Monday, January 31, 2011

Big Day in the City

For Christmas, Kev got us two tickets to see Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and yesterday was the day. My mom came over to stay with Daphne (Thanks, Mom!), and we headed into town in the afternoon. The plan: Park at the Kennedy Center, head to Red Onion Records, then to the National Gallery of Art, possibly go ice-skating in their sculpture garden, eat dinner at Jaleo, go back to the car to take off my snow boots and put on nice shoes, and enjoy some jazz. And it mostly worked out. Mostly. First problem, I forgot to bring the nice shoes. I left them at home, right next to the door. So, I would have to wear my snow boots into the Kennedy Center. Oh well. Not really such a bad thing. Probably nobody would pay attention to my feet anyway. Second problem, we didn't have time for the record store. Again, no big deal. We'll just have to go back. And I want to go back a lot more often. I LOVED having some City Time. People, buildings, action. It was great. I miss living in a city. Except for the traffic.

Anyway, after we parked the car at the Kennedy Center parking garage, we walked around and looked at it. It is really cool. Especially at night when it's all lit up. This was our first time to go inside, and it was pretty awesome. A shuttle took us from there to the Metro station, and we headed to Penn Quarter and the National Gallery of Art. We decided to ice skate:
It was so much fun, and probably pretty funny to watch. My center of gravity has changed since the last time I skated (about 9 or 10 years ago), and it took me a while to re-get the hang of it. Pretty soon, I was skating, and not doing too badly as long as there were no obstacles. I had a few near-misses with people who fell down in my path, but I somehow managed to get around them (very gracefully, I'm sure) and I didn't fall at all. Skating outside is really fun, and I recommend it. You can't do that in Texas. And we were lucky with the was probably about 40 and best of all - NO WIND! So it was a nice day to be outside.

After the skating, we wandered around the museum for a little while, but we'll have to go back becuse the place is huge and we only made it through one wing. We had to leave to make our reservation at Jaleo:
Oh, Jaleo! Jaleo is probably in my Top Ten favorite restaurants. It is Jose Andres' tapas bar. Everything I've ever had there is awesome. This time, we had bread and manchego, fried eggplant with honey, scallops with butternut squash puree, clementines, and pumpkin seeds, serrano ham fritters, and mushroom rice. It was all great, even the garnish on the cheese plate, which was some sort of magical apricot marinated in honey. Holy Cow. Amazing. And I didn't even know I LIKED apricots. Anyway, we were enjoying a very relaxing dinner, and were about to order dessert when I asked Kev to check the tickets to make sure the show was at 7:30, which we were both convinced it was. Well, turns out it started at 7:00. Oops. Um...No dessert.

We quickly paid for dinner and hurried to metro and caught the first train to L'Enfant, where we were supposed to switch trains and head to Foggy Bottom. Next train was nine minutes away. And it was at least a 10-15 minute ride to Foggy Bottom, plus a few blocks' walk to the Kennedy Center. It was 20 minutes to show-time. We did the math. And then we ran up to street level, and luckily Kev spotted a Holiday Inn where we managed to flag down a taxi. We got to the Kennedy Center as they were flashing the lights, got to our seats as they were ringing the bell, and I managed to make it to the bathroom and back with barely enough time to catch my breath before the show started. Whew! I never could have made it to the car to get my shoes.

The show was really great. We got to see some pretty incredible musicians in an amazing venue, and it was only partially frought with difficulty. An adventure in the city with Kev. Just what I needed.

It's been hard to get in a groove with all this weather. More ice is expected tonight and tomrrow, so school Wednesday is iffy. But in spite of this, I have managed to go to Curves 13 times this month, and do the WiiFit 15 times on my off-days from Curves. I have also made it through the whole month of January without forgetting my Project 365 photo of the day. So I'm giving January Tara an A. Bring on February. One step closer to spring.

Hope you had a good weekend. New poll coming soon, and I promise it won't be about grits. Naptime for Daphne...we'll see if it takes. I've got a Southern Living magazine with my name on it...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Day

Last night, there was a ridiculous snowstorm in the area. They knew it was coming, so they cancelled school yesterday. There wasn't all that much snow, really, but for some reason it caused an unusual amount of mayhem. Maybe because it happened at rush hour. Drivers were stranded for hours. It took Kevin two hours to get home and once he got into town, it took him 45 minutes to go one block! He could have walked home much faster. Needless to say, there was no school today, so Kev took half the day off and we took Daphne sledding at the local elementary school. It was big fun.

I even got a turn:

And now, I am officially OVER winter. Bring on the spring, and bring it on QUICK. They have already called off school for tomorrow. Again. I have no idea why...the roads are fine. I guess they could be frozen early in the morning. But still. DELAY it a couple hours. But please stop cancelling school. I am never going to get anything done at this rate.

OK, OK. I guess I need to look at it as more quality time I get to spend with Daphne. I will try to look at it that way. But honestly, I think she's just as ready to go back to school as I am for her to go. She is starting to go a little nuts. Last night, she was singing a song about swiss chard and its effect on the muscles of her made-up sea creatures, the Wongees. SWISS CHARD! She has to be the first person in the history of ever to sing about swiss chard.

So, while today was really fun, like the most fun we've had in a while, I am ready to hang up my giant marshmallow coat and put away my boots until next year. It ain't gonna happen, but I can dream:

Aaaaaaah, yes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Eats Alert

Here is some White Bean and Chicken Chili that I made last night. Here is the recipe. I got it from a Giada cookbook that I got for my birthday. Her recipes never let me down, and most of the ones in her books can also be found on the Food Network website. Anyway, this chili was really good, especially since it was the coldest day of the year so far. Daphne even liked it. Kev didn't say too much about it, but he had seconds, so I think he liked it OK. I think he might have enjoyed it more if it wasn't called "chili." He has a certain idea of what "chili" should be (pretty much just chunks of beef and spicy sauce), and this isn't it. So if it was called "white bean and chicken stew" or something, he may have liked it better. But I loved it and I will definitely make it again. I stuck pretty much to the recipe, except I added some cayenne and a little tabasco sauce, and left out the red pepper flakes (Daphne wouldn't have eaten it if she could see red pepper flakes). Some of the recipe reviewers said they used spinach instead of swiss chard, and turkey instead of chicken. I bet it doesn't make much difference in the taste, but I may try that next time just to see. So, if it's really cold where you are, give it a try. It's really easy, healthy, and you'll get a couple meals out of it. (I just had some for lunch, and it's even better left-over than it was last night). And if there are any chili snobs living in your house, just call it soup.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tea Parties and Stuff

Well, I haven't had a lot of time to blog. It was a busy COLD COLD weekend. Since it was so cold, we spent a lot of time at home having tea parties:

and rocking out in the attic on the new drums:

Daphne got a little stir crazy, and started doing weird stuff like sitting in a plastic bin playing a keyboard

and taping stuff to her head:

Yesterday, we were supposed to get out othe house and go to breakfast for my dad's birthday. We were going to a place called Eggspectations. I was eggscited. But Daphne woke up Sunday and flopped around on the floor wimpering about having a tummy ache. So we didn't get to go. Luckily, Daphne's tummy ache went away, and we took a short walk around town, ending at the coffee shop. It was good to get out.

In other news, Kev and I hung up some pictures:

And we made some actual progress towards choosing paint colors. So maybe we'll get the house to look homey sooner than later.

We watched Inception on Saturday night. It was interesting, but not as great as I expected from all the hype. Lately, the movies we've seen have been sort of dark or violent or "smart." I could really go for a nice no-brainer kind of movie with a happy ending next.

Also, American Idol started last week, and if you read this, you know I am not ashamed to say I love American Idol. I was all set to hate it this season. In spite of my past Super-Fan status with Aerosmith, I thought Steven Tyler would be terrible. The last time I saw an interview with him was about three years ago on Henry Rollins' show, and he could not put together a clear sentence. He talked for about 10 minutes and didn't say a single thing that made sense. But, I have to say, he is actually pretty good on American Idol. So is Jennifer Lopez. I am surprised. I haven't missed Simon at all. But, the season is young, so we'll see what happens.

OK. Nap time. We'll see if it takes today. I hope so, because I want to play with the WiiFit. I need to improve my penguin score.

Grits talk and a new poll coming soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sit-Com Poll Results

So it seems that Seinfeld is the big winner with five of the twelve votes. Not a big surprise. I love all of the shows on the list, so it would be hard for me ot choose a favorite. Did one of you change your vote? I could have sworn that All in the Family had a vote at one point. Then it disappeared. Strange.

Anyway, I am going to put up a new poll. This one is about grits, just because I'm curious, and because it's all I can think of at the moment. More interesting poll coming soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Breakfast

This morning we had a lot of ice on the ground outside. Our neighbor was scraping it off his car and driveway, which was very loud, and it woke up Daphne. Early. So, we decided to make baked oatmeal, or as I sold it to Daphne, "Oatmeal Cake." This is really good stuff, and I don't like oatmeal. I've probably blogged about this before. I love the idea of oatmeal. I love the smell of oatmeal. I just can't eat it. I've tried and tried. It's a texture thing. Anyway, I can eat this baked stuff all day long, AND it's good for me! Woohoo!

The recipe is here. You can look at the reviews for some good ideas for changing it up. It's very adaptable. I don't like raisins or walnuts, so I leave those out. I add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and cook it longer than the directions say because I like it a little more firm. I topped mine with craisins this morning and it was DEEEElicious. Daphne likes it with bananas on top. Kev puts milk on his. It's great for these cold winter mornings. It's very easy for kids to help with. It can even be made the night before, refrigerated, and thrown in the oven in the morning. EASY! And it reheats well, so I'll be having it again tomorrow. I wish it was tomorrow right now.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review Time

I had forgotten how big a Rolling Stones fan I used to be.  I was going through some stuff trying to find my ticket stub from the '89 tour so I could take a picture of it for this post.  I didn't find it, but I found a bunch of other stuff - some of it, just a small sample, is pictured above.  Can you believe they actually made (and I actually bought!) Rolling Stones puffy stickers?!  Mine are unopened.   I looked on ebay, and they aren't worth much - less than 5 bucks.  (My Beatles bobble-heads and flicker rings, which I also found during my excavation, are worth considerably more, but not a fortune.  I don't think I'd part with them, though).  Anyway, also up there in the picture is a polaroid  I took at the Rock Circus museum in London of Keith Richards' snakeskin jacket from the '77 tour, an "Out of Our Heads" pin, and some 3D glasses and a bumper sticker from the '89 tour.  I had fun going through all that old stuff, but now I'm a little obsessed with finding my ticket stubs.  Where could they be?

So, anyway, I finished the Keith Richards autobiography a couple days ago.  I have to say, I loved this book.  Keith is not going to win any awards for being a great and prolific "writer."  He writes like he talks, and at times, it's hard to follow.  But when you get into the book, it's not hard to switch your brain over to Keith mode.  Then, the book feels more like a conversation.  He tells some good stories, seems incredibly sincere, and sets the record straight on a number of myths and rumors that have been swirling around for years. He doesn't just talk about the Stones, but also about his childhood, his family, England, and most of all, music in general.   In the last chapter, there is even a recipe and cooking tips!  By the time I finished the book, it was like Keith was an old friend.   And now that I'm done, I sorta miss hanging out with him.  So, if you like the Stones, or guitars, or good stories, then you will probably like this book too.  Thank you Keith... I enjoyed it.

This was the first book I read on the Kindle that my brother got me for Christmas.  The Kindle is great!  Easy to use, very portable.  And now I don't have to find a place to store a gigantic hardcover book.  The only thing I sort of missed out on were the large color photos in the hardcover version of the book.  I went to Border's the other day and looked at them, though.  That was good enough for me.  So, thanks to Jeff for that.  Time to choose my next book. 

Our weekend was good.  Daphne stayed in Manassas Friday night, so Kev and I got to go out to dinner and a movie.  This time, we saw the Black Swan.  I did not enjoy about 99 percent of it.  It was creepy and scary and gorey, and overall very unpleasant to watch.  But I have to say in retrospect it was very well done.  Great story, visually stunning, and Natalie Portman was great in the role.  So props to the filmakers for that.  I don't need to ever see it again.  (Shudder).

Yesterday, Kev and I made lasagna together, and there was nary an argument!  I am so excited about our new ability to cook together without incident! 

And, I borrowed the Wii Fit from my brother, and we had a lot of fun with that this weekend.  I got to be a flying chicken and a penguin, I got to do Kung-Fu and ski jumping, I got to walk a tightrope, and I got to watch Kev play the hulahoop game, which was very entertaining. 

So, good reviews all around.

I think there's only one day left for the sit-com poll, so get in your vote if you're gonna.  New poll coming soon.  Hope your weekend was good.  Happy MLK!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making Up

It was a rough morning. We weren't getting along. There was a lot of whining. There might have been a little yelling. We don't have a car again today, and it's too cold to go outside. Sometimes you have to stop down, start over, and get creative. So we had a makeup party. Daphne was the makeup stylist.

This last picture was taken AFTER I wiped the lipstick off my teeth. The most fun Daphne and I have had together in a long time. And there has been no mention of Luke Skywalker.
I just hope nobody comes to the door.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowed In, Sans Snow

Today it was supposed to snow.  I let Kev take my car to work in case the roads got bad.  So far, I've only seen a few flurries, but we're still stuck in the house.  It's way too cold to take a walk.  This morning, Daphne made a CLUBhouse.  That was the Big Activity of the day.  She didn't take a nap.  We are both a little stir crazy, and it hasn't even started snowing yet.  If they cancel school tomorrow, I'm in for it.  I'm just not that entertaining, and Daphne is BORED.  At this very moment, she is insisting that I get off the computer and pretend to be Luke Skywalker.  May the Force be with me.

I made a new poll.  It's over there on the sidebar.  Please enjoy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Beatles Win

Well, it's the last day of the first official LRHS poll, and it looks like the Beatles are the clear winner. I kinda thought that would be the case. The question was which of these groups would you most like to have seen in concert during their heyday. The Beatles received 6 votes, Elvis and The Who each got 3 votes, and Hank Williams, Sr. got one vote. Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and the BeeGees got no votes.

I didn't vote. It was too hard. I couldn't decide. There were problems with all the choices.

I love the Beatles, but I have seen video footage of their US shows, and if I had been there, I would have hated it. There was just a bunch of screaming, and you couldn't hear the music. I saw Paul McCartney on a solo tour and he was great. I saw Ringo as well. He used to do these "Ringo's All-Starr Band" tours. He was "meh" but he was a Beatle, so that's something. I regret never seeing George. He's my favorite Beatle. Anyway, I don't know, maybe I would have picked them if it meant seeing them in the VERY beginning at the Cavern, before Beatlemania. Or on the roof during Let It Be. But not at those wild screamy affairs.

I have also seen the Stones and I saw the Who twice. The Stones put on a great show, and sounded really amazing, especially for a bunch of old guys. The Who was great the first time I saw them and terrible the second time. I would have liked to see them with Keith Moon. At the first show, they did a big tribute to him which was very cool and touching. At the second show, a few years later, they all seemed to be in really bad moods, Pete in particular, and they were just noisy. I think the early Stones shows were probably much like the Beatles ones...lots of screaming, and riots on top of that. Not really my scene.

I saw Robert Plant and Jimmy Page separately on solo tours. Plant was great. Page was good, but it was a crazy show. We were up very close to the stage, and you could see how much damage the years of drugs had done. There was the great Jimmy Page, standing right above us playing Stairway to Heaven, but the whole time he was "motor-boating" his lips and drool was spilling out everywhere. Pretty sad.

I obviously never saw Hank, but would have LOVED to. Such genius. So sad. I'm glad he got a vote. Was that you, Kev?

I was too young to see Elvis when he was alive. I'm sure he put on a pretty spectacular show, though. I have seen Elvis COSTELLO a number of times. He's always great.

I just put the BeeGees on there to see what would happen. I like the BeeGees OK, but I bet their concerts were boring beyond belief.

When I was in England, I spent quite a bit of my time doing various pilgrimages. I went down to Brighton to see where the Who filmed Quadrophenia. I went to Edith Grove to see where Mick, Keith, and Brian lived when the Stones were just starting up. I went up to St. John's Wood to Abbey Road Studio (picture above, from 1991.) ( Funny, I just realized that twenty years ago today I was living in London. I'd been there for five days, and I was sick as a dog with a terrible cold. Wow. Time flies. I'm OLD). I also went to Liverpool for a weekend to do a whole Beatles tour. It was so great. I got to go to all their houses, Penny Lane, the Cavern, Strawberry Fields, etc. So cool, especially for such a big fan.

Anyway, I don't know who to vote for. Not the BeeGees. Not Led Zeppelin. Otherwise, it's a toss-up.

So, congratulations Beatles!
And I'm off to make barley soup and think of a new poll.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Routine

Well, Christmas is officially over now. All the Christmas things are put away and we are back to our usual routine. Kev went back to work, Daphne went back to school. There was swimming on Wednesday. There was cooking and cleaning and trips to Wegman's. I started going to Curves. It made me feel about a million times better, so I am going to join up next week. Hooray for January.

Yesterday we woke up to a little bit of snow:
There was about an inch, I guess. Enough for Daphne to get excited about. It almost all melted by the afternoon. That's my kind of snow.

This morning, Daphne and I cooked breakfast together.
Kev got us a Williams-Sonoma cookbook for Christmas called "Cooking Together." So we did. We made cranberry cornmeal muffins (below) and mini-frittatas (pictured on Project 365).
It was fun cooking with Daphne. She even tried the frittatas. She was hell bent on not trying them because there was cheese (she won't eat "melty" cheese). But she did, and she loved them. If they cook it, they will eat it.

This afternoon Kev and I went to see True Grit, which was awesome. Jeff Bridges is always great. Crazy Heart is another really good Jeff Bridges movie that you should rent if you haven't seen it. Anyway, we took the afternoon off to see a movie. We worked really hard over the weekend cleaning the house, organizing the playroom, and doing little projects. I am happy with 2011 so far. It's been both fun and productive. Here's hoping we can keep it up.

I am off to get back to Tales of Keith Richards on my Kindle. Very entertaining. I think the rock poll closes tomorrow, so perhaps we can discuss. The voting has not surprised me. I'm trying to figure out who voted for Hank. I think it was Kev, but it could be my brother. OK...Keef awaits.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fun New Thing Alert!

Over on the sidebar, to the right there, under the silly banjo picture of me, I have added a poll. If anyone actually participates, I will change it from time to time. This first one is about rock.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Who Are You?!

So, Blogger has this thing now where you can look at your "stats" and see your blog traffic. It's probably been there a while, but I just discovered it. And apparently, the LRHS has readers the world over! Within the last 24 hours, there have been not only 55 readers from the US, but also 6 readers from France, 3 from South Korea, and 1 from the Netherlands! WHAT?!
So, welcome and thank you, bienvenue et merci, 참 잘 오셨소, 어서 오십시오! and 감사를 나타내는, 사은의, and welkom en dank u! (I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the South Korean phrases) (I apologize and blame iGoogle if they're wrong).
Feel free to shout out in the comments, international friends! And US blog lurkers too. All are welkom here. Except sick-o's. No sick-o's. If you are a sick-o, please click away now. Thank you.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Blog Alert

I have decided to attempt Project 365 this year by taking a photo each day.  Each day's photo will be posted here,  and I will put a link on my sidebar.  You may place your bets now for how long it takes me to forget to take a picture.  Picture number one is from our hike yesterday at Bull Run.

Christmas Arts and Crafts

 Most of Christmas came via, but there were a few handmade items.  A scarf for Uncle Jeff, above.

Bird feeders for the neighbors, below:

 Finished, packaged, and ready to deliver.  This was a really fun and easy project for kids to help with, and I think made a good neighbor gift because it was an alternative to edible people treats (which I LOVE, but get a lot of already), it is a nice treat for the neighborhood birds, and nobody has to find a place to put disappears!  Instructions here

I did some experimental glass-etching:
 REALLY fun, REALLY easy, and REALLY cheap.  There will be more glass etching in the future.

And, I made a few t-shirts, including this Star Wars one for Daphne (she made the bracelet):

 Meanwhile, my dad gave us this painting for Christmas (from a photo from our wedding reception):
 And this one of Kev's grandfather's tractor was a birthday gift for Kev:
 And Mimi made Daphne a quilt:
If I start now, maybe I can have a totally handmade Christmas in 2011.  Get your requests in early!

Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, New York, and Christmas Times Three

Whew. It's January 2nd! So much has happened since the last post, but first, to catch up on our Advent Bags. Twenty-Three: Read 'The Night Before Christmas' and sprinkle the reindeer food. Because of our travel plans, we emailed Santa and asked if he could come to our house a day early. Of course, he didn't mind at all. So, on the night before the night before Christmas, we had to do our Christmas Eve activities.

For three dollars and 25 cents, you can buy reindeer food in a tube. It was inside Bag 23. So, we put on our coats and went out to sprinkle it around the yard for Rudolf and his friends. We followed the instructions carefully. You can't just pour it all out into a pile, has to be spread all around for the magic to work. I guess the reindeer enjoyed it, because it was all gone the next morning.

Next, we let Daphne open a couple gifts from Kev and I, including the robe and PJs I made for her. They fit perfectly, and she seemed to really like them. No complaints, anyway, so I was happy.

Then, we all nestled into the couch for story time:

It was a great night. Daphne was so cute when we put her to bed. So excited, but wanting to fall asleep quickly.

The next picture pretty much sums up her feelings on Christmas morning:

Bag 24: A note that said, "We made it! Merry Christmas!" and some hot chocolate mix.

Ah, the end of the bags.

We drank the cocoa, opened presents, and played, and had a big Christmas breakfast with G-Ma and G-Pa and Uncle Jeff. Definitely a fun day for all.

The next day, we drove to NY for Christmas Number Two:
Choir Loft at Regina Coeli - Post Papa Singing
We were only there for a few days, but we packed in a lot. Playing with cousins, dinner out with good friends, lots of Dog-Time, the Blizzard of 2010, Kev's birthday, Build-a-Bear Workshop, church, and more. Pictures from our trip will be posted on Flickr soon.

We got back home in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with good food and good friends. Daphne was awake until 1:30 AM! And she was GOOD! But it wasn't easy to wake her up the next morning:

Sleeping it off.
We spent New Year's Day having Christmas Number Three in Manassas.
Lots of nice gifts from G-Ma, G-Pa, and Uncle Jeff, more good food, and a hike at Bull Run Battlefield:

Today is the last day of our Christmas Break. Daphne goes to school tomorrow and Kev goes to work. And sometime this week will be my least favorite day of the year: Christmas-Tree Taking Down Day. It will be a sad day. But, I have to say, this was a GREAT Christmas, and one I will remember for a long time. I hope yours was good, happy, and safe. Happy 2011!