Monday, June 20, 2011

Front Yard

Now that the major work on the backyard and inside of the house is completed, we have started working on the front yard.

We found the chair in the background last weekend at an art gallery. It was made from the wood of an old barn. As soon as our raised beds arrive and we get them planted, I will take another picture.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tiki Cocktail Cake

We received a special request from an employee at North Star Lodge to make the Tiki Cocktail Cake featured in the June 2011 issue of the Food Network Magazine. We made the cake last night and Susan took it to work with her this morning.

Isn't this just cute? Out of all the cakes we have put together in the last year, this was by far the easiest to make and decorate.

New Additions

Susan loves to hang clothes outside so when she asked for a clothesline for Christmas I bought her one. A retractable one made the most sense so I looked at products over the Internet and purchased the one I thought would work best considering the information provided. Susan loved it, unfortunately, if we followed the directions, our layout did not leave us with an option for hanging the retractable end of the lines. We discussed the problem with our contractor and he told us that he could make it work and last weekend he came over and put up the clothesline. It is just perfect. Not only can we retract the lines when we are not using them, but the whole unit just lifts off the garage wall so we can bring it inside in the winter.

When we moved into our new house last year, we both decided that we were either going to use all the stuff we kept when we combined our houses or we were going to give it away. We must have at least five birdhouses without anyplace to put them. Our contractor built this post for us and we had him put it right outside the fence in the backyard so we can watch the birds when they take up residence.

The next step will be to paint the other houses so we can add at least two more to this post.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mother's Day

Susan and I were not able to celebrate Mother's Day with Mom this year as they were still in Arizona, so we celebrated last weekend when they stopped and stayed with us for four days on their way up to Port Susan. We took Mom to lunch at The Whitehouse Cafe. We all ordered something different but as always the food was wonderful and we enjoyed our visit.

While it could not be a surprise since she was here, we also made her a teapot cake. Mom loves teapots and we thought this cake was just perfect for her. The pound cake has been baked and cut into the bottom and top of the cake and the lid.

The teapot is taking shape.

The body of the teapot is frosted and the lid is in place.

Susan had the hard job of kneading the fondant in order to work in the different colors for the flowers and then I cut them out.

Susan molded the handle, spout and the top of the lid out of marzipan.

Flowers are going on the teapot and heart sprinkles line the base of the lid.

The finished product. Mom liked her teapot and we had a great time making it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pittsburgh Visit

Susan and I went to Pittsburgh for the last week in May to visit with Julie, Tommy and Adam. They live in Mt. Lebanon on Pittsburgh's south side and we stayed in a hotel within a few miles of their house. Susan has not seen Adam since he started walking so it was a special vacation for her and she got to spend some quality time with him.

The day after we arrived Tommy and Julie took us to the Fairmont Hotel where Tommy works for lunch. I put a blue outline around the Fairmont Hotel to show what the hotel looks like from our seats at PNC Ballpark.

The restaurant, Habitat, has an open kitchen. This image shows the view of the kitchen from our table.

Our appetizers were Edamame and Naan bread with hummus, carmalized onions and cucumber dipping sauces.

A couple of the chefs preparing our lunch.

They are getting ready to bring our food to the table. The sweet potato fries are fantastic, as was all of the food.

This is how the hotel describes the restaurant on their website: Experience the signature appeal of Habitat - one of the best downtown Pittsburgh restaurants, with an international approach to domestic fare. Savor a distinctive experience that is internationally inspired yet home grown. Indulge in a contemporary twist on conventional confort foods. Using local ingrediatent to update traditional dishes from around the world, Habitat defines regional cuisine. The restaurant also features a spectacular chef's table next to a dynamic open kitchen, as well as an elegant bar.

We took in a Pirates games while in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Cubs won this particular game but the weather was fantastic and the ballbark is beautiful.

Susan and I walked around the park to see what we could find in the gift shop. The red square near the center of the picture is what Tommy, Adam and Julie looked like from the other side of the ballpark. We had nice seats on the club level where we could go inside when we needed to cool down and sit on comfortable couches while watching the game on TV.

The Strip is a revitalized section of downtown Pittsburgh. I saw this mural on the side of one of the buildings.
One of Tommy and Julie's favorite places to eat breakfast is DeLuca's on The Strip. The food was great and the place was packed. They serve Chocolate Chip pancakes with ice cream on them for breakfast. That should give you a clue that this is not healthy fare, but it was fun.

We went into a candy store and found this chocolate sculpture of Rapunzal.

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company is also in this section of downtown. This is just part of the board identifying the variety of cheese for sale.

There was a wonderful spice store that we spent quite a bit of time in looking at everything.

One afternoon was spent at the Pittsburgh Science Center. I really enjoyed this place. Some of us tried our had at performing surgery; Susan and Tommy toured a submarine and Adam enjoyed walking up and down the ramps. In this picture, Adam is putting balls into a vacuum tube, which lifted them into a holding tank above his head. When the weight of the balls reached a certain point, all the balls would drop and the kids really liked that.

Tommy and I both tried to get a picture of the tentacles sticking out of Adam's mouth as he ate Calamari at Buca diBeppo's. Adam is not a picky eater to say the least.

One of our favorite places to walk around while we were in Pittsburgh was Giant Eagle, a grocery store that thankfully was located right across the road from our hotel. The store is awesome and pictures would not do it justice, but I did take a picture of the wine kiosks having never seen one before. In Pennsylvania, you cannot be wine in grocery stores but they do have these kiosks that are run by the State Liquor Control Board. You have to show ID and take a breathalizer test before you can purchase the wine.

We had a very good time on this trip and look forward to visiting again.