Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New England Vacation -- Mystic Seaport CN

The plan* was to fly out Thursday morning, May 26, and arrive in Hartford CT around 5pm that evening. We were flying American Airlines, so were routed through Dallas/Fort Worth. As you may have heard, there was a lot of weather in the Midwest, including TX, so our flights were cancelled. I was moved to Friday and Dan was delayed all the way until Saturday, not arriving until after the wedding. I did some scrambling around, cancelling Dan's Burbank to Hartford flights and rescheduling him on Southwest Airlines. So, basically, we flew across the country on Friday, separately together....

We arrived in Hartford after midnight Friday night (too late to pick up our rental car), took a taxi to the hotel, and slept most of Saturday. That evening we attended the event we had flown to the East Coast for -- the wedding of our friends Denise Gattinella and Eric Lopez. Denise was a beautiful bride, Eric was proud and beaming and all of us were happy to be there to share this occasion with them.

Eric and Denise went off to Cabo San Lucas for their honeymoon; the rest of us are staying in Connecticut for the week and partying!

On Sunday, we took a drive to Mystic Seaport to see how ships are made and to attend (and eat our way through) a lobsterfest!

The event was held at the wharf where there is a visitors center; we went there first to figure out what was going on so we could make a plan for the day.*

There were many galleries and museums to tour here....

...ships in the harbor and beautiful homes across the water.

We toured a shipbuilding facility; one of the first things we saw was a huge log splitter that cut boards of uniform thickness for ship hulls.

To take the picture above, I stood on a balcony overlooking a workshop of very large proportions to accommodate the size of the seafaring ships that were built on site. The flags above pictured and named the various stages of shipbuilding that were done here.

Dan and me, on a platform outside the shipbuilding facility....

The groom's brother, Chad, and mom, Rhonda, inside an area where finishing work was done. There was a lot of sawdust on the floor!

We got to climb all over a ship that was built here in Mystic Seaport; it's been in dry dock and set up just for tourists to learn more about what life was like onboard a ship. Some of the "rooms" were set up to show us how the limited space on a ship was utilized for all of the things that had to be done on it -- working, sleeping, cooking, the barber shop, etc.

At left is one of the stoves -- not for cooking, but to help propel the ship through the water.

Abryann on a platform that we never did figure out a use for....

After we did all the educational stuff, we went over to the Boat Shed for the lobsterfest. Half of us ate lobster with melted butter and the other half had hot dogs; everybody got corn on the cob and cole slaw and lemonade. Those of us who had lobster rented the metal claw crackers for $1.00; when we brought back the crackers, we got a cookie! Good way to ensure that the group sponsoring the lobsterfest got all their utensils back!

We got back to the hotel too tired to eat dinner, so Dan and I got Drumsticks from the freezer part of the hotel pantry -- hooray for Marriott!

Next up -- Salem, Massachusetts, to learn about witches!

*Plan for the day: Our group numbered 20, so we often found that our plan for the day frequently shifted to Plan B, Plan C, or Plan Whatever the Heck It Was as we figured out how to accommodate our large numbers!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spent a Morning Baking....

We were having friends to dinner Tuesday evening, so I decided to put the morning to good use and bake some goodies to eat:

The first thing I made was this Sesame White Bread, a recipe I found on a blog on the internet. The way it is made is pretty interesting and easy! Flour, water and yeast are combined in the mixing bowl of your electric mixer; I used my KitchenAid and after the three ingredients were mixed, I just put Press & Seal over the bowl, pressing it over the bowl edges and around the beaters, covering everything and sealing all the air out. Then you can go away for anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on how much time you have and how much flavor you want to develop, and let the sponge rise. When I came back about an hour later, I took off the Press & Seal and added salt, butter and more flour and let the mixer knead the dough.

A quick hand knead, shaping and a 30 minute rise and 30 minute bake yielded the above loaf. I've made this several times and it's really yummy with a fine crumb and a slightly yeasty flavor from the "sponge" stage.

I taught at Downtown Sewing Machine Co. in Henderson NV last weekend and stopped by the Williams-Sonoma outlet in Primm NV on my way home. One of the things I bought was this Milk Chocolate Pound Cake mix. Tuesday morning I mixed it up with the additional ingredients and spread it in a pottery 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan from Longaberger.

This is what I took out of the oven about 70 minutes later....

The recipe called for cooling it in the pan for 15 minutes and then turning it out onto a rack to cool further. I decided to make the optional cocoa glaze that was supposed to be spread on the cake when it was still warm.

Following the directions on the box, first I melted butter -- with this much butter, it's gotta be good, right? Then cocoa and confectioners sugar were added and beaten until smooth....

The idea was to get it smooth, but obviously mine isn't -- tasted fabulous, though. I sliced it in 1/2" slices and topped each serving with the Trader Joe's equivalent of cookies and cream ice cream, whipped cream and Midnight Moo, the chocolate syrup that was pictured in the first photo -- YUM!

Have You Ever Been Too Busy to Get Anything Done?

I was recently reading a blog of a lady who writes some pretty cool sci-fi/fantasy novels and she was asked when she was coming out with her next book. Her reply was that it wasn't written yet and that she had just been too busy to get anything done! It made me think about how easy it is to get all tied up with all sorts of things and let others slide by the wayside. Not an excuse for not keeping up with the blog, but a decision to get back to it.....

Monday afternoon was our May JAM meeting at Tiffany's; the only people there were Tiffany, Dawna and me. I didn't have anything done, but the other two have been busy:

Dawna loves triangles and this is a block from one of the quilts she is working on.....the half-square triangle in the upper right hand corner forms a pinwheel when combined with three other blocks.

She's also doing a couple of machine embroidered quilts; the closeup below shows how some of the stitches are cut after the embroidery is done to give a three dimensional effect.

This is a crazy quilt that Dawna is making; the crazy quilting, as well as the quilting done in the outside triangles, are all done in the embroidery hoop.

This is Tiffany's latest; all pieced and ready for her to take off the wall and quilt. When Tiffany is not at the machine or designing new quilts for her company, Needle in a Hayes Stack, she likes to do hand applique. She mostly does this in the evening, hanging out with her family.

I had found a pattern I liked in the April 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens American Patchwork & Quilting called "Posey Patch". If you have the magazine, the pattern starts on page 23. I liked the piecing, but asked Tiffany if she could design (and stitch!) an applique pattern on the blocks that I liked better.

This is what she came up with -- I LOVE IT!

She had three out of the four blocks finished on Monday and will give me the fourth when Dan and I get home from Connecticut next week -- then I can finish piecing the rest of the quilt.

We were supposed to leave today for a trip to Hartford CN for the wedding of some dear friends, but weather in the midwest caused many plane cancellations, including ours. So we are leaving tomorrow instead -- looking for the silver lining, it gave me an extra day to pack and get a lot of other things done, including write this blog post!

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