Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An update

Looking back I realize I posted a month ago about how insane life had been lately. Little did I know...

In the past month, since that post, I was rejected for the promotion, Stephanie got a great new job, I was promoted into her position, sent on 2 trips (Atlanta and Phoenix) to learn about my newly assigned studies, celebrated my brother's marriage, and got myself married. In between that we had K2's bday party, transferred Falkor to Tim's place after the Wendy option went downhill, I met a bunch of Steph's friends from Wisconsin, went to the Broncos/Packers game last night, and have been racking up 45-50 hour work weeks. How much life change and random activity can we smash into a month anyway? November is looking gloriously under-booked at the moment and we really hope to keep it that way. I'll take a bit of status quo for awhile. (Once we re-establish what that even means in our lives...)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The real Meatcake post

This was not the most life-changing thing that happened this weekend, but in addition to getting married I also accomplished Meatcake!

First I must correct the previous attention-drawing buddy Kath was actually the source of the link to the meatcake blog referenced in the creation of my own personal meatcake. So thanks Kath!

Meatcake turns out to be a lot of work, but imminently doable. Your favorite meatloaf recipe will suffice, with some modifications. More breadcrumbs and less milk has to be dry enough to stick together, even with another ~2 lbs of beef sitting on top. This is what I used...ish:

3.75 lbs beef
3 eggs
2.5 c. milk
2 c. bread crumbs
~3/4 c. onion
a handful of chopped parsley
~2 t. salt
~1/2 t. pepper
~1 T. ground sage

Mix in a bowl, bake at 350 to an internal temp of 170 degrees. The illustrated meatcake tour commences now.

Meat is the basis for meatcake. It is more expensive to get the less fatty stuff, but I figured it would help the solidity quite a bit if there wasn't a ton of fat making the whole mass slippery and squooshy. I went with the 93/7 variety and it worked well.

Add ingredients and mix, then squish into a pan. I got a couple 8.5" round disposable foil pans, because I figured if the final product didn't fall out I could cut them off. This was unnecessary. I lined the bottoms with waxed paper and Criscoed the sides and the baked meatloaves slid right out. (When using cake pans evening up a chunky meat mixture is more difficult than letting batter settle evenly. Take the time to do this as well as you will make life easier later.)

The final round meatloaves were allowed to cool before assembly the next morning.
Side view; notice the uneven tops of the rounds. This was even after taking extra care to try to make them level. The tops were leveled off with a nice long knife before the layers were put together.
This picture skips a few steps...I didn't document the next morning very well. The bottom layer was placed on the cake carrier, then the usual ketchup-based meatloaf topping (doubled...1/2 c. ketchup, 4 T. brown sugar, 2 t. dried mustard) was slathered on top of that, then the top layer placed carefully on top. I cut around the sides to eliminate any crazy lumps and overhangs, then "iced" the whole mess with boxed mashed potatoes (the 4-serving preparation). The somewhat finished version seen here was accomplished by going around the cake twice with potatoes, since the 1st layer ended up fairly ketchupy. The second layer covered it nicely.

And then the finishing touches. Rather than a bloody uterus on top of my cake, I decided on a festive sprinkled look. Those are shredded carrots on top, with breakfast sausage links finishing off the trim.

And then it traveled across town to the reception. The meatcake was the semi-official Groom's Cake for the event, and it is pictured here next to the real wedding cake. My biggest complaint with this incarnation of meatcake is apparent here: the top layer slid. The ketchup layer was fairly thick and never baked, so the whole top layer just settled a little and disrupted the whole look. If there is a next time for meatcake, I will trim up the bottom layer and then throw it back in the oven with the ketchupy coating applied, like you do with a regular meatloaf. If that layer had been slightly more stable the look and taste distribution would have been much better.

Finally the last shot of the meatcake:
I was really surprised by the reaction to this concoction actually. The project was undertaken mostly as a fun thing for my brother, but it turned out to be quite the topic of conversation for the adults as well as the friends of the bride & groom. Quite a few people at the reception tried at least a little sliver...there was plenty of other food, so nobody needed a huge chunk of meat. The cake missing in the above picture disappeared about a 1/2" at a time (measured around the circumference) and fed lots of people. The experience would have benefited from the cake being not-cold, but even as a cold meatloaf experience it seemed to be a hit. I would definitely make one again, for the appropriate occasion, and the leftovers have been spectacular eating for lunches this week. All in all a smashing success!

Monday, October 22, 2007



It's true. Steph and I decided to take the plunge this weekend. We've both been thinking that we don't *really* want to wait all the way until next June to make this official. We can't do a ceremony much sooner due to several people we really want to be there being wrapped up in school schedules, wanting something outdoors, general planning...June is the 1st time that works. In the meantime though it doesn't make sense for her to have a different last name, pay taxes like single people, pay for separate health insurances like single people, have to convince the bank to let us buy a house as an unmarried couple, and me to not get to have a ring on my finger, to name a few things. So why not?! It made sense to do it now, practically and in our hearts. We're both very excited about this.

The event itself...we went to the courthouse Saturday to figure out the process for getting married and learned that you can do whatever you want in Colorado. You can have your marriage solemnized by a judge, a minister, or the couple involved can do it themselves. Sounded great! So we got a hotel room in Cherry Creek for Saturday night and made a little in-town getaway out of it. Picked up a ring Saturday afternoon after my little brother's celebration of his recent marriage, then headed out to dinner with my parents to get hitched. We went to the Tambien Cantina, where Steph went with her friends last weekend, toasted with shots of Patron Anejo, then signed the papers and made it official. Stephanie made me cry; she does that. It's been a very happy time in my heart recently. I never could have predicted a year ago that I would be here right now and Stephanie gets all the credit for the wonderfulness of this year. It's been an amazing ride and this is just the beginning of the good times to come.
Steph's ring
My ring
This hasn't stopped since Saturday...
Yep, it's official!

And Arlo celebrating our news from the back seat:

(The ceremony in June will be going forward as planned. That will be the big(ger) fun celebration. It will still be a fairly small event, but there will be a real event commemorating our marriage!)

Friday, October 19, 2007


This will be updated in the near future, but for now...

Credit where it is due...I was introduced to the concept of meatcake by Kirk, I believe, who forwarded me a link to this wondrous creation. My brother thought that looked pretty fun, so I'm making one for his wedding celebration tomorrow. Pics and details to follow...pending success or failure of this adventure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Brand loyalty

I remembered yesterday why it is I like J. Crew. We hit the outlet stores in Castle Rock and spent a couple frustrating hours trying to find pants. (Turns out washing all of my cotton khakis on Warm leads to eventual shrinkage. I've learned now.) Banana Republic, The Gap, Rue 21, Timberland...nothing. Not a single pair of pants that fit. Steph said the Gap khakis made me look like "a clothes hanger," which is fun. So we finally wandered into J. Crew and just went around the store grabbing one of every style in my size. Hit the dressing room and 5 of the 6 pairs of pants we grabbed fit and passed the rigorous Fiance Approval Procedure. Ended up w/ 4 pairs of pants, a new belt, and a new shirt for just under half of what the whole mess would have cost at regular retail values. This is a wonderful thing.

In other news, I got Steph's job and I'll be headed to my 1st Investigator Meeting tomorrow evening. I get to be in Atlanta for a couple days, then next week I'm off to Phoenix for another one. Whee!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good times (a mushy feel-good post)

In these last nearly 7 months that Steph and I have been together we seem to have picked up a knack for running into randomly neat things. We've always enjoyed doing pretty much whatever we feel like together, which leads to plenty of good times on its own, but the consistent doing-of-randomness makes life even more interesting.

Our luck started with happening on a Kiteboarding competition in San Francisco, progressed to the Red Bull Air Races in San Diego, and this weekend took us to the Jack-o-Launch over in Aurora. Then there are the little things, like wandering off the touristy path in Ixtapa and finding possibly-toxic Strawberry Shortcake Stain-O-Stampers, eating horrible guacamole in Tijuana, reaching the top of Gray's Peak in a sleet storm, taking salsa lessons at The Church on Cinco de Mayo...these (and lots of others) are all great memories in my head, and it's only been 7 months! Steph and I push each other to do fun things. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a real partner in my life, somebody who wants to do random stuff with me and create fun experiences and truly enjoys it. I couldn't be more grateful that this girl has chosen to let me be the guy she shares these things with.

And in other non-mushy news...Steph got a new job! She's leaving our shared workplace, which kind of sucks, but the new thing is a giant step up for her and a wonderful opportunity. She's been ready to move on for awhile, but had to stay at Radiant long enough to meet me and fall in love (or that's the story I'm telling myself :-) ) Only 2 more weeks of getting to see her at work. :-( The not-as-good-as-her-news-but-maybe-good-for-me news is that I may get her job, which would be a nice step up for me too. I should find that out early this week. *fingers crossed*

Monday, October 8, 2007

When branding goes weird

If you were going to come up with a name for a new brand of dog food, you would naturally want to choose a name that reminded people of their deep love for their pets and the happiness derived from pet ownership, right? Or maybe something that sounded like it was healthy or scientifically derived to be good for your pet. That would be OK. But who the hell thought Old Yeller brand dog food was a good idea? The front of the bag is a big full-color picture of the boy and his remember, the dog that had to be shot by his loving boy pal because he had rabies? Just googling the product name reveals far more blogs lambasting the unfortunate branding choice than links to anything related to the product. So I'm not the first to notice that naming a product after a sad/tragic ending involving the product's target audience is a horrible idea. Is this what you would want to think of every time you go to feed your Best Friend?

In other marketing fun, Trice Jewelers in Denver has a series of those good-ole-boy commercials that feature the owner of a diamond company chatting casually with a major celebrity (in this case Mike Shanahan, coach of the Broncos). You know, like you do. "Gee Bob, one of my friends told me he was buying a diamond *online*! What do you think about that?!" The commercial spends probably 25 of the 30 seconds telling you why buying diamonds or really *any* jewelry online is a horrible no good very bad awful idea. So of course the little tag on the commercial is the standard "or visit us online at Trice Jewelers dot com!" It's not as bad as Old Yeller...but somebody maybe could have thought through the editing on that one a little bit better.