Saturday, August 29, 2009

Warning...Cleaning in Progress!

We have some people coming over tomorrow to help JJ begin his Eagle Scout project. So it's clean! Arg!

First up...the dining room table. We usually eat at the kitchen table (or in front of the TV, but we won't talk about that now), so the dining room table sometimes becomes a sorting area or some sort of a work station. I've been using it lately for going through my late uncle's papers and taking care of his bills.

One end of the table was full of his papers! The other had clothing that we wore to my brother's wedding a couple of weeks ago that needs to go to the dry cleaners.

Here's the table now:

Paperwork dealt with, bills paid, and papers ready for filing. Clothing waiting at the door to head out to the dry cleaners.

I know, I know...I'm going! Right now!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mama mia, that's some big cacti!

Eric is in Tucson for a couple of days working on some military stories. Here is a cool picture he sent from Arizona:

Straight out of a spaghetti western! I keep expecting to see Doc Holliday or Wyatt Earp ride up on their horses. Very cool!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mr. Bunny is Back!

Our bunny friend is back. He's a little out of focus, but he's back!

I caught him having supper...nibbling on a blade of grass. He's such a cutie!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And So Begins Another School Year

Today is the first day of school. It's a bit bittersweet this year as not only is it Nicky's first year of high school, but it's JJ's last. This year is going to fly by, I think.

Here are the boys in front of the school sign (looks like they need to get the pressure washer out, as it's a bit mildewy):

The boys get so aggravated with me as I make them get up early on the first day of school every year to take a picture in front of the school sign. But I have pictures all the way back to JJ's first year of kindergarten, and I'm not stopping now. Where are those pictures...I need to dig them out. Talk about bittersweet...

Happy 1st Day of School! Don't forget to drive extra carefully...lots of school children walking, getting on school buses, and driving cars. Be safe!

Monday, August 24, 2009

That's Some Monster Cereal

Eric bought some Shredded Wheat cereal at the grocery store the other day. But it looks like he bought the wrong cereal.

Look at this thing! It's like 6 inches across! He made a HUGE mess shredding this up for the cereal bowl.

Mini-Wheats, dear!!!!! Next time get the Mini-Wheats!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Sweetest Place on Earth

Nicky and I just got back from Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, where we attended the Boy Scout Wildlife Weekend. Yes, I actually went camping! It was a good time, although with Nicky and the other couple of boys that went around in our group, it was fairly tame. No coasters for these guys! Which was fine with me, as my coaster days are behind me.

Here's Nicky on the antique cars, right before I boarded:

And Nicky on the Carousel:

We did the Reeses Extreme Challenge, which is a laser-based shooting game/ride 5 times. That was a lot of fun and my score greatly improved over the course of the day, although I was still in last place among the 4 of us.

A must-see at Hersheypark is Chocolate World, which is free to the public at any time and contains the Hershey Tour, a ride that takes you through the history of Hershey's Chocolate. The tour ends with a small gift of chocolate, which changes every year. This year we received their newest item: Meltaway Kisses. These kisses are filled with a soft chocolate center that dissolves in your mouth like the chocolate has been left in the car on a hot day. Yummy!

We bought several bags. And they probably won't last 2 days.

Every day is better with chocolate.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Croutons, Anyone???

Everytime I pass this sign heading south--or north--on I-95, I chuckle.

This is just south of Emporia, Virginia. I'd love to know who named this road and why!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Best Bar-be-que Around, Guaranteed!

There are many reasons I love to visit my hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Lots of friends from my school days, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Krystal burgers, and...of yeah, my brother. AND his new family! But one of the biggies is this restaurant:

Sconyers is this wonderful bar-be-que place in south Augusta, only open 3 days a week, as you can tell from this sign. But they do such a great business on those 3 days they don't need to be open any other time. Mmmmmmmm....

Sconyers is housed in this great log cabin, which has 2 huge rooms on the lower level, and 2 huge rooms on the upper level.

This cute little piggy greets you at the front door:

This is a picture of the owner, Mr. Larry Sconyers, and some of his staff circa late 1970's, when Sconyers catered a function at the White House, when fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter was President.

Mr. Sconyers himself actually got involved in politics in later years, being elected to Mayor of Augusta. Most residents feel that's a time best left unmentioned. Mr. Sconyers definitely knows his bar-be-que, though! I wish I had a picture of the food, but frankly it wasn't on our plates long enough to get a picture. The pork plate with hash and rice is to die for!

If you're ever in Augusta, Georgia, don't miss Sconyers Real-Pit Bar-be-que.

And...just because I mentioned Krispy Kreme doughnuts earlier, here's what our box looked like...

The chocolate was so thick...the doughnuts so fresh (the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign was lit up)...this box was half gone before we got to my brother's house, 15 minutes away. In my immortal words, "There is nothing finer than a Krispy Kreme doughnut."

But Sconyers Bar-be-que comes darn close.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sacred Heart, Sacred Place

My brother's wedding took place in what used to be a Catholic church back in the day. Sacred Heart Church in Augusta, Georgia first opened for Mass in 1900 and closed in 1971 due to the mass exodus of residents to the suburbs. After many years of disrepair and vandalism, it reopened as Sacred Heart Cultural Center and is now home for many a beautiful wedding. Here is their website: Sacred Heart Cultural Center

I lived in Augusta for 17 years and visited my family there many more times over the years, and had never been inside Sacred Heart until Bill's wedding. Wow, it was sure worth the wait. It was beautiful. Here are a few pictures I took:

This is the outside looking upward. I was hoping to get a better picture from the highway, but it was pouring after the wedding, so this was the best I could get. The steeple goes so high, and the turrets are almost as high.

This is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The light isn't the best here, and darn that exit sign right above. But this was so beautiful.

This is the altar. It was pretty dark outside by now, as it was an evening wedding, plus the aforementioned storm was still raging. The altar flowers were placed there in memory of our parents. The matron of honor did all the floral arranging and she did a beautiful job.

One of the beautiful stained glass windows; not sure what it's of, but I can see Jesus in there.

Another beautiful stained glass window, this one after the birth of Jesus.

Such a pity this isn't still a church. There's a very holy feel to the place. I felt very close to God there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cake, Anyone?

I just love wedding cake. My brother's wedding had 2 fabulous cakes for our gluttonous pleasure.

Here's the main wedding the detail and the "W" at the top:

And here's the groom's cake. Bill is a HUGE pizza fan, and this cake was made with him in mind. It was vanilla inside with chocolate marbling, and all the decorations were icing. It was yummy, too.

They were both delicious! I need to find a picture of my wedding was beautiful. Where is that photo album????

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wedding Bells are Ringing

Life has certainly been busy lately. First we had our long road trip to the Midwest, then I had to go to Georgia for my uncle's funeral, then I spent the better part of 2 weeks going through his papers and trying to get his affairs in order, and then I topped that off by taking yet another trip to Georgia, this time for a most joyous occasion. My brother Bill, after nearly 39 years of bachelorhood, finally took the plunge and got married this past Saturday.

Here is Bill and my new sister-in-law, Stacie, at their rehearsal dinner:

I bought the hats at Party City and forgot to give them to the bride and groom until the end of the dinner, but it was still funny. The rehearsal dinner was the last one at Washington Hall in Augusta; the place went out of business the week before, but thankfully honored their committment to Bill and Stacie. The food was delicious, and my brother, who is a huge trivia nut, arranged for his favorite Live Trivia guy, Mike Thomas, to do a Trivia Night after dinner. Our table came in 2nd, and we won little plastic trophies. It was a blast!

Here's the groom with his nephews, my boys:

Three good looking fellas there!

Here's the beautiful bride:

This is the table for the guest book, which I never saw put out. The bridal couple chose to pass out bubbles instead of birdseed to toss after the ceremony, and next to the bubbles is a picture of Bill's and my parents. So it's like they were there.

More pictures of the week to come...

Congratulations to B and Stacie and welcome to the family to Stacie and her 3 children, Caleb, Tyler, and Hannah!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's a Fiesta!

I made a new dish tonight for supper...Grilled Fiesta Shrimp. I got the recipe from Cooking Light magazine, so it was healthy, too! Eric and I enjoyed it, but I think it needed a little more spice.

First, I peeled and de-tailed 2 pounds of shrimp. Place shrimp in a long layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil (I didn't have heavy-duty, so I used 2 sheets of regular). Then drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the shrimp and sprinkle 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Add 1 can corn with peppers, 1 can black beans, 1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese, and 3 tablespoons cilantro. Top that with another teaspoon of Creole seasoning.

Fold and seal the packet and place on a grill set to medium-high for 15 minutes or until the shrimp are done.

Meanwhile, make rice...I use Uncle Ben's long-grain. Yummy.

Plate the rice, spoon shrimp mixture over, and serve. Delish!

This is a reader recipe courtesy of the July 2009 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Grilled Fiesta Shrimp--serves 6

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, divided
1/2 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 drained canned whole-kernal corn with peppers
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 cups hot long-grain rice

Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
Arrange shrimp in the center of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or a double layer of regular foil). Drizzle oil over shrimp; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Creole seasoning. Top shrimp with cheese, corn, beans, and cilantro, and sprinkle with the last teaspoon of Creole seasoning. Fold opposite ends of foil together and crimp edges to seal.
Place foil packet on grill, cover and cook 15 minutes or until shrimp are done. Serve over hot cooked rice.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Last May I ordered some cute vases from the secretary of the middle school I sub at. Since it was close to Mother's Day, they've been backordered, and I finally got them a couple of days ago. I'm so excited at how cute they really are! I got some simple pink carnations, and placed them in the vase earlier.

Sometimes it's the little things that make one happy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weird Things I Saw on Vacation

I saw some odd things on our trip to the Midwest...some that just kind of tickled my fancy, others which were downright weird. Here are a few:

Now I just HAD to Google this when I got home! What the heck is a Jake Brake? Apparently they are a type of compression brake used on diesel trucks that make a very loud noise. So Cambridge, Ohio, does not wish to see the use of them in their town. Too funny...

Yes, that's lots of dollar bills hanging in a bar! This is the popular Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio that I spoke so highly of yesterday. For many years people have been signing their names on dollar bills--some fives, tens, and twenties, too--and the bartender hangs them up. The walls, ceilings, even counters are covered in money! And yes, there's one there from us, too!

I thought this banner was so funny. New York-style pizza. Why is that funny? We were in Chicago, on our way to eat Chigaco-style pizza. I guess some people are never satisfied...

Not a great picture, but Grant Park in Chicago was full of these metal flowers. There is a rotating art exhibit here. When Eric was here for the Obama acceptance speech in November, there were lots of legs on display here. I'm sorry I missed that one!

I have a better picture of this with feet in the shot, but for some reason it wouldn't load straight. This is the view of downtown Chicago, from the new plexiglass-floor box in what was then the Sears Tower. 103 stories straight down! I still can't believe I stood in that box and looked straight was more scary than weird!

I don't even know where to begin with this one. This was a picture that was hanging in the bathroom of our hotel in Chicago. Right over the toilet. I think that was a good location for it!

This was in the parking garage at the University of Wisconsin. I didn't realize Wisconsin was a tornado-prone area. Snowstorms, maybe...

This neon sign was in the window of The Mill in Iowa City. I have no idea what it is...maybe a business? A drink, maybe? Anyway, it's kind of amusing.

I guess pedestrians don't have the right-of-way at the University of Iowa! But hey, it's a smoke-free campus!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Great Midwest Food Tour

We ate at a lot of wonderful places on our vacation a couple of weeks back.

In Columbus, Ohio, we ate at the Thurman Cafe, which has the best hamburger I've ever eaten.

Eric found this place on Trip Advisor, and it was worth the stop. VERY small restaurant, and very popular...we had to wait 20 minutes just to sit at the bar!

This was Eric's was huge and juicy! I just ordered a plain burger with ketchuo, but it was as big as this one and just as delicious!

If you're ever in Columbus, give this place a try!

In Lafayette, Indiana, we ate at the Triple XXX...sounds like a porno restaurant, but it was great!
This was a featured restaurant on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri, and there were pictures of him all over the place. Even though it was nighttime, JJ ordered the pancakes (they serve breakfast all day). They were HUGE!

Once again, I had the burger, but I liked the Thurman's better. Fun atmosphere in here, though...very much a dive!

Of course, you can't visit Chicago without eating pizza! We had lunch at Lou Malnatti's downtown.
The pizza was yummy...we each ordered our own personal pizza. The kids has cheese, I had pepperoni, and Eric has some veggie one.

For supper that night, it was Gino's East.

Now THAT was some good pizza! It was dark in here, so the pictures didn't come out well, but trust me, this pizza joint was worth visiting!

In Iowa City, before our tour of the University, we ate lunch at The Mill, a bar and grill just off campus.

There was a jukebox here that JJ gave a great workout...lots of Metallica! Once again, I had the hamburger. Seemed to be a theme to this vacation for me! Nothing beats the Thurman, though.

I love the bar area name.

No visit to the Midwest would be complete without a stop at the most famous hamburger joint ever...

We had these for breakfast our last day, when we were headed back home. There's just something about a little square burger...

Now...I'm in the mood for a hamburger. How long will it take me to get to Columbus?