A Smattering of Rarebits

And just like that winter is behind us. Wheeeeeee! I remind myself that I DID live in California and I DID miss distinctive seasons whilst there. And yet I reserve the right to feel downright giddy now that dreadful miserable winter is over and warmer weather is upon us.

I’ve been listening to some book themed podcasts lately. Mostly this one, and this one. The first one, Books on the Nightstand, is unabashedly, wholeheartedly, ridiculously nerdy. If you picture this SNL skit you will have a fair idea of what I’m speaking. The second one, the Slate Audio Book Club, feels less embarrassing and a touch more literary. I binge listened to maybe 10 of them since I've read many of the books they've discussed. De-Lightful.

Under the influence of said podcasts I’ve also been persuaded to give audiobooks a go. I QUITE enjoyed listening to One More Thing by BJ Novak, aka Ryan of The Office fame, and now I’m working on Going Clear, because really I’m always looking for new things to feel depressed about and a book about a somewhat humorous but also quite ruthless cult seemed like just the thing!

Kerry celebrated a birthday recently. In honor of the occasion I baked her some magical shrinking cupcakes!! Full sized when out of the oven, but and this is important, miniature later in the day when it came time to serving them. Which leads me to ask…Who are these people with the thoroughness to succeed at baking?  I did HOWEVER buy this  book after listening to a particularly lively episode of the Splendid Table and now I feel like a little less muggle-like indeed! Behold my second loaf of bread. Hip Hip!

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The Basement Renovation

Mike and I are both (unfortunately) the same breed of indecisive, shall I say, commitment phobic people. We've both been known to agonize about purchases and other minor decisions for far longer than appropriate.... which is why I'm so excited that after only, maybe 6 months of contractor visits and intense deliberation, we're having the basement renovated!! 

When we moved to Highclere I'd say our basement was a halfway finished space. The ceiling was open so you could see all the joists/wires/pipes but it had all been painted white so it didn't look terrible. There was a pretty workable layout with drywall in place, but there were a bunch of strange openings/holes in the walls. We're talking closets without doors, weirdly open little storage nooks, and my favorite the "built in bookcases" (HAHA) which were really just two janky bookcases stuffed in a hole in the wall. The ceilings were pretty low and there was a somewhat severe slope in the floor. Our home inspector estimated it to be about a 6 inch differential from one end of the room to the other.Eek! On the flip side, arguably the nicest bathroom in the house is inexplicably in the basement. (??) So basically the space was a real mixed bag but we were very excited about the renovation potential.

So here we are now a few weeks into renovation. The basement isn't finished yet BUT lots of great progress has been made and I've included some subpar iphone photos below as proof! The room still needs to be painted (as evidenced by my now standard 15 paint samples) and we're hoping to put barn doors at the back of the room but I'm delighted by everything that's been done so far.

 For my next trick I'll be trying to talk Mike into a large luxurious but still classy sectional sofa...

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Ireland Trip Planning

Things I'm looking forward to right now: 1) spring time 2) summer time AND 3) the upcoming Petersen family trip to Ireland!!  Both Kerry and I have been to Ireland on separate trips in the past but this will be Mother Courtney's first time there and I'm so excited for her to see what Kerry and I have been raving about for so long. Also my one previous trip to Ireland was in early February so I cannot even imagine the splendor that will be Ireland in May.

Generally (read always) when I go on trips I do a very minimal amount of planning before the trip and just play it by ear when I get to the destination. I'll have a rough idea or timeline but won't book places to stay or make any specific activity arrangements. I bring my tour books and sense of adventure and just do the best I can when I arrive. On the whole this system has worked out pretty well for me in the past. It's nice to be flexible so you can move along quickly if a town isn't the best, or linger when a place really catches your fancy. But, there have also been many moments when I think a little advanced planning would have gone a long way in making a trip more successful. For example this past fall when I was in London and tickets to the Harry Potter experience were sold out. What a botch. I cannot even. I probably could have bought the tickets a week before my visit and they would have been available but I couldn't be bothered to think that far in advance.

This is all to say that for this trip I am turning over a new leaf and doing the bulk of the planning before we go. So far we have planned all of the cities and towns where we'll stay, and have even made hotel/B&B reservations for the bulk of them (2 months out - can I get a high five). On top of that we've already planned some activities and know which bars have trad sessions (traditional Irish music) which nights and made a game plan for packing in the most trad sessions we possibly can. If things get truly crazy I might even try to pick some restaurants in advance. Only time shall tell my friends. 

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The Weekend (Cabin Edition)


While I'm not an expert camper (yet!) I did have a great time camping with some friends last summer and was eager to sign up for another weekend out of the city. One of our actual expert camper friends had talked up the joys of camping in March and so Mike and I agreed to an early March camping trip. I was a little skeptical since cold weather isn't really my thing but I thought braving the cold would be worth it to avoid the summer camping crowds (please refer back to accidentally camping in the middle of an AA reunion).The initial plan was tent camping, but since we had snow last week and it was still pretty frigid leading up to the weekend we decided to go for a cabin instead. We found a place west of Frederick that offered tree-house camping and thought that would be perfect.

As you can probably see from the photo above the term tree-house is a bit of an exaggeration for what is happening here. I would say this cabin was about 6 feet off the ground.... and not in a tree. Even still it was a pretty campground and the cabin we stayed in slept 6 people and had a sweet wood burning stove. We had a little trouble figuring out the stove situation the first night (read we spent hours sitting in a freezing smoke filled room) BUT once we got it working properly it was glorious and so cozy to be inside. The weekend itself involved a great hike with the dogs, and a quick trip to Harpers Ferry which is a little campy but worth seeing at least once.

I'm hoping we can plan one more camping/cabining trip this year since I so love taking little vacays with Zoe. Ahem and my friends.

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I Shan't Mention it Again

I recently explained to Mike that February is the worst month of the year. Obviously I have a long list of well thought out and compelling reasons why this is the case and I shared them all with Mike while we trudged to the metro one slushy morning. I waited for Mike to get in on the fun* (yeah February is the worst!, Eff February!!, Screw this month!) but was met instead with silence. And then: "Lindsey, you do know you tell me this every February don't you"? Guys I have given him this exact spiel not once or twice before, but actually every year of our relationship or so I'm told. That is to say, I have given this speech many (many) times. Poor guy. Winter's really not my thing but I don't wish to drive anyone to the point of insanity with my complaints. For this reason I am making a little note here to remind myself not to tell Mike or anyone else next year how much I dislike February and certainly not to make it into an annual monologue I share with anyone who happens to be within 5 feet of me on a cold day... even if February truly is the worst month . And really, it's hard to be mad at February right now when it keeps giving me beautiful snowy days. I listen to Bing Crosby croon Christmas Carols while I walk the dogs and admire our neighborhood with a layer of snow on top. Also, Zoe LOVES the snow and because I love Zoe I keep rooting for the snow for her sake. Also I think my chances of moving to Vermont are better the less I say about my distaste for February. So there's that too.

*Am I the only one that enjoys lambasting months as a sort of festive sport?

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30th Year Bucket List Follow Up!

I'm not sure where the time has gone but I'm more than halfway to my 31st birthday (!)* which means I'm a bit overdue on checking in my 30th year bucket list. This year has really been flying by which I'm suspicious could have something to do with taking a 1 month vacation in the fall and then frantically trying to catch up from said vacation for the next few months. This turns out to be ok though since I had cleverly based my bucket list around said 1 month vacation. Cheating I know but there we have it.

 Looking at this list gives me a little inspiration to plan some more small trips and to knock a few more things off the list. The only thing that is absolutely not going to happen this year is the Blue Lagoon since we weren't able to finagle the layover in Iceland that I had originally hoped to do. Otherwise it's time to get myself moving on some of these fun little short term goals.

1.     Visit Barton Springs and Austen to see this lady.
2.     Make Bagels
3.     Go to the Library of Congress
4.     Foster at least 1 dog
5.   OKTOBERFEST!!!!   (Yes and Yes)
6.     Take a photoshop class (3rd year's the charm?)
7.     Take Zoe on a hike in the Shenandoah
8.     CANADA (Maybe PE Island based on my new obsession with Anne of GG)
9.     Read Little Women  (Charming but no Anne of Green Gables)
10.   Complete the Nations Tri (1st place? or how about just not last place?) (Not last place so I'm going to call that a victory!)
11.   Oxfordshire (Hi Inspector Lewis!)
12.   Archery Lesson
13.   Make Ice Cream
14.   Go to an Estate Sale (or 10)
15.   Blue Lagoon
16.   Visit Richmond (how is it possible I've never been?)
17.   European Football match
18.   Go to a Dock Jumping competition
19.   Buy a Kilim rug
20.   Visit Colonial Williamsburg
21.   Paddleboard
22.   Fish and Chips in London with this lady(yes)
23.   Trip to Maine (yes)
24.   AMSTERDAM (yes)
25.   Learn how to ride a Road Bike
26.   Read Little House on the Prairie
27.   Daytrip to Shepherdstown WV
28.   Go Sailing (with this lady) (post to come!)
29.   Crumpton Auction (here)
30.   Plan another vacation with Zoe (Cabin?)

*am I crazy or is that a scarier number even than 30?)

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Things I'd Like to Remember About Right Now


A list in no particular order of things I'd like to remember about right now:

How great snow days are. Today being the third snow day of the year I am feeling particularly fond of snow. It's funny, isn't it, how when you're a kid it doesn't even occur to you that adults are also a fan of snow days. Zoe, as it turns out, likes snow the best of anyone. More evidence that she would also like to live in Vermont (hi Mike!)

How much enjoyment I get out of reading cookbooks. This is a little silly since I pretty rarely cook out of them. They are always floating around the house from room to room as Kerry is also a cookbook reading enthusiast.

How I find trips downtown for happy hours or dinners out both slightly exhilarating and slightly overwhelming. It's hard to imagine that I lived in Adams Morgan for 5 years and now I go weeks without going into the big city, as I've come to call it.

How funny Frasier is! I remember thinking the show was funny when I was a kid but I have been positively delighted by it now in my older years. It's campy and dippy and I simply love it.

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