Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goodbye July, Hello Peaches!

July is one month I hate to see end.  It's the ultimate summer month.  June is an introduction, and August is the prelude to summer's swan song.  So, good-bye July, but know that I will love you as much  next year as I do today, and for as many more renditions as I am fortunate enough to enjoy.

August 1st, though, is a notable day.  It is the birthday of three lovely women:  Jan McCoy Ebbets, Donna Jordan Malkowich, and Beckie Platt.  Happy birthday to all of you, who've been a part of my life since forever.  I hope it is a joyful birthday for each and every one of you!  Jan has been my friend since we met in 1997 and instantly became life-long friends.  I met Donna while we were in high school (me, Saratoga High, and Donna, St. Peter's) and we scooped ice cream at Stewart's together (along with her sister and my good friend and now fellow-blogger Carol) and it feels the same today as it did in 1972!  And Beckie has been my sister Patsy's best friend since my family moved to MacArthur Drive in 1955!  There's so much richness and longevity to these friendships, something you just can't put a price on.  They are the kinds of friends, as the saying goes, where a lot of time can go by but when you see them again, it's like it was yesterday.  No tallying of who called whom last, no keeping tabs, just happiness at seeing each other once again.  Good friendships...

So, about those peaches.  I had hot pants to make peach ice cream as the ripe peaches started dropping off Katie's tree yesterday.  Last year they had a bumper crop, but this summer's drought and some other issued limited the number of peaches to about 20 (like gold, these peaches) while the cherry tree produced NO cherries, and the same with the apple tree.  So, kudos to the peach tree for producing 20 fine peaches and better luck next year, cherry and apple.   I used the ugliest peaches of the bunch for my ice cream, figuring they were getting peeled and chopped up anyway, and Katie's saving the prettiest peaches (see photo above) for her husband Bill, who will be home Thursday night to enjoy them.

The recipe I used is from The Food Network (linked here).    It's really pretty simple.  There are a few steps, but I found it very do-able and not at all difficult.  I stopped at Stewart's on my lunch hour to pick up two half-pints of heavy cream, and since the recipe called for peach brandy which I couldn't find in a small bottle, I bought a 99-cent bottle of peach vodka at East Side Liquor store next to Stewart's.  The recipe only called for 2 tablespoons, so vodka it was!

This ice cream is made from a cooked custard that is strained and cooled, and then churned in an ice cream maker for about 15 minutes before adding the peaches, and then churned a bit more.  I knew when I tasted the custard that it was going to be incredible.  I put the soft ice cream into a glass container and it froze for about 2 hours when I just couldn't wait another minute.  It was frozen around the edges but the middle was still too soft, but I dished out a bit anyway, just to taste.  It was delicious, creamy and sweet with great peach flavor.  I'd call it a success, though I have to let it freeze longer to get the best photo.  Meanwhile, here's what it looks like, not quite frozen:

I'll add a photo of a nice scoop once it's firmed up a bit more in the freezer.  So come back, and take another look!

Fast forward and here's the finished product!

Taa Daa!!!!  (and yes, it's sooooo good!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Buttermilk Ranch Marinated Chicken Breasts

My sister-in-law Carolyn and her husband Billy are great cooks.  They used to have a restaurant, The Hayner House, in Ballston Spa.  Carolyn comes from a long line of great Italian cooks, and Billy cooked professionally for a while before becoming part-owner of the family business, Quality Hardware in Saratoga and Hudson Falls.  He's since retired and turned the reigns of the business over to my super-capable and energetic niece Louise.  Their family is all about good food, and they often host their kids and grandchildren for the traditional Sunday dinner, much like the one my family enjoyed when my children were little, at "Grammy Eddy's" house.  For years, we'd all show up Sunday afternoons, the kids eager to play with their cousins, and stay long past a wonderful dinner, give all the kids a bath and get them in their p.j.s before heading home.  I looked forward to it every week.  The kids loved it, and still speak very fondly of all the fun they had together growing up with Sunday dinners at Grammy's....  She went through every towel she owned on those Sundays, first as make-shift capes for their super-hero adventures, and later to dry off more than a dozen grandchildren (three in the tub at a time!).  Lovely memories.

Anyway, off on a tangent I go, so back to the chicken.  Carolyn marinated boneless chicken breasts in Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  I think it's for a few hours but not much longer than that.  Then Billy grills it on their gas grill and it comes out moist, tender, and full of flavor.  I decided to try it myself the other night.  Russ was here Saturday night for dinner.  Typically, we go out, but we didn't want to leave Jette, his little black dog, who's been having a hard time lately with diabetes and just declining health.

Jette, Russ's little 'ol lady dog... (xox)

She's twelve now and I told Russ that last year, she wasn't an old dog, and this year, she is.  She's still so cute, but she looks like a little old lady dog now, can't get up and down stairs without  help, you know...  Makes me sad.  I can't imagine his life without his little dog.  Don't want to think about it.

Chicken marinating in buttermilk ranch dressing

I decided to make a nice dinner at home.  I marinated chicken breast cutlets (a Purdue 5-pack of individually wrapped pieces) in a zippered bag with enough buttermilk ranch dressing to coat them nicely.  I let them marinate for about four hours and then cooked them over a fairly hot grill for about 6 minutes a side, give or take depending on their thickness.  Two were thinner than the others so I moved them to the other side of the grill and turned off that burner while the rest of the cutlets continued cooking.   I did that poke test to make sure they were cooked through, where you poke to see how firm they are, and it seemed to be an accurate measure because they were really just right.

Nothing like grilled chicken!

To go with the grilled chicken, we had a large tossed salad -- kind of an everything goes in tossed salad -- with everything in my fridge that could possibly contribute.  I added olives, celery, tomatoes, shaved cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, sprinkles of tomato-basil feta, and I don't even know what else!  It was great!  I also made a small portion of ziti (with lines) and a light tomato-basil marinara with a little bit of grated parmesan.  We didn't eat out, but we enjoyed a lovely meal.

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad!

The chicken recipe is really in the little story above, since it's so simple.  Just marinate your chicken in a nice coating of buttermilk ranch for a couple of hours, and grill till it's done.  Pretty easy and very delicious!

I had two left over pieces of chicken, so tonight Katie and I had loaded chicken salad sandwiches for dinner.  I chopped up the left over chicken and tossed it with celery, walnut pieces, and dried cranberries.  I gave a couple of twists of fresh ground pepper, a few grains of sea salt, and a couple tablespoons of light mayo.  Stirred it all up and it made really great sandwiches served on 12-grain bread.  Photos follow, of course!

Chicken salad sandwiches make a fine dinner!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Gorgeous Summer Sky, Cinnamon Rolls AND Cherry Pie!

Happy Sunday night everyone!  It's gorgeous out there, and I took a photo as I got out of my car around 9:15 pm to capture the beautiful summer night sky.

OK, on to baking:  I promised my sister-in-law Lynn that I'd re-post my recipe for cinnamon rolls, and it's right here where it's always been (!).  Just click and it's yours.

Cinnamon Rolls, as requested!
Now, about that cherry pie!  Katie made one today, after buying cherries for $1.98 lb. at Hannaford, and it was dessert to her dinner of home made (and fantastic) chicken enchiladas.  I know, it doesn't seem to go together at all, but I don't care what's served for dinner, if it's followed by cherry pie, it goes!!!

I tried to retain each facet of her pie making today, and I have it here for you.  She used her America's Test Kitchen cook book (one of her old reliables) and the pie was fantastic!!!  You're supposed to wait 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven....That did NOT happen!  Nope, my slice of hot cherry pie melted my Stewart's Philly Vanilla ice cream beautifully!  So, first the recipe, then a collage of photos to show you just how beautiful a pie can be (surpassed only by how unbelievably delicious it was!)...

(memorized from watching Katie as she used her America's Test Kitchen Cookbook)
Preheated oven 425 degrees for 1st half  hour; 325 degrees for 2nd half hour)

Pie crust for a 2-crust pie
6 cups pitted and halved fresh cherries
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
dash salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Line pie plate with bottom crust.

Mix together cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and almond extract.  Let mixture sit for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, pour into pie shell.  Top with top crust.  (Katie used Pillsbury pie crusts, and made a lattice of the top crust).  Crimp edges.  Spritz top with water and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake pie on cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Turn oven down to 325 degrees F and bake an additional half hour.  Remove from oven, and let sit 20 minutes for the juices to thicken (we did NOT do this!).

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, and be thankful for simple pleasures!!!

Katie's cherry pie!
and finally, to get the new week off to a good start,  here are a couple of my favorite guys:

My boys...(my loves)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Orange Cranberry Muffins, Deja Vu All Over Again

Hello again my friends.  I am very happy to be writing about muffins again (especially after posting a potentially explosive opinion on facebook) realizing that my time is best spent discussing the finer points of baking!  I do thank Anna, though (one of my daughter Meghan's best and beautiful friends from forever) who reminded me, when I decided to exit the conversation, that it is important to "...speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." (Maggie Kuhn)  I so love that quote, in its simple empowerment.  So, thanks Anna, and on to the orange cranberry muffins I promised my fb friends... 

Well, no sense reinventing the muffin wheel, and in excavating this site to see if I had ever written about such a muffin before, guess what?  I had, back in November of 2009.   I read it as if someone else had written it -- sounded brand new to me, like I'd never even seen it before!  Here it is again, with all its seasonal flavor -- kind of like Christmas/Thanksgiving in July!  Just click the link to find it.


(Photo credit indicated on original post)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lake Dippin' in the Adirondacks!

If I was forced to choose, I'd have to say that my favorite summer place to be is by the Atlantic seashore, anywhere from Maine to Florida, though I have really only experienced a handful of beaches along the coast.   As children, we spent summer weekends on Long Island (Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park), and the Jersey shore (Stone Harbor, Avalon, Spring Lake).  My favorite memories are of family vacations to Stone Harbor in NJ and also to Robert Moses State Park in Long Island (with our Cella/McGeehan cousins). Our parents and all seven kids would load into the station wagon and join the hoards of people heading south and east to do the same thing -- enjoy the sun, sea, and surf that only a beach vacation can provide, whether it's for a Sunday afternoon or an entire week.  There's nothing quite so revitalizing. There are still many east coast beaches on my list, and hopefully I'll be visiting them in the not-too-distant future!

Because we are inlanders now and live hours from the nearest low- or high-tide, the very next best thing to the waves and dunes is a trip to Lake George, or any Adirondack Lake, where I can travel to in an hour or less and feel as though I'm far away from home.  I especially love Lake George.  It pulls me with such magnetic force on any summer day with warm temperatures and bright skies.  Within the past week, I spent time in Fourth Lake in Luzurne with my daughter Katie and her husband Bill, and grandsons Hank and Pete, and the next day took off for a solo and beautifully peaceful morning on the beach of Rogers Memorial Park in Bolton Landing (Lake George).  Then Tuesday I spent the afternoon with friends on the dock of Wiawaka's boat house (also Lake George).

I so love the Adirondacks and its lakes, but especially Lake George, a true gift to those of us who live close enough to enjoy visiting often.  Tomorrow I'm back to writing about muffins (orange cranberry to be specific) but in the meantime,  here are some photos of this week's lake visits...  Can't wait to dip my toes into the lake again, as soon as possible!!!

Fourth Lake in Luzurne, New York
Wiawaka, on the south east shore of Lake George
Bolton Landing, New York (Lake George!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cupcake Wedding Cake

A few months back, a friend from work, Pat, asked if I would make the wedding cake for her son and his fiance.  She was interested in a cupcake wedding cake, and it just so happens that I have a custom-made-handy-dandy cupcake stand.  It was decided that there'd be 150 cupcakes (yellow and chocolate) with buttercream frosting, and a matching 8-inch top tier.

As the date (today, as a matter of fact) drew closer, I planned the cake in my head.  Pat had provided color swatches of a pretty cornflower blue and an earthy golden yellow.  I decided to make blue fondant flowers for half the cupcakes, and piped yellow flowers for the other half, and then tie those colors into the top tier as well.

Pat provided the cake topper, a very cute (if not foreboding!) sculpture of a determined bride dragging what appears to be a reluctant groom, though I am sure that this whimsical topper is no indication of Dave's attitude about getting married.  I am sure he's thrilled and equally happy/nervous/excited/etc. state of anticipation that accompanies every marriage.  Even though I was only 20 years old the day I was married, I remember manifesting all those emotions, as did everyone present, I'm sure!  Getting married is a very big deal, and when you're 20, I don't think you're capable of knowing exactly  how big a deal it actually is.  Perhaps that's why I am decidedly single now (though very happily attached in a not-so-conventional way to my long-term/long distance --and did I say very handsome?--bf Russ!!!).

I am in awe of those who have succeeded in marriage for decades and who've grown together from young adulthood into their entrance into the golden years.  Geez - how DO they do that???  I am afraid that is one area where I may never know success.  There are great examples in my own close and extended families, and also some of my best friends.  It was especially evident last week at Jack and Kristin's wedding in "Boca" -- with couples dancing and the longest-married the last on the floor after the DJ eliminated those married for shorter periods of time.  My sister Patsy and her husband Don were just about the last to go, looking much too young for such an honor, but a real significant indication of the longest marriage was when my brother-in-law John's mother Shirley danced with all four of her Bishop grandsons, standing in for Shirley's husband Clay who'd already left the reception for the hotel (we partied past midnight!).  When I saw each of my nephews tap the other on the shoulder to cut in for a chance to dance with their Grandma, I got all choked up.  Have I told you 1,000 times yet what great boys they all are?  (Well, they are!)....

Anyway, I digress as I always seem to.  Forgive me for indulging in this year of intense weddinghood for my family.  I particularly feel the significance of commitment, ritual, tradition, and beauty that such a promise brings to not only a couple, but to their families and friends.  In less than 3 months, my daughter Tricia and her fiance Jeff will say their vows in front of family and friends, so the happy anticipation continues!

To wrap it all up, here's a little snapshot of today's wedding cake, for Pat's son Dave and his lovely bride. I so  hope they loved it...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Prize Awarded...

The third of our monthly prizes was awarded yesterday to my sister-in-law Lynn Eddy.  She won for having her name chosen from all those who posted on the blog in the month of June.  Lynn had posted a number of times, thus increasing her chances and it paid off!  On July 1st, my daughter Katie (Lynn's neice!) drew the winner from a  Gladware container, and it was all legit.  When I told Lynn that she was the winner, she decided to wait until a special occasion to redeem her prize.  Well, that occasion is upon us, and this little 8" round cake traveled with Lynn and her husband Rod to Ohio where it was shared tonight in  honor of:  1) their first visit with their newest grandson Breccan (baby brother to Carraig), and 2) the wedding anniversary of their son Rod and his wife Emily, the proud parents of these two little boys.

The anniversary couple...

Baby Breccan

Here's a photo collage of Lynn's prize as it came together -- a chocolate on chocolate cake using the Hershey cocoa recipe on the back of the cocoa tin (my standard):

So, welcome little Breccan, and Happy Anniversary Rod and Em!  Safe travels home. Lynn and Rod!  Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating, and brush those crumbs off your face!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm Seeing Red

Before I left yesterday to visit my b'friend Russ on Cayuga Lake, I baked, frosted, decorated, and delivered 50 red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to my friend Barb Doane.  Today, Barb is hosting a bridal shower for her soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  Barb asked for red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and the only instructions she gave me were that they should have red flowers.  When I was in AC Moore the other day (home away from crafty home) I found very cute red cupcake liners with white polka dots.  So, with all my other baking out of the way, I got up at 6 am  yesterday and baked 50 cupcakes. I must admit to taking the efficient route this time: I used Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix because 1) I didn't want to use THAT much red food coloring (2 jars!), and 2) it's very good.  I saw  no need to argue with success!  Of course, my cream cheese frosting is from scratch, and I colored and shaped the fondant decorations, so other than the cake itself, these were authentic, home-baked cupcakes, made with lots o' love!

Here's a collage of the cupcakes under construction:

And here's the frosting recipe for you:

(enough for 50 cupcakes!)

In large mixer bowl, beat:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
4 oz. soft butter (1 bar)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Mix well.

With mixer at VERY low speed, slowly add:
2 lbs. 10x confectioners sugar, with:
Milk, a few tablespoons at a time, careful not to add too much.

When the frosting has reached a spreadable consistency, not too soft, stop adding milk and continue to beat until very creamy.  I like to make it a little on the firmer side for piping through my pastry bad, so I am very conservative with the milk.  It's one of those things where you just have to do it yourself and stop when it looks right. 

After delivering the cupcakes, I came home and deglazed from all the sugar took a shower and headed west to Cayuga Lake where I spent some overdue time with Russ.  He has a lovely pool so we spent the afternoon swimming, joined by his neighbors Brooke and Matt (expecting their first baby any day) and cooked out.  Russ had marinated sirloin steaks in a southwest marinade, and I made a salad with what I could find in his bachelor refrigerator:  a bag of iceberg lettuce, feta cheese with tomato and basil, a jar of spanish olives, and some bottled parmesan olive oil dressing (all surprisingly delicious!).  For dessert, we had chunks of watermelon and it turned out to be a perfect summer dinner, topped off with a gorgeous sunset over Cayuga Lake.  

I love summer but especially summer weekends!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pitter Patter

I don't know what you like to do on a sizzling hot Friday night in the middle of July, but I like to bake cookies.  When other people start to relax after a long work week, I preheat the oven, tie on an apron, and get out the rolling pin!  I did at least wait for the sun to go down and the outside air temperature to dip a little, but after that it was right to work with Alton Brown's sugar cookie recipe (linked here), my baby-foot cookie cutter which I searched all over creation for, and a lot of flour thrown around!  Of course, my kitchen, this morning, looks like a war zone but that's little price to pay for something that will provide a joyful memory on a special day. As I said on my facebook page last night (and many times before), "It's time to clean up my kitchen so I can mess it up again."  I just wish there was a kitchen elf to empty my dishwasher at night so I don't have to unload it before loading it up again.  I'd love that.  It's very deja vu, Groundhog Day, etc. every time I clean up my kitchen!  Anyway...

These cookies are for a very special friend, Chris, who is hosting a very special baby shower.  She asked for  the cookies to be tied with citrus-y colored ribbons, and using that as inspiration, I decided to ice the cookies in citrus colors as well.  These cookies of soft little pads and tiny toes make me happy  just to look at them!  I flavored the icing with lemon extract just to carry the citrus theme that much further.  I do hope that Chris is happy with these cute little cookies.  I had fun making them on a hot Friday night!

Click to Enlarge

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soft Orange Custard, Cool and Citrusy!

Wanting to coordinate a light dessert with this blog's summer make-over, I searched the web for something cool, creamy, and full of citrus flavor.  I found it on Taste of Home's Web site in  their recipe for Soft Orange Custard.  Just follow the link to find the recipe.

Taste of Home's Soft Orange Custard!

I love custards.  They remind me of growing up.  My mom used to make something called Junkett Rennet Custard in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.  We loved it.  I used to make baked egg custards for my own children when they were young.  Custard pie, and coconut custard pie, rank right up there among desserts I MUST have if they are on the menu!  Custards also remind me of a stand that we'd stop at near the Catskill Game Farm where soft-serve was then "frozen custard."  It was always something when my Dad would go up to the window and order 9 cones!  A good 50-plus years later (yikes!), I still remember the cool, rich, creaminess of that frozen custard.  Most people probably remember family outings by location or event -- I remember the foods we ate (big shocker!)...

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but it has good reviews, and the photo (from Taste of Home's site) is just soooo pretty!  I think that alone provides all the credibility necessary for my recommendation to you.  What a lovely dessert it would be for company, or just you!

Recipe and Photo Credit:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Soft-Orange-Custard

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Sweet Life ~ A Beautiful Wedding & A Family Vacation

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Bishop!
Just having returned from the beautiful wedding of my nephew Jack Bishop and Kristin Grimsgaard, memories of each little facet of the wedding, and those precious days before and after, continue to play over and over in my head.  Wanting to remember every single detail of what was a joyous and poignant moment in the lives of this young couple, as well as all  who were there as witness, has me focusing on the highlights of the evening (and the entire six days we were there).  The setting was The Addison in Boca Raton, Florida.  Here's a synopsis of how we experienced this past week and the memories of this time that many will take with us as Jack and Kristin move forward in their married life together.

July 4th:  After the exciting first-ever flight for Henry and Peter, we (being me, son Jeff, daughter Katie, son-in-law Bill, and Hank and Pete) arrived at our hotel and later joined Jack and Kristin and their families for a cook-out at the marina where Kristin's parents, Curt and Sherry, live in their house boat (beautiful!). I was especially happy to see my brother Danny and his wife Suzette there, in from California.  It's been too long since we've seen each other.  It was a great time with an all-American barbecue and all the fixings, and later we watched fireworks over the ocean from lawn chairs in the marina parking lot.  Henry and Peter loved it!

July 5th:
Early Thursday morning Henry agreed to go with me to the hotel pool (Embassy Suites, Deerfield Beach) where he met 5-year old twins Archer and Brody.  The ice breaker was when Brody approached Henry saying, "We have the same swim trunks" - all three boys were wearing identical Star Wars bathing suits. They became fast friends and played in the pool together each day until the twins and their parents checked out a few days later.  We also ventured to the beach that day, a gorgeous strip across the drive from the back of the hotel.  Henry loved (Pete didn't) the beach and the sand.  He especially loved jumping over the waves.  Our hotel hosted a happy hour every night, where we met family and relaxed for a while.  After happy hour that night, we drove to the Mai Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale where we feasted on tropical drinks and dishes.  Henry and Peter especially enjoyed the walk through the gardens with waterfalls and lighted Tiki torches!  It was getting late, and Henry fell asleep before he could finish his dinner.  Little brother Pete powered through.

Deerfield Beach, F-L-A!

Henry in the surf!

July 6th:
After morning pool and beach time, we ventured out to a local sea-turtle exhibit (which was lacking sea turtles because their expired permit had not yet been renewed) but it was fun nonetheless.  We saw other aquatic life, and took a walk on a boardwalk that wound around and through a wooded, marshy area.  Katie was horrified by the spiders and their huge webs.  It was a good afternoon, but we were happy to return to the air-conditioned car and  head back to the hotel.   Dinner that night was at the Whale's Rib, a really funky, 70s-ish era seafood restaurant/bar where I ordered a Caesar salad with crab cakes.  The kids were great, though Henry again fell asleep half way through dinner.  Something tells me we wore that kid out!

July 7th, THE BIG DAY:
The Wedding!!!  7 p.m. at The Addison in Boca Raton.  A visually beautiful setting.  Add to that a beautiful bride, her so-handsome groom, proud fathers, and the two best-looking and happy mothers of the bride and groom, and it was magical.  These are two special families, and I'm not just saying that.  Kristin is the eldest of four daughters.  Jack is the eldest of four sons.  The love and respect the siblings have for one another, their parents, and for their families-by-marriage, is evident.  It's as if these families had lived somewhat parallel lives and their joining is meant to be, and so easily understood.  This new expanded family will have many years of happy life to experience together, and I am excited to see what unfolds in their combined future. (and once again, Henry fell asleep and Pete partied on!)...

Here are just a few memories of that amazing evening:

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

July 8th.  Wind-down day.
It's a little anti-climactic, the day after a wedding.  People are still in a post-wedding happy stupor of sorts.  There may be a little sentiment of a bittersweet nature, realizing (for mothers,especially) that your child has moved on and things won't ever be the same again.  Yet,  you've done all you can to prepare them for the life ahead, trust them to make good decisions, and hold back a little when your opinion could help, because you want them to figure it out for themselves.  The day after the wedding has one thinking, "OK, that was great! What happens next?" after so many months of planning and anticipation.  My sister and her husband have much ahead this year, with their youngest son headed to college in August, a move from their current home pending, as well as all the details of everyday life we all manage.  After an afternoon excursion with our contingent to the Palm Beach Zoo, I finally caught up with Anne later in the afternoon.  She joined us at happy hour, and soon most of the family was gathered together. It was fun to relive happy moments of the wedding -- how beautiful it was, how gorgeous Kristin looked, Ben's terrific Best Man toast to his brother and new wife, how great the food was at The Addison, and THE DANCING:  Our brother Danny (O'Farrell) had everyone laughing with his entertaining dance moves, and it was a lively party all night long.

On this post-wedding evening, we went separate ways for dinner, with my group walking about a mile up the beach to JB's on the Beach, where we enjoyed a great meal and live music.  Our return trip to the hotel, on the walkway along the beach as dusk fell, was so nice.  The sky was in that just-before-dark glow of late day, lamp posts were lit, and there was a refreshing breeze coming off the ocean.  Beach-goers were packing up their cars, saying good-bye to a beautiful day.  I leisurely pushed the stroller through it all, and walked behind Katie, Bill, and Jeff.  Henry hummed all the way back, and Pete said "hi" to everyone we passed.  Back at the hotel, Henry and Pete enjoyed a cool bath, and were soon sound asleep.  We packed our bags for our trip home (reluctantly!), though Bill and I kept our swimsuits out in the hopes of an early morning dip in the ocean before heading to the airport.

This morning, July 9th:
7:15 a.m.:  I hear, "Jeannie, are you awake?" It was Bill, ready to go to the beach with his new snorkel gear. We were out the door in 5 minutes.  The water was calm as could be.  We were the only ones out there.  Bill went out into the water first, and saw a bunch of little fish.  Then he handed the equipment to me, and I gave it a shot, though I don't have the breathe/blow/water/don't suck in water thing down very well!  I opted for just the mask and stayed in shallow water where there were schools of small fish darting back and forth.  I gave Bill his equipment back and after a few minutes, he asked me to check out the fish that were tickling his ankles!  These were about 6-inches long and had a neon yellow spine along their back.  They were playful, and not at all afraid of Bill's hand attempting to swat them away.  Then they started on me!  I swear they did nip at me, and it feels like a misquito bit me!  After that I was a little freaked out because they followed my feet so we got out and got ready for our journey home, thus ending a beautiful six-day break from reality all centered around the wedding of Jack and Kristin.

I am so grateful I was able to spend this time with precious family and friends, and that Henry and Peter's first flight is attached to such a wonderful memory.  I don't know that they will be able to recall this week when they are older, but I will tell them about it often, and continue to share the joy of this wonderful occasion.

And before I part, just a few more extra memories, and then on to anticipating the joyful celebration of my own daughter Tricia's wedding to her fiance Jeff in October!  And you KNOW I'll be writing about that!

Let the happiness continue!


I love you both, so much.

Aunt Jeannie