Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Galveston, Texas

I'm in Galveston, Texas, this week to attend the International Association of Drilling Contractors, carrying the banner for our Autodesk solutions into this new territory for our company.

As I like to describe it, I'm here to hobnob with the J.R. Ewings of the world. I've never been to Galveston, but I always hear about what a cute resort town it is, an island right on the Gulf of Mexico.

So far, it's not been so cute. It's late night on Halloween, and we did see some adorable kids running around the streets with their folks, going to local haunted houses in the plantation-style mansions, but mostly it's gas stations, convenience stores, and strung out people running in front of your car. Maybe it will look different during the day....

Texas is it's own "whole 'nother country". The people are so polite and gracious, but you never know what they might say about you when you leave the room. The hotel decor is always sentimental--it makes me pine for my 80s days of fuschia pleather tight pants, white flowing poet shirt, jellies, silver bangles, and big Jersey girl hairdo. It's not all bad, I suppose. You do get great stories and jokes out here. Like:

Once there was a Texan who was visiting Harvard and was lost. He stopped the first person he came to in the hall and said, "Can ya'll tell me where the libary is at?"

To which the affronted Harvard grad replied, "Sir, this is Harvard. At Harvard we never end our sentences with prepositions. Kindly rephrase your question."

"OK, can ya'll tell me where the libary is at, asshole?"

That's a nice one. I think I heard it over 10 years ago when I frequently traveled to Hill Country for a different job (between Austin and San Antonio). Ahhhhhhh, Texas. It seems I'll never be free from your bewitching spell.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What Does Your House Look Like?

We get this question a lot, followed by "you should post some photos...." We haven't done much with the house lately, but are expecting window coverings soon (no more butcher paper. Yay!). We chose some groovy Hunter Douglas shades. We'll post more photos when they're installed. In the meantime, this is the what the house looks like:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Recipe for Comfort Food

It's been great being home, so we've ventured to cook nearly every meal over the past few days vs. going out. Our most creative so far has been chopped veggie "junk" salad with an awesome light dressing (Jon's magic creation), and a bun-less, spicy burger: low-fat, grass-fed, Angus beef burger patties atop hearty mashed red potatoes, surrounded by the veggie of your choice (we chose peas and corn to give the dish a comfort food feeling. Plus it just looked and tasted good). I think we'll call this dish "Wannabehomealotta". It has a Hungarian ring, which reminds of us of other good comfort food meals like goulash and papprikash.... The whole meal took about 40 minutes to prepare, cook, and serve.


Chopped Junk Salad with Jon's Dressing (serves 2)

Chop the following and toss in large salad bowl:

1 cup red cabbage
4 medium carrots
1 large red bell pepper
1 cup mixed greens
1 cup cooked beets

For the dressing, whisk together in a small mixing bowl:

3/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

Drizzle over the salad and serve.

Wannabehomealotta (bun-less spicy burger over mashed potatoes and veggies)

1 lb. lean ground Angus or Kobe beef

2 cloves minced garlic or 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. mild red chile powder (New Mexico preferred, of course)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped oregano, basil, or 21 Seasoning Salute (available at Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine beef with remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Split mixture in half and form two 1/2 lb. patties with your hands. Heat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat, and once the skillet is hot cook patties for 5-10 minutes on each side, until you reach the meat temperature you like (5 minutes should be rare to medium, 7 minutes med-well, 10 minutes well).

Serve over a bed of mashed red potatoes (boil 1 lb. red potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they break or fall off a fork when tested; mash potatoes (skins on) with a fork or a potato masher in a large bowl with 3/4 cup milk and 4 Tbsp. salted butter, soft or melted). Add fresh cut corn and peas--or frozen if you wish--and voila! Enjoy!

Do you have a recipe you'd like to share with our blog community? Post a comment and include your recipe!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Back from San Francisco, and not traveling for a week or so. It's great to be home!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Are we living in a police state?

On the plane back from Oakland to Albuquerque, I read the article about Carol Anne Gotbaum, the depressed, alcoholic mother who threw a fit in the Phoenix airport due to being displaced from two flights on her way to rehab in Tuscon. She was eventually restrained, handcuffed behind her back and shackled to a bench in a holding cell where, within minutes, she strangled herself and was found dead.

I can't get over this story as I fly quite frequently, and see (and experience) lots of situations where someone--even I--could *snap* and be treated in the same manner. It worries me that our freedom seems to be getting smaller and smaller in this country. It makes me feel as if our terrorist enemies have certainly won at a virtual war that we don't even see taking place, a little bit of freedom lost day by day.

However, some argue that Carol Anne was a "drunk", she acted irrationally and dangerously. That she shouldn't have been traveling alone. I agree that she should have been supervised--friends were scheduled to escort her to her connection in Phoenix but they were delayed--but I'm more aghast at the actions of the police.

What do you think? Was she treated fairly? Should she have been detained in such a manner? Should the police have ordered medical attention for her, or left an armed guard in the room with her to prevent this tragedy? I'm curious if I'm alone in my thinking on this one.

Time for me to board the plane--off to San Francisco again for an Autodesk marketing summit. God forbid the airlines leave us on the runway for 12 hours, or deny someone a seat that they purchased, or TSA drags us randomly away in handcuffs against their best judgment....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Val in SF this week

I just completed two days of Construction Administration training for work, taught by a retired colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers, now an ASCE instructor at University of Kentucky. It was fascinating material about the risks and litigation involved in building the structures we live, work, and play in (and on) everyday. I'm fascinated with this industry--all of its intricacies and how thousands of pieces come together to define a "project" which then turns into a building. Or a bridge. Or an oil platform. Or a housing development. If architects, contractors, and owners streamlined their communication and worked more ethically, things like the Minneapolis bridge collapse wouldn't happen. It's an amazing industry to me, and learning things as I did this week makes me appreciate my job--marketing construction project collaboration tools for Autodesk, Inc.--even more.

It's strange being back in SF, but so far I don't regret moving to NM! It's fantastic being a tourist in this town: I get to stay at a trendy boutique hotel in the Financial District, jog on the Embarcadero every morning, get fresh coffee at Peet's in the SF Ferry Building, go to amazing dinners at the best new restaurants, and catch up with friends when I can sneak in some time.
Monday I had the honor of sharing lunch with my friend Bruce at Perbacco. We caught up on his new job at The Economist, and I got to hear about his upcoming trip to The Lost World in Venezuela, where several unique species of life abound--and are to be found nowhere else in the world (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a book titled The Lost World in 1912, which inspired Michael Crichton's 1995 novel by the same name, the sequel to Jurassic Park). The Lost World is so remote, you either have to scale mountains to get to the top of the tepuis--or mesas--or hire a helicopter to take you up and camp for several days in the remote wilderness. Looking forward to his stories and photos when he returns.
Monday evening I shared a cozy meal of comfort food at Presidio Social Club with Grace from work. While we waited at the bar for our cab to pick us up, the bartenders filled their downtime by introducing us to a digestif liqueur called Chartreuse. This pungent, bitter, electric green/yellow liqueur is infused with 130 Alpine herbs, plants and flowers, the recipe known only by 3 Carthusian monks in France, and therby passed down to the next 3 monks as a legacy. The ensuing 20 minutes at the bar became a very informative and interesting digestif tasting. We learned about Cynar (an Italian digestif made from artichokes--very bitter!), Angostura bitters, and the elixir of San Francisco bartender initiates: Fernet-Branca (ew--do not attempt tasting on its own!). We finished off with a time-tested reliever of the common tummy ache: Cynar bitters with Ginger Ale and a squeeze of lime. Not half bad!

Tuesday evening, I visited our friends Chris and Ivan at their beautiful new home in the Oakland hills. Their idyllic neighborhood must have been featured in the JC Penney catalog at some point--narrow, tree-lined streets full of crisp, yellow autumn leaves and Arts & Crafts-era houses each showing off their unique colors and accents. I'm so proud of them--their home is beautiful and their careers are burgeoning. Chris's company Doubleclick is en route to be acquired by Google. Can you say gazillionaire?!?! We spent the evening dining at Oakland's fairly new Tamarindo restaurant, which wasn't as much to write home about as we thought it would be but the company and pomegranate margaritas were outstanding, so not too much was lost.

We then returned to their house so I could preview decorations for their upcoming Halloween party. If their life-size, motion-detected Haunted Donna doesn't freak you out, you have nerves of steel my friend!

Wednesday I spent the day working in the San Francisco office. I fit in a lunch at one of my favorite sushi spots, Ozumo, and spent the evening at Jennet and Tom's house in Orinda. They're 6 months pregnant and have an adorable 2-year old, Jarret. Tom showed me the incredible new shed he spent the past 3 months building (more like a small house), and Jennet made us a healthful, home-cooked meal of oven-fried chicken and quinoa with fresh fruit for dessert. It doesn't get much better than that.

This trip was good for the soul for many reasons:

1) I learned a lot about the construction industry and my personal role in it

2) I had the opportunity to spend quality time with friends at lunch and in the evenings

3) I learned that I truly WANT what I HAVE. I sorely missed Jon, the cats, and our lovely home so much while in the Bay Area; an unexpected, but welcome reaction. I'm IMMENSELY happy to be home this weekend!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Breaking in da House!

This weekend we had a co-ed baby shower for our very, very good friends Jennifer and Jonathan Lucero. In fact, they were the ones who inspired us to begin our blog. They're due November 9th. Stay tuned for cute baby photos!

It was great breaking in the house with a lively party, full of friends, laughter, and FOOD! Jon grilled up some incredible ribs and chicken, and people brought lots of additional goodies for us to nibble on. Elisabeth, Jennifer's sister, baked and decorated two amazing cakes. She left us with some, and Val's been eating it all weekend. Can you say "sugar rush"?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wine, Food, and Golf...Life is Good!

Gorgeous, crisp autumn weather...excellent wine and food at every third hole...and a great couple in our foursome who were more interested in having fun than winning the tournament (like us)...a perfect day!

The 12th annual Gruet Golf Classic was part of the annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival. Gruet is a local family winery that began in France, specializing in excellent French-style champagne, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay--all sourced locally!

It was Val's first golf tournament. We had loads of fun, but no--we didn't win! Nevertheless, it was a great experience. We hope to do it again next year!

On the menu (each paired with a Gruet wine):

Hole #1: Carnitas with fresh salsas and homemade corn tortillas (La Plazeula Restaurant)

Hole #4: "Trash can" Angus beef burgers, topped with homemade cole slaw, lettuce, cucumber and sweet potato fries (Geronimo)

Hole #7: Alaskan halibut ceviche with habanero guacamole, salsa ranchera, salsa verde and mango salsa with fresh tortilla chips (Rio Chama)

Hole #10: Buffalo short rib taquitos with huitlachoche sauce and napa cabbage, quince & sundried cherry slaw (La Casa Sena)

Hole #15: Duck and asiago quesadillas with tropical mint salsa (Quail Run)

Hole #17: Asian crab cakes (Jinja)