Week 16: Rain Rain GO AWAY

seriously. bugger off.  stop raining.  it has rained for approx. 23 of the last 25 days of april.  at this rate, we will run out of places to put the resulting may flowers… (you know, april showers, bring may flowers)

so this week was Easter, which is always nice.  we went down to DC to spend Easter with my sister and the weather was gorgeous.  friday was rain (shocker) but saturday and sunday were sunny and in the 70’s and 80’s, it felt so good. i finally got to wear shoes WITHOUT socks.   per usual for my family, our trip revolved around food.  breakfast lunch and dinner are not just meals to us, they are opportunities for greatness.  for real.

 we had great pizza at Rustico friday afternoon, then a really good meal at a spanish tapas place.  i really like tapas places because you can order so much different food and try everything and not leave feeling like you need a nap. also they had a really good white sangria with tequila and apple and mint.  i think i will totally make that this summer.

saturday was spent at Mt. Vernon, home of george and martha washington.  and by home i of course mean sprawling complex.  blacksmith, orchard, wharf, greenhouse, 16 sided barn, GW lived large.  literally, he was a giant in his day, 6’2″, and martha was only 4’11”.  go win jeopardy with that tidbit.  so if you ever have the chance, go to Mt. Vernon, it’s worth the trip.  and of course we ran into a family from Tunk there.  they literally live a mile away from my parents.  must be something in the water that makes them want to go to Mt. Vernon over Easter weekend….

so after our historic sight see-ing, it was, naturally, time for dinner and we went to Againn in downtown DC.  SO GOOD. it’s an English Gastro Pub, which i thought meant certain failure because the Brits are not really known for their awesome food…(or maybe i just dislike English food) but it was the best meal we had all weekend.  i had a Pimms cup no. 13 which was great, i really enjoy Pimms, i might make that this summer as well.  had it for my first time in London and this was just as tasty.  it’s a very light summery drink.  for some reason, this trip i was really rocking the gin drinks, and normally i’m not a big gin fan… but i digress.  the food was incredible: we had 3 different kinds of fish and dad got the steak and we also tried the potato soup, pear salad, fries, kale, and dad and my sister enjoyed their raw oysters.  and then the dessert.  ridic good.  strawberry cheesecake basil milkshake with churros, a chocolate and digestive biscuit cake (in honor of the impending royal wedding, with proceeds going to charity) and irish coffees.  so if you live in DC, go here.  order all the above.  you are welcome.

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Week 15: Habitat!

This was the first Saturday i did Habitat for Humanity and it was pretty cool. of course i picked the worst possible day to jump in: barely 40* with heavy winds and spitting rain. and since just the frame of the house is up we got ALL the weather. but since my summer is so busy (up to 5 weddings now….) i figured i should probs take any weekend i’m free. i felt pretty awesome and capable just walking into the house (with my 47 layers and hammer). and by walking into the house i mean navigating down a hill across loose rock and mud on plywood sheets, trekking 8 feet across a board balanced on a ladder, scaling a ladder up 8 feet and then cautiously maneuvering myself around the ladder and into the house. 9:04AM and i have successfully completed my first adventure: getting into the house. and was faced with a few other girls (including the one we are building the house for, she has to put in like 300 hours) and about 6 older men with toolbelts. my accomplishment of getting into the house suddenly did not feel so large…. but everyone is super nice and we set to work framing and building the interior walls. and we got a ton of stuff done! like 6 or 8 walls! AND the other 2 girls and i built 2 all by ourselves! granted they were the tiny laundry room/closet walls with no doors or trickery, but still, i was pretty impressed with us. i am now a much better hammerer than before, got to use a level, AND got to use a spinning, saw thingy that you set on a table and bring the spinning part down to cut the studs. got to wear safety glasses and everything. the only downside was i did not get to wear a cool toolbelt like the guys, i got a wussy nail apron. which was handy since all i did was hammer, but still. i tried to trade one of the guys his toolbelt for my apron.  he laughed cause he thought was i joking….so i let him think that.

on Tuesday Bonnie and i went to see Froggy’s Guitars and Stars(!). it was pretty entertaining. bunch of new and old country stars sitting on stools playing their songs and bantering. i do so enjoy a good banter. lots of cowboy boots and guitars and harmonicas. the music was good but we decided that the stars were either new or trying to (re)make a name for themselves again when the only songs we recognized were from like 5 years ago. “i got a brand new girlfriend! we went and jumped off the deep end, flew out to LA for the weekend…” that guy was there.  thats the only song i could really sing along to, and i know a fair amount of country.

also my cousin and his wife are preggers! in like 6 months i will have a tiny little baby within 5 miles to snuggle and kiss. also since she is super italian i’m thinking Maria might just make it on the short list o names….

this summer is shaping up to be a “Weddings, and Birthdays, and Babies, Oh My!” kinda summer. 

vole update: found an alternative to poison! vole repellant.  all natural, non-toxic and just makes the dirt distasteful to them (or something like that).  so my lawn will not be a tiny vole graveyard. hooray!

Week 14: Spa with a side of Wine

So this week i went for a massage and facial.  i had gotten a spa gift card for xmas and was finally getting around to using it.  i love me a good massage and was excited about my first facial.  and then things went slightly awry….

i knew my masseuse.  this was not ideal for me.  call me crazy but i was pretty apprehensive about some girl i know from the bar rubbing my mostly naked body.  AWKward.  Except it really wasn’t that bad.  she was very good and professional, i had a moment of terror where i pictured her trying to chat during the whole hour, but she didn’t.  thank god.

so after that i was fairly relaxed and headed to my facial.  which i though would be a bit like getting a pedicure.  sitting in a chair, some scrubbing, exfoliating, and creme. but oh no. not at Alexanders Spa! let me tell you, it was fabulous.  dark quiet room, they lay you on a table and put little heat booties on your feet and hands, then massage your face and head and neck.  then they put all the gunk on your face and while it works its magic they massage your (toasty warm) hands and feet, then put different stuff on and massage your head again.  it was so worth it.  in all honesty, i’m not sure my skin looks that different, but after all that i had to pour myself in my car.  i was ridiculously relaxed. 

so the lesson here is: if you get  a gift card to a spa use it on a facial, don’t waste it on a mani/pedi…. 

bonus lesson: don’t plan to go out after a Alexanders facial.  the head massage was awesome but i think i had a cup of oil in my hair.  greasy greasy hair.

Saturday i did a NEPA wine tour for some friends b-days.  i didn’t realize there are so many wineries so (relatively) close to ttown.  we hit 5, and they were all very different and some had VERY unusual wine.  we had chocolate wine at one that tasted just like tootsie rolls.  super weird.

my favorite was Nimble Hill in Tunk, i think it had the best atmosphere and the best wine.  The one winery (Pine..ridge? tree? hurst?) had cheese tasting and homemade ketchup/BBQ sauce.  it was delicious.  and we were a cheese happy group, i think the 10 girls polished off a giant block of the single X.  and we learned that one of the girls in the group was a (self-proclaimed) cheese expert.  which led to the great cheese challenge of 2011.  she went two for three which is pretty good i think 🙂

on to moments from my super exciting life:

today i spent a while figuring out how to get rid of my voles.  my mom has diagnosed my lawn with voles, apparent by the holes and spongy ground which indicates “tunnels” below.  awesome. so after searching the internets i found 3 options of vole evacuation.

1. stick a hose in the “tunnel entrance” (like i would know which hole that is) and flood the tunnels so the voles “move out”.  cause flooding underground seems practical? clearly the dirt will soak it up. nonsense. also it basically says you get rid of them for a while then when their home dries out they move back in.  useless.

2. catch and release.  as many of you know i am a fan of humane methods with the mouse or two i get every year.  so this method seemed good until it said you have to moniter the traps every hour so the voles don’t escape… i guess they are trickier than my mice? which led me to pictures of voles running about my car as i try to humanely catch and release.  that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

3. poison.  as much as i dislike the idea of a tiny vole graveyard outside i think it must be done.  there are two kinds: one which cause them to die (no specifics, much preferred) and the other which has an anticoagulant which basically causes the tiny vole to have a tiny aneurysm and die. i do not want to be responsible for tons of tiny vole aneurysms.  ew. and also mean. and also why the hell do they give you that much info?  i will pick the other poison which i prefer to think leads them into the woods where they fall asleep and simply never wake up in a painless fashion. another downside to this method is the idea of having poison in my yard, but it did say it’s harmless to anything cat-sized or larger.  and since my neighbors dog is approximately Maria-sized i think it’s safe.  also the ducks are still down at the other end of the lake this time of year.  Agway here i come!

Week 13:Kiddopalooza

hello. my name is maria, and i am addicted to wintergreen lifesavers. 

so this weekend was kiddo-palooza for me.  i got to meet the brand new lil jay, and i got to hold him and snuggle him and kiss him, and he stayed fast asleep the entire time…. then i got to play with his sister and his cousins.  AND i achieved Rockstar status with Lori’s sons.  they were all, yeah yeah another lady to meet… (clearly they don’t remember the other 10 times) Until they found out i was friends with Uncle D.  Literally they gazed at me in awe. i don’t think i would have been more impressive right then if i had said i had to run because i was late for a party with Thomas the Train, Spidey, and Elmo.  guess that 29 year friendship finally paid off!

Saturday morning i was up bright and early to get to NY to see Clairebear in her dance class. having never done this before i was very excited. few things are more entertaining than a room of 4 year olds doing a jazzy tap number with everyone recording it on their phones. they dance, and they wave, and they stare at the person next to them, then they might fall down, get up and do it all again.  not to mention the enormous wall of dance pictures.  oh lord the costumes…it brought on horrible flashbacks of my own costumes when i was wee.  not that i didn’t rock the gingerbread costume or the western cowgirl outfit….

after this is was just hanging with the fam, and playing with the kids till partay time.  poor uncle J was being used as a jungle gym and forced to spin Claire around and around and around.  somehow i escaped this fate and my required role was to lounge on the couch with my eyes closed and play princess.  the only downside to this was that i didn’t know if the kiss was coming from Claire or Jack (good) or Hank (bad).  Hank is their GIANT dog who thinks he is still a lap dog and likes to cuddle to the point of suffocation or drowning from his drool.  i have seen him charge through the house knocking kids over like bowling pins. pretty sure he weighs as much as a i do, but with much less grace.

next up, Jackson Browns 3rd birthday party. never have i seen a 3 year old tear through presents with such speed.  clearly Christmas was just his practice run.  he had half, literally half of a mountain of presents, open before any adult could even get out their camera.  the biggest winner? a bubble gun.  of course. kids and their bubbles….

this whole day helped ease some of my “oh boo hoo me, i am turning 30 and not yet married or with adorable kids of my own”.  i mean it was super fun and i love these kids as much as possible, but my lord is it exhausting.  i got home and just sat on my couch in the blessed quiet.  clearly i cannot have kids until i no longer require 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  good thing i didn’t rush into that. HA.

another good thing about being single and 29 and 11/12?  planning Grown Up Spring Break!  Helllo Disneyland and California!