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Not now, sadly. Not in the too near future, unfortunately. But, yes, the end of May this year will see my first vacation in a while (Christmastime is never a vacation and almost always more work and stress than it should be.) So, where am I going, you may wonder? Tahiti? France? India? Brazil? No, no, nowhere like that. Actually, Stephen and I are going to California. He’s never *really* been to L.A. and I’d love to go back and have time there that isn’t interrupted with candy canes and tree decorating and obligatory good tidings (kidding). I have a lot of hopes for this little vacation and hope to make the very best of it and hope to have plenty of time to relax and remember some of my favorite L.A. haunts and fall back in love with the place with my best boy at my side.

The 405... We love it!

The 405... We love it!

I’m so excited that I’ve even started to think of a little itinerary of all the wonderful things we can do while we’re there. So maybe not TOO much time for relaxing, but LOTS of time for fun!

News update:
Saturday night Stephen, Iain, Silena and I were graciously invited to a wonderful dinner at Fran LaVilla’s house in the country (DeMossville, Kentucky to be exact!). While Fran is one of my dearest friends, we don’t see each other nearly enough and I’d never had the pleasure to venture out to her little corner of the world. I am so glad I did. Her family is charming and wonderful and her mom is an outstanding cook! We sat around and shared stories and laughs, mostly and I personally tried to take in as much beauty as I could. Their view is phenomenal and the house is adorable and incredibly well designed. Oh, that kitchen, that kitchen, that KITCHEN! I think I’d definitely like to have a living arrangement in the country someday. And in such a unique and beautiful house. But in talking to Stephen about it “living in the country” transforms into “moving to the south of France or Northern Italy or Greece.” Which I don’t mind, he encourages my fantastical side.

What else, what else…

Oh, last night I made Stephen and I an absolutely fantastic dinner. And I am only bragging because it took four freakin hours! And because my mouth is watering over the thought of having leftovers for dinner!
It was a fresh kalamata olive/lemon/anchovy tapenade and homemade bread, a greek salad with homemade dressing, Turkish Rice (cinnamon, butter, onions, long grain rice tossed with pine nuts and raisins), and a Moroccan Lemon and Olive Chicken. Oh man, oh man, oh man! It was pretty delicious.

Annnd, big surprise, I’ve started yet another working out resolution. Seeing as we will be in California in less than two months AND I will have to wear a swimsuit at some point during that trip, I am going to work out at least four days a week, every week, until we leave. But don’t count on me consuming hardly ANY diet friendly foods while in California. In N Out, anyon

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Autumn is now within sight on the calendar. Pretty soon it’s going to be too cold to step outside without a sweatshirt and just the perfect temperature for extra blankets and splurges of hot chocolate.

Last Autumn I had the massive pleasure of visiting Mrs. Tracy Kay and her Husband, Cameron, in their beautiful new home just outside of Washington DC. While I was there Tracy and I splurged on our love of all things pumpkin, including pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin beer (accompanied by AMAZING seafood) and pumpkin pie pudding.

And as I sit at my desk and start to plan my storytime activities for the fall I can’t help but develop autumn-time cravings for these treats.

In fact, tonight I am going to walk to Kroger, buy one can of pumpkin, some snack packs of pudding and make the Pumpkin Pie Pudding that got me through last Autumn. Delicious.

Here’s how it shakes down:

1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

1 snack pack of vanilla pudding (I tend to go for fat-free or sugar-free)

Nutmeg, Cinnamon and All Spice to taste

Mix those bad boys up in a bowl and if you’re feeling especially brave, you’ll toss on some whipped topping (if you want to be “good” about it, go with some FF or SF Cool Whip)

This has come to define Autumn for me right along side pumpkin seeds, blustery days and apple cider. Sing it from the mountain tops. Pumpkin Pudding is Back in Town.

 

UPDATE: Last night Phen and I shared a bowl. Yum-E.

Whenever you relocate to a region, one of the most exciting things to try is the local flavors and specialties. You tend to ask your first friends what the area is holds culinary fame for and they will give you a list. When I first moved to Cincinnati, the three things that were really stressed towards my palette were Graeter’s Ice Cream, Montgomery Inn BBQ and Cincinnati Chili (which can be purchased at Skyline Chili, Dixie Chili, Gold Star Chili, or a random sprinkling of other small-scale eateries.)

Yum.

Yum.

Graeter’s Ice Cream was one of the first things that I tried in moving to the area. And I loved it. Not only because I love ice cream, but because I feel like it’s quality and also an experience. Of course I’ve heard that there is “better” out there, and I am sure there is. I mean this is coming from the girl who prefers Rite Aid ice cream to Cold Stone any day of the week back in good old Calabasas, California, U.S.A. But Graeter’s is good. I’m not crazy about this Raspberry Chip thing that you all seem to love, but it’s not anything personal. I’d just rather the chocolate or the raspberry on its own. No big. I’ve always been a classic vanilla girl anyways. And something being better than Dreyer’s/Edy’s? Get real.

My good friend George and I grab some ribs to go.

My good friend George and I grab some ribs to go.

Montgomery Inn was a food that I looked forward to a taste test of, but being as I don’t eat out too much and when I do it’s not to anywhere too swank or expensive because, well, I’m poor, it didn’t happen too quickly. But, a few weeks ago when Stephen’s good friend Louis was in town, in an extremely sweet gesture, he took me and Stephen there for dinner. It was quite delicious and I get why it’s such a big deal. Well done, Cincinnati. Well done, Montgomery Inn.

But… Here’s the one that we’re just not going to reconcile.

Nope.

Nope.

My introduction to Cincinnati Chili was in June 2007 when my brother Iain and I were visiting the area and looking for a place to eat. Skyline was recommended by a local, and though I am generally opposed to any kind of fast food, I took into consideration Iain’s affinity for chili and my hunger pangs and we booked it to a Skyline in Newport. As I said previously, I really don’t like fast food and the photos and presence of how they were making this food didn’t make it any more appetizing, so I ordered a side salad while Iain ate the 5-way. I tried a bite and didn’t know what to make of what was in my mouth. Sweet? Cinnamon? Spaghetti? It certainly wasn’t any representative of the chili I had grown up eating, but in any case, I didn’t like it. Iain wasn’t crazy about it either, but he ate his plate and we moved on. There. I had tried Cincinnati Chili and wasn’t crazy about it. Didn’t have a desire to try it again. Moving on.

And so it went. I had gotten along just fine without digesting it, and every time someone found out I wasn’t from the area and needed to know if I had tried Cincinnati Chili I’d explain that I had but wasn’t crazy about it. “BLASPHEMOUS!!! How could you NOT LIKE CINCINNATI CHILI!? Well, maybe you’ll like Gold Star.” Nope. “Just don’t think of it as Chili.” Well, it’s still gross… soo…

Aside from the fact that it’s fast food, which I hate, and a pretty low form of it at that, it just doesn’t taste that good to me. And I’m not going to subject myself to it just because it’s something that everyone else likes and is convinced I will one day like. Sorry. No can do. Moving along. There’s just no need to eat that.

So, go ahead. Eat your Cincinnati Chili and enjoy it. I hope you do. But in the meantime, let’s just make peace over the fact that some of us just don’t dig it as much, capiche?