Wednesday, May 27, 2009

*home grown*

Had I known the simple fact that we grew it ourselves, would inspire Hazel to eat a salad (and actually ask for another the next day)... I would have started growing my own vegetable garden years ago! The only unfortunate part is that it's a rather slow process growing all of those delicious veggies. So far, the only thing that has been ready to consume has been the romaine lettuce. But, let me tell you... those lettuce heads are HUGE! Enough to make grilled chicken Caesar salads for well over a week. Hopefully, it won't be long before we have some other veggies ripe for the pickin'! I even picked up a book on canning and preserving. Now all I have to do is purchase a canner, pick out some recipes, and wait... not. so. patiently.

Other happenings over our extended Memorial Day weekend...

* All-American white picket fence around the front yard: nearly finished.

* A fun little potluck birthday party at some new friends' house. For which, I fixed these. If you like spicy food, I really recommend you try this recipe. It is DELISH! And, it's a very flavorful kind of spicy... not just hot for the sake of being hot.

* A new truck! Our Jeep was getting on in years, and Bryan wanted me to have a more reliable vehicle to drive while he's deployed later this year. So, he bought me a fab new 2009 F-150! I never thought I'd own a truck and actually L.O.V.E. it!

* Getting settled back into the house after my 10 day trip to Alaska. Why does it always take so long to get unpacked and resettled? Probably because I'm chasing around 2 small children all the while.

That's about it, but it was certainly enough to keep us more than busy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A delicious repost

We're busy, busy, busy around here this weekend. I'll be back with tidbits from the past days on Tuesday. But, for now, I wanted to do a little repost. As some of you might know, my blog was featured in the summer edition of Artful Blogging.

Since then, I've been getting a lot of e-mails regarding this particular photo:

A lot of people remarked about how delicious my clam chowder looked in the photo, but were disappointed (after sifting through all my archives) to find the photo with no recipe. So, for everyone who asked for my secret clam chowder recipe. Here you go... (Fair warning: it is very time-consuming, but WELL worth it!)

The broth:

4 slices of bacon
Olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 C. white wine
3 C. water

In a large pot, over med. heat, add bacon & saute until fat is rendered and bacon is browned (about 5 min). Remove the cooked bacon, and discard. Add 1-count of the olive oil to the pot along with the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are translucent (3-5 min). Add clams, lemon juice, wine and water; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, simmer 10-15 min to open the clams. Remove the clams from the pot, discarding any that didn't open. Using a colander, strain broth into a bowl. Pull the clams from their shells, chop them; set aside. Clean out the soup pot before reusing it to make the soup base.

The soup base:

2 Tbs. butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 C. heavy whipping cream
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled & diced
Salt & pepper
16 littleneck clams, scrubbed well
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley

Heat the butter and 1 Tbs, EVOO in soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon, onion, garlic and thyme to the pot. Cook until the bacon renders its fat and veggies are soft (8-10 min). Dust the veggies with flour; stir to coat. Pour in reserved clam broth; bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the cream and potatoes. Again, bring to a boil. Boil hard for about 7 minutes, or until the potatoes start to break down. Add the previously chopped clams; season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the uncooked clams that are still in their shells. Cover, and simmer to open the clams (about 10 minutes). Discard any unopened clams. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately with thick slices of French bread. Enjoy!

That made me hungry just typing it! I might just have to make an emergency trip to the market for some clams...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Label Tulip Stuffs...

Time to share my monthly projects with the BEAUTIFUL May kits from Label Tulip! I loved, loved, loved this month's kit! It was packed with bright, colorful papers and lots of unique embellishments. PLUS, our very own Alexis Hardy designed the most amazing mini-book kit! Here's what I did with it...

It made a great mini to scrap all of the photos from my cruise! I had tons of pictures that wouldn't have fit in most books. But, the little envelopes inside this mini were perfect for stashing all those extra photos!

This month's challenge was to create a page about something that most people don't know about you. Most people probably don't know that for years, when I was younger, I used to own and show horses!

A fun little page using pictures from this year's Easter egg dying party (gotta' love that LT exclusive paint splash stamp)!

And, finally, our member lift for this month. Tulip Girl, Christina Clouse, selected this layout from our member, Marianne Hope:

And, here's my spin on it...

Well, that's all she wrote for this month. I've had a wretched cold, and I've been traveling a lot. So, there wasn't a lot of creating time this month. :0( Better luck next time, right? Happy weekend!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Permanent Vacation

I've had a little trouble easing back into the real world after such a fabulous vacation. Of course, I came home to a house where an unattended husband lived for a week... and all of the messes that go along with that. LOL! It took me all week to unpack, clean, and get back into the swing of things. But, I think I'm ready to be back. Well, at least until my next vacation! So, how about some photos from my little cruise get-away?

Our first stop was in Key West, where we visited "The Smallest Bar." Literally. It was a counter under an awning, carefully squeezed between two buildings. Kinda' like a guy with a cooler and a liquor license.

They made the most amazing concoction of I-don't-know-what. All I know was that it had a lot of rum, and I was feeling no pain. The Jamaican bartender was pretty nice...

You had your choice of a coconut or pineapple for a "glass." At $17, the pineapple wasn't a bargain... but that didn't stop us.

The Custom House Museum had some nifty sculptures surrounding the outside of the building...

The next day was an "at-sea" day. Loved it. Massage in the morning, drinks by the pool in the afternoon, good food at night... relaxing at it's best.

The 3rd day was the BEST by far. We were in Grand Cayman, and took a day-long excursion to Hell's post office, Tortuga Rum Cake factory (the chocolate rum cake was AMAZING... a couple made it home in my suitcase), the turtle farm, and to Sting Ray City to swim with the stingrays.

The turtles were just so adorable...

And, I was amazed that they actually let you catch one in the tank and even hold it for a couple of minutes!

Isn't he the cutest?!? Surprisingly, they weren't at all aggressive and seemed to enjoy being held. The stingrays, although loving to be played with as well, were a little more intimidating. It took me a couple of minutes to warm up to them. But, I eventually got used to it.

If you ever plan to swim with the rays, I highly recommend leaving any jewelry behind... especially rings... especially if you want to feed them. Those things have some insanely strong suction in their mouths. You might just pull you hand out to find some bling missing. I was glad I had enough foresight to leave my wedding ring in the safe on the ship.

All in all, it was a fabulous vacation. I can't wait to do another cruise... hopefully when Bryan comes back from his next deployment. In the meantime, I have a trip to Alaska next week, and a trip to Disney World in June to look forward to. Yup... this summer is shaping up to be filled with lots of photos to keep me busy scrapping through winter! I'll be back in the next couple of days with some Label Tulip sneaks for May! Until then...