Thursday, July 24, 2014

Home-made granola...

Home-made Granola

This is a picture of the Home-made Granola that I have fallen in love with.  I've never been much of a fan of any kind of cereal (although I do like oatmeal and cream of wheat in winter). So granola has never even come up when it came to breakfast. Well, a friend of mine had made some and had me try it when I was over at her place. She had originally made it with raisins and found that the dried fruit made the granola less crisp, so she made the one I was tasting with nuts only, no fruit. It was delicious! Such a good roasted nutty taste... and big chunks (for the most part) not pulverized like some you see. 

Anyway, I've made it twice since and think it makes a really good healthy breakfast or snack. So I'm sharing the recipe here. Remember, you can add raisins or dried fruit... but be prepared to lose the crunchiness.

Home-made Granola:

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats and not steel)
2 cups + nuts (I use almonds, macadamia, pecans, and cashews)


1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat to 325. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
2.  Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl. Whisk in oil until mixture is emulsified - oil is no longer separated.
3.  Fold in oats and nuts and mix until thoroughly covered.
4 . Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread in thin even layer (3/8 inch).  Using the flat end of a measuring cup, compress oat mixture until very compact (this is important).
5.  Bake until light-medium golden (40 - 45mins) rotating pan once about half way through. 
6.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.

*Granola can be stored in air-tight container* 

As you can see, Julie is always on hand to help me cook... 

Now the next pictures are ones I took after thoroughly cleaning my china cabinet. This gets done 2, possibly 3 times a year. I do the outside shelves more often, but taking down all the crystal on the inside is generally only done before Thanksgiving and Christmas...(when they might be needed) and occasionally in the summer. I don't mind doing it, but just need to set aside the time to spend on it. As you know, sometimes these things need a loving hand... and time to remember how and where that particular piece came into one's possession. It's a literal walk down memory lane.

I have given many pieces away to my daughter and other family members... and will continue to do so... as time goes by. When mom lived with us, we had both her china cabinet as well as mine to deal with. Now we're down to just one.

The cabinet itself is old and was bought in the 70's. It's showing the wear and tear of the years... but it's still a fixture in our house. I always liked crystal and liked letting the kids use it on holidays. Because of this we don't have a lot left... but that's OK. I believe it should be *used* and enjoyed, not hidden away. The china patterns you see are cups/saucers and salad plates that I collected over the years to use for tea or luncheons, showers, etc. I like the eclectic look of using various patterns. The big flat black rock on the bottom left shelf I picked up in Ireland (I really like rocks!). It's one of my favorite things.

This is a picture of the same cabinet after taking everything down, cleaning, and displaying it a bit differently. Nothing is terribly expensive, but each has it's own sentimental value. My mom's china pattern is displayed on the bottom right here. It's a New Orleans pattern... called "Orleans" I believe.

Son and grand daughter dropped by Saturday. She is at the age where climbing is her new adventure. She decided to climb into her grandpa's chair and was very content to play around in it...

And she has discovered the stairs... (I do think a child thinks climbing stairs is the ultimate in fun activities). We tried to put a gate across it, but she stands there shaking the gate until it comes down (she is persistent at 20 months).

Sorry if pictures are a bit blurry as they were taken with my iPhone and she doesn't keep still for very long...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

figs, purple peppers, peach torte, and English TV...

It's the middle of July and our Celeste Fig Tree is producing like crazy!  We gave away about 6 dozen figs to friends on Wednesday and DH just picked 8 dozen more. We love fresh figs (as do the birds and the squirrels), but this tree is an over-achiever. We can't eat them fast enough (and I only like them fresh - not canned or preserved, etc.) But we have some friends that use them in various ways - so we try to give them away in bulk.

This is the second batch DH just picked. We really like the Celeste Figs. They are sweet.  We do have a Turkey Fig  in backyard, but it produces very large (not as sweet) fruit. We let the birds and squirrels have those.

BTW, are any of you familiar with *purple* Bell Peppers? Not red - purple! They also had the (what I call normal) red, yellow, orange, and green peppers - as well as these *purple* and even some *white* ones. This was at Central Market this morning.

I've been baking a bit too. Made a fresh peach torte Wednesday and a peach bread pudding with amaretto sauce yesterday. Why? Because my peaches were about to go bad if I didn't use them... as well as 3/4 of a loaf of egg bread with raisins! We had company Wednesday so the torte was eaten, but we may be having bread pudding for breakfast for a while....

On a different note, do any of you watch "Doc Martin" on PBS?  I've watched PBS shows for ages, but Doc Martin is fairly new to me.  I love the little English coastal town where the show is produced... so quaint!

A few pics:

my chick and his hatch-mate

squirrel outside front window doing acrobats to get birdseed

Thursday, July 17, 2014

cats... social pariah or blessings in disquise

our cats being helpful
Met some friends yesterday evening for supper. Then we came back to our house for coffee and dessert... and talk. We don't do this very often because of the cats. Sounds sad, but we've learned over the years that there are a lot of people out there that are either allergic or simply don't like (or believe it or not, are afraid) of cats. Years ago when we lived in another neighborhood, one of our neighbors was so allergic that he sneezed constantly when visiting, and another was scared of all critters...

So outside of our close friends (who love cats) as well as family members, we usually plan to meet others at a restaurant or whatever rather than invite them into our home.  However, these particular people are old friends that I grew up with as well as went to college with. We just haven't seen them often over the years. They recently moved here and hopefully we will be able to incorporate each other back into our lives. So we did the "halfway thing"... we met them at a restaurant first, then invited them back to the house after.  We did lock the cats up in our bedroom before we left so our friends wouldn't be overwhelmed (at least on this first visit). Three of our 5 cats are very people-friendly and would think nothing of jumping into someone's lap (this is what would scare the bejeebees out of our critter-scary neighbor). But... after all, it is their house, right?

They (our cats) know that we kind of build our life around them (sort of like child proofing). We replaced the carpet with cat-friendly slate and ceramic tile (easily steam cleaned).  We use a strange heavy centerpiece for our front room table in order to keep the tablecloth on when flying cats zoom across it chasing one another. We keep a sheet over our master bed quilt to keep the amount of hair down, and we never leave out breakables close to the end of anything because Julie likes to bat them off... etc., etc.

Such is life with cats. We've accepted this. It makes for a more harmonious life. But we do sacrifice some things. That's the way it is. I can't have a beautiful arrangement of real flowers out as the cats would eat them. I can't set a china and crystal table and expect it not to be inspected by many tiny free-flying paws. So we don't put out flowers and we only have special table settings on Thanksgiving and Christmas (and the cats are sent to the master bedroom to await until the danger is past - but they are duly rewarded with ample samples of turkey and the like after).

And like with kids (and grandkids), DH and I wouldn't find life quite the same without them. They make a mess sometimes (both kids and cats), but on the whole, they make you smile a whole lot more. So... perhaps the small sacrifices are worth it in the end. We think so.

Tux and Ghost cozying up
Please let me sleep...
me too...

Monday, July 14, 2014

visiting a friend... quilting, and cats

old fashion stove in tool shed

Hello everyone! Just wanted you to see this old fashion stove in my friend's tool shed. I spent a few days this week working on my quilted valence at her place.  This picture is of the large work shed where their cats and kittens are fed.

You can see the 2 mama cats and their 6 kittens.
One is fond of sleeping under the 4-wheeler...

As I said previously, we worked hard cutting and piecing together the squares I would need to make the quilted valence. Although we didn't finish, we did get most of the basic work done. We will need to add one more row of squares at the bottom (as it wasn't quite deep enough when I took it home and checked it out), and then stuff it, quilt it, and put a border on.

Here's what we have so far...

The 2 valences are lying on a green cutting mat.  Eventually it will have a brown border that matches the one on the bed quilt.

And since my friend is a quilting addict, I thought I'd share a few of the many quilts in varying stages of completion around her house. She appliques on them also.

This is her Texas quilt she has hung up on a wall. You can't see all the little applique areas, but they're there.

close-up of applique butterflies

The next one is a baby quilt she made recently. The giraffe has tiny tuffs of black hair... so cute!

And there are several more:

log cabin pattern

close up of log cabin pattern

Christmas tree

My favorite pattern is the log cabin one.  I had planned to use that pattern until I saw the one we ended up making hanging up in a quilt shop.  But I still love the log cabin and if we ever make another, it definitely will be that.

That's about all I have to post today. I've been out of the house most of this week and have fallen behind in my reading and commenting, but I will try to catch up soon.  Rose, one of our old cats (21+) is limping on her right rear leg. We're watching her and it seems to be getting better. She jumps down from our kitchen counter and at her age she may have aggravated an old injury.  When she was an outside cat (one of those that show up in our yard) she broke her leg and we had to take her to the Vet to have it set and cast (that's when she became an inside cat). Anyway, she seems to be doing a little better this morning... putting a little weight on it... and not hopping about so much.

So I'll leave you with a pic of Rose and my new *grabber* I found at Walmart (which helps me get things that fall behind the washing machine)... and a few pics of Tux and Julie with grand daughter's dinosaur that she dragged into the kitchen.

Rose and grabber

Have a good week!
(Oh, I forgot to mention, my friend had made a great granola recipe that I sampled while visiting... and have since made it here at home for DH and me (Tux liked it too!).  It's mostly oats and nuts, but you can add dried fruit if you like. I like it without the fruit as it stays crunchy longer. Anyway, I will post it later in the week.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I have a birthday chick!

my birthday chick
Look at this darling little chick.  She hatched this morning at my daughter's place in the Hill Country. So since she hatched on my birthday, she's mine!  Grand daughter said that she would send her/him to me, but I told her that with a house-full (and yard full) of cats, that it would be better for her to stay there and be safe. But she could still be mine. Now we have to come up with a name. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

The mama is actually sitting on 2 more eggs, but so far today... nothing.

The following are pics taken in our backyard recently:

Mama raccoon (on right) and her 5 babies in backyard yesterday evening

black mama kitty watching turtle eat catfood

BTW, I spent my birthday quietly - with DH and I having strawberry crepes at the Original Pancake House this morning, talking to my kids (& texting), as well as thanking people for their "Happy Birthday" wishes on Facebook (I'm not a big Facebook user, but I do go on occasionally to check in and see what's going on with friends and family). The rest of the day was spent doing a little more cleaning and work on my ancestry research. Did find some info on *family* (which is a free site).

Next picture is my grand daughter working with her horse at a Cross-Country Training camp this weekend. I'm told that she had a bit of an accident on one jump. Apparently Hemi (her horse) is a little unused to jumping ditches. So he got a little excited after jumping one and was doing a series of bucks and kicks (according to grand-daughter he was happy and excited at the same time). But unfortunately she lost her stirrup and her seat... and fell with one foot still caught up in the stirrup. So she came down hard on her head and arm.  She is OK... (hard hat took the brunt I'm told), but her arm is still giving her trouble. It's sore and stiff today. However, she did get back on and finish the run.

And lastly I have to post this picture of youngest grand daughter with her cat.  I wanted to post the video of her hugging her, but for some reason can't get it to work.  So this will have to do.  As you can see, we are a family of cat lovers...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


cafe' au lait at the Cafe du monde  (Delicious!!)

Do you know what a "puissant" is? Most people wouldn't. Yet my mom and aunts used this word all the time when we were growing up in New Orleans. When used pertaining to us children it meant we were being 'a bit intolerable, but charming..' almost a term of endearment... but quirky endearment.  It apparently is an archaic word... of french derivative. The definition for puissance is from old french meaning power or influence (like the influence of an older sibling over a younger one or possibly the influence of a child over a parent?). I just came across it in a book I was reading... and thought, "huh? Could this be the word our parents' used? Possibly. When they used it, it was pronounced "piss-ant", but this is the closes spelling I've ever come across.

A while back my cousins and I were conjuring up words that our mothers used that are no longer in our vocabulary today. One was banquette... which is New Orleans french for side-walk.  When we were playing outside, mama always said to "stay on the banquette". Some others were lagniappe (a little something extra), neutral ground (median- strip of ground in middle of street), locker (closet), make doe doe (from the french dormir meaning to go to sleep), mange'r (eat!) ma cher'e (my dear) embrasser (to kiss). Of course if one still lives in New Orleans, most of these words are probably still in use (but not in Texas!).

Since we've lived here in Texas since 1971, I suppose we are honorary Texans. And we do love Texas. But as time goes by and we visit family back home in New Orleans, we've come to realize that it's a whole different world - one we miss to some extent, yet not living any of our adult lives there - (we married in New Orleans right after both graduating from LSUBR and left) - it's not our world anymore. It's our family's home and we love it,  but our children and grandchildren were raised in Texas. Sometimes I wonder if we should consider moving back in our retirement years. And as much as I would like to be closer to family, I can't imagine that happening. Everything we know is here. Could/should we even consider uprooting? We could just make more frequent visits?  Anyway, these thoughts pop up in my head occasionally. I personally don't think DH would consider moving - period! But you never know...

Our boys are here, but who knows if they will stay put. They're always considering taking jobs elsewhere and moving the family. Our daughter and her family are in the Hill Country around San Antonio and that's actually a wonderful retirement area.  But again... I don't know. What it boils down to is that it's not the right time. Our long time next door neighbors just moved to a retirement village (very large and very nice) last year. They down-sized and seem happy with their decision. But again... I don't believe that it's the right time for us. We're still getting used to just being retired - finding our way - creating our elder years (so to speak).

Moving on to other topics...

I had my ultrasound (or sonogram) done yesterday. They did 2; one abdominal  and one pelvic. The whole thing took about 45 mins. Glad that's over. Don't know when I'll get results, but not in any hurry anyway.  When we came home (DH came with me), we ate a bit of lunch... and I fell asleep. Was exhausted for whatever reason... but slept really well for several hours.

This morning I walked in the park with a friend. It was not too hot and there was a nice breeze blowing. Then we sat in the shade and talked for a bit. It was nice. We need to do this more often.

This Friday is the 4th of July! And Sunday is my birthday! I think 69 scares me a little because the next one is 70... and to be honest, I find it hard to believe that I lasted this long.  I know that sounds melodramatic... but guess my sister and brother dying in the 50's makes me think this way. But I feel healthy and strong and don't know why I shouldn't stay this way. I do feel my age sometimes... get tired easier... but sleep well and believe I have a normal amount of energy. My weight is probably about 10 pounds more than it should be... but age and less exercise is the culprit there... and I could do something about the exercise part.

Well, DH just put up a new flag in front. We used to have one there, but when he replaced the old wood a few years back, we had to take it down. Now we have a new one!  Happy 4th Everyone! Enjoy and Be Safe!