BdW 2.0

I'm proud to announce the release of BdW 2.0. Upgraded features are:
*New(ish) look!
*New domain name (www.blogduwren.com)
*Quicker load times and no lagging comment loads
*Recent comments tracking
*Pagination for easy access to archives
*Better browser compatibility (yes, even for Macs)
*IP logging on comments (for all those anonymous commenters)
*New comment logging code (now with a 60% less chance for double posting!)
*Perma-link (because one of these posts is bound to make it to digg)

Because I coded everything myself (woot!), there might be some glitches in the switchover process. If you come across any bugs, please let me know (via the contact page). Otherwise, please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds as the nwlink address will no longer be current. I hope you enjoy!
Monday February 26 2007File under: blog

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Taste of Anacortes


Does any body remember the good old days in high school when we used to go to Mt. Vernon/Burlington on eating excursions where we'd visit 3 or 4 different restaurants and just indulge ourselves? Okay, for a lot of you, you prolly don't. And anyway, it's not important.

Last night, however, I was reminded of just such good old times while I was hopping from restaurant to restaurant during the Taste of Anacortes. Granted, the food and establishments were much nicer than the Taco Bell, McDonald's, etc. of those old, uninformed days. I caught myself somewhat hyperbolicly[sic] commenting, "This is the best night ever."

The deal was we cruised to 5 different restaurants (out of a possible 15) and had a little nosh at each. Listed below are the ones we chose and what each served.
Flounder Bay Cafe Choice of shrimp or chicken caesar salad or clam chowder
Aloha Bar and GrillSampler plate of BBQed pork(?), chicken, pasta salad, rice, pineapple, and passion-orange-guava juice
El JineteChili con carne with onions, cheese, and chips
AdriftTaco with sweet potato and lots of other goodness
Penguin Coffee12oz. drink of choice and cookie

The verdict: what a great way to spend a mid-week evening. I can't wait until next month to sample what other restaurants in the area have to offer.
Thursday February 22 2007File under: food, Anacortes

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Any Excuse for Potstickers

Chinese New Year was this past weekend, in case you missed it. From my sources still over in that part of the world, I hear it was a wicked good time. But just because I can't join in the authentic festivities over there doesn't mean I can't have a celebration of my own.

For my own little celebration of the Chinese New Year, I decided to make potsickers. Potstickers have been my favorite food ever since I was a wee lad, but it wasn't until lately that the family secret of how to make them was passed down to me. While over in China, I [extensively] studied how they were made and served (remember?). I didn't incorporate any of the eastern techniques this attempt, but I tried a few new approaches.

For the innards, I used a shrimp filling and a faux-sausage filling. (This year is the year of the pig, so I thought I might give those porkers a break.) Along with a somewhat non-traditional filling, I tried a varied of folding methods. The grocery bag, which the family recipe calls for, seemed to work best, although the triangle fold led to a crispier dumpling. Having the multiple fillings and multiple folds made for a great finished product. I was also able to freeze a bunch uncooked for next time. Yum!
Tuesday February 20 2007File under: food

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Geocaching in Port Townsend

In the interest of revelling in the beauty of the place in which I live, further explore public transportation of the area, and to catch up with an old friend, I headed down to Pt. Townsend on Friday for a day of geocaching. The trip down was a relatively unnoteworthy consisting of a 4 mile bike ride, 2 bus rides, an hour and a half layover, and a ferry ride. Door to door time, 3.75 hours. (This is, as I said, unnoteworthy, but make note because it comes into play later.)

Because I was taking a relatively new cacher out on the hunt, I tried to pick some fun caches. It turns out, I failed pretty miserably on that one. The first cache escaped our searching eyes, the second one was buried beneath a pile of beauty bark, and the third was in a park that was closed for some mysterious reason. Luckily, we bucked that trend with the 4th and 5th attempts of the day. We were quite pleased with ourselves. The last of the day was at Fort Warden State Park and offered this lovely view of the light house (left) as well as this one. Also at the park, I attempted to scare some explorers in the Kinzie Battery, but instead of being rewarded with screams of fright, I was met with a completely disinterested glare. Where are people's sense of fun these days?

To soothe the ache of a mediocre day of caching (and scaring), we sought solace in one of the many fine eateries PT has to offer. After a spectacular lunch earlier at the Thai place (Thai food is good. Maybe I should go to Thailand.), we upped the ante with pizza. It served as the perfect solace for me while some found solace elsewhere.

Because of thwarted caches, good food, and low tides, I missed the ferry I was shooting for coming back. By the time I got to Keystone, it was dark and public transportation had long since ceased. With a little ingenuity, I fashioned a sign and stuck out my thumb. Two rides later, I was back at my bike for the quick jaunt home. Total travel time on the return trip: just under 2 hours. Hmmmm....
Sunday February 18 2007File under: geocaching, pics

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And the Winner Is...

First, let me thank all the participants in the recent Roses Are Red... poetry contest. They were all great submissions, and we are all winners just for having participated. Also, thanks to those who submitted votes. That way, I can't be held accountable for the outcome. But without further ado, I would like to announce the winner as... Andrew with his deeply insightful (although slightly rule bending) poem about the darker side of the giving of flowers. I look forward to doling out the prize. Speech! Speech! Speech!

It is heart-warming to see that BdW democracy functions just like American democracy; just because a candidate chooses to bend the rules a little doesn't mean that he/she can't win the support of the people.

Anyway, thanks again to all contributors. (Next poetry challenge will be a sonnet written in iambic pentameter form. Study up!)
Saturday February 17 2007File under: contest

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Updates

I'm pleased to announce that the puzzle is complete. (I know you were all dying to hear about it.) The big surprise is there wasn't a piece missing even after buying it used (for $0.50). The sense of accomplishment in putting that last piece in its place is great (greater than it should be, it could be argued, as a jigsaw puzzle is rather inconsequential). Many thanks to all those that helped out. I'm hoping to do another one in the waning time I have the dining room table to myself, so feel free to stop by and lend a hand.

Being that we are halfway through February, I thought I would report on how the movie marathon is going. Thanks for all the suggestions, both in the comments and via e-mail. Also, thanks to all those who have joined in FMM, so I haven't had to go it alone! So far, I've seen Zoolander, Little Miss Sunshine, Rumor Has It, Pirates of the Caribbean II, Royal Tenenbaums, Because I Said So, Clerks II, Garden State, and The Departed. (I know, it kind of looks pathetic with them all listed like that. That's okay though.) Two thumbs up for Royal Tenenbaums and Garden State. Two thumbs down for Because I Said So (How could you, Diane Keaton?). Still on the list are Celestine Prophecy, Syriana, and Howl's Moving Castle.

Lastly, don't forget to vote on the recent Roses are Red... poetry contest. Submit your vote via the contact page or by e-mail.
Friday February 16 2007File under:

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Roses Are Red...


Roses are great
But let's be honest
What you really wanted
Was a poetry contest
In the same spirit as the Haiku Challenge, I offer up another poetry challenge. This time, the rules are this: your poem must follow the standard ABCB "Roses are red" rhyme/stress pattern, it must make reference to either "red" or "roses", and it must be completed by 11:59 pm PST, Thursday Feb 15. Then come back on Friday, read the entries, and vote for your favorite by e-mailing me or contacting me via the contact page. The winner will get a big smootch from yours truly or some other just as worthless "prize". (Remember, put a <br> after each line to get it to display correctly)
Wednesday February 14 2007File under: poetry, contest

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Game Night - Laughs, Fun, and Extremely Poor Drawings

In honor of the McCool troop (no pun intended) being in town, we all got together for another edition of the world famous game night. We had many of the usual players in attendence as well as some first timers. Many thanks to all who made it, some on very short notice.

Highlights included [baby] Max, plates of spectacular food (thanks Keith!), mozzarella cheese (thanks Tyler!), a house full of laughs and smiles (thanks everyone!), Chantiel Krav, and an artistic rendering of Katy (thanks Sean!) (Note: artistic rendering not posted by request)

A little on-the-fly javascripting (courtesy of moi) and you can check out some of the drawings from the draw your friends game! Also, here are some examples of pictionary telephone done well and, well, interesting.
Sunday February 11 2007File under: games, events

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ACFL Pulling Party

One of the big assets Anacortes and Fidalgo Island have going for it is the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. There are enough trails too keep even a long time resident exploring. These days, I find myself out on hikes in the forest lands at least 4 times a week. I'm so grateful for the commitment to preservation of these lands for everyone to enjoy.

Since I spend so much time out enjoying the forests, it is only fair that I pitch in a little. I've known about the monthly work parties for some time, but until now, I haven't been able to find time to go join in. Today's work party happened to coincide with the most beautiful winter day (although it almost feels like spring). About 8-10 people showed up at Little Cranberry lake to pull non-native invasive plants.

After a little lesson in which are keepers and which need to get the kibosh, it was off into the forest. I spent an hour pulling english ivy and an hour pulling daphne. While my own feeling regarding non-native plants are not strong, it was great to learn how to identify them and a little about their history around this area.

The next work party is on March 10th at Whistle Lake at 10:00am. I had so much fun this time, I hope to make it to the next one as well.
Saturday February 10 2007File under: events

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Sloppy Lennies

Ever since I ran across this recipe for sloppy lennies on the [amazing] Vegan Lunch Box blog, I've been dying to try it. When Andrew got me the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook for Christmas, it was all the more inspiration. Last night, I rolled up my sleeves, dragged tits over a hot stove, and prevailed.

Sloppy lennies are vegetarianized version of sloppy joes. Basically, you replace the meat with lentils, and tada!, you've got goodness. As it turns out, the VLB cookbook didn't have the recipe. I had to track back through the blog's archives to come up with this recipe. But in looking through the cookbook, I came across a great idea for a side dish: tater tots. Again, there was no recipe for those, just the suggestion to buy some from your grocer's organic frozen foods section. Since I am not one to contest authority, off I went.

Verdict (as Mrs. Shmoo would put it): The tater tots were a hit. The sloppy lennies were pretty good. I had to unveganize them with a slice of american cheese (and maybe some dried milk powder in the english muffins), but I still took down two of them (with plenty left for leftovers). 3.5 stars.
Friday February 9 2007File under: food, links

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