler, bike, and tent there (and the ugly fake plant that came with the apartment!). From the dining room, there's a door to the bathroom (toward the kitchen side) and a door to the bedroom (opposite the front door). The bedroom and bathroom also connect with their own door. In the bedroom we have a good-sized walk-in closet. (please note that we did not pick out a green living couches! it just came that way).

The photos make it look bare since this was after the movers came to take things away... the only things pictured are items that came with the apartment, things we hadn't thrown away with, and things that we were taking in the car.

The leasing center was not as large as the CA one, but they did have free Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate whenever they're open. There was still a large pool, but no hot tub this time. The fitness center is pretty basic (two ellipticals, two treadmills, a bike, and a few Bowflex-type weight machines), hence how we joined LA Fitness.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Garden of Reflection: 9-11 Memorial

Before we had an exact move date, we were planning to attend a big 9-11 Memorial event in Yardley. Since we ended up moving that day, we made time on the 10th to make it there.

It's really a wonderful garden. Very well-done, some excellent thought in layout, and impressive in the daytime (tho the lighting set-up lends itself to be beautiful at night as well). Not a ton to say about it, as I think the images will speak stronger (some captions included).

parts of beams from the Towers
this is only a small portion of the glass, etched with each victim's name (alphabetically)
the fountain, from the back

Friday, September 10, 2010

Joe's Crab Shack

As we've been nearing the end of our time in Pennsylvania, we've been trying to get together with a lot of friends "one last time." To see Kasey & Michele (who we last saw in March when we had Mexican in Lambertville), we met up at Joe's Crab Shack, which is out near Princeton.

We started with the calamari, which had its good and bad points. The tentacles were a little stringy, but the breading was excellent. Overall it had good flavor, but the dipping sauce was nothing to brag about. I had the Pasta-laya, which was TONS of shrimp, some sausage, peppers, and onions on penne. The penne was a tad undercooked, and the sauce was really greasy, but the flavor was wonderful and I thought that the accompanying bread was good. Kasey, not being a big seafood person, went with a burger and fries, which he finished before anyone else was even half-way, so I guess it was delicious, LoL.Michele and Jonathan both ordered the exact same thing: Big Daddy Feast: pick your flavor and get a bucket full of stuff flavored with it. It had Dungeness crab, king crab, snow crab, an ear of corn, a couple of red potatoes, and it came with a cup of liquid butter. They also had a side of Old Bay brought out, since that was the flavor that they had both chosen and felt it could have used a little more. They both thought it was good. Personally, the amount of time and effort involved would drive me crazy, but since crab is one food I don't care for, I may be biased, LoL.