Thursday, May 31, 2012

Let them eat cake!

Joining the Pinterest Party hosted by Mindee over at Our Front Door today. I'm sharing a simple and delicious recipe I've made hundreds of times and while I know that's not exactly playing by the rules wouldn't you rather me post a recipe I know is tasty as opposed to one that is just a maybe?

I thought so.

Actually this recipe pops up on Pinterest quite often but I'm pretty certain the credit should go to Bisquick.

Strawberry Shortcake

If you don't have a shortcake recipe you already love then I recommend you give this one a try. It's super easy, delicious, and I think, foolproof.

The recipe says to sprinkle your berries with a little sugar. I like to cut mine up several hours ahead of serving so they have plenty of juice. Don't skip the sugar because you want the juice it creates.

These shortcake biscuits are rustic and not overly sweet.

Slice them in half and put a layer of berries in the middle. Pop the top back on and then add more berries, and of course a big dollop of real whipped cream. Yes, it must be real whipped cream. I loathe artificial whipped toppings.

I made this for Memorial Day and tossed a few blueberries on the side too.
Happy Summer!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saluting the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 79

Do these short weeks throw anybody else off track? Somehow it's already Wednesday which means the Hodgepodge is rolling around here again. I'm glad you joined the fun sure to add your link to the bottom of my post and include a link back here on your blog so everyone can play along. Here are my answers-

1. What can the average citizen do to honor a military veteran and/or those currently serving?

Fly your flag, say thank you to a veteran, support projects that aid the wounded, vote, and most especially-don't bad mouth proud of America and grateful for the freedoms men and women have died protecting.

2. Besides a flag, what is something you own that is red, white, and blue?

I have a bathing suit that's red white and blue, more nautical than patriotic. I have a pillow with a Union Jack background so that's red, white and blue. There's more I'm sure but those are the two that popped into my head today.

3. Does love really conquer all?

Not as simple as the question seemed at first glance. God's love conquers all...there is nothing too big for Him. Human love on the other hand, is complicated. Love makes us want to commit to another person and I think love is what helps us get over and through the challenges life throws our way. Maybe it would be better to say love and commitment conquer all.

4. Strawberry shortcake or blueberry pie?

These are two of my favorite desserts. I have a really delicious recipe for blueberry pie but shortcake just screams sunshine and summertime. I'd probably pick shortcake.

5. Do you share personal stuff with your hairdresser?

To a degree. I talk a lot and my hairdresser is a captive audience. I took daughter2 for a haircut when she was home recently and I noticed she kept up a running commentary the whole time my stylist was working on her hair. Afterwards my stylist said, 'She's just like you.'

Hmmm....I'm going to take that as a compliment.

6. Does money lead to selfishness?

Sometimes. Other times it leads to great generosity.

7. What piece of furniture in your home most needs replacing or refinishing?

The chair my pup claimed as her own the minute she was big enough to hop up in it. She isn't allowed on the furniture except for that one piece.

It needs recovering in the worst way but there's no point doing that while we have her with us. That chair is her happy place and if I recovered it now I know I wouldn't want her on it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The humidity is ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 79

I hope you enjoyed the long holiday weekend and are ready for a new edition of the Hodgepodge. If you live outside the USA I hope your weekend was good too. Come back tomorrow to link answers with your friends and neighbors-

1. What can the average citizen do to honor a military veteran and/or those currently serving?

2. Besides a flag what is something you own that is red, white and blue?

3. Does love really conquer all?

4. Strawberry shortcake or blueberry pie?

5. Do you share personal stuff with your hairdresser?

6. Does money lead to selfishness?

7. What piece of furniture in your home most needs replacing or refinishing?

8. Insert your own random here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Ramblings

My mom has been staying with me for the past week and will be here for one more before she moves on to my sister's house for a few days. She had knee surgery a couple of weeks ago and needs some tlc before she's back in her own house. My mom is a very independent woman...she might be turning 82 this summer but she's leaving some of her fellow p.t. patients in the dust.

I think it rained every day last week which was fine because she isn't supposed to be out and about anyway. We kept the weekend low key too although hubs and I did make it out to our tinytown parade and water ski show on Monday. My mom stayed home with her Drill Sergeant physical therapist which I'm sure was a lot of fun too. Ha.

I love a small town parade...they don't seem to vary too awfully much from place to place. Small towns all across America line up fire trucks, scout troops, the high school band, and of course veterans, for a march down Main Street. Now for a small rant-do the groups marching in your parade toss candy to the kids in the crowd? They do in ours and I'm almost to the point where I wish they wouldn't.

As a truckload of veterans rolled by the gang of kids pushing and shoving in front of us didn't even notice...they were too busy scrambling for candy. They even bring bags to the parades now and leave with a pile of loot that for some rivals their Halloween haul. I'm sure I sound like an old fogey but it seems like we've lost a little perspective here.

Stepping off my soap box...

Our little town is built around a lake and has a water ski team that's pretty impressive. Memorial Day is their first show of the season so they've only had two days of practice in the (super cold) water.

By Labor Day their show is just about perfect.

Its fun to watch but it causes my hubs to sigh a lot. Water skiing is one of his favorite things in all the world and I've told him he should join the team.

They have adults skiing too-

Hubs doesn't have time and of course would never make the practices but he would surely love to be out there doing this-barefoot skiing.

Some say crazy...

...and some say crazy fun.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gifts from the Sea

My little family of four spent just a few days at the beach right after daughter 2's graduation. I haven't posted any pictures or written any words about those few days because to be honest it was a confusing and difficult time and I wasn't sure I wanted to write anything at all.

As I've thought about that week I recognize in the midst of life's greatest sorrow, we were given a gift. A reminder that in our darkest moments God cares for us.

We were together. All of us in the same place at the same time. I don't believe it was happenstance.

In my family we all love the sea.
Its the place we go to reconnect with ourselves and with each other.

Salt water rolls in with the tide and the tears.

When I am face to face with the sea I remember that God is big.
He knows the end from the beginning.

I stand atop a thousand million tiny seashells resting in the sand and am in awe of a Creator who knows precisely how many lie under my feet.

The birds of the air...

...the fish of the sea...

His eye is on the sparrow and I know it watches me.
On May 8th, 2012 this was our sky-

We sat together and watched as it was painted a thousand shades of pinky golden orange.

Life changed that day in ways we haven't even begun to realize, but this one thing remains constant. God loves us with a love that is wider than the widest sea, deeper than the deepest ocean and more beautiful than the most vivid sunset.

For a moment peace was not elusive, it was there for the claiming.
The sunset felt like it was made just for us.

Perhaps it was.

"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand..." Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Totally Tubular Hodgepodge Vol 78

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone is invited to play along. Answer the questions on your own blog and then add your link at the bottom of my post. Here are my answers-

1. What's something you miss about the 80's? If you're too young to miss the 80's how about the 90's?

I am definitely not to young to remember the 80's. Ha.

What do I miss? The ability to eat anything I wanted anytime I wanted, college friends, summers as a camp counselor, my hometown church and the people there, scratch n' sniff stickers (hey, I used a lot of them when I worked in public schools), the early John Hughes films that captured the sweet-funny angst of teenage life, videos on MTV, the blissful naivete of life as a newlywed, my first taste of motherhood and an infant in the house, better manners, less political correctness, M*A*S*H, Ronald Reagan, the absence of cell phones in restaurants and everywhere you go, and most especially my dad.

2. Do you have a library card? If so, how often do you visit?

I do have a library card...I've always had a library card I think. I still love libraries but don't visit as often as I did pre-kindle. I read quite a few books electronically now, but I still need to hold a real book in my hand on a regular basis. I'm probably in the library once or twice a month.

3. What's the secret to success?

Philippians 4:11-13 "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances....I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."

4. This is National Backyard Games week...what's your favorite backyard game?


We played quite a bit when we lived in England because our backyard was kinda perfect for the game.

It was kinda perfect for lots of things. We have a nice flat side yard here, but those girls went and grew up and got their own apartments.

The Hodgepodge has been quite the stroll down memory lane for me today.

5. If I dropped by today what would I find on your coffee table?

A short stack of four coffee table books from guess where, a couple of magazines, and of course-fingerprints. Who thought glass was a good idea?

6. Do you own a bicycle? When was the last time you rode a bicycle? Is that something you enjoy?

We have bikes here somewhere. Actually I know where they are but I haven't ridden mine since we moved back to NJ. Just getting out of my neighborhood would be a's hard enough to do it on foot. Gently rolling hills are okay but it's steep here and there aren't shoulders. I love to ride but I'm not hardcore.

7. What's your favorite cheese?

I've yet to meet a cheese I don't love but if I have to pick a favorite I'm going with a nice soft Brie. Preferably bought and eaten here-

... en France. Avec des amis. This little fondue restaurant in Strasbourg supposedly has the biggest cheese board in the world.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday morning at my house-

Always an adventure getting the rubbish bin to the curb here in the wilds of NJ.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let's talk Chicken

Joining the Pinterest party link up today over at Our Front Door. It's where we actually try what we've pinned. If you're here for the questions to this week's Hodgepodge read on...they're just behind this post.

Sunday evening we gave the Grilled Island Chicken a try. I'm always on the lookout for a new way to prepare chicken and I love island flavors. More on the 'island flavors' in a minute, first I need to discuss chicken.

Remember when chicken was a relatively inexpensive dinner option? And why are the boneless pieces of white meat so unappetizingly huge? What in the world are these chickens eating? I rarely buy them anymore because you have to cook them so long to insure doneness and then they're tough. I almost always go with tenders if I'm cooking chicken in the oven or the bone in pieces for the grill.

For this recipe I did use the boneless and hoped the marinade would make them tender. The recipe said there was enough marinade for 2-4 pieces and my two pieces were actually the size of four. Whyyyy?

I love a recipe with just a few ingredients and this one used items I always have on hand. I marinated the chicken in a zip lock bag which means no pan to wash so bonus points for that. I threw these few simple ingredients together in a bowl and whisked away.

There is something very satisfying about whisking don't you think? Pour over the chicken and leave in the frig all day.

Hubs grilled ours but there are oven directions too. btw-that's a half a piece of chicken on the plate pictured below-

The end result? It was just okay. I I think you can get similar flavors using a bottle of store bought Italian dressing as a marinade. The taste was fine and the chicken was moist but neither hubs nor I got the island connection. We both agreed it needed some sort of chutney or fruity salsa on top.

It was simple to make and like I said, I generally have the ingredients on hand so I might make it again but would definitely zhuzh it up by adding a mango or pineapple salsa on top.

So, who has a great grilled chicken recipe?

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 78

I think it's Tuesday which means it's time for me to post this week's Hodgepodge questions. Answer on your own blog or facebook page and then hop back over here tomorrow to join the linky. See you then~

1. What's something you miss about the 1980's? If you're too young to miss the 80's how about the 90's?

2. Do you have a library card? If so, how often do you visit?

3. What's the secret to success?

4. This is National Backyard Games week...what's your favorite backyard game?

5. If I dropped by today what would I find on your coffee table?

6. Do you own a bicycle? When was the last time you rode a bicycle? Is that something you enjoy?

7. What's your favorite cheese?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, Monday...

I wonder how many Monday blog posts have used that title since blogging began?

When did blogging begin, anyway?
According to Wiki it was the mid-90's.

In the mid 90's I was busy recording my girl's childhoods in the form of really bad photos that had to be developed in a store and then put into plastic sleeves in photo albums. Or dropped into shoeboxes and scanned into a computer some 20 years later.

Anyhoo, it is Monday which is good enough for me. I have a bunch of thoughts that don't really add up to a blog post (as evidenced by this post so far) but I'm going to write one anyway.

Ha. That is sooo me.

The weekend. Low key. We needed that. In looking back over the past couple of days I will tell you the highlight was a glorious nap on Sunday afternoon. It was like baby sleep. My hair was matted to my forehead when I woke up.

We ran some errands on Saturday and spent a few hours and a few hundred dollars at our local nursery. I know some of you have had your flowerbeds and pots planted for weeks now, but here in the Northeast its best to wait until Mother's Day has passed. Experience is a great teacher.

We were given two lovely plants from friends and co-workers last week which are perfect for our patio. I like to put pots on the steps but the steps get almost no sun so the choices there are limited. The rest of the back garden gets lots of sun so I have more variety there.

Still a work in progress. I don't line the pots up in a row like they are here although hubs would probably like it if I did. He is all about symmetry and I'm all about hodgepodge. We are quite the team.

Speaking of the mid 90's...that silver box was all the rage once upon a decade. We have ipods and ipads loaded with music but for some reason we like to whip out the old 'boom box' and listen to the radio when we sit on the patio. You just plug it in and hit play. Remember when 'technology' was simple?

This one actually belonged to daughter1 and I spent many an hour, pencil in hand, untangling plastic cassette ribbon back in the day. If you don't know what I'm talking about you're blissfully young.

The weather was spectacular all weekend long. Saturday evening we sat amid the plants and flowers with a glass of wine and some sea salt and pepper cashews. Those cashews just might be my new addiction. The brand is Emerald and no, they're not paying me to advertise. This variety is super salty (don't tell my doctor) which no doubt is why I love them.

Ever since hubs started traveling to Asia he has been hounding me to put an azalea in a pot on the patio. You see that a lot in China and over there they manage to keep them beautifully manicured and, most importantly, alive.

When I see a manicured shrub in a pot I think Karate Kid. I can sort of picture hubs out there tweaking this one and I do love the way it looks. We'll have to see how this goes because he travels and I'm not good with fussy. An azalea in a pot in Northern NJ might be a little bit fussy.

Sunday afternoon (pre-nap in case it matters) hubs and I took the MG for a spin around the lake. We stopped for an ice cream cone (coconut for me and cherry vanilla for him) and sat on the boardwalk while we ate.

This sweet little mama duck with her babes in tow had everybody snapping pictures.

The lake on a sunny spring day is so pretty.

Someone thinks the backyard view is okay too.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Box With No Lid

I excel at compartmentalizing life. I'm not sure if that's good or bad but nevertheless its true. There are some things in this life however, that refuse to be compartmentalized. They spill over into all the minutes of your day. Waking or sleeping they burrow into your head and heart, the sharpness sometimes catching you unaware. They seep out tear by tear or gush in an unexpected avalanche of memory and somehow still, life carries on. The real and the surreal become next door neighbors.

Peace is not a cliche.
His grace is sufficient.

We have had a couple of weeks of high highs and the lowest of lows. Life is rarely about just one thing and for that I'm grateful. Milestones are marked and we must both mourn and celebrate. Never have the words recorded in Ecclesiastes 3 rung so true..."There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens..."

Daughter2 celebrated a big milestone the first weekend in May, and she is now officially a college graduate.

No more tuition! Whoohoo!

Wait. Grad school. Darn.
We are praying she finds a teaching job to go with her brand new diploma.
She is so ready to teach.
Plus it would help pay for that extra schooling.
Just sayin'.

My precious hilarious beautiful girl will make an excellent teacher. She has the passion and the heart and the smarts.

Family joined us for the weekend's events. I'm sure that big smile is for us and has nothing to do with the boyfriend arriving from out of town. ahem.

Daughter1 turned up in South Carolina a lot lighter (if such a thing is even possible). She had 12 inches cut from her hair the day before. I love knowing a cancer patient somewhere will have a beautiful blond wig to help make the darkness a little bit brighter.


A word that is so dear to our hearts.

We've spent a lot of hours in this small town and especially on this gorgeous campus.

The fountains and the flowers and the lake...

The rose garden...

Yes, there is a rose garden.
Tuition dollars must be spent somewhere.

I kid!
It's possible to obtain a first class education while surrounded by roses.
Preferable in fact.

Pomp and Circumstance gets me every time.
2012...not so long ago that year seemed like a world away.
Hello world.

I love this picture. You have to click on to see but she is in the middle seats, turned round in her chair and waving up at us in the stands.

Hubs and I both flashed back to a kindergarten program where, upon spotting us in the audience with our video camera, she called out (loudly) asking, 'Can you see me?'

We see you Daughter2.
You are impossible to miss.

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens..."

In weeping and laughing, in mourning and dancing, this much I know-
God is good.