Shrimp and White Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeños

Happy daze are here again people!  The Chef's mom got out of jail the hospital (for some reason I typed jail and it made me laugh so hard I just kept it and crossed it out.  To be clear that woman hasn't even driven by a jail never mind been in one), today's mail contained an amazing pair of earrings I won in Daschies & Design's Eileen O'Neill giveaway, and Friday is upon us.  Yeeeeehoooooooo!!

What are your plans for the weekend?  I fully intend to take approximately 7000 naps, fold the laundry (yaaaaawwwwwwning already), get maximum outsideness when not napping or folding, OD on Dateline, Primetime, 20/20, and 48 hours tomorrow night, maybe see a movie and, of course, eat as many Stuffed Jalapeños as the Chef grills up.  He made them last weekend as an appetizer (along with those Bacon Wrapped Dates mmmmore please) and they were just incredible.  If you don't like spicy peppers you can either grill them a little longer to reduce the spice or purchase alternate peppers.  All the information will be contained within this post.  I have to say they are the perfect compliment to any barbecue plans you may have.  They're not overly filling and are a pleasant addition to any plate.

Here is the recipe and how-to...please enjoy!

Shrimp and White Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeños
6          jalapeños halved and scooped
4T       cream cheese softened
6T       white cheddar grated
1/2C   shrimp cooked and cut 1/4 inch dice
2ea     scallion sliced
salt & pepper to taste
paprika sprinkle for garnish

First gather your jalapeños, lightly rinse them, halve and scoop out their seeds.  The idea is you want to have nice clean little empty canoes that will be filled with the shrimp mixture.

 *note the less than clean edge of my counter containing raspberry stain.  mortified.

Once halved and cleaned, set the peppers aside and gather the ingredients to make the filling.  Chop, dice, slice, and grate accordingly until you have this:

sans the shells that snuck into this picture

Transfer your chopped ingredients to a bowl and mix with the cream cheese and  half of the white cheddar until you have a mixture with approximately this consistency.  Be sure to reserve half of the white cheddar (3T) to top the stuffed jalapeños.

Next gather your jalapeños, lay them out and begin filling with the mixture.

 Take the reserved white cheddar and gently pack it on top of 
each pepper in order to hold the mixture in during grilling.
This process is called "crusting".  Thanks Chef!
Repeat the fill and crust process for each pepper until complete.

Place on a medium heat grill and cook until cheese is melted (7-10 min). The longer the pepper is cooked the more its natural spice will decrease.

 To finish sprinkle with paprika. 
The sun went down and we were eating by candlelight!   

*Note:  When picking out the peppers select the straightest ones; they are easier to fill and will hold the mixture best. You can also use banana peppers or red jalapenos for less scoville units(That's Chef talk for less spicy peppers - he's so technical sometimes.  Love it!)

Enjoy your weekend everyone!!  Let us know if you try the peppers and how they turn out.  We love getting your feedback.

Weird White-tailed Grackle

This weird-looking dude showed up at the platform feeder a couple of weeks ago. He's a leucistic common grackle. What caused his tail to be white is anyone's guess. Was it a flaw in his genetic material? The result of an injury or some dietary anomaly while a nestling? A fashion statement?

It's been a big blackbird year around the farm with larger-than-normal numbers of red-winged blackbirds and common grackles hanging around, visiting the feeders, foraging on the lawn.

I always enjoy it when we have these "marker birds" around—birds with a noticeable and often odd physical attribute. We've had bluebirds with a drooping wing or messed-up alula feathers. We've had a partially white junco. For one winter we hosted a tufted titmouse with an overgrown upper mandible. These are all birds that are easy to notice and keep track of because their physical anomalies make them stand out as individuals.

The current issue of Bird Watcher's Digest features an article about a juvenile rose-breasted grosbeak that lacked a beak! If the photos of this rose-breasted no-beak don't freak you out, try watching the video in our digital edition. Freaky!

By the way, here's your obscure fact for the day: Albinism in birds is caused by an absence of melanin in the feathers and body. This usually results in birds that are totally white with red or pink eyes. Leucism is caused by uneven distribution of melanin in the feathers and body, resulting in pale-looking birds or birds with patches of white.

Our white-tailed common grackle (which is leucistic, not albino) stayed around for a few days and then moved on. But if he returns, we'll certainly notice.

Cat Whispering In Almost Italy

Today I spent most of the day in LA during which time I ran some errands, did some shopping and basically goofed off.  Otherwise known as screwing around.  I love that part of any day best.  Tomorrow I will catch up on all of your lovely blogs!    I wish I had some crazy funny stories to tell you, but so far this week has been pretty low-key except for the fool at Blockbuster who felt the need to practically holler out so everyone could hear, "Oh isn't this the movie Sa-aarah had that role in?  I'm so into FILMS lately."  Other fool responds, "Oh I KNOW just how you feeeeeel" - while attempting to look around inconspicuously to see if anyone within a 5 mile radius is listening - "One of my friends called me the other day to let me know they saw my movie at the bottom of the bin when they were shopping!!"  Okay.  I get that you're trying to get your acting on and I can respect that, but really I don't care to hear all about it.  Whilst screaming amongst yourselves please try to ensure your dialogue makes sense.  The statements were entirely unrelated and only made so everyone would hear and think they were "connected in the biz".  I love this city!! Where else could you witness this mayhem?? I'm not giving up Allstate :)

So one of my errands today led me to Anthropologie to return what was supposed to be the gold clasp version of the fabulous silver clasp belt I wore last week with the bubble.  Boy was I bummed out when I opened the little box and saw the exact same silver version I had already purchased lying in there.  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some and I still consider it a win when some money goes back into the account for once.  On my previous visit to Anthropologie I stumbled upon (sure sure) the nicest grey poncho that somehow found its way to the counter when it was purchase time.  Earlier this week we stopped to check out the canals in a distant part of my neighborhood and I threw it on as the sun went down.  If you're looking for a light cover-up that can morph into something a little dressy I would highly recommend the Cloudcover Poncho - as well as every single shred of this outfit.  It is one of my faves. 

    There I am heading off into the Shekinah Glory in my shredded Siwy's
(aka best denim shorts in all the land) and the poncho.
This neighborhood is so very quiet.  It's a hidden treasure.  
"Carrie, reach for the liiight," said in the voice of the crazy lady from Poltergeist.  I still get nightmares!!
Back to the poncho:  it's sleeveless and a wider knit with a perfect drape. 
I love it with these shorts.
Here's a closeup from the back so you can get a better sense of the fabric and the drape.
While we were up there a gondola ride went by - complete with serenade!
And these high school kids were just paddling around out in their front yards. Lucky!
While the Chef was taking this picture look who came walking up...
He was such a sweet, timid guy!  Out came the Cat Whisperer - 
which is only kind of self-proclaimed.  I kid you not, if there is a stray cat 
within a one mile radius, they are on me.  I'm like a cat seeking device.
Success!! Not to worry - he is being fed. 
You remember the No Child Left Behind Act?
Well I'm the No Cat Left Behind person.

It was right around this time some guy came walking up with his new little puppy and cat friend gave a hiss and jumped off into the bushes.  And here's where it got a lit-tle kooky.  The guy proceeds to stop and talk telling us how he and his girlfriend are using Cesar Chavez's dog whispering techniques on the puppy.  Then out of the blue he goes, "Yeah like I do singing telegrams and had to deliver one to him." I'm thinking, who the dog?  So I ask something else and he says again, "Yeah, like it was live shoot and I had to walk up in a dalmatian suit and sing (and he bursts out singing some song) out of the dog snout.  He was a little freaked out."  And like a smart aleck I go, "did you get any tips while you were there?"  To which the Chef shoots me a look.  Oops!  But, uh, random much? He was certainly nice enough though. 

Anyway, shortly thereafter we peaced out and went our separate ways.  That was a great evening - it wasn't cold and overcast which is a rarity these days for some reason.  I feel like summer is passing us by and it makes me sad because we haven't had more than a handful of truly nice days.  August?  Are you out there?  

Let me know what you think of the poncho.  Do you wear them?  I hadn't donned one in years and it reminded me how comfy they are.  When it cools off in the evening what is your go-to item?

Outfit details:  Tom Ford Sunnies, Anthropologie:  Poncho, Gap Cami, Siwy Denim Shorts, Old Stud Handmade Belt, Foley & Corinna Handbag, Christian Louboutin Espadrille Wedge Bootie, Melinda Maria Rings, Free People and Motif 56 Bracelets

Black and White and Red All Over

Okay so here's the deal with Nail Madness 2010:  I had to get that mess off my fingers.  I'm sure you're shocked.  Saturday is the usual day I treat myself to a mani/pedi (budget willing) and even though I really felt like sticking to the routine, all the events of last week prohibited me from being able to emotionally withstand another potentially angry exchange between the nail ladies.  Not to mention I'm to the brim with unwanted bad nail color and aggravated mayhem.

On a side note have any of you seen Allstate's new ad campaign?  I think they've been lurking on my blog because I have clearly sparked a trend with my new catch phrase.

I rest my case.  You're welcome Allstate.  Please have your people get in touch with my people (aka me) so we can arrange for an exchange of the moolah.  Mother Mayhem needs shoes. 

Meanwhile back in nailville the chipping, whacked out color and screaming match boiled down to me waking up on Saturday, whipping out the polish remover and cleaning up the fingertips mah-self.  It was amazing how I suddenly felt like a whole new girl!  Invigorated!  So after the post-beach sandstorm we got fancied up and decided to grab a bite. A couple of weeks ago I ordered the most cool knit Trovata shorts on Gilt...examine the evidence.

 Something about them is very 60's to me.  They sit just a little higher than on the waist.  Hel-loo fall transition.
And with the tucked in tank almost create the illusion of a romper. 
The wooden buttons and the belt make my heart so happy!  Little details change the entire feel of an outfit.
The Chef even commented that it was so "Jackie O" (one of my style icons).  
I think it's the ruffled jacket.  It makes the outfit very "East coast way back when we were at that party on the boat in summer".
Note that they were easy to sit in without fear of riding up...doing an odd maneuver? - maybe another story.
I wore them with my most favorite Manolo's.  Thanks Chef :)
And a Kate Spade I got several years ago.  It was my first "fancy" bag.
I don't know.  I just really like this outfit.  Wearing it makes me very feel grown-up and feminine.
p.s. these pictures were taken right by the nail place!!...what's up with the knot in my stomach?

Did any of you manage to grab a Trovata treasure or two?  They have an appointment only location in Newport by the Chef's parents.  I always peer into the window longingly at their great stuff, and totally regret not buying a long navy and white floral shirt dress that was on serious sale.  Sigh - you can't have everything Carrie.

Outfit details:  Tom Ford Bianca Sunnies, J.Crew Ruffled Jacket (last summer), Gap Favorite Cami, Trovata Knit Short, Manolo Blahnik Shoes, Kate Spade Handbag, Seventh Door Bracelet, Dyrberg/Kern Rings

The Connection Between Birds & Music

Bird song inspires us. Who wouldn't want to be able to sing like a brown thrasher?

I grew up in a family of musicians and singers. When bird watching hit our family in the early 1970s and my mom started going out regularly with a local bird club, I had no idea of the intimate, natural connection between birds and music. Bird watching at the time was almost socially unacceptable—think Miss Jane Hathaway from The Beverly Hillbillies. But as we got to know more and more birders, we began to notice that many of them also had a deep love of music, or perhaps were musicians themselves.

Humans have always been inspired by the music of singing birds. And I've hypothesized that a musician's ears are naturally tuned for the sounds of nature, and vice versa.

I've always been interested in birder/musicians and have many dear friends whom I would include under this heading, including, mi esposa Julie Zickefoose, and pals Jeffrey Gordon, Joe Parisi, Chris Santella, Jessie Munson, Ernie Hoffert, John Munson, John Acorn, Patti Alleva, Jeff Bouton, Steve Carbol, Luke Dempsey, Mike DiGiorgio, Debby Kaspari, Mimi Hart, Steve McCarthy, Sheri Williamson, Tom Wood, and Jason Kessler. I could go on and on...including famous musicians rumored to be into birds such as Neil Peart of Rush, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Sir Paul McCartney, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

When I learned that Jonathan Meiberg, the leader of the indie-rock band Shearwater, had a serious interest in birds, I made a mental note to contact him. When I saw that the band would be passing through Ohio on its spring 2010 tour, I emailed an interview inquiry to the band's contact e-mail and was pleasantly surprised when Jonathan replied right away. We made plans to meet at The Beachland Tavern in Cleveland so I could interview Jonathan for my podcast "This Birding Life."

Shearwater's sound check.

When I got to The Beachland, the three bands on the tour—Hospital Ships, Wye Oak, and Shearwater were all loading equipment into the venue. I met Jonathan and we arranged to talk after their sound check.

The Beachland Tavern basement.

After sound check, we went downstairs to the basement and what passes for the dressing room for the bands. It was far too loud in that space for an interview with all the bustling musicians and humming equipment, so we adjourned to a small storage room. Here's a peak at it, just to give you an idea of how totally glamorous is the life of a touring rock musician.

Our interview space.

In this little storage room, with the other bands' sound checks thundering on the stage above us and the beer and soda flowing in tubes past us along one wall, headed upstairs to thirsty patrons, we had a nice hour-long chat.

You can hear the interview, which is episode 27 of This Birding Life both in the iTunes store (for free) and at TBL's home at Podcast Central. In the interview we talk about a whole array of topics, including the music-birds connection, birding on the road, on-stage hearing protection, life birds, and how attached one can become to a cheap travel guitar.

Shearwater's Jonathan Meiberg sat in for a song on Wye Oak's set.

After the interview, I headed upstairs for a quick bite and a frosty-cold glass of hoppy/malty goodness, then it was showtime, baby! Hospital Ships took the stage first and played a nice set, followed by the Baltimore-based duo Wye Oak. I really dug Wye Oak. Throughout the evening band members sat in with one another on certain songs. It was clear that these folks had lots of mutual admiration going one.

Throughout the show, the members of Shearwater switched off instruments. That's Kim on bass and Thor the drummer on clarinet.

Then Shearwater, the evening's headliner, took the stage. It was a grand show in a small venue—my favorite way to see live music. Shearwater's music defies easy categorization, though they usually get the indie-rock label. See and hear for yourself at

Jonathan Meiberg playing guitar at The Beachland Tavern.

The room was full—according to Jonathan this was their most successful Cleveland show ever! Some of the audience knew every single word of every song. After hearing the live show, I can see why Shearwater's fanbase is growing. Adding to the immense talent of the musicians in the band is the fact that they all seem to be genuinely nice. Jonathan took the time not only for our interview, but also for a half-dozen fans who wanted to chat at length with him. After several weeks of touring, that takes some patience, I would guess.

I'm not sure why there's such a connection between music and birds for so many of us. I know I could not live without both music and birds in my life. And I'm glad I don't have to.

Cleaning In Style: Alice Supply Co.

While we're on the topic of Ebelskivers and making food interesting and fun, why not just stay on a slightly altered domestic track and talk about cleaning.

Anyone still with me?  HEL-LOOOO!!! Anybody out there?!?

I kid, I kid.  But on a serious note, if you're not in the mood for it, cleaning can be a real drag.  I remember Saturdays a couple years ago when I would just jump out of bed ready to clean. True Story.  My schedule used to be jam packed and, for some reason I could fit so much more in.  Now?  Not as much - on either account.  Sometimes I even have to set small goals for myself in order to stay motivated to keep it tidy.  Consider this my cleaning confessional.  One day I was talking to a former Roxy executive who mentioned that a former colleague of hers had started this company that created fun cleaning tools.  I was like, "Oh yeah they do...what are they?  A maid service?"  A little sarcasm never hurt anyone.

Enter Alice Supply Co.  They had me at striped broom.

Can you imagine??  Fabulous!!  Now if I could only fly away on it. (hehe)  But it gets better.....

Now you can coordinate!! 

Alice Supply Co. was founded by former Fashion executives Maria Barnes and Raili Clasen who took a trip south of the border last year and found themselves swept away - no pun intended - by brightly colored hardware items and cleaning accessories.  Later, over margaritas (don't you just love them already?), Alice Supply Co. was born.  The company is based out of Chino, California and offers the best and brightest of every humdrum household and gardening item you can imagine.

I first fell in love when I spotted this floor mat:

It was as if the mat called out to me saying, "Carrie your backdoor landing is boring as hell.  Will you do something about that already?"  Next thing you knew my wallet was out and the mat was sitting next to me in the car en route to its new home.

I am currently awaiting the bucket and garden hose, but they have so many other fun things like toolboxes, gardening tools, and plungers (oh yeah I got one of those too because dealing with the inevitable just ain't right.  If you have a significant other you know what this means).  It's a big girl world out there ladies.  That dust, dirt and other nonsense isn't going anywhere, so we might as well go big and clean in style!!

Let me know what you think.  Would you spend a few extra bucks to have some home and garden "accessories" that brought an element of cheer to the tasks?  Personally, I'm all for it!

Monday Already? Pass it over here - Sangria Recipe

I don't know how yours was, but my weekend can best be summed up in two words:  too short.

I'm sure we all feel a dab of this every Sunday evening/Monday morning, but I can usually haul myself out of it.  This time, not so much.  After all the goings on last week I could really use an extra day off.  How about you?

Friday night I got take out and vegged on the couch with my favorite Primetime, 20/20 and Dateline episodes.  If there's a suspicious character within a 20 mile radius I think I could pick him out.  The I.D. Channel is my fave!  On Saturday I slept late while the Chef visited his mom in the ICU.  She was still a little groggy, but did sit up for a bit which is great news.  Later in the day while she was resting we hit the beach for a couple hours and relaxed in the wind and the sun.  It got a little crazy at times, but was a heyday for kite fliers and surfers alike.

 There's the Chef trying to keep sand from blowing up his nose while kites flew in the distance.

Sunday was a flood of relaxation and barbecuing.  The Chef hooked it up big time with some yummy appetizers (recipe later this week) and we finally dipped into the fabulous Sangria he made last's been resting for more than a few days with everything that happened, so was even more perfect.

Let's pour one out ladies and gents.  Here's to Monday - and this week going by quickly!

2 ea plumb, peach, nectarine cut in 1/8
1 ea apple and lemon cut in 1/8
1/2pt strawberry cut halved
1/4pt cherries halved and
3C red wine
6oz peach schnapps
6oz coconut rum
12oz pomegranate juice
Club soda

To begin with, this recipe is easy.  The Chef has made several versions and I think this is our favorite to date because of the Pom Juice, Peach Schnapps and Coconut Rum.  So without further delay, let's get to it.

What you need to do first is cut your fruit.  To cut fruit with stones - first cut the fruit in half and then remove the pit.  From there cut each half into 4.  For the apple - first cut it in quarters and then cut out the core.  From there cut each piece in half.  Strawberries are self-explanatory.

As the fruit is being cut up, add it to your Sangria pitcher.  I use a martini pitcher because I'm secretly enamored with the glass stir stick.

Seems like a lot of fruit, but is the perfect amount.

Next simply combine the remaining ingredients and gently stir.  Have you ever used Pom Juice in your Sangria?  The Chef swears by it and I would have to agree that it adds a certain something to the taste.

Once all ingredients are combined let the Sangria marinate overnight in your refrigerator.

 Of course this is not the refrigerator.  Wanted you to see it with all the liquid added.

To serve: fill glass 3/4 with ice, pour Sangria over top and add some fruit. Finish with 1/2oz club soda.

Fruit on ice.
Pouring it out - is it Friday yet?

Ready for the Club Soda.
Mmmmmbubbles.  This was mine.
But this was the Chef's.  Cool bubble action!!

If you have an ingredient that sends your Sangria to the next level, we would love to hear about it.  In the meantime, bottoms up!  What did you do this weekend?

And thank you again to everyone for the kindest, most heartfelt comments and emails regarding the Chef's mom.  Your thoughts and prayers are so much appreciated and dear to our hearts. 

Here's a parting shot of Saturday's kites and kite surfers taken with the Hipstamatic.

p.s.  Today is the last day to enter for the Ebelskiver giveaway!!  Comments accepted at the giveaway post until 11:59 PST tonight.  Good luck everyone!!

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