Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Box

It's an ordinary looking box, stamped with the name of a presumably long-defunct jeweler in the Boston area,

Containing a small, velvet-covered box somewhat different than those seen today,

Which holds a broach that once belonged to my grandmother's aunt.

But can you see what I really liked about this paper box?

The date is "Feb. 29 / 24", or Leap Day, 89 years ago.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Garden Tuesday

About 2 weeks ago, after a snowstorm, we were horrified when we discovered all of the damage the deer have been doing to our plantings around the house.  OK, our shrubs are overgrown, but this was not the way to deal with that issue.

This holly and its two flanking arbor vitae are severely damaged.  I think the holly might come back, but I know the bottoms of the arbor vitae are likely to be permanently destroyed.  They've attacked 3 other holly bushes, too.

Boxwood is resilient, but this is disheartening.  Both of the boxwood flanking my front door look like this.

See the little stick pile between the arbor vitae?  That used to be a 5 foot wide euonymous (I know I didn't spell that right, but it's a low growing green and white thing).  There are 2 more similar little stick piles on the other sides of the (also eaten) arbor vitae flanking this one.

Lastly, this was a rhododendron a month ago.  Now it's but a few leaves.

I bought some deer and rabbit repellant from Agway a couple of summers ago for the garden.  We've been spraying it around the house in hopes of avoiding more damage.  Did you know that there are more deer living in North America now than there were before Europeans arrived?  Yep.  True story.  It's because the Native Americans used to hunt them, and now hunting is severely limited, or even banned.  The herd of about 10 of them on my block is testimony to that!

Hope your plantings are in better shape than mine right now!  Happy Garden Tuesday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thorsday Book Review

In line with my evident Massachusetts theme this week, this book is set in the same neighborhood: Rhode Island.  Oh, don't tell me they're not the same place.  Rhode Island is right next door!

by Mary Higgins Clark
copyright 1997

Opening chapter:  Maggie Holloway awakens to find herself buried alive in a Victorian casket with an air tube in it, and a string tied to her finger.....

Second chapter: About 2 weeks earlier, Maggie is at a cocktail party with Liam Payne, and feeling rather ignored.  Preparing to leave without Liam, Maggie suddenly spies Nuala Moore, who was married to Maggie's father when Maggie was a child.  A joyful reunion ensues, and Maggie and Nuala leave the party to go catch up over a late meal.  Nuala invites Maggie to come to her house in Newport, RI the following weekend, and Maggie's delighted to accept, planning to spend 2 weeks with Nuala.  When Maggie arrives in Newport the next Friday, she finds Nuala dead in her house, victim of an apparent burglary gone wrong.  Some of the important characters in this book include a shady lawyer (of course), a retirement home with an inept director, Liam, who happens to be a cousin to Nuala's late third husband, and his cousin, a professor who also owns a "museum" of all things funereal, and another sometimes boyfriend of Maggies, a New York based stockbroker whose father happens to be a financial advisor in Newport.Whether it spans one day or several, the day and date for each day in the story is announced, so that the reader knows we're getting closer to Maggie's predicament in the opening chapter...

I think this might be the first book by Mary Higgins Clark which I've ever read, and so I'll definitelty have to find more.  This was a great find at the used book sale!

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Presidents Day Edition

In honor of Calvin Coolidge.  He retired to the presidency to the town where the little girl on the left lived; when he saw her walking downtown, he'd pat her on the head and say, "Hello, little red haired girl."  She was 9 when he retired.  Of course, Silent Cal was red haired, too, which may be why he expended so many words on her.

The little girl grew up to be my mother in law.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Just a Dusting

After maybe half an inch of snow overnight, the sunrise seems even prettier than usual, don't you think?

I hope it stays snow, instead of the "wintry mix" (translation: ice and nasty stuff) that the Weather Dudes are currently promising!

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cape Cod Cranberry Pie

Have you ever been to Cape Cod?  I haven't.  Oh, it sounds very appealing, wide beaches, small towns, sunshine that's not too hot for my ghost-white skin, all of that.  But I've been an avid map reader since I was 9 years old.  Long before I could drive, my parents had friends who moved up to North Attleboro (Patriots Stadium was sort of in their back yard, by which I mean through the woods for a mile, maybe less), and I thought the traffic was insane.  So, when I was about 15, I studied a map I'd gotten from a gas station in Massachusetts, and discovered that there was one road into Cape Cod.  I decided then and there that I'd never be going to Cape Cod; not for me to sit in traffic jams.  Anyway.....

I found this in my New York Times Heritage Cookbook.  We love cranberries hereabouts, and so I decided to give this a whirl, with a couple of minor changes.


2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 eggs, beaten, or 1/2 cup egg beaters
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted margarine or butter
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 cup sugar

In a well greased 10" pie plate, spread out the cranberries.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over them, then sprinkle the nuts and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over them.  Lightly beat the eggs or egg beaters, then add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the flour, margarine and shortening, beat until smooth, and pour over the cranberries.  Bake for about 1 hour at 325F.  Serve warm or cooled with whipped cream.

The boys liked this; the cranberries were tart, a nice contrast with the whipped cream, and Dan didn't even complain much about the nuts.  It's actually much more like a cake than pie.  I think next time, I'll put half of the batter on the bottom, followed by the cranberries and nuts, and the remaining batter on the top.  I know there will be a next time; my dearly beloved will request it.

Hope you all had a nice weekend!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Miscellany

After breaking a tooth, and having to make an emergency visit to Kevin to have it repaired (and offering him great sympathy at the passing of his beloved hunting dog), my darling, wonderful children, led by Patrick, sent me the most fabulous surprise of all:

And my menfolk enjoyed their traditional Valentine's Day dinner of Shrimp Scampi, followed by chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting:

Hope you all enjoyed such heart-warming expressions of affection yesterday - and today!  Happy Belated Valentine's Day to all of you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This was the snow as it was falling Friday night.

It looked for a while as if it could be really serious (the flash helps that illusion).

The same view without a flash.
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Snow

...of course.  What else is there?

Actually, it was 40 degrees here yesterday, and a lot of the snow on the ground melted.  Naturally, the plow guy made a big heap at the side of the driveway.

The boys just tromped through the snow, without bothering to shovel.  Well, it's not MY feet that are cold.

A closer look at human and critter tracks.

We fared much better than locations as close as 50 miles from here, though.  I'm not unhappy!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

January Sewing

In January, I continued working on that giant heap of velour which found its way to my house in November or so.

I signed up for a service called Acorn TV - British TV, streaming over the computer, for $30 per year - and bought myself a HDMI cable so I can hook the laptop to the TV.  It sounds like I actually know what I'm doing, doesn't it?  Anyway, Acorn is for those of us who love Masterpiece Theatre and the like.  So, I was watching a Midsomer Murder a while back, and they had a singer in a 1940s style club wearing a dress with a lovely scalloped neckline.  This dress, made from New Look 6567, likely purchased around 1995, was close to it.  It took a few alterations, and I thought the definition of the neckline would be greater than it is, but I do like it overall.  I'm thinking I might try this pattern again soon, because I do love princess seamed dresses.

Back in December, I made a dress and jacket from a blue and purple velour.  Well, the velour was neither very heavy nor very soft, but the pattern was interesting.  So I turned it into a variation of New Look 6015, which I've made before.  I like the ties at the neck.  It's worn with a winter white stretch knit elastic waisted skirt, adapted from McCall's M3341.

Last is this dress made from Vogue pattern 9771, which I lengthened to have an a-line skirt.  This is "heathered yellow" velour, pretty heavy weight, warm and soft.  I have not worn it yet, because I think it needs a black belt.  Note to self: "heathered" means spotty gray, which is a look with which I'm not terribly enamored.  Try to avoid that again.

This weekend, I'm working on a pink velour wardrobe, but a cold is catching up with me, and I might just spend much of my time snoozing.  Hope you're all feeling much better than I am!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Carrot Cake

The last time the boys went for milk, Ryan came back with the biggest sack of carrots he could find, plopped them in front of me, and demanded carrot cake.  Soon.  I complied.


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup egg beaters (or 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups finely shredded carrot (I used 5 big ones)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir together with a wire whisk: this sifts them together with much less trouble than using the actual sifter.  Add the oil, vanilla and egg beaters (or eggs, if no one in you house counts cholesterol), beat at low speed until combined, and then for about 2 minutes on medium speed, until smooth.  Stir in the walnuts and shredded carrot.  Pour into a greased 9x12 pan (my choice), or two layer pans (traditional).  Bake at 350F 42 to 45 minutes for the sheet cake, or 30 to 35 minutes for the layers.  Frost with cream cheese frosting (8 ounces cream cheese, regular or low fat, 1 pound confectioner's sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract, beaten until smooth: it is much softer than regular buttercream frosting).

I always prefer making a sheet cake, so I eschewed the traditional carrot cake look, and while Ryan howled that it didn't look right, here's what was left the next morning (which was a snow day):

That's right; the poor cake never even got to have a nice picture taken (not that my hordes often let me take nice pictures of food)!

As to the monster storm threatening the northeast, well, "everyone in school" said today would be a day off, and the teachers even warned the kids to take their books home to study for midterms over the weekend.  There's not a school within 40 miles of me that closed or even delayed.  And the sun looked like it might come out a few minutes ago.  But I have a goodly stock of food, and I even have electricity now, so I'm not afraid.  But I doubt it will be a "monster storm of historic proportions" nonetheless.

Happy weekending, everyone!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thorsday Book Review

I happened upon this book for the Kindle a while back, and just got around to reading it.  It was also a big movie a number of years back, and I have some comments about that, too.

by Jack Englehard
copyright 1988

Joshua Cantor is a speech writer for what's described as a "corrupt corporation" in the Philadelphia area, married to the gorgeous blond Joan, whose wealthy father comes from the Main Line.  Because he doesn't make a huge living, Josh goes to Atlantic City frequently to try to win big.  On one such trip, he meets Ibrahim Hassan, a wealthy man from some Arab nation or other, who gambles tens of thousands of dollars or more at a clip; Ibrahim decides that Josh is lucky for him, because whenever Josh is around, Ibrahim wins.  Upon meeting Joan, Ibrahim wants to spend a night with her, and is willing to pay them a million dollars for the privilege.

While well written and concise, I found the book distasteful on a number of levels.  First, while I understand that some folks enjoy games of chance, I despise anyone who gambles thinking that he will win enough to change his life if he just stays at it long enough.  Get out there and get a better job, you bum!  I also don't understand a husband even bringing the "indecent proposal" to his wife.

I don't recall the movie making clear that Josh was trying to augment his income to what he thought his wife "deserved" by gambling, but I do recall that the indecent proposal was made by Robert Redford for Demi Moore.  I really didn't understand that at all, because Redford was a very handsome man, and pretty brunettes are all over the place.  So why did he need to pay for one?  At least in the book, the wealthy man was an Arab sheik, for whom gorgeous blondes were nonexistant, so his offer to pay for one, in particular the wife of someone he deemed a "lucky" person, made limited sense.

Still and all, while the book was well written, I didn't much like it.  2.5/5

Maybe a happier review next week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Garden Tuesday: 2 Hour Delay

This is what a 2 hour delay looks like, when you've crawled back under the covers for an unexpected and joyous reprieve from the morning:

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Roast Turkey Breast

It's been a busy day today, and I'm all out of inspiration.  So I thought I'd show you what every Sunday night dinner looks like hereabouts.


Turkey Breast (bone-in or boneless)
1 onion
1 carrot
olive oil
garlic powder

Chop the onion and carrot in eighths.  Whether boneless or not, salt the bottom only of the turkey.  Tuck some of the veggies under the skin, and put the rest under the turkey breast or in the cavity.  Rub the upper part of the turkey with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder and basil.  Pour about 1/4" of water in the bottom of the roasting pan, then roast at 350F in a conventional oven or 325F in a convection oven, until the turkey is done (165F on a meat thermometer).  Let it sit 15 minutes before slicing.

For gravy, dump a goodly handful of ice cubes in the pan drippings, stir to collect the fat, and scoop the fat and ice out of the pan.  Add 1 chicken bouillon cube and 1/2 cup water, and heat to a simmer.  Mix 1/2 cup cold water with 2 tbsp cornstarch, whisk until smooth, and whisk into the pan drippings.  Add a bit more water, if the gravy is too thick.

Here's how I served it:

Hope you all have a great weekend!