Thursday, December 30, 2010

Same Old Lang Syne

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Did you know this song is actually a true story?

Did you know I love this song so very much?

Did you know that I used to date someone, and we swore this would be us one day?

I'll bet you didn't. 

You can read all about it here:

Well, not the part about the person I used to date...but you know....

Bottoms Up!


Il Est Presque La Saint-Sylvestre!!

It's almost time for:

I am so incredibly blessed to have a wonderful party to attend every year.  A place to watch the clock transport us from year to year with those I love dearly.

We will be surrounded by friends, as the bubbles begin to flow.

Do you have anyone to:

this year? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Westie Wednesday

Just blogging up a storm today!  Don't mind me :)

Christmas was a great success.  Mother loved her new camera, and we had to take Louis for a spin in his NEW CHRISTMAS OUTFIT!

(isn't it presh?  his Nana gave it to him.  his walk was more of a skip when he was wearing it.  i'm pretty sure he liked it :)

(we went back to his favorite park)

While we were there it started to snow!  It was actually snowing quite a bit in the picture of Mother and I above, but we couldn't capture the snow on film :(

(when we got home, Louis couldn't make it to his bed.  he needed a nap...IMMEDIATELY!)

I anxiously watched the snow fall, and debated on whether or not Louis may need one of these if it kept up:

The snow FINALLY stopped.  The roads FINALLY were cleared. 

I had a lovely Christmas visit, but we were ready to head home:

I hope your holiday travels were safe and sound!



Plantations on the James

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL holiday!  No matter what you and yours celebrate, I do hope it was/is lovely :)  

Louis and I celebrate Christmas.  This means that we spend months and months running around looking for "just the right" gift for the people in our lives.  And then we wrap it up.  And then we pack up the car and travel to Big City, VA.  And then we present our gifts.   And then we PRAY that everyone likes them. 

This year we spent some extra time in Big City, VA, and Mother and I changed things up a bit!  We usually have a few "traditions" that we've stuck to. This year we decided to scrap a few of those, and to visit some plantations in the area.  A little history lesson never hurt anyone :)

First, we visited Shirley Plantation:

Shirley Plantation was amazing for so many reasons.  The MOST amazing, to me anyway, is that the same family has lived on this plantation for ELEVEN generations!  Can you imagine?  The Hill Carter family has never once left the plantation.  They still live there today!  It is also the oldest plantation in Virginia.

There is a precious little tradition that we learned about.  One of the Carter girls wasn't 100% sure that her ring was a real diamond.  Her finacĂ© was a bit of a gambler, and she had her suspicions.  So, she attempted to scratch her initials into a glass window in the formal dining room.  Well, it worked!  The diamond was real.  And from then on, EVERY SINGLE CARTER GIRL HAS DONE THE VERY SAME THING.  What a neat tradition!  And I got to see each and every one of those initials in the various windows in the formal dining room.  It was like looking back over the last 100 years with a bird's eye view :) 

Another neat story we learned about comes from the Civil War era.  While all of the Hill Carter men were off at war, the Union soldiers helped themselves to the lawn (and the interior) of the plantation.  There were hundreds of wounded, and the Hill Carter women said to themselves "even though they are our enemy, they are someone's husband.  we would hope someone would be good to our men if they were injured".  And do you know what those FINE southern women did?  They took water, and bread, and bandages out to THE ENEMY.  Yes.  They sure did.  Excellent breeding, and strong survival techniques, if you ask me.

Because of their selfless acts toward the injured solders, General George McClellan sent over an official document that protected all of the Hill Carters, and their plantation, from harm during the remainder of the war. 

Hence the fact the original house still stands today.  Quite a lesson can be learned here I do believe.

Next, we went to Berkeley Plantation:

Berkeley Plantation was fun to visit because so many historic things happened here!  The original settlement was attacked by indians, and most all settlers were killed in 1622.  Then, in 1862, Taps was written on the back lawn of Berkeley Plantation.  The "technical" First Thanksgiving was held on shores of the James River in 1619.  William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President and Benjamin Harrison V, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, were born in this home.  It is also the ancestral home of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. President. 

Let me just say that standing in each room, walking through the halls, it was a bit overwhelming!  Granted, this home has gone through many renovations through the years.  Unlike Shirley Plantation, it was not spared during the Civil War.  Berkeley served as headquarters for General George McClellan and the Federal Army of the Potomac during the summer of 1862. Those soldiers absolutely trampled the grounds. I mean trampled! And destroyed the main house.  Damn Northerners. Sorry. Forgive me.

Needless to say, the plantation was severely damaged, and was in great disrepair when John Jamieson purchased it.  Mr. Jamieson and his family were no relation to the Harrisons, whose family homestead Berkeley Plantation originally was.  HOWEVER....John Jamieson did have a tie to the plantation!  In 1862 John served as a drummer in the band that accompanied General McClellan's army. 

Little known fact...when Jamieson bought the home he wanted to fill it with period antiques.  So, he reached out to a neighboring plantation that was being sold called Westover.  His wife, actually, asked if they could purchase some of the homestead pieces to put into Berkeley when they refurbished it.  The mistress of the neighboring plantation said absolutely NOT!  And the Jamieson's were forced to acquire some of the pieces in an auction held by Sotheby's.  Personally, I believe it is because the mistress of Westover Plantation wasn't about to sell her family's belongings to a Northerner.  I'm just sayin...

We didn't get a chance to walk the grounds of Westover Plantation (they do not open the home to the public), but I peeked around the hedge and was just overwhelmed by this lovely plantation!  I'm planning to go back during Garden Week so that I can see it more closely!  It was built in 1730 by William Byrd II.

I do have to say that Shirley Plantation was my favorite.  The fact that Robert E. Lee's momma was born there may, or may not, have something to do with that ;)

And now, if you are still awake, and I haven't bored you half to death, I highly recommend visiting all 3 of these plantations if you find yourself out Charles City County way anytime in the future.


Some Pho King Good Cooking!

So much to catch up on!!!  Let's see here.  I still haven't told you about making pho, have I?  Wow.  I am WAY behind.  I think this will be a Speedy Gonzales re-cap, and then we will have Westie Wednesday here in a bit.

Let's see...TWO weeks ago we made PHO in cooking class.  Daisy was our instructor:

(wearing my fabulous new chef's hat!  thank you so much Katie :)

(Daisy was jealous!  She wants a chef's hat too.  I was kind, as I am often known to be, and let her wear my chef's hat :)

(artwork to set the mood)

(Marilyn Monroe showed up with rice hats! So presh)

(we had to have a photo shoot with our hats)

(Daisy and Grace wanted their photos made as well!)

(a game that is native to Vietnam)

(Daisy has boiled the chicken for HOURS to make a tasty broth)

(letting the chicken cool)

(Marilyn Monroe and Daisy remove the chicken from the bones)

(rice noodles)

(time to make the PHO!)



I just said to MK, "what else shall I tell everyone?  what else have I done in the last 2 weeks?", and we couldn't think of anything.  Not one exciting thing to share.  Isn't that terribly sad?  I did go to Zumba.  Marilyn Monroe did purchase me a Zumba Tank Top to wear in class from now on :-o 

So, I'm like official and stuff.  And that was exciting.  But that's all the excitement I had.

I think I was shopping for Christmas.  And trying to relax or something?  That must be it.  I've relaxed myself to the point that I can't even remember.  Hmmm...

On to the next cooking class....


The next cooking class was hosted by Marilyn Monroe.  We cooked Spicy Chicken Enchiladas!  I thought they were VERY spicy, but the girls didn't think so.  I think it's the fact that I'm quite new to eating (and enjoying) peppers and onions that made it seem so spicy to me.  I surely did enjoy it :)

(have you ever noticed that Daisy & Marilyn Monroe have matching aprons?  pink and black?  well, i gave them to the girls as early Christmas prizes, since we were staring our cooking class and such.  i didn't have one for myself, but i didn't mind.  i just rotated my few aprons each class and had a lovely time.  BUT THEN...Daisy found a pink and black apron that she just KNEW i had to have.  look here at what it says!)

(and look HERE!!  it's me walking LW!  i'm so excited that i now have an apron that matches the girls!!)

(Marilyn Monroe bought us all moustaches to wear for Mexican night.  don't we look silly!)

(i had to flip my moustache around in order to drink my wine :)

(Marilyn Monroe and i shredded the chicken breasts after cooking them)

(adding the chicken to the spices in the pan)

(me, stirring the tasty enchilada mixture.  does anyone see a theme here?  clearly i didn't put my wine glass down for much of the night!)

(Marilyn Monroe showing off her Mexicano look)

(making a peanutbutter/marshmallow dessert concotion of sorts...)

(mixing in the green enchilada sauce)

(ready to go into the oven!)

I really have to say that these enchiladas are one of my favorite dishes yet!  I think the ease of making the recipe, the spiciness of the dish, and the (for the most part) healthy ingredients make this a winner.  So much flavor, and most of it coming from vegetables! 

So, there you have it!  I've got a new chef's hat, which I absolutely adore.  I've got a new apron.  AND....Daisy also gave me a fancy pants new knife for cutting things up.  Watch out friends, we've got cooking class at my house tonight...and my new red sharp knife is ready to go :-o  Pray for us!  hahaha.....  We will be making Chicken Cordon Bleu.  A very healthy version :)  I sure hope it tastes just as good as the "not so healthy" version: