Just a Dog… Help PEDIGREE donate food!





JUST A DOG by Richard Biby


From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,”
or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.”

They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the
costs involved for “just a dog.”


Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.”

Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,”
but I did not once feel slighted.


Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,”
and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave
me comfort and reason to overcome the day.


If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand
phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”


“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust,
and pure unbridled joy.


“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a
better person.


Because of “just a dog”, I will rise early, take long walks and look
longingly to the future.


So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment
of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.


“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away
from myself and the worries of the day.


I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog”,
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
“just a man or woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog”
just smile…
because they “just don’t understand.”




Four million heroic dogs end up in shelters and breed rescue organizations every year in the United States. 

PEDIGREE, with your help, wants to feed these fine dogs while they are waiting to go to their forever homes!

Write a Post, Help a Dog! ~Thursday, September 16 through Sunday, September 19, the Pedigree BlogPaws bloggers will host a Blog Hop, to help raise awareness for the “Write a post, help a dog” effort. You can make a difference.



Is this one awesome shelter pup? There are 3,999,999 more like him.  


  • This year the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive is raising awareness about awesome homeless dogs by donating a bowl of food to a shelter dog for every person who becomes a “Fan” or “Likes” the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive on Facebook.
  • All you have to do is go to the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Fan Page on Facebook to become a fan and help a dog. Here’s the link

2. You can post this nifty yellow and blue badge on your blog and link it to the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Fan Page


 # dogsrule

All Aboard


I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday


Thank you, Susan, for hosting such a fun event & providing dishaholics everywhere with a weekly fix ~



Instead of setting a table on my porch, I packed a picnic and set the pontoon for this week’s tablescape. . .



We had the a few mornings of temperatures in the mid 50’s,  just a tease. . . but enough to make me long to pull out the throws, blankets, open the windows, and build a fire~ a bit premature, but I’ ve got fall fever now :-)



 Join for me for a boat ride, munch on some grapes. . .



 The beauty of a pontoon is you can putt slowly enough that you don’t spill your drink. . .



Or drop your slice of cheese :-)





Make yourself comfortable. . .







 If you prefer, we can just sit here and enjoy the serenity of the lake, now that it’s after Labor Day, and the crowds are gone. . .



. . .including those noisy jet skis :-)











 Cheeseboard & Plates/Ambiance Collection, Fleur Rouge

Goblets/ Hobby Lobby





For more tablescape fun, be sure to visit the Porch. . .



Zoo Story



Zoo Story ****.* by Thomas French


I’m joining Jain with my Edible Review at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word. 


I loved this book~  animal lover that I am, I found it heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure. Written by Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, based on six years of research, French takes us behind the scenes at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The characters are noteworthy:  Herman, a species-confused chimp with a preference for blondes; Enshalla, a Sumatran tiger who revels in Obsession perfume; and the egomaniacal and brilliant CEO, Lex Salisbury, who is the driving force behind the zoo’s growing pains, its triumphs and its tragedies.

 The characters I was most fascinated with were the elephants *sigh*. . .

The book begins with elephants onboard a 747 leaving their home in Swaziland, a country smaller than New Jersey in the southern tip of Africa. Survivors from annual culls, a reality that is practiced to control the country’s elephant population, they are stretching the parks’ resources and in need of a new home. These eleven elephants find themselves being relocated to zoos in San Diego and of course, Tampa where the controversy and story begins:  “Eleven elephants. One plane. Hurtling together across the sky.”

“Elephants, it turns out, are surprisingly stealthy. As the sunlight fades, other species declare their presence. Throngs of zebras and wildebeests thunder by in the distance, trailing dust clouds. Cape buffalo snort and raise their horns and position themselves in front of their young. Giraffes stare over treetops, their huge brown eyes blinking, then lope away in seeming slow motion. But no elephants.”



“Anyone who has ever been squeezed into the middle seat of a passenger jet on a transatlantic flight has some notion of what it must have been like inside those crates. But to be confined for two full days without understanding where they were going or what was happening—lacking even the most basic notion of a plane—must have been disorienting almost beyond description.”


“Imagine the landing in Tampa. Begin with what it must have been like to descend through the clouds—that curious sensation of slowly sinking, the leveling of the wings, the cascading change in altitude. What would it have felt like to an elephant? Did their ears pop? Then came the buzz of the landing gears lowering beneath their feet and the shaking from outside as the air resistance increased. Then the bump of the landing and the sense of rushing forward on solid ground and a roar from outside as the plane slowed and finally stopped. Something opened, and a series of unrecognizable faces and scents approached their crates. Then the whirring of the forklift and a groaning from the crane, accompanied by the sensation of being lifted and lowered. A rush of fresh air, the patter of rain. Night, unfurling outside the metal box that had become their world. A mechanical growling as they were propelled forward on the trucks. A forest of flashing lights. The thunk-thunk of helicopter blades, rotating somewhere above.”



“In Swaziland, as in other parts of Africa, elephants have struggled to hold their own against humans. Americans tend to think of Africa as a continent of vast, unclaimed spaces, where species can roam to the horizon and beyond. In reality, humans have occupied so much of the continent that many animals are confined inside game parks. Although these parks are often huge—sometimes stretching across hundreds of miles—the animals increasingly find their movement restricted by human boundaries, human considerations, human priorities.”

“Beloved as they were, elephants tested a zoo’s limits. They were expensive to feed and house, they were extremely dangerous to work with, and their very nature—their independence and intelligence, their emotional sensitivity, their need to bond with other elephants and walk for miles a day—made it difficult to provide them with surroundings in which they would not lapse into misery.”

“One study showed that over a fifteen-year period, one elephant handler was killed in the United States every year—a fatality rate three times that of coal miners, the most deadly occupation tracked by the federal labor department. The job was especially hazardous when their human keepers worked side by side with the elephants under a protocol known as free contact. To survive under free contact, which called for them to enter the same space as the elephants, many keepers believed they had to not only join the herd but maintain dominance. Essentially they had to become a human version of the matriarch. This was never easy, given the differential in size and strength, but it became particularly hazardous when the lead handler was off-duty and a subordinate had to take over. As elephants maneuvered for position in the hierarchy, they would push or bump their handlers to test them. If the person wasn’t experienced enough or fell down in front of them or showed another sign of vulnerability, one of the elephants would sometimes see an opening and attack.”



“Elephants are the most beloved animals on the planet. But they are also voracious eaters that feed for up to eighteen hours a day. They have a remarkable ability, unrivalled by any species except for Homo sapiens, to alter their surrounding ecosystems. The elephants inside Mkhaya and Hlane were tearing the bark off so many trees and knocking down so many other trees that they were systematically deforesting entire sections. The destruction threatened the future of the eagles and owls and vultures that nested in those trees. It also posed a serious challenge for the black rhinos, one of Africa’s most endangered species, which depended on similar vegetation for their diet.”

Food for Thought was not readily apparent in this book~ I decided to make Elephant Ears. . .which as they turned out, look more like Valentine hearts. (I have no doubt were this February, my attempt at hearts would look more like elephant ears :) You can find a recipe from the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry website here.

“Elephants routinely communicate with one another through snorts, shrieks, roars, bellows, and trumpets. They also exchange information through low-frequency rumbles, most of which humans can’t hear. Sometimes people in the vicinity of elephants can feel these rumbles; the vibrations have been described as ‘a throbbing in the air’ similar to thunder. One researcher in Kenya, listening to the infrasonic calls on a specialized recorder that picked up low frequencies, reported that they sounded like soft purring, Elephants tune in to these rumbles not just with their ears, but also with their feet, they can detect low-frequency sounds as they ripple in seismic vibrations along the ground. Elephants use these infrasonic signals to attract mates, to assert dominance, and to find and rescue calves who have fallen into watering holes or gotten into other trouble and are calling for help.”


“From the argus pheasants to the goliath bird-eating spiders, each of Lowry Park’s sixteen hundred animals offered living proof of nature’s endless gift for invention. In the curves of their skulls, in the muscles of their wings, in their blood and bones and twisting nucleotides of their DNA, each carried millions of years of the planet’s biological history. But their presence inside these walls also testified to the epic self-regard of the species that had seen fit to build the zoo and so many others like it around the world.”

Lowry Park’s very existence declared our presumption of supremacy, the ancient belief that we have been granted dominion over other creatures and have the right to do with them as we please. The zoo was a living catalogue of our fears and obsessions, the ways we see animals and see ourselves, all the things we prefer not to see at all. Every corner of the grounds revealed our appetite for amusement and diversion, no matter what the cost. Our longing for the wildness we have lost inside ourselves. Our instinct to both exalt nature and control it. Our deepest wish to love and protect other species even as we scorch their forests and poison their rivers and shove them toward oblivion. All of it was on display in the garden of captives.”

“Inside our subdivisions, we sit with our kids and watch The Lion King, singing along as Pumbaa and Timon parade across the endless veldt and majestically celebrate the circle of life. But the truth is, the circle of life is constantly shrinking. If you’re going to see a lion even in Africa, it will almost certainly be on a tour inside a fenced park.”



Herman the zoo’s most famous resident for three decades:


“By now the years were catching up with him. His chin hairs had gone gray. He grew winded more easily in the past. Still, he seemed to miss nothing. If one of the other chimps in his group was upset, he offered comfort. If a dispute erupted, he stepped in. Often, though he held himself apart from the others and stayed on his stony perch. Tired of standing, he lay down on the rock shelf, studied the black nails of his fingers.”

“His early years, with a human family who had clothed him and diapered him and taught him to sit at the dinner table, had left him in profound confusion, and his years of isolation in the cage had increased this confusion and imbued him with an unceasing need for human attention. Though his alpha status conferred upon him sexual privileges, he never tried to breed with the three female chimps available to him. Instead he was attracted only to human females, preferably athletic blondes.”


“At times, Herman seemed uncannily human, understanding things that eluded the other chimps. His unusual relationship with Dr. Murphy was a good example. Like many of the animals at Lowry Park, most of the chimps disliked the veterinarian because they associated him with the sting of a tranquilizer dart and other indignities required for their medical care. One day, Murphy appeared in the chimp night house with a tranquilizer gun so he could attend Herman, Murphy was a good shot and almost never missed. But this time, his aim was off. The other chimps would have run and hid. Herman just picked up the dart, walked over to the mesh, and handed it back to Murphy so he could try again.”


Monkey Bread, in honor of Herman~ even though he is Chimp not a Monkey :)


A recipe for Chimp or Monkey Bread, can be found here.

“In the zoo world, orangutans are known as escape artists. Typically much calmer and quieter than chimps, they are inquisitive and love to spend hours figuring out how to put things together or take them apart. Their species practices these engineering skills high in the jungle canopies of Indonesia, where they have been observed tying branches and vines together and manipulating the tension of saplings to move more easily through the trees. In zoos, they are famed for their ability to devise ingenious ways from slipping from their enclosures.”


Zebra Cake Trifle~ layers of chocolate pudding, whipped cream and of course, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

“All zoos, even the most enlightened, are built upon the idea both beguiling and repellent—the notion that we can seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness. Zoos argue that they are fighting for the conservation of the Earth, that they educate the public and provide refuge and support for vanishing species. And they are right. Animal-rights groups argue that zoos traffic in living creatures, exploiting them for financial gain and amusement. And they are right. Caught inside this contradiction are the animals themselves, and the humans charged with their well-being.”



“Despite all their flaws, zoos wake us up. They invite us to step outside our most basic assumptions. Offered for our contemplation, the animals remind us of nature’s impossibly varied schemes for survival, all the strategies that species rely upon for courtship and mating and protecting the young and establishing dominance and hunting for something to eat and avoiding being eaten. On a good day, zoos shake people into recognizing the manifold possibilities of existence, what it’s like to walk across the Earth, or swim in its oceans of fly above its forests—even though most animals on display will never have the chance to do any of those things again, at least not in the wild.”


“New life insists. It does not debate. It simply appears, trembling and hungry, and will not be denied.”

 All the wonderful animal photos are courtesy of the NC Zoo~  where you can see new life in the form of a baby chimp born August 2nd :)


Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:


On Folly Beach

On Folly Beach **** by Karen White

I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.

This was a beach read for me this summer, very different from Between the Tides, that I also read on our family trip, but enjoyable just the same.  Folly Beach is nestled between the Folly River and the Atlantic Ocean, just a twenty-minute drive from Charleston. It was an engrossing read with two story lines and time periods the author weaves together~ one story takes place during World War II and follows Maggie, owner of a book store, Folly’s Finds, who is raising her sister Lulu, a bottle tree artist. The second, present-day story line revolves around Emmy Hamilton, a young widow, who has secluded herself in her grief working in her mother’s book store in Indiana. Emmy’s mother, with her own childhood ties and fond memories of Folly Beach, pushes her to start living again~ “Life should be a question, Emmy and you’re way to young to think you’ve already found all the answers.”

Through a box of old books her mother acquires, Emmy, with a master’s degree in library science, is drawn into the life of Maggie. . .  by her of “joy of dissecting the past through the study of fading words and brittle paper”.  With her mother’s encouragement, she finds herself on the small barrier island off the coast of South Carolina to start a new life. As she follows the messages she discovers left in various volumes of Maggie’s books, she slowly begins to become interested in her own future, by becoming totally immersed in the mysteries of Maggie’s past.

“The tree itself was an artist’s rendition of a tree trunk and multiple branches, upon which each end had been topped with a glass bottle in various rainbow hues. Slaves from the Congo had brought the tradition of the bottle trees to the American South, their intent to catch evil spirits inside the bottles before they could make it into their homes.”

“Still, the tree had become a point of point of refuge for her—a tie to a place she knew only in old photographs of her mother as a young girl, a place with an entirely different color palette from the flat Indiana farmlands of her home. Emmy had never seen the ocean, but as a child she’d liked to pretend that it was the sound of the ocean that lay trapped within the bottles. And if Emmy ever found the courage to life a bottle from its branch, she’d finally learn what it was that made her mother miss a place so much.”

“She closed her eyes again, listening for the footsteps but heard instead the soft sighing of a summer wind whispering inside the glass of her mother’s bottle tree.”



“The bottle tree stood as tall as Emmy, its metal trunk as thick as her arm. Delicate branches reached out toward the sky in no apparent pattern, their randomness adding to its beauty. Bottles in rainbow hues sat perched on each limb, affixed permanently on their branches, allowing the wind to visit without disruption.”

“Crossing over the Ashley River Bridge, with the pastel Charleston skyline punctuated by church steeples behind her…”

“…the docked shrimp boats announcing the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.”

 Emmy feels as if destiny pulled her to Folly Beach:

“She was too far to hear it, but she could see the ripples of waves outlined by the sun and shadow, see the line at the edge of the world where the ocean met the sky. She felt a tug somewhere near her heart, as if this strange new place meant something to her, as if the pull of the ocean was one more thing she’d been born with and she’d always known this place. It didn’t matter that she’d never seen an ocean before; she already knew what it meant to be able to see the ocean from our front door.”

“She’d seen oceans in the movies, and in her mother’s photographs, but now, standing in front of the great Atlantic, she felt the pulsing of the waves, felt the power and breadth of the water as it bled out into the horizon, endless and liquid like the earth’s lifeblood. It made her feel alive, unlike anything she’d shed felt under the broad, flat skies of home. As she stared out at the dark blue vastness, her veins seemed to pump with the ancient rhythm of the waves, giving her kinship to every person who’d ever lived by the water, yet at the same time making her feel very, very insignificant.”

“She watched as the sky over the marsh illuminated the walls of her room, infusing everything with a peach glow like the inside of a shell.”

“There’re always surprises to find here in the sand. When I was a boy, my mother told me that what you found on the beach was just reminders that we’re not alone in the world. That you’ll always find what you need if you look hard enough.”

“The tides and time had long since separated Morris Island from Folly, leaving behind a small creek that ran between the two islands at low tide. But when the tide rose, the encroaching water erased the land around the light like a vengeful finger, drawing in the sand until all that was left was a small spit of land only slightly larger than the lighthouse.”

“The lighthouse stood sentry in the distance, abandoned on its spit of land, caressed at each high tide by the same ocean that threatened its existence.”

Emmy is introduced to ospreys~ nesting on a platform:


“Starting in August they begin migrating south, some to Florida, some all the way to Cuba or South America. But they’ll be back in March to lay their eggs. They’ll come back to this same nest—the same couple, too. They mate for life. Although when they migrate they might go to completely separate continent, they’ll always return to the home they share together.”

“Emmy thought of the large birds leaving their nest and each other, secure in the knowledge that they’d see each other again in the nest they shared.”

“As a child, she’d spent hours on the beach, watching the crabs and the oddly elegant black skimmers with their red-and-black beaks as she and her mother searched for sea glass, turtle eggs and other watery treasures given up by the sea. Her memories of her mother were strong here, the in and out of the tide like her mother’s breath.”

“May through August, the large loggerhead turtles lumbered from the ocean and laid their eggs on the shore before disappearing into the sea.”

We were lucky to see these tracks on our early morning walks during our week at Harbor Island. Folly Beach has a turtle watch program & site where you can see loggerhead turtle nest details with counts of hatchlings :-)

“Ahead in the near distance, she spotted the telltale dips and sways in the sand and followed them up to the deeper sand of the beach. Kneeling, she placed the basket next to her and began to gently brush the sand away with her hands until she came to the round pearly-white eggs piled on top of one another by their mother and waiting for the call of the moon and the pull of the tides.”

“A group of skimmers hovered over the water swerving and dipping, calling out to one another like morning greetings over a back fence.”

“She existed in a black-and-white world, as if she’d suddenly been struck with color blindness. Even noises seemed muted, tastes dulled. She imagined that life underwater must be like this, looking up toward the filmy surface from a liquid cocoon, and seeing the rest of a world that she was no longer a part of.” 

I chose a passage where Maggie packs a picnic with Fried Chicken, Cornbread & Blackberry Iced Tea for Food for Thought. . .

“Her grief was a silent thing—an invisible virus that gnawed at her from the inside but somehow managed to leave the rest of her unscathed. Her reflection was a surprise each time she saw it, expecting to see something withered and gray, or a black hole where her face had once been. Grief became to her like breathing; she couldn’t rise or go to sleep without the pressing feel of it against her heart, the weight of it like a suitcase she didn’t know how to unpack.”


 “Emmy found fleeting relief in the stacks of books in her mother’s store. The silent words on the written page comforted her just as they had when she was a child, and she welcomed the forced solitude of sorting and shelving books.”

“The unfamiliar sounds of the marsh sang to her like a lullaby in a foreign language, the tune recognizable but the words untranslated.”

“Heading down the beach again, she walked near the surf, searching for sea glass. Her mother had called the bits of old glass washed in by the tides the ocean’s jewelry—a treasure hidden in the sand and waiting to be found.”

Blackberry Iced Tea, recipe courtesy Southern Living, here.

“Emmy thought of the migrating ospreys and the sleeping marsh and the way the colors of the cord grass had begun to change from green to yellow as its seeds clustered, then blew at the whim of the wind, and she realized she hadn’t missed the flame orange and russets of the trees she remembered from childhood.”

“Carefully, she replaced the bottle, then stood for a long time in the wet, sandy grass under the starry sky. The scent of the marsh at night comforted her like a shawl as she wrapped her ghosts around her, not yet ready to tell them goodbye.”



“She shivered again as the breeze blew through the open French doors, bringing with it the pungent smell of the marsh and a whisper of music through the bottles in the bottle tree. They sang a song of unknown origin—a tune that tripped Emmy’s memory and made her want to dance and cry at the same time. Emmy moved to the French doors and closed them, shutting out the marsh, the music, and the odd sensation that the world was conspiring to teach her steps to a dance she didn’t want to dance.”



“Migrating geese called from the azure sky, making their annual trek from the north in an age-old ritual of following an unknown sense of home. The wind rustled the tall grass, making each reed whisper so the whole marsh erupted with conversation. Emmy thought of all the time that had passed since Ben’s death, now knowing it as her waiting time, and she gave a silent thank-you to Lulu and Maggie for teaching her how to know when it had been long enough.”

I especially enjoyed the Bottle Tree aspect of this book~ I had family members helping me hunt for them while we were on vacation & reading this book made me want one of my own  :-)  To see some truly amazing bottle tree creations, you can visit Southern Gardening expert and author, Felder Rushing’s photo collection here.

Be sure to visit Food for Thought and see what everyone is reading & eating. . . I’m also joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday~  stop by for more mosaic magic :-)

Gone Fishin’

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Thank you, Susan, for hosting such a fun event & providing dishaholics everywhere with a weekly fix ~

 Labor Day weekend at the Lake usually involves a little boating, relaxing, eating and sometimes. . .

. . .fishing~

I was lucky to have caught these fish at Home Goods :-)

Lots of borrowing from rooms in the house for this table, keeps it casual and easy. . .

Boat oars that decorate a wall now divide the table into place settings~

This fish is a pot that my mother-in-law used to plant with annuals each spring and is now a wine chiller. . .

 and this quilt has been pulled from a bed to use a tablecloth. . .

Hope you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend wherever you were, whether it involved fishin’ or not :-)

For more tablescape fun, be sure to visit the Porch. . .

Plum Goodness





 This is the final week of Rainbow Summer School for Mrs. Matlock’s class~ the last color of the Rainbow is Violet.


I thought I’d share a plum good book that I enjoyed reading in April, House Rules by Jodi Picoult, served with a plum tart :-) You can see the review of this book in its entirety here.





The main character, seventeen-year-old Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. Color is defining in Jacob’s world. . . clothes have to hang in his closet in rainbow order, orange is a terrifying color~ it means danger to him, and he eats foods based on the day of the week by color



“Five days of the week, in addition to having a limited diet, Jacob eats by color. I don’t really remember how this started, but it’s a routine:  all Monday food is green, all Tuesday food is red, all Wednesday food is yellow and so on. For some reason this helped with his sense of structure.”



 So while he doesn’t have a violet food day, I decided to make a Plum Tart in Jacob’s honor for this final color of the rainbow :-)
























 Plum Good Tart with Oatmeal Cookie Crust



  • Oatmeal  Cookies, crumbled, enough to fill bottom and sides of tart pan, (about half a box for me, depending on the size of your cookie)

  • 2 – 4 T of melted butter

  • 1- 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 jar of lemon curd

  • 4 – 6 ripe plums to cover filling



Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter, spread and push into sides of tart pan. Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes until crumbs are set. Allow crust to cool (about 30 minutes). Combine softened cream cheese & lemon curd. Fill cooled tart shell with filling. Slice plums 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick depending on your preference. Arrange plum slices on top of filling.


 This would be good with all kinds of fruit. . . whatever is in season & would be great with a shortbread cookie crust ~Enjoy!



Stop by  Jenny Matlock’s Aphabe-Thursday for Rainbow Fun~ Violet





 and Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday & see what’s being served :-)








By the Sea

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Thank you, Susan, for hosting such a fun event & providing dishaholics everywhere with a weekly fix ~

Although we are knocking on fall’s door my tablescape inspiration this week came from this book~ it gave me the excuse to pull out and play with my coastal-inspired dishes one more time. . .

Women and the Sea is a beautiful book that inspired me to share it in the form of an Edible Review at Food for Thought~  a wonderful & delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word. Hosted by my talented friend Jain, every two weeks, you are invited to join by sharing a book review in an edible fashion. It’s a fun place to play and visit~  where you can always find something feed your mind, your senses, and your tummy :-) You can read more about this book and see the complete book review, if you’d like here.

 “In 2004, Claire Murray launched La Vie Claire magazine to celebrate women living creative lives pursuing their passions. It quickly became apparent that there were many others who shared her vision: women who had been enchanted by the sea and who built their lives around this inspiration. Thus the concept of Women and the Sea was born. In telling the tales of sixteen women, Women and the Sea pays tribute to all sisters of the sea.”

Sand Sculptor, Jennifer Rossen, is one of the sixteen women featured in this inspirational book:

 “The sea moves with eternity but waves to ephemerality. No one understands this better than sand sculptor Jennifer Rossen. She spends days, months even, watering, packing, and shaping sand into hobbit-sized sandcastles. These fairy-tale palaces—with their carved domes, crowned towers, choir of steeples and spires—enjoy their day in the sun, inviting imaginations to visit and delight in them, and then they are gone.”

I was inspired to play in the sand myself. . .and played with brown sugar to create my own sand castle :-)

Salad Plates, Napkins & Dipping Bowls~ Pottery Barn’s Coastal Curiosity Collection
Blue Dinner Plates & Rattan Chargers~ Kohl’s
Napkin Rings ~ Stein Mart
Flatware~ World Market
Blue Wine Glasses~ Dollar Tree

For more tablescape fun, be sure to visit the Porch. . .

Seeking Indigo

 Seeking Indigo for Rainbow Summer School for Mrs. Matlock’s class, led me to return to Charleston, SC~ which we visited several weekends ago.

From South Carolina Indigo Plantations The Forgotten Cash Crop of History:

Indigo, or indigotin, is a dyestuff originally extracted from the varieties of the indigo and woad plants. Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabrics a deep blue. The dye was highly prized by English textile plants in the 18th Century.

Although rice was actually the first lucrative cash crop of South Carolina, it took approximately one hundred years to perfect the rice-growing techniques used in the New World. By the middle of the 18th Century, indigo became a strong rival of rice in South Carolina. Its culture is said to have begun through the experiments of a planter’s daughter, a young girl named Eliza Lucas, who set out the plants on her father’s farm on Wappoo Creek.

 Eliza Lucas is credited with introducing indigo to South Carolina. In her father’s absence, sixteen-year-old Eliza became responsible for managing the Wappoo Creek farm, plus supervising overseers at two other Lucas plantations, one inland producing tar and timber, and a 3,000 acre rice plantation on the Waccamaw River. With seeds she received from her father from the West Indies, she eventually perfected a method of making blocks of indigo cakes to be turned into dye. The dye, for which England had relied upon from French sources, was in great demand, used in military uniforms and in dress coats of the day. She provided a new, lucrative business for South Carolina planters. Historian Edward McCrady wrote: “Indigo proved more really beneficial to Carolina than the mines of Mexico or Peru were to Spain . . . . The source of this great wealth . . . was a result of an experiment by a mere girl.”

 The indigo production in the American colonies was important and lucrative, due to the monopoly it held on the English market. By the mid 1750’s, indigo was a booming industry. Between 1756 and 1757, indigo exports from South Carolina rose from 232,100 to 894,500 pounds annually. Indigo production, like cotton and rice, were also labor-intensive, setting the stage for a larger slave demand along the South Carolina coast.

As the second half of the 18th Century wore on, South Carolina indigo was increasingly having to compete on the world open market. Given the inferior quality of South Carolina indigo to other varieties in India indigo in the mid-1790s, indigo production in South Carolina was almost completely phased out by the turn of the 19th Century.

I’m Blue since I missed last week’s rainbow assignment, so I thought I’d combine Blue & Indigo for another Charleston tour. . .

In the early 1900s, Dorothy Pocher Legge purchased a section of houses on East Bay Street in Charleston and painted them based on a Colonial Caribbean color scheme. Known as Rainbow Row, this line of 18th century commercial buildings was built to service the bustling wharfs and docks of the port of Charleston.

Rumor has it too, that the houses were painted in the various pastel colors so that intoxicated sailors coming in from the port could remember which houses were their own :-)

Number 95 was once owned by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, signer of the U.S. Constitution~ who just so happens to be one of three sons and a daughter, born to Eliza Lucas and her husband, lawyer, Charles Pinckney.

Charleston’s most intriguing iron oddity is the gib plate, a washer and nut assembly attached to building façades typically in the form of discs 12-15 inches in diameter, which anchored internal stabilizer rods. Used to bolster masonry walls, gib plates became such a common sight after the 1886 earthquake that they were soon referred to as “earthquake bolts”.  Stylish homes along East Bay were distinguished by plates made into crosses, stars, and lions’ heads, and recent restorations South of Broad have included unattached “faux” plates to surfaces where originals were removed.

Our room for the weekend~ complete with our own personal earthquake rod. . .only in Charleston are cracked walls considered part of the charm and ambiance, therefore accounting for the premium room rate :-)

 I’m joining  A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday &

 Jenny Matlock’s Aphabe-Thursday for Rainbow Fun~ Indigo

Women and the Sea

Women and the Sea ***** by Claire Murray

I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.

“In 2004, Claire Murray launched La Vie Claire magazine to celebrate women living creative lives pursuing their passions. It quickly became apparent that there were many others who shared her vision: women who had been enchanted by the sea and who built their lives around this inspiration. Thus the concept of Women and the Sea was born. In telling the tales of sixteen women, Women and the Sea pays tribute to all sisters of the sea.”

 This beautiful book is eye candy for the sea lover. I ran across it as I was going thru back issues of Coastal Living Magazines, to toss in the recycle bin. Looking through them one last time, to see if there were recipes or ideas to file away~ I saw this book I had missed, featured in the March issue for Editor’s Favorite Look Books… “Coastal staffers pick the must-have coffee table books that deserve to be on display every day”. I may have mentioned I have a thing for coffee table books. . .

Wading through the pages of this book is as delightful as wading in the surf~ with the sand between your toes, watching the tide roll in. The photography and prose on the pages will inspire you and make you long to escape to the coast~ beach combing for the perfect shell, waiting for that magical sunrise or sunset. Like the sea, that in its vastness has the power to instantly transport us away from everyday life . . . so does this book sweep you along within the beauty of its pages.

From the foreword by Claire Murray:

“While seductive sirens and beguiling mermaids suggest the mysterious feminine nature of the sea, many real women have turned to it not only for sustenance but also for inspiration. Women and the Sea tells the tales of artists, crafters, entrepreneurs, ‘fishing’ chix, captains, scientists, a surfing school headmistress, and a sandcastle sculptress. In sharing their stories, these women pay tribute to all of their sisters who, too, have long been mesmerized by the lore and the lure of the sea. Maybe they were bewitched in childhood while combing the beach, scouting for perfect shells and sea glass. Maybe they were awestruck by its power when chasing and tumbling in its waves. Maybe they imagined its mythical creatures while packing sand in colorful pails at the water’s edge. For some, this love for the ocean reposed deep in their ancestral genes, needing only a splash of salt water to resurrect it. If there is one word that characterized the lives these women lead by answering the siren’s call, it is ‘joyful’. These women delight in the sea. It intrigues them, surprises them, lightens their spirits, and feeds their souls.”


 “Mermaids are the perfect woman:  beautiful, mysterious, unattainable. I am inspired by a sense of grace, and mermaids offer unlimited opportunities to express grace. The flowing hair and swaying sea grasses~ poetry emerges with each subtle movement.” 

~  Christina Wyatt, Artist


  Christina’s work is full of mysticism, magic and symbolism:


“Their opalescent scales shimmer, their long locks waving down their bare backs. They hold court on the ocean’s floor, bright orange and yellow fish floating in attendance. They cavort with seahorses, bond with goldfish, curl and coil like moonshells, and sleep like Pisces twins on beds of sand and shells. They undulate and sway, these mermaids of sea dreams.”


Beaufort, SC, has an active and enthusiastically supported Arts Council. Mermaid statues, embellished by area artists in 2006, were auctioned off to endow a fund for public art. A few mermaids remain sprinkled throughout town that we ran across on our family beach trip this year. When I saw this book had mermaids, I thought I would include them for a mermaid-drenched review :-) You can read more about Beaufort’s Mermaids here and see a little of sculptor Kevin Palmer’s mermaid-making process from wood frame to fiberglass here.

Figurehead Artist, Dinah Unruh, is one of the only two or three people in the world who still carve figureheads, an art that once was in high demand as each clipper ship that left port had one of these icons~ usually fashioned after a wife, sister or mother.

“She senses their spirit. In her mind’s eye, she sees their faces– alert, calm, strong–these stalwart Quaker women on Nantucket Island’s seafaring past. Shaving by painstaking shaving, their features emerge from antique teak wood. These figureheads, these protectresses of voyages, will not stand watch from the bows of ships as did their sisters of centuries past. No, these women safeguard homes while adding to them their beauty and grace.”

“Much like the captains who placed figureheads at the helm of their ships, an act born of traditions meant to mollify the sea gods and ward off ill fate, Dinah carves figures of protection. Their gaze is constant, their faces set and serene, their smiles quietly suggesting all will be well.”


“Nothing is too lowly for her notice, not the knobby seaweed, not the humble razor clam, not the ubiquitous barnacle, not the broken horseshoe crab carapace. She singles them out, and through her eyes, they reveal their poetry. Painting them as portraits, as species studies, as Bachian pieces of point and counterpoint, Mimi Gregoire Carpenter spotlights that which is often overlooked– discovered hiding in rock piles, stranded by the tide, and tangled in flotsam.”

 “Every single one of your senses is touched. The ocean smells different from any other place. Then there are the words, the rote sound of the waves, the rippling. It evens you out and calms you down. When it’s foggy, the gray wraps right around you. For me, the ocean is the closest thing to what heaven will be like. It’s the closest thing to paradise.” 

~ Mimi Gregoire Carpenter, Artist


“In its quietness, serenity, and beauty, the sea teaches us ways to find our centers as human beings. The sea has a tendency to draw the big picture for us and remind us not to sweat the small stuff. It is that special place that helps us remember the important things in life.”

 ~ Jennifer MacLean, Boat Captain



Claudia Espenschield, Fishin’ Chix  Founder:


“It is an unadulterated joy, I never expected to like fishing, and other women say the same thing. Sure enough, every time they’ll say, ‘That’s just the greatest experience in the world.’ Women are curious, they ask questions, they follow advice, and they share their amazement at what they land, ‘Women scream their heads off even if it’s a teeny fish they have caught. It’s almost as if they have reeled in a Volkswagen.’ “



“Once the ocean catches you, it is if you are in a net. You can’t get away. We have the exact percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean. That’s deep and probably worth lots of thought, but I would rather just play in the ocean, I prefer just to enjoy it.”


~Bev Sander, Las Olas Surf Safaris Founder



Pamela Barefoot, founder of Blue Crab Bay Company, resides on a small peninsula on Virginia’s eastern coast. Professing not to be a cook herself, her claim to fame was clam dip, and noticed that the regional food and gift basket business, as well as the grocery store shelves lacked a seasoning packet for clam dip. Expanding on that, she now spends her days developing and marketing products like Dune Buggies (sea salted almonds), She-Crab Soup, Shore Seasonings, and Inner Oceans seaweed soaps. She leaves the stresses of the business world behind by escaping to her dock with her dogs, her iPod speakers, and her crab pot. Baiting her line she catches crabs that she steams on her dock and takes in the abundance around her:

“When I close my eyes and think of the expansive water of the Chesapeake or the ocean, I feel freedom, a relaxing deep breath. It is peaceful, unifying, cleansing, and ever changing. Water connects us to other continents, other islands, other people.”


   Add cream cheese & mayo to this seasoning blend, along with a can of minced clams for quick & flavorful clam dip.

 Flour tortillas + the magic of cookie cutters + the oven =  fish, dolphin and shell tortilla chips for dip :-)

  Since I was familiar with Blue Crab Bay Company products, I dove at the chance to use some for Food for Thought. So good and easy, I almost feel guilty :-)  You can find their products here. 


 This is a favorite bloody mary mix~  if you prefer the flavor of clam juice, try the Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer.


Miss Beaufort, with her streaming locks of copper wire, stained-glass tail, and beauty queen banner, greets drivers as they come onto Bay Street. She happily swims near a Palmetto Tree at the Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.



“The sea moves with eternity but waves to ephemerality. No one understands this better than sand sculptor Jennifer Rossen. She spends days, months even, watering, packing, and shaping sand into hobbit-sized sandcastles. These fairy-tale palaces—with their carved domes, crowned towers, choir of steeples and spires—enjoy their day in the sun, inviting imaginations to visit and delight in them, and then they are gone. A trained artist, Jennifer is fine with the brief life of her creations. ‘I only build ephemeral sand  sculptures, which after a time, return to a pile of sand. It is like buying a bunch of flowers; you do it for the beauty of the moment. No one gets sad when the song finishes. Some things just live in the present. That is what makes them magical.’”

You can more amazing sand creations from Jenny Rossen on her website here.


 I was inspired to play in the sand myself. . .and played with brown sugar to create my own sand castle :-)



“Her creations have their moment on the stage, and then the curtain of water rises and falls, reclaiming them.”



Be sure to visit Food for Thought and see what everyone is reading & eating!

The Angel’s Game, Part II




 The Angel’s Game **** by Carlos Ruis Zafon 






I have more photos than would load easily in one post, so this Edible Review has two parts. If  you can found yourself here without seeing part one of this review, look here.




From my Williams- Sonoma Barcelona Cookbook:




 Pa amb Tomàquet

Tomato-Rubbed Bread


This was something we had before each meal in Barcelona, and was part ceremony as well as tradition. No recipe required~ toast your bread, rub the toast with a garlic clove, no need to peel the clove. Take a tomato cut in half and generously rub across the surface of the garlic toast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & enjoy!





















 Coco de Recapte

Flatbread with Eggplant, Peppers, and Olives





 I’m guilty of adding a thin layer of Boursin Cheese on the crust, before adding the veggies, even though the recipe didn’t call for it. I also added some carmelized onions since I had them to add to the pepper & eggplant mixture :-)













“Pedro always says that the only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him. The person you think you see is only an empty character:  truth is always hidden in fiction.”





“Everything is a tale, Martin. What we believe, what we know, what we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.”





“The images and the light that began to appear between sentences took me back to the old, shadowy Barcelona that had shaped us both. I wrote until the sun had set and there was not a drop of coffee left in the flask, until the frozen lake was lit up by a blue moon and my eyes and hands were aching.”






“The windows were wide open, but Barcelona no longer wanted to tell me anything; I was unable to finish a single page. Anything I did manage to conjure up seemed banal and empty. It was enough to reread my words to understand that they were barely worth the ink with which they’d been typed. I was no longer able to hear the music that issues from a decent piece of prose.”





“That man in black is the master of this place, the father of all secret and forbidden knowledge, or wisdom and memory, the bringer of light to storytellers and writers since time immemorial. He is our guardian angel, the angel of lies and of the night.”







“I recognized the wax seal with the angel even in the tenuous light that dripped from the streetlamp above our heads.”






“I cursed the moment I had decided to open that door and went outside to the street hoping to forget, if only for a few hours, the darkness that throbbed at the heart of the tower house.”





“The tower on the docks of Barcelona port rose before us like a cupola of steel with great metal threads wrenched from a mechanical cathedral.”








“One of the peculiarities of Barcelo’s bookshop was that books were spoken of as if they were exquisite wines, cataloged by bouquet, aroma, consistency, and vintage.”








“I had always felt that the pages I left behind were a part of me. Normal people bring children into the world; we novelists bring books. We are condemned to put our whole lives into them, even though they hardly ever thank us for it. We are condemned to die in their pages and sometimes even to let our books be the ones, who in the end, will take our lives.” 








“Senor Sempere believed that God lives, to a smaller or greater extent, in books, and that is why he devoted his life to sharing them, to protecting them, and to making sure their pages, like our memories and our desires, are never lost. He believed, and he made me believe too, that as long as there is one person left in the world who is capable of reading them and experiencing them, a small piece of God, or of life, will remain.”





“Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands, a new spirit. . .”




The Angel’s Game is a book for story lovers: expansive, rich and slow to digest.”  

~Robin Vidimos for The Denver Post.





Be sure to visit Food for Thought to see what everyone is reading & eating!