Monday, November 26, 2007

Tis the Season

A fellow blogger friend of mine gave a great dissertation about when the proper Christmas Season may officially begin. For me, that was today! I did not spend the weekend, buying presents and decorating my house for Christmas. I did not wait in long lines, or camp out at stores over night for the best deals. I needed a few days to unwind and relax. Savor the Thanksgiving Season... eat those leftovers, and have the family hearth open and welcoming for the rest of the clan, scooting in and out. We purposely avoided all contact with the area around our mall and shopping center. After a lovely relaxed Sunday dinner and visits with family and friends, I finally decided to hit some stores. My wonderful husband joined me and did the carrying. The mall was almost empty, the clerks helpful and friendly. I nailed so many presents, with cheerful helpful clerks in about three major stores; I am in a bit of shock. I kid you not, every store I went into they greeted me with a smile and did my searching for me. I simply walked in with computer print out of my kids shopping list, with the store, price, and item number. I actually had two clerks fighting over helping me at Macy's. They not only found all my items, but they beat the internet prices to boot when their item was not on sale. At one smaller chain store, they even offered to wrap my 4 items for free that they gladly found and gathered for me. I went on to finish my shopping and on my way out of the mall, I simply picked up my wrapped gifts. As I was leaving the shop manager said, "Wait a minute, I forgot your bows." She rushed to the back of the store and brought out four lovely bows and deposited them in my bags. Even my husband had fun. I’ll tell you what; I will never shop the after Thanksgiving Day sales again. Sunday night was the perfect timing, I am telling you, “It’s a Good Thing.” ;>)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blessings of the Day

Some excerpts from our family Thankful Journal. I know this is a bit on the corny side. But I'll tell you what, a confession of thanks, resets the soul.

Nov. 18th
The weather is beautifully over cast; alowing for quick moments of relaxation... the beauty that the Lord created is constantly proving His love for us, that He would put so much effort to give us slidding moments of peace... J.R.

Nov. 19th
Thank you God for a packed day, full of life…and the blessing to be able to enjoy the little moments. C.R.

Nov. 20th
I am thankful for every time like this, to just be with friends, and family where we truly love each other and laugh! A.Mc

Nov. 20th
I am thankful for the goodness of God that allows us to just be. Also, I am thankful for times of today! S

Nov. 20th
I am thankful for people around me that bring edification and encouragement. It is such a blessing. R.H.

Nov. 20th
What a beautiful blessing to have a God who loves to lavish, to dress my heart with sweet joy, and guide me to the quiet waters...I delight in your revelation. Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you. Bless your precious name. H.C.

Thank you for the abundance of so much blessing in this house, this state, this land, and our family. C.R.

Nov. 25th
I am thankful for the best year of my life with the birth of my sweet daughter. M.B.

Nov. 25th
I am a blessed man, thankful for my family, my wife, sons and daughters, and now a granddaughter. D.R.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Week

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Php 4:8

I am starting today with a journal I will be setting out for family and friends who drop by to record a word or two of Thanksgiving. We have been talking about focusing on the good in our home lately. I think the family journal will be a good way to have a written testimony of all the good things He has done for us.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pie 101 or Disaster Strikes at Midnight

I think one of the things we so love about blog land is the fact that it has become a lot like Show & Tell Day when we were little kids. I really enjoy reading about other people and there daily lives. I especially like all the blogs about people’s hobbies and homemaking activities. Now most all of the blogs I have read have been about people’s successes and great accomplishments. Well, I thought it might be interesting to hear a little story about me that was not such a great success story. There maybe some of you out there that are like me. Some one who eventually gets the job done, but not quite as smoothly as I had thought going into the project. It all started about a month ago when I got a great idea from a blogland friend to go to a local farm and buy some really good apples. I was so very proud of myself. I went to this wonderful apple farm in the Yakima Valley that let me mix and match all sorts of wonderful apples till I had a great big crate full of the delicious fruit. I loved going home and taste testing all the different varieties and deciding which ones would be my pie apples for the holiday pies. I decided on a lovely old variety called a Braeburn. So last night in a bit of a panic I realized it was one week to D day and I really needed to get something done. I am always a bit overwhelmed by the holiday thing. I try every year to simplify and plan ahead better, but I always seem to get in over my head. So last night I thought to myself, let me at least get some of the pies done. I could start my pie crust tonight, chill it overnight, roll out the crust, fill the pies and freeze them in the morning. Than all I would have to do is simply bake them. It’s an okay plan. I have done it before. The pies are not quite as wonderful as freshly made. But I am the only one that seems to notice. Seriously my family is not picky at all; I am the closet “Martha Steward” that has a hard time not doing things perfectly right. So here I am giving into my need for perfection. I even decide I am not going to make my crust the old fashion labor intensive way of my mother's traditional receipe. No, this year I will use the Cuisenaire. A machine I bought just a year ago, and have only used twice. I have more frustration with getting the thing to work than if I would simply just cut the pastry by hand. But this time I say to myself I am going to conquer this baby. So I use my mother’s standard Crisco recipe, and decide I am going to try it in the Cuisenaire. Who says I have to use Martha's or Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. I will just keep some of my tradition. So I am pulsing away, making batch after batch of crust, wrapping it, and chilling it. Then I think to myself, maybe I can get my husband to give me a quick hand with the apples and I will really be ahead of the gang. So my wonderful husband, who never ever really refuse my pleas of help shows up and does the apples for me with our handy dandy apple peeler, corer contraption. Now I am thinking this is such a great idea. Maybe I will even tackle the walnut pies, and pumpkin pies in the morning and have all my baking done. So I look at the clock and it is 11:00 pm when I finally have two apple pies all assembled and ready to go into the freezer. For some reason the pie crust was hard to work with, it kept falling apart. It must be that stupid machine. I start cleaning up and I take a taste of the left over pie crust. Hmmmm that tasted a bit weird...another bit, yuck! What is wrong? It tasted rancid....oh no. I look at the date on the Crisco container. Used best buy Sept. 2007. I can't believe it. Who ever thought Crisco could go rancid. Not me apparently. Now what? I decide to disassemble the pies, rip off the top crust. Pour out the filling and save it. Throw all the crust away. I had made four batches of this stuff. I look around the kitchen and it is a complete disaster. Did I mention my husband is usually the clean up crew too? He is now sound asleep. Okay, think, mmmm no Crisco, but I do have butter. Well maybe good old Martha will have to come to the rescue. I start making crust with a recipe of hers I have never tried, but was made for the food processor. So I make the first batch, a little too soft, but I will chill it. Great thing about her recipe, it was for a double batch, so I only had to do two batches. By now though I just want those blasted pies done so I can get to bed. So by about 12:30 I have the pies done, wrapped and put in the freezer. I take a look around my kitchen and shame on me I cannot do another thing. So I leave the whole mess and head to bed, (I am really pooped) hoping Dan will be the great guy that he is and do the kitchen for me in the morning.

The next day I wake up thinking clean kitchen, clean kitchen, please a clean kitchen. Turns out Dan didn't even make it into the kitchen; he just headed straight to work this morning. He is really a great guy, he would have done it. He doesn't cook a single thing, but the man is great for coming in behind me, and bailing me out of my messes. I am a great big slob when I cook; I like to think of myself as a creative force in the kitchen. I just get so carried away. ;>) Now I am faced with my great big mess, and plans to have gotten all my shopping done today. Well, I am thinking if I get this mess all cleaned up I will still at some point have to make more pies and repeat the disaster. I determinedly decide at 9:30 I am baking pies! Two and a half hours later, I finally have two pumpkin, and two walnut pies all done, wrapped and in the freezer. I am again pooped. Well, do I stop to clean up and face not having the energy to go food shopping, plus eight billion other errands? Or do I push through the day and clean up when I get home.

I opt to go out and return to the disaster later. I do put the garbage away, and most of the dishes in the sink, but the flour is flung here there and everywhere, and the dish washer is full of clean dishes. Well to finally put an end to this loooooong story. I don’t get home till 5:45 and when I walk in the door, my kitchen is clean and hubby is getting all the groceries in from the car for me and helping me put stuff away. I did opt for some quick pizzas to pop in the oven from the grocery store for dinner. So no more mess for one day anyway.

Moral of the story is, I am a messy cook, things do go wrong, but my husband is a knight in shinning armor even if he has never cooked a meal. Kind of like my own Mr. Clean. Those pies are all made tucked in the freezer. I hope the rest of my holiday plans go a little smoother. But no matter what my man Dan will be there to help me through my tasks. We make a good team after 30 years of life together. Thanks Dan for the great rescue today!

I hope you are all having better luck at executing your holiday plans than I am ;>)

Monday, November 12, 2007

My favorite kind of garden? Part I

A question I was asking another gardener friend, what is your favorite kind of garden? Hmmmm I thought what would my answer be?

I started this blog with a desire to share some of my passion about gardening. I have experienced some of the most magical moments of my life in a garden . I am obviously a visual person, and what I see impacts me a great deal. Some of my very first memories have to do with gardens. I remember seeing daffodils blooming in spring outside my back porch when I was fairly young. I was fascinated by their bright yellow colors popping up in the middle of our cold, wet, slushy New England springs. My Italian grandmother lived with us and all of the gardens around the house were a result of her green thumb. My first memories of her gardens forever remain vivid in my mind. She had a lovely circler rock garden with ground phlox, and hens & chickens on the south side of our house. All along one side border in the back of our yard were pansies. I remember walking up and down that border intently studying all the pansy faces. Each one its own little piece of art work. On the back east side of the house I remember her gladiolas. They were her favorite. Mom thought them old fashion, but on the back east side of my new home, I am growing gladiolas! Some of my very first memories are of the back of my grandmother’s chubby knees as she bent over her tomato plants with her house dress on and her apron tied around her waist, collecting the fruit of her labors, sometimes in the bowl of her apron. New England itself presented all kinds of garden wonders for me to explore. Across the street was a stand of very old lilac bushes where we literally played fort in the midst of heaven sent laden branches, swaying back and forth in the breeze as we climbed in them. In the spring while waiting for the bus to come, across from our bus stop was a little forest carpeted with violets growing wild. I remember picking great bunches of them to my utter delight. My other spring favorite was the neighbors Lily of the Valley patch. We were allowed to pick one sprig to carry with us and sniff all day long. These memories were all before the age of 6.

After we moved just a few blocks away, I started noticing gardens a bit further a field. When we would walk to the corner grocery store for our candy bars, and ice cream I would notice all the gardens along the way. Some of the gardens were lavish and formal, and others ordinary and plain. The ones that caught my attention over and over again though were the gardens that were tended by little old ladies it seemed, with lots of lush flowers spilling out in every direction, in every season.

So to this day in every garden I have ever owned, (four) I have planted daffodils, lily of the valley, lilac, pansy's and at last my grandmothers gladiolas. So I think one of my favorite gardens, is the one in my minds eye of the memories and the heavenly scents of days gone by.

Here are some pictures of my previous garden, that seemed to become the embodiment of those memories.
North Side Garden

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Great Auntie Christina Visit

It was so great to finally have my sister here for a visit. From the moment she arrived it was all about Puddin Toes. We literally sat around all weekend focused on the baby. We had so much fun holding her, changing her diaper, bathing her, dressing her....It went on and on.
So here is yet, another excuse to post pictures of my grandaughter.
I totally understand how boring this must be to everyone else on the planet but me! ;>)
First we had to take her cloths off, so Aunty could count her toes!

Than Uncle Pat had to hold her and inspect the babe Baby falls asleep all tuckered out Can't be woken up ;>)

Bath time!

Cute Puddin Toes, loved her bath
Ain't she sweet!

I must say it was a very special weekend. My sister finally with us and the baby, three generations of women from my family gathered to welcome Eden, and loving every moment we were together. Thinking about little Eden being the first member of the next generation. I couldn't help but think of my mom and how she would have loved to have been there with all of us. She was there in spirit though. As we bonded and loved this past weekend as only women can do. I knew deep inside that this was in fact the results of my mother having shared with us the gift of her life and her heart so fully. We were just simply carrying on the gifts of love from the generations that had gone before us.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Trust Me!

This is it! The essential holiday dessert. You just need five simple ingredients in your pantry for tis the season. This wonderful chocolate bomb can be whipped up in quick order, from start to finish in just 30 minutes. It is so easy I can make it while visiting with guests after dinner, and serve it piping hot from the oven, with class and ease. What am I talking about?


Served with a simple scoop of your very favorite vanilla ice-cream and this does deserve the best. Use some elegant little spoons, because you want to slowly savor each little delicious chocolate laden spoonful. Warm, chocolate, rich and gooey! Kind of like a hot fudge cake, but better! Crispy on the edges, molten chocolate on the inside.

Recipe by Nigella Lawson:

Melt: over a double boiler gently, ¾ cups of semi sweet choc chips and 1 stick of soft butter (keep and eye on it, stirring) than set aside to cool

Mix: with a beater, 2 eggs, ¾ cup of sugar, 3 Tlb. of flour, I add the flour at the end

Than slowly add cooled chocolate mixture. Pour into 4 ramekins

Bake 400 for 20 minutes.

I double the recipe easily and can make smaller servings, just cut down on your baking time a little. I have served this 3x now, and I have decided 3x makes it a charm for sure.

I thought it would be fun to share. If you try it, let me know. I would love to hear your feed back. Everyone I have served it to so far loves it.
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