Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beaver Dam Blueberry Pie

I took another vacation. Well kind of a vacation... we were visiting family in Pennsylvania. Does visiting family count as a vacation? I'm not sure either! Any who, my Grandmother has a cottage up in the mountains on a little lake and being the food lover that I am... I plan my trip there around their blueberry season.
That's correct, I plan a vacation every year so I can pick wild blueberries in the woods. To be exact we pick berries around an old beaver dam.
We make all kinds of yummy stuff with the blueberries we pick. This year I made a blueberry pie that was, I kid you not 'wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-have-another-piece-good'!
What you need:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1  9-inch baked pie shell or graham cracker pie shell
  • whipped cream (optional)
What you do:
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan with 1 cup of the blueberries.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and add remaining blueberries and butter.

Stir until butter is melted and pour mixture into pie shell.

Allow pie to cool then chill in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream!
 Eat up!
Grandma enjoying pie


Tip Junkie handmade projects
www.goodcheapeats.com

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth

My mom passed The Pillars of the Earth on to me a few years ago. I was reluctant to read a super thick historical fiction novel for fear of being bored to tears but after the first few pages I was immediately in love with the book. The book is centered around the construction and architecture of a cathedral in 12th-century England. It also follows the life of the small village and its people where the cathedral is being built. The characters all come to life and seem so very real and compelling. There's plenty of death, love, destruction, suspense and tragedy that make for one magnificent read.

World Without EndAfter reading The Pillars of the Earth I was left wanting more.  Low and behold, Ken Follett came out with World Without End which picks up 200 years after The Pillars of the Earth ends and is another fantastic book that I couldn't put down.

Go to your local library, book store or borrow it from your BFF and get to reading!

PS- There's a made for TV miniseries for The Pillars of The Earth. (I watched it via Netflix and really enjoyed it)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We've Got Worms

Back in April, Trouble received this for his birthday from his Grandparents. In case you're wondering, it's a worm house.








A few days later Trouble got a package in the mail. You guessed it... a box filled with 1,000 worms (minus a few who thought it would be a good idea to vacate their packaging and, since we were having a hot April, quickly became crispy critters). Yes, there is such a thing as mail order worms. You didn't know that? Me either!

Lucky for Trouble, Mr.Perfect was super excited to start a worm farm. Apparently the little guys are great at composting. Trouble ripped some newspaper to put in the bottom of the bin.


They watered down the newspaper and then added the mail order worms along with a little dirt.

What do these guys eat you ask? Food scraps! I'm finding that they are crazy for watermelon rind but they eat through most any organic material. Yes, I can tell that our worms like watermelon the most... they all cheer when I throw it in.

The best part is that the worms or wormies, as Trouble calls them, turn the organic material into vermicompost or worm manure. Vermicompost is like gold for your garden. Mr. Perfect has been pouring the liquid, which by the way Trouble calls worm pee, that comes out of the bottom of the worm farm, into my herb garden and I've never seen my herbs happier!
worm pee =
great herbs
Trouble has grown so attached to his little wormies that the mention of using them for fishing bait is met with violent protest. Yeah... happy worms...happy Trouble...happy garden!
Thanks Grammy & Grandpa for the very fun birthday gift. Everyone here loves it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Puerto Rico

What I didn't tell you about our Caribbean cruise is that it began and ended in Puerto Rico. And...it just so happens that we have friends that live in Puerto Rico... who happen to have a condo on the beach that they use as a weekend getaway. We asked super sweetly if we could spend some time at their condo after the cruise was over. They said, "YES!"... because they are awesome, sweet, kind and wonderful people. Check out the view!

We spent a day at El Yunque National Forest. It's the only tropical rainforest in the United States. The rainforest creates a jungle-like setting that Trouble was beside himself with excitement to explore.

Lush foliage, waterfalls and rivers abound. The forest has numerous trails that show off El Yunque's many beautiful treasures. We were so thankful that our hosts suggested we go because we had an amazing time exploring the rainforest.










The little town we stayed in, Luquillo, happens to be a desired surf spot. Trouble and Mr.Perfect spent countless hours boogie boarding and body surfing in the waves.








 

Luquillo also has fantastic snorkeling. We found coral reefs, filled with all kinds of cool sea life, scattered just off shore. 








We also took a day trip to San Juan, which was only half an hour away. Fort San Felipe del Morro which guards the entrance to San Juan Bay was fascinating. It's a 16th-century fortress that is now preserved and part of the National Park Service. Trouble loved all of the cannons and the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' feel of the place.









Puerto Rico is truly like its Spanish name "rich port" with its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and history. I must say it's awfully nice to have friends in tropical places! Mr.Perfect, Trouble and I send our deepest thanks and love to our friends in beautiful Puerto Rico.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Today I'm turning these guys into salsa.
Don't tomatillos look strange? They've got a paper thin husk that hides the funny little green fruit. I'm thinking this tomatillo looks a whole lot funny.

What you need:
  • about 15 tomatillos, husks removed, washed and halved
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • juice from half of a lime
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed (remove seeds to cut heat)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt to taste
What you do:
Place halved tomatillos on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Place under broiler until the tops of the tomatillos become charred. (about 10 minutes)

Toss the charred tomatillos and next five ingredients in the blender or food processor, pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. Season to taste with salt.
 I love this green salsa on eggs, tacos, fajitas, wraps, baked potatoes, salads and of course tortilla chips.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cruzin' the Caribbean

Our family recently took a vacation. We were celebrating both Mr.Perfect and my mom, Nana's, zero ending birthdays. My theory is that vacations help the birthdays go down, just like sugar helps the medicine go down.

Deciding where to go on a group vacation tends to be a big pain. Throw a kid in the mix and you're in real trouble, literally Trouble. We opted for an Caribbean voyage on the Carnival Victory.

There are a million different reasons why we chose to take a cruise but mostly we really love the amount and variety of activities that are available on a ship. Everyone in our group always had something to do or a fabulous place to relax. Trouble was a big fan of the mini golf.

All of the boys thoroughly enjoyed the waterslide.
Papa on the waterside
My mom and I loved reading and relaxing in the adult area... the view could not be beat!

The childrens program, Camp Carnival, was great. Trouble was able to hang out with other kids on the ship doing fun stuff like pirate hunting and disco dancing. So while Mr.Perfect and I went scuba diving in St.Kitts, Trouble was safe on the ship having a blast with his new friends.
Trouble The Pirate Hunter
Excursions offered by the cruise line are a great way to explore the ports and try new things. Although they tend to be on the expensive side you are always well taken care of. We gave snuba a try in St. Lucia and had an amazing time.

At some ports we opted to explore on our own. In St. Thomas we took a taxi and boat to the island of St.John for a day on the beach in Trunk Bay, which by the way has to be the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.

In Barbados we took a taxi to a beach and spent the day relaxing in the crystal clear water.

My parents were in the cabin next to us and we were able to open up our balconies to widen our view and give us more shared space (where we enjoyed many a cocktail and the fantastic view). Trouble loved being able to escape to Nana & Papa's cabin when his parents were being a drag... and we loved it too.

With a tear in my eye I said good bye to our cabin steward who always made my bed, took out the trash, tidied up, left fresh towels and chocolates on my pillow. (Then I told Mr.Perfect that he totally had some competition in the 'perfect department' because if Mr.CabinSteward could have fit in my suitcase I was seriously considering taking him home with me.) We all had a terrific vacation filled with unforgettable memories!