Sunday, July 2, 2017

It Was a Great Phone While It Lasted

During the trip to Williamsburg, my phone decided to have a tantrum and gave me all sorts of problems.  Of course, just when I needed it most for directions, finding restaurants, running the Colonial Williamsburg app, and all those things you need your smartphone for when you’re on vacation.

It just won’t hold a charge.  It has performed like a champ since I got it, and now, suddenly, it’s getting ready to abandon me!

Darned phone.

So I got irritated at it today, and took the plunge.  I ordered a new phone, AND got an unlimited data plan.  It turns out the unlimited plan is the same price as my old plan – what a deal!

I ordered the new Google Pixel XL.  I feel a little guilty.  My first smartphone was the original Motorola Droid, and I’ve had Droids ever since.  But there are no Droids available, Turbo or otherwise, and I’m not a fan of the Motorola Moto, so I caved and went with the Pixel.  It seemed the most like my poor old Droid Turbo II.

Image result for google pixel xl
It should be here Wednesday!

ACK!

Not that I’m excited or anything.

I just have to nurse the old phone along until then.  It’s been a good ol’ phone.

Don't spill the beans and tell it what I'm up to!  If it finds out, you KNOW it will die early!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Williamsburg on the Half Shell



Governor'S Palace, WilliamsburgEarlier this month, I drove to Lexington, picked up my sister, and drove to Williamsburg for a girls' week of fun and frolic!

After settling in and figuring out how to navigate the city (it's divided by train tracks, and you're always on the wrong side), we took a day and drove up to Baltimore to visit The Girl and her family.  The Son-in-Law had told her Williamsburg was about 1 1/2 hours away, but as it turned out, it's 3 1/2 hours - ONE WAY.  Thank you, MapQuest!

We went anyway.

The Girl directed us to Fells Point in the Inner Harbor, where we caught the red water taxi and rode it round trip back to Fells Point.  It was a glorious day on the water - sunny and breezy, the boat wasn't crowded, and we got to eyeball all the sights of the Inner Harbor in comfort from the water.  Much better than trudging around cobbled/brick streets with a stroller!

After we left to head back to Williamsburg, I took a little detour to show my sister something The Girl had pointed out to me when I visited for the second grand's arrival.  Here's a picture:

These bushes are in a CEMETERY.  The carefully trimmed shapes are weirdly appropriate, don't you agree?  They must be the work of either a disgruntled employee or someone totally clueless.

We think it's hilarious.

Yes, my family has a twisted sense of humor.

Anyway, back to Williamsburg.  Planning this trip, we were ready for loads of Colonial and Revolutionary history, but we didn't anticipate seafood.  Restaurants serving oysters, crabs, lobster, and crab cakes were EVERYWHERE.

Upon further consideration, it makes sense.  Williamsburg sits on a peninsula, between the James River and the York River, ending at the Chesapeake Bay.  Archaeological excavations at Williamsburg and Jamestown have uncovered tens of thousands of oyster shells (yes, they actually count them).

By the end of the week, we had a favorite - Fat Tuna Grill and Oyster House.  I confidently ordered oysters on the half shell.  Our server asked what kind I wanted.  Well, raw, of course.  No, no, what KIND of oysters did I want - and oh, by the way, they were out of Blue Points.  Uh...what?  On the board above the bar, there were listed at least FIVE kinds of oysters - this one is fairly sweet, that one is the saltiest...  We'd had no idea!

We also ordered crab cakes, and they were nearly all crab - hardly any bread crumbs to hold them together - and HUGE.  A young couple near us ordered whole crabs, and when the bucket arrived, those peoples' eyes boggled!  I don't think they knew what part of which crab to start cracking.

And the hush puppies - oh my!

We went for the history and fell in love with the food!

We had made a wish list of places we would have liked to have visited, but we ran out of days and barely scratched the surface.  We saw Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.  We visited The Girl and saw the Inner Harbor.  We went to a harpsichord/organ concert.  I took a short class in spinning wool into yarn using a drop spindle.  We bought running shoes at an outlet mall (you have to keep your priorities straight)!

So here's the list of leftovers for the next trip to Virginia (in no particular order):
  • Virginia Beach
  • Washington, DC
  • Chincoteague Island
  • Asateague Island National Seashore (wild ponies!)
  • Fredericksburg
  • Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
  • Monticello
I've got my work cut out for me!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ah, Spring at Last!

It finally feels like SPRING!  Not that the winter was so terrible.  We had hardly any snow.  There were no ice storms.  The temperatures weren't anything to get excited about.  But winter in central Indiana isn't pretty.

Winters here are an ugly dark gray/brown, wet, and cold, with an occasional frigid day or week.  Snow makes things look bright and cheery for a bit, then it melts in the late afternoon and refreezes at night.  Or it rains during the day and freezes overnight.  Or there's freezing rain.  Or the ever-popular "wintry mix."  UGH.

Mostly it's hypothermia weather - wet and cold-ish.

Then there's the precursor to spring - rain and wind and mud - oh my!  Still not pretty.

But this past week - suddenly SPRING!  The grass glows with the color of a green crayon. Dandelions and violets have invaded the yard!  Daffodils and tulips bloom in their beds!  Peonies, day lilies, and hostas poke up from the ground!  Asparagus begs to be cut in the garden!  Fuzzy ducklings and goslings block traffic at the marina!  Tree frogs sing in the evening!  Magnolia, dogwood, and redbud trees bloom in a riot of magenta, pink, and white!  All at once!

Nature has had enough of winter, and as my dad would say, "Spring has sprung!"  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hoosier Pie, Revisited

It has been pointed out to me that in my excitement to write about yummy Hoosier Pie I thoughtlessly neglected to provide the magic recipe!  (It has been suggested that it was intentional, to see just exactly how many people actually read this blog - HA!)

So here it is, in all its glory.  The only thing I changed from the original recipe is the addition of nutmeg.  I used my trusty Sunbeam Heritage stand mixer, which made it super easy to make the filling nice and smooth.

If you're curious about the history of Sugar Cream Pie, there's some interesting information here and here.  




OLD FASHIONED CREAM PIE

1 cup sugar
scant 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
9" pie crust, unbaked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk or sift together the dry ingredients.  Stir in half of the cream to make a thick paste.  Stir until very smooth.  Add the remaining cream, then beat lightly, again until very smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour into the unbaked pie crust.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, then dot with butter.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 45 minutes.  Let it cool on a wire rack about 15-20 minutes before cutting.
      


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hoosier Pie

Indiana has had an official state pie - sugar cream - since 2009.  I had it for the first time sometime in the 1970s - I think Christmas or New Year's Eve.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

But all the sugar cream pies I've had since have been disappointing - pale, bland, heavy, and tasteless.

Until today.

I got a copy of the recipe of that long ago first sugar cream pie, and it has quite a lineage.  My sister had the recipe, given to her by her mother-in-law, and given to her by her mother.

Oh my.  It's just as I remembered it - rich and sweet and flavored with vanilla, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Talk about a sugar rush!

It's not a custard pie - no eggs.  It's closer to pecan pie in texture, but not really the same.  It's just...itself.  I believe it will have to make an appearance this Thanksgiving...

Anyway, I used to think having an official state pie (or rock, or insect, for that matter) was frivolous at best, but frivolous or not, that's a mighty fine pie!  Thanks, oh sister of mine, and thanks, Grandmother Scheidler!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SHUT THE DOOR!


After years and years of having an open door policy, I have given up and SHUT THE DOOR - to the bedroom.

We've had a parade of cats for around 20 years, and they've had access to most of the house all that time.  But now, as you may have read earlier, since June, we have four, yes, count them, FOUR, cats and ONE large (sweet) dog, and it has become a HAIRY issue, literally.

There's hair on the bed (the other bedrooms were already off limits), hair on the stairs, hair on the rugs, hair on the chairs, hair on the sofa, hair along the baseboards, hair in the bathroom sinks.  You get the picture - everything is covered with HAIR.  And no, it is NOT true that everything tastes better with cat/dog hair in it.  Bleah.

I could dust mop and vacuum every day, and still find hair/fur tumbleweeds rolling down the hallway.  There's so much hair, I often wonder why the cats aren't completely bald.  The dog contributes, too, of course, but there's only one of him, even though he's so big.

I do like the way the cats cuddle with me on the sofa and on the bed, though - until Feline Thermonuclear War is declared.  Then I'm trampled by what feels like a herd of elephants, accompanied by growling, yowling, hissing, and barking (the cats, not the dog - yes, our cats bark).  It sounds like mountain lions have overrun the house.  The dog cowers in his crate (it's his safe space).

To truly understand the phrase, "the fur flies," you need to see my house after a bout of FTW - there are big tufts of fur all through the house.  The cats don't discriminate among the rooms open to them.  It's an equal opportunity war zone.

Anyway, I went to Disney World with The Girl and The First Grand for a week early this month.  Imagine it - a week with NO ANIMAL HAIR.  What a concept.

It didn't even occur to me until after I got home and was immediately covered in animal hair just how much I try to cat-proof the house.  While I was gone, I didn't worry about where to put things down to avoid cats lying on them, whether the strings for the blinds were dangling enticingly or the blinds themselves were reachable so the ends of the slats could be used as chewy toys, or where I put my fingernail file (also a favorite chewy toy), or whether the shower curtain and liner were in a position to be shredded, or where I put papers to keep them from being barfed on.

Thus, after being home a couple of weeks, and one particularly bad night when I tossed all the cats out into the hall, I decided to SHUT THE DOOR to the last bedroom.  They'll just have to make do with the hallways, the living room, the dining area, the kitchen, one bathroom, the utility room, and the stairs.

And I get to use the bedroom again without any cat-consciousness.  Oh, happy day!  I can put away the fleece throws and old towels meant to keep the cats and their fur off my unseen, but attractive, comforter.  I can use the blinds normally.  I can fold clothes on the bed.  I can open the windows all the way.  I can get up in the middle of the night and not step on a fresh, wet hairball (oh, THAT'S a treat!).  I can get dressed without a lint roller.

With that ONE decision, I made some parts of my life easier.  Just by shutting the door!

There's a lesson there, somewhere.




Saturday, February 25, 2017

If You Don't Like the Weather, Wait Five Minutes...

Yesterday, it was 73 degrees.  This is our house this morning.

No wonder half the office was out sick at some point this week.  We've had some really wild temperature swings this month.

Remember, I went downhill skiing three hours SOUTH of here three weeks ago!  And last weekend, I was running around the yard in shorts and a t-shirt.

Yes, spring is coming, even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted it's not arriving for at least another three weeks, but it's putting forth a mighty effort to break out and run rampant.

So here we are, stuck in the middle of it all, and now we have to figure out what to wear tomorrow.

Good luck with that!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Help! I Sat Down and Can't Get Up!


Animals!

I'm surrounded by ANIMALS!

How did this happen?!?!?

How, indeed.

It all started with one tiny kitten, found under a neighbor's porch.  Then he needed a companion, so we adopted another.  A friend had a cat with kittens and we took the one with the funny face.

You see where this is going.

With the ebb and flow of life, we lost some cats and gained some cats.  We were finally once again down to only two older cats, and thought attrition would take care of things, but alas.

That Girl moved to to Baltimore and, long story short, left us her animals.  Two MORE cats and a large dog, all young.

Yes, friends and neighbors, since last summer we've had four, count them, FOUR cats and a big dog!

I constantly pick hairs off my clothes.  I dust mop or vacuum several times a week, and when I walk down the hall, there are STILL animal hair tumbleweeds rolling along ahead of me.  Thank God none of them has long hair.

Two of the cats reenact the Civil War daily, leaving clumps of each other's hair all over the house.  They all get hairballs and throw them up where we are guaranteed to step on them.  Two cats eat too fast and throw up their food.  Of course, That Dog helps clean up the messes.  Best.  Treats.  Ever.  Eeeewwwwww!

Why do we put up with it all?  You know - yes, you do.

When I sit on the sofa, one cat curls up on my lap and falls asleep.  One climbs onto my lap, puts his "arms" around my neck and bumps his head against my chin.  One curls up on the back of the sofa behind my head and puts a paw on my shoulder or head.  One presses up against my hip and pulls at my arm with a paw, wanting to be petted.  That Dog drops a tennis ball on my lap.

All they want is to loved.

Isn't that what we all want, really?


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Slip Sliding Away...

Saturday, I spent the day sliding down a hill on a couple of slats. Woo hoo!

About a month ago, a friend sent an email blast asking who'd like to attend a women's ski clinic. I'd been wanting to get back into it, so I piled on.

We met at the ski resort, and along with ten other women, we signed waivers, rented equipment, posed for a picture in front of the lodge, and away we went!

I was put in the group with experience, but not recent. We headed to the bunny hill and took turns attacking the gentle slope.  Well, "attacking" may not be the best description. Maybe "sneaking up on" would be more accurate.  I started down the hill, my brain shrieking, "NO-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!" all the way down! My skis wouldn't behave. My body was all over the place. I was stiff with fear. Just a complete hot mess.

After three times down the hill, I still felt out of control. Every time we stopped on the slope, I kept sliding into the woman next to me - how embarrassing! I was sure I'd NEVER be able to ski competently again. Our instructor made suggestions, all things I knew,  but just couldn't quite execute. No. Muscle. Memory.

Then suddenly, something clicked.

We moved to the next slope. A little longer. With a chairlift. My turns improved. I moved my weight forward on the skis. I attacked the hill. Yes, attacked.

By the time I was finished, I felt ready to ski on my own. I got to try the latest performance skis, rediscovered a favorite physical activity, and even got a report card - well, okay, a "progress report." I'm well on the way to recovering my old skills.

Colorado, here I come! Well, maybe Michigan first, but...

I can't wait!!!