#s 27 & 28 – C is for…

…camping and class(es)!  Two new additions to the list!

So y’all know I’m 34, right?  And I consider myself to be an outdoorsy kind of girl.  I hike.  I kayak.  I love nature.  I spent a fair amount of time in the Pocono Mountains as a kid. I went fishing.  I hung out in the crick. (That’s what you call a woodsy kind of creek area when you live in Philly.)  But I’ve only ever gone camping one time and it wasn’t until I was 31 years old.  So I was thinking I should/want to camp again and what better way to make it happen then to add it to my list.

Getting ready for my first camping and white water rafting trip down the Salt river in Arizona.

Beautiful moonrise over the desert mountains. We rafted for 3 days and camped 2 nights along the banks of the river. Great guides from Wilderness Aware hosted us the whole way. Amazing trip!

You might also know that I’m no stranger to school.  But, it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a class myself so I want to get back in the desk.  Well, not really.  I’m not interested in a whole semester long college credits kind of gig.  More like Knife Skills 101.  (For cooking!) Or maybe I’ll finally enter a gym and do a spin class.  Learn to eskimo roll in the kayak?? Yikes!  Look at these guys!  You get the idea, something fun!  No homework required!

Now who’s got a tent?

#12 – Family Fun and Games

I’m not gonna tease my dad.  (Again.)  But the man might be addicted to his ipad.  It’s his solitaire app to be exact.  He’s slightly obsessed with beating his own records.  He texts me about it.  But I’m gonna give him a pass on this one.  He just retired.  And after years of hard work to, ya know, send me to college and stuff, I guess he deserves it.  So I won’t give him a hard time if he plays HUNDREDS of games a day.  It’s fine.  I’m not so sure if this is fine though…

That’s my grandmom. On the ipad.  Does she really need to be dragged into his habit? I mean, she’s already a champ at Wii bowling. Can’t that be the extent of her techie gaming? She and I used to play rummy with, uh, actual cards. Isn’t that the way grandmoms are supposed to play?  I had been wanting to get back to it with her.  That’s why I put it on my list.  So when my mom texted me that pic, I knew I had to bump this one up to the top.  I thought maybe my dad could use a little intervention face to face interaction so I invited him along too.  But our rummy plans were foiled when we got to my grandmom’s place.  It was bingo day!  We didn’t want to make her miss that kind of fun or the chance to win some $$$.  Well it’s more like one dollar sign but still, we joined right in!


We didn’t actually play our own boards.  Bingo crowds can be tough.  We weren’t sure if outsiders were allowed so we just helped my grandmom and her ladies with their boards.  Her friends each won a game ($4 total!)  but my grandmom didn’t.  Frowny face.  So I’m thinking I’ll bring a prize on my next visit and we’ll try for rummy then.  Hopefully I can rip Dad away from the screen again…

#15 – Breakfast with the Bakers

Well, the Bakers didn’t bake the breakfast but they did show me a great new eating spot in one of my favorite towns.  The Bakers are my good friends, Rob and Caroline, and the restaurant is Cafe Blue Moose in New Hope, PA.

Cafe Blue Moose
9 W. Mechanic Street

New Hope is an adorably, fun town along the Delaware River that is full of artsy, little shops and lots of restaurants.  Cafe Blue Moose is unique among the eateries though.  In fact, they are unique in the country in that they are the nation’s only completely youth-run restaurant.  It’s high school and college-aged students who do everything in the kitchen and dining rooms of this cafe.  I’m totally into supporting a place that supports our kids.

…and your manners.

It’s a small restaurant with only 30 seats but they did find some space to fit in a few moose for decor.  The menu is not large either but the portions are more than enough.  The dinner menu is a prix fixe.  Offering only a few different choices but changing them frequently to allow for use of local ingredients at their prime.  The breakfast/brunch menu includes a list of eight different pastries that come with most of the meals.  Check it out…

Look at all of those pastries!  And do you see what’s there on the bottom?  NUTELLA!

It was the pastry list combined with the nutella pancake offering that made it very hard for me to decide on my order.  I really wanted some nutella, but I also really wanted about four of those pastries and something savory.  See those cheddar biscuits?  Don’t they seem like a party for your taste buds? But I really like nutella.  But I can never finish when I order pancakes.  What to do?  I asked the waitress for more deciding time.  And that’s when ROB BAKER saved the breakfast!   He offered to give me a taste of his pancakes in exchange for a little sharing of my menu choice.  Deal, buddy!

I’ll drink to breakfast sharing!

My choice turned out to be the Scrambler du jour (after I confirmed that there were no tomatoes included!).  I also got fries and a homemade cinnamon bun.  Caroline got the Omelette du jour with fruit and a cheddar biscuit party for her taste buds.  Rob brought the nutella goodness to the table and we added some grilled banana bread just because. We all shared. It was all delicious! But seriously, look at that nutella!

See what they did there? They totally put the nutella in a pastry bag or a squeeze bottle. I need that to happen at my house.

This place is cute, the food is super yummy and the kids are working and very friendly. I recommend you try it!  If you want dinner, call ahead for reservations.  Like a few weeks ahead…I hear they’re packin the place every weekend!

#13 – I Did It Again! and again.

This was not part of the plan.  Tomato eating, that is.  Look right up at the top of the page.  It says, “Tomatoes NOT included!”  Seriously, I only named the blog 35tomatoes so that I could connect it to something about myself other than my list. I thought I would be leaving room for the blog to evolve beyond this year of the list.  And I only added “eat 35 tomatoes” to the list so that I could connect the blog title to the list.  I meant it as a joke. And I used the strikethrough font!  Which means it is strikken from the record.  Which means I don’t have to do it!  (Strikken is so a word!)

Maybe all of that only makes sense in my mind or maybe people just like seeing their friends squirm a little, because, as I mentioned before, and as continues to happen, I am being strongly urged by a few of my “friends” to actually buck up and eat the dang things.  At one point someone even started their own list of tomato dishes for me to taste!  Sadly, that got lost on a broken phone.  Oh, darn.

But, if you could just not tell my friends, I’ll admit that I haven’t been minding it too, too much.  There has only been one truly bad, gag-inducing experience.  And there was one that I actually LIKED!  The rest were either things that I already didn’t mind, like salsa, were covered up by other ingredients (basil and balsamic? Yum!) or were just ok.  It’s not like I’m craving them or anything but maybe, by the end of this year, I might be allowing a few more of them onto my plates…

It’s blurry because I was shaking my head “NO!” It was a tomato slice that I took off of my sandwich. It was gross and yucky and mushy! BLECH! No, thank you!

I don’t really mind salsa, but this is a much bigger, chunkier, tomato-y-er, scoop than I would ordinarily take. Thanks, kid.

Sideways thumb? Or thumbs up? It wasn’t that bad.

That tomato was on my delicious turkey burger from the Dogfish Head restaurant in DE and I will admit that it looked like it might taste good. Nice and red.  But after my previous gross out with a sliced one from a sandwich, I let my assistant take it. It’s good to have a cute and adventurous assistant!

I snagged this one from my assistant’s mama’s pizza. And boy was I surprised! It was GOOD! It was sweet! Maybe a plum tomato, maybe stewed then a little roasted. I went back for bigger pieces!

I saw this at the library today. Have I mentioned that I live in the “Garden State”? People claim we grow the best tomatoes in the land! I guess I should try a little harder to enjoy them. For my state.

#10 & #24 – Kayaks and Kites

I’ll just go ahead and give you the moral of the story right up front.  It goes like this…

dance in the rainAnd ain’t that the truth?!  We get one – just one – beautiful, amazing life!  We gotta get out there and live it!  It’s kind of what my list is all about/helping me learn.  BUT! But. If there is a storm, I mean an actual weather storm, with thunder and lightning and the whole bit, then you might want to wait it out.  Don’t let it stop you, just be safe.  That’s what happened this weekend when I went kayaking and kite flying at the beach with my good, good friends.  Thunderstorms ended our kayaking trip a bit early and delayed our kite flying for some time, but we did get to do both and we had lots and lots of fun together!  See here…

That little one in the middle is quite the paddler!

That’s not my kayak but I was still so happy to be on the water. And it was the first time I got to go with the little one. We were both psyched about that! Only a little longer til she can do her own boat (or try mine!).

“Look at that cloud! Looks like it’s leaking. Is that rain?”

BOOM! Thunder. Kayaking. Over.
We do some shopping while it pours.

At this beach, kite flying is only allowed after 6pm. So we take a walk by the water while we wait. We enjoy the pretty sky, assess the wind…

…we get hit with a wave while posing for pics…

…then we turn around and see this sky! And BOOM! more thunder…

So we wait it out with a pedicure for tiny toes.

Then when the storm passed…she just went for it! That kite was flying high!

She kept telling me to let mine go higher…

She came over to give me some pointers…

…so I let ‘er go to the end of her rope!

Pure joy! Worth the wait.

Look at those cute beach feet! Thanks, friends! The kayaking, the kites, the beach, the horse racing, taking the pics… the whole weekend was wonderful! xoxo

#5 & #14 – Do Not Mix!

Let’s just review the numbers for a sec. In case you don’t have them memorized.  Don’t worry.  Neither do I.  #5 is about hosting family dinners for no reason at all, or at least not a holiday, and #14 is about trying out new recipes.  Now, if you know my family, er, my dad, you know that these two things do not mix.  For example, here are a few things my dad has been known to say to me when I’m hosting family dinner:  “No green stuff.”  “Don’t you just have regular mustard?” “Why can’t you make normal cookies, like chocolate chip?”  “I don’t wanna smell any weird things cooking with my Thanksgiving dinner.”  But I think the family favorite is, “When you think it’s done, cook it 5 more minutes.”  Yep! Good idea, Dad.  Just burn the flavor right out of it!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dad! He’s one of the good guys. He takes care of me. He listens to me. He encourages me. He’s kind. He’s a hard worker.  He’s funny.  I inherited his skinny strong legs.  He just offered to buy me a new bike. (Thanks, Daddy!)  He just doesn’t like to eat the stuff that I like to cook.  So when I made Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken from this lady’s new cookbook, he didn’t eat any. Wouldn’t even try it.  Good thing I had mom, aunt, uncle and godson there!  Good thing I burnt made hamburgers too.

Speaking of godson…we made whipped cream in a jar, thanks to Tracy Shutterbean! I’m thinking she would approve of the jar/plastic container swap for the 4-year-old.  I played a little Twist n Shout (shake it up baby!) and the boy shook!  He only took one lick of dessert as evidenced in the picture below,  buuuuuuut… my dad… took some home! (minus the whipped cream.  “What’s wrong with Cool Whip?”)

Whipping cream in a container…aaaannnnnd…shake it up, baby!


This song could work too!

Taste it!

The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake by Molly Wizenberg

Want the dessert recipe?  Go here.  Get this book.

#18 – Wild

It’s the book I just finished reading!

Wild is the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s eleven-hundred-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.  At the age of 26,  a few years after her mother died of cancer and her marriage ended, Cheryl decided to start walking, all by herself, in the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon all the way to Washington State.  She was not an experienced hiker and was at a very low place in her life.  At times, her journey across the land seemed to break her down even further.  The book starts like this: Continue reading

#24 – Not Too Old for Kites

I love being at the beach!  It’s a great place to do lots of things.  I like relaxing, reading, walking, napping, playing games, swimming, and, my new skill, ocean kayaking wave riding.  But, the beach has got to be the best place for kite flying.  At any other location, you have to wait for a windy day. Around here, that’s probably one day in March.  But at the beach, there’s a good breeze on most days. Sure, kite flying might seem like a kiddie thing to do, but who doesn’t want to feel young at heart? And remember when I was a lil down about being 34? Welp!  I wasn’t sad on my last visit to the Jersey shore. (Don’t forget!! This, NOT this!) There were smiles and laughs when I enlisted a friend and we flew some kites!  When’s the last time you did that?

First, we have to put our kites together.

Then, we get away from the people, because no one wants a kite crash.

And Bre’s kite just sails away!

Apparently, I put the string in the wrong place, so mine needs a little fixing – with my teeth! Aak!

Apparently, my teeth aren’t strong enough and I do NOT like the feeling of biting on string! Kite flying almost becomes NO FUN! But then, Jackie puts down the camera and fixes it for me. Thanks, J!

Bre’s having no troubles!

2nd try…

…and we have lift off!

We don’t know how to do kite tricks. Do you?

Go fly a kite!

#10 – In Which I Totally Redeem Myself

So last week, there was that whole kayaking debacle, but this weekend, there was OCEAN KAYAKING! And WAVE RIDING! Look at me!

Ridin the waves! Like a pro.

Ok.  There was just one wave ridden and maybe some hoohaa about it beforehand, but still.  I did it.  Redeemed?  I think so.

Now I could just stop here and let myself look kinda cool.  It’s a cool picture, right? But I’d like to be honest about the situation and I’d like to say a big thank you to my friend, Jackie who put up with said hoohaa and helped make this wave riding happen.  I mentioned before that I’m a calm water girl, you know, lakes and bays and such. That’s my kayaking comfort zone. The waves make me a little nervous. I didn’t want to wipe out in front of all the weekend beach goers or, worse, be the first rescue case for the lifeguard trainees who were working out on the sand that day.  So I may or may not have been whining a little bit on our walk to the beach.  Some people might say that I was making excuses, but I really didn’t have breakfast that morning.  Plus I’d gone on a looonng bike ride, riding into the wind practically the entire time. That kind of resistance takes extra energy.  Did I mention I was riding my mountain bike? on the road?! Not as easy to pedal as Jackie’s nice road bike.  I think there was legitimate cause for concern about weakness and fatigue. Maybe I was too tired for wave paddling. It was hot out too. And humid.  Do you think this is hoohaa?  This is the kind of stuff that Jackie was listening to all morning.  And though she may have called me lame once or twice, she never offered an out.  She never said, “You know, you don’t HAVE to do this.  Your list is supposed to be about fun, if it makes you nervous, just relax and read instead. No biggie.”  A little bit, I wanted an out.  Like right here.  Right here, I really wanted an out.

I think I was saying, “I don’t know about this…”

But if you scroll back up to that wave riding pic, right there I was so glad to have my friend who doesn’t let me back out.  Right there I was having fun! Right there I was feeling like a real kayaker.  I was reminded that I’m a girl who has rafted the Gauley River.  Boy, was that nerve wracking!  But I did that too and maybe I should keep on doing stuff that takes me out of my comfort zone. There are a few spots left on my list…I might consider your suggestions…

PS – The next day we took it easy.  Flat waters, in the bay, Atlantic City in view.  Could have done without the greenhead flies, though. That’s two paddles in one weekend!  Thanks, Jac!

#15 – Za!

If you’ve read some of my recent posts, you might know that I had a little kayaking fake out and that was a bit of a bummer.  You might also know that I got my passport in the mail and that was super exciting.  What you might not know is that those two things actually happened on the same day.  Downs and ups.  For a little while, I was looking for a way to perk up the day and then I wanted to have a celebration.  So what did we do?  Za!

Za Restaurant
Pennington, NJ

This restaurant was a great place to have a little cheer up celebration dinner with two of my wonderful friends! But I did kind of continue the down and up theme, just a little. Not a terrible downer, but, you see, Za has “Lobster Bliss” happening right now.  The have 7 different lobster dishes to choose from, each with 2 pounds of Maine lobster meat which has already been removed from the shell.  No mess.  No plastic bib.  They have lobster tempura.  I like lobster. I like fried things!  I like being past the bib stage of life!  But, guess what.  I didn’t order any lobster.  I got grilled asparagus and aubergines risotto.  (Aubergines are eggplant. Did you know that?  I didn’t.)  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, very good.  But I should have gotten the lobster. I wished it as soon as the waiter walked away.  If you’re tempted to get the lobster, you should just get the lobster.  Treat yourself, people!  It’s not like we’re out ordering lobster every day.  Or dessert.  So when dessert time came, I made up for it. Heck yeah, we’re ordering dessert tonight!  It was butterscotch pot de creme, like a custard, served with house-made whipped cream and raspberries.  Yum! I heard the key lime pie was pretty good too!  So the moral of the story is, if you really want to go kayaking, but the lake is closed, just go get yourself some lobster and dessert. Things will be looking up.

Oh yeah.  Za is where this happened.

My good, good friend saved me some tomatoes from her apple pico salmon dinner so that I could live up to the blog name. Thanks, Jac! I said I was just kidding about #13!