Monday, November 23, 2009

Let the Baking Begin

It is Thanksgiving week, which means it's time to start baking! Today is roll-making day. Luckily, I didn't have to do all the work myself. Michael was more than willing to pitch in.

The process went something like this:

I pour warm water in the mixing bowl. Michael adds one tablespoon of yeast. I stop him just before he adds another tablespoon. I turn my back for 2.5 seconds and then catch him dipping a measuring cup in the bowl. I clean off the cup and find he has opened the salt and is attempting to measure it. I divert utter disaster while he opens the eggs. I manage to grab an egg before it dives into the bowl. Meanwhile, the butter on the stove is popping. I pour in the milk and remove it from the heat. Michael whines because he didn't get to put the milk in himself.

Batch two - Michael wants to open the stick of butter. I let him peel off the wrapper while I turn to measure the milk. Michael says, "Mmmmm! That's tasty!" and I see that he has taken a bite out of the butter. He gets upset because I won't let him crack an egg. I distract him by letting him turn on the mixer, which he does - full blast.

Batch three - He insists on cracking an egg himself. I allow him to try. He smashes the entire thing in his hand. I manage to catch most of the shell in my hand before it falls in the bowl. He whines because his hand is messy. We wash our hands.

Now it's time for flour. Michael counts the cups with me. Half of the second cup goes on the floor. My brain short-circuits and I can't remember what cup we were on. Luckily, Michael remembers. Ten seconds later his hand is in the flour bin and he is covered from head to toe in white dust. "I got some on my pants!" he says.

After three batches of roll dough Michael is ready for a break. I have the thought that I should take a picture of the mess, but Michael photogenically has his finger up his nose. I send him to watch "Toy Story" and just try to avoid stepping in the pile of flour on the floor while I make the fourth batch.

We'll see how the rolling and freezing process goes this afternoon. I can't wait till Wednesday - pie making day!... Michael and a cup of shortening.

Now that will be fun.

Monday, November 9, 2009


The trip to Paris was by speed train, but I missed the whole thing since I was asleep - not a bad way to travel. Our hotel was a cute little French-looking building with a bathtub built for people without hips. And no shower curtain. They did place a small piece of glass near the tap as a barrier, but it was about as effective at holding back water as a toothpick would be at stopping Niagara Falls. This meant our towels had double duty of drying us and the floor, so we had them replaced daily. I felt slightly guilty for it, but David eased my concerns when he said, "I'm not going to be environmentally conscious if they're going to be stupid."

Can't argue with that.

Paris was so French and romantic and all the things you would imagine Paris to be. We walked by the Eiffel Tower every day, eschewed sit-down restaurants in favor of crepes, chicken sandwiches, and hot dogs in baguettes, and stopped in little pastry shops to try the work-of-art desserts like this one, which we devoured with the handle of a bottle opener, having no other utensils in our hotel room:

The French seem to enjoy stairs, and we climbed many of them. 200+ stairs to the top of the Pantheon, 200+ stairs to Sacre Coeur, and very nearly 200+ stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Luckily, at the last minute David spotted an elevator for the use of disabled persons, so I put on my best puppy dog face and made sure to stick my stomach out as far as possible, and voila! We were in!

The French populace wins a combined Oblivious Award for the fact that they all like to stand in doorways and block aisles and seem to have deaf ears when it comes to the phrase, "Excusez moi." One woman even sat down underneath David right as he was lowering his body into a seat on the metro. You snooze, you lose, I guess.
Arc de Triomphe

Sacre Coeur


12 days and 900 pictures after we left Virginia, we came home to find Michael hadn't been too traumatized by our absence (although he is rather clingy now and asks, "You're not leaving me?" any time we need to leave the house). That's good, because in ten years we are totally doing this again - Italy, get ready!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

London at a Glance

David and I recently returned from a completely fabulous vacation to London and Paris. It was everything one would hope eight years of planning and saving would be - practically perfect in every way.

We had been a little (um, okay, VERY) apprehensive about leaving Michael for so long. But apparently we had prepared him well with our talk of airplanes and trips and the fact that he would be staying with friends for twelve days. We left him without so much as a tear on his part - just a hug and a wave as he said, "Have a good trip, Mama! I miss you!" Of course, we might be able to chalk that up to the fact that he wasn't actually sure it was his mother leaving him, since my new haircut the day before had caused him to ask David, "Daddy, what happened to Mommy?"

The plane ride was peaceful and uneventful, and was only marred at the very end by some woman telling David she was surprised they had let me on the plane. Honestly, what is meant by such a comment? Is there any way it could be construed as being well-intentioned or even concerned? Doubtful, seeing as the only possible interpretation seems to be, "You're wife is a whale!"

London was pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be, except that fish and chips consisted of a giant battered fish and not a plate of frozen fish sticks, an image I had long maintained in my mind. The Brits win the award for Worst Food I've Ever Eaten - a terrible hamburger that I couldn't take more than two bites of, and the worst onion soup known to man. But what can you expect from people who like to enhance their dishes with a side of "mushy peas"?

In five days we managed to fit in everything we hoped to do with plenty of time for relaxation on the side. We saw everything from Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London and took advantage of every audio tour and nearly every place to sit. We saw "The Mousetrap", the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and watched with fascination as a formally dressed butler walked the dining table at Windsor Castle in his stockinged feet, shifting golden candlesticks and vases to create perfect symmetry.

Tower Bridge

Checking in with the Ministry of Magic:

And, because no trip to London is complete without it, the obligatory picture with a Beefeater:

Next up: Paris.

Oo la la!

Nothing Much

David and I haven't had much going on lately - just a move and 12 days in Europe. You know, the usual.

But now that we have (somewhat) settled in and I can actually see the keyboard through the piles of junk on the desk, I thought I would say hello.

Actually, our piles are relatively few at the moment. This was greatly helped by David having an additional week off work and taking a trip to Salvation Army to unload ourselves of huge amounts of stuff. Living in a hotel for a year certainly teaches you what you can and cannot live without. And somehow it gave me the courage to admit to myself that I will never, ever fit into that adorable yellow skirt from Ann Taylor Loft again, so I might as well pass it on to someone whose hips have not expanded to twin capacity.

So, here we are, back in suburbia, swooning over little things like having a garbage disposal and being able to open the fridge and the dishwasher at the same time. And having a Wegmans. This week I bought boneless chicken breasts for $1.97/lb.!

Now that is something to celebrate.