Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nostalgic Moment

I am slowly trying to go through old photos to scan them and save to a portable hard drive, a task my son wants me to do but one I have been meaning to get to for a long time. As I scan each one I send them to him. I came across these old photos of the two of us. The photo above, we were living in Los Alamitos, California. It was taken in the late part of 1979. What I remember about that time apart from the obvious of being in awe of our son, was the garden with the basket swing in which Gregg and I rocked him, right next to the big old lemon tree. I had never seen lemons growing on a tree before and I found it amazing to be able to pick a lemon any time I wanted to.

The photo above here he is as a toddler. Gregg was trying to take a photo of us in front of the carousel in Washington DC. He was upset that the ride had ended and wanted to go back for more. I love this photo and it is in a frame in our bedroom which has a ceramic momma bird and a baby bird in a nest attached to the frame, with the little bird's mouth open waiting to be fed.

And here he is all grown up, a man. This photo was taken at Big Meadow along Skyline Drive, a place you have heard me mention before. Parenthood has been a wonderful ride and still is.
But how time flies....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Noodles & Company, Fairfax, VA

As I mentioned in the next post Gregg and I had lunch at Noodles and Company today. Here is the meal we had, Buttered Noodles with Seasoned Tofu and Broccoli. You get a choice of a roll or flatbread. I chose the flatbread which looked to me like the face of the moon, and the meal and the bread was delicious. We come here more often than not when we drive through Fairfax and it's around lunch time. The food is consistently good.

Chocolate Cravings

Do you ever get an incredible craving for Chocolate? I know I do, not too often thank goodness but when they hit they come on with a vengence. I just love chocolate but it gives me the most incredible migraine the next day. I don’t have to eat a lot, just a little, even a cup of hot chocolate which is my favorite comfort drink when I’m feeling cold in the middle of winter. Drink one of those babies and the next day I am reaching for the little white pill that is the “one-day-after-why-did-I-have-that-chocolate-when-I-know-it’s-going-to-make-me-feel-like-my-head-is-being-squeezed-between-a-couple-of-big-bricks-kind-of-a-feeling” remedies.

I should have been feeling great as yesterday was my last day at work for a whole week. So why was I looking all over the house for any sign of a forgotten chocolate bar? I haven’t eaten chocolate in quite a long time and so there wasn't one in my purse, but I looked anyway – thank goodness for that because you know how hot it’s been out there. My friend at work had bought each of us a small bar of Dove Dark Chocolate because she said that dark chocolate is now good for you. Nope, I had already eaten that one and remember the headache the next morning. No hot chocolate until Fall and I even looked at the 72 oz. bag of chocolate chips I had bought home from CostCo, for the baking I do at work. I was actually thinking of melting a few down. Gregg looked at me and said, “Do you want me to take you up to the supermarket so you can buy a candy bar?” I love my husband for his sweet nature and thoughtfulness. But he did have that look like, “Is she going to explode into a championship, chocolate diving frenzy?” The words were unspoken but telepathically I told him not to worry, I was not going to dive into the local dumpster. “Right!” I hear him say in my head. I went to bed instead, it was late and I wasn’t going to ask Gregg to go anywhere that time of night, and I was tired and good sense finally prevailed. I went to bed still craving chocolate, but fell asleep imagining lots of lovely Cadbury Chocolate Flakes floating over my head. I counted those instead of sheep and hey, anything that works right? “Right!” I hear Gregg say, even though he is snoring and fast asleep beside me.

Today we met up for lunch and went over to Noodles & Company and ordered the buttered noodles, plus an order of tofu and broccoli. Got to get that healthy stuff in there. Gregg didn’t say anything as I slipped the oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie in with my order. Better that than go to World Market and buy everything in their Cadbury’s chocolate section, that’s my justification. “Right”, my other half is saying yet again. I dropped him back at work and went home. I waited a while before I put the coffee pot on and just ate my cookie with the delicious chocolate, which hopefully won’t make me reach for “one-day-after-why-did-I-have-that-chocolate-when-I-know-it’s-going-to-make-me-feel-like-my-head-is-being-squeezed-between-a-couple-of-big-bricks-kind-of-a-feeling” remedies tomorrow. After all it only looked like there were eight chocolate chips in there, and that doesn’t count does it? "Right!" Gregg doesn't have to be there and I still hear him in my head. Of course, as I was lying down playing couch potato, eating my cookie and sipping on my coffee, I dripped coffee all over my nice, clean whiter than white blouse. I think someone up there was trying to tell me something. Is that you Mum? My Mum, the keeper of the Milky Ways.

Which reminds me of another childhood ramble/memory. We always had dogs in our family and I grew up with four of them, Skipper 1, Skipper 2, Duke and Jason. I loved them all, each one having their own distinct personalities, and loved as any child should be loved. Now how does this equate to my chocolate ramble you might ask? You see, Jason was the dog I had to compete with for chocolate; Milky Way’s to be precise. Mom and Dad always brought home a big bag of the miniature ones, not for them and not for me but for Jason. My sister was married and living in Worcestershire. Yes I know, we’ve since found out that chocolate is very bad for dogs but this information wasn’t around at that time, at least not in our family. I would occasionally have a chocolate craving even back then, but if I ever went for that bag I would hear, “That’s not for you Dear, that’s for Jason, don’t eat his Milky Ways.” The first time this happened I was quite shocked that I had been one-upped by the dog. Jason was the brother I never had and he was one pampered brother/pooch. Like any sibling rivalry I began to resent the fact that I couldn’t eat any of his chocolate, so when the craving was intense I would devise ways to sneak one out of the bag. I got pretty good at it too. Might sound all a bit strange but that’s how dogs were loved in my family and Gregg just said he can certify that to be true. I still loved that dog so much, even though we were in competition for our parents' affections. Jason was a beautiful Golden-Labrador, and like his sister 'slightly' over-weight.

All joking and rambles aside, this morning I lost another two pounds, 22 lbs. in all, so there will be less of this....

and this....
and less
and more of this....
less of that.....
and that.....
and more of that.

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar in four pieces with your bare hands--and then just eating one piece" - Judith Viorst

"Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate." - Sandra Boynton

"Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies."

"There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love chocolate, and communists." - Leslie Moak Murray

"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles." - Author Unknown
"What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate." - Katherine Hepburn

"There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate." - Linda Grayson

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Charles M. Schulz

"I never met a chocolate I didn't like." - Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." - Dave Barry

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time." – Anonymous

"Never mind about 1066 William the Conqueror, 1087 William the Second. Such things are not going to affect one’s life ... but 1932 the Mars Bar and 1936 Maltesers and 1937 the Kit Kat - these dates are milestones in history and should be seared into the memory of every child in the country." - Roald Dahl

"The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!" - Terry Moore

"Chocolate: Here today ... Gone today!" – Anonymous

"There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now." – Anonymous

"Chocolate makes everyone smile-even bankers." - Benneville Strohecker, chocolatier

"The Spanish ladies of the New World are madly addicted to chocolate, to such a point that, not content to drink it several times each day, they even have it served to them in church."
Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste (1825)

"Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays." – Anonymous

"God gave the angels wings, and he gave humans chocolate." – Anonymous

"The divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits man to walk for a whole day without food." - Hernando Cortés (1519)

Lewis Carroll and Peter Mansbach

'Twas brillig, and the slithy fudge
Did gyre and truffle in the wabe,
All Mansbach were the Häagen-Dazs,
And the chocolate outgrabe.

Goodbye to the General E. Lee tree.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes
of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some
scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of
imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.

William Blake - 1799 - The Letters

I was passing by General E. Lee's tree the other day, the one in our neighborhood that was damaged in the bad storm back in June, and to my dismay I saw that it had been cut down. I can't really blame the owners who were probably worried that it might topple during the next bad storm and cause severe damage to their house, or worse. Pictures of it after the storm can be found here.

The urban legend was that General E. Lee stood under it's branches during the scrumishes of the Civil War. Our area is full of history from those days. Whether this is truth or fiction I haven't a clue and I have long since forgotten who even told this to me when we moved to our present home in the summer of 1990. Back then and it was up until the storm, it was a magnificent tree and a landmark of our neighborhood. I loved looking at it as it was indeed the biggest tree around and it will be truly missed by me and probably a whole lot of other people, including those who had to have it cut down.

To A Butterfly by William Wordsworth

This is for Eve over at Sunny Side Up. I know she loves poetry, writes beautiful poems herself, but I'm not a writer of them, though I just LOVE to read them.
To A Butterfly

I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless - not frozen seas
More motionless and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wing when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

~ William Wordsworth~

Monday, July 28, 2008

The English Sausage Caper

Not much today. It was such a busy day at work, I was far too busy to do my favorite thing and chat to my customers, even though I recognized and greeted several of them and knew them as my beloved 'regulars', my family away from home. Today I prepared mostly afternoon teas which are always good on busy days, as making 30 afternoon teas flows more easily than making 30 individual meals where everyone is ordering different items from off the menu. There were also several take-out orders. My fingers were flying and as I often do at such times, I remember the fateful words of the lady who had to practically twist my arm to agree to a trial period as I sat there having lunch with my sister, "Don't worry, you cook for your family don't you? Well, this is just the same thing, it will be like cooking for your family, only it will be a much bigger family", or something like that. The satisfaction comes when people leave and on their way out tell you what a great time they had. No grumpies today on either side of the swing doors, woo-hoo!
There was one hiccup, someone had left out what I thought were English sausages to be cooked first thing. Except that over the weekend there had been a bit of a mix up. I cooked them and served them as I normally would, with mashed potatoes and mushy peas or baked beans, and the first person who asked for his bangers and mash, left them practically untouched on his plate with only a bite taken out of them. The comment was that they were too spicy, and they had NUTS in them. "NUTS? There's NUTS in the English sausages? You've got to be kidding me? There's no nuts in English sausage." "No, I have never had nuts in my English Sausage before" the gentleman replied, "I couldn't eat them, they were too hot and spicy and I don't like nuts." I was really shocked and I think maybe my mouth dropped open. English sausages are English sausages and most definitely are not highly spiced and most definitely do not have nuts in them. When I checked in the freezer we apparently had ordered a new variety to try out, but no one had told me. I wasn't too pleased but afterwards I saw the funny side of it, and fortunately the gentleman - bless his cotton socks - didn't think I was trying to pull a fast one across him by trying something new. All's well that ends well but I put those dastardly things aside and cooked the real McCoy! And no one complained about those.
The two photos above are ones taken when we were in Pennsylvania a while back, the name of the town long forgotten by me because I apparently didn't know how to identify things properly in my photograph folder. Lesson learned. It was a lovely old hotel with a classic car out front. If it were the only car in the parking lot, it would have been like stepping back in time.

Good Morning

Ahhhhh, Monday morning. All I can say is the weekend goes too fast. Off to work in a little while but I wanted to wish you all a great Monday and a great week ahead.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland

On Saturday Gregg and I took a ride into Maryland, to Brookside Gardens. I also found a site where you can see more photos here. It is a deer management area and so there are tall iron gates which open automatically as you drive up to them. If you see deer the sign asks you to wait until they have moved on, but on every trip here we have never seen any deer to worry about escaping. We always seem to arrive in the middle of the day when they are probably tucked safely in the wooded area resting. There were lots of things to take photos of, and it was hot and humid and we walked all over so we should sleep well tonight.

Native American Garden

The Conservatory

Hot and steamy, but not as steamy as it was in the butterfly exhibit.

Canada Geese

A Busy Bee

Butterflies at the Gardens


There were lots of turtles sunning themselves and here are a few of them. In the photo below these were on a man-made floating device in the middle of one of the ponds. I think it was some kind of circulating system for the water, cleverly disguised with plants.