Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! It's been a whirl of a week, with lots of good things happening.  Thinking about the  blessings that came my way.
1.  Simple summer suppers are the best.  I didn't have a menu plan this week, so we just winged it with omelets one night (using garden veggies and leftovers in the fridge) and nachos another night (paired with Dan's awesome G&Ts and dining al fresco on the back deck).
2.  We found some patio chairs on sale.  They are out in front of the house, and we feel like two old people, rocking away and watching the world go by on a summer evening.
3.  My neighbor gave me a bunch of rhubarb from his garden. He insists his family hates the stuff, so I'm not sure why they let it continue to grow.  But, I'm happy to get it and I made rhubarb bread, and there's enough to make strawberry rhubarb jam.  Since they don't eat rhubarb, I make them a little batch of Christmas cookies in December, payment in kind:)
4.  I got my haircut this week.  I love my hairdresser.  She does a good job and we have so much in common. 
5.  In the past week, I've spent some one-on-one time with two of our 'new' family members. In a big family, most of our time is spent in a group, which is lots of fun.  But it's nice to have some quiet time and really get to know someone.  I had lunch with my daughter-in-law's mother (does anyone remember the t.v. show from the 60s I think, with Eve Arden and Kay Ballard, The Mothers-In-Law? What a hoot that show was.)  Then one afternoon, my son-in-law came by himself to pick up the baby. She was sleeping, so we visited for about a half hour. 
Dan and I are taking a little road trip this weekend, so lots to do today! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Tomato Pie

To me, a red, ripe tomato is synonymous with summer. This recipe is simple and tastes divine. It can be an entrĂ©e all in itself or a side dish.  The only drawback is that it does require use of the oven, so make it in the morning or on a day that isn't beastly hot.
One baked pie crust (I used the refrigerated rolled crust in the red box)
3 tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds) thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
    (or any melting cheese of your choosing)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
*  Preheat oven to 450 F. Prepare the pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.
*  Reduce oven to 350 F.  Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes to release the moisture.  Place half the tomatoes in the cooled pie crust and sprinkle half of the garlic and fresh basil on top, then half the cheeses.  Repeat and top with the mayonnaise.
*  Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and it smells so good your mouth is watering!  Cool on a wire rack for about an hour.
Adapted from Allrecipes magazine.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Around the garden

I finally took my camera in to get checked out last week and was happy to learn that the problems I was having were caused by a bad battery.  Yesterday, I went out and snapped some photos around the yard.

Our plants are just getting started, so they aren't very impressive this year.  Hopefully, next year they'll fill out and cover more ground.  My nephew, Tommy, came over one afternoon last spring and we painted the birdhouses.  The little frog was a housewarming gift from some dear friends. The pump and milk can were collected a few years back from neighbors who sold antiques.  Just an eclectic assortment of 'stuff.'

A peek into the fairie garden. . . .

I planted LOTS of daisies this spring. . .

The raised beds were last year's project.  We used concrete blocks that the former owners left in the yard.  It was easier than hauling them away and they make good beds.

Dan and I made the compost bin a few months ago.  It was a fun weekend project.

The split rail fence is along our front walk.  We put this in earlier this spring, and the rosebushes were planted in June.

The back yard is still a HUGE work in progress.  Dan has been working so hard. We did the garden along the fence in June.  Luke dug out all the sod and hauled in dirt.  He and I planted the shrubs.  Dan put in the pavers for the walk and the beams for the rest of the garden.

A mini fairie garden. I used Abby's food dish (an idea I stole from my friend Claudia:)

I've had this little angel since our first house.  Yesterday, I was peering through the lens at her and saw the little pair of socks on her lap! We had a group of kids over on the fourth of July, and they were running through the sprinkler.  Someone must have given his socks to the angel to 'hold onto'.  So cute!

Hope you enjoyed the garden tour!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A summer day and some news!

We've had a slow start to summer this year, but from what I've heard from other bloggers and friends around the country, we haven't been alone.  There has been more rain than usual and it seems like we just can't get a run of hot summer days. And it's already halfway through July!

However, yesterday was a really nice summer day. It was Monday, which is now my favorite day of the week, for this reason:

Oh my gosh.  I'm lucky if a get a load of laundry done while she's here.  I would much rather just snuggle with her and play with her than do anything else.  As it should be, right?

But, first, yesterday started out as most of my days in the summer do.  On the back deck with coffee, morning devotional books and journal.

And Lilly at my feet.

Around 7:30, Marcus and Emily dropped Brooklynn off before heading to work.  After some snuggles and a bottle for her, (and throwing in that load of laundry), we headed out for a walk around the neighborhood.

It's important to wear a sunhat to protect that little bald head:)

(It's just like Pop-pop's 'Tilly' hat.  He knows all about protecting the tops of heads.)
We took a walk through the neighborhood, so that we could peek in backyards and get ideas for my garden.

Love this gate with the trellis over top.

Later in the morning, Aunt Kathy came by for a visit.  While she fed Brooklynn, I  threw together some baked ziti in the crockpot.  I found a great recipe at The Dinner Mom.  The link is here. (I followed the recipe, adding ground beef and yellow squash).  It was so easy and SO delicious, everyone loved it.  A tossed salad and focaccia bread (from the bread machine) completed the meal.

At naptime, I snuck in some reading time and finished The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  I received it in our Christmas book exchange for Book Club, and highly recommend it.  It has all of my favorite elements: history, personal growth and relationships, a hint of mystery.

By 5:00, Pop-pop was home, and it was time for our evening glass of wine:)

Then, Emily and Marcus arrived, and Luke, Miranda and Siefer, too, for our traditional Monday night supper.  And here's the news!  These three will have a new addition to the family come January, and it's a BOY!  So exciting!

Here's to more sunny days!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Favorites

Looking back over the week with Susanne and the rest of the crew for Friday's Fave Five.  Here are some moments, big and small, that blessed my week.

1.  Celebrating the 4th of July with a BBQ in the backyard.  We had a family gathering at our house with my son-in-law's family.  Marcus is one of six kids, and the little ones are such a hoot.  We had a lot of fun that afternoon.  In the evening, each family went their separate ways for fireworks.  Dan's mom stayed with us for the weekend, which was lovely.

2.  I had my day with Brooklynn (my 'little bit') on Monday.  Emily and Marcus stayed for supper, and Luke, Miranda and Seifer came, too.  It was a cool, cloudy day, so I made meat loaf, egg noodles and a casserole with summer squash from our garden.  Luke brought apple pie for dessert (no he didn't  make it, but he was craving it, so picked up one at the store.)  By the way, the summer squash is coming in by the bushel and has pushed out all my cucumbers and other squash! I would welcome some new recipes if anyone has a good one!

3.  It has been an uneventful week, which is a blessing in itself.  We've had thunderstorms every day, and lots of rain delays at the Rockies games.  So, Wednesday night, Luke took my place and went with Dan to see the Angels play.  There were two rain delays, so I'm thankful I got to stay home!

4.  On Thursday I went to morning mass.  There were mostly seniors in attendance, many are people in the community that I grew up knowing, or parents of my friends and schoolmates.  It's a lovely, peaceful time of the day, a quiet service.  A lovely way to start the day.

5.  A couple of weeks ago, I found a small refrigerator/freezer at a garage sale. I bought it on the spot, and Dan and I went back later to haul it home.  So, yesterday I went to the grocery story and loaded up on meats, chicken, pork for the freezer.  There were some great sales!  The fridge portion holds all the canned drinks that take up so much room in our regular refrigerator.  It's nice to feel organized.

How was your week?  Count your blessings!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The love of books

Yesterday, I had the luxury of sitting on our back deck and reading for several hours straight. It was slightly overcast, in fact it started to rain a few times, but I had just enough cover sitting close to the back door of the house, and Lilly lay under my chair, so she was protected, too.

I finished a wonderful book call The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin.  The setting is a little book store on an island in Massachusetts and it's all about people who love books, and it's full of conversations about books.  No wonder I liked it.

One of the lines that resonated with me is near the end.  (I'm not giving anything away in quoting it.)

My life is in these books. Read these and know my heart.

I love that.  In my book club there are some of us who collect books and keep copies of all of our favorites.  There are others who choose to read a book from the library, or borrow a copy, or buy it to pass on.  Sometimes I wish I could be like the latter, and live with less clutter in my life.

But, alas, I am the former.  I collect books. I like to have my favorites close by on the shelves near my desk. I look at them and they are not just old friends, but like mentors in a way.  Does that seem silly?  I've learned so much from reading the pages that I couldn't bear to part with them.  Never mind, too, that I have a terrible memory and I fear that if I were to give them away I would forget all those wonderful stories and bits of wisdom.

The books I keep have in some way touched my heart.  They are on a variety of subjects and by many kinds of authors. Everyone from well-known authors like Willa Cather to privately published books by bloggers I have come to know through the years.  I like fiction and non-fiction alike. Biographies, classics, modern literature, history and there's even a Stephen King tucked away on one of the shelves. (But only one).

When my mother passed away, my brother and I had the bitter-sweet task of going through her books.  She was a book collector, too.  There were so many familiar titles, books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Clan of the Cave Bear, and the entire Jean Auel series.  I remembered how she loved those stories and I was glad to be able to take those books and add them to my collection, as though I could somehow recognize and glean just a bit more of her wisdom and her heart by reading those stories.  Sure enough, reading about Francie Nolan growing up in the streets of Brooklyn took me back to so many stories that Mom shared about her childhood. 

There are many books that I keep, because I loved the story and because I shared the experience of reading it with someone special.  It's like our hearts connected at that point.  The Origin by Irving Stone, is one of those.  It's the first book I remember reading that my father suggested to me as a young girl, and I felt so grown-up that he thought I would appreciate such a story.

The love of books.  It doesn't just end there.  It truly is a way to share your heart with someone, to be able to speak when you can't come up with the words yourself.  I'll never be able to give mine up, so luckily I have a wonderful, handy husband who is able and willing to build me bookshelves to fill to my heart's desire.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Favorites

At long last, summer is here. We're still getting afternoon thundershowers, but the days are sunny and hot, just the way I like them.  Here are a few grace points from my week.  
 Dan and I bought new bikes this spring, to replace the ones we bought the year we got married.  I think that after 31 years, new bikes are in order, don't you? Mine's the one with the basket :).  I love my basket and on our first bike ride was beaming with pride, when I heard my beloved riding behind me humming the music from the Wizard of Oz when Miss Gulch comes riding her bike to collect Toto.  If you can bring up the song in your head, you may fall off your chair the way I almost fell off my bike.

This guy (Swainson's Hawk?) was in our backyard one late afternoon.  The two blue jays that were dive bombing him were not happy that he was in their territory.  He tolerated it for a while and eventually flew away.

The view from the backyard, after a thunderstorm, later that same day.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and words about Abby.  Lilly is adjusting to being the 'only dog' in the household.  Her silliness makes us smile and her loyalty blesses us daily.

I couldn't resist including yet another picture of the Little Bit.  Mondays are 'my day' with her. She is a joy!

Thank you, Susanne, for hosting Friday Fave Five. So nice to reflect on the blessings of the week.