Sunday, July 29, 2012

A few days in Budapest

After 3 days in Budapest, we are finally in little Sarospatak for our music festival. We'll be here for 2 weeks and it feels great to be back again after 3 years. 

After a flight fiasco along with a cello fiasco, it's good to be in one place for more than a couple days. Here are some pictures from our time in Buda and Pest before we took the 4 hour train ride to Sarospatak.

there are tons and tons of these beautiful little streets. getting lost in them is a privilege.

there were so many variations on sandwiches and deviled egg fillings i just had to take a picture.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rearranging the Living Room...Oops I did it again.

I truly believe I have an addiction. It's called I-Have-To-Rearrange-All-My-Furniture-Every-Month. So maybe it's not quite that bad, but as soon as we came back from MN, I started to rearrange the kitchen and living room. You may remember the many ways I have rearranged in the 12 months of living here...The couch has been on every possible wall in the room. So what next? Ha. That's no challenge to an addict. I came up with something different and so far we love it.

This is the view from the kitchen. The front door is on the right.

I wanted something light and airy for summer, but also with pops of bright color.

my blogging corner. floral pillow from ikea (like 5 bucks!)

the other side of the  couch. remember these two chairs?  (i found them in the garbage and totally re-did them)

 This is our entryway. Next to this are the bookcases and artwork. I'm happy with my "new" living room!

 Let's see  how long this arrangement lasts ;)

WWOTM. Gone Fishing.

(just in case you're wondering, WWOTM stands for the 2012 series of our trip to Minnesota: We Wandered Out To Minnesota)

I wouldn't say I'm a fish fan. I love to eat it. I love to cook it. But catching it and cleaning it? No thanks. Especially when fishing with live worms. Or anything alive for that matter. My contribution to this fishing trip was 1) Slamming down the top to the fish cooler in the boat when one was emptied in there (it keeps the fish swimming and alive until we got back to the cabin) and 2) Consuming the fish. 

We did pretty well this trip- we got 7 fish in about an hour.  We caught 5 Northern Pike, 1 Walleye, and 1 Sunfish.  Since I have never actually seen the water-to-table process of preparing fish before, I thought I should document the process. Be forewarned- there are fish guts in this post! 

This is the lake we went fishing on-just outside the back door of the cabin. It gets to about 30 feet in some points. Isn't it beautiful?

 Some of the fish we caught.  The long skinny ones are the Norther Pike. After you get to shore you put them in a net near your fish-cleaning area.  Some of them may not be dead at this point. I've been told this is normal.

The first thing you do is give the fish a big ol' bonk in the head with the butt of your cleaning knife. You give it one good head trauma and it's dead. 
With your knife, you go in at the back of the head and carve all the way down to almost the tail.

It should look like this. 
Then you place your knife between the skin and filet it all the way down. 
Repeat on the other side. 

Ta-da! Drop the fish remains into a bucket. See how the skin hangs down on both sides? 2 filets from  one fish.
K-man actually filleted 2 of them pretty well. Here in the picture you can see his dad finishing the Walleye. 

The next day we cooked them simply and deliciously: bread each filet in flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in butter.  Yuuuuuum.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WWOTM. Maple Beach Burgers.

(this is part of the We Wandered Out To Minnesota series)

One of the days we were at the lake we went on a fun double date with Karl's brother and his wife. They had found this little burger place on the edge of Lake Lida and had been there before. If there ever was a cute, out of the way joint, this was it!

Maple Beach is this tiny little cabin across the street from a beautiful, big lake. You go in and order your food and then take a seat outside on one of the many picnic tables. When your order is ready, the cook bangs on the window and holds up a number card. If the number he holds up matches your order number, than the food is ready. You just go inside and pick up the tray.

 Here's our tray. And our family fries. They have all kinds of different burgers for such a small place. It's reasonably priced and very tasty!

There are no soda fountains at a small place like this- just a vintage fridge where you can pick out a can of soda. How could I resist this Strawberry Crush??

Sometimes you just gotta go for the artificial. 

Who's with me on that?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We Wandered Out To Minnesota

Every summer (and sometimes even in winter!) we go back to K-man's hometown in Minnesota. It's waaaay far north and west. If you drive there from the East Coast you may even think you've driven far enough to end up in Canada or Alaska. 

we always get a picture (don't ask me why-maybe it's the proper farmer thing to do) in the corn on July 4th before we head out to the ooober-big family gathering at the lake. Here we are joined by our nephew who wanted to be in our family picture. Adorbs.

Although each summer is different, many things stay the same. The corn always grows at an incredibly fast rate, the lake house is always there, there are about 100 relatives that we visit with (no, I am not exaggerating), there is gardening to be done, and lots of other fun things.

This year I did a couple things I haven't done yet: cherry picking (and pitting) and fishing.
I have never ever been cherry picking before, but if I had known it was going to be 99 degrees I guarantee you I would have not worn skinny jeans. Don't let these pictures fool you- I was a sweat bomb when K-man snapped these. 

A relative had a cherry tree that he kept just for decoration and didn't use any of the cherries. Well goodness, I'll take them! (now if I could only convince my neighbors to let me have fruit from their apple and pear trees!) 

Me and my pickings. There's actually a better picture where my eyes are actually open, but my hair didn't look as good in that picture. Yeah, I'm girly like that.

When we got home that evening it took 3 of us working for about an hour to de-pitt all the cherries that got picked (about 2 gallons).

These are actually sour cherries and will need to be made into pies or jam. Or at least some recipe that uses a bunch of sugar.

Hope you enjoyed part 1 of our MN adventures!

Monday, July 16, 2012

WWOTM Welcome to THE LAKE.

Apparently everyone in Minnesota has a lake house. After all, there are over 10,000 lakes in the state. When I first heard this, I was pretty shocked. Like, everyone has ANOTHER house? It's the city equivalent to going to the beach. Except there's a house there that you can live in.

Every summer we go to MN we always spend a couple days at "the lake." Apparently you don't say, "I'm going to Crystal Lake" you say "I'm going to The Lake." I guess the city equivalent would be not "I'm going into borough of Manhattan" but "I'm going to The City." Make sense? Ok. Let's proceed.

The first time we go out to the lake is usually for the annual 4th of July family gathering. Last summer there were 110 relatives there. This year only 90. Seemed kind of empty if you ask me. We have lunch (it's a GINORMOUS potluck) (this year I spotted 3 tatertot hotdishes (they're not casseroles, by the way. well, if you are in the east they're casseroles.) ).  <-----probably a hundred punctuation rules violated right there. just realized that. moving on.

SO. The lake house is a beautiful cabin that K-man's great-grandfather bought waay long ago for his kids to enjoy. The family has grown since then and now everyone gets to enjoy the beautiful spot in the summer.

 This is the sign you will see on the tree right before you need to turn in to the cabin! So nice and rustic.

The cabin! on the 4th of July gatherings there are lawn chairs filling all the green space you can see here.

 If you turn around this is the view you'll get.  On the left next to the dock is the boat we went fishing in. The canoe in the foreground is a beautiful, but not ideal for fishing. 

 K-man also gets to go wake boarding. I go along in the boat as his glam-team.

For some reason he always gets allergies from being in the lake water. But I guess wake boarding is worth it

being in the water is so much fun! (As long as weeds don't wrap around my ankles and the minnows don't bite my toes!)

Ted's Burgers (man v. food)

As you may already know, we  love eating food. good food, to be more specific. lately we've been watching that show "Man Versus Food." (it's on Netflix now) We loooove all food-centered shows: Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Diners, Drive-In's and Dives, America's Next Food Star, Restaurant Impossible, Kitchen Nightmares, The Best Thing I Ever Ate... you get the idea.

When we go to NYC we always try to go to one of the places we know has been labeled by chefs and foodies alike as delicious. When my awesome friend and food-lover came to visit us, we just had to go to Ted's Burgers in a little Connecticut town to have their steamed burgers.

We all (Karl, me, and H-Banana) had seen the the episode on Man Vs. Food where Adam Richman goes to Ted's Burgers to try their famous steamed burgers. Basically they have a special machine that steams the burgers and drains all the fat away from them. After they are cooked, they melt the cheese right on top of the burger by also steaming the cheese. Guys, this has to be the best cheese I've ever had on a burger. 

 In the back left, you can see the little steamer oven. These are our burger which have just been taken out.

 Ok, are you drooling now? I told you this cheese was amazing! 

I looooove cheese and I was pretty much on cloud 9.

I had a bunch of toppings on my burger- I think you can order up to like 5 or something without any extra charge- and it was super flavorful. Plus since it didn't have all that fat I didn't feel gross or bloated after eating this burger (I wasn't even hungry when our food arrived) AND some of their freshly cut potato fries. If you're a plain-cheeseburger-with-no-other-toppings-kind-of-guy (like my husband) you may not like this burger as well. 

I think H-Banana sums her feelings up about this burger pretty well.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

on spending too much money: a heartwarming story for music nerds.

big news this week, people.

 as karl has been saying, "we've added a new member to our family this week!" no, it's not a baby or the start of a baby, or anything human. it's a new viola! as the biggest purchase we have ever made (yes, even bigger than buying our car last year), this me a new viola will probably be the biggest expense until we buy a house. 

i had been playing the same viola since high school and that got me through 6 years of school and graduate school as a performance major. i love the sound of my old viola, but knew that it was definitely time for an upgrade. 

there's a fantastic maker (luthier to be specific. just means a violin maker. and a violin maker usually can and does make all stringed instruments within the violin family) who lives within walking distance from our home in hartford. he's super well known and has made/sold his instruments to some of the "greats" yuri bashmet, gidon kremer, rostropovich. 

the viola i decided on (after taking it home for a while and playing it) is a beautiful gaspar model, 16 1/2 inches, petite shoulders and small neck. it. is. a. beauty. the top is made from 150 year old scandinavian spruce and features a one piece back. (don't worry, there's a picture later) 

 i also had the unique opportunity of signing the label with the maker! for those of you who might not be familiar, the label goes inside the f-hole and usually only has the name of the maker; sometimes also including the date it was made and also the city or country. it was such a unique opportunity and super cool!

 here i am in his shop, signing the label with him!

 cutting the  label out.

 the label. pre-installation. 

 here he's putting the label in through the f-hole. 

 this is the view of the label through the f-hole of the viola.

here are my three violas. on the left-my oldest viola- dearly beloved and most played. (for sale)
middle- new gaspar-model viola!!!!!
right- 15 3/4inch polish viola. excellent instrument and also for sale.

my new instrument is wonderful-it has that spinning, round sound and is super easy to play. no squeaks or unequal fifths. yeah, i'd say it was a match made in heaven. or hartford.