Christmas has been really great this year. The fun started on Christmas Eve with a dinner party with a few friends. After much debate about the menu we started with a green salad with pear and bleu cheese with a vinaigrette. I then cooked halibut fillets crusted with pine nuts, basil and Parmesan cheese. Its a recipe from Karen Barnaby’s The Passionate Cook. This was served over a bed of fresh angel hair pasta with a basil-lemon sauce plus some asparagus on the side (I make my own pasta and have a nice little hand-crank machine to roll it out and cut it into various sizes). For dessert I made chocolate lava cakes – one of Eileen’s favorites! Our friend Alan brought over a bottle of red wine made by a friend who lives in Napa Valley. Apparently its all the rage in Napa to make your own wine, and this was a really nice one. Reputed to be an award winner for home made wine in the region, it was nothing to sneer at I can assure you. Also had a bottle of Gewurztraminer from Poplar Grove here in British Columbia that was nicely paired with the halibut.
After our guests left we opened gifts. I gave Eileen a gold and silver necklace, a bracelet and a book on photography. We recently purchased a new Kodak 850 digital camera and she is quite interested to learn about all its settings and knobs, so the book will help quite a bit. She had spotted the bracelet quite a while ago and I remembered it in time for Christmas. Nothing is worse than remembering that perfect gift idea just in time for New Year’s Day.
I must have been a very good boy this year. Some highlights: a new iPod, some really cool square martini glasses, the book Roving Mars by Steve Squyres and gift certificates for the Sherline store. Wow!
Christmas Day we went out to brunch at the Sutton Place hotel. This was a new thing this year; we’ve gone to the Hotel Vancouver for the last few years but decided to try something new this year. It was really good with lots of tasty food including some excellent smoked salmon and poached eggs but the atmosphere didn’t quite do it for me. Plus they didn’t have scrambled eggs on the buffet (seems silly but sometimes it’s the little things that matter). Next year I think I will vote to go back to Hotel Vancouver. Its about $25 more per plate but I would definitely say its worth it. Plus their Santa is way better.
I’ve been reading my new book quite a bit. Roving Mars is the tale of the two latest Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity told by Steve Squyres, the Principal Investigator for the science mission. Two things I didn’t fully grasp about this (or any) space mission: for every one that launches there are a dozen that get canceled along the way; and every mission at NASA is more politically motivated than scientifically motivated. The background material for this mission is well written. I think the quality of the writing drops off a bit for the last two thirds of the book (landing and exploration) but its still very enjoyable and highly recommended.
The gift certificates for the Sherline store are greatly appreciated. I’ll be using those very soon, there are a few accessories for my Sherline mill and lathe that I desire to fill out my toolbox. I’ll write more about that when I make my selection.
The new iPod will replace my original iPod. This new model is fantastic – thinner than the original model by half and the interface is just as slick. I’ve been downloading videos to watch too, the most interesting being “Glimpses of How it’s made” from MAKE magazine. Cool, although I think watching video really eats the battery. Some experimentation is definitely required. Sadly here in Canada we don’t get the ability to download video programming from the iTunes Music Store, so the amount of video content is limited to things like video podcasts and DVDs that I can rip on my own.
On Boxing Day we started the World Juniors Hockey Tournament. We saw Canada vs. Finland at 4pm then raced across town to catch a Canucks vs. Flames game at 7pm. Canada won (5-1) and the Canucks lost (2-1). Both games were really exciting to watch, even if it was heart-breaking to watch the Canucks get beat at home again. Its now 5 straight losses at home and they are now 7th place in the division. Sigh.
Today (the 27th) was very quiet. No specific plans other than to hang out at the house. I read a little bit and worked on my latest robot project (more later when its complete). Eileen did some shopping. Soon I’ll start cooking dinner but I’m not sure what yet – Eileen will happily tell me what to cook, I’m certain. :^)