thoughts from New England

Time Flies! August 25, 2006

Filed under: garden,vacation — tim @ 11:08 am

Well, it’s been a while (again) since I’ve last updated. What else is to be expected when you go on vacation and have so much fun while doing it? We had a great time, but we learned a few things:

  1. we took too much stuff for Lil Pumpkin
  2. we took too much stuff for ourselves
  3. it’s hard to carry all that stuff
  4. pre-boarding rulz

We definitely planned on using more clothes than we actually did. We also planned on LP using more clothes than we did. I think in the future, the best way to vacation is to plan on spending a morning taking in the local culture at a laundromat. Or just doing laundry at the relatives’ place.

In any case, while we were on vacation, I received some terrible news from the neighbor who was watching our place! It seems that asstupid worm soon as we left, the dreaded Horned Tomato Worms decided to begin munching on my beloved tomato plants! I quickly looked up a solution and thankfully our wonderful neighbor went out and got some BT to spray on the plants. The grape tomatoes, which were already looking sad, had most of their leaves stripped but the fruit was mostly intact. The big ones also were afflicted but nothing too bad. Luckily they stayed away from the pepper plants and didn’t really eat them. Upon our return home, I surveyed the damage and saw that it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, as the fruits were still in full force on the plants.

The pumpkins and zucchinis, however, were still being eaten by that stupid bore that I can’t figure out how to get rid of this year. The pumpkin plants have almost completely died off, but the fruit remains on the vine, ripening and turning orange. So far I’ve harvested a few pumpkins, but the rest will be ready soon.

Hot peppers are still hearty, the Thai hots and the Cherry Bombs are coming in great! The Anaheims, Jalapenos and Cayenne are all close, and the Portugals just keep getting bigger, but not darker. Am I supposed to harvest them? I don’t know! All I do know is that I need recipes for hot peppers ASAP!


Portsmouth, NH and baby portability July 27, 2006

Filed under: baby,beer,eat & drink,fatherhood,food,vacation — tim @ 1:51 am

portsmouth brewery

So on Sunday night we headed up to Augusta, Maine as I had some work to do up there. Since H was still on maternity leave, we made it into a mini-vacation. On the way home we decided to stop off in Portsmouth, NH for a rest stop which turned into a scenic tour of historic downtown Portsmouth. Portsmouth is colonial in the truest New England sense — the houses are close together on cobblestone streets with the feeling that you’ll run into an olde timey sea captain around any given corner — which is my kind of city. It reminded me a lot of Salem, MA but without the kitchy witchcraft stuff.

We parked in one of the many huge downtown parking garages and headed down the main street towards the square. The streets are narrow with high buildings and Lil Pumpkin rode w/H in the Bjorn, which I need to plug as the greatest baby carrier a man could ask for, but that’s another entry. We had the Portsmouth Brewery in our sights as I’ve heard much about their crafty brews and wanted to taste for myself. They are also responsible for the oft-hailed (but personally under-sampled) Smuttynose Brewing Company, so needless to say I was excited. There was not much of a wait for the patio so we decided to take in the salty evening air on their enclosed patio.

What a great idea! The ambiance was perfect, and Pumpkin was able to sit comfortably in the Bjorn during our stay. I tried the Altbier first — a great choice for a hot summer’s day. H had the Cream Ale and enjoyed it as well. We both chose some decent pub fare (burger for me, salad & chowder for H) and relaxed in the evening. Since I wasn’t driving back, I enjoyed a Saison with my meal. Not as good as Harpoon‘s 100 Barrel Series Saison, but delicious nonetheless. It was a great ending to a great day. I picked up a pair of pint glasses to add to my collection — a Portsmouth and a Smutty!
One thing that I realized on this trip is just how much time babies add to your travel time. They need to be fed, burped, coddled, and changed. They will not always sleep when you want them to, and often times they will just freak out for no reason. We had fed her pretty well before leaving Portsmouth but she still had a meltdown between there and Hooksett (about a 45 minute drive). We pulled off at Target in Hooksett and performed some quick diaper changing (in my favorite spot — on the hood of the car!) and even though she bopped her head on the car door while I was holding her, she ended up okay. She’s become quite the squrimer in recent days — we bought her a handy-wrap swaddling blanket so she’d stay in it — not bloody likely. The EZ Swaddler works better than a blanket, but she still manages to pull a Houdini and get her feet and arms out of the blanket.

The other thing I realized on this trip is how much crap babies need — diapers, pumps, bottle equipment, clothes, swings, you name it. We decided to take the “travel swing” — what an oxymoron. That thing is so awkward, so cumbersome, it’s only worth travelling from your living room to the other side of the living room. It can’t easily fold up into a good shape to fit into a car unless you have a Gigandor SUV…oh wait, there’s our problem. Our car isn’t big enough to hold more crap.

It was a good thing we had this little getaway because we are now able to assess this and see how we can further streamline our travel before our upcoming trip to California!


canadian things March 31, 2006

A few notes on Canada:

– In Quebec on the French channels, Family Guy is translated into French — but it's called Les Griffin. The voices are obviously dubbed but they completely lack the accents of Lois or Cleveland or even Peter — they all strangely sound much more intelligent (especially Peter). Perhaps the accents they use are similar in nature to the grating Rhode Island accents, but I somehow doubt it. In any case, it's hysterical. So the theme song sings out "Nous! Sommes! Les! Grif! Fin!!!!!" at the end. Thank you, Quebec!

Tim Hortons completely blows away any other donut shop in both the donut and coffee categories. First, the donut: It melts in your mouth the same way a hot, fresh Krispy Kreme does, but the Tim's is superior in that it melts in your mouth while cool. This is an amazing work of fried doughery as the flavor is just outstanding. And in the coffee department, it's smooth, flavorful and bold without even a hint of bitterness. I take my coffee with just cream and they delivered near-perfection. Dunkin Donuts will have to do while here in the states, but Tim's just leapt into first place. While we were there, Tim's also just went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange, so I wish them well. Plus, it goes by Tim's, so that's something good for it as well.

– The St. Viateur Bagels are simply out-of-this-world. Sweet, chewy and light all at once. Words can't describe.

– Canada has a great road sign which I cannot find online, it's basically the 'no hitchhiking/bike riding on the highway' sign, but it looks like the guy is standing on his bike seat. I wish I had a picture, because once again, words can't describe.

– Canada has their own Discovery Channel, and on it they have a show called Canada's Worst Handyman. I'm not sure of the premise, but I think the title sums it up nicely. I don't know how you could lose at this game, but surely some of them are losing at being bad?

In short, our neighbor to the north has some grand things to offer us, and we should take full advantage (especially of their food and television). Tim Hortons is already open in many US states, so I can only hope they're coming this way soon! (It's only a matter of time).


Bienvenue! March 27, 2006

Filed under: consume,food,Granby,Montreal,rachel ray,vacation — tim @ 10:36 am

holy crap! this is here in townWe are here in wonderful Granby, Quebec, celebrating our one-year anniversary. Granby is about an hour north of the Vermont border, and about 45 minutes east of Montreal. It's a quaint little town that is really a good mix of charming New England village and old-world European charm. We got here Saturday afternoon and first stopped at a supermarche and stocked up on some breads, cheeses, fruits and the like for a marvelous spread. We're staying in a nice hotel and just relaxing, enjoying some time away. Saturday night was fun as we swam in the pool, cruised around town and scoped out where we'd go Sunday. Yesterday we did some shopping in the quaint little downtown; we went to a wonderful bakery (Pain Pain – Une Boulangerie Artisanale) and got some cute baby clothes. Huzzah! Then in the afternoon, we went to the day spa located inside the hotel and got massages. C'est fantastique!

The camera has decided not to work properly and will not turn on, which is a major disappointment because the view from our room is a mountain view that is incroyable. And by incroyable I mean it's of a mini-golf place with a giant mountain on top of it with a bear eating a soft serve ice cream cone. C'est tres magnifique! This picture to the right is from someone's photojournal, but it's here in town on the main drag.

Speaking of magnifique, here in the Eastern Townships it's 90% French, 10% English. All the people only speak francais and my French skills…eh….n'est pas fantastique. Most of the time their English, even when poor, is 10 times better than my French. Case in point: yesterday in the spa we ran into a maid and she engaged us in full-on French conversation. She was talking about how it was cold outside but warm inside the spa; and she asked if we were staying here in the hotel. I said yes, and then she asked if we were staying one or two nights, to which I replied "petit dejeuner" (breakfast).

Yesterday evening we went to dinner at La Casa du Spaghetti (which really was a wonderful Italian restaurant) and then followed it up with a trip to Granby's microbrasserieLe Grimoire. Delicious!
Today we head towards Montreal and get some world-famous Montreal-style bagels at St. Viateur's — we first heard of these by watching $40 a Day With Rachel Ray where she tried some of these. What makes them different? The bagel is boiled in honey-infused water and then wood-fired ovens bake the bagels! We're also going to go to Ben's Deli (not the Ben's above) to get some viande fumée — smoked meat that's unique to Montreal. If you've never had it, it's like a corned beef but with different spices, and one of my favorites. We're definitely taking some home to eat later.

Tomorrow we conquer IKEA and head home. Weekend vacations are great!

Updated the SPINS page for the week.