Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our apologies...

To all of our loyal followers and devout readers (Hi Mom!), we'd like to apologize for our absence. The holidays took their toll and while the adventuring didn't exactly stop, it did slow down. We should be updating more frequently now, so here's to a new year and new adventures!  Our two newest posts are below, and be on the lookout for...ZOMBIES!

December 12, 2009: Puerto Rican Feast at John & Carrie's

Our friends John Cloud (often referred to by either his full name or just "Cloud" because well, his last name is so cool) and Carrie invited our little unit over for dinner. Not just any dinner, but a special Puerto Rican influenced feast! John who is a multi-talented artist and musician ( search Facebook for Frail Soul) has recently been learning the art of cooking in this style, which was initially prompted by a visit to the Bay Area's best, and perhaps only Puerto Rican restaurant, Sol Food. On a side note if you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and go (

Anyways, John made several dishes for us, including marinated chicken and tri-tip, rice and beans and a Puerto Rican specialty, mofongo!

We were truly impressed with the authentic flavors and lovely presentation. After we stuffed ourselves silly, we hung out enjoying each others company and got more familiar with John and Carrie's self proclaimed "zoo," including turtles, birds and a bunny. We also watched the most amazing episode of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" entitled "Rye Ruv Ru" for the first time and have since seen it multiple times. Check this out also!

It was a great pre-holiday gathering hanging out with awesome friends who showed us a wonderful time!  Thanks you two!

November 14, 2009: Graduation or Beer?

Our original plan was to attend cousin Steven's graduation in Sacramento, but this was somehow overshadowed by the discovery that The Bistro in Hayward was having their Barrel Aged Beer Festival. It sounded like a nice enough idea to me, but George was completely sold. He called Steven and said we would not be able to attend after all. Steven understood and said it sounded like more fun anyway. The deal was a glass and 10 "tastes" for $40. There was a sense of urgency in the air while getting ready and I was picking up on the nervous energy George was giving off. The event was from 11-7, meaning there were only 8 hours to accomplish the tastings. We arrived only slightly late at 11:30, and since it was almost noon it was an acceptable time to start drinking.

There were some delicious beers on tap but honestly we thought the tastes could have been a bit more generous. For $40 it should have been unlimited or larger portions.

We went through the 10 tastes fairly fast and then headed to Buffalo Bill's for a meal, which we very much needed. Unfortunately, we left our expensive glasses there, never to be seen again. Exasperated Sigh...

Feeling guilty and realizing we still had enough time to make it to the graduation, we called Michelle and Lina and asked them to pick us up so we could attend. George fell asleep in the backseat and the three of us sang mostly Michael songs and other classic pop hits for the duration of our trip. Michelle was surprised to learn that the lyrics to "Careless Whisper" are "guilty feet have got no rhythm" after going almost her whole life thinking it was something else. After our long voyage we finally arrived at our destination. The event was your standard, boring graduation but we were all happy to witness Steven on this important day.

As you can see Tech Skills spared no expense. 

Originally, our plan was to eat burgers at The Squeeze Inn, that plan was quickly smashed byt the fact that they close early on Saturday's! The nerve!  We then went to dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant to celebrate the occasion and were met by a few of Steven's friends. George's outrageous claims that sushi is not photogenic as Squeeze Inn burgers was debated by the SAS official photographer Lina, who continued to take pictures despite the discouragement.

What says you? (Burger photo courtesy of Jeff Pidgeon)

With a long ride ahead of us we left at a reasonably early hour and headed home.
Tushy Cheeks?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de Los Sugar Skulls!: Saturday October 24th 2009

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I believe this would have been the case had procrastination not played a part in this past Saturday. However, since we scrounged things up at essentially the last minute, the day couldn’t have gone any better! In your face Robert Burns!

Dia de Los Sugar Skulls was planned almost 45 days in advance, but we waited until Wednesday, October 21st to buy the supplies necessary to fashion the skulls. A lot of sugar, a little bit of water and meringue powder, and about 2 hours, resulted in the creation of 24 sugar skulls total. Margaret and Drew made medium skulls, I made large ones and they were all dried and ready to go by Saturday morning.

Justine and I spent the early hours of the morning scrounging up some Halloween themed viewing options, the last of the supplies for Painkillers, and enjoying another delicious breakfast at JD’s. Before setting off for Casa de Lina, we stopped at Buffalo Bills Brewery to fill our growlers with their delicious Pumpkin Ale. I called earlier to ensure it was on draught and we were assured it was. But it wasn’t…BUNK. Perhaps, this is what Mr. Burns was referring to, but he probably didn’t count on us just getting Johnny Midnight Oatmeal stout instead. Again, in your face Robert Burns!

12:45pm saw our arrival at Casa de Lina, we set up the table for our artistic venture, and promptly began drinking and awaiting the arrival of the rest of our merry crew. Drew and Margaret arrived soon after, laden with sugar skulls, decoration supplies, and brownies. We vowed to wait for Michelle’s arrival before beginning, but she took too long buying the makings for Cheeseburger Lasagna, so we began with some minor sugar skull decorating.

Upon Michelle’s arrival the decorating and drinking went into full throttle.

Universal's 1931 monster classic Dracula was the first movie to play as we feverishly decorated skulls. Thanks to Margaret and Drew, we had sequins, ribbon, red pipe cleaners, beads, necklaces, paint, glue, and the all important Royal Frosting (sugar glue) to aid in the decoration. We also fashioned paints out of white cake frosting, food coloring, and water, creating some unique colors and consistencies. Paint brushes in one hand, Painkillers in the other, we all worked hard to share our artistic vision in the form of molded skull shaped sugar.

We were even fortunate enough to have Richard’s daughter, Solei, join us briefly, but with enough time to decorate a skull of her own. Movies were changed periodically, dinner was prepared and cooked by Lina, and decorating went on well into the evening. The Cheeseburger Lasagna was the meat-cheesiest and we all ate too much. We capped the evening off with a group viewing of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and an attempt at viewing Creepshow 2. An attempt only because we had some early retirees, but that’s to be expected, despite Robert Burns’ presumptions we had exhausted our artistic creativity, two Cheeseburger Lasagnas, a growler of Oatmeal Stout, and some Painkillers. IN YOUR FACE!

The aftermath...

I will dedicate the rest of this week’s blog to pictures of our efforts, and brief descriptions where appropriate.
At one point Drew had an insaciable craving for brai...err, pure sugar, so he decided to take a bite out of the head of a skull.  Where the rest of us saw a bite out of a sugar skull, Margaret saw a creative opportunity.  Zombie Skull:

When the day was concieved I had only an artistic knowledge of Sugar Skulls, and was unaware of their purpose. I had fully anticipated the opportunity to eat the completed skulls, but you're really not supposed to (DREW!). The purpose of a Sugar Skull is to honor a loved one who passed away. It becomes a vessel for that loved one to return on Dia de Los Muertos, November 1st & 2nd.  I decided to make two sugar skulls for loved ones that passed away. The first was one for my Mom:

I also made one for my cat Cheeto, who passed away earlier this year. It was less traditional and more "on model":

Last, I did one just for fun, not a representation of anybody, just a chance to paint with sugar, onto sugar.  A skull made and left undesignated becomes a vessle for somebody who didn't have a skull made for them perhaps?

Justine decided to honor the King of Pop with her sugar skull, and she went deep too. Half represents who he wanted to be, the other represents what the public saw.

Lina made a sugar skull to honor her mother as well. A sharp wit, an unforgettable sense of humor, and of course, super fancy!

Lina made some other skulls as well:

Margaret's skulls were an artistic and creative inspiration for all of us. All of them traditional and modern all at the same time. We desperately wanted to copy her, but we wouldn't have come close:

Drew's skulls were simple and sweet (no pun intended). He accidentally created the fantastic Sno-Cone skull, and his Wizard/Pilgrim skull took shape over hours, until he perfected it.

Michelle took the reigns of a full colored skull tecnique that really wowed us. She was happily in her own place making her decorations with a big smile on her face the whole time. She also discovered that the purple sparkly (non-sugar base) paint ate sugar...

Richard couldn't spend the day making skulls with us, but his late entry is inspired!