Thursday, September 30, 2010

St. Jerome

Today is the feast of St. Jerome, patron of librarians. And, since I work in a library, I thought I would mention it! He lived in the 4th century, and is mostly known for translating the existing Bible into Latin, which is called the Vulgate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

never been to a French hotel

... but, my mother's birthday was on Flag Day, so she was in the habit of collecting American flags - we have several of them.

I was out shopping with a friend not long ago, and came upon this - umbrella stand, I guess. I knew it was perfect for the living room. It looked fine empty, but I like it better with flags in it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

rainy day

Rain and damp outside, chili and apple crisp within. After a very long, hot summer, I'd forgotten how nice it is to warm up a chilly house by using the oven.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

two readings

This morning at Mass, the gospel reading was from St. Luke, chapter 16 - the story of Lazarus, the poor man, who suffered greatly in his earthly life, but was consoled afterward in the bosom of Abraham. The rich man, who ignored poor Lazarus in this life, was tormented in the next, because he was concerned only for his own enjoyment.  Abraham says to him, "My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented."

This evening at home I was reading Edith Schaeffer's wonderful book, What Is A Family?  In a chapter about family finances, she mentions St. Matthew's chapter 19 - the story of the rich, young ruler.  Jesus says to him, "...If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

Edith Schaeffer then says, Jesus is also speaking very naturally of "treasures in heaven", indicating that there is a "bank account" there being filled with what human beings give away. (my emphasis)

What a thought!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

hot weather dessert

If you're bad about drinking your juice, this is for you!  I often make a gelatin dessert with 100% fruit juice.

Put 3 cups of chilled juice in your bowl or whatever, and sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatin over it, mixing it up a bit.

Take another cup of juice and add 1/4 cup of sugar of some sort (white, brown, honey), and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add the hot to the cold, and stir constantly for five minutes, then chill.  It takes a good 6 hours to set.

It's great with Reddi-Wip.

Today I used white grape juice; I've make it with concord grape, orange, pineapple (canned), apricot nectar, mango - it's refreshing and healthy!  I used lemonade once, too, but thought the added sugar unnecessary. For very thick juices I thin it out with a bit of water.

It's definitely a staple around here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

menu planning

I realized about a year ago that planning a menu every week before grocery shopping was a good idea; it certainly helps my focus at the supermarket, and it's always good to have a plan, anyway. But the downside  is that it takes so much time.  If I really want to plan a balanced week of dinners, it requires looking through recipes and cookbooks for ideas - and trying to think of everything - don't want casseroles every day - oh, we've been eating too much chicken lately, I'm sick of it - oh, no, the hot weather is returning and I want to avoid using the oven if possible, and it often feels like I'm spending all day with the grocery list.

So, there are some weeks when I just abandon the idea - if I'm not feeling too great, or if I just need the time for other things around the house.  But I always go back to it. I just like having a plan!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

minestrone - good and easy

I guarantee this soup!  It's delicious, and takes only about an hour. I adapted it from this cookbook:


1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 carrots
2 celery stalks

and saute in sufficient amount of olive oil for 5 minutes.  Then add:

2 qts. water
1 Knorr chicken (or veg.) cube
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 clove *
1 can beans, drained and rinsed  (cannellini or other)
1 box frozen spinach, or half bag frozen, or big handful of fresh, or collards, etc. (if you use kale, cook an extra 15 mins.)
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp. basil
5 tsp. tomato paste, or 8 oz. can tomato sauce, or half cup of spaghetti sauce, or 5 fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped up

Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Add half cup of small pasta - elbows, shells, ditalini  - whatever,
and boil a bit more briskly another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tsp. salt, and serve.  If you're going to use Parmesan on it, omit the salt.

* Don't leave out the clove - it really makes a difference.  But yes, someone will end up eating it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

a picnic

Over the river  (oops, run dry!)

and through the woods

to a picnic we did go (in the back yard)





The menu:
  • Chicken Caesar salad
  • Waldorf salad
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Bakery cookies
  • Honey cake
  • Pineapple sherbet with chocolate mini chips

 It was lovely!

Friday, September 17, 2010

work, or play?

"'...I wish you'd tidy things up,' said Aunt Jamesina plaintively, looking at the wilderness of trunks and suitcases by which the four laughing, chattering girls were surrounded. 'You can talk just as well later on. Work first and then play used to be my motto when I was a girl.'

'Oh, we've just reversed that in this generation, Aunty. Our motto is play your play and then dig in. You can do your work so much better if you've had a good bout of play first.'"

Anne of the Island,  by L. M. Montgomery


Thursday, September 16, 2010

honey cake

Have any Jewish friends?  They may be coming to your door tomorrow, the day before Yom Kippur, looking for a piece of honey cake.

Will you be ready?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Claus Meyer

I've never traveled outside of the U.S., but if I could, I've always been interested in England. Also, since reading "Under the Tuscan Sun", and since I'm half Italian, going to Italy wouldn't be too bad, either. But Scandinavia is one place which has never tempted me in the past - I don't know why, exactly. It may be that the proximity to the north pole put me off; I've always disliked the cold. 

All that changed, however, when I discovered Claus Meyer on create tv.  I had recently discovered this interesting channel full of cooking and craft-type shows, and one night I tuned in and saw this fellow cooking in the middle of a green meadow with wind blowing - what beautiful scenery!  And such a personality this guy has!   He's Danish, and this show is expertly done, with great music, camera work, outdoor shots - everything about the program is perfect, and why shouldn't it be?  It's sponsored by the tourism board  - they know what they're doing!  Gorgeous!

He loves the outdoors; knows all about berries and other things which grow wild, and where to pick them - it's really fascinating. I've tried a couple of recipes already - couldn't resist! I definitely have a different view of the Scandinavian countries now.

It only lasted 13 weeks, and guess what?  I bought the dvds. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

more favorite blogs

One week was not enough to list blogs which I frequent, so I'm adding a few more "days" to it.

The Amber Gatherer is definitely a place I like to go; a good stopping place for Anglophiles!  Rachel takes such beautiful photos of the surrounding countryside, and when she and her husband take little trips. She has a good eye for a photograph.  She also includes favorite music clips and words to Christian poems and hymns.  It's a lovely place to visit, and she's a lovely person!

Marie Madeline Studio is the blog of a family of 4 daughters and their lovely mother, who also have an online fabric business, making quilts, designing patterns and selling fabric. In fact, they're having a sale this week!

Angry Chicken is Amy Karol's blog; Amy has written a couple of sewing books, and she has several funky youtube tutorials showing different sewing techniques. I like to see what she's up to.

One more - Moje Zielone Wzgorze - yes, this is a Polish blog, and don't ask me how I found it - is another fascinating craft blog. This woman, Ania, makes all sorts of things constantly, and they're all so well done. She seems to like red and white, and has many followers. I sometimes use the Google translator, which is a help, but it's not a clean translation.  Still, her pictures are worth a thousand words.


Yesterday's readings at Mass were all about forgiveness.

First,  Exodus 32, the story of the Israelites worshipping the molten calf - I see how stiff-necked this people is, continued the Lord to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. But Moses prayed for them and begged God to spare them. verse 14 - So the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on His people.

Then, we read Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness
in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

A clean heart create for me, O God
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from Your presence
and Your Holy Spirit take not from me.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not despise.

The second reading was from St. Paul's 1st letter to Timothy, where he speaks of his old behavior and God's forgiveness to him.

The Gospel was taken from St. Luke, chapter 15 - the good shepherd and the prodigal son.

painting by Rembrandt

Saturday, September 11, 2010

no, not mints

I found this canister in the basement closet - full of vintage clip rings, for curtains!  Very welcome, both for the clip rings and the canister, which now sits on my bedroom shelf, where it matches perfectly!

Friday, September 10, 2010

making lemonade

Last March, I saw this skirt in the J Jill catalog  -

I thought I could copy it without spending $99, and finally got around to it this week.

Except   -   I guess my calculations were incorrect, because it wasn't turning out as I had planned, so I tried to figure out if I could do anything else with this black medium-to-heavier weight linen skirt with the long tucks. I picked up my Amy Butler's In Stitches, and found a very simple shoulder bag which I thought would do nicely.


I didn't have leather for straps, but I had grosgrain ribbon, and I found some William Morris repro print for the lining. Then, I made fabric flowers for decoration.   So, this is it -


I don't have a wide experience of sewing - I read the instructions for this before I began, but I admit I couldn't picture what was being described; I'm not good at that.  So, what I thought was going to be the lining, ended up being the fabric which shows on the back of the bag.  Still, I'm pleased with it! 

It's funny - when I got the book, that bag was not anything which appealed to me, but it seemed to make sense for my purposes, and now - I like it!!

The directions for making the flowers are on the right, under "Things to Do" - Sydney Albertini's flower sashes. I didn't make the sash, just the flowers; with buttons, instead of roving, which I didn't have.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

irresistible quote

This has been taped to my recipe box for many years, and I still get a chuckle out of it. I think it's cut from one of the first issues of Cooking Light magazine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a happy birthday

Today is celebrated the birthday of the mother of Jesus.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;  because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;  because He who is mighty has done great things to me, and holy is His Name

Luke 1:46b-49

eggplant parmesan

If you've never made it, you may think it's difficult - but that's not so!  It takes time, but little work. I learned how from my Julia Child's The Way to Cook.

Wash your eggplants and cut off the ends. Now slice them about three eighths of an inch thick, and lay them on paper towels, single layer.  Sprinkle some salt on, turn over, and salt the other sides.  This will bring out excess water in them. So leave them for 20 mins., and go do something else!

Now, set your oven to 400 degrees F. Blot off the water droplets on your slices,  and lay them out on baking sheets - one layer, so you'll most likely need more than one sheet - lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with some herbs of your choice. I used Italian seasoning with these.  Cover with foil, and bake for 15-20 minutes. You want them cooked, but not mushy. If your slices are thick, go for the 20, if not, 15 is probably fine; but stick a fork in the skins to determine toughness. You can always put them back for another five minutes if need be. Go do something!

When they come out, leave the oven on the same temperature.  Get some tomato sauce - I always use a jar of ready-made spaghetti sauce - and spoon some on each slice, topping it off with a shake of grated Parmesan cheese (and the cheap stuff is fine!). Drizzle with olive oil, if you like. At this stage, you may layer them, so see if you can get them all on one baking sheet.  Bake in the upper third of the oven, uncovered this time, for 15 minutes.

It's even good cold, the next day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

summer pleasure

There is almost nothing so pleasing as the sound of wind rushing through summer leaves.  

Not so easy to capture, though.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day, et al

I love holidays!  They present an opportunity to stop and enjoy life, in case you're too busy to have the sense to do it on your own.  Which I don't all the time, I'm sorry to say! 

To be happy, don't do whatever you like - like whatever you do.

And if I get a little tired from the extra work involved, I just take it a little easier the next day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

apostleship of prayer

At the beginning of every month, I like to go to this site - the Apostleship of Prayer, which gives the monthly prayer intentions of Pope Benedict.   It's nice to be praying for something along with so many others.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

those *f* words

No, not the ones you're hoping I don't mean!  

My very first post in this blog was about balance.  The next one was faith, then food.  When I wrote the following post, it occurred to me that it would be funny to see if I could continue with the same letter. So, that's what I've been trying to do - and with no other reason than that - to see if I could do it!  So far, so good, although I've had a couple of episodes where it took a little thinking.  It's kind of fun.  (oops, another one - although I'm really trying to avoid using "fun", until I absolutely have to)

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

organizing for good

I really dislike clutter, although you might not know it if you came to this house.  It's hard, in a small home, to keep it at bay.  My bedroom is the focus of my attentions at present. I recently re-folded all the fabric on my overhead shelf, and color-coordinated it!  (it's also my sewing room.)

(a little drooping doesn't mean anything - we won't even mention it!) 

The difficulty of course, it keeping it this way.   What I really want to do is use it all up!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

treasure in the basement

I remember this picnic basket.

We used to use it when I was a child. It's seen better days, but it's still good.

Inside -

I remember these!  Only three left.  There are a lot of these, though.

18 of them!   And some plates.

Quite a few of them, too.   Everything in excellent condition - that plastic they used to use in the '60s, (50s?), which is nothing like our plastic today.

I'd like to fix up this tired, old picnic basket - I'll have to see what I can come up with.