Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dead Grass

Project 365: Day 18

There used to be a sculpture on the lawn outside the art museum on campus. Now, there is just a perfect rectangle of dead grass there. They're trying to water it, but I think it might be a lost cause. We haven't had rain in a week and there's no rain in the forecast for days to come. It's been a long, hot early summer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Project 365: Day 17

It's usually me who falls asleep on the couch, but this time Mac took a little snooze in the air conditioned coolness while I filled out some paperwork and did the dishes.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Project 365: Day 16

In the nearly two years that I've lived in my apartment there has been a continuing dispute between the landlord and one of the other tenants about access to the basement, which has resulted in there being 4 different padlocks, with 4 different keys throughout my time here. Somehow all of the old keys have ended up in one spot on my counter (you know, in case they bring back one of the old locks). So here they are, all 4 keys to the basement.

Babysitting the Boys

I love my nephews more than I can say, but I have to admit that I've never really babysat them on my own before this weekend. I offered my services so that John and Jill could escape to NYC for an overnight to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. So I left work early on Friday and drove up to Montclair to begin this adventure.

I arrived to find John and Jill almost ready to leave, Emerson was asleep and Sebastian was playing Wii. Nathaniel was at a birthday party and would be dropped off later. John and Jill finally headed out the door and an evening of fun began! We played Wii, we played Batman, we ordered pizza and garlic knots, I read to Emerson and everyone (including me) finally fell asleep around 10pm.

On Saturday morning everyone was up by about 6am. These kids are notorious early birds and they lived up to that this weekend. After getting Sebastian and Emerson baths and getting everyone dressed and finding everyone's swimsuits we piled into my car with Nathaniel sitting in between Em and Sebastian. Our first stop was Sunrise Bagels, which was an adventure, especially when all three boys decide and one time or another that they have to use the restroom, including in the middle of placing our order. Thankfully, at 7am on a Saturday, our fellow patrons were pretty understanding with all of our shuffling around. After that we got on the NJ Parkway and Turnpike to get to Grammy and Gramps' house.

There was emergency construction on the Turnpike, so we stopped at a rest area to give everyone another potty break (it was hot, I had to keep them hydrated) and pick up some treats (Reese's pieces and Twizzlers, yes it was about 8am). I also came armed with a pack of Silly Bandz to distribute as needed. Emerson fell asleep pretty quickly after our rest stop, but Nathaniel and Sebastian bickered like an old married couple for the rest of the trip. It was hard to stay neutral and not burst out laughing at some of the things they said.

Finally! We arrived at my parents' (Grammy and Gramps to the boys) and all got in the pool. The reason I drove to south Jersey was because Nathaniel had to be dropped off for Grammy Gramps Camp. Eventually cousin John arrived with his mom and we all had lunch. Mo headed back to her mom's and Grammy, Gramps, John and Nathaniel got on the road to DC! This left me, Sebastian, Emerson, my Aunt Marianne and my Grammy (Great-Grammy to the boys) at the house.

The boys watched a movie, I got to catch up with my Aunt and then they got back in the pool for another dip before dinner and getting on the road. Sebastian is really becoming quite a strong swimmer:

Em still prefers to stay on the steps or outside the pool, but this doesn't stop him in participating in the creative games that they come up with. They often involve pirate ships and sharks and other watery themes.

Here is Sebastian raiding Aunt Marianne's pirate ship!

And after a quick dinner of mac and cheese the little guys and I got on the road. They were both asleep after about 15 minutes on the road, and they stayed asleep until we got to my house. Sebastian woke up in time to share some dinner with John and Jill and I, but Em just kept on sleeping.

It was a really fun way to spend 24 hours, but I have to say, it was exhausting for me, too. After cleaning up the house a little bit, I fell asleep on the couch...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Enjoying the Pool

Project 365: Day 15

Sebastian is now tall enough to stand tippy-toe in the shallow end of my parents' pool. But when he's not standing on his tippy-toes, he's doing a great job of becoming a stronger swimmer. On Saturday he was all over the shallow end with these noodles.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Emerson, I mean, Batman

Project 365: Day 14

While I was babysitting this weekend Emerson had a blast dressing up in his Batman cape and striking some Batman poses. He is so serious when he does this, sometimes if you call him Emerson he says "I'm not Emerson, I'm BATMAN!".

Friday, June 25, 2010


Project 365: Day 13

The fireflies have been really outstanding the past few nights, so I thought that I should try to do some firefly photos. My first idea was to catch some in a jar and do a close-up long exposure to try and get them lighting up. So I caught some in a jar, with Mac's help, and alas, they didn't light up. I saw one glimmer, once and that was it. So I took my camera out to the yard and did some long exposures using just the ambient lights from the newspaper offices that are a few doors down. I like the shadows that they cast on the side of the old cinderblock garage and if you look really close (click the image to make it bigger) you can see one little streak of firefly on the left side of this photo. I'll have to play around some more with this firefly idea and see if I can get any better results.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Project 365: Day 12

The big news this week is the Heat Wave. And in NJ it's not just heat, it's HHH - Hazy, Hot and Humid. I had this glass of water out on my back deck for about minute before it got all sweaty. That's about how long it took me to get all sweaty, too. Thank goodness for my one little A/C unit that works to cool off 2 of the 3 rooms of my apartment.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Root Beer Float Fail

Project 365: Day 11

Last night I was really looking forward to a Root Beer Float, one of my favorite summertime treats. I bought vanilla ice cream and came home and scooped some of the half-melted ice cream into a glass and then reached all the way to the back of my fridge for a can of root beer and when I opened it up it bubbled up like crazy. Thankfully I made it to the sink before it spilled all over the kitchen. When I went to pick up the can I realized that it was completely frozen. I ended up pouring what I could into the now completely melty ice cream and enjoying what ended up being a root beer smoothie. It still tasted good, but I'm looking forward to a real root bear float sometime soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thriving Garden, with tomatoes!

Project 365: Day 10

It was a very exciting morning in the garden! I noticed yesterday that one of these little cherry tomatoes was almost ready to go, but this morning it looks like there are 2! And my lettuce is pretty much ready to go, too, and that sounds like a salad! Guess what I'm having for dinner?

Bonus Photos:

Above is an overall shot of one corner of the garden with cauliflower in the front, then lettuce (yellow-green leaves), then green bush beans, and then sunflowers. Everything seems to be doing well. The beans I replanted are starting to come up, and after a massive weeding project this weekend, I replanted the carrots and planted some arugula and bibb lettuce.

This is a teeny little cucumber. The cukes seem to be doing really well this year and they are doing well climbing up the support that I got for them. This is already looking better than last year when most of my cukes ended up with end rot and were inedible. I'm looking forward to having these guys for salads, too!

And here is the progress on the Sungold tomatoes: Above are some blossoms toward the top of the plant (almost up to my chin!) and then below are some of the earliest fruits still waiting to turn yellow. I can't wait!

So far the garden seems to be looking good. It's going to be a hot, dry week so I'm going to try and check in every day and just make sure everything is doing OK.

Morning Glories: Sprouting!

Project 365: Day 9

Last week I did a little renegade gardening and planted morning glory and moonflower seeds in my yard and my neighbor's yard. I also planted some in pots on my front porch, hoping that they'll climb up the rusting metal handrail. And Sunday morning I woke up and they had sprouted! It's one of my favorite times when things just start to sprout. It's like a magic trick that works. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of this amazing little moment of gardening.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chioggia Beet

Project 365: Day 8

I picked up some Chioggia Beets at the farmer's market on Thursday and took advantage of a cool Saturday morning to roast them in the oven. The fun thing about these beets is that they have a lovely candy-striped interior. And this one has a little heart shape, too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

International Picnic Day

Project 365: Day 7

Friday was International Picnic Day and Mac's lab celebrated with a great mix of delicious foods, mostly Mediterranean: hummus, pita, tzatziki, olives, feta cheese, red wine, pepper jelly, cream cheese and crackers. It was a great way to spend my lunch hour.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blueberries at the Farmer's Market

Project 365: Day 6

New Jersey is called The Garden State for good reason. I know some would beg to differ with this statement, but the amazing bounty at the Princeton Farmer's Market today makes the "Garden State" title hard to dispute. Besides tomatoes and corn, NJ is known for its amazing blueberry crop and this year is no exception. I love the red tablecloth showing through where a choosy customer reached into the middle of the bunch to pick the best basket.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pub Quiz and Scotch

Project 365: Day 5

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pub Quiz at the DBar. It always proves to be an interesting, fun and usually somewhat silly evening and last night was no exception. Above is the photo of the day featuring Tyler and Dmitry and two glasses (plastic cups) of scotch.

Last night was the last hurrah at Pub Quiz for one of our most valued members. Eric is now Dr. Eric and will be heading out to California at the end of the month to start his post-doc! He leaves some big shoes to fill and he'll be missed! Congrats, Eric!

Below are some bonus photos of the silliness:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Macro Fun

Project 365: Day 4

Yesterday after work I wanted to play with the macro lens that I bought with the new camera, so I just sat on my porch and photographed some of the plants there as close up as possible and with as shallow a depth of field as I could. The above image is part of that exercise. This is a Dianthus flower. The whole bloom is about an inch across. I am loving this macro lens! It also works really well as a portrait lens, throwing the background out of focus quite nicely. I'm sure you'll be seeing lots of macro photos in the coming year. :)

Bonus Photos


Another view of the Dianthus:

And this creepy little bug on my dill plant. It's only about 1/4 of an inch long:

Monday, June 14, 2010


Project 365: Day 3

So, my landlord just had the deck repainted - bright white! I feels like a new pair of sneakers that you want to get a little dirty. And it used to be a lovely slate blue. I'm kind of sad to see the "improvement". But he didn't have the guys repaint the wall of the porch, so now in comparison to the bright white porch, this wall looks a little dingy. The little chips in the paint don't make it look any better, but I like the green pot that I have hanging there.


Project 365: Day 2

As an additional little surprise, Mac got me a Birthday lotto ticket. I really thought I was going to win $50,000, but as you can see, I won $2. My first thought was "I can buy 4 bananas with that" since the little bodega near my house does lottery tickets. Then Mac convinced me that I should use it to get another $2 lotto ticket and see if I do any better.

Fizzy Lizzy

Project 365: Day 1

This is from the lunch that Mac and I had in Lambertville on my birthday. These drinks are really tasty.

OK, I know - super boring photo to start this whole project, but it can only get better from here, right?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Project 365: Getting Started.

Well folks... I gonna do it. I got a new camera, it's a new year for me and I've been thinking about doing this for a long, long time. You've seen them before, this is nothing new, but it's a great personal challenge for me to start shooting more photos and to get to know my new DSLR. The photos won't always be great (as you'll see in these first few entries) and they probably won't be posted every day, but I will take photos every day and be honest with myself and you about posting photos that were actually taken on the day that I say they are. They won't always be exciting, they probably won't always be good, but they'll be there.

So here's to documenting my 33rd year!

Birthday Fun

I had a great birthday this year, but I did a horrible job of documenting it, so you'll have to enjoy just a few photos. I woke up crazy early, kind of excited about the day, and cleaned off my desk. This might sound silly, but I really like to start my year off right, and decluttering the desk seemed like the right thing to do. And I did feel better, and tired, after doing that, so I went back to bed and actually slept in a little bit, which is a minor miracle for this early bird.

I had given Mac the charge of planning something fun for the day and he did a great job. We started out by heading to the Golden Nugget Flea Market in Lambertville, NJ. We took the scenic route there and just enjoyed the drive (part of which was on Rt. 612). We enjoyed browsing the flea market, but neither of us bought anything. Maybe next time...
Our next stop was for lunch in Lambertville. We ended up at a cute little deli (see the Project 365 photo) with great sandwiches. Then we walked over to the River Horse brewery for a tasting and tour. We missed the official tour, but Mac had been there before, so he showed me around. It's a small operation, but they put out some good brews. And for $1 we got to taste the 4 beers they had on tap. It was a really fun end to our little jaunt through Lamberville.

Our next stop was (for me) one of the most exciting parts of the day. We headed into Philly and drove straight to Calumet Photographic, where I plunked down some hard earned money for my new DSLR: a Nikon D90! I got the kit with a zoom lens and I splurged for a really nice 60mm macro lens as well. I'm really looking forward to getting to know this camera.

Our next stop was to drop our stuff off at the hotel where we stayed for the night. It was a really fun splurge to get a hotel for the night, but it worked out great. A bunch of Mac's friends were in town for Drexel's graduation and they were staying there as well. We then headed out to meet up with Kim, Mike and Meg for delicious dinner at Ariana Afghan restaurant.

I really love Afghan food. It's so flavorful, but not too spicy. We sat at the table in the window where you sit on cushions at a low table. The restaurant is BYOB, so I got to enjoy some of Mike's homebrewed beer and Kim brought a bottle of wine, too. It was a lovely dinner, even if it was a little warm in the restaurant.

And what's the best thing to do when you're a little warm? Go get ice cream, of course! After dinner we walked over to Franklin Fountain and stood in line for some delicious ice cream treats. The wait was totally worth it, especially since we were entertained by the 4-year-old in line in front of us. She was really excited about getting ice cream and was thrilled to have an adoring audience. It was pretty funny.

After dessert, Mac and I headed out to meet up with his friends for drinks at a bar close to the hotel. It was nice to meet his friends and to enjoy the warm evening with some cool drinks. After that we all walked back to the hotel.

I had to work at the Paper Source on Sunday, so I headed out of town pretty early, but Mac stuck around to catch up with some more folks who were in town for the weekend. I dropped him off at brunch in Philly and headed back into Princeton. It was a great way to spend my birthday!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pre-Birthday Picnic

It was a beautiful evening in Princeton, so Mac and I decided to ditch our softball game and have a picnic at the Princeton Battlefield. It was a relaxing way to spend the evening and a nice start to a wonderful Birthday weekend. We had olive tapenade, feta stuffed olives, almond stuffed olives, celery and carrot sticks, pita crackers, fresh bread, herb butter, brie, and amazing fresh raspberries. It was quite a spread for being as impromptu as it was.

After the picnic we met up with some folks from the softball team for drinks - our team won, even without us, so I didn't feel too bad about ditching the game.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Appel Farm Arts & Music Fest

Mac and I went to the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival this past weekend. It turned out to be a pretty good day. One of the highlights was getting to make a mosaic tile that will become part of the border of an outdoor mural that will go on the camp's dining hall. We only got one ticket to do this, so we had to work together, which was really fun. The mirror swirl was already there, Mac did the red tiles and I did the blue, green and purple tiles. We did this during the sunniest, hottest part of the day and it was so nice to sit under a shaded tent and feel the breeze.

After eating some lunch and making the tile, we headed back to the blanket that we had put down when we first arrived to see an afternoon packed with music. Thankfully the sun went behind some clouds and there was a nice breeze for most of the afternoon. Sadly, the beer tent ran out of beer before we could get any of the local Flying Fish brews and we had to settle for a late-afternoon Sierra Nevada instead.

The first act that we saw was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. They are a great funk and soul band and Sharon Jones is quite the energetic leader. She did a great song showing off all of the classic soul moves including the Funky Chicken, the Mashed Potato, the Soul Train, and others. It was really an energetic set.

After Sharon Jones, Buddy Miller played a short set to open for Patty Griffin. He's a great singer/songwriter, but I have to admit that Patty Griffin was the star of that show for me.

And finally, the whole reason I wanted to come to Appel Farm was to hear Patty Griffin! She is one of my favorite performers and she didn't disappoint. She is not only a great songwriter, but a talented guitar player as well. She always puts on a great live show. Here she is singing on a song with Buddy Miller:

And here she is rockin' out on guitar on one of her own tunes. Note the amazing shoes. She always has wonderful shoes, and has even written a song about shoes. And her one love song, Heavenly Day, which she played, was actually written for her dog, but it's a truly beautiful song. I highly recommend going out and seeing her if she comes through your town.

The last band to play was The Avett Brothers. I wasn't as familiar with their tunes as with Patty Griffin's, but they were very energetic and clearly passionate about what they were doing. They seemed to have a good time and their fans were really into it, too.

We ended up leaving before their set was over to beat the crowd and because sitting in a field all day was not helping our allergies at all. After packing up the car and turning on the A/C we headed out of Elmer and straight up to Collingswood, NJ to have dinner at The Pop Shop! I first heard about this place on the Food Network when Bobby Flay did a Grilled Cheese throwdown here. And let me tell you, the grilled cheese was outstanding! I had the East Zane grilled cheese which was brie, grilled asparagus and pesto on a french baguette. Mac had the Cajun Benedict (they serve breakfast all day) and was not disappointed. I'm looking forward to going back sometime soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garden update!

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with my old friend Matthew who was in Philly for a conference. We ended up going to the Reading Terminal Market and I found this great little gnome to hang off of my basil pot. Isn't he cute?

The herbs on the front porch have been going like gangbusters. There was a little moment of distress after a strong pop-up thunderstorm that beat everything down pretty good, but after some nice weather, everyone seemed to recover nicely. You can see from the labeled photo below that I've added some herbs to the original collection and I'm looking forward to using them. I've already clipped some of the basil to go with some (store-bought) tomatoes and I'm looking forward to making basil aioli and some herb butter later this week.

The community garden has also had its ups and downs. One of the big ups is that I got my hands on a Sungold tomato plant and it's doing great! It already has some little fruits on it. I had a Sungold last year and was so happy with how sweet and plentiful the crops were that I went out of my way to track one down and get it in my garden. I can't wait for these little guys to ripen.

One of the downs is that the green beans only came up here and there. I'm trying to make this a "glass half full" moment by re-planting the parts of the row that didn't come up and therefore extending my green bean picking season. I planted my beans fairly late last year and still got quite a good crop. Here are some of the healthy beans that you saw sprouting in the last blog post about the garden:

Another "up" is that the husk cherries seem to be doing well. They have these neat little flowers and you can see the little lantern shaped husks that the fruits will grow in to. This is a new plant for me, so I'm excited to see how it progresses.

The bell peppers and cucumbers seem to be doing well, as you can see in the photo below (cucumbers on the top and right, peppers on the bottom and left). You can also see in this photo that the weeds are quite strong and abundant this year. I've been picking around the plants as much as possible, but I really need to get in to the open spaces with a hoe and knock some of that back. It's tricky when I don't get to the garden every day and sometimes I go before work just to get everyone watered, which doesn't really leave time for weeding. Maybe this weekend...

I also planted a different kind of lettuce than what I've grown before. This also came up here and there, so I might re-plant the open spaces in the row with some arugula.

I also planted some carrots that seem to be doing OK, but I'll have to wait a little longer to see how many of them come up. Thankfully you get TONS of carrot seeds in each packet and it shouldn't be a problem to re-plant some of those as needed, too. So far I would give my garden plot a B-, with plenty of room for improvement. Hopefully the new beans will take, sunflowers will straighten up and grow tall, and the weeds won't quite take over the whole place. I'll post more photos as the season progresses.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memorial Day with the Fam

And when I say "The Fam" I mean the entire family. Everyone was present and accounted for: Grammy, Mom and Dad, Dan and Mo and their kids and even Mo's mom, John and Jill and their kids and Me and Mac. It was quite a full pool! Dan and Mo had just arrived from their trip with John and Nathaniel out to the Indy 500, Mom and Dad were finishing up a weekend "Mini Grammy-Gramps Camp" with Sebastian and Liam and everyone else was just enjoying the long weekend and the unofficial start to Summer!

It was a beautiful day, hot enough to go swimming, but nice enough to sit out on the back deck and enjoy a grilled dinner. It was also nice enough to enjoy the breeze in the hammock, play some wiffle ball and catch up with each other. It really turned out to be the perfect relaxing day for everyone.