Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Woodard/Cohen/Gilbert/Monahan Holiday Party

During our visit to New Jersey for the holidays, Toby and Steve hosted a gathering for the extended family. Matt's grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins descended upon Shrewsbury to join the Monahans and us for a festive family party. Steve was sure to get all 20 of us outside to capture the event and here's the best of the bunch - it's not easy to get everyone's eyes open at once, much less having Jack lower his bottle!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aileen is Styling

Aileen borrowed Matt's sunglasses during our car ride to JFK. Tres chic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Furniture Challenge

Matt and I have made the decision to keep Sunapee off of the furniture. He has his bed and his crate and all of the floor for lounging. Naturally, Sunapee would prefer to curl up on the bed, a couch or the ottoman. Today, when Matt was home, Sunapee tested the rule and got comfortable on the bed. Matt told him to get "OFF!" which he did, only to be discovered on the living room couch moments later. Clearly, this is a work in progress.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunapee Underfoot

Sunapee is a people dog. He likes to be wherever the people gather. This can be a challenge when there are multiple people in multiple places. His favorite spot to lounge is in the kitchen, right in front of whatever appliance our counterspace is being used. We had to use all the distraction methods in our arsenal to keep him out of the way when tiling, painting, staining, what have you. The soundtrack for all the work was filled with "Sunapee, come here"/"Sunapee, go away!" He managed to come away with only a few specks of green or white paint.

Post Housework Feast

Finally the time came to clean the paintbrushes, put away the grout and get to the real work of Thanksgiving: eating.
We enjoyed a soup course for one simple reason: we have a lot of soup bowls. I have inherited two sets of china - one from my great aunt Eno and another from my grandmother. Both sets include soup bowls, plus a set of crystal soup bowls from my grandmother's collection. This really left me no choice but to start with the soup course while the turkey finished in the oven.Matt took charge of the turkey this year. Not only did he carve the bird, as you see above, but he made arrangements to have it deep fried. After a night spent in a brine, the bird had a 6:45 am appointment at a bar in Potrero Hill to meet some hot oil. It was quite delicious and took away much of the Thanksgiving dinner stress. How else could we keep painting until 3 pm?

Every few years, Thanksgiving shares the spotlight with my mom's birthday, as it did again this year. To commemorate, her pie earned a candle. Happy Birthday Mom!

Experts Agree

the ideal time to install tile is six months after finishing the rest of a major project. Most also agree the best time to install a kitchen back splash is on a major cooking holiday.

Working Vacation

Just like last year, my parents are on an eleven day California vacation. They started in San Francisco Monday night and drove to SoCal Friday. Also just like last year and as well as Dad's trip in May, Matt and I put them to work. After plying Mom with a spa trip and Dad with a racquetball game, both were assigned tasks. Mom and I went to work refinishing our el cheapo Ikea dining table before painting trim (she the windows installed in March and me the front door).

The before
And the After

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My once prized possession

I ran across this photo when transferring the contents of our Ikea desk to my great-grandfather's desk. It is one of only a few showing my "night-night" in its original glorious state. In the 25+ years after this photo, this blanket practically shredded from love and overuse. Yes, I will admit it. I slept with this blanket every night for nearly 27 years. It lost most of its mass and any semblance of shape. Around year 20 it passed the point of being untangled into the rectangle it once was.

On a very sad day in February 2005, I was on a business trip to Phoenix. I came down with bronchitis, mid-audit. I spent the day + night sick in a hotel room and took a 6 am flight back to Boston. When I unpacked, I learned that in my sick state, I had left my night-night in the hotel room. Calls to the hotel staff yielded the sad truth that a blanket in such a state was not lost-and-found-worthy. My night-night was gone.

My mom and sister were very sympathetic. Betsy knows the joys of a night-night (she has 3); my mom had made mine. Betsy mailed me a speck that had landed on her floor during one of my visits that she had saved for posterity. My mom sent a larger section that had separated from the rest years before, anticipating such a point where the large section was either lost or shrank even more. Sadly, neither could replace the original.

I am fully aware that this is not normal - to keep a baby blanket for 25 or 30 years. But I am still saddened by its sudden disappearance. At least now I have Matt and two cats to take its place as I sleep. That is more than a fair trade.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dinner with a Walrus

We went out to dinner with friends Jennifer and Dean as well as their 3 kids, Quinn, Tycho and Tate, and Dean's parents. The kids are really great and fun to see. I had to snap some photos of Tycho when he used some fries to become a walrus. Luckily, at nearly 3 years old, he didn't stick them in his nose.

I love spending time with this family as Jennifer and Dean are such great parents (and the kids are pretty awesome, too). We try to make note of some of their strategies for the future. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sunapee's big day at the vet

Sunapee has survived the big surgery. He lost some, he gained some (a microchip). Most of all, he's confused and tired! The biggest two challenges he's facing with the lampshade are 1) running into things (like the walls, doorways, stairs, coffee table) and 2) limited accessibility of his toys.

The vet visit did confirm that he is, indeed, 60 pounds! And still all-puppy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where was this 1996-2000?

Betsy's biggest (only?) piece of advice to me when I went to college was this:

Always carry an umbrella. If you don't have it, it will rain.

Good advice and I usually followed it. Too bad this site didn't exist when I was in college (ok, yes, I would have also needed a cell phone and no one had texting yet):

You type in your zip code and it says YES (as in yes, you need an umbrella) or NO (you do not need an umbrella). If you want, you can sign up for it to send you a text message on days when you need an umbrella.

I love it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thoughts on Weather Forecasts

Every morning when I'm getting ready for work, I have the Today show on to distract me and gain some knowledge on current events. Like most people, I zero in on the weather forecast portion so I can be prepared for the day.

Why am I writing about this? Well, because weather forecasts on Bay Area stations are so very odd. Rather than showing expected highs and lows for the next 7 days in a graphic like the rest of the country, they show coastal and inland temperatures. Today's temperature range was 55-92 (give or take a degree). Yes, that's a nearly 40 degree range. So, if you're watching this channel, you have to take an educated guess of your actual temperature.

Further, given the size of the region, they will show a map with expected temperatures in the different cities and towns. This is all well and good except San Francisco gets one number. The challenge is to guess if this one number is an average? for the bay side? ocean side? middle? in the heights? in a valley? It's a wonder I don't carry an extra large bag to hold all the layers I might need in a day.

That said, I'm happy to live here with its weather oddities any day.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Birthday Weekend in LA

Matt surprised me with a birthday trip to LA and spend the weekend in Torrance at Betsy & Evan's new house. Here are the pics of some of our activities.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

NH Vacation Part 3 - Family Reunion

The vacation included a Lawson family reunion of sorts to celebrate Gramps' life. Mom served dinner for the crowd at the Farm where everyone met the newest member, Lilly, caught up and shared stories.

My cousins Mercy, Julia and my second cousin Lilly

Lilly gets to know Betsy

The troops dine al fresco

Betsy & Lilly the next day

NH Vacation Part 2 - The Blueberry Chronicles

There are 6 blueberry bushes behind the house. This has meant numerous years, decades, generations (4 generations at least) of blueberry picking. For my mom, it means August blueberry extravaganzas and year round blueberry baking. For Betsy & me, it means all you can eat free(ish) blueberries during summer visits.

As my mom pointed out, picking blueberries in early August can be overwhelming and even anxiety-inducing. There are just so many to pick. How could anyone possibly pick them all? Even when you spend an hour filling up several vessels (including one's mouth), the bushes still look full of berries. You go back a day later and there are more that have grown and ripened. It's never ending. But it's ok. Blueberry everything (i.e. pie, coffee cake, salsa, sauce, butter, jam, soup, margaritas, muffins - yes, she has a cookbook devoted entirely to blueberries) is worth the stress.

Did I mention the blueberry margaritas and salsa? Yum.

NH Vacation Part 1 - Starting Vacation Mode

To start the New Hampshire vacation, Betsy and I arrived in New London Friday morning, after a short 1 night visit in Boston with Amy and Keri of the Gang. We started the visit right with an afternoon and evening at the cottages on Pleasant Lake. One cottage was vacant so we had a grilled dinner there after enjoying the sunshine on the dock.

I took the opportunity to start a good Summer book

The sun went down but that doesn't stop us from sitting here enjoying the view

The next day we forced it to be a beach day, but to get at least a little exercise before the feasts to come, we biked to Colby Point. The hills seem so insignificant by car.

We spent Sunday night at the Lake Sunapee Yacht Club. It rained but we didn't care because we sat overlooking the water from under the overhang.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Hampshire Vacation

Rather than post 139 pictures in the blog, here's a slide show of our New Hampshire vacation. They are captioned to give you a guided tour of events, location and sometimes even people. I'll post some highlights individually, too.

If you want to see them at your own speed or larger, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

30 Years Ago

Not sure which month these are from, but they're definitely 1978. Hooray for scanners!

Grandma & Grandpa Taber holding Betsy & me

Dad doing the same

27 Years Ago

Early on, my mom set the birthday cake bar pretty high. Not only were her cakes very tasty, they were works of art. I remember two in particular. One cake was in the shape of a hand when I turned 5 and I was excited to be "a whole hand." The other cake was a school bus. I had always thought these cakes came in the same year because I got to start riding the bus at 5. However, sorting through all the photos at the Farm I came across a photo of the school bus cake, dated 1981, and it was in honor of my 3rd birthday. It seems the height of my school bus obsession was when I was 2 and Betsy was 5 and she got to ride the bus to Kindergarten. Yes, I was once so in love with the big yellow bus that a) my mom made me a replica in icing and b) one day I followed Betsy onto the bus. Mr. Bernstein was startled by my presence and just waited patiently until my mom came out, dressed in her nightgown & robe, and also boarded the bus to retrieve me. Sorry Mom!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Five Minute Test

I heard about this from my Daily Candy email:

See how many of the most frequently used words you can think of in five minutes.
Where: Online at

I pretty much blanked, or just haven't had enough coffee for an 8am quiz, but I'm sure anyone will beat my score of 38.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kitchen Project: Last Task

While we've been using the new kitchen for quite a while now, there is still one glaringly unfinished piece: the backspash between the range and microwave. It remains an uncovered 18"x30" section of backer board, just waiting for tile. All the tile has finally arrived (we ordered it in May, only 1/4 of our order arrived in late June, the rest a few weeks ago) and now we have to actually tackle this project.

The plan is to use three different color tiles, all hand made in Texas or Tennessee or somewhere, to coordinate with blue/red pendant lights. Unfortunately, being handmade, none of them are exactly 2"x4" as advertised. Mostly, they're 1 7/8" x 3 3/4" which leaves us with a bit of extra cutting & filling to do. Oh, well.

Last night we decided to determine the pattern & see how random we could make the color scheme. Here is the winner:

This is an earlier variation, before some Rummikub-like moves.

And our first attempt - tried a basket weave pattern to be different, but it looked too American flag / quilt-like.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vacation from the World

Matt and I have just returned from a week's vacation (give or take a few days) in New Hampshire. Up there, at the Farm, it's like a complete unplug from normal life (we watch little TV, just the boys use the internet and cell phone service is spotty at best). We are still getting back into the swing of things. I will blame this vacation on my delinquent blogging. However, I have back-dated some entries to fill in the July gaps. So scroll down!

I'll upload and post the vacation photos soon - including some great pics of my adorable little second cousin Lilly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recipe for Tolerable Office Coffee

Mix 5 parts crappy coffee with 1 part hot water. Add packet of no sugar added hot chocolate, 1-2 yellow sweetener packets (or blue if office doesn't have yellow. If office only has pink, fire up the resume) . Stir. Add milk (or milk substitute if you've forgotten to bring in your own milk). Voila! Free or nearly free mocha. Bonus points for shaking your milk and spooning in the foam.

Monday, July 28, 2008


We went camping this weekend with friends Kevin, Heather and Greg as well as Sunapee and Bridger. This brought us back up North towards Mendocino, only not on the coast so with much nicer weather. We stayed in Hendy Woods (with about 100 other groups) which was pretty nice, especially for a last minute plan.

First order of business (well, second after lunch and a beer), was to bring the dogs to the river for a swim. Then we enjoyed the day setting up camp, cooking some steak, chicken, corn on the cob, playing cards and enjoying each other's company around the fire.

Sunapee is very confident with the river and had more success than he normally does in the ocean.

The hike to the river and the swimming definitely tired out Sunapee.

Kevin cooked and ate with what Heather calls his Crocodile Dundee knife.