Ta Ta for Now……

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We miss you Vermont! Send some snow our way.

I am taking a short break from the blog so I can focus on family and fun for the next two weeks. I have enjoyed sharing all of our travel adventures, my LYS finds, and my crafting and cooking creations with all of you. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! I look forward to being back in the new year!

-Christy

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Hello from Vermont

Natural Vermont. This was taken at the Underhill State Park. This state is FULL of State Parks!

Natural Vermont. This was taken at the Underhill State Park. This state is FULL of State Parks!

Once again I have fallen behind on my blogging. Trying to keep up with this in between moves is hard because of the long car rides with no computer access and when I get somewhere new there are so many distractions!!

My husband applied for his Vermont RN license while we were in Carlsbad. The chances that a travel RN position in Vermont would open up just as we were looking for another position were slim but we were hopeful. Some states, like California, have a ton of positions available. Vermont is not one of those states.

Everything wrapped up in Carlsbad at the beginning of September so we loaded up the truck and headed back to the KC area.  It was great to be home for a bit, even though it seemed like we were in a constant whirlwind of activity. We were able to attend my Grandma’s 95th birthday celebration and got to see a lot of family we had not seen in some time.

During the madness of trying to squeeze in as much time with friends and family as possible, Wyatt got a call for a job in Vermont! We couldn’t believe it! The position had already been filled but for some reason the person backed out so they called the next person on their list!

The colors of fall are everywhere. Lucky for me since fall is my favorite season.

The colors of fall are everywhere. Lucky for me since fall is my favorite season.

We have been here since the beginning of October and we love it. We found a furnished rental on Lake Champlain which has allowed us to soak in the brilliant fall foliage. We are close to Burlington, which is filled with locally owned shops and restaurants. I know we are in for some cold weather and probably some snow before we head back to the KC area in January but we are more than happy to endure it. Vermont is really a special place.

One of my favorite areas- Stowe. So beautiful.

One of my favorite areas- Stowe. So beautiful.

Now that we are “settled” for a bit I’ll be able to get going with this blog again. I’ve got some great free patterns in the works and posts that will cover some of our other travels.

Hope everyone is having a great autumn!

-Christy

 

Key West: Final Thoughts

 

One of my favorite pictures from this trip.

One of my favorite pictures from this trip.

 

All too quickly it was time to grab our last Cuban coffee and board our flight back to Kansas City. I had an amazing time and would love to go back. Here are some final thoughts in case you are planning a trip to the Conch Republic.

1. Leave the kids at home….maybe. Key West is a big “party” destination and there are a lot of retirees and honeymooners there. However if you do bring the kids there are a lot of historical sites and resorts that are family friendly. I would not recommend bringing very small children simply because there is a lot of walking involved and it is very HOT.

2. Step away from that Bahama Mama. I am certainly not against having a drink or several on Duval but there is a lot more to do and see in Key West than just party. Key West is old and has a wonderful and interesting history. Those intensely warm afternoons are the perfect time to take advantage of the air conditioned museums.

3. Spend one evening on Duval. Grab a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) and enjoy the cooler evening weather and some great people watching. Key West has always been a haven for the outsiders of society and even with all the tourists that still rings true today.

4. Eat some seafood, even if you think you don’t like it. Obviously if you are allergic you can ignore this but I had some of the best seafood of my life in Key West. Especially shrimp. Seafood in Key West is FRESH which makes it taste nothing like the seafood you normally get in grocery stores or restaurants. So try a gulf shrimp or yellow-trail snapper- you may be pleasantly surprised.

5. Go fishing! My father-in-law and husband secured themselves a spot on a boat and spent the whole day fishing. They had a great time and ended up with a lot of fish. At the end of the day the Capitan and the First Mate cleaned the fish for everyone so it was ready to eat. There are several restaurants on the island that will cook up your fish for you and they give you options on how you would like it cooked and what sides you would like with it. It was one of the best and most memorable meals we had while we were there.

This is the dock where everyone gathered before heading out to the ocean to fish. You can just show up or call ahead and reserve a spot.

This is the dock where everyone gathered before heading out to the ocean to fish. You can just show up or call ahead and reserve a spot.

 

This is the boat they went out on.

This is the boat they went out on.

6. Take a tour. There are several different tours that will drive you around and inform you of all the wonderful sites and history of the island. Its a great way to see more of the island, learn a bit, and take a break from all the walking.

7. Stay near Duval or prepare to walk a lot. Most of what you will want to do and see revolves around Duval Street. The further you get from Duval the less expensive accommodations are however, that also means you will have to rent a car and drive. With downtown being designed many years ago, parking can kind of be a crap shoot. Sometimes you will luck out, other times you will spend 20-30 minutes driving in circles hoping a space will open up. Also, 95% of the time the parking is NOT free. Its not super expensive but since most people vacation on a budget that expense can add up quickly. And speaking of parking, if you must have a car make sure the place you are staying provides parking. A lot of vacation rentals near downtown do not even provide parking spaces.

8. Timing is everything. Don’t get your heart set on going at a certain time until you check an events calendar to see what’s happening on the island. There are festivals through out the year and with those festivals come higher prices. Streets become packed, there are long lines at restaurants, and parking is impossible. We went in April- the holiday season was over, the people escaping their hometown winter weather were beginning to return home and it was too early for summer vacationers. Nothing was too crowded, prices were lower and during the day we had no problem finding parking. (night time was a different story).

I hope you have enjoyed reading about hearing about our trip. If you haven’t been I highly recommend you go! If you have been I would love to hear about your travel experiences.

-Christy

Foodie Friday: Curried Hamburger Gravy

Curried Hamburger Gravy

Curried Hamburger Gravy

One of my favorite things to do as a child was to sit on our kitchen stool and watch as my mother made dinner. I asked all sorts of why and how questions knowing that this was something I wanted to figure out. Then at holiday meals I would watch my grandmother, my mom and my aunt gracefully and deftly move around the kitchen; each knowing what needed to be done and (even more importantly) how to do it. The kitchen held a fascination to it. I wanted to be part of what I saw.

Now, many years later, I consider myself a pretty decent cook. I tend to makes messes, so I am missing a bit of that grace, but I figure as long as the food is good a mess is a small price to pay! I love cooking just as much as about anything, but my favorite things to cook are “homey” dishes; especially those from my mother’s recipe box. When I make certain dishes I am transported back to my childhood when I sat and watched her cook.

This is one of those dishes. She made it countless times and it was a favorite of the entire family. It was quick and simple and inexpensive- all good things when she had been teaching all day.  Even now when I smell curry I think of this dish, not Indian food.

I have listed the recipe first, then there are pictures below for clarification of specific steps.

CURRIED HAMBURGER GRAVY

Ingredients:

1lb Ground Beef (80/20)

3-4 Tbsp Flour

2 cups Milk (anything but skim)

1-2 Tbsp Curry Powder

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat brown the hamburger. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break the hamburger apart. Add a light pinch of salt, pepper and curry powder to the ground beef. This is to give the beef just a hint of flavor so you don’t need much. Make sure to taste as you work through this recipe.

Turn the heat to low and remove the ground beef from the pan onto a paper-towel lined plate. Make sure to drain the fat as you remove it by pressing it against the side of the pan. If there are a few crumbs left, that’s ok.

Add your flour slowly wisking as you go. The fat should soak up the flour. Keep wisking until the flour has been completely incorporated. Add the milk and increase the temperature to medium.

Stir the sauce often. A few bubbles is ok, but do not let it boil. When the sauce coats the back of the spoon it is done.

Season the sauce with the salt, pepper, and curry powder. Some curry powder is stronger than others and it is a very strong flavor, so tasting as you add is very important! I used 1.5 tbsp., but I like a strong curry flavor.

Fold the drained meat back into the sauce. Serve over rice, toast, or a baked potato.

Fat and Flour

Fat and Flour Incorporated.

Finished Sauce

Finished Sauce (Sorry its a bit blurry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day

Supposedly its Memorial Day Weekend…..I say “supposedly” because it is down right chilly here next to Seattle! I am originally from Kansas and by Memorial Day Weekend it was already consistently in the 80s and 90s- already hot and dry. It feels like autumn here.

Every year during Memorial Day Weekend we would hop in the family vehicle and head out to spend some time with relatives. We would visit with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and people I wasn’t real sure who they were but I knew we were related somehow. In between the visits we would visit the cemeteries where relatives were laid to rest and carefully place flowers around the headstones, making sure the gravesites were neat and in order.

You would think this would all be boring to a kid but honestly I enjoyed it. Not only was it a chance to see family we didn’t usually get to see but it was also a chance to learn about some of the people who had lived before us. I learned things about my deceased relatives that might not have otherwise come up in conversation. To me Memorial Day was about taking time to honor all those who went before- military and civilian.

This year I am too far away to go with my dad to put out flowers but I am comforted knowing someone is doing it. My sister, who is a Marine, is also unable to assist but is participating in one of the many military ceremonies of remembrance around the country. I am…well, writing this blog post I suppose.

So with Memorial Day in mind, I am sharing this picture with you. My mom had come out to the front porch to wave goodbye to me as I headed back to Kansas City. She is standing next to the Marine flag which was hanging in honor of my sister.

Eileen Ruth Grauer

My mom seeing me off.

She has been gone for almost six years now but going out to her headstone every Memorial Day is still hard. But also somehow cathartic. Not that I think the deceased are hanging around the cemetery but it gives you a chance to honor and remember them. I hope to make it out there the next time I am home.

I hope you all had a great weekend and took a minute to remember those who have gone before you.

-Christy