Monday, September 29, 2008

sittin' on the dock of the bay

Our house is on the market. The new property has been purchased. The plans aren't finalized, but we're getting there. The wait has begun. It's agonizing knowing how bad the market is and how badly we want to start building. It makes good financial sense for us to sell our house and get the money before we build. The prospect of moving into a rental until our house is ready is a real bummer, but I can do it. I just want to build that house.

The property is on the water. Its called "Pretty Lake" or "Little Creek". It runs into the Chesapeake Bay, so the possibilities are endless. We may not be able to start a house right away, but the dock?? Absolutely:) The process went fast and Chris had a ball building it. The children can't wait to go there after school and hang out. Marshall tosses the cast net and does some fishing whenever he can. We couldn't ask for a better backyard- even without a house on it!

Chris brought home some shrimp last week that he caught from the dock. OHHHH YEAH!!!! I am sooo gonna love this:)

There weren't that many, but I wanted to make a meal out of it. Our neighbor is a commercial fisherman and works on a scallop boat. He brings over gallon-sized ziplocs full of huge scallops when he comes home from a trip. I was thinking a seafood lasagna might be especially good with the shrimp from our dock and the scallops from Mike the fisherman. I was right. You could really use any combination of seafood. I would have used crab, too if I had any.

Seafood Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup grated Mozzarella
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 pound sea scallops, cut in half or quartered if very large
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9 in. pan with cooking spray.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until they are just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Over medium-low heat, stir in the flour with a whisk, then gradually add the half-and-half, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly before adding more. When the sauce has thickened to about the consistency of whipping cream, add the cheese and stir well. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper and stir again. Add the scallops and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the shrimp turn pink. Turn off the heat.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the skillet into the prepared pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with 4 noodles, placing them side by side. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles, distributing half of the seafood evenly, scatter half of the spinach over top. Layer 4 more noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, and remaining seafood and spinach. Cover with the last 4 noodles and the remaining sauce. (For the top layer, do not spoon any seafood on top of the noodles; just use the sauce.) Tuck in any edges of the noodles so they're all coated with sauce. Top with the Parmesan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

I can fret about our house not selling fast enough or the market going kapoowee. I could do that...or, I could sit back and take a big bite of this lasagna and realize I have nothing to complain about at all.
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Sunday, September 21, 2008


Oh, the Norfolk Ward. For those of you lucky enough to have been in our ward, you know there just aren't words to describe it. "Busting at the seams" is a pretty accurate description. Sacrament meeting fills the chapel, the overflow and half of the cultural hall. Primary has 100 active children. Relief Society meets in the chapel. Priesthood meets in the cultural hall. No one meets in the Relief Society room. That all changed today.
After rumors and hype, the Norfolk Ward has been split into Norfolk 1 and Norfolk 2. The dividing lines are hard to explain. They meander to pull in priesthood and other groups to even the numbers. Our family is in the new ward, Norfolk 2. Hap Cluff is the bishop. Chris is the 1st counselor. Kurt Oborn is the 2nd counselor. Those are the only callings in our new ward. It will be interesting to see how it all works out from here. They had everyone in the new ward stand up and they released us as a group. There will be a lot of scrambling to call people in the next few weeks.
Rather than describing the boundaries, let's talk friends. Who's in whose ward???
Jenn- 2
Nancy, Jaesi, etc...-1
our new house-1 (who knows when we'll end up there??)

OK, so I know that doesn't include everyone, but you might be able to get an idea of boundaries based off of where these folks live. I'm just bummed that they didn't think it was necessary to name our wards. With all the great area names to choose from, they ended up with "1" and "2". Not good enough for me...I'm calling us the Splitsville Ward. It's gonna be great:)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

oh, what fun...

Just some of the reasons we had a ball this summer:
Lunch when Hollis came to town...
Gracie getting her groove on...Dutch-style...
Marshall lost his first age 7...
The Jonas Bros. concert...check out the tour bus...
Marshall taking flight at the park...
Harley getting jiggy in the minivan with her homegirl... that'd be me:)
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

preschool, apples and pie

I've done this with all my children. The year before they start kindergarten I keep them at home and do our own preschool. We have a lot of fun and can work at any pace that suits us. This "home school" is always supplemented by a "joyschool" with our friends of the same age. It's funny how some of us have done it through the years; always having children around the same age.
Well, this year is Gracie's turn. At home, we always begin the school year by learning about apples. It's a great theme to jump start learning. In joyschool, we always begin with the letter "A"...naturally leading to apples:) The children have a great time together and learn some fun things in the process.

Banks, Emily, Gracie, Sophia and Annie (Hallie is out of town)

So, all this apple stuff has me in the kitchen wishing fall would come a few weeks early. I have some apples and some time to 'bout some pie? Last May, I participated in a dessert auction at our church. My contribution was a Pie of the Month club. The winner of the auction would get a pie each month for a whole year. It's been fun to bake the pies and know the money is helping the youth program. This month's pie is apple, so I got to work. I rarely ever make anything for someone else without making it for my family, too. Two pies at once is not that difficult. It's really as easy as, well, apple pie. OK, lame joke:)

Apple Pie:

5 or 6 large apples, preferably Granny Smith and Fuji

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg

1/4 cup flour

3 TBSP butter, cut in pieces

Double pie crust

Roll one half of pie dough to fit pie dish, lay in dish and trim the crust. Peel, core and cut apples. I use the Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer from Pampered Chef. It's such a great tool for this pie. Toss the cut apples with lemon juice in a large bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Toss together in bowl. Pour into pie dish. Dot with the butter. Roll out other half of dough. Carefully lay on top of pie. Trim, seal and flute the edges. I use leftover dough scraps to make cut-out appliqu├ęs for the top of the pie. Cute, huh? Cut slits in top of pie. Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 375* for about 45 minutes or more. The pie juices should be starting to bubble from the crust when done. Be sure to have a baking sheet or piece of foil under the pie as it bakes. It could get messy. Let cool on wire rack. Inhale deeply. Good, isn't it?