Thursday, August 30, 2007

a little r and r

We're home. We had a fantastic and gloriously relaxing time on our little jaunt. First, we saw C
(and A, M, and D) in Asheville, where we got a chance to sample some of D's fine brewmaking capabilities at the French Broad Brewery. We bought a growler of the Watershed Boch to enjoy once we got to Tennessee. Every drop was delicious. I highly recommend a trip to French Broad if you're ever passing through Asheville. After a delicious breakfast at Sunny Point on Sunday, we hit the road again.

We got to Gatlinburg around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and then wound our way up a seriously sketchy road to our cabin. While I was inside whirling up some dinner for all of us, M and S saw a bear cub nosing through the neighbor's trash. They startled it, and it ran away before we got any pics. Bummer...and we had no more encounters with bears during the trip, which is not a bummer.

After S's morning nap on Monday, we headed into the park. We did the little walk up to Laurel Falls and also a little paved Nature Trail that was nearby and ran along a really pretty stream (a stream that prompted M to seriously and giddily utter the following statement: "I hear the sounds of fluvial geomorphology"). S got a ride in a baby backpack for the "hike" up to Laurel Falls, but she cruised in the stroller for the Nature Trail. She really liked the backpack, but she'd had enough of being strapped in by the end of the second excursion. We headed back to the cabin for her afternoon nap, and then went "into town" after that. Not much to see in Gatlinburg if you're not into pancakes, "old time" photos, or mini golf. We just walked around and got a peach smoothie.

Tuesday morning, we headed up to Clingman's Dome, but it started raining as soon as we made it to the parking lot, which was about a 35 minute drive into the park. I wasn't about to lug my baby to the very highest point in the state in a storm, so we didn't go to the observation tower. By the time we got back down to the Newfound Gap parking lot, though, it had cleared up a bit, so we got out of the car and had a little look around and a picnic. S fell asleep, so we drove around for awhile...on something called a Motor Nature Trail. M and I both felt like total idiots...roughing it from the comfort of our air-conditioned vehicle. Then again, the baby was napping peacefully, so we didn't really mind.

She awoke from her nap just as we finished our car hike, so we went to the aquarium, which was pretty cool. A huge chunk of it is "underwater," so you feel like the sharks are swimming around over your head. The "Shark Lagoon" pretty much made the trip to the aquarium worth the forty bucks we spent on the tickets. We went into Pigeon Forge (crappiest place ever) for dinner because neither of us had ever been there...and it is the home of Dollywood, you know. Also, it was the "big day,"so I excused myself from cooking dinner. I turned 28 on the 28th this year. We went to the Smoky Mountain Brewery for dinner, and it was a substantial disappointment.

Anyway...Wednesday we headed into the park again. We did the Gatlinburg Trail, which was a four mile walk through the woods. It was flat and easy, and S really liked watching the trees fluttering in the breeze and hearing the river that wound around us the whole time. It was a nice, relaxing way to wrap up the trip. We spent the rest of the day pretty much holed up in the cabin, playing with S.

Today, we went through Knoxville on the way home to see my brother. Today was his birthday, so we took him to lunch. Plus, we got to see his new digs, which were impressively clean considering three 22-year-old boys live there.

Now we're home and we've already wrested one dead bird from Otis. It's so nice to be back. Later, folks. Lots of pics on Flickr

Oh, I almost forgot to mention...the grocery store in Gatlinburg had the coolest thing. It was a "Pick-A-Six-Pack." They had empty cardboard six-pack holders and a pretty impressive array of single beers. You could pick whatever you wanted and a six pack was only nine bucks. It was like shopping for Christmas presents. We both chose a few of our favorites, but we also each tried new things. M tried a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, a Shiner Hefeweizen, a Pyramid Apricot Ale, and a Highland Gaelic Ale. (He also had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Red Stripe). I tried, in addition to the Shiner Bock I was incapable of resisting, a Sam Adams Black Lager, a Pete's Wicked Ale, a Redhook Late Autumn Harvest, a Stella Artois (which was double nasty gross), and a Sierra Nevada Porter (which I still don't like, but wanted to try again anyway). It was a great beer vacation. Great, great beer.

Friday, August 24, 2007

double up, a-men

My brain has been overloaded with random thoughts the past two days. It probably has something to do with M being out of town, meaning that I have nothing to distract me from pondering society in all its glory- or lack thereof. So, here's a little breakdown of everything I've been exposed to:

1. Thanks to the Morton Mama Monkey, I've been able to witness this glorious display of creativity. I am pretty sure I just stared at the screen with my mouth open the entire time it played...and for quite awhile after it was finished.

2. Michael Vick. What an idiot. The guy was a darling. Absolute gold- on and off the football field. Then came the dogfighting accusations. It's completely despicable. Completely. I have no idea what he's done, but seriously, did he think he was so invincible that he'd never get caught? What is it with people thinking that their seemingly bottomless bank accounts will continually save their necks? Whatever happened to being held responsible? In reality, I don't think it's just the super rich that think they are above the law or common decency. The collective narcissism of our society makes me gag. Gag, people. Which brings me to:

3. Nicole Richie/Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan. Seriously? Why are they still all over the news and the internet and every magazine known to man? At least Lindsay Lohan at some point had a reason to be famous. Mean Girls was a quality flick, which is mostly due to the genius of Tina Fey. Either way, I am so sick of these girls. I am especially sick of the fact that they keep being sent to jail and then released early. It's a bad joke. Real punishment for them would be to ban the media from talking about them for a specified period of time (like maybe forever). You think they could enforce something like that?? I can't even talk about it because, once again, it makes me gag.

4. The one thing that did restore a little of my faith in humanity when it comes to ridiculously rich and famous people was Gwen Stefani opting to cover up for her recent concert in Malaysia. It's nice that she wasn't a brat, insisting that she had every right to be as naked as she chose to be. Instead, she just respected the beliefs and customs of her fans. It was nice.

5. Lastly, I keep thinking, "why is any of this crap interesting?" Because it's really not. It's pretty mind numbing. Maybe it's just easier for society to have their brains operate on auto pilot than to actually think and care, which brings me to a story that I read in Newsweek a few weeks ago. Ever heard of Norman Borlaug? I didn't think so. Look him up. It's pretty impressive. Just a little background: the guy has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. I won a hula hoop contest in second grade, and that's about all. He's a pretty amazing dude...and no one knows who he is. Gagging. Again.

Anyway, I've got to pack. We're heading out for a little trip, so I'll be out of commission until at least next Thursday. Have a great weekend, my peeps.

Sight: S's second tooth, which is just barely there
Sound: California by Phantom Planet. I love this stupid song. Also, the sound of S peeing in the living room floor the other night. Hysterical (in a really gross way).
Smell: Ripe peaches. Basil in the garden.
Touch: S kisses.
Taste: Ice cream.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

wanna be startin' something

You know, 20 years ago, Michael Jackson was awesome. I used to want to marry him. I am more than slightly thankful that my dear, sweet husband came along and rescued me from that dream. Anyway, dear, sweet hubby is out of town, which has left me free to shamelessly sit on the couch and watch VH1. 100 Greatest Teen Stars is on. I've seen part of it before. I was just so impressed by the description of Donny Osmond that I had to peel myself off the sofa and blog about it. They referred to Donny Osmond as "the Mormon Michael Jackson." That's so good. Of course, I also had a crush on Donny Osmond when Sacred Emotion was released in the 80s.

I'm going to sign off before I embarrass myself any further. Have a great night...I'm going to see how much more Debbie Gibson I can watch.

how dull...

...S and I have been pretty dull lately. It's been too hot to do much, so we've been holed up in the house a lot. Granted, M and I were both sick for awhile, which contributed to our hermit-like ways, but I am about to start tearing my hair out. I'm thinking of taking S to the mall so she can play on the indoor playground. I think my friend S might want to go with me. She's going a bit stir crazy, too. For her, it's because her oldest started kindergarten last week, and being a mom of one isn't keeping her busy enough.

We'll see how it all pans out.

Since we've been living like little hermit crabs, there isn't much to report...though I did get two early birthday gifts that I adore. From my family, who came to visit this past weekend- Barefoot in Paris. I can't wait to get started making all of the yummy things in it, and, of course, I'll let you know how they all turn out. From M, I got a new photo from the Woodland Park Arts Festival. We skipped the festival last year. I think it was raining...but the year before that, FeatherNester and D were in town for it, and it was hot as blazes. When we went then, I saw a picture that I wanted, but I didn't buy it, and I've kicked myself ever since. This time, when I saw it, I pounced. Now I just have to figure out where to hang it. Here's a link to the photographer's website. If you look really hard, I'll bet you can figure out which one I bought.

Monday, August 20, 2007

happiness is...


Baby girl's smile. Her giggle. Her lone tooth, which made it's debut last Wednesday afternoon. Her kisses, which consist of her grabbing my face and licking with a lot of voracity. Happiness is my baby. It's also my husband and my dog and my family and my friends. But this post isn't nearly so noble.

What makes you happy besides all those wonderfully virtuous things? Anyone who says that those are the only things that make them happy is lying. Stuff makes us happy, too. I know it sounds horribly selfish, but it's true, isn't it? I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks actually. The gospel at church a few weeks ago (and the subsequent sermon) was the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21). The lesson is (more or less) that being rich in wordly things will get you're supposed to be rich in faith and spirit and love for God. I get it. The sermon, however, made a lot of sense in that erudite, very Episcopalian way that I've grown to love.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't love me some Jesus. I do. But giving away one's possessions and acting as if material things are unimportant? That's not really a viable option. A girl's got to pay the rent, right? Anway.

The sermon discussed that even those noble pursuits such as friendship and love and motherhood cost money. Anyone who's been on the receiving end of medical bills after giving birth knows what I'm talking about. The idea is free, the reality is expensive. I keep getting off track here.

The priest eventually got around to discussing actual possessions..something I know a lot about. The parable of the rich fool normally makes me feel like a selfish hoard of crap. I think it was a brilliant bit of writing that gets people to give money to the church. Again, I digress. The priest asked everyone to think of their favorite possession. Very favorite. He declared that it wasn't un-Christian to love something other than your family and the Big Man as long as you don't love it more than your family and the Big Man. He talked about it being okay for things to make you happy, but that you should share that happiness. If food makes you happy, okay. But share that love. Reach out to your fellow man and engage them in that love. Does that make sense? Probably not as I'm not doing a very good job of putting my thoughts into words here.

Anyway, think of your favorite things. What are they? Why do they make you happy? Make sure you appreciate them often, and share them with your family and your friends. As for me, I couldn't think of one thing because I don't think I have a favorite thing. But my favorite stuff? It's probably all of my cookware and dishes. It makes me so happy to cook for people and to put it all out on pretty plates with pretty napkins and the whole nine yards. I'd like to think that I do a pretty good job of sharing that love.

So, happy Monday. Share the love.

Oh, and don't forget to appreciate all those noble things like babies and husbands and pets, too. In fact, I can't wait for my slobbering, sleeping baby to wake up so I can appreciate her...meaning I'm going to kiss all over her stinky little face and laugh and laugh and laugh at her. I love my life.

This is the most random post ever. Ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

horse capital of the world

Drive to Lexington from any direction and I guarantee you'll pass at least one sign that says you're entering the horse capital of the world. Guarantee. I'd put actual money on it. Not even Monopoly money. Real money with presidents on it. Anyway, S now officially belongs in the horse capital of the world as she is an accomplished rider. Sort of.
Happy Tuesday, peeps.

Monday, August 13, 2007

under the weather

The past five days have been less than stellar. Much less. I've had some variation of a cold that has knocked me out completely. Luckily, M was able to come home from work last Thursday to watch S while I slept. Friday, I felt a little better, and I was supremely grateful for S's unusually long naps. Saturday, I felt pretty good, except for the nasty dry cough I'd developed, so we went about our business running errands and cleaning house and whatnot. Big mistake. Apparently, my body wanted another day of rest, which brings us to yesterday. I think I was awake a total of about six hours yesterday. Thank you, M, for taking such good care of me and baby girl while I fought through the plague.

Today is much better, but I'm planning on taking it easy anyway. That's hard for me. I know that things need to be done. However, I realize that taking care of S can be taxing enough, and I don't want to stay sick or be forced to go to the doctor. Wish me luck.

Not much going on around here other than that. I did make another yum-scrum dessert this weekend. Chocolate cobbler. The recipe is from a cookbook my Aunt O gave me recently. Holy cow, it's chocolaty. This dessert is not for anyone watching their waistline. I substituted half the sugar for brown sugar in a feeble attempt at being a bit more healthy, but I knew messing with this recipe too much would not work out. Besides, it's chocolate healthy do you really want it to be? Anyway, if you're wanting to go all out with a dessert, let me know and I'll share the recipe.

Happy Monday. I'm going to take a nap.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

millions of peaches

Does anyone remember that stupid song by the Presidents of the United States of America?

Doesn't matter, but I hope it's not stuck in your head now...

I needed to bake something yesterday. Needed. I hadn't baked anything in days, and I was having withdrawals. Withdrawals from the use of wooden spoons and mixers and unbleached all-purpose flour and from the actual devouring of baked goods. To be honest, the toffee ice cream bars I bought last week had been placating my sweet tooth. I'd had all I could take yesterday, though. Besides, I had some peaches that needed to be used and I couldn't just sit and eat them all. So, I started looking around for recipes that would use up the peaches in the fruit bowl and not require me to go out for any ingredients. I found a recipe for a peach upside down cake, and I decided to work from that. All in all, it's a pretty tasty dish, but, man is it ugly. Seriously unattractive. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that the peaches were too soft to be neatly halved and pitted. A more accurate description of the peaches' fates would be "peeled and ripped by the handful off of the pit."

Anyway, I messed with the basic recipe and here's what I came up case you've got some peaches hanging out in your kitchen and have a hankering to bake something in this ungodly heat.

Ouiser's Peach and Blueberry Upside Down Cake

1/4C Unsalted butter
1/2C Packed brown sugar
1/4tsp Ground nutmeg
1/8tsp Ground cinnamon
3 Peaches; peeled, pitted, and halved (or ripped apart into a mass of flesh that does not look anything like a peach)
1/2C Fresh blueberries
1/2C Unsweetened applesauce
1/2C Packed brown sugar
1 egg
1tsp Vanilla extract
1-1/4C All-purpose flour
2tsp Baking powder
1/2tsp Kosher salt
1/2C Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a 2qt casserole dish. Add brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the melted butter and mix until combined. Arrange peaches and blueberries in dish. Combine applesauce and brown sugar until well mixed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to applesauce mixture alternately with the milk. Pour over fruit and bake 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cake cool for five minutes, then invert onto serving plate. (Watch out for the syrup that will inevitably pour all over your counters.)

The cake really needs some ice cream or whipped cream on top, but I have neither of those things in the house. Bummer.

Monday, August 06, 2007

she's a screamer

A few weeks ago, our sweet daughter went from a baby that woke once a night to a baby that woke three times a night. Since then, I've been a bit tired. I was attributing this sudden change in her sleeping behavior to her teeth bothering her, even though I admitted that she could have just figured out that if she cried at night, I'd feed her. After the first week, I started making her fuss for at least five minutes before I'd go into her room. That worked a couple of times that week, but not much, so last week I upped the ante to ten minutes. Still didn't help. Then I realized something: she's not that upset about her mouth during the day, so she's likely not waking up in the middle of the night in agony. She's also not waking up starving to death. The child is still nursing plenty and she's now eating solids three times a day. She's working the system.

"No more," I say.

Last night, I decided to end it. She would just have to learn that she has to sleep through the night. I know that she's capable of putting herself to sleep because she does it when we put her down. She just somehow got the idea in her head that it's my job to put her back to sleep if she wakes up. It's my fault. I know it is. I should've tried harder much sooner to get her off of night feedings. She hasn't really needed them for awhile. Anyway, last night was the night. I told M that I was going to let her cry. I thought she'd give up after about ten minutes, but I was wrong. She screamed, and I'm talking gasping for air, sobbing, "I'm producing as many decibels as possible" screams, for 45 minutes. I worry that she may have stopped because she passed out from a lack of oxygen. I held my ground, though, and she finally went back to sleep. Of course, when she woke up at 4:45, I fed her. It had been a little over 8 hours since she'd eaten, so I was afraid she might actually be hungry. The longest she's ever gone without eating is about 7 hours. I'm sure I'm just prolonging my own agony by letting this continue.

Stop the insanity. Someone bring me to my senses.

She's asleep now, though, so we'll see how tonight goes. Here's a shot of her after church yesterday.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

the zoo crew

Mark it off the to-do list. We took S on her first outing to the zoo today. Technically, she went to the Memphis Zoo last fall in my tummy, but we're not counting that one. This morning, we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. We managed to get there early enough that it wasn't insanely hot, though it seemed like every single person we passed was complaining about the heat. People, it's August. It's supposed to be hot. Can't even blame it on global warming. Well, I could, but I doubt anyone would buy it.

Anyway, we all had a blast, and S really liked the elephants. M and I were partial to the manatees and the polar bears. Polar bears are just cool. And the gorillas, but it was hard to watch them knowing
what's been happening in the Congo. Horrific. Ghastly. Inhuman. These gorillas, however, were perfectly safe and charming and relaxed.

Here are a few pics...there are more on

Thursday, August 02, 2007

get up, stand up

I sincerely think I'm living in some sort of mommy time warp. S has two new tricks up her sleeve...figure of speech, she's not wearing sleeves.

Trick number 1: she sits up on her knees and balances. It started with her trying to crawl over M's legs in the floor yesterday afternoon while I was at the dentist. She is no longer content to sit on her bottom. She likes to be taller. Great.

It doesn't stop there. I present trick numero dos: she can pull herself up to stand. So far, she's only been successful at standing while in her crib. She can grip the bars and pull herself up. I had to lower the crib this morning, which I'm glad I did before she tumped. She's really proud of herself. It's cute, but it's also horrible disturbing. She's six months old. She only learned to crawl a week ago. I'm not ready for her to move on to new things just yet. I need to get used to basic mobility first.

She thinks it's all fantastic, though, and she's having a great time trying to find every single thing in the house that I don't want her to get into. Needless to say, she's the only one who finds that game entertaining.

Also less than entertaining is her tummy's apparent dislike for peaches. She had them Tuesday morning and yesterday evening. She was a bit fussier than usual after she had her peaches-and-cereal breakfast on Tuesday, but I thought it was her teeth. Besides, she devoured the peaches. You'd have thought I was feeding the girl gold. She gobbled them. Gobble. Gobble. Unfortunately, she was in pretty bad (read: gassy, no poop) shape after she had peaches for dinner last night, too, and I was up with her for two hours in the middle of the night. Again, it could have a lot to do with her teeth, but to be on the safe side, I'm giving up on peaches until she gets a bit older. Maybe her tummy just isn't ready for them yet. Sad, though, as they are so perfect and fresh right now. Tomorrow I'm picking up green beans to make for her. It's time for another new food...

Last, but not least, how cool is this shirt?? And how much does that guy look like Cameron from Ferris Bueller?Happy Thursday, homeboys and girls.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I figured something out this summer that managed to escape me last summer. I really, really love my garden. I didn't care last year...mostly because I was so miserably pukey. This year, however, I have actually taken the time to try and do things properly, and it has been wonderful. I love going out into the garden everyday and grabbing handfuls of yummy cherry tomatoes and keeping my eyes peeled for new zucchinis and peppers. While I'm not the biggest fan of looking out for the return of the squash bugs, knowing that I actually grew something that I can eat is more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. And the delicious aroma of all the fresh basil doesn't hurt the situation.

I am quickly becoming overrun with cherry tomatoes, though, so I'm likely going to take some to a friend this afternoon. I'd hang on to them, but I can tell that there are going to be loads more ready for picking tomorrow. I'd rather have someone enjoy them while they're perfect than hang on to them out of selfishness.

The other thing I love about the garden is learning from my mistakes. Like last year when I planted so many tomato plants in the area the size of a bathtub that they were a jumbled mess, making it impossible to harvest anything...also making it impossible for anything else to grow. This year, I actually paid attention to the instructions on the seed packets, but I think they were a little lenient, so I'll plant them even farther apart next year. I'll be more careful about how I sow the basil seeds next year, too. I've had to transplant them so many times this year because some of them ended up growing over others, starving them of sunlight. Oh, and I've learned to pick zucchini before they are as long as my arm...maybe that will help my squash bug problem.

Of course, now I'm itching to try to grow new things, and I'm basically sitting on my hands to keep myself from rushing out and buying something. Next year.

Despite my newfound love of vegetable gardening, I'm still hesitant to try flower gardening. It just seems so completely overwhelming. If anyone has a suggestion on how to get started on that one, let me know. I need something simple to boost my confidence. Until then...

...I'm off to shower. I have dirt all over my knees from crawling around the garden this morning. Happy Wednesday, peeps.