Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visit from Dad and Judy

Last Thursday, Dad and Judy came to visit for their annual winter beach pilgrimage. We're always happy to have them. It's fun to play tourist in your own town sometimes, and this year did not disappoint. On Monday we went to Sanibel to Lighthouse Beach and as soon as we stepped out onto the beach we saw a line of people with cameras. As we got closer we saw tons of dolphins playing or mating in the water right off the beach. Here is a little video with my camera. Unfortunately I didn't have a long lens....

On Monday night we went to see the Edison & Ford Winter Estates for their Holiday nights tour with the Christmas lights. It's nice to just take pretty photos once in a while....

old Ford pickup and car

Merry Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twofer: sweet potato biscuits and a chair rehab

So I just wrote this post and was almost finished, but I accidentally deleted everything except the photos I was working on and didn't realize and, of course, it resaved before I realized it and, BAM!, I lost my entire post. This is how this week is going for me so far. I had a long, cold day at work yesterday. Here's hoping the rest of the week will be better! Here's take two....

On Sunday I visited my mom. She went to see my grandma in South Carolina for Thanksgiving, so she brought me some old family photos from my grandmother and some farm fresh sweet potatoes from North Carolina. I didn't want them to sit in the pantry forever, so I decided to look through my new cookbooks I purchased at the newsroom book sale last week. A recipe for sweet potato biscuits caught my eye, so I decided to try it. Ya'll these are GOOD! They're from the Mary Mac's Tea Room cookbook. Here's the link to the cookbook on Amazon. It's got great southern recipes.

Here's the recipe:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, baked
2 tablespoons buttermilk

To bake the potatoes, rinse, then cover with foil while still damp. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour. The skin will fall right off.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease the baking sheet and set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (I don't have a sifter, so I just stirred them together.) Cut in the butter with your fingers or two forks until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the sweet potatoes, stirring well to combine. Gradually add the buttermilk to form a soft dough. (I didn't have buttermilk, so I made my own by mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar with 1 cup of milk and letting it sit 5 minutes.) Turn out onto a lightly floured board. (I had to use a bit more flour to keep it from being sticky.) Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle and cut our the dough with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Place on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Now here's the photos. Food-blog style....

mash the sweet potatoes

mix dry ingredients then cut in the butter

mix in the sweet potatoes. use the rest for dinner.

gradually add buttermilk

roll out the dough
cut the biscuits. i used the heart pancake mold i have. or use the top of a wine glass.
bake for 18-20 minutes
you'll be left with a messy kitchen, but it's worth it.

served with a mesclun greens salad from the garden!

Now for the chairs. You probably know I found some sweet chairs for $10 each at a yard sale last Friday. One was quite rickety, so we decided to fix it with a little wood glue. Couldn't take long, right?
Well we googled "chair repair" or something similar and realized we'd be taking the entire chair apart, sanding it and gluing it back together with the help of a clamp. So I set out for the JoAnns and Home Depot to get the glue, fabric and foam for the cushions, and a clamp and bungee cords. I'm too cheap to buy multiple clamps, so I figured the bungee cords would help hold it together. We took the chair apart carefully using a mallet. While I was gone shopping, Scott sanded the old glue at all the joints. We had to replace some of the wooden dowels that broke while taking it apart. I suspect they were broken already. Then we put it back together again one side at a time, gluing and clamping.

 I forgot to take a photo of the after of this chair. And I forgot to photograph the process of recovering the cushions. Here's Scott taking the cover off one of the cushions. The previous owner used old fabric scraps for the padding -- not very comfortable. I bought some new 2-inch foam and they're super comfy now.

Here's the other chair. We only had to glue one joint, so we didn't take it apart, just glued and clamped. The rickety chair was a full-day project, but it's as good as new now.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas tree

After Saturday's fishing tournament, Scott picked me up in Cape Coral, and we came home to decorate the Christmas tree. As you know I always have to get a real tree since my uncle used to be a Christmas tree farmer. (Now he grows landscape trees, and sadly I can't get one from him anymore.) So this year we decided to got a cheaper tree ($27) from Home Depot since we are saving for the wedding. I cringed when I saw they weren't kept in water (they should be), but I figured it was early in the season so I'm hoping they weren't cut down too long ago. We settled on a Douglas Fir, since I still don't like Fraser Firs. Luckily they were cheaper too.

I've also managed to acquire some good ornaments in the last few years to try and make up for the ones that were stolen from my first apartment in Fort Myers. I've tried to start collecting them on our trips, so there will be memories associated with them.

These aren't 'special,' but I got them this
year from West Elm. They are made from
old newsprint/books and are silver on the
other side. I got some other leaf shapes, too.
Love my Outer Banks ornament from
Kylie and Amanda.

This is a bus ornament made by a Haitian artist to benefit earthquake victims.
I got it in Asheville the day we got engaged.

A kayaking lobster I got in Maine. I also got a little lobster cage ornament there.

Key West 2009 - my 30th birthday trip.

paddle from the Nantahala Outdoor Center
in Bryson City, NC. bought on our
engagement trip.

Merry Christmas everybody!