Monday, November 30, 2015

Eclectic Mix



She told me about the do-it-yourself mailing machine!

They brought the cookies I wolfed down on the way to the post office!

This is Paul.  I spent twenty minutes feeling up Lego packets with him at the Toys-R-Us store, trying to determine which mini-figurine was inside each one.

I couldn't afford to get another "Mr. Piggy"!
("I don't like PINK!" declared The Little Actor, when he'd opened the first two mini-figurine packets I'd purchased and, against all odds, they were both the same!).




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Getting an Early Christmas Jingle

with a little bit of a jangle!
Since it was The Yard Man himself who was trotting his horses back to the evergreens, I had the privilege of riding on the high seat.
video

The Yard Man was under the employment of a Christmas tree farm not far from our house.  He's going to be driving shoppers into the fields every Saturday for the next few weeks, and I determined that tagging a tree today (for future cutting) would be easy and fun.

But, Dear Reader, it was a damp and gray afternoon.  After I climbed down off that wagon and started tramping around in search of Christmas tree perfection, the clouds yielded up real tears.  By the time I left that tree farm, I was damp and a little gray myself.

As I explained to the Yard Man, each time he jingled by to see if I'd achieved success,  "I'm driving myself crazy!"

For here's the thing, Reader Dear: I was intent on finding a Douglas Fir that was lush and green and beautifully formed,  and there were none! 
Well, there were some that looked healthy and green, but they were few and far between. Worst of all, they'd already been tagged!
Dear Reader, I searched and searched. Tramped and tramped.  Always the good ones were tagged!

videoI rode on the wagon once with another party who had found Christmas tree happiness in a relatively short time.  But, they had a Frasier Fir.

At last it was quitting time.
I gritted my teeth, tagged a tree that I tried to love, and rode my jingling way back to the shop.  
"I searched a long time!" I explained to the owner of the trees. 
"So many of them were filled with brown needles."
"Yes," he explained.  "The Douglas Firs got a disease.  We had to burn three-hundred of them that were too damaged to recover!  There were only a few that escaped the disease, and those were tagged by Penn State.  They are going to do research on them."
Then he added,
"We decided we will let our customers buy them.  But, Penn State can take any of those healthy tagged trees that we don't sell."
Reader Dear...uh...did you hear it?  Most of those hundreds of Douglas Firs were suffering from a disease (they say that many will recover by next year).  The few nice tagged ones are only reserved for Penn State if no one buys them!
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Epilogue: After nearly two hours of slogging around under weeping skies, and believing that any lush green Douglas Fir I found was already claimed by someone else,   I couldn't go out in that field again!  I carried away a nice-looking and disease-free Douglas Fir that had already been cut and sitting at the shop for sale* when I boarded The Yard Man's wagon to begin my quest.

*"It's not true of all the varieties, but the Douglas Firs start dying the minute they're cut," the tree farm owner told me.**
 **"We cut this tree on Wednesday," he said.




Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day Meal made Simple.


All I did was turn the cranberries into the cranberry sauce, and--abracadabra--The Yard Man and I ended up with a decidedly delectable Thanksgiving Day Meal and delightful dinner companions!****

Reader Dear, here's the secret:  Gracefully (and gratefully) bow out of the job of host and-or hostess to the meal!  (If you've got an Only Daughter-in-Law with meal-making talent and clamoring to take on the task [along with her sous chef, Only Son], you're in luck.)
I was in luck!
video

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 *Oops.  No photo of a full half of those partaking of the yummy food! Got the family members of Only Daughter-in-Law and their  British (and China-dwelling) neighbors (next to whom I had the good fortune to be seated!) Neglected to photograph First Son-in-Law and my three diminutive actors.  Also missed a picture of the two adolescent cousins of The Small Actor, who were able to give my three young ones a rousing good time!**
**Turning off the lights in an upstairs bedroom, moving things around and arranging them in weird and unusual ways; then, suddenly snapping on the lights to provoke screams of fear and bravery bunched together into fun! ***
The adults were far more staid. No screaming.
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****For which we were truly thankful!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I Like the Gray, November Day

And bare dead boughs that coldly sway against my pane.
I like the rain.
I like the fall,
the mist and all.

Except, truth be told, Dear Reader, I far prefer the sun and all.
Plus unusual warmth,
let it befall!
(Thus far, here in my spot of the world, November has treated the residents warmly)



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It's been such gloriously sixty-ish weather for the first half of the month that my little actors and their entourage were able to take shirt-sleeve walks in two different parks on two separate Sunday afternoons!

video
On that first occasion, the movie I produced is entitled, Into the Wild Bamboo.

Fortunately, the little explorers were not lost in the jungle during their expedition. I was able to get the sequel:
Out of the Wild Bamboo

video
.........
Second Occasion:  Millport Conservancy Park.
                                          




Oh, yes.  It's so true!
I very much prefer the yellow to the gray (November day)! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SIX=6=VI

The Little Actor Turned Six Years Old Today!

He had a birthday party!  He got birthday presents!
And, The Yard Man and I, we got a gift, too!
We were the lucky ones to take this little celebrity out to eat tonight.  People magazine's been  hanging around, but I'm giving the inside scoop directly to you, Reader Dear!  His dinner order was Mac n' Cheese, with a side of squeezable yogurt.  Birthday dessert was a big cookie full of M&Ms. 
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(We didn't linger long at the restaurant, because even birthday boys have bedtimes [and, anyway,  what's to top a big cookie filled with M&Ms?]!)


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Autumn

at its loveliest.
This, Dear Viewer Dear, is the fitness center where I took my daily* walk this evening.  Stunning,** no?
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*This word an approximation.
**This word not an approximation.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Now I'm a Carver Craver!

It's the truth; I'm craving this soup.  Reader Dear, this soup was like no other I've ever tasted.   I took one bite and swooned!
I'm speaking, of course, about the George Washington Carver Memorial Soup that Mi Amiga prepared for her guests when The Yard Man and I went to see her and Mr. Amigo at their home in Virginia the other weekend.

Yes, it made me ecstatic.  I started craving more of it from the very first delectable spoonful.  And I've been craving it ever since!  I so want to concoct some of this stuff.  If I were able to collect all the ingredients and carve out enough time, my lucky stars would shine!

There's just no way, Dear Reader, I can convey the velvety mouth- feel and the sweetly savory richness of this soup unless I offer you a bite.  And, well, here's the hitch.  You, Dear Chef, will have to be the one to prepare this delicious soup before I can reasonably say, "Go ahead.  Try some!"*

So, here is the recipe.  Mi Amiga got it from a friend so true,** who likely got it from someone she knew, who could have gotten it from a radio show (for all I know).  However, I believe that Mi Amiga tweaked the ingredient list enough that I'm going to give her full and total credit for it.  She's the one who collected all the ingredients and  carved out the time to prepare it for her guests!  She's the one who got me craving!

George Washington Carver Memorial Soup 

Ingredients:
(The list is daunting. Be brave! [I whisper to myself])
....1/2 Cup peanut or grape seed oil
....1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
....2 cloves of garlic, minced
....2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated              
....2 teaspoons cumin powder
....2 teaspoons coriander powder
....1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
....1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
....2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
....8 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
....2 sweet potatoes (1 1/2- 2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
....2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch sections
....1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
....1/2 cup organic dark roasted peanut butter
.....1 teaspoon salt
....1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
....Sour cream, dollop, optional
....1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped, optional

Instructions:
(Just twelve easy steps! [I fantasize])
.....Coat sweet potatoes, carrots and onion wedges with all but two     tablespoons of the oil.
....Sprinkle with salt.
....Place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until soft.
.....Cut off any black (and eat it. YummySmiling face with open mouth). Dark brown is fine.
.....Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottom saucepan and add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
.....Add the garlic, ginger and all of the spices.
.....Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring.
.....Add the tomato paste, peanut butter, the roasted vegetables, salt, cayenne pepper, and stock.
.....Mix well.
..... Remove from heat.
.....Put mixture in bowl of a blender or food processor in batches and blend until smooth.
.....Pour mixture back into saucepan and heat over medium - low heat until heated through.
(following steps are all totally optional)
.....Ladle into bowls.
.....Garnish with dollop of sour cream, chopped peanuts and cilantro.
.....Take a bite.
.....Gasp with delight.
.....Dance around the room throwing flower petals (paper confetti would also suffice).
.....Sing a short aria.
.....Dream of serving George Washing Carver Memorial Soup to every soul who's ever smiled at you.
.....Blog about it. 

Serves 6-8. (So they say.)
Dear Chef, let me know if you make this soup one day!

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*Reader Dear, it's not easy shipping soup.
**I really have no idea about the friendship other than knowing that only a friend so true would share this recipe with you. 
(Gracias, Mi Amiga!)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Autumn Olio


Last week I gathered my final harvest of Pears.
Reader Dear, there are the lean years, and there are the lush.
This year, pear-wise, was the lushiest ever!