Thursday, April 30, 2015

May Goals

     Daily Bible Reading

     Weight Watchers 
     Sit and Be Fit DVD 

Quilting: Block # 22

     A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow
     The Liar by Nora Roberts

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
     Chicken Marsala, GMP, Asparagus 
     Pork tenderloin, Sweet Potato, Cabbage
     Bacon sandwiches, Oven Fries

     Estimates for roof repairs 

     Passport pictures 
     Make airline reservations for Alaska CruI've

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

We went to my niece's funeral Saturday. She was 59. I remember what a sweet child she was.  But she was obese and a heavy smoker. You just can't abuse your body without consequences. Her mother was there and this was the second daughter she has had to bury. I cannot begin to imagine the pain. She has one remaining daughter. 

On to other news. The hummingbirds have finally arrived. We have at least 5 guzzling sugar water from our one feeder. If there were more, I would add a second feeder but so far one is fine. 

Sunday we went to the Houston BBQFestival at NRG park. I was worried about the weather but it turned out perfect--cool and overcast with a slight breeze.  And, oh, the BBQ!!! My favorites were the brisket from Killen's and the pork from Louis Mueller. Chris and Tamara were all smiles at the turnout--2,000 tickets were a sellout!  I wish there were some way to have it indoors so that the weather wouldn't be such a worry. 

The monster quilt now has 21 blocks finished, only 35 to go. Why oh why did I ever start this mess?? 

I finished reading The Second Chance Dog by Jon Katz. It was really good. I think it was longer than it should have been but well written and interesting. The other book I was reading, My Organic Life by Nora Pouillon, was a dud and I didn't finish it. I've started The Liar by Nora Roberts and so far so good. 

It looks like I will have to wait a bit longer to get the interior of the house painted because we need to have some roof repairs made. Joe has 3 contractors coming to give us estimates. And on top of that, we had to have the air conditioner repaired. It is 11 years old and has never given us a minute's trouble so I shouldn't complain. I remember the days before air conditioning and am thankful for it. 

I am working on the committee that is locating my high school classmates for our 50th reunion.  I grew up and went through the public schools in Galveston. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I got a really good high school education there.  We have everyone on a spreadsheet with any contact information. As we verify the information or find new information we highlight that line in yellow. If we find that a classmate is deceased, we highlight that line in red. It is heartbreaking to see how many red lines we have now. But after 50 years, it is to be expected. And it makes those remaining so much more precious. 

We have had so much rain that the yard has been too mushy to mow.  But today was gorgeous and it is supposed to be beautiful all through the weekend. So maybe we can get outside and get it cleaned up. After the drought we've had the previous couple of years, no complaints here about the rain. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all spoiled and the retired people nap every afternoon from 1 to 3. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Cooking--Vanilla Pudding

I like to put fresh strawberries on top. 

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and slat in a medium saucepan.  Slowly whisk in the half-and-half and then the yolks. 

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Stir the butter and vanilla into the pudding until the butter is melted. 

Strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer, into a bowl, scraping the inside of the strainer with a rubber spatula to pass the pudding through.  Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. 

April Meditation

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  Mother Teresa

Friday, April 24, 2015

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 
Continuous as the stars that shine 
And twinkle on the Milky Way, 
They stretched in never-ending line 
Along the margin of a bay: 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 
The waves beside them danced, but they 
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee; 
A poet could not but be gay, 
In such a jocund company: 
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought 
What wealth the show to me had brought: 
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, 
They flash upon that inward eye 
Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills, 
And dances with the daffodils. 

William Wordsworth, 1804

Goals for the Week of April 26-May 2

     Daily Bible Reading

     Sit and Be Fit
     Salads for Lunch

Quilting: Block #21

     My Organic Life by Nora Pouillon
     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow
     The Second Chance Dog by Jon Katz

     Tuna Salad
     Chicken Marsala
     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Spaghetti and Meatballs

     Clean off front porch
     Roof estimates 😫

     Rhonda's Funeral
     BBQ Festival
     Double check Yosemite flight, car, hotel

Monday, April 20, 2015

A death in the family

My niece died today. She was 7 years younger than me. She had been ill for a long time.  Her husband died a week before she died.  They had been together 30+ years. And I think she just couldn't go on without the love of her life. 

April Cooking--Chicken Marsala

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
3 ounces pancetta, chopped fine
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. 
Spread the flour in a shallow dish

Pound the thicker ends of the breasts as needed.  Pat dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Dredge through the flour and shake off any excess. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm in oven. 

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and mushrooms. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook about 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala, scrapping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes. 

Stir in the lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juice.  Turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time.  Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Spoon the sauce over the chicken before serving. 

I like to serve Garlic Mashed Potatoes and oven roasted asparagus with this.  Garlic Toast is good to mop up the delicious Marsala sauce too. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” 
― Francis of Assisi

April Poetry I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 
Those of the mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck hand singing on the steamboat deck, 
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, 
The wood-cutter's song, the plowboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or the young wife at work, or the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. 

Walt Whitman, 1860

Friday, April 17, 2015

Goals for Week of April 19 - 26, 2015

     Daily Bible Reading

     Sit and Be Fit
     Healthy Breakfast and snack

Quilting: Block #21

     The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
     H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald 
     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow
     The Second Chance Dog by Jon Katz

     Roast Chicken and Vegetables
     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
     Chicken Marsala, GMP, Asparagus
     Steak, GMP, GB 

     Clean windows and blinds in garage
     Move plant stand outside
     Get estimates for interior painting

     Manicure & Pedicure ( I have never had a pedicure before. We shall see how this works out...)
     Lunch with P&W&C&B 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

About 15 years ago I injured my right shoulder.  With rest and a couple of cortisone injections, my shoulder mostly healed.  But as I have aged the shoulder became stiff and painful. I treated it with ibuprofen, a heating pad, and sleeping with pillows propping me just so.  And I just assumed that I would just have to live with it.  Well, several months ago I bought a Sit & Be Fit exercise DVD.  It is all very gentle movements to improve flexibility, strength and coordination. What a difference those exercises have made on my shoulder! Totally unexpected.  My shoulder started improving within the first 2 weeks and now, other than some morning stiffness, is perfectly normal. 

This year we have had almost no hummingbirds migrate through. I don't know why but I suspect habitat loss.  Currently, we have only one pair of hummingbirds feeding on our salvia and the one feeder we have up.  I suppose this is to be the new normal.  Children will grow up not ever seeing the masses of hummingbirds as they pass through. It is the same with my generation who never knew the great masses of passenger pigeons. 

Does anyone else get up early to clean house before the housecleaners arrive? I do. But they can't clean the kitchen counters if they are all cluttered up and they can't vacuum if there is stuff on the floor. And I keep the litter box in the tub in the guest bathroom so I need to get that out so they can clean the tub. I love my cleaning crew because there are 2 guys and 2 women and the guys can move the refrigerator or the washer and drier to clean twice a year. And they are all the nicest people. They have cleaned for me for over 10 years now. 

I have started watching House of Cards on Netflix DVDs.  I am hooked.  I absolutely loved the British House of Cards several years ago and this one is every bit as good. What, I wonder, does that say about my own character that I love to watch Machiavelli in action??

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April Meditation

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April Poetry--April Woods: Morning by Wendell Berry

April Woods: Morning  by Wendell Berry

Birth of color
out of night and the ground. 

Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot

newly risen, green leaf
white flower

in the sun, the dark
grown absent. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

April Goals

     Sit and Be Fit
     Healthy Breakfast and Snack

Quilting: Block #19

     Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
     The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
     H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald 
     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow

     Stuffed Wieners, Corn, Salad
     Chicken Parmigiana, Salad
     CB hash, Broccoli 
     Chocolate Chip Cookies

     Clean out next section of closet

     Order new exercise DVD

Life in the Grass at OakMeadows



Killdeer Eggs

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Blooms at OakMeadows

After a long rainy winter of overcast skies for weeks at a time, I am reveling in the beautiful colors of spring. 

April Cooking--Pot Roast

Pot Roast

This is adapted from Pioneer Woman.  It is easy to put together and produces a tender (from the long cooking time in a low temperature oven), juicy roast with a very good gravy.  I usually make some mashed potatoes mostly for the gravy. 

Chuck Roast or Eye of Round Roast about 3 pounds (2 pounds if it is just Joe and me with plenty for leftovers)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion cut into quarters
4 large Carrots cut into 2 inch lengths
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to taste
1 cup red wine (can use beef stock)
2-3 cups Beef Stock
1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon dried Thyme

Heat oven to 275 degrees and place oven shelf in the middle of the oven. 

Season meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or other oven safe pan with a lid until very hot but not smoking.  Brown the onion quarters on each side about a minute per side and remove to a plate.  Add the carrots to the hot pan and brown for 2-3 minutes and remove to the plate with the onions. 

Add 1 tablespoon more olive oil to very hot pot and place seasoned roast in the pan. Brown on each side and remove to another plate. 

Add red wine and cook down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. 

Return roast to the pan and add the onions and carrots. 

Pour in Beef Stock until it is about half way up the roast. 

Sprinkle dried Rosemary and Thyme over the roast and vegetables. 

Cover with lid and place in oven at 275 degrees for about 3 hours. I cook a 2-3 pound roast for 3 hours. 

That's it. Enjoy. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. 
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. 
Be yourself. 
Especially do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. 
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. 
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. 
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. 
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” 
― Max EhrmannDesiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Goals

     Daily Bible Reading--done. 

     Sit and Be Fit--done. 
     Healthy breakfast and Snack--mostly done. 

Quilting: Block #18--finished. 

     Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
     The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
     H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow

     Pot Roast, GMP, Carrots----done. 
     Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggie Tray--done
     Chicken-Rice Bake, Salad--done. 
     Roast Beef Hash, Leftover GMP, GB--done. 
     Strawberry Shortcake--done. 

     Clean out one section of closet--done. 
     Buy new towels and washcloths--done. 

     Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park--rained out. 
     Order summer clothes from LLBean--done. 

April Poetry Anthem for a Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

Anthem for Doomed Youth 

What passing bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons. 
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells, 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs— 
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 
What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. 
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. 

Wilfred Owen, 1917