Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Plums!

Well, I guess that even though the wedding plans are pretty well firmed up, tiny crises are going to continue to plague me!  I've been a pretty inconsistent poster the past couple of months, and it's not going to get any better, apparently.

But over the weekend, I strolled down to our orchard, and found our three plum trees teeming with beautiful little plums!

 From a little farther back on the second tree, you can see the plums scattered over the branches!

I picked in excess of 50 of them; since this is still about 40 in this bowl, you can surmise just how tiny they are.  But they are lovely and sweet, with just a little tang to the skins.

I can't find any recipes for plums, but I'm thinking of attempting to create maybe a cobbler with some of these.  And another trip to the trees is probably in order.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!  See you next time my brain is untangled.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Lawn Update

Well, look at that!  Just a couple of thin spots where the sprinkler washed out the seed (note to self: sprinklers are evil...), and I"m working on the overseed.  I think William can mow it next week!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Miscellany

So, how many of you have signed up for ancestry com?  My dearly beloved urged me to sign up last fall after seeing an advertisement on TV:"I know you had it years ago! But the ad says it's easier and better!  Try it!"  Now you know why I can't let the man watch commercials.

So, I signed up.  And I spent many hours watching TV while searching into both his and my ancestors.  And I found some expected things, some unexpected things (ancestors who were Tories, and left for Canada in 1777, along with some who stayed).  I found my grandfather's parents, whose names I didn't even know, but not complete information because of the commonality of the name.  And I learned that his mother's genes have doomed every one of her descendants (and her siblings to the extent I can find them) to a very short lifespan.

To back up a bit, when I was a child, there was a 3"x4" picture of a young man in a military uniform in my grandmother's house.  So when I was maybe 11 or 12, I asked who the "soldier" was, and they told me it was "Uncle Jimmy," who left home in the early to mid 1950s and never came back.  So, in 1987, I decided I would find the missing Uncle Jimmy, whose name was actually Robert.  Confused yet? Me, too, when I learned that Jimmy was short for Robert.  So I actually found his son, who said his father was an orphaned only child.  Well, then.  But he spoke to his father, who eventually admitted that I was his relative, but didn't want to speak to anyone from the family; he was happy being an orphaned only child.  Fast forward to about 2 months ago, when I got a message through said ancestry website that someone claimed to be the granddaughter of my grandmother.  What? I'm the only granddaughter. Nope.  Not any more. 

So, this weekend I met my cousin for the first time, and learned that there are at least 3 more cousins out there.  Seems Uncle Jimmy is not forthright with his information, even amongst his children.  But it was interesting to meet her; both of us learned a lot about the family's history.  It is strange, however, to get not one, but 4 brand new cousins when you're as old as I am!

How about all of you; any family mysteries in your background?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Busy Weekend!

My other daughters and I held a bridal shower for the bride-to-be.  I'm glad that's done; the worry of planning, and whether everyone would be happy, made me crazy.  This from the person who thinks nothing of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 25!  Who'd have thought holding an event that's catered and not at my house would trouble me?

Buying miscellaneous china tea cups and decorating them as shower favors was positively inspired!  Everyone made sure to take theirs with them. (Note: it took a lot longer than I anticipated to get all those bows just right.)

 The groom's mother ordered the cake, red velvet.  Of course, Blogger turned the picture upside down and I can't make it get right.  Stand on your head to see it properly oriented.  Trust me; I'm helping you get your exercise.  You're welcome.
 Presents.  The fabric wrapped things were shrubs for the bride's new house.  Both the groom's mother and I had pictures from their childhoods printed, we ordered matching sets of frames, and set them up for all to admire.

 Her sisters insisted Shannon needed a veil.  Just look how thrilled she was.  It lasted at least 90 seconds after the picture was taken.

 Bridal Pictionary is a great shower game.
 Even 94 year old grannies can participate!
So, that's where I've been.  I made myself a new dress for the occasion, but since I ran the camera, it's not photographed anywhere.  Oh, well.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thorsday Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

by Nina George

It all started with a table.

Jean Perdu owns The Literary Apothecary, a bookstore aboard a barge in Paris.  He won't sell just any book to a customer, but only what he feels they need.  His life, however, isn't in such fine condition.  One afternoon, when he returned home, his landlady told him that there was a new tenant in the flat across the hall from him, and since her wealthy husband had just put her clothing in a suitcase on the doorstep with divorce papers atop it, and changed the locks, all of the tenants in the building were contributing furnishings to help her.  The landlady determined that Jean needs to donate a table, which leads him to a slow emotional meltdown, the origins of which stretch back 20 years, and which is revealed to us slowly.  Because of this meltdown, one day Jean unties his bookstore/barge from its moorings and sets off downriver, accompanied by his two barge cats and a young author who lives in his building, who is suffering from writer's block and can't even begin his second novel.

I chose this book because of the title, and the pretty picture on the cover.  I"m a sucker for book stores, and love stories set in France (where I will never visit, because the reality is never as pretty as the pictures in your head).

I loved this book.  I read it last week, almost finishing it before Jeff and Tank came to visit.  Of course, I stayed up most of Friday night to finish it, because I enjoyed it so.  5/5

Note: I received this book free from Blogging for Books.  All opinions are my own.

And, since it's Thorsday, here are some pictures of Tank from last weekend.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Too Busy?

Yes, the title is correct: Too Busy To Cook?  And who amongst us hasn't had such days?
 I mail ordered this from Bon Appetit magazine back around 1984.  The mail order receipt has been carefully tucked inside this cookbook ever since.
 The recipes are pretty simple, and at the beginning of every section is a brown bar containing handy tips for when simple recipes just aren't easy enough.
 There are some pretty pictures, but not that many.
 Every section contains those handy tips.

 In each category, you have your hot section,
 the do ahead section,
 and the microwave section.

 I want this dessert.  Now.  I never have the patience to arrange my berries so prettily.
 And, being Bon Appetit, of course they had to include a chart which tells you which cheeses go well with which wines.
 This is Cookbook Wednesday, in honor of Louise, who is on hiatus for the summer.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Garden Tuesday: The Walled Garden, Again

It took 5 days for very fine grass to appear, and 7 days to this point.

This point is in very deep shade.  I just finished overseeding it with deep shade grass seed.
 Right next to my feet, the sprinkler flooded away the seed, and it's in deep shade.  You can see the bright green where we get a few hours of sun a day.
 Again, shade.
 And standing water from the 2" of rain we had overnight.  I probably won't need to water for a day or 2.
Maybe next week it'll all be lush green!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Let's Get Growing!

Larry and Karin were probably right last week.  I haven't yet received the bill, but I'm certain that what I showed you was very expensive "soil."  You are all excused from sending flowers when I have a heart attack after I see the bill.

And then there will be the bill for adding a new patio under the yews.  Note that the "soil" is still on display.  These are the final pictures before seeding: you can even see my footprints in the first one.

 I took this picture upright, so I have no idea why it came out sideways.  And then I turned it upright, and blogger still turned it sideways.  But you can see the turquoise hydroseed.  THAT will be a shocker of a bill, I'm sure.
 (Just turn your head sideways to see this one, too.)
By next week, there is supposed to be grass.  Hopefully lots of grass!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thorsday Book Reviews

Our friend Hsin-Yi, whose long time companion was Honey the Great Dane, has been busy as an author since the passing of Honey.  She wrote a romantic mystery series set in Singapore, followed by a lighthearted romance series set in the fictional town of Summer Beach, Australia (5 books and counting!), both series under her own name.  Then, a few months back, she began releasing a Pride and Prejudice alternative series under the pen name Penelope Swan.  This was very interesting to me, because not too long before that, I"d read in the Wall Street Journal (of course) that P&P alternatives were a huge and booming business, both in books and films.  Naturally, I had to reread Pride and Prejudice, which caused my menfolk no end of amusement: "Wait, tell me the plot again? Girl meets rich man, likes him then hates him within 2 paragraphs and spends a couple hundred pages avoiding him while playing matchmaker for everyone else before agreeing to marry the rich man?"  Well, when you put it that way, guys, it doesn't sound that wonderful.

Book 1 of the Dark Darcy Mysteries
by Penelope Swan

These books follow the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice; this one is set within the first quarter of the original book.  Elizabeth Bennet's sister Jane, having gone to visit the Bingley family, took ill and had to stay at their house, Netherfield, during her recovery. Their younger sisters had regaled the Bennet family with tales of the ghost at Netherfield, having heard such stories from their own servants, who had in turn learned them from Netherfield's servants; they also spoke of a highwayman, Handsome George. Elizabeth dismissed these stories as uneducated nonsense, and set off to walk the 3 miles to Netherfield to look in on her sister. Having undertaken this trip on a rainy day, Elizabeth ended up muddy, and ended up staying at Netherfield to keep her sister company, despite the disapproval of Mr. Bingham's sisters, one of whom had designs upon Bingley's best friend, Mr.Darcy. A couple of light mysteries involving a ghostly face at an attic window, bouquets of violets and missing jewelry make for entertaining fare. Written in the old style, mildly modernized for today's readers, but retaining all of the sensibilities of Jane Austen, this is a worthy endeavor.  5/5

Book 2 of the Dark Darcy Mysteries
by Penelope Swan

 This is the second Pride and Prejudice spin-off written by Penelope Swan. This "alternate" takes place during the second quarter of P&P, when Mr. Bingley hosted a ball at Netherfield. In this version, it's a masquerade ball attended not only by the locals, but also by Gentleman George, a highwayman who is acquainted to Mr. Darcy since childhood, and claims to have been wronged by him (this character appeared in the original, but not as a highwayman). A theft occurs at the dinner portion of the ball, and it's all attributed to a "curse" on an item carried by one of Elizabeth Bennet's sisters. Elizabeth's behavior is a bit sillier than one would expect, and while that may be true, it's necessary in order to carry on the plot. Enough elements of the original story have been retained to make this a good read, although it did end abruptly.  4/5

Book 3 of the Dark Darcy Mysteries
by Penelope Swan

This book occurs in the third quarter of P&P, during the period in which Elizabeth has gone with her best friend Charlotte's father and sister to visit Charlotte and Charlotte's new husband, Mr. Collins, who live on Lady Catherine's estate, where Mr. Collins is the preacher. This book paints Lady Catherine as more overbearing and controlling than she was in the original, Mr. Collins as more cloying and kow-towing to Lady Catherine, and Lady Catherine's daughter, Anne, as more of a shrinking violet; all of those personality traits are just mild exaggerations of the ones they have in the original book, and it works. In this "Dark Darcy" mystery, Lady Catherine takes ill after a dinner at her estate; it is deemed poisoning. The village constable sets out to make an arrest, is stopped by Elizabeth, and she and Darcy subsequently solve the mystery. I had a hunch that the culprit was one of 3 people, which was correct, but the book was nevertheless enjoyable while it reached its ultimate conclusion.  5/5

Book 4 of the Dark Darcy Mysteries
by Penelope Swan

This is the final installment in Penelope Swan's Dark Darcy series. Referring to Pride & Prejudice, this covers the last fourth of the book, when Elizabeth Bennett and her aunt and uncle are visiting the region where Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's house, is located. In this version, Elizabeth and her aunt do indeed go to the town near Pemberley, staying at an inn in town. Upon arrival, they are warned that the highwayman Gentleman George has been seen in the area, and they shouldn't venture out at night. Soon, they go to see Pemberley, when Mr. Darcy is not supposed to be around, and enjoy a tour of the house. Mr. Darcy arrives, and invites them to visit the next day and meet his sister. When their inn burns in a fire, Mr. Darcy invites Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle as houseguests; Elizabeth becomes friendly with Georgiana Darcy; and the pianoforte which Mr. Darcy bought for Georgiana is believed by the servants to be haunted because they hear music at night, when everyone is asleep. Gentleman George is seen around the house; the Bingley sisters arrive to visit, and there is jealous conflict between them and Elizabeth. A well written and well executed variation on the end of P&P. 5/5

I read all of these on the Kindle, although they are now also available in paperback.

And, because there are no pictures of the covers, how about a picture of Jeffrey's dog Tank, gazing intently at his favorite store?

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Pierre Franey, Encore!

You know that given how much I love my Pierre Franey Cookbook, featured a couple of weeks ago, that when I found his sequel I had to buy it: More 60-Minute Gourmet!

 There is some of everything in this book.
 Sauteed potatoes with your dinner!
I thought of Larry AKA Big Dude with this egg recipe.  And just in case you don't know how to poach a chicken breast, Pierre's got you covered.
 Need the side and the sauce recipe? Check.
 I love this potato recipe.  I might even try marinating my steaks some time.
 Desserts? Well, maybe some sauces, or add-ins to ice cream. It's all good.
 This is Cookbook Wednesday, Louise's tradition, which I'm carrying on while she is on sabbatical.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!