Monday, June 29, 2009

Jam Packed

Hello Blog Stalkers.

Hope this finds you well and refreshed from your weekend. We are still recovering from what I would call a delightfully full weekend! It was comprised of good stuff and good people.

I'll start with the 'good stuff'. We did some crafting, swimming, sunning, and sweating on Saturday. I've spent many summers in the Alabama heat but for some reason it still surprises me. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I love to walk out of a cold air conditioned building and feel the humidity hit me in face like a warm, wet towel, but the fact that it can actually be this stifiling surprises me. I honestly think I could bake a cake in the front seat of my car.

Sunday brought the 'good people'. After church on Sunday we loaded up and headed to the beach to meet up with Erika {& Chance} and a very good friend that I've never met. What? Yes. It's true. Another "internet friend". One that I knew if I didn't get down to see it would potentially be a while before we could visit again. Meet Erin.


She's just as genuine, wonderful and friendly as she looks! Y'all aren't going to believe me, but, this is the only picture I have of her and didn't get a single picture of us together. My logic is that I must now start planning a trip to Rome so that we can get a picture together.

We've sent many emails back and forth across the pond; discussing faith, kids, and chickens. In case you're wondering, she's not Italian but married an Italian... and I have not a single picture of him. But don't fret, I took enough of the kids to compensate for my lack of pictures Pietro & Erin.

We started at the pool.


And then made our way to dinner.


John Martin wanted nothing to do with his stroller so he was free range during dinner.


Stella's mom didn't warn her that this "thing" attached to my face is permanent.


It didn't take her long to warm up. Erin told me she was like a "diesel engine", it just took her a little while to get going and then once she did she was good to go! She was absolutely right. I wish you could hear her sweet voice with a precious Italian accent.


Stella and Morgan are kindred spirits. Once they finished their meal they were ready to play.

Paige, on the other hand, made her way to her Uncle Chance. Who had a tray full of {what appear to be} chili cheese fries.



Honestly, as I watched her scarf them down, all I could do was pray she didn't get "dia-wee-ah"on the way home.

John Martin only tried to escape a few times. Thank goodness he had that very large frog on his bottom... he was usually easy to spot.


And always came back.


I think I forgot to mention that Stella has a brother, Diego.


He's equally as charming as his big sister and doesn't like rocks in his Crocs. :)


We finally made our way to the outdoor coliseum, where the Romans took on the Americans in a good 'ole fashioned race.


It was a draw every time.


And out of all the races... Paige never ran.


Not once. She's apparently not up for competition.

But she did run to her daddy as fast as she could and accidently poke him in the eye.


The kids went right back to their food when the race was over.


And at half-past dark we headed back to Alabama with exhausted kids and delightful memories. We talked about what a pleasure it was to spend time with our friends from across the globe.

In our small group tonight we sang a song that comes from Psalm 100:4 and discussed things we were thankful for. I enjoyed sharing this story with them and how I treasure relationships not only with old friends but also with new.

Erin & Pietro, it was truly a pleasure and I'm already looking forward to our next visit!

Now, at 11:45 pm I must return to the kitchen to tend to a giant mess caused by this:





We've canned 24 jars of peach jam... and have only worked half way through the box of beautiful, juicy, and sweet Chilton County peaches.

I hope to be back soon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garden Recipe: Lemon Dill Salmon & Butternut Squash

Happy Friday, folks!

Since the last "foil pouch" recipe was such a success here's another one for you! This is one that will use your dill & butternut squash. Butternuts are considered "winter squash", my only guess is because they have a SUPER long shelf life, not because they grow in the winter. They're a delicious and nutritious squash and we eat a lot of them!

We'll do the squash first.

Preheat the oven to 350 and fill a baking pan with 1/2" of water. Cut the butternuts in half, remove seeds (we dry ours in paper towels for a few days, store them in ziplocs and then plant them next year}, and place FACE down in the water.





Put them in the oven. Set your timer for 45-50 minutes.

Then get the marinade ready for your salmon. Here's what you'll need:


1 part lemon juice
2 parts olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic {or more if you'd like}
a few grinds from the peppermill

Add to the blender or mini food processor and blend.

Place your salmon filet on a square of aluminum foil and generously season with Jane's Krazy Salt {I think they may need to start paying me!}.


Brush on your marinade.


And top with fresh dill.


Wrap your foil around your salmon filets to make a happy little pouch and put it in the fridge.

Light the grill and let it heat to 350.


Turn burners down to low and place your salmon pouch on the grill.


Close the lid and let it grill for 5-6 minutes.

Take a break and play {but just for a few minutes}.


Then come back to the grill and flip your little pouch over for 5 or 6 more minutes.

Check on your squash and if they're done they'll be fork tender and look like this :


Then get out some of this:


And fill them with it.


Turn the oven off and put them back in to keep warm.

By now your salmon is likely done. Bring your pouch inside and open it. I think you'll be amazed at how good it smells!


I like to serve the salmon and butternut with Mahatma Long Grain & Wild Rice.


Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

'Round Here & Yoko

So much to report.
So little time.
I'll hit the highs {you'll have to trust me the lows are here too... they don't make for as great photo ops though}.

Summer's in full swing 'round here.

John Martin got his bangs trimmed so I could see his eyes. When I was done I vacuumed his head. He loved it. It brought back beautiful childhood memories of the Flowbee infomercials; please tell me you remember.


Much better.


Here's a peek at some of the summer sewing I've been working on:


And their nightgowns are ready to assemble... when I look at all those tucks I can't help but think of "tucking" them in bed in their "tucked" gowns, and how hopefully they'll be all "tuckered" out. I hesitated spending such time and detail on nightgowns but honestly they'll wear them more as nightgowns than they ever would as dresses! I quickly convinced myself they're worth the time and energy. {I'll be sure to share fabric and pattern details when they're done.}


Summer also calls for "Summer Reading" programs. We set ourselves a lofty vow of 40 books... we're making progress.


Or maybe I should rephrase that by saying, "I'm making progress!" The girls aren't reading yet so I'm the reader, they're the listeners! We've had such fun making trips to the library and getting our books.


Considering I'm not a teacher, nor a librarian, and since it's been a few years since I've checked out books from the children's section, the librarian has been helpful both times to make suggestions on both "story books" and "beginner reader" books!

Our pick of the litter this time was Yoko, by Rosemary Wells {who is most well-known for her characters Max & Ruby}.


It's a charming little tale of a kitty named Yoko who gets teased for bringing sushi to school. We also picked up a few McDuff books by Wells and they come to life on the pages too. The girls loved Yoko and I made a proposition to take them out to lunch if they'd try sushi... they were all for it.

So today, we hit up a local Asian cafe for lunch. Annie kept John Martin and the girls had a date with Mommy. Of course, Yoko came a long too.


I ordered two boxes and we went to town.


The girls have never used chopsticks.


Morgan got it down in seconds.


And Paige did too, in her own special way.


They were especially intriqued with the soy sauces and dipping bowls.


They both held up to their end of the bargain and tried the sushi {California rolls}.


And weren't too impressed.


Or maybe it was the soy sauce they drenched it in that they didn't like!?

They did love the chicken and the tempura vegetables.

Nonetheless, we had a blast and made precious memories.

Now, I'm back to the kitchen where I'm working on some little pretties for my niece's 6th birthday gathering tonight.... I've baked about 75 of these miniture guys!


Be back soon with another Garden Recipe!!