Showing posts from June, 2009

Silly Things You Shouldn't Do, But Do Anyway

Tonight, we had one of the summertime activities for cub scouts. This time, the pack rented out a skating rink and we paid ten bucks a family to do laps on the wood.

Chef was excited, he's been to this rink twice before, and he's slowly getting the hang of it-but he falls more than he glides on those wheels. Game Teen does not have the coordination. Ed said no way, no how.

Me? What did I do? I laced up a pair of skates.

Shall we go into the reasons why I shouldn't:
multiple wrist surgeries
a couple of leg surgeries
benign positional vertigo

Yeah, I know, those are all big reasons not to do it. But I did it anyway. Six laps around the rink before everyone got out there. (A half lap skating backwards, too)

I didn't fall, but the one leg was NOT happy with me. Thus, once more people got out onto the rink, I packed it in. No trips to the ER and no need for Ed to laugh his head off at me.

Thankfully, he didn't realize he had the camera or the Flip, so you w…

Next Food Network Star Week Four

Week 4-The heat is turning up on the finalists. Who will crack completely, who stumbles, and who hits their stride? Well, if you didn't watch this week's episode, here's what happened.

The lucky seven file into the Food Network kitchens to find Bobby, Susie and Bob. If they're in the kitchen, there has to be a challenge, and this week's is to create a burger for Bobby's new restaurant in Connecticut, Bobby's Burger Palace. Each contestant has twenty minutes to make a burger that capture a region of the United States.

Some contestants dive on this with great ideas. Others seemed like same old, same old.

Michael-Mulberry Street Burger-Burger stuffed with Mozzarella, grilled with pancetta on both sides and topped with basil and tomato and served on garlic bread
Melissa-Burlington Burger-Heavy on the Vermont cheddar cheese, and some turkey chili on top. (YUM again)
Jeffrey-California Burger-Hot and Sweet again with roasted chiles and fruit
Katie-San Fran Mark…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Right now, I am very thankful for parents who indulged and fostered my love of music. If not for that exposure to so many different kinds of music, I think this Issues in Music class would be far more challenging.

Instead, odds are great that the composer and/or the work we're asked to listen to three times in a chapter's review? I've got it in the music library or have listened to it many times over. Right now, I'm preparing to take the test on the chapters covering Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and Beethoven's music.

I've been fortunate to see a live performance of the former and I thought for sure I had a complete recording of the latter's 5th symphony. Nope, 2 copies of the Pastoral and one of the Ninth. Only the first movement of the 5th.

The music library isn't largely populated by classical music, but there's a decent amount. More heavily covered are those contemporary artists who pay homage to the heavy hitters in my collection: Bach,…

THIS is Why Leo LaPorte is Worth Watching!


When the Phone Rings at 8:45 am

My phone rang very early (for us, anyway) this morning. I didn't get to it in time, then Ed's phone rang. His was in yet another room, then mine rang again. At least I knew by the ring tones, it wasn't family.

However, Game Teen (aka Monster Child today) was off camping with Boy Scouts. They were camping at the state park where he successfully hiked ten miles two weeks ago. Today, he refused to leave the tent when it was time to step off on another ten mile hike. He wasn't budging, and apparently, the leaders who are very skillful in motivating him couldn't get through to him.

So, by 9:15, I was on the road with Chef to pick him up. After getting to bed around 4am. Ugh.

We are very clear on some rules in our house. If you disrupt an activity or have to leave it, you are punished for the remainder of the days the activity lasts. Soooo, if Game Teen thought he was coming home to watch TV and play his video games, well, that wasn't happening.

He's comp…

The Bunnies Do Harry Potter!

I love the Bunnies. Today's email contained this message:

Harry Potter Years 1 through 5 hits 30 Second Bunny Theatre. (Note: If you watch it with small kids, as soon as the Terminator screen comes up, PAUSE IT!)

Check out the out takes!

Confession Time

I may be the only person on the planet who is not upset about The Gloved One's passing. Yep, I admit it-I was never enamored of Michael Jackson.

When you realize that I was a high schooler at the peak of his explosive solo career, finding those who, like me, aren't listing their favorite five MJ songs on Facebook is going to be difficult. Sure, I watched the videos, but it was more out of the mindset of 'well, that's what MTV is playing' than thinking it was cool that the long version of Thriller was on this time.

When Giggles and I had the chance to do one of those Record a Song things at Opryland years ago, the song chosen was not "Beat It", but the Weird Al parody "Eat It." (Besides, Giggle's ad libs were much more suited to Al's song.) It probably speaks to where he ranked in our musical tastes.

Artists are eccentric, so I can't begrudge him that. However, in his case, the weirdness overshadowed the music. The fascina…

One Class Down, One To Go

These web based classes are great, but taking them during the kid's summer break means I can't crack the books until they're in bed. There is all sorts of chaos going on in the house when they're up.

I know what you're thinking, that I should just send them outside to play. If we lived just about anywhere but here, that would probably happen. However, the Florida experience is the opposite of most of the country: when you're freezing and hiding inside, we're enjoying the cool weather by barbequeing, camping and hanging out on the lanai for dinner most nights. Then, by the time you are starting to emerge from your houses and enjoying the glorious weather, the blast furnaces are turned to FULL here-and WE hide inside!

Thus, my studying tends to happen after 10 most nights. At least for another eight weeks. I think it's working.

Today, a classmate sent out an email, asking if anyone was going to dispute their grade. It sounds like a lot of them will-…

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Recently, I mentioned on Facebook that I was making Stir Fry for dinner and boom, there were a bunch of comments. A friend mentioned that she liked to use Trader Joe's Sweet Chili sauce to stir fry.

Inspiration struck-how about I make a marinade with sweet chili sauce? All week, that was in my head. Question was, what would I use it on. I decided this afternoon, grabbing a package of chicken legs because the kids love them. The usual package means there are two each for me and the kids and three for Ed to enjoy (he's working, so I figured he'd come home to them.)

The marinade I'd envisioned ended up being Sweet Chili sauce, pineapple juice, lemon juice, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. The taste test said it was sweet with a tiny szechuan pepper afterburn on the tongue. Nice.

Only problem is that Chef Junior liked the flavor so much, he ate four!

I suspect that when Ed eats his lone chicken leg later, I'll be asked to make some more ASAP.

Winner winner, chicke…

The Quest For Knowledge

The college experience has been enjoyable so far. Granted, I've got an easy time of it with only two web based classes. Now that Art History is done, I get to focus all my attention on Issues in Music and prove how much of a musical geek I really am.

How is that?

Well, I've viewed/listened to six of the programs that comprise the lecture portion of the course. The "Issues in Music" programs were recorded in the mid 90's by the gentleman who created the course. Each week, there's two or three musical performances to compare and contrast classical composers with contemporary and current. Some focus on musical styles.

Without fail, each one has sent me trolling the Internet, in search of a work or composer that the performance reminded me of. For instance, one of the performances featured jazz artist Nat Adderly, composer of "The Work Song" (I'd been familiar with the Herb Alpert cover). While not part of the instructions for the week, I just…

Next Food Network Star-Week Three

This week's episode was interesting, in that you see how the finalists handle shopping on a budget, provide information on the fly and work when paired with a teammate. It was a pressure cooker and some handled it well, but others showed their true colors.

The episode started off with the eight getting in a van,then being dropped off at a supermarket. Once inside, they found Tyler Florence, who issued a two fold challenge: shop for ingredients to make an appetizer, entree and dessert for twelve people for SIXTY bucks, as well as come to the camera station and provide a thirty second budget tip for the viewers.

Cook a meal for twelve under sixty bucks? Been there, done that many a time, but that's a hard thing for a restaurant chef to do when a high food cost equals raising menu prices. It was good to see Debbie struggle with this, in that she would only hurt herself this time, not a few teammates. Others were familiar with shopping on their own or a client's budgets, l…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

On Mother's Day, I talked of the music that reminded me of Mom. Today, it's Dad's turn.

My dad was the designated chauffeur for Giggles and I, driving us all over Long Island for our varied activities, mall shopping, to see movies at the best screen (in his opinion) and out for many enjoyable meals. Then you add vacations and weekend escapes and we were in that car a lot.

This meant one thing: we were going to hear a LOT of music.

Yes, we would check the news, but primarily, that radio was tuned to one of the dozens of music offerings that we had in listening distance of Manhattan. As a result, we were exposed to a large variety of genres: Jazz, Big Band, Show Tunes, Rock, Golden Oldies. Thankfully, it was rare that Dad wanted to listen to the elevator music stations.

There are songs that remind me of trips taken:
Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" and Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" remind me of a trip to Connecticut and upstate NY that w…

Tampa Fire Museum

Today, we drove over to Tampa to join the scouts in a tour of the Tampa Fire Museum.

It is housed in what used to be Station #1 of the fire department and was pretty cool to see.

This was the switchboard that took all the calls from the fire call boxes until 1981, when things were switched to phone lines.

The fire department purchased this truck new for $13,000. It's still fully functional and sometimes is seen in parades. (I may have a picture of it at the Gasparilla Children's parade a few years ago)

Quote in the Memorial room. The memorials had news clippings, pictures and fire department records of the events surrounding these men losing their lives in the line of duty. It was a nice tribute, rather than just seeing names on a plaque, the kids could see who these men were.

Game Teen proves that you're never too old to want a fire had.

I'm glad we went.


I took my final last night. I scored a 96.

One question was wrong because I goofed entirely. Trust me, I will never forget that "The Toreador" was influenced by the Egyptians visiting the Minoan society.

The other question was about this work:

For the second time, I was felled by an awkwardly posed question. I suspect that the majority of my classmates got the question wrong as well. (I will post it after the testing period closes, just in case). If a number of students get a question on my exam wrong, as an instructor, I would revisit the materials and information provided to the students.

In the final exam web cast, we were told that the significance of this work is Keith Haring's use of line. That was not what was asked and the choices given weren't clear. Well, one most definitely WASN'T right and the other two were WTF options.

So, I end with a weighted average of 92.6. That gives me an A minus. You're wondering what would have given me an A? A 9…

What's For Dinner Wednesday Thursday

Last night, I had plans of an Asian style stir fry. However, studying kept me from getting my chicken into the marinade until a few hours before dinner time, and I preferred that the meat have a good long soak.

Instead, last night we had the chicken in marinade that I've featured before. Tonight was deliciousness delayed. Ginger infused rice and Asian Chicken Braise:

If you are curious, google Junior League's Asian Pork Tenderloin recipe. You can use that marinade for pork, chicken, beef or shrimp. I braised the chicken with onions and multicolored peppers, made a cornstarch slurry and got a nice sauce out of that pan, too.

Some things are worth the wait.

In 24 Hours...

I will have completed my first college class in fifteen years.

I'm busy procrastinating studying for my Art History final. One, maybe two more listens to the final review that basically tells us what the exact questions are for two parts of the exam, then I'll review the part one web cast and reread five chapters.

This professor has been interesting. Listening to the lectures made me realize I'm a linguistics snob. I won't miss that part of the course. For a class that I probably wouldn't have taken if it wasn't for the degree requirements, I was pleasantly surprised at how much foundation in the subject matter I had. It probably was a good way to get back into school, with a professor that was unyielding in the deadlines.

That proved to be a problem during the week from hell, when Ed was in the hospital, I was sick and my laptop died. I was denied an extension of a deadline and missed one assignment that counted for 6% of the grade.

Since then, I've ac…

Next Food Network Star-Week Two

As each week progresses of The Next Food Network Star, we get to see more of the personalities of the finalists. Sometimes, the initial impression was off base, but more often than not, that first vibe is accurate.

The show opened with the nine finalists filing into the Food Network Kitchens to find covered platters on the counter and a guest from Esquire magazine, Ryan D'Agastino. The contestants lift the cover of the platter in front of them and two ingredients that must be incorporated into a dish. Some of them just sounded wonderful together and made sense, others made you scratch your head. Examples:

Beef and Peanut Butter (Debbie, the Korean inspired cook got these.)
Pistachios and Pork Tenderloin (Jeffrey)
Chicken and Maraschino Cherries (Melissa)
Bran Cereal and Lamb chops (Katie)
Coffee Beans and Steak (Eddie)
Ground Beef and Dill Pickles (Brett)
Porterhouse Steak and Maple Syrup

As a viewer, I had to wonder if these happened to be random, based on who was standing behind a di…

I Love Facebook, But...

sometimes it dredges up things from your past that were probably better buried.

There is a lot that is enjoyable and good about Facebook, and I've got an entry soon about that, but today, I just want to tell you a story that I'd done my best to forget. When these types of things happen, I need a day or two to process the thoughts, what they do to me and how to write about it. If you haven't figured it out by now, this is my therapy. Whatever is bothering me will sooner or later end up written down.

This is a long one, so if you want to grab a cup of coffee to mull over it or skip entirely, go right ahead. I think it speaks a lot about the person I've become.

When I was 6 years old, my parents bought a house on the South Shore of LI. The town was chosen because, at that time, the schools were in the top 5 in the state. They pushed to get there when Giggles and I were young.

On the first day of school (really second day-they kept me home the first day), I walk into Mr…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

So, a few days in, I am really digging Pandora. So far, I think she's lobbed three or four WTF? songs. The majority have been artists I know, artists I love and already have on my iPod but didn't put into the "add variety" tab and those who I only knew the hits.

Last night, Pandora started a song and I instantly noticed the style of arrangement, the latin inspired jazz groove, the lyrical piano. The vocals began and I was proven right.


I promptly clicked over to the Pandora tab from the Blackboard I was on to see where this track was from, thinking it was one of the Matt Bianco songs I was unfamiliar with. (Basia and her collaborator, Danny White, are 2/3 of the group Matt Bianco. No, the third guy is not named Matt Bianco.) I know some, but not all of the group's catalog.

No, it was a solo track "If Not Now, Then When" and it was off a NEW ALBUM! It's That Girl Again came out in March of this year and you have no idea how stoked I am.…

Hiker Extraordinaire!

Two weeks ago, Game Teen went camping with scouts and went on the Damn Hike, completing about 5.5 miles. That was pretty impressive, becasue this is the kid who hates any physical exertion, except for archery.

Today, the troop went on another hike. Ten miles. In the heat (mid 90's today).It didn't start off well-he snuck his DS out of the car and pitched a loud fit when I told him it was time to give it to me. He said he didn't want to go hiking and got mad when I said if he didn't go, he would have no games this week. (We call his bluff like this all the time)

I decided to leave the church before they rolled out, because we know if you remove the source of his obsession, he'll calm down. It worked.

It was at this time that I realized that my phone was at home and I was 40 miles away. I'd been told the troop would be back at 3pm, but I knew it was a moving target. Chef and I got breakfast and headed to the library. Yay, internet, I got in touch with one o…

Hurry Up!

If you hurry, you'll get the user name link you want at Facebook!

Bloggers may want to take their blog name. That's why I grabbed Suzanne Calling. Sorry to anyone who might actually possess that name-it's mine now! :D

What are you still doing here? Go grab the name of your choice!

Opening Pandora's Box

I opened Pandora's box last night. You know about Pandora, right? If you don't, maybe you should.

It's internet radio that utilizes the Music Genome project. Basically, you tell Pandora what you like, and Pandora uses algorhythms to find other things you may like. You rate it as like or don't like and Pandora further refines the play list to you.

For instance, if you say you like Billy Joel, Pandora might suggest Elton John, because both are singer/songwriters. Say, you don't like Elton, just click the thumbs down. Two thumbs down for an artist and they are forever removed from your play list.

The channel can be shared and you can have different channels for different moods. Ed's been playing with Pandora for a while with Progressive Rock artists. Pandora still throws crap out of the box at him, so I was curious what happens when a person puts some diverse artists together.

October Project
Jim Croce
Billy Joel
Joe Jackson

Mommy, Make Me Happy

"Mommy, make me happy."

This is what Chef Jr said to me a few minutes ago. He said it in a silly, sing song voice, so I asked why he wanted to be hOppy, because beers are hoppy.

"Mommy, make me HAPpy."

I had a kid in my arms by this time, so I gave him a squeeze and some smooches, figuring that would do the trick.

"No, Mommy, make me HAPPY!"

I finally asked what exactly would make him happy.

"Mommy, make me FOOOOOOOOOOOD."

After months of getting meals like this for dinner
(Last night's dinner, swedish meatballs. From scratch. Nearly gone, so don't ask for some!)
I'd say the menfolk are just a little spoiled. Especially since the kid had two years of cooking school and is capable of feeding himself.

Ah, so 'Make me happy" translates into 'make me food'. Gotcha. I ask what food will make him happy and the response was pretty vague.

I've got an idea, and I tell him.

"Mom is going to go into the pantry, pick three …

This is Why Geeks are Awesome!

Musing the Selling Options

Thanks to the fun of last month, this month is going to be interesting. Ed went back to work Saturday after three weeks out of work. I had some hiccups in reviving my Unemployment claim. This means there is NO money coming in until June 23rd.

The problem is there is rent to pay, along with water, electric, cable/internet and car insurance-not to mention Game Teen's medications. I have to admit, we don't have much to deal with, but when you have no money, these things are overwhelming. The bright side is that when we both have decent jobs again (even one of us at this point), we will be in great shape. We have been making do on about two grand a month. A decent job means we'll be able to get rid of the credit card billss and change the cell phone arrangement currently in place.

I've got stuff that we're not using and want to get rid of, but how to do it? Ebay has been a so so channel for selling. We had two yard sales last year, one at our house, one at the …

Moving on Up

Game Teen had his Boy Scout board of review tonight. Except for the swimming requirement, he had fulfilled the requirements of not one, but two ranks nearly a year ago. He was held up by the request for medical accommodation.

Now that we're in the new troop, getting his Board of Review done was a priority. Last week, he sat down with a leader and reviewed what he had done and what his goals are. Tonight, he actually went before the panel.

The verdict? He earned his Second Class and First Class scout ranks. Came through with flying colors, even. I was later told "He is SO adorable", which was sweet. You wanna take him for a weekend, ladies? :D

To earn the next rank, Star Scout, he has to spend six months in this rank and assume a role within the troop. He also has to work on some of those Eagle required badges. I think I know what's on tap for our summer!

Congratulations, Game Teen!

Next Food Network Star is Back

Those of you who have read the blog for a long time know of my attempts to be a finalist for The Next Food Network Star. Obviously, I didn't make it, but there's always next year, right?

Instead, I'll be among the ranks of those who watch and wonder if the people who were selected can handle the pressure, have the chops to pull off a show and if that lucky person is one of the people that initially appealed to us.

This year, it's time for some recaps. There is very little television that I follow avidly, so when there is something that tweaks me, perhaps it should be fodder for discussion. (It's a safe bet that Donna and Joyce will be sharing their opinions with me tomorrow!)

The premise of the show is that they select ten finalists from the hundreds of video applications sent to Food Network last fall. My opinions are purely my own, but after the first episode:

Brett August-New Yorker, and boy it shines through. Not so sure about his comment last night about &q…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

A search that brought someone to the blog this week gave me an easy topic. Well, that and the fact that I got friended on Facebook by someone I've known since FIRST GRADE, who told me I will forever be Suzie. (sorry, not many people get away with calling me that-Julie does, by virtue of using it for twelve years of school.) I'd mentioned name songs a while back and that when I worked at the radio stations, I was going to do a drop in with my name from various songs.

Back then, that meant a long time with a V block, reel to reel tape and a razor. Nowadays, it's a simple matter with my iTunes library and a few minutes of editing in a simple editing program.

So, in the event that someone else is looking for name songs, here's the list of songs that would have made a little montage. (Note, Sue, Suzie and Suzanne must be first names in order to make my list-I am not a middle name!)

I Love You, Suzanne-Lou Reed
Suzie Q-Creedence Clearwater Revival
Runaround Sue-Dion and the…

Virus Alert!!!

In the past week, I've had two attempts at infecting my machine with viruses, and a friend's machine got infected with a trojan keylogger.

Please, please, PLEASE-do NOT open any attachments if you are unsure of what they are.

The ones I received:

On Facebook: You got so buusted by our tiiny spy camera..

Via email: Robin sent you some photos via Tagged.

Let's be careful out there, folks. If it's coming to you and you're not expecting it or are unfamiliar with the link, treat it as you would an unsolicited email from your bank/ebay/amazon/paypal and avoid it until you can verify with the person sending it.

More than likely, they're sending an email around to tell you NOT to open that email! Such is the case with both items sent my way. The Facebook one, I actually opened the email, but not the 'click this link to see', because it didn't seem kosher.

Just spreading the word in case you haven't had this happen to you...

Another Turn at The Drive In

I am honestly getting addicted to enjoying a movie at the drive in. Tonight's feature was Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian with my usual movie companion, Chef Jr.

This time, we were viewing the other screen. My radio actually tuned in the proper channel-until I parked. Then I switched to a row with speakers and we sprayed ourselves generously with the bug spray (they still got my scalp-dirty hair doesn't keep bugs away, just a friendly PSA).

If you've seen the first, this one will make sense, but there aren't as many scenes with some of the original characters for my liking. Hank Azaria was hilarious, channeling Boris Karloff.

It was nicely paced, very funny and enjoyable. The funniest thing, though, didn't take place in the movie.

We're watching a tense moment early in the movie and Chef is caught up in the tension.
Chef: "Mom, can I have permission to say a bad word?"
Me: (think it'd be damn or something like that) "Sure, ki…

More Humor From Chef Jr

You've seen the Geico commercials featuring Cash, right? "This is the money you could be saving if you switched to Geico." Not as good as the Gecko, lame after the cavemen, but it sticks in your head.

When we went to Game Teen's doctor the other day, This is what Chef came to me with:

"This is the potato you could be saving if you switched to Geico," he said, gravely.

"Watch it, spud, or you'll be hash browns."

He succeeded in cracking us up. I don't know if we'll look at Mr. Potato Head the same again.

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Yes, things are finally settling down here in the Suzanne house. I actually remembered to take pictures of tonight's dinner!

This has been featured before, but it's summer and time to think of the goodies we enjoy on the grill. London broil with packet potatoes, broccoli and mozzarella garlic bread. Yum.

So, what meal earns the "most popular" award when summer rolls around in your house?

Odds and Ends

We've spent the day running around.

Today was Game Teen's last appointment with Dr. N, his psychiatrist. As a patient at a teaching facility, you are assigned to a fellow who has a two year tour at USF. Alas, her time has come to an end.

We adored his Dr. D, his first psychiatrist here, but Dr. N was even better. It's sad to see her go. However, it's good that she handpicked his new doctor. Apparently, his new doctor is completing a two year fellowship in Adult psychiatry, and now begins two years in Child psychiatry.

Then tonight, we had scouts. It was my first night in uniform, as I am a committee member with the new troop. Yes, I decided to dip my toe back into leadership and had planned to do so when both boys were in the same troop. That said, the smaller group needs people now, so here I am.

When you start a new group, there are a lot of roles to fill. Probably one of the most important things is having merit badge counselors to guide the boys as they…

Scout Roundup

We wrapped up one scouting year tonight.

Cub Scouts, unlike the boy scouts, end their official year with summer break. So tonight, the Cub O Matic was called into service. Chef earned his third year scouting service pin, a few more belt loops, pins, and a new slide for his neckerchief.

On the other hand, the boy scouts meet year round. I'm glad they do, because Game Teen thrives on routine.

His first camping trip with the new troop was a resounding success. The leaders involved know that he responds better if they make demands rather than requests. He did very well, even participating in a substantial portion of the ten mile hike. (I honestly had my doubts)

Game Teen has a very dry sense of humor. It's rarely on display, but he decided to share with those camping this weekend. When the Scoutmaster told the boys they'd be hiking to the dam on the reservation, Game Teen piped up with "We're going on a Dam hike?"

This explains the picture I got via email …