Two For One Fooling

Originally Written on April 2nd, 2014. I meant to post it up last year, but forgot.

I am not a big April Fools’ person, most pranks seem mean spirited so I haven’t really participated much in the day, until this year.  A few weeks back we made the flight arrangements for my little sister Firefly to come see us, but instead of telling her the flight details right away I decided to wait until April 1st to send her a fake itinerary.  I originally planned to enter in something about having to ride a burro at one point, but thought I might be laying it on a little thick.  So here is what I sent her.

Dear Firefly,

So we got the arrangements made for your trip out here. =) You mentioned that you didn’t want us to spend too much money on your flight, so I looked into it and I think I found a pretty good deal!

Instead of flying into Our Airport I found it is much cheaper for you to fly into Nashville, and it’s even less expensive if you take a red-eye.  So you would be leaving SoCal at 10:55 pm on the 18th and arriving into Nashville around 4 am the next day.  There is a connection in Tucson at midnight and then one in Houston at 2 am, but you only have a 15 minute and 20 minute layover, so you’ll be back in the air before you know it. Hopefully all of your flights will be on time, at that hour I’m sure there won’t be too many delays (unless there is bad weather).

Now once you get to Nashville you can take a shuttle to the rental car agency and drive here, it is only around a 6 hour drive and you get to see the lovely state of Tennessee on your trip.  It really is gorgeous.  You’ll have to check when the rental car agencies open, it might be normal business hours.  Now I remember from my younger days that most places won’t rent a car to you if you are under 25.  If this is still the case, you can take a cab to the Greyhound station, it looks like it’s only 15 minutes from the airport. There is a bus that leaves at 11:20 am that can get you here by dinner time.  I know that’s a while to wait but you can check out Nashville and you could spot a Country star at breakfast.=)

I promise when you get into town we will take you to whatever your favorite restaurant is, so start thinking of your favorite place and we’ll make reservations.  If you can, try to choose a place near the bus station. That would be great, we don’t want to be driving around in rush hour traffic, you know how the drivers are around here.

Your flight home will be a little less complicated.  Your flight going home is at 6:20 am and then you only have one layover in Tulsa, unfortunately it’s for almost three hours, but then it is a direct shot to LAX.  Do you think Mom or Dad or maybe one of your friends will be willing to pick you up at 4 pm that Tuesday?  If not we’ll get you a ticket on the Greyhound, I think the station is right there at the airport.

Hope you are having an awesome week.  I love you!  We’re so looking forward to your visit.  =)

Love,

Big Sis

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. April Fools’!

 

Apparently my sister believed the whole thing until she saw the April Fools at the end.  Her only indication that it might be fake is that I wouldn’t have checked on the hours of the Rental Agency ahead of time. =) My tell was that I wasn’t my usual thorough self.  Anyway I got her good and because she was fooled, she decided to read the email to my Mom.  Apparently Mom believed it too.  She shot her the famous Death Ray Glare at Firefly and threatened to call me at a “Non-3 Hour Time Difference Appropriate Time”.  Little Sis was able to mutter “April Fools'” before Mom could dial, thankfully.

Next year I think I am going to have to watch my back.

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Strolling in Savannah

Last weekend Honey and I went down to Savannah for the first time. It was lovely, the demeanor of the city is more in line with the slower pace that the South is known for, which I have only glimpsed at occasionally since we moved. The squares are beautiful, the streets and shops are easy to navigate, and even after only ten minute there we felt so relaxed.  Even in traffic and crowded bars people were still polite and even tempered with each other.  It was a nice break from home.

We walked a lot, as we tend to do on vacation, and I began to notice a interesting trend.  Savannah is an older town, lots of cobblestone streets, uneven stairs that shippers probably trekked up in down in the previous centuries, and well the city is designed to be walked around…so it was easy to notice that most women were wearing flats.  Even the most dolled up Southern Belles and ladies that were bar hopping were sans heels.  I think I have found my people =)  I wore flats or sneakers unapologetically to meals and around town.  I think this is the first trip I have had with my husband that has not resulted in a blister.  (I say that with love).

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IMG_2154.jpg After dinner one night we went to a Martini Bar called Jen’s & Friends which has a menu of hundreds of martinis.  I am not usually the type to have sweet Martini’s but I got a Heath Klondike Bar Martini (two of my favorite things), it even had a good sized piece of Koldike Bar as a garnish and it was pretty damn delicious. Their regular mixed drinks were also very good (that is what Honey had).  And despite the Party Buses arriving and a really small space, everyone was so nice to one another.  I should also mention Savannah has the whole “Go Cup” thing in parts of the city.  When you order a drink they ask if it is for here or out, you can pretty much walk around town with a open beverage as long as it is in a 16 oz plastic cup.  The next afternoon I became a little jealous of a man carrying a Bloody Mary around (why didn’t I think of that?).  I did not partake in the Go Cups, but I might some day.

Honey prepared for the trip by reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil the week before we left.  I was busy with a dinner party we were throwing for neighbors the night before our trip, so I have still yet to crack into it-but I did see the movie.

And yes of course we did walk by Mercer (Williams) House.IMG_2184.jpgOddly enough there was a Camaro parked outside (detail from the book that Honey pointed out).  We wondered if one of the staff or the owner intentionally keep one outside.  We didn’t see a “Camaro Parking Only” sign and when I looked up if there often was a Camaro out front, I couldn’t find anything.  It was just one of those things.

So Honey and I, after walking and window shopping for the last three hours, sat on a bench in Monterey Square, which is the square Mercer House looks on to.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  The sun was out, I think it was in the 60s, and there was a cold breeze to make you remember that it was December-but only as a passing thought.  After a few minutes our attention was drawn up.  There was squirrel performing various acrobatics in the oaks and palms above us.  Then the little cheeky guy started talking and chirping at us and did not stop, that is until I pulled out my camera to record it.  Then he stopped, so I stopped recording; so he started talking again.  Apparently whatever he was telling us, he did not want to go on the record as saying. My personal theory was the squirrel had the spirit Danny Hansford and he was complaining about the direction Chevy had gone with the Camaro body style.  Just a theory.

We made out way down to Forsyth Park after a stop in a local shop we went down to the fountain where a couple was getting engaged.

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I didn’t take a picture while it was happening, this is actually three minutes later when apparently their friend popped out from behind a tree to reveal she was taking pictures the whole time.  Thank goodness the future bride said yes!  We hung around the fountain for a few more minutes, soaking up the sun and the very quiet Sunday afternoon.  Another couple came up to the fountain, she was in a wedding dress and their Reverend was with them.  There was a whole lotta love at that fountain.  I don’t know if they were just there for photos or if the ceremony was about to begin so we gave them their privacy and went on to walk down one of the most beautiful streets in America.

IMG_2173.jpgOur trip down there was wonderful, almost over too quickly but I was beginning to miss the kitties at home so it’s good we only stayed for a couple of nights.  I can’t wait to explore more of this lovely city in socially accepted, comfortable shoes.

First Full Table

It’s been a while, but I must say in my absence I have been having a lot of fun.  There’s a lot to catch up on so since we have just finished up a holiday weekend, I’ll start there.

The last couple of years we have had Poppy and Monte over for holidays.  We love hosting with friends and letting them in on a few family traditions as Honey & I make our new ones with them.  So this year Monte and Poppy brought over an extra guest, we didn’t mind she was nice and really didn’t eat too much of the food.  Of course I am referring to their six month old daughter, who technically was at last years tThanksgiving as well but this time we got to feed her turkey.  She was a delight, super cute, and the rest of guests adored her.  We also had a friend I knew from the farm Mordecai* and her fiancé Whistle. She moved here from the West Coast and it was her first holiday season in town.  Remembering how awkward holidays can be in a new town I was sure to invite her over as soon as Halloween had passed.  Apparently we spared both of them some major family drama.

Our Thanksgiving table was expanding for the first time and I was thrilled.  But it didn’t end there, two more friends joined in as well.  My eight person table that I got with the thought that someday it be would full, even though at the time we didn’t know anybody, finally reached capacity last Thursday.  It was a moment for both Honey and I, seeing the smiling faces around the table and knowing that we have a little Family of Friends here.  I should also point out that this is the first time everyone had met one another and everyone got along wonderfully. Even though everyone was different ages, martial statuses, and even different countries.  I joked we had a little United Nations Thanksgiving going.  Honey suggested I knit placemat flags of the countries for each of our guests.  I told him my skills were not developed enough for the ridges of the Canadian Maple leaf.  At least this year. 😉

Honey made the turkey, the deviled eggs, the gorgous sourdoughs pictured below, and for the first time I let him make cornbread stuffing from scratch.  I must admit that is was pretty yummy, it’s been one of my  holdouts of childhood nostalgia to have Stove Top.  The other one holdout I used to have was Log Cabin syrup over real Maple Syrup, but I shrugged that one off a few years ago.

I made scalloped potatoes, pumpkin pie and for the first time a pecan pie.  I also made cranberry sauce for the first time, which was ridiculously easy and got a few people out of their childhood traditions of using the fabulously canned cranberry sauce that still had the shape of said can when put onto the table.  I added some orange and allspice, it was great.

We also cracked open our latest brew, an ale that we call Sandy Claws Christmas Ale.  We brewed it in October, so it seemed appropriate.

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I didn’t get many pictures during the evening, which to me is always a good sign that I was having fun and being there in the moment.  But sometimes I wish I would remember to at least take one or two.

After dinner we all stayed around the table and talked, which shocked me because I figured with the table being as full as it was we would scatter ourselves out into the kitchen and tv room.  But everyone sat around talking and laughing, so why stop it? At one point Whistle shared with us that he plays the Penny Whistle and if we’d like he would play us some songs.  He played three Irish ones that were so beautiful.  It was the first time that we had live music in the house and I couldn’t have asked for a better after dinner entertainer.  It was lovely, he’s welcome to all of our dinner parties from now on.  Haha.

The next day Honey went to work, I attempted to see the counters of our kitchen again (even with a dishwasher it was platters galore).  I was good and also went for a walk to work of that cornbread stuffing.  When Honey got home  we did a little patio time which included a bourbon and a cigar (for me).  We stayed in to avoid any Black Friday madness that might be going on and relaxed at home.  The weather was perfect and we stayed outside until the sun went down.

On Saturday we went to one of the Pop-up shops for Small Business Saturday near a brewery and got some local art and saw some friends. And since we were at a brewery had a glass or two of some seasonal beers along with some very yummy Food Truck dishes.

Then Yesterday I began taking down the Fall decorations and putting up the Christmas ones.  I have strict rules about that, no Christmas lights out when there is Turkey on the table in our house. =)

It was an amazing weekend full of some of the wonderful people we know.  I was thankful for the company, the incredible food we had, and the friendships developing.  Everyone told me they had a great time, so here’s hoping that we just started a new Thanksgiving tradition.

 

 

 

*all italicized names are the first time I am using their nicknames

The Time I Accidentally Walked into a Preppy Holiday

My body has been having a bit of a hissy fit with me lately.  Sometime last week my right knee started aching, a sustained dull ache that has now morphed into a feeling of broken glass.  I don’t know what I did to it.  It could have been the walks or the fact that it rained all of last week. It could been when I was rolling around on the garage floor the week before, painting the guest bedroom bookcase.  Whatever I did, I have royally pissed off my knee.  I am trying my best to make it happy and it seems to be most happy when I am sitting at my desk- so I thought I should use the time wisely and actually blog.

Sunday morning I woke up to my cat Bailey “gently” tapping at my head and eyeballs, like he does most mornings when I dare sleep past 7 am.  Sometimes I can tuck and roll and avoid him for another half hour and other times I relent and get up to feed him and Hitch.  That day I relented and decided to use the extra time to run some morning errands before everyone else in town woke up.  I needed to get some vitamins for my knee and some breakfast stuff anyway.  It was before 8:45 and it was ridiculously quiet, even the church crowd had not begun to trickle into the streets.  I was headed to Target for what I suspected would be a quick trip, but when I pulled into the parking lot I found all of the cars that had been missing in the streets.  The parking lot was full! I racked my brain for why there would be so many people, it wasn’t a holiday that I knew of.  There was a large church across the street so momentarily I thought maybe people park over at Target for the early service to miss the chaos that is the church parking lot, but I saw people coming out of Target. Huh?

The car I parked next to had it’s lights on, but didn’t seem to have a passenger.  When I got out to look at the license plate to report it in the store, I saw that a teenage boy was sitting in the backseat with his feet up clicking away on his Smartphone.  I preceded inside and saw a few women coming out with bags of Spring colored pillows, once again I thought holiday I was not aware of where entertaining is involved?   I saw a ton of women inside, mostly mothers with teenage daughters.  The line for the Starbuck’s that’s inside Target was over a dozen deep, something I had never seen there.  It led me to wonder if maybe there was some sort of Mother/Daughter thing going on for one of the schools.  A cashier at a grocery store last week had mentioned it was Prom at his high school that weekend.  Maybe it was some kind of Post-Prom ritual that exist down here to keep the kids in line.

I went to collect my shopping list items and every so often I would see a group of females chatting (some with raised voices) and waiting to talk to employee after employee  I heard bits of conversations about emails and online this or that, and that they couldn’t find something.   Maybe it was a Flash Sale?

Since none of things I usually get there seemed to be on this sale I picked up my vitamins and breakfast stuff and waited in line to be checked out.  I noticed the carts around me were full to the brim of some very (ugly) bright colors and patterns on clothes, purses, and pillows.

The couple in front of me seemed to be on the same early morning quest I was on.  They too had a small basket and not one pastel colored item was in it.

“Do you know what’s going on?” I asked them.

The cashier said, rather exhaustedly, “The Lilly Pulitzer line was released this morning.”
As apparently I was supposed to know what this meant I looked back to couple in front of me and said, “I’m sorry, who?”  They both burst out laughing.  The husband said he didn’t know, the wife had heard of her before but didn’t know why it was happening here.  They had the same theory about the church parking lot overflow and like me expected to have the store pretty much to themselves.  We all talked about the hilarity of us all accidentally walking into a mob on what was apparently some sort of historic shopping experience with no idea it was even happening.  I guess a good comparison would be going to see a movie on the day a Star Wars or a Harry Potter movie comes out, with gaggles of people in costume camped out and you go to the box office and ask for a ticket to see “Ghost Dog.”

With this new knowledge I looked around at the other shoppers and now I could see the frenzy in their eyes and satisfaction from their finds in their carts.  I saw a few things wrung up and I will be quite honest, it was not my cup of tea.  Loud, ugly patterns that made the shoppers coo over each other’s purchases with a fake enthusiasm of jealousy.  It was kinda sick.

As I was being checked out a women pushed her overstuffed cart of 60s-LSD-trip-hullitations-from-your-mother’s-house styled items into my side and kept going like she had just hit an orange cone in a driving simulator.  I didn’t yell, but I’m sure I made a noise because it caused me to shift all of weight to my jacked up knee and every time I have had to do that it has not been a silent action. It was her daughter, who couldn’t have been more than 15, that apologized to me and asked if I was okay as her mother hauled her items onto the next conveyer belt.  The daughter told the mother she had hit me, the mother yelled back an aloof apology that made me want to blurt our that it was I who was so sorry to have interrupt her path to a consumeristic orgasm with my mere existence-but I didn’t 🙂 Instead I collected my bags and maneuvered around all of the other carts and made it outside, only to find more women hoisting their purchases out of their bags to show their friends and neighbors that they had (coincidentally) run into, thus blocking another escape (I mean exit).

I got home and filled Honey in on my adventures in English Muffin procurement and looked up this Lilly Pulitzer, who I found out is known as “The Queen of Prep”.  It explained a few things, but I still don’t get the obsession.  Then throughout the day I saw the reports of the chaos that had ensued at the store and the website over the release and making fun of the people that bought the items (which I know I totally just did too).  And while I tease I feel that I must add this… All of us get excited over something or someone, and that’s okay.  We’re all a little different in what will make us wake up early on a Sunday morning to enjoy.  But I think we need to remember in our excitement that it is just stuff when comes down to it, and that we should not get so taken away in the frenzy that we forget ourselves.

In a few months when the items that Mother I mentioned bought are pushed to the backside of the closet or the pillows get stained, they will be gone and replaced.  But I have feeling the impression of the fashion trends of Spring 2015 will fade much faster in the daughter’s mind than the memory of her mother hitting someone and not caring.  It may be subconscious but more than likely it will be there. Like I mentioned there were a lot of mothers and teen daughters there and I’ll bet all of the daughters were noticing how their mother’s were acting in the situation.  So take from that what you will. 😉

Christmas Recap

I hope you all a happy Christmas Day, whether you celebrate it or not.

We had a lovely and quiet day, I was am thankful for the whole experience.  A couple we are friends with (haven’t come up a cute code name for them yet) joined us for dinner and we got to enjoy the holiday in our new home.  We had bought a local turkey around Thanksgiving but decided to freeze it for Christmas.  The wait was worth it.

is it me or did it look extremely relaxed in fridge?

is it me or did it look very relaxed in the fridge?

In the morning John and woke and exchanged gifts, Hitch played with the wrapping paper for a little while, and we listened to music and hung out around the house until our friends came over.  John had brined the turkey overnight and since it was a smaller bird (under 10 lbs) it didn’t take all of our attention and the whole day to cook.

cooked turkey 2013

The turkey was amazing, the best I have ever had.  It was juicy and flavorful, it took a lot of self control not to just have that on my plate.  Tonight we are having leftovers with some sautéed kale and I can hardly wait.  We also plan to use the bones for stock and maybe use that for some risotto later in the week.  Man, I am making myself hungry again.

We are still under the one year mark for living here, so this was our first Christmas out here. I worried that like with Thanksgiving (which is post I never published) that it might be melancholy; but maybe because we had more control and it was our plans for the holiday I didn’t feel like that at all.  We had a great time with our friends and there was lots of laughing and great food.  I spoke to my sister a few times (my parents too) and I got lots of e-card love from my aunts out West.  We even got to show our friends the first half of A Christmas Story for the first time and they loved it!  Maybe like with marriage, the first year of living somewhere can be the most difficult to find your own groove in.  Traditions and habits haven’t been cemented into our minds yet so it feels like a free for all, but maybe if we just go with the things that make happy and most comfortable we might just find your groove.

Santa’s Cookies

Christmas is upon us so a few nights ago I decided to do a test run for “Santa’s Cookies”.

I made my Chocolate Chip Cookies and though the recipe as listed is still wonderful, we accidentally stumbled on a few improvements.

We were out of our usual so instead of using the Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Chocolate we used… Ghiradelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate.  John had them for another cookie recipe (that I will share with you as soon as I find it) and was nice enough to share. I got the bag at Target (eek, bring cash), so they are probably available in most baking sections. It was around $1 more than Tollhouse per bag I think you should indulge with it at least once, it is the holidays after all.   You can also use less than 2/3 of the bag in my opinion, but that’s up to you.

Chocolate Chips

Hey, it’s even All Natural 😉

I also discovered hand stirring the batter made for much better cookies too.   I have been lazy and using my Kitchen Aid for years to make these.

So Here It is…

The Way-Too-Good-For-it’s-Own-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Original Recipe from Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

WARNING: Serving these to Santa might result in more than just an annual visit.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1  1/8 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt (table salt is better for this)

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (I use Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Ghiradelli’s) also note I put more chocolate chips in there than the recipe says to, they said only half (what fools) =)

Supplies:

MIXING BOWLl (I use a Kitchen Aid Bowl)

cookie sheet

spatula

big spoon

a SMALL MIXING BOWL

1. In a small pan, melt the butter.  When it’s hot add both sugars, stir and then let it cool down a bit.

2.While the butter mixture is cooling, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into the MIXING BOWL.

3.In the SMALL MIXING BOWL, beat the egg lightly with a fork (I beat it just short of scrambled egg color-if that makes sense), then add the egg and vanilla to butter mixture. Stir.

4. Now add the butter, egg, and vanilla mixture to the MIXING BOWL.  Stir again, and then add chocolate chips.  If you are using a electric mixer only stir in the chocolate chips for a few seconds, enough so it is mixed but not enough to beat the chocolate chips to death.  Use some elbow grease.

5. Now the hard part: put the bowl in the fridge to cool for about an hour.

6. Ten minutes before you take the mixing bowl out pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Don’t grease the cookie sheet.  Roll the dough into walnut size balls, put them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.

Enjoy Everyone!

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The 12 Stitch Program

It was my goal to knit a scarf for every East Coast family member by Christmas this year.  I am proud to say I achieved this goal and then some…

2013 Scarves

You might not be able to tell but there are 16 scarves there, several more were not pictured.  Two were in the mail, one in production, and three others had not been made when I took this picture on December 3rd.

As I knitted my way down the list of people out here (12+1/2) my quality improved and I became much faster.  I found myself getting towards the end of my list with practically all of December free and that just didn’t seem right.  So I added my parents and my sister, then a few friends, then my mother-in-law, then John asked for another, and I wanted another…so yeah, two dozen scarves later and I am wondering if I can fit in a few more before the last ship date before Christmas.  This is bad right?

I mean it’s not like I have a drawer just dedicated to holding yarn that I haven’t used yet…

Yarn

Damnit!

Is there a 12 Stitch…I mean Step Program for this? They weren’t kidding when they said it was addictive, but thankfully for my hands and sanity were are  near the deadline and I can start giving more time to my other hobbies.  It has been fun, but let’s just say I’m not planning on making matching hats for everyone next year 😉