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15 Weeks

Ignore the fact that I completely skipped weeks 13 and 14! Things have been so busy around here with work, Christmas shopping and life. But I finally got it together and had Landon take my 15 week pictures yesterday morning. I'm still not super pregnant-y looking, but my bump is definitely bigger than in my 12 week pictures!
How far along? 15 weeks and 4 days
Total weight gain:  1-2 pounds, depending on when I weigh myself. I've really been eating whatever I want when I want, but between my random cravings and the cold that I've kept the last few weeks, I haven't actually wanted too much to eat. The appetite is slooowly returning, and I'm glad not to feel so nauseated all the time!
Maternity clothes: I can't button my regular pants anymore! I only have one pair of maternity jeans so far (they've been in heavy rotation), and I've been trying to utilize anything jersey, stretchy or loose. Those items are becoming increasingly snug, though. I got a BeMaternity belly band at Target last night, and I got to wear my regular jeans (above) again today (my sister is a smart one for suggesting that purchase). Hello, old friends--I missed you!
Sleep: I'm getting better at not napping all the time. There are some days after school that I come home and rest for an hour or two, and then there are other days when I won't feel sleepy until I get ready for bed at 10 PM. I still fall asleep instantly, and I'm still having wacky, vivid dreams; during nap time on Thursday, I was so worried about my housing arrangements at Clemson because I'd forgotten to tell Housing that I still wanted to be an RA! Weird. 
Best moment this week: Going through potential baby registry items online with Landon. I'm ready to start buying some loot for this baby! I also love how excited Landon's getting. Our friends just had a new baby girl this week (hello, baby Anna!), and I think he's really starting to realize how awesome this is all going to be next summer. 
Miss anything? I could drink a gallon of sweet tea right now. I also miss being able to sleep through the night without having to get up and pee like an ancient person. 
Movement:  Still nothing. I'm on high alert, though--it's got to happen in the next few weeks, right?
Food cravings:  My salty/ savory cravings remain strong. Lately, I'm loving Sun Chips and Baked Lays and onion dip.
Anything making you queasy or sick?  I'm working through my aversion to sweets. I found myself going after some of those Danish butter cookies that come in the blue tin. Yummy! 
Gender:  Landon and my sister think girl. I'm still on the fence, but if I had to go one way or the other right now, I'd also say girl. But all I'm really after here is a healthy, happy baby come June 10th--boy or girl makes little difference to me. 
Labor signs:  Nope. 

Symptoms: Belly band usage, moderate acne (hello, 10th grade), sleepiness.
Belly button in or out?  In. My stomach really doesn't look any different, other than it's poofier.
Wedding rings on or off?  On. 
Happy or moody most of the time:  Still happy. But I think that's mostly my personality: I'm just a happy person.
Looking forward to: Opening all of Tadpole's presents next week. My family has gone all out for Christmas this year!

So, 13 Weeks Came and Went...

I'm already a terrible parent. I had every intention of taking my pictures weekly from here on out, but then last week got in the way.

For the first part of the week, we had our ancient air handler replaced. The thing was a behemoth from the dark ages (or, 1987...pretty much the same thing when it comes to appliances). It had mold and nasty junk on it, so Tadpole and I decamped to my parents' house, lest I breathe in any of the grossness. My parents had busy weeks last week, too, so more often than not, no one was home during daylight hours to take my picture.

Then, Landon went hunting the later part of the week, so I continued to stay with my parents. I'll freely admit it: I'm a weeny when it comes to staying by myself. I'm totally convinced the Mothman or some ghosts are going to come get me at night. Still no picture.

I was SO busy this weekend working on my Christmas shopping that the picture didn't even cross my mind until Tuesday, by which time I had entered my 14th week.

Luckily though, I haven't changed much at all. I'm still rocking the super tiny baby bump, which you'll see in my 14 week pictures (hopefully, coming in a day or two!!).

Mountain Weekend 2012

During the lost months of 2012 (also known as "the time when I was too tired to do much of anything productive"), I went to the mountains with my parents, sister and Landon. We've made the trip for the last three years, and it's become something to which we all look forward. I figured that, even though I'm two months late, the trip's still worth sharing.

A peek at one of our past trips (2010--I never uploaded the ones from 2011)

The first year we rented a cabin near Saluda, North Carolina, but it was deemed too "rustic" by my dad, and it also wasn't big enough for all of us to relax. Last year, we rented a different cabin that was halfway between Saluda and Hendersonville. It was more than a little off the beaten path, but it was spacious and the view was absolutely stunning. Can you guess which one we returned to this year? 

The week we went, October 15-19, was the first week that morning sickness really hit me. Woe was me on some of those winding mountain roads, as I clung to the armrest and prayed that I wouldn't barf all over my dad's new interior. 

Still, I was a trooper, and my perseverance was worth it, since we had a great time. You can tell I wasn't feeling top notch, though, by the general lack of pictures. 

One day, we went into Hendersonville, North Carolina to shop and have a snack. 
Downtown Hendersonville. I love the sidewalk cafes!

We stopped for a snack at McFarlan's Bakery. The no-sweets aversion that I'm currently experiencing hadn't hit full swing yet, so I happily indulged in a chocolate cookie!
Amber and her black and white cookie
Landon attempts to eat the world's largest cream puff. It was deemed impossible to eat without getting cream on your nose!

On another of our outings, we went to the SkyTop Orchard, where we picked out all sorts of yummy apples. If you've never tried a Pink Lady apple, your life is incomplete. Locate one immediately, and thank me later. 

The house we rented is on the very top of a mountain. While this location makes for some interesting (ahem) driving to get to (read: a near vertical driveway that makes you feel like you're on a roller coaster...only without any restraints, and no promise to get you to the station safely), the views are gorgeous. On a clear day, you can see all the way to South Carolina!

Then, on the worst day of morning sickness, we visited Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. I was absolutely NOT feeling the hike up to the top of the mountain, but my dad and Landon walked with me  every step of the way. It took twice as long as my mom and sister, but I made it!

I'm hoping that we'll get to go next year, too. It might be Tadpole's first road trip!

What I'm Craving: Pregnancy Edition

As a first time mama-to-be, I've had all the usual ailments: being tired, feeling chubby, weird dreams.

But the worst part so far has been the alternating nausea and the intense cravings.

I've always preferred salty foods over sweet ones. Give me a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos over a brownie any day.

Now that I'm pregnant, that salty food love has taken on new proportions. Since I found out I was expecting, I've eaten zero cookies, one piece of pound cake, and not a spoonful of ice cream. I even skipped over all of the Halloween candy this go round (and I LOVE some Snickers!).

Instead, I've dived head first into all of the salty, warm, comforty food that I could find.

Keep your Rice Krispies, Almond Joys and cupcakes. (for now at least)

And pile on the macaroni and cheese, Saltines, pizza and mashed potatoes. My mom is convinced that Tadpole baby will be born part-carbohydrate. I even went on a Chik-fil-A bender two weeks ago where all i wanted to eat was a Chicken Caesar Cool Wrap with extra Caesar dressing.

But when I don't want to eat anything, just getting something down is an accomplishment, right?!!?

I started feeling a little better last week, in time for Thanksgiving. Thank heavens for small miracles! I thought my nausea was gone.

But then it returned with a vengeance last Sunday night (a week ago). And I puked for the first time. It was awful. I felt queasy all day on Monday, noncommittal towards food on Tuesday, and was back to almost normal by last Wednesday.

Here's to hoping the morning (and afternoon and nighttime) sickness is gone for good!

12 Weeks

I had my first maternity photo shoot last night (i.e. Landon nicely acquiesced to my result during his late lunch break and snapped a few pics in our backyard). I don't know why, but these made me feel so weird.

Maybe it's because I look pudgy in them. Though, as Landon keeps reminding me, it's not pudge--it's Tadpole!

Maybe because the pregnancy is starting to feel real now that I'm beginning to show. I mean, I guess I could have had a really long bout of the stomach flu this whole time, right?!

Either way, I'm excited to finally be at this stage in my pregnancy...even if it means feeling totally awkward during my weekly pictures. I've still got many, many weeks left to perfect them, though.

No, I didn't eat too many pieces of pizza. That's the world's scrawniest baby bump!
Isn't the shirt adorable? My co-worker Brittany made it for me as my birthday present. About a week before my birthday, I'd admired a shirt just like that on Pinterest, but hadn't mentioned it to Brittany. A week later, guess what shows up in my birthday bag? Great minds must think alike!

And then Landon got super fancy and artsy and wanted me to stand on the tree next to the marsh. 

And now, to steal an idea from Becky over at Welcome to the Good Life

A weekly Q and A!
How far along? 12 weeks and 4 days
Total weight gain:  0-1 pound, depending on when I weigh myself. My mom and sister are betting on how much I will gain, which makes me wonder what they think of my eating habits!
Maternity clothes: Most of my regular sized pants are super snug and uncomfortable. I can wear my stretchy jeggings (like in the pics above) with no problem, as well as anything with a jersey waistband. I did buy a pair of maternity jeans that I've worn twice--they are a little big right now, but they are so comfortable! My mom and I went shopping for several tops this past weekend, but I haven't worn any of our purchases yet. 
Sleep: I could sleep all the time right now. I'm totally in bed by 9:20 every night or I am a grumpy, grumpy person the next day. 
Best moment this week: Telling my students at school. They were so excited! One of the little girls kept saying, "Ms. Natalie is going to get a baby!" like I would pick it out at Walmart when it was time. After I explained that I already had the baby, but it was getting stronger inside me, she kept patting my stomach and calling me "Ms. Mommy Vereen-Davis" the rest of the day. I was so happy that they were happy for me!
Miss anything? Sweet tea, Diet Cokes and caramel Frappachinos. Yum yum yum. 
Movement:  Nothing yet. I'm really excited to finally feel the baby!
Food cravings:  Anything salty or savory. I've particularly been in love with Chik-fil-A's Chicken Caesar Cool Wraps. I could eat them three times a day. Pizza, pasta, and anything buffalo chicken has also been a big draw lately. 
Anything making you queasy or sick?  I'm hopefully over most of the queasiness, but I still don't like looking at or smelling raw meat. I still have a complete and utter aversion to all things sweet, though. 
Gender:  No clue. We're finding out at the end of January!
Labor signs:   Thank heavens, no.
Symptoms: Sleepiness, random bouts of crying, food cravings. 
Belly button in or out?  Still looks exactly the same--in!
Wedding rings on or off?  On. I told Landon he was going to have to buy me a sparkly replacement when that time comes. I'm not holding my breath.
Happy or moody most of the time:  Mostly happy. My students haven't even gotten to me yet, which I definitely would have thought would have happened by now. 
Looking forward to: Finally having a real baby bump, rather than the pizza/ beer gut it looks like I'm currently rocking.

The Day My Life Changed

September 29, 2012.

One of the best days of my life so far.

The day I found out I was pregnant.

I'd suspected something for days at that point. I'd just felt weird and not myself.

Landon and I spent the day with my parents. I went out with my mom and sister to do some shopping but got tired and wanted to go home after just a little while.

I ate piles and piles of barbecue from this place down the street from my mom and dad's house. I love barbecue (especially from this place), but two one pound sandwiches in one day is a new record. Other than the barbecue, I didn't want to eat anything.

And I was thirsty. Like, stranded-in-the-Sahara-without-a-canteen thirsty.

After the Clemson game was over that night, I was exhausted, despite having slept through most of the first half. I mentioned to Landon how odd I was feeling, and he immediately wanted to go buy a pregnancy test.

I kept telling him it was too early, and that we needed to wait a few more days. But he insisted. We'd driven separate cars over to my parents' house, so he stopped by the pharmacy and picked up a pack of three.

Those two minutes waiting for that second blue line to show up were excruciating. And then, all of a sudden, there was a very faint, but still blue line. Definitely positive. But to be sure, I used the other two tests!

We were pregnant!

I kept telling Landon, "I knew it! I told you!" while he bounced around the upstairs of the house, pulling out the few baby items we'd collected up to that point.

I'd wanted to surprise him in one of those super cute ways you always read about, but when it came down to it, the way we found out--together--was completely us. We're pretty much attached at the hip anyway, so I can't imagine not finding out, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in our tiny bathroom, both of us squinting at a stick.

Diagnosis: Tadpole, Or Why I Need to Make More Room on My Bookshelves

Tadpoles, doctors and books don't have much in common. At first glance. But let me explain:

Lately, I've been tired.

Not just "I've had a long day at work and need to relax" tired, but "I am going to pass out on the couch like an old person at 5:30." Back in my sophomore year of college, I had mono and had to withdraw from school for eight weeks. My recent tiredness made me fearful that I had mono again, which is impossible because (like chicken pox) mono is a one-time deal. (Thank heavens.)

I've also been weepy. I bawled at the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. You know, where Dobby dies. Normally, I'm a sucker for sad movies and can often be found shedding a tear at Hallmark ads and Disney World commercials, but this week, I was crying as if Dobby was my long lost twin or something. "Sobbing uncontrollably" is probably a better description.

That sounds pretty awful, you might say. Poor Natalie! 

But oh, it gets worse. Much worse.

Everyday as I sit in my little classroom, working with my elementary age students, I start to feel a little odd. My delicious snack of pretzels and apples begins to look about as appetizing as a pile of sand. Drinking cold water helps a tiny bit, but not enough to make me feel all better. My stomach feels as if I'm on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic during a hurricane. Blech. I LOVE eating. I love trying new foods. And now, I am miserable at the thought of a snack or my next meal. Food has become something to bargain with rather than enjoy.

And the worst part of all?

I haven't wanted to read AT ALL. Extremely odd of me, who went two extra years to get an advanced degree in Literature and who has devoted my life to teaching Literature to others.

Code Red, everyone! Something serious is going on here!!

But what?

And that brings me to the reason why I need to make more room on my precious bookshelves.

We're going to play that old favorite of mine from Sesame Street: "One of These Things is Not Like the Other Ones." What's different on the above bookshelf?

Okay, time's up!

Anyone spot the awesome book "Little Hoot" on the very right? While it's an awesome book, it wasn't bought for Landon or myself. Instead, it's for the newest (future) reader in my life:


Tadpole, which we're expecting in June 2013, has been the basis of all my recent woes. But I am so willing to work through those problems as the thought of being able to read to my little one come next summer.

I hope that helps a little to explain where I've been this whole time. Landon and I are so excited to share this with everyone!

*Please note: our baby's name will NOT be Tadpole Davis...it's just what we're calling the baby until we figure out what we're having in January. We're unique, not crazy!

And It's Been Another Month Since I Posted...

I feel as sorry as this little puppy looks.

I've been on blog break for a while now. I never sat down and consciously thought, "Oh, I need to get away from blogging for a bit." It just happened. One day life picked up speed and I figured I would get back to this little blog when I could.

But then another day passed.

And another.

Until here I am, almost two months since the last time I posted.

I'm glad I had a little break. It was needed, regardless of whether I planned for it or not.

But boy, oh boy, do I have some things to share with all of you.

TOO MUCH has happened since I stopped blogging, and I am just dying to get my fingers on the keyboard and pound out those posts that have been rolling around in my head all this time.

So, tune in tomorrow for the first of (what I hope is) many new posts. There are some exciting things happening around The Adventures of the Vereen-Davises!!

Meetin' o' the Scots 2012

Last year, Landon and I went to Scotland (see those posts: Edinburgh, Rosslyn, Melrose, Trossachs, Stirling, St. Andrews, plus three days in London (1) (2) (3)) and fell in love with it. To say that I am (and have been) in love with the United Kingdom is a bit of an understatement. While I know I can't go to Scotland every year--sadness--I can go to the Scottish Games held here in Charleston each September. 

I'm Ulster Scots through my mom's dad's side--we come from the Clan Buchanan near Loch Lomond. I was lucky enough to visit the area when we were in Scotland, and I wonder why my ancestors ever left it!

I looooove our tartan!
I'd gone to the Games two years ago for the first time, and it was a great way to get excited about our Scotland 2011 trip. It might not be Scotland exactly, but it does give a fun flavor and taste of the Scottish culture without a seven-hour flight and ten days off of work. 

I went with my parents and sister this past weekend: Landon had to work, unfortunately. My dad and I went on a tasting spree, sampling mincemeat pies, sausage rolls and meat pies. All of them got a thumbs up. My mom and sister, who aren't quite as adventurous, went with a traditional fish and chips platter. 

The Celtic Kitchen, where we could get scones, mincemeat pies and all kinds of shortbread.

My favorite part of the Scottish Games is the Opening Ceremony, where a massed band of bagpipes and drums processes around the upper and lower fields.
It's almost time!
Daddy, Mama and Amber wait for the Opening Ceremony. 
The Opening Ceremony was slightly delayed due to the Hammer throw going over its time slot.
Seriously, it's time to start! Charleston in September is NOT like Scotland in September--it's way warmer!
And they're off.
 A video I took of the massed band:

Amber and I found the Heelan' Hound, a tent that sold items for "the discriminating hound." Apparently, that describes Amber's dog, Scrappy, who got a cute Royal Stewart tartan bandanna.
the Heelan' Hound tent
After we got a slushie (not a Scottish drink), we watched some of the Highland Games. Below, the competitor is trying to pick up and then throw a 20 foot, 120 pound wooden pole (called a caber) end-over-end. Piece of cake (or perhaps more appropriately, shortbread)? No way.

I bought a tam to match my Royal Stewart tartan kilt. Guess what I'm going to be for Halloween? :)

Can't wait for Scottish Games 2013!

Just Call Me Ian McEwan....Or, Not

Don't forget to enter my blog anniversary giveaway to win a $25 Starbucks gift card here (ends 8/1)!!

I've been trying to write this post for a while now. But for some reason, every time I sit down to write it, I get all nervous but giddy, like I'm back in the ninth grade trying to talk to the cute boy in my science class.

Hopefully, what I'm working on now will last a little longer than that crush. But if it doesn't, I'll be happy I did it.

My name's Natalie, and I'm writing a novel.

So, there it is. I don't know why I'm so embarrassed about it.

I lie--I do know why. I'm scared that what I'm writing is complete and utter junk. I am really, really hard on other people's writing (thanks, English grad school), and I know that what I'm writing is nowhere near as awesome as my favorite authors. I am a literary critic and professor by training, not a writer. However, I would like to point out that I was the second place winner of the 2003 Post and Courier "Wild Tales for Cool Kids" writing contest. I'm guaranteed to write a bestseller with those credentials.

Plus, I have this idea that established authors are (generally) awesome, but beginning writers are kind of dorky. How many people do we all know who are writing a novel, and you think, "You're writing a novel? I didn't even know you could address an envelope!" (Though, this may just be me being overly critical....)

Granted, I'm not completely done with the actual writing, and I haven't even begun to think about the editing, but that doesn't stop me from blanching at the idea of sending the manuscript out to agents and all of them laughing in my face. I've always been better at dishing out the criticism.

I don't know if I'll actually get this published, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while. I'll feel fulfilled just getting it done.

Anyway, I hope that you'll all send good thoughts and happy inspiration my way. And if, by chance, you'd like to help me whip my novel into shape when I'm finished writing, let me know! You can also keep up with my writing progress by checking out the "That Which Remains" section in my right sidebar.

Homeschool Teacher Q&A

By profession, I'm a teacher. I worked for the three years as an English professor at the college level before turning to a unique homeschool program locally.

A little background on the school/ program:
Instead of my students going to school, school comes to them. The three main students have two core teachers--myself for literature, writing, spelling, grammar and vocabulary, and their math/ science teacher. They also have part-time teachers who work in the late afternoons and weekends for languages (Latin, Hebrew, French and Chinese), history and handwriting. 
I also have another student for a half-hour each day, who learns about the history and culture of various world countries; he's being integrated into the school since he's only in kindergarten. He also takes handwriting, phonics/ reading, math and science throughout the day. 
This will be my second year with the program, and I have come to learn so much about homeschooling and teaching in general. The way that I approached learning/ teaching in college versus how I now must approach learning and teaching with elementary and middle school aged students has taught me SO much about myself and my learning style.

I have read blogs of many of you who homeschool or work with your children one-on-one after school. Homeschooling can sometimes be a lonely venture since you have few (if any) other teachers to reach out to for advice. I thought it might be helpful to post some Q & A's that I often get as the teacher of homeschooled children (i.e. "So, are they really weird?"), as well as a resources list for English/ Language Arts.
I thought this was funny. Of course, not all of these apply since A) I'm not the parent, B) we stay on a super strict schedule--no sleeping in or wearing PJs to class, and C) the motivation behind homeschooling wasn't a religious or social one, but rather done in the interest of the students learning more within the same amount of time.
Please visit the {Homeschooling} tab above. I'll add more information as the school year advances. I also have many, many other resources than the ones list on this page, so feel free to email me (cosmosmariners@gmail.com) if you have any questions.

Tomato Basil Bacon Tart, or, the Natalie Version of Tart Making

Tarts to me have an air of sophistication about them...perhaps because the only times I eat them are at  luncheons or bridal showers.

I don't know why I'm not more inclined to try baking tarts on a day-to-day basis. It could be because they seem like a lot of work. Or, because they're a little intimidating--I mean, you have to make a crust and pre-bake it and all that jazz. I'm also a nervous baker because baking's not like stove-top cooking: I can't just throw a dash of this and a dash of that into the baked dish because that equals major cooking fail most of the time.

Today, I felt brave, so I decided to tackle a recipe I'd found on Pinterest several weeks ago. It's been there, lurking on my recipes page, waiting for me to take up the challenge. Landon was at work, Phoebe Dog was being lazy on the couch and I had some time to kill.

Source: Annie's Eats blog
The original recipe for Tomato Basil Tart was from Annie's Eats blog. It looks all sorts of delicious, but that darned crust seemed super intimidating. I also didn't have a food processor, which the original recipe called for--I, with nothing else to do on a Saturday morning, decided to make do as best as I could with what I had...which turned out to be a spoon, a mixing bowl and some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

The Annie's Eats version called for fresh basil, which I didn't have, so I substituted dried. I also minced the garlic using my handy dandy handheld garlic mincer thingy and mixed the two together. The Annie's Eats version was very big on having tiny pieces of both (thus, why she called for the food processor), and the dried/ minced versions of mine were looking pretty good.

I followed the rest of the directions for the crust pretty well (I did cheat and melt the butter in the microwave before adding it to the flour/spices mix, though--you have to do what you have to do when you've not got a food processor!!). The end result looked pretty good and dough-like:
I was supposed to wrap it up and put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour to chill, but I have better things to do than wait around for dough to do its thing, so I smushed it out on a plate and put it in the freezer for ten minutes while I cleaned up. Bam! Worked like a charm!

I put some Pam into my tart pan (which was, in actuality, half of a set of Oreo cookie cake pans!) and then covered the bottom and part of the sides with my dough. So far, so good.
My tart had an identity crisis as the pan is clearly labeled "cookie."
Then, I was supposed to put wax paper and baking beads (!?!?) on top of the dough. Uh, oops. Instead, I used put a glass pot lid on the top of the baking dish and into the oven it went.
It's a special kind of baking: Natalie baking. 
While the dough was pre-baking, I set about to get my tart filling ingredients together. Instead of just tomatoes as the original called for, I decided to jazz up my tart with a few other things I had lying around. Plus, Landon doesn't like tomatoes that much, so I thought offsetting the tomato flavor with something else would be just the ticket.

Enter: red onions (finely chopped) and bacon (cooked and crumbled).
Just after coming out of the microwave. I used my new microwave baking hanger thingy, which I got from my mother-in-law. It looks funny, but it works GREAT!! Thanks, Nann!

Bacon Chopped-tastic.
All of the ingredients waiting patiently for the tart crust to hurry up and get out of the oven already.
The dough ended up coming out of the oven perfectly, and I don't see the need for baking beads and wax paper. My weirdo cooking style sometimes pays off!

I layered the ingredients into the warm tart crust: mozzerella, bacon, onion and tomato. I followed that with a dose of olive oil, salt, pepper, and more dried basil.
The mozz is locked and loaded.
Time for a quick dip in the oven!
I followed the directions from here on out to a T: I rotated the pan halfway through and dabbed off any extra moisture at the halfway point.

Time to eat. Yum!
The end result: a gorgeous, tasty tart. I'm glad I tweaked the recipe a little, even though the final product was a mixture of the Annie's Eats version and the Onion, Bacon and Spinach tart I tried about two years ago when I first started blogging. Landon's thoughts: two thumbs up!

An owl apron makes cooking better. 

Natalie's Tomato Basil Bacon Tart
Serves 4-6
Dough Ingredients:*
2 TB dried basil
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, cut up into 8-10 pieces and mostly melted (30 sec. on high)
4 TB water

Filling Ingredients:
2 beefy tomatoes, sliced (or a dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella (very important! Don't use grated!)
6-8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1-2 TB olive oil
1-2 tsp. dried basil (1-2 TB fresh basil, minced)
Parmesan cheese, to taste

*If you were feeling really apprehensive about making the dough (or just didn't have the time to deal with all of that) you could buy Pillsbury pie crust dough, roll it out in the pan and then press in the same amount of dried basil and garlic before pre-baking. It won't be as tasty as the original, but it would make do in a pinch.

Mix together basil and garlic in a bowl. Slowly add in flour, stirring until garlic/ basil mix is incorporated fully. Pour melted butter into bowl and mix. Add in water. (You can add in one more TB if dough is not forming). Dough should come together after a little bit of stirring. Put dough on a plate and put into freezer for 10 minutes. After that time, spray tart pan and put dough in, making sure that you spread dough onto sides of tart pan as well.

Bake covered for 10 minutes at 425 F. Remove covering and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Take crust out and reduce heat to 375 F.

Layer mozzarella, bacon, onion and tomato. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, basil and olive oil.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375, turning pan and blotting off extra liquid halfway through. Crust should be slightly brown and cheese should be bubbly. Let tart rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Thoughts and Prayers

I'm usually a pretty upbeat person, and my blog posts generally reflect this fact.

Today, though, I wanted to share a few things that have been weighing on my mind the last week or so.  And I wanted to ask each and everyone of my blog readers to send prayers, good thoughts, good karma, etc. to the two families below.

This past week, Landon received the horrifying news that one of his friends from high school, Jessie, had fallen into a diabetic coma and choked to death. She was 26. She'd been sick in the days leading up to her death, but no one, including Jessie, apparently knew (or even suspected) she had diabetes. Landon was much closer to Jessie, since they grew up together, but I remember her being an incredibly sweet, kind person. Landon has been in shock the last few days--he just can't wrap his head around the fact that Jessie died so suddenly, and I think that's a sentiment that the entire community is struggling with right now. Her friends and family have lost a wonderful person, and I ask you to keep them in your thoughts in the upcoming days as they lay their daughter and friend to rest.
(taken from her Facebook page)
And in an unrelated (but just as shocking) incident, one of the guys I went to high school with got in a horrible car accident on August 3. Nick Collins went to middle and high school with my sister and I; he graduated from Bishop England the year after me and the year before my sister. BE is a small school and everyone knows everyone. Nick's also in a popular local band here in Charleston called "Fowler's Mustache" with a couple of other BE grads. He's the same age as Jessie--26.
(taken from his fundraising page)
Anyway, he was traveling to Mount Pleasant from Daniel Island in the early morning of August 3 when the car went off the road and he was thrown from the back seat (someone else was driving) onto the highway. As passers-by were trying to help him and the people left in the car, Nick was run over by an 18-wheeler...who kept on going without stopping to help.

Nick's still in serious, serious condition at MUSC--he's had to have several surgeries, part of one of his legs has been amputated, and he's still in a medically induced coma. While he's got a long road ahead of him in terms of recuperation and rehabilitation, it is a miracle that he's even alive.

It's been amazing to see the Charleston community rally around him and his family in this difficult time. I ask you to send good thoughts to his family to keep them strong and healing prayers to keep Nick on his road to recovery.
How to help:

  • If you're in the Charleston area, I'd encourage you to donate blood at MUSC in Nick's name or come to the blood drive this Tuesday from 1-7 at the Mount Pleasant Holiday Inn (sign up at redcrossblood.org and use sponsor code NickCollins). 
  • You can also donate money to help his family cover his medical and rehab costs at his gofundme site
  • There are also keep up with the other fundraising efforts at nacwins.com

If nothing else, I hope you hug your friends and family a little longer tonight, and remember why you're thankful for them! 

Edisto Island, Part 2

As promised, here are the rest of the Edisto Island pictures (to see part one, click here). I've been feeling under the weather the last two days, so they didn't get posted when I wanted them to. 

Edisto is incredibly rural in most parts, so there are gorgeous tree-covered dirt roads like this one all over the place (this one is the road to/ from Botany Bay from Highway 174 (which leads to Edisto Beach).
edisto island

At the intersection of Botany Bay Road and Hwy 174, there's this tree that's always decorated for the nearest holiday. It was still decorated for July 4th, even though we were there two weeks after Independence Day.
decorated tree edisto island

The way we organized the eating was pretty nice. Since there were six people there (me, Landon's parents, Landon, two of his three siblings, and Landon's brother-in-law), Nann (Landon's mom) came up with the idea that each adult or couple would have charge of a day for food. Landon and I took the first day we were there--Tuesday--so that we could go ahead and work hard, then spend the rest of the vacation tasting everyone else's delicious recipes. Landon and I cooked:
hashbrown casserole for breakfast
several cold salads for lunch (Suddenly Pasta Salad classic, quinoa salad and broccoli salad)

We also enjoyed chicken (and for those of the group not allergic--shrimp) kabobs, baked chicken parmesan, sausage and red rice, chocolate chip and pecan waffles, and chicken salad sandwiches. Yum!
Nann prepping for dinner one night.

And a few other pictures from all over the trip:
Doing what I do best: reading (on the tablet)!
edisto island piggly wiggly
Going to the store with Sam, Landon's dad
Cruising down the road in the golf cart: Landon was voted out of the driver's seat by his dad and I after Landon almost flipped the cart. Eek.
Landon with his vacation hat and his vacation beard.
edisto island fishing
After hours and hours of casting into the surf, Landon caught a 5-lb sheepshead. He actually cooked it, and I tried a little bit. It tasted a lot like mahi. 

One reason why I didn't eat more: this image. The sheepshead actually has rows of these nasty teeth to help it crush the crabs it eats. I thought the fish looked like it had a pair of tiny dentures in its mouth.
Kicking Landon's butt in tailgate golf!
Landon and Nann--I hate that it turned out blurry, but I just couldn't get enough light in the room!
edisto island church
One of the gorgeous old churches on the road leaving Edisto.
A fun, fun week! I'm excited about Davis Beach Week 2013!