Rain Inspired Knitting

We've had gorgeous weather, some days a jacket isn't even needed. But today we have a respite with soft (and at moments heavy) rain. It's a nice break and reminds me it's still winter. In fact, I actually have the urge to knit! Lately it's been quite chilly in the evening, so during the night, I've been wearing the fingerless gloves I made last year. The pattern I used was "Fetching" from www.knitty.com and I really enjoyed knitting and wearing them.
Image from www.knitty.com
I'm going to use the pattern as a base for another version. I already added two extra cable rows to the top since I wanted my knuckles to be covered a bit more. As I've worn them, they have stretched out and don't cover as much of my fingers and knuckles as I'd like, so I'm going to cast on fewer stitches, delete the cables and do some other design for the cuff and top. Also, I'm going to take into account the stretching and after counting the rows from top to bottom, add more rows above and below the thumb gusset. 

The yarn I used, the name of which eludes me at the moment, has pilled a great deal so I'm going to use a different one. Luckily, I know what the yarn was on sight even if I can't recall the name. Note:  this would be one of the benefits of keeping an online journal of each project, with a picture of the finished project and all the pertinent details. You can do this on www.ravelry.com which is a marvelous site. The database of knitting info, patterns, groups and the things it can do is amazing and it's free! You just have to sign up. 

I really should use it but to be honest, I'm too lazy! I'll photograph the project as I go and if it works will publish the pattern. 


The End

It's 12:10 a.m. PST and no one has posted a guess for the contest. So it is officially over and closed. The answer was $2.29 (1.68 euros). Thank you for reading the post!



Recipe Changes for One

You may recall that I had a lovely Christmas dinner following the Braised Ham Shanks recipe to the letter. One small problem, it yielded too, too much in the way of left overs for one person. So I decided to revise the recipe just a bit. I like more veggies in my meals so I increased those. I also wanted more control over the amount of starches so I'm keeping the rice separate. If you chose to use dumplings, they're cooked on top of the stew. I used Dot's Chicken and Dumpling Stew as a format to follow

I like beans, but prefer them in soups, salads or Cuban/Mexican dishes, so I eliminated them. Also, since I wasn't feeding growing children or a lot of people, I didn't feel the need to increase the protein with the rice and beans (which, I think, is what happens with the original recipe). Again, remember, I'm not at all that familiar with food chemistry. I just figured my body would thank me for adding more vegetables. I still may alter this recipe a wee bit more. One thing for sure, the smoked ham shank "makes" the recipe utterly delicious! This is what I have so far:

1  3/4 to 2 pound smoked ham shank (whole or cracked)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
32 ounces (or more if desired to cover ingredients) chicken stock
2 onions, peeled and cut in quarters
3-4 carrots, cut in chunks
3-5 celery stalks, cut in chunks
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or rough cut

1 c. half and half
1 c. combo of ham broth cooled with ice cubes to make 1 cup
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. poultry seasoning
2 cups cooked basmati white or brown rice OR Bisquick dumplings
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil to a large oven proof pot with a lid (preferably a dutch oven at least 6 quarts in size or 5.5 liters) over medium high heat.  Once hot, add onions, cook till translucent then add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add celery and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes. 

Add the ham shank to the pot and pour in chicken stock. Season with black pepper and a pinch of salt (remember the shank has a lot of salt).  Bring to a low boil, cover and place in the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2-1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.

Remove pork from the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, strain the vegetables from the stock and return stock to pot.  Take 2/3 c. of ham broth from pot and add enough ice cubes to cool and make 1 cup liquid. In a small sauce pan, whisk half and half, broth, flour and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil while whisking, reduce heat and simmer, whisking frequently, 2-4 minutes or until thickened. Slowly stir into stock in pot and bring to a boil, while whisking. 

Return vegetables to the Dutch oven. Remove ham from the bones, chop into bite size pieces, return to pot and heat through. Taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed. Again, take it easy on the salt, you can always add more vs. removing it!

For rice:  Cook per directions on package
For dumplings:  Make per instructions on the Bisquick box.
Place a scoop of rice or a dumpling or two on each plate, top with the ham, stew juices and vegetables.  Serve.

Any thoughts on improving what I've got so far would be much appreciated.

Labels: ,



A few days ago I posted an errata to my Fast and Easy Beef Teriyaki and said I'd post my Mediterranean Pasta Sauce recipe to make up for the boo-boo. It took more than a few days though because I really wanted to photograph it for you. At the time I had a full fridge from my friend taking me grocery shopping since I still had a very swollen eye. So, I will be delaying that recipe and talking about what I made from the grocery run.

First, there was the raw steak on rye, with sea salt and onions for two dinners. Then came the boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I baked with a different topping on each. I used my Herbes de Provence mix on one, sea salt on another, my LA/LA seasoning on the third and McCormick's poultry seasoning on the fourth. I ate one and froze the other three writing in large letters freezer date, item and use by date on the foil wrappers.

The rotisserie chicken I've stripped and am going to make Wine Country chicken salad with it now that I have the exact ingredients. Then I'm taking the carcass and putting it in my Dutch oven to make stock.

I know...I'm just fascinating and this is rapidly becoming a food blog. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.



Chocolate World

Chocolate is an amazing thing. Did you know it has over 600 flavor compounds vs. red wine's 200? I know this because I found the most amazing article on "an ancient strain of cacao native to the Bolivian Amazon—i.e., wild cacao, au naturel, unmolested by millennia of botanical tinkering". It's really a fascinating story. The author is a an individual who experienced "chocolate enlightenment" and followed his interest into the Amazon jungles. It's quite a remarkable tale. I won't say anymore because you really should read it. Sent the article to a friend who commented that it was super interesting but long and that she is now on a hunt for this chocolate that's called Cru Savage.

No affiliation, just fascinated once again by the world we live in. If my friend finds a source, I'll publish it in a future post, unless she decides to keep her find all to herself! LOL!

Oh, and don't forget to participate in the guessing game about the cost of celery!

Labels: , ,


Slipper Thief

Remember when I first brought my dear little Corgi, Blue home and the story of the vanishing slippers? Well, he has continued with his penchant for them especially since I received a fuzzy pair of slippers for Christmas from my brother!  But I finally caught him in the act!

Blue aka The Slipper Thief
This is the first time I've had my camera in hand when I caught him absconding with one and cornered him by the front door for a photo. I've woken up in the morning to find them in his bed with him or abandoned in another room. Not sure how to take this. Is he going to chew them? Does he think they're stuffed toys? Can't quite figure it out. So far he hasn't done any damage to them (she says as she crosses her fingers for luck). What's really funny is that I can't be mad at him, 'cause he's just so darned cute! The little devil!



Guessing Game Contest

As you've gathered by now, this blog occasionally veers off-course (whatever that might be) into food blogdom. I found a really fun post at a blog I enjoy. You'll find the link to The Merlin blog here. It addresses the subject of how you know you're a foodie society member. Ron Merlin of The Merlin Menu blog provides a checklist of signs to look for. In reading it, I had to laugh when I got to No. 17 which reads "17. You own a Dutch Oven. Period." because in my experience almost anyone who grew up in the Midwest before 1980, has a Dutch oven and has since the day they moved from their parents' home (which of course, had at least one or in my case three). Not being critical here, just enjoying how different parts of the country can affect you and in such a variety of ways. 
Take for example my friend who was born and raised in So Cal. She's had a tortilla press forever! Something this girl will probably never own. On the other hand I have not one but two cast iron aebleskiver pans! They were passed down from my mom and aunt via their grandmother respectively. I also have two editions of a Danish cookbook put together by a society of Danes in the Midwest during the 60's. In college, I wanted a copy so badly that it was on my Christmas list! 

Currently, kale, chard and so forth are "hot" (i.e., trendy) vegetables. Well, as a child they were a regular part of my diet. Back then, it was because it's what my mom and aunt grew up with. They were kids of the first Depression and this was cheap food back then. It's kind of along the line of rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, smoked ham shanks, ox tails, beef shanks, smoked butt, short ribs and so forth. In the last 10 - 15 years it's all been "discovered" by chefs and "foodies" thus costs a bloody fortune. I mean, come on, $3.99/lb. (.45 kilos) for celery root? Rhubarb for $4.99/lb? And $1.69 for a bunch of 5 wilting kale leaves? I'm not even talking organic!

I had just read an article announcing that food prices will rise sharply in the next year due to the toll on crops caused by all the global disasters so this did not bode well. I guess we can all start planning our gardens now. A great site for gardeners, beginners and advanced, is  "You Grow Girl". If you check Gayla's archives you'll find info on container gardening too. If you go to her site and click on the section "about" you'll find some pics of some of her container gardens.
Yesterday, my friend was kind enough to take me grocery shopping since my eye is still pretty puffy and I had the surprise of my life. I reached for a bunch of common celery and as I did, looked up at the price. You will NEVER guess what it cost. Seriously. I dare you! This contest will be open till Jan. 29, 2011, midnight, Pacific Standard Time. 

Leave your answer in the comment section and be sure your name and email shows. The winner will be determined by the closest guess and will receive a bottle of my LA/LA (Louisiana/Los Angeles) seasoning mix along with various uses for it including the gumbo recipe I'm so fond of. I gave this mixture away for Christmas 2009 and everyone loved it to the point that once a year I make a new batch and it sells out in a week! So I just finished a new mix and am bottling it up.
I found these little bottles at Ikea and they're perfect for my spice mixes because they allow me to leave room for shaking the spice up before using. Something that's important to do since this mix of dry herbs, ground spices and salts settle by weight when sitting. So a good shake or three followed by a minute of sitting to allow the finer spices settle and you're set to go. If you open the jar immediately after shaking, then you get spice dust in your face!

You can enter two ways:  first by leaving a comment and second by posting a link to my blog on your blog, then send me the link to your blog where the link is posted. I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you! Note:  due to Customs Inspections around the globe, I am limiting the contest to the continental U.S. So very sorry about that!

Labels: , ,


Errata to "Blogs I Enjoy"

It's a good thing that I periodically re-read some of my posts. When writing them, my brain seems to run ahead of my typing and so it's always a sentance or two ahead of what I'm typing. This is why I proofread and re-proof multiple times and yet I still inevitably miss something!

So if you read my post "Blogs I Enjoy" from 1/5/11 please note that I made a very obvious boo-boo. The recipe is called "Teriyaki" but what do I put in the ingredients? Soy sauce, duh! While I was there I rewrote the ingredients list a bit hopefully making it easier for everyone. I also put a list of what my recipe abbreviations are on the side bar. Look for "Recipe Info". So here is the revised list for the "Fast and Easy Teriyaki Beef":
Fast and Easy Teriyaki Beef (originally posted 1/5/11, now revised)
Combine and whisk together in a large bowl for marinade:
   1 1/2 c.  Italian dressing, (oil-free or regular, doesn't matter taste-wise) 
   1/8 - 1/4 c. soy sauce (to taste) OOPS! Sorry:  Teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman)
   1/2 - 1 t. regular white sugar (don't overdo this)
   1/2 - 1 t. ground ginger (I've never used fresh)
   1- 2 lbs. sirloin, cut into 1/2” strips about 2 - 3 inches long or so

Sorry for the error! To make up for it, I'll post another one of my favorite recipes in the next few days. It's called Mediterranean Pasta Sauce and is a lovely break from the heavy comfort foods when Spring isn't coming fast enough and cabin fever has set in. It's like a breath of Spring because all the spices are fresh, not dried! Bye for now.

Labels: ,



I started this post a while back but stubbornly refused to post it with out a picture. Well, the stars aligned and a photo  was finally taken this afternoon so I'm posting this even though I wrote it a bit ago.

Continued from 1/5/11:
It's been a lean knitting season for me and I have no idea why. Haven't worked on anything much knit-wise especially if it involved any concentration on a pattern. So I've found myself falling back on a fairly mindless project. What's great is that it's so full of color that it relieves what could become boring very easily...garter stitch. It's the Log Cabin pattern from the first Mason-Dixon book. All the colors really keep my interest. I'm going to make an unbleached canvas or extremely heavy muslin pillow cover to attach it to...I think.
Note:  I haven't blocked it yet.
I used Classic Elite's "Four Seasons" yarn (discontinued) which has enough wool content so the cotton content doesn't stress my hands. I learned very quickly last year when I planned to make wash cloths for gifts that knitting with 100% cotton (Peaches and Cream) is very stressy and within 6 rows of knitting, it does my hands in...to the point I can't knit anything for at least a week. Ouch! I found I can crochet with it, but knit, no way! So the cotton yarn sits. (Unfortunately I'm not crazy about crocheting. I really have to be in the mood to crochet and haven't been.)

Because the pillow top is knit I'll probably make a whole pillow cover of fabric (front and back) so you can't see the stuffing through the stitches and adding a zipper will be a whole lot easier. Then I'll stitch the knit part to it...I think.

Or, I'll stitch the knit part to a front square of fabric by hand and then put the knit with fabric face to face with the back of the pillow. From there I'll baste it by hand in hopes of being able to pick up 1/2 row of the garter stitch evenly all around the pillow. Of course, I'm not going to futz with a zipper if I go this route. The back would be made so it can open in the center to stuff the filling in and then close with buttons. I've also been toying with red and cream mattress ticking or a dark grey wool suiting fabric for the backing. Not sure which course I'll take. Will think about it while I'm looking for the fabric.

Originally planned on backing it with red felt but then worried that it could never be cleaned (I mean dry-cleaned of course). So alternate plans emerged. Any knitters or seamstresses out there with any ideas?

Initially I planned on making the afghan as it appeared in the book but the length of the logs towards the end sort of overwhelmed me so I settled on pillows. I've already started on the next pillow square since it's such a lovely, mindless knit!



Long Time, No See

I've been absent for a few days due to a small but painful mishap. Normally I wouldn't go into it but the result is so hysterically remarkable I had to share. Be forewarned and envision Robert De Niro's Raging Bull movie poster only I've got it all in one eye.

It all started with Blue. He likes playing with the fringe on the bedroom rug every now and then leaves the corner flipped up. I'm walking innocently along, my arms loaded with laundry to fold on the bed, so I don't see what's coming up. Suddenly bam! My head/face hit(s) the hardwood floor and the top of my head smashes into a chest. Of course as I went down I tried to keep the clean laundry from hitting the floor, like a ding-dong, so wound up smushing the right wrist. Also have a nice case of whiplash in the neck since it was all sort of a big old head dive. On the bright side, at least it wasn't cement.

I have to say De Niro has nothing on this. And so, with no further ado...tah dah....
Attractive and colorful, no?

I can see that I'm going to be house-bound till the swelling in my left eye goes down and I can open my eye. Not to mention I can't turn a doorknob with my right hand. So I've pretty much stayed in bed with my friend the "ice". I could go on whining but you've got the idea.

Have you ever noticed how these mishaps always occur just as we begin a long weekend? I'd love to know why that is. If the dog's going to get sick or a child come down with something it seems it inevitably happens late Friday or so. Am I just imagining this?

Labels: ,


Talk Happiness

Just as I'd hoped yesterday's exam was totally uneventful, thank goodness! Everyone was so nice and kind. Won't hear for two to three weeks since this is through a government program. Yes, I don't have a lot of money or a job. In year five of a needlessly long divorce this can happen. But enough about that.

The clinic I went to has some of the sweetest people, I'm just amazed! Grace can come when you least expect it. Don't know if it's from trying to be grateful for a few things each day, no matter how small or what, but it's grace. Sorry, don't write about God and all that, I firmly believe that there are two things that you don't need to talk about for a peaceful life if you have a good heart and that's religion and politics. I prefer to take people at face value proven out by their actions. It's just one of those things I've found out along the way in life. And maybe it's just that I don't see the point in seeking conflict in the presence of all that surrounds us in the world today.

Back in college I found a small poster that I've never forgotten. It had a pic of Abbott and Costello OOPS...Laurel and Hardy...with the words:  "Talk happiness, the world is sad enough". That was 1972. This is 2011. Not a lot has changed with that picture of the world.

I wish you peace and happiness.

Labels: ,


The Woman and the Vise

Well, today is "boob-squishing" day aka mammogram day. Don't mean to be irreverent or make light of monitoring one's health, but certain procedures just need a bit of levity to get through them, at least in my opinion. Every time I think of the process, I think of my friend Beth. A couple years ago she went in for this and all was going fine until the machine that clamps you for the x-ray, stuck...while she was attached! The tech was at a total loss and said things like "this never happened before" while trying to get the machine to release poor Beth who was hanging from the vise.

After about five minutes the machine let her go. Problem was, she still had one more to go. Beth was not happy when the tech assured her that "this never happens". She just gave the tech a withering look and said "no, then what just happened?", she was not a happy camper. But she is a trooper and went ahead, luckily the machine cooperated. It was hard to contain one's self as she told us the story later that day. Everyone's reaction kept bouncing from looks of horror to laughter at the visual Beth painted! I think part of the humor is that every woman who's had a mammogram could totally relate. Sort of a gallows humor at the thought of "there but for grace go I".

Beth really couldn't laugh about it for several months (I don't blame her...ow!), but now she will mention it laughingly but only after someone's mammogram, not before! Hopefully my experience will be totally uneventful today.



Grey Day

It's a dreadfully gray day here, so taking a trip to England via a new show I found is just what the doctor ordered. LOL! Quite distracting and entertaining. Forgot all about the glum weather.

Don't have cable or dsl here at the grey house, still using the old-fashioned rabbit ears with an analog TV from 1996. So my viewing selections are a bit limited to say the least. It seemed there was a whole lot of nothing worth looking at last night so I flipped through the channels and came across an interesting British series and found myself drawn into it. I had no idea what it was till it was over and I looked it up on Zap2It's television guide. Turns out this intriguing little show is called "Doc Martin". The main character is a very stoic, proper, humorless doctor in a tiny English town of 900 or so people. The scenery is lovely, makes me want to live in one of those old stone houses that dot the countryside.

With a little more research, I found the series available on Hulu. One caveat, it's rated for mature audiences, so you have to sign up on Hulu to verify your age (I assume that's the why of it). It's free and quick so no biggie. I proceeded to watch the first episode in Season 2. The one I'd just seen on tv was the second episode. Season 3 is also available.

It's a fun little romp through a whole cast of quirky townspeople who know everyone's business for the most part while the town doctor from "the big city" just stands back almost shaking his head in amazement. You see, the doc grew up in this town and went away for medical school never planning to return as I gather from all of two episodes.

Now he's back as the town's doctor because for some reason (per one of the characters) he "couldn't hack it in the big city". Village-size "catastrophes" occur regularly with the doc being totally unflappable. Nothing ruffles his feathers except for his occasional comments under his breath "why does NO ONE ever listen to me?" Apparently the townsfolk ask for his help and then do what they want anyway with the inevitable consequences. It's really well-crafted with multiple story lines in each episode.

So now I have something to enjoy when the wasteland of TV offers nothing. It was getting kind of lean there for a while program-wise...I was actually rewatching episodes of "Firefly" on Hulu. Yeah, sad huh? It's an exciting life here in So Cal.

Labels: , ,


Palm Trees and Clouds

Haven't posted for a few days because the weather and I can't seem to get in sync or should I say the sun and I can't. I have several things I want to show you but after trying with indoor lighting, I have to say I really DO need to read my camera manual so I can use the less automatic settings. So for the moment they'll have to be taken outdoors.

I've been into photography since I was little. Back in high school I was both the school newspaper and year book photographer. In an all girl school it was arty not geeky. Since everyone had to wear those gawd-awful uniforms (today's uniforms are glamorous by comparison) it kind of leveled the playing field in clique vs. what today would be geeky. Being the school's photographer had a sort of prestige to it that just made you kinda special. You could be walking around school during study hall without a pass and no on said anything, 'cause you're out taking pics for the year book or going to develop film in the darkroom! It put you on a different level than the non-photo geeks.

My, that was a little tangent wasn't it?! My point being:  I continued to love photography and study it all through college to the point I became allergic (contact dermatitis of the hands) to the fixative in the dark room senior year. So I know all about F-stops and ASA's but that's totally "old school". I have to convert that knowledge into the language of the digital beast. I know my camera can do the same thing my film SLR camera can (minus the luxury of SLR) but all the little icons make me nuts!! Anyone else feel that way? It's very frustrating. Kind of like learning an new language, which may be easier. LOL! Ok, maybe not.

Anyhow, I will be posting some pics soon I promise, but in the interim how about a nice sky?
"Palm trees waving and blowing clouds"

Labels: ,


Blogs I Enjoy

Among the blogs that I enjoy is "Crazy Aunt Purl". A recent post about cleaning out and organizing her freezer made me think. It reminded me I'd been meaning to share one of my go-to recipes when I'm in a hurry. I found this recipe in senior year of college, years ago when I was lucky enough to have access to a weber grill on the balcony of a neighbor's apartment.

Over the years it has evolved into the current version. The original recipe called for round steak which is too tough in my opinion. When I find sirloin on sale, I buy one or two, immediately slice and divide into small bags and freeze. Then I can thaw in water for about half an hour, cut up the vegetables and make the rice and steam the pea pods while I’m waiting and I’m ready to go.

Fast and Easy Teriyaki Beef (edited 1/21/11)
Combine and whisk together in a large bowl for marinade:
   1 1/2 c.  Italian dressing, (oil-free or regular, doesn't matter taste-wise) 
   1/8 - 1/4 c. soy sauce (to taste) OOPS! Sorry:  Teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman)
   1/2 - 1 t. regular white sugar (don't overdo this)
   1/2 - 1 t. ground ginger (I've never used fresh)
   1- 2 lbs. sirloin, cut into 1/2” strips about 2 - 3 inches long or so

Taste and adjust marinade as needed. I don’t add salt because there’s enough in the marinade. Reserve about 1/2 - 3/4 c. marinade to use at the end.

Add sirloin and assorted veggies to the marinade, using as many or few as desired: 
cherry tomatoes
zucchini (cut into 3/4” rounds)
pearl or boiling or regular onions (quartered)
red or green pepper
handful of snow peas (cooked separately and added at the end)
cooked basmati rice (I usually make at least 2 cups worth)
If I’m in a hurry, I just use an onion and a red pepper if I have one.

Remembering to reserve some of the marinade, mix meat and veggies in marinade, cover and marinate in fridge for 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring once or twice for complete coverage. I've also put it all (steak, marinade and veggies) in a zipper bag and in the fridge overnight.

In the past I'd thread the beef onto skewers spaced with the veggies for presentation, but a few years ago, I started keeping everything separate for more control over the cooking time. Oh, and I thread everything onto the skewers over a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides). This contains the dripping as you skewer everything and also makes transporting it all to and from the grill easier.

Grill (or broil) for about 5-7 minutes as needed, turning skewers and basting frequently. I usually start by putting the onions and peppers on first, then the zucchini, followed by the skewer holding the faster cooking vegetables. I often thread the tomatoes and mushrooms together. The meat goes on at this point for however long it takes to get to the "done-ness" you desire and depending on your grill. As the skewers of veggies finish, remove to jelly roll pan, cover with foil. Meanwhile put reserved marinade in microwave and warm. Steam pea pods. 

Remove everything from skewers onto the jelly roll pan. Toss out the used marinade. Serve on hot rice surrounded by pea pods and topped with meat, veggies and warmed marinade.

If you’re not in the mood to grill you can stir-fry the beef in its marinade with appropriate vegetables. You just won’t get the grilled taste.

Serves 2-4 depending on amount of meat and vegetables used.

I love the ease of walking in the door and tossing a baggie of sliced beef into a bowl of water to thaw and having dinner ready in no time! When working full time, it was a real lifesaver. To date I haven't had a failure.

I have to  mention that if you' d never tried basmati rice, you really should. I "discovered" it about 15 years ago and never looked back! It has a wonderful nutty flavor that compliments many dishes. Sometimes I'll just have a warm bowl of it topped with butter. I buy it in large burlap sacks at Costco. You can also find it at Trader Joe's. Lately I noticed that TJ's also has brown basmati rice, though I've never tried it. I've recently been toying with the idea of using boneless chicken breasts or possibly a fillet of white fish. Of course, I'd cook the fish whole on the grill and divide up before serving.

As I said, this is a great "go-to" recipe when you're in a hurry. 



Day Two

Yesterday, January 1, 2011. From my back yard.
Want to bet that it'll be 12/30/11 and I'll be looking back on this day wondering where the heck the year went? I wonder though if I'll regard it like I did 2008, 2009 and 2010? I was so glad to be done with those years. It's my New Year's wish that 2011 will prove to be a lot easier on us all! It is, after all, the year of the Bunny!

We can only be beaten up by the economy for so long before the spirit breaks. In my humble opinion, I still believe this was/is a depression, the government just covered it up with all kinds of distractions like bail outs and printing more money. They keep trying to declare the "recession" over, but I don't know a living soul who would agree with that.

Well, wasn't that just a nasty little wad of negativity?

I've been looking around at some of my favorite blogs to see how people are addressing the New Year and the concept of making resolutions. I think my favorite approach, the one that makes the most sense and is realistic is Laurie Perry's aka "Crazy Aunt Purl". This year she picked "Possibilities". I think having a conceptual word that can be applied to one's overall approach to living makes sense.

I've been reading Laurie's blog for years and always enjoy it. Her style of writing is very engaging. And there are a few parallels between our lives, divorce being one of them. Seeing her get through the joys and sorrows has helped me realize that "it can get better".

Normally I don't make resolutions, or at least, haven't in quite a few years, being happy just to survive. But quite a few people are taking an approach similar to Laurie's, like Tracey Buxton of "Notes From A  Cottage Industry" who chose the word "Balance". Actually, I have divorce in common with her too.

It's seems like some of the blogs I'm drawn to are those written by women who have grown stronger despite adversity. They give me inspiration and since this divorce has been dragging on for four years and six months, I need all the inspiration I can get.

Another concept I've noticed is to "simplify", "divest", "down-size". In general to embrace the concept of "less is more". (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe {1886-1969} practiced this in his architectural design.) This is something I have difficulty with for some reason. So maybe that should be my word/phrase for 2011. Less Is More. Applies to a lot of subjects, both physical and mental.

Though, based on my second paragraph in today's post, maybe I need to include something about looking at the positive rather than the negative so much. LOL!

Speaking of positive, once again the Pasadena Rose Parade eluded the on-coming rain. Here are two photos  of what incredibly blue skies we had yesterday.
I mean, is this blue or is this BLUE?!
It's days like this that make up for today's gloomy rain and temperatures over 100F (37.8C) in late October!

Have to go do some things in the kitchen or dinner will never happen. Oh, last night's raw beef sandwiches were delicious beyond words! I'm always so amazed when just a few simple ingredients can make something so good!

Labels: ,


Second Post

Today didn't go at all like I planned. Did you ever stay up late, past the point where you're yawning almost contiuously and then hit a point of no return, get your second wind only to discover you couldn't fall sleep to save your life? I did that last night. For some reason, I decided to watch episodes of "Firefly" (Hulu.com) on my computer. I finally fell asleep at 4 or so. Woke up at 9 and did a number of things and by 11 in the morning was exhausted.

Now I do have a minor health condition that required some testing last week and the results explained my recent tiredness but due to the holiday, I have to wait till next week to get the adjusted medication. Thus I can't be too hard on myself for crawling back into bed and sleeping like a rock till 5 in the afternoon. But, as a result, my whole day of "nibble food" was thrown for a loop. Nothing got done! As I sit here typing I'm wondering what I could put together for din-din.

Since I haven't cooked the chicken breasts yet, I was thinking maybe my Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives which I love. But looking at the clock, I wouldn't be eating till at least 9 pm. After some more thought, I've decided to go with the remaining steak tartare. I need to use it today or I'll have to cook it up as a hamburger tomorrow. There's a time limit on eating raw beef, at least there is in my mind. I'll still go ahead with cooking the chicken for pot pie and chicken salad. Some of the smoked salmon will (ideally) top off tomorrow morning's eggs and the balance get frozen into small packets for the occasional indulgence.

In my constant quest to improve on my chicken pot pie recipe, I'll be dicing and steaming carrots and celery instead of using frozen for the pie. I did break down and buy frozen corn since the fresh that's available looked pretty sad. Also picked up a couple of zucchini so I may (here I go, getting all ambitious again) make zucchini bread or a curried cream of zucchini soup...we'll see how far I get tomorrow.

With that, once again, I wish you the very happiest of New Years!!!!!

Labels: , ,

It's 2011!

Happy New Year! Now we can all, universally, spend the next month or two trying to remember to put another "1" after the "1" and not a "0"! It's one of those rare group experiences that happen on the planet. Today I'm going to do some divorce stuff for Monday but the rest of the day I'm goofing off and making treats to eat. Yes, I gave into over-indulgence this year and oddly am glad that I did!

This particular holiday year I became enamored with egg nog. Normally that never happens, I'll buy a quart (.95 liters), drink some and then forget about it until I "find" it in the back of the fridge and several weeks have passed since it's expiration date. This year however,  I've purchased it in half gallon containers. Since this "can't be my fault" (LOL), I blame it on a local grocery for putting it on sale for $2.99 a half gallon (1.89-1.90 liters) which is lower than anyone else by at least $1.50-$2.00. See? I saved money! Isn't it funny how we can rationalize nutritional blunders so easily? I'd already planned on returning to my usual way of eating which closely resembles the South Beach diet. It's the only thing my metabolism responds to. In my 20's I went on the Atkins diet which was really strict back then compared to today's version. It worked great with my metabolism, I just think that if I ever did the all protein thing again, my arteries would slam shut! Plus I love veggies too much to give them up!

Today I'm making crab and cream cheese dip, cutting up veggies and putting brie, smoked salmon and pate out with some crackers. I'm going to be cooking several chicken breasts for wine country chicken salad for the upcoming week and chicken pot pie for tonight's dinner. You'd think I was having a crowd over wouldn't you? The plan is to freeze the leftovers marking a "use by" date clearly on the inside and outside of the package. I hate finding "phantom" food in the freezer. You know the kind...you can't tell if it's pork, or beef or...could it possibly be chicken?

I hope this coming year brings all of you happiness, peace and love. I'm sure we could all use some! And thank you too, for tuning into this little blog where I ramble endlessly!!

Labels: , ,