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, February 28, 2012

My Academy Award Pick

War Horse
Twenty years ago this movie would have won, hands down.  I liked “The Artist” but it didn’t compare to  " War Horse,” in my opinion.  This was the best movie I have seen in a long time.  It is an old fashioned epic movie with family sentiments and characters you love.  Albert is the young man in rural England who trains the exquisite horse, he names Joey.  A bond develops that reminded me of “The Black Stallion,” boy-horse relationship.  That movie is a favorite of mine.  Both of these movies have their silent elements where the boy-horse attraction unfolds without words, but your heart soars as you watch.  

 The father’s extravagant purchase of the horse puts the family in financial peril that forces the father to sell the horse to a military officer to be used in the beginning battles of WWI.  The horse moves through the war changing and inspiring the lives of all who experience time with this amazing horse—British Cavalry,  German Soldiers and a French farmer and his granddaughter.  I liked that they portrayed the German soldiers as men with human empathy. 

There are magical elements to the story, which bespeaks the hand of Providence.   Someone told me that it was sad and I dreaded the ending thinking that was the sadness.  But it isn’t sad.  It is joyful, relationship affirming, as the characters move through their trials loving and supporting each other.  This is a movie I will want to own.  I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end.  Anyone 8 years and older would enjoy this movie.    4  stars

Friday, February 24, 2012


This is a wonderful, healthy salad.  I have made it several times and it will be a staple in my cooking.  It is great winter salad and stays good for a long time.


1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta ( I like the small version) Don’t cook too soft. 1/2 pound fresh broccoli and ½ lb. cauliflower (or all broccoli) For the broccoli a pound is one good size flower and about 1/2 head of cauliflower. All broccoli is good.  Cut the pieces a small bite size.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar (scant)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup diced red onion (my husband hates onions so I didn’t add)
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
I put in a cubed apple and once I used some orange pieces...all good
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled  (I used the precooked from Costco…the greatest thing ever)
1 Can lightly salted cashews

2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Rinse in cold water.
3. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into very small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.
4. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, cooked pasta, and grapes, and stir to coat. Stir bacon and nuts into salad just before serving.
This makes a giant salad and can easily be halved.  It stays good in the refrigerator for a week. 

Adapted from Southern Living SEPTEMBER 2011

Friday, February 17, 2012


This is my second George Eliot.  I do like her writing.  I plan to read all her books sometime, but I did like Adam Bede better.
I almost quit after 120 pages.  I did for awhile and read another book, then I decided to give it another chance to keep me awake.  I didn’t like the characters.  The story centers on the Tulliver family.  Mr. Tulliver owns the Mill on the Floss River, which has been in his family for generations.  The mill has given him some village distinction as a successful tradesman.  The family lives comfortably.  Mrs. Tulliver has 3 irritating sisters, who constantly correct and criticize the children, Tom and Maggie.  The story is Tom and Maggie’s, but more Maggie’s.  No one has patience for the little free spirited child.  She always seems to be in trouble for one non-conforming action after another, like getting dirty, being outspoken and cutting her own hair when everyone complains about how messy it is.   Maggie is tall with a dark complexion and black unruly hair.  She is constantly being compared to one of the sister’s fair, petite and proper daughters, Lucy.
Maggie’s older brother Tom is favored and plans are made to send him to school when Maggie is the real scholar.  Maggie loves her brother and longs for his acceptance and attention.   Tom has Maggie’s heart but his frequent censures constantly wound her.  The disappointment in this sibling relationship will plague Maggie to the end.  She willingly sacrifices her own happiness for her brother’s good favor.

The family wrangling over money and criticizing the children was oppressive in the first 100 pages.  I felt that Elliot spent too much time on developing the characters before anything happened, but I understood when the plot began to be evident in the last half of the book.

Mr. Tulliver sacrifices to send Tom to be schooled with a pastor in a semi-private situation.  Tom is not happy there learning Latin and classic literature.  He is more at home in the woods killing rats.  Philip Wakum is Tom’s classmate who is indeed a scholar and an artist.  Philip has a hunch back that makes him repugnant to Tom.  Maggie comes to visit Tom at school and stays on several occasions, developing a connection with Philip.  Their minds meet as friends and intellectual equals, with no thought of Phillip’s looks and disabilities.

Mr. Tulliver loses the Mill and family fortune in a nasty lawsuit with Philip Wakem’s solicitor father.  This event creates an intense hate and hostility between the families and ends Tom’s schooling and the friendship between Maggie and Philip.  Tom and Maggie leave home to work. 

Tom’s childhood friend Bob plays a pivotal role in the story.  There is an interesting contrast between this very poor boy and the rich Aunts, who are stingy, judgmental and non-supportive to the Tulliver family in trouble.   Bob earns a 10 pound reward for stopping a fire on the wharf.  He spends a pound on himself and comes to Tom and Maggie, in their time of need, to offer them the remaining  9 pounds, because he believes they need it more than he does.  He buys books for Maggie because he knows she loves them.  Later he brings Tom into his business ventures and ultimately shares his home with them with no motives for personal gain. 

Maggie grows to be a uniquely beautiful woman, losing her childhood clumsiness, but not her spunk and free spirit.  Her lovely cousin Lucy has long been her friend and ally.  Maggie leaves her position to visit Lucy and have a needed rest.  Lucy is almost engaged to a dashing young man, Stephen Guest.  Stephen is thrown together with Maggie for the long visit and becomes quietly besot with her.  Philip is also back in the picture.  The plot thickens as Maggie is forced into a situation to break her brother’s heart (he has forbid her to see Philip) or her dear cousin Lucy’s if she responds to Stephen’s advances.  

The story ends as a sad and poignant romance.   George Elliot continues to write her philosophical interludes as the story moves along, as she did in Adam Bede, almost as a Godlike over looker of the events...not as often, but I still liked her insights.   I am glad I read it but you must have some stamina to get through the beginning.  3 ½  stars.

The BBC has a 3 hour production of the book.  The movie begins with the irritating aunts and they are as hard to take as they were in the book, only now they scream and hurt your ears.  I have a great tolerance for British drama.  I enjoyed it, but someone without my patience or if you haven’t read the book you might not enjoy it as much.  It was made in the 70’s and looks quite dated.  But it does follow the storyline nicely.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


My husband and I really like this (and he is fussy).  I have already made it several times.   I bought some frozen Lobster pieces at Costco this week and I am going to try it with Lobster next. 
I used frozen raw shrimp from Costco.  The recipe I based this on used unpeeled raw shrimp for making shrimp stock using the shrimp peel. The Costco shrimp only have a tail but it was fine.

Remove the tails (and peels if you have them) from one pound of shrimp.  Put the tails in a saucepan with:
2 ½ C. water
1 T. dry onion flakes
10 grinds of fresh pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh or 1 T. dry parsley
2 dry bay leaves
Simmer for 20 minutes.

While the stock is cooking in a Dutch oven size pot add:
2 T. butter
3 T. grated fresh onion
3 cloves grated garlic
Stir fry until it starts to brown 

2 Stalks grated celery (throw away the strings that won’t grate)
4 T. flour
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 ½ C. milk
½ Cup cream
1/3 C. cooking Sherry (can purchase in the grocery store in Utah)
4 large fresh basil leaves minced or 1 tsp. dry basil leaves
Hot sauce or cayenne to taste

Stir all these ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Blend with an immersion blender. Strain the shrimp stock (remove the bay leaves and add to your soup for the remaining cooking) and add to the pot. Correct the salt to taste.  Add 10-15 more grates of pepper.  Add ½ c. Orzo or Israeli Couscous (optional) and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Cut each shrimp into 3-4 pieces and add to the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 more minutes.  Serve with chopped green onions if desired.   Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

THE ARTIST - Movie Review

Orson Scot Card, in his review of “The Artist" in the New York Times calls it “Sparkling, Swooning and Suffering Wordlessly.” I liked that description.  I knew it was a Silent movie with rave reviews, but wasn’t sure what to expect.  I don’t think I have ever seen an entire silent movie.  I have a preconceived idea of over the top slapstick and corniness.  I was delighted and charmed with “ The Artist.”  The movie is a unique feast of old fashioned silent movie melodrama, but with an updated improvement in story and characters.  The theme is silent movies.  The protagonist George Valentin,  an aging, well-known silent movie star, finds himself on the outs when “talkies” arrive on the scene.  He is not really willing to make the transition.   A much younger, aspiring actress, Peppy Miller becomes infatuated with George and becomes an ally to help him find his way.  Peppy sparkles, not so much with movie star glamor but with a girl next door vivacity.   George’s dog almost steals the show and his chauffeur (James Cromwell) is a charming friend and support through all his trouble.  There are a few subtitles and some nice music throughout the movie.  The only words are spoken in the last few minutes.  It is also in black and white, which only makes it feel more authentic.   “Fun!” best describes the movie.   3 good stars. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CHEESY PASTA - The best!

This is the best pasta dish ever.  It can be made with or without spinach. 

Cheesy  Pasta  With Spinach or Not

16 ounces Rigatoni 2 minutes undercooked

1 Clove of garlic grated and fried a little brown in 1 T. olive oil  Add:
3 Cups of milk, 6 T flour,  1 tsp. salt and some generous grates of pepper.  Bring to a boil and stir cooking for one minute. 

Add: 1 cup sour cream to the sauce and stir into the pasta.

Mix together 2 eggs, lightly beaten and
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese, add
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese,  1/4 C Romano (or more Parmesan) and ¼ C. fresh parsley (Not necessary if you are doing spinach)  and 1/2 tsp. salt and fresh pepper. Optional (1 bunch fresh spinach (8 oz. or 8 cups) steamed, chopped and drained.

Put half the pasta mixture in a Pam sprayed, 3 quart casserole, top with the ricotta mixture and the remaining pasta.  Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (Any cheese works.)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cover and bake for 25 minutes  (45-50 min.  if cold). Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly.

 The spinach filling