Tuesday, July 30, 2013

a kitchen full of lazy cats and a disappointing recipe result...

a kitchen full of lazy cats - please click to make larger to get full effect

Julie is looking at me saying, "what...???"

from another angle

Now I'm posting the result of my recent recipe try-out: the Chocoflan.  The Chocoflan didn't turn out that great.  It was easy to make, but the cake part didn't bake well.  It was supposed to take an hour in 350, but I had to cook it an hour and a half for the cake part to bake firm. It did come out of the pan easy enough and the flan did end up on top, but the taste of the cake part was disappointing... although the flan was good. And I learned that the Mexican Canned Caramel called ? is really very good.  This was for swirling around the pan before the cake batter is put in and also for swirling over the top of the Flan before serving. Well, I could easily just eat this stuff out of the can...

But the true test is whether I would make it again... and the answer is no.  IMO the chocolate cake texture as well as the taste was disappointing.  (However, DH and the boys gobbled it up with no complaints.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The roly-poly earthworm...

One of the many children's stories I wrote for my grand daughter when she was very young...

Willie, the Roly Poly Earthworm
(A bedtime story written by Grandma)

Once upon a time in the land ‘under the porch’ lived a little brown worm.  He was a lovely little worm, all sleek and shiny and long.  And he was a happy little worm… except for one thing.  He worried about things.  One of the things he worried about was why he looked so different from the other members of his family.  He was sleek and shiny and long, and they were all tiny and grey and small.  They could curl themselves up into little balls.  And although he could curl himself up also, he could never curl up as tight as they did. 

One day when he was laying around in the dirt under the porch with his grandma, Mrs. Roly Poly III, he looked sad.  His grandma, who couldn’t bear to see anyone sad, asked him what was wrong.  Willy (that was his name) just put his head down and mumbled something that Mrs. Roly Poly III couldn’t understand. 

“Willy”, she said gently, “You know you can tell me anything. If something is bothering you, please tell me what it is so I can make it better.”

“But it’s silly, Grandma. You will laugh at me if I tell you.”

Coming closer to Willy, Mrs. RP III whispered to him, “Sweetie, I’d never laugh at you for any reason.  I love you.  I might laugh with you if we thought something was funny, but I’d never laugh at you.  And if something is wrong, I’ll do everything in my power to make it right.  Do you believe me, Willy?”

“Yes, Grandma”, he said “I do believe you… and I love you too.”

“Then tell me Sweetie, what’s bothering you?”

And he did.  He told her how he had always wondered why he looked so different from the rest of his family.
His grandma looked at him and smiled.  “Oh Willy”, she said, “There‘s a simple answer to that.  Let’s go over to the big garden and I’ll explain.”

So Willy and his grandma inched their way out from the dirt under the porch and worked their way over to the garden where the dirt was darker and looser and very nice.

“This place is great, Grandma.  How come we haven’t been here before?”

“Well, our people have lived in ‘the dirt under the porch’ for generations. We don’t travel too far from home. But I knew you would like it here.”

“Why is that, Grandma?” Willy asked. “Why did you know I would like it here?”

Mrs. Roly Poly III smiled and said, “Sit down, Sweetie, and let me tell you a story.”

“Do you know the 'big people that live in the house' connected to the porch under which we all live?”

“Yes, there’s a lady, a man, and a little girl.” 

“That’s right. And our story begins with that little girl.”

One day a long time ago, on a Sunday morning, that little girl was playing in the house when she spotted a tiny critter inching his way across the floor.  He was very small and all alone and the little girl felt sorry for him. So she picked him up very carefully and took him outside on the porch.  She didn’t want him to be alone so she put him in ‘the dirt under the porch’ where she knew us Roly Polys lived.

That little critter was you, Willie.  We took you in, cared for you, and came to love you very much.  But the truth is, Willie, that you’re not really a roly poly, you’re actually an earth worm.”

“An earth worm!”  Willy cried, “What’s an earth worm?”

“Well”, his grandma said, “If we sit here in the garden long enough, you’ll see.”

And sure enough, after a bit, there came along a whole string of earth worms, sleek and shiny, long and beautiful gliding in and out of the soft garden dirt like fish through water.

“Wow! Said Willie, they're beautiful!”

After the worms had passed, Willie’s grandma said, “Willie, your Roly Poly family loves you very much.  But we have always known that one day you might want to move over here to the big garden where the dirt is better for earth worms. Do you want to do that now?”

Willie sat thinking quietly for a little while.  Finally he said, “No, Grandma, I want to go back home with you to the dirt under the porch.”

Grandma Roly Poly smiled happily and said, “Then that’s’ just what we’ll do.  Maybe later when you’re older you might want to come back to the big garden.”

So Willy and his grandma returned to their little home in ‘the dirt under the porch’… where all his Roly Poly family waited for him with open arms.

And Willie wasn’t worried anymore.  He had learned some important things:

1.   That he was an earthworm!

2.   That he was loved!


3.   That if you’re worried about something, it’s best to tell someone who loves you.

The End!

(If you haven't already realized this, this story was inspired by the actual happening that my grand daughter told me about... where she found the worm in the house and put him under the porch so he wouldn't be lonely)

and now on to *adult subjects* (nah, that sounds like an R-rated film)...

so-oo back to non-storied post...

I'm attempting to make two new recipes this morning. Both are from the food network.  Yes, I'm running out of 'good TV' and am starting to watch cooking shows. Anyway, this first recipe is a combination chocolate cake and flan.  You swirl caramel in the bottom of a bundt cake pan, then pour in your chocolate batter, then pour the flan on top.  When it comes out, the flan is on the top and the cake is on the bottom... and before you serve it, you swirl a little more caramel across the top.  It looked wonderful. But I'll let you know...

The second recipe is a breakfast bread pudding that you make the night before, refrigerate, and then bake in the morning and serve along with bacon glazed with maple syrup.  Also sounds wonderful, but will let you know...

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

a little of this... and a little of that

figs from our tree

We have 2 fig trees in our yard, a Turkey fig and a Celeste Fig.  The Turkey fig is older and the figs are larger, but the Celeste fig is very prolific and produces very sweet figs. This year we have filled this size bowl maybe 6 times already.  We can't eat enough of them and don't know that many people who like fresh figs, but we have given some away and gave some to my son to take to work. Now the birds, squirrels, and turtles like them, but even with them eating some, we seem to have an over abundance.

I brought another batch to my friend today when we met for coffee.  She loves them and has decided that those she cannot eat, she will dry.  I've always avoided dried fruits and veggies because of my migraine problems.  Anything that contains sulfates, sulfides, preservatives, nitrates, etc. can be a problem for me. However, I wonder if you just dried them without anything else... if they would be safe. My guess would be that you couldn't keep them any length of time.

And I'm guessing that most of you out there have heard of the new *food contamination* problem. They apparently have not be able to find the source, but know only that it is probably contaminated fruit or vegetables (possibly from out of the country). They advise all to wash your fruit and veggies very very well and/or cook them thoroughly.  Well, I don't know about you, but the illness born from this bacteria seems serious enough to just plain avoid fresh fruits and veggies (for the most part) until they find the culprit... unless you're using home-grown (like my figs). Anyway, this is *my plan*.  Tonight we had marinated pork chops, wild rice, corn-on-the cob, and fresh figs!

Oh... one more mention: We switched from Time-Warner Cable to AT&T a few months back (supposedly to save us money - that didn't actually happen) and by doing so, lost the Hallmark Channel (which I loved). So I've been biding my time till our contract is up and plan to change back unless the Hallmark Channel is re-instated.  However, lately all I see are advertisements saying that AT&T is getting ready to drop CBS where what few programs I do like exist.  If I wasn't brought up better, I would say, "WTF"?  Now I'm down to KERA and the Cooking Channel or Food Network... and I'm beginning to wonder if what we pay per month is worth these few shows?  It's odd to have hundreds of channels, but so few worth watching...

Monday, July 22, 2013

New cookie recipe...

White chocolate coconut macadamia nut cookies

Yes, I'm baking again.  On DH's birthday (since we seldom give gifts these days), I picked up some new Lindt Chocolate bars. We always get the dark chocolate with sea salt, but this time I picked up a dark chocolate with sea salt and caramel as well as a white chocolate coconut.  Both are very good!

I'm not a white chocolate nor coconut lover, but I have to say that this white chocolate coconut is so buttery and flavorful that I decided to try using it as a base for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. So this morning being the typical Monday morning... nothing special... I decided to cheer it up with my cookie try-out!  Needless to say, it was a success.  I only made half a recipe... so maybe just a little short of 2 dozen cookies.  Baked half of that and left the other half of the dough for tomorrow. So-oo good (even the dough is good).

new find: white coconut !

Another reason that this cookie try-out went over so well this morning is because I spent the better part of the morning paying and organizing bills.... (putting Medicare and Supplement papers together, etc.). So I think I needed a treat...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a rainy Monday morning...

Back in 2002 when Rose was still and inside/outside cat, she enjoyed the heck out of teasing Molly (who we only allowed outside then when we were out with her).  As you can see in the above picture, Rose is laying in the bird feeder taunting Molly. Molly was incensed, hissing and fussing and thoroughly put out.  Not long after that, Rose broke her leg (either got it caught on a fence or by a dog - Vet wasn't sure) but from then on, she became an 'inside' only cat.

BTW, today is DH's birthday!  Yes, our birthdays are just 9 days apart. I made him his 'birthday breakfast' which consisted of eggs over easy, grits, Canadian bacon, and whole wheat toast...  not terribly exciting, but we went out to The Original Pancake House this weekend and he got Strawberry Crepes there.  We don't have anything special planned.  Kids may drop by this evening for Birthday Cake (DH wanted a Central Market Cheesecake, so we went and picked one up a little while ago).

The weather has been great yesterday and today... drizzling and cool... in the lower 70's.  It won't last but we're enjoying it while we can.

I 'organized' all my knitting and crochet yesterday - putting various types of yarn together in boxes, tools and instructions together, and active and inactive projects.  This is something I've been meaning to do.  For a while it was scattered about several rooms and shelves.  Now at least it's all together.  I have only 2 projects active at this time - a baby blanket that is a little over half complete and a large 100 percent cotton dish towel that I had started a while back, left it, and have now resumed. It is also almost done. (I have this thing for dish towels.  I like them made of a certain material and I like to have an abundance of clean ones about - ???)

Have been reading some of my old writings, but so far the muse is still 'on vacation' and no stories are spinning around in my head.  This could be a good thing as sometimes my head is so full of 'stuff' that it gets a bit confusing in there.  But the thing is... when I'm immersed in a project like writing a story, it's kind of like an adrenaline rush... and it's very addictive (but in a good way).

Speaking of addictive...

Friday, July 12, 2013

back on track...

OK, my day of feeling unfulfilled is over and I've decided to see about starting writing again.  I haven't had my writing muse visit in some time, so I'm going to jump start myself by re-reading some of my old stories.

These are just stories that pop into my head from time to time and I write them down... some are short, some are fairly long.  Anyway, I thought I'd invite you to read along (if you're so inclined... not a problem if you're not as I've not a lot of time to read any really long blogs myself).  But again, I could use the feedback.  However, I do realize that these are not up to professional writer standards... just scenarios that take on a life of their own inside my head.

I'm going to start with "Whisperings".  It's a semi-science fiction story about a higher life form infiltrating our world in a compassionate long term process for the ultimate good of man-kind.  It's written in 4 parts - none of which are very long.

And for those who do not wish to read my ramblings, I'll post some more pictures of things that interest me and may be of interest to you.

The first are pictures from one of my favorite watercolor books "Drawing Closer" by Carolyn Blish:

and a few pages from her book...

I would love to be able to watercolor like this. The third painting is my favorite as there's something about how gulls land that fascinates me... (you really need to click on these pictures and see them larger to appreciate them).

Next is just a few of Ann Purser's cozy mysteries that I enjoy reading.  These pictured are the Ivy Beasley series (3).  At the moment I'm almost finished the Lois Meade series (about 12).

And lastly... I'm posting a picture that a friend posted on Facebook recently that I thought was amazing...


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Strange day...

I'm having one of those 'can't get anything accomplished' days.  I've cleaned my kitchen, read and answered blogs, made a few phone calls, washed clothes, put a few things in the garage that have been cluttering up my computer room, played with the cats, practiced piano, washed and folded a load of clothes, and have a roast in the oven.  Now that sounds like I've accomplished a few things, but it doesn't feel like it. Must be me...

Mama cat with 3 black and white kittens

I was reading somewhere about how retirees spend their time and even though I generally keep busy with the house, grand kids, cats, blogging, pottery, reading, sketching, photography, cooking, meeting friends for lunch, etc. (and keeping all the paperwork organized/semi-organized), some days just seem 'un-fullfilled'...

Then again  I may be experiencing grand daughter withdrawal. 

Kittens in tree

Kittens eating

Can't think of anything of interest to add...  except that I've been reading the Ann Purser cozy English village mysteries lately. I had already read the Ivy Beasley ones and some of the Lois Meade's... but am now on Tragedy at Two (more Lois Meade).  I do enjoy these.  (Finished Dan Brown's Inferno about a week ago... interesting, but not especially enjoyable.)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Then... and now

a few years ago...

and now...

As you who read my blog know, our grand daughter just spent a week with us. She is great with the cats and spends a lot of her time either playing with them (Jack misses her already) or taking pictures of them as well as the outside cats, raccoons, possums (we have a tiny one that visits these days), etc. She will sit for hours perfectly still waiting for them to come close. Or she will don rubber boots and head out by the creek looking for turtles and snakes.  Yes, she is a natural born nature-lover.  You can find more pics of her riding at an early age here.  (just scroll down to "Grand daughter and her horses")

But when she's here in Dallas, she misses her horses, dogs, cats, and turtles back home.  Luckily she has an iPhone and can use it to see and talk to them daily... as well as her family and friends (kind of like skyping?)

Loving animals seems to run in the family as even our youngest grand daughter (7 mons) seems to be fascinated with the cats and gets so excited when she sees them.  She wants to grab them... and occasionally does.  Luckily they don't seem to mind.  (We don't let her grab Rose... Rose is a bit unpredictable).  And recently she found the pink horse (which use to be other GD's when she was young) and is crazy about it . We have to laugh as she actually jumps up and down on it like she's 'posting'...

She likes to feel the fur...

Here she is jumping up and down hanging onto the mane...

and lastly here is a picture of that tiny possum that has become a nightly visitor...

we call him 'Tossum' (for tiny possum - original, yes?)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July from Texas!

Happy 4th of July to all!

I know that I've been away enjoying my time at Bailey's Cove and haven't even taken the time to read blogs or post...  and part of that is also due to the fact that my grand daughter is here with us this past week and we have spent some time back in the RW running around visiting museums, taking walks in parks, petting horses, and buying a new Russian Tortoise.  

Today is the 4th of July and I thought I'd jump in here and say Happy 4th!  Our neighborhood parade is coming down the block soon so I can't be long blogging.  But I did notice that my reading blogs are gone.  I guess that's what was meant by Google reading disappearing on July 1st??  I did (I think) transfer the blogs I follow to an archive with another reader, but I'm not sure exactly how to find it. 

I will try to update and catch up on my reading if I can find the blogs I follow...  in the next few days.  My birthday (68!!!) is this weekend, so the kids may be over, but I should have some time on Sunday.

Here are a few pics grand daughter took: 

 Lone Ranger (one of the mama cats' black kitten) climbing tree in back yard.

Mama raccoon standing ....

bunny we saw in park

and giant gold nugget on quartz that we saw in the Perot Museum this week.  It was huge!