Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hot and cold in Omaha

IMG_8190.JPGIt's been another eventful weekend in Omaha. We started off on Friday night with an 80's party put on by one of our many friends named Sarah. We had a great time. First off, they had a 80s trivia game, where we had to pick out different actors, musicians, and movies from the 1980's based on pictures hanging up all over the house. I lost at that, but did pretty well afterwards at the air guitar competition. I started things off by banging away on a pink guitar to "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol. Thankfully, nobody got that on video. Other noteworthy performances included Ben doing Footloose by Kenny Loggins, Jon doing What I Like About You by The Romantics, and Chris with a hilarious performance as Weird Al Yankovich as "Fat." Jenny took the cake, however, with an energetic rendition of You Spin Me Right Round by Dead Or Alive. After the contest, we did some group Karaoke to Love Shack by the B-52s. It was the easiest song I've ever done, since I only had to mimic Fred Schneider's monotone singing voice, and I didn't have to pretend to carry a tune.

IMG_8220.JPGOn Saturday, I went to hang out and play a few games with Eric, Ben, and a couple others at Troy's house in Bellevue. One was a game I couldn't remember: we came out with different "products" by shuffling random cards of adjectives and nouns together, and then we bid on them. We rolled dice to see which ones paid off, and I didn't quite follow the logic behind the game. All I know is that I lost in the end. Afterwards, we played a very fun game called Cash and Guns, using foam pistol to shoot at each other and cards that said "bang, bang, bang." It was as much as a boys game as I could possibly imagine (even though I played the girl).

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Afterwards, Vivian and I went to the 1314 building for the grand opening of their coffee bar. The votes were in, and they were going to call it Sozo, not the name I would have picked. It means "salvation" in Greek, but Hugh said that some people might be confused, thinking that they serve "so-so" coffee. It coffee itself was pretty good, though I'm definitely not a coffee drinker. We all got to have some of the black coffee samples, and I think Ben and I liked the Brazilian Nut flavor best.

After we were sufficiently caffeinated, we headed off for some ice skating. The group had reserved a rink at Hitchcock Park just for us that evening, so I joined everyone to risk injuring my knees, hips, and even worse, my dignity by slipping around on the ice once again. Rob Meyers was able to help me out a bunch by showing me to tighten my laces properly. Once I did that, I was almost able to skate like a normal person. It was definitely a workout, and I was sore the next day from falling down a couple of times. Fortunately this time, I didn't bruise much more than my ego.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Weekend

I spent Friday and Saturday in Lincoln this weekend, reaffirming my theory that there is absolutely nothing to do in this town other than go drinking. Vivian and our Mutual Friend of Hugh got to have an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday night, and if I can bully Vivian into updating her blog, you all might get to see some of the pictures she took while she was there. (You can keep an eye on her Flickr account, too).

IMG_8136.JPGOn Sunday, I celebrated Easter with Vivian and her parents at their home in Bellevue. Our friend Eric stopped by and joined us, mostly to get pictures as Vivian started an impromptu food fight and smeared whipped cream all over my face. As is usually the case at Vivian's, we all stuffed ourselves with food, mostly hors d’oeuvres with before even touching the main course. Vivian had the little meat roll ups I love so much, deviled eggs, and a whole variety of cheese (including that stinky breed that she likes for some reason). For dinner, we got to have ham with a delicious cherry glaze, cheese rolls, and loads of other things including Pistachio marshmallow Jello dessert salad.

IMG_8144.JPGAfter the meal, I helped set up the video game Vivian got her dad for Christmas. It was one of those stand-alone Pac-Man Arcade consoles that you have to connect to the back of your TV with AV cords. It took a few minutes to set up since we didn't know how to hook it up through the DVD or VCR, but once I managed to get it working, Vivian couldn't get enough of it. She really seemed to like Pole Position.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Toga! Toga! Toga!

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It was another crazy, fun-filled weekend up in Omaha over the weekend. On Friday night at JNO, I got to wear a toga for the first time. It was the Rite of Swing Toga Party Dance at the Eagle's Lodge, and you got to save $3 if you showed up wearing a $3 bedsheet. I suppose it all evens out somehow in the end. I also got to put some plastic garland in my hair, which surprisingly completed the look when Vivian and I went out eat Caesar Salad before the dance. Doing the Lindy Hop in a bedsheet proved to be fairly difficult, however, especially when the sheet started coming undone and I began tripping over it. We finished off the night around 2 AM at Village Inn, where we ate Truffle Pie as Jessica showed us some more of her amazing talents.

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On Saturday, we celebrated "little" Debbie's birthday at her house in West Omaha. We grilled hamburgers and had a couple "fuzzy navels" as Eric played swing music and Kevin brought out a couple Slinkies to send flopping down a small staircase. He gave up before too long and started trying to get it to break dance instead. We also grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs with some delicious deep-fried french fries, courtesy of Vivian and a pot of boiling oil.

IMG_8056.JPGVivian and I had to leave the party fairly early, so we didn't get a chance to enjoy playing with the electronic game of Catchphrase we gave to her. Instead, we had a double date with some of her old friends, Dennis and Kara, down at the Upstream in the Old Market. We all wound up ordering the same dish: Smoked Salmon with Cheese Tortellini. By some coincidence, the four of us also wound up getting the same beer: Honey Raspberry Ale. Either great minds think alike, or we were all so tired from a busy week that we didn't feel up to making any more unnecessary decisions. After dinner, we walked down to take a look at a gallery of beautiful nature photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen, and then stopped by Delice for hot drinks and chocolate mousse to finish off the night.

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Sunday afternoon, I and a couple guys from my small group at Great Adventures got to prepare a St. Patrick's day dinner for Monday night. We'd settled on making Shepherd's Pie, a fairly simple Irish-kind-of dish. My job was to bring twelve pounds of ground beef meat to cook. The rest of the guys—Luke, Jose, Jon, and Ben—were going to bring the instant potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and vegetables for the rest of the pies. The "other" Matt in our group was also making brownies at his place. It took us a couple hours, but we eventually came out with a bunch of Shepherd's Pies that wound up feeding the whole group. We even made a "vegetarian pie" and also a "non-dairy" pie for the lactose intolerant in our group. It was loads of fun, particularly for a guy like me who never gets to cook for that many people at a time.

GAMe Guys' recipe for Shepherd's Pie
(feeds 50)

  • 12 pounds of ground beef
  • Several cans of mixed vegetables
  • Several cans of stewed tomatoes (if you have nothing else on hand, use those diced tomatoes with green chiles or garlic instead)
  • Four or five boxes of instant mashed potatoes
  • A couple sticks of butter
  • Salt
  1. Open a couple cans of mixed vegetables, drain and put into a big bowl. You'll need the empty cans to drain off the grease from the ground beef.
  2. Brown up the ground beef and drain off the grease as carefully as you can into the empty cans.
  3. Boil some butter in water and mix with salt before stirring in the instant potatoes. Follow the directions on the box.
  4. Line the bottom of a pan with ground beef. Mix in some stewed tomatoes, then add a layer of vegetables on top.
  5. When done mixing up the instant potatoes, spread a bunch of it over the top. Add green food coloring if you want to be obnoxiously Irish.
  6. For lactose-intolerant Shepherd's Pie, use instant potatoes (make sure the ingredients don't include something funky like whey, first) made with olive oil instead of butter, and unsweeted soymilk instead of milk.
  7. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lincoln Surprise

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I was in for a surprise around noon at work today: Vivian dropped by to pay me a visit! It turns out she sneakily got the day off and decided to drop by so we could have lunch together. She took me downtown and we got some huge pesto burritos at Oso Burrito on O Street. Afterwards, I returned the favor and made her some fettucini alfredo with chicken back at my apartment. It was such a nice way to spend a Wednesday. That lady is so full of surprises!

In other news, I bought another Sprint RAZR on eBay, so I finally have a cell phone once again.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A halfway date

IMG_7880.JPGSince Vivian lives in Omaha, and I live in Lincoln (a good fifty minutes from her front door), we've invented a thing called the "halfway date." This is where we both agree to meet somewhere halfway between Lincoln and Omaha for a date that could easily take place on a weeknight, where one of us won't have to commit nearly two hours to a commute.

Naturally, there's isn't much between Lincoln and Omaha to see other than rolling farmland. There is the cute little town of Ashland, where Vivian and I went exploring for our first halfway date. This time around, I took her to Mahoney State Park, where we got to watch the sunset from on top of a tall observation tower. The view was spectacular, but temperatures being around nine degrees, it wasn't long before we lost all feeling in our ears, noses, and fingers and had to run back to the car.

IMG_7905.JPGWe had a nice steak dinner afterwards at the Kiewit Lodge, and then drove into West Omaha to see the Spiderwick Chronicles at Village Point. Omaha's grown so far west that it practically right around the corner when we drove in from Gretna. On the way back, we dropped by Elkhorn to see if we could find a stretch of the original Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Highway was the first intercontinental highway stretching from New York City to San Francisco, and a good portion of it ran right through Nebraska. I've been very interested in this piece of American history for a while now, and finding this little stretch of original brick road was a bit of a treasure hunt. We eventually found it hiding underneath an overpass off Highway 31, and once we drove down a ways, we even found one of those original concrete highway markers.

On Saturday, Vivian spent her day trying on wedding dresses, and she finally settled on one, which she picked out on Monday. I'll have to wait until July to post pictures of that.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


It's been another busy weekend in the wild world of wedding plans. On Friday, I actually enjoyed myself by going to an AIGA event that got canceled. Chip Kidd was supposed to come and give a talk at Bellevue University, but due to weather and a plane with mechanical problems (thank you, American Airlines,) he never made it. We still had some great refreshments and then went down to the Nomad Lounge to hang out and have drinks afterwards.

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Jitterbugs Night Out was held at St. John's again, and it was great to be back and dance again after another crazy week at the office. David came down from Sioux Falls to show the ladies how to back-bend, and we got to hear some good and funky 70s music toward the end of the night. We also got a mighty impressive jam circle going, which I was able to capture on video: click here to check it out.

IMG_7839.JPGOur time on Saturday and Sunday were gobbled up mostly getting registered at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Viv and I dropped by a bridal shop in Bellevue to pick out my style of tuxedo and try on tiaras. Then it was off to the BB&B to spend six hours zapping items for our wish list with our little pricing gun. It was fun, once we got moving, but the sales team at 3B seemed particularly geared for showing us every single set of dishes and flatware in the entire store, obviously hoping to wear us down to the point where we'd take anything just to get outside and enjoy the 62-degree weather and sunlight once again.

Brie from Petaluma!Sunday, of course, brought freezing snow once again, as it typical in Nebraska. Vivian and I still managed to make it down to Target to register for even more items for our wish list. Viv added an iPod Nano to the list, just in case any of our guests happen to be particularly generous. We also found some brie from Petaluma, Vivian's home down. That went on the list as well.

All-in-all, it was a fairly productive weekend. We did have to schedule some time to be goofy. Jenny had Natalie over to watch All about Eve, so I had the chance to show them the benefits of owning a Mac with Photo Booth. We were up until nearly midnight taking 400 pictures of ourselves being goofy, nearly filling my laptop's tiny hard drive to capacity. I put them together in a little video when we were done.