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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Cousin Mutty!

Here are some flowers for you, to celebrate your birthday!

Cousin Mutty is the youngest of my cousins, but we're all old now! She, fortunately, doesn't look it!

When I was digging out recipes this weekend, I found several that were from her mom, my aunt Grace. Mutty asked if I'd found the sour cream coffee cake recipe -- I knew there was a coffee cake of Gracie's, but not sure if it was the sour cream one.

It was! So, as a special birthday greeting, here's Gracie's coffee cake mix, from April 1960. (I won't say how old Mutty was then, but she wasn't five yet.)

Grace’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake (April 1960)

(Whip together)
¼ c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla

Add these dry ingredients sifted together:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1t baking soda
¼ t. salt

Crumb Mixture:

Mix together
1 ¼ c. brown sugar
½ c. chopped nuts
½ t. cinnamon

Layer in a greased angel food or bundt pan: 1/3 mixture on bottom, half of batter, 1/3 mixture in middle, other half of batter and 1/3 on top. (If you like, swirl with a knife.)

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Visit Garden Goose's Leap Year Giveaway!

If you haven't been there yet, stop at Garden Goose's Leap Year giveaway.

And while you are at it, visit Small Town Living. You can link there from Garden Goose or from here!

Retro Cook!

Over the weekend I spent some lovely moments digging into my past – I opened my mom’s old recipe book, and poured over recipes from the 1950s, many of which were in her familiar hand. I discovered favorites from family members – my aunts Grace and Iris, Iris’ daughter Nancy; cherished recipes I recall from my grandmother; things from old friends like my elementary school friend Michele LeVett; old favorites I had accumulated over the years… it was a grand trip back in time!

Many, of course, had creamed soups. Others relied on canned ingredients, where we now substitute fresh. But it was a different era -- and I don't remember complaining about the food too much (except for the liver that even our collie wouldn't eat!).

So, I made one that I’d always liked and remembered being served for nice occasions. I’m not sure why because it was so ridiculously easy and inexpensive, it could have been an “anytime” recipe. It’s a mock stroganoff – no sour cream, so it’s lighter. And quite delicious. Try it sometime!

Mama Zean’s Beef Dish

Put these ingredients in a casserole or baking dish:

1-2 pounds of stewing beef in bite-sized pieces
1 box fresh mushroom slices (you could also mix with different types) Mix the following together (I used a whisk to get it smooth)

1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup (of course it had mushroom soup – it’s from the ‘50s)
1 c. wine (I used syrah, but any dry red would be fine)
1 pkg. dried onion soup mix (I would go with a little less – it made it a little bit too salty, but not bad)



Pour that over the meat and mushrooms and bake at 350 for two hours or more. (I did two-and-a-half because that’s when we were ready to eat!)

Serve over noodles. I used the no-yolks, extra broad.

(Be sure to get some tasty, crusty bread – you’ll want it to get every bit of the good sauce!)

Incidentally, in our family we used to call this "Gas Cass" (which my mom hated!). However, my weekend preparation didn't result in any related difficulties!

Monday, February 25, 2008

We Were "There for the Bear!"

A lovely weekend at a great event – the Ebersole Center – which is a camp located in the woods and wilds about an hour or so from Lansing. Kids in the Lansing Public Schools attend the camp as part of their curriculum – for many, it is their first real experience “in the wild” as they experience science and nature firsthand. We were excited to attend the annual fundraiser, which included a silent Auction (I bought an astounding photograph of Santa Fe by Michael M. Smith – check out his website!) -- he also took the photo of me with Ebby the Bear! There was also a live auction (Rick bid high on a nature walk where you view “raptors”) and fun stops like the gold mine, where you buy a rock (that entitles you to a drink) and brush off the glitters. If the stone is gold underneath, you’re entered in a drawing for a diamond).

There was also a hog-roping stop. (I didn’t try, but Rick did!) He actually got the noose around it's horns!

There were also raffles (we didn’t win, but I didn’t NEED a dinner out, though I could have used the framing or car detailing!)
Here was the fun part – the dinner was very out-west, meaning beef stew, biscuits and baked beans served in a tin plate, peach cobbler with ice cream, and good salads – all served from the chuck wagon!


There was even a "campfire" nearby!

I love it – how many fundraisers do you get to attend where you can wear your jeans!

And the "set decorataions" were great -- wonderful old hats, serapes...

A good time had by all -- and good funds raised for a good cause!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Glorious Saturday!

Some days are just perfect. So far, this is one!

This morning we woke up early and before I headed home I had the pleasure of listening to Rick practice a lovely piece on his guitar while I knit, working on my aunt's birthday shawl. It was a quiet, peaceful way to start the day.

Then I started the short walk to my house and it was unbelievably beautiful. The sky was that perfect blue and the birds were insane with song. I don't know how I've missed them all these months, but they were on a roll! I love looking at the bare trees, seeing the squirrel nests up high -- or were those leaves that never fell? Perhaps both! When I got home I couldn't resist taking a photo or two of the bird houses in the back yard.
I have some swaps due shortly and volunteered to make the bookmarks for our informal Weight Watchers group, which one receives after five pounds. So I hauled out the stuff and just started! I don't know what happened -- total abandon, perhaps? I tend to sometimes play it safer than I'd like when doing collage and often the results of my cards are pleasing but predictable. I'd like to think it is my style, but I know part of it is lack of daring! Well, this time I decided I'm using the materials I have and some I've never played with before.

Here's a table-full before the fiber tags are added. I may trim the corners, too -- but as you can see, I was busy! And having the time of my life.

I sweat to the oldies awhile, debating what my impending shopping expedition would bring. I was resolutely self-righteous in choosing not to go to a half-off sale (inventory turnover time!) at our best scrap store, knowing that I had more embellishments and paper than I can use and unless I need something specific, I'd best stay away. Then I decided to do the same with the Clinique bonus. I didn't NEED to buy more stuff for my face, just to get the cute little bag (it's not like I don't have a LOT of cute little bags!). And there were really only a couple of items in the kit that I really would have used.

So, I ventured to Michael's to buy blank cards so I could mount some photo notes for my aunt, Iris. (Guess what they photos are of... well, here are two of them!)
I found them -- and a wooden birdhouse.

I digress for a minute here, but you must visit Karla's Cottage and check out her "Bling Your Birdhouse" posts. I missed doing this challenge, but I'm doing it anyway! I couldn't resist, partially inspired by Karla, partially by the bird houses in the back yard, and partly because I was getting back bad karma from being self-righteous about not spending!

Then on to JoAnn's where they had a wonderful bird nest and some nice tin buckets that I'll look forward to putting bulb gardens in... and I thought "You'd better get out of here!"

So, in the safety of my office I blog over my great day, knowing more is to come this evening as we attend a fun fundraiser. I am SO liking this weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Experiments!

My buddy Shelley is trying to help this computer illiterate blogger learn how to integrate html into posts so I don't have those huge, big long url links. So far, so good! Thanks, Shell! (Visit Shelley's blog and check out all her good work! She's a master!)
***
Here's how I spend my morning before work -- bear in mind, the photos are blurry because Mr. Gyps moves faster than the camera. But it's fun to have playtime!
What a nice day! I think I'll roll around...
This is my starting position, head back!
I'll start with a biiiiiig stretch!
And Rollllll
***
Finally, send up some good vibes to blogger buddy Beth and her mom, Lottie -- both of whom are in my art group. Lottie's having a lot of post-surgical challenges, issues with what insurance will and won't cover, getting into the right rehab spot -- and she needs all the positive energy she can get!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Artiscape! I'm Signed Up -- Are You?

This morning I sent in my check for two workshops at Artiscape, April 11-13 at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. Take a look at their lobby! Photo ops abound!
(If you live within striking distance of Northern Ohio, I can tell you that the Artiscape workshop I attended in the past was very well managed, with a diverse group of instructors and classes in everything ranging from bookbinding to collage and jewelry to special techniques. It’s worth the time and money involved.)

My art buddy Kate and I are planning to go down Saturday morning. There were several workshops that were tempting Kate, but I’m not sure which she decided on. I chose “Raised and Embossed Surfaces” on Saturday, taught by someone named Wanda Montgomery (whom I don’t know – yet!) Here’s the image that was on the Artiscape website (http://www.europeanpapers.com/)
This workshop explores different ways to apply mediums and acrylics, and we’ll make tools and stamps in class. I require a certain amount of company to get the guts to launch into new materials, so this is just the ticket!

The other workshop is taught by Jacqueline Sullivan and is called “Transparent Collage.” Here’s the image on the website – isn’t it terrific? I’ve had a class with her in the past at Hollanders in Ann Arbor and she’s a very good teacher. http://www.jacquelinesullivan.com
The collages will begin with plain white tissue, which we’ll paint and texturize in different ways – basically, creating our own unique transparent collage papers. Then we’ll put the papers together with other elements to create a 12x12 collage.

The event will also include what sounds like a fabulous dinner – “A Night in Casablanca” with an auction of original art, a marketplace (last time I went I did serious damage there) and trading sessions (which means I have to get busy!). You can trade anything – ATCs, jewelry, beads, embellishments. I still wear some pendants I got at the one a couple of years ago. (There’s also a great opening night gala, but I’ll miss that!)

Well, I’m excited and looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things! Just what I need!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Little Bits

So, here are a few little bits from my world these days...

First, art! This was too big to scan, but here is the cover of Rick's "year book" (a book of poetry and photos I put together each year for Valentine's Day). I did that over the weekend, along with some St. Paddy's day tags (just need the fringe part!) and some ATCs. It was nice to spend some creative time!


Also spent some time on a shawl for my aunt's 95th birthday. It's March 1, so I need to knit fast!


My work days have been spent coordinating an award entry for our World War II efforts here at the station last year. We had four television programs, two events, online support, fundraising efforts, a radio programming component and a major communications plan. We've been copying, collating, writing the nomination, re-writing the nomination with a vengeance! We'll know in April if we made it!


Finally, today was the first meeting of our informal Weight Watchers group -- several of us who had a WW at Work program a few years ago decided to regroup and meet weekly. Each of us will take a week to chair, we'll share recipes and support for each other and see what we can do. I took "Get Active" and "Exercise" since these are the things I hate the most and therefore need the most motivation for. (I love Richard Simmons and sweatin' to the oldies, but why sweat when you can glue things together?)

The other good thing is that my weight loss exercise class begins Thursday -- a 12-week plan! So, let's see how I do 10 or 12 weeks from now!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jeanie's Public TV Pick of the Week

Full disclosure: The first musical I saw on Broadway (1970) was Stephen Sondheim’s Company. (Quite the trip – his new show, Follies, had recently opened, and we saw that, too!) I am an admitted Sondheim fan, and even if I’m not always wild about some of the later shows, I remain in awe of his ability to make the most out of the English vocabulary when he’s penning the lyrics.

So, it’s probably no surprise that my Public TV Pick of the Week is the Great Performances production of Company. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/shows/company/index.html (In most areas, Wednesday at 9 p.m.)


Two season ago, Company was revived on Broadway and won the Tony last year for Best Musical Revival. This production was taped a few months ago. It may be a bit jarring for traditional musical comedy purists – particularly those who have experienced other productions of Company – to watch this stark production, in which all the actors play instruments, forming the orchestra in-between their solos. All dressed in black and white cocktail party attire, they slip in and out of scenes unobtrusively. Performed in three-quarter, the camera work manages to capture the action far better than I might have expected. And, given the fact that this show isn’t a massive spectacle like “Phantom,” for example, the tight camera work and spare staging doesn’t really disappoint.

But that’s the technical side of the production – what I wanted to know when previewing this was if the musical I saw in 1970 would hold up 38 years later. It does.


The lyrics are still as sharp, incisive, and introspective as they were before, and while some of the scenes leading into them are a bit dated, when one thinks of the period in which it was written, it’s astounding how cutting-edge Sondheim (at a relatively young age) was. (For more on Sondheim visit http://www.sondheim.com)

In fact, for me, Company was far more relevant now than it was to a 19-year-old young woman. Back then I didn’t have any of “those good and crazy people, my married friends.” No one was married – or planned to be soon. It wasn’t a world of couples, where one felt odd about being the un-coupled one. It was a world of groups, and we were young and carefree. The “Ladies Who Lunch” were our mothers or sophisticates we didn’t know. Divorce was far from our idealistic young minds and unlike today, had touched relatively few of us directly.

Company begins at Bobby’s 35th birthday party, given for him by his unmarried friends – all of whom want him to be married too (and Bobby claims he’s ready – sort of). Yet, most of their relationships aren’t without their flaws, which Bobby observes. The question is, after seeing this – the ups and downs – what does he really want for himself?

Time changes a lot of things. I “know” all of Bobby’s friends now. Sophisticated Joanne. Sharp, critical Sarah. Kind and loving Paul, and manic Amy, who fears marriage will change her life. I know them all and I am a bit of most of them myself. Sometimes, I am even a “lady who lunches” (and enjoy every minute of it!) And, for many years as the un-coupled, like Bobby, I could connect to his quest for the right relationship. When he sings “Somebody hold me too close, somebody hurt me too deep. Somebody sit in my chair and ruin my sleep and make me aware of being alive,” I agree and can resonate with those lyrics that describe all the contradictions of relationships, including mine.
Company may not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me. And if you like Broadway musicals, Stephen Sondheim, masterful lyrics and something to think about after the set it off, you might like it, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Getting Ready to Cook!

Rick is coming home tonight, and I know he won't feel like eating out! So, I'm pulling together a lovely dinner for tomorrow and I want to share it with you!

No, I won't be baking a cake -- but my! You can tell my culinary industriousness started at an early age! Not to mention a passion for squirting things out of tubes! (These days it tends to be more paint than frosting -- but wait, what about that holiday cookie decorating?!)

These are two of my no-fails. The first was served to me at friend's Dick and Cheryl's home. Dick got the original of this recipe from a TV cook, and it became a favorite because Rick is a pork fan!

I have made modifications…I use the glaze (chilled) as an alternative to cranberry sauce at the holidays. I also prep the roast a little differently.

Pork Roast with Cranberry Glaze

Glaze
1 (16-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
1 t. grated orange rind, optional, but recommended
2/3 cup orange juice (I sometimes use a tad less if making as cranberry sauce)
2 t. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. allspice
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cloves
1 c. chopped pecans (more than original recipe)
1/4 c. dried cranberries

Combine cranberry sauce, orange rind and juice, vinegar, seasonings and cranberries and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes. Add pecans.

Roast

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rub pork tenderloin (appx. 1 to 1 1/2 pound) with olive oil, salt/pepper (I like lemon pepper) and chopped rosemary. Place in hot skillet and sear on all sides to help seal in the juices.

Transfer to a rack in a lightly greased, shallow roasting pan. (The rack probably isn't necessary -- I just like the drippings to fall. There aren't a lot, but it "feels" better.)

Bake 40 minutes (or 160 degrees) -- time will vary based on size of roast.
Baste with half of cranberry mixture.
Slice and serve with remaining sauce or use as a dipping sauce.

(If you want to use the sauce as just cranberries -- for example, with turkey -- I recommend making it and then chilling overnight. It pulls together nicely. It's not like a jelly or a relish. It's great the next day on pork or turkey sandwiches.)

Toasty Roasty Tomatoes

Halve Roma tomatoes. Remove seeds/core. Place open-side up on baking sheet (parchment or silpat recommended) and sprinkle salt and pepper over halves.

Drizzle about one capful of olive oil over halves (one capful does about five tomatoes/ten halves.)

Combine favorite dried herbs – (basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, Herbs de Provence) as you like.
Mix what you think you need. (You can always go back and do more.)

Sprinkle herbs into tomato “boat.” Optional: minced garlic or bread crumbs.

Bake at 375 / approximately 40 minutes. (They should look roasted, a little dark and soft, but not burned.)

Serve as a side, with brown rice, in pasta sauces, or scoop out of skin and spread on crostini. (The kid who always avoided tomatoes fell in love with this when scooped out and used as a spread!)

This dinner will probably be accompanied by roasted fennel, too. We may stick to something safe for dessert that won't tempt the cook!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beyond the Snapshot

I don’t know if you’ve visited Jane Rosemont’s link over on this page under “Sites I Like.” If you have, you may have clicked on her “Beyond the Snapshot and Off the Beaten Path” Tuscany 2008 Photographic Workshop.

I’m thrilled to give this talented photographer a plug for enrollment in this great experience and encourage anyone who would enjoy a delightful learning experience in a beautiful environment to consider signing up.

c. Jane Rosemont

Imagine shooting images like this – or the others Jane has on her site. What subject matter! Seeing amazing medieval and Renaissance architecture. Stopping at great little restaurants or grabbing a snack for a quick break while shooting at a market… wouldn’t you like to have access to structures normally closed to the public?

Jane will focus on design sense and a particular assignment, but you’ll have more than a few opportunities to “do your own thing.” And, in addition to shooting, you’l have time for wine tasting, shopping, eating, and exploring the amazing birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

And let me add one more thing – I’ve taken Soul Collage and Shrine-making classes from her and had the pleasure of selling side-by-side with her at art shows. She’s so much fun, you can count on the event itself being a blast. (And it won’t hurt that Michael deMeng is also at Cortona and Osai at that time!)

Well, there’s much more on her site, so I don’t want to stop you from visiting! Check it out!


***


My weekend will combine finishing Rick's Valentine Book (a poetry/photo yearbook) and welcoming him home late Saturday night. I'm still on the hunt for the newest Somerset Legacy with Beth McWilliams' cover (Beth's blog over at the right is "Doors are Everywhere.") She had a drawing for one of her beautiful valentine tags featured earlier on my blog and I was a lucky winner! It arrived Tuesday after a long, hard day and what a treat! I'm still trying to find that and the newest Artful Blogging. I may have to cybershop.


Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a couple of things I've been looking at lately in my world -- the tulip bulbs I bought last week that are finally coming into bloom and the Marmelade Gypsy doing what my boy does best -- investigate plant life! (Actually, sleeping is his best thing; this is maybe second- or third-best!)

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One World, One Heart Congratulations!

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all!

ATC, "True Love"

Congratulations Garden Goose!
You are the winner of my One World, One Heart blog drawing!

This is Garden Goose's blog: http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/
Thanks, Lisa OceanDreamer for hosting! I'll put more on the site later, but this is my first chance to put anything on!
And Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jeanie's Public TV Pick of the Week

In light of the winter weather that seems to control my life, despite my efforts to buck up, I thought I'd highlight an upcoming PBS program on Arctic Bears on "Nature." (Most areas it will Sunday, March 17, at 8 p.m.)

Polar bears are living on borrowed time. Did you know they are descended from grizzlies? I didn't. They evolved to live and hunt on the frozen Arctic ice, eating a specialized diet of seal meat.

But the winters are increasingly warmer, the ice is disappearing and raising a family has become a more difficult proposition.

Grizzlies, on the other hand, are masters at living off the land. As the two worlds meet, are the polar bears fated to become grizzlies once again?

As always, Nature offers astounding production values, and frankly when it comes to the "cute" factor, you can't beat baby polar bears!

For a video preview visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/arcticbears/index.html

On another note, thanks to all who have entered my One World, One Heart drawing! I'll be picking tomorrow and in touch with the winner!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Little Nippy!

It's a tad nippy here in Michigan -- snowing again and very cold. I'm glad I have my fleecy mitts!

Haven't posted any art for awhile (and haven't had time to do much). But, since I'm in the mood for thinking about wishes and lovely things, thought I'd put these two fairy children up for fun!

Finally, thanks to all who have visited my blog for the drawing and I'm so pleased some of you have been back! I look forward to spending time on many of your blogs in the future weeks!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday Wine!

One of my great pleasures is participating in a wine tasting group that meets every two or three months and samples wines! The expert in this group is Dick, who has taken a number of classes. For each session he picks a theme -- it generally is a region (we went through much of Italy last year and Washington State a few months ago). This time it was the Wines of Spain -- and it was our turn to host!

Step one -- plan dinner. After bagging my initial plan of making tapas (which was getting totally out of control!) I settled on herbed shrimp and sausages on skewers for the main dish, with orzo with dried fruits. Others contributed salad, dessert (to die for), bread and cheese for the tasting table, and Dick brought the wine!

Step two -- fill the house with flowers. (It was sub-zero... we needed spring!)

Step three -- prepare the table for the tasting, with glasses, plates and get ready for the cheese and bread to arrive with the guests!

Step four -- clean house!

Step five -- Make sure that Rick has a spot to play his guitar! (As a bonus, my Rick offered several Spanish tunes on the guitar!

Step six -- Enjoy wine with friends, followed by dinner!

Needless to say a good time was had by all -- this is an event that gets livelier by the taste! The raves went from "Better than vinegar" to "This is my all-time favorite!" Here are some of my favorites!

OCHOA, Bodegas Ochoa, Navarra Region 2004 -- this is a white, with a blend of 70% Viura grapes and 30% Chardonnay. I'm not generally fond of Chardonnay, but this was divine! Clean, crisp, not overly sweet...the kind of wine one enjoys on a hot summer day! (Or with anything else yummy and light, I might add!) ($12 -- unbelievably good deal!)

Marques de Caceres Rioja reserva 2001 (DOCa, Rioja Region -- 85% Tempranillo, 15 Graciano and Mazuelo. This was a deep red -- you can just salivate thinking of it with aged cheese, strong meats, and hearty dishes. Dick said it's aged in French oak for 22 months and two years in the bottle. It was fabulous. ($22 -- worth it, and $15 is generally my ceiling.)
Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza 2004 (DOCa), Rioja Region -- 85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta and Graciano (slight difference here and the one before). This was awfully good, too but I think Rick and I preferred the red above. Still, can't beat the price -- $12.

The other three were also good, but I'll just put title and price here, in case you're interested...

  • White Rioja, Marques de Cacersa, Rioja region 2006 ($7) -- dryer than the first white.
  • Legado Munoz, Tempranillo 2006, Castilla Region ($10) (I wrote "very pleasant" and someone called it a "tooth stainer."
  • Callejo, 2005, Ribera Del Duero region ($19) Rick said it was worth every penny and called it "serious"; I wrote "not my favorite."

The best part -- good friends and a good time! The perfect way to spend the coldest day of the year!

Herbed Shrimp

  • Deveined, peeled shrimp with tails
  • Olive Oil (as much as you need)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Your favorite herbs -- I used oregano, basil and thyme with some red pepper flakes

Marinate for an hour or so and cook on medium to med-high heat in a skillet with additional oil if the marinade isn't enough (cook in batches, so they all get done evenly). Put a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice over each batch and remove from heat. Squirt again to make sure juice gets on them all.

Put on skewers. Can be served cool or warmed up (but don't overwarm them unless you undercook the shrimp -- nothing's worse than overdone shrimp! You can skewer with proscuitto, grape tomatoes or medallions of chicken sausage (pan cooked -- I used Trader Joe's spicy and it was a nice combo).

I served with orzo. When boiling the water, I put in about 1/4 cup of golden raisins, 1/4 of dried cranberries and spiced dried mangoes, and some orange zest. (I used 2 c. of orzo for this quantity, but you can eyeball it.) When done, squirt some OJ on the orzo and if desired add minced candied ginger. Nice mix of sweet and kicky!

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