Showing posts with label the Sailor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Sailor. Show all posts

March 17, 2017

Ocean Crossings, Cross-Stitch and Stitch Fix

It seems like I haven't shared much recently at least on this blog (you can read how I'm not teaching the Peanut to share here...) but I have to remind myself that the only deadlines I impose on this blog are the ones I make for myself. Sometimes there's simply not much to say. And sometimes I'm just saying it elsewhere. 

So, in case you've missed out on my life elsewhere, here's a recap of what's going on in my world:

:: The Sailor arrived home just in time for us to all fly to South Africa together! It has been two years since the Peanut and I were there. This time, he had his own seat, rather than my lap, which is a good thing because he's a giant.

He's a big fan of flying, although he's still not a great fan of sleeping... anywhere. Nevertheless, we spent several weeks hanging out with Ouma and Oupa and enjoying sunshine and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. We spent a lot of time outside, playing in the dirt. 

:: Cross-stitch. I still don't know what I was thinking of when I picked out this cross-stitch design for the Peanut's room. I started it back in Singapore over a year and a half ago, and then I barely touched it until over the holidays. I decided not to pack any knitting or crochet projects for our overseas trip <GASP> and instead, I just brought the safari stitching. I made some serious progress during the Peanut's nap time. And because he spent so much time simply playing outside, I got to sit under the tree and stitch without him wanting me to play with him every minute. Win win. 

And when my mother-in-law tried to pawn off some half-finished stitching she'd started when the Sailor was younger, on me, I promised myself to finish this thing by the time the Peanut's 5th birthday rolled around. At least I have a few year's buffer.

:: I signed up for Stitch Fix. My guilty pleasure TV binge used to be TLC's 'What Not to Wear' show. I secretly hoped someone would sign me up so I could get a new wardrobe. (Let's face it, I've also lived in places where I wanted to nominate the whole town simply to get people out of their pajamas.

Now, with a new post-baby body, and after changing my diet and losing more weight, nothing from my former life fits. I'm not quite sure how to dress a 40-something body, while chasing after a toddler without simply wearing athletic gear all day. So for $20, I hired a stylist! I just got my first shipment and I LOVED having items handpicked just for me that actually FIT and are geared towards my life. I'm not going to lie... the stuff was pricier than I would have paid if I had nabbed it off the rack at TJMaxx, but I'm not sure I can put a price on getting the perfect pair of skinny jeans mailed right to my door without having to try on 46 other pairs. 

(If new clothes aren't your thing, feel free to read my latest post on the Chattanooga Mom's Blog on How to Be a Savvy Secondhand Shopper.)  

:: The Sailor and I are mere days away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe it's been a decade since we tied the knot. We've done a lot of living, laughing and loving since then. I'm excited to see where the next decade of adventures take us. If you missed our story, you can read it here

Finally, a word on writing. There's a lot going on in my head about the state of the world lately and I haven't really written about it publicly. I decided one day to pull out my sadly neglected journal and I scribbled pages and pages of chicken scratch (seriously, if someone ever finds my journals, good luck deciphering them) about my thoughts. I felt so much better afterwards and it reminded me again to regularly write in my journal more often. It really does wonders for my soul. It also reminded me to keep pursuing more writing outlets. 

So I did. In February, I had this story published in the City Mom's Blog Network, the parent site of the local Chattanooga blog I now write for. I know there's a lot more in me that needs to be said. Some of it will stay in the journal. The rest though, time will tell

Happy (almost!) Spring. I hope the sun is shining wherever you are. 

March 25, 2014

Ringing in Another Anniversary

The Sailor and I got to ring in another anniversary together this year. Depending on his sailing schedule, we often spend our holidays separated by a sea, but we've managed to celebrate our anniversary together fairly often. 

We're not very typical when it comes to anniversaries... there were no gifts or cards exchanged between the two of us, and not much in the way of wining and dining (unless you count those burgers we ordered at lunch while we were running errands.) 

Last year, we looked through our wedding photos. This year, we simply spent the day together, puttering around garden centers and home improvement stores, and then finally stocking up on groceries. I made soup for dinner. We would have also had chocolate cake if we hadn't already eaten it all by the weekend. 

Today, the Sailor put up the curtain rod we picked out together for the living room. He even vacuumed up the mess afterwards. Then he looked for a good sunny spot to keep our tomato plants in until it gets warm enough to transplant them. I guess some gals need flowers and the works on their anniversaries, but me? I'll take my Sailor any day. Whether he's in the same country as me or not, he still reminds me to live, laugh and love. And that's worth far more to me than any greeting card.

November 10, 2013

Live. Laugh. Love.

I have never been one to collect knick-knacks of any sort (Pyrex does NOT count as a knick-knack)... I'm talking about little figurines that don't have much use except to sit around and collect dust on shelves. 

During the years onboard the Love Boat, I had to secure the shelf above my bed (I don't ever remember having more than one) whenever we sailed in case of rough seas. I would keep a book or journal there in port, but nothing that could shatter if it hit the floor while we sailed. 

And as a professional nomad, I usually didn't have a lot of patience for packing knick-knacks and carting them around the world -- particularly breakable ones. 

I've made an exception though -- my wedding cake-topper.

The Sailor and I have never really had a 'traditional' marriage -- with him being gone so often. We certainly didn't have the most traditional wedding (check out our handmade invitations here). We got married in South Africa on a farm with only a small number of people present. I was already living there and had yet to find a suitable cake topper, so I enlisted my mother's help from the other side of the world several months before. Our wedding may have been small, but we would certainly be sticking to the cake tradition -- even if it was Black Forrest.

My mom managed to procure a cake topper for us -- as close as she could get to something sailor-like. She put it in the mail a good two months before the wedding.

The cake topper, however, never made it to the ceremony. United States to South African post can be sketchy on the best of days, so we figured it had just been stuck in the mail and would arrive eventually. 

Several months later, the cake topper was still missing. I'm still not sure what the happy couple was doing in the meantime... but they eventually turned back up, in America. If they were ever in South Africa, they never told us.

Ever since then, I haven't let them out of my sight. 

They show up at photo shoots. 

 They like the outdoors, too. 

Sometimes they hang around next to a wedding photo in the living room -- most recently they've been leading the procession near a photo on my nightstand of the Sailor and me that says 'live, laugh, love'.

This week, I looked at the ceramic couple (I tried to ignore the dust on them -- I implore you to do the same) and the words on that photo frame, and I realized how much more I laugh when the Sailor is around. I'm not talking about a chuckle every now and again... I'm talking about the kind of laughter that makes your stomach ache and mascara run down your face. This week, I pointed out to the Sailor that I seem to have more wrinkles all of a sudden around my mascara-smeared eyes. 

He simply shrugged and said it was from too much laughing. Then his own eyes squinted and he burst out laughing.

So much has happened this year that has made us cry... but I am grateful for the fact that we are still living, loving and most of all, laughing. I'm grateful for the Sailor, who like the happy ceramic couple, goes away for months at a time, but always find his way home again.

August 16, 2013

Keeping it Fresh

Every few weeks, I try to add a few extras to my blog, besides simply new posts. A few months back, I sorted out my virtual chaos and joined Bloglovin'. Then I added an Instagram tab where you could follow me through photos I take using only my iPhone. 

Today, I added the LinkWithin widget to the bottom of my posts. I've seen it on multiple other blogs that I've stumbled across, and I liked it since it was easy to see related posts, rather than scrolling through the archives. I hope it's helpful here, too! 

I also (insert drumroll) finally entered this decade and joined Twitter today. I figured it was finally time to see what the fuss is about. The jury is still out on whether I'll use it as much as I do Instagram, but if Twitter's more your thing, you can find me there: typingsunflower. (Apparently Twitter doesn't want me to be a bouquet -- they limit their user name to only 15 characters, so I'll be a solo sunflower there. I'm a little late to the party, but I'm sure I'll catch up soon.)

In addition to all of that excitement, I decided it was high time to give you a little more information about The Sailor. I've added a tab above, to give you a whiff of salty sea air.

And, lest you think I've forgotten all about that gorgeous green yarn that I mentioned last week, I haven't. I found myself busier than usual these past few days with non-crafty projects and I haven't had the chance to cast on for my new knitwear yet. In the meantime, I did at least find a new container to keep it all organized. You can see my latest post on the Pyrex Collective III, along with more pics of that fun summery 1961 Bride's Promo here

Finally, I've had a few people ask me how they can follow my blog, without signing up for Bloglovin'. If you'd like to get email updates each time I post to Typing Sunflowers, you can sign up in the box on the right where it says: 'follow the story by email'. Once you enter your email address, hit submit, and then you'll receive a message from Typing Sunflowers. You'll need to open that email and click on the link to verify that you would like to receive updates! (The email may end up in your junk mail folder if your privacy settings are high, so be sure to check there if you don't get an email within 24 hours. That last step ensures that you actually signed up to receive updates in the first place -- otherwise anyone could enter any email address willy nilly.) The emails usually go out early the next morning, after I've posted a new entry.  

Have a great weekend, wherever you are! 

May 4, 2013

BBQs and Spring Sunshine

These past few days have been glorious in my part of the world. (I'm so sorry Minnesota, for your springtime snow...)

It was so glorious that I decided the sheep and I needed some Vitamin D, so we spent the majority of the afternoon sitting outside. 

He didn't stay in his basket the whole time. In fact, now he has a head. It's amazing how motivated I get with a little sunshine.  

All afternoon though, I smelled someone barbequing. 

No matter what I have planned to eat or what I already ate... if I smell something on a grill, I want to drop what I'm doing and fire up a BBQ. 

It's the time of year when my own carnivorous cravings kick in and I too want to throw meat on the grill. A few weeks ago, I did just that. Well, actually, my mother threw the meat on, and then we tag-teamed for the final result.

Sadly, the results weren't pretty. The steaks didn't taste terrible, but we nodded our heads in agreement, in between chewing, that the Sailor was much more of a grilling champion than we were.

Today, as the BBQs wafted through the air, I once again counted the days until the Sailor arrives home.

In the meantime, I'm brushing up on my grilling skills, because I'm not sure I can wait until he gets home to make myself a steak again. If you missed the Sailor's South African braai (BBQ) rules earlier, you can find those here

What are you grilling this weekend?

April 11, 2013

Handmade Wedding Invitations

I promised you a little tutorial on how I made my wedding invitations here.

I knew I wanted to make my invitations from the start. I have always enjoyed working with paper (and as obsessive as I am about yarn... paper and I go way back. I think it's still my favorite. Just don't tell that basket of wool sitting next to the stack of scrapbooking supplies.) 

I didn't get married that long ago... but Pinterest wasn't around for ideas when the Sailor and I finally tied the knot. Thankfully, Michaels and and other craft stores were. Nowadays, there seems to be no shortage of places to purchase supplies -- at least here in America. (For those of you who don't live near massive chain stores... I do still believe that sometimes the most creative projects blossom with using only what's on hand! I also believe in Etsy... and how easy it is to order something from across the globe.)

Nevertheless, I did have an arsenal of craft supplies at my ready. Because I married a sailor, and since we met on a ship, I wanted to somehow incorporate a sea theme into the invitations. I also knew that many people wouldn't make the wedding due to travel, so I spent extra time and money on the invitations. I wanted to give the people who couldn't make it, their own little keepsake of our day. 

I started by scratching out some ideas in my notebook. I find that some people are afraid to even sketch ideas -- like they will mess up. Impossible, I say... that's why you sketch the idea. 

Most of the time, my finished product only resembles the sketches in one small way. In this case, I took away the concept of putting the info on handmade luggage tags. The Sailor and I traveled a lot in our dating years, and we still do today, so I wanted that to be part of the theme. 

I knew I wanted to put all of the info on the luggage tags -- I've always loved scrapbooks and invitations that are very hands on. I thought it would be fun for people to pull out each tag for the information. 

Once I found the blue paper, it all kind of fell into place.

Each tag held various bits of essential information: 

Shore leave: I used a printed map of South Africa on the front, and on the back, listed the nearest transportation hubs.  

Navigation: The Sailor acquired some old navigation charts for me to use on the front of these. On the back, more specific details of where the wedding would be held and how to book rooms at the location.

Port History: The photo on the front is one of the Anastasis Mercy Ship -- where we met. You can see from the photo below, I listed the port cities we traveled to together. I also found small silver beads and tied them onto the hemp on this tag -- they reminded me of miniature wedding rings.

SOS: Life-ring on the front; RSVP contact info on the back.

Once I got the luggage tags together, I still needed a way to keep them all together with the invitation. A friend of mine helped and we came up with the idea to use a flap, and then we hammered little brads in to keep the flap from falling apart. 

I wrote the actual invitation by hand on the inside of the invitation, and the flap held all of the tags. I chose a Bible verse that seemed particularly applicable to our situation, and put the first half on the front, and the second half on the flap.  

For half of our dating life, and now our marriage, 
we have been separated by a sea.
"Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away..." 
Song of Songs 8:7

I tied everything together with hemp (I love using hemp for all kinds of projects, but this time, it looked a little like mooring lines) and I found little anchor trinkets to put on the front. I also used necklace clasps on the hemp -- I searched until I found ones that looked a little like a life-ring.  

I also tied the bottom of the invitation together with a little hemp knot -- you can see the brad, but I've already untied the bottom. 

Our wedding was on a serious budget. The Sailor was in navigation school right before we married, and I was working as a volunteer with various non-profits. I decided to splurge though on the invitations, but in the end, to make and mail 60 of them (many of them internationally), only cost about $200. 

I never bothered to price what it would have cost to have someone else print them for me, but I don't think it would have been much cheaper. Plus, I love how they turned out.

After the wedding, I ended up using the same luggage tag and blue theme for my scrapbook to showcase a few photos. 

Like the invitation, I used the tags to write info on the back. For these 'style' shots, I wrote stories of when and where I got various bits of my wedding ensemble. 

I also used the tags and leftover anchors as part of my thank you notes. 

I think overall, people 'got' the sea and traveling theme, and they felt included in the day, even if they couldn't make it.
Have you previously made, or are you currently creating invitations for anything by hand? I'd love to hear your ideas.  

March 29, 2013

Happy Anniversary

This past weekend, the Sailor and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. It's the first time in a while that we've actually been in the same country together on the day, so we decided to look at our wedding photos while we had the chance.

Pulling down the dusty scrapbook made me realize how long it had been since I looked at our photos. Then when the invitation fell out, I realized I really should do something more with it besides sticking it in the album. 

It also reminded me how much FUN I had making all of our wedding invitations. 

So much fun, I'm going to share even more with you... a little tutorial, if you will. 

But not now.

Soon, though. 

I promise. 

{update: wedding invitation tutorial here}

March 17, 2013

Red Bugs in Mexico

Our recent cruise itinerary included Mexico. For someone who is as well traveled as me... I had never before been to Mexico. (Don't laugh, I made it to countless other countries before I even ventured into Canada.)

The Sailor had previously been to Cozumel before and joked that we wouldn't miss much if we simply stayed on board for the day. Nevertheless, we made the obligatory rounds through the tourist spots, and then on a whim, decided to rent some sort of dune buggy for the day. 

Excited as we were at our spontaneity, the rental place was all out of dune buggies. But the owner offered us a beat-up old red Volkswagen instead. 

We took it. 

From the moment we sat inside and turned the ignition, we were laughing. The car sputtered to life. My seat flew forward in the tracks every time the Sailor braked. I got stuck in the seat belt and had to shimmy out when we stopped. There were no side windows, the rear-view mirror served no real purpose, and when we stopped to put gas in the car, the attendant pulled out a rag that was being used to plug the petrol. A rag.

Then the rag blew away. 

Some German tourists walked past and stopped to take a photo of our Bug (while we sat inside, waving to the attendant that the rag had blown away.)

After driving halfway around the island and having the vinyl sun roof flap on my head, we rolled it up, only to get baked by the mid-day sun. 

At one point I mistakenly turned around, looked at the non-existent back seat, and I noticed the floor was rusting through. 

The Sailor and I suddenly felt like the Flintstones. 

We managed to get the whole way around the island, and returned the car in one piece (or at least in the number of pieces we left with initially!)

Every time I meet a couple who has been married 50 plus years, I make it a point to ask them their secret to success. Without a doubt, every single one of them says to keep a sense of humor going throughout the marriage and life. 

There were numerous reasons I fell for the Sailor; his sense of humor was definitely tops. 

Later that night, my neck hurt. In fact my whole body kind of felt like I had been jolted around on a wooden roller coaster. The biggest pain of all? My stomach hurt from laughing so much. But that made everything else worth it. The Sailor and I still have a good chuckle every time we talk about the Bug.

February 14, 2013

Feeling Blue on Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day brings up a myriad of emotions. Me? I'm not really a big fan. I think I'm still a little scarred by a former job.

Years ago, I worked as a temp at a local flower store for the Valentine's Day rush.

Now, before you get all excited with images of quaint flower stalls crammed between meat and veg vendors in open air markets in Europe, or even your local florist with the fresh, wrapped roses you may have already bought for you sweetheart, let me first tell you the honest truth. 

I never even TOUCHED a flower there. 

Eight hours on my feet daily, surrounded by roses, carnations, baby's breath, Hershey Kisses and teddy bears -- I got to spend the majority of that temp job stapling cellophane.  

Cellophane. Cello-PAIN. 

I hate cellophane. It's the first thing I rip off of flowers when I buy them. And it is usually the first thing most people rip off before they place their flowers in a vase, but the cellophane's job was to keep the flowers neat, clean and alive, apparently. My mundane job on the other hand, was to fold and staple countless sheets, so that someone else could actually wrap the arrangements. 

I didn't get any flowers from the Sailor that year. He was halfway around the world, and I told him not to bother. I saw enough flowers in that 'factory', even if they weren't mine to keep. 

This year, thankfully, I didn't spend the week leading up to Valentine's Day at the florist. (Nor did I make use of any cellophane, whatsoever... although I did battle with some plastic wrap this afternoon when I covered the potato salad.

I did however get fairly far knitting my blue cardi.

Then, as I started to weave in the ends, I noticed that the ones in the back didn't look so neat. The sloppy weaving was right in the middle of the back, where I had joined a new ball of yarn. 

I never join a new ball of yarn right in the middle of a sweater. But because I added some length to this sweater, and since I neglected to buy an 'extra' ball of yarn, I was so afraid of running out of the blue, that I joined a new ball in the middle. 

The thing is... I never really joined it. I always put a double knot where I join my knitting. Some people say this is the worst thing to do -- if you're not careful, it leaves a lump right where you weave in the ends. This time, because I couldn't hide the lump (small as it may have been...) in the seam or at the side, I decided not to knot the balls the together. I just left a few inches and weaved the ends in. 

Then when I saw the sloppiness of my weaving, I pulled one out. And somehow (I'm guessing because I didn't tie a knot in there!) I managed to put a hole in my knitting.

 I gasped. Then I stared at the hole for a while. 

 Then I decided to make an even bigger hole, in my attempt to fix the damage. It you're going to mess something up, you may as well go whole hog, right?

(Ironic, isn't it, that my knitting needles have formed a frown?)

I made an effort to graft the stitches together, but in the end, it didn't look very nice. Plus, I had the mess at the back to contend with. The Sailor took one look at it and suggested I start over completely. I resisted the urge to take the long circular needle to his neck... and decided he was right. 

So I ripped out the knitting. And ripped. Then ripped some more. The whole monotonous ripping and winding reminded me of that temp job stapling cellophane. But before I knew it, the sleeveless portion of my cardigan was back into balls. 

By now perhaps you're wondering why I ripped the WHOLE thing out?? Well, because I had already sewn the button band on (not pictured in the above 'vest' photo), I had to rip that out too. And in my carelessness, I started to rip out the bottom of the cardigan by mistake. So I figured that I may as well rip the whole thing out while I'm at it. 

I was so frustrated by the whole thing, that I was ready to throw the yarn into the trash. I felt like the color of the yarn. The Sailor reminded me that we learn by our mistakes. He's right. And sometimes things look pretty ugly before they become beautiful. 

I decided to take my mess and try out the yarn ball winder my mother-in-law just gave me. I love that she taught me to knit and she's passing along to me a vintage item that she herself used for years. 

I enlisted the Sailor's help to wind the balls. (I know they're in balls above... but this yarn winder makes them into center-pull balls, which is infinitely better. It also means the yarn isn't rolling around in dog hair on the floor while I knit.)

I explained to him how the ball winder works, and he just looked at me while he calmly reminded me that he helped his mother wind numerous hanks of yarn when he was a kid. 

By about the fourth ball, I realized that cellophane or not, I didn't need any flowers from the Sailor on Valentine's Day (I get plenty during the rest of the year...) 

Hanging out with him for the day was enough. Having him believe I could create the cardi over again was even better. Helping me wind the balls of yarn was just an added bonus. 

February 11, 2013

The Sailor's 'Braai' Rules

There's nothing quite like the smell of a BBQ... or as it's known in South Africa, a 'braai'. 

The first time I ever spent the day with the Sailor, we were on a beach in Sierra Leone, West Africa with another South African family. Somehow, they had acquired lamb chops, and a small grill, and we spent the day swimming, getting tanned, digging holes in the sand and acting like kids, and of course we ate. Lots. I still remember licking my fingers clean of those amazing chops. 

I felt sorry for the vegetarian who was with us that day. Seriously, I ached because she didn't taste how yummy those lamb chops were. 

Since then, the Sailor and I have lost count of the number of places we have had a braai. No matter where we are though, the Sailor has a set of rules to abide by when grilling. 

1. Use wood and charcoal. Gas grilling may be quicker, but the Sailor swears by the taste of wood and charcoal. It takes longer... but that's kind of the point of a braai. You get to hang out with your friends and family while the fire cooks. 

2. Make sure the grill is clean -- just scrub it with a wire brush beforehand.

3. Meat tenderizer is acceptable to use before you grill, however do not salt the meat until it’s on the braai. The Sailor says it sometimes makes the meat tough if you salt it too early.

4. Braai at least three types of meat (burgers and hot dogs not allowed... get creative!)

5. Always leave a little piece at the end for the eldest dog -- in this case, Rex.

And before you say it's too cold to braai... even the Sailor has grilled in sub-zero temps, in the snow. Just think of it as an early summertime treat.

February 9, 2013

Dexter, the Wonder Dog

One of the things I most look forward to whenever we return to South Africa (besides hammocking, of course) is seeing Dexter. 

Dogs are plentiful in SA. The Sailor's parents currently have three of them, but Dexter is by far our favorite.

I think Dexter is actually smiling a little here, while sitting in his guard dog position.
You see, he was our wedding gift to the parents years ago, but somewhere along the way, he became 'our' dog. We took care of him in those early weeks and helped him adjust to life with the other dogs. Now, even though we can't take him with us across the ocean, he seems like 'our' dog whenever we visit. When we first got him, we thought for sure he was a Fox Terrier, but along the way, we figured out that he might be actually be a Jack Russel.

We're still not completely convinced of his lineage, but one thing is for sure, he's definitely still Dexter. 

And with a face like that, who wouldn't love to be greeted by a dog like Dexter daily?

I think he also knows he's a Wonder Dog. His only quirk? He sheds a ton. My blue cardi I'm knitting is full of white fur. It's definitely getting a good wash before I wear that thing.

January 26, 2013

Fridge Milk Tart

The Sailor is home-bound so I thought I would make him a special dessert. Since I discussed his distaste for pasta in my last post, I figured it's only fair to share something he actually enjoys -- South African Fridge Milk Tart. 

Fridge what?

It does sound a little strange... I admit. It's kind of like custard, but with a bottom crust. 

My first encounter with Milk Tart was at a South African braai, or BBQ, along a beach in Sierra Leone, West Africa. (That alone is a story for another time...) As a non-South African, I got invited because the Sailor and I were dating. The day was filled with all manner of South African good eats, but I was particularly taken with the Milk Tart -- especially when the Sailor mentioned how much he liked it. 

I cornered the gal who made it and said she must give me the recipe. 

While I'm not a fan of haphazardly posting other people's recipes online (there is somewhat of a copyright controversy in the blogging world) I feel assured that this is a fairly standard Milk Tart recipe. And since she gave me scribbles from memory on how to make it, I'm quite certain she didn't remember who passed it on to her. I have made some minor changes to the recipe (mainly more detailed instructions... the scribbles were a little vague!)

Now I share it with you. Go forth... try something new. Pretend it's summer, and you're having a braai. Unless of course you're in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, there is no need to pretend. 


1 Packet of Marie Biscuits (These are not always easy to find in the USA. I found 'Goya Maria' ones that are the same. I have also used animal crackers in the past, with great success!) 
1/2 cup of butter 
1 tin of condensed milk 
3 tins of whole milk (roughly 3.5 cups - I actually just use the condensed milk tin to measure the regular milk while I'm making it) 
3 tablespoons of maizena (cornstarch) 
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
cinnamon for sprinkling

Melt the Butter

Crush the Marie biscuits. 

You can crush them even more, but I like my crust to have some substance.

Add the melted butter to the biscuits. Press the mixture into a large rectangular pan (like a 9"x13") or two or three smaller dishes. 

Refrigerate the crust.


Heat the milk, maizena, and egg yolks on medium high heat. Use a whisk to remove any lumps. Stir until the mixture thickens. This may take about 10 minutes. 

As soon as it thickens, add the condensed milk, salt and vanilla. Stir together. Fold in the egg whites. 

Stir a bit more until thick again and reduce heat. The mixture burns quickly, so watch it carefully. 

Pour the mixture onto the refrigerated crust. At this point, the mixture may still be runnier than you expect, but it will continue to thicken once it cools. (And, as a side note, if it never thickens, it still tastes good... it is just sloppier to eat and has more of a pudding consistency.) 

Sprinkle cinnamon all over and then refrigerate until chilled. 

Enjoy! Or, as they say in Afrikaans... Lekker eet!

(Still craving more? I'm one of many bloggers on the Pyrex Collective III blog. Go here for my post on how I got that gorgeous Butterprint blue dish holding the Marie biscuits. You can also see more of my vintage refrigerator dish obsession here.)

January 23, 2013

Comfort Food = Mac & Cheese

I love pasta. I'm sure I would have made my grandmother's family proud. Somewhere out there is a distant Italian relative who just shouted 'hurrah' across the ocean.

I have always been a macaroni and cheese kind of gal -- of course as a child, it conveniently came out of a box, and was one of the first things I probably learned to 'make'. Most of my pasta still comes out of a box, but only the pasta itself, and not the packet of orange powder.

When the Sailor isn't home, I tend to eat far too much pasta. He doesn't eat it, nor do I ever expect him to. A friend's father in England often used to say, 'If God wanted me to eat pasta, I would have been born in Italy.' 

The Sailor tends to agree with that line of reasoning. 

So the only pasta dish that gets made when he's home is the occasional lasagna, or some sort of dough stuffed with either potatoes or meat -- a pierogie, for instance. Floating noodles (like in the case of Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie*) are also acceptable, perhaps once if not twice a year. 

With temperatures at -19 F this morning (seriously, Old Man Winter -- isn't that a little chilly, even for you?) I was craving comfort food. 

I also wanted any excuse to use this gorgeous 2.5 quart Butterfly Gold vintage Pyrex casserole dish I found last week, at an antique store with a friend (it's the one on the bottom. The top one is a 1.5 quart I found ages ago.)

I had been lamenting not nabbing this piece months ago at the Weekend Antique event I went to, but at $20, I couldn't really justify it. Plus, I already found the refrigerator dishes I wanted that day. Sometimes you need to space out the joy.
But last week, I had just put down several pieces of Butterfly Gold that I didn't really like or want (the divided casserole... a few bowls that I already had...) and then I spied this lovely beast in a corner, for only $4. 

That's right. FOUR dollars! It had a few burn marks on it -- and it came with a clear lid, not the white patterned lid like some of the casseroles did, but I couldn't have cared less. I wanted the actual dish! 

 Turns out 2.5 quarts is just the right size for this classic mac and cheese casserole. 

I based the recipe off of this one from Annie's Eats. After I threw the casserole in the oven, and double checked the cooking time, I realized that I somehow completely skipped an entire main ingredient. 

I didn't add any colby jack cheese. 

(Not only did I not add it, but I didn't make up for it with any other cheese. How sad is that?)

I also had about half the amount of panko bread crumbs the recipe called for in my cupboard, no parsley, and no chicken broth (how is this possible? I ALWAYS have chicken broth somewhere.) Fortunately, I happen to save the turkey juice from Christmas lunch, so I used that instead, along with a little bit of veggie broth to get it up to the required amount. I was pretty chuffed with myself, since I do like to use up what I already have in most cases.

And, I used almond milk instead of regular milk, and quite possibly more garlic -- this dish definitely had some heat.
In my world, classic macaroni and cheese pairs perfectly with stewed tomatoes. But I only had a handful of cherry tomatoes that I needed to use up, so I sliced them in half and tossed them on top of the casserole. 

Regardless of my kitchen mishap with both directions and ingredient lists, the dish was delightful edible. And I have more than enough leftovers for lunch until the Sailor gets home.

I think next time though, I'll definitely try to stick with the original recipe -- with one exception. I will most certainly keep the tomatoes in there.

* For my true opinion on Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie, click here.