Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lunch Bunch at Normandie Farm

Today I went with my Navy wives friends to our monthly "Lunch Bunch" outing. As implied, every month on the last Tuesday of the month, our group leader Betty picks a restaurant in VA, MD or D.C. that she may have either read about in the newspaper, gotten a recommendation from someone, looked good in the Zagat ratings or a place that may have just opened up and she makes reservations for us. There's usually between 10-15 ladies and they're a lot of fun. Navy wives always are, aren't they?   *wink*

This month we went to Normandie Farm in Potomac Maryland (an hour drive - thank you Debbie for driving!). The restaurant has such an interesting history. This is straight from their website: The land where Normandie Farm Restaurant is located was originally the "Myers Farm." A country club was under construction on the site in the late 1920's but work was halted due to economic conditions of the time and the bank foreclosed on the project. In the spring of 1931, Marjory Hendricks, returning from cooking school in Normandy, France, passed by the property one afternoon and noticed a sign reading "For sale by mortgage holders." Within 45 minutes she had negotiated the purchase of what is known to this day as Normandie Farm Restaurant.

I took this pic just as they opened at 11:30 and they seated us (see our group at that round table?) right away. After noon, the place really filled up.
If I had thought to take a picture of the walls when we first walked in, they were lined with photographs from 1931 and throughout history and to be honest, the only thing that has changed is that they've updated the tables/furniture over the years, but they have left the original Pensylvania Dutch decor and feel of the restaurant in tact. It's so friendly and warm!

And very upscale. I don't know what I expected. Well....Yes, I did. The place is called "Farm" so naturally I expected to order chicken dumpling soup and a huge slice of apple pie, yum!
No! We were given a wine list & a beautiful menu which included filet tips with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes (that's what I ate), stuffed cod with crab imperial, shrimp with roasted beets, escargot, chicken waldorf salad....and other delicious choices, including eggs benadict. Go figure. I was really taken aback. In a good way.
They even serve an elegant afternoon tea! I have some ideas brewing...

Normadie Farm's claim to fame is their "popovers." We each got one (those golden brown, crispy delacacies on our bread plates). Mine looked like a pig head and Nani's looked like a duck. Sorry. It's the way my mind works. Anyway, they were served with butter and fresh blackberry jam. The popovers were a huge hit at our table.

The whole place was decorated for Christmas and felt wonderfully festive.

"NOSC Lunch Bunch"
I took the photo so I'm not in it and that's okay by me! Normandie Farm is definitely a place I will return to with Johnny while they are decorated for the Holidays.

Shelly just emailed this pic to all of us taken at the table. You'd think I could've taken off my scarf and stayed awhile. Although it IS a great way to hid a double chin. Wish I could get away with this look in July.

My diet starts tomorrow  ;o)
Or the next day....

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Happy (day after) Thanksgiving!

We got a surprise phone call from Josh around 2pm, what a treat! We got to chat for a long time and hear all of his funny Army stories. I'll have to do a blog post about that soon, he has us in stitches. He's doing well and (GUESS WHAT?!?) he told us that he earned his leave for Christmas! Wa-hoo! My boy will be home on the evening of the 17th. I'm so excited. I nearly fell over when he asked me to wait to put the tree and decorations up, that he wanted to help. What did the Drill Sergeant do to him? Whatever it is...keep it up DS. I'm liking it.

Our Thanksgiving couldn't have gotten any better after our phone call, that made our day. I sure hope everyone had as delightful of a time as Johnny & I did. We received a dinner invitation from my "East Coast Mom" (Mama Kay) I've talked about her so many times, her poor ears never stop ringing. Her son & daughter in law & our next door neighbors and their mother in law would also be there. I volunteered to make green bean casserole and my special sweet potato casserole. Everyone pitched in.

Oh my goodness, how could I forget our special 4-legged guest KAYLA. She's Kay's "grand dog" as she likes to call her, ha. She's a rescue husky mix and is gorgeous and a complete sweetheart. She stayed very close to the table, praying we'd all drop something on the floor. (She did get a little turkey of her own, we're not haters).

Kay set a beautiful table, complete with crystal, Thanksgiving china (with hand painted turkeys on it) and antique 12-apostle silver coffee spoons. Each of us had a different one. Don't ask me which apostle I had, I missed that lesson in Catechism, but I loved him.

Kay created a warm and inviting setting for all of us.

Richard, Kay's husband, smoked a turkey on the grill. I can honestly say, I have never had a better turkey in all of my life. He soaked hickory & mesquite chips and put those at the bottom of his grill and the result was simply amazing. Kay made home made cranberry sauce w/mint. Oh my.

 "You Know Who" was in heeeeeeaven! He and food are besties. He wouldn't stop grinning. He'll never eat my food again.
Until tonight.

It was a wonderful, cozy, candle lit dinner with close friends. I missed Josh very much and thought of him all through dinner, but this experience was so special that I'm glad we were with Mama Kay & Richard for our first Thanksgiving as "Empty Nesters." In fact, our whole table was The Empty Nesters Club. Ha!

Ooooohhhh.....desserts.......Kay's daugher in law made the pie from her bridal cook book (we went to their wedding a year ago in Gettysburg, PA). It had whiskey in it, yum!
Johnny & I brought a fabulous bottle of dessert wine to have with our pumpkin pie. Everyone drank some and it was gone in a snap. I will definitely be getting more for Christmas dinner and I will share it with you all. It tastes like pumpkin pie and was the perfect complement with our treats.
And how adorable are those cookies? They came from the local Swiss Bakery.

10 things about THIS PLATE:
1. I felt it needed its own frame because of its awesomeness.
2. I will not confirm whose plate this is. She will remain anonymous. Oh. Or he!
3. Don't judge me.
4. It's the reason this anonymous person's middle section resembles the inside of a jelly donut.
5. Let's face it, it's the reason this anonymous person's back side resembles the outside of a jelly donut.
6. It was heaven.
7. She almost licked the plate.
8. Oops. Or he, I'm not tellin'.
9. It's the reason why she/he is having a bowl of vegetarian lentil soup for supper out of guilt. With no bread. And no seconds!
10. Because she/he is doing it all over again on Christmas Day! (With Josh! And she/he is counting down the days......hours.......minutes........)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

~ Closed for Thanksgiving ~

Hope your belly is as full as mine is  ;o)

I heard back from my photograpy instructor and she gave me a thumbs up for "rocking my first week!" Woo-Hoo!

The only thing I got "docked" for was the tiny clip of my girls' ears....

My girls

See it? (whoopsie!)

Bummer. Oh well. Let me give you some of the back story on this photo. I was simply thrilled that I got both of my girls (a) in the same frame (b) both looking at me - saying the word "do you wanna treat?" did it, by the way...go figure. (c) they are both on the same focal plane (d) which means thank God they are both in focus, and (e) their tongues were not UP Johnny's nose.

Here are the out takes of "Photography assignment gone bad."

Aaahhh, life with Chihuahuas & the most patient man on the planet. I wouldn't give it up for anything!

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Johnny & I will be having a delicious turkey dinner with my East Coast Mom, Dad, neighbors & friends being ever so thankful for our health, well being and for our boy's safety. I'm overwhelmed with grattitude for my little family, as well as extended family in Texas, Illinois & San Diego, our dear friends locally and all over the globe and for the pure joy you bring to our lives. Love you guys mucho gusto. XOXO

See you Monday  :o)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Party, party, Par-tay!

I can't believe I'm so behind in my blog!! Part of me was avoiding any pics of my Josh leaving until I could do it without, well....for about 2 weeks any time I came across the images I boo-hoo'd and tears on a computer don't mix. But I'm ready! No crying allowed! I'm totally over it.

My boy's been gone 3 weeks as of today, we've been getting letters from him and some calls, even our first photo of him in uniform! We're so happy for him. And I'm ready to blog! Woo-hoo.

***Can you believe all I had with me was my blackberry to snap pictures on? I was simply too wound up to think straight. Forgive the dark pics please!***

On October 30, we had a small farewell party for Josh at our neighborhood community (pool) center.

 It was easier to have it here since there was plenty of parking and some of Josh's friends (ok, many of Josh's friends, including himself) partake in the tobacco products. See see those benches? That's the smoking section. They spent a lot of time outside.

(Insert a prayer from Mom -here- that not being able to smoke at at boot camp means that Josh quits for good. Fingers crossed X I worry about my boys health).

Luckily the party was the day before Halloween so I was able to get this uber scary door decoration. Oooohhhhh!!!
A reaper, you ask? Oh yes. A GRIM REAPER. Josh loves reapers & we have had our reaper "issues." Plenty of them to be honest; one being on his arm and was what kept him from getting a waiver into the Marine Corps....see a pic HERE. I won't mention what's on his rib cage.....nope. I just had to buy the door hanging & Josh loved it.

I loved the camouflage table cloths!

I found Army confetti, little trucks & tanks, whistles, Army men, granades and all sorts of party favors for the tables.

I thought they made cute center pieces!

Gold & black ballooons (Army colors!) and USA table covers. On the walls were some great Army decals that I found at a party store.

(That we cut out way past midnight the night before I have to add) And I have to add that because we are not "after midnight" kind of people. We're old and moldy and like (no, LOVE) our sleep. But anything for our boy.

I found these banners, Army canteens and a blow up machine gun. It was an Army party afterall.

This was my favorite part....this is the BOYS POSTER WALL.

My brother in law & sister made this poster, isn't it awesome? (The inside scoop behind this poster ---> heard here on the blog for the very first time, folks: is that my brother in law was incredibly, lets say...protective of this "said board" and was the master mind and creator of the entire design.....but DID, however, allow my sister to sign it. With gloves on. She was extremely honored).

It's a gorgeous poster & Josh loved it! We found little Army parachute men (from the Toy Story movie collection at Toys R Us, lol) since Josh is going to Airborne school after basic training (then off to Ranger school).

He's a glutton for punishment.

This is the GIRLS POSTER WALL (was I drunk when I glued feathers to my poster?)

Would you look at what my 6 year old niece Madison made for Josh? It's adorable!

This is the two of them "acting gangsta" at a pizza parlor back in March. My sister wasn't allowed to touch this poster either. Poor girl.

Yeah....Josh & Rodge showed up for about 10 minutes to bring the stereo and to "help decorate" and this is what they accomplished. Then {{{POOF}}} they were gone.

My honey was putting together wine glasses (we went through all 40 of them!) and getting all of the beer, wine and drinks chilled.

Soon our guests started to arrive.

Theres Mama Kay (My East Coast Mom) in the white blouse along with some of our friends & neighbors.

And Johnny telling his mesmerising sea stories  ;o)

My beautiful friends Tammy & Patty that I met ions ago in Japan who drove (Patty) over and hour & (Tammy) over 3 hours to come to the party, and I appreciate it so very much. It meant the world to me xoxo I could do a whole blog on these two and what their friendship means to me. Hey...now there's an idea....

In all of my craziness & fury I didn't take any pics of the food we had catered. Oh my God was it delicious! We used Red, Hot & Blue and everyone ate like there was no tomorrow. It's the best BBQ around, recipes straight from Memphis. If you've never been --> Go, ya'll. Go now!

In more of my craziness & fury I forgot to take pics of all of Josh's friends. Of course, like I said earlier, most of them were outside smoking every 20 minutes and had I gone out there I would've suffocated to death, making this blog post impossible. So I'm happy I stayed inside.

 (((Just imagine all of the pics of Josh's friends HERE)))
(Sorry, Josh!)

Found one! Only one.....

Wait, here's another...my boy is having some more food.

I posted this before but I love it. He's so happy! About to dig into the gorgeous cake that my caterer friend Lynn made.

It deserves a second look. I posted a full blog about it HERE.

The hired help. Serve that cake, Boy!

Here's another one! Sorta.

HAHA! Josh & Brandon doing whatever it is they are doing. Josh looks like a drill sergeant to me. Did I mention that he & Rodge shaved his head the day before? Well, they did. The things boys do when they're bored...

This is one of my fav's and probably the only pic I took of Josh and a few of his friends. Rodge is 2nd from the left, I adopted him when the boys were in the 8th grade
(Not literally, but he's been my boy for a long time, it's hard to know anymore.)

I printed this 4x6 photo (that's Josh's recruiter, bottom left) and put it in a letter to Josh. I'm thinking it may cheer him up to remember he has friends at home supporting & rooting for him.

At the party everyone signed a photo mat for Josh. I'm going to put his first official Army photo in uniform (Private Josh!) in it and have it framed for him.
The party was fun -- our friends went home early'ish and the kids got to dance and eat more and have a good time visiting. We kicked them all out at 1am and Johnny and I were there til 2am cleaning up. Did I mention that we are not "after midnight kinda folks?" It was completely worth it, though. Anything for our boy  :o)   Josh stayed at Rodge's house that night and all was well.
The next day Josh "recovered" and more friends stopped by to raid the refrigerator of all the left over BBQ and cake. Happy kids!

On November 1st my boy (my only child, sniff) got his things together and waited unpatiently for Sgt. Nurse, his Army recruiter to come pick him up for his overnight stay at Ft. Meade. He would be shipping the next day.
As I watched him wiggle and nervously check the clock every 3.5 seconds and looking out the window, I couldn't help but think that he looked much like his first day of kindergarten sitting there with his brand new backpack waiting for the bus. He didn't have much hair back then either.

Sgt. Nurse arrived and I begain screaming "THEY'RE TAKING MY BABY!!!!!" and called 9-1-1.
No, I didn't. I quietly took pictures, smiled a lot, stood brave, waved like a goober and told Sgt. Nurse to take care of my boy.

I quickly hugged Josh and told him we'd see him in the morning at Ft. Meade to see him off. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

......And off they went.

I watched as Josh literally left home. For good. I know he'll visit a lot, God willing. But that was it. Short and bittersweet.


So maybe I'm not "over it" completely and I'm not sure I ever really will be. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be, though? When you have a child you love them their whole lives then you set them free....but, they remain embedded in your heart forever and occupy a permanent space that no other can fill. Ever. And so I'll always miss him. That's my prerogative.

I'm so happy for Josh, and I mean that sincerely. All I want for him is to find a place in this crazy world where he belongs. A place where he can be successful and make a difference, be independent, be an honorable man, find a beautiful & loving partner to share his life with, be at peace and have pure joy in his life. That's not asking for too much, is it?

Oh!! And I want grandchildren. Lots and lots of grandchildren!

But let's get him through boot camp first, okay?

I lied. I need a tissue.

(Videos of his swearing in and departure from Ft. Meade coming soon - I can only take so much for one day)