Our Thanksgiving was nice, even though it was just us two. Steve volunteered to work. Yes, Starbucks was open for half a day. We didn't do turkey. We often do non-traditional for Thanksgiving. We made Puerco Pibil, a spicy roast pork dish. See "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." There is a feature on the DVD with the recipe, by the director. The first few times we made it, we used Annato Seeds, which I got at a Mexican Grocery in Misery. However, one time I didn't feel like driving all the way near downtown, so I substituted paprika. I couldn't tell the difference, so now we use paprika. Don't tell Robert Rodriguez!
While Steve was at work, I got out all our Christmas stuff. We aren't doing a tree this year. We've had a few real trees occasionally, but the last time (in Misery) the tree was really dried out, but we didn't realize it until we took it down. To say there were a lot of needles would be a gross understatement. It ruined our vacuum cleaner. We had to use an extension cord to vacuum all the way down the hall and up the far steps. We had to use lint rollers. We may still have needles in the car trunk (from taking it to be recycled).
We did what I call our Christmas Corner. A big green felt (used for tabletop gaming) with stuffed animals arranged about.
This is my Snoopy from childhood. I got him for Christmas in grade school. I'd wanted one since kindergarten. I guess it took a few years to convince Santa I wanted one.
We also put ornaments on our entertainment unit. We just keep using the same nail holes every year.
Is that The Weather Channel on tv? Ha.
These are my very favorite ornaments. I made them while we were in Memphis. They are beaded on black velvet. They are our Babylon 5 ornaments. From left to right, an outline of the profile of Londo Mollari, a Shadow ship, and an outline of the Minbari Delenn.
This shows the reverse of each ornament (they are two-sided). From left to right, an outline of the profile of G'Kar, a Vorlon (outside his encounter suit), and an outline of the profile of Delenn Transformed.
I would like to do more of these beaded ornament covers. I've only done one so far, and I did this one last year. There was an article in the Springfield, Misery newspaper about beaded ornament covers, and I've wanted to do some ever since. I didn't get around to it until last year (even though I bought some plain ornaments the year before). It's a sparse design because I was using up my pink seed beads. It's very pretty, though, and this picture came out so clear. Last year I bought sparkly red, green and clear beads at a bead shop near Dupont Circle. But I haven't gotten back to the beading. I've been spending more time on art than crafts - AS I SHOULD.
Note from the Future (October 2012): I never did any more beaded ornament covers. That wire hanger rusted and the white balls molded. All were gotten rid of in the move to Indiana. Sometimes you just need to let it go.
Aren't these two darling? We got them at Disney World, at Epcot, in the Japanese department store. This is the Geisha.
This is the Ninja. Of course I had to get him, since I am Ninja Queen. When we play the board game Samurai Swords, I tend to buy the Ninja a little too often. Sometimes he backfires and kills your Daimyo instead of the intended target. That's one of our favorite games. It was originally called Shogun, but they had to re-release it under another name.
We are HUGE Invader Zim fans.
When Steve bought the 4th Special Edition DVD set, it came in a box shaped like Zim's house, with a little plastic Gir (in Duty Mode). Tee hee hee... WHAT. "Doodie." Since I have been reading LOTR The Two Towers, we watched that DVD last weekend. Yesterday, we watched LOTR Return of the King. During a big battle scene, the TV vibrated so much, it shook Gir off. Later, it happened again! Gir just leaped off!
Here is Gir in his spot on top of the TV, with decorations. If you go back to the other shot of the entertainment unit, you can see the Zim house at the top.
It finally got colder, then it warmed up again! Into the 60s and 70s! Yesterday I had the windows open, and would have turned on the AC if it were on (I hate not having control of the heat and AC - they turn it on and off in the basement for the season). We broke a heat record yesterday! We hit 74! DC hit 77! Then the wind blew in, and dark clouds, but no rain. The temperature just dropped. I finally had to put on my sweats and longsleeve t-shirt, then close the windows. It dropped 20 degrees when those clouds blew in. Today it's cool - yay. Now, can it stay that way, please?
While in Gettysburg, I took some pictures of Steve in his baggy jeans. He's been losing weight. Over the past year, he's taken off about 25 lb. We both put on weight in Misery, being so miserable and eating way too much fast food and restaurant food. And full fat ice cream. Etc. Now Steve's jeans are really baggy. I was joking about where his ass went. Steve looked at our wedding photo (on our bulletin board) and remarked how much slimmer his face looks now. We got married just after moving to Mayhemland, on our 10th Anniversary. We just went down to the courthouse. Below is our post-wedding photo taken at home, and photos of Steve in his baggy jeans. This morning, I reached for his behind and grabbed several inches of denim. I was able to roll it up. For the record, my jeans are getting a little baggy. Just not as baggy as his. Yesterday I weighed 199. I've been hovering at 200 lb. FOREVER.
Steve's baggy jeans.
Where did Steve's ass go?!?!
My jeans are just a bit baggy - you can see the loose fabric, right? I'm not ready to buy new jeans yet. Maybe when I get down another 10 lb. Or 15.
Well, Gettysburg was fun. We drove up Monday morning. This was Steve's first Veteran's Day off in forever. (He's a vet from the first Gulf War.) It was dark and rainy, and we were in rush hour traffic getting around Baltimore. After that, it was all local roads. There are no highways that go to Gettysburg. It was also the day of snippy women. We stopped at a Bob Evans and the waitresses were all arguing amongst themselves over who was working hardest and who was helping out more than the others. Then we got to our Bed and Breakfast, The Dobbin House, and the cashier in the gift shop whined that of COURSE it was way too early to check in. We wandered up the street and browsed in some shops. Steve bought the "Gettysburg" DVD! Then we drove out to the Adams County Winery, which was difficult to find on the rural roads. Had a nice wine tasting (I did most of the tasting) and our sommelier was very nice (about the only nice person we met - what IS it with Pennsylvanians?). When we drove back, Gift Shop Woman whined that our room wasn't even ready yet. It was 10 till 2:00, which is check-in time. Finally, we were able to check in. Then they were nice to us. We had the Meade Room. It was fine, although a bit too flowery, but we wanted a ground floor room, with the porch. There were about a dozen decorative pillows on the bed. And the heater made this clang-clang-clang noise.
We had dinner at their Tavern, which was really nice. We discovered a great Ale - Troegs; dark amber but very light. Wish we could have brought some home, but we didn't know where to get any. Their spit-roasted chicken was fantastic. We walked up the street to this chocolate place and got some dessert, which we enjoyed on the rocking chairs on the porch, with some coffee Steve brewed (we brought our own coffee, and the room had a coffee maker). More snipey people: this woman fussed at her husband when he tried to park their SUV in a "Bed & Breakfast" parking spot (their window was open). The restaurant and tavern were very busy every evening. We also brought some beer with us. As I noticed the bottle opener mounted on the door jam, I realized: Oops! Note to Self: put a bottle opener in the car trunk! That was how we opened the Samuel Adams Winter Lager. I put the glasses that were on the fridge in the fridge to chill for the Boddington's.
We got up early and sat on the porch drinking coffee and watching the rain. It was cold, but pleasant. I think just one other couple was staying there, because they were the only other people we saw at breakfast. We got the table right in front of the fire place each morning. Good breakfast. We asked our server where to start in the battlefield. Just take a right out of the parking lot, and the Park HQ wasn't far up the road. We got a map (which turned out to be very hard to read) and decided we didn't want to pay for a guided tour. We did the self-guided Auto Tour. The rain had quit after breakfast. I took detailed notes the whole time, so we'd know where we were and what was in the pictures.
Steve took this shot with the crow flying across the road.
I liked all the barns. This is McPherson Barn.
Steve liked the artillery.
These are farther up the road. This is looking back in the direction we just came from. I like this shot (Steve took these.)
Steve likes this shot.
We had to avoid a big bus tour group at this location.
I liked all the big trees, too. Wish I could airbrush out that Do Not Enter sign.
This was atop a lookout structure. This general location was the end of the first day of battle.
Another nice barn. And my Sweetie!
This is near the McMillan House.
This is the Confederate view of Pickett's Charge.
We hiked up Little Round Top, to Chamberlain's position. Can you imagine charging up this hill?
This is the panoramic view of Big Round Top.
This is the Union view of Pickett's Charge.
This was our last stop - view of Pickett's Charge, various monuments, and these are artillery maintenance wagons.
After driving the battlefield, we went back to the B&B. Then walked up to Lincoln Square again, and had lunch at an Italian place. When we got back to the room, I had a beer. In the middle of the afternoon! Then took a nap. I was also tired from not sleeping well, between being in a strange bed, and in a strange room with noises, and so many street lights and parking lot lights, and worrying about ghosts in one of the most haunted places (I kept thinking I heard something!). We went to dinner at the Tavern again, mainly for the Troegs Ale. We shared a piece of the BEST pecan pie - it wasn't too sweet. We got up really early Wednesday, and had a lot of time to kill before breakfast. We had coffee. Then we walked up to the Square to a coffee place. Breakfast included a biscuit with sausage gravy. Okay, that pecan pie was the best I ever had, even anyplace in the South, but the South definitely does sausage gravy better. I really liked the basket of mini muffins and quick bread; with butter, yum.
We were ready to go home, though.
So, the drive up took three hours, first with a stop at Starbucks, then with all the rush hour traffic, rain, and a stop at Target and Bob Evans. The drive home took an hour and a half. And that was with some thick fog! It was a nice vacation, but we're glad to be home, and in our own bed.
It's always a letdown when vacation ends. I made some of my Protein Bars this morning. Several months ago, I found a recipe online somewhere that had equal amounts of peanut butter and honey, but also protein powder, and dried fruit (with peanut butter?!). I was looking for an easier way for Steve to eat oats (for lowering cholesterol). I experimented with a few batches before I got the mixture of dry and wet ingredients right. I decided they didn't need protein powder. They are still pretty soft and need to be chilled. I also cut down the amounts slightly. I was using 1 Cup each peanut butter and honey, but the batch is really big, and it takes all week for Steve and I to eat up a batch, so I cut it down a little. Recently I used roasted almond butter and added roasted salted almonds (no chocolate chips) and that was good. Sometimes we leave out the Flax Meal and only use Oat Flour, because the flavor of the Flax is really strong. It's a recipe that can be altered easily. Today I used mini chocolate chips, although I could have cut down the amount to a third of the bag. Once I used M&Ms, but they didn't stick to the mix and fell out of the bars, and made me want to eat and eat and eat the bars. Semi-sweet chocolate is heart-healthy! (So they say.)
Lisa's Protein Bars:
¾ Cup Peanut Butter
¾ Cup Honey
(I have also used Brown Rice Syrup in place of Honey which makes them taste like Bit O' Honey)
1 Cup Oat Flour
1 ½ Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats *Can toast Oats (see below)
2 Tbsp to 1/4 Cup Flaxseed Meal
½ package chocolate chips
Update June 2008: I realized the raw oats are rather hard on the digestive system, and toasting the oats makes them less harsh. Toast the oats in the oven 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (toaster oven works great).
Mix peanut butter and honey together. Add Oat Flour and mix well. Add Oats and salt (and anythin else). The mix will get very heavy and hard to stir (I use a wooden spoon).
Line a square baking pan or a square plastic container with plastic wrap - drape two pieces so that it comes up the sides and extends out. Drop the mixture into the pan so it's spread out evenly. Press the mixture down into the pan with your hands. Fold the plastic wrap over the bars so they are completely covered. Continue to press down so the edges are even. Chill several hours or overnight to harden the bars.
When ready to cut, lift the bars (with plastic wrap) completely out of the pan (or container) and onto a cutting board. Remove the plastic and cut. It's easiest to cut them with a big kitchen knife. I cut the entire square in half, then each half in half, then turn the bars 90 degrees and cut the same - into 16 bars total. To keep fresh, wrap each bar in plastic wrap, then put all the bars into a plastic container - they stay fresher longer this way. They continue to be sticky, so it's best to eat them by peeling back the plastic wrap, so your fingers don't get sticky. I carry them in my insulated lunch pack (with freezer packs and the rest of my lunch) to keep them from getting too soft. They stay fresh for about a week; more than a week and a half and they start to taste stale. Enjoy!