Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cheesy Fondue

Nel and I spent Saturday evening making delicious cheese fondue.  After seeing Midnight in Paris in the theatre, (which was by the way a fantastic movie!) we came back to her place to make fondue.  This is one of our favorites to treat ourselves to.  

It's especially fun to make around the holidays, but honestly we love cheese year round!  You can pick up a fondue set for around $20.00 at Bed Bath and Beyond.  We bought the ingredients from Trader Joe's, but you should be able to find them at any grocery store.  Here is the scrumptious recipe we normally use from Fondue by Lorraine Turner:

Gruyère with Asparagus

Serves 4
Preperation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes


1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
generous 1 3/4 cups dry white wine
5 tbsp. brandy
14 oz / 400 g Gruyère cheese, grated
7 oz / 200 g Emmental cheese, grated
3 1/2 oz / 100 g Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Dippers: (just a few ideas...  it's fun to experiment with a large assortment of dippers):

fresh crusty bread, cut into bite-size pieces
small pieces of asparagus
green apple
mini sausages or dry salami
veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)

1. Rub the inside of a flameproof fondue pot with the garlic.  Discard the garlic.  Pour in the wine, then add 3 tablespoons of the brandy, transfer to a pot on the stove, and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat.

2. Add a handful of grated cheese and stir constantly until metled.  Continue to add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly after each addition.  Repeat until all the cheese has been added and stir until thoroughly melted and bubbling gently.  (Getting the right consistency of the fondue is a little tricky.  Once the cheese is blended, it will be somewhat runny, but when you add the cornstarch solution, the cheese should thicken.  You can always add more cheese to thicken it up, and it will continue to set once you are finished cooking it.)

3. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with the remaining brandy.  Stir into the fondue and continue to stir for 3-4 minutes, or until thickened and bubbling.  Stir in the nutmeg and season to taste.

4. Using protective mits, transfer the fondue into your fondue pot, and light the tabletop burner to keep it warm.  To serve, invite your guests to spear the dippers onto fondue forks and dip them into the fondue.

Fondue is not only a delicious treat, but an edible conversation piece.  

Our favorite part has to be tasting each dipper, or a combination of dippers with the cheese.  There is so much flavor and variety, which we LOVE.  If you try the recipe, let us know how it turned out and what your favorite dipper was!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Painting for Pleasure

I just finished a fun art project I had been working on for a while.

My mom found this great painting at Michael's and asked if I might be able to touch up the soft colors with more vibrant oil paints. 

I started painting about two years ago as a way to relax from all the studying I had to do as I began my Ph.D. coursework.

It's something I always have to look forward to when I get the urge to be creative!

"Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work"
~ Henri Matisse ~

I just love the distinct texture of oil paints, the brilliant hues it's possible to mix from the basics, and the soft scratching sound of the brush as the colors are carefully applied to the canvas. 

So when my mom asked me to work on this piece, I was excited to have the chance to take out my brushes, prop up my easel, and squeeze out some color onto my palette!

It was even more fun knowing that the painting had so much to do with our newest creative project...

Our BLOG! 

"Everything you can imagine is real"
~ Pablo Picasso ~ 

What fun projects have YOU been working on lately?  
~ Nel

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Are All Different People

If we all recognize each other as equally powerful, and saw that all God's creatures are capable of great things, wouldn't the world be a better place?

Part of the reason why my girls like traveling is to meet all the wonderfully different people in the places that they go.





Costa Rica


New Orleans







If our love was stronger than our desire for power, the world would be sweeter indeed. Hmmm...that is something for me to think about today.

Love you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crafty Wine Corks

My wine cork bulletin board has been an ongoing project for the last year and a half.

I didn't realize how long it would take to fill up the entire board!  Yes, I could take the easy way out, and either buy wine corks online or ask others to save theirs for me, but I've decided that the majority of corks on this board will be from bottles that I've shared with friends and family.  

I like knowing that each cork came from a tasty bottle of wine, a fine visit, and a shared laugh, all with those who are closest to my heart.  It's really been a fun project.  


I do have a confession to make:  Before my project, I often chose my wine based on the clever and catchy graphic on the bottle (does anyone else do this??), but now I've actually started buying my wine based on the cork.  I love when I open a bottle, and I am surprised to find such a unique or nicely designed cork. 

Of course I keep the taste and price in mind when choosing a bottle, but I do love a fun cork!

My project is still only half complete, but I couldn't wait to post this beautiful quote from Mother Theresa on my board:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Very Unique Tree

It is my Anniversary today - 31 years.  I was only 20 years old when I got married, and I had Nel at 21.  Three years later, I had Jess, and six years after that, we had our son.  I thought this picture was perfect for our special day.  Jess passes by this tree often, and it always catches her eye.

This song is not "our song", but it has always reminded me of the two of us.

Happy Anniversary to the one I love.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Journal Is A Gift Of Words

Journals are a part of our lives.  We just love writing our personal thoughts and memories in them.  Here are a few of our journals and a little bit about them.

The quote journal is Jess' favorite because she loves to travel.  She quit her job a couple of years ago, toured Europe for three months, and lived her dream.  The camera journal is for her love of Photography.  The Disney journal makes her smile because Disneyland is such a magical place.  She goes as often as she can, and actually went there last night.

The green journal is Nel's New Orlean's book.  The cover looked 'swampy'.  It is a constant reminder of the fun she had in New Orleans with her sister.  The bird journal is her Europe journal when she traveled to England.  The journal with the beads attached to it is her Canada journal.  The beads are from the Caribana Festival.  It is her favorite journal because it was her first International trip.

The red journal my son gave me, and it is my most beloved one.  The Renaissance Lady talks about family and random thoughts.  The Audrey Hepburn is a fav of mine because I have always loved fashion.  The music journal is where I keep my favorite songs - I enjoy all kinds of music, but I especially love the old classics like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Rosemary Clooney.

So, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go write in my journal now.  What will I say?  Maybe I'll start out by saying this....