Sunday, December 28, 2008
Layla is Brittney's little year and a half old Pom. She had never been to the boat before but other than a little natural caution, she did very well. She was a little worried when Bruce made all of the noises involved in raising and lowering sails.
Bruce piled the jib onto the deck and set about connecting the blade. Layla got brave and curious.
Once the sail was up, Bruce set about adjusting and examining it for trim and fit. He was ecstatic! It fit and it was very inexpensive... and it was beautiful!
We took it down, put the other jib back up and prepared to go back home to make Christmas dinner. By this time, Layla had become quite secure...
Cut up 3 lbs of lean chuck roast. Season the meat chunks with Montreal Steak Seasoning or the spice of choice. Dredge the pieces in flour and
place 1/3 of the meat into the dutch oven. Sear the pieces for about 7 minutes flipping pieces and scraping the bottom of the pan.
Next, remove the meat to another bowl leaving the browned bits in the dutch oven. Add 1/2 c. water to the browned pieces and cook for about 30 seconds scraping up the browned pieces from the bottom. Pour this into the bowl with the reserved meat and repeat these steps with the next and last 1/3 of the meat.
Next, place another 3 cloves of minced garlic and a couple of blops of tomato paste into the dutch oven and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the reserved meat back to the dutch oven, pour in 1 can of beef broth and 1 can of Guinness stout beer.
Add the reserved mushroom/ontion mixture with juice back to the dutch oven. Add 2 cups of diced carrots and 2 medium potatoes cubed. Carefully stir and simmer covered for about an hour and a half. Stir often and scrape the bottom as the mixture will thicken and tend to stick to the bottom of the dutch oven.
At the end of the simmering time, remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Prepare the crust during this time. Lightly dust a piece of butcher paper with flour. Roll out one 9 in. prepared pie crust to about half again its original size. Sprinkle bleu cheese crumbles of your choice (we used Athenos) into the center of the pie crust and spread them to within 2 inches of the edges. Place the second 9 in. pie crust over the top of the cheese and use a rolling pin to press the crusts together. The crust will get a bit bigger.
Place the crust over the center of the dutch oven and allow it to drop down to the surface of the filling. Press the edges against the sides of the dutch oven and droop the excess edges over the top onto the outside of the pan. Seal these outside edges with a bit of water and press them onto the pan. Use a cookie cutter to press into the center of the crust and cut slits with a knife to allow steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is a lovely golden brown.
Next, let the kids in the front door and heave a sigh of relief that they made the trip home safely on Christmas Eve. Serve them this tummy warming home-made-with-love meal while catching up on things. Ignore their suspicious faces when they see what you're serving because they'll love it! (or at least they'll pretend to love it because you've raised them well!)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We took the coast road and meandered through the small towns along the way and visiting antique stores. We arrived at our hotel at about 4:30 after hitting the notorious Houston traffic. We barely had time for a quick nap but it was essential after having been up late the previous night for my office Christmas party. We changed quickly and drove the 30 minutes to the
Bride's parent's home.
Now the only contact we've had with Mark or Laura in regards to the party has been to...
"remember to bring our swimsuits"!
Early on, Mark had told us that it would be casual dress... shorts even. I had wondered about this as it is DECEMBER!... but if they're heating up the pool... so be it! Bruce wore shorts and I wore a linen sleevless shirt and capri pants thinking I would be overdressed. Not so! We were definately the bumpkins of this gathering! Even Bruce was embarrassed... and he's usually oblivious to these things. Oh well... it's not about us.
I made myself useful as the designated photographer, although I'm still experimenting with the settings on our new camera. I think we got some good moments.
Laura's parent's home was lovely and all decked out for the holidays. There was Christmas bling everywhere. The food was continuously refreshed by hired help and the pepermint martinis were scrumptious! I only had one and it was very potent. I would have needed another nap had I drank a second one.
Mark's best-friend-from-second-grade... Ricky was there with his wife and their two children. They are the sweetest little kids you ever met.
Rick was his usual bad self. I spent the whole evening shushing him as he insisted upon absolute brutal honesty where it wasn't necessary. He's quite the devil but it was good to see him again.
There was a speech giving session out by the pool. People got up and said nice things about Mark and Laura and expressed wishes for their happiness. Laura had many people there from her childhood and quite a few relatives. Mark's side was sparsely represented. Mother and I each got up and made a short speech. Mine was about expressing how lucky I feel to be gaining the sister I've never had and I really mean it. Laura is an exceptional person, which is just what I always said it would take to whip my little brother into matrimonial shape.
The party wound down as many people made their exits. Mark and Laura posed for some official engagement photos. Bruce and I made our exit as the remaining family members were preparing to go for a swim. We were just too exhausted to stay for the after party.
Mark and Laura really do look very happy. I hope that they can stretch that out for a long time and continue to grow together as Bruce and I have done. If they end up half as happy as we are, they'll be ahead of the rest! Congratulations Mark and welcome Laura!
Monday, December 22, 2008
This year Jana and I swore our party would be different. The new regime is all about making employee morale soar. What better way to do that than with a few jello shots!?!