Friday, April 30, 2010

Kids in Lab Coats

Yesterday, Daphne's class went on a field trip to Curiosity Zone, which is a toy store / science lab for kids. They all put on little lab coats and learned about balance:

After the science lesson was over, they all received a beaker and test tube and instructions for making a volcano at home. (Kev will be in charge of that.) The class then went to a nearby park to play and have a snack, and after that, a few of us went to lunch at a local smoothie place. Everyone had a good time, and the kids were pretty well-behaved.
At Daphne's school, the parents are required to accompany the kids on field trips, which of course has good and bad points. While I have to admit I get a little irritated about missing my 3 hour window of alone time, I love being able to watch Daphne in action with the kids from school. Plus, I get to be in control of transporting her from Point A to Point B. I know that one of these days, she is going to be going on real field trips, off to DC on buses driven by strangers in crazy DC traffic, and that is not going to be easy for me. But, no point fretting about it now.
The people who lived in our house before us left us a lovely gift: a picnic table in the back yard under the cherry tree. It isn't in the best shape, but its functional, and we use it from time to time. Last night was one of those times. Since it was such a nice day, Kev suggested eating outside, and I jumped at the chance. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Food tastes better outside. I don't know why, but it does.
I think maybe eating outside makes you slow down and enjoy your food more, and maybe even makes you feel sorta like you're on vacation. We should do it more often.

The garden is doing well so far. No critters seem to be bothering it. Daphne and I may go to the nursery today in search of a few more things to plant. It's going to be a nother nice day today, HOT tomorrow, and rain again on Sunday just in time for our big trip to Bethesda. Have a great weekend, and eat a meal outside if you can. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I talked to my friend Emily from back home in Dallas. She has two kids and a job, but has somehow been finding time to sew and knit. She must have special powers. I haven't done either in WAY too long. So yesterday, I decided that since my house was actually clean and all the laundry was done, I would make myself start easing back into craftiness with a little project. I busted out the ModPodge and got to work on a new screen print stencil, as requested by Kev. Here is the result:

For those of you who are too young to know, those are guys from Space Invaders. Atari rules. I totally want one of these shirts for myself.
While I was at JoAnn buying the screening fabric, I saw this mushroom print and couldn't pass it up:

Somebody in this family is getting a mushroom skirt, like it or not. The leftovers will make good napkins I reckon.
Then there was today. Today, my mom and dad came over to play with Daphne, and I went to the mall. My goal was to get a pretty springtimey shirt. I pretty much wear t-shirts every day, and I wanted something with colors and some sort of happy print. First, I went to Old Navy. Strike one. But I expected that. Next, H&M. Strike two. So disappointing! So, I decided to go to Macy's. Ugh. Strike three. Everything at the mall is ugly or expensive. I see pretty shirts on TV or in magazines all the time, but these shirts were not at the mall today. It was depressing, so I decided to leave the mall and call Kev so we could go to lunch since the mall is right by his office. I was ten minutes too late. Dangit. OK. Well. I could still go to lunch on my own. I have been craving a Freebird for a LONG time, but since the closest one is about 1000 miles away, I decided to go to Chipotle. Bad idea. There is no comparison. Freebird is so much better. As a symbolic gesture, after lunch, I sadly sculpted my foil wrapper into the shape of the State of Texas and left in on my table, but chances are, nobody got it. Off to Wegman's.
Anyway, I think it will be a while before I go back to the mall. Unless, by some happy miracle, Stacy and Clinton show up at Preschool Drop-Off with embarrasing footage featuring my 9 year old hiking shoes and a $5000.00 Visa card with my name on it, it's back to Target for me. And that's OK. I don't like the mall anyway. It's noisy there, and don't even get me started on the almost-knock-you-out smells that come wafting from the trendy teenager stores.
Maybe I should change this post title from "Crafty" to "Cranky."
Some good things to end on:
  • Last night we went for a walk and ended up seeing Big Al and the Acadians at the King's Court. You can't go wrong with Dixieland Jazz on a Tuesday night.
  • Sunday, we are going to Bethesda to see Dan Zanes. I think I am more excited than Daphne.
  • There is talk of a possible fall trip to Montreal with two of my good friends from Texas.
  • My new awesome little nephew is home and doing well.
  • There is freshly-baked bread for dinner tonight.

Aaaaahhh. I feel better.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Long Weekend Part 2

Yesterday, it rained in the morning. Then it was sunny in the afternoon. And last night, we had a nice big thunderstorm. It was awesome. It seems like forever since I've heard thunder.

We got the house cleaned up, the grass cut, and the laundry done. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with a friend from Daphne's school, who came over to play while her parents went to a movie.

We got Vern hung up on the porch, and Daphne's zinnia plant is sprouting new blooms.

Kev and Daphne took a nature walk during the sunny afternoon. They took pictures for their nature scavenger hunt photo album. Meanwhile, I sat on the porch swing and had quiet time.

One thing they had to find was a creek:

And the best part of the whole weekend?
We have a new addition to our family!
Welcome Carter Michael!
Your cousin Daphne, Aunt Tara, and Uncle Kev can't wait to meet you!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long Weekend Part 1

On Thursday, there was building.

On Friday, there was digging.

And planting.

And watering.

And now, there is a garden.
Max the bunny, we like you, but please keep out. And tell your friends.
It's Saturday now, and this morning it rained which is good for new gardens.
Daphne played soccer in the rain and Grandma and Grandpa came to watch.
Now, we've all gone to our separate corners.
Kev is in the attic recording, Daphne is on the couch watching "The Pirates who Don't Do Anything," and I am in the kitchen baking bread, making mushroom barley soup, and listening to the Cocteau Twins. I couldn't be happier with the weekend so far.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrating a Sandwich

You may not know it, but April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month. Oh, how I love grilled cheese sandwiches. They were a staple when I was a kid. And paired with a bowl of tomato soup, they are pretty much the ultimate lunch.

In celebration of NGCSM, I made grilled cheeses for dinner one night last week. But rather than making the Kraft-American-Singles-on-Wonder-Bread sandwiches from my youth (which there is NOTHING wrong with, by the way), or grilled ham and provolone (which has been known to make it into the dinner rotation now and then), this time I used mozzarella cheese, proscuitto, and fresh basil on sour dough bread. Tasty! But still not really all that original.

That brings me to today. Today, it is cold and dreary. I had a late breakfast and skipped lunch. So by the time Daphne was down for her nap, I was getting hungry. Now, I have this Giada cookbook from the library that I've been looking at for a couple weeks. In it is a recipe for possibly the weirdest grilled cheese sandwich I've ever heard of. And I've been dying to try it. Today was the perfect day, and I happened to have all the ingredients. I was skeptical, so I read the reviews on Five stars based on 42 reviews! Hmmm. I was still skeptical. But let me tell you, this was a GREAT sandwich and I'd eat it again. And again and again.

Wanna know the ingredients? OK, here you go: Brie, chocolate chips, and fresh basil on a sour dough panini. Yep. Look at it up there in the picture. So melty and gooey and delicious. And I think it is actually the basil that makes it so good! Warmed me right up and almost put me to sleep. So, thank you Giada, for your weird awesome sandwich idea.

Here is the official recipe if you want to try it at home. Happy Grilled Cheese Month! Tomorrow, I think I'll make grilled brie and blueberry sandwiches a la New Paltz.

Now I gotta go. Giada's on in 15 minutes, and who knows. Maybe she'll make something today with Nutella!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Critters and Treasures

This morning, as I was sitting drinking coffee at the kitchen table, I saw a squirrel go by out of the corner of my eye. Only it wasn't a squirrel at was this very cute rabbit, which is now named "Max." He was nice enough to pose for me before he hopped off into the back yard, where he probably lives under our potting shed. This could be bad news for our garden, which we are theoretically planting this weekend. The plan is to build a couple of raised beds and get going on some nice summer vegetables. I am really REALLY excited about this. There is nothing better than food you grow yourself.

Last night, Daphne took a picture of some of the "treasures" she brought back from the garden festival:
Lots of goodies for the kids, all of which were free. Grown-ups had to pay for their treasures, however. I got two. Daphne took pictures of them, also:

Meet Vern. The fern. Let's all hope I don't kill him before we even get him hung up properly on the porch in this:

I love my new New Orleans-y hanging Vern the Fern holder. Thanks, Kev!
I have put Daphne in charge of reminding me to water Vern each day. That is probably not the best strategy, but I am determined to have a greener thumb and somehow keep him alive. I don't have a very good track record with potted plants. Actually, I once DID keep a nice aloe vera plant named "Mick Jagger" alive for a couple years, maybe three! I eventually busted him open and used him when I burned myself cooking, and that was that. Luckily for Vern, he doesn't have healing powers. I'll try to post a photo when I get him hung up nicely on the porch.
OK...I'm off to sit and think about what to do tomorrow while Daphne is at school. I never use this time wisely, so maybe if I make a plan, things will go better. I think it should start with coffee...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Festable Day!

It has been another good weekend, this time centered around the annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, or known to Daphne simply as "the festable." Yesterday after soccer, my mom and Jeff took Daphne to lunch, so Kev and I got to go to the festival on our own for a little while, which was good because it was very crowded. And VERY windy. A tired post-soccer Daphne would not have done well under those conditions, so we decided to wait and take her today.
Just like last year, we started the day with a pre-festival breakfast at the Cajun Experience. Last year, they were new and only had beignets on the morning menu. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Their beignets are delicious and authentic. Almost like being at Cafe du Monde. But this year, in addition to the beignets, they were serving real breakfast food, so I started off MY day with scrambled eggs, andouille sausage, and a great big bowl of delicious creamy cheese grits. And THEN I had a beignet. (And for anyone local who reads this, their dinner food is great too. I recommend the chicken and sausage gumbo. HOO-WEE, it's good!) Anyway, I like that we have a little spring-time family tradition now. And I'm already looking forward to next year, because that's probably the next time I'll get real southern cheese grits.
Anyway, then it was on to the flower and garden show. Since Kev and I had seen everything yesterday, we took Daphne straight to the kids' area where she got to paint on big plywood shapes and get her face painted by the girl scouts.

Then we headed down to Shoes and let Daphne lead us down a long narrow alley... their new outdoor seating area:

I can't even tell you how excited I am about this. I cannot wait to sit back there on that patio with my bagel and coffee and perhaps a magazine or knitting project (if I'm by myself). I am officially voting for Shoes as my favorite place in Leesburg. And I can WALK there. I am a lucky girl.

Anyway, we wandered around a bit more and ended up at the courthouse lawn where Daphne ran around and completely wore herself out, and Kev and I sat on a bench and listened to a classic rock cover band.

The best part is that Daphne was good the WHOLE time. What a trooper. It was a long day with a lot of walking and she was great. The only iffy moment came when she accidentally let her balloon go. By then she was pretty tired, and couldn't hold back the tears of great sadness over the loss (she was in danger of washing away her butterfly!). I got her another balloon, which helped a little, but wasn't quite the same, and we decided to call it a day. Everyone is napping now, and I expect Daphne will sleep quite a while longer.
As for me, I could use a warm beverage of some kind. It's chilly today, which is better than brutally hot like it was last year. So, I think I'll make myself some coffee. But it won't be the same without a beignet. Hope you all had a good weekend too!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baking Day

Yesterday accidentally turned out to be Baking Day. See, we had these four bananas that were in danger of going bad, so what else could we do but make some delicious Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (recipe here)? Turns out, Daphne is a really good banana masher!

Here is the result:

Want some? Daphne did.

I think she likes it!

In addition to the banana bread, I also grabbed a handful of herb bread dough from the fridge and baked that to go with our salad and souffle (recipe here) for dinner. Souffles are so much fun to make. And so pretty! Thanks, Alton Brown.

After dinner, Daphne tried out the new swimming goggles she got in her Easter basket:

I love my goofy kid.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Feeling Groovy

Nothing can re-start one's groove like a good weekend. And a good weekend we had. Kev and I got a chance to hang out sans Peanut, because she went to spend the night with G-Ma and G-Pa on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, so we took an afternoon bike ride on the trail (which nearly killed me, but was fun), and we ended up back in town at the Doner Bistro for brats on the patio. I like the Doner Bistro because its patio is a very cheerful place, with lots of orange things incorporated into the decor. And on this day, some ultra-hipsters that were there with their tattoos and jet-black hair and thrift-store chic wardrobes told me that I have the coolest bike in the world, so that made me feel good. I got to try out my new Christmas pannier, but forgot to take a picture of it. Today, I bought an orange daisy to adorn it with, so I'll take a picture on out next outing.

On Sunday, we visited two local wineries and had a nice picnic by a pond. There were ducks, geese, turtles, a heron, and a very nice black dog, and we were able to find a table remote enough to mostly avoid the huge table of loud drunk ladies. It was very peaceful, and a good day out.

While Daphne was away, we also played some Rock Band, had breakfast at the coffee shop, played REAL instruments, and hung out on the porch. It was delightful. But we sure missed Daphne and were glad when she came home Sunday evening.

Saturday morning, before she went to my parents' house, Daphne had her first soccer "game." It was really cute, and she had a blast. There was a trainer there to do most of the coaching, so Kev had an easy job. The kids played games like tag and red-light-green-light, and did some dribbling and kicking drills. They ran for almost a solid hour, but Daphne did great. I think she got her daddy's soccer gene.
I think soccer is going to be really good for her to counteract all the time she spends indoors on the couch. In fact, in the morning before the game, she actually TURNED DOWN something sweet! She said she didn't want any honey-yogurt dressing on her fruit because "soccer is a healthy time of day and I shouldn't eat sweet things." This attitude didn't last long, but still. Perhaps there's hope.
Speaking of sweet things, THIS plus THIS equals:

My new favorite snack. In fact, I may have some now. It's so delicious. Thank you, Wegman's cheese department sample giver man.
After the weekend of sunshine, it is a cold and dreary day today and I feel like knitting for the first time in a while. So that's the plan for the afternoon. And I'm planning a souffle for dinner tonight, courtesy of Alton Brown. And there will be herb bread to go with it. Y'all should start placing your bets on how long the groove lasts this's only a matter of time before the crash. Off to take advantage while I can...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cheerleader Daphne. Um...Yay.

This sorta reminds me of the cheerleading "skills" displayed in this episode of the Brady Bunch. (The try-outs start near the 2:30 mark.) Daphne may be only three, and not all that coordinated yet, but you gotta give her credit for enthusiasm. I think she's actually probably better than that awful Jennifer Nichols. By the way, during her cheer, does Marcia say, "Who's really gay? The Bears!" ? Oh, Marcia Marcia Marcia!

Give Me Liberty or Give Me...Shoes

Aaaaah. Iced coffee. What a treat. I am enjoying some now, in my new glass from Target's Liberty of London collection. If you haven't gotten your Liberty goods, you better hurry coz they're going fast. I went back today to get a planter for my kitchen window basil, but they're already gone. Sold out. So sad. Anyway, the glass makes me happy, as does the iced coffee. It's HOT outside. The good news is, it's NOT hot inside, because Kevin is a genius and fixed the AC on Tuesday night. It turns out, it was that d$*# smelly ginko tree from next door! Some of its berries had fallen into our condensor and jammed the thing up. Kev fished them out and it started up again, and now the house is nice and cool. Yay!

Speaking of cool, check out these Anthropologie shoes:

I saw them in the catalog and decided then and there that I must have them (imagine Homer Simpson here, when he's thinking about donuts) until I saw the price: $395.00. Good Lord. Who can afford that? Sigh. I will just have to wear them in my imagination with the dream dress from my aunt Kathy's painting. In REAL life, I went to Kohl's and spent $28 (marked down from $40!) on these:

If you have read this blog for very long, you know how much happiness I get from orange shoes. These are the first "fancy" shoes I've bought in a long time. YEARS, maybe. And I love them. LOVE. I wore them to my cousin's baby shower and to my grandma's party. Somebody invite me out to dinner so I can wear them again. (I think they are a little much for preschool drop-off or a trip to Wegman's).
In spite of the summer-like temperatures, it is definitely spring. The cherry tree is full on blooming:

And soon, there will be peonies:

The bad news is that the pollen is making everyone sick. Daphne has laryngitis. She sounds like she's been smoking for years, and she has a cough that's keeping us all awake. I have had bad headaches, and I think Kevin has too. Tonight it is supposed to rain, so that should help. I hope.
I went to the library this morning, so I am off to look through my books and finish my iced coffee. Stay tuned for tales of Kiddie Rock and soccer...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Back Home Again, From Indiana

Well, we arrived home yesterday afternoon from an...interesting...trip to Indiana. I guess most trips to Indiana are like that. You never know what will happen. This time, what happened was that my mom went into the hospital for three days immediately upon arrival. Don't worry, she appears to be fine now. It seems that the fourth toe on her right foot had a little stroke. Or something. She is doing much better and continuing to monitor the situation. If there is more news, I'll let you know. Anyway, once she was released from FCMH (where I was born!), the trip really began.

Daphne had a great time, and didn't want to come back home. She got candy and little gifts everywhere we went, so that probably had a lot to do with it. But she also had a great time playing with her cousins. Actually, they are my cousins' kids, so I'm not sure what relation they are to Daphne, but we call them cousins. It's less confusing that way. Anyway, she got to go to playgrounds with them, feed geese and ducks with them, play with them in the nursery at church, play baseball with them at my aunt's house, and various other things. She even got to go to school with one of them on Friday for an Easter party and egg hunt. She had a big time.
I had fun too. I got to have many of my favorite things: pizza from Pizza King (thanks to MY cousins!), ice cream from the Zesto, and a pedicure and manicure from Diva Nails. I got to spend time with my awesome cousins, which is always fun. And, I finally got to meet the great and mysterious Fooie McGoo and his nice family for a quick playdate at the park.

My Grandma's 90th birthday party was a big success, and everyone had a great time. My mom and aunt did a great job organizing and hosting, and my dad's slide show was a huge hit. My Grandma looked happier than I've seen her look in a long time, so I know it meant a lot to her. My cousin Amy brought her new baby girl to the party, so that added to the excitement.
AND Anthony is BACK on Project Runway! How great is that??!!

When we go to Indiana, I always stay with my Aunt Kathy, and she always has something exciting waiting for me in the guest room. Last time, it was a gift certificate to Diva Nails. This time, it was this painting:

You may remember the dress from this post. It is pretty much my Dream Dress. I want to wear it while I ride my bike around town with a basket full of flowers. So, I love this painting. Isn't it awesome? Thanks, Kathy.

So, all in all, except for the hospital part, it was a good trip. I didn't get to go to Huber's this time for fried biscuits and apple butter and chicken and dumplings, but I'll be back. Thanks to all my relatives for everything. And there are lots of pictures on Flickr for anyone who wants to see.

Yesterday was Kevin's and my seventh anniversary. We spent the day (10 hours of it) driving. It was actually not the beating you might think. In fact, I'd almost say it was pleasant. Daphne was really good, so that helped. We arrived home to see that the cherry tree in my side yard is starting to bloom and the peonies are coming up. We had no food in the house, so we walked to the local Indian restaurant and had a delicious dinner. It wasn't a big production, but a good anniversary nonetheless. Then we came home from dinner to discover that the AC is not working properly. It is 92 outside today, and will be 95 tomorrow. It's about 80 in the house. We'll most likely have to call a guy. I hope it is only a minor problem. Fortunately, it is supposed to cool off quite a bit on Thursday. I am trying to think cold thoughts and not go postal.
This week will be about catching up during the day and taking it easy in the evening. I have tons of laundry to do. The house is a disaster, but I can't clean when it's this hot, so that'll have to happen later in the week. It's too hot to cook, so we'll have salad tonight. I have TV to catch up on that I missed last week. And that's about it. Rocknoceros is playing at Daphne's school on Friday, and her first soccer game is Saturday. Good times.
I hope you all had a nice Spring Break and Easter. I'm going to go now and pretend to be cold...find something icy to drink and maybe look at pictures from the blizzard. Mind over matter.