Friday, November 27, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
However, having been a fan of the show ER during its early years, you get this eerie false familiarity as you wait for the "El" train, knowing you've never done this before but you've heard and seen it so many times on TV.
I had a great time with many adventures, some of my favorite being a long train ride pilgramage to Oak Park, the home of one of my childhood heroes (once you've been to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright becomes very heroic no matter how old you are). It was such an amazing sight to see an entire town transformed by the architectural visions of this one artist. Beautiful. I'll try and post some photos of the town later.
I decided one evening to head over to the Art Institute by foot and accidentally discovered something beautiful I'd never heard about: Millennium Park. When you read about it, you think, ho hum, city park. When you go there, you say, Frank Ghery outside auditorium with a free world music concert blasting with people dancing and picnicking in the grass out front? Huge public art everywhere? A huge garden composed of wild plants and wildflowers of the region? Right next to the Art Institute? Wha?? It was gorgeous. (skyline photo above taken from the garden). And the new wing of the AI was incredible. I went on the free Thursday night and it was intoxicating to be surrounded by a museum full of happy summertime art fans wandering through its halls.
I also did Chicago's food traditions justice. I had a steak sandwich submerged in juice (disgusting but so good), a visit to Frontera and their new fast food joint, Frontera Fresco, and had to make sure I got some chicago style pizza from Ginos East, for which I've been craving now for about, oh, 15 years. I even stumbled across a city farmer's market, so I was in farmer's market bliss seeing what it is they have out here on the farm in the midwest (in July: lots of Michigan cherries and peaches).
I was really, really impressed with Chicago. I just had no idea it had so much to offer.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I do have some lovely memories to share, however. So let's begin.
Then we were off to Virginia and Washington DC where Mr. Right's brother lives. I lived in DC for a year so I'm always happy to return to the area, as well as being that much closer to my homestate of PA. We drove the scenic route through the Cheasapeake bay peninsula, stopping in New Castle, DE for a rest break and learning about motor oil ice cream, and reading sign after sign promising us fireworks, peanuts and Virginia ham. We finally gave in to the hype and stopped for crabcakes here, at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack, where the crabcakes were every bit worth the small delay on arriving to see the much beloved cousins.
We pressed on for the remainder of the 11 hour drive, and arrived in beautiful Chesapeake just in time for Independence Day and much joyful reunion. The morning of the holiday, we got up early to wish bon voyage to a friend of the family who was headed off to the Middle East for military duty. Mr. Right's sister in law made a sign with her grade schoolers for us to hold which was a big hit while the bus drove away.
We toured an outdoor airplane museum afterward and the kids enjoyed having their photos taken next to all of these crazy planes.
Then we were off to DC where, frankly, it was too hot to take many pictures. But we introduced the kids to the standards (in order: Air & Space, National Museum of the American Indian (where, strange as it sounds, the food court is amazing. Next time we're getting the turtle soup!), the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, National Archives (ugh, longest wait ever), and finally, Arlington National Cemetary. All in 95 degree heat that was NOT a dry heat, and mostly on foot except when we just couldn't manage another step and flagged down a bike carriage and let him do the sweating for us. Fortunately, somebody was wise enough to book a hotel with a pool right in the middle of the city, so we made good use of it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We took a ferry over from Hyannis, a pleasant two hour ride (more on that pleasant factor later for the return trip). Upon arrival, I snapped this shot of the harbor area. Based on the picturesque level we were already hitting, Nantucket was doing pretty good.
From there, we passed a million flower boxes. I guess this town takes them very seriously -- they were everywhere and all of them were gorgeous. We walked 4 blocks from the ferry to our Centre Street Inn, a 13 bedroom house on a quiet side street.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Let's go to photos, which I think is the point of this post, no?
Thursday, April 09, 2009
I have granola envy. Here in New England, they don't talk about hippie lifestyles, they say crunchy, or they say granola. I like these terms as hippie to me has always been synonymous with flaky.
I have scrutinized my copy of Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills to figure out how to dig a well or build a smokehouse with glee but have no immediate intention of doing so. I have two friends, M and G, doing the crunchy cool Western Massachusetts Granola Thing. During our last visit, I sampled their home-made kombucha (a whole other topic I won't get into here), admired their huge garden, and cheered on their plans for launching a meade brewery and craft business. So why can't we do that here in Boston?
I've often spoken to Mr. Right about my desire to raise chickens, bees and even a goat if I'm feeling really ambitious. He is cautiously supportive although quick to point out it's probably better to wait until we've moved to our next house. He is a wise one, Mr. Right.
M pointed recently in the direction of the beekeeper life via the blog The Crunchy Chicken . And from there I pulled this list of skills that are very handy in trying to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as tickle the fancy of apocalyptic planners. My urban crunchy self loves this list! How do you fare on this list of skills?
- Food gardening and food storage (canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermentation, etc.) -- I'm not a great gardener, but I'm learning and getting better each year. The seedlings are going, inspired by CF who is the seedling queen! I usually manage to grow lots of wonderful herbs, flowers, enough zucchini to overwhelm us at least for a month or so before the grubs take over, and a few peppers, tomatoes and cukes. Anything else has never really taken, but this year's a new year! I'd love to become good at arugula, chard, cucumbers, radishes and peas, which all are really pretty easy and so delicious when fresh and organic. My ambitious future goals would be carrots, eggplant, grapes, strawberries, and pumpkins. My mother in law (who reads this blog, hi Mom!) is promising lessons on canning/jams, and through my in-laws we have wonderful access to rhubarb and berries, even blueberries! I've done some limited pickling, and I think it is very fun. So! Doing pretty good here.
- Seed saving and/or fruit tree grafting -- I'm not bad on saving seeds, the hardest part is finding a place to keep them so I don't lose them over the winter. Again my wonderful in-laws are ahead of me here -- they have a variety of beautiful fruit trees. I'll have to ask them about this grafting business.
- Foraging for wild foods, mushrooms, etc. -- I'd love to take a class on this. Fascinating! (Makes me miss my California days where you can really live off of foraging: when I lived in Santa Barbara, foraging was too easy -- you had advocados, figs, oranges and lemons landing in your lap as they fell off the trees in the neighborhood. Paradise!) As for mushrooms, I'm not a huge fan, and the whole poison thing, well, you know, makes one nervous. I know, I know, you learn the difference. But still.
- Composting -- We're doing pretty good on this front as we share a bin with a neighbor. It's amazing how much less frequently you take out the trash when you use a compost bin, plus the trash is less stinky. Cool! Now I actually need to use the compost in the garden, which will be new for me. Nervous about the gross factor in actually spreading out the stuff sitting around from last fall. We shall see!
- Animal husbandry (chickens, goats or larger) -- Definitely nothing larger than a goat, but how cool would it be to get to know some chickens, have eggs, and have a goat friend who is also a lawn-mower/milk-maker. The goat part is pretty unlikely unless we actually move to the country, and I'm nervous about the whole baby goat part. Not so comfortable becoming a butcher even if I like goat meat. So that's a iffy one, but I still like the idea of having one. I can dream, can't I?
- Beekeeping -- Very interested in this, may even be doable in the suburbs. Hmm. Research.
- Animal skinning, processing -- umm, well, not high on the list. Appreciative but squeamish, although I'm intrigued that the writer of The Julie/Julia Project turned to butchery.
- Sheep or other animal shearing -- fascinating but also not high on the list. Love sheepies though.
- Spinning wool -- how cool would that be! But alas I am not a knitter...
- Knitting -- I do like to do things with my hands so I may revisit, but all the exactitude drives me nuts. I drop more stitches than I knit.
- Sewing -- I think this would be fun. Need a sewing machine and then how to use it? Definitely suits my practical nature. And I'm awesome at sewing on buttons, so that's a start, right?
- Cooking, baking -- I think I'm good on this one as I cook and bake a lot. Whew. At least I can really check one off. Thanks Mom and Grandma, Moosewood and Cooks Illustrated!
- Making own cheese and/or yogurt -- I've made yogurt many times. It's so easy and so much milder than the store version which is so very sour. I was perversely proud of the puzzlement generated by asking for a yogurt maker on my wedding registry. Have done some cheese-making which is fun. However unless you have a huge supply of extra milk around, it's not a big priority. Definitely when I get a goat, mmm goat cheese.
- Making beer and/or wine -- Mr. Right has made beer. Cool! Wine making would be fun if I had a ton of grapes. So, not high on the list until the arbor is up!
- Solar cooking -- Might be worth researching when I've really become crunchy.
- Alternative medicine and/or first aid -- I've started to play with herbs and really get into that. Am definitely into the doula/alternative birth options scene, which I've discussed previously on this blog. I have and continue to give a lot of serious thought to midwifery, and I strongly support and can attest to the power of healing touch through massage/accupuncture/reiki and so on. There is a LOT to learn here and I am very excited to do so.
- Making soap (cold process from oils and lye) -- could be fun! I have been experimenting with making my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent, as I'm horrified by the price of the more environmental stuff, and I'm horrified by the nastiness of the cheaper stuff. Tadah, the internet offers a bounty of other options! I'm also absurdly into drying my clothes on the line outside. I love how they smell afterard.
- Making candles -- if I had a bee hive, I'd make candles in the morning, I'd make candles in the evening, all over this town...
- Carpentry -- Mr. Right digs this stuff. Certainly would be handy.
- Plumbing or electrical -- Another handy skill, not high on my list. I rue my girlyness.
- Bike maintenance and repair -- I have some very very very basic skills here, certainly could use more.
- Appliance repair -- I'm a pretty good fiddler with appliances, but motor repair is certainly beyond me. Funny, I never even thought of this as a skill, but of course it is!
I would love to have more of these skills. There is an authentic-ness to these skills and a link to the past that makes me happy when I am berry-picking or pie-making or yogurt-making. Totally energizing for me!
How are you on this list? Does it intrigue you or exhaust you?
Monday, March 02, 2009
Their pastry offerings are artful and expensive. $6 for their signature "nut boxes" which, as promised, are a box made of shortbread filled with nuts in a caramel glaze. Simple and very elegant. So simple and elegant that I have to confess I am not crazy about them. I like some messiness in my pastry, cream squirting out the side or fruit on my nose. I want to be overcome when I bite into something because it fills my mouth and nose with flavor and texture. When something is so pretty and not really, well, bite-able, it turns it into sculpture rather than food. I like sculpture and I like playfulness with food, but if it's supposed to be a cookie, then I want to be able to bite into it. I'm still not sure how you are supposed to eat the nut box. Mr. Right and I mostly just picked the nuts out of the box and ate them, and then ate the sides. It definitely tasted good. And the puddle of caramel at the bottom of the box made up for the non-smooshy no cream factor.
They also have Hamantashen, which is much more biteable as a cookie and I adore them, if only because I love their story. Their name means Haman's Hats, and they are based on the Bible story about Queen Esther, who outsmarted and triumphed over the evil Haman who was out to have her killed. Traditionally they are made with poppy seed or fruit filling, but here they had nutella filling. Awesome! And to make it even more fun, as I was looking up how to spell the name and story about the cookie, I found out about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Latke-Hamantash_Debate which I'll leave you to read and enjoy on your own. And I was very happy with the hamantash I ate.
What is it about baked goods? Proust may have been one of the first to describe the emotional power of the pastry, but they definitely take me back to childhood. Maybe it's the memories of going to the bakeries with my mother when I was little where the lady at the counter would give every kid a cookie.
I'm glad I went in and wow, the place definitely got my blogger's juices flowing in a powerful way. My reaction surprised me a little -- with them it wasn't the product itself but the way they presented it. I loved how they packaged it. I would enjoy taking friends there. So I say hat's off to Tatte for doing something interesting and beautiful.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I don't mind the snow and the cold. And there are some seasonal pleasures, like blood oranges. They are in all the grocery stores right now, and I love their beautiful color and sweet, berry/orange flavor. Eating foods in their season just makes them so much more special, more of a treat.
We're also pondering some questions during this quiet time. Put the house back on the market in the middle of a crazy economic downturn? What about renting it? What about nursing or midwifery studies? And our two old cars that occasionally show signs of giving up, what to do about them?
So, we're taking it slowly, keeping warm and weighing our options.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
One of many reasons I married Mr. Right: in my stocking he includes palm sugar (on right) and organic coconut curry chocolate bar (left). Happy sigh. How did I get so lucky? Oh and please ignore the Christmas morning hair do. Stop looking at it!
Here is Laura's now semi-famous semi-freddo. No, it's not semi-freddo, it's flan. But it was fun to write semi-famous semi-freddo.
Finally, my sister Sue's really gorgeous and equally yummy Buche de Noel (or Yule Log for you non-Frenchies). Happy new year!