Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garden Tuesday: Sunrise

Shortly before 7AM yesterday, while preparing to depart for Philadelphia, I discovered that the sky was pink.
And my yard was very pink.

10 minutes later, all of the color was gone. But it was spectacular while it lasted.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Ah, Thanksgiving. It was a great day. The girls and a visitor worked very hard at setting up the table (and ultimately decided I was right on how to seat 22 people).
And aren't my girls beautiful? I'm always proud to be seen with them.
Here's the visitor to whom I alluded earlier: G-Marie, seamstress extraordinaire, in a beautiful new dress! I loved her festive fall colors. And, yes, she is that much taller than I. Even with me wearing higher shoes than she had, I'm still a good 4 or 5 inches shorter.
Notice Ryan at the corner of the 2 tables, looking grumpy while waiting for the food to be passed.
And dessert! Cakes, pies, all kinds of great stuff. Even my picky eater was pleased to line up.
The photo you've all been waiting for: the group shot.
Starting at the bottom left: Jeffrey, the Denver relative (her 2 sons are in front of Ryan), Mark, Ryan, the bride and groom from a couple of summers ago. Standing: Shannon, oldest son Mike, girlfriend Ashleigh, Patrick, Kellie, Greg's date, Greg, G-Marie, Cass, me, Dan, hubby, G's daughter and husband. 22, count 'em, 22 people. Great times. Hope you were all as happy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, Part 1

I'm still recovering. But here's a preview of the big Thanksgiving picture.
I had a surprise guest, whose hubby was reluctant to join in the picture, until he learned he wouldn't eat without joining in the fun. (I think he was glad he did.) And she brought me these!

Happy weekending, everyone. Recover well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Planning

Well, the head count is in, and it looks like I'm feeding 21 people, although it could rise to as many as 24 (somewhat unlikely, however). Good thing I have at least one set of china with a service for 24, isn't it?

Here's the food plan:


Nut breads
Shrimp platter, supplied by our friend Greg (it's traditional)
Possibly a veggie platter, depending upon my mood

2 Chernobyl Turkeys (each bird with 2 extra legs), 24 pounds each
Apple Walnut stuffing
Green beans with tomatoes and garlic
Mashed sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Pizza Tomatoes
Whole cranberry sauce
Jellied cranberry sauce
Bread (type undetermined, depending upon my mood)
Sausage stuffing, if Greg feels like bringing it.

Apple Pies (2)
Pumpkin Pies (2)
Lemon Meringue Pie
Coconut cream pie
Chocolate cream pie
Chocolate cake
Colorful cake
Who knows if I'll get to posting between now and then. Two of the girls are home, the third arrives tonight, the boys will arrive Tuesday and Wednesday, and the place is becoming a full-scale circus. It's my favorite holiday, but I'll probably collapse on Friday and refuse to stir my stumps until well after noon!

(All pictures from last year, obviously, but representative of what's to come!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review!

Yes, I needed a break. So I curled up with a nice mystery and spent a few hours in hiding. Trust me, it's a good thing.

by Dorothy L. Sayers
copyright 1934; 280 pages

Lord Peter Wimsey's Daimler ended up stuck in a ditch on New Year
's Eve 1928. He and his driver commenced walking, happened upon the rector of Fenchurch St. Paul, and received an invitation to stay at the rectory until after the New Year, when the blacksmith could haul the Daimler out of the ditch and repair its axle. (As an aside, how cool is it that the town blacksmith could repair one's car axle?)

The town was quite proud of its carillon consisting of 9 bells, and plans had been laid to perform a certain series consisting of 15,000 rings, and lasting 9 hours, commencing at midnight on New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, one of the change-ringers had caught the flu, and was unable to perform, but Lord Peter, having experience at bell-ringing was able to fill in.
During his visit, Lord Peter met the townsfolk, learned of the mystery of emeralds having been stolen some 10 years earlier and never recovered, and attended a couple of funerals. Shortly thereafter, when a recent grave was dug up, a second body was discovered in said grave, and the mystery began: Who was he? Who killed him, and why? Did this have to do with the emeralds? And what do the bells have to do with it? The story led Lord Peter through London, Belgium and France, and ultimately led to a satisfying conclusion.
This book is still available through Amazon, and I was surprised to learn that Lord Peter stars in several other books. I might just have to keep an eye out for those, too!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday Planning

Well, the Wall Street Journal has articles about Thanksgiving dinners. That means we have to get serious here, folks. The food crisis is imminent. So, here goes:

Saturday night: Taco night. Serve yourself, guys. Oh, and have a banana. I have a case sitting atop the fridges.

Sunday night: Roast chicken with stuffing and salad. Probably chocolate cake
for dessert.

Monday night: Fish in white sauce with rice. Veggies undetermined. Dessert? Maybe banana cake.

Tuesday night: Roast beef, some kind of pasta side, salad. Brownie Tuesdays, of course.

Wednesday night: Ham, stuffing, unknown veggies. Nut bread
s for dessert, because I will have made a lot of them by then.

Pre-Thanksgiving preparation? Clean the house tomorrow, hopefully with a lot of help from the girls. Hope no one notices any dirt tracked in through the next 4 days.

Monday: Make whole cranberry sauce. Send the girls to the store for last-minute essentials (I can't believe my food supplier only sent me 5 pounds of potatoes. That's a joke amount hereabouts.)
Make pie crust dough.

Tuesday: Bake nut breads. Likely candidates: banana, cranberry-orange, pumpkin. Start making pies: pumpkin and apple, likely. The others are too delicate to sit for 2 days.

Wednesday: Bake cakes, finish pies.

Thanksgiving Day's menu will be finalized tomorrow or Monday. I promise I'll share it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Food Has Arrived...

Some in the freezer....

Some in the refrigerators....

And I'm not even going to try to photograph the cupboards and pantry shelves. You'd be bored. The boys all cheered wildly and raucously over a distinct lack of frozen veggies arriving in this load. Wait till they find out that they'll be hunting them at the supermarket the week after next.

My thanks to my anonymous commenter who will be helping to cook Thanksgiving dinners for the less fortunate. I'm sorry you're so far from your family, and will think of you on Thanksgiving.

For those who wondered, a case of margarine is 18 pounds, a case of butter is 36 pounds, and they'll both last me about 3 months. You can probably see them on the door of the freezer if you look carefully.

Menu planning tomorrow, maybe I'll have time to take a picture of the dresses I made for the relative from Denver, and I'm determined to finish a book I've been working on all week! Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


So, it's time to call in my food order. I think I've remembered everything, but there's a supermarket 3 miles up the street, and I can dispatch people if I've forgotten anything. This will probably be enough food (excluding milk, of course) to last until the week before Christmas. (yes, there's store bought bread on this list, sufficient for sandwich making for the next few days, while I make other things.)
And my daughter brought me these flowers when she was home in October. I just found the picture on my camera. Isn't she artistic?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Garden Tuesday on Wednesday

Yes, that's just how my week has gone. Tuesday escaped me.

We bought another 20 trees; these are maples. The guy will come plant them in a day or 2, when the rain stops. Then next summer will be a little greener and cheerier!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Kind of Chicken

I'm working from the back of my fridge and freezer, holding off on the food delivery until Friday, so I can get my turkeys then. So the pictures today don't have anything to do with dinner last night!


4 whole chicken breast
2 tbsp sherry
2 small onions, cut in eighths
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
2 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp sherry
1/2 cup cold water
4 tbsp cornstarch

Arrange the chicken in a baking dish; pour the sherry over them, and arra
nge the onions and mushrooms over and around them. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the chicken bouillon cubes and dried onion. Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water, and whisk that into the saucepan. Add the sherry and cook until thick. Pour over the chicken, cover, and bake at 350F until done, uncovering at the last minute. Serve with rice and green veggies. (This is where I should have taken pictures, but did not. Oh, well.)

So, how about a picture of a Lemon Poppy Seed Bread I made last night?
Or maybe my refrigerator containing mostly leftovers (everyone always needs lunch)?

Because aside from that, I've got nothing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Calvert School's State History Course

I bought the Calvert School PA State History course for my youngest son last year, and never did use it. I have been able to find time this year, and he's been enjoying it.

Tuesday's assignment was for the child to draw a map of the state. My boy decided this was boring, and made a 3D map.

He knows the mountains go farther north than this in Pennsylvania, but he put his mountains on the south central border, where they are the highest. He also made a tiny paper capital building for Harrisburg, and towers for the most important cities in the state: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton and Erie. Allentown wasn't important enough to him to try to shoehorn it between Scranton and Philadelphia.

And I love that he made rivers, too. While it's certainly not complete geographically, the little guy had fun. And that counts for something in school, right?

And Happy Veteran's Day to all of our veterans and their families. You are always in my thoughts.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Let the Holiday Planning begin....

Dan's fixing a few things i didn't like about my kitchen cabinets. He's a handy dude.

I'm thinking about my pre-holiday food order. That takes a lot of brain power, which I feel mysteriously lacking this week. One thing that's certain is that we'll have 2 big turkeys, plus about 6 or 8 extra drumsticks. That's a big-time tradition.

I'm depressed by my dust, which I usually ignore (and it ignores me). That might just be because it's cold and rainy today.

School is going right along, which is good. I still miss my assistant teacher, of course. We'll stop at lesson 50 and do partial testing next Friday. My little guy can have the whole of Thanksgiving week off.
I've changed my mind 3 times about my Thanksgiving dress. I was going for white stretch velvet. Then I thought maybe pink brocade, followed by sapphire blue brocade. Right now the red ribbon fabric is winning. But I still have another week before it all hits the fan and I MUST choose, right? HAH! More like 2 days.

So, has anyone else started planning for Thanksgiving, or at least fretting over it a bit?
Or is it just me, because I have to make airline arrangements for some of the kids?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Garden Tuesday: Sunshine

Our oak grove has lost most of its leaves. The trees look really spectacular with the blue sky behind them. We still have plenty of leaves clinging to other trees, however, so we're nowhere near even starting the fall cleanup.
Closer to sunset, we had a magnificent sunburst through the evergreens at the bottom of the driveway!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Election Day is Coming...

...and with it, Election Cake.

I found this a few years back in my Fannie Farmer cookbook, and we enjoyed it. Since it's supposed to sit and rise for 6 hours, there are no pictures of the cake. But here's the recipe, so you can get started on your own, and be primed to go out tomorrow and vote.


1 cup warm water
3 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp oil

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let soften. Add the other ingredients, beat together, and set aside to rise for 6 hours or overnight.

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice

1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups raisins
1 cup whiskey*

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the butter with the brown sugar, and add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the lemon rind and juice, then the dry ingredients. Then beat in the yeast mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the whiskey (if desired) and raisins. Turn into 3 greased loaf pans, and let rise for about an hour, then bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350F.

It can be a real pain to get up early or get home late because you've dragged your sorry behind to the polling place, and it seems even worse during an "off year" election. But let me tell you about why I'm voting in my little corner of the world: My town government is all good. Town taxes are low, plowing is good, police are friendly. No changes needed there. School board? Well, a union leader is running for a seat on the school board, and it is incumbent upon me to stop this. There can be no negotiation if the union has seats on both sides of the table. Plus, with salaries eating up 75% of the school district budget, we need non-union people to try to keep tax increases in check. No one in this school district could possibly be happy with our school taxes, and they're talking 4% to 5% increases next year even without bigger increases in salaries. (Sorry, Pam, I know you're a teacher, but teachers make more money here than average citizens do, and that's just backward) As for the county? Twenty One Million Dollars in debt, facing at least a $3,000,000 shortfall next year, the county commissioners decided not to submit a budget on October 15 as required by law, instead announcing that an "outside committee" was going to advise them after the election of what they should do for the budget shortfall. Oh, by the way, the current commissioners have a 6 part plan to reduce the deficit. Hmmm. I wonder why they didn't implement it in the last 4 years. Curiouser and Curiouser, as Lewis Carroll's characters would say.

We can make a difference at the local level, even if we feel like our vote doesn't amount to much in the national elections. And on that cheery note, how about a lovely picture of our sky yesterday?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

October Sewing

Somehow, I did a lot of sewing in October. Part of it is that I used the yellow sweater fabric I ordered during the summer to make a number of items last weekend, and I was able to sew Monday night, which almost never happens.

First up: A yellow sweater. I've used this pattern for long sleeved, short sleeved, fluffy sleeved and other assorted tees. It just seemed right for a sweater.

Next: Sleeveless a-line dress. Silly thing to make from sweater fabric, right?
Not when you put a little sweater jacket over it!And the little sweater jacket is dandy over a sweater cami, too. Boy, do I look cranky. I should never have my picture taken at midnight.

Earlier in October, while gazing up at my...umm...collection of fabric, I noticed this fabric. It's like a lightweight, ribbed sweater knit. It's lighter than this picture.

It made a perfect square necked a-line dress. This shows the color well.

I also used it for a cowl necked top, from a new pattern I bought, V9771. I'm not wild about this pattern for myself. It has big shoulders on it. I actually ended up lowering the shoulder seam by about 3/4" in order to make it look like I hadn't just ripped the pads out of a football jersey. I'll stick with some other patterns I've used in similar style.

And this was an off-shoulder, half length sleeve top. The sleeves are only half length because I ran out of fabric. And here you can see me trying out my remote camera activator thingy. It makes the position of my arm look weird. Le Sigh.

Other miscellany" I bought a crystal pleated black fabric, and paired it with the 1/2 yard of the black summer weight fabric I had used for the a-line dress and jacket in August or September. Now I have another dress that the jacket will match. I love when that happens!
And another version of the V1250, in my "floral camoflage" nylon knit. Sadly, I can't wear it for 6 months. But I'm happy to know it's waiting in my closet with the other two V1250s.
I also bought these fabrics for next spring's sewing. I know I didn't need them, but the aqua at the far left was 5 yards for $2.50, and the others were $2 per yard. They all needed adoption. They can spend the winter dreaming of what wonderful things they will become next summer!

This weekend's sewing involves altering a bunch of shirts for my dearly beloved, followed by some maroon sweater fabric becoming warm clothes! Next week likely involves maroon velour, maybe a little gift sewing, and the hope that Thanksgiving dress inspiration will strike!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

In Honor of Thor

Today, Thor would have been 10-and-1/2 years old. I had planned to make him a cake, never believing he wouldn't make it to this milestone. So, today we are having applesauce meringue cake in honor of Thor.
And, in honor of another senior giant dog, stop by and wish Honey the Great Dane a happy 8th birthday! I'm happy that her people held a nice birthday celebration, complete with cake!

Friday, November 4, 2011

What He Did!

So, I know you've all been just dying to know what Dan did. Here it is. And I'm delighted.


This allowed great cleanup on all of my other counters, giving me enormous working space. All of my small appliances have a dedicated home, and it works out just fine. Honest, I'm the only idiot I know who had about 40 lineal feet of counter space, and 4 square feet of work area. So here's the outside wall of my kitchen (or half of it), before:

And after:

And the inside wall, which has long been worthless, what with cookbooks and whatnot stacked all over it to the left and right of the microwave, before:
And after:
My dearly beloved's binders are still to the right of the microwave, but I don't care. And Halloween candy and pumpkins are on the counter, but we're calling that seasonal decoration. You all understand that, right?

Suffice it to say I'm very happy with Dan's work, which, as usual, was absolutely top notch. But I fear I'm going to have to seriously curtail my cookbook purchasing, because space is pretty limited!