Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thank you, Peonies! See you next year

They're all gone for another year. Here's a look at What Was and Is No Longer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life between weekdays--long weekend edition

... plus some other random stuff from last week.

Amy and Maya

I captured the one moment where Maya is not giggling.

Everything was fine at my grandfather's bday party despite the ugly cake.  At least it still tasted good.

"Viva l'America!"--my other grandfather, who survived D-Day in Normandy and went on to remember the friends who didn't.  Happy Memorial Day, Granddad!

Recognize the little guy in the suit?  We were over at Ron's relatives' house this weekend and this was sitting out on the bookshelf.  Ron looks at it and goes, "Jesus: look how much hair I have."  He's the cutest little boy ever.  I rarely see photos like this.

Joan drove home from the end of another school year. Paloma navigated the drive.

Leslie came over for pancakes Monday morning.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but these are teeny tiny. The one on top is a little bigger than a quarter.

Summer is here!  The pool has been filled since April, but it officially opened this weekend.  I didn't go this weekend because I never go until June for whatever reason.  Nothing better than a short week so that the next weekend gets here faster.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Prr Grr Bumble Fluff!!!

Four years old today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to ruin a birthday cake in a few time-consuming steps

Pay close attention. I will not repeat this.

1) Commit to bringing your grandfather's birthday cake to your mother's house for his birthday party.

2) Pick out your favorite recipe that you've done a thousand times. I picked Ina's chocolate cake which I always use with Nigella's chocolate frosting (because I will never feel safe using raw egg in anything ... sorry Ina). NOTE: If you use this combination of recipes, then you MUST double the amount of frosting to accommodate the entire cake. Learned this one the hard way ... twice.

3) Stay up really late to bake the cake because it's really warm out and you don't want to use the oven during the day because you're too cheap to turn on the AC before June 1.

4) The next morning, make the frosting and frost the cake before the kitchen gets too warm and you run the risk of having the frosting melt and drip off the cake.

5) Frost the cake and really ENJOY the process. Tell yourself, "Look at me: I'm SO GOOD at this.  I'm so glad I know how to make such a great cake. This is something that all people should know how to do. *sigh* I really am amazing.  Let me use my iPhone to take a bunch of hippy-dippy vintage-looking photos of the whole process so I can, like, create The Cutest Blog Post Ever."  Continue inflating your ego while frosting.  This is imperative. Do not skip this step.

6) Everything looking good? Good.  So the top is slightly crooked. That's ok. That makes it look wonky and cute, like a shabby chic, homemade cake. That's what we're going for here. Genius.  Keep going:

7) Perfection!  There's even icing left over which has never happened before because typically you run out before you're finished! This is great.  Now all that's left is to put some sprinkles on the top, remove the foil and, finally, to destroy the finished product. Ready?

Ta-DA! You did it! Here's the magic secret step: It's all about the tin foil. Make sure that you place the foil a tad (just a little! not too much! you don't need to put much effort into this kind of mistake) too far under the bottom layer of the cake.  Of course, this is to protect the plate from getting covered in frosting, but MORE importantly this step will ensure that


8) Pick up the phone. Dial your mother's number. Expect your sister to pick up.

9) Your mother will assume that you did not/could not/have no intention of making the cake.  Scream at your mother (via your sister) on the phone that you DID make the cake.  You're NOT calling to say, "Hey mom: I know you've been going nuts prepping for this party all week and the only thing I had to do was to bring the stupid cake, but can you go buy one? I ran out of time."  No, you're calling to say, "I RUINED THE GODDAMN CAKE AND I WANT TO KILL SOMEBODY."  But, your mom is too busy chasing her cat down the front yard because the cat is chasing a squirrel and your sister is yelling, "I CAN'T BE THE GO-BETWEEN ON THE PHONE!! YOU GUYS NEED TO TALK TO EACH OTHER!!"

10) Hang up on your sister who is yelling your message to your mother who is chasing the cat on the front lawn.

11) Yell the F-word REALLY loud in your kitchen even though all of your windows are open and your neighbors can hear you.

You did it!  That's how you ruin a perfectly good birthday cake! YAAAY!!!! Don't you feel like a mature, responsible grown-up?  If you don't, you should!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Pen Pen Penners!!!

Three years old today.

Philly with Ron

When we were in college, Ron and I would go downtown all of the time.  We only saw each other twice a month back then, so we would try to make the most of any date we could cobble together.  Sometimes we would just walk around in Society Hill or Rittenhouse or go to a museum. Other times, we would pick a restaurant we hadn't tried and have dinner or go see a movie that wasn't playing in the 'burbs.  At that point in time, I really, really wanted to move downtown and spend at least part of my 20s there.  When I started grad school in Philly, it took about one semester (and one snow storm) for me to realize, "Ugh, I never want to live here," and that dream died a pretty fast death.

The last time I took the train to go to Philly was a year ago on graduation day.  I haven't missed it very much.  Ron had an event for work on last Friday afternoon, and spouses were invited to attend.  Very, very luckily, it was a beautiful day (ie, good hair day).

After Ron's presentation was over, we went up to the 25th floor of his building to see the view. He had been talking about it all week, and I can't say I blamed him: The one good thing about my grad classes was the view.  Depending on which room/building we were in, I could see the river, all the bridges, the planes taking off and landing at the airport ... or, more dismally, circling in a holding pattern above the river.  My school was pretty far north, so center city was in the distance rather than right below me.  I'll take you all around in a circle:

Looking northwest
Looking northeast
Looking east
West--Ron says the tree line on the horizon is Valley Forge ... he's an Eagle Scout so I guess that means he would know? or not.
I didn't have any real ideas of where we should go.  I used to be so good at knowing what was new and what's worth seeing.  Sadly, I don't really care anymore.  I'm so disenchanted with this city.

When in doubt, walk to Rittenhouse. (Unless it's dark ... in which case you're better off not being anywhere outside.  If you must be outside, bring your mace and carry your keys to use as daggers in your attacker's eyes.  See? I learned something in grad school.  Oh, and when you hear "pop pop popopopop," that's not firecrackers. Those are gun shots. I learned that one the hard way.)

The park was pretty crowded--not surprising on such a nice day.  All kinds of people hang around, and some of the nicer restaurants are placed around the perimeter (ie, Rouge and Parc ... although someone who lives there may be thinking, "ugh! Those places are SO seven years ago!")

Whenever I think of Rittenhouse Square, I think of one day in particular. It was the exact same time of year--the spring semester had just ended, and Ron was officially back for the summer.  We went downtown on the same kind of afternoon, and I made him wait for me while I walked through the Anthropologie on the corner. (If you have a chance to visit the Anthro at 18th and Walnut, make sure you go all the way through. It's four floors in a former private residence. The details of the building itself are absolutely beautiful: stone balconies, intricate ceilings--one of which has hundreds of painted portraits set into it--and massive fireplaces and moldings, etc. Really amazing.)

Before I went into Anthro, I was really frustrated because I wanted to get a particular shot of Rittenhouse Square--with that little glassed-in gazebo thing, above, and the fountain that's off to the right of it--but I couldn't get it.  When you stand in this particular spot, there are several "levels" to the view: the ground view with the gazebo, the fountain, benches, and people; the trees; the skyscrapers rising out the trees; and the sky on top.  I simply couldn't fit it all in one frame and I finally gave up.

When I came out on Anthro on 18th Street, Ron was pointing at his watch, "We're gonna miss that express train you want to catch--you better move it cause I don't wanna hear it."  (I whine a lot, so he was just catching me up on reality.) We began walk-sprinting down the street, and I almost tripped on my face when I saw this not even half a block later:

It was a watercolor of the exact picture I couldn't take.  I freaked out in the middle of the sidewalk when I saw it.  The guy who painted it had a ton of work on display, but I only cared about this one.  I turned to Ron and said, "We're going to miss that train. I need to think about this ... Do you have any money? I think I have five bucks."  I have no idea how much we paid for it ... maybe $35?  It could've been $25.  I was literally shaking out my change purse on the sidewalk and counting out nickles and pennies.  I would've bartered my train ticket for it.  The artist was really cool. He was like, "Are you kids married? Are you decorating an apartment?"  I was like, "Are you kidding? I'm 20 and live with my mom."  (Why can't I remember his name? Joe something. I can't read his signature ... an art dealer later told me that this artist is DMX's father ... still haven't confirmed if that's true.  If you're wondering who DMX is, ask my friend Erin: she knows all about him.)

I was so thrilled with this--there was no way I was going home on the train without this.  I think we sprinted all the way back to Suburban Station and still caught the train. It really didn't take me long to make up my mind about it.  Later, I had it framed and it hung over my bed until I moved out. Today, it's hung over the same bed in my second bedroom but it looks really, really out of place.  I was just saying to my mom the other week that I may sell it--the girl who bought it back in 2004 doesn't exist anymore, so why would I keep her stuff around?  Until recently, I always believed I would hang it in my first office, but those odds are looking bad.

Now that I've really reflected on this story for the first time in years, I want to keep it again.  Eh, we'll see.

This guy's work pops up a lot in this area. Back in 2006, Ron had been in our current house for a few months. My mom and I went into West Chester for the Christmas parade, and one of the art galleries had a whole display of the same guy's work.  The next day, Ron came home with the painting you see behind my chandelier in all of my kitchen table shots.

This one has Love Park in the foreground, a busy Ben Franklin Parkway in the middle ground, and the crown jewel--the Philadelphia Museum of Art--in the background.

Anyway. I digress.

I did not buy any art last Friday. But we did walk down Walnut Street, and we bought candy because that's really my favorite thing to buy.  This is Philly Chocolate.

Not only is the place jammed with candy, but everything is painted Martha Blue.

We picked out a bunch of stuff:

A chocolate covered Oreo with a face on it

A chocolate covered pretzel stick (which Ron bit before I could stop him) and a marshmallow skewer with more Oreos on it, plus four chocolate covered Swedish fish (which are shockingly good).  My favorite was the marshmallows.

The sugar was definitely needed and appreciated.  I sort of thought about walking all the way to Society Hill, but my feet were killing me so we walked to the train instead.

We arrived in time for an express train, and we even lucked out and caught one of the brand new trains (that are two years past due) which is really nice because nothing's crappier than sitting on a 40 year old Septa train at rush hour.

Market East
We came home, ordered a pizza, and sat out back with the Fluffs.

No plans to go back to Philly any time soon, but I may find a reason to go back to Philly Chocolate ...