Today was another productive one, project-wise, mixed in with a bunch of great food. We made waffles on the griddle (these are my raspberry chocolate chip ones, midway).
As you can see from the background, we had Dunkin Donuts coffee to go with! Stretching out the East Coast trip happiness a little bit.
Partly to get dinner ready early, and partly to put off painting trim as long as possible, I took all of the remaining CSA root vegetables and cut them up for a soup. Many of them were surprises/unidentified. We definitely had turnips, carrots (white and orange), a beet (that one was a bit of a shock – ugly brown outside, juicy fluorescent red inside. Woah. My hands are still stained.), and potatoes. We think we also had Golden Bunch Beets and a second kind of turnips?? I added store-bought leeks, lentils and purple onions, and it turned into quite the colorful pot.
I like that we managed every single color except for blue. I seasoned with thyme, oregano, pepper, and (as usual, not enough) salt. Not bad.
Procrastinating out of the way, I finally started painting trim. I did the windows, shelf and one of the doorways, and it took a little over three hours (felt much longer). I think we’ll need at least one more coat, and I’m considering buying a less-glossy paint to hide the many imperfections. It felt like a good step forward when I was done for the day, but the lesson remains: I will not retrim a room that size, with that complexity, *ever* again.
Yesterday, we did a good job catching up after a week away, including the typical fish tank chores, grocery shopping and laundry. Kevin hung Christmas lights (on the mossy, wet roof, in the dark – I asked if he wanted my safety-concious opinion of that and he declined), I did yard work.
And we both finally, finally hung the last of the trim.
Yay! Pre-drilling the boards and then hammering in the nails by hand turned out to be much neater than using the nail gun. We’re still not sure if we should have turned the pressure down or if nail guns just don’t work well with MDF, but these nail holes were nearly invisible. And I am so, so excited about the end result – it’s so proportional and beautiful.
I did another round of caulk, to finish up the work for the day, and Kevin cooked dinner. It’s good to be home.
We decided to fly back on Friday, mostly due to cost, and then stupid Continental moved our flights up by three hours so we really only had time for a leisurely breakfast before we had to head for the airport. This is the third time in the last three months that our flights have been changed for the worse – I’ll have to start being more vigilant. We both felt bad to have to leave so early.
The one upside is that we had a three hour layover instead of an extra three hours in the air. Our first flight was Philly to Newark (which I knew was in New Jersey, but otherwise I was vague), on a teeny nine-row propeller plane that flew about 100 feet off the ground. Great views of the countryside the entire trip, but I was shocked when I looked out the window and saw New York City. Huh! We found seats in our terminal that had pretty city views for our long wait, and I called my brother to let him know that we were within “seeing” distance.
Luckily we see him again in just a few weeks, or I’d feel like we truly squandered an opportunity.
For Thanksgiving, we went over to (family friend) Stacey’s new townhouse. It was gorgeous, and it was fun to see all of her family again. After getting psyched up about it for many months, people decided to deep fry the turkey. (I wasn’t totally on board, especially given the explosion factor, but I also knew that I didn’t have a vote. I felt better after Kevin and I went out and at least bought a B-rated fire extinguisher.)
Sample photo, with my father-in-law in a turkey hat and smoking a cigar (he appears to have put his drink down), a boiling vat of oil, lots of propane, Kevin wearing oven mitts of doubtful utility, and the bird waiting to go in.
An hour later: One cook in turkey hat, two back seat cookers, and a gorgeous field of waving grasses in the background.
Carving, and many in the kitchen:
It ended up being delicious. Debbie had asked for my family’s stuffing and yam recipes, so it was fun to have those on the table, along with all of the other great dishes. I had pangs of wishing I was back with my family, but this was the first holiday where it wasn’t wrenching to be away at Kevin’s instead of at home. I felt like I belonged there just as much – a big step, and nice to finally be at that point. 🙂
More rockband in the morning:
And Tucker hoping for another long walk.
Meanwhile, the computer died within hours of Kevin walking in the door. Apparently it had been on the fritz for ages – you have to wonder if it was just saving its last gasps until he got back. In any case, there was loud chorusing this time for a laptop instead of a desktop, and lots of decision-making about all of the options. Tucker ping-ponged around all of the decision-makers – he liked having everyone nearby.
We took way more walks this visit than our norm, which was wonderful. The weather was perfect – brisk but sunny, and we saw lots of wildlife. Sunday night we walked up to see the new huge houses up the hill and saw at least seven deer, grazing in the twilight. On Tuesday, I walked up the hill to see the hawks. There were two huge ones sitting in trees, snoozing in the sun.
And myriad birds circling over the hills.
The view is really getting winterish and brown, but that’s so pretty in its own way. Kevin’s parents’ area is still (despite increasing development) at that rural/exurb mix point and with all of the very old stone houses and pretty barns and covered bridges over creeks it is incredibly scenic to drive through. Add all of that, spread over rolling hills, to the fact that the sun shone steadily (in November!!) and our Seattle souls were sated.
After my bird walk, Kevin’s mom and Kevin and I took Tucker (their golden retriever) up for a nice loop around an old orchard and by a cut corn field. We were just coming down the hill and Debbie was mentioning that they sometimes see foxes when we saw a big red tail bounding away out of view! How cool. Lots of little, bright blue birds, too. We got back, and got to do some raking until it got dark and cold. A great afternoon.
We were about a week shy of Neen’s birthday, but we celebrated early, in part so that she could unwrap the joint gift (Rockband for her Wii) and everyone could start playing. Assembly started nearly immediately, and we traded off spots for over six hours.
I’m usually a “three songs are plenty” video game music person, but the evening ended up being a lot of fun. We all played all three instruments many times (though I seem to have timing issues with the guitar??). Kevin’s mom’s rendition of “Ballroom Blitz” was particularly fun – extremely energetic vocals. 🙂 By the end, Stacey could barely drum she was laughing so hard. This was the general-consensus favourite photo:
A brief break for a delicious dinner (crab cakes and steaks):
Strawberry basil martinis and the almost-birthday girl:
And Kevin and I were surprised to find out that we were celebrating our birthdays, too! (Especially since we thought we’d already been quite feted back in July and August!!)
The gifts were perfect (beautiful scarves for both of us, a great knit bag for me, Phillies gear for Kevin, and Dunkin Donuts coffee and Christmas ornaments to share) – though neither of us had ever received winter/holiday items for our birthdays before… perhaps a little bit of a hedge against the promised “smaller Christmas” this year? 🙂
The four birthday people and the cake:
We got to Kevin’s home right before the Eagles game on Sunday. Sharon was very amused to see Kevin in his jersey on Sunday morning, and even more so when Neen showed up in hers to pick us up. None of my photos from later in the day came out (mostly since the Eagles fans got less happy as the game progressed), so here’s a pre-game kitchen shot with two Westbrook jerseys and one Akers.
I felt underdressed. 🙂
Kevin, mid-game, joining in the anti-Donovan banter.
We started out our Pennsylvania trip with a visit to my sister’s new apartment in Philly. I loved being there. We didn’t get to see Sharon’s last apartment in DC, so I’d last seen her place three years ago and this was a completely different experience. Combine her great sense of style with a creaky, wonderful , light-filled east coast apartment with old-fashioned, quirky heating and N layers of paint… Kevin kept looking my way and catching me mid-grin. I loved it.
We combined good eating with a healthy amount of downtime. Shar was very busy with schoolwork, so we napped and read and knit while she worked on some of her cases.
Perfect for the day after a redeye. We kept interupting each other with random bits of thought – here’s Sharon cracking up to Jim Gaffigan on youtube.
We went to the panini and gelatto place around the corner for lunch, Monk for dinner (a return visit for me and Kevin! Neat!), and a neat French/modern place for brunch the next morning. A church nearby had bells that rang frequently (my mom would have known the names of the hymns, but my brain just hummed along with the notes and couldn’t quite remember the words). Lots of city sounds at night, and we woke to cheering for the Philadelphia marathon.
I made an executive knitting decision that the Sunrise Circle Jacket was just too much math and counting to be a good trip knit (I’m nearing all of the increases for the front, and my row gauge doesn’t match what’s required, so I’ll need to recalculate all of the increases -– a mess). While I was pondering what to bring instead, the Yarn Harlot made an irrefutable case for knitting the Noro Striped Scarf. I’d been hoarding a yarn store gift certificate from Kevin’s family for my birthday last year that covered the yarn perfectly, and now I’m knitting away. Choosing yarn was very difficult, since a skein of Noro is essentially a mystery, colorwise. I tried to find colors I liked, and nothing too neutral, but you really never know. Two skeins of each colorway, hopefully enough for a scarf and a hat.
I meant to just start and be sure that my needle size was right, but the color shifts are alluring and I got several inches in.
The yarn feels wonderful (soft and smooshy), and the sheen from the silk is amazing. What a great, fun knit, at the perfect time of year, and I’m so happy that I can show off the gift purchase to Kevin’s family since we’ll be there in two days! 🙂