Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bright Tights

Wearing of dresses and skirts can make bare legs cold when the temperatures dip low; therefore, Charlotte has a vast array of tights to pull from her drawer for such winter days. Some of them are of the plain neutral colors that go with most things..... white, black, brown. But my favorite by far are the brightly colored print ones. She still needs helps with putting them on, but she is getting the hang of the "tugging dance" quite well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

on the needles

I am in a knitting frenzy these days. Just the sheer activity of knitting gives a creative sense of pith to my day. There's always hope that I will manage to knit every day somewhere, somehow and usually this is doable.

I am thrilled about a late March arrival to my expectant neighbor, so to join in with her joy I thought I would knit something for the little fellow. I know the yarn looks navy blue, but it truly is more of a slate blue and my brain is already spinning with the thoughts of the perfect buttons. It will cover him with warmth next Fall when his seven-month old preciousness will need a little slate-blue sweater for the times his mother takes him out ....I can't hardly wait.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Creamy-colored Things

While it was snowing the other day I was contemplating making a dessert for my family, something special for an extra special day.Gingerbread has been the sweet food of choice on snowy days in the past. But since I did not have any molasses in my cupboards that was not a possibility. Snow cream made from freshly fallen snow kept stirring my memories, but I have a difficult time with the thought of using snow these days. We get so little snow...and we all know what things one can find on the ground.

So I decided I to pull the Cuisinart off the top pantry shelf and make my own delicious soft serve "snow" cream.


And can you believe it? Bright red strawberries in January which made the ice cream just burst with rich flavor, and that of course took this dessert up a step to be listed as " healthy" eating.

Easy Ice Cream

Blend:
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar

With spatula, gently stir:
2 cups of heavy cream
2 teaspoon vanilla

You can also add 1/2 cup powdered cocoa to the milk and sugar if chocolate is your craving.

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I do believe I am becoming acclimated to the bread making process. This particular recipe for a baguette is so incredibly simple. How appropriate to begin showing my littlest baker how to make bread. As usual she was a willing student.

People my age speak of crinkly eyes as the surefire way of declaring time marches on, but just for the simple fact that my hands are ever before me, I see the passing of the days and years in my hands. However, I am discovering another beneficial aspect of aging; some things just do not matter. I desire that my children remember my busy hands, lovingly touching sick brows, deftly twisting hairbands into ponytails, rhythmically knitting and purling luxurious yarns, and purposely kneading the smooth nourishing dough. Life is entirely too short to get tripped up on temporal things. Baguette

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water(105-115 degrees)
4-4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2-2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups of flour with wooden spoon and then add remaining flour and salt until stiff dough forms.

On lightly floured surface, knead the dough approximately 8 minutes. Your dough needs to be smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled deep bowl, turn to coat dough, cover with plastic wrap until double in size, about 1 1/2 hour.

Punch dough and form into long slender loaf, 21"x 3"
Set on a lightly greased cooking sheet. Let rise uncovered for 3o minutes.
Make 3-4 slashes and brush lightly with cool water.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snowy Day Pursuits of Happiness


Yesterday we awaken to wispy dots of snowflakes swirling and blanketing the ground with whiteness. Scrooge would have been considered a saint to my children on any sort of rating scale if I would have failed to cancel school for the day!

A daily list of things to be accomplished was formulated in my mind as I scurried behind the children helping them to don snowsuits, toboggans, boots and waterproof mittens or gloves.
First I would bake a loaf of bread. Making bread has been playing peekaboo in my mind for some time now and something I have wanted to begin doing on a more regular basis. It just speaks to me of being home, because after you start the process you are not as free to wander far from the hearth. I decided on a baguette to go along with the chili I was planning on fixing since the ingredients for both bread and chili were purchased the day before in hopes that the forecast of snow would actually materialize.

Then, most important of all, I was determined to finish knitting a pair of lace-like blue socks I had been working on since before Christmas. I was so glad I did. These socks feel so heavenly on the feet. These are the first pair of solid patterned socks I have ever attempted and I found I truly enjoyed the challenge even though I could probably improve on my method of keeping up with what row I was on, especially since I seldom have uninterrupted knitting times.

Chili

2-3 lbs of hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 gloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
32 oz of beef broth
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of kidney beans with juice

Saute green peppers and onions in 2 tablespoons of oil until done; add garlic and a little broth.
Brown hamburger and drain any excess grease.
Add tomatoes, broth, and spices.
Simmer on low heat for several hours. the beans need to be added after about an hour of cooking.

In truth, my chili is never quite the same. I really tried to make a point of measuring my ingredients this go round in order to give a more accurate recipe to record. You may alter it and still come up with some very tasty chili. Last night I appreciated my son's compliment, "Mama, you make good chili." Some of the members of my family have a preference for more heat, so they add extra hot sauce at serving time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy things

"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things."
Chaim Potok,The Chosen












I received this stout teapot from Witt as a Christmas gift. I certainly have enjoyed putting it to use almost every afternoon when my energies web and I need a little pick-me-up both mentally and physically. Rose and Charlotte will hurriedly finish up any leftover matters (such as schoolwork and chores) and we sit down to a pot of hot tea, of course, we talk about happy things!












Don't you just love the peekings of these flowers over the rim of the teacup?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sprinkles


Brrrrrrr...It is cold here! As the temperatures drop across the country we are hungry to see snow fall. But only the bluest crisp skies welcome us along with the bursts of the sunshine's bright rays trying to convince us that it isn't that cold.

I fixed Charlotte a special warm-up drink of hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles. I am convinced sprinkles are important in a child's life. The colors of the rainbow and promises all in one mug.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Music for Life

Listening to instrumental music brings me to great heights of serenity, especially when it is excellently done. Lately I have found myself absorbed in the music from the soundtrack Little Women by Thomas Newman. I hum through the portions of my day with the dramatic displays of the music's essence, rising and falling. It parallels the intricacies of my life these days.....the rises and the falls.

My siblings and I are experiencing such difficult times with my mother and her sickness. It meets with me as I awaken on these frosty mornings and it lingers heavy on my mind as my head buries itself upon the pillow at night.




This picture has absolutely nothing to do with music or Little Women. However, it is a photo I took while in Pennsylvania of an old covered bridge and I like the contrasting light patterns.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Knitter's Poem

"Under the fence
Catch the sheep
Back we come
Off we leap"

Spending time teaching Charlotte those things which are dear to me, knitting in this case. My mother's heart is smitten with even further delight because she appears to absorb herself in such vast contentment. She is quite dexterous with her hands, always has been for that matter.

The little ditty comes from Melanie Falick's book, Kids Knitting. It is an excellent way to get children ( or adults too for that matter) to remember the four steps involved in knitting. As Charlotte was happily manipulating the knitting needles she was repeating these lines with forced concentration and wrinkled brow. As the frothy pink scarf for her American girl doll progressed with each stitch and the stitches became more even, she looked at me with her twinkling brown eyes and declared, "I can knit without saying it now!"



Under the fence



Catch the sheep





Back we come




Off we leap


(By the way, that is chipping off red nail polish on her fingernails.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Meet Penny


After hearing my daughter tell me over and over how I "needed" something on my blog title page since in her mind it was rather boring, I finally succumbed to her pleas. She would not let me stop last night until I got a picture to her liking. Oh, daughters! How delightfully wonderful they certainly are in so many ways, but beyond counting at this present time.

Hence the picture of Penny. A true and faithful domesticated feline for 15+ years. She is frankly fat. This is due to lack of exercise on her part since what you are seeing in the the picture is what she spends the majority of her day doing. And it is fascinating to me how she chooses her places of daily abodes which change every couple of weeks.

Unless you sit down and she curls up with you, purring all the while. I can just feel my blood pressure calming with such coziness. She sleeps beside me every night.....yes, Penny on my left side and my dear one on my right. I feel just like a Roly-Poly Pudding.

Friday, January 2, 2009

You can always make soup

Arrived home to discover fresh asparagus left behind in the refrigerator while we were gone. The tips were sorely compromised, but not desiring to waste food, I salvaged together a creamy soup with the remaining stems. Everyone agreed it was a very good addition to our meal.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Saute in pan until tender:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Then add:
5-6 cups of chicken broth
chopped asparagus
1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme( I used lemon thyme)
!/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook this 25-30 minutes and add 1 tablespoon of white wine or vermouth.
Blend in small batches until smooth and add 1/3 cup heavy cream.

Serve warm with garnishes of asparagus tips*smile* or toasted croutons. Delicious!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

It was a week packed with flurried activity, color, laughter, and lots of history! I thought I would share a few of the things that have engraved deep crevices in my heart and mind. You know those simple things that are cherished along life's way.

After a traditional Christmas breakfast at home of sausage and egg casserole, cinnamon rolls, and ambrosia and then, of course, present opening, we loaded the car and headed to Williamsburg, Virginia where we "donned our gay apparel" and dined at the Kings Arm Tavern strictly by candlelight in true Williamsburg fashion. By far the easiest Christmas dinner I have experienced in years.



Witt and Alan left the next morning while the rest of us continued on and spent the day touring Colonial Williamsburg. At the Governor's Palace Rose and Charlotte mounted the horse stand and I loved how Charlotte was caught in mid-mount.



There was quite a bit of water to behold and the girls certainly embraced this moment by running along the sands of the York River.

I fell in love this week. And since I am already madly in love with my husband, it was an entirely new sort of love altogether. The little historic town of Yorktown unabashedly stole my heart. I asked my husband if we could possibly relocate there. Immediate dreams of a possible B&B and Yarn Shop were tantalizing my soul. We had a very pleasing lunch at The Carrot Tree. Since the owner was known for her desserts we tasted the carrot cake which I must confess was the best I have ever eaten. As I rolled each forkful in my mouth I was trying to discover how I could improve my own carrot cake recipe....more ginger perhaps?


The city streets of Philadelphia in December might be noteworthy, but I only had eyes for these three. This was a day that had turned out to be quite warm which made these southerners quite satisfied.
Fortunate indeed we were to drive by this covered bridge, the oldest in Pennsylvania.

Finding interesting places to eat was one of my jobs. I reasoned because we must eat anyway why not make it memorably memorable. Taverns can always be relied upon to give character and feeling. Another candlelight meal which was needed even during the afternoon because this room was located downstairs, no windows, but a copious amount of charm and coziness oozed from every seam.



It was getting close to dusk when we finally met success by finding our state's monument on the battlefields at Gettysburg. Yes, it was a different war, but we decided since we had traveled this far we would jump ahead 70+ years in history. The day spent here was very sobering, so much American bloodshed.



Returning home to one last night of "Christmas" at home with all the home lights brightly burning. All this emblazonment along with the tree, wreaths, garlands, bows and seasonal decorations were taken down today, securely packed and carried up into the attic to be stored away until next year.


New beginnings with 2009 at my doorstep. I am gratefully content.

the 13th of October

Friday, the 13th, and at last the weather has turned cooler. I breathe deeply as I turn off the air-conditioner and slide open a few windows...