Monday, August 26, 2013

Shark-a-Palooza 2013!

Shark-a-Palooza 2013 was nothing short of EPIC. Some events are just destined for greatness, and thus rewarded by "annual recurrance" status - this was one for the history books! Guests showed up with shark bites, tourist hats, lifeguard towels, shark was super! The menu was extra shark-tastic and included the following:

Shark Cake (3D Chocolate Shark... eating a boat! A Lauren Alford Gluten Free Original!!)
Shark Fin Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes, filled with Raspberry Jam....covered with teal frosting and topped with a fondant shark fin- Gluten Free, of course)
Shark teeth (peanut butter filled Bugle Corn Chips, dipped in White Chocolate)
Crawfish (from Louisiana Seafood Company, in Portland, Oregon)
"Goldfish" crackers in a "Sea" of blue M&Ms
Shark Jello Shots
Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

The dogs were decked out in their Shark outfits, and Benicio the Betta Fish was up and at 'em! I reluctantly donned the ridiculous Shark Dress that I had ordered online...that had showed up a few days earlier in an ENVELOPE. That says something about a) the sheerness of the fabric, and b) the general tiny-ness of the dress itself. I was literally in shock that a DRESS would arrive in an ENVELOPE, as opposed to a package. But damn it, I wasn't going to NOT wear it. 

"Who's your friend?", you might ask. That's Maximillian the Remote Controlled Air Shark.
Jerin had ordered him on Amazon, and on the day of the party I took him down to the grocery store to bring him to LIFE! With helium. 
Ashley and Jerin and I were like three awesome engineers trying to attach all his fancy sensors and fins, etc. Until finally....

Everyone had a blast "swimming" Max around the party! He had such realistic movements. He even snuck up on Travis and Dan...Jerin had the good sense to be terrified!! We watched a stellar cinematic masterpiece called "Bait - cleanup on aisle 7", about a tsunami that floods a grocery store, bringing with it a great white shark....and MAYHEM! 
It was a fun filled, crazy evening of Landshark Beer, Shark Pinatas, and general merriment!

Lauren also demonstrated how to properly disarm an angry shark....punch it in the face!!

We also had a shark poster, where you could get your photo taken! Amelia thought it was the most fun ever!

And the grand finale- a group shot of the party crew! 
Seriously, I can't wait for Shark-a-Palooza 2014...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Panic at the Disco!

....well, more like "Panic at Toyota".

I'm lounging while my car is getting it's 15,000 mile service. It's awesome.

I guess there is a chance all this relaxation that I'm doing might all be ruined.... if I at some point get handed a huge bill for a million things wrong with the car. BUT, let's not be negative. For now, I'm basking in the glory of the Wi-Fi and flat screen equipped Toyota Café, and have enjoyed a plate of delicious scrambled eggs, perfectly crisped bacon, average fruit cup! (still too much melon, and not enough ...fruit that's NOT melon) Did I mention that they have a fitness center?

This whole experience would of course be better if I didn't feel like I was having an anxiety attack. would most definitely be better if I wasn't ACTUALLY having this anxiety attack. I am pretty convinced these feelings are directly related to Gilenya. I've never in my life, prior to starting Gilenya last September, felt anxious or had racing heart rate, and the shakes. Now it's been happening more and more frequently. Talking to other people who are also taking Gilenya, I'm finding that I'm definitely not the only one. In fact, I'm learning that more and more people are going OFF Gilenya, for this reason. I wonder knowing that is making my issues worse...even the idea of NOT being on Gilenya makes me super upset.

Eeek. Shaky hands freak me out. (especially when they are mine). And feeling faint and "strange" conjures up terrible memories of vestibular, that's NOT helping this situation.

Mind over matter is a tricky concept. I'm noticing that I'm yawning. Not just "stretch n' yawn", but many yawns back to back. Since yawning in dogs can be an indicator of anxiety, I did some research on the internet (as I was panicking and yawning, haha). Apparently it is the same for humans, AND is a natural bodily response to a panic attack, as we might feel like we aren't getting enough air. Seems intuitive enough, as the heart begins to race, and we're feeling faint...but the following fact might help calm things down - the body normally takes pretty shallow breaths. When we yawn, particularly if we are yawning repeatedly (as I was doing just now in the Café at Toyota!) we take in too much oxygen, which contributes to hyperventilation. It's really hard to tell oneself anything, really, when you feel like you're about to faint, and your hands are shaking etc. Talking to Lauren right now, is definitely helpful (yay friends, and yay internet!) and I'm glad I found the article on yawning!

The woman just called and said my car was ready. I feel better, so I'm going to gather my things, drop off my tray, and go pick up my car. This anxiety attack was broadcast live from Acton Toyota, most definitely brought to you by Gilenya!

What this blog was supposed to be about, was how awesome this Toyota dealership in Littleton, MA is. They are SO efficient, and the whole process from the time you bring your car through their automatic "garage-like" doors (that fly up at a million miles per hour) is totally streamlined. A valet checks you in, your name appears on a screen inside, and within 10 minutes I was called to the desk, and handed my breakfast voucher. Everything is so nice and clean, and everyone is so very nice! Barring random anxiety attacks, that have nothing to do with Toyota, this is such a pleasant experience!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boston Ice Cream Takedown

I've learned that you can accelerate the ripening of peaches by putting them in a paper bag, and clipping or folding it shut. I'm investigating whether or not this will work for avocados... Ideally, it would make the rock hard avocados ready for....dinner in an hour. ;-) And here is where I found the answer:

I've also learned that Bourbon is a perfect spouse for oven-roasted peaches, and their love child is...a delicious frozen custard! Add some "Trader Jaques Salted Caramel Sauce", and happiness is unavoidable! I considered several other flavors, like Goat Cheese and Fig, or Tiramisu Ice Cream....or Avocado Ice Cream....those were all confined to the back burner for The Boston Ice Cream Takedown 2013!!!

So, for this my second takedown challenge - the first one was the Meatball Challenge earlier this year- I secured 3 ice cream makers with a total of 5 bowls for the freezing. I figured it's really the BOWLS that make it possible to "mass produce"... since they need to be frozen at all times, it's helpful to have several to switch out! It was my first time making "ice cream for public consumption", in any type of large quantity. But golly gee, was it fun! It was also VERY helpful that Ivy was visiting this weekend - she was an amazing asset!! It was really great to spend some time with her - it had been a long time since we had seen each other.

The Takedown was fantastic, as usual. I told the organizer Matt Timms, that I've definitely become addicted to doing these events. It really isn't all about winning when you're surrounded by fun and friendly people who all are in it to have a good time doing something wacky and interesting! I'm really proud of my Tipsy Peach Ice Cream, and the compliments and consumer responses made me confident that it really WAS a success! I plan on posting the recipe, but as usual, I cook and bake like my Grandmother ("a little bit of this...a little bit of THAT....add some more of this....") and need to get it down on paper.

Note Organizer/Host Genius, Matt Timms looking pensive in the photo above!

Lauren placed 3rd for "People's Choice" which is fantastic! She had the most adorable set-up with a beach theme for her "Key Lime Pie Ice Cream" - it was totally a melt-in-your-mouth, refreshing, perfectly balanced pie-in-a-scoop! :-)
The team to our left had a very novel flavor of Curry & Saffron, which had a gorgeous rich yellow color!

The team to our right had "S'more Beer Please" Ice Cream....with Marshmallow Fluff, and Graham Crackers! I love how events like this draw out some seriously creative folks! Loved their beer-bottle/marshmallow decor!

I feel like I've run a marathon. Not that I would ever voluntarily run a obviously I'm just making things up, and speculating....I'm so incredibly tired. And tomorrow is Monday again! They just keep coming...!!! However, the light at the end of the tunnel is the arrival of Bestest Cousin Martin and his wife Paulina, from Sweden! In their honor, I'm throwing a party on Friday - "Shark-a-palooza", since Martin and I have a long running joke about shark week. As with most of our jokes, it has mutated into a full blown obsesssion...This party will have a shark pinata....a huge remote controlled helium filled shark....shark costumes for the pets....the list goes on, and I'm sure you'll be AMAZED at the photos that will be posted, come Saturday....with an entire chapter dedicated to how emotionally conflicted I am about the Shark Dress I ordered....stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fruit Imbalance & Spine Surgery!

In any given fruit cup....there is ALWAYS too much melon, and not enough pineapple. (I can't claim that this is an original rant, because at some point in the past I was witness to someone else complaining publicly about this gross fruit imbalance!) It just became painfully relevant as Lauren and I are sitting at the hospital waiting for Travis to come out of his back surgery. This fruit cup between us is seriously 1/2 honeydew, 1/4 rock solid pineapple pieces SO sour that our faces fell off, and 1 delicious grape (which we shared). #getmoremalereaders...

We are having way too much fun. (More fun than Travis, I'm sure....!) Everyone in this little cafe hates us. We are about to embark on a "Get Well Travis" Adventure. We've written a message on a piece of paper and are going to make random personel hold it and take photos. Like this one: 

Travis is now out of surgery, and from the sounds of it, all went really well! He's doesn't even have to stay here overnight! Hopefully this was the procedure that will end the pain once and for all. He's been dealing with this for over 15 months! While any surgery on the spine is scary, but with the orhtroscopic methods they use, I'm sure they've minimized risk and maximized positive results! 

Wishing you a speedy recovery, Travis!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eye, Eye, Matey!

Har har. That title is so stupid, I can't believe I'm going to leave it...but right now, I can't think of anything better. (OR worse.)

I am having a strange eye sensation. It feels like my right eyeball has a personal air conditioner blowing right at it. I'm totally going to self-diagnose right now, and say that caused by lack of sleep, and stress. Those things have their own causes, such as "large orange cat", and "exhorbitant flight fares around Christmas time".
To those of you who might have found this blog through a search for "Gilenya" or other MS terms...Yes, I do suppose "macular edema" will always be on the table for as long as I'm taking this medication, but I seriously doubt that would be the main course at this time, all things considered.

I'm trying to book a flight to get back to the Bay Area for the holidays. Terence, having started his residency last month (only thirty five months to go!!!), doesn't know whether or not he'll be able to have the time off. The pet-sitter needs to be booked...well... yesterday. No sense in booking if Terence is going to have to stick around. Bummer to be stuck without a sitter if Terence does NOT have to stick around. Tickets, not unlike the pet-sitter, pretty much needed to be booked EONS ago. Ticket prices have SOARED. It's upsetting.

Lots of things happening. I applied to a local college to see if I can get started on a Psychology degree. Not because I really NEED more things to do, but because I think it would be extremely interesting. I was accepted for the fall semester, and just need to see how much it would cost, etc.

Lauren and I are one week away from the Boston Ice Cream Take-down....she has created a fantastic Key Lime Ice Cream, and I'm churning out some Peach Burbon Creamy goodness. The timing is the hardest part, as we have to make 2 gallons. I wish I could magically conjure up 6 ice cream makers to increase the likelyhood of ALL the ice cream tasting....roughly the same?

Terence was off yesterday! We took this glorious and unique opportunity to jet down to Newport, RI for a morning cruise on the harbor. I had researched what activities were dog friendly in the area, and came up with Gansett Harbor Cruises. We definitely had a nice time, and lots of people were delighted to see dogs on board. The Captain? Not so much. He went so far as to make the statement "not everyone loves dogs", when we were trying to get a picture with Sara and Amelia. We did leave a generous tip...of fur. But in all seriousness, if a Cruise Company claims to be dog friendly...they should really get behind that claim. Maybe designate an area...

It was Sara's first trip on a boat! Aside from the "less-than-enthused-captain", she really had a good time! It was a really lovely family-day!!

Hey! We're on a boat! Makes the dumb "Eye, Eye, Matey" title of this blog, just a tad funnier...!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The General Knowledge of "General Knowledge"

It's way too late to call this post anything but Daily Chatter. I'm so sleepy I can't even be responsible for what I'm writing, really....

We suffered a terrible defeat at Trivia tonight, in Waltham. It was a bad scene. On the one hand, it was discouraging that we didn't have the knowledge required to win...but on the other hand, I guess I should feel positive that there apparently are enough knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals roaming around the area, to shove us into second to last place. Miserable! I guess a third option would be to assume that everyone else is cheating!!

That's my favorite option. Cheaters, the lot of  'em! Especially that guy who kept staring at us. I wanted to throw my water at him to rinse that smug grin off his face. He and his friend were at least 4 pitchers of beer deep, and still managed to beat us...Absolument incroyable! Maybe we weren't drunk enough...

Alas, we will brush ourselves off (and find a new trivia location!) and try again in two weeks. I'm just grateful that we are not a sports team, because as the self-appointed manager, I'd have been fired by now! We must have had beginner's luck in Woburn that first night! I wonder if I can find some program online that just rambles off random infinite number of questions....just to increase my "general knowledge of general knowledge". I'll have to investigate. If nothing else, we had some delicious ice cream, and confirmed that 1) Mug Root Beer has a dog mascot, 2) the "Post" brand makes fruit loops, honey bunches of oats and grapenuts cereals, and ...well, we need to read up on our Norwegian Olympic Figure Skaters, Inagrual Hall of Fame Blues Performers....and movie tag lines for every movie ever made. And I guess HTC isn't the same as "Android".

There were some clever team names, I must admit. "Bed, Bath, & Beyonce", was clever. As was "Putin on the Ritz." That one could have been improved upon by changing to "Putin on the Fritz", since Putin is being such a pill over in Russia...granting asylum to the cowardly traitor, Snowden, and hating on homosexuals. I really don't blame the President for canceling his Russia/Putin trip, in favor of a stop in Sweden.

I really think it's so ironic that Snowden ends up in RUSSIA. He thinks OUR government is "spying on us too much"? OUR government is "too controlling"....well, obviously, you belong in Russia, where people are free to speak out against their government without fear....oh

Have a good vacation. Hope you end up pedaling a generator in Siberia. Good riddance.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Introducing the "For the Love of Pets" category!

So, I've now created a sub-header of topics that I play around with in this blog. I'm going to write a little bit in each category to see if I've accomplished my goal! This is a category devoted to my beloved pets! 
Here is the line-up!

Sara is 3 years old (to the best of our knowledge!). She had a few questionable owners in the past, but when I saw her beautiful face on the Peace & Paws website, I knew she had to come to her "forever home" with us. She was fostered by some truly wonderful human beings, Michael and Morgan, and we love it when they come and visit us. Sara goes absolutely nuts with sheer joy!! (As do we!)

Kosmo is approximately 8 years old, and has been with me since I saw him sleeping in his litterbox at a Petco adoption fair in Sunnyvale, CA. He was an absolute wreck on his journey to Boston, but that's a story for another time! Kosmo LOVES food, and HATES moderation. He is very handsome, and can be the sweetest cat...when he isn't howling or harassing us at 3am...

Littles and Chloe came into my life as part of the "Veterinarian Husband Package". They are litter-mates and showed up at Terence's vet a paper bag. Chloe kind of holds a grudge against the world, but sometimes (as in the photo above) will let her brother get close. She does NOT like Kosmo...but Kosmo LOVES her. Littles has some issues with indiscriminate consumption of non-food items. It's a problem. I've lost countless garments and shoes, and bed sheets, and towels... to his ravenous and strange appetite. But we love him so very much. :-) It's good to have a veterinarian in the house though, when the projectile vomit begins...

Amelia is not really a dog. She is more like... an alien from a very peaceful civilization. She is the smartest, and the most gentle being imaginable. Amelia is a  certified Good Canine Citizen, and also has her Therapy Dog License, to go out into the world and make it a better place through love and snuggles. She has traveled the world like the jet setter glamour princess that she is, and was the ring bearer at our wedding. She is my first dog, and is a friend to everyone...except small children. And bicycles. She can pick up the toys that Sara throws around the room....and put them back in the basket when it's time for clean-up.

We also have....Benicio! He is named after Benicio del Torro, because he is a bad a** mo-fo! He is agressive and awesome, and even though he can't come out an play with the other kids....we love him so much and he is just as much a part of the family!