Monday, July 23, 2012

Table for Two

Summer is the time I try to catch up with my friends that I don't always get to see during the school year.  My good friend, Cheryl lives a mile up the road, and we haven't seen each other in a couple of months.  

We like to celebrate our English heritage with warmth and glassware.

A visit with Cheryl always includes conversation, food, wine, and lots of inspiration.

A girlie salad of chicken, pears, Gorgonzola and craisins.

Zucchini bread and coffee late into the afternoon.
It's wonderful to have friends with whom you can pick up where you left off, no matter how long it has been since you've spent time together.  Our histories, raising children (and husbands), our education, our lives full of relationships and situations, and mutual respect binds us together.  Not to mention our love for British family history.   

A Couple of Family Favorites

  Meredith made me a spectacular birthday dinner.
For starters there was an antipasto with cheese, veggies, olives, roasted reds and lettuce.

Main course - better than restaurant crab meat stuffed shrimp.

Garlic mashed as a side.
Sabrina's birthday dinner was a combined effort.

Caesar Salad

Meredith's pasta dish with chicken, spinach, Alfredo/pesto sauce.

The ice cream cake with lots of salty/sweet, peanut buttery creamy crunch.

The birthday girl.
I think the best part of celebrating birthdays is the family dinner table with the antics of the players, the fun memories of past times and making the present into future memories.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We've Come A Long Way Baby, Anniversary Blog

Saturday night, April 22,  we celebrated a theme night entitled, "Opening Day Baseball, Season Two".  Coincidentally, it was the beginning of the second year of the blog.  My first theme post was Austin's baseball inspiration.  It remains one of our favorite food frenzies.   A few things have changed -- not really the  food, but we've added Nick, a pretty good cook and all around nice guy.  I learned how to insert pictures between the text, instead of separately.   And, we actually played a backyard whiffle ball game instead of the usual blood pressure readings.  I'd say we've come a long way, baby. 

 Featured dishes which are not a replay of previous posts.

My three favorite Yankee Fans, Meredith, Sabrina and Tim.

Nanny up at bat.

We call this overnight salad; a layered creation of greens topped with bacon, cheese and a dressing of mayonnaise and sugar.

A trio of wings.  Thanks, Nick.  Five alarm, barbecue, and medium heat.

Meredith's home run - cheesy bacon french fries.

Baseball decorated cupcakes from Becky.

Out of the park funnel cakes.  Couldn't keep the plate filled.

Baseball cake pops - a joint venture by Meredith and Sabrina.

Baseball is a great American sport - and family fun is the best of all.  In this second year of recording family events, I am inspired to keep writing, keep eating and keep enjoying.  By the way, MVP award to Meredith for her new food creations. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Helpful Idea for Organization

  I enjoy scarves of all colors.  I often wear solids and so I can jazz up any outfit with a colorful scarf - quite in fashion these days.  I picked up the look in London in 2009, and it has been serving me well for the past couple of years.   
This is my collection, at least what it used to look like until yesterday,

I am an organized person, but maybe not always neat.  The scarves make it  into the bin, but in a jumble of color, texture and pattern.

So I made each scarf into a rosette.  Maybe an inspiration from the decorative concrete at Princeton University, I'm not sure where it came from.  It certainly seems "pinworthy" to me as I have become a Pinterest user recently.

You double it long-wise and wrap it around your hand and tuck in the edges.  Simple.

So during my semi-annual "clean out the closet" event, I folded all my scarves like rosettes and  now my scarf drawer looks like this:

Love it.  I may try colorizing or categorizing them, or maybe not.
Organized and semi-neat is okay with me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Ivy League Day

Last, Sunday, my bestie artist friend, Cheryl, and I visited a wonderful store called Paper Source on Nassau Street in Princeton.  We purchased a few gift items and Cheryl surprised me by purchasing a bookbinding kit for me.  She is going to help me bind my own book.  At first I wasn't sure what to put in it.  Cheryl had scanned and copied all her original art work and created her body of work  book.  I didn't have such a thing, but perhaps I'll make a poetry book or a photo  book or art creations, or maybe just a bit of everything.   

Here's Cheryl posing outside the wonderful store, full of inspiration and great ideas.  (both are)

After enjoying an hour or so of browsing and buying, Cheryl and I walked over the Princeton University campus enjoying the architecture and the lovely Spring day.  We both have a piece of our hearts in England, and felt right at home amongst the stone buildings.  I particularly enjoyed the cascading arches; they drew me in.

We meandered through the gardens and courtyards alive with history and beauty.  

We completed the day with an exhibit at the Princeton Art Museum.  The John Constable exhibit was displayed and of course, I enjoyed learning about the first artist to document country life in England in the 1700's.  His oil sketches were incredible to view.  Some were six feet wide and four feet tall - framed oil "sketches" with so much detail we both repeatedly commented, "and they're sketches."  No photography allowed in the museum.  

All free, all fun, all close by, all inspiring. 
 Thank you, Cher.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Birthday Blog (Learning My Own Truth About Aging)

     Last year around this time I celebrated my 60th birthday with lots of special activities including a pedicure, a makeup application, and tickets to a Broadway show.  It was fun and exciting, and a little scary.  It has taken me almost a whole year to adjust to the fact that the old woman looking back at me from the mirror is the same as the young, funny, happy girl looking into it.

Several events occurred over the last year which have affected me significantly, both highlights and lowlights:

1.  Four wedding celebrations - leading me to the question, "Is it appropriate for the 60 something aunt to party like a rock star?" (but still fall asleep after 9 PM).
2.  Having my job cut in half.  A serious adjustment for the first couple of months.  I realized that because it was not by choice, I didn't like it.  I do like having more time to work on Tim's business and the household chores, which were never my favorite.
3.  I read a quote that said, "Do what you love."  I love to blog.  I had let it go for several months during the hardest adjustment period, and it helped me begin again.
4.  Visit from a dear friend, Kathy, a couple of years older than me who has survived the passage to "older" beautifully, both spiritually and physically.  Her support and positivity was just what I needed at the time to face the changes.  I realized I wanted things to change, as this age  was a time to reevaluate and set new goals.  (A Bucket List, maybe).
5.   I spent a long weekend in Maine with family - most my contemporaries, some a bit older, enjoying the closeness and camaraderie of individuals important to me with a history that transcends age and gender.

I certainly like to joke about aging and all the surprises it brings with it - like the eyesight situation.  Surely the worst part of the whole getting older thing.  I have 17 pairs of glasses strategically placed around the house,  most obtained from the Dollar Store.  Is there a pair always at my fingertips?  There certainly should be, but alas,  I am frequently struggling to read the directions on a box, a recipe or the caller ID on my cell phone.   Or packing for a trip and needing an extra bag for the prescription medications.   I refuse to discuss my health issues in social situations, but invariably, the conversations turn that way with my contemporaries.

I've become a follower of sites like The Art of Aging and Daily Vitamins for the Soul.  Inspirational sayings for working on the beauty inside because, let's face it, the outside isn't getting particularly better, no matter how many hours spent Zumba-ing and body sculpting and Pilate -ifying at the gym along with the high school girls who know a thing or two about shaking what their mommas gave them.  So my mantra has become - "Smart is the new sexy."

And how smart are we aging beauties?  Smarter than our smart phones?  A fifth grader?  We are smart enough to figure out the iPhone.  Is technology dangerous in the hands of a senior?(Still hard to call myself that). These are my new ponderances for the upcoming years.  Most of all I want to avoid the biases and assumptions about people of a certain age.  I spent a lot of my life trying to "fit in" and now I most definitely do not want to fit in to someone else's age-related prejudgments.

My circles of friends, - Book Club friends - Birthday Dinner friends, work friends,  Nags Head friends, high school friends, my college bestie, my artist friend, yoga friends, gym friends, and online game friends of all ages, as well as my divine family, enrich my life and help the transition into seniorhood  bearable. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Comfort Food

Comfort food (and comfort, as well) is highly individual.  One man's trash is another man's treasure, etc.  We had several comforts represented at our most recent theme night.  In addition to yoga pants and fuzzy slippers, the comfort menu ran the gamut from buffalo chicken potato skins and chicken noodle soup, to hot dogs and beans and noodle kugel.  Definitely a night for discriminating pallets; choose your poison as the saying goes.  
The photos are the encapsulation of the entire menu, because each item represents an individualized form of comfort.

The Appetizers

We knew if was going to be a fun night when Timmy brought home this tray of pretzel bites with chocolate and cinnamon dipping sauces. 

Sabrina pinned the pizza dip and served it with homemade breadsticks from my trusty bread machine.

Nanny brought her staple, which Grandpa especially enjoys.

Becky brought baked brie topped with apricot jam and walnuts.
Even Grandpa participated with a shrimp plate. 

It wouldn't be theme night without something buffalo and Sabrina did not disappoint with buffalo chicken potato skins.

The Entrees
My chicken noodle soup served with homemade bread, of course.  Appetizer or entree - it works for both.
Nick brought a new version of an old favorite Mac and Cheese.  We loved the new flavor and the bigger noodles, but Aunt Marie - you have our heart, too.

Nanny takes comfort from hot dogs and beans (and big Tim, too)

All time favorite comfort food - fried chicken tenders with honey mustard, bbq sauce or sweet chili sauce.  Thanks, Mere.
Tracy, the originator of the theme, brought meatball parmigiana sandwiches.
Becky's noodle kugel is a replay from our Jewish theme night.  Love it!

The Desserts

A plateful of chocolate covered pretzels with a few extra goodies.
Apple pie served with vanilla ice cream.
What's more comforting than chocolate chip cookies, especially Tracy's homemade ones.
Sabrina added the element of health and freshness with a fruit and cheesecake dip presentation.

After this theme night, I've realized a few things.  Firstly, trite expressions can be comforting when describing certain events.  Secondly, there's nothing more comforting than being able to zip up your awesome skinny jeans (still waiting)  .  And mostly, being with family, laughing, eating and sharing stories is the most comforting of all. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nags Head

Tim and I took the long weekend over President's Day to check on the house and relax a bit in the sunshine.  Yesterday was cold and windy, today a perfect Spring day. 

Today,  my walk on the beach was a poem.
Abandoning my shoes by the dune fence,

I rolled up my jeans and savored the cool crunch of sand between my toes.

Meandering along the high tide line -- looking for the elusive colored glass worn smooth and opaque by the sea.

Wading through sandy rivulets of yesterday's tidal pool.

My thoughts a million footprints back and forth across the expanse.

The icy fingers of low tide lapping at my toes.

And on the way back - an image of my 80 year old self, wrapped in billowy gauze and linen, still enjoying the poem.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Family Game Night

We couldn't seem to plan a theme night for February, so my divine family plus got together for a somewhat planned, somewhat impromptu family game night.  As usual we had some luscious food and drink offerings. 

Besides water, diet soda, lemonade and beer (not mixed together) there was:

Sangria in a new white pitcher - a lovely vessel.

Nick enjoying a cosmo - his welcome quaff.

Chile dip and greek yogurt/olive dip for starters.

Sabrina's blooming onions with scrumptious dipping sauce.

Sub platter - goat cheese, arugula and balsamic chicken, as well as chicken, mozzarella and roasted red peppers.

Meredith and Nick were the champs -- definitely on the same wavelength for Pictionary and I think they won Taboo, too.


Sabrina's caramel apple dipping platter was a sweet ending.

Well, our small gathering was an in-between get together, an opportunity for family fun and a wake up call for Tim and I.  We used to be the Pictionary champs.  Time to sharpen our sketching skills and tune in to the wavelengths, which are a little fuzzy sometimes these days.