Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Road Trip

Last Wednesday, we headed to the beautiful Hudson Valley in Upstate NY for a little late summer vacation. We were all in a bad mood when we left the house. The shower was clogged, the dryer was broken, Daphne wasn't cooperating, and the milk (which I had just bought the day before) was off so I didn't get my customary morning latte. Not a good way to start. Nobody was the least bit excited when I announced that I had planned a surprise stop at an exciting roadside attraction on the way.

Luckily, by the time we reached the Utz Potato Chip Factory in Hanover, PA, things were looking up. We got to tour the factory and see how chips are made (very cool!), and stock up (WAY up) on snack foods, and eat at an authentic 1950's drive-in, and everyone was significantly cheered up and ready for the adventures awaiting us in New York.

We had a GREAT time. Highlights included the always fun Dutchess County Fair (milkshakes, fried mushrooms, a Wonder Wheel, and a Fun Slide) with good friends, a short hike at Poet's Walk, BBQ chicken wraps from Coco's, Nell's Oreo Ice Cream Cake, Friendly's Watermelon Sherbet, Kev's Grandma's 90th birthday party, lots of time hanging out with family, beautiful delightfully cool weather, and - surprisingly this turned out to be Daphne's favorite part of the trip - a visit to Uncle Gary's garage which ended with a drive in the country in a 1915 Ford.

We took 407 pictures. Well, 404 pictures and three short videos. If you are interested, 65 pictures and one video (of the Ford!) made it to Flickr.

Now we're home. The shower is unclogged (hooray for Kev!), I got some new milk, and Daphne's behavior has been excellent. The dryer is still broken, but the dude from Sears is coming Thursday. It's hot again, but only until Friday. And tomorrow is September. Life is good.

By the way, Utz chips are really really good. Try them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Slow News Day

 Well, my house-cleaning is suffering, but during the past few days there was Nutella gelato, schnitzle and spaetzle, risotto, homemade granola, and a finished purple cowl:
There is not much dorkier than taking a picture of yourself with your webcam.  But I wanted to show you the cowl and my new hat from Anthropologie, which is my favorite.  It is not at all crazy like the ones from Project Runway last week.    Good grief. 

Kev was nice enough to watch Project Runway with me on Thursday night so we could have quality time.  And he was a really good sport about it...no noises or smart-a$$ guy comments while we were watching it.  But then, after the show, I made the mistake of saying, "You kinda like Project Runway, don't you?"  Which set off a rant that lasted a good 20 minutes about all that is wrong with fashion, TV, and people in general.  I should have known better.  Really, though, those hats were too much.  I think I'd have been worried if he DIDN'T rant a little after being subjected to all that.

We also watched two movies this weekend.  One was pretty OK...I forget what it was called though.  It had Ewan McGregor and Pierce What'shisname and Kim Kattral, and it was a mystery/thriller type movie.  I liked it.  Then, last night, we decided to watch Kick Ass, which was a huge mistake.  Oh my gosh.  The trailer did not indicate the level of distubing graphic violence we were getting ourselves into.  I thought, "Oh, this will be funny...it's got McLovin' and some tame nerdy guys that look sorta like Michael Cera...high-school nerds versus bullies kinda thing."  Uh.....NO.  Terrible.  Do not watch this movie unless you want bad dreams.  And for the record, Nicholas Cage needs to just quit.  He gets worse and worse with every film.  I think his best work might be Valley Girl, which was probably 25 years ago. 

Today is all about waiting for the plumber.  There is a leak that needs attention, and I fear it won't be a cheap fix.  I also feel another mini power-down coming on as we wind down our summer and gear up for the first day of school, so if you don't hear much from me for a while, that's why.  I'll be back in a week or so, hopefully with news of exciting new projects and ice cream experiments, and NOT news of plumbing disasters. 

See you in September! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Next Big Thing

This is a picture of a line of people waiting to get a cupcake at Georgetown Cupcakes in DC.  I didn't take this picture, but Kev and I saw a line just like it on Sunday when we were shopping in Georgetown.  Only the people had umbrellas.  A line of people snaking down the block were waiting in the rain on a Sunday for a CUPCAKE.  Probably a $4.00 cupcake, at that.  I understand there is a show about this place on TLC, but I also heard the lines were like this even before there was a chance you could get on TV whilst buying your $4.00 cupcake.  No cupcake could possibly be THAT good.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that the Mac-n-Cheese I got down the street at Dean & Deluca was way better, and there was no line. 

Anyway, I wish that Kev and I could look into the future and figure out what is going to be the next big thing; The New Cupcake, if you will.  Because these "cupcake boutiques" are all over the place, and people are getting rich off them, but it can't last.  Something new will come along, and cupcakes will be out of fashion.  What will it be?  Crepes, maybe?  Gelato?  Pie?  SOUP?!

I'm gonna go now.  I've got some thinking to do...

Monday, August 16, 2010

DC Mystery Door

As we were walking around DC, we ended up in a part of town where all the foreign embassies are located.  We saw the Irish Embassy, the Jamaican Embassy, the Chinese Embassy, and so forth.  Suddenly, we came upon a building with this out-of-place fancy purple door:
I decided to get a closer look at the plaque:
In case you can't read that, it says "Embassy of Freedonia," and in case you don't know, Freedonia isn't a real place.  It's from the Marx Brother's movie, Duck Soup. 

I couldn't really find anything on the internet by googling Embassy of Freedonia.  There does seem to be a grassroots group of wacko people who are trying to start a Nation of Freedonia, but I don't think this door has anything to do with them.  Chances are, some rich Marx Brothers fans live there among the embassy buildings and put this plaque on their door as a joke.  Anyway, it made us laugh.  So good for them.

and Hail Hail Freedonia! 

Big City Weekend

It seemed like this whole thing was going to turn out to be a total disaster. As we drove into the District on Friday afternoon, it was raining like crazy and I couldn't stop blowing my nose. I was trying as hard as I could to not be sick on our one and only big weekend away, but the sick was winning.

We finally arrived and checked into Room 237 at the Dupont Hotel. The rain stopped, and we decided to get some lunch across the street at the Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. (Where, by the way, the special of the day was the Barrack Obomelet. Please.) I got some hot tea with honey and an omelet with no political affiliation, which was all very good and temporarily made me feel better, and Kev got some butternut squash raviolis which were bordering on amazing. We ate outside, where it was delightfully cool, especially for August. Then we bought some books and went back to the room. I needed some rest, because by then I was feeling really awful. So, I rested, while Kev went to the record store. I figured the trip was ruined. But SOMEHOW, thanks to the rest, a nice hot shower, and the miracle-workings of the neti pot, I was like a new person by the time Kev got back. Bring on the vacation!

I wasn't 100%, but in spite of that, we still managed to pack in a lot of stuff and we ended up having a great time. We walked and walked and walked, ate lots of great food, bought lots of records, saw interesting buildings and art, shopped at Anthropologie, and went to a jazz show. In a cave. It was cool.

DC has a lot going on. We didn't come close to getting to do everything we wanted to do, but we decided to make this an annual trip. I'm already looking forward to next time, when I will hopefully not need a single kleenex or medication of any kind.
I want to thank Kev for planning the trip. It was exactly what I needed and I can't wait to do it again. As soon as possible. Thanks also to my mom and dad for staying with Daphne all weekend so we could go.
Now, back to reality. But that's OK. Hope you all had a good weekend too. Fall is in the air! I think I feel my groove coming on...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh, the Possibilities...

I am declaring my first batch of homemade ice cream a success.  There it is, topped with a little Magic Shell just for fun.  But it didn't really need it.  It was fine on its own.  I cannot believe how easy it is to make ice cream!!!  Hooray for the good people of Cuisinart for using their technological powers for good.  As we ate, we imagined the possibilities.  They are endless.  But I assure you, before there is anything else, there will be Nutella Gelato.  (That's even fun to SAY!) I will report back on how that turns out.  In the meantime, please feel free to share if you have any good ice cream recipes or ideas.

Although I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday, I had a great birthday.  There were gifts, there was gas station Thai food, there was of course the ice cream, there was a nap, there was reading and knitting, phone calls from people I like, nice messages on Facebook, and Daphne was good at bath time.  Kev got me a family band birthday gift - an amp for the bass.  It is orange - possibly the most fashionable amp I've ever seen.  I will take a picture and post it soon.  I am pretty sure I am the only mommy on the block with a cool orange bass amp.  So, now I'm really going to have to practice, because with the amp, you can actually HEAR me playing the bass.  Daphne gave me a card that she drew/wrote herself, and a pretty orange candle holder that she picked out and bought with her own money.  The lady at the Thai place even gave me some free mango and sticky rice, which was nice.  And tomorrow, Kev and I are headed to DC for the weekend.  I can't wait.  A very good birthday.  Thanks, everybody.

In other news, there was a serial killer here in Leesburg going around town stabbing people and hitting people with hammers.  It was pretty scary, especially since we walk everywhere.  But he has been caught! 

Albert the dog is doing well, moving a little slowly, but recovering nicely.  I get to see him tomorrow before we head to DC. 

And tonight is Project Runway night, so set your DVRs.

Have a great weekend, and stay tuned for Big City Adventures...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Double Dip

So, yesterday while I was trying to stay busy and not think about Albert being in surgery, I took the one and only eggplant from our garden, roasted it, and made some baba ganouj (roasted eggplant dip - right).  And then, since I had the tahini and chickpeas, I went ahead and made some hummus too (left).  Good stuff.  So last night, we had dips for dinner.  I also took some of our banana peppers, sliced them up the side, took out the seeds and membranes, and stuffed them with a mixture of sausage, mozzarella, parmesan, and bread crumbs. Then I wrapped them in puff pasrty and baked them.  I don't really like banana peppers, but these were good.  Kev ate some tomatoes too, so it was a very garden-intensive dinner, which is kinda cool.

Daphne, on the other hand, ate leftover chicken soup, which Kev made her on Sunday because she is (you have to read this in your most pitiful and dramatic groan-y head-voice) "so SUPER-DUPER sick."  I think she is actually having an allergy attack.  The air quality here has been terrible lately, and we were outside quite a bit over the weekend.  Kev's soup is really great, though, and we get to have it again tonight.

The next time I talk about any kind of "double dip" it's gonna be referring to ice cream, because guess who just got a new ice cream maker!!!  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)  Since tomorrow is my birthday, I will be making some ice cream to celebrate.  I even bought some Magic Shell!  (Daphne has never had it).  I'll make something simple this time, but I have been scanning the internet for recipes and have already found a recipe for some Nutella Gelato (thank you, Giada!) that must be made asap.  That will be next.

Another early birthday gift I received was a CD of songs that Kev and Daphne recorded.  It has Daphne singing the ABCs, I've Been Working on the Railroad, and a couple of songs she made up on the fly whilst standing at the mic (one is about soldiers (?!) and the other is all about "I love Mommy.")  Awesome.  Then there are Loch Lomond and Sidewalks of New York, which the two of them recorded together.  Best Gift Ever.  I love my family.

The doctors report that Albert is doing really well and should be able to go back home later today.  Yay.  Poor Albert.  I know he hates being in a strange place with strange people.  I am looking forward to seeing him.  Another great birthday gift knowing our good puppy dog is going to be OK. 

OK.  Off to water the garden before it gets too hot.  Because what we need around here is more garden vegetables.  (When is someone going to invent "sarcasm" font)?

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Good Day

Our good dog Albert has made it through his surgery and is now recovering minus his gallbladder, which was the source of his recent problems.  We are all very relieved, and thankful for all the good doctors who were involved during this process.  Above is a picture of Albert and Daphne, which she drew to make him feel better.  How could it not?  Feel better soon, Albert.

Friday, August 06, 2010


This morning, when I asked Daphne what she wanted for breakfast, she said, "A Happy Meal."


So, this is what she got.  It looks a little like Uncle Jeff, I think.  Anyway, it pleased Her Highness and she finished it up quickly, which is saying a lot because I'm sure she had something totally different in mind when she asked for a Happy Meal, and once she has her mind set on something, she doesn't usually budge.

(The dark stuff is a strawberry fruit bar from Trader Joe's).

Unrelated:  I found out that my Awesome Birthday Surprise is a weekend with Kev in DC at a very nice hotel.  I cannot wait.  It is going to be fabulous.  So, stay tuned in a couple weeks for lots of photos and tales of adventure.  We may even CANOE!  Kev rules.  Thanks, Kev.

And thanks to my family down south for babysitting!

On a more serious note, our good family dog, Albert, gave us all quite a scare this week, but today we finally received some encouraging news indicating that some routine surgery may solve the issue.  The news could have been much worse and I am very thankful.  We will all be glad when the operation is over.  Albert is not a pet, he is a family member.  Please keep a good thought for him.

OK...off to start the weekend.  Perhaps with grits.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I Should Not Be Allowed to Watch TV

One time in 2003, Kev and I went on vacation to Maine.  I love Maine.  I wish I could spend every summer there for the rest of my life.  There are loons, lakes, blueberries, mountains, whales, lobsters...aaaaaah.  Anyway, when we went to Maine, we flew into Boston to visit Kev's sister and our brother-in-law for a couple days, so we visited the aquarium there.  That is where this picture was taken of some kind of jellyfish. Pretty, huh?

WELL. A couple nights ago, we were flipping through channels and Kev stopped on a show all about jellyfish (there are 30,000+ different kinds!).  This was not a good idea, fascinating as it was.  You see, Kev really REALLY wants me to like the beach.  But now, after what I learned on that show, I will probably never ever stick my feet anywhere near an ocean again.  These things can KILL you!  And their populations are growing exponentially.  So consider this a public service announcement.  The jellyfish are taking over! Beware! 

Today it is hot and muggy and I would love to be in Maine, where it is probably delightfully cool.  If I was there, I would climb up the Beehive with Kev, then enjoy some lobster bisque while taking in a nice view of the Bubbles.  As it is, I will go enjoy my quiet house and my iced coffee.  Not quite the same, but it'll do.  At least there are no jellyfish.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Resistance is Futile

The title of this post was suggested by Kev as he came in from the garden on Saturday morning with way more tomatoes, green peppers, and banana peppers than we can possibly eat.  Even after giving a bunch away, we still had all that (above) left this morning.  And below is what I just finished gathering this afternoon.
Possibly the most unfortunate thing is that I do not like tomatoes.  We grow them every year.  I taste them every year.  And I just don't like them.  Even with salt.  Even with fresh basil and mozzarella. But there IS hope.  This year, I disliked them much less than in years past.  There was no gagging this time, or running for a glass of water to chase them down.  So, maybe next year, I'll try them again.  Everyone has been saying that these ones from the garden are especially great. 

In other news, we had a really great weekend.  Our friends came back from their tour of NY/Philly on Saturday, so we all went out for Cajun food on the new patio at the Cajun Experience restaurant downtown.  The food was great, the weather was delightful, and Daphne was really good.

On Sunday morning, the kids set up all of Daphne's guys to be the audience  for a magic show
which was performed by the Great Stromboli and her "lovely assistant."
Very entertaining.
And before they left, there was Rock Band.  Of course.  So much fun.

It was really great to get a chance to spend time with my good friends.  It's been way too long.  I was very sad to see them go.
 As promised, here is a photo of the new dresser we found last weekend at Eastern Market.  I love it.  I can't wait to put my stuff in it and get rid of those cheap plastic Target bins.  But first, I have to find some pretty paper to line the drawers with.

Look!  Dividers!
That's where my sweaters will go.

OK...off to read a little before Daphne wakes up.  I need to finish my book so I can return it to the library tomorrow.  Nothing is on the agenda this week, and I think I'll try to keep it that way.  I have a lot to catch up on around the house.  Please let me know if you want some tomatoes.