Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Monday

Aaah. Another Thanksgiving is in the books. And I'd call this one a big success. Great food, family, visitors from Indiana and Texas (man, I loved hearing that accent from home!), and this impromptu pre-feast prayer by the Peanut:

"Dear Zezus, I love you, and fank you for all this lovely Fanksgiving food. AMEN!"

My contributions to dinner this year were this apple pie, these buttermilk cheddar biscuits:

and these sweet potatoes:

For some reason, Blogger has taken it upon itself to rotate my photos incorrectly, so please just tilt your head to the right to view the pictures as they we meant to be seen. The recipe for the biscuits is here. I followed the recipe exactly, except I added some garlic powder, more cheese than it called for, and cut the dough into sixteen triangles instead of eight rectangles. They were good, and were compared to the ones at Red Lobster, so if you like those, this might be the recipe for you. The sweet potato recipe was given to me by a friend from back home, who answered the call when I Facebooked my need for a good recipe that didn't involve marshmallows. I changed her original recipe slightly, so here is what I did:
Peel, chop, and boil six sweet potatoes until fork tender, drain, and mash. Add a stick of butter, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and a couple tablespoons of maple syrup (I just poured it in...not sure how much I used). Mash this all together, and taste it to see if it needs more salt or syrup or whatever. Then spread it in a baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1/3 cup softened butter, then spread this on top of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 15 min. or so, until the topping is all nice and bubbley. I actually ended up melting a little butter and pouring it on top, then turning on the broiler for a few minutes at the end to get it to bubble. Yeah, I know, I know. It's a lot of butter. But think of all the Vitamins A, B6, and C you're getting along with all that fat and sugar! These sweet potatoes were a huge hit with everyone, including Kev and my brother, neither of whom really like sweet potatoes. So, thanks, Joelle, for a great recipe! I owe ya!
The apple pie was the same one I made earlier in the fall to test out my pie bird (recipe link here). I stuck to the recipe exactly. I have become a brave enough cook to monkey with some recipes, but I don't mess with baking.
My mom made the rest, and it was all delicious. Too bad it only happens once a year.
On "Black Friday" (do we really have to call it that?), I joined my mom, aunt, great aunt, and brother for a daytrip to Old Town Alexandria. It was nice to have some time to do a little non-Mall shopping without my little sidekick. She stayed home with Kev, and they had a big time and even had a Beach Party:
So, thanks to Kev for giving me the day off, and to Jeff who drove us around and bought us a great lunch at La Tosca.
Saturday, everyone came to our house for breakfast and a stroll around Downtown Leesburg, and Sunday, I took Daphne to spend the day at G'ma, G'pa, and Uncle Jeff's house so Kev could have a day off too.
Between now and Christmas, there are many activities planned and much shopping to do, so I may be an infrequent blogger. But I will do the best I can. I will try to post the story of our unexpected Thanksgiving visitor if I get the time. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and a good long weekend.
Time to sit and read a while...



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Raining, Hats, and Dogs.

It is a dreary, rainy day. The kind that makes you want to curl up and take a nap. Unless you are Daphne, who decided not to take one today. She is now having "resting time" on the couch, but that probably won't help much when she gets whiney and cranky at dinnertime because she's over-tired. We're in for a challenging evening.

You may recognize the girl in the picture above as Althea, from this season of Project Runway. She is wearing a pretty fabulous knitted hat. It has created quite a stir on Ravelry (a website for knitters, in case you don't know). I (and many other people, apparently) am on a quest to find or figure out the pattern so I can make myself a hat just like it, only in a different color. Althea should have probably made it in a different color, too. The grey just isn't working for her. But it's still a cool hat. Bring on Season 7. As soon as possible. I love Project Runway.


The other night, Daphne lined up all her dogs on the couch so she could take their picture. Left to right are Diggo, Roscoe, Mister Rogers, Taffy, Spotty, Mister Scott, Quincy, Grape, and Mel. They are all good dogs. No shedding. No chewing. No accidents on the floor. I like them.


When I picked Daphne up from school today, she gave me this picture. In case you can't tell, it's a picture of me wearing a sunflower shirt. There is an apple and an orange on the left, and a small rock and a giant leaf on the right. And she wrote her name by herself. This is my new most favorite thing, and I will be framing it and hanging it in a very special place. Last night, she drew pictures of me and Kev and included giant nostrils that made us look like we had pig noses. It was cute, but I am glad she left them off this particular picture.
We haven't really been up to much around here. Our weekend was relatively uneventful. We have been watching a lot of Later with Jools Holland. By watching this show, I have discovered two new bands to love: The Pigeon Detectives and Fleet Foxes. These bands are probably not really new at all, but they are new to me because I am so out of touch with the world of music. Or I was, until Ovation TV started showing Jools Holland. Thank you, Ovation TV. I have also discovered some new music on the great KXT by Great Lake Swimmers and the Raconteurs. You can check out all of these bands on Grooveshark. But watch out for Grooveshark, because it's really easy to get sucked in and spend your whole day listening to Haircut 100 and Bananarama and De La Soul and Ratt and other stuff you used to have on cassette tapes but long since forgot about until Grooveshark sent you off on a tangent, just because you can. Beware the groooooove!
Tomorrow, I am making pie and gearing up for the first Thanksgiving at my parents' and Jeff's new house. There is a LOT to be thankful for. I hope you all have great food, lots of fun, and a nice turkey-induced nap.
Coming soon: Christmas panic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Housiversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of moving into our house here in Virginia. In some ways it seems like it happened yesterday, in others it seems like a million years ago. Browsing back through over 50 Flickr pages of photos from the last year, I can't believe all the things we packed in. We've lived here through four seasons (DISTINCT seasons!), three parades, 12 First Fridays, and several various Fests. Daphne has turned three, started school, and learned to ride a scooter and write her own name. She has little friends. I am starting to meet new people. Kev's job is mostly going well. And my parents and brother are settling in, unpacking now just like we were doing last year at this time. It's so hard to know if moving across the country is the right thing when it's all going on, but a year later, I am pretty certain we made the right choice. I hope my mom and dad and Jeff like it here as much as we do.

So, Happy Housiversary Kev and Daphne. It hasn't been the easiest year, but it's been a good one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bikes and Barbecue

After a week of chilly rain, we were treated to the second beautiful Sunday in a row. Sunny and 74. Can't beat that in mid-November. So, once again, we loaded Daphne into the Burley and headed to Paeonian Springs, this time with empty stomachs and high hopes. And we discovered that good barbecue CAN be found in Virginia.

B'z BBQ Co., which is basically a guy and some impressive giant smokers, is located outside the Paeonian Grocery and Gourmet, so we ordered up some pulled pork and an angus dog for the Peanut, and had a delightful fall picnic at the little park by the W&OD trail. The food was great, and probably tasted even better since we ate it outside after a five mile uphill bike ride. And I couldn't think of one single thing I'd have rather been doing.
Now it's another Monday and Trader Joe's is on the agenda today. But first, coffee...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall, Cont'd. and Radio Texas

So, in honor of it still being Fall, our front yard maple tree finally decided to do its thing. The photo, taken on this dark and drizzly morning, doesn't do it justice, but it really is very pretty. Please pay no attention to the mess behind the tree...that is just our peonies. We are waiting for them to die back so we can cut them down. In spite of cool and rainy weather this week, weather.com has promised another beautiful Sunday, so I am hoping to repeat last weekend's bike trip to Paeonian Springs, this time for barbeque.

It's Wednesday, but it's an especially good Wednesday, because today is the day the movers bring furniture to my parents' and Jeff's new house. They are all now official Virginia homeowners, and Daphne and I are going over to help them celebrate with some donuts from Fractured Prune. You can't get much better than that.



In completely unrealted news, I wanted to alert any of you who like really good music to the launch of the great KXT 91.7. For many years, I was a proud member of KERA, the NPR station in North Texas, but when we moved, I cancelled my membership, thinking I'd eventually join WAMU up here. Now it's time to think again. KERA recently purchased the 91.7 frequency to start an all-music format unlike other more typical radio stations out there. It is GREAT, and even if you don't live in North Texas, I recommend streaming it on your friendly neighborhood computer. Buy some headphones and listen at work! This is what you WON"T hear: Boston, Celine Dion, Hootie, Dave Matthews, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Puff Daddy, Garth Brooks, and so forth. If you want to know what you WILL hear, you can check out the playlist page. All it took to make a believer out of me was "Bonny" from Prefab Sprout's "Steve McQueen." I am hooked. So, check it out now and thank me later.

OK, off to join Moving Day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

If You Give a Kid a Microphone

video

She will probably make up a song about Santa Claus to sing with it.

Apparently, I am not the only one excited about Christmas around here...

This is for Blaire

Here is the most recent picture of Tula, my adopted penguin. She is protecting her two eggs and waiting for them to hatch. The great Dr. Mike will be sending more photos when the chicks are born.

Penguin adoptions make a great Christmas gift, so if you're interested, check this out.

TGIM


If there is one thing this family knows how to do, it's have a full-throttle weekend. And another one has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I know that most people don't like Monday, but I have come to count on it to slam on the breaks so I can regroup. I won't bore you with every single detail from the weekend, but I can tell you we packed a lot into two and a half days. The weather could not have been better, especially yesterday. So we loaded Daphne into the Burley and took a long bike ride on the trail to the Village of Paeonian Springs, about 5 miles west of Leesburg. The ride wasn't easy, because going west, the trail is ever-so-slightly uphill the entire way. However, there was the promise of ice cream to keep me going, and the ride home was a breeze. So, except for the part where the bug flew up my nose, it was a pretty perfect excursion. That, along with a night out with Kev on Saturday (thanks Mom and Dad), was the highlight of the weekend.
We're expecting another nice day today, so we need to take advantage of it before the cold and the rain arrive tomorrow night. So, I'm going to get off the computer and start the laundry so we can get outside. I hope that wherever you are, it is as beautiful outside as it is here. Such a nice treat before winter sets in.
Not that there's anything wrong with winter. Winter means snow and Christmas and paperwhites and pumpkin bread and hot chocolate and Elf and continued soup and pie-making and too many good things to list...




Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mall Rats

Today, I went to what is possibly the world's snootiest mall: Tyson's Galleria. If you click on that hyper-link there, you will be able to sense the snootiness just from the little slide show that comes up on the home page. But I HAD to go. It has Anthropologie. And I haven't been to an Anthropologie in over a year. So, the big plan was to load up the Peanut and drive down to meet my mom and dad at the Galleria for a little mall time.

If I may quote the great Mo Willems, "arrangements were made." We were to meet G-Ma and G-Pa on the lower level of the mall, just outside of Macy's at 10:00. So, Daphne and I sat on a blue couch on the lower level of the mall just outside Macy's. Several minutes went by. No sign of my parents. I knew they were there, because I had just talked to them from the parking garage. Weird. So, I called my mom.

Me: Where are you?

Mom: Sitting outside Macy's.

Me: No you aren't, because I'm sitting outside Macy's and I don't see you.

Mom: Hang on...(shuffle shuffle shuffle)...

Then I hear her having a conversation with Mall Information Guy, who, after a confusing exchange, finally figures out that my parents are at the WRONG MALL. They were at Tyson's Center Mall or Tyson's Corner Center, or something like that. But not Tyson's Galleria.

Oh boy.

Luckily, these two malls are located basically within inches of each other, so I barely had time to grab a coffee and get back to the blue couch before they arrived.

Now, this mall has nothing kid-friendly at all about it. In spite of this, my parents bravely offered to watch Daphne for me so that I could have 30 minutes to myself in the happiest place on earth: Anthropologie. I swear I could live in that store. It has big comfy looking beds inside. I could just hide somewhere until all the workers leave and then stay there, like that girl in that movie who lived in the Wal-Mart. I could hang out all night, smelling their candles and trying on their clothes and reading their books. I'm telling you, you could not possibly go wrong buying me a gift from that place. I love every single thing in the store.

And they have great sales! Today I got a $118 denim jacket for $29!

So, thanks to Mom and Dad for going on Daphne Duty for me. I had a great 30 minutes.

The only other store we went in was Williams-Sonoma. That was pretty much the only store I felt comfortable going into wearing jeans and cowboy boots. I wish they would move the Anthropologie over to that other Tyson's mall. I looked it up on line. It has a much friendlier line-up of shops.

I am not big on lunch, but when I got home, I remembered I had some left-over Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from last night. So I ate some, and it was AWESOME. I took pictures of it, but honestly, it doesn't look very appetizing, so I'm not going to post any. Just trust me. It is the same one I made last year during the Winter of Soup. I followed the recipe except I added carrots and mushrooms to the broth, and used a larger box of long grain and wild rice because last time I thought it could have used a little more rice. Here is the recipe. I like to put a giant biscuit in the bottom of the bowl, and just pour the soup right on top. (I didn't say it was healthy).

Finally, congratulations to Fooie McGoo and his wife Melissa on the arrival of their newest family member, Sam. If I was anywhere near them, I'd totally make them some soup.

UPDATE: There is another Anthropologie in Reston Town Center! Much closer and a way smaller snootiness factor! Thank you, internet.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Catching My Breath

Aaaaahhh. Isn't that a peaceful looking picture? Don't you totally want to just get in that boat and row into the middle of the pond and sit there for a while?

The past few days have been completely exhausting, but in a very good way. I feel like this is the first time I have stopped moving since early Thursday morning, when Halloween officially started with the preschool parade. Friday was all about cleaning and making pie. Late Friday night, Kev's parents arrived to spend the weekend with us. Saturday we got breakfast from Deli South (great place!), went to the Farmer's Market, and then all spent an awesome sunny and beautiful afternoon having a picnic lunch at Corcoran Vinyards, which is where that picture was taken (more on Flickr). I highly recommend this winery...it wasn't crowded at all when we went, and there were picnic tables and plenty of wide open spaces for three-year-olds who need to run free.

Saturday night, my mom and dad came over and we all enjoyed pizza on the porch while we waited for the Big Halloween Parade to begin. It was so nice to have all of Daphne's grandparents here at the same time. At a little past 6:00, the first fire truck went by. An hour and a half later, it was over, and Daphne's pumpkin bucket was practically over-flowing with candy. My favorite part was the marching bands. If I could do it all over again, I think I'd like to be on a drum line. Those guys really seem to know how to have fun. (Sadly, the camel did NOT make an appearance, but I expect he'll be back in the Christmas parade.) There was no real need to Trick-or-Treat after all that, but we did go to a few neighbor's houses. In all, it was a great night, and the octopus costume was a big hit. I am pretty proud of it, but glad it's time to put it into retirement. I have already found the directions for making next year's costume on the internet and bookmarked the site. Someone in this family is going to be an owl whether they want to or not.

Sunday was rainy, so we spent the morning hanging around the house with Kev's parents and the dogs. After they left, I went to the library while Daphne napped and Kev cooked a chicken. Then I hung out with the Peanut while Kev cleaned up the ginko berries that have fallen so far. Ugh. It's awful. Something has to be done. After the parade, I heard people walking past our house complaining about the horrible smell ("puke-fest" I think was the actual word that was used). So embarrassing. I swear it's not our fault!

After dinner, it took just about everything we had left to make it through that extra hour until Daphne's bedtime (curse you, Daylight Saving's Time), and finally, bed.

This morning we were up early again, and off to a Parent/Teacher conference at the preschool (we got a good report!) , then Kev went to work and Daphne and I took a nice long walk to take advantage of some beautiful weather and to wear someone out for a nice long nap. She is asleep now, and it is very very quiet. I am going to make myself some kind of delicious warm beverage and sit on the porch with a neglected pile of magazines.

But first, a couple of quick notes: Daphne and I have gotten our fifteen minutes of "fame" here and here.

And finally, please check this out: Awesome Video Here -I Promise. Thanks to G.G. for the head's up on this. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

To the porch!