i headed out to belmont a bit early today (10am) since my parents were going on a costco-market basket supply run. there was a forecast of rain for today but it seemed to be holding off for the time being and i arrived without getting wet, even though the sky did look awfully grey. i had some egg pancakes for breakfast. my father went out to get the toyota inspected before we drove out to waltham to get our supplies. it had started to rain a little bit by that point.

first stop was costco, where i had to return a 20 lbs. bag of scotts ez seed patch & repair. it wasn't what we needed for our lawn, which requires a total overall, not just spot patching. costco was busy on a monday, a lot of people who wanted to avoid the weekend crowd came today, making it just as crowded. i didn't get anything there (actually i got some asian pears), but i enjoy finding strange new products. there was a sale on cordless phones, featuring the ability to connect to your cell phone via bluetooth. they also sold italian and spanish hams, mounted on a wooden rack, carving knife included. the spanish serrano ham was only $100, considering the italian prosciutto di parma was $200. costco also sells dried wild mushrooms, and an international hot sauce sampler collection.

we went to market basket around 1pm. we cycle between 4 different market baskets (waltham, chelsea, burlington, somerville), and they all have a different layout, which can be confusing. the one i'm most familiar with is my somerville store, but it's the least well-stocked store. i left with a carton of twinings green tea, i'm on a green tea kick ever since i rediscovered a box of bigelow green tea in my tea collection. while my father loaded up the car with groceries, my mother and i went next door to the market basket liquor store to look for some plum wine. she picked up a bottle of choya golden ume wine. we also checked out their bourbon selection but didn't get any. my mother was more interested in the mini sampler bottles behind the counter.

we left waltham by 1:30pm. instead of going home our usual way across bentley university, we got on the highway and took route 2 to get to cambridge so we could drop off the supplies at the cafe first. the rain continued. my mother asked me how i was going to get home, i told her the rain would eventually stop.

stop it did by around 4pm. we were back in belmont by that point, but my father and i went to home depot to return a bunch of stuff: 2x3 lumber, BIN primer, drywall screws, grass seeds, fertilizer, and circuit breakers. we probably returned about $150 worth of unwanted materials. i picked up a 10ft paper-faced metal corner bead ($6.98) before leaving.

back at home (4:30pm) i tried to use the time i had to finish some outstanding tasks. i help my mother pay their meal tax. i tried fixing the digital clock in the living room (the numbers aren't as bright anymore) and i managed to break the clock in the process (won't turn on, and will pop the circuit breaker on the surge protector as well). i went outside and did some gardening. it was foggy at first, but the sky sort of cleared up a bit, before it became cloudy again. overall it was a raw sort of day. i planted some potted foxgloves in the perennial bed behind the garage. there were also a few hardy chrysanthemums in the mix as well. i started treating some our houseplants with insecticide before bringing them in for the winter. it's a 3 step regimen, involving adding a systemic insecticide granule (imidacloprid) to the soil (long-term pesticide for killing any insects on the plants), spraying with pyrethrin (to kill any active pests currently living on the plants), and watering with Bti-infused water (primarily to kill fungus gnat larvae feeding in the soil). i also added some yellow sticky traps to capture any flying pests (mostly fungus gnats). i got as far as adding systemic granules to all the jasmines and most of the pileas, but wasn't able to get beyond that. i was hoping to bring them inside, but the jasmines will stay outside for another week, so i can properly treat them when i finally have some free time.

my father started cooking a bit before 6pm. we'd brought some frozen whole shrimps from costco and my mother said she wanted to eat them tonight, even though we already had shrimp yesterday. she also bought some steaks and wanted to grill them too. she also had pork chops but that would've been an insane amount of food for just 3 people. just the shrimps alone would be enough for dinner. my father was game (grilling steaks and wok frying the shrimps both only took a few minutes), but discovered out of the 3 propane tanks we have, only one of them was full.

so we grilled the steaks first, after which we switched the propane tank and connected it to the wok burner. this time around we followed a more traditional salt & pepper shrimp recipe, coating the shrimps in corn starch first, frying them in the wok, removing them when done, stir-frying the aromatics, then adding back the fried shrimps. by the time we finished cooking the shrimps, it was almost near dark. my father rinsed out the wok with water and a bamboo whisk before finally turning off the burner. because it'd started to rain again, we disassembled everything and my father put the burner back in the garage.

the steaks were already cold by the time we came inside for dinner. however, the shrimps were still warm. i don't know what cut the steaks were, but they were thin, and we only cooked them 3 minutes per side, for a medium-rare doneness. they weren't particularly fatty, so there wasn't a lot of flare-ups, which actually cuts down on the flavoring and the charring. steaks on their own would've been the star of dinner, but the simply novelty of fried shrimps trumped all other dishes.

because the shrimps were fried first, there wasn't any of that raw taste like last night's shrimps. there wasn't a lot of "breading" from the corn starch, but still enough for some additional crunch. the shells were super crispy, and brittle enough to eat the shrimps whole. as an added bonus, most of the shrimps contained eggs. my father didn't add any hot peppers though, i would've preferred some chopped jalapeno. he said he overcooked the shrimps slightly. my mother said a salt & pepper dipping sauce would make it even more delicious. i didn't notice any of that smoky flavor i had from last night, maybe it was masked by the frying.

my mother also got some parma prosciutto, which i've never had before. i thought it'd be delicious (she paired it with some cantaloupe), but the prosciutto was very "wet" to the point where it seemed raw, it wasn't very salty, and actually there wasn't all that much flavors. the raw texture made it taste kind of gross. i can't believe this is real parma prosciutto, must be a defective batch.

after dinner i continued with my houseplant preparations. i brought all the pileas down into the basement and watered them so the systemic granules could soak into the roots. earlier i was in the basement taking apart my hydroponic station (my mustard greens have started to bolt and a lot of leaves were scorched from being too dry) and also watering the orchids. my father came down and help me line up the pileas on the shelves under the strip grow lights. once again another weekend where i wasn't able to set up my aeroponic grow station. i doubt i'll have the time next weekend, as i'll be busy doing bathroom repair work.

a cafe-related weirdness happened today. i noticed i got an e-mail alerting me to an online order. since the cafe is closed today, that didn't make any sense. however with our square online ordering system, customers can pre-order and pick up at a future date a week in advance. so that's what happened: somebody made an order at 5pm, for pickup tomorrow morning 10:30am. the payment already went into our account. even without opening the cafe we're still making money!

i didn't leave belmont until almost 9pm. it wasn't raining but it was foggy outside and wet. i had to wipe dry the motorcycle seat with the sleeve of my jacket. it was actually pleasantly warm, i somehow expected it to be colder tonight.

i actually thought i'd be able to get started on bathroom repair work tonight but i got home too late and i was too tired to work. tomorrow is my big work day, gave me an excuse not to go running.

this is how you know you're getting old: i was excited to get home so i could try the twinings green tea i got earlier. it wasn't that good, very bland, no flavor. bigelow classic green tea is still the best.