Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cooking with Mark

I don't know if most people my age don't celebrate Sweetest Day or if it's just one holiday that I pass by, but when my cousin Mark said he was making a Sweetest Day gift for his sweetest Katie, I had to get pictures.
And actually, it's a terrific recipe! Mark decided to make frozen chocolate-covered banana bites.
First up was toasting the coconut and melting 12 oz. of chocolate (with 2 T. veggie oil).
He also got out a selection of additional toppings -- sprinkles, heath bars, graham crackers and pretzels.
Then he cut several bananas into half-inch slices.
After the chocolate has cooled about 15 minutes, he dipped each banana slice into the chocolate...
And then into one of the toppings and set it on a cookie sheet.
A word to the wise -- this isn't exactly the neatest and tidiest project.
Gloves would have helped, although we did discover part way into it, that using a fork or a couple of spoons for the dipping was a good idea!
When done, pop the tray into the freezer for several hours...
...and prepare a lovely box, separating layers with waxed paper.
They were delightful, delicious, delovely and Katie loved them! Oh, and there were plenty of folks around to take care of the leftover chocolate!
Try them! I think they'd be good with Butterscotch chips, too!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Road Trip to Cleveland!

My family lives in the Cleveland area. Being an only kid, my cousins were my surrogate siblings as we spent every summer together. It had been a long time since I visited and now that I had time to spend a bit more time with everyone, I hit the road! First stop, Ann Arbor!
I was connecting with blogger Vicki of I Need Orange. We'd never met, so over tea and scones at Zingermann's we connected for the first time. And like all blogger meetings, it was delightful! (And delicious, too!)
Then on to Cleveland. First stop, cousin Patty. Patty is a terrific painter -- the one person in my immediate family with a gift -- self taught and quite amazing. After years of not painting or drawing, which she did a lot as a child, she started painting again.
Her birds and animals are my favorites -- I can't wait to see how this one turns out!
Then it was on to Chagrin Falls and cousin Mutty and her family. There were lots of good talks, good dining and lots of pet fun.
We also mostly observed as Mark prepared a Sweetest Day gift for his Katie, whom I would meet later.
I'll do a separate post on this one -- it's a good, fun treat and easy to make. Reviews of the finished project were excellent!
There was time for shopping (which I'll cover in a separate post) and enough time to have a really good visit with my friend Jane who moved back to Cleveland several years ago to be nearer her aging parents. In a great irony of life, her parents live across from Cousin David! We ate at Luna in Cleveland Heights and I give it high marks!
Then it was over to Beachwood, another east side Cleveland suburb. David's birthday was a big part of the reason I went to Cleveland now. We had a jolly family celebration -- presents and a great dinner with David's famous and award-winning chili and cake.
(The candles are a combination of numbers to get the right age!)
Even Herbie the dog was having fun!
I had the chance to meet see the "next generation" of young men and their women -- here is Joe and Angie...
...and Mark and Katie.
Of course there were shopping trips (another post on my favorite shop soon!).
...a look a holiday decorations...
and what was, for me, a delightful spotting of deer in David's yard!
He tells me that when you have a garden, these aren't nearly the welcome, pastoral guests I might think...
But that's OK with me. I don't see deer often and they were a welcome sight!
We saw one whole flock one evening (when my camera wasn't handy) and two friendly does the next morning.
It was autumn and lovely. Even though most days were rainy or cloudy, I still got a bit of color.
And I loved it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn Walk

I really hope you aren't all sick to death of photos of autumn, herons and egrets.
You see, I just can't stop taking pictures. This is one of the most beautiful autumns I can remember.
I put on the headphones (and they really DO make you walk faster) and do my time going around the large circular path.
At the Ditch, the colors don't seem to change all at once. It evolves, which makes every walk interesting.
The sunlight just seems to make every leaf glow.
And the water -- it looks absolutely magical.
I love watching Harry hunt for food. He is so focused, so determined.
There are actually two Harrys, but I don't know how to tell them apart, other than that one tends to be on the northern pond, the other a bit more south.
The egret tends to hang right in the middle (very unphotographable)...
...or near the reeds and weeds. (Equally tough to photograph).
It's so hard to catch a photo of them flying (that isn't totally blurred!). But I felt relatively good about this one, even if the focus is a little soft.
Of course, it's not just birds -- there are squirrels stuffing their faces...
...and playing "run up and down the tree."
The fauna is fabulous, but so is the flora, even those in a more muted palate!
There are lots of ducks. Is this a wood duck? He looks much different from the mallards.
And there are always other walkers. Sometimes we walk together, sometimes we watch together.
Someday I will get a great photo of Harry.
Till then, thanks for enjoying these with me.
I wish you could be walking this path...
...enjoying all this color and beauty. 
And my birds.
Winter will soon be here, Harry will head to a warmer climate. These beautiful leaves will make a crunchy carpet on the ground until they are covered by snow.
And believe me, I won't be ditching too much!

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