Thursday, February 26, 2009


We are on our last few days of our stay in Illinois with my family. I have not been posting much this past week or so mostly because I purchased a new laptop and I don't have any of my software installed on it for the Nikon. Right now I have to load any new photos on the old Toshiba and then transport them to the new HP and it is just a little more than I usually feel like dealing with. Beside all that the fact is I really have nothing to show you but pictures of soup. Behold....

We have been eating some seriously fancy soup up in here. Number one up top is a carrot soup Billy made a few nights ago. My Mom announced that it was the best soup of her life. It really was insanely good. Billy is feelin' it in the kitchen and it shows. It took him like three hours to make it. There are only 4 ingredients... carrots (and carrot juice), cream, honey and a pinch of curry. You blend it and then strain it to achieve the end result which was a soup so fragile it felt like you had to be really careful eating it. The second one is a red cabbage soup my Dad made. It was really good too... but you have to love cabbage as it was mighty cabbagey, very intense flavor. The last one was a Thai coconut mushroom and tofu soup also made by my Dad. Good stuff people.

While on the subject of food I may as well mention the BEST SALAD..... we had it the other night with the carrot soup.

I made this salad with super fresh roughly chopped romaine. In the mix there are pistachio nuts, roasted red peppers, California navel orange segments and then fennel bulb and asparagus cooked in orange juice and a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of sea salt. We dressed it with Bragg cider vinegar dressing which is a favorite of mine because it allows the true flavors of the salad ingredients to shine through. All of the produce came from The 320 store downtown in Rockford. I love the 320.... and HEY! A shout out to all you Rockfordians... don't forget it is down there. It is well worth the drive downtown to shop for produce there. They have a better selection and better prices than most all of the big stores.

In other food related news, I have officially hit my Rockford 5 pound mark. This means it is time to go before 5 pounds turns into ten. When we get back to California I have to get my ass movin' and stick to foods that do not involve butter, flour, sugar and cheese as their main selling points. I really feel it for people who live in this climate. It is so hard to stay motivated and eat right when it is 12 degrees outside with the wind blowing at 30 miles per hour. You know the weather sucks when your dog does not even want to go outside.

So we will hit the road on Monday and we are taking the southern route through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to get back to California. We will have to drive up 5 to get back to Fairfield where the AS awaits our return. It feels like we have been away much longer than we actually have been. We start our gig in Mendocino on March 12th. We are really excited to get rolling with it! I can't wait for Mendocino!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some questions and some answers...

One of my favorite blogs DOOCE posted a meme today about her relationship with her hubby. She invited her readers to post their own answers to the questions and I decided to go ahead and do it just because it gives a little insight in to who we are for readers who do not know us personally in real life. So here goes...

What are your middle names?
Mine is Lianna (my Mom made it up) and Billy's is Nelson. He has a fancy New England-y family name.... William Nelson McLane III. OOO la la!

How long have you been together?
We will celebrate 8 years on this coming March 23rd.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We didn't know each other.... he came in to the the gourmet shop where I worked on Nantucket for lunch. I took his sandwich money.

Who asked whom out?
He asked me to come to an art opening at The Nantucket Artist's Association Gallery... then we went out to a bar after the show with the other people from the gallery.

How old are each of you?
I'm 37 and he is 33. I had to ask him to confirm this because I can never remember how old either of us is. And I can't do the math. I am a math retard.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
I guess being that I have none we would have to say his no matter what right? We see Coco and Lauren more often now that they are in California. We have not seen Doug (in Massachusetts) in almost two years.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I think the hardest thing we have on the table to deal with is me trying to make a sufficient living while we are on the road. Billy has his painting no matter where we are but it is tough for me to find things to generate dough while we are moving around so much. Billy has vast amounts of patience and is incredibly supportive of all my hair brained ideas.... so it is not really "hard on us" it is more so hard on me.

Did you go to the same school?
Nope. I went to school in Illinois and he was in Massachusetts.

Are you from the same home town?
I grew up in what used to be a rural farm town, Roscoe, IL and he was in Swansea, MA eating quahogs and perogies in Little Poland.

Who is smarter?
I don't think one of us wins out over the other on this one.... We are a great couple because we balance out each others weak points. Billy is better with math, I am better with English etc. etc. So it works out. We can usually pull our shit together in such a way that does not make either of us look too idiotic, I think. I hope.

Who is the most sensitive?
Probably me... or, I am more verbal about it anyway.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
This is hard to answer because we are always in a new locale every few months. I would say ethnic food is a huge draw. We tend to be loyal to whatever great local Thai, Greek or Indian places we can find.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
We have logged thousands of miles all over the country in the Airstream and before that in our VW vanagon. We also have flown from Chicago to Hawaii. I think driving cross country in a van you also happen to live in is a pretty good test of stability in a relationship.

Who has the craziest exes?
Oh Gawd... that is me for sure. Unless Billy has some deep dark secrets he has yet to unveil. Since he did have a pierced belly button at one point in his life I can never quite rule it out that wild secrets could be revealed at random.

Who has the worst temper?
Ummmm, yeah. Ha Ha. In nine years I have seen Billy raise his voice or show something akin to "anger" exactly three times. How many times have I peeled off a bitch streak in that time frame? Ohhhh how many drops of water are in the Pacific Ocean? How many grains of sand in the Sahara? Get it?

Who does the cooking?
We both do. Billy really digs cooking which is one of the things I love about him the most. He can really kick ass in the kitchen and has the ability to totally show me up from time to time. I do more baking and I tend to make stuff up where he seeks out recipes and executes them to a tee.

Who is the neat-freak?
Neither of us. We are pretty messy. I am worse than he is. We seem to get along just fine this way though. Once every few weeks I freak out and try to "get organized" but it never seems to stick.

Who is more stubborn?
Definitely me. I can't say that stubborn is a word you could ever pin to Billy McLane. I am not really too stubborn though.... or leat I don't think I am. I think I may be too lazy to be stubborn.

Who hogs the bed?
Billy disappears in the bed. Our bed in the trailer is a wee small one by most people's standards and I can somehow sprawl out like a starfish with no problem every single night. I don't know where he goes or how he does it but it works out great for me.

Who wakes up earlier?
Billy. I can sleep for like ten hours. He usually gets up at least an hour or more before I do. When he gets up he lets Rudy our of his crate and he gets in bed with me. I use this as an excuse to go back to sleep. Rudy needs snuggle time in the morning... I cannot deny him of it.

Where was your first date?
At the gallery opening as I mentioned above...

Who is more jealous?
Huh.... neither of us. I guess I have the potential to be the more emotional one on that level but with Billy it just would not ever happen. I think at this point if one of us witnessed someone hitting on the other one it would just be funny to watch it play out. It would be dumb.

How long did it take to get serious?
About two hours. I think more than two years passed before we spent a day apart after our initial first date.

Who eats more?
Hey! It would be interesting to find out! Who knows?! We both can put a serious hurt on some grub. Billy can eat more in one sitting but I probably snack more than he does. And if one of us is eating something the other one has to have it too. So I guess there is where the jealousy lurks... "Do you have a cookie? Well dammit! You'd better give me one too!"

Who does the laundry?
Mostly me. I usually do it while Billy is painting. I HATE going to the laundry mat though so when we are somewhere where the laundry mat is the only option he usually comes with me just to sheild me from the luandry mat weirdos.

Who's better with the computer?
Billy because I tend to want to smash my laptop with a sledgehammer at least 5 times a day. Again.... it is the fact that he is SO patient. I can't hang with glitches or programs freezing up. He always has to fix it for me while I pace and grit my teeth.

Who drives when you are together?
It depend on where we are. Right now here in Illinois I do all the driving because he does not know his way around here. When we drive cross country we take turns and try to keep it equal. In normal every day life he probably does a bit more of it than I do. I am an aggressive driver (go figure) and he of course is much more mellow. When we are towing the trailer I am the one who backs the truck up to the tow hitch. I am somehow really, really good at this. I can nail it in one try a lot of the time. I have no idea how or why.... it just happens. Billy however is the one who has to back the trailer in to campsites. I would smash into everything if I tried to do it.

Ok. That's it. I'm sure you are on your feet wild eyed and reeling with excitement after reading this post. Try to contain yourself or you will embarrass me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Forget Valentine's Day. February 14th is Rudy's birthday which is so much more important, don't you think? We think so. People have asked me "How do you know it is Rudy's birthday?" To which I respond... "SHUT UP. It's today. Don't question the date." I know it is his birthday because he woke up this morning looking so much older, wiser and more worldly. My goodness, he was even wearing a tie!

He clearly has a vision for his future. You can see it in his eye. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it now that he is TWO.

This morning we had several hours of ass kicking new toy action to celebrate the day.

We refrained this year from partaking of any weird birthday food treats (last year he had a dog birthday cake) due to the fact that we are guests in my parents house currently and they have carpet. Carpet and dogs with baked goods don't mix. Well, they DO mix but not in a way that your Mother wants to see in her living room. No worry though, Rudy was in a fine mood for his big day.

We had a fresh snow last night and then it warmed up a bit today so we decided to go for a walk at a nearby nature preserve this afternoon. Beside falling on my ass on ice covered by snow it was really pretty and it was good to be outside for awhile. We walked as far as we could before we were cut off by a flooded area where the ice was to thin to cross. Here are the best shots from the walk.

A bird's nest topped with snow....

Prairie grasses...

Lovely shadows and snow patterns....

The end of the line....

Happy Valentine's Day. Give you dogs an extra belly rub in honor of Rudy today...

Chicago Style

Billy and I made a day trip in to Chicago this past week mainly to go to the art museum. After having been to most all of the major museums in the country The Art Institute is probably my favorite one to spend time at. They have such a fabulous collection of paintings there. The place is so enormous I think it would take weeks to really take it all in.

We drove in and went straight away to the museum and spent most of the day in the newly remodeled Impressionist wing. I think it was the Degas works that really grabbed me this visit. His use of color was so amazing.

In the American section they have several O'Keeffe pieces including one of my absolute favorites...

This Black Cross piece reminds me so much of New Mexico... especially the hills out in Chimayo and the gorgeous New Mexican sunsets.

Sometimes the people watching at the museum can be almost as good as the artwork. I wish I had the guts to just blaze away blatantly taking shots of people and their kooky outfits. I grabbed this shot of a guy looking at this huge Seurat. He must have been almost 7 feet tall and dressed completely in black it was quite a sight. He looks like one of those cartoon character holes in the wall where they have busted through on a mad dash for escape. Except he is much more calm obviously.... not trying to escape.

Billy had never had legit Chicago style pizza so we decided to walk up to Gino's East so he could see what that is all about. They do it right at Gino's. It had been close to 20 years since I had been to there but it was still just as good and the atmosphere of the place is always cool. Here's Billy doing his slightly more chipper Godfather impersonation in our booth....

Clearly Billy does not have as much heavy stuff to worry about as The Don. Lucky for him.

It was an odd February day in that it was in the 60's. The ice in the river had broken up and we did not even have to wear heavy coats to walk the city. It was awesome.

On our way back down Michigan Ave we stopped off in The Millennium Park to take a few shots of The Cloud Gate. You HAVE to get your picture taken at The Cloud Gate. So here we are at The Big Bean....

Since we had left the burden of Rudy at home with my parents for the day we did not stay in the city very late... just past sunset. These are a few cool shots I grabbed in the last light of the day.

That American Gothic scene is down near The Tribune. It's probably about 30 feet tall set up just to the north of the river.

When we got home Rudy was working the scene where my Dad had cooked steaks for dinner. We let him have a few left over bites mixed in with his regular food. He's such a scoundrel. It was a relief to find that he had not performed any disastrous feats while we were away for the day. Because Disaster is his middle name.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Eatin' and Drinkin'

What do we do when we come to visit my family in Illinois? We eat. We eat and eat. It's winter and we are Midwesterners and we like food. This past week has been laden with good eats such as my homemade garlic hummus, tofu blintzes, grilled chili lime salmon, fresh hand made salsa with from scratch refried beans, veggie curry, felafel's etc., etc.

On the night we had felafel Billy made his famous Green Lantern drinks. They are made with Tanqueray, parsley and lime juice and they are really freakin' good. They are also amazing to gaze upon and live up to their name....

Billy and my Dad have been hittin' the bottle on a nightly basis since my Dad is off work for a week. They have been drinking Manhattans (yuck), martinis and mojitos. It's pretty ridiculous... especially if you know Billy and his inability to drink. Last night my Mom busted out with a bottle of riesling that looked like a baseball bat to drink with the grilled salmon they made. I had some with my faux chicken fixin's (I don't eat fish) and it was darned tasty. My Mom will skin me alive when she see's that I am posting this pic but deal with it sister... It's funny. Please note the knowing look on Rose Orbison's face... it's all about the wine baby.

Through this whole week Rudy has been trying to hypnotize us with his Houdini meets Spock mind meld stare to get table scraps. He has been wildly unsuccessful.

Tonight we had my Gram over and ordered take away Indian food. Even though it was pretty seriously spicy she tore it up. You have to admit it is a feat for a southern babe in her 80's to be peeling out on some spicy Indian fare. She is fierce.

I made a bittersweet chocolate pear cake for dessert. I know that sounds like it has nothing to do with Indian food but I wanted to make it so I did. I got the recipe (as usual) off Smitten Kitchen. It was quite good, not too sweet. It's made with a brown butter cake batter. Nothin' wrong with that.

Billy and I are going to Chicago on Tuesday. I will be sure to take loads of pics in the city. Rudy is staying home with his Grandma Rose so there should be some stories to be told at the end of that day.