Monday, February 13, 2017

Saturday Night

You need just the right glass and just the right garnish for a Manhattan.


Typically a Saturday night at my empty nest includes dinner with the hub and maybe a movie.  Sure we share a glass of wine or two (or three),  but that's about it for social activity.   But let me fill you in on what lead up to the past Saturday night which was quite out of the ordinary for us.

On New Year's Day my sister was pondering the fact that I had a Book Club and why couldn't we start a cocktail club.   We'd feature a special cocktail of the week and enjoy one, just one, drink-e-poo and perhaps a bite or two.

Oh, yeah, we all thought that was a great idea as we were headed home from a New Year's Day open house at my daughter's.  Time passes.  We mentioned it once or twice and nothing materialized until my sister bought a bottle of Jameson's Irish Whiskey.  She'd been watching Blue Bloods and pictured herself enjoying two fingers of whiskey with Frank and Erin, maybe Danny.

Manhattan popped into my mind right away.  Sometimes I miss the city.  I have the perfect glasses for a drink.  Small sized martini glasses from another era that I got at a Thrift store.   I'm all about the glass - I can only drink wine from a glass with a stem.  Well, I have drunk it in a red Solo Cup, but only under extreme circumstances and with a lot less enjoyment than when I'm quaffing from an elegant vessel.

So our first meeting of the Cocktail Club was scheduled.  I checked my Bartender's Bible and found that the Manhattan has an interesting history.   The drink was developed for Lady Jenny Churchill, (Brooklyn born mother of Winston) and served at The Manhattan Club at a banquet she gave honoring a lawyer, Samuel J. Tilden.  He happened to prosecute the Tweed Ring, a group of politicians who stole millions from NYC.  Imagine that, unsavory politicians.

I also had to procure bitters and sweet vermouth (with a marachino cherry for garnish) to make the drink.  Other versions use dry vermouth (a dry Manhattan) or both dry and sweet (Perfect Manhattan), but I wanted to start off as a purist for the first time.

Tim built us a fire and we enjoyed our Manhattan, warm and toasty from the heat and the whiskey.

Yadda, yadda, yadda - my son, daughter-in-law and Cobee came up to our house to get some help cutting new closet doors down to size for the baby's room, Meredith and Nick stopped by as well.

I always welcome a visit from my favorite canine and his parents.

It's always divine to have the whole family together.

My sister left early to go home to enjoy some Irish Stew (I think she had her own theme going on).

A divine Saturday night that included a pizza party after the Cocktail Club all the while keeping the fire stoked.

We found some cocktails named for family members.  There's the Old Groaner and the Old Groaner's Wife,(!), Old Nick and Poor Tim.  I'll let you know what we decide on next, whatever it is will be divine.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

I'm posting this week's six sentence story from my old blog, hoping I can remember how to navigate through Blogger.  I've already been unable to locate the first drafts I created to post this week, so bear with me please.  The cue this week is bread, and you can link up or find more incredible stories by visiting the link at Uncharted.

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Once upon a time there was a woman, who with the help of her very creative friend, began a blog for fun.

She shared family life and experiences and had a good time dishing recipes and snarky comments with a few of her family and friends who liked to see themselves in print.

Then she met up with a much more serious blogger and got some lofty ideas about making money doing this fun hobby she had, so she invested in a paid domain and hosting through a very reputable company.  

During the process she met up with some virtual friends and continued to link up and enjoy writing for fun and connecting with these people who became very important to her. 

The hopes of making money and becoming widely read and famous evaporated without a wisp of regret or rue.

She wants to keep blogging and connecting with her awesome friends both virtually and in real life, but she doesn't have the bread to keep paying the hosting, so she's back to free blogging from her first on-line endeavor.
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Now comes the techie challenge of finding the meme for Six Sentence stories.

Ah,  it was on my hard drive.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Come on Over to My Virtual Vineyard


I've made a move.  I'll still be posting my divine family adventures, but in a new location on the web.

Check it out:

http:/www.myvirtualvineyard.com or visit me on my Facebook page of the same name.

I am hoping to branch out - like grapevines do - and polish up my posts and my very own website.  I am most proud of the social media share buttons on my new blog, already a step up from this venue.

I want to graciously thank Allan Leeman at www.thepennypinchingdad.com for making the transfer of all my files from Blogger to Word Press at no cost to me.  Everything transferred beautifully; you can still find your favorite posts there.

When I walked through that metaphoric door to retirement I welcomed change and new opportunities.   Here I go!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Small Spring Makeover on A Shoestring Budget

Living in the Northeast can do a number on your psyche during the L-O-N-G winter.  Although Spring is officially here, the weather isn't cooperating.  I wanted to spruce up the house with a few Spring things - and trick myself, anyway.  


3 for $5 at Produce Junction in South Jersey.  Makes a nice live centerpiece.

I am new to sewing and for about $30 I added some new color to my old family room.  Fabric is expensive, so I am thrifty when it comes to shopping for it.  Walmart has some good deals and so does fabric.com.

I need to preface this with the fact that in some ways, our family room is stuck in the 80's when we built the house.  Due to lack of time and some economic constraints, it has remained flowery and hunter green.  Ignoring the wallpaper border, I changed out the valances over the windows with some summery fabric that reminds me of Boca Raton.  


Using the pattern of the valance on the top, I sewed up a new one that reminds me of tropical paradise.  Well, at least something lush and Springlike.

Next, I changed out the pillows on the couch by sewing some envelope style pillow covers which can easily be laundered and changed.  I used the pillow forms from the existing ones.


The hunter green couch remains the same, but the updated pillows give the look a Springish lift.  
I dug this forsythia vase of flowers out of the basement as an ode to Spring.



The color yellow always lifts my spirits.

Now, when I walk in the room, a feeling of hope pervades, DIVINELY chasing away the winter blues.  (Fake it, till you make it).







Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vegetarian Comfort Food

It's no secret that I like Meatless Mondays and vegetarian dishes.  They are colorful and healthy and delicious.  And the zen of chopping vegetables is relaxing.  Recently I made a vegetable stew, a play on ratatouille of the French Provence region.  A quicker version, for sure.  The original stews for hours.  I prepared and cooked this in under an hour.



The basic ingredients include the Japanese eggplant I got at Produce Junction in south Jersey, zucchini, onion and red pepper.  Garlic, salt and pepper, canned diced tomatoes and some water complete the recipe.


I chopped the eggplant and placed in a collander.  Salt it and let set for about 20 minutes.  This pulls some of the water out of the vegetable.  I rinsed it and patted it dry.

Meanwhile. . . . . 


I chopped the rest of the veggies and added some pre-diced organic garlic from a jar.  (I like easy short cuts that don't compromise taste).


Start sauteing in a large frying pan, turning often.  When the veggies are soft, about 5 minutes, add 1/2 cup water and continue cooking until they are cooked through.


I then added two cans of diced tomatoes, with the juice, salt and pepper and simmered for about 35 minutes until the liquid evaporated and  all the flavors melded together and the vegetables were very "stewish", stirring occasionally.


This is the completed dish.  It can be served cold as a condiment, but I like it warmed and over a grain. I used a prepackaged quinoa on this night.   
It can stay in the fridge for up to a week, and the flavor improves as time goes by.


Here's the completed plating.  I must say we both had a very good night's sleep.  So comforting and healthful.  The next day I heated the leftover ratatouille and had it with a vegan burger.  It was DIVINELY delicious.











Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Staying Gold

The Gold standard.  Gold medals.  Golden age.  The Golden years.  All connote the best.  Recently, Meredith and I visited a coffee house/cafe on Main Street in Belmar, NJ called Stay Gold.  I fell in love with this comfortable shop that sells healthful smoothies, coffee drinks, lunch and dinner.  I really liked the chalkboard sign that described the philosophy of the cafe (if cafes have philosophies).




On our first visit, we each enjoyed a hot latte - she likes cinnamon and I'm a mocha girl (skinny, of course).  Our gold standard of coffee is Starbucks, but Stay Gold prepared truly enjoyable drinks for us.


There was just the right amount of foam on this latte.  We enjoyed sitting by a warm fire on comfortable benches.




The comfy seating area has a two-sided fireplace dividing the coffee/smoothie bar and the restaurant portion of this space.

There is also a mini-stage in the front window of the cafe with seating as well. 


The old West style lettering is an interesting focus.  There is live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.

On our second visit, we had lunch.  Sitting at a window table on the other side of the fireplace, we got the inside view of the artist's wall.  It features the art work of a local artist.


I just loved the ambiance of this place.  The lighting added to the relaxation factor.

We ordered a delicious lunch.  This is  the way they served water to us before the meal.


We use mason jars at home as glasses, just for fun.  The wait personnel kept it filled for me, aquaholic that I am.

We started off with an appetizer that we both enjoyed.



Easy, cheese artichoke brushetta.  Yum.

Our meals came out in a timely fashion.


I enjoyed their signature tuna salad plate with avocado and carrot curls.   I haven't seen a carrot curl since baby carrots became the staple.  I appreciated the effort it took to build the plate.  Meredith had a roasted vegetable panini which was equally delicious.

  I'd like to go back in the evening and BMOB.  Maybe listen to some music - mellow, most likely.   Such a nice venue.  Comfortable, relaxing and DIVINE!







Monday, March 3, 2014

Family Theme Night

We are at it again.  A family night of food and fun and celebration.  This night's celebration was for Nanny's 86th birthday.  It was Tim's turn to think of a theme.  While we had a tough time naming it; I will say that he loved to watch the Beverly Hillbillies when he was young, and always got a good laugh when Granny Clampett was stirring up a pot of victuals on the stove. We actually weren't interested in eating heaps of roasted squirrel or possum belly stew, that's for sure.  But we thought perhaps we could rename some of our dishes with the Clampetts in mind. We had a few starters.


In addition to chips and dips and salsa, and our traditional deviled eggs, Becky and Meredith offered some stuffed potato skins and hand rolled buffalo chicken wraps.  I sure did like dippin' those hot hawg mush sticks in blue cheese and the tater skins with pig bits on top.



Tim grilled up some burgers and dogs with a couple of sous chefs.  How about possum tails and cow pies for aliases?  Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle toppers were the fixin's.


Timmy and Sabrina fried up some chicken sliders - extra spice and mild.  Nothing like sinking your teeth (what two you have left) into some fried fowl.


Then there's Aunt Tracy's roasted potatoes in a creamy sauce.  Too elegant for this venue?  Perhaps, but nothing goes better with a dinner like this than tater dumplin's dripping in white gravy.


Fruit is fruit is fruit is fruit.


Worms in dirt need no further clarification.


The birthday girl's favorite strawberry shortcake aka mini paw-paw pie.

Nanny even brought along an old recipe book picked up on a family vacation in the 60's.  The Ozarks, I'm guessing.


Filled with recipes as well as witticisms and advice.  Lots of inspiration for me.  Here are a few of my favorites:

"Blisters on yore tongue kin be caused by tellin' lies."
"If th' thumb itches, you'll have comp'ny."
"Don't sleep in th' moonlight.  This may cause yuh to go crazy."


Yes, it was a DIVINE family night even without the fiddle and the whiskey barrel. 

"Y'all come back now, heah?"