This is a quick and delicious dip to enjoy at your 4th of July cookout with vanilla wafers, pretzels or fruit.
Vanilla Pudding Cheesecake Dip
2 boxes vanilla pudding
4 cups cold milk
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup diced fresh cherries
1/2 cup small marshmallows
Blend vanilla pudding mix, milk, softened cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar with an immersion blender or in a blender until thickened and smooth. Pour into a rectangular glass casserole or other container. Arrange fresh blueberries, diced cherries and marshmallows to resemble the American flag. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with vanilla wafers, sugar cookies, pretzels, fresh fruit or any other snack. Happy 4th!
As a genealogy addict, I’ve spent countless hours researching my family’s history and have discovered that many branches of my family date to colonial America, with the vast majority coming to Virginia in the early to mid-1600’s. For those who have colonial Virginia ancestors, the Library of Virginia is a great resource in family history research. You can explore deeds, wills and other documents related to your colonial ancestors with a quick web search on their easy-to-use website.
If you have a colonial Virginia ancestor, you can click on the “Search the LVA catalog” link to access the catalog search. I recommend clicking on “Advanced Search” and entering the first name in the top field (where it says “any field” and “contains”), then entering the last name in the bottom field (where it says “AND,” “any field,” “contains”). This will only pull results where both names appear in the same phrase, which is helpful if you have an ancestor with a common name.
Some records are available electronically for download. Others are physically housed at the Library of Virginia. You can create an account in order to request specific documents if you are local and can visit the library. They also regularly offer genealogy classes. Even if you are not local to Virginia, I have found that the records available electronically can be extremely valuable in obtaining a clearer picture of who your ancestors were and how they lived. Records on material assistance provided to the Revolutionary War effort, land grants by the King of England and family bibles and wills give so much context to the names and dates of ancestors.
Just as an example, I plugged in my ancestor Hance/Hans Hendrick’s (1660-1728) name and ran a search. Several documents showed up, including some land records available online. I discovered that on April 25, 1701, Hance Hendrick was granted 594 acres of land in King and Queen County, Virginia.
These types of records are ideal for placing an ancestor in a particular location at a particular time. If you have colonial Virginia ancestors in your tree, I’d highly recommend running some searches via the Library of Virginia’s website. I’d love to know what you find out!
This light, easy spring brunch was delicious, and was made possible by Aldi’s sale on hams (50% off).
The refrigerated ham came with glaze for baking. It was pretty quick to bake, then glaze during the last 15 minutes of baking. My trick is to wrap the dish or tray you use to bake your ham in aluminum foil until you glaze it. That will keep the ends of the ham from getting burnt.
While the ham was baking, I made a quick pie dough, then I diced up a medium onion and layered onto the bottom of the pie crust. I thinly sliced two medium zucchinis and two medium squash, layered them in my pie pan over the crust, then added my quiche mixture: 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, dashes of salt, black and white pepper and 1 tsp. of ground mustard. I baked the quiche in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle came out clean.
Once both were finished, it was the perfect light spring brunch.
Yes, I’m shamelessly taking this tagline from my favorite little cup of espresso, Taylor Strecker! And while I don’t technically “watch” her show, I do listen every workday. I’ve been a ‘lil effer for almost ten years, since back when she was on Sirius/XM’s Cosmo Radio. She now has her very own morning radio show, The Taylor Strecker Show, with some of the most amazing co-hosts. You can check out her free podcast, Taste of Taylor, but the daily radio show is where it’s at. It’s only $6.95 a month, and it’s totally worth it, I promise.
Every week, Taylor and co-host Sean Kilby discuss the best shows in a segment called “Whatchu Watching, Girl?,” so here’s what I’m watching lately:
- Game of Thrones – Obviously. No spoilers here, but episode 5 was CRAZY! There were anticipated deaths, redemptive deaths, revenge deaths and completely pointless deaths. I can’t wait for the big series finale this Sunday.
- American Gods – Season 2 just wrapped up and all I can say is WOW! This series is one of the best book adaptations I’ve ever seen. It stays true to Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece book and showcases actors Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Orlando Jones, Ian McShane, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Shrieber and more.
- Big Little Lies – I just finished bingeing the first season of this impeccable ensemble drama and now I understand the Oscar hype. The acting is amazing and I don’t know how they will top the first season. Season two starts with the aftermath of the major death that occurred at the end of season one (and was foreshadowed throughout the season). I’m caught up for the season two premiere on June 9.
- Knock Down the House – This Netflix documentary shines a light on the 2018 congressional primary races, culminating with New York democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s historic primary win over a 19 year incumbent. It’s a great, behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a grassroots campaign.
So, whatchu watching, girl?
The Nashville Sounds, the triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, moved into Herschel Greer Stadium on the grounds of Nashville’s Fort Negley in 1978. Conway Twitty threw out the first pitch, and the hometown team beat the Savannah Braves 12-4. The stadium hosted the team through the 2014 season, when the team ended its run there and moved across town to the brand new First Tennessee Park.
Herschel Greer Stadium was closed while the city of Nashville decided what was to be done with it. Once the team’s administrative offices had moved, the site was left abandoned and nature and local graffiti artists took over. Many different plans were proposed, from a soccer stadium to a Kroger grocery store to rodeo grounds. In the end, the city decided to demolish the existing park to make way for ” mixed-use development with green space and affordable housing.” Demolition began on April 1, 2019, but my husband and I visited Nashville in late March and had the opportunity to explore the stadium and document what was left of this former baseball mecca.
Lynchburg, Tennessee is an easy hour and a half drive from Nashville that makes for a fun day trip with plenty to see and do. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery offers a number of different tours, most concluding with a tasting. We took the “Flight of Jack” tour, which led us through the distilling, charcoal filtering, aging and bottling operations.
We were lucky enough to see Tennessee sugar maple being burned to make the charcoal that’s used to filter Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. This extra step is what makes Tennessee whiskey different from bourbon. We also saw the spring where Jack Daniel’s sources the water it uses to distill its whiskey.
At the end of the tour, we sampled several Jack Daniel’s products before heading to Miss Mary Bobo’s restaurant for lunch. This unique dining experience takes place in a former boarding house where food is served family style. Every item was delicious, from the fried okra, cornbread and meatloaf to the cheese grits casserole, fried chicken and Jack Daniel’s whiskey-soaked baked apples. A dessert of coffee and pecan pie topped with whiskey-infused whipped cream topped off one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
Both Miss Mary Bobo’s and Lynchburg’s town square filled with shops are within walking distance across a short foot-bridge from the distillery.
If you’ll be visiting, be sure to pre-book your distillery tour and lunch, as lunch and the more popular distillery tours routinely sell out.
My husband and I were in Nashville last weekend and got the chance to do a lot of fun things. One of my favorite experiences was our visit to hip cocktail bar Old Glory, a woman-owned bar in what used to be the boiler room for White Way steam cleaners. Located on the edge of Music Row and Edgehill, this spot is tucked away in a complex that also houses upscale retail, a taco shop, wine bar and barbershop.
The interior is expansive, yet intimate, with multiple corners tucked away throughout the space to enjoy creative cocktails with friends while a dj plays hip-hop music.
We started with a classic Paper Plane – Four Roses Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol and lemon juice (for me, the bourbon drinker) and a Saturn – Ford’s Gin, passionfruit puree, falernum, orgeat and lemon juice (for my husband, the gin drinker). Both were top notch. The other two cocktails we tried were the Night Shift – Buffalo Trace bourbon, Don Q Anejo rum, ginger, passionfruit liqueur, citrus and Fernet Branca – and the Airmail – Don Q white rum, honey, lime juice and cava. The drinks were expertly mixed from a bar stocked with plenty of homemade infusions and tinctures.
Of all the bars we visited in Nashville, Old Glory was definitely our favorite. Broadway is fun if you like honky tonk’s and lots of people. Printer’s Alley had a cool vibe too. But this spot was the perfect combination of rustic, classic and modern. Next time you’re in Nashville, check it out!