Friday, March 30, 2012

Trailblazers

Have I mentioned how much I love the Capital Crescent Trail?  I really only discovered how close we are to it about a year ago, and it's become one of my favorite places to run, weather permitting.  I also recently realized that a park we've been to a few times while seeing the cherry blossoms in Kenwood is right on the edge of the trail.  Since Joseph has been obsessed with riding his bike nonstop, we thought the trail would be a great place to let him loose.  He logged a few miles there!





Poppy called while we were at the park, about to head home.  He had sent some money with Mimi for Joseph to buy something special from him.  Since they were talking about riding his bike, they decided to buy a bell.


We were right near Griffin Cycle, where the Easter Bunny had purchased the bike last Easter, so we headed right over.  Mission accomplished!


I love seeing Joseph so excited about exercise.  It's really not just the bells and whistles (ok, bad pun there...), he truly loves being out on his bike racing around.  He loves swimming too, so maybe if I can convince him to start running with me, he'll be a triathlete some day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cupcakes and a Cake Wreck

After Joseph and I spent a fun afternoon together seeing the cherry blossoms last week and not baking a cake for Brent, we popped by Georgetown Cupcakes to pick up a little something sweet to celebrate his birthday with on Friday.


Brent, along with the rest of America, has become obsessed with the British TV show "Downton Abbey." I'd seen these paper dolls circulating around on the internet so I printed them out to decorate the cake stand as a little joke.  Nothing says birthday fun like the Dowager Countess!


Brent's mom came into town on Saturday, so I did finally bake a cake so we could celebrate a second time.


I tried a new recipe from Saveur magazine.  The cover article was on the "Best Cakes EVER," and Brent opted for the caramel cake over red velvet.  Now, I am a baker.  A pretty good baker at that if I do say so myself.  I try new recipes all the time and do well.  However, at least in terms of presentation, this particular cake was an EPIC. FAIL.  Lopsided, lumpy, oozing caramel frosting everywhere.



But inside it looked pretty, and it tasted damn fine.  It's the thought that counts, right?

(There was a ton of caramel fudge frosting left over and I cannot wait to see how it tastes on plain old vanilla ice cream!)  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cherry Blossom Centennial


This year's Cherry Blossom Festival has been touted as a once in a lifetime celebration.  Washington, DC received a gift of 3000 cherry blossom trees from Japan in 1912, and they have survived and stood the test of time for a full century now.  

Peak bloom, when 70% of the blossoms that surround the Tidal Basin are open, was happening right at the end of last week.  We should have been home Thursday afternoon baking a birthday cake for Brent, but I made a split-second decision and threw Joseph in the car for a chance at experiencing one of our most beloved national treasures in person.  The weather was gorgeous and I knew we'd have no other opportunities due to work schedules and other obstacles.  I was afraid the closest we'd get was just a drive-by like the last time, but it was a chance I knew we had to take. 

Even though it was a weekday afternoon, there was still quite a bit of traffic and mobs of people everywhere.  It didn't look good for us.



But then I found an amazing parking space on the way out, right on the edge of the Potomac River, near a grove of cherry trees, easy walking distance to the Tidal Basin.  It was meant to be!



At first it seemed we'd never get there, as Joseph was more interested in going near the water, picking every dandelion in sight, and making it "snow" by gently shaking the low hanging branches of the cherry trees.



Even walking through the Roosevelt Memorial he was so taken by the water features and rock structures that I wasn't sure we'd ever leave.



Of course, we did finally make it down to the path around the Tidal Basin with the most breathtaking 360 degree views of the monuments and trees.




So lovely just to sit on a bench and take it all in with my son!  I only wish Brent could have been with us (and that a birthday cake for him would magically appear without my being home to make it.....).



We even managed to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial as we were heading back to the car.  Especially glad we got to see it before they "fix" the quote on the side of it.


Back at home I still adore our own solitary little cherry blossom tree.  I think it was the only thing I asked for when we landscaped our backyard a few years back.  It's thin but tall and has branches that so gracefully reach out from behind the swing set to provide a stunning backdrop for....well, whatever the heck it is that Joseph is up to.




Friday, March 23, 2012

Quick Peak

It is, yet again, one of the most glorious times in the DC area that we look forward to each and every year, the peak bloom of our beloved cherry trees around the Tidal Basin.  This year is especially notable because it marks the 100th anniversary of this gift we received from Japan.  

On Tuesday we had a playdate with Julia and Sara and opted to stay closer to home and explore the beautiful blooms in the Kenwood area of Bethesda, MD.  It's a neighborhood we 1st checked out last year.  It's absolutely lovely and convenient for a quick peek at the cherry blossoms, and it sufficed for last year, but I still had my heart set on getting downtown this year.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Party on the Rooftop

Our friends Meredith and Matt had us over for dinner on Sunday to celebrate both our birthdays.  Mine was 2 weeks ago and Brent's is in just 2 days.  Matt has it made with a downtown DC apartment with a killer rooftop deck.




We were treated to homemade Chicago-style pepperoni pizza and a double dessert of chocolate cake and chocolate mint Oreo ice cream.  Fantastic!  Thanks, Meredith & Matt!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If Life Hands You Strawberries...

....savor some right away....



....and save the rest to make strawberry gelato.



It's that good!

I could not pass up an amazing deal on 2 pounds of the most gorgeous looking strawberries at Whole Foods for under $6.  I knew we wouldn't be able to eat them all that fast, so we would just have to make gelato.  The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto is absolutely awesome, and I already know what I'm going to do next time life hands me lemons.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Return of the Land Shark

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Alejandro for asking the kids to wear their favorite costumes to your birthday party!  I have no idea why this is customary in Spain, but I, for one, am thrilled that The Shark Costume gets another chance to see the light of day.




I have no idea why JT is so into sharks or how he even can see in that thing, but he loves it ever so much, and that makes me the happiest Daddy in the world.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monster Jam

We are preparing to play with Monster Trucks.  This is our new obsession.  Apparently there are rules.  Many, many rules.  I must listen to them all before I am allowed to play.



I am just about ready to walk away as Joseph continues on with "...now the EIGHTH rule is..." when I suddenly realize he has somehow learned the concept of ordinal numbers.  Yes, I am a geek for knowing this, but yet - first, second, all the way through eye-rolling EIGHTH, he has it down.  Thank you very much, Westmoreland Children's Center - preschool ROCKS!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

45. It's the new 44.

I generally seem to be a bit late mentioning my own birthday on our family blog.  Not intentional!  Age has just never mattered that much to me so I don't make a big deal out of birthdays.  But everyone is always so sweet to me, so it's hard not to feel special!  Since I had to work, my staff got me a cake and balloons during lunch.  


After work Brent took me to Rosa Mexicano for an awesome dinner AND got my favorite lemon buttercream cake from Heidelberg Bakery in Arlington.


As if that wasn't enough, my birthday celebration got extended for a few more days when Missy had us over for lunch on Saturday and baked some delicious lemon coconut cupcakes.  Those kids tried to steal my thunder, but I still made a wish on that last candle anyway.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dylan's Cup


We went to a bar mitzvah last weekend that had an overwhelmingly obvious hockey theme, including a green screen photo set up complete with props.  Seriously good fun!  I think I need to wear vertical stripes more often.  Joe Joe would probably prefer to wear a coat and tie less often, even though he looks so darn cute.  Mostly.




Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Rainbow Connection Quilt

The quilt I started making with Joseph's preschool class last month is all done and auctioned off!  This was the design for the rainbow themed scrap quilt:


Each of the kids got to sew together 1 row made up of 8 fabric pieces, then I took them home and added the white sashing strips to put it all together into a quilt top.  Looks pretty much like I had planned.


Before submitting it to the auction committee I brought the quilt back to the class to show the kids the finished product.  They were so excited and all wanted to have it for themselves!


The fabric I wanted to use for the back was just a little too short.  The solution?  I had cut so many fabric scraps with no particular plan in mind and had a bunch left over, so I turned some of them into rainbow stripes and inserted them into the back.  I also snuck in one little piece of leopard print since their class is named The Leopards.



I also threw a few more scraps into the binding strips.  Too much?



For the quilting I did double lines in all the white areas.  I then outlined each row with corresponding thread color, thinking it would blend on the front and pop on the grey in the back.  The front looked great but unfortunately it's just a little too subtle on the back and you have to be all up in its face to even notice.  Oh well, it was a nice idea.


Now, I had actually planned on hating this quilt.  I'm not really a rainbows and unicorns kind of guy.  Plus, I really let the kids do whatever they wanted - no telling them which fabrics to pick or what order to put them in.   Odd that I would even bother to make something that I didn't like, but I was doing it more for the process (of working with the kids and teaching them something I love) than anything else.  But you know what?  I L.O.V.E. this quilt so much that I was almost sad to see it go.  I love that so many random pieces of fabric (some that I've had for up to 15 years!) finally got used and look so great together.  I love the bright colors, the pattern, the contrast of the light and dark between the front and the back.



I think the red block is my favorite.  No, I know it is!  I've long wanted to make an entirely red quilt and have been slowly accumulating a variety of fabrics specifically for that purpose.  Maybe I should start planning that out soon....but I do have several other projects that need to come first.

I gave the auction committee an estimated value of $50.  I mean, it was made for a grand total of maybe $5 for some batting.  It sold for $70.  I had hoped it would have gone for more, but that's still pretty good.  And it went to a good home.  Right across the street from me - literally.  So I can visit it any time I want.