Monday, December 31, 2018

A 2018 Recap in (Mostly) Photos

The end of the year -- here's a look in mostly photos of some of the highlights. Don't worry, I didn't include them all!

January -- Much of this cold month was spent hibernating, reading and de-decorating. We enjoyed a trip to London, Ontario to see friend Suzanne, celebrate late Christmas and see the National Theatre Live production of one of my favorite Sondehim musicals, "Follies." And then there was this cardinal, my favorite photo of the month!

February -- More hibernating and art. Our Baby Grand turns one!

March -- A slow month! But the weather begins to look up (even though it seemed it would never be warm again) and ditch walks bring visits with the deer!

And I did enjoy a fun visit to Chelsea, Michigan to lunch with blogger Mae from Mae's Food. It was good to see the sun again!

April -- Our friend Larry Stone received a well-deserved alumni award from MSU and theatre department chair Kirk Domer and I take Larry over to the U's fabulous scene shop for a private tour.

Ditch water is fully open and Harry returns.

And Southern Exposure classes begin with the HUGE sun face (which is so huge, I can't mount it on anything so it leans against the house looking very cool!

May -- I begin painting more -- practice makes better!

And, it's spring! Time for more Southern Exposure visits and projects, including this fun little planter!

June -- A trip to Maryland to see Rick's aunt and a great reunion with my college theatre friend, Patty kicks off the month.

My former "work brother," Tim, whom I've known since my first days in TV, retires and his party is a great reunion of old friends.

Summer Circle Theatre productions run through the month and trips to the lake begin!

July -- After a LONG overdue wait, our second Baby Grand is born (becoming the Little Little Guy and elevating his brother to Little Big Guy!).

We spent some time waiting at Sand Lake with Rick's cousins and aunt Carol which made the wait a little easier!

After that, loads of time at the lake.

Art camp begins, bringing with it loads of good fun and great sunsets!

August -- My lip cancer returns and my tendon in my foot ruptures (although we don't know that at the time). I celebrate my birthday at the Northern Michigan Asylum, where my great grandfather spent the last 13 years of his life -- part of my genealogical journey.

Art camp continues and we go on a healing quest! Loads of time at the lake, art camp continued and those sunsets didn't stop!

September -- My lip begins to heal after the chemo; the foot, not so much.

My friend Judy hosts a belated birthday lunch with friends Kate and Jane.

Ditch walks continue as best they can. Southern Exposure kicks off a fall season and we close the cottage for the season.

October -- Paris and England, the trip of a lifetime. The Klimt experience at Atelier des Lumieres was the hit of that city, along with seeing my old friend Jerry, blogger Peter of Peter's Paris and Tara Bradford Holmes, former blogger and instagrammer.

England. Biggest sigh. Meeting and discovering London with our wonderful hosts, blogger Jenny Woolf and her husband T. The hitting it on our own, meeting up with our friend and longtime PBS pal Joan and connecting with Canadian friend Suzanne for Sondheim's "Company."  Then it was on to Windsor (St. George's Chapel), Oxford (Morse country), Bath and a day trip to the Cotswolds (below). And there is MUCH more of all that to come here on the Gypsy in the new year!

November -- Let the season begin! There was the attempt to deal with the worsened foot issue, recovering from the trip and a successful art sale.

The holiday season kicked off with the Greens Market and friends Jan, Kate and I enjoyed the last of the season at Southern Exposure.

At the end of the month, our friend Judy hosted a Friendsgiving dinner which was great fun!

December -- One of the highlights of this month was a cooking class with Chef Geoff Russell (if you are in the mid-Michigan area, his winter season begins January 13. Check it out here.)

Then on to holiday festivities. And a visit with this little guy!

So, onward to 2019. We'll celebrate the New Year's Eve afternoon with our Cork Popping friends and spend the evening listening and dancing to the wonderful blues band Root Doctor on the Michgian Princess riverboat, again with friends.

And someone will be looking out for her New Year's snack! Here's lookin' at you, Kid!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cooking Class with Geoff Russell

Before we do a couple of year end posts and head back to England on the Marmelade Gypsy, I wanted to write about one other great thing I did to wrap up 2018. It was to attend a holiday cooking class with Chef Geoff Russell.

Geoff is an area chef who had rich culinary experience . He has started offering small cooking demos and tastings in a home setting here in Lansing, Michigan. I loved how it worked -- we didn't do the hands-on. Instead, we sat at the counter while Geoff cooked and explained his recipes and techniques as we peppered him with questions. The class included the recipes for all the dishes prepared, which I covered with notes!

We were greeted first with a Wassail cocktail, perfect for the season. Then we joined Geoff in the kitchen as he prepared Rillettes, a savory appetizer of braised dark meat and cornichons on crostini.

He then went on to prepare a delicious mincemeat Bakewell tart, a riff on the original tart recipe with homemade mincemeat. (True confession -- I had never tried mincemeat before; I thought it sounded terrible. I cannot wait to make this one myself! All that great fruit was delicious!)

It was fun watching him make the frangipani and assemble the tart. And oh, so good when done!

He showed us how to do turkey breast sous vide, a rolled breast cooked at a constant internal temperature for rather awhile in a special machine. I don't know that I'll do this with the machine but learning the rolled technique was good.  And when it was done, it sliced like a dream.

He also showed us how to cut a chicken without destroying it.

(I asked how many chickens were mutilated in his learning attempts and he said "many." I can see why!)

The new potato dish was fascinating. They are boiled with an enormous amount of salt in the pan and water barely covering. When done, the pan looked like this... (it cleans easily, it's just salt.)

...and the potatoes like this.

And after he added some oil and spices and served with the rest of our meal later, they were delicious and surprisingly, not too salty. (Potatoes always require more salt than you think!)

But my favorite dish was the massaged kale salad. I have never been a fan of kale. That changed big time!

This salad requires way more kale than you think it does! After it's washed and dried, it's finely minced (rather like the parsley in tabouli) and then you get in with both hands and massage the heck out of it with olive oil and salt to tenderize it. (Maybe that's the problem. I never had tender kale.)

Then he added wonderful ingredients -- blue cheese, toasted walnuts and baked grapes which were succulent and sweet. The it was tossed with a mustard/shallot vinaigrette.

It was the best thing ever (and I've made it twice since.) And then, the big reveal!

Isn't that a gorgeous platter? And I can tell you, that glorious feast tasted as good as it looked!

The table was beautifully set and the food was just delicious. The carrots sweet, the turkey tender and the potatoes perfectly seasoned.

The dessert was a sweet wrap up.

And our little group of happy learners were delighted!

I learned a lot at this class, including many cooking tips and loads of info on food science, preparation and just how things "work" together.  I hope to take more of Geoff's winter series, which includes five sessions on the tastes -- sweet, sour, bitter, tart and unami. If you are in the area, check them out here. The classes were about three hours altogether with dining. The winter ones include tastings as well, detailed in the website descriptions. You can check it out HERE.

Sharing this week with:  Dishing It and Digging It    /    Pink Saturday     /   Let's Keep In Touch    

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Wrap!

Time to wrap up Christmas -- or at least the first few of celebrations!

I've been off the grid for about a week and will be catching up with you soon. This is the reason why! Triple celebrations!

Our first was with the kids. That started the Friday before and wrapped on Christmas Eve morning.

Of course there was lots of playing but one of the best things was getting the first Christmas tree for the Baby Grands and their parents!

This was Little Big Guy's first tree. I'm not sure he "got" the tree lot nearly so much as he got into the cookies they had inside.

And the pretty decorations, too!

Then it was home to set it up and decorate!

Which, I must add, he thought was pretty cool. (Most all the decorations stayed on the tree too, except for the occasional removal of a little bi-plane that he really liked!)

We had a lovely "Christmas Eve" dinner...

Chef's assistant helped with the salad!

Of course, everyone had Christmas crackers and crowns.

No one was omitted from the festivities (but all choking hazards were quickly removed!)

Then, the annual decorating of Christmas cookies!

And soon it was bedtime. Or, Rockin' around the Christmas Tree.

And snuggling with Grandpa.

The next morning was "Christmas!" There was much opening of presents and lots of happy faces, but the one having the most fun was the Little Big Guy.

But the Little Little Guy seemed to be having a little awe and wonder, too!

 The children were  nestled all snug in their beds. So were the adults! More festivities await!

The next day, we had breakfast with Greg, who is leaving soon for a new life in L.A.

Then home to "real" Christmas Eve dinner at Rick's. Steaks on the grill, a great dinner and holiday light looking, too!

I loved Rick's tree this year. The easiest we ever found!

Christmas Day brought dinner at my house. When I got back from Rick's I realized that Lizzie-the-Cat, whom I didn't think could even jump as high as the counter, apparently found her Christmas gift and figured she wasn't going to wait for me to get home to open it!

I got the table all set for our guests. Check out the wonderful tablecloth! I was wanting a vintage Christmas tablecloth and contacted every blogger's favorite antique dealer, Rita of Panopoly.

She came up with this beauty (and another -- next year!) and I love it! It looked perfect with mom's silver, crystal and Christmas Spode!

I love the detail on the edges. Thanks, Rita!

 Our guests arrived for Christmas dinner. A little prosecco started the evening, then more Christmas crackers, shrimp and grits, kale salad and a peppermint stick ice cream pie inspired by Jenna's recipe right HERE. (I skipped the cool whip and used more crushed oreos on the top. It was YUM!)

There were more celebrations to come -- a visit from my friend Jerry from Paris and gatherings yet to be this season. But I leave you with a photo of my second-oldest Christmas decoration, a vintage nativity. In the first photo we have of this, I was about three.

And, with my favorite photo of the season.

Let the festivities continue and the memories remain.

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