Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brandywine Falls and the Beaver Marsh

I am a bit behind on posting updates so here is the second one today! 

Some of our new resident friends, Jenay and Chris, had recommended we check out the Cuyahoga Valley National Park sometime before the baby gets here. Specifically, they said we should head to the Beaver Marsh and Brandywine Falls. We looked it up on the map and found out it was just a few minutes from Sagamore Hills (south CLE suburb) where Robbie goes each Thursday for a half day of lecture. Last Thursday Robbie had the day off after going to morning lecture so we decided to check ou the park after he was done. I was more than happy to kill some time at Panera using the internet and drinking a hazelnut coffee (yum!). He got done a bit early so we grabbed lunch and headed out to explore. It was a gorgeous day and we got some beautiful photos to share!

First we drove south to go see the Beaver Marsh area.
Beaver Marsh area
Scenic Railroad train with bird in the tree

After a walk there we drove back up to the Brandywine Falls area to check it out!

Gorgeous views on the walk down to the falls

Brandywine Falls

Robbie and Jill at the Falls
We finished off the day with a hike through the forest. I loved all the mushrooms even though Robbie thought I was crazy. I stopped to grab a few photos of them as well!
Mushrooms and moss in the forest

Thanks Mom!

When we moved to our new house our landlord had beautifully remodeled the kitchen putting in very functional custom cabinets. One of my absolute favorite features is a large built in spice rack next to the new dishwasher (I plan to put up photos of the inside of our house soon and this will definitely be something I show off!). With both of us being adventurous cooks we have a huge variety of spices and filled the rack up entirely.

A few weeks after moving in we had used up all our curry powder and I wanted to try a recipe that called for marjoram. I headed out to the grocery store and into the spice aisle. I found the curry powder and did a double take…$5.59?!? That just couldn’t be right!! At first I thought maybe it was just an expensive grocery store so I stopped at 2 or 3 others and found the prices to be more of the same. When I got home and asked Robbie how much he thought spices cost he said, “umm…maybe 75 cents?” When I told him the Cleveland prices he was just as shocked as I was! He decided he’d better stop using spices so liberally when he cooks! The next time I was on the phone with my mom I asked her the same question. She said, “I don’t know, less than $1?”. Maybe we were just a bit spoiled in Iowa but here is a comparison to show the price difference between Iowa and Cleveland. Note the price difference between whole cloves in Iowa (88 cents) and Cleveland ($6.69).

Cleveland prices

Iowa prices

Cleveland prices for whole cloves: $6.69 (top left)

Iowa prices for whole cloves: 88 cents
A few days after the phone call with my mom there was a FedEx box by our front door. When I opened it up, right on top was a huge assortment of spices sent by my mom. That should tide us over for awhile I hope! As a side note, I’m thinking if we get short on cash over the next few years I might start a black market trading spices to Ohioans out of our house!!

All the spices my mom sent :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The In-Law Suite

Despite an initial mix-up with directions, Robbie’s family arrived in Cleveland late Friday night for a much anticipated visit. We had prepped the “in-law suite” earlier in the week with a new can of Chock Full-O-Nuts (1/2 caff) coffee for Robbie’s dad. We tried to make it sound luxurious but in reality it is a pretty small room in our pretty small (aka cozy) house. Either way, it was nice to finally have his parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew out to see our new home!

We woke up bright and early the next morning despite staying up late talking after they rolled in. One of the first places we wanted to take them was the Westside Market. We all loaded in the van and took off for the day.

Grandpa T. and Max at the Westside Market

Shelly with Champagne Grapes - look how cute they are...and yummy!

Robbie and I at the market

Westside Market produce side

Gorgeous old ceilings inside the 2nd building

Cannolis = delicious!
After the market we headed back home to grill out for lunch and Robbie got to show off his new grill (another one of his favorite acquisitions since arriving in Cleveland). We napped and waited for the heat to die down so we could head out to Lakewood park in the late afternoon. Lakewood park has a great view of the Cleveland skyline so we took a family photo!

I think Max is pointing at his cousin :)

Robbie was also excited to take our nephew, Max, to the park although I’m not sure if he spent more time playing by himself or entertaining Max. Pretty sure he will use our daughter as an excuse to act like a 2 year old himself!
Robbie and Grandpa T. swinging Max

Lake Eerie in the background

Sometimes I find it hard to believe this man is a doctor...

We had fun taking Max for walks up and down our street and watching him “garden” in our backyard weed patch :) He has added a few words to his vocabulary (which previously consisted of the word “ball”). Pretty much everything now, good or bad, elicits an “uh-oh” from Max which is hilarious. On our walks Max would give an enthusiastic “Ohhhh” whenever he saw a dog or something interesting. He loves going for walks and made us laugh several times when he would go get his shoes, bring them to grandma or grandpa and plop down on the floor in front of them waiting for someone to put his shoes on and take him outside. Conveniently this happened near bedtime on Saturday night…Max left our house with only a few bumps and bruises from taking a nose dive into our sidewalk and is getting much faster each time we see him!

Max working hard in the garden

We ordered our first good Cleveland pizza Saturday night and watched a terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger movie on local T.V. It was seriously really, really bad but like a car accident, hard to look away… In the morning we went to The Root cafĂ© – a little organic/vegetarian coffee shop in Lakewood and then it was time for the family to head back to Chicago. It’s amazing how fast their visit went – we had so much more we wanted to show them and are already making a “to do” list for the next visit!

Potatoes & Pierogies

Two weekends ago we met up with some of the residents at Irish fest. There are a surprising number of cultural activities in the Cleveland area which is a fun change from Des Moines, although this one seemed to focus mainly around beer and the selling of Irish trinkets. Thought I would share a few photos anyway!

This one is for you Winston and Heidi - we miss you guys!!

A tribute to Rob's heritage and a few of his favorite food items - too cute! No, I didn't buy it...

Irish Fest

Rob's favorite part of the day - the seeing the Irish dog breeds.