Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nemo's Tea Party

One of the pages I follow on Facebook claims that #TeapotTuesday is a thing. We have several teapots, so I decided I'd play along, by posting literature based tea party ideas. It's too much work to do every week, but I figure I can do it once a month, until I run out of teapots to feature.

This week, we have a plain white "Betty" style teapot with teacups and plates from the "From the Deep" dinnerware collection for a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne, theme.

 photo DSC_0021.jpg

There are no little sandwiches at this tea party, because Nemo is described as serving no bread.

“I must say, however, that there was neither bread nor wine..."

 "Amongst the dishes which were brought to us, I recognised several fish delicately dressed; but of some, although excellent, I could give no opinion, neither could I tell to what kingdom they belonged, whether animal or vegetable.”

This is a chance to be creative with seafood. 

The seafood does not have to make this tea party prohibitively expensive. A couple cans and a small package of lox is all I needed to create this. 

 photo DSC_0004.jpg

I included seaweed in our food by making sushi and using rice crackers that included tiny bits of seaweed (found in the International foods section of our regular grocery store). 

"My cook is a clever fellow, who excels in dressing these various products of the ocean. Taste all these dishes. Here is a preserve of sea-cucumber, which a Malay would declare to be unrivalled in the world; here is a cream, of which the milk has been furnished by the cetacea, and the sugar by the great fucus of the North Sea; and, lastly, permit me to offer you some preserve of anemones, which is equal to that of the most delicious fruits.”

I substituted a large English cucumber for the sea-cucumber mentioned in the book. The cucumber was used both in the sushi and as a substitute for crackers or bread. 

The foods served at a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tea party do not need to have a single culture of origin, since the Nautilus travels around the world. Products of the sea are the unifying theme.

 photo b3a7e44a0681af54dea0ba71c29e887a.jpg
A map of Nemo's travels during the course of the book. 

Our Menu:

Homemade sushi (ours have thin strips of lightly steamed carrots, thin strips of fresh cucumber, and avocado as the filling)

Hummus with bell pepper octopus, served with sliced cucumber and rice crackers for dipping

Rice crackers with cream cheese and lox

Crab cups

Cucumber slices with curried shrimp

Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate sea shells

Black tea

Sushi Rice in a Rice Cooker

1 1/2 Cups sushi rice (rinsed two or three times) 

2 Cups water

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Cook 1 1/2 cups of rice with 2 cups of water. When the machine beeps, indicating that the rice is done cooking, add the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Stir until it is all blended together. Let cool until you can handle the rice with your hands. Dampen you hands with water when handling sushi rice or sticky rice, to keep the rice from sticking to you. 

Curried Shrimp

3 Tablespoons of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I have found that it is easier to grate if frozen)

1 4-ounce can of tiny shrimp, drained

Additional cilantro leaves as garnish (optional)

Mix everything together and served on crackers or cucumber slices.

Garnish each appetizer with a single cilantro leaf (optional)

Can be made a day in advance. Refrigerate in an air-tight container and stir before using.

Crab Cups

4-ounces of softened cream cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise

dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 can (6-ounces) of crab meat, drained

dash of salt

2 boxes (15 cups each) of frozen mini fillo cups

extra green onion for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a mixer to beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce together. Add the green onions, garlic, crab, and salt. Mix well. Place the fillo cups on a cookie sheet. Fill each cup with crab mixture and bake for 6 minutes.

Garnish with thin circles of green onion. I used three per cup.

The crab mixture could be made a day in advance and kept in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

“He discovered a coco-tree, beat down some of the fruit, broke them, and we drunk the milk and ate the nut with a satisfaction that protested against the ordinary food on the Nautilus.”

Coconut Macaroons

1 14-ounce bag of sweetened coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs whites and salt with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold egg whites into the coconut. Spoon mounds of the coconut mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between mounds.

Bake 25 minutes.

 photo 1b970926cd74203d1c8fc81a7668f002.jpg
From the 1954 Disney movie of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mobile Again/Nature Journaling at Wakulla Springs

Thanks to a very generous gift from another homeschool family, we are mobile again. The previous owners of this car have just moved out of state and couldn't take the car with them.

 photo DSC_0019.jpg

Today we took advantage of our ability to drive places and went to the homeschool program at Wakulla Springs. The topic for today was "Nature Journaling".

 photo DSC_0002.jpg

Everyone took a walk in the woods and collected things from nature, that they could then draw and identify when they got back to the picnic shelter. A very extensive collection of books was provided for the children to look up the common and scientific names needed to label their drawings.

 photo DSC_0008.jpg

 photo DSC_0016.jpg

 photo DSC_0019.jpg

After the lesson, there was free time in the spring.

 photo DSC_0026.jpg

 photo DSC_0025.jpg

 photo DSC_0028.jpg

Friday, July 3, 2015

Our Crushed Car

A sudden storm with 80 mile an hour winds swept through our neighborhood shortly after DH got home from work Tuesday night. I was almost finished making dinner when the lights flickered and went out. A few minutes later, there was a loud crash. DH looked out the door and announced that we no longer had a car. A 50 foot pine tree had come crashing down on it.

The first time we tried to go outside to look at the damage, we heard another tree come down in the neighbor's yard and quickly scurried back into the house.

We were able to sit down to a hot dinner before investigating the wreckage.

 photo DSC_0053.jpg

As soon as the rain let up, all the neighbors were out walking around assessing the damage. We have lived here almost 3 years and this is the first time we have met most of the people who live on our street.

 photo DSC_0034.jpg

 photo DSC_0040.jpg

 photo DSC_0041.jpg

One neighbor had a branch come straight down through their roof and into their living room, but no one was hurt.

This was not a great time to be without air conditioning. It was uncomfortably hot Wednesday afternoon when Blaze and DH took backpacks and went to the gas station a little over a mile away to buy ice. While they were gone, the mother of one of Blaze's friends showed up with two bags of ice, so we were able to give a bag of ice to another neighbor, as well as having more than enough for ourselves.

We had finished off the ice cream for dessert Tuesday night, before it could melt, and moved all the dairy products from the refrigerator into the freezer, so no food was lost.

The tree that fell on our car and a slightly small tree next to it, blocked the street on one side of the cul-du-sac and an enormous fallen oak tree blocked the street on the other side, so that no one could drive in or out. For almost 24 hours no help came. The tree continued to sit on our car and several people had no way of leaving, even though they had completely undamaged cars.

 photo DSC_0024.jpg

 photo DSC_0026.jpg

Finally, a city tree removal crew showed up and told us they would get the tree off of our car.

 photo DSC_0061.jpg

 photo DSC_0062.jpg

 photo DSC_0072.jpg

They only cut up the trees blocking one side of the cul-du-sac and they left all the logs and branches laying around. They never touched the big oak that was down, so that when the power company showed up they had trouble getting to all the houses and were only able to restore power to our side of the cul-du-sac. Our power came back on around 8:30 Wednesday night, but the people on the other side still had no electricy on Thursday morning.

A professional tree service showed up Thursday and quickly and efficiently removed all signs of the storm. They cleaned up the mess the city had left, took away all the fallen trees, removed dead branches from the trees that were still standing, and even cleaned the roofs and sidewalks. They had just finished cleaning our roof, when another storm hit. I walked out onto the porch to see what was happening and found one of the tree service guys sheltering under the eves at the corner of our house, so we talked for awhile. Just as Blaze came out to join the conversation, the power went out again and was out for about two hours.

The car has been towed away and power has been restored to everyone.

 photo DSC_0015.jpg

DH was given a ride to work Thursday morning and a ride to the car rental place at the airport after work, so we have a nice new Toyota Camry for the next week.

It's not supposed to rain at all today, so I'm hoping we can go out and do something fun and have a completely stress free holiday weekend.

Monday, June 8, 2015

An Amazing Concert

Saturday, after having Blaze's homeschool assessment done, we drove down to DeLand for a big steampunk concert at the historic Athens Theater. The Cog is Dead was filming a live concert video.

For this special occasion, they brought in some very talented friends to help out, Nathaniel Johnstone (formerly of Abney Park, now leader of his own band, The Nathaniel Johnstone Band),

(This was Tempest accompanying the Cog in Dead during their show at Dragon*Con last year)

Clockwork Knotwork,

and Phantasmagoria.

To get the audience all warmed up before the show, there was a costume contest. Five people were chosen to go up on stage and the winner was chosen by the enthusiasm of the crowd. Blaze didn't win, but he was one of the five.

The two pictures of him on stage were taken by Chris Bridges:

 photo 11416347_10154460356147925_7527115610971183438_o-1.jpg

 photo 11390046_10154460356137925_7877262711376011075_n.jpg

The show was absolutely amazing!

I didn't take my camera out of the car until after the show, but here are some pictures of people socializing afterwords.

 photo DSC_0001.jpg

 photo DSC_0004.jpg

 photo DSC_0015.jpg

 photo DSC_0014.jpg

Nathaniel Johnstone (in yet another poorly focused picture with Blaze) is one of the most talented and friendly musicians you could ever meet. He can play a wide variety of instruments and is full of infectious enthusiasm both on and off the stage.

 photo DSC_0008.jpg

Blaze and Daniel O'Ryan, one of the members of Clockwork Knotwork, admiring each other's backpacks. The Clockwork Knotwork one is actually a steampowered bagpipe.

 photo DSC_0005.jpg

This was the welcoming committee that met us as we stepped off the elevator at our hotel.

 photo DSC_0016.jpg

After being around such creative, talented, and colorful people at the Cog is Dead concert, they just seemed a bit flat.

 photo DSC_0019.jpg

On the way back to Tallahassee on Sunday, we made a brief stop in McIntosh, so I could take pictures of the cool little submarine that sits in front of McIntosh Village Antiques.

 photo DSC_0038.jpg

 photo DSC_0024.jpg

 photo DSC_0032.jpg

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Display Shelves for Tea Cups and Tea Pots

On our way back from Minnesota, we stopped at the flee market in Cullman, Alabama, mostly so we could get out of the car and stretch our legs for awhile. I came away with this new piece of furniture.

 photo DSC_0005.jpg

It wasn't an attractive paint job and it turned out that the paint had been used to cover burn marks from candles and other damage. The paint had also been applied without removing previous varnish. The price was right, though.

This was the result of an entire can of spray-on Goof-Off brand paint remover and a lot of scraping:

 photo DSC_0007.jpg

This is the result of a larger can of paint-on paint remover, Klean-Strip.

 photo DSC_0013.jpg

The rest of the paint was removed with the help of extra strength spray-on Klean-Strip, which is scary stuff. It was burning my hands through a pair of vinyl gloves, so I replaced that pair with two new pairs, but it still burned my hands, even through the double thickness.

There was also a lot of sanding and rubbing with steel wool involved.

The "Warm Cherry" wood stain from Wood You (unfinished wood furniture) was left over from the dining room table.

I decided to put new knobs on the drawers, because the white porcelain knobs looked like they belonged in a bathroom.

 photo DSC_0001.jpg

After a week and a half of working on it, it was ready to go up on the wall today.

 photo DSC_0009.jpg

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


DH worked at Moundville while he was working on his masters degree at the University of Alabama and he had often mentioned wanting to visit, so that was the final stop on our return trip from Minnesota.

 photo DSC_0639.jpg

The museum is small, but beautifully put together.

 photo DSC_0616.jpg

 photo DSC_0620.jpg

 photo DSC_0619.jpg

 photo DSC_0625.jpg

 photo DSC_0626.jpg

 photo DSC_0629.jpg

 photo DSC_0632.jpg

The mounds that the natives built are impressive. DH said that when he worked here, the building at the top of this mound was open to the public and contained a life-sized diorama, but the park had trouble with vandalism and it is no longer open.

 photo DSC_0679.jpg

It's quite a climb, but the view from the top is spectacular!

 photo DSC_0657.jpg

 photo DSC_0661.jpg

 photo DSC_0664.jpg

 photo DSC_0675.jpg

Blaze was very interested in earth lodges.

 photo DSC_0676.jpg

Close to the river there is a cluster of small houses with life-sized dioramas of daily life.

 photo DSC_0692.jpg

 photo DSC_0694.jpg

 photo DSC_0700.jpg

 photo DSC_0703.jpg

 photo DSC_0690.jpg

For more information about Moundville:

Crafty Crow