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5 posts from April 2009

April 28, 2009

I looked

into the garage tonight, and for the first time in a very long time, I didn't flinch.  In fact, I heaved a huge sigh of relief.  Why?  

There is almost enough room to....park a car inside the garage.

This may sound trivial or silly to some, but it has been a goal of mine since we moved into this house.  We were so excited to finally have a house that had a garage that was attached to the house.  Some might say I want for too much but after three years of trying to get the car into the teeny, tiny garage in Iceland, only to have it nowhere near the house in the land of sleet, sun, snow and ice (all in 5 minutes time)?  Frustrating, at best. 

It was lovely to have a garage, but the point of a garage (especially with the aforementioned variable weather in Iceland, IMHO) is to have it attached to the house.  That way,  one can walk from the car to the house without having to slide through the backyard (mud, water, ice, snow), and nearly seriously injure oneself just trying to get up the back steps. 

Now the weather is not like that of Iceland (which saddens us in the winter), but it may well rain again, oh, in October, so it is best that we are prepared.  Our garage had become a storage unit, with no possibility of housing the car, and I realized that I could no longer stomach it.  I wanted one of those neat, clean organized garages with the epoxy floors (okay, that part is out) that are lined with storage boxes, rather than a messy cement floor strewn with the detritus of three plus recent moves.

In my defense, I would say 60% of it is not really "my stuff", however, I have had a hard time sorting through it.  Most of it is from Mom and stuff that I was able to ignore in Iceland. 

 All of the Flylady  and de-cluttering tips in the world could not get me to go through those boxes.  I tried and tried, and it was to no avail.  I realized I could leave everything on the shelves of the basement, and it didn't affect the state of the rest of the house.  It didn't change where we parked the car, and I was not embarrassed when the kids wanted to haul toys out of the garage, because my tangible memories were neatly boxed away in the vast basement.

Until now.  Now they are shelved (and boxed) in the only storage space we have available.  Ironically, we are not the only ones who utilize this method.  When we first arrived in this area, I was stunned by the number of folks that seemed to be preparing for garage sales.  Every house that had an open garage door seemed to have boxes stacked everywhere, oodles of outdoor toys, and hanging racks full of clothes.  

We were excited to be back in the land of "sell garages" (as Cait used to call them), until we realized that these weren't preparations, but simply the only place that people have here to store their extra belongings.  No basements & no attics = little to no storage for most houses.  

While I originally shuddered at the thought of not having a basement, I have come to the conclusion that this may be the exact kick in the you-know-what I have needed for years.  I have had to face my fears about truly unpacking every time the kids want to scooter or the sprinkler system needs adjusting. It also helped that the movers managed to mix our basement stuff up with mom's. 

Somehow, three weeks ago, when I was supposed to be preparing for our trip to Toledo, I decided it was time to tackle the garage. Enough was enough.  I started Freecycling extra empty boxes, and moved on to items I found that we simply didn't use anymore.  The more I plundered through, the more I wanted it clean, and now!

It hasn't happened overnight, but with a few hours here and there over the past few weeks, I have been able to clear out about one third of the garage.  It isn't perfect, and there is still more to do, but I can now open the door and sigh with relief versus frustration.  I know that if I keep up the work, one day soon my garage will be at least semi-organized and I might just be prepared earlier than usual for our next move.

In other news, some of you may know that one of the perks of Peter's job is the joy of meetingDalailama  new (and sometimes famous) people through his  protective details.  He had a repeat protectee this weekend, in the form of the Dalai Lama.  While he wasn't touched this time (twice in 99!), he did manage to procure a treat for me.  Now do I read it until the spine cracks, or enshrine it in a permanent place of honor, that is the question!

April 19, 2009

Discovering Downtown

Yes, Nicholas and I have journeyed east and are currently enjoying the sights and sounds of Toledo.  We tried to plan several different things for today, but ended up going with an idea of discovering the downtown area a bit.  While not as bustling as San Francisco, I was pleasantly surprised by a small, but serviceable farmers market.  I was able to procure green beans for tomorrow's dinner, heavenly-scented beeswax candles, and a preservative-free apple crumble, also for tomorrow night.

One has to understand that Toledo used to be far more active downtown.  Many more businesses, Portside (based on the Baltimore Inner Harbor shopping center), COSI, restaurants; unfortunately, many have hit hard times.  

The new stadium (home of the Mud Hens) is helping to revitalize the area.  Not only is there a Packos at the park, but new "clean and green" candle company.  I found even more candles (soy cucumber mint votives), and we headed off to the original Tony Packo's.

Anyone who watched M*A*S*H has heard of Tony Packo's. It is famous far and wide for good reason. The chili mac is excellent and they stay true to their Hungarian roots.  While the menu has expanded slightly over the years, there is nothing off the wall or unexpected, just a few twists on old favorites (the new veggie and chicken chili varieties).

I opted for the traditional chili mac, while Dad tried the veggie chili.  Nicholas happily attacked the oyster crackers with gusto and made an occasional stab at a fried pickle.  Mmm, fried pickles...healthy?Marianne  No.  Yummy?  You bet!  We also had a surprise visitor during lunch and caught up for a few minutes before going off to one last errand.

Skyr We stopped at Fresh Market and I was treated to a huge surprise.  I have been looking for Skyr, or anything remotely Skyr-like since we left Iceland.  Being that we are so far west, I realize it may be a pipe dream to ever expect it locally.  Imagine my utter shock when I went looking for heavy cream today and happened instead upon Siggi's Icelandic-style Skyr!  I have not tasted it yet, but can't wait to enjoy as part of breakfast tomorrow.

The best part of today though, by far?  Sharing in the celebration of my grandfather's 96th birthday.  ItGrandpere  is no small feat to have such a long lifespan, and I felt so lucky that not only were we able to participate, but that my grandfather was finally able to meet his great-grandson.  His actual birthday is not until Thursday, but having the party on the weekend allowed many more of us to attend.  I don't know how much Nicholas understood (other than the fun of trying to out-run his cousins), but I will always cherish the memory of this gathering of generations.  

April 12, 2009

We just made it

IMG_2362 in under the wire.  Last year, we completely forgot about dyeing eggs.  We managed a few blown eggs (a very delicate procedure if I do say so myself), but with me worrying about Nicholas constantly (in my defense, it had been some time since I had a newborn), we just ran out of time.  We were going to do it as a 'post-Easter' activity, but then had visitors, and, oh, moved.

IMG_2363We just finished up this year's batch. It wasn't huge, as we tried a new method this year: natural egg dyes.  As we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle (in general), we figured what better way than to naturally color the eggs?  Many folks do this anyway, and since it was similar to a science experiment (we didn't really know how the colors would turn out), the kids were quite eager to try.

Here you have it: all 12 or so eggs (plus 3 blown eggs) that made it through the dyeing process.  YouIMG_2365 name it, we tried it:  carrots, chard, coriander seed, blueberries, raspberries, and natural dyes by India Tree.  I was a little disappointed at first, but the colors deepened as they dried.  Within half an hour, the kids were extremely excited to see the results.  The best part?  No worries about what they actually use in the regular dye kits and we used up (naturally) some extra veggies that were already headed for the compost pile.

Now, off to complete those slightly more holistic baskets, mostly filled with the shred Grandpa Kirk so thoughtfully sent in his recent box o' goodies!

Happy Easter og Gledileg Paska to all!

April 07, 2009

Lost Vegas, Day One

Just a few photos, and a quick update. By the time we get back each night, I can barely crawl in bed, much less type, so here we go...

Monday we headed off to find Madame Tussaud's after a quick breakfast at America in New York, New York. After a long walk (darn those windy, confusing casinos!) and a quick monorail trip, and another long walk, we arrived. It seemed slightly less impressive than London, but that was me. The kids definitely got a kick put of it, and you will see when I get around to uploading the camera pics.

We walked around a bit and headed back to the hotel to quickly switch rooms begott dinner. We opted for the Residence Inn over a casino for room size and distance from construction reasons (major projects ongoing until 2016). Other than a not so comfy murphy bed issue, it has worked out nicely.

We spent the remainder of the evening at the Excalibur's Tournament of Kings. The kids loved it (and eating with their hands); even Nicholas was jumping up and clapping.

That was pretty much it for us, and we headed back to the hotel in the hopes of getting a good night's sleep, and not missing breakfast (again) the next morning,

Lost Vegas, Day One

Lost Vegas, Day One

Lost Vegas, Day One

Lost Vegas, Day One

April 05, 2009

Vegas, Baby!

IMG_0495 We loaded up the Truckster yesterday (newly detailed, which I highly recommend prior to a road trip), didn't forget any kids, thought to bring healthy snacks, and headed on our way.  The only thing we forgot to check on was the availability of a bathroom in the desert.  A tip for fellow travelers: every single rest stop in the desert is closed for repairs, no joke.  The only place open with anything available (food, water, etc.) would be in Boron, home of the 20 Mule Team fame and not much else.

We had an interesting drive prior to the desert view.  Farm after farm, orange trees galore with their tasty fruits littering the orchards, and, of course, watching our friends at the CHP hide by a lone tree near the highway and pull over the "unsuspecting" idiot who felt 70 miles an hour was just too low.

We (wisely, folks) stopped for an early lunch in Santa Nella, California.  The restaurant had a windmillIMG_0491  reminiscent of the Windmill Inn (of Sideways fame).  Guess what?  They have a sister restaurant in Buellton, home of the Windmill Inn.  Andersen's, our stop for lunch, is known for their home-made pea soup.  

I absolutely adore home-made split pea soup (my maternal grandmother could whip up a mean batch just when you needed it most).  I allowed the waitress to refill (just once) and picked up a few cans for the hotel.  High in protein, low in fat, just watch the sodium. 

After 8 hours of "Are we there yet?", we arrived in Vegas around 8:30 ("8:33, Mom, it's 8:33!").  We had a very noisy dinner at the Hard Rock, hit the grocery store (we have a fridge in the room, yeah!), and went to bed.  More later, we are still trying to catch up on our sleep and recover from a week of Nicholas being sick (and Cait two of those days), and just exhaustion from everything in general.  

Enjoy this gorgeous Palm Sunday!