Friday, March 06, 2009

Things to write about

Since 2 years have lapsed since the last real post, I'm thinking I need to write about what took place and what I learned during those years. Keep in mind this is primarily for my own benefit - so I don't forget the details (and since I know no one is reading this).

So, here are some topics that are worthy of a few words in future posts:
- living in Vermont
- house & house updates
- landscaping
- gardening
- cooking
- what's new in the kitchen
- coffee
- beer & wine
- travels
- new toys
- photography
- work

I'm sure I'll add more, but at 1 post a week, that's already 3 months worth!!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

2 years...

I just noticed it's been 2 years since the last post to this blog. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Living in Vermont

About a week ago, a friend asked how things were going after my move to VT. Here's how I answered:
"Actually it's been fun - in a sadistic kind of way. In early Jan when it was warm (60's), the mud was deep and really difficult to get through - even with an all wheel drive Subaru. When the first snow hit, I drove half way into a ditch as I couldn't stop in time to avoid an on coming plow that I couldn't see over the crest of a hill. That was followed by numerous mornings (today included) waking up to temperatures from -10 to -20 below. Fortunately I had the pleasure of stacking 3+ cords of wood that allows the wood stove to run pretty much 24/7. Next is the 12-40 inches of snow tomorrow - I fully expect to lose power. I've yet to go snowboarding, but hope to get out either Fri or Sat, temperatures permitting."
The snow did come - I measured 26 inches on the back patio and all the area ski resorts reported 3-4 feet - but the power only went out for a few seconds. What I didn't expect was being stranded until Friday afternoon. The snow was too much for the guy that plows my drive so he had to arrange for a front-end loader to come up and do the heavy lifting. Not surprisingly, getting my driveway clean was not the town's first priority. Only had a bit of shovelling to do - clear out the mailboxes, in front of the woodshed, the patio (so Nuke can get out), access to the propane and in front of the garage where it was too close to the building to plow. Just as I was about to put away the shovel, I heard a rumbling sound and turned to see all the snow on top of the garage fall in front of the garage door. Time to shovel some more. All the while, Nuke stood guard to make sure I wasn't slacking off...

IMG_1872  IMG_1868

Then, the water drips started inside - nothing terrible, but enough to make you worry if its going to get worse. Especially since the roof was already known to be at the end of its useful life. I drove to pretty much every hardware store in a 30 mile radius in search of a snow rake to clear the snow off the roof, but everyone is sold out until today or tomorrow. So, I get a ladder and a shovel and see how much I can clear that way. Not too much. The roof is too slippery and steep to stand on, so I can only clear what I can reach from the edge. I guess I'll just have to put up with a few drips until I can get the roof replaced in the spring.

But, the reward for putting up with a bit of inconvenience is a great view across the Mad River Valley towards Camel's Hump.


And, in addition to settling in after moving all my furniture up in mid-January,


the new sink and countertops are also in place.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Moving to Vermont?

I guess I haven't posted much over the summer... But, there does appear to be some news to share. Everything appears to be going forward smoothly for a move to Vermont. The P&S was signed this week and I should know for certain after the inspection whether everything will move forward for a Nov 17 close. The new place is a 2-bedroom house on close to 20 acres in Moretown, VT - which is near Interstate 89 at about the mid-point between Sugarbush and Stowe. It will be quite a change from every other place I've lived - Barrington, Cambridge (college), Everett, Medford, Marblehead and Cambridge again. Not sure if I'll hate it or love it, but I definitely won't know unless I give it a try, so what the heck!

I should have an update with some pictures after the inspection on Monday, Oct 2nd.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Garden - update

The mutant strawberries are starting to appear.  I'm getting about 3-4 each day, but most are very small and/or oddly shaped.  However, the taste is incredible!  I just wish there were more/bigger berries produce each year!
Everything else that was planted seems to be doing (or recovering) ok.  The lettuce which was in the worst shape when planted seems to have recovered.  And the beans which I planted from seed have (mostly) sprouted.  The tomatoes, peppers and raspberries are all looking healthy as well (though much too early to tell how they will produce).
However, the lawn remains in rough shape with a number of weeds adding to the woes.  I think there is slightly more grass each week, but its really hard to tell.  We've certainly gotten enough rain so lack of water is not an issue!  I'll fertilize when Nuke goes on vacation in about a week or two just to make sure she doesn't get any in her tummy.

Kale and Avocados

The "challenge items" (a challenge item is something that I've never purchased or cooked before) in this weeks Boston Organics delivery are a bunch of kale and an avocado (among many other things, it also included cauliflower, but I think I've had that enough that I don't consider it a "challenge item" even though I've never purchased or cooked it before). 
Tonight I steamed the kale and served it with a bit of salt and a bit more pepper.  It was ok - certainly better than anything frozen, but not as good as some of the other things I've been making recently.  I think I'll try a stir fry next - adding a few more ingredients (garlic, soy, sesame) to make the taste a bit more interesting.
I also cooked (steamed) corn tonight in the asparagus pot and it came out pretty good for this early in the season (ie, its not native corn yet).  I also made it to 4 burners going the other night, though I think this was a bit too much as the combined portions were a bit too much for a single meal.

Procrastination - update

Making lists seems like a good way to overcome the procrastination.  Only problem is I keep putting off the making of the lists...  Oh well.  The way the stock market has been behaving its looking more and more like I'll have to return to work at the end of the summer (or at least much sooner than I originally thought - which was never).

Kitchen upgrade continues..

The upgrades in the kitchen continue.  Most importantly is the better food (with Boston Organics supplying a good portion of this each week).  This was followed by an upgrade to All-Clad for the pots and pans and almost a complete replacement for the spices.  So, what's left? 
Well, its time for a new set of knives.  After hours (and hours) of research, I came down to a choice between Wusthof (long shot), Global or Shun, with Shun being the favored choice.  But, just when I was about to head out to make a purchase, I found some additional information about some other Japanese knives and ended up getting a mix of knives from a number of makers - Tojiro (good value for the lesser used knives), Masamoto (Gyuto), Hattori (Santuko) and MAC (bread).  This of course required a number of other items as well - a new knife block (so I can keep a couple of the cheap knives or grow the collection in the future) and a sharpening stone.  I've also ordered a few new cooking books to add to the collection (mostly focused on technique and knowledge of ingredients - not recipes).
Hopefully I'll still have all my fingers the next time you see me.

The bike is back...

The bike repairs are done.  Only charges were for the parts - 2 spokes and the derailleur hanger.  They waived the tune & true fee ($50) which was nice.  I was kind of hoping they would as I suspect a bad initial tune could be a contributing factor.  Total for parts was about $30.  There are a few scratches to the rear frame, but nothing terrible.  It's just good to have the bike back (though it was good to get out running again for a couple of days).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quest for a decent cup of coffee...

The quest to make the perfect cup of coffee at home seems to be never ending.  I have purchased so many coffee makers over the years that it's comical.  Each time I go to Europe, I'm amazed at how good the espressos are and come back with renewed energy to try to replicate the same in my house.
The most recent addition was a $30 device called the Aeropress.  Given the low price and strength of reviews, I figured it was worth a try.  After a number of weeks, I'm not impressed.  I've tried a number of different coffee beans and the only thing that has come close to producing a decent cup of coffee are the Starbucks dark roast beans.  But even that was no where close to the best cups I've had.  I'll likely use it to finish off the various beans that I have on hand and then it will be relegated to the basement where it joins a number of others.
Once that happens, the Philips Senseo becomes the primary coffee maker.  The coffee it produces isn't great, but it isn't terrible and its extremely easy, it heats up very quickly and there is no cleanup which are all huge plusses.  As a bonus, the water is a good temperature for green teas (though I prefer a bit hotter) and the serving size is perfect for instant oatmeal (though the oatmeal still needs a minute or so in the microwave).  I purchased a number of pods for it, hoping that one or more would produce that elusive perfect cup.  But this hasn't happened yet.  So, when all the pods are used up (which will be a while), it will be time for another decision - do I buy more pods?  Do I bring the Rancilio Silvia espresso maker back up from the basement?  Do I use the Santos vacuum pot?  Or do I start the search all over and look for something new?

Garmin Edge GPS Annoyance

With the bike in the shop, I decided to go for a run yesterday and thought it would be fun to bring the GPS along to track elevation, speed, etc.  I waited until I was outside before turning the unit on and gave it a few seconds to get a fix.  After about 30-seconds, it didn't have a fix, but I was ready to go so I figured I'd start running and it would eventually get everything sorted out in a minute or two.  Wrong. 
Apparently, the Garmin Edge 305 needs to be stationary while it tries to get its initial satellite lock.  Even moving at jogging speed seemed to put it into an endless search where it could never get a lock on more than 3 satellites.  I'm guessing the situation was made worse by the unit being turned off where the bike broke and then turned back on again about 20 miles away (I think its optimized to re-acquire satellites when turned back on in the same location it was last turned off).  Even so, you would think it would be able to get a lock on a nice clear day while moving at such a slow pace.
So, now there are 2 things to remember with this device.  Don't start moving until it has a satellite lock and remember to hit the start button when you want it to start tracking your movement. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Soccer World Cup

I'm not sure why, but I'm starting to get excited about this years World Cup.  Maybe its getting a lot more press than usual.  Maybe its a result of spending a few nights in various bars and pubs in Europe watching the games with the locals.  But, whatever the reason, I'm looking forward to seeing some good matches in the coming weeks.  The US vs. Italy game at 3pm on Sat the 17th should be great fun!  Hopefully the US can survive the group they're in and make it to the next round.  If not, I'm sure there will be another underdog that will be fun to root for.