Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tranquil Tuesday

When E-Boogie and I first started dating I lived at The Nook in Dupont Circle and he was just up the hill in Adams-Morgan. We had very hectic schedules. At one point we came up with a plan to unplug. We fondly named it Tranquil Tuesday. We unplugged. No TV. No cell phones. No computers. We ignored the home phones. It was glorious. Everything could wait for one day. We would read and just be quiet together.

I encourage you all to take a just one night off from everything and be quiet. Read. Paint. Sing. Dance. Enjoy the quiet. Journal. Skip your blogs. Turn off Twitter. Ignore Facebook requests. Do yoga. Remember to thank God for your blessings and just enjoy the night.

I wish that I could say that we are really good at taking our own medicine and hold Tranquil Tuesday weekly. We don't. But it is a great idea, don't you think?

Thanks to all of my Book Club friends for suggesting such great books. I'm enjoying this one and just got to the section about Disney. Wild what EPCOT stands for. My reading is my most sacred quiet time.

The Irresistible Henry House: A Novel

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tayloe White

In the Book of Common Prayer, one of my favorite prayers is in the Compline service on page 134. Compline is said as the last prayer of the evening, way after evening prayer and just before you tuck yourself into bed. It is said every evening and the repetition of this prayer has stayed with me long after my three years working at the church.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, sooth the suffering, pity the afflicted...

and this last part is the most important one when I think of my precious cousin

shield the joyous;
and all for your love's sake. Amen

Have you ever met someone who just brings light into the room when they enter. You want to be near them, like a moth to fire because they are so radiant? Well, I won the golden ticket with my precious Tayloe. Not only are we cousins but we are family. (Song stuck in head now.) She is the most joyful person, so much so that I pray for her to stay joyous. Isn't that a lovely image. A shield to stay joyful and ward off all of the ugly yuck that life brings. I am starting to envision a cool costume now. Tayloe's shield would be WAY sparkly. Momma and I lucked out this summer when she happened to be passing through with her family at Lake Michigan.  Connected by Facebook Mom figured it out that she was on her way north to Walloon from Florida. She told her to come and surprise me. 

Tayloe's mother and Momma are first cousins. Peggy is third over on the right from Momma and Daddy. Making us first cousins once removed, or second cousins. But the best part is we love each other like crazy and are friends. Craziest, crazy part, we never met until I was out of college when she was interning in DC. The miles between Kalamazoo to Jacksonville kept us apart. It was love at first squeal though. She had heard of me for sure. I guess I stole her name, since I was born first. I lucked out getting her name.

Tayloe was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I was her flower girl. Yes, I was a twenty-something flower girl. It was the best because I got to squeeze up close to her at the alter. It's a long story, so grab that passport. Tay had asked if I would be a bridesmaid. Honored, I said yes. Sadly, my step-father was dying at the time of her wedding and we didn't know how long so I told her that I didn't think it would be wise to say yes to the wedding adventures. But as fate would have it, my amazing employer at the time let us all have an extra day off during the weekend of Tayloe and Jonathan's wedding. I called Peggy's sister Liz asking if we could surprise the snits out of Tayloe. Liz picked me up at the airport and I spent the night without Tayloe knowing. The next morning was the bridesmaid's luncheon.  I sat in the car for what felt like an hour. I snuck in and it was truly one of my most favorite memories we share. The snits were indeed surprised.  It was awesome and I love that we pulled off this caper to end all capers. Neatest part, she had a bridesmaids gift for me at the party. Monogrammed.

I have seen Tayloe grow so much over the years as a woman, mother and wife. She is truly gifted when it comes to her 9 to 5 job, an artist and she is finally getting recognized for her work. I've seen her blossom as well and this video is such a gift, because in it, you can see her sparkle.

I took my own little joyful video when she was setting up her exhibit in Michigan. Enjoy the show and if you are interested in purchasing her work take a look at www.tayloewhite.com. I'm investing in some poppies soon.

Thank you Momma for your Facebook addiction. Without which we wouldn't have had such a fun few days with this joyful creature and her fellas. I pray for shields for all of my joyous friends and to always keep asking, "what will you do with your one wild and precious life."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Birthday Wishes to E-Boogie

Happy Birthday to my sweet husband fondly known as E, E-Boogie, Charlie, Uncle Charlie, Somerville and recently @MrBaltiville on Twitter.

I was recently in LA and got to hang out with one of our best men. Todd reminded me of our wedding day and how E's voice cracked while saying his vows. He said he could just tell that we were really, truly in love. It is a day I'll never forget and this photo says it all. E had just yelled a resounding, "Whoooohoo!" walking down the aisle and the photographer nailed my reaction. You are the most incredible man I've ever known. My nephew Brett after seeing this photo said, "You guys look so happy." It's pretty awesome that we found each other. And today I celebrate you with a list of things I love about you.

You are my compass when I get lost.

Your smile warms my heart.

You dance around the island at Stone Hill dance party U.S.A.'s.

I love how you really get to know people everywhere we go. You are an amazing listener.

You work harder than anyone I know. Your dedication to your job is truly admirable, even though I miss your face a bunch I do appreciate how much pride you take in your profession.

You have a great sense of humor.

You have really, really great friends.

You love to travel. I love that you have lived all over the world and that you live for the beach.

I love that we enjoy the same kind of stuff. Hiking in the rain for instance.

I love that my friends and family LOVE you. 

I love that you have a great eye for design, work on your car, go to the junk yard and fix anything that is broken. It's hot.

You are so friendly and helpful.

You love the finer things in life. Good wine.

Great food and conversation.


You love Stone Hill.

You love to cook and inspire others to cook.

You love your family. And I'm so lucky that your family loved me and made me feel welcome the first time you introduced us.

You finished your Masters this year. I'm so proud of you.

It has been an incredible year. You deserve all the best on your birthday and this year. Cheers to you my sweet friend. I love you.

Thanks to Jean and Charles for bringing Eric into the world 37 years ago today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Orleans Love

I had a work trip in New Orleans last October. I just had to bring @MrBaltiville so we could experience the city together. My grandparents had their honeymoon in NOLA. My brother used to go to wild parties there by way of Ole Miss. And mother, well she has more stories about New Orleans than anyone. I called Daddy from Jackson Square and he was a wealth of knowledge and said, look up. Jackson Square has the oldest apartments in the country. The shops were on the first floor and the floors above are all apartments. How beautiful are these iron gates and balconies? I've been told that many of these gates were made in Baltimore.
We ate our way through the city in between my busy work schedule at the convention center, which is ginormous by the way. From a tourism expert standard, New Orleans has a great hospitality community. From the dishwashers to the trolley car drivers, they are all very much invested in their city. We took the trolley everywhere and our car driver was hands down the most patient woman. Tourists ask the same damn questions over and over. Imagine. And this darling woman had a smile on her face like it was the first time she had ever been asked, "How do you get to Cafe du Monde." Bless her heart! 

Hands down our favorite dinner spot was Jacques-Imos Driving through the Garden District was only the beginning of the highlights. Two words, alligator cheesecake! We also went to The Maple Leaf down the street after dinner and saw @PapaGrowsFunk only to find out that they hit the 8x10 here in Baltimore on occasion. What was on tap? Dogfish Head from Delaware.

We hit a million other restaurants and enjoyed Luke, John Besh's latest brasserie. This is one cookbook I don't own, but if the cookbook fairy wanted to send this to me I'd be psyched.

The Muffuletta from Central Grocery was totally worth all of the hype. The mixture of flavors all smashed together on the best bread was to die for good! Who knew pickled caulliflower could be so tasty on a sammy. We sat next to a woman who had been there 20 years before and was worried it wouldn't taste the same. She assured us it did.

Many thanks to all the kind people of New Orleans who have been through so much. You are a graceful, gritty people and we long to return and visit you again soon. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pear Chutney

With the harsh summer we've had in Baltimore I wasn't sure if my pear trees would hang in there and produce fruit. Half the leaves dropped and it looked like fall in the middle of July. But, praise God, we had a great pear harvest, and early.

We have three pear trees, two figs and one apple on Stone Hill "farm". Our little third of an acre feels like a farm compaired to our non-existent yard in DC. We live in a 160 year old stone home that overlooks the Mt. Vernon Mill.

The whole canning process is pretty fast. Last summer was my first attempt and it took me forever. This year I felt like a pro and was done in a few hours. Make sure you have two big lobster pots. And start the process by sterilizing your cans. Boil in two batches. One just with the glass jars, two with the lids and rings. Leave them out of the way to dry while you make the chutney. It took me three stores to find half pint Ball jars. Save yourself the trouble and go to Walmart. They have absolutely everything you need. Especially this. My darling friend The Party Bee sent me this kit with a jar of Pepper Jelly in the mail and a sweet note that said, "I'll trade you Pepper Jelly for Fig Preserves." She and another southern girlfriend came to Stone Hill last summer, on the hottest of days and we felt like our Victorian Grandmother's canning, sweating and enjoying the company and good, hard work.

The pears are apple-like and perfect for making chutney. I peeled half and left the skin on the other half. I just love the color of these pears and think I need to find this in a paint color.
I'm partial to ginger and the smoky flavors of curry powder. When making our fig preserves last summer, I thought, if I can can figs, I know I can make chutney. So I went to my wall of cookbooks and got out all of the most southern ones I could find. I grew up on Major Grey's Chutney baked over chicken and served with basmati rice. We would put raisins, toasted almonds and crunchy noodles to top off each dish. I love that my mom got us into curious flavors at such a young age. I didn't find any recipes that had mangos or apricots in them, so I looked on the jar of Major Grey's and winged it. I also used The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook as a guide. It is one of the best gifts I've given my husband. He loves it and I get to use it.

Heat up your spices and wet ingredients first.

7 hard pears, 4 peeled and cored, 3 with skins
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup dark or golden raisins
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons curry-you could use half a tablespoon if you don't like curry or leave out all together
Juice of one lemon, room temp
Lemon peel, cut in thin strips
3-4 fingers of giner
1 cup dark Karo syrup
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Vadalia onion, small
1 cup Turkish apricots, minced in food processor
1/2 pound of pecans

Chop and add all the other items together. Cook for 30-40 minutes until it thickens slightly. The house will smell amazing.

The most important part is not to touch the lips of the jars. Use the funny red looking thing that goes into the jar so you can ladle in your chutney, making sure you leave about an inch at the top.

There are all types of "thwimp-pidges" in the canning kit. The grabby tongs allow you to put the hot jars back into the water to seal them. The tong, tong, tong, tong, tongs are great for scooping up the lids in the water. The jar buster, is the red dipped one that seals the ring onto the lid and you have to make sure they are very, very tight. And finally the little magnet-a-doodle helps you grab the lids without touching anything.

Finally, put the jar back in a large lobster pot to boil. Fill above the jars by 1.5 inches. Boil these babies for at least 30 minutes. Remove them from the hot water with the grabby tongs and wait to hear the pops of the lids. A glorious sound. If they don't pop, put them back into the water and do over.

Thanks to my sweet friend Kimberly for inspiring me to can last summer and our trusty pal Marge for her sous chef expertise.