Friday, June 22, 2012

Guess who snuck out and was cornered by the chickens?

That would be Piper. AKA Trouble, AKA Kitty Whore, AKA Princess Kitty Whore. She snuck out the back door and all of a sudden, the chickens stopped what they were doing and ran up to her. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing yet... I was letting them free range in the yard earlier this week when they did something similar to a feral cat in the neighborhood. I don't know if they want to be friends or if they're trying to be intimidating, but Princess Kitty Whore was not a fan of those chickens. She turned around and got out of there as quick as she could! Looks like the peeps grew up into a badass cat-attacking poultry gang. My kinda girls (well, mostly girls, I am pretty sure that Mouse is a Rooster or a super bitchy hen).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Key West Wedding

I finally finished my wedding photobook! Although I have to say that at $144, I'm balking at the pricetag. I think I'll wait until I get an awesome coupon code to buy it. Putting it together was time-consuming, but it was fun to look through all of the photos again. :)

I have to say, looking through these photos makes me want to experience that week all over again. I had such an awesome time, and from what I've been told, everyone had an even better time than I did. We ended up having far more people in Key West than we had anticipated... I understand that not everyone can make a destination wedding, and we did this partially to cut down on the guest list. Little did I know that we would have over FIFTY friends come down to celebrate with us. It was overwhelming... so much for a destination wedding helping our budget!

Everyone has a disaster story from their wedding. Looking back on my disaster, it wasn't such a big deal... but at the time I was pretty traumatized. Having attended a bachelorette party where the bride did a faceplant into the concrete outside of the last bar we visited(3 weeks before her wedding and knocking out several of her teeth), I had it easy. In defense of brides worldwide, planning a wedding is stressful. Planning a destination wedding and two receptions is insane. If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have axed the reception at home. That's for another rant, though.

So my wedding disaster story started on Thursday night, which was to be our big night out before the wedding. The afternoon started with a wonderful cookout and swanky juice (a concoction we made one night while having an apron dance party)... then the ladies and a few brave men went to the drag show with us. After the drag show, we hit Duval Street and a number of different bars. While we were out, some of our group reconvened and the New York (Jay's best friend Brian, who is currently living in Costa Rica) clan arrived. Well we continued bar-hopping until the wee hours, when we went back to our place and our 85 degree pool. For real, it was that warm. Anyway, we were all hanging out in the pool and I was swimming from side to side, trying to stay awake to hang out with everyone (a number of us had been up from 5am for a Dry Tortugas trip that didn't happen). I swam from side to side, doing a forward somersault when I reached the opposite side... well, let's just say that between my natural spacial relations issues and my slight inebriation, I misjudged the side of the pool. THWACK! Face-pool. My upper lip had hit the side of the pool full-force and scraped-split my philtrum real good. Best man - Hey, are you okay? You're bleeding!
Just what a bride-to-be wants to hear the day before her wedding - that her face is bleeding!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

There is more to the story, I turned a little Bridezilla... hopefully no one held it against me. That area is incredibly sensitive and it hurt like hell. I wished that I'd had the common sense to put ice on it sooner and helped with the swelling, but I was having my Bridezilla moment and instead of being sensible and getting Jay to help me, I was Bridezilla.
 
Fortunately, Angela is amazing with make-up and fixed me up perfectly for the photos. I imagine our photographer used photoshop magic as well. The only bummer was that it hurt so much to smile that I feel like I didn't smile as naturally in our photos because my lip hurt so much.

There's something funny that happens after you get married... perspective, I guess. I look back on it now and think... it was a great time.
 
It's a little embarrassing, because the weddings that we've attended since - people who were at our wedding always comes up to us and say, "Yeah, this is fun, but remember YOUR wedding?!?!!?"
 
How could I ever forget?
Shutterfly offers exclusive photobook layouts so you can make your book just the way you want.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friday was awesomesauce


The day began with eight ladies and two babies at Outstanding Dreams alpaca farm.  Levi and Liam (the babies) had a great time gallivanting with the alpacas, although Liam was not happy that Meghan wouldn’t let him down to crawl around the pasture. Babies + alpacas = cutest ever.

The alpacas were so soft that I had to buy some fiber at the farm store… so I guess I need to learn how to knit/crochet. The girls tried to convince me to get some alpacas (you can raise up to 10 on a single acre). I think that we need to buy siding more than a $5,000 animal – those adorable critters are expensive!
I stole some of these photos from the Caroline County Tourism page on Facebook. Our buddy Christina (who works for the tourism board) took us to the alpaca farm and the place with the crazy outhouse guy who is obsessed with hoes.











Now on to Shore Good farms. The owner Jack is born and bred Caroline County. Jack loves his hoes and outhouses, but his real passion is to use his farm to educate kids about growing vegetables and gardening. He has a large amount of acreage on his farm, but the part that we visited is farmed strictly by hand. Jack can hoe his entire farm in 16 minutes.

Here is a blurb from the agritourism website:

Take a step back in time to Shore Good Farm, a heritage farm located in Preston. Shore Good Farm highlights Caroline County’s rich agrarian history, featuring an unmatched collection of antiques and heritage artifacts from yesteryear, fresh-cut flowers, artisan carpentry including vintage outhouses and chicken coops, the plumpest blackberries on the shore, old-fashioned kettle corn and more!  Jack Stieff also runs his peanut roasting operation on the farm, offering 15 varieties of his signature peanuts.

We all became 12 year old girls when he started talking about the proper way to hoe a garden. He told us that all you need to grow vegetables is a small area of land and a good hoe. Now, lots of people tend to use big hoes, but Jack likes to use small hoes. You’ve got to make sure that you keep your hoe in the ground. He showed off his mother’s hoe and had all of us take turns holding it. “Yep, that’s a light hoe.” Cue us giggling like little girls and making “Your mom’s a hoe” comments.

Jack is a purveyor of moonshine and tall tales. He doesn’t trust the government and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on Doomsday Preppers someday.

Here he is greeting us when we pulled up – we caught him in the outhouse, of course:


Some more pics at Shore Good Farm:



Sadly, the blackberries weren’t ripe enough to be picked, because as Jack said, “That Mother Nature is a hussy!”

We’re planning to go back after Mother Nature wises up and cooperates with Jack. I’m looking forward to talking to him about his chicken feed. He makes his own and according to him, he gets 14 eggs a day out of his 10 chickens. Tall tales, indeed.

We found ourselves famished and thirsty after the farm visits, so we headed to The Market Street Pub for some deliciousness. I was too hungry to take any pictures of our food, but I did snap a shot of our Orange Crush pitcher.


After the pub, we bid adieu to Meghan, Sherye, and their babies and headed over to Black Anchor Tattoo to get some work done. Sara now has Harry Potter stars behind her ear, Jamie got a peace sign behind her ear (there was a DUDE – SWEET moment at the tattoo shop, which was hilarious), Angela has a gorgeous pattern going down her spine inspired by wrought-iron gates, and I now have this (inspired by my dad's photo on the right):



It looks pretty gross in that photo, because it was newly finished - irritated and weeping. I’ll post another photo when it has healed. I have to say that it hurt way more than I remembered tattoos hurting, and it took a little over two hours! After the first minute I was thinking, “I wonder if it’s too late to get him to stop.”  I’m very glad that Angela ended up getting her back done at the same time, because it was nice to have someone to suffer with. Sara and Jamie’s tattoos were done in no more than 15 minutes. Lucky girls.

I still have to get the Sagan quote added. I didn’t like the layout that the shop did with the words going through the butterfly's wings, so I’m going to go back once it’s healed and figure out a way that we can work in the quote around the tattoo or maybe to the side somewhere.

After tattoos we went to Harry's on the Green for some tasty drinks, plus delicious fried pickles and green beans.

As if all of that fun wasn’t enough, we also had book club on Friday night. Wine, cheese, and tasty noms. It didn’t go as late as usual, probably because the book (Still Life by Joy Fielding) was awful and most of us were exhausted from our busy day.

Saturday brought more shenanigans at the 2nd annual Southern Summer Cocktail party and we also got a bushel of crabs on Sunday. It was a crazy fun and busy weekend and now I am completely worn out.

I can’t wait for a 7 p.m. bedtime this evening!











Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bacon Ice Cream? Yes please!

Saw this on CNN today. I am definitely making it!

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/06/14/burger-kings-bacon-sundae-is-for-amateurs-make-bacon-ice-cream-at-home/?hpt=hp_bn11



Boozy, Nutty, Buttermilk Bacon Ice Cream
1 pound smoked bacon (not thick cut)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup pecans
2 Tablespoons bourbon
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Chop bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, dredge them in brown sugar. Scrunch pieces of aluminum foil to cover the surface of a baking sheet – the excess fat will drain into the channels. Lay out the bacon on the foil making sure not to overlap pieces. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper, then bake in a 350°F oven until crispy.
After the first 10 minutes, check every 5 minutes to make sure that it is not burning. Remove, cool and set aside.
Chop pecans very finely and toast them in the same 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they do not burn, but give off a nice, nutty odor. Pour them into a single layer in a flat bottomed container and pour bourbon over them while they are still warm. Set aside.
Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until they are thoroughly mixed. In a saucepan, heat heavy cream and one cup of the buttermilk to 150°F. Pour a thin stream of the cooked cream and buttermilk mixture into the eggs and sugar, stirring until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Chill the custard for 4 hours or until very cold, but not frozen.
Once it has chilled, stir in the rest of the buttermilk, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and mix until very thick. Turn off the machine and gently stir in the candied bacon and the nuts.
Spoon it all into a container with a tight-fitting lid. If there is a gap between the custard and the lid, press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the mixture to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Remove ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before serving.
If you don't have an ice-cream maker either place the bowl in the freezer and remove every half hour to beat with a whisk or electric immersion blender or pour the mixture into a 1-pound coffee can and seal it tightly.
Place that can into a 3-pound coffee can, layer ice and rock salt around it and seal that tightly as well. Roll the large can between your feet or between two people for 10-15 minutes.
Then open the can, take the smaller can out, clean it off, unseal, and stir the contents. Reseal the can, pack it into the larger can, place in more ice and rock salt and repeat the process until the mixture is semi-frozen. Pour it into a fresh container and place in the freezer until it reaches desired solidity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cooking, Alpacas and Tattoos, oh my!

My visiting sister in law (Colleen) is quasi-vegetarian, so I decided that I should try making some veggie dishes while she's visiting. Colleen made an amazing veggie pizza the other night, with scratch pizza dough. She used pesto instead of marinara sauce, feta cheese, mushrooms, onions, black olives and I can't remember what else. It was delicious and filling. I'm going to get her dough recipe and experiment! I can't wait until we have some ripe tomatoes so that I can make some tomato and pasta sauce. 

I haven't taken pictures, but our green bell and jalapeno pepper plants have just started to go crazy. We have six each, and I think by this weekend we are going to be up to our necks in peppers. One of my coworkers said that you can blanch and freeze them. 

Our zucchini plant has a ton of blooms on it and I imagine that we're going to be really sick of zucchini by the end of the month. 

So in light of all of these things, including Colleen's visit, I looked up some veggie entrees.

I found this Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole on Eating Well: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/tex_mex_summer_squash_casserole.html

We'll be making this slightly different, using a mix of zucchini and squash (which are practically the same anyway). Instead of using the canned jalapenos, we'll be using fresh. I think that we'll also throw in some black beans. The next thing I'm going to make is an enchilada-style chilaquiles recipe that I also found on Eating Well.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 pounds summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 1 4-1/2-ounce can chopped jalapenos, (about 1/2 cup), drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, (about 7 ounces), divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup mild salsa
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapenos, salt and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
  3. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and red onion.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Garnish just before serving.



Oh, and did I mention that I made mayonnaise last night? I used Alton Brown's recipe. I think that next time I'll use less oil and/or another egg yolk. It tastes good but it's a little runny. I'm planning to use it to make the potato salad for a party we're attending on Saturday. I think I'll also use my homemade mayo for egg salad. 

I have to figure out what to make for book club on Friday. 

Friday is a busy day - we're visiting the Alpacas at Outstanding Dreams Farm in the morning, followed by Shore Good Farm, where we will pick blackberries and check out custom outhouses. After our busy morning, I'm sure that we'll have worked up an appetite, so we'll then go to The Market Street Public House for a tasty lunch. After lunch, we'll do what everyone does on a sunny summer afternoon - get inked at Black Anchor Tattoo. After body art, we'll either run home to prepare our food for book club, or go to happy hour at Harry's. 
At book club we will probably drink wine, show off our new artwork, and play with babies, because the book for this month wasn't all that thought-provoking. As a matter of fact, I think that my I.Q. went down while I was reading it.

My first ink in over ten years will be in memory of my dad. I've wanted to get a tattoo to memorialize him somehow. I'd been thinking of getting some sort of bird, but I came across a photo that he'd taken and have decided to have it recreated.



The photo is discolored from storage, but it will work for my purposes. Around the photo will be a quote from Carl Sagan, (from his book Cosmos) one of my dad's favorite astronomers/physicists/science champions.   

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.

Dad hated tattoos, but I think that even he would appreciate this one. 



Friday, June 8, 2012

Woosah




I need some time to unwind and de-stress. It’s been a crazy busy few weeks/months. I’m feeling rundown and stressed out. I love my new job, but there is still a learning curve to contend with. It’s not a difficult job by any means, but it’s pretty different from anything I’ve done before. I’m also the treasurer for a great non-profit, but they are going through some major growth right now, and while that is wonderful for the organization, it’s not so wonderful for me. There are lots of questions and lots of paperwork coming at a time that I need to be sending out wires for grant recipients, plus all of the stuff going on at home. I no longer have any “free time” at work, like I had when we were going through the MTB merger. I also have a board position with the arts council (which I absolutely love and I could hardly call stressful). I’m so overwhelmed at the moment that I just want to break down and scream. Or cry. Or some mixture of the two.

So between the new job, non-profit jobs, the house rehab/garden/farm, being a new-ish wife, and still trying to have some kind of social life and be a good friend, I’m kind of stressed out. I think that what it boils down to is that I need to learn how to say no.  

My NY in-laws (God love ‘em) have a habit of changing their plans every five minutes, so you have no idea what is going on with them until they’re knocking on your front door. Originally, my MIL had planned to visit us sometime while my SIL was visiting from AZ. Okay, that sounds great. Well that plan ended up ridiculously convoluted and I was cleaning like a madwoman after finding out that we weren’t getting my MIL at all that day, but my BIL and niece. Then my MIL and Nana (Jay’s grandmother) decided to come over after all the day after my BIL and niece came over. I consider myself a pretty laid-back person, but I’d like to know when we’re going to be having guests at least a few days (preferably weeks) ahead of time. It would just be nice if I had a little notice and I knew who was coming – and when they were coming, and how long they would be staying. Is that too much to ask?

My SIL Colleen (who is thankfully someone who plans ahead) arrived on Tuesday and is staying for two weeks. Jay is off gallivanting with his buddies at a bachelor party in WV. We are having a great time in his absence – Whino Wednesday at Harry’s on the Green, last night we went to the library, Clayton Farms, and then had an adventure at the auction in American Corner.

I had planned to take Colleen out tonight and show her a crazy eastern shore redneck bar, but we’re going to lay low instead. I really need some downtime. So tonight we’re having a nice dinner, drinking wine, and watching bad tv. Maybe we’ll get wild and have a mealworm frenzy with the chickens.

I can’t wait to go home and relax. I’ve earned it. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to take a bath in our Jacuzzi tub sometime soon.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm officially a crazy chicken lady

I entered my little guy Mouse in an online poultry show on Backyard Poultry and he won first prize!

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/662869/chick-and-pullet-silkie-contest-ends-6-1-12-contest-closed-winners-posted


All from an out of focus smartphone camera. Ha!

My little Mouse was named after a dog. Yes, a dog... from an awesome series called The Dresden Files, because I am a super geek.

Take that all of you Silkie purists with your furry footed show chicks. Mouse is a badass. Now it's documented on teh interwebs.


The farm is coming along


We have our first green beans! I didn’t even realize that they were growing until I was weeding yesterday and saw something weird coming off of the plant. It looks like we will be having green beans with dinner this weekend. :)


Our cucumbers are going to be crazy this year – there are about 20 blossoms on our plants and some baby cukes are growing already. We are going to try making pickles this year. I found some recipes for fridge pickles as well as canned pickles. I suppose that we’ll be trying the fridge pickles first. That should be a fun project while my sister in law is visiting.

The chickens are about 8 weeks old now and get bigger every day. At first we were allowing them access to the garden, but then they started eating all of our plants. So chickypoos are now banned from the garden, although one or two seem to find a way to get stuck in there every day. I’m hoping that once their permanent run is constructed that they’ll be less likely to want to get in to the garden. We should be getting our reward of fresh eggs in about 2 months. Supposedly our black stars will start producing eggs at 16 weeks, which is July 29th. Our silkies (the white fuzzy chickens - Mouse and Dresdy) aren't very smart and are definitely near the bottom of the pecking order... but they are so freaking cute and SOFT. They feel like bunnies! We've been trying to make the chickens more tame by handfeeding them treats and petting them. When they hear the back door open and see someone, they all come running. It's pretty adorable.

Here is Jay having a mealworm frenzy with the chickypoos


As I think I mentioned before, we are planning to have a green carpet unveiling. It seems that the party keeps getting pushed back to later in the year. When Jay and I talked about a date, it now seems that our party will be at the beginning of October. I really wanted to still have fresh tomatoes to make bruschetta for our party, but I suppose that I could can my bruschetta mixture. Who knows, I may still have tomatoes in October. I sure hope so!  I found this recipe for canning bruschetta that I will probably try out:  http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/08/bruschetta-in-jar.html

Part of the fun of the party that I’m planning is that I want to use all (or at least mostly) locally-sourced ingredients. I’m sure that most of the firemen sure to be at our party won’t appreciate it, but I know that most of my friends (and the firemen’s wives and girlfriends) will enjoy it.

Here is the first draft of the menu... we may add or remove some items:

Chips & Salsa (fresh made salsa from our garden vegetables)
Deviled eggs (fresh from our chickens)
Duck w/ goat cheese, shallots, apples wrapped in phyllo (locally sourced duck and goat cheese, if I can find them – shallots from our garden, apples from a local orchard)
Bruschetta (fresh made from our garden on homemade bread)
Buffalo chicken dip (we’ll tell everyone it’s an unlucky chicken)
Salad (not sure on this one yet, but we have Bibb lettuce growing in the pallet garden)
Quiche (made with our eggs and garden vegetables)
Pulled pork (from Cedar Run cattle, a local farm)
London broil (also from Cedar Run)
Sandwich rolls
Fresh pickles from garden
Chocolate chip cookies
Brownies

I want to have a signature cocktail and do a twist on Long Island Iced Tea. I'm trying to think of a fun name to call it – Delmarva Iced Tea sounds kind of lame. I’m going to experiment with it, but it’s going to be some kind of peach sweet tea with a kick. I’ll probably make it with peaches, peach nectar, vodka or rum, and iced tea.

I’m also in the process of attempting to grow rosemary from cuttings. We have a rosemary bush that is completely out of control, and I was thinking that it would be nice to give little potted rosemary plants to our guests. There will be a little sign that says, “Take a piece of our garden home with you.”

Please disregard the neighbor's overgrowth on the left. We're planning to send a formal complaint letter to the county so that he will finally have take care of it. He hasn't taken care of his property in years and told us the one or two times that he stopped by that he was planning to mow his yard. Uhh, yeah. It's not much fun to constantly battle his foliage, plus it's a haven for mosquitoes.  



Some more exciting news on the home front - we should have our siding completed sometime around July. This should fix our leaky family room window situation, which I'm pretty concerned about because of the weather forecast for tonight:

THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR SOME STRONG TO SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS
LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT AS A COLD FRONT ARRIVES. ANY
STRONGER THUNDERSTORM COULD BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LOCALLY
DAMAGING WINDS AND HAIL. IN ADDITION, HEAVY RAIN COULD ACCOMPANY
THIS SYSTEM WHICH MAY RESULT IN LOCALIZED BUT BRIEF FLOODING. AT
THIS TIME, THE GREATER CHANCE FOR A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM APPEARS TO
BE ACROSS DELAWARE AND MARYLAND TO PERHAPS INTO SOUTHEASTERN
PENNSYLVANIA.


Jay sealed up the chicken coop today, which was having some leaking issues along the back of the coop. So hopefully our chickypoos will be safe and dry tonight.

I'm planning to post a recipe soon, but that's it for now.