I had a great time with Camille and Josh this weekend. I definitely needed a little time in Texas (and yes, I still tear up when I land at DFW). It was a wonderful weekend, and it ended too soon. Thanks for everything, y’all!
Tomorrow, we’re off to our other home away from home, Guana. It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I can’t wait to get away to my little stretch of beach (and, let’s face it, Nipper’s!).
We’ll be incommunicado for 6 glorious days, so if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me!
One of the best things about living in Orlando is the annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. For the uninitiated, Food and Wine is a collection of kiosks scattered around the World Showcase. Every country at Epcot is represented, of course, but for a few glorious weeks in the fall, lots and lots of other countries move in. For a few dollars (at each kiosk, of course), you can sample cuisine (not to mention wine and beer) from all over the world. One disclaimer just in case you’re worried about Kevin’s diet: the portions are tiny (just tastes, really), and most times we didn’t finish each dish. Plus we walked about 8 miles today, so that cancels out the bad stuff!
This year we were pleased to see the return of some of our favorites (hellooooooo Ireland), and we were excited to try some new flavors (Louisiana!!!). I was also determined not to wuss out; that is, I really wanted to fully commit to making myself sick by eating all day. Mission: Accomplished.
We began the day at 11:00 in Canada. Kevin had the Maple Glazed Salmon (he gave it 4 stars out of a possible 5), and I had the Cheddar Cheese soup, which is always a favorite (I give it 4.5 stars). From there we headed straight to France, since I have an insane need for escargot whenever it’s available (side note: For most people, the smell of fresh-baked cookies or apple pie brings them back to childhood. For me, it’s escargot. I know I’m weird). Three delicious snail-stuffed brioche rolls later (4 stars), we headed onward to Louisiana. I needed something sweet to cleanse my palate, so I hit the bread pudding (a disappointing 3 stars, but probably because I had the best bread pudding I’ve ever had just last night). Kevin sampled the etouffee and the gumbo. Kevin gave the etouffee a whopping FIVE!!! 5!!! stars and the gumbo 4.5. The etouffee was BY FAR his favorite, and I have a feeling he’ll be dreaming about it for a while.
Thankfully, we had at least a little walk before we happened upon New Zealand, where I quickly inhaled a lamb slider on brioche. I had this last year, and although it was tasty, it gets only 3.5 stars, but more on that later. Then we headed to Japan, where Kevin had the spicy tuna roll (note: not spicy at all, which accounts for 3 stars) and the California roll (4 stars, with a special mention of the super crunchy texture). On to San Francisco and the seared beef medallion with cheddar polenta. The polenta was the real star of the dish; the beef was dangerously close to being over-seasoned. Sadly, the over-seasoned beef drags the review down to 3.5 stars, but I should note that I could eat that polenta all day every day.
Since I needed to make a little room in my belly, we skipped the lobster roll and the crab cake offered by America (although both looked especially tasty) and wandered ahead to Ireland. I had the potato and leek soup (4 stars…Cheddar Cheese soup in Canada is slightly better), and the surprise hit of the day, the Irish cheese selection with apple chutney and brown bread. The cheeses were a reserve cheddar, Dubliner, and Ivernia, and this one little plate (and I say little, but those pieces of cheese were HUGE) turned out to be an absolute perfect balance of flavor and texture. This was DEFINITELY my 5 star plate of the day.
Still on my cheese high, I skipped Italy, but Kevin tried the sausage pizza, and about the best thing that could be said was that the crust was fluffy (so not authentic in any way whatsoever). 1.5 stars, and I’ll also go ahead and note that this is the second year where Italy really disappointed. In order to get back on track, Kevin made a beeline for Germany and a sausage with sauerkraut on a pretzel roll (4 stars). By this time I was ready to get back in the game, so I cruised over to Australia for a lamb chop. Aside from being close to over-sauced (a caramelized onion jam), it was perfectly cooked and delicious. 4.5 stars easy, and because this lamb dish was sooooo good, it knocked New Zealand’s down a bit.
We took a little break to hit Soarin’, and then we were right back at it. Chile gave us a spicy beef empanada, and it was yum-may enough to earn a solid 4 stars. Staying in a South American mood, we sampled some beef with chimichurri and beef and corn pie in Argentina. The chimichurri was WAY too oily, which was sad since the beef was perfect (2.5 stars). The pie was interesting and not at all what I expected. It gets points for being the most unique thing I ate all day, and that moves it to 4 solid stars. Still feeling a little south of the border, we marched on to Mexico for chicken chilaquiles. Kevin gave it a 4, and I give it a 4.5 (but that could be because I haven’t had good Mexican food in over a year). Still, though, the salsa verde was good.
At this point, I was a bit beyond full, but still okay, so we went to South Africa. The Durban spiced chicken was crazy good; it came with coconut milk-infused root veggies which it absolutely needed to offset the crazy heat from the spices. My lips are still burning 3 hours later, but it was soooo worth it. Another solid 4.5. From there it was only a stone’s throw to Austria and goulash and tafelspitz (that’s brisket to you and me, Russ). The goulash came with a bacon dumpling (holla!) which by itself earned the dish 4 stars. Kevin’s brisket, sadly, was bland, and the accompanying horseradish sauce was lackluster. The tafelspitz scored the worst today at a meager 1 star. We wandered back around to Greece for Greek salad (4 stars) and spanokopita which was the second best thing I ate all day and gets 4.75 stars. I should also mention that Kevin stopped back in at Louisiana for a second helping of etouffee.
Poland and Puerto Rico were *right there*, but I had sadly reached my breaking point. It was 5:00, and we had been eating since 11:00. I really, really wanted to stop at these two, but I just couldn’t (plus, we had Fast Passes for Test Track and another round of Soarin’). We also skipped Morocco (did it last year and wasn’t memorable), Spain (no room in my belly, but if we go back I’ll try the seared tuna), China (again, did it last year and it was the same menu), and Istanbul (and again, I’ll try it if we make it over there again).
Food and Wine is a definite favorite; where else can you eat your way around the world in a day? The food is also surprisingly good. And sure, there are wine pairing seminars, cookbook signings, and other foodie-type things, but I really only go for the food. Because really? Any place I can escargot AND a spicy beef empanada is someplace I want to eat.
It’s officially official. We’re heading to Africa next summer for two weeks of safari goodness. I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky we are to have a family that’s including us in this adventure of a lifetime, but I DO know that we’re all going to have an absolute blast. We’re still hammering out the details, but at this point we know for sure that we’ll be spending 6 days in Kenya. I feel like we need to head over to Animal Kingdom to get a little practice shooting game pictures!!!
My Dog Is An Internet Porn Star
Oliver was jingle-bobbed one week ago today, and he still hasn’t quite grasped the concept.
Here’s a fun little quiz to help you decide who to vote for. Most of you know how conflicted I am now that Hillary is out….I really can’t stand Obama on a personal level, and I had pretty much convinced myself to vote Republican for the first time in my life. I never jumped on the Obama train….I just couldn’t. I don’t think he’s the visionary leader he’s snowed the American public into thinking he is.
Having said all of that, go take this quiz. Granted, it’s a tiny little slice of the presidential political pie, but still, it’s interesting (and it’ll only take a couple of minutes). Thanks to Rob for finding this!
First things first: Kenny Chesney was *awesome*. Now, it’s not the best show I’ve seen (and his show last summer was a bit better than this one), but it was still great. We had fantastic seats (thanks, Jen!), and I’ll get some pictures up on Flickr a little later today. We had a great tailgate, too!
Oliver *loved* the puppy hotel (and here’s something totally off-topic: the pet hotel is located *exactly* where the sheriff’s office is looking for Caylee Anthony. Creepy). He loved it so much, in fact, that I’ve booked his stay for next weekend when we head up to Tallahassee for a little foozball (and more tailgating). There was somebody there overnight, so he didn’t have to be by himself, which he hates. Also? When they went to put him in his room, he started crying and trying to break down the door (shocker), so they let him out to run around the place. He immediately calmed down, and got even more attention than he gets at home, which is damn near impossible. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. Thanks, DogMaHall!
Yesterday was the kick-off of a new season of college football, which means I’m officially a football widow once again. The bright side of this was spending the day with Patricia and Rob, who made it super easy for me to not want to tear my hair out in a football-related rage. We had a great time hanging out with y’all! Can’t wait to do it again (and next time we really will play some Wii!).
Errands and chores today, followed by a bonus day off for Kevin tomorrow. I love long weekends!
On a serious note, we’re sending out lots of love and heaps of prayers to all of our friends in Louisiana and East Texas. Y’all take care and get out of the way if you need to (and if you haven’t already).
It’s Oliver’s first night away from home. We’re heading over to Tampa for the Kenny Chesney concert (woot!), and while the big dogs will be totally fine on their own for a few hours, Smalliver wouldn’t be, so I made the decision to board him. After *extensive* research, I finally settled on The DogMaHall. Now, some would say that I have a tendency to go a little bit overboard when it comes to my dogs, and that’s probably true. Then again, we don’t have kids, so my maternal instincts need to be directed somewhere else. I really don’t like the idea of boarding our dogs (and I wouldn’t board the older ones, just because, well, they’re old and do really well with a pet sitter), but we get a fresh start with Oliver.
The most important thing was for him to not feel like he was too confined (he HATES his crate, and he literally makes himself sick if he’s isolated), so that automatically ruled out more than half of the doggy day cares since they use kennels. I asked my vet for recommendations, but those were all a bust, too. I must have looked at every single boarding facility in the greater Orlando area, but I *finally* found one that seemed to fit the bill.
Oliver has a little bit of separation anxiety. Kevin has a hard time with him on the weekends, since I try to sleep in but Oliver just scratches at the bedroom door and cries. Rigley was bad when she was a puppy, too, but Oliver is definitely a mama’s boy. I was certainly apprehensive about leaving him behind, since he is a sensitive little man. Turns out I had nothing at all to worry about. He was soooo done with me the minute we walked in the place, and of course, he charmed everybody there.
I have a feeling he may not want to come home tomorrow, in which case I’m totally booking him for next weekend when we go to Tallahassee, only next time I’ll throw in some extras. The boy does love his massages…..
So it turns out that Oliver may not be such a pain after all. In fact, he may just be a hero. You may have heard that we’re having a little bit of weather today. It’s no big deal; just a little wind and some rain. But…..the ground is already super-saturated from all the other rain we’ve had, and our yard floods pretty badly. Again, no big deal, since it drains off pretty quick. Unless it rains for 12 straight hours.
Now, we did the right thing and drained some water out of the pool, so we weren’t really worried about it overflowing. In fact, the lanai didn’t look nearly as bad as it has in other thunder storms. But then Oliver started going CRAZY tonight. I mean, he was going crazazy even by his standards. Howling, baying, barking, digging at the floor (and not just where food has been, either). Since I thought it was cute, I started shooting video of him. And then he headed for the corner of the room, still baying, still barking. I’ve had him long enough that I know that when he does that for so long he’s trying to tell me something, and boy, was he ever.
The drain that runs across our lanai was clogged. Big time. Water had started seeping into the house. Behind the TV, and right underneath where our massive surge protector is. You know, the surge protector that our TV is plugged into. And the laptops. And the AppleTV. And the Wii. And the AirPort. Basically every important piece of electronics we own (minus the tera station). We were able to run outside and clear the clog (well, enough to get through the storm), and we shop-vac’d the water out of the carpet.
So thanks, Smalliver. You just saved our whole digital lifestyle.
We’re officially getting a Bath & Body Works just up the street. This is going to save me a bundle in shipping (which is still cheaper than the gas I’d use going to the next closest one). The downside? I just bought a year’s supply (no, I’m not kidding) of foamy soap online because they were having a sale.
And a quick word about stupid Fay: It looks like she’s coming for us for sure. We’re not awfully concerned, however, since we have everything we need (including a generator). And maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t see how hurricanes can be worse than North Texas storms. At least with a hurricane we get a warning; not so much with tornadoes. Just sayin’.
First, let me make this perfectly clear: I am NOT IN ANY WAY one of *those* dog people that dress their dogs up. Really. I mean, I love my dogs, but I would never subject them to this kind of humiliation.
Unless it was a very special day. You see, Oliver graduated from Puppy Obedience School today. He was at the top of his class (of course), and by the end of the six weeks, he’s learned to sit, stay, not jump when meeting new people, roll over, shake, high five (at Kevin’s request), come, leave it, drop it, bring it, lay down, and wait at doors until given the okay to go through. He also goes to the door now when he needs to go potty.
I’ve worked with this dog every day since we got him. For hours. So you bet I’m proud of my little man, and I’m proud of myself, too. Which is probably why I subjected him to the extreme humiliation of a cap and gown. You go, Smalliver!
There is not a whole lot in this world that I want for. Kevin does an *excellent* job of taking care of me (and that’s a big fat disclaimer for the story that follows).
It’s a pretty well known fact that Sunday is my big housework day. Kevin can chill and watch some NASCAR while I do laundry, iron, clean bathrooms, change sheets, fold towels, clean the kitchen, make dinner, put the groceries away, scoop poop….and the list goes on. Today was just like any other Sunday (and a huge thanks to Kevin for helping me out by vacuuming the living room). It was only after I finished dusting the baseboards and scrubbing our toilet that I started to daydream a little.
Me: “Gee….I sure wish I had a third toilet brush for the third bathroom.”
Kev: “Well baby, just put it on your Christmas list.”
Me: “And maybe a little trash can for the back porch to hold the poop bags”.
Kev: “That’s an awful lot….I’ll tell you what. I’ll take you to the mall and you can sit on Santa’s lap and ask him for it”.
Me: “Yeah! That’s it! I’ll ask Santa for a shit bucket!!!”
Some women want diamonds, some women want fancy cars. Me? I just want a toilet brush and a shit bucket.