blog_banner 20

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hershey excursion.

Hershey Park 100 Year Anniversary.

I've come to conclusion that the best part to taking a trip is:

A. Getting there.


B. Coming home.

I finished going through our batch of photos from Hershey. Most are from Hershey Gardens. It is truly a lovely place to visit, with all kinds of little nooks to explore. The Children's Garden was especially nice, complete with Hershey Kiss shaped fountains and a butterfly house. Mark insists that Lauren took out no less than two butterflies during our visit. Oops.

Grecian garden.

Walking in Hershey Gardens.

More photos can be seen on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dutch wonderland?!

I'm writing to you from the "comforts" (And I use that term loosely) of the Red Roof Inn at Lancaster, PA. Lauren is taking a nap while Mark and I are sitting in the dark motel room taking advantage of the free wireless internet service.

So far, our little roadtrip (I would not call this a vacation, since vacations actually involve relaxing. There's nothing relaxing about traveling with a very strong willed two-year old.), has been very educational. For example, we have learned that the Pennsylania Dutch of Lancaster have to be one of the nation's most exploited people. Hopefully, there is a big Amish syndicate behind all the giftshops and tours that is making a few bucks off of this tourist trap. They deserve it as pay back for all the strip malls running through their farm land.

But we're not completely cynical. Yesterday, we stopped at Hershey to do the requisite Chocolate Factory Tour (While it has been updated to bring it into the 21st century, it remains much to my delight as I remember it, complete with simulated roasting oven and pumped in chocolate fragrance.). The tour exits into a enclave of gift shops, where Lauren immediately honed in on a little black and pink plastic Good and Plenty purse (Only $10!). I myself picked out a cute York Peppermint Patty t-shirt and a pretty mug. Mark got some free trial size Kissables.

Next, we stopped at Hershey Gardens. This was the pleasant surprise of our trip. Although it's probably not high on the list of spots to visit here, it should be. The sprawling gardens were the just the place to let loose an antsy two year old who had been in the car too long. Oh, and the flowers were darn pretty too.

Today, we visited Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park, which is basically one giant Kiddieland. Ironically, although I have ridden the major coasters at Cedar Point, I have never come as close as to getting sick on a ride as I have at Dutch Wonderland. The Turtle Whirl is sheer evil. Stay away from it.

After Lauren's nap, we're heading back to DW. I'll share photos of our when we return!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gone fishing.


Well, not exactly. We're taking Lauren up to Hershey for a couple of days. Be back on Thursday with tall tales to tell for sure.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Noah's big day.

Noah's baptism.

Yesterday, we attended our nephew Noah's baptism. The ceremony was held at St. Rosalia's Church, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Noah didn't make a peep during the entire ceremony, even when the priest held him high!

Noah's baptism.

Later in the day, we visited Great Grandma Gert, who is recovering at St. Vincentian Regency until the infection in her foot heals. The Regency is a rehabilitation home, but I kept teasing her that it was more like a spa. She was sporting a spiffy new haircut and had her nails done too.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

To Ligonier...again.

Clowning around in Ligonier.

Yesterday, we went back up to Ligonier for the second Antiques on the Diamond fair. It was incredibly hot, so we didn't stay very long.

By far, the highlight of the visit was the fact that The Toy Box had replaced the super-sized Playmobil king outside their store with a super-sized Playmobil clown. So naturally, we took photos.

The downer came a little while later, when I discovered that I forgot to load the memory card into the camera. If that didn't happen, I would be sharing with you right now photos of really neat old car with flames painted down its sides. And a recreation of this photo that we took last year. Oh, and the new birdhouse that mysteriously replaced this one.

Mark was especially indignant about the birdhouse situation. We can only assume the owners sold the old one for a tidy sum (I suggested that maybe the owners rotated their birdhouses, but Mark scoffed at the idea.).

In any event, more photos can be seen on Flickr.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

doop be doop...Elmo's World!

You may want to turn the sound down before you watch...she gets very spirited towards the end.

And since you sat through that, you deserve the cherry squares recipe:

Cream 1 cup margerine, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 4 eggs.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 cups of flour and blend. The batter will be quite thick.
Pour and spread into a jelly roll pan (In other words, a baking sheet with a lip).
Add spoonfuls of fruit topping of your choice ( I use cherry pie filling, but other canned / jarred fruit would work well. A friend of mine said his mom always used apricot preserves. This sounds tasty, but for me, apricot preserves are strictly meant for thumbprint cookies) on top of batter at about an inch or so apart (I usually get 5-6 rows of four). The fruit will sink into the batter as the cake bakes.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven (I reccommend checking at the 30 minute mark. I have an electric oven, and these are usually done at 30 minutes.).
Cool completely and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Cut into squares.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cherry squares and cherry soda (Or, why me and Mark were made for each other.).

When I was little, my mom used to make delicious cherry squares. When I grew up, I naturally wanted the recipe, but apparently, my mom lost it. One day several years ago, although I can't recall the exact details, I must have mentioned the cherry squares to my mom-in-law, because lo and behold she had the recipe!

I made a batch yesterday. The batter alone is so tasty that it's almost worth the risk of salmonella poisoning just to lick the bowl.

For the past month, The Pittsburgh History Series have been on a continuous loop on one of the extended WQED channels (For those who don't live in the area, that's our public television station.). One show is titled What Makes Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh. A particular segment features a local bottling company that makes old fashioned bottled soda.

With yesterday being such a rainy day, we were stuck indoors with little television watching options, so we switched on the Rick Sebak channel (He's the producer of the shows.).

And there, once again, was the segment on the bottling company. Mark turned to me and asked, "Where the heck is that place?"

I replied, "I looked up their website, but it seems that you can only buy their stuff on line."

Then he said, "I did too! There's a bunch of stores listed that I've never heard of, but they also sell it at Wholly's in the Strip District."

Well, look what I had waiting for me in the refrigerator when I arrived home today:

Old fashioned sodas.

We haven't tried the root beer yet, but the red pop is really good!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Presenting Eggie.

Newborn eggplant.

I worked a 12 hour day today, but since the veggie calzone that I ate for dinner left me feeling a little peppy tonight, I will update the ol' blog.

This year is the first time that Mark has grown eggplant. They seem to be doing very well, so hopefully we will have a large crop. This is Eggie, as Mark refers to him, as he appeared about a week ago. Since then, he has grown twice in size.

Eggplant is a real favorite around here. I like to bread and fry it to make eggplant sandwiches. I put it on asiago cheese bread with sliced tomato sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It is so very good.

Unfortunately, our bad streak of luck continued yesterday when our car started acting up on the commute home. Mark took it in for repairs today which cost us $800. I guess the money will just have to come out of Eggie's college fund.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let there be light. Please.


For those outside of our area, several severe storms crossed our path last Thursday, wreaking havoc on our neighborhood throughout the day. So when we arrived home from work, we were none too surprised to find that the power was out.

48 hours later, however, we were really surprised to find that the power was still out.

On the first night, we made the best of it by eating Subway sandwiches (The Subway within walking distance of our house had power), lighting lots of candles (Apparently, electric company officials advise against using candles in these situations, but if the colonials could manage it without burning down their homes, so could we.) and taking advantage of modern conveniences that run off of batteries (A laptop battery holds just enough charge to make it through Toy Story.). Unfortunately, there was little we could do about the sweltering heat and the incredible racket created by someone running a generator the next street over.

With little sleep and frayed nerves, I decided to take a vacation day on Friday. Lauren and I spent the day with my parents, because not only did we not have power, we no longer had phone service. My father had taken the day off as well, and around 1 o'clock we drove back to my house to assess the situation. Not only was the power still out, but poor Daisy had taken ill in our kitchen. After making sure that she was okay, we drove back to my parent's home to wait for Mark to finish work. We stopped at home again to find out that Grandma Gert, who was also without power, had fallen and was taken to the hospital to make sure she wasn't seriously injured.

That evening, we ate at Wendy's and went shopping at Target to kill time. This proved to be a bad decision, for afterwards, Lauren took a temper tantrum of major proportions because on the ride home, we wouldn't let her hold a storage basket that we had just purchased. After listening to her scream for a half an hour (She continued to wail once we returned home, even though at this point she could have went to sleep clutching the storage basket for all I cared.), I decided that for the sake of my sanity, Lauren and I would spend the night at my parents. Mark decided to rough it with Daisy at our house. On the ride to my parents house, we past a Get Go convenience store that had had just set up a generator. The sight was disquieting, as the owners must have had some insight into the length of the power outage for them to go through the trouble of renting a generator.

Hoping to take our mind off the situation, Mark picked the two of us up early Saturday morning to go to an antique fair. My heart really wasn't into it, so I don't have any photos or purchases to share.

After we were home, the power had finally returned. To celebrate, I took a three hour nap.

Aside from a priceless amount of aggravation, the power outage cost us roughly $50 - $75 in groceries as well as our microwave, which must have been damaged by an electrical surge. On all counts, we were very lucky, as we didn't have to cope with the major flood damage that affected so many people. And some are still without power today.

To top off our delightful weekend, today one of the tires on our car was punctured and rendered flat when Mark drove over a large screw lying at the end of our street.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm off to have some Double Fudge Brownie ice cream.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Everyone needs coasters.

Vegas coasters.

About a week ago, I tried making coasters from scratch using ceramic tiles and iron-on transfers. Now that we have a good side table we need to protect it, right? Why else would someone spend their free time trying to make coasters?

But like any project of mine that doesn't involve paper or a computer, it was a miserable failure. The iron-ons smeared, and the super-heated tiles gave off toxic fumes. You see, I'm really not a crafty person. I can't sew, knit or paint. In fact, I've proven that I can't even decoupage, which was my Plan B after the iron-on transfer turned my lovely photos into a blurry mess. I consider people that can do those kinds of things to possess a kind of craftiness that I can only dream about (Okay, maybe not decoupage). Anyway, if you need a few spare tiles for your bathroom, give me a call.

Using photos of various Las Vegas casinos that were taken during our honeymoon, I took the easy way out and decided to order coasters from Shutterfly. They must be good because Lauren spent the evening taking them off the table and strewing them about the living room, which I'm sure she'll do every night for the next 15 years. Hopefully, if she ever decides to have her friends over for a kegger some weekend when we're out for the evening, she will have enough good sense to make them use these coasters.

And since you were so kind as to read this far, I will reward you with a Lauren story. This weekend, we stopped at Walgreens to pick up some diapers. Lauren headed down the toy aisle, where she began to browse just as if she was working from her shopping list. First, she went to one side of the aisle picked up a bottle of bubbles and placed it under of her arm. Then, she went over to the other side of the aisle and picked out a small stuffed dog (Bubbles, check. One small dog, check.). I was debating on whether or not to give in and actually buy these things for her, but since the total cost of her purchases was $1.50, I figured that I could spot her the cash and then later deduct it out of her first allowance.

When we arrived home, she sat happily playing with the stuffed dog nearby. Mark sat down next to her and asked, "Hey Lauren, what's your dog's name?"

She paused for a moment as if to ponder it, and then replied, "Puff. This is Puff," as if it was the obvious answer.

We have no idea how she came up with the name Puff. With that kind of creativity at such a young age, she will most certainly grow up to be more crafty than her momma. Maybe I should save those ceramic tiles after all...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What makes us happy.

New hydrangea bushes.

On Monday, Mark called me on the way to pick me up from work. He sounded very chipper, which was odd because having to fight his way through traffic to come get me usually puts him a grim mood.

As soon as he pulled up, I realized why he was so happy. The entire back seat of our car was filled with hydrangeas.

My arsenal.

Inspired by some new finds, I decided to organize my cosmetics. The task was long overdue in my eyes, as I hadn't gone through my makeup in well over a year. This may seem mundane, but to me, organizing is a like creating a work of art. There aren't many things that I can claim without reservation that I excel at, but organizing would be included in that short list. And because of it, each morning of this week I've put on my makeup with a little more zeal.

Happy Lauren.

As for what makes us both happy, well, I think that's easy to see.