Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Delicious New Dip

I recently found a wonderful blog with many different recipes. As I looked over her recipes, my eyes lit up ....a new dip that hadn't made the rounds. The dip was suppose to taste like one of my favorite foods - jalapeno poppers filled with cream cheese. Could it be...could it actually taste like poppers? I quickly gathered all the ingredients, followed her directions and brought it with me as I went to a friend's home. Immediately I was told how delicious it was and had requests for the recipe. I wrote to Robin at http://www.bigredkitchen.com/ and asked her permission to reprint her recipe on my blog. She graciously responded that I could. She wanted me to let you know that her inspiration was a recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/ Please head on over to Robin's blog and see the rest of her recipes as well as reading what she does with her family's excess Halloween candy. Just a warning --- do not have anything in your mouth when you read her blog abobut the candy or you'll end up losing it.

Jalapeño Popper Dip
2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1- 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1- 4 ounce can sliced jalapeños- double if you like heat (I used 1/2 of one can and it was perfect for me)

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter, melted
In a food processor add the first 6 ingredients and process until smooth. You do not need to drain either can of peppers. Spread the dip into a greased 2 quart casserole. In a bowl mix bread crumbs and the other 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Pour melted butter over top crumb mixture and mix well. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the dip and bake in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. You want the top to get browned and the dip to be heated through and bubble gently on the edges. Do not over heat this dish or the mayonnaise with separate and you will have a grease puddle in your dip. Serve with Buttery crackers or a sliced French baguette. Serves 8-10.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

I have always loved things that had "Buffalo chicken" in it yet at the same time, I dislike all the heat that some of these items have. Having had a Buffalo Chicken Panini recently and found it absolutely delicious, I thought that I would try my own. I don't have a Panini maker (and if anyone would like to send me one, I would graciously accept it) so I made it in a similar style as a grilled cheese sandwich. First I buttered the outside of a nice hearty white bread. On the inside I spread blue cheese salad dressing and put some hot sauce on top of it. Put a little more than what you think. On top of that dressing, I put a few slices of Havarti cheese. Sliced chicken from the deli followed and then again the Havarti and finally the other slice of bread with blue cheese salad dressing with the hot sauce. I cooked these in an electric skillet with a weight on top. After a few minutes, I flipped them to the other side. Serving these hot, we had a great meal on a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Tale of a Christening Gown







Towards the end of my time up north, our son's girlfriend Haley asked if would make and smock a christening gown for her sister's baby who was due the end of October. That's an opportunity that any smocker would love to have. I was in a dilemma - the timing wasn't good for me. I was in the process of going back to Virginia, less than a month later our daughter Lisa was getting married and then 2 days after that I was leaving for Atlanta for the smocking convention. After spending some time talking with Haley and thinking about what I could do that would alleviate any stress on me, I proposed a solution. My friend and fellow smocker/sewer Judy from Alabama would sew the gown for me and I would smock it. Haley jumped on it and thought it was a great solution - after all I would STILL be smocking it and it would STILL be handmade and become an heirloom. Judy and I conferred about the design, a basic square yoke dress, and the size, able to fit a newborn. It would be made out of a drapeable silk with insertion laces and entredeux. There would be smocking on the short sleeves and mother of pearl buttons on the back. We ordered the fabric from Jan at http://www.bessiemary.com/ in Texas who was such an immense help with her suggestions for fabric (which we purchased from her) as well as the laces. She shipped it off to Judy and then Judy began sewing. As she was sewing, I was helping to finish up last minute details for the wedding. It was finished and mailed to me just before the wedding. I was able to bring it with me to show Haley and her parents, although still unsmocked at this point. When I returned from Atlanta, the smocking began. The silk was ivory in color and I smocked in tone on tone with a goldish color for accent, very rich looking and gender neutral. Finished it up, mailed it to parents and received the day before she went into labor. Mother, grandmother and aunt were ecstatic and loved it. Can't wait to see pictures of the still unborn baby in the gown. News flash----baby boy born Nov. 2nd at almost 10 pounds!!

Tapas Anyone?

Always looking to expand my culinary skills and new dishes into our household, I thought I would try making a tapa. Darrell and I went to a tapas bar in Frederick, Maryland a year ago (I think it was Isabella's) and we tried a few tapas. One in particular was outstanding. I have been on a hunt for that recipe ever since. Well I found one that came close to it - found it in a cookbook at TJMaxx for just $2.99. I grabbed my prized possession and headed home with it. The recipe I am referring to is an Asparagus with Aioli Sauce.

First you need to make the aioli sauce. I did mine in our blender but you could use an electric beater as well.

1 egg yolk,
2 garlic cloves (less if you don't like garlic because it is very garlicky)
1 tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Blend well. Add in, drop by drop, 5 tablespoons of olive oil while you are blending or beating. Once it starts to thicken you can add in a steady stream. Then add in 5 tablespoon corn oil the same way. The sauce should be thick and smooth. If it is too thick for dipping, you can add in 1 tbs of water so that it forms the consistency of sauce - your call

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put 1 tbs of olive oil on cooking sheet (I put down aluminum foil first - easier clean-up). Snap end of asparagus spears - don't use too thin stalks, they won't hold up. Don't use too thick ones, too tough. Now, you can wrap the spear with half a slice of proscuitto (I didn't). Put the spears in the pan and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

My variation was to bread the spears first. Don't use regular breadcrumbs. See if you can find Panko breadcrumbs, they are not as fine. I use the egg white, beat it up, rolled the spear in it, dipped in crumbs and then repeat it. Then I put the spears on the sheet to bake.

My spears were thin so I couldn't so what I wanted which was to put the sauce in a wine glass and then have the cooked spears sticking out. What I ended up doing was to lay the spears on a plate and then drizzle the sauce over.

These were gone in about 5 minutes. An easy to make yet delicious and different appetizer. Stay tuned while I make more tapas in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cuban Dinner

What to make for dinner....a dilemma that we all face. I get bored with the same old stuff and love to try out new recipes. Since I knew that I would be busy and it was chilly outside, I thought it would be a perfect day for a crockpot dinner. Now to find the right one. I wanted one that didn't have cans of cream of ___________ (fill in the blank) soup. I'm trying to eat a little healthier so that was a consideration as well. After flipping through different web sites I found it! Eureka...it seemed to fit my criteria. It is a Cuban chicken crockpot dish called Mojito Chicken. Looking over the ingredients I saw that it took a half cup of rum....hmmm, I don't drink much, was this going to be too strong or just the right punch. I decided to give it a try.

MOJITO CHICKEN
Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 limes (used for zest and juice)
1/2 cup light rum
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tablespoons fresh mint, chiffonade
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
3 cups cooked rice
Garnish:
Fresh lime wedges and fresh sprigs of mint and the thyme.
Method
Season chicken breasts with cumin, cayenne, salt, and paprika. Place chicken breasts in 3-4 quart crock pot, add butter, garlic, shallots, 2 tablespoons lime zest, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, and rum. Cover and cook on medium for 4-6 hours. Stir in cubed bell peppers, mint, thyme, and tomatoes. Cover and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 hours. Remove Mojito Pepper Chicken to serving platter with rice and garnish with fresh lime wedges and sprigs of mint and thyme.
Notes: If preparing this dish prior to work or a full day of activities, you may prepare the bell peppers, tomatoes, and herbs in advance. Then upon returning home, just stir these in to complete the preparation of this entree.
Number of Servings: 6

It was absolutely delicious and so easy. Of course, I had to make some Mojitos to drink to go along with this recipe. As far as the taste of the rum, there wasn't any and from what I understand the alcohol is cooked off. Let me know if you liked it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway







After visiting Atlanta, we headed home. We wanted to take our time and enjoy our trip. So often we just drive from point to point and don't stop along the way. We left on a bright and a little cool Sunday afternoon. We drove out on Georgia and at our first exit in South Carolina, we got off the beaten path. We went on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. Stopped off at an Oktoberfest where we listened to an Oompa Band, ate kettle korn, a funnel cake and then walked around. We then went on a short hike to a waterfall that was a little disappointing because there wasn't much water. That evening we got as far as Henderson, North Carolina. What a neat little town that is. We went downtown and poked around looking for a restaurant to have dinner in. Believe it or not, we had 3 good choice for us. We ended up eating at an Irish Pub. I had Bangers and Mashers and Darrell had Irish Pot Roast. Both were excellent.

The next morning we got up and drove to Chimney Rock. I didn't climb up to the chimney, though Darrell did. I took the 26 story elevator up. I didn't ventured too far once at the top on the wooden planked bridge. Hey, there was nothing but air under the bridge and you know, heights is one of my many phobias. I sat and looked, a little. I did climb down the stairs back to the parking lot. We walked on a few of the hiking trails. It was in the 60's, warm, sunny bright blue sky and the leaves were in full foliage. Just a perfect day. As we drove along to get to the interstate, we passed a small little area that had a few shops and people sitting outside. We turned around, parked and looked around. We had found that we were in a little planned community of condos in an area called Black Rock. What a great, almost hippie type community this was. We had a great lunch to boot. Darrell had a blackened chicken, spinach and garlic mayonnaise wrap sandwich and I had a Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich. Then we were off again. While driving through Hickory we stopped at a Furniture Mart - not too impressed but we understand that there was a 20 mile stretch of furniture stores just a few miles away. We decided to skip it and keep driving.

Our stop for the night was at Mt. Airy. Now if any of you grew up in the 60's or are a fan of TV Land, then you know why Mt. Airy is important. It is the actual Mayberry of the old Andy Griffith television show. I kept whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith tv show and was excited to be there. We ate dinner at Goober's and although we did not go downtown, there was a Lucky Diner and Floyd's Barber Shop. Trivia Question: who was Barney Fife's girlfriend - character name- on the television show?

Up bright and early the next morning, drove to the North Carolina/Virginia border and hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My memory of it from decades earlier was that it was very windy and around many dangerous curves. NOT! It was a very nice road and the leaves were just so beautiful. I was so glad that we got off the interstate and made this drive. We drove by the famous Mawby Mill and took lots of photos. Got off the parkway in Roanoke,, had lunch at Panera and then were only 90 minutes from home. A great trip home.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smocking in Atlanta

After the wedding Darrell and I went to Atlanta so I could attend my first every SAGA convention. For those of you who are wondering what is a SAGA, it is Smocking Arts Guild of America. I began smocking almost 25 years ago when Lisa was only a few months old. I smocked most of her dresses until she reached third grade and then she just didn't care for the clothes I made her. I accepted it and moved on to other things. About 10 years later when I was working in the schools, we had a lot of young pregnant teachers. Rather than throwing $10 into a pot to buy the teacher a gift, I decided that I would get a yard of fabric and smock them a dress instead. They all loved a handsmocked dress. I realized how much I missed smocking and how much I really liked it. I've never been real sure of my skills of smocking or sewing - it was fine for me but how was I really doing. The purpose of convention was to further the tradition of smocking and learning new skills. I promptly signed up for convention and on May 1st signed up for the classes that I wanted during the five days of convention.

I asked Judy to be my roommate, she agreed and it was now waiting time for October 13th to come. Darrell drove me down and then he went camping for a week while I was holed up in the Peachtree Westin (gee, sorry about that Darrell!!!). I took two classes with Gail Doane, a class with Judith Adams, and a class with Vaune Pierce. Some classes I felt that I was way ahead of the curve, others were just perfect and one I was behind the curve. The best part of the convention was meeting all the Delphi ladies. One of the groups on Delphi is for Smocking and Heirloom Sewing hosted by Robin. I have been a member of this board for about 7 years having only met two members in person. Although I didn't know most of the ladies in person, I felt like I knew them, and they of me. It was great putting a face and personality to a name on the board. They were and are a great group of ladies and I look forward to more conventions with them! If you want to "lurk" and check it out, here is the link: http://forums.delphiforums.com/Heirloom/start

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wedding







What can I say about our daughter's wedding? As a parent you hope that it is all that your child wants it to be but realistic to know that something always goes wrong. You try to prepare them for that possibility. In this case, nothing went wrong and it was a fairy tale wedding.

Lisa was radiant in her dress and the big, broad smile never left her face. As she walked out of the Willow Manor Country Estate house, she locked eyes on Nate. No one else existed for her. Her father became very sentimental when he gave her away with love. They were surrounded with family and friends as they exchanged vows. As they were pronounced man and wife, there was a jubilant cheer among all of us. They walked back down the aisle to the strains of "All I Want is You" from the movie Juno. A little corny but just so perfect for their wedding.

Following pictures, the reception began. Willow Manor could not have looked any more beautiful as it did on this warm October night. The white table linens topped with navy blue table toppers with the silver plate chargers and the china looked beatiful with the hurricane lanterns and the large candle pillars with navy blue ribbons. They were on top of mirror squares with small votives surrounding them. Along the pool were many luminaries in white bags and then we floated candles in the pool. Picture Perfect!

Nothing makes a wedding a hit as much as the food and most importantly, the DJ and boy, did Rodney rock. We were all out there dancing as much as we could either by ourselves, our partners or anyone we could grab. At the end of the evening when the reception was just about over, everyone wanted to take up a collection and have Rodney stay and play more but the bride , after a long day preparing for the wedding, the entire wedding party and parents were tired and anxious to rest a little. We could not have asked for more for Lisa and Nate's wedding. Thank you Margaret, the owner and wedding consultant at Willow Manor Country Estate in Providence Forge, Virginia.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting ready for the Wedding

I went to Richmond on Friday to have a chance to go over some wedding details with Lisa and to take her shopping. We hit Short Pump Mall running on Saturday morning.We had a successful and tiring day. That evening we waited for her brother Chris to drive down; he was coming down to take photos of her at Maymount Park in Richmond - casual and fun wedding photos. When he arrived we went out to eat dinner at a wonderful Cuban restaurant called Kuba Kuba. Their Cuban pork with rice and black beans were delicious and enough to have several more meals from your doggy bag. Sunday morning we picked Chris up and drove to the park. Lisa put on her wedding gown and off we went. Thank goodness it was her brother taking the photos; I don't think she would have done half the things he asked her to do (can't tell you because I'd give away the secrets). We finished just before the rain drops began. After that, we had a marathon meeting at Willow Manor where the wedding will be. We thought we were on top of things but the wedding coordinator gave us lots to think about. We left on overload but do have a list to work through. I just can't believe the wedding will be in 10 days but more important - I can't believe our daughter is getting married. When did she become old enough to marry? What happened to playing make believe on a blanket in the back yard with Angela, tea parties with her daddy, wanting to cuddle with us at night. It really does seem like yesterday though going through all the different stages it seemed to last forever. We have been very blessed with our daughter (and all of our sons too).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Time for Soup!

I love soup even during the summer months. I participated in a craft show at the Lake this summer and to fill in my table space, I sold soup in 32 ounce containers. The best seller was my Artichoke and Sausage soup. It is an unusual combination; one that I wouldn't have thought on my own. As I was leaving the Lake, I received a request for 4 containers of the soup from one family. Hope you enjoy the soup as much as we do.

Artichoke Sausage Soup

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
2 14 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained
3 14 oz cans Italian plum tomatoes
3-4 c rich beef broth ( or more depending how you like your soup)
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
½ tsp Italian seasonings
1 TBS chopped fresh oregano (can use dried)
1 TBS chopped fresh basil (can use dry)
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh chopped parsley

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until transparent. Brown sausage in separate pan, Drain. In soup pot, combine meat and vegetable mixture, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and beef broth. Simmer for 30 minutes. May be made a day ahead. Fifteen minutes before serving add balsamic vinegar, Italian seasonings, oregano and basil. Garnish with parsley and pass the pepper mill.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mamma Mia

Okay, I admit it...I LOVE the movie "Mamma Mia." I love it so much that I have seen it four times already. I think that I know the script by heart now but I will say, each time I see it, I see something or hear something that I hadn't heard before. Pierce Brosnan can't sing but looking at him makes up for it. Who knew that Meryl had such great vocals particularly in "Winner Takes All." If you are going to see it, stay through all of the credits, there is a surprise at the end and it is fun. Sing out loud at the movie and enjoy it for what it is worth....a fun, lighthearted movie with songs that we all know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BINGO





Monday nights are Bingo nights for me here at Mullett Lake. I usually go into Cheboygan with a group from the Lake. I used to drive and take the ladies in but since I began doing that, I never won so now I drive myself and I win. I still sit with the ladies, I just don't drive them. I usually get to the Knights of Columbus hall around 5:45 for dinner. Dinner will cost anywhere between $1.50 and $3.00 and it is all homemade by "the guys" except for the pizza which comes in from "This Old House" a great pizza place here in town. Last night there was homemade hamburger vegetable soup, brats on a bun, and hot dogs. Of course, there is popcorn, candy bars, ice cream during break, soft drinks, etc. Bought my cards from all the guys lined up to sell it to me. Began with speedball...I was close but obviously not close enough. After speedball came early bird where in the first game you had to have an "X" to win. Nope, didn't win that but I did win the next game having a "T" on my card. I was the only winner and won $47. The night was starting off good. Later I went on to win $5 when someone bingoed on my number that I bought for a dollar and then another $5 when I won on second chance bingo. A successful night and I am still driving by myself!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Do you know what a Wanagan is?




Here in Cheboygan, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Wanagan Races. It sounded intriguing so my husband and I went down to the Rt. 33 bridge over the Cheboygan River to see what was up. It is the most random race ever! You need to build a raft that will float on the river. Typically 4-7 people are on the raft paddling. On the raft you have to build a structure and in the structure you have to cook a gallon of chili to a temperature of 160 degrees over a wood fire ALL while you are paddling 4 miles down the river. All rafts had themes; most rafts looked like they were going to sink in the river, some rafts had beer in coolers floating behind them and all looked like they were having a ball. The winner of the race? It was "The Beaver Trap" with their flag, a pair of thongs, flying from their structure. I'm trying to talk my kids into doing this next year. Do you think you would try something like this?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wedding Shower


















Our only daughter Lisa is getting married on October 11th to a wonderul guy. She and Nate have dated for over 5 years after having met at JMU - James Madison University in Virginia. I flew back to Virginia for her shower at Notaviva Vineyards in Purcellville, VA http://www.notavivavineyards.com/ owned by Stephen and Shannon. Stephen is the son of my longtime friend Mickie. The Maid of Honor Angela and the bridesmaids Nena, Haley, Amber, Natalie and Jenna did a fantastic job. The winery looked amazing, the food was scrumptious, the wine never stopped pouring and the gifts were very generous and much appreciated by the happy couple. A nice touch that the Maid of Honor did was to place a card at everyone's place and have them write down their favorite memory of Lisa. After Lisa opened a gift, Natalie and Jenna read a memory and Lisa had to guess who wrote it. It was a nice way of sharing some of our memories of Lisa with her future in-laws so they would cherish her as much as her family does. The last gift she received was a recipe book holding pictures and recipes that we all had sent in to Haley. This is a beautiful hardcover book. On the page that has your recipe, a picture of you was inserted. When she made your recipe, your photo was right there to guide her. I would highly recommend this company and their site is: http://www.tastebook.com/


Later that evening her Bachelorette Night was held. Her future sisters-in-law are college students and they wouldn't have been able to come back to Washington DC for a party closer in time to the wedding. After a Mexican dinner, they were picked up by a limo that had Nena in it. The limo took them to different clubs in DC and and at the end they crashed at her brother's house in DC. The guys, you see, were having their Bachelor Party at Atlantic City, so the house was free. These are moments that Lisa will always remember and look back fondly on.

Boat Races






As I mentioned earlier, we live on Mullett Lake in northern lower Michigan. This past Saturday were the boat races. The race took the boaters from Indian River through Mullett Lake, down the Cheboygan River to just before the locks where they turned around and went back to Indian River. I had wondered how they would do it as there are signs in the Cheboygan River that you need to go slow, no wake. I found out that the Coast Guard and the Cheboygan sheriff's department close down the river to all trafficers except for the racers. We stood on the Rt. 33 bridge and watched the boaters coming and going. WOW...some were so fast, some were singles, some were doubles. all different classes for this boat race. Afterwards we went into downtown cheboygan for the kickoff of Riverfest. There was an entertainment/beer tent in the parking lot of the Citizen's Bank. Admission was free but we had to wear a Budweiser wrist band to show that we were over 21. Great music, good beer...a fine time..

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Simple but Delicious Dinner







My in-laws live a few doors down from us and Darrell and I try to help out with cooking. My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook but as she got older, cooking became more difficult for her. My father-in-law does the cooking now and it is a treat for them both when we cook them a meal or invite them over to our house. They are most appreciative of our efforts and never leave without making sure that we know how much they enjoy our meals. Tonight I needed to use some ground hamburg. We had burgers last night and I didn't want to repeat that. My mother loved my Hawaiian meatballs and I thought that I would make that tonight. I added a tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese salad with cucumbers, purple onion and parsley. I'm proud to say that the tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley came from my small garden. I drizzles Briana's Blush salad dressing over it. Mmmm good! Here's the recipe for the Hawaiian Meatballs:




Hawaiian Meatballs

1 ½ lb ground beef
2/3 c cracker crumbs
1/3 c minced onion
1 egg
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger
¼ c milk
1 TBS shortening
Mix beef, crumbs, onion, egg, ginger, salt and milk. Shape into meatballs and cook in skillet with shortening. Drain fat.




Sauce
2 TBS soy sauce
4 TBS cornstarch
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c vinegar
1 can 13 oz pineapple tibbits, drained (saved syrup). If no tibbits, then buy chunks and cut them up


Mix cornstarch, sugar and stir in pineapple syrup, vinegar and soy sauce till smooth. Pour into skillet and stir until thick and boiling. Add meatballs and pineapples




Up North


Our home is in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We just moved there in May having sold our home in northern Virginia. We were only there about a month before we came up north here in Michigan. We have a home on Mullett Lake in northern lower peninsula Michigan. My husband had been coming here since he was 3 weeks old. His grandparents had a cottage here, his parents now live there and we purchased a home here 4 summers ago. This area is very unique in that it is very generational....cottages are passed down from one generation to another. All families know each other and when you first meet someone, rather than asking them their name, you find out which cottage they are associated with. We made the decision in 2005 that rather than move further south for the winters, we would move north for the summers and escape the oppressive heat and humidity of Virginia. This also makes a nice destination for friends and family to come when they want to visit us. We have a country club with a 9 hole golf course here in Mullett Lake Village, decent fishing in the lake, toys for the lake such as windsurf boards, wakeboards, water skiis and a Sunfish sail boat. Our village is around this bay in the northwestern section of Mullett Lake. I just checked the temperature and it is 96 degrees in Virginia but here at Mullett Lake it is 72 degrees and no humidity. Where would you rather be?

At Last, my first blog!

Let me begin by explaining my blog name. I grew up, went to college, married, and had two of my three children while living in the Boston suburbs. My husband Darrell came home from work one day and said he had been transfered to Washington DC. I suppose that shouldn't have surprised me since he worked for the government BUT we had just purchased our first home 10 months earlier, had a baby three months prior, had a three year old, and was just beginning to settle in to our new life. I headed to the DC suburbs looking for a new home and settled in northern Virginia. I really stood out with my Boston accent (dropping my R's), and an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan. I was surrounded by BBQue with cole slaw on top, learned to say soda instead of tonic, had to tolerate Redskins fan, Orioles fans and more recently Nationals fans. Having lived in Virginia now for 26 years, I have come to appreciate and adopt all things southern but still have very strong northern roots.