The Holidays, y’all

I could attempt to recount the things we’ve eaten over the last week, but really, you can probably imagine it.  You’ve been reading about our meals for a year.  You know that before we go out of town for a few days, we try to eat down the fridge, which is what we did on Wednesday.  You know that on special occasions like our anniversary or a Thursday, we like to have snacks for dinner, which is what we did for Christmas Eve Eve as we watched Love Actually and opened our gifts for each other.  And you know about the holiday excess we’re trying to avoid.

Festive Shane

We spent Christmas in Rockford with my family, including this handsome fellow who dazzled us with his crawling and his good looks:

Christmas Max

There was the traditional Christmas Eve corn chowder, more bland than it should have been, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the salt shaker and the most important spice. There were dozens of cookies stashed in the cold garage: gunk bars, brownies, chocolate coconut pinwheels, and sugars.

Mark and Evonne

We had German food for Christmas lunch – Mexican last year – sauerbraten and spaetzle, warm red cabbage, German potato salad, and an assortment of sausages. Somehow – perhaps thanks to the gym – we made room for Swedish pancakes at Stockholm Inn on Sunday, Beef-a-Roo, and cocktails and snacks at Garrett’s with Jenn.

Open wide!

And then on to Lakewood for a few non-holiday days with Shane’s family: tacos and Blizzards with his brothers, scones and excellent coffee at The Root after a visit to Trav’s funny gym:

Post-run olive scone at The Root

A visit to the Cleveland Art Museum, where we saw an incredible Damien Hirst piece made entirely of butterfly wings, followed by a tasty but cold and stressful lunch at Tommy’s in Coventry – I had tempeh salad, nom nom nom. Watching the Hawks win – or at least most of the game – over beers and food with the whole family at Buckeye Beer Engine. Time with kitties, cousins, and grandpa. And a couple of remarkable hot dogs at Happy Dog before heading home:

Happy Dog-14
Photo by edseloh

Among the toppings we tried were blue cheese coleslaw (me), marinated mushrooms (Orin), and habanero pickled red onions (Shane) – plus a really great chimichurri and a garlic-tomato jam for our tater tots.  I wish I had photos of any of this, but despite taking the camera everywhere with us, we only managed a couple of pictures of the cats.  I’ll try harder next time, promise.

Midwest Tour, part 1

(or: 7 days, 8 states, 1 wedding, 2 families, 1 apt, and 2 tired librarians)

Day 1: Alexandria, VA > Lakewood, OH
States: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio

After a very full day of Important Work Stuff, we loaded up the car and set out at 5pm, basically the worst possible time to drive anywhere in any metro area.  The first 15 miles of our trip – from our apartment to the Beltway – took a full hour.  Fortunately we had NPR and various forms of jerky to get us through.  Carrying on, we encountered the Pennsylvania turnpike, which lacked rabid bears but did contain some pretty epic construction and/or accidents that significantly slowed us down.  Shane was a trooper and carried us through to Lakewood, Ohio, where we arrived at his mom’s house at around 1230am, completing a 6.5 hour drive in about 7.5.  Shane’s momma (and the cats) welcomed us with a lot of whispers, and we almost immediately crashed the hell on out.

Day 2: Lakewood, OH
States: Ohio

Despite getting in LATE, I was up at 9am to test the web conferencing software I would be using for an interview later in the week.  We kicked around the house, then went to the farmers’ market and Discount Drug Mart (which, apparently, ‘saves you the run-around’) with Shane’s momma, then stopped in to Rozi’s to pick up the first of OMG SO MUCH beer.  Throughout the trip I referred to these stops as our Smokey & the Bandit operation (sans pesky sherriff).  According to Shane’s tweets, he picked up DFH Sah’tea, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière, Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew, and Southern Tier Back Burner.  This was a portend of things to come.

We met Shane’s BFF Steve for lunch and GOOD LORD MORE BEER.  Steve gifted us with five six-packs and a three-pack of underfills from Great Lakes.  They’re all anonymously bottled, so we’ll see how we do on figuring them out, especially because Shane kept getting confused by the conversation about the bottles, their provenance, and their actual contents.  We grabbed lunch at the Buckeye Beer Engine, a bar with pretty fantastic taps just around the corner from Shane’s momma’s house.  I haven’t really met any of Shane’s friends from way-back – just his friends from college on – so it was pretty hilarious from start to finish.

Both of Shane’s brothers had to work, putting us on a pretty tight visiting schedule.  After a quick nap (punctuated by Kittens Inspired by Kittens-type screaming), we had dinner with Orin and Shane’s momma at Luxe, in what is apparently an up-and-coming neighborhood that mostly appeared to be under construction.  Shane and I split a really fantastic charcuterie and cheese spread before Orin had to take off for rehearsal.  The rest of the evening involved hanging out with Travis, his girlfriend Kristen, Orin, Shane’s momma, and Shane’s aunt Corinne and uncle Chris.  At this juncture let me tell you that Shane’s family is great, but they are hella loud, god love ’em.  It was really fun to see everyone, though, as the only other time I’d met them was when we visited in 2006.  Unacceptable, right?  We’re both excited that we’ll be living 2.5 hours away instead of 6.5 (or 7.5, depending on the day) and will be able to visit more often.  Anyway, over the course of this evening I learned about “knee basketball” and that both Shane and Travis regard socks as “napkins on your feet”, among other interesting and informative facts.  We kicked everyone out at 11 so that we could crash before the next day of driving.