Monday, November 30, 2009

Roadside Finds In The Dark or Where I Have No Shame

This evening I had an appointment that ended around 8 pm. On my way home, I was driving down my favorite street.

Ok, so the appointment was nowhere near this street. I was "doing the ride" alone.... I do that sometimes. Drive around with the music on....Look at the houses, think, sing out loud, loud..... So picture the following story happening to the tune of The Who's, "Behind Blue Eyes" (I'm kind of crushing on Roger Daltry despite the fact he's older than my dad, I'm talking circa 1977 Roger...Damn!)

Anyway, so there I am driving along, minding my own business, when I see a small couch, or rather, a settee, sitting on the side of the road. It's actually next to THIS HOUSE. I have no idea what it looks like because it's dark but it looks promising. So I stop the car and in my excitement, do not turn down the radio. And leave my door open. The street is dark and there I am, like a beacon, all in my haste to examine a possible treasure. And treasure it was! (or will be anyway.)

It's heavier and larger than it looks. I had my Explorer so at first I tried shoving it in the back seat. When that didn't work I decided to put the seats down and load it from the back. This would be fine except that I have a load of returnable bottles/cans back there that I have been procrastinating on returning.. So first I had to move those. While messing with the bottles some fall out of the Wegmans bag they are in and clatter all over the road..... Finally, I heave it into the back of the truck (Did I mention it was pretty cold out tonight?) and of course, the back door won't close. Ok, fine, I'll just drive slowly. I get in. turn down the raido and turn on the truck... Did I mention I need a muffler? It's not usually that bad because I can't actually hear it with the windows up (and music on) but with the back door open it sounded really LOUD....So there I am, once again, on the nicest street in my town, acting like total trash..... Not only do I look like Fred Sanford, I also sound like him... Really, if you see me in the halls at preschool I seem pretty normal...You really would not suspect this latent love of other people's garbage. I bet I have a syndrome or something.....

I really like it. It will make a good winter project and needs only a small amount of repair to the back. (Michael??) I'm thinking that I'll either paint it white and upholster it with tan burlap or black and perhaps leopard print. I'm planning on putting it in my front hallway so I may go with the white.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sundy Soup On Friday & General Musing

So I'm sitting here with my rocker pulled right up to the fireplace. I have my feet up on my daughter's little chair and I'm warming my toes. (and I fully realize I would NEVER let my child put her chair this close to the fireplace ) It's cosy. And quiet. Everyone else is sleeping.

I made my Sunday soup on Friday. We wanted a light supper and my husband suggested French Onion Soup and something else. We never got to the something else. This soup was so good and so easy. I also added 1/2 cup white wine and simmered the soup with fresh parsley and thyme and a bay leaf, all of which I removed before serving. I used homemade bread and Gruyère cheese. I used mayan sweet onions and cooked them until they were golden and soft. Over an hour at least. That is really the key to the whole thing. Butter and onions. You can go wrong.

All in all this is a really inexpensive soup to make. If you don't want to purchase Gruyère you could use swiss but I prefer the Gruyère. I used Wegmans culinary stock for the beef stock and it's rather good. I'm all about making my own chicken stock. And while homemade beef stock makes this soup AMAZING, I find it rather cumbersome so use store bought.

I am so over turkey. So over it. Even a thrifty gal like me needs to stop with the leftovers at some point. We had leftovers for dinner and I threw away the rest. Enough is enough with Thanksgiving food. I am luckliy, not one of those people who has turkey for Christmas.

Which brings me to Christmas. I did not partake in any kind of Black Friday madness. I'm not about the crowds, getting up early (ever), the rushing and spending lots of money at once gives me hives. I'll probably order things on line this week.

This time of year brings out one of my inner struggles as a parent. Too much.....Too little, which way to go? On one hand, I feel like the Christmas season brings with it too much food, too many parties, too much Santa and WAY too many gifts. On the other hand, maybe I need to lighten up.

I'm generally not comfortable with excess (unless it's butter, clearly) so Christmas can really press my buttons.

And Christmas decorations. What is the DEAL with these. I like Christmas decor and have my fair share. I like things to look nice. I like crafts. I get it.

What I wonder about every year is doesn't everyone already have enough already??? Do we all really consume enough to justify stores filling themselves to the brim yearly with brand new decorations? Where does it all go? How many rubbermaid tubs full of Christmas decor can this world handle??? I know that sounds scroogey but really.. It's only one day.... Or at least, one month....

That said, I did put up my favorite Christmas tree today. I have one in my dining room full of vintage looking ornaments. It's a tall skinny tree. I tried to put it in the antique looking firkin next to it but that just was not working out.

I miss fall already....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Elves

Remember this:

Take a look now!!!

My sweet little brother and his wife were done early with their Landscaping jobs today and they came over and cleaned up the yard as a surprise. Holy Cow!!! They even edged and cleaned up the vegetable garden.... I was so overwhelmed! I took the picture through the window because I think my brother would find me taking a picture of him raking rather odd.... Don't worry, they didn't rake the whole yard, they have blowers and professional equipment. He just raked the garden because I needed the leaves on top of the actual beds but not in the paths. What sweethearts.

I also had a little girl here today that wanted to pick the herbs for the Thanksgiving meal so I let her do that. I want her to learn about the garden so I'm pretty relaxed about her picking stuff and playing with it. It's an herb garden and she likes to carry them around and smell them and learn their names. The only ones she can remember are chives and lemon balm. She kept running in and out of the house with bunches of herbs and bringing them to me and putting them around the house to make it "smell good" so now I have sage and chive potpourri hiding in nooks and crannies.

Other items of note today:

1) I made this cake and IT WEIGHS 3 1/4 LBS!!!! I weighed it. I realized after it was in the oven that I forgot one of the 6 eggs, so this cake only has 5 eggs in it. Steph-I also used salted butter and thought that batter tasted a little salty. The cake, which I broke a small piece off the bottom seems to taste fine though.

2) I am feeling rather sick from eating stuffing and raw cake batter right about now.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Moon

So Kristin and I went to see New Moon last night.

I'd like to clarify something for a moment.

I DID read the books. I am NOT one of those 30 something-year-olds wearing a Twilight tee shirt to the movie and I do not have couragish longings for teenage vampires. (And besides, I am quite SURE that you have to be at LEAST 40 to be considered a Cougar anyway.)

That said, I have to mention that when Taylor Lautner took off his shirt for the first time there were AUDIBLE (not from me) gasps and giggles in the theater. Audible. From a lot of people. I've never heard that before at a movie. I think I blushed but it was too dark to tell. I spent much of the time that he had his shirt off, slightly embarrassed that I was looking (intently).

Anyway, the movie was good. Much less hokey than Twilight and Bella didn't look like she was suffering through a stomach bug through this entire movie. I have to say, I think I'm one of the few people who find the Jacob/Bella story more compelling than the epic love of Bella and Edward. I can clearly see how being with a werewolf would have distinct advantages over being with a vampire (abs notwithstanding).

Oh, did I just say that out loud???

Theres a Whole Lotta Chopping Going On

Around here...

We've got a pretty delicious Thanksgiving meal planned this year. However, it seems that it has a lot of pieces. Vegetable pieces that is. So my Dad picked up my daughter this morning so I could spend the day chopping. Tomorrow we can start the actual cooking, but today I'm just working on getting the food to the point where we can cook it. On my list of things to chop-Shallots, Leeks, Garlic, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Bread (which I need to first bake for stuffing), herbs & bacon.

I really like this kind of meal prep when I have the time. If I do it this way, then the cooking goes much easier for us. Tomorrow I will bake desserts and assemble the side dishes that I can. By Thanksgiving much of the work will be done and we can just pop the stuff in the oven. My husband is completely in charge of the turkey, although I just made a pancetta sage butter for the outside of it. My fridge is filled with lots of butter and enough heavy cream to give anyone a heart attack.

Today I've got a fall scented candle burning and Christmas music (uugh, I KNOW) playing and I'm in a Zen chopping mode. I'm thinking of my family who will eat this food and thinking of it all as an act of love. I'm not at all bothered by the fact that I'm spending days on this meal that will be consumed in 30 minutes. That's the complaint of so many a woman who has slaved over something all day long only to see it completely devoured isn't it. I think if I was rushing to get it done and had to produce it in one day then that IS how I would feel. This way I get to enjoy the process of it without that feeling.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Love Talking About You, But Occasionally, I Want To Talk About Me.

Ok Friends, enough about you. I want to talk about me.

Forget for a minute that this is actually my blog and it's mostly about me anyway.....

Now it's your turn. Since I've been so kind as to think about you and present you in the kindest light I can think of, while still showing the world your funny or sensative sides as well, I think it's time you repaid the favor. So (Jen, Paul, Kristin, Jacquie, Leighanne & Deanna) everyone, it's your turn. Please leave your comments in the comment section and please keep them G-Rated!! If you are not one of the people I wrote little dittys about still feel free to comment.

Pioneer Dinner Party

Last year, when I was a pioneer who died of Malaria, they gave me a reciept (recipe) book of all of the items that I was to cook that weekend. While I did not get to all of them, (Squirrel) I cooked many of them and had wanted to have a dinner party so my friends could share them with us. The foods were very much fall inspired so I waited the entire year to have this dinner. I sent everyone receipts to make and they all did fabulously!

When people arrived I made them churn butter for the meal. This took them an hour taking turns (I think I made my own in about 30 min) They were, however, drinking wine, so perhaps that slowed the process a little as churning usually requires two hands.....

Dinner was:

-Green Tomato & Jalapeno Jam over cream cheese on crackers-we didn't actually eat this as pioneers but I recently made it and thought it was a rather frugal way to make use of green tomatoes. A few guests complained that I didn't make my own crackers. It was yummy though and we'll be serving it for Thanksgiving while people have drinks.

-Pumpkin Apple Soup

-Artisan Bread with Homemade Butter (see above!)

-Sauteed Apples and Onions

-Carrots with brown sugar and herbs

-My fingerling potatoes with leeks-Not part of the original meal, but you can't get much more pioneer than growing your own side dish right?

-Rotisserie Pork Roast-This was neat at the museum-I took a pork roast and tied it between 2 sticks. Then strung it next to the fire and twirled it ALL DAY LONG. It acted like a rotisserie and the taste of this pork roast was really really great. We used the grill rotisserie last night and it worked well.

-Apple Ketchup-This is a rather appley/spicy condiment. I made a full batch and sent guest home with a jar.

-Laura Ingalls's Gingerbread Cake. Also, not on the original menu. Someone else made a dessert for the dance that I didn't get to attend. I don't recall ever hearing about it. When Deanna and Bridget visited me in the infirmary during the dance I was in the final stages of Yellow Fever and no one wanted to mention food....

All in all, everyone thought that the pioneers ate really well. What they didn't actually experience. (as we all cooked pieces of this meal) is that a meal like this takes all day long to make as well as many journeys to the well for water. And I'm just talking about the main part, not including the appetizer, soup or dessert, which would not have been a usual part of the meal. The soup would have been it's own meal.

I'm fascinated by the way in which people used to live but I know I tend to romanticize pioneer life sometimes. Mostly because I get a real thrill doing things by hand. But really, I do those things in my heated or cooled house, on my own time, and not as a means to survival. In practice it was much different.

When I was at the museum they gave me Women's Diaries of The Westward Journey which I read by candlelight next to the fireplace with a shawl on. (Yeah, how jazzed was I at that point?!?!?) It was an amazing glimpse into the lives of those women, much of which was filled with struggle and heartbreak. One woman loses her husband to Cholera (and she also notes that she's been wearing the same dress for 6 weeks while tending to all the sick on the wagon train) and she turns around and marries a bachelor who is heading west as well. I mean, like the next day! Not because she loved him of course, but because she was halfway to her destination, could not go home and could not set up a homestead alone. Good Lord.....

Real pioneers spent most of their lives just surviving and rather isolated. How far can you go when you need to haul water and cook all day just to meet your basic dietary requirements. And while you are inside doing this your husband works tirelessly on crops, hunting and providing food and firewood.

If you happened to live before the time when textile mills appeared, things were much much worse for you. A family had to spend part of every day in the production of their own fabric if they wanted any clothes at all.

And now that I've made you all grateful that you live in this day and age, go get some more coffee and get back to work in your nice heated offices!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You Have NO IDEA

When I was in college I would go home for Thanksgiving break. Every Thanksgiving night after my own families festivities were over, I would head to Stephanie's house for leftover mashed potatoes and dessert. It became a tradition and her family was always so welcoming to me. Her mom, the beautiful Mrs Accongio, gave me pointers on being a cool blond and taught me to shimmy..... (I'm still working on getting the cool blond act right however. )

There was always this FANTASTIC pound cake. I've spent years remembering that cake. We recently starting talking about it again and Stephanie asked her mom for the recipe.

Just today this recipe made it to my in-box. It completely made my day and I am thrilled to share it with you. I am not kidding you folks, this is the best cake EVER. It's dense, it's velvety, it's buttery. Seriously, it's a good thing I'm not diabetic because I would probably put myself into a coma with this cake. My goodness, look at the ingredients!! A POUND of combined butter and Margarine, 6 Eggs and Cream Cheese.....

I am SOOOOOO making this for Thanksgiving this year!

Best Pound Cake Ever
3 C. Softasilk Cake flour ( must use a cake flour for this recipe- all purpose will not work)
6 eggs at room temperature
3 C. sugar
1 8oz. package of cream cheese softened at room temp
1/2 pound of butter softened at room temp
1/2 pound of margarine softened at room temp
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon rind (optional- can also use orange rind) be sure not to get the bitter white membrane

1. Cream well: sugar, cream cheese, butter and margarine, salt, vanilla, and optional lemon rind.
2. Gradually add 3 C flour. One cup at a time and gently mix after each addition
3. Add 6 eggs 1 at a time mix after each egg.

Put batter into WELL greased (buttered) Bundt pan

DO NOT preheat oven! Bake at 300degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. until golden brown
(usually about 2 hours)

I usually make This Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving. It's simply the perfect classic pumpkin pie with exactly the right amount and blend of spices. I love this pie and look forward to it every year. Alas, I am saving myself for my rekindled love with Pound Cake.

Grandma Bags Thanksgiving

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. Yesterday my grandma called me to tell me that she would not be attending.

The reason:

She has to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family........

Hmmm...Isn't that something the granddaughter is supposed to call and say? Who the heck made me the adult that you call to beg off for major holidays? When did this shift occur? It's like I woke up one day and was all grown up.....

I don't mind at all. She really wants to do this for him because they always spend it with us and he hasn't had Thanksgiving with his own family for quite some time. She said they might even stop over for dessert or something.

That is if they don't have to stop off and make out somewhere in his Cadillac.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deanna, Queen of All Best Friends

Not to be confused with Queen of All Bosses, which is me.

Truthfully folks, I would have written this one sooner but there was much back office negotiating going on. Many things I couldn't say. Things that our lawyers had to ok and approve. Paperwork to sign. Quid Pro Quo items that, for instance, if I told you about my inauspicious beginnings with Deanna, she would tell the world the "Mr. Hibbs Bowtie" incident or The Case of The Small Rocking chair (like that Nancy Drew reference Deanna?) which are known only by a select few. (like the 2 of us)

Despite these things, there is still much to say. A long time ago Deanna dubbed herself my wondertwin and she's correct. Did you ever have someone who can read your mind? The other day in the car the conversation went something like this:

"What time is it?"
"Almost noon."
"How long??..."
"Yeah, I think we should eat here too instead of waiting"
"Exactly what I was thinking"

Poor Karen in the back seat had no idea what we were talking about. We knew. In that shorthand way we have of talking sometimes. The other day we were talking about something and I thought the word "enemy" in my head right before she said it. It wasn't something you would normally associate with an enemy....It happens so much we don't even think it's strange. It just is.

She is a terribly loyal friend. She plans the best parties with THEMES. She's elaborate. She's smart and has a quick dry wit that can skewer you and make you laugh all at the same time. She's a true soul mate of mine.

There are many dumb entertaining stories that we would be happy to sit down and tell you over a bottle of wine. We'll laugh until we cry and you can shake your head and look for the nearest escape. Like Jen & I, we are completely entertaining to ourselves. To others, not so much.

Our birthdays are the 1st and the 5th of August. (2 Bold Leo's together can be insufferable. Throw our Leo friend Michael in the mix and we are either all very funny or completely obnoxious) . We call the 3rd "our" birthday. One year, when we were on a break (yes, I know I said I would not mention it) she didn't call me. I boo hoo cried like a baby over her. She's the only woman I've ever wept over with loss.

She has a wonderful husband and 2 gorgeous daughters. Her oldest, Olivia, was born from my egg. (Ok, she really wasn't, I just say it all the time.) She's very much like me, She's noise sensitive, very smart and her love for Little House on The Prairie rivals my own. This past summer she came to my house in a bonnet and I had her harvest veggies from my garden into my wooden bowl. I also had her churn butter and make bread. SHE LOVED IT! Before she had her own little sister, I had already had my daughter. She once asked Deanna,

"Can Emma be a sister to me like Aunt Chrissy is to you?"

Even at 4 years old, she got it!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Step Right Up Leighanne!

We're nearing the home stretch folks. I've got one more of these little numbers to write after this one and then my blog readership will be hovering somewhere in the 20's....I'm sure if it.

As with the rest of my friends, Leighanne and I had a less than ideal start. (Inauspicious for lack of a better word.) She sat next to me and was my homework partner in 10th grade Social Studies. When I called her she gave me the homework and quickly tried to get off the phone. I tried engaging her in conversation, she tried even harder to get off the phone. I was chatty, she was silent....My goodness, I think the girl hardly even liked me at first.

Eventually she warmed up to me and became part of my group of friends. She was alway the one everyone liked. She was also always a "By the rules girl." Leighanne turned 21 six months before the rest of us and sometimes (only sometimes) we could convince her into buying us beer. One night a bunch of us finally convinced her that she should buy us a CRAP load of beer/wine coolers. We loaded them all into a big cooler which we carried to the beach. During all the reveling we noticed that a policeman was patrolling nearby. We quickly closed the cooler and waited for him to come over. Deanna probably said something about not making a scene. Just as the policeman made his way up and said hello I tripped over the cooler and spilled all of the alcohol at his feet. I don't think she ever bought us beer again..

Leighanne is all about her car, which probably explains why we've solved almost every life crisis that either of us have had while. "Doing The Ride" as in, "Let's get coffee and do the ride, ok." This means we drive all over and talk a lot. We don't always solve problems, sometimes we just chat. She is one of those people I can have marathon chat sessions with. I can't imagine the fossil fuel we've burned. All this driving however, has not improved her sense of direction in the slightest....

Her favorite line from a movie is from Steel Magnolias, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." and she practices it well. If I'm crying or she is, rest assured, we will find something to laugh about before we are done. It's hard to put into words the gratitude that I feel for this woman who has been there for my every heartbreak and setback and every time I've just wanted to bitch about something. In my head I see her metaphorically picking me up, dusting me off a little, and getting me back on track. Leighanne is family to me. There is no other way to describe it.

Leighanne waited a while to get married and when she did, she found a gem of a man, in Tim. They have a beautifully decorated home (thanks to Tim) and two lovely dogs. Leighanne is a dog person and has a relationship with animals that I envy.

As many of you know, her stepson was killed in a car accident the day after her wedding. She has shown so much grace and wisdom in the two years since, that she has brought both her and her husband through the fire. This has not been easy and a lesser women would have failed.

She doesn't think so but she is one of the strongest people I know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Postcards From The Backyard

Do you like my new header? It's the big tree in my backyard. It was a beautiful fall day here today so I got outside and took some pictures.

I love love my white picket fence. It looks like the gate to somewhere. (Just my compost pile actually) It's old and one part falls down in heavy wind storms, which is not so great.

Even my old shed looks better in sunlight and leaves.

Look, a blooper! Look who is eating the compost!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lily Dale Visit With A Medium

This past Saturday I went to Lily Dale with Deanna and Karen for a session with a medium.

Lily Dale is a small community of mediums, right outside of Fredonia NY, where I went to college. Deanna and I had gone to this medium in college and our friend Leighanne also went recently. In college, Deanna's reading was particularly accurate. I also remember some accuracies in my own.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat by the lake as one of us was having our sessions. Karen kept us laughing the whole day. There was coffee (That, OH MY GOD college friends of mine, I got in the BOTTOM OF CRANSTON HALL. There was a Starbucks there. Yes, right in Cranston...Right where we would swipe our meal card before heading up the stairs.) That was later in the trip though.

I'm not sure where I stand on the whole medium thing. I tried to reason out some things with myself but I will say that there were some things she go so very clearly and some rather personal things I'm not posting that were also very spot on. I have no explanation for this otherwise.

Things of note from my reading.

-My grandmother is with me quite often (which is a nice wonderful thought for me) and with her husband Joe/Joseph (This IS my grandfather. She hit this right on the nose. No hesitation in the name and it was the first thing she said.) It was strange. She's also wearing curlers and a hair net at one point....(Which she did actually do) Many nice grandma messages. Like big hugs.

-2010 will be a special good time for me. Like getting a big fortune cookie. (really? Do I have to add In-Bed to the end of it??) The medium kept using the word auspicious, which is funny, because in this blog I keep using the word inauspicious. If this is to be believed, I'm excited about my 2010! I could use a big fortune cookie of a year.

-I have a green aura

-I have an analytic mind (which I do.)

-Some promising job news. (which would really make me happy)

-I'm working through some stuff from WWI?!?!? Now really. I would have said that I was working through some stuff from pioneer times. However, I actually kind of suck at being a pioneer. Maybe this makes more sense? She didn't say what country I was in at the time. I didn't think to ask....

-I'm going to have a long career, a nice paycheck and a good retirement. This makes me happy on two levels, 1) That I will, in fact, have a career again. 2) That I will live until I am old enough to retire.

-I'm taking a fun trip.....Soon! (at the moment I have no such plans)

-My daughter has curly hair (while I have straight) is smart, and is going to be good with men. That's weird to tell me isn't it? Do I need that info? Guess I better get ready for that one....She said the words Femme Fatale. (in a good way she said. Is there a good way to be one of those?) That freaks me out a little....

-I'm moving south sometime down the road even though I would have never have guessed this and don't really want to?!?!? Possibly for a few years.....hmmmm.....

-More babies around me....(la la la (fingers in ears) la la la.) Um No. Really, no....I'm preferring to think of these as someone else's babies that I really like a lot. I think she was probably confused because I was wearing my photofinish primer and looked younger than I am....

-A small surgical procedure..... Yikes, I don't like the sound of that. I should be fine though in case you are worried.

-One of my spirit guides is a Geshia?!?!?!?

-One of my spirit guides is an Indian (The kind with feathers) he said I've lost some weight and something about eating popcorn. The thing is I have lost some weight and just the night before the reading I WAS eating popcorn...Weird.

-The best one was that my grandmother was laughing about The Statue Of Liberty. This one was really weird to me because my daughter often pretends to be the Statue Of Liberty and it cracks us all up (especially the grandparents).

-Interesting stuff about my brother.

-My spirit guides kept saying "You write the book...." She said she's never gotten that message before. I don't know if this means I'm writing my own story as there was a lot of mention to me about my own free will or that I need to write a book.

Deanna thinks it means. "You write the blog..."

Sunday Soup

Tonight, for my Sunday Soup I made my Mushroom Barley Soup. I've made this so many times that I don't really use a recipe for this, but you can see mine if you click on the link.

I really like this soup. I have a more complicated, more expensive Porcini Mushroom Barley soup with Prosciutto that I like to make if I am feeling decadent. But they didn't have any Porcinis today at Wegmans so I decided to use my old standby. It's simple, approachable. No fuss. Anyone would eat this. I like it in the fall and winter and this is one of those soups that really is better the next day. It's not fancy, but it's good.

I also made a crustless quiche with a little bacon, cheese, my last zucchini and some tomatoes that have actually been ripening on my windowsill & a little garlic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Knitting For The Soul

Before I became pregnant with my daughter I had a miscarriage.

I took it badly. Really badly.

About 3 days prior to having the miscarriage I had learned to knit. It was a random thing I had wanted to learn for awhile. I was clumsy at first.

I don't know why, but something that weekend made me pick up those needles and I began to knit.

And knit.

And knit. It was a little like Forest Gump running in that movie.

I think at the time I only knew the knit stitch. I couldn't purl. I would knit just about anywhere and it was the one thing that kept me hanging in there. Sometimes I would sit in the rocking chair and knit, the chair and my knitting moving in time with each other.

Knitting has a meditative quality to it. A rhythm, if you will, that forces you to focus and yet, let go. It quiets your mind. I'm not the only person who thinks that, by the way. In my knitting journey I've spoken with a lot of knitters who feel the same.

I had the miscarriage in September and by December, everyone I knew got scarves for Christmas. I took some classes. I knitted bags. I knitted socks in January. (Ok, I knitted A sock. Socks are actually pretty difficult, that whole heel thing is done on 4 or 5 double point needles. If you ever get handknit socks from someone it means you are pretty special.) When it took a long time for me to get pregnant, I knitted a sweater.

And the yarn. Oh, I love expensive yarn.

Knitting, is, of course, a tactile experience and one made better or worse by the feel of the yarn on your fingers. I'm not a sophisticated knitter by any stretch and for me, the quality of the yarn has a lot to do with the quality of the finished product. (In my pieces anyway) There is nothing like hand-dyed or hand-painted yarn of natural fiber. The one in the picture I've had for some time. It looks like indian corn and has the slightest sheen to it. I've knit it into 2 other things that just didn't work. This time it's a scarf for myself. Those colors, well that's what color I am on the inside.

Knitting is basically making knots in yarn with 2 sticks. You can get really complicated with it or not. I used to envision that while I was knitting all of those little knots, that some of the knots deep inside of myself were slowly, very slowly, unwinding.

At first this made me uneasy giving people my knitting. It was as if I had knitted all of that grief into those pieces. What I realized later is that really, I had knitted my peace into them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indie Music Treat-Chris Wilson

On of my favorite musical artists is someone you probably don't know. Chris Wilson.

About 2 years ago he was performing at one of my favorite local shops, The Good Old Days Country Store.

I picked up a cd and was hooked. His songs are great and his voice is beautiful. His voice live is exactly the same as the CD.

This past Friday I was out there with my Aunt. I struck up a conversation with him about my favorite song and why. On Sunday, when I went back to pick up his newest CD he took some requests and played it for me! That was so neat, except I needed to really resist singing out loud (something I should NEVER do in public!)

You can go to his myspace music page and he has a pop out music player. So if you are sitting at your desk (well not that I ever could have listened to music at my desk) or at home a little later take a listen. His version of I Will Survive, gives the song a completely different meaning, it's amazing.

He also has 2 gorgeous Christmas CDs. that I'm going to start playing any second.

Buying Makeup On eBay

The other day at Ulta, I spied a small tube of a product I've wanted to try for a while. Smashbox's Photo Finish, which retails for $36!!! (Yes, I know Karley, my face is probably going to fall off from using this stuff right???) The small tube was $16.

I have no idea what possessed me to shell out $16 for a very small tube of makeup primer. Those who know me would NEVER expect this out of me. But I did and I really liked it....

By the time I got home I realized I should have checked on eBay.

I've actually sold a lot of makeup on eBay. (It's a long story) The makeup was new and sealed and sold for a lot less than it's retail price. This is especially true for high end brands.

For example, when I looked, the $36 dollar of makeup primer could be had for $20 with free shipping. You don't even need to leave the house and you can save $16. How easy is that. When I finish this little tube, that is exactly what I'm doing!

Here are a few things to consider when buying makeup on eBay.

1) Always check the seller's rating and feedback.

2) Make sure you are buying new, sealed makeup. Ask the seller a question if you can't tell for sure.

3) Make sure they have a return/refund policy. For things like personal care products you want to be especially careful with stuff like this.

4) Ask for the expiration date if the product has one. Sometimes they don't.

5) If you DO get a bad product nicely email the seller and explain the problem. With something a small as makeup they should give you a full refund. I'm not saying they always will but for myself, since I could not open the makeup to make sure it was ok. I had to rely on the fact that it was sealed. As with anything else, there is always the chance an unopened product could be faulty. I just trusted the customer and refunded whenever this came up. I think I refunded maybe 3 people's money.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Is it illegal to cut foliage down from a public park in the town that you live in and pay taxes in? What about if it was something that will grow back? What if it is actually a highly invasive species. What if you found it chocking a tree? Is it still morally wrong???


I love decorating with natural elements. Last year, after Thanksgiving, I noticed that a local park had an abundance of Bittersweet through one part that I drive through. Have you ever purchased this stuff for decorating? It's like $5 for a little bouquet. Then it sheds and you have to toss it out.

Anyway, I vowed to remember where it was so I could use it for Thanksgiving decorating this year. I was not sure if it was the harmless American Bittersweet or the invasive Oriental Bittersweet. I assumed it was the latter because it was covering other trees and I was right.

So I cut a bunch down (I'll be honest, I didn't just cut it down because it was the bad kind, I would have cut it down if it was the other kind as well-It IS a perennial) and had enough to put in a few different places around the house.

As for disposal, I'm up in the air. I would usually throw something like this in the compost pile but I'm afraid of it seeding and messing up my woods. I'll probably toss it out in the garbage instead.

My Next Victim-Jacquie

Ever since I wrote about Jen, frankly, I'm surprised at how many of you actually want to hear my opinion about you.

Enter, Jacquie.

Another inauspicious start. (I swear to you, I'm not always socially awkward. Just with people with whom I'm about to form long term bonds. And another thing. You may want to think twice about befriending me because it's hard to escape. People have tried, they are still trying...)

Anyway, in the first grade I somehow got stuck sitting with the new girl on the bus ride home. I don't remember how this next part happened but at one point the girl started leaking chocolate pudding. Everywhere.....It was coming from her lunchbox. Apparently, her thermos. She was getting covered in it. She looked at me with a pained expression and said,

" Can I have that?" She motioned to the ART PROJECT in my hands. The one I had made out of a Styrofoam meat tray, into which, I had carved a design with a pencil.
Ok, as a first grader I did not really say that, but let me tell you, had I know about those words and their meaning I would have at least thought it. She wanted it, to PUT HER LEAKING LUNCH BOX ON.

And so I gave it to her. And when I say, "and so I gave it to her" don't be fooled, reader, into believing that I wanted to give it to her. Or that I was being all nice to the new girl because I wasn't. I didn't think I had many options. I had the window seat. I was trapped next to a pudding-leaking new girl. What would you have done?

She turned out to live across the street from me.

A little while later the doorbell rang.

Standing there was Pudding Girl.

She had my art project. It was obvious that she had tried to clean it off herself because all the little grooves that I had carved out were all still filled with pudding!!!!

But what a sweet gesture. I assure you, that I did not get that at the time. But as an adult I can see how that sweet little pudding girl grew into the nurturing momma hen that she is today. I can almost cry over that little girl with my dirty art project.

Jacquie is one of my oldest and best friends. She has a huge laugh that reminds me of Paula Dean. (or rather Paula reminds me of Jacquie) I can hear it in my head as I type this. We shared every first day of school together from the 2nd grade on. (Including the one where I was wearing the awkward cranberry skirt. I would scan it for you all to see but she would kill me, she hates that picture. She does, in fact, look worse than I do.) We learned how to apply blue eyeshadow together and we were going to marry members of Duran Duran . We spent summer days in her pool and summer nights having sleepovers. Her family treated me like their 4th daughter. She got her period and breasts before I did and let me know it. I grew mine larger, just to spite her.

Despite all this growing up together, we could not BE more different. I tell her she's cheesy and she laughs at me. She lives in a BIG house with BIG hair and BIG everything but she emailed me when she started recycling!!! She has a big personality that I love and a huge capacity to love others (unless she hates them and then she REALLY hates them.) She's loyal and is very popular wherever she goes. She was way more popular than I was in school and people have always gravitated to her.

She lives in NC and is married to the love of her life, Jimmy, who installs light fixtures when he visits. She has 2 beautiful children. Every time I see her it's like no time has passed. The last time I visited her in NC I started crying when I got in line to board and didn't stop until we were airborne. I'm sure people thought I was working thought some major stuff. Nope, just missing my Jacquie already!

I will truly know that woman forever and I'm so lucky to be able to say that.

She reads my blog every day but NEVER comments... She better comment on this one-A deal is a deal Jacquie. And since I told you the library will let you rent DVD's for free, you owe me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Soup & Muffins

Awhile ago, back when I worked actually, I designated Sundays (In the fall & winter anyway) as a day to make soup & muffins or quiche or something for breakfast that we could eat for more than one day. Then we could either have the soup on Monday evening for dinner or pack it for lunches during the week.

I've kind of gotten away from that but was thinking I should re-institute it. Being home I guess I can make soup any time I want, but I tend to work better with a schedule. I think I'll post my recipes each week in case you want to play along at home!

So today I made:

Butternut Soup with Cider Cream. I actually skipped the cream on this one because I didn't have any whipping cream. I also skipped the sour cream in the soup as I felt like this would be a nice non-dairy soup to have (even a dairy whore like myself needs to take a break sometime.) This soup is fabulous! You can taste both the squash and apple and the carrots and leeks give it a nice
depth of flavor.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. My girl and I made these together. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is a great way to incorporate whole wheat flour into your baking without experiencing all the heaviness that is usually associated with exchanging whole wheat for white flour. I was going to skip the chocolate chips but then changed my mind and chopped up some Halloween chocolate bars instead. This of course, took this item from the breakfast to snack category but I've never been convinced a muffin is really breakfast food anyway (The ingredients are the exact SAME as cake people!) These are YUMMY!!!

Meeting Jan Brett

I love Jan Brett books and I have been reading them to my girl since we started reading to her! Her art work is stunning! She is one of our favorite children's authors around here!

Last year my daughter's pre-school class did a whole unit on Jan Brett and my husband and daughter saw "The Mitten" put on as a play at The Strong Museum.

Saturday evening, Wegmans put on a book signing (which was free) for her new book and I was thrilled to be able to go with my girl!

She was very cute!
She spoke for about 20 minutes. We had a spot up in front which was really neat. My girlie was pretty excited about meeting/seeing someone who writes her books! She (Jan Brett, not my daughter) drew the bear from "The Mitten." The kids were in awe as was I. She drew this very quickly and was really entertaining. She told us that it usually takes her one hour per inch of picture when she's illustrating a book

Then we saw her bus.
And met Hedgie the Hedgehog.

She was really sweet to each of the kids and spoke with each one as she signed their book.

"Oh Jan Brett, we love you so much" says me. She looks really impressed by this....I'm sure she's heard this from about a million people.

A very fun time for both me and my girl!

You know, I was thinking yesterday that I should have posted this for local readers to see BEFORE the event. Sorry. If you don't live locally and you are interested you may want to check out her website for dates near you. Even if you have missed this you may want to still take a look because she has a lot of neat activities and coloring pages right from her books, which is pretty neat if you've read the books!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked Cabbage With Bacon

I think cabbage is a pretty underrated vegetable. Being of Slavic descent, perhaps it's in my blood. I just think it gets a bum rap. It's tasty and really good for you. The problem with cabbage is that, alone, boiled, it's pretty bad. Same with Brussels Sprouts (I have a killer Brussels Sprouts Recipe I'll share soon as well) I love coleslaw and sauerkraut and have been known to eat my share of stuffed cabbage rolls that mom makes. When you dress up cabbage it can be great.

The other day I was looking at my sparse looking fridge and trying to decide on a side dish for supper.

I had a HUGE cabbage that I got from a local Farm Market for $1. I also had leeks & green onion in the garden. Upon closer inspection of the freezer, I had 5 pieces of bacon. Bingo-Everything necessary for my favorite cabbage recipe ever. You also need whole wheat bread crumbs but I had those as well.

Baked Cabbage With Bacon

Holy cow is this ever good! I first made it back on St Patrick's Day as an alternative to normal boiled cabbage with butter. It was a hit. It calls for 3/4 lb of bacon but as you can see, I got by with much less and it was fine. Really-Butter & Bacon how can you go wrong, right?? Mixed with the cooked down cabbage and buttery leeks, this is a side dish that even non-cabbage eaters like.

At this time of year cabbage is plentiful and cheap. If you don't want to buy yourself a leek, come on over, I've got plenty!

Holey Crap

My almost-5-year-old daughter, much to my chagrin, no longer naps. Once in a while she'll doze off, but not usually. And trust me, by that time of day, I really need a break.

We've instituted quiet time in her room. She listens to a book on tape/cd. Once in a while, classical music. Sometimes she lies in bed and sometimes she plays quietly with some of the toys in her room or draws with markers/crayons. It's all very peaceful. Usually.....

So it was, yesterday when I went upstairs to work in my study. After about 20 minutes there was hysterical crying coming from her room. I rushed down the stairs and when I flung open the door I stood there, mouth wide open, dumbfounded. (clearly I am easily dumbfounded these days.)

She had taken her child safety scissors and CUT HOLES IN HER PANTS AND SHIRT. The ones she was wearing!!! Lots of holes.....Big holes. There was hair laying around her on the floor. Actually, she has so much hair that it was hard to find where she cut if from. Today I found more of her hair hidden under her bed. Stephanie suggested she was rebelling from the other day when I would not let her wear a dirty shirt out in public....

She was crying so much that I didn't even have to reprimand her. She KNEW she had done something wrong. She buried her head in my shoulder and I could not even get her to look at me. I tried hard not to laugh audibly. I just could not believe she had the nerve to cut such BIG holes.

In for a penny, in for a pound I guess.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buck Up!

You may have heard me mention the deer population in my town.

It's large and at this point I'm not impressed by them. I rarely give them a second look.

Today after I dropped my daughter off at pre-school I was in the office area looking out over the hill in the back of the school. Up the hill comes galloping a beautiful buck, complete with antlers. (Even though we have a lot of deer, a buck with a big rack is still pretty impressive to me.)

I was transfixed as I watched him walk right up to one of the windows in the building. He took his horns and knocked against the window a little. Then he knocked a little harder. I watched some more. I could not take my eyes off him. He backed up, his hackles were up, clearly thinking his reflection was another deer. I've never seen anything like this. He got into a stance that looked ready to bolt at the window when someone walked in and startled me by saying,

"Uh, don't you think we should maybe do something about that before he runs through the window?"

"Oh my, yes!"

I ran to the door and scared him away and tragedy was averted!

My Girlfriend Kristin

Time for my latest round of pandering to my readers.

This is my friend Kristin. I met Kristin on the first day of 7th grade. I was wearing an awkward cranberry colored skirt and white polo shirt and she was carrying an ugly purse that I found off putting. I only talked to her because the only other friend I met that day was talking to her. It was NOT love at first sight for either of us.

Small note. You may notice that many of my friendships have had less than auspicious starts ( I accidentally gave the bird to my other friend Kristin's husband shortly after I met them). And despite that, many many years later, I still have these friends. I do, in fact, get better over time. So if you've only recently met me and find me a complete pain in the ass, in say, 10 years, you won't. Ok, maybe you still will, but you'll still be glad you stayed. Just give me a chance.

Anyway, Kristin & I became the kind of annoying friends that mom's of teenage girls hate. We talked on the phone CONSTANTLY. And this was before call waiting! Her mom would pick up the phone and say, "It's that DAMN Chrissy WYyyyyyysocky" Seriously. We would laugh and laugh. We would write each other silly teenage notes and I would write "DON'T SHOW ANYONE" on them in big letters. Really, you should have seen the contents of these things. NO ONE WOULD HAVE GIVEN A DAMN!!!! These notes can make us laugh until we cry these days and I'm so glad she saved them. (In preparation to see New Moon, we are planning to rent Twilight, eat pizza and read the notes so we can get in touch with our inner teenage girl before we go and get all swoony over vampires!)

I could (still can) tell that girl anything. She never judges and always has a shoulder if you need it and a kind word. It's like getting a big hug.

She's a real giver. She works in a group home for children. She has an inspiring faith in God. She sings like an angel. She is mommy to the beautiful Corrine, a sunny child whose grasp of the English language (and pronunciation!!!) completely floors me.

I'm so glad she stayed after that purse incident.

Ok now folks, I still have spots avaliable into next week....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When Worlds Collide

If you've read my blog for any length of time or talked to me in person, you know that I'm a big proponent of eating locally, going to the farmer's market & of course, growing my own veggies.

I was moved by Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a veritable love letter to eating locally. It's well written, informative and makes you feel really good for eating locally grown green beans. (It's a tad bit elitist I think actually, but I still loved it) I've considered writing love letters to the ever brainy foodie, Michael Pollan. We've been doing the farmer's market thing for a number of years now and last year experimented with a CSA.

On another front, I LOVED the book, Freakonomics and cannot wait to read the next Installment of this, Super Freakonomics. Economics made sexy and so very entertaining! (Who doesn't want to know the hidden side of everything!?!?!)

So imagine my absolute HORROR when I found out the Freakonomics guys have a blog (Well actually I was quite thrilled to find out they have a blog) but that they have a whole host of articles on why eating locally isn't the environmental cure all, community builder that we all hope it is.

Do We Really Need a Few Billion Locavores?
Are Farmer's Markets That Good For Us?
Is Locavorism for Rich People Only?

They certainly challenge conventional wisdom when it comes to eating locally. I found the columns fascinating. Is local eating just a feel good theory? Well as with anything, you'll have to come to your own conclusions on that.

After reading and digesting the articles I've come to my own personal conclusions:

1) So what if part of going to the Farmer's Market is a feel good activity. I actually like to feel good. My girl likes going, I sometimes see people I know and have gone with my neighbors.

2) My favorite kind of eating locally is of course, from my own garden, which I will continue to cultivate, hopefully, until I die.

3) The food IS really fresh at the Farmer's Market (I also live near Wegmans who does a bang up job with local produce and fresh produce so yeah, I could skip it.)

4) Part of eating locally for me, is supporting my local economy. It's just important to me. Yes, if we ALL, ONLY bought local things then perhaps our current system would suffer but that isn't going to happen. I also love going to Target.

5) Prices are a tad cheaper. Nothing earth shaking here folks.

6) I'm a food elitist. Sheepishly, I'll admit it. I don't think it harms anything, but possibly going to a separate dairy is a little much. (And sometimes a pain in the butt so then we don't go) I like the dairy and the glass bottles and think the milk is great so I'll probably still go sometimes. But yeah, I should get over it a little.

7) People have to do the best they can with what they have. You may not have the time to go to the market on a weekly basis. Go to your grocery store and buy the best food you can afford. Don't let the localvores get you down!