Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some things that I've learned this week . . . . . . .

  1. I'm so glad to do another post so that I can move the food pictures from my last post further down the blog roll.  The more I look at them, the more I'm bothered by them - I really must learn to take better food pictures!
  2. If you cook up a German themed dinner for book group (in honor of this month's pick The Book Thief) your house will smell like sauerbraten for a week.
  3. When you go to a Flax Barn Sale, you will be in the company of hundreds of ecstatic and frenzied women, some of whom will be in varying stages of undress as they try clothes on right in the middle of the store. For the record - I kept my clothes on.
  4. Time spent in the company of family, friends and food is one of my life's greatest pleasures.

  5. While I'm happy for a little bit of "alone time" when my husband goes away on golf trips, I'm always so happy to have him come home.
  6. You may awake early one morning and discover that a spring storm has taken out several boughs of your lovely, nearly in full bloom, flowering crab in the front yard.

~The afternoon before~

~In the wee hours of the morning after~

     6.  And lastly - that I continue to enjoy music and musicians that I would probably never have      
         listened to if not for perusing other people's blogs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Without the curry, boiled rice can be very dull" ~ C. Northcote Parkinson

Following a rather long hiatus, BITE (But Is This Edible) met the other evening for the first time since December.  Two of our four members wintered elsewhere, so we just suspended things for a bit.  How nice it was to get together again!  Of course the food was the "reason", but just sitting around the table and catching up with each other and what is going on in our lives - just wonderful.  New jobs; family weddings on the horizon - all kinds of stuff!

Tierney chose our theme for this month, and we were all in agreement that Malaysia was a challenge - a good challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.  We continue to be amazed at how nicely the dishes that we choose (with no prior consultation) seem to work so well together.  We also agreed that we created a bit of a run on coconut milk!

One thing that I realize is that, while I'm pretty pleased with the wildlife pictures that I take, I really need to work on "people", "indoor shots", and "food".  I hope that you will see improvement in the future photos of these topics - I'm not thrilled with the quality of those below - they just don't come close to showing you how wonderful these dishes looked!

To begin our meal, Chris chose to make Fresh Spring Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Dip (Goi Cuon). These were so fresh tasting!  Just like eating spring!  The dipping sauce was the perfect accompaniment.  
Fresh Spring Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Dip (Goi Cuon)

Chris then outdid herself by also making Laksa Lemak Soup containing tofu, chicken and shrimp, in addition to rice vermicelli and an abundance of spices.  Fragrant and delicious!  I had the simplest task for our meal in choosing Lasi Lemak (Coconut Rice).  I even added some toasted coconut to it - which I was surprised that I liked as I tend to not be fond of the texture of coconut - it seemed to work wonderfully with this simple dish!

Our main dish was provided by Tierney.  Her Chicken Curry was just the right amount of spicy - and again - so fragrant!  Spooned over the rice made for a wonderful combination!  Lastly, Ellen made our dessert.  I think that we were all the most surprised by this dish.  Malayasian Banana Pancakes with Lemon Coconut Curd, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream was such a delightful combination of tart and sweet - so unexpected and so delicious.
Laksa Lemak SoupLasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)Chicken CurryMalayasian Banana Pancakes with Lemon Coconut Curd

So we are once again patting ourselves on the back for a meal well done!  I am in charge of choosing our theme for next month.  I haven't decided yet what it will be, but I'm sure that we will enjoy every minute and every bite!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sh*t Knitters Say

OK - Not my normally thought provoking quote (or perhaps it is!), but you should hear some of things that get said around the table at my local yarn store!  We crack each other up!  That's not to say that some serious conversation doesn't happen - whenever you get a group of women together, the conversation naturally drifts towards family - our children - our parents - our worries and our joys.  We support one another and are wonderful sounding boards.  However - our conversation just as naturally drifts towards things like - "I should never have had that glass of wine while I was working on this."  (more on that later) "Have you ever used a lifeline before?"  "What does p2tog-b mean?"  And then there is the debate over double-pointed needles versus circular.  The video below is just an example of some of the idiosyncrasies of knitters.  You may not be familiar with the lingo, but if you have a serious avocation, whether it be knitting or golf - just insert your lingo instead - you'll get it!

Now to knitting and drinking wine.  For the past several months, I have done mindless knitting - not that I have been unhappy with my projects (quite the contrary), but they have been the kind of mindless, effortless projects that have allowed me to knit, drink some wine, and solve the problems of the world all at the same time.  I recently began a project that does not permit me to multitask - I've tried and failed!  It's not that this is a difficult project, but after months of no concentration, I've really had to force myself to pay attention to what I'm doing!  Believe it or not, they make a wine glass for just this type of endeavor!
I am currently working on a bottom line project - I hope that I am done ripping it out and starting over   (which means I was able to go to the top line for awhile!) - I'll let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"To be admitted to Nature's hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain." ~ Henry David Thoreau

On a recent spring afternoon, I took a stroll around the Cortland Waterworks.  The Waterworks is a refuge of sorts - fenced in acres within the city limits.  It is home to dozens of deer and other wildlife.  I have been going to the Waterworks for as long as I can remember.  As a child, we would bring crusts of bread to feed the ducks, geese and fish - and the official start of the Christmas season was always when the lights went up at the main building and trees in front.  I shared the same childhood memories with my own child and now, as a long grown adult, I still eagerly await those Christmas lights just after Thanksgiving.

I don't actually walk around the Waterworks anymore the way that I did as a child or with a child of my own - though I drive past them several times a week - so it was especially nice to revisit them on this beautiful day and take a peek at what is right in our backyard.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." ~ Red Auerbach

There are many things that I have come to enjoy about checking out other people's blogs.  Each person writing for their own purpose - whether it be about cooking, finance, crafting - or what they are doing in retirement!  I often come away having learned something that I didn't know before.  I am inspired to read a new book, or to try a new recipe, or in many cases listen to music and singers that I have not heard before.  

Many of the blog writers that I frequent are considerably younger than I am - and hipper!  It is refreshing to see their take on life around them and what is "playing in their ear" so to speak.  I'm not sure that I would have stumbled on some of the artists below had I not taken time to see and hear what others see and hear.  It makes me feel younger!

It is entirely possible that not all of these songs (6 of them) will load if you receive this via e-mail.  If that is the case - please click here

Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri on Grooveshark The Cave by Mumford & Sons on Grooveshark Take Care by Beach House on Grooveshark Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy on Grooveshark The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson on Grooveshark The Story (Album Version) by Brandi Carlile on Grooveshark

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” ~ Tim Cahill

How nice for me that the journey to pick up my repaired sewing machine the other day was measured by the company of my friend Tierney!  We finally had the chance to catch up with each other and to drive through some some beautiful Finger Lakes scenery.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both." ~ Death, from "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

For the month of April, my book group chose to read The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  I will be hosting our discussion in a few weeks and just know that this book will prompt interesting conversation.

The Book Thief is another rendering of the days of World War II Germany and how the human spirit holds fast to the things that keep us human.  In this case, words become the means for soothing the soul -  but we also see them used for spreading hate in Hitler's Mein Kampf.  One of the more interesting and compelling aspects of this story is that the narrator is Death himself, and the reader comes to see him in a very different light. Death wishes that he did not have to interact with humans and their confusing capacities for great love and great evil, just as humans have always feared interacting with him.
Considered a "young-adult" book by the School Library JournalThe Book Thief is another example of the current cross-over of young-adult and adult literature, such as The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Series.  The School Library Journal provides this synopsis and review:

"Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when she's roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother's death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor's reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel's story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative." –Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA 

A movie adaptation of The Book Thief is currently in development, with Downton Abbey director Brian Percival being recently brought in as director.  Below, watch a brief interview with Markus Zusak during which he shares the inspiration for his story and how what was intended to be a novella went on to become a 500+ page novel - a novel that will bring you tears, but will ultimately console with you the power of the human spirit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?" ~ Satchel Paige

When I first thought of writing a blog, I had some real insecurities about how to go about it and how it would be received.  Would anyone really be in the least bit interested in anything that I had to say?  I told a friend of mine that I kept expecting that someone would say "Who does she think she's kidding?" I guess that regardless of our ages - when we try something new, and put ourselves out there, there is a degree of anxiety that goes along with it it.  I think that I have pretty much overcome those "first day of school" fears, and have begun to really enjoy the process.  I love carting my camera around with me and snapping photos of things that I enjoy, and that I think readers will enjoy as well.  Usually, a blog topic just comes to mind, but on occasion, I do wonder what to write about next.  This is when I take a gander at what other bloggers are writing about - what inspires them, and does it inspire me as well.

It was in perusing other blogs that I came across the video clip below, from A Butterfly in My Hair. Inspiring is indeed the best word to describe it - and calming, and uplifting. It is about Maia, who is a 95 year old Russian ballet dancer.  You will feel good just watching it - I promise.

(If video does not come through via email - CLICK HERE)