Jun 2016 Western Caribbean Cruise – Oasis of the Seas

The girls (Mom, Daughter and I) cruised 4-11 Jun 2016 to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.   This was our first cruise.   Lessons learned:

1.  Don’t start your cruise on your travel day.  We discovered that even with insurance, if your flight is delayed or anything happens that makes you miss your ship, the best the insurance can do is fly you to the next port.  This will shorten your cruise, and in our case by 2 days.  I don’t know what other compensations are available, but the cruise ship waits for no one!  So this time we flew a day early, spent the night in a hotel that provided travel to the port as well as pick you up when you return.   You have a choice if going directly to the airport or do more excursions before boarding your plane.

2.  Remember to pack sundries because they cost lots of money while on the cruise.  Examples of things to bring are:

  • Sea bands or motion sickness meds
  • Over the counter meds for tummy issues, colds, pain, etc
  • Your favorite snacks unless you know you can get them on the cruise.  Examples includes nuts, chips or your favorite treat.
  • Sunscreen, insect repellant

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13-14 May 2016 – Food That Tastes So Good!

We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by visiting the Shenandoah area.  Besides seeing the sites, one of the other treats was the fabulous food we tasted along the way.  Below are some of the highlights:

 

Joe’s Steakhouse In Front Royal, VA

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Scallops Beurre Blanc – pan seared sea scallops with shallot, mushrooms and tomato in a beurre blanc sauce

 

 

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Stuffed Haddock with crab and cream cheese, finished with a light tomato-basil cream sauce, brown rice and mixed veggies

 

Claire’s At The Depot in Warrenton, VA

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Mediterranean Lamb Chops on a Bed of CousCous – the chops were cooked with fresh herbs grown in their own garden!

 

 

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Claire’s At The Depot Herb Garden

 

 

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Southern Shrimp Salad – Yummy!

 

 

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Aunt Beatty’s Decadent Chocolate Cake – for the chocolate lovers!

 

21 May 2016 – Shenandoah, VA

My husband and I haven’t done a weekend getaway in a while so we decided to go someplace we’ve been talking about for at least 10 years – Luray Caverns!  Following are just a few treasures.  If you love nature, the caverns should definitely be on your bucket list!

Some history:  Cold air rushing out of a limestone sinkhole atop a big hill west of Luray, Virginia, blew out a candle held by Andrew Campbell, the town tinsmith, on the morning of August 13, 1878. So began the discovery of Luray Caverns.

Campbell, three other men, and his 13-year-old nephew, Quint, were exploring the area, looking for a cave. With the help of local photographer Benton Stebbins, the men dug away loose rocks for four hours before, candle in hand, Campbell and Quint slid down a rope into the cave. They could scarcely believe what they saw. The party had discovered the largest series of caverns in the East, an eerie world of stalactites and stalagmites seen by the light of a candle.

Luray Caverns, Luray, VA – in this section of the caverns, the water collected provides a mirror image of the structure above!

 

 


 


 

Debra & Al Saletta Luray Caverns 13 May 2016

 

Not only did we visit the caverns but we checked out some local attractions.  Following are pics from our visit to the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge in Mount Jackson, VA.  First, a little history:

One of the best-known covered bridges is the 204-foot single-span Burr arch truss known as Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge in Mount Jackson. The Meem’s Bottom Bridge was constructed in 1892-93 from materials cut and quarried nearby for the massive arch supports and stone abutments, which extended 10 feet below the riverbed.  It was deeded to the Highway Department in the 1930’s in return for assuming its maintenance.  This long span over the North Fork of the river carried traffic for more than 80 years before being burned by vandals on Halloween 1976.  After salvaging the original timbers, the bridge was reconstructed and eventually undergirded with steel beams and concrete piers. The bridge was reopened to traffic in 1979 and is still in operation to date.  One of the many stops along the Wilderness Trail in Shenandoah County! (Source:  http://www.virginia.org/listings/OutdoorsAndSports/HistoricMeemsBottomCoveredBridge/)

 

 

 

 

We also toured the Route 11 Kettle Chip factory.   If you like potato chips, you’ve got to try these!

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Route 11 Potato Chips, 11 Edwards Way, Mount Jackson, VA  22842 540-477-9664

14 May 2016 – Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

I’ve always wanted to travel on Skyline Drive, and today Al and I got the opportunity.  The total distance is 109 miles which runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  The nearest city to our entrance was Front Royal, VA.  We started at the North entrance at SR 340 and drove about 50 miles to the first exit at SR 211 in Thornton Gap.

It was a beautiful day for the ride – no rain, just blue skies.  The combination of different trees and foliage made the drive colorful and awesome.  Nature is truly amazing!!

Since Al qualified, we were able to avoid the entrance fee of $20 a private vehicle.  We paid $10 for a lifetime membership for all National Parks.  In fact, as long as one person in the car has a lifetime membership, everyone in the car can enter the national park free of charge!

 

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A portion of the Skyline Drive Map, located at http://www.sherpaguide.com

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9 Feb 2016 – First Cousins On My Father’s Side Of The Family

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The picture above includes my first cousins – Rose (on the left) and Diane (on the right) – and my Uncle Charlie (in the middle).  Even though we are first cousins, I haven’t seen them since we were kids…with one exception.  That one exception was when my father died in 1996 at 64 yrs old.  Diane, Rose, and my uncles attended the funeral.  At that time, my parents were divorced so my father’s new wife handled all the arrangements.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the lines of communication between my father’s side of the family and his children ended when my parents divorced.

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4 Feb 2016 – Update On The Historic Barnes House

 

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February is Black History month.  It’s a great time to provide an update on the Historic Barnes House – see initial post here.

The Barnes House, home of Eppa and Amanda (Lambert) Barnes, was built in 1797, and originally owned by Moses Copen, a slave owner at the time.  Mr. Copen owned Eppa (born in 1852), his siblings and his mother (Jane).  By the end of the Civil War, Eppa was freed and Mr. Copen had passed.  After Mr. Copen’s death, his daughter Permilia Copen, gave the house to Jane (Eppa’s mother) along with seven acres.  Eppa married Amanda “Mandy” Lambert in July 1875.  Over the years they purchased approximately 160 acres of land, raised 11 children and expanded their home as their family expanded.

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2 Feb 2016 – Chicken Drumstick Soup

My husband loves this recipe and suggested I share it with the world!  It’s very easy to make.  If you like chicken soup, this version includes drumsticks versus chicken pieces which makes it fun to eat!  For our Weight Watcher community, it’s 6 smart points for one cup of soup minus the rice or pasta.  To serve, add soup in a bowl first, and the chicken drumsticks last.  Don’t forget a separate place setting for your chicken bones. 🙂

chicken drumstick soup               chicken soup - meat only with brown rice

Ingredients:

  • 12 Chicken drumsticks
  • 10.5 oz of fat free condensed cream of chicken and/or cream of celery soup
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1-16 oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1-16 oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1-48 oz container of liquid Chicken broth
  • season to taste with seasoning salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, onions, 2 bay leaves, and celery
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta or rice (optional)

Instructions:

  • Use paring knife and pull back skin to remove from chicken drumstick
  • Place raw chicken drumsticks, water and chicken broth in 6 quart pan and boil until done (can be cooked in a crock pot) about 45 to 60 minutes
  • Add remaining ingredients to pot – corn and green beans (use the vegetables of your choice.  I generally used frozen mixed veggies but I was out.) – simmer for 20 min.
  • Measure out one cup of soup, minus the chicken drumsticks, and pour over rice or pasta (I cook separately).
  • Ensure you have a plate to put the chicken bones while eating.  Enjoy!

Serves 6 (assumes two drumsticks per person)

28 Dec 2015 – Healthy Chicken Salad With Apples & Cranberries

Chicken Salad

This is so easy to make and so satisfying.  It’s also a treat for those who do not like mayo.  Serving size is one cup, and 3 Weight Watchers smart points!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large fresh apples – pick your favorite – about 2 cups
  • 4 cups of cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped
  • 8 oz Dannon Oikos plain greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 tsp lemon juice, bottled

Directions:

  • Place cooked chicken breast*, apple, and cranberries in a bowl and stir to combine
  • In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and lemon juice
  • Add to chicken mixture and stir to mix well
  • Stir in parsley if desired
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Note:  I season my chicken breast and boil in crock pot until done.  Makes 8, 1 cup, servings.  You can serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish to your heart’s desires!

25 Dec 2015 – Cannoli Shells With Filling

Images may be subject to copyright - from www.italianfoodforever.com

Images may be subject to copyright – from http://www.italianfoodforever.com

 

Joanne, my sister-in-law, provided me the following recipe.  She is a fantastic cook!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Ingredients for Cannoli Shells:

  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp shortening
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 egg white slightly beaten (for sealing)
  • vegetable oil for frying

 

Directions for Cannoli Shells:

  • Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt
  • Cut shortening in with a pastry blender until the size of small peas
  • Stir in eggs
  • Blend in vinegar and water
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes
  • Add additional flour, if needed, to get a smooth dough
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • Set out 6 cannoli tubes
  • Heat oil to 360 degrees
  • Cut an oval-shaped pattern out of cardboard about 6 x 4 inches or you may use a cookie cutter of this size
  • Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 thickness
  • Place the pattern on dough and cut out as many as will fit on the dough
  • Wrap dough loosely around tubes, slightly overlapping opposite ends
  • Seal ends by brushing with egg whites and pressing together
  • Fry only as many shells as will float uncrowded in the hot oil
  • Fry until golden brown 3-4 minutes
  • Remove shells to paper towels to drain
  • Cool slightly and remove tubes, then cool shells completely
  • Fill shells with ricotta filling (see recipe below) either a small spoon or pastry bag from both ends no more than one hour before serving.  Otherwise, the shell will become soggy
  • Sprinkle the ends with nuts and powdered sugar.

 

Ricotta Filling (or you may use custard filling in lieu of ricotta):

  • 4 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup nuts coarsely chopped
  • After filling cannoli shells, dust with powered sugar on top.  Sprinkle the nuts on each end.

18 Dec 2015 – Teddy Takes a Tumble

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Grand Baby Taylor, Chicago – minus “Teddy”

This is a true story written by my husband.  The story is about my mother Alice (Great Grandma) and Taylor (Grand baby) when she young.  Taylor had a stuffed animal that she carried with her all the time.  It was actually a cow called “Mooey”.  For simplicity purposes, we called it a teddy bear.  Enjoy!

Great Grandma was taking her nearly two-year old great Grand Baby, our “Grand Baby”, to the Laundromat.  Grand baby had her favorite teddy bear with her, THE teddy bear.  No other teddy bear or toy, or form of comfort would do when Grand Baby was crying or sad, only this, exact, teddy.  So this teddy went everywhere with Grand Baby: in the crib, out of the crib, in the high chair, out of the high chair. Teddy was Grand Baby’s nearly constant companion: inside and outside, dragged behind on floors, sidewalks, and parking lots, in cars and out of cars, on lawns, in shopping carts, everywhere. Teddy started out white and yellow and had developed a deep (and lovely to Grand Baby), gray patina, like that of a dust mop. Teddy was covered from the top of her frazzled head to the bottom of her frayed feet with nearly two years of love and grime.   Grand Baby was not selfish about Teddy, she was generous.  Grand Baby would offer her precious, precious Teddy to you: as a sign of trust, as a gesture of affection, or just to hold. It might be your honor to hold Teddy for Grand Baby at those times when Grand Baby’s own little arms were too tired to hold her dear Teddy, anymore… though… you might have to give Teddy back immediately if, filled with second thoughts, Grand Baby stretched a single arm back out at you..

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