Sunday was my parents’ last full day in San Antonio. They came by our house in the morning and then the four of us drove to Edison High School where our church Redeemer Presbyterian currently meets. My parents have been to Redeemer only once before, so it was great having them come with us and getting to introduce them to our different church friends, especially the women I’ve been getting to know in my great Bible study. After church, we went and had lunch at the Corner Bakery and then came home to split up for part of the afternoon. We left the guys to do some home improvement projects while my mom and I went to get some plants for the front porch and ingredients for a homecooked dinner.
As I’ve mentioned before, Chip and I don’t have a whole lot of home-project experience, but thankfully we are surrounded by people who know a lot more than we do. My dad has taught us a few things, like how to properly sand down our doors so they close better, so we were a bit eager when he said he would show us (i.e., Chip) how to fix some of the cracks we were getting in our living room wall since we clearly had no idea how to address this. My dad bought some basic essentials for this project at Lowe’s earlier in the morning, so they had what they needed to get started. Turns out the crack they decided to go after first was a little more complicated than originally anticipated, so a second trip to Lowe’s was required. More on that later.
While the men were working at home, my mom and I also went to Lowe’s to get some plants for the cute pots we had bought at Home Goods on Friday. Unfortunately, Lowe’s didn’t have a whole lot of flowers in yet, so we decided to check out Arbolitos. One thing I appreciate a lot about Arbolitos is that they focus on plants that are going to do well in San Antonio. I love going to Lowe’s, but there’s really no reason why they should be selling hydrangeas here. They just aren’t met for the San Antonio summers (and yet for some reason I’ve still tried them out twice and failed). We talked to one of the employees at Arbolitos and he helped us pick out several different flowers that were low-maintenance (as in I shouldn’t be able to kill them) and do well in pots. Perfect. We loaded up the car with these plants and some potting soil and then went to our next stop: Trader Joe’s.
My parents do a lot of their grocery shopping at the Trader Joe’s back home, so I was pretty excited that we finally got one in San Antonio this past year. Random side note: Chip is the biggest fan of Trader Joe’s. It’s sometimes dangerous to take him there because he will take forever walking around the store and will always find random items to add to our cart and consequently our grocery bill. Thankfully, my mom and I were going by ourselves and with a list for dinner and did a pretty good job sticking to it. We had chosen a pasta dish from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook followed by a dessert from Pippa’ Middelton’s Celebrate book (we had plans to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey that night, so we felt it was only appropriate to accompany it with a British dessert).
Apparently our wall is pink underneath. Gross.
We came back home to find the guys hard at work and in the process of cutting several holes in the wall to help fix the crack. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know all the details, mainly because I felt it would be better to just walk away and work on the flowers with my mom, but apparently some parts of the wall needed a little extra reinforcement so the guys would be putting small pieces of 1×2’s into the newly cut holes and then putting tons and tons of nails to secure everything. Re-reading that last sentence doesn’t make much sense to me, but it all worked and there is no longer no evidence of the crack (except for the fact that the strip now needs to be painted the same color as the rest of the wall) so I’m going to assume the process was successful. And Chip definitely learned well since he has since then been working on the three other cracks in our living room. Thanks for the lessons, dad!
Dad passing on some of his wisdom
No idea what step this is
My mom and I enjoyed working on the pots and placing them on our front patio. We chose three different kinds of plants in different heights and color. We also got some geraniums to put in the hanging baskets we have in the front, so hopefully these plants will actually survive. I’ve managed to (accidentally) kill the last two plants we’ve tried in these baskets, but hey, third time’s the charm, right? Let’s hope so!
Making the front patio pretty
Close up on the flowers
After working on these different plants, we started cooking. First, we wanted to get our dessert in the oven and ready. We chose to do an apple and blackberry crumble from dear Pippa’s book (recipe posted below). The recipe itself is pretty simple, but be prepared for a bit of prep work, mainly peeling, coring and dicing over 1.5 pounds of apples. Once dessert was in the oven, we started working on dinner, a pasta from Ina Garten (recipe also posted below). Coincidentally, the boys were ready to wrap up their work on the first crack just as dinner was finished cooking. I have a feeling they stopped working as soon as they could smell it cooking! Anyway, dinner was awesome. If you’re looking for a new pasta to try out, definitely give this one a shot. Partnered with some fresh Parmesan cheese, warm bread and a bottle of Grape Creek wine, we had a great dinner.
We later watched the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey while enjoying our apple and blackberry bake with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. One thing on the cobbler: I think next time I’m going to try it out with gala apples instead of granny smith to make the dish a little less tart. But otherwise, it was really great.
Once we got through the shocker of the Downton Abbey episode, we said goodbye to my parents since they would be flying out early Monday morning. We kept busy all weekend, but when we see my parents only a handful of times a year, we always have lots that we want to do together. I am so thankful for the time we got to spend with them and look forward to seeing them again sometime (hopefully) soon!
Wrigley enjoying attention from my mom
Wrigley makes a great pillow
Ina Garten’s “Straw and hay with Gorgonzola”
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 ounces prosciutto, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick matchsticks
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 large)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 ounces Italian Gorgonzola dolce, crumbled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 8 to 10 ounces tagliatelle or fettucine
- 2 cups forzen peas, defrosted (8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Paremsan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
- Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook for 5 minutes, separating the slices with tongs, until crisp. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the onion to the saute pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper and bring the sauces to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened. Turn off the heat.
- When the sauce is almost done, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta, allowing some of the water to remain (note: we chose not to do this part but just drained the pasta normally). Pour the pasta into the pan with the sauce. Add the peas, Parmesan, basil and prosciutto and toss well. If the pasta seems dry (our didn’t), add some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan.
Pippa Middleton’s Apple and Blackberry Crumble:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 pounds of peeled, cored and roughly chopped Granny Smith apples
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (we used regular sugar)
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 8 ounces blackberries
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 2-quart ovenproof dish or 8 individual ramekins.
- Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a large nonstick pan. Add roughly chopped Granny Smith apples with superfine sugar, apple juice and lemon zest and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened.
- Add blackberries and toss together, adding more sugar if necessary, then transfer the mixture to the prepared dish.
- Sift flour into a large bowl and add 5 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter cut into cubes. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in light brough sugar, oats, almonds and cinnamon.
- Spoon the topping over the filling, sprinkle a little more light brown sugar over the top and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.