Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies
Made into tile for my stove backsplash

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden
Mike and my 2 youngest sons Ian and Leif

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons
With son Beau, Grandson Luke and his mom Jennifer


I cut this out of a wedding line. I must take more pictures of her.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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Sunday, November 27, 2011


Traveling in New England this fall we had so many lovely fish chowders it inspired me to create this when I had a piece of leftover grilled salmon.  It is a nice change from clams. 
2 T Olive oil in a Dutch oven with
½ chopped onion
2 Cloves grated garlic
Stir fry until they start to brown for good flavor

Add 4 Cups water and:
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp oregano leaves (no powder)
½ C chopped celery, leaves and all
1 large carrot chopped
1 bay leaf if desired
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt

Simmer 10 minutes and add:
4 medium potatoes diced and simmer 20 more minutes
With a potato masher squish up the vegetable until they are small chunks.

Mix together until smooth:
2 C. Milk
1 C. Cream
2/3 C flour

Add to the soup and simmer until thick.  Add 1 ½ -2 C flaked grilled salmon
Correct salt.  Sprinkle with bacon bits if desired.   

Monday, November 21, 2011


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Sunlight creeps into a new day.  I open my eyes and my first thought on November 19 is, “Today is my birthday.  Does anyone know?  Does anyone care?  Well, I do.”   Birthdays are important because they celebrate our life for a day.  Feelings about the day morph as life goes on but at some point, as an adult, we need to make peace with the existence of birthdays and decide how we will live out the remainder of our life of birthdays.  And for me I decided long ago that I would define my own celebration.  I gave myself permission to feel special on that day and that I wanted those in my life to feel important on their birthday, if possible. 

My mother was there on that cold November day when I came.  She alone remembered every detail of my beginnings and they were vivid in her thoughts during each of my birthdays to follow, I know.  I am sure she recalled my rosebud mouth (she said I had one), my wee, pink 5 pounds curled in her arms, smelling of baby lotion sweetness.  There is no earthly joy quite like that day for a new mother.  I believe that is why mothers instigate birthday celebrations forever after.  
When October comes I know I will reminisce the births of my first 3 Children.  My first boy arrived right on time, October 3--a 9 ½ lb. breech, C-section after 22 hours of labor, when I thought I might die—then the wonder of the sweet little boy in my arms.  I never expected to feel this much elation, especially after the difficult delivery.  Three years later on October 6, a little girl was born at 5:52 AM.  I still see 5:52 AM on my clock some mornings and think of that day.  She was a healthy 10 ½ lbs. but there was no labor this time—a scheduled caesarian.  She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen with her big eyes and dark skull cap of hair.  Oh yes, I should celebrate this day.  And then 2 years later, on October 12, another little boy was born with clogged tear ducts and a little indentation in his chest, but it made me want to love him even more.  8 lbs. 12 oz. made him my smallest baby, but now he is the tallest at 6’6”.   And then there was a gift for my mother, a beautiful 10 lb. little boy born on June 19, her birthday.  How delightful of him to come on that day. 

We didn’t have friend birthday parties when I was a child except once for me when I was 10.  I am still amazed my mother did it.  Our house was an unfinished basement embarrassment.  We lived 3 miles out of town.  I didn’t have friends come to play very often.  But my sweet mother waxed the old linoleum, made the beds and tidied up the house.  She baked her famous golden layer birthday cake with mounds of fluffy 7 minute frosting and crowned it with 10 candles for me to blow out, while 7 little girls sang happy birthday to me.  It was a surprise party.  I left the bus and skipped down the lane to my home after school anticipating that there would at least be a family party and always the special cake and a present.  But my heart leapt with joy when I opened the door to the shouts of “Surprise!”  I can still feel every minute of that lovely day.  Thank you mother for that happy memory.  Maybe that is why I agreed to a birthday party every year for each  of my children.  The first week of October was always a mad house of parties and baking, but I did it anyway.  And it was always lots of fun.

When my first little boy, Beau, was a year old we were students at Stanford living in a 4-plex facing another one with a courtyard in the middle.  We invited everyone we knew.  I made papier-mâché puppets of Goldilocks and the 3 bears and put on a puppet show.  We cranked homemade ice cream to eat with the clown cake and had a fish pond for the kids.   When my grandson Michael was two I resurrected the puppets and rewrote the Goldilocks story for him.  For the next 4 birthdays I wrote a new puppet show and collected a rag-tag of assorted puppets for the stories.  And I made whatever cake he wanted—a horse, an elephant, a cheetah and others.  His mom lets me make the cakes.  Last year Luke came for Michael’s 9th birthday and I wrote another show about the two of them.  (All the stories and puppets are saved for retelling.) 

Lots of years I cook and invite friends to my house for my own birthday lunch.  No one is allowed to bring presents.  We just have a nice gab fest.  I love doing it.  I also give lots of birthday lunches for friends or would be friends. 
There have been years, after they left the nest, when some of my children have forgotten my birthday.  I don’t really care about presents but I do want to be remembered with at least a phone call.  I think they would be very hurt if I forgot them.  I usually call them late in the evening.  Sometimes I sing, “happy birthday to me.”  Now they never forget.   Again, I believe we should define how we want our birthday to be and never feel sad or rejected because someone didn’t make us feel happy on our day.  We can make our own happiness.  It helps to communicate what you want. 

Mike loves the birthday cake with the fluffy frosting.  That’s all he cares about.  But he wants fudge filling in the middle.  That is my addition to make it special for him, chocolate lover that he is.   One year Leif’s girlfriend called me from Seattle wanting to know how to make a Snicker Pie so she could make it for his birthday.  He always wanted a Snicker Pie instead of a cake and I am glad I had something that he remembered with longing.  Beau always wants a Fresh Peach Cream Pie.  I feel happy that I had traditions of something from my kitchen, to show my love, and not just a cake from Smiths.  Maren likes the old family birthday cake.  Once I tried to mail her one when she was living in South Carolina.  Something was wrong with the address and by the time it arrived it was not worth eating.  (I did have the frosting separate for her to frost but alas the plan failed, hopefully I got credit for trying.)
The morning after my birthday when the light strikes my eyes I think, “Whew, I am glad my birthday is over and I can go back to feeling normal.”  One day a year is more than enough of that special birthday feeling. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BOOK REVIEW - ADAM BEDE by George Elliot

ADAM BEDE by George Elliot
I don’t mind reading a book with a slow start like Adam Bede if I am enchanted by the writing, which I was in this book.  The first few pages worried me as they had so much peasant dialect I thought it might take me forever to get through it all.  But it eased off as the story moved along and popped up only occasionally and then I got better at bumping through it.  Recently I received an e-mail with these lines.  It reminded me of some of the paragraphs with dialect that I struggled with at the beginning.
0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.
This book was a delicious read for me, but is not for the quick read, pulp fiction fan.  I enjoyed the plodding character development of the beginning chapters.  Elliot’s descriptions of pastoral life were like viewing a classic painting, so rich and detailed with light and colors.
“ The low westering sun shone right on the shoulders of the old Binton Hills, turning the unconscious sheep into bright spots of light; shone with a glory beyond that of amber or amethyst.  It was enough to make Adam feel that he was in a great temple…”  (P. 485)
Elliot’s Adam Bede is a well-liked man’s man with good looks, wisdom and honor.  He is a carpenter, self-educated and brilliant beyond his peers. He is fondly connected from childhood to Arthur Donithorne, grandson of the old squire, slated to be the next squire when the old man dies.  Arthur prides himself in his generosity and dreams of being a better master to his tenants than his grandfather has been when his time comes. 
Both men (unbeknownst to the other) are besot with Hetty, the beautiful niece of the best tenant farmer, Martin Poysner.  I knew someone like Hetty once, a woman so beautiful that you can’t look away.  I think beauty this stunning is rare.  But Hetty had her character flaws, driven by her vanity, perhaps a common temptation to a woman of her brilliance.
“Adam was looking at Hetty, and saw the frown, and pout, and the dark eyes seeming to grow larger with pettish half-gathered tears.  Quiet Mary Burge, who sat near enough to see her, thought that so sensible a man as Adam must be reflecting on the small value of beauty in a woman whose temper was bad.  Mary was a good girl, not given to indulge in evil feelings, but she said to herself, that, since Hetty had bad temper, it was better Adam should know it.  And it was quite true that if Hetty had been plain, she would have looked very ugly and unamiable at that moment, and no one’s moral judgment upon her would have been in the least beguiled.  But really there was something quite charming in her pettishness:  It looked so much more like innocent distress than ill humor; and the severe Adam felt no movement of disapprobation; he only felt a sort of amused pity, as if he had seen a kitten setting up its back, or a little bird with his feathers ruffled.  He could not gather what was vexing her, but it was impossible to him to feel otherwise than that she was the prettiest thing in the world, and that if he could have his way, nothing should ever vex her any more.” P. 255 
But Arthur is the one who wins Hetty’s favor with a hopeless liaison of different classes, sure to break her heart.  Arthur knows he is doing wrong and plans to break it off after a little indulgent toying.  He is not an evil cad, but a man caught in a weakness of temptation that he cannot break from until he finally decides to leave with his military regiment.  By this time Arthur knows that Adam loves Hetty too and hopes that his going will open a door for their relationship. 
This is the plot set up.  What is to happen to Hetty?  Don’t read too many reviews of this story as there are surprises that you don’t want to have spoiled. 
The story has many poignant spiritual elements, mostly centered about the character Dinah, also a niece of the Poysners.  She is beautiful in her own simple way but as different from Hetty as possible.  Dinah is a Methodist preacher who has dedicated her life to Christ.  As a woman she is an anomaly, but the crowds are drawn to her words and countenance.  Dinah has a spiritual gift for comforting.  As a motivated Christian I was inspired by her character:
“From her girlhood upwards she had had experience among the sick and the mourning, among minds hardened and shriveled through poverty and ignorance, and had gained the subtlest perception of the mode in which they could best be touched and softened in willingness to receive words of spiritual consolation or warning.  As Dinah expressed it, ‘she was never left to herself; but it was always given her when to keep silence and when to speak.”  And do we not all agree to call rapid thought and noble impulse by the name of inspiration? After our subtlest analysis of the mental process, we must still say, as Dinah did, that our highest thoughts and our best deeds are all given to us.”
George Eliot narrates parts of the book as a godlike onlooker helping us understand characters, often with of plea to hold judgment.  I thought her interludes were insightful and even fun.   Her wisdom and understanding of human nature is profound.   There are no evil characters, only interesting, flawed and selfish humans as exists in all of us. There is so much wit and wisdom in this book that I would like to give you a page or two of quotes, but the best would be to read it.   
This is my first George Eliot, but I have already purchased a book of her best novels.  I am looking forward to more of her words. 
Masterpiece Theater has  a production of this that I rented on Net Flix.  It was enjoyable after reading the book.  It might seem shallow before.  They did take some cinematic liberties with the story that I did not like, mostly exposing elements that should have waited for the last. And some that were never exposed in the book of a sexual encounter that didn't need to be played out. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This is my favorite dessert find this year.  I have a box of them in the freezer right now for any unexpected dinner needs or personal cravings.  They will thaw in 5 minutes and are totally satisfying for a little sugar, chocolate fix.  Plus they look like you bought them at an exclusive bakery.

Crush 15 Oreo Cookies and mix with 2 T. melted butter. 
Use a 9 inch square pan or a 7x11 pan. (this size is important)  Line with foil and wrap outside the pan. Spray with Pam
Press the Oreo mixture into the bottom

Beat 2- 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese with
½ C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ C. sour cream

When nice and smooth gently fold in 10 more Oreo cookies, each broken into 4 or 5 pieces.  Pour onto the crust and spread to the corners.  Bake at 325 for about 30-35 minutes or until the center is set.  (It will start to brown just a little on the top)

When cold pull out of the pan in the foil and cut into squares about 1 inch wide.  Line them up squarely on a cookie sheet and drizzle with the chocolate as described below.

Melt 6-8 oz. each of white and milk or semisweet chocolate (separately) I like the milk for this.  You can use chocolate chips or chopped bulk chocolate. (Guittard for chips)  If you use white chocolate chips they are not really chocolate and don’t melt as well so add 1 tsp oil and stir well after melting. (Bakers sells a White Chocolate cube at the grocer about the right size)  The microwave has a way of ruining chocolate.  I wouldn’t use it for this.  You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or put the chocolate in a bowl over some very hot water and stir until melted.  Chocolate is sensitive to high heat and will get grainy, so if you do it in the double boiler just get the water hot and remove from the heat.  My favorite way to melt chocolate is in the oven overnight with the oven light on.  It produces enough heat to melt the chocolate.  It doesn’t even need chopped if you have a block.  So I like to make the cheesecake one day, cool overnight, and that night put the chocolate in the oven to melt and drizzle the next morning.

Spoon the chocolate into a small ziplock bag and squeeze it all into a corner, twist the top a little.  Snip a very small corner off the end.  Drizzle stripes of the brown chocolate going one way and then stripes of the white chocolate going the other way.  They end up looking very professional. 

You can freeze these for a month or two if they last that long.  


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


For Cape Cod Slideshow click here


Flying to Boston
Arrive in tandem with the Whitmers
Unexpected good luck
Falmouth condo, roomy, smell of stale smoke
Should have complained
Dinner at Liam Maguires, so-so meal but
Good clam chowder

Sunday church at Cape Cod Branch
Small group with a great spirit
Impressive missionary homecoming
Drive to Wellfleet for Oyster Fest
Arrive for last hour
Steve begins his 6 day oyster gorge
Lovely oyster stew, crab cakes, clam chowder, jolly crowd

Race Point beach for glowing sunset
Charming Province Town
Pilgrims Monument rising in the evening light

On to Barnstable on Monday
Thrilled to see John Lathrops home and Bible
Sandwich gristmill, a taste of New England history
Toad Museum with antique red cars

Lunch outside on the wharf at Hyannis Port
Gallons of clam chowder consumed by us this week
Charming Chatham with lovely galleries and
Bags of stale candy, half price

Tuesday, the ferry to Martha’s Vinyard
I see why so loved by the rich and famous
A bus to Vineyard Haven
Lunch at the classy Atlantic overlooking the port
Lovely view, beautiful food!

Bus to Oak Bluffs to see
The Methodist revival camps with
The giant tabernacle and
A hundredish quaint, colorful little gingerbread houses

Wednesday, pouring rain all day
Drive to Plymouth for the Mayflower
A break in the storm for a walk around the Pilgrim villages
Thanksgiving sandwiches and clam chowder at the village café

A drive in the pouring rain to Jerimoth Rhode Island
So Steve can climb the high point, 812 ft. above sea level
A 500 yard stroll with umbrellas
Beautiful leaves, the best yet
Dinner at the Quaterdeck in Falmouth
More oysters, sword fish and scallops to die for
Perhaps the best food of all

Thursday, Hat shopping in Falmouth
A cute hat for Viki
Back to Sandwich for
Lunch at the Famous Daniel Webster restaurant
Ambiance better than the OK food
Perusing antique stores
Collecting seashells and rocks on the windy beach

Our last full day in Boston
Duck Boat sight seeing
Parts of the Freedom Path walk
The Boston Commons and fruit stands
The Birthplace of Liberty, Faneuil Hall
Lunch at the Hall markets with too many choices

Saturday drive to the Airport
The Whitmers fly off and
We head for the lovely tree of life Boston temple
In time for some sealings
Goodby Cape Cod, love you!

Best friend on this trip?  The GPS