Friday, July 22, 2016

The Week in Excitement!

Well, words aren't really needed here.  We had Madeline from Sunday through Thursday, because her Mommy and Daddy had to go on a business trip.


 Guess who thinks she can feed herself, even though she can't even hold up the bottle?
 She does love her Grandpa, and it warms my heart to see him smiling so much. (Full disclosure: I was the one who got up at 7AM with her.  But I trained her to sleep until 9 within 2 days.)

On another note, I found a gauze sale.  So look what came in yesterday:


There are 10 yards of the Kelly Green, and 4 to 6 yards each of the other colors, for a net of about 50 yards.  I suddenly feel the need for new summer dresses.  I wonder which color I should chop into first?  The salmon, or the green?

Happy weekending, everyone!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hot Fudge Sundaes!

A couple of weeks back, the Wall Street Journal ran a big article about ice cream sundaes.  You know The Wall Street Journal, right?  That iconic publication which tells you everything you want to know about the financial news, with a healthy dollop of food thrown in for good measure?  OK, so I'm probably a little off kilter looking for the food news in the WSJ.  Tell me something new.

Back to ice cream.  This article said that the perfect sundae should have texture, ice cream, sauce, maybe some fruit and maybe whipped cream and sprinkles.  Terrific!  Gotcha!  And they had a recipe for your texture: Shortcake Crumbles!

SHORTCAKE CRUMBLES

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
6 tbsp cold butter
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour, powder, soda and salt.  Cut the butter in 1/2" cubes and cut into the dry ingredients, or pulse together in a food processor.  Stir in the egg, buttermilk, brown sugar and vanilla with a fork.  Line a big baking sheet with parchment and drop the shortcake onto the parchment in 1" to 2" diameter crumbles.  Bake at 400F for 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet, break into bite sized crumbles and serve dessert!  (These would also be an excellent base for strawberry shortcake.)

And from my 365 Great Chocolate Desserts cookbook, I give you the perfect topping for your ice cream sundae:

DARK CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream*
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir together the sugars, cocoa powder and salt in a large microwavable bowl.  Stir in the cream.  Microwave on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until well mixed, stirring once.  Cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and all the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the butter and vanilla extract and serve hot.  Can be refrigerated and reheated. 

*Note that I had to use about a cup of cream to get the sugars and cocoa powder to form anything other than an ugly gloppy ball of brown.  So don't worry if that happens to you; it's not fatal.

Ryan loved his sundaes with the shortcake crumbles; Mark grumbled that they were just weird.  But you all know and love Mark by now for the grumbler that he is.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  The baby granddaughter is coming on Sunday to spend a week with us, so you know everything around here will be happy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Independence Day Vacation

Dan came home for 10 days during vacation, and Jeff came up to visit.  He had a foster dog in tow.  I took one look at this face, and said, "That's not a dog; he's a puppy."

So, this is Quincy, the foster.  He was rescued from North Philly, and declared "dangerous" because he guarded his food.  (More on that later.)


 It looks like this is the first time Quincy has seen acres of grass where he can romp and play.  He gave Tank a run for his money, but Tank was very gentle with the little guy.

Of course, Quincy immediately determined that the Great Red Protector is the guy to sit near, because he is a sucker and shares his food.

Jeff went off on an adventure at one point, and left Quincy and Tank to wait with Ryan, who was working in the porch. Quincy stayed within 10 feet of Ryan, making a nest out of a couple of tarps on the porch. Jeff's dogs don't stray when they know that their person is missing.
This is where Jeff went: He and Dan determined that we should have a picnic table.  So, we now have one.  It was a good place to play a board game while surrounded by romping and playing dogs.

As for Quincy guarding his food?  Well, Jeff had been fostering him 2 days by the time they arrived, and he already had Quincy trained to sit in a line and wait for treats.  Jeff has a similar act for when he's preparing doggy dinners; they all sit and wait.  What you can't see in the pictures is that Lilly (a.k.a. Adventure Beagle) dances with her front legs every time there's any food to be had.  It's a funny act.

And, by the end of the weekend, Jeff had decided that Quincy is a great little brother for Tank, so after 4 days with Jeff and Mara as fosters, Quincy found his forever home with them.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend, too!  Happy Monday!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Carrot Cake for Cass' Birthday!

Well, there are no actual pictures of a slice of the carrot cake.  But here's what it looked like before we set it on fire...I mean, lit the candles.


Cass decided she was not going to be short between her little brothers.  So she made them hoist her up to their level, leaving me and Shannon looking as if we were standing in holes.

Anyway, the carrot cake.  Our traditional birthday cake is a marble cake, but she requested carrot cake instead.  With my buttercream frosting, because, as Cass said, she looks forward to birthday cake frosting all year long (not that I don't always make it, just that she's not usually around).  I changed it up a bit to make it a little healthier.  Just remember, as I told my dearly beloved, simply because the word "carrot" is in the name doesn't make this either health food or diet food.  Rats.

CARROT CAKE

1 cup flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
6 egg whites or 1 cup Egg Beaters
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups shredded carrots

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add the egg whites and oil; beat 2 minutes.  Stir in the carrots and turn into a greased sheet cake pan (or 2 layer pans, if you prefer).  Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester in the middle comes out clean.  Frost with my buttercream frosting (1/2 cup butter, 1 pound confectioner's sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract and whipping cream to smooth it out, beaten until creamy) or cream cheese frosting (4 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 pound confectioner's sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract and whipping cream to smooth it out, beaten until creamy).  Either way, it's delicious.

That's my feeble attempt to put Bebop on the cake.  Cass loved it; she served around Bebop and took that part of the cake home with her.

Today's Mark's driving test; my fingers are crossed!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Edited to add: Mark passed his test!  I am officially finished teaching kids how to drive!
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Garden Tuesday: The Moon

These were taken last week, a couple of days before the full moon.  I know everyone made a big deal out of the Strawberry Moon on the Summer Solstice, because it won't happen again for another 70 years.  Whatever.  A big moon low in the sky looks great any time, and not just because it won't happen for another 70 years.



(Gawd, I'm getting to be an old crank.)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2016

And So Goes Another Week...

So...I was going to post about Cass' birthday, and carrot cake, and hot fudge sundaes, and all kinds of whatnot.  And then life happened.  We've had electricians in since last Wednesday (yes, 8 working days) replacing breakers in all of the electrical panels.  There's a new thing called arc fault breakers, and they're supposed to be like the funny outlets in your kitchen that shut off when something's amiss with the circuit.  We've lost our appetite for fire, so rewire we must.  Fun stuff, especially when they're shutting down power one place or another.  Shutting down the well pump for half a day was especially fun.

And then Mark goes for his road test next week, so I hired a driving instructor to take him out for some lessons; that way he can parallel park in that guy's little Honda.  I know it's impossible to pass in my Town Car, because the parallel parking place just plain isn't big enough.  I had to do the same for Ryan after he failed his first road test because he couldn't fit my Cadillac into the parallel parking spot. He never even got out onto the road.  So Mark's had 2 lessons this week.  Plus, he had to go for his senior portrait yesterday afternoon.  It almost feels like we're on the all-Mark channel here.

So I'll leave you with some pictures of one of our dogwood trees.



Happy weekending, everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cookibook Wednesday: Desserts

This is a cookbook Mark found for me at a used book sale about 4 years ago.  To be fair, the title has always intimidated me.
 "Fantastic desserts"? I'm in. "Extravagant trifles, truffles, tarts and more"? Well....I need fast and relatively simple, not extravagant.

But...here goes.  The table of contents shows a little bit of everything.
 There are pages upon pages of hints and how-tos, which is nice.  Fun to read, even if you don't need it.

 In season right now: frozen desserts! Including a low fat orange sherbet.  I might try that one, or maybe wait until my dearly beloved is either (a) bored with his diet, or (b) decides he's lost enough weight to splurge now and again (he's dropped 10 pounds of the 25 he wants to lose, thanks to the cardiologist telling him what I've been trying to tell him).
 Bar cookies! Who doesn't love a good bar cookie? And they are easier than the regular kind!
 The instructions for this cake are daunting, filling 2 pages.  This is what I mean: extravagant doesn't work for me.  There are other things to do.
 But the boys might like these.
 And, for Louise: Peanut Butter Cups! (Fair disclosure: I love peanut butter cups, too.)



 There are even fruit desserts for those of us who want a lighter sweet treat.

 So, thanks to Louise for prompting me to pull this cookbook off the shelf!  There are things in here that won't take all day to prepare, after all!

This is Cookbook Wednesday, hosted by Louise!  Hop on over to check out the others who have linked up with her, look at her cookbook giveaway, and find out about signing up for the Picnic Game!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Garden Tuesday: Peonies and a Window

My peonies are in bloom.  I don't have nearly as many as Louise does, but I've been cutting a few every couple of days to keep my kitchen cheerful.  Too bad their season is only about 2 weeks!


In other news, I painted the raw dormer window last night (top left of yesterday's post).  I took my 6 foot stepladder to the attic to paint from inside, but I did have to sit on the sill and hang outside to paint.  My dearly beloved had an absolute fit when he went out to stand in the driveway and found me hanging out the window.  It's OK; I was done anyway, so I went inside.  Then he reported me to the boys at dinner.  Ryan then threw an absolute fit, and told me to let him hang out the window to paint next time, despite the fact that he's afraid of heights.  His rational was that I'm not strong enough to hold myself inside with one hand while painting with the other.  Of course, I had to point out to Ryan that there's no way he's fitting through a 22" wide window opening.  We compromised, with me agreeing to let him tie me to the rafters inside should I find the need to climb out a window again.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Update: What a 2 Weeks It's Been

There's been plenty of good, and some not-so-good.  Oh, some of the not-so-good would have been considered a minor disaster pre-fire, but now, nothing's a disaster as long as we're all alive and kicking.

All good: The rubber roofer came, replaced the rubber roof over the formerly burned area in just 3 days, and left.  We had 2" of rain after he was done, and stayed dry as a bone.  Victory for us! (No pictures; it's just a flat black roof.)

Mostly good: The central air guy came.  He got our system installed, and hooked up the 3 bedrooms that are in use.  Good news.  He tied into the old condensate line: bad news.  It terminated inside a wall, so it rained into my office all over my fabric.


 Good news: all of this fabric got re-washed, folded and sorted.  10 loads worth.  Bad news: Our washer developed a leak.  I kept washing anyway, and soaking up the water on the floor.  It had to be done.

Good news: At least one of the big box chains still sells non-water-saving washing machines.  And I got one.  Bad news: No one stocks them.  I had to wait from Saturday until Thursday afternoon to get a new washer.  The laundry room didn't smell pretty.

Good news: The new washer is installed, works like a champ, and all of the laundry is done. 

Great news:  The slate roofers showed up.  They made this mess.

Then they started putting rocks on my roof.

This is 2 days' work.  Pretty good, right?  They're supposed to be back tomorrow.  But trust me, slaters are so rare that we won't gripe if they don't show until next week.  We simply know they'll keep coming because we owe them money now.

Bonus good news:  Baby Madeline was here 2 weekends ago.  She's learned to smile.  This is her greeting to me as soon as they walked into the house, before she was even released from her car seat.  You know she spent basically no time in that seat for the rest of the weekend!

So, Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cookbook Wednesday: Summer Desserts

OK, I know it's Thursday.  But Wednesday was busy, and it's better that I've made an effort, right?

This cookbook is in honor of Memorial Day, which is the start of summer in the minds of most Americans, including me.  Ryan and Dan found it at the supermarket a couple of years back, and brought it home, respectfully requesting that I use it.  A lot.

 Some of the recipes involve baking.
 Some just require mixing.  I've actually made this, with pineapple and oranges, and, of course, with real whipped cream, not cool whip.  It's pretty good; the boys love it.
 I'm sure everyone would like this.  I'm not sure I have the patience to be this cute.
 Did I mention that every recipe involves Jello, instant pudding, cool whip or a combination thereof?  It's OK, summer is meant to be easy.  And Peanut Butter Cup Pie sounds great.
 Lemon Mousse?  Love it.  Diet recipe? Even better.  I'll have to look into this one (but with real whipped cream, of course.  Not so diet.  Oh, well.)
 And this one does sound delightful.
 Now I've given you plenty of summer desserts to drool over.  Here's hoping you enjoy summer confections this weekend and beyond.

This is Cookbook Wednesday on Thursday, hosted by Louise!  Hop on over and see what she and others are offering!