Thursday, June 25, 2009

Housewife stuff

I wish I could talk like Mia Michaels. She is a contemporary choreographer and judge on the show "So You Think You Can Dance" and I just love the way she words things! Her similes are precise, descriptive, unexpected, and beautiful! She'll say things like, "She's like a poodle" for a certain dance and you'll totally understand exactly what she's going for! I love it. I wish I could talk like Mia Michaels.

I went shopping the other day and found these great Bermuda shorts from American Eagle. Florida attire is more beachy than Texas (for obvious reasons) and my typical jeans, heels, and a tank top just didn't seem to be right. Now, I have cute shorts, a tank top, and heels. Yay!

By the way, Jessica Simpson does not walk in her heels the same way I do! Her super cute shoe line is just a sprained ankle waiting to happen! I don't know how she does it.

I discovered I shall always shop for workout clothes at TJ Maxx! I found some very nice black workout pants and two oh-so-fun tie-dye tops that I can wear without soaking one of my nice bras - and look cute doing it! Some of my tank tops I've packed, already being old, have really taken a beating with zumba (the most fun cardio workout ever!) and no longer hold shape. I also discovered Wal Mart has some very decent workout clothes too! Maybe some new yoga pants in the future...

Due to a miscommunication on a text, I planned a whole week of salads (thinking my hubby wanted lower carb dinners for a while, rather than just that one evening) and have called it Salad Week!

First, I replicated a fantastic salad we had at Firefly (nice restaurant in PCB) with sweet butter lettuce, strawberries, goat cheese, and warm butter pecan dressing. Smooth, succulent, and mouth-watering.

Last night, I had a great time making what I've called "Sweep the Kitchen Salad." Inspired by Lynn's odd but so-good salad of avocadoes and chicken, etc., I started with farmer's market cucumbers, tomatoes, and red peppers. I added some purple onion, watermelon, and fresh basil. Then, I threw in some fresh-picked blueberries and almond slivers. I put it all on a bed of butter lettuce and topped with some diced chicken and a little lemon juice. I loved it! Rob was a little less loving of the salad due to the basil surprise he got, but regardless it was really fun to make - so colorful and happy to bask in all that fresh produce glory!


I served with sourdough french loaf, sliced and oven-toasted with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. For dessert, I made lemon-blueberry cobbler with a touch of cardamom in the topping, served with homemade ice cream. Oh yeah!

Tonight is Thai chicken salad with peanuts and lime. I love that I can be a housewife!

We love living here!


With the trampoline re-stitched so that we don't have to delicately traverse the boat, we went sailing with Rob's parents! The boat looks better with the jib, but the pulley was twisted and we didn't want to take the mast down again. ugh. That's my least favorite part!

video

The dogs jumped in the truck and posed for a hilarious picture!



You can not visit the Florida panhandle and not go to the beach!


Gus will swim pretty far out with Rob.



Disclaimer: This post is not intended to make anyone envy our beautiful lives at the beach. I apologize if I have made any of my readers "stumble." ;-)

Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe

Recipe from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski. With my own modifications included.

SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES
MAKES 12 CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk


BUTTERCREAM
MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)

2 tablespoons milk

Mix all ingredients together.

CARAMEL DRIZZLE

½ Cup Brown Sugar

½ Cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Butter

½ cup Cream

Mix topping ingredients and cook over medium heat.

Boil for about 4 minutes (test it and just undercook the “soft ball” stage a little).

Place the pan with the caramel in a cold water bath and stir vigorously (beat it with a spoon) until creamy caramel texture.


For the cupcakes:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.


In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes (Mine were done at 18 minutes). Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.) Top each cupcake with a caramel candy (optional), sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (not optional and so good!), and serve.

Rob's 30th Birthday


So, for those of you who don't know, Friday we celebrated Rob's 30th birthday! Being in this lovely house, I was just itching to host a party! I planned a surprise birthday party complete with fancy cupcakes and even a pinata! It was so fun! Rob's parents came in town that weekend, so the celebration got to include them too! Here are some pictures. And yes, that's confetti we threw when Rob got home!

I made the adorable dessert hamburgers (originally from domestic goddess Shelby Jaedicke).


I also found a great recipe for the salted caramel cupcakes I had in Seaside! These are YUM!


Additionally, I made chocolate peanut butter cupcakes courtesy of Barefoot Contessa.

The cupcakes were all decorated beautifully by Rob's talented mother with the Jestice's great selection of decorating tools.

Heidi was the lookout.

Lynn made the basil watermelon coolers.

And Sarah was the "bun nazi" :-)

We even wore party hats!

Pinata time!

Yea, it's an X-Men pinata.

Dump truck full of candy!

Don't you wish you had a fun birthday party too? I do!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Date

Rob is so wonderful! Friday afternoon, he calls and says he's coming home early and we're driving to Seaside with the top down to hang out at the beach there. OK! I apply lots of sunscreen (I'm really getting tan here in Florida!) and change into my swimsuit. Rob drives by Pier Park on the way so I can pick up a beach hat I spotted last weekend and regretted not buying for our poolside and beachside lounging.

Rob treats me to a late late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water (which is bluer down here). I get a fruity drink - yum! Then, we browse the shops that have always been closed in our off-season trips to Seaside - pretty! We stroll the beach and pick a nice spot, set up chairs and begin our very strenuous activity of "going to the beach." Rob voices how he appreciates that "going to the beach" is considered an activity. One person can say, "I kayaked two miles along the coast." And another can say, "I sat around." But both say, "I went to the beach." We like the sitting around aspect of "going to the beach."

After a long rough afternoon of the beach, we grab a cupcake from an airstream trailer set up like a little shop. It is amazing!! It's a caramel cupcake with white buttercream frosting topped with sea salt! Dude! Great mix of sweet and salty! And I must must must find a way to recreate this! We see some guys inflating a big screen at the base of the amphitheater and find that they're showing Kung Fu Panda at 8pm. Hmm... Rob makes an executive decision that we shall place our chairs (strategically so we can smooch and not be too obvious), go to the tapas bar we saw earlier, sit outside, drink and eat, then enjoy Jack Black as a cute and fuzzy kung fu enthusiast. What a fun date!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sequence of Events

I realized (thanks to Lindsey) that it may be unclear what is going on. We are presently housesitting for a family in the squadron who is in Germany for the summer. I'm so glad we don't have to live in TLF the entire time we're here not knowing. And renting a house on the beach is certainly more expensive than this place.

Also, we still don't know. Per the usual. Apparently the waiver hasn't been signed by the very high-ups and until that happens, they won't know what options are available for Rob to match with his preferences.

I have discovered that I like things to look forward to and get a little frustrated when I can only look towards the next 24 hours. It was very enlightening. Rob is helping me live in the present a little more and be content with each moment. And I'm helping him to be more optimistic about the future even amid possible and probable disappointment. It's truly wonderful to KNOW that you're better with someone - Rob and I help each other to become better and I actually love him more every day (I don't know how that's possible because I loved him a ton the day we got married and yet I love him more today.)

I've also got a few things to look forward to. I am close to a new yoga studio with an excellent teacher and am loving getting into yoga again (and am very very sore from this week!). I am planning on keeping up the beautiful landscaping at the house with some more flowers and nice gardening. And I've been cleaning, ordering, and slightly redecorating the house, making it look nice. All very happy, very pretty things to look forward to.

So, here's your little tidbit for the day - live in the moment. Be content with where you are right now. And enjoy it.

I Found My Thrill...



On blueberry hill....

My Dad always liked that song. :-) Well, there wasn't much of a hill, but there was certainly a thrill as Heidi and I went to "pick your own berries." 

Having just crude directions from Michelle, I was unsure if I could find the place, it would be open, or if it even existed, but we set out! The dirt road was where it was supposed to be and the long driveway gave us the heebie jeebies until it opened to a parking area and shack. The empty  shack had a note posted of how much to pay for what weight of berries and to slip the money in a provided envelope under the door. Wow! What an honor system! We each grabbed a provided bucket and went to the marked available-for-picking rows and got to work!


I'd never seen a blueberry bush before and now I love them! They're really beautiful! More like landscaping than a weedy vine. Very nice. These were some clusters from the not-ripe-yet row.

Each of us got a bucket-full of blueberries - over 6 pounds each! We checked the chart and slipped the required amount plus a little tip under the door. We figured $10 from each of us was a pretty good bargain compared to $4 for a pint at the grocery store!

As soon as I got home, I whipped out some of my homemade vanilla ice cream (the Jestices have a sweet ice cream maker) and enjoyed my freshly picked blueberries in heaven.

Camp Awesome



Our lovely summer home that Rob has dubbed Camp Awesome (Fort Awesome's TDY location) is... well... awesome!


So... here's some pictures of Camp Awesome.

This is the pool. Yes, that's a hot tub in the back. There's also a slide just out of the photo.


We even have room to put the boat! We're getting the trampoline resewn so our legs don't slip through if we don't step just right. I've also been able to clean it. Waxing is the next step.

This is Lucy (the Jestice dog) and her new love, Gus.



This is one of my very favorite features of the house! The kitchen!


Plus... dah dah dah DAH!... a walk-in pantry! There's a light and everything!


As you can see, we're very blessed to be able to stay in such a wonderful house!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vintage

Check out the cool vintage ads I got downtown! Definitely frame-worthy!
7up
You like it... it likes you!

This one came from a November 1941 issue of Esquire.



The ad copy reads,
What every man wants to know about a woman...
That she appreciates
The care with which
He chooses flowers
For her
As well as the care
With which he
Chooses and uses
Whiskey for himself.
* * *
Men of good taste
Appreciate the "Extra Age"
Advantage of Old Schenley
Bottled in Bond

Brunches

I've got another foodie post for you. I was determined to try Chef Imondi's before we left town... and now it looks like I've got plenty of time... but we went for brunch on Saturday.

I got excited when we walked in and found white tablecloths, a nice waterfall wall, and elegant seating by the window. So far so good! The menu was good with offerings like eggs benedict (yea, those of you that know me know I didn't make it past that point on the menu before deciding what to order!), New Orleans-style beignets, and cute sandwiches for lunch. I decided on the four course breakfast which included coffee, beignets, eggs benedict, and my pick of the dessert case. mmm.

The beignets arrived and were good. They were not the light and fluffy, yet hearty beignets I recall from Cafe du Monde, but had good texture and sweetness, like thick donuts. Then, oh-so-excited! my eggs benedict arrives! The hollandaise is a little separated, but I know from Martin that it can still have good flavor without the perfect texture. First few bites were good, but then the separating sauce became too much and everything started to taste like butter. Why is that bad, do you ask? Because eggs benedict is supposed to be a lovely mixing of textures and flavors with crunchy and yeasty english muffins, salty and hearty ham, solid white and runny yellow poached eggs, with creamy, buttery hollandaise.

So, I was disappointed with my buttered, grilled, and flattened english muffin and rapidly separating-before-my-very-eyes hollandaise sauce. All in all, it was more of a short order grill quality of breakfast in a fancy setting. Maybe we'll try their lunch sometime.

Then, after we moved in to the Jestice House (more on that later) I was so happy because it was very close to one of my favorite Panama City places - Sweet Tease which does have a very tasty brunch and eggs benedict with crab cakes in lieu of ham (tasty!). We drove over to get some Sunday brunch and found a "For Rent" sign in the window! Noooooooo!!! How sad!!! I didn't even get to say goodbye... *sniff*