Category Archives: On The Road

A Very Dallas Vacation Recap: Day 2

Our second day of Dallas vacation was all about the nutmeats of our trip there — the State Fair of Texas. When we visited two years ago Patty was all, “Oh, and while you’re here we can go to the state fair!” and we were all, “Whatevs. We’re not fair people,” and then we got there and we were all, “WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL US ABOUT THIS SOONER???” The State Fair of Texas is the awesomest place on earth, and is a photo hobbyist’s greatest dream come true. Last time around we had but one camera and had only been using it for about six weeks. This time? We came armed with two cameras (upgraded ones!), many lenses, and at least a vague notion of how to use them. (Emphasis there on “vague”. Seriously, we don’t have a clue.) And we timed our trip to get a sunset ride on the Texas Star (except Schnookie’s tendency to worry about missing shit and getting places way early meant we… didn’t see the sunset on the Texas Star), and an evening spent taking pictures of bright lights on the midway. Oh, and somewhere in there, we ate fried food. Oh, and before we went to the fair? We went to Stars practice. Yeah, we know how to live. Here’s a sampling of our pictures.

At Stars Practice

Practice through the fisheye, by Schnookie

Deep Fried Beer With Big Tex

Deep fried beer, with Big Tex bokeh. It’s a preztel-dough ravioli, essentially, filled with warm beer. It was worth being able to say we tried it, but probably not worth ever eating again.

Fried Goods

Deep fried latte and deep fried frozen margarita. Both are truly excellent foodstuffs. Seriously. Try them as soon as you can.

Aswirl

The swing ride thing lit up, by Schnookie

Bokeh Spinner

The swing ride thing, bokeh-style, by Pookie

The Swing Ride

The swing ride thing, in the gloaming, by Schnookie

October 17 2010

Ride lights and the Texas Star, by Schnookie

You re A Star

You’re a star, by Pookie

Love Bugs

Love Bugs, by Schnookie

Lensbaby Spinner

The swing ride thing, with Lensbaby bokeh, by Pookie

Pookie On The Texas Star

Pookie, by Schnookie

Texas Star Is Made Of Bokeh

The Texas Star is made of bokeh, by Pookie

Rotating

The swing ride thing lights in motion again, by Schnookie

Love On The Texas Star

Love on the Texas Star, by Pookie

FIsheye Big Tex

Fisheye Big Tex, by Pookie

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A Very Dallas Vacation Recap: Day 1

You may have heard that we recently spent a marvelous week (In Dallas) with our great friend Patty. Since returning home we’ve slowly been building up to being able to share the stories and pictures from this wonderful vacation; we don’t like to rush into things, though. We’ve been busy! We can’t be helped that travelogues don’t write themselves! But excuses aside, it’s time for you to gird yourself for our blog-style vacation slide show. It’s like being trapped at our house for a cocktail party, but in text.

Our first big adventure in Dallas was to meet up with Myra, Dave, Grace, and Caitlin for a scrumptious dinner at our favorite restaurant Matito’s, and then to watch from kick-ass seats while the Stars played the Blues. Before you scoff at that less-than-sexy matchup, it should be noted that this was a couple of weeks ago — Patty was still gloating that her team was unbeaten. ::Eyeroll:: Whatever, Patty. Good for you. (Not that we’re bitter about the stupid Devils.) The game was a pretty exciting affair, not that you could tell from our photos, and then we capped off the evening with a visit to Patty’s friend Jim’s skyrise apartment to see his boffo views of the Dallas cityscape. All in all, it was a day extremely well spent.

Matitos

Stars over Matito’s, by Pookie

October 16 2010

Smoke-spewing star, by Pookie

Speed Lines

A study in motion and long shutter speed, poorly, by Schnookie

Disco Ball

Disco ball with rink reflected, by Schnookie

Stars Opening Video

Escher jumbotron, by Pookie

Disco Bokeh

Disco ball bokeh, by Schnookie

We're Number One

Number one, number one, number one, by Pookie

Disco Stars

Dude, was Schnookie even watching the game, or was it just the disco ball?, by Schnookie

Fisheye Dallas Skyline

Dallas through the fisheye, by Pookie

Bokeh Dallas Skyline

Dallas bokeh, by Pookie

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Filed under On The Road, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

We Take The Most Exciting Vacations: Part 2

Before heading out to Columbus, we took an evening to explore the restaurant options around our hotel. In the process, we discovered that there was an exciting — dare we say, exotic? — destination right around the corner from our home base for the trip. Just seeing the name of the destination on the map was enough to make it an essential stop. It was, in fact, so essential that even after the exhausting trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory, we had no choice but to muster up the energy to walk the two blocks to the…

Central Ohio Fire Museum! WOOOOOO!!!!

Fire Museum Facade

Okay, okay, before you decide we’re too dorky to speak to us ever again, hear us out. Item number 72 on the Scavenger Hunt 101 list is a fire engine. Pookie found one right away, but Schnookie was having a tough time finding one. And there were sure to be fire engines galore at the Central Ohio Fire Museum, right? Right!

Steam Powered Fire Engine

We had intended to zip in, get some cool shots of old fire engines, and then book it back to the hotel to finish up the heated best-of-five cribbage battle we had going (okay, now you can decide we’re too dorky to be friends with). The people who run the fire museum had other ideas. They pounced on us the minute we got in the door — actually they saw us walking down the street with our cameras and rightly assumed we were headed their way which allowed them to pounce on us before we even got to the door — and sucked us into to taking a tour. This was, needless to say, not what we had in mind.

However, it turned out to be pretty interesting. Not long after the start of the tour, an active fireman and amateur historian on vacation from Chicago (yup, he was there to see the hockey game, too) joined us, and as result, we ended up getting some cool insight into how things have changed for modern firemen. We learned fun facts like why fire plugs are called fire plugs, why cities like Columbus had professional fire departments before NYC, Philly, and Chicago, and what the “hook” in “hook and ladder” is for. And when the tour ended, we had plenty of time to fulfill our original goal of taking a few pictures.

And Schnookie got her Scavenger Hunt picture. And then Pookie kicked her ass at cribbage. It was a great way to end a fabulous vacation.

Fire Alarm Box

Fire Ladders

Brylin the Fire Man

Ye Olde Hand Pumped Fire Engine

Ye Olde Fire Museum Lamp

Rainbow Firehat

It's Where We're At

To see the entire collection of pictures we took on vacation, click

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We Take The Most Exciting Vacations: Part 1

This past weekend we decided we’d had enough of New Jersey and headed on out for a long weekend in an exotic locale. Since we both hate air travel, the exotic locale had to be somewhere drivable. And since it’s still the hockey season it would help if the destination had an NHL team. And since we’ve both been bitten by the quilting bug, a place with a nice quilt store would be a plus. We plugged those three requirements into the trusty IPBTravelTron3000 and discovered that the place for us was none other than Columbus, OH! WOOO!!!

The eight hour drive out there was delightful, bucolic, and involved driving through tunnels under mountains. Exotic! The hockey game was amazingly fun and the home team fires a canon after every goal. Exotic! The quilt stores were stunning and we left with piles of fabulous fabric, including some imports from Japan. Exotic! However, with the exception of the spectacular Blue Jackets mascot, Stinger:

March 25 2010

the opportunities for photos at those places weren’t great. So here in this space, we’ll share with you the two photography excursions we went on. The first was the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Driving there, we had visions of Victorian palm houses straight out of an Amanda Quick novel. Once we got there, our hopes were dashed and then trampled upon by the hordes of school children teeming all over the place. Shudder. The entire place was overrun with students with the notable exception of the handful of other adults with DSLRs who were also clearly unhappy that kids in Ohio are ever let out of the classroom. Somehow, though, we persevered and managed to snap a few shots of the place.

Orange Orchids

Bonzai Bark

Purple Orchids

Pink Cyclemen

The Orchid Area

Woven

In addition to having several conservatories for different regions — the Himalayas, rain forest, dessert, South Pacific — the conservatory is home to a bunch of art glass installations by Dale Chihuly. Normally, this isn’t the kind of art that floats our boats, but in context, it looked really striking tucked in with the plants.

Blue Glass

Blue Glass Sculpture Garden

Chihuly Cave

Ship Of Chihuly

The best part of the trip to the Conservatory, though, was that both of us were able to check off one of the most troubling items on the Scavenger Hunt 101 list: a waterfall. Pookie predicted we’d find waterfalls in Columbus, and she was right!

Inside The Waterfall

Waterfall

If you’d like to see the rest of the photos from the Conservatory, you can see the whole set here. Stay tuned for Part 2 for the other exciting photo excursion.

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Filed under On The Road, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Delicacies of Dallas: Caramel Corn

On our first night here (in Dallas) we had to stop at Patty’s local grocery store to pick up some essentials (Diet Coke, Diet Coke, ice cream, Diet Coke). As we were waltzing down the aisles, something caught our eye. Readers of IPB Proper may remember that we have a bit of a habit of impulse buying strange foods when we find ourselves in grocery stores while on vacation. In Buffalo, it was mochi. In Dallas, it was Orville Reddenbacher’s Caramel corn.

Patty was shocked that we didn’t have this particular item in New Jersey. I suspect its sphere of influence includes NJ, it’s just not part of our daily sphere of concern. And for that reason, neither of us could say no to trying it out. I mean, it’s microwave popcorn that has scads of prep instructions!

It should be noted that we were both recently struck with a completely-out-of-the-blue craving for microwave popcorn. Picking over the options at our grocery store, we selected Newman’s Own Butter Boom.

While it wasn’t half-bad — the flavor was good at first but lingered with a nasty aftertaste, and the overall consistency was rubbery — it also wasn’t so good that we felt like it was worth trying again. Evidently, we were wrong. After a bit of a microwave mishap and one bag of burnt popcorn left on the back porch to cool down, we had a bowl of fluffy white (probably rubbery) popcorn. And we had a packet of caramel. Pardon me, a “caramel flavored wafer”. The scads of instructions said to the wafer in fourths…

… And then place the resulting pieces strategically atop the popcorn…

… And then microwave it again to get the caramel wafer “bubbly and frothy”.

I’m not sure this is the very picture of “bubbly and frothy”, but it was melted enough for the next step — stirring with heat proof spoons. Patty tried to throw Schnookie off her game by shouting, “Don’t use those wooden spoons! They’ll catch fire!” But even that bit of kitchen tomfoolery didn’t keep Schnookie from stirring that popcorn-caramel concoction like a pro.

The ten minutes spent waiting for it to cool were tense and anxious. Would the popcorn be a better or worse culinary experience than the mochi? Were the off-putting aromas coming from the bowl a preview of the taste? Was the time and trouble spent making the treat utterly misspent? There was only one way to find out.

Initial reaction? Not bad! Certainly better than expected. Schnookie said it best when she said, shocked, “It’s like… caramel corn!” I’m sure Orville’s relieved we won’t sue them for false advertising. But seriously, our expectations were so low, the fact that it did briefly resemble caramel corn is a huge point in its favor. The fact that it hardened too much, too fast is a point against. The caramel was stronger than the popcorn, making it very, very difficult to pull the kernels apart. After settling some more, the caramel took on less of a caramel-y flavor and more of a toffee. Which is not a bad thing. The popcorn itself still had the rubbery microwave popcorn problem, but the coating of caramel/toffee/chemicals covered it up. All in all, it was a fun thing to try and to eat most of, but not a culinary endeavor worth repeating. So endeth our momentary infatuation with microwave popcorn.

The final review is: Microwave Caramel Popcorn – .5 stars, Mochi – negative 100 stars.

Update: 30 minutes after we finished the popcorn it became clear that it was… not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.

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Filed under On The Road, Slumming It, Taste Test

Delicacies of Dallas: State Fair Edition

An ode to the world’s greatest foodstuff:

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Chicken-fried bacon
You’re the most amazing thing ever invented good golly but you’re freaking delicious.

Chicken Fried Bacon

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Filed under Dining Out, Meats Meats Meats, On The Road, You Don't See That Every Day

Restocking The Stash: On The Road With IPB Living, Chapter 4

Today was the big day — time to do a full-day, deep immersion trip to The Attic. We started things off with a side trip to this lovely, wee desert garden in North Scottsdale (as documented here), then made a quick stop at AJ’s, our old favorite grocery store, for some goodies to bring to Jean, Sandy and Deborah at The Attic.

Okay, that’s a total lie. We were using Jean, Sandy and Deborah as an excuse to get our hands on some of AJ’s cheesecake brownies; we used to get these every Friday to go with our traditional DiGiorno dinners, as a reward for surviving another crappy week in our crappy jobs. The brownies were every bit as good as we remembered, too. An added plus was that we got to drive past our old workplace on the way, where we pointed and chorused a lusty round of Nelson Muntz “Ha ha!”s at the poor souls stuck working there now.

Apparently when Boomer was just out of college and working in her first job, her stepfather, the immortal Cowboy Red, would tell her every time she brought home a certificate for completing training courses that it was something to put in her “Girl Graduate Book”. When we suggested we were going to take a picture of the old workstead, she cracked that it would go in our Girl Graduate Books. So… consider it done.

Along the drive down to Mesa, we got a nice look at Camelback Mountain again, in its full camel-y splendor.

The most exciting landmark on Camelback for little kids visiting their grandparents (and for the adults they grow up to be) is the Praying Monk, a rock formation that looks like, well, a praying monk. The name really does kind of say it all. (There is also a formation that looks just like Lincoln’s face, but you have to be on the other side of the mountain to see it.)

Okay, so sightseeing done, we descended upon The Attic at about 10 a.m.. We didn’t leave until 3:00 p.m.. Yeah, that’s right — five hours of stitching shopping. It was heavenly. So what goes on during all that time? Excellent question.

First, there’s the thread pulling. Most of the projects we buy aren’t kitted up, so we start with the chart, and then have to pull all the threads from Jean’s vast array of options. There’s DMC cotton, Needlepoint Inc silk, Gentle Arts and Weeks Dye Works overdyed cotton, Belle Soie overdyed silk, among many other options, and the old standby for every silk snob like us — Au Ver Au Soie.

Oftentimes the chart we’re looking at will be charted in a fiber we don’t want to use, so that’s when you break out the conversion chart.

Today Pookie was looking at a chart written for cotton, which is stitched with two plies, but she wanted to work it in silk, which is only stitched with one ply. That’s not normally a problem, but in this case, the chart called for blending two colors by working with one ply of each. This left Pookie with the task of choosing a substitute color to work in the combination’s place.

Here’s a green and a brown that were supposed to be worked together:

Here are the options she was considering:

And here, on the left, is the one she picked:

Fun, no? The more creative you get with a chart, and the more substitutions and color swaps you work in, the messier the chart itself ends up looking. Here’s a peek at Pookie’s tracking of the color changes she was planning:

Meanwhile, Schnookie was planning how to convert various and sundry charts from DMC or Needlepoint Inc into Elizabeth Bradley wools, for working on canvas.

Once the threads are all settled on for a project, the next step is to choose a linen. This is a very delicate step — the linen can make or break a project. This one, for a little Halloween piece, doesn’t do anything for us:

But this one? Is perfect:

Different materials and different palettes give all kinds of opportunities for different colors, counts, and “vintage” hand-dyed looks on the linens.

As we worked, our pile of supplies kept growing.

So, with plenty of time for chatting with the delightful ladies of The Attic, and a nice leisurely lunch, five hours spent at the shop translated into seven projects pulled by Pookie and eight by Boomer. It was especially fun to be there today, because it was open by appointment just for us — we had the whole shop to ourselves. For all that we’ve spent months looking forward to this trip, it amazingly exceeded all our expectations.

When we had finally exhausted ourselves completely, it was time to check out. Boomer was rung up first:

And then it was Pookie’s turn:

The final tally for a once-every-two-years restocking trip was, um, tens of dollars. Tens and tens. The whole pile looked pretty modest when it was bagged up…

… but spread out, it’s a pretty impressive haul. Here’s Boomer’s pile:

And here’s Pookie’s:

Not too shabby!

We headed back to the hotel after shopping and collapsed into a restful afternoon of stitching before heading back out to dinner. Our target tonight was Fashion Square Mall, where we wanted to do a little regular-person shopping and have a meal at Z Tejas. It’s hardly the world’s greatest restaurant, but it was our go-to “lazy weeknight” place to eat out when we lived here, and we love, love, love the Chambord margaritas. Dinner was predictably good, and left us feeling delightfully like we had to go back to work tomorrow morning. Heh. It’s always nice to get a reminder of how good life is by momentarily thinking that we’re still stuck in our crappy Arizona-life jobs. After we ate, we strolled the mall and Pookie found a kick-ass pair of sunglasses while Schnookie stumbled on the new purse she didn’t realize she was dreaming of. What could be better?

Storm clouds had covered this part of the valley while we were at the mall, so we drove home in the rain, then enjoyed one last night of stitching in our hotel, listening to the thunder outside. We’ll have to be up and at ’em in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, though, to catch our early, early, early flight home. All in all, this has been a marvelous vacation — good times, good company, great stash restocking. It just doesn’t get better than that.

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Filed under Away From Home, Bonanza!, On The Road, Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling, Stitching