Monday, January 30, 2012

A girl can dream, No formalities here, I think it's the latter

1. Along my travels I spot a little store front for rent and think what a perfect bakery it would make. I can almost smell the coffee...
2. "You don't need to knock or ring the bell. Just come in!"
3. The stars shine like brilliant white diamonds in a black velvet sky. Do they appear brighter because the sky is blacker or is the sky blacker because they are brighter?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smells good!, You go, It's a hit

1. I left dinner roasting in the oven while we were at church. The aroma of pork roast, garlic and basil has enticed son-in-law to peek in the oven before I've returned. He's very excited about his find and happily admits he peeked.
2. We all feel bad that she has left the table upset. We discuss who should go after her and the boyfriend volunteers. He finishes eating first (ha, ha). He rises and bravely says to give him twelve minutes with her. We all glance at the clock to make a note of it.
3. Hot fudge cake with French vanilla ice cream satisfies our chocolate-sweet cravings.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Beekeeping 101, What's inside?, Feeling pretty darn special

1. I'm learning something new. Something big and new. I was a student today. This is exciting!
1.a. #4 is  taking classes with me and we're on an adventure together. It reminds me of the good old days of home schooling... only better.
2.There's something appealing about a boxed lunch. Tidily packed into a box and not a bag, each item in its own little paper wrapping, sandwich, sides, condiments and dessert, napkin at the bottom. Each of us with our own box : ). The best part is that I didn't prepare it.
3. Daughter#2 is happy that both her husband and her dad are accompanying her to the concert. I'm on the phone with her when she learns this news and I sense that she is quietly clapping her hands.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

4000 miles, Winter salad, MacGyver

1. My little friend was napping when a far-away friend phoned. The timing couldn't have been better and we were allowed a nice, long chat that ended with, "I'll see you in March!".
2. I'm addicted to this wonderful salad. I've eaten one for lunch every day this week. (My only adjustment is to substitute toasted pecans for the sesame seeds and pine nuts since I already have them on hand.)
3. Poor husband! He kept the old dryer working for 30 years and now the new one is already acting up. Turns out that wire from a burnt-out set of Christmas lights comes in handy when you need it : ) Which backs up his argument for hording electrical junk.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scrabble tiles, Climbing Mt. Ironing, A sad song revisited

1. Ghosts of little girls, tucked away in the lids of board games, come out to play Scrabble.
2. The ironing basket is empty! It had been very, very full.
3. She likes to play the piano after dinner and I have music to wash dishes by. No matter how often I hear this song, it makes me sad in a good way. She's rehearsing it again in order to perform it for the arranger, Philip Keveren, at a concert in April.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here comes the sun!, Leave it for spring?, We can relate

1. Today's sunshine would have been glorious without the previous week's rain, but the contrast made it that much sweeter.
2. Henri and I walked the back roads, soaking up every bit of the mild day.
3. I untangled the Christmas lights from our crab apple tree. When I returned with the ladder, I saw that the  colored bulbs sparkled in the sun and formed an unusual bird's nest where I had stuck a ball of it into the crook of a branch.
4. A line from a sit-com, "Oh my gosh! It's 7:40 microwave time!". Tess and I cracked up because we go through this every morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Favorite bird, Coffee time, Is that...?!

photo courtesy
"If you want to know his heart, listen. Listen to the bluebird sing."

 1. A flash of neon blue catches my eye and I spot one of our bluebirds. Not often seen back home in New York, they frequent our yard year round in Virginia. They are sweet, gentle birds who mate for life. Here is a beautiful song from Robin Trower.
2. I love my coffee visits with B. Hours slip by and we discuss any old topic that comes to mind, sharing opinions and ideas.
2.a. Those extra two cups gave me an energy boost this afternoon!
3. I chuckle to hear the guys' exclamations and laughter coming up from the basement during Monday night pool nights. Especially the normally quiet men who end up chattering away and even shouting.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A favorite lunch, Color saturated, In my notes

1.Sweet Italian sausage is one of my favorite foods. In the summer I grill it and we eat it on a hard roll topped with peppers and onions that have been sautéed in olive oil. In the winter, I bake the sausage, slice it up and then mix it in with the peppers and onions. 
2. It's been rainy and drizzling for what seems like days. The bark on all the trees is saturated to their darkest browns. An old Black Walnut is covered from bottom to top with green lichen.
3. A quote from our pastor this morning that is good advice : "Money is a great tool, but it's a lousy god."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Coming home, Vander's nose, What treasure can we find?

1. I've been alone for almost 24 hours, an unusual and significant occurrence for me. In the afternoon I make the drive to pick up my family from here and there, gathering up precious belongings that have been scattered all about.
2. The horse lips up the apple pieces from my hand, eagerly snuffling my palm with his velvety nose.
3. With an hour to wait, we poke around the antique mall. I haven't done this for ages which makes it even more fun! I find a cut glass coaster with a silver rim to put by my reading chair.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thoughtful, Switchplates on, Exhilarating!

1. She hands me a book and says, "I stopped at the store for horse grain and saw this and thought you might like it."
2. Sweeping up, putting things back in their place and gaining back some order.
3. The audience is rowdy and the hockey players are in great form. Their movements are swift and seemingly reckless, although I know they're in (almost) complete control. Virginia Tech. classmates pound on the Plexiglas, hockey pucks fly through the air, fans boo every penalty and people dance during half time. All for five bucks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's finished!, Warmth, Communicating

The view of framing done last summer.
 1. To avoid the mud, I park below and trudge up the field toward our new church. A huge bonfire burns debris, scattering ash like snow flurries. Blustering wind challenges my balance as I climb over the silt fence and then over a guide wire held in place with re-bar. Inside, the contrast is remarkable and the word sanctuary is apropos.
2. A hot water bottle at my feet finally warms me up.
3. My sister and I type some messages back and forth, back and forth. This is tiresome, so I pick up the phone and call her. Much better!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shelter, The weather game, Save it for last?

Cedar timbers are the supports of the run-in shed.

1. The run-in shed is peaceful and calm with every good smell of earth, hay, wood, and horses.

2. Fickle weather acts the part of spring today. Each day, mother nature surprises us with her mood. I like the challenge of keeping up.

3. A glace cherry in the center of each cookie makes it hard to decide which bite should have it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cedar log, At the rink, Pass the napkins

1. It tells a story and I wish I knew how to read it. Touching the rings, I imagine storms and winds, sunshine and snow.
The first slice on new ice.
 2. It's a funny thing about kids on a merry-go-round or skating 'round an ice rink- every time you wave to them, they wave back : )
3. I think they're dipped in fake butter. That's why the pretzels from Auntie Anne's taste so good.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A gem, A great bunch of kids, One particularly great kid

1. A surprise I found at the bottom of the washing machine. #3 found it on the ground and pocketed it; now it is my little treasure.
2. Overheard above the din in our basement as the teen youth group enjoys a game night, "I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! WeeeeHoo!" 
3. I'm awakened just after midnight to #4 climbing into bed with me. Unable to sleep from those kinds of things that trouble fifteen-year-olds, I groggily talk to her and then we doze off. When I wake again, she is gone.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A child was born, Hang to dry, Beef pot pie

1. Daughter #2 turns twenty-five today. Born in Portsmouth, NH, we named her Chelsea, meaning "port of ships".  Steve and I lie in bed, talking quietly about earlier days and our daughters' beginnings. How can it be so long ago and yet, seem like only yesterday...

2. The wood stove burns all day in the basement making it warm and toasty for laundry duties.
3. Dinner is made of 'found' items from the fridge. He adds his 'found' item- a bottle of wine.

Hammering wind, from Chocolate Paper, 1902

1. I'm properly bundled for the bitter cold, but the wind catches me off guard. My mind reels for a moment when a gust smashes into me, wondering, what does one do if the wind blows the body over? Do I relax and go with it or fight to stay standing?
2. I ate the last two chocolates. One was sea salt caramel and I wished there were more.
3. Enjoying another indulgence, the BBC mini-series, Berkeley Square. Perfect for long, dark, cold winter evenings. I imagine how I would handle myself if I were that nanny. I relate better to the nannies and servants rather than the lady of the house.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter project, Visitors from the north, Cat nap

1. I like to have a "project" after the holidays; something to look forward to. So, I'm painting the master bathroom. Daughter #3 asks what color I'm painting it. I say, "White". She asks me what color is it now? I tell her it's white. "But it's a different shade of white", I add. She rolls her eyes. Later Daughter #1 phones. I tell her I'm painting the bathroom- white. She asks me if I've started it yet. "Only the ceiling", I say. "Well then, it's not too late to change your mind and paint it a color", she says with a hopeful note in her voice.
I'm sticking with white.

2. Robins have a jolly time finding something to eat on the hill outside the window.
3. I nod off in my reading chair for a few minutes and wake up feeling refreshed. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat lately.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Better than a candle, With pink sprinkles, Experience

1. Scents of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, brown sugar and molasses fill the house from the cookies baking in the oven.
2. The fabric I chose for my apron reminds her of cupcakes. She doesn't know I finished sewing it, so I stashed it away until the next time I bake cupcakes.
3. I phoned an acquaintance who used to keep bees and we had a nice chat. She's been thinking of getting back into beekeeping and she was glad for my phone call.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Form and function, Reflections, Pasta and beans

1. Over the holidays, Steve built a tray that enables us to use our over-sized ottoman as a table of sorts. The sides are made from scraps of Black Walnut that came from a tree J. gave us. (The bulk of the tree is destined to become a table.) The bottom is from a scrap of thin, painted plywood.
2. Her teacher encouraged her to submit a photograph in the contest and it was granted first prize. It's a default win because no one else submitted an entry in the photography division.(?!) Still, it's a beautiful photograph and she's excited because it comes with a "cash prize". Kids...
3. I cooked one of my favorite winter soups, Pasta Fagioli. In our household, it's pronounced pastafazool.  It's hearty peasant food at its best! Be warned, this recipe makes a lot. Don't forget some nice crusty bread on the side.

Pasta E Fagioli
 3 Tbl. olive oil
3 to 4 oz. pancetta, chopped  (you get this at the deli)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 c (about 14 oz.) dried cranberry, borlotti, cannelloni or other small white beans, soaked
            overnight in water to cover, drained and rinsed
*I use 2 cans of canned cannelloni
1 ½ c. diced canned plum tomatoes with juices
8 c. water or chicken broth  (I used vegetable broth)
½ pound small shells, ditalini or other small pasta shape (2 cups dry)
extra virgin olive oil for serving
grated Parmesan for serving

In a large soup kettle, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it renders its fat and is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the soaked beans (or canned), the tomatoes with juices, 8 cups broth and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.

To give the soup more body, remove 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of beans and vegetables, place in a blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta separately, drain and add to the soup. Simmer about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a liberal dusting of black pepper. Serve at once.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just one more, May I sit here?, How long have you lived here?

1. Goofing around in the kitchen, I discover that a buttered marshmallow tastes really good! #3 says there's just something wrong about that; like a chocolate covered Oreo or fried butter.
2. One old timer has been beekeeping since 1939. His comments are full of first-hand knowledge which he shares matter-of-factly. Everyone is extremely friendly and helpful.
3. We're crowded into the "living room" of our small, local historical museum. We sit side-by-side with the mannequins who are dressed in old-fashioned black satin and bonnets and who look a little creepy.
3a. Sometimes life casts us in quirky situations. I look around to check if it's real or if I'm imagining it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunny Sunday

 I had to sneak up so I wouldn't disturb them.
Vander's fluffy winter coat. I want to bury my fingers in it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I organize before I organize, Great story, Taking a sick day even though I'm fine

1. A.A.Milne speaks to my heart:

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up"

2. I finished another amazing book, The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. Entirely different than the last book I read; that's the beauty of reading.
3. Stayed in sweats, didn't fix my hair, wore no make-up and went no farther than the mailbox.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Eye candy, Out in shirtsleeves, Delicious!

1. Shiny red, white and blue garlands of aluminum tinsel are strung around the complete perimeter of a block-long car dealership. It flutters wildly in the wind, changing it from tacky to eye pleasing and creates a party atmosphere at the busy intersection.
2. Temperatures gently climbed into the 60's and I was surprised how warm the sun felt on my skin. I was tempted to take a shovel to the garden... if only I had more time.
3. Our favorite fish recipe for dinner. This comes from Better Homes and Gardens Best-Loved Community Recipes. I used cod fillets since they are more readily available in our stores. Really, really good!


Read more about it at,1827,158178-240196,00.html
Content Copyright © 2012 - All rights reserved.
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. butter, softened
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. chopped scallions
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of Tabasco sauce
2 lbs. sole fillets (or any fresh white fish)
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine cheese, butter, mayonnaise, scallions, salt and Tabasco. Set aside. Place fish fillets in a single layer on rack of broiling pan. Brush with lemon juice and let sit 10 minutes. Broil fillets 3 to 4 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until almost done. Spread with cheese mixture and broil 2 to 3 minutes longer, until topping turns golden and fish barely begins to flake. Serves 6.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cleaning up, Tottensea Landing, With big egg noodles

1. Began the "taking down" of Christmas which always lead to the "cleaning up" afterward. It feels good!
2. Completely enjoyed reading Tottensea Landing by Dale C. Willard. I've written more about this clever and entertaining novel over at my other blog- here!
3. Homemade chicken soup and garlic bread made a satisfying winter's meal.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another one I can check off my list, Stock up, Love

1. I tried a new Oatmeal Cookie recipe that finally got it right! A nice thick cookie with the right chewy texture I've been searching for. I toasted the walnuts, as recommended, and used raisins. These are perfect and my quest has ended.
2. The market had grocery carts full of clearance items set up. Some of it was quite useful, like canned pumpkin with two years of shelf life still left, priced at 39¢.
3. The heart of the home (the kitchen) is back to work pouring out good smells. I think it's nice to return home after being out all day at work or school in this cold and blustery weather and be greeted with such welcoming goodness. Although I'm rarely on the receiving end of this scenario nowadays, it's how I remember it from childhood. My mom and dad used to laugh when I would clap my hands at being presented dinner. I didn't think about clapping, it just bubbled up that way : )

Monday, January 2, 2012

What to do, Looking out, A gift from W. & K.

1. Wandering about the house in a state of flux. Not quite sure what to do with the day, but too tired to do anything much. I sit by the wood stove and stare into the fire. I found it. This is what I aspire to today and it is good.
2. Winter has followed us home. Blustery snow squalls fill the sky and there are finally white patches on the ground. A good chunk of the day is spent reading by the window.
3. We have a few visitors today, just enough to make me feel connected to the world. Our neighbor comes in to give us citrus fruit he's brought back from Florida. I huddle a grapefruit to my nose and breath in its wonderful scent.
3.a. Daughters spot the bowl of citrus on the counter and exclaim over its contents. Daughter 3 bags one for her work lunch tomorrow and Daughter 4 eats one immediately.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

There and Back Again

1. New York greets us with blowing snow and darkening skies. She is in character for my return and I dream out the window of skating on frozen ponds and sledding down snow covered hills.
2. The old furnace has been softly rumbling on for sixty winters. At night I can hear it through my pillow, as familiar and comforting as a mother's heartbeat to her child's ear.
3. Her appetite is coaxed back to health with some good, home cooking.
4. By the end of the week the freezer is full of foil wrapped meals, neatly labeled in large block letters identifying the contents.
5. Large dairy farms dot the southern Pennsylvania landscape. Each huge barn is a different design and each farmhouse a testament to years of hard working families. Many of them incorporate a light colored stone in house and barn, making them appear invincible to time.
6. On the highway, we pass the startling scene of an accident only minutes old. People are running from vehicles toward a rolled-over car to help out. Dozens of them frantically swarm around it, tossing baggage aside to free the occupants. While the scene itself is horrific, my throat tightens at the goodness of humanity and the nature of man to run toward danger to help one another.
7. Our beloved mountains. They are not mine by ancestry, but they have adopted me in and I love to see them as we near our Virginia home.