Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hoppy Easter

As Easter nears, we are preparing for family arrivals starting on Thursday, as well as starting preparations for the big traditional meal we will all be eating on Sunday. To enhance those festivities, we now have a little hoppy thing around the house. Thursnight, JS and I came home to find our pup limping, and screaming if we tried to touch the leg she was favoring. JS said it looked broken, so we called the vet and away we went. We still don't know what happened, and the cats aren't talking, so we can only guess. We think either Holly the dog got caught in her blanket or was twirling (yes, she twirls) around the gate to the room and trapped her foot. The vet said this is a fairly common break (where the toes meet the main foot) when they get trapped, panic, and pull quickly. Hopalong Holly stayed overnight at the hospital awaiting tests and x-rays, and late the next day the vet told us he splinted the broken foot and we could come get her, HOWEVER, she will need surgery this coming Wednesday to have pins and a plate put in so the foot can heal properly. Doctor Zacchio and his staff were, as usual, so kind and caring, and they always take such good care of our pets, that we felt very relieved to leave her in their good and competent hands. HollyHop is 13 years old, but she could live to be 20+ if the lives of our previous canines are any indication, so we feel the fix is necessary. We've considered renaming her Pegleg Polly, but we figure she's been through enough trauma for the time being. I can be funny now, but it was absolutely devastating to find her and to have to get her to the hospital while she was still in pain. There is a sign at the vet's office that says "Try to be the person your dog thinks you are"....great food for thought, and something worth working on. The road to recovery is not over for our little Thumper (the sound her splint makes as she's walking around the kitchen floor), but she hasn't slowed down much even with the sedative she's required to take, so I think she'll bounce back quickly and completely. We appreciate everyone sending healing thoughts to her : )

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Things

I accept the challenge to come up with five things you might not know about me, and if you already know them, pretend you didn't, then you'll be pleasantly surprised!

1. I like old movies with Doris Day, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Dee, and anything created by Alfred Hitchcock. Really, I could watch them over and over and over again and never care how many times I've seen them, then I'd watch them again. I can't say that about other movies, even of my modern favorites, well, maybe Fargo.

2. I would rather smell peonies and lilacs than any other flowers in the world. So....I have some lotus essential oil, and I really like it, I just have never smelled a real lotus, so before I add that to the list, I will have to smell a fresh one, and in order to do that, I will need to travel to India.

3. My favorite ice cream flavor is black licorice. Yes, there is such a thing. When I was a child my parents would take us to the dairy barn at South Dakota State University's agriculture college, and we would each get a delicious ice cream cone, the ice cream was made right there, and it was GOOD! They always had black licorice flavor, and that's what I always ordered. I am told they invented cookie dough ice cream, but I haven't looked that fact up to be absolutely sure I should be telling you!

4. If I ever win the lottery, I am determined to help certain causes and people on a list I have compiled over the years, as I truly believe that's the only way you can fully enjoy having so much money. However, I would also treat myself to a ride on the Orient Express....that's what I would do if I had money to burn....ride the Orient Express, yes....I can well imagine that!

5. Last but not least, you will be surprised to know, I am really a chinchilla. Yep. It's true.

Here are a few pictures of March madness:

 The snow soaked right into the ground, but stayed on the trees for a few days, very artistic of nature to have performed such a feat.
 There were little pockets of snow on the pussy willow tips, didn't capture it well enough to see here.
 I can't decide which of these I like better, but the sun was amazingly present after having been so amazingly absent all weekend!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I got this recipe from a friend of mine when we lived in Virginia. She is the same friend who gave me the beautiful piece of Irish lace that protects the bread (below) before it is cut. It is the best soda bread I have ever tasted. This year I substituted almond milk for the buttermilk, I only had a handful of raisins, and a handful of caraway seed, and there was no discernible difference.

Irish Soda Bread

1/4 lb. butter or margarine
6 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
6 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 box raisins
1 box caraway seeds

Combine dry ingredients except for sugar. Cut the butter or margarine in to flour mixture until consistency is that of corn meal. Add raisins and caraway. Beat eggs, buttermilk and sugar in a separate bowl then add to the flour mixture and stir until it holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled glass baking dish and pat down well. Rub top of loaf with milk and cut a large cross in the center, half way through the loaf. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, reduce oven temp to 325 and bake another 50-60 minutes.

We could hardly keep the potatoes and
cabbage from hopping up and down, they
were so excited to get into the pot!!!
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! We had ours a day early as we will be doing a walk for muscular dystrophy tomorrow.

Follain jam for the bread....very yummy!

Leonid Tishkov

I can't seem to find an option to follow or become a member of this blog, but I love this guy's art, so I'm putting the link here for easy access to the photos he so artistically creates.

This is an amazing experience.

Cheers to my fellow moon gazers and to one of my favorite quotes that includes her majesty:

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy? -Oscar Wilde

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We Need Lots of Stuff

We need a lot of things, but just about everything we have we could do without!

I find as I grow older I'm less attached to some things that I used to think were so important. I've always recognized how important my husband is to me, and how important my children are to me, and how important my parents, brothers, sisters, extended family and friends are to me, but that is a separate issue. I used to be very attached to photos, items that belonged to ancestors, gadgets that make life easier, pretty dishes, you get the picture. I have gradually come to realize that I don't really need any of those things, I just like them for a variety of reasons, and if some day I wake up and they're all gone, I'll be okay with that. There are memories associated with photos and antiques, but the memories remain even if those physical items go away. It's nice to be able to juice fruits and vegetables to make them easier to consume and to gain the benefit of the liquid concentrate, but if I didn't juice them, I'd just eat them! I like a nice comfortable home decorated with my own version of beauty, but I also know the most important things, if I'm all alone in the middle of a vast expanse, would be food, water, warmth/shade and a place to lay my head. Of each of those things in my daily life, I am very much appreciative. I'm not going to change my life overnight and give all my things away, but I'm starting to give some of them away, and I know they will be appreciated by the receivers for the same reasons I acquired them in the first place. So life continues.

I don't need this drink, I could drink water, but this is more fun! Rather than soda, fill a glass full of ice almost to the top with sparkling mineral water, then add an unsweetened juice like grapefruit or tart cherry....very refreshing!

 I don't need furniture or a sock basket, but it makes life more comfortable for the pets, and the cats wouldn't have any knitting to pull apart if the sock basket were empty! So, I will keep enjoying the things that have come into my life, keeping in mind the most important things in life are not things.
There is something each of us appreciates today that we couldn't live without tomorrow, if you'd like to share yours, please do!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Springtime....

Every where I la la!

The winter hasn't been HORRIBLY bad, but the smell of soil and the bulb shoots popping out of the ground have me looking forward to spring and itching to get started trimming and planting.

What I SHOULD be doing is working on some Ukrainian eggs, since Easter is right around the corner. I think I'll just get a couple done before the big day, but perhaps will stay inspired once I get started. Here is a work in progress, and one that is finished:

The Easter tree is decorated and in a room with a door so the cats can't treat it like a mouse, and we are looking forward to the preparation and devouring of the traditional Slovak Easter meal, will post recipes and pictures as that wonderfulness unfolds. We'll miss T&C this year, but look forward to having C&J home. C's blog has recipes that will help us recover from the traditional unhealthiness of this once a year indulgence : )

Will be working on some personal renewal and am wishing same for the world!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chips of Kale

There are many recipes to be found online for these tasty nutritious osteoporosis preventing lovelies, but I wanted to try adding vinegar to the mix to see if I could concoct something more to my taste. I think next time I might try to soak them a little longer, as the vinegar taste didn't come through very well. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

To start you'll need apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt or salt substitute, and a couple of bunches of kale. Pull the leaves from the kale, a little bigger than chip size that you like, as they do shrink, leaving the hardest stems for soup or compost

I like to use a plastic shopping bag for mixing. Put as much kale as will fit onto a cookie sheet into the bag, pour 1-2 tsp. each of olive oil and vinegar, then smush it all together for a few minutes until it's well covered with the mixture.

Next lay the kale pieces out on the cookie sheet as individually apart as you can, as you will need to turn them every 20  minutes until they are done. Sprinkle with salt, salt substitute, or your favorite flavoring, T taught me also to use nutritional yeast, which adds a nice cheesy flavor.

Depending on your patience, bake in an oven anywhere from 225 degrees to 250 degrees. From what I understand, the lower the bake temp, the fewer nutrients are lost. If you have a dehydrator, that's even better. Bake for 20 minutes, turn, then continue to bake at 20 minutes intervals until the chips are light and crispy. Better to store in a container that can breathe so they do no rehydrate from any moisture left in the leaves.
And DO enjoy, they are so tasty and good for your bones!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Valentines and Heartstrings

The reason for the Great Train Trip West was to see T&C. We departed on Valentine's Day, and the best Valentines were at our destination. What a wonderful time we had. It was so good to see our kids in their cozy new home and to experience their interpretation of domesticity, very well done : )

Claude was elusive, so I didn't capture him on camera, but I did capture shots of some fantastic meals, all vegetarian and all super delicious!

 Neep and Tattie Scones
 Veggie loaf with neeps and tatties, accompanied by brussels sprouts
 Linguinie with broccoli and avacado in white wine garlic sauce
 Bisquits with raw spun honey
 Curried cauliflower and lentils with naan
Vegetarian chili

The cook and her Mr. who baked the bisquits can be found here:
Wonderful recipes, knits, and other fun stuff

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Meals on Wheels

The picture accompanying this post is of my absolute favorite breakfast in the whole wide world. Soft boiled eggs with butter, a dash of salt, and a dash of Tabasco, along with a piece of toast with lingonberry jam (compliments of T&C), and a juice glass of grapefruit juice. This is why there's no place like home, for anything, including eating.

Even so, on the Great Train Trip West, our train meals were pretty darn good, the ultimate meals on wheels! Our porter, Jamil, on the Capitol Express going out, took our dinner reservation and communicated the evening's choices. There were several entrees from which to choose: roast chicken, steak, vegetarian pasta dish, lamb shank, and crab cakes. If you want to see the actual menu, here is the link:,0.pdf   JS immediately knew he was going to order the roast leg of lamb and I immediately knew I was going to order the crab cakes....all the other choices quickly faded into oblivion! I now realize I didn't think to take pictures of the food, and am truly regretful for that miss. When our reservation of 7:00 p.m. was announced, we walked to the dining car to be seated, and were placed at a table with a gentleman named Mike. Another gentleman, AJ, joined us shortly after, and our drink orders were taken. A lovely salad and bread were served, a nice repast of which to partake while we were getting to know our fellow table guests. The entrees arrived with a vegetable and baked potato (or rice, or mashed potatoes). The lamb was delicious, so I am told, and the crab cakes were very good as well. Dinner was followed by various dessert choices and hot beverages. JS and I each chose to order the berry cheesecake, the perfect ending to the meal. It was really nice to be seated at a table, to eat our food with stainless flatware and from glass dishes, and to have cloth napkins to dab the corners of our drooling mouths : )

Breakfast the next morning was just as good. Scrambled eggs, bacon, grits or whole grain bisquit, juice, and coffee. Our table mate that morning was Leon, who was on his way to Indiana, and again, we had an interesting conversation and received glimpses into each others' lives. We knew we would probably never see our fellow meal guests ever again, but then, who's a small world, and the possibilities are infinite!

We had some time in Chicago after arriving so walked around Union Station, as there was a bazaar in progress. About half an hour later who did we see on his way to the street exit but Leon!!! never know!

There is also a cafe on the train, and a bar, so on our return trip we enjoyed a cocktail before dinner. Our porter on the return trip, Lou, offered to bring dinner to our cabin or make a reservation for us. We chose the reservation and made it for 8 p.m. since the return train was pulling out a bit later. JS liked the lamb so much the first time he ordered it again! I ordered the roast chicken, and was just as pleased with it as I was with the crab cakes. We were pretty stuffed so shared a raspberry sorbet for dessert this time. Our table mate for our second dinner was Helen.

Return breakfast (or should I say "second breakfast"?!!!) was the same as the trip out, and just as welcome and delicious. Our table mate that morning was Ben from Florida, who wasn't sure if he liked the cold or not, but was beginning to decide that if he had his druthers, he'd probably choose Florida!

We both are somewhat introverted, but we so enjoyed the opportunity to meet other travelers at mealtimes and to get to know their stories. What a great experience, we wish it for everyone. That's why we are joining we think more trains and more routes are good ideas!