Saturday, October 25, 2008

Off to Nashville

I'm heading out to Nashville today to participate in the GEOINT 2008 conference. My agency has a massive booth, so even though the show doesn't start until Tuesday, I've got to be there early to help set-up. Should be an interesting time, though I don't particularly relish the drive up to Baltimore to catch my flight.

I'm a little worried about how Hubby and the kids will manage in my absence. Hubby never cooks, and will only grudgingly reheat leftovers if I'm not available. He's far more apt to hit the drive-thru at some artery-clogging fast food place. Bleh! I've tried my best to fill the fridge with leftovers, and I've given him instructions on how to prep some of the kids' favorite (and fast) dinners. He won't try to prepare flank steak, which is definitely a good thing. He might try my weeknight version of spaghetti (which is similar to my MIL's), or maybe tacos (which I make with shredded rotisserie chicken vs. ground beef). He's taking all of next week off to cope, so hopefully everything will be okay...

Hugs to all, and I'll blog when I get back!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baking lesson learned

I tried making blueberry crumb bars last night. They turned out great, but I felt the need to add something. The crust on top wasn't enough - it needed a streusel topping.

So I whipped up a quick topping (flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter) and added it to the top of the mostly cooked bars.

Five minutes later, the topping wasn't crispy yet, and I was worried about over-baking my bars. So I changed to heat from 'bake' to 'broil', and set the timer for 3 minutes while I was folding laundry.

In hind sight, that was a really stupid idea.

Three minutes later, with my timer beeping at me, I emerged from the laundry room to a smoke-filled kitchen. I turned off the oven, scurried around the house opening windows, doors and calling Drew for help.

Did I mention that it was 9pm, 50-ish degrees outside and we were trying to get the kids in bed?

So my adventures in tinkering with a perfectly good recipe resulted in a freezing cold, smoke filled house. Lesson learned: Don't broil baked goods, even if you are trying to achieve a perfect crust without over-baking the rest of the item.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New iPod and other tidbits

I bought a new iPod yesterday. It's cute - one of those blue 8GB nano thingys. I guess it was some kind of defiant act of thumbing my nose at the world for having the last one stolen. Oh, and the fact that I'm flying to Nashville on Saturday for a show, and I hate flying without music (I need something to distract me from my hatred of flying). So while said new iPod is synchronizing and charging, I thought I'd post an update for everyone.

This weekend, I created a new family blog. I would like to add more pictures, but the battery in our digital camera has died and needs to be charged. I had to purchase a universal charger since we can't find the box with the original charger so.... yeah. I'm hoping to get it taken care of today so that I can drive around and take some pictures before all the leaves fall. The colors are just amazing!

We had our first frost last night, and let me tell you - it was dang cold this morning!! I had to go in search of all of our thick blankets last night, because it went down into the 20's. Brrrr!

iPod sync update: Finally done, and I still have 3.5GB left!

I'm off to buy new pants for Cameron, as he's grown more than an inch and all of his pants are too short for him now. Hugs to all!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stolen iPod

At 3pm today, I went out to my car to retrieve the garage door opener so that Hubby could replace the battery for me.

Instead, I discovered that my 80GB video iPod had been stolen from my vehicle.

I'm angry, hurt and depressed. I know it's only an iPod, and I am incredibly grateful that they didn't invade my home and hurt my family. Still, it happened to have pictures of my family and information for some of my contacts on there (I'm always forgetting addresses when I mail packages, so I put the info on the iPod since I don't have a Blackberry or anything). I hate the idea that some low-life creep now has access to that information. I feel.... violated.

I was really enjoying my new home and our nice, quiet street. Now I'm scared and paranoid, and I won't go out to my car after dark anymore, even though it's just in the driveway.

I wish I could just curl up in my bed and cry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day out with Hubby

Hubby and I were able to get a babysitter today (due to my exquisite planning, of course), which allowed us to spend a child-free afternoon exploring the NOVA countryside. Well, we had planned to go into DC and visit the Library of Congress for the first time (I've been meaning to get my LOC card). However, after waiting 30min for the Orange line to arrive at Vienna, we decided to blow off our original plan and try something else. After all, this was our only chance for just the two of us to celebrate his 30th birthday next week (!!), so we didn't want to waste our time trying to transit into crowded DC.

Last night, we had briefly discussed going to Millwood, VA, because of an article that I found in the Washington Post this week. So, deciding to go with that idea, we swung by the gas station (where I was hit on by the clerk inside - weird!), filled up the tank, and off we went toward Fauquier County.

First of all, the changing colors of the fall foliage is GORGEOUS. Unfortunately, because we cannot find the charger for our digital camera, having moved three months ago and still surrounded by unpacked boxes, I do not have photos for you at this time. I'm sorry!!

OK - Back to our adventure.

We drove through Middleburg, which I swear is a New England version of Carmel, CA. I love Carmel, so I think Middleburg is great. More on that later.

We finally made it out to Milltown, after much oooohing and aaaahing at the scenery and the amazing houses on the way. We passed a few quaint towns, a horse show and a roadside stand at 50 and 15 where they were selling live Maine lobsters. Seriously!

Milltown is very small (there's no website!), and there was no parking in sight. Apparently, quite a few people had seen the article in the Post. In any case, there were a couple of antique shops (one was so crowded with overpriced junk I'm surprised that we were able to move), a pottery shop and the Locke Modern Country Store. Going to the store was well worth the trip!! The sandwiches that we had (Turkey BLT with dill havarti, avocado and scallion mayo) were fabulous, and the store was packed with some amazing local goodies. They happened to be hosting a wine tasting, which Hubby and I enjoyed immensely. We purchased three bottles from the vineyards that were providing the tasting:

Fabbioli Cellars, Loudoun County, VA
- Chambourcin 2007
- Raspberry Merlot (Red Table Wine)
Pollak Vineyards, Monticello, VA
- Meritage 2005

We also picked up a new Bordeaux to try: Chateau Suau, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, 2005

I really enjoyed the Chambourcin; it was a Bordeaux-like blend with a nice spice to it. And the Raspberry Merlot was great; considering that I generally detest dessert wines, I thought this was a terrific apertif that would be great to have for the holidays. As for the Meritage, Hubby and I both really enjoyed that as well.

Hubby and I followed up the fabulous tasting with a stop at the deli counter, where we ordered our sandwiches, then picked up a couple of teas, chips, cranberry dark chocolate and some apple cake. All told, between lunch and the wines, I was surprised that I only threw down about $100 for everything!

We sat at a picnic table near the mill. Sunshine, good food, good company - it was a perfect lunch!

On our way back home, we stopped through Middleburg. We peeked into a couple of shops, but didn't find anything we wanted to buy. Then we steered toward the Boxwood Tasting Room, where we had a great time. It was a little odd that some of the customers brought their dogs with them (there was one woman with a puppy strapped to her chest with a Baby Bjorn - seriously!), but it made for an interesting atmosphere. We each purchased a "Bordeaux Flight", where we tried 1oz glasses of different types of Bordeaux. Here's a link to Hubby's blog with the details of our tastings that he dutifully typed up in his crackberry. Anyway, we discovered some new wines that we loved, and some that we hope never to encounter again. Either way, we had a great time!

It was actually a really terrific day. Hubby said that he enjoyed himself, and I know that I had a great time. I hope we can do it again soon - we passed some B&B's on our drive, so maybe I can find someone willing to babysit overnight so we can stay at one of them...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thoughts on politics

It's the day after the VP debate, and I need to throw out a few thoughts on politics that have been nagging me for the last several weeks.

1. When did "intellectual discourse" become a dirty word? (Ok, it's a phrase, but you get the picture.) Seriously - I wasn't alive before the 1970's, but as a student of American history, I have always been inspired by the educated and thoughtful (and grammatically correct) speeches of FDR, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Hell, I even liked Reagan's speeches. Unfortunately, it appears that well-reasoned and inspiring political discourse no longer appeals to the voters. Instead, some political "masterminds" seem to think that America is populated by uneducated dullards that find "folksy" and "cute" to be the only qualities necessary to lead one of the most powerful governments on the planet. I miss the days where politicians were allowed to exercise their intellect and use "big words" to explain their policies...

2. With that in mind, everyone MUST READ this book. It will inspire you to consider the true definition of patriotism, regardless of your party affiliation.

3. Sarah Palin makes me crazy. Of all the women in politics, why on God's green earth did McCain have to choose her as his running mate? I'm sure she's a wonderful person, but I have been horribly disappointed with her as a VP candidate. She is uninformed about major issues (ranging from foreign affairs to the economy to basic human rights), and I find her inability to answer the questions in last night's debate to be highly disturbing. I was mortified with her response to the question regarding VP responsibilities. Did anyone else notice that she's for expanding the duties of the Vice President?? Considering what Cheney has done to the office (let alone his inability to decide which branch of government he belongs to), I am terrified at the possibility of further disregard for the Constitution. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that.

4. I was a little disappointed with Biden for not digging into Palin for more specifics. Unfortunately, he did the best he could with the pressures he was under. He really was in a no-win situation with regard to facing off with Palin. If he had handled her with kid gloves, he would have been railed for sexism because he "didn't treat her like an equal". If he had fought back at her, he would have been railed for being combative. Poor guy was screwed either way. I think he handled it very well, though I wish he had called her out for not answering the questions (seriously - did she actually answer any of the questions other than the one about not believing in gay marriage?) and for resorting to a bunch of irritating punchlines that came off as horribly fake. Blergh.

That said, I have been very impressed with the class and integrity with which Obama and Biden have conducted themselves during this presidential campaign. I tend to agree with some of my friends in that McCain has come across as doddering, inconsistent and cranky. Palin has come across as fake, oblivious and inexperienced. Of course, none of the candidates are perfect. But I'll be honest: I'd much rather have a constitutional lawyer as president over someone who has made a career of running for President.