Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Rain Dance...Of Sorts

Yesterday evening, I pulled off the highway and onto the country roads headed home around 6 pm. I looked down at the car's thermometer and it read 103 degrees.

Within a few minutes of driving I began to notice that there were rain clouds off in the distance. A few even appeared to be pouring down rain on some lucky area of Waller County.

The clouds grew darker as I drove home, but no rain.

As I pulled into the driveway, I once again noticed my car thermometer...only this time it read 86 degrees. Surely something must be amiss!

We watched throughout the evening as the clouds grew darker...but still no rain.

Jim decided to take advantage of the cooler temperature to begin the lawn work. He pulled out the weed eater and took care of the trimming. It hadn't been done in a while because, quite honestly, nothing is growing in this drought except sporadic groups of weeds.

Around 8 or 8:30, I noticed lightening in the skies...but still no rain.

A little while later, the thunder started but still no rain.

Finally, around 9:30, I heard a noise. Something familiar, but unlike anything I had heard in a very long time.

I went to the sliding glass door and peeked out on the deck. It was raining! Hallelujah!

Jim joked to the boys that either the weed eating or the rain dance he did in the backyard did the trick. Thank goodness, because he threatened to do the next one in his birthday suit!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Banana Pudding In a Pie

A few months back, Jessica was thumbing through one of my "Country Living" magazines and she came across a pie recipe that she asked me to make. It took me a few weeks to gather the ingredients and actually make the pie (with her help)...but we loved it.

Fast forward to last Saturday.

Kelli called me up and asked for the recipe. I couldn't find the magazine anywhere. So, I went online today and looked it up. I thought I would post it here so that next time we want to make it we will be able to find it!

Sorry, Kelli. Better late than never, huh?

Banana Pudding Pie
50 vanilla wafers
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, pod and scraped seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh whipped cream
5 Tablespoons caramel sauce, plus extra for garnish
3 medium bananas, sliced

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crush vanilla wafers and toss with brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and sea salt. Stir in melted butter and vanilla extract and press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: Chill a medium bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice water and set aside. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and sea salt together until very thick and light in color. Set aside. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Bring heavy cream, remaining 3/4 cup milk, and vanilla bean to a boil in a medium pot. Remove from heat, slowly whisk cream mixture into reserved egg mixture, pour back into pot, and stir over medium-low heat until it reaches a boil. Pour into chilled bowl, remove vanilla bean pod, and stir in gelatin mixture, butter and vanilla extract. Let cool and fold in whipped cream.

Spread caramel sauce over crust. Line with 2 1/2 bananas and top with pudding. Chill for 2 hours. Decorate with remaining banana slices and caramel.

This recipe is a little labor intensive for a pie...but it is so worth the time and effort. If you are baking for more than four people, I would go ahead and make two. They WILL come back for seconds!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Thoughts On 'The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society'

On Saturday afternoon I finished reading 'The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society'. It took me less than 24 hours to devour the book.

I almost didn't start it. I wasn't feeling well Friday night and retired to our bedroom while everyone else was watching a movie. I thought that maybe if I read a little while I would be able to drift off to sleep.

You all know that I had plenty of books to choose from!

After thumbing through the titles on my "to be read" shelf, I chose 'Guernsey'. However, once I realized that it was made up of letters...I had second thoughts. I was afraid that it would be too hard to get started, especially since I wasn't feeling well.

I need not have worried as I was hooked from the very first letter from Juliet to her editor and friend, Sidney.

Three things I took from this book:

1. I am glad that in my lifetime we have not known the horrors that so many lived during World War II. I cannot imagine hunger for which there is no food to satisfy, living in filth because there is not even a cake of soap to be had or being so cold without a way to heat your home because you have already burned everything that could be set on fire. Not that this book dwells on such...but it is mentioned by way of recollections that provide a small glimpse of life during enemy occupation.

2. My favorite quote was from Isola, "Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones." How true! Finding myself stuck in a book that disappoints is even worse than watching a movie that you keep thinking will get better but never does. Maybe because the movie only costs you two hours of your life, whereas a book costs three times as much - at least.

My second favorite quote was from Juliet to Dawsey, "Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." Books do have a way of finding me just when I need them.

3. We would do well to return to the lost art of letter writing.

Now, my dearest friends are probably laughing their heads off at that statement coming from me. I am the absolute worst at communicating in a timely manner. Even with the use of email...I rarely take the time to sit and compose one 'just because'. I mean, look at the randomness of my posts. I may post every day for two weeks and then not post again for a week and a half. I have intentions to do better, but seem to always get sidelined by something. (work, family, trips, illness)

I am no better with the telephone. I didn't call my dad for Father's Day until the day after! And I am one of those people who buy a birthday card early...and then forget to ever mail it!

Yet, I love how letters reveal so much more about the person writing than just the words on the page. You find yourself talking about things that you might would never say in person. (That can be good or it can be bad.) A handwritten letter is so personal and intimate. It is too bad we don't take the time to write. I can't even remember the last time I received a bona fide 'letter'. I get excited over anything in my mailbox that doesn't require me to write a check or that is not junk mail.

I would be curious to know if any of you still write letters. Do you keep up with friends and family by mail, email, phone or social websites (like MySpace or Facebook)? When was the last time you had a 'bona fide letter' in your mailbox? When was the last time you wrote one? Am I delusional to think that in our time of instant communication we are actually losing touch with one another?

And don't ya'll wish I could just write a book review without asking you all these questions?

Or better yet, just read my books and keep quiet about it?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June's Nightstand

Once again I am a day late (and a dollar short, as my Grandma used to say) for the party. Actually, after my stop at Half Price Books yesterday evening, I am $24 dollars short! (But four novels for the beach richer. It is all about perspective, you know.)

With everything that has been going on at our house since my last 'Nightstand' post, I do not have a lot of those books crossed off the list. I did finish "Everyone Is Beautiful" in time for the last book club over at 5 Minutes For Books...but since that fell right smack in the middle of our anniversary and Brian's graduation, I didn't get to post about it. By the time things settled down again, I had forgotten about it. It was a pretty good read. I laughed a lot as it reminded me of the days when the kids were little and I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of them...especially when we went out in public. It was a good reminder for me of what my girls are going through as they mother toddlers and also to pay closer attention to the only one that has promised to stay with me for life. (The kids do leave home, eventually. Two down, one in transition, two to launch.)

I also read "Trophy Wives Club". It was an okay read for our weekend in Port Aransas. I didn't really connect to any of the characters and thought that the ending was really stretching it to attain the result that you knew was coming all along...but at least I had no problems putting it down when it was time to play with grand babies or head off to the pool with the kids. It did make a bit of an impact on me, though. I will try to remember not to look at 'trophy wives' as only being in it for the money. What young girl doesn't want to be swept off her feet by someone she thinks will protect and cherish her for the rest of her life? For that matter, what middle aged woman doesn't want that? And what woman isn't heartbroken when her Prince Charming turns out to be an ogre?

As to novels, I still have "Rebecca", "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and "The Centurion's Wife" left from last month. (Well, that last one has been sitting for months waiting for me to catch the mood!) Oh, and I found "Where Are You Now" sitting on a shelf, I had forgotten all about it.

So, what did I add to my list last night? Some good old fashioned beach reads that should be easy to digest when we head off to Surfside next weekend. "The Starter Wife" ( I have been wanting to see the television series just because I like Debra Messing.), "Gardenia's For Breakfast" (I am so glad I found it at Half Priced. See there was a reason it wasn't in at Barnes and Noble last month.), and two Sisterchicks books - "Sisterchicks Go Brit" and "Sisterchicks in Sombreros" (A light read with a message...plus it might give me ideas as to where our next Grandma's Gone Wild trip should take us. Watch out, Girls!)

Now, if only I could be more like the gentleman in line ahead of me at Half Priced last night. He got out of there with 4 hard back books for under $5!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Joys Of Summer

Summer has arrived with a flurry of activity around our house. The end of school schedules has led to all sorts of comings and goings.

We had family in for Brian's graduation and my mom stayed until last Tuesday. While she was here, we took our annual 'Spring Break' trip with the TxFSCA to Port Aransas. Four days of sun, food and family...a perfect way to start the summer. The pool at Port Royal Ocean Resort is unbelievable. I never made it down to the beach because with three levels of pool, two hot tubs and a swim up bar for food and drinks...who needs to go anyplace else? And the condo we stayed in was fabulous. Out of the seven we have rented there over the years, this one was by far the best yet. (If you are heading to Port Royal, ask for condo 4301. It is newly remodeled and has just about every amenity you could ask for.)

Of course, this past weekend was spent celebrating Father's Day with Jim. We spent all day Saturday relaxing and watching 'The Ultimate Fighter' marathon. Yes, you read that right. I watched a whole day of MMA fighting. I could blame it on Jim and the fact that it was Father's Day weekend...but that wouldn't be the whole truth. I started watching it because of him, but really got into it. I even suggested that we buy the pay per view matches on July 11 so that I could see the two coaches from this season compete against each other. (I was a sucker for 'The Contender' it's first two seasons also. There. The awful truth is finally out.) Sunday, Jim and Derrick golfed ALL DAY in the sweltering heat. That evening, we had steaks for dinner followed by peach cobbler and striped delight. Yum!

Meanwhile, the kids have been keeping the roads hot with trips to visit friends, nights at the movies and attending volleyball games (Jessica's sister plays). Jim and I have actually had two nights out of the past four where we were home alone for the evening. We spent the first one just sitting on the deck talking - uninterrupted. (Last night, reality hit and he was on the telephone for most of the evening!)

As you can see, there hasn't been a lack of material to post about...though I can't get the pictures that I took in Port A off my memory card (they disappeared!). I have just been too 'busy' enjoying the lack of "have to's". I hope you are all enjoying a little bit of down time as well.

We will be heading to Surfside for the 4th...and, boy, am I looking forward to a week of sitting on the deck, watching the surf, soaking up some sun and enjoying the gulf breeze. Maybe I will even take a break from doing nothing and blog a little!

Happy Summer, ya'll!
Try to keep cool!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

From Birth To Graduation

I couldn't figure out how to post the video directly to the blog, so I asked Albert to load it on the family website. Click here to see the slideshow that he prepared for Brian's graduation. I can't believe he really used to be that small! (Sorry, but the rest of the pages on the website are WAY behind.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We Let The Dog Out

Friday night we had a party to celebrate Brian's graduation. Fried fish and boiled shrimp - Yum! But the hit of the party was his cake.
I ordered a bulldog...but I had no idea I was going to get a 3-D dog! He was brought over in a cardboard box and when she opened it up, it looked like a real dog in a doghouse. This was her first bulldog cake and I think he is amazing! It is rare that we get more than we expected, but this was definitely one of those times. Look at the detail.

When the time came to cut the cake...I had a little remorse. It was painful to wreck such a creation. But, lo and behold, he tasted even better than he looked. Thanks to Bridget for a wonderful touch to end a memorable day!

The Graduate

Well, he did it! Brian is now a Waller High School alum!
He even has the certificate to prove it.
We had a great (and very busy) weekend celebrating this milestone in his life.
Jim and I are so very proud of him and the man he is becoming.
Most of the family were here to help us celebrate.
Memaw and Poppy.

Pappaw Donald

Grandma June

Uncle Paul, Aunt Sharon and Casy

The rest of the family were detained by various emergencies and work situations...but were certainly missed by us all.
Congratulations Class of 2009!
(I will post pictures from the graduation party later. Ya'll have got to see his cake. It was amazing!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From Paradise To Real Life

This past weekend Jim and I took off for a last minute trip to Galveston to celebrate 28 years of wedded bliss. We spent the whole weekend in 'relaxation' mode...massages at the spa, lounging at the pool and long, uninterrupted dinners, just the two of us. Pure bliss!

Unfortunately, within hours of making it back home, Galveston seemed to have been weeks away. Lawns to be mowed and plans to be made for a graduation party this Friday night. Dinners to be cooked and work to be done to prepare for our family who will be in town for the celebration. To top it all off, Kelli got sick on Monday night and I went over to help her out with the kids while Matt was at work. (3 AM, people!) The grand babies came back home with me on Tuesday morning and spent the night with us so that she could get a little more rest. She is here today and they will all go home tonight...hopefully to a good night's sleep. (Jim wanted to let me get some sleep last night, so he offered to stay up with Maddux. He just didn't know that it would be until 3 AM.) Kelli is trying to let Matt get some sleep today while they are over here.

Well, that is what we have been up to since my last post. And I bet you all thought it was just too boring around here to have anything to post about, didn't you?

I don't know if I will make it back on until after the weekend's festivities. If not, ya'll have a wonderful week!