Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good Mail

The other day, I was getting made fun of on Facebook for liking to check the mail too much.  It's true.  I love to check the mail.  I get mad when it's a holiday that stops the mail from coming.  Last year, there were a couple of days that WEATHER actually stopped the mail from coming.  I tried not to be too mad on those days.  There was three feet of snow after all.  But all I could think about was the little mailman oath about delivering the mail no matter what the weather.  Anyway, people don't understand why I love checking the mail so much. It's almost always a big let-down.  Bills, junk, ads...that's about all we ever get.  Be that as it may, there is always that little bit of hope that comes with checking the mail.  The small possibility that there will be something good...some kind of happy surprise, like a postcard or a magazine.  And sometimes there is.  And SOMETIMES, when you least expect it, you get something like I found waiting for me during Monday's mail check. 

My cool friend Shannon sent me a package full of surprises (above) including a photo album filled with old pictures of us having fun, delicious cookies, a book and some toy airplanes for Daphne, jelly beans, and my very favorite vanilla latte powdered drink mix (below) from California.  She sent it for my birthday, but it was completely unexpected since my birthday was over six weeks ago.

So, that is why I like checking the mail.  You just never know.
And I have decided that I am going to start sending more mail to people I like, probably starting with the people who made fun of me on Facebook.  So watch your mailbox, Larry Feathers!  You too, BPB.

It is a really rainy day today.  It's been kinda rainy and gray all week.  The kind of weather that makes me sleepy and unmotivated.  I don't feel like cleaning or cooking or even knitting.  I am sort of forcing myself to blog this blog.  I really just want to take a nap.  I made this loaf of bread yesterday and that was about all the effort I could muster up.  I am hoping to snap out of it soon because there is a lot I want to do this fall.  Perhaps next week's ANNUAL TRIP TO INDIANA will help.  Can't wait for that.

This morning, we waded across the street to play with our neighbor's kids.  Their mommy pulled out - get ready - a set of FASHION PLATES!  The real ones from the 70s that I had when I was a kid.  It was all I could do to keep from grabbing them away from the kids and going all Old School Project Runway on them.  This was the greatest toy.  I might even go so far and say it's better than Easy Bake Oven.  If anyone wants to get, I mean Daphne...a gift, they can be found on ebay for various prices. (Please don't be fooled by the later versions...only the ones from 1978 will do).

Speaking of Project Runway, it's Thursday.  So I better go get that nap or I'll never make it tonight.

P.S.  This morning, Daphne told me I was glowing.  I thought that was a very nice thing to say until she said what she meant was that I looked "kinda green."  Nice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

This Weekend...

...we had a birthday party for a pumpkin (photo by Kev).

We made cookies and cream ice cream (photo by Kev).

We had delicious food with good friends (photo by me...flan by Miss B).

Bottles were cleaned and filled with cider (photos by Daphne).

And we celebrated my mom's birthday with more good food and some caped scootering (photo by G-pa).

It was a good one.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Having Fun, Wasting Time

This afternoon, I have been wasting my time playing with various photo effect web sites. You can do all sorts of things on line to make your pictures look all groovy and old school.

This first one is the original picture (above) with one of the many effects you can find on Rollip:
(Rollip is also where I made the super-saturated carousel picture in the post below.)

Next, I used wanokoto, which is very Japanese, to make "photos like over 100 to 150 years old:"

Next, here is a lomo effect from dumpr:
Dumpr has a lot of other effects too, as does Big Huge Labs, which is where I did Daphne's birthday photobooth pictures.

Finally, if you want a Polaroid effect, you can download "poladroid:"
Poladroid is REALLY fun and is a huge timewaster because you have to sit and wait for each image to develop in real polaroid time.

So, if you are like me and cannot afford Photoshop, there are plenty of free options out there, at least for making vintage style photos out of your digital images. Have fun. You're welcome.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carousels and Capes

Today is Thursday, and that means Rocknoceros at the mall. I wanted to take Daphne to see them last week, but her allergies kicked in and she wasn't up to it. So today, we made a day of it. We went early to play on the mall playground. It has "soft" equipment, so it's relatively safe, and it has an airport theme due to its proximity to Dulles. Daphne loves it. She can climb and climb on the planes, and I don't have to worry too much about injuries. Anyway, we were supposed to meet a friend from school, but a series of unfortunate events kept them from joining us, so we had some quality Mommy and Daphne time. Daphne even helped me pick out a shirt at H&M, loosely inspired by last week's Project Runway look from the great Mondo:

Mine has navy and white stripes, and is not as cute as this one. Nor will I wear it with a purple houndstooth skirt. But I like it. Speaking of fashion, yesterday I was thinking about capes. I saw this one at Anthropologie:
Isn't it cool? And then I started wondering if I am the sort of person who could wear a cape and pull it off, but I think you have to maybe be really tall and skinny to do it. I dunno. Anyway, I've been wanting to sew something, so I may go see if I can find a cape pattern and give it a try. If it doesn't work out, I can always pass it along to a tall skinny friend. Perhaps a purple houndstooth cape!? If only I could go to MOOD!

So, anyway, I'll get back to the mall. After the quick stop in H&M, we grabbed our spots for the Big Rock Show, next to the escalators, on the "Coach side." Daphne doesn't like to sit on the "WillieBob side." She is "shy to WillieBob" because of his long hair or something.
Kev came to meet us for a quick lunch in the foodcourt, and we ended our Thursday adventure as we usually do, with a ride on the carousel on Daphne's favorite horse, Brownie. Yes, That's right. My kid has a favorite mall carousel horse and she even named it. She gets very upset if someone else gets on Brownie before she can. Today, thankfully, that was not a problem.

After all that, I was exhausted, but Daphne did NOT take a nap. She is watching a movie at the moment.

I am going to go sit with her and read a magazine or possibly sneak a nap. Or maybe I'll cruise the internet for cape inspiration. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cider House Rules

So, the cider-making is in full swing around here.  Things seem to be going well.  What I have tasted is pretty good, especially for first timers, so it's kind of exciting.  Time to start thinking up names, I reckon...

Meanwhile, the dryer was finally fixed on Monday.  I am through with Sears.  Finished! Terrible customer service.

Yesterday, Daphne and I went to Manassas and went to lunch and the ice cream stand with G-Ma.  It was fun.  We got to spend some time with Albert, who seems to be doing well. 

Over the weekend, we tried the new Mexican/Salvadorean place (Los Tios).  Kev's food was great, and mine wasn't very good, but that was my fault.  Here is the problem:  I don't like tomatoes, onions, pico, avacado, etc...all the things they put into almost all Mexican dishes.  But I also don't like to special order everything and feel like a complete dork (Uh...I'll just have some meat and cheese please).  So I try to order what looks like the most plain and bland thing on the menu, and this time I struck out.  My plate was full of onions that I couldn't avoid as much as I tried, and I was too embarrassed to send it back.  But like I said, I had some of Kev's steak and shrimp, and it was great.  I also swiped some of Daphne's plantains which were delicious.  And the dessert was awesome, although Kev and I both had sleep problems after eating it.  He was awake at 2 am and couldn't go back to sleep. The up side is that while he was awake, he invented a whole bunch of new kinds of pie!  I will ask if I can blog the list.  Perhaps some of them will actually get made this fall.   I, on the other hand, slept all night, but had a long series of very stressful dreams involving lost backpacks, New York City, tigers and gorillas, my friend Bryce, and Angela Lansbury.  So, I recommend Los Tios, but not late at night.  Oh, and the service was good too...very friendly staff, especially when Daphne tried out her Spanish vocabulary.  They loved it.

We worked on trying to plan out our Fall Activity Schedule.  So much to do, and almost no time.  Soccer is really shooting the wheels off our weekends, and we have a couple of trips planned, so we're not going to be able to do everything we want to do locally this year.  That's OK, though.  There is such a thing as Too Much Fun.  I am cool with a little downtime.  And although soccer is kind of a pain, Daphne seems to be really enjoying it, and she's pretty good at it.  And I think Kev likes coaching.  So I don't mind it, really.

School is off to a good start, and the swimming on Wednesday's is going really well so far.  Especially after Daphne practically threatened to quit school if I made her go anywhere near the water.  She's been twice now, and she loves it.  She gets right in the pool with the other kids and has a smile on her face the whole time.  So, thank you Miss Janeane!  You are awesome.

OK.  I am going to go now and watch a cooking show or something where I don't have to use my brain for at least an hour.

Tomorrow, Rocknoceros.  Dude.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Old Coffee Shop

So, the old coffee shop, the Coffee Bean, closed a few months ago, and this week, a new one opened in its place. This place is about a block from my house, so it's a very good thing. Shoes, my favorite coffee shop, is about three blocks away, and it is where I will still go most of the time probably, because it is just cool, and it has sandwiches and pastries and dinner food etc. And a secret garden. But, Shoes is almost always crowded, and isn't really very kid-friendly, so the new place was perfect yesterday, when Daphne and I decided to go for a morning walk. We were the only ones there.
I got some beans and a cup of coffee, and Daphne got milk and a cookie. They have a kid's desk in there, with crayons and coloring books, and she was happy to sit and color while I read the paper and had my coffee. The coffee was good, the cookie was fresh from the oven, and the staff was very friendly. I wish them well. They don't have all the food and stuff that Shoes has, but I think she (Kimberly, the owner) is catering to a different crowd, so maybe she'll be OK. It's a tough time to start a business.

In other new business news, we went to the new BBQ place up the street last week for dinner and it was great. I had pulled pork and Kev had brisket, and we liked both a lot. The staff was really friendly - they all made friends with Daphne immediately. And it wasn't expensive. We will definitely be going there often.

I just found out about a new Tex-Mex / Salvadoran place that opened nearby. We passed it on our walk yesterday - it's hidden under Fireworks Pizza in an old Italian place that closed recently. I am excited to try it, even though I know it'll never be Gloria's. Oh, how I miss Gloria's. Anyway, restaurants are closing and opening like crazy around here. I hope the good ones make it. I am really hoping for a crepe place. My friend Matt had the idea for a crepe place called Planet of the Crepes. Genius. Maybe Kev can become a Master Cider Brewer and I can become a Crepe Chef. One can dream. to skim through my library books. Today was the first day I dropped off Daphne at school and had alone-time, but I had to go to the grocery store, so there was no time for coffee and yarn. I did make a quick trip to the library before pick-up though, so at least that's something. Coffee on Friday, perhaps.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For Uncle Jeff

Kev and Daphne had a little piano lesson yesterday.  It was going really well at first as you can see, but then he pushed his luck with the whole "Pop Goes the Weasel" thing, and the wheels came off.  There was lots of whining and flopping.  We're gonna have to keep the lessons pretty short.  Anyway, maybe she'll learn the rest of "Jingle Bells" by Christmas. 

Excitement is Brewing in the Dining Room

Kev and our friend, Mr. Tim, are working on a hard apple cider brewing project. I will not pretend that I have any idea what is going on in that giant container, but when it is finished, I am going to enjoy tasting it. And there is another giant container doing something downstairs in the beer fridge, which I didn't even know about until a few minutes ago. (I try to avoid the basement - it is creepy down there). Who knows, maybe Kev and Mr. Tim will become Master Cider Brewers and be able to leave the world of engineering. That would be awesome.

I could never be a master brewer. I don't have the patience. It takes WAY too long. WEEKS! To go through all that work and wait weeks and weeks and then have the possibility it will fail and turn into vinegar! I couldn't take it, man. I can barely take a failed pie.

That being said, I am pretty confident that this batch of cider will turn out to be pretty good. I will keep you posted. But, you'll have to wait. And wait.

Go Rockets


Kev's dad was on hand this weekend to capture Daphne's first soccer game on film, starting with a pregame warm-up in the back yard.  These are a few of my favorite shots.  Thanks, Papa Holt.



GOAL (by Mimi)





Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day

School started for Daphne this morning.  Finally.  It seemed like this day would never come. 

It was a great day.  There were old friends to see, new friends to meet, play-doh, story time, toys, and a short trip down the hall to see the pool.  After school, we played on the playground with a friend.  Then I took Daphne to Wegman's for some celebratory gelato, and now she's asleep.  Kev and I stayed with her at school today, but Wednesday I will drop her off and have a couple hours all to myself.  I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet, but it will probably involve coffee, and possibly yarn.

Off to clean the breakfast dishes, which I didn't get done in the first day of school rush this morning.  Then, a nap.  Preschool wore me out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good Times

Life is so much better when it's not summer.  This is me, yesterday, on a boat in the middle of the Potomac wearing my new Anthropologie hat.  Kev's parents came to visit and we took a river cruise from Alexandria to Georgetown (which is where I originally got my hat!) and back.  It was great.  Delightfully cool, a nice sunset, a well-behaved Daphne, and all that makes for a very happy me.  I love being on the water.  (Not to be confused with being IN the water.  I don't like that at all. )  All my stress just disappears.
We had a nice weekend with Kev's mom and dad.  There was schnitzle and spaetzel (again - at Kev's request), and more homemade ice cream (cookies and cream), Daphne's first soccer game of the fall season (she scored a goal in the scrimmage!), the river cruise, and family band time.  They headed back to NY a little while ago, Daphne is napping, Kev is making hard apple cider with our friend Tim (exciting!), and I am blogging.  School starts tomorrow (at last!).  I am feeling cautiously optimistic about my groove.  We'll see.

Things to look forward to:
  • A little more free time
  • Trip to Indiana and all that goes along with that
  • Various Fall fests
  • Three more dates with Kev
  • Soup!
  • Pie!
  • Having a fixed dryer (this week, perhaps)
  • Wearing my new purple coat
  • The Halloween parade (will the camel be there?!)
  • Knitting something
OK...gotta go wake up Daphne or bedtime will be a disaster.   Not good for the groove.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Labor Day Walk

Yesterday was Labor Day and I took Daphne for a walk while Kev did some stuff he needed to do.  Walking with Daphne can be challenging.  She has to stop a lot and pick up every rock, stick, leaf, etc. that she finds.  We bring a bucket.  It fills up fast.  Anyway, the secret to walking with Daphne is resigning yourself to going at her pace and just enjoying it that way.  So, we had fun.  We went downtown, bought some coffee at Shoes, pet some dogs, ran in the grass at the Town Green, played in the Children's Garden by the museum, and hung out by the trail.  We must have been gone for 2 hours.  Daphne took the picture above, which I posted because I think it's really cool.  Sometimes, she has a good eye for a little kid.

Last night, there was grilled meat and blueberry pie (which I did not make - it was from Wegman's and it was good), and in between the walk and the grilling, there was back-to-school shopping at the mall, which went about as well as can be expected.  Sunday, Daphne went to play with a friend while Kev and I saw The American, which was just OK.  Too many unanswered questions for me.  I like to know what gives. More than anything, it made me want to go to Italy.  And there were some cool knitted garments in the movie which I'm hoping to find patterns for.  Anyway, it was nice to go see a real movie in a theater with Kev.  We need to do it more often.

My dryer is still broken and we have houseguests coming Friday.  The first soccer game of the Fall season is Saturday, and school finally starts Monday.  Then, I am going to take a deep breath and start thinking about Christmas.  I can't wait.

Hope you all had a good weekend.  I am off to be crafty until naptime ends...

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Today, we went to Maryland with our friends to visit an apple orchard and distillery. It was the grand opening.
Blue skies, white puffy clouds, a nice breeze (thank you, Earl). Daphne fed apples to cows, befriended the farm dog, and played with her friends, Kev learned about making hard cider, and I sat on a bale of hay and ate a delicious cajun catfish sandwich and fresh ice cream from a neighboring farm. Then, I bought a skein of pink/red/orange loopy mohair from another neighboring farm. Daphne will be getting a handknit poncho. Eventually.
Who knew you could have such a good day in Maryland? Thanks, Tim and Suzanne.

In other good news, I got to see Albert the dog yesterday and he is doing great. A new coffee shop is opening up a block north of my house, and a new barbeque place just opened a block south. We sampled some last night at First Friday and it was GOOD. Fall is off to a good start.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wednesday Candy

This is Paolo Nutini. Funny name for a Scotsman, but this song is awesome. Thank you, Jools Holland. Happy Wednesday.