Why can’t I seem to get rid of this blog?

I mean, i don’t do anything with it so why have it? yet when it comes time to renew the domains, i do it. When there is an update to WordPress, i apply it. And now, i have transferred the whole thing so that WordPress is managed within my provider’s cpanel.

What kind of sickness is this that i have, writing out a post no one will read?

One mo’gain: The road to fiscal responsibility.

Here I am again, trying to implement the annual new year’s resolution of living within a budget. Every year I fail miserably but every year I get back up on that horse and try again.

Last year I purchased “You Need a Budget” (YNAB) and was very ambitious about entering all the data I could for as far back as I could and and drowned under the weight of the volume of the numbers. I could never get caught up to current and so gave up. This year I upgraded to the latest version of YNAB and I am back at it, but now I am only going back to the first of the year so that I have a hope of getting caught up.

We have way more outgoings this year with 2 car payments and a wee little one that we feel compelled to keep surrounded by battery operated plastic toys. Even with that I am hopeful that this is the year we get it under control. Wish us luck, pray for us; we need all the help we can get!

Relationships require commitment…

I think I forget that . Maybe I just assume they will maintain themselves by virtue of past shared experiences but time has proven that friendships fade when not tended to. And to call someone a friend and to not invest that time, what does that communicate to that person you call ‘friend’ when you don’t invest the time?

To my old friends who haven’t heard from me in a while, so, a long while, know I still love you and I will try and do better.

Back from Galena.

So we just got back and our puppy Sookie missed us terribly. Well, she isn’t a puppy anymore as her first birthday was on March 20th and according to the bag of dog food that we bought, made especially for one year old and plus, she if now an “active adult”. Dogs must skip the awkward teenage years, as well as the preteen and young adult phases we humans go through. Sounds like a blessedly simple life.

Did you know that Galena is the 3rd most visited city in Illinois? Right behind Chicago and Springfield (Lincoln’s home town). Anyways, it’s a great place to visit, we can highly recommend it.

The last 2 places of note that we ate at in Galena were Fried Green Tomatoes on Monday night and the Perry Street Brasserie on Tuesday.

First, Fried Green Tomatoes (FGT)… we had to order the signature appetizer for which the place is named and it was very tasty. I did not expect the tomatoes to be crunchy. They were breaded, fried, covered in a marinara sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. It was very good but we probably should not have gotten it cause there was just so much food served. Every entree comes with soup and salad, served in courses, with a loaf of bread. By the time the entree comes out you’re getting full. Not to worry the main course is so tasty you forget you are not hungry. Heather is a fettuccine alfredo connoisseur and says that the measure of a good italian restaurant can be discerned by their alfredo sauce. I don’t know about that but I like my alfredo cheesy, not just creamy. i am no connoisseur, I am just speaking for myself but I think the flavor of the cheesy gives the sauce it’s distinctive taste and the alfredo at FGT had distinctive taste 🙂 My seared scallops were divine though I must confess that a little butter sauce on scallops isn’t that complicated, I love it. Scallops are easily my favorite seafood and FGT’s offering was delicious. Heather absolutely loved the peanut butter dessert they had though i was really too full to properly appreciate it. It was like a creamy, thick peanut butter mousse with a cookie crust on the bottom and gnash on the top.

Far and away my favorite place was the Perry Street Brasserie. Aside from their awesome food, they have this interesting collection of monumental brass, a very large collection from what the back of the menu tells us. The father and son team that own the place and run it were very personable and made the meal that much more enjoyable. But the main thing is that “dad” can cook and I mean he’s a top rate chef. And it does not seem that he knows any limits as he cooks the dinners and the desserts and both are amazing.

The sample menu at the website is just that, a sample. Their menu changes monthly. Heather had the NY strip and though she had them cook it medium well it still tasted good, i had to have a couple of bites:) They put this sauce on it, I don’t know what it was but man it was delicious. I had the duck with lamb tenderloin. Now I have been disappointed many times with duck and only ordered it because I was feeling daring, assuming the price they were charging inferred they knew how to prepare it. I was not disappointed this time, it was fabulous. The tenderloin practically melted in my mouth, need I say more?

You could tell that everything was crafted with care right down to the side dishes. We had the pecan encrusted potato croquette, and wow. I’ll say it again, delicious.

The pièce de résistance of the evening was the desserts. Heather had their signature dessert, the chocolate cup, ’cause, well, it’s chocolate and man oh man the dark chocolate ganach was richer and creamer then most anything I have ever had. I had the Banofti tart, apparently the Queen’s favorite dessert. It has a creamy English toffee, banana slices, and Kahlua mousse in a large tart shell, mmmm…

An aside, I haven’t talked any about alcohol. Sorry, I am just not a wine drinker. I have tried to learn about it in the past but I prefer beer. Good beer, not that swill sold by the case at the convenience store. I only had a couple during trip and the only of note was what I had at the Brasserie. It is called Red Seal Ale by the North Coast Brewing Company and I found it tasty. It had a nice bitter to it that I like in my ales and I found it a very satisfying compliment to the meal.

And that about ends my comments on our trip to Galena. I know it was mostly about food, but we really didn’t do much else beside some shopping and catching up on movies. That was purposeful, both Heather and myself just wanted to go somewhere and relax, enjoying each others company and giving ourselves room for being lazy. Mission accomplished!

A final note, I want to give out another plug for the Bernadine’s Stillman Inn. It is a great place to stay. Dave, the proprietor is a really friendly guy and the place has a really homey feel to it. “Like going to visit your grandparent’s house when you are little” kind of comfortable and familiar is what Dave remarked that some have said and I have to agree.

More Galena…

Did you know that Ulysses S. Grant lived in Galena, working at his father’s leather good store before joining up with the union in the civil war?

Also, they tell me Galena got it’s name from the natural mineral of the same name that is otherwise known as lead sulfide. (Wikipedia link.) This is because, you guessed it, this is what was the area’s chief export in it’s initial heyday of the early 19th century.

Ok, on to the important stuff. we scored with the restaurant selection since Saturday night. Bernadine’s Stillman Inn serves up a tasty breakfast daily so that’s covered. Yesterday we went to lunch at Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy and in word, since i am not a review, nummy. Heather had shells stuffed with ricotta in an alfredo sauce and I had one of the house specialties, the seafood italiano i think it was called, whic had shirmp, scallops, lobster, etc… covered in cheesy goodness. We followed it up with dinner at a new restaurant called One Eleven Main. Heather had this awesome chicken with with garlic mashed potatos that tasted just like you always hope they would when you order them in the restaurant. I had the new york strip, peppered, with blue cheese mashed potatos, oh so good! both came with these brussel sprouts in a butter sauce with bacon bits that was the perfect compliment.

Today we went to Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt with their big, juicy burgers and homemade fries. Sorry, no website. Their motto is, “You have two choices for dinner, take it or leave it!” Corny, but good burgers.

One of the things we like to do is grab a christmas ornament from the places we visit. It was a bummer last year when we went to Cedarburg, WI and counldn’t find one. It looked like this trip would have the same fate, not even the seasonal store, you know the obligatory holiday store that is in every tourist center, had one so we were doubtful we would fine one but today luck smiled on us and we found a great little ornament of Grant’s house. Whew, that was a close one!

Weight loss in the age of overconsumption, the game is afoot.

A few of us from my church are doing a type of “The Biggest Loser” contest that started on January 3rd and will be going until April 25th. We will have weekly weigh-ins and prizes will be given out every week for the “biggest loser” of the week, with a grand prize to the overall “biggest loser” at the end. To that end I have signed up to track my caloric intake at “Calorie Count”, an about.com website.

This is a great site that helps me track calories, fat, carbs and protein as well as exercise. My favorite part of the site is the recipe analysis feature where you add a new recipe and it spits out all the nutritional information based on the raw ingredients entered. It is not 100%, for instance, it is not easy to switch out a single ingredient with something similar to adjust the recipe when the analysis comes back slightly off, but that is a little thing. I have found that the database is fairly comprehensive and it is easy to add items not listed and tag them for quick reference in the future.

The best part about the site is that it is free (actually ad sponsored). About.com has always been really good about the quality and type of ads allowed so having to put up with that to get such a good service for free is more than acceptable to me.

A joyful song for the holidays

It’s a world of sadness, a world of drear
A world of darkness and a world of fear
It’s scary out there
So it’s time we’re aware
That it’s a cold, cold world

It’s a cold world after all
It’s a cold world after all
It’s a cold world after all
It’s a cold, cold world

Ok, so it’s not “joyful”, per say, but it made me laugh as me and Jen made it up on the way into work this morning. This is not a commentary on the state of the world today, rather, I just like the juxtaposition of the cheerful with the gothic.