Wednesday, July 20, 2011


One of my favorite signs of mid-summer has revealed its plummage.

Beautiful and sweet smelling Stargazer Lily.

The whole yard looks best in mid-summer splendor.

I am so happy that when my hard-working husband, Tim, pulls his truck up to the back garage, he gets to see these beautiful plantings.  On a rare day off, Tim fabricated and trowel finished these pots to accent the man-door to the garage.

The planters contain lantana in the middle and red geraniums on the sides.

The large pot contains a climbing mandevilla with red petunias around it.  It has really grown in its mostly sunny spot between the garage doors.

Our favorite afternoon/evening spot to enjoy a glass of wine and conversation is the back patio adjacent to the garage.

Come on and set a spell.

On hot lazy summer days I love relaxing in the pool.

It's these relaxing moments that bring me calmness in the craziness of the school year.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hey Sweet Pea, It's Low Country Night

Inspired by a delicious, seasonally offered dish at our favorite restaurant in Nags Head, (The Red Drum), my choice for a theme night was Low Country food.  Low country is the bayous and coastal regions of North/South Carolina and below, like the loving cookin' of Paula Deen.

My first quest was for Andouille sausage which I purchased in the supermarket in Nags Head last visit there.  Next I needed to find a large pot to steam everything in.  After getting sticker shock at the restaurant supply and wishing I had brought ours home from NC last time, I borrowed Judy Bodine's 16 quart  pasta/gravy pot.  I rigged up a steamer basket and some wire catering supports.

The vessel

Ingredients for the Low Country Boil are small red potatoes, fresh corn halved or thirded (?), sliced-on-an-angle Andouille sausage, shrimp, and clams.

  After the seasoned water boils, each ingredient is layered in the pot for a precise amount of time before the next ingredients are added, which integrates the flavors as it cooks.  Yum.  "After the water boils" is the operative phrase here and the boiling took way longer than I thought, and I have to admit caused some snarkiness on my part, watching a big pot come to a boil. 

The kids watching me watching the big pot.

 Thank goodness, for Aunt Tracy's calmness and humor.  It was finally done, almost 1 1/2 hours start to finish, twice as long as I had anticipated, but

Ta Da

Awesome additions were cheese grits, corn puddin', macaroni and cheese, pulled barbecue chicken, and biscuits and sausage gravy. 

The cheesiest grits

Corn Puddin'
Pulled chicken with homemade bbq sauce
Aunt Marie's Macaroni and Cheese
Biscuits and sausage gravy

 Sweet tea vodka and lemonade, garnished with mint and several delicious desserts completed the theme.
The libation

Homemade peach cobbler served with ice cream

Key Lime Dessert

We are GRiTS (Girls Raised in the South) by association.  I am Val-Ray, and there's Breenus, Tater, Aunt Tray-tray and Boopers.

Best line by Nanny, "It's a great night for skinny dipping."

Next theme night is Becky's and we're going out to dinner to a Brazilian Steak House for Rodizio.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Visit to Laurita Winery

Last Friday, Lisa, Theresa and I met at Laurita Winery.  Set in rolling hills about 25 miles from home, is a lovely local winery named for the two owners' mothers.  It was a hot, humid day.  Difficult for hiking up and down stone pathways but wonderful weather for growing delicious grapes.  And we all know, delicious grapes means delicious wine.

Beautiful landscapes surround the building.

We entered the cooled building, into a large banquet room, looking out over the vineyards with lots of places to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers or some sandwich offerings from the small deli inside the main building.  The large wine tasting room was dimly lit for a lovely ambience. 
Wine tasting display.

  We tasted several offerings, reds, whites, drys and sweets and we all purchased a bottle or two of our favorite.

I enjoy dryish reds, everyday table wines.

We completed our day with a gourmet sandwich in the banquet room, watching the rain pour over the grounds, relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere and the conversation.

I love these friendship quotes:

"Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters."- Dave Matthews Band

 and from Les Miserables (the play):  "Let the wine of friendship never run dry."

Happy Birthday, Lisa.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Club

I hosted this month's book club.  We read The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty.
It is a memior style novel from the prespective of a young girl coming of age with major obstacles to her emotional development.  Through her eyes, we see the progress of her friend, her mother, her brother and the other people in her life.  She learns to rely on herself and her intelligence. 

Typically, we have a gastro-session and then discuss the book.  I have been watching the Food Network a bit too much this summer.  Among other things, I served

White Sangria
Watermelon with Feta and snipped mint from the garden.

Cold cucumber soup

Savory tomato tart on puff pastry

 We are seven college graduates in the 50+ age range who enjoy getting together.  I am the newbie in the group, I joined two years ago. The majority of the members have known each other for years, attending college together.  We have teachers, a doctor of physical therapy, an insurance associate, a retired state police officer, and domestic engineers.  

 We discuss the book along with everything else that happens in our lives.  I once read a T-shirt that said, "Our wine club has a book problem."  While this readily applies to our group, I can also paraphrase additionally, - "Our food club has a book problem" or "Our therapy club has a book problem."  I am happy to say I am defined by the company I keep.