Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trip to Lake George

Ready for the water slide.  Verdict...AWESOME!

Grand daughter liked the faster slide.
The slower one was fine for me.

We also visited a garnet mine.




Lake George public beach--quiet in the afternoon.

We had a fun three days and two nights in Lake George.  I took the kids and their mom stayed home and painted and cleaned although she would have enjoyed going to the lake as well.  Moms have to choose the responsible things and grandmas can have the fun.  It really was a fun time.  

The kids wondered why Mike didn't come with us.  I had to ask if they really thought they would have got to spend six and half hours at Water Slide World if it had been up to Mike.  He had fun, too, enjoying his quiet time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

Irene swished her cape over Vermont yesterday.  We didn't have the terrible winds that were predicted, but it sure enough did rain.  Fortunately for us, we live high on a sandy hill so we are not flooded.  Unfortunately for those who are along the river beds, there was a great deal of flooding elsewhere.  We had stocked up on food and water when it became apparent we would not be making our planned trip to Rhode Island, which was a good thing since so many roads are closed.  We didn't have a power outage, but that is a wide spread problem to the south of us.  I am anxious to get in touch with my daughter because they are in flood and power outage central.
I went out for my walk this afternoon, and, honestly, you would not know the area is under a state of emergency within my usual route--except that I was asked by passing motorists how to get there from here with all the closed roads.  Not easily, maybe wait til tomorrow if you can--that's about all I could offer.

My thoughts are with all those who were in the path of this storm.  Hope all is well.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Amy

August Birthstone - Peridot
August Birthstone - Peridot

It's hard to believe that thirty-eight years have gone by.

 
Now my baby girl has babies of her own.  Just a couple of weeks ago she asked why I hadn't told her that having kids was so hard.  (Payback, I replied)

But, of course, she has two delightful children to light up her life and keep their old granny feeling happy.

Happy Birthday, Amykins.  I love you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Herb Lady


Some where...and I have completely forgotten where exactly...creeping decrepitude is set on getting me...some where I was reading about the phrase "cat-lady crazy."
Now I loved my cat to pieces, but I am in no danger of becoming a cat lady--crazy or otherwise.  I was, am, and shall remain a one cat kind of person.  Sure, it's possible that I'll get to a point where I don't remember this rule I've made for myself and I'll be tempted by a cute little kitten face, but I think it most unlikely that I would adopt cats willy-nilly.  That's just not in my make-up.
I mean, the cat part is not in my make-up.  I am afraid the crazy part just might be a part of my DNA.
Actually, I can see myself becoming a bit of a crazy herb lady.

[Oh, wait!  I do remember.  It was Chris Bohjalian's column in a Sunday Burlington Free Press.  See.  A little crazy, but not completely senile just yet!  I take my little victories where I can these days.]

Since I had to cut back on salt I have been more and more interested in spices and herbs.  I like the sensual quality--the aromas, the tastes, the visual bling-- they add to the whole process of cooking and eating.  Right now, I am into thyme--as in carrots and onions cooked and then glazed with butter, honey and thyme. I also mix basil, oregano, thyme and a pinch of rosemary to season fresh green beans drizzled with olive oil.  An herb butter of thyme and freshly ground mixed pepper corns on corn on the cob...mmm...heaven.  Perhaps it will surprise no one to hear that Mike doesn't eat any of that stuff.

And, I'll admit, herbs are my most successful garden yields.  The @#$%&* woodchuck does not seem to enjoy munching herbs.  I have abundant thyme, chives, sage, mint and lavender that grows each year.  I plant parsley, Greek oregano. marjoram, and rosemary annually.  The only thing that bolts on me --or gets eaten by bugs-- is basil.  Basil is abundant in the field of the farm market where I stop.  There must be some thing that I have yet to learn about growing basil.  That's nice--to have new things to learn.  I get put-off my Know-It-Alls.

I made a nice bathroom cleaner out of grapefruit oil and rosemary, which is said to have antiseptic qualities.  It smells better than chemicals.  I also just bought some Suave shampoo that is rosemary and mint and it is absolutely heavenly to use.  Of course, my hair is still my hair.  Nothing tames that into submission for long.  But I'm adjusted to that and it's untamed fuzziness kind of lends me the air of a crazy herb lady.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Relaxing

August is the time for relaxation." Designed by Monica Corduneanu from Romania.
A-lazy-august-afternoon in Desktop Wallpaper Calendar: August 2009
One minute August is shouting "Summer!" and the next minute it is "Autumn is coming!"  There has been a noticeable shift in the quality of light and we have started to lose minutes of daylight, but there is still time for a bit of relaxation.

I went out to a movie last night.  We saw The Help.  It has been a while since I read the book, but I recognized scenes and story lines.  I thought it was well done.  Although, I remember the book driving home the idea that the young writer, Skeeter, was forced to learn that she was not the center of the maid's who raised her existence--which kind of brought the concept of racial bias permeating a society beyond just the outward racism of segregation.

I'm planning to take the grand kids for a vacation stay at Lake George next week.  Then I will need some serious relaxation time.  We plan a few days in Rhode Island the following week with Mike's baby sister and baby brother and spouses.  Mike is excited about getting out for some fishing.  I am excited about some fresh lobster and being near the ocean.

This weekend, though, I am devoting to just relaxing.  I have a stack of books that I feel the urge to start tackling.  I have several yards of material waiting for my pattern selection.  These things are demanding my attention more than the garden today.  It's warm and sunny.  I'll be out under the shade of a tree in a comfy lounge chair with my sunglasses on and a tall glass of ice tea by my side.

Enjoy your weekend.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The book goes to...

Susan Adcox who writes about grandparents at About.com had the love/luck of chocolate going for her name in my hat.    So, Susan, e-mail me an address and I will send you Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life as part of the Pass-the-Book.  And check out Sian's blog--High in the Sky--to get the full rundown on how it all works.  The author is way too young to be a grandparent, but she has an interesting blog and some good recipes.

***********
Mike has surprised me big time!  He has cut way, way back on salt.  I never thought he would even try.  Here is a man who put liberal shakes of salt on pepperoni pizza, sausage, Chinese food and tacos.  I guess a night in the hospital made a believer out of him.  And, he is even talking about getting himself a pair of pajamas!

***********
Can you tell how swollen my left big toe is from my graceful tumble down the stairs several weeks ago?
I have not been able to wear sandals with a thong--my typical footwear--and maybe that is just as well.  I haven't been out shopping for old lady shoes yet, but I have been wearing boat shoes.  Also, while it doesn't hurt terribly when I am out walking, I must favor it somewhat because my right knee has been bothering me.  I should not complain--what with the serious kinds of medical problems elsewhere in the family.  Still, it makes me cranky to have these little reminders of creeping decrepitude.

***********

You do know that they have to provide those toddler play areas at fast food restaurants because there is something about the food that makes kids super-duper hyper.  I'm not just making this up...well, sort of, but I do believe it's the truth.                                     

Around the age of ten or so, fast food starts to have quite the opposite effect, leaving kids logy and adults bloated.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Moon


I missed the meteor shower the other night, but I did get to see the full moon rising last night as I put the grand kids to bed.  That was good for "one more" hop out of bed to see.

My daughter and her husband were planning to drop the kids off at noon and go to the Stowe car show.  Her car broke down (timing belt problem) on the way and they had to get it towed, then get home to take his car, the Mister Cruiser, a honking big 60's Mercury.  The kids arrived here around 3 p.m. and then daughter and son-in-law went on to Stowe, where his car broke down.  Not a good day for them.

I drove to Stowe today to get them and take them to Burlington where they could get a car rental for the trip home.  I do wish life was a bit easier for my children, but I seem to have misplaced my magic wand.

Pass-the-book is coming soon.  Let me know if you want your name in the hat for A Homemade Life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunflower Days


Related to my last post...the feeling that summer is ending is much less of a moodiness trigger now that I have been retired for several years.  I always had trouble readjusting my routines both at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end of the school year.  Now the changing of the seasons just reminds me that time marches on and I am getting older and then I am over it.  I appreciate that my time is pretty much my own at this phase of my life.  I am aware of the passing of seasons, years, and yet can feel like I am much more in the moment.  It was the right thing for me.

I have just finished reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I found it to be a very satisfying book--much like a well-prepared meal paired with the appropriate wine.  It's a long book, over 650 pages.  The fact that the story did not tax my attention span speaks volumes.

Lately, my list of books to read has grown quite lengthy.  That's another thing about retirement.  The time will fill up.  I honestly don't remember how I got tings done while working eight hours a day.  I do remember I usually managed to get dressed before 9 a.m. though.

I am thanking Betty at A Piece of My Mind for letting me know that copying a recipe is not generally a copyright infringement.  Which reminds me, I am still talking names of anyone interested in Pass-the-Book's
A Homemade Life.  Just leave a comment.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Subtle Changes

Just a couple of weeks ago we sat on the deck and admired the green, green, green of summer in Vermont.  Alas, already it is changing.  Warm temperatures are still predicted for the weekend, but the signs are there.  Trees are starting to become tinged with yellow.  The setting sun has moved to the south and says its "good-night" much earlier.  There is a chill in the night air that just was not there a while ago.  The crickets are full on
singing.  There is definitely a while to go before summer is over, but the signs of its fading are upon us.

Autumn in Vermont is a beautiful season, but there is something about the transition period that has always left me feeling melancholy.  Here, winter settles in like ursine hibernation.  Spring slithers chameleon-like between winter and summer.   Summer arrives like one of those choreographed flash dances.  I guess it is the only season that gives warning.  That bothers me.

Most Northerners are hardest hit with  Seasonal Affective Disorder in March.  That is certainly the time that sees the  highest suicide rate here.  Me, I always get the blues in mid August.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chocolate

When Mike was 11 years old he had "the best chocolate cake ever" at a friend's house.  He asked the friend's mother for the recipe so his mom could make it home.  Isn't that cute?

His mom gave me that recipe, but I could never earn the "Best Cake Ever" status.  My cakes all tend to be slightly on the dry side.  A friend of mine has used the exact same recipe and gets marvelous, moist cake so I don't entirely get it.

Anyway..."Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze" is a recipe from A Homemade Life.  (Make a comment and I could be sending it to you soon!)  Mike is in love with me all over again.  These were a major hit.  Like I said, if you get a craving for chocolate, this will fill the bill.

Now, the very last recipe in the book is also for a chocolate cake that comes with instruction that it should not be served to someone your feel just so-so about.  It is for when you want to get some one's full attention.

Hmm...lots of chocolate, lots of butter, sugar and eggs, a teeny bit of flour.  It's called the "Winning Hearts and Minds Cake."  Do I even dare??

Oh, and I don't feel free to copy out these recipes for fear of copyright infringement, but check out the author's blog: orangette.blogspot.com...or make a comment to be next in Pass-the-Book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pass the Book

A Homemade Life: stories and recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg is about to be passed to another lucky blogger.

I am reluctant to Pass-the-Book, but pass it along I must.

It was a very enjoyable read and you may want to check out the author's blog at orangette.blogspot.com.
It's just that I have not cooked my way through it yet.  I guess I will just have to spring for a copy of my very own.

The very first recipe is for a humble old potato salad.  I love potato salad anyway, but I tried the recipe and it was to-die-for tasty. There is a 'secret'  ingredient.  Thankfully, I halved the recipe knowing I would eat the whole thing myself.  I had trouble not downing the entire batch in one go.  It calls my name still.

I learned this method of making a hard-boiled egg:  Place the egg(s) in a pan and cover with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and cover the pan.  Let stand for exactly 12 minutes, then rinse in cold water.  Perfection.

So, I will pass it, just not yet.  I'll try to pique some interest over the next week and pull a name from hat next Monday.   If potato salad has you hooked already, leave a comment and your name goes in the hat.  Every time I mention A Homemade Life in a post, you can make a comment and get your name in the hat.

***Having trouble posting this ????  ACK!

I, of course, had to try the French toast after the ode to real maple syrup that preceded it.

Okay, and I admit it.  I tried one of the chocolate cake recipes (there are two).  The chocolate finger smudges  on page 44 are mine.  Sorry to the next reader and sorry to Sian, who actually owns the book.  If you ever get a craving for chocolate, this will fix you right up.  The directions said oven at 300 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  I was skeptical about that and it take a full 50 minutes before a toothpick came out even close to clean, but no matter.  It was chocolate on chocolate on chocolate.  Hard to go wrong there.

I thank Margaret for passing the book to me.  I especially thank Sian for starting a Pass-the-Book.  If you'd like to participate, please read about the whole concept here.

And if you would like to be the one to whom I pass A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, leave a comment.  You could be the lucky one--it's a name from a hat thing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Phone Call

Last Thursday, Mike left for an appointment with the kidney specialist at 10 a.m.  He had his blood work done the day before.  It was supposed to be a fairly routine visit, I thought.  At noon, I got a phone call from him.  He was sitting in the emergency room at the hospital where the specialist had sent him.

This is not the kind of phone call I enjoy getting.

Two hours later, he called to say that they were going to keep in the hospital overnight.  The doctor took his blood pressure--very high--and a pulse--racing like crazy.  (Although Mike says he had no symptoms, no idea that his heart was beating nearly out of his chest.)

Four hours after that, he called once again to let me know he was finally in a room.  Six hours sitting in the emergency room staring at the walls, no food, nothing to drink--I'm sure that helped the blood pressure situation.  Plenty of nurses, though, all looking for veins to hook up IV's and whatnot.  Let's hope that cures him if his sexy nurse fantasies. The plan is to use medication to adjust the heart rate and that will take some tinkering through the night and maybe through another day.

"Don't worry.  It's nothing to worry about," he says.  He finally returned home on Friday at 7 at night.

Late middle age, he was coming to understand, was a time of life when everything was predictable and yet somehow you failed to see any of it coming.  Jack Griffin from That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

P.S.  He is doing well, but taking lots more medication,though.  Atrial fibrillation.  Salt is leaving our table--for the sake of hearts and a kidney.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Shots

This sunflower grew from a dropped seed from the bird feeder.
Next summer, I may just plant a whole row along the deck.


Cherry tomatoes are ripening.  Sweet.
Cherry tomatoes, Italian peppers and herbs are from my garden.
So fresh tasting.  I love summer food.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food for Thought

This article from Everyday Health lists five foods to avoid if one suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder:
Caffeine
Alcohol
Sugar
Salt
Fat
They are all likely to impact mood swings according to this report.

Well, thank goodness I do not have that disorder.  If I had to give up those things, my mood would be pretty stable, though--dark, dreary and miserable, but stable that way.

I can say that I am most grateful that I have few restriction on my daily diet.

I am also grateful that I can afford (at least for now) to eat a variety of foods.  According to an Associated Press article in our newspaper this morning:

"People who spend the most on food get the closest meeting federal guidelines for potassium, dietary fiber, Vitamin D and calcium...Those who spend the least have the lowest intakes of the four recommended nutrients and the highest consumption of saturated fat and added sugar."
The point being made was that too many people cannot afford to follow the new U.S. nutritional guidelines as advertised by a plate of salmon, leafy green vegetable, and rice pilaf.

I guess that has to mean wild caught Alaskan salmon, organic kale, and some exotic blend of rice and spices.

Because I don't really believe most people can't have a fairly balanced and nutritious diet on a reasonable budget.

I mean, there an awful lot of high-priced junk food and processed foods to be had in any American supermarket--even the "health food" places.  It's not just about money.  Time, traditions, values, choices, motivation, and good old appetite all enter into it.

I got my book, A Homemade Life, today and I have already read a third of the way through.  In case any one is wondering why I seem a bit food obsessed today.

Speaking of...supper last night was rustic olive and roasted red pepper pizza done on the grill.  The topping was a chopped mix of black olives, garlic, a couple of anchovies (seriously), and roasted red pepper topped with mozzarella cheese.  I'm not Italian, but sometimes I play one in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Clearing Out

Today's garden work involved pruning.  I gave a pretty severe trimming to the lavender in the flower garden and to the spirea in the side yard.  I pruned out the four lilac bushes and snipped off some sucker branches from the two crab apple trees.  Now I have a large pile to haul off to the stump dump tomorrow.
Actually, I was quite restrained.

 I have been known to go a little overboard with loppers and a trimming saw, but I haven't actually killed any of the hedges and bushes.  The vegetation around here is pretty forgiving.

I am also working on my annual clear out the storage areas.  Mike put a lot of stuff up on e-bay and made some good money.  He knows about certain antiques and values so he can do that.  I just give stuff to the Salvation Army or the Clutter Barn.  The funny thing is we have yet to notice big expanses of cleared out space.  Strange about that.

I recently read a magazine article about clearing people out of your life--people who are not your friends anymore or are hurtful to you in some way.  That's not quite as easy as pruning branches or packing up boxes. A bit more painful...unless, of course,  the saw slips.

Now, if I dared to climb twenty feet up into this tree with a chain saw to cull out the dead branches...

but I do, on occasion show good sense.  Of course there is always a professional tree company that could take care of this but some of would rather let nature take its course.  I just hope no one is under the tree when the next big branch comes down...that's all I'm saying,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Links, not golf

If you really want to know about an ironing mitt, you can check it out here.  I have used one when sewing and need to tame a seam, but it is certainly something most people can live without.

I spent time in Bed, Bath and Beyond today--looking at sheets.  Like everything else, they have gotten rather expensive.  I couldn't find the perfect sheets so it was just wasted time I guess.  I am determined to not buy until I find the sheets of my dreams.

Today, I found out that I actually won something.  It was a pass the book contest, and the book is A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.   I'm getting the book from Margaret Finnegan, but the force behind the pass the book contest is at this site: High in the Sky.