Monthly Archives: September 2012

Circle of Life

My great-grandmother Olive’s funeral was yesterday. She lived nearly 101 years.

July 1986 – Great Nanny & family
(Fun fact! We’re in my dad’s parents’ yard, but the white house in the background is where my mom’s parents lived.)

My friend’s baby girl Olive was born yesterday. May she live a (very long!) life as blessed with family, friends, and joy as my great-grandmother did.

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Vermont Vacation Part II: Burlington

Adam and I had back-to-back weddings in Vermont and Connecticut this September, so we decided to take the week off in between and turn it into a weeklong vacation. It’s not the beach, but Vermont in late summer is pretty darn nice in its own right! We actually crammed a lot into 10 days – a weekend staying with college friends (plus spouses and children) in a house on Lake Champlain, a few days in Burlington, a few days in Manchester (including a day trip to visit our college), and a weekend with my in-laws (including my insanely adorable nephew and niece) in Connecticut – so I’m planning to do separate recaps for each segment. You can check out Part I here.

* * * * *

After we dropped our friends off at the airport, Adam and I headed back to the bed and breakfast we were staying at in downtown Burlington. We’d pretty much lived on pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream and beer over the weekend, so we decided to try to find some place healthy to eat for dinner. We ended up at Duino Duende, where I was quite happy to order a GIANT plate of steamed kale and some cold sesame peanut noodles with lots of fresh veggies for dinner. The restaurant is attached to a coffee shop that has live music every night, and we were seated right next to the opening connecting the two, so we were able to enjoy listening to the funky little duo, Montana Skies, as we ate. They were seriously awesome – not something that I would have sought out on my own, but I really enjoyed their performance. After dinner, we walked home and headed to bed early, because we had a busy day planned for Monday.

As we’re in the midst of half marathon training, we really had to work in at least one long run during our vacation. So, we started off our Monday morning by running 10 miles along the bike path that goes by the Lake Champlain. We were able to pick up the path about a mile or so from our B&B. The weather was so great and the path was really pretty, so it made for a pretty good run. And we earned our trip to Ben & Jerry’s later in the day.

After breakfast, we drove out to take a little food tour. Our first stop was Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where we got a cup of hot cider and delicious fresh cider donuts. We browsed the store, which was chock full of all kinds of Vermont-made products, but didn’t end up buying anything.

Our next stop was the Cabot annex where were able to sample SO MANY kinds of cheeses (well, almost all cheddar, but tons of varieties), plus some other local treats. Apparently, Vermont really likes their”insert-your-face-into-this-cut-out” photos, because here’s yet another.

The Ben & Jerry tour was tops on my list of things to do Vermont. Ice cream is my favorite food (Adam says desserts don’t count as favorite foods, but I say they do!) and Ben & Jerry’s is just such a cool company, so I was really excited to check it out. Plus, giant free samples at the end of the tour!

Hallway displaying the top ten flavors – could only get 3-10 in the shot.

After the tour, we stopped in the shop to pick up some t-shirts and postcards, and then we walked around the factory to check out some of the exhibits and visit the Flavor Graveyard, where I took some photos with my favorite dearly departed flavors.

Entrance to the Flavor Graveyard.

Fun fact! The reason B&J had to stop making White Russian was because they were buying so much Kahlua, they drove up the international price of Kahlua and priced themselves right out of the market! Sadly, this meant no more From Russia With Buzz (a twisted duo of White Russian and Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz), my absolute favorite.

White Russian’s Tombstone:

A concoction so to-die-for
We were forever in its debt
As the liquor kicked the budget
We finally had to just say “nyet.”

Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz Tombstone:

It’s heady buzz made us zoomzoomzoom!
Bounce off the walls like a rubber room.
Now this zippy flavor’s gone,
But caffeine headache goes on and on.

Then, we went back to the scoop shop for even MORE ice cream. If it hadn’t been chilly and windy and kind of rainy, I would have totally attempted a Mini Vermonster (next time!), but instead I settled for a scoop of Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz, which is apparently still available in their scoop shops even though it isn’t in pints (hence it’s appearance in the graveyard).

We then headed back to our B&B for a nap before walking down to Church Street and checking out some of the shops again. A few hours later we were hungry again, so we stopped into El Cortijo for an afternoon snack chips and guac, a small margarita, and a sweet potato and kale taco (which we made for dinner last night… so good!). I probably could have eaten three or four of those tacos (and another margarita!), but I had to save room for dinner, because we were meeting up with my Blathering roomie Emily and her husband! (Side note: I signed up for the Blathering about two weeks before my vacation. Emily and I both happened to be looking for a roommate, so we ended up together… and then I saw that she lived near Burlington and we’d be able to meet in person and avoid the total awkwardness of sharing a room with a complete stranger! Pretty nice how that all worked out.) I knew Emily and I would get along just fine as soon as she ordered a plate of cheese for the table.

The next morning, Adam and I went back to Church Street. The day before, I’d noticed there was an olive oil store and, well, Adam and I apparently have a bit of a thing for fancy oils and vinegars, as we have one entire shelf of a cabinet full of them. I didn’t want to taste them all before dinner and then carry our purchases around, so I made a mental note to go back the next morning before we headed out. After tasting a bunch, we ended up buying a butternut squash seed oil, a coconut white balsamic vinegar, and a Portuguese (I think?) olive oil. Yummm! We then stopped at a local coffee shop, grabbed ourselves some mochas, and headed back to the B&B to pick up our car and drive to our next destination.

Next up… Manchester!

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Vermont Vacation Part I: Wedding Weekend

Adam and I had back-to-back weddings in Vermont and Connecticut this September, so we decided to take the week off in between and turn it into a weeklong vacation. It’s not the beach, but Vermont in late summer is pretty darn nice in its own right! We actually crammed a lot into 10 days – a weekend staying with college friends (plus spouses and children) in a house on Lake Champlain, a few days in Burlington, a few days in Manchester (including a day trip to visit our college), and a weekend with my in-laws (including my insanely adorable nephew and niece) in Connecticut – so I’m planning to do separate recaps for each segment.

* * * * *

For the first part of our vacation, we spent the weekend at a lake house in Vermont with five of Adam’s college friends — along with three wives and two children (and one on the way) — to attend our friend Bret’s wedding. This weekend was actually the first time all seven guys were together in the same place since college!

Adam has a few different groups of college friends, and one of the guys in this group also happens to run in another one of his circles of friends. His wife, LD, and I commented how amazing this particular group is — they all have such different personalities and interests, yet they all ended up as friends in college and are still so close ten years after graduation. They work in information systems, with hedge funds, on the Hill, as an actor, as a stone mason, and for a university. They rent apartments in big cities, own houses in the suburbs, lease a farm, and are landlords themselves. They are vegans, and vegetarians, and meat-eaters who think there is no such thing as too much bacon. They play basketball, run half marathons, kayak, and fence. When I asked Adam what brought them all together, his answer was “video games.”


the guys

So, that’s the one thing they have in common.

Friday night was spent catching up. Adam and I were the only couple that didn’t have kids/wasn’t pregnant, so we shared a room with the groom (who stayed with us for the night) and the best man… who took his duty to get the groom to the ceremony on time very seriously. Despite being on West Coast time, the best man was up at 7:30 the next morning nagging Bret to get out of bed and get ready for the wedding. (They made it to the ceremony location a half hour too early, so they ended up going to get breakfast instead.)

The rest of us (minus the moms and napping kiddos) made it to the ceremony right on time, although Adam was a little worse for wear after having a few too many drinks the night before. Hanging out with college friends can have that effect sometimes. He still was able to perform his DJ’ing duties and start up the processional and recessional music right on cue.

Despite crazy wind and lots of bees, the wedding was lovely. Bret and Emily wanted a casual wedding where everyone could just hang out, catch up, and enjoy the park. There was a delicious meal, bocce, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and PIE! There was rain in the forecast all day, but it managed to hold off until the last hour, and then we headed back to the lake house.


exchanging rings

just married!

wedding bocce

We started off Sunday morning with a brunch at the house where Emily’s parents were staying. Our group then caravanned its way back up to Burlington, making several stops along the way.

Union grads!
(And a professor… the father of the bride.)

We looked oh-so-fashionable (and made several purchases) at the Vermont Flannel Company…


We took a tour and stuffed some bears at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory…

showing off my teddy bear tour pin

visiting a patient at the teddy bear hospital, getting a honey IV

We stopped for lunch at the Fiddlehead Brewing Company (where I had a crazy good pizza with sweet potato and chard on it)…


mmm… pizza!

{we lost one couple after this stop}

We took a quick tour and tried some samples at the Magic Hat Artifactory…

touring the inner-workings of the Magic Hat factory

{we lost two more couples after this stop}

and then wandered downtown Burlington for a couple hours while waiting until it was time to take our last two friends to the airport.


And then there was two…

Next up… Burlington!

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Taking “You Can Do It, We Can Help” to a Whole New Level…

About a month ago, Adam and I decided we were going to host a Labor Day weekend barbecue as our first “official” party at our place. (Well, other than the baby shower we hosted there before we even moved in and while the kitchen was under construction… but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

But this is not a recap of that barbecue. (It went well, but there aren’t any interesting stories. It was kind of crappy out, so we all stayed inside. There were many babies, because we have apparently reached that age, which I don’t know how that is possible since I feel about 27.)

No, this is a recap of how everything (minor) that can go (not terribly) wrong in the (complete) renovation of a (teeny tiny) bathroom, does when you are trying to complete it in the week before potentially a few dozen people will be coming over.

My parents came down to visit the weekend before Labor Day to help us out with some things around the house. My dad is incredibly handy, has handled all of the renovation projects they’ve ever done in their home, and has tons of tools. Plus, they actually really like doing these sort of things, so obviously I was being a good daughter by taking them up on their offer of free labor. They were in Hawaii and California for a few weeks before coming to visit us and before they left, my mom told me to make a list of the things we wanted to get done when they came to visit. The day before they arrived, we had a text message exchange that went like this:

Me: Do you think it would be possible for us to start the little bathroom this weekend and finish it by next weekend if we find materials we like at Home Depot?
Mom: That should not be a problem.
Mom: Is there tile on the bathroom floor or walls now?
Me: Nope, vinyl on the floor over concrete. Just paint on the walls.
Mom: That will make it much easier. As long as there are no unexpected surprises it should be doable. Once he sees it he can be more sure.

So, that is how Adam and I decided to tackle a complete bathroom renovation a week before inviting a few dozen people over to our house.

Friday night, we all went to Home Depot and dropped a few hundred dollars (thanks to my Dad for letting us use his 10% off miliary discount!) on a toilet and toilet seat (because the one that comes with the toilet is cheap plastic), a vanity, a light fixture, a toilet paper holder, a hand towel ring, tile and various tiling supplies, and a quart of paint. When we got home (around 9:30 p.m.), Adam and my dad started tearing the bathroom apart – ripping up the vinyl flooring, taking out the toilet, taking the old toilet paper holder out of the wall and then patching up the gaping hole (where they found an empty beer can, likely from 1972). They decided to wait and take out the vanity the next day when they were going to put the new one in.

So far, so good, right?

This is where we congratulate ourselves on having the foresight to move a mile away from a Home Depot. Let’s review this comedy of errors piece by piece:

Vanity/Sink
+ Replace vanity. Realize that old vanity is not the current standard size (probably because it’s 40 years old) and that where the pipe comes out of the wall does not line up with where it needs to go to hook up to new sink. Realize pipe is glued into the wall and that, due to its age, it would not be a good idea to move it.
+ Make trip to Home Depot for something that is supposed to help hook up one pipe to the other. It does not work. Decide to ignore that for now and deal with it later.+ A few days later (after the parents leave) realize we will need to basically construct a new pipe to connect the two ends out of PVC. Buy PVC pieces at Home Depot. Come home. Realize they are the wrong size. Repeat. Repeat again. (Third times the charm!)

Tile
+ Glue tile to the floor using 3/8″ spacers.
+ Realize that my dad made an error in measuring the fireplace tile (which we were using as a guide) and we should have gotten 3/16″ spacers.
+ Just deal with it, because that shit is glued down now. Oops.

Paint
+ Give walls first coat of paint.
+ Realize that because it’s semi-gloss painted on top of semi-gloss, it does not go on easily and uses up more paint than if it had been a different finish.
+ Realize that we need to buy a second quart of paint. (This room is 5X5, with one door and one quarter of the room taken up by a vanity… one quart was a reasonable estimation.)
+ Go to Home Depot and buy second quart of paint.

Toilet
+ Begin to install toilet.
+ Realize it is not creating a seal with the wax ring due to (a) uneven floors, (b) uneven toilet (it came crooked in the box), or (c) both.
+ Chip away at tile under toilet until you can make it level enough to create a seal. Pray you don’t screw up the rest of the tile.
+ Seal created, toilet installed.

Faucet
+ Install faucet.
+ Realize that when you release the plug after stopping up the sink, water leaks out a pipe in the back.
+ Determine a washer is required to stop the leaking.
+ Go to Home Depot and buy a washer.

Towel Ring
+ Hold up towel ring next to sink to determine where to install.
+ Realize that, due to small size of vanity/sink, hanging a towel ring next to the sink actually means hanging it over the sink.
+ Realize that towel ring is actually a pretty cheap looking piece of metal-colored plastic anyway.
+ Go to Home Depot to return towel ring and buy a towel bar to hang over the toilet. While you’re there, buy a matching toilet paper holder and return the cheap-o one purchased previously.

Air Vent Cover
+ Realize after first coat of paint is on the walls that you should probably buy a new air vent cover, since the old one is pretty ugly and the off-white color doesn’t go with the room anymore.
+ Measure old air vent cover.
+ Go to Home Depot and buy new air vent cover.
+ Get home, realize it is the wrong size (pro tip: it’s the INSIDE that you have to measure, not the outside).
+ Go to Home Depot to exchange for proper sized cover.
+ Get home, install, and realize you need to bang some of the metal vent around to get a proper fit.

Door
+ Take door of hinges before starting the demo to paint the inside white to go with the new color scheme.
+ When room is completed, hang door back up.
+ Try to close door.
+ Realize that tile that has gone under the transition in the doorway has raised the transition a fraction of an inch, thereby preventing door from closing.
+ Go to Home Depot to buy door planer.
+ Plane the door, get saw dust all over the living room.
+ Hang up door. It shuts. Thank god… it’s kind of important to have a functioning door to a bathroom.

Mirror
+ Decide to be resourceful and reuse existing mirror, just painting the frame white.
+ Begin to paint the frame white. Realize the frame really is actually pretty ugly and not worth the cost of the paint it’s sucking up. Toss mirror out with the trash.
+ Grab another random mirror in the house currently not in use. Paint that one white instead.
+ Hang mirror successfully.
(This one did not involve Home Depot. However, it did involve a trip to Michaels, which is on the backside of the same plaza the Home Depot is in, so was made during a Home Depot trip.)

Lighting
+ Let husband carefully measure where to install back of the light fixture to the wall.
+ Stop him before he starts drilling to remind him that the cover is wider than the back, so if he hangs the back where he has it marked, the cover won’t go on.
+ Crisis averted.

Floor Molding
+ Shockingly, the cutting and installation of this went smoothly.

Whew… that’s it for the renovation. But wait, there’s more!

New Hand Towels and Rug
+ Go to Home Goods. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Marshalls. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Target. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
(Seriously, how hard must this be? All we wanted were some yellow towels and a matching rug.)
+ Go to Pottery Barn. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Crate and Barrel. Find towels and rug you like, even though they are not yellow. Hurrah!
+ Bring towels and rug home. Put in bathroom. Realize they don’t actually look good after all. Should have stuck with yellow.
+ Go to Macy’s. Find yellow rug and towels you like. Bring them home. Realize they look perfect.

And, here’s the before…



and the after…



Just to be clear, this did not all occur in one weekend. Oh no, my parents left us with having to (a) clean the grout, (b) paint the walls and trim, (c) install the toilet, (d) install the trim, (e) install the towel and TP holder, and (f) figure out how in the hell to hook up the sink to the pipe coming out of the wall. We expected to have to do most of those things ourselves after they left, but we did not envision being up until nearly midnight every night during the week on it, in a mad rush to complete it before that Labor Day barbecue. We also did not envision needing to go to Home Depot eight times in seven days.

And now, I think we’ll be taking a little break from renovations. (As I ignore our hideous guest bathroom upstairs.)

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