Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snowy night

We finally got a little snow. It's all gone now, but I'm crossing my fingers for a white Christmas. 

The Griswold family tree

My favorite Christmas movie of all time is Christmas Vacation. (Who doesn't love the scene when their ridiculously big tree breaks the windows in their living room?) Anyway, this year I decided we should give it a shot, and cut down our own tree.

We returned to Homestead Farm (where we go pumpkin picking). I was happy to see they give you a ride out to the fields and back.

We spend a while wandering around, looking at all the trees and debating over what kind we wanted.

Timber! We finally settled on this guy.

Ricardo dragged it out to the road to wait for the tractor.

It's getting cold!

And here it is on our car, bagged and tagged.

Now we just gotta get it in the house.

It was a tight squeeze, but the tree made it inside. Now for the hard part: trying to keep the damn cats away from it.  

Happy Anniversary to us!

In November we celebrated our 3rd anniversary. Ricardo took me out to a fancy restaurant... Cheers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autumn comes to DC

Here's the prettiest tree in President's Park.

Happy Halloween!

We made the usual trip to the farm to get pumpkins, gourds and corn stalks. This year they had a lot of funky pumpkins in different shapes, colors and textures. Of course I had to buy the wierdest ones I could find.

Here's our home, all ready for the trick-or-treaters.

If you look closely at the 1st photo, there's a small grey animal inside the front door -- it's Vince! He loves sneaking in the photos.

I was particularly proud of my planter arangements -- I stacked funky pumpkins with Spanish moss in between. I used wooden skewers to secure the pumpkins. The greenery is left over from the summer, and the berries are a la Michaels.

Here's another one of those funky pumpkins -- how could I resist this striped guy?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Roasted tomato sauce

At the end of the tomato season I like to make roasted tomato sauce with all the seconds that are cheap and easy to find at my local farmers markets.

I couldn't resist buying a big bag of these "second" heirloom tomatoes priced at just two dollars a pound (half price). Even Johnny had to agree that they sure smelled good.

Sliced in half -- so pretty!

I start with a layer of sliced onions with olive oil, salt & pepper in baking pans.

Then I add all the halved tomatoes.

Next I take some peeled carrots,

and dice them.

Then I grab some of these cool garlic heads (still attached to their stems)...

and smash them.

Here's what my pans look like after I add the carrots, garlic, and cherry tomatoes from my garden. Ideally these pans wouldn't be so crowded. But, I got a little carried away, and I was trying to use up all my ripe tomatoes.

Here's a close-up of a baking sheet ready for the oven...

and after about an hour in a 450 degree oven, here's what comes out.

I let everything cool a bit, then run it through my Kitchenaid to get rid of the skins and seeds, and turn it into a nice pureed sauce.

In the end, I'm left with one big pot of sauce.

Later on, I make up a bunch of these little baked ziti casseroles for the freezer.
(And one for dinner, too!)

Porch kitty

Samantha is queen of the porch... she can spend hours outside lounging on the gliders. Must be nice to be a kitty of leisure.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A tour of the Government Printing Office

I recently got a chance to tour GPO. I almost didn't go... I had no idea it would be so cool.

I have a love of old-fashioned printing techniques, which I supposed originated with my Uncle Doug (I still have the print tray he gave me hanging in my house). Later I worked as a typeshop attendent at RISD.

Anyway, here are some photos of the stuff I loved (I didn't bother taking pictures of any of the modern equipment). The tour guide explained that this shop is one of the few left in the country that still use these hand techniques.

Type drawers filled with metal type.

I've never seen such ornate drawer pulls.

Here's a plate that used to apply the gold leaf to books like the one below.

Each cover is constucted and stamped by hand -- amazing.

A big, well-used dictionary used to check spelling.

This guy is getting ready to marble the edge of books. He spashes the paint in a pan of water (and other stuff), until he gets the pattern he wants...

then he carefully dips the book into the ink.

Here are some examples of the finished product. Love it!

I was continuously distracted by the floors. They're comprised of 2" x 4" x 6', so the floor is 6 feet tall! This was done to accomodate all the heavy presses and other equipment. Gorgeous.

The tile floors in the entrance were equally as captivating.

The tour ended in the bookstore, where lo and behold... it's my book! This is the report that I've worked on for the past nine years. Silly, but it was exciting to see it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An afternoon in Little Italy

This week Ricardo and I are home on a stay-cation, but we've also decided to take a few day trips. Today was our first trip: Baltimore. We've been to Charm City a few times, but the trips have always seemed rushed and left no time for exploring. This time we went up with no real itinerary or exact plan. We talked about eating oysters or Italian food, walking around the harbor or taking a water taxi... we we're sure. 

We also didn't look at a map, got lost, and ended up in an industrial area. With the help of our iPhone, we took little side streets through the city, venturing through Greek Town, passing Johns Hopkins... and lots of other sights we've never seen. Ricardo kept yelling out names of streets that he was SURE he saw on Homicide -- it ended up being a pretty amusing ride. 

We parked our car at the Inner Harbor, because, well, that's what we're familiar with. Now, the Inner Harbor is nice and all... I liked seeing the Coast Guard cutter in the water... but it's just not our style. We wandered around desperately updating our Yelp location to try to find a non-chain restaurant, but we couldn't find anything. We even gave in and went to the ESPN Zone for a drink to regroup, but the margarita was horrible, and I couldn't wait to get out of there (this was after we walked out of the Hard Rock Cafe). 

Not sure what to do, we headed for Little Italy. Pasta... red wine... how bad could it be?

After less than a 10-minute walk, we started seeing these banners. We found it!

The streets are so neat and tidy -- much different than the North End in Boston.

Lots of nice details -- like the tile work on this doorway and bench.

Cute narrow streets.

Little touches everywhere remind you where you are.

A nice little rooftop garden.

After walking around in circles, we randomly settled on this unassuming restaurant, Caesar's Den. Inside was like stepping back in time. The waiter was polite, the food was really, really good, and we left happy, with full bellies.

But what trip to Little Italy would be complete without a trip to an Italian bakery? Believe it or not I passed on all these pastries and settled on a lemon Italian ice and some pizzelles to go.

Little Italy -- we loved your charm and your food. Day one of our stay-cation was successful... so we headed home -- after all, there are kitties to feed.