Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Fountain and Chicago!

You may have guessed that Eric and I were out of town again due to the lack of posts.  You would be correct.

Perhaps, you're guessing by the title of my post that the M's latest family jaunt was to the windy city.  You would be wrong. 

Last Tuesday the gals and I went for show #2 at the Muny, Chicago!

Beforehand we went to a really neat little restaurant called The Fountain on Locust. It's a retro place with tons of fancy ice cream specialties, many of the adult-only variety. 

Mary Beth and Myronna were curious about "The World's Smallest Ice Cream Cone."  It was no joke!

I had to try the pretzel cone and it didn't disappoint.  Check out The Fountain on Locust's website.  We gave the restaurant six thumbs up!

As for Chicago! we had a great time.  This was my first time ever seeing the production and the dancing and music were great!  We also had a very pleasant evening weather-wise before all the crazy 100-degree temps set in. 

Psssssssssst! Stay tuned for an update on our latest trip :0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Log Roll

Something's been really bothering me about the backyard patio for sometime now (other than the over grown bushes and birdbath stand that has no top.)  Take a guess.
If you thought log pile in the landscaping, you guessed correctly! 

We cut a tree down a couple years ago and kept the wood thinking there'd be quite a few fires in our future. 

Total fire count: 1.
So on Saturday afternoon, the mister and I relocated the logs to a more suitable log keeping residence.

Jozie didn't help much, but she enjoyed running back and forth with us.
Now the logs are living near the back fence.  Much better! (Please excuse my spray paint marks.)
Our landscaping looks much better too.  It still has a long way to go, but it's a vast improvement.
I'm not sure if the shepard's hook and bird bath will stay there or not, but I'm so glad the logs took up residence somewhere else!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Call Me Martha

This is not a cooking blog. 

But today it is.

Last Friday I was out of jelly.  I noticed this 3.409809 seconds after returning home from Aldi.  Fail.

Rather than drive 10 minutes to get one item and armed with my newly purchased mason jars (for charming, summery drinking glasses, of course!), Rachel Ray's recipe for canning/jam, and two pounds of $0.99 strawberries, I decided I would give it a whirl.

Rachel Ray's Steps for 1st Time Canning- Strawberry Jam

Step 1: Wash mason jars in hot soapy water (or run them through the dishwasher if time allows.)

Step 2: Rinse and hull 2 pounds of strawberries and fill a large pot of water.  You will boil your jars in this pot to sterilize them.  (If you have a canning rack, use it.  I didn't and found I didn't need it.)

Step 3: Place jars and lids in the water and bring to a simmer.  Keep them in simmering water for at least 10 minutes.  Jars must remain hot until you're ready to fill them.

Step 4: In a nonreactive pot, add strawberries, zest from one lemon, and about 1 tbsp of lemon juice over high heat, stirring and mashing constantly. 

Step 5: Stir in 1 packet of fruit pectin (I used the low sugar variety) and bring mixture to a rolling boil.  Add 1 cup of sugar until the mixture thickens and darkens in color, about 20 minutes. 

*I used 1/2 cup sugar because I thought 1 cup was a lot.*

Step 6: Use a pair of tongs to lift jars and lids out of the hot water and set on a clean towel.  Ladle jam into the sterilized jar, leaving 1/4 for head space.  Seal.  Allow jam to cool for 12 hours.

Now here's where I stopped.  However, if you planned to store your jam (i.e. not eat it right away) you'd need to put the sealed jars back into the pot of simmering water for another 10 minutes.  This ensures that it won't spoil when sitting on your cabinet shelf.

After checking with some experts in the field of canning, I found that if the jam would be residing in the fridge for us to eat right away, I could skip this step.

From start to finish, this recipe took approximately an hour, but required 12 hours of cooling time.  It made one pint size jar of jam and it tastes great!

So there you have it. Jam making was a relatively painless process and I have the added benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients are in our food!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's A Bird! It's A Plane...

It's summertime haircut Jozie!  It's patriotic Jozie! 

It's time for her owner to get another hobby. Ha ha!

Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Post Comments To The Blog

*Psst I'll be posting twice today*

I've had several people tell me that they've tried to leave a comment on the blog, but it didn't work.  I tried it myself after signing out (so it doesn't recognize me as a member) and here's how:

STEP 1:  Click on the "comments" link as shown below (you find this at the end of my posts.)

STEP 4: In the boxes provided (as seen below) write your name-no URL necessary-and click continue.
Edit profile

Then you should be able to leave your comment.  That's all it takes!  Happy commenting :0)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Born in the USA!

There's something new living in the man cave.  Can you spot it?

Take a closer look...

Yep there it is! I was looking around on the Joss and Main website and both Eric and I thought this was fun.

Difficult though it may be to see, it has tiny landmarks and pictures of things that states are famous for.  Look here at the Midwest!

Happy Thursday!  Someone, cough cough Jozie cough cough, is getting her haircut today!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thoroughly Modern

Happy first day of summer! 

Last night I had the pleasure of joining some lovely ladies for an outdoor production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.  None of us had actually ever seen it before and it definitely didn't disappoint.  The dancing was phenomenal (tap, my FAVORITE!) and the character Ms. Meers was hilarious!  We'll actually be gathering every Tuesday evening to see some great shows.  Next up, Chicago!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Porch Spiffing

Before heading down to New Orleans last week I switched up a couple things on the porch.  It went from this:

To this (on the opposite side):

I like this better because it doesn't feel as bridal to me.  Very relaxing.

The shelves also got de-cluttered a bit going from this:

to this:

I buy ferns every year and usually I hang them (and they inevitably die) so I'm hoping that by being in pots, the transition indoors will help me keep them alive easily. 

I'm An Aunt...Again!

One of the many things I love about being married to Eric is that he comes from a huge family (one of six siblings!)  Since being an aunt isn't likely to happen any time soon on my side (although I'm pretty sure my mom would take whatever she can get at this point) I'm so very blessed to be able  to share in aunthood (auntliness?) on his side.

With the newest bebe being born Tuesday June 12, there are six kiddos altogether.  Four nieces.  Two nephews.  Wow!

First up was Caroline, next was Lucy, and then Betsy.

Then along came Henry and Sam.

And now introducing Grace!

Welcome to the world bebe Grace!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Orleans

Just got back from New Orleans, Louisiana and wowzers did we have a great time!  Everything from the company, sites, and of course the food was just amazing.


We left at the butt crack of dawn on Tuesday morning (not kidding-we were out the door by 3:30 am) and took two flights, reaching New Orleans around 3 in the afternoon.  After our gracious hosts picked us up from the airport, we hit the ground runnin' and didn't stop until 2 in the morning!

Poor Eric was the only guy whose suit didn't work out.  Hard to see but the pants were WAY too short.  On the plus side, Erin and I got to help a nice old guy pick out ties for his new suits while we waited.

This was the first place we went to eat, Mulate's.  Erin's family made a reservation for all the folks in town for the wedding and this was just the place for getting to know everyone.  They had tons of Cajun food and live music. 

This is a muffaletta which is kinda like a Cuban sandwich.  If you're interested in checking it out, here's Mulate's website.  It was a fun place to be with a group of friends and families with small kiddos.

This was quite refreshing ;0)

Up next, Erin graciously invited me to come along to her bachelorette party on Bourbon Street, which was walkable from our hotel.  I had a blast hanging out with her sisters, cousins, mom, and even grandma!

The bull wasn't very kind to Erin but she held on like a champ!

She totally had it until they shot her with a fire extinguisher.

Fancy meeting them out and about!  I'm so sad this is dark because it would have been great!  That's my husband waving and having a blast with the boy King/Soligo clan.

Erin and her bridesmaids up on a balcony.  Aren't the shirts adorable?  (Eric passed later and made me throw him some beads. LOL.)

I'm pretty sure these guys were babies (young, that is) but they were from Scotland and LOVED Erin.

Our last stop of the evening was a gay bar hosting a male booty contest.  Can't say I've ever seen anything like that before!  The host(ess) brought Erin up on stage and even acknowledged her grandma.


I think everyone dragged themselves to breakfast at the last minute because we saw EVERYONE there.

We were craving some history (and beignets!) so we set out for some site-seeing.

The day began down by the River Walk.  (I felt the need to see the Mississippi in a different light-ha!)

Next Eric felt the need to show me a little shop that had tons of airplane and old-time stuff.  I saw this and knew that my future baby needs this, even if it is a couple years in the making.

I also thought, "I bet my Aunt Kay could make this!"  especially if it needs to say "fly girl" instead.

It was borderline creepy how much the little boy looks like Eric as
a child. Just change it to airplanes and I'd swear it was!

More river.  Next time we go to New Orleans, I think I might like to try a steam boat cruise.  They were very reasonable when we checked into it, only $38 per person for 2 hours including lunch.

Next up was the French Quarter, starting with Cafe du Monde.  Priorities people!

I dreamt of beignets for days before this trip and they didn't disappoint!


I also got a cafe au lait. Mmmmm it was good.  Poor Brett, I don't think he felt so good that morning.

Jackson Square.  New Orleans loves Andrew Jackson.  The statue is there in remembrance of the Battle of New Orleans (which we later found out later on our tour should never technically have happened.)

The beautiful St. Louis Cathedral.  It's just as breathtaking on the inside as out.

Up next was the French Market.  They had tons of fresh vegetables, Cajun cuisine, and little trinkets to buy.




Still creeped out from Eric's mask.

In the afternoon hours, we took a carriage ride tour of the French Quarter (based on the recommendations of our family-GREAT choice!)


Charlie the tour guide was formerly a chef, so our tour was heavy on culinary history and great restaurants to visit in New Orleans, which was definitely OK by me!

Our mule was Herman and he did a great job because it was HOT!

Here's Chris with Herman's cousin, possibly Wilbur?

Our carriage ride crew!

New Orleans is such a charming city and I credit it largely to all the balconies with lush greenery.  We learned on our tour that the balconies with poles underneath are influenced by Spanish architecture.  Balconies without the poles are French and actually called galleries.

It does exist! Shrimp grits, shrimp salad, shrimp....

Here's one of Emeril's restaurants! Sorry for the blur, Herman must have been in a hurry!

Apparently, Lafitte's was never actually a blacksmith shop.  These people were pirates, but much like Robin Hood, they stole from the rich to give to the poor and helped Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans. 

This is also the oldest bar still in service in the United States.  They have delicious hurricanes!

Eric even liked them!

Chris liked this.  Back in the day, a doctor from Kentucky built his homesick wife (who was from Iowa) a house with a cornstalk gate to remind her of home.


Back to the hotel for the rehearsal dinner!

Boys with their new flasks, compliments of Shane.  The food at the rehearsal was awesome with lots of New Orleans specialties like red beans and rice, sausage and chicken gumbo, etc. 

That evening we went back out for a much tamer Bourbon Street experience.

DAY 3-Wedding Day!

We spent the morning and early afternoon with the groom and friends that went to college with Eric for a little more site seeing and a little oyster eating.

This is at Deanie's Seafood Restaurant.  Most of us didn't think we could handle the raw variety so we opted for charbroiled.  I'd never eaten oysters so Eric (and Dave) chronicled my tasting.

Not bad (even though it looks like I hated it!)

Always the funny guy.

Group shot!

And then it was wedding time!

Our hotel was the perfect backdrop for some pre-wedding, southern, dude pictures.  Isn't the little guy in the hat cute?!  Proud to say I staged and took these!

My handsome date.

Poor Eric, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  Ha ha.

WARNING! You are about to see wedding photos that will make you wish you got a wedding do-over.  It was hands down the most beautiful wedding I've ever been to and chock full of Southern charm! 

The wedding took place at Southern Oaks Plantation.  (Make sure you watch the intro video.  It's way better at painting the picture than my pictures could ever be.)

Doesn't she look just like a Southern Belle?!

My favorite part of weddings-the "I Do's." *Tear*

Like I said, a total fairy tale wedding!

From the minute we stepped in the doors for the reception, waiters were constantly coming up to us with trays of craw fish beignets, cheese quiches, seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, jambalaya, shrimp and corn chowder, catfish/shrimp po'boys, fried name the New Orleans fare and they had it! I'm still having dreams about the food.

And trust me, it was just as beautiful inside as it was outside!

They also took part in a New Orleans (Louisiana? Southern?) custom of parading around with umbrellas and masks.  Such a neat memory to have!

The wedding and trip were so much fun!  I have loads of great memories and met some wonderful people along the way.  Cheers to Erin and Shane!  Have fun in Costa Rica!