Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Boo to you ghouls and boys! Hope you're having a spoooooky day. (I typed that in a scary voice. Say it out loud. It'll help.) Today we are passing out candy at our house for the first time. Last year, we had other plans and just left a bowl out that was likely emptied in 10 minutes flat. I don't think we know what we're getting into. I'll be mortified if we run out of candy. I have a plan if it comes to that. Turn off the lights and take Sadie for a walk.

Speaking of Sadie........

She's a bumblebee this year! She runs around singing Black Eyed Peas I'mma Be when she wears her costume. Or, I'm the one doing the singing. Same diff. You can bet your bottom dollar John sings the word "bumblebee" every time they say I'mma Be. We are hip.

You better watch out not to get stung by the cutest bee ever! I wish I could take credit for making this costume but I completely ran out of time. Dog mom fail. When you first put this on her, she gets really low to the ground. My childhood cats used to do this when we put harnesses on them. Yes, my sister and I tried to walk our cats outside wearing harnesses. What of it?

Anyway, here's hoping this bee won't bark at all the trick-or-treaters coming to our door. Those eyes are scary enough!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #43

You know what's tough? Coming home from vacation where all you've done is order meals from a menu or walk through a buffet line and then have to get back in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking. But, I also love being waited on hand and foot.

Spicy Bean Soup: A couple years ago, I made a new soup almost every week to take to work for lunch. It was great! No, it wasn't any cheaper than just buying cans but I like to think it was probably healthier and tastier. Last year, for some reason, I don't think I made any new soups. But, the temperatures here are delving squarely into the 40's and that means, soup time! I busted out my crockpot for this chock-full-o'-fiber bean soup. The recipe was in my Better Homes & Gardens crockpot cookbook. For me, the flavor was a little lacking. I think I would make it again but bump up the seasonings quite a bit. Also, have the Gas-X near. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thoughts on Travel

  • Should it be a new rule for Homeland Security that you must shower before boarding a plane? I think we can all agree that being trapped near a smelly person for 2+ hours of a flight is pretty unbearable. Perhaps if you haven't had the chance to properly cleanse, you can be sent through some sort of deodorizer.

  • If it is 11:30 in the morning and you are on a shared van transfer to various area resorts with other travelers and you are also already inebriated, you should probably just keep your mouth shut. At the risk of irritating all other passengers, you should not repeatedly ask each of their names or if they're married or honeymooning. If you can't remember their answers, you probably didn't care in the first place. Or maybe it was just that 4th can of Bud you cracked. Looking at you, sweaty guy from Texas.

  • Even though you've been in Mexico for a few days, if you are American, you should probably not say "gracias" to the Customs Officer granting your readmission into the country. It will cause him to look twice at your passport. You never want them to look twice.

  • When you arrive at the airport with what, in your mind, is plenty of time to get checked in and through security, only to discover a line the lengths you've never seen at the ticket counter, be sure you get in the RIGHT line to begin with. Do not go on the say-so of other passengers around you. This will cost you valuable time and the counter agent will admonish you for checking in 5 minutes past the 60 minute ahead deadline for an international flight. They'll still check you in. But you'll get the stinkeye.

  • If you think you've gotten a great deal by traveling to Mexico towards the "tail end" of the "rainy season", you might want to reconsider why that deal was so great. And also why the resort is only at 50% capacity.

  • Should a gecko make his way into your room just before bedtime, you will need the following in order to catch him: 1) a wife hiding in the bathroom, 2) a husband who doesn't feel that great from all those drinks, 3) a styrofoam cup, 4) a chair, 5) an umbrella. It may take awhile, but you'll get that gecko.

More on Mexico another day. Promise!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To ponder....

If you lose touch with a friend, when or how is it appropriate to attempt a reconnection? If you haven't spoken to them in over a year and you have no idea why, do you blame yourself for something you may have done (but what? WHAT?!), or do you blame them for not keeping up their end of the friendship bargain either? I suppose it depends on how close you were in the first place, yes? I'm sure we all have friends that we may only see back in our hometowns during the holidays. You play catch up over a couple drinks at the local pub and it's not at all awkward. What if, perchance, you are attempting to reconnect with someone you would make specific plans with? Not someone you would just meet by happenstance. How is that first greeting not going to be slightly awkward? Especially after a rather significant time gap.

When is it ever appropriate to say, "Hey, those messages I left and emails I sent......sooooo I guess you didn't want to respond to them?" I understand people get busy but when do you not matter quite enough to even garner a simple "I've been swamped but glad to hear from you"? Perhaps I'm reading too much into these things. The problem is, when you don't have that many friends to begin with, you really can't afford to lose any. It is imperative to hold onto each and every one.

Why is it that as children and throughout high school, your friends are the very most important people in your lives? You see them all day at school and then MUST speak to them for hours on the telephone in the evening. As we grow older, why does that importance fade away? I suppose friendship, like any other relationship, must be fostered and nurtured. Even if you used to be very close with someone, people's lives and priorities change. You wonder if you should fight your way into the small corner of their lives working to push you out.

You know what no one ever tells you when you're young and have gads of friends? When you're older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find and make friends. If you are still young....HEAR THIS NOW......When you have exhausted co-worker possibilities, you are left with few options. You can join a club or be part of a church. You could stalk cool looking people at the mall and accidentally pick up the same shirt off the rack they were just perusing and have a good laugh together (this is not advised as it can easily backfire and Security may be called). You can maybe take some sort of craft or aerobics class (my drug of choice). But even all these are not foolproof. It's hard to make connections at random, I've found. It's best to start with similar interests and spark conversation from there. Smiling is crucial. Also, try not to come off needy. New friends don't like that. At no point should you whine to them, "I have zero friends. Want go out for lunch?"

I try not to ramble too much on my blog but sometimes, after John has heard everything one too many times, I have to turn to other outlets. Hence the reason, I could use some more friends.

.....maybe this is just me, but I'm guessing it's not.....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Divine Justice

I headed to the library before my vacation with every intention of borrowing the third book in the Camel Club series by David Baldacci. In the time that I checked to make sure the book was available and drove to the library, someone else checked it out! The nerve. So instead, I did something I am loathe to do and checked out the 4th book, Divine Justice. Reading series out of order is never advised but since I started this series with Hell's Corner, which I read before I realized it was actually the 5th book, I thought it would be okay.

In Divine Justice, Oliver Stone once again finds himself on the business end of an FBI hunt. Wanted for murdering two top level Defense/CIA bad guys, Oliver Stone (aka John Carr) takes off across the country to escape the consequences of these assassinations. FBI agent Joe Knox is tasked by Macklin Hayes (an old nemesis of Stone's) with finding him and bringing him in. On the train, Stone comes to the rescue of Danny Riker, another passenger also trying to escape his past, who is being attacked by some goons. They get kicked off the train and Stone heads back to Divine, Danny's hometown, with him. In doing so, he finds himself stuck in the middle of a potential drug ring and multiple conspiracies around town. The Camel Club must save him, against his wishes.

Divine Justice is similar to the other Camel Club books but I still found it suspenseful. It was a page turner of a thriller/mystery. Don't start here, of course. Start with Camel Club and work your way through to The Collectors. The third book is Stone Cold, which I'm now on hold for at the library. Finally, finish it up with Hell's Corner. Then you'll be all caught up!

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #42

Good Sunday morning to you! Another Rachael Ray recipe. Can you believe it? I can.

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss: This is probably in one of her cookbooks but I found the recipe on the Food Network website. Pasta dinners are popular around these parts (meaning, my kitchen) but sometimes I tire of the same old red and cream sauces. This recipe is light and refreshing, no cream to be had. Most of the ingredients were in my pantry. Even the capers! I love chicken piccata and I really enjoyed this pasta twist on an Italian classic. Give it a try!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

-To continue having more exciting dates with John. Last weekend we went downtown for dinner and to see a musical, Young Frankenstein. It was lovely! The meal was delicious and the show was funny. Our dates typically consist of dinner and possibly a movie, though usually mostly just dinner. We can do better than that and I want to work on this.

-To organize my craft room. It's a shamble. I can't find anything and it's not conducive to creating. Also, I think Sadie thinks it's too cluttered as her crate is in there and she spends the most time staring at the mess.

-To buy or receive this Michael Kors Tortoise and Horn watch. I love it so much I can't even stand it. I LOVE my white watch but after nearly a year of wearing it, I realize that I also need a darker, dressier option. I have a silver one but the battery died. Last time I wore it, it took me the whole day to realize the time was incorrect. I just thought it was perpetually 3:35.

-To find a camel brown leather motorcycle to buy without feeling guilty, and without owning a motorcycle. I tried one on at Express (not real leather) and I felt like a total badass in it. It also made me look skinny. I resisted the urge to put on my aviators while trying it on because I knew John would be super embarrassed. I also resisted asking him to sing 'Danger Zone.'

-To find an adult ballet class to take. Heck, I'd even piggyback on a kids class if I weren't 3 feet taller than the participants. I love dancing.

-To play a piano again. I really miss playing and I'm afraid I've lost all my skills.

What are some of your wishes today?

I hope you get everything you wish for!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garden Wrap Up

I have been remiss! I never told you guys about how my gardening season ended up. My apologies.

-Sweet 100: These were my cherry tomatoes and boy were they successful! I counted over 150 in my harvest season. Access to their fresh sweetness even prompted me to add them to salads. That's right. Raw tomatoes, all on my own. I'm definitely planting this variety again next year.

-Jetstar: These were a hybrid tomato and I think they would have done better if that hadn't constantly been ravaged by birds. Lesson for next year, invest in some netting. Additionally, these weren't nearly as big in size as I wanted them to be. I didn't get to use them in salsa or bruschetta. They adorned a couple margherita pizzas but that was it. Not using these next year.

-Strawberries: Eaten by a bunny, or Sadie, before anything could really happen with them.

-Basil: I planted Genovese and another one I can't remember. I was really pleased with the results of these. Both the potted plant and the one I put in the ground went crazy. Lots of basil to be had for cooking this summer

-Cilantro: This did super early on but then it bolted before I could get to it and so I only had fresh cilantro for probably the month of June and nothing really after that. I guess that's the nature of cilantro though.

-Parsley: I nursed this tiny little plant from basically nothing into a huge bush of parsley. The only downside was it had kind of a strange taste so I didn't use very much of it.

-Rosemary: Also did really well. In fact, I'm researching drying techniques because it was still going strong when I ripped out the garden this week.

.....and there's more planting going on this fall too! John planted tulip bulbs (my favorite cut flower!) around our light post and mailbox. We also planted a small evergreen shrub in the front and two arbor vitae in the back that I'm hoping will grow big and tall into useful privacy screening. Stay tuned for more progress on that!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dead Reckoning

This is the most recently released Southern Vampire Mystery book by Charlaine Harris. While I enjoy these characters, I'll be glad to take a break from them for a spell.

In Dead Reckoning, Sookie's fairy family are still living with her and she discovers a special "fairy" artifact in the attic that she is quite curious about. Sookie is still blood bound to Eric and she questions their true love or if their love is spurred on by the blood bond. Someone is out to get Sookie, again. Unfortunately, Merlotte's bears the brunt of these attacks once again. And Victor, vampire regent of Louisiana, is up to his old tricks trying to plot against Eric, Sookie and the rest. Sookie also meets up again with her cousin's 5 year old son, Hunter, a fellow telepath, and learns some things about her family she may not have wanted to know.

These books are kind of hard to summarize because they really do play off each other and build with each book, as a series should. They also have a lot going on and I don't want to ruin the other books by giving away too much of this one if you plan to read the series. I like the mystery involved in these books as it does create suspense, even if they are super light reads.

Rating: * * *

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipre Re-blog #41

You're reading this and I'm on a plane to Mexico! Never fear, I'll soak up the sun for you. And I couldn't let a Sunday go by without a new recipe.

Sloppy Maple-BBQ Turkey Joes: Another one by Rachael Ray. Have I told you Rachael taught me how to cook? Fresh out of college and living on my own, I would come home from work and watch 30 Minute Meals, every day. I have a number of her cookbooks and while this recipe came from her magazine, it's hers all the same. Many years ago, John put sloppy joes on the Banned List. This is a shame because I love sloppy joes. Come to find out, he just doesn't like Manwich. Other types of 'fancy' joes are just fine. The title of this recipe has a lot going on. All those words mean a lot of flavor. We had almost all the ingredients on hand except for the buns. John bought dark rye buns by mistake. Yikes! Anyway, these joes were really good. They had a lot of zip to them and a little tang too. Plus, another use for ground turkey. Winner winner sloppy turkey joe dinner!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Come and Knock on Our Door

In addition to painting the shutters, we also wanted to freshen up the front door a bit. The bummer part about painting a door is that you can't spray paint it without causing a big mess. Spray painting is my new favorite thing. I have a dresser that I need to makeover whenever I find some time and I will for sure be spraying that sucker.

We purchased this Rustoleum door paint in black. Door paint is specially formulated to withstand the elements of weather that it might come in contact with. Because we have a storm door, we don't really need to worry about that but we used the special door paint anyway. I can't remember how much the can was but it wasn't expensive and we have a lot left over if anyone else wants a black door.

I was really hoping we could roll this on and just cut in the trim. Wrong! Door paint is crazy thick, yo. It was like paint with tar. I think maybe a roller with less nap might have worked but neither of us felt like going out to get one. Instead, we brushed it on. The other thing with this thick paint is that it shows brush strokes like crazy. I don't know how we could have avoided that. I didn't really research door painting techniques. My bad.

Here is the door before.

Here is the ladder we used to keep Sadie from "helping"

And here is the finished product!

I could not love the gloss more. It's so reflective you can almost see my outline in it taking this picture. Yes, when you get up close there are more visible brushstrokes than I care to admit but still, I really like how it turned out. So happy with our easy and inexpensive outside transformations. Now to figure out the next indoor project......

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh, Shutter, Shutter

Now that we've been in our house for a year (holy cats, a whole year!) we decided it was time to shake up the outside appearance a bit. The faded hunter green shutters and front door just weren't our bag. I knew I wanted to paint them and since the house is white, we felt the color choice was pretty obvious. Black. Classic, simple. I wanted to do the door in a fun color but all my suggestions were quickly vetoed. Black, it is!

You probably can't tell but this is a before picture. The shutters are still green here but because it's rather dark, they probably already look black. Admittedly, the green was dark but it had to go anyway. Taking down the shutters was quite a feat. Some of the screws were actual screws, albeit rusted. They came out with the ease of a drill. Others were big, thick plastic shutter screws. not so simple. Our choices were to pry them away from the shutters to start, and then unscrew them by hand. I chose that method. John chose the cut-off-their-heads-rendering-them-useless-and-pry-out-the-shaft method. I wonder whose worked better.....? Suffice it to say, he had to go back out and purchase 24 new screws. More on that later.

Once all 6 shutters were down, I got to work. John thinks he's a good spray painter. He subscribes to the "thicker is better" theory. While I, having read up on the subject, know that multiple light coats are preferred. On the vinyl shutters, we used Rustoleum Universal in Black Satin, by suggestion of the Lowe's salesman. I purchased 4 cans but used only 2 1/2 on 6 shutters, 2 coats.

Here they are side by side, old and new.

And here they are all lined up

The painting was the fast part and we had some nice weather that day so they dried pretty quickly. The day before, when taking them off the house, the weather was not so cooperative. We also discovered that our ladder is a smidge shorter than the lower roof on the house. Oops! John went through the window instead, after we spent 15 minutes cursing while figuring out how to remove the screens. We are quite a pair when it comes to home improvement. Let me tell you!

Our brand new screws were far too shiny. Time to remedy that! Wouldn't you know it, not 5 days after I ruined this box with spray paint, my brand new Shox that came in the box started falling apart. I'm hoping Nike will be nice and take them back anyway. I've only worn them about 10 times! I digress.......instead of getting my fingers even blacker with paint than they already were, I shoved them in this shoe box. It worked like a dream.

When the shutters and screws were dry, John hung them all up on the house. This is the only full shot I have. I realize in this crappy picture you can't really tell they're any different from before but, trust me, they are!

I love how they turned out and the project was easy enough. Taking them down was the worst part, and that's what I thought would go the fastest. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Back tomorrow with how the door turned out. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dead in the Family

Are you tired of reading Sookie Stackhouse reviews yet? Don't worry, I'm currently finishing up the most recently released book and then you don't have to hear about them for awhile.

Dead in the Family is the next in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mystery series. As usual, Sookie finds herself in a world of trouble with the fairy world having been sealed off by Sookie's great-grandfather Niall, Sookie thinks she is rid of troublesome fairies. This may or may not be true as her fairy cousin Claude has now come to live with her, claiming that he's lonely. We also find out from the werewolves Alcide has allowed to run on her land that a fresh dead body is buried there. On the vampire side of things, Eric Northman's maker and vampire brother have entered the picture much to everyone's horror. Sookie tries to keep the peace between all supernatural beings and remain alive, as usual.

This one wasn't my favorite. It felt like nothing really happened in it. Maybe it was more of a set-up book for the one I'm on now. That remains to be seen since I'm only 20 pages in. Also, sometimes it's hard to keep the books straight from what happened on True Blood. The TV series follows the books pretty well in some regard and is totally off in others. On TV, Eric's maker is named Godrich and eventually meets the true death. So, I had no idea who this other cat was although I do prefer Sookie and Eric as a couple. Oh well, can't win 'em all!

Rating: * *

Monday, October 10, 2011

You've Got Mail

Oh, faithful blog reader(s) of mine. How much I appreciate you! In fact, I appreciate you so much that I have recently made it even easier for you to hang on my every word. If you're not currently following my blog in a reader (I recommend Google's!) then you are coming to this site Riiiight? What if you forget to see what I've posted? How empty you must feel. No more, I say. See that box on the right-hand side of the screen that says "Follow by Email"? Now, you can have my posts emailed to you every time the site is updated! You just enter your email address and VOILA! How fancy!

The only drawback is this. The email comes about 20 hours after I set the post to go up. I try to set most posts to hit the site some time in the 6:00 AM hour for all you early risers. Granted, I don't ever get that many hits at that time but, I wouldn't want to make you wait. I know my blog is the first thing on your mind when you that alarm. After a few days of testing, I am noticing I end up receiving the email around 2:00 - 3:00 AM the next night/morning. So, as long as you can bear to wait, you can have the post come directly to your in-box. Yea hooray and glory day!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #40

It's a pumpkin-palooza! Pumpkin in both my new recipes this week. What are the chances?! Well, considering it's October the chances are pretty good you'll see more pumpkin recipes in the coming weeks.

Pumpkin Patch Stuffed Shells: This recipe is in the most recent issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. I'm always looking for new uses for ground turkey because Dr. Oz says to only eat 4-legged animals once a week so I subbed that in for the ground beef. I also used frozen spinach instead of fresh because it's cheaper and quicker than cooking it down on the stove. Other than that, I followed the recipe and boy was it delicious! Tasty and full of fiber. You know how I love fiber. We got 3 nights of dinner out of it. I wasn't even tired of it by the 3rd night. Cook this one up!

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts: There was a time when I wouldn't waste the calories on cake doughnuts. Not worth it, I'd say. Oh, how wrong I was. Ever since I bought my doughnut pans, I've been a cake doughnut convert. I can make them at home and they're much healthier for you. I didn't make the glaze but next time I think I might. I cut the recipe in half which made 6 full size doughnuts. Perfect!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumnal Beers, Part II

Though it would seem otherwise, I promise you John and I do not just sit around and drink all the time. Alcohol only on weekends and some of these, and last week's pumpkin beers, were just tastings and not full glasses. So there!

Why is this picture giant?

Breckenridge After Rakin' Autumn Ale: This isn't a pumpkin ale but I thought it deserved some notice just the same. It's dark for sure and has a subtle smokiness to it. Breckenridge is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries. Everything I've had from them is delicious, albeit pricey. The alcohol content on this is 6.7% so be careful, folks. Start your night with this one, whatever you do, do not end it here. From the bottle: "Full body caramel malt flavor with medium hop character." This was smooth and the name is way cute, right?

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale: This was my first time trying anything from Smuttynose so I'm not sure how their non-seasonal beers are but the pumpkin was delicious! From the bottle: "we brew our ale with the addition of pumpkin to the mash, along with traditional spices to create a delicious American original." Out of all the pumpkins I've tried thus far, this has the purest pumpkin flavor, I think. It's also one of the most reasonably priced. I would definitely get this again, even though I'm trying not to repeat before I get through all of the pumpkin beers I can get my hands on!

And this picture is tiny!

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale: John read about this somewhere and then the next morning after we tried it, they reviewed it on the weekend TODAY show. I felt so current! This beer is brewed with Louisiana pecans and boy can you taste them! The rich amber color screams fall and so does the flavor. From the bottle: "made with real Louisiana pecans that have been toasted to perfection......The natural oils give the ale a light pecan finish and aroma." If you are not a nut fan, you probably won't like this beer because it sure is nutty! I, however, am a nut fan and therefore a fan of this beer. Price point is decent on most Abita's as well.

There you have it. Cheers to the weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dead and Gone

Dead and Gone is the 9th book in the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. I think I'm almost done with the books that have been released thus far. Sad.

Oh Sookie, Sookie. What have you gotten yourself into this time? In the latest installment, Sookie is trying to figure out her new faery (I don't know why it's spelled like this) family and where she fits in when a treacherous faery war breaks out. Heavens to Betsy! Her great-Grandfather Niall is at offs with his brother Breandan. Breandan doesn't believe any partial fae (seriously, spelling from the book!) -- meaning Sookie -- should be allowed to live. In the meantime, someone has crucified Jason's pregnant estranged were-panther wife Crystal (Honestly, how did I ever get involved in this series The weres and shape shifters have just revealed themselves in public when previously their identities were secret. Sookie finds herself in a world of trouble, learns some disturbing news about her family's past and prays Eric Northman will use their blood bond to come save her. Mercy me!

I liked this one. Learning more about Sookie's familial lines and departing a bit from the werewolves (my least favorite supernatural group, if a person can have one) was nice. Dead and Gone helped pass my brief hour-long flights to and from Atlanta nicely. I prefer to read lighter books when I travel became I am easily distracted in airports and on planes. This fit the bill perfectly. Thinking about finishing off the series as beach reading in Mexico VERY SOON! If you started at the beginning of this series, keep going. If not, go back and start at #1, even if you think you're not into the vampire/supernatural craze. You might be surprised at the mindless departure these mysteries provide.

Rating: *** 1/2

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the ATL

Last weekend, John and I spent 48 hours in Atlanta. Actually, it was less than 48 hours if you don't include flight time. It was a whirlwind trip but so worth it! The reasons for going were two-fold: a dear friend of mine was getting married and, my Grandad happens to live there also. I hadn't seen him in 10 years and John had never met him! Time to remedy that. We were considering driving, which would have been 9 hours each way. Because I loathe both driving and passengering on long rides, I wasn't really looking forward to this. As luck would have it, Airtran ran a sale earlier this summer. $40 tickets each way if you flew on certain days. The wedding was on a Friday night so we were able to fly in on Thursday and out on Saturday and take advantage of the sale. SOLD! When's the last time you flew somewhere for $100? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Unfortunately, since we had such a finite amount of time, we had to schedule everything pretty carefully. Luckily, we were landing on Thursday night and going straight to the hotel so the 2 hour rain delay and 30+ minute wait for the hotel shuttle didn't screw up any of those plans. That was really the only snafu of the weekend, thankfully.

Friday morning, after a short night, we rented a car and drove to my Grandad's where my parents were, having driven up from Florida just to see us! How nice. The house hadn't changed much in 10 years, just some shifting of furniture and rooms. I also got to see my parent's cats, Bubba Ray and Fat Winnie! I think they missed me. Haven't seen them in 6 years! We breakfasted at Cracker Barrell. Typically when on vacation, I don't like to eat in restaurants you can eat at in your hometown. However, my love affair with Cracker Barrell started in Georgia 20 years ago so we thought it only fitting to rekindle that flame. I had biscuits and apples. It was delicious. We're not going to talk about how much I ate in 48 hours. I'm considering those calories a distant memory. The scale remembers though. Oh, does she ever.

My stepsister (haven't seen her in 6 years either!) met us for breakfast was going to be our tour guide on the one thing we were able to squeeze in before the wedding Friday night. John has never been to Atlanta so I wanted to be able to take him downtown at least once to just see it. Which we had had more time to explore.

We settled on taking the CNN Behind the Scenes Studio tour. CNN is headquartered in Atlanta (thank you, Ted Turner). We were able to get discounted tickets through my stepsister's connections. The hour-long tour was interesting. We saw live broadcasts (behind glass) and learned about the innerworkings of what it takes to run the news juggernaut that is CNN. If you're wondering, the tickets for this typically cost $15. Parking is $10, unless you're on the street.

Half of these people were on Facebook instead of working

A little while later, John and I were experiencing our very first Atlanta traffic jam. Took about 45 minutes to go 4 miles and it wasn't even rush hour. Thankfully, John did all the driving this trip, as he usually does. They're not kidding when they say people drive crazy there. It was nuts! The wedding was in Roswell, north of Atlanta. It seemed like a really cute town that I would have liked to tour. Cute shops and restaurants. Not nearly enough shopping on this trip. And when I say 'not nearly enough' I mean NONE. Not even a magazine purchase at the airport.

We stayed at a Doubletree. The Doubletree is my absolute favorite hotel. My reasons, again, are two-fold: fresh cookies at check-in (and pretty much any other time you want) and the most comfortable beds you could ask for. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of the room. It was really nice! I have a feeling it was an upgrade although the price still reflected the lower level of room. It had a king-sized bed and a pull out couch. We were on the top floor = vaulted ceilings! Lots of room, sizeable bathroom.

The wedding was small and pretty. The reception was held at a historic mansion on Roswell. It was tucked back in the trees and provided an intimate space for parties. The appetizers were awesome! Southwest Pork rolls and cheeseburger sliders! I want to get married again just to serve fun appetizers. The cake? Oh, I thought you'd never ask! The most important part, in my opinion, is of course the cake. It did not disappoint. Buttercream frosting, vanilla cake and raspberry filling. Delicious! The bride was beautiful (haven't seen her since my wedding 3 1/2 years ago!) I've got to get down there more often, I think. We are so glad we decided to go to the wedding. I love weddings. I also don't have a lot of friends so I've got to hang onto the ones I do have, even if they're very far away.

Cute little house at the reception

The next morning we slept in without our Sadie alarm clock waking us up. It was wonderful. I ought to pay $100 to have this luxury more often. We missed her but relished not having her there in the morning to stare at us and lick our faces. We had breakfast at the Peachtree Diner nearby. The greasy food did its job of soaking up all the wine I'd imbibed the night before. Then we headed back south of the city for a couple more hours of visiting family and football watching for the guys.

Back to the airport to drop off the rental car, speedy security check and at our gate in no time. For being a large airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield moves pretty swiftly. An hour flight back to Dayton and it was all over. As I type this, we just got back yesterday but it feels like a couple weeks ago. It all went so fast and we packed in what we could so it really felt like days in between visiting family, the CNN tour, the wedding, and then leaving. It was a great trip! And a much needed long weekend.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #39

Two new recipes this week everyone. One was impromptu when I wanted donuts for breakfast, the other from one of the many cooking magazines I receive.

Cake Donuts: This recipe was on the package of my Norpro mini-donut tin. It's a simple vanilla cake donut recipe that I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for. I halved it to make 12 mini's and 1 regular sized donut. I'm terrible at apportioning donut batter. I always use too much and then the tops look like donuts but the bottoms look like mini muffins. Very ambiguous. This time, I cut back and it was still too much. Curses. Better luck next time. These were moist and had a good flavor. Sorry guys, I can't find this recipe online anywhere. Email me if you want it and I'll send it to you all typed out.

Pumpkin Corn Soup: Soup's on! I love making soup. Luckily, I also love eating soup for lunch. This super simple recipe is in the October 2011 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Unfortunately, because it's so new I can't find it online anywhere yet. But, email me if you want the recipe. It only has 3 ingredients: pumpkin, corn, chili powder. OK, 4 if you count the water. Admittedly, this soup cooked up very quickly but with only 3 ingredients, it fell a little flat. It could benefit from a bit more chili powder and maybe some minced onion too. In a pinch, I'd make it again but I have another pumpkin soup recipe that I prefer much more. This was, however, Fiber-Rific!!

P.S. Sorry to post two recipes that I can't find online. Promise, I tried!