Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mystic before the Wedding

Mac and I took our time getting up to Christa and Kyle's wedding in Western Mass. The wedding was on Saturday, but we left on Thursday to see some sights on our way. Our first stop was to see some of my colleagues and friends at Yale in New Haven, CT. We got a tour of the Haas Arts Library (no relation to Mac) and an insider's view of the Beinecke Rare Book Library and where they digitize materials. We had lunch at the food trucks in New Haven and then headed on our way. It was the perfect way to break up our drive.

Mac's extended family was vacationing in New London, CT, so we stopped to see them on Thursday for dinner and enjoyed a beautiful evening. It was great to get to meet more of Mac's family. After dinner and lots of catching up, we drove to a B&B in Mystic to spend the night. The highlight was the hot tub! We sat in there and watched shooting stars and satellites go by above our heads. It was great!

This was our view from outside the B&B. It was in the more "industrial" part of Mystic, right down by the water:

After checking out from the B&B, we drove to Stonington, CT, which is only a few miles from Mystic to have breakfast at a great little place called Noah's. It was recommended to us by my friend at Yale and it didn't disappoint. After breakfast we walked all over Stonington (it's not that big) and then drove back to Mystic to check out Mystic Pizza. Mac had to deliver on a bet that was made long ago and actually mailed a slice of Mystic Pizza to a friend in California. It was pretty hilarious. The pizza itself was HORRIBLE!

After mailing the pizza slice, we took a little bit of time to walk around downtown Mystic and see the sights. This is the view of the drawbridge:

And this is Mystic Seaport.

We didn't have time to actually go to the museum or the village because we had to get up to Western Mass to help Christa and Kyle out with setting up for the wedding. It was a bit of a dreary day on Friday, but you'll see from the photos of the wedding that Saturday turned out to be beautiful!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grammy Gramps Camp makes Pickles!

The week after I was in Boston for the weekend my parents held their annual Grammy Gramps Camp. In the past, this week has been just for John and Nathaniel, my two oldest nephews. This year, Sebastian got to join the fun. My parents brought all the boys up for a fun evening in Princeton. The first thing we did was make pickles at my apartment. Sebastian declared from the beginning that he was not a pickle fan, so he chose to just watch, but John and Nathaniel were pretty excited to make their own.

Mom helped out so that we could each watch while one of the boys was using the knife to cut pickles. She even made a jar or two for herself! Here are John and Nathaniel with their packed pickle jars before the brine went in:

And here they are again. They were quite proud of their pickle-making prowess.

After making pickles, we went to have breakfast for dinner at a little diner on Nassau Street and all the boys ordered French toast! They were so excited when the hostess asked if they wanted powdered sugar. So after getting them all sugared up, we took a little walk around campus since it was a beautiful evening.

One stop was to see the Tigers outside of Nassau Hall. We got lots of fun photos with them:

Earlier in the week, they all had gone to the Constitution Center in Philly and Sebastian got an Abraham Lincoln hat while he was there. He really did wear it the entire time we were hanging out in Princeton.

Here you can see Mom and Dad in the middle and the boys still hanging out on the Tigers.

It was so fun to get to see them all while they were doing Grammy Gramps camp! I can't wait until next year!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boston for the Weekend!

Mac had a conference at MIT starting on Sunday, July 10th, so we went up for the weekend before and I got to show him some of my old haunts from my grad school days. We drove up early Saturday morning and stopped at Mark and Christi's place to pick up keys since they were so graciously letting us stay there while they were both out of town. Then we parked the car in Cambridge and walked around Harvard and then had lunch at Veggie Planet! Not only do I enjoy the all-vegetarian menu at Veggie Planet, but I used to volunteer at Club Passim, so it was good to be back in the space and see how things have changed. And the food was delicious!

While in Cambridge, we also stopped by Harvard Bookstore and lo and behold my dad's books were on the shelf! He's written two young adult chapter books for my nephews and both of them were on the shelf of books that have been printed on the store's on-demand book printing machine, Paige M. Gutenborg. It was cool to see them in the store (they're the thinner cream and green colored books in the middle of the photo).

We met up with Mac's friend Mike and Mike's friend while we were in Cambridge and all headed over to Ann and Lee's house in Somerville. We got to meet Ann and Lee's new dog, Violet (so cute) and our friend Allison met up with us there, too. We all had a beer in their back yard and then walked to a great Peruvian Restaurant where we met up with even more folks (Mike's brother and his friends) and had a huge table with about a dozen people. It was a good time.

After dinner some of us went candlepin bowling and met up with my friend Matt. Phew - it was whirlwind of a day, but I got to catch up with lots of folks and introduce Mac to some of my best grad school friends.

After bowling Mac and I drove Allison home and stayed the night at Mark and Christi's super-adorable apartment in Roslindale. We had a lazy morning on Sunday and got brunch at a little diner that Mark recommended and then packed up our stuff and headed back into Boston.

We parked under Boston Common and strolled through the Common and the Public Garden for a bit before meeting up with Mike again. Here's a shot of Mac and I enjoying a lovely day with Swan Boats in the background:

After we met up with Mike, we walked through the garden past the famous "Make Way for Ducklings" statues. This was too much of a photo opp to pass up. Mac and Mike weren't the only kids on the ducklings, they were just the biggest:

Mike likes Mama Duck:

Mac showing off his Texas roots and riding her rodeo-style:

We also took some time to sit in the shade and listen to this great jazz duo playing in the park:

But our favorite musician, by far, was the one man band. In the photo below, you can see Mike playing some instruments and me hula hooping on the right side:

Before the song was over, Mac handed me the camera and did some hula hooping of his own:

Here's Mike and Mac feeling victorious after the song was over. It was quite a sight to see.

And here's a little video of the one man band in action:

After the one man band, we walked all the way down Newbury St. to The Other Side Cafe and had a tasty lunch and some local brews. We walked back to the car and then it was time for me to drop those two off for their conference and then drive back to NJ on my own. It was a great whirlwind tour of the city.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

From Arugula to Zinnias: Garden Update Early July 2011

So despite the presence of some yellow tomato leaves, the garden is doing well. In fact, I have more cucumbers than I know what to with, but will probably post something about that soon. In the above photo you can see most of what I'm growing in about half of my garden. Our plots are a little bigger this year, 10'x12' instead of last year's 10'x10', so I had a little more room for experimenting with things I haven't grown before, like okra, brussels sprouts and zinnias.

Here's the rundown, with photos, from Arugula to Zinnias:

Above you can see that I've let the arugula go to flower or "bolt". I read recently that salad mixes with arugula flowers are selling for big bucks at farmer's markets in NYC, so I might go ahead and try to eat some of those flowers. Otherwise, I'm going to attempt some seed saving and try a second crop of arugula later in the season. They may also go ahead and reseed themselves. We'll have to wait and see.

Here's some teeny little bell peppers. I forget if these are the yellow or the green/red ones, but either way they're looking good!

And the cucumbers. Oh my the cucumbers! These guys have just gone crazy this year! I took this photo after picking a dozen cukes, so this was one of the bigger ones on the vine. I've already pickled 4 big jars, made more Raita and Tzatziki than I know what to do with and am planning on making Cucumber and Hendrick's sorbet soon. I might try to pull together a blog post on what to do with so many cucumbers!

Okra. Hmmm.... Okra is a mystery to me. Mac and I saw the plants at a farm stand and he convinced me to try it, so I did. I've already cut a few, but I'm not sure what to do with them. We'll have to see how that turns out. But they do look like little space ships, sorta, which is cool.

My sunflowers are going well, but are not as big as I thought they'd be. They're only about chest high and it looks like they might bloom in the next week or so. This one is planted right next to my garden gnome.

And tomatoes... The tomatoes have been interesting this year. They started out well, then got some blighty-looking leaves, then I sprayed an organic fungicide on them and it looks like they're doing OK. You can see in the photo above some of the yellow leaves, but more importantly, some of the nearly ripe sungold tomatoes! These things are like candy. It's kind of amazing. And the plant is already as tall as me.

Above are some San Marzano tomatoes. I got these because they're supposed to be the best for making tomato sauce. Last year I made sauce with some Early Girls and it was really good frozen and used up over the winter. I'm hoping to do the same thing with these guys this summer.

And here is my little volunteer tomato plant. Actually this in one of two volunteer plants. The other one is right in the mix with the other tomatoes, but this one sprouted in a row right next to the basil, so I put a cage around it to remind me that it wasn't a weed, and we'll see what happens!

In addition to these tomatoes, I also have an Early Girl and a Celebrity tomato plant. Four plants that I planted, and 2 volunteers. Hopefully it will be a good tomato crop!

And last but not least, on a whim this year I decided to plant some Zinnias. I have never grown flowers in my garden, outside of a couple of sunflowers, so this was kind of a new adventure. And I LOVE them! They make wonderful cut flowers, as you can see below, and they last a long time. I love the way they look as little buds, too, as in the photo above. I'll definitely plant these again in the future!

So overall the garden is going well. I'm waiting to see how the Brussels Sprouts turn out, and I've already picked a handful of green beans, but I'm sure I'll get more as the summer goes on. It's been a little different this year because I live much further from the garden then I did the past two years, but it's been really fun to ride my bike over with my gardening gloves and snips in my bike basket, and ride home with it full of goodies!