Meet Me In St. Louis Part 3 (and finally the LAST of Julia’s Birthday)

I’ll bet you all were hangin’ on the edge of your seats in anticipation of our last day in St. Louis, weren’t you?  So to recap – we had day #1 on the Delmar Loop and then day #2 on Laclede’s Landing.

So sad to leave our Hilton Hotel room!  We naturally, pushed it to the very last second and left a little AFTER check out time.  None of us wanted to get up and only ONE of us (guess who?) was responsible enough to pack.  Here’s a hint, it wasn’t ANY of the 15 year olds!  Oh and FORGET about the 28 year old.

Julia wanted to have a REAL tea party, just like in “Alice in Wonderland”!  lol  We reserved a table at the London Tea Room on Washington Ave. downtown.  It was strange to be on Washington Ave. because only a few years ago, when I was still working, this place was a slum!  Known for the prostitution and drugs.  BOY have they cleaned up!  Now, there’s a booming loft district and SO pretty.  Birthday Girl wants to live there one day.  I sincerely hope she makes enough money to live comfortably in a loft apartment 🙂

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(They decided on the “Cream Tea”, which I guess in London consists of a scone and a pot of tea?  That’s what a Cream Tea means at St. Louis’s London Tea Room, anyway)

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(Julia said she felt so sophisticated and grown up just like the REAL English people!  lol  She’d never had a scone before.  We ordered blueberry scones with “Devonshire Cream” which was TO DIE FOR!  Devonshire cream is like butter, only better.  I seriously need to figure out how to make this stuff!  Anyway, the scones were light and fluffy… NOT like the scones we’re used to.  I’d give this place 2 thumbs up for the tea and their scones 🙂

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(Julia feeling all grown up and elegant drinking her Chai Latte.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that they didn’t drink Chai Latte’s in London.  She liked the idea of the foamy milk.)

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(So Katie tells me AFTER ordering that the taste of tea makes her sick.  Here she is looking DEEP into her tea cup.  I’m not sure what she thinks is going to jump out and hurt her.  For my friends in the UK…  in our defense,  we’re REAL bonafide rednecks AND we’re coffee drinkers.  We really had no business in a London Tea Room.  lol)

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(In keeping with tradition, Hannah wouldn’t be Hannah if not causing trouble somehow!  lol  All through our little tea party, the girls spoke in their very best British accents.  Yeah, it was annoying so I kept my head down so as to not make eye contact with any of the other patrons.  When I looked up, this is what I saw staring back at me (Hannah with a fake “stache”).

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(I’m LOVING this pic of the girls walking down Washington Ave.!  They look like models to me 🙂

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(and so when it came time for the girls to take MY picture, I didn’t notice Julia walking like Derek Zoolander)

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(This is Windows On Washington, where the presidents always come to hold their campaign fundraisers while in St. Louis.  I used to deliver specialty foods here when I was working.  How’s THAT for a fun fact?)

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(The Loft Apartments where Julia swears she’ll live one day)

From Washington Ave., we drove around, stopping to take pictures of the awesome old city architecture.

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(I literally parked in the middle of the street to get this one!  lol  This is a view of the city from Market Street.  It’s a good thing it was Sunday and everyone who WAS out in the city happened to be at the Cardinals game!  Go CARDS!)

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(I’m not sure what this building is but it’s old and it’s beautiful!)

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(Just more lovely buildings 🙂

We ended up at Kiener Plaza where all St. Louisans gather before a Cardinal’s game.  Here’s where it got weird.  I began taking pictures of the girls and a lady walks up to me and asks if I want to be in the picture.  She offered to take my picture and being me, and being naive and being from the “country”, I said, “Sure!”.  Well, I discovered this woman was homeless.  Now, I love all people and the girls and I work hard to help stamp out hunger and homelessness.  We hold fundraisers and work with area churches to help these people.  BUT… I wouldn’t want one of them to hold my fancy new expensive camera!  She could have run with it.  Thank GOD she didn’t.  The girls and I took this opportunity to talk with her and learn about what’s going on in St. Louis with the homeless.  This opened the door for other homeless people to come up to us and tell their story.  It broke my heart, really.  However, it was good for the girls to learn what it was like to be homeless, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.  I’ll tell you their stories in another blog.

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(Here’s the pic that the homeless woman took.  Notice the Gateway Arch behind the old Old Courthouse?  I love this scenery.)

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(And here’s the homeless woman who DIDN’T run off with my camera.  God Bless her!  Do you know that NONE of them asked for money?  They only wanted to tell their story to someone who would listen.  She asked me to tell her story to whoever would listen… so I certainly will do that!)

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(Homeless men sleeping in Kiener Plaza.  They weren’t bothering anyone.  They just needed a place to sleep and the shelters were completely full.  This breaks my heart but it was an opportunity to show the girls how very blessed we really are.)

Next stop:  City Garden!  Guess what?  It’s another FREE experience!  I’m so proud of the way they’re beautifying our city!  There was a time that I was ashamed to say I was from St. Louis.  NOW is not that time 🙂

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(Hannah the Ham inside the eyeball of the creepy head sculpture)

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(Julia BEFORE she fell)

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(volunteers take care of this garden)

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 The girls and Pinoccio.

(The girls and Pinocchio)

City and gardenGirls and the bunny rabbitsJulia the Birthday Girl Me at the city Garden

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And this will conclude our tour of the beautiful metropolis of St. Louis Mo 🙂  We truly had a blast.  Lot’s of bonding, fighting, posing and eating…  Ah but it’s good to be home!

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On a Sunday Drive and in appreciation of “Earth Day”!

I realize “Earth Day” was actually yesterday BUT, as usual, I’m a little late.  It took me FOREVER to go through over 200 photos that I’d taken on Sunday!  I absolutely LOVE going on little adventures with my only real goal is attaining peace, spending time with a good friend, listening to music (mostly BAD music), laughing AND (here’s the biggest goal) looking through the lens of a camera to appreciate the beauty around me.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best photographer in the world.  I just only love it.  I don’t seem to ever find the time to REALLY practice or read manuals or even go to the classes that Hubby pre purchased for me to fine tune my skills. I just want to have fun!

Here’s some of the beauty I found through the lens of my camera.  I think it’s pretty appropriate for “earth day” because, mostly, it’s all nature.  Remember when I talked about appreciating your everyday surroundings?  Like what makes America great to you?  Sunday was one of those days where I found ALL kinds of average things that I see on a regular basis but it’s also representative of what makes America special to me.

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Americana – this is a lot of what you’ll see everywhere in our Midwestern town.  We live in the country so this is normal and I LOVE it 🙂

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Just another red bud tree – When Spring begins, I can’t get enough of the vibrant colors of nature.  Soon the red bud tree buds will turn into green leaves and we won’t see the purple.

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Like I said, bff and I drove around looking for things to photograph.  This is a picture of her – I made her go “fix” the American flag so that it would look better so I could shoot  it. lol We didn’t know the people who owned this property… we just made our selves at home and did what we wanted!  lol

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As you can see, bff failed at her task of “fixing” the American flag.  Don’t worry, I fired her!  Buwahahahaha!  But here’s the little outhouse anyway.  I loved how it turned out 🙂  Another shot of Americana!

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Bff, Beth aka Flashychick, looking for a crawdad (or crawfish for the Yankees reading this).  This is her favorite thing to do when we walk along a creek.  She always finds them too!

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And like I said, she found one.  It can barely qualify as one but I’ll go ahead and give it to her THIS time.  Next time, I want to see a crawdad in a non embryotic  stage.  lmbo

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Not sure why I love this pic so much?  Beth and I just found a spot on the bank of a creek where we could sit and talk with only the sounds of nature to interrupt us.  I guess this pic makes me feel the peace that I felt that day 🙂  Our chairs were just waiting for us to sit and relax.

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The creek bed rock was solid granite.  In the Ozark Mountain area of Missouri, we have tons of granite!  I just think it’s so beautiful.

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Me and my chair again 🙂  This is actually funny because I was trying to practice “positive visualization” here by writing down how I was definitely going to win a lot of money on the scratch off lottery tickets that I saved to scratch off at “just the right time”.  Did it work, all that positive visualization?  Nope.  It did not.  Maybe I was supposed to write my positive affirmation BEFORE I purchased those lottery tickets and not after they were already bought and paid for?  IDK.  What I DO know is that I’m still poor.  lol

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Time to leave our peaceful little creek and go find MORE beauty!

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LOVE this one… NOT because my photography was so wonderful cause yeah, it’s not.  lol  But check out those little baby lambs running and jumping and playing!  I took about a hundred pictures of these little guys but this one the best.  This was part of a “hippie farm”.  Some old lady who I KNOW was a Hippie, back in the day, grew her own food (plus who knows WHAT else) and looked completely self sustaining.  Kind of cool!

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Here are the Hippie guard dogs.

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And here’s the Hippie bus (the same kind of bus I’m positive the Charles Manson hippies lived in) and the Hippie llamas and the Hippie chickens.  Pretty cool, eh?

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Traveling down the road, away from the Hippie farm, to an area called Charter Church Road.  This is a road rumored to be haunted and to have a devil worshiping church located somewhere that I didn’t want to find.  It’s kind of cool, really.  One day I’ll find the church and tell you some of the local folklore that goes with it.  Halloween sounds like a good time to do that!  lol

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Just a beautiful field on Charter Church.

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Reminds me of Little House on the Prairie where Laura and Mary Ingals are running through the prairie?

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Confessions of a bored housewife…  you KNOW I’m bored when a picture of wheat fascinates me!  lol  But I really did love the way this turned out 🙂

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Practicing shooting in macro here.  This is the prettiest to me.  It reminds me of  a Victorian garden or wedding.

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More Americana.  Even in Missouri, we don’t see very many old churches like this left.  Especially a church with a cemetery attached.

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Here’s one of my favorite barns in Jefferson County.  I could live inside that barn.  lol

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Bff hiding in my favorite tree in Jefferson County.  This tree is at one of my most peaceful places.  A place we call “The Slab”.  As a teenager, I used to bring my lawn chair and hang out on the bank just to listen to the water run.

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Here I am sitting on “the slab”.  I used to bring my baby daughter here when I was 19.  This is where I taught her to swim on some of my rare days off of work.  It feels like a thousand years ago… but then it feels just like yesterday.

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More of the slab.  I can’t wait until it gets warm enough for me to get into the water 🙂

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They try to discourage traffic at the slab now because the kids trash up the place.  It’s a shame how some people who don’t respect nature have ruined it for the rest of us.  Pick up your trash people and we can ALL enjoy the beauty again!  Even as teenagers, we knew to pick up our beer bottles… I have very little patience for people who don’t pick up their trash now.

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Here’s BFF looking pretty but the MAIN reason I wanted to show you this one is to show you the trash by the tree behind her.  I’ve always taught my kids to leave nature better than when you arrived there.  So, if you see trash, pick it up even if it’s not yours.  I’m proud to say that they live by this even now that they’ve left my house and live on their own.  It’s become second nature for them to keep the trash picked up 🙂

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Whirlpool on the way out of the slab.

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Goodbye slab!  I’ll see you soon 🙂

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I have to close down the day with yet another picture of yet another barn!  lol

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It’s been an awesome day!  The best I’ve had in a very long time so to celebrate, BFF and I wrapped it up with our favorite local Mexican Restaurant.  BFF won’t admit it but she lives to text 😉  So while I sit, all alone, waiting for my food, with nobody to talk to… Beth is being entertained by her phone!  Yeah, that’s just how she is!  lol  She’ll probably kill me for this but you only live once, right?

So how did YOU spend Earth Day?  Hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as I did 🙂

A MAJOR rant and a happy ending :-)

What a CRAZY weekend and week, for that matter!  I’m getting TOO freaking old for this, really.  lol  Today, I talked to somebody about my brother, who is a Leo.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the personality traits of a Leo, they’re just a tad self centered.  They’re STRONG and funny, but yes, the world as they see it, should ALWAYS revolve around them.  My brother came from the womb this way and he received many an a$$ kicking from me when he was little.  I should be ashamed, but I’m not.

This weekend, my brother suggested we have a birthday dinner for me.  He planned this with my husband.  I have to give little brother credit for even caring at all because I can’t remember a single birthday where he actually did anything for me.  Not that I mind… my birthday’s were something I’d like to forget, mostly because the brother that I shared every birthday with is gone.  I just wish they would come and go quietly, really.  Anyway, little brother planned a dinner.  You’d think it would be at HIS house right?  Nope.  He wanted to have the dinner at MY house so that my hubby can grill.  Little brother was going to provide the meat to be grilled but we had to do the sides.  He DID offer to HELP Hubby grill.

First of all, you know what having company means, right?  I have to clean.  The burden of cleaning and getting the house ready for company fell on me and my daughter.  I’m sure Hubby would have done it if I’d asked but he’s not good about details.  SO, I cleaned AND I made part of the dinner.  Once little brother arrived, he was “too sick” to help with anything. Hubby did it all while Little Brother went and laid down in my bed.  He had a headache and he was SURE that nobody in the world ever suffered from a headache such as he had.  Seriously.  I told him I understand headaches because I suffer from migraines but he told me that he knew I wouldn’t be able to LIVE with the kind of pain he suffered from.  Hmmm… how quickly he forgets that I have MANY a scar since I’ve been cut from my neck down to my belly button.  THAT’S nowhere near the pain Little Brother was having though.  So, I left Little Pumpkin to sleep in my bed while we got the food ready.

You might be interested to know what my birthday present was?  Okay, I’ll tell you.  My brother allowed me to take care of his baby daughters overnight and all the next day.  Thank GOD Hubby, Daughter and her friend helped me with this because I, myself, felt like complete crap.  Although, I’m sure my pain couldn’t compare to Little Brother’s.  I love my nieces, you all know I do.  I love them like they’re my own kids and why shouldn’t I?  They spend more than 2/3 of their life with me!  lol  It’s just that I’m tired.  And one of my nieces is possessed by the devil.  No joke.  I love her but she’s got some serious problems!  Far be it from ME to mention that to Little Brother because his progeny are perfect, just like him.  Oh and he really feels that if he tells me enough how I’m privileged to be able to watch them (because he won’t allow anyone else to take care of the little angels), I’ll look at it as my most honored privilege.  Only it’s my BIRTHDAY… so can’t I get a pass at least for this week?  Nope, I can not.

Little brother and his wife wanted/needed some time alone Saturday night so my family took care of my nieces.  3 of them.  Granted, the oldest one is a PLEASURE and no trouble at all.  The baby is also an angel, but you know how much time babies take, right?  Even the BEST baby is a handful!  lol  I could have said no, but I recognized that they don’t have time together (brother and wife).  They’re in their 40’s, like me and they get tired too.  So, just like he knew I would, I felt sorry for them and tried to FIX things.  So how did Little Brother and his wife spend their night together?  Little Brother was too sick to pay attention to his wife so he moaned and groaned and complained while she quietly read a book.  Wow.  What a waste.  Can’t he just fake it and TRY to act like he wasn’t the center of the universe?  It took SO much for my sister in law to rearrange her schedule just to be ABLE to spend an evening with her husband.  This was an evening he said he desperately needed with her.  I guess it was all good for him because she got the opportunity to dote on him and be concerned with his sicknesses.  She must be a saint.  I’d have killed him.

Yesterday, Sunday, the little angels were supposed to go home by noon.  They did NOT.  After noon, little brother called to tell me that his wife would be tied up at their oldest daughter’s tournaments until 5:00 p.m.  Did I want him to come and pick the kids up?  HELL YES, I wanted him to come right then!  Did he?  Nope.  He called his wife and asked her to leave the tournament, over an hour away, and come pick her kids up.  She couldn’t leave so the kids stayed here until after 5:00.  Little Brother had to go to the dump to empty trash and he actually said that he was going to be “stuck” with his kids for this entire week so he couldn’t come get them.  He’s a SAHD.  He doesn’t much like his role as Mr. Mom.  REALLY?  His poor wife works over 12 hours a day and still has to take care of the house and her kids when she gets home.  She NEVER has a break but my precious little brother needs a break.  Seriously, the kids are with me more than half the week, most weeks.  I guess I just thought that I would be exempt from having to watch the little darlings on my birthday.

Done with rant… kind of.  We made the best of the weekend, still.  I DO enjoy my nieces (when I’m feeling good).  I do NOT enjoy the devil that resides inside my 4 year old niece.  Luckily, Hubby was at home to restrain her from hurting herself this weekend.  She went into a RAGE, growling at us and slobbering because Hubby made her put a shirt on to go outside.  She feels like she should be naked all the time.  That would be fine with me if not for the fact that at 4, she’s getting a little too old and I don’t want some pervert driving by to look at her “business”.  lol  Hubby doesn’t “lose” it often, he’s got the patience of a saint.  However, even though he doesn’t believe in spankings, he had to administer one yesterday.  AND hold her so that she didn’t bang her head (on purpose) on the furniture.  I really can’t even describe her tantrums because I’ve never seen anything like them before.

Things DID settle down after the restraining incident and Precious Jr. became my Hubby’s best friend!  lol  Here they are cleaning up the playhouse.

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(this old playhouse was one we built for my 28 year old daughter when she was 4!  My youngest daughter and her friend ghettofied it with paint a few years ago.  Ignore the paint. Besides Hubby and Esme’ are going to paint it white and also make a sign that says “Esme’s Playhouse 🙂 )

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Here’s my teenage munchkin and her bff helping to keep the baby occupied so that I could do my birthday dishes.  lol  These kids were a LIFE saver!  Eventually, my daughter’s bff took off because she couldn’t take it anymore.  lmao

Once the babies left, we all got the heck out of Dodge and went to Dairy Queen!  There’s not much that ice cream doesn’t fix, right?  We ended the day with lots of laughs and fun and yumminess 🙂  All is good again at my house!

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(Hubby contemplating the Oreo Blizzard that will be coming his way soon)

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Hannah the bff, enjoying her ice cream, maybe a little TOO much!  lmao  BTW… she’d KILL me if she knew I posted this pic 😉  You can see that my daughter didn’t have much time this weekend to take care of her own very special hair needs?  hehehe

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Life is good again and everything’s fixed, all because of a little ice cream 🙂

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Hmmm…. maybe I should pay attention to my OWN hair and grooming needs?  Naw.  I didn’t give two $hi*$ about who was looking at me.  Sometimes, you just have to NOT care and enjoy your ice cream 🙂

Hope you all had a spectacular weekend?

Snow on the clover!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hopefully the rest of the world is having GOOD weather and you can celebrate safely on NON ice slicked roads!  In Mid America, where I live, I woke up to snow and ice on our clover patches.  We’ll be staying indoors, where it’s safe and warm 🙂

To celebrate, in our own very simple way, I’ll be making my Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.  If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, today’s a VERY good day to give it a whirl!  Remember, it looks like this when you’re all done (and taste even better!).

Can’t stop there though!  I’ll be making a different potato dish other than the usual mashed!  lol  I get my Irish recipes from a cookbook called, Ireland’s Comfort Food (Pidgeon Press Publishing) and I haven’t come across a bad recipe yet!  The recipe’s I’ve tried have been PACKED with flavor.  That’s what I look for in a good recipe 🙂

*Note:  This recipe calls for Durrus Cheese and from what I’ve been learning, the closest that I can come to Durrus Cheese is Gouda or maybe even Swiss.  Today, I’ll probably use a mixture of Gouda and cheddar.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese recipe

Durrus & Potato Melt

2 pounds waxy potatoes, cubed (I use small red, quatered)

2 onions, finely chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia)

2 TBSP butter

1/2 LB bacon slices, cut into small pieces

1 LB Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, cut into cubes (I will use some Gouda and shredded cheddar)

8 oz tub of creme’ fraiche (I will use sour cream because that’s what I have)

butter, enough to butter an ovenproof dish

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Parboil the potatoes and set aside.  Meanwhile, saute the onions in butter until translucent or clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and crumbly but not burnt.  Mix the creme fraiche, potatoes and Durrus cheese together.  Add onion and bacon, mix well and pour into a buttered, oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring gently, halfway through cooking.

What are YOU doing for St. Patrick’s day?