Tuesday, July 31, 2012

what i've been up to

it's about time i get back in touch with you dontcha think?!  so, here's what i've been up to in my crazy busy life...

remember when i said i tried our local gelato place?  well, here it is! morano gelato!  if you haven't tried gelato, you've got to!  it's just ice cream made the italian way!

all of the gelato they have is made from scratch daily using local ingredients or those imported from you know it's totally genuine.  i learned a few things about gelato that i didn't know...gelato is much lower in butterfat than american ice cream...gelato is denser than american ice cream...and gelato is served at a warmer temperature than american ice cream.
see how delicious it was?  we gobbled it up before i could take a picture!

below is a list of flavors they had the day we went.  their flavors change daily and because all their gelato is made fresh daily, if they run out of a flavor during the day, that's it until the next day or the next time they make that particular flavor.

you can get a cup or a cone and up to three flavors in your serving.  mike (who's empty cup is pictured above) got a small cup with 'cafe' and 'milk chocolate' was like a delicious mocha treat!  i got a small cup with 'cafe' (neither mike nor i can stay away from coffee ice cream!) and 'sweet milk' was scrumptious!  the 'sweet milk' was light in color and sweet in taste...a perfect compliment to the very yummy and strong taste of the 'cafe'.  one person that was with us had the 'rosa' (rose) flavor, which i tried.  it was surprising how something that smells (and tastes) like roses can actually taste good, but it did!  it's not my #1 (or even #2 or #3) choice of flavors, but it was nice to try.  and it was bright pink, so that was fun!

i cannot wait to go back to morano gelato and try more flavors.  or just keep getting what i know i love because it's so darn delicious!  check them out on facebook here! they have lots of pictures and update their flavors daily!

i'll be sure to keep you updated on any new flavors i try and maybe i'll be patient enough next time to photograph my gelato before it's gone!

my next picture makes me laugh...

that's the koozie i bought when we went to maine to visit mike's dad.  i actually bought it with the intention of giving to to someone.  someone that i don't really 'know', but i KNOW she'd love it.  her name is also andrea, she has a blog, and she loves bacon!  (and isn't afraid to admit it!)  we will see if i can make that happen!

next up is my day at the annual crystal lake picnic.  my parents live on the lake and organize the annual gathering.  my mom asked me to 'help' her, so i showed up and did my best to do what she needed me to do.

my favorite part of the picnic is where it is.  it's held at an old boys' camp on crystal lake and it's full of vintage charm.  (and some new banners and things that the owner has collected through the years.)

isn't it neat?!  i love the old carvings on the mantles and the big bird painted on the wall with the chimney.  the grounds are beautiful can totally imagine a bunch of young boys running around doing various camp things, like archery or games or swimming lessons.  one of the family members went around and gathered all the pictures from the years when the camp was running and put together a book.  i find it so fun to look at how things 'used to be' so i was fully immersed in the book when i arrived!

every year there's a pig roast at the crystal lake picnic.  let me tell's so yummy -- one of my favorite things!  everyone brings a side dish or salad to go along with the piggy...and a bunch of roasted corn.

and then there's ice cream sundaes for dessert!  mom gets a couple big tubs of vanilla ice cream and all the fixings to make your own sundae!  i didn't get any pictures of the sundaes...but imagine heaps of ice cream and lots of jimmies, m&m's, chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, pineapple, heath bar, chocolate chips, whipped cream, cherries, and a bunch of stickiness and smiles!

part of the picnic always includes the residents paying the membership dues or collecting their annual member cards.  my mom takes care of that stuff...with the pretty flowers i picked from her garden...

and i sit at the next table selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, and whatever else my mom has gotten embroidered with our lake 'logo'.

i also sell raffle tickets!  there are always a few items donated by members of the lake association to be raffled off at the annual meeting (which is held a couple weeks after the picnic).  this year the items included a handmade wooden tray, a loon painting, a flower painting, an aerial photograph, and a set of 'new hampshire lakes association' wine glasses.

the tickets are $2 each or 6 for $10.  i sold a lot of six packs, let me tell you! =)  if i didn't already have a pair of the wine glasses, i'd be interested in those for sure!

the day was a big success with a bunch of new families joining the festivities!  the parking area was the fullest i'd ever seen!

a local town band even comes to play for awhile during the first hour or so while people are arriving and mingling.  i didn't get a picture of that either...but it was nice!  they play a bunch of patriotic i did get this picture:

and the band performs under the shade of that i almost got it! =)

so since i told you all about the annual crystal lake picnic...i made sure to take a few pictures of the scenery when we were at my parents last weekend.

oliver island

maisie, my parents' dog.  she loves going for boat rides.  yes, she has her own life preserver.

my love.

and my parents' house...that used to be a camp (think uninsulated walls, hand-me-down furniture, and all the camp-ish charm)...definitely not a camp anymore! 

in news other than crystal lake cyclamen bloomed again!!!  i've had it for at least a couple years and it had one flower when it was given to me and has only bloomed two or maybe three times since.  and only one flower every time!

it was funny because i used to have this plant on the window sill above the kitchen sink, so i would see it closely every day.  during the summer i put it out on our porch to get the fresh air.  i water those flowers often, but never noticed the bloom on the cyclamen coming, and then one morning i went out on the porch and it had bloomed!

and i even got a couple more flowers from one of the plants i purchased on mother's day...that hadn't bloomed at all until now!

yes, it's a random angle that only shows one flower...i apparently didn't realize i didn't get both flowers in!

one night recently i went and had dinner with my bff and her husband.  

we picked some fresh kale from her garden to make some kale chips.  if you've never tried them, check out how i make them here.

again, i failed to photograph the important part of the dinner...the food...but i did photograph the recipe! =)  it's from the 'bj's journal' magazine that comes to you if you're a bj's member and it was one of the best summer dishes i've had.

clearly, you don't need to make the amount the recipe calls for -- it serves 16(!!!), but i will tell you that with three of us eating this recipe, accompanying a pork chop for dinner, we all went back for seconds and ended up eating about half of it!  i think that's a successful veggie dish when everyone goes back for seconds!

once again, i'll tell you something that would be less disappointing if there was a photograph.  i tried to make this 'calabacitas' dish again...and it was awesome!!  but...i didn't totally follow the instructions...mostly because i decided on a whim to make it and didn't have all the exact ingredients.  i used:  one large zucchini and two small squash, one red bell pepper because i didn't have jalepenos (although, my bff's husband isn't too keen on spice, so he used a bell pepper and an anaheim pepper), and i used three small fresh tomatoes that i diced because i didn't have a can of them in the pantry.  i used some red pepper flake to add to the spice (since i omitted the jalepeno) and i used what i had left of a bag of frozen corn, probably about 3/4 of a cup.  this recipe is clearly one you can't mess up.  you can easily put your own twist on it...and if spice isn't your thing at all, definitely use a bell pepper and use a cheese without the spicy peppers.  (although i have to admit, i think the pepper jack cheese is what makes this dish.)

while i was at my bff's house we wandered around and looked at her flowers (check out her huge garden in the back!)...and we came across a tree that had been hit by lightning!  (yes, i have a picture of that!)

crazy, huh?!  it was totally neat to see the path of the lightning from the tree across some of their land...mother nature sure can express herself!

what else have we been up to?  mike and i hit the driving range at fore-u golf center one sunday morning for a little fun!  we each got a medium bucket for $7 each, but there's a smaller $5 option as well as a large bucket for $9.  and, if you don't have your own clubs, it's just $.50 to rent one!

i love golf.  i'm not good...but i love it.  and the driving range is enough for me to satisfy my love for golf.  (at least until i improve.)  i can drive the ball about 75 yards straight.  every. single. time.  i wish i could hit it further, but i guess i'll get there with more practice.  mike can really hit it just really likes to go really far to the right. every. single. time.  so, at least we're consistent?!  haha.

we were on the upper deck of the driving range.  it overlooks the mini golf course.

cute, right?!  i just love it.  we didn't take advantage of mini golf that day...and we also didn't go to the ice cream fore-u part to get a sweet treat, but they have some delicious ice cream!  many hard scoop flavors, plus the traditional soft serve, shakes, sundaes, and even hot dogs!  and a playground for the kids!

one of my favorite things we've done this summer was this past weekend.  we went to the local harpoon brewery for their annual bbq festival.  i've never been to harpoon's brewery, despite it being about 20 minutes from where i live...but i'm glad i made this my first visit.  it was awesome!

because i'll never describe this event properly, let me just share what harpoon says about it on their website:

What is Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue all about?
  • A celebration of the best of Summer—Fresh beer, great BBQ, & live music 
  • The Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont offers an ideal setting for the event
  • 40 BBQ Teams from all over will be competing for prize money & trophies
  • A select few teams will be selling their award winning BBQ to the public
  • Great live music provided by the hottest local bands from Vermont 
  • Come sit back, relax and enjoy the summer with friends at Harpoon Brewery
  • Brewery tours offered through out the weekend
as we drove towards the event, still on the main road, the smell of bbq was intense.  and amazing.  we could hardly wait to get our hungry selves inside.  the entrance fee was $15 which got you in the event and gave you one beer ticket.  subsequent beer tickets were $5 each.

we had a group of seven and really enjoyed wandering around together or separate to get a feel for the place and scope out what bbq we wanted to try first.

(just slap a 'bad blogger' picture on my forehead because, AGAIN, i failed to photograph the food.)

(but you can see other peoples' that kinda counts, right?!)


we tried several different places.  there was pulled pork, ribs, brisket, nachos, tacos, burnt ends, chicken, was ridiculous.  my mouth was watering immediately.  we tried some pulled pork that was delicious and some ribs that were pretty good...but...

my favorite foods of the day were the pulled pork tacos from smokin hoggz bbq and the ribs from three guys basement bbq.

smokin' hoggz is a competition bbq team that also does catering.  their pulled pork tacos were amazing.  they were 2 for $7, so my friend jen (my ballet friend) and i split them.  (at this event you could easily spend a lot of money and eat entirely too much jen, her husband luc, mike, and i shared a lot.  like a. lot.)  the simple flour tortilla was a great vessel for the sweet and slightly spicy pulled pork.

jen and i:

my favorite ribs of the day, from three guys basement bbq, were so fantastic.  you know i love bacon, right?  (i mean, who doesn't?!)  they baste their ribs with bacon grease.  talk about yum-town!  luckily for my belly, they are located in the next town over (quite close to morano gelato!), so i'll be getting my favorite rib fix sooner rather than later.  they opened a few months ago and i'm so glad i got to know their food because i will definitely be visiting their restaurant!

there were lots of dogs there...i can't wait to get a dog! =)

the clouds started rolling in just as we were getting ready to leave.  good timing!  it poured.
i'm thrilled that i now have two great places to visit!  i can't wait to go to harpoon on a regular day and have a beer and eat in their restaurant...even take a tour!!  and i'm trying to figure out the first possible night i can get dinner at three guys...those bacon grease basted ribs are calling my name!

those are most of the exciting things we've been up to lately.  i'm looking forward to visiting harpoon's bbq weekend for many years to come.  i even took home a souvenir...

a six pack of their new pumpkin ufo!!!

pumpkin beer is one of my favorite things about fall.  i've always been a huge fan of shipyard's pumpkinhead...and this harpoon pumpkin ufo is definite competition!  great pumpkin flavor...a very drinkable beer.

so...what have you been up to?!  any fun festivals?  or picnics?  or new beers?

i hope you enjoyed our adventures!  i'm back to my regularly scheduled blogging!

=) andrea

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