Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Seaglass Walk 2011

Today was optimum seaglass searching weather, tide and falling on a Saturday, it was perfect to take a long last walk along my favorite beaches. I was very fortunate on my search, just as the end of 2011 brought good fortune to my family as well.

Along with seaglass, I found my very first "seacoin". A penny eaten away by the elements...but found face up, another harbinger of luck for the year to come!

Lastly, I found a seaglass heart. What a way to wrap up the year! Happy New Year's Eve to all and wishes for a healthy & happy 2012.

(This shot is a bit out of focus....hopefully 2012 will bring my photography skills into better focus along with many other goals for the new year!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creative Christmas

For the last 5 years, I have given my children a check along with just a few gifts for Christmas. But being a creative creature, I cannot just hand it over in an envelope. No, not me, not in my nature. I MUST brainstorm myself into just as much stress as the shopping would have caused in the first place! But it is so rewarding and I love it so the tradition carries on.

Somehow, I came up with this idea this year. These are called Monkey Fists. I made them! I bought the materials, watched a youtube video and sat down one night, took a deep breath and gave it a try.

Here, watch this....monkey fist video. Success!

Then in Illustrator, I wrote my copy and designed the gift.  Unfortunately, with zero time left, the printer ink was very low and they just barely printed! Oh well, the faded, rustic look had to do.

With boxes put together, shredded filling, the knot and the check (of course) went inside.

And this was Creative Christmas 2011! I know they appreciate my effort and will always remember my crazy way of handing over the checks.

Past years included 2007 The Jingle Jar (an empty apothecary jar to save pennies, along with a bell to jingle), 2008 The We'll Leave the Light On (with a painted cut out of our home), 2009 My Little Angels (with a Dirt Devil vacuum), and last year - 2010 Money Doesn't Grow on Trees (with a t-shirt printed with our family tree and all the names we could find going back a few generations).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Picked Pounds

Just to finish up like we finished it off, the Lobster Dip of Christmas 2011 readable recipe follows plus a few more shots of the process.

The picking was done quickly and efficiently by my sons Peter & John. Experts at this point in their lives and knowing it's O.K. to sample the fare, they volunteered! That was fine with me because all traditions must eventually be passed down in families. Along with picking came Lobster Dip Cooking lessons.

Too bad we don't use the shells like my Mother's neighbor used to do. I have tried to find an easy way to make a Lobster gravy as she called it but no luck thus far. If anyone knows how, please let me know!

Fast forward, my old camera just couldn't do the cooking lesson segment any justice.

Recipe for Carlee's Christmas Lobster Dip

3 tbls. margarine (yes, we used it)
3 tbls. flour
1 1/2 ups of lowfat milk (you can make it richer if you'd like)
3 inch square block of Cheddar cheese, grated
Good shake of onion powder (isn't this how all good cooks measure?)
Good shake of garlic powder
2 tbls. of Heinz Chili Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce, a medium shake
2 tbls. Sherry Cooking Wine
2 lbs. of picked lobster meat!
Melt margarine slowly in large sauce pan and stir in the flour gradually. Add milk immediately but slowly as the mixture simmers, stirring constantly on very low heat. Add grated cheese, add a drop or two more milk if the sauce gets too thick too soon.

Add spices, when cheese has melted, add chili sauce a bit at a time - see above, the end product is not too red. (This even looks too colorful but that was just the lighting). Add the dash of Worcestershire, stir and stir! Add the Sherry....and finally the seafood. 

Continue to simmer to reduce milk and let flavors mingle. Don't be afraid to add a drop of one ingredient or another after taste testing. Yes, taste it!!!!!! Then, before serving, let the dip cool a bit... we use our old electric warming dish that has been in the family for 40 years worth of Lobster Dip Service. This dish could probably make the dip itself on auto pilot.

Serve with plain Melba Toast.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

White Christmas?

Wishing for snow here in Connecticut may sound foolish after last winter but I still have that old fashioned image of Christmas in my mind. We did not have snow here but a little white on the shore was just what I needed to wrap up the wonderful weekend I enjoyed with my wonderful family this Christmas!

The Christmas Eve Eve dinner with my husband, children, future daughter in law and silly little Sally was just the best gift I could receive. Following the lobster dip tradition (oops, will post tomorrow pix of that) they gathered for one of the last photos taken with my trusty old Canon PowerShot.

The old faithful camera's flash does not work and only one setting still even takes photos! Amazing I have been able to use it at all and actually post to a blog. Here is a kiss gone wrong from Sally and a bit of iphoto work to get the shot to this publishable point. Love it though!

Goodbye to my old Canon. Photo is clear, sharp and makes this old friend look better than her years. Photo taken by none other than.......

my new camera for Christmas!!!! Thank you Pappa D!!!! This photo taken by old faithful doesn't do my new friend any justice. Jealousy here????? Anyways, I have a new camera now to learn and take care of in sickness and in health. There may be some shots from the old gal in my archives that make their way into upcoming posts but I am so excited to have a complete and functional camera again.

And so we walked. I received a handful of seaglass from each daughter, scooped up while I was fiddling with settings on my gift. The perfect end to a perfect Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lobster Dip Anticipation

Every year around this time we look forward to the Bonney family traditional Carlee's Christmas Lobster Dip! I am going to go ahead and post this story because I have already had a few calls asking for the recipe. I will follow up when the dip is ready to serve and we are ready to dive in, Melba Toast in hand!

It all started here. Ye Yacht Yard in Southport, CT. So many memories. From bluefish fisherman to lobster fisherman, my father, an old salt, lived for his time at the boat yard. He brought his 4 children down here to play on the rocks, walk the plank down to the dock at low tide and cast for snappers off the rocks. It was heaven on earth.

He loved the water to say the least. That trait runs in my veins and my siblings' as well. He became an avid lobster fisherman at some point and the rest is history. Bait barrels-smelly as can be, homemade lobster pots and ropes, and buoys and knitted bait traps. Our garage growing up was amuck!!!!!!

But his hobby was endearing and we were proud, plus others thought the same! Once there was a segment on a local television station and my dad was the star. Of course, I saved the old VCR and had it made into a CD with a cover I designed pictured here. (have it still if anyone wants a copy!!)

The business card was another design I did, yet B.C. – before computers as I say. I still love lettering by hand! The saying, "You take the best. We eat the rest" was one we used often.  If you know lobsters, they aren't always 2 clawed perfect specimens! Bullets (no claws) or Culls (one claw only) were brought home for the family. Christmas with extended family was a perfect time to share!

A class to get me back up and running in the graphic design world in the 90's produced this tribute to both my mother & father. Quite a feat back then. Learning Illustrator, Photoshop and more in one semester was fun but scary! (this first project I don't consider good art at all) but it preserved a feeling, a story and a recipe that I have been able to share time and time again.

One of the old original, wooden handmade lobster pots lives on. My sun porch has a lobster pot coffee table that is topped with glass from the old Bonney Electric window (broken from a break in!!) and clearly shows the inner workings of a pot, an identification number and some good dust it has collected.
Memories can get dusty too but if you brush them off, it sometimes hurts and sometimes feels good.

Traditions feel here's to looking forward to our Carlee's Christmas Lobster Dip this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tree Cutting Sunday!

Today we went a tree cutting to my favorite, completely non-commercial tree farm in Easton, CT. Everett's is the name and it is like going back in time. Friendly family members sitting around the pot belly stove to stay warm offer you the saw to cut your own tree along with their smiles. No crowds, no parking lot attendants and fresh air you can enjoy in solitude, almost! A few other families, that's it!

We always look for a Blue Spruce and we found a lovely one this year! The farm is a quintessential, Norman Rockwell-ish Christmas experience! Do I sound overly enthusiastic? Go there, you will see!

We found the tree quite quickly this year but I must say, the outfit Pappa D wore to cut the tree may have been a factor. The day was sunny and about 40 degrees. For me, that warrants a few layers, a hat, a scarf and some gloves.

To others, namely my husband, the day was just like any other beach Sunday...with shorts & flip flops!

My job is the lights....and then the rest of the family gets involved.

A beachy bouquet of greens from the tree and some backyard shrubs add an extra touch of greenery!

And the Snowmen watercolors I did many years ago come out of hiding.

Minimal holiday decor but all very meaningful....just the way I like it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seashore Frames

Way, way back summerwise time, I had an idea. A trip to a flea market, a walk on the beach....a home made craft. It was worth the try and it has been an ongoing project!

 So these two images are the start.....broken wind fences, old canning labels that came from my trip to Brimfield.

The basic plastic miter box was my friend as I cut the frame pieces. It was something I had used before,  so no learning process here!

But, trying to figure out how to put a piece of glass in place was a different story! I decided to make a frame back from small pieces of trim cut as you can see here.

So I glued the back framework and went to the "framer" to get glass cut.

They were not very nice. 

 My frames were called rudimentary and other things. Sorry, I was trying to do something fun. They did cut the glass and I had a matte cut coordinating to each color scheme....more than I wanted to pay, especially when they totally "dissed" my hand made frames.

But I love these frames and the old canning labels!!!! The project is half done...two more frames to make to complete the group. Do I go back to the old framer???? Maybe, as long as they do not put their noses up at my homemade frames. Not sure what to do.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stay Inside Sunday

Due to a slight cold, I decided to finish up a few projects and stay indoors this Sunday. Decorating for the holidays is something I keep to a minimum. I am not the Christmas Tree Shopper. But I like to try new things, with old objects or found objects and sometimes they work, sometimes they don't!

I had already started a centerpiece for the dining room table. Old green bottles, old candles stubs of many colors and a mirror what?

After searching for a basic tablecloth and finding none, I decided to make one. Here, a painter's drop cloth washed and softened becomes the correct size. Don't miss the old Singer sewing machine I have had since the 1960's!!!! Pom-poms, also quite retro will complete this simple square cloth that I can use for any holiday.

The completed tablecloth arranged diagonally on the drop leaf table, the green bottles, starfish for a seaside effect...Next project, the wreath.

 Inside, looking out.

I made a bow this year with wired ribbon. Lime green seems to following me or vice versa! Added some faux green berries to catch the light and brighten the other greens. If you hadn't noticed, our front door is pink and has adorned our humble abode for all 32 years we have lived here. Can't believe Papa D actually let me paint it that color so many years ago. He knew I was a little crazy way back then!!!