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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Home Made Pumpkin Pie

Or at least that was the idea.  When the commissary had no pumpkin pies, fresh or frozen, we picked up a can of pumpkin for me to make a pie.  Well today was the day for baking, but it didn't happen.  I got the can of pumpkin out, saw that it called for 2 cans of condensed milk and went rummaging through the cupboard.  I found 1 can of fat free condensed milk, not good and then I noticed the best if used by date:  July of 2016.  Uh-oh, again not good.  It began to look as if a run to the grocery store was in order.  I asked Mac if a cake would do instead and he agreed, but really, cake is just not Thanksgivingy.  So we decided to go to the store.  I went to look at the frozen pie crust before we took off and it was so old, freezer burned and all the edges broken off.   So new crust was in order too.
On the way to the store Mac asked me if it wouldn't cheaper and easier to just buy a pie,  well I thought I'd check that out.  Turns out Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (which I prefer)  is $1.99 a can and a 2 pack of Pillsbury Pie Crust is $1.97 or about $1.00 a piece.  So that's about $5.00 to make my pie.  Fresh baked pumpkin pies were $2.50.  I bought a pie.
My heart was in the right place, just not my ingredients.  I'll bake a pie at Christmas.
Taken from Publix's Webstite

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I'm So Pleased

Last week sometime Sharon from At Rivercrest Cottage posted about going to Vintage Market Days in McKinney, Texas.  And in particular she showed a painting on wood of a rabbit.
  This is the painting.  She said the lady who sold them wasn't there and she was a bit disappointed.  Well I fell in love with the painting and asked Mac to paint one for me.  He hates copying other people's work, but agreed to paint it for me.  Today he finished and I'm in love with it.  Here he  is.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Grumble As Opposed to a Crumble

Time to do an old lady vent.  We went to the commissary today and though it looks really good after its remodel I'm having trouble with it.  Things have really been rearranged.  Some of the rearranging makes sense and some makes no sense at all.  So shopping took way longer than it should have as Mac and I both searched for things.
Some things just weren't there:  no ground pork, no lamb of any kind, no UHT milk (I don't drink it, I use it for baking)---lots of soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, but no UHT, none of my coffee,  Dunkin Donut Dark, no red leaf lettuce, no calcium, lots of broken eggs ---Mac had to search a lot of boxes to find enough whole ones-- and no pumpkin pies.  So I'll be making my own, probably should have anyway, that way I'll know exactly what's in it.
Then my watch died, I buy cheap ones so they never last very long.  I only wear one when we're out and about, at home I don't care what time it is.
And to top things off I had an old lady moment.  When I change pants or jeans I like to pull them over my shoes.  Hate to take my shoes off because I have to double knot the ties because they're too long.  Anyway, I couldn't get my jeans off and had to call for Mac who basically laughed at me, told me take my shoes off, but them pulled them off of me.  I need to look for some  walking shoes with good support ( I wear Easy Spirit) that have velcro closing instead of ties, then it'd be easy to change clothes.
Well enough grumbling, it's a beautiful day and I need to go and fix lunch.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Some of This, Some of That

We were out running around yesterday and the traffic was terrible.  Reminded us of why we don't go out much.  We were in search of the Hobby Lobby in a town up the line and finally found it.  It was huge and deserving of another trip, but in a quieter location.
We had thought that we'd have lunch at the Panda Express near it,  but after reading reviews on YELP (does anyone else read these?) we decided not too, there were some really bad reviews.  But still in the mood for Chinese food we stopped by a local restaurant and got take out.  Mac got Sweet and Sour Pork with Chicken Fried Rice and I got Honey Chicken with White Rice.  We both got Spring Rolls.  All I can say is that I make better Chinese food and that the last time I checked I don't have any Chinese ancestry.  It was cheap, so I didn't squeal too much.
Today I've been finishing up photo projects and they went fairly quickly.
Supposed to hit 77º today, warm weather for mid-November.
Hope you're having a good weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

In The Closet

I've been sitting in the floor of my closet wrapping Christmas presents.  I usually haul it all upstairs and do it in my craft room and then have to turn around and drag it all back downstairs to put under the tree.  This year I thought I'd wrap in my closet instead, that's where I stow stuff as I buy it.  Now Mac's going to put it up on the shelf in the closet.  The floor was getting crowded in there with all the bags and boxes.  Wrapped up it looks a bit better.
I didn't want to sit on the bare floor so I brought in the cushion I sit on at the computer.  My lower back had been giving me fits so I got a chair cushion designed to make sitting less stressful on your back.  But even using that my back is a bit achy now.
I'm due for my B-12 shot tomorrow and boy do I need it.  All my get up and go has gone.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Working With Photos

I have less hair this afternoon than I did this morning.  I've been working on Christmas presents that involve photos and I've pulled a load of my hair out.  Some of my photos were just so darn big and I couldn't or didn't know how, to reduce them.  Those were the ones from my camera---I need a new camera before we go back to Japan next year.  The ones from Mac's camera we put on a disc, connected the disc reader to my computer, looked at previews, reduced the size, saved, uploaded to the project I was working on and dragged the pictures in.
Those I couldn't reduce took forever to upload, so instead of sitting here staring at the screen I went out played a couple of pages of piano music, came back and dragged the photo (I had to do them one at a time) into my project.  When I got tired of playing piano I cross-stitched in between photos.
I finally got two projects done and I have one more to do, hope I have enough hair left to get it done.

Monday, November 13, 2017

How Old

I was looking at my Fall/Winter dishes and I was wondering how old were they.  I know I bought them before we moved to Georgia and we've been here about 14 1/2 years.  And I know I didn't  buy them when we lived in Hemet, California because there was no Pier 1 store in Hemet.  We lived in Hemet about 6 1/2 years, so the dishes were at least 21 years old.  Then I realized that I had to have bought them when we lived in Murrieta, California.  We lived there about 6 1/2 years.  So they could be up to 27 years old.
Then I looked on the back and saw that they hadn't been made in China and Lord knows everything is made in China and has been for years.
Wonder of wonder they'd been made in England.  I didn't know England even made dishes any more. These still look brand new so I'd love to know who in England made them.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Out to Lunch

I did take Mac out for lunch yesterday to celebrate Veteran's Day,  and feeling an urge for Italian food we went to the Olive Garden.  When we came in they offered him a special Veteran's Day Menu to pick his free meal from.

He chose the Chicken Parmigiana  that came with spaghetti.  I ordered off the regular menu and had Shrimp Scampi on a bed of Fettuccini with  Asparagus.  Both meals came with endless salad and bread sticks.  What a nice treat.

We also went plant shopping and we got some gorgeous Chrysanthemums and Pansies.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran's Day

I wrote this originally back in 2011 and I feel today is good day to reblog it.  My Mac was named for his uncle who was killed in WWII shortly before he was born.

Today is Veteran's  Day and we say thank you to all the veterans who have served this country.  I have no relatives who served in World War I, my grandfathers were too young.  In World War II I had uncles from both sides of the family who served, but not my father, bad eye sight (which I inherited), and thankfully all of them made it home.
Mac's family was not so lucky, he lost an uncle in World War II, his uncle Mac who he is named after.  He had served in the South Pacific, met a girl in Australia, got engaged, and then near the end of the war he was killed.  Below is the letter his commanding officer sent to his mother.
Mrs. Mary Hernandez,
927 Watkins St. ,
Hayward, Calif.

Dear Mrs. Hernandez:

     Your son, Corporal Modesto Hernandez, served in this battalion since February, 1942.  He worked in the message center, and I always saw him several times a day.  I knew him quite well.
     On March 20, 1945, we made the assault landing on the beach at Zamboanga.  We immediately began to shoot at the Japs and they fired on us with artillery all through the day.  About five o'clock in the evening one of the shells burst right in front of the dugout where Modesto was working.  It killed several of our boys and wounded many others.  A fragment flew into the dugout and killed your son instantly.
     He was buried in the United States Armed Forces Cemetery No.1 Zamboanga, Mindenao, Phillippine Islands, on March 11, 1945 with full military honors.  The services were conducted by Father Terwood, Catholic Chaplain to the 41st Division of Artillery.  The  Father knew Modesto quite well.
     Your son served in battles at Salamana, New Guinea, Hollandia, Biak Island, Dutch New Guinea and Zamboanga, P.I.  He was very brave in combat under enemy fire and always performed all of his duties in an exemplary manner.  He was willing, cheerful, industrious and efficient as a soldier.  Everyone in this battalion knew him and liked him.  We called him "Shorty."
     We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to you at this time.  You may be justly proud of the fine record your son made in the Army and the splendid service he rendered to our country.  We who were friends and fellow soldiers with Modesto in combat will always remember him with affection.

                                                         Yours sincerely,
                                                         Ralph E. Cole
                                                         Lt. Col. F. A.
                                                         Comdg.  205th F. A. Bn.

Mac's Mother told me that it broke her mother's heart when Mac (his name was Modesto, named for a family friend, but everyone called him Mac) was killed  and I can well understand.
My Mac spent 21 years in the Army and each day I'm grateful that he didn't have to serve in a war.
So I say thank you to all those who've served this country

Friday, November 10, 2017

Well Friday, Finally

Happy Veteran's Day to
my favorite Veteran
I'll say it again, it's felt like a long week.  But is has finally cooled off and it's glorious.  Felt like Autumn when we walked this morning and though none of the leaves have changed color there's a nip in the air and I'm happy.
Plugged in our electric blanket this morning to see if it's ready to go and unfortunately it appears to have died, still a nice blanket, but no heat, so I've ordered a new one, should be here Sunday.  Which means it will probably warm back up.
Called our propane provider, we're an all electric house except for our fireplaces and the stove, but they said our tank wasn't low enough to fill yet.  Maybe in another month.
Finished another book, Mr. Churchill's Secretary  by Susan Elia MacNeil  and I didn't like it at all.  Everyone was beautiful, everyone was strong and brave and quite frankly everyone was boring as all get out.  Won't be continuing with this series.
Watched Pirates of the Caribbean -Dead Men Tell No Tales and the kindest thing I can say about it was that it was ok, but I really think it's time to end this film series.
I made so much Chili the other day we're still eating it, perfect for the weather.
Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and most of the restaurants around here are offering free meals to Veterans.  We've never taken advantage of that before, but I think we will tomorrow.  And while we're out I can go in search of some Autumn flowers.

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 ...