Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A device that allows continual linear or rotary motion in only one direction while preventing motion in the opposite direction.
Sometimes I can clearly see areas of my life desperately in need of a good old ratchet!
Just this morning, C & I were driving to the city to pick up Tman from his after Christmas celebration with his father. The radio was on WMBI (of course) and I was listening to the hosts as they discussed their hopes and desires for 2011. One of them mentioned that she wished that "she would not wear her heart on her sleeve" and waste so much time dwelling on her own hurt feelings. Her sentiments really resonated with me...how much time I waste focused on self or worrying if I have disappointed others.
With the wheels spinning, literally & figuratively, I made my way around the loop, killing time until we picked up Tman. This is where the ratchet part comes in.
Where and how had I been stretched spiritually in 2010? Where did I need to be pruned, "ratcheted", watered and encouraged in the coming year?
Pruning needs to be done on the impatient branches in my life. Unfortunately, these branches most brush up on those that I fiercely love. My husband is an excellent example to me of gentleness & patience and it is a blessing to have him set the bar so high.
Ratchet my tongue, God! 2010 marked the year that I sought to eliminate gossip from my mouth. Oh, the verses I have memorized! Psalm 141:3 is my favorite when I am overwhelmed with the urge to say something that is not edifying...or listen to something not meant for my ears. The standard to which I have tried to adhere is: "If I am not part of the solution or the problem, then I don't need to say it or hear it". (Thanks, Chip Ingram). This area of my life has improved, but some tightening up is needed. James 1:26
I have been reading "Who You Are When No One's Looking" by Bill Hybels. Such a great read. The chapter on Discipline is excellent and this is a character trait that I long to have. He describes discipline as "delayed gratification". I have more to say on this but am really exhausted. We have had incessant house, car & pet issues as well as a very "busy" 2 year old. One of the few things that I am disciplined about is adhering to my quiet time so I will close in order to curl up with peppermint tea and my Bible.
What are your hopes for 2011?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Always one for a challenge, I bought a pretty candle with a mild apple cider fragrance. Although I sometimes forgot, when I saw the candle I would ask God to help me with patience, a virtue I am sorely lacking.
Colossians 3: 12-14 says:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
This is a verse that I have memorized and am acutely aware that patience is the virtue that most resists being "bound" in my like. My family could offer a laundry list of examples here...
My little apple cider candle has become a sweet little reminder, my virtue candle. When he burns out, I will purchase another. Realizing that there are always fresh ways to be challenged and convicted to grow and be pruned.
E & I had a weekend sans enfants and it was fabulous. We chose to stay home because I have been very sick with a chronic cough. It was so relaxing to sleep in, eat out, order Giordanos and eat it in front of the TV together-no kids!! Although we don't have cable, we watched Life is Beautiful. It is blustery outside and I am planning a week of soups & comfort meals. The house is sparkly clean and smells like peppermint (thank you, Scentsy). And yes, my candle is burning.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here is the recipe, basically a double version of Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread from allrecipes with a bit more spices:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 egg yolks
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tsp. cloves
2-3 tsp. ginger
Cream butter & sugar. Add yolks & mix. Add molasses & mix. Sift together all dry ingredients and add slowly to creamed mixture. Mix until dough is formed and holds together well. Separate into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge and chill for about an hour, until firm but not rock hard.
Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness (we like them THIN!). Bake on parchment lined sheets at 350 for about 8 minutes. They will seem soft but crisp up after 5-8 minutes out of the oven.
Enjoy! We plan to decorate with royal icing tomorrow.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
The tree is rather sparse on the bottom in hopes that C will not create a repeat of last year's
debacle. On Christmas Eve, while we were busy prepping dinner, the entire tree was toppled by a curious little boy. Smashed ornaments, broken lights...good times...
The huge white iron chandelier was a new addition this year and I decorated it with ropes of faux gumdrops. Kitschy & cute!
Later, I will post photos of the kitchen. I draped my vintage copper cookie cutters across a garland of cinnamon sticks. Something fun to look at while I do the dishes.
Happy decorating, everyone!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
My favorite salads always have sweet & savory components as well as a few different textures. I really enjoy a creamy cheese, crisp greens, crunchy nutmeats. We created this salad tonight because I had apples, goat cheese & pecans on hand. Costco had a huge container of spring mix for $3.99 so we have been enjoying greens with every meal this week.
Dressing (I never measure; this is a guess-sorry precise friends!)
3 Tbs. good quality balsamic (I used Pomegranate from Olive Tap-my favorite)
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. toasted walnut oil
1 tsp. Dijon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Few grinds of pepper
Whisk all together & adjust to suit your tastes. This is a sweet, rich dressing. A little goes a long way.
For the salad:
Toss dry greens with dressing, using your clean hands. (You'll be able to tell when the greens are perfectly coated. Thinly slice apples and lay on bed of greens. Toss on your cheese. I used Chevre with fine herbes. Feta or Gorgonzola would be great, too. Something salty. Toast nuts lightly, cool and throw on salad. Voila. Tastes great, looks pretty. Your husband will feel blessed by your handiwork.
*Sesame oil & rice wine vinegar make wonderful dressings for salads. Add some thinly sliced almond & cilantro to your salad-yum.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I challenge you...google the lyrics to some of your favorite love songs. Yes, they do bring up warm feelings of your husband, first kiss, etc.
But really READ them.
There is almost always a deep longing, an ache for unconditional love.
If you know my story, you are also aware of the crazy paths I took, the promises made, covenants crushed. At the end of the day (not the end of the story), I ran back to the arms of my Heavenly Father.
What are you longing for?
Who are you running to? Who are you running from?
Who are you living for?
Recently, my friend Jeanine forwarded a song to our Bible study. It paints a sweet picture of the greatest love story ever...and I am the Beloved to whom the song is referring. Yes, me!
Best part is that you can claim that for yourself. You! It's His love song for you, for me.
Here it is.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
After a great dinner out with great friends, we are relaxing at home. Tomorrow's dinner is in the crockpot & I am getting ready to cut a pattern for some pajamas for C. Tomorrow morning I need to be at O'Hare to pick up Tman-yay!! We have missed him so much.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
That's all I have to say about that.
Here is the run down of our menu:
Pernil (Puerto Rican pork dish)
Puerto Rican rice
Stuffing with apples
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Salad with Apples, Nuts & Poppyseed Dressing
German Chocolate Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Mint Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Berry & Cream Trifle
Caramel Pecan Pie
Mexican Sweet Rolls
What a spread!
One of the best parts of the evening was when Tom said the blessing. It was wonderful to be surrounded by family & friends who love the Lord and recognize that He is our Saviour & Provider.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
You want to be sure that the entire turkey is sumerged in the brine. Tightly tie your bag closed. I then placed the white plastic tub in the garage so the brine could work its magic overnight!
Make SURE that you have no holes in your bag. Yours truly did not do that & I am sparing everyone from the pictures of that mess.
My 22 lb turkey will cook in about 2 hours. After rinsing the bird, I will give him a massage with a bit of butter and place him in a roasting bag and my big roaster. The brine greatly reduces cooking time, so watch your bird. In addition, rinse carefully before cooking so that your drippings will not be salty.
Here is the carmel-pecan pie I made while the brine was cooling. My pumpkin pie is cooking now. It is very chilly out today, but it's toasty in the kitchen & our home smells like Thanksgiving!
Caramel Pecan Pie recipe link from Southern Living. (I did sub dark brown sugar for white).
Sunday, November 21, 2010
They would make a wonderful breakfast surprise for Thanksgiving guests.
Here is the link:
Following is my sugar cookie recipe that many request from me. I am always happy to pass it along as I think it makes the most delicious sugar cookies that hold their shape.
Susan's Sugar Cookies
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
2 generous tsp. vanilla
6 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients slowly, mixing until dough forms ball. Do not over beat. Separate into 3 disks and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let chill in fridge for about an hour. You want firm dough, but not rock hard.
Flour work surface and roll out dough. Cut with cutters and place shapes on parchment lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in fridge about 15 minutes. (Chilled, cut shapes will hold their shape much better than room temp. dough).
Bake about 10 minutes in 325 oven.
Frost with royal icing (if desired) and let dry about 6-8 hours. Enjoy!
Right now I am waiting on a cookie order to bake. I have 6 trays chilled that I am baking in shifts. A repeat order of Irish dancing shoe cookies. My head is throbbing and the boys are sleeping on the couch (snoring, actually) and I will admit that I am a wee bit jealous.
However, I was excited when I discovered that I could download the Beatles on itunes. I am listening to my 2 favorite old school Beatles songs: If I Fell and And I Love Her. My parents can verify that I loved listening to my dad's old Beatles vinyl when I was growing up. Wish I could scan in a picture of my old royal blue record player...good memories.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Have you ever experienced something that made you smile?
Smile at the fierce way that God shows His love to us?
Tonight was one of those moments.
My dad has not been feeling very well and suffering from a kidney stone. Tonight he was admitted to the hospital so that he could receive antibiotics & fluids. My mom is visiting my Grandma in Indiana, so I drove my dad to the hospital.
It's been a frustrating month of health issues for him. We sat in the waiting room while they prepared a bed and I asked my dad if I could pray for him. I prayed specifically:
"Lord, just surround my dad with comfort. Put a hedge of comfort and peace around him".
In a few minutes, we were getting him settled into his room and a smiling, tiny nurse came in. She said, "I will be taking care of you tonight. My name is Comfort".
So I actually asked her (because I didn't believe my own ears)...."Did you say your name was Comfort?"
And she just smiled and said, "Yes, Comfort".
My dad & I shared a smile. There is no coincidence here. Not sure about you, but I have never heard the name Comfort before tonight. We even told the nurse about what I just prayed and she had a little twinkle in her eye.
Thank you, God, for comfort and Comfort. May she take excellent care of my dad tonight.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Here are the ingredients:
2 medium or 3 smallish onions (sweet onions are great in season)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. tomato paste
About 1/2 cup Red wine (I like a good Chianti)
2-28oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes
Salt, sugar, Italian seasonings to suit your taste
Heat about 2-3 Tbs. olive oil in heavy Dutch oven. While oil is heating, chop onions and then add to hot pan.
Cook onions down until soft and translucent, as you would for risotto. Don't allow them to scorch. While onions are cooking merrily, mince your garlic and have your tomato paste at the ready.
In addition, place canned tomatoes in colander, catching the juices. Remove any fibrous parts and set tomatoes & juice aside.
Add garlic to cooked onions and stir until fragrant, then add tomato paste. You will have a pinkish mixture that smells amazing. Here is where I add a splash of the red wine. After adding some of the wine, use your wooden spoon to work all the caramelized onion from the bottom & sides of pan.
Here are the tomatoes I used-my favorite is Liguria but this is what I had on hand. A good Italian market will offer several varieties. Add drained tomatoes to pan as well as remainder of wine. Now, we wait....letting tomatoes cook and stirring pot occasionally.
Once sauce has cooked down, I use an immersion blender to smooth it out. I have had mine since college (early 90s!) and it is a terrific tool.
Now, the tasting begins. We added fresh Italian sausage last night, so that added a lot of flavor to my batch. But if you are having straight up marinara, you need to sample and adjust.
A bit of sugar helps balance the acidity.
A bit of salt cuts jammy, too sweet flavor.
Extra virgin olive oil drizzled in helps meld the flavors.
The boys wanted to take a picture with the Italian sausage. I used half of it & froze the other half. For locals: Amici is our hands-down favorite homemade sausage. If you like pungent fennel, Westbrook is your market.
Remove the casing & cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon. It adds great depth to your homemade sauce.
Here's the finished product with freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano. Enjoy!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I have been wanting to replace my Uggs. This is year 4 and they have served me well; they are so well made and very warm. Unfortunately, I do think some of the issues with plantar fascitis (swelling and irritation of tissue on bottom of foot) have not been helped by wearing the Uggs from October to March.
So, I found another pair of boots on Zappos that I fell in love with. Can't wait until they arrive. They are made by Frye and have been rumored to last upwards of 20+ years as well as improve with age. Here's a picture:
We spent the day relaxing. I scrubbed down the kitchen, even the refrigerator. E & T raked all the leaves from the huge magnolia tree. C lived up to his nickname of "Hurricane" by dumping a box of Blueberry mini-wheats onto Josie (whom I had just meticulously groomed). An improvement from his earlier escapade of emptying an entire tube of Vaseline on his hair and in his ear.
Off to bed with tea and a good book. Reading Under a Thousand Splendid Suns. Great book, hard to put down!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Corner of Maple & Washington in downtown Downers Grove
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Here is a batch that I made last Christmas. For softer peaks, more "button-like" meringues, beat only about 6-8 minutes. And if you like a striped meringue, paint the inside of your pastry bag with food color paste.
My husband & son really enjoy lemon meringues and I found that if I added about half a box of powdered lemon gelatin, it made for delicious lemon meringues. (The addition of the gelatin also makes stiff peaks quickly). The lemon meringues look great with sanding sugar or nonpareils sprinkled on the top.
Here is a link to the recipe:
I never ate many meringues when I was in France at the Universite de Grenoble, but I did eat my fair share of pain au chocolat...mmm....
Soon I will be making peppermint marshmallows!! Great for cocoa on a snowy Chicago day. Here is our cocoa from last winter.
Friday, October 29, 2010
From the wool scraps emerged my many flowers, from which I fashioned barrettes and brooches as well as embellishments for all wool berets. No glue used; all hand sewn.Not sure which beret I like the most, probably the tan with the huge red rose. It is actually the back of a rose that I had shaped...when I went to sew the leaves on the back, it was so pretty that I decided to keep it faced out backwards.
Barrettes, barrettes, barrettes.
Mostly roses, one with a vintage button in the center.
And one flaming magenta coxcomb, fashioned from the old velvet of a pillow. It is so pretty up close. (Coxcomb are my favorite dried flowers).Enfin, just above the old radio where I photographed my wool "stuff" is a very scary picture. Found years ago in the basement of my favorite Fredricksburg, VA antiques store. It still gives me the creeps, in a good way.