Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There and Back Again

Christmas tree at the Smithsonian Castle
No, though very short, I'm not a Hobbit.  We went to see our daughter near Washington D.C. (there) for Thanksgiving and now we're back again.  As always it was good to see her.  I know I drove her crazy cooking in her kitchen--that's a territory that we consider very personal space and we know where everything is in it, and it's hard to have others rooting around in it.
But Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, she did most of the cooking, I just did the lamb and salad.
We don't do Black Friday but rather we went into D.C. to visit the Smithsonian museums.  There's a great exhibit on Food at the American History Museum and the best part of it was Julia Child's kitchen.  I've been fascinated by her ever since we saw the movie Julie and Julia, and then my daughter gave me her biography Dearie for my birthday.  What an interesting life she led.  We loved her kitchen and all her cooking paraphernalia.
At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which we usually give a miss because none of us are modern art fans, we saw a fantastic exhibit of the Chinese Zodiac.  Sculpted by Ai Weiwei (he collaborated on the design for the National Stadium for  the 2008 Beijing Olympics).  There are 12 sculptures, each  10 feet high, they were incredible.
We finished the day at the Elephant and Crown a pseudo English pub.

Great trip, but as always glad to get home, can't wait for her to come for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cold Weather Food

Yesterday when our really, really young weather forecaster said we were going to have a Yucky day (don't you just love those technical meteorological terms?) I knew I had to fix something that would stick to your ribs.  So I thumbed through my Weight Watcher recipes and found individual chicken pot pies.  The only thing I added to the original recipe was potatoes, but I took out the celery, neither of us likes it, and though caloriewise the potatoes are more, a pot pie just needs potatoes.
It tasted even better than it looked.

For those who are looking for a lower calorie recipe for a pot pie:

2 Tbsp white self-rising flour      I used regular flour with baking powder added
1 Tbsp  butter
2/3 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock   I use fat-free low sodium
3/4 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast(s) cubed
2 medium celery stalks chopped   I omitted this and used potatoes instead
2 carrots chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rosemary
can of uncooked, flaky biscuits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees  Coat 4 ten ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray

In a saute pan melt butter over medium hear, add chicken, onion, celery and carrots.  Saute until chicken is no longer pink.  Add flour, stir so flour mixes with butter.

Add chicken stock and wine slowly, stirring constantly so no lumps form.  Add peas, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer until thick, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken mixture from hear and divide evenly among ramekins.

Put a biscuit on top of each ramekin (I put one on the bottom too).  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until biscuits are brown and mixture is bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.


Good food for a yucky day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Small Treats

             Iris Murdoch, "The secret to a happy life is continuous small treats"

Relyn at comesitbymyfire (if you haven't read her blog, go, go go, it's wonderful)  wrote a blog about small treats.  She listed her small treats and asked what ours were, so here goes:

anything chocolate, bubble baths with candles around, books in stacks waiting to be read, candle light and a fire in the fireplace on a cool Fall evening, the first flowers of spring, my kitty's tummy, making Christmas cookies, shoes that fit like a glove the first time you wear them. silk longjohns in winter, Old Sprice on my husband's neck, the soft ticking of a clock, a Mozart sonata when I finally play it right, my family gathered to celebrate, making lists, cat calendars, hearing a train in the distance, walking in the morning when the air is cold and crisp, cooking something special, the smell of fresh baked bread, watching someone's face when they open a gift, baseball, the smell of the ocean, holding hands with the one you love, smell of freshly ironed pillowcases, hearing my husband play guitar, waking up and knowing the whole day is yours to do as you please, watching butterflies in the garden, hearing birds chirping when I first wake up, talking to my daughter on Sunday, laughing with my sister, going fishing with Mac

What are your small treats?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Autumn

We always have a painting displayed on an easel in the  sitting room alcove of our bedroom.  They change with the seasons, a tea party in summer, a Christmas door, etc.  When we went looking for an Autumn painting all we could find was a vaguely autumnal colored barn scene.  Mac decided to paint us one instead and asked what I'd like in it.  I said pumpkins, lots of pumpkins.  So he went looking for ideas and found some pumpkins he could use as a basic design and build on.  The new header is the finished , though he says it's not and plans to sneak a few more strokes in, painting.
I absolutely love it, one of his best.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dilemma

We're in a bit of a dilemma here at the little house in the swamp.  We've always had a real Christmas tree.  Some years we've gone and cut our own, and some years bought it at a lot, but always a real one.
Our Usual Tree
This year we're kicking around the idea of an artificial one.  We've always bought a real one because we love the look and smell of it.  But it's been years since the trees have had any smell that you could detect more than a foot or two away.  That's why we decided to stop buying our tree at a lot and go to a Christmas tree farm and cut one.  Again, though, the smell didn't last, and one year a fresh tree we'd cut began losing its needles at an alarming rate and was almost bald by Christmas, making turning the lights on a bit dangerous.
You might think from this that we weren't keeping our tree in water, but we do, checking the water level every day.  And our house is never overheated (she said wearing 2 sweaters to keep warm) so that wasn't  the problem either.
Since moving here to Georgia we've been getting our tree from a local lot, buying what's called a Fraser Fir.  They're beautiful trees, very straight, thick and lose very few of their needles.  Mac puts them in the lagoon after Christmas to provide fish habitat.
But they have very little smell, and a couple of times we've had trouble with the tree holder leaking and causing a floorboard to warp.  We've been lucky that it didn't warp badly and when dry it straightened out.
I don't want to buy a live tree, there's really no room in our yard for more trees.  I spend the spring pulling out pine trees that have seeded themselves all over the place.  And I don't want any more cedar, we put in 2 when we first moved here and they're huge now.  Those are the 2 fir trees that grow best here.
I love a big tree and our ceiling is very high so often our tree is between 7 and 8 feet high.  I'd get bigger but, our car is small and we have to carry the tree up stairs into the house.  So that limits me.
This year we thought we'd look into artificial trees.  It would save our car that always has to haul my mammoth one home, it would save our backs from having to haul it up the stairs and it would save our wood floors.
What it would not save is my piggy bank.  The reasonably priced ones don't look real and they're tall and skinny.  I like a really full tree.  The ones I'd consider have been in the $200-$500 range.  Ouch!!!!  I know it will last forever, but that's a lot of Tootsie Rolls.

A $279 Tree
So what kind of tree do you put up?  Should we invest (and it would be an investment) in an artificial one?  Or should we keep buying  real ones?

Friday, November 16, 2012

RIP Twinkies

Today is a day of mourning, the mighty Twinkie is no more.  Hostess, the company that made them,  has asked bankruptcy court (they had filed for bankruptcy earlier this year) for permission to begin selling  off their brands and assets.
Many things had gone wrong at the company, lots of finger pointing, but the bottom line is, unless another company picks them up, Twinkies, and even worse, their chocolate cousin, Chocodiles, will be no more.  Alas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Basking Weather

Yesterday we had to go into town so we decided to do our daily walk in the city park, it has a 3 mile trail we like.  I've mentioned this park before, it use to be part of the Henry Ford estate, it was used to grow rice and has canals that fill and empty as the  tide (carried by the Ogeechee River) ebbs and flows.  It's a great place to bird watch, always has hawks, herons, buzzards, woodpeckers and smaller birds too.
The weather yesterday was much warmer than we had expected, well up into the 70's and we saw numerous turtles out basking in the sun.  We also saw 4 or 5 small alligators, around 3 feet long.
It's no wonder the folks who live along this watery park have fences, wouldn't you just love to wake up one day and find an alligator basking on your patio?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Cemetery and Ossuary at Verdun, France
(picture borrowed from Wikipedia)
Though most in our nation are more concerned with playing with their iphones and ipads they should take a few moments to remember why they have tomorrow off.  It's not just  a holiday that's been moved to a Monday so they can have a 3 day weekend.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended and it was hoped that because it had been so horrible that it would be the war to end all wars.  Unfortunately that was not to be.
I can remember visiting Verdun in France in the 1970's, viewing the trenches that were still there surrounded by barbwire and still looking like soldiers had just left them.  It was a cold February day and there was fog about giving an eery feeling to it all.   We visited  the graveyards and saw  the ossuary that contained the bones of those who couldn't even be identified.
The battle of Verdun lasted from the 21st of February 1916 till the 18th of December.  More than 714,321 French and German soldiers were killed.  The ossuary contains the bones of 130,000 French and German soldiers who couldn't be identified.  You look through small windows and see the mounds of bones inside.
It was a harrowing experience, made a bit of a passifist of me, for a while that is.
For as horrible as war is I do believe there are things worth fighting for and dieing for.  Your family, your freedom , your country.
My husband is a veteran and today, and every day I say, thank you for the job you do, for making our way of life possible.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I haven't blogged all week no energy, no inspiration,  nothing I want to write about.  My feelings on sweeping floors and cleaning toilets don't make for family friendly utterings so I decided it was better to just say nothing.
Fall has finally arrived here, sort of, a few trees are changing color and losing their leaves, but not in our yard, we mainly have pine and oak so no pretty autumn colors here.The squirrels throw down pine darts and pine cones occasionally , but it's not quite the same.
It has been chilly the last couple of days, highs in the 50's, but it's supposed to warm up to the 70's over the weekend.
The election is over, finally, so I guess we trade political ads for Christmas ads, not sure which is more annoying, and Lord help us they're already talking about the election of 2016.
Went to my dermatologist this week to find out how much of my nose they wanted to trim off, but Milisandre and her boss decided that the ugly little blighter (squamous cell carcinoma) was shallow enough that we could just put acid on it for 6 weeks and see how that goes.  I think Melisandre was looking forward to a little scalpel work and seemed a bit disappointed, but she said we'd meet again in January and reassess.
After that close encounter we went out for German food which was so GOOD!
We have leftovers for lunch today.
Going out dancing tonight, I can just already hear  my knees squealing in anticipation.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Almost

The window and all that surrounds it are almost back together again.  New wood has been put in, new insulation, a new window sill, new molding and new dry wall.  On the outside the siding has been put back on, the window trim replaced and the gutter rehung.  On the inside the he dry wall has been "mudded" and has to sit for a day.  Next the new baseboard goes in, then I get to paint it all.
If I see another termite, even if he's minding his own business he's dead.
Talking to a neighbor this morning she said they've had to replace the door from the garage into the house and all the wood around their garage.
And here I thought cockroaches were the worse bugs we'd have in Georgia.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hungry Little Buggers

There was a leak around one of our windows.  A small window you ask, no a huge triple window.  For some reason the people who built this house ( and lived here originally) didn't seal this window.  As a result water got in and in  Georgia where water ithere are  termites.  But we didn't know it until the window sill began deteriorating .  When Mac began cleaning it out to repair it he found termites, so we called our termite people, the ones who inspect our house  for termites every year and treat it when any are found.  They advised Mac to take the whole window sill out and look for further termite infestation.  We have a friend who knows about construction so he has helped Mac take the window sill, molding, sheet rock, baseboard, outside flashing and surrounding wood out.  What a mess, I about cried when I saw how extensive the damage was.  Our friend said the termites would have started on the floor next.
So the day has been spent, tearing the damage out, cleaning out all the bits and pieces and now they're starting to reconstruct it all.
I'll be glad when it's all cleaned up, but that probably won't be for while.

All Wrapped Up

Started early, finished late.  I started wrapping presents way back in November and except for a few small things due in the mail I'm fi...