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Showing posts from April, 2012

Reececliff Restaurant, Lakeland

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When you live in a town like Lakeland, you're likely to find many restaurants that have been around forever. Like, Reececliff for instance, which has been around for over 70 years. Heck, the pie baker, Jeanette, has been making pies for over fifty years. You don't find many places that can make that kind of claim.  Ed and I went here for lunch sometime last year and we both were impressed with the way the wait staff knew the names of almost everyone coming through the doors. It's like Cheers, but without the bar.

So, this morning, I wanted to do some reading for a class, I wanted to do so where there was no WiFi to tempt me away from the 758 page textbook/PDF I have loaded on the iPad and I didn't want fast food. Since I was shooting some preliminary video for a class project on Lake Hollingsworth nearby, it made sense to come to this Lakeland establishment.

Like I said, Cheers without a bar, even though there is a counter that people can belly up to. You walk in…

My Shadow

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If you're looking for the cat around here, he is up in my grill all.the.time.

One Down, Two to Go

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The work is finished for one class. 

I still have a video to shoot, since I'm not doing one on USF Poly now.  That will be a frenzy of editing on Wednesday, no doubt.

And I've got a pile of JavaScript programming to do...

Sore

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I've mentioned before that I work for a secret shopping agency.  They're local, I've met the owner in person (which is how I eventually applied for the job) and for the past four years, I've enjoyed the occasional work it brings.

This month, one of my assignments was to do a health club shop.  The company gave me a membership, they're okay with my exercise limitations and I pick a class that I reasonably can do.  Except that when I scheduled it for the beginning of the month, I ended up with a conflict, so we went for a date near the end of the fiscal month.

That was this morning.  I couldn't cancel out, because there is no time to reschedule.

Even though this was a modified workout for people with mobility limitations, and I did what I could and avoided what I shouldn't, I am sore.  Really sore.

I wish there had been a yoga class instead!  At least those, the soreness seems to be relieved with gentle movement, like the yoga positions themselves.

Purpose

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Ever since I saw Tony Attwood speak eighteen months ago, the plans have been crystallizing in my head about that doctoral program.  A few changes later, and I'm on my way, always refining how to achieve my end goal.

However, other than GameTeen, I've had limited exposure to kids on the spectrum.  Yes, I've been to his school, observed students and talked to parents, but the encounters are fleeting.  I've read many journal articles and in talking with the director of his school, I feel I have a good handle on how the minds of these students function, how repetition and consistency minimize meltdowns and anxiety.

This week, though, I've helped out at the school and as a result, I've spent some time with some kids who need some more help than GameTeen.  A lot more help, but thankfully, there are some wonderful teachers who have what seems to be an unending source of patience.  One has asked me to cover her bathroom break, which she  takes at the same time every da…

Crunch Time

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I've got a new video to shoot and a boat load of programming to do.  It's going to be a very busy ten days!

Chicken Pot Pie

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As a kid, there were a few meals that came from a package or dining out that I loved.  Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli is one (though I find that sauce nasty in anything else) and Pot Pies are the other.

A long departed restaurant across from Lincoln Center served one of the best Chicken Pot Pies ever, and it is one of those items that if I find it on the menu, it'll be hard to talk me out of it.  More often, though, I'll pick up one out of the freezer at the supermarket and be quite content.

I don't know why I never bothered to try to make them, considering that it's a meal that always satisfies, but today, when I was driving home from a friend's house, I'd suggested it as a dinner option to Ed and got an "oooooooooohhhhhhhh" that told me I had a very good idea.

The thing is, I make a damn good chicken gravy (otherwise known as chicken a la king) and a great chicken soup, but the consistency of pot pie falls somewhere in the middle.  I found…

Traitor

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This is supposed to be the hand that does everything.

With the Chiari, the right side is weak.  Even when it isn't in pain, the right side does not like repetitive  tasks, like doing laundry.  It's the side that has most of the neck and shoulder pain, had all but one of my wrist surgeries, the one that my neurologist spends the most time checking for nerve damage.

So when the left side starts displaying the tingling and numbness, I start to worry.  Especially when I'm doing laundry, because the right isn't there to help. 

I will say this-it is strange to watch your fingers type on an iPhone keypad, know your fingers are touching it and seeing the letters show up (with quite a few typos, though), yet not feel the phone under the fingers.

To say it's disconcerting would be an understatement.

Traitor.

Food Quirks

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For someone who writes a lot about food, where I eat and what I cook, I realized that I haven't ever mentioned my food quirks. This came to mind when deciding what to eat at Fat Jack's, knowing that the expected side to a club sandwich is fries.

Yes, I like fries, just not a lot of them.  Heck, if they're fresh cut, I even like those cold.  So I don't see the point in ordering a side of them, only to leave most on the plate when I'm done.  The only way that finishing my fries might happen is if there is a side of barbeque, brown gravy, sour cream or tsitsiki sauce to dip them in.

Which leads to the next quirk:  I hate ketchup.  Give me anything else tomato based, and I am all over it.  Insalata caprese?  Bruschetta?  Marinara sauce?  BLT?  Sign me up, but the pureed condiment is not one of my favorites.  Guess it's a good thing I didn't go to a NY Public school where it was served as a vegetable.  (the Long Island school districts didn't seem to have t…

Fat Jack's, Lakeland

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Before we'd even moved to Lakeland, Ed and I found a Chinese restaurant we liked in the most unlikely of places, a repurposed fast food restaurant. It didn't look like much, but boy, it was good stuff. However, it was adjacent to a strip mall with a Little Caesar's and a couple of other restaurants that we paid no mind to at all.

Then I started my job and had several people tell me they liked Fat Jack's, one of the businesses located there. I was told it was 'diner food' and since I grew up in a mecca of diners, Fat Jack's was on my list of places to try.  Yesterday, I had a nail appointment nearby and was helping out at Game Teen's school, which brought me past Fat Jack's at lunchtime, so I finally ventured in for a meal.

Okay, first a distinction. Fat Jack's is not like a diner, rather, it is more like a luncheonette. The difference? Diners are open 24 hours and have expansive menus. Luncheonettes lean towards shorter menus that focus o…

Shellac, Tutti Fruitti Layered

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Pink is not a favorite color of mine. I think I overdosed on it in the '80's and '90's, then the final nail in the coffin for pink was six years of looking at princess merchandise working for Disney. The fact that Shellac comes in many colors that aren't pink have really endeared me to the product line.

 In fact, when I walked into my appointment this morning, Katie took one look at my shirt (product review coming Monday) and assumed I was going for Hotski to Tchotchke. No, I was going radical. (Well, for me, anyway.)

 Tutti Fruitti was just a little too pink, but I mentioned to Katie that I owed it to those who visit the blog for my pictures to add something I haven't worn before. She suggested layering Beau over the Tuttie Frutti to tone it down a bit, then showed me a nail mock up (I don't know what those things are called) and I liked it.

Sold.



Well Read

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I've been in the process of reorganizing my bookshelves. Now that I'm using the iMac, the Ikea desk I bought last year is getting used regularly, so the bookshelf next to it is also getting a workout.

Last week, I pulled out anything non-school related to stuff into my other bookshelf (we'll ignore the fact that there are about a dozen boxes full of books in the garage-I'm a girl in need of a library and no extra space in the house!). Anyway, the reorganizing placed stacks of notebooks, of folders, and of various journal articles between the shelves of books. There is also a space barely kitteh sized, and Scamp, not finding a flat space of at least 3" that he hasn't tried, decided he had a new perch when I'm studying.


Well, he did until he shook the bookshelf too much, looked up and had a JavaScript pocket guide fall in front of him. That spooked him, he shook the bookshelf some more, and my painting of a mountain range fell from the top and landed on …

The Last Package

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When we get delicacies from elsewhere, using the last package is a little depressing. Last year, I'd mentioned that we found Zweigle's White Hots in two local supermarkets. I struck while the iron was hot and got something like 20 packages.

Game Teen had asked for them for dinner tonight, and I got a package of Brats instead. However, there were only five, not enough for my menfolk. So, I dug in the freezer and opened the last package.

They were good.


Waaaaaaah.

Sixteen

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I'm not sure where the time goes. A little boy, proud of himself for yelling out "PIZZA!" as we drive by a strip mall when he was not quite two (not sure how he knew that word, as we'd never gone there for it!). A three year old, naming the make of every car on our block as we walked around the neighborhood. A five year old, tickled to death with meeting Buzz and Woody at Walt Disney World...


And now, sixteen.


GameTeen, you've blown me away with the progress you've made. You inspire me to seek out better educational opportunities for other kids like you. You fascinate me with the way your mind turns over the things we talk about, the way you remember the slightest thing for conversations months before.

I'm lucky to be your mom.

It's Been That Kind of Day

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Mmmmmmm, alcohol!Sent from my iPhone

An Abundance

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As I've mentioned in the past, one of my goals in school is to make at least one new friend in each class I take. It definitely helps to have someone to talk about the experience while you're going through it, and sometimes, they've got information that is helpful to you (and vice versa).

This semester, though, it seems like the connections I've made with peers have just multiplied. There are people from all of my classes that I'm connecting with daily, and while the conversations may just be school related, it's not just the classroom experience. Instead, we're talking about the other classes, professors, our educational plans and how to accomplish them. In short, we now have an outlet for all those questions that lie ahead.

I think the biggest compliment is when another person who is continuing on (or is already in the Ph.D program) asks what classes I'm planning to take in the fall. It says they value me as a classmate and hey, having a known quan…

BubbaQue's, Lakeland

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When we moved to Florida, one thing the family was happy about is the abundance of barbeque joints. Or, at least it seemed that way.

Right up the road from our first house was this fantastic place, Potbellies. They were later purchased by another restaurant owner, but he kept both locations until the lease was up. (and it was replaced by yet another 'que joint, but it wasn't nearly as good). Then there was another 'que joint about 2 miles from the house in another direction. If we drove down to Brandon, between our house and the mall one could find a half dozen places, each pretty darn good.

Then we moved to Lakeland.

We had a Smokey Bones right by the mall and back then, it was good stuff. Then Darden sold off that concept to someone else, and it is now horrible. We also have Sonny's, another chain that is okay. Put it this way-if you can have Golden Corral or Ruth's Chris for steak, which would you go for? The independent 'que joints are much less common…

Continuing Roles

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I will be a TA for the summer. Same professor, same class. However, this time, the class is 100% online and will be delivered in 7 weeks, rather than the normal 15 week semester.

In other words, a slightly insane pace.

While it will be the same course, I've been tasked with looking at the assignments and trying to figure out how to downsize them to something students can do in a compressed timeframe. It's a good thing I've been through them once as a student and once as a TA.

I am looking forward to this.

New Roles

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In all the group projects I've done, it has always fallen to me to do the writing and editing. This is my strength, I really enjoy doing it, and it seems almost everyone is happy that they don't have to do it.

This semester, though, when the time came to compile our group project first draft, someone else stepped up to the plate. Since I was up to my eyeballs in work for the class from hell, I wasn't about to complain. She's an excellent writer, and she's probably been like me, the designated writer.

So, my role is a little different this semester. The course is for all Education majors, not just my specialty, so we have students who haven't had other tech-based classes. L (the writer) and I are, and have offered up ideas on how to present the project to the class.

I realized a couple of weeks ago that a year in, I really have a good grip on most of the things used in the industry and they're well-used tools in my arsenal now. The suggestion was made to …

The Non Apology

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If you're here in Florida, the news is awash with coverage of Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen's statement last week that he admired Fidel Castro.

Yes, in Miami, where many of the residents can tell you about harrowing escapes from the dictator. The manager got a five game suspension, and yesterday's NPR broadcast covered the manager's apology. To me, there was something not quite right about it.

Guillen said:
"I'm here on my knees to apologize," Guillen said.

"I'm very sorry about the problem, what happened. I will do everything in my power to make it better. ... When you make a mistake like this, you can't sleep."

Do you catch the semantics, the thing that rubbed me the wrong way? "I'm sorry IT HAPPENED." Nothing about I'm sorry I hurt and offended people, I was wrong or any number of sincere things that one should be offering up when they've made a mistake, especially one that is a slap in the face to the res…

The House Smells Like a Bakery

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I entered a bake off at work. After drawing a blank for several days, I realized I should make my Mom's Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe. However, making one coffee cake is not a good idea, especially when the house smells like this.

So I made three. One for the coworkers to enjoy, one for the bake off and one for the menfolk. Chef probably thought he was going to stay up to get a warm piece as soon as it came out of the oven.

Not quite, but he'll have a nice breakfast tomorrow.

Oh, and if you're wondering, 24.5 cups is critical mass for a KitchenAid Professional mixer. Good thing I didn't get the notion to quadruple the recipe!

The Incredible Disappearing and Reappearing Blog

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I broke it.

It came back. Then it went away again.

I'm still figuring out the bugs, so for now, you'll still find me here. I'll port things over the weekend, once I've had a little time to read what I need to do.

Packing It Up and Moving!

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Not in the real world, not yet (thank God for that!), but the virtual home on the net will be moving here in the next few days!

The past 6.5 years at Blogspot have been awesome, but I need to practice my web skills and think that hosting the blog myself is one of the things that will help me on that front. I'll also be hosting an online portfolio on another URL, but it'll still be the same blog-just at another address.

Blogger should automatically redirect, but if it doesn't, I'm at www.suzannecalling.com.

See you there!



Hopping By

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My boys are old enough now that they've told me the games they want for Easter and I can skip the candy, as long as I buy it the day after Easter when it goes on sale.

Well, not quite.

Chef was on board with this idea, until we got to the supermarket tonight. I ended up coming home with a bag of Snicker snackers, because he wanted 'some candy' now.

Inching closer to being a teen, but not quite ready to let go of being a little kid...

OPI Gelcolor-I'm Not Really a Waitress

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When OPI announced they would be entering the soak off gel manicure market, I wanted to know if their signature color would be included.

It is.


Ed requested red, so I went with the classic I'm Not Really a Waitress, though I think Big Apple Red would have been a good selection, too.

As far as the peeling situation, so far, Katie says she hasn't many issue with this one (I had trouble with Ink, Suzi Says Feng Shui and Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow), but she's going to try two layers of top coat on the colors I mentioned. Other clients were having the same issue with their manicures lifting and peeling well before two weeks are up, too.

We shall see how this one fares.

Food From a Truck-Taco Xpress, Lakeland

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If you live in or around a major city, you have mobile food carts. In NY and DC, we had the hot dog carts or trucks, and one would become a connoisseur. "Oh, that one has Sabrett's and grilled onions, but this one has Footlong Nathans and Sauerkraut." Some would be at vacant lots and many would be on street corners, but you knew you were going to get a decent, cheap meal from the mobile vendor.

Then we moved to Florida, land of the Taco Truck. Usually, they're a white utility truck, some are parked in one place, others travel from spot to spot. If they're good, they've got an avid customer base who anxiously await their arrival.

A curious thing when I started at Poly was the white taco truck parked on Highway 98, about a 1/3 mile south of Edgewood Drive. It was the variety that didn't move, had permanent signs affixed to the top and if I passed by at regular meal times, a line of people from the various nearby commercial and industrial establishments. …

What's in Your Pantry?

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I'm going to introduce you to a couple of workhorses in my kitchen. No, not any person, but a product (really, two versions of the same product) that pack a wallop at meal time.


If you ever look in my fridge, you will find a tub of each one, and you may find a seafood base, too. This one little thing can do so much. With it, I don't need to make sure I have chicken broth for homemade soup. I just add a teaspoon to the stock I make with rotisserie chicken, more if I don't have bones to boil into stock.

Onion soup gets done with the beef base, and the other day, I made a homemade Hamburger helper that relied on this to deepen the flavor. See, the only HH boxed stuff I ever liked is the Italian Herb, a flavor that has long been discontinued. Ed and the boys, they would eat most of the flavors Betty Crocker puts out-and that would be reserved for nights I was at work.

But I had almost two pounds of ground beef a box of penne and a desire for something quick. Thus, I went…

Why the MacBookPro is Better Than an iMac

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I sit with my legs elevated and avoid this:

April is Autism Awareness Month

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1 in 88.

Some think it means autism is on the rise, and that may be true, but I really think that it points to better diagnostic tools. Paying attention to our kids when they seem to be struggling to communicate with others.

There was a time when I thought we needed a cure, but that's not exactly where I am now. Instead, we need to learn how to understand how those with Autism communicate with their world (because they do) and interpret it better. A few weeks ago, GameTeen's school director pointed out this YouTube video and I was fascinated.



She is absolutely correct that just because we don't communicate with each other, that doesn't mean she's not communicating at all.

We are all making progress, but still have a long way to go to understand.


Romeo's Pizza and Pasta-Lakeland, Florida

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In gathering up restaurant reviews to submit to Urban Spoon, I was shocked to find that I'd never done a review of our favorite local restaurant. I've mentioned it many times, but a full scale review has never made it to the blog.

Today, that changes, especially since we enjoyed a meal at Romeo's tonight.

A little over two years ago, Ed and the boys didn't feel like cooking on a night I was attending class (honestly, that happens a lot around here), and Ed decided he'd driven by this place too many times to ignore. You have to understand, I am extremely picky about eating Italian food out. Olive Garden is NOT Italian food to me, because I was raised on my Mom's marinara, eggplant parmesan, baked ziti and other rustic dishes.

That night, though, he figured that they could go try the pizza in the name, since the local pizza is horrible-unless you like the national chains. He walked through the door and saw a menu board filled with inspired daily specials, rathe…