Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thrift Treasures




You never know what treasures can be found at your local thrift shop. Recently I went with a few friends to a local thrift shop in the lake area. We were on a hunt for plates and various size glasses to complete our inventory for an upcoming craft project. I have posted pictures of our completed dessert/appetizer plates in case you need an idea. This project can be an under $5.00 depending on what treasures you find at a thrift/antique shop or free if found in your house!
We found eight or ten inch plates work the best. Be imaginative in your base selection. Some suggestions that work well for a base are a martini glass, sherbet glass, wine glass, candle holder and even a candy dish. Depending on the weight of the plate your glass can be turned right side up or upside down. Use glue from from a store such as Michaels that is for bonding glass and ceramics. Follow the directions on the tube and place glue in center where plate will be attached. Press base to plate and let dry overnight with a heavy book on it. Complete the project with a bow tied at the stem of the base. I would suggest hand washing rather than using dishwasher.
Another idea is to buy a small plate that says Happy Birthday. Glue the plate to a glass base and place a small birthday cake or cupcakes on it. This makes a great gift for a friend's special occasion. Look at previous blog on cupcake decorating ideas.
Any questions please respond back in comment box.
Click on three center pictures for a close-up view. Unfortunately pictures posted on side bar can not be enlarged.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Do You Stay Awake For?


What do you stay awake for? is the posted question on Caribou's new coffee cups. These cups pictured show the old design. Caribou is a coffee shop chain found in the Midwest. I was with some friends recently and we started our own list. Perhaps you have your own ideas to add.
  • walking the dog
  • Royal wedding
  • answering email
  • texting someone goodnight
  • playing computer games
  • correcting papers
  • balancing a checkbook
  • presidential elections
  • long movie
  • moon coming up
  • playing cards
  • northern lights
  • meteor showers
  • finishing a book
  • making a craft

Cupcake Decorating Ideas

Ambrosia Cupcakes

Make cupcakes from a prepared box lemon cake mix bake as directed

Frosting

Mix 3 cups powdered sugar, 3 TB. softened butter and 1 tsp. vanilla beat till smooth adding enough milk by the tablespoons to get the right consistency if needed. Add 2 TB. Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

Toast coconut on a cookie sheet

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut

Refrigerate ½ hour to set frosting and Don’t forget to add one paper umbrella to serve

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

Make cupcakes from a prepared box devils food cake mix and bake as directed

Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/3 hot coffee

1/3 cup melted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. salt

Beat coffee and cocoa together, add rest of ingredients and mix well

Add 2 TB. Kahula

Frost cupcakes

Break in half one Oreo cookie for each cupcake

Arrange the halves on each side of the frosted cupcake broken side pressed into cupcake

Sprinkle each cupcake with crushed cookie crumbs

Crème de Menthe Cupcakes

Make cupcakes using a chocolate cake mix and bake as directed

Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar, 3 TB softened butter and 1 tsp. vanilla adding enough milk

by the tablespoons to get the right consistency, add 2 drops of green food coloring and

2-3 TB. Crème de menthe

Frost cupcakes and add in center one Andes chocolate. Stand chocolate on its side press into frosting

Hershey’s Chocolate Cupcakes

Make cupcakes using a dark chocolate cake mix add 2 TB Kahula to batter and bake as directed

Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar, 3 TB. softened butter, 3 oz. cream cheese and 1 tsp vanilla adding enough milk by the tablespoons to get the right consistency and then add 2 TB. Kahula frost cupcakes and add one piece of Hershey dark chocolate (fun size) lay candy on cupcake place in center –sprinkle with cookie crumbs

Sunday, August 28, 2011

NYC Wrap-up




Yikes! good thing we left NY when we did judging from what we see about Hurricane Irene's punch on the East Coast. Last Saturday's wedding event that was at DUMBO and the park under the bridge this weekend is in Zone 1 under water.
It is difficult to even comprehend shutting down the largest subway system with all the people who rely on it for public transportation. We did the subway twice and found it to be a quick and cheap way to get somewhere if you have exact directions on how to use it. I thought it was interesting to note in Sunday's paper that their transit system won't open till at least Monday to remove waters from flooded subway systems. But even on a dry day, 13 to 15 million gallons of water are removed from the tunnels deep underground. Wow that is a lot of water each day!
Often our group found ourselves short on time, in a different place in the city and needed to be somewhere else. That's when we discovered car service. The cost was a bit higher but with five people to split the cost it was not much more than a regular cab. Besides we found out that a NYC cab with 5 people is automatically $5.00 more.
On Day One just by chance calling this car service we found our savior who then remained by our side the entire trip. All he asked was a call 30 to 40 minutes before he was needed and he would be there. And yes... he was dependable each time.
On Day Two he rescued us from midtown Manhattan when two cabs would not take us to Brooklyn. He then drove us to our hotel, came back an hour later to take us to the wedding and returned later in the evening to pick us up. We used his car services several times after that and he took each sibling to the airport as we all left on different days. I guess this cab driver really seemed to enjoy our company. Or perhaps he gets tired of talking to New Yorkers and midwesterners are a novelty ??? My daughter and I knew on the last day he could not take us to airport and he even apologized that he was not available. Well much to my surprise as we were back in the Twin Cities I get a cell phone call from him wondering how our return trip went and if we got home safely. Now that is what I call service!!!!
Last Sunday was a beautiful day to be in Central Park. After several hours here are some things we discovered people do in the park: in line skating to music on a basketball court, a young man was deep into painting a table scene he had created in a grassy section, a lovely lake for boating, an outdoor stadium, an observation tower, walking paths, rock climbing, playing basketball, walking dogs, pushing strollers and The Metropolitan Museum of Art which was a nearby site not to miss. We really needed more time there.
We decided New York must have the most concentrated number of restaurants than any other city. They were everywhere but "Where were the bathrooms?" I know this can be a delicate subject for some but we were all over the city and Brooklyn and could never find public restrooms. Stores had signs: no public restrooms and if you went a restaurant or coffee shop you had to be a paying customer and then there was only ONE bathroom and a line. It was a real mystery to us with all the New Yorkers and tourists, "Where do they all go for bathrooms/restrooms?"
On our last night we went to Cirque du Solieil's performance Zarkana (its an acrobatic rock opera) at Radio City. We waited in early afternoon for two hours to get half price tickets but well worth the wait. Especially when our seats were only 16 rows back and and we got a glimpse of the real Donald Trump and his family as they were leaving the performance. If only my sister had been with us to see him since she is an avid Celebrity Apprentice fan.
This NYC trip was quite an adventure but like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz says, "There is no place like home."

My next posting will have 4 cupcake decorating ideas and some answers to the question from a Caribou Coffee Shop What are some things you stay awake for?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Things to Make You Pause




As we power packed the sights of Brooklyn and Manhattan into the next four days there were several moments where we paused to... ponder, reflect, question, wonder and plain be scared.
Viewing Ground Zero was quite a somber experience. It was amazing with all the rubble that came down from the twin towers St. Paul's Church (it is right across the street) managed to remain intact. This church offered a safe haven for workers and volunteers and a place for healing for loved ones who had lost family members and friends after September 11. Memorabilia, pictures, memorials and displays greet visitors as they enter the church. I posted some pictures of things we saw inside and outside and how much has been done on the new tower being erected. When completed it will be 76 stories high. There will be two memorial pools surrounded by flat stones with names of all those whose lives were lost.
Walking the streets of NYC was an exhilarating but daunting experience. Never assume all people speak your language and can help you with directions. Also move about in a cautious manner since bicyclists and taxi cabs do not heed pedestrian traffic. Some signs are quite strange and I posted one about a $350.00 fine for honking. Probably the most eye opening one for me was the amount of garbage and I mean garbage! Bags are piled everywhere even in nice areas of the city and there are few trash cans around. Supposedly we heard the city thinks trash cans are an eyesore. Let me tell you this is way worse. Which brings me to the really scary part. Since so much garbage is out rats are a huge problem. And we had a very close encounter. It was early evening and we had just walked the Brooklyn bridge and it was a 20 minute walk back to hotel. As we passed by piles of garbage bags near the curb my sister screams and then my daughter. A rat ran right past them and it was a really big one. Today on the Internet there was an article about this huge rat that was killed yesterday in Brooklyn with a pitchfork!!! Follow this link to read more and see the picture. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/giant-rat-at-brooklyns-ma_n_937316.html
The Top of The Rock refers to the top of Rockefeller Center. This was definitely a highlight for us since the panoramic views of the city were breathtaking.
A few blogs back I mentioned Donald Trump and a Minneapolis call from a NYC taxi cab and Broadway. I will wrap up our NYC trip with details in next blog plus some fun ideas to do in Central Park on a summer day.
I am thinking we picked just the right time to leave the city with Hurricane Irene fast approaching which means evacuations and cancelled flights.

Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. orzo cooked and drained
  • 1 diced red and yellow pepper
  • ½ cup green onion
  • cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ diced cucumber
  • 1-cup olives (pitted)
  • ½ cup pine nuts (toasted)
  • ½ small bag spinach leaves (stems removed)
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

Prepared Greek dressing-I used one from the chain restaurant Its Greek To Me

Directions:

  • Mix orzo, peppers, onion, olives, feta, pine nuts, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Add enough dressing to moisten the salad mixture
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Navigating the NYC Scene




Several New York guide books I checked out from the library could not possibly prepare us for the New York/Brooklyn scene. My siblings, daughter and I had come for our niece's Brooklyn wedding. Upon arrival we soon learned safety would not be an issue at this hotel. We were situated right across the street from the Brooklyn New York Police Station. Each morning as we sat at the breakfast bar enjoying our food we were fascinated by all the NYPD cars coming and going from the station. But it was the NYPD vans entering the garage with full loads of passengers that caught our attention. Up and down that garage door went all day and night.
In addition to this unusual hotel viewing each day we look forward to the serving of brookies. We had to be patient since they were not served till 10:30 AM. The smell of brookies, aka homemade chocolate chip cookies, were worth the wait.
On day one we wasted no time getting on a harbor cruise of Manhattan before the late after noon wedding. The views of Manhattan were incredible from the water.
In an earlier blog I wrote that the bride to be is a freelance puppeteer and the groom is a musician who writes his own music, sings and records albums. Our expectations for a creative unusual evening were high! So when I first glimpsed my brother-in law's tie I knew he was already in the creative mode. I posted a picture of his tie which shows a series of snapshot pictures of the bride and groom taken at another wedding a few years back.
The wedding was at DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) Loft. It is a building under the bridge in a warehouse type district surrounded by cobblestone streets. Check out large white puppet that greeted guests outside the loft. During the wedding the bride and groom replaced the traditional unity ceremony with a science type project. A cart on wheels was rolled out holding a volcano-think 5th grade science class. The volcano was sprinkled heavily with baking soda. Then the bride poured out of a champagne flute Minnesota vinegar while the groom poured his New York vinegar into the volcano. The vinegars made the volcano erupt as a symbolic gesture of the couple becoming one.
After the wedding two people carried a 6 foot sign that said JUST MARRIED sign out of the building. All the guests walked behind the sign three blocks to the park under the bridge to watch pictures being taken.
During the wedding reception the bride's puppeteer's friends put on a show. Each puppet was made to the likeness of the bride and groom. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that at each table there were an assortment of finger puppets for the guests to enjoy and put on their own show if so moved.
The centerpieces had a Go Green twist. Since the bride had worked in Norway for a few months she had collected used blue glass water bottles. The bottles were turned into vases for flowers. Next to the vases large used tin cans held an arrangement of homegrown spices such a thyme and oregano and lavender.
Well what could top an evening such as this? Nothing but the magnificent view from the Top of The Rock comes in as a second. Photos of the 360 panoramic views of the city will be posted in the next NYC installment as well as a versatile Orzo salad recipe with cupcake decorating ideas even a non baker can manage.
The rest of the photos are posted on the side bar.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYC By the Numbers




My five day NYC adventure trip update will be posted in several installments. It began with a wedding and ended with Earthquake shocks, seeing Donald Trump and his family at a Radio City Music Hall performance and a NY phone call from a taxi cab driver when we returned to Minneapolis. (More details to follow on that piece)
But first By The Numbers Trivia for a little background.
  • If you want to set a new Guinness World Record you must go to all 468 subway stops get your ticket stamped and do this in less than 24 hours to beat the record.
  • There are five boroughs that make up NYC: Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. Brooklyn is where we stayed the most populated with two and a half million people.
  • The cost per square feet for new World Trade Center (76 stories high) and memorial is $1,000. It is so expensive because all the materials have to be bullet proof. The taxpayers of New York and New Jersey are paying for it because no one else will underwrite it. Mainly because they expect it to be a possible target again.
  • There is one hotel specifically for dogs called The Fetch Club Hotel. Did you see the movie Hotel for Dogs? That might give you an idea. There are rooms, boutiques, a salon, spa and restaurants. I wonder if I should mention this to Bella?http://www.fetchclub.com/
  • Annually over a million people walk or bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. It took 16 years to build and once was the largest. It was the first bridge to be constructed of steel. The bridge is popular tourist site for pictures and selling T shirts that say I Walked The Brooklyn Bridge, variety of vendors and artists. One day we even walked it twice once into Manhattan in the morning and then a return trip back to Brooklyn 10 hours later.
  • Central Park is 843 acres of rolling countryside right in the middle of the city.
  • It can be up to a two hour wait at the discounted ticket booth for half price discounts in Times Square for an evening performance.
Tomorrow's blog will include details and pictures from one of the most creative unusual weddings I have attended, a glimpse of a NYP Brooklyn Station, Manhattan boat tour and a wedding brunch salad recipe.


Monday, August 22, 2011

NYC Update

Please check back on Wed since I have not had my own computer to update you on this amazing NYC adventure. The wedding in itself was the most over the top creative wedding event I have been to plus being a NYC tourist has presented itself with a whole new set of tales for this Midwesterner. Today was a huge highlight walking the most traveled pedestrian bridge in US the Brooklyn Bridge. There are over 5,000 people a day who walk it. The city sights approaching Manhattan are incredible. I wore out my 400 plus photo memory card.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

NYC 101


As for New York City
it is a place apart.
There is not its match
in any other country
in the world.
Pearl S . Buck

This weekend I will be in New York for a family wedding. And yes I have a camera to capture all the sights to share on this blog. The bride-to-be is a puppeteer with a traveling theater company. I have been told that several of her colleagues will be performing at the reception. Should be an interesting event.
The anticipation of a new place to explore is half the fun. In my research I found out that New York City is all about the numbers.
The city is divided into 5 bouroughs-the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan.
Some 70 languages are spoken.
There are 26 subway routes.
Some 30,000,000 yearly visitors to Central Park.
And there are 50 skyscrapers taller than 656 feet.
I look forward to sharing my adventures with you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ultimate Summertime Dessert



The featured dessert in Southern Living August 2011 Mint Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Cake had me salivating and wanting to try it immediately. The photo is to the left and what a beautiful looking dessert it is. The link to the recipe is...
The practical part of me thought wow this is such an enormous cake for two people. Perhaps I should save the recipe for a special occasion where there are many people to enjoy it . After carefully dissecting the recipe I thought of way to make it more manageable and still have the same flavor. See what you think of my idea and maybe you will find it helpful.
Modified Mint Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Cake
Ingredients:
Make Devil's Food Cake Batter (recipe below) or use a prepared Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
Directions:
  • Mix butter and sugar beat until creamy
  • Add egg beating just till well blended
  • Beat in vanilla
  • Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda
  • Add to butter mixture alternately with coffee, beat until well blended
  • Stir in vinegar
  • Bake in 2 greased cake pans at 350 check at 15 minutes
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes-invert to cool on a wire rack
  • Freeze one cake layer for another time
Chocolate Ganache
Microwave 1- 4 0z. baking chocolate bar chopped and 4 TB. whipping cream for a minute stirring at 30 second intervals
Stir in 2 TB. Kahlua-may need additional cream for right consistency
To Serve
On top of one cake slice add one scoop mint chocolate chip ice- cream-drizzle ganache over the top of ice-cream scoop
But if you are feeling adventuresome and have the right occasion follow the link for the complete recipe

If you are looking for a movie recommend put The Help on your list. It is a wonderful adaptation and very faithful to the book. The acting was superb. Warning:There are many painful but poignant moments throughout the movie you will need Kleenex!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Underappreciated Veggie:Peas




I always eat my peas with honey,
I've done it all my life
They do taste kind of funny
but it keeps them on my knife.
Anonymous
old Bostonian rhyme, a jump rope rhyme

As their savory odor drifts upward
a dreamy look will overspread your
countenance, and as you taste their
rare succulence, their yielding
tenderness, their glorious just off-the-vine
flavor, a feeling of blissful satisfaction
will literally permeate you.
This is an advertisement for frozen peas from
The New Yorker 1936

Fairly late into the 17th century Europeans started eating peas fresh. They were a delicacy and became very fashionable. When colonists arrived in America peas were one of the first crops to be planted. Peas are a cool season crop and there are many varieties which include snow peas, snap peas and green peas. They are a nutritious vegetable but often underappreciated. This is especially noticeable when left behind on the plate after a meal!

Green Pea and Potato Salad
Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. red skinned potatoes, peeled, cut and cubed
  • 2 cups fresh peas or frozen peas
  • 1 red onion-diced
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup light Ranch dressing (prepared bottled0
  • 1/3 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TB. dill weed (dry)
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs cut up
  • 2 tsp. prepared mustard
Directions:
  • Put potatoes in a large saucepan cover with water
  • Add 1 tsp. salt bring to boil-then cover and cook 15-20 minutes
  • Drain
  • In a large bowl mix Miracle Whip and Dressing
  • Add mustard and all spices
  • Add carrots, eggs, potatoes, celery, peas and onion
  • May need to make more dressing using 1/2 to 1/3
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours

Sunday, August 14, 2011

City Fix


Find something you're passionate about
and keep tremendously interested in it.
Julia Child

The World According to Bella
"Hey Bella, where have you been?"
" I missed you"
"My run has not been the same since you left."
"Wow, you look in good shape!"
"How come your fur looks so light?"
I have to say I caused quite a stir at the dog park yesterday not having been there in several months. And boy, have I ever missed my buddies. I'm really a dog who likes to hang out with a crowd. And yes I have to admit the lake well... just sometimes... it gets a bit lonely without my buddies' company.
You should have seen me run, run, and run just like a greyhound at a race track around the dog path. It seemed like old home week meeting up with the crowd. After running at what some thought a breathtaking speed I managed to slow down a bit to answer all their questions.
We all met up at the water bowls near the big oak tree so they could hear the juicy details of my most recent adventures. Some had already heard about my porcupine encounter. Even Mulligan who usually likes to be top dog of the pack mellowed out a bit to hear my tales. He seemed a little jealous of all the boat rides I get.
Jake, an Irish Setter and probably one of my best friends, wondered how my coat got so light. He thought I must be spending a lot of time sunning on the dock.
I did not want to leave but with the day getting warm and not much shade I bid all my friends good-bye with a promise to return soon.
Upon returning home one of my people had just finishing making one of my favorite snacks.
___________________________________________________
Puppy Chow
A People Snack
Ingredients:
  • 9 cups Chex mix- any kind
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
Directions:
  • Microwave chips, peanut butter, butter or margarine for 1 minute
  • Stir till smooth- add vanilla
  • Measure out Chex mix and coat with chocolate mixture-it may be necessary to put on gloves using hands to evenly coat the cereal (try using plastic sandwich bags for gloves)
  • In a large zip-lock bag add powdered sugar and chocolate cereal mixture, shake bags several times till all cereal is coated
  • Spread out on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper for a short while before placing in a serving bowl.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can Do



Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."
Mary Anne Radmacher

You must do the things you think
you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

I could not help but think about this Rosie Riveter icon poster from World War II days when having a recent conversation with this young woman. She is a single parent raising two young children with full time job and pursuing an advanced degree. She even finds time in her schedule to train for an upcoming Triathlon. So I was not the least surprised when I heard she made a cross country driving trip to a a family event with her children and another young mom and her three children.
This can do attitude was embraced by the women who during the war days went to work while the men were off at war. Many of these women worked in manufacturing plants that produced ammunition and war supplies.
The term Rosie The Riveter was first used in 1942 in a song of the same name. It became a national hit. The song portrays "Rosie" as a tireless assembly line worker, doing her part to help the American war effort.
American singer Pink does a homage of Rosie in her 2010 Raise Your Glass video for her greatest hits album.
Check out this new book My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. It is a memoir based on the author's year long experiences trying to follow Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "Do one thing every day that scares you."
So whenever life presents you with time crunches/challenges try adopting the Can Do attitude!
Maybe even find time to try a new recipe.
Spring Brunch Bake
adapted from Pillsbury Breakfast and Brunch Made Easy
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tb. butter
  • 1 medium leek, rinsed, quartered and sliced about 2 cups
  • 8 oz. fresh asparagus spears into into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 cups southern-style diced hash browns from a 32 oz. bag
  • 1 small jar (7 oz.) drained roasted red pepper
  • mushrooms 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese grated
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
Directions:
  • Grease a 13 x 9 pan
  • Mix two cheeses
  • Melt butter in fry pan and cook leek, onions, mushrooms and asparagus about 5 minutes
  • Add potatoes, roasted peppers, salt, spices
  • Spoon into baking dish
  • In a blender add half and half, eggs and 1 tsp. dry mustard and 1 cup of the cheese mixture
  • Pour over vegetables, add remaining cheeses on top
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight
  • Bake covered 45 minutes 350, uncover and bake 20 minutes or until set
  • Let stand 10 minutes before cutting




Monday, August 8, 2011

Loon Baby


Last spring I participated in Children's Lit Conference at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. At that time Molly Beth Griffin presented her newly released book Loon Baby. It is a sweet book for the preschooler audience about being lost and found again. The sparse text coveys a range of emotions from the playfulness of the baby loon to the terror realizing mother has disappeared from her sight. The readers are reassured about safety and warmth of a mother's love at the end of story. The watercolor illustrations that show a serene lake-scape really compliment the text. Sunday's blog about my loon census experience made me think of her book.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Counting... 1,2, 3...




In the middle of the night,as indeed,
each time that we lay on the shore of the lake,
we heard the voice of the loon, loud and distinct
from far over the lake .
It is a very wild sound, quite in keeping
with the place and the circumstances of the traveler
and very unlike the voice of the bird.
I could lay awake for hours listening to it,
it is so thrilling.
Henry David Thoreau

A convention of 15 loons recently clustered noisily around our dock. With all the chatter and a variety of calls heard it seemed they must be in heavy discussion about their upcoming early fall flight down to the gulf. But where were all 15 when we got out on the water today? Our mission was to count loons for the Lake Association census. This can be a challenging assignment since those crazy loons just do not stay put!! Some dive under water playing hide and seek just as you get close and others decide to take flight. But after a bit of discussion we decided on 12 for this section of the lake.
Listening to the loons is part of the Up North experience. Loons communicate among themselves using a variety of calls and visual displays. A loon uses a tremolo call also referred to as the laugh. It is a multi-purpose call to indicate alarm, annoyance or greeting. The wail call is like a wolf call and used to locate a lost chick or mate. The yodel call is a signature call made only by males. It is an aggressive call used during border disputes and to maintain territory. A hoot call is when adult loons maintain contact with chicks or family groups. It is used reserved just for the males and is a territorial call.
I have been practicing all four calls using my new gift. It is a unique instrument called a Loon Flute. It is designed to generate the tones that duplicate the four primary calls. My skills are improving and I am almost ready to head out to the dock play a few tunes and see what happens.

click on each photo for a better close up view

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Sale of Many Names





Depending where you live a sale of second-hand items/goods can be called by many names such as yard, tag or garage sale. Up North garage sales are just as big of a deal as in the city. Huge ads are taken out in local papers. Fridays and Saturdays in the summer can be serious shopping days for those into scouring sales looking for that incredible deal or just the right discarded treasure.
I have only 4 garage sales under my belt hardly enough to call me seasoned but enough to be able to pass along some random thoughts on garage sales. I found the link below helpful if thinking about hosting a garage/tag/yard sale.
http://www.garagesalesource.com/articles/planning_garage_sale/
14 Bits of Wisdom From A Recent Garage Sale
1. Do your homework...its all about preparation (set-up)
Items should be color coded, visibly marked,well displayed and creatively arranged
2. Pricing can be painful! Consider having a trusted friend help you arrive at a price
3. Start out with $ 75.00 (small bills and change) for your cash box
4. Use a notebook and after each sold item place sticker on the page of the seller
5. It's all about marketing-place visible signs on road, end of driveway and ads in local newspaper and on Craigslist
6. Location, location, location-consider having a multi-neighborhood garage sale as it will be a bigger draw for people
7. Team up with a friend or family member-makes the day so much more enjoyable
8. Be ready to slash prices on last day of sale
9. Beware: holiday items are not big sellers in summertime heat
10. Consider selling bottled water or pop on a warm day
11. Place kid items up front usually best sellers
12. DO NOT OPEN your garage sale before the designated time since early birds are right outside your door ready to pounce on an early bargain
13. Avoid my recent pitfall (even though I am thrilled to have gotten a RAVE Bongo) buying a big ticket item the night before the sale so I started out in the red
14. Having coffee and a variety of treats to nourish the soul for the workers

The following recipes would be well received at a garage sale. Note the treats are for the sellers to keep their spirits up throughout the day
Lemon Blueberry Bars
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1- 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2-3 TB. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
Directions:
  • In a large bowl beat butter and margarine till smooth
  • Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla
  • Blend in 2 cups flour and 1tsp. cinnamon
  • Mixture will be soft and crumbly press into bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan
  • Bake 350 15 minutes
  • In a small bowl combine eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest, 1/4 cup flour, baking powder about 2 minutes
  • Sprinkle berries over warm crust
  • Pour filling evenly over berries with a spoon
  • Bake till set 30 minutes, cool and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight
  • To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar , cut into bars
Praline Pull Apart Rolls
adapted from Southern Living 2009
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon divided
  • 1- 2 lb. package frozen bread roll dough( I used Rhodes White Dinner Rolls)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
Directions:
  • Stir sugar and 3 tsp. cinnamon- coat each roll in butter, dredge each roll in cinnamon sugar
  • Arrange in a lightly greased 10 inch tube pan
  • Sprinkle with pecans and cover
  • Chill overnight
  • Preheat oven 325
  • Beat whipping cream till soft peaks, stir in brown sugar and remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pour mixture over dough
  • Place pan on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet
  • Bake 325 for 1 hour cool on a wire rack invert onto a serving plate-drizzle any remaining glaze on top
Note: Don't skip part about whipping the cream and this is a very easy no fuss recipe




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The World According To Bella



written by Bella, the blogging lab
No doubt you have been wondering what recent adventures I have been up to; well wonder no more. I have been keeping quite busy on yard and lake patrol. After my high speed chase to capture a bunny who invaded my space I have been spending more of my energies on water patrol. It all started with this species called turtle. Now not knowing what it was certainly made me very curious who this creature was up to in my driveway. Perhaps I shouldn't have gotten so close when this thing they called turtle had some nerve and attempted to nip at my nose. I backed off and began to call in for some extra help by insistent barking. Thankfully, one of my people got the hint and came to my rescue. The turtle was then deposited into the water and that should be the end of my story. But it wasn't!
I spent quite some time pacing the dock peering into the water hoping to see it resurface. I did see several fish swim by but no turtle. Getting a bit bored I decided to wait it out sitting in a grassy area nearby. Soon a mother duck with several babies came into view and I seized my chance. Dove into the water at record speed. Well all that the squawking, quacking, tufts of feathers flying in the air sent the family furiously out into deeper water. Doing my best dog paddle I swam but soon tired since they were out of my paw's reach. This did not seem fair!
So I dog paddled back to shore and decided to continue my vigil but this time on the dock. My determination finally paid off. Seeing several tiny fish swim by I seized my chance again jumped into the shallow water and BINGO gulped that little fish right down. Finally my water patrol duty had paid off!!!
Remember my beach adventures in Florida? I can be fast when I need to be.

Be yourself,
everyone else is taken.
by Oscar Wilde
________________________________________________________

Recently I came across this link: The Splendid Table. It is public radio's culinary, culture and life style link that features recipes, episodes you can download, wine tips and even a store for online shopping. The following blog came to me online with a recipe that I thought looked quite good AND best part requires no stove to heat up the kitchen.

Weeknight Kitchen®: Inspiration for Real Midweek Meals from The Splendid Table™
Recipe: Santa Fe Summer Pot with Avocado and Shrimp
August 3, 2011
Copyright © 2011 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All Rights Reserved

Dear Friends,

We all keep making certain recipes because they speak to us in special ways. This, for me, is summer in New Mexico. Cool, and hot, and primal. The food's intense there so you have flashy colors and vivid, raw tastes, smooth and crunchy.
On the pragmatic side, it's a cool stew you do with what you pick up at the market on the way home from work. And you never need turn on the stove.

Have a great week. Stay cool.

Lynne

Santa Fe Summer Pot with Avocado and Shrimp
From The Splendid Table's® How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift
(Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by American Public Media.

Serves 4

10 minutes prep time; no stove time
This can wait, chilled, for 30 to 40 minutes

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon spice: blend of ground coriander, ground cumin, and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds ripe delicious tomatoes, coarsely chopped (do not peel); or one 28-ounce
can whole peeled tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh coriander
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 pound cooked, peeled shrimp, or firm tofu or leftover poultry (organic if possible,
diced)
Handful tortilla chips, lightly crushed
2 limes, each cut into 8 wedges

1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and spice blend. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Place the tomatoes and coriander sprigs into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is chunky. Add the onion mixture, and pulse five times.

3. Divide the cucumber, avocado, and shrimp among four bowls. Spoon the tomato blend into the bowls. Garnish with the crushed tortilla chips and lime wedges.