Thursday, November 22, 2012

Too Much Food!! (Happy Thanksgiving!!)

Kristen says...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Also, Happy Birthday to my sister Michelle, my sister-in-law Katie, AND my cousin Madden!

I hope everyone is enjoying sleeping off their Turkey-hangover...we certainly are!

We have actually been full basically all week...we started the Thanksgiving glut a little early...

We have passed the 5-month mark since Chris started his training, and some of his classmates are heading out to post as early as this next week, so the good-bye parties have begun. We started this past weekend with High Tea at the local Ritz Carlton hotel...and oh my, was it good!!

Not only was there tea...
 But there were also tea sandwiches...

And that was the came the dessert...

Most of the people got their desserts served on multi-tiered serving trays, but since I have a tree-nut allergy, they brought me my own, individual, nut-free plate...
 And my own individual serving of nut-free CREME BRULEE!! SOO GOOD!!!
 So this was basically my lunch...
 This is what the bottom of the chocolate-dipped strawberries looked like...
 And this was our last course...I couldn't even eat it I was so full!
 It was beautiful, but WAY too rich...

So basically I was full from that experience for most of the week...and then came today...

We had planned to be in Iowa today but had some things changed in our schedules and now it seems we will be home for Christmas instead (yay!) so at the "last minute" we ended up being here for the holiday...not that that meant we missed out, because we were invited to TWO Thanksgiving feasts, one that started at 4:00, and one that started at 5...needless to say we had no shortage of food. :)

While I can't claim Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I do appreciate the ability to legitimately make some foods that normally don't show up on my table...

For example, NOODLES!!

These have long been my favorite part of both Thanksgiving and Christmas; my Grandma's noodles. Of course, Grandma was busy making noodles for God today, so I had to make them for myself. This was made considerably easier by a nice friend who loaned me her rolling pin, since mine is packed away in storage.

Another favorite Thanksgiving/holiday food for me is pie. EVERY year for many years I spent the day before Thanksgiving baking pies with my other Grandma. Since she was making pie for God today (it's a sad trend in my family...), and since I had the rolling pin, I decided to make my own pie crusts as well, instead of using the Pillsbury ones I bought.

I also didn't have a pastry blender, but thankfully I learned how to blend pastry without one at Living History Farms (seriously, that internship was one of the most worthwhile things I did!).

 Chris specifically requested pumpkin pie since he wouldn't be home to have his mother's, and I specifically requested French Silk, and used my third Grandma's recipe...luckily she is still around for me to call and ask questions to, and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I even made my own whipped cream!

I also made two corn bread casseroles, one for each of the Thanksgiving feasts we was a good day, but I am WAY too full...

Still, it was fun to have the time and reason to make delicious food!! (Much more fun than spending the day studying Russian!)

The best part for me is that now I can listen to Christmas music without people looking at me like I'm crazy!! :)

Excuse me while I start decorating for the holidays... :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Veteran's Day Weekend in DC (and surrounding areas!)

Kristen says...

Hello again!

I have really had a veterans-filled last couple of weeks! Of course, I had the delightful visit from my veteran Grandpa (and my mommy!) when he came on his Honor Flight in October, and this past Monday we had the day off to celebrate the sacrifices of those veterans on the Veteran's Day holiday!

Thank you Veterans!!

We celebrated the weekend with friends and on our own...

On Saturday a group of Chris' classmates and we went to the Air and Space Museum's "companion facility" out by Dulles was the first time I'd seen that museum and it was pretty neat! I especially appreciated it since my Grandpa was in the Army Air Corps during WWII and they even had the type of plane he flew at the museum! They also had historic information about the War and the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first of the two atomic bombs on Japan.

We also saw more recent airships:

So big!! I had to go way high just to get most of it in the picture. It had a really interesting texture--it looks like a patchwork quilt!
We were all bemoaning the loss of the Concorde and thinking about how much more quickly we would get to post if they were still flying!

We also had a little bit of fun in the Gift Shop...

The next day we decided to go to Annapolis, MD, mostly because Chris wanted to drive our NEW CAR!! (see below) and because neither of us had been to Annapolis before. So we went!

Annapolis is a beautiful city! And very pedestrian and dog-friendly. We had a nice breakfast and bought an apple and apple cider at a small farmer's market near the wharf, and were treated to patriotic displays by midshipmen from the US Naval Academy:
Later we walked over to the US Naval Academy and went through the Visitor's Center there. It was during that stop that Chris and I heard a small group of people speaking...ПО-РУССКИЙ! (RUSSIAN)! :)

I told Chris that I kind-of wanted to say hi, since I can kind-of speak Russian, and he encouraged me to do so, so I did...and I kind-of sounded like a moron, (I said, (I think) "Excuse me, are you speaking Russian?) but we had a nice, short English conversation with a nice man from the Ukraine who was, indeed, speaking Russian with his friends. :)

They were looking at this...
...which is the name tag on the suit worn by one of the astronauts aboard the Мир (Mir) Space Station.

So that was not as successful as I wanted it to be (as we were walking back to the car I kept saying to Chris the things I should have said instead of what I did say) but at least I tried.

Anyway, on the way to Annapolis, I made the suggestion that Chris and I go to Hershey, PA "on our way home" (haha it was two hours north of Annapolis, so it was a random way to go home!) and he agreed, so we did!

We had a great couple hours at Hershey World; we took a "factory tour," saw a 3-D film with dancing chocolate, and even got to make our own custom bars:

Mine was milk chocolate with semi-sweet chips. Chris' was milk chocolate with pretzel bits. They were delicious!! We also purchased two HUGE peanut butter cups and some bite-sized candy...and we even have a bit of of it left! :)

We saw something really cool when we left Hershey, something I hadn't seen before:
If you've never seen it either, I'll tell you what it's a car-charging station!! Way to go Hershey!

Of course, neither of our two Veteran's Day trips would have been possible without this little beauty:
Our NEW CAR!!!
We purchased it (it's a Toyota RAV4, in case you're interested) the Saturday before, and we have had so much fun being able to drive it around!!

Chris also had another milestone this past week...he "graduated" from school (even though he still has a few more weeks of class!)
Isn't he handsome?
I also bought a new coat! It's black, hooded, and supposedly "waterproof"...I'll believe it when I see it...

So that's what's been happening in our neck of the woods...

I continue to take Russian classes 5 days a week...I feel that it is going pretty well, but we'll see. I scheduled my final test for a few days before we leave to go to Russia, so I will be interested to see how well that goes...luckily I only have the pressure I am putting on myself to do well, and not the pressure of having to preform for a job! :)

I hope your Veteran's Day weekend was long and relaxing! :)