Monday, September 29, 2008

All the lovely things that come in the fall

After a week of migraines my head is mostly empty. I do however feel the cool nights and see the maples changing colors so I am drawn to fall. I grew up in L.A. and fall just didn't happen like it does here. The colors of fall are good-bye colors, they lead us into winter. I have two friends who love the fall colors and look terrific in them, this time of year reminds me of them. I can shop the fiber sells with Dolores and always point her to stuff she will like!

My youngest was born in the fall, I was married in the fall, and our maple leaves all fall in the FALL. Oh a good hint for raking the leaves, if your hands find the handles too small to enjoy holding put a piece of foam pipe cover over your rake handle. Works perfectly. I have carpel tunnel syndrome and can't close my hands tightly and this really makes a nice size to grip.

Another exciting thing that happens this time of year is PUMPKINS! How I love going to a pumpkin farm. This year I seem to have my own. One of the neighbor girls planted pumpkin seeds in a tiny paper cup. We moved it into one of our garden boxes and now it owns the yard! This vine is all over the place. I'm hoping the 80 degree heat the next two days will help those pumpkin's along! I should take photos of this vine, well not at 2am but when the sun comes out!

The pumpkins may be the only garden success this year. I planted in a hurry this year but did make some loose records of the plantings. I couldn't buy seeds, still no job, so I pulled out the stash. Seeds ranging from last year to 5 years back. I planted double everything. So here's the scoop. Failure, Failure, Failure. Seeds need to be planted, seeds collected, often to keep them viable. So none of the onions grew, not even leeks! Carrots being the oldest seeds did amazingly well. Still not big enough to eat, odd weather this year. Two broccoli plants came up out of three packages and no flowers! I got two bok coy that was nice. No cabbage.....Oh it's too sad to go on with what didn't come up. The value in this is clear. USE FRESH SEEDS or grow them out each year.

With this bit of Indian summer coming (a sudden bit of heat in the fall) I think I will take a walk and collect some of the dry stuff that would look good in a vase. This is the time of year you will find interesting stuff growing on the road sides. This and some colorful leaves make a great table center piece. Gourds and pumpkins really add to the fun of the fall so put them at your front porch.

This is often the end of the star gazing so be sure and spend an evening out looking at why we are so small in the reality of all else! I have a telescope that gives me a lot of pleasure.

Fall is also the time of year I make a couple of batches of soap. They will be ready for holiday gift giving. Speaking of gift giving, now is the time to plan and start your projects. We never finish them all so don't plan too deeply! Just start something. One thing.

Ok time for bed....enough of all this fall stuff.

I'll add more photos tomorrow!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Red, white and green

I missed it! I love to make Chilies En Nogada. This is the Independence Day treat for Mexico. But I missed September 16th. I think If I hurry I can make it before the end of Sept. The dish has Red, white and Green the colors of the Mexican flag in it.

This Dish is a lot of fuss! Now that I've said that you must be told how really tasty it is. Here is my very old recipe from a sunset magazine with a few twists I got from a Rick Bayless PBS show I once saw a few years back.

Take this step by step.......

OK here is all the ingredients... I will separate them into working groups shortly.

8 very large fresh poblano chilies (try for some with stems which looks cool on the plate) (you can use canned large chilies, plan for 2 per person)

1 med sized onion, diced

1 or 2 cloves garlic minced or mashed

1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil (if this was Mexico this would be lard)

1 cup of diced cooked pork (directions below)

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

1 large apple,cored, peeled and chopped

1 small pear, peeled, cored and cut up small

1 banana separated and diced Or use a plantain

2 med. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons of dried mango, or candied cactus (you may not find this ingredient)

2 tablespoons raisins (I plumb them in hot water, drain and dry on paper towels)

1/3 Cup slivered almonds

1/4 teas salt

Tiny dash of ground cloves

1/2 teas dried thyme

1 teas dried marjoram


2 cups of walnuts

1 slice firm white bread, crusts removed

1/2 teas cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

1 to 1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or Mexican crema


1 pomegranate

sprigs of flat leaf parsley.

Are you in shock? yes a big list. You will not see this dish at a Mexican restaurant except for the Sept. Celebration and they will have differences and so you too can adjust ingredients to make your Chiles En nogada with what you have.

You will be stuffing the chilies with the pork and fruit mixture and topping it with the walnut sauce and tossing on pomegranate seeds and parsley. See red, white and green!

Prepare the pork:

You can pre-cook the pork a couple of days a head.

1 pound boneless pork shoulder cut into cubes

Place pork in medium saucepan, cover with water. Add half the onion, and a shake of salt. Bring to a gentle boil, skim off grayish foam that appears. Partially cover and simmer over med-low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender and thoroughly cooked. You can cool it in the broth. Save broth and pork separately. If you make this ahead chill until used.

Prepare the fruit filling: This will brown so prepare just before heating.

Peel, core, and cube the following:

tomatoes, apples, pears, banana and peaches

The night before or the morning of the meal prepare and stuff the chilies:

Using a large skillet saute' the other half of onion in oil until transparent. Add pork, tomatoes, apples, pears,peach,garlic,cloves, marjoram, and thyme, and cloves. Stir as you heat this mixture and then add 1/4 cup of the pork broth you had left over from cooking. Your goal is tender fruit not mushy, work carefully not to mash any of this. When it is ready (no liquid in pan) add the 1/4 teas salt, banana, Raisins and sauteed almonds below,stir in. cool before stuffing chilies. If using plantain saute' with almonds, directions below.

In 1 tablespoon oil fry almonds until golden remove nuts and if sauteing plantain add another 1 tables of oil and cut up plantain and stir until browned and sweet about 3-4 minutes. Add to fruit mixture above.

Prepare chilies

If canned are used just rinse out seeds and any pith. You do not cook these.

If fresh chilies are used roast over an open flame, turning occasionally until blistered and blackened on all sides but not soft. Takes about 10 minutes. I slip them into a plastic bag to sit and steam a bit. It helps in removing the skin. Rub off the charred skins and rinse if needed. Make a long slit in the side (leave the top nice and pretty) of each chili and carefully remove the seeds and pith. (the long vein type bits)

If you only have an electric range you can lay a wire cookie rack over the element and heat chilies on that. Or put chili's on a pan and heat right under the broiler of your oven. Use tongs to turn chilies. All chilies should not be touched by hand if you can help it. You might touch your face and not know why it stings. Gloves, tongs and towels are good for handing chilies.

If you like your chilies softer you can put them in boiling water and let sit for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove, dry and cool then stuff. Other wise they are just fine heated after stuffing

Stuff the chilies carefully, fill those chilies up until nicely full. Make those chilies look like their original shape. Place on baking sheet cover with foil. You may chill these until serving time but cover well. Avoid putting foil under the chilies it sticks horribly.

Making the walnut sauce: (the sauce is from the PBS show I watched, I like it better) Are you weary. I peel my walnuts, you don't have to but do blend them well. Make this up to 2 hours before serving or it changes color.

Put 2 cups walnuts in the blender and 1 cup of milk, crumble in the white bread, sugar, salt and ground cinnamon. Blend until a drop no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers. If you are having trouble with the blender add more milk a little at a time, Finally add the cream and blend for just a few seconds. You need a medium consistency we are going to pour this like gravy over the chilies, add milk as needed. Add salt and additional sugar as needed. It should taste slightly sweet with a touch of salt. Walnuts are very acidity. Set aside at room temperature.

Serving: About 30 minutes before dinner place stuffed chilies in a 300 F. degree oven. Heat until hot all the way though but you aren't really cooking this.

Add a little milk or cream to the sauce.

Place two chilies on each plate, Spoon room-temperature sauce over the hot chilies, cover them well in sauce letting the top 1/4 with the stem show. Toss pomegranate seeds over the top and toss a bit of parsley on the very top. Serve at once.

This is so very good! If you want I'll make it for you and you can come enjoy it with me! I love this dish.

Notes: Poblano are not hot chilies but if you get the wrong kind they may end up hot. Removing the seeds and pith helps or soaking in salted water over night if you know you got hot chilies.

I peel pomegranates under water. Cut in half, put it in a bowl of water and begin pulling it apart. This saves the splashing of red all over you and the kitchen. Just drain on paper towels and chill. I like them nice and cold. Can be done a couple of days a head.

WOW that was a big job typing that recipe. I know you may never make this Or you may find it a challenge. Broken into several days really helps. I do love this dish!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Dulce and Bruno

I made this cute one piece apron and filled the pockets with little books and such. If you want the pattern let me know.

I didn't really miss these birthdays! I just didn't have photos to put up until now. Dulce had her 4Th birthday yesterday and what a cutie she was. She has suddenly burst forth with English. It was a delight to see her show me the photos in the little book we brought.
Bruno had his birthday at fair. When grammie can't come to the party, bring the party to grammie. Bleach boy arranged for a big tent to party in and everyone had a lot of fun.
These two kids have joined our family from other countries. Dulce came from Guatemala, she was tiny and weak and in her first month here she had to have all her rotted teeth pulled. She is still little and very sweet and loving. Bruno was in an orphanage in Mexico. He has a clef palate and is going through the surgeries to correct it. He is now 5 years old and is really good at sports. Loves kicking and tossing balls. He gets right in and roughs around with the other boys in the family, he fits right in. He asked me for a pirate ball for his birthday and you can find the directions for the soft ball under "This is for Wendy" in the June folder to your right.

Coming home couldn't be better!

When do you feel completely happy and well cared for? Is it a time from your childhood? I know “far away daughter (#3) said once that some sesame street cookies made her feel so important and loved.

I have a friend we stop and visit when we can. She lives in California near the mountains of Yosemite. When I sleep in her guest room in those crisp fresh sheets and enjoy her ceiling fan I feel so well cared for and peaceful. I spent a week-end very ill there once and I was glad to be in such a sunny welcoming place. I had e-coli and as I went in and out of being aware it was that room and far away daughters visits to me that I remember.

Did you see the movie Edward Scissor hands? A wild and crazy movie but it had some interesting lessons. In the beginning Edward who only had big knives and scissors for hands is lovingly cared for by his creator. His grooming takes place with love and respect. Edward is loved and he looks it, he is tidy and clean. His creator dies and suddenly Edward is no longer cared for. That contrast for Edward is amazing.

There is a book I like called “Home Comforts” the art and science of keeping house, by Cheryl Mendelson. Not only is this book filled with the helpful things you need to remove spots, and fold fitted sheets but it has a lot of wonderful attitudes I believe in but can’t always fulfill. It’s nice to read the first chapter to remind myself. She says on pg 11, “Good housekeepers know intuitively what needs to be done in their homes because they know how their homes make people feel”. Now don’t jump out of your skin, this is a good statement if you think on it. Of course we may not be intuitive about housekeeping, but I do remember going to Donna and Anne’s house to play. And Mrs. Pain was always about the work of good housekeeping and it made me feel comfort even back when I was only 8 or 10 years old. I loved to peek around the corner to see what she would do next. There was a clip she worked at and the house felt safe for all her work. Do we know how we care for people makes them feel? Is this the intuitive part of housekeeping?

If you are alone, or with only one person in your home or with a bunch of family you have the opportunity to offer those that live there something special. You can give your home a feeling of safety and comfort. Today there are just too many worries and everyone needs a place they can leave the world all behind.

So….. What can you offer? Is it a nicely made bed with fluffed pillow that everyone comes home to, sinks into when they are tired? Is it the fragrance of a candle everyone feels cozy with? My sister came to visit when my youngest got married. I like to grow fragrant plants and lucky for her it was summer and the lilies of the valley and the sweet peas and the lavender were all around my house. She wrote me a note in leaving saying how much she enjoyed the sweet smells she found in the rooms she went in. I’m a horrible housekeeper most years but she remembered those flowers.

Why don’t you take on a little assignment this week? Watch and see if you can make some discoveries. What do the people who live in your home love to come home to? If you can just give them something, some kindly act that says “I love having you here”. In so doing you might know your great worth! You are more than just the wife, the mother, the sister, the friend; you are the imparter of comfort and love! Doing those simple little things with lasting impressions. They are worth your effort.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Camping Pacific Northwest style

I know how to camp! Have always been more comfortable outside than in. When I was a kid I would plan to run away from home when we were camping. I met bleach boy when he was dating my camp and sporting director, so what if I was only 13 years old I thought he was cute! I was delighted when he'd drive us to trail heads for our hiking trips. Seems I'm still enjoying bleach boys company in the great out doors!

This week-end we went to Ft. Casey on Whidbey island.

There are some interesting sounds that come with camping on Whidbey. There is a ferry that leaves from the edge of the Ft. Casey camp ground, a little ferry and it blows it's little horn as it comes and goes and as kayaks go near it's path. Ft Casey has a light house and I didn't hear the fog horn from that direction so it may only be a light. Bleach boy loves the sound of the jets, The whidbey island Naval Air Station is here and there are lots of jets flying by. When the kids were little we camped on different parts of the island enough that we grew used to the sound of the jets right over your head. This trip it came as a surprise the first couple of fly bys!

In the northwest you must be ready for any kind of weather if you camp. I wasn't sure I had all that I needed. We haven't done this in a while, busy with the adult lives of our kids. I collected from my memory and my memory proved correct. LAYER EVERYTHING, your tents, your clothes, your eating tables, your bikes! etc and etc. I had a totally fun week-end. Rain, and fog!

Here are some photos for Katie of her parents, & for my kids to let them know their parents still have what it takes! We have been camping with Katie's family for 30 plus years. I remember one year over Lincolns February birthday (yes it was once it's own holiday) we camped on a rainy week-end at Deception pass. The census team insisted on counting us because we looked like we lived there. No one would camp in the rain with so many kids! We kept telling them we had warm, dry homes and had already filled out our census papers but they weren't buying that!

It doesn't look like a good start, leaving Thurs at noon on the Mukilteo ferry
A great smokeless fire!

Bleach boy is filling out our camping form. This camp ground did the campsite juggle the whole week-end. If you didn't like your site you moved when an empty became available. I've never seen it happen like this. People would line up to change sites. very funny! The tent behind bleach boy is us.

This is not my style of camping. At first we were the only tent. I've noticed the beach side camp grounds are usually all RVs. Ft. Warden is the same way.

Those that were diving spent a lot of time checking the current, and tide charts,I think that phone call Scott is making is a birthday call for his sister-in-law.

I made a fresh blackberry tart for dinner and it was wonderful! You can get the recipe on this site

Ft. Casey has lots of great places to explore,the light house, gun banks plus several big lawns. We liked to bring the kids over even for the day to fly kites & bleach boys paper airplanes. Shan and I found some big kids who like to fly the paper planes!

There are two things that take place in paper airplane flying....flying and chasing

Not at all bothered by the little planes

Bleach boy loves the shipping traffic past the island

See that big ship on the left?

Shock! The fog broke just as the sun was going down. The only sun all week-end. I was biking over to the dive site and caught this on my cell phone.

shan and I catching up on some reading. Actually I read a whole book this week-end. Some of it by lantern some by flashlight.

Are you catching what's happening here? It's raining and wet tents don't go in dry canvas bags! They must just be dumped in the car. This was our first camping trip with the Volvo. NOT as easy as with the van!

Always! always bring stuff to do while you wait for your ferry. I had a toy & book collection just for ferry waiting. Guess it's a good time to go home, the rain is winning!

One last thing. Here is the winter schedules for what Washington state parks are open for winter camping!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't worry, be happy.

Don't worry, be happy! My Favorite
I've heard I can put youtube video right here but I haven't had time to figure it out so please go listen.
The last few days have been a real worry! Stock is falling all over the place, the Feds' are making more money (sorry but that makes it all worth a lot less) and well I won't go on because.........
Don't worry, be happy.
Take this slowly and don't make choices too fast. Think everything though. If you want to pick up some cheap stock think of what you are still food, baby stuff etc. Stay away from the housing markets. It may be a very long time for those markets to improve. Remember "Don't worry, be Happy!"
As a women and writing for other women I firmly believe in long term, diverse stock investing. You say "I don't have stock or even money for my next set of bills!" Yes me too so time for........
Mr. Bobby McFerrin "Don't worry, be happy"
Listen to it until you feel better and when I return from my camping trip I'll give you some hints on how not to Worry!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

work with children? Need a project? How about an airplane.

Use felt pens to draw faces on your wrestlers, loop a sturdy rubber band twice around the two clothespins, twist the whole thing around a few times and let go! you can color them different and see which ends up on top as the winner!

Remember you can click and enlarge this
The book this came from is OLD and it doesn't fit my scanner to well so.......
the supplies are a package of smarties and rubber bands, 2 lifesavers which come in individual wraps now!

It is a new school year and the scouts, and campfire girls and organizations that work with children are trying to get started with a bang! But you will wear down and for you I am going to do a couple of easy projects that don't take much to put together.
Hope it helps!
I have a collection from both Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts If you need something just ask!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Can Salmon be this good?

Bleach boy doesn't eat Salmon so this is only for me!

Carrots, egg plant, garlic, onions and purple cabbage

I just love Salmon. My two favorite ways to fix it is on a cedar plank and under the broiler with this yummy topping. A friend gave me this salmon topping recipes years ago and still I make it and enjoy it.

1 cup of melted butter

2 teas lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teas salt (I cut this way down now and it's fine)

touch of onion diced finely

shake of pepper

glug of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons of Ketchup to thicken (I had a bit more)

Mix this up really well. Spread on top of each half of a salmon

Place under the broiler, not too close, and cook until you see the meat start to pull apart, you can see it in my photo at the right hand side. Never over cook fish, watch this carefully. It depends on how thick your salmon is but this took about 9 minutes to cook.

The 2nd photo is the roasted Veggies I served with the Salmon. I learned to make this in Weight Watchers long ago. Roasting the veggies makes them taste so much better. Here is how I do it.

Turn the oven on 550 degrees F.

I line a cookie sheet with foil. I oil the sheet nicely. Olive oil for me....use what you wish. I cut up fresh veggies (washed and dried off) into different shapes. I like how they look when they all look a bit different in shape.

Use anything but my favorites are eggplant, carrots, potatoes, onions, green beans, squashes all kinds, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, garlic, Tomatoes etc. Now sizes should be very close to the same or some veggies will be done a lot earlier than others. Or use two cookie sheets, one for little stuff one for big. Remove the little stuff early.

Lay the food out so as much as possible touches the foil. This is the part that will blacken nicely. Make sure there is enough oil under the food or it will stick. You can oil the pan well and roll the veggies in the oil or you can spray the tops with some oil after they are on the pan.

Roast for about 8 to 20 minutes. Watch for browning. Turn as needed, usually once. Sprinkle with bits of herbs at the last few seconds of cooking and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and serve hot. Tastes wonderful!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Let's send secret notes

Follow the directions for an easy code maker
click to make larger

print and glue to cardboard for this code maker/braker

When I was a kid I had a friend that lived next door in the apartment buildings. My mother was sure nothing good could result from someone living in an apartment. The fifties, go figure. So my friend Peggy and I had to pass secret notes. We dug a hole under the wall that was between our homes and we passed notes. We scrambled them and came up with all kinds of ways to communicate. My heart has a fond spot still today for my friend Peggy even though we never saw each other again after that time period.

Here are some fun ways to pass a secret note. Wars have been lost and won on the ability to keep a note secret and Cub Scouts thrived on secret notes. (my favorite job ever was as a den mother!)

So enjoy testing out some of these fun ways to hide what you want to say...

The Secret Code Wheel cut out the code wheels above from cardboard (what ever you can find) That's two wheels a little and a big. Paste the paper circles on the cardboard circles. lay a book over the top to make the glue hold the paper down. when it's all dry lay the little circle on top of the large circle. WRITE YOUR MESSAGE.

turn the key circle so that the letter A is over any number. Note this at the top of your page and begin writting your message matching the letters to the numbers. Don't turn the key away from the number that is your key. Do the whole letter with the key on say A-15. Then your note that said HOW ARE YOU would be 22-3-11 15-6-19 13-3-9. Be sure you put A-15 at the top of the page or your friend will never figure out the note.

Guess your friend needs a copy of the circles too. Don't forget to make a set for everyone sharing this method.

When your friend receives your coded note he turns it to the A-15 you wrote at the top of the page and he unscrambles your note.

Very fun very easy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

making a fast side dish

We are busy people! Aren't you? Sometimes meal times sneak up on us and I'm left doing a hurry up job. This has become a favorite hurry up side dish. You don't need a recipe for baked beans. Just some cooking hints. Cook it "FAST" in your microwave. Open cans of different beans. I like the small whites, but anything will work. Use two different beans for variety. Some that I have used are Cannellini, aduki, small whites, great Northerns, red beans, black beans, pinto. I don't like kidney in baked beans.
DRAIN the beans
Add any amount of your choice of ingredients:
a shake of Worcestershire sauce
left over barbecue sauce
brown sugar
Grated onions
bacon or left over pork
Stir it up really well.
With the lid off Microwave checking and stirring every 4 minutes. It has taken my microwave about 15 minutes to thicken the beans but you will find the better you drain the faster it goes.
Kids don't always like beans, but once they taste the sweetness they sometimes change their mind. We call them candied beans. Bleach boy thinks I fuss and bake for hours when I put this on the table. If only he really knew!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Looking back for far away daughter

This year my office wall at the fair was covered with photo of the people and things I see from my corner of the fair. This one photo stood out. It was from our years in the horse barns. A fond memory of the kids, the horses and the barns. Does anyone know the year? These are only the girls. Don't know where the boys took off to.
Where are you now? Everyone grew up but where are they?

Friday, September 5, 2008

What Mother Nature can do

It was a normal enough Sunday

When the storm began to waltz in

First one rainbow, then two, soon one large bright one!

The sun not wanting to be out done by the rainbow tossed some golden into the air...

But the sun never likes to be out done and must always out do...

People were puzzled, should they run for cover? Was the lightening dangerous? A women from another state asked me what it all meant?

it grew and grew

Big rain drops and lightening commented back to greedy Sun....

Cloud brought out his dragon to frighten sun back to the work of his setting......

Dragon roared and growled!

And in one last big breath sun colored all that was there and we were in Awe!

Nothing is as magical and wild as Mother Nature!

I took these photos outside my door at the Evergreen State Fair. I used a Cannon D-30 to take the photos.