Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy 29th Anniversary

 It was a cold day in January, 1985, when Tim and I eloped to Maryland to get married.  It was a momentous occasion in more than one way.  We spent the weekend in Washington, DC.  It was Superbowl Weekend, the 49ers were playing, and it was the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan's presidency.  It was also one of the few times the monuments were closed due to high winds and bad weather.  Fast forward 20 years.  Tim is in NC working on the house and Val and children are home.  18" of snow fell that day and we all shoveled the 70' driveway.  Very memorable.   In fact, I've barely gotten over it.  After that, Tim purchased a snow blower and of course, we had very few snow storms for years.  

Yesterday, on the occasion of our 29th, I was again shoveling snow - just keeping up with the sidewalks, while my knight in shining armor was plowing the driveway with his construction equipment and making pathways with the snow blower.  Much more pleasant memories.

Pleasant as well, was the wonderful anniversary dinner my sweet daughter made for us.  

We started off with steamed oysters.  We brought them back from our weekend in Nags Head.  I like them with lemon, Tim uses hot sauce and butter.  We don't look for pearls in oysters, we look for slough crabs which are little crunchy critters hanging out inside the shell.  A delicacy and a treat.

Dinner was delicious as well.  Chicken Francais, green bean bundles wrapped in bacon, and crescent rolls.  She bundles the green beans, wraps them in bacon, brushes with brown sugar, and roasts them in the oven.  A family specialty for a very special occasion.

The dessert was elegant and tasty, made with a diet friendly cake recipe of dry chocolate cake mix and canned pumpkin, lite Hershey's syrup, fat free frozen yogurt and raspberries.  

Because of the weather, we couldn't celebrate at a restaurant as we usually would, but our own kitchen bistro was a divine place to spend our anniversary.  Thanks, Mere.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January Beach Walk

The beach was calling me on this particularly beautiful January day in Nags Head, NC.  I walk many happy miles along this beachfront each summer, soaking up sun, surf and sand.  But a winter walk is a treasure of its own.  Gone are the families and friends who make this beach a playground during the summer months, swimming, picnicking, tossing balls around and enjoying the copious sunshine and warmth.  Just me, my camera and a couple of other beach lovers walking with or without a pet or two.  It can be a little windy and cold at the beach this time of year, but the blue sky, low tide, and calm waves are inviting all the same.

Yes, even in the winter, I can't resist the feel of sand beneath my toes.   I got a good long walk in before my feet started to freeze and I put my shoes back on.  There is so much to see and a large, uninterrupted span of beach to enjoy.

The waves deposit broken shells, pebbles and the rare piece of sea glass on the smooth sand of low tide.

The tire tracks of four-wheelers leave the sandy terrain deeply ridged.

Tumbleweeds of sea grass clump together and blow across the landscape.

The skeletonous remains of a sea snake or eel quietly curled up on the cold sand.

A small white feather dropped from the underbelly of a seagull.

Sea birds turning their heads away from wind; hiding in the warmth of their wings.

The gentle lapping of the waves on this beautiful day, the inhale/exhale of the ocean.

Peace, Tranquility, and a bit of cold - Divine.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Winter's Tale of Lunch

According to the National Weather Service, meteorological winter is half over.   It is defined as the coldest three months of the year, December, January and February.    Actual winter goes from December 21 to March 21.  I'll go with the shortest possible--so 44 more days.  

To pass time and stay connected, my friend Susie and I have lunch at one another's homes a couple of times a month.  We laugh together and talk, talk, talk, much like we did in history class senior year in HS.  At our first lunch experience, which you can read about on www/,  Susie made butternut squash soup from a recipe on Pinterest and it was delicious.  I've made it several times since and it has become a family favorite.    I ordered it recently at a restaurant, and it came with melted goat cheese and a diced Granny Smith apple on top.  I knew I wanted to share this delicious version with Susie.

It is relatively easy to make.  Saute an onion in a little oil, add peeled and diced butternut squash,  (I cheated this time and got fresh precut at Shop-rite) , a quart of broth, some cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg (1 tsp each).  Boil until tender and then use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree.  The fun comes with the addings on top.  Susie served hers with chopped pecans, which were delicious.  My husband likes it with spaetzle (floury dumplings) like his mom makes.   This goat cheese version is my new favorite.

Warm and delicious, the goat cheese adds a creaminess to the soup and the apple a tart/sweet element.  Great for a cold winter day and it is Weight Watcher friendly.  

We always enjoy a salad as well.  This time I made some mixed greens with beets, red onions and a few add ins - craisins, goat cheese and chopped pecans.   Dressing - optional.

Susie brought the "fruit".  In this case, red "fruit.  A divine complement to the lunch and a divine way to spend a winter afternoon.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Gift Bag for Wine Bottles

Meredith and Nick received a bottle of wine in a handmade gift bag.  I mentally deconstructed it and came up with step by step directions for making this nifty carrier for that gift bottle of wine.  I made it from a fabric remnant, a button and a ribbon I had on hand.  It is so cute and amazingly easy for an inexperienced sewing maven like me. 

Here's the finished product.  It can hold either a 75ml or 1.5L bottle.

Cut a 16" x 18" piece of fabric and iron 1/2" and another 2 1/2" fold at the long end.

Machine stitch the folded edge.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and sew a 5/8" seam down the open side.

Keep your iron close by and hot.  Fold and press each end into the middle, not quite meeting.

Double stitch the end closed incorporating the folded sides.

Turn inside out and press into shape.

Hand sew a button and a ribbon of your choice and VOILA!

This project was extremely easy and fun.  I wish I had found it before the holidays, but the handmade gift bag for wine or whatever, is an easy way to reuse left over fabric and add a personal touch to the gift.  It would be easy to adapt to a different sized gift as well.