Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ten Things that Made Me Smile Today

(In the order in which the smiles occurred……)
1. Orange tabby cats rolling on concrete warmed by the sun.

2. The sounds of recess at a nearby elementary school.

3. eMail from my Mom.

4. Lemon bars.

5. Two Netflix movies in the mailbox.

6. Mailing a package with a handcrafted item inside to someone who has no idea it’s coming.

7. Intense orange poppies growing wild along Northern California highways.

8. Two sports bras for the price of one at Target.

9. The smell of newly mown grass.

10. The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Baby Girl Quilt

As promised here are photos of the second ragged quilt. I loved working with the little girl colors, especially the pink gingham. I have a long-standing love for gingham for some weird reason! These quilts sew up so quickly, you can easily buy the fabric, cut out the squares, sew them together, clip the seams, and wash and dry it all in one day. Gives a great feeling of accomplishment!
I only hung the quilt on my clothesline to take a photo -- these "ragged" quilts have to be put in the dryer in order for the fabric to fray nicely.

This quilt will be sent off to Henderson, Nevada, to my niece Brittany. Her baby girl is due in early March. I can't wait to hear what she and Brandon name the baby, how much she weighs, who she looks like, and all that other fun stuff!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cajun Food - MmmmmMMMMM!

So . . . brace yourself. You may not want to read this blog if you are hungry -- unless you can afford to buy a full-fare airline ticket to Louisiana and leave immediately!

Shrimp Creole served over white rice with garlic bread, sweet corn, and a scoop of potato salad, as served at B&C Seafood in Vachere, LA. Contrary to popular opinion most Cajun food is NOT spicy. Flavorful & rich, yes, but not spicy!

Sausage and Seafood Gumbo. Gumbo is always served over rice and with a side-car of potato salad. Cajuns feel it's important that this dish is eaten correctly so my friends and I got a lesson: With a spoon scoop up some potato salad, then drag the spoon through the rice and gumbo until you have a bit of everything on it. Heaven!

Seafood Gumbo with crab legs, shrimp, oysters, and shrimp. Again, note the sidecar of potato salad. Yum! This gumbo was made by Louisianans Brent & Tookie who invited us over to their home which sits on the route of one of the many parades we saw (more about those in a later blog). The crab legs made for an extra exciting gumbo!

At another parade we had a tailgate lunch. Ruth's sister Carolyn prepared awesome pork strips which we then put inside huge Po'Boy rolls with condiments. They called these grillades. Wish I had one right now!
Speaking of Po'Boys! At Larry and Mary's house one evening we had 'em. This one is stuffed with fried shrimp, and oysters. The plate on the left has fried fish (speckled sea bass) and the famous Cajun red beans and rice.
Here's something you probably have never had. Shrimp Spiders. These are the shells of the shrimp after the meat and heads have been removed. The empty body and legs are battered and deep-fried. You can eat these like popcorn they are so good!

Mary made fried dough for breakfast at least twice and is it GOOD! We ate it with fig jam and other preserves. Breakfast was always delicious with eggs, turkey bacon, fruit, coffee, juice, and that old southern specialty - grits.

Ok, so now we need to talk CRAB BOIL. This photo shows Larry out in the back yard with his huge boiling pot.

Inside are six dozen blue crabs and "crab boil" seasoning.

After the crabs are cooked they are dumped into an insulated chest to keep them hot. We each got a plastic tray (not a plate - a tray!) and grabbed several crabs. Ruth taught us the proper way to crack the crabs. It wasn't easy at first! We had to separate the top of the body from the underside, then break the underside in half to get at the good meat. The legs we cracked open by hammering on them with the heavy end of a table knife. Juices, meat, and shells were spread from one end of the table to the other. It's hard to explain how much fun this was and how good these crabs tasted. Maybe this next photo will help!

Notice the big red tray full of shells...and I was just getting started! (Please note: this is NOT the correct way to eat a crab!)

King Cakes were on the menu for any special occasion. Not so much a cake, they are more of a bread shaped in an oval, frosted, and then covered with sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. They have an endless variety of fillings; bavarian cream was my favorite, but there was also strawberry cream cheese, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla pudding, and one even had chocolate-covered strawberries on top.

Somewhere inside a King Cake is a tiny plastic baby. The rule is that whoever finds the baby in their slice of cake gets the priveledge of buying (or making) the next one!

Another dessert: bread pudding. Yummy yummy yummy. To the left you can see a small package of "tea cookies." The bread pudding was awesome; unfortunately, I forgot to try the cookies!

Just writing about all this delicious food makes me long to be back in Cut Off, Louisiana, at the very welcoming and comfortable home of Larry & Mary St. Germaine. I have never had such a good time trying new foods.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Speaking of Louisiana....

I came across this ad in an old issue of Martha Stewart-Living (which I LOVE, by the way):

As I was saying in my earlier post, Louisiana needs tourism dollars. So, to help with the post-Katrina re-building you can help JUST by spending your next vacation in Louisiana.

In case you can't read it, the phone number on the ad above is: 1-800-933-5907 or go to the website The artist in the ad is Winton Marsalis, lending his name and image to the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism - 2006.

I love everything about this ad; it appeals to all my artistic senses, from the cool edging around the photo, to the black&white photo with the awesome shadow on the wall, to the use of an old-looking postcard for the text as well as the musician's incredibly unique signature. It's awesome! I'm going to try to copy the style for a digital scrapbook layout. It also inspired me to google Winton Marsalis and see what I could learn about him. Here's his official website. Tons of great info and if you aren't already a jazz fan, this website just may convince you to give Winton's music a listen.

Visit Louisiana!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

I've crossed another item off my Bucket List! I spent Mardi Gras IN Louisiana!! This picture shows me standing in front of the apartments that my friends, Judy, Ruth, Sabrina, and I stayed in on our first night in Louisiana. Ruth's friends, Kent and Tookie, let us use their apartments right IN the French Quarter!
The first thing we did the next morning was head directly over to the famous Cafe du Monde and have their world-famous beignets. Ohhhhh, they were heavenly. They are a square donut-type pastry, but even better tasting, sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar, and served warm straight from the fryer. Amazing!

That meal sort of set the stage for the rest of our week-long trip which turned out NOT to be all about Mardi Gras, but all about Cajun food! Check out all the stuff they serve at the restaurant/market in the photo below!Truly, the food is the reason to go to Louisiana, if you ask me, the food and the incredibly friendly people. I'm the sort that wants to try local cuisine, especially if there's something I've never had, and I had ample opportunity for it on this trip. More on that later!This is a picture of (allegedly) Brad Pitt's house. I don't remember exactly what parish or little town this house is in, and I say allegedly because although we drove by this house a number of times we never did see anyone outside, let alone Brad, Angelina, or their kids. Isn't it a beauty, though? And totally surrounded by very old, very stately and gorgeous oak trees hung with moss. I knew Brad lived somewhere near New Orleans from hearing about his Make it Right Foundation on the Ellen Degeneris show. The foundation is raising money for post-Katrina re-building and Ellen (who was born in New Orleans) spent most of January helping raise money for the foundation.

Speaking of Katrina damage, I'll be posting some photos of the damage I saw when Larry drove Ruth and I through the 9th Ward, which was hard hit. I'm still going through the nearly 1,000 photos I came home with, weeding out the bad ones (way more than I like to admit!) and I'll also be receiving copies of the pictures taken by my friends, so I may post some of those as well.

Also speaking of Katrina damage, let it be known that Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, is NO LONGER underwater!! The people there are very anxious for tourism to return to its pre-Katrina level because so many people make their living from tourist dollars. I HIGHLY recommend a visit there; you will love it. From the lovely old plantations, to the fascinating Bayou, to the FOOD, and the crazy Cajun patois, you'll love it!!

I'll be posting more photos and info about my trip there in future posts so I hope you'll check back soon! (Better yet, go to and register to recieve automatic notification whenever I update my blogs!) You won't be sorry!!