Friday, April 30, 2010

Sinful Concoction

A week or two ago Scot and I were discussing ice cream for some reason and he told me that the best coffee ice cream he'd ever tried had been one he sampled when we were visiting friends of ours in Philadelphia.  (Thus, it was Philly style ice cream - ie:  no eggs.)  We've bought all kinds of varieties of coffee ice cream over the years from Bryers and Ben & Jerry's to Starbucks and Häagen Dazs.  Never have we been able to duplicate the sheer bliss that was this particular ice cream.

Scot was waxing rhapsodic about this stuff so I pulled out my ice cream cookbook, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.  The great thing about this book is that it has many recipes in both regular and Philly style.  So I flipped to "Coffee" and found a Philly style recipe.  I told Scot I would make it for him and make I did, just today. 

[insert pornographic sounds of rapture here]

That stuff is amazing.  So, of course I have to share the recipe.  It's fantastically easy, with just three ingredients.

Coffee Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style
by:  Bruce Weinstein

3.5 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole coffee beans

Heat the cream in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edge.  Do not let the cream boil.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar.  Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.  Stir in the coffee beans.  Cover and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

Strain out the coffee beans.  Freeze in 1 to 2 batches in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.  When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat.  For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least two hours.

(makes about 1 qt)


Coffee Cordial Ice Cream:  Add 1/4 cup coffee liqueur to the cream along with the sugar.  Proceed with recipe as directed

Mexican Coffee Ice Cream:  Add 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon along with the coffee beans.  Proceed with recipe as directed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tomorrow Is My Birthday and I Already Got an Awesome Present.

Liam gifted me with this tonight, made especially for me by him:

Allow me to interpret.  From the left we have Scot with a red lightsaber, Liam with a blue lightsaber, Jamie with a green lightsaber, and Maggie the Wonder Beagle.

He had a little help from Dad with the spelling but otherwise it was all him.  My kid is awesome.

Wordless Wednesday: Fearless Fosdick

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gargoyles and Dragons and Awesome, Oh My!

Yesterday morning we took the kids to Phipps Conservatory - always a popular destination in our house.  We missed the spring flower show but as we walked in the door to the Conservatory we were greeted with this:

(is it just me or is that Gargoyle well endowed?)

They're setting up for an exhibit featuring gargoyles and dragons and it is going to be very, very cool.  I am so excited to see it completed.  They hadn't finished setting up everything so we'll be going back in the near future so we can see the whole thing.

But, even without all of it being set up, they had a TON of cool statuary and topiary and what not in the various room of the Conservatory.  Check it out!

A topiary Sea Dragon! (and it spits water, too!)

This dragon (and two more like it) is made of wood and tree parts.  Incredibly cool in person.

Also, the agave plant is blooming.  It only blooms once every 50 years or so and the flower stalk can grow up to a foot a day.  It's already gone through the roof of the Conservatory and hasn't yet produced the flower.  It's really cool - look closely at the pictures for the stalk going right through the glass roof.

I also got a few cool pictures I wanted to share.  The first two are of a wreath made out of succulent plants that was hanging on the door of the room the agave plant was in.  The close up is one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken there.

This one is a random succulent that was also in the agave room.  I just loved how it looked in the sunlight and how it looked like flower petals but wasn't.

Last, I wanted to share two pictures of the family.  The first one is of Scot and Liam being gargoyles in front of the cathedral tower.  The second is my new favorite picture of Jamie.

I swear, the Conservatory gets cooler and cooler every time we go.  If you have a chance to see this exhibit, do it because it is not to be missed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Soccer Kid

In the last week Liam has suddenly discovered a passion for soccer. We've had a soccer ball for at least a year and we tried to interest him in signing up for soccer with the community league back in the fall but he was adamant that he didn't want to do it. Then, the other day, he and I kicked the ball around in the driveway and suddenly it was the greatest thing ever.

He even said "Mommy, can you sign me up for soccer?" Whoa.

I discovered that there is no league for the summer and we missed out on the spring sign up so he'll have to wait until the fall. But, Scot went to We Be Toys and looked for a simple goal set that the could play with in the yard. He found a cheap set and picked it up. He brought it home on his lunch hour so that Liam could play with in the yard that day.

Liam was thrilled.

So, here's our little soccer nut doing his thing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Wonder If I Could Have Paid Them In The Form of the Beagle

Perhaps you've noticed that the name of this blog is "Two Kids and a Beagle." You might have also noticed that I haven't posted about the beagle much lately.

Here's where that all changes.

Magnolia Dumplin' aka Maggie the Wonder Beags is in deep doo doo with me to the tune of $360. See, Maggie has this joyous little habit of peeing in the house. She started doing it when we moved in to this house 3 years ago (three years!? What?!) and we've tried a number of things to make her quit. About the only thing that has made a dent is putting her on anti-depressants. While she still isn't perfect, at least I'm not cleaning up 3 pee spots a day.

However, she still has two rooms in the house that she considers her personal pissing ground - the library and, of all places, Liam's bedroom. I have a spot steam cleaner and I use that to clean up after her. We've tried sprays to deodorize and keep her from going in the same place. I've had the carpets in the whole house cleaned by a less than reputable company because I was trying to save cash. I've used baking soda to kill the odor. Despite it all, the pee smell lingered. Liam's room got to a point where I smelled it every time I walked in. On damp days, if I walked in the front door, I could smell it coming from the library.

It made me absolutely mental.

I finally couldn't take it anymore and I called in Stanley Steemer. I knew they would be more expensive but I figured they would be more thorough and have better products for cleaning and deodorizing the carpets. So, I scheduled them to clean the library, Liam's room, and the family room since that room was just gross from baby urp. The thing I didn't count on was just how much more expensive they would be.

See, the problem is that most of the rooms in my house are what they consider to be "oversize" - more than 250 square feet. This applied to both the library and the family room. That meant an extra charge. Plus labor. Plus tax. Plus the extra deodorizing spray. So yeah. The $217 quote turned into $360 when all was said and done.

Now, don't get me wrong - I have no bad things to say about Stanley Steemer. They came in with two guys, did all three rooms in about an hour flat, and still managed to clean under most of the furniture. They were professional and awesome and the carpets look great now. But my wallet is substantially thinner as a result. If only I could have paid them in body fat - then I would be substantially thinner.

Which leads us right back to Magnolia Dumplin'. If she so much as sniffs around looking for a place to squat, I'm going to have her hide for a pair of slippers.

*angry eyes*

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Great Retaining Wall Project of 2010

This is the retaining wall at the end of our driveway. You can see the corner of the house at the right of the picture. That's where our garages are. So, the wall is holding the hill back from spilling into the driveway and making our garages unusable for their intended purpose.

This wall is not small. The long part of the 'L' is around 26 feet long; the short part is about 20 ft. Also, there is a small portion of wall on the other side of the stairway - right up against the house. As you can see, the wall is made of railroad ties - which look completely untreated to me. Now, I ask myself: Who in their right mind builds a retaining wall with untreated lumber? I answer myself: A cheap bastard who doesn't care about wood destroying insects, that's who.

We have lived here 3 years now. When we moved in the wall was not in the state it is in now. If you notice in the picture above, the wall is beginning to lean precariously in the WRONG direction.

In addition, soil shifting and insects are causing things like this to happen:

and this:
and this:

We knew last summer that our big project for the house this summer would probably be rebuilding this wall and doing so in stone so that it wouldn't get into this state again. It wasn't exactly my idea of a fabulous way to spend several thousand dollars because, you know, Hawaii would be far more relaxing, but it was either rebuild or risk having it fall over of its own accord.

Then Snowmageddon hit. That? Not helpful. Before all was said and done, I was shoving snow up against the wall and packing it down in an effort to help prop the wall up from all the weight of the snow on top of it. I was half afraid that that damn thing wasn't going to last the winter.

Luckily enough it did and here we are. We can't wait any longer so I started getting estimates on having it replaced with the Versa-lok wall system. Just the estimates make me want to hyperventilate while rocking in a corner and working myself into a heart attack. It looks like it's going to end up costing us about $6,500 to replace the wall.

Ok, I know I had a paper bag to breathe into somewhere close by...

Ah, there it is. Excuse me a moment...

[inhale] [exhale]

Ok, better now. Whew.

In the end, we're going to have to bite the bullet and just spend the money. The wall can't wait another year and it will only be more expensive the longer we wait. So, if you read a craigslist ad from a woman seeking to sell her kidney, you'll know why.

B-U-S-T-E-D, You Are Busted!

The other day, I opened one of the cabinets in the kitchen and found this:

Guess who was responsible? I'll give you three guesses but it should only take one.

Apparently, Jamie objected to keeping the baby food in the pantry closet. According to him it belongs with the blender and the Kitchen Aid. Now that he's not actually eating the stuff, the few jars I have hanging around have become toys to him. He spent a great deal of time getting them arranged to his satisfaction in the cabinet.

I suppose it's better than taking apart my back door - which was his brother's preoccupation at this age.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roundup Time!

1. I have been remiss in updating about the diet. Oh, that pesky diet. Well, the week after I regained 2 pounds, I neither gained nor lost. That was frustrating in the extreme. But, I suspect it was the result of certain womanly cycles because this past week I lost 1.5 lbs. So, yay me! With the weather warming up I've gotten out to walk a few times - not as much as I need or want to but it's better than nothing. Also, I am eating a lot more salads for lunch since it's not cold and I'm not craving an entire pot of macaroni and cheese. ("Thy Mac and Thy Cheese, they comfort me." Hibernation, Chapter 2, Verse 3.)

I've also recently discovered an obsession with pickles, of all things. Did you know they're only 5 calories a spear? Holy hell - crunchy and salty and zingy all at once plus a snack that is almost good for me! Bring on the pickles.

So, if I can keep myself on track, I'm hoping to crack off another pound or so this week. Keep on chugging, Cari.

2. My son informed me the other day that he had a dream about me. This didn't seem so unusual given that he sees me every day. Then he told me that in the dream I was dressed as Slave Leia from Return of the Jedi. I'm fairly certain that no 5 year old boy is going to see that costume in the same way that every other adult sees that costume so I think I'm safe from the whole Oedipal thing for now. Plus, it's kind of a compliment that he thinks I could wear such a get up.

Although the thought of me actually donning it and what I would look like wearing it makes me want to go screaming into the night. That is NOT a good mental picture.

3. A week or so ago, I took Liam to see "How To Train Your Dragon." He had seen a preview of it when we went to see another movie and he had been talking about wanting to go so I got a sitter for Jamie and he and I went as a date. I wasn't expecting much figuring that it was just another kids movie that I would find vaguely amusing and think was just OK. I was wrong.

If you have not yet seen this movie, stop reading this and go look up the nearest theatre and soonest showtime. Then get your ass there and see it. It was FABULOUS. I actually sat on the edge of my seat during the climax of the film with my hands clasped hoping it would all turn out OK. (and of course it does - it's a KID movie!) I still can't decide if I like it better than I liked "Up" and that's saying something because I loved "Up." It was just wonderful. Seriously, go see it.

Also, Liam and I had great fun on our date. :)

4. Jamie is cutting two more teeth. He is making life burdensome on the rest of us. I'm pretty sure that even though he can't talk his thought process goes something like this: "Bitch! Fulfill my needs! NOT FAST ENOUGH, BITCH!"

Yeah. I need a sea of margaritas.

But, it seems as though one might actually be breaking through. *fingers crossed* We'll see what tomorrow brings.

5. I have one more post to write: The Great Retaining Wall Project of 2010. I promise it's coming soon!

This Is What Two Feet of Snow in 24 Hours Will Do To You

Back in February I posted about the storm damage to our house from Snowmageddon. We finally got a chance to get an insurance adjuster out to the house to look at our damage and tell us how much they'd pay to fix it. Keep in mind that we, like almost every other homeowner, have a $1000 deductible on our policy.

I showed the nice hunky inspector the damage to the flooring in the front hall. He took pictures. He took measurements so that he could estimate replacing the ENTIRE floor - powder room, entrance, and hallway - even though we only have about 2 square feet of real damage.

I then showed him the two water damaged ceiling tiles in the game room from the water seeping in along the floor joist. Again, he took measurements so that the entire drop ceiling could be replaced. By this point I'm thinking that we've left that $1000 deductible in the dust.

Then I took him outside to show him the damage to the mortar on the brick holding up the front porch. Story time! Remember the Icicles of Doom? Well, because they spent so much time dripping on the porch - on top of the mountains of snow already there - we ended up with about 6 inches of solid ice on the porch. That ice made the front stairs and porch a serious hazard and nearly impassable. We had to dump about 150 pounds of salt on the damn porch and stairs to melt it down and make it safe. Did I mention that once we melted off the ice, we had a lot less problem with the damage to the floor in the front hall? So, that ice was a double pain in the butt.

Unfortunately the salt did a number on the mortar. It's crumbling away to sand.

I showed the inspector thinking that we'd be able to get something for this little issue since it was a direct result of the storm problem. Yeah, that was wishful thinking. He was apologetic about it but apparently homeowners insurance doesn't cover mortar, foundation, cracking, spalling, etc, etc. Or, at least ours doesn't cover it. I have no idea what it will cost to fix this little gem of an issue but I have to get it dealt with.

And then next winter, I am avoiding the cheap ass rock salt like it's one of the 10 plagues of Egypt. Calcium Chloride all the way!

Hunky Inspector Dude then grabbed a ladder and hopped up on the roof to make sure we didn't have damage up there (we don't, thank goodness) and then went to write up his estimate. In the end, after they subtracted that $1000 deductible, we got a little over half of what they estimated the total cost would be. Damn sight better than a sharp stick in the eye.

So, the next task is to find someone to deal with the mortar problems as they're more pressing than anything else. We can deal with the other stuff later.

I hated being a renter but when it comes to stuff like this, it would be so nice if it didn't always have to come out of my pocket. This is the part of owning a home that sucks. Just wait until I regale you with tales of The Great Retaining Wall Project of 2010.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Please Stand By

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately but I have two or three blog posts chasing themselves around in my head. I have been pretty fried lately after the kids are in bed and trying to string my thoughts into coherent posts has been...well...problematic.

I promise to put some real time and effort into it within the next few days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Adventures

Easter is really supposed to be about The Zombie Jesus but in our house, lapsed churchgoers that we are, Easter is about the Easter Bunny, easter eggs, candy, and easter baskets. Liam wasn't quite as excited about the Easter Bunny as he gets about Santa but he was still obnoxious about it. (Who thought it was a good idea to have another imaginary being show up overnight a mere 4 months after Santa comes? Complete pain in the ass. Amirite?)

Easter morning arrived and Liam was up before the sun. He climbed into bed with us and spent his time poking and prodding and kicking and driving us completely. insane. in a bid to get us out of bed and downstairs. After an eternity of frustration we admitted defeat and took the kids downstairs.

They were greeted with this:

Liam's response? "Boy, we didn't get much."


The morning was not starting out in an auspicious fashion. We proceeded to have a discussion with him about how the Easter Bunny was not Santa and about the concept of gratitude. Unfortunately he had already found my very last nerve and started a softshoe all over it.

We spent the morning lazing around the house while the kids played with their Easter loot. I made the tactical error of leaving the baskets full of candy within reach of Jamie. Candy that had peanut butter in it. Peanut butter that he should not be eating yet because of Scot's history of nut allergies. I found him with an entire mini Reese's peanut butter cup in his mouth - wrapper and all - gnawing and slobbering on it and in general doing his darndest to reduce it to a form he could eat. I managed to extricate it from his mouth and he didn't seem to be having any trouble so I didn't worry about it.

Ten minutes later it happened again.


At that point we removed all candy from within his reach.

Later in the day I managed to get the kids in their Easter outfits and in an aliens-have-snatched-my-kid-and-replaced-him-with-a-helpful-doppleganger type of moment, Liam actually let us snap some decent pictures. I think this is the first decent picture of have of my kids together. That only took 13 months.

We spent the rest of the day at Grandma and Granddad's where Liam got to go on an Easter egg hunt around the house and yard and they got to play with more Easter loot. We had a lovely dinner in which I ate waaaaaay too much then came home and threw the kids in bed. I fell into bed at 8:30. I really know how to live it up.

Happy Easter to one and all from The Dude!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What Does Your Car Say About You?

(click to enlarge)

If you didn't click on this photo, the decal on the truck reads "Redneck Foreplay: Get in the truck, Bitch!"

It's a good thing I was belted into my car because, oooh baby, I wanted to jump right into that truck and do naughty, naughty things with the driver. Never in my life have I heard a come on that worked so instantaneously. *eyeroll*

(click to enlarge)

This one actually made me giggle. I saw it on the Parkway East last weekend. It's not the best picture, but the bumper sticker reads "Really officer, I wasn't speeding, THE PEDAL WAS STUCK!" Well, that's one way to make the best of driving Toyota!