Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Phone. Finally!

I've had the same kind of phone for years. I've had three of them. I knew that this one wasn't going to last much longer because the clear coating was peeling off. A few Thursday's ago the mic died. I could hear the person on the other end of the phone, but they couldn't hear me. Ross says I killed it with boob sweat cause I carry the phone in my bra.
After a bit of shopping we both got new phones. This is mine:

I'm so excited. I've finally upgraded to a more modern phone: the LG Chocolate Touch. Today we went and got a micro SD card for it. As soon as I get my laptop back I'll be loading it up with songs, ringtones, and photos. Oh, and that jade bling on the side is new. It might end up being too big or heavy, we'll see. I also have to figure out how I'm going to carry the phone. I don't want to kill this one with boob sweat too.

Pumpkin Carving 2010

Last night we had a pumpkin carving party. We had lots of fun and the pumpkins turned out great. This year's orange food was curried butternut squash soup. We also had andouille sausage. And oh, we finished off a bag of crackers.
Ainsmar carved the small one in front with the musical notes. Monica carved the witch and Richard carved the jester. The one on the bottom right is mine. I really liked how it turned out.
This was Ross's tiger pumpkin. Every other year he has a dud pumpkin. This year was a dud. This photo actually makes it look pretty good. On the first lighting of his pumpkin (by the gentiles) Ross hadn't scraped the wall of the pumpkin thin enough and all we could see was the two round circles and the oblong shape above them. Oh boy, did that give us laughs--especially when Ross asked Richard to blow his out for him.
That's mine. I really like how the circle and the orange glow turned out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Vanilla

A long time ago (we used to be friends) I bought a vanilla infusion kit. I had seen vanilla made with bourbon, and I loves me my whiskey, so I decided to make vanilla using bourbon. I bought some Knob Creek and added it to the bottle with a couple of split vanilla beans on September 4th, 2008. I put the bottle in the cabinet, and it has been sitting there ever since. As you can see in the photo the liquid didn't turn black. It smells slightly like vanilla. I really expected more vanilla flavor after two years. I started using the vanilla a couple of weeks ago, and it gave the butter cookies I made a little something extra. A mellow bourbon flavor.
I've also made vanilla sugar using vanilla beans and regular sugar. We were running out of vanilla sugar, so I decided to buy new beans. When I found the beans I also found some vanilla paste. The vanilla paste is awesome. It is like a thick vanilla speck syrup. You get the vanilla flavor and the nice little specks. So far it makes great steamed vanilla milk and vanilla cappuccinos.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Musical Shabbat

Last night I went to a synagogue for the first time in years. I heard about a musical shabbat service on the radio and decided I'd like to go. I have a lot of anxiety about going to services. I don't like people talking to me and asking me questions. Of course, the people are just trying to be nice, but it gives me horrible anxiety. I was so happy when the service actually started and the woman who was talking to us went to sit with her kids. Ross says I just want to be left alone with my god. That's funny, and silly, seeing as I'm going to a service with other people, but that's really how I feel.

Part of the thing I like about going to services is that the words have been the same for thousands of years. The tunes however, are not always the same. I don't like that. I find comfort in the prayers and tunes that I know. I was expecting an upbeat services with singing and instruments. Instead the songs were almost all slow. One or two sounded like lullabies. One sounded really depressing. I felt like Carol King was singing the service. It was odd. The instruments included a drum, a tambourine, and a guitar.

I did really like the Rabbi. This week's Torah portion is when god tells Avram (who later becomes Abraham) to get himself going. Perfect. That's exactly what I need to hear, and exactly what I need to do. Get myself going. I wasn't a big fan of the cantor. He wasn't too operatic, but it was still too much for me. Then, there was a little girl up at the front who had her own mic. She was cute, but annoying.

I don't know if we will go back. The parking situation kind of sucked. I knew we were in the right place when I saw a security guard outside. Sad, but true. The seats had no leg room. I don't know when I will have the courage to go to services again. I wish I didn't have to go so far....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Good Stuff

This is where we stayed over the weekend--the Cider Mill House B&B. On Friday night we had the entire house to ourselves. When Ross got up at 4am to go to the bathroom we realized the power was out. It was pitch black and eerily quiet. Well, at least for a little while, then I could hear the cows and goats and the rooster.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was enough to feed at least 4 people. We started with cranberry muffins. Then we had a small fruit smoothie. Then the main course came. We had gigantic omelets made with fresh eggs from the farm. We also had turkey sausage over sauteed pears with maple syrup glaze, two mini croissants each, and roasted potatoes. I couldn't even manage to eat half of my omelet. I love potatoes, so I kept eating them. Then came dessert--a cup of sauteed pears with some kind of sauce and home made raspberry sorbet on top. I was completely stuffed.
Luckily I had packed a lunch to eat on the train. For lunch we had rolls, cheese, and honeycrisp apples. The actual train ride was very nice. The views were amazing. We could see the hills starting to change colors, and we got to see some really striking colors up close. It was a very nice day out, but we were enclosed in the air conditioned car. We were able to go between the cars to experience the open air. There was an open air car, but it was very far up the train, so we never went up there.

When we got back to Cumberland we walked around. I bought some earrings made from scarab beetle wings. The shops were cute, and things were reasonably priced. I wish we'd had more time in Frostburg and Cumberland. The pie was a perfect dinner. On Saturday night I could hear a fox calling out to declare his territory. Of course Ross sleeps through everything.

Sunday was awesome. Breakfast started with pumpkin bread and some other kind of raisin bread. I only had one slice of pumpkin bread because I knew there would be a lot of food coming. Instead of a smoothie we got sliced bananas and strawberries with really good yoghurt on top. I traded my strawberries for Ross's bananas because he's allergic. The main course was orange French toast with a slice of orange, turkey sausage over apples, and roasted potatoes. I only ate one of my three slices of toast. Dessert was home made apple pie filling with whipped cream on top. Of course I ate all that. I also had at least 3 cups of tea.

I wish I'd had time to visit with the goats and cows, but we had an appointment. We went to Berkeley Springs State Park for a bath and a massage. The water from Berkeley Spring is heated to 102 F for the bath. The steps down into the bath reminded me of the mikvah. When I came out of the bath I felt really good. We had to walk to another building for our massage and the cooler air felt refreshing. We both had hour long massages. I was good and told the girl when she was being too rough. I came out feeling relaxed instead of like I was in a car wreck.

We left the car in our prime parking spot and checked out the Apple Butter Festival that was going on in town. We walked around--looking at the booths and in shops. I got a lemonade, then we went to lunch. We had bbq, and it was surprisingly good (I'm picky.)

We searched for some apple dumplings and when we finally found the booth they only had trays left, no more individuals, so we bought a whole tray (5). We've been eating them for dessert this week. Last night we went and bought whipping cream and we had one with sweet vanilla whipped cream.

So that's the good stuff. Lots of food and a hot bath.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blunders Abound

So many things went wrong on Saturday. The day wasn't a total loss, but there were so many mishaps! I thought we could spend a few minutes on the way to Cumberland at the Sideling Hill Exhibit Center, but alas, it was closed. No big deal.

Our train was scheduled to depart at 11:30, and I think we'd taken our seats by 11:25. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. We were told that there was a slight problem with the steam engine and we'd be departing in a few minutes. We did start to move, but then stopped for a few minutes to load bicycles. No big deal. We started again, and barely made it out of the station when we stopped again. We were blocking the intersection and drivers were getting annoyed and turning around. We started rolling again, only to stop a few seconds later. We had only gone far enough to get out of the intersection. After a few minutes we finally started--and kept--moving.

Ross took a couple of photos of me and commented that the battery was getting low on the camera. I decided to change the camera battery, and discovered that the batteries from our old camera are slightly different and we can't use them in our new camera! I was a little bummed. I have no idea how we'd never realized this before.

The scenery was great, and I was able to take a few photos. About half a mile (or less) from Frostburg the train stopped again. The conductor from the rear (diesel) engine came rushing through our car toward the front of the train. We were told that the train couldn't make it up the hill, so they were going to split the train up. We were abandoned on the tracks. I would say we sat there almost an hour. A second diesel engine came from the rear and pushed us up the hill. I don't think we were rolling for 5 minutes when we stopped again. We were told we would have 35 minutes in Frostburg (we were originally supposed to have 90) and that the train would leave at 3:30. Originally we were scheduled to be back in Cumberland at 3:00! It took us 10 minutes to disembark from the train--so we only had 25 minutes before we had to be back on the train. Luckily I had packed a snack/lunch, so we didn't have to scramble to try and find food.

We walked across a grassy area to the train station, which was packed. We hoofed it up the hill to Frostburg and I asked someone where we could get ice cream. Just a block or two up the street we got some ice cream in a little cafe and used their restroom. Then it was time to head back down to the train. The steam engine was still on the turntable when we got back and it was sputtering. I decided to take a picture and couldn't find the camera anywhere! I got really nervous. We headed back to the very last passenger car, where we had been sitting and found the seats had been rearranged. The other passengers were very nice and checked their seats, but the camera was nowhere to be found. I dumped out my bag, but there was no camera. I sat down and started crying. After comforting me a bit Ross went to talk to the crew. When he returned I was super relieved to see he had the camera. They had found it.

The train ride back to Cumberland seemed lightning fast compared to the ride up to Frostburg. The announcer apologized for the delays. It seems the breaks were sticking on the steam engine and the deisel engine overheated. He said even without those problems we would have never made it up the mountain with all the cars we had on the train. What? Apparently they were planning on splitting up the train all along. Not cool. We arrived in Cumberland without the steam engine at about 4:30 pm. It took a while to get off the train. The passengers waiting for the 4:30 departure were packed in the station.

We walked around Cumberland and actually got to see the train leave at 6p! We also saw some of the cyclist riding back into the station at about the same time. Maybe one day we'll take the train up and ride our bikes back down.

Ross and I decided to get some pie for dinner. I'd heard about a place that has lots of pies, so we headed out only to find it closed up. A sign said reopen 2011, but I'm not so sure about that. The place looked abandoned. We turned around and found pie at another place in Hancock.

We ended up driving a long and windy road back to the B&B in the dark. I had my slice of wild berry pie with some tea and was ready for bed at 8:30. I had taken the battery charger for the camera battery and decided to charge the battery. That didn't work because the charger was for the old camera batteries. Ugh. I went to sleep feeling totally drained. What a long day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breakin' the Law! Breakin' the Law!

On October first Maryland's hands free law went into effect. It bans the use of cell phones while driving unless a hands-free device is employed. On Friday (October 8th), on our way out of town I was amused to see this:

I could go on and on about this, but all I'm going to say is that this proves that some people in law enforcement think they are above the law.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Penny's Progress

I named my orchid Penny. I fuss over her a lot. I spray her with the spray bottle almost every day and water her on Fridays (I've switched to the ice cube method). I keep my fingers crossed that it is warm enough for her and that she is getting enough light. I suppose she is doing okay.
The flowers are falling off the largest spike. I know that's natural, but it still isn't cool.
Several leaves have also turned yellow and fallen off. I'm so glad this plant has more than 2 or 3 leaves. The leaves seem to have stabilized. I don't see any more that are turning yellow. So far Penny's progress is okay I guess.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Evil Ross

Creepy huh? It got even worse when he shaved it and left the mustache. I'm happy to report he's shaved it all off.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Purring Pillow

We tried watching Shaun the Sheep on Netflix this morning, but it kept tripping up. It's the Tivo. We watched it on Ross's laptop with only one problem--Bailey. Sound coming out of the laptop really bothers Bailey. She tried to bury her head in my armpit, but ended up curled up in front of me with her head tucked into the crook of my elbow. She was my purring pillow.

I think two other things (besides Shaun) contributed to my baby curling up with me. First, the temperatures have dropped a little and she wants to keep warm. Second is my robe. My robe is also one of my favorite things. It was a gift from Ross's mother. I love it and so does Bailey. We fight over it. When I look for it she's usually curled up on it. (That's what I get for leaving it on a chair.) If I'm wearing it and sitting on the couch she wants to sit on it or she might even curl up in my lap if there isn't much on the couch for her to sit on (as was the case yesterday.) I wanted to lay with my purring kitty all morning, but my left shoulder was aching and my left hand fell asleep.

Friday, October 1, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I was coming home late from school and got caught by the speed camera. I saw the flash go off and I've been waiting for the bill to come in the mail. It showed up this week. Oh well. Forty dollar fine. Nothing like Texas where I'd be paying through the nose.