Monday, March 31, 2014

April Menu

 April Menu

1.  Beans & Rice & Sausage, Veggie tray
2.  Going to Funeral for family member
3.  Oven baked fish, Carrots, Corn/Cabbage
4.  Slow Cooker Homey Chicken Stew (SCR p.44)
5.  Cutlets, GMP, Gravy, Green beans
6.  Leftovers
8.  Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
9.  Schlotzsky's 
10. Fish chowder 
11. BBQ Chicken thighs, Beans, Corn on the cob
12. Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Soup (SCR p. 18)
13. Leftovers
14. Texas Roadhouse
15. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
16. Schlotzsky'
17. Shrimp jambalaya 
18. Slow Cooker Farmhouse Chicken & Corn Chowder
19. Spaghetti and meatballs, Green beans
20. Leftovers
21. Pappasito's 
22. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray 
23. Schlotzsky's 
24. Baked Ziti with Sausage & Peppers (SCR p. 236)
25. KFC 
26. More Casserole
27. Leftovers
28. Gringo's
29. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
30. Schlotzsky's 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

This book is, of course, about World Was I. It is one of the best history books I have ever read.  It tells the story of the struggle through the both eyes of those who saw the war as a noble cause and those who saw it as utter madness to pit workers of the world against one another. This is what makes this book so unique. Included in it are both the British Commander-in-chief of the Western Front and his ardently pacifist sister. Another excellent aspect is the way the events of the Boer War contributed to the military doctrine that proved so disastrous in this conflict. I was aware of the tremendous loss of life during The War to End All Wars but I really had no idea of just how blunderingly needless the slaughter of a whole generation of young men was. If you read history, don't miss this excellent book. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014


“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday Poetry

With blended knees, with
hands outstretched, I pray
to Thee, my Lord, Oh
Invisible Benevolent
Spirit! Vouchsafe to me in 
this house of joy, All
righteousness of action, all
wisdom of the Good Mind,
that I may therefore bring
joy to the soul of creation. 

The Divine Songs of the Zoroaster

Friday, March 28, 2014

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, April 5, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Cut out pieces for baby quilt

2.  Reading
     Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard
     Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan MacNeal
     To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
     A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

 3.  Cooking
     Beans and Rice and Sausage
     Slow Cooker Homey Chicken Stew
     Oatmeal/Raisin cookies

4.  Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
      (Birding trip to Louisiana had to be postponed.)
5.  ABF/Church

6.  Exercise 12 minutes 6 days 

7.  Guest Bedroom Project
     Install new blinds if they come in
     Frame antique map of Galveston

Slow Cooker Homey Chicken Stew

This is another excellent recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution by the Editors of America's Test Kitchen. I really can't recommend this cookbook highly enough. Everything I have made from it has been perfectly delicious. 

Homey Chicken Stew

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 2 lb. and it was plenty.)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth plus extra as needed
12 ounces red potatoes (2-3 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. 
Brown half do chicken lightly on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes; transfer to bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining chicken; transfer to bowl. 

2. Heat 1 tablespoon more oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine, scrapping up any browned bits. Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker. 

3. Microwave potatoes and carrots with remaining tablespoon of oil in covered bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables nearly tender, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in remaining 3 cups broth, peas, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. 

4. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove far from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. 

5. Stir shredded chicken into stew. Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. 

I served this with hot fresh biscuits. Delicious. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Crisis du jour


I do not watch the nightly news. I used to listen to NPR a lot but now less and less. Partly it is because I think the media have to have some crisis somewhere every day to fill up the 24/7 news slots. Now it is the crisis in Crimea and before that it was the crisis in Syria and before that it was a crisis in Egypt....

And partly because the things that I care about - ecology and the environment are given scant coverage. (We are destroying the very systems that keep us alive and we hear about Mick Jagger's girlfriend committing suicide....) 

And lastly because the thing that I have been raging against for the last 10 years is finally coming to an end. We are out of Iraq (and didn't that go well...) and soon we will be out of Afghanistan.  Soon there will be no more Americans getting their arms and legs blown off or dying for nothing. (I don't think that we have accomplished anything lasting in either country.)

I hope we will have the good sense to evaluate the cost in both lives and money before we go roaring off to next foreign war. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shrimp Jambalaya

I made this last week and it was soooo good. Another recipe from ATK Family Cookbook. 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces andouille sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups long-grained white rice
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the andouille and cook lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot. 

2. Add the onions, celery, garlic, and bell pepper to the pot and return to medium heat. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. 

3. Stir in the rice, salt, and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice, clam juice, broth, and browned sausage. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4. Scatter the shrimp over the rice and continue to cook, covered until the rice is tender and the shrimp have cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the parsley before serving. 

Crusty French bread is great with this. 

Around OakMeadows

Joe's Aunt has been in declining health for several years and has been residing in a nursing home. She was hospitalized where her condition was stabilized and returned to the nursing home. She rapidly declined and is now on palliative care. She seems to be in no real distress although it is hard to tell. Her daughter, Joe's cousin, has been caring for her and is very stressed. My SIL is helping as much as she can. But there is little anyone can do. Joe has been asked to be one of the readers at the funeral. It is hard to see someone who was so full of life fading away, especially since she is the very last of her generation in the family. 

Other bad news is, of course, the horrible oil spill in Galveston Bay. I can't watch the news and see the poor struggling oil covered birds. Just can't watch it. 

Now for some good news. 

We have two pairs of barn swallows. One nest on the back porch and one on the front porch. We also have at least two hummingbirds coming to the feeder. Mockingbirds are all over the place, chasing each other out of their territory. I suspect a cardinal nest in the bottlebrush bush. Lots of the usual suspects at the birdbath and feeders. Warblers, who remain unidentified, continue to thwart me.  Blue jays, collared and mourning doves, titmouse, and a few red winged blackbirds. 

I finally finished the table runner.  I will post a photo soon. I want to do a baby quilt next. Must go fabric shopping. Pastels. 

Reading in To End All Wars. What an excellent book! I've finished 1915 and started 1916. I can hardly bear to read about the senseless slaughter and the horrific conditions. It is amazing that there was very, very little opposition to the war. It was all patriotism and glory. How can I criticize it though--the U.S. has been in a stupid, senseless war for going on 13 years now with very, very little opposition. And truth to tell, there are those in Congress who would involve us in any number of others wars. 

Lots of blooms around OakMeadows. The  redbuds, crab apples and Mexican plum trees are covered in blooms. The azaleas are loaded with buds just beginning to open. Wildflowers are lovely--lots of Indian paint brushes, something that has purple blooms, but very few bluebonnets. The pink and yellow primroses haven't really started blooming yet. 

My church is starting an ESL class and is looking for volunteers. I am thinking seriously about volunteering. I will look into it a bit more before making a decision. 

Cooking has been rather sketchy this past week. Nothing new, just same old, same old. Need to look through my ATK Cookbooks. I love ATK. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Questionnaire by Wendell Berry

How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy

In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security;
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

"Questionnaire" by Wendell Berry from Leavings. © Counterpoint, 2010.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God's continuing creation.

Quaker Book of Advices and Queries

Friday, March 21, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Sit, be still, listen,
For you are drunk,
And we are at the edge of
    the roof.


Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, March 29, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Table runner - Binding

2.  Reading
     The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
     To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
     A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

 3.  Cooking
      Tuna salad sandwiches
      Chicken & Snow Peas
      Spaghetti & Meatballs

4.  Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
      (Birding trip to Louisiana had to be postponed.)
5.  ADG/Church

6.  Exercise 12 minutes 6 days 

7.  Guest Bedroom Project
     Install new blinds if they come in
     Order antique map prints from All Posters

Good movies via Netflix (mostly)


Most movies that we watch come via Netflix. I absolutely love Netflix and consider it one of the best bargains around. I am so old that I remember when you had to go to the theater to watch a movie and once it left the theaters, well, it was gone for good. There were some re-releases but not many. Anyway, love my Netflix. 
Recently, I've had some very good movies, some OK, and one stinker. Here we go:

Frozen - very good for young children; awful for me. (We actually went to the theater for this one. Aargh!)
Up! - Best animated story I've ever seen. 
Room with a View - excellent. 
A Walk in the Clouds - wonderful romance. 
Monuments Men - excellent! WW II true but little known. (This was really worth seeing on the large screen.)
Mansfield Park - an old favorite. 
Rob Roy - Ack! This was so bad that JMM and I tried to blame each other for putting it in the Netflix queue. (It was him!)
The Godfather - Classic. 
To Sir with Love - Good but dated. 
American Hustle - OK but certainly not worth the Academy Award hype. 

Have you watched any good movies lately that I can add to my Netflix queue??

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Around OakMeadows

It has been a pleasant week here at OakMeadows.  The weather is moderating and we are able to get outside more. The yard is green with clover and thistles and Joe has been busy finishing clearing out the freeze damage. The live oaks are loaded with yellow pollen which should be coming down any day now. Achooo! The first hummingbird arrived Saturday. I was pleased that we had the feeder up and filled with sugar water. So we have the swallows back and now the hummingbirds are starting to come through. Spring is well under way!

I made Shrimp Jambalaya for the first time yesterday. I really should give half the credit to Joe because he did all the chopping and helped get it all together.  It was really good.  Usually when I make something for the first time, there are changes that I want to make the next time I do it. But this really doesn't need any changes at all.  I will post the recipe next Monday.

We went to the Houston Symphony last Friday and it was wonderful! The violin soloist was Frank Huang and he was perfect! They performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Vivaldi always makes me smile. Just a beautiful, beautiful evening.
Tickets for next season are on sale and I am once again getting our season tickets.

Almost finished with the quilted table runner. I should start binding the edges this weekend and will post a picture as soon as it is finished. I have so many quilts and wall hangings floating around in my mind that I'm not sure what to do next. Maybe get the fabric and start the travel quilt? Maybe do a scrap hearts lap quilt? I have an idea for a wall hanging...So many little time...

I finished reading The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd. It was a light historical romance set during WW I.  Good but not outstanding. The two outstanding books that I am still plowing through are To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Travel plans are:
     1. Birding trip to Louisiana
     2. Wedding/Birding trip to central Texas
     3. Alaska cruise
     4. Yosemite May 2015

Monday, March 17, 2014

Banana Nut Bread

I have made this at least a hundred times and it is always so good! Made a loaf this morning.

Banana-Nut Bread

1/2 c. oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. wheat germ
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ c. pecan pieces 

Cream oil, sugar, bananas, vanilla, and eggs.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

Bake in loaf pan which has been sprayed with Pam at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Saturday Poetry

We are talking only to
ourselves. We are not
talking to the rivers, we
are not listening to the
wind and stars.  We have
broken the great
conversation. By breaking
that conversation we have
shattered the universe. All
the disasters that are
happening now are a
consequence of that
spiritual "autism."

Thomas Berry

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, March 22, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Table runner Block #5

2.  Reading
     The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
     To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
     The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd
     A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

 3.  Cooking
      Shrimp jambalaya
      Beef & Bok Choy
      Chicken Rice Bake

 4.  Painting Master Bedroom Project
      Paint wall #2

5.  Houston Center for Creative Crafts & lunch at Baker Street Pub & Grill

6. Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
7. ABF/Church

8. Exercise 12 minutes 6 days 

9. Weight Watchers

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Around OakMeadows

The big news around OakMeadows this week is the return of the Barn Swallows. They returned last year on March 10 and again this year on March 10. They are to me one of life's miracles. We have some warblers that I haven't been able to get a good enough look at to identify but most likely they are Yellow-Rumped Warblers.  Also the usual Red-winged Blackbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Titmouse.  I must get out the hummingbird feeders and get them filled because we have had arrivals as early as March 18.

I have made reservations for our next birding trip.  We are going to southwestern Louisiana March 31-April 4. DD is going to be the cat concierge while we are away. On the list of places to see: McFadden NWR, Sea Rim State Park, Texas Point NWR, Sabine NWR, Palmetto Island State Park.  Of course, we cannot possibly do all of them but whatever we do, it will be good to be out in the beautiful natural world.

Reading two excellent books: The War to End All Wars by Hochschild which, of course, is about the First World War but instead of being about the chronology and battles, it is about the people behind the war, leaders, commoners, and resistors. Very well written and interesting.  The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert chronicles the 5 previous cataclysmic extinctions and the current mass extinction on earth. Very interesting and heartbreaking. 

Friday evening we are going to the Houston Symphony. An evening of Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. Immersion in beautiful sound.

My quilting and painting projects are slowly progressing. My other big project: the guest bedroom makeover is also making slow progress. JMM has ordered the new blinds, I bought new bedside lamps, and next week I will be purchasing another bedside table so I can move the one in the back bedroom back to the guest bedroom where it belongs.  And I have decided on framing prints of antique maps to go somewhere in the room, haven't decided where yet.

Usual cooking, cleaning, laundry. I absolutely love being retired!!

Beef Stew


I made this Sunday and it was even better as leftovers this evening. This is from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  I have made some changes as noted.
1 2 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in cubes (The recipe called for 3 pound but that was too much meat IMHO.)
    Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine
32 oz. beef stock (The recipe called for 16 oz. and that was not nearly enough juice for stew IMHO.)
1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (about 5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 cup frozen peas
1.  Adjust an oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Dry the beef with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Brown half the meat, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with 1 more tablespoon of oil and the remaining meat. Transfer meat to plate.
2.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the empty pot and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and garlic.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly stir in the wine, scrapping up any browned bits.  Stir in the broth, thyme, and browned beef.  Bring to a simmer, cover , and transfer to oven.  Cook for one hour.
3.  Stir in the potatoes, carrots, and peas. Cover and continue to cook in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
This is especially good with toasted sourdough bread! And as I said at the beginning, it makes excellent leftovers!

Monday, March 10, 2014

So excited!

Just a quick note to say how thrilled I am that the barn swallows are back!  Right on time, to the day! They arrived at my back porch this morning! How do they do it?? From Central America to my back porch every year!!  How I love them!! Soon they will be refurbishing last year's nests and then there will be babies (and the poop below...) I will have to go on sparrow patrol though to keep the sparrows from invading the swallow nests. This just makes me so happy!

All my swallow pictures are too dark, so these are from Google images:

Sunday, March 9, 2014



"Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts With Epilogue

Friday, March 7, 2014

Saturday Poetry

And while I stood there I
saw more than I can tell
and I understood more
than I saw, for I was
seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of all things in
the spirit and the shape of
all shapes as they must all
live together as one being. 

Black Elk 

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, March 15, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Table runner Block #4

2.  Reading
     The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
     The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
     Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
     To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

 3.  Cooking
      Beef Stew
      Chicken and Snow Peas

 4.  Painting Master Bedroom Project
      Paint wall #2

5.  Plan trip to Louisiana 

6. Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
7. ABF/Church

8. Exercise 12 minutes 6 days 

9. Weight Watchers

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal by R.A.Scotti

500 years ago, Pope Julius II laid the cornerstone for a new basilica of St. Peter. The building of this new basilica & the removal of the basilica of Constantine not only set to work an extraordinary group of architects and artists but it also led directly to revolution in Western civilization. The pope's need to finance the ambitious project ignited northern Europe's Reformation. The author shows how successive artists shaped and reshaped the building, how new popes confronted the legacies of their predecessors and left their own imprints on the basilica. Bramante, Michelangelo, and Bernini had major control over one or another aspect of the vast, century-long project, and the building well illustrates the passage from a pure Renaissance aesthetic to the florid, excessive decorative impulses of the baroque. 
If you are a PhD in Art or Renaissance History, this book is probably not deep enough for you. But if you want a readable, interesting account of the people who built the basilica and the period in which it was built, this would be a excellent choice. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ukraine, the Crisis du Jour

There has to be a crisis somewhere every day for two reasons. First, the news/media must have something to justify their presence and with news being a 24/7 affair now that's a lot of time to fill. And second, there must be something for our Secretary of State to justify his jetting around the world. If there weren't insoluble problems, what would a Secretary of State have to do??

The whole affair is none of our business. If the European Union wants to impose sanctions on Russia, let them have at it. But with 1/3 of their natural gas coming from Russia in pipelines through Ukraine, it is going to be rather chilly in Europe.  
Is Putin a creep? Decidedly. But then there are a lot of creepy heads of state. Think North Korea to begin with. 

Finally, with so many needs here in the U.S., it annoys me to no end to see our Secretary of State rushing to Ukraine to give them a billion of my tax dollars. Who asked me or my Congressional Representative? No debate, no discussion, just here's the money. We discuss giving our own veterans benefits and can't seem to be able to afford that but yet we don't have a discussion of giving a billion dollars to a corrupt country on the other side of the world. 

IMHO, the U.S. should butt out and concentrate our talent, wealth, and energy on the pressing needs here in the U.S.  And the news should go back to a 30 minute broadcast every evening. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Around OakMeadows

Cold, windy, and a little rain.  We need every drop of rain we get!  It is weather like this that reminds me how glad I am to be retired. As a hospital pharmacist, I had to be there no matter what the weather. Now, I can enjoy a quilt, a cup of hot tea, and a cat on my lap on these inclement days. 

Our goldfinches have left. They picked a bad time to move north, IMHO. It is cold here and much worse farther north. I've had to break ice on the birdbaths. We have the usual crowd at the feeders. I've been filling the feeders twice a day since it is so cold. 

I made the best soup last night! I posted the recipe for Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup yesterday. The next time I make it I will decrease the amount of meat from 2 pounds to 1.5 pounds and increase the barley from 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Also I used all beef broth instead of half beef half chicken stock. I toasted and buttered some sourdough bread. So good!

The quilting on the table runner is finally moving along. I think the problem was that I didn't have an audio book to listen to while quilting. I used to listen to NPR while quilting but here lately I just have no patience listening to the crisis du jour. Audio books are so much better. 

Lots of good books. I finished listening to The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank on audio CD. It was good but not great.  I enjoyed it. I am almost finished with Basilica by R.A. Scotti about the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during the tumultuous Renaissance, Reformation, and Counterreformation. Excellent! Other books in progress: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (group read for GoodReads Science group), The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass. 

Still no trip to Brazos Bend for birding but the trip to Louisiana is all set for the last week in March. Now if only the weather will cooperate!!

I did get tickets to the Houston Symphony for March 14. An evening of Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi! Lovely!

I have been giving some thought to the situation in the Ukraine. More on that tomorrow.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Soup Project: Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

This is sooo good! It is another recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution by the Editors of America's Test Kitchen.

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pearl barley
2 pounds beef blade steak
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, and thyme. Cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker. 

2. Stir tomatoes, beef broth, chicken broth, carrots, soy sauce, and barley into slow cooker.  Season beef with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high. 

3. Transfer beef to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces. Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat using a large spoon. 

4. Stir in shredded beef and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014


“The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
― Kent M. KeithThe Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, March 8, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Table runner Block #3

2.  Reading
     Basilica by R.A.Scotti
     You'll Get through This by Max Licado
     The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
     The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
     Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

 3.  Cooking
      4 dinners
      Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

 4.  Painting Master Bedroom Project
      Paint wall #2

5.  Plan Birding Trip to Louisiana March 24-27

6. Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
7. ABF/Church

8. Exercise 12 minutes 6 days 

9. Weight Watchers

Poetry for Saturday


Every day, priests
minutely examine the Law
and endlessly chant
complicated sutras.  Before
doing that, though, they
should learn how to read
the love letters sent by the
the wind and rain, the snow 
and moon.