Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Special delivery, Between our comings and goings, A call from Pete

1. I made the final stitches on my mom's Christmas gift, wrapped everything in sparkly gift wrap and now I can deliver her gifts in person.
2. She apologizes for not having much on hand to serve for our visit:  a delicious pot of coffee, paper thin slices of apple, assorted cheeses, crackers and spicy cookies! Best of all is the visit.
3. I was debating where to stay in New York because my childhood home would be lonely with no one else there. So I was glad when my FIL called and asked me to stay at their house. I knew all along that I could stay there; I didn't need an invitation, but it made the decision easier for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting ready, Stashing some smiles, He's not usually like this

1. Travel plans fall into place and my obsessive/ compulsive nature kicks in to make preparations. A doctor once told my mother that she was wired like a race horse in the starting gate. Ha! I think I take after her. But this can be worked towards good.

2. Sorting through photos from the weekend and smiling at our(silly)selves.

We know who wears the pants in that family.

We didn't drink all that beer on the floor. Those are just supplies for brewing. #3 is going to kill me.

I'm like the streaker behind a news reporter.
 3. I've heard him laugh more these past few weeks than I've ever heard before. Long, hard, belly laughs. Is life funnier these days? I don't know...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Say Non-ni!", My personal electrician, Perfect for walking

 I am counting blessings and joys to hold in reserve for the anxious days that are sure to be ahead. Both our mothers have fallen, broken bones and are in the hospital. Same hospital, same floor, same hall...600 miles away.

1. Mari is a great mime for sounds. She says, "Nonni" and "Pop" along with a bunch of other names and nouns we ask her to repeat. Hearing her tiny voice say my name is pure joy and I ask her to say it over and over : )
2. I announce that I would like to string Christmas lights on the crab apple tree. We don't usually bother with outside lights, but I think it will be a cheerful beacon to see out the kitchen window. Steve holds the ladder for me, replaces spent bulbs and gathers extension cords.
3. We've had the most beautiful, mild weather to enjoy throughout the entire holiday weekend.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The girls, I think we've bonded, A line at the microwave

1. I'm happiest when the girls are all here. Like now.
2. The baby couldn't sleep, so I brought her downstairs to the rocker where we cuddled and rocked while everyone else slept.
3. Leftovers are usually ho-hum, but not at Thanksgiving. We make a big deal out of getting to eat everything all over again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Checking the calendar, To satisfy a craving, Wellspring

1. The bare woods are filled with the sound of birds. With the balmy air and the soft ground, I imagine they're announcing spring. The Virginia climate is playful,sometimes briefly interchanging the seasons. But then she always draws each season out to its full calendar dates.
2. A Reuben sandwich for lunch. Words cannot explain how good...
3. Each family donated one small item which added up to a complete Thanksgiving dinner. One small drop combined with another small drop created an abundance for someone who was without.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's all about the texture, Who ordered these?, Cranberry bread

1. These molasses cookies are my favorite store-bought cookie. "Snacking" is an understatement. "Addicting" is more accurate.
2. Packages arrive in the mailbox and are quickly hustled away. They're secreted into dark closets and corners where curiosity won't find them.
2.a. As she wraps the gifts she bought, she exclaims that she just loves Christmas.
3. Baking extra- one to keep; one to give.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A proud son, Carnitas, muffins and tarts, Companionship


1. A spiffy, red pick-up truck with highly polished chrome stands out on the crowded highway. The rear window proudly reads, "In Memory of MOM 1939-2008". She must have been a very special lady.
2. I had time to play in the kitchen today. Two recipes I recommend: Pork Carnitas and these Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins.
3. Steve and I ran morning errands together- landfill, post office, nothing spectacular. But it was nice doing it together.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where I spend a LOT of time- Bead board project is finished!

Problem: The laminate back splash  was soaking up water. It had begun to come apart and the wall behind it was getting wet and moldy. I would like to replace the entire counter top with granite, but it is out of our budget right now. We had to do something, so...

 Solution: Steve tore off the back splash. He repaired the wall and rather than simply paint it, we opted for bead board. We added a baseboard and trim, caulked the bottom so it wouldn't seep in water any more, then primed, painted and sealed it all with Verathane. For about $100 we solved the problem and bought some time before we have to replace the counter top.
After: The hardest part (other than filling in staple gun holes) was cleaning the kitchen for the after photos.

A cookie for you Debbie : )

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I get it now, Bonsack Kroger, First use

1. I phoned a friend this morning and while her line was ringing, something funny dawned on me and I started laughing. I was still laughing when she picked up her end. I'm glad it made her laugh too.
2. The market was peaceful and calm. The butcher came out from behind his counter and chatted, the cashier talked and laughed about Thanksgiving, all the clerks said "hello" when I passed them in the aisles. Wait...maybe this is the Stepford Wives store.
3. Playing with my new, mini tube pans. They make the cutest pound cakes! For serving, I'll add a dusting of powdered sugar, some fruit and a bit of whipped cream. I'm popping them in the freezer for now, to save for next week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's dark out there, View from the windshield, In time for Thanksgiving

1. A dark and drizzly November morning made the hairdresser's shop a cozy retreat. Muted voices, the rhythm of scissors clicking and warm hairdryers fell under the spell of the subdued atmosphere.
2. White clouds snuggle into the valleys with dark purple mountains looming up behind them. An even darker gray sky above it all adds to the drama.
3. I put the final coat of paint on the bead board project in the kitchen. Tomorrow I'll finish with the Verathane  and then I can put everything back in its place!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Waiting for me, Way back when, A guy thing

1. The tried-and-true method to determine if you really want to buy something is when you think about it for weeks afterward with regret for not snatching it up.I returned to an antiques shop where, two weeks ago, I spotted the most adorable little 3" tube pans for baking tiny cakes. I was relieved that they were still there.

2. I rediscovered a box of magazines originally found in the attic of our first home in Saratoga Springs, NY. I like the nostalgia of the art work. The articles sound hokey nowadays, but there are many on being frugal which make me realize things haven't changed all that much.
3. "Monday Night Pool Night" has become a regular for the guys.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Breathtaking!, Hypnotized by the moon, Found one

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

1. Can you even imagine?!
2. The full moon is clear and white on this frosty morning. It's so sharp that I can see all the shadows of its landscape.
3. I've been experimenting with frosting to get a buttercream that is light and fluffy enough to pipe onto cupcakes. I can't bring myself to use Crisco in order to get a white frosting, so mine remained butter-colored. I am pleased with the results so far. This makes more than enough for 12 cupcakes.
 Bakery Style Frosting
2 sticks butter (I use salted because I like a little salt with my sweet.)
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 tea. vanilla or almond extract, depending on what flavor you like.

Blend butter until it's smoothed out. Then add confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until blended. Add vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.
*If you want white frosting, substitute 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening for one stick of the butter and use
almond extract or a clear vanilla if you can find it.

In honor, Some can take a while, Dating for convenience

1. Thinking of my dad today and how proud he was of our country. He always had to go to work on Veteran's Day while we kids got the day off from school. I always thought that was unfair. If I were President (ha,ha) I would pass a law that all veterans get Veterans Day off from work.
2. A daughter has been cooking more than a bit and talking to me a lot. This is quite out of character, unusual and puzzling... in a good way.
3. It was too far to drive back and forth home after giving Daughter #4 her ride, so we stayed out and had a date.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Colors of today, Juggling the week, So much for not bothering

1. As I was driving along, I noticed my sweater bore the same blues and rusts of the landscape. I was wearing the day! Later, Chelsea and Chad shared this photo they took while hiking Dragon's Tooth today and it shows the hues perfectly. (Chelsea is on the rock outcrop to the right.)

Another photo Chelsea took of McAfee Knob on the right. The afternoon turned golden as a cold front moved through.

2. I combined grocery shopping with another errand and now tomorrow is a free day!
3. After being out all day, I planned for we three to have a simple meal of eggs. But three quickly turned into seven, so I whipped up a short order feast of scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes, bacon, coffee and juice. Everyone was satisfied and happy to be together. It felt more like a Friday night than a Thursday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A favorite breakfast food, To show she cares, Keeping warm

1. Mornings are brighter when there are biscotti to dunk in my coffee.
2. She wants to bake him a pumpkin pie. A comfort food for him to enjoy after his long day at work. This is the language of love.
2a. I watch her hands as she attempts to work the dough lightly.
3. Time spent at the sewing machine using wonderfully soft flannel. It's a gift for my mom, so I think of her while I work.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Want to come along?, Where they give you a sticker, Contagious

1. Schools were off today so Tess came on errands with me, just like old times.
2. I've lost count of how many old churches and musty school gymnasiums I've been to in order to vote over the years. This is what makes it personal and so "all-American". An honor which I hope never to take for granted.
3. I'm used to hearing him chuckle now and then, but tonight he's laughing so hard that he can't stop. At 4 am. he wakes up, thinks of it, and starts laughing again.

Monday, November 7, 2011

For someone else, Planning ahead, New pets?

1.  With all of our home school textbooks up for sale, I think I am officially done. Twenty years! Should I say I'm retired? It feels more like I am just beginning something.
2. I cooked this morning, so that all we had to do was re-heat our dinner this evening.
3. Biodynamic farmer and beekeeper, Gunther Hauk spoke at the Botetourt Beekeeper's Assoc. meeting tonight. A soft spoken and gentle man, he shared his wisdom and practical advice regarding the honeybees. I will spend the winter reading and learning about a new hobby I hope to undertake.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Habits, One man's junk..., Harvest flavors

1. On a slice of cake where the two frosted layers come together with the frosted outside edge, it forms a "T" of frosting. This is the best bite that is saved for last. Always.
2. One load was taken to Goodwill and another trunk full is forming! I confessed to the family that the hardest things to get rid of are the animals and dolls. They have faces. Tess (who isn't usually evil) said, "Just don't think of the Toy Story song." Thanks a lot Tess. I think this box will stay.
3. Our shared meal with friends had a harvest theme: pork, apples, squash and all things spicy and good.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

One project became two, Hard to keep my eyes on the road, Eight years later

1. The check-out line is long at the fabric store. But everyone is cheerful and, if they're like me, it's because they have a project in their basket.
2. We drove on roads with names like, Lee's Gap, White Church, and Switzer Mountain. All with gorgeous scenery in golds and burnt reds.
3. Steve tackled the biggest reorganization thus far in the basement. My heart was beginning to pound in fear of chaos, but we put our heads together and came up with a plan. I did my part for the day and then I walked away. Later I went back to peek at the progress. It's so much better organized and now my heart pounds with excitement!

Friday, November 4, 2011

North Star, O!, Last game

1. I listened to one of the MP3 mixes Steve made for driving, so it was a mixed bag of music today. An old favorite popped up and made my heart skip with happiness. Robert Fripp's use of few words in North Star is pure poetry.

2. Four pumpkins, each carved with a different surprised expression, line the steps.
3. Layered jackets, scarves, gloves and blankets help fight off the chill at the football game.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I know that hair, Exploring the great outdoors, Chain reaction

1. The breeze fluffed her hair.

2. The warm sun, blue sky and green grass were too inviting to ignore. This little granddaughter reminds me very much of her mom when she was a baby.

3. Since Claire and Marian were visiting, Chelsea and Chad came to visit. Since Chelsea and Chad were coming, a bigger dinner needed to be cooked. Since a bigger dinner would be cooked, Audrey and Matt joined in. Finally, when Tess and Steve got home from school/work, the fun began! Stories were told around the dinner table, Audrey had us laughing to tears, a bathed and powdered baby was passed around, and several games of pool were played- full of excitement and shouts. We ended the evening with this dessert of pumpkin cake and spiced cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nice day for a drive, Visitors, Holiday traditions

1. I didn't mind driving the forgotten lunch to school on a beautiful day such as this. The first few miles take me over the mountain and then down the other side to this view.

At the corner I turn right, past this old building. To me, it looks like it may have been a general store?

 Once through the ghost town of Springwood, it's over the James River I go.

The school sits in a valley. From this distance I can just see the lights of the football field in the center of the photo where there is a gap in the trees. It may be on the way to nowhere, but it's one of the most beautiful 'nowheres' I've ever been. I left the lunch at the front office and turned right around for the ten mile drive back home. (If you click on any of the photos, they will enlarge.)

 I've always admired this property. The old farmhouse is situated in a cozy spot and it has lots of outbuildings. I think it must have been beautiful at one time. You can see a cow standing under the big tree on the right. Cows graze all around the house. It belongs to them now.

2. Claire and Mari have come for a visit!
3. I baked sugar cookies in pumpkin and leaf shapes, then frosted and sprinkled them in shades of autumn. We had these for dessert while we watched Captain America.

The Momur, A gypsy and a dog

1. Steve's rhino comment on yesterday's post got me listening to Adrian Belew for my drive today. The Momur- I'm smiling a lot. This is my Halloween persona; no costume required...however, raging hormones may be necessary.

2. Tess and her friends decided they were not too old for trick-or-treating. She quickly transformed into a gypsy and I dropped her off in town for the local festivities.

3. Sweet little Henri turns seven today. Audrey brought him gifts and he dozed on his new bed all afternoon.