Monday, January 31, 2011

The Neon Tour of Polk County, Premier Visit

From the moment I saw the signs, I knew that I'd make the jump to DSLR. Glorious neon, lovingly maintained. That the sign belonged to a business that is very rare to find in the 21st century just made it even more appealing.

When we moved over here, we noticed many local businesses with signs created with tubes of the inert gas. It was obvious that these are at least 40 years old by the quantity of bends in them. Last I'd checked, back around 1990, neon was going for $500 a bend.

So, I left class tonight and made way over to US Highway 92. These are the first of many that I know I'll be taking of these signs.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Supper

Chef is an avowed soup fiend. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, because there are not many soups I don't enjoy. So, the child is especially happy when I make some at home.

I had a couple of pounds of boneless chicken breasts that had to be used today (as in I'd had it in the fridge for a few days), and today's plans upon arriving home were studying, studying and more studying. I would have been happy to make something labor intensive, but I really didn't want to put an hour into making dinner.

Usually, I cheat when I make homemade chicken noodle soup in that I buy a rotisserie chicken, pull all the meat off the carcass, then boil that until it falls apart. I skim the bones out, then add veggies, chicken and egg noodles into it. The typical batch of homemade also includes copious amounts of basil because chicken and basil go together so very nicely.

I wasn't sure how much depth of flavor my soup would have without the bones, that thoughts turned to what I could do to add flavor. Curry? Chicken curry is great, and we all like curry. I thought the flavor would marry well with the sweetness of basil, but would they work well?

The answer is a resounding yes. I shouldn't have worried about the stock creation, sauteeing chicken chunks in olive oil and spices worked just fine.

Another thing to note is that Ed does not like chicken noodle soup. Never has. However, the last two batches of homemade have converted him to this dinner that Chef and I enjoy so much.

The best part is that there is enough left for us to enjoy bowls of basil curried goodness all week long.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Castillo de San Marco

Last August, we spent the day in St. Augustine with Donna when we were returning from our trip to NY. That day, we walked St. George Street and visited the Castillo de San Marco. Unfortunately, the skies were threatening and lightning had been viewed in the distance, so we couldn't visit the top of the fort.

Today, the weather was gorgeous and we spent the majority of our stay topside enjoying the view.

Our arrival time was perfect for seeing re enactors set off two 6" cannons. While this docent spoke in English, the reenactment itself was in Castillan. That was pretty cool.

Watching them push the cannons to the wall looked similar to curling

Cannon powdered, loaded and fused. Waiting for inspection.

Cover your ears!

It was great spending the day with Donna and seeing a piece of history relived.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Love When I Get a Bonus Out of Plans

Tomorrow, the kids and I are heading up to St. Augustine to spend the day with Donna. It'll be good to see my BFF and spend some time walking around the historic city. She reminded me that the last time we did this, I lamented the lack of a 'real' camera.

It'll be good to spend the day shutterbugging with my two favorite kids and my best girlfriend.

The bonus?

I was double checking to ensure we weren't going to meet insane crowds because of some event going on, and found that their Christmas light display in the historic district is continuing through the 31st. If we do dinner down there, we'll leave the restaurant to the display of many tiny lights.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Realtors Might Not Get Buyers

Or, "Why lousy typography is hurting real estate sales" (Or really, 'I love when something that nagged me for months dovetails nicely with my lecture topic.')

Every day, on the way to GameTeen's school, I pass this absolutely gorgeous house that has had a for sale sign in front of it since day one of school, so at least August 17th. It has great curb appeal and it drew my attention because it is a colonial that's situated on the lot in the same exact way a certain house on Ocean Avenue in Amityville, NY sits on a similar lot. You may know that house as 'the Amityville Horror' house.

I'm a nosy sort, I admit it. I wanted to see what that house was selling for. Too bad the realty sign was unreadable. Seriously, since August, I was trying to read the froufy, embellished script that was the realty's name. You tell me that you could read this, driving by a house on a busy street when you're going 35 miles per hour:I admit it, last month, curiosity got the better of me and I plugged the street name into's website and found the house-and the name of the realty. Xcellence.

Okay, obviously the brokers weren't present at the lecture in which the information was provided that you don't give your business cutesy spellings or ones that people can easily mangle. (And I still didn't know whether her last name was Manz or Marz, due to that serifed font speeding past me.)

That's not the only lesson they've missed, and apparently, a lot of businesses haven't been educated, either. However, today, I'll focus on the realtors. They're missing the important point that the fonts used on the sign are just as important as the information contained on it.

I like to call it 'the 30mph rule,' but I'm sure there's a real name for the notion that if your prospective buyer can't read the sign while they're driving by, then they're not absorbing the information needed to call you about that beautiful house on that well manicured lot. It won't matter that the sellers are motivated and have staged the house to perfection, if no one is asking to see the house, the house doesn't sell.

So, typography. What you say, how you place it and the fonts you use can inspire people to buy, to read, to process and to remember your message. Look at that Burger King sign as an example, because it's easy to read and it sticks with you, thanks to that hamburger shape. Now, it'd be difficult to read text made into the shape of a house, but a catchy graphic can work wonders. Swirly fonts normally seen on wedding invitations usually do not.

There's another house that Ed and I dubbed the 'Gilligan' house, because when we'd drive over to see Jane and Mom five years ago, half of their property was overgrown with tropical vegetation and in the midst of it was the SS Minnow. No joke, this 24" boat was parked among the bushes and plants. The house became vacant about three years ago and sat for ages without any signs in front of it. This house has a nice location and big piece of land on a road where the speed limit is 55 miles an hour. Fortunately, the way the driveway is situated, anyone leaving it can easily see oncoming traffic.

Unfortunately, those cars coming along at 55mph see this:and are left wondering what that K is for. There's no "K Realty" in these parts. The name below it doesn't help when you're going that fast. Is that Debbie Knaus? Knapp? Kraut? It wasn't until I stopped to snap the picture today that I noticed the Keller Williams emblazoned on the bottom. That kind of makes me scratch my head that one of the larger realty firms around here didn't do any drive bys to tell Ms. Krauf (Knauf?) that people can't read the sign to schedule a showing!

Now, I look at those two signs all the time, but there are others I don't see as frequently that are listed by local realtors and they must have paid attention when they created their signs or logos. They get typography. Take this one as an example:It's FOR SALE (all caps to grab your attention), offered by SUPERIOR (all caps again) and that phone number is easy to read. Not the most imaginative, but you know what? The time for being imaginative and creative is when you're handing them your business card or showing them that house, not on the sign out at the curb that is trying to entice them inside.

Nearby, another Keller Williams sign, but this one is easily read at 30mph. It's the REO TEAM, it has the realtor's name and the phone number is easy to read. Yes, the font is a little tough on the eyes, but it's on the sign large enough that you can figure it out.

Across the street is a great example. I don't get the trend of agents who put their pictures on business cards and these signs, because I'm not going to buy a house from a cute salesperson any quicker the rest of the sign does draw the eye. The sign is a bright red, black and white, says FOR SALE, her name and her phone number. Even better, her URL uses her name.

This next example parlays the realtor's last name into a graphic that will remind interested parties (at the very least) that there was a bird on the sign. Red, black and white, easy to read and bonus, her name IS her complete URL.

Oh, not so fast. That URL has a 404 error. How the heck do I find that realtor? Well, if you're me, you Google it and find that she actually has a different URL! Which brings us to a different lesson for another day, the one where we say 'If you change anything about your business, spend the money for quality decals to place over the incorrect information.' It is a small price to pay to ensure you get business, because most people are not going to take that extra time to look you up.

Of course, I left the big gun for last. Those national real estate firms that you have in your town and you see their commercials everywhere are that big for a good reason. They've studied typography and the psychology of buying and know what fonts to use, what to say, what color to put it in and what information you really don't need on that sign.

In this housing market, it is especially important to make a big impact when there is so much competition. If those houses aren't selling, it may not be the curb appeal, but the advertisement at the curb itself. If those calls aren't coming in on a house, wouldn't you ask a friend, neighbor, bowling team buddy or fellow scout parent and ask them to drive by your sign at the speed limit and try to read it?

If they can't, the problem might not be the product. It just might be poor typography.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Picture Duff Goldman Doesn't Want His Former Hockey Teammates to See

We went over to campus tonight to see Duff Goldman (of Food Network's 'Ace of Cakes' show) as part of the University Lecture Series. The boys and I did this last year to see Grant Imihara and Kari Byron, but I posted some mediocre pictures and had a good time. This year, Ed was with us, we had better seats and I got better pictures because I now have a better camera. Oh, and we had an awesome dinner, too.

Anyway, when Duff came out on stage, he told the audience of his first trip to Tampa: 20 guys, two 15 passenger vans and a bunch of hockey gear, all because they had a match against USF (so I'm assuming he was on the UMBC team). They thought they'd cream them, because what would a bunch of guys who live in perpetual summer know about hockey?

They got spanked.

So, the moderator presented Duff with a Bulls hockey jersey and Duff said it would be very bad if his fellow teammates see him wearing this, since they got beaten by the team so handily back then. Guess they didn't think that some guys from the snow belt who were raised on the ice would pick a school where it's sunny and much warmer in the winter.

It was a great presentation. The moderator asked questions and Duff would spin long tales in response to each one. He started the bakery in his townhouse in Baltimore and someone from the Health Department knocked on his door. "We have reports that you're running an unlicensed bakery out of this house." Duff asked if he even looked like a baker and the guy left. Soon after, he bought the first bakery, then later bought the church on Remington that is Charm City Cakes today. The name of the bakery is because there are tons of businesses with 'Charm City' in the lovely city of Bawlmore, he thought it was industrial sounding, hon.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, he and his brother delivered a LIFE SIZE baby elephant cake to Arizona. 850 pounds, 250 of which was gray modeling chocolate. That delivery resulted in them eating wings at Buffalo Wild Wings on Thanksgiving, so that they could watch football.

He cleared up some misconceptions. He doesn't hate cupcakes entirely, he just finds them incredibly boring to make and decorate. Hand him one to eat and he will do it.

Apparently, over time, it's been reported that he has a fear of cutting cakes. He doesn't, he just feels he sucks at it and because he does a bad job of it, he gets others to do the deed.

For all the episodes of "Ace of Cakes" where the staff is drinking white russians or grabbing booze from Dizzy Izzy's, it ends up that we've never seen Duff drinking on the show. I realized this after he said he's allergic to alcohol. What a bummer.

He was asked what cake he'd like for his birthday, which he modified to his wedding cake. If he had his way, the bottom layer would be the 14" round sausage discs you get on a Lou Malnati chicago deep dish pizza. Then, it'd be a 12" layer of meatloaf. Next, a 10" layer of spam. The top layer would be another meat product (forget which), then frosted in mashed potatoes with hot, crispy bacon rosettes and a gravy ganache. I get the impression that he doesn't like cake much.

Then again, he did live in an apartment above he bakery. He told of waking up at 6am to the smell of cake, his cat smelling of cake, his clothes smelling of cake and well, I think I can understand why he might have had his fill of the stuff. Add to that he worked at the bakery, has a gym and rehearsal space for soihadto in the basement and that he'd sometimes spend four days straight in that building and once he had enough money for two mortgages, he moved back into that townhouse.

As for the future, he will be opening another bakery in Los Angeles and Geoff will take over the day to day operations in Baltimore. His goal is to retire in five years and go far, far away from television cameras. If possible, he wants to make cheese in Italy. Sounds like a good plan.

Once again, USF brought someone entertaining to speak and he did not disappoint. It was just a bonus that I got to break in the new camera taking pictures tonight.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of Committee Meetings, Weather Warnings and Thesis Statments

The day started with an 'Oh SHIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTT!' I saw 7:32 on the clock, I needed to be on the other side of town at 8am and did I mention I was supposed to drop Game Teen at school, too? Thankfully, Ed took the child to school.

Yes, that committee I was on as a student representative? We've reconvened and now I'm the graduate representative. I got there fifteen minutes late and they'd already reviewed half of the candidates on our new list. About 2 hours work completed in twenty minutes, it's what happens when you are working with prepared and motivated committee members.

The end result? We've got another day of interviews set up for Tampa next week.

So, the meeting is over (in Lakeland) and you have a 5pm class (in Tampa), what do you do? If you're me, you drive over to the other campus and settle in for a day of studying.

Apparently, while I was busy reading a chapter in the textbook that touched on SIX previous psychology classes, doom and gloom was descending on the gulf coast of Florida. There were tornado warnings, and I was clueless of this fact, since I usually ignore weather forecasts. Something about not being able to change it makes me apathetic to it.
This is what it looked like when I got home.

After several hours of studying, reading, checking out a doctoral program prospect and doing some prep work for the massive research paper for tonight's class, I decided I wanted some coffee. Conveniently, there's a Starbucks in the entrance of the library. (Beggars can't be choosers, so I won't complain). While waiting for the elevator, I ran into a classmate and we chatted for a few moments. She also travels a distance to class and we commented about how we prefer getting there early and reviewing materials. It was 4pm, and our class would have a session with a researcher at the library at 5:15.

I grab my coffee and I'm back upstairs five minutes later and M says "You're not going to believe this, but class has been canceled."

It seems that whenever I carve out one of these long on-campus study days, the odds are greater that exactly this will happen. We chat about perhaps we'll just stay on campus and get a jump on the work. We discuss the fact that we've got our worksheets ready and preliminary topics for these papers.

Other classmates trickle in, others who travel 45 minutes or more to campus. All take the news in stride, contemplating study time and deciding to take advantage of the second email that says the professor is on campus and will meet up with anyone here to go over those worksheets. One of my fellow group members shows up and we decide that if the other two arrive, we'll stick around and bang out an outline for that project.

So, seven of us meet with the professor. We get handouts for next week, so it was worth it to make the drive. Then, one by one, we talk about what we came up with for our papers. Originally, I wanted to write about anxiety and Asperger's in the classroom, but I couldn't narrow it down enough for my satisfaction.

What I did come up with ended up being a very precise look at something that will be a building block for the dissertation ahead. Even better, when I posed the question on the worksheet, I posted it to Facebook-and GameTeen's school Director verified several studies that will support what I question.

I could have been mad about the late cancellation. Instead, I embraced it for the gift it turned out to be. It resulted in some solid on-campus studying and an approval of my topic a week earlier than most of the class. I'll take it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Awesomeness of a Cheap iPhone App

You've seen it here many times before, the fruits of the Hipstamatic app:

The addition of all the Hipstapacks has made me happy, especially for the addition of black and white. Scamp was being especially cooperative last night, thus the picture you see.

I posted another from his little session with me (I took two shots each with all the lens options with the black and white film) to my Facebook page. A friend decided he was going to have some fun in Photoshop, and posted this to my wall this morning:

It was a good segue into what I was studying today. In one class, I've got a big project in Photoshop, and it was good to see someone play with one of my images in the program to create something I found amusing.

We'll see what I come up with by the end of the semester.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yes, I Can Act Like a 12 Year Old Boy

Tell me that you don't laugh at this:

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I finally got my Paprikash today.

I've been making it since about the time that "When Harry Met Sally" came out on video and found the recipe in a Jewish foods cookbook (wish I had that sucker, it had some great recipes, but it was borrowed.) There aren't that many ingredients to it as it is simple peasant food.

Anyway, ever since, if I mention it and someone has made it, I've been told I put in far too many onions (I sliver 3, the original recipe called for six). I decided to check out what Wikipedia said, and it gave general information about goulashes in general. Mmmm, goulash.

So, I Googled recipes and found this one, which is fairly close to mine. I use the above mentioned onions, 4 cloves garlic, half the broth, and I don't use ginger or bay leaves. However, that last ingredient perplexed me a bit.

The instruction to 'eat the fudgesicle while the food cooks' was inspired.

As I took the picture, I thought of success on another front. After nearly two weeks of research, I decided on a camera and ordered it. It will be very cool to take those pictures with a camera that's designed to perform extreme close ups.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear some leftovers calling me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Having a Good Rapport with Your Specialist is a Good Thing

I had an appointment with one of my doctors this morning. The one that no one else in the family has need for. He's got a great way of just checking up with you as a person before getting to the part of the appointment that most of us just would rather do without.

Anyway, since I hadn't seen him since last January, he asked how school was going. I mentioned that I had just started grad school and decided on a PhD. He asked what area of study and when I said that ideally, my plans were to research computer based curricula for students with Asperger's Syndrome.

It ends up his mom does autism research in the midwest. He gave me her contact info, the contact info of the other principal investigator at that university as well and told me a bunch of info about their program. Granted, I'm not going into research from the psychology side, but it IS important for me to find a mentor or a backup mentor who has worked in the specialty area I want.

He wasn't sure if that university offered a PhD. or EdD. in Instructional Technology, but it was a school that wasn't on the list I got from a professional organization for the field. Sure enough, I just looked up the school's academic programs-and the EdD in IT is listed.

Amazing how my doctor asks some questions about my academic plans and then has information that really helps me out. Even if that program isn't the right fit, contacting these two researchers might point me to others who are combining research with Asperger's students in ways that complement what I want to do in two years.

Oh, and the doctor's visit was one of the rare ones I had where I don't have to go back anytime soon. :) I really like those kinds of visits!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photo Hound

I am a shutter bug. Okay, scratch that-I am a frustrated shutter bug.

The things I see on a daily basis cry out for me to capture them on film, or rather, in pixels. Years of viewing the world through the view finder of various Minolta cameras has me framing images wherever I go. Sometimes, I make an effort with one of the point and shoots or my iPhone.

The local obsession has appeared on the blog now and again. I am a sucker for neon. The way it glows, the saturation of color, the nostalgia it evokes. This part of Florida is abundant of tubes of colored inert gas, and I've said for ages that I want to head out with a good camera and a tripod and do a photo essay of a time gone by that still is here.

One of the locales that is at the top of my list also photographs well in the daytime, especially with the cool iPhone Hipstamatic app. I added all the lenses and film to it last month with part of a graduation iTunes gift card. Due to bright light, my detour to take these pictures today, I didn't know that I was capturing these pictures in black and white.

It was just that much cooler when I got home and realized that instead of paying top dollar to develop black and white film when I used to use my Minoltas, I achieved that look for a few bucks.

Still, the call of a camera that has versatility has been there for a long time. Last week, as I listened to a professor explain that assignments must include our own original work-including pictures and video, I realized the time had come. Among the purchases for grad school will be something I've wanted for a long time.

Soon, the images you see above will be taken at night, with a tripod, so that the richness of that neon can be captured in all its blazing colors. And I'm really looking forward to taking those drives after dark to collect all those photographs I've been framing in my head for the past few years.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This Evening's Presentation Has Been Pre-Empted

The plan: Chicken Paprikash, because my friend Ang posted this on Facebook the other day:

This scene is responsible for me tracking down a recipe for Chicken Paprikash when the movie first appeared. Of course, since she posted the clip, I wanted some. Fortunately, one child loves it, the other will eat the chicken and the egg noodles if I am thorough in removing the onions from his portion.

Instead, Chiari had other plans. After two days of low grade thudding, the throbbing announced it was there to do battle. I challenged it with a Facebook status that must have stepped up the efforts in my head. End result: Chiari 2, Suzanne 0.

So, it'll be Thursday night's dinner. Perhaps I might even add the Pecan pie.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cat Nap

Monday, January 17, 2011


I don't know how we did it.

On the drive over to the Apple store and back, we passed field after field of luscious, ripe strawberries. We didn't stop at any of the wonderful farm stands.

Was it because Ed wasn't hungry for a Parkesdale Strawberry shortcake after having a big lunch? Was it the fact that the kids were with us, since we typically have the first strawberry treat while they are in school? I'm not sure, but somehow, we came home with empty arms and strawberry free bellies.

However, I do have sneaking suspicion that later this week, I'll be getting a flat of goodness from the Winter Strawberry Capital of the world and making some syrup, shortcake and cookies.

I can't wait.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


What happens when your A/C adapter doesn't charge your laptop?

You can't do your school work.

I tried the magnetic connector both ways (it is omnidirectional), five different outlets, and both the wall wart and 3 prong attachments and no juice is getting to the Mac.

Today, I'm on Ed's machine and banging out schoolwork that doesn't require me to download stuff. This means the crazy easy classwork that's not due until February 14th is done and turned in, the stuff that I need to turn in next Monday has to wait and then as soon as I'm done reading as many tutorials as I can on this machine, I'll be sitting with my lone textbook and reading for Tuesday night's class.

I admit it, I'm a Machead now. I keep hitting F3 to toggle screens and do ctrl x ctrl c ctrl v instead of dropping the first part.

A drive over to Brandon in the morning to the Genius Bar is on tap. I fully expect to walk out ten minutes later with a new cord.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Search Engines Are Not Created Equal

For one of my classes, which is akin to "Internet 101," the first assignments are to do some studying about search engines, create an Internet scavenger hunt, post on the discussion board for the class and a few other simple things. Oh, and I've got until February 14th to do them.

Knowing my propensity for procrastinating until the very last second, and also knowing that my other two classes are more labor intensive, I figured I'd work on the simple stuff and get it out of the way until the next batch of work is doled out. Which lead me to reading about subject directories, search engines and deep web tonight.

To do the assignment, some visits to these sites are necessary. We're to write up what we found when searching our subject of choice.

As the focus of the class is educational uses, I decided to search Asperger's Syndrome. There's a method to the madness, because it might lead me to more research papers on the topic for another class project later next month.

Anyway, the instructor provided links for two search engines geared towards younger users. Typing 'Asperger's Syndrome' into Ask Kids, and you get a fairly respectable selection of sites to visit:

On the other hand, if you type the same words into Yahoo.Kids, you get something less than stellar.

ONE response for Asperger's Syndrome and then any other syndrome under the sun. Like a kid researching Asperger's really wants to know about Kleinfelter's, too.

I think I know which one I'll be sending the boys to when they need to find something out and filtering is necessary.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Annual Blog Delurking Day

I see you! Yes, you! Reno, Richmond Hill, Olean, Akershus, London, any number of cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Heck, I even see Googlebot visiting me a few times a day!

If you came to see my Unna Boot, Jim Carrey wearing Jenny McCarthy's swimsuit (which frankly, looked a lot better on him than it did on her), read my rants about Michael Savage, look at pictures of camping at Ft. Desoto, wanted a maid or want to know about foreclosure, stick around and say hello. I post pictures of food, of drinks and I don't bite. Well, not much.

If you came because any sort of word combination banned and a Disney fan website, I stopped posting about those things over two years ago-but those half dozen posts are the most often read on this blog.

What brought you here? What is your name? your quest? Your favorite color? Are you searching for the six fingered man, because he's not here?

If you've got a blog, let me know. I'll come read it.

Delurk. You know you want to!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Legos as Weapons

Yesterday morning, as I entered GameTeen's bedroom to wake him for school, I stepped on a lego.

If you haven't experienced this joy, probably because you experienced the joys of stepping on Barbie shoes, these hard plastic objects are sharp. They hurt. Did I mentioned that they're sharp?

Anyway, lucky for me, I stepped on the offending plastic weapon with my right foot, the edge gouging the arch of my foot. I stumbled and my right hand jammed the edge of the child's bed. Hard.

Once again, lucky for me, because I'm left handed. Forty hours later, the pinky still hurts. Thankfully, it isn't discolored or swollen, but very tender. I dodged a bullet, but it's probably sprained, since I can't bear weight or carry stuff with it.

The pinky is now buddy taped and I'll be typing a little slower.

And giving the military a call about inexpensive weapons programs...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Even though Florida is the ONLY state in the US to be free from snow, that doesn't mean we're free of frigid temperatures. See?

With this cold weather, our Central A/C unit motor decided it would quit working, so it's a little cooler in the SuzanneCalling house tonight. Initially, I thought that dinner would be something that required the use of the oven, but a quick poll of the menfolk revealed that they had other plans. Chef got his choice tonight, Mom's Chicken noodle soup. It's a smart way to warm all of us up, especially since the HVAC repairman had to order a motor.

I freely admit I take a shortcut to homemade soup by purchasing a rotisserie chicken. Most of the supermarkets around here sell them for a buck or so more than buying a whole chicken, and it saves a bunch of time. Mine has the egg noodles we prefer, a boatload of basil and a lot less salt than what comes in a can. Then thin slicing carrots, onions and celery in the food processor takes seconds. The best part (to me) is that I can put a ton of chicken in the pot.

Now, if only it photographed well, because this is after Chef's three huge bowls, Ed's two and my one. (GameTeen opted for some leftovers)

Tomorrow, Ed gets his way and I'll make a batch of marinara and meatballs, and we'll commiserate with friends up north complaining of the cold weather.