Move Over Mary Poppins!

The real life adventures of one nanny, her husband, child, dogs, house, and whatever else crosses her path.

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Location: MA, United States

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Breaking Radio Silence... but Why?

It's not that I haven't been doing anything lately, in fact, I've been a little bit busy. What I haven't been doing lately, though, is going to work. Fear not, I'm not a recession victim. I still have my job, but the kids have been away at various camps and grandparental visits, so I haven't had to go into work in some time, with the exception of a day or two here and there.

In the mean time, I've been slowly organizing. A closet purge here, a deep freeze inventory there. Scintillating stuff, right? You begin to see why I'm not blogging so much anymore... My mom taught me to can, and I made a successful batch of strawberry jam this week (of course, the true test will be when I open it up...). I zipped up to Portland last weekend to celebrate a dear friend's birthday, and got to catch up with a left-coast defector of whom I am fond while I was there. I've been reading, and catching up on old TV that was moldering on our DVR. I cleaned up our desperate front "landscape." It doesn't look quite so derelict, though I'm still tempted to get us on one of those DIY shows...

We are planning a trip to Hampton in the near future, so there should be pictures galore when we get back from NH.

Progress on the house has slowed a bit, because happily, Mark's been busier at work. The stairs are nearly done (mmm, pretty hardwood), and from there the upstairs hallway flooring. At that time, we will have 100% actual flooring in the house, after three years of plywood sections! Pictures then, I promise. Give me some window/door trim, and baseboards, and we're livable!

So, that's why the silence. It's not you, readers, it's me.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rhode Island DayCation

View Rhode Island DayCation in a larger map

Today we headed south on one of our rambling daytrips. Destination the first: Roger Williams Park & Zoo for some animals and a ride on the carousel.

The visit to the Zoo was moderately successful. Felix enjoyed himself, but I think he would have equally enjoyed himself running around the park. He did like the harbor seals and the giraffes. After a short break for a snack, he mostly just ran through the rest of the exhibits. Mark and I were fond of the Red Panda, but we didn't get very long to stop and observe it.

From Providence, we jumped on Route 4 going south towards Point Judith in Naragansett. Mark remembered a clam shack type place he'd enjoyed when he was younger, so we decided to try to find it. We lucked out, and it was right on the main drag down by the lighthouse. We had a picnic on the lawn, and Felix got to stretch his legs a little after the slow ride down there. We took a little joyride down to the lighthouse, and through the vacation rental neighborhood where his aunt had often rented a place when he and his younger brothers were little.

We took the scenic tour north along the shore through Naragansett and North Kingstown before hopping on Route 4 again. Mark and I both had a craving for ice cream, and Felix never says no to a frozen treat, so we jumped off the highway again in East Providence, to grab some Ben & Jerry's. Felix stretched his legs again on hipster friendly Thayer Street before we got down to the business of getting home.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Tipsy Birthday Cake, a three day Odyssey

My dad turned sixty a few months ago, and to celebrate, my mom took him to see Peter, Paul & Mary in Hartford. A pretty cool birthday gift, as they are one of his favorite performing groups. What he didn't know was that she planned a big surprise party for him, for three months later.

Aside from helping her to collect RSVPs, I was charged with assembling a playlist for the party, focusing on all the music my dad loves, and with making him a birthday cake.

The party was scheduled for Sunday, July 5, which gave me the whole long weekend to work on it.

On Friday, I baked the cakes, and froze them overnight (frozen then slightly thawed cakes are easier to slice for layers). What you see here is a thin 12" vanilla square, to be sliced into two layers and used as a pedestal, two 10" chocolate rounds, one thicker, to become three layers, one 8" chocolate round, one 6" vanilla round, one 4" chocolate round, and two 2" stacks, each to be three layers cakes. Normally, I'd wrap the cakes in plastic and foil to store them in the freezer, but these went in late Friday night, and came out Saturday morning, so I didn't worry about it.

Saturday was frosting day. I started with the vanilla Italian meringue buttercream for ringing and crumbing the cakes, since it's the most labor intensive, and I needed the largest quantity.
Sugar syrup coming up to temperature.
A pound and a half of cubed butter, a cup of egg whites, and vanilla extract.Meringue in the mixer.

After that, chocolate fluff buttercream and raspberry buttercreams for the fillings, and a second batch of vanilla for coloring and decorating the tiers. I got all six tiers ringed, filled, and crumbed, as well as colored before calling it a night. With a little shuffling, they all even fit in the fridge!

Sunday morning, Mark helped me rig a box to transport the partially assembled cake and additional tiers, and we packed up our stuff and headed west to my parents' house.

Between the stake I drove through the bottom three tiers, and the front flap of the box, and some judicious application of parchement paper, all six tiers arrived unscathed, and I set to work assembling and decorating.

Here's the finished cake, tilting its way up six tiers of yumminess!


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Puddle Stomping!

Felix has fully embraced the rainy weather we've had for the last month, and whenever possible, likes to put on his boots and stomp some puddles.

In this video, we're on the Common, near the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, and he's watching the cars pass by while taking advantage of some good sized puddles.