FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2004
Boboli Pizza

This week, Laura pulled out an old favorite to her, and a new treat for me. Boboli! They taste great for pizza crusts in no time. So, we had lots of good pizza this week, made with olives, fresh spinach, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, yum! They cook in about 10 minutes too, since the dough is already baked.

Also, we returned to a favorite, pork stirfry with soy sauce, teryaki, mushrooms, bok choy, ginger and for added flavor this week, honey. It always turns out well, with enough to last a few days. It's nice to have some old favorite recipes you can pull out at a moment's notice; it makes you feel like you can really cook, and won't go hungry if the armageddon comes. :)

Finally, we mixed up a new recipe, Chicken with basil, sour cream, and butter. Cube the chicken, add butter to the pan, then cook chicken and sprinkle with basil. When finished cooking, add the sour cream (make sure it's balanced with the juice or it will turn runny. It was delicious, and will hopefully show up again soon!

Posted by Mark @ 9:36 PM CDT [Permanent URL]

SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2004
Protospiel 2004

This weekend, I traveled to Lansing MI with Matt for Protospiel, a small gathering of amateur game-designers like ourselves. I met so many cool game designers, Dominic Crappuchettes, James Kyle, Kory Heath, Mike Petty, Kes Sampanthar, Ken Stevens to name a few, and were playtesting from 9 am until 10 pm every day. It was amazing to play other people's games, and have to think about them from both a player's perspective and a designer's perspective at the same time was exhausting and exhiliarating.

A few of my games made it to the table. We had two sessions of Gene Pool, with comments of "great for high-school kids," and "I want to directly mess with my opponent." I'll need to work on balancing the actions a little more and removing some of the fiddly rules. Kes volunteered to playtest it some more, so I'll try to get another copy printed and sent off soon. And on Saturday we had one session of Ultra Violets, which is getting to a workable state. I'm working on changes to make it more tense all the way through, and have some of the cost balanced with the penatlies, but I'm happy with where it's going. It might never make it beyond me, but that's just fine.

What I enjoyed the most was the daily seminars. After lunch, there was an hour session of talking about games and design, where we learned all about how to playtest, explicit vs. implicit theme, and common problems in game design. I took notes as well as I could and tried to absorb all the info. It makes me want to play more games, maybe start a regular game nigh, since I seem to be behind in my game experiences. There's just too many games! :) I can't wait for next year's conference, hopefully I'll be free.

Posted by Mark @ 9:34 PM CDT [Permanent URL]

SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2004

This week we created a nice stirfry with vegetables from the farmers market. In trying to duplicate a great pasta dish we love to get at Whole Foods, we combined "similar" ingredints- note the recipe is not on the blog since it didn't turn out as expected... note to self, do not substitute dill havarti in a calm pasta salad that calls for smoked mozzarella.

Today, with a bit of time available, I made tarts. I have always had a soft spot for the cute, delicate, single serving creations. Fortunately this last Christmas I got some beautiful small tart pans. I found the recipe of choice in the new edition of Taste of Home. Fortunately this edition did not use egg yolks :) We tried making the tart shells with the recipe and with a "quick" thaw dough from the store- We preferred the shells from scratch. Since strawberries were in season, I got to have fun combining fresh strawberries with kiwi and blueberries. The only tricky part was adding a small portion of the glaze to the top of the tarts to keep the berries fresh. The first couple I did had more glaze than berries :) but making sure the apricot glaze if warm enough seemed the key to not wilt the berries and spread easily.

Lastly we created a batch of lasagna using local RP Pasta's fresh garlic noodles. We were impressed with the light and delicious flavoring of garlic throughout the dish. With the desire to get more greens in our lives, we made a nice spinach salad with all the fixin's.

Posted by Laura @ 12:49 PM CDT [Permanent URL]

Off to Indi

After waundering around our apartment for a bit, we decided to head out around 1 for Indianapolis. After I took a nap (there must be something about riding in a car), a bit of traffic due to construction season and dinner at Arbys (love the Market fresh sandwiches), we got in to our hotel around 7pm- just in time for the season finally of the Sopranos. We use to watch the Sopranos until my language was rather hidious and we started having nightmares. This episode there was a murder, and arrest, illegal parties and an overall depressing feeling about the show. Maybe it is the topic?

The following day Mark went to his CIBM conference while Natalie and I explored the Zoo and Botanical Gardens. While I normally don't like seeing the larger animals in the zoo, I did like many of the newer exhibits. Everything is very informative with Q/A areas, skeletons and wonderfully creative exibits. Natalie really liked one interesting exhibit which housed snakes in artistic surroundings- some of the snakes were housed with bright red pots to complement their beautiful patterns. Others had rebar and other creative structures to hang from. We greatly enjoyed the dolphin show- the trainers used 6 bottle-nosed dolphins for the entire show and greatly soaked the splash zone. It was really interesting to learn all about bottle-nosed dolphins and their great intelligence. At the end we talked to one very nice trainer who told us it is a tough competition to be hired as a trainer- most have bachelor degrees in psychology and some area of biology.

After a bit of lunch in the zoo cafe, we ventured into the desert area :) and got to feed a giraffe some sweat potato. Didn't realize that their purple tongues were so long- they were very nice. We also had a nice talk with a lady from the tropical bird section- some of their birds were rescued and each definately had their own personality. As we were walking back through the park I noticed a family of ring-tail lemmers, mark's favorite and picked up a small fluffy, stuffed ring-tailed friend from the giftshop named Lary.

Right next door was the Botanical Gardens and they were having a butterfly exhibit. Natalie and I found a good portion of the displayed butterflies hanging and floating all around the conservatory. Outside we were beautifully manacured zones. There were lofty arbors next to cragy rocks holding water for feathered friends. Appropriately surrounding a beautiful green lawn was bridal veil hanging from a sturdy pergola. There were many frog and tortise sculptures all throughout the landscape and some beautiful sunken gardens with a little train traveling down one side. One interesting feature appeared as a large stone gobblet filled with fine white sand. In each of the four corners surrounding the goblet, there were embosed balls on pedestals- one for every season. The object was to roll the ball of the current season around in the pristine sand and watch the pattern created- Natalie made a beautiful summer pattern.

After a short rest and a bit of Apples to Apples, we met up with an old friend of Burr and Natalie's and some of the visiting AI guys and headed out to the Rock Bottom Brewery. It was amazing that almost every dish had some kind of beer in it. Mark had a lovely portabella pizza and I had a stew with beer gravy. On the way back to the car we saw one of the many monuments in Indianapolis. This one was circular and celebrated the heros of WWII- the amazing bit was that all of the surrounding buildings were also convex with a matching curvature of the statue. Some of these bulidings also organized their office windows to reflect the American flag at night.

On the next day, June 10th, Natalie and I ventured to the Art Center. It is very well known and supported by artists, if you live within 250miles of the building you can have a show there (if you are a member), unfortunately madison is over 300 miles away). It was really niced to see all of the classrooms and the beautiful library. There were many exibits displaying children's work. Next we traveled to the Museum of Art which was under heavy construction. So instead of Art exhibits we saw the botanical section. We saw many native prairie flowers and we identified the beautiful African daisy I have seen all over this summer. Next we wandered through the 3 greenhouses of plants and were happy to see so many tropicals- even a citrus tree.

After meeting up with our husbands we headed to the famous Indianapolis Children's Museum. As soon as you walk in you see the gigantic water clock filled with royal blue water. Fortunately we arrived at noon and got to see the draining of the clock. One interesting room talked all about money. Mark tried his hand at owning a lemonade stand. We were interested to see one artistic exhibit where the artist travels to different countries and asks a family in each country to take all of their belongings out of their house and stand amongst them. There was also a beautiful puppet exhibit on the top floor where we all relived some of the earlier Muppet days. After wandering around the 4 floors of exhibits we went to the planetarium and got a nice tutorial on finding constilations in the sky.

After such a long and event day we split-up and headed home. Unfortunately more adventures were ahead of us as we drove back in constant (and sometimes blinding) rain and tornadoes spotted all around us. Needless to say, it was great to be back in Madison again!

Posted by Laura @ 12:47 PM CDT [Permanent URL]

Veggies and Potter

Today we visited the first downtown farmer's market. It was a great time to go- sunny, in the 70's with a cool breeze. As we tooled around, there were many items to feast your eyes on. We ended up getting some spinach (for a future salad), Mark got me a lovely boquet of white tulips, lilys, dianthus, red snapdragons and bright blue __. I couldn't pass up a pixy lily- a gorgeous peach color- I have a feeling it will multiply like mad :)

After the market, we weeded and admired our garden. It is nice to get rid of the worst of the weeds before we have to leave again. The leeks are looking particularly strong in their trench. The tomatoes and their buddy marigolds look a bit like weeds themselves ;) Our asparagus bush should yield a wonderful crop come fall with all of the sun it is soaking up.

This evening we headed out to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with Matt, Natalie, and Burr. Burr was kind enough to purchase the tickets online so we were guaranteed seats for the must see movie of the year! Overall the movie was great - for book readers there was much lacking from the text - but it was 3 hours long. The longer scenes really added to the smoothness of the movie- it really didn't feel like we were in the theatre for more than an hour.

Afterwards we ate and reminisced at Chili's (their chili is a bit beefy and warm) but their salads are great. Mark enjoyed a sweet Hawaiian chicken with wild rice. To end the night, Mark played Attika twice with the others while I called it an early night.

Posted by Laura @ 12:41 PM CDT [Permanent URL]


It is our last day in TX, but since we leave in the afternoon, we made the most of the morning and explored the local Inner Space Cavern. This large cave is composed of limestone, dolimite, and flint. The porous limestone throughout the cave created many opportunites for the formations to grow. Mark's favorite was a large Flow stone on which you could see the crystal clear water cascading down it's sides to gather in a nearby pool. I like the soda straws best- amazing hollow tubes created out of calcite. There was also lots of cave bacon or drapery- the bacon appearence occurs as different minerals form sheets of calcite and iron just like the white and red of bacon. Mom's favorite was the last area with a large pool of clear water surrounded by every formation in the cave- breathtaking. In the shop I purchased an abstract necklace and charm containing "black diamond" (hematite I think). Afterwards there was just enough time to pack and get dad's future father's day present before we headed back to WI- avoiding rainclouds all the way home- it makes for adventurous flying. During our two hour layover, Mark and I enjoyed a great oven cooked pizza in the Mineapolis/St. Paul airport. We arrived home around 1am :)

Posted by Laura @ 10:38 PM CDT [Permanent URL]