Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

I semi-decided today that I’m not entirely a fan of Labor Day, simply because the pools close and someone set a rule that we can no longer wear white clothing and accessories. (Thankfully someone created “winter white” which is obviously appropriate.)  Otherwise, I can’t really complain about the holiday. Who doesn’t love a good three day weekend? And it leads directly into my favorite season – FALL!

Like last year, Dave and I went to his mom and sister’s house near New Hope, Pennsylvania for a nice relaxing weekend away from this town. We stopped on the way out to see a house in Northeast DC, and made pretty good time, arriving around 10:30 p.m. I was beat, so basically went straight to bed. It’s so quiet there that you can hear the crickets chirping through the window. Or maybe, it was the crazy cicadas humming. Regardless, it’s very soothing.

Saturday morning we went for a stroll and a jog along the Delaware River, one of Dave’s favorite things to do on trips home. Personally I love to see the different creatures along the way and look at the beautiful houses that line the banks.

My Aggies started the season that day at 1p.m. ET, so we sidled up at a local tavern and cheered them on. During half-time we made our way home with a stop at the grocery store to pick up various goodies to grill for dinner. After the hot wings, steamers, meatloaf sandwich, fries and beer … I requested all veggies! (Confession: we made it back to the house and turned on the second half of the game, but I may or may not have passed out for the rest of it. What?! You would too if you had eaten that much!)

Sunday we took a long walk through the neighborhood with Daisy, then we lounged a bit to prepare for the shopping. Everywhere you go in that area, you are bound to find a good country store, antiques boutique, Christmas-all-year-round market or even a witch craft shop! We made our way to the center called Peddler’s Village, which has my favorite little French store, a great cookware shop and a wine tasting room, among many other great vendors. At Christmastime it is packed and fully lighted like a winter wonderland! This was my first time in the “off-season” and it did not disappoint. If you know anything about my Francophilia and really the reason I started this blog, you’d understand why I wanted everything at the French shop, but decided it best to wait until we get settled somewhere. We bought some strawberry-rhubarb preserves at Grandpa Hick’s and a bottle of wine from the Chaddsford Winery tasting room before stopping for a pint and a bowl of soup from Hart’s Tavern.

Then a great surprise happened! Dave informed me of the outlet mall across the street. Naturally I wanted to just “see what shops they had” before insisting that we stop for the Nine West outlet. I am truly in need of a shoe makeover because I’ve been terrible about replacing the worn out pairs. Luckily they were still open and I left with a new pair of black work pumps and a fun pair of red patent leather peep toe heels.

Sunday night we had a delicious gourmet meal at the historic Stockton Inn, circa 1710. I cleaned my plate of pecan-crusted scallops and red pepper Israeli couscous. Please note that was after a house salad and warm bread with butter, but before the fruit cobbler with ice cream. The walls inside our dining room had beautiful rural murals painted, and we could all just imagine how the antique fireplace would roar in the cold winter months. After a bit of research, I discovered that the Mural Dining Rooms (an official and fitting name!) are the original living quarters for the families that managed the ferry to cross the Delaware throughout the 1700’s. #TheMoreYouKnow

Not wanting the weekend to end, we decided that we’d take Monday morning and early afternoon for a nice long drive to be followed by a lunch at one of Dave’s high school haunts, Dilly’s. Mother Nature had alternate plans for us. Her plans were more along the lines of torrential downpour, closed roads and detours that led us to an unpaved path. Luckily Dave got us all home safely – shortly after the tire pressure warning lit up his dashboard. We spent some time checking each tire and eventually filling them all with more air, which thankfully worked! At that point we weren’t going back out, so we had some homemade sandwiches, fruit and chips with an intermission of flooding in the basement. (Yay, home life!) It was enough excitement for one day, so we decided to get on the road.

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#laborday #drive #clouds #sunshine

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Instead of sitting in the monster traffic of I-95, we decided to make our way through Pennsylvania Dutch country, hitting up towns like Blue Ball, Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand. (No, I did not make those names up. See proof below.) Both routes would take about the same amount of time – five hours – but going this way enabled us to stop at the roadside stands for fresh produce and a fun shopping center called Kitchen Kettle Village.

It was everything I was hoping for and more! My dreams came true with fresh cheese, baked goods and creamy ice cream! We bought three different cheeses – habanero, horseradish and a hickory smoked cheddar – along with a loaf of white bread. And since no visit to Pennsylvania Dutch Country would be complete without a shoo-fly pie, I snagged one of those too. (Note: I had never tried it before, and can’t say that I will ever have it again.) Dave got a cinnamon-sugar pretzel and I was happy with a cookies and cream single scoop waffle cone.

What did you do for Labor Day? Hope you were able to enjoy the long weekend!

tuesday things: you can take the girl out of Texas…

But you can’t take Texas out of the girl!

This past weekend, I made an impromptu trip to Texas to surprise my friend Arielle at her wedding shower soiree. Since I can’t make it to the wedding, I watched fares religiously for this weekend with the hope that they would go low enough for me to make it. I booked a great flight that allowed me to maximize the full weekend without taking time off work.

Friday night Mom, Kathy, Resalin, Kelsey and little munchkin Silvia picked me up from DFW. It was a fabulous showing of the ladies and I was super excited to see each of them. Even though Mom and Kathy came for a visit in June, I hadn’t been to Texas since the holidays and had been feeling homesick for a couple months. Res, Kelsey and I had a bit of wine and cheese, courtesy of Jude, and spent some time chatting.

The next morning we met Kathy for brunch at Pete’s. You guys, I’m not saying this just because my parents own the place, but Pete’s Cafe is a Farmers Branch staple, and shame on you if you have not been! I spent the afternoon with Dad and Jennifer then made a stop by the Asby household to drop off a b-day gift for Betsy. Then it was time for the soiree…

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Mmmm #bacon! #getinmybelly

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^^ Silvia enjoying her bacon like a good girl! ^^

The look on Arielle’s face when she saw me was priceless! She screamed and cried a bit then spent the rest of the night telling everyone how I’d flown from DC to be there. TOTALLY WORTH IT! Also it was pretty much the coolest shower I’ve been to because it was one big backyard bbq with a keg instead of the awkward standing around in dresses making small talk while eating finger sandwiches before gathering to watch the guest of honor open presents, naturally cooning at each item. (Can you tell how I loathe your typical shower?) I spent time catching up with old friends and eventually had to make my way back to Dad’s.

Arielle and me :)

Arielle and me :)

MIS girls all grown up!

MIS girls all grown up!

We went to a late dinner at Cantina Laredo of table-side guac, ahi tuna tacos, enchiladas, and of course, margaritas! It was a great time and also delicious – especially once we got the apple dessert of sorts that was drenched in sizzling brandy butter. Yum.

The next day I ate at Pete’s again for breakfast, but this time while catching up with friends Emily and Madison. Phone dates, texts, Facebook posts will do to an extent, but nothing compares to a good face-to-face chat with friends over coffee, wine… or both! (Don’t judge. The coffee came at breakfast and it was after noon by the time we had wine.)

Soon it was time to return to DC, which always makes me sad. At least I knew that Dave would pick me up on the other side, more than enough reason to be happy!

I love Texas and it will certainly always be home. Here are just a few of my favorite things about the Great State**:

1. Pete’s Cafe. Duh. I ate there twice and even got lunch to go on the way to the airport – had to have the chicken fried steak sandwich once on my trip! Add jalapenos and it is perfection between buns.

^^ Pete’s chicken fried steak sandwich with a roadie rose on the way to DFW ^^

2. Getting picked up at the airport, usually by Mom. Even if I saw her just a few weeks before, she is always so excited to see me! (I’m obviously excited to see her too!) It’s definitely the perfect greeting, and even better when one or all of the other ladies join. (Notice I am mentioning nothing about getting dropped off at the airport. Leaving is no fun!)

3. Meals with Dad. Wine with Dad. It’s always fun to just relax and eat, relax and drink. Dad usually cooks, but even going out to eat is fun!

4. Sunsets. The Texas sunsets are this perfect blend of pink, orange, blue, purple, red… basically every color.

^^ the view from my window landing at DFW ^^

5. Backroads driving with country on the radio. I love driving the windy roads of Texas with country blaring on the radio, going down to my mom’s property in the Texas Hill Country, or driving to A&M, which leads me to my next point.

6. Texas A&M. Aggie football is just about the best sport in the world. I made some great friends and memories in Aggieland and really miss that place. Gig em!

7. My friends and family that live all over the state. The hardest part about leaving Texas is not being able to see them regularly. These short weekend trips are just not enough, but as you can tell from my “Of House and Home” series here, here and here, I won’t be moving back anytime soon. (Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted about the house, but it will come this week. Promise.)

**After writing this, I realized that my friend Olivia wrote a similar theme in her blog last month, Mother May I. Check it out!

 

What are your favorite things about Texas??

makin’ babies… and touchdowns!

If Steve Martin…

steve martin

and Billy Bob Thornton…

billy bob

had a child together, it would look like…

mike smith

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith!

The Cowboys played a great game yesterday, including Tony Romo. Kathy said that when he got hit in the head at the beginning of the game, it must have knocked some sense into him!  By no means will I stand up to agree with Jerry that we will be taking the Cowboys to the Superbowl with Romo, but I can at least see the light again. Of course, he had a little help from my (boy)friend, Miles Austin, who shined once again. In other good sports news, my Aggies BTHO Tech on Saturday night – we are always good for a surprise win! Maybe it has to do with the fact that the game wasn’t televised, because like the Jessica Simpson-era Tony Romo, the Aggies crack under pressure.

Can football season go to being year-round? What will my weekends consist of when the season is over??