Category Archives: Cheese Party

It’s only a cheddar moon

Winter seems to have returned with a vengeance, with multiple snow days that have cancelled school and activities. Fortunately, the Saturday we chose to have our biennial cheese party, it was sunny and dry, so our cheesy plans kicked off without a hitch. I took the kids to Burger King for some running-around time before they had a sleepover with Grammy so Vivian and I could enjoy some adults-only time with our friends.


This year’s cheese party was different, as we now had a category for cheesy dishes. Our friends brought such treats as Taco Cheese Balls, a Red Velvet Cheese Ball, and a pepperjack hash brown casserole (which won). Vivian made a cheese fondue bake with stacks of Camembert wrapped inside a pizza crust, which was quite tasty.

We had all the regular cheese samples of course, and the night’s winner was a Marco Polo cheese, narrowly beating out a North Sea cheese and a raspberry bella vitano. We had a delicious sampling of everything before telling some cheesy jokes and then passing out the awards. Jenny won for the cheesiest dish, Kody won for cheesiest joke, and Jen won for the best cheese of the night.

The party wound down afterward with a few rounds of Telestrations, which is always good for a laugh, especially with our friends (one of whom surprised us and wound up staying the night).


Vivian and I got to enjoy a rare kid-free breakfast down at Village Inn before picking up Hannah and Aaron from Grammy (and bringing some pie to say thanks). We had more fresh snow that morning, so we day a quiet day inside afterward, nibbling on cheesy leftovers and letting the kids play with some of our cheesy props. I got to play with my Raspberry Pi a bit more, installing a few fun screensavers that the kids found fascinating.

Then that evening, Vivian baked some leftover bread with Camembert and garlic to make some tasty dinner for us. Then around 9:30, we got to watch a total lunar eclipse outside from our driveway. It was a nippy 12 degrees or so, but I went outside multiple times to get a few good shots, including totality, when the Super Wolf Blood Moon was complete. It was a beautiful sight, once I thought I’d miss when this morning it was snowing and overcast for most of the day.

Cheese, Sushi, and Nintendo


Over the weekend, Hannah and Aaron had a sleepover at Grammy and Pop-Pop’s house while Vivian and I held our biennial Cheese Party, a tradition we kicked off way back in 2009. This year had a new stipulation of no domestic cheese, primarily to stave away anyone bringing a block of Kraft Sharp Cheddar or store-brand Havarti. We had a fun selection of cheeses this season, including a pesto gouda from the Netherlands, sweet cheddar from Ireland, beer cheese from Great Britain, a super-stinky reblechon from France, and this year’s winner, a caramelized Ski Queen cheese from Norway (AKA gjetost).

Our usual gang of cheesy friends joined us for the cheese, some wine, and some cheesy jokes, topped off with some Telestrations at the end. We still haven’t broken out our copy of Cheesy Parcheesi. Maybe next time. Congratulations to Libby for her winning cheese, Tamra for her winning wine, and Frank for his cheesy jokes!


Later in the week, Vivian got to try out the pair of clippers she got for Christmas on Pop-Pop, giving him her very first haircut. Hannah and Aaron also went to the dentist for their annual check-ups and performed like champs.

Then on Thursday, Vivian and I celebrated our tenth Sushi Anniversary. Back in 2007, after having sushi at Sakura Bana, Vivian asked me on the way to JNO if I wanted to “make it official.” Every year since then, we’ve found a way to celebrate the occasion with sushi. This year, we went to Sakura Sushi & Hibachi in Council Bluffs, where they had the typical assortment of sushi and appetizers, along with some delicious tempura cheesecake for dessert. Half their restaurant is also a hibachi grill, and Vivian very much wants to come back to watch their entertaining chef preparing food right in front of us.


One other bit of fun we had over the weekend involved my finally getting an NES Classic Console. I had to use to send me an alert when the local Target had one in stock. Then I had to wait out front right before opening to get inside and grab one of the THREE units they had in stock that morning. I have it a good test-run that evening, and I even let Hannah and Aaron play with it a bit (Kirby’s Adventure seems to be Hannah’s favorite). It’s a good deal for $60, but I can’t imagine paying $300 to a scalper to get this thing. There are lots of fun games that all play just the way you’d expect, and the controller’s infamously short cord isn’t as much of an issue as I expected. The only real problem I had was with saving a game’s progress. There’s room for four save slots with each game, but it’s very easy to hit the wrong button and have your progress wiped out.


We had a little more fun over the weekend when my mom and dad and Uncle Jonny came over Saturday night to have some pizza and watch What’s My Line. It was mostly fun just to have someone for the grandkids to play with other than mommy and daddy for a change. Then on Sunday, Mommy helped Hannah make her very first Apple Pie, which we all got to have for dessert after dinner.

Now, to wrap up, here’s a rundown of all ten years of our Sushi Anniversaries! Thank you for all the wonderful years of being “officially” yours, Vivian!

Cheese Party: Number Four


Shelly Gillen and Tom Becka

We got another fresh batch of snow on Wednesday morning, which made for a slow, slippery drive to work. It hadn’t been cleaned up entirely by evening, and I nearly got stuck on a side street on my way to see Tom Becka’s second live show at the Pizza Shoppe.

Among the topics of the day, which included complaining about the snow, was a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana before the legislature. Tom’s special guest of the evening was Shelly Gillen, whose son has a disabling disease that causes a couple dozen seizures a day. She wants to be able to treat him with hemp oil and is trying to get a law passed so she can treat her son with it legally in Nebraska. The primary roadblock seems to be fear that it will lead to recreational use to marijuana, as doctors in other states seem to be able to write a prescription for it for just about any reason at all.

IMG_4425We had a sudden warmth for the rest of the week, with temperatures shooting to the mid-50s, which made for perfect snowman-building weather. Vivian took Hannah outside Friday afternoon to try to roll together a snowman or two in our front yard, but she seemed a bit more interested in eating the snow rather than building anything fun with it.

One of our friends seemed to be in a snowman-building mood as well. Vivian went out to check the recycling bin when she was greeted with a rather creepy visitor standing behind my Ford Taurus. I guess we were asking for it when we left the garage door open a bit too long.


On Saturday night, we hosted our fourth bi-annual Cheese Party. We hosted our biggest crowd yet as a couple dozen friends stopped by to sample wine and cheese with us for an evening that was almost classy. Our defending champion, Mark, retained his crown and narrowly won with his Baltic Porter Bella Vitano. His prize was a set of cheese knives that handles that somewhat resemble swiss cheese. Merinda took home a set of decorative wine-stoppers for her 2014 Australian Moscato, and Ole won the prize for Cheesiest Joke with the one about a lady praying for groceries on her porch.

It was a great evening with a diverse group of friends, and I’m always amazed at how we can have a great time together with nothing more than some wine, cheese, and a few jokes.

The Cheese Party

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Last Saturday, the Johnson Family hosted the third Cheese Party at our home in Bellevue. We’ve been hosting it every other year since 2009, and January always seemed like the perfect, dreary month to do something fun after the holidays. (Naturally, about a hundred other people this year decided the same thing.) In any case, we had a fun time with our typical cluster of cheesy friends, sipping wine and trying out a number of hard, soft, and stinky cheeses together. Mark won the crown for a tasty Dubliner cheese and Phil and Jen won for a soft, stinky cheese. Ryan took the prize in for cheesiest joke after several rounds, which eventually turned into dirty limericks (after Hannah went to bed). We spent a little too much time cheesing around to watch one of the fine cheesy movies that Phil and Jen brought, but hopefully we’ll have the chance to do that next year. The Return of Captain Invincible looked suitably cheesy.

In other news, Walmart had some frozen turkeys on sale for 50 cents a pound, so Vivian and I bought a large one and decided to roast it. Add in some stuffing and cranberry sauce from Aldi and we had ourselves a little Thanksgiving in January, which was delicious. Hannah also turned 14 months old, becoming more a little lady every day. We also paid a visit to Lisa and her ailing mom, quite happy to share what adorableness our little girl can bring to those in need.

Cheesy Party, Snowy Sunday

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Last Saturday, Vivian and I hosted our second cheese party, this time in our home in Bellevue. We invited a few of our fellow cheesy friends over to enjoy some wine and cheese, along with cheesy trivia and cheesy games people could play and complete for cheesy prizes. Vivian also made some cheese for everyone to try, which was quite a fun treat.

We also told some cheesy jokes, which went over much better after a bottle or two of wine. The winner of the Best Cheese this year was Lisa, who had the honor of taking the cheese cap away from Venche with, surprisingly enough with some Stilton Blue she found at Aldi. We had a fairly fierce blizzard roll into the metro area, so some people had to cut out early, but a few stayed for a cheesy movie — Pumaman, courtesy of MST3K.

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The next day, we got to enjoy the remains of the blizzard by going sledding with Jenny and friends over at Standing Bear Lake. It have me the chance to try out my freezeproof, waterproof, and generally adventure-proof camera, recording some horrible shaky video was sliding downhill. Jenny and Jon also went out onto the lake to make snow angels and write messages in the snow (with footprints, all right?) We retreated indoors for pizza and games once the cold became a bit too much.

It seemed a fitting way to end the weekend before our big trip to Las Vegas. More on that next time.

Sledding at Standing Bear Lake

Blessed are the cheesemakers

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Vivian and I have enjoyed a few quiet, snowy weekends back home in Bellevue since the holidays have wound down. We’re both preparing for a Cheese Party in the next week or two, so Vivian tried her hand at cheese-making one Saturday. She was able to produce some tasty soft white cheese, very much like ricotta, from a gallon of whole milk. It should be fun to top off another cheese-tasting event with something made right in our own kitchen!

We got to enjoy an unexpected three-day weekend when a fairly large snowstorm passed by and dumped a good portion of white stuff all over the Omaha metro area. I shoveled our driveway at least three times trying to keep it clear, which seemed like a futile effort at times, but it was nice to have the extra time off to do it. I was also a little amused at how the snow storm suddenly became national news only when it approached the east coast a few days later.

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Snow on the ground, of course, means spending more time in the Great Indoors, which often means cooking. Vivian made up some tasty stuffed peppers one Saturday just for fun, and she also went all-out with something of a seafood feast made entirely of items I’d found at Aldi. You’d never guess the little discount store down the street would have such things as lobster tails, bay scallops, and mussels available (not to mention wine). Yeah, we’re living up, albeit on the cheap.

We’ve still been having fun with our friends, of course, dropping by JNO for dancing and then tacos at Alvorado’s afterward (two weeks in a row). On Saturday, we joined Jenny and a few of our mutual friends at Mic’s in northwest Omaha for karaoke. The guys stepped up with I’m too sexy, which was hilarious, and the girls and I got to perform Love Shack once again. I’ve taken a pledge to boycott Omaha for the time being, so I didn’t get a dose of liquid courage before stepping on stage. From the sound of the inebriated members of the audience, it sounded like we did just fine.

The Cheese Party

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Over the weekend, Vivian and I got to host our long-anticipated Cheese Party at our apartment. Around a dozen people dropped by with samples of unusual cheesy comestibles, and we all got to vote on our favorites. Vivian did some great work researching the “proper” way to eat cheese, with served it up with individual knives for every cheese and slices of a baguette to cleanse the palette between samples. Other friends brought bottles of wine, which we got to enjoy together liberally as Vivian whipped up some five-cheese lasagna for dinner. I put together a list of insanely difficult cheese trivia questions, and we handed out prizes for the guest who got the most questions right. We also had a prize for guessing the number of cheese cubes in a glass vase and a cheese ball cap went to Venche for bringing the most popular cheese.

We stayed up late watching an especially cheesy Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie: The Horror of Party Beach. A handful of us stuck around afterward to play with Apple’s photo booth connected to our flat-screen TV, producing over a thousand snapshots of silliness that lasted until two in the morning.

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On Sunday, Vivian and I dropped by our friend Sarah’s place to help her move into her new apartment. There was pizza for everyone afterward, and we got to hear Ben screeching out a couple notes on Sarah’s viola while we was running to pick it up from Godfather’s. We got the Wii hooked up afterward, giving us a chance to goof around with Wario Ware: Smooth Moves and a couple rounds of Bungee Buddies before heading home.