Vacation in Plymouth, Mass.

Plymouth, MA July 2015So, it just occured to me that I never blogged about our vacation this month in Plymouth, MA! Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I have never been to Plymouth. (We probably did the Freedom Trail at least three times, though!) You’d think that it would be a standard school field trip, but for some reason I never made it there until this month. With a few free days before my husband started his new job, we decided to go on a last-minute trip.  We arrived in Plymouth on Wednesday, and it was quite overcast and still wet from all the rain earlier in the morning. However, that worked to our advantage because it wasn’t crowded at all! It has been ages since I saw the Atlantic, and it is just as gorgeous as ever.  The kids and I walked along the dock while D. got our tickets for Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation. Plymouth, MA July 2015

The Mayflower II is a replica of the boat the pilgrims sailed on from England. The ship was constructed in England and sailed to Massachusetts in the 1950s.

Plymouth, MA July 2015As we walked around and thought about how many people the original Mayflower held, we all were amazed. The ship is not large, and quarters are tight. It definitely gave me a whole new perspective on their journey. I can’t even imagine what those early settlers experienced! Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015

There are plenty of historians on hand who are happy to answer questions. Some are dressed and act as if it were the 1600s and others are just their modern-day selves.

Plymouth, MA July 2015  Plimoth Plantation, as you can imagine, was also fascinating! Again, historians walk (and WORK!) around the site, both in period dress and persona as well as modern. There are two parts to Plimoth Plantation — the English village and Wampanoag Homesite.  Plymouth, MA July 2015

On our first day wandering around, men at the Wampanoag Homesite were making a canoe from a pine tree. They were in the process of burning it out. There were other canoes made on-site that were floating in the water. Quite a difference from our fiberglass Old Town canoe!

Plymouth, MA July 2015I also learned a lot about what foods they grew and how they grew them. The Wampanoag diet was mostly vegetables — squash, corn, Jeruselem artichoke, etc. Their buildings were amazing to look at — all natural materials, not a nail in sight. Plymouth, MA July 2015

The English settlement was also quite fun. Listening to the historians who talk as if it were the 17th Century, you get a really interesting perspective on what they thought of England, of the Native Americans, and of Plymouth in general. We laughed when someone was complaining to us about all the damn trees!

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plimouth Plantation

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015If you have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it! Another stunning part of Plymouth is the waterfront. I don’t consider myself a beach person, really. I definitely gravitate towards lakes and mountains, but I think it’s impossible to look out on the Atlantic and not feel an overwhelming sense of calm and peace.  Plymouth waterfront

Naturally, we saw Plymouth Rock, as well. Most of the things I’d heard about Plymouth Rock, prior to seeing it myself, included comments like “underwhelming.” Well, I didn’t feel that way at all. Is it an enormous boulder? No, of course not! But let’s remember that this was the 1600s, and the settlers were on a small (yes, really) ship made from wood. Also, you need to consider hundreds of years of erosion! Personally, I thought it was moving to look at this stone and think about the journey these English men, women, and children endured. But maybe that’s just because I have an insane amount of home-state pride.

Plymouth, MA July 2015As for the rest of our trip, we got a great deal on a room at the John Carver Inn. What attracted us to the hotel initially is the location and the great pool! Come on – anyone with kids knows that a good hotel pool is key.

Pool at John Carver InnMy wonderful husband surprised me on our first night and had some Cava (a bubbly Spanish wine, similar to champagne) and truffles delivered to the room. So sweet! Cava & Truffles

The other interesting thing about the John Carver Inn, is that it is reportedly haunted. From what I read, most of the activity is on the third floor. However, even though we were on the second floor, I am absolutely convinced that I had my own paranormal experience there. D. thinks I am absolutely crazy, but I know what I felt.  It was the middle of the night and L. was sleeping on a cot positioned in between the two beds. I was sleeping facing her, and she suddenly sat bolt upright, which startled me. She seemed to settle herself and quickly fell back to sleep. I also settled back into bed. It was warm in the room, so I only had a sheet at my feet. Just as I was starting to drift off, I felt someone hike up the leg my pyjama shorts! It was super freaky, and a little aggressive. I whispered to D., but he was completely asleep. He’s convinced that I just got tangled up in the blankets, but… I’m not so sure, LOL! Needless to say, the next night I cranked up the AC and wrapped up every inch of my body while snuggling very close to my husband!

We ate at a lot of great restaurants, including the All-American Diner (which had a great breakfast and reasonable prices) and Sam Diego’s (a Mexican restaurant with amazing specials and huge portions).

Dinner at Sam Diego's

But I think my favorite was the Pillory Pub, right by the water. The served up creative hot dogs and absolutely  delicious clam chowder. We all loved it.

Pillory Pub, Plymouth, MA

Chowdahhhhh! At the Pillory Pub

Lunch at the Pillory Pub

Plus!!! Papa Gino’s has a location in Plymouth! If you’ve never lived in Massachusetts, then you just can’t fathom the deliciousness of a Papa Gino’s pepperoni slice. I’m sure fond childhood memories slant my opinion, but seriously — it’s just cheesy, tomatoey goodness. Just when I thought the trip couldn’t get any better, there we were ordering a large pie, taking our parmesan cheese and oregano to the table, and waiting for our number to be called. Good stuff!

My favorite pizza - Papa Gino's!There are lots and lots of cute little shops and boutiques, too. We didn’t browse too many with the kids, but we enjoyed peering in through the windows.

Sign in Plymouth

Cool stuff in Plymouth

The whole vacation was so relaxing! We had perfect weather and seemed to beat the crowds. When we were leaving, the town was ramping up for the 4th of July and everything was getting busier. It was a great way to spend some family time together before D. started his new job!

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Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip with Wonton Chips

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip

My two favorite treats when we order Chinese food are hot & sour soup and crab rangoons. A couple years ago I created a hot & sour soup recipe that I am quite happy with. (It’s on my old blog — I’ll have to move that post over here!). But crab rangoons always seemed like they’d be fussy (and fried — and I don’t really like to deep fry food in my kitchen). After browsing several recipes for crab dip, I cobbled together a recipe for crab rangoon dip! It is so easy to put together and was a big hit when I brought it to a girls’ night out dinner (my friends are the best recipe testers).

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip

Last night I made it again, just to make sure I had everything right (not because I wanted to lick the bowl or anything, LOL!). My family also raved about it, including my picky son who remarked, “Actually, it’s not bad!” Trust me — that was a compliment. This is a dip that I think will go into frequent rotation around here!

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip with Wonton Chips
An easy, cheesy, yummy dip. Perfect when you have a craving for those delicious crab rangoons from your favorite Chinese restaurant!
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Ingredients
  1. 6-oz. can of crabmeat
  2. 4 oz. softened cream cheese.
  3. 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  4. 1/2 tsp. Worstershire sauce
  5. 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  6. 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  7. 3-4 scallions, chopped
  8. 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  9. won ton wrappers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. TO MAKE THE WONTON CHIPS: Take a stack of wonton wrappers and cut on a diagonal so you have piles of triangles. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5 minutes -- just until the wontons are crispy.
  3. Using a fork or a hand mixer, combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, mayo, Worsterhire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Add the scallions and mozzeralla cheese and stir to incorporate into the mixture.
  4. Transfer dip to a shallow, oven-safe dish and bake uncovered for approx. 20 minutes until the dip is hot and bubbly.
  5. Garnish the dip with additional scallions if desired. Serve with wonton chips for dipping.
Notes
  1. Ovens vary, so be sure to keep an eye on the wonton chips to avoid burning them.
  2. To create an elegant appetizer, line mini muffin tins with the uncooked wontons, then fill with the dip. Bake for approx. 10 minutes or until dip is bubbly and wonton edges are crisp.
  3. No wontons? No problem! Simply substitute tortilla chips.
Pure Sugar http://www.puresugar.net/
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Happy Homemaker Monday

HHM

Well what do you know? It’s Monday. Again. The weekend flew by over here! Sadly, the week is not off to a great start. It’s just one of those days when everything is going badly. I dropped L. off at camp this morning and head out to grocery shop while she was there. Half-way to the store I realized that I forgot my list and my cell phone at home on the kitchen counter. By this time, I’d driven too far for it to make sense to turn back. I wasn’t able to get a few of the produce items I really wanted. Traffic was annoying. I grabbed a quick take-out lunch for us to eat at home to make things a little easier, and then when I was unpacking the bags noticed that they forgot to include part of our order.  And now J. just came in to let me know that a lollipop was melted to the table.

Plus, our a/c still isn’t working. They aren’t sure yet what the problem is, but parts for the first scenario have to be ordered and we don’t have an ETA. 

Ugh! Just ugh. Hopefully it’s just “a case of the Mondays” (to quote Office Space). The rest of this week just has to get better! Anyway, on with Happy Homemaker Monday. As usual, I’m linking up with Sandra.

 
On the weather front:
weather727
Let me just say this: I am a  big freaking baby in this hot weather. I don’t do 90 degrees and I don’t do humidity, and we will be plagued with both this week. Ugh. I’m already cranky and we’re not even in the thick of it!

On my bedside table:
I have a stack of library books, but they are mostly lettering and calligraphy books. Yes, I’m learning calligraphy — focussing on Copperplate, mostly, but also having fun with more casual lettering styles.

 

A photo posted by Carol (@mycrewelworld) on

 

On my TV:
Actually, we’ve mostly been watching bad horror movies, or general “B Movies” at night. Last night we watched ThanksKilling, which was hilarious! I haven’t really found a great new show to watch, so I’m open to suggestions.

On the menu for tonight:
Grilled steak, potatoes, salad, and either green beans or broccoli.

On the menu for this week:
Monday – Steak & Veggies
Tuesday – Potstickers and sauteed cabbage
Wednesday – Cheeseburgers, french fries, salad
Thursday – Deep dish sausage pizza, salad
Friday – Turkey tacos
Saturday – ???
Sunday – ???
 
On my To Do List:
Laundry! Ugh, I’ve let it get out of control. I was doing so well. One load per day, start to finish. I don’t know what happened, but I need to get everything I currently have folded and put away and then get back on track. Also, vacuuming, bill paying, and working on some organizing projects around the house.

 
New Recipe I tried last week:
I don’t think I tried anything new last week, but this week I’m looking forward to making deep dish pizza with sausage, mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes!

In the craft basket:
Stitchation 2014 blanket
“Grubby” candles

Looking forward to:
Seeing my niece at the end of the week! She’s coming up for a few days — “Camp Ciocia” is what I’m calling it, LOL! (“Ciocia” is Polish for “aunt.”) L. is thrilled to pieces to have a sleepover, and I’m hoping we get to pack in a bunch of fun activities.

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Take advantage of awesome grocery store sales and start creating a freezer and pantry stash. It will make meal planning much easier, and if there’s a week when you just can’t get to the store, you will still be able to get by.

Favorite photo from last week:
Saturday night D. hooked up the Wii to the projector and we played large-scale video games outside. It was so much fun!
Backyard MarioKart

Lesson learned the past few days:
Sometimes it’s better to just keep your opinions to yourself. I’ve learned that there are some people who just have to be right all the time, and it’s not worth wasting my time and effort letting them know how I feel because it will never matter.

On my Prayer List:
Family & friends

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)Many years ago, when my husband’s French-Canadian grandmother was still alive, I remember my mother-in-law serving something called cretons at the holidays. Initially, I was put off by this strange pork pate. It was eaten cold, either on crackers or toast, and contained what I (at that time) considered “sweet” spices. I couldn’t wrap my head around how it all worked together.

Flash forward a few years. My husband and our two boys went on a vacation to Quebec while I stayed home with our teeny baby. The hotel served cretons as part of their traditional breakfast and D. fell in love with it all over again. I decided I was going to try making a version.

Over the years I’ve tweaked a bit here and a bit there, and today I’m sharing the version I make. It is authentic? I can’t say — I’ve never tried the real thing! D. assures me, however, that it is pretty darn close. My favorite way to enjoy cretons is spread on top of a buttered, toasted English muffin. Toast will do nicely, too. But you need to have the butter — it just adds a little extra something. So please, just take it from me and try this! I think you’ll agree that it’s a delicious treat.

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)

Cretons

1 lb. ground pork
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

Brown pork in a large pan along with the chopped onions and garlic. Add the salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Transfer pork mixture to a food processor and pulse until the meat reaches an extremely fine consistency.
Return the pork mixture to the pan and add the milk and bread crumbs and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir well to blend everything together. Reduce the heat to LOW, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is very tender and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 30-40 min. Remove the lid and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Transfer to a bowl and smooth the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate until well chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Sweet, Sweet Summer

patio petunias

Well, hello! The summer is just zooming along, isn’t it? Ugh, I’m not enjoying the heat and humidity, though. Last week we had a couple absolutely perfect days — cool mornings, breezy days, just perfection! I want that back!

What’s making things even more unbearable is that our central A/C is not working for some reason. It worked earlier in the summer, so I have no idea what happened! We have someone coming out to look at it this week. Hopefully the fix won’t be too expensive. I swear, it’s more trouble than it’s worth considering we don’t use the central air a whole lot.

Other than that, things are great! D. is easing into his new job, and everyone seems to be adjusting well. Dinners are a little later than they were, and of course we miss him during the day. I’ve been getting back into a schedule, too. The days are so busy, and I love that.

There’s been a good balance of camps and down-time for the kids. N & L participated in a week of our town’s rec camp, which is basically good old fashioned crafts, games, and swimming in the pond. J. just came back from a week at NYSDEC Camp (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation). He was sponsored by a local civic group for the second year, and was thrilled to be able to go back! The kids are participating in the summer reading programs at local libraries, and they love getting their weekly prizes. It’s definitely been fun!

I’ve decided to pick up last summer’s afghan and try to finally finish it. I won’t make it in time to submit to the County Fair this year, but… there’s always next year, right? I’d rather do it right than rush through and have mistakes that drive me crazy. So I’ll be keeping you updated on my progress there.

Well, it’s time for me to get things organized for dinner! If you’re still looking for something to read, head over to my friend Sandra’s blog and read her post about blogging for yourself, and not getting sucked into the competition that it seems blogs have become. I could not agree more! I started this new blog because I felt my old blog (where I’d been writing for 14 years) had become something that just wasn’t me. I was trying to keep up, trying to monetize, trying to write like someone that, quite honestly, I’m just not. Does it mean that I won’t post the occasional review here? Of course not! But I’m staying true to myself this time — and that’s the difference.