Friday, September 18, 2009

Before I run out the door...

Hubby and I are leaving Monday for the trip of a lifetime. We're going on a brewery/pub tour of Germany and the Czech Republic. All told, we will be gone 13 days and visit Frankfurt, Bamberg, Berchestgaden and Munich (for Oktoberfest) in Germany and Pilsn, Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Our tour caters to those who appreciate good beer. Hubby is beside himself with joy. I am excited beyond belief to be going on my first trip to Europe. I make no promises, but MAYBE I'll post some pics to the blog while we're there. :-)

In the meantime, Hubby and I received a call from the builder for our new house last week. Someone had canceled their house and the builder was offering us their slot. That means instead of being ready in March or April, our new house will be ready in January or February! :-) Hubby and I ran over to the design center last Saturday to chose the brick we wanted so that it can be ordered. While we were there, we also picked our kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring. :-) We've narrowed the carpet down for the rest of the house. :-)

Trip to Europe. New house. :-) Feeling pretty blessed right now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Heartbreaking Reality

Not sure if you guys have heard about this one - children grow up.

I do not have children. Hubby and I decided years ago that the world would be no worse in the absence of human Butler Brats, but could possibly be worse with the addition thereof. So I don't know first hand the excitement and heartbreak of raising a child.

I do, however, know how heartbreaking it is to watch a child you love grow up. My sister has two beautiful daughters. I am their only aunt - for the most part their only extended family period. I consider being an aunt to be one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me. Being a part of Mirney and Carebear's lives is a wonderful privilege. I watched them play t-ball as little bitty girls; watched them perform in the city's dramatic society. I've gone to band and orchestra concerts, Girl Scout dance recitals, helped to sell cookies and raffle tickets. I've taken them shopping, taken them to get their hair done or to get a makeover. I've taken them to see sandcastles on the beach. They made beautiful additions to my bridal party. I have not been in their lives every day, but I like to think that I have at least been a fixture in their lives.

I was a junior in high school when my oldest niece, Mirney, was born and was pretty much still a child myself. She was a wee tiny little thing at 21 inches yet less than 6 pounds. When Mirney was about 13 months old, my sister brought her family back to Houston and moved in "down the road a piece" from my mother and myself. Carebear was born just nine months later. We were constant babysitters. :-) I have tons of fond memories of throwing them in the air as children, taking them to parks and playing silly games on the living room floor.

How is any of that heartbreaking? Last Sunday, Mirney turned sixteen. She's still a funny and silly girl (which I TOTALLY love and hope she never outgrows), but she isn't so much into sitting on the floor playing silly games anymore. She doesn't believe the crazy, whacked-out stories I make up anymore. In just a few short years, she will be old enough to vote and will be going off to college and to start her own life. Her baby sister will be just 22 short months behind her. They've gone from being kids I carried on my hip to kids that are taller than I am. From having sweet little rolls of baby fat, to being elegantly thin and statuesque young women. Where'd the time go?

Mirney was a such a TINY baby!

Carebear, known in my family as the mini version of me. :-)

The two most beautiful kids in the world! (I am NOT biased!!)

Mirney on the left, Carebear on the right.
Now two of the most gorgeous and sweet young ladies ever...

One with their very, very short aunt...

And last, but not least, one that makes my heart warm and fuzzy...
TREEHUGGERS!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm Ba-ack!

I have no excuses. I am merely a slacker. I have been putting off updating the blog simply because I didn’t want to try to remember what all we’ve been up to. So! I’ve decided not to give you a blow by blow of the last month and a half and to merely pick up as if my last entry was made yesterday. I swear that I WILL post the Heartattack On A Plate recipe (with pictures), but it’s not going to be today. :-)
The garden is for the most part in shambles right now. We’re in a bit of a drought down here in the Houston area and watering the whole garden daily is just not plausible. The jalapenos are still growing like gangbusters as are the bell peppers and the new set of corn. Everything else is screaming in agony and praying for rain. I can’t tell you how disappointing that is, because before the onset of the ridiculous heat and lack of water, the garden was doing SO WELL!! I miss my little backyard oasis. :-( Hopefully the heat will slack off soon and I can start planning a fall garden.
You may or may not remember that our house was damaged during last year’s hurricane Ike. Our roof FINALLY got replaced this past weekend – just eleven short months after Ike blew through. Since Hubby and I are planning to move to the “the big house” next spring, we are currently working on a long list of fixes for the current house. Right now we are painting the exterior of the house. I was amazed at how exhausting that is. Of course, I’m sure that is directly related to the aforementioned scalding heat.
So, the next few weeks will be busy weeks with most of our weekend time devoted to house projects. Hubby and I will then be going to Germany for a few weeks! The last three or four years, we have dreamed of a trip to Germany (me because I’ve never been to Europe, Hubby because he wants to go to Munich’s Oktoberfest). After watching the rate for the tour we wanted to take go up steadily over the years, this year we decided to just bite the bullet. :-) It might not be the smartest way to spend that much money right now, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.
So that’s where we’re at right now. Hopefully over the next couple days/weeks, I can post more about the fun stuff we’ve been up to (brewery events, Broadway shows, baseball games, etc). I seriously hope the slackerism is behind me now. :-) Sorry I let you down!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Abbey's Hundred Dollar Flatus

I think I've mentioned before that Abbey is our vet-lover. Well, she got us again today.
Golden Retrievers are very prone to a nasty condition called "bloat." If you've ever read "Marley and Me," you know that labs are also prone to bloat and that Marley was a bloat statistic. With bloat, a dog's stomach essentially turns itself in a knot and they swell up and their stomach is hard as a rock. They can die within hours. So that's a primer on bloat...
Last night, Hubby and I had some friends over for a little party. Hubby has a very nice smoker in the backyard and decided to make a brisket and a beer butt chicken. I contributed a heart-attack inducing "Bacon Explosion" log that I'll blog about tomorrow. Like most grills, the smoker has a drip can at the bottom to catch all the bits of grease that are released during cooking. Last night, we caught Abbey snout deep in that can. We knew she'd have an upset tummy today and we weren't surprised by some vomiting and loose stool. I was a little surprised to find the stupid animal snout deep in the grease again this morning though. After a severe scolding, I didn't let her out without supervision the rest of the day. Hubby and I were not at all surprised that she kept drinking a lot of water. Abbey is part camel anyway, and after eating all that grease, we couldn't blame her for trying to wash it down.
Then about 3, Hubby mentioned that she looked bloated to him. I went into the hall where she was laying and agreed 100%. She looked like she'd gained 20 pounds in just a few hours. I went over and started feeling her belly to discover that it was hard as a rock. Hubby and I debated for about 3 minutes what to do and then loaded her up for a trip to the emergency vet; we just could not risk it being bloat.
Animal emergency rooms are a lot like human emergency rooms. You spend a lot of time sitting around being ignored and they charge a lot of money. Two and a half hours later,while being totally ignored in an exam room, Abbey let off a few flatus that had us opening the door so we could breath. Then she stood up and we noticed that the floor under her tail was wet (not brown or gross looking, just wet). We figured we'd been there a while and she might need to pee, so we took her outside where she proceeded to pee twice and at considerable length. She also seemed to lose 10 pounds before our very eyes. Whilst we were outside, a vet tech told us the vet was NOW ready to see us. We told him about the grease and the water and that she'd just gone to the bathroom like a racehorse and that she looked and acted much happier now, thank-you-very-much. He said that she most likely drank too much water after her grease snack and the combination of the gas from the grease and the overindulgence of water had made her bloat up like a water buffalo. Hubby and I were like "Ya think???" The vet told us to bring her home and monitor her food and water intake tonight and tomorrow. He then proceeded to give us a bill for $103. Yes, that's right. We paid $100 for our dog to take 3 hours to fart at the emergency vet. :-) Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Drumroll Please!!

I've been meaning to post about this for two weeks, but haven't found the time or the words. Or maybe I was just afraid that if I put it out on the World Wide Web, I would wake up to find it had just been a dream...
Hubby and I put down earnest money on a new house!!!!!!!!!!!! After looking at houses for months and months and convincing myself we would never actually move, I am shocked at how quickly a decision was made when the right house came along. We are going with the builder/home/neighborhood I eluded to before. We both loved the layout of the house, the garage is to die for and the backyard might be big enough for a new HUGE garden for me and just maybe a pool. Apparently Cervelle Homes has not been hit by the housing recession I keep hearing about in the news...they've got so many houses on order they won't even be starting ours until NOVEMBER!!! They said their process takes about 5 months to complete a house, so we won't get to actually move into our new home until next spring, likely in March or April. But STILL! We're getting a new house!!! A great big, beautiful, brand new home! I am so thrilled I can barely stand myself.
I am also thankful that we've got some time before the house will be ready. Our current home is STILL suffering from damage caused by hurricane Ike. TWIA is still refusing to pay for the proper repairs. Even once we get a new roof, Hubby and I want to replace some, if not all, of the siding and repaint this house. So, though I desperately want to move like yesterday, it is good that the new Butler abode will not be ready for a while. Not to mention that the new place is quite literally more than twice the size of our current house, so I think Hubby and I are going to need to do some shopping. :-)

Our new home!!!
You'll have to excuse the following mess. I was having a very hard time downloading the floorplan off the builder's website...

Half the downstairs...
The other half...don't ask me, I don't know why it did that...

Hubby is beside himself with excitement over the new garage. It's four cars with a "barn" style room over the entire area and a porte cochere (covered parking for wifey who refuses to park in the garage). You have the option of having the room above the garage finished out or trying to do it yourself. Hubby and I actually somewhat enjoy house projects, so we've opted to finish it out ourselves. We're thinking ginormous guest suite. There's almost 1200 square feet above the garage which is not that much smaller than our current house!

So that's the good news! I'm sure I will bore you with ad nauseam talk of furniture and cabinet/counter/tile choices over the next few months. On the plus side, maybe I'll shut up about my garden. ;-) Actually, I wonder where the graph paper is...I want to start laying out the veggie garden for the new place... ;-)

closing note: I tried one of the spicy bread and butter pickles before it went into the canner. YUM-O!!! I am so terribly impressed with myself. If you're a fan of bread and butter pickles and want to give them a shot, lemme know!! :-)

A Flyby Posting

Hubby and I had corn tonight from the garden. He thinks we let it stay on the stalks too long as it was somewhat chewy. Another lesson learned. I'll be ripping the used up stalks out of the ground tomorrow and putting in some new ones. I'm determined to get some corn!
Other things are growing like crazy right now. I'm currently making my first ever batch of PICKLES!!!! We got quite a few cucumbers off the plants this past week, and I don't want them to go bad. The recipe I'm using says I should come out with about 4 pints. We'll see. My very first pickle attempt ever is Spicy Bread and Butter pickles. I am a pickle fanatic while Hubby can live without them, so there's a good chance that if they're edible, I'll be offering you some. The cucumbers are still growing like crazy, so I'm sure this will not be my only batch of pickles this year. I plan to try a couple different recipes and find one I love.
The newly planted green and wax beans are doing very well. They're probably about 4 inches tall already. We've had a bit of a dry spell down here, so I've been watering them at least every other day. :-( The squash plants are also doing well so far.
I know I've promised an update (and we've got some really exciting news), but the timer is going off on the pickles. Told you it was a flyby! I'll try to post more tomorrow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Changes in the Garden

Sorry it's been a while. Life has been hectic, especially the last week. I have been taking tons of pictures, intending to update the blog, yet haven't found the time to actually do it.

Last weekend, I FINALLY got around to doing some of the replanting in the garden. The green and wax beans had given their all and it was time for them to come out. I went ahead and took out the snowpeas too since we'd only gotten about 1 1/2 cups of pods from it and the plant was really starting to look miserable. The temp here in southeast Texas has been in the nineties lately and snowpeas REALLY don't like the heat. The lettuce plants had all gone to seed, so they had to be ripped out too and put in the compost pile.
What a mess! The snowpeas are the tall brown things at the front of the pic. The lettuces in the back have clearly gone to seed and need to be ripped out. That cabbage was also attacked by caterpillers while we were in the Hill Country for our anniversary, and needed to come out.All the way on the right are the cucumber plants. Beside those are the green and wax beans. We got a LOT of beans from these plants and they had stopped flowering, so we figured they'd given us their all and took them out.

One of the principle ideas with Square Foot Gardening is that you never plant the same "crop" in the same square two times in a row. You want to give the soil a chance to recover whatever nutrient that particlular plant leaches from the soil before you put any back in that spot. So, here's what went where with the new plants:

Where the green and wax beans were, we now have carrots and radishes planted. Radishes in particular aren't normally a summer plant, but the cucumbers create a lot of shade, so I'm hoping we can trick the plants into thinking it's not really summer. :-)
Where the lettuces were, we now have more green beans and wax beans. The great thing about the beans is that they'll not only grow in the summer, but you can plant 9 bean plants per square foot. So, in a three foot by one foot space, I have 27 bean plants!! YUM YUM YUM!!!
Since the last cabbage was eaten by bugs and the snowpeas needed to come out, a LOT of space was freed up in the one bed. Since I figured I might never get that kind of square footage again, I broke down and planted Yellow squash and zucchini. Squashes take need roughly 9 sq ft EACH to grow and produce, which is why I wasn't planning to plant any. I only have 33 square feet total and I didn't want to commit that much space to any one plant. So, I gave each plant about 6 square feet, so we'll see how it goes.

The two big spaces are where the squashes are planted. That lone plant on the left is the one carrot I managed to grow so far this year. :-) The three squares up front are the green and wax beans. To the right are some strawberry plants and the corn (still going strong with six ears growing).
It was hard to get a good pic of the other bed... in this pic you can see the empty squares to the right of the cucumbers. Next to that are the onions which are still growing like gangbusters, the marigolds which apparently LOVE the soil and have gotten stupidly big, and some of the herbs. I got tired of fighting a losing battle to keep the cilantro contained and from going to seed (it grew new flowers every single day), so I ripped it up and planted some new seeds. Hopefully we'll be back in cilantro within a month or so.

This last weekend, I had enough tomatoes to make some homemade spaghetti sauce. We got roughly 2.5 quarts of sauce, which we've already gone through. :-)
We also managed to harvest two of these:
Bell Peppers
And six of these:
Yesterday, when I went out to water and weed, I also saw three of these guys and picked them (these grew in about 4 days, I kid you not. They were barely more than flowers last weekend and now they're five inches long!!):
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PICKLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I noticed this morning that the squashes and beans are already sprouting. Guess there's one good thing about the heat down here. Seeds germinate quickly! :-)

And now, I leave you with a funny pic from this past week. Hubby was laying on the couch in a spot Rion normally considers his. Daddy's head did not deter my boy at all! He just sat right down on it! I threated Hubby with murder if he moved before I got my camera. Knew you guys would appreciate the giggle! ENJOY!!!

I've got a lot more to tell you about, but this is a long post and I need to start being productive today. I'll try and get in a mid-week post in the next few days so I can catch up with all the news and info. :-) Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

He's Building a Spreadsheet! Hope is ALIVE!!

You may remember that a few months back, I went looking at model homes with my very, very good friend, Li'l Boss. Boy did that really set the ball rolling. I have since been obsessing over different builders and their online floor plans, desperate to find a new home for the Butler clan. Flash back to Easter, and we were on our way to some friends' house for dinner and I saw off the road a new developement going in that I hadn't heard of before. A few weeks later, I deliberately drove by the neighborhood again to see what it was called, and see if I could find out who the developer was. A few weeks after that, I again talked Li'l Boss into going with me to check out their model homes. Both their models were single stories, and I definately want a two story, so we asked at the front desk if they had some inventory homes available to see. Li'l Boss and I then ran around the neighborhood for over an hour with a key, letting ourselves into every inventory house they had. :-D House shopping is fun! Anyway, I found THE house!! With THE garage! In THE neighborhood! Two weeks ago, I managed to talk Hubby into driving through the neighborhood to see what he thought. This past weekend, he went with me to see three of the inventory homes (I wanted to see which one he liked best of my fave three) and he liked the same house as me!! :-) Being very familiar with the way my Hubby works, when we got home, I tried my best not to ask him what he thought or bug him about it at all. I lasted 12 whole hours!! ;-) Yesterday, I noticed that he had moved the pamphlet of information about the homes from the dining table to his desk in the study, so I had to ask him if he'd been looking at it. I got the best answer anyone married to Hubby could ask for!!! "I'm looking through the information and BUILDING A SPREADSHEET" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! That is Round Two, folks!!! Hubby is very methodic about making decisions, which is good because I normally run around with my hair on fire making snap decisions. Over the years, he's rubbed off on me somewhat and I've applied a lot of his techniques to this house search. I actually have a spreadsheet myself of different developers and the features of the floorplans I like. I've done all the initial research and now it is up to Hubby to bring it home (literally). :-) And it looks like he's game!!!! :-) The neighborhood we're looking at is in our current town, but on the other side of the tracks, so to speak. It has more than twice the square footage of our current home and the builder is opening a new section of the developement in the next month or so, which will free up some big lots to build on. Hubby and I are looking into taxes, insurance, fees, etc and will hopefully be ready to put earnest money down on a lot when the builder opens the new section. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!! I will keep you posted on the house journey as it progresses. I can't believe this may really happen. :-D

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Still Alive

Yes, I am still alive. And more importantly, so is the garden!
Last weekend, Hubby and I harvested these MONSTER cabbage heads, some wax beans, green beans and tomatoes. We used two of the heads of cabbage to make sauerkraut. We've still got one head in the fridge to make MORE sauerkraut (cuz you know, we didn't just give away a quart size jar to the Petersons), and I made Polish Golabkis (pronounced Hah-lup-key) with the other one. What's a Golabki? It's a divine stuffed cabbage roll. I LOVED the meat filling that went into these. I'm planning to use it in lots of other recipes. :-) WHY Golabkis? Hubby's family has Hungarian roots and several of the foods he ate as a child (and considers comfort food now) are Eastern European, whether it be Hungarian or Polish. Since we had the cabbages, I figured "why not try something new?" Recipe at the bottom of the post...
This weekend, we got 9 more tomatoes (with tons more still ripening on the vine), more beans, a head of iceberg lettuce, quite a bit of green leaf lettuce, our very first strawberry EVER and all kinds of things flowering.
BEANS! I am an absolute green bean fanatic (and a new wax bean fanatic), so I can't tell you how ecstatic I am with the bean "crop" coming out of my backyard! I personally like to cook my beans with a little bit of garlic salt and beef bouillon. I know it sounds crazy, but the bouillon gives it that meaty flavor that southerners love without the bacon or ham hock.
Iceberg lettuce! It's kind of funny - I don't remember planting iceberg lettuce. :-) But that is definitely what this is. Maybe there was a rogue seed? Maybe I didn't keep good records? Either way, we'll eat it!!
Our very, very first ever, in six years of planting gardens, STRAWBERRY! I can't tell you how much money has been spent on strawberry plants that went down Abbey's hatch before they ever had a chance. I personally ate this berry yesterday and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good! Super sweet and juicy. Unfortunately, it might be our only berry this year. None of the other plants have any flowers on them and Hubby just recently informed me that strawberries are perennial. He said that we were unlikely to get any fruit this year, but the harvest next year would be pleasing. :-( I want berries NOW!!! :-( I will try to be patient and wait for next year. In the mean-time, if I see any more flowers on the plants this year, I am going to do the world's biggest happy dance. :-)
What? Did I take a picture of a Muppet?? NO! That's one of our corn plants! Hubby is currently calling them Dwarf Corns, cuz they're only about 3 1/2 ~ 4 feet tall and they already have tassels on the tops and silk forming. :-) After it's incredibly slow start, we might actually get corn this year! So far, of the 3 corns planted, two have "flowers" with silk. The other one is considerably smaller than the other two, so hopefully it'll catch up.
Our jalapeno plant is also doing well. There's probably about 12 peppers on it right now with 2 that are near picking stage. :-)
After the RIDICULOUSLY slow start that the snowpeas had this year, I was pretty sure we wouldn't get anything from them, but today I saw several of these flowers. I'll be cautiously optimistic for now. :-) I would LOVE to get some snow peas!
SO! That's your "Farm" report for today. In place of the cabbages we picked last week, we have only planted a Poblano pepper so far. I know! I'm disappointed in us too! I have some broccoli transplants that I might try to get in the ground tomorrow. I also need to start more seeds for beans (green and wax again), radishes, carrots and maybe some more cucumbers. I'll let you know!
And now...

1 small cabbage
olive oil for drizzling
1 jar spaghetti sauce
salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the filling:
1/2 c long grain rice
1/4 c chopped mushrooms
2 T butter
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg
2 t chopped fresh parsley (yes, I used garden)

1) Cook rice according to package directions. Once the rice is cooked, drain and rinse under cold water to prevent it from cooking further or clumping.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until golden brown.
3) Add the pork, beef, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the meat is browned all over, then removed from the heat and cool slightly.
4) Bring a stock pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the whole cabbage for 10-15 minutes, or until you can insert a knife into the center easily, but the leaves are not too soft (I found it was easier to cook the cabbage evenly to put the lid slightly ajar on the pot - it trapped in the steam. Took 20 mins.). Lift the cabbage out of the water and leave to cool slightly. (I'm not real patient, so I rinsed mine in cold water until I could handle it)
5) Preheat the oven to 375. Add the rice, egg, nutmeg and parsley to the meat mixture and stir to combine well.
6) When it is cool enough to handle, separate the cabbage into individual leaves. Use the tough outer leaves to line a 13 x 9 inch pan. Drizzle with olive oil.
7) Place a spoonful of the meat mixture in the center of each of the remaining leaves, folding over the edges and rolling to form a tight package.
8) Arrange the rolls in a single layer on the oiled cabbage leaves in the dish. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the top and dot the remaining tablespoon of butter on top. Cover the dish with foil.
9) Cook in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until the rolls are tender. Serve immediately with spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce on top.
The recipe initially called for a can of diced tomatoes. Hubby and I both thought they were somewhat lacking, so we heated up some spaghetti sauce and served that over them instead. YUMMY!!!! If you want to be "authentic," skip the spaghetti sauce in the above recipe and use a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes. Trust me though...spaghetti sauce...YUM....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Part 2 of 'Whirlwind Weekends "

This past weekend, Hubby and I were amazingly honored to be named Godparents for our little nephew, Peanut. I think it shows some truth faith from Hubby's sister cuz I don't know if I'd let me raise a kid. ;-) Seriously, we were incredibly honored and proud to hold Peanut in front of the whole family and promise to do our best by him. Peanut is my first nephew and Hubby's first niece OR nephew. Hubby is very, very smitten with the little guy and already talking about fishing trips when Peanut gets older and taking him to see the New York Yankees play baseball. Peanut is currently 6 months old, so I think we have a little while till then. :-)
I'm afraid I can't post any pics of the little guy right now. I totally forgot to ask my sis-in-law for permission to put her baby on the world wide web and I have a pretty strick rule with myself about such things. Take my word for it that he is adorable and has a great big "let me eat yer face" kind of smile. Totally cute and adorable!
My own nieces, Mirney and Carebear are going to be up in Peanut's neck of the woods pretty soon. They've spent the better part of a year trying to raise money to go to a dance-camp kind of thing in New York City with their drill-team squad. They're 15 and 14, so I'm sure they're just THRILLED with hitting the Big Apple next month. I still get a thrill every time I go into the city and I hope they love it as much as I do. While they're there, they'll be taking in all the sights, going to a Broadway musical and then...OMG how exciting...they get to do a dance workshop with the Rockettes!!! I wish I could go with them just to check that out. Hopefully they take lots of pics. :-)
Anywho! Back to our crazy, whirlwind weekend! Hubby and I flew into Philadelphia around noon on Friday and immediately went to the "best beer hall in Philly" - Monk's Cafe. Most of their beers were Belgium, which I can live without, but I did find a lovely little beer that I enjoyed immensley - Philadelphia Brewing Company's "Rowhouse Red" - a very nice little "bierre da mars" - which apparently translates to Farmhouse Ale. :-) After sipping our brew and enjoying some gourmet grub, we abandoned Philly for Allentown, the home of Hubby's youth. Hubby's folks called us on the way there and told us to pick up his two crazy-fun grandmothers and meet them at the local pub for dinner. I was so seriously not even remotely hungry, but I managed to choke down a Greek salad and an iced tea. Hubby devoured two beers and a Philly cheesesteak. :-) That's my man! After dinner with Mom, Dad, Mammy, Grandma and Aunt Janet, Hubby and I went over to Aunt Janet's house to meet her two new dogs. If you remember back to the start of this blog, we took our dogs over to Aunt Janet's house at Christmas to play with her two pooches Blanca (Toy Fox Terrier) and Mocha (Cock-a-poo). Aunt Janet recently welcomed the most adorable Jack Russel Terrier (Eddie) and Pug (Dexter) into her family. We stayed over there for quite a while getting a puppy breath fix. After Janet's house, Hubby and I finally made it to Mom and Dads' and called it a night.
The next morning, we woke up early, packed our bags again and we all headed for Montrose, PA (one stoplight folks!). We stopped on the way for donuts and coffee. Donuts were Mom's idea, coffee was mine! :-) When we rolled into Montrose, we met up with our brother-in-law (Peanut's Dad, Folly) and he took us out to a friend's property on the outskirts of town to do a little pond fishing. I've never touched a fishing pole in my life and I will not lie and say I was a natural. It took me a full 30 minutes to figure how to cast the bait without killing anyone around me. Hubby and Dad did pretty well. No one caught anything worth keeping, but they seemed to catch more fish than the rest of us combined. After fishing, we went back to Sis-and Bro-in-laws house for some pizza. Folly was having a busy weekend himself. His mom was being honored by the Montrose Chamber of Commerce as the Citizen of the Year that evening and Folly was supposed to sing at the event. We stayed at their house playing with Peanut until right before the dinner, then excused ourselves back to the hotel for a little siesta and then some dinner ourselves. By the way, if you should ever find yourself in Montrose, PA you need to do two things: you need to stay at the Rosemont Inn and you need to go to The Sweet Spot - FANTASTICALLY yummy chocolate! After dinner, Hubby and I met back up with Folly and Bozo (I did NOT give my sis-in-law this nickname and I only use it because I don't like using real names on this blog). We then proceeded to paint the town of Montrose red. We hit two of the three bars before crawling back to bed at 2 a.m. The next morning, we got up, made ourselves as presentable as possible and went to the church to become Godparents. Hubby and I had no idea what to expect, as neither of us is in any way Catholic. I'm pretty sure we both look terrified in the pics.. A reception at the in-laws house followed with a parade of people (I swear it was the whole town) coming through to see the newly baptized Peanut. After everyone had gone and cleanup was through, we were back in the car and back to Allentown. :-( I would've enjoyed spending a little more time with Bozo, Folly and Peanut, but hopefully Hubby and I can get back up there another time this year. Hate to think that we won't see Peanut again until he's walking. :-(
Monday was mostly busy helping Mom and Dad mulch their flowerbeds and then flying back home. Houston was having some pretty nasty weather that night, so our plane did some circling at 20,000 feet and then ended up setting down in San Antonio for a half hour while we waited for the storms to pass. Hubby and I made it back to H-town at ten; just in time to play with the Brats, take a shower, go to bed and get up again for another week of work.
After the last two crazy weekends, I can't tell you how glad I am that we have virtually nothing planned this weekend! The garden is in desperate need of attention, so we'll likely spend most of tomorrow in the backyard. Sunday, my pseudo-niece, Smiley, is turning three and I'm planning to go to her birthday party. I bought her this really annoying toy that dances and sings. Mwa ha ha ha ha! :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

San Fran Fan!

The first in our "whirlwind weekends" series! Hubby was sent to NASA's Ames Research Center for work the week of April 13-17. Since the company was already footing the bill for his airfare and the hotel through Friday, I decided to buy a ticket and join him for a long weekend the 16-19. We spent Thursday evening and Friday morning in San Jose, California and then took the CalTrain up to San Francisco Friday evening through Sunday. Tied House brewpub in San Jose. A very nice hefeweisen to be had here! Pretty cool little brewpub. Completely different than most you see in Texas or Colorado. Ames Research Center. Hubby took me on-site at Ames to check out the wind tunnels.
Winchester Mystery House. This was definately one of my suggestions, but Hubby seemed to enjoy it as well.
The Winchester Mystery House
21st Amendment Brewpub in San Francisco. Arguable the BEST hefeweisen I've ever had in my life. Hubby and I stopped in here on our trolley-car way to a San Francisco Giants game.
Hubby getting all artsy-fartsy with his beer pics. ;-)
The Bay Bridge
AT&T Park - home of the San Francisco Giants
Baseball fans. :-)
Ghiradelli square early Saturday morning. They had a special: buy a chocolate filled croisant, get a free coffee. YUM! I LOVE San Francisco!

Cable cars are ridiculously cute! I think they signified San Francisco more to me than the Golden Gate bridge! LOVE me some cable cars!
Lombard Street - "the crookedest street in the world"
Lombard Street
While we were walking through Chinatown, we noticed a large group of people in one of the alleyways. They were having a "Art in the Alley" festival complete with a parade. We got some delicious egg rolls from a street vender and watched the "dragons" pass us by.
San Francisco Brewing Company. This brewpub is set up in a turn-of-the-century bar in Little Italy. The bar was a masterpiece of wood carving. Loved the ambiance and the beer wasn't bad either!
Coit Tower - the view from the top was awesome. The ride up in the old fashioned, operator-controlled lift was a little claustrophobic and hectic...especially with the piped in music playing "Free Falling" by Tom Petty. :-)
Alcatraz as seen from Coit Tower
We had planned to visit the Golden Gate Bridge Saturday afternoon, but while we were at Coit Tower, we could see the fog rolling in. And BOY was it rolling! A truly amazing site!
Hubby and I enjoying the best Irish Coffees either of us had ever had at Buena Vista in Ghiradelli Square Saturday night. I was doubtful about the "famous Irish coffee" at a place with a Spanish sounding name, but I can easily see how they got to be famous. I do not like whiskey and these things were GOOD! The highlight of the trip for me? Other than just getting away with Hubby for a quick weekend, I would have to say the SEA LIONS!!!! We made it over to Pier 39 to check out the wild sea lions that congregate there. I could've stood there for hours!
Yup! I'm a nerd!