Weekend in PA

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND for us was a mix of longstanding traditions and new experiences.  We began our favorite weekend of the year with our traditional Thursday morning drive north, complete with all 18 minutes of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant. Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving unless my kids suffer through this tradition!

After a fantastic mid-day dinner at my aunt and uncle's place in Lancaster PA, we swung by Curt's aunt and uncle's home for a visit before ending up at his parents' place, where we made ourselves right at home by making sure all of our stuff was strewn all over their house within minutes of our arrival.

Friday morning featured some shopping, but not the Black Friday kind of shopping. I avoid that at all costs. No, instead we visited a market run by some local Amish. While I was checking out, a nice young Amish man walked in with eight loaves of homemade bread still warm from their Amish oven. I added a loaf to my stack of goodies, and didn't protest much when my mother-in-law insisted she photograph me in front of the very horse and buggy responsible for the fresh bread delivery:


Later that day, we found ourselves at the fine establishment my father-in-law calls the "Hoot 'n' Holler."  While he schooled his son in the finer points of barroom pool, I made friends with the very patrons after whom the bar's delicious, handcrafted pumpkin ale was named.  Aaron and Patty were hosting some friends of theirs who'd traveled aaaaaall the way from Curacao, which is all

…to Central PA, which is not at all like this, which means they must have come to experience the Local Culture, which, to my pumpkin-ale-soaked brain, meant I was an AMBASSADOR! I needed to show these lovely people a Good Time! Besides, how many times do people from Curacao come stumblin' in to the Hoot 'n' Holler? (Answer: Not many.) So, we raised our glasses and sang happy birthday to the one who came all the way from the islands to celebrate turning 41, and I took lots of photos on my cell phone, none of which turned out.  But it was fun!

Saturday, I got to treat my mother and mother-in-law to lunch at The Kind Cafe in Selinsgrove, PA. What a cute place! If you're ever passing through the area, go there.  The coffee was good, the food tasty and the people were really, well, kind. Nice and kind.

Sunday morning, I made crepes for breakfast, then we gathered all of our stuff that was strewn about the house, stuffed all of it into our car, and departed. But there was one more tradition we needed to bookend our weekend: The annual cutting of the Christmas Tree at Pikes Peak Acres, owned by Curt's aunt and uncle.  And it was all

Tree pickin 

and all


and I would like to publicly thank Aunt Eleanor for providing Peezer with not one, not two but three candy canes so that he would stop freaking out after he dropped and broke the first two:

Candy cane kid 

And so, we strapped the tree to the top of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster Suburban and headed south through heavier-than-normal traffic, past several auto accidents and the ensuing backups, to our Home Sweet Home.


Giving Thanks

I AM THANKFUL FOR my parents, my husband, my three sons, Jesus, my job, my friends, my extended family, my neighborhood, my church, my bed, electricity, indoor plumbing, cell phones, the Internet, wifi, Santa Claus, Chuckie the cat (God rest his feline soul), and yes, even Mac the big, fat, hairy Golden Retriever with the best disposition EVER, and wine.

I am also thankful for my ability to make something out of practically nothing in the kitchen, corrective lenses, stretch denim, clogs, the changing seasons, my voice and my cheeky sense of humor, my ability to almost always make lemonade out of lemons, the Suburban, dark chocolate, the ability to choose – and wine.

Also: my health and that of my family, indoor plumbing, baby wipes, Clorox wipes, vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers, my gas grill, my butcher block kitchen island, popcorn, pizza, this here blog, my Blisters (you know who you are), Karma, coffee, traditions, history, Pennsylvania, friends from forever ago and brand-new friends from this year, hops, perfect pitch, perspective, and wine.

I am overwhelmed with how much I have to be thankful for.  Really – how could anybody be half as fortunate as we? (Extra points if you know the musical from which I plucked that line) I'm blessed beyond all measure. I'm grateful to my ancestors for everything they did in order to make life easier for those who followed after them.

To all the awesome people who live in my computer (especially those whom I've been privileged to meet IRL), I extend to you my sincerest wishes for happiness and contentment and health and gratitude for all you've been blessed with this Thanksgiving. May you continue to experience blessings beyond measure in the coming year so that you in turn may be a blessing to others!


WHEN I TELL THE STORY OF HOW I STOPPED EATING SHRIMP, I usually start with a question:

Have you ever had to choose whether to sit on the toilet or vomit into it?

Oh sure, it's funny, but I use comedy to obscure my disappointment. The story ends with me swearing off shrimp and scallops, and lobster too, because what is lobster but a ginormous, gargantuan shrimp? For all the sordid details, click here and go read about how I've been opting for sweet & sour chicken insted of sweet & sour shrimp since 2002.

Lately, though, I'm wondering if my lobster rule-out was excessive. I mean, I never really got sick from eating lobster. Sure, it's the shrimp's cousin, but really, isn't it overly cautious of me to deny myself the likes of this?

Maine lobster tails 
This mouth-watering photo borrowed from Seafood Harbor

What really got me thinking about this, though, was a new phenomenon in DC. There is a lunch truck that serves up what I hear are positively mouth-watering, attitude-altering Maine-style lobster rolls. Hungry people in the know check Twitter to see where the truck will be parked on any given weekday, then they patiently wait in really, really long lines just to score one of these life-changing delicacies from the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Like this –

Shrimp and lobster roll 
…which I borrowed from their Facebook page. Of course, I wouldn't get a half 'n' half, I'd go all lobster. And I might go with the butter-drizzled version, instead of the mayonnaise-y one.

Have mercy.

So, here's what I'm thinking. I'm going to find a Friday night where we have nothing going on. I'm going to tuck into a juicy, sweet lobster tail. I'll dip the tender meat in drawn butter and allow the butter to drip down my chin and onto my… bib. I will eat nothing but lobster; after all, it has to be a controlled experiment. And I will savor every last morsel as if it's my final meal on God's green Earth.

Once I'm sated, I'll wait. If I wake up in the middle of the night and have to "make a difficult decision" (and isn't that just the best euphemism for that sorry state of affairs?), then I'll know that my hunch eight years ago was correct and resign myself to this cruel fate. But if I drift into a blissful night's sleep and awake eight hours later, completely unaffected, then I will have reinstated a lifetime of culinary enjoyment.  I think it's a small price to pay for that particular prize. What do YOU think?