Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ghostie pops

I really have no liking for Halloween, but I can't resist these little ghosts Trisha gives to the story hour children every year.

A Tootsie Pop with a kleenex over it, yarn tied around his neck and eyes and nose made with a marker.


Monday, October 27, 2014

heart and soul and mind

God be in our thinking, always as a guide;
God be in our yearning, high and deep and wide;
God be in our caring, with us intertwined,
As we grow to love you, heart and soul and mind.

                                                           - from Magnificat, October 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

dreamy little pumpkins

The youth group at church was selling (donated) pumpkins for a dollar. And the little ones for fifty cents!  Perfect for the small shelves over the kitchen sink.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

chocolate chip, pumpkin and rye bundt cake

When Valerie pinned this recipe I knew I had to try it right away. A cake which contains rye flour! Couldn't resist it. I had canned pumpkin in the pantry (wasn't going to use that lovely pumpkin I roasted yesterday - we ate that at supper!), so I was ready.

It was no harder than mixing up muffin batter - entirely by hand, even though I had to weigh all the ingredients, and that did take a little longer.

But what a find: a cake with some wholesome grains and veg in it, and so fast and easy to make that it could be done with short notice. I will keep this recipe and make it again!

Monday, October 20, 2014

cooking pumpkins

I don't know about you, but when a recipe tells me to peel a pumpkin or large squash, I say no way. I did try it once a long time ago - a waste of energy.  So this morning I took our pumpkin, washed it, and poked it all over with a thin, sharp knife. It went into the oven at 350 for an hour, at which time I was able to cut it into quarters. Still, I wanted it softer so I put it back in for thirty or forty minutes more.

Oh, so nice and creamy!  And lots of seeds for my muesli.

This is the last of the vegetables my brother's nice client had given us - an eggplant, butternut and spaghetti squashes, two big beets, garlic bulb, one red and one yellow onion and this pumpkin. Thank you!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

to be content

"I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances; we carry the seeds of the one, or the other about with us, in our minds, wherever we go."

                                          -  from Martha Washington, an American Life, by Patricia Brady

"If today is so horrendous that...you can't find one moment to enjoy, one simple pleasure to savor, one friend to call, one person to love, one thing to share, one smile to offer; if life is so difficult you don't want to bother living it to the fullest, then don't live today for yourself."

                                             -  from Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach

"...I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."

                                                -  St. Paul

Thursday, October 16, 2014

tree of many colors

The maples this year have been incredibly colorful - I don't remember so many colors all on the same tree at one time, so showy even on the rainiest of days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

help for a too-large neckline

I got an idea that my black linen dress was roomy enough for a jumper, so started looking for something of a thin fabric that I could wear underneath. I found a very thin Anthropologie tee, but the scoop neck was rather low. When I tried it on with the dress only the sleeves were visible; I wanted to see if I could raise up the neck area a little. A whole inch, actually, was what it needed.

I know the proper way to take up a shoulder seam is to rip out the stitches at the shoulder, but that's too much work - also, when your top is fitted that could make the armholes too snug. But I've accomplished it the lazy way many times and it always works for me. I needed to take it up one inch. So, starting at the neckline end of the shoulder seams I stitched it at an inch, and then as I approached the shoulder edge, angled it so the seam disappeared into the existing seam. Does that make sense?

Can you see in this picture that on the left side (where the shoulder is) the stitching line I made is at the original seamline? But on the right, where the neck edge is, I've gone diagonally to take it in an inch at that end of the seam. It's a bad photo, I know. But I'm hoping you're getting what I'm saying.

I always baste it first, then try it on again before sewing with the machine. So that's what I did, and it was an improvement, so I finished it up, then trimmed off the seam allowance and zigzagged (even though knits don't fray). It brought it up to where at least some of the neckline was slightly visible beneath the jumper.

As you can see, it looks fine - you'd think it would look funny after taking it up in that angled way, but it doesn't. Even so, that's why I always baste first and make sure it looks all right. I have done this many times over the years for a gaping neckline, which is a problem for me and my narrow shoulders - it helps. So maybe if you have that problem it will help you, too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue

He had three ships and left from Spain
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

In 1992 replicas of the three ships came to our area, so we went. They were small! The Santa Maria was the largest and it was quite small!  My conclusion - they were out of their minds.  :D

Sunday, October 12, 2014

la Cenerentola

Today is Cindy's third birthday.

Cenerentola is Italian for Cinderella. I know this because Rossini wrote an opera by that name, and I saw it on tv years ago.

Cindy could be a nickname for Cinderella, couldn't it?

It's also Columbus Day, so we've come back around to the Italian theme.  I have no idea what it may mean, but our Cindy is no Cinderella. In fact, she's more like the step-sister who makes the heroine's life miserable.

And that's what's happening here. Cindy is very lively and very aggressive. She bothers both cats, but Dolly mostly, and I mean she attacks Dolly frequently and Dolly, who is a mild-mannered person, has taken to hissing and even growling for the past month whenever Cindy comes near. I don't see any end to this behavior, because Cindy wants to be number one, and Dolly will always be our Number One. And she doesn't seem to realize that "getting along with everybody" is another option.  But she isn't all bad - she has cute ways. She purrs the minute you pick her up. She will jump into your lap when she sees you sitting and will curl up and fall asleep right away.  She would be a fine pet for someone who would keep her inside, give her affection and have her as their only pet.

We are hoping to find such a person.  Meanwhile, a Happy Birthday to you, Cindy. It would be nice if you could act like a little princess, just for one day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014


"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm."

                                                         - Willa Cather,  from Simple Abundance

Saturday, October 4, 2014

heroes and poets

Kierkegaard, a philosopher who loved Jesus very much, affirmed that God has created two categories of people: heroes and poets. The hero is the one who accomplishes great deeds and even does battle with death. The poet does not do impressive deeds, but he sings about the hero and is enthusiastic about the hero; he is as happy as if he were the hero himself, because his own genius can be expressed in sheer admiration and devotion. When he has found his hero, the poet goes from city to city and tells people that they too should admire the hero. 

For us, Jesus is our hero. and we should be his poets. I do not mean in the sense that we should write poems about him but in the sense that we are in love with Jesus. The poets speak through their songs and succeed not only in convincing, but in taking others along with them. 

                                                          - Fr. Romiero Cantalamessa,   from Magnificat, October 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pinterest recipes: salted brown butter chocolate chip cookie bars

I was going to do a post about how I dislike these. I made them yesterday - couldn't get the butter to brown (haven't done it in so many years, must be out of practice) - so I just gave up and used dark brown sugar instead of light, to make them look browner. I took them out of the oven at eighteen minutes like the recipe said (stupid, wasn't it?) and waited for them to cool so I could try one. After fifteen minutes all but the outer edges sank down - okay, so they weren't cooked enough. Figuring I had little to lose, I heated up the oven again and put them back in. Ten or fifteen minutes more. To my surprise the center rose up again!  So, all was well as far as that goes. But the piece I had laid heavily in my stomach and the totally saltless cookie with a salty top seemed unbalanced to me.  

That might have been the end of the story, except that my brother didn't think they were that bad, so I brought them to work today. My co-workers really liked them!  (Have I said before they'll eat anything with chocolate?  They will.)  But one of them even wanted the recipe, so I guess - well, I guess it takes all kinds. That's a good thing, though. At least I didn't have to throw them out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

the last words of St. Francis

I have done what is mine to do; may Christ teach you what is yours to do.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anna's chewy brownies

I finally made Anna's brownie recipe that she posted eight years ago.  I was especially intrigued at a recipe that called for only one cup of flour in a thirteen by nine inch pan of brownies.

Here's the link - I used a mix of butterscotch and milk chocolate chips, to finish off some half-done bags.  They were very easy to make, quite sweet and nice-and-chewy. Very satisfying.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

the everlasting arms

"Henri Nouwen was fascinated by trapeze artists. He befriended a troupe of trapezists called the Flying Rodleighs. Once he asked the chief of the Flying Rodleighs how he managed to fly through the air and still catch on to the other guy on the swing. The answer?

The secret is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar...The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It's Joe's task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe's wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.

These images gave new depth to Nouwen's understanding of what Jesus meant in the hour of his death when he said, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.'"

                                             -  Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs, by James C. Howell

Friday, September 26, 2014


"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more commonplace than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent."

                                                                  -  Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pinterest recipes: kidney bean burgers

I have a collection of bean burger recipes on Pinterest, and this is the second I've made. These were really good. 

I had all the ingredients on hand, even the pecans; doubled the recipe and got eleven burgers. Lots of flavor, and if you don't like curry and you leave it out, it wouldn't matter. I like the idea of bean burgers and am starting to get the idea you can put anything in them. I served these with roasted beets.

A customer of my brother's gave him some wonderful vegetables from their garden: a butternut and a spaghetti squash, bulb of garlic, a yellow and a red onion, an eggplant, small pumpkin and two large beets - one red and one of those Italian kind with the red and white rings. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

like Gail

Gail was in the library the other day. She used to work with us - now she's retired.

She looked nice, she always makes that effort. And she's enjoying her retirement. She likes to read, and helps out a lot with her grandchildren. She has her interests - she's a good knitter, and then there's the cross-stitch - she's made many beautiful pieces. She always made time for her hobbies before and they're good companions for her now. There's no getting bored for Gail! She finds life interesting.

This is the way to be in life - at any age, but, like Gail, if you develop your interests and good habits throughout your life they will stand you in good stead when you're (a bit) older.

She also says she reads my blog every morning.  A Happy Birthday to you, Gail!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

unwrapping cucumbers for the queen, or anybody

Have you ever had trouble getting the shrink wrap off the long, hothouse cucumbers from the supermarket? I usually cut one end off and then struggle to peel off the plastic. Well, the other day I as I was wrestling with one, I ran it under the faucet for some reason - just for a moment, and can't even remember why - and that plastic slipped off so easily! Since, this method's worked for me nine times out of ten. Which came in very handy today for the cucumber sandwiches we served at the library - a Victorian Tea at which Queen Victoria herself made an appearance.

Friday, September 19, 2014

the last scarf

I can't believe I'm just finishing up with the winter scarf and glove washing, just in time (almost) for the cold weather again! In this small house it's impossible to wash them all at once with so little space to spread them out. (Cindy seems to find whatever I'm trying to dry flat, and that's where she lays. So far, no harm done!)  I did wash some a ways back but then lost track of the rest - I do have rather a lot of cold weather accessories. As a child I was always cold, and even though I'm much warmer than I used to be, I seem to have a thing for keeping a good selection of scarves and wool gloves. New England has a wide range of temperatures, so I do use them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

milk glass basket

I don't remember where my mother got this -

but, isn't it perfect?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"stuff as dreams are made on"

"here is that which will give language to you, cat..."

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

                            from William Shakespeare's The Tempest

Monday, September 15, 2014

a raspberry and ale pie

I think I first discovered Une Gamine dans la Cuisine - a blog - through Pinterest. Oh, the photos!  The food in those pictures was irresistible to me. I had to make something.

I haven't looked too far back, but I think it's all desserts. That's okay. I chose Prospero's Raspberry and Ale Pie - doesn't it sound intriguing? We have some ale hanging around the house; all I needed were the berries.

Well, at the supermarket I quickly realized that I'd have to spend fifteen dollars to get five cups for the pie, and I wasn't going to do it. But the frozen ones were on sale, two bags for six - okay, frozen would do!  Then, there was the ale issue - it calls for dark ale, and ours isn't.

But I like to use what's on hand if possible, so that what I used.

Then, there was an issue with the crust - she makes a butter crust with three tablespoons of sugar in it and some cream, or milk. I usually make an oil crust. Should I, or shouldn't I? I really try to avoid more dairy than I absolutely must eat, so I decided to go with my crust, and just put some sugar in it. But three tablespoons?  I put in half that amount as we also try to keep sugar levels down around here. Oh, and did I mention she's got oregano in the crust?  It sounds strange, doesn't it? But also exciting, so I wasn't going to leave that out. Except I didn't have fresh - one tablespoon - so I used dried - one teaspoon - as we know that dried herbs are more potent than fresh ones.

It was rather odd, I thought, that she didn't use any thickener at all for this pie - berries are so juicy, and frozen ones even more so - plus you're adding a quarter cup of liquid to it (the ale) I was afraid it would be very runny. But I left it as she said.

Now before I go any further, I want to point out something I read on Like Mother, Like Daughter  a week ago - Deirdre linked to a hilarious piece on the comments one finds on food blogs. I'm not sure they're all authentic - 'I just started Paleo yesterday, and I'm wondering if there's a way to make this without the ingredients.'  Really??  So as I made this pie, and changed this and subbed that, I kept wondering at what point a recipe is still what it's supposed to be when you're changing it so much. Anyway, I may be asking the question, but don't imagine I've got the answer.

So folks, I made the pie. It was very good!  I love fruit pie, anyway. But I should have put some instant tapioca in there, just a little, because it is very runny and that's a shame because the bottom gets all gooey, as you know. As for the oregano crust, it isn't weird at all! I like it! And I shouldn't have shied away from the extra sugar in there, either - it would have been fine with the three tablespoons, so next time.......

I learned something here - it's okay to put herbs in your pie crust. And you can add some unusual liquids into your fruit. But maybe I'll still play it safe and look for clever people who've already invented these recipes so I don't have to experiment.

Now please excuse me while I go read The Tempest, with a slice of raspberry and ale pie.