Death and Downton

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

(no real spoilers here if you’ve not already seen the Season Three finale) – It was such a sad Sunday!  Plus, someone in my Facebook feed blew the whole ending hours before it was on…still a bit bitter about that!  C didn’t know…and I didn’t let on too much…only, shaking my head now and again “it’s gonna be sad…”  Immediately, after the ending, I actually had to laugh…C’s reaction was “are you kidding me?!  Those were probably the only two cars in the village and WHAT… were they going 20 mph??”  So, you hear that Julian Fellowes?  You’ll have to do better to impress us…but do stop killing main characters…thanks!

After that episode, I did wonder if anyone would buy my cross stitch patterns (they have thankfully).  But now is probably as good of time as any to remind everyone of my New Girl TV show cross stitch.  Also, an enjoyable show…and no one has died!

Other than falling into a deep Downton depression; I spent the last couple days doing some deep purging – my bedroom closet is nearly organized with three large boxes of clothes off to donate!  We also cooked a really simple dish of slow cooked black beans and rice.  We used purple rice; it’s new to me…a Louisiana product that was specially developed to be higher in antioxidants.  Its not suppose to taste different but I thought had a slight nutty flavor…which I liked.  The only downside seemed to be we could not stop singing Purple Rain while we cooked…and subsequently it stayed stuck in our heads for most of the evening!

Purple rice looks lovely before its cooked…but once cooked it looks a bit wormy.  Blending it with the black beans was a good call and delish for a cold night!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Road Trip: Biloxi, MS

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, or maybe months that no matter how positive you set out to be, someone is just determined to knock you down?  I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but the building our shop resides in is also owned by us too…it’s a beautiful, historic building from 1925!  We have a few additional tenants that share the building with us and in the 6 years we’ve been landlords, we’ve treated them like family – in many cases their living and work conditions at the building are better than mine at home as I always put the building’s maintenance before my own.  We’ve been so lucky with good people; now there is a rotten apple spoiling the entire bunch.  So, basically it’s been a madhouse there and I haven’t slept much in a week and this week I’m sure will be no different as we are gearing up for part deux.

Roughly about the same time I had received a postcard to attend a small gift show on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Half-heartly, I showed C; figuring I’d hear a big “No!” and “Are you crazy, we can’t do that with all this insanity,” instead she actually thought we should get away if even for the day.  It really was just the thing to take my mind off our troubles even if it was “work related.”  The show was small but had a nice variety of items plus shopping at a market always makes me feel hopeful.  I found some really unique things for all my venues – from the brick and mortar to Etsy.  Namely, some chevron print burlap (it is the coolest and I’ll will be heartbroken if its backordered!), some amazing new candle scents from my existing vendor, Fairhope Soy and some beautiful pewter pendants.

biloxi, ms

Afterwards, we couldn’t miss a walk on the beach when visiting Biloxi!  Some of the beach front still has damage from Katrina and we explored some beach front ruins and waded a bit in the calm waters.  It was actually warm enough…in January, I know, right?!  Then we stumbled upon a beach front restaurant, Shaggy’s; the sign at the entrance said “Now entering island time.”  That sounded good to me!  I ordered the crab cakes and they were amazing, plus the view of the Gulf right from my table was amazingly healing.  I decided to take that tiny piece of paradise with me to revisit in the coming weeks even if it is just a memory.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Local Flavor

January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s been rainy for weeks it feels like here…(I know, I know…much better than shoveling snow, Northerners?).  I took a pause too as it was time to make the haul over to Houston and get my head examined for the umpteenth time at MD Anderson.  All clear – I even joked that after so many MRI’s could I get this one free…no one laughed.  Oh well – I guess you just can’t make cancer funny!  I never start anything or order anything for the shop a couple weeks before the big trip just in case I ever receive bad news – there’s nothing like returning to project and realizing this is the cross stitch or crocheted scarf you started before you knew you had cancer.  So I just don’t chance it…and now I’m super behind with everything!  But I am happy I get to stick around a little longer in good health and feel well enough to tackle this mountain of busyness!

Taste of Bavaria

Right before we left, we did take some time out to have breakfast at one of our favorite local jewels…Taste of Bavaria.  Totally a destination, this restaurant has been around since I was a girl on the opposite side of town; you drive up to a few quaint cottages that resemble a German village…just adorable.  The food is always good, German fare…no fast food either; it may take a little while as everything is  made to order but plenty more time to enjoy the ambiance.

Taste of Bavaria

Here I am…actually trying not to think about the trip to Houston!

Anywho, I’m such a proponent of Shop Local efforts in town and with my customers, I realized on my way home one night when I saw a new sign they erected, “Please Support Our Local Business,” that yeah – it had been a better part of a year since I had eaten there.  I know first hand how frustrating it can feel to create a lovely business that donates to most local charities, entertains it’s tourists and pays local taxes, to not feel appreciated.  Patronage (i.e. spending some money) is the only way to let businesses know you value them and want them to stay a vital part of your community.  *stepping down from my soapbox*

Corn Beef Hash at Taste of Bavaria

Corn Beef Hash with Poached Eggs

Breakfast is their specialty and it was awesome!    I ordered the corn beef hash and C got the Hopple Popple (one of us had to order that because I just needed to say that out loud!).  Both were just perfect for a cold and dreary morning.

Hopple Popple at Taste of Bavaria

The Hopple Popple! A delicious omelet with bratwurst

–Lisa LeBlanc

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A New Project

December 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

I know I said no new projects before Christmas!  I couldn’t help myself, ok?  Since I’ve not been able to embroidered or crochet because of my hand injury, I’m rediscovering some of my old loves like sewing and silk-screening.  A few months back, you may recall when I introduced my new fabric collection with Spoonflower, Julia’s Kitchen, based on Julia Child’s fleur de lis motif in her book the Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I took the design in a new direction and began to work with it on some small silk-screened runs.

Here’s a peek of Julia’s iconic fleur de lis trio incorporated in these fun citrus towels.  I had planned on screening this design on crisp white towels but they are back-ordered until January.  Initially disappointed, I am so glad it pushed me to try something different.  These are certainly more lively, just like Julia herself!

purchase one of these limited edition towel right here.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Persimmon Pecan Bread

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’ve ended up with quite a healthy crop of Pecans this season despite Hurricane Issac, so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate them into my recipes.  Also, down South, it’s Persimmon season…a weird fruit similar in shape to a tomato but very sweet when ripe.  They really aren’t commercially available because as they ripen the fruit is so tender it tends to break and ooze pulp; you really have to have your own tree or know someone with a tree (and most people are quite accommodating as the fruit spoils so quickly).  I usually try to freeze a good bit and I always use this recipe I adapted from an old 1982 Southern Living Annual Recipe Cookbook.  It’s delicious and one of those rare recipes for Persimmons that I find people who love or hate the fruit, love this bread equally!

Persimmon Pecan Bread

  • 6 tablespoons of butter, salted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup persimmon pulp
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups unbleached, unbromated flour (all purpose is ok but the first choice is best for breads)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for Pensey’s fans, I’m using Indonesian Korintje)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (for Pensey’s Fans this is West Indies Ground)
  • 1 cup chopped Pecans

cream butter, gradually adding sugar – beat well.  Add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl combine the pulp and soda and let it sit and dissolve.  Blend in the rest of the ingredients with the butter and sugar mixture; stir well.  Add pecans and pulp mixture and beat well.

Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Bee Minus: The Backyard Bee Count

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Do you remember my previous post about the Backyard Bee Count as I mentioned here.  I planted Lemon Queen, an exquisite pale lemon sunflower and one of my favorites.  Last year it was a bee magnet; this year, I’m sad to report that I’ve not had ONE bee visit.  20 feet away on my cucumber flowers, I’ve seen one or two carpenter bees…but that’s it!  Sad for sure and the rest of my garden is suffering…few tomatoes and no squash.  I may try to plant another crop of sunflowers and see if our bee comes a little later in the season.

Luckily for us, though, someone’s having a lot of luck with their garden!  Marie brought me a ton of canned goods after she left the farmers’ market this weekend.  Blueberry Ginger Jam, Squash Pickles, and Blackberry Spiced Jam (my favorite!).  I can’t believe she had any left from the market, it’s now at the shop unless I consume it all…which, sorry…is possible!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Road Trip: Houston, TX

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

or otherwise titled as “Houston We DON’T Have a Problem“…every three months I’ve been traveling to MD Anderson to have an MRI of my head and neck and then a chest x-ray to see if my ACC has returned.  This trip, I was feeling better than ever…a year post radiation.  So, I was fairly confident that we would get good news yet again.  But, I have to tell you, it’s bad enough finding out once that you have cancer…going every three months with the possibility of hearing that again is some kind of cruel and unusual punishment.  Fortunately, this time it was good news as every visit past.  In fact, I’ve been moved to 4 months for check ups…whew.

The obligatory stop at the Babe Zaharias Museum in Beaumont, TX off I-10

We love Houston tho, it became a second home to me the six weeks I went through radiation and now we can almost drive around effortlessly like its our own town.  This trip we tried a couple new restaurants.  We decided we wanted some real Texas BBQ (something I haven’t been able to enjoy on past trips because it was too spicy in my post radiation mouth)…but now…its ON!  We tried Rudy’s  and ordered the lean beef brisket and creamed corn…totally sinfully and yummy.  Everyone else was full but I polished it off with a piece of buttermilk pie.  I also, found in the gift shop canned cinnamon honey butter; which I passed on and now I dream of.  I’m currently researching how to make my own as if it’s my life’s mission…I will let you know how it goes.

The next day we found ourselves at Kubo’s while we waited for my results.  C got a noodle bowl and didn’t seem impressed (maybe she was still full of BBQ) but I ordered a crunchy eel roll and tiger eye roll…amazing!

This definitely was a foodie dream trip as we also popped into Pensey’s spice store too.  I found Pensey’s originally in the last two weeks of my radiation.  When you receive radiation to the head, particularly to the mouth you lose your sense of taste (sometimes forever).   I had lost mine for a few weeks already and it was strange and sad…but I could smell which is like 80% of taste!  I walked into Pensey’s and felt like I could experience flavor again.  I bought a few things that have become my favorites now that I can indeed taste them…

  • Chicago Steak Seasoning
  • Northwoods Fire
  • Bouquet Garni
  • Florida Seasoning (we picked this one on this last trip…it’s great!)

And here is a parting shot…can anyone tell me what this building is?  It’s actually a series of three or four – this was the best shot I could get from I-45N.  I’ve passed it a ton of times and always admired the lattice work made to look like tatted linens.  This one is my favorite; the others were pretty too.  Anyway, maybe when we are not so hurried to make it to an appointment or a MEAL…I’ll stop and get a closer look.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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