May 25, 2011

Geeeeeking Out Like A Schoolgirl.

 Oh, Ian Somerhalder, you are too damn beautiful.

 You would make me the best way possible.

 I love "The Barry Gibb Talk Show".

Screw Finchel.  THIS was the best moment of Glee last night.
(Side Note to Darren Criss (aka the guy in the red shirt above):
Hey Darren.  Yeah, I've seen pics and I know you can grow quite 
the curly afro.  Bring it back, cause I dig that.  K, bye.)

Strawberry Love: Strawberry Fruit Pops


  • 1 cup strawberry juice or puree
  • 3 oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 oz. honey
  • Fresh fruit as desired (bananas, kiwi, mandarin oranges, grapes or pineapple all work well)


In a bowl, whisk together the strawberry juice, yogurt and honey until the honey is dissolved.

Prepare an ice pop mold according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For 2-oz. pops, place a few pieces of your desired fresh fruit along the sides of each slot, then insert the sticks. Slowly pour about 1 1/2 fl. oz. of the juice mixture into each slot, reaching just to the fill line. Tap the pop mold on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the mixture is solid, 7 to 20 minutes. To test, insert a toothpick near a stick.

Remove the ice pops from the mold according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat to make the remaining ice pops. Makes six 2-oz. pops.

Strawberry Love & Strawberry Tarts

This is the perfect time of year for strawberries.  While it is true that you can get strawberries pretty much year round, this particular time of year is when they are at their best.  One thing I always do when choosing a carton of strawberries (after looking the carton over to see that they all look nice) is smell them.  I know, I know...even my friends give me strange looks sometimes because of it.  But the smell of delicious, ripe, perfect berries is quite intoxicating to me.  If you can't smell the sweetness, then odds are those berries won't taste all that great. 

I know you've gotten strawberries before that look all pretty, shiny and crimson before only to take them home, cut them up and realize they're all white and unripe inside.  Smelling the carton is a great way to distinguish ripe from not-quite-there-yet.

Random Strawberry Facts:  A strawberry isn't actually considered a "berry" since the seeds are on the outside, each of which are considered it's own fruit.  An average strawberry has around 200 seeds on the outside.  One cup of unsweetened strawberries averages around 55 calories. 

It would be very interesting to try either a White Alpine Strawberry or a Pineberry.

A Pineberry looks like an inside out strawberry with it's white or pale pink flesh and red seeds and is actually supposed to taste similar to a pineapple/strawberry mix. Click on any of the links to buy Pineberry plants!

A White Alpine Strawberry is white or golden in color and has yellow seeds.

I've never actually seen either berry, but they do look very interesting.  Maybe one day I can try one!  Click on any of the links to buy White Alpine Strawberries

These is one of my favorite Summer Strawberry recipes:

Fresh Strawberry Tart

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • 7 tbs. cold water

For the lemon curd:

  • Grated zest and juice of 4 large lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup red currant jelly
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. water
  • 3 cups strawberries, stems removed


Stir together the flour, salt and sugar to begin making your pastry. Add the butter cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg with the vanilla and 2 Tbs. of the cold water. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the egg and about 2 more Tbs. cold water. Mix lightly with the flour, adding more ice water as needed until the mixture holds together. Pat into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd: In a heavy (non-aluminum) saucepan over high heat, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and butter. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from the heat. In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat together the eggs and salt until fluffy. Slowly beat in the hot lemon mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd. Refrigerate until cool.

On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a round about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer to an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, trim the edges to make them flush with the pan rim, and prick the bottom in several places with a fork. Press a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side down, onto the crust and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Bake the foil-lined pastry shell for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until lightly browned, about 6 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the jelly with the water. Remove the sides from the tart pan, then slide the pastry shell off the base onto a serving plate. Spoon about 2 cups of the lemon curd into the shell (reserve any remaining curd for another use). Arrange the strawberries on top, stem end down. Brush the strawberries with the melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes, before serving.


May 23, 2011

Quotes & the like....

"The Universe is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be. Our contemplations of the cosmos stir us. There’s a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as if a distant memory of falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries. The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff."

Carl Sagan

"The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality."

Arthur Schopenhauer

"People say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. ‘For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.’
If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.
They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.’
So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself.’"

George Carlin

May 18, 2011

Plantation Obsession - The San Francisco Plantation

The year was 1827. Just 40 miles downriver, New Orleans was celebrating its first Mardi Gras. Elisée Rillieux, a free man of color and a smart visionary, began buying tracts of land and slaves to establish a sugar plantation in St. John the Baptist Parish. But Elisée never intended to be a planter himself. Like his brother Francois, who in 1822 created an estate that later became Godchaux Plantation, he was more of a speculator and a good one at that. Only three years later Elisée sold the plantation to Edmond Bozonier Marmillion and his partner Eugène Lartigue for the enormous sum of $100,000 dollars, collecting an estimated $50,000 dollar profit.

Edmond, in debt from day one, immediately began establishing a professional sugar production. Although he became a successful planter of large crops, Edmond remained in financial troubles throughout his twenty-six years of ownership. He continued to acquire slaves and purchase additional swamp land, but invested little in modern sugar machinery. During the prosperous 1850s, the plantation became an economical success. But tragedy had long overshadowed Edmond's family life. In 1843 Edmond’s wife Antoinette was dead from tuberculosis, a disease contracted by almost all of her eight children as well. Six of them died throughout a period of just over twenty years.
To provide his surviving sons Valsin and Charles with a prestigious residence, Edmond began building the plantation home that exists today. In 1853 he hired expert builders and purchased twelve highly skilled slaves to convert his extravagant vision into reality. When main construction was finished two years later, Edmond appointed accomplished artists to carry out an ambitious decoration project. It featured five artistically hand painted ceilings, painted door panels, faux marbling, and faux wood graining throughout. The house became so distinctive that it inspired novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes to write "Steamboat Gothic", a story about the family she imagined lived there. Viewed from some angles, the house closely resembles the ornate and yet graceful superstructure of a Mississippi riverboat.

Edmond passed away in 1856, less than one year after the home was completed. The day after Edmond’s death, his oldest son Valsin returned from Europe and was forced to take over the plantation. Valsin Bozonier Marmillion was married to Louise von Seybold of Munich, Germany, and had three daughters. Together they lived at the home and ran the sugar plantation for the next fifteen years. The unusual name “San Francisco” is believed to be derived from Valsin’s comment about the extraordinary debt he was confronted with when taking over the estate. He declared he was sans fruscins or “without a penny in my pocket.” The name evolved into St. Frusquin and, in 1879, was changed into “San Francisco” by the next owner, Achille D. Bougère.
Valsin never envisioned his future as a Louisiana sugar planter. He had been educated at prominent Catholic universities on the East Coast and had worked as an accountant in New Orleans and Paris for many years. But nothing made him want to leave his home more than the death of his six siblings and his own developing illness. As early as 1859, Valsin and his younger brother Charles attempted to sell the estate but were halted by a legal conflict with their sister-in-law, Zoé Luminais. When the argument was settled in 1861, it was too late. War and reconstruction prevented any possibility of a sale for the following fifteen years. Valsin’s and Louise’s dream of moving to Southern Germany remained unfulfilled.

Valsin died of tuberculosis in 1871. Charles, who had served in the Confederate Army for four years, helped Louise sustain the estate until he also passed away in 1875. Four years later, Louise finally sold the plantation to Achille D. Bougère for only $50,000, never coming close to maintaining the crops they had before the Civil War. Bougère also had financial problems and died in 1887. His wife and sons managed to maintain the estate and even acquire the neighboring Union Plantation for $30,000. In 1904 they sold the entire estate to Schmidt and Ziegler for $80,000 dollars and moved to New Orleans. Shortly after the Ory family purchased the property and established the “San Francisco Planting & Manufacturing Company“ in 1909. They kept living in the house for the next fifty years, adding a kitchen and bathrooms but fortunately undertaking few other alterations.

As a result of the Great Flood of 1927, the Army Corps of Engineers began building the
Mississippi River levee system and completed the project in 1932. The new levee unfortunately sacrificed the luscious front yard and gardens. The project would have also claimed the home, but local residents lobbied the Louisiana legislature to pass a measure that would save as many plantations along the River Road as possible. Fortunately, the Corps was able to curve the levee around San Francisco. In 1954, the Ory family leased the house to Mr. and Mrs. Clark Thompson who maintained the premises and opened the mansion to the public. The Thompsons are credited for preserving the home at a time when it could have faded away as did many of the treasures along the Great River Road.
In 1974 Mrs. Thompson, then widowed, moved out of the home. It was purchased by the ECOL Company and later by Marathon Oil. The San Francisco Plantation Foundation was created and the home underwent a massive restoration. As scientific analysis of materials and structure were done, along with archival research, it was decided to that the home would be restored to the golden years just before the War Between the States. The house then became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today the San Francisco Plantation remains a major attraction in Louisiana being visited annually by over 100,000 people. Although the house is antebellum in a chronological sense, it is certainly not typical of the period. Its style and coloration are totally distinctive, and its memories are now locked in time just prior to the War Between the States, when the house was at the height of its splendor.
Restoration of the San Francisco Plantation began in 1973 and took over 3 years to complete at a cost of over 2 million dollars. The restoration took place after the deteriorating plantation was purchased by The Energy Corporation of Louisiana as the site of an oil refinery and the house was included in the purchase. The chairman of the corporation, Frederick B. Ingram, urged restoration and the house and seven acres were donated to the newly formed San Francisco Plantation Foundation.
The house was restored to its most elegant period, around 1860, when Antoine Valsin and his wife Louise completed redecorating. Every effort was made to faithfully restore or reproduce every aspect of the house to this period, from the structure, the ceiling, and wall painting, to the light fixtures, accessories, carpets, furniture and draperies.
Fortunately, few structural changes had been made during the building’s 120 years of history prior to restoration. Most of the structural changes were removable additions such as modern bathrooms and kitchens. However, some alterations were most serious such as partitions with doors had been built at the head of the two interior stairs on the main floor.
Archaeologists were called in to work with architects in determining more precisely how the house looked in 1860. This work included tests of fabric and paint sequences, on-site and in laboratories. Following these investigations, work began to open up the building for further research and to begin restoration.

Wooden ceilings on the ground floor level were removed to reveal the original Creole-style exposed-joist and floorboard construction, along with hand-made lead plumbing pipes, all bearing the earliest paint sequences.
Now it was possible to begin restoration.
First the slate roof was restored. Then working down, the exterior walls were repaired. The first floor of the house is brick, supporting peg wood framework for the upper levels. On the second floor, framework is filled in with brick in the old French style, four inches thick, then stuccoed on the outside and plastered on the inside. The masonry required extensive repair. Further repairs involved leveling of the attic balcony and restoration of many pieces of millwork, several of which bore the initials EBM, for Edmond Bozonier Marmillion.
The roof drainage system was repaired, and the leaded domes of the cisterns that flank the house were reconstructed using evidence of old photos and fragments of the original ribs and struts.
The exterior was repainted in the striking colors of the Marmillion period.
The big challenge however was restoring and reproducing the lavish and intricate interior painting. Specialist painters were brought in from around the world to assist in the delicate and demanding work. In some rooms only small areas of graining and marbling could be scraped to the Marmillion paint sequence while others all the appropriate work was revealed. But even in the most difficult areas, enough was exposed to permit faithful reproduction. Three of the frescoed ceilings had been heavily overpainted at some time, but enough of the original work was exposed to establish color.

Furnishing the house also became a challenge because none of the original contents remained. However, fairly extensive inventories of the house contents (required under Napoleonic Code) were discovered and these provided an adequate frame of the reference for recreating the styles of the Marmillion period. In most cases, it was evident where the individually listed pieces should be placed.
Insistence on authenticity raised some unusual problems, but the end result of this painstaking attention to detail, in the structural restoration and redecorating as well as in the contents of the house, is a faithful reflection of the lifestyle of the period.
Restoration of the San Francisco Plantation House was completed in 1977.
The house has been declared a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public, through the auspices of the San Francisco Plantation Foundation.

May 17, 2011

no more cheeps.

So...sometime Sunday Cheeps decided to croak.  Strange, because he was doing so well.  Hopping, chirping, eating...then bam.  Dead.  I checked on him that morning and he was doing fine.  I'm not sure what happened, but at least we tried to save his little birdy life. 

Reep Cheeps. 

May 13, 2011


My friends and I are in the process of rescuing a little bird.  What seemed like a little guy (or girl) falling out of its nest turned into "Birdapalooza" (the term was coined by K) which turned into "Operation: Save The Bird(s)). 


Tuesday, after work, as I was getting out of the car, the boyfriend looks over and says "Don't look.  Dead bird."  Sadness ensued.  I was told to get over it.  (Lame.) He apparently swatted 'dead bird' off of the driveway.  Cut to after dinner.  K get out of the passenger side of the car and says "Something's moving over there!  Oh, it's a bird!"  Happiness ensued!  The 'dead bird' lives! Eyes clothes, feathers not grown in - but the bird lives!

Best friend goes over and gingerly scoops up the bird (with paper towels) and puts him back in the nest in the garage rafters.  Later - bird falls out again.  Gets put back in.  Rinse, repeat.

So best friend makes a nest out of dried grass & debris lying around the yard and lays the bird inside the seed spreader.  We go to check on it later and find yet another bird on the ground.  We add that bird to the seed-spreader-nest.  We go to dinner, come back, and seed spreader is on it's side.  Nest is everywhere.  First bird missing.  Second bird ok.  Moment of silence for bird gone missing. 

Cut to bird chirps in the distance.  We three follow bird chirps.  In the same spot where 'dead bird' was discovered, there are now five more baby birds.  Hopping around, but can't fly yet.  (Here is where "Birdapalooza" was coined)  Best friend decides that we can't possibly save them all and it's like the birds were like "Well Fine!" and they scamper off into the grassy yonder. 

We decided to name the bird we have saved (the one remaining in the seed spreader) CHEEPS.  Because, well, it did.  A LOT.  I would too, if I was cast from my nest and abandoned to be cared for by strangers.  So over the past couple of days we have been feeding & playing with Cheeps trying to get its health back up.  Cheeps was barely breathing when first discovered.

We have been feeding Cheeps a mixture of pulverized worms (ew) and wet cat food through a syringe and I must say he is taking to it really well.  In the 3 days we have been caring for him, he's gotten more feathers and has opened his eyes.  He now cheeps at us when we come visit and we let him walk around in the garage for strength.  Someday soon he'll fly off & that will be a kind of bittersweet day.  I think we are all glad that we had the chance to save that little birdie's life. 

cheep cheep.

May 2, 2011


Sometimes in your life you are faced with a tough decision.  A person can do all they can for someone; take care of them, be their friend, do things to make their life easier, do favors that are asked of them....

and still get the short end of the stick.

I have a low bullshit tolerance.  I can only take so much before I lose it.  When something is blatantly wrong, it needs to be addressed.  One thing that needs to be remembered: