Hey Chér

As I mentioned last week, I had a whole gang of people over for the 4th of July.  With the help from my parents, we had a shrimp boil, fried fish, grilled chicken, hot dogs, and sausages.  There were great sides (mac and cheese, baked beans, pasta salad, and green salad) and several types of desserts (The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford – or Robert Redford as we call it – that needs to be changed to The Next Best Thing to Duane Johnson; we also had Dirt Cake and finally Apple, Cherry, and Peach mini pies – made with my Bella mini pie maker).  We all had a great time.  I think I had around 25 people in the house. 

Now, if you have ever hosted; you know that it can get costly to do something of that magnitude and ensure that everyone is well fed.  This also caused me to decide that I’m not going to be grocery shopping this week.  Whatever we eat this week will come from my freezers. 

A few months ago, Babydoll was looking on Pinterest and saw Étouffée.  She thought it looked really good and asked me about it.  I told her that it’s easy to make basically a Cajun gravy that you have with rice.  I told her that I would make it for her one day.  Looking in my freezer this week, I found some shrimp.  We keep rice because Babydoll loves it, so I decided we were having Étouffée for dinner.  I also found a lone chicken breast that I pulled out of the freezer to have along with my shrimp.  To complete the meal, I sautéed some frozen chopped kale (I sautéed in chili olive oil) and some French bread that I smeared with Brummel Brown. 

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As I told Babydoll, Étouffée is basically a Cajun gravy; however it takes a little longer to prepare than regular gravy.  It’s all about the roux, and for this version, I decided to make a dark roux. 

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A dark roux took me about 20 minutes to make.  Typically you are required to constantly stir your roux so that it doesn’t burn; but I will be honest, I peeled shrimp while my roux cooked.  I was running back and forth from the sink to the stove stirring with my wooden spoon and whisk. 
After my roux reached the color I wanted, I added my trinity and chicken breast that I had seasoned with Slap Yo Momma seasoning.  I cooked this for another 5-7 minutes. 

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This addition resulted in my roux getting a little darker, but that was cool.  After this had cooked about 5 minutes or so, I added some minced garlic.

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I then I added chicken stock, a can of petite diced tomatoes, and a gang of seasonings. 

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Once this came to a boil, I lowered the temperature and allowed it to simmer for another 15-20 minutes. 
I added my shrimp and cooked until they turned pink, about 2-3 minutes; then added butter – which made it so much better. 

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I could have sliced some green onion – I had it in the frig – but I decided against it, because I was ready to S-N-A-P.
I cooked rice in my rice cooker – if you don’t have one – put it on your Christmas list (or put it in lay-a-way at Walmart this Christmas). 

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One thing that I will beg you to do when you cook rice is to cook your rice with a bay leaf.  It will take your rice to a level that you will not be able to understand.  It makes it amazing. 

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Babydoll said that she really enjoyed it.  Remember I said that I only had one chicken breast?  She asked me where the chicken was.  The next time I make it, I will be sure to add more chicken. 

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Have you made Étouffée before?  Comment below to let me know what you like to make yours with and how dark do you typically like to make it.
The recipe that I used is below.  I hope that you enjoy it. 

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New Planner Setup

Happy July Everyone,

The start of this month also starts the much anticipated use of my new planner that I purchased when the Rongrong collaboration with Happy Planner came out several months ago. 

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I needed to replace my cover because my current one had some cracks around the rings.  I looked around for something that made me excited, but wasn’t completely enthused about anything I was seeing.  I decided to I was going to use my Cricut to make something that made me excited.  I chose the teal cover, because I didn’t want to get black .

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Destiny loves to sit on my craft work desk whenever I get ready to work – usually right in the center of my work space.  Here’s a better shot than the one I posted last week.

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I printed out a quote on rose gold vinyl and painstakingly  transferred it with some help from Babydoll.  

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The planner came with light purple or lavendar rings, but they were not big enough to use with all of the things I need to keep in my planner; so I switched out the rings to some gold metal rings I had purchased from Staples a while back. 

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I had also purchased some new dashboards to use.

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I usually keep three months of pages in the planner and then have the monthly pages for all of the months.  This time I decided to install six months of pages because I Frankenplan – having a tab for daily &  monthly pages, fitness pages,

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budget pages,

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notes, and work.  I had plenty of filler paper that I was going to use for the notes and work sections.  

P6290285I kept the cover page of the planner because I really like it and the beautiful ladies on the front. 

P6300293This is a dashboard layout format – something that I have come to like a lot more than the horizontal or vertical layouts.  I’ll do a flip-through of the sections of my planner later because I want to talk about somethings that I came up with for decorating my dashboard pages.  But I must know, am I the only one starting a new planner this July?  What planner are you using?  Do you Frankenplan and if so what tabs do you have?  Comment below to let me know.  Have a safe and great 4th.  I’m hosting a bbq, fish fry, and shrimp boil combo with a small crowd of about 35 (what am I thinking? Smile with tongue out).

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I need to explain…

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to send a quick post to talk about what’s been going on and why I haven’t been posting as much.  When we came back from Paris, we noticed that Sasha, my beautiful fur-baby, was worrying her foot.  Upon closer inspection, we noticed that one of her toenails was sitting straight up.  She was due to get her booster flu shot in a few days, so we waited until then to ask the doctor about it.  The doctor said that it should be no big deal, cut it off and suggested an antibiotic shot just in case something was going to crop up.  Less than two weeks later, she was licking the foot again and we noticed that the foot was starting to have an odor.  We took her back to the doctor and were told that she may have gotten an infection, her foot was bandaged, we purchased a cone to keep her from messing with it, and we got a prescription for oral antibiotics.  Fast forward 3 months, a larger cone, many rounds of antibiotics, tons of test, and a lot of money this is what her toe looked like (it can be gross, so if you don’t have a strong stomach don’t click on the link).Bad Toe  We ended up having to have the toe amputated and are now anxiously waiting for results from the lab to confirm or deny that the melanoma is non-cancerous.  My home smelled like decaying flesh and stinking dog for 3 months and it was driving us batty.  We knew something was wrong, but we had to exhaust all options before we took drastic measures.  Yesterday I took her for her first post-op doctors visit and the bandage was removed.  It is the craziest thing to see that missing toe, but the doctors are very impresses with how well she seems to be doing.  Bouncing back like the champ that she is.  20190624_114511[1]We have one more week of the cone and limited activity. 

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I have to say I will be making a grooming appointment for her this week for next weekend.  We have NEVER went this long with having our dog groomed (even if she isn’t getting a haircut, I’m bathing her, because I can’t stand for smelly pets or people to come into my home and smell my pets before they see them.).  I prayerfully optimistic that the lab results will come back favorable. 

In addition to all that has been going on with Sasha, we also got a new fur-baby – Destiny the beautiful gray tabby cat.  I just knew I had a picture of “missy” (that’s the nickname I’ve given her), but I only have videos of her funny antics. 

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My Babydoll had been wanting a cat, but I had vetoed it because I really didn’t want a cat walking on my countertops in the kitchen.  My husband ran across an office cat that he became enamored with and suggested we get one if they were like that cat.  After much research into ways to prevent cats from getting on countertops, looking at tons of cats, and a final trip to the store with Babydolls godmother (who is a cat owner) and Destiny came home with us.  She is a complete joy, and has a temperament much like Sasha’s.  Now if we could get them to get along that would be awesome.  We have been keeping them on separate floors of the house until recently.  Sasha has seen her plenty and there have been a few times when we thought there was going to be an incident, but nothing so far.   My father asked me the other day who I was trying to protect, Sasha or Destiny, and I stated both.  I believe it’s more Sasha, because of her foot situation, I don’t want her to get scratched and hurt.  Destiny is a baby (she was 3 months old when we got her and it’s been two months), and wasn’t ready to defend herself when we first got her; but now I think she can take Sasha.  We are letting them interact a little more – it’s more Destiny runs under the bed when Sasha chases her, and Sasha whines mostly and barks at the bed.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.  It’s a little stressful waiting for them to become friends.

The last major change for me is the purchase of a new car!  I know how is a new car a sound purchase for someone who is working on her finances.  I really didn’t want to purchase a new car, but my homeboy started having problems and I needed to get a new boo.  My husband insisted that it be a brand new car and I ended up getting a 2020 Kia Telluride. 

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I am really satisfied with my purchase and impressed with how awesome this car is.  I had to order it because they are flying off the lot, but it came a week early (it was due to arrive the day of Sasha’s surgery). 

I’m not going to mention how busy things are at work, because it’s too crazy.  Just know that I’ve been totally busy lately running my household and not forsaking you guys.  I’m going to get it together.  If you guys have any blog subject request, please comment below; and thanks for following. 

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Bonjour, Mon Ami

Todays post will include some more pictures from our trip to Paris in March.  I know it is the middle of May, but the month of April was super busy and I’m still dealing with some new adventures that have and are occurring in the Cork household.  I did share pictures of Notre Dame after it caught fire   I want to note first off, that I was unable to go inside of the Louvre.  It is a source of contention for me and something that my husband has promised me that we will do the next time we go.  Don’t know when that will be, but I’m going to hold him to it.  I am not a professional photographer and my pictures are taken with my Olympus Pen E camera that was bought because it can fit in my carry-on bag and purse (in the camera case of course) easily and still give me great pictures.  I do not use my cell phone for too many of my major pictures, I’m a photo purest like that and I suppose I will get better with time; until then, I do my best.  Ok, now on to the photos.  I hope you enjoy.

The first place we chanced upon was the Arc de Triomphe.

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After leaving the Arc and having an awesome lunch – my initial encounter with the citron tart that had me looking for the same awesomeness similar to the high a drug addict says they are always trying to achieve – we began walking through the city.  I took pictures of everything that seemed to be historically beautiful.  I soon realized the city is historically beautiful and full of architecture that is everyday to them but something to behold for us.

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This was someone’s residence.  Look at the doors on that place.  I can just imagine what the inside looks like.

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A random statue in a round-about.

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We were walking through the city and looked over to this wonderful site.  So we headed that way.  It was great to just “chance” upon places we planned to visit anyway.

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More pictures to come.  Have a great weekend everyone.  It’s my Babydolls birthday weekend.  I can’t believe God blessed me with that human being 15 years ago.  She truly is a blessing and one of my favorite people.  

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Sweet Treats for Easter

I want to apologize for how late this post is coming out.  I had it written, but kept forgetting to get the pictures off the camera.  So this post is coming out a week later than I wanted; but I really wanted you guys to see it.  Enjoy

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you had a great week and restful weekend.  Last week was Easter and I had something awesome to share with you about sweets that I made for the holidays, but I decided to share my Notre Dame pictures instead.  So this week I will share the desserts I made for my family.  As you can guess, I hosted Easter dinner (with some help from my wonderful mother).  I was still on a Parisian dessert high, specifically the lemon tarts with meringue so I knew without a doubt that I was making those. I had also seen this really cool tie dye cake on The Kitchen one Saturday and I wanted to try that out as well.  I bought egg-shaped pans several years back that I  used for Easter, meaning whatever cake I make was going to be shaped and decorated to look like an Easter egg.

The most important  thing off all the desserts was making sure that the meringue was correct on the tart. I had always not been a fan of meringue because it always seem to put me in the mind of not done egg whites.  Meringue seemed to always be sliding all over the pie and seem to “wet” for my taste.  This caused me to not make any type of meringue pie.  I would get me some whipped cream or make my own whipped cream before I would eat meringue.  The turning point was of course when we were in Paris and I had my first lemon meringue tart.  I didn’t know what type of meringue was on that tart, but it was not “wet”, it did not taste like uncooked egg whites, it was not sliding anywhere; this was solid, it had the consistency of marshmallow, and it was AMAZING.  I got home and searched the internet for this mysterious meringue that I had been denied for 47 years.  Through research I deduced that what I needed to make was a Swiss Meringue – one that cooked the egg whites and sugar to 170 degrees then beat at high speed to make a shiny cloud of goodness that is not grainy, it’s sticky (ending the sliding problem).

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I’ve made several multi-colored cakes in my baking past.  I’ve done the layers of different colors, made zebra print cakes, swirls in all colors; but I had never tried tie dye.  The premise looked the similar to something I had made before, it was what you did once you had your colors in the pan that gave the tie dye effect. 

So, taking the request of Babydoll, I chose primary colors for my cake.  I used my basic yellow cake recipe that I got from Iambaker.net several years ago that is now my go to.   

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The one color that had me a little scared was the purple.  Once I added it to my cake batter, I was still concerned that it would be a form of dark blue and not the purple that I was wanting.  Never fear, the purple was apparent once the cakes were done.

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To get the tie dye effect, you have to drag a toothpick through the colors giving you this look.  I found the best way to do it was to bring the toothpick through one end and then back the other way.  It keeps the colors from getting mixed up because the last color that you ran through is the first color that you run through the next time.P4200210P4200211P4200214

We drew out the “egg decoration” design beforehand.  I have to say I’m not a huge fan of that yellow color and will probably never use it again when decorating my “egg”, but the icing was colored and at that point I couldn’t take it back without making something too garish.

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I apologize for the pictures, it’s Spring in the Midwest, which means many raining, gray days that are a killer to the ability to take pictures in good lighting.

I loved when the first slice of the cake was made.  I didn’t tell anyone what was inside, just that it was lemon flavored.  The reaction was impressive.

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All the desserts went fast, thankfully I put a few mini tarts aside for Babydoll and she cut folks off saving herself of cake to have for lunch during the week. 

How was your holiday?  Did you make something fabulous for your family or did you go out to dinner and have something fabulous that you want to make?

Have a great week,

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Notre Dame….without the destruction

With the recent destruction and devastation that occurred in Paris last week, I thought I would share my photos of our visit to Notre Dame Cathedral.  I had planned to share this photos anyway, but I had planned to post in the order of the things that we did each day.  Notre Dame was one of the last places that we went to during the trip.  But alas, I’m going to the pictures share sooner and I will show the others in future post.

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The outside of the cathedral was beautiful.  The detail even around the doors.  There are “faces” of all types of saints molded into the arcs.  It was so beautiful.

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There were several statues of different saints inside the cathedral; I decided to take pictures of two that I knew: Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc.

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There was this long display of all of the times that Jesus appeared doing His works.

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This is the cross that they were able to salvage from the fires.  I was sitting in the pews when I took that photo. 

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Other shots from the congregation area.

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The stained glass in this place was amazing.  I wish I had of taken more pictures. 

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There was an opportunity to go into a treasure room.  I don’t know if there are more than one of those rooms, but we were in this one.  There were so many treasures inside, and I attempted to read/interpret as much as I could; but I just took pictures of things that looked interesting.  I hope all of this survived the fire.

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This picture was really interesting.  I can’t remember exactly, but this was a statue made after a priest was persecuted and eventually killed because of his believes.  This is him holding his head symbolizing like him not being separated from the church.   There are other things on all sides at the top, but I can’t remember what they are and the glare is keeping me from seeing.  I apologize for that, but I do remember how “tripped out” I was upon reading the story.

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Of course there were tons of other statues, confessionals, and places where you could light a candle and pray for someone/something.

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Leaving the cathedral, we were amazed at how massive it looked even being close to a block away from the entrance.  There is also the spire that was seen collapsing on news reports.

20190326_14230620190326_142309 I have more photos, but I figured I needed to end this post at some point.  Babydoll and I were talking about it last week.  We said when they rebuild; we hope they are able to convey the history – with it being new, hopefully it won’t look new. 

Until next post, which will probably be about the desserts that I make for Easter dinner – I’m hosting dinner for my family.

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Bonjour, Mon Amie!

Yep, we did it, we went to Paris.  It was something that we had been wanting to do for awhile, and my husband found out that our city recently started having direct flights to Paris that aren’t terribly expensive.  So last year around Christmas he announced that we were going to Paris for Spring Break. 

I would like to point out that although our city now has direct flights to Paris, we did not get one of those direct flights.  This may have been because my husband has a habit of waiting until a couple of weeks before we are going to make a trip before he actually books the trip.  I cannot seem to get him to move any faster than that on vacation plans and after over 20 years together, I don’t trip on it anymore.  I just wait for the confirmation email so that I can know what date and time we are leaving.

Before we left, there were all sorts of opinions shared about the city, the most prevalent ones were that the city is dirty, the people are rude, and there are pick-pockets everywhere so be on the look-out. I’d like to talk about them.

Lets address the first – the city is dirty.  The city was no more dirty than any other major city throughout the US.  It was not different than New York or Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Unless you consider the beautiful old buildings and cobblestone streets that speak to the history of the country as dirty, then I’d say that is an inaccurate statement.

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The second thing that was said was that the people are rude. I speak a little bit of French, and understand a little bit more.  Babydoll is currently in her third year of French; and I had seven years of French, (but if you don’t use something you really do lose it) I can piece together what to say and what is being said; but we aren’t fluent by any means.  Having said that, we never encountered any rude Parisians.  Once they figured out that we were not fluent if they could speak English, they were all too happy to converse with us.  My husband insisted that we use Uber to get around if we couldn’t walk.  If our drivers did not know English it was usually a quite ride, but they were never rude.  We even had one driver use a Google app to allow us to converse with her and she with us.  Keep in mind it is a busy metropolitan city and it’s fast paced, not unlike New York or Chicago; so there was no stopping on the street for a friendly chat and they just walked past you to get to where they were going.  Although occasionally you would run across some elderly people strolling down the street having discussions and enjoying the day or walking their dog.

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Pickpockets…..we didn’t encounter them.  I can’t said that I could attribute that to use or the lack thereof; but we didn’t run into anyone shady.  My husband and I both grew up in the inner-city what we call “the hood”, and because of that we are very mindful and watchful of our surroundings all the time.  Between the two of us and what we have tried to instill in Babydoll, you gotta be really good to get one over on us.  It may happen one day, but as of my 46 years on this earth, it has not happened yet. 

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There were tons of street vendors around the Eiffel Tower, but even while we were in awe of the magnificence of the structure , we weren’t messed with.  They wanted you to buy, buy, buy as you were coming and leaving and that was about it. 

I loved the city and I wish I had of had more time there; and I’m totally looking forward to going back.  I can’t wait to share more pictures and stories in the upcoming weeks.  Until next week,

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