Sunday, February 12, 2012
This past year for David's birthday, I had a huge surprise for him. He was still commuting to Connecticut during the week, and I managed to convince him to stay up there for one of the weekends (normally, either he would come home or I would go up there). As soon as he left the Sunday night of the weekend before he was staying up there, I immediately went into our mess of a garage and moved everything into the basement. During the week, our friend Thomas came and patched up the ceiling where the plumbers had taken down the sheet rock to re-plumb the house. He patched that up, and I washed down walls and swept the floor area.
That weekend, I had a painting party at the house with some of our good friends. We painted the garage walls and ceiling white, and I painted the back wall of the little nook red (D's favorite color). I had gotten him a nice Husky tool chest...his parents and I got wheels for his car, and his mom got him a carbon fiber bumper. So, once the garage had been cleaned out and painted, I set all of those things out for him.
The following weekend, I managed to keep him out of the garage by telling him I was working on a craft in there that was too big to bring inside, and he couldn't peek (at the last minute, I remembered to tape up the garage door windows!). We had a nice birthday dinner out with friends, and everyone came back to the house for cake & ice cream. Then, everyone crowded in the garage and I let him loose. He was so surprised! He loved his new toys and was so excited and thankful for the paint job (we had been planning on doing it for a while, but were both dreading having to get it done).
The next day, we painted the garage floor. We had to scrub the floor super clean, fill in any cracks, and then roll paint on the floor in sections. We then threw down paint chips in the sections. It is awesome.
My only complaint about it is that because the concrete is sealed, when we park wet cars in there, the floor puddles up (doesn't just soak into the concrete). So in some spots where the floor is uneven (where the tires from our cars have worn down the floor), there are puddles for a couple of days. Of course, the painted floor has certainly come in handy. When we had to repair David's car recently, any oil and coolant spills that landed on the floor were very easily wiped up.
After the paint had cured for about a week, we moved everything back into the garage. We anchored shelving units to the walls, bought plastic tubs for storing various things (painting supplies, baking supplies, canning stuff, beer brewing stuff), hung hooks for our bikes and lawn chairs, and hung up a tool storage thing that our friends JJ and Wayne got for us. And, of course, moved David's drafting table and tool chest into place in the nook. Next on our list: painting and hanging up cabinets in the nook that we got for super cheap at the Habitat Re-Store. And maybe trying to keep tools organized!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Apparently, they take their syrup very seriously in Vermont! Important side note - David and I tend to get pretty goofy when we are on the road. One of my favorite movies is 'White Christmas.' So we spent the whole trip to and from Vermont either quoting the fabulous line "Vermont must be beautiful this time of year....all that snow!" or singing 'Snow' together - horribly off key and obnoxiously loud. Good times. We got to Montpelier (or, to be more precise, Barre) at about 3:00am, and made our way to the Yellow Farmhouse Inn. It was a beautiful Bed & Breakfast, owned by a very sweet couple, Sandra and Mike, who were originally from Boston.
Our first stop was the Ben & Jerry's factory, just outside of town. We love Ben & Jerry's - not just because they make delicious ice cream, but because they are so eco-friendly (they use local cows for their milk) and have a great sense of humor in addition to being super laid back. They have an ice cream 'Cemetery' for all of their retired or failed ice cream flavors.
After the factory tour (which included a free sample of ice cream, gift shop, and huge ice cream shop), we headed to the Morse Farm Sugarhouse. They didn't have much by way of an official tour, but we walked around and saw the lines from the Maple trees (draining the sap and transporting it from the trees to the sugar house), and then we were educated on the process of making syrup. Apparently it takes quite a bit of sap to make even a small amount of syrup! The sap has a high water percentage (about 98%), and so it has to be boiled off for several hours to evaporate the water. In the gift shop, the Sugarhouse had a row of syrup bottles which are sold commercially, and are not 'true' maple syrup. We had no idea! Mrs. Buttersworth, Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, Eggo are all 'fake' syrups (they are only 'maple-flavored'). So we were sure to bring a big jug of syrup back with us - and it is DELICIOUS.
Part of my excitement at visiting the Sugarhouse stemmed from my love (okay, obsession) with "Little House in the Big Woods." In Laura Ingalls Wilder's first novel, she describes not only the sugaring season, but also the treat that followed - sugar on snow. I have always wanted to try this (when it snowed last year, I attempted to make it, however it was a flop. I later discovered that since we didn't have pure maple syrup, it just didn't work out). Not only did Morse Farm have sugar on snow, they also had homemade doughnuts and coffee. The sugar on snow was fabulous. As soon as the hot syrup hit the snow, it carmelized. YUM! We also shared a cone of 'maple cream' (ice cream). We had such a great time in Vermont - not only was it fun to explore the different areas, but the scenery was beautiful. Mountains and hills covered in snow.
After our Vermont morning/afternoon, we drove through White Mountain Park in New Hampshire. Again, more beautiful views. We kept seeing signs for Moose, but unfortunately didn't see a single one.
They did have a pretty cool display about the local beavers:
Not long after our drive through the top of New Hampshire, we arrived in Portland, Maine (this was Saturday evening, at this point). Per our friend, Rachel's suggestion, we had dinner at 'J's Oyster.' Since we were in Maine, we had to try the lobster. Neither of us were big lobster fans before having eaten it, and afterwards (although it was delicious), realized it was a little too much work for not much payoff. The oysters were quite good as well.
Our final stop on the trip was Boston. We got in at about 10:00 that night, and checked into our hotel. The hotel shuttle was nice enough to take us to Faneuil Hall, where, at my dad's suggestion, we visited the Black Rose Pub and walked around. We were both so tired at that point though, we did little more than have a drink at the pub and head back to the hotel. The following day, we had until about 2:00pm to run aroud Boston before we had to head back to White Plains to catch my flight.
We had breakfast back at Faneuil Hall, at the Black Rose Pub. I had myself a full Irish breakfast, which was most excellent. I did avoid the white and black puddings, though!
After breakfast, we followed the Freedom Trail through the city to visit the historic sites. The trail was marked off by a red line.
And the site of the country's oldest public school, established by Benjamin Franklin:
Unfortunately, we didn't get to complete the trail, but on our way back to the car, we stopped at Regina's Pizza at Faneuil Hall - highly recommended by my dad. It was hard to say which was better - Ray's pizza that we had in New York, or Regina's. Amazing!
On our way out of town, we stopped in the Russian District, and had some great Russian food at Cafe Stoli - potato latky, and Vareniki.
After our Russian experience, we drove back to White Plains so that I could fly home. It was an exhausting weekend, but we had so much fun in the four states we visited! We would love to go back for another visit someday - hopefully for much longer next time!
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Thursday, April 1, 2010
2.) this is supposed to be more or less dry, at most a trickle. notice the trees growing out of the water? ya, they're actually not supposed to be in the water at all.
3.) one of the many sources of groundwater moving (and i use the term lightly...) directly across our property
4.) and here you see the water moving across our driveway. this is after a relatively light rain. it's a few feet wide when it pours, which it has been doing a lot lately.5.) as you can see...
to be continued...(cue tense music)
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
My final painting:
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
We cooked some homemade pizza last night and watched TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze (brought back so many memories!). Here's the recipe we used (although we mostly just winged it!). I'm still looking for a good pizza crust recipe, so I just got a store-bought crust for last night. You can use any toppings you'd like, here's what ours consisted of:
1 can Pillsbury Pizza Dough (Thick Crust style, found near the biscuits)
Olive Oil (3-4 Tbsp)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese (as much as you like, we used about 1-2ish cups)
2 Vine Tomatoes
Half a cup of mushrooms, sliced (more or less, depending on your preference)
1 Avocado, sliced
3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
Preheat oven to 425*. Pop open can of dough, and unroll -- it should be in a rectangular shape. If it keeps shrinking, let it set to room temperature -- that should reduce shrinkage. Spread Olive Oil from the center, all the way to the edges (it'll make the crust crisp). Scatter cheese (NOT to the edges). Slice tomatoes to desired thickness (ours were pretty thick) and arrange on pizza. Sprinkle with mushrooms, avocado and basil. Bake 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. You may need to eat this with a fork and a knife, depending on how heavy your toppings are!