19 December 2011

Gil's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

In the absence of a real tree decorate your dashboard...
... and window dressings

Quite possibly the most tragic Christmas Tree in the world: 

Although, decorating it was somewhat like I imagine bedazzling to be. The candle was a gift from Brad's work Christmas dinner and smells like a Christmas tree, handy when your tree is foam and card and rhinestones.

18 December 2011

When in Washington...

In Washington (the DC variety) we checked out all the attractions one is supposed to check out when visiting "the nation's capitol".  

The reflecting pools didn't impress me all that much, this is why

I'm not exactly a space fan, but Brad is and we spent some time out the National Air and Space Museum (this may have been payback for those art galleries in New York). though it is growing on me, however after seeing the various actual space craft housed at the museum, I'm perplexed that anyone ever felt they were safe to travel in. Oh, and the Lunar Exploration Module looks almost exactly like a primary school cardboard box project. 

The good thing about this, is that if we ever have kids, and they build a space craft, so long as there is some gold cellophane or paper, and black cardboard involved, we won't have to lie to them when telling them how realistic it looks .  

Thanksgiving happened to fall whilst we were in Washington and in a moment of enthusiasm/insanity, I decided to honour the occasion, and roast turkey in Gil's lasagne dish sized gas oven, which I have since discovered also has an extremely hard time maintaining a constant temperature, (I also contemplated making cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries but Brad stepped in before the concept got much past contemplation). This roasting idea will be all the more amusing to anyone who knows about my previous attempts to cook a Sunday roast.  In case you missed this episode of my life, I couldn't cook a roast to save myself despite asking for advice from nearly every person I know, and failed on all attempts until giving up.  
Ingredients.  Did you really think I'd try cooking a whole turkey?  And before you ask about the cauliflower, if all else failed I've never screwed up cauliflower with cheese sauce.
Turkey under it's "foil tent" that the packet suggested covering it with, apparently the magic red button will pop up when it's done.  And yes the smallest piece I could find was dinner plate sized, far more than enough for two.
*Bing, done*  

I am pleased to report that there is still hope for Gil and I as a roast cooking duo and despite a few small timing issues, Thanksgiving dinner was a success.

17 December 2011

Seven things to make a city a success

(also known as Assorted Bits of Our Visit to New York)

1. A place to park your house within walking distance to public transport taking you to all the places you want to go in under 30 minutes is a must.  Surprisingly, there is actually a campground in New York, well actually a "car park" with power and water connections in Jersey City but who's being picky?

2. If you plan on doing anywhere near as much walking as we did, a good pair of shoes is almost as essential as a good spot to sleep.  Although a pair of flats may look a darn sight better than the other two pairs of shoes you own, they will not cut it.  Trust me, I know (Brad probably doesn't, but would seeing him in a pair of ballet flats be good for anyone?).  After our first day, I was feeling ever pebble, and may as well have been a barefoot cripple – oddly, it didn't occur to me to buy another pair of shoes.

3. Check out the tourist attractions, even if they seem a little cheesy you might be surprised and actually like them.  

In New York, one of these is a trip to the top of the Rockefeller Center (thanks for the recommendation Carrie), and as we visited in late afternoon, got the privilege of seeing the city go from daylight to dusk.  As this wasn't planned I didn't have my tripod, and set my camera up on top of a pillar to accommodate the reduced light.  A short time later, another person joined me on my pillar to do exactly the same thing.  I've got nothing against a spot of pillar sharing, but things started to get a little weird not long after.  On multiple occasions it seemed he was spending more time looking at my camera screen than his own, and his arm kept snuggling up next to mine as he tried to get exactly the same angle and framing as I was ... to the point where I had to get a small, gentle elbow out to eliminate the potential untimely demise of my camera.  When I swapped to delayed shutter release, his shutter release cable came out two seconds later, when I had enough photos and left, he came too, then realised we were getting in the elevator.  I probably should be flattered, but why does a person with a way better camera kit than mine need to copy my photos?
4. Ice hockey is awesome (and possibly addictive), dress warmly.  If attending a sporting event, abandon any intentions of barracking for the visiting team. You'll be in the extreme minority and it probably won't go down well with the locals.

5. Drag your husband around every room of every significant art gallery, he might get a bit bored, but rest assured when he's had enough he'll head outside to find a snack.  He may also surprise himself and like some of it too.

6. If a city is known for it's theatre scene, you should try and take in a performance. Because we don't plan anything more than five minutes in advance we hadn't pre-booked tickets.  Rumour has it that cheap tickets can be purchased on the day but as we found out, this is not always true for the most popular shows.  Brad was keen to see The Book of Mormon - The Musical but I wasn't so sure as it's written by the Southpark guys and most of the time their humour is a bit much for me. Given past experience with Brad and musicals, I knew going to see something in which he was interested was best for the happiness of all.  It's also won a bunch of Tony awards, so it can't be bad right?  On Monday, we found out it didn't show on Mondays.  On Tuesday we found out the cheapest available ticket was nearly $500 (ahem, the budget for being retired for a year doesn't stretch quite that far).  On Wednesday, we found out a lottery for the front row and a few seats in the boxes is held 2 hours before the show, we participated but didn't win.  On Thursday, we had dinner planned with friends, but were passing the theatre at lottery time, so thought we'd try again and to our complete surprise Brad's name got drawn.  Total cost for two front row centre seats:  $48, and the show was thoroughly enjoyable, although at times I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe.  

7. As much as we love each other's company (that's why we're married right?) sometimes the company of friends is nice and so we were delighted that a few were in town at the same time as us.  Checking out the night life is also significantly more entertaining with others however may lead to:
  • Frequenting bars entered via a pawn shop at the front, a well dressed lady kicking and screaming as she was literally carried out by bouncers, and a bar serving free champagne in the very opulent ladies bathroom. Conveniently they also had a comfy lounge in said bathroom for chatting whilst enjoying said champagne.  
  • Whiskey shots (don't typo that with the nearest vowel on the keyboard) followed by pickle juice may sound oh so wrong, but are oh so right. 
  • Bourbon from teacups, beer from coffee mugs and boys drinking pina coladas from pineapples.
  • A girl (and therefore the entire rest of the subway carriage) detailing to us her pick up routine – apparently you need to fake a trip.
  • And this grin from Brad when the beer he had ordered arrived in a full size champagne bottle and was served in a wine glass.
A special thank you to Carrie, the owner
of this photo, for letting us borrow it.

We also completed our international bagel-off in New York and the winner is New York's H&H Bagels for their perfectly flavoured dense and yeasty creations. The winning bagels were made all the yeastier (sweeter just doesn't work in our bagel book) by the epic adventure that was getting there. After walking the length of the High Line Trail then wandering Central Park with Carrie, finding the nearest location had closed (only after we got there) and multiple accidental (and lengthy) detours, the three of us arrived at the bakery which would shortly thereafter be pronounced the winner. Okay, in writing that doesn't sound quite so epic, but trust my tired feet, it was. One might argue the circumstances leading up to trying our first H&H bagel may have given an unfair advantage, BUT we took a some home for further testing and breakfast for the next few days did not disappoint.
In case you are wondering, H&H happens to be the bagel shop Seinfeld's Kramer was on strike from for 10 years. We also visited the soup man, he wasn't on duty, but the soup was great – take out came with bread, a spoon and napkins (all useful and generally expected) a Lindt ball (unexpected, but yum) and a banana (um, okay then).

True to previous form, this has been written well after the fact, I've given up on my good intentions. From here on in, all intentions shall be bad, very bad.