Thursday, October 31, 2013

We Are Ready

Carved the pumpkin and harvested the seeds.

Roasted the seeds.

Did some knitting.  Cleaned the house.  Made Daphne a spy badge.

Bring on the candy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recently - Instagrammed

I have some catching up to do!  I can't help it.  I've been sick.  But let's go back a bit...

'Twas the night before Rhinebeck, and we tried our beer!  It wasn't quite officially ready, but since I was about to go out of town and all, we tried it anyway.  And it was really REALLY good!  I am so impressed with us and our beer-making skills!  And look how pretty it is, too!

The next day, I set off for New York with my good friend Jill, to stay "up the lake" and go to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  Here is the lake place, in all it's fall glory, Smurfy chairs and all!

It was so nice staying at the lake place.  Peaceful, and not even really all that cold.  In fact, the weather was beautiful the whole time we were there.  Crisp but not cold, sunny, and the fall colors were amazing.

On Saturday, we met my friend Angela and went to the festival.  We saw lots of these:

And lots of this:

And a few of these guys:

I got some treasures...some yarn, some handles for my rainbow bag, a sheepy ornament, and a nice lady helped me fix my Loster Sweater mistake.

The next day, we went to the Roosevelt home and library/museum, which is awesome.  Here is FDR's head:

And here is the Roosevelt's garden:

The whole trip was awesome.  Great food, great company, yarn, can't ask for a much better vacation.  I am so lucky to have friends who get all happy about the same stuff as I do.  Already thinking about next year!

On the way home, we had to drive through this cloud, which separated New York from Pennsylvania.  We rolled down the windows and touched it.  You don't get to do THAT every day!

Immediately when I got back to Virginia, I got sick.  I thought it was allergies, but it must have been more because I'm just now really over it.  Kevin got sick the same day.  But he is worse.  He has bronchitis.  Amazingly, Daphne is fine.  We had a lot of chicken soup last week.

This week has been all about Hallooween.  Daphne is a detective this year, which is cute AND I didn't have to make the costume!  Here she is, ready to go to the Fall Harvest Festival at her school.

She had a great time, and won a gift card to Finch Sewing Studio in the raffle!  So cool.

Speaking of the Finch,  I went to a Finch event last night at Dry Mill Winery with a couple of friends.  We made cute wine totes.  Here is mine:

I wanted to put a bird on it, but there wasn't a bird stencil so I put a T on it.  That means it's mine.  I am going to make more of these.  They are so easy and cute!

My house smells so good.  I have pasta fagioli in the slow cooker for dinner tonight.  Yum.  Kev's parents are coming on Thursday in time for the Halloween parade and trick-or-treating with Sherlock Holt.  Should be a fun weekend.  The weather is supposed to be decent I think.  Tales of Halloween adventure coming soon!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let the Shopping Begin...

I got my Heifer International catalog yesterday.  I say this EVERY year, but for real,  THIS year,  SOMEBODY is getting a goat for Christmas.  Or maybe a llama.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Coming...

I have to find a way to keep it simple this year.  More eggnog, less stress.  But the fact that I'm already thinking about it isn't a good sign.

I need help.

Master Chef Junior

We have been watching Master Chef Junior.  This show has some amazing kids on it, and I think Daphne is a little inspired.  I asked her if she would like to be in charge of Monday dinner (she had the day off from school), and she picked a recipe, helped with the grocery shopping, and cooked delicious chicken pot pies for dinner last night. (First, she decorated her apron.  Always crafty!  That's my girl!)

I was the sous chef.  She told me what to do, and I said, "Yes Chef!"  I let her use the big chef's knife and chop up the carrots and potatoes (I cut up the chicken - I didn't want to gross her out at the beginning of the recipe).  She did almost all of the cooking, and I just stood by to help if she needed it.  It was fun, and she did a great job.

The pot pies, which were from a Williams Sonoma cookbook for parents and kids called "Cooking Together," were really tasty.  She made three last night, and we have enough filling to make three more tomorrow night.  Yum.

The best part was that Daphne was really proud.  And tired.  I think she now may have greater appreciation for me cooking dinner every night.

She got up this morning and made her own breakfast and part of her lunch.  We always get a lot of mileage off a little confidence booster.  Next, she wants to make a dessert.  Looking forward to that.

On Sunday, we cleaned the house all morning, and rewarded ourselves with a trip to Shoes for root beer floats and board games.  Daphne went to write on the giant chalk board, and when I went to check on her, I saw that she had been publicly promoting her "Spy Business."  She wrote, "I am a this."  She wrote our phone number and drew an arrow to it.  We made her erase the phone number, and explained to her that spies don't really advertise.  She's a funny little kid.

Guess what!!!  There is already eggnog at Wegmans!  Oh, how I love eggnog.  I am hoping that the grocery store in New York has some Ronnybrook Farm eggnog (best eggnog ever), but I'm betting it's a bit too early.  For now, Upstate will have to do.  Three more days until my Rhinebeck Roadtrip!  Can't wait!

Dog Sledding Day!

On Saturday, we got up ridiculously early, met our Girl Scout friends in the local playground parking lot (this probably looked pretty shady), and headed our 5-car convoy 2 hours NE to Freeland, Maryland.  We landed at the Freeland trail head of the Northern Central Railroad Trail at Gunpowder Falls State Park, where we were met by Catherine and Eric and their awesome pack of sled dogs.

Daphne was excited.  Can you tell?

After a lesson about sled dogs, the girls got to help harness them up in preparation for their big ride.

The girls were divided among three stops so they could tag in and out of the "sled," which was actually more like a buggy since there was no snow.  They each got to ride for about half a mile.  At my stop, we had to find things to do while we waited.

Daphne was giddy when it was finally her turn.

I am so happy that she got to have this experience.  I'm not sure if all the girls really appreciated how rare an opportunity it was, but they all had fun.  Even our most nervous little scout was hugging the dogs by the end of the day.

Dog-sledding is now my new number one bucket list item.  Only I want to do it with my family, in the snow (like in Maine or Vermont), in the back country, for miles and miles.  I used to want to go to Antarctica to see the penguins, but now Dog Sledding is the new Antarctica.  I am changing the label on my "Nantucket" jar.  It will now be the "Dog Sledding in Vermont or Maine in the Back Country for Miles and Miles" jar.  Now, to get Kev on board with the plan...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Good Soup

You may remember the platter of vegetables from Tuesday.  Last night, they became this delicious roasted vegetable soup.  The funny thing is, I don't even LIKE vegetables.  Not really.  They are OK.  But they're not like GRITS or anything.

But this soup was GOOD!  

The veggies:  Parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

Day 1:  Peel and chop, toss on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake at 425 for 45 minutes or so, until nice and roasty and tender.  Eat a few, save the rest.

Day 2:  Put the leftover vegetables and a big container of chicken stock in a large dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for a few minutes.  Turn off the heat and puree it with your awesome immersion blender.  Turn the heat to low and add some half and half until you get the consistancy you like.  Now the fun part - start tasting and adding stuff.  We (Daphne helped) added maple syrup, a little cinnamon, a drop or 2 of liquid smoke, and more salt and pepper.  When it was perfect, we served it with homemade croutons and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Good stuff.  

Today it is raining and I am still kind of sick and I have a Brownie meeting and a meeting with the principal because Daphne wants to start a school newspaper.  I should sign off and get organized now.  


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fall is Great, Veggies are Good, and Young Country is Silly

Last night, I roasted some vegetables.  Carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.  It was good.  And tonight, it will be soup.  I like fall the best.

While we were at the Flying Barrel on Sunday, bottling our beer, we had to listen to Young Country on the piped in radio station.  Young Country is very silly.  The lyrics are so corny.  Young Country songs can be about pretty much anything as long as it's happening on a highway or in a Chevy (or sometimes Ford) and there is talk of beer and America.  Extra points for mentioning Texas or how much you love your grandma.  I am going to start writing Young Country songs to support my yarn habit.

One of the songs we heard went like this:  "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy."  I guess that about sums it up.  Thanks,Young Country.

I started thinking about this kid Jimmy Beavers I knew in school who grew up and is now a famous young country song writer.  I wondered if he was responsible for God is great, beer is good, etc., so I looked it up.  He didn't write that song, but I discovered he DID write the red solo cup song, which I have actually never heard - only heard OF it.  I should go listen to it on youTube.  It's probably very silly.  But good for Jimmy Beavers.  He has probably made a ton of money for his nice family.  They probably don't have to think twice about the price of a skein of Malabrigo Superwash Merino Worsted.

I reckon I shouldn't make too much fun of Young Country lyrics considering I used to think Rush lyrics were genius.  

I will let you know how the soup turns out!

UPDATE:  I have now watched the Red Solo Cup video on youTube.  This song is extremely silly and not for the easily offended!  And as it turns out, good ol' Jimmy Beavers not only wrote the song, but he's in the video!  There he is, 2nd from the right, looking exactly like he looked in 7th grade.  Way to go, Jimmy!


Monday, October 07, 2013

Wound and Ready

This amazing pile of Malabrigo Merino Superwash Worsted is wound and ready to go with me to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and be turned into awesomeness.

I think I'll take this with me, too.  The quilt is sandwiched and basted and waiting to be hand-quilted.  A lot of time and effort, but it's going to be special.  I wish I felt good enough to work on it.  I hate head colds.  Maybe tomorrow.

Forty-Seven Bottles of Beer on the Wall, Grits, and Gravity

Sunday started out with the best grits I have ever had.  And I have had a LOT of grits.

It was beer-bottling day in Frederick (at last!), so Kev and I went early for Sunday brunch at Family Meal.  Family Meal is a Bryan Voltaggio restaurant.  Bryan Voltaggio was on Top Chef, where he was beaten in the finale by his brother Michael.  He has three restaurants in Frederick, and the two I have been to are awesome.  I am telling you, these grits were amazing.  And they didn't even need cheese!

After breakfast, we walked around town and got a little bit of Christmas shopping done!  Then, we headed to the Flying Barrel to bottle our beer.

Kev's job was to fill the bottles:

And my job was to put the caps on with the fun gadget:

And now, we have 47 bottles of beer in the basement, getting all carbonated and ready to drink.

We sneaked a few sips, and the flavor is really nice.  It's going to be a good batch of beer.  This was really a fun activity, and I recommend it if you have a beer fan in your family and you live near Frederick.

I also recommend going to Family Meal for brunch grits.  I am going to write to Bryan Voltagglio and try to get his secret.

The rest of the weekend was good. On Friday night, we went to the annual Work Festival at the Orbital complex.  Daphne got to climb a rock wall, build a toy car, win a stuffed dog, eat free ice cream, and hold a baby duck.  Not a bad Friday night.

Saturday, we had band practice, which was fun because we played some new songs.  Daphne went to spend the night in Manassas, and Kev and I went to the Alamo to see Gravity-3D.  This movie is amazing.  I have no idea how such a thing could be filmed.  I am usually against 3D, but the technology has come a long way, and it wasn't annoying or distracting.  Seriously good movie, even though I was prepared to hate it. 

I now have a head cold, which is annoying.  I'm glad to have it now, though, to get it over with during an easy week.  It would be bad to be sick for dogsledding (DOGSLEDDING!!!) on Saturday, or the Sheep and Wool Festival the next weekend. 

Lots of house stuff to take care of, and then maybe a nap.  Head colds make me sleepy.

Thursday, October 03, 2013


Look!  Fall!  YAY!

I think my favorite fall tradition is making pumpkin bread on October 1st.  This year, I waited until after school, and let Daphne help.  I use this recipe from Kev's Fannie Farmer cookbook, but I double the spices and add chocolate chips instead of nuts. Good stuff.

Daphne likes raking leaves.  This is good, because I hate raking leaves.  Actually, I don't mind raking them, I just don't like picking them up and bagging them.  There must be a gadget out there for that.  It would be much more useful than THIS gadget, which I saw on TV the other day.  Good grief:

Yesterday, we went to Rust Nature Sanctuary after school to watch a friend's son tag and release monarch butterflies.  Very very cool. 

Daphne tends to be very pokey and distracted in the mornings, which causes lots of stress and yelling and almost missing the bus.  So, we started a new morning plan.  Every morning, I set the kitchen timer for 12 minutes.  During that time, Daphne has to do her morning jobs (brush teeth, make bed, get dressed).  For every minute she has to spare, she gets a coin to put in this jar:

We call it "Beat the Clock."  This has made mornings SO much nicer.  She is highly motivated to get ready faster, she doesn't have to rush through breakfast, and sometimes, she has time for a chapter of a story, or a little of THIS before the bus:

I am a little worried that she may not be spending enough time on the teeth-brushing part, but we can adjust for that.  It's so nice to start the day relaxed instead of stressed.

I'm proud of her.  She has beaten the clock every day for about 2 weeks now, with no complaining.  And she isn't even keeping the money!  She's giving it to a program which helps economically disadvantaged girls participate in Girl Scouts.

Tonight is my last quilt class.  I doubt I will finish, but I hope to get quite a bit of the "quilt sandwich" done.  The weekend should be good.  Tomorrow is the annual "work festible" at Kev's company barbecue dinner and rides and a rock-climbing wall etc.  Always fun.  Saturday, we have band practice with Misters Tim and Jeff, and Sunday we bottle our beer.  At last!

And maybe next week, there will be more soup!  Fall is awesome!