Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." ~ Oprah Winfrey

As this posts, we should be pulling into our winter home. I admit to feeling a bit torn. It seems that we are finally beginning to settle into our new northern home (mostly) and now we turn around and leave it. I know that all torn feelings will be set aside once we walk through our condo door and see all of our Florida friends. I will say it again, I know how lucky I am to have such a dilemma!

I know that this is the season for setting new goals, and I am always game. This year however, I intend to focus on more practical ones. 

*Empty our remaining storage unit (yes we will!)

*Migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress (I hope) I cannot compose on my iPad with Blogger (not even my new one) and my laptop (which I currently compose on) is on it's last leg. I can compose with WordPress on my new iPad however, so I hope to successfully move my blog to this. I'm not sure how that will happen, but I'm going to try!

*Continue to use Bullet Journaling begun earlier this year - I'm not super organized, but I am definitely getting a better handle on things!

*Watch and read a little less news.

*To not remain quiet.

And of course, I hope to spend more time with loved ones; improve my eating habits and health; read more; and knit more.

I think that my most important goal however is to recognize that while we live in tumultuous times, I will have faith that good will prevail. 

I wish you each the Happiest of New Year's!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ~Charles Dickens

Christmas is upon us🎄and the first in our new home. I admit that I miss those big family gatherings that we had in years past. Lots of food and family and singing, and more food! I know that things change though. Children grow and move away, and now we travel to see them rather than the other way around. 

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, I wish you the happiest yet. Merry Christmas!🎄 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Let it Snow" Let it Snow! Let it Snow" ~ Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne

Winter has finally arrived with a vengeance, and "since I've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

I know that this is not the case for most people, and I hope that their travels are safe. However, being able to stay put and enjoy it from the warmth and safety of my home, and my studio in this case, is simply wonderful.

We still have many things in storage, including a lot of our Christmas decorations. Bruce brought home some boxes labeled "Christmas" and we have decorated with the contents of those boxes. It is actually good that he didn't bring home all of the decorations that we own, because they'd never fit.

We realized awhile back that emptying our remaining storage unit will have to wait until we return from Florida in April. Talk about out of sight, out of mind! I can hardly remember what is still there. Come time to clean it out will be a combination of "I'm so glad to see you!" and "Why on earth did we ever have this in the first place?" 

In the meantime we are beginning to plot our escape from the north. We don't have a fixed departure at the moment as our actual Christmas plans are still very much up in the air. As someone who likes to have things firmly in place, this is a bit of an adjustment for me. 

So - going with the flow, and enjoying the wintry weather! Stay warm!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are." ~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Another BITE gathering! This time we met at Clare's, and cooked up her chosen theme of Poland. This is the second time recently that we have had themes reflecting my heritage. My father's mother Stella was Polish. I never knew her because she died when my father was a teenager, and we really did not grow up with much Polish culture. It was nice to be able to visit some of the foods that my grandmother might have cooked while she was living.

We began with Polish vodka over ice, but we did add tonic - quite a bit! It was lovely to have it in glasses from Poland, on loan from Clare's sister.

We paired this with Ellen's appetizers. Who would have ever thought that prunes wrapped in bacon would be so delicious! However, bacon wrapped anything is pretty heavenly. She also prepared kielbasa in a tangy sauce - wonderful! 

(all recipes are provided at the bottom of this post)

Clare's Polish dinnerware provided a perfect table scene. 

My side-dish contribution was a Polish crock pot soup. My home smelled seriously of cabbage by the time I was ready to head to Clare's. I admit that it's not my favorite scent, but the soup was delicious. I had also attempted to make some rye bread, but what a disaster! There was definitely something wrong with the recipe - honestly. I followed it to the letter and when the directions called for "kneading the dough" I knew that something was seriously wrong because my "dough" was the consistency of pancake batter. So- a failure, but easily remedied by purchasing a wonderful loaf on my way to Clare's.

Clare's main dish was a family favorite. Galumpkis, or stuffed cabbage, and reminded me a bit of meatloaf. You will find in the recipe below that it is traditionally made with beef and pork, but Clare uses ground turkey instead. The tart tomato sauce really contributed to its overall hearty flavor. Delicious!

We concluded with Chris's Polish poppyseed roll. Not too sweet, it was definitely a different dessert. The poppyseed filling reminded us a bit of fig and was wonderful! I love an alternative to something too sweet.

As always, a lovely evening with wonderful food and even more wonderful friends. BITE now takes a hiatus until the spring, when those of us who head south for the winter return. Lots of time to think about new themes!

First Half

Second Half

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Let us always be thankful for those who will raise their voices for what is right."

As has become tradition, I am sharing a Thanksgiving postcard that had belonged to my grandparents. Growing up, Thanksgiving was always held at my grandparents' home in Hamilton, NY. The happy memories live on, including burnt crescent rolls and singing around the table. As we gather again this year, as in years past, not everyone can join us. They are with us in spirit however. 

While I am most thankful for the family and friends in my life, it is easy for me, and many of us, to look back on this past year with despair and anxiety. In that vein, I am thankful for the chorus of voices, for the marching feet, for those of us who will not remain silent in the face unkindness, discrimination, exploitation, bullying, and misogyny. 

Let us always be thankful for those who will raise their voices for what is right. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"When wonder tastes like this, who am I to argue." ~ Anthony Bourdain, Raw Craft - Episode 13

And now for a Raw Craft Episode with an appeal for everyone! Anthony Bourdain introduces famed pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of the Cronut. I love how Raw Craft honors and recognizes how "craft" takes many forms. 

Remember that if you receive my blog via email, and a video does not come through, please go to my blog site:  My Retiring Life. Also remember that all episodes of Raw Craft can be found n YouTube.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Noch ein Bier, bitte!" ~ Another beer please!

As I settle down to write, there are the first light flurries of season in the air. With day light savings time, and now this, I guess that winter is underway. 

I am busy making bread, beginning new knitting projects, and working in my studio - what a delight! As the events of the world and our country swirl around me, I am finding peace where and when I can.

Not too long ago, we had another BITE gathering at Ellen's. Our theme was Oktoberfest, and as always, the food was delicious!

We began with Clare's "Easy Oktoberfest Crescent Wrapped Bratwurst Bites with Sauerkraut Dipping Sauce" (all recipes at the end of blog). Honestly, Clare's appetizer could have been right out of a cover-shoot. Absolutely perfect! And absolutely delicious!

We paired our appetizer and dinner with a selection German beer and wine. I chose one of the beers, I don't remember which, but it was so good.

On to dinner and a table festively set for the occasion!

For our side-dish, Chris made a German potato salad reminiscent of her childhood. She admitted that she didn't care for the salad from her memory, but she tweaked the recipe a bit and used a sweet balsamic vinegar, and a lot more bacon (yay!).  I admit to never having been much of a German potato salad fan, but I loved this!

For our main dish, Ellen prepared Wienerschnitzel, though she used pork rather than veal. It was wonderful, and oh so tender!

Lastly, I prepared our desserts. Due to some scheduling concerns, I opted to do something that could be prepared a day or two ahead. Thus, cookies. Up first were German Cinnamon Cookies for Holidays and Christmas. What a new experience! All measurements for the recipe were in grams. I am a fan of the Great British Baking Show, and I marvel at their weighing of ingredients rather than using our measuring cups and spoons. Short of trying to find the scale that I use for soaping, I made equivalents as best I could. Also, the recipe called for a"a knife tip" of baking powder, which is exactly what I did. The directions said that if the batter was too sticky to roll out (mine was way too sticky), to add extra flour and sugar. I did this as well - several times - before I got a roll-able consistency. And, since I was adding more of that, I figured that I'd better add a bit more baking powder - so another knife tip went in. How these were going to turn out was a big question mark - but they were great!

The second cookie that I chose was Mandelhornchen  (Chocolate-dipped almond marzipan horns). How I do love marzipan. These were a bit of work, but worth it.  I included hot chocolate for dunking!

A wonderful meal with wonderful company. Next up - Poland!

All Recipes from October's BITE

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"The Big Studio Reveal!"

Finally! The studio reveal! I know that this has been a long time coming and that you have seen pictures along the way, but she is finally ready to share!

I said that I was going to have a ribbon cutting party, and I did. About 30 friends and family joined me as I cut the ribbon, and opened my studio doors. The day was cold and drizzling, but it definitely could have been worse. Thank you so much for following me along to this day, and thank you to my wonderful husband for making it happen.


If the video does not come through via emails, please go to my blog address:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"What a thing friendship is. World without end." ~ Mark Twain


How lucky to have wonderful friends! Our birthday group, which gathers monthly to celebrate, hasn't been quite the same since one member moved to Washington State last year, and another moved far enough away to make it impractical for her to travel to our gatherings. 

Well, earlier in the week, all of us were together again for the first time in a year. It was delightful as we laughed and ate and laughed some more. I was also happy to know that I can in fact seat 13 people in our downsized new home.

Those friends with whom you have history. Those friends who will be there for you through thick and thin. I love and cherish them so.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cape Cod 2017!

Tomorrow, we head back home after slightly more than a week on the Cape. It has been a mixed bag of weather, but wonderfully relaxing just the same. We had good food, good sleep (badly needed), and just enough hiking to let my fit bit know that I am still alive!

Hikes along marsh areas, and oceanside treated us to seals, the spray of whales in the distance, various vegetation, and wonderful sights and sounds.

We speculate that this could be an eagle, but we have no idea.

We saw two of these fungus-like growths within close proximity of each other, but absolutely no others in about a 4 mile hike.

Till next year!