Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Like These

I know I always appreciate when someone recommends something that’s either worked for them, helped in some way or simply brought them some joy.  Today, I’m sharing a few things you might like too.  No one is paying me for these endorsements.  No one has offered.

If you like to soak in a hot bath, I can highly recommend this fairly economical bath salt.  One of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures is to read a book while lying in a tub of very hot scented bathwater.  I like the eucalyptus scent of this soak (but it also comes in lavender and rosemary), which I found at Tarjay.

This was an extravagant Christmas gift I received this year – the Mia really does leave your skin feeling incredibly soft.  I’ve just started using it regularly so I can’t yet attest to its promise of minimizing the appearance of pores.  I will say that I’ve had a major breakout after using it – apparently that’s normal because it is bringing all kinds of impurities to the skin’s surface that previously lived happily underground.  Obviously my impurities are very angry about being unearthed.  I’ve also heard that there are much less expensive counterparts to the Clarisonic that work well too – Olay makes one.

images (2)

If you know me at all, you know I am a skeptic.  I am not easily bamboozled into buying the latest, greatest cure for anything.  But I will tell you that Zicam has helped to avert every cold I’ve started to get in the last year or two!  I get a horrible cold every year at least twice (here's proof from 2010) so this has changed my life!  How does it work?  Here’s what I found about its main ingredient, zinc:

Ionic zinc is proposed to interfere with the binding of rhinovirus to its cellular receptor, ICAM-1.

I love it when my rhinovirus can’t bind to my ICAM-1.

I think this list is so good: 

I was going to share a few of the ones that I am guilty of doing but as I look the list over, I’m sad to admit there aren’t just a couple. 

That leads me to this list:

I made this recipe the other night - delicious!  I tend to overcook pork chops (usually extremely, unappetizingly dry) and I would say this cooking method does help with moistness, though I would reduce the cooking time to about 35 minutes for thick cuts.


And that is what I like right now!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A good short story

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t put down.  I’m growing more choosy in my old age so I want one that is well-written, has characters I can love and that isn’t vulgar.  Is that too much to ask?  I think not.

Recently I came across a recommendation for some good short stories, which made me think – I don’t know if I’ve read a short story since I was in high school or college and had to read something like Nathaniel Hawthorne or DH Lawrence.  I do remember reading something by Willa Cather but never the story I finished last night.

It’s called Neighbor Rosicky (not a title you might be instantly drawn to) - a sweet story of a good-hearted farmer and his reflections on his life, family and priorities. 


I’ve read that Willa was criticized for being a romantic, nostalgic writer who ‘could not cope with the present’.  Because she wrote during the Depression, critics said her work 'lacked social relevance' and that her writing 'escaped into an idealized past'.  But I loved it because she so beautifully gets to the heart of her characters – which is always most enthralling to me.

Here is a little excerpt that I thought was wonderful:

“Mary sat watching him intently, trying to find any change in his face.  It is hard to see anyone who has become like your own body to you.  Yes, his hair had got thin, and his high forehead had deep lines running from left to right… He was her man, and the kind of man she liked.  She was rough, and he was gentle.  They had been shipmates on a rough voyage and had stood by each other in trying times.  Life had gone well with them because, at bottom, they had the same ideas about life.  They agreed, without discussion, as to what was most important and what was secondary.  A good deal had to be sacrificed and thrown overboard in a hard life like theirs and they had never disagreed as to the things that could go.” 

I checked the book out at the library, which is how I most often get books. It was really kind of fun to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and read from start to finish in one sitting!  What a novel idea… reading a short story without being assigned!

Monday, February 18, 2013


I’m always on the lookout for art projects – that are fun, that take some time to complete and that end up providing something fun for my nieces to take home. 

Recently I found a blog authored by a wonderful art teacher who shares his projects with lots of detail: Art With Mr. E   This appeals to the teacher in me because I like lots of detail, helpful tips for teaching the project and pictures of actual student art.

This weekend we had our two girlies over and we made what Mr. E calls
Line Design.


It looks hard but it’s very easy (with a little guidance) and the girls ended up with some awesome art to take home.  They were so proud of themselves!  Doesn’t it remind you of something from the sixties?  For some reason I immediately think of the TV show “Laugh In.”

*Rabbit trail:  Isn't it amazing how many styles from the 60's are popular right now?  Bangs, bobs and teased hair bumps.  Mid-century modern furniture.  Tortoise-framed glasses.  Tights.  Pumps. 


(Notice Maddy wore her peace symbol jammies in keeping with our groovy theme.)


We had pancakes for dinner, played Crazy 8’s and watched Andy Griffith (another 60's icon!).  At six this morning, two girls in their pj’s were at the kitchen table coloring!

(PS – in case you were wondering, I was a preteen for much of the 60’s.  I would never have been caught dead with hair like that.  Long, straight and stringy for this 70’s child.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thai Peanut Sauce via CPK

This is a repost of my #2 post of all time, according to Blogger, second only to my post on Gross Candy.  I'm not sure what that says about blog readers or googlers but I know this is one recipe you want to make!    

My last post was a recipe revealing not only my advanced age but also my un-hip-ness.  Granola.

Today, I have a recipe to reestablish my cool.  Thai is cool, right? 

Don't you love CPK?

If you don't have a California Pizza Kitchen near you, I hope you get a chance to visit one while on vacation.  One of our favorite pizzas there is the Thai Chicken.  They make a wonderful peanut sauce that they use on that pizza as well as in a salad and a pasta dish. 

One year for my birthday I got the cookbook they publish which includes the recipe below.  We use it on pasta and pizzas and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. 

Thai Peanut Sauce - CPK
Printable recipe here

½ cup chunky peanut butter 
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbl sesame oil
1 Tbl honey
1 Tbl oyster sauce
2 Tbl water
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp dried chili flakes (more or less for heat)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a gentle boil, stirring for 1 minute.  Serve over pasta with chicken or shrimp and your choice of stir fried vegies.  Also use as a pizza sauce, coating chicken as well as pizza crust.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Mish-Mash for Valentines week

It’s almost Valentines Day – are you doing anything special?  I have eaten several gummy cinnamon hearts in the last few days – does that count?

I want to be especially thankful, gracious, kind and thoughtful this week to my wonderful husband.  I married the most wonderful man.

Here's quite a variety of stuff I'm sharing via the www.  Let’s begin with a post in keeping with Valentines Day and love…

10 Things That Have Made All The Difference
A list about keeping marriage strong

Made Up Songs and Partners Divine
”Be careful little nose what you smell…”

I love both of these next two posts because they speak of grace. 
I want to be full of grace!
My Train Wreck Conversion

When Mama Ain’t Happy
I could barely sit through the Super Bowl – I didn’t, really.  I played Canasta instead.  But when I got home, I read this post and shared Lisa-Jo’s anger.

And on that (basically) same note…
The Demise of Guys

Are You A Welcoming Church?

I know I’ve shared this before but if you haven’t
seen this website, it’s worth a peek!
Dear Photograph

Do you have six more minutes? 
Here’s a sweet new animated short from Disney called Paperman. 
A perfect Valentine to end with!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This winter I’ve been trying to make some new soup recipes and this is one we love.  It’s a copy of the famous restaurant Pasta e Fagioli soup (which, for those of you who don’t speak Ol*ve G*rden, simply means ‘pasta and beans’).  You can find this recipe all over the internet but I had never tried it until a few months ago.  It is delicious.  It’s easy.  And it would go really well with the No-Knead Bread I posted last spring.

pasta e fagioli Have A Cup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Printable recipe here

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans (or white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 (26 oz) container beef stock (3 cups)
1 jar (25 oz) spaghetti sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ Tbl kosher salt (or to taste)
*1 cup ditalini pasta (or your favorite pasta shape)

Brown and crumble ground beef.  Drain.  Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker *except for the pasta and stir.  Set slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in the pasta and stir.

*The pasta will absorb lots of the liquid so you may want to add an extra can of beef broth towards the end.  I did.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

On a Saturday


Clear blue sky.
Crocus, bluebells and daffodil are already peeking out of the dirt.


Trees are just beginning to bud, including our magnolia…


Today I filled four large trash bags with all my stuff I’ve been keeping for way too long.  FOUR!

I told Jeff last night that we should get rid of everything we haven’t worn in a year and bag it up for the Salvation Army.  He agreed!  (This was amazing because he is a saver not a purger.)  A little later I asked him what he wanted to do that evening and he said “Try on and wear all the clothes in my closet.”  Very funny.

Here’s what was going through my head as I emptied all my dresser drawers and took out every hanger in the closet…


You have to be in just the right frame of mind to get rid of things, don’t you?  Today was it for me. 

Time for a long walk outside!  I'll be wearing something I forgot I had in the back of my closet.  If you pass me pretending you don't know me, I will understand.
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