Friday, October 30, 2009

New England Vacation, Part 3

Finally! The last official leg of our journey ... visiting my cousin, Marc and his family in New Hampshire. We had a wonderful visit with them. We spent one whole day in Boston and another day enjoying the gorgeous scenery in New Hampshire itself. The only thing I don't have pictures of is our ferry ride around Lake Winnepesaukee. It's a shame, too, because it was amazing!

Marc and Shelly's house ... doesn't it look quintessentially "New England" with all the autumn color?

The children really enjoyed each other. Quinn is Joe's age, and Joe still asks me when we're going back to Quinn's house!

The buildings in Boston were incredible! I have tons of pictures, but limited space here.

Paul Revere's house ...

The ferry across Boston Harbor, from one side of the city to the other!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New England Vacation, Part 2

We really wanted to spend a lot of time in Washington D.C., but after walking for several hours in Williamsburg the previous day we were pooped! The only thing we really regret not seeing was the Lincoln Memorial. On the plus side, we did get to see a display in an art museum talking about the artist and the design process behind the memorial.

This was the only glimpse we got of The White House. I'm sure the occupants weren't at home, anyway ... probably off on a photo shoot for some fashion magazine.

Library of Congress:

Overlooking the mall toward the Washington Monument. As you can tell, it was a gorgeous day!

We left DC, hoping to make it as far as possible before stopping for the night. We made it to Pennsylvania, near Hershey. Jeff has yet to forgive me for not wanting to take the time to go visit the U.S. capital of chocolate. :) Maybe next time!

And yes, we're fans of The Office, so a drive through Scranton was necessary ... and a picture of the "Penn Paper Building" from the opening credits.

Sorry it's taken so long to update! I have plenty of pictures and no end of stuff to update you on, but it's been crazy. We're moving Saturday and I'm up to my ears in boxes. I'll try to update with another post once more before we're without internet for a few days, but I can't promise anything! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation, Part I (Subtitle: The Part Where We Still Had Energy)

In summary, the trip was wonderful! We enjoyed every moment.

We spent the first couple of days in Virginia with Jeff's brother Joe and his wife, Jennifer. Saturday we spent in Colonial Williamsburg, which we loved. That night Joe and Jenn took us out for yummy barbecue chicken pizza and Ben & Jerry's. (The choice between Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Lemon Sorbet was NOT an easy one, but the chocolate won out.)

The very first thing we saw in Williamsburg was a marching band, so of course we had to stop and watch them!

The town had been infiltrated by the Girl Scouts of America for the day, so everywhere we went there were gaggles of giggling girls. As you can see here, Joe is surrounded and doesn't seem to mind much. He'll appreciate this more in ten years or so, I'm sure.

We had lunch in Williamsburg at Shields Tavern -- we had to, it's my parents' last name! They had The Best Apple Pie Ever. Hands down. Jeff has declared the gauntlet thrown and will not let me rest until I produce one just as good.

The silversmith's shop. Kaity read Johnny Tremain last year, so she really liked this part.

We totally could have used this set-up more than once on the trip! At one point, I made them turn off the travel TVs, put all the books down, and forced Kaity and Joe to each take a pillow. "NO talking. NO moving. Just go to SLEEP." I was not kidding. Within moments, they were fast asleep. I think it set a record.

Stay tuned for more of our vacation ...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leftovers ... Mmm ...

I love to cook. Sadly, my grocery budget each week is extremely limited. This means that I have to be quite creative in the kitchen. Fortunately, I love the challenge! I start by watching the sales and coupons. Kroger is really good about sending me coupons on stuff I buy anyway, like produce, dairy, meat, and specific cereals and other items. Once in a while, they send out a set of spend X get X off coupons. It might be $8 off an $80 purchase. Great deal! Now, I might find several items cheaper at Wal-Mart, but I factor in things like customer service, always being able to find what I want, and my produce lasting more than 2 days. That makes it worth it every time! But in general I find that I don't spend any more at Kroger or Ingle's than I would at Wal-Mart. I make out a menu every week, and buy only what I need for those meals.

Another thing I do to save money is make liberal use of leftovers. I'm not talking about eating the same casserole 3 nights per week. Yuck. But I've gotten pretty good at guessing what we'll eat for one meal, and freezing the rest. I frequently divide full-size casseroles into two dishes, baking one and freezing one. Pancakes, waffles, and muffins always go in the freezer after one meal. I separate them with waxed paper, then stack them in freezer bags. When meats are on sale, I buy more of that item and store it in the freezer. With chicken, I cook a big batch in the slow cooker. That gives me shredded, cooked chicken for recipes, as well as broth! Leftover spaghetti, chili, and soups used to sit in my fridge until I threw them away. Now they go into small containers in my freezer. They're perfect for nights when I don't feel up to cooking, for our lunch during the week, or for those "skinny weeks" when the mortgage is due! :) Another benefit to having a stocked freezer is not only the fact that I'm no longer wasting food, but that I can't justify going out to eat as often when I have a perfectly good meal waiting in the freezer.

In my freezer right now ... crepes (for savory or sweet), pumpkin pecan pancakes, cooked chicken, chicken broth, pecans (my in-laws have pecan trees!) sausage/egg/cheese burritos, bacon/egg/cheese burritos, pear freezer jam, barbecued pork, lasagna rolls, pesto, spaghetti sauce (meatless), cooked pork roast, strawberries, pumpkin puree, pineapple, etc. The only "store bought"/processed thing in there is a bag of Tyson chicken nuggets I bought for right at half-price with sale and coupon.