Weekending: In pictures

Weekending: In pictures

Notes on a weekend: I do not consider myself a pie baker, but this recipe intrigued me and 8 cups of frozen raspberries from our garden that I had done absolutely nothing with glaring at me every time I opened the freezer. So, out came the raspberries to thaw a bit while I put mixed the pie crust ingredients together on Sunday morning. My raspberry modifications: 4 C raspberries – slightly thawed. 3 Tbsp corn starch (next time I will only use 2 Tbsp), 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla paste, the juice and zest of one lemon. I needed to bake it about 8 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

Oh, and that corned beef… omgosh, it was hands down the best corned beef I have ever made – or eaten! If you have always felt sort of ho-hum about corned beef… try Andrew Z’s recipe. It will turn you into a corned beef fan!!

My quilt top is almost done! As is the back of Deschain – so you know that means I simply had to cast on a new project, lol. This will be the shawl I am donating to and Close to You won the great pattern debate. I wound the yarn while I watched the NCAA selection show (there were cheers for Michigan pulling a #2 seed despite losing the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan State) and the winding continued while we watched the Circus. But, cast on was achieved before I finally turned off the lights and headed to bed.

And, with that – the weekend is just a warm memory and the mundanity of Monday awaits me! How about you? How was your weekend?

Every Day Good

Every Day Good

There is so much going on every day and not all of it good. So, every day I try very hard to have something good to focus on, I thought I’d share a bit of that with you!

Watching: The eclipse! Even though in Pittsburgh we only got a partial eclipse – it was spectacular even with some cloud cover. The changes to the light were stunning. You will be happy to know that our household listened to the directions of not looking at the sun to prevent retinal damage. This was not the case for everyone… Perhaps this should be a test for competency? And, as for the digital watching: Game of Thrones (of course!) and Endeavor! I also watched the finale of Broadchurch and honestly, I was a little disappointed. But, I won’t say any more than that for all those who have yet to watch it.

Stitching: Every single day and I am really pleased with how August is unfolding. Really pleased! I also went and got some button craft thread and my hope is that I will soon turn this pile of tee shirts into my first AC garment.

Reading: and listening like a maniac as I chase down my cover all! I am just 2 squares away and have about 18 hours of listening to do. I am eager to get them done because Beach Music by Pat Conroy just came off hold for me at the library! I am also reading the Essays of E.B. White on my Kindle and I have both books by Laurie Colwin (Home Cooking and More Home Cooking). I am almost done with Home Cooking – I should have it completed this week. This has really been the most spectacular summer for reading. Ever.

Picking: Tomatoes…so many tomatoes. That picture above is from this morning! I know, you are all probably sick of hearing about tomatoes, but this year, the volume of large tomatoes has been really quite spectacular. In past years, I have been happy with the dozen we have picked, but this year has had a bumper crop with no signs of production slowing down! Also, raspberries… I picked enough again this morning to make a batch of jam. I know these are such awful problems to have. Spending time in my garden is really the best time, I would not trade it for anything – even with the bunnies decimating our beans! There should be a “not picking” category perhaps, because outside of the handful of zucchini we picked at the beginning of the season, it has not been a good year for them at all. We have picked a sum total of zero since then and it does not look like that will change. I am not sure why they are having such a bad year, but my neighbor is not having any success with his squash plants this year either.

Eating: Tomatoes from my garden! Every.single.day! And, for those things we aren’t growing: sweet corn, peaches, and an incredible variety of peppers! August is the month where I am quite certain I could become a vegetarian.

Looking forward to: Our trip to Michigan! We finalized the dates and have our Airbnb reservation all set. It is the one thing that is really giving me something to look forward to! Why? Because…

Dreading: The end of August. The arrival of Labor Day. The return of dark mornings. Having to turn lights on at night earlier. This summer I have really tried to not “wish ahead” but rather spend more time in the moment enjoying. This has been an eye-opening practice – I am much happier with each day and I am worrying less about tomorrow, or next month, or next year. September, you can just wait your turn – there is lots of August left!

Celebrating: Sherman’s 5th Birthday on Saturday! Every day I am so incredibly thankful for him. He is a bright spot in our day.

That is a slice of what is good in my life right now; how about you? What’s good in your life?

It was the best of times…EVER

It was the best of times…EVER

Into every bloggers life, there comes that moment when you say to yourself – wow, I would love to hang out with all of them, like every day! And, you wonder what might happen if you could spend a few hours with a blogger friend. Would it feel like you have known each other forever? Would it be weird? Would they be nothing like their blog? Would it be the best time ever.

That happened to me this week…on Monday I was incredibly fortunate to be able to spend a couple of hours with Kym and it was so awesome! (Really, you can’t tell at all that I was having any fun especially with the grin I have from ear to ear and I think subliminally I am trying to hang on to her so she could not leave… lol)

So, true fact – we are a one car household and Steve heads off to work at the ass crack of dawn, so yeah – my hair was looking marvelous – not. Oy.Vey. And, I cannot even believe I am sharing the above photo…haha! Although, Kym tried to clue me in on the angle thing… she won the day for sure! (Also, her Peace Cowl is gorgeous! And, Peace Cowl… Peace Sign Earrings – she had it all going on! Oh, and her LipSense was perfect!!)

So – because you probably want to know – it did feel like we knew each other, it was not weird, she is even more incredible than her blog, and it was the best time ever!

But, you know what Dickens said about the best of times; it is directly followed by the worst of times…

Yep, enter Thursday… and the day of the DOCTORS APPOINTMENT.

I simply love how everything about visiting the doctor is “hurry up and wait” – I mean really. I get to the appointment (early) and I am told that in 10 minutes I can check in via a “remote user-friendly” access point. Why the 10-minute wait? Apparently, you cannot check in more than 30 minutes early!

Once the 10-minutes have expired, I head off to the kiosk to “check in” only to have the remote log in station tell me I need to go to the desk to check in. I kid you not. They needed to get my “finger print” for future visits… really. So, how hard would it have been to ask me that first? (or freaking look at the record, which they have access to on their computer system – right?) By now, it is about 15 minutes before my appointment time and I am pleasantly surprised when they call me back almost immediately.

This surprise quickly was squelched when I realized that I was only being taken to another ‘waiting area’ where the board with all the physician’s names were listed along with if they were “on time” for appointments. Please note, every physician BUT mine was on time. My physician – 30 minutes BEHIND.

However, I am not the only one sitting in “cattle class” and the children there are beyond adorable so I have plenty to keep me occupied. (AND, dear Armand Gamache was with me too!!)

So, by now it is over an hour after my ‘scheduled appointment’ and I finally get the fun necessary part started – you know, those lovely vitals. I was most certain my blood pressure would be at dangerous levels… however, crazy as it may be my BP was LOWER than it has ever been (and I have never had high blood pressure) and when I had to get on the scale, the nurse said – wow, you have lost weight! I wanted to do the dance of joy! So maybe that was the fun part after all.

The appointment ended on the highest of notes – my very behind doctor is behind for a reason, he actually talks with his patients and more importantly – he listens to what they say. My office is a “teaching office” so he usually has a “doctor in training” with him – so if he can share with the new generation of physicians that this is the most crucial part of being a doctor, I don’t mind waiting.

Oh, and I won the “award of the day” for listening to him about losing weight.

The REAL reward of the day was (a very late for us) dinner at Casa Reyna’s in the Strip – with Guacamole prepared tableside and Margaritas for two! (Because you know Guacamole and Margaritas are the BEST of diet foods! LOL)

Now, how about some links?

First up – did you all notice the excellent update to Ravelry this week? If not, you should head there and look! It is AWESOME!

Next… this craziness happened this week. Really… I know, crazy!

That is all I have for this week, have a safe and very happy St. Pat’s Day! See you back here on Monday!

Thankful

Thankful

Today’s Think Write Thursday is to write about Thanksgiving.

I am most thankful to have discovered Michelle recently and I participated in both Gratitude Week as well as Just Five Things.

So, today – I am going to challenge you all to spend some time today thinking about what or who you are thankful for.

It can be things – we are indeed a rich country with an abundance of things! Things like running water, heat, transportation, a multitude of shopping choices, with a multitude of items to choose from. Or things like a table full of food today – perhaps celebrating with friends and family.

But, what about being thankful for the intangible things. Things like kindness, good will, open-minds, open-hearts, love, and peace.

I will share my thankful list, but I will be thinking about this numerous times today – and as I learned with Michelle – in the course of a day, the things you think about can change dramatically. Powerfully. Exponentially. But, here is my start:

  • Food that is so abundant and has been prepared with love
  • Steve – who will share this quiet day with me
  • Family – who while they might be far away, they are always close in my heart
  • Quiet morning meditations that help me center my day and myself
  • Pandora’s timely email yesterday with a list of Thanksgiving stations which will keep me from driving Steve crazy with Christmas music (rather now I can do that with Thanksgiving music instead!)

Today, whether you are with family and friends or are celebrating alone – I will be thinking about all of you, with deep thanks in my heart for our paths crossing – even if it is only here on the internet.

If you would like to join us on Think Write Thursdays, Carole and I would love to have you! You can sign up here.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. May your day be overflowing with thankfulness.

A Recipe for Success

A Recipe for Success

This weeks Thing Write Thursday has us all thinking about our favorite Thanksgiving recipe.

Now, for me the Thanksgiving meal at my Nana’s house was the Christmas meal as well as the Easter meal. I loved it as a child, that continuity and comfort of those deliciously familiar foods lovingly made from scratch by my Nana. The one exception were the pies (yes plural – pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue) that my Aunt Arlene made…she is quite simply the best pie maker I have ever known.

From the ham and turkey (yes, both!) to the insanely good mashed potatoes, to the stuffing, to the gravy – it was a feast fit for kings! And it was always at my Nana’s house – where there were two eating areas. The eat-in kitchen where the grand-kids and the aunts all sat and the living room where the uncles all watched football on TV. (Please note, my Nana never sat down to eat, until her daughters would make her! It became a great game – a battle of wills, as it were. However, my Nana explained to me that tasting all day did not leave much room for eating!)

There was much laughter, so much good cheer, and so much love. They are the fondest memories I have of my childhood.

And then you grow up, get married and holidays become more of a challenge. You have new families to be part of with new family traditions. It can feel not very holiday-like when you are missing all those familiar things.

There is one dish my Nana made that I carried with me – sweet potato casserole. The taste of those oven roasted sweet potatoes mashed with lots of butter, some brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg – baked until bubbly perfection and then topped with a billion marshmallows to brown quickly under the broiler. It was the most incredibly concoction ever and just filled me with my Nana’s love and care.

As a child, I loved the sweetness all by itself – it was the epitome of the perfect child’s dish, and as I grew into adulthood; I appreciated the sweet – savory combination of stuffing and sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes and gravy. However, anyway you have it is is simply delicious!

This dish is the one dish that ties me to my childhood and the memories I have of this dish are perhaps some of the oldest memories I have.

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Not the best photo, but oddly the only one I could find!


Nana’s Sweet Potato Casserole:

  • 6-7 large sweet potatoes – washed and scrubbed
  • 2-3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg (I use freshly grated)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ to ¾ cup whipping cream
  • 1 bag of miniature marshmallows (or 1 bag of large marshmallows – your choice)

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake until soft – about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of your potatoes. You want them very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing the skins.

Place skinned potatoes in a mixing bowl and begin adding butter. Mix on a medium-low speed, incorporating more butter. The goal here is a very buttery mixture – you might need 2 sticks – you might need 2 and a half sticks – you might need all three sticks, it really depends on the size of your potatoes.

Add in the brown sugar and spices and mix well.

Add in the egg and mix well until it is all incorporated into the potatoes.

Add in the cream in ¼ cup intervals – again, the larger your potatoes, the more cream you will need. I generally add a half a cup, but if all my potatoes were giant – I would add more cream in. Mix well to combine.

Spoon mixture into a baking dish. (Now is the best part – you can make this the day before. Just cover it and put it in the refrigerator. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before you bake it in the oven, otherwise the cooking time will be much longer)

Bake in the oven until the mixture is bubbly – and you can bake it at whatever temperature you are baking everything else at on Thanksgiving.

When it is done, remove from oven – cover top with marshmallows – and I mean cover. Really, be generous! More is always better!

Place under the broiler to toast them. Please note, you can do this while your turkey is resting and you are making gravy. You just want them under the broiler long enough to brown and melt into the top!


My family and I hope that this recipe brings you as much joy as it has for us over the years.

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