Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Makes Me Crabby Week: Ipswich Deviled Crab

Deviled crab is another really old dish, with roots that can be traced back to the Great Depression, another "super cheap" meal people made by combining blue crab and stale bread.

It never fails to amaze me that certain foods we consider pricey used to be "cheap foods." When Thatboy and I were in Carmel last year we saw old menus that had abalone priced at $.25 a piece. Now it's usually a more expensive menu item. The same holds true with crab. Now we consider them a luxury food, made for romantic nights, or special events, but remember what I told you about going crabbing? How it's done with chicken necks? It's a sport that anyone can do, you don't need any equipment other than string and scraps from last night's dinner.

Unfortunately overfishing has cleared out a lot of the marine wildlife and shellfish are no exception. Which obviously raises the price for your average consumer. But you can still get some fabulous deals - keep your eyes open.

I mentioned that normally I recommend cooking live crab, but for these next few dishes I find it easier to buy crab legs, because you get a lot of meat in there with very little work. Stock up when you see a good deal, for me I bought up a ton of clusters when they were $3.99/lb.

Even though this is a "cheap meal" there's something so elegant about eating out of a ramiken. Reminds me of tea parties for some reason. It's especially fancy when served beside a perfect mound of gorgeous bulgur, dotted with shots of vibrant green peas. Bulgur has a lot of the nutritional qualities of brown rice, but for some reason it just seems healthier. I was pleasantly surprised that the deviled crab wasn't too rich or creamy. The cream and butter are mostly absorbed by the bread crumbs and the mustard adds just the right tang.

Ipswich Deviled Crab (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups crabmeat
  • salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a gratin pan or 6 ramekins. Combine the mustard, cayenne, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, butter, cream and 1 cup hot water in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add the crabmeat and salt to taste, and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Fill the baking dish or ramekins, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs.
  5. Bake 20 minutes, until the crumbs are lightly browned and the sauce is bubbled.

Bulgur Pilaf (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small onion, chopped and sauteed
  • 2 cups beef broth
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
  2. Cook tumeric in the butter.
  3. Stir in the bulgar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add salt, pepper, peas, an onion.
  5. Pour in 2 cups beef broth, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Makes Me Crabby Week: Soft Shelled Crabs

But first - I'm getting faster y'all!

Saturday I had another race, a 10k. I don't do 10ks very often for a number of reasons, first because they just don't occur as often. While we have a 5k almost every weekend here in Southern California, 10ks are a little less frequent. The second reason is that sometimes when I go to sign up for a 10k, Thatmom decides she wants to race with me, and since she's not up to a 10k yet, we drop down to 5ks so we can run together.

However, this weekend, I signed up for a 10k which was part of the Coronado Sports Fiesta. I was very excited about it because I imagined this beautiful course run on Coronado (my favorite beach in San Diego). I was so wrong.

The race was really small. Thatboy thinks it was the smallest race I've run, but I disagree. In any rate, because branny LOVES my goofball faces I make when Thatboy tries to take my picture before the race I thought I'd include this.

It also gives you a better idea of the size of the field.

As I stated earlier, the course was not what I was expecting. Instead of running along the beach, we were facing the wrong direction! A quick glance of the course map showed that we were actually running on the naval base. Which could be cool, right? But there was really nothing there to distract - just flat barren land which is I guess used for artillery or bombs or something? I dunno, all I know is that there was a sign saying "no stopping, standing, or taking pictures" which is motivation of a different kind I guess.

The route itself was a repeater, which isn't my favorite. We ran out for 2 miles, then back along the same 2 miles, then back for 1.1 miles, and back again for another 1.1. miles. So I actually ran parts of the course 4 times.

As far as a breakdown, I'm SUCH a backwards runner. The way it works is, with longer distances, you usually run a slower per/mile rate. Because you have to keep something in the tank, right? NOT ME! I don't know what's wrong with me, but I run faster during longer distances. I had a new PR for the first5k of the race. And frankly, at that time I was really wishing this was just a 5k. And I started questioning whether I was going to be able to handle my upcoming half. And then mile 4 came in and all of a sudden everything just kind of fell into place.

The last quarter mile I could swear I smelled popsicles. Thatboy thinks I'm crazy, but I know what I know. To emphasize what a small race this was, check out the finish line!

I was actually a little disappointed in my time, because the OCD in me really wanted to finish in 1 hour, but when I got home I started reviewing my past 10k scores. The last 10k I ran was in March and I came in 3 minutes slower. 3 minutes in 4 months? I'll take it. And I keep going back to the fact that the 5k portion of the run was 2 minutes faster than the 5k I ran last month. So it didn't take long for that disappointment to turn into a little "yay me!"

Okay, back to crab week! Tonight we feature soft shelled crab. Softshelled crabs are truly a summer delicacy. There's no specific soft shelled crab breed, but during the late spring and summer crabs of all breeds outgrow their hard shells and shed them. Before their new soft shells have a chance to harden, you can enjoy these delicacies. Soft shelled crabs are easier to eat because you don't have to crack them, you can just eat them shells and all. Which Thatboy thinks makes them a little weird to eat. I've opened up whole worlds to Thatboy.

I love them sauteed in some butter and served in a sandwich, po-boy style, but even if you're not a southerner, you'll probably still love the buttery sweet taste of sauteed soft shells. I allow 2 crabs per person, but if you really love them I could see 3 being very easy to put away.

Soft-shelled crabs (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 soft shelled crabs
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dust the crabs with it and shake off excess.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Toss the crabs and cook over medium high 3 minutes per side.
  3. Remove the crabs to a warm platter and squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, scraping up the brown bits.
  4. Pour the pan juices over the crabs and serve.
I served my soft shelled crabs with some more barley - told you about that barley kick.

Barley Casserole
  • 1/5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/2 cups boiling chicken broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the barley and onion and cook until the onion is soft and the barley is coated in butter.
  2. Add green pepper and cook and additional 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cashews, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cover and simmer 25 minutes, or until all broth is evaporated.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Makes Me Crabby Week: Boiled Crabs

The other day I was trying to figure out why I associate summer with crabs. I think it goes back to my vacations in Hilton Head Island. Starting in fourth grade, every summer we'd pack up the car hours before dawn. Thatbrother and I would be smushed into the back seat where we'd promptly go right back to sleep until our 7 AM stop for McDonalds breakfast. And fourteen hours later we'd end up at magical summer home, steps from the beach, with mini-golf, fireworks, and of course, low country boils.

Have you had a low country boil before? Heaven in a pot. A pot teaming with crab, sausage, corn, potatoes...and the crab is always the sweetest you've ever had.

Our summer crab was always so good, that several years we decided to catch our own. Every summer we would pick one deep sea adventure, regular ole deep sea fishing, shark fishing, shrimping, and even crabbing. If you've never been crabbing it's a complete "experience." For bait, you use chicken necks. So next time you buy a whole chicken, don't just throw that extra tidbit away. Keep it for the next time you get a crab hankering!

Between the low country boils and the memories of crabs hanging off of chicken necks, it makes a lot of sense that no summer for me is complete without lots and lots of crabs. And for the most part, I'm fairly adamant about starting with the live guys. Although Thatboy has made me promise not to race them across the kitchen floor. So I decided to dedicate this entire week to different crab preparations (from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, of course)

We'll begin with the basics - boiled crab. Especially helpful if you want to make a low country boil. The recipe for this is pretty much a given, you know - boil water, put in crabs, boil 15 instead I'll fill you in on how to eat these suckers.

How to Eat A Crab
  1. See those big claws in the front? Twist those puppies off and crack them with a crab cracker to make the meat easier to remove.
  2. Pull and break off the "apron" - that's the little triangular piece on the underside of the kind of looks like an upside-down version of the female reproductive system.
  3. Remove the gills, intestines, and all the other innards. If you want to keep the orange roe or the green tomalley - more power to you. Both are edible and Thatmom is a big fan. The rest of us, not so much. More for her!
  4. Dig out the meat beneath the gills and eat up!

And I got into barley for a bit, so I'll also share a barley recipe with you. It's a fabulous alternative to rice or pasta, but I was concerned with how Thatboy would react, so the first time I served it to him, I mixed it in with some white rice. The verdict? A big thumbs up!

Barley and Rice
  1. Bring 1.5 cups water to a boil with 1/2 tsp salt.
  2. Stir in 1/2 cup pearl barley and 1/4 cup white rice.
  3. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed (about 25 minutes)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Red or White, no Blues allowed

I know I am ALWAYS complaining about the weird California weather, but seriously people, have you heard about what's been going on lately? While the rest of the world has been facing some serious heat waves, it's been downright cold here in California. We had a week where we barely made it into the 60s. 50 degree weather in Southern JULY?

And then came last week, when all of a sudden, it was as if someone had poked Mother Nature and woken her up. Oh, riiiiight, July = hot! Seriously hot. It got so bad that Thatboy accused me of trying to kill Thatdog. See, Thatdog and I are now up to 4.5 miles on our weekday runs (I leave him at home for my long weekend runs). Normally he just does fine on these runs and I haven't needed to bring water for him. Although I'm now aware that it's because of the abnormally cool weather. Last Thursday we were on our way home on our run when Thatdog decided he was done. He just...stopped...dead in his tracks. We were in a neighborhood, under a tree, with a nice breeze, and I think he just thought it was the perfect time for a break. And so I let him take a little break, kicking myself for not bringing him something cool to drink. Eventually his standing in one place turned into a little sit down, as he hung out and eyed the road, making it look like he was just waiting for me. Hah. I let him sit as long as he needed and finally he was up again. I told him I thought we should walk the remaining 2 miles home, but he wanted to run, and so I trotted beside him, making him go a little slower than he would have liked. And he took 3 more breaks on the way back - to roll like a crazy dog in the dirt on the trail.

And because the weather here is extremely unpredictable, later that day the sun disappeared and it rained. And we had thunder and lightening storms. In July.

Because of the cold weather, while my friends around the country are enjoying their grills and green leafy salads, we've been eating a lot of soups. In July. But that means we can play fun soup games! Like New England v. Manhattan Clam Chowder! I have to say - I've lived in both New York and New England, so I don't have any loyalties there. And yet, I have always had a strong preference for the white stuff. Maybe because it's usually far more fattening? This New England Clam Chowder is made with milk, not cream, and since I usually use skim milk for everything, it cuts down on the fat and calories substantially. But you really don't lose anything, it's still delicious. And while I usually prefer the New England variety, this Manhattan clam chowder definitely holds its own. It might be safe to say Thatboy and I both preferred it. But I leave the recipes in your hands for you to decide for yourself.

New England Clam Chowder (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

  • 3-4 cups shucked or steamed chowder clams with their juice or broth
  • 1 1/2 inch cube salt pork, diced small
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper

  1. Measure the clam juice/broth and add water to make 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Cut the clams into small pieces and set aside.
  3. Cook the salt pork slowly in a small skillet until the fat has mtlted and the scraps are brown.
  4. Strain, set aside the scraps and put 2 Tbsp of the fat in a large pot.
  5. Heat the fat, add the onion, and cook slowly until golden.
  6. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the potatoes and clam juice or broth.
  8. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  9. Add the clams and simmer 10 minutes more, or until the clams are cooked and the potatoes are tender.
  10. Add the milk, butter, and salt and pepper to taste, and heat until the butter has melted.
  11. Serve with a few crisp pork bites in each bowl.

Manhattan Clam Chowder (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

  • 2 cups shucked or steamed chowder clams, with their juice or broth
  • 1 1/2 inch cube of salt pork, diced small
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups stewed peeled tomatoes or chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Measure the clam juice or broth from the shucked or steamed clams and add water, if necessary, to make 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Cut the clams into small pieces and set aside.
  3. Cook the small pork slowly in a small skillet until the fat melts and the scraps are brown. Strain, set aside the scraps, and put 2 Tbsp of the fat in a large pot. Heat the fat, add the onion, and cook until limp.
  4. Stir in the potatoes and claim juice. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes more.
  6. Stir in the clams and thyme, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the clams and the potatoes are done. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with a few crisp pork bites in each bowl.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dedicated to H

A lot of people will tell you they married their best friend. I don't know if that's exactly true in my case, but I will say that one of my best friends is just like the man I married.

We'll start with the basics, Thatboy and H were born on the same day. Not the same exact date, because Thatboy is ancient and H is only near ancient.

For a while I thought H was similar to me, being that we were both married to men who worked for "the man" while we were crazy liberal free thinkers. Then H got a job working for "the man." Suddenly conversations with her became strangely similar to conversations with Thatboy. Especially when she started working in a similar to unit to where he was working. All of a sudden, our couples dinners turned into discussions where I sat quietly while the other three had in depth discussions about the penal code.

And then H got Thatboy a job working with her - albeit in a different department. But still, coworkers. All of a sudden it was as though they were the same person.

Then, 2 weeks ago, H got a job offer for a job that is almost exactly what she wants to do. YAY! She found out the same week we already had a dinner planned, so it turned into a celebration extravaganza.

H picked out the restaurant, one of her favorites - Tiramisu. Shortly after we were sat, but before the wandering violinist spotted us to serenade, H asked if I had brought my camera, so I could blog about the dinner. I instantly imagined H posing with each dish that came to our table, but turns out she got shy when it came to being in the pictures herself. I'm not sure why, since she looked beautiful (we both showed up in the same outfit - black tank and jeans).

We began by splitting the insalate di spinachi (okay, we began with a couple glasses of wine, but the food is always more important, right?).

Spinach, Italian bacon, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and a warm balsamic vinaigrette. I don't which I loved more, the giant pieces of parmesan, the sweet onions, or the juicy bacon. I tried to get some in each bite.

H told me she tends to get the same pizza over and over again because she loves it so much. The Pizza Quattro Stagioni. It reminded me of something I'd seen at the "pizza on every corner" stands in Vienna. Except without the corn. What is it with Europeans and corn on their pizza? This one had ham, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, and tomato sauce.

As for me, I am nothing if not predictable, so I went with the gnocchi. Have I mentioned how much I love salt? These gnocchi were perfectly salty! Maybe it was the tomato sauce, or the cheese, or just adding the right amount of salt into the gnocchi dough.

And then came dessert. How can you NOT get tiramisu at a place called Tiramisu? I talked H into the chocolate tiramisu because it reminded me of the tiramisu I make myself.

And it was definitely worth it! Even though I don't love chocolate, there's something so perfectly balancing about a layer of chocolate cream/cheese between drenched lady fingers.

And to bring this post full circle, now that H is leaving the office, you'll never guess who is taking over her position.....that's right! Thatboy! Crazy circular world, right? And H starts her new job tomorrow, so GOOD LUCK H!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beer, beer, beer, and the fair

Thatboy and I are nonpartisan alcoholics. We enjoy wine, liquor, and beer. But living in San Diego has made us definite snobs when it comes to beer. We can't help it, we're lucky enough to have amazing breweries in the area that are consistently recognized in both national and international competitions.

So when I noticed that San Diego hosts an international beer festival each year at the county fair, I thought it would be a fun thing to attend. Prez was in too, and brought her older younger sister (I'll give you a second to work that one out).

The International Beer Competition is an all you can drink free for all. You get a souvenir glass which you bring to each represented brewery and they fill it up with a 1 ounce tasting. Again, and again, and again.

There were 156 breweries represented, and most had multiple beers to sample. Many many breweries + many many beers + unlimited samples = good times for everyone.

Thatboy's goal was to sample each and every beer at the festival. Prez, Old Young Sis, and I decided we'd rather focus on beers and breweries that interested us.

Lost Abbey is my FAVORITE local brewery. FAVORITE. Every beer I've had from here is a hands down winner, but my favorite is the Red Barn. I order it everytime we see it on a menu. I dragged Prez and Old Young Sis over to try it and they agreed it was magnificent.

Thatboy examines Old Speckled Hen, one of Thatbrother's go to beers.

Pietra, a french ale, won me over with its super smoothness and sweetness. That little gold ribbon means I wasn't the only one impressed.

Thatboy's plan to drink at every station meant the girls separated from him, and then we lost him. Eventually I texted him to see where he was and got some sort of incoherent reply that he was too drunk to continue, could I please come get him at the roller derby.

Yup, cause nothing goes with beer like some girl on girl bashing. We hung out watching our San Diego Dolls until Thatboy sobered up enough to continue.

During round 2, Thatboy decided to ask if maybe they could please give him less than a 1 ounce taste.

And it wasn't too long before he decided he would have to call it quits for the day.

I decided it was time to move out of the beer arena and into the fair itself. Thatboy needed some air. I was really excited about the fair this year, since the theme was "Taste the Fun" - all dedicated to food!

There were stands sponsored by food companies where you got free demos and tastes.

While I waited patiently in line for my hummus ravioli, Thatboy sat in drunken stupor, unaware he was in the middle of a battlefield.

"Hmmmm," I thought. "Maybe we ought to get some food in that drunk husband of mine." Especially since we hadn't eaten anything that day but a handful of cheez-its.

Thatboy and I plan out our fair meals way in advance, researching what's new and what we plan on risking heart attacks for. This year, however, we were more focused on the beer and dessert and hadn't put much thought into dinner. Until Prez and I saw a girl with a sweet potato dog at the beer festival. A spicy sausage, dipped in batter, and then sweet potatoes and then fried. OMG spicy sweet deliciousness.

Thatboy went with my second choice - the buffalo chicken fry bread. I didn't really want to get this since I had fry bread last year at the fair and decided it was a little much to keep on having funnel cake for dinner and dessert. But of course I supported Thatboy getting it since it meant I got a taste!

Thatboy was feeling MUCH better after he got some food in his stomach, so we could explore the rest of the fair. Like this crazy butter sculpture.

And giant cows. I think this guy weight like 1200 lbs or something.

And of course the rides - which we managed to avoid this year. And more importantly, we managed to avoid losing all our money on the games. I've finally convinced Thatboy he's NOT going to win, no matter how "easy" they look.

The "ride the elephant" ride always reminds me of "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood." Everytime. It should remind me of my childhood. According to my parents, I used to cry at the costume characters at Chuck-E-Cheese, but wasn't afraid of riding elephants at all.

My favorite part of the ride section though was this ride. The "bible story" ride. I'm not kidding, it consisted of 2 women sitting inside on folding chairs. They were just waiting to tell you stories. Oooohhhh Scarrrrrry - gave me the creeps.

All that walking around made us hungry again, so we headed to find dessert. Now, Thatboy and I are aware that fair food isn't exactly healthy, but even we steered clear of a place that called itself the "heart attack cafe." And as much as I love butter, fried butter is not high on my list.

Thatboy loves to try the latest fried concoction though, and this year it was the fried klondike bar. Mmmmmmm fried ice cream is always a winner. Warm AND cold!

As for me, we were on a mad hunt to find the fabled "funnel cake on a stick" I had read about. It took a while, and we had almost given up when we stumbled upon it. And it was perfect Thatgirl size! I love funnel cake, but can never finish a whole one! This was just the right amount of fried dough covered in powdered sugar. And we all know everything is better on a stick!

It's a shame the fair is only here once a year!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Our Fourth: Finish lines and Fireworks

Last year on the Fourth of July I was pretty bummed. I had just sprained my ankle which pretty much ruined all my plans. This year we were better prepared.

There's nothing I like better than getting up at the crack of dawn on a holiday. So I signed Thatmom and myself up to run a race. Actually, my original plan was brilliant. I thought we'd get up early, head out to Coronado Island, run a race, and spend the rest of the day on the island, enjoying the parade and watching the fireworks. Brilliant might be slightly overstating this idea however, because we soon realized there were some serious flaws to my plan.

First there was the sweat factor. Where would we shower after the race? And spending the entire day in our race clothing didn't sound especially appealing. And then Thatboy pointed out that he did not want to sit in bridge traffic after the fireworks which was sure to be a nightmare. And so we revamped the plans.

The new plans still included the race though, and I'm really glad it did. The course was beautiful, beginning in Tidelands Park. I'll be doing another race here in a couple of weeks, so this was a good preview.

The Coronado race is primarily a 15K, but because Thatmom isn't quite up to that distance yet, we did the accompanying 5k.

Most people dressed in the spirit of the day - in shades of red, white, and blue. But of course, some people took it a little farther.

Both the 15k and the 5k were very well attended - Thatboy took a picture of the racers just to show what a throng we were. I like this picture because it gives you an idea of how great the course is. You run from Tidelands park, along the water. Thatmom was so impressed with the course and its beauty. She kept saying there was so much to distract you, you didn't even realize how much you were running.

And yet the distraction wasn't enough to keep Thatmom's knee from bothering her. I still need to work on her warming up a little better than she does. So we didn't beat her last record she set during the irongirl, but, as is always my goal when running with Thatmom - she finished! AND she didn't walk once. Although as she pointed out "I couldn't walk even if I wanted to - you'd never let me."

As soon as we finished, Thatmom headed straight for the fruit table - loaded with oranges and bananas. "You can just leave me here for the rest of the day." She told us.

But Thatboy and I knew better. We knew if we left her there with the oranges, at some point in time we'd get a phone call from the police asking if this crazy woman belonged to us. So instead, we indulged in Thatmom's favorite Pannikin breakfast. "Every race should end at Pannikin," she informed me as we ran. "They should just have the finish line right there."

After breakfast we came home, showered, and Thatmom took a nap while Thatboy and I packed some coolers and got ready for the beach.

We did a repeat of last year and went to the same beach, and went back to The Cheese Shop to pick up sandwiches, chips, and candy for dinner. The difference between last year and this year? Oh...about 20 degrees. It was FREEZING on the beach. The sun never came out. If you've ever lived in coastal Southern California you may be familiar with the phrase "It'll burn off." We continued to repeat this phrase about once an hour as we huddled together for warmth. Around 3pm, it went from being a phrase of hope, to a phrase which would have us all cackling in laughter.

Thatboy was a little disappointed he didn't get to show off his groovy new t-shirt since it was definitely sweatshirt weather. We had spent the day before in Little Italy, showing Thatmom around. There was an art store she used to love there, and as she and Thatboy browsed the store, Thatdog and I waited patiently outside, where I noticed they had set up a tye dye station. Knowing Thatboy's INTENSE LOVE OF TYE DYE I texted him that he might want to step outside. His eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. The amount of tye-dye my husband owns is a little ridiculous. All are barely hanging together since he's had them since high school. So to say he was excited by the prospect of a new shirt was a bit of an understatement. He had so much fun making his shirt, and then couldn't show it off. So I'll let him share it with y'all.

We sat shivering on the beach for hours until finally it was dark enough for the fireworks. Like last year, we got to see several shows.

Thatmom and I could give or take fireworks, but they make Thatboy so very happy. And honestly, Fourth of July is one of his favorite holidays because he gets everyone to go to the beach with him, he gets surfing, and he gets fireworks. And it's very rare he gets to do so much he loves in one sitting. Happy Belated Fourth of July!