Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicanos, Lakeland

Blame Denny Hamlin.

There's a NASCAR commercial on right now and in it, the driver's favorite Mexican Restaurant is converted to a Christmas Tchotchke store. The owner of the store sees the driver get out of his car and asks "Senor Denny" how he is and he answers 'No bueno, Carlos', which I find very funny every time I see it. Of course, it came on as Ed was about to take me out to grocery shop and well, we both wanted Mexican food.

Tapatios on Memorial is closed on Sundays (no Bueno, Tapatios!), so we resorted to the Urban Spoon shake and it hit upon Chicanos. A couple of former coworkers would visit this location fairly frequently and spoke highly of their food and margaritas, so we figured we'd give it a try.

I'm glad we didn't dilly dally, because we got there at 5:30 and they close at 7pm on Sundays. There was one other table occupied, and honestly, there were never more than 5 tables with patrons, which surprised me.

The menu gave us a tip off that this wasn't going to be our usual Mexican, in that they state 'Tex-Mex isn't supposed to be hot'. Okay, that explains the really good salsa that was very, very mild, served with some fresh tortilla chips. They sell extra bowls for $2.50, and I would spend it for those chips.

It ends up that non of the items we enjoyed were spicy at all, but they did have good flavor. I had the Santa Fe platter, while Ed had an Alamo. The chile rellenos were anaheims, filled with beef and cheese and fresh, but no heat.

I was quite pleased with the taco I got, the shredded beef had tons of flavor, and I was able to add guacamole and tomatoes to my liking. I only wish there was some Cholula or Valentina's on the table to give my meal the heat I expect. (I'm eating the leftovers today, with a touch of Valentina's, and oh my, it just improves things.) Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that taco, but picture something the size of a taco bell taco, with a freshly fried and very crispy corn tortilla.

The rest of the Santa Fe platter included one beef and one cheese enchilada with a nice verde sauce, the chile relleno, refried beans, and rice. Ed loved the refrieds, it was obvious this were a 'food of love' that had been simmering all day.

Ed ordered the El Alamo, a beef chimichanga that was topped with a meat sauce, chile con queso and a green chile sauce. It was huge-and there were no leftovers. He also enjoyed the flavor of the beef, but agreed that a little bit of heat was needed.
All in all, this was a solid Tex-Mex meal. At $28 for two meals and two sodas, it's about the same as what we'd spend at Tapatio's or at our Brandon favorite, Estella's. That said, if it wasn't Sunday, and Estella's wasn't a 30 mile drive away, I think we'd end up at those places because we know we'd get some heat in our food or be offered sauces to bring up the heat. However, if you like Mexican food on the mild side, Chicanos will gladly deliver it for you.

Note 1/2014: I drove by this location last week when visiting Ulta in the shopping center, and it appears that they have closed.

Chicano's Tex-Mex Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stir Crazy

Years ago, I had a problem with anxiety. I learned my trigger was feeling like I wasn't in control of a situation-which is the exact scenario that caused it to erupt in the first place. As a result, for a very long time, I could not spend a whole day at home-I had to get out and DO something, even if it was going down into town to put gas in my car. Weird quirks, thy cause is anxiety.
,br /> Many years have passed, and I am happy to report that I've had only a couple of anxiety attacks in the past few years, and they definitely were brought on by not being in control. It is part of the reason why GameTeen's school situation is different, because I felt the people who didn't care about his needs were calling the shots.

Anyway, the residual thing is definitely being at home too long. I'm not allowed to drive yet. I even wonder how I'm supposed to be cleared to return to work if I have to wear this neck brace for another 85 days, but I won't dwell on that, but the jaunt out yesterday to get my nails done was not enough to keep me from going a little bonkers.

Thankfully, my friend Jenn, who had this surgery a month ago, knows all too well that I don't do well being stuck at home. She gathered me up this afternoon, we went to meet with a contractor at her new house, to Five Guys for lunch, and then stopped at the post office to empty my box (which I was sure would be overflowing, but wasn't too bad) and back home again.

It was good to be out for a few hours. I'm good until tomorrow...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gelish Magneto-Inseparable Forces

After my last manicure with CND's Shellac Black Pool layered with Hotski to Tchotchke got so many rave reviews from the nurses, I thought I'd go with another Black Pool layering effect, but Katie had other plans.

She got in the Gelish line, which means she now has CND, OPI and Gelish. I'd heard some so-so reports on it, but she found that it's been working well-and wanted me to try the magnetic polish. I think the tipping point was that she had some samples to show and a lovely blue, Inseparable Forces.

If you were wondering about the Gelish Magneto colors, it does take a little digging online, as the Nail Harmony page only describes what it does, rather than giving the palette of colors. There are other pages that show six Magneto colors, I've seen three-the plum hue and the blue really caught my eye, and I can't wait to see the green.

Anyway, I was in on trying something different, and in the same amount of time as any of my other gel manicures, I had these:
Katie had three magnet shapes, circle, lines and a grid, but there are tons more shapes on eBay if your nail tech carries this line. Once the second coat is on, the magnet is held above the polish for about 10 seconds to achieve the effect. I want to look for hearts and letters, so that I can do "GO USF BULLS" with the green shade eventually!

I will post updates on the wear, as compared to CND and OPIs products. My last manicure of Shellac lasted 3+ weeks and had no signs of flaking, I hope this one lasts the two until I see Katie again, because I really like it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nap Time

I don't have much to say, except that I hurt and want sleep. So that's what I'll do...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hitting the Wall

Day three after surgery is supposed to be the worst. I'm not sure how the rest of the days will go, but today has been rough.

The pain isn't touched by the meds and the neck brace is very irritating to my skin. I'm sure hoping this is the worst...

Home Again

I was released from the hospital today. It's good to be home, but at the same time, it's rough to get comfortable. This neck brace has to be on 24 hours a day for the next three months.

I think the hardest part will be that I can't side sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2012

This is what a Spinal Fusion looks like

C5-C6 Discectomy. I now will set off airport metal detectors. The pain is about what I was experiencing before surgery, so I suspect this will eventually be in improvement.

In other news, the numbness and jittery hands are not present. I'll take it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The boys are 16 and 13, they're in their rooms, but Ed and I are watching PB& J Otter, a show from their toddler days. It's easily been ten years since we've seen an episode, but Ed and I know what catchphrases are coming and sing along with the Noodle dance. Who says we have to grow up?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Harry's, Lakeland

This is one of those hole in the wall places that looks horrible from the outside, but delivers solid breakfasts and lunches. Heck, even inside looks a little run down, even with it changing hands a couple of years ago-but sometimes, the cosmetic doesn't tell the whole story.

This place does a solid breakfast and a decent lunch full of basics. You want meatloaf like mom used to make? This is your place. Burgers with a good char? Definitely up for the challenge. Good, old fashioned southern sweet tea? This place has the best in town.

Unpretentious is the word to describe it. I mean, take a look at our lunch choices: 3
If you want fancy, this is NOT the place for you. But if you want honest comfort food, well prepared, at a good price, then you will not be disappointed. Just get there before 3pm, otherwise, you will be left hungry.

Harrys Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spice Thai and Sushi, Lakeland

Despite enjoying various Asian cuisines and liking spicy foods, the only time I have ever had Thai food is when I managed the meal prep kitchen. We had some wonderful meals with red curry paste, coconut milk, and other staples of Thai food, but without a frame of reference, I wasn't sure if they were accurate representations of that nation's food. I did know that if they were, I wanted more.

Now that I have a comparison, yes, those were the real deal and after visiting Spice Thai in Lakeland, I definitely do want more. Especially if it is here.

For a few years, I'd heard that Spice is a very good restaurant, but once in a while, I'd get a bad report. Still, it was rare enough that I was willing to give the place a try. Last night, Ed and I decided to have a meal without the kids (yay for teenagers!) and this came up. Once again, we wonder why we waited so long.

Our server was an older woman who was very attentive and kind to the first-timers. She asked if we'd eaten Thai before, which Ed did often when working in DC. I was the total noob, but I let her know that we eat curries. I wanted an appetizer and asked for crab rangoons. These are not your Chinese takeout wonton wrappers that are more wrapper than filling. No, they were these delicate and light pastries, filled with a savory cream cheese filling and served with a decent sized bowl of sweet chili sauce. (Probably the same sauce that sits in my pantry, even). Look at how pretty they are:
I suspect I may have a hard time trying another appetizer next time, because these were such a nice treat, fried without being heavy. Then again, I may be convinced to try the spring rolls.

Now, I was wavering between two dishes and couldn't decide. Apparently, these same two dishes were Ed's choices, too, so we opted to get both and share them. We both like red curry and really like basil, so that drove our choices. Meanwhile, their sushi menu looks like it is worthy of a trip for sushi lunch or dinner sometime soon.

The first choice: the drunken spicy pasta. I got this with beef, but it can be served with a variety of meat or seafood, but I was sure the beef would hold up to the flavors and spice-which it did nicely. This noodle was thinner than spaghetti, but thicker than angel hair, had a nice red broth and was infused with the flavor of basil without really noticing it in the dish. Also in the dish were large strips of pepper and onions and for the average person, it's a perfectly sized meal. I had leftovers, which I wouldn't have had if I had been really hungry(or average person hungry, as Ed is prone to telling me).

Ed went for the red curry with mixed meats. The mixed meats are chicken, pork and beef. In my opinion, the chicken was the weakest link in this dish. It was tender but the flavors overwhelmed it. On the other hand, the pork and the beef were a good complement to the coconut milk, onion, pineapple and red curry in the dish. It was hotter than my dish, but still not overly hot. Maybe we should tell them to go Thai hot next time?

Once done with the rest of the dish, Ed took the leftover rice and mixed it into the bowl with the remaining red curry sauce and enjoyed that so much, he didn't offer me any. He's usually good about sharing, this tells me that this sauce was incredible on its own.

We both agree that it will not be very long before we head back. Of course, a friend later asked if we'd gotten the fried banana dessert, but we were too full to consider dessert this time around. Maybe next time will be some makimono sushi and a dessert, or even their $6.95 lunch specials.

All I know is that I am very happy that we have tried another cuisine in Lakeland and been pleased with the food and service. Well done, Spice!

Spice Thai & Sushi Rest on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

PreOp Testing

Today was supposed to be a day off from work, so I could go do pre-admissions testing for surgery. Instead, I ended up working five hours, getting some work done at one location, and fixing the router that got messed up at our other location.

So, after doing that first part of the above work, I drove over to Tampa and got poked and prodded for a while. Of course, I thought they'd take a sample, so the one time I don't visit a restroom before my visit, they don't need me to pee in a cup! Blood pressure looked good for me, everything else is good to go, and I have an eviction notice for the pain in my neck!

Then, my boss told me the router was broken in our other campus. Rather, someone unplugged something, so other things got plugged in, the reset button was pressed and of course, they had no internet! Now, they're good to go, but I added a bunch of 'to do' items to my tech log for when I return from my time off.

No rest for the weary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I took psych stats two years ago, with an amazing professor. His philosophy was that we needed to know all the functions, not the computer software, so we learned everything and calculated by hand. Heck, my first test, I got everything right, but got a 78-because I did not show all my work. I learned my lesson.

That's the class where I earned an 89.9, then argued that .1 was insignificant, regardless of measurement used, so I should really have the A. I got it, because it was a valid use of the material he taught.

On the other hand, students on the Tampa campus taking that same Psych stats class learned the software. Now that I'm taking a grad level stats class, I am so very happy I had the professor I did and had to learn things the 'old-fashioned' way. It stuck with me.

I know the stuff, I remember the formulas, but now I need to learn all the Excel formulas to use in a different statistical analysis software. Still, most of the midterm will be defining things I learned two years ago-and I remember them.

Once again, the psych background is relevant.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Ethical Divide

Sometimes, people don't understand that while I may have more knowledge about a topic (or even any knowledge, for that matter) than the average person, it does not make me an expert on it, and as such, I cannot in good conscience portray myself as an authority.

I know a lot about Chiari, but there is a lot more I don't know. If you want me to talk one on one with a parent whose child also has Chiari, I will absolutely share my experiences and what I've learned, maybe even share info about the doctors I've heard about. There is no expectation that the conversation should be taken as the gospel truth about the topic-just my interpretation of my own situation.

Where it becomes tricky is when someone else says "Hey, Suzanne is an expert on that", and urges Suzanne to have a meeting to tell others what to do. I can't-especially in my role as an educator. What has worked for me may not be the right thing for others. Add to that the fact that these people know the letters after my name and assume that what comes out of my mouth is based on theory and practice.

Where it becomes hard is that the other person says "but you know so much", and I have to say "no, I know my own experience", they then say "well, share your experience" and I have to say that ethics guide me to undertand that the last thing I should be doing is getting up in front of a crowd of people to talk about it. They see me in a different light.

I just hope that person didn't say anything to the person in need before I shut down the conversation about how many ways I am not an expert...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Applying Knowledge

All through my Instructional Technology program, every class tied back to Bloom's Taxonomy, an ordered system of how we gain knowledge. From the simple knowledge, where a student will repeat information back to you, to the complex, where you present course content, the student processes it and comes up with a thoughtful analysis, independent of their book learning, it is a key concept of education.

So, today, my first teacher in-service, we spent a lot of time covering this important tool in creating student assessments and lesson plans. Instead of being overwhelmed, this topic comes easily, because I covered it in at least eight of my classes, and then facilitated instruction of it in two more.

Pretty darn cool to have a bunch of resources at my disposal beyond what we were given-then pass them on to others.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Country Ribs-Low and Slow

I went to the market today for something to make for dinner. They had country ribs on sale, which I love-but I didn't feel like parboiling them. I figured I would put the GMG grill to work, and oh my, that was a smart move.

You can do this in the oven, but if you have a grill that you can turn down the temperature to 250, go that route-especially if it is a wood fired or pellet grill. Basically, I took the ribs, rinsed them, then put my own pork rub on them: 1.5 cups brown sugar 1/2 cup kosher salt 3 tablespoons onion powder 1 teaspoon mustard powder 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon cumin 1 tablespoon paprika Then, they went on the grill. I didn't touch them for 90 minutes. Then, I turned them every half hour. Three hours in, I turned the thermostat up to 350, because I had chicken I wanted to grill (that same rub works fantastic on chicken, too).

Thirty minutes later, we were enjoying ribs without sauce-they didn't need it, as well as some really tender boneless chicken breasts. The best part is that I have leftovers to enjoy tomorrow, too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Invite With a Laugh

My academic department has a club, one that leans more towards socializing for networking, rather than formal events. After a time of it laying dormant, a friend now heads the group and is trying to organize parties and potlucks. Thus, an invite arrived in my email earlier this week.

I looked at the date, determined that it's almost two weeks after surgery and I'll probably be a bit stir crazy, so I RSVPed that the family would attend. On the eVite site, there's a little message board, and I asked for suggestions of what I could make.

The friend and I had chatted on Facebook already and I leaned towards making Strawberry Salad and Baked Ziti, two things that got raves each time I bring them and make the vegetarians happy (we seem to have many of them in our department-I eat enough meat to make up for them!). Not ten minutes after she and I had the conversation, someone else asks 'Ziti? Strawberry salad?'

Both items don't require a ton of work, so they're good for a recovering Suzanne to prepare. I can do them in stages over a couple of days, even. Better than doing pepperoni rolls or some of the other things I've made in the past.

Apparently, my major professor hadn't looked at the message board. He is known as a chow hound. A vegetarian, he has been known to eat meat if it is in food I make. Equal opportunity, he is. Anyway, he also sent me an eVite to this event and it made me laugh.

'Suzanne, you're invited! And could you bring some food?????!!!!!!'

Sure thing. How can I resist when I get not one, but two invites?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nap Time

Pain is an interesting thing.

I am tired all the time, probably because I am doing everything I can to give the students 100%, then spend several hours getting the technology stuff squared away. As soon as I get home, I end up napping for 2 to three hours.

Will the surgery fix this, too?

I sure hope so!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I visited the neurosurgeon yesterday. He seemed concerned about the numbness, and was relieved when I said that I wasn't waiting until the semester's end to have this surgery. Sooo, in just over a week, I'll go under the knife.

There are two routes to go with this, and the NS is actually going for the more conservative approach to preserve my range of motion. I'll be having a C5-C6 laminectomy, where the herniated disc will be removed, a curvature in my neck will be repaired, and a bone spur will be excised. I'll be in the hospital overnight and in a neck brace until the graft agent starts knitting properly.

This will get rid of the numbness ASAP. Apparently, that is a sign of permanent nerve damage, and Monday's EMG shows no issues, so we're nipping this at just the right time. However, I've been in some sort of pain for over three years, it'll be nice to leave it all behind.

Let's get this show on the road...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mr. Dunderbak's, Tampa

One of the Tampa restaurants we've been visiting since soon after moving to Florida has been Mr. Dunderbak's. Thanks to a chance stop in a downpour at Epcot when the boys were small (we're talking 2 and 5 here), we found that each of them loves German food, and as a result, we try finding more places serving wursts and spaetzle. After Gameteen's first visit at the current psych practice, we visited University Mall, where Dunderbak's was a surprise find, shoehorned into a storefront.

The've long since moved into a strip mall on Bruce B. Downs that has several quality restaurants, and several storefronts that lie vacant, but Dunderbak's has always been the draw for us. We pretty much plan that if GameTeen is seeing the doctor, we're having a German meal.

Operant conditioning came into play the other day, because I had the doctor's appointment, Ed needed to drop me off on the USF campus and GameTeen was with us-all factors that scream Dunderbaks meal for us. Then I realized that I never gave a review of the place for others, despite talking it up numerous times on Facebook. This fixes that oversight.

When you walk in the door, you feel like you are in a small, German festhaus. There are two rooms that flank the entrance, the one to the right has a bar, the one to the left a large table that is perfect for a party. Behind the host stand, though, is a larger dining area with festival style bench seats and several four tops dotting the room.

Honestly the draw for us probably would be their beer, but that would mean a designated driver, and we never seem to get that one ironed out. Someday we will. Some visit for their deli counter, some for the German sweets and wines. However, the menu alone is worth the drive.
It is a large menu, full of sandwiches to please the lunch crowd (with a few non-German choices if someone in your dining group doesn't care for it) and many traditional dishes from various regions of Germany. They brew many of their own beers, as well as Root Beer. If they don't have any on tap, they do have bottled root beer, but this is irresistable:
GameTeen's go to meal here is the brats, and this time he ventured out and had Nemberg bratwurst, one pork and the other veal. I didn't try these, but the accompanying sauerkraut was fantastic.

In a rare departure for me, I went for Der Alt Red Baron, something I only order take out. It's a roast beef sandwich with tomatoes, onions and a creamy garlic spread on pumpernickel, served warm. It's a hearty sandwich, simply prepared and very filling. My plan was to have leftovers to munch on during my class break later. If you go this route, you may want to have mints if you plan on breathing on anyone!

Meanwhile, Ed went for the Sauerbraten. Unlike some German restaurants around here that relegate this dish to once a week because it takes four days to prepare, Dunderbaks has it every day. This is probably the most tender I've had it, with the meat practically melting in your mouth! I'll be honest, I was regretting getting the sandwich when I would get whiffs of Ed's meal.
The sides are not an afterthought here, they are true German originals. Their red cabbage is top notch, slightly sweet, the pierogies are delicate, the potato pancakes lovely chunks of potato, but I went for a side of their warm potato salad. Sweet, but more vinegar flavor than sweet, it's tempting to lick the bowl after finishing the contents.

It is hard not to leave stuffed, but sometimes, I will opt for leftovers to get a slice of my favorite cake, which they make the right way, Black Forest Cherry cake. They soak the layers in Kirshwasser, as it should be. The whipped cream between the layers is fresh. So decadent that I usually don't want to share, either.

If you're in the mood for something different, and you're in Tampa, go to Dunderbak's. Heck, we drive over from Lakeland often enough, because we don't have anything like it nearby. Whether you want beer or a good, authentic German meal, they're ready to make you sing along with the German tunes (and on Friday nights, the accordion player). Prosit!

Mr. Dunderbak's on Urbanspoon