Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in Review

Jennifer posted a year in review on her blog. I liked that idea. Mine probably won't look as pretty as hers but I'll try my hand at making one too. A lot HAS changed this year!


In January I had attempted to cancel my membership. I was frustrated and tired of the whole thing. I wasn't meeting anybody who I really connected with. But apparently, I didn't hit the confirm button when I tried to cancel so I got charged for another six months.

I figured I might as well get some use out of the damn membership. So I sent a bunch of emails out. One to some guy named Eric. And so we began emailing back and forth...


Eric and I had our first date at an Ethiopian restaurant called Makeda in New Brunswick. We also had a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth date...


My mom had a special birthday this month. My siblings and I planned a birthday luncheon for her. Eric met my family for the first time this day.


I missed Eric while he was in Scotland but then it was my spring break! We spent a lot of time together that week.

We had our first New York outing together. We had our first fight at Zabar's.


May was a special month. On Mother's Day, we got engaged! Yay! Norton (and Pumpkin too) was very happy to hear the news. He adores his new daddy-to-be!

Speaking of daddies-to-be, at the end of the month, my brother, Ryan and sister-in-law Lauren announce that they are expecting a little one in the beginning of 2008!


June was a good month. Our friends gave birth to Caiden who underwent very successful heart surgery. He's a champ!!! He's now a healthy, happy baby!


We went to Miami for Eric's AAJA conference but we enjoyed some downtime as well.


We moved. Really, must I say more? What a crazy month fixing up the townhouse so it could sell and fixing up our new home.


Eric and I enjoyed a weekend in the San Francisco area before I had to return to work. I also got to attend my first football game!


We hosted a party for my birthday at our new house!!! The Bell Family (the nickname my college friends and I gave ourselves) even attended!


Eric and I went away for a long weekend to Burlington, Vermont. We had a great time exploring! Here I am in Middlebury trying to stay warm!


We celebrated our engagement with some of our close friends and family.

2008 will be an even better year! I wish all of my readers a healthy and happy year!

Welcome to Morocco!

Saturday night, Eric and I, along with Jennifer and her fiance, Matt visited Morocco. Well...sort of! We had dinner at an authentic Moroccan restaurant called Marakesh. It's really a funky place! We all enjoyed the Sultan's Feast! It was an exquisite feast of soup, salad, appetizers, entrees, dessert and yummy mint tea. And, we were treated to some live music and belly dancing!

It was such fun. It was the first time the four of us all got together. Jenn and I were very happy that our fiances got along so well. Apparently they both have a love of telling jokes with Scottish accents.

Sadly enough, they did say no to forming a scooter club.

My Green Dining Room

Here's a pic of before we took the tape off the walls and put the room back together. It really does look beautiful. It's calming and so serene. My new favorite room in the house!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I hope everybody enjoyed their Chrismahanukkakwanzaa! No matter what you celebrate, I hope you are enjoying this time of year and are not getting lost in the craziness of it all.

Eric and I enjoyed yet another holiday together. Monday night, my family went out to dinner to Carmine's in New York. It's tradition. We go every Christmas Eve. My immediate family plus my aunt, uncle and cousins. With spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends, we had 14 this year at our table. Next year, we'll have two more (since my sister-in-law and cousin are giving birth this winter)! Sadly, Eric had to miss it because he was still at work. But after dinner, I met Eric and his family for the rest of Christmas Eve. We had a very nice time and didn't get in until late.

Christmas morning, we went to my folks' house for present-opening and breakfast. I brought over a french toast casserole. It was the first one I ever made and boy, was it a hit!

Then back to Morristown for the rest of the day to be with Eric's family.

After picking up Norton from my parents' house at the end of the night, we came back home. We had a great time with both of our families, but it was nice to be home at the end of the night.

This morning I slept til 10. Which is LATE for me!!! After some straightening up, I decided to paint the dining room. I did all the prep work, the trim and the whole first coat. It is a Martha Stewart green called "Wild Artichoke." Tomorrow morning, I'll buy a second can and do a second coat. Wow, what a job. By the time I was finished, I suffered numerous aches and pains including stomach pains from not eating all day.

But I'm glad I accomplished something!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You'll never guess what I'm so excited about?

I've really been wanting a Dyson. I guess it began when I noticed that bright purple vacuum at Target one day. So bright and colorful and cool-looking. Ooh...and the purple model is for animals specifically! And you, my readers, know about my pets!

So Eric has a five year old Hoover Windtunnel that we've been using. He bought it because it was rated highly at the time. Maybe so but its not a vacuum that's designed for the amount of pet hair that we have! So a couple months ago I had to get a new belt for the Hoover. Its an ok vacuum but I've been secretly hoping it would break again so I could justify purchasing my Dyson.

The Hoover hasn't been working right guess who's getting a Dyson???

After doing much research on Epinions and other sites, I decided on the DC15. Not only is a powerful vacuum but it's really cool too! Nicknamed The Ball, it steers with the turn of a wrist. Also, its bagless AND beltless!

I ordered it online for an awesome discount plus no shipping, no tax!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looks can be deceiving...

We were "blessed" with a couple storms over a period of a couple days. Thursday, we got four inches of snow. Saturday night into Sunday, we got another couple of inches of snow. No big deal, right? Sunday afternoon we got a bit of rain.

We decided to brave the hour ride to my parents' house for Ashley's 20th birthday. Eric was a little worried about the rain freezing over but it wasn't bad enough to keep us home.

Here's a picture of our house before everything became coated with ice. Looks pretty, right? But a few hours later, that pretty snow became treacherous!

Now that pretty scene is downright dangerous. I am praying for the warmer temperatures this week to melt that damn ice. Even poor Nort can't seem to get on good footing.

Read Eric's blog to see what happened when he decided to chase after our garbage pails...important lesson I learned--never put out garbage when 50 mile winds are anticipated and 6 inches of snow and ice lay on the ground!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Friday

My dear Eric is putting me to shame. Eight blog posts in a week! Wow! I wish I had the time and the energy and the motivation to post as often as I did this summer. Things have been so hectic. Work. The holidays. The new house. The crazy dog.

Eric and I, along with Norton and Pumpkin, live in the Northwestern part of NJ. We live in the mountains. You actually have to drive up this huge hill to get to our house. It's usually about eight degrees cooler where we live than other sections of NJ. It was great this summer. It was usually a bit cooler here and less humid too!

However, now that winter is upon us, we really get the brunt of it up here! We've already had about 4 occasions of snowfall. The first I posted about--the Monday before Thanksgiving. We had four inches of snow yesterday and are expecting a Nor'Easter this weekend! Four to six more inches of snow! Now, I know thats not a tremendous amount of snow...but considering its only December. I do like snow but I like it more when I don't have to drive in it or shovel!!!

If we get snowed in this weekend, we'll miss my sister's birthday celebration. Sorry, Ash. Happy 20th birthday!

But on a more positive note, maybe we'll get a start on holiday cards and wrapping...and relaxing by the fire...maybe even a home cooked meal!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

End of Weekend...

Another busy weekend. Saturday morning, we all woke up bright and early in the Munkee household. Norton and I headed to my folks' for the weekend and Eric flew off to Green Bay soon after for a Raiders game.

It was a busy Saturday--my sister-in-law's baby shower in the afternoon and then a visit with my friend Susan in the evening.

Sunday, my Nana and I went to a special Chanukah concert at the temple. We went to see Craig Taubman and his band perform. It was a such a joy to see this guy live after listening to his cd for a couple years now. Not only is his music really joyous and upbeat but he's a funny and energetic stage presence too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah to all my fellow Jews out there! Hope you're enjoying your latkes and lighting your candles.

Eric and I decided to exchange presents for all eight nights of Chanukah. This is something I haven't done since I was a kid! It sure is fun getting presents eight nights in a row!

For the first night, I gave Eric a set of cufflinks and studs from the New Orleans Cufflink Shop. He gave me two beautiful necklaces from Danforth Pewter in Vermont. I got this dragonfly necklace and this butterfly necklace. I don't think I've ever owned any pewter jewelry before and I'll tell you--both necklaces are stunning!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Pumpkin's New Hobby

Our strange little kitty has a new hobby. On Thanksgiving morning as I was preparing a green bean casserole and a pumpkin pie to bring to my parents, Pumpkin was sitting out on the deck off of the kitchen, as she often likes to do. That morning, the breeze was blowing the fallen leaves about. Pumpkin decided to be the predator and she spent a couple hours out there catching leaves and, like a proud hunter, bringing them into the kitchen to show me. We have a pile of four leaves on the kitchen floor that I really need to bring back outside. However, I don't want to insult Pumpkin as they were a gift to me, I think!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Snow Day before Thanksgiving???

Note: I began this post almost two weeks ago. Finally, here it is.

Okay, well, sort of. I DIDN'T have a snow day. In fact, the town that I teach in had no snow accumulation on the ground. But Eric and I live in the mountains. We had a little snowfall on the ground Sunday morning. Norton and I were delighted--but it didn't stick to the actual pavement. I was glad because we had to drive to New Rochelle, NY for a wedding later that day.

But we got more snow Sunday night and it was still snowing Monday morning. We had about four inches on the grassy areas. It was accumulating on the roads but the plows were out and about so I figured the ride wouldn't be bad.

Boy, was I wrong. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get to work driving on snowy, icy hills. Even with my All Wheel Drive, I was terrified driving. I realized a block from my house that driving conditions might not be ideal but I wanted to make it to work.

Living in the mountains where we get far more snow than other regions of NJ, I decided its important to make sure to have emergency sub plans ready at school at all times. Just in case!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hello, Hello

It's been almost two weeks since I've blogged. Things have been hectic and stressful so I've stayed away a while.

I had off last Thursday and Friday for the NJEA Teacher's Convention. Did I go to the convention in Atlantic City? Nope. Instead, Eric and I went to Burlington, Vermont for the weekend. Pics to come later...

We had a great time...cold, crisp weather, delicious food, wine tasting...and we had dinner with my coworker's daughter, Tara, and her boyfriend Dan. Tara's mom is my "work mom" so that makes long lost sister! Ha! They live right in Burlington. Lucky!

I owe you a splendidly humourous and witty blog posting. But not right now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Recycling Day

The first Friday of every month is recycling day. That means on the first Thursday night of every month, Eric and I are scrambling to put everything out after he gets home from work. Since we moved in August, half of our 2 1/2 car garage has been filled with boxes waiting to be broken down and recycled. Well thanks to Eric's hard work this week, we actually have a garage again. I bet the recycling people were cursing when they got to our house today. This is what they found:

  • 7-8 large boxes filled with broken down boxes
  • 2 bins of cans and bottles
  • 2 boxes of newspapers, magazines and 1 expired YellowPages

Thats a LOT of stuff, don't you think? The hardest part was lugging all of that stuff up our windy, lengthy driveway. So Eric would load1-2 boxes at a time in the back of his SUV. Then Norton and I would hop in and drive the car up the driveway with Eric in the rear holding everything in place so we wouldn't lose any boxes. Norton had an important job too--co-captain of the Recycle Transit. He alternated riding in the back with the boxes or sitting on the passenger seat leaning over my shoulder.

Even Norton was exhausted last night. We all worked incredibly hard (especially Eric). It'll be worth it come our first snowfall when we'd like to park in the garage!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday, Monday

Life has been crazy lately. I've barely had a moment's time to breathe--let alone blog!

Eric and I had a nice weekend and for once, we did have time to relax!

Saturday after running errands, we spent much of the afternoon and the entire evening at home. We took a nap, enjoyed Thai take-out, played board games (two new games--Pez and Zombies--both fun!) , video games and watched movies. I can't remember the last time we spent a night at home doing nothing. It was fabulous.

Eric finally showed me his movie!!! He wrote the screenplay for an "indie" horror movie and it was good! It's now on dvd and it's called Dead Hunt.

Friday was my grandmother's 80th birthday! Happy Birthday, Grandma! I finally finished her scarf. I started knitting it 2 years ago and finally finished it! Sunday, we celebrated with Grandma and my family and Sunday night tried out the brand new Guitar Hero! Rock on!

Friday, October 26, 2007

I've been tagged!

Things have been crazy later. Sorry for the lack of blogging. Eric tagged me to do this meme so here goes...

Little known facts about Marisa

Four things about me that you may or may not have known in no particular order. The directions are at the end.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. Teacher

2. Paralegal

3. Server

4. Bookstore cashier (at my college bookstore)

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:

1. Serendipity

2. When Harry Met Sally

3. You've Got Mail

4. Breakfast at Tiffany's (I saw it for the first time a little over a year ago but I loved it!)

C) Four places I have lived:

1. South Plainfield, NJ

2. Long Branch, NJ

3. Montclair, NJ

4. Byram Township, NJ

D) Four shows that I watch:

1. The Office (the only show I really watch regularly)

2. 30 Minute Meals

3. Gilmore Girls (though at this point I watch reruns)

4. Scrubs (behind on this one too)

E) Four places I have been: (besides the places I have lived)

1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

2. Lave Havasu, Arizona (home of the original London Bridge)

3. St. John, US Virgin Islands

4. Napa Valley, California

F) Four people who e-mail me (regularly):

1. Eric

2. Robin

3. Eric's mom

4. Spammers

(Most of my communication is via phone, instant message and text messaging!)

G) Four of my favorite foods:

1. Indian

2. Thai

3. Ethiopian

4. Dark Chocolate

H) Four places I would rather be right now:

1. My nice warm, heated house (my classroom has no heat. It's broken. I'm FREEZING!)

2. A warm beach with Eric someplace

3. Vermont (we'll be there in less than 2 weeks)

4. In bed.

I) Four folks I think will respond (maybe):
1. Jennifer.

2. Jess

3. Becky

4. Susan

J) Things I am looking forward to this year:

1. Going to Burlington, Vermont for a long weekend in November!
2. Me and Eric's first Thanksgiving together!
3. Another wedding
4. Picking out bridesmaid dresses

Like Eric said, we have a lot to look forward to next year!

RETURN DIRECTIONS: Copy the text, delete my answers and pop in your own. Tag, you're it!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thoughts

Lets start with the visit with the behaviorist. I think it went very well and I was very pleased with her. Over the course of a two hour visit, she and her tech observed Norton, caught some video, watched him play and asked lots of questions. The doc then sat down with me after over an hour of this in order to put together a plan. I'm feeling optimistic that things will improve.

1. We're doubling his one medication and tripling the other.

2. I'm working on desensitizing him to exit cues--picking up keys, putting shoes on.

3. I'm teaching him down and stay--two commands he never mastered.

4. Norton now has a "safety blanket." Its a blanket that he can lay on and good things will happen on it. He'll get petted and he'll get treats. Hopefully it'll work to "calm" him one day.

5. We need to use a visual cue when we leave. I ordered a lavender scented stuffed lab that I'll put on the table when we leave and put it away when we get home. Hopefully, it'll calm him and he'll see it and recognize that we're coming home.

6. We need to use a cd to desensitize Norton to gunshots and fireworks and thunderstorms.

We have another wedding this weekend. This one's in Pittsburgh. Eric's college friend is getting married.

Speaking of weddings...I picked out and ordered my wedding gown on Friday!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our Escaped Convict

We've taken to crating Norton again since his little "incident." Separation anxiety is a horrible, horrible disorder that most pet owners don't have to deal with. I don't mean mild barking and whining when you leave. I don't mean coming home to chewed up socks and shoes because your dog is lonely.

We spent all day on Sunday at a wedding. As of late, Eric and I can't really enjoy ourselves when we are out. All we do is worry, worry, worry. It's terrible.

So we left Norton in the crate before we left for the wedding. We got home from the wedding and guess who greeted us at the door?


Our clever little munkee broke out of his crate. It would almost be funny if not for it being so serious. The last two days, Eric's been padlocking the thing to keep Norton contained.

He's taking meds--Xanax and Clomi-calm. We're using a DAP diffuser.

Today Norton and I have a 2 hour consult with the behaviorist. She's a vet who specializes in behavior and she's highly recommended.

Yesterday, Eric set up his digital camera to videotape what Norton does when we leave. It only taped for three minutes, but I swear it was the saddest three minute video. I have never heard those heartwrenching howls out of him before.

I'm reading this book, Help for Your Fearful Dog. We can use all the help that we can get right now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Look What Norton Gave me for my Birthday

I was having a great birthday weekend. I had a party Saturday night which was a blast! Sunday night, Eric took me to the Melting Pot. Fondue! Yum! We got back from dinner to this-

Our hearts sunk. Sweetheart that he is, Norton has a tremendous separation anxiety problem. We spent all day Monday at the vet. I mean, he ripped out a 4 by 5 foot section of wall, including sheetrock and fiberglass insulation!

Then I paid a visit to my own doc. Bronchitis.

Norton is meeting with a behaviorist next week. I hope she can help us.

I just finished Marley and Me. Great, great book, even if I did bawl at the end. It's nice knowing my dog isn't the only nut that's ever existed.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A True Story...

Two kindergarten boys are sitting on the carpet. One says to the other, "I love you!"

The other one replies, "But I'm not a pretty girl!"

This happened last month and it was too funny not to share!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is the big 2-9. I'm eager to celebrate the last year of my twenties! Since Eric is working tonight and I wouldn't see him til late, he gave me my gifts last night. He got me two really awesome gifts.

The first is a pet goat. Well, sort of. Her name is Cathy and she's a rescue but she won't live with us. She resides at Farm Sanctuary and she'll thrive thanks to their care and Eric's $$$! She's one of these goats, not sure which one yet. I should be getting some color photos and adoption info within a couple of days.

Are you all wondering what my other gift is? Eric drove all over the place calling lots of different stores to get one for me. Then when he finally secured one, he traded in a lot of his precious dvds to be able to actually buy it for me!

It's a Nintendo Wii! Yippee! I'm having a very happy birthday so far!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Contest Results!

Thank you to everyone for participating in the contest! And the winner???

Drumroll please!

Jesser came the closest. She guessed 34 though our collection totals a whopping 58 or so cookbooks that we own! And that doesn't count Eric's boxes of recipes nor my collection of magazine recipe collections.

Jenn, you should have stuck with your original guess of 47! You would have been the closest!

Some of the cookbooks I bought. Some Eric bought me. Some he got from work for the mere cost of a donation. Some I got from library sales and some were gifts.

Jesser, email me your address so I can send you your prize!

What a Day

It's Monday. Boy, was I tired this morning. But I woke up and headed on my way to work at 6:30. Plenty of time to make it in on time. But then, I was twenty minutes from home when I realized that Eric left his keys in my car last night.

And, they were still there this morning. So I had to drive all the way back home. Then all the way back to work. The drive should have taken me an hour and ten, maybe.

I left my house at 6:30 and made it to work at 8:40. But its okay. Now, Eric can make it to work too.

Any last guesses on the contest? I'll be tabulating the results later on today after work.

Why can't we all just be friends?

Eric's boss gave him his Giants tickets for Sunday night since he was going to be away. So off we went Sunday night to Giants Stadium to see the New York Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles. I was excited--my second football game! And both just weeks apart from each other! We had great seats--we were high up but had a great view of the entire field.

And it was a terrific game. I mean, so I've heard. I tried really hard to follow the game. And, I'm trying to understand the game of football. But I was lost for 99% of the game. And, tired too.

What disheartened me about the whole thing was the rivalry between the Giants and the Eagles. I mean a little healthy competition is okay. But I couldn't believe the number of fights between fans and the way that the Giants fans jeered at the Eagles fans. Shouted at them to get out of their stadium.

On the way home, I told Eric that I'm not sure I'd let my kids go to these games if I had them! I mean is this what these fans are teaching their kids? Lets throw punches at your friends who are fans of the other team. Let's curse them out.

Why can't we all just get along?

Friday, September 28, 2007


I'm so happy it's almost the weekend. It's been a hectic week. We had Back to School night on Tuesday. On Wednesday night, I helped out friends in need and babysat their four (mostly sleeping) kids. This weekend, I'm just looking forward to spending time at home and relaxing. Getting stuff done around the house. We've got a Christening on Sunday. Maybe we'll make a trip to Trader Joes or Wegmans at some point over the weekend.

Eric said to me yesterday, "You know you're getting old when your idea of a fun Saturday is a trip to Wegman's."

I'd heard about the website Etsy and I checked it out for the first time yesterday. It's really a great site. An online marketplace of handmade things, all kinds of things from handmade jewelry to baked goods.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On a Baking Kick!

I've been feeling very domestic lately. Most of my free time at home consumes of cleaning, organizing, knitting and baking. I guess I'm nesting. Anyway, I made these very easy sourdough blueberry muffins Monday night. They came out good and not too sweet. You need a sourdough starter for these. I have an easy recipe for one if anyone would like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Fall!

It's a couple days late but Happy Fall! It certainly doesn't feel like Autumn today. Hot and sticky, in the mid-80's. I'm looking forward to those crisp, cool Autumn days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yum Yum

Yesterday, we went to a get-together at friends of Eric's family. I was asked to bring brownies so I decided to try out these chocolate crunch brownies. Very rich and very decadent! The brownies on their own were to die for--and then they were topped with some marshmallow fluff and a combination of Special K and melted chocolate chunks. They tasted like they were topped with crunch bars!
See the above link for the recipe. When I made the brownies, I left out the peanut butter and added extra chocolate chunks instead.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Contest!!!!

It's a contest! It seems that it's the cool thing to do these days if you're a blogger. So here's my contest. You can win...(gasp)...your very own monKEY! I will not tell you which color monKEY you will win. That is a surprise. Here's what you have to do to win. It's simple. Guess how many cookbooks Eric and I own. Leave me a comment with your guess. Whoever gets the closest WINS! You have until next Monday, October 1st to post your guess. Good luck!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Random Thoughts

What a scary world we live in these days. Schools were closed today in 10 Bergen county towns due to a bomb scare. Though my school was open, we had cops in our building in the morning inspecting for anything suspicious. They even inspected my classroom! We had our yearly lockdown drill today in which we lock our classroom doors and "hide" in our closets. We never had these type of things when I was a kid.

You can now play Scrabble online for free on the website Scrabulous. The site was blocked at work. Go figure. I tried from home. You register for free and then enter whats basically a chat room to find a Scrabble partner. Nobody wanted to play with me. I'll try another day.

My allergies are really awful. Head congestion. Sore throat. Tired. Eric thinks its due to the dust and other stuff I'm breathing in on a daily basis at school (due to the recent construction). I'm trying to fight it naturally. It never works for me though.

I read someplace today that you can now access The New York Times online without a paid membership. Yippee!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Color Orange are You?

You Are Cameo

You are understanding and very empathetic.
You don't tend to have acquaintances. Everyone is your friend.
And all of your friends tend to be friends. You have a knack for bringing very different people together.

My New Commute

Eric's friend told me a way to get to work in which I'd avoid a lot of the morning traffic. Its a distance of 43 miles each way. Ech. His way worked out just fine for me going home--it would take me an hour. But, going to work, has taken me 1 hour and 20 minutes in the morning. Not fun. So this morning, I went the way everybody has told me NOT to go. The way in which I'd hit a lot of traffic. It took me one hour. I guess I'm leaving early enough to avoid a lot of the rush.

The commute is so worth it when I'm driving to work and I get to witness a young buck (deer) grooming himself by the side of the road (or across the street from my house in this case). I love driving past lakes wrapped in fogginess.

It's worth it at the end of the day when Norton can run through the woods in our own backyard.


Monday, September 17, 2007

The Daily Bread

One of my very favorite places in the whole, wide world is Burlington, Vermont. I've been there many times in the past seven years. On my first visit there, I came across a little bakery cafe called The Daily Bread in the town of Richmond. This was a lucky find, I tell you. I was with my buddy, Dave, and I don't even know how we came across this place. We had coffee and the best home fries with cheddar cheese and tempeh. Perfectly spiced. This place was so yummy that on every visit to Vermont, I'd drive 20 minutes from Burlington to this little town for the home fries and blue corn pancakes.

On my last visit to Vermont, two years ago, my sister-in-law and I drove to Richmond. I raved about the amazing breakfast foods we could eat here.

But, the restaurant was gone. Don't you hate when that happens? I was devastated. But Lauren and I found another little bakery across the street called On the Rise. Whatever we had was very good but there was no room for sitting and eating in this bakery.

Eric and I made plans to go to Burlington, VT for a weekend in November and it got me thinking again about the Daily Bread. So I did some research.

I found an independently published cookbook called Made From Scratch, written by Betsy Bott, creator of The Daily Bread! And Eric ordered it for me! It arrived today! Its a wonderful cookbook, full of recipes and stories!

I also found out that On the Rise is owned by somebody who has worked for The Daily Bread for many years and many of the recipes are the same. And its now in a larger location with seating, Sunday brunch and live music at times. Yay!

Friday, September 14, 2007


When we got back from our trip to California, I looked for Mae on her post. But she was gone. Her little leaf is still there but there's no web nor signs of her. Has she run away? Did the recent storms wash her away? Maybe she needed a change of scenery. Our other resident spider, George, has disappeared too. Maybe they've run off together to start a family. We'll miss you, Mae!

Food Stamp Challenge

Yesterday, while I was at High Holy Day services, the president of our temple spoke about the Food Stamp Challenge. Anyone ever hear of this? Back in May, a bunch of lawmakers were challenged to take up the Food Stamp Challenge. They were given a budget of $21 a week to eat. Thats $3 a meal, 3 meals a day. The purpose was to see how difficult it really is to eat for that tiny amount of money per week. I can't imagine it. The other day I left my purse at home and when I left work I was thirsty and in desparate need of caffeine. So what did I do? Drive to Starbucks and pay for $4 frappucino with spare change. Do we have any idea of what it's like to be hungry? I mean really hungry, not the kind of hungry I was at 11 am this morning, 4 hours after having breakfast.

When I do a 25 hour fast for Yom Kippur, I understand the true meaning of hunger. I was thinking of trying this challenge for a couple days. But could I do it? Could I give up coffee and nice restaurants and take-out? Fresh fruits and veggies? Either way, it makes you think.

This year I will definately try to give more to my temple's annual food drive.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Football Sunday

The real reason we made the trip to the West Coast was for Sunday's Raiders vs. Lions game. There was a tailgate party first in the parking lot.

The game was fun but the Raiders lost. Here's the post I wrote during half-time.

Its halftime and i am at my first football game ever. The Raiders are down to the Lions. I am sporting a black and silver jersey that Eric got me from the Raider Image here in Oakland. I am trying really hard to get whats going on. Football is so much more complicated than I thought it would be. Its so mathematical. Yards and downs. Baseball is simple. Three strikes, you're out. But I guess you can say football is an exciting sport. I think I just need football for dummies. Maybe if I have a SuperBowl party this year I will actually pay attention To the game. On a side note we attended a fun tailgate party and the stadium has veggie dogs. Yummo!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I Heart San Francisco

We spent all day Saturday in San Francisco. First, the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building. I'd never seen such a huge farmers market! It was fantastic! We didn't buy anything other than a cheddar scone but I had loads of free samples!

After the Farmers Market, we took a streetcar to the touristy part of town, Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf. I didn't really care for all the touristy shops but wanted to see the pier, foggy views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate.

And the sea lions, of course!

We then walked the ten blocks or so to Ghirardelli Square for their 12th annual chocolate festival. Yum! You pay to get samples of chocolate--and all the proceeds go to a good cause.

We had dinner that night at The Stinking Rose. It's a garlic restaurant! Yum! Vampires keep out!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fine Wining and Dining

Eric and I got into the Bay Area Thursday night. We drove from San Francisco to Oakland in our silver Pt Cruiser rental and after a Japanese dinner, we settled into our temporary home away from home.

Friday, we woke up bright and early to make the one hour drive to Wine Country. You can spend days here--we didn't have the luxury of excess time--so we planned an afternoon outing of it.

What we saw of in the Napa Valley was just beautiful. Rolling hills and vineyards. I'd never seen so many wineries in my life! Thats obviously why they call it Wine Country!

I scoured a "Best of Wine Country" brochure for coupons. I had read that many wineries in this region manage to charge at least $15 for a tasting! Well with our clever planning, we got to try out the wine at three separate locations! For free!

Our favorite was Bouchaine. It was the first one we went to. We were actually able to sit out on a patio sipping our wine enjoying the breeze and the sun and gazing at the outside gardens and vineyards. It was heavenly. We liked the wine there so much that we plan on ordering a few bottles when we get home.
Pretty Gardens

Through the Wine Glass (I tried really hard to get this shot--and Eric got it right on his first try!)

Then we went to Jessup which keeps reminding me of Jesser--a blog I really enjoy reading! I like Jesser the blog better than Jessup the wine. Jessup mainly makes strong red wines and I favor whites.

Our last winery of the day was Napa Cellars. The wine was perfectly good here--but all of a sudden I got wined out! Couldn't drink any more!

Friday night, we drove into San Francisco for dinner. I made us reservations for a French Viatnamese restaurant called Le Colonial. It was my first time trying Viatnamese food and it was yummy, yummy, yummy! We liked it so much that we will probably try out Le Colonial's NY location soon!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

California Here We Come!

In a little while, we are leaving to catch our flight from Newark to San Francisco (with a layover in Charlotte :( .

Our main purpose of our weekend in the San Francisco area is to go to a Raiders game on Sunday. There's also some tailgating involved with other Raiders fans that Eric knows and a Raiders party Saturday night. Its my first football game too. Ever.

We're also going to Wine Country tomorrow. We'll spend Saturday exploring San Francisco and Sunday is the game.

Then Monday we'll fly home!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mae Update

Mae must have caught herself a gourmet meal of a wasp or a moth or something. Its pretty substantial looking and she's got it all wrapped up in silk. She was safekeeping it on her leaf all day and now she's going at it. She's not building her web tonight, it appears. I guess she doesn't need to catch any more bugs tonight.

Starbucks Rejection Tour

This morning when I was reading the paper, I read about this musician who calls himself DaVido who recorded a song, Java Jitter. DaVido wanted his cd to be sold at Starbucks but he was rejected. He then went on his "Starbucks Rejection Tour" in which he was then booted from 203 Starbucks for walking in and, without permission, performing his song. Here's the video and it's pretty damn funny.

Turtle Back Zoo

On Friday, Eric and I, along with Dave, Jenn and their four kids made our way to the Turtleback Zoo. We had a great time. It's a small zoo and we probably only spent three hours there. We got some great shots of the kids and Eric got a couple cute ones of me with some of them. Four kids under the age of five. Wow.

That's me with the oldest, Ben (5 1/2) and the youngest, Nate (1).

Here's the four of them.

Charlotte, then Ellie (twins--3) then Nate and Ben.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Our New "Pet"

I've blogged about the deer and the wild turkey. We've got a bear who I keep missing. I guess that's a good thing--though I am eager to meet him!

(By the way, did y'all know that deer hiss? Yup, its true. One hissed at me the other night!)

We've got lots of spiders too. The daddy long legs freaked me out at first but I'm growing used to them.

Then the other day, I noticed the most magnificent spider who spun a magnificent web between two trees in our front yard. She's not a small spider--thick in the abdomen with longish hairy legs. She's about an inch long--brownish reddish. At night, she sits in the middle of her large circular web.

When Norton and I go on our morning walk, her web is gone. She's curled up in an almost fetal position on a nearby leaf. Its almost cute.

Then at night, she's back on her web. Eric and I did some research on my pet spider, Mae.

To the best of our knowledge, she's a garden orb-weaving spider. She spins her giant web at night and takes it down by dawn. Thank goodness, they don't bite humans often and their bite is non-toxic.

However, the fright of this spider crawling across your face can cause heart attacks--especially if you're over 40. I'm not making this up.

Their life span is about a year.

Here's a pic of our Mae at night.

It was really hard to get a good picture of her at night. But thats the only time she's not curled up sleeping on her leaf.

Here's another pic I borrowed from this site.


My, oh my, what a crazy weekend it was. Saturday we had over Ashley and Joe, Ryan and Lauren, and my dad and aunt and uncle stopped by too. Because I'm absolutely crazy I decided to spend about 36 hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. We had:

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Homemade sourdough bread
Homemade gnoccis with vodka sauce

Of course we had dessert too. Ashley brought over a pudding pie (actually she brought the ingrediants and made it in my kitchen). Eric shocked me when he told me he was going to make a chocolate cake. And he did. And it came out very good. I was shocked because I'd never seen him do anything in the kitchen before. I HAVE told him on more than one occasion that I thought he'd be a very good chef. And I was right.

And I made cupcakes in ice cream cones. They came out cute. I think our dinner was a success.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Name Game

I stole this meme from Jesser. Steal it from me if you'd like.

1. YOUR SPY NAME: (middle name and current street name)
Lauren Carlisle

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandfather/grandmother on your mom’s side, your favorite candy)
Ruth Snocap

3. YOUR RAP NAME (first initial of first name, first three or four letters of your last name)

4. YOUR GAMER TAG: (a favorite color, a favorite animal)
Orange Moose

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Lauren Edison

6.YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (first 3 letters of your last name, last 3 letters of mother’s maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet’s name)
Bod Orn Nor

7. SUPERHERO NAME: ("The", your favorite color, the automobile your dad drives)
The Orange Ultima

8. PO.RNO NAME: (First Pet’s name, First street you lived on)
Raja Beech

9. YOUR ACTION HERO NAME: (first name of the main character in the last film you watched, last food you ate)
Doc Cream

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great Discovery

One of the things I love about living in a new place is discovering what's around--whether its a roadside farmer's market or coffeehouse. Eric told me about a cute little coffee place called Longfellow's Coffee that he checked out so we went back for lunch today. Yum. It's a small place on Route 15 in Jefferson and everything there is fresh. Sandwiches take 15 minutes to make because they are not "premade and heated." My iced sugar-free rasberry soy latte was amazing. They have a location in Kinnelon too. If you live locally, check them out!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our Office

A few days ago, this room was wall to wall boxes. It's pretty much unpacked now due to lots of hard work this weekend. We've still got to reorganize a bit and do some touch-up painting. This is the room where we keep our computers and most of our books. It also doubles as a second guest room thanks to a futon and comfy couch. We've also got a nice deck off this room. Sweet!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Our Living Room

Here's a couple pictures that I've been promising. Sorry if quality is kinda sucky. I used my camera phone because my real camera is in my car. I think.

Here's our living room. It has high ceilings, sky lights and almost a whole wall of windows (and one of the glass panels is a sliding glass door). The room is very light and airy, which I love. The couches are a merlot color and they were only six months old when I put them into storage--where they stayed for 3 years! I think they look good in this room.

Here's another pic. There's our fireplace. We have a lot of that natural wood throughout the house. It gives it a nice touch.

Public Radio that Rocks

The people that sold us the house left one of those under-the-cabinet radio/cd players in the kitchen. Even though I usually would listen to my iPod when cooking, I figured this device would come in handy. However, being that we are so far up in the mountains--we don't get great reception for New York radio stations. I'm an avid listener of WFUV, Fordham's public radio station that plays great music. But that does not come in here. I found a Stroudsburg, PA station that was just okay. Then I discovered WNTI, Centennary College's public radio station. I dig the music so much that Eric asked me yesterday if I ever turn that thing off! Rarely. I like to leave it on for Norton when I go out, too. Dogs like good music too!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We just love monKEYing around!

Shock of all shocks...a non-house related post! When Eric and I were in Miami, we had dinner in Coconut Grove one night. That Friday night was probably my favorite part about our trip. Not as touristy as Miami Beach. Eric posted about that night here...

So I left Eric holding my balloon monkey so I could look in a cool little shop. And I ended up purchasing these really cool little monkey covers for our keys. So far, we've only used 2 out of 6. I have the purple one and Eric, the grey.

So I've been meaning to write about these monKEYs for a while and today, I checked out Nicky's blog and she beat me to the punch!

Another Nasty, Disgusting Day

Yesterday, after the constant rain we had all day, we discovered that we had a bit of a chimney leak. The joys of being a homeowner. We've scheduled a chimney repairman to come out and hopefully its nothing major.

Today it didn't really rain much but it was cloudy and chilly all day. I went for a drive and then Norton and I went for a walk then a wander in the woods then a swim (for him, not me).

Then he went off running and came back filthy. Well at least we bought a hose...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rainy Day

I bet these two wish they could have stayed in bed all day!

It's cold and rainy. No long walks for Norton and I today.

But guess what? I just looked outside and counted eight deer, including two babies!