Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dinner at the in-laws

Last night, I drove over to my in-laws for dinner.  It doesn't matter what they cook: everything is always fabulous.  My favorite, favorite thing last night was the panzanella salad. OMG.


Basically, panzanella is salad that includes toasted bread ("pane").  You may think that toasted bread = croutons, and that's sorta true, but I'm not talking about the croutons you buy in the resealable pack at the supermarket.  (They're not bad--I've inhaled mass quantities of them, but they're not the same.)  My mother-in-law used this recipe for the panzanella and this recipe for the dressing that everything soaks in.  She also substituted mozzarella cheese for the feta, and I think I do like it better this way. Between the olives and the dressing, I think it would've been too much salt.  The panzanella could be a meal in itself, but we also had grilled london broil and orzo to go with it.




It wasn't crazy freakin hot for a change so we could actually sit out back on the patio.  Isn't their backyard great?  My sister-in-law did some of her wedding pictures back here last September and there's no doubt that they're probably among the best taken that day.

For dessert, we had grilled banana and nutella sandwiches. (Scroll down here for the recipe.)  My father-in-law was seriously skeptical about putting these on the grill, but after enough cajoling from his wife he gave in and the results were really fantastic.

It was a fabulous dinner last night, and the panzanella was just as good today.  The bread held up remarkably well.

Thanks Ron and Joanne ; )

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank you Erin!

... for such a fun day in Phoenixville!




I should've taken more pictures of your house so I could show it off here!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Three years ago today ...


Three years! Complete craziness.  Why is it that the 13 month engagement felt really long, but the first three years feels like three weeks?

Every anniversary has been a great anniversary, but I think that my favorite anniversary is still our first anniversary.

2001--he gave me the silver heart earrings as an anniversary gift.

On July 27, 2001, we had officially been together a year.  Ron and I hopped on the train—it was a beautiful day—and we went to the Phila. Art Museum.  We almost missed the train: We ran for it and made it (good practice for grad school four years later), and the nice ticket lady even waived our surcharge for buying tickets on the train. (This probably never happened before, and I can tell you that it’s never happened since.)


I wouldn't be shocked if that scaffolding is still there.

We got off at Suburban and walked down the Parkway which is bookended by LOVE Park on the east end and the museum on the west end.  Most importantly, we trekked up “the Rocky steps” when we got there.  I had lived here my whole life, and I had never seen the Rocky steps in person.  Totally pathetic.  *Note* the best view of the Philly skyline is seen here at the top of the steps.  If you’re lucky, you’ll see a bridal party taking pictures at the top.

I LOVE this picture for two reasons: the woman looking at the fountain with one hand on her hip and the runner in the red shirt at the top of the steps jumping around like Rocky.

We took our time in the museum—Ron’s favorite was the Arms and Armor room.  I think I was big on Impressionism at the time.

When I think about it, I’m hazy about the details following the Museum.  We must have walked to Society Hill and walked around there because we got back on the train at Market East.

Oh no, now that I think about it … I think we had dinner at the Hard Rock Café in Center City. And I think it was my idea.  Pathetic.  Oh well.

Sorry I made you stand next to a trash can--I wanted the sign above your head in the picture.

I think this must be my favorite anniversary because it marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.  Life had been really good, and we weren’t paying too much time dwelling on the changes ahead. A month later, Ron left for college two hours away, and we went from seeing each other everyday to seeing each other two weekends per month.  That was awful.  It lasted five years since Ron signed on for a grad degree while he was there. 

A lot of people in my profession question me—sometimes criticize me outright—for not eagerly moving away and taking a job anywhere one is available: Everyone else in our field does this. Why am I avoiding this and putting it off?  It’s inevitable if I want to be super-duper crazy successful.

In response, I think the same thing every time: because Ron and I already did our time.  I’m not moving anywhere without him, and we’re not moving anywhere without our families because we waited FIVE freakin years for Ron to come back so we could establish our own household here with our families.  You know what? Five years was five years. It was a long time.  And there are some days that I think to myself that we’re just getting settled into doing all of this together. Under one roof.  Our roof.  In the same city.  Our city. We’re not uprooting anything or anyone anytime soon.


When Ron and I were engaged in June 2007, I knew right away that I wanted our eighth anniversary to be our wedding day.  But, I got screwed with the leap year and what should have been Saturday, July 27, 2008 turned out to be Saturday, July 26.  I raged for about two minutes until I realized that it didn’t really matter and that we could simply celebrate our anniversary for two days each year, rather than just one.


I’m sure our wedding wasn’t a big deal to some people: We had a Mass, followed by what my mom and I came to call “a large celebratory dinner” afterward.  Everyone who came were (are!) people who we see and talk to all the time—many childhood friends, friends of our parents who we’ve known since birth, aunts and uncles who we see every Christmas and Easter (and all the birthdays and barbecues in between) … I thought it was lovely.

We didn’t have dancing, simply because we just didn’t feel like it.  We wanted to talk to everyone.  It’s what we do best.  The reason why I married Ron is because he talked me under the table on our second date.  It was a sight to behold: No person in the history of the universe had done that to me before.  Amalie, my bestest friend since first grade and barista at the café we were in, was witness to it that night.  When the music “begins” at a wedding, it becomes so loud you can’t talk anymore.  We wanted to talk.  And talk we did.

I wonder what song we would’ve danced to if we had had a first dance?  I would’ve nominated either “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” or “God Only Knows,” both by the Beach Boys.  But there are ten or twenty U2 songs that would work too.



Happy ELEVENTH Anniversary Ron!!  I love you to death.  At the end of the day, only Bono says it best:

Did I know you?
Did I know you even then?
Before the clocks kept time?
Before the world was made?
From the cruel sun,
You are my shelter:
You are my shelter and my shade.
- "Wild Honey"

Monday, July 25, 2011

An ode to the pool


I would die without a pool in the summer.

Well, that's not exactly true because I didn't have access to a pool in 2008 or 2009 and I somehow survived. It wasn't that fun, and my tan lines were a real pain to deal with, but I handled it.

Last summer, I decided to bite the bullet and write a check so that I could join a pool within walking distance of my house.  It's nothing grand--one resident on the apartment complex's website describes it as "glorified bath tub" or something like that. (Me thinks this resident has other issues besides disliking the pool.)  It was the best thing I could've done for myself last summer.

For as absurdly horrendous as last summer was (it was do or die with the dissertation), it was also absurdly crazy wonderful.  My daily schedule would go something like this: wake up at 9am, sit on the back deck with the cats reading anything non-diss related for an hour, work out for an hour, leave for the pool at noon, get home at three, get cleaned up, and then plant my butt at my kitchen table and revise the previous day's writing until Ron came home (5 or 6). Then I would have dinner with Ron, hang out with him until 9pm, and then he would go to bed and I would stay up until 3am writing.

I really loved writing at night. There were few distractions and I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything since everyone else was asleep and every place was closed.  I never really felt tired or exhausted, and I somehow managed to crank the pages out.  I really liked what I produced for the most part. (Well, Chapter One--written over the previous winter--is still pretty embarrassing, but there's nothing more I can do with it.)  I hate complete silence (maddening! oh geez, silence is The Foundation for Writer's Block in my mind), so I would turn on ABC and keep it really low, and I would keep track of time by listening to the TV voices in the back of my mind: local news at 11pm meant I had barely started; Nightline meant "keep going"; Jimmy Kimmel meant that I just might make it; Oprah meant the finish line was in view.

When I went to bed, I could actually feel really at ease that something critical was accomplished and that I wasn't a complete failure at life.  And when I went to the pool the next day, I never really felt guilty (since the rest of the Real World was sitting in a cubical at work) because I knew I would be sitting in my own cubical 8 hours later (and no one was paying me to sit there).

The best part about the pool is the Pool Ladies.  There are two kinds of people at the pool: first, they're all women (men are rare, which is FINE with me), but everyone is either an undergrad at the local university or a very senior citizen.  (And then there's me somewhere in the middle ... I completely defy categorization at this place.)  The Pool Ladies are HILARIOUS.  They talk about EVERYTHING.  And they talk LOUDLY.  Every day that I'm there, I file away a new "Pool Lady Quote of the Day."  Today's, for example, was "Lucy: eat whatever you want because you're gonna be dead a long time, y'know?" followed by loud peals of laughter.

They have lots of opinions about everything, especially modern technology: for example, why would anybody want one of those book things?  (What book things?) You know: those BOOK THINGS.  (WHAT book things?) Those things called "Candies?" or, no: "Cindy's"?  no no no, "Kindy's"?  (Kindles?) KINDLES!!!  That's it!! WHY WOULD ANYBODY BUY A KINDLE WHEN THEY CAN BUY REAL BOOKS INSTEAD?  (Because books are heavy and you can put thousands of books on a Kindle and it weighs only a few ounces.) But WHO needs THOUSANDS of books? That's what LIBRARIES are for.  And who needs THOUSANDS of book all at the same TIME?

geez. Things really start to verge on the metaphysical sometimes.

And what about these other things.  (What other things?) These "i" things.  (Eye things?) NO.  "i" things.  You know: that all the kids have.  (You mean "iPods"?)  YES! and those other damn things!  ("iPads"?) YES!!! GOD FORBID WE DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET AT ALL TIMES!!! Remember when you needed something so you checked the yella pages??? What's wrong with the yella pages?? (Well, you can view the yellow and white pages online now.) I KNOW!!! THAT'S THE PROBLEM!!!

I won't go on.

Anyway, these ladies were my SANITY last year.  During a time when I was trying to coherently describe a possible answer to a huge global problem, I stayed sane by listening to this at the pool all summer. I never joined the conversation, but they all knew I was listening.  They knew everyone in our zip code was listening.

There were some nights where I plodded through my ideas at that kitchen table--it could be like wading through quick sand with 10lb weights in each hand.  And I would get myself through by thinking, "If tonight's a bad night and I don't get anything great done, it doesn't matter. Because fifty years from now, when I'm reflecting on turning 80 while floating around on a noodle with my friends at the pool, none of this is going to matter. At all. So just get it done."

This summer is different because I don't have any intellectual heavy-lifting going on. But last week, I finally had formal introductions with the Pool Ladies and I think I made it into the club.  Apparently, they had all speculated that I was a high school kid who lived with her parents nearby.  When I told them I was 27 year old professor, they all fell to the floor laughing and said, "It must be nice to be mistaken for a high schooler!  Does it feel good?!"

You know what? I think it does.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's so damn hot

The only reason why I don't complain more is because I've come to despise blizzards and snow over the years.  So I guess this is the alternative, and I really shouldn't complain.



And, nothing grows during the winter--everything's dead.  So I guess I really, really shouldn't complain.


And I don't have the white bedspread out during the winter, which I really love because it's so summery.  So, I guess I really just shouldn't complain.


Plus, it makes sense to eat popsicles during the summer, but not the winter. And sometimes I really want a popsicle during the winter, but it's not worth it because then it's so damn cold.


I think the heat is supposed to break tonight? I'll just be grateful for my air conditioning and try not to complain.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Holy Mother of Jesus: please help me--I've crossed to the dark side


Dear Holy Mother: I bought an iPhone.  Do you know what that is? It is, quite simply, the Devil's right hand tool (or left hand? because left handed things are evil or something? I might have missed that lesson in CCD class).  Worst of all, I bought it mostly because I wanted the extra camera.  Things have suddenly become too easy and simple (especially texting, which was getting really tiresome because I was still pounding out "84433" simply to write "the").  I have done nothing to deserve this, and it's only a matter of time before the sin of buying simplicity is revealed to the world when my soul is so undeserving of the convenience. Oh Holy Mother: please protect me from the sin of spending too many minutes of the day staring at the phone, rather than the people and things right there next to me. And please don't let me forget to silence the phone in places where ringing is inappropriate.  Please protect me from paying too much for apps I don't need, and please don't let me become too dependent on auto-correct for my spelling.  Most of all Holy Mother, please don't let me drop the phone or get it wet.  Grazie Lei.

Holy Mother: my husband said the saddest thing to me in the car yesterday. Upon realizing the magic of having access to Google Maps in the car, he (my forever and eternal compass; he who never got lost once in Rome--have you been to Rome, O Holy Mother?  It's not a traditional grid--it's a winding, twisting circus of random streets, all baring three millennia of foot traffic, Fiats, and Vespas ... You should really go, Holy Mother, because there is a shrine dedicated to you on EVERY corner--not joking) ... Anyway, my lovely husband said to me, "I guess you won't need me anymore."

Me: Huh?
Ron: You won't need me anymore.
Me: Why would you say that?
Ron: If you always have access to a map, then you won't require or admire my 100% reliable and consistent sense of direction anymore. You won't need me anymore.

I don't know why, Holy Mother, but this literally broke my heart.  Because Ron NEVER gets lost. EVER.  He is one of those super annoying Eagle Scouts who says (and I would never lie to you, Holy Mother), "Well based on the position of the sun in the sky and the slanting of the shadows ... we should walk three blocks east ... which is THIS way ... and the address we want will be right there." This is one of my favorite things about him.  So I promised to get lost frequently and only call him for help.  Whereupon he reminded me that such behavior (ie, unnecessary dependence on someone else) is not really in line with the feminist philosophy that I so deeply personally and professionally espouse.  But, I told him that we'll set aside technicalities, and that he will remain my first and only true compass.

But, other than that Holy Mother, I'm pretty damn happy with this.  My only fear: I really just don't want the possession of this newfangled technology to turn me into one of those smart-phone-bumps-on-a-log that literally cannot string together a single coherent sentence in English without the assistance or approval of his/her phone.

So if we can avoid that, that would be great.

Oh, and thank you Holy Mother for my friend Joan who has texted me nonstop this morning to teach me how to use the phone which has been invaluably helpful.

And, please encourage my friend Jess to make a deal with me: When she comes over here to take pizza lessons from Ron, she has to teach me how to use this thing (in Joan's absence) while the dough is rising.  That's an hour of free tutoring, but I promise I won't torture her for more than an hour.  Your encouragement would be kindly appreciated.

Also, you could let the patron saint of telephones know that I need his/her extra protection? I don't know who it is, but it could be St. Clare since she's the patron saint of television ... technically, I can watch TV on the phone, so maybe I should stick with her? What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ambivalence about gazpacho


I saw this recipe in a recent issue of O, and it looked really good in the pictures.  It's been so freakin hot here for so many days on end that the idea of eating warm, let alone room temperature, food just seems foolish.  Now that I think about it, I don't remember when I last used any of the burners on my stove.

This was pretty easy to do, but it would be difficult without a food processor.  It also takes a lot of time to chop everything and getting it all together.  And you have to put in extra effort to avoid getting everything in your kitchen covered in melon juice.  But altogether it was easy.

I think I may replace half of the mint with basil next time--my peppermint is REALLY strong this year, and it was a little overkill in some bites.  I also did the shrimp skewers, but I TOTALLY overcooked them. I didn't care that much, but if Ron had been here he would've died, it was SO overdone.  You have to be careful because the shrimp marinate in lime juice and spices for ten minutes before cooking.  The acid in the lime juice cooks the shrimp (a la' ceviche) and then you're only supposed to grill the shrimp for four minutes total.  My grill (aka, my large electric griddle) was on a high heat setting and something tells me it should've been lower.  Oh well--Leslie and I still ate them, and our standards aren't that high (and we prefer food that's overcooked rather than undercooked).  If you're looking for a new way to eat your veggies, here you go!

That being said, I still don't know how I feel about cold soup.  Soup is my most favorite food in the world (not including dessert or stuff with frosting on it), but all of my favorite soups are hot.  I really like vegetables, but I always have to recalibrate my ... I don't know: tastebuds? expectations? ... when it comes to eating a cold vegetable stew. I don't dislike it, but I'm always disappointed when I don't love it.  And I haven't loved it yet, but in this weather what else is there to eat?  So I'm pretty sure I'll finish what's left, but I don't know if I'll be making batches of this on a weekly basis.

Laws of nature: sister edition


Rule #1: If there's only one of something, and both of you want it but don't feel like sharing it, then make sure you're the first to sit on it so that no one gets to have it.


Rule #2: Little sisters are fickle and impatient, not to mention easily distracted.  Older sisters know to wait them out: they'll get off of the disputed item eventually.


Yes, they're very easily distracted.


Rule #3: Once the disputed item becomes available, you better jump on it--fast.  Of course, you have to accept the fact that you may be stuck with leftovers.


But this is not always the case.  Apparently, cat grass is worth the wait.  I don't remember fighting over vegetables with my sister, but random toys? check. Chairs at the pool? check.  The front seat? check.  The shower? check, check, CHECK.  I guess whether furry or human, the bonds of sisterhood are pretty consistent across the board.  If I'm wrong, Leslie will let me know ; )

Monday, July 18, 2011

U2 in Philly

I was one of 70,000+ lucky people to see U2 last week, but it's literally taken days for the whole experience to sink in ... there's no way I could've said anything competent about hearing all (ALL) of my favorite songs sung live by the greatest living man on the planet on (what happened to be) The Most Beautiful Night of the Entire Summer So Far.  Ask anybody there--sober or totally bombed--and they'll tell you: "Dude, you don't get a more beautiful day* than this or a better band than this." Really, what else can I say?

* it wouldn't matter who you're talking to, the pun would be completely intended.

(Before I forget, you can go here--scroll down--to find our set list.)

(Also, really great pictures here.)

We bought these tickets nearly two years ago.  Ron and I met up with Leslie in Philly, and Leslie's friend Jen was also in attendance but, alas, not sitting with us. 



We were all placing bets on the opening song. Jen and I were totally, totally convinced that it would be Magnificent, but we were both wrong. That being said, it was a complete surprise to hear the show open with Even Better Than the Real Thing. And, that being said, I think Magnificent ended up being my most fave song of the entire night. We all picked one favorite that we HAD to hear that night: Leslie picked Walk On with Streets as a close second (excellent choices, and her wishes were granted); I picked Elevation but wished for Kite, even though I knew I wouldn't get Kite (bingo on both counts); I'm pretty sure I remember Jen wishing for City of Blinding Lights (a third wish granted!) because "you can think to yourself, 'Oh, Bono thinks that this IS THE CITY of Blinding Lights ... even though that's what everyone else in every other city thinks too."  Being the jerk that I am, I completely forget what Ron wished for ... why can't I remember? I want to say Beautiful Day (*ding ding ding!*).

Leslie still can't get over that Bono sung out Septa stops while greeting us at the beginning of the show: "69th Street Terminal! Fern Rock! 30th.Street.STATION!!!"  If you didn't love that man before, you have to love him now.  Seriously, what multi-millionaire remotely gives a crap about SIXTY-NINTH STREET?

Answer: Bono.

Leslie made her shirt years ago for the Vertigo tour--it says "the goal is soul" on the back ... if you know the song Elevation, this makes sense to you.

Everyone in Philly has been talking nonstop about the stage for this show.  It was massive.  It feels dumb even trying to talk about it because it was so complicated and did so many different things at once that it's hard to summarize all it could do. I won't even try.  I think I was the only person there not recording the show on a smart phone, so there has to be footage somewhere on YouTube or on U2.com.

Waiting and waiting for the show to start ...

 
Insanity in all of its splendor.

The spell is broken.
I'm sitting here thinking, "What should I say next?" But I have no idea what to say next.  The other night I said to someone that halfway through the show I checked-in with myself and asked, "So how is this so far?" And I heard myself answer, "I think this is what church must feel like.  I guess when people say that they 'love to go to church' this is the feeling that they must have when they're there.  I've never actually had this feeling in a church, but I know that I have that feeling here."  So I concluded that I go to church approximately every five years when Bono comes to town.

I'm already a pretty poor example of what it means to be a Catholic, so I don't think I'm making or breaking any part of my fate here.  But, when you hear SEVENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE singing the words to One with Bono helping out, you know you're experiencing something holy even though you're not in an actual place of worship.

Ok, I'll stop now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Iron Hill Twilight Crit

I knew I had to post about this before all of the little details fell away from my mind.  You know that summer is well under way when the Crit comes to town.  I believe this race first took place here in 2004, but I didn't make it a point to go until three or so years ago (mostly because my friend Mark told me I was CRAZY for not going).  Basically, it's "just" a bike race, but it's pretty intense.  A tight loop is created from Gay St., Church St., Market St., and Matlack St., and the women sprint 36 times around this loop and the men 46 times.  Did I mention it's intense?  My thighs ache just watching these cyclists--it's totally incredible. Anyway, the pix speak for themselves.  This ain't your mama's Saturday morning spin class, people.


Walking to the center of the race, we passed through an intersection that's typically JAMMED with cars ... only this evening it was turned into a giant driveway for "free chalk art."  Normally, if you sat in the middle of Market St. like that, you would be promptly run over by a) a SEPTA bus; b) some hot-shot lawyer in his BMW; or c) a twenty year old Honda driven by a texting-crazed undergrad.  So, this was a nice change.  And I think the kids loved it.

I missed the men's amateur race, which I felt bad about since one of my neighbors competed in it. (He finished ninth despite getting caught in a crash at one point--not too bad, right?)  The women raced next.


Omg, they are so fast it's absurd. I just don't get how you train your thighs and butt to do that.  It's insane.  You would think that it gets boring watching everyone speed by 36 times, but it doesn't.  As it winds down to the last five laps, it gets so exciting.

*Footnote*  Not to be all stalkery, but I think her outfit is adorable: LOVE big flares with platform wedges! Love love love!
 
Hi there!




That's not a creepy stranger taking pictures of me and Ron across the street--it's my mom! Hi Mom!
Then, the professional men's race begins literally as the last woman crossed the finished line.  Seriously, not even a moment to catch your breath (and I found myself holding my breath quite a bit at this event).


And they're off!  The women zoomed by so fast, but the men? Holy crap, it was almost frightening how fast they sped by. Seriously, if your elbow or (God forbid) your face was hanging one inch too far over the white railing, you risked having it wiped right off by one of the cyclists.  What's even scarier is that it's not abnormal for these guys to wipe out while going around the corners. We saw one wipe-out from afar, but most times these guys and gals pick right up and keep going.

When they rush by, it literally feels like a box fan blowing in your face.


That girl in the top window has the right idea.


Straw bales on the corner for potential crashes.  I didn't realize that this stretch of Matlack St. was an upward incline until race day.


A perfect night for a rooftop table on Market St.


I wonder if it's more or less exciting to watch the race from above?  Being on the ground is pretty exhilarating.


At this point in the race (probably eight laps left at this point), I realized, "Oh, so this is why it's called the Twilight Criterium!"



It was so cool to take pictures at the race because I had to pay so much attention to my shutter. Typically, I keep the camera on the aperture-priority setting and simply take pictures with a preferred depth of field (ideally) without blurriness. This time, for most of the event there was plenty of light--but not super bright light--so I could mess around with the settings and make the shutter the priority.  For once, I wanted things to blur in order to emphasize (rather: simply to portray) the speed of the cyclists.



And FINALLY, there is a new gelateria in town.  Sprazzo closed three years ago, and although there are lots of ice cream places, there's no place like a gelateria.  Ron had dark chocolate and cookies and cream, I had mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream, and my mom had (plain and simple): lemon.

I hate saying this, but I feel like summer is officially on the wane now that the race is over, sorta like when Halloween is over and you (or maybe it's just me) wake up on November 1st to ... well, Christmas.  I was at Target last night around 930pm when the store was pretty dead.  I strolled through all of the back-to-school stuff and thought, "How can this be?  Are we that far away from Memorial Day?"  Anyway, I'm not going to dwell on it.  It was a terrific race night--there's plenty of summer remaining!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What I did this week

It seemed like a busy week ... I go to bed tired every night, so that must mean something? Anyway, remember those zucchini I bought last week at the Kennett Farmer's market?  I did make it a point to do something with them, although I didn't manage to eat all of the beets--I should've given some to my mom and sister, but I just didn't think about it.  So the first thing I made were the zucchini pancakes.


I used this recipe, but I added a potato and used my food processor to grate everything (rather than a freakin box grater which TOTALLY destroyed my nails last time).  Don't forget to squeeze the water out of everything (even though Ina doesn't mention it)--I think this is why they weren't as soggy as last time.  They were great for dinner, but they would actually make a perfect breakfast food.  The next day, I made zucchini bread. I didn't have a recipe for this, so I randomly chose this one and added 1/2 cup of craisins and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and accidentally forgot about the walnuts.  It's pretty good.  I may pick a different recipe next time ...


"Why is there a big freakin hole in the center?" you may ask.  Well, whenever I make ANYTHING in my loaf pan, the recipe usually needs one hour in the oven.  EVERY TIME, I open the oven at the 60 minute mark and it always looks perfectly done ... but then I stick the damn skewer in the center and it's always LIQUID.  This time, instead of just making a small hole in the top, I accidentally pushed the whole top into the molten center. Great.  So I added 12 minutes to the timer and it finally finished at that point.  The mystifying thing about zucchini bread is that nothing about it tastes like zucchini. At all.  What's with that?

So those were my adventures in cooking/baking for the week.

I finally made a tablecloth for the table on the back deck.


I bought some outdoor canvas at Joann Fabric a few weeks ago.  Naturally, I picked out something turquoise. With birds on it.  (If you've ever eaten a meal at my house, you know about my obsession with these things.)  Much like baking things in loaf pans, nothing ever gets sewn correctly the first time in this house (Molly's apron being the big exception).

Love my big fishy that momma gave me for my bday last summer.  Grow, mint, grow!
This time, all I had to do was a simple "hem" with mitered corners. Oh God help me.  The first time I needed to do mitered corners, I pretty much nailed them (I was making napkins, so there were a lot of corners).  But ever since that first project, I just haven't been able to get them so right.  The corners didn't turn out too badly here, but I had to rip out the first twelve inches of finished edging once, and technically I should've ripped it out a second time, but I was beyond fed up and I steamrolled right down the other three sides.  Turns out it was bobbin trouble--I managed to fix it, but I hope no one notices those troubled twelve inches ...

Anyway.
I'm pleased in the end.

At least the tomato plants and the herbs have taken off.  I wish the San Marzano plant was doing a little better, but the tomatoes that are on there are turning out nicely.


This little guy had no idea that he would wind up in a frittata hours after this photo was taken ...
Today, Ron took a half day and we went back to the Kennett Farmer's Market.  It was pretty empty because it actually rained today.  It was almost weird, it's been so long since it actually rained for real. After we bought a bunch of stuff for tonight's dinner, we stopped at Talula's Table to check out the pastry case.


We (let's be honest: I) settled on a cream puff and a s'mores rice krispy treat.  The cream puff was soooo good.  I'm so used to those nasty little things that get mixed into supermarket cookie trays--so gross.  I only touch them out of desperation.  But, THIS was different.


I think I enjoyed the rice krispy treat just a little bit more.  It's such a cute place in there. I loved that they had a Carl Larsson painting on the wall.

"Breakfast Under the Big Birch Tree" via here


See the painting in the center of the wall?  I really want my own now.
We made our way home, and Ron made spicy corn salad with craisins and edamame, grilled peppers and onions, and steak from the Country Butcher.  It's still pretty rainy out there, but things improved enough for outdoor cooking. Something tells me that we're probably not going anywhere tonight.  Tomorrow is the Iron Hill Twilight Crit ... I hope to get some good pictures, but we'll see ...