I am a problem solver

I’m pretty sure I have complained about the breakfast place that is within easy walking distance from our house and is really good but has TERRIBLE coffee, but I can’t find the post.  I’ll complain about it now.  There’s a really good breakfast place within easy walking distance from our house, but it has TERRIBLE coffee.  It’s not about how they’re brewing it.  We really don’t like the beans or the roast or whatever it is about a specific kind of coffee that makes it taste a certain way.  (Their Bloody Mary is also bad.)

It’s a real bummer since it keeps us from going there all that often.  Today we decided to go anyway, and I have solved the terrible coffee problem!  They also serve chai lattes, and THOSE are DAMN good.  Yay for not screwing up a drink they’re buying premade from somewhere and heating up for me!

Goal achieved

I got up this morning, trying not to think too hard about my actual age, and set ONE goal for the day.

I WILL ONLY EAT SWEET THINGS TODAY.

Breakfast: I went to Allan Bros (the local coffee place about six blocks from the house with the view of the prison) and had a French Toast latte and a giant eclair.  I mean, this thing was enormous.  It was about 3/4 the length of my forearm.  I read my book, I messed around on my laptop, and I went home in time to gather up John and head for lunch.

Lunch: We went to Mom’s Pies and had a slice of pie each.  Me: berry medley (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries).  John: apple.  They were out of ice cream, which was a little disappointing, but the pies were really good.  We got there just in time – the owner is closing the store in a few weeks in favor of his wholesale business.  He said we can buy them frozen to bake at home from a couple of local grocery stores so we won’t be completely bereft.

Dinner: Cake.  John baked me a cake (yellow cake, chocolate frosting), and that’s what I ate for dinner.   With a glass of milk, of course.  It was delicious.

All sugar, all day.  Happy birthday to me!

My future as a hobo. Almost.

It snowed most of today and then sleeted the rest of the day.  John and I did NOT go to the grocery store yesterday (which should surprise no one who knows us), so we had to venture out for dinner.  We got all bundled up (temps were in the high 20s) and headed for downtown and the nearest food, but we got stalled at the train tracks by the SLOWEST TRAIN EVER.

Aaaaannnnndddd then it stopped, right where it was. That building on the other side is where we were trying to go. So close! We waited. Waited some more. Waited a little longer. Watched a guy in a sweatshirt with no coat swing himself over the linkage between two cars. Meanwhile, the train hadn’t budged. We could see the end of it maybe 100 yards away to the left, so we eventually gave up waiting and followed the train to its end (no caboose!) and crossed behind it.

Then we had sushi because who doesn’t deserve sushi after contemplating climbing over a train?

VOLT

We had two reasons for going to PA and MD this time:

  1. Meet our new nephew, Graham!  This was supposed to be the first time we met the baby.  That was before the funeral trip, which, obviously, was unplanned, but since everyone was there, we met him in October instead.  Still, the tickets were booked and it cost more to move them to Christmas (or to just cancel and keep them as a credit) than it did to keep them and make the trip anyway.  Plus, we had reason #2.
  2. Celebrate John’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary!  Their anniversary is the 20th, but we took the opportunity of coming into town to see the baby to get the whole family in one place and take John VII and Pat out to dinner.

We weren’t really sure just what we were going to do to celebrate at first – big family party?  small family party?  dinner out? – but then Emily had the brilliant (and very expensive) idea of taking them out to dinner at best restaurant in Frederick, MD: Volt.  She and Sean had been once, and they’ve been raving about it ever since.  She booked the nine of us (plus Graham) into a private room, and let me tell you – I have never felt so fancy.  The restaurant is in an old mansion in downtown Frederick.  The decor is pretty modern, but the room we were in was the conservatory, with a bay window at the end, and big windows along both sides looking into the garden.  The room was just big enough for us and the full staff serving us.  Seriously, every time they brought in a new course, five waitstaff came in at once and served us at the same time.  It was like synchronized swimming.  Synchronized service.  Very cool, very fancy.

Special menus were printed with “Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad” and their wedding date on them.  We had a four-course meal, with three choices per course.  I couldn’t tell you everything that was on the menu, but I can tell you what had.

  • Garlic: tom cove clams, black garlic, onion blossoms.  It was a soup, and it was SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.
  • Goat cheese scarpinocc: chicken of the woods mushroom, spinach, honey vinegar.  Little bitty filled pasta, and this was even better than the soup.
  • Lamb loin: mushroom oatmeal, maitake caramel, wax beans.  Also very very good, but the little bitty pasta was better.
  • Mini apple tart: maple ice cream, confiture de lait, ginger, rosemary.  By far the disappointment of the meal.  I mean, it was fine, but it wasn’t up to the standards of the first three courses.

Tiny portions, but plenty of food.  I would definitely eat there again, but I’ll have to save up for a while.  Graham cooperated by sleeping through most of the meal and letting Sean feed him when he woke up.  No crying, even though we were in a sound-proofed room, so if ever there was a time for a baby to cry in a restaurant, this was it.

We all look demonic in the one picture I have of the group of us at the restaurant, so you don’t get to see that unless you look for pictures I’m tagged in on Instagram.  Or go to Facebook.  Everyone in the family has probably posted a picture or two there. Pictures of the baby tomorrow!

It wouldn’t win in a cook-off

We made chili in the slow cooker today.  The house smelled delicious all day long, but the chili turned out a little disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, and we still ate too much of it, but the texture was a little strange, it wasn’t thick enough, and it needed more flavor.  I’m not sure which flavor, but something was missing.

We’ve made better chili.  Next time, different recipe.

Nope, I’m too full to spend much time thinking about next time right now.  Quick, change the subject!

Elephants?  Really?

Broken promises

I broke my vow to eat only chocolate on our return to Oregon.  At breakfast.  I had an omelet that was not made of chocolate.  And then I got Twizzlers at the airport.  And then I ate a bagel, and then I ate Cheez-Its at ten o’clock at night on the drive home from the airport.  So junk food, sure.  Chocolate, not so much.

To make it up to myself, I had chocolate for breakfast today.  (We have no other food in the house.)  That might be all I eat today because I am SO FREAKIN’ TIRED I’m not sure I can find us any other food.  Everything is too much of an effort.

Eating badly

I don’t think I have ever eaten normally while traveling.  It’s difficult, of course, but I don’t even try.  Yesterday, we got up at 5:30, got to the airport at 6:30, and bad coffee and a stale, crunchy croissant near the gate for breakfast.  Lunch was too much Italian food during our Chicago layover because we knew we’d land in New York too late for dinner so we figured we’d eat a meal and a half mid-afternoon to cover both meals.  Then we snacked because, well, we got hungry again.  But it was all sucky food, pretty much.

We could make the attempt.  I could have had a banana at breakfast.  I could have had a salad at lunch.  I could try harder and do that on our way home in a few days.  Right now, though, I don’t want to do that.  I want to go the other way.  My plan is to have nothing but chocolate (or at least nothing but dessert-type food) when we travel back.  I don’t think it would make me feel worse, and it has a decent chance of making me feel better.

Adulting slow-cooker style

Check it out.  We bought a slow cooker, it arrived yesterday, and I’m cooking in it today.  Can you believe it?  I’ll give you a minute to fan yourselves and get over the shock.

Here it is, yelling at me, apparently, telling me to COOK.  Yeah, I get it.

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And here, beneath the steamy lid, you can kind of see dinner.

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My first recipe is beef and broccoli, and if the recipe is correct, it’ll be ready in 5 minutes.  I didn’t tell John what I was making, but he’ll find out soon.

I hope it’s good.  I hope it’s edible.  Good is secondary.

Update: It was DELICIOUS.

Gin is not always disgusting

Gin: not the grossest alcohol on the planet.

Let’s not get too excited about this, gin drinkers.  I still think gin by itself tastes like pine sap, and gin and tonics taste like rubbing alcohol, so those of you who like it that way (Mom and Dad, Mel, Will) – yeah, you’re still crazy.

HOWEVER, I have discovered that I like some drinks that have gin in them, like the gimlet.  I had a vodka gimlet in Annapolis one night with Jess that was pretty good, and in the spirit of adventure, I tried a gin gimlet a few weeks ago and liked it.  Better, I think.  That’s basic, right?  Gin, lime juice, and sugar.  Surprisingly yum.  I haven’t tried making one myself, so I have no idea about proportions.  I’ve also tried experimenting with different gins, but last night’s experiments were made by different bartenders, too, so the whole thing wasn’t very scientific.

Three gimlets, three different gins, three different bartenders (same bar – the band had a gig)…so for one thing, each bartender might have made them differently.  For another thing, that means I had three gimlets last night.  Did I like the third one best because it used Hendricks instead of Bombay (the first gimlet, my second favorite) or Tanqueray (the second gimlet, my third favorite)?  Or did I like the third one best because it was the third one and of COURSE I liked the third one?  Also not scientific: last week, the gimlets I drank at the arcade with the 90s music and the flash mob (did I tell you about the flash mob?) were made with New Amsterdam gin, and I liked those very much.  More than the Hendricks one?  I have NO idea.

Also, I’m not experimenting again for at least a week because three gimlets is my limit.  Oh, I had a gin cocktail with dinner Friday night: rosemary-infused gin, lemon, grenadine, ginger soda, bitters.  It was pretty good.  Conclusion: add sugar in some form and gin tastes good!

Dinner smells so good

We are grilling steaks tonight!  So yeah – that delicious smell that’s wafting through the neighborhood?  For once, it’s coming from OUR backyard.  Dinner is corn (also grilled), steak, and a salad, and I am SO hungry right now.

This will be the…third(?) time we’ve used our little charcoal grill.  Most of that is because it’s a PAIN.  Next time, gas grill.  Definitely.  Forever.  Or no grill.  With as little use as this one has gotten (and with the rain that is supposed to arrive in a month), we could have gone without.  Like we’ve gone without a microwave for over five months now.  We hardly miss it.  It would make a couple of things easier (like reheating leftovers), but that’s what ovens and stoves are for.

Anyway, dinner will be yum, and it’s almost done, and I have to go eat it.

Bad timing

I got a cute sundress at Target yesterday, but I want more than one cute sundress.  More than one more cute sundress.  My one chore for the day was to bike over to Trader Joe’s to pick up dinner while John was rehearsing at Will’s house, so I figured I’d do it after I finished my long bike ride for the day.  It made sense at the time, but I didn’t think ahead to how much I don’t want to still be on a bike after that many miles.  Still, Trader Joe’s is only a mile from the house, and what’s two more miles at that point?

Yeah.

Trader Joe’s shares a parking lot with Old Navy, so I figured since I was there anyway and not in any particular hurry, I’d check out their sundresses.  They have the added benefit of being super-cheap.  It wasn’t until I took my helmet off and noticed how gross and sweaty my hair was that I thought about how gross and sweaty my whole body was.  So….maybe shopping for and trying on clothes wasn’t the best idea.  I cruised through anyway, just looking.  I’ll have to go back.

Then I was disappointed by Trader Joe’s (they don’t have fresh, non-frozen salmon!).  I couldn’t face biking to yet another store, so I called John and he picked up KFC on his way home.  I can live with that.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Rock Star Astrophysicist

We saw Neil deGrasse Tyson last night at the Hult Center, where he gave a talk called “An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies”, and it was great.  He’s a funny guy, and he treats his audience like the intelligent geeks we all are (seriously – we were surrounded by our people).  If you ever get a chance to go see him, I say go.

It was a night out for us, so we got semi-dressed up, went out to dinner at the nicest restaurant within 4 blocks of our house (Oregon Electric Station, which used to be a train station, and is pretty darn nice, actually), and then walked the one additional block to the Hult Center.

Then we climbed four stories to our seats in the upper balcony.

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No nosebleeds, but I was afraid to lean forward.  The screen for his presentation was GIANT, which is a good thing because I couldn’t see him at all.  He was a blur – my eyesight sucks.  Although maybe everyone would have a problem seeing details at that distance.

Still, it was a good time, lots of laughter, lots of funny (and well-handled) heckler moments.  His books are now on my To Read list (where they should have been before).

St. Patrick’s Day festivities

Our St. Patrick’s Day festivities are days late and did not include drinking.  We’re not very good partial (or fake) Irish people.  I am wearing green, though.

Corned beef and cabbage for lunch, plus a good luck cake for our trip out west.

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We’re completely stuffed from that, but I really want the tres leches cake I know is waiting in the fridge.  We’ll just skip dinner and eat cake.  Later.  Much later.

I ran out to the hardware store to make a copy of our storage unit key for Emily and Sean, and when I came back, I found two thirds of the family asleep in the living room.

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We might not make it to the next round of cake.  That would probably be okay.  Except not.  It’s really good cake.

Sandwiches are the universal cure

This morning:

Jess mentioned the other day that it’s amazing how quickly she can go from “Today’s a pretty good day” to “I hate everyone and everything” some days, and some days, I’m right there with her.  Today, at least, I have identified a trigger: it’s laundry.  Not just laundry, though – I’ve been doing laundry for years, and it doesn’t automatically put me in a bad mood.  No, it’s laundry HERE, in THIS apartment, with THIS gross basement and machines that don’t drain correctly (the utility sink that the machines drain into has dirt in it – DRY dirt – even after two loads of MY laundry have drained), and with our messy upstairs neighbor who is doing his best to live on his own, but needs additional help.  I’ll cut him all the slack he needs, but that doesn’t mean that what he does (or doesn’t do) doesn’t affect MY mood.

Messy neighbor definition: we have mice (or something) in the attic because he leaves open soda cans and pizza all over his apartment (according to our landlady).  In the laundry room today, there are two full loads of his clothes on the (gross) folding table, most likely put there by the downstairs neighbor who needed the dryers.  Don’t know how long they’ve been there or how long they’ll be there.

I’m going for a run.  Maybe I won’t hate everyone when I get back.

This afternoon:

Better.  Not great, but better.  Running is good, running is helpful, AND I ate a sandwich, which probably has a LOT to do with it.  (I typed “AND I hate a sandwich” and fixed it SO fast.  That is not true.  That will never be true.  I love sandwiches.  Rumors about sandwich-hating are hurtful and must be dealt with immediately.  Without delay.  Posthaste.  Now.)

Yes, I’m feeling better.

Oh, Ray’s, how I’ll miss you

Ray’s the Steaks is the best.  And even though I made the rookie mistake of ordering my own little cup of crab bisque (rather than stealing bites from John’s) so that I was already full of overly rich food by the time my steak arrived, I was still able to enjoy the few bites I had before I couldn’t look at food anymore.  AND I got to take it home, and boy was it good cold at lunch today.  Also, they sent home mashed potatoes and creamed spinach (the sides that come family-style with every entree), so yay very much for me.

I’m going to miss that place.  Not tonight, though.  It’s Pi Day, and we’re having pie for dinner.  Of course.

Decadent

This is the life (but better if John were here):

I traveled to the office today.  After spending the day at work (both stressful (didn’t get enough done) and pleasant (saw a lot of people I like)), I went out to get a drink with some coworkers.  From there, I checked into my hotel, where they gave me a warm chocolate chip cookie.  Now, I’m going to take a bath in a bathtub WAY nicer than the one in our apartment.  This might be my first bath since we moved to Annapolis.

Can that possibly be true?

I think it is.  I’m going to take a bath.  With a chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe I should have titled this post “Wine and Cookies”.