My Gardening Adventure: Guess What GREW While We've Been Traveling?!

Every time Hubs and I get back from one of our trips, the first thing I do is rush outside to take a peek at our garden.  While we are away I always get someone to water it since rainstorms here are few and far between in the summertime.  When we got home from our Miami trip I was shocked to see how much our little garden had grown!
                                                             I wasn't kidding, was I?!
                                      Everything is blooming and getting ready for picking.
                              I hope these bushes bear blackberries this year...even if it is a few!
                      The beans that got planted along side the garden are really taking off.
 Watermelon seeds were planted a little while after the garden but are doing great.  They are supposed to bear 90 days after planting.
                    Nothing is better on a hot summer day than a slice of cold watermelon.
                                          Can you see that little cucumber hanging there?
                             We planted two varieties of tomatoes; these are the larger ones...
                                              And these are the small cherry type tomatoes.
                                              Look at all the little squash on these plants!
                                               We have plenty of green beans hanging too.

 Truly there is no better food than home grown veggies.  I can't WAIT to harvest some of these for eating but I will also be trying my hand at canning this summer also.  My mother, who is an expert at canning, has agreed to come out and teach me the art of preserving fresh produce.  I'm thinking some pickles out of the cucumbers, roasted red peppers, salsa and marinara for sure!  Oh, and did I mention that my apple tree at the lake house is FULL?  I've decided to also make some apple jelly this summer!  This "gardening adventure" is quite a fun and rewarding one...


Graduating a Dentist and Moving Day

We were only home from Miami a few days when we had to turn around and head to New Orleans for Ryan's graduation from dental school.  I could hardly believe that four years had already passed and my baby boy was about to be a dentist.  It was going to be a very busy weekend, what with ceremonies, dinners and moving he and Allison back to north Louisiana.

We headed out of town in a terrible rainstorm that thankfully ended by the time we got to New Orleans.  In its place unseasonably cool weather had set in.  We arrived day one for Ryan's "Hooding Ceremony", which was held at LSU Dental School.

After dining out that night, we got ready for the next day; GRADUATION DAY!
             David and Beckett met us early the next morning for breakfast before the graduation.

 And Caitlin, who could not be here for the graduation, sent us a photo of Holli wearing her LSU colors in honor of Uncle Ryan's graduation.
It was difficult to believe that this was graduation day...and my baby son was about to be a dentist!  I could still remember all of those days in elementary school where I literally laid my head down on the counter I was so exhausted from helping my kids with their homework.  This was a great accomplishment for him and I was one proud mama!
The graduation was held at The University of New Orleans and included all of professional school graduates from LSU.
                    There's the dental class of 2014, standing, about to receive their diplomas! 
                                                                   Dr. and Mrs. (Yay!)

After graduation, it was on to the celebratory luncheon.  Ryan and Allison had many restaurants on their list to visit before they moved away from New Orleans but one they always wanted to dine at and never had was "Cochon".  And that's where we made our reservation that day...
                                  "Cochon's" specialty, as you might have guessed is pork.
                   While waiting for our table, we got to watch these guys unloading the hogs!

Our table of 12 ordered a wide variety of food; here is a small sampling of some of it...
                                                                      Black Drum
                                                              Rabbit and Dumplings
                                                                      Mac and Cheese

 Although the past two days had been full and fun-packed, we had another big day the next day...moving day.  Ryan and Allison would be moving back to north Louisiana!
Ryan picked up the U-Haul truck at 7 a.m. the next day and we quickly got started loading things up.
I'm not a huge fan of moving...but who is?!  I was, however, happy to see that my "organized" son and daughter-in-law had everything packed neatly in boxes and all the furniture broken down. 
By 9 O'clock, we were on the road!  Wow...maybe there really IS something to being organized; perhaps I should try that sometimes.  Once we arrived back in Alexandria, most of the truck 's content had to be unloaded into a storage building since the couple would be living in the Natchitoches lake house temporarily.  Now THAT (loading the storage building...) was not as easy as loading the moving truck.  I watched as things were strategically placed in there like an intricate puzzle.  Hmmm...I sure hoped they wouldn't need anything in there any time soon.  By the time Hubs and I got home I could hear my couch calling my name.  I collapsed there deciding that I would not get up again until I felt fully rested.  With the graduation and move under our belts, I was one happy mama. Happy that two of my four children had made it back close to where I live.  I like have all my little chickies close by...that's just the way we do it here in the south.  Well, at least here with my BIG, FAT, SOUTHERN FAMILY!


This Girl Fished For Some Peacock Bass!

I'm not much of a fisherman.  Hubs goes all the time but I hardly ever go.  So, a few days before we left for Miami, he came in and told me he had booked a guided trip for us to fish for Peacock Bass while there.  Well, I had no idea what Peacock Bass were but HEY!  I was up for a new adventure.  I found out that Peacock Bass are a fresh water fish that can be found in the Amazon.  However, in 1983, they were brought to the Miami area and placed in the canals.  We did a catch and release trip.

The trip was set for the last day we would be in Miami and I was ready when that day arrived.  We had to get up early to meet our guide and drive to the canals where we would spend the day.

Notice I still had to have cute fishing attire!   I bought the pink fishing shirt and Hubs brought me those polarized sunglasses so I could see the fish under water.

As excited as I was to get out there, I soon remembered why I didn't fish with the hubs.  He is a good fisherman and thus goes at the sport aggressively.  I, on the other hand, didn't even know how to throw a jig or pretty much anything (ugh).  This was quite frustrating for me; frustrating enough that I began to get a little aggravated because he kept catching fish and I didn't!  That's when the guide and he decided to back off and not fish but merely cheer me on to catch a fish of my own.  Their bodies moved along with mine as I swayed and threw my jig out.  Disappointed along with me after each "almost catch", I could tell this was a huge sacrifice; allowing me to snag one without interference.  After about 3 1/2 hours I hooked the first one!  At that point, I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief and the hubs and I both continued to fish for the rest of the day.
I really didn't want to take this picture because...well, because I didn't catch it!  I wanted to get a picture with one I caught (already sounding like a "real" fisherman, I know...)
                            MUCH happier here, after I FINALLY caught my own fish!
Notice how beautifully colored these fish are.  Although you can actually see the fish under the clear water in the canals and watch them go for your hook, their beautiful colors cannot be seen until they are pulled out of the water.
See how close Hubs in standing to the edge of the boat?  Well, these fish put up quite a fight when reeling them in and as I was doing just that with one of them, I sort of bumped hubs at the same time the guide adjusted his trolling motor and...well, you know what happened next.  Yep...he fell in!  The guide looked a little concerned but I was still struggling to get my fish in and said, "Don't worry about him, he can swim.  Just don't let me lose my fish!"  (Now, I was truly becoming a fisherman!  He-He!)

Now, this fishing trip was exciting because...well, because we had a guide who showed us where the fish were and we were catching them!  But there ARE a few things I have learned about fishing trips in general that I think I really ought to share with those non-fishermen who are going with the more experienced ones:

1.  When they hand you a big cup of coffee and tell you there will probably be a bathroom you can
     use before getting into the boat it is most likely not true.  And if your fishing companion is a man,
     he will never remember this; it is of no consequence to him.  Oh, not because he doesn't care about
     you.  He just doesn't even remember the conversation since all men apparently have bladders the
     size of the ocean.  Throw the coffee out!
2.  Be responsible for your own food.  People, this is the one time it is truly OK to be selfish.  "Real"
     fishermen do not think of or apparently need food during a fishing trip. One protein bar eaten at
     7 a.m. is long gone by 3, 4 or 5 O'clock!  Bring your own food.
3.  Bring plenty of sunscreen and water.  If you fish all day, relish the shade trees because those little
      fishlike the sun more than the shade and you will be begging for shade as the day wears on.  As   
     much fun as I was having, several times I found myself not only reapplying sunscreen, but also
    taking the bottled water and pouring it over my body.  The two men in the boat, who, by the way,
    never quit making a cast, asked why I had to take a break.  Hmmm...let's see, starving to death
    AND scorching my skin at the same time; I was becoming a bit weary by 2:30.

I was given a compliment by my fisherman husband, though.  He told the guide before the trip he didn't know how long I would make it that day and I had gone much longer than he had expected (Yay me!).  I really could have gone longer if we had just two things:  1.   Made a bathroom stop.  I'm not sure where that would have been but women with bladders the size of peas cannot compete with men who have bladders the size of the ocean; that's a fact.  And 2.  If I had food.  Listen, just a little food would have fortified me to continue on for a good while longer, but once the hunger AND the bladder start talking to ya, it's pretty much done.  And so at 3 O'clock we called it quits for the day and I began dreaming of a hot shower and...Mexican food!  Hey, that's what happens when one gets so hungry all they can think of is food and believe me, I had been thinking about it for a while!  The guide dropped us off at our hotel and we did just that; got showers and walked back down a couple of blocks to Esplanade Street to have our last dinner in Miami for this trip!
                                     Wonderful anniversary trip...Even more wonderful life!