Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Blog is Now Closed!

I have a new email address, but for some reason I can't associate this blog with it, so in order to post I have to sign in and out and it's all very annoying. So annoying, in fact, that I have decided the hell with it all and made a new blog.

So to hear about what I'm cooking and what The Kitten is up to, please go to

http://meadow-lands.blogspot.com/

from now on!

Cookery!

For some reason this last week I've had the urge to cook all the things!

Last week we went to visit a friend who just had a baby and so we brought them a casserole, an apple cake, and 2 blankets my mom made. This is the same friend I gave the little blue sweater with the star buttons, if you recall. At the same time I made another casserole and apple bread for us, and so my oven was actually full! I don't know if it's ever been that full before!


This weekend I made another apple cake to bring when we played Battlestar Galactica, only I used Frangelico in this one because I was out of amaretto. It was good but I think the amaretto version smelled better :)

On Monday I spent most of the night making chicken croquettes from my cousin's recipe, because there are several stretches of time where they need to rest. The recipe made 15, so I froze about half of them and we had some for dinner on Tuesday along with glazed carrots (I leave out the parsley and pepper from that recipe) and roasted asparagus. The roasted asparagus was both incredibly easy and good! All I did was trim the ends, roll them in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and a little pepper and roast for 10-15 minutes at 400, but I think they were Ben's favorite vegetable I've made yet! he told me I should have taken a picture, but I was too hungry :)

And yesterday I made adorable little mini meatloves! They were so tiny and cute! That recipe made 6, so we have enough leftovers I won't need to make any main dishes for a week! I served them with leftover carrots and green beans almondine with well-roasted almonds, yum.

I have bananas ripening on the counter which are destined to become banana bread this weekend, and last night I had an urge to make chocolate chip cookies, though I resisted it. I might make some dough tomorrow and just make 4 cookies and freeze the rest, hmm...

I'd almost forgotten how much I love to bake! It's like doing chemistry but ending up with baked goods, it's awesome.

I told Ben I was probably reacting to the change in the weather, fall is coming so I want to make things with apples and stock our larder! He cracked up because by "change in weather" I mean it's down to 92 F (33 C) :)

I am excited though, I think I'm getting better at meal-planning and coordinating side dishes. It's harder than it seems to make a whole meal ready at roughly the same time every weekday! Growing up my family ate dinner together pretty much every night and it's important to me that we do the same, it's a really good bonding time I think, so we are all formal about it, it's fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Socks!

I decided these were finished even though the pattern has the "POLICE BOX" embroidered in all the white spaces at the top. But in the course of making these I have discovered 3 things:
1. My embroidery is quite wonky.
2. Related: embroidery is hard yo.
3. I don't enjoy embroidering tiny text on knitting nearly as much as actually knitting.

So they're done! They took me forever because I ran out of yarn just after the second cuff and discovered it was on backorder until August. But luckily there are a lot of awesome people on Ravelry and one incredibly gracious woman sent me more, leftover from a project she'd just finished, and refused to accept any payment or chocolate or anything, even for shipping. So nice!

They also took a while because I made a baby sweater while I was looking for more yarn for these (I figured anyone who worked at NASA had to like stars against a blue background)

And I was getting quite sick of plain knit stitches in dark blue, much as I love it.

But they're done and I got to give them to my sister in person! We went out to see them in New Orleans, it was so awesome to see her and meet Dan! We had a great time and ate lots of delicious food, yum.

And now I get to knit something that's not blue! I'm thinking hot pink, oh yeah.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Travelogue: Italy!

On Friday May 20th we left Houston at 4 pm on an Air France flight that went wonderfully! Shortly after we took off they served us a dinner that was shockingly good for airline food, Ben got chicken and I got pasta, and we both had a little cold ni├žoise rice salad, roll with butter, dishes of perfectly ripe grapes, block of cheese, mineral water, and raspberry cake for dessert. We didn't get wine (which was included) on the way out, but we did on the way back, and I have never really believed in matching food to wine until then, but man it made such a difference! We had a little quiche type thing for an appetizer then, and I had a bite and it was ok, then I had a sip or two of wine and took another bite and the flavor just exploded, it was so delicious I couldn't believe it! So I definitely recommend Air France and their wine.

We watched Season of the Witch on the way there, with Nicolas Cage (I know, I know) and Ron Perlman (Eee! I really think he's actually a Neandertal, he's so awesome!) and it was really good too! We enjoyed. I knit a bit and then we tried (and pretty much failed) to sleep for a few hours.

As we came over England the sun was coming up, so the flight attendants raised up the windows and served breakfast, which was a good way to reset your internal clock.

We landed in Paris and we saw French bunnies playing in the fields! They were so cute!

But the rest of our time in Paris kind of sucked. The flights had been chosen by Ben's parent's travel agent, and we had about an hour and half between them. But it took us 45 minutes to get off the damned plane and into the terminal, after we took the world's longest and most boring tram ride around the entire airport. After that we ran into the customs line, which we skipped after we begged an attendant to let us jump the line since our flight was boarding, then ran into the security line, which we also jumped for the same reason. Then we ran through the rest of the Paris airport and were the last people to board the plane to Rome, about 2 minutes before they shut the doors. So not that much fun.

The flight to Rome was thankfully short and I blearily tried to sleep through it but with no success. Also they didn't feed us more than a cookie or two, disappointing.

We landed in Rome with no issues, and while I thought I saw Italian sheep or possibly Italian cows on the way in, upon further investigation they proved to be Italian haybales. Bu tit was still exciting.

We had a shuttle to our hotel, so we waited for that while drinking delicious apricot juice, which I ordered after confusing the Italian counterperson a bit, though probably about the same amount as I confuse American counterpeople.

Our hotel in Rome was kind of, frankly, sucky. I wouldn't have picked it. The elevator was extremely tiny and scary, the bed was only slightly softer than the floor, and there was no way to turn on the air conditioning, and by this point we wanted it on. We live in Texas, where it is on inside every building pretty much year round, and it was hot there. We asked the desk people about how to turn it on and they said, Oh, it's controlled by us, but we don't turn it on until June. So that wasn't much fun.

We spent the rest of Saturday trying to sleep and not melt until dinnertime. We'd met up with his parents, who had been traveling around the Mediterranean for 2 week already and had gotten into Rome the day before, and went to a close by place. I had been studying Italian, especially the words for food, and "alici" was not the word for anchovies in my book, so I ordered a panzarotti with them to see what they were. Yeah, they were anchovies, bleh. But you know, I was learning. I also had an appetizer of awesome prosciutto with mozzarella, so it wasn't all smelly fish, at least!

And then we got delicious gelato on the way back, yumm.

Our next day was Rome! His parents asked me what I wanted to see, but there was no question!

The Colosseum of course! It blew my mind to be standing next to this structure that has been standing there for thousands of years, that so many people visited, that so many people fought inside, died inside, cheered inside, yelled inside. Ancient Rome has always fascinated me, they had such advanced engineering skills and citizens had so many rights and comforts that we think are so modern, but at the same time they could be so savage, owning slaves, women had so many rights and still couldn't vote, and reveling in the bloodshed here.

And I can just go there and walk where they did!

Craziness. It was awesome though.

Us in front of the Colosseum!

And the Arch of Constantine.

Our ticket to see the Colosseum also included the location of the Roman Forum and a lot of different temples, the

This is us walking, as it turns out, entirely the wrong direction to get to the forum and those temples.

But it was pretty! We wandered around for probably an hour and half in the bright sunlight, though luckily I had slathered us both in sunscreen before we left that day. Sunscreen is definitely important, we saw some people with terrible sunburns and what I'm pretty sure was sun poisoning later in the trip, but all we got was a slight burn on the front of Ben's neck where I forgot to put some the first day.

We passed the 12 stations of Christ, which is apparently a thing, and lots of honeysuckle or possibly jasmine, it smelled awesome and was everywhere, before realizing we were not at all where we wanted to be, i.e. somewhere where we knew where we were. Indeed.

So, wandered some more and eventually found


A field of rubble!

It was the forum, it's just declined a bit since it was built 2700 years ago.

We were also near the Temple of Castor and Pollux, which I was interested in because I'm a Gemini, so I took lots of pictures of it and played with my camera's zoom, which is rather awesome.



Zoomed out again!

Overlooking the temples, now rubble.

Poppies grew everywhere in Italy.


By then we were getting hungry and quite hot, so we decided to walk some more! Of course. We passed a cat sanctuary in the middle of a city block!


The kitties had free rein to wander among these ruins. They seemed quite sweet.

We found the Piazza Navona,

which is known for the Fountain of the Four Rivers

And also for having lots of restaurants. We were hungry but mostly hot, and here we had our first experience with water in Italy. The tap water in Rome was awesome, tasted great and ice cold, they still use some parts of the original aqueducts to bring in spring water. But you can't get it in restaurants, or it's very rare, at least. When you order water they bring you a bottle of it, a liter bottle, and pour you about 2 fingers width in a little glass. You can pour more, but still, not exactly what we're used to. Also, no ice. I think we saw ice twice while we were there, and both times in an iced tea, which we also saw about twice (it's my drink of choice, I'm not a soda person.) We asked for ice, but the waiter told us the water was cold, it didn't need it. Well, the water was "cool", it had been in the shade, but not, by any means, cold. To us hot and thirsty tourists, anyway.

I had prosciutto and melon, yum, then gnocchi for lunch. I don't remember what everyone else had.

After lunch it was time for, yes, more walking! We walked to a bridge next to the Castel Sant'Angelo, which was apparently the pope's panic building. When you're the pope you get a whole building, not just a room. We walked down and I got to touch the Tiber!

I touched it! I did not fall in, but I slipped a bit and got some Tiber mud on my jeans, but it came off eventually. Upon reflection I think I used the bidet cloths to clean it off in the hotel later, oops.

It was quite nice next to the river though, nice to be out of the crowds for a bit.

This is the Castel Sant'Angelo, though it looks like a barge to me.


It may not be a surprise to hear the pope's panic house is not that far from the Vatican, which was our next stop. Unfortunately the only day we had in Rome was a Sunday, and so the museum, and thus the Sistine Chapel, were closed. But we could still go into St. Peter's Basilica.

Walking there we passed an aqueduct!

You might be able to tell I'm an engineer, huh? I love aqueducts and the Roman skill at engineering amazes me.

Ben attacking the Vatican

It started raining just after I took this picture, so we hide under a colonnade for a while, then went through security and inside the basilica. Apparently we were lucky actually, it only took us about 15 minutes to get it, and we heard later that the line can be 4 hours long on weekdays.

I did not take any pictures inside because I considered it a church, though I think other people were. Oh well. We saw Michelangelo's Pieta, one of his early masterpieces.

It's now behind a glass wall since someone I can't even think of words terrible enough for took a hammer to it in the 70s. I actually really disagree with this, I think a railing or something would have been a better idea. The glass wall is rather far from the sculpture and really cuts you off from it, it's rather remote, especially compared to the David, which has a railing but isn't enclosed, so you can feel much closer to the work, like you're actually seeing the actual piece, not just a picture of it. But then, there are a lot of things the Vatican does that I disagree with.

The rest of St. Peter's is large and in your face saintiness. It was worth much more time than we gave it, but our feet were killing us by then, it was hard to even stand and concentrate on anything else. So we left after about an hour.

On our way back we decided to make one more stop and saw the Trevi Fountain! We threw in coins because his parents told us to, but apparently we did it wrong, or something. Whatever. It was fun.


Aww. Then we took the Metro back to the hotel. I guess we ate dinner at some point in there, but I don't remember now. Hmm.

After that long day, we slept well on our rock bed!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Knitting

Well, I guess I have looked at my wedding pictures long enough, I can post some different ones. How about some yarn?

Pretty, no? Of course I can't knit it that way, have to wind it up into little balls. The cat finds this process fascinating.


And of course those little balls won't keep my head warm! Start with some ribbing.

Not enough to keep my head warm though, maybe some vines would help?

Or some flowers!

And end with some stripes!


Of course I look doofy in it, as I look in all hats. (Maybe it's not the hats...)


But it's pretty and I made it!

The hat is from a kit from a lovely yarn dyer named Tanis, which came with the pattern and the yarn. I learned Fair Isle knitting to do it, which is knitting with 2 colors in one row. It's gorgeous and soft and I love it and marvel that I actually made it!

I am now working on socks for Steph, which are stalled until a very nice woman from Ravelry sends me more yarn, a baby hat which is stalled until I finish another baby sweater and have enough extra yarn to finish the hat, stripey socks which are awesome but I'm mostly saving for Italy knitting, and awesome awesome purple wrist warmers which I can actually work on! And there's another 18 million things I want to cast on, including something with these gorgeous colors:


Monday, July 26, 2010

Wedding! Part 2

We planned the wedding with the idea that the ceremony was for us, and the reception was the party afterwards to celebrate it, and like all good parties the focus there was on the guests. But the ceremony was ours, and it was perfect.

My friend Ryan played Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden for us during the ceremony, this is a video taken by my cousin of the first part of it. He did a fantastic job, Ben said he never really understood the song until Ryan sang it for us! At one point we looked at each other and went to kiss without thinking, and then remembered we couldn't yet! The priest laughed at us.

We had our ceremony in a public park, we'd reserved the Pavilion next to it but the park was open, and as it was a gorgeous day there were other people there, at least that's what I'm told. Ben says a few people walked just behind us during the ceremony, and apparently someone drove past at one point, but I didn't see any of that. I saw Ben's eyes and the pastor's eyes, and Ryan singing, but that was all. I was very present and very focused, but only on us apparently!

After our beautiful ceremony,


We were married!


We recessed to Three Dog Night's Joy to the World (queued up to 1:42) which is also my parent's ring tone on my cel phone. I love it!

We came back up the aisle and did a sort of receiving line where we spoke to everyone before they left their seats, so they could sit down while waiting. I hugged everyone then, and again when we went around to the tables at the reception, so by my count I got over 200 hugs that day! A personal record! The amount of love we got was staggering, it made us so happy to see everyone who could come out for the wedding!

Then it was picture time! Formal ones

And not so formal ones!

The ride back to the Inn was much more relaxing. We were so relieved to be married finally!


When we got back to the Inn, our guests and the rest of the wedding party went to cocktail hour on the Inn's deck, which overlooked the river, while we took more pictures. As we walked around in search of photo ops, some of my friends called down to us to see if we wanted drinks, which we definitely did! Long island Iced Tea for me and Jack and Coke for him, and they were fantastic, and also the only drinks we had time to drink that night! We made it to the very end of the cocktail hour and I snagged one appetizer, though I heard that the rest of them were delicious.

Then it was time for our grand entrance!

Uncle John brought his bagpipes, this is him practicing before the wedding, and he piped us into the reception! He has a tradition of giving each niece and nephew an engraved broad sword on their wedding day, and after we came in he piped as we walked through an arch of my father holding our sword and my brother-in-law holding theirs. It was fantastic and fun and completely surprised me, I didn't know anything about it until 5 minutes before!

And then it was time to dance! We danced our first dance to this acoustic version of Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. We didn't choreograph it like the couple in the video, but we've taken dance lessons together and know each other's style, and we twirled and jumped and sang to each other and he dips me so perfectly! My favorite memory of the night is that first dance with my brand new husband!

A very close second to that memory was dancing with my father! I am basically the female version of him, and we apparently completely shattered all the "Daddy's Little Girl" stereotypes, according to my grandmother at least, by dancing to Oingo Boingo's Weird Science! (From :10 to about 1:10) We had a blast, he loved it, it was perfect for us!

We successfully made the rounds of the tables and talked to everyone there. I didn't realize it but apparently it's a north-eastern tradition to give cards to the bride and groom personally at weddings, I carried a very pretty bag and received one from almost everyone on my side of the room, but very few on his. But then we've gotten a lot in the mail from his, and he said he had never seen that done except in mobster movies! There were a surprising amount of things that I assumed were just part of a wedding that he'd never seen, and vice versa, I had no idea weddings were so regional!

We did get time to eat, we kind of rushed through it but the food was good!

And then we danced! The dance floor was busy all night, the DJ was fantastic and played to our crowd perfectly! This is a video Jake took that's rather dark but you can see how much fun everyone had!

And this is a video with some square dancing with better lighting! This is much closer to how the reception actually looked. The little boy is the son of friends of my parents, and he had a blast dancing! I picked him up and danced with him at one point, but he looked nervous so I put him down, and he ran off. I found out later he'd run right back to his father and told him he'd danced with me, very excitedly! So cute!

We had cake!


Mmm cake :)


We had alternate tiers of sponge cake with lemon curd and buttercream and pound cake with chocolate ganache and buttercream. It was very good :)

I tossed my bouquet pretty much just because Ben wanted to toss my garter while singing Usher's OMG to me! I did not appreciate that song at all until he sang it to me, and then it was vastly improved!

The end of the night came far too quickly, as it does. Our last song was The Proclaimers I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), and the dance floor was full of people we love! The DJ did the thing where he cut out the audio for some of the "Dadaundas" so we could shout them out, which is crazy amounts of fun! I danced and shouted and twirled and was married!

We did it! I jumped up and down in triumph after the last song, I was so excited that we did it! We planned a wedding! And it was perfect! The whole thing was absolutely perfect, not because everything we planned came out exactly as we thought, but because after it was over we were married!

Wedding! Part 1


We have been married one month today! Here are my wedding thoughts and pictures!

We had our reception at an Inn, the Inn at Lambertville Station, and our rain plan was to have the ceremony at the Inn as well, so made sense to me to stay over the night before the wedding there too. Ben stayed in the bridal suite, so he wouldn't have to move his luggage, and I planned to share a room with my little sister, who was my maid of Honor. She ended up changing her mind, though, and decided to stay home that night. It took me a long time to fall asleep that night, I was very excited and also I rarely sleep well in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar noises. I thought mostly about how that was the last night I would be spending by myself for a very long time, and how much better I sleep with him warm beside me, and how those weird noises couldn't possibly be someone breathing in the room behind me oh god oh god. (They weren't, I checked. Several times.)

Eventually I feel into a restless sleep, and woke up at what I thought was 6:45. This was too early so I tried to fall back asleep, but couldn't. Luckily when I sat up I realized it was 7:45, and a good time to wake up! The Inn delivers a continental breakfast to your room, so I sat at the little table in the room and had a very peaceful breakfast looking out over the Delaware River. This quiet time to myself was actually very refreshing and welcome before the busyness of the day.

I got a shower and as I was getting dressed the best man's wife, our groomswoman Danielle, came to see if I needed anything and if I was ready to move to the bridal suite, where we would be getting our hair and makeup done and getting dressed. She and her husband are Ben's best friends from high school, and they were incredibly awesome the whole week before the wedding, the helped us out with so many things I can't even list them all. She went to make sure Ben was out of the bridal suite and into their room where he would be getting dressed, and helped me move the dress and my luggage down.

When I got there I hung up my dress and steamed the small wrinkles out and stared at it for a while. I hadn't seen it in 3 months, since I brought it up to Jersey from Texas in March!


Then the people started arriving! The make up artist got there first and started Danielle, since she would be leaving with the guys before we did. There had been a mix-up with the hair stylist that stressed me out the day before the wedding, but it all worked out. When I contracted her, I knew the approximate time for the ceremony, 5 pm, but not what time I needed to be ready by. I assumed I could just tell her when I knew, but it turned out she had another wedding that morning and so got there a little later than I would have wanted, but in plenty of time to finish everyone.


Once that was done it was time to get dressed!

My shoes! (I got a pedicure after this pic was taken and my toenails were a pretty blue!)


At this point everyone ditched me at the same time! They all went to get dressed rather abruptly and left me alone!

But it was ok because I couldn't wait to see this guy!


He looks so awesome in a tux! It was strange, the whole day I spent thinking about him and talking about him and getting dressed hoping he would like my outfit, but not actually talking to him! He wanted to be very traditional and not see each other before the wedding.

At any rate, I was dressed! We took some bridal portraits which I will have when our professional pics come back, and then it was off to the ceremony!


We took a trolley there, which was nice because a lot of people rode with us, like my parents and aunts and uncles. It was a beautiful ride, right along the banks of the Delaware, green and breezy in the June warmth, sunshine and blue skies over shaded water. I really wanted the wedding to feel summery, like a lazy afternoon in a shady field as the grass flows in the wind, and that ride perfectly encapsulated it for me. It was warm but not hot, the breeze just pleasant on our skin. I knew as soon as he proposed I wanted a June wedding, and it was perfect.

We arrived at the ceremony site! It was perfectly set up, even better than I had ever imagined! We had 2 coordinators, one for the reception which was part of the package at the Inn at Lambertville Station, and one I contracted for the ceremony site, since I was planning everything from Texas. Both of them did fantastic jobs, but the coordinator for the ceremony was worth her weight in gold. She cost me what I was planning to pay for chair rentals, and she was absolutely fantastic. She set everything up at the ceremony site, I didn't have to do anything, and I couldn't believe how perfect everything was.

We had our ceremony in Washington Crossing Historic Park, next to a pavilion. There were 3 trees planted in a triangular pattern which we used as the backdrop to the ceremony, and several others providing shade to the guests. We had white wooden folding chairs for the guests, and white rose petals lining the aisle. The coordinator hung the cranes I had folded from the trees both from the trees behind the pastor and forming the aisle from the trolley, on lines with crystals that caught the light beautifully. She did everything, I just mailed her the cranes and told her what I wanted!


I watched from the trolley as Ben escorted our grandmothers to their seats, carefully walking backward so he wouldn't see me yet! He was aided by the pastor, who was also awesome. I'm not religious, but Ben is, and his family is. After much much searching, we found our pastor online. The advantage of hiring someone you don't know is you can customize the ceremony completely, you are in charge rather than having to work with someone who has a set idea of how they do things, so it worked out perfectly.

Then the music started. Ben escorted both of our mothers down the aisle to Here Comes the Sun, which was perfect in the setting. Then our bridal party started, to Walking on Sunshine! I loved the music, we put a lot of thought into it! I love looking at the pictures while listening to the songs again, too :)

Danielle and Rebecca, Ben's sister


Heather and Ed


Kyle and Stephie


Eddie and Julianna! She threw 2 handfuls of rose petals, but then was distracted by the cranes!


Then it was my turn! I expected to cry the whole way down the aisle, but I was smiling too much to cry. I walked in, holding my dad's hand, to Enigma's Return to Innocence, a song we both love and felt was perfect.


Ben did not cry either, though it was close.
I have a lot of favorite pictures of him, but this one tops them all. Listening to the song again and looking at this picture, with him so caught up in the moment and my Dad there and our guys behind him I am crying now when I didn't then!