Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Tears, Longsuffering, I Win!

1. She is nine hundred and eighty-five miles away, but very near in my thoughts. Tomorrow she is finished. My emotions run high and I can't think about what she's done or I cry. It's all good.
1a. Parents living vicariously through their children is often spoken of in a negative connotation. But I would argue that it is a gift. If we allow our children to make their own path and then we converse with them about their experiences, rejoice with them in their accomplishments and grieve with them in their failures, then they have included us on their journey. One definition of vicariously is: felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others. So, there it is; we have hiked the AT vicariously through our daughter (sister, friend) and it has been amazing. Thank you for letting us come along Chelsea. : )
2. Our thirty-third wedding anniversary is tomorrow. I asked him how he would like to celebrate. He said, "Let's just be happy together." I don't know why, but that totally cracked me up.
3. We played Scrabble. It was quite exciting and dramatic. We had accusations of cheating, demands to Google the rules, one attempt to quit (I had three E's, one I, one A, and a Q with no U), and finger tapping tension. (That was all me. He was perfectly calm) He was in the lead the whole game until I drew the 'U', spelled L-I-Q-U-O-R on a double word score and won. Who-wee, we are just crazy fun here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Save the Tomatoes!, Ripening, Is It Me?

1. Aha! I seized upon the idea and ran out to the garden with a handful of wet paper napkins. I wrapped every tomato that was just beginning to blush with a wet napkin. I read this internet suggestion to prevent the scourge of Mockingbirds that are pecking away at our ripening tomatoes.
2. The dill plants are shoulder high and the flower heads are heavy with seeds. When I walk through them they rattle and brush my arms like heavy beads. I return to the house covered in dill perfume.
3. I thought I was the only one who didn't "get" the movie. Was it over my head? Am I not intellectual enough? I left the room for something better to do. Tess had already made her exit and in a little while Steve quits it as well. I'm glad I wasn't the only one.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hello?, And the Police Thought You Had What?, I Need a Sweater?

1. Mari told her mommy that she wanted to call Nonni (that's me!). She was very talkative for a couple of minutes and told me everything she and Mommy were doing.
2. Two weary but happy campers have had a good night's rest and now they sit at the table while I cook a French Toast breakfast for them. In turn, they tell me their Floyd Fest stories.
3. A stiff breeze blows through the open windows carrying the fresh scent of washed floors all through the house.
3a. I can't believe I'm looking for a sweater to wear on a July afternoon. I want it to be blankety; to cocoon me while I read.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Crazy Happy, Final 100, That Looks Nice

1. A young deer darts back and forth in front of the the horse. It's obviously teasing the horse to come and play. 'C'mon! I dare ya! I dare ya to chase me!" The horse ignores him and just keeps munching grass.
2. She calls one last time before heading into the wilderness. She has made her final resupply. It's almost time to come home...
3. I'm feeling creative on Shutterfly. Now there's a good way to lose four hours of my life. But, oh the possibilities!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Produce & Baked Goods, Putting Up, Daughter #4 and the Dog, Adam Ezra Group

1. The Roanoke Farmer's Market is abundant with summer produce. (Someone is selling Dilly Bean's- $7/pint, $11/quart. Wow, I didn't know they could cost that much!) We walked around the market and then we stopped at the bakery. We each chose a croissant to take home for tomorrow's breakfast and then we bought a brick of  shortbread slices that were tidily wrapped in waxy, white paper. We were looking forward to these with a second cup when we get home.
2. Steve and I did the canning together. The dill is at its peak, so we first made more dilly beans. Then Steve harvested the prolific banana peppers and we canned five more quarts. Finally, I turned to the ripening tomatoes and got those preserved.
2a. We had a full day in the kitchen, so for dinner we simply made loaded roast beef sandwiches. They included pickled banana peppers from an earlier batch and pretty yellow tomatoes, freshly sliced from the garden.
3. Just as I climbed into bed, Daughter #4 texted from Floyd Fest: "I just got called up on stage at one of the biggest concerts tonight!!!...the lead singer (Adam Ezra Group) leaned over the edge of the stage and asked me to come up and hand CDs out with him!"Yup, all is well. I am at peace and I drift off to sleep.
4. Thunderstorms rolled in around three a.m. Poor, frightened Henri jumped onto the bed and curled  up to the back of my neck. Now I know how a litter of puppies must feel, all tucked into each others nooks and crannies with tickly fur and puppy breath on the back of my neck.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Hammer for Jack, Pacing Like a Caged Lion, For the Gaps

1. I take out Jack's incomplete Christmas stocking and study how I might rework it. When I started it last year he was a baby and his personality was still a mystery. Now that he is a boy and we see what he is all about, I know what to applique on the stocking.
1a. Hand sewing on the porch, under the lamplight. Dusk turns to dark and the birds quiet down for a summer's night. I am fully aware that I am thinking about Christmas on a July night.
2. Daughter #3 met us for dinner. I was glad because the girls are scattered all over the place lately and it leaves me unsettled. This empty nest thing does not fare well with me.
2a. Daughter #1 called and we talked make-up. I asked her advice and she had so much to tell that it started me laughing. My nest may be empty, but my heart is full.
3. Books wait for me at the library. I think of reading as the chinks between the rocks in a rock wall. Time-wise, my days consist of a couple of larger obligations chinked with reading. Those empty spaces need to be filled with something strong yet restful.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tomato Recipes Times Three!

The garden is a tomato bonanza and this week's menu will feature tomatoes galore. There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy tomatoes. Thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes and lettuce on white bread, heavy on the mayo, salt, and pepper, are only the beginning.

1. Using the freshest ingredients makes all the difference in these recipes. I only make these in the summer when the tomatoes are garden fresh. It's what makes these dishes all the more special.

Savoring Italy by Michele Scicolone
Pomodori Ripieni di Riso Verde
Tomatoes Stuffed with Green Rice
1/2 c. medium-grain white rice such as Arborio
salt to taste
4 large tomatoes
2 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
2 Tbl. chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbl. grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1 small clove, finely chopped
fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add the rice and salt and simmer until the rice is about half cooked, 9-10 minutes. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Oil a baking dish just large enough to fit the tomatoes snugly.

Cut off a slice 1/2 inch thick from the top of each tomato and reserve. Using a small spoon, scoop out the tomato seeds and juice and place in a sieve set over a bowl. Arrange the tomatoes in the prepared baking dish.

Add to the rice the strained tomato juice, olive oil, chopped basil, parsley, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well. Spoon the rice mixture into the tomatoes, dividing evenly. Cover each tomato with its top.

Bake until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot or at room temperature. Garnish with the whole basil leaves.

2. The rustic bread gets good and soggy with oil and vinegar- it's the best part of Panzanella.

Bread and Summer Vegetable Salad
2 tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. fresh basil leaves, torninto small pieces, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
3 Tbl. red wine vinegar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 slices coarse country bread

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and torn basil. Drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Place half the bread in a wide, shallow bowl. Spoon on half the vegetables. Layer the remaining bread on top and then the remaining vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Toss the salad, then taste to adjust the seasonings. If the bread is dry, add a little more oil and vinegar. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.

3. My absolute favorite tomato recipe is this tomato pie. I could eat the entire pie in one sitting, but I restrain myself to half. The melted cheesy part on top is-to-die-for. I've shared it before and I'll share it forever...It's what I'm most excited about this week!  CLICK HERE for recipe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Hate This Blouse, Sis, They Tolerate Me

1. It feels good to thin out my closet and admit to myself that I will never wear certain items. I pull them out to be rid of them.
2. There's a special connection that siblings have. We grew up in the same household and share the same crazy memories. Now my sister and I share our elderly mother. : ) I enjoyed my sister's phone call today. We always manage to find something to laugh about.
3. Three of us were watching a movie. Tess got up to use the restroom, leaving me and her boyfriend behind during a love scene. *Ahem* Rather awkward, I say.

Me: (yelling from my chair as she returned up the hallway) "Tess! You left me alone with Ian to watch Dirty Dancing!!"
Tess: "Sorry! Was it one of 'those' scenes?"
Me: (still yelling while Ian grins) "Yes!"
Tess: "What did you do?"
Me: "We ignored it like it wasn't there."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Causes and Solutions for My Bad Attitude

1. I faced the inevitable; the cause of my recent bad attitude, and attended my court "suggested" D.I.P. class today. (My perfect driving record was shattered in June when I got a ticket for going through a yellow light that turned red after I was under it.) D.I.P. stands for "Driver Improvement Program". Sixty other people were in the class and it turned out to be eight hours of very interesting information and statistics with a few sad videos mingled in. I learned some things I that I didn't know.
2. We were given a one-hour lunch break. I used this time in the battle against my bad attitude and I went to Bruster's for a white turtle ice cream cone. It was pretty good consolation.
3. It was a good feeling to be back home at 5:30, knowing that I fulfilled my requirement and could put that all behind me. Now I'm paranoid every time a traffic light turns yellow for me. So, if you see a middle aged lady slam on her breaks at every yellow light, stay back.

Friday, July 18, 2014

More Fun Than I Should Be Allowed

1. I was giddy with the thought of going out tonight. Really out...The kind of "out" like before we had children. At first I had a bad attitude because we were going to a burger joint. But, after my first sip of ginger beer and my first bite of Cowboy Burger, my attitude quickly straightened up. It was THE BEST burger and I was one very happy camper. Jack Brown's is a little hole-in-the-wall on the market square in downtown Roanoke. It was crowded and noisy at 7:30 on a Friday night, and we took three stools at the bar to eat, but it was all good.
1a. I drank Crabbie's Original Ginger Beer, in a glass with ice and a slice of lime. I like ginger a lot and this drink was pure, snappy ginger- sweet, cold, and very refreshing.
2. We parked and planned to walk a few blocks to each of our destinations. On the way from Jack Brown's to Martin's we passed Corned Beef and Company. Their sign said, "Cigars and Billiards" so we decided to stop in for both. We found out that the cigars are no more, but the billiard tables were aplenty, so the guys played three games.
3. Our final destination was Martin's to see a Steely Dan cover band called Green Earring. I was worried because they didn't play until 10:00, which is usually my bedtime. I thought perhaps I've become too grown up to stay out so late? I was gladly mistaken.  The band was solid, the energy high, and the music polished.  If you're local, go see them some time!
4. I decided that it was fun being young again and we need to do it way more often. Thanks, John!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Favorite Room, It's a Dirty Job, Good Reads

1. When all my work is done, I look forward to retreating to the porch with my hand sewing. We've had the most wonderful break in weather.
1a. It's no- air-conditioner weather!
2. Tess and I unloaded the pickup of mulch. I climbed up into the bed and pitched it down and she spread it around. The Viburnum bed is d-o-n-e!
3.I read another good book: One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash is a story told in five perspectives. Simply written, yet poetic in feeling, I couldn't put it down and read it all in one day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fireworks, Homebound is Good, The Storm Front

1. Canning produce is a rewarding chore. Organization is what makes it run smoothly and it helps to lay everything out assembly-line fashion. It's all a beautiful thing; from the ripe heads of dill, washed and laid out on a cloth, to the sterilized canning jars filled and sealed with garden goodness.
2. I've stayed entirely at home for two days and it feels so good to get things done.
3. Dark clouds loom over the woods and they're blowing our way. A hard wind begins to blow in the tree tops prompting Henri and I walk a little faster. Suddenly, I realize my ears have played a trick and that's not wind I hear, it's heavy rain! It marches steadily through the woods and straight on to us. We run!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Pool Party!

1. The little boy's floaty keeps turning him on his back. He's safe, but he can't right himself, so he floats on his back with a worried look in his eyes. I help him with a smile and talk like it's all fun and games. Later, when he's flipped the wrong way again, he still looks helpless...with a smile.
2. Everyone's brought their own picnic dinner in coolers and baskets. Many have brought extras to share, just in case. The littlest children accept grapes or cookies as they wander by.
3. It's so hot outside and the pool water is cool and refreshing. We bob around, keeping neck deep in the water while we chat.
4. The thirty and forty-somethings have a cannon ball competition. Cheers rise up from the spectators with a few "Oh's" and "Ow's" for bad form.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'm Helping, Night Walk, Today's Menu

1. I found the perfect place to sit while I assisted Steve with planting: on the grass under the maple tree with a breeze blowing into my face, garden hose at the ready.
2. Henri and I walked to the mailbox tonight with just enough light in the sky to see our way. Fireflies dotted the fields and a lone deer kept an eye on us us from under the old pear tree.
3. Fresh Dill Tzatziki and All American BBQ Sauce are two recipes that are a summer staple in our home. The tzatziki is a refreshing dip with crunchy cucumbers and snappy lemon. I like this BBQ sauce because it has no artificial, smokey flavor like most store-bought brands.

Fresh Dill Tzatziki
 2 c. plain, whole-milk yogurt
1  12-oz. unpeeled English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, coarsely grated
1 tea. coarse kosher salt
 ¼ c. sour cream
1 Tbl. minced fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbl. white wine vinegar
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 ½ tea. minced fresh dill
1 ½ tea. olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced

Line sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth; place over deep bowl. Spoon yogurt into sieve. Cover, chill sieve in bowl overnight.
Toss cucumber and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Let stand one hour. Drain as much liquid as possible from cucumber, then pat dry with paper towels.
Transfer yogurt to bowl, discard liquid that has drained from it. Mix cucumber into yogurt. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill 1 to 4 hours.
I serve this with baked pita triangles. Cut pita bread into wedges, separating layers, and spread on baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 6-7 minutes or until crisp.
Makes about 2 cups
                                           All American BBQ Sauce     

2 Tbl. butter or margarine                                    
1 onion, finely chopped                                                   
1 large garlic clove, minced                                             
1 ¼ cups ketchup                                                             
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 c. cider vinegar
½ c. Worcesteshire
2 tea. chili powder
dash red pepper sauce

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is soft. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring sauce to a simmer, simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; cover and let stand at least 1 hour to let flavors blend. Use immediately or pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cool then cover tightly; refrigerate up to 7 days. Use to brush on meats or to serve with grilled meats.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Safety in Numbers, Summer Living, I Knew She Would

1. Two old ladies with beauty parlor hair make a joint effort of pumping gas into their car. It's a cute sight. I imagine they feel safer operating the pump together.
2. I made a snap decision to mow the lawn at 4:00 in the afternoon. Yes, it was very warm and it's better for the grass to be mowed in the evening, but hey, I thought I'd live life on the edge (and get a little vitamin D).
2a. The Echinacea is spreading like crazy and the butterflies are thrilled.
3. Neither of us felt like eating dinner so we didn't. This is typically unheard of in my book and life-on-the-edge has become quite daring.
4. SO proud of Daughter #2! She enters Maine today on the final leg of her Appalachian Trail journey.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Raleigh Days, From the Field, Fun Finds, Poolside

1. Route 220 South lies like a huge piece of ribbon draped over the hills to Hillsborough. Daughter #4 and I were Raleigh-bound to see Daughter #1 and family.
2. Farm stands dot the drive, particularly in North Carolina. They are loaded with locally grown watermelon and cantaloupe so we stopped and bought a cantaloupe on our way. Mari and Jack loved the "orange melon" and ate it entirely.
3. We all enjoy perusing second hand and antique shops. We found some fun treasures including a cute vintage summer dress for Tess, an ironstone pitcher (on the dollar table!), an adorable little bell shaped like a lady, and an embossed plate from Germany that I envision for serving dates at Thanksgiving.
4. Children make swimming a lot more fun : )

*Mari wore a swim aid HERE. It gave her freedom of movement while keeping her head sturdily above water. It's a good assist if you want your child to learn how to kick and swim, not just float. I would highly recommend it if you have toddlers around a pool.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bounty, Summer Afternoon Goodreads, Refreshing

1. The colander overflows with yellow and green beans harvested from the garden. I divide them up between bags of some to share and some to keep.
1a. It's the first time ever that our garden isn't  a weedy mess in the hot month of July. Thank you raised beds!
2. Staying indoors and reading on a hot afternoon. "My Old True Love" by Sheila Kay Adams is the beautifully written story of a North Carolina family living in the Appalachian Mountains in the mid-1800's.

"- you know how it is when you remember your childhood. The sun is always shining or there's a big pretty snow on the ground, and you're young and never sick or tired, and everybody you ever loved is still living and your whole life is a big wide road stretched out in front of you just waiting for you to take the first step toward the living of it."

3. Spraying my arms with shocking ice cold water from the hose after getting dirty and sweaty from working outside.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A New Song, Truth, Sara's

1. Steve had some nice music streaming through Pandora's Bill Frisell channel. One song particularly caught my ear.

2.The wisdom of God's word is a balm to my soul today. There is so much absurdity in the world. I read stuff and hang my head in pure discouragement over the human condition, my own condition! Thank goodness there is a compass and a word to set me straight and to cause my eyes to look up. Thank goodness we live in America where we can worship as we choose and hear the truth, unfiltered by  government and man...and blogs.
3. It was another beautiful summer evening where we had the opportunity to relax and converse with friends outdoors. A shared meal makes only a tiny bit of work for each, yet provides a bounty for all.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Celebration, Expecting, Settling Down

1. This amazing cake was baked by our friend and hostess of the party. It made a great centerpiece dessert on a table loaded with other confections for a Fourth of July celebration. Her cakes always taste good, too . This was a cherry nut cake. (The fries were cut from pound cake)
2. Handshakes, cigars, and baby talk abounded when a young couple at the party announced they are expecting their first baby. The men all gathered around the dad-to-be and ushered him to the fire pit to smoke. The ladies surrounded the young mom-to-be in the shade and talked of babies and children. The parting of men and women this way seemed as old as time itself.
3. The day closes with quiet conversation around a fire.

Friday, July 4, 2014

North Wind, Virburnum and Gardenia, Celebrating the Fourth

1. A cool north wind blew in overnight, chasing away every drop of heat and humidity. It is glorious!
2. Gardening is sometimes about ripping out what doesn't work and starting over, painful as that may be. The scruffy Hemlocks are out (I got to drive the truck and yank them : ) and Steve worked very hard, breaking sod where the new Virburnum will create a hedge. We chose a variety called, "Nantucket". These semi-evergreen shrubs will grow twelve feet tall and seven feet wide.

photo courtesy of
2a. Five frost hardy Gardenias are set to plant under the living room windows. Imagine the fragrance of gardenias in the house! Their bloom time is listed as late spring into fall.

3. It is the Fourth of July after all, and even though we had nothing special planned, the day turned celebratory when Audrey and Jared came with Bella-the-granddog for a spontaneous visit. We cooked a summer dinner that included our first harvest of string beans from the garden, sat on the porch sipping things, and ended the day with a competitive game of Bocce Ball. Tess and Ian drove into town for fireworks and after everyone left, Steve and I agreed, with a sigh, that it was a good day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Purses and Penny Rugs, Steamy Rain

1. Tess and I make a much anticipated trip top the fabric store. The pattern books brim with possibilities and I can barely contain myself from wanting to make everything. Tess chooses two complimentary fabrics that are perfect for her project. She has a keen eye for color and design and I love what she puts together.

2. I have a project too! I've had the pattern for years and the wool arrived in the mail via ebay today. It's restful hand work to fit my summer mood, something I can stitch at my leisure.

3. The smell of summer rain when it first falls on the hot macadam.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canning and Gardening, A Little Baking, Too

1. July already! The garden will explode very soon. B. dropped off a half bushel of pickling cucumbers this afternoon which means tomorrow will be a canning day. My notes jotted on my dill pickle recipe include yields and prices. Cucumber inflation as follows:  
1997 1/2 bu. $12  
2011 1/2 bu. $16  
2014 1/2 bu. $25

Pretty dill growing among the string beans
 2.The dill reseeds itself and comes up everywhere- in every garden bed, on paths, in the compost. I never have to purposely plant any. In fact, it's just the opposite. I have to pull it out and thin it down to a few strategic plants. It's a favorite plant for the Monarch butterflies so I leave extra for them.
3. I baked not just ordinary apple turnovers, but turnovers with a butter crust. My day has just gotten more exciting.