Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Things Happened - January - December 2012

Wow!  It's the end of the year again - how did it all go by so quickly?  I was going to post the 12 favorite photos again from each month of the year, but just didn't have good ones from all the months - particularly the first part of the year.  However, I noticed that each month had a food photo, so this post is the year in food, along with the words that went with the photo!  Here goes:

January.  Spotting a recipe for this Tomato-Cheddar Strata with Broccoli in the February 2012 issue of Country Living magazine.  I made it yesterday (halving it since it was for one.)  After describing it to friend Kim in an email, she said that it sounded "beautiful and delicate" and that fits it perfectly.

February.  Realizing I have everything for my stew except dried rosemary, but remembering there is a rosemary bush that the condo owner downstairs planted a couple of years ago.  (I have an open invitation to pilfer at will.)  Is it still there?  Yes it is.  I clip a little, take the knife and cutting board to it and in several minutes my home smells fragrant from a slow cooking stew.  And my fingers smell awesome.

March.  This recipe came from Simply Recipes - a wonderful blog of family recipes they share so you can make them your own.  It started with making Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale) on Saturday - delicious with a couple of sausages, and then these Colcannon Cakes on Sunday morning.  A couple of them with a poached egg were wonderful.  You can click on the recipe here

April.  This is Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, made from a recipe from Joanne's delightful blog, "Eats Well With Others."  Here's the link to the recipe.  You are supposed to use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup, but my experience in doing that turned comical.  I was holding the bowl of the food processor next to the pot of soup, filling it up, when the blade floated out of place and soup started running out onto the countertop and floor.  Oh my!  After some fast salvaging, the soup remained unpureed. :)  But it still tasted just as good.  As you can see, from the line around the bowl, I had already eaten a little before photographing it.  The rest went into individual portions in the freezer and I had some for lunch at work just yesterday.  Blissfully good. 

May.  Making this yummy Spring Onion Pie after work on Monday.  That might have been a better weekend project, but I never got to it and so when my walk on Monday was rained out, my thoughts turned to dinner.  As so often happens, I was distracted and a little disorganized this day.  I didn't have any all-purpose flour and had to run out and get, but finally got it in the oven.  Hmmm - as delicious as the pie tasted, the crust seemed a little chewy.  Forehead smacking moment - I forgot to put the milk in the batter!  Next time.  :)  Here's a link to the recipe if you'd like to try it.

June.  The poet Pablo Neruda in his Ode to the Watermelon, called it a "fruit from the thirst-tree.  It's the green whale of the summer."  I love the cold, crisp feel of it as I snack on it at work.  It tastes like summer!  Even without seeds.

July.  More peaches - this time some from Georgia!  Friend Janice arrives for our walk with a bag of peaches for me from a box someone gave her husband.  She was off to make peach bread after the walk.  Me - I just like to eat them over the sink or with vanilla yogurt and granola crisp cereal for breakfast.

August.  Saturday morning.  There had been toast and poached egg on the plate.  And of course, there was good coffee.  A light breeze carrying the lyrical voices of my Asian neighbors to the back, who were working their garden.  You can just see the roof of their house beyond my mosquito repellent device there.

September.  Sitting with friends on a back porch, a cool breeze blowing.  The host chef has made paella and is cooking it on the outdoor grill in an enormous pan.  The sign that it is done is the sound of the rice crackling.  It was delicious.

October.  The November issue of Cooking Light is a celebration of the magazine's first 25 years and they included their most celebrated recipes.  And out of all of them the staff loved this one the most:  "Rich Chicken Soup with Fresh Noodles."  It was delish and perfect for a windy, drizzly Sunday night.  Here's the recipe.  And I only had to go to two stores (Publix and Whole Foods) to get all the ingredients.  :)  I never did find Fresh Poultry Mix Herbs, so made a bouquet of sage, tarragon and thyme.

November.  this bowl of deliciousness was my dinner.  My sister asked if I had any special requests for Thanksgiving and I said, "brussel sprouts."  She replied, "But then you would be the only one eating them."  Sigh.  They don't know what they are missing.  I roasted them in my grandfather's cast iron skillet per the Simply Recipes blog.  Click here for the recipe.  I roasted them about five minutes longer than the recipe says to get that extra brown color.

December.  Aha!  A new photo - taken just now of the Indian River (Florida) Tangelos that were put into my car on Christmas Day, along with all that broccoli.  I always seem to have an avocado in the bowl, too.  I do love them. 

So Happy New Year's Eve, my friends.   May next year be good to you.  And in the words of a wise man named Brooks Atkinson, "Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go."  Imperfect, it was, but I still loved it.  xo

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thank you (I think), recipe from the wallet and always smiling

Some random good things from the week...

- As I was preparing to depart for home on Christmas day, my brother-in-law loaded this huge bag of  broccoli that a neighboring broccoli farmer gave them into my car.  Oh my.  I didn't know what to say.  So if you're presented with too much of something, you can always...

- ...make soup!  This cream of broccoli soup was good for lunch yesterday - a blustery day.  Last night I made mashed potatoes with broccoli.  It'll be broccoli all week.  :)

- Niece Abby's husband, Curtis, made a batch of my dad's famous barbeque sauce (a recipe dad always kept in his wallet.)  :)  My sister and I think we should make a cookbook called, "Recipes from the wallet" in honor of the number of other recipes he kept in there.

- I'll be leaving my two Christmas trees up until New Year's Eve - I've enjoyed them that much.  But it's probably time to slowly pack up the other things, such as the holiday salt and pepper shakers.  I've enjoyed them, too, for their unceasing smileyness.  :)

And I enjoy the weekend!  I hope you are looking forward to your weekend, too.  Have a great one.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Misty Christmas, elusive, detante and best gifts of all

- A misty Christmas morning at the farm.  I was trying to capture the energetic Hank in the photo, to no avail.  

- Here he isn't again, with his BFF Moby.  Moby is several years older than Hank and we think he is always secretly relieved with niece Abby and nephew-in-law Curtis take Hank home.  

- Moby and his feline brother Pete decided to live and let live and share Moby's comfy garage bed on Christmas morning.  December 25 is also Moby's birthday - his full name is Moby St. Nick.

- My sister's favorite gift:  an impression of baby Monroe's hand made into an ornament.  Niece Abby's description of the ordeal and multiple attempts to get this right were funny.

- During the family call, we learned that great niece Mina got what she asked for from Santa:  a stuffed pink pony and chocolate ice cream.   Here she is with the snowman she helped build, up in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

And it's back to work this morning for Auntie Lynn.  Sigh.  But it's all good.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Legacy, tailgate and warmth

- My late mother's small tree that we put up for her at assisted living.  My sis has put it up in the dining room this year at the farm. And that's where I am this morning - preparing to bake her favorite cookies: chocolate and peanut butter tassies.

- Having a chilly tailgate party at the edge of the farm property on Sunday night, while the plantation across the road has a spectacular fireworks show.

- A bowl of warm chili when we come in.  Baby Monroe's nose and cheeks are pink from the cold, but he was bundled up and enjoyed himself, too.  Well - mostly.  :)

It's wonderful to be surrounded by family and friends for Christmas.  I hope the next few days are wonderful for you, too, my friends. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Another favorite, home made gift tags and playing patty-cake

- Another favorite Christmas ornament, an Eskimo - one that my older sister sent while living in Alaska several, several years ago.  There's a similar one on the Christmas tree in the post below, that belonged to my parents (also sent from sis back then.)  Seen on lower left of that tree.

- Feeling downright crafty as I make my own Christmas package tags this year.  I got the idea from Southern Living magazine, who suggested you could use holiday cookie cutters to draw a pattern onto old Christmas cards (I must have 500), cut them out and use them for tags.  But coworker Joanne suggested I get this Christmas tree punch, made by Ek, at Hobby Lobby.  Punch a hole and you are done.  I got some red and white bakers' twine for attaching them to gifts. 

- And this moment of pure silliness will hopefully make you laugh out loud, as it did me.  Hope you enjoy.  :)

And I hope you have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Down at the farm, diligently decorating and smiling favorably

- This photo of my sister and brother-in-law's tree down at the farm in northern Florida came in a text message yesterday.  She managed to get it decorated before heading back to western Florida to take care of wee Monroe for the rest of this week.  I recognize some of our late parents' ornaments on there.

- Mina (almost three years old) diligently decorating her family's Christmas tree.  Another photo that came in a text message from my other sister.  I love that my sisters are up on the photo sending by text technology - very often they come when I need a moment of peace like this.

- Monroe doesn't care for "tummy time", but finds it a bit more tolerable when he is positioned so that he can look at presents under the tree.  I think he might also be looking favorably at his fun grandmother.  :)

Thanks for letting me share Christmas text photos with you.  I hope you have a happy day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Saturday farmers' market, jaunty and surrounded by children

- The Peachtree Road farmers' market inside St. Phillips Cathedral on Saturday.  I got a jar of Strawberry and Lavender jam from the woman beyond those huge mushrooms there.  Should the jam go in someone's Christmas stocking or should I keep it?  I vote for keeping it.  :)

- This purveyor of yogurt was wearing a jaunty straw hat with a sprig of holly in it.  Friend Laura thought he had a vaguely Johnny Depp appearance.  I'll let you decide.  Sorry for the fuzzy iPhone photo - click to enlarge.

- The sanctuary of my church on Sunday morning.  When the service started, I realized the two children in front of me and the one at my side were going to fidget during the whole service.  And then realized how happy I was to be surrounded by fidgeting children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas part II, fav ornament and horse in striped pajamas

- I had a ridiculous amount of fun mixing my ornaments and treasured family ornaments into this new tree, which arrived right on schedule.  The stuffed "Richie" bear was free with a purchase at the now defunct Rich's department store.  (How I miss you so.)  Until I can get some gifts wrapped, he looks cute sitting there.

- And I cracked myself up just now, trying to get a good shot of my favorite little ornament:  a baby angel sitting in half a walnut shell.  This was the best of the six shots.  I laughed because I need to leave for work in an hour and am just now taking photos for my blog.  I suffer for my art.  :)

- Three-month-old great nephew Monroe's favorite toy, Bo the Zebra.  My sister is part of the village taking care of Monroe during the day until official daycare starts in January.  She emailed yesterday: "This is Monroe's favorite thing to stare at, his zebra.  I'm racking my brain trying to remember the words to the song about the zebra looking like a horse in striped pajamas!"  Aunt Lynn to the rescue!  It's indeed call Horse in Striped Pajamas.  We used to hear it on Captain Kangaroo when we were kids.

look there daddy, do you see?
there's a horse in striped pajamas
no, that's not what it is at all
that's an animal people call a zebra
i see, but it still looks like a
horse in striped pajamas to me!

It goes on to honor penguins, seals, pandas and leopards.  There is a link to the Captain and Mr. Green Jeans on a visit to the zoo, singing the song on the record, above.  I sang it all day yesterday.  :)

I have worked for the weekend.  It's here!  I hope you all have a wonderful one!

Update - it's difficult to go about daily activities after the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday.  So sad...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas, part 1, vintage Santa and view from the other side

- SnaggleTooth asked, in a comment the other day, when I was putting up my little tree.  Here it is - in its usual spot in the pass through from the kitchen to the dining room.  This year I have my flashing snowman that was in my stocking last Christmas.  My sister asked my brother-in-law to be in charge of stockings last year and he did such a good job that it is his permanent job now.

- This photo was a little grainy, so I took the other one above this morning.  But here it is anyway.  The Santa on the left belonged to my Great Aunt Grace, who always placed him under her Christmas tree.  The wooden Christmas tree box on the right was given to me by a client - her husband made it.  You can sit holiday cards in it, but I have an angel sitting in it.

- The view from the other side.  The music box there plays "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - it used to have candy in it.  Long gone, of course.  

This is Christmas, part 1.  A United Parcel Service driver has my 4.5' prelit tree and is diligently making his way to my home, to arrive today.  I brought home so many of my late parents' Christmas decorations that it'll be filled up in no time.  So you know there will be Christmas, part 2 on Friday.  :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowman, another tour day and the mountain

- Seen in one of the bedrooms at a bed and breakfast called Silver Hill Manor in nearby Stone Mountain, Georgia - this "snowman" that began as a lighted Christmas tree.  Someone added black boots and the rest of the items that make a truly unique display.

- This is Silver Hill - one of the homes on the tour of homes this weekend sponsored by the Stone Mountain Woman's Club.  Friend Barbara D and I toured six homes that included lunch at the clubhouse (very genteel - chicken salad on a croissant.)  :)  And the best part was - I was 10 minutes from home when we were done.

- A "through the windshield" shot of Stone Mountain that I've posted before.  I walk at this park sometimes. The mountain is granite that extends 9.5 miles underground into the surrounding counties.  You see outcroppings of granite popping up here and there.  I think we are lucky to have such a great park, but I wish it was part of the national park system - it's getting commercialized with items like a frontier village and man-made snow "ski" slope.  Still lovely though.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Unexpected gift, good Samaritan and all lit up

- The unexpected gift of this evergreen scented Christmas candle.  It's sitting on top of my three Christmas themed books.  I love the way the green jewel on its lid evokes the green of the trees outside.

- Driving down a beautiful residential street and spotting two nice sneakers lying on the sidewalk a few feet from each other, as if someone sat them on top of their car and drove off with them still up there.  The next day, the two sneakers have been put together on the sidewalk and neatly left upright.

- Bringing in the timer I bought to see if someone can figure it out for me.  The instructions are either too complicated or my mind just doesn't work like that (it's the latter, really.)  The plant manager walks away with it and comes back five minutes later set all correctly.  Now my front door Christmas wreath with its white lights, will cut on at 5pm and cut off at 11pm.  And I'll get to see it lit up when I drive up in the evening.

It's the little things...and it's Friday!  How I love Friday and the weekend.  I hope yours is wonderful, my friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trees on cars, it says it all and peace and quiet

- Signs of the season - trees tied to the tops of cars.  I'll bet they'll love the smell of that tree in their home.

- A coworker refers to a client who is a little mixed up:  "Bless her heart!"  That phrase says it all and is something often heard in the south.  :)

- After an exhausting day at work, volunteer work after, an hour commute home from that, walking into my peaceful and quiet home.  Lovely.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Madison tour, whimsy and fabulous

Friend Barbara G and I drove an hour to beautiful Madison, Georgia on Saturday for the annual tour of homes.  I have a few photos, of course.

- Madrigal singers in front of Heritage Hall, where we picked up our tickets.  That's the First Methodist Church behind them.  

- This was the first house on the tour:  Hilltop.  Samuel Shields built Hilltop in 1838 as a wedding gift to his daughter, Julia Ann, upon her marrage to Thomas Jefferson Burney.  I worked on a project a couple of years ago - a portrait catalog, which contained images of portraits from various homes in Madison.  I immediately recognized portraits from the book inside this home.  Note - love the placid dogs sleeping in front of the home.  One of them is just out of the picture.

- In the second home, I loved the whimsical way in which this chandelier was decorated for Christmas within an inch of its life.  The homeowner was present and graciously allowed me to snap this slightly blurry pic with my phone.  Click to enlarge.

- The display of art in her guest room was fabulous.  Love the color of the walls, too.

Lunch was shrimp and grits and a fried green tomatoes appetizer.  Yum.  After some shopping we headed home, so I could watch The University of Georgia and The University of Alabama play for the SEC Championship.  Sadly, the Bulldogs lost, but the game was good anyway.  :) 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bookshelves, out with the old and in with the new

- I admit - I feel a bit of wistfulness, looking at this photo.  These bookshelves were three sectional pieces I bought at a store called Storehouse years ago and my dad bolted them together for me.  They were inexpensive, but served a purpose.  But as you can see, they were bursting at the seams.

- There they are cleared out and looking a bit dingy.  My friend Robert took them and ended up giving them to his nephew, a busy college student who needed some shelves.

My late parents left me some money - most of which I have saved, but I set aside a little to spruce up my condo.  You already saw the laundry room cabinets.  I'm still very proud of those and LOVE the storage.  So I decided to replace the old bookshelves, and with a twinge, out they went and in came the new bookcase, custom made by my friend Shelley's husband, Ron.

- I was so alarmed when I came home that day and saw them.  Ron and a helper had loaded them in and said he'd be working on them all week.  Oh my - they seemed huge.  I kept trying not to look at them that evening and kept wishing I had the old ones back.

But then - when it was all said and done, they are wonderful and look as if they've always been there.  

- Those cabinets are already loaded up and I've enjoyed placing books and treasures in the shelves.  I've loaded up Goodwill with a lot of books I'd already read and about half the record albums.  (The other half are in one of those cabinets.)  And I finally have a place for that chiming clock from my parents' home.  It doesn't work, but I'll have it fixed.  All is good.

Thank you for indulging me in reading my saga of the book shelves and case.  :)  I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  Yay - it's Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bowl of deliciousness, new mama and a good thing

- This bowl of deliciousness was my dinner.  My sister asked if I had any special requests for Thanksgiving and I said, "brussel sprouts."  She replied, "But then you would be the only one eating them."  Sigh.  They don't know what they are missing.  I roasted them in my grandfather's cast iron skillet per the Simply Recipes blog.  Click here for the recipe.  I roasted them about five minutes longer than the recipe says to get that extra brown color.

- More from the weekend:  I ask my niece, Monroe's mother, what he will call her.  She says she actually hadn't thought about that and went over the possible choices.  She settles on "Mama" - "yes, that feels right."

- After a not so good day at work, a coworker reminds me to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as I am leaving.  I reply, "that's a Good Thing" automatically.  :)