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cabin May 28th, 2012

   

Howdy-ho. We spent our long weekend in the mountains of VA with 6 of our good friends, Adam & Anna, Keith & Brigid, Mike & Lindsey, (and Bowser and Obi dog) from DC. My grandparents built a cozy little cabin on Hightop Mountain, just east of Shenandoah National Park (and Skyline Drive) — David and Kristy lived there for several years, and my parents will soon live there as soon as they sell their house, which goes on the market VERY soon. We headed out early on Friday afternoon and got to enjoy some time away from the city. Traffic was relatively light getting there, and we found a great little drive-thru ice-cream place (Moo Thru = genius) that seemed to make the trip go by even faster.

   

   

On Saturday morning we drove to Massanutten to go on a 7-mile canoe adventure up the Shenandoah River, which we learned is a tributary of the Potomac and flows northeast. We also learned that the water was unseasonably high right now, which allowed us to cruise along quite nicely for the first half of the journey with minimal paddling. For the second half of our route, the water stilled a bit and required some team paddling work. Matt and I are about as compatible together in a canoe as we are when we drive places together (mostly argueing over who is not navigating correctly), but we managed to get it together enough to get through some wimpy little rapids. It was a scorching hot day, so I jumped out of the canoe for a bit and just floated, cold but refreshing. I even managed to get back into the canoe with little problem. A few 100 yards later, Matt took a dip in the water. Unfortunately when he pulled himself back into the canoe, we tipped ourselves over, filled completely with water, and had to swim to the cow-manure filled shores to dump out the water and right ourselves once again. Thank goodness there weren’t any cows at that particular spot, as there were elsewhere along the river, because those suckers were looking pretty hot and ornery standing around in the sun. It was a great little trip though and probably all the more memorable for the tipping incident. Thankfully, we left our cameras behind and there is no photo evidence of this part of the trip. Had we brought them, they’d have been completely water-logged…

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That afternoon, we headed back to the cabin in time to watch the sun go down, play some bocce in the driveway, and grill up a feast of hamburgers and sausages, bacon-wrapped asparagus, sweet potatoes, and grilled corn, all on our tiny little charcoal grill. It was an amazing feast, our friends know how to cook! We stayed up that night playing Skill Roll (with the added challenge of obstacles) and telephone pictionary, where some infamous sketches were drawn, such as Brittany on the RV, which later turned into a runaway baby.

   

On Sunday morning, a brave few of us (me, Matt, Keith and Brigid) hiked a little ways up the mountain road with Bowser and Obi in tow. The dogs played, wrestled, and ran most of the way up, and quickly tired themselves out on a hot morning. We saw lots of bugs, wildflowers, and trees and I wore David’s redneck orange hunting hat, just one of the many treasures we found at the cabin.

   

   

   

   

   

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Around lunchtime, we ventured 45 minutes south to Charlottesville for eats at Miller’s Restaurant, which is apparently (cool factoid alert) where Dave Matthews used to work. We ate seafood po-boys and had some beers and then wandered around to the shops. It’s such a cute little town and wish we could have spent some more time perusing, so hopefully we can make it back soon. But we had a timed tour reservation to make at Monticello, so we headed onward.

   

   

Monticello was pretty impressive to me. They tour was quick and felt a little rushed, probably since it was crowded for a holiday weekend, but I learned a lot about Jefferson and the most important take-home of the trip was his ingenius dumb-waiter system that allowed wine to be brought up from his cellar to the side of the fireplace. Matt and I need to get on that soon for our house – both the wine cellar and the dumb-waiter system, I love it. I also appreciated learning about the on-going nature of Jefferson’s architectural designs, house-building, book collecting, and education in general. He seems like he was a pretty cool person to have had a glass of wine with by the fire. After the house part of the tour, we wandered around the beautiful flowers, gardens, and his memorial gravesite.

   

   

   

On Sunday night, we stayed up until the wee hours learning and playing Settlers of Catan, which is my new favorite game and, like Lindsey, I want to begin forcing all my other friends to learn it so we can play it all the time. It requires lots of beer, bargaining, luck, and strategy. A great end to the day, and a great end to the trip. Feels nice to get away sometimes.

   


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miscellaneous photos

   


this is a real cool moth we saw on the wall at the cabin

   


this is one of the two bears we saw on the trip… the other one was a little brown cub that was running across Rt 33 a good ways behind our car as we were driving… I’m sure it’s momma bear was not far behind, but we didn’t see her

   

*not pictured: the 3 foot black snake we found chillin’ on the deck at the cabin. i might have tried to take a photo of it if I wasn’t busy running away from it like a big weenie.

   

   


Bowser the intrepid hiker

   


wildflowers

   

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Tags: dogs, flowers, travel, virginia, weekend trips
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visiting CT April 2nd, 2012



   

Ahhh weekends, they go by wayyy too fast. On Friday, I took the Amtrack up to CT to visit Slutsky, along with Denise and JJ. Hard to believe it has been a whole year since her wedding!! Our girls-weekend consisted of 3 winery visits/tastings complete with a picnic, an afternoon painting class (results intentionally not shown), dinner at the Michael Jordan Sportscafe at Mohegan Sun, snuggles with Jolie-dog, and LOTS of catching up. Highlights included: JJ slowly learning how to be a proper train passenger, Denise drinking 36 bottles of water, Slutsky dominating her 12th painting with the best skills of us all, and me narrowly avoiding running over a skunk on Saturday night. Good times! wish we could have stayed longer..

   



   

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TX February 22nd, 2012



obligatory airplane photo

   

This past weekend we flew out to Houston, TX, along with my parents, for Tammy and Evan’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception, including touches like Star Wars music, legos to play with, and a mac-and-cheese buffet. Ahhh-mazing! We were glad to be part of the celebration. Even though it was just a quick, 3-day trip, we packed in a lot of adventures and rediculous amounts of Tex-Mex food. Most of the pics we shot were on black-and-white film on the Pentax, so it’ll be awhile until I can post those, as I’m notoriously slow about sending them in to be developed. Here are some iPhone pic highlights for now :

   


Wandered around a bit in Discovery Park. It was pretty empty on a Friday afternoon, except for some school kids and dog walkers. I enjoyed these colorful cubic buildings.

   

We found what appeared to be some sort of plant-growing/gardening contest going on outside one of the office towers downtown. There was a garden area for each floor of the building, some of which were vibrantly alive, and other which were empty or had funny signs and not much growing. It’s an interesting way to liven up a sidewalk while inciting some friendly building rivalry for the workers. (looks like the engineering department needs help)

   

On our first night there, we had some dinner at the Flying Saucer brewery, and then Matt and I went out for a cocktail at a bar called Hearsay. It was a great, 3-story brick building with this beautiful lighting above. It felt like sitting under the stars. Sorta.

   

Evan and Tammy recommended that we try a little place called Taco’s-a-Go-Go. We took the light rail over there for breakfast and I think now tacos for breakfast might become a habit. After that, we wandered around the Museum district and visited the butterfly exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It was pretty amazing actually, and as my mom pointed out, everyone inside the butterfly exhibit was walking around with a big smile on their faces like it was a magical wonderland. I didn’t manage to take any pics there, just one of the tacos.

   


Yet another pit stop for Mexican food, on another recommendation. There isn’t anywhere we won’t trek for it. Ninfa’s was grand. We ate in an outdoor courtyard and amused ourselves watching a family of about 30 people – probably 4 generations – trying to get seated, order, and then enjoy a Sunday lunch together.

   


This is what Matt created at the wedding reception. You’d never know he was an architecture student…

   

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pens and omlettes and crepes February 6th, 2012



   

On Friday evening, we drove up to Delaware with Val and Ty. Tiki and Bowser rode along, too, of course. Traffic was slowww getting up there, the usual for Friday rush hour, but we made it. On Saturday morning, the guys all went to a pen-turning class and the girls went to a omlette and crepe-making class. I’ve never taken an actual cooking class before (unless you count home-ec back in high school), so I was looking forward to it. The chef was really laid back and gave us all sorts of tips on cooking eggs, omlettes, and crepes. I learned that a French omlette should end up smooth as a baby’s butt when you flip the eggs over onto the fillings. I’ve never really sucessfully made an omlette in the first place — what always starts out on the omlette track generally ends up as scrambled eggs — so now I have some goals for next Saturday breakfast at home!

   

We also learned how to peel ginger with a spoon, how to finely chop cilantro, and that bechamel (basic white sauce) is amazingly delicious, and easy to make. That last part was learned while we were devouring our savory ginger shrimp crepes. YUM. We each took our turns with making basic and then chocolate crepes. It’s all about getting the heat of the pan just right. I took an attempt at flipping mine, but lost half of it on the burner. Bad kitchen skills, but at least it was all over their stove and not mine. Mom was the only one who managed a sucessful crepe flip AND a perfect French omlette. The chef even called his assistant from the back to check it out! We ended the lesson and tasting with chocolate, whipped cream, and strawberry dessert crepes. Soooooo good. I was so busy watching and tasting that I only managed to snap a few blurry camera phone pics, but you can still get the idea. Everyone should take a cooking class at some point, it think it gives you confidence to watch something being made and see that it is possible to make meals that you might not normally attempt otherwise.

   



French omlette!

   

Val getting ready to flip that crepe

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Tags: Delaware, Food, weekend trips
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beach.. BEACH! July 24th, 2011



   

I have been wanting to go to the beach for about the past 5 years now, but I guess for those that know us, we’re just not really big beach bums. We almost always end up vacationing in cities or places where beaches aren’t really beaches as I think of the beach. If that made no sense, well, I guess what I mean is that the black rock beaches we saw in Iceland in cold weather just don’t count. I’m not complaining — we much prefer exploring cities over laying around in the sand, and I wouldn’t have traded our Parisian honeymoon for a Caribbean isle in a million years, but still, a girl’s gotta get to the beach! So Matt agreed to go on a day trip to the beach as my 28th birthday present. YAY!

   

So, on Saturday morning, we drove the 3 hours on Rt. 50 east heading straight into the heart of Ocean City, Maryland. We got some breakfast at a little cafe after we arrived and then had our towels laid out on the sand by around noontime, situated in very close proximity to the 50,000 other people that decided to go to the beach in 115 degree (with heat index) weather. Ahhhh, hot, sandy paradise. I had just dipped my toes in the crashing waves when it began to thunder and lightning. Mind you, it was perfectly sunny and bright over 90% of the sky with a little patch of gray clouds off in the corner… SOoo, we had to clear the beach. I was not in a happy mood, but I guess lightning+water is a bad combo, so we packed up our towels and sunscreen, put it back in the car, and decided to walk along the glorious boardwalk. Salt water taffy made for a good lunch AND a morale booster while we waited out the non-storm. Also – awesome. people. watching.

   

   

   


This picture makes it look like I’m an idiot sitting insanely far away from the water, but like I said we had to clear the beach when it was THIS sunny outside, so here I was waiting for the lifeguards to allow people back on the sand… Also, I had to post this pic because dang! look at my awesome neon toes!

   



   

For lunch part 2, we had Trasher’s French Fries with extra vinegar, like enough vinegar to “blow out the bottom of the fry cup” as Matt puts it. We came pretty close to doing that.

   

Finally the non-storm clouds had left and we were allowed back on the beach. By this time, we had wandered pretty far from the car and had found a nicer stretch of beach with a little more breathing room, so we spread out again and were able to enjoy the roast-in-the-sun, jump-in-the-water-to-cool-off, reapply-sunscreen rotation cycle about 3 times over. It was just what I had been craving, sand in the bathing suit and all!!! So when the dark clouds came back and we once again got kicked off the beach, I was okay with it because I’d gotten my fill. There was one last thing to do before we left, and that was to ride the Tidal Wave roller coaster at Trimper’s and scream like a little kid the whole ride.

   



   
   

That evening, we drove back towards home and stopped for dinner and then an overnight stay at Jill’s place on Kent Island. We got to Hemingway’s, which overlooks the Bay Bridge, just in time to watch the sunset and enjoy the live band on the outdoor patio. It was beautiful! Seriously, look at that view!

   


   

We enjoyed crab cakes and tuna and, of course, had to try Jill’s desserts. We might be a little biased, but that was the best part of the meal. Matt had the bread pudding and I went with the cheesecake. Check out the chocolate “hi lori”!! – gotta love personal chocolate messages from the pastry chef, even if they are all hot and melty. awww.
   



   

So we waited until Jill got off work, passing the time sitting in some adirondack chairs at the end of a long, candlelit pier projecting out into the bay. It was a peaceful end to the evening just watching the hectic traffic lights coming over the span of the bridge but only hearing the lapping of the water around us. ahhhh, what a perfect day it was.

   

Today, we slept in late despite being awoken early several times by a playful Frankie, Jill’s tiny black kitten. We eventually barricaded him outside the bedroom door and enjoyed pulling the covers back over our heads on a lazy Sunday morning. When we finally left Jill’s, we went exploring around Kent Island – we checked out a cute little boutique shop in Stevensville, then drove to have lunch at the Fisherman’s Inn in Grasonville. Afterwards, we went antiqueing. That’s right, we are all hip like that. Matt eventually asked me stop calling it antiqueing, stating that 1) we hadn’t actually bought anything and 2) why couldn’t we just say we were looking for cool old stuff for our house? I don’t really see the difference. Anyways, we did find one really sweet old white chandelier, but unfortunately it had already been sold. There was some long story about how a woman had purchased it and then her son threw it off the porch, breaking some of the lamp bulbs, but she was repairing it and anyways, sorry! it was resold. Oh well. We’ll just have to keep looking. One of the things we did find was this creepy old doll with yellow eyelids. We did not purchase that. But I will be having nightmares about that tonight.

   


   

Our last stop of the day was for eastern shore produce!!! …had to cancel out all that beach food we ate yesterday. We stocked ourselves with plums! nectarines! a cucumber! a zucchini! spicy jalepeno jelly! Mmmm. What a perfect little weekend trip.

   


   

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