A Trip to Terrain

The first thought I had today as I took the vacuum to my bathroom to deal with a spider approximately the size of Venezuela, was that being an adult sucks because you don’t have another more adultier adult to deal with spiders.

Possibly you do when you get married, but I wouldn’t want to take the time to track down my husband to deal with it. The chances are, the second you leave the room, the spider uses its powers of teleportation to hang out in your bed instead.

But my long and redundant is that I’m actually glad to be an adult, because my adult friends and I can go out and do adult things together. Like spend all day in a greenhouse, for example.

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One with a mushroom house, even.

I always thought I liked plants until I met my friends Katrina and Addison. It turns out, I’m a small fry in the world of liking plants. I may have twelve plants in my bedroom as we speak, but Katrina and Addison live in a house that is 85% plant life and 15% board games. Frankly, it’s ideal.

Katrina, previously mentioned as the person most like a fairy I’ve ever met (besides my father), is always dragging me off to strange and fascinating places, like fancy tea houses and the Mutter Museum. This time, it was a restaurant and greenhouse called Terrain.

Terrain is a nifty restaurant and greenhouse that is always teaming with people. And by people, I mean white thirty-something women. Katrina and Addison go there whenever they can justify spending the entirety of their paycheck on plants. They were very excited. I was excited by osmosis.

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The front entrance.

Terrain is several big barn-like structures full of plants, and things related to plants. And candles. And hats. And variously-shaped glass jars. Much like Renaissance Faires, it’s a magnet for a certain kind of people. Typically, people of the feminine persuasion who enjoy things like brunch and sunny hiking trips.

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The roof was always covered in plants and I could never tell how many were real.

If you like spending fifteen dollars on a pretty pink perfume-bottle plant mister, boy is Terrain the place for you.

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Just look at all these colored bottles!

I spent a considerable amount of time wandering the place and resisting the urge to grab everything I saw. Ferns were everywhere. Air-plants were everywhere. Containers to make your own terrarium; fourteen different sizes of terracotta pots; watering cans that looked cute but were, according to Addison, much more decorative than functional.

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I’m an instant killer of ferns, but I crave them like some kind of fern vampire.

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One day, my house will look like this.

We wandered around the place for an hour before our brunch lunch reservation was up. The attached restaurant serves, predictably, a lot of plant-based meals, and a number of fascinating teas. And, perhaps best of all, they server their appetizer bread in a flowerpot.

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And it was delicious.

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Anyone who ever goes to Terrain has to take a picture of the flower pot bread. It’s the Law. 

I always feel a degree of shame with taking pictures of my food at restaurants, but I was too drunk on Terrain’s “Iced Blueberry Pie Chai” to care. I had two.

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This was a fried cauliflower burger. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was.

After lunch it was back out to the greenhouses to collect plants for purchase.

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And to stare at the massive ceiling kokedamas.

There was a book sale coming up the following Monday that I planned on splurging on, so I told myself I could only buy one item at Terrain. Accordingly, I bought two plants, two fancy pots, and a pretty plant spray bottle.

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Was it worth it? Absolutely.

If you live anywhere near Glen Mills, PA, I would recommend taking a day and going to explore Terrain- possibly in another month or so, when there’s more to see outside as with the inside. The downside, of course, being that you will begin your slow transformation into a middle-aged white woman who throws garden parties, but it’s a small price to pay.

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Well, that and that if you go to Terrain and then to a book sale the next day, you won’t have enough money leftover to purchase this gem.

Hobbit Breakfast

Do you enjoy meals that are comprised of oil, salt, and heart disease? I sure do!

Back in Idaho we grew/raised most of the ingredients needed for a vaguely omelette-shaped meal, dubbed the “Hobbit Breakfast” on account of its size. But when I moved to the east coast, I didn’t have the ingredients readily available anymore, so I stopped making it.

Until today!

I thought I’d share how to make it, because the internet is full of quality recipes that are picture-perfect and healthy, but somewhat lacking in ugly creations that equal five McDonald’s meals in calories. Frankenstein food needs representation too.

Your ingredients are:

  • Eggs
  • Milk, I guess, if you aren’t lactose intolerant
  • Some kind of seasoning. Italian, maybe
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Ham
  • Grated cheese
  • English muffins with butter, toasted

You’ll note that the amount of each ingredient is not listed. This is because it all varies depending on how much you can eat and it’s all very haphazard to begin with.

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You start with start with two potatoes. It’s usually two. Sometimes in Idaho we’d pull a potato the size of a celebrity’s purse dog from the ground, and then I’d just use one. Sometimes I’d use five if they were the size of a chicken egg. It all depends on how much your body can handle; the goal is to stuff it so you don’t want to eat for another week.

These should be diced to about the size of your thumbnail, because they cook faster and brown more evenly if they’re smaller. Then- this is the key part, really- you pour a lot of olive oil over the top of them. This is no time for moderation. We’re not healthy here.

Finally, you throw a lot of seasoning over the top. The type of seasoning doesn’t really matter; I use “Mrs. Dash” when I have it, but anything vaguely garlicky will work. Add a little salt, set it over mid-low heat, and stir enough that it doesn’t stick to the pan too often.

While that’s cooking, I start with the omelette.

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I recommend living in your rich employers’ house, so that you can use their Wisconsin 10 Year Aged Cheddar in your terrible breakfast food.

Now, you can put whatever you like in your omelette. Some people like onions, and those people are wrong. But it’s a free country, so while I can’t endorse putting in anything other than cheese, ham, and some of those diced potatoes, you can do whatever you feel is right.

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Proportions here vary depending on the size of the individual. I’m a tiny person (much like a hobbit, you see?), so my egg mix is two eggs and a small splash of milk. I toss in some grated cheese to hold it together better. Salt and pepper to mask the fact that everything besides the cheese is poor quality, and maybe a little garlic or onion powder as well.

Then, when the potatoes are done frying, you put them aside on a plate for later, turn down the heat on the stove and pour the egg mix into the pan.

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Yes, the pan that’s all dirty and greasy from the potatoes still. But yes, I also pour out excess oil beforehand. You want flavor, not a massage parlor in your mouth.

Back home our stove lacked finesse. There was high, medium, and low, and that was all we needed. Here, I tried putting my omelette on “low” and discovered that on a nice stove, “low” means “simmer your omelette mix for six hours.” Thus, this part took longer than I expected it to.

While the omelette was slowly doing nothing, I started heating the tea water (of course), pre-buttered some English Muffins, and threw them in the toaster.

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The funny thing about Thomas English Muffins is that they are not even close to the best English Muffins I’ve ever had. They taste like I tried to make English Muffins but forgot to add something like salt or love. And yet, the east coast doesn’t seem to sell any other kind. In Idaho, you often had several options; here, the English Muffin section of the bread aisle is dominated by Thomas and their eighteen different types of bland.

Note: Do not butter your English Muffins ahead of time if you don’t have a toaster oven. I much prefer buttering beforehand so that it melts into the bread as it toasts, but I don’t feel that would work well when your muffins are toasted vertically.

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When your omelette is on the verge of hardening up, drop your omelette contents onto one side so that they start to heat. Then, I recommend getting too impatient with the speed at which your employer’s stove is cooking, so try to flip it prematurely.

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Perfect.

The good news is that this recipe is very forgiving, because the end result is supposed to look bad. Even when you flip one of these omelettes poorly, it’s still all right because I always divide the omelette down the middle, to make it easier to move around and share with others.

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This could be the front cover of the next Martha Stewart book.

At this point, if you’ve timed it right (and I often haven’t), your tea should be done, your muffins should be toasted, and your potatoes are probably cold so heat those up in the microwave real quick. After that, all you have to do is throw everything together on a plate.

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There you are, Hobbit Breakfast.

It may look terrible, but the high salt content makes it very addictive, and once you’ve convinced someone to try it they will never stop badgering you to make it again (hello, sister). Alternatively, you could have a McDonald’s breakfast and delay your impending heart attack by a few years.

Happy eating!

Disney Nannying: The Third Day

Wednesday was our “vacation from vacation,” in which we didn’t attend any parks. Instead, we spent time on the boardwalk, swam in the pool, and the kids had more fun than at any other point in the vacation.

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To be fair, the Boardwalk is spectacular. Lined with shops, restaurants, and clubs, it’s open all hours of the day and far into the night. Every evening you can walk by a number of interesting street shows along the lines of magic tricks and juggling. It really hit the perfect line between child-friendly and adult.

It was at this point that the kids saw the multiple-person “bicycles” for rent. Costing a mere $24 per half hour, these strange contraptions allowed the whole (normal-sized) family to squeeze in and circle the entire boardwalk.

Amazingly, they allowed all six to nine of us to squeeze onto the device. I had hoped I would be excused from this family event, but they needed someone else who could reach the pedals, and since I (sadly) made the height requirement by two inches, I was instructed to come along.

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Florida is actually quite nice in November, but only when it’s cloudy and not humid and you don’t have to live there.

It was not quite as bad as I had feared, although there was a colossal spat about who got to ring the bell, which resulted in us careening down the boardwalk, frantically ringing the bell at each and every passerby to warn them that The Family was there and that we couldn’t slow down because we were too busy trying to separate some squabbling octopuses.

After this ordeal we were all hot and sticky, so we changed and made our way down to the pool. This pool, I should note, was pretty spectacular. It was massive. There was a bar. There was a hot tub. There was a kiddie pool with an attached playground. There was an elaborate twisting water slide.

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Naturally, the only picture I took of it was of this lizard, who was admittedly very cute.

We spent all afternoon in the pool. I introduced the younger boys (not yet good swimmers) to the idea of a hot tub, which became their new favorite invention and from which they had to be coaxed regularly so they did not overheat. The older boys, meanwhile, went down the water slide approximately eighty times.

After a few hours of this, everyone was given baths and dressed in nice shirts and slacks, because we had a reservation at “Flying Fish” on the boardwalk. It turns out Flying Fish is far, far fancier than it sounds.

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But still fish-themed. These are the chandeliers.

I tried not to take too many pictures; it seemed inappropriate given the circumstances. Fortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to be tempted to do so, as I immediately went into damage-control mode. I sat with a few of the boys on my end of the table, and devoted everything I had to keeping them seated, facing forwards, not fighting, not yelling, not playing with the wine glasses. We played an outrageous number of games of “I Spy”.

When we were given the menus I sorted out what they wanted first (fish and chips. All of them) before I picked up the menu for myself and realized I was thoroughly out of my depth.

I’m still convinced most of the dish names were in some strange medly of Italian and French, and therefor completely unpronounceable. The descriptions were cryptic at best, promising things like “ancient grains”, “Mascarpone-laced Risotto di Carnaroli with Prosciutto di Parma Cracklins“, and “Red Wine-Cassis Butter Reduction“. In the end, I chose the cheapest dish I could find ($37). It had “salmon” in the name, which I was reasonable sure I could pronounce.

When it arrived, the entire dish was the size of my palm and had some strange pea-sized orange orbs sitting on the top. I surmised that these were a new type of caviar, as when you ate them they burst in your mouth with a sudden fishy taste.

I scraped them off and hid them under the sauce, and thought about the fact that I could be eating 37 McChickens for that price.

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The desert menu’s tea featured aromas, palates, AND notes, a sure sign that this place was too classy for me.

I put all of my nanny school training into eating dinner correctly, foggily recalling my 800 page etiquette book and the extensive chapters on dining, but I needn’t have bothered because absolutely no one else in the restaurant was bothering to do the same.

I ordered the only desert that sounded human, and it was… well, it was a fancy restaurant desert.

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No wonder the service in this place was so slow.

All things considered, it really was a good thing that the portion sizes were so small, because I could have eaten eight of whatever strange, chocolatey thing they gave me.

Two hours and seven trips to the bathroom later, The Family and I stumbled back to our rooms, thoroughly exhausted by our vacation from vacation. After a while of listening to the chaos in the room next to me, I went for a walk on the Boardwalk by myself. It’s really not so bad when you can choose where to go and what to do on your own.

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