Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Autumn Assortment Edition

I simply could not think of theme this week.  This happens.  I'm ok with it so I think you should be, too.

Also, I am in no condition to categorize tonight.  You are going to have to infer for yourself exactly what is pretty, happy, funny, and real in this post.  I can't hold your hands all the time.

And chronological order, we begin with an unexpected treat any time of the year (for frugal people like us), but especially in October:

I had the opportunity to spend a weekend down the shore.  And because I am a ninny and somehow left my car and the keys to it in two different places, The Vicar had to come and rescue me.  And when dinner time rolled around we thought, well, we gotta eat, and we're down the shore, and it's practically a law that when you're down the shore you gotta eat seafood, and...I'm not sure how we justified going for the lobster part but we did and, you know, when in Rome...

Point is, if you're ever in LBI, in Surf City to be exact, check out the Blue Claw Cafe'.  Everything was fresh and delish and prices weren't bad for fresh seafood down the shore!


Ok, so maybe I can muster up enough strength to categorize a leetle bit.  I was sitting at the dining room table going through recipes and menus.  The Vicar was sitting near me doing...something.  I wasn't really paying attention.  But I suddenly sensed that he had been very still and very quiet for rather a long while. This is very unlike him.  So I looked up and should have known.  Some men bring out all of their guns to spread them out and clean them.  (And don't get me wrong, The Vicar does that, too, but) Others bring out all of their...what are these things?  Phones?  Does he have four phones?  Is that possible?  Do you see that I don't even know what they are or whether he has more than one?  I really have no clue what is going on here, but it has the rare ability to make The Vicar still and quiet for more than ten minutes (he wasn't even aware that I had taken his picture) and it amused me.  And so I share it with you.

And then we took a trip to Virginia to visit Redheaded Snippet.  We hugged and laughed, we went out to eat, we watched a game, we got to know her (very sweet and very kind) roommate, and had an all-around good and much-needed time together.  Oh yeah, and while driving around looking for a place to resolve a potty emergency for one of us (who shall remain nameless),  we stumbled across The Vicar's favourite place on earth:

KRISPY KREME!  Where not only was the light on but you could actually watch the donuts being made and glazed right before your very eyes.  This is the liquid goo phase taking place.

They had spider web donuts for Halloween.  And since the University's mascot is a spider, we bought a couple for Redheaded Snippet and her roommate.

I love this shot.  They didn't know I was taking it and are just laughing at each other in their goofy hats.  They are so stinking adorable!

Of course, after a moment, they saw the camera and then this happened.  Calvin is just playing it cool.  The Vicar...well...this is pretty typical for him.

On our last morning in Virginia a most amazing thing happened.  We went out for brunch and I ordered hot tea.  And when the waitress came back and presented the tea selections in that fancy box many restaurants have, I was shocked to find it full of these darling little boxes of MY FAVOURITE TEA!  And not just MY FAVOURITE TEA, but the FAVOURITE TEA that I cannot find in the store anymore!  One store used to carry it and now they've closed.  I was so excited and the waitress was so delighted in my excitement that she slipped me three more small boxes when no one was looking!  She got a mighty good tip, let me tell you! And now I have three precious tea bags to save for special occasions!

This is just a shot I found on my phone that I thought was pretty cute.  Calvin took it of his sweet, litltle guinea pig, Zelda.  He often takes her up to his room to frolic around on his bed while he does his homework.  It looks like he had her cuddled up in his blanket here and just wanted to record the memory for posterity.  He loves her so very much.

Here we have another favourite Autumn meal: Welsh Rarebit Souffles.  This recipe is from Two Fat Ladies.  I happened to catch a rerun of one of their shows years ago and they were making these.  Somehow, I had enough presence of mind to snatch up a pen and piece of paper and jot the thing down.

It's one of those quick, easy, inexpensive, and hearty meals that I love to make and my family loves to eat. Just toast up some good bread (in this case I used a marble rye but sourdough is another favourite), mix together 3 egg yolks with 2 cups of shredded cheddar, a good dose of Worcestershire sauce, a dash (or more, if you like) of hot sauce, 2 Tablespoons dry mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.  Then whip 4 egg whites to stiff peak stage, fold the whites in with the cheese mixture, then plop onto the toasts, making sure the bread is covered completely.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until fluffy and just starting to brown.  These are great with our favourite Orchard Salad with apple and pear slices and an apple cider vinaigrette.  We especially like to eat it in front of the fire.  It's stick-to-your-ribs good!


Finally, this, as my real submission, is what the dining room table looked like after what started out as a simple weekly chore turned into a fit of Let's-Clean-Out-My-Binder-And-Look-Up-New-Recipes-And-Meals insanity.  It looked like this for WEEKS as I was so exhausted from the effort that I could barely bring myself to look at it let alone clean it up.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I also don't know how to explain the large box containing a very vicious-looking air soft gun.  That wasn't me.  It played absolutely no part in the binder madness.

Anyway, I am happy to report that the table has since been cleared and the binder cleaned out.  Now we'll see if that helps me get my act together, meal wise.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Lookin' and Cookin' Edition

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Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life--every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter
So, in case you didn't know, Saturday was Museum Day Live! an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket... for free.  If you did not know about it, I'm sorry.  But I, myself, didn't know about it until late Friday night and so was unable to alert the masses, er, the three people that seem to read this blog with any regularity.

Anyway, scads of museums around the country participated, tickets were available online, Calvin and I needed something to do on Saturday (the weather being gorgeous and The Vicar being otherwise occupied all dang day), and a museum we've been wanting to visit was on the list so we up and went!

See Calvin down there?  That is one huge fireplace!

We went to the Glencairn Museum, part of the Bryn Athyn Historic district in Pennsylvania.  Once a private home, it is now a museum housing mythological and religious antiquities from all over Europe and the Middle East.

I have always loved having a son who loves art, history, and museums in general.  He wanted to look at everything and read every plaque.  He got a big kick out of this fireplace!

*drool* am I right?

Calvin and I both figure that if the world of Harry Potter were real and we had been able to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we would both have been sorted into the house of Ravenclaw.  We've also been working on trying to make his room look as much like a Ravenclaw boys' dormitory as possible. We decided this room pretty much fits what we imagine the Common Room would look like.  Calvin wanted to live here.

Through the keyhole, trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful grounds beyond.

The fountain in a small garden tucked away in a courtyard.  It was so restful and soothing.  Now Calvin is after The Vicar to install one somewhere on the church property!


Something about the Autumn air makes me want to cook up all sorts of hearty, delicious things.  It's like this every year.  Something about the Winter air makes me want to cook, too.  And I like cooking pretty well in the Spring, as well.  Basically, I hate cooking in Summer and am always just so glad to get back into the kitchen when Autumn rolls around again that I sometimes go a little nuts.

But sometimes, when the air is crisp and the leaves are starting to fall, you just need a big ole pot of stick-to-your-ribs, man-pleasin' chili!  I love chili!  It's so easy and inexpensive and The Vicar's eyes just light up whenever he's seen that I've made it.  WIN!

And what's chili without cornbread?  Well, I'll tell you: DOWNRIGHT STUPID.  Chili without cornbread is like French onion soup without that thick slab of bread floating on the top.  So, yeah, unthinkable is what it is.  In this case, I've made corn pudding which is even better (if you can imagine such a thing) than cornbread.  It's a cornbread that must be eaten with a spoon.  And talk about easy!

And then, of course, there was the night the bananas were threatening to turn.  I could smell those bananas throughout the entire house and just knew if I didn't light that oven and start rummaging around in my baking cupboard I was going to wind up with a soggy, banana-scented fruit fly condominium on the kitchen counter.

And, lo! banana bread to the rescue!  Chocolate banana bread, to be precise.  I tried to make it chocolate banana rum bread but, apparently, I didn't use enough rum.  The Vicar did that thing I love where he mumbles that this is awesome with a mouth so full I can hardly understand him.  Still, next time, next time, he will taste rum!


Months ago, Nutmeg broke through this door in her frantic attempt to escape the basement and be ever closer to The Vicar (she is seriously obsessed with him).  We haven't gotten around to fixing it yet. Yesterday, the big galoot found a use for it when it came time to vacuum.  She always disappears when the big, bad, noisy monster comes out of the closet, but this time we couldn't find her in her usual places.  Calvin found her hiding behind the door with her head poking through the hole she had made.


This was the only closeup shot I was allowed to take of Calvin during our tour of the museum.  Don't ask me why he had to have the sweatshirt balled up on his head.  It was one of the conditions he insisted on before giving consent.  I think, perhaps, he thought if he gave me a bad photo of him, I would be loath to use it and he would, in his passive-aggressive way, win the photo battle.  He don't know me very well, do he?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Fall Fever Edition

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Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.  Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter

It's Fall, y'all!

And I, for one, couldn't be happier!  Fall, besides being probably the best season of them all, means that we have survived another obnoxious, sweltering Summer and are the farthest from it that we'll be all year!  Nine months before we have to suffer the next one!  Huzzah!

This cool, crisp weather, especially when accompanied by the glorious sunshine we've been enjoying, makes me downright giddy.  Makes me want to add apples or pumpkin spice to everything.  Tonight, for dinner, I made a salad that contained apples and pears, with a dressing made with apple cider and apple cider vinegar and poured glasses of apple cider to drink with our pork chops and roasted asparagus and all The Vicar could say was, "Hmmm, it's quite appley."  He doesn't share my appreciation, apparently.


I've been busy as a bee decking the halls with leaves and pumpkins fa la la la la la la la la.  It's always fun decorating a new house for the first time.  And here's what I've come up with (keep in mind I'm making do with what I have--though I did spend about $10 at a dollar store for a few small extras).


I neglected to get a photo of the front and side doors of the house, which have been festooned with corn stalks and mums.  You know, the usual.  But just inside the front door, is this small table (honestly, I just needed a place to stash this table and something to fill this small space--decorating by convenience).  That's an early shot of me and The Vicar back there, many many eons ago.  Like last century.

Dresser in the foyer.  A handy place to stash a bowl to hold our keys and sunglasses.  And an epi-pen, apparently...

I admit, I got this idea from Pinterest.  I've had all this stuff for ages but I never would have thought to put it together this way.  Also, another positively ancient photo of The Vicar and me, taken during a college production of Romeo and Juliet in which he and I were Lord and Lady Montague.  One of my favorite mementos ever.

Ah, the mantel.  The amount of time I've spent arranging and rearranging this slab of wood is probably sinful. And I'm pretty sure I'm not very repentant.  I had a ball doing it.  At one point whilst I was fussing over it, The Vicar wandered in and said, bemusedly, "You've been waiting all your life for a mantel of your own, haven't you."  And he's right: I have.  Additionally: ancient photo hat trick!

Finally, the dining room table and another Pinterest idea.  I found this tray at Goodwill for $2.  I bought two candles at Walmart for a few bucks each.  The rest of the stuff I had in my stash.  In the Summer, the candles were surrounded by river rocks and in the Winter I plan on using pinecones and maybe a few paper snowflakes.


Yes, more field hockey stuff.  It's Fall.  It's field hockey season.  And Redheaded Snippet is happier than she's ever been.  I can't help it.  The above was taken at a team dinner the night before the game against Columbia.

I never would have guessed that my first visit to Harlem would be for something as preppy and suburban as a field hockey game.  But so it was.  As well as being the fastest, smoothest trip in and out of New York I have ever experienced.  Let me tell you, we were pretty happy about that!

In addition to loving the coaching staff and her teammates, our Snippet is also having a pretty wonderful Freshman season.  I'm not supposed to brag too much about it; it gets on her nerves when I do...

...but I'm not the only one who thinks her performance has been noteworthy!  She was named Rookie of the Week of the A-10 conference this week!  As an added bonus, one of her teammates was named Player of the Week.  It's all been very exciting!


Ok, I didn't plan on having mugs as my Funny selection two weeks in a row.  It  just happened.  A friend posted a link for these on Facebook today and they're just about the funniest thing I've seen all week!  And, yes, they're real!  You can actually buy them!  When I showed them to The Vicar he said, "So, should I start buying these for you, piece by piece, and put the Le Creuset collection on hold?"  Because it's like $80 for the set!  They must be purchased in stages for people like us.  $80 for a set of mugs is ridiculous.  But I told him yes anyway.

I think my favorite is, "I am figuratively dying for a cuppa."  Drives me NUTS when people throw the word,"literally," around all willy-nilly and incorrectly.


Finally, this is what your car looks like when it's the first day of Fall and you're out gallivanting with your mom and you find/remember thar produce stand that has the nice, gorgeous mums and big, beautiful, full cornstalks at truly incomparable prices (the cornstalks are tied to the roof).

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Cackalacky Edition

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Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.  Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter
South Cackalacky, to be precise.

That's right, South Carolina! I was fortunate enough to be able to make a trip down to visit Dharma & Co. last week. For no reason whatsoever other than I wanted to and could. How revolutionary is that? All thanks to my new life with my new schedule.

Let me 'splain.

With The Vicar working mere steps away and available at almost any point in any given day, Calvin back in public school, and Redheaded Snippet (formerly my biggest schedule packer) five hours away and responsible for her own schedule now, I have a lot more time on my hands. Well, not really on my hands, you know. I still have the household to run and there are more things involving church (living here and all) and, really, it seems my schedule before was kind of borderline nuts and now, well, now it is actually nicely balanced between busy and relaxed. I feel like a normal person, able to accomplish what I need to and keep everything running smoothly without too much angst. I figure it will go back to chaos mode once Calvin starts high school in two years but, for now, I'm enjoying the heck out of it.

Beginning with gadding about down to So Car with Daria (who came to visit after Redheaded Snippet left in an effort to keep the house from feeling too empty), staying for a few days, husband- and child-free (it was weird, but nice), with my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces, and taking the train back up to Philly by myself.

It was an adventure. Not really, it was peaceful and relaxing.  And pretty, happy, funny, and real.

And I can prove it.

Just look at sweet Lulubee!  She is the sunniest, sweetest, most sociable baby!  I had a blast holding and playing with her every chance I got!


Silly time with the nieces.  'Nuff said.

And is there really anything quite so happy as having a baby fall snuggly to sleep on you?  Especially if you managed to lull her to sleep just by singing to her?


This is what I discovered when I opened one of Dharma's kitchen cupboards to get a mug for tea.  Vance is a mad-scientist chemist (Doofenschmirtz Evil Incorporated anyone?) and, apparently, they have their own swag mugs.  With elements on them.  Dharma says he has lots of them.  I wonder if he has one for every element?  I dunno, I didn't ask.

Also, in the funny department, though this didn't happen while I was there (I WISH IT HAD), is this silliness...

Apparently, today was International Talk Like a Pirate day and, in celebrations, Krispy Kreme was giving away a free donut to everyone who talked like a pirate and a free dozen to anyone who dressed like one.

So, Dharma did what any mother who has a tight budget and great need for something fun to do with young children (not to mention donuts) would do: dressed everyone up and got in the car!

Argh, thar be treasure, mateys!  That's quite a few donuts!  And I totally love the fact that Dharma took the time to paint a mustache on Fidget and a big, nasty scar on Rosebud!  Hilarious!


And, finally, guess who is having the time of her life going to college and playing field hockey?  And guess who scored the first goal in the first game of the season?  And guess who has played every game and started in all of them but the first?  And who leads the team in goals scored?  And who is, more importantly, taking every opportunity to share the love of Jesus with everyone she meets and being a light to those around her? Why, that Redheaded Snippet over in the far left of that photo.  She is so incredibly happy (almost put her in the Happy section) and we are so relieved and proud of her that we almost have to pinch ourselves to make sure this is real.  But real it is, and for that we are incredibly thankful!

Where have you been able to find contentment lurking this week?  Sniff it out and show it to us!