Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break '09 - New Orleans!!

We were in New Orleans last week for Andy's spring break. At least Andy, Sam and I were. Otto stayed behind to work and save up vacation time, but he did get to go skiing both weekends!

The rest of us had a great time. It was too short. But we did manage to visit family and many friends; always wish we could have seen MORE friends, but I think we did pretty well for mainly only being there during the week.

We started our first morning off right with a visit to Morning Call for some beignets with my mom's husband, Bill. (Mom wasn't feeling well that morning.)

Sam took this picture.

On the way to get beignets, we stumbled upon the staging area for the Irish Italian Parade, so we went back to check things out after we ate.

I think the float riders were ready to get rolling, because several of them called the boys over to throw them stuff. They got thrown some fishing lures, stuffed elks dressed in doctor uniforms, Pop-Ice, beads, balls, and more. Bill even arranged for a moment ON a float.

After we could hold no more throws, dropped Bill off at the house to be check on Mom, then picked Dad up and went to have a po-boy at Parkway. (Yes, not long after the beignets, but I was ready.)
We then went to City Park to ride some rides. They've added a lot of rides since we were here last (pre-Katrina).

The boys had a blast - and I had fun, too!

The next day we went to the Quarter with Auntie Claire. Taking in the warmth of the sun on Decatur.

Chillin' at square Jackson Square.

And my lunch at Napolean House.

Auntie Claire doing a fine job holding Andy and Sam still for a picture after some post-meal tussling.
That evening we had a lovely dinner at Rick and Jo Ann's house, with Kathryn, Russell, and Dean. Homemade calzones, mmmmm. Sorry I forgot to take the camera out! And sorry we missed Dina, who was out of town for some training.

Then next day we headed to the Audubon Zoo with Dad and Claire. We started at the new dinosaur exhibit (which I think is a traveling exhibit). Most of the dinosaurs are automated, and really neat to watch. Here's Sam with the Triceratops.

I don't remember what this one is, but it spits at you!
And this evening we ate at Taqueria Corona (one of my favorite restaurants) with Sam and Abbie, who I haven't seen in ages! It was so very nice to visit with them, but do you think I remembered to take the camera out?

Mom, Bill, and Andy back at their newly-renovated house later that evening, which they've done a really great job with!

The next morning we met Ellen and Jack at Danneel Park and had fun playing on the fire truck and swings. And I forgot to take the camera out, again. I think I'm so busy enjoying people's company that I forget to take pictures. At least that's my excuse. Later we caught lunch with Nicole at Tulane. Thank goodness she asked if I had my camera! Sam took a picture. There's the newly renovated UC behind us.

And then we went for a ride on the streetcar.

Bye, Streetcar.
I had dinner that night with Heidi at a yummy Vietnamese restaurant on the Westbank while the boys stayed with Nana. And I sure do wish I had taken a picture with her. But I did get to talk to her mom on the phone!

The next morning we did some laundry at Dad's, then headed out to Camellia Grill for lunch after Claire got off work.

For dinner, we met Jackie, Benny, and Brittney over on the Westbank for dinner at the Alligator Pear. A fairly new restaurant in a fairly new shopping area that seriously felt like South Florida! It was so good to see them; it had been way too long. You're waiting for a picture, aren't you?

We had to get one more order of beignets before we left town. So Friday morning we headed to Morning Call again.

And we did make it to Mandina's the last night we were there.

Sam ordered the spaghetti and MEATBALL.

Our last hurrah was dodging puddles in City Park (it had rained somethin' fierce the night before) to try out the new playground equipment after dinner.

So I've found some gaping holes with my photo-documentation (friends, please forgive me - I'm truly kicking myself!), but hopefully the pictures we did take give you a taste of the wonderful time we had. Can't wait to go back!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pasta anyone?

This is all Jaime Oliver's fault. I've caught his show a couple times now on Sunday evening with him gallivanting around Italy's countryside, getting cozy with the locals, them cooking for him, then him cooking for them.

In the last episode I saw, he made a wild boar ragu for the town's festival, and was entered into a pasta-making contest with many of the local grandmothers (nonnys?). So I thought, "Mmmmmm homemade pasta sounds good. If those grandmas can make it in the middle of town square, then I can certainly make it in the comfort of my own kitchen." Yeah.

The producers of the show edited out way more kneading and rolling time than I suspected.

Sam, my always-willing kitchen assistant.

Twisting our pseudo-fusilli.

And we were still working on it when Andy came home from school!

And still twisting.

All finished, finally. Those grandmas must have MASSIVE forearm and back muscles. I was sore the next day.

And paired with the homemade ragu. Cow rather than wild boar in this case, but VERY tasty.

The noodles turned out too thick despite my efforts to make the sheet of pasta dough as thin as possible. If I attempt this again, I think I'll invest in one of those crank pasta-thinner gadgets. They were tasty, just too thick. But rest assured, I didn't let ONE piece of pasta go to waste.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are you running the latest version...?

Here's some good info from my friend on fairly easy and important computer maintenance. You can see this post on his blog here, but to save you a click, he gave me permission to copy and paste! (It seems the screen shot below is being truncated due to my formatting, so you may want to go over to his blog anyway.) From Derek:

A couple of months back I installed Google Analytics on the web site as an experiment. Analytics collects various information about who visits the site, what browser you use, what pages you visit, if you got here via a search engine what search terms got you here, and other interesting stuff. I'm an information junkie and love sifting through this type of information.

One of the things it reports is the version of Adobe's Flash Player installed. Since I work with computers and try and keep with the latest goings on in the security front I feel I need to tell you it's time to update your flash player.

Why does it matter you might wonder? Virus writers and purveyors of spyware exploit vulnerabilities in software that lots of people use. Things like Flash Player, Acrobat Reader, Internet Explorer, Windows, etc. A couple of weeks back Adobe released an update to Flash to address a vulnerability Players and earlier which can allow attackers to take complete control of the affected machine.

Based on my Google Analytics results 93% of users visiting here in the last two weeks are running outdated flash versions. Nine different versions in fact.

How can you figure out what version of flash your running? Go to Adobe's web site at the following link:

and it will show you the version you have installed. Here's a screen shot:
If the version you have installed doesn't match the version you should be running then upgrade from the following link:

The installation should be pretty straight forward. I use Firefox and my install was to download the install program, close my browser and run the installation. Once you have upgraded go back to the about web site and verify that your installed version has been upgraded.

This is also where I warn you never to install flash from any web site other then Adobe. If you surf your way onto a site that tells you your running an old version of flash don't believe them, check with the official Adobe site and verify. A very popular phishing technique is to tell you your running an old version and provide you with a convenient download to upgrade but it's actually just spyware. Any reputable site will direct you to Adobe's site to get the correct version if you really are running and outdated version.

Once you've upgraded flash go ahead and upgrade Adobe's Acrobat reader if you use it for reading pdf files. On Wednesday they released version 9.1 which fixes a number of critical vulnerabilities . You can get that here:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eleven years.

Our 11th anniversary was this past Saturday.

(Photo cred: Andy)

We started the day with buttermilk banana pancakes. Sam helping to stir the batter.

They were REALLY good. Both Otto and I forgot to get the other a card, but since it was even Steven, neither of us was upset about it. Besides, those pancakes were so good it was hard to be upset about anything.

Let's see, I picked up the house and vacuumed while Otto took the boys out to buy them their own skis. We've rented them so many times now it would have been more cost effective to have bought them to begin with, but I guess hindsight is 20/20. So now we have them ready for the remainder of this season, and hopefully a couple more to come.

Happy Anniversary, us!! Eleven down, 50 more to go??

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Otto!

Otto's birthday was last Friday. He turned 35 - wow! He spent the day on the annual Dow Social Club ski trip (this year to Lake Louise) so we didn't celebrate until he came home at around 8 o'clock that night. But once he did come home, he was treated to some fabulous cake!

This is the same cake I made for him last year. He liked it so well that he requested it again! Yellow cake with raspberry jam in the middle, covered in bittersweet chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

And after cake, he opened his cards and gifts. Double nine dominoes and U2's latest CD!

Happy Birthday - we love you!