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Delicious Lemony Yellow Cake, not yellowcake.

I am reminiscing about Sacramento. I miss my friends, my routines and my wonderful neighbor Mrs. Breene’s meyer lemon tree. Shortly after we first purchased our home in Sacramento, our lovely neighbor gave us a couple of slices of a yellow cake that she made. It was a simple yellow cake with fresh squeezed fresh lemon juice over the top. So moist, with a sweet taste with just a touch of sour. It has become one of Josh’s favorite cakes.

During my time as her neighbor I used the lemons on that tree to master many of my favorite desserts. Lemon tarts, lemon curd of scones or for filling french macarons and unlimited fresh lemon juice whenever a recipe called for it. They were on the tree year round. What a treat!

I decided to make this delicious cake for us to enjoy on the other side of the country. Remember the good times.

I scoured the internet for a good yellowcake recipe, please notice… I forgot to put a space between the 2 words. Apparently this is a real term. Hey, learn something new everyday, right?! Turns out yellowcake is not what I want to make for Josh to square up for the birthday cake that I didn’t make him during the April moving rush. This is the kind of cake that is used to make uranium ores. The kind used in nuclear plants and warheards. So in an effort to stay off the UN disarm list, I decided to add a space in my search. I checked a few of my favorite blogs and came across Deb’s recipe for the Best Birthday Cake. Perfect!

Delicious Lemony Yellow Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Yellow Layer Cake recipe

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams or 16.93 ounces) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 lemons, zest from 1 lemon, juice from both
1 lime
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 glass or metal baking pan.

Zest 1 lemon and 1 lime. Combine the zest with sugar on a plate and grind together with the back of a metal spoon. When all the sugar has taken on the color and smell of the zest, pour sugar mixture into a large mixing bowl and add butter. Mix by hand or machine on medium, until the sugar butter mixture is creamy and light. Add vanilla. Carefully add eggs, one at a time, completely blending in before adding the next one. Add buttermilk and mix at slow speed just until everything is wet and combined. Then carefully integrate the flour into the mix, one third at a time. Don’t overwork the mix, just blend until everything is combined and no lumps are left.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour into a mixing bowl over a scale, until it reads 480 grams. Remove from scale and sift in baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  The reason that I only measure the flour is because there is so much, it is easy to use the wrong amounts. The baking soda and powder are less of a concern, also my scale doesn’t work as well for the small amounts. Feel free to use the volume measurements, but I recommend scooping the flooring into a measuring cup using a spoon and the level the top of the measuring cup with the back of a knife. You never want to pack flour when measuring it.

Pour batter into baking dish. Bang on the counter a few times to work out the air bubbles. Cook for 40 mins and check to see if the cake is set. A quick jiggle will let you know. If not set add another 5 mins and check. Check again and stick a toothpick into the center of the cake and see if it comes out clean. If so, pull that cake out. If not, cook for another 5 mins and check it again. My cake took 55 mins to cook in my oven.

Set the cake on a cooling rack in the pan. Let sit for an hour. When cake is just warm, poke holes in the top of the cake with a fork and pour the juice of 2 lemons over the top of the cake. Let it soak in for 15 minutes or so before your serve the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the powdered sugar and serve.

The ingredients: eggs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, powdered sugar (not shown), cake flour, butter, vanilla,  2 lemons (zest 1, reserve juice for both), lime zest, and buttermilk (not shown).

My addition to the recipe: I took the zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime and added it to the sugar. Tip: I freeze the zest from all my unused citrus for later, it’s excellent to flavor things.

Grind the citrus zest into the sugar using the back of a metal spoon on a plate. This will impart the citrus flavors into the sugar, making it extra yummy smelling.

See, good stuff.

The recipe calls for room temperature eggs. I added warm water to a bowl and added the eggs to warm them up. I can never plan ahead, so this trick works great for me.

Whenever possible I like to weight my ingredients out. Fortunately, the recipe has weights included, so I can use them. This more precise which is important when making a cake or say, french macarons. I sift the flour right into the bowl on the scale and it’s ready to go.

I sift the rest of the dry ingredients.

Combine the sugar and room temperature butter and mix under fluffy.

In Deb’s recipe she mentions the batter looks curdled after the addition of buttermilk. Yeah, that’s about right.

Grease and flour a 9X13 cake pan.

Pour the batter into the dish and rap on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles out.

While the cake cooks….. let me tell you about my morning.

I woke up at the usual 5 o’clock hour to walk the dog. I was especially tired and disoriented. I put on my usual attire, jeans and a hoodie to ward off bugs. I pulled the hoodie over my head and instantly…… black out. I stood there in bewilderment waiting for Josh to say something about the power going out. It was sooo dark. Then scratched my head or touch my face or something and immediately realized what had actually happend. The blackout wasn’t from the power going out, no it was caused by the hood of my backwards sweatshirt being pulled over my head. Whoa! What a dork. I fixed it, chuckled and took the dog out.

When the cake is done cooking I cooled it on a cooling rack until just warm.

Then I stabbed my cake repeatedly all over to make holes for the lemon juice to run down and soak into the cake.

Just before you serve the cake sprinkle powdered sugar over the top to make it look extra pretty. Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.

Slice the cake, serve and enjoy!

The big guy is pleased. The birthday debt paid. Time to party.

Making a cake from scratch is way better than using a box mix. This is the best, most moist yellow cake I’ve ever had without even adding the lemon juice. Next time you have a celebration to make a cake for, give this recipe a try.

Do you have a favorite cake recipe or are you a pie or cookie person?

Deede

Fall Run Challenge

Plank bridges to cross on Grater Woods trails. Fun! The pond is 1/4 mile from my house off a dirt trail. There is a couple of others near by too, including one that makes odd sounds like a singular guitar string being plucked.

As I said in the intro of my blog, I love to run and to do triathlons. I originally started running so that I could compete in triathlon. I learned to run back in August of 2010 and have kept with it. Each time I accomplish something I am amazed and it fuels me to push myself farther. I joined Fleet Feet Sacramento’s amazing training programs for all distances from 5K to a full marathon. I knew nothing about running; I used to joke that I’d only run if I was being chased by the police. Now that I know how to run, it has opened up so many possibilities. I starting to remove my internal restrictions on myself on what is possible. Of course, I can’t give running on the credit for that,. I have a wonderfully supportive husband, amazing friends, some very inspirational blogs to follow and the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

I have come to find that I’m an endurance runner. I love the challenge of longer distances 13.1+ miles. It takes 2-3 miles for me to get warmed up and in my groove, I’m usually panting like I just out ran an angry mastodon during this period, but once I fall into my pace, my breathing smooths out and I can run, run, run. My tolerance of pain over distance is what I plan to harness for Ironman distance triathlon events when I finally get  a chance to complete one. Because of our move across country, I choose not to compete in any Triathlons this year. That was a hard determination, but it made sense. Training properly for a long distance event requires more time and practice in 3 different sports. So this year I’m really focusing on running only, although I will cross train on bike to prevent injurys.

It hasn’t been all work and no play for me this year, so far I completed a small portion of the training for Fleet Feet Sacramento’s Shamrock’n Training program and finished the Shamrock’n Half Marathon in March. I was busy during Winter and Spring working full time, studying for my final architecture exam, volunteering as a mentor for the No Boundaries 5k running group while training for my half marathon, and packing for our move. I even got roped in for one last training class and race. I completed the Dirty Secret Trail running program and on May 12th (2 days before our cross-country move) I ran the Dirty Secret Trail Race in Cool, CA. It was a blast and a great experience that confirmed that I really like trail running more that road running. As you can see I keep busy, real busy. I’ve learned that I’m either doing it all, or nothing. I don’t seem to have a middle gear.

Now that I’ve moved the NH, I’ve been working in filling my schedule out with productive things to do. Cooking, cleaning, yard work, volunteering for a seat on the Town Planning Board (hope I get accepted), looking for work in Architecture, reading, playing with the doggy, running, bike riding, making friends, baking a wee bit of pie…. and in general anything else I can think of. I begun to fill my calendar out with activities and goals. I was looking for a challenge to mentally prepare myself for undertaking the Vermont 50 miler in September 2013. I originally proposed to complete 4 marathons in 4 weeks. I figured what better way to take in the “skittle season” of New England than to run the trails and roads, a lot of them. (Note: “skittle season” was a term we learned from a lady we met in Concord, NH, it describes the amazing array colors in the leaves during the fall.)

The races I had planned on completing were as follows:

I finally decided that I should do just 1 event. This feels like the best solution both financially and physically. I’m just now ramping up my training for a marathon. I wasn’t 100% sure how 4 marathons would pan out and I certainly don’t want to injure myself. The event I’ve decided on doing is call the Clam Chowdah Challenge. It is part of the Cape Cod Marathon on 10/27-28 in Falmouth, Cape Cod, MA. It is a two day event. The first day you do 13.1 miles around town. The second day you do 26.2 miles around the greater Falmouth area. It’s supposed to be a beautiful and challenging course with a light house and lots of ocean to enjoy. You get a sweet t-shirt and ceramic chowdah bowl for finishing the challenge.

I’m using the schedule that I had for training for CIM last year. I even improved on my 2-mile assessment time from last training class. It’s true, trail running makes you faster on the road, that or my Garmin is lying to me. As a part of my schedule I have a half marathon assessment to judge my pace and ability in the middle of training. For that race I have signed up for the Monadnock Half Marathon on 08/11 in Jaffrey, NH.

This back to back race challenge with help me build the mental strength and determination to move on to the ultra distance events. I really, really enjoy trail running and I will be doing a lot of my training on the hilly trails around my home, with plans to check out the White Mountains from time to time. I’m still meeting people to add to my run buddy list, but there are a ton of outdoor enthusiasts in the area. In fact, I’ve already met a group of cyclists that go out on twice weekly road rides. The rides are very challenging, with lot of hills and speed in the group, it will be a great way to build my bike chops. Woot!

Have any thoughts on running back to back events or preparing for ultra endurance runs? I’m all ears. Please feel free to leave a comment of any kind, even if it’s just to tell me I’m crazy. Cuz I am.

Below are a couple of pictures of the lake next to the bike shop in Milford, NH:

Burgers & Ribs

Friday, June 15th

We started the weekend with burgers. We haven’t had one since White Castle in Ohio, so it was time to get our meaty fill. I checked Yelp for some suggestions for a local place. It led us here:

Papa Joe’s Humble Kitchen in Milton, NH. It’s about 15 mins from our house in the next town over. Miton has a great old town center, they call it the “Oval”. The business has been in this location for 3 years. The owner informed us that they moved here, so they’d have a kitchen to serve hot food. Before they just moved only made prepared meals that you take up and cook. Back then their name was Joe’s Humble Pie. They are really sweet here and do a great job cooking.

They have a small indoor dining area and a little outdoor area too. It was a little too chilly out to sit outside.

Nice simple menu with really good prices. We will be back for sure.

I had the Humble Ken Burger with cheese. I wanted to taste the basic burger before going all crazy, though I’ll have to admit, that is Josh logic, but I figured I’d give it a go. It was really good. The patty was hand made and nice and moist, there was the right amount of condiments and cheese. However, I as usual couldn’t wait to try it out, so the other side of the burger from the view in the picture is a bite. Heehee.

Josh got Tim’s Bacon Cheeseburger:

And since I’ve never had Poutine Fries we had to order some up to test out. Not bad at all. It’s like mashed potatoes and gravy, except the potatoes are crunchy and fried.

We picked out some local sodas to enjoy with our meal. I got the Pale Dry Ginger Ale and Josh picked the Maple Cream Soda. Mine was good, it tasted like ginger ale, but with a stronger bite. Josh’s was awesome. It was sweet like cream soda, but with the real maple flavor. Yay. I will have to try this again for myself.

Saturday, June 16th

I don’t remember what we did, but it likely involved hanging around the house.

Sunday, June 17th

Josh and I went to a local Ribfest held at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack, NH. We’ve had this event on our radar since we moved here. Even though the fest was going on all weekend we decided to go on Sunday, because it was blues music day and they had a Blue Brother’s tribute band playing. They were a blast to watch on stage. It was fun to walk around the little vendor tents and hear them singing along to the music. Everyone was loving it.

I’m gonna need to work on my documenting skills if I’m gonna to post my adventures. I missed the overall A-B campus photo and the huge 3 story vendor displays. Next time I’ll have more photos!

I love the carnival looks of these 2 stands.

Josh waited in line for a rack of ribs and I grabbed us a delicious side to go with them. I decided on butter dipped sweet corn. I sprinkled on parmesan cheese on for good measure. I wanted to try the maple sugar & pepper shaker, but it was empty. I guess it must have been good. We were able to grab a seat at a table under a tent, so we didn’t have to sit in the direct sun, though it was a  a wonderful for sitting in the sun. We sat next to each other on the end of a long communal table. Shortly after we sat a Father and his 2 grown sons sat down across from us. Sporting 3 full racks of ribs. We made quick friends of them. I was wearing my Shamrock’n Half Marathon Training hat, and that started up the conversation.

We ended up exchanging information. They two sons both work for Altas Fireworks and they offered to hook us up if we were looking for fireworks. Speaking of fireworks, we can get all kinds of good stuff out here on the East Coast. I’m looking forward to launching stuff in the air, like mortars and firing roman candles! Whoohoo!

Itis! Once we eat all these ribs, it’s gonna be time for a nap. We were originally in line for one of the bigger rib vendors, but then a guy for a little rib stand poached us. A of a rack of ribs was $20, that was $6 less than everyone else and their homemade BBQ sauce was good and tangy.

On our way home from the Ribfest we saw this gem of a car. I love the plate.

So far our adventures have been great out here. We made a few new friends, in fact, I now have a bike riding buddy and a bike ride group to go on rides with. Woot!

2 Pies for Cheers

We had our new friends/landlords over for pie this past Sunday. I decided to make 2 pies for variety. I made a strawberry rhubarb pie and a “meyer” lemon tart. I’ve made both of them before, so I figure everything should be nice and easy. FYI…. yeah I didn’t get a finish shot of both pies. This is the reality of pie. It gets made, then we eated it!20120613-060435.jpg

I used the following recipes:

  • The crust for the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was the All-Butter Pastry Dough by Melissa Roberts for Gourmet Magazine Sept 2009 (Posted by epicurious.com)
  • The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe came from smittenkitchen.com
  • The entire Meyer Lemon Curd Tart recipe was from Anne Burrell posted on foodnetwork.com. I am not a fan of Anne Burrell the television personality. She’s too spunky for me, I much more prefer surly people. However, this recipe of hers is ah-mah-zing. I was using a Joy of Baking recipe for making curd before. The recipe had the sugar and lemon juice heated first then you had to temper in the eggs, then bring everything back up to temperature, then stir until it thickens. I hate tempering eggs. There is such a fine line between right up to temperature and “shit, now I have scrambled eggs.” With Anne’s recipe you just mix everything up and heat it up.

I went out Saturday to purchase ingredients. I was able to purchase the rhubarb and berries at a local U-pick patch at The Farm Depot in our little town. They were the tiny ones and they so sweet. Now I know why Deb at smittenkitchen.com recommends using them. The big ones are fine for chocolate dipping or making into cheesecake filled strawberries, but they are firmer and generally have less flavor, like so many other oversized fruits.

I headed to the grocery store for the rest of the ingredients. The only thing I couldn’t find was Meyer lemons. Oh man.😦 This is something that I took for granted at my old house. There was a Meyer lemon tree in the back yard, so I could just pick them whenever. I made lemon curd, lemon bars or even lemon cake at a whim. So sad that I won’t have regular access to these beauties. Lucky for me, Josh is an internet wizard, who’s capable of finding information out about anything. He found online, that I should to cut the lemon juice in half and add orange juice for the other half. So I made a “mock Meyer” tart, but this worked great and had the added benefit of adding a little deeper yellow color to the curd. Think farm fresh egg yolk.

The first part of baking a pie is making the crust. I usually make the crust the night before and let it hydrate in the fridge overnight. In this case it got to sit for a few hours. Usually 30 mins will do. 2 important tips to making good crust: 1.  Use the best butter you can afford. I tried Kate’s Butter from Maine. I was pretty darn good to lick straight off my fingers. The interesting thing about this butter was that it just crumbled when you cut it. That’s the first time I’ve seen butter do that. 2.  The other thing is to not overwork the dough. I chop the butter into 1/2″ cubes using a pastry cutter and put it in the freezer while I get the rest of the ingredients ready. Then I use my food processor to cut the butter in. Once I see pea sized chunks I start to drizzle in the ICE COLD water. I use quick pulses. As soon as the dough pulls away from the center when pulsing, it is done. I then pour out the dough, roll it into a rough disk, wrap it plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to chill/hydrate.20120613-055100.jpg

Me tossing all the cold butter into the flour/salt mixture in the food processor.20120613-055133.jpg

This was the dough after the pea sized chunks. I didn’t quite add enough water to get the dough to pull away from the center when mixing. I was able to squeeze a small amount of dough and have it stick together, though I really should have added more water, as you’ll see when I go to roll out the dough. 20120613-055905.jpg

Meanwhile, the dough is in the fridge resting, now it’s time to prepare the strawberries and rhubarb. I roomed the stems from all the berries and cut them in 1/2″ size pieces. I also cut the rhubarb done to 1/2″ size pieces too. Josh made a request from the previous pie attempt to cut the strawberries and rhubarb the same size.20120613-055928.jpg

Mixing together the berries, rhubarb, sugars, salt, instant tapioca and grated granny smith apple. I added 1 grated granny smith apple to get more pectin into the pie. I always have trouble getting this pie to setup. This time I forgot to press out the extra moisture in the apple before adding it. Oops.20120613-055951.jpg

Oh my!! That’s why you want to be sure to add enough moisture to your dough. I was able to work the dough back together by getting my hands wet with ICY cold water. A couple of kneads and….20120613-060014.jpg

Bam!! Dough. Just got to be patient.20120613-060039.jpg

I lined the pie dish with the bottom crust, poured in the filling and dotted the top with MORE tasty butter. I added the top crust, egg washed the top, sprinkled on a little sugar for good measure and popped the pie into the oven. A hour went by…..20120613-060115.jpg

And success?! Wait, is that a moat? Hmmm…. castle pie. Time to get out the paper towels and dry it up.20120613-060206.jpg

There, that’s more respectable. Mmmm. Golden crust and happy thick bubbles coming from within.20120613-060238.jpg

Ingredients for the tart crust. This crust is sugary. It’s so hard no to eat it.20120613-060316.jpg

This crust came out of the fridge nice and hydrated with good chunks of butter, but I didn’t have enough flour on the cutting board when I went to roll it out. I also may have rolled it a wee bit too thin. I went to pull the crust of the wax paper and it stuck right in the middle. I managed to get it off, with only a tiny tear, but I failed to flour the dough before folding it back on itself. The result, the entire center of the dough stuck together. Poop. I was left with a big hole in the pie crust. I took a deep breath, then carefully molded the dough into the pan using extra pieces to fill in the ones that are missing. It worked pretty good. Next time though, the dough need to be thicker, especially around the edges. I popped the crust into the oven, then read the recipe again. Ah crap.

I quickly pulled out the crust, and the butter was already starting to melt. Anne suggests in her recipe, using foil inside the pan to help hold the edges of the tart nice and high. So I put the foil over the heated crust and smooshed the edges, which had already start to decline, right back up tall. Then, I filled the cavity with dried white beans to keep everything in it’s place. I placed the crust back in the oven. No one will ever know, right?20120613-060331.jpg

Heating up the Lemon Curd mixture. Anne suggests doing this in a saucepan, but I like safety, plus some of my pots are crappy. I used a double boiler to ensure even heating and gradual heating. My double boiler is a wide stainless steel mixing bowl, that I picked up at an Asian kitchen supple warehouse, over a medium pot with an 1″ or so of water. Be sure you have water in the pot for the whole process. No steam = no double boiler.20120613-060401.jpg

Delicious pats of butter and apparently the last thing that I took pictures of while making the tart. They were incorporated into the curd, 2 pats at a time. Once the butter was all integrated, I poured the curd into the pre-baked tart shell and poped into the oven. I cooked it for 25 mins or so, until the center was set, then I pulled it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool partially. After most the heat was gone, I put it in the fridge to chill it. It setup great.

20120613-060413.jpg

In the end, both pies came out great and were tasty. The tart was better the second day and as usual the Strawberry Rhubarb pie was runny. I did pick up The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum from the local library. I’m going to see what advice she has to help me work out the liquid technical difficulties that I have with fruit pies. I’ll post my findings later in the comments. I’m sure the fact that I didn’t dry out the granny smith apple before adding it to the pie didn’t help with the consistency problems. More pies will be on the way!

Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday Kath! We wanted you to know that even though we are away, we are celebrating your birthday with dinner and a dessert. We know that you guys are doing the same thing tonight.

For dinner we went to The Lobster Boat Restaurant in Merrimack, NH. It’s a cute little restaurant right on the main street. We’ve been wanting to visit and now we had an occasion.

Josh and I split a bowl of Clam Chowder. It came with 2 spoons and 2 packages of oyster crackers. Yay!

For dinner, Josh ordered the Fisherman’s plater full of all kinds of fried food delights like clam strips, baby shrimp, sea scallops, haddock and came with both fries and onion rings. I was really excited because it also came with cocktail sauce, which is my favorite! I dipped my fries in it. The mountain of food that came out for Josh was so big that he couldn’t finish it. I got to try everything there though. They have excellent batter and nothing was greasy. Good stuff.

I ordered the Lobster Roll with fries. I’ve never tried one before, but wanted to give it a whirl, now that I am on the appropriate coast for eating lobster. It was 7 1/2″ long and came with a heaping pile of lobster that was lightly moisten with mayo. I loved it and so did Josh. Lobster roll is added my list of foods that will be important to try at different seafood restaurants here. Mmmmm….

We drove down the street to Swan Chocolates, our local chocolatier to pick up a dessert to enjoy a home, once we made space in our tummies. There are a ton of things there that we need to try, but tonight the Chocolate Lava Cake was calling our names.

When we got home the weather had gotten very stormy and there was thunder and lightening. This made for entertainment while it lasted. Maxwell really doesn’t like that sound. He was running around collecting all his toys growling, barking and shaking them vigorously and then dropping them to run off to another one. It was a quick storm, so he is now snoring on the couch. Rough life.

Eventually it was time to sing a little birthday song in honor of the birthday girl and devour the cake.🙂

Happy fourty-twooth birthday. We hope you have the best year evar.

Love & miss you all,
Deede, Josh + Maxwell

Linky links:
http://www.lobsterboatrestaurant.com/index.html
http://www.swanchocolates.com/swan/magento/

City Museum

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I present to you, City Museum.10 stories of fun

Located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Formerly the historic International Shoe Company that was mostly abandon. The building was purchased by the Cassilly Family and gradually converted to an imagination museum. It is 10 stories of adventure and is constantly evolving. We were there for 4 hours or so and there wasn’t enough time to see it all. We started our adventures in the outside exhibit where everyone, no matter what you age, can play and climb and squeeze like a child. It looks really neat. The shear art component involved in this space is extraordinary, but it’s the engineering involved that’s even more mind-boggling. Everything in this space is either re-purposed industrial equipment or raw steel. Rebar and reinforcement is everywhere. The entire exhibit is a series of hamster tubes for different abilities. At this place, stairs are considered the easy way.

Here are some of the neat artistic touches throughout the museum:Serpent entry gates  Ticket booth

railing

octopus mosaic

whale

sea monster

lobster

fierce sharp teeth

This bird house reminds me of our good friend’s mom. Robin, this one is for you. Squawk!bird house

My first challenge was presented to me by my sister-in-law Laura. We had to get across a walkway to get to an old fighter jet. Our route, a 2′ tall 2.5′ wide hanging triangle tube that was attached to the underside of the “normal” people walkway. I say “normal” because even that was seemly precarious in nature. My plan was to jump in a give it a crawl. I figured I could always go backwards if I found myself stuck. During this crawl, I never once was overcome by fear of heights, even though I was 30+ feet in the air. I was so involved with squeezing through the space I couldn’t be bothered with it. The entire time I was climbing through the tunnel I was laughing hysterically. Even Josh, who was above us, was laughing too. After we got across, it was on to new adventures.

access way under the walk way. We take the hard path.

Josh looking down at me from above.looking down the first hamster tube

oooo…. I have to climb across to that side.Chaos across the way

The coolest jail ever!who's that?

Josh looking down at me.Josh

Me looking back up at Josh.

Sneaky quick climbing Laura on the sprint again.Laura

Looking up the interior of the factory at the 10 story slides.looking up the inside of the building at the 10 story slides

Run away!ahhh prang mantis

Laura the bus driver with attitude, ditching problem children off the top of the building.Crazy bus driver

Seriously, who’s idea was it to climb the never-ending slide?

We decided to cross the rooftop pond.

Laura and I in the magic mirror tunnel.

St. Louis at sunset from the rooftop.sunset in St. Louis

One of the many cool things inside the museum was this wall made of stacked soda bottles. Amazing!A whole wall of repurposed soda bottles

As I said in my previous blog post, the fact that this place not only exists, but is thriving, proves that humanity is not lost. Coming from California where EVERYTHING must be safe and the goal is that no one gets hurt at anytime, ever. I couldn’t even fathom that building such a place is even possible. This place is well constructed, but there are corners and sharp edges and occasional rust. There aren’t handrails and safety tape everywhere, you just jump in, grab on and hang on. You can be as adventurous as you want. Some routes go somewhere and others do not. You figure it out by trying and by golly you have a blast doing it. So much fun, you think you are 5 years old and your legs will be covered in bruises to remember the fun by.

I want to come here everyday. In fact, I’d love to meet each of my friends here, so we can explore the museum together. This time I’ll get down to the Enchanted Caves with headlamps to do some spelunking. It’s so dark and you get to crawl everywher, then come out in wondrous new locations.

It will be sooo much fun.

Deede

Sources:

http://citymuseum.org/site/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Museum

Road Trip

departing sac

I makes sense to start this blog with a recap of our cross country adventure to arrive at our new home in New Hampshire.

We worked really hard to get to the point where we could bid Sacramento adieu and see new sights. It was a bittersweet decision for us. We left our closest friends whom were the family we got to chose. But with the other half of the family on the East coast, it made sense to try out life on this side. We will still return back to the West coast on a yearly, if not more frequent pilgrimage.

Our home in Sacramento was a bank-owned property that we originally purchased to rent out. The plan was to fix up the interior live there for a few years and then rent it out and repeat the process. However, we got comfortable once we were in the house. We fix some of the major things and left others for later. Later didn’t come until we decided to move. That meant a lot of work to be completed before the property could be rented out. I took a month off work prior to the move to help get things done. In the end, we had the help of our neighbor to finish everything up. So much work. Lesson learned for next time, we don’t like to do home repairs. We like to play and do ridiculous and impractical projects. Our next house purchase needs to be ready to go.

The travel plan was as follows:

  1. Monday, May 14 at 8am: hit the road. First stay over is Wendover, UT right now the Utah/Nevada border
  2. Tuesday, May 15, travel through Utah and Wyoming to the Eastern border of the state to stay in Cheyenne
  3. Wednesday, May 16, travel through Wyoming & Nebraska. Stay overnight in Lincoln, NE
  4. Thursday, May 17, break from I-80 and travel south through Kansa City to St. Louis, MO. Stay in town until Sunday after brunch and then head out. We had to cut our trip short 1 day because we had to beat the transporter to New Hampshire to pick up the Forester that we shipped across country.
  5. Sunday, May 20, travel through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana to Columbus, Ohio.
  6. Monday, May 21, travel through Ohio, Pennsylvania to Binghampton, NY.
  7. Tuesday, May 22, travel through New York, Massachusetts to Salem, New Hampshire. Our final destination.

What actually happen:

We finally hit the road at 5 pm on 5/14/2012. We were so tired that we had to revise the first overnight stop to Elko, Nevada because there was no way we were going to make it Wendover, UT. We got into the motel at 3 am 5/15. We were dirty from a hard days work and tired. We slept in a little bit the next morning cleaned up and hit the road, but not until 10am.

It was 5 pm when we got to Salt Lake City, so there was a little traffic and it was a little warm coming up the pass into the Rocky Mountains. Thankfully the 4runner took to the hills like a champ. If crawling up them at 40 mph is the definition of a champ. Once we were up a ways we were able to pick up the pace. Oh man are those mountains beautiful. I drive a lot of the trip through Wyoming. Man that is pretty country, harsh, but such beautiful landscaping. We arrived in Cheyenne at 2 am.

Flappy Jowl Intermission:

The next day was a lot better because we were running on schedule and had more time to sleep. Things got pretty flat through Nebraska, but there are always cool farm buildings to check out. As we got closer to Lincoln the hills started to creep up. We got to our motel around 6:30pm. It was near the airport, but had a huge grass area were Max could play. We ate some mid-western Chinese food. Which was pretty plain and was adorn with peas and carrots like you’d find in a potpie. At least it wasn’t loaded with mayonaise.😉

Thursday was great because we only had a 6.5 hour drive to get to St. Louis, where we were visiting Josh’s little sister. We have a late lunch since we were meeting for dinner late. I navigated us to Culver’s Burgers and Creamery. Mmmm that is the mid-west version of In-and-Out. So good! We picked Laura up from her work and went to an Irish pub called Llywelyn’s. They had pretty good fancy pub food. Friday Laura’s friend Nicholas came over to be a hero and watch our boy. While Josh, Laura and I filled out bellies with Awesome St. Louis BBQ at Pappy’s Smokehouseand went to the greatest place in the entire world, City Museum. Seriously, the existence of this place in gives me hope that the world can be saved! I’m doing a separate entry to document the awesomeness of our museum adventures. After the evening was done we had a slumber party, then crashed the breakfast buffet at the hotel. We started Saturday on a quest to find Laura a car, which was a tall order in 1 day, but we managed to accomplish it.

Welcome to the family Laura! Wagon Mafia, for life yo’.

For dinner on Saturdaywe tried St. Louis still pizza at Imo. Josh’s tagline for this place, “so sad it cuts itself”. Heehee, I love my bearded beast. Finally, Sunday came and we had to pack up and go. We had breakfast at Rooster in downtown St. Louis. It was awesome. I had the Strawberry Basil & Brie Crepes with Creme Fresh and a side of in-house German Sausages.

After breakfast, I talked Josh into a super quick trip to see the St. Louis Arch in person. We simply had to!

We dropped Laura off at her dorm and headed off.

Sunday’s road trip was uneventful. We pulled into our motel in Columbus, OH around 8 pm. We put our stuff inside and drove off to White Castle Burger. I had never had one before, so it was important that I try it out. I like the cheesy ones. Pretty good, so still an odd consistency.

Monday we left early and drove to Binghampton, New York. I failed to realize how close I was going to be to the lake until it would have been really innocent to make a stop and check it out. Poop. The sky over the direction of the lake was beautiful. We reached out hotel at 6 got settled and ran off to try a local favorite, Lupo’s original Spiedies. Spiedie is a sort of marinated kabob meat that is usually served on a italian roll. Man are they delicious.

Tuesday, was supposed to be a quick 4hr 44 min trip to Salem, New Hampshire. Yeah…. about that. Some how I was a little off on my calculations. It took 7 hours to getthere. There was a lot of rain and hills. We arrived at our hotel 15 mins before the transporter did with the Forester. Talk about cutting it close. It was nice to see the car again. We now a vehicle to drive around without a trailer attached, bonus!

I had originally booked our hotel room in Salem, NH for 10 nights, figuring that it would take us that long to find a place to live. That night I sent out a bunch of emails to check out properties that were advertised on Craigslist. Thursday morning we checked out an 1890’s farm house with a barn and a whole lot of fire hazards. We said no thanks and went back to our hotel. I requested more visits as did Josh. We ended up finding the place we selected in Merrimack, NH Thursday evening. We came over took a look, and said “We’ll take it!”. Our landlord had 2 rules: 1. pay your rent on time, everytime. 2. take care of the house. Easy peesy! With our place found and paid for we moved in the next day. What a relief.

We are like two 8-year-olds living in a tree house!😀

Whoo hoo! We made it.

Deede + Josh

The gallery below is mostly scenery: