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Sunday, September 13, 2015

It's Time to Try New Things

I don't know what it is about early fall, but it always makes me feel like starting new projects, learning new things, and trying something new.  I suppose it stems from the start of a new school year and all the opportunities and possibilities that brings.  Already, our family has ventured out into new domains, and with the cooler mornings, falling leaves, and autumn harvests, I am excited about what else lies in store for us over the next few months.

Our first new discovery is Cookie Butter, sold at Trader Joe's.  This is the best nut butter we have come across since Nutella.  It comes in a variety of flavors, and I am finding recipes using this weekly.  For now, we're simply spreading it on bread, using it as a dip with Pretzel Crisps, or just eating it on a spoon.  This does go against my usual diet of healthy, wholesome, natural foods, but I also say "everything in moderation."  I give the credit to The Monogrammed Life for this delicious find, and for the next one.

While I am not a bacon fanatic, this is an interesting combination.  I do love dark chocolate and ganache, and I am always game to trying a new variety of chocolate bar.  The bacon is not overpowering but is definitely noticeable.  These are sold at Trader Joe's for $1.97, but I've been informed that they can also be found at Walmart.

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Our 10 year old son begged us to take him to a restaurant that served calamari while we were on vacation.  It turned out that almost every child in our family loved it, and now calamari is a regular request when we eat out.

Although I am not a fan of most beer, I have been loyal to Samuel Adams in the past.  However, after trying the Achoo Chili Pale Ale from Robin Hood Brewing Co., I have found a new favorite.  You can actually smell the chili peppers in this ale, and it leaves a surprising hint of the same on your tastebuds.  It's fantastic with pizza, I'm told, but I paired it with jambalaya.

My husband and I have been trying out new restaurants the past few months including this one.  Revival Kitchen is located in the village of Reedsville, PA.  It uses fresh ingredients from local farms and sells bottles of wine in the back from a local winery.  The menu changes based on what produce, herbs, and meats are available at the time, and there are many unusual offerings.  The coconut jasmine rice that I had as a side dish was to die for.  The food was great and so was the presentation.

Additionally, I discovered a new wine at this restaurant that we really like.  I usually just order a chardonnay, but this Traminette made by Seven Mountains Winery was perfect with our dinner.  We also sampled their rhubarb wine out of curiosity, which would be great with dessert.

New foods and beverages are not the only new things we are trying.  To counterbalance the calorie intake, we have also been going on mountain bikerides and hikes on various trails through the woods here on our mountain.  Our younger two boys just recently learned to ride bikes, and they now want to ride daily.  Learning to ride a bike on gravel lanes downhill is no easy feat, which is why it hasn't happened for them until 9 and 10 years of age.  Now that they've got it down, however, they are hooked.  Those of us not on bikes are walking our beagle and sometimes carrying one of our cats who insist on tagging along, but then bawl the whole way.

Additional New Things We Are Trying:

*Once Upon a Time.  I know we're a little late to discover this, but we have not had cable or satellite television for years.  We do now have Netflix, which is where we found the first four seasons of this ABC television series.  I really didn't think I would be interested in it, but I chromecast it for our children one day, and now we are hooked.  Fairy tales with a modern day twist, this show holds the interests of everyone in our family.  With Netflix, it's tempting to bingewatch all the episodes at once, but we are restraining ourselves and limiting it to two or three episodes at a time to make it last.

*Violin lessons and Band.  Our youngest decided to give up ballet and start playing the violin instead, so this week begins lessons for her for the first time.  Our younger boys are continuing to take lessons in trumpet and clarinet, but this year they will also participate in their new school's band.  Our ten year old is my only one who doesn't like to be in the spotlight, but he assures me that since he'll be on stage with other performers, he'll be fine at the concerts.

*Learning Spanish.  I'm so excited to begin learning Spanish with our homeschooled son via Rosetta Stone.  I had four years of French in high school and college, plus a year of Italian, but I have not yet learned this romance language other than what I picked up on Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer when we had preschoolers.  I can't wait to get started.

*Lots of new books.  We just got a library card from another public library that is close to our children's new school, and I found shelves and shelves of books that I have been wanting to read.  I am a closet sociologist (well, I guess I'm out now) and I had to restrain myself and not check out an entire shelf before vacation.  I just finished reading these five and can't wait to go back and check out more:  Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America by Barbara Jensen; When Did White Trash Become the New Normal:  A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question by Charlotte Hays; Class Matters by correspondents of The New York Times; The Middle-Class Millionaire; The Rise of the New Rich and How They are Changing America by Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff; and Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank.

I hope you and your family are finding new things to try with the changing seasons.

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