Tuesday, June 28, 2011

C'est Si Bon On di' Bayou

Don’t get me wrong, once we finally arrived, it really really was c'est si bon (translated as “It’s So good” in Creole. We made the 10 hour trip from Nashville to New Iberia, Louisiana to visit Jason’s best friend from high school and incidentally the one who introduced Jason and I. We attribute our marriage to him and figured the least we could do was drive 10 hours to visit. We hit Memphis and headed south on I-55 through the great state of Mississippi. Doing my part of the driving, I drove…for 200 miles. In that 200 miles, we saw nothing. I mean NOTHING, no cities, billboards, advertisements, and only the same 3 other vehicles. I mean that place is truly the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be honest, I don’t recommend it. It defines boring. Long, straight and BORING!
We arrived in New Iberia at 1am to their charming 1940’s plantation home situated right on the bayou. The yard sits on 4 acres and included in that is a Live Oak tree named “blue”. Sure, most people don’t name their trees but if YOU had an Oak tree that was nearly 300 years old and 23 feet around the base, well, you’d probably name it too. Besides, it’s on the Live Oak registry in the US where they document all the largest Live Oaks.

We began our culinary vacation at a short order place made of cinderblocks with a VERY large crawfish airbrushed on the side. It was the kind of shack you just knew would be good and it didn’t disappoint. I had a shrimp salad that I couldn’t even finish! That’s where the real fun began. It was drive through daiquiri time! In LA, they have drive through bars where you can get your daiquiri’s to-go. Apparently, they are under some kind of Napolenionic law that makes several things different from anywhere I’ve ever lived. For example, at the grocery store you can stock up on all the hard liquor you would need for a college frat party or at the service station, you don’t have to limit your beer run to just beer. Oh, no, they have pre-mixed margaritas and wine. Not wine in a bottle either, wine, in a little plastic vino glass with a foil top on it. No corkscrew necessary. I’m going to be honest, I kinda wanted to try one. Nobody said the passenger couldn’t drink! They also have the dead buried ABOVE ground. Yes, you read that right. All over LA you'll see eerie tombstones with giant concrete caskets above the ground. Apparently, if you were to bury them, they would come right back up, something about being below sea level I'm thinking. Let's be honest, nobody wants to see that.
Ok, back to Louisiana.
After we filled every cup holder in Jack’s truck with some flavorful concoction of daiquiri we did what every responsible adult does. We went to the shooting range! Jack’s friend is a professional marksman and has an elaborate shooting range in the middle of the sugar cane fields. Jason scored an armadillo right away and also found quite frankly the largest grasshopper I have ever laid my eyes on. We were welcomed to the range by a host of chameleons that rapidly changed from a bright green to the exact color of the wood where they hid. It was pretty neat to witness. We all did a little shooting, I even shot Jason’s prized pistol in full gear. Hearing protection and red rhinestone earrings. Let’s be honest, did any of you think for a second that I would disgrace myself in a new city by being caught without earrings on? As if!
Even with our frosty refreshments in hand, it was hard to help from MELTING. I’ve done hot, NC is hot, I’ve done humid, both TN and AL are humid but NEVER have I ever experienced the oxygen depravation found when the humidity rises to 200%. I felt like I needed a mask just to breath outdoors. I mean, I managed to survive it but my hair suffered the consequences greatly.

On Friday, we continued our culinary vacation with a Lunch of homemade crawfish etouffee by Jack’s wife, Ashley. I was lucky enough to help in the preparation thus receiving the recipe to one of Jason’s favorite dishes. After lunch was my time to shine. The only thing I asked to do while in LA was ride an airboat. I wanted to ride an airboat LONG before the show swamp people came on, but that didn’t make it any less appealing to me and YES we watch the show. Jackson and Jason are big fans, I just come along casually and see their alligator antics and hear the guy shouting "shoot em". The four of us set sail with our tour guide on THIS airboat.

Tucker (our guide) took us deep into the swampland and immediately took a right turn into the thickest, most un-navigable marshy land I’ve ever seen. It was hard to believe that any “boat” could get us through the thick of this. After half an hour or so, he started trying to call out “his” alligators. I was thrilled, because who wouldn’t want to go on a swamp tour AND see alligators. He banged his stick on the bottom of the boat. He made a kissy sound for them, he even called them something elaborate in French. No luck. Another 15 minutes passed and we pulled up to the end of another swampland as he points forward at “Big Mack” coming right towards us.

Big Mack is named appropriately. He is around 12 feet and weighs in at about 700lbs. He swam near right up to our airboat as he knew our guide was going to feed him. What do you “feed” an alligator? Marshmallows! Ha, we were just as surprised. As we gawked at Mack, our guide was telling us of his favorite alligator that had been missing for several weeks. With his thick Cajun accent, he told us, “I know she still be around there somewhere.” Just when we turn around, we see her. He called her “baby” because she was a mere 7 ft 300lbs and he’s been feeding her for her whole life, around 9 years.

You could tell he was happy to see her but it was apparent her reasons for hiding lately. She’d been in a serious fight and had the scars to prove it. After we bid adieu to “baby”, we make our way back to the marina. The marina was sometime to see. It had a boardwalk that connected around 15 houseboats that were little “floating cabins”. Some were in better shape than others but they were mostly charming with large front and back porches.

On the way home, it was only right that we make another daiquiri stop. I mean, when we get back to TN, the only drive through’s we have serve tea, sweet tea. We just have to make the most of our experience, and that we did!

We had most likely the best food I have ever tasted for a late dinner. It was a mouth watering local New Iberia place called Clementine’s. We sat streetside and each shared appetizers of crab cakes and arrancini (mushroom risotto with prosciutto, mozzarella) and fried green tomatoes topped with crab and hollandaise sauce. The entrĂ©e’s were no different. I savored every mouth watering piece of Seared Tuna au Poivre and left for home in a fully food induced coma!
And don’t think for a minute that we left Louisiana empty handed! We drove away with a plethora of hot sauces, Tabasco products, boudin sausage, 7lbs of FRESH head-on jumbo shrimp and 38lbs (yes, 38#’s) of LIVE crawfish! We are going to keep on eating good, tonight…and tomorrow night…and the night after that!
Les Bon Temp Rouller`! or Let the Good Times Roll!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Be Fruitful and Multiply!

NO, not me. Are you kidding?

Jackson's fish had a baby! Jackson has always been serious in his fish naming. They are no ordinary fish names. He puts thought into it.
This time around we have: Dorothy Rogerson, Whitey Catfish (he's albino), Micky Mouse (he has a mickey mouse tattoo on his tail) and now there's a baby in our midst. He was discovered last week when Tracie was here. We saw him one day and the next day he was gone. We feared he had been Whitey's snack. A few days later, we saw him again! He is so tiny that he can easily hide between the rocks and is completely unseen. Jackson picked another original name for the baby. His name is Jason. When Jackson saw him, he yelled to his dad, "Come quick! Dorothy had a baby! I know it is Dorothy's because it looks just like her!" We have now figured out, he only reveals himself during feeding time. We still worry a bit that he will become lunch but so far so good. We have discussed quarantining him from the others but it would be a hard task with his size and we believe in survival of the fittest and are hoping for the best.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ten on Tuesday!

Gasp! I actually wrote a 10 on Tuesday!
And right now, It's on schedule to be delivered on Tuesday.
Well, if the pictures come through anyway.

1. I made my 3rd batch of yogurt last night in the crockpot. It was a FAIL. See, Jason turned the oven light off and it is required to keep the yogurt at 100 degrees during overnight incubation. Oh, well, I guess I'll try again.

2. Today we went on a nature hike with my MOMS club. It ended in a complete downpour.

3. Jason has built me a pergola. It started as a frame for my swing. He promised me long before we were married that no matter where we lived, he'd put up my swing. I've always wanted a pergola and this serves both! I'm actually pretty impressed with it.

4. This morning Jackson got up a few minutes before me. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, I walk downstairs and the front door is open. I go to the porch and I see him laying out in the yard beside the house. He is manning his rabbit trap he built last night. He's laying there ready to pull the string if a rabbit hops under his rubbermaid container with carrots and water in it. Tricky, Tricky!

5. We had to make a car payment on my paid for car this week. Something broke and it was overheating. It wasn't as bad as it could have been but paid for cars are supposed to be PAID for and car trouble is never fun!

6. Our NC house is still for rent. We put it for rent because the rental market is supposed to be HOT. Well, I'm hoping God is just waiting on the perfect renters for our house because I'm getting a little anxious about the whole 2 house payments next month!

7. Last week, my mom and sister came by for a couple of days. We went to the famed pancake pantry for breakfast/lunch on Friday. It was true to it's reputation for having a line wrapping around the building at almost ALL times but honestly, it might have just been worth the wait! Jason had the "village smitty" which is cornmeal pancakes with bacon, chilies, cheese, sour cream, salsa, butter and yep SYRUP! It was recently on Man vs Food. I choose one sweet potato pancake and 2 Swedish ligon berry crepes. Made me miss IKEA even more.

8. A friend of mine let me borrow "The Help" to read before the movie comes out. I must choose my books based on what is coming out in movies. I figure if it makes the big screen, its worth the read. So far, I've been right but as a rule, the book is always better!

9. Jason bought me some dark chocolate red wine. When he came home, I thought GROSS. I've seen chocolate wine and it looks milky and disgusting. Nothing from a wine glass should be creamy. This looks exactly like a glass of Merlot. Really. It smells of deep chocolate with a rich and tangy raspberry flavor. It is sweet but it's a dessert wine. Oh my goodness. It is good. It's like drinking dessert. Now I just have to resist having it too often, or at lunch!

10. As Jason sits here practicing his Mandolin, we are considering going to a bluegrass festival this weekend. It's at the Percy Warner park, near where they hold steeplechase horse race. It's a kid friendly night event and local artist and wanna be pickers come together to play. I hear if you bring a stringed instrument you get cheaper admission. I am trying to get Jason to bring his but he's afraid they will actually ask him to play and he's not quite ready for that! I say go BIG or get out!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red, White and TWO year old!

Lincoln turned 2 on May 26th. We planned him a family party for the following weekend. It wasn't about presents but about our family being together which is what we love! We are so happy to be living close enough to make a weekend trip more than once every 3-6 months! While feeding a large extended family, we kept it simple by eating hamburgers, cake and homemade ice cream.
I had the red, white and blue theme planned for a while because the birthday fell on memorial day weekend but we had it a week later. I threw together the table setting just before we left for the party and caught my photographer at just the right time to get the photos in. The 100 year old boxwoods behind us make the perfect setting. They have been an icon in front of my grandparents house all of our lives. As a child, Tracie and I would play "house" in them and from what I hear, my mom and her sister did too! Many a tractor has been driven in that dirt underneath those.
May 26th is also my cousin Ben's birthday. He is now 18 and will be a senior next year.

My latest garage sale find was a 75 cent bubble blower for the bathtub that served it's 75 cents worth to have the boys smiling and chasing bubbles in the pictures. I'll be honest, I kinda like it too. You never get too old for bubbles!

Lincoln didn't have any friends his age at the party but that only meant that he was star of the show and what kid doesn't like ALL the attention?

Love these little brothers! Oh and the coordinating outfits, yeah, I planned that MONTHS ago! I'd probably be embarrassed if anyone knew how much planning went into these boys coordinating outfits!
Happy Birthday Ben and Lincoln!
The 3 Gotcher brothers. I guess this is what our family would be if I have another boy someday!
No birthday of ours is complete without tractors, John Deere Tractors!

Oh how sweet is this! Jackson said our prayer while standing beside my Granny! He is SUCH a sweet boy. Just look at those hands!

This is Lincon's "mamie", Jackson's "Aunt Jamie" and my Aunt Janie.
Her name is Janet. She is my mother's sister.
She has always been beyond special to me.
Confession: when I was little, I had an airbrushed shirt that said "I love my Aunt Janie."
She was THAT special! Apparently she is just as special to my boys, they love her. Jackson actually said recently he wanted to live with her. He spent the night recently and came home with a "chocolate sandwich" (nutella) for breakfast. No wonder he loves her!
This was the photographers dream (still my mom!). Lincoln would blow out the candles and say "again"and we would proceed to re-light the candles and let him blow them out all over again. When we finally called enough, he had gotten quite proficient at it!

Tractors drive in the mud. My little two year old's dream! Happy Birthday to my little Rascal! You are so special to so many people but none more than me!
I love you to the moon!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Yellow Belly

This is yellowbelly. He is our turtle visiting from the Little Harpeth River.
Last week, Dad, Jason and Jackson took a 3 hour canoe tour down the river. It took them a total of 5 hours because they concentrated on swimming and fishing while floating along. It was heaven for Jackson.
A few weeks ago, I told Jason that I wanted us to get a baby turtle to play with when we were out on the river boating. When I was a little girl, my dad (avid fisherman) would bring home these little baby turtles for Tracie and I to play with. We often kept them far longer than we should as aquarium pets then we would eventually agree to release them. I knew I wanted the boys to play with one and knew Jason could easily catch them one.
Well, as they are floating down the river in the canoe, Jackson bails out and swipes this baby turtle in one fell swoop. He caught it and proudly held it up and said he caught this one for Momma!
When they got home he couldn't wait to show me what he got me. When I saw it he said, "Surprise! I got it for you for your birthday! I just jumped in and caught it for you because you said you wanted one!" Yes, I did say I wanted one! I was very appreciative and he taught me all about the kind of turtle it is (a yellow belly) and how it would bite if you poked it but it was too little to hurt you.
He spent a few days on our porch eating lettuce and swimming around the 4-wheeler that Jackson thought he needed in there.
A few days later, he agreed that we should return him to the river. We said goodbye to yellowbelly and released him back into the Harpeth River that runs behind our neighborhood.
How sweet is my 5 year old to get me a turtle because after all, I DID say that I wanted one!