Keeping A Brave Heart


Three years ago, we rolled up our sleeves and jumped head first into a mess of a house.  As a way to cope, I created this blog and have lurve-lurve-lurved all the connections and possibilities it has opened.

Now it is time to roll my sleeves up again and try-try-try to get my new site which I am calling “Keeping Up with Mrs. Smith” up and running.

A new site??

Yes.  A new site with the capacity for even more possibilities!

Mrssmithideas2

But like most things in life, this transition has been…tricky.

A lot has gone wrong.

Stuff hasn’t worked.

Cursing and screaming have ensued.

For 7 months I have tried and failed and tried and failed again to get this new site up.

But I guess 7 months is not long compared to the 3 years [and more to come!] of blood, sweat, tears, penny-pinching and overall suffering we have already put into home ownership!

In short, this house has made me fighter and has given me a brave heart to push for more, more, more.

braveface

(Be honest: Do I look like William Wallace…or more like a creature from Avatar?)

Push, push, push is all I have been doing ever since I got laid off at work at the beginning of July.  The day my position was terminated, I packed up my stuff, turned in my keys, went grocery shopping and later shampooed a rug.

It is a bit scary being unemployed, but the way I see it, I am getting paid in time instead of money.  I’ve felt so pressed for time this past year that I don’t want to waste one minute of this season in my life!

So furniture is getting painted, walls are being decorated and tomatoes are getting canned (kinda like me–haha, jk).

All I have left is to see this website through….

So with that said, I will not be posting on here for a week or maybe two while I figure it all out for hopefully the last time.  The next time we talk I will (FINGERS CROSSED) be inviting you to keep up with me at my new corner of the Internet.

Thank you all so MUCH for reading my tales.  I have enjoyed being the Clyde Woman, and I still am a Clyde Woman, but now I can be more than just a Clyde Woman.

Does that make any sense?

You all have been amazing and I am so blessed that you take the time to read and comment on my words.  (To a blogger, that is like getting a massage and a back scratch AND a pedicure all at the same time!!) 

I cannot wait to see you on the other side where there will be even more recipes, projects and cat stories to share.

I hope…

A Clyde Woman in Vegas


I’ve never liked Las Vegas, and I despise road trips.

So feel free to laugh when I tell you that I just got back from a 2,130-mile round-trip drive to Sin City.

Las Vegas has never been on my list of places to visit.  In fact, I’d rather go to a rodeo than go to Vegas.

Wait.

I take that back.

I really hate rodeos.

Anyway, deserts and gambling and overall mayhem have never been my cup of tea.  So when my friend Colleen asked me to accompany her to a Lambeth cake conference at a Vegas resort, I really had to think hard about it.  In the end, it was Dave who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and go.

And though I never tried a slot machine or even visited the Strip for that matter, this trip opened my eyes to just how BIG the world is and just how small I am in it.

grandcanyonlight

I mean, who wouldn’t feel small staring into the Grand Canyon??

It knocks the wind right out of you.

It hushes you to silence.

Look at those storm clouds passing through the canyon.  Unbelievable!!  I asked a man to take my picture and, unbeknownst to me, he snapped an extra one of my shocked face.

grandcanyonawe

I know.  I look like a possum in this picture.

But standing in the presence of such majesty makes your face do weird things.  I literally could have stood there all day with my mouth hanging open.

grandcanyonhand

The canyon was so massive my eyes could not fathom its depths.  It was like staring into one of those 3-D posters but never finding the hidden image.

In attempt to gain more perspective, I reached out to grab what little understanding I could.  If only I could have brought a handful back with me.

The next big thing Colleen and I encountered was Hoover Dam.

Hooverdam

Damn.

Throngs of people from all over the world were milling around in 110-degree heat just to see this contraption that controls water flow.  And even though it was a looooong and deadly way down, that water sure did look tempting!

Once we got to the resort, it was time to feel small again.

greenvalleyresort

The place was luxurious and intimidating to this country bumpkin, and I’m glad we never made it to the strip.  After all the miles we had driven, all that we had seen and all our resort had to offer, I think seeing more would have overwhelmed me.

greenvalleycabans

Wait.

I was already overwhelmed.

But you know what I mean.

greenvalleygrapes

I was elated to find grapes on the vines of the resort’s vineyard.  Fresh, free fruit ready for the picking?  Now THIS was something my little brain could absorb.

Sticking with the familiar, I spent the next couple days picking and eating a lot of grapes and swimming laps in the smallest of the resort’s three pools.

greenvalleypool

(Note to self: Install a lap pool.)

Finally, it was time to go home, and I was more than ready to get back to my life of cats and canning jam and painting furniture.

A couple hours into the drive, however, my eyes were opened wide again as we passed a fatal accident.  I stared the crumpled mass that was once a pick-up truck praying that no one was still in there.

But there was.

I gasped and cried out at the horrifying sight of the trapped and mangled driver, hoping he was still alive and at the same time…hoping he wasn’t.

In a weird way, I felt like I was at the Grand Canyon again staring out into something so big that my brain simply couldn’t fathom it.  Somehow, man can build miles and miles of roads, hike deep canyons, build massive damns and cities…and, in an instant, be tossed about and crushed so quickly, so easily.  My brain was in knots trying to make sense of it all.

Needless to say, arriving home safely the next day felt more like a privilege than an expected outcome, and I hugged my husband and my cats all the more tightly for it.

Gosh.  How to finish this entry?

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go and see all the things I saw–even though they were too big for me to comprehend.  If anything, those experiences have made me appreciate even more the little life we enjoy here in Clyde, America.

Fried Green Tomatoes Revisited


Sometimes I don’t get things right the first time…

Last summer, I shared a recipe for fried green tomatoes with you, but the step-by-step photos did not do the dish justice.  Fortunately, I don’t mind trying a recipe again–especially if it means I get to eat it again!  And since the garden is exploding with big green tomatoes, what better time to offer a lighter, brighter, more vivid version of this crispy treat? 🙂

Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes

friedtomatoplated

I’ve ordered fried green tomatoes a couple times at, believe it or not, more upscale restaurants, and though they were delightfully crispy, they were a bit on the bland side.

ENTER: SEASONING.

Garlic powder and a final sprinkling of kosher salt is all you need for a flavorful batch of fried green tomatoes.

(But a little dollop of dilly dipping sauce couldn’t hurt, either.)

Preparation

greentomatoslice

Wash and core 4 large green tomatoes.  Slice 1/2″ thick.

Next, set up your coating station:

friedtomatocoat

In one shallow dish, add 3/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and mix thoroughly.

In another shallow dish, beat 2 large eggs with 2 Tablespoons half and half or milk.

In the third shallow dish, add 2 cups [to start] of Panko breadcrumbs.  (You can find these in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.)

Assembly

Dip a slice of tomato in flour.  Make sure both sides are coated well.  Shake off excess flour.

friedtomatoflour

Next, dip tomato in egg mixture, covering well.  Shake off excess egg.

friedtomatoegg

Finally, drop tomato in breadcrumbs and cover well.  I even like to lightly press the crumbs into place.  Shake excess crumbs off.

friedtomatopanko

One tomato down, plenty more to go.

friedtomatocoated

Cooking

Fill a cast iron skillet with an inch of canola oil and place over medium-high heat until hot.

COOKS NOTE: I like to get at least halfway through coating my stack of tomato slices before heating the oil.  I tend to rush less this way.  Hot oil makey me nervous.

Carefully place 4-5 tomato slices into the hot oil using tongs.

Fry on one side until golden, about 4 minutes.  Carefully flip and fry the other side for another 4 minutes.

frytomatoes

Remove and place on a thick sheet of paper towels to drain and sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.

Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

friedtomatodrain

Mmmmm.

Who cares about plates or guests?

Go ahead and eat one now.  No one will know.

friedtomato

These are even more tasty with dipping sauce.  Here is how I make mine.

friedtomatoplated2

Dilly Dipping Sauce

*1 cup olive oil mayonnaise (or 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt)

*1 small clove of garlic, finely grated

*2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh dill

*1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

*1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular will do, too)

*salt and pepper to taste
Whisk mayo, garlic, lemon juice, dill and paprika until smooth.  Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to start.  Add more to taste if desired.
******************************

Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely (with a few tweaks)

Ingredients:

*1 inch canola oil

*3/4 cup flour

*1 Tablespoon garlic powder

*1 teaspoon salt

*1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

*1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

*1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*2 large eggs beaten

*2 Tablespoon milk or half and half

*3-4 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Core and slice tomatoes 1/2″ thick.

Mix flour though cayenne pepper in a shallow dish.  Set aside.In another shallow dish, beat the eggs and milk until smooth.  Set aside.  In a final shallow dish, add 3 cups of Panko.

To coat, dip tomato slices in flour mixture, then egg, then Panko.  Set on a plate and finish the rest.

Heat 1″ canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry tomatoes at least 4 minutes on each side or until golden.  Drain on paper towels.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Brody and the Grasshopper


As much as I love my cat children, they are terrible hunters.  For instance, two months ago, Brody caught a mouse (hurray!) and then carried it upstairs where we were sleeping (what are you doing?!).

The rest of the story involves 20 minutes of us chasing the mouse through the house with a broom.  Whenever we would spot the mouse, we would shout for Brody or Baby Girl to come get it.  (In other words, the humans hunted the mouse.)  Sure, the cats would run right over and search frantically…but to no avail.

In the end, the mouse crept away while all four of us searched for him under the couch.

Fast forward to this week.

I let Brody outside and, while lounging on the deck, he spotted a grasshopper on the side of the house.  He carefully studied the insect’s movements and when the moment presented itself, he pounced!

brodygrasshopper4

Ho ho, way to go, old boy!  Now, finish that tomato-killer off!

Wait,

…what are you doing?

After carrying the grasshopper around in his mouth, he finally dropped it on the rug (which I happened to be in the middle of painting) where he and his prey engaged in a staring session.

=

Not wanting to let the grasshopper off so easy, Brody approached him again, ready to begin another round of torture.

That is until…

brodygrasshopper3

While Brody considered the bird, our pal Grasshopper took this moment to hop away.

brodygrasshopper2

In a last ditch effort, Brody lunged at the grasshopper who then flew right at me resulting in a lot of screaming and flailing on my part.

By the end of the tussle, this was all my cat had to show for:

grasshopperleg

What would you call this?  A femur?  A drumstick?  (BTW, notice the toothmark on its side?)

Whatever it is, I’d say a punctured grasshopper thigh is the best that we can expect from our perhaps-talented-in-other-ways felines.