Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick Update

Um. Where to start.

Work. Work. Work. Work. That pretty much tells the story of Monday to Thursday.

Friday. Worked -- a little bit longer than planned, but still out of the office in time to run home, throw the dog and the food into the (already packed) car, drive back downtown to pick up Myfanwe, and make it Norbert's school by 2:30.

We arrive at Shell Cottage in late afternoon, and I immediately started mowing the lawn because I wanted to get it cut before it started raining. I got the front law mowed before the rain came down, and it rained the whole rest of the weekend, so I never got to finish the back. It's going to be a bear to mow next Friday.

We had chicken, onions, mushrooms and sweet potatoes roasted with white wine and rosemary for dinner. It was ok. Norbert loved it. The boy is ALL about the mushrooms.

Saturday I woke with a migraine. Lots of meds and an ice bag later it was manageable, and coffee helped keep it at bay for the rest of the day. Which was good, as I had a lot to do. The rain was nice, soothing, and I loved knowing that the roses were being watered by G-d. That way I don't have to tote buckets. (Have I failed to mention that this house has no spigot to take water to the outside? No. Really! None.)

Mitzi had an appointment with the vet in Three Oaks. Mitzi needed her rabies vaccine and she desperately needed to have her nails trimmed. (Click Click Click all through the house!) It's so much easier to walk her over to the vet in Three Oaks than to drive downtown and park. The vet in Three Oaks is a quiet, pleasant man and I really liked that he apologized to Mitzi when he stuck his thermometer up her Hoopdeedoo. I also liked that the bill was half as much as in Chicago. We will definitely be repeat customers.

After the vet, we decided that Mitzi stank and needed a bath, so we drove a few miles to the town of Bridgman, which has a do-it-yourself dog was and feed store. Plastic aprons donned, we proceeded to wash and condition, rinse and dry poor Mitzi. She is such a good dog. I'm sure if I'd been poked and pinched and stuck with a needle, had something stuck up my folderol and then been dunked in water, well, let's just say that I wouldn't be happy about it. Mitzi is, above all, forgiving.

Saturday night there was a hog roast at the American Legion hall, the proceeds of which benefit the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade. Flag Day in Three Oaks is a very, very big deal. If you were taking your ACT, the correct answer would be, "Flag Day is to Three Oaks as the Tournament of Roses is to Pasadena." Or possibly, "Flag Day is to Three Oaks as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans." It's part of the life force -- the spirit of the place.

Sunday I made my favorite coffee cake. In the cookbook put out by the Women's Axillary of the Three Oaks American Legion it is called the Walton's Mountain Coffee Cake. Paula Dean has a variation -- which is really just the Walton's Mountain recipe without the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. (And, to be totally honest, it is better with the cinnamon.) I also increase the nuts and mess with the brown sugar, so I guess this is MY version, and I'm going to call it the Three Oaks Coffee Cake.

Three Oaks Coffee Cake

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
  • 18 knobs of frozen white dinner roll dough
  • 1 pack (4 serving-size) NON-instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • Generously grease a 10 in fluted tube pan.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in the bottom of the pan.
  • Arrange the frozen dough balls on top of the pecans.
  • Sprinkle pudding mix over dough balls.
  • Sprinkle brown sugars and cinnamon over the pudding.
  • Sprinkle remaining nuts.
  • Drizzle with melted butter.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise on the counter for 8 to 10 hours or refrigerate for 12 to 24 hrs.
  • Uncover and bake 350 degree oven about 35 minutes or till top is golden brown.
  • Let cool 5 minutes before inverting coffee cake onto a good size serving tray.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I really love that all of the work occurs the night before. And I love the flavor. SO delicious. And, yes, I understand that there are some food snobs who will turn up their noses at a recipe that calls for pudding mix. Feh. This coffee cake is one of the best things I have ever made. And I now make it almost every week. It's that good.

Gotta run.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I've Been Really, Really Busy

But that is really no excuse.

I've been doing the job of two people. Well, except for the 7 weeks when I had help. But he got a better offer and his last day was Good Friday. So I'm back to the job of two people.

When not at work, I've been enjoying Shell Cottage every possible moment. We try to go three weekends out of the month. I've done quite a bit of gardening and can't wait for high season so I can see everything going wild and blooming! I've discovered an absolutely doesn't seem immense enough, but that's what we'll call it for now -- vine of wisteria growing through/over/in a spray of pine trees in the back yard.! My neighbor, DeeDee, says it is gorgeous in bloom.

One of the trees in the side yard is blooming! I don't know what kind of a tree it is, but it is beautiful!

The other tree in the side yard is the bottle tree. We are up to 12 bottles. Norbert gave me an early Fathers' Day present -- three unusual bottles, including red and yellow, which are unusual colors. You can just see the red bottle near the top of the pic above. DeeDee says the tree will bloom soon, as well, and that the blooms are white. If you have any weird bottles -- unusual colors, shapes, etc. -- send them to me! Nothing makes me quite as happy as adding another bottle to the tree.

We also have a shrub, above, blooming in the back yard. Again, I don't know what it is, but it is pretty.

As for the front yard, all of the raggedy bushes have been pulled, the roots dug up, and 6 hedge roses planted in their place. It looks like six twigs have been stuck in the ground, but give it two or three years and they will be spectacular with blooms of pinkish red. (And in the fall, brilliant orange hips!) This past weekend Myfanwe and I put down landscape fabric around the roses and then a good, thick layer of mulch.


I'm a little bitter about knitting, but trying to get past it.

I will not have the Cathedral Window Shawl finished in time for the State Fair. Early in the year I had scheduled to take a class at an LYS on knit-on lace edging, since it seems fairly difficult to learn from written instructions. But then, four days before the class, the LYS called, mortified, to say that the teacher's "scheduler" had inadvertently scheduled two events in two different states for the same day. The class was rescheduled, but -- such is my luck -- for a date I couldn't be there. So I'm going to have to put it on the back burner for a bit until I can find a teacher who can teach me.

I hated the Rose Leaf curtains (more than I can say) and ripped back almost to the beginning and decided to design my own using stitch patterns from books. It's only through one repeat and I already know I like it more.

More later. Please don't forget me!