The Last Day of Vacation

The last day of vacation is always the saddest.

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My hubby has been home for the past week, and it has been absolutely glorious.  Granted, I was gone for four of his seven days off (at my best friend’s wedding out of town), but the three days we’ve had together at home have been wonderful.

We’ve spent a lot of time accomplishing random things on our to-do lists, like selling my old single girl car that we never got rid of after buying a minivan; hanging curtain rods in Ruthie’s room after discovering with terror that post daylight savings time meant broad daylight during her bedtime; storing outgrown baby gear in the crawl space under our house and hauling out the spring goodies; getting some car repairs done; going to all of our dentist and doctor’s appointments.

Today we finished all of our major to-dos and decided to go for a walk to the ice cream parlor across the street for a reward.  We situated Ruthie in her stroller, donned hats and t-shirts, and walked over to the Mountaineer Ice Cream Shop.

Of course, because this is West Virginia, the shop also sells guns, fishing gear, and assorted home decor items.  But we weren’t there for any of that–we were after one of the over 100 flavors of ice cream offered.

Because I couldn’t decide, I got a half and half of strawberry and cookie dough chip, and we wandered out onto the porch of the store to enjoy.  We sat in a rocking double Adirondack chair, Jon holding Ruthie and me holding the ice cream.  I took turns feeding everyone bites–Jon liked the cookie dough chip while Ruthie preferred strawberry.  We watched the cars go by, customers come in and out, people walking their dogs, all with the mountains in the background.

Of course, by the time we got home, it was way past dinnertime and the day had flown by.  I threw together a quick fish dinner, which turned out to be accidentally super delicious, we got the baby in bed, and now we’re finishing a last episode of our show on Netflix before vacation officially comes to an end.

It will be super painful to set our alarms for the first time in a week, I am sure.

The last day of vacation is the worst…but I’m already looking forward to his next week off in June.  The anticipation will just have to hold us over until next time!

Binge Watching Cooking Shows

My friends think I’m weird for many reasons, but one of the major reasons is that I don’t have a television in my home.

I don’t mind being weird–my friend Lisa calls this “adorkable”–but people seem really confused when they come over for the first time, get the grand tour, and see eight bookshelves but no TV.

(I’m not exaggerating on the bookshelves.)

I do enjoy TV to help keep me company when I’m doing some other task, so I subscribe to Netflix and marathon various shows while cooking, doing laundry, or packing for a trip like I am right now.

Because I’m always multitasking while watching TV, I don’t really like shows with plots I have to follow, or dialogue that requires a lot of deep analysis.  So it makes sense that I am drawn to reality TV, but given that I enjoy plots and deep analysis in general, I can’t really handle The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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Which brings me to cooking shows.

Ina Garten, Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Julia Child, Gordon Ramsay, Giada de Laurentiis–oh, how I love you all.  I’ve had several cooking shows I’ve been addicted to over the years, and I can watch them for hours on end.  Whether it’s a how-to-cook style of show or a competition, I am never bored by this genre.  Maybe it’s that I feel like I’m always learning from cooking shows, or maybe it’s that I can immediately apply whatever recipe has been made during the episode.

Either way, my evening of doing laundry and packing for my trip was made much more enjoyable by watching three episodes in a row of The Great British Baking Show (especially Paul Hollywood’s blue eyes, which remind me of Paul Newman’s blue eyes, swoon!).

And now, I will finish watching this thrilling competition centering around baking meat pies, and pray that my daughter sleeps through the night tonight.  Woohoo!

Getting to Not Cook

When I moved away from Cincinnati, of course I missed my family.  Of course I missed my friends.  Of course I missed my students.

But you know what I missed the most?

The food.

You can’t give Skyline Chili a call on the phone.  You can’t FaceTime with LaRosa’s Pizza.  You can’t have a piece of Frisch’s hot fudge ice cream cake come to visit.

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I found a recipe this week on the Art of Manliness blog for Cincinnati-style chili.  I got wicked excited at first, until I realized that it took an entire 24 hours to make this chili.  I rolled my eyes–ain’t nobody got time fo dat, as Sweet Brown says.

Besides, one of my favorite parts about my favorite Cincinnati foods is that I don’t have to cook them.  My husband is famous for how much he eats–six huge meals per day–and  as a result I cook all the time.  Our grocery bill is the largest chunk of our budget every month.  (Including rent.)

So, any chance I have to not cook, I take it.  I’ll eat a walking taco at a tailgate, a slice of cold pizza at a party I arrive an hour late to, or a McDonald’s cheeseburger and be completely content.  Then, the next day, I’ll make Moroccan lamb tagine and be totally happy–as long as I don’t have to cook Moroccan lamb tagine every single day.

When I go home to Cincinnati for a visit, I get to take a multi-day-long break from cooking as I bounce from LaRosa’s to Skyline to White Castle to Frisch’s to P&S Diner.  And it is glorious.

Tonight, since my in-laws are in town, we went to our favorite locally-sourced eatery.  We ran into lots of people we knew, invited a few friends to join us, shared some beers and guacamole, and everyone was happy.

Especially me–because I didn’t have to cook!