Sunday the 1st, Jill wanted to got to her favorite yarn store and to Rustico for her birthday. Due to the power outages, the Alexandria location was closed, so we ended up in Ballston for a late lunch. Everyone left ridiculously stuffed (even Nina), loved the brunch burger, then we discovered the Ballston location has a very kid friendly fountain between it and Buzz – next time we’ll bring a swimsuit.


Wednesday the 4th I got up with Nina in the morning, then when she went down for a nap, so did I, only I slept twice as long (over 3 hours). That night Nina had dinner with us (and her first burger). The best thing about it was she went to bed almost an hour and a half late, which meant she slept right through all of the fireworks (literally house shaking, monitor went off for each one). Saturday the 7th it was brutally hot, so we skipped a planned classical music rehearsal at Wolf Trap and stayed inside all day. Really hot days and rainy days are similar: lots of time indoors, mostly building a cardboard fort and napping.


Sunday the 8th it was still hot, but we were meeting Dad at the Nationals game (not quite as easy to blow off). Luckily in planning for shade I bought club seats, which meant the area behind it was closed off and air conditioned. Jill and Nina stayed there most of the game, while I joined Dad for a while and went to Shake Shack for some lunch (burger was ok, shake was great). I brought Nina outside for half an inning which included an RBI and a forced out. Very exciting stuff, she jumped up and down. On the way home we drove through a storm brought on by a cold front that plunged the temperature 18 degrees in 3 minutes.

Nina and Dad

Wednesday the 11th Jill and I headed over to Wolf Trap for the Cracker/Big Head Todd & The Monsters/Barenaked Ladies show. I thought no one could mess with sign language interpreters like DaVinci’s Notebook – until BNL took the stage. Now I never have to wonder what “melted scrotum” looks like. It’s rare that I go to two shows in a row anymore, but I couldn’t miss Roger Waters doing The Wall the next night. Solo, so I got in some CD shopping and a lobster roll from Luke’s. Saturday the 14th we had our annual celebration of Mom’s and Jill’s birthdays and Father’s Day. We had it at Dad’s (but not outside due to the storms), and Nina was the star of the day, as usual. It was official this week that Nina had six teeth (4 upper, 2 lower).


Thursday the 19th we left early in the morning on our annual trip to New England (skipped last year for the first time since we started in 2003). Nina took two steps on her own the night before we left and wasn’t quite ready to try it again soon (especially since so many people wanted to help her walk). We took our first long stop in Edison, NJ to have a late breakfast at Sonic, then stopped at the Barnes & Noble in the nearby mall that has a huge kids section. The next big stop was in Danbury, CT at the nearest playground we could find, then we stopped for lunch at Desert Moon (a lesser version of Moe’s) in a strip mall with a Starbucks and a very nice beer store. After jumping off the highway for the third time due to traffic, we were close enough to the Brady’s to stop and visit with them, then we finally got to Holyoke, We had some fish and chips from Schermerhorn’s for dinner.


Friday the 20th we left for Vermont in the afternoon with Sue. We stopped in Putney for yarn and a late BBQ lunch at Curtis’ BBQ. We arrived in Waterbury at Kelly and John’s in time for a nice chicken dinner prepared by their friend Rose. After Nina fell asleep, Jill and I wandered over to Prohibition Pig (formerly Alchemist before the flood) and enjoyed several rounds.

Nina BBQ

The next morning Rose made us eggs for breakfast before we all went over to the train station to watch the train pull in and get coffee. We headed south, but had to turn around as we discovered we’d left some things behind, so by the time we reached Brattleboro it was time to stop. The Top of the Hill Grill was a nice break, I enjoyed a burger and Nina loved the hammock. That night I went to Stop & Shop and bought and grilled steaks for dinner.

Jill Nina

Sunday we went with Sue and met Robin for lunch at Local Burger in Northampton. Afterwards we did some grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, then Nina and I took a nice long nap. We went over to the Brady’s in the afternoon where Melissa made a nice chicken dinner.

Robin Nina Jill

Monday the 23rd we went to visit Jill’s dad and his parents, had a nice lunch, hit the Big Y on the way back. The Brady’s came over for dinner as Sue made spaghetti and we celebrated Jill’s and Melissa’s birthdays. The kids and I played hide and seek outside before cake.

Jill Nina Bob

Tuesday we toured Holyoke with Jill’s grandma, stopping at Pickle’s Pub for a tasty Reuben (Nina liked their grilled cheese) then we all rode the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. Nina had the worst nap fail during vacation: screaming, diaper off, sheet wet. Of course she promptly fell asleep in the car as soon as Jill had driven two blocks going to get coffee at Dunkies. That night I had my leftover fish as it was girls night out for Jill, her sisters and her mom, got a chance to kick back and watch some TV.

Nina Jill Gram

Wednesday the 25th we had lunch at Grub in Northampton; I had the special (lobster roll) and Jill had the Castro, both delicious. We packed for our mini trip, then headed out to West Stockbridge where we stayed at the Pleasant Valley Motel. We had dinner (they have a nice covered porch), then put Nina bed, then I drove back to Holyoke. We’d forgotten some of the food, plus the combined stove/sink/refrigerator provided some cooking challenges. A quick stop at Stop & Shop and a round trip later and we were ready. The next morning we had breakfast, then headed over to our second home of Shantytowne at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We spent several hours there hanging out, then headed back before it got dark to we’d have time to do dinner at the motel with Nina.


Friday the 27th we spent most of the day at the festival. Napping there was a failure (Jill ultimately drove her around in the car, don’t think camping would have worked for us this year). Nina got to see some main stage music, but her favorite thing was popping giant bubbles thanks to Chris. Saturday Sue joined us for lunch at Shaker Mill Tavern in West Stockbridge (nice burgers and the Jack Daniels wings were great), then she took Nina for a day so we could enjoy the festival. I saw a lot of music but really enjoyed the twin bill of Eddie From Ohio and Girlyman in the evening. No late night shows this trip, and unfortunately a bunch of rain Sunday morning while we packed up, but the crepes for breakfast and the best Gospel Wakeup ever with Eddie From Ohio, Girlyman and Brother Sun cured that.


When we got back to Holyoke, Nina took some pictures with Sue before she and Dave headed off to Maine, then we started packing in the afternoon. Bridget had us over for a fab grilled steak and chicken dinner, then we headed to bed early. Monday the 30th we were up early to head home. It was a bit shorter trip back, although we had a 2+ hour stop at the fun Can-Do Playground in Wilmington, DE (the rangers there are great, Jill left her phone there and they found it and mailed it back) and some tasty takeout from Capriotti’s (gotta have the Bobbie, Thanksgiving on a sub). Nina started the work week off the next day by waking up at 5 and then falling asleep in my arms, then did it again 30 minutes later.

Nana Nina

Positive Contact

If you know me you know I love beer, and I’m a long time fan of Dogfish Head. You’d also know I love music and food too, and once Dogfish Head announced a release combining all three, you know my ears perked up. Positive Contact is an ale brewed with apple cider and spices, based on the favorite ingredients of Dan the Automator of Deltron 3030. It was only released as a box set of six champagne bottles, with a vinyl EP of Deltron 3030 remixes, and the album cover had a list of Deltron 3030-inspired recipes from a small group of renowned chefs (including Mario Batali and Momofuku‘s David Chang.


Although I missed the first shipment, thanks to the frequent Facebook updates of Lee at the Beer Market in Whole Foods Fairfax, I got my hands on a box when they got another one. After getting it home and checking it out, I decided I wanted to have a dinner party based on the recipes. Except we were running short on time before vacation, and it would have to be that weekend. So I invited a couple folks, and headed out to the grocery store Friday night June 29th. Of course that was the night the derecho hit us, but I bought everything I needed, and we didn’t lose power so I was able to stay up very late cooking.


The biggest pain was the Momofuku fried chicken, as there were three cooking steps spaced out. But between staying up late and cooking most of the day (much to my daughter’s disappointment), I got everything done by the time folks arrived (the Jewells came a bit earlier than the Norwoods as they were without power). For the main meal, in addition to the chicken I made the zucchini fritters as well as a fruit salad with a blueberry rhubarb sauce (not a pairing but good with everything else); the Norwoods brought some zucchini bread. I also had the the audio tracks playing in the background (ripped from the vinyl).


Dessert was a trifle made from three separate desserts: brownies, a pudding (made with the beer, and not burned off, so had to make a separate one for the 3 year old), and caramelized apples. Very nice paired with the beer. It was an epically long preparation, but an excellent meal and nice to share with friends.