Friday, January 30, 2009


Tomorrow, Daphne and I are going to Texas. I don't like to fly, but I'm trying not to think about it. I am just trying to picture myself sitting at my parents' house in the 70 degree weather having some of my mom's spaghetti. Yes. I will try to blog during the trip if I can. There will definitely be stories and pictures when we get back.

Meanwhile, Kev gets a whole week of having the house to himself. Kev, I command you to do something fun.

Now, I don't get out much or watch a lot of TV, but this morning I saw this headline on Bam Backs Steelers. Seriously? Are people really calling the President of the United States "Bam?" Good grief. That is the most annoying thing I've heard since "Bennifer." I hope all this rock star treatment doesn't go to his head. The man has work to do.

OK. Gotta pack.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The (Next) Snowy Day

Yesterday, I needed baked goods. It was my turn to make dinner for the family across the street that just had twins, and I wanted a loaf of ciabatta and some dessert to go with it. Kev had my car, and I couldn't get the stroller through the crunchy snow, so I had no other choice but to pack the Peanut into the sled and pull her across town. Above is the W&OD trail, covered in winter. Below, is Daphne on the first leg of our trip.

It took a while, but we arrived at one of our favorite places in Leesburg, South Street Under, to pick up the goods. We stayed for some coffee and a fruit cup before making the trek back home. I don't know what that face Daphne's making is all about. South Street has awesome fresh breads and really good breakfast sandwiches. I haven't been for lunch yet, but I'm sure it's great. They also have coffee. I am out of coffee. Looks like I'll have to venture out again today.

On the way home, we passed by the Battery Warehouse.

This is the Battery Warehouse. Thank goodness we have a battery warehouse nearby! They have batteries for almost anything! I shouldn't make fun of it. It's probably a really nice little mom and pop store. And it's scheduled to be torn down soon. I hope it's replaced by a coffee shop or an ice cream store, but I still feel bad for its owners.

Surprisingly, Daphne insisted on walking almost all the way home. Usually, if we don't have the stroller, she decides about half-way home that she wants to be carried. This time, she made it to about 100 yards from the house. "I'm just too tired, Mommy," and she sat down in the middle of the sidewalk and refused to move. So, I had to pull her the rest of the way, which wasn't easy because we were on a section of sidewalk that had been shoveled, so I was pulling her on brick.
But, we made it. It was quite an adventure, and actually a lot of fun. And it killed a lot of time when we would normally be just sitting around watching Noggin.
Last night, I went out with the neighborhood moms. We had a really great time. I think I might actually end up making some friends.
I hear Daphne waking up. How I wish I had some coffee.
Well, that's my cue.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Snowy Day

Yesterday, it snowed and snowed, and then we went outside to play. Going outside to play in the snow is a big production. There is lots of piling on layers of clothes and boots and trying to find mittens that will stay on the Peanut, and lots of searching and searching for appropriate and suitable snowgear for me. I realized yesterday just how unprepared we are for living in a place with winter. We have no snow shovel. I have no waterproof gloves, or even a proper outdoor coat. My heavy coat is too nice for snow play. I guess we'll just have to be ready next year. Anyway, it was all worth it in the end, because we had a blast. Today, the snow is covered with ice, and is probably too crunchy to play in. Oh well. I'll just stay inside and bake something.
In spite of how much work it is to go out in the snow, I still prefer the cold here to the miserable hot of Texas summers. When you go outside in the hot, you just feel sick and drained. But after you play in the snow, you feel a good kind of invigorated tired. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced it. And you get to enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup or cup of hot chocolate when you come in. It's great. I don't think I'd like it if it lasted for months and months, though. We just get a nice little taste here, and it goes away.
That being said, I am looking forward to going to Texas next week and enjoying sweater-weather. I think it is supposed to be in the 60's. Nice!
Today, I may attempt a snowy hike to the bakery up the street. And tonight, I am going out to dinner with all the women on the cul-du-sac behind my house. What?! A social activity? Yep. I am looking forward to it. So, we'll see how it goes.
Off to make the Peanut some breakfast. She'd probably be happy with a big bowl of snow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tech-Geeks, Mountains, and Underpants

So, we packed a lot into our weekend, which started at my least favorite place on the planet, the DMV. We were there for about 2 1/2 hours, taking care of business. There are now Virginia plates on my car. They are not as cool as my Texas plates (see below), but they do have a cardinal sitting on a dogwood branch, so that's nice. Daphne was good...she colored the whole time. She had a much better attitude than I did. I hate the DMV.

The events of Saturday afternoon require a little background: We have wifi at our house. The signal is good downstairs, but not so good upstairs. So every time we wanted to print something, we had to haul the printer downstairs to the kitchen, which is where my computer lives. This was a pain, so Kev bought some sort of $80.00 gadget at Best Buy that is supposed to among other things boost the signal and solve the problem. Guess what. It didn't work. So Kev went all McGiver on me and used some techno-geek dudes free internet template to build a wifi booster out of cardstock and aluminum foil (pictured above - the thing that looks like a sail). Guess what. It works. So, props to Kev for saving us $80.00. Pretty cool, huh?

Having had enough of chores and errands, we decided to spend Sunday doing "something fun." So, we packed a picnic lunch, and made the short trip to Shenandoah National Park to drive along the Skyline Drive to take in some wintery mountain scenery. We had a picnic in the way-back of the car because it was too cold to eat outside. We saw hawks and deer, and heard frogs and woodpeckers and had a great time. The park is going to be spectacular in the spring and fall, so we bought an annual pass and plan to go camping as soon as we can.

Sunday night, in order to provide some potty-training motivation (because M-n-M's ain't workin'), we all went to Target to let Daphne pick out some big kid underpants. She was so excited about them that she wanted to wear them over her clothes. She will probably be mad at me about this picture someday.
To end the weekend, Kev and I stayed up late and watched Barton Fink. What a ridiculously terrible movie with the worst ending of probably any movie I've ever seen. But it was good to make it past 8:30 for once.
So, now it's Monday. Daphne is doing some painting while I blog. I just looked at her and she is kind of a mess, so I better clean her up and start thinking about lunch. I hope you all had a good weekend and didn't have to spend any of it at the DMV.
And one more quick thing...any ideas on something cool I can do with my Texas plates? Look how cool they are! They must be preserved in a special way...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

We'll be there for the party next week. The Peanut wants cake and ice cream. I guess I could be persuaded to have some, too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Trails

This is the W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion) Trail. It was an old rail line, which was mostly destroyed during the Civil War, and now it is a walking/running/biking trail that goes for miles and miles (45 to be exact) across the state, excuse me, Commonwealth, of Virginia. A section of it is about a block from my house, and since it is 57 degrees today, it seemed like the right thing to do to get out on it and take a walk. Destination: some kind of a playground.

After walking and walking for a long long time with no playground to be found, we saw a jogger who pointed us to a small park in a subdivision off the trail about a block, and there in the park was a very very small playground. It was disappointing to me, but Daphne LOVED it. She hasn't been able to really play outside for weeks, so it was great for her. I can't believe what a nice day it is. The neighborhood kids are all outside playing, but Daphne is missing it because of her nap. I kinda hope she wakes up early. It will be cold again tomorrow. But I certainly enjoyed the nice little taste of spring.
Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Going Around Town

As you can see by the state of Small Frosty, the snow here has almost completely disappeared. Today, it was a balmy 43 degrees! I haven't been out of the house since Monday (Kev has been taking the Subaru to work), so this morning I bundled up the Peanut and hit the sidewalk. It's good to live in a small town. I don't really even need a car most of the time. Today, we walked to the bank, the post office, and then the nursery, where we bought some potting soil to transplant the peanut plant (below).

Daphne was really good until a tense moment in the nursery when she loudly said, "Mommy, get me out of this stinky yucky place." Nice manners, huh? The funny thing was, it smelled really good in there. The post office was the real stinky yucky place in my opinion. Anyway, we made a quick exit from the nursery and headed to lunch at the Roy Rogers restaurant. Roy Rogers is a place I had never been because they are only located in the NorthEastern/MidAtlantic US. But, I have been craving a cheeseburger like nobody's business for about two weeks, so I thought we'd give it a try.

It was actually pretty good! I must not be getting enough protein, because as I ate that Roy Rogers cheeseburger, I honestly felt better, stronger and more energized. Daphne liked it too. She ate every last crumb of her cheeseburger and fries. And the best part is, as I sat across from Daphne at the Roy Rogers, fielding questions like, "Mommy, do spaceships have steering wheels?" and trying to minimize ketchup mess on her face and clothes, I realized how lucky I am that I get to hang out with her all the time. She really is a lot of fun. I know I complain about never having time to myself and so forth, but this is really the best job I can imagine. I hope she's having as much fun as I am.
After lunch, we made one more stop at Safeway because my coffee supply was perilously low. Then it was back home for naptime.
Honestly, I think it was way easier walking to all those places than it would have been to drive to each place, park, and get the Peanut in and out of the carseat. What a great day. And tomorrow it is supposed to be 53! I'm gonna have to come up with more errands...

Fun with Leftovers

This is Leftover Guinness Beef Stew Pot Pie. Mmmmmm.

I think it is a little strange, though, that the way the gravy bubbled up made it look kinda like a scary clown face.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That's Better

I just had to balance out the other picture with a nice one. Mister Rogers was true greatness. We miss you, Mister Rogers. And I forgive you for the clown masks. Everyone makes mistakes.

Fall/Mister Rogers Update

So, I went on the internet to search for a picture of Mister Rogers in his scary clown mask, and lo and behold, I found one. The funny thing is, this is a DIFFERENT clown mask than the one he put on in the episode I saw today, so that means he has donned scary clown masks at least twice on his show. The one today was worse than this one. If you search, you can find the video that goes with the picture above, which in some cases has been overdubbed with scary evil clown voice. I will not post a link, because I will not support Mister Rogers smearing. But he really shoulda thought twice about the masks. (Shiver).

Here is a picture of a re-enactment of my fall down the stairs. Do you like my purple satin dress? Just kidding. That's not me. My aunt Kathy sent me the photo. She falls down a lot, so she probably had it saved on her computer somewhere. It might even be her!
As it turns out, I think my injuries are worse than I thought. As my grandma likes to say, "I'm all stoved up." The actually saying is, "all stove up," without the -d. It is a very southern way of saying you are sore and stiff. As in, "Oh Lo-ord, Mahtha, ah'm all stove up. Ah reckon ah cain't hardly move." Please, everyone, HOLD THE RAIL. I got cocky. Don't let it happen to you.

Downward Spiral

This is the back staircase at my house. This morning, as I was going down it in the dark and trying to be really quiet, I fell down about the last five steps. I was wearing my slippers, which aren't slippery at all, but I think I just mis-stepped at the spirally turn. Who knows? It was dark. I have bruised a heel and possibly my tailbone, but nothing is sprained or broken, so that's good. And the giant thud did not wake up the Peanut, so I was able to make Kev's lunch, and more importantly, the coffee, before she got up.
This post is dedicated to my cousin Brad who has an imaginary Fall Down Log, in which I am honored to be included.
Unrelated: We were just watching Mister Rogers, and he brought the most terrifying clown mask you have ever seen to show his television neighbors. I almost had to turn it off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Soup and a Snowman

Aaaaaaaah, yes. Guinness Beef Stew on a cold and snowy winter day. You can't get much better than that. I used this recipe, and stuck to it more or less except for the following: In step two, where you cook the vegetables, I used onions and carrots as suggested, but added mushrooms too, because we are a mushroom family. Also, I didn't add in the potatoes with the other vegetables because I thought they would get overcooked and mushy, so I just threw them in the pot about 25 minutes before I planned to serve the stew. (I used Yukon Gold instead of Russet just because I like them better in stew). It was really good, and I don't usually like beef stew all that much. The meat was really tender. I think the lady who published the recipe was right about using the Guinness and the wine (I used Coppola Claret)...very tasty. Anyway, this stew is kind of time consuming. I started on it at about 3:30 and we ate at 6:30. There is just a lot of washing and peeling and chopping and stirring. So, make it on a Sunday when you have some time to spend in the kitchen. Good stuff. I think I'll turn the leftovers into pot pies tomorrow night.

While I was making stew, Kev and Daphne were hard at work on the world's smallest snowman. I wish I could have joined them. I think Kev did all the work while his helper ate snow. She must think the world is covered with ice cream when it snows or something. I keep telling her it's just water, but she won't listen to me. She just scoops up handfuls and licks it off her gloves. Yuck. I gave up trying to stop her. Anyway, the snowman is still out there this morning, although he has lost his carrot nose. I should try to find him a tiny flag in honor of inauguration day.

Speaking of which, is it unpatriotic of me to ask who is paying for all these inauguration festivities? Just curious.

Unrelated: They are re-making the Electric Company. Not sure how I feel about that.

And one more thing: Add to my Texas list
  • Watch the Mavericks.

That is all for now.

Monday, January 19, 2009


January 2009 128
Originally uploaded by Tara H.
It has been snowing off and on today, and it is just beautiful. So pretty, in fact, that I am considering waking Daphne up early from her nap to go play in it. The sun is out, and it is going to melt soon. And I really want to make a snow man.

Tonight, we are scheduled for Soup 4: Guinness Beef Stew. Perfect timing. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lazy Sunday

There is pumpkin bread baking in my oven. The whole house smells good. A giant flock of Canada Geese just flew right over my house, honking away. I went out to watch, even though it is about 24 degrees. It was just like Winged Migration. See that movie if you haven't already. Daphne is asleep, and Kev is off to Kohl's in search of the perfect pants. And I am blogging, waiting for the pumpkin bread to get done so I can eat it in my chair by the fire with a nice decaf latte before Daphne wakes up.
The picture has nothing to do with any of this, but I like to have pictures in the posts for color. It is a peanut plant on Day 17 of it's life. We got the peanut plant kit for Christmas, and I am determined to follow all the steps and grow at least one actual edible peanut this spring. Daphne helps me water it every day. She must be good luck, because it's doing well. And I can't grow ANYTHING.
Here is a list of some things I want to do in Texas (besides hang out with my family):
  • Go to dinner with Anne and Emily
  • Hang out with my friends from HS.
  • Have good Barbeque.
  • Get happy feet (I think I still may have a free gift certificate!)
  • Get a burrito at Freebirds (thanks, Rob)
  • Go to Central Market
  • Go to the bookstore by myself
  • Knit something / Go to the Shabby Sheep
  • Drive past my old house (maybe)
  • Sleep in
  • Play with Albert

It probably won't all happen, but some of it will, and I can't wait. If only I didn't have to fly on a plane to get there.

OK...pumpkin bread time. Aaaaah. Sometimes I'm so glad this isn't a football house. I like Sunday.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daphne Made Me Put This On...

...and she keeps calling me "Super Space Mommy." I have to go...she wants me to get in the space ship now. But I have to ride in the back seat.

Space Peanut

This is what came walking into the kitchen this morning while I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes. I certainly hope this is just a phase. I do not have a strong enough constitution to see my only kid shot into space.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Artist at Work

The Peanut loves her new easel from Grandma and Grandpa. Here is a video of her using it this morning.

Every day, she asks to paint. Keeping the paint colors separated is out of the question. But that's OK I guess. I don't know what we're going to do with all these pieces of art. Right now, we use a hippo-shaped chip clip to hang one at a time from the blinds in the play room. Our fridge is not magnetic.

It is COLD here today, and going to get even colder later in the week. All this cold, and no snow. It isn't right.

Last weekend, we walked over to the weekly farmer's market down the street. We bought apples, eggs, breakfast sausages, and a pork shoulder. It was all so fresh and good, and I felt good about feeding it to my family. I don't want to get all preachy about being earth-friendly on you, but if you want to read a really good article about "eating green," get the newest Bon Appetit magazine, or follow this link. I really believe that every little bit helps. I wish the farmer's market was every day.

Have I mentioned how much I love Flight of the Conchords? Hooray for three free months of HBO. It will expire soon, and I will be very very sad.

In happy news, Daphne and I will be making a trip to Texas very soon. Perhaps I'll make a list in my next post of things I want to do while I'm there. Yee-Haw!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Soup 3

Soup 3
Originally uploaded by Tara H.
Soup Number Three was potato with country ham (recipe here) and it was DEEEEElicious. Perfect for a cold winter night, which is what it was here last night. I used a little onion and garlic instead of leeks, but otherwise, stuck to the recipe. I also made some croutons to put on top, and topped it all with a little grated cheddar. Very easy and quick to make. I highly recommend it. We're having it again tonight.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Break from Soup

Cheese Souffle
Originally uploaded by Tara H.

I got a souffle dish for my birthday. Back in August. Today, I finally got to use it. This is a cheese souffle using this recipe. (I used smoked gouda instead of cheddar, and also put a little minced garlic in with the butter. Otherwise, followed the exact recipe). It was GOOD. Don't fear the souffle. It isn't that hard. And it's like eating a cloud. Maybe I should change this to the Winter of Souffle.

I am dedicating this, my first souffle, to my friend Kevin M., in honor of his new job and because he was nice enough to go to a very very girly souffle restaurant to help us celebrate my 40th birthday.

On an unrelated note, I saw a mockingbird today. It made me happy. It's the first one I've seen since leaving Texas.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Soup 2

Soup 2
Originally uploaded by Tara H.
This is the second Winter of Soup soup. It is Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Puree, from the Williams-Sonoma "Soups" cookbook. It was easy to make, but time-consuming. I stuck to the recipe until the very end, when I could see that the squash to liquid ratio wasn't going to work unless I wanted soup the consistency of paste. So, I used less roasted squash and added some water. I thought it was too rich and squashy, so I added some nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice, and a little cayenne, plus some cream. Then it was better (thanks to Kev for being my taster/spice advisor). I still didn't love it though. I thought it was a good appetizer soup, but not a good meal soup. It was still too squashy for me. But Kev liked it and ate three bowls. Daphne tried it, made a yuck-face, and had some fruit and cheese for dinner. It is definitely not a very kid-friendly soup.

I was disappointed, because I was trying to recreate the delicious butternut squash soup I had at "Jane" in New York City last month. Theirs was served with a big blob (I hate the word "dollop") of mascarpone cheese and some spicy pumpkin seeds. Our lame grocery store didn't have mascarpone cheese or spicy pumpkin seeds, so I whipped some heavy cream and bought a six-pack of David's snack-size packets of salted pumpkin seeds. It just wasn't the same. Oh, how I miss Central Market!

This was my first time using leeks, which was kind of fun.

Time to choose Soup Number 3!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Nuevo Ano

Happy New Year!

I think it's already the 3rd, but I wanted to blog a New Year's blog, and Daphne's engrossed in Charlie and Lola, so I have a brief window.

For the most part, 2008 was a drag. But there were some moments I will remember happily (do you feel a list coming on?). Here are a few good 2008 times:

  • Trip to Oklahoma with the Mantooth family.
  • Dave Brubeck at the Blue Note in NYC.
  • East Texas Craft weekend with HS friends.
  • Mommy's Night Out dinners with Anne and Emily.
  • Sledding on Kev's birthday.
  • Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my mom.
  • Indiana road trip.
  • Pink Martini at the House of Blues.
  • Picking up people at airports.
  • Going to Colorado, having crepes.
  • Oktoberfest at the Mighty Midget.
  • Daphne's 2nd birthday party.
  • Birth of the great Blueberry.
  • Every time there was ice cream.

In 2009, I look forward to continuing the Winter of Soup, going to Texas, seeing our Cherry Trees blossom and Peonies bloom, getting unpacked, knitting, decorating the house, riding my bike, taking walks as often as possible, taking the Peanut camping, and getting my parents and brother moved up here, and probably some other stuff that I can't think of.

Well, Charlie and Lola is over, and Daphne's on the loose with crayons. Better get back to work now...Hope your 2009 is a good one.