Tuesday, December 18, 2018

London before Boxing Day

These pictures may not do it justice, but London can get pretty crowded this time of year. Let's just say although these streets are made for a motor vehicle, there was no way a car was getting through...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Blundstone 500

As we all know, the holidays are fast approaching, and when they come, they always seem to come with haste. We're all rushing to get ready, buy the presents, cook the food, decorate the house, maybe book the flights, etc. Well, for the ladies in your life, I've got one here for you to check off the list, get her a Blundstone boot:

I recently received the Original 500 boot in brown for my birthday and I absolutely love it. It's stylish, it's warm, and it goes with just about anything - jeans, black pants, casual, dressy...

Most recently Blundstone just debuted their Chelsea boot with a heel. Perfect for that "make your work boot, your workday boot" trend that's going on right now. After all, aren't we all just a little bit country deep down?!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My Oyster Plate

Moving isn't always easy, but it's all about looking at things with a glass half full. For example, in follow up to our recent move, instead of stressing about unpacking over 250 boxes, I would look at it like Christmas - there's a surprise in each box!

And speaking of... I recently posted about my friend's Quimper Oyster Plate that I truly love and adore, but in unpacking boxes from our state to state move, I found that I have a really nice one of my own! See, Christmas!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It's almost Thanksgiving!

This time of year the front feature of magazines are covered with delicious, decadent food, but did you know that so many of the foods we call traditional today were not actually featured at the very first Thanksgiving?

So when it comes to the menu, who did and who did not have a seat at the first Thanksgiving table?

Whether they be fried, mashed, roasted, what-have-you, potatoes were actually not present at the original feast in 1621. White potatoes did not make their way to the United States until about 1719 when they were first harvested by Scotch-Irish immigrants in New Hampshire and sweet potatoes would arrive later from the Caribbean.

Pies Anyone?
And our delicious must have pies - pumpkin, pecan, apple - could not have been present at the original feast as there was no version of the modern day oven. This was introduced later around 1735 with Francois de Cuvillies's Castrol stove. And unfortunately the flour and butter needed for any pastry dough or crust were absent. So what did they have for dessert? Word is that the settlers became creative, scooping out pumpkin gourds and filling them with milk, honey, and spices, and roasting them to make a nice, warm custard. Sounds delish!

A Turkey Tom? Gobble Gobble
Yes, there is good news, there was turkey, rejoice! (or at least various fowl were served, which legitimizes the use of our present day main dish)

Cranberries, and da sauce
Were there cranberries? For sure. But was there cranberry sauce? Ehhh, probably not. Records indicate that it wasn't until about fifty years later that an Englishman came up with the concept of boiling the cranberries to make a complimentary sauce for their fowl.

And what about that stuffing?
Yes, they did stuff their bird(s). But the common bread stuffing we use today was not the stuffing of the pilgrims. Without bread, their stuffing comprised mostly of herbs and vegetables, namely onions.

Such deep roots...
No, there weren't potatoes, but there were indeed many other root vegetables available, grown, and harvested at the time such as carrots, onions, garlic, and turnips. These were fire roasted and celebrated.

Was corn present and abundant? Absolutely. But it was typically cut and crushed into a cornmeal and served more as a mushy corn or porridge. The concept of eating corn off the cob was not yet in play.

And seafood??
Yes, seafood. It was readily available! So if you feel like adding lobster, clams, oysters, or mussels to your Thanksgiving meal - totally justified. You are only paying homage to the first Thanksgiving feast...

Information courtesy of the History Channel and the Smithsonian Museum

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pepe's in New Haven

It's been six years since our last visit to Pepe's, and while a lot has changed in my life in that time, I can happily say that at Pepe's nothing has changed. And that's just the way folks like it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Vest // Jacket // BOTH

I opened this email and all I could think was, "It's about time!" Way to go Lilly, love it.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Pear Tartlet

I am so excited that our new house has a matured and producing pear tree! But the only question was... when are they ready?! Pick them after the first one falls to the ground, I was told. That is to mitigate any bees arriving on scene. And to ensure they are indeed ripe, grab each pear on the tree and lift it to a ninety degree angle. If it falls right off into the palm of your hand, they're ready!

So I saw one on the ground, and we went running! Indeed, we tilted them to the side and they fell right off. It was so exciting! But a few bushels later, my next question was - now what do I do with all of these? Of course we cut into a few right away, but then we had to get creative... so while I had never had it before, or maybe even heard of it before, I decided to try to make a Pear Tartlet!

The steps were simple, I followed the same pie crust recipe and fruit cooking technique that I do for my Homemade Apple Pie. Both work like a charm!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monarch Butterflies

Each Fall the Monarch butterflies snowbird from Canada and the Northern U.S. to the Southern U.S. and Mexico. On average the last ten years have seen a steady decline in the Monarch population and thus many conservation efforts have been implemented to sustain this beautiful influx of orange, black, and white.

One year during the first week of Spring our neighborhood planted milkweed seeds in anticipation of the annual migration of the Monarch Butterflies. And well, six months later... here it is!

Images courtesy of National Geographic

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Quimper Oyster Plate

My friend has this one of a kind and I absolutely love it:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cupcakes in a Cone

Pinterest wasn't around when I was growing up, yet somehow my mom always found a way to make things extra special. And of course birthdays were no exception - they were above and beyond.

I remember the special cupcake cones we brought to school one year. I felt so cool and unique and it was the great start to the school year with a September birthday.

Fast forward a few decades and here I am with a son with a summer birthday. And in the summer, especially in the south, it is hot. Everything melts, and you mostly want things that melt. So what do you do for a birthday of an ice cream cone loving boy without all of the mess of melted ice cream?


It's so simple. Here's what you do...

Buy a cake mix box and the corresponding ingredients. Preheat the oven to the recommended temperature and make the batter. Fill a cupcake tray with sugar cones and fill the cones with batter, about a 1/4 inch short of the top. Bake as recommended, and test with a toothpick (when the toothpick comes out dry, the batter is fully baked). Let cool and then generously frost the top and add sprinkles or whatever toppings you desire. Delicious!

And to make these even more spectacular, follow this amazing (super easy!) frosting recipe that is sure to please:

Homemade Frosting

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
Optional: Food coloring

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and beat on medium to high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks (5-10 minutes). That's it!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Clam Stuffies Recipe

Many moons ago my husband and I took a trip through Essex, CT and stopped for dinner at the Black Seal. Everything on the menu sounded amazing, including the house specialty, Baked Stuffed Clams. "You have to try them," I recall our waiter saying. And we really didn't need much convincing...

Although there was only one problem... once you try them, you need them. Cravings for Baked Stuffed Clams, also known as Clam Stuffies, hit hard and don't dissipate until satisfied. But the good news is - making them at home is actually quite easy!

6 large or 12 small clams, cleaned and rinsed
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick)
3 Tbsp minced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon (large wedge) squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp clam juice (store bought or from the cooking liquid)
1 tsp dried parsley
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese

1. Steam the clams in boiling water for 8-15 minutes (depending on size), until the shells pop open. Discard any shells that don't.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the onion. Cook for about 8 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.

4. Remove the clams from their shells and mince the clam into small pieces. 

5. Clean, rinse and wipe the clam shells with paper towels. Place them on a cooking tray.

6. Add the lemon juice, clam juice, parsley and bread crumbs to the sauce pan and combine all of the ingredients together. 

7. Gently fold in the clam meat, and then stuff the stuffing into the clam shells using a spoon. *

8. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

* Optional step to add some grated parmesan cheese inside the clam shells on top of the stuffing for some extra flavor boost.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Ocean at Seaside

It's almost summer time, which has me dreaming about the beautiful ocean of Seaside, FLA 30A.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Using a Tortilla Press

Homemade Tortillas are super fun and super easy!

To start, you'll need Corn Masa, which can be found at most grocery stores. Follow the recipe on the packaging, 2 cups Corn Masa and 1 1/2 cups of water.

Line a tortilla press with a long strip of plastic wrap, enough to cover both the top lid and the bottom lid of the press. This is so that the dough doesn't stick to the press.

Take a ball of dough in your palm (anywhere from a golf ball size to a tennis ball, depending on how big you want your tortilla) and place it in the press. *

Using the handle, bring the sides of the press together to flatten the dough. And voila!

Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook the tortilla on both sides for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned.

Have fun, and let the kids participate! They really do like to eat what they help to make...

* This is the one tricky part - I've learned that it's best to place to ball closer to the inside of the press, since it will flatten out away from where the press comes together.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Arts & Craft Design at Grove Park Inn

"Boys, we're going into the mountains."

Nestled in the mountains, The Grove Park Inn was built in 1913 with only the use of mules, wagons, and ropes. Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week to finish the hotel in the promised one year timeline. And build it they did!

At the turn of the 20th century, the design world had been ready for a shift from the heavily ornamented Victorian style. The Industrial Revolution had allowed entrepreneurs to mass produce the popular Victorian style furniture and furnishings, dominating the interior of many households. As such interior designers were looking for a change, grieving the loss of a unique, one-of-a-kind craftsman style... So hello, "Arts and Crafts" movement!

Thus, back to the Grove Park Inn, the epitome of Arts and Crafts design. With its granite boulders, both inside and out, and its red clay tile roof, the Grove Park Inn is uniquely distinct in its wonder and glory (not to the mention the Blue Ridge mountain views). The interior features many Roycroft and other popular craftsman-like furnishings and fixtures.

The hotel was branded for its founder, a man that went by the name of E. W. Grove. Who was this man Grove? Well, in the late 1890’s Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, the pharmacist's experimental drink dubbed to prevent malaria, was a common household item, selling more bottles than Coca-Cola. Grove's tonic may not have outlasted the times, but his hotel surely has, attracting well known names over the years, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Rockefellers, and a double digit list of past Presidents.

Visiting one of the historic hotels of America has not led us wrong to date, and The Grove Park Inn located in Asheville, N
orth Carolina is another amazing stay to add to the list.

*** Images courtesy of The Grove Park Inn ***

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hot Baked Bread in the Comfort of your Home

Bloggers like to follow blogs. And sometimes another blog gets it so right that you just have to re-blog. Well, here I am again, posting a post on an awesome, amazing, and easy homemade bread recipe! Trust me ya'll, it's worth every last bite...

Take the same, simple recipe for pizza dough.

Form a ball, then lightly tuck under the sides. Use flour sparingly to prevent sticking.

Knife the top in your favorite decoration - slits and tic-tac-toe seem to be most commonly popular.

Preheat the oven to 475.

Cook for 30 minutes.

Beautiful!!! And delicious...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Winter Pizza

The January 2018 edition of Southern Living Magazine had a great recipe for a winter pizza. It's a sausage and kale pesto pizza - simple, flavorful, and foolproof. And aside from the perfect ingredients, it is cooked in a cast-iron skillet, providing for the perfect wintry deep dish, crispy crust.

Pizza Dough (at room temperature)
8 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
4 Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped kale leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 garlic cloves
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, until browned. While cooking, break the sausage into small bite-sized pieces. Add the onions and sauté until tender and slightly browned. Remove from heat.

3. Make the kale pesto - in a food processor, combine the kale, basil, 2 Tbsp. of EVOO, garlic cloves, and Parmesan. Process until mostly smooth, or the desired consistency.

4. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. of EVOO and swirl to coat the pan. 

5. Stretch the dough and carefully place into the hot skillet, pressing on the bottom and sides. Cook over medium to high heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the dough wants to start to bubble.

6. Quickly spread the kale pesto evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top with mozzarella, sausage, and onions. Sprinkle the crushed red pepper over the toppings. Lastly, brush the edges of the crust with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of EVOO. 

7. Place the pizza in the oven until cooked (cheese melted, crust browned), about 12 - 15 minutes.