“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.”
- Francis Bacon

Saturday, February 14, 2009

♥Follow me into my pretty, pink potty on this Valentine's Pink Saturday♥

Not only do we have PINK SATURDAY, hosted by the gracious Beverly at HOW SWEET THE SOUND, it is Valentine's Day. Now, I suppose I could have filled this blog entry with oodles of Valentine goodies, and you know, I had thought about that, I really did. But, now don't take this personally...anyone...today I bring to you a few of the items I see each morning while I am brushing my teeth in the powder room on the first floor of my home. (I don't go back upstairs to do my morning ritual because the dogs are outside by now, the cats are meowing for their breakfast and, well, I'm a little lazy!) So, folks, here ya go...my bathroom decor. At least a little part of it. I'm sure you'll see more when we celebrate additional PINK SATURDAYS with Beverly.

I remember seeing this little bank a few years ago as I was browsing the aisle at Goodwill Industries. Every now and then our local store will offer some new items that are too cute for words. I just couldn't resist making this pink potty mine. There are times when I find something that's pink and I leave it on the shelf, but not this time! Not only cute and sweet, it holds a message that all of us can relate to...and, I actually use it as you can see. (Note to self: Save more money for a rainy day!) Now more than ever, I'm going to need this little gem to squirrel away my loose change. A penny saved is a penny earned.

One of the joys of my life is to make people happy and to bring a smile to their face, especially when they least expect it. I also like to add a little whimsy here and there throughout my home. It's no fun to be serious all the time. There was a time, when I was raising my sons, that I needed to be a grown-up. Now that Dave and Jeff are men with families of their own, I can forget that "act" of mine and let the real me shine through. When I saw this little shelf-sitter, it was another of those instances when I couldn't open my wallet fast enough to pay for it. I love this little goodie, just love it. It sits on the back of the toilet and is the first thing you see, other than the commode, that greets you as you walk into the powder room on the first floor. Peek-a-boo, I see you!

OK, ok, I admit it, I'm including a Valentine decoration that I bought this year. But, because pink is MY color, this darling heart wreath will remain out all year long. Easter and Valentine's Day, two holidays after my sweet, little decorating heart! I actually have three of these hearts. I read somewhere that you should always decorate in odd numbers. I wanted more than one, so it was mandatory that I have three.

Just as I was about to end my afternoon as a photo-journalist, Freyja walked up with the adorable, pink doggy that Santa put in her stocking this past Christmas. (Please notice how clean it is and how it has no holes.) Isn't Miss Freyja a good mommy to her stuffie-babies? I am so proud of my little lady. I just love the smile on this toy of hers. How in the world can you look at it and not break into a grin, yourself? I almost nabbed this toy to add to the collection on my bed, but what kind of a dog-mom would I be if I stole from my own pooch! Horrors!

♥Happy Valentine's Day, everyone♥

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Little Grands, Little Hands, Big on Love, my Valentine's Day plans...

Tomorrow evening I will be spending the night with three, young and handsome little men...my grandsons Joe (11), Ben (8) and Josh (4). Their mom and dad, my son and his wife, will have the evening to themselves to spend some quality time together for Valentine's Day and I will have some special time with three young men who have become the center of my life from the moment each of them made his entrance into this big world of ours.

Usually we just watch a movie, eat popcorn, giggle, play games, put together a few puzzles, play with the cats and dogs and fall into bed exhausted. Well, the exhausted part is me...but don't tell. However, if a holiday is involved, or just around the corner, their Mimi puts a little more effort into the sleep-over. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd share with you moms and grandmas our agenda for the evening and next morning.

Today I'll be baking some Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies (recipe at end of this blog) because after all, you just must have cookies and milk when you are at Mimi's house, you just must! The cookies are quick, easy and always please little eaters as well as the big one's, too! These cookies keep very well, that is, if you have them for any length of time, which has never happened to me.

After the boys arrive and have settled down, we will dine on sloppy Joes, chips, applesauce garnished with little, red cinnamon hearts and strawberry milkshakes. After our delightful meal dotted with a few giggles and laughs, we will clean off the kitchen table, making room for the craft supplies we will need for the evening.

We'll be making a bouquet of paper roses to give to mommy. I found the directions at Grandparents.com. I love that place for finding fun things to make when I'm in a pinch for ideas or even when I'm not in a pinch! The crafts are always easy for little hands to manage and the supplies for most items are inexpensive and can be found in most variety stores. The easy directions for our roses are included here just in case you don't feel like traveling the web and want to stay home "at the blog" tonight!

In the morning we'll munch on cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven with a side of strawberry milk to wash them down. Our breakfast will tide my handsome gentlemen over until Sunday brunch at home. The boys will dress in their Sunday clothes packed by Mom so they will be all set for Dad to pick them up on the way to church services.

I will make beds, toss a little laundry into the washer, clean the kitchen and leave for church. On the way I'll reflect on all of my blessings and consider myself to be one of the happiest and luckiest Mimi's in all the world.

Grandma's Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
This is a great recipe for a classic oatmeal raisin cookie. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and thoroughly studded with plump, juicy raisins. These are cookies that won't disappoint.
1 stick butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350º.
In your KitchenAid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. In a small bowl, combine the egg, vanilla and milk, whisk together until smooth. Add the combined wet ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix together until well incorporated.
In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the combined creamed and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined.
Shape dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each. Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Place cookies on wire racks to cool.
Tissue Paper Roses (easy for little hands to make)

  • Package of red tissue paper
  • Other red paper, fabric or plastic (optional)
  • Straight, thin sticks or dowels (for the stems)
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Vase
  1. Cut the tissue paper, or other paper, fabric or plastic into long strips, between 2 and 3 inches wide, and 12 to 18 inches long.
  2. Put the strips into piles of three or four.
  3. Take one pile and loosely roll it up as you would a roll of string.
  4. When the pile is rolled, take a stick or dowel, and place it about an inch inside one end of the rolled paper.
  5. Pinch the end with the stick together (a combination of pinching, folding, and twisting works well).
  6. Take a piece of clear tape (about 3 inches long) and wrap it very tightly around the pinched end. This should be tight enough to hold both the paper and stick in place.
  7. The other end of the paper roll most likely has a cone shape, where the center is longer than the outside layers. Take your scissors and cut the paper straight across, so all the layers are even.
  8. "Fluff” your rose a bit — if your pinching folded it to much, stick your finger inside the paper and wiggle it around, puffing it up a little.
  9. Put this rose in the vase, and repeat steps 1 through 8 until you have a full vase of roses.
  10. Cut your sticks or dowels different lengths to make a fuller looking arrangement. Also vary the tightness of your rolls. This will make slightly different-sized roses for a more natural look.
  11. Place the full vase on a table for the perfect Valentine’s Day decor.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Finishing a long, put-off task, The Family Recipe Book

Have you ever had something on your mind for a while...you write it down, forget it, and then remember what you needed to do at the most inappropriate time, like when you are in the middle of traffic? Well, what you see is my little project that has been haunting me for months and months. Both of my sons asked me ages ago to take all of my recipes and those of both their grandmother's to make a book for them. I kept putting it off because I knew it would be a monumental task, one that would take maybe a whole morning. I guess there are some things that we aren't supposed to know because just the scanning took me from about 10 in the morning until just after the local news around 6:30 that evening.

I had plenty of assistance, as you can see, from my kitty Camille Suzanne. She would sit on the scanner to keep it warmed up for my use. Camille would also play with recipe cards and those tiny snippets that I cut out eons ago from the Lifestyle section of my local paper. I can't imagine doing the job without her able and encouraging expertise.

So, the scanning is finished. I am happy. Camille is taking a nap. After all she worked all day long so she needs her beauty sleep. Tomorrow I'll pull up each scan page (8.5" by 11") on my computer to add dialogue to some of the recipes so the boys will have a little history to go along with the various dishes. ("This was grandma's favorite recipe for onion soup", that kind of stuff.

There are several plastic sleeve protectors hanging around this house, probably in my office, that I'll use for the pages of recipes, which as it stands, appear to be about 50 double-sided per book with maybe 5-8 recipes each side. I still need to go shopping for the notebooks. I have something in mind and hope I'm able to locate what is rattling around in my head as "the perfect book".

My project is well on its way. The scanning is complete as far as I can tell. If anything was missed all I'll have to do is make another page that Jeff and Dave can add to the recipe books on their own. I can see now why they wanted me to do this for them because a lot of what is in my personal recipe supply I had gathered since they married. There would be no personal history for them to recall and no relevance to them. There was a request that I just scan leaving the originator's handwriting and side notes. Where did I get two son's that are so nostalgic?

My next project for the boys is to begin the genealogy searches that they've been wanting me to do, so they'll have their family history to show their children and their grandchildren. I've got the program for the task but like these books, I just keep shoving it aside. Shame on me, spring is just around the corner, so I'd better get on the ball and take that task to hand as well. Because once the weather warms, I'm not in the house much. You'll find me sitting on the ground, playing in dirt, happy as all get-out, because I'll be spending time with my friends the flowers!

Here's one of my favorites. I adored Tirimisu from the moment it hit my lips...YUM!

  • 6 ounces container mascarpone cheese
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Chocolate Zabaglione, recipe follows
  • 2 1/2 cups espresso coffee, warmed
  • 24 crisp ladyfinger cookies (recommended: Savoiardi)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for garnish
  • Dark chocolate shavings, for garnish

Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Then fold in the chilled Chocolate Zabaglione. Cover and refrigerate.

Whisk the warmed espresso and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in another medium bowl until blended. Line a 9 1/4 by 5 by 2 3/4-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to extend over the sides. Working with 1 cookie at a time, dip 8 cookies into the espresso, and arrange in a single layer side by side over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spoon 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies to cover. Repeat dipping 8 of the cookies in the espresso and layering the cookies and remaining mascarpone mixture 2 more times. Dip the remaining 8 cookies in the espresso and arrange side by side atop the tiramisu. Press lightly to compact slightly (the last layer will extend above the pan sides). Cover the tiramisu with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Unwrap the plastic from atop the tiramisu. Invert the tiramisu onto a platter. Remove the plastic. Sift the cocoa over the tiramisu, and with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, make dark chocolate shavings and sprinkle over top.

Chocolate Zabaglione

2 tablespoons whipping cream, or heavy cream

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

4 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup dry Marsala

Pinch salt

Add cream and chocolate to a heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, and salt in a large glass bowl until blended. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture over the simmering water until it is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Using a large rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate to chill completely.

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