Sinful Concoction

A week or two ago Scot and I were discussing ice cream for some reason and he told me that the best coffee ice cream he’d ever tried had been one he sampled when we were visiting friends of ours in Philadelphia.  (Thus, it was Philly style ice cream – ie:  no eggs.)  We’ve bought all kinds of varieties of coffee ice cream over the years from Bryers and Ben & Jerry’s to Starbucks and Häagen Dazs.  Never have we been able to duplicate the sheer bliss that was this particular ice cream.

Scot was waxing rhapsodic about this stuff so I pulled out my ice cream cookbook, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.  The great thing about this book is that it has many recipes in both regular and Philly style.  So I flipped to “Coffee” and found a Philly style recipe.  I told Scot I would make it for him and make I did, just today. 

[insert pornographic sounds of rapture here]

That stuff is amazing.  So, of course I have to share the recipe.  It’s fantastically easy, with just three ingredients.

Coffee Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style
by:  Bruce Weinstein

3.5 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole coffee beans

Heat the cream in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edge.  Do not let the cream boil.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar.  Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.  Stir in the coffee beans.  Cover and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

Strain out the coffee beans.  Freeze in 1 to 2 batches in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat.  For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least two hours.

(makes about 1 qt)


Coffee Cordial Ice Cream:  Add 1/4 cup coffee liqueur to the cream along with the sugar.  Proceed with recipe as directed

Mexican Coffee Ice Cream:  Add 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon along with the coffee beans.  Proceed with recipe as directed.


Tomorrow Is My Birthday and I Already Got an Awesome Present.

Liam gifted me with this tonight, made especially for me by him:

Allow me to interpret.  From the left we have Scot with a red lightsaber, Liam with a blue lightsaber, Jamie with a green lightsaber, and Maggie the Wonder Beagle.

He had a little help from Dad with the spelling but otherwise it was all him.  My kid is awesome.

Gargoyles and Dragons and Awesome, Oh My!

Yesterday morning we took the kids to Phipps Conservatory – always a popular destination in our house.  We missed the spring flower show but as we walked in the door to the Conservatory we were greeted with this:

(is it just me or is that Gargoyle well endowed?)
They’re setting up for an exhibit featuring gargoyles and dragons and it is going to be very, very cool.  I am so excited to see it completed.  They hadn’t finished setting up everything so we’ll be going back in the near future so we can see the whole thing.
But, even without all of it being set up, they had a TON of cool statuary and topiary and what not in the various room of the Conservatory.  Check it out!
A topiary Sea Dragon! (and it spits water, too!)
This dragon (and two more like it) is made of wood and tree parts.  Incredibly cool in person.
Also, the agave plant is blooming.  It only blooms once every 50 years or so and the flower stalk can grow up to a foot a day.  It’s already gone through the roof of the Conservatory and hasn’t yet produced the flower.  It’s really cool – look closely at the pictures for the stalk going right through the glass roof.
I also got a few cool pictures I wanted to share.  The first two are of a wreath made out of succulent plants that was hanging on the door of the room the agave plant was in.  The close up is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken there.

This one is a random succulent that was also in the agave room.  I just loved how it looked in the sunlight and how it looked like flower petals but wasn’t.

Last, I wanted to share two pictures of the family.  The first one is of Scot and Liam being gargoyles in front of the cathedral tower.  The second is my new favorite picture of Jamie.

I swear, the Conservatory gets cooler and cooler every time we go.  If you have a chance to see this exhibit, do it because it is not to be missed.

The Soccer Kid

In the last week Liam has suddenly discovered a passion for soccer. We’ve had a soccer ball for at least a year and we tried to interest him in signing up for soccer with the community league back in the fall but he was adamant that he didn’t want to do it. Then, the other day, he and I kicked the ball around in the driveway and suddenly it was the greatest thing ever.

He even said “Mommy, can you sign me up for soccer?” Whoa.

I discovered that there is no league for the summer and we missed out on the spring sign up so he’ll have to wait until the fall. But, Scot went to We Be Toys and looked for a simple goal set that the could play with in the yard. He found a cheap set and picked it up. He brought it home on his lunch hour so that Liam could play with in the yard that day.

Liam was thrilled.

So, here’s our little soccer nut doing his thing.

I Wonder If I Could Have Paid Them In The Form of the Beagle

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the name of this blog is “Two Kids and a Beagle.” You might have also noticed that I haven’t posted about the beagle much lately.

Here’s where that all changes.

Magnolia Dumplin‘ aka Maggie the Wonder Beags is in deep doo doo with me to the tune of $360. See, Maggie has this joyous little habit of peeing in the house. She started doing it when we moved in to this house 3 years ago (three years!? What?!) and we’ve tried a number of things to make her quit. About the only thing that has made a dent is putting her on anti-depressants. While she still isn’t perfect, at least I’m not cleaning up 3 pee spots a day.

However, she still has two rooms in the house that she considers her personal pissing ground – the library and, of all places, Liam’s bedroom. I have a spot steam cleaner and I use that to clean up after her. We’ve tried sprays to deodorize and keep her from going in the same place. I’ve had the carpets in the whole house cleaned by a less than reputable company because I was trying to save cash. I’ve used baking soda to kill the odor. Despite it all, the pee smell lingered. Liam’s room got to a point where I smelled it every time I walked in. On damp days, if I walked in the front door, I could smell it coming from the library.

It made me absolutely mental.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and I called in Stanley Steemer. I knew they would be more expensive but I figured they would be more thorough and have better products for cleaning and deodorizing the carpets. So, I scheduled them to clean the library, Liam’s room, and the family room since that room was just gross from baby urp. The thing I didn’t count on was just how much more expensive they would be.

See, the problem is that most of the rooms in my house are what they consider to be “oversize” – more than 250 square feet. This applied to both the library and the family room. That meant an extra charge. Plus labor. Plus tax. Plus the extra deodorizing spray. So yeah. The $217 quote turned into $360 when all was said and done.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I have no bad things to say about Stanley Steemer. They came in with two guys, did all three rooms in about an hour flat, and still managed to clean under most of the furniture. They were professional and awesome and the carpets look great now. But my wallet is substantially thinner as a result. If only I could have paid them in body fat – then I would be substantially thinner.

Which leads us right back to Magnolia Dumplin‘. If she so much as sniffs around looking for a place to squat, I’m going to have her hide for a pair of slippers.

*angry eyes*

The Great Retaining Wall Project of 2010

This is the retaining wall at the end of our driveway. You can see the corner of the house at the right of the picture. That’s where our garages are. So, the wall is holding the hill back from spilling into the driveway and making our garages unusable for their intended purpose.

This wall is not small. The long part of the ‘L’ is around 26 feet long; the short part is about 20 ft. Also, there is a small portion of wall on the other side of the stairway – right up against the house. As you can see, the wall is made of railroad ties – which look completely untreated to me. Now, I ask myself: Who in their right mind builds a retaining wall with untreated lumber? I answer myself: A cheap bastard who doesn’t care about wood destroying insects, that’s who.

We have lived here 3 years now. When we moved in the wall was not in the state it is in now. If you notice in the picture above, the wall is beginning to lean precariously in the WRONG direction.

In addition, soil shifting and insects are causing things like this to happen:

and this:
and this:

We knew last summer that our big project for the house this summer would probably be rebuilding this wall and doing so in stone so that it wouldn’t get into this state again. It wasn’t exactly my idea of a fabulous way to spend several thousand dollars because, you know, Hawaii would be far more relaxing, but it was either rebuild or risk having it fall over of its own accord.

Then Snowmageddon hit. That? Not helpful. Before all was said and done, I was shoving snow up against the wall and packing it down in an effort to help prop the wall up from all the weight of the snow on top of it. I was half afraid that that damn thing wasn’t going to last the winter.

Luckily enough it did and here we are. We can’t wait any longer so I started getting estimates on having it replaced with the Versa-lok wall system. Just the estimates make me want to hyperventilate while rocking in a corner and working myself into a heart attack. It looks like it’s going to end up costing us about $6,500 to replace the wall.

Ok, I know I had a paper bag to breathe into somewhere close by…

Ah, there it is. Excuse me a moment…

[inhale] [exhale]

Ok, better now. Whew.

In the end, we’re going to have to bite the bullet and just spend the money. The wall can’t wait another year and it will only be more expensive the longer we wait. So, if you read a craigslist ad from a woman seeking to sell her kidney, you’ll know why.