Monday, August 31, 2009

Ice cream man!!!

On Saturday I went up to John and Jill's to hang out with the kiddos and see their new place. The house is lovely, and they fit right in since the neighborhood seems to be full of kids. We sat out on the front porch while Nathaniel and Sebastian rode bikes up and down the street with a few other kids and Jill chatted with another mom about 2nd grade classroom assignments for the coming year. Then... The ice cream man cometh! The kids heard the music before anyone and instantly bikes were thrown down and they were on the curb waving their arms while Jill ran into the house to get her wallet. I grabbed mine, too and was SO happy to get a soft-serve ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles - one of my favorite summertime treats. Here are Nathaniel, me and Sebastian enjoying our ice cream with one of the neighborhood kids (on the left):

I have such happy memories of the ice cream man growing up. It was always a surprise, he never came on the same day or at the same time, but as soon as you heard that music, nothing else was important and you instantly craved ice cream. That's kind of how I felt on Saturday. It hit the spot.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hunterdon County Fair

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to the Hunterdon County Fair with my friend Karen and her friend Alex. It had poured rain all day on Saturday, but we still decided to head out on Sunday morning to get our fill of farm animals, 4-H projects, old fashioned soda-pop and plenty of mud.

Here is the saddest pony ever:


Wild Bill's Old Fashioned Soda-Pop:

And how a cow works (or is that a polar bear?):

I love the country kitsch of a county or state fair. It was a fun morning, for sure. I'll have to go back next year (and bring my soda mug for a discount on refills!).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5 things for 5 people

I responded when Trinity posted about this, so now it's my turn!

Here it goes:

The first five people to comment on this post will get something made by me.This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. (No refunds... no exchanges!!!!)

2. What I create will be just for you, with love from me.

3. It'll be done this calendar year (2009).

4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. I may even create something totally unbelievable and surprise you!! It will be handmade and may be any medium I choose. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!

5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange...or awesome...or lovely!

6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note/post of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to it.

7. Send your mailing address if you don't live close to me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cape May!

Every year my whole family heads to Cape May, NJ for a week in August. This week was a little more special because my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday, August 9th. We reserved a big table at the Carriage House tearoom at the Physick Estate which has its own sentimental value because we usually do a ladies tea there every year. It was a humid day (thus the foggy lens on the camera), but other than that it was a beautiful event. Here's the happy couple:

I put together a scrapbook with some photos of when they were first dating and of their wedding day. I also collected memories and cards from important people in their lives and included them in the scrapbook, too. They were obviously thrilled with the result. It was so fun to go through the old photos.

My aunt sent along a copy of their wedding announcement (click to see a larger view):

Here is me with Mom and Dad enjoying reading what I wrote for them.

The food was excellent. A wonderful luncheon tea and the kids got delicious cookies. Liam is especially a fan of the cookies:

Here's the whole crew in the garden next to the tea room. It was a beautiful morning and such a nice way to celebrate 40 years of happiness!

The rest of the week was all about relaxing, enjoying the weather, each other's company and the ocean! John and Nathaniel had to jump right in. To think a few years ago these kids didn't really like going in the water. So much has changed since we first started coming to Cape May 5 years ago.

Sebastian is a fan of the little rides outside of the Arcade on the little boardwalk. Here he is with my brother John on this little Alien spinning ride.

One of Emerson's favorite things to do is try on other people's shoes. Here he is with my mom's sneakers on:

Here are all 5 of my nephews watching a movie. They really seemed to enjoy all laying on the floor together. This wasn't the only time during the weekend that this scene occured.

And yes, we play lots of board games. One of the most fun is Apples to Apples. It's great for a big group and for different age ranges (as long as they can read). John and Nathaniel are both super readers and enjoyed the game very much.

Another thing we do every year is go out to a nice dinner with just the siblings. No kids, no parents, just our generation. Here are Dan and Mo, me and John and Jill before heading out to dinner.

Every year as the boys get a little older and a little bolder I find that I need to get a little bolder, too, as far as going in the ocean goes. I think the first year we went I didn't even own a bathing suit! Sebastian really liked standing on the boogie board like the big kids, but he needed a little help when the water actually made it up to him. He doesn't weigh enough to not have the board float away! So here I am holding on and waiting for the water:

We saw a lot of dolphins this year and they were closer than we've ever seen them. Here's a shot of mom with a dolphin in the background. It was so cool to see them jumping and playing so close to the beach.

And of course, after some time in the water, you need some time to dry off. Here are Mom, Dad and Liam and enjoying the shade of the big beach umbrella.

The Washington Street Mall is a wonderful pedestrian street with tons of shops and restaurants. It's always fun to stroll along, buy at least one pair of shoes and get a frozen custard orange-vanilla twist with rainbow sprinkles at Kohr Brothers - one of my favorite summertime treats. Here are Mom and I at the Cape May Bell:

And every year we attempt to get a big family shot in front of our house. This year we tried, but these are the best two. It was starting to cloud up and sprinkle a little and Liam was afraid it was going to be a thunderstorm, so he's covering his ears, and Sebastian was a little worn out from getting pictures with his brothers just a few minutes before this, but overall I think it's a great shot and shows our family as we are in 2009.

And here's a fun one!

It was a really great week, as always. I'm already counting down the weeks until next year!

PS - Here's a hilarious video of Liam surprising my Dad. That laugh is totally contagious!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

London for Fun

Two years ago Brian, my good friend from high school and college, moved to London and I told him, even before he left, that I'd be coming to visit him at some point before his visa expired. Well, he left London on August 5th. And I visited London from July 28th to August 4th! Nothing like getting it in under the wire. I saw some of my old haunts from when I studied there for a semester over a decade ago, and I squeezed in some new things, too. It's a great, beautiful, old, interesting city and I loved having a chance to really explore it.

The first night I was there Brian took me to Pub Quiz at a local pub.

We Won!

And for winning we got a round of drinks, which turned into 2 bottles of pink champagne. Here are Brian, Neal and Martin enjoying our winnings:

I went to tons of museums while I was there. I started out at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. I had plans to meet up with my friend Allison after the museum and ended up running into her in the museum in front of the Arnolfini portrait by Van Eyck.

Here are Allison and I at lunch at a North African restaurant called Saharaween. It was so nice to catch up with her (she lives in Boston but was visiting London the same time I was) and the food was great!

This is a sign that was all over the Tube stations. The funny thing is, it wasn't hot at all. The highs while I was there were in low 70s.

This is the Sloane Square station, the one closest to Brian's flat. Good old "Mind the Gap":

Another thing that you see all over London is reminders to "Look Right" when you cross the street. The double-decker bus in the back is just another iconic London image.

I had a chance to visit the new Syracuse London Centre (known as Faraday House). It was nice to see where Brian works, and where the new crops of SU students are studying abroad. One of my favorite parts was getting to see an art installation made from the lockers that were in the basement photography area of the old London Centre. The insides of all the lockers are signed by years of photo students. I'm so glad they kept them around.

When I studied in London I had just become vegetarian and I remember really enjoying at least one lovely meal here. I'm glad that Brian and I had a chance to eat here this time around.

I took an afternoon stroll through Kensington Gardens. It was quite a windy day. I love these chairs near the Round Pond.

And I treated myself to afternoon tea at the Orangery. It's so lovely there. And the cheese scone was amazing.

I also took some time to stroll down Portabello Road. One of my favorite bookstores is the adorable Books for Cooks. They have a little test kitchen in the back and it always smells amazing. I made it here right before it started pouring rain, so I had a great excuse to hang out and browse for a while.

The little pub in Brian's neighborhood, the Fox and Hounds, was the perfect place for a post-dinner drink. Brian is a local there, so it was fun to meet some of the other locals, especially the bartender who was quite a character. That's Brian standing at the bar through the door:

Here's the cheesy touristy photo of me with a phone booth. Somehow I can't leave London without one of these:

And so many British things in one photo: Harry Potter, Hogarth and the Red phonebooth.

I was very impressed with the British Museum. There are so many treasures under one roof:

And so many people under one roof, too. It was pretty crowded. Here's a shot of the crowd headed toward the Elgin Marbles:

On our way through King's Cross Station, we went out of our way to find Platform 9 3/4, the secret entrance to the Hogwart's Express from Harry Potter. Brian and I waited in line for our chance to get this cheesy shot:

And yes, I went to a Ukulele open mic. It was called Ukey Love and it was brilliant! We didn't know what to expect, but it was really quite fun. The pub was really cute and the performers ranged from good to exceptional. It was a fun night out.

I spent an entire day at Kew Gardens. When I was studying in London I went out to Kew kind of on a whim and fell in love with it. I'm so happy I had a chance to go back and on such a beautiful day. Here is the Palm House:

One of the coolest features of the both the Palm House and Temperate House is that there is a walkway around the top where you can see the tops of the trees. Here is a fern from the top of the Palm House:

And the roof of the temperate house with big fluffy clounds:

A water lily in the Water Lily House:

Kew is celebrating it's 250th year and this new treetop walkway was built to help commemorate that. It's about 4 stories high and the views are spectacular. But it's just a metal walkway with a grated floor that you can see through. It's not at all for anyone afraid of heights.

Here I am with a view of the Temperate House behind me:

Here is a woman having lunch with a peacock. I found it to be such a funny sight:

After Kew I headed to the Borough Market to pick up some produce for dinner. It was a great market with tons of good produce. I'm glad I had a chance to go.

Here is Brian enjoying our night in with roasted golden beet and arugula salad with goat cheese, and pasta with basil, potatoes and peas. It was a delicious meal with all fresh ingredients, and so nice to just spend one night at home. Brian is an excellent host!

I went to the British Library for the first time! Again, so many treasures under one roof. One of the highlights for me was the original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland with the original drawings by Lewis Carrol.

I also got to visit the V&A and found it to be one of the most confusing museums I've ever been in. But it does house the National Art Library. Hear that? A NATIONAL Art Library. Pretty cool.

Brian and I ended up going to the Proms with my cousin Bill and his wife Naomi! It was such a fun night and the show was all music from classic MGM musicals. Yes, Singin' In the Rain was one of those musicals. Here are Brian and I with our umbrellas (it really was raining):

And here's a shot of Bill, Naomi and I after the show outside Royal Albert Hall:

Bill, Naomi and I spent a lovely day in Richmond. We walked past the Poppy Factory (where they make the Red Poppy pins for Remembrance Day). I did part of a photo story here while I was studying.

And you can't go to London and not get a shot of Big Ben. Here's mine. And Big Ben is actually the bell in the clock tower, not the clock tower itself.

And Buckingham Palace. The Queen is in!

This is the ridiculously huge cupcake I had at the cafe in St. James' Park. It was delicious, but made my teeth hurt it was so sweet.

St. James' Park also has pelicans.

Here's a view from the Millennium Bridge (aka Wobbly Bridge) looking from the Tate Modern across to St. Paul's. The Tate was amazing.

It was truly an amazing trip. I'm so glad I finally just bought the plane ticket and went. It had been way too long since I'd been across an ocean. Thanks to Brian and Bill and Naomi for being great hosts!