Friday, August 29, 2014

College

Well, last weekend we took Ryan off to Penn State.  Here are Mark and his father, preparing to unload the trunk while Ryan trotted off to collect his room key (and a free t-shirt).


His room is a perfectly normal college room, complete with concrete block walls (they have to keep rowdy young men from kicking holes in walls somehow, plus block is pretty fireproof).  I was impressed by the amount of shelving in the room.  Here they all are, making sure the bed is adequate in size, and rumpling the bed I'd just made for him.  Gotta get to feel at home somehow!

Ryan's room was not carpeted, so I ordered him an area rug from the website for the big-box store with the blue sign that's in every city.  Hey, shipping was free, and I sent him some granola bars as well, so he's a pretty happy boy.  Me, I'm adjusting to a too-empty house.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Concrete!

For the past few weeks, I've been on a home decorating kick.  Nothing major, mind you: lampshades (they get really ugly after 25 years), blankets, new sofas for the room Dan redid last fall.  Well, when driving home from the furniture store, my dearly beloved spotted a sign for concrete statues.  So we called them.  Turns out that right here in little old Scranton, PA, there's a fourth generation caster of concrete garden statues.  Of course, we had to buy some.  His prices are insanely good: $700 for all of this:

2 lions for the front porch, with 6" high bases:

This base, pedestal and urn:

My artsy daughter was here last weekend, after we dropped off Ryan, to keep us company, and she planted Catmint, "Jeepers Creepers" and something else, the name of which escapes me.

We'll check in again in a month or so to see if the plants grow or not.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Got a Book?

Last week was very busy.  Next week will be even busier.  Ryan goes to college on Friday.  I'm rather depressed about it, truth be told; I'm going to miss the "little" weasel.  So I don't know how much I'll be posting for the next week or 2.

Last Wednesday, when I was taking Mark somewhere, we found a box that Fedex had delivered to in front of my gate.  Shoot, it's not like they don't know how to open the gate and walk through it.  It's not even like they can't see the house and know they can walk 150 feet from the gate to the front door.  It's just that the damn fool driver is lazy.  Anyway, I had Mark grab the box, tossed it into the back seat of the car, and promptly forgot about it until yesterday.  (Good thing I went out and found it; it poured much of Tuesday and Wednesday, and into Thursday morning.)  So, when I opened the box, I found this:

I didn't order it; there was no packing slip, no note and no return address.  So the book is of mysterious origin, but I'm looking forward to reading it.  There's nothing like a nice, new book to catch one's interest, is there?

Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend.  See you at some time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Lawn

I'm pretty sure my lawn is a Chem-Green man's dream: Oh, to have to turn this into pretty grass, and charge these people out the wazoo for 10 acres of perfect grass!

Or, we could just accept the clover and move on.  It's green, it uses different nutrients than the grass does (so never needs fertilizing), and it's actually good for some trees, again, for the nutrients.

How's your lawn looking?  It's pouring here today, so the grass is growing!

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Busy Weekend

In June, we were invited to the wedding of our "junior" financial advisor (it's a father and son team).  So I've known for nearly 2 months that the wedding was to be last weekend, and thought, "Well, I've got a few dresses in my closet which will work...."  The ladies out there know what I'm talking about.

So, on Thursday night, around 11PM, I decided that since I don't know New Jersey customs, and this was to be in a Catholic church, with a country club reception, I needed something new.  Long dress or short?  I decided on one of those fancy high-low hems, cut a rough idea out of an old sheer curtain I had lying around, basted it together, pinned it to a dress that had a suitable bodice, and decided that this was what I'd wear - of course, made out of a lightweight royal blue brocade.

I spent Friday afternoon sewing, and in only about 4 hours had this:

I was pretty pleased.  (Blogger won't post it vertical.  Sorry for the crik in your neck which is developing right now from looking at it.)

The wedding was the most over-the-top affair I've ever seen.  12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen.  Seriously, where do you find 24 people you love so dearly that they absolutely must be in your bridal party?  That doesn't count the four nieces and nephews (ages 2 to 8) of the couple, who were just adorable in their little tuxes and dresses.  The groom told us there were 270 people at the reception.  Holy cow.  I was pretty sure I saw 4 celebrities there: Dr. Melfi from the Sopranos, Gene Hackman, Kenny Rogers and Ralph Acampora. Almost all were lookalikes: Dr. Melfi lacked the annoying voice, Gene Hackman was really a financial advisor to big-time athletes, Kenny Rogers was really a CPA or lawyer or something, but we really did meet and converse with the real Ralph Acampora.  OK, that's only exciting if you're a longtime CNBC and financial news junkie, which we are.  There were several big-wigs, active and retired, from huge corporations, too, although I can't recall all the names.

The food was astonishing, too.  They had rented a room at a boat club for the 2 hours between wedding and reception; libations and snacks were liberally available.  The reception was at a country club overlooking a huge river in New Jersey - about a mile wide at that point.  For the first hour, there were hors d'oeuvres on the patio - mini quiches, mini pigs in blankets, bacon wrapped scallops, coconut shrimp, beef crostini, beef something else, crab claws, shrimp, fruits....a full meal right there.  And then this was the dinner menu:

Anyone who left hungry had only himself to blame.

The big downside to the day was the freakin' eastern New Jersey traffic.  The d**n Garden State Parkway sometimes moved as fast as 30 MPH; the net effect was that it took me an hour to drive 17 miles at 1PM.  Delightful.  I swear I'll never drive in eastern New Jersey again unless it's between midnight and 5AM!

So, I hope you all had a more relaxing weekend than mine.  Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Herbed Chicken

I know it's Thorsday, and I'm supposed to do a Thorsday Book Review.  But the book I've been reading is nonfiction, complex, and making me think.  That hurts my pea sized brain, and I can't remember some other book to review, although I've read plenty.  So let's go with the chicken I made the other night - easy peasy.  It was inspired by the always-dependable red plaid cookbook.

HERBED CHICKEN

3 pounds chicken thighs (or whatever parts you love)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup wine (whatever suits your fancy)
1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Italian seasoning (or a mix or oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt, optional

1 cup water
1 tsp chicken base
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch

In the bottom of your broiler pan, whisk together the vinegar, wine, onion powder, Italian seasoning and, if desired, salt.  Add the vegetable oil and whisk until combined, then dunk the chicken, turning so both sides are coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as you'd like before dinner (I think I had about 45 minutes), turning every so often so both sides marinate.  Preheat the broiler, then broil, skin side down, for 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn over and broil skin side up for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  Test to be sure the chicken is cooked; if it isn't, cook a little longer. 

If you are or reside with a gravy-a-holic, remove the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.  Pour the fat off the broiler pan, add the cup of water and chicken base and heat to a simmer.  Whisk the 1/4 cup cold water with cornstarch, whisk into the pan drippings, and cook until thickened.  Return the chicken to the pan and return it to the oven for a few minutes to be sure it's hot.  Serve with rice and whatever green veggies you have handy (I used broccoli and spinach).

This turned out well, and it was pretty fast and easy.  It was a cool evening, so I didn't mind heating up the oven, but otherwise, you might want to wait until fall to make this.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Hydrangea

Some of you will remember my daughter planting a hydrangea in my courtyard a couple of years back.  And by "planting", I'm sure you remember her directing her brothers to dig a hole and move the plant from her car to said hole.  That's a good way to plant, in my book.  It's occurred more than once around here.


Well, said hydrangea is growing nicely, and has bloomed in the past week!


The old hydrangea which was large when we got here, and so must be at least 30 years old, is a little slower.  No matter; it will catch up soon.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lemon Tilapia

Fish is an easy dinner.  I typically serve it on Monday (sometimes other days as well), so I don't start the week feeling weighed down by cooking.  I stumbled upon this idea a couple of weeks ago, and it has been a big hit.

Have you ever seen this product?  I ordered it online, and can assure you that much more will be coming to my house.  It's great in this recipe.


LEMON TILAPIA

1 pound tilapia filets
2 tbsp butter
lemon pepper
1 cup water
2 tsp clam base
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch

Spray a skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat and place the tilapia in the melted butter.  Sprinkle generous amounts of lemon pepper over the fish (no salt, because lemon pepper contains salt), and cover to cook for a couple of minutes, until the edges of the fish are white.  Flip the fish, sprinkle with lemon pepper again, cover and cook until done.  Remove to a plate and place the pan lid over the fish to keep it warm.

Add 1 cup water to the skillet and stir to loosen any fish stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the clam base, and heat to a simmer.  Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water, then whisk it into the pan; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.  Return the fish to the pan, heat through, and serve over rice.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thorsday Book Review: Shane

Well, we got Mark's summer reading list for 10th grade.  Want to see it?


I read Cyrano years ago.  Fan of the story; not a fan of reading plays.  So this one won't be on my to-do list.  But who am I kidding?  I have yet to finish Mark's (or Ryan's) summer reading from last summer.  Life gets in the way and all that.....

But, since I had to take Mark for a football physical, I grabbed this book.  It was short, so I figured, why not?  Worthwhile choice.

SHANE
by Jack Shaefer

This is the story of young Bob Starrett, who lives in Wyoming in the late 1800s, and his parents.  One afternoon, while working with his father, Bob noticed a rider a good distance away, and watched him approach.  The rider asked the favor of Mr. Starrett allowing him and his horse to drink, and introduced himself: "Call me Shane."  Bob's father insisted that Shane stay for dinner, and pass the night in the hired hand's quarters; that night turned into a season for Shane on the Starrett ranch, working the cattle, improving the barn and fences, removing a large stump.  The big rancher across the river, who resented the homesteaders, including the Starretts, and wanted to reclaim their stakes, started causing trouble; Shane found himself right in the middle of it.

This is billed as a teen book, but it didn't feel that way to me.  It's a story about friendship, hard work and loyalty.  I very much enjoyed it.  5/5

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I may just be the luckiest Mom ever!




Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thorsday Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

I know it's Friday.  But Thorsday escaped from me.  I decided to wash some of my sheer curtains, and 6 rooms later, it was time to cook dinner.  Ergo, no Thorsday Book Review until today (I"m laundered out for now).

My daughter in law found this book on a shelf while they were living here for a few weeks, read it and enjoyed it.  I remembered having seen the movie some years ago, and, thus had purchased it from a book sale a year or 2 back; sadly, I don't read all that I've purchased quite as quickly as I'd like.  DIL had left it on the coffee table one night, I found it and started it, and so it began.

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES
by Sue Monk Kidd
copyright 2003

Lily is a 14 year old girl in the early 1960s.  Her mother died when she was about 6 from a gunshot, and her father is a cold, distant, sometimes mean man.  Lily had found a small metal box in the attic containing a few things of her mother's and buried it in their peach orchard, so she could dig it up and look at her mother's things when she felt especially lonely.  The only affection Lily had was that of her nanny, a black woman named Rosaleen.

One day, Rosaleen was walking downtown to register to vote, so Lily decided to walk with her.  A group of white men harangued Rosaleen, who dumped her jar of tobacco juice on their feet.  They beat her up, the sheriff was called, Rosaleen was arrested, and Lily hauled off to jail, as well, until her father came to get her.  Rosaleen was transferred to the hospital, under guard, after sustaining more "mysterious" injuries in jail, so Lily packed some things, including her mother's metal box, broke Rosaleen out of the hospital/jail, and they set off walking to Tiberion, a name she found on the back of a black Madonna picture she found amongst her mother's belongings.  The kindness of strangers helped her find a Pepto Bismol pink house where honey was made and sold with the Black Madonna label on the jars.

The book is the story of a white girl living with her black nanny and 3 kind black ladies for a summer, learning to keep bees, and learning life lessons along the way, all in search of the truth about her mother's life and death.  It's moving, thought provoking, and not sickeningly sweet.  5/5

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Trees on a Hill

This is one of the big blue spruce trees in the middle of my lawn.


No, I wasn't drunk or stupid when I took the picture.  It's on a hill, so the ground runs that way.

This is one of about a dozen maple trees we had dug up from the woods at the bottom of our yard and transplanted as 1" to 2" diameter saplings (bare root) in very early 1990.  I'm always amused at how the trunks have twisted so the trees are growing straight toward the sky, instead of perpendicular to the ground.

My kids laugh at how I have stories about so many of our trees.  I tell them that's what happens when you share your home and life with a tree fanatic, and stay in one place for a quarter of a century.

How about you, do you think of some of your trees fondly?

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!