Thursday, October 31, 2013

Idyll Time (Fall into Retirement)


The Brick Reservoir on a lovely Fall afternoon.

Last June I retired from teaching preschool.  I made a list of activities and things to do when I retired that would keep my mind, body and spirit engaged.  One of them was to take a walk every day. While I miss the special energy of the children and how much they enriched my life, I am enjoying this beautiful Fall weather and scenery as I haven't been able to in years and years. 

 I try to walk every morning (or sometimes afternoon) at the Brick Reservoir to keep up the activity level that I miss from being in the classroom with the children.  I am so grateful for the beauty around me - it becomes so much more than exercise - sort of a gratitude walk where I can think over my goals, my wishes and my joys of the day.   I can work out any angst and return to my busy life, calm and energetic.

On a particularly warm afternoon, I grabbed my camera and my gym shorts and rounded the 1.6 mile walk.  I've always appreciated the care and the efforts of the Brick Municipal workers to maintain this beautiful walking area. 


Splashes of Fall color here and there.

Particularly inspiring are some landscaped areas that add to the tranquil ambiance of the walking experience.
The stone blends with the plantings for a manicured look.

As I am walking around, I hear snatches of conversations, meet dogs of all sizes and shapes, and people here for a work-out, some fishing time, or just sitting in a gazebo or on a bench and soaking up the sunshine.  There are grandmas and their little ones, moms pushing carriages, men or women walking in groups; all here to enjoy the day.


An idyllic place for exercise, contemplation and inspiration.  Divine!












Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Salad Days and Nights

We try to have salad for dinner at least one night a week.   It is a fun way to eat a variety of veggies and there are endless possibilities when making this colorful, main meal selection.  

Monday is a good choice for salad night, especially after a weekend of overindulgence. This night I decided on the basic romaine lettuce salad as the base.

I chopped the leaves into small bite sized pieces.  It is easier to eat and absorbs the dressing better.  
I prepared a small appetizer plate to take the edge off the pre-dinner hungries.  We regularly eat dinner at a late hour between 7 and 8, sometimes later.  

Grapes, olives, some sharp provolone we purchased at Columbus Market on Sunday and crackers were the starters of the night.

I had one last bowl left over of this delicious butternut squash soup which Tim enjoyed.  Thank you, Susie, for this simple recipe.  We loved it and will be making it again.

Warm flavors and color made this a satisfying starter.

I prepare a tray of a variety of salad additions with one or two side dishes to complete the meal. Fresh, crusty bread would also be a fine accompaniment as well. 


Pickled beets - simply canned beets, onion and vinegar - make a healthy side dish that goes with lots of different meals, as well as this salad one.
The compartmentalized serving set includes artichoke hearts, black olives, roasted red peppers, some fat free feta as well as a mixture of tomato, cucumber, onion and radish.  Add any and all of your favorites;  use what you have on hand and your personal preferences.

\Sometimes we go meatless or do grilled portabella mushrooms on the side, but we had some left over grilled chicken cutlet, which made a protein addition to the veggies.

I provide each person with a small serving spoon to choose the items he/she wants to enjoy from the "salad bar"  along with a choice of dressing.


Bon Appetit!



Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Frost is On the Pumpkin

I heard there may be low lying frost in some areas in the overnight forecast.  While Tim was grilling, I grabbed my camera, put it on the nighttime setting and took some pictures of our beautiful annuals before the frost claims them.  They get all cold and crinkly around the edges, kind of like I do in the winter.  

These are hibiscus flowers.  They are a bit different from the ones we usually get.  They took longer to establish and the delicate pink flower is multi-layered.

Here is an overgrown pot with a spike, some trailing ivy and geranium for color.  Admittedly, much more vibrant in the summer, but still reminiscent of the lush growing season.

My favorite tropical - the mandevilla.   So happy Tim comes home from work and sees this beauty as he pulls the truck into the driveway by the back garage.  Daily inspiration.

The red,white and blue petunias were a tribute to Tim's father.  They were less leggy around July 4.

Assorted pots of annuals.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am not fond of winter.  With these last remembrances of summer perhaps winter becomes a time of hope.  New plants, new life resting and waiting to grow and  bloom.  Besides, after the first frost, everyone knows it gets warm again.  Indian summer - Yay!



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrating With The Girls



Fast forward Sex and the City thirty years and here we are.   We are not discussing life as single women looking for men and trying to make sense out of it, but rather catching up and discussing issues related to family, friends and ourselves.

A cooperative waiter took this photo at a recent celebration.  Happy Birthday, June.

For about the last 17 years, we have been celebrating birthdays together.  We all get together for a dinner at a restaurant of the birthday girl's choice and enjoy an evening of sharing about our children, our husbands and the latest symptoms of menopause and aging.   At one time, we all worked together at the same preschool; now only one of us remains.  We have a new job, or a new situation, or a new house but still like to get together and laugh and share.  

We have pictures to share - weddings, engagements, new pets - and stories to share as well with our own added comments and impressions.  Who is going on vacation and where?  Who had a scare at a doctor's appointment?  Who's son or daughter is engaged, got a new job or went somewhere interesting?  Who is reading a really good book?

Of course there is wine or drinks and food involved and we usually have a dessert with four forks to share at the end of our meal.



Here's a warm banana bread confection from Bahama Breeze.
We end the night with hugs and set up the next occasion to get together - a holiday related dinner is coming up in December.  

Do I fancy myself Carrie Bradshaw of the older set?  Maybe.  Loving my divine life and the people in it!






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fig Tree

Here is the fig tree when it came into our garden in 2011.  I originally posted it along with the other fruit trees.

The baby fig tree in its original pot, given to us by another gardener.

Over two years of good care and growth have produced an abundance of figs.  

The garden beauty today is over six feet tall.


The fruit is sweet and soft and we found a delicious way to enjoy it.

Grilled figs with a touch of goat cheese.  Yum-acious!
How does your garden grow?  



Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Divine Comeback and Other Celebrations

This is a month of celebrations.  


The happy couple (or should I say trio).  Love you Cobee.

Something really divine occurred in our family recently.   My son, Timmy, became engaged to his beautiful girlfriend of a few years.  I am jumping up and down happy to welcome Sabrina into the family.  She has always been part of our divine theme nights and other family occasions but in a year or so it will be legal and official.  I can't wait to celebrate their special day and all the days leading up to the wedding.  

I told Sabrina that if I could have hand picked a partner for my son, I would pick her.  She is wonderful, loving, giving, smart and practical, too.  And did I mention beautiful?  

We also celebrated big Tim's birthday with a family dinner at home.  We all worked together and produced a celebratory feast worthy of a 60th celebration. 


The table was set with a Fall theme.  We decided, after much texting, the kitchen, rather than the dining room, would make a better venue.

We started with a champagne toast and some edamame rangoons from our favorite grocer, thanks, Meredith for stopping at Trader Joe's on your way home from work.
Sangria served in mason jars was another fun libation.


We enjoyed spinach apple salad, steak marinated with coffee and other amazing spices, balsamic chicken, Nick's delicious signature mushrooms and garlic bread.  A dinner where we savored the family time together as well as the delicious food.



To end the delicious meal, and celebrate the big birthday, Sabrina made Tim's favorite Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  She used crushed pineapple instead of rings so the brown sugary taste would be in every bite.

You'll notice the number candle has been used a few times before this and we're saving it for the next family member who will turn sixty - no names mentioned.


Living, loving, laughing - Life is Divine!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week Night Sunday Dinner

When we are not grilling (translate - when Tim doesn't feel like cooking which thankfully, is not that often), our weekday meals are usually easily prepped and cooked.  Last night I felt like a Sunday dinner on a week night.  I peeled some Granny Smith apples and doused them with cinnamon and roasted them in the oven right along with a pork loin and potatoes.  Who cares if the veggies were frozen and the gravy was from a jar?  The three of us enjoyed a lovely family dinner full of comfort, conversation and good food.

Peeling and preparing the apples.
The aroma of the cinnamon complemented the garlic/pepper encrusted pork roast.

I put potatoes around the meat like my mother used to and they browned wonderfully - less than healthy, but a treat.
Yes frozen bagged vegetables.  Mixed with sauce already on them.  


 

Our next meals will definitely be lighter and more weight watcher friendly, but a touch of down home comfort was welcome after a busy Monday. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inspiration






Inspiration comes in different forms.  It may be the way the sun hits the top of the trees as you gaze out the window.  It may come as joy fills you from beholding a beautiful piece of art, or a sweet moment between a parent and child, or the smile that lights up your life.  Today, I am inspired to start blogging again.  My inspiration came from a friend's daughter, whom I call a friend now and her blog.  

Jen became my Facebook friend through her mom who was a High School friend.  (Yes, we go way back and have reconnected through Facebook, the gym and lunch dates -my favorite - more about that in a subsequent post).  I felt a closeness, an affinity to Jen through her posts and wanted to meet her.  Well the day came at a lovely lunch at her mom's home.  Yes, despite our age difference, we have much in common and I want to share her inspirational blog with y'all.

http://driftwoodgardens.com  is her blog about home, food, family, etc.  I hope it will inspire you, too.