Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Before and After

We had my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and brother-in-law's brother over for Thanksgiving today. It is so nice to have a house that is big enough to have people over for the holidays.

This is a picture of the table set before it was was heavily laden with food. We used my Mom's china on my Great-Grandmother's table.

And this is what the kitchen looks like after turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, sweet potato souffle, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie and carrot cake.

We have a lot to be thankful. I hope everyone had a great day with friends and family.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

November 7, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Big Weekend

Once again, we over-booked our weekend, but we had a great time. Saturday morning we drove out to The Plains and did this corn maze. The weather was fantastic and it was great to spend the time outside. We were doing a good job, right up until we got to the last station. We couldn't find it for love or money and just wandered around in the same circle in the big chicken's wing for about 20 minutes until we figured out how to get out. All together, it took us an hour do to the maze.

From there, we went to the home of a high school friend of Jim's, whom he hadn't seen in a long time. We stayed and visited for about an hour and then headed off looking for wineries, since it would have been a shame to be out there and not go to at least one. We found The Winery at La Grange I did the whole tasting (about 16 wines) and Jim stopped after the whites. We bought two bottles, the pinot grigio and the cuvee.

Sunday night, we went to Ford's Theatre and saw a production of Sabrina Fair. I love the theater there. It's a small house and really every seat is good. We were in the third row, to the right and there was only one small bit where we had a bad sight line. The set made fantastic use of the stage, which has a very big thrust (the part that sticks out from the opening). There was no curtain for this show, either, which was interesting in terms of how the play opened and the "curtain" call. I was a little disappointed in the performance of the actor's playing Sabrina, who could have toned it down a bit, and Linus, who could have been more arrogant and aloof. I may have been spoiled by Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, but it was still a perfect lovely evening out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

August Cooks Week 8

Pizza Pot Pie is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of meat and a lot of cheese. Even Jim, who has been known to put away some food, said, “Are you going to use all of that?”

I made very few changes to this recipe. I used 3 lbs of sweet Italian sausage and 1 lb. of hot sausage and I substituted dried herbs instead of fresh. Other than that, I followed it as written.

After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that kitchen shears are the perfect thing for cutting sausage. I browned it in batches, because my skillet is not big enough to hold it all at once.

I always get my pizza dough at Trader Joe’s. They have a plain white, whole wheat and garlic & herb dough and best of all, it’s only 99 cents!

My top shrunk up when it baked, but it didn't overflow. I waited until the very end of the week to make this recipe, but it was worth the wait.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gettysburg, PA

We were invited to attend a birthday celebration for Jim's high school youth pastor today in Westminster, MD. It turns out that Westminster is only about 30 miles from Gettysburg and it would have been a shame to get that close and not see the battlefield.

We have gone to the battlefield in Manassas before and were able to see the park in a couple of hours. I figured that Gettysburg would be the same, but I was mistaken. We could have spent a couple of days there reading all the markers. There is a 24-mile auto tour through the park. We spent three hours and stop for four of the 16 markers. I am glad that we sat down with the map before we started and picked the few sites that we wanted to be sure to see, otherwise we never would have gotten to them.

This is stop five, the Virginia Memorial. The monument to Virginia's soldiers is behind you in this picture and the field is the site of Picket's Charge on July 3rd, 1863.

We also stopped at the last stop, Soldier's National Cemetery, where Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address during the dedication. This monument marks the spot of his address.

The weather today could not have been nicer and we had a great time. Since it's only 2 hours from Washington, we will definitely have to go again for an overnight trip so we can spend more time exploring Gettysburg.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Week Five - Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

I love artichokes, in all their varieties. I like artichoke dip, fried artichokes, artichokes in my salad, marinated ones right from the jar. I even cooked my very own whole artichoke for the first time this year, so I did a little happy dance when I saw this recipe, even though I am totally incompetent at rolling things up in chicken and getting it to stay there.

Nevertheless, I made these last night and they turned out great, even if the stuffing leaked out the ends. My only caveat is that I would not want to make them on a week night again. We don't eat dinner until almost 10:00 p.m. because of J's work schedule, so this was just too much work for that late at night. However, my husband told me they were fantastic about four times during dinner and he ate two of them, so this one goes in the recipe box for sure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

End of Summer

You may not know this about me, but I love roller coasters. A lot. I love them so much that we went to Williamsburg on our honeymoon so that I could ride the coasters at Busch Gardens again.

You also may not know that I am the queen of the getting something for cheap, preferably free. I get reward points on my credit cards, gas points at the grocery, extra care bucks at CVS and my most favorite, Coke Rewards Points. We are single-handedly keeping the Coca-Cola company in business.

Earlier this year, the Coke rewards site had free tickets to Kings Dominion, so I promptly ordered one for me. Since they were one per person, I opened another account for Jim, trying to get a second free ticket. They showed up one more time, but I didn't have enough points, then they vanished from the site. No second free ticket for us.

Since I didn't want to let our one free ticket go to waste, I set out to get a deal on a second ticket. After much web searching, I found a discount code that would get us a ticket for $28.50 - that's half price.

On September 18th, I'll be riding this. I can't wait.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Cooks Week 4

I will confess, this dinner absolutely terrified me and I have no one to blame but myself, because I am the one who posted it. I had grilled cheese and soup in the wings, just in case it was a culinary failure.

It started off great. I got a fantastic deal on the fish at B.J.’s warehouse. I got them for $4.49/pound when the grocery store had them on sale for $6.99/pound.

The stuffing came together beautifully and smelled delicious.

Then, I got ready to stuff them. And I got scared. They didn’t “open flat like a book” which flustered me. Then I tried to cut the tails off and they didn’t want to go and that made me more flustered. And they have bones. And I forgot the lemon juice. I eventually got them stuffed and into the oven.

Poke, poke. Is it done yet?

They actually came out pretty good, but I won’t be doing whole fish again for a very long time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"New" Furniture

Look what I came home with from my trip to Georgia.

This is my grandmother's (great grandmother's? - help me out here, Mom) cherry dining room set. The table seats six and has two leaves that will expand it to hold ten. When I get a chance, I am going to reupholster the chairs to a less 80s fabric.

The sideboard has a crazy amount of storage. As a bonus, I also brought my Mom's good china and silver, which is in there along with my Lenox Christmas china.

It looks so good with the cherry cabinets in the kitchen and I don't care that it is really a tad too big for the room. I love, love, love it and am so happy to have it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August Cooks

A year ago, as I was planning my wedding, I met a wonderful group of women on the internet. We have stayed in contact as we moved from The Knot to the The Nest and this week we started a new project, the August Cooks blog.

Each week on Thursday, one person posts a recipe for the group. Then everyone takes the recipe, changes it to their liking, makes it, photos it, eats it and blogs about it. This week's recipe was a peach creme brulee.

brulee in progress

Why don't you pop over and see how 17 different cooks make the same recipe and sign up to follow our blog if you like it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CSA Update

You may recall that earlier this year, I signed up for a farm share. To be honest, to date I have been pretty disappointed with the veggies. That is, until today. Today's share was ah-maze-ing. We got two baby eggplants, a yellow squash, a zucchini, a cucumber, five white potatoes, a head of garlic and a big handful of basil. I told Jim that we got a basket of eggplant parmesan in our share. I am excited again and can't wait for the tomatoes to start to come in.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Camden Yards

Today I got to cross one more item off of my 101 list. We went to Baltimore to see the Nationals play the Orioles at Camden Yards. We had to drive because the MARC train doesn't run on weekends, but it is actually not a bad drive to get there from our house.

The Nats managed to blow a sizable lead for the second day in a row to lose to the worst team in baseball, but other than that, it was a lovely day at the ballpark. And I got my picture taken with The Oriole Bird.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is what happens when you don't have kids

We have a small media problem. We are working on unloading the boxes that we had stashed in the office-library-man cave, now that we have acquired some more bookcases. This is two IKEA Benno CD towers, two IKEA Billy bookcases with DVDs (the red boxes also contain CDs) and a bookcase full of VHS tapes (72 cassettes on each shelf).

You can't see it, but behind me is another five shelf bookcase full of books.

We might need an intervention.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Garlic, White Cheddar & Wine Sauce

This week I made my menu plan from the Annie's Eats blog. Last night I made the very long titled pasta with roasted garlic, white cheddar and wine sauce. The title completely ignores the fact that there is also chicken and broccoli.

I roasted garlic for the first time to make the sauce and it was so easy and delicious that I don't know why I hadn't done it before now. This dish was quick to make - a must since Jim gets home so late in the evening. Now I am even more excited to try the other recipes I picked for this week.

Here is a link to the recipe on Annie's blog.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Moving Day

Yesterday was officially moving day, although we had been moving boxes in the cars for the last week or two. We hired movers to get the large furniture and it was worth every penny. They were early arriving, fast and very careful with our stuff.

We are trying to get as much done this week as possible because we are going on vacation on Thursday and would like to come home to a mostly finished place. Give me a few days and I'll pictures of some finished rooms to share with you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Color

We are almost done painting (for the time being). Please excuse my poor husband, who has passed out in the middle of the living room floor. This weekend we completely finished the living room and the entryway. The dining room needs a second coat on the top half and then we are adding a chair rail. All that's left to paint before we move in is both bathrooms.

I'll go back after work on Tuesday and paint the second coat in the dining room, take down tape and, hopefully, prime the bathrooms. I have new light fixtures that I also want to install, but that may have to wait until the weekend. In the meantime, we are furiously packing. Jim is moving boxes over each morning. Since we drive by the new place on the way to the Metro, he stops off on his way back home with whatever got packed the night before.

I did ask him before I put this picture up. He assures me that it does not embarrass him and it is the only one I took where you can also see the blue in the kitchen. He does say that he is not "passed out" but listening to the cd player. Whatever.

For those who are curious, the colors are Behr Toffee Crunch (living room accent wall), Freshaire Roof Top Garden (bottom of the dining room) and Gliden Water Chestnut (main wall color).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Let the Painting Begin

This is our kitchen with the first coat paint on it. I started painting on Friday afternoon after we closed. I did the first wall - awesome. I made the turn onto the second wall - not awesome. The kitchen was painted with semi-gloss paint, which I totally understand. However, new paint WILL NOT stick to semi-gloss because of the shine. Crap. After several trips to the Home Depot (because I refuse to sand the shine off), we final came up with a primer that would stick to the old paint and let us put up the new paint - Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3. So, we primed yesterday and painted the first coat today. I'll go back Tuesday and give it the second coat. This is a cell phone picture, so it's not the best, but it will give you an idea until I can get back with the digital camera.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Home Owner!

After several days filled with drama caused by our seller, we closed on the new condo this morning. The seller threatened to back out of the deal repeatedly over the past week (he couldn't, which was explained to him many times by my agent, his agent and the closing attorney) and he was a half an hour late to the closing, but we left with keys.

Keep your eyes on the blog for updates as we do some painting, add chair rails and crown moulding, move in and decorate. I started painting the kitchen today in a blue-grey color by Martha Stewart called Kerry blue terrier.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wedding Weekend

Two of my friends, who have been a couple for a long time, got married this weekend in Asheville, NC. They took over a lovely bed & breakfast, A Hill House, for the weekend and had the wedding Sunday morning in the side garden. It was a small, simple ceremony and it suited them perfectly. It was just family and close friends. There was a lot of good company and conversation, good food and drink, love and laughter.

I am so happy for both of them and honored to have been a part of their special day. Congratulations, Christine and Scott.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Condo Update

Just a quick update. I heard from the loan officers today and the appraisal came back right at the sale price and everything looks good. The seller is supposed to be fixing a few things in the unit (at least I hope he is - there has been some resistance, even though he agreed to fix them in the contract). I am waiting to hear back from the underwriter today on any more information they need. The only thing I know for sure is the gift form from my Mom (thanks, Mom!) and I need to get the home owner's insurance policy set up and get a copy of that to the bank. I think that's it. Everything looks good to close on May 14th.

To tide you over until we get keys and can really go to town, here are the light fixtures that we are going to use to replace the 1980s dressing room style fixtures in the bathrooms.

Master Bath

Hall Bath

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Two Freebie Weekend

We went from having nothing to do this weekend, to having two really cool things to do at no cost.

Saturday night we got free tickets to the National Symphony Orchestra Pops concert at the Kennedy Center. It was a one-night only performance with Michael Cavanaugh playing the music of Billy Joel. Cavanaugh was the star of the musical Moving Out for it's three year run on Broadway. This concert was one of the most fun things that I have seen at the Kennedy Center in a long time. Cavanaugh was a very entertaining and engaging performer.

In addition, this concert was sign interpreted and I have to tell you that the interpreter was almost as fun to watch as it was to watch Cavanaugh play. He signed with such expression that it was almost like dancing. You could "see" the music in the way he signed.

Then, we were given tickets to the Nationals baseball game against the Brewers on Sunday. Unfortunately, the game did not go so well and the Nats were down 10 to 0 in the first (yes, you read that right). However, as the saying goes, a bad day at the ball park is better than a good day anywhere else. We had fun and the Nats made a valiant effort at a come back and pulled to within three. The game ended 11 to 7 and we both got a beer and a little sun on our faces.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Inspection

We had the new condo inspected today. There were a few issues with the place, but that is to be expected since it is a 40 year old building. None of them were major. We should get the report tomorrow and then my realtor will get the list of item to be fixed to the seller.

In the meantime, here is a scale drawing of the new place that I made today while we were there for the inspection.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Condo Update - Condo Two

Don't worry; we are still buying a condo, just not the one that I showed you last week. We were running into some bumps with the first condo, so we backed out and made an offer on an even bigger place in the same general area. This unit is not as polished as the first one, but it is four bedrooms and two baths. Both baths and the kitchen have been redone and it has new carpet. It just needs some paint, a few fixtures and some crown moulding to finish it up. It's still ground floor and has a million closets. We are so excited. I'm having the home inspection on Tuesday and we are scheduled to close on May 14.

foyer into living room, foyer into dining room and kitchen.

The whole listing can be seen here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cherry Blossoms