Saturday, August 28, 2010

Northwoods Book Arts Festival

The Northwoods Book Arts Festival in Hackensack today was a huge success. Not only was the weather great but it was well attended. There were an impressive number of artists, regional authors and poets. I enjoyed working there and meeting a lot of new people. I was certainly surprised to see one of the picture book authors. She was from the Twin Cities and I had taught her children a number of years back. I had an opportunity to read two poems that I had submitted for the poetry reading. While I did not win any awards I really enjoyed the experience. If you would like to see some of the photos I took they will posted on the following website: NorthwoodsArtsCouncil.org in the next few days.
Finding the dragonfly recently near my porch door (photo posted on a recent blog) inspired me to revise the following poem.
Dragonflies
Dragonflies...
aerial acrobats
darting about
scooping up mosquitoes
for a tasty meal.

Dragonflies...
hover airborne
moving upward-downward
and even side to side.

Dragonflies...
translucent wings
glisten in the light
speed demons
blitzing at a fast pace.

Dragonflies...
often mistaken for fairies
pay close attention
for only one is
watching and waiting
to play tricks on you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Leap of Faith

It takes a Leap of Faith to go from being dogless for 2 1/2 years to being a full time dog owner. My husband and I just took such a leap. We adopted a yellow lab from an animal rescue shelter. The pluses for Bella is she is rather mellow with a very sweet temperament. It also helps that she hardly barks and does not jump up on people. But we thought we were getting a 65 pound dog and in actuality turns out she weighs some 83 lbs. Yikes!!!! what were we thinking to rescue such a large dog.
I have to add by the time we purchased a kennel, food, toys, various other dog essentials and paid the adoption fees I could have almost paid for a new stove that has been on my wish list.
Bella won us over with her bright brown eyes and wagging tail. Of course she was quite happy to leave dreary shelter life behind and move on to dog heaven...the lake.
I posted a few pictures taken today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Resurrection

Resurrection according to Webster's dictionary means rising from the dead or returning to life. Now that is what my sunflower stalk did in spite of the recent deer raid on my garden. (I wrote about it in a blog titled Faded Memories August 17th). I had almost given up on seeing this flower bloom but now I have a photo to back up my words.
Sadly though, I could not resurrect this dragonfly (see photo) I discovered today near my porch door. It was rather fascinating to have such a up close and personal look at this insect since they are always darting about at such a very fast pace.
All this talk about resurrection leads me to the thought about a book I recently heard rave reviews from several people. So I got a copy of Joshua in a Troubled World by Joseph Girzone. The basic storyline looks at a fictional depiction of what would it be like if Jesus would return to the present day world and walk among the bustling crowds of Washington D.C. as Joshua who has a Middle Eastern appearance. Trouble brews as Joshua makes several stops at churches, temples and mosques and his appearance begins to arouse suspicions. Joshua is taken into custody by government agents. He then challenges the system regarding the legal and moral justness of their actions. Joshua feels his mission in life is to unite Arab and Jewish Americans by helping them look at ways to avoid wars and their religious animosities. I am intrigued by the ambitious effort of the author to explore such explosive issues that today divide us as a nation. This book is one of the many in the Joshua series.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fire Up The Grill

As the warm days continue, using the grill is a good alternative to heating up the kitchen. The following recipes might whet your appetite
Almond Crusted Turkey or Pork Tenderloin
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 TB. herbs de Provence (can find in spice section of store)
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/4 lb. turkey or pork tenderloin (split in half horizontally seasoned with salt and pepper)
Directions:
  • Pulse almonds in a food processor till finely ground
  • Add bread crumbs and spices mix together
  • Dredge tenderloins in almond crumb mixture
  • Spray PAM in a glass 8 x8 dish
  • Place meat in dish and refrigerate several hours
  • Place 2 TB. oil in fry pan and sear meat over medium heat 3 minutes on each side
  • On a large piece of foil spread 3/4 cup Raspberry Salsa (prepared jar from Byerlys)
  • Place meat on top of sauce and grill at a medium heat for 40 minutes
  • Insert meat thermometer and should be 155 degrees to be done
Serve with Cherry Sauce
Simmer the following
  • 1/2 cup cherry juice
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/3 cherry preserves
  • 1 TB. sugar
  • 1TB. Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lb. frozen dark cherries partially thawed and halved
  • pinch of salt
Directions:
  • Simmer in a saucepan for 10 minutes
  • Whisk in chopped dark cherries and cook 2 more minutes
  • Combine 1/2 cup of orange juice and 2 TB. cornstarch
  • Whisk into cherry mixture
  • Simmer 1 minute
  • Optional : add 2 TB. cherry brandy
  • On a platter slice meat diagonally and spoon cherry sauce over it
Green Beans
Directions:
  • Saute in fry pan 1/2 cup chopped onion and 3 TB. orange rind
  • Cook green beans in boiling water for 12 minutes
  • Drain and rinse with ice cold water
  • Place drained beans on foil add onions and orange rind, 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • Crimp foil to encase beans and place on grill for 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle crushed almonds over beans to serve
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Black-eyed Susan flowers seem to be at their peak lately and the following cocktail recipe celebrates their bloom time!
Black-eyed Susan Cocktail
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 TB. vodka
  • 3 TB. light rum
  • 2 TB. orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
  • Crushed ice
Stir together first five ingredients. Fill two glasses with crushed ice. Pour orange juice mixture over the ice and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Faded Memories

It was disheartening to return to the lake (only after a 5 day hiatus and even my daughter was here for two of them) to find out that our recently installed gnome security system had failed!! I mentioned it in blog from July 31. This malfunction I am sorry to say caused an invitation for open grazing in the vicinity for mainly deer. The Tiger Lily, Hydrangea, and Sunflower blooms are now all but a memory. And to think I had carefully nurtured these plants all summer long.
So I was forced to look at old photos to remind me of their once beautiful state. Check out ones I posted.
Now Vincent Van Gogh seemed to have an abundance of sunflowers at his disposal when painting his sunflower series in 1889 Arles, France. I have been told to drive down US 12 near Saline, Michigan for a visual treat of sunflower fields along the road or go to Provence, France. Perhaps I need to quickly plan some trip to catch sight of these stately blooms. The France one sounds the best!
But what I really wonder is what type of security system owners of sunflower fields employ to preserve their flowers from being a snack during a midnight raid???

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Small Celebration

Despite the insufferable heat today I have found a reason to celebrate. Recently I entered two poems in The Northwoods Book and Arts Festival to be held August 28 in Hackensack (a town north of Brainerd). So I found out my poems ( Dragonflies and Early in the Morning at the Lake) will be in running for judging that day. The poems will be displayed with others entries and I will share them during a poetry reading time.
So to celebrate this bit of good news decided to share some of my favorite summer drink recipes. Perhaps you might want to cool off with a drink and wish me luck!
Summer Drink Recipes
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Apricot Slush
Ingredients:
  • 12 oz. can frozen lemonade thawed
  • 12 oz, can frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • 1 cup of apricot brandy
  • 3 quarts Diet 7-UP
Directions;
  • In a large Tupperware container mix all ingredients except 7-UP
  • Cover and freeze
  • To serve: Place scoops of slush mix in glass 3/4 full and fill rest of glass with 7-UP
  • Serve with a straw
  • Note: Make several days ahead before needed so frozen to a slushy state
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Peachy Keen Slush
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
  • 12 oz. frozen lemonade thawed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2- 1/2 cups peach flavored schnapps
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 -28 oz. bottles of 7-UP
Directions:
  • In a medium saucepan boil sugar and 2 cups of water for 3 minutes
  • Cool
  • In a large Tupperware covered container combine sugar mixture, concentrates, peach schnapps, 3 cups of water and lemon juice
  • Cover and freeze
  • To serve: fill glass 3/4 full with slush mixture and add Diet 7-UP
  • Serve with a straw
  • Note make several days ahead so drink mixture is slushy
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Frozen Daiquiri
Ingredients:
2- 6 oz. limeade concentrate
1- 6 oz. lemonade concentrate
1 liter bottle diet 7 UP
1 small bottle of Squirt
2-1/2 juice cans of rum
2 juice cans of water

Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients in a large Tupperware container
  • Cover and freeze
  • To serve: Place slush mixture about t3/4 cup full and add Diet 7-UP
  • Serve with a straw
Lastly, don't forget when serving add a paper umbrella! Makes the drink seem so much more festive!
Keep Cool

Monday, August 9, 2010

How To Keep Cool

Continuous days of heat does tend to wear one down and sap energy levels. So... to be proactive I've made a list of some things that might cool you off or at the least distract you from the endless weather newscasts.
1. Enjoy the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This story is a series of memories by Jacob Jankowski, a 93 year old man who lives in a nursing home. His story begins when he is 23 and preparing for his final college exams during the time of the Great Depression. A tragedy occurs with his parents being killed in a car accident Jacob leaves school and subsequently joins a circus to become a veterinarian. The symbol of water as purification is portrayed many times throughout the story. Currently the movie is being filmed with Resee Witherspoon and Robert Patterson.
2. Plan a movie date with a friend for the opening this week of the movie Eat, Pray and Love
3. Take note there are plenty of people out there who do not have AC so if you are fortunate to have it think about inviting a friend or family member over who less fortunate and would love to have a cool place to escape to
4. Drag out photo albums or go online and find some of your favorite winter pictures. Reflect on how long and cold the MN winter season is and perhaps you may have forgotten
5. Try the following drink recipes to cool off in then find some shady spot to enjoy your drink
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Junebug
3 cups of ginger ale
4 TB. grenadine
4 TB. orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet
Blend together ginger ale, orange juice, and sherbet. Pour into ice filled glasses.
Optional: add 1/2 cup rum
Cherry Blossom Cocktail
1- 1/2 0z cherry brandy
1/2 oz triple sec
1-1/2 oz lemon juice
simple syrup to taste
Mix over ice

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summmer Reading

I have become a huge fan of Lynne Jonell after reading her newest middle grade novel: The Secret of Zoom. She is such a imaginative writer who really thinks out of the box for a storyline. So I decided to read her first fiction book: Emmy and The Incredible Shrinking Rat. This is another inventive fantasy of magic, bravery and courage. Emmy, the heroine, finds herself the only student in the class that can hear and speak to the the class pet, a rat. The storyline is also a mystery as Emmy discovers who is plotting to control her family's fortune. Along the way she also discovers a store called Ancient Rat. It is here Emmy finds caged rats that are used to drug humans.

A picture book that screamed... BUY ME... BUY ME recently when I was at a bookstore is called Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillan. The book is written in a diary format where a goldfish recounts his life over a 14 day time period. He starts out alone in a goldfish bowl quite happy with his simple life. But what happens as the owner starts adding decorations and more fish becomes quite amusing when told from the perspective of the goldfish.

Now for the big people...a mystery book recommend:Monkeewrench by p.j.tracy. It is written by a mother and daughter team who have a created a series of mystery books and this is the first one. I would recommend reading them in order. The second book is called Live Bait. Part of the appeal of these books is the setting which is Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Minneapolis area plays a huge part in the first book. The mystery in Monkeewrench begins with Grace McBride and the oddball crew of her software company, called Monkeewrench. The crew creates a computer game where the killer is always caught. But their game becomes a nightmare when someone starts duplicating the fictional murders in real life. Their latest book is Shoot to Thrill.

Lastly, I posted a picture of something that is a sign of something just around the corner. Yikes!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Loon Census

Counting the number of loons on the lake could be an overwhelming task. But if you divide the job up it can be a snap. Our lake association wanted a head count of loons. One reason being a group wants to build loon nests/platforms for next spring and are trying to figure out how many are needed. A side note is loons from our region migrate south toward the gulf area in the Fall. Some dismal predictions are being made that the loon count could be as much as half returning next year due to the oil spill.
A boat ride early in the morning was a nice way to cool off on an already warm muggy morning. We were assigned a certain section of the lake and found that this time might not be the best time to count. It was challenging since several loons were already airborne and it was hard to figure out what area they had flown from or were going to. And when you approached parent loons they dove under with the babies. But in the end managed to get a head count and noted to the organizers census taking in the evening might be better since loons are not so active at that time.
I have a wonderful book called Just Loons by Alan Hutchinson. In the book I found out...
  • Loons have been reported flying more than 60 miles an hour and can fly at altitudes of 1,500 feet or more
  • Loons spend 99% of their life on water. Swimming is natural to young loons. They swim within hours of hatching and begin to dive when only a few days old.
  • The average dive last less than a minute. The maximum time a loon can stay underwater is 3 minutes.
  • Loons winter in coastal waters that do not freeze. Hey!!! that sounds just like humans

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Unexpected

An unexpected surprise often is a real treat! My gnome interest, which has led me to several discussions on this subject with family members and friends, generated two gifts. Each gift was found at the Fairyland Cottage. Remember I wrote awhile back in a blog how I went on a canoe ride to a adjoining lake searching for the source of the tapping noise I heard each evening? It was there deep in the woods I discovered the wee folk putting their finishing touches on the construction of the Fairyland building. It opened recently and some of my lake guest were fortunate to find two wonderful items for me. I posted pictures for you to enjoy.
And perhaps the following recipe will help take the bite out the current muggy weather.
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Red Wine Marinated Peaches

Carpe diem meaning seize the day in Latin must refer to that much anticipated time in late summer when juicy peaches are at their best.
Serve as a dessert
Ingredients:
  • 6 ripe peaches peeled, sliced and pitted
  • 1- 1/2 cups of Merlot
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of ground cloves (use sparingly)
Directions:
  • Place cut up peaches in a large bowl
  • In a large saucepan combine wine, sugar, cinnamon and cloves
  • Cook and stir over heat until sugar dissolved
  • Pour marinade over peaches, toss gently to coat
  • Marinate at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Spoon peaches and marinade into dessert dishes, top with a dollop of whip cream or place a scoop of ice cream into a dessert dish and spoon peaches and marinade over that