Monday, November 30, 2009

On Frozen Pond.....

Melinda and I had a great weekend up at the cabin this weekend. It was a "girls" weekend and we were going to work on a secret OSL Christmas project (details to be revealed after Christmas). The "girls" included me, Melinda, Shugs and Chloe! The dogs love to go to the cabin and do quite well on the 4.5 to 5 hour trip up. Chloe (nicknamed "Knee Wart"), of course, sits in Melinda's lap and Shugs lays in her bed in the back....both snooze.

We had a little bit of a problem getting the water turned on, but had an even bigger problem getting the cabin warm! The winds were whipping outside at 20 mph and the wind chill was 21 degrees. Melinda got the woodstove going quickly, but with all of the rain they'd had up in the mountains, the cabin was cold and didn't warm up until around 2 AM, when we finally fell asleep snuggled in robes that had been warmed by the heater.

The next morning, we awoke to this....
....yep, that's a frozen pond. At least it was the only thing that was frozen! Remember this trip?The "big freeze" weekend last year was actually the same weekend this year!

The dogs just love going to the cabin.....once we pull onto the dirt road up to the cabin, both of their heads are up and the noses are going full speed. The scents of the mountain are familiar ones now and neither of them can wait to take their noses out of the air and put them to the ground!

Shugs has also gotten used to her "morning walks". Dennis takes her up and down the mountain every morning and she loves it. Well, Saturday morning she gave me a little time to drink my coffee, but after that she was ready to go for her walk and she wouldn't stop nudging my leg until I put the second cup down and took her. She waited patiently while I put shoes on and put a coat over my PJs.....and then she was off!

It's a wonder she doesn't run into a tree because he head is down the entire time. She stops here and there to sniff a little deeper and sometimes gets a little ahead of me,

but always stops and turns to make sure I'm still there.
It is such a cute sight.....this little white, fluffy dog that looks like she should be sitting on a fluffy pillow with tassels just struts up and down the mountain looking for animal adventures.

Once, when Dennis was walking her, they went up a pretty steep mountain that had been recently cleared. Shugs got about 15 yards ahead of Dennis and she was obviously on the trail of something. All of a sudden a deer came up out of the brush and Shugs went up on her hind legs and toppled down the hill backwards. I think she aged a couple of years after that!

She spends most of her days sitting on our front porch waiting for a squirrel or bunny to show itself, then she moves very slowly toward it......she has no idea that she is white...and they can clearly see her, although every now and then she does get close. But the animals up at the cabin aren't little bunnies or squirrels. There aren't any lions or tigers, but the newest sign down the road from the cabin is this:

There is a black cat that hangs out on the mountain and Shugs had her cornered once.....that was fun! Melinda has seen a fox and God only knows what else is out there! In the meantime, Shugs spends most of her cabin weekends sitting on the porch.....waiting....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Results Are In!!!

First let me say, "Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!" It was a wonderful day....some of us are snoozing with our bellies full, but I knew I had to get this post in before I could close my eyes.

As some of you may have heard, today was not only was also the First Annual Thanksgiving Throwdown. It was a last minute thing that Dennis and I came up with the other night after watching Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Pie Throwdown. Since we were having Thanksgiving dinner with Melinda and Brad, I called her to see what she thought of the idea....she was definitely on board!

I called some friends of ours, Kraig and LeeAnn Sullivan, to see if they would be able to be our judges....and they were on board!

All that was left to do was to pick our recipes, gather our ingredients and bake!

We didn't make it easy for Kraig and LeeAnn......there were some wonderful entries and all were delicious.

I made a classic pumpkin pie, as did Jessica and Adam......they brought his mother's recipe and it was to die for! Dennis opted to make a pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust, a pecan struesel and a filling enriched with bourbon and was so rich and full of flavor! Anna made a devil's food, pumpkin cake with a pecan was WOW!!! And Melinda made a pumpkin cheesecake....the Cheesecake Factory should pay her for her recipe as it was fabulous.

After Kraig and LeeAnn arrived, we set plates in front of them with samplings of each of the sweets and they took their first bite. Kraig pronounced the winner after his first bite....hey, no fair! LeeAnn wanted to taste more! We all watched them as they sampled each entry, then left them alone to make their decision. It actually took a little longer than I thought it would, but then again, I knew they had their work cut out for them.

Soooo......who was the winner?
Congratulations, Melinda!!!! (Of course, you know she did her "happy dance"!!!

After that, we decided to have Kraig and LeeAnn's son, Bryce, do the drawing to determine next years "dish"...............he drew SOUP!

We plan to "fine tune" this a little so that judging will be a little easier. My first thought was a lobster HOW do you compare a lobster bisque with a chicken soup....or a butternut squash soup. We have a year to figure out the details. In them meantime, you're ALL invited to join us.....either to share in the fun or to bring your own entry! It really was fun and we're all excited about our new tradition! See you next year? We even have a trophy!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day Trippin'................

If you haven't had a chance to get up to Williamsburg in a while, then you may have been missing out on a great treat! I had been wanting to go to the Williamsburg Farmer's Market since I'd read about it on a cooking blog that I can no longer find and since I thought it was the last weekend (only open on Saturdays), I rushed to get out of the house and get there before it closed at 12:30 (yep, I'm a late riser...). It was a beautiful drive up, although alot of the color is gone. I quickly found a parking spot and sprinted over to Merchants Square with only an hour to spare!

It really was a wonderful time.....the vendors are all so different and all so friendly! There were plenty of baked goods,

meats, apples,
homemade soups and sandwiches,beautiful crafts,
fresh pastas

and sauces, cheeses,
homemade soaps,

herbs and vegetables.

It wasn't quite as large as my favorite market at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, but that could be because it's late in the season. I'll let you know once I become a regular here...

I also took a little time to drive around to soak in the "Williamsburg" culture....I just love that place!

Even when I was young (a looong time ago!) I always felt a connection to Williamsburg. It's so beautiful, but I most love it in the fall and in the winter.
And right now it's decorated for Christmas, which I especially love!!!

If you haven't checked out the Williamsburg Farmers Market, there is still a chance!!! Their website says they're open on November 28th and December 12th, but one of the vendors said they'd be open on December 5th, also. I'd call ahead to make sure about the December dates before going.....maybe I'll see you there!!I can't wait to go back next spring and summer.....I can only dream of the wonderful veggies, herbs, etc., that will make their way back to my kitchen!!! ~~~~dreaming now~~~~

Oh wait....I forgot to show you what I got!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ida Done It....But....

...we had a great time anyway!!! For those of you who live right here in the Seven Cities, you know exactly who "Ida" is! She's that Nor'Easter that sat right on top of us for 3 (as in "THREE") days and dumped 8 to 10 inches of rain on our heads! We had alot of rain when Hurrican Isabel hit here back in 2003, but the tide rose much higher with this storm.

Our neighborhood was flooded and we couldn't get out, but throughout the worst of the storm we met up with neighbors and walked the street watching the tide come in and trying to guess how high it would get. Some had water in their garages and most had water up to and over their foundations. We were relatively did come up to the foundation, but didn't get underneath the house. It came up over the base of our shed, but because it's so well built, you could only see dampness at the seams of the flooring. It DID completely cover our dock, which was amazing! Here are a few photos from the storm....

Dennis set out early on the first day and this is what he came upon on Bells Mill Road....good thing he didn't "set out" earlier!
This is our next door neighbor sitting at the entrance to the neighborhood. Yep, he turned around and came back!

This is the view from our deck....on the first day! The highest the water got was up to the flowerbed you see at the bottom right part of the picture.
This is the dock...on the first day! Since the highest tide came in the evening, that picture isn't so great, but you'll get the idea...

This picture, taken from the deck, is the walkway along the back of the house...everything you see was completely under water the next night!

This picture was taken the night of the highest tide....but this was taken 1 hour before it's peak. EVERYTHING was under water...but the battery in the camera was dead! Argh! This was taken about an hour before high tide went up another 3 or 4 feet into the yard....and left quite a mess....see: The water went up beyond where it left the "mess".....which ended up in more than 20 bags! AND we used alot of it to put our gardens to "bed" for the winter.View from our deck of neighbor's yard....similar to the view in picture #3!This picture was taken the morning after the "peak" tide.....still pretty high, but not as bad as the night before.

All in all, we fared surprisingly well! We didn't lose power or satellite TV....we didn't get wet (other than a little bit our running around the neighborhood) and we didn't run out of food, water.....or cocktails!

Although my office was open EVERY day, several closings were delayed, but everyone was so nice about it! Now that was a first in a long time.....buyers understanding about delayed closings! Success!!!!

Now I guess we need to wait to see how the salty water affected the gardens.....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We Found a Home......

.....and we can hardly wait to get there!!! I have been looking at apartments in Paris for days now and I think I've seen over 200!!! Either they were missing something that was important to us (like 2 bedrooms, an oven.....who would have thought?) or it was booked!

We had our hearts set on one apartment that overlooked the Arc de Triomphe AND you could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but at the last minute the owner decided to do a long term lease. I was so bummed! I could just see all of us watching the New Year's Eve fireworks from the warmth and comfort of our own little apartment.

Oh well.....the place we did get is fabulous! It is located in the 9th arrondissement and is only a block from the Metro.......across the street from a grocer.......around the corner from a fresh market and 10 steps from a world famous hair stylist (Should I?)

So.....this is the kitchen where we'll cook those delicious dishes we've been planning.....

And this is the lovely dining room where we'll feast on those dishes.....

And this is where we'll relax after a long day on the streets of Paris....

Isn't is beautiful!!! I can't wait to post pictures of all of us in these rooms!!! we come!!!