Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things to do in York, Pennsylvania

So a few days ago, the monkey and I returned from a one-week trip to York, Pennsylvania. I had looked online for some ideas on things to do, but only found some pretty generic ideas. After a week of spending time with family and checking things out, here are a few ideas for things to do on a visit.

Explore Amish Country
Lancaster County, just a few miles from York, is a great place to explore.  The countryside is peaceful and green, with lots of cool, albeit touristy shops.

The monkey sure liked this old wagon though.

But the shops have lots of cool crafts, like the world famous Amish quilts...

and some pretty good food. Anyone up for some homemade sauerkraut?

These pretty bottles of extracts would make nice gifts too, don't you think?

Go to 'Market'
Every Friday, my family in York visits the Eastern Market. Housed in an old warehouse, this place is only open on Fridays and is a meeting place, cafeteria, craft store, farmer's market and tourist destination all rolled into one.

We flew back home on Friday, but we made sure to stop by 'the market' to pick up all of the York foods we had to bring back, like soft pretzels.

These are nothing like the ones in the mall, believe me. They are chewy and soft and filling, and they freeze very well (hence the dozen I brought back in my suitcase.)

And then there are the sugar cakes which crumbled into a mess in my bag, so no pictures. But these are soooo good, great with coffee in the morning.
A real York dish is this Chicken Pot Pie, which I don't eat (being vegetarian,) but my family said this stuff was awesome.

Still, there were more than enough things to tempt me here...

Are these hamburger buns or something else called Hamburg rolls? Who knows.
And to top it all off, I found this awesome pin for $2!

And two jars of buttons for $3!

Relax and unwind in a quiet neighborhood

I was lucky enough to have my grandmother's house from which to go out and explore. But I wasn't prepared for how much I would love her neighborhood. The maple-lined streets, the symphonies of birds, the fireflies, the neighbors who brought over food and smiles...Pennsylvania was such a warm and welcoming place to be.  Jack and I went for lots of walks.

I always forget how different the architecture is out East. All the red brick is so pretty.

And now that we're back in California, all I do is dream about being back there. I guess that means it was a good vacation.  And next month--Hawaii. I love vacation season!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cocoa brownies

I love brownies, especially ones that have a deep, dark, cocoa-y flavor. I rarely make them from scratch though--for a few reasons. One-I am usually horrified by the amount of butter that goes into an 8-inch square pan. I read a recipe and just say to myself 'yeah, there's no way I can allow myself to eat these.' Two-why make them from scratch when the ones from a box aren't all that bad? I know, I know, and I call myself a baker.

But this recipe has me sold on the homemade variety. The deep cocoa flavor and dense fudgy texture are awesome. They are not as easy to make as the boxed ones, but they definitely taste homemade, and that's what I'm all about.

I would never make cookies out of a box, so why brownies? Plus, I think half the reason I bake is the enjoyment of the process, not necessarily the outcome. And there's just something in me that feels wrong when I rip the top of that box open and dump the sugary powder into a bowl, add some eggs and oil and voila--a half hour later get brownies.

So come on, let's make homemade brownies! Here's the recipe. If you require more incentive--not only do these brownies freeze very well, all the ingredients can be found in your kitchen right now. I promise.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A wedding and a trip

Today my husband and I are going to a wedding. It's going to be one of those sprawling country weddings with meadows and a creek--the kind of wedding I always wanted. I am sooo excited! Plus, my sister is doing the wedding cakes, so I have legitimately delicious cake to look forward to, not the usual pretty but dry and kind of gross cake that most people have. 

And tomorrow, Jack and I fly to Pennsylvania for a family reunion. This will be his first time on an airplane and I am a little bit nervous. I've downloaded checklists for traveling with a toddler, and have compiled a master list which I will post soon.  Before going, I searched 'things to do in York, Pennsylvania' and found this funny video.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My favorite breakfast...lately

Before I had my lovely son and became a full-time mom, I held many serving jobs. Oh yes, the soul-sucking serving job. Don't get me wrong, I have friends in the city who don't really mind waiting tables (probably made all the sweeter by the $250-plus in cash they take home every day.) But that crap was not for me. One thing that I hated about serving was the schedule: you walk into the restaurant, run around like a chicken with its head cut off for eight hours and you leave--frazzled, sweaty and generally pissed off. Or I did at least. There are people out there who do it with grace but that was never my style, I would lose it over someone who would ask for a straw and then wait for me to bring it before they'd ask for the ketchup. Retards.

Anywho, another thing I really disliked about the serving industry was the way the managers at these places somehow got to make us work eight plus hours at a time with no break. What the?? Isn't that illegal? No lunch/smoke/coffee/call your boyfriend to cry and complain about how much you hate your job break? Again, so lame.  So before one of these fanatical shifts I would have to put something in my tummy that would keep me going for hours without stopping. Now mind you, I'm a hungry girl and nothing out there can fill me up for eight hours (except maybe lead, which I never tried) but this healthy breakfast made me smile before the bastards had the chance to take it out of me.

First I start with toast.

Then, I slather on some nut butter, this stuff is my favorite.

Ok, so you've got your toast and butter-- in this case, almond butter. Peanut is totally worthy too.

Then I add some sliced apple...

In this case, day-glo apples if you've got them. The apples cut down on the sticky nut butter and add a nice juicy crunch. Plus, you're working towards that five a day that we're all supposed to be having.

A healthy breakfast=healthy outlook, right? Plus this snack is nutritious enough to share with my monkey, which is an added bonus since he simply must try everything his mama eats.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May Day in Geyserville

This weekend was beautiful and warm and we celebrated this gorgeous spring at the local May Day Festival. One of my favorite things about living in a small town is community events like this. We met some friends and shared a potluck picnic, some laughs and some very yummy chocolate cherry cookies.

One of the highlights of this year's festival was the dance around the Maypole, performed by a local third-grade class. I've never seen a maypole dance before, but this one was exactly as I'd imagined it would be: children dancing in a field, weaving these beautiful ribbons around and around the pole.

The kids seemed to love it...

And this is how the Maypole looked when all the dancing was over. Pretty, no?

Our little monkey especially enjoyed the dancing by Ballet Folklorico...

Ahhh, small town living.