Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shopping Excursion--I must be feeling better!

I am *finally* starting to feel like I've beaten the cold/flu illness I've had for the past 2 weeks or so. Between being home for the holiday, being sick and being snowed in for a day or so, I was starting to feel a bit shut in and in need of a good outing.

Today, we went to Garden City and enjoyed walking around outside in the sunshine and moderate temps. Thankfully, all the walkways were clear of ice and snow there so we could stride around normally and get a little exercise. We did some browsing in stores too. At the bookstore, I treated myself to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook. I don't need any encouragement to learn to cook, but the recipes look quick and flavorful and I know I will especially enjoy the Indian inspired ones. Then, after a yummy lunch at Chipotle, we headed for home via DSW. I was on a mission to quickly find some new clogs like I wear almost all the time (and tend to wear out) and I found 3 pairs in just a few minutes. I walked in, 'scanned the horizon' in there (low shelving is great!) and made a beeline to some that looked promising. Luckily, the two on the left were 40% off!!

I like them all so much, it's hard to know which pair to wear! They may actually be my favorite clogs ever! It's kind of fun to be starting the New Year with some new shoes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

1st Real Snow of the Season

It's been snowing steadily since about 9am and we are staying snug at home, but it is fun to venture out to the yard with the dogs. Saffy races at top speed to get out behind the barn to the play area. (Btw, I forgot to blog it on the day, but Saffy turned 11 years old this week! Not that you would guess that from her behaviour--like you see in the pics!)

They can find the balls in the snow and they they race and crash and slide around.

Sometimes when you see the photos after, it takes a moment or two to figure out where the legs are and what direction they are going!

Silas often looks like a silhouette on snowy days.

There is one sunflower I left standing in the garden. After it had been there awhile, Jeff and I realized that it reminded both of us of a lamppost...kind of like the lone lamppost in Narnia!

Speaking of the garden, I have been spending some of today browsing through seed catalogs for the new year. Soon, I will get out a pad of paper and work out a few seed orders and think about starting seeds and this year's garden layout.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

It is hard to be sick on Christmas! But we usually have a laid back xmas, so we don't feel like we were are really missing out, we are just tired of being sick and tired! I tried to give us healing food for dinner last night: soup! It's made with tomatoes from our garden, spinach and tortellini. We sprinkled parm on top.

We had zucchini bread for breakfast.

We all opened our pressies this morning. Bandit got treats and catnip. Saffy got a 'funky chicken' and Silas got a rope toy with some leather braided into it. In this video, Saffy takes the rope from Silas and then if you are watching closely, you will see that Silas sneaks in and grabs the chicken! They always want what the other one gets!

Of course, I took a lot of stills too. Here is Silas opening his present. He needs encouragement, but eventually gets it open!

Saffy is excited when it is her turn.

She needs no help or encouragement at all!

Before she plays with 'funky chicken', she has to finish shredding the paper.

Paper is the 'enemy'!!! Destroy!!!

Later, one has to see what the other dog has and steal it. Saffy with the rope.

Silas with the funky chicken.

Jeff gave me some really special Emma Bridgewater pottery for Christmas. The little jug is so sweet and will match some cherry plates and cereal bowls exactly and mix and match with some other motifs.

This is the Hellebore comport for serving up some sweet treats. I have a lot of other Hellebore pieces to use this with. I love this pattern and was so surprised to get a comport as they are discontinued in this motif.

And, meet Pip and Penny!! My beautiful spotty terriers!!! They are placed on top of my computer cabinet where I see them all the time. I love them--in fact I want to squeal with happiness when I look at them =)

I was so lucky to get these and some other lovely things like fleece mitts, lotion/lip gloss, soaps, stove top espresso maker, and two knitting books. They are both Rowan books. One of them is a collection of Studio designs from issues I don't have...a kind of 'best of' and they are actually the ones I like a lot. And the other is a Martin Storey book called Nordic Knits. I think this is probably a compilation too, as one or two patterns are familiar, but all the others are new to me for sure.

Jeff mostly got books along with a couple CD's and video games, so he is happy too! Best of all, he has a nice long vacation. I'm sure he will spend some of it mastering the new games.

Normally, we would go biking or hiking today, but with the sickness, I think we will stay warm and cozy indoors. I hope everyone else is having a good time and I look forward to seeing what Santa brought you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Are you ready for Christmas?

Despite having some sort of flu, we are ready here. Today, Saffy had a little 'warm up' paper tearing session, so she will be all set for xmas morning. She *loves* the paper!!!

After it's all torn, it should be rolled in. It's much better with huge amounts of paper though! Note the vacuum cleaner in the background......!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cherry Cornmeal Cookies

I *love* these cookies! The cornmeal makes a lovely crunch and they are flavored with a bit of orange zest. They are incredibly easy to make. You form the dough into a log which you chill in the fridge.

Then, you slice the log into cookies.

And bake! (I added some extra chopped cherries.)

You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Everyday Manicotti

I love manicotti--and I probably could eat it everyday! This recipe, from the current issue of Everyday Food magazine, is festive red and green (tomato and spinach) for Christmastime and quick and easy to assemble.

I had plenty of filling for 9 tubes and therefore used a bigger baking dish than the 8"x8" called for. I was happy to be able to use my polka baker again! A few of my tubes split a little, but the filling held them together pretty well.

There aren't many ingredients and although I think lemon zest is usually great, it kind of dominated the filling. Perhaps I had an extra potent lemon?! Also, I think the tomato sauce could make or break it. I made up my own batch of marinara as the bottled ones generally taste too processed for me--I am too spoiled by fresh, garden sauces. If I'd had some, I'd have topped it with some cubes of fresh mozzarella before baking. I used the parm called for by the recipe, which is good, but I missed stretchy cheese. At the point shown in the next picture, I fridged the assembled dish for a few hours until I was ready to bake it for dinner.

Here it is all baked and ready to serve.

It was good, but not super amazing. I'll make some variation of it again though. Jeff says, '4 stars', LOL!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almond Spritz

The old spritz press has 'character'--like one little broken off 'leg' on the end. It is fun and brings back memories, but I do wonder if the new presses are a little easier to use?

I made up a batch of delicious almond dough which was like marzipan when raw. Most of the dough did get baked into little trees and camels. Don't laugh too hard at the camels. I think I needed to press a little more dough out for them or maybe have things a different temperature.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter how they look when they are SO yummy!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Real Winter Food

It was very cold out when I planned the groceries for this week, but even though the temps rose into the 50's F today with rain, I was still happy to eat a cheesy pasta bake for dinner. Here it is prepped for the oven.

And, ready to eat!

I adore my polka baker and the America's Test Kitchen recipe for baked ziti is delicious.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twice Lucky!

I will have to stop saying that I *never* win any drawings! Twice now, I have won Martha Stewart prizes from Martha & Me! Here are the latest goodies on the way to me:

treat bags (which will be perfect for some gingerbread cookies like I posted yesterday)

and another kind of snowflake punch that will go nicely the the two I won previously!

I am very excited, as you can see from the excessive exclamations!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

These are my first holiday cookies of the season! They are from an old issue of Everyday Food, a cookie special edition that I really like.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Random Update

Christmas preparations are coming along nicely. I just have a few more presents to get and cards to write out and then I can start on grocery lists for some special meals and baking. Although some boxes are shipped directly from the sources, others I prepare myself and include homemade canned goods from our garden. You can see it's time to go to the post office!! I will be happy to have the space back in my dining room and be able to get to the drinks cabinet again, which is the right half of the server. With this cold weather, one needs a warming nip of something! Perhaps the dogs should start carrying brandy flasks on our walks?!

We have been walking most days and only see a few other people out there. By 'see' I mean there are bodies wrapped head to toe with no skin showing and muffled 'hellos'! The dogs really stare at people in balaclavas. Yesterday, one guy was obviously worried we would be scared of him in his full face mask and from quite a distance started saying hello and that he was not trying to scare anyone, LOL! I think you can sense the cold from the picture--that is the *mid-day* sun taken today!

Jeff has such a bad cold and has just about lost his voice. The dogs are giving him no respect!! They think he sounds like a squeaky toy and don't do anything he tells them to. If I catch it too, they will really be doing anything they please! We know they can hear a whisper and understand hand gestures, but they deliberately play stupid! They are so naughty sometimes!

Jeff and I have a tradition of holiday Scrabble games. Yesterday, Jeff bought us a fancy new board that rotates! It is black and silver and sparkles in the Christmas lights. We tried it out last night and it must have brought me luck. In one of my last few moves, I got rid of a pesky Q by playing quagmire on a triple word score. That, combined with the bonus for using all 7 tiles got me 101 points!!

P.S. I uploaded a new blog banner picture. It's a carved swan ornament on our tree.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Cold Walkies

December weather is here, with temperatures for our walk this morning at about 28-30 degrees F and with a gusty, cold, north wind. But the dogs seem to think it's lovely out! Sometimes they look like they are conversing about something while we walk along. I think Silas is asking Saffy, "What is this 'cold' she keeps blithering on about?"

It's good to snap a few pictures of the view to enjoy once I am home and warm in front of the computer.

Don't be fooled by the perpetually green grass of the golf course. I don't know how they do that! Things are definitely frozen!

Saffy is such a slouch! She always sits like this!

We only saw two other dogs out walking today! Most were probably sensibly curled up on their cozy beds.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Feeling Festive

I feel like we 'kicked off' the Christmas Season this weekend, starting with a fun surprise birthday party for a friend on Friday.

Saturday, Jeff and I went to Bellevue Avenue in Newport to look in some of the shops. I was specifically looking for local stockists of Emma Bridgewater pottery, but as I suspected, they have not been there for years, although references to them remain online. It would have been fun to find EB in a store display, but I am sure I get the best deals ordering from the source when they have sales or coupons. There were other nice shops to look in and I was able to find a couple of Christmas presents for people on my list.

At one shop, the salesman was working on a display of jewelry. Knowing that I wasn't looking for anything for me, I walked by, avoiding making 'eye contact' with the undoubtedly alluring items! Silly Jeff, browsing along behind me, stopped short and said something like 'did you see how sparkly these are?!'. Of course, I instantly sprang back to the case and, like a bower bird, was enthralled by a blue and silver ring. It fit! It wasn't even that costly! I couldn't wait for Christmas day--it is just too fun to have a cocktail ring to wear all season. It even goes well with a necklace I got on sale 2-3 years ago from Ann Taylor Loft that has blue, green and smoky 'stones'. I am keeping its tiny, pink box under the tree, even though it isn't often in there!

(I quite like this photo, even if it is yet another view of the dining room table!!)

It goes perfectly with my favorite nail polish of the moment, a dark navy blue.

After our little shopping spree, we went out to lunch in Newport at Crowley's Casino Pub, next to the Tennis Hall of Fame. We were seated in the 'porch', where we could bask in the sunbeams streaming in the windows and look out at the grass tennis court and pretty, old buildings. We had different kinds of burgers, both served on sourdough toast.

Back home again in the evening, I laid out some nibbles. I had to have some tea to wake me up before sipping the wine!

And we decorated the tree and put some roping on the stairway. Over the next few days, I will set out some of the other small trinkets here and there.

I think there are more ornaments than tree, but I quite like it smothered like that! I have to try not to find more ornaments I like as I already have to skip having any duplicates on the tree.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Yesterday, the UPS truck rumbled up and stopped out front, which incited lots of eager barking, as you can imagine! There were 2 boxes! One contained my prize from the Martha & Me blog, a set of Martha Stewart snowflake paper punches that I am looking forward to trying. I just need to get some festive paper to work with and I can make some pretty xmas tags.

The other box, was from Emma Bridgewater in England, and contained a set of 3 mini mug candles. I love the patterns and the blue stars will go next to my red stripes to look patriotic in my kitchen, on the shelf that also has a couple of Union Jack pieces. The scent is wonderful! I hadn't smelled it before, so it was a complete surprise. I loved it when I opened the box and the scent wafted out. It is orange and geranium. I think it is like a fancy scented geranium, with a little bit of clove as well.

The big prezzie, is this large polka dot baking dish. I christened it last night, though I didn't have anything very inspired lined up for was Ikea Swedish meatballs! We had them with mashed potatoes, winter squash from the garden and that Ikea gravy and jelly.

Soon, I plan to bake up a batch of ziti using a recipe from The America's Test Kitchen 10 year book and a batch of spinach manicotti from a recent issue of Everyday Food magazine. I am in a pasta mood, can you tell?! It will certainly look beautiful!