Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaBloPoMo Fail

So I didn't get a post up yesterday (and Thursday's was pre-scheduled.) And I've already backdated once (I won't tell you when...) So I've decided that since I'm only doing NaBloP for me, and I refuse to "cheat" that much, that I'm going to declare this a blogging "pulled muscle" and drop out of the race.

But don't worry. I intend to keep posting. I just am not going to beat myself up about enjoying my family instead of sitting at the computer. And that is all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am cooking, eating, and enjoying family, and I hope you are doing the same!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whew! Wednesday

I am in the middle of making nine pies (three pecan, three pumpkin, and three double-crust apple). From scratch. I cooked the pumpkin last week, and peeled the apples with my handy-dandy apple peeler. I am not reading anything today but recipes!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Pennsylvania "Filling"

I always have to laugh when I see the discussions that pop up around this time of year about whether that bread mixture that goes in the turkey is called "stuffing" or "dressing"! Because if you grew up where I did, the answer is "neither!" We did, however, (and I still do) accompany our Thanksgiving turkey with this very tasty "filling."

Pennsylvania Filling

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, go out and buy a loaf of the cheapest, most generic white bread you can find. (The proportions given here assume a one-pound loaf.) Shove it in the refrigerator to get good and stale without spoiling. (If you don't have extra refrigerator space, a cool cupboard will do.) Monday of Thanksgiving week, take the bread out of the fridge, trim the crusts, and cut into small cubes. Place the cubes in a good-sized bowl and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Leave the bowl sitting at room temperature and, a couple of times a day, gently toss the cubes so that they all dry out. (If you must cover the bowl, do so with a thin, loosely woven towel, so that the bread can continue to dry.)

The day before Thanksgiving, melt 1 to 1 1/2 sticks of butter and drizzle over the bread cubes, tossing repeatedly. Remind yourself that the filling is so delicious that it will be your loss if you taste all the bread cubes now.

Thanksgiving noontime (or about 1 1/2 hours before the turkey will be done) beat together 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk. Stir together with the bread cubes. Place in a greased casserole. I use a two quart flat casserole (about 8" square.) The next time you baste the turkey, squirt a couple of baster-fuls of broth/drippings onto the top pf the bread in the casserole. (You can, of course use a spoon! The object is for all of the filling to have a pretty brown broth tinge.) Bake at 350F for about one hour, until golden and puffy. Serve with gravy.

To be perfectly honest, I would be completely happy with just filling and gravy for Thanksgiving. Oh, and some sauerkraut. That PA Dutch side dish always appears on my Thanksgiving table, to the bewilderment of my husband and many of my children. But don't let that scare you away from the filling. It's GOOD!

Full disclosure -- Roger, who cooks the turkey, also makes his traditional seasoned crouton mixture to stuff the turkey. I like it just fine, but not for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Music

I'm already into the pre-prep for Thursday's dinner, so here are some links to Thanksgiving music.

Come, Ye Thankful People Come

Now Thank We all Our God -- on handbells
-- on organ
-- and sung (with an introductory riff)

And just for a bonus, a different tune, a cappella and in German.

Praise and Thanksgiving (words below)

1. Praise and thanksgiving,
Father, we offer,
For all things living
You have made good;
Harvest of sown fields,
Fruits of the orchard,
Hay from the mown fields,
blossom and wood.

2. Lord, bless the labour
We bring to serve you,
That with our neighbour
we may be fed.
Sowing or tilling,
We would work with you;
Harvesting, milling,
For daily bread.

3. Father, providing
Food for your children,
Your wisdom guiding
Teaches us share
One with another,
So that, rejoicing
With us, our brother
May know your care.

4. Then will your blessing
Reach every people;
Each one confessing
Your gracious hand.
When you are reigning
No one will hunger:
Your love sustaining
Fruitful the land.

And that's it for today; a tasty recipe tomorrow!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Since I moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in my twenties, and then to Michigan the fall before I turned 30, I still make a point of going "home" on a regular basis. Sometimes when I was still single I rode the bus, but since I've married and had kids it's been a driving visit. The quickest route (though not the cheapest or most scenic) is to head south on I-94/I-75 and then head east on the Ohio Turnpike. If you've never driven on the Turnpike, let me explain that on the entrance ramp you are issued a ticket stamped with the time and date, and the point of entry. When you exit this ticket is used to determine your toll, based (roughly) on the distance you have driven.

Many, even perhaps most, people get on at one city in Ohio and exit at another. But since my destination is Pennsylvania, my experience is different, since the Ohio Turnpike feeds directly into the Pennsylvania Turnpike (with similar toll policies). I don't take an exit, I merely pass through a toll plaza. (LOTR fans will appreciate that it's called Eastgate.) Then, for a distance of about 5 miles, I am in what my kids dubbed "no man's land." I've paid my Ohio toll (but I'm still in Ohio), I haven't yet hit the Pennsylvania toll plaza or even the state line, but there is literally nowhere to go but straight ahead, since there are no exits in this stretch. ("We cannot get out!") But since my destination lies a number of hours ahead in Pennsylvania, I don't want to exit. I keep going, cross the state line, stop at the Pennsylvania plaza, and eventually finish my trip.

All this is by way of introduction to the real point of this post, my feelings during this next week. Today we "pass" Christ the King Sunday, the endpoint of the liturgical year. Advent, the start of a new year,doesn't begin until next Sunday. So I often feel adrift in a calendar no-man's-land. True, there is Thanksgiving to celebrate, but it's not a liturgical holiday. (Black Friday, the secular celebration of consumption, is something I avoid if at all possible.) But there are no exits from the expressway of life in this world, so all I really need to do is "stay on the road", keep passing landmarks, and eventually I will get to my final goal!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I find it ironic that I actually have more of a post today than I did yesterday. I chose "sloppy Saturday" as a category so that I wouldn't have to think so hard on the weekend, but yesterday I thought and thought and came up with nothing, and today's post just fell into my lap...

For all of you married women out there, I'd love to have my curiosity satisfied on something: Do you still have your wedding dress? I have mine, hanging in a closet. I made it myself, of cotton dotted-swiss, and it's not in bad condition if you don't count the dead elastic in the sleeve cuffs and that one spot where a small child got at it with a magic marker. I wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons, but I simply washed and ironed it and hung it in an old dry-cleaner bag.

This came up because I was talking to a somewhat younger friend tonight, and she mentioned that she opened the box
in which the the cleaners "preserved" hers (satin and lace) and discovered that the plastic combs from her veil had leached color onto the sleeves. We couldn't decide if this was a tragedy, or just the nature of things..

I do know that it's not necessary to have a well-preserved dress to have a good marriage. But I wonder if it says anything about a family to know that if necessary I could produce four generations of wedding dresses -- my grandmother's (1911), my mother's (1948), mine (1981), and either Arwen's (2002) or Branwen's (2005). And I don't expect that any of these will have gone missing by the time Camilla or Lauren get married.

So does having five generations of wedding dresses make us stable? Or odd? Or quirky? Or just pack-rats? Opinions, please!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inane Rambling

It's Friday evening. I'm tired. I don't have a post idea. I started a "Seven Quick Takes" and deleted it. (I went and played games instead.) By rights this should be a "Sloppy Saturday" post, so maybe I'm just ahead of the game. Or maybe I'm that far behind.... Anyway, I am going to go and finish my novel now.

The End

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Daybook Again

Outside my window... it is chilly and damp. And dark. I can't believe I'm up this late, but then it's been dark since suppertime.

I am thinking... that I wish I knew where my choir notebook is. All the Christmas music is in there... and only 10 days until Advent.

I am thankful for...
people in choir who share their music with me when I show up for rehearsal and discover my notebook is not in my bag.

From the kitchen...
it was leftovers night. I am still cooking for more than two people, apparently.

I am wearing... my blue fleece bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, which was what I had on when I last did a daybook two weeks ago. But that was morning, and this is nearly bedtime. As soon as I finish this post.

I am creating...nothing right this minute. But I need to start Lauren's Christmas stocking very soon.

I am going... nowhere tomorrow. This will be the first time all week. I am excited! (Oh, wait; I just realized that two of the possible lurking places for the choir notebook require going to the church. Sigh.)

I am reading... catalogs (for Christmas ideas) and magazines (because the new issues just came) and books (10 checked out, 5 on request/hold) and blogs (because I have to keep up with all of you)..... It's a good thing I like to read. And let's not mention Twitter and Facebook.

I am hoping... that my turkey thaws before Thanksgiving. I moved it from the freezer to the refrigerator today, but if my track record is any indication I will need to hasten it along with water even so.

I am hearing... the refrigerator running, and my key-click, which I don't usually notice. Even the animals are asleep.

Around the house... the cat has knocked the miniature pumpkins off the table again. I would be more upset by this if it wasn't for the fact that when he's batting the pumpkins, he leaves the salt shakers and the toothpick holder alone.

A few plans for the rest of the week: make homemade pumpkin puree, and cook and mash the sweet potatoes for the casserole. The cooking countdown begins!

Words I'm pondering :" It
is eleven PM. Why am I not in bed??"

Here is a picture thought I am sharing....
just in case you haven't clicked over there yourself....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday -- 11/17/10

So, I am still plowing (OK, plodding) through The Little Book of String Theory. The author uses really creative example, and I ought to get it, but, well..... Maybe I will try to read it over once I finish, to see if it makes more sense the second time through. Or maybe I will assume it's like Till We Have Faces and I'm just somehow not equipped to understand.

My other current non-fiction reading is way more fun: When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Dr Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein. Several of Arwen's commenters recommended it, and since my library had it, I checked it out. Great stuff! (And the English geek in me is thrilled that the title has the "Oxford comma".) I need to confirm that Arwen hasn't bought a copy of this yet, and then I'll send it to her!

On the fiction front: more mind-candy. The Chocolate Pirate Plot by JoAnna Carl. To be immediately followed by The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert, and The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith (of Number One Ladies Detective Agency fame.) This is the latest in his Isabel Dalhousie series.

And now I'm going to stop blogging and read for the half-hour before dinner, because all of them are due back at the library two weeks from yesterday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Basic White Bread

A member of my ladies' Bibly study group was recently diagnosed with a severe egg allergy, and she has been avoiding bread, since apparently some of the commercial loaves have egg-derived ingredients. I'm going to give her a loaf of this and the recipe.

Basic White Bread (adapted from James Beard)

Sprinkle 1T active dry yeast over 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.) Stir in 2t. sugar or honey.

In a larger bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups warm water and 1 T salt. Slowly stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour. Once the yeast has bubbled and foamed, add the yeast mixture. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour.

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup flour on the counter top, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. With floured hands, knead the dough by pushing down and away with the heels of your hands. Fold the back of the dough over the front, turn the whole thing 1//4 turn (90 degrees) and repeat. Knead until the dough no longer feels sticky, adding more flour if needed, up to 1/2 cup additional. (This will take about 5 minutes.)

Pour a little oil (1 to 2 T.) into the mixing bowl, form the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl, turning it over so that all sides are coated with oil. Set in a warm place to rise. (Our oven can be set to 100 degrees F., so we usually preheat it and turn it off. The only reason to cover a bowl of rising dough is to protect it from critters or drafts, which are not an issue in the oven.)

In 1 1/2 hours or so, check if the dough is risen by poking it with two fingers. If the dents stay, it's ready! Turn the dough out onto the counter (we don't wash it in between; add a tiny bit of flour if you need it for other things in the meantime) and knead again for a few minutes.

Allow the dough to rest on the counter while you grease the pan(s). This will make one large loaf in a 9 x 5 inch pan, or two smaller loaves in 8 x 4 pans. And if you have no bread pans, it will make a nice free-form loaf baked on a cookie sheet.. Next, form the dough into (a) smooth round or oval shape(s) and place in the pan(s). Allow to rise for about 45 minutes. Don't poke the dough this time; if it's obviously risen above the edge of the pans (or spread some on the cookie sheet) it's ready.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (If your oven tends to be slow or fast, adjust the temperature accordingly.) Bake the bread in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 50 minutes, checking after 35. It's done when it sounds hollow when you knock on the top. If the bottom is not yet golden but the loaf sounds hollow, place the bread directly on the oven rack (no pan) for about 5 minutes, but watch it carefully!

Cool the finished bread on a rack until you can't wait any longer. We like to brush ours with melted butter, which gives a slightly more tender crust. If you do cut into a hot loaf, cool the uneaten part cut-side down so that the rest of the loaf doesn't dry out.

This bread freezes well. We (actually Roger, who taught me to make bread) often make 18 loaves -- 3 triple batches -- in one day. We freeze it in half loaves, and often give it away, since "Dad's bread" toast is one of the things both Arwen and Branwen can eat in early pregnancy. We also cut a slice or two on the end of each half loaf before freezing, so that it can be popped into the toaster straight from the freezer if "thaw bread" doesn't make it to the top of the priority list!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Changed My Blog Header Again..

I finished a major project for choir today, and I thought I might write about that (since I usually do Musical Monday....)

But I'm just so gobsmacked (in an absolutely wonderful way) that I'm just going to send you over and let you read Arwen's post from today.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! (Also Whewwwwww!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sometimes Sundays are a Mixed Bag

So did you guys know that "a mixed bag" is actually a British hunting term? You might "bag a brace(pair) of pheasants," or if you shot a pheasant and a quail and a grouse, that would be a "mixed bag." Get it?

I got up early this morning (well, early for a Sunday, anyway) and made a cherry pie and a chicken pot-pie for Roger's birthday dinner. His birthday is actually tomorrow, but we celebrated today because it's more fun to have more than two people at a birthday party, and Branwen and her family were here.

Larry made his famous hash-browns for breakfast as a birthday treat, because most Sundays cooking breakfast is Roger's job. They were, as usual, awesome! Then choir sang at 11:30 mass, and unfortunately we were not in best form. Our best soprano AND main tenor had laryngitis and didn't come, some of us (me included) spaced out on just how we had "arranged" the communion hymn, and I at least felt like we couldn't really hear each other. Kind of like a big blob of fog had descended on our ears. The family assures me it "wasn't that bad," but it wasn't that good, either.

While we were waiting for the pot-pie to bake we played some bridge, which was somewhat interrupted because baby Lauren had gas and needed to be held. And then we had dinner and pie, and Branwen's family went home. And now I'm sitting at my computer writing a post, and while I'm not sure what all I have in the "bag" that's today, I know it's certainly mixed! See you all here tomorrow......

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sloppy Saturday -- Ooooooops!

So all day Saturday I am/have been/did totally enjoying having Branwen and her family here. Making beanbags and hairbows, playing computer games with the boys and bridge with the grownups (with some gurgles and such contributed by Lauren.) Doing all of that? Yes. Writing an actual blog post? Um, not so much.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Seven Quick Links Friday

Yesterday's post was so long I had no time for links, so today instead of writing quick takes I'm going to link them.

1. My longtime friend Ernesto (at our age we don't mention "old" friends...) posted a video on his blog showing Pope Benedict with the world's largest thurible. Be sure to watch well into the video, both to see how they swing it and for the expressions on the pope's face.

2. Brandon's friend Andy has a blog which I find hilarious, and not just because I know him. Check out his take on the subject of caffeine overdose. (Yes, I know he's referencing a sad story. Think of this as a Darwin Award, if you must.)

3. I missed this yesterday, but it made me cry today.

4. And if you haven't tried this game yet, be warned that I find it addictive.

5. If you love tea as much as I do, this site is a must! (Kate, I'm looking at you...) It makes me sad that most of the American public only knows Lipton, or at best blends and flavored teas. I saw a menu from "high tea" at a fancy hotel, and while the choices were a step up from, say, Bob Evans, I drink better tea at home every day. Admittedly, without the fancy sandwiches......

6. If you're ever stumped doing word games, this one's for you. But I think probably using it while playing "Words with Friends" qualifies as tacky.

7. And if you've ever wanted to try Gregorian chant for yourself, take a look at this. Kind of like "Sing Along with Mitch" for chant geeks. (And a couple of bonus links in case you're too young to know what I'm taking about.)

Seven Quick Takes is , as usual, hosted by Jen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A LONG Book Meme

Lindsay did this, and I liked it, so I thought I'd join in...

1. Favorite childhood book?
For preschool age, The Jolly Jumping Man (a Golden Book). Later, Eight Cousins, by Alcott. I almost swooned with joy when I found Rose in Bloom, the sequel.

2. What are you reading right now?
A Deadly Yarn
. Also, I am persevering with the Little Book of String Theory. So far I'm following it.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
(Checks library site...). The Chocolate Pirate Plot, Kilt Dead -- which are in; Dangerous to Know -- for which I'm number 3 on the list; and in the statewide system, In the Company of Others, the newest Jan Karon. I'm a sucker for online requests!

4. Bad book habit?
Reading in the shower. I try to limit it to books I own, but.......

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nine in total -- four yarn shop mysteries, two Constable Evans, String Theory, a compendium of knitting stitches, and a short story collection that will probably go back unread.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No! I have seventy-two-skillion things I'd prefer to do with my money. And if you want to buy me a present, "real" books are fine. Even used. I have a list...

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
Usually one fiction and one non-fiction, not counting any specific studying I may be doing.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No. I may be reading less print since I started reading blogs, but that was a long time ago.......

9. Least favorite book you read this year?
The Grave Gourmet. It looked interesting enough that I actually requested it, but UGH! Took it back after less than two chapters. This is RARE.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
No clue. Nothing jumps out at me, so I'm guessing I read a lot of mind candy.....

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Aside from my "one non-fiction" mentioned above, I have a discipline of "educational reading", where I go through something I think I ought to read which would never otherwise make it to the top of the pile. Ten to twenty minutes four or five times a week. I've done some good stuff this way.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Light, unfortunately. Mysteries (with or without romance). Milder sci fi and fantasy. Older (in terms of when it was written) young adult.

13. Can you read on the bus?
No bus, no car, no nothin'. I come very close to envying my children because reading while traveling doesn't make them queasy. (I have read on planes, but that's because the discomfort of reading while moving is less than the discomfort of thinking about where I actually am...)

14. Favorite place to read?
My end of the couch. Our new couch has recliners in both ends, and the left side is mine. (Now if I could just persuade the dog to respect that.)

15. What is your policy on book lending?
Lend, but write it down! Unless we have duplicates, which is not as rare as you might think.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Only catalogs. I broke this habit 40+ years ago.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Rarely. Roger does it much more, which is sometimes interesting and sometimes distracting.

18. Not even with text books?
I cracked my last textbook in 1973. My Bible study guides have spaces where you're intended to write.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
Um, the only one I know? Although it makes me ridiculously happy if I can follow a short passage in French or Greek.

20. What makes you love a book?
When something resonates with me. It can vary from book to book.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I think it's a good "fit" for the person I'm recommending to. I rarely make blanket recommendations.

22. Favorite genre?
See number 12.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Classic light fiction. Austen, Bronte(s), re-reading Alcott.

24. Favorite biography?
Can't think of one.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic by Reneau Peurifoy. This one saved my life, or at least my sanity.

26. Favorite cookbook?
The More-with-Less Cookbook. Ask my kids!

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas. Kelson won an autographed copy by being the only one in his HS classroom who could immediately identify who Thomas is. Pathetic.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Not food, drink. Tea with sugar, no cream, no lemon.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
If a critic is reading it, it's probably not my style.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think you should always be honest, but I also think that you should always even out things. If you tell me what’s bad about a book, I fully expect to hear what’s good about it as well. (This is Lindsay's answer. I agree completely.)

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Koine Greek. I know just enough to fumble around in the New Testament. I'd love to be fluent.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Till We Have Faces. I read it through four or five times one Lent, because I grasp that it must make some point I need to understand, but I still don't "get" it. And I love everything else Lewis wrote.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
The Silmarillion
. The sentences are simple too long to make this anything but work for me.

35. Favorite poet?
Kipling. Or Robert Service. I'm a poetry lowbrow.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Five to ten. As low as two, and as high as twenty, but both of those are rare.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
As often as my reading "eyes are bigger than my stomach". But with online renewal, it's rare.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Samwise. I don't think it's any accident that I came out as him on a "which Tolkein character are you?" Facebook quiz.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Scrooge. Because he isn't, in the end.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
A stack of whatever series I'm hooked on at the time. New reads, re-reads, doesn't matter.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
However long I had the flu that one time. If I go 24 hours without reading time, I get withdrawal symptoms.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Not too many. I'll only stop if I feel the book is/could be damaging me in some way. But of course there are many I don't start for this reason.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Not much.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Emma. Because then I didn't have to read it.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Jane Eyre, the old one with George C. Scott. I love the book for the dialogue, and the movie turns three pages into two sentences as often as not. We'll see about the new version.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
A $50 gift card. I borrow rather than buy.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Only to see if I should bother.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Distraction. Got more interested in another book I was reading simultaneously. I have one like that right now....

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I was excited that moving let me organize the books, something I'd been meaning to get around to for years..

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep. I might want or need to reread them. Unless they belong to the library, of course.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
"Avoiding" is the wrong word for the Twilight books. "Reject outright."

52. Name a book that made you angry.
An Inconvenient Truth. Which I will never actually read.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Lord of the Rings. I avoided it for about 10 years, but then got it forced on me. And look what happened.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
A Wizard of Earthsea
. Rave reviews from friends, but "meh."

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Harry Potter

This post took longer than I expected, so there are no links. If it's not clear which book I'm referring to, pipe up in the comments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Word and Question 6


I'm leaving the word and question till last this time, or you'll know exactly where this is going. I couldn't believe it when I got the email telling me what they were -- I knew what this poem would be about instantly. The scansion and rhymes took a little longer...

When I was first married, I planted a garden
With cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and more.
The plot wasn't large, but the produce was tasty,
Much better than what I could get at the store.

But then we had kids, and a budget apartment
With nowhere for planting except in a pot,
And I thought "Later on, when our income is bigger,
We'll buy a big house, and I'll garden; why not?"

We did buy a house, and a garden was planted,
Much bigger, more varied, and harder to tend.
And with 4, 5, 6 kids, it just wasn't my focus
So we let it go back into grass, in the end.

Years passed, and kids grew -- no new garden was planted.
My intentions were good, but that road leads to....... Well,
All the children are grown, and we've moved to a new house
Which once had a garden -- it's easy to tell.

We've been here for a year, but my indolence tempts me
To internet surf, or crochet, or just read.
I've taken no action: No digging, no weeding,
No searching for trowels or packets of seed.

I'm content in my chair, but I have to admit it;
That patch in the back yard is calling to me.
I'm set in my ways, but I love fresh tomatoes --
Will there be a garden next summer? We'll see.

Word: Indolent (or indolence)
Question: When will your garden grow?

And don't forget to check out the links to the other participants over at Shredded Cheddar.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Tuna Turnovers

We had these for dinner tonight, and I love them! I only make half of what I used to "back in the day", and even that's actually too much. But I can't figure out how to cut a can of tuna in half.... (Well, I know they now make tiny "single-serve" pouches. But they cost way more per ounce than a can.) This recipe is adapted from my beloved More-With-Less Cookbook.

Tuna Turnovers

For the filling: Combine 1 5 oz. can tuna, drained; 1/2 cup shredded cheese; 1 small rib celery, finely chopped; 1 T. onion, minced; salt; and pepper. Stir in enough mayonnaise to moisten to about the consistency of tuna salad. Filling can be made early in the day and chilled, if desired.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For crust: Combine 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 t. baking powder, and 1/4 t. salt. Cut in (a fork works fine) 2 T shortening. Stir in 3/8 cup (6 T.) milk. Dump dough out onto the counter and knead lightly 15-20 times.

Roll out dough into about an 8" by 16" rectangle, and cut into 8 4-inch squares. Place an equal amount of the filling on each square, fold over, and seal by crimping with a fork. (I do triangles or rectangles depending on my mood and/or how neatly I've rolled out the dough.) Place sealed turnovers on a greased cookie sheet, and brush with melted butter or margarine. ( 2 T - 1/4 stick is probably enough, although I tend to use as much as twice that.) Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. (Don't worry if some of the filling oozes out; some members of my family think the slightly crisp oozy cheese/tuna is the best part.) Brush with any leftover butter.

The cookbook suggests that you "Serve with clear soup and green salad." I've never done anything fancier than throwing some raw vegetables on the side, but the serving suggestion would admittedly make a "nicer" meal. Any cheese is fine, although we rarely use anything but cheddar. And you could also use 1/2 cup finely diced chicken or ham instead of the tuna. The crust also would serve as a reasonable stand-in for any filling recipe that calls for canned crescent roll dough.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Musical Monday --

My brain is in low gear this evening, and I really have no idea what to post. I tried to find YouTube videos of the hymns I posted last week, but there was nothing with the quality that I really wanted...

Wait! I know! I've seen this several places, and enjoyed it every time I clicked on it. Hallelujah! I have a post!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Spiritual Sunday" -- Warning, I'm going to talk about religion!

As a non-Catholic who spends a lot of time in Catholic churches (since Roger and all the kids are Catholic, and I sing in the choir,) I also spend a fair amount of time wondering why Catholics -- whose doctrine claims that "the fullness of the faith subsists in the Catholic Church" -- mostly spend more time thinking about the pancake breakfast, or the school fundraiser, or landscaping the parish grounds, than they do about who God is and what He wants them to do. [There are notable counter-examples, both individuals and parishes, but I'm speaking of the general run of things.]

Even though since Vatican II personal Bible study has been not only allowed but actively encouraged, many more people show up for the card party than for the study group. And the ones who do show up mostly want to be told what the Bible says, rather than reading it and experiencing it for themselves. As a mainline Protestant turned Evangelical turned I-don't-know-what-the-heck-you'd-call-me-except-it-isn't-Catholic, this mystifies me. Why would somebody not want to hear God's voice?

All this by way of bringing up what I did this afternoon: went to an introductory session for a women's study group my parish is trying to start. They are planning on using the ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity Of Women) program, and personally, I find it awesome. But -- forty women showed up for the intro, and maybe eight signed up for more information. I'm one of them, because I believe I'm supposed to be. But -- two hours EVERY Sunday right after 11:30 mass? For two or three months? Do Catholics only study on Sundays? (Humor me ; I know the answer to that, and I'm just venting.)

Anyway, from everything I've seen and read, anybody who bothers to do the ENDOW program will gain a lot. I just wish I thought a lot of people will do it.......

(We now return to our regularly-scheduled inane ramblings.)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Sloppy Saturday -- This time you get a review

A couple of days ago on Facebook there was an item in my feed from's Facebook page. (I gave the girls e-gift certificates last year when we were moving and going out Christmas shopping was low on my priority list.) They were looking for bloggers "with an established following" to do a review and earn goodies (gift certificates, DVD's and such.) Apparently you all qualify as enough of a following, so Thank You, and here's the review:

I chose to review the Wusthof Grand Prix 4.5-inch utility knife. If you had asked me five years ago if I wanted a knife like this, I'd have said "no thanks." But I've changed my mind.

Please understand that I LOVE Wusthof knives. (Before I was married I worked in a restaurant for a couple of years, and I learned to appreciate good knives.) Roger and I got an adequate set of another, lesser brand as a wedding present, and they served us just fine for a good while. But when they started to show their age, Arwen and Bryan (who have Wusthof knives themselves) started to give them to us as presents. The 8-inch chef's knife. The 3.5-inch parer -- my everyday favorite. The 7-inch santoku. I learned that things had changed since my restaurant days, when molded handles were considered sub-standard. These handles hold up amazingly well, even in our somewhat chaotic kitchen. (Do too many cooks spoil the knives?.....)

Anyway, I have to admit that I was less than thrilled when we received this utility knife. Too long, I thought. Not the right shape for chopping. What will I use it for??

The answer, it turns out, is for slicing that perfect tomato without the marks you get from multiple cuts with a paring knife. For chopping that tiny bit of something that it's really overkill to get the chef's knife out for. For "perfectly" dividing one goodie between two grandchildren. I don't use it every day, but I wouldn't give it up!

As with all of the knives I've tried in the Wusthof Grand Prix line, the utility knife is well balanced, and holds an edge well, too. (I do know I'm lucky to have a husband who "does" the knives with multiple stones and a strop a couple of times a year.) But in between it takes maybe 30 seconds with a diamond hone to get it back to the point that it will cut through tomato skin without a hitch. In short, I like this knife very much.

If you're interested in a review opportunity like this sometime (or if you just want to go drool over the gorgeous kitchenware) you can go to's website, become a fan on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. (I'm struggling to get a workable link for Twitter, but you guys are smart, you can do it yourselves!)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Family Friday -- Quick Update

I'm struggling to get everything I need to do today done, so this will be brief. For those of you who have lost track, this is what my family is up to these days:

Roger and I are living with an empty nest, and busier than ever. Nobody told me that "no kids" didn't mean "more relaxed lifestyle."

Kelson is a freshman in college in Florida, where his sisters went, and loving it. He will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm sure the animals will be excited!

Tirienne is still living with Arwen and Bryan and going to culinary school. She has pretty much settled on pastry as her field. Nobody is surprised.

Brandon is almost done with his time in Duluth, and will be home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, due to a combination of moving time and accumulated leave. His new duty station is on an island on the Inside Passage in Alaska. He will love it there! (Actually, the weather is warmer than it is in Duluth.)

Miriel is living with some dear friends in Virginia and working as a research assistant to a constitutional law scholar at a non-profit in DC. This is all right up her alley, and will be much more fun for her now that she finally has a desk high enough to get her knees under. (I don't know if her predecessor was tiny, or just didn't mention it to anybody.)

Branwen and Larry are adjusting to life with three children. Judging by the number of adorable pink outfits Larry has bought for Lauren, I'd say he likes having a daughter! Daniel and Matthew continue to grow, and amaze us with their imaginations and abilities.

Arwen and Bryan continue to love their life, except when Bryan has to travel too much for business. Camilla is becoming quite the young lady, and Blaise's vocabulary is booming. He's not a baby any more! Which is good, because this family will be welcoming a new baby along about June. (I changed my header. Did anybody notice?!!) Six grandchildren will be wonderful!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Daybook -- On Thursday because that's just how I am....

Outside my window... fall is turning to winter. The leaves on the grape vine were bright yellow just a few days ago. Now they are brown and lying on the ground.

I am thinking... that NaBloPoMo is being slightly less challenging this year. Honestly, I think it's because I've been practicing my typing and now I can get the same amount of thoughts written in less time.

I am thankful for... the anticipated holiday season, with ALL the family here. And that there is money to buy gifts, and special food, and even enough to share. I am waiting anxiously for the parish "giving tree" to go up, so that I can decide what sort of tag to take this year. Baby? Homeless person? Teen?

From the kitchen... Lentil Sausage Soup and apple crisp for the Worship Commission meeting at church. Everybody on the committee is so busy that the only way we could find time to meet is by multi-tasking it with dinner. But I get to cook for 8 people again!

I am wearing... my blue fleece bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. I am admittedly a slow starter in the morning, but I'm usually showered by now. But I've gotten a lot done.... That's an excuse, isn't it? Please say its OK....

I am creating... blog posts all month. And a Christmas shopping list. I saw on a blog I read the author's goal to have her shopping done before Advent! I'd love to pull that off, and maybe next year if I set it as a goal I'll be able to. But this year it's encouraging me to get as much as I can manage out of the way.

I am the grocery store as soon as I'm dressed, and then to Worship Commission followed by choir practice. A busy evening.

I am reading... the books I mentioned yesterday. I am speeding through Evans Above, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to love the whole series. No progress on String Theory...

I am hoping... that it doesn't rain while I am grocery shopping. I hate carrying things into the house and having them drip.

I am hearing... the Celtic music Roger has playing as he works. I tend to need/want much less background music than he does. Which is good, because sound carries in this house (I'm in the kitchen, he's in the office at the end of the hall,) and we might have to turn it up to deafening levels to drown the other out.

Around the house... I did a complete dusting round on Saturday, and Roger put shrink-wrap plastic on all the windows. I haven't noticed a difference in temperature, but I'm sure I will in January. And we are supposed to have snow flurries tomorrow!

A few plans for the rest of the week: grandchildren this weekend! Arwen is going to The Blathering (a blogger get-together), so Bryan is bringing Camilla and Blaise to town.

Words I'm pondering : none, I guess. Which means I need to slow down a bit.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday -- 11/3/10

I actually just finished both a fiction and a non-fiction, so today I'll tell you what I just read, and what I just started. My current fiction is total mind-candy. The one I just finished is Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton. It's the second in a series about Kelly, a Colorado girl turned Washington DC CPA who gets called back to her little mountain hometown by her Aunt Helen's murder. While solving that (in the first volume, Knit One , Kill Two) , Kelly also gets hooked on knitting (surprise! ;-D ) with the group of women who frequent the yarn shop in her aunt's former farmhouse. Pretty standard mystery fare, and no real secret that by volume three Kelly will have given up the big city for yarn and the mountains. Fluff, but fun.

Just before I sat down to post this, I picked up Evans Above by Rhys Bowen. I've been enjoying her "Royal Spyness" series, and discovered this earlier series about Welsh constable Evan Evans. I'm hoping to read them straight through, although Bowen's website indicates that they're mostly out of print. I'm not surprised, since I'm reading this first volume in large-print format, which was the only way it is available in our local library system. If I find as I work through that some books in the series aren't available here at all, I'll try the state e-catalog.

On the non-fiction front, I just finished Theater Geek by Mickey Rapkin. I had enjoyed his Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Capella Glory, and thought I'd try this look at Stagedoor Manor, a famous (but not known to me) performing arts camp. Rapkin is an engaging storyteller, and if you can get past the culturally-obligatory "every young male interesting in acting is probably gay, and there are lots of them here" vibe (I rolled my eyes at least twice a chapter) this is a pleasant and informative read.

My next non-fiction... well, we'll see if I make it through. It's called The Little Book of String Theory, by Steven S. Gubser, and although my college minor was physics (major: math) I'm not sure that Gubser's attempt to simplify string theory is going to be successful. I've made it through the introduction -- which read a lot like the intro to a college textbook -- and I'm truly unsure wehther I will be able (or willing) to finish the rest. But for now, I'm going to try.

And today's burning (for me anyway) question: will blogging every day cause a serious reduction in my reading? Time will tell!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Herb Cheese Toasts

We had a semi-unexpected guest for dinner yesterday. He's a family friend, and Roger's golf buddy, and when they decided that yesterday (and the rest of the winter!) was going to be just too cold for golf, I suggested that Roger invite him to eat with us. After some schedule juggling, he determined that he could come.

Now yesterday's dinner plan was nothing fancy. Every so often Roger makes ENORMOUS pots of chili or spaghetti sauce, which we freeze. I was simply going to heat up a bag of sauce, and boil some angel hair. Simple and good. (Well, I did forget to mention the freshly-grated parmesan...) I don't know whether Roger was inspired by the sight of the cheese, or thought our dinner was "too plain for company", but he suggested I add these. No problem!

Herb Cheese Toasts

Cut slices of French or Italian bread to a uniform thickness. (I used half a baguette I had in the freezer and quickly thawed. You want the slices uniform so that they broil evenly.) Melt about 1/2 cup (one stick) butter or margarine for each half loaf of bread. Arrange slices on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle or brush with the butter. (I usually drizzle, and then turn them over and rub the tops in any that runs off. Brushing is neater but slower.) Sprinkle slices with grated parmesan or romano (I used 1/4 to 1/3 cup) and dried Italian herbs. (My jar contains oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and cracked rosemary.) Place under broiler until cheese bubbles and edges are browned. Serve hot.

WARNING: These are addictive. The three of us finished off a dozen plus slices along with our pasta!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Solemnity of All Saints, or NaBloPoMo begins

As I said on Friday, I'm going to give NaBloPoMo* a shot for another year. And since this is "Musical Monday", what better way to begin than with the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns of all time, William W. How's For All the Saints? The tune is Sine Nomine (which just means "without a name") and is by Ralph Vaughn Williams. You can hear the MIDI here.

1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
3. For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
4. For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
5. For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
6. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
7. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
8. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
9. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
10. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
11. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The site where I found the words says that verses 3,4, and 5 are usually omitted. I had never heard them before, but I like them. (Although I do think 13 verses are a bit long for most congregational singing these days, and the only anthem setting of this I've ever seen also skips 6, 9, and 10.) And they make the reference to the Te Deum Laudamus, which is just below, very obvious. I've bolded the relevant parts.

We praise Thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee and the Father everlasting.
To Thee all Angels:
to Thee the heavens and all the Powers therein.
To Thee the Cherubim and Seraphim cry with unceasing voice:
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Hosts.
The heavens and the earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.
Thee the glorious choir of the Apostles.
Thee the admirable company of the Prophets.
Thee the white-robed army of Martyrs praise.
Thee the Holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge.
The Father of infinite Majesty.
Thine adorable, true and only Son
Also the Holy Ghost the Paraclete.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou having taken upon Thee to deliver man
didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
Thou having overcome the sting of death
didst open to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God
in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants:
whom Thou has redeemed with Thy precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in glory everlasting.
Lord, save Thy people:
and bless Thine inheritance.
Govern them and lift them up forever.
Day by day we bless Thee.
And we praise Thy name forever:
and world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, this day to keep us without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord: have mercy on us.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us:
as we have hoped in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I hoped:
let me never be confounded.

And just to round out the "musical" part of this, here is the metrical version of the Te Deum, which may be familiar to some of you. The original German words are by Ignaz Franz, translated by Clarence A. Walworth, and the last verse was added by Hugh T. Henry. You can hear the MIDI of the tune here.

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Thou art King of glory, Christ:
Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
And to death a tributary:
First to break the bars of death,
Thou has opened Heaven to faith.

From Thy high celestial home,
Judge of all, again returning,
We believe that Thou shalt come
In the dreaded doomsday morning;
When Thy voice shall shake the earth,
And the startled dead come forth.

Therefore do we pray Thee, Lord:
Help Thy servants whom, redeeming
By Thy precious blood out-poured,
Thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming.
Give to them eternal rest
In the glory of the blest.

Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
Never, Lord, abandon me.

And that's my blogging for today. I'll see you here tomorrow!

* Oh, and my friend Tracy at The Secret of Living is doing NaBloP as well; if you've never read her, head on over there and check it out.