Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Funnies

It’s the weekend, well almost, and here’s a fun photo post with only short captions. These things tickled our funny bones (which doesn’t take much).  A fellow blogger, Scott, features a regular Phun Phriday post on his Just Used Pixels blog.

What boat? (must be the camouflage cover)

what boatAn apple a day . . . keeps what away?

apple a dayGrenville and I wish you all a great weekend wherever and however you spending it. Also, like so many others, we are keeping our southern neighbors in our thoughts and prayers after the tragic tornadoes earlier this week. It’s been a rough week for so many folks with unusual weather events.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birds of a Feather?

One of the side benefits to exhibiting/attending art festivals is being able to meet many other artists, some with quite unique talents. One such artist is Donnie Thornton, who lives in Chincoteague, VA.

Imagine painting on feathers – that’s Donnie's specialty. All types of birds – shorebirds to hummingbirds, also lighthouses, bridges, wildlife and pets. He usually paints from a photo or illustration and does a lot of commission work, especially during the holiday season.

SAM_1796Besides having a unique talent and LOTS of patience, Donnie is among the nicest exhibitors at any art show we’ve attended as either participants or viewers. He’s shown here painting a wooden egg at last weekend’s show. Eggs painted or decorated by local artists were auctioned after the show with proceeds going to a local charity.

Here’s several examples of his amazing painted feather artwork that were on display last weekend. Many had sold by the end of the show. The framed size of most of his feather paintings is 5x7-inches.
painted feathers collage
Last year, we bought two of Donnie’s feather paintings: a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret. The detail in each is amazing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

F&P Farm Update

Spring has really been good to us. We have avoided tornados and sever t-storms so far. BUT that also means we haven’t had much rain so watering is a daily chore now. Temps have been in the upper 70’s to 80’s most days and the soil is finally warming up enough to get planting next week.

Green house doings:












Hard to tell from the top picture but the Train Station Sale veggies are coming along. The green tray are our veggies for the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and Basil. The monster plant is a broccoli that i started late in the winter. It has one small head starting. The bottom is one of five Chinese Red Maples courtesy of Possum, who was yanking out the saplings. Three are in the ground and getting used to being here and two are in pots cause i don’t know where they will go yet.IMG_0083

This one is a pallet of Viburnums and Forsythias donated by Hortco Nursery for the Train Station Sale. They needed some tender loving care so they are hanging out next to our green houseIMG_0884 for some remedial therapy.

You might remember last month I started working on a Butterfly and Hummingbird Meadow as a wildlife habitat project (and to reduce the amount of grass we have to cut). After letting it sit for 3 weeks and re-tilling to get the last weeds, and then hand weeding a little more, we seeded and mulched it today. IMG_0072 Again if you remember way, way back when we had the Maple tree in the front of the house taken down i had them leave all of the wood chips. Today the chips got spread over the new wildflower meadow. It will be about three weeks before we start seeing the wild flowers popping up through the mulch. Hopefully we WILL NOT see any weeds or misplaIMG_0057ced grass.

Blueberries are still looking sad even with watering each day. BUT the new peaches have really taken a liking to their new home in the orchard.

We are expecting on and off showers and T-storms over th enext few days so outside work will be on hold. Next::::: The Battle of the Giant Alien Grasses. Bring your mower if you dare!!!!! <evil grin>


What is This #10 Answer

Beatrice with HatYES, the What is This? post from yesterday is a pile of colorful hats that were being displayed for sale at the Chincoteague Decoy and Art Festival last weekend. Beatrice is modeling one in her favorite color – purple.

what is this#10

CONGRATS to AC, Elaine, Sandra and Steve – you all share braggin’ rights.

This display was next to Grenville’s setup and we chatted with Fatou Sall, the young woman, who handmade all these hats and many more.

Fatou, a native of the Republic of Cameroon, Africa, lives in MD. The hats are made from raffia, a natural fiber that can be woven like straw. It comes from the raffia palm that is native to many parts of Africa. Crafters value raffia for its softness, durability, and for being easy to dye.

SAM_1844striped hat editwhat is this#10 ans

Fatou sells the hats at art festivals and craft shows throughout the spring and summer. They sell for $40 each; see more online at her etsy store.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday Views

This weekend, we were at a decoy art show. Here’s a visual photo pun of that event . . . ready (or not)

There were lots of these – Ducks in a Row

ducks in row collage0411Sunset on the way home from the show – colorful end of day.

sunset collage042311

What is This? #10

Here’s the final What is This? for this month.

Do you know what this shows ?

what is this#10

Hints: These were on display at an event we participated in last weekend. Most folks have several of these, perhaps just not as colorful.

As always, NO prizes, just braggin’ rights cause it’s just for fun!

The answer in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Colorful Easter Sunday

Easter colors usually seem to include shades of yellows and purples. Here are those colors seen on our Sunday a.m. walk.

The yellows in this photo are buttercups, mustard green flowers, wild pansies, dandelions, and yellow wood sorrel.

Easter yellow collageThis is my favorite color, purple, in various blooms of iris, wild pansy, wild violet, and wisteria.

Easterpurple collageWe wish everyone a Happy Easter – no matter how you observe the day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hoppy Easter or Happy Earster

not so important question  . . .  ready?

Do you eat bunny ears first or last ? 
bunny ears collage
(NO, not these ears — chocolate bunnies)

Happy Easter
Our best wishes to All for a joyous day.

Where are we now??????

At the 32nd annual Decoy & Art Show in Chincoteague Va.

Here are some overviews of the show on Friday afternoon.


And a look at our display.


Sales were slow today but that is normal for this show. Rain is forecast for tomorrow which will keep the Easter visitor off the beach and at the show. Sunday it is to be in the mid 80’s.


Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets

nut-crusted chicken (2)nut-crusted chicken (4)nut-crusted chicken (3)

This week, we were really on a cooking roll at The Frog & PenguINN. It started last Sunday when Grenville prepared a delicious dinner featuring Turkish Braised Lamb Shanks. We’re been trying recipes from our subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. This small bi-monthly magazine, while costlier and smaller than some magazines at $5.95 USD and under 50 pages, features lengthy explanations with each recipe explaining the methods tried and what did (and didn’t) work best. You won’t find advertisements or color photos in these issues, but you will find very detailed and interesting articles, cooking tips and techniques, and interesting reading, especially if you enjoy cooking as much as we do.

Chicken dishes are featured quite often, which is fine with us. This one was deemed a “keeper”  by the F&P’s resident taste tester, Grenville.

Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets

According to Cook’s, the recipe works best with almonds, but you can substitute any type of nut. We have lots of shelled pecans from our fall harvest, so that’s always our “nut of choice.”

Also, the original recipe below called for using 4 cutlets and we halved it using only 2

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 C roughly chopped almonds (or other nut)
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 C panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 pie plates or shallow dishes

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°.

Poke thickest half of each breast 5-6 times with a fork, Sprinkle evenly with ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¼ tsp table salt). Refrigerate while preparing coating.

Process nuts in food processor until they resemble coarse meal.

  1. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook 4-5 minutes, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown.
  2. Add shallot (or onion) and ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¼ tsp table salt). Cook stirring constantly until just starting to brown (about 2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and ground nuts. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.
  3. Transfer panko mixture to pie plate and stir in lemon zest, thyme and cayenne pepper.
  4. Lightly beat eggs, mustard, and black pepper together in second pie plate. Put flour in third plate.
  5. Pat chicken dry with paper towel. Dredge chicken breast in flour (one at a time), shaking off excess, coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture, pressing gently so crumbs stick.
  6. Transfer breaded chicken to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes until thermometer registers 160°.

Let cutlets rest 5 minutes before serving.nut-crusted chicken (1) We served them over a bed of wild rice with a side of green vegetables.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Movies and the Easter Bunny

The NJ Photo challenges in yesterday’s post were both taken at the Bridgewater Commons early last Sat morning. This upscale shopping mall is off Rte 22 in Bridgewater, NJ, and is about a 25-minute drive from my mother’s home in Plainfield.
The first photo that asked Where is This? is a movie theatre in the mall, which was completely renovated to add this bar at the entrance. Also, patrons can order food and eat it while watching a film – at an additional cost.Times have really changed since the last time I went to a movie theatre.
theatre collage0411
Prices have too – the lower prices are for early shows (before noon) and the higher prices are late afternoon/evening prices. The smaller print says that the listed prices include 7% NJ sales tax.
Everyone was lined up to see – as Grammie G, Sandra, Christer,  and Possum correctly figured out – the Easter Bunny.
bunny collage 0411
The kids seemed less excited than the parents and grandparents.

An Eggciting Evening

Yes sirree!!!! We had a true eggstravaganza at the F&P tonight. Since we leave for the Chincoteague Decoy Show early tomorrow morning and won’t get home again till late Saturday evening we egged each other on to follow our Easter Tradition a little early. Hopefully the yoke won’t be on us. So here it is in an eggshell….
eggs 1
The pre-extras are always important. Just a 10 minute boil followed by a really cold water bath. Mixing of the dyes is a eggstended project. Eggsact measurements are essential. Reuse of eggsisting cups and egg wands is a must. All of this so we will have 12 eggstravagant Bunny Buds.
Eggs 2
We will be blogging from the Decoy Show. And hopefully we will even sell something. But even if we don’t it will be a nice mini vacation as we decided that with the price of gas and the prediction of some semi severe weather it would be almost cheaper to stay on the island over night. BUT more on that tomorrow night. Next is Fudge Tracks under some hot fudge!!!!!

NJ Photo Challenges

Here’s a couple of photo puzzlers from my recent NJ excursion. Both photos were taken on the same day and in the same place before 10 a.m.

The first one is sort of a Where is This?  The second is a What Are These People Doing?
Challenge#1: This is part of a larger establishment which features entertainment for young and old.
P1050113AHints:  People go here go to have a good time. Don’t let the bottles and glassware confuse you. This is in not just a bar or restaurant and is in a very public location.
Challenge #2: Can you tell why these folks gathered early in the morning?
Hints: Think of Santa Claus and a seasonal event.

As always, no prizes, just braggin’ rights – Answers later tonight.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good to be Home

Being home after a week away sure takes a lot of catching up. Thanks, everyone, for the comments on earlier posts from NJ and the good wishes for a safe return. All were much appreciated.

Grenville prepared a wonderful (and delicious) welcome home dinner of Turkish Braised Lamb Shanks. And, he even did the dishes – now that’s a really great Welcome Back! And, the hugs and kisses were wonderful as well. Leaving was hard, but coming home was terrific.

Since my late Sunday return, I’ve been catching up on news reports of tornadoes striking in many states and parts of VA. Grenville and I hope that all our blog reading friends were fortunate not to have sustained any damages and are safe.

Also getting back to the regular routines: exercising at the YMCA, volunteering, and house cleaning. My computer time has been limited and I’m running behind on blog reading and posting. Internet access in my mom’s NJ neighborhood; online activity was limited to a short library trip and an hour of coffee and wi-fi (free) at a Panera Bread near her home.

Here are a few quick updates on recent topics and a new one that’s not so welcome, but very seasonal.
  • GAS – back in mid-March, regular gas was $3.39/gallon. Yesterday’s price was $3.75/gallon and climbing. Prices ranged from a low of $3.53 (NJ Turnpike) on 4/10 to $3.69 – $3.85 on 4/17.
  • TEMPS – at the end of February, temps signs boasted 70-degree temps. Today we were in the mid-80s.
  • FOOD – one of our favorite topics along with cooking. Both Grenville and I have tried a few more new recipes this week (in addition to the braised lamb shanks). We’ll be posting them shortly.
  • TRAVEL – this weekend we’ll be at an art festival on Chincoteague Island where Grenville will be exhibiting and (hopefully) selling his wood turnings. It’s a 45-minute drive each way, so we’re staying overnight at a local motel for a weekend adventure.

POLLEN – it’s here and depositing a yellow-green coating on everything outdoors – cars, porches, chairs, sidewalks. It’s indoors too as the windows were open and screens down earlier this week. The winds blew a fine coating on indoor surfaces; vacuuming will be a daily task for the next few weeks. We could use a good soaking ran to wash everything down. It’s in the weekend forecast.
pollen collage0420FUN – tomorrow's post will feature a mystery place from my NJ visit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Princess Returns

WOW… that sounds like something out of King or Tolkien. ‘Return of the King’ or ‘Return on the Gun Slinger’. For a special welcome home dinner i made Turkish Braised Lamb Shanks. IMG_0928Now these poor lamb shanks had been languishing in the back of the freezer just begging to get out and onto a plate. And we had talked about this even before the NJ Trip. So today they became “Turkish Braised Lamb Shanks”. This is a recipe for four (4) but i cut it in half and it worked pretty well.

2 Tbls Paprika 2 Tbls Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Cardamom 2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice .5 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp Salt 1 tsp Black Pepper
4 Lamb Shanks 1-1.5 Lb .25 cups olive oil
2 Lg. Onions chopped .5 Lb Plums
.25 Cups Sugar 1 cup White Wine
2 cups HOT chicken Stock Salt & Pepper to Taste

Mix the Paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, salt 7 pepper in a bowl. Rub the spice mix into the lamb shanks creating a spice covering that coats the shanksIMG_0931 completely. Set them aside in the refrigerator. Cut the plums in halves or quarters and remove the pit. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the  onions and cook till they begin to brown. Add the plums and the sugar and cook for about five more minutes. Remove the onions and plums with a slotted spoon and set aside. Brown the lamb shanks in the hot oil. Make sure they are well IMG_0933 browned on all  sides. Add the white wine and cook till it is reduced by half. Next add the chicken stock (did you remember to warm it????) Now return the onions and plums. Set to simmer covered for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until lamb almost falls off the bone. After about an hour you might want to turn the shanks so both sides have time in the broth.

I served this over a bed of wild rice with a side of fresh cut Asparagus and fresh baked Italian bread.IMG_0934 IMG_0936






Sorry, No left overs!!!!!! And you thought just the Princess could cook. We will finish tonight off with some HOT FUDGE on top of Chocolate Peanut butter ice cream and part 1 of H.P. and the Deathly Hallows.

Friday, April 15, 2011

VA Morning Walk

Weekend mornings are times that Grenville and I enjoy walking around the Frog & PenguINN neighborhood on the VA eastern shore. There are several wooded areas along our route. These images were captured on a recent outing.

Nature’s beauty is all around if we just look for it.




SAM_5345I’m still on my NJ road trip where it’s rained half of this past week limiting my time outdoors, but there have been plenty of indoor projects helping my mother do some spring leaning. Internet access has also been limited  to brief interludes at a local library or a nearby Panera Bread – like tonight.

Sunday morning I’m heading home – after another 6 hour commute. Hopefully, the NJ Turnpike drivers will be more considerate than the ones on the drive here. Grenville has promised to prepare a special homecoming dinner. Details to follow.