Wednesday, August 18, 2010

News Flash: Karis Kiser is here!

For anyone who hasn't seen my facebook or Splitcoaststampers pages, my 2nd great niece was born last night. She's adorable! She looks like a chunky monkey but was only 7 lbs. 13 oz. & 19.5" long. So stinkin' cute!

You can see more pictures of her here:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday in Fredericksburg

By the time Phil picked me up on Friday, it was going on 6:00. In Fredericksburg, the shops close down at 5:30 or so. We knew, even before we heard from the mechanic, that this van was going to cost us a bundle, which meant getting money out of an investment account. This is where we became very rational and financially astute (or maybe not : ) ) . My reasoning went like this, "You know, since we only have ONE day to hang out here, I think we should stay an extra night. I mean, if it's going to cost thousands for the van, what's another $100?" Phil thought it was perfectly logical, so I got on the phone & called to find the least expensive without threat of roaches kind of place. We learned that this town's motels are typically booked solid on the weekends from Spring Break through Christmas. Wow. I knew weekends were quite a bit higher priced, but had no idea they were so busy. We ended up choosing Motel 6. No, not romantic, but clean. Sadly, Motel 6 weekend rate was the same price we'd paid for the darling B&B on a week night. I did check to see if our B&B was open the next night, but it was booked. I would have sprung for the extra $$ at that point. At least motels now have a microwave & fridge in room, so we knew we could put our goodies in that we'd picked up along the way.

After eating our amazing breakfast on Friday, we packed up the car and headed down Main Street. There are about 4 blocks of nothing but cute little shops and restaurants. As you can imagine, Phil was over the top excited. (That's sarcasm, in case you wondered). He was so good, though, and kept saying at the stores, "We can go in here if you want to. It's okay. This is your thing, so you pick." Who was this man? ha, ha!

Our first stop was a Christian book store. Now, to this, he asked, "Why? Can't you go to those at home?" I had to explain that not all independent stores are the same. Thankfully, across the street from the book store (which wasn't much to write home about) was the National Museum of the Pacific War. We decided not to do the museums this time, but outside are some displays, so we walked around. Interestingly, EVERY president from Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush was in WWII. I found that pretty amazing based on the years involved in those presidencies. They had a tribute to each of them with a listing of what they did in the war. The museum complex includes the one I mentioned, plus the Admiral Nimitz museum and a War Zone display you can walk through on a guided tour. We decided maybe Phil can go through those last 2 (he went to the first one when it opened last year) while we girls go shopping some day.

Phil enjoyed checking out the war equipment.

Next we parked on the first block of shopping to see what treasures the stores held. We went to an antique store. Now, many ladies love to shop antique stores and gift shops. Since our budget has never allowed such things (and if I go to a gift shop, it's mainly to get ideas of things to make), we aren't really into this stuff. Even so, I thought we'd take a look. It was interesting, but more like a museum trip than shopping. Next stop, "Der Kuchen Laden." My friend, "Miss Iowa" will have to translate that for us. I know for sure it's a Kitchen store! I was in my element. Phil was a tiny bit impressed with the knives. After that he kept trying to turn us towards the front door (so maybe this really was my husband after all), but I would tell him I was going the other way. Here is the funniest part of our trip, I think. Phil uses a kitchen for: A) Getting a glass of tea B) Heating up leftovers and C) well, I think A&B are it. We walked through a section that had cheese slicers & he said, "Let's get a new cheese slicer!" The cheese knife is one thing I never liked from PC. He didn't either. Nor did he like any of the slicers or planers or other knives we've tried. My husband, the non-shopping, non-kitchen, motorcycle riding man picked out our first purchase. IN A KITCHEN SHOP! I got a rosette handle with 2 forms. You'll have to search on google to find out what that is! LOL! Okay, here you go: How to make Rosettes.

Mine has 2 prongs like this, but I bought different forms.
Next we went into a place called "The Candy Bar." Did I mention food was the theme for our weekend? We looked around & opted to come back before the hotel so nothing would melt. We heard about a restaurant with "The best hamburgers in town." Phil had also spotted the Fredericksburg Micro Brewery across the street. Did I mention I hate beer AND it has gluten? I admit, when I could eat gluten I liked beer bread and I have actually bought gf beer to use in my Borracho Beans, but that's it. Mr. German Heritage Weekend decided to let his roots show. We ate at the Brewery & he tried the beer there. I think I mentioned yesterday that he may drink 1 beer a week, if that, so this is not typical for him. Just in case you wondered! LOL! And I drove! Anyway, once I got past the awful smell (did I mention my tummy wasn't feeling good on Wed. & didn't really improve? The smell made me feel worse), it was quite interesting to sit at the front as these huge copper vats are right there where you can see them & see the entire process. At least I felt educated. We found something on the menu I could eat: Nachos! Not the best for a queasy tummy, but it was gf! Phil ate FRIED PICKLES. He won't be eating that in this house, I'm sure. ; )

We wandered down to the Fudge Shop & picked up a bit of that. It was in a little mini-mall which happened to also have a store with the entire line of Vera Bradley bags. Since I also make quilted bags, I wanted to see these. I admit, I was a bit disappointed that none of the ladies said, "Oh, what a cute bag you have! I've never seen that one before!" Then again, it wasn't a VB, but a Loribelle Original. We also saw a full size poodle sleeping on her personalized pillow. She must be a very old dog. She was black with a LOT of gray. She never even moved as we walked by, called her name, and talked to her. I told Phil she was like a giant Bitsy, the poodle I had growing up that we all loved so much. We headed back to the candy store for MORE fudge & some GIANT gummy bears for the girls. I need to take pictures of those. The girls were thrilled when they got them today!

By then it was time to check into the hotel so off we went. We got into the room and found it was extremely clean and even though it was sparse, everything looked new and practical. Practical is good. The lady had thought they had a King size room, but turned out she only had a room with 2 Queen beds. That meant we each got to sleep in our own bed. I think the only time I've done that in the past 21 years is when I went camping with the girls! LOL! No jacuzzi tub. No GF breakfast. No breakfast at all. However, the TV was awfully big & we found some shows to watch.

We later went back downtown to three places: Fromage du Monde (cheese of the world) where we tasted several cheeses & brought home 3 different small pieces; The Peach Basket, a natural food store where I found a chocolate cake mix in a brand I like but had never seen the chocolate variety; then my favorite: CHOCOLAT. I am not sure why, but all of Friday, everywhere we went things smelled weird to me. I don't know if it was the new top I picked up at Wal-Mart the night before (yes, I admit it, I found Wal-Mart in FBG). I don't know if it was the old musty buildings. Maybe it was just that I wasn't feeling super great. This shop, however, was different. I walked in and asked if we could just stay there overnight. My friend Stephanie once said that chocolate is one of my bodily fluids. Yes, it runs through my veins. The smell. Oh, the smell. The rich, decadent, indulgent smell. It filled my entire being. Okay, not really, but doesn't that sound poetic? tee-hee. If you like liqueurs, this place has candy you would like. If you don't like alcohol at all, this place has candy you would like. They have these chocolates that have a tiny bit of a liqueur in the center. Not a cream with the taste, but the actual liquid. They have some with fruit nectar, too, so not all have alcohol in them. You have to put the whole piece in your mouth because the liquid would just run out otherwise. Then, they had truffles & colettes. I'd never heard the term colette and am not sure I'm spelling it right. It's an open chocolate with a piped in filling. I got one with a marscapone cheese & chocolate filling. Phil got one with a peanut butter "philling." Then we got 2 truffles. I don't know what flavors they were, but they were delicious. I SO want to own a chocolate shop now. My dad said, "You'd be the 300 lb. shop owner if you did that!" The girls & I definitely have new ideas to try now.

I forgot, I did go into a quilt shop before we went shopping. It was cute but our stores here have so much more to offer. Very nice ladies in the shop, I must add. We ran by Wal-mart again (I wanted to pick up some tummy medicine & get a bit of fresh produce to add to our leftovers). Then we headed to Motel 6 & called it a night.

Now I am about to take Natalie to bed & call it a night!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Night at Camp David

Maple Cottage at Camp David

August 12th, 2010 my husband Phil & I celebrated our 21st anniversary. For the past 21 years we've typically celebrated by going out to eat & coming home. Once kids came we would send them to their grandparents for the night. Last year we just went out to eat & picked them up from some friends' house. This year we decided to treat ourselves to a night out of town. Phil took off work so we could go away on our actual anniversary date. We worked out kid care (though the girls are older, they aren't old enough to stay home alone yet). We made a reservation. I researched all the shops I wanted to visit. We planned our day & 1/2 away. We packed & headed out of town thinking we were really splurging spending $100 to be out of town for a night. What we didn't know was that this little trip would end up costing us thousands of dollars. I'll get to that later.

Our reservation was made at a little place you might have heard of. We stayed at Camp David! YES, we really, truly did! Didn't you know we were THAT important? Okay, so it really was named Camp David, but it isn't THE Camp David. I highly suspect our current president won't be inviting us for a weekend away. Nor any president for that matter! The name of our Bed & Breakfast in Fredericksburg, Texas is named Camp David. It's a quaint little "village" of cottages just on the edge of the main street. It's close enough to the shopping area to get to easily, but far enough that we had no noise of traffic from tourists. If you'd like to check it out yourself, here is a link: Camp David B&B.

Inside Maple Cottage at Camp David

Our hostess, Molly, was extremely accommodating. First, she found out that I was on a Gluten Free diet. She told me she would make me a meal that was gluten free for breakfast. Next, we were concerned that having 2 vehicles on the property might be too much, as Phil was taking his motorcycle up. No problem she said. It was so "hidden away" that no one would have seen his bike. In general, Molly and her husband have set this up to fit the needs of what most visitors looking for a B&B want: King size bed, Private quarters (separate cottages), Breakfast brought to your room (so you don't need to get up & out of pj's and sit with strangers), whirlpool tub, and some other things my mind has forgotten! LOL! From the pictures, the cottages looked simply adorable. They are described as "dollhouses" and that is just what this was like. Because the pictures look like the furniture and decor is antique, I was concerned that things might be dusty or musty. NOT AT ALL! We were amazed at how sparkling clean this place was! We truly felt pampered beyond belief. I also have decided if I had a whirlpool tub I might not have fibromyalgia issues. hee-hee!

Oh, Molly knew it was our anniversary so she left 2 little bottles of champagne on ice! Since I don't drink much, I let Phil have them both. I did taste it and later taste a bit more wine this weekend and am convinced I am allergic to the sulfites in these. I got an itchy scalp again when I tried wine. TMI, I'm sure!

Breakfast was SO good. I had some berry muffins (gluten free) while Phil had a tart that we think was made with blackberries or dewberries. The recipe is on the site mentioned above. It says Peach Tart. If it's not there, I've got a copy & will share. He said it was the best thing like that he'd ever tasted. We had scrambled eggs on top of hashbrowns with onions. Then we had a dish of fruit: Fredericksburg peaches with strawberries & sliced almonds. She served us the cutest little pitcher of orange juice. It was just lovely! You will discover that food was pretty much the main focus of what we did in this little town as this story progresses.

Yes, I really did take a picture of this!

About those $$ mentioned above. Phil took off on his motorcycle when I left on Thursday morning. He was going to do some riding then we were to meet up in "FBG" around 2. I had to take something to my mom for Bethany that I'd forgotten, so I did that, then headed to FBG. I had turned off the main highway and onto a country highway. I passed a school, then the Kendall County line. About that time I had the thought, looking at the oaks & cedars and not much else, "If I broke down out here, I wouldn't have any idea where to tell people I am." NEVER think things like that. Less than 5 minutes from having that thought, the engine made a funny noise. As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Not funny ha-ha, funny strange." I was able to pull over just in time for the van to die. I checked all the gauges & nothing was showing wrong. The oil light came on when the car died, but not before that. When I got ahold of Phil he told me that was normal for the lights to come on when the car died. I could not restart it at first at all. When I did get it to turn over, it ran really rough, then died. I called Phil & found out he was in a different area. As it turns out, he was only 45 minutes from me, but ended up not coming to where I was. I called our insurance company to find out how to get a tow truck. Found out we have roadside assistance where they will find the truck for us & automatically deduct the part they will pay. NO, we do not have AAA. Yet. I plan to sign up for that ASAP. Kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I tried to describe where I was. I told her I thought I was about 10 miles past the highway & about 15 out of FBG. When the tow truck got there he said I was pretty accurate in those estimates.

My view out both sides of the van. Could you describe where you were (without a GPS) for someone to come rescue you? 5 Oaks on the left & 3 cedars on the right. Buzzards above. Hope I'm still alive. LOL!

While I waited for Mr. Tow Truck (his name was Nick & he's a nice guy with 8 kids between him & his wife's kids!), I texted my friends Kathy & Danette. I knew they'd check texts. I also knew they'd appreciate all the "fun" I was having. Kathy had noticed the engine making that noise & asked if Phil was taking care of it. I thought he was putting it off b/c he didn't have time, but turns out, he knew it was a big problem & knew we couldn't pay for this out of pocket. Anyway, I had to let her know she was definitely right & we SHOULD have had it looked at. She didn't even have to tell Phil that as he knew immediately when I described what happened that the engine was shot. He also said he wished we taken it in earlier. It was quite warm in that van, but at least I was inside. I also had a very large coke with me. This was not such a good thing when I realized there was no bathroom nearby. Anywhere. At. All. While I sat there, Phil headed back to SA to put away his bike & get the Buick, the one whose brakes were out for a month & he JUST fixed last weekend. Praise God he got that done!

Very large Coke: Friend or Foe?

Nick arrived with the tow truck about 2:15-2:30 I think. We got to Doc's auto about 2:45. The secretary, whose real name is Sunshine Every Day (her husband didn't want her to change her name when they got married!), had her 4 year old at work with her. Miley kept me entertained while I waited for Phil, who didn't get there til about 5:15! The next day when we went back, I stayed in the car, but Sunshine & Miley came out to see me. Mom said, "Miley said, "I wonder if Miss Lori is here." It was so cute! I got a hug in from a little red-headed doll who likes to chat!

By the time we got to the B&B it was 6:00. All the local stores were closed. We headed down Main Street to a German restaurant where Phil got a full German meal, complete with some nasty smelling German beer. Yes, that's an editorial. It's my blog, so I can say that beer smells nasty, not to mention it has GLUTEN in it. He had sausage, German Hot Potato Salad & this yummy smelling white bread. I had steak, salad & a baked potato. SO GOOD!

The bed at this B&B was extremely comfortable. Phil is a poor sleeper normally & he slept great on this bed. Unfortunately, my tummy hadn't been feeling great since the day before. I told Kathy, who is half-way done with her chemo now, that I was having more sympathy pains for her (as chemo has not been nice to her tummy). This kept me up much of the night, so I missed a good night's sleep on the nice bed.

We made an executive decision right then to stay an extra night. That story will have to be shared tomorrow or another day. I am fading fast and think I need a good night's sleep in my own bed.