Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What's Cooking?

The kitchen smells heavenly.  I made vegetable beef soup, think it's the first time I've done that.  It's for lunch tomorrow and I went a head and cooked it today because I was going to be in the kitchen all morning anyway.  I'm cooking Rabo de Toro (Ox-tail soup), a Spanish dish Mac always has when we go to Spain and we decided to see if we could cook it at home.  Picked up some ox-tails at the commissary Sunday, found a recipe online and started work on it this morning.  It involved searing the ox-tails, cooking together onions, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, ginger, beef stock and red wine.  Then letting it simmer for 3 hours.  The broth tastes delicious, I'm going to serve it over mashed potatoes, can't wait.

The Vegetable Beef Soup


The Rabo de Toro

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday in the Swamp

The house is once again filled with the smell of Gingerbread, I baked a load of little men, even wore my Gingerbread Apron, but I'm too lazy to take  pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  I filled a sleigh with them and they're sitting on the table.  Mac and I shared one and he squirted whipped cream on it---well YUM---whipped cream and gingerbread, a match made in heaven.
No a lot done besides the baking, starting to get the house clean before our daughter gets here so I can spend time with her and not on housework.
Finally finished A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, a book I didn't think I was going to like much but ended up loving it.  Now it's stuck in my head and I keep thinking about it.  Not told in chronological order and even has a Power Point presentation in the middle.  Some critics call it a novel, others 13 interrelated stories.  Very different and very good, but also very strange.
Now I'm reading When You Disappeared by John Marrs about a man who leaves his family and then returns 25 years later, so far it's very good.
I'm also reading Rooster Bar by John Grisham and so far it's just ok.
Warm day today, nearly 70º, but due to drop to 32º.  That's kind of nice though, warm days and snuggle under the covers at night.

Monday, December 11, 2017

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 finally through.  And I have the back ache to prove it.  I use a lot of bags for gifts, but even that is time consuming.
Had a nice weekend, it's finally cold enough to feel like Christmas might be near.  Lows near 30º the last couple of nights, so a fire in the fireplace and the electric blanket on the bed.
Today I cleaned up our daughter's bedroom and put fresh linens on the bed.  She'll be here next Monday, can't wait.
Watched lots of football, OMG, the game in Buffalo looked awful---so much snow.
Grocery shopping done, have most of the things we'll need for Christmas, though I'll wait a bit to get the leg of lamb.  That's always my daughter's choice for Christmas dinner.  She says lamb is the one food that it's hard to get in Japan.
Saturday I made Gingerbread men, but tomorrow I need to make more.  Love when the house smells like ginger.  Saturday I also cooked bacon and the house smelled like ginger and bacon, my daughter wanted to know if I'd put bacon in the Gingerbread Men.  Wonder what that would taste like.
Time to go fight with Canon in D, I've been working on mastering this piece for years and though I've made progress, there's no way I can say I play it well.

Friday, December 8, 2017

On a Dark and Gloomy Friday

Second day of rain and BRRR, it's cold outside.  Would not have left the house, but it was time for my B-12 shot and I need all the energy I can get.
The living room is done, mostly, I still need to set up my teeny, tiny train.  Time to wrap more packages.
This was while I was still working, note cat in window.

Entry way table

The Nutcrackers are out in force.



The Christmas Critters and the stockings

The rest of the Critters are under the tree.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Working on Christmas

The tree is up and decorated, will post pictures when the room is done.  This is the only time of the year we use the living room so it's its time to shine, but so far we haven't found the Christmas stockings to hang on the fireplace.  But all the Christmas critters are out and about.
Making chili for lunch today because it has finally turned cold--YEAH!, it's been in the 70's all week, just too darn warm for this time of year.  But it will probably warm back up for Christmas, it always does.
A little more decorating today and then I've got to do so wrapping, my closet is clogged with boxes and I can hardy walk there, so I must get to work.
Thought I'd show a couple of photos of the Christmas Market at Union Square, small, but it smelled to good.














And one of the fantastic places we found while wandering the streets was Eataly a fabulous Italian food center owned by Mario Batali and others.  It's 50, 000 feet of Italian goodness.  Mario (one of our favorite chefs describes it as a grocery store with tasting rooms.  It was incredible and I could have eaten in every restaurant.  We bought a cheese ( which turned out to not be very good),  a salami (which was wonderful) and some good crusty bread.








Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Kindness of Strangers and Christmas Markets

Who says people in New York City are cold.  Not true.  When unpacking after our arrival Mac discovered he'd left the charger for his MP3 player at home.  He needs White Noise to help him sleep at night and has to charge the player each day.  So I quickly Googled where we could get a charger, Best Buy was the closest and we headed downstairs.  Got directions from the doorman, left and left again, and we were quickly on our way.  Entering the store I saw an employee (Quentin), explained our problem and asked for help, he asked to see the MP3 player and quickly showed us what they had in the way of chargers and pointed out the cheapest one ($20.00) and we headed to the cash register, but he caught up to us, handed us a charger and said it'd just been laying in a drawer and would have soon been thrown out, so Merry Christmas, no charge. How nice was that!
The next night as we headed back to our hotel when we/I decided that  we/I needed something sweet to eat, so seeing Dunkn' Donuts we went in and I asked for 2 plain cake donuts.  The clerk said no, you need 4 and gave us 4 for the price of 2.  It was nearing closing time so again we got something that would have been thrown out, for free.  And they were delicious.
Everywhere we went I unashamedly asked strangers for directions, guess I could have looked them up on my phone, but how much fun is that. Everyone was helpful and the security guard who said Mac was right about the direction we should be going laughingly warned him not to be too smug about it.
The day before we left I couldn't connect to the WiFi in our room and so I asked the desk clerk for help (Jasmine).  She not only confirmed our airline reservations she printed our boarding passes.  Turns out she wasn't a native New Yorker, but was from Stuttgart, Germany, a city we had lived in and that her father was from Izmir, Turkey, also a city we'd lived in.  Had a great conversation with her.
So don't believe the bad things you hear about New Yorkers, they were great to us.

Now Christmas Markets, we went to 2, a smaller one down at Union Square near the wonderful Strand Book Store and a larger one at Bryant Park (if you watch Project Runway I know you've heard of Bryant Park, I kept looking for Tim ).  We had breakfast there one morning and went back at night to see it all lit up.  Lots of heavenly smells and some very different gift ideas.

We had waffles and coffee for breakfast, can you believe it was warm enough to eat outside?

The Badger thought the waffles were mighty tasty

There was a large skating rink at Bryant Park

And a Christmas tree that they lit up on Friday night

Loads of beautiful street decorations

A Merry-Go-Round at Bryant Park, loved the frog, watched a little girl ride it and she was just in heaven.


Can you tell we had a wonderful time?  Can't wait to go back again.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Back Home

We're home from NYC, worn to a frazzle with worn out feet.  Great trip, NYC looked like every Christmas movie you've ever seen, minus the snow.  The weather was delightful, well up in the 50's.  We walked everywhere, which explains why our feet are so sore.  We're use to walking, but concrete city sidewalks are so unforgiving.
Everywhere just looked like Christmas.  The store windows were wonderful, particularly Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylors.
These are from Saks where the theme was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.







This is from Lord and Taylor, not sure what the theme was.


This is the tree and skating rink at Rockefeller Center, couldn't get near it the night it was first lit, police barricades everywhere and there must have been a 100,000 people out about near it.  Saw it the next night though.


The say the tree has 50,000 lights.

It was all just so beautiful.  And then we went to the best book store I've ever seen, The Strand.  It covers nearly a block with racks of used books outside for a dollar and 3 stories of every imaginable type of book.  I did some serious Christmas shopping there.



Tomorrow I'll tell you about the Christmas Markets and the kindness of strangers.



Monday, November 27, 2017

Slowly, But Surely

I'm getting things ready for Christmas.  Today I addressed and stamped cards, they'll go out next week.  Tomorrow I'll wrap everything that needs to be mailed.  Almost through shopping, looking for stocking stuffers.  Buying for Mac is the hardest, I search and search to find things that will tickle his fancy.
Took the carcass from  the game hens and made it into chicken and rice soup this morning, it made the whole house smell good.  I'm getting to really like homemade soups, so less full of sodium than the canned ones.
Today is Cyber Monday, but I haven't bought anything.  I shop online all the time, I don't need a special day to make Jeff Bezos richer ($100.5).  And to the people sending me catalogues, you're wasting your time and money.  I'm sorry to say that they go directly to the trash.
Suitcases await me, have to get to them tomorrow.  Colder in NYC than here so much warmer clothes.  Want to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Square lit up and the Christmas Market in Union Square, not to mention the Gangster Tour we're doing one night.
Hope you're off to a good start this week.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mighty Tasty

As good as the Cornish Game Hens were on Thanksgiving I think today's meal was even better.  We had braised lamb shanks with a brown gravy served over mashed potatoes.  It was delicious, could have swam in that sauce.
Another beautiful day here in the swamp, near 70º and a bright blue sky.  Perfect autumn weather.  Did our walk first thing this morning  and watched the leaves finally starting to fall.
Lots of football, yeah Atlanta, good game.  And it looks like Oakland might beat Denver, double yeah, hate Denver, love to watch them lose.
Need to start getting organized for Christmas, I have my cards, but not one addressed yet.  All my gifts to be mailed are here and need to be wrapped.  We have a short trip to New York City coming up and I'll really have to get going on things when we get back.
Hope you too had a great weekend.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday in the Swamp

Cold night in the 30's, beautiful day near 70º.  Putting Fall/Thanksgiving decorations up, getting  ready for Christmas.  Got our first Christmas card yesterday from Mac's elegant cousin Isabel.  In her 80's and still travels the world, has visited far more places than we have.
Made bread this morning and then a pot of bean and bacon soup, that's to go with the Leek Frittata I'm making for lunch.
We're still eating on the Cornish Hens I cooked for Thanksgiving, can't believe how much meat was on them.  Tomorrow I'm going to make them into chicken and rice soup.
Watched Guardians of The Galaxy 2 last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Love little Groot.
Reading a semi-nonfiction book called Rocket Boys by Homer Hickman.  It's the first in a trilogy about his life growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia the son of a coal mine and how he developed an interest in rockets.  That was to eventually lead him to NASA.  He says in the preface that it's mostly true, including the names, but some characters have been consolidated and events a bit out of sequence, so it's mostly nonfiction with a little fiction thrown in.  It was made into a movie in the 90's called October Sky which is an anagram of Rocket Boys.  I'm quite enjoying it, amazing what you can accomplish if you try hard enough.
I'm also reading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, winner of the 2011 Pullitzer Prize.  It's 13 interlocking stories.  I like it, but I don't love it.  Hasn't made me want to go looking for more books by the author.
Also reading a science fantasy book,   Oath Bringer by Brandon Sanderson.  This is the 3rd in a planned 10 part book series.  Don't know if I'll live long enough to finish it, probably have to write the author a begin letter to let me know how it ends.
That's my Saturday, hope you're having a good one.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

No turkey was stuffed, but nevertheless we are.  After searching for recipes I cooked Cornish hens for Thanksgiving.  Hadn't fixed them in forever and never had much luck when I did cook them.  They usually turned out dry.
But the recipe was good and these turned out so delicious.  So was the pumpkin pie I bought at the store, so we're well stuffed.
Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it and a good weekend ahead to those who don't.

What's Cooking?

The kitchen smells heavenly.  I made vegetable beef soup, think it's the first time I've done that.  It's for lunch tomorrow and...