Monday, January 19, 2009

#362 Bridget cooks!

Only a really good friend flies 1000 miles for a visit then cooks dinner.

On Friday night, our weekend started in Richmond where Bridget's 1000-mile flight from Omaha ended.
Culinary event #1: Our culinary weekend immediately kicked into high gear at Richmond's Comfort Restaurant - recommended by our friend Chris. The chef’s motto: “I don’t want to scare anyone.” We weren't scared. We loved it and we were off to a good start.
Culinary event #2: Bridget's special-recipe ratatouille. You'll all be surprised to learn that we don't keep fresh eggplant in the house. So when it came time to make ratatouille on Saturday night, we made a run to the grocery store and broke the eggplant drought that's gone on way too long. Bridget made magic.
Culinary event #3: And just to keep near the culinary edge, we chose The Shebeen on Sunday night for South African fare - game hen and chicken skewered on sugar cane rods with cardamom, coriander, cumin, and mealie pap. Yum!
Yours in wondering if I can sneak down and finish off that leftover ratatouille before Mary knows what I'm up to,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

#361 Home office renovation

Going against the advice of real estate agents everywhere, we recently reduced our home’s bedroom count from 3 to 2. Just removing one wall did the trick. A lot of big names were involved: Lowes, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, Mary Johnston, IKEA. See the 2 doors – each leading into a tiny room?
Those 2 tiny rooms need to be combined, so I went to work with my pry bar.
New with this project is our home’s first interior transom and first interior French doors.
And we can add FLOR carpet square installation to our remodeling resumes.
Of course we added a ceiling fan and can lights, apparently a must for every Johnston project.
Today the last of the carpet goes down, the furniture moves back in, and we sit back to admire.

Yours in adding by subtracting,

Thursday, January 01, 2009

#360 Christmas with the Germans

No one does Christmas like the Germans. That’s what my sister has been telling me, so we went to see for ourselves. Kathy and Mark moved to Wiesbaden (birthplace of John McEnroe) in October, so they had plenty of time to find a home, move out of temporary housing, start a new job, and plan our holiday vacation.
We took the train south to Bavaria (just steps away from the Austrian border) to visit two castles, Germany's most popular attractions. Thousands of visitors come each day in the summer to see the castle that inspired Cinderella's castle at Disneyland. Christmas week is definitely a better time to visit! Schloss Neuschwanstein (new swan stone palace) is visible from Schloss Hohenschwangau (castle of the high swan county). These two castles were built by father and son, each Bavarian kings. Neuschwanstein was built by the son in homage to the operas of Richard Wagner and the rooms are decorated according to each opera or story.
We also took a road trip on the autobahn to visit two of Germany's medieval walled cities - Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbuhl - both on the Romantic Road. We enjoyed the German Christmas Museum with its giant nutcracker, the bratwurst and other wursts, the spaetzle, the strudel, the Riesling, the Hefeweizen, the efficient German rail service, the German Christmas markets, the German word for five, saying Gesundheit in its native land, seeing the Christmas tree in its native land, the artistic tombstones, and the outstanding German hospitality.
In addition to our family (who sort of have to), we were welcomed especially well by the train conductor, the train dining car staff, the Fussen bus driver, the Fussen taxi driver, and the non-English-speaking Dinkelsbuhl restaurant staff.

Yours in planning a return trip,