Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Good Read for Halloween

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Just this morning I finished this book and it occurred to me how timely it was to be reading it now.
I first read about Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE at the beginning of the summer.
It was on some one's reading list as "the must-read" for the summer.
I usually choose the "slice of life" novels, but this one sounded like it was right up my daughter's alley.
She's a fantasy, LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER, kind of girl.
So, I recommended it to her and she read it right away.
Her response was, "Mom, you've got to read it so we can discuss it."
Well, I couldn't let that pass me by.
I will admit, I listened to it as an audio book, rather than read it.
It's scary, dark, gory, and deals with vampires (not the romanticized ones we've come to know and love in the past few years).
In other words, the perfect read at Halloween time.
THE PASSAGE takes place in the not too distant future.
Multiple wars, coupled with government experiments which have gone horribly amuck, fast forwards life as we know it into an apocalyptic world where civilizations crumble and the survival of the human race is questionable.
I can't imagine this isn't going to be a blockbuster movie not too far in the future.
"Read this book and the ordinary world will disappear." Stephen King
Here's an interesting video I found to whet you appetite...

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Pesto

I was a bit late doing this, but I finally got around to harvesting my basil plants last week.

I planted two small plants last spring and they were prolific!
However, by this time of year, they were looking overgrown and a little tired. So it was time for making pesto! I harvested all the leaves and gave them a good wash.
The salad spinner is a great gadget for getting them dry.

I found a really good bargain for pine nuts at Sam's.
I had a lot of basil, so forget those little bags from the grocery store!
I was able to make four batches with my basil and had enough left over to make Zucchini Hummus!

Pesto is easy to make because everything goes into the food processor and it does the work!

Then the pesto is stored in ice cube trays and frozen.
Each cube is about two tablespoons, just the right amount for adding to soups, sauces and stews this winter.

2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups loosely packed basil
1T. lemon juice
1/2t. salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Place garlic in food processor; pulse until chopped. Add pine nuts, basil, lemon juice and salt; pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add olive oil gradually through food chute and process until well combined. Add cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Makes about 1 cup.

If you have extra basil, you might as well make up a batch of the following too, since you've already got most of the ingredients on hand!


1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup coarsely chopped zucchini
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1t. fresh lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Serves four.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mending Stitches

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A few years ago, during the same time I was preparing Buttermilk Cottage for my eventual move in, I spent my "down time" knitting a lovely blue afghan.
I knew I was going to have a blue bedroom and planned to use it there.
When Kate, my daughter moved away for college she asked if she could have it.
Since she so rarely asks me for anything I make (???) I was thrilled for her to take it.
She used it in her dorm room during her first year and the following three years in her small apartment.
Then it moved to NYC with her.

While visiting her a couple of weeks ago, this is what I discovered!
On the one hand, it's nice to know Kate is giving it lots of use, but...
So, the afghan came back home with me for some mending.
It was one of those jobs on my "to do" list that kept getting moved down below other, more enjoyable tasks.
Today turned out to be a good day for mending.
We had a gorgeous fall day, so I clipped on my Walkman and tuned into a great book I'm listening to (more about that when I hear the ending), and took everything out to the front porch.
After repairing the one hole, I discovered three more.

Although not perfect, the afghan is still pretty and usable.
Kate, who is getting ready to move into a new place in the big city has even asked me about it, so I know she really wants it back.
It makes me feel good to know she considers it special enough to decorate her new place and that it will be giving her some warmth this winter.
If only all mending jobs could be as pleasant as this one turned out to be.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Curb Appeal

My neighborhood is designated as a "historical district" within the city where I live. It is also within walking distance of a midsized university. That means I live in an eclectic neighborhood. Which usually is fine by me.

We have some real mansions here.

There are some houses that can take you breath away by their sheer majesty.

There are also smaller, sweeter houses,

and those that just say "home."

Some houses that "get it right" every time.

And then, there are some...

which could actually be quite charming, but...

The only thing I have to say is that if God had meant for upholstered furniture to be on the front porch, he would have named it the "living room."
Just saying...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

Recently, while on our Fall vacation to visit my brother Rick and his wife Terry, my sister Nancy and I were treated to a wonderful meal cooked by Rick. I knew this was a recipe I wanted to try once I got home and last night was the night! You might like it too!
Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
1 T. olive oil
1T. minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 c. heavy cream
2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest and juice of the lemons, 2 t. of salt, and 1 t. of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling , salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1T. salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed into the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes and cooked broccoli. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.
My Wonderful Brother, Rick!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hand Knitted Table Runner

Last Thursday I joined the Thursday Tablescape Party at Between Naps on the Porch.

I got several very nice comments about my Fall table, but by far the thing most commented upon was my hand knitted table runner.

The knitted runner was mentioned almost as an after thought since I was moving it off my table and onto a side buffet. Since there was expressed interest in it, I wanted to remind everyone it's available at my Etsy Shop!

Here's a close up of the stitching in a 100% natural cotton.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Setting the Table for Fall

I've been very inspired the past few days, "watching" as many fellow bloggers begin their Fall decorating. So today I pulled out some of my favorite Fall accessories.

Here's the dining room table in it's streamlined summer look. The runner is one I hand knitted. The bowl is one done several years by a local wood turner. It holds some white wooden pears.

One of my collections is of animal candle holders. This dog is one of my favorites.

The kitty candle holder usually keeps the dog company.

I started my Fall tablescape by replacing the runner with a quilted one in a deep shade of yellow.

Next came a bunch of inverted silk leaves.

On top of the leaves are placed three paper mache pumpkins I've had for many years. They look like carved wood to me.

Finally come my turkey candle holders,

made of pine cones.

The set consists of three, each a different height and size.

While I was at it, the neighboring buffet got a few Fall touches too.

Voila! The scene is set!

I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her Thursday Tablescape Party. Be sure to visit her site and get inspired for some Fall table decorating too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beginning Fall with a Trip!

It seems like ages since I've posted! I'm still in the process of "being home" after a whirlwind trip last week with my "neighbor upstairs." We returned last night after a ten hour drive from NYC back to Tennessee. I love to go, but isn't it always great to return home again? The first leg of our trip was to Maryland for a visit with my brother Rick and his wife Terry. Here they are, with Nancy in the middle (three of my favorite people in the world). We had never been to Maryland before and Rick and Terry showed us the sights!

Terry is a crafter extraordinaire and had just finished several of her Fall projects. This small hanging paper decoration is one of several she crafted from pages of an old book and embellished with stamping and other techniques.

We spent some time prowling through this huge and interesting shop.
The Apple Basket is an emporium of antiques, floral designs and a mix of old and new collectibles.

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Since we don't have an IKEA near Buttermilk Cottage, it's always a real treat when we get to visit one. We found several "must haves" at this one just outside Washington, D.C.

Some of our "stash" from IKEA

En route to Ladew Topiary Gardens
in Monkton, Maryland we unexpectedly came upon these gorgeous fields of sunflowers! What a surprise and delight! Those fields of yellow you see are all sunflowers!

The Ladew Topiary Garden is noted by the Garden Club of America as "The Most Outstanding Topiary Garden in America."

In addition to the whimsical topiary, the garden also includes a nature walk and a house tour of the garden's creator, the late Harvey Ladew. We spent a wonderful afternoon here.

Then, on to New York for a visit with my daughter, Kate and her guy, Dylan.

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We caught the Broadway show
MEMPHIS at the Shubert Theatre. This production is the 2010 Tony winner for Best Musical and is about "The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll." Lots of fun!

An unexpected treat was that we just happened to be in NYC for "Fashion Night Out," the kick off for Fashion Week. Hundreds of designer stores were open late for shopping. What fun! A real party atmosphere was created by many of the stores stationing attendants at their entrances to welcome you in, serving drinks and food, deejay music and live models. We felt as though NYC was throwing a huge party and we got to go!

And...what, there's more??? I had a nice treat waiting for me when I returned last night. I was the winner of a giveaway hosted by Laura at Bright, Bold and Beautiful. I haven't yet had the opportunity to try the several products included in my gift from Perricone MD
but I'm looking forward to it!

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