Friday, August 21, 2009

Day trip exploring the Hudson Valley

The Hudson River Valley is absolutely beautiful. There are so many little towns and farms spread out along the river and tucked away in the Catskill Mountains. Last Saturday we decided to head south and go check a few of these places out.
Adam and Gavin looking out at Catskill Point...

Our first stop was to Catskill, NY. It's a tiny little town situated right on the river bank. We saw that there was a Farmer's Market going on and decided to stop and check it out. It's been so humid the past couple of weeks, but Catskill point had a perfect breeze that made it much more enjoyable to walk around. The view from the point is incredible and Gavin had so much fun running around this little park.
From Catskill, we headed to the town of Woodstock. I did not realize that the music festival did not actually take place in Woodstock proper, but instead was held in the town of Bethel, which is about 60 miles away. Apparently, organizers could not find an open space large enough so they had to move the festival at the last minute. Woodstock is just an awesome little village. It obviously draws a lot of tourists, but the town still has such an artsy feel- tons of little shops, galleries and restaurants. We grabbed lunch at a little place and sat outside on the patio. The food wasn't much to speak of, but the energy was infectious. There was a big flea market while we were there. I've decided that flea markets, in reality, are just giant yard sales where people charge way too much for crap they should really just throw away. I did pick up a cool ring- I love my costume jewelry!
This is outside a little store selling all kinds of peace, love, and happiness paraphernalia... had to take a pic of Janice Joplin! I resisted the urge to buy a tie-dyed shirt... probably a wise choice!
We would have stayed longer in Woodstock but it was nearing 100 degrees with high humidity- so we took to our air-conditioned Volvo and headed out. Next stop was Rhinebeck- Gavin actually slept through this stop as we pushed him in the stroller while we admired the small town. Rhinebeck is home to Beekman Arms, said to be the oldest inn in continuous operation in the country. It's really beautiful, as are the gardens surrounding it. Next time, I'd like to have lunch at the inn. Apparently, both George Washington and FDR have either stayed or eaten lunch there. I just love that sort of trivia.
Rhinebeck, NY
Our final stop was downtown Hudson. Warren Street is lined with historic buildings and beautifully painted brownstones that house various antique shops and galleries. We didn't go into any of the shops, but just admired them from outside. Instead, we grabbed ice cream to cool off and then checked out the public art display of painted dogs! Below are pictures of a few of the buildings in Hudson and some of our favorite dogs!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Julie & Julia

So I went and saw the movie, Julie & Julia, a couple of nights ago after just finishing the book. The movie is actually adapted from both Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, and Julia Child's My Life in France. For those who are not familiar with the story- Julie Powell was living in Queens and feeling like an unaccomplished, almost 30 year-old. For some reason, she decides to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and write a blog about it. (All I could think while reading the book was, why, oh why, did I not come up with that idea!?!) Anyhow, she started this project in 2002 when blogging was just starting to take off. In the actual book, you'll find that Julie is a bit more crass than Amy Adams portrayed her in the film. My guess is that her sailor's mouth language wouldn't have translated as well in film. I'm not going to lie, a few F-Bombs here and there don't really offend me and actually, by the end of the book, made her more endearing to me. Obviously, cooking your way through Julia Child's recipes is going to result in some serious flops, wasted ingredients, and well, some F-Bombs. (Even if you just think it in your head, let's be honest.) Over the year that she worked on this project, she developed a loyal readership that eventually led to her writing a book and getting a movie deal. It's a pretty incredible story really.

Likewise, Julia Child has an incredible story of her own. I am currently reading, My Life in France and don't yet know her story aside from what was portrayed in the movie. I've owned the book for years and decided I needed to break it out after seeing the movie. Julia got married later than most people, late 30s and moved to Paris with her husband while he was working for the government. She decided that she needed something to do and enrolls in culinary school although she knew absolutely nothing about food, other than of course, loving to eat it (the most essential element to being a good cook). She and two friends decide to write a French cookbook for American home cooks, which takes them a very long time, but eventually becomes Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Obviously, the book is a huge success and Julia Child becomes one of the most beloved cooks in the world.

Both stories are just awesome. Each woman found success through a passion for food and their stories are inspiring. At the very least, the movie made me want to make Beef Bourguignon, which I will be making just as soon as fall arrives. For those of us who love to cook, we can relate to these women because we find success, no matter how minimal it may seem to others, in the kitchen. There may be days when I feel like I have no idea what I want out of my life, but when I get to the kitchen, I can at the very least, take out a few ingredients and make something truly satisfying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Priest Lake, Idaho

Gavin and I just returned from a trip out west to visit family and go on my family's annual trip to Priest Lake, Idaho. I wasn't going to make the trip but changed my mind at the beginning of June when the urge was too great to resist. Priest Lake is filled with so much tradition and has left me with so many memories that I felt that it was important for Gavin to experience it. Unfortunately, Adam was not able to join us because his anesthesia program just began in early July. Although, I can tell you, Priest Lake has become one of his beloved vacations as well.

My grandfather has been going to the lake since he was a little boy. His family started going over 60 years ago, maybe even around 70 years ago. (He told me the exact number, but I was already a few glasses of wine in and can't recall.) He told me the stories of years they had to miss because of World War II and the rationing of supplies that resulted. Those years, gas was limited and even rubber for tires was hard to come by! He missed most of the 50s due to work obligations, marriage, and other things that many in my family have missed the trip for. My first trip was 20 years ago when my mom met my step-dad. I've missed a few years due to similar obligations but it's never without regret.

So what is so special about Priest Lake? Well, for one thing, it really is beautiful. The lake is surrounded by hillsides and mountains. But, aside from it's natural beauty, I really think it's the memories that bring families back year after year. We stay at Hills Resort, and by resort, I do not mean it's comparable to an all-inclusive Club-Med. The resort is made up of rustic cabins that rarely change- we're all excited if we get a new screen door! The cabin that my immediate family stays in leaves quite a lot to be desired. I think my sisters have slept on the same pull-out hide-a-bed for almost ten years now (sometimes it really does pay to be the oldest!) There are no televisions and cell service is sketchy. Instead, we play Yahtzee and cards and just enjoy each other's company.

There are about twenty or so of us that go to the lake each year - give or take a few. The trip begins on Saturday morning at the ridiculous hour of 6:30am. Earlier, if you live on the peninsula and have to catch the 5:20 ferry. We meet at the Krispy Kreme in Issaquah- it used to be the Arco station but we upgraded several years ago. We get our doughnuts and then head east on I-90 until we get to the Indian John rest stop. We call this our "Farkle Family Caravan." Just wait, it gets better. After that quick bathroom break, we meet up in Spokane for breakfast- the restaurant changes frequently as many go out of business or just plain suck. Don't even get me started on our trip to Golden Corral a few years back. Can you say BARF-O-RAMA!?! After breakfast, we head over to Costco. This is my least favorite stop- something about 20 of us following each other around with shopping carts is just too much for me. But, for some of us, the complaining about the caravan is also part of the tradition! After Costco, we hit the Safeway for the remaining items and then we finally head for the lake. We typically arrive at around 3:30 or 4:00pm. (Did you do the math?)

Kidding aside, the shopping trips are necessary as we eat many of our meals in. The menu rarely changes, we typically eat out two or three times during the week and the remainder of the meals are in. The first night is often spaghetti or lasagna (we changed this up once or twice with enchiladas). We have Taco Salad Night, Hot Dogs on the Beach Night, and Flank Steak with Ranch Rice Night. I used capital letters to emphasize how permanent and official this really is. For some reason this really works for us and we all laugh about, but also love, these traditions.

My family has bonded over these trips to the lake. As kids, my cousins and I would play and make up skits to perform for the adults. We'd jump off the dock and still do. We've since brought our boyfriends, fiances, and husbands, and now, my little boy Gavin. Nothing really changes- the guys golf in the morning; the babies eat sand; the kids have to be pulled out of the water; there's always a fun island to float on; cocktail hour is around 4; and our feet are always black from the sand. It's funny because when I look at the pictures - they are just slightly different than the year prior. Here are some from this year's trip- I feel really lucky to have such a wonderful family and a great place to make memories.

Bonding while watching a thunderstorm.
What it's all about!
My wonderful grandparents that keep this tradition going strong.

My beautiful Heitlauf cousins
Gavin looking hip in his auntie's shades!

Gavin made his Aunt Julie chase him around and got a huge kick out of it!