Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

After all of the craziness that Hurricane Sandy brought the Northeast, we were extremely lucky. We stayed with my parents Sunday through Tuesday and the power only flickered a few times. We didn't have work on Monday or Tuesday so we ended up doing a lot of weather channel watching, baking, eating, and game playing. Their house had very little damage. There was a small leak in the roof that we discovered Tuesday night but fortunately that was it. My mother-in-law Kathy, was not as fortunate. She and some of Mike's other family lost power along with most of the Annapolis area and had a huge tree come down.

Fortunately, it missed the edge of her house and didn't damage any cars. It was a close call but no one was hurt, thankfully. She was able to get someone to come down and remove the tree pretty quickly too which was very helpful.

There was a lot of flooding and damage on the Eastern shore and in other coastal communities of Maryland but I think New York and New Jersey were definitely hit the hardest. They had some serious major flooding and widespread power outages throughout the states. Many of the airports were totally shut down leaving many people stranded. There is a lot of damage and I don't know how long it's going to be before they can repair most of it. I hope that they can get things up and running for all of their residents soon.

With all of the weather talk, I actually forgot that today was Halloween! Mike and I are heading down to his Grammy's house for dinner and games with her and Mike's family. We didn't really have time to plan our costumes for this year so we thought this would be a fun way to celebrate instead of going out. Plus, since we are in an apartment, I'm not really sure how the whole trick-or-treat thing goes with the kids in the community. If we were in a normal neighborhood, I would definitely want to stay to give out candy, but since we're not, I didn't think it was worth sitting at home for. I'm not sure if anyone will even come by.

Anyway, it should be a nice visit with Grammy and I might try to make a little Halloween treat to bring down. Hopefully I'll find time to post some of the recipes I tried over the hurricane break, too. I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

Cunningham Falls State Park

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's official: Hurricane Sandy is upon us. So far it's just been a bunch of heavy rain in our area but I know that this is just the beginning. The wind is starting to pick up and I know there is already a lot of flooding closer to the shore. We seem to be set to avoid any power problems here at my parents' house but I'm more worried about falling trees than anything else.

Mike had to go into work today and I was not happy about it. Especially since the Governor sent out a message last night urging everyone to stay home. Fortunately, Mike's plant is closing at 3PM so he should be home soon and they are already closed for tomorrow too. The state has closed most if not all schools and major businesses as well as all buses, trains, subways and such. They are calling this storm "historic" which is a little scary but I don't think that Maryland is going to get hit as hard as some of the other Northern states. I just pray that those who are required to go out in the storm stay safe.

On Saturday, Mike and I took a trip to Cunningham Falls State Park for a nice fall hike. We wanted to make sure we got to go before the hurricane came through because the leaves were so pretty and I knew that after the storm, they would all be gone. We packed a lunch and drove north to the William Houck entrance to the park. Mike and I share a strong love for hiking in general but I especially love to hike in the fall. The brightly colored leaves and the crisp air make the trip a bit more special to me. It's much more relaxing than hiking in the heat and beating sun with bees and mosquitoes all around you. I love hiking in the other seasons as well but there has always been something kind of magical about the fall.

We took the trail straight to the falls and spent a little time there taking pictures and climbing the rocks. We found a nice spot to sit up at the top and ate our lunch next to the water. It was very relaxing and nice to take some time to ourselves. We hiked down and then hooked up to a trail across the street. We really enjoyed the day and hope we can go back to the park again soon. There are so many trails through the Catoctin mountains that we want to travel and there are even parts of the Appalachian trail that run through the area.


I loved these spotted leaves! 

Prom Pose!

There was also a beautiful overlook on the Hog Rock trail. It was only about a half a mile up but it was gorgeous with all of the foliage around. The trail was covered with leaves so it made seeing the rocks and roots below a little tough but it was still worth it! If you're looking for a nice hiking area, head up to Thurmont, MD and check this place out.

We were lucky to get this in before the storm moved up the coast. Not sure when I'll be able to post again since we may not have power over the next few days, so once again, I hope that everyone stays safe! I'll check in again when I can. 

Bean and Barley Soup

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Things have been busier than ever preparing for this storm! Hurricane Sandy is on its way and Mike and I have temporarily moved in with my parents for the duration. We are hoping that it passes through our area with little destruction, but just in case, we have been busy helping my dad with the generator and preparing the house in case we lose power for an extended period of time. Hope everyone stays safe in this crazy weather!

Last Sunday, we made a trip down to my parents' house to visit and watch the Ravens game. I was pretty excited about making apple pie and my grandmother's bean and barley soup that day. Both turned out really well and were perfect for the chilly weather.

I was also really proud of myself because I made the crust for the pie from scratch! Something I had never done by myself before. It probably wasn't as pretty as it could have been but it tasted divine. I usually don't have the patience to make my own crust and typically buy the pre-made ones that come in a box. I have to say that I will probably never use a box crust again. The homemade version turned out to be so flaky and buttery and delicious that it would be just wrong not to make my own from now on! It really wasn't that hard either. I was pretty surprised. I mean, if I'm taking the time out to make a pie instead of just buying one, why not make the crust yourself?

Here is a photo of the finished product.


I loved using my mom's Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer. (Yes, that's what they named it.)

It makes these perfect little apple rings and it's so fast. I am definitely asking for one for Christmas this year! Yep, that's my mom modeling the sliced apple. 

Okay, so on to the main topic: Bean and Barley Soup!

The recipe, like I said, is my grandmother's and most ingredients don't actually have any exact measurements. It states to add as much of each of the ingredients as your family likes. If there is an ingredient that you like more than the others, add extra of that.

For the first part, my mom and I have always used a leftover frozen ham bone. Whenever we buy a ham (say for Easter) we save the bone with all the delicious little ham pieces for this soup. Just be careful of the bones when you serve! You can also use ham steaks instead.

Ingredients

Ham steaks or left over ham bone
Water
Onions
Parsley
Celery
Navy beans
Barley
Carrots
Potatoes
Salt
Pepper

To make the soup, put the ham bone and pieces of ham in a pot of water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the ham. Cover and let it cook for about 45 minutes. Add chopped onion, chopped celery, parsley, and about 1 cup of navy beans. Add more beans if the ham bone is large and there is quite a bit of ham. After this cooks for about 1 hour, add 1/2 cup of barley and diced carrots. Cook the soup until the beans are soft. Last of all, add cubed potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper.


This is a super easy soup and really good on a cold day. Can't wait to make it again! Enjoy!

Food, Fun and Short Parades

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This past weekend, Mike and I took a day trip to St. Michaels, Maryland for their Fall Into St. Michaels Festival. We typically try to go to St. Michaels at least once a year for their Fourth of July celebrations but this past year, there was a major storm that ripped through Maryland that prevented us from crossing the bridge. The "derecho" as they called it, caused power outages for large numbers of residents for almost a week and with temperatures reaching into the upper 90's, it was a miserable time. We tried to venture over to the Eastern Shore but we sat for about 40 minutes in traffic and only moved about five miles. Considering that St. Michaels is more than an hour from the Annapolis area where we were starting our journey, we didn't make it. To redeem ourselves, we planned a trip to their fall festival and it was so worth it!

The town itself is pretty historic and reminds us quite a bit of downtown Annapolis. With the old brick stone sidewalks, the quaint little homes and businesses, and the small town feel of the community, the town has a lot of charm. The festival itself runs throughout the weekend with different activities each day. Here is the flyer from their website that lists the events this year.

[via]

The whole town was decorated for the season and there were tons of little kids and adults dressed up in costumes. We had some delicious pulled pork sandwiches hot off the smoker on the deck at Marcoritaville. We had never eaten there but the smell of the barbecue was irresistible. Here's Mike and his almost bald head outside at the restaurant.


We also enjoyed a little Sam Adams Octoberfest before exploring the town.


The parade was fun, especially for the kids, but it was unbelievably short. We sat down near the curb to watch and after about 5 minutes, it was over. It dawned on us that the town is very small so it made sense that there weren't a lot of people in the parade. They had a couple of town groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, the fire department, and the small high school band. It was so funny and so cute at the same time.

After the parade, we went to Justine's for hot chocolate. They normally just sell ice cream but now they are also selling coffee and other drinks too! We always stop in on our trips here. I was also very excited because they now take credit cards! In the past, by the time we would get to Justine's we would always be out of cash for some strange reason and I always had to write checks, which I also found strange. 


Justine's was decorated too and Mike found a comfy seat next to the store's resident scarecrow. She had a name, but I can't remember what it was. Her boobs were also made of cones. She was quite attractive.


After relaxing for a bit with our drinks, we drove out to Tilghman Island to sit on the rocks and watch the sunset. It is an absolutely beautiful area and we always make a point to head out there if the weather is good. While it was a bit cloudy, we still had a wonderful view. 



It's definitely worth the trip. If you are ever looking for a cute place to go for a weekend getaway, St. Michaels is it! Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Apple Picking!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today is the day! I am finally making some apple pie and I can't wait! With the chilly weather, it is definitely one of those cozy little days where pie making is a must. I also plan to make one of Mike's favorite meals - Bean and Barley Soup. The recipe was my grandmother's and it's also one of my all-time favorite fall/winter soups. If I get permission, I'll post it here! It would be pretty cool to have that recipe be the first on the blog. We'll see...

To kick off the fall season, we decided to plan a trip last weekend to Rock Hill Orchard in Mount Airy to pick apples. The day started off early in the city for the Baltimore Running Festival. Mike has run this race for the last few years and seems to really enjoy it. There are so many competitors so it's really fun for me to watch. It's pretty inspirational to see all these different people of all ages and all walks of life running for various organizations or even just for themselves. Mike always enters to raise money for Pacing for Parkinson's through Johns Hopkins. He has done it for the past three years and it's such a great cause.

Here he is at the race this year!

 
He finished 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 9 minutes! Something I'd never be able to do. He got two medals this year for running the "Doubler" as they call it. Basically, if you run both the Frederick Half Marathon earlier in the year and complete the Baltimore Half Marathon, you get a special designation for running two races.

I told Mike last year I would run the 5K since I was so inspired by all of the people running but you can clearly see how long that idea lasted. I have a serious self-discipline problem. Whether it's dedicating time to a certain project or a goal I have or even deciding whether or not to eat the last chocolate chip cookie after I've had 6 - I have very little self control. I always start things, but can never finish them. You could say I lose interest easily, but this blog is HOPEFULLY the first thing that breaks that cycle!

Anyway, after the race, we headed up to the orchard with Mike's family. Rock Hill sells all kinds of awesome things. They have a store with homemade ice cream, honey, sauces, fruits and vegetables, herbs, and all kinds of other fall goodies. They also have a pick-your-own pumpkin patch but we had just come for the apples. In the earlier months, you can pick berries and herbs too, so we'll definitely have to go back for that!

Here are some of the pictures from the day! Please excuse the poor quality Instagram photos.


These are now my favorite apples - Jonathan Apples!


Mike up in a tree...





This last photo of us was taken in downtown Mt. Airy before dinner. We ate at an adorable little restaurant called Laurienzo's. Mike got pizza and I had pumpkin stuffed ravioli. It was absolutely DELICIOUS!



The day was so fun and a good way to begin the season. I just can't wait to make that pie!

Happy Fall!

Honeymoon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Good Morning! It's a beautiful day here in Maryland and I thought it would be a good day to do a little post about our honeymoon since we have a little catching up to do. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

For our honeymoon, we chose to take a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas to explore a little of the Western Caribbean. The trip lasted seven nights and we visited Labadee, Haiti, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. The Freedom is a HUGE ship and has so much to do, we couldn't get all of it in on one trip! Mike even tried the Flow Rider and did really well at it! After a little practice he was able to stay up for almost 20 seconds. Did I mention we only went to the Flow Rider twice and he was able to do this? Pretty awesome! I was a little too scared to try it myself but maybe next time.

We had the time of our lives meeting new people, relaxing on the sandy white beaches, enjoying the nightlife and shows on the ship, and doing a few excursions. We got to experience the world's longest zipline over water in Haiti which was super awesome! We had also planned an excursion in Mexico to take an ATV tour through the jungle to see some Mayan ruins, but unfortunately, the day before we got there, some heavy rains came through and flooded the jungle area where the tour was held so they had to cancel the excursion. We decided to take a beach break that included open bar and lunch. It ended up being a blast! We took more than 500 photos, but I promise, I won't share ALL of them. It was hard to narrow it down but here are a few of our favorites!


















Our amazing waiter, Delroy! We hope to see him again!


We enjoyed every minute and can't wait to go on our next cruise vacation! Here is a video of Mike on the Flow Rider and then going down the zip line. I wish we would have taken a few more but it's still neat to have at least these two little clips to remember the trip! Also, sorry for my strange commentary on the first video - I was talking to a couple of our friends we had met on the ship. Enjoy!