my original plan for today was to wake up early and go to the somerville home depot to get a new sprinkler (all the ones we have are broken, they don't seem to last very long, a season or two at most) then go the cafe to see if i can update the chalkboard menu before finally stopping in belmont to water the lawn and use up as much rain water as possible before the next storm.

i didn't wake up until 10am, after having gone to bed last night at 3am. i didn't leave for home depot until almost 11am. it didn't take long, a little over half an hour to get there and back. i noticed they were selling face masks for $30 a box (50), the same price i saw at market basket (you need to buy from the register), and the same price i saw online through wyze. i ended up buying a gilmour 8-pattern stationary sprinkler ($7.98) and a brass shutoff valve ($6.98); i found it a little outrageous that the valve was nearly the price of the sprinkler, they sold a cheaper variant ($1.50 cheaper) that was aluminum but the valve used an inferior plastic ball, figured i pay extra for the quality. i need the shutoff valve so i can pair the sprinkler with our on-demand water pump, since the sprinkler itself has no built-in shutoff mechanism.

since i was passing by the somerville market basket, i decided to stop to get some groceries. i was making a quiche tonight and needed some ingredients. i quickly checked my blog for the recipe to figure out what i was missing: just frozen spinach and ricotta cheese, everything else i had in the fridge. i called my mother, who asked me to get some scallions, bananas, and some coffee for her.

i was back at home by noontime. i decided to have some yogurt for lunch before leaving. my mother called me, asking if i was still at the supermarket, since she needed bean sprouts for making pad thai. after i finished eating, i rode back to market basket to get the bean sprout before riding to the cafe.

i got to the cafe by 1pm. my parents told me since they opened at 10am, they only got one customer. originally they weren't going to let anyone inside, but the cafe interior is large enough that they felt safe to let customers in. a few years back they got government money to install a handicap access door that automatically opens with a push of a button; nobody ever used it so they disabled it, but now plugged it back in. while i was riding to the cafe i noticed it seemed closed. i redid the sidewalk chalkboard sign and put it outside. 10 minutes later they got their first customers since this morning, two boys getting some bubble ice tea. a few more customers showed up while i was there, some old customers happy the cafe was finally opened. one old lady even had a seat inside and ate a meal before leaving. of all the businesses nearby (florist, dry cleaning, pet grooming, 2 restaurants) my parents' cafe was the last one to reopen. my 2nd aunt and godmother showed up later in the afternoon for their knitting circle with my mother.

i started working on the chalkboard menus. they were long overdue for a makeover. the menu boards used to be white dry erase (which i worked on) before my sister converted them to black chalkboards and she wrote back all the menu items. but i never liked her handwriting - too messy, hard to read - and at one point they changed some of the prices and it looks very obvious. there were also layout issues: bubble tea is one of the most popular items but it only occupied a quarter of the old board, so you almost don't know it's there.

the sidewalk chalkboard i used actual sidewalk chalk, but for the menu boards i used chalk markers, which i've never used before. i like them, they write like dry-erase markers, goes on smooth. they also occasionally get dry like dry-erase markers too, at which point i need to prime the markers by pressing down on the tip a few times on a piece of napkin. the markers come with reversible tips: calligraphy or standard round. my sister had them all on calligraphy, i switched them back to normal round.

i cut up a menu printout so i could rearrange the categories to find the best fit. we cleaned the blackboards by using a magic eraser. it took a few passes before we got it completely clean (a blank slate if you will). what i didn't want was customers being able to see the old prices underneath.

i started with bubble tea first, which paired up with smoothies and ice cream. instead of just a quarter of the space, bubble ice tea now occupies half a board. i used bubble text for the heading even though i wanted a solid text because it'd take too long to fill in the solid space with the markers. when i realized that all the bubble tea drinks were $4, i decided to write a big solid $4 in the middle. originally it was going to be a solid yellow circle with a $4 cutout, but it was a pain trying to fill in the solid area so i did a new version of the price with a solid $4 instead. by happy coincidence smoothies are also $4. ice cream i did a mini 3 column layout for the different scoop prices.

next was hot and cold drinks. originally it was going to be 2 columns but i didn't have enough space to fit as many as 11 items. that's when i decided to making it into 4 columns, 2 columns per category. i couldn't get the price to sit on the same line so i did an offset, using the neon yellow for prices. coffee bridged two columns since people ask for that the most. my sister made it an issue to have the actual oz. amount instead of just small and large. next was the noodles and entrées menu. this one was a grab bag, as we also needed to fit soup and salad as well as baked goods. finally, the specials. that one was easy, as it was one single category, i just had to divide the items into 2 columns.

i didn't finish until almost 5pm. there was no time to go to belmont to water the lawn. besides, my father said he woke up this morning at 6am and already watered everything. i gave him the new sprinkler and asked him to use it when he got the chance. i rode back home.

spinach ham quiche(6 slices)

pie crust
flour (coating dish)

onion, chopped
10 oz. frozen spinach
8oz. diced ham
fresh ground pepper

15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella
2 oz. goat cheese
2 oz. feta cheese

3 eggs

defrost frozen spinach in the morning. cook onion, spinach, ham, and spices then mix into cheese & egg blend. spoon into pie crust, bake at 350° for 40 minutes. let stand for 20 minutes before eating (allows quiche to solidify, otherwise will be runny).

i made spinach ham quiche for dinner for a bunch of reasons: i happen to already have a lot of quiche ingredients i needed to use up before they go bad; it wasn't a particularly hot day so i can run the oven and not turn my house into a furnace. the crust i had since march, when i made a quiche in the early days of the coronavirus quarantine. diced ham were leftover from my greek salad. a quiche is also a good way to use up leftover cheese, and besides the ricotta and mozzarella bases, i also had some leftover goat cheese and feta cheese for additional flavors.

i started making the quiche around 7:45pm, i didn't eat until 9pm. letting the quiche rest after baking is important to not have a watery quiche. i ended up eating two slices. i couldn't taste the goat cheese nor the feta cheese, but they did impart a more complex savoriness, the feta contributing some saltiness along with the ham.

i restarted watching alias a few days ago (streaming on amazon prime). looking bad, the rimbaldi storyline seems so ridiculous, a mcguffin that got crazier and crazier as the seasons wore on. i personally love alias for all the different costume changes sydney bristow goes through, as well as the human element, her relationship to her estranged father, the flirtatious relationship with her CIA handler vaughn, her relationship with her coworker dixon, and her relationships with her friends. i was pretty mad when they killed of francie and replaced her with evil francie.