Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jackie Chan Chilli

Sunday, May 31, 2009 0
Tonight for dinner, we had Jackie Chan Chili. It really is more like a curry, but Jackie Chan Curry doesn't sound nearly as cool as Jackie Chan Chili (and neither sounds as good as it tastes).

Here is the recipe:

2 tsp peanut oil
2 shallots
Minced 3 cloves garlic
Minced 2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced lemongrass
4 cups chicken broth
4 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp Asian chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese five spice
3 cups black beans, drained
Rinsed 1.5 lbs ground beef


1. Heat the oil in a pot at medium-high heat. Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and beef in the pot and brown for two minutes. Pour in the broth.
2. Once the mixture is boiling, add in the hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Asian chili sauce, sesame oil and Chinese five spice. Stir in the beans and simmer on medium-high for one hour, stirring occasionally.


In the fall of 2007, we decided we wanted a garden in the front. We went to the greenhouse and bought some plants. We treated the planting instructions as "guidelines" that could be ignored with minimal difference. Those plants died during the spring of 2008.

This year, we decided to retry this gardening thing. We dug out the front garden as deep as a shallow grave. We bought some plants and refilled it with brand new top-soil. We covered with mulch. Look at the results:

Okay, it is boring. It resembles a garden you might find at a municipal 9-hole golf-course. However, except for the bushes, all the plants are annuals and we'll get to replant next year; we hope our confidence grows (no pun intended) after this year and we'll try something more daring next year.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stuff Beatrix Likes - Dancing to MGMT

Friday, May 29, 2009 0

Here is Beatrix dancing to her second favorite band MGMT. (Her favorite band is Handsome Furs.) The song is Electric Feel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beatrix's First Word

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 0
Beatrix said her first word today. We are defining "first word" to mean any word one verbally says in which the speaker comprehends the meaning of for the first time and is recognized within the English Dictionary. This would disqualify any babble she may have said that happened to be a word because she did not comprehend the meaning of. This would also disqualify and baby sign-language she has done in the past.

Beatrix was playing independently with the baby-gate near the stairs for approximately ten minutes. Cathryn then played a home video on the computer which was five feet away from Beatrix. Beatrix immediately turned around when she heard the video, said "momma, momma" and started crawling towards Cathryn's feet. Because this is the first time we can document beyond a reasonable doubt that both conditions were met (saying the word verbally and knowing the meaning of what she was referring to), we are declaring that on May 27, 2009, Beatrix said her first word. We suspect, however, that she probably knew she was saying at other times(including here). We are declaring it today, however, because the previous times she likely said it was less definitive she knew what she was referring to.

Beatrix Looking For Her Momma

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Bad News

Saturday, May 23, 2009 0
We went to see Terminator Salvation at the Elmwood Regal on Saturday afternoon. After the movie, we returned to find the driver-side window of our Chevy Aveo smashed. When we inspected the evidence, we deduced someone was trying to break into our car and steal the Satellite Radio. They did not take it, however, as the door was now stuck shut (due to broken glass obstructing the handle) and our car-alarm brought attention to the scene before the burglar had time to devise a Plan B.

We contacted our car-insurance company and the deductible will be $500. So one day after our Zune broke, we got hit again. Hopefully I will have some good news next week to report to make up for these past few painful days.

After dealing with the car, we decided to treat ourselves to comfort food. First we split a Chicken-Finger Sub from Bob and John's. We then got dessert from Dolci.

My First Photo ID

I have my first photo ID and it even complies with the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our Zune is Broken

Friday, May 22, 2009 0
So our 80-gig Zune is broken; it is no longer recharging. When I checked out the Microsoft website, I found out the warranty expired five months ago and it would cost $160 to fix it. A new 120-gig Zune is $250 at Best Buy, so getting it fixed isn't exactly a good offer.

I am a pretty vindictive consumer who will stop shopping at a store or buying from a company if I feel wronged by them. In this particular instance, I feel wronged. The Zune is almost always indoors, is less than two years old and is used less than an hour a day; the battery malfunctioning is clearly the result of the product being poor. I definitely do not want to buy another Zune because of this.

The only other major model of MP3 player, which would make it the obvious choice for our next music player, is the I-Pod. I-Pods, however, are made by Apple and I hate Apple. I hate their annoying commercials with Justin Long. I hate their smug users. I hate dealing with people who don't use PC file formats because their Apple Computer can't open them. (The background music in some of their I-Pod commercials, however, is usually quite good.)

So we are at an impasse. I am half-tempted to record everything I have on mix-tapes and use a Walkman (not really). Either way, it'll take a little while to save up to buy a new one. I guess I will be humming to myself while on the treadmill for the time being.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beatrix Feeding Herself

Thursday, May 21, 2009 0

Tonight we allowed Beatrix to feed herself with a spoon for the first time. As you can tell from the pictures, it was a great success!

Okay, it really wasn't a "success". We had about as much successful as we did the first time we tried to feed her cereal, hardly any. We did not record Beatrix's first attempt at self-feeding with a spoon on video because when we previously tried to document her first attempts at other milestones, it didn't go very well (see here). Beatrix feeding herself with a spoon didn't go any better, so at least it wasn't because she was camera-shy (Real World Season 55 - here she comes...the bitchy one who takes the country bumpkin under her wing and shows her the ways of the world). One bonus of not video-recording was we didn't have to do any uncomfortable color commentary while being mildly frustrated she wasn't being successful at either scooping for or putting the spoon in her mouth.

Anyways, this is what she actually looked like for about the 15 minutes she tried.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time for more Pics!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 0

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Shows Will Be Back!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009 0
Our two favorite shows were renewed for next year: Chuck and Dollhouse. This is big news considering we watch only five scripted television shows, the others being Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock and Heroes (though I doubt we will continue to watch Heroes next year).

Both Chuck and Dollhouse were on the bubble this year and their renewal was not guaranteed. Dollhouse, in fact, is the lowest rated show to ever get renewed. So when these shows return, please watch them!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Save The Date - 8/2/09

Sunday, May 17, 2009 1
After going back and forth on the matter, we have decided that we are going to hold a party this August to celebrate Beatrix's first birthday. I know this is pretty early to start getting ready, but we plan ahead in the Real Bray household. Part of the reason for us deciding to do so is that Beatrix won't have any religious holidays/milestones to celebrate, so it seems unfair we should deprive her of a large celebration until later in life. (The baby books we read recommend having large parties at milestone birthdays, such as 5 and 10, and having smaller parties for non-milestone birthdays.) Another reason is we want her to build a closer relationship with her cousins that are around the same age.

The theme of the party will be puppies, although our dogs will be in jail on vacation that week at a Kennel relaxing spa. We plan on making this a child centric expect lots of different foods that feature peanut-butter as the main ingredient. We also plan on distributing gift-bags to the children who attend and have games for them to play. Sports will definitely not be on the TV if we have anything to say about it (though I doubt we will.)

We have yet to decide if we want this to be a family-only party or a friends and family party. If anybody has any insight on this, please let us know. If you are a family member (or possibly a friend if we opt to go that route), please look for an invitation toward the end of June.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Susan's Birthday Dinner

Saturday, May 16, 2009 0
Last Friday, we took Cathryn's mom ("Susan") out to dinner for her birthday. (Her birthday was actually over a week ago, but she was on vacation at the time.) We decided to try a new place for the occasion, Vino's, an inexpensive Italian restaurant on Elmwood near Amherst.

Vino's is a smaller restaurant and a bit off the beaten track. I only knew of it because I had designed an invitation for a political fundraiser held there a few months prior and heard good things from those who attended. It was recommended that we get reservations, which was sound advice given that there are only approximately twelve tables at the restaurant.

A chalkboard with the menu written on it lines the back of the restaurant and is its most striking feature. A handsome bar lines the side wall of the restaurant with an extensive wine and liquor collection sitting behind. A collection of deserts sits on the side portion of the bar. There are tea-light candles and a single flower at each table. The restaurant manages to be both cozy and fancy at the same time.

Both the waitress and hostess were very good with Beatrix. They had a high-chair for her to sit on and placed some cloths over the vent so Beatrix did not get too cold. They even didn't say when Beatrix started repeatedly saying "nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnAH." (That is a long N sound followed by a thudding ah.) They wisely recommended that we rip off the paper from her portion of the table because she was playing with it, and gave us a napkin for her to play with instead.

We ordered Bruschetta as an appetizer. It was served a bit colder that we would have preferred, but was still very good. (Beatrix may not have been as big of a fan however; when we gave her a few small pieces to try, she gave us her stink-face.) All our meals came with a small salad, which they serve with their house-dressing. The salad was nothing to write home about and we were not fond of the lemony salad dressing. Susan ordered Ravioli, which she referred to as being "...the best ravioli she ever had." (Susan is from England, though, so it's not like she is the world's expert on ravioli or anything.) Cathryn ordered Pasta with Garlic and Oil in which she greatly enjoyed. I ordered (what else???) Spaghetti and Meatball. My meal was excellent, however I do believe both my sauce and meatballs are slightly better. For desert, Cathryn and Susan shared a piece of Triple-Chocolate cake, which they both greatly enjoyed. Both Susan and I had a cup of coffee after our meals, which we both found to be excellent. Overall, we found the food to be very, very good - though it still could be improved upon.

The best part of the meal was the price - $45.60 (or something like that). We ended up giving a $9.40 tip because the service was so excellent (especially with Beatrix) and were so impressed with our dining experience. We definitely plan to go back soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beatrix on the Push Walker

Friday, May 15, 2009 0
Beatrix has moved up from an activity walker to a push walker. In no time, she'll actually be walking. Before then, we hope to train the dogs to accept a walking Beatrix without feeling the need to lick her silly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stuff Brian Likes - Buffalo in Spring Edition

Sunday, May 10, 2009 0
Sweetness_7 Cafe - An absolutely awesome West Side coffee shop. You feel a thousand times cooler than you actually are when you go there.

Five Points Bakery - A bakery that focuses on sustainable agriculture (that is a long way of saying Hippy Bakery). The baked goods are so good however you don't mind having to wait behind some chick with dreadlocks and Birkenstocks to get it. Bonus - It is next to Urban Roots Community Gardening Center so you can check out gardening stuff while you are in the area.

Jenny's Clayhouse is where Beatrix made Cathryn's Mother's Day Gift...with much help from the Clayhouse staff. (They are not so good at spellchecking their website however.)

Shickluna Bikes & Darts just tuned up Brian's bicycle and, despite making the brakes so tight he almost wiped out the first time he tried them, did a splendid job.

Hertel Farmer's Market & Deli is a great place to get fresh produce. It is located near the corner of Hertel and Delaware - just within walking distance for us!

Johnny's Meats is another North Buffalo mainstay for meats, eggs and twice-baked potatoes. We heart it.

Mother's Day Bruch 2009 (Part II - People and the Place)

For Mother's Day, The Real Bray Family invited over Brian's mom (or Mema to Beatrix) and her husband Jimmy, and Cathryn's mom (or Nanna to Beatrix). (We also invited over some other family members who were unable to attend). Here is what it looked like.

Mother's Day Brunch 2009 (Part 1) - The Food

On the menu for the 1st Annual Real Bray Family Mother's Day Bruch was:
  • Fruit Salad (not pictured, prepared by Brian's mom Pamela)

  • Scotch Eggs (Hard boiled eggs wrapped with sausage and coated with bread-crumbs)

  • French Toast Casserole (Recipe from Teresa of Buffalo Locavore fame)

  • Chocolate Raspberry Butterfly Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry filling in the shape of a butterfly)

This is Why You're Fat

"This Is Why You're Fat" is one of our favorite websites. We recently made a dessert that was so over-the-top that we felt it belonged on the website. It is a "Basketful of Kisses": a German Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk-Chocolate Frosting (decorated to resemble a basket) and topped off with "Special Dark" and "Filled with Caramel" Hershey Kisses. We took a picture of it and sent it to the makers of "This Is Why You're Fat".

We'll post a link if we get on. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Nine month checkup.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 0
And again we have perfection! A little heavier this time but the doctor was not concerned about it. Beatrix weighed in at 20lbs 3.5oz and is 27.5 inches high. Beatrix was very relieved that she did not have to receive any vaccines at this visit and she was not to concerned about the finger prick for her anemia test, which was normal. The doctor was pleased with Bebe's development and is thrilled that she is well ahead of the game. Our next visit is not until after her first birthday!

Enjoy some more pics!!

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