Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Recall

There's something very unsettling about getting the dreaded phone call after a mammogram requesting that you come in for "special views." It's even more disturbing to have those second views require yet "another angle." And do I have to say what the next invitation to "follow me for an ultrasound" does to your stomach?

For two very long hours, I sat there in a tiny little room with three magazines I didn't care about, my mind having time to put all sorts of things into perspective. What was undone, what didn't matter, what were we having for dinner, how does this happen. Lucky for me, this day had a happy ending. All is well. All is benign. Carry on.

Still, it's that jolt that reminds you to love every day. A jolt that says some things don't really matter. And some things matter so much.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Message

This is the message you get if you visit the Ramstein Yard Sale web site on a Sunday. What a wonderful wake-up call.

Today is the official yard sale addict recovery day. It's the day when we all take time away from our computers to enjoy the sunshine, life, friends, church, and our family.

Life is too rich to spend today in front of the computer, so we're taking a rest. Come join us in the park on a walk, in the hospital visiting our friends, snuggling on the couch reading a story.

And don't worry, we'll be here tomorrow!

Your friends,
Adam and Austin \

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ultimate Lemon Squares

Today I made Lemon Squares using a recipe I got from the French Nest. She adapted it from Anna Olson's recipe, who has a bakery in Port Dalhousie. You'll notice that she calls for "icing sugar" which I am assuming is powdered sugar or confectionery sugar. Anyway, that's what I used. I squeezed fresh lemons for the juice and just for good measure, I used a yellow mixing bowl and a yellow spatula.

It's totally unfair to use Tom's review as Word because he's such a sucker for lemon bars. But if you're looking for a winning recipe, here's a Luscious one.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 cup + 2 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest (I can never get zest. I guess I don't know what to do. Anyway, I omitted this.)

*Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan
*For the crust: In a medium bowl, cream the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the icing sugar and 1 cup of the flour, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until well blended. Press the dough firmly over the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
*For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, remaining 2 1/2 tsp of the flour, the lemon juice and the zest. Beat with the electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Spread over the cooled crust (I was too impatient to wait) and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes more, until set. Let cool thoroughly in the pan before cutting into 2-inch squares. (I cooled and then refrigerated before I cut and dusted.) Dust with icing sugar.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cooking Fever

I'm reading Julie & Julia right now and whether it's the book or the extra time I have lately, I find myself wanting to try new recipes. I'm focusing right now on appetizers. Today I tried spinach-artichoke-tomato puffs. The mixture looks terrible -- in fact it made TD gag just to look at it. Spinach, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese all processed till smooth. You're supposed to roll out puff pastry dough on corn meal, cut into 3" squares, put a tablespoon of filling in the center, fold the corners up and bake. I did not have cornmeal so I used polenta instead. It was not the right thing to use. The polenta is too granular and sticks to the dough so the bites are grainy. I think I'm going to try using crescent rolls and forget the fancy flaky pastry dough.

The other appetizer I tried was called tortilla bites and was a rolled up tortilla with spicy cream cheese spread, fresh spinach leaves on top of that, then grilled shrimp seasoned with a cajun spice and some grilled red peppers. I didn't have enough shrimp so I added some mahi mahi, which was a good substitute. In fact, if you don't like shrimp, you could do the whole thing with that. This was very good and actually pretty easy to make. You roll the tortilla tight and slice into 5 pieces, using a toothpick to hold each piece together. That was our dinner the night I made it. That and a small salad. Felt a little spa-like.

The Julie & Julia book is a great read, btw.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Warped! Which Moon Walk?

Here's how warped I am. Listening to an NPR segment this morning about how after three years of painstakingly thorough searching and believing that the video of the moonwalk was most likely lost forever, tape restoration experts were able to refurbish existing footage, making it clearer than ever -- what did I think they were talking about? Michael Jackson of course.

Come to find out, today is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. And they were talking about the real moon walk. Of which, I so remember watching in the middle of the night in a hot apartment, water cooler air conditioner blowing on me, feeling like I was part of history.

The step for mankind. Wow. Forty years ago.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First Decision of the Day

I have my favorite coffee cups. The first decision I have to make most days is which cup to use. Some days I tell my husband to surprise me, but most days call for a certain cup.

I remember visiting an old man one time who kept standing in front of his cabinet. I asked what he needed. "A glass to warm my milk in," he said. I picked one and said, "How about this one?" "No, I need the silver one." Sometimes I feel like that old man. I need a certain cup.

This is a very simplistic version of following your gut or listening to your instincts. You don't have to understand the why of it, you just have to recognize that for whatever reason you have a need and you choose to follow it. If we learn to follow our instincts on these little messages, I believe it will serve us well when bigger instincts come along. We'll be accustomed to listening to our own messages and knowing it's okay to act.

Here are my favorite cups.




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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Art Play Day

I was invited recently to join a group of women artists who have a play date once a month. The woman who hosts the day has devoted a small, ugly little 2-bedroom house, totally to art. This is probably the original house on the property; she has (or someone has) built another house for her residence.

One bedroom is used for the "paint room," a place where silk-screening, fabric stamping, etc. is done. Shelves with silk screens, jars of paint, all sorts of supplies line one wall. The closet, sans doors, is completely filled with, well, S-T-U-F-F. Tissue papers, old jewelry, gadgets, gizmos, things you should never throw away. I mean stuff is everywhere. In the center of the room are two long utility tables butted together for work space.

The other bedroom is the fabric room. This closet, also sans doors, is filled with stacks of fabric stacks, and then there's more fabric on shelves across the room. This fabric is "hands-off" -- this is her stash -- but the bins at the end of the room are fair game. Big bins with such luscious cast-offs as pieces of "bad" stamping or silk-screening, remnants of velvet and lace and sequins, some ugly, some cute, some you just want to frame and hang. Tons of things to fight your way through. Plus, there's an ironing board set up, all ready to go.

The "living/dining room" is filled with a huge quilting machine--I bet it's at least 12 feet long. A bookcase jam-packed with art books; two long utility tables butted together to make a square which is used for projects, lunch, chatter, etc. Add the clutter of a real artist, pieces hanging on the wall, some tossed casually on the machines, a wall of large spools of threads, and it was truly a visual feast. Almost sensory overload for me. I didn't know where to start.

Everyone that attends pays $10 for supplies and brings a lunch. There is usually a focus but if you want to try something else, have at it. The focus this time was what they call "skins." Essentially, this is collaged paper, fabric, strings, etc., that you assemble onto a plastic bag with glue that has been watered down; let it dry and then pull it off. The piece has enough substance that you can sew through it, cut it up and use another way, etc. I was going to make a book cover with one piece but ended up using it on the bottom of a glass bowl today.

Definitely the best $10 I've spent this month.