Monthly Archives: January 2010

Quick Apple Streusel

One of my favorite desserts is also one that is simple enough for me to make – Quick Apple Streusel.  It involves 5 ingredients and takes about 1/2 hour, so it’s definitely right for me.

Here’s the directions:

Spread one 21 oz can of apple pie filling into a pie pan.  Mix 3/4 cups of finely chopped nuts, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, and 3 tablespoons of softened butter together in a separate dish until the butter is pretty well mixed in.  Spread the nut, sugar, flour, and butter mixture in a layer over the apple pie filling.  Bake at 325 for 30 minutes and serve warm with ice cream.

Before serving

The end result is a delicious warm cinnamon, apple, butter mixture with a great crumbly top that goes ridiculously well with just regular vanilla ice cream.

Dish it up!


Posted by on January 31, 2010 in Food, Justin


Stomp – the Snow Version

I drove up to Nine Mile Recreational Forest Area this afternoon, and met up with Mom and Ruth, to see if snowshoeing (rather than cross country skiing) was more our speed.  The weather was beautiful, though cold, about 18 degrees and sun sun sunny.  We paid for our trail passes and equipment rental, were handed a pair of snowshoes, and then ventured outside to begin our adventure.

I had only been snowshoeing once in the past, but this was Mom and Ruth’s first attempt.  And it could not have been easier.  The trail was relatively packed down and was easy to follow.  As there was only 5 inches of snow (due to all the rain last week) we didn’t fall into any soft spots or slide down any of the hills.  It was louder than we thought it would be, us crunching through the woods, and certainly did not spot or catch any deer or wildlife unaware.  The trail loop was 5.8 km (just over 3 1/2 miles) and took us through woods, fields, and across a small stream.  We made it back to the chalet safe and sound in about an hour and twenty minutes, after only a slight detour due to the Special Olympic races going on.  We are already discussing season trail pass prices and looking for some good deals on snowshoes this spring!


Posted by on January 30, 2010 in Activities, Family, Julie


Camera’s First Pictures

Hip, Hip, Hooray!  New Batteries!  New Charger!  Unfortunately, we were kind of out of the habit of taking pictures, and then blogging about anything.  It is hard to think of things to blog about in January.  It is COLD and DARK outside.  Windy, blustery, rainy, snowy.  None of which lend themselves to great picture quality.  I feel like there is a lot of pressure for the first post in so long.  It better be a great one!  Instead, I am going to amaze you with Animal Crackers.  Every so often I’ll get a bag of animal crackers to snack on.  And Wowsa!  We were not disappointed when we opened this package!

What the...??

Look at that!  A ginormous animal cookie blob!  This was about the size of my palm, and I just knew of its blog-worthiness.


Here is the bottom.  Obviously, the animal-cookie-batter-distribution device had a bit of an “issue” the day our bag was made.  Can’t you just picture it?  Dispensing… Dispensing… Dispensing… and then all of a sudden, erupting, making a satisfying Blurping noise?  It does seem a bit amazing to me, that this giant cookie blob got past quality control.  Don’t all these factories run the baked cookies on a belt past people looking out for these kinds of abnormalities?  Or is this particular cookie maker missing that step, and the cookies go directly from cooling into bags?  I kind of like the idea of someone seeing this blob, getting a kick out of it and letting it get bagged up, sent to the store, and then to our house, so we could get a kick out of it too!


Posted by on January 29, 2010 in Food, Julie, Snacks


Best fried chicken

I decided to make lunch today using some giant on-the-bone chicken breasts we picked up at People’s Meat Market out towards Amherst.  I found a recipe on Amazon of all places, as a sample to a cookbook I was looking at and decided to try it.  The book is recipes from Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller’s restaurant, so I figured it had to be pretty good, and it definitely met expectations.  The recipe took time, and it definitely wasn’t hard, but planning ahead is necessary.  Since it was just the two pieces of chicken, I quartered the recipe.  The first step involved making the brine yesterday and letting it cool all afternoon.  The chicken got put in before we went to bed last night and spent the night soaking in the brine in the fridge.  Today after church I made the breading, Julie cut the breasts off of the bones to make them manageable, and then I dredged them, soaked them in buttermilk and dredged them again before deep frying.  Once the chicken was cooked, which took a lot longer than the recipe said (mainly because of the size of the chicken breasts), we took it out to let it rest on a paper bag and used the hot oil to fry up some potato chips that I had cut with the mandolin.  The end result was crazy, amazingly good.  This is definitely a “keeper” and we will use the correct size chickens next time, instead of the godzilla chicken these pieces came from.  That will give a better ratio of breading / fried goodness to chicken that will make it even better.  Now time to buy the book so I have more access to recipes like these.

On an unrelated camera note – Julie sent our batteries down to Houston to our friend Emily to try in her charger for the exact same camera.  They charged just fine, so we now know that the charger was the problem, and a new one is one the way, so we will hopefully be taking better pictures soon!

The chicken and chips draining and cooling

So good....

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 17, 2010 in Food, Justin


Retro Disney World Post 2007

For Halloween 2007, Julie and I were in Disney World.  TopCoder invited me to be a reviewer for the TopCoder College Championship design track.  I reviewed software component designs submitted by “college” students.  While it does say “College Championship”, “University Championship” would be more applicable, as I believe a majority of the competitors were post-graduate.  The competitors did a bunch of qualifying work for a month and a half before the competition, focused on 3 designs.  If you want to be bored, you can read the synopsis here.  I wrote the description of the Faceted Classifications design.  Fascinating stuff, I know.

Me, hanging out in the room

The rooms had just been redone and were *awesome*

Nicely redone bathroom

Anyways, Julie and I got to go to Disney World where the “finals” were held.  We were at the Contemporary Resort, which the monorail comes right into, and I only had a couple hours of stuff to do a day, so we had plenty of free time to explore.   Our room was awesome, but it overlooked the themed restaurant about 6 or 7 floors below and every 15 minutes from 7 AM to 10 PM they sang the same song about how great it was to be at Disney World, or something like that.   Awesome.  I was singing that song for like 2 weeks after we got back.

Right out the door to our room. All we had to do was take an elevator and we just hopped on the monorail

Our hotel

On one of the days I finished a bit early and there was a PGA event in town, so we took a taxi over, bought some tickets and got to watch the pros golf for a few hours.  Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip 🙂

One of the nights, TopCoder bussed everyone over to Epcot where Disney had a dessert spread and open bar set up for everyone, right on the lake where the fireworks and laser light show happens every night.  This was definitely one of the more posh events we been a part of with TopCoder.

Julie and I waiting for the show to start at Epcot

The last day we were there, TopCoder treated all the competitors and reviewers, including Julie (thanks Jessie), to full passes to the Disney ecosystem.  We got a card that got us into everything at the resorts, including Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and MGM.  So, to get full use of the passes, we hit everything except for MGM in one day.  We started at Animal Kingdom.  When we there, my only goal was to pet a goat, so we set out for the petting zoo.  Turns out it’s hidden in the way back of the park, so we had to walk like 6 miles and take a weird train to get there.  Once we were there, all you can really do is pet goats, but it fulfilled the goal.  On the way out, there were employees with a giant bag passing things out, so we each grabbed one.  Turns out they were passing out “Dream Passes” for the park for that day.  Each pass had little pull off tabs that took you to the front of the line on all the popular attractions, so we got to do pretty much everything at Animal Kingdom without waiting line, which was awesome!

Animal Kingdom, on the Safari tour

Julie got in on the goat petting action

After Animal Kingdom, we popped over to Magic Kingdom for a little while.  I had been there when I was 8, and we found it was definitely geared a little more towards younger kids than we expected.  It was still fun to do the haunted mansion and just walk around and see all the Halloween decorations.  My other goal for the day was to eat a turkey leg, and that happened at Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom

Swiss Family Robinson tree house was a requirement of the day

Turkey Leg!

Julie with the Halloween decorations

Finally, we took the monorail back to Epcot since it was the Food and Wine show, so there was food everywhere and we really just wanted dinner 🙂  We ended up eating Turkish food since it had the shortest line and we were dying.  It was probably one of the best meals we had all week.  We then stumbled back onto the monorail and crashed in our room for a very long time.  All in all it was a really fun “bonus” trip that we wouldn’t normally have done otherwise.


Posted by on January 16, 2010 in Justin, Travel


Random iPhoto library photos

Here are some random photos from our iPhoto library.  Some don’t make any sense, some are weird, and some are mildly hilarious.  Most we took, but some we didn’t take and are in there anyways.  I currently have 13,994 pictures in the library (almost 70 GB), so I’m sure there’s some more gems floating around in there somewhere.  I decided to do this because I stumbled across the first picture of the dog in the dress.  Pure genius.

Best not to ask why

Downtown Seattle


Meat, cheese, and bread. Good day in our house

Behind you! (not taken by us - no idea who this is)

Julie, hard at work (she's on the right)

This is what Storm would do on every laundry day

We used to have a playhouse in our yard. Now it's a garage for a golf cart.

Belts Run!

Me, petting a goat

Fireworks on the 4th of July

Jim makes for good pictures

Julie is much more photogenic than I am

This is my normal picture face

Norm couldn't stand anything small on the edge of the table

Julie probably left Trav and I alone that day

Yoda cake pops

Yoda cake pops

Jim, with a cross dresser on Fat Tuesday

Jim, with a cross dresser on Fat Tuesday

I can't remember why we took this. I'm sure there was a good reason


Posted by on January 13, 2010 in Justin, Photography


More retro goodness

In April of 2006, Julie and I went on a cruise .  We left from Galveston and went all the way down to the Panama Canal, halfway through the canal, back out again, and then all the way back to Galveston.  We stopped in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.  Overall it was a great trip.  We sailed on Celebrity Cruise Lines, which we both agreed was not exactly catering to our demographic.  The entertainment was definitely skewed a little older than what we would have liked, but we had fun nonetheless.  Luckily, we were paired at dinner with a honeymooning couple – Theron and Ann Marie.  They were both extremely nice, and Theron was a bit of a computer geek – he worked as a computer programmer for a nuclear facility –  so we definitely had plenty in common.

We flew into Houston the day before and then took a cruise line bus from the hotel to Galveston, where we made it onto the ship.  This was our second cruise, so we knew a lot more what to expect for things like embarkation and the muster drill.

Me, on the ship

Obligatory muster drill freak out

The dinner group

The first stop was in Cozumel.  It had recently been hit by a hurricane, so the port itself was in disrepair.  There were large, damaged piers that used to be for getting on and off the ship, but we had to tender since they were in such bad shape.  We didn’t really have anything booked for excursions, but Julie had researched this port a bit before we left, so we got off the boat, into a cab (thankful for Julie’s 6 years of Spanish classes) and made it to a beach where we rented some snorkel equipment and got into the water.  This was our first vacation with our waterproof case for our point and shoot digital camera, and it has been great.  If you go on a lot of vacations to beaches, it’s worth the $100 – $150 investment to be able to take pictures in and out of the water without worrying about the camera.

The damaged pier

The snorkeling was great, the water was warm, and there were fish everywhere.  Definitely one of our best snorkeling experiences.

The beach

Clear water


Julie and I in the water

This is what I look like out of the water while snorkeling

After snorkeling, we just got right out of the water at a restaurant and ate lunch.  Definitely the way to do lunch.

Julie at lunch

Spectacular fish tacos

The next stop was in Costa Maya, where we didn’t really do anything – it was a pretty short stop.  After that, we sailed down to Costa Rica, where we went on a riverboat tour.

The riverboat cruise was definitely entertaining.  There was wildlife everywhere and we learned a lot about the area.


He wouldn't let me pet him....

Sloth. They come down to the river to poo

Howler monkeys. These things were ridiculously loud.

After Costa Rica, we made it to Panama.  The whole process of going through the canal was definitely interesting.  There were trains on either side of the canal that pulled the boats through.  There was only about 2 feet of clearance on either side of the boat to the canal walls.  When we stopped in Panama, there was a guy painting the boat where it had scraped against the walls.  We went through at about 7 in the morning, but even then it was extremely hot.  I think it was literally like 500 degrees out.

Looks like it's going to be a nice cool day....

Us, touching the canal wall

One small part of the mechanism

After the canal, it was time to start heading back to Galveston.  Our next stop was in Jamaica where we did a waterfall climb.  They warned everyone pretty strongly that this was fairly physically demanding and that you definitely wanted to dress for getting wet, with good shoes.   It was amazing to see how many people showed up in dress clothes, with dress shoes, khaki pants, etc…  Needless to say, they didn’t really get the full experience.

The bottom of the falls

Enjoying the falls

Julie, in the water

The last stop was in the Cayman Islands where we just took a short ride to the 7 mile beach and hung out in the water all day.  It was a somewhat cloudy day, but still very warm, and the water was perfect.

I'm floating away!

Here we are, in the water.

Overall, it was a great trip, and cemented cruising as one of our preferred vacations.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Justin, Travel