Monday, November 29, 2004

My friend in Australia says he likes Pavlova too. Posted by Hello

A Christmas tradition Posted by Hello

Sweet Stuff

I am very interested in all things Australian, and a goal of mine is to go visit that huge, diverse and beautiful continent, and really take enough time to be able to see something. Last night I caught a piece of a food channel show about an Aussie pining for his mom's Pavlova. I immediately had to Google it. I had heard of this dessert confection long ago, but never realized that it was claimed by Australians as a favorite tradition of Christmas. It is basicly meringue, baked with a vanilla custard and fruit filling. It looks sweet and frothy and I'm going to make it one of these days when I have someone here to eat it for me. Another dessert that I have always been interested in, but which seems very foreign to me is a Buche du Noel, or Yule Log, which is so French. It is chocolate cream filling and sponge cake made to look like a log in the woods, and I stop reading the recipe when they get to the marzipan mushrooms. But, you never know. I may try it one year. The last thing George and I need right now is a Pavlova or a Buche, Noel or otherwise. Maybe we should take a few hints from this the ballerina, and go get some exercise instead.

It sure didn't take long after Thanksgiving to get me thinking about food again. George and I have decided to make a Gingerbread House this year, so we are discussing that plan now. I have made them before, and they are lots of fun, but you need to have another person or a child help you to make it even more enjoyable.

Anna Pavlova Posted by Hello

This is the wreath that Mike and I had sent to my mom's house today for her 95th birthday. Happy Birthday Omie!!! Posted by Hello

Update on the china cabinet

George and I had a discussion yesterday and decided that to cut the legs to make the cabinet fit in the space in our diningroom, which is an alcove with three windows, would be too drastic. He is worried that the cabinet will just take over the room. I agree. So, he has decided that the best thing would be to get just the bottom part, and use it like a sideboard, with storage underneath, and keep the legs on it. They are rather crucial to the look of the piece I think, and if you look at the pictures below, you will see that they are very pretty and match the table.

I would have liked to raise the roof on the house to make the room higher, but alas, that is not possible. So, we calmly and collectively (without raising the roof)decided to go with our first contingency plan. The top of the "sideboard" has burled mahagany finish like the top of the table, and it will be beautiful I'm sure. Hopefully they will deliver by our Christmas party on December 11th.

I'm not only happy with this decision, but even happier that he and I can decide something together and still be friends afterward. It is the right choice. After all, I have two lit china cabinets already in other rooms. I guess you can tell that I like china.

Thanksgiving is over, I am off to work today, to see what awaits me in the land of fundraising. This is our busy season, thank the Lord.

Cheers to you all.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Spongebob Squarepants

I have no clue how these things work, but a few weeks ago, when I was very sick and miserably confined mostly to the bedroom, I developed a surrealistic fondness for my box of Spongebob Squarepants kleenex. Now I'm crazy for the little guy. Because he knew I would love it, George came home with a charming metal box shaped like Spongebob which balances precariously on his little stick legs. Since we cannot find another box of kleenex, George has found a way to refill that one by a careful cut and paste. I am NOT going to get a huge collection of these whacky smiley things, but we did stop at three Burger Kings lately hoping to find a watch.

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Please don't ask me about my strange new obsession with my yellow friend. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thunder trying to scam some of Michael's lunch. Posted by Hello

Us Posted by Hello

Them Posted by Hello

planting bulbs Posted by Hello

The Origami centerpiece that Mike and I made yesterday. Posted by Hello

Family Nights

George loves James Bond, and we had one movie or another on TV in the evenings all weekend. We also watched One Night At McCools, a very funny movie with Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon and Michael Douglas. We really enjoyed it and Michael sits at the computer playing EQ and watching a movie at the same time, and laughs along with us. We had fun during our "family nights" as Michael called them. I woke up this morning realizing that he has to go to the airport around noon today, and I am sad to see him go, but we had a great time together while he was here. Since he and Michelle will be here for Christmas in about three weeks, I am excited about that visit already.

Michael folded origami for me and I made this "advent" centerpiece for our table yesterday. He said (in a very Zen-like way) that the importance is the act of the folding, not the finished piece. He was horrified at a book we bought in which cuts with scissors were made to create origami poinsettias. He would have none of that. He knows how to make 20 different animals, and I am going to enjoy looking at this and remembering him every time I see it.

I'm not sure what George and I have planned to do this weekend after he is gone, but whatever it is, I know it doesn't involve cooking or eating. Michael isn't much of a shopper, so we didn't get out to too many stores yesterday. We did go to Pier One and George surprised me with a candle wick trimming kit. I have never had one, and don't know how I lived without the long curved scissors, the long tweezers for the little black wick that falls back in, and the candle snuffer. For someone who likes candles as much as I do, these little gadgets are priceless. We also stopped at Starbucks for eggnog latte for Mike, vanilla for me and hot chocolate for George.

Today there will be a visit to the yarn store to get a yarn called Zap. It is an eyelash yarn and one skein is not enough for a scarf. I am making a scarf for a gift in brown, purple, green and light green. It looks likes a dark camoflage. Zap is about $13 a skein I think, so it is much more expensive that my other scarf yarns. I also picked up a Vogue Kniting magazine yesterday. I think I will start a really diffcult cable knit sweater soon. Time to stop with the scarves. I think.

Today is a day to recoup, review, and relive all the fun we had during Thanksgiving. We laughed about our first breakfasts, second breakfasts and "elevenzies". George baked oatmeal raisin cinnamon chip cookies last night to give to Michael to take home with him. Au Revoir Michael. See you again soon!

Friday, November 26, 2004

My kitchen poster. Posted by Hello

Thanksgiving reviewed

The weather was so warm yesterday that in the afternoon we put on shorts and tee shirts. It is back to the 40's today, and much more seasonal. The Macy's parade was a disappointment, and we all started switching around immediately to see something else. They kept interrupting the parade for some musical act that wasn't very musical, or a country western singer who we didn't tune in to hear. I wish they would stick to floats and marching bands. I suppose since Macy's is near Broadway, they can't help it, but it made channel switching the main activity of the parade for us.

The jello salad was a huge hit and we ate it three times during the day. Instead of the two cups of cold water the package calls for, I add half 7-up, the juices from the cans of fruit and then the rest water. It is sparkly and refreshing. Our cheap Jenny-O turkey could not have tasted better, and the fresh sage was great in the dressing. The last minute flurry of activity and gravy making was not tense, but fun, and we were slinging pots and pans and bowls around the kitchen with the best of them. The gravy was dense and flavorful. Mike helped set the table with the antique china, and Noritake pink goblets. The new table is huge and solid and very nice to serve dinner on. Michael commented that there was lots of room for a change.

At the last minute, I decided to bake the sweet potatoes in the oven, and I took them out of their skins when they were done (and the turkey was almost done too), and sliced them into a small casserole with a little brown sugar and some marshmallows and set them back in when the turkey came out. At that point, my Martha aspirations went out the window. George said, "I don't think we need the orange juice and nuts at this point." We had all been munching on black olives, radishes, jarlsberg and gorgonzola cheese, and we were looking at all the food yet to be served. Just the three of us, remember.

The beans were fresh and simple, the potatoes were mashed just right, the bowls were flying out to the big new dining room table, and it looked like the show was about to begin. We poured our ice water and sat down to a relaxing and heartfelt blessing given by George.

Thanksgiving dinners are always hectic right at the end. We didn't forget to serve anything, but no one ate a single roll. The two types of cranberries were tasty and tart and the turkey could not have been better.

We had a great time preparing for the dinner, and we had a great time eating it. George and I did the cleanup without any trouble at all, while Mike came to the computer to see his online friends.

After dinner we all retired to our couches like Roman emperors and I read half of my book, The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory, about Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and a young women "fool" who served them in their courts during all the intrique. It is a good book and I am reallly enjoying it.

Later in the evening we enjoyed pumpkin pie and apple pie with small scoops of vanilla ice cream. They were both delicious and we just skipped supper completely. I wish I had had more energy to play EQ with Michael at that point, but after about 30 minutes I begged off and caved in to my chair, and went upstairs at 10. I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.

Today is another day. The stores have been open for 2 hours already, and it is only 8:00. I am looking forward to a day of fun with Michael and no cooking! A nice long walk is definitely on the menu.

Take care my friends.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Mike and Mom this morning Posted by Hello

Thunder getting ready for her Thanksgiving nap Posted by Hello

Thanksgiving is a whole day full of blessings. Posted by Hello

Thanksgiving morning

I woke up early today and came to the kitchen to listen to the radio and make an apple pie. The turkey doesn't have to go into the oven until around 8 or 9, so there was time to make the pie this morning that I didn't get done last night. I peeled about 10 of the large mutsu apples and made the pie in my largest pie plate and listened to the radio with a candle lit in the window. Thanksgiving morning is one of my favorite times, and I am often alone in the kitchen while others sleep. While the pie bakes, the giblet broth is cooking for the stuffing. One good thing for me at Thanksgiving is that there are no recipes to follow, no notes or scraps of paper, because I have done it so many times before I don't need to follow directions. Still, to get all the details to come together, you have to have a cool head. Most Thanksgivings, I either forget the cranberry sauce or the rolls by the time the dinner is to be served. But even that forgetfulness is planned for by now.

I rolled out some extra crust and cut a turkey shape freehand, and added that bit of feathers that hangs down from his sides. I put him on the top of the pie as decoration. I put a clove on his head for his eye. He is in there now, puffing up nicely, as turkeys do. Sometimes I use a bit of foodcoloring in water to color that extra bit of artwork on my pies, but since turkeys are mostly brown, I didn't do that today. He will brown anyway all by himself in there.

The main turkey is on the counter getting rid of the morning chill, and getting ready to be stuffed with cornbread, croutons, celery and onions. I bought fresh sage at the Idylwild fruit and vegetable market yesterday. I noticed that their fresh turkeys were very expensive, $37.00, probably organic,and mine is just a little Jenny-O frozen from the supermarket at $7.00 total. I'm sure she will be just fine.

I'm going to drink tea and wait until the broth is ready for the stuffing. By 9:00 the Macy's parade will be on, my family will be up, and the turkey will be in the oven. Let's see, 15 pounds at 20 minutes per pound, plus time to sit,...yep, we'll be at the Thanksgiving table as usual around 4:00 this afternoon.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day and many blessings to you and yours.

gobble gobble

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving Posted by Hello

Thanksgiving Eve

It is a cozy night with my family all around me and I couldn't be happier. It is lightly raining outside and the news is of lots of flights canceled because of bad weather in the middle of the country, and people suffering through long delays at airports. Chicago has six inches of new snow, which is sure to cause massive problems at that busy airport that I know so well. They say that 30 million people are traveling today, and I am happy that we are all here safe and sound and together.

The pumpkin pie is still not in the oven. The ham I bought for dinner needed longer cooking that I had planned, so the pie baking is going to go on until 11 pm I think. I made a cinnamon bundt cake for dessert, as if we needed anymore of that in this house. We are having a simple dinner of baked ham, brussels sprouts and large baked potatoes for dinner. I also made a very l950's jello salad, of peach and orange jello with pears, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and bananas. It ain't fancy, but I bet it is good. I'm one of those people who still like Jello salads. Still good after all these years.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Eve my friends.

Road trip

George took this picture of the truck with Christmas trees today when we drove out to Idlewild Farm to get a few more vegetables and flowers for my new table. There were many trucks of Christmas trees on their way into Boston.

Gah, movie

Michael brought movies for us to watch. Unfortunately, I was not able to "censor" him. So, he brought Night of the Living Dead. Just what I wanted to see as I baked Thanksgiving pies, not. We just finished watching it. I knitted a scarf and tried to see what was good about it. I guess I am missing the point of this famous black and white film. I really don't like scary movies, and this one wasn't a horror movie, but more science fiction, but it wasn't cheerful and light, that is for sure. I think I will stick with Dr. Zhivago.

Back to the pie baking.

Christmas is coming! Posted by Hello

Blogging and china cabinets

Mike and I have been talking about blogging. He says that he can't keep up with mine because I am so prolific. He only updates his about once a week. In his blog, he rants about what he thinks is wrong in society, and about politics, human rights, and talks about the latest book he is reading or movie he feels is important to see. He often talks about censorship. His father was a writer, and very concerned about censorship, so I think it is in his blood. I talk about things that are important to me, like new furniture, cooking, and knitting. It is important to write what we want to write.

Maybe reading a blog is like reading a diary, but I believe it is like reading a conversation. It is a conversation with that person about what is important to them. Or a mini-newsletter. Whatever it is, it has been fun for me to just write about what I am thinking about. And it is not my diary or my journal. It is my hope to make my blog enjoyable, even if what I write about is furniture.

We went to visit the china cabinet at the big store again last night. George and I have now been there three times and this was Michael's second time. He brought a book and found a comfortable leather chair. The short of it is, no pun intended, that the china case as it stands is 3" too high for our alcove. I had given up when the salesman said that the legs could be either taken off, or shortened by a furniture maker, and that it would fit perfectly. George and the salesman laid on the floor of the showroom to check everything out. I would really love to have this china cabinet, but I know that George is very smart about such things, and I would not dream of just begging. Even though I kind of wanted to. After about 10 minutes of this, and with a lot of discussion, George decided that we would "come back". I was a bit disappointed, I'll admit, but I knew that he had a reason, I just didn't know what it was. I didn't think it was money, but $1900 for a china cabinet is not to be sneezed at either.

I asked him later in the car when we had a minute alone together while Michael went to see if they had a new keyboard for me at Circuit City. George said that before we start talking about taking the legs off, he wanted to ask the manufacturer if they had another suggestion. The legs are nice, and taking them completely off would mean that the bottom of the cabinet was right on the floor. The option of sawing them off shorter is something that we want a second or third opinion on.

Gosh I hope I am not boring you to DEATH with all this. I do believe we will get a china cabinet. I do believe that we will have it in time for the Christmas party here on December 11th, and I do believe that it is going to be beautiful in the room and a place to display my lovely antique Noritake china. And I do believe that the Red Sox will win the World Series. Oh, they did.

And I do believe that I wish you all the very best Thanksgiving holiday and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This is the china cabinet that we have talked about so much lately. At 88" high, it will not fit our space, but the bottom is separate and we can use that as a sideboard. Furniture shopping is so exciting! Right? Posted by Hello

Chairs Posted by Hello

Table Posted by Hello

This is the new dining room set.

Christmas Cactus Posted by Hello

This and That

Michael is here! I got that big hug that I have been waiting for. He was here at my computer when I arrived home from work at 4:30 yesterday. I am so happy to have him with us for Thanksgiving. We are lucky that we live so close, he in Washington DC and us in Boston, since life could have taken us on many roads that led further out. Mike is my only son, and the only son I ever wanted. I didn't want other children, because he was enough, and that is still the way I feel now. He is just one great person. I often feel so "motherish" when I talk about him, but he makes me very proud.

I just got an email from the bell choir leader at church. We have rehearsals scheduled to start working on Christmas pieces for church services, including a Swedish service that takes place on a Saturday evening. Last Sunday, I played even though I had not been to practice, and had only 15 minutes of practice before church to learn the whole piece. In rehearsal I did it fine, and everyone thought I did great with no rehearsal. Unfortunatly, during the real deal, I lost my place at the repeat and missed a few measures, and then when I found my way others lost theirs. We definitely needed more rehearsal time together. Since we were playing during communion, I don't think folks noticed our problems, and we all pulled it together somehow, but it was not our best performance. No where to go but up, I always say.

Today the guys come from my organization second hand store to pick up the old dining room table. Now that I have seen the new one, this one looks really bad to me. I can't wait to see it leave. We took Michael to see the Las Vegas style furniture store, Jordan's, last night. He said it was "pretty wild". We went to Beantown, where they sell all things Jellybelly, and we all bought our own flavors and laughed like idiots. Mike went a little crazy and his bag cost over $11.00. I like licorice, George hates coconut and Mike likes pina colada. I bought a Jellybelly called Boston Bean, which we all decided was truly awful because it tasted like beans, and seemed awfully funny at the time. We had fun. We watched the water fountain lazer light show with music, and the trapeze people, and then went to visit the table like the one we bought which is being delivered today.

There is a matching china cabinet that is glorious. Large. Daunting. We have measured and measured again to see if it will fit. There is an alcove in the diningroom where it will fit, covering up three small windows. I wish I had paid more attention when I took an interior decorating class in college. It is hard to decide if having a big china cabinet and a big diningroom table in a small room is too much. It is so beautiful that I have decided to add to the donation an antique ricketty table that now looks shabby in comparison. More to come on that decision. George was willing to buy the bottom only of the cabinet last night, but Mike advised us to wait and see how the table looked. I believe I gave Michael a dirty look. We will see. It will take another visit with the measuring tape I think. I love the dining room table. Oh, it is a beautiful piece of furniture and I can't wait to serve a dinner on it. The name of the pattern is Lane National Geographic. I even like the name!

Lots of fun to be had today. It is 7 a.m. and Mike is already here to help me with my grammar and spelling. Michael just wrote a single sheet writer's reference page which is truly awesome for those of us who are "grammar challenged". This is part of a great website on the journals that we both love. Moleskines.

Hail to Qazadoo! We miss you too! Mike went to the MUSH on Everquest last night and did interviews for our guild, Healers United, while I watched from the sidelines and knit yet another scarf and had him write hellos to all my online friends.

Have a great day everyone. See you tomorrow with pictures.

Monday, November 22, 2004

My kitty Thunder awaits the big day. Posted by Hello

Mike and Mom being silly last Thanksgiving. Can't wait for the sillyness to start this year! Posted by Hello

Mike's kitty Taniko. We call this her glamour shot. Posted by Hello

At Plymouth Plantation, they wear red socks too! Posted by Hello

Michael at the Potomac River. Posted by Hello