Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Fantasticks

This afternoon, our homeschool teen/tween group went to see the musical The Fantasticks. Brooke chose not to go, but preferred to spend some quality time with her Aunt Connie. So Morgan and I drove over an hour to a quaint little playhouse north of a small suburban area outside of New Orleans.

The playhouse was more than a mile down a gravel road, with woods of pine trees and magnolias closing in upon us and perhaps only four or five homes in the area. It was an odd location for a theatre, but such a lovely one.

Here's Morgan and her friend, Z, in front of the theatre. Does this LOOK like it's in front of a theatre? I loved it! A charming little venue nestled in the woods. I want to move here!!!

We thoroughly enjoyed the play. I had actually never heard of The Fantasticks before and our family adores musicals. It's "The World's Longest Running Musical" and is entering it's fifth decade. The elderly actor who played "Henry" was absolutely hilarious! Even though he was a minor character (well, not too minor - there are only 9 actors in the whole production), he was definitely my favorite!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Weird Cats

We have very weird animals. All of them are pretty weird. But when I saw this today, I thought Libby must take the cake.

Do you see what she is eating? Black olives. And not just any black olives. No, not this cat. It's only imported Kalamata olives for her.

Weird, weird, weird.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

International Supper Night

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday and we decided to have an international feast for the occasion. Connie chose recipes with a Mediterranean flair - hummus and Greek feta and chicken salad. Connie makes a yummy hummus.

Susan was Miss Spain. She made paella. Yum! And her boyfriend made a traditional Latin American Tres Leches cake. No pictures (the hummus is a stock photo) because it is so dark at my MIL's house and photos NEVER come out well.

I was France. I made ratatouille, a traditional peasant dish from Nice. Originally, the dish did not include eggplant, because it wasn't in season at the same time as the zucchini and peppers and tomatoes, but it has since become traditional to add eggplant. I use a Moosewood recipe and it is yummy.

Moosewood Cookbook's Ratatouille

3 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic
2 cups chopped onion
1 bay leaf

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add garlic, onion, and bay leaf and saute' over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

1 medium eggplant, cubed (I salt mine and let it drain in a colander for about 20 minutes to degorge the eggplant to remove the bitterness, then a rinse it well)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp basil

1 tsp marjoram or oregano (I use oregano)

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp thyme

Add eggplant, salt, and herbs, and stir. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until eggplant is soft.

Add 1 medium zucchini, cubed, 2 medium bell peppers, in strips (I use red and yellow, as they are sweeter), 1 14-oz can of tomatoes, and black pepper to taste. (Break tomatoes into smaller pieces with a spoon.) Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until zucchini and bell peppers are tender.

Top with fresh minced parsley.

I should have taken a picture of this after it was cooked, but it was hot and I was hungry. :^) We usually serve this over couscous, but we didn't tonight because we already had rice in the paella. Didn't want to be too starchy!

My 14-year-old nephew kept calling the ratatouille "goo-lah-lou" and we kept laughing at him. He said whatever it was called, he liked it and he ate quite a bit!

Everything was delicious tonight and it was a wonderful family time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall Pages

I was in the mood to scrapbook some fall pages, so I pulled out our homeschool group's field trip to a nearby corn maze two years ago. The title is cut from extra pictures of the corn field.

Corn Maze page recipe: Cardstock: Ruby Red, Kraft, More Mustard, Confetti Cream, brown mulberry paper. Inks: Ruby Red, Chocolate Chip, More Mustard. Stamp Sets: Shapes and Shadows, Newsprint and Rough Edges alphabets. Accessories: Brass brads, Simon Lower chipboard alphabet used as template for title letters.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Whatcha Looking At, Poodles?

After church today, we went to eat Lebanese with friends, then went to the new Petco that opened in our town, then (much to our daughters' disappointment) milled around in Home Depot before finally heading home to change, then going to the barn to take care of the horses. Because we were so full from our late lunch, we decided to snack on left-overs and watch a movie, Miss Potter.

While trying to get the movie going, the dogs needed to be photographed. They were just so cute. Abrial is looking at me, but Cosette's attention was elsewhere.

Abrial quickly lost interest in posing for the camera and her attention was elsewhere. What in the world are you two looking at?

Ah ha. You're wanting Morgan to share her pita bread and French fries! I see now!

By the way, Miss Potter was adorable. I'm glad we got this one!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Bad Blogger

I've gotten quite behind on my blogging. Shame on me.

:::raising right hand:::

I, Ginger, promise to be more faithful with my blogging.

There. I feel better now.

Last Saturday, Brooke spent the night with a friend, leaving Queen Libby to fend for herself with just us lowly peasants for company. For whatever reason, she likes the broken arm of our sofa. (Steve thought it would be a good place to stand while changing a light bulb. It wasn't.)

I love how her little toes were all curled. She looks so sweet. Looks can be deceiving!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Sunday Horse Show

This morning was the first we could actually describe as COOL!!! The temperatures were in the mid 60's when we got up and I knew it'd be a perfect day for a horse show! And I was right! Brooke did very well, placing second in poles and third in barrels and amassing enough points to move her up in both classes. She is now seven points out of first place overall in poles and her goal is to do get first place and win the saddle. Here are some action shots from the day. Not the best photos - the dark arena and bright sunshine surrounding makes for difficult picture taking. And she was moving fast - even with changing the settings, I have a hard time getting her in focus.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Trying the Fizz Again

I tried the Cran-Raspberry Fizz recipe again, this time with cranberry juice instead of the concentrate and water. It looked pretty, but the one I did yesterday with the limeade concentrate tasted better, I think. Still, I enjoyed it out on the swing with my book. The weather is FINALLY lovely and I smell fall in the air! A treat for those of us in the deep south who have still been sweltering with temperatures in the high 90's.

Friday, September 14, 2007

September Hostess Club

Tonight was Hostess Club night and it was my month to be hostess. I am so sorry to say that things got crazy and I got very few pictures of the food. But it was all delicious! Try these recipes. Today. I promise you will not be sorry.

We started with a corruption of Pampered Chef's Fall/Winter 2007 Season's Best Recipes Cran-Raspberry Fizz. I'll put down the way it was SUPPOSED to go and then what I did.

4 limes, divided
1 can (12 ounces) frozen cranberry juice concentrate
3 cups cold water
1 pint raspberry sorbet, softened
2 liters (8 cups) chilled ginger ale

Slice two of the limes and set aside. Pour cranberry juice concentrate and water into a gallon sized pitcher.

Juice remaining limes into pitcher. Scoop sorbet into pitcher; combine. Add ginger ale and lime slices. Mix well. Serve over ice.

Okay, I went to two different stores in town and nowhere could I find frozen cranberry juice concentrate. I guess the rednecks around here don't drink it. (Kidding - I like rednecks. Really.) So I omitted the limes and lime juice and substituted limeade concentrate. I don't know what it was supposed to taste like, but it was delicious!!! I did pick up some 100% cranberry juice and I'll make another half-batch tomorrow with that instead of the concentrate and the water. My guess is that it won't be as good, but we'll see. At the least, I might could get a pretty picture. :^)
Then we had tortilla chips with guacamole (made completely by Morgan, who did a bang-up job, I tell ya) and black bean and corn salsa.

Connie's Best Guacamole You'll Ever Eat So Make Some Right Now

2 ripe avocados
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. jalapenos chili, minced
4 tsp. lime juice
1/2 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in other ingredients. May be made two hours in advance if surface of guacamole is covered with plastic wrap. Yields: 2 cups.

While Morgan did almost every single thing for the guacamole, the one thing she didn't do was seed and chop the jalapenos chili. A friend had arrived early for Hostess Club, just in time to see me have an episode of laryngospasm from the chili. In case you are wondering what a laryngospasm sounds like, you can click here for a little movie. It really freaks people out when I have one. It is quite embarrassing, but it's also very scary. Thankfully my children know to immediately bring me a glass of something to drink, as the act of drinking helps to relax the spasm. Chopping chilies ALWAYS brings on an episode. So I try to chop a couple at one time and keep it in the freezer for easy, spasm-free guacamole making.

Alas, I have no pictures of the guacamole. It disappeared. I think there was something in the air. :^D

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels, cooked and cooled ( or frozen) (I used canned)
1 large red bell pepper, trimmed and diced
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, corn syrup, oil, salt and pepper. Add the onion and black beans.

Cook the corn kernels in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the kernels with a slotted spoon and plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and add to the onion mixture. Or use canned and skip this step.

Add the red pepper to the onion mixture along with the parsley. Toss well. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Enchilada Ring

This is an AWESOME dish. I made two and they BOTH disappeared. One is supposed to serve 16. I had 14 people here and this is what is left.....

2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken (about 12 oz) (I bought a rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup chopped pitted ripe olives (I like sliced)

1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend

1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, undrained

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp Pampered Chef Southwestern Seasoning Mix

2 plum tomatoes

1 lime

2/3 cup finely crushed corn tortilla chips, divided

2 packages (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls (I used low-fat - like it really mattered)

1 cup salsa

1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Chop chicken and olives (I left mine sliced). Place in a large bowl. Add cheese, green chilies, mayo, and seasoning mix.

Seed and chop 1 tomato. Slice lime in half. Juice one half of the lime to measure 1 tsp of juice. Reserve remaining lime for garnish (did NOT do this). Add chopped tomato and lime juice to chicken mixture.

Reserve 2 tbsp. crushed chips; add remaining chips to chicken mixture and mix well.

Sprinkle reserved chips over large cutting board. Unroll crescent dough. Place dough, sticky side down, onto chips; press lightly so chips adhere to dough. Separate dough into triangles. Arrange triangles, chip side down, in a circle on a large pizza stone with wide ends overlapping in the center and points toward outside. (There should be a 5" diameter opening in the center. Please don't measure this.) Using a medium sized scoop, scoop chicken mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle. Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of the ring. (All of the filling will not be covered by dough. That's okay. And it won't be nicely spaced like the pictures in the Pampered Chef cookbook, either. But it'll taste delicious.) Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

For garnish (muhahahahaha....garnish, yeah, right), cut remaining tomato into 8 wedges. Cut remaining half of lime into 4 slices; cut in half. Arrange between openings of ring. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Yield: 16 servings (or 7 ravenous wolves)


(Otherwise known as Warm Nutty Caramel Brownies)

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided

1 package (18-21 oz) brownie mix (plus ingredients to make cake-like brownies)

3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided

1 cup salted mixed nuts, divided

5 rolls (1.7 oz each) milk chocolate-covered chewy caramels (otherwise known as Rollos), divided - 40 pieces total

Vanilla ice cream, optional (this is really not optional and you must get Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla)

Preheat oven to 375° (same as for the enchilada ring - how convenient). Lightly brush large stoneware bar pan (or other 15.5 x 10 x 1 pan, but you really do need to get a PC stone one - call your PC lady immediately) with oil. Chop 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate morsels. (I'm going to interject something here - my bag of morsels was 12 ounces, yet measured 1 1/2 cups. You are supposed to have 1/2 cup of morsels remaining for topping. I didn't and was sorely disappointed. Please make sure you have 1/2 cup remaining or buy two bags - you can always eat the rest of the chips on a bad day.) In a bowl, combine brownie mix, water, oil, eggs, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar; mix well. Fold in chopped chocolate. Pour batter into bar pan, spreading evenly.

Chop nuts. Combine half of the nuts and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar; sprinkle evenly over brownie batter. Bake 20-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cut 16 caramels into quarters. Place remaining 1/2 cup chocolate morsels (see, I told you that you'd need them) in a small bowl and melt in microwave. Spoon melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and set aside.

Remove bar pan from oven and IMMEDIATELY press remaining 24 Rollos into the brownie in four rows of six caramels each. Sprinkle quartered caramels and remaining nuts over brownies. Trim corner of chocolate filled bag and drizzle chocolate over brownies. Cut into squares and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: 24 servings

Now, after we ate all of that and rolled ourselves away from the table, we were still able to scrapbook! Here's our project for this month. It was a back to school page. Because I rarely take back to school pictures (or, in our case, NOT back to school pictures), I was really searching. I pulled out Steve's pictures from nursing school and thought they'd be perfect!

Wow - the colors really didn't come out well in this picture. So sorry. I used a strip of striped paper from a retired Simply Scrappin' kit and used the Stampin' Up! spiral punch along one side to make it look like it was torn from a notebook. See...

We also used various size square punches for custom photo corners. And we used our round tab punch for a little date tab to attach to the photo.

Yes, that date says 1993. Even though I probably have 16 scrapbooks, I'm still extremely behind. (Each of my kids has his/her own set of scrapbooks with duplicate pages to the ones in my books.)

Back 2 School Page Recipe - Cardstock: Buckaroo Blue, Mellow Moss, Cranberry Crisp, Marigold Morning. Ink: Cranberry Crisp and Marigold Morning Classic, Basic Black Craft. Accessories: Cranberry stitched ribbon, assorted punches.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Problem with Paparazzi

The trouble when you're a good looking fellow is being constantly stalked by the paparazzi. Here is young Hairy Woodpecker, out without his parents for the first time. He thought he could practice his pecking skills on this little branch....alone.....but, NO! Here comes this Blue-Eyed Girl. Hairy thought she wanted to strike up a conversation, perhaps build a friendly relationship, but then he saw it. The Camera. She brought it out and took shot after shot after shot.

He tried to get away, but where ever he went, that Blue-Eyed Girl with The Camera was there, just snapping away. He tried hiding.

He turned his back on her.

He even gave her the Evil Eye.

All to no avail. She kept snapping shot after shot. He finally just started yelling and screaming and finally she went away.....

.....and started stalking Ruby Hummingbird instead.

All photos taken by Brooke, the wildlife stalker photographer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Horse

No, we didn't buy a new horse. He's just a new horse that Brooke is working with. His name is Suede and he's a pretty boy. His mom had a baby a few months ago and sees that she is just not going to have the time to ride him anymore (surprise), so she is going to have to sell him. But he hasn't been ridden in at least a year. His mom has asked Brooke to work with him and get him ride-able again.

We went to the barn today and Brooke and Suede practiced lunging. Lunging a horse is the process where you stand while you have your horse lope or trot, or even walk, around you in a circle. It can be used simply for exercise or for a training and fine-tuning tool. It can really help to develop a good relationship between you and your horse, and to help you work together when you're up on his back instead of on the ground, as well. I never knew anything about lunging horses before we got ours.

Since Suede hasn't been worked with in a very long time, he didn't remember how to lunge. But Brooke worked with him and he started to remember. (Don't be worried when you see that long "whip" looking thing in Brooke's hand - it's not to hit the horse with - it's waved behind the horse to encourage him to go forward.)

The most important thing that happened today was that Suede got to know Brooke a little better, besides her being the giver of horse treats and hay and nice scratchy brushings. She let him know that she was going to be the boss of this relationship. He decided after a while that she would be a nice boss.

So.....anyone in the market for a sweet, pretty horse?

Red Hots!!!

Today my blog prize from Apheimi's Blog-Candy-Give-Away arrived!!! My picture isn't nearly as photogenic as the one she had on her blog. So sorry. But the bracelet is absolutely beautiful! She has some gorgeous jewelry - you can find it on her blog or on her jewelry website. And would someone tell Steve that I would LOVE to find that little beach-glass bracelet on the main page in my Christmas stocking this year. :^)
Thanks, Patricia! You made my Monday!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Visit with Joshua

Today we drove to Gulfport, Mississippi to visit with Joshua.

This was the first chance we've had to see him since his graduation last month.

Joshua is currently at his Navy "A" school in Gulfport - Seabee training.

We went to the beach......

...and met a new New Orleans Saints fan, enjoying the sunny day at the beach. She told us she was a Saints fan. My brother is a Saints fan also, so they had lots to talk about. (Okay, okay, the collar and leash gave it away.)

My big boy went jet-skiing. (No, not Steve.) Freddie went with him - hat, jeans, and tennis shoes. :::sigh::: Boys.

Brooke and Freddie are only three months apart. Brooke is older. They tend to squabble like brother and sister.

But sometimes Brooke tries to be sweet. Freddie is thinking, "HELP!!!"

My beautiful girl.

My other beautiful girl.

Steve rented the beach chairs and promptly fell asleep. Here I am trying to bother him. I'm such a mean wife. Heeheehee! father, like daughter. WAKE UP, YOU GUYS!!!!

We rarely get over to the Gulfport/Biloxi, even though it is just 30 minutes from my dad's house. This was our first trip since Hurricane Katrina. Most of the area was damaged or destroyed by the hurricane and, although it has been two years, the devastation is still very evident.

There were empty slabs or concrete steps in the middle of nothing else. Some of them had small campers on the land where the residents were living while trying to slowly rebuild their lives. But other places were just piles of rubble. It was very sobering.

This house evidently made it through the hurricane, but they put up a sign to show where the water was. Wow! Can you see the sign at the roofline? This house was a few blocks inland. The flooding was even worse near the beach - and the storm surge was 20' or more. Almost all of the boardwalks and piers have been washed away. Morgan kept finding bits of lumber or shingles in the water while we were at the beach.

Then we went to the Biloxi Katrina Memorial.

It's as high as the tide surge - 12 feet.

In the glass case were all sorts of memorabilia from people who live here. It was very sad.

The curving wall has this mosaic wave that is very beautiful, but it definitely reminds you of the power that was unleashed on this coastal community.

This is another view of the memorial.

Then we left and had a pretty quick dinner. Joshua needed to be back at 1900 hours (that's 7:00 to you and me). We had a wonderful day. I can't wait to see him again soon!