Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coffee machine

Woke up yesterday morning and just as I do every single morning, I put the water, coffee filter and coffee grounds into the coffee machine. Ah, the blessing of electricity and simple machines! But the little knob that always blinks on red when I hit it did nothing! I worked that little knob and worked that little knob.....nothing. Just the thought of not having my morning coffee was making me want it even more. My husband was out of town, so I had Alan try it especially since he, like his mother, looks forward to his morning cup of coffee. Nothing! So I did what anyone in their right mind or in this case their caffeine deprived mind would do, I sent him to Hardees to buy us a fresh cup of coffee. I found myself so very thankful to live only a hop, skip and a jump from conveniences such as fast food stores.

When my husband came home last evening I told him our newest dilemma, he proceeded over to the coffee machine, pushed the little knob light. No malfunction whatsoever. So this morning with trepidation I pushed the knob.....viola! The coffee machine seemed to purr as it came on. It seems I wasn't the only one that was missing my husband!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Secret Place

Some evenings Charlotte will take her bath before supper and instinctively slip her nightgown over her head. So it was on this night. But on a whim we decided to visit older brother's place. No time to change. It was definitely a "come as you are" visit.My girls are convinced their brother lives in a little playhouse with its gatekeeper appeal. Along with the many deer and fawns that greet you as you come up the driveway, there are also open fields, apple trees, and an enclosed garden with a heavy latched wooden door. You find yourself inadvertently holding your breath as you enter. The girls love to wander on the brick-paved paths and smell the variety of roses. It is unlike Mary Lennox's hidden place in The Secret Garden, yet you still find yourself enveloped in its unique charm. What awaits for you there?

This particular time a nightgown-clad princess skipping by was wonderful enough for me!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Icy Watermelon Dessert

Having some watermelon that needed to be used quickly, I decided to teach Rose how to make an easy, fun dessert. You may call it granita or sorbet, same recipe just a different technique of freezing it. I pureed about 1/4 of a watermelon with pineapple mint and stirred in 1/4 cup of sugar. I relied on my Cuisinart ice cream/sorbet machine to freeze it which actually took no time at all ( I put it on while I was preparing supper). The other method is a little more time consuming because it involves putting it in a casserole dish in the freezer and scraping the mixture ever so often during the freezing process which takes several hours.

Very refreshing and light! Rose especially enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

sock knitting once again

As the garden spiders are joyfully welcomed upon making their annual appearance amongst the plants in my kitchen garden, I pick up my double-pointed needles once again to knit socks. Last year I had such earnest aspirations to knit a pair of socks for all my friends as Christmas gifts. Alas, I only managed for two of my friends to cozy their tootsies in hand-knitted striped wool socks. I have no such ambitions this year; just to feel the touch of the narrow threads of wool between my fingers and the gentle "sight whooshing" of the #1 needles is enough. I believe I am presently as much of a process knitter as a project knitter. If I only looked at the project I would feel such a failure because the projects are not completed adequately on the time scale that I think they should. Instead, I just pick up the needles, enjoy the moment.
Knit, Knit, Breathe, Knit.
And a little Bach adds extra bliss.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday morning waffles

Yesterday afternoon I was happy to discover this little magazine lying on the hall table where my children had dropped the day's mail. I love this food recipe magazine and I have enjoyed giving it as gifts to my friends and they always seem to appreciate receiving it as much as I enjoy giving it. I found a waffle recipe that I could hardly wait to make this Saturday morning. It contained buttermilk and little taste flags jump in my brain when I think of cooking with buttermilk. I think baking with buttermilk makes everything tastier. I was not disappointed, they were delicious! Yet I was somewhat unnerved about the amount of butter this recipe contained and I will attempt to make alterations to the recipe in the future. But this morning I was happy to know I had the stick of butter in my refrigerator along with the needed buttermilk....oh and don't forget the fresh blueberries and maple syrup. All Saturdays should begin so well!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mere Lavishes

A hurried in evening. Must get supper started as I have a hungry family to feed. But the mood must come first so I put on one of my favorite opera CDs. As Pavorotti fills the kitchen with "Nessun Dorma", I pull out what I so appropriately call," the red pot". I am convinced everyone really must get such a pot if they don't already have one in their possession.
I saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, add fresh tomatoes and toss in thin strips of prosciutto. Quickly, run to the herb garden right outside the kitchen door and gather a few snips of basil...chop, they go too. A few twists of the pepper grinder, shake of the salt shaker. In the meantime the thin spaghetti noodles have been boiling. Salad made with fresh lettuces, always prewashed beforehand, and garlic bread pulled from the oven as the aromas of this simple dinner are now joining the music in a harmonious blend of sensory satisfaction.
All to prove that even the preparation of last minute meals can lavish us too!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Ballet Lesson

Ever since Charlotte was three and a half years old she has wanted to take ballet lessons. Today her heart's desire was met while she danced at her very first lesson in classical ballet.She arabesqued across the dance floor!

Bon travail Charlotte! Bon travail!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Still Moment

For some reason or another I was weary this afternoon. I decided to do what my friend Jacqui does and take a quiet moment. Taking the time to brew Earl Grey Tea , taking the time to sit down and sip it from a Royal Albert teacup.
And the most positive thing to do, taking the time to feed the spirit. Therefore, I opened the scriptures to His Word and rested quietly in Him. Moments of worship provide moments of strength.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fresh Apple Cake

We will be picking up various children at different destinations tomorrow after church.The first stop will be the airport to pick up son #1 who will be arriving from Rhode Island; then on to grandma's house where the girls have been visiting. Since I still have so many apples (even though we must all eat at least three a day), I decided to make an apple cake to take along for Sunday supper. Many people have given me apple cake recipes through the years, but I always find myself hankering for this cake. I almost dropped it today upon removing it from the pan, hence the lopsided effect. But it will not change the taste, no sirree it definitely will not!

Fresh Apple Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
3 cups apples, peeled and diced
3 eggs
1 cup of pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Peel apples and chop. Set aside. Pour oil into mixing bowl, add sugar and eggs, beating well. Sift flour, soda and salt. Add flour mixture gradually to creamed mixture. At this point I add the water because I like the extra moistness it adds to the cake. Fold in apples, nuts, and vanilla. Bake in greased tube pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour. When cool, glaze.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons water
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla

Mix together and drizzle over the cake.

This cake is best eaten with someone......or alone....or in a crowd.......

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Rainy Interlude

A deluge of rain slowed the traffic for a slight moment on the busy highway as we traveled this afternoon to take my girls for a weekend visit with grandma, granddaddy and visiting aunt. My husband and I were able to journey on for an evening with several stops as we headed back home. First, we dined where the lights were low, the food was satisfying and our seats were situated in a corner allowing our knees to touch. Then a stop to buy a new fragrance at Crabtree and Evelyn, Wisteria.

On the highway once again, I stared at a van carrying a mattress and box spring on top of its roof, tightly wrapped in plastic....thank goodness.....because it was raining once again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Smelling Good

Psalm 144:12 "....that our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace."

My daughter is growing up and it has always been my heart's desire that she would grow into a godly woman. Finding ways to foster this in her life led me to start a Bible Study/ Fellowship Group for her and a few of her same-aged friends last year. This afternoon we met together and made potpourri.
First little bags were sewn, then each girl mixed her own combination of rose petals, lavender, lemon verbena, thyme, monarda and yarrow. What a lesson it was in individual olfactory distinctions when it came time to add the tiny drops of essential oils.
Finished touches of femininity just waiting to be tucked in between "unmentionables".
Embroidering one's initial adds a special touch I think.

And the best part, my kitchen smells like a rose garden!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An apple, or two, a day....

There are apples covering my kitchen counters. Dropping by my son's place one afternoon, I discovered several trees loaded down with unattended, hence organic, apples. Not wanting them to all go to waste, or to the deer, we hurried over there last night after supper. Surprisingly, these "wild" apples are deliciously sweet. Good for eating and good for cooking. Charlotte donned an apron and assisted me in baking an apple pie for supper tonight. First we rolled the pastry crust, then we stirred the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the sliced apples. It was too much, we just had to taste one. Okay, two.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tent Vows and Glass House Toasts

My husband, eldest son, and I attended a special wedding Sunday evening. The ceremony was held under a tent by a lake with ducks swimming by on the water. The bride and groom vowed to love, honor and cherish until death do them part in a hushed setting of serenity. The reception celebrating the marriage was in the Glass House just up the lighted pathway.
The white chair coverings and black bows added a touch of panache.
The guests were well-fed with these delectable morsels. Unfortunately, my plate was minus the jumbo shrimp. I think I like them....and I would like to like them, but I just don't!
Wedding cake was eaten while we visited with our dear friends, the parents of the groom. It was delicious, not too sweet.....just right (the cake and the conversation). A magical view of the lighted path to the Glass House. As we meandered our way back to our car we felt as if we had wandered into wonderland as the thousands of tiny white lights on the trees surrounding the parking lot dazzled us with their sparkle and glitz.

"Marriage is one of the most profound passages of life a person experiences.
This is because it includes three significant stages,
simultaneously incorporating
an ending, a merging, and a beginning."
Sydney Barbara Metrick

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Morning's Memories

The morning after. Unwilling to be paparazzi-like and snap photos last night, this is the scene which greeted me this morning. Last night the food was all carried in by the hands of many helpers. The dishes were cleared and the lovely teenaged daughters loaded the dishwasher and hand washed the many extras before they became engaged with card games with all the others. The adults remained outside sipping our glass of blackberry wine until the darkness swelled around us. Happy memories. These lovely zinnias were from our guest's garden and were placed in the center of the food table that was surrounded by God's abundance to us:
Marinated grilled chicken
Fresh leafy green and romaine lettuces
Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes , broccoli, sharp cheddar, almonds
Homemade dressings of green goddess and balsamic vinegarette
Yeast rolls
Homemade salsa and tortilla chips
Gallons of sweetened iced tea with lemon and mint
And who does not like a choice of desserts? Or maybe even having two desserts...... Peach cobbler with blueberries served ala mode, of course.
And because I love the smiles of people of all ages when I bring them out, Chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream smoothed in between to make ice cream sandwiches.

One fallen leaf reminded me that Fall is just around the corner.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Refreshment in order

When one is tired from dusting, vacuuming, washing an assortment of lettuces, making dressings, cleaning bathrooms, baking cookies ....

Refreshment is an utmost priority.

Now on to mopping the floors and setting the tables.....refreshed!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

shop with love

Due to a rolling along type of day, I was unable to manage my time to get to the market. Since we are expecting a family of six tomorrow evening for dinner, my husband kindly offered to take me to the grocery store tonight.
How I love this man. Does this count as a date?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

old herbs and new herbs

I happen to love herbs and the old ones especially hold a irresistible charm. Many years back I was given an old herb, costmary. I adore its musical name. Sometimes it is referred to as the Bible plant. The ladies of yore would press the leaves in their Bibles and use them to combat any soporiferous tendencies of long-winded preachers during church service. This particular plant was included in the "must not stay behind" group during our moves from once place to another. This year I decided I needed to transplant it from its first hurriedly placed spot in the far corner of my yard. Hopefully, it would not just survive but flourish. I am not disappointed. I am hoping it will bloom for me once again. In case you were wondering, it has a candied minty aroma.And these snipped leaves are Thai basil, a first-timer to my garden. This plant is thriving near my not so thriving tomato plants. Its fragrance is spicy and sweet. I couldn't resist filling a little jelly jar with its pertness to sit in my kitchen eating area this evening.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Comforting Megrims

"In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul".
Psalm 94:19

The telephone rang this afternoon, it was my dear mother. I can not keep the conversations I have with her lately off my mind. There's a book I read to Rose about 1 1/2 years ago entitled, Always My Grandpa by Linda Scacco. As we read it I cried silent tears. Rose was just beginning to understand. She saw the resemblance of someone dear to her, her grandma. This one took her to favorite restaurants to get the choicest food, shared hours dreaming over shiny catalogues and the beautiful dolls to be ordered, and on perpetually every visit there were guaranteed sour lemon drops, juicy fruit gum or a trinket bought at roadside stops. Grandma made everything brighter and her specialness was absolute. But just as in the hardback cover of that library book, grandma has changed. Thankfully, at the present time she still gives warm hugs and she tells us how much she loves us, but it is so different and frankly we miss the old grandma terribly. All the studies and doctor's reports tell us what lies ahead. It is like an approaching storm that we are witnessing. We are sad.

Gentle breeze how you mourn
Touches of April, but for now it's winter.
Frolicking children see them play
Warmed by life,
Heedless of the storm.

The dark clouds shadow the playground.
The soft drops of misty rain turn to pelting streams,
Running steps, hurrying inside
But one lone child turns and looks back
Not missing the sun rays behind the clouds.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Angelina Ballerina at my house

Several years ago, American Girl Company offered a charming and imaginative play set that we were so fortunate to purchase before it was sadly discontinued. The play set is created from Katherine Holabird's charming character, Angelina Ballerina. Rose acquired the three room board house and the entire furniture collection for the three rooms. All the things, along with the loved dolls, were handed down to Charlotte. Ever so often, we pull down the soft, pink- stripped boxes and Charlotte will spend hours in cozy Mouseland imagining Angelina and Alice chatting over tea and cookies in the winsome kitchen.
Or resting comfortably in the tidy living room before heading to ballet class.
After a full day, it's time to don the pink satin pajamas and crawl into the big blue bed with a good book!

I love it when Charlotte brings me an Angelina Ballerina book to read to her. The illustrations by Helen Craig are inviting and the stories are simply classic.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul praise Him for He is my health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!

Joachim Neander 1650-1680

I love the old hymns! When I am up or when I am down, there is a hymn that my soul and spirit can sing. I am teaching them to my children since they are not singing these acclaimations of truthful doctrine in church as regularly as when I was a child. I have found to be helpful in providing the actual music to sing as well as information about the hymn and hymnwriter.


Before I close off on this lovely Sunday afternoon, I must report a story that I am now hiding in my heart as one "for the books". When young, my first children would eat about anything and evidently I was too smug, too soon. Along comes Charlotte who is an extremely picky eater. She has humbled me on more than one occassion! Today it was about a green bean, and yes I did say green bean, as in single bean. She made all kinds of faces and refused to eat it because it had seeds. My 25 year old son was having Sunday dinner with us and he was the cheerleader in motivating her and getting her across the finish line......eating the green bean. Now with total succes under his belt he proceeds to tell his father and me what we must do to keep up this system he has devised for Charlotte's future gastronomic progress. Just you wait...........

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dog Trials

There is always something new to learn. Today it was Dog Agility Trials 101. When we raised sheep we owned a border collie. He cared for us dearly; he cared nothing for herding sheep. But we were interested enough to go on little excursions to see herding trials. It fascinated us. The dog trial we attended this afternoon, however, was unlike the herding trials in several ways.All the people handling their dogs were so friendly and helpful to share a wealth of information to a family who knows nothing about dog handling and trials.......(or I should say knew nothing).
Rose loved the elegance of the collies and implored me to hold the camera, strap around neck, to take this photograph. This dog is waiting for the sign from her handler to tell her to start the event. Since it was the middle of the afternoon, snacks were "woofed" down so as not to miss a single class.
The biggest treat by far were the Pembroke Corgis! The entire purpose of this adventure.
Another photo beseeching to be taken......she has a willing mom. I see a future for you Mr. Putter. And I will never say never.....but, I do not have plans to train a dog! Absolutely not, remember I am a cat person.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Vegetable Supper

We are still enjoying the summer's harvest. For the past two nights we have had dinners of vegetables only. No one complains. Sliced cucumbers are a favorite. Add a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and white wine vinegar. I could eat the entire bowl all by myself! But I will control myself and share.
My mouth waters when I think of tomato tart. Nothing fancy, but the burst of flavors created with just a few simple ingredients makes a savory supper indeed.
Tomato Tart
Prepare pastry dough. Roll to fit pan approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Brush lightly with olive oil
Slice tomatoes and place on dough. Any type of tomato will work, but I find romas or a smaller variety work best.
Drizzle olive oil and add chopped fresh basil.
Top with grated parmesan cheese.
Bake 375 degrees 25-30 minutes.

at the shore cum amica mea

So it was that on Thursday afternoon we headed out to the beach, two young girls (Charlotte and her friend), me and my friend, and Rancher, ...