Monday, March 31, 2014

The Heart of Dixie

My sweet pup turns 12 years old today. She received an electronic birthday card from her veterinarian, and while she's a smart girl she is not computer savvy, so I read it to her. She loved it.

This girl is so much a part of our family I cannot remember her not being here. She likes to be in the middle of things, and we call her 'the party girl'.  She took over the best chair in the house at an early age. It was supposed to be my chair, but I had to wave the white flag there.  I used  to try to sit in that chair. I'd chase her out of it and get all settled and comfy. Then she'd come stand in front of me and bark, and then run to the door like she wanted to go outside. So I'd get up from the comfy chair to open the door and she'd quickly hop in the chair behind my back.

Told you she was smart.

Dixie was only a year old when we moved to England. Due to their strict quarantine laws, there was a six month waiting period before she could enter the country. Some people opt to put their dogs in quarantine in the UK, but our kennel in Maryland agreed to a long term board.  Actually they agreed to a short term board, and my sister said she'd take her the last three months, but the kennel got so attached to her they said she could stay.

I remember the day she finally arrived in England. We'd used a service that moves animals, so they collected her at Gatwick and brought her right to the front door.  The deliveryman had me come outside and he set the air crate down on the driveway. She's long legged so I envisioned her slowly, tentatively, ever so gently stepping out, stretching her legs, and taking a second to get her bearings. Ha!

The deliveryman said, 'I'm going to open the crate now' and when he did Dixie came tearing out at full speed, ran straight into the house (a house she'd never before set foot in until that very minute), wound her way back to the sitting room, and hopped in her chair without missing a beat.

Never were a dog and a place more perfectly matched than my Dixie and my England. She loved exploring the Commons, the woodlands, and most especially being off lead in her fvaorite place-the Camp. The Camp was an old Roman camp in our little village. It was not physically fenced, but more or less naturally fenced, and Dixie could run to her hearts content. We used to say she ran five miles for every one we walked, and it was the perfect place to grow up Setters.

She was welcomed everywhere around town, and we often traveled with her.  One of her favorite holidays was the Easter we spent hiking in Dartmoor.  Wide open spaces anyone?

And while she's not a Jersey girl, she has grown pretty fond of the Garden State.

Or at least it's wildlife!

I'm not one of those people who think dogs are human.

 But this one almost is.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Easy Breezy Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! When you add your link at the end of my post, please make sure you're linking to your Hodgepodge post, and not your blog in general (or a non-Hodgepodge related post!)...makes for much easier reading for any visitors who wander your way. 

Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. March is known as the windy month. Which of the following phrases best fits your March so far...'throw caution to the wind', 'three sheets to the wind', 'run like the wind' or 'see which way the wind blows'?

Hmmm...a tough one right off the bat. Figuratively speaking maybe 'run like the wind'? We had a very full weekend, that kept us 'running'. 

Running in a good way, so not like actual running.  

2. Your favorite green food? Your favorite recipe made with your favorite green food?

I'm going with an avocado, and my favorite recipe made with that would be guacamole. You know those quizzes that ask what food you'd want if you were stranded on a desert island? This might be mine. 

3. Ever been locked out of your home-car-office-anywhere? Do tell!

Yes, more than once actually, but I'll share the semi-creepy one. Settle in because it's not short. 

I was in high school and was babysitting one afternoon for the little girl who lived across the street. I sat for her regularly after school until her dad got home from work. One day (the little girl was about 2 1/2) someone knocked on the door, and I looked out and saw what appeared to be a plain white (aka unmarked) delivery van, with the driver standing on the front porch. It was broad daylight, but still I was paranoid cautious. I phoned my house, got my sister on the phone, and told her to watch, that I was going to open the front door, but would keep the glass door locked until I could find out what this guy wanted.  

Babysitters and/or children of mine-don't ever do this! 

People still opened their doors in the mid-1970's, and he seemed harmless, said he had some boxes to deliver and that the people said if they weren't home he should leave them in the backyard. They were boxes you might need if you were moving, which this family wasn't. Seemed odd but not dangerous, until he said, 'And you need to sign something.'  Well I wasn't going to let him in the house, so I stepped out on the front porch while he was unloading the truck, and that's when the little girl who'd been standing beside me, slammed the big front door with me on the outside and her on the inside.   

I went into full blown panic. Every door and window in the house was locked (I really was a good babysitter!), and it was 1975 so the word cell phone was not in our vocabulary. My sister, dutifully watching from across the street and recognizing hysteria, came running over and so did my brother.  The little girl came around to the glassed in back porch so I could talk to her through the glass, and the neighbor called the fire department so they came. The dad arrived soon thereafter (I guess the neighbor called him too), but in essence mucho panic had ensued.  When the dust settled the delivery man (remember him??) was no where to be seen, and the dad said they hadn't ordered any boxes for delivery.  Now I don't know if this guy was simply at the wrong address, or if he had something sinister planned, and those plans were thwarted by all the crazy, but I do think it's possible crazy saved the day.  

4. Yoda, Kermit, Shrek, The Wicked Witch of the West, Oscar the Grouch, The Grinch, or Mike Wasowski (Monsters, Inc.)...of the green characters listed, which one's your favorite, and why?

The Grinch, because he's changed by the love, faith, and kindness of strangers.

5. "The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive."~Joe Batten  Do you agree? Why or why not?

Yes. Think about what happens when hope dies. People stop caring about whatever it is you need them to care about, whether its a project, a job, or the state of their homeland.

6. Share a favorite song with an emotion in its title.

Pride (In the Name of Love) by of my all time favorite songs.

7. What's a road trip you'd like to take?

A drive along the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible is definitely on my to-do list.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Pretty sure I used all the words I was allowed today, in answering question #3.  
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 168

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Newcomers are always invited to join the fun. Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party.  Here we go-

1. March is known as the windy month. Which of the following phrases best fits your March so far...'throw caution to the wind', 'three sheets to the wind', 'run like the wind', or 'see which way the wind blows'?

2. Your favorite green food? Your favorite dish made with your favorite green food?

3. Ever been locked out of your home-car-office-anywhere? Do tell!

4. Yoda, Kermit, Shrek, The Wicked Witch of the West, Oscar the Grouch, The Grinch, or Mike Wasowski (Monsters Inc.)...of the green characters listed, which one's your favorite and why?

5. "The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive."~Joe Batten Do you agree? Why or why not?

6. Share a favorite song with an emotion in it's title.

7. What's a road trip you'd like to take?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Third Time's the Charm

This post was initially entitled Friday Fragments, but Friday was a whirlwind, so that didn't happen. I tried to get it together on Saturday morning, but Saturday was also a whirlwind, so that also didn't happen. Now here it is Monday afternoon, and it's not too late, is it?

My gourmet group met on Friday, and our theme this month was 'It Ain't Easy Being Green'. Each recipe featured a green ingredient, and I have to say our plates with all that color looked so pretty, and mostly healthy.

I made an interesting dessert which was a strawberry basil yogurt cake. It was slightly underdone in the very center, but the taste was nice. The basil was subtle, but definitely present. I'd make this again but would bake it a little longer. The recipe said 30-35 minutes and my oven normally cooks fast. I baked mine for 40 minutes and the edges were golden and pulled away from the springform pan, but it still needed another five I think for the center to be less gooey.  The batter was a lovely spring green, and then you laid the strawberries on top before baking.

Wow, my photography skills have deteriorated this winter.

It really is a pretty shade of green. Pretend the weird lighting and shadows aren't there.  And of course I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but in my defense I was preoccupied with my home improvement project wrapping up mere minutes before people were due to arrive.

You'll be happy to know my wall has been repaired and looks brand new.  Because it is. Our repairman did a great job matching paint, so no need to re-do the entire foyer-upstairs hall-family room this spring. He finished at 11 am Friday morning and my lunch guests arrived at 11:30,  just as I was putting away the vacuum. Good times.

On Saturday we attended a Bat Mitzvah, and it was a really fun day. I hadn't been to a Bat Mitzvah since I was in high school, and it was so interesting. Our friend's daughter is adorable and she did a wonderful job leading the service, reading and reciting all the prayers in Hebrew, and sharing her own thoughts on reaching this milestone.

Afterwards they had a lovely celebration at a local restaurant complete with a party room for 80 kids, a DJ, and the biggest balloons you've ever seen (that were not attached to a basket carrying people I mean!).

I decided I need to have a party that requires ginormous balloons. I don't think these slightly blurry pictures do them justice so you'll have to take my word for it. Tres festive!

After that party ended we went back to our friend's house for more food and chatting. Our friend's cousin walked in with two of the most amazing trays of hand dipped pretzels, popcorn, potato chips, and bugles I have ever seen.

Who knew a bugle dipped in white chocolate could be so delicious?

The pretzels were either chocolate and carmel, Oreo, or peanut butter, and they really were a work of art. I cannot imagine how much time it took her to put all of this together, but rest assured her efforts did not go unappreciated. I only had a bite of the pretzel, but I could have eaten all the popcorn.

Didn't but I could have.

Long time friends from Maryland traveled up for the event, and they came back to our house to spend the night. Always fun catching up in person as we have daughters the same age.

I bought tulips to put in their room because some years we need to make our own spring.

This appears to be one of those years.

Three inches of snow in our Tuesday forecast. On the bright side, most of the snow on the grass has melted, so that's something. We still have small mountains here and there from the plow, but baby steps right?

Before our friends headed home on Sunday we all went to see a former work colleague of the guys. We had such a nice time sitting in their lovely den with a spectacular view of tinytown lake.  It's still frozen and looked like a postcard. You'll once again have to use your imagination because I neglected to take a photo. I need spring to get here and clear out the cobwebs.

There's probably more, but I'm hosting my book club this evening, and am thinking I should be baking-cooking-cleaning as opposed to blogging the minutiae of my weekend.

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've Got The Fe-vah

Hello Spring!

Hey the calendar says so, now we just need our weather to get with the program.

We will not be getting the little red car out of that garage bay anytime soon.

My Japanese red maple.

A casualty of winter.

The wall in my hall foyer.

Another casualty.

For those of you who live where such things never occur, this is the aftermath of ice damming. The gutter over our front porch couldn't hold all the frozen water, and it's gotta go somewhere. Fortunately this is very very minor, and supposedly the repairman is coming this week.

Or next week.

Sometime.  He's coming sometime, and once he repairs the drywall he says he can match the paint, which is a good thing. Painting the foyer (and then the family room, and the up and downstairs halls which all flow together) was not on our spring to-do list.

In other seasonal news, I've started in on my spring cleaning and here are my observations so far-

1. If it felt like spring, this would be a lot more enjoyable. I want to throw open the windows, let the warm soft breeze in, and the stale winter air out. We may hit 50 degrees today, but there's a snowflake icon on the weather page for Tuesday. We'll pretend we don't notice and carry on.

2. My dog. Have mercy. She has hair people.

3. One job leads to another, aka I'm easily distracted. I'm working room by room which is how I like to approach my spring cleaning, but I'm hosting something at my house tomorrow, then overnight guests on Saturday.  I shouldn't let myself get bogged down in things like sorting through the remnants of teenage life tucked inside a shoebox on the floor of my daughter's bedroom closet.

I shouldn't, but I do.

Okay, a million things to tackle today, including an afternoon walk when warm air will be at it's peak. When it comes to spring-like temperatures my motto is carpe diem!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Springing the Hodgepodge on You

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge...I hope you'll join the fun today! Answer the questions on your own blog, then come back here and add your link to the party. Oh, and go say hi to the neighbors because everybody loves company! 

Here are my answers-

1. Thursday marks the first day of celebrate would you rather plant a garden or go for a walk in the woods? Would either of those activities be possible on Thursday where you live?

Probably a walk in the woods. We love to hike, and have lots of woods to choose from, including our own backyard. I haven't planted a true garden since we've been in this house. Too many boulders underground and too many critters above ground. Our backyard is pretty, very natural with the woods behind us, and we do add lots of flowering pots to our patio, steps, and front porch. We won't be doing that for at least another month, once the danger of frost has passed. 

Garden Centers here advise waiting until May, plus we still have snow on the ground so I definitely couldn't plant a garden on Thursday.  I could walk in the woods as long as I've got my snow boots or wellies on...I think the temperature will cooperate. 

2. When did somebody last spring something on you? (or when did you last spring something on someone?)

When I realize someone is going to 'spring something on me' I feel like I need to brace myself for something I might not be too excited about. Something like, "Hey I've got a crazy idea!" or 'Hello this is your accountant-car repairman-plumber calling back with some numbers." Yeah. Brace yourself.  

I don't remember the last time someone sprung something on me, and I try to return the favor if I can. I'm more of a 'let me sugar coat this as much as I possibly can' kind of news bearer. 

3. We often think of spring as a time for new beginnings...what's something you'd like to start doing this spring?

I'm not sure if this is new, but there are a number of local historical sites, attractions, and restaurants in the NYC area that are on my list of 101 in 1001 ( see link on my sidebar), and I'd like to get busy checking them out. So many of these outings require better than 13 degree temps, blustery winds, and snow up to your kneecaps in order to be enjoyable, so come on spring! 

4. Where do you like to sit in a movie theatre? When did you last sit there, and what were you watching?

We like to sit in the front middle. Not the front front or the way back or the middle middle, but the front middle. The last movie we saw in the theatre was The Monuments Men, and we both liked it.  

5. When you meet someone for the very first time, what do you want them to think about you?

That I'm friendly and genuine.
I enjoy meeting new people so if I say I'm happy to meet you I mean it.  

6. March is frozen food month (yes, really!). Besides ice cream (gotta make you think a little) what's your most often purchased frozen food item?

I don't buy a lot of frozen food, so besides frozen yogurt for the hubs, my most purchased frozen food item is a vegetable, namely okra or lima beans which I like to put in soup. You can't find fresh okra in our neck of the woods. 

This seems like an odd answer.

I don't buy frozen meals of any kind, so my freezer is mostly meat and a couple bags of frozen veg.  And yogurt, but that wasn't allowed. 

7. What's something you avoid?

Negative people. They're draining, plus I think negativity breeds negativity in the same way gossip breeds more gossip. 

Gossip-something else I try to avoid. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I just love Honest Toddler, and know he/she can always be counted on for a laugh. I follow HT on Twitter, but there's also a blog and Facebook page. 

I spent many years working with toddlers and have so much affection for this particular age group. The author of this blog (and soon to be book) has a real gift for expressing life from the viewpoint of a toddler. This post made me laugh--How to Put a Toddler to Bed in 100 Easy Steps

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 167

Here are the questions to this week's Hodgepodge...answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to link up with all the other peeps who join the party. See you there!

1.  Thursday marks the first day of celebrate would you rather plant a garden or go for a walk in the woods? Would either of those activities be possible on Thursday where you live?

2. When did someone last spring something on you? (or when did you last spring something on someone?)

3.  We often think of spring as a time for new beginnings. What's something you'd like to start doing this spring?

4. Where do you like to sit in a movie theatre? When did you last sit there, and what were you watching?

5. When you meet someone for the very first time, what do you want them to think about you?

6. March is frozen food month (yes, really!). Besides ice cream (gotta make you think a little) what's your most often purchased frozen food item?

7. What's something you avoid?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top 'O the Mornin' to Ya

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Do you think I'll be the only blogger using that title today? Are you Irish? Do you wear green anyway? Is corned beef and cabbage on your menu or maybe a sip of green beer? I'm pretty sure that's the American-ized version of the holiday, but we play along.

I have some Irish blood running through my veins, and hubs has a heaping helping in his. Mostly we enjoy Irish food and people, so we like to mark the occasion. Saturday we met a few friends for lunch at a nearby Irish pub, which was lots of fun.

This is my favorite Irishman-

...and I think some of us were more into the spirit of things than others-ha!

I was happy to have someone else cook the corned beef and cabbage, which is a once a year meal for me. Delish!

The thermometer read a balmy 54 degrees on Saturday, so a nice change from where we've been
and are today. The pub sits on a lake and we kind of held our collective breath watching a group of
knuckleheads people pulling a sled out there. We noticed a swan swimming along the shoreline, and if a swan is swimming it means there's water where there once was ice, right?  Should you walk out in the middle of a lake that isn't frozen at the edge? I tend to think not, and thankfully nobody went for an accidental swim.

After we left the Irish pub we stopped at another favorite local spot, where hubs and I shared a piece of Guinness cake. It was a rich deep chocolate, and really light and moist. Do you know what it wasn't? Low calorie! The Irish don't count calories do they?

Course my real favorite green is a little something called spring. Not happening here at the moment, but she's still got four days to get here.  I suspect though, that this year she's going to be fashionably late.

Happy Monday, and today "May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door." (Irish blessing)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Scraps and Pieces

It's Friday, so let's fragment.
Linking up with Half Past Kissin' Time, and yes, today fragment is a verb.

We had one gorgeous day this week, a cruel tease which is typical for early March, and then back to frigid temps. No snow though, so that's a bonus.

Still plenty of snow on the ground, but no new snow. This little thing surprised me this morning. I looked out my dining room window and she looked right back. Normally they don't hang out up against the house, but baby it's cold outside. Everybody's ready for spring.

This time of year I start to feel like I'm in a cooking rut, which is why I've been on the hunt for some new recipes. Pinterest can always be counted on for fresh ideas, and I tried this one Wednesday evening-spaghetti squash lasagna. 

I've only cooked this vegetable once, and while we enjoyed the taste it was a little too watery. I made a mental note to let it drain longer the next time, and much much better. Last time I made spaghetti squash I just topped it with my marinara as if it were actual spaghetti.

BTW-it's good, but your taste buds know it ain't pasta. ahem.

Still, I love squash, and thought maybe the addition of some fresh mozzarella, along with baking the finished product, would amp up the flavor. And it did, this was good. Not as delicious as my mama's actual lasagna made with actual pasta, but a tasty dish in its own right. 

Plus, isn't spaghetti squash one of the seven wonders of the food world? It's crazy the way it looks like one thing on the outside, then something else on the inside, and once cooked looks like a whole 'nother thing altogether.

The first cell phone went on sale thirty years ago yesterday. It cost $3, 995. There's no record of who the first buyer was, because back then cell phone meant car phone, and was thought of as something gimmicky or maybe something only the wealthy would own.

I remember hubs first 'mobile' phone. It was kept in a small suitcase, almost like a briefcase, and he was happy to get it. Having a phone in the car was a time saver, even if it was the size of a football and weighed 2 pounds. The suitcase phone was a step up from the system he'd been using to make business calls while on the road, which was find a pay phone, then enter a code that was about 18 digits long. Are there still pay phones around? I'm thinking no.

So, fun thing...a while back I submitted a photo to be used in a Cherie Norquay music video, and today I saw the video. The request was for pictures showing love between a parent and child, or a child and child, and I submitted what is perhaps my all time favorite photo of Daughter1 and myself. We're at 3:53/54 in the video, almost the end. The song is Cherie's version of Jesus Loves Me, and it's upbeat and so pretty. 50% of the proceeds (through March 31st) will go to the Maubane Community Center in South Africa. The video is super sweet!

Enjoy your weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rooted in the Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Hodgepodge!  So glad you joined the fun this week, and if you haven't, well what are you waiting for?  Answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of my post.  Easy peasy. Oh, and be sure to say hi to your neighbors, because we're neighborly here.

1. Do you have an interest in learning about your family's heritage? Why or why not? If you know a little bit about your roots, share an interesting piece of trivia or a fun fact about someone who goes way back on your family tree.

I'm interested in knowing my family's heritage. Much of my dad's side has been researched, but less has been tracked down on my mom's side of the family.  My dad had gotten into this before he died, and the Christmas after he died my sister put his findings into a binder for each of the 'kids'.  I still enjoy looking through it from time to time.  

One of my favorite bits in the notebook is in reference to my great great grandfather, about whom it was written, " He was known as the most reasonable of men. He never lost his temper, but could stand for the right against any odds, and was known the same way in Illinois as in Kansas." What a remarkable way to be remembered. He died in 1885 but I feel great admiration for him in 2014.  

2. Branch Rickey, the baseball exec credited with signing Jackie Robinson, is credited as saying-

"Luck is the residue of design."
Agree or disagree? Why?

I think so often people we label as lucky have actually worked quite hard to get where they are, or to obtain what they have, so I would agree somewhat with Mr. Rickey. I don't think I'd go so far as to say we never fall into something wonderful, but more often than not, achievement and success are the result of effort and hard work, not luck. 

3. In the town where you currently reside, what's your favorite green space?

My backyard? We look out on several acres of woods, which are ever changing and never dull. I wish I could describe the level of activity that goes on in these woods. It's some sort of social gathering spot for animals of all kind including chipmunks, groundhogs, fox, coyote, deer, and black bear. 

The landscape is beautiful no matter the season, and I'm pretty happy sitting beside the firepit on a cool fall evening, watching the leaves change from my kitchen window, or waking to bare branches suddenly dressed in white. Its almost like art.  

4. Who is your favorite comedian?

I don't know if I have a favorite, but a couple favorites would be Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan.  

5. March is National Nutrition Month, and almost everyone needs to improve their diet in some way. What about you? How can you improve your nutrition on a daily basis? Will you try?

These days I'm making an effort to eat less sugar, drink half my body weight in water every day (in oz!), and to be more conscious of exactly what it is I'm consuming. I am definitely trying! 

6. Which of these green expressions have you 'experienced' in recent weeks-green with envy, green thumb, green around the gills, or give the green light? Explain.

Nothing leaps to mind.  

Wait...a  friend in London recently posted a picture from a restaurant I love, and it's possible I turned   green with envy wishing I was there too. 

7. What is one place you don't mind waiting?

If I know my car repair won't take all day I don't mind sitting in the dealer's lounge. They've got coffee and comfy seating, I bring a book or my notebook, and best of all they always wash my vehicle before handing back the keys.  

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today would have been my dad's 88th birthday. 
He surely loved his grandgirls and could always make them laugh. 

They were toddlers when he died, so while they don't remember him very well, I like to think they know him through the stories we tell. So much family history is passed down via storytelling, and no matter how fast the world spins, I hope we never stop doing that. My dad loved computers before computers were a household word, and I like to think he'd appreciate this side of the pond as a place where I remember and record my stories.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 166

Welcome to another week of Hodgepodging. Answer the questions on your own blog, then scoot back here tomorrow (Wednesday) to link up with all the other lucky people joining the fun. See you there!

1. Do you have an interest in learning about your family's heritage? Why or why not? If you know a little bit about your roots, share an interesting piece of trivia or a fun fact about someone who goes way back on your family tree.

2. Branch Rickey, the baseball exec credited with signing Jackie Robinson, is quoted as saying-

"Luck is the residue of design."
Agree or disagree? Why?

3. In the town where you currently reside, what's your favorite green space?

4. Who is your favorite comedian?

5. March is National Nutrition Month, and almost everyone needs to improve their diet in some way.  What about you? How can you improve your nutrition on a daily basis? Will you try?

6. Which of these green expressions have you 'experienced' in recent weeks -green with envy, green thumb, green around the gills, or give the green light? Explain.

7. Where is one place you don't mind waiting?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Kind of Wonderful

All last week the forecasters kept saying the weekend would be lovely. I believe they even used the word 'warm', and I guess when viewed through the lens of the snowiest winter on record, they were sort of right. While temps did hit 50 degrees in the city on Saturday, I still needed a coat, scarf, and gloves, which is not my definition of warm. Warmer, yes but spring has not quite sprung here folks.

Saturday hubs and I had tickets to see the musical Beautiful. When I mentioned that here on Friday a few people thought I was going to see Carole King herself, but no. Beautiful is the Broadway show about her life and music, and it really was 'some kind of wonderful'. 

She wrote that song for those of you reading here scratching your heads. 

Carole King was in fact, a prolific song writer, and she wrote a lot of songs for other performers too, that you may not have realized were hers. She stopped touring and writing a few years ago, but wrote her first number one song, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, when she was only 17 years old. So much talent!  

The actress playing Carole King in the show right now (Jessie Mueller) is completely convincing in the role, and is an amazing talent in her own right. The whole cast was phenomenal, and we absolutely loved the show from start to finish. 

Hubs and I saw a matinee which let out around 4:30, and then had an early-ish dinner reservation in Greenwich Village. Early for New York that is, 6 PM. The restaurant was about 30 blocks from the theatre, and while we had every intention of grabbing a cab (30 blocks is about a mile and a half), we started walking and just kept going. It was a nice evening for a walk.  

We dined at Gradisca, which came highly recommended by one of hub's co-workers. I'm sure we didn't need to walk that far to find great Italian food, because I'm not even kidding when I say there are over 10,000 Italian restaurants in the city (Trip Advisor lists over 11,000 on their site). We're all about a great recommendation though, so we walked. This particular work associate is married to an honest to goodness Italian, so we figure they know what they're talking about. 

And they do! Fantastico!  

Gradisca's is known for the owner's mama's pasta recipes, and when she's in town she can sometimes be seen set up at a table, making the pasta herself. I'd read some reviews online too, and everyone  raved about the tiramisu. We had to try it, didn't we? Delizioso!

Our backyard may still look like this...

...but Saturday turned out to be 'one fine day'

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's Not Too Late Baby Now for Friday Fragments

I don't know if I have enough for a post today, so it's possible my Friday Fragments will actually be fragments.

Does anybody even read blogs after 3 PM on a Friday?
We'll see.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I've gotten serious this week about recording what I'm eating and it's been enlightening. The biggest surprise is how often I mindlessly start to eat something that doesn't seem like much of anything...a small bite of this or that, mostly when I'm cooking, but when you put it all down on paper (or enter it into the iPad app) those meaningless bites of nothing special add up to honest to goodness calories. Calories I'd rather have used elsewhere.

I've been inspired to try some new recipes, because hubs (the man with the metabolism of a teenager) can only eat so much grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. I made this baked crispy hoisin chicken not long ago, and we both loved it. Very spicy, so if you don't like very spicy you'll want to reduce the amount of red pepper in yours. We like very spicy here.

It seems like one or both of my girls are traveling every.single.weekend. and I think I'm getting used to it.

Sort of.

And they've
resigned themselves accepted the mom drill, which is-text me when you're at the airport, text me when you board, text me when you land, and then do it all again on the day of your return flight.

I bet there are times when even Generation Y hates technology.

In other news, the weather forecasters say temps in NYC will reach 50 degrees on Saturday. I do hope this isn't one of those times when they're wrong.

Hubs and I have tickets to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, this weekend. I am a huge fan of her music and am really excited to see the show.  Almost as excited as I am about the 50 degree forecast. I mentioned to someone today that we were going to the show, and she hadn't heard of it. When I said it's the Carole King Story, she said, 'Who?'

People!! Come on!! Do 'youngsters' only 15 years younger than me really not know Carole King?

And on that note I'll leave you with one of my all time favorites, and wishes for a happy weekend wherever you are.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

There's Always Throwback Thursday

Not a lot is happening here at the moment, and I thought about not blogging, but then I remembered it was Thursday. Sad, but true...sometimes I have to check an actual calendar to be sure of the day. Chalk it up to empty nest syndrome. Or middle age. Whatever. Thursdays mean bloggers with not a lot to say can grab any old photo they like and write because they feel like it.

I thought back to past Marchs. Marches?  What is the plural of March? Anyway, the month of March in years past. How did we cope with the month that wants to last forever? The one with the still-too-cold temps, that refuses to mesh with our longing for warm air and sunshine?

In the year 2002, we coped. We more than coped. We left the snow shovels and our children back in Maryland and Hello St. Lucia! Is it lame to blog about a trip we took twelve years ago?  No. Not when you've been cooped up in the house for too many minutes on a Throwback Thursday, it's not.  

Hubs earned this getaway through work, and some fun co-worker/friends were also along for the ride. We stayed in what was then a Hyatt, but I remember it was sold right after we left (not because of anything we did!), and I believe its a Sandals now. I wouldn't know because it's 2014, and I'm here in NJ where it's 16 degrees, as opposed to lying on a sandy beach in St. Lucia, but I digress. Let's discuss this picture-

My hair! So short! I don't think I've had it that short since. Maybe you didn't notice my hair because you were distracted by my awesome shorts.  Why did we ever think this was a good look?  

Did we think it was a good look?

Apparently.  My waist was small but that whole belt around the middle thing just ugh ew no, not a good look.  Plus I'm pretty sure I could have put both legs in the same opening.  On the bright side, I am rockin' the sunglasses.

Which I lost.

I was on a streak back in 2002...three pair in a single year.

We had such a fun week, dining al fresco, lounging beside the sea, hubs water skied and I watched-ha!, and as per usual he made friends with random people.

This is Raphael who delivered the most excellent frozen fruity drinks right to our chairs every day. We snorkeled and donned ridiculous helmets to ride horses on the beach.

We relaxed and forgot about frozen gutters, doing checking algebra homework, and all that 'what in the world will I fix for dinner???' kind of stuff, because grandparents were happily doing all those things in our place. First world problems I know, but enjoyable to be away from nonetheless.

Big corporations aren't as much fun in 2014, so sadly no Caribbean getaway on my March calendar.  No big legged high waisted shorts either though, so it's not all bad. You know what else?  Back in 2002 I put all the photos from this trip into a cute scrapbook with dates and labels, embellishments and clever sayings.  I'm really off my game in this department.

How 'bout we chalk that up to middle age empty nest syndrome too?

And the plural of March is Marches.
I may have cabin fever, but its not to the point I've stopped caring about good grammar.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Good Old-Fashioned Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Thanks for playing along! Add your link at the end of my post, and then go see what others had to say. Here are my answers-

1. The expression, 'mad as a March hare' originated with a fictional character who is distracted and frantic. When were you last 'mad as a March hare', and what was it that made you that way?

Probably last week as I worked to complete our tax organizer for the accountants. They have a strict deadline, require umpteen forms uploaded to the computer, and my scanner was on the fritz. Plus when I'm in the middle of the process the numbers take up 110% of my brain. If someone phones needing something, or wanting to chat while I'm logged in to the organizer, I really am no good to them. 

Getting this extremely unpleasant job done every year always makes me a little bit frantic...hubs knows I'll be needing dinner out once it's done-ha! 

2. Mardi Gras this year falls on Tuesday, March 4th. Have you ever been to Mardi Gras, and if so what did you think?  If not, do you have any interest in going?  Purple, gold, and green are the colors of Mardi Gras. Which one is most prevalent in your wardrobe? How about in your home?

I've never been to Mardi Gras or New Orleans for that matter. Do I have any interest in going? It's not high on my list of must-sees, but I'm pretty much up for going anywhere if the opportunity presents itself, so I wouldn't say no. 

Of the colors listed gold is the one you'd see most, both in my wardrobe and in my home. My foyer, family room, sunroom, upstairs hall, and one guest bedroom are all painted a muted shade of gold. I'm in love with the color, Benjamin Moore ladyfinger, for anyone who wants to's very livable.  

3. Are you old fashioned?

In some ways I am, but in other ways I think I'm quite modern. Hey, I have a blog, and that's very 21st century, don't you think? I read a definition online that defined the term old-fashioned in both negative (methods, attitudes, or machines no longer useful in the modern world) and positive terms (referring to nice things from the past that still exist).  

I'm probably a little old fashioned when it comes to good manners. Common courtesy seems to be one of those things that lately falls under the 'no longer useful in the modern world' category. At the risk of sounding like grumpy Mr. Wilson, I think I'll just leave it at that.  

Some of you don't know who Mr. Wilson is, do you? 

He was the grouchy, get-off-my-lawn-neighbor in that old-fashioned television show, Dennis the Menace.  

4. Do you like to carefully plan your vacations, or do you prefer the days to be more spontaneous?

We're somewhere in the middle. We always do our homework before we travel so we don't miss something fabulous where we're going, but we also leave plenty of room for whatever the day and location may bring.

5. March is National Sauce Month...what's your favorite sauce, and what do you most often top with this sauce?

Currently my fave is a super spicy BBQ sauce from Kansas City called Cowtown's Night of the Living Bar B-Q. It's hot, so I usually temper it a little by mixing with something milder, but it's loaded with flavor and so delicious. A co-worker who lives in the KC area, and knows my hubs loves hot sauces, sent us a couple of bottles a while back, and we liked it so much we've continued to order it online.  

I also love a good homemade marinara or bolognese on a plate of pasta, but that's a very rare treat these days. 

6. What's something that easily brings a tear to your eye?

Lots of things, but one of the first to pop into my head would be the soldier dad and child reunion videos that make the news or circulate online. They get me every time.  

7. If you could own any sports team, which one would it be and why?

Chelsea Football Club. Why? 
Because it's London silly. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Here's a little happy for you today. If you haven't seen this video brace yourselves for the most adorable choir conductor ever...enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 165

Before I post this week's questions I thought I'd answer a couple myself. I'm often asked how I come up with questions, and while I'd love to say they're all at the ready, simply floating around inside my head, the truth is it takes some work.

I keep a file on my computer, phone, and iPad, so if something pops up in the course of my day I can add it there. I like to keep about 30-40 questions on file, and I normally take one or two from that file every week. I'll go back and add in to the file as I collect ideas. If I'm traveling or have a lot on my plate, I know the question file is there, and I try to save it more for those weeks I don't have a lot of time to spend creating from scratch.

I read a lot and that inspires questions, and I also try to pay attention to what's happening in the world.  Real life friends and family, along with blog friends, make suggestions too. And most weeks I look around online to see if there is a holiday or trend I can use as a springboard for questions. I try hard not to repeat questions, but it happens sometimes.

Also, I never read anyone's answers until I've hit publish on my own. I never want my own answers swayed by yours. I love the different directions people run with the questions, and don't want to be influenced by which way you went with yours if I was thinking in a completely different vein.

I'm always on the lookout for great questions, so feel free to send yours my way. I always try to link back to the sender when I ask.  Each week I aim for a mixture of deep and light. Sometimes I surprise myself with a question that feels light, but turns deep or vice versa. I avoid yes and no questions because where's the fun in that?

I do my best to visit everyone who participates. That doesn't happen 100% of the time, but close to it.  I hope everyone who joins will visit at least two or three of the bloggers who linked before them, and I think it's especially sweet when people come back later in the week and say hi to the late linkers. I know those bloggers appreciate that too.

Now on to the Hodgepodge...answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to share answers.  Newcomers are always welcome!

1. The expression 'mad as a March hare' originated with a fictional character who is distracted and frantic. When were you last 'mad as a March hare' and what was it that made you that way?

2. Mardi Gras this year falls on Tuesday, March 4th. Have you ever been to Mardi Gras, and if so what did you think? If not, do you have any interest in going?  Purple, green, and gold are the colors of Mardi Gras. Which one is most prevalent in your wardrobe? How about in your home?

3. Are you old fashioned?

4. Do you carefully plan your vacations, or do you prefer the days to be more spontaneous?

5.  March is National Sauce Month...what's your favorite sauce, and what do you most often top with this sauce?

6.  What's something that easily brings a tear to your eye?

7. If you could own any sports team, which one would it be and why?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Little Bit Of Linus and A Whole Lot of Nothing Much

Hello blog.  It's been a while, but not a whole lot to report or maybe too much, which is why I've been avoiding you. I've eked out the Hodgepodge these past couple of weeks, but that's about it, and I'm determined to say something here today.

Even if that something is essentially nothing.

Who thinks I've spent too much time curled up under my super soft blankie watching mindless television on our overly comfy couch? Do you remember the blanket I got at our neighborhood Christmas party? That blanket y'all! It just might be one of my all time favorite gifts ever.  I don't actually drag it around the house with me, but somedays I'm tempted.

So the weekend. You know the drill-ridiculously cold temperatures that make you wonder why you thought dinner out on a Friday night was a good idea. On the bright side we did not get the foot of snow originally predicted, and instead we got a whopping none. I'll take it. We still have a couple of feet on the ground, frozen so solid you can walk across the top of the 'grass' without falling through. I'm pretty sure I'll be posting photos here in June of the 'big rock candy snow mountain' at the top of our driveway.

Here's the boardwalk in tinytown-

Also, there's a lake out there, and benches in front of the water. 
You'll have to take my word for it...

...or you can wait til July and see for yourself.  

I always say March is the hardest month of the year for me. I won't utter a word of weary complaint about snow in January or February, in fact I love it. But then you flip the calendar and it's like the word SPRING literally pokes you in the eye. It's March, and I need winter to begin tapering off. When you can't see so much as a blade of grass it's hard to imagine that happening, but it will. The earth will not be restrained by a little thing like a snow mountain. Seasons changing are one of God's very best ideas, don't you think?  

We do have a couple of fun things on the calendar which helps, because I need something to look forward to in March. Also, last week I managed to book a couple of small getaways for later this spring, and just seeing the reservations written in my datebook makes my heart feel lighter.  

We watched some of the Oscars last night, hubs would say too much, and I'm inclined to agree.  I thought the show really dragged. I think Ellen DeGeneres is so funny, but even her bits felt like she was working too hard. I did think there were some beautiful gowns, and Charlize Theron is my pick for best dressed. She has the most amazing bone structure, and her hair, makeup, jewelry, and gown were flawless. I loved absolutely everything about her look.

I stayed up too late for a Sunday, but I was thinking we'd at least wake up to the couple of inches still in the forecast, and my 6 a.m. boot camp would likely be cancelled. Where are those snowflakes when you need them? I dragged myself out of bed and the whole ride to the gym I kept thinking how next weekend we spring the clocks forward, which means the 5:15 alarm will actually feel like 4:15. Daylight Savings Time is all a big mind game isn't it?

Last week I had a board meeting at my house and I like to always have a little token of thanks for the volunteers. Usually I make something relating to a holiday or season, and then try to be clever in wording the tags. This month I made these-

I did something similar last year for my daughters on St. Patrick's Day, only for theirs I used Mason Jars.  FYI-it takes a whole lotta Skittles to fill up a Mason Jar. This time round I got smart and used pretzel bags. They are just the right size and hold the rainbow shape. The gold 'at the end of the rainbow' is actually four Rolos, which I think are like gold in their own way. Also, for anyone trying this at home, it seems a bag of Skittles contains a disproportionate number of red and orange as opposed to yellow. I used two big bags of Skittles for eight treat bags, and had to monitor the yellow. There's less purple too, but does anyone actually like the purple?

So that's a little bit of nothing too important on this frigid, but thankfully (unless you count what's already on the ground) un-snowy Monday. I almost feel like digging in to my Spring Cleaning list, and maybe I will, but before I do there's this-

Sunrise from my front porch. If we didn't have winter, would I still have this? Maybe not.  And just when I feel bone weary of the cold gray winter skies God reminds me,"....for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." March on!