Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bluebonnets in the snow

I wanted *so much* to drive around looking for bluebonnets in the snow over Easter weekend.
Snow is rare in Texas, and even more rare in Spring time.

I just KNEW there had to be an extraordinary scene of bluebonnets in the snow somewhere.
Somewhere, somehow Marie Christopher, my Houston Hat Net, fellow Millinery class alumni friend found the picture!

I'll have to find out how she got it later, meanwhile....

Millinery: Hat Pinning Hats by Tuka Threads

You just have to see Tuka Threads, the wonderful millinery designs of millinery Joan Hammerschmidt.
Her designs just rock.

Check out her work (all of the sections, I've just linked you to one division of her work.)

Then if you can, get out and see her work in person...Laura, Mom, and other San Diego folk, she has her hats in a La Jolla Boutique, check under EVENT CALENDAR to see where.

Love it, love it, love it!

(Thanks Marie for sending the link!)

Starring: Star Jasmine!

I SO regret the Internet does not allow fragrance or "Scratch and Sniff" posting options.
Our Star Jasmine is blooming profusely both in the front and back yard. We slept with our windows open just to catch the fragrance, and then, silly us, we neglected to take our morning coffee outside to enjoy the fragrance in the early morning sunlight.
Tomorrow we'll remember.
The jasmine isn't as fragrant as the night blooming version, but I like how glossy the leaves are year around.
It is growing on a wire pyramid trellis, and the plant in front keeps making a break for it, reaching up into the surrounding trees and racing towards the sky.
It is pretty funny to see a huge tree suddenly sprouting white flowers all over it's limbs.
In the woods, the honeysuckle vines are doing fabulous stuff with cream to yellow to orange colored blossoms.
I can smell honeysuckle from quite a distance and it always brings back memories of going to church as a small child, where honeysuckle bloomed next to the church steps.
I would busily pull off a few blossoms after church and enjoy the sweet nectar.
Stay tuned, I'll try to get a picture of the honeysuckle bower in the forest where we take our usual walk!

Oh do I ever wish you could be here to enjoy the fragrance!
Tell me; what is blooming with a sweet scent in your garden today?
Do you have memories associated with the scent?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Millinery: Vintage 1940's navy blue hat with glass berries

Yes, Laura's eyes really are THAT blue!
I just do not understand why more people don't wear hats.
Cute, unusual small hats.
Like the one pictured.
It is from the 1940's.
Doesn't it just make the outfit?
It is "one size fits all" because it sit on top of the head, and is held in place with a small elastic cord that goes around the back of the head.
Lots of people think that piece of elastic goes under the chin.
They even call it a "chin strap" on Ebay sometimes.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Only small children need to hold on to their hats by using an strap under the chin.
Wearing it that way feels awful anyway.
If you look closely at the first picture you will see the elastic on the side of Laura's head.
Usually you make sure the elastic matches your hair color, and tuck it into the hair.
The strap allows the hat to tip or tilt forward without falling off.
Hats created in this style do not mess up your hair!
(But they do "mess" with the boys a bit...oh the compliments just come flying in!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 15th 2007: Jill and Laura go Bluebonneting

There are all kinds of flowers in bloom now, and last Sunday after church Laura and I headed west of Houston with our two digital cameras, planning on enacting our own photo shoot.

After watching multiple episodes of America's Top Model, we were shamelessly hamming it up taking pictures of each other between capturing the flowers and the scenery.
Just for the record: We aren't usually this narcissistic.

Bernie sadly couldn't join us, he had to fly off to Florida for a conference so he isn't in any of the pictures.
We talked with him on and off during the day and at least he got to see the pictures later.

We were lucky enough to have another family decided to take pictures in this particular posy patch, and we took a group picture of them, and they returned the favor nicely.

I'm wearing the new pants Mom got me for my birthday.
Thanks Mom! I love them!

Me in the background celebrating!

Yes, Laura's eye's are naturally that shade of blue.

To see more of our frolics in the flowers, click here.
It was a spectacular day!
If you like bluebonnet adventures, head over to the sidebar where there is a link to all the blue bonnet pictures from here.
Remember: End of March through late April is Blue Bonnet season in Texas.
Somehow, some day, be sure to come to Texas and see the display won't regret it!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The April 14th Birthday Celebrations

A card from Tiggie, a card from Hart, roses from Bernie, a cake, balloons...
Laura in town...
Bernie beside me....
I was a happy Birthday girl!

No-Knead Bread

In case you hadn't noticed, "No-Knead Bread" recipes have been kicking around the Internet and newspapers for awhile now.

I finally got around to making a loaf myself a few months ago, and decided that both my kids needed to learn how to make this simple, yet delicious and "showy" bread.
The bread has a slightly sour dough flavor and a beautiful crisp crust.
The interior of the bread has big holes like many of the artisan breads that are now being served in those trendy restaurants, to dip into flavored oils and vinegars.

Since Laura was going to be here for a few days, this was going to be her chance to try out the recipe for herself. I'll round up Jeff for a lesson at another time.

First step was to find an apron.
That's my apron that she is wearing in the picture below.
I bought it for myself as a teenager.
It was so "mod" with it's orange, lime, fuchsia, and hot pink OWLS!
Can you say "That sure looks like the 1960's to me!" ????

(Laura thinks the apron is cool. Very retro. No, she can't keep it yet.)

The recipe calls for:
Three cups of flour,
1/4 teaspoon yeast
One and one quarter teaspoons of salt.
One and one half cup of water

(I have made the bread using Better for Bread white flour to make it lighter, and also with Better for Bread wheat flour for more flavor. Either way works, and regular flour will be fine too. I just like how light the bread flour breads come out.)

Above is Laura adding the yeast to the flour and salt mix.

The bowl was a wedding shower gift from my sister-in-law. I've had it for over 30 years now!
It is a huge bowl and weighs a ton, and I think of her everytime I use it, as it is a perfect bowl for large batches of things. She cooked for seven children, large batches were the norm for her!

Next you add the one and one half cup of water to form a dough. Don't over mix; just mix it until the flour is all dampened and stuck together. It should be kind of wet.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap with the dough inside the bowl and put the bowl someplace warmish, like the top of your refrigerator, for 12 to 18 hours.

( Picture above: I was not feeling too great. No make up, just us both looking cruddy.)

Put flour and a little corn meal on a smooth tea towel (not terry cloth)
Take the dough out of the bowl.
Put the dough on the floured towel. The corn meal will add a little extra crunch and also help keep the bread from sticking to the dutch oven pot that is will be baked in.

Now you can do one of two things:
You can either fold the dough back on itself and let it rise again for another hour. (That's the above picture example)
About thirty minutes before the hour is up, turn on your oven to 500 degrees F.
AND put a Dutch Oven (or two quart Pyrex with lid) into the oven to heat up to 500 F.
(Do not use Pam or any other oil in the pot)


You can just fold the bread over itself a few times until it becomes a flattened ball.
You still need to heat up a Dutch oven as directed above.

CAREFULLY take the hot Dutch Oven out of the oven.

(This dough, pictured above, was allowed to rise twice. Notice the Alaska towel...I try to get tea towel from place where we vacation. Makes kitchen work a nice "remember when" experience.)

Working quickly, lift the dough on the towel over the pot, and flip the towel over to drop the bread dough, (seam side up if you have folded the dough) into the Dutch Oven.
(Do not grease or Pam spray the pot.)

Cover the Dutch Oven with a lid, and bake the bread at 500 F for 30 minutes covered.

Take lid off and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.

The bread is delicious with dipping oil or butter.

We immediately made a mess with it.

The prep time to make this bread is about 5 minutes to make the bread, and another 3-4 minutes to either fold it and put it in a pot or just fold and let rise again and put it in a pot.

The 12-18 hour "rising" time allows the small amount of yeast to develop a wonderful flavor, and kneading is not required to develop the bread's gluten.

We tore into this loaf straight out of the oven. If you allow it to cool, the slices will probably look a little neater.
(WHO CARES about neat when there's fresh bread coming out of the oven?)

Have fun...even if you are not feeling too great, or planning a busy day.

Friday the 13th is often considered unlucky.

Last Wednesday, which was April 11th, I had a really bad headache at work.
When I got home, I took my temperature, and it was 101 degrees.
With chills and aches racking my body, it looked like flu season was taking another shot at me.

So I went to bed and stayed there until Friday morning.

Laura flew in from San Diego late Thursday, April 12th.
Bernie drove to the airport to pick her up, and brought her home.

Nothing like being a nurse and getting to visit a sick family member when you were planning time off from work!

She was so sweet, she came in to see me right away and asked how I was doing.
We talked a few minutes, then she headed to the bed in the guest room, and I rolled over in my bed in my room, and we both conked out.

She had been up since 4 am in order to fly from San Diego to Houston with layovers in Denver.

By the next morning, which was Friday the thirteenth, I was still feeling pretty wobbly, so we just hung out around the house, and slept late while Bernie worked from home.

Laura mixed up some No Knead Bread, a bread that takes 18 hours to rise, but other than that, activity around our house was pretty slight.
At one point we sat outside in the garden, just long enough for Laura to feed the mosquitoes from several places on her body.
Unlucky for her, as the bites itched the rest of her visit.
(Hope they are better now Sweetie!)

By seven on Friday night, both Bernie and Laura were feeling a little restless and a lot hungry.
They wanted to go out to dinner, and were asking me where I, as the "Birthday Girl", on the eve of her birthday, would want to go out to eat?

I decided that I could handle a trip to the low-keyed Cedar Landing restaurant which is a short drive from our house and over a bridge across part of Lake Houston.
The restaurant itself sits on the waterfront, and at sunset sometimes I can almost imagine I am back in San Diego, eating at the Harbor.

Now Laura learned to like Cajun food while she lived in Texas going to college, and also visiting us over the years.
I also like Cajun food, and about once a year I enjoy a big ol' plate of crawdads, (AKA crayfish or crawfish.)

Below is a fine example of a plate full of the crawdad critters.

The crawdads are boiled live in a pot with corn, potato and very spicy Cajun seasoning.
The seasoning tends to seep heavily into the crawdad head, and people who are born into Cajun families enjoy the spices so much that they typically suck on the head of the crawdads to maximize the pleasure of the fierce seasoning.
There are questionable tee shirts suggesting the joys of that means and method of culinary gusto, but I won't elaborate on what is suggested on those shirts on this post.
You'll just have to visit our area in order to have your suspicions confirmed.

In order to eat the crawfish, you snap off their heads and little front claws, and break the tail down the middle.

Then you pull out a piece of meat that looks like a tiny lobster tail, about the size of a small unshelled peanut, about one inch long.

Bernie is about to enjoy a crawdad tail from my plate.

Eating crawdads is a very social experience; you use your hands and get all messy.
You've got to have loads of napkins to keep up with the mess and buckets available in which to toss empty crawdad shells.

I enjoyed every bite!
There were also Jalapeno Hushpuppies as well as a tangy Honey Mustard salad dressing on a green dinner salad.
And for dessert the three of us each had a bite or two from one slice of Banana Fosters Pie afterwards.

Absolutely delicious.
Truly a Southern treat from beginning to end.

We drove home and exactly one hour later, (it still being Friday the 13th) I busily sent all those crawdads that I ate right back out to sea.

Turns out that my reaction to shellfish, of which I was well aware from past encounters, now includes crawdad.

Bernie thought that might have made an interesting blog picture as well.

(Boys can be SO gross sometimes....)

Unlucky Friday the 13th.

I'll say.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Partied hardy

We had a great time, and I have lots of pictures to share later.

As usual, the cats went waaaayy overboard.

Librarian Jill at 53.
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