26 July 2010

Grandpa B.'s Saturday Adventure

For most of the day tomorrow, Matt and I will be either driving or exploring, so I won't be able to share too much.  Start getting excited about Letterman and the Mets and Best Friend and Trina and Missy and the other fun that is fast approaching.

In the mean time, though, enjoy this fun email from Grandpa B.  He's telling us all about his typical Saturday, and, if nothing else, it makes me want to be retired, sailing radio-controlled sailboats. (and to still be in love in the cute way that Grandma and Grandpa are).

Grandpa B. and Grandma Carol are the best, but everyone knows that.

Mandy, Matt, and Mitch: We enjoy your blog and have noted that you write about things that happen in your daily life.

On Saturdays, I go and sail radio controlled sailboats. The radio control is a transmitter in your lap that controls two things. Sail out and in and right turn, left turn. The boat is 65 centimeters long and 110 centimeters to the top of the mast, weighing 2.5 lbs plus or minus. My boat is yellow with purple sails and a #46 on the sail. Her name is Miss Lynn.

It was Saturday a week ago, July 17, I remember it well. A bright sunshiny day with very light to no wind. Our club usually has about five boats called RG 65's. We compete on a race course set up with colored buoys that look like basketballs. We are all here this day with a starting boom box that announces when we can begin our race. "BOATS TO THE WATER", in an English accent, tells us it is time to start our Sat. ritual. "We", { the boat and I are one,} are manuerving (sp) behind the start line to be in a good position at the time we hear the bong, " " Two minutes to mark" and the countdown begins..........One minute 30 seconds to mark, "Where's the wind, where's the wind "...............there's a PUFF...............One minute to mark, but we are facing the wrong way...........where's the wind", where's the wind, .........we have a PUFF! We are pointed in the right direction..........50, seconds to mark, 40 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and BONG.........we are in a good position. All sailors are in good position as we approach the first buoy, but everyone has stopped.! Once again, where's the wind, where's the wind! We stay Wide of the first buoy to keep clear of the other boats and we make a left turn, port side rounding. Looking for a puff, the puff comes from behind "asturn". We are in a good position. Advancing toward the next buoy we are waiting for another puff. "There's a puff, there's a puff..........we are sailing well. Approaching the next buoy we are leading the race. Another left turn, port side rounding...........sail to the next buoy and a port side rounding.............back towards the finish line..........but there is no wind. Watching the surface of the water, we see a ripple.........there's the wind. We are trying to keep the sails filled, but here comes the second place boat. He has found the wind also.........we tack back toward the finish line...........he's found the wind.........we've found the wind..........He pulls ahead and crosses the finish line and we are in second.!!

This completes one of eleven heats for the day. Out of five boats, we finish fourth, at the end of the racing, day, beating the boat that broke.!!!

Another Sat is now in the racing archives of the "Duke City Model Yacht Club"! Be The Good Lord willing, and the creek don't rise, we'll be back next Sat to do it all over again!

Just wanted to share one of my exciting Saturdays at the pond. Love, Grandpa

P.S. I, THE GRANDMOTHER WAS NOT IN ATTENDANCE! Grandpa dictated this for me to type.........ignore the spelling and puncuation errors............but they would be worse if Grandpa did it!

Love, Grandma Carol

So. . .only 26 more years until I can retire. . .

25 July 2010

This and That

You're getting a whole lotta random right now, partly because I'm pretty sure that I severely damaged my wrist while scraping glue for the Lagoon, partly because today I've consumed about 400% of the sodium that a normal human should in a day, but mostly because I spent 10 hours in a car today (and I even drove for four of those hours, which is unprecedented!). 

So here's what I've got for you on this lovely, sweltering Monday morning.
  1. We're currently in Manassas, visiting family (and maybe IKEA, even though there's not actually anything that I need there, so maybe that's a bad idea) before we take the next leg of our trip.  But if you're in Savannah, don't get all excited, thinking that you're going to rob us while we're away.  Our friend Cris is housesitting/dogsitting, which means that Mitch will be spending his week with his best friend Reilly. (Don't rob Cris, either.)
  2. While Mitch is cuddling with Reilly on the couch, I'll be hanging out with this guy.  Have I already mentioned that (like, two million times)?
  3. Also, we also have plans to go to Citi Field to watch a Mets game.  David Letterman will probably go with us.  Actually, I think he may be a Yankees fan.
  4. Speaking of baseball, you may need to listen to this story by Michaela Murphy.  It was a recent story featured on The Moth Podcast, and it's pretty great.  Maybe I cried a little?
  5. Matt's mom just gave him some really badass cast iron skillets for his upcoming birthday.  This means two things.  1.) Matt is going to be even more excited to cook dinner, which is good for me.  And 2.) I now have a great weapon should a murderer try to come into our house.
  6. What the hell is going on with this heat?  Today while we were driving up here, the car's thermometer was saying that the temperature outside was between 110-118.  And that was while we were driving.  I mean, I know those skew a little high, but seriously.  My flip flops felt like they were melting into the pavement.
  7. Right now I'm watching Cupcake Wars, and I think it's a bunch of crap that my Matt F. of Frostings didn't get on.  It's a sham!  Matty F., you'd be kickin' ass and takin' names!
  8. I hope I don't see Olivia from The City during our trip.  If I did see her, I may have to go up to her and say, "Olivia, it's a bunch of crap that you're the new face of Elle.com!"  I'm sure that would mean a lot to her.  Ugh, I can't stand her!
  9. Did I mention that we're going to see Letterman?
  10. Did I mention that he's been on my list (see: Friends) for over a decade?
Our last trip was our relaxation trip.  This one is our adventure trip, and I'm so excited.  Who knows how often I'll be posting, what with all of the adventures and excitement, but I'll give it the ol' college try.

Happy Monday!

23 July 2010

Pineapple Coconut Sorbet

 When I get into my car and see this. (Also, I'm in a contest to see just how many miles the Volvo will go, and the car was covered in dog hair.  Judge away.)

I know that it's high time for some of this.

Why haven't I made this before?  Pineapple and coconut and sorbet?  July in Savannah, when the heat index today is supposed to be something like 118?  Yes, I think I will.

This doesn't earn the title of "Mandy's Famous Pineapple Coconut Sorbet" because all I did was modify a recipe.  Honestly, I wasn't sure where to start with the coconut.  So I found this recipe, but decided to ditch the ginger and go for more of a pina colada feel.

And I'm pretty sure that fresh pineapple is one of my favorite foods on earth.

And coconut's not too shabby, either.  (Granted, I did not use fresh coconut because I was afraid of it.  In college, when we would drink frozen drinks out of coconuts, the only way I could get the coconuts open was by throwing them off the balcony onto the concrete.  I don't have a balcony here.)

And then, after I'd pureed and made syrups and squeezed limes and gnawed on the part of the pineapple that you're not supposed to eat, therefore making the corners of my mouth sting, I realized that I'd left a crucial part of the ice cream maker at the lake house.  Shooooooooooot!

So this didn't churn like it was supposed to.  Instead, it sat in a spinning frozen bowl.  But, you know, it worked fine.  I'm curious about how the texture of the sorbet would be different if it had actually churned, but it's really good as is.  (Which means that you can make this one even without an ice cream maker!)

Pineapple Coconut Sorbet

1 pineapple
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup lite coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
juice from one lime


1.  Bring one cup lite coconut milk to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar, stir to dissolve, and then remove from heat.

2.  Puree pineapple and shredded coconut in a food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine coconut milk syrup and pureed pineapple and coconut.  Stir in lime juice.

4.  Chill mixture for one hour, and then freeze in ice cream maker (or just in an airtight bowl) according to manufacturer's instructions.

Happy Friday to all!

22 July 2010

I Heart David Letterman.

Next Wednesday Matt and I will be seeing one of these two handsome gentlemen. 

I'll give you a hint.  It's not the one who's the president.

But that's okay, because we stalked the president this spring.  But I've been giddy today because WE GOT TICKETS TO SEE LETTERMAN!

Both Matt and I have been big Letterman fans since we were tweens (I hate that word), so this is kind of like a lifelong dream come true.  About a month ago I posted a video of Dave and Rupert G. harassing people around New York, because that night Matt and I had been talking about our favorite Letterman moments.  When I was younger, I was really into taping my favorite shows with our trusty VCR.  I had recorded the episode on which this particular Rupert stunt aired, and I watched it dozens of times.  The guest that night was Michael Keaton, and he was promoting his latest film, Speechless.  It was a really funny interview, and I could pretty much quote it to you, but that would be more fun for me than it would be for you.  Basically, it's just one of those funny little things that has been seared into my memory.

And who is scheduled to be the guest on Wednesday, when Matt and I will be hanging out with Dave?  Michael-effing-Keaton, that's who.  Michael-the-best-Batman-Keaton.  It's like my life has come full circle.

Also, there's a good chance that Dave'll lay eyes on me and be in love.  Matt should watch out. 

Here's another of our favorites. 

Set your DVRs for the Wednesday show. I'll be the one in the bright red hoodie (Dave keeps the theater frigid), flapping my arms up and down, completely overcome with excitement.

This and That

1. Per the recommendation of our friend Ann, Matt and I will be staying in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for two nights next week.  Oh, and did I mention that it'll be cheaper than if we stayed in a hotel in Jersey?  Vacation Rentals By Owner, http://www.vrbo.com/.  Why am I just now hearing about this?

2.  Mitch is still the cutest dog on the planet.

3.  All clearance items at The Gap are currently 40% off the clearance price.  I have a purple heathered shirt with a boxer (human, not dog) on it that says CONTENDER now.  It was $3, what can I say?  I can say, "I coulda been a contender!" in a Marlon Brando voice.  I think I might have to go back and get the one with the football player on it that says "LOCAL HERO," except that I don't know any movie quotes that go with that.  Guess I could always just tell people that it's Tim Riggins on the shirt, huh?

4.  Finally bought and and put together a TV stand that is an appropriate size for our TV.  While I was on the phone tonight, Matt yelled to me, "Um, Mandy, were you supposed to have two screws left over?"  I told him that, yes, I was supposed to have those left over and that they were extra.  He seemed to think that was okay.  Truth?  There's only supposed to be one extra screw, but I don't think it'll be an issue.  If Matt and I ever divorce, I feel like tonight's events might have something to do with it (like if our TV fell to its death, which won't happen).

5.  Still obsessed with The Lagoon.  Also happy that I've managed to get Matt to refer to that room as The Lagoon.  I used this same strategy fifteen years ago when my mom was pregnant with Chloe.  It's all about persistence and confidence, people.  I'm happy to have a Lagoon and a Chloe instead of a sunroom and a sister named Emily.

6.  I'm paranoid that the oil from the BP disaster is going to reach Tybee Island.  Slate has a neat interactive map that animates possible scenarios for the spread of the oil.  It's both interesting and terrifying.  Also, fuck you, BP.

7. There is a pile of laundry in my bedroom that is as tall as I am.  It's all clean, but I need to fold it and put it away.  Ugh.

8.  Sometimes I wonder if politicians and other people in power understand the concept of video.

9.  I hate Angelo on Top Chef.  Also, True Blood seems to be hitting its stride this season.  The latest episode was quite good.

10.  I think that tomorrow, while I'm not doing laundry and while I'm not washing the car or cleaning all of the fans in the house (as my to-do list begs), I'm going to watch 500 Days of Summer.  And maybe eat a grilled cheese.  Yeah, that sounds good.

21 July 2010

Vacation Interrupted: A Post from Mitch

Hey, you guys.  It's me again, Mitch.  Not too much is going on here.  I just barked at a guy who came to the door trying to sell security systems.  Doesn't he know that I am the security system?  Look at these teeth!  Listen to my loud, threatening bark.  Don't think for a second that I don't have rabies! (I don't have rabies, but every time I think about rabies I think about the end of Their Eyes Were Watching God and I laugh.  Oh, Tea Cake!)

Anyway, we just got back from our "vacation" a couple of days ago.  The thing is, I really needed a vacation because I had had a reallly hard week.  I mean, my mom made me go to the vet, where I got poked and prodded and things inserted places where things should never be inserted.  And then there was the vacuum cleaner, and there were fireworks, and then there were terrible thunderstorms.  I mean, I was stressed to the max! But my mom had told me that we were going to my Grandma Sue and Grandpa Spence's lake house in North Carolina.  Let me tell you something about the lake house: it's pretty much the best place in the world for a dog.  There are comfortable beds, and comfortable couches, there's lots of cheese, and there's a dock for sunning, and there are dog neighbors for when I want to be social.  And there's a lake!  One thing you might not know about me is that I LOVE to swim. 

So on the first morning we were there I took a dip in the water, and I relaxed on the dock, and I just started to feel my troubles melt away.  It was fantastic.

And then it happened.


And I was all, "What the hell kind of sick joke is this?"  I mean, I like Fletcher and all (stupid tail of mine is a dead giveaway--stop wagging, tail!), but he's not really a vacation kind of dog.  He's more of an adventure in the boxing ring kind of dog.  AND HE CAN'T EVEN SWIM!

There was one thing that happened that was soooooooooooo funny.  So, Fletcher was wearing this doggie life jacket (Who doesn't need a dog life jacket?  Oh yeah, Mitch doesn't.), and he went down the steps to the lake just to get a drink of water.  I knew that he didn't want to swim because he'd told me that the night before, right after I tried to eat his face off when he interrupted my begging for steak.

So when he turned around to go back up the stairs, he slipped on the slippery stairs and fell in head first!

I mean, I know I'm not supposed to laugh when something like that happens, but it was sooooooooo funny.  And after I knew for sure that he wasn't hurt, I just laughed and laughed and laughed.  I can tell you one thing, Fletcher is never going to hear the end of that.  I told him I had pictures and I would post them on the internet.

I also told him that if he punched me again I would push him in the lake.

The rest of the vacation was good because we got to eat dog steak from Fresh Market and I went swimming a whole bunch more times.  I even got to go for a couple of rides on the boat, but I didn't bring my camera because I didn't want it to get wet. 

The lake is sometimes so fun that it's exhausting, and then after a long day of fun you have to curl up on a couch and just get some shuteye.

My mom and dad are going on another vacation here soon, but I told them that this time I'll just stay at home and invite Reilly over for the week.  (Because I hear that the place they're going has a puppy.)

20 July 2010

Vacation: Chillaxin'

Note the ridiculous cuteness of the dog life jacket.  Is Fletcher a swimmer, or a member of the bomb squad?

Matt wants everyone to know that Hitch 22 was one of the best books he's read in a long time.


I want to go back!

The Lagoon

We have a room in our house that I believe was once a porch, but has been enclosed with walls and windows.  It's 10' x 11', and in that space there are eight windows, so we called it the sunroom.  Because we hardly ever use our front door, the sunroom is the room where we always enter the house, with our dirty feet and paws.  And although the rest of the house is hardwood (except for the tiled bathroom), the sunroom had carpet--indoor/outdoor, used-to-be-blue, disgusting, old, smelly carpet.

I HATED the carpet. 

So a few months back, I contacted our landlord to ask for permission to pull up the carpet and paint the concrete floor beneath.  She happily obliged, and when I promised not to go too crazy with the color, didn't seem bothered, telling me that she could always put down carpet again after we move if it's ugly.  Excellent.

But then I'd waver, trying to decide if the amount of work I'd have to do to pull up the carpet would be worth it.  The project was one of the things on my summer to-do list, but I knew it was a lofty goal, and didn't actually think I'd get around to it.

And then one night I talked to Becky, who is in the process of buying a house, and our conversation revolved around home renovations, decorating, and DIY projects.  And I was inspired.  The next morning when I woke up the very first thing I thought about was that ugly-ass carpet, and I was motivated. 

And after five trips to Home Depot, $86, several conversations with Larry the Home Depot Floor Expert, blood blisters, sore backs, and a few days of hard, miserable work, I did it. 

But let's back up. 

Since I got to pick the color myself, I had a big decision to make.  I wanted something fun, something dark enough that it wouldn't show every speck of dirt, but light enough that it wouldn't show dog hair.  And I couldn't help but to come back to these tea towels that Matt's mom got me for Christmas.  (They're some of the nice towels in the kitchen, and I almost don't want to use them because they're so pretty.)

And on trip #1 to Home Depot, I saw that Ms. Martha had her own line of paint colors.  Basically, I chose the color that matched up best with the towels, Lagoon.

But there was a lot of work to do.

There was the initial pulling up of the carpet, and then the scraping of foam.  Easy enough.  I did it with Matt's grill scraper.  (He was at the movies when I turned into a home-renovating psychopath.)

But then there was this glue, this carpet glue that had been there for decades.  It wasn't going to come up easily.  I used chemicals, and I used boiling water, and I used 4" razor blades, and I used a hair dryer.  That glue can rot in hell as far as I'm concerned. 

After about two days of glue removing misery, we were done.  (Matt helped after I stood in the middle of the room, sweating like crazy and almost in tears, cussing at the glue and holding my sore wrist.)

And then I primed.

And then painted.

And I bought a rug. (for $10--hell yeah, Marshalls!)

And moved in some items from around the house.

And now look!

And now it's my new favorite room in the house, and it makes me smile every time I walk [swim] into it. 

Here's a little side-by-side comparison.
I'm in love.

19 July 2010

Vacation: The Food

I don't even know where to begin in explaining just how wonderful our recent vacation was.  For starters, I need to give props to Matt's parents, who have created an escape that's a perfect balance between fun and relaxing.  While at the lake, one is never bored and never stressed.

Their house is so accommodating, too.  There are tons of beach towels, a well-stocked kitchen, and comfortable beds.  And last year they built a boat house that sports a 16-foot wide dock, a perfect place to relax, to play, and to drink Diet A&W root beer.  We've never had a bad time there.  Hell, we've never had a bad day there.

This year we invited Hugh and Cassie to join us for a few days, and they brought along their two furry children, Henry the Cat and Fletcher the Dog.

I might have to do a few posts about our glorious four days at Lake Gaston. 

Let's start with the food.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that by inviting Cassie and Hugh to join us, I'd be spoiled by their cooking during the entire trip.  And we were!  There was spaghetti carbonara, burgers, steak, more steak, and BBQ chicken pizza.

You'd have to hit up Cassie to find the recipes for the carbonara and the pizza, but let me tell you about the steak.

We'd been gushing about Fresh Market steaks to Matt's parents for years, and wanted them to share in the experience.  So on Wednesday, before heading out of town, I stopped by Fresh Market to pick up two filets for the 'rents, and four ribeyes for the rest of us.  When I got there, I saw that beef tenderloin was on sale for $10/pound.  Hmph?  The filets themselves were $18/pound and the ribeyes were $15/pound.  While I'd walked into the store prepared to drop some cash on steaks, I couldn't resist the idea of having six pounds of filet for about half the cost.  (The FM butcher assured me that it was the same meat.)

So we drove up to Lake Gaston with a cow in tow.


And then we put Hugh on butchering detail, figuring that his first year of med school would have honed his already impressive knife skills.

He researched everything there was to know about beef tenderloin, cut out some amazing filets for our dinner, set aside the head steak (this was a teachable moment, you see) for the next day's lunch (steak sandwiches!), and even reserved a delicious fatty piece for dog steak. (Our dogs are very, very spoiled.)

Now, when it came to actually cooking the steak, the boys employed our favorite steak-cooking method.  It was slightly different, though, because they cooked the steaks on skillets on the grill.  The skillets got so hot that they melted the little pot holders that go on the handles!

Dog steak.

Accompanying the steak were grilled asparagus, grilled onions, twice-baked potatoes, caesar salad, and then, for dessert, Thomas Jefferson's Famous Vanilla Ice Cream!

I couldn't get over how delicious this meal was.  And I couldn't get over the fact that for $60, we fed AMAZING filets to six adults, for two meals.  Oh, and two dogs.  Never forget about dog steak.

That's cheaper than Wendy's!!


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