For Aunt Kris


The roosters in Key West made me think of you! These guys roam the streets there just like the squirrels do here at home. This particular guy was watching us eat our mojo pork sandwiches outside of the Cuban Coffee Queen. One website I saw described the gypsy chickens as “noisy and colorful, just like key west.”



Let the kielbasa making begin…. shortly

Remember back in late winter, early spring when I told you all that I was going to learn how to make kielbasa in time for Shane’s birthday? Well, that date is sneaking up on me. It’s just under a month away now, so I finally got around to ordering my meat grinder, which showed up earlier this week. 

Coincidentally, one of the chefs I work with is participating in a butcher’s contest this weekend and is starting to make Thai sausage as I type. Sounds like a great opportunity to see how it works before I dive in myself. I say that the sausage making will begin shortly because I’m heading out to Idaho for a week’s vacation on Saturday.

Once I get back, I’ll have three full weeks to get the kielbasa making down. You can expect to see some updates on that process as well as a few pics from Idaho! 

Homemade Pop Tarts

ImageThis week I tried out a new recipe that was so good I felt compelled to hop back on here and share it with you all: pop tarts.

At least one person seemed a bit surprised that I was making pop tarts, so let me explain. Personally when it comes to the boxed toaster pastries, I could take them or leave them. The filling makes me happy, but the abundance of flavorless crust does not. My boyfriend on the other hand, finds them to be the perfect night time snack and when I saw this recipe I felt compelled to try to top one of his favorites.

Here’s a link to the recipe from Smitten Kitchen:

I made two types, strawberry and blueberry, using a strawberry glaze for both. These things are AMAZING straight out of the oven. I not only burnt my tongue pretty badly because I just couldn’t wait to taste them, I also made my roommate get out of bed to come have a taste and she agreed it was worth it. I found a basic recipe for the glaze on someone else’s blog, pretty simple just powdered sugar, a splash of milk and a bit of fruit (one strawberry in this case).

ImageShane agreed that the bar has been raised.

Next time I think I’ll try using apricot and cantaloupe ginger preserves as filling. I picked up a jar of apricot preserves for this batch, but just didn’t feel like heating up three different batches of filling by the time I got home. The cantaloupe ginger preserves have been sitting in my cupboard since I took a canning class two summers back. They came out a little on the runny side and I think that simmering them with cornstarch would be the perfect way to finally get to enjoy them.

The next favorite I’m going to try to improve upon, or at least wow Shane with, kielbasa. It’s going to happen Val! Don’t expect an update next week or anything, but within the next few months, you will most likely hear about it. I’m giving myself until August to pull that one off since it requires equipment. In the mean time, let me know if you decide to try out the pop tarts!

Camping on Old Rag Mtn.

When you really start to think that I’ve disappeared, or given up on this blog, you should have some sort of sneaking suspicion that a semi-quarterly update is lurking. Here it is:

Over the weekend Shane and I camped out on Old Rag Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. This was my first time winter camping and backcountry camping. I know that I am not alone in saying that this is hands down my favorite day hike in the area. Late in the afternoon on Saturday, we hiked in on the fire road which most folks take on their way out, completing the loop. We found a nice spot about two and a half miles in to the eight mile circuit. We set up our tent shortly before dark, explored the woods a bit and then basically hunkered down for the night as soon as the temperature started to drop. The forecast was calling for the day’s winds to die down and a low of 27 degrees, but the winds kept going for some time and it felt like it got to be a little colder than called for. The only thing that was able to get me out of my sleeping bag after dark was a glimpse of the sky. The stars sparkled like diamonds and I did head out just long enough to feel as though I had really taken them in. In the morning Shane fixed up some ramen noodles and coffee to get us warmed up and ready to hike. It’s always fun to share this hike with someone who’s never done it before. Especially someone who really appreciates it! Check out some of the views below and you’ll see why I love it so much.

Dress Silhouette


In my last post (I know, I know, it’s been ages) I was trying to figure out how I wanted to frame this silhouette, so I figured I ought to share the finished version with you. As soon as I saw this floral paper, I knew I had to use it. I liked it so much, in fact, that I had to go back and buy some for myself!

Finding the dress


My best friend, Erin, recently got engaged and on Wednesday evening she found her dress. I was so happy to be there to share the moment with her and to see how happy she looked when she put the right one on. When I was going through some of the photos I took, I just loved the shots of her walking around with her arms stretched out. They seemed to best convey that happiness and seemed like they’d make a great silhouette for a paper cutting. I was originally going to frame the rectangular piece, but now that it’s cut out, I think I like the figure itself better. What do you think?

Introducing Biscuit


Before I left for Iowa, I wasn’t sure what was more exciting, the bike ride I was about to begin, or the fact that I could start looking for a cat as soon as I got home. The bike ride ended up being so much fun, no big surprise. There is plenty more to say about that, but for now I just want to introduce you to Biscuit, the handsome little fella who came home with me on Thursday. He already seems to be rather well adjusted to his new home. He’s quite the snuggeler and must have felt his ears burning because he has just decided to come to bed and curl up next to me.