Sunday, October 30, 2011

The "S" word is back!

Yep, that's right. The first "snow" of the season.

This one kind of took everyone by surprise, measurable snow in October is uncommon.  We got about an inch here but a little to the west of us they have a few inches.  I always try to take a few photos of the first snowfall, later in the year we won't be so impressed!

'til next time...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reading...The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

I read this book for the first time several years ago.  But I think that it is one you should reread periodically.  For me there is so much information that I seem to glean something new each time.  Sometimes, I will just pick it up and read a section or two rather than reading the whole book again.

I guess you can already tell that I love this book. I like all of Michael Pollan's books and I think he has done a tremendous service to us all through his work.

I believe everyone should read this book at least once. It may not change the way you live but I guarantee it will make you think twice about a lot of things, when you drive past a cornfield, past a McDonald's, when you look at the organic section at the grocery store, even when you walk into Whole Foods.  It is a thought provoking book.

'til next time...

Monday, October 24, 2011

My baby turns 2...

My daughter turned two last Friday.  My baby turned two last Friday.  This is hard to believe.  And it is sad. 

On Friday we had a party for her little friends, you can read about that here.  On Sunday we had another party for her with my family and a few of our neighbors. 

Here are a few pictures of the birthday girl.

getting a birthday smooch from daddy...

this little boy loves birthday parties...

'til next time...

A Beatrix Potter birthday party

I was struggling to come up with a theme for my daughter's 2nd birthday.  She really isn't into princesses, butterflies or most of the "girl" themes you see.  She is actually into trains and cars, if I was really having the party for her, like I pretend I am, I would have had a Lightning McQueen party, that would have made her happy.

But I didn't.

Instead I happened upon the cutest Beatrix Potter theme party ware.  Which also happened to be the most expensive stuff they had in the store, Of course. But since we are made of money (HAHA) and since she got cheated our of a real party last year I decided to splurge. Click here  for her fabulous 1 year old party she had last year.

These were the plates...

and the napkins...

gift bags...they had miniature Beatrix Potter books, a bag of cheddar bunnies and a bag of veggie sticks.

One of the decorations was a Beatrix Potter carousel, it was unbelievably cute!

I did not make a cake, just carrot cupcakes with these cute little toppers.

Utensils, rolled and in a pail.  Wrappers on the utensils said "Happy Birthday Ainsley!"

The food was labeled with characters or stories from Beatrix Potter.

This wasn't really healthy, and I'm sure the other moms secretly hated me for it, but the idea was just too cute to pass up!

I printed off images from the Beatrix Potter books and hung them from the ceiling for decorations.

And here is the birthday girl....

Don't you just want to smooch that sweet face?!?

We had a great party, there were 16 children here age 3 and under.  

Chaos, would probably be the right word, but it was fun chaos!

'til next time...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reading....Bella Tuscany

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

I enjoyed this book but not as much as Under the Tuscan Sun.  Bella Tuscany has more information about their life in Tuscany and their travels to the surrounding area. I will probably reread this book when planning a trip to Italy as they mentioned several places that I would be interested in seeing. However this book does not have as many recipes as Under the Tuscan Sun has so I probably will not reference it as often.

Speaking of Under the Tuscan Sun...

I reread this book each summer, I love several of the recipes. You know that point in summer when you have mounds of fresh vegetables sitting on your counter and you are starting to get tired of the garden?  That is when I start flipping through the book, it always inspires me to come up with a new way to use that fresh produce.

'til next time...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Addition update - plumber's helpers

When you hear the term "plumber's helper" you may not think of something that is adorable. 

But trust me, it is.

In the picture above take note of the hose coming out of the left side. Wythe attached that to a nail in the side of the cabinet.  He pointed it out to us saying "look, I make new water pipes!"

As he said "I'm helping Daddy with water pipes!"

Nothing like an audience...

Ainsley trying to help.
And yes, that is the large screwdriver so it is listed as safe for almost-two-year-olds to play with.

Wythe takes full credit for the fact that water now comes out of the faucet.

'til next time...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Addition update - tile woes

Previously I mentioned that I was going to pick out the tile for the  bathroom. I actually found a tile that I liked and was affordable. Affordable meaning we only have to sell off one child.

We picked out the tile, decided on tile patterns, picked out the accent pieces, grout etc.  Next step was having their guy come out to do the actual measurements. We were excited, thinking that maybe we could have the tile installed within a few weeks.

However, when the estimator got here he immediately started throwing cold water on our plans.  The first thing he said was that our bathroom was too small to do an open shower.  Now, this bathroom has been entirely designed around the concept of an open shower, that is not something we want to change. He kept telling me that when they do open showers the shower area is about the size of our entire bathroom.  I explained to him that we are aware of the fact that we may get some water spray on the tub and toilet but that is why we were water proofing the entire room. He continued to state that the area was too small for an open shower.  I am convinced he has never been to Europe. You could fit about 6 European bathrooms in our bathroom, and they have the open shower concept. The conversation ended with him saying we could do an open shower if we wanted to but that their company would not do the work unless we put a shower enclosure in.

So, now we are back to finding tile and an installer.  I am pretty sure that we can get the tile we liked from another source, we just have to do some more leg work.

'til next time...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Addition update - making progress and tearing down walls

My husband tells me we are making "progress" on the addition.
That led to one of those discussions that goes "well....what do you think the word "progress" means?

"What do you mean?  I know what "progress" means, what do you think it means?"

"Oh, I know what it means, I'm just wondering if you know what it means."

"Oh, I do know, but maybe you know of a different definition.  What is your definition?"

"The only definition I know of is the one in the dictionary.  Do you know of a different one?"

"Well, let's look it up because I think we have different definitions of the word."

Webster is a very important component of our marriage.
My husband and I don't always have the same definition of progress but basically he was right, we are making progress.  Just doesn't feel like it though when you are tearing out walls and doors that you had already finished installing.

This is what the wall in the addition did look like. Door on the left is to the bathroom, door on the right is to the closet. The closet was painted and trim installed, we only needed to have the floors done and install the closet shelves/racks.

Then, my husband took the closet door off.  Progress.

Then the wall starting coming out. More progress.
"Wow, this is fun tearing out Sheetrock that we already spent a lot of time installing/mudding/priming/painting!"
Now we can see through the closet into the bathroom, maybe we should have a connecting closet -bathroom?

So, all this demolition of the wall was done in order to put this beast in it's place...

...the cabinet that we drove to Leesburg 64,000 times to look at, remember that?  

But now we are back to the "progressing" part.  The cabinet has been installed in the opening in the bathroom, the wall has been framed in around it and Sheetrock has been reinstalled.  Now we are working on mudding the sheet rock to get it ready to be primed and to be able to reinstall the door to the closet.

Oh, I think I forgot to mention that along with tearing out the bathroom/closet wall we also had to move the closet door over about 5 inches which required moving the electricity and light switch too.  And we wonder why this 6 month project has been going on over 2 years...

But yes, progress is being made.

Mainly in the form of one step forward, ten steps back.

'til next time...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rightmyer Annual Oktoberfest 2011

I have been trying to write this post for a couple of days. I am having a hard time finding the words to describe our party this year. I will warn you in advance that this post is long, probably should have been several posts but I just want to write it and move on. 

My husband says one day I will laugh about this party.

I'm not laughing yet.

Anyone who has ever hosted a large party knows how much work and planning it takes.  You plan and prepare for months and then the party comes and in a matter of hours it is all over. Last year I learned that many things could have been done differently, but such is to be expected when one is hosting ones first Oktoberfest. This year I was determined to be more organized and not have the last minute panic that seems an inevitable part of party prep.  I made list after list of what needed to be done, I had the lists organized into categories and time frames for completion.  For awhile I was pretty much on schedule, the yard work was running behind schedule but that was mainly because it rained the entire month of September. 

Gee thanks, September.

(And, just for the record you are no longer my favorite month.)

As the party approached I worried some about the weather, the forecast was changing wildly.  At one point they were calling for 82 degrees and sunny.  Then a couple days later is was changed to 56 degrees and sunny.  Closer to the party it was calling for chance of rain, partly cloudy. The morning of the party they were calling for a slight shower at 9am, slight shower at 3pm and slight shower at 6pm, then the rest of the evening was clear.  Not bad, we could work with that.

Despite my extensive planning there was a mad rush the morning of the party, I started to fall behind in my food prep and wasn't able to start decorating as early as I intended.  I was somewhat cheered about the weather though, the predicted 9AM shower was only a spitting of rain, not even enough to dampen the patio. 

The mad rush continued but with the help of family the decorations were up and the food was almost ready by party time. Once again, I did not get hardly any photos, partly because I was running behind schedule and didn't get any before the party started and then later, well, things kind of got a little crazy.

Once again we had VIP parking up by the house and General parking in the field. I strung blue and white lights from the fence leading down to the parking area in the field to help guide the way to the house.

We had a welcome display set up at the top of the steps, hay bales, mums, pumpkins, balloons, our welcome sign and lots of bubbles. The "Beer Tent" and "Pretzel Stand" were set up under the tent. The food table was set up on the patio. 

  The menu this year was as follows:
hard pretzels
soft pretzels
bratwurst & buns
caraway sauerkraut
red cabbage
warm German potato salad
potato soup
German meatballs & noodles
pumpernickel & rye bread
German chocolate cake
Black Forest Cake
apple cake
We were expecting 120 people this year but the actual number was 94. 70 adults and 24 children. So we had plenty of food this year, lots of left overs.  I always worry about the food quantities, it is so hard to know how much food to fix for that many people.

The party started at 4pm, the Oompa music was playing and the cars were rolling in...

Have you ever wondered why the terms "Oompa music" and "German drinking music" seem to be used    interchangeably?  Just listen to Oompa music for about 5 minutes and I guarantee you will start drinking. Works great for an Oktoberfest party!

Ever wondered in you can grill 120 brats on a tiny charcoal grill??? heck ya!

...the music was blaring, the beer was flowing, the brats were grilling, the soft pretzels were hot out of the oven and we were keeping an eye on the sky.

Then the first rain drop smacked us right in the eyeball.

Then another and another. 

People started crowding under the tent and tarps, opening umbrellas, gathering under the trees. 

We kept smiling, kept saying "It will pass soon, they are only calling for a slight will pass....light shower, that is all...." 

We kept smiling, the drops turned to showers, the showers to out right rain and the rain to a down pour.

"It will pass soon, only calling for a slight shower."

People abandoned the trees and umbrellas and played Packed Sardines under the tents, they moved into the house, into our under-1000-square-feet-house and into our even-smaller-unfinished-addition. They sat on chairs, the floor, stood shoulder to shoulder, everyone trying to stay dry and warm. Did I mention the high that day was 56 degrees?   

About 6 hours and at least an inch and a half of rain later, the shower finally passed. Leaving in it's wake a soggy, soggy mess. The field was a mud pit, it is a miracle that the last of the vehicles even made it out. The house was full of mud that had been tracked in, the party tables, tents, decorations were filled with water and most of the party stuff was destroyed.  

But lest you are weeping in your coffee cup in sympathy for our soggy Oktoberfest party there is a positive ending. There were many brave people who came to the party, stuck it out through the cold rain and had a great time! Kudos to all the hearty souls!  Maybe the bravery was due in part to the liquid courage that was flowing liberally. Maybe is was due to my homemade apple pie moonshine that I passed around, like any good hostess would do. Regardless of the reason, our guests were troopers and helped make the party a success!

I'm still not laughing.

But there may be a smile tugging at the corner of my mouth.

Here's to 2012!  

Ein Prosit!

'til next time...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reading...A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

I borrowed this book from the library because I wanted to reread it before reading the newer edited version.  It had been years since I had read this book, I forgot how much I enjoy Hemingway!  Reading this makes me want to reread some of his other books.

The version I read was published in 1964. In 2009 a grandson of Hemingway published a version called the "Restored Edition".  Supposedly it restores some passages that were edited out of the 1964 edition and "tones down" some other passages.  I am curious to read the newer edition and see what the differences are.  I always found the references to his happiness with Hadley to be especially moving,  particularly if you know his history.

Of course I enjoyed this book, how could I not like Hemingway?

'til next time...