Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Around Oak Meadows

Around OakMeadows

Arrrgghh! I had 3 books on reserve at the library and all three of them came at the same time! I will never be able read all 3 of them the the 3 weeks that I can have them. I won't be able to renew them because there is a long waiting list for all 3.  Well, I will start with The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson because I just loved her previous novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

The first hummingbird has arrived and departed. He is on his way north and I am glad he got to refuel with fresh sugar water at my house.  We should be seeing more soon. 

I ordered a Medical Alert system. It has a necklace that I wear so that if I fall or need assistance, I can push the button to call for help.  It also has a fall alert so that if I fall, they will automatically call and if I don't respond, they will send help.  I mostly want it for when JMM is away from home.  It is $44/month with no contract and no fees to begin or end the service.  

It has been overcast and drizzly for two days now and I am ready for some sunshine.  We are planning a trip to the Hermann Park gardens on Monday if the weather will cooperate. 

Quilting is still on hold but I plan to get back at it tomorrow. 

I am still aghast at the level of Republican political discourse this year.  I hope this doesn't become the norm for election years. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows for now. Only the usual cooking and cleaning and reading this week. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

I make this cake almost every Easter. 

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease 16 cup tube pan. Dust with cake flour; tap out excess flour. (I just spray my nonstick tube pan with Pam.)

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.  Beat in lemon juice and peel.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Mix in sour cream. Transfer batter to prepared pan. 

Bake until tested inserted near the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 30 minutes.  Let cake cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Loosen around edges with a knife. Turn cake out on rack and cool completely. 

Lemon glaze

Melt 1/4 cup butter in microwave
Sift 2 cups powdered sugar in large bowl
Add butter to powdered sugar
Add 2 tablespoonful lemon juice
Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Stir until smooth and creamy
If too thick add a few drops milk; if too thin add a little more powdered sugar
Drizzle over cake


Saturday, March 26, 2016

March Meditation

That is one good thing about this world....there are always sure to be more springs.

L.M.Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Friday, March 25, 2016

Goals for the Week March 27 - April 2

     Daily Bible Reading
     7 Women by Eric Metaxas

     Healthy Snacks
     Exercise DVD

     Layer and baste quilt

     SPQR by Mary Beard
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
     The Waters of Eternal Youth (Commissario Brunetti #25) by Donna Leon

     Beef and Barley Soup
     Seafood Pasta
     Cutlets, Sweet potato, GB

     Plan Bathroom update


Desiderata -- Max Ehrmann

By Max Ehrmann

“Go placidly amid the noise and 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 the ignorant;
they too have their story. 
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark 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 labors 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.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. ”
-  Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927.  Max Ehrmann (1872–1945), a poet and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March Around Oak Meadows

Gorgeous spring weather here. Wildflowers are blooming. Our much loved swallows are back and repairing their nests. We have Monarch caterpillars chomping on the milkweed; JMM counted 16 on one day.  The trees are leafing out and the grass is growing.  Very few bees around the Mexican heather so far though. And best of all my hands and feet are thawing out! 

I watched Bridge of Spies this evening on a Netflix DVD. It was about the exchange of Francis Gary Powers, an American U-2 pilot shot down over the USSR, for a convicted Soviet spy.  Tom Hanks did a superb performance as the lawyer who first defended the spy and then negotiated the exchange.  I remember the tense times of the Cold War in the early 1960s and I remember the downing of the U-2 spy plane but I don't think I knew much more than that we got him back.  Excellent movie.

Quilting has just come to a complete stop.  No real reason, I just haven't gotten around to doing any of it.  

Politics, at least on the Republican side, is a complete circus.  Can anyone explain to me why Jeb Bush decided to back Ted Cruz and not the more rational John Kasich? It's a mystery to me. I'm a Bernie supporter but will vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination so I should be glad the Republicans are stark, raving bonkers but as a citizen, I find it distinctly embarrassing. 

I've been cooking as usual: We had Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Carrots on St. Patrick's Day and I made Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmesan on Tuesday. Right now I have a meatloaf and sweet potatoes in the oven. Strawberries are coming in so I think I'll make a pound cake, slice some fresh strawberries, and whip up some whipped cream for strawberry shortcake. 

I finished The Gilded Age by Sara Donati and it was excellent historical fiction. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series to come out. I've got another 140 pages to go in Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham. It is ungodly long but well worth the time reading.  And for fun, I've started the latest Commissario Brunetti book by Donna Leon, The Waters of Eternal Youth.  So many books, so little time. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the deer are eating the new plants and the people are helpless to stop them.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

This is the best researched book of historical fiction that I have ever read. The story is set in New York in 1883 and everything about it is thoroughly researched and portrayed.  Whether describing the streets and buildings, the public institutions, or the practice of medicine and surgery at that time, the book is accurate to both the overall and the detail.  

The story and the characters are complex and quite believable.  It is a very long book and takes quite some time to get through it. But it is so well written that you just don't mind reading and reading and reading until you absolutely, positively must turn the light off and get some sleep because you have to get up and go to work the next day. 

I did not realize that this book is part of a series.  It reads completely well by itself.  I only mention this because there are several loose threads that are not tidied up by the end of the book and I was puzzled by this until I read on the back that this is the latest book in her Into the Wilderness series.  So I can look forward to seeing what happens to the characters in following books. 

A really good read. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef and Noodle Soup

I got this going first thing this morning. I've made it several times and it is sooo good. Easy, peasy.  This is adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. 

2 medium or 1 large onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 boxes (8 cups) beef broth
2 cups Baby Bella mushrooms, quartered 
3 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds beef steak, whatever is on sale, trimmed
Salt and pepper
3 ounces egg noodles (about 2 cups)
Parsley, if desired

Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, thyme, carrots, and celery in a large bowl for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir broth, mushrooms, soy sauce, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  

Season beef with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Remove meat and shred, return to slow cooker. 

Cook noodles and place in individual serving bowls.  Add soup over noodles. (This is so that the noodles don't get all mushy in the soup as it cooks.)

This can be frozen in individual serving containers for a quick lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Aldo Leopold

"We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~ Aldo Leopold

Spring by William Blake

Sound the flute!
Now it's mute!
Bird's delight,
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,--
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year. 

Goals for week of March 21-28, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     7 Women by Eric Metaxas

     Healthy Lunch
     Exercise DVD

Quilting - Layer and baste Stars quilt

      SPQR by Mary Beard
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
     The Gilded Age by Sara Donati

     Saturday -- CB Hash, Cream Style Corn, Salad
Sunday -- Schlotzsky's
Monday -- Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Tuesday -- Chicken Parmesan
Wednesday -- Meatloaf, Sweet Potato, Spinach
Thursday -- leftovers 
Friday -- Out
Lemon Cake

     Bathroom makeover planning


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Around OakMeadows

Redbuds in bloom.

Spring is definitely bursting out around here. We even saw two Monarch caterpillars. Thank goodness the milkweed is leafing out for them to eat.  

The last two evenings I watched the PBS miniseries Mercy Street.  It is excellent.  It is set in Alexandria, Virginia in 1862 during the early months of the Civil War.  The story takes place in a former hotel now a Union Hospital and the characters a include the doctors and nurses in the hospital and the Southern family who owned the hotel before it was requisitioned.  I spent 20+ years of my life as a hospital pharmacist mostly working in the operating rooms so I am not queasy in the least around blood and open bodies but I will tell you that I had to cover my eyes several times. How anyone survived their wounds or the surgical treatment of those wounds is a mystery to me.  I don't know if they plan to continue the series but I certainly hope so.  It is excellent. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Vegetable for the Month--Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli

1½–2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into 6 stalks 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter 
3 small garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and finely chopped 
½ cup plain dry bread crumbs 
Finely chopped or coarsely grated zest of 1 lemon 
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint or parsley

In a steamer or a pot fitted with a steaming basket, steam the broccoli, covered, until the stalks are just tender, 7 to 9 minutes. You should be able to pierce the stalks with the tip of a knife. Transfer to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels, drain, and pat dry. Season the broccoli with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Put a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter's melted, add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, just until it is softened but not colored. Add the bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toss the crumbs with the garlic until they are well blended, moistened with butter, and toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the zest and mint or parsley. 

Add the broccoli and turn it around to coat the florets with crumbs. Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and spoon over any crumbs that remain in the skillet. Serve immediately.

March Meditation

It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March Poetry

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Goals for next week

     Daily Bible -- Done.
     The Rule of St. Benedict -- Finished. 

     Healthy Lunch -- Done. 
     Water -- Done. 
     Exercise DVD

     Layer and baste quilt

     SPQR by Mary Beard -- In progress. 
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham --  In progress. 
     The Gilded Age by Sara Donati --  In progress. 

Saturday -- Bacon sandwiches -- Done. 
Sunday -- Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup -- Done. 
Monday -- Baker Street Pub Burgers -- Done. 
Tuesday -- Leftovers
Wednesday -- Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots -- Done. 
Thursday -- leftovers 
Friday -- Out
Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Done. 

     Order spring door wreath -- Done. 

     Order spring clothing -- Done. 
     Manicure/Pedicure --  Done. 
     Housecleaners -- Done. 
     Meet with Fidelity rep -- Done. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Around Oak Meadows

I don't know what it is but the bees love it!
Around Oak Meadows

Our weekend trip to the Rio Grande Valley was one of those trips where everything just goes right. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. A light cloud cover when we were out on the boardwalks at the South Padre Island Nature and Birding Center, which if you have never been, I highly recommend.  We stopped at Edinburg to see their birding center and enjoyed it. We spent an afternoon at the National Butterfly Center in Mission and a morning at South Padre Island Nature Center. No photos yet as   JMM was the photographer and he hasn't taken the photos off his camera yet.  But it was a lovely trip. But as always, I love coming home!

Spring is here on the Texas Gulf Coast. My goldfinches have deserted me and just today we saw the very first swallows.  And the weeds are popping up in the yard and flower beds. But my daffodils are just beginning the send up the first green shoot. 

Quilting has been neglected while I commune with the birds and weeds. 

Cooking this week: Pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, and spinach tomorrow. Pancakes and sausage yesterday.  Chicken tenders, Beans, and Cole Slaw on Thursday.  Friday is our monthly family lunch out and this time we are meeting at Landry's in Galveston where we will all eat fried shrimp and French fries and salad.  We always look at the menu but end up getting the wonderful fried Gulf shrimp and laugh at ourselves for being in such a rut. 

I am reading one of the most interesting historical fiction books that I have ever read. It is The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. It is set in NYC in the 1880s. The author did a phenomenal job on the research and gets both the larger picture and the details perfect.  Good story too.  I am about half way through the 740 pages and don't want to put it down, but my eyes will fall out if I indulge too long!

We are supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow which will do wonders for the weeds in my yard and flower beds.....oh well, it will be nice for the daffodils too. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats eat Fancy Feast, and the people try to eat healthy but usually don't. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March Meditation

Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.

Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Gone Birding

We are off to the RioGrande Valley for a few days to go to the National Butterfly Center and to do some birding there before the summer heat moves in.  I'll be back next week with some bird and butterfly photos.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Goals for next week

     Select next spiritual book to read
     Practice centering

     Decrease soda/Increase water
     Exercise DVD

     Finish piecing batting

    Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
    SPQR by Mary Beard
    The Guilded Hour by Sara Donati

     Pancakes and Sausage
     Chicken Tenders, GMP, GB
     Pork tenderloin, Sweet potatoes, Spinach
     Oatmeal cookies


     Birding trip to Rio Grande Valley and back up the coast

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Tree for the Year

This is my tree for the year. The idea came from lovely Michelle at Rambling Woods.  I chose our Sugarberry tree to observe for a year.  These photos were taken in January.  The bark is so mottled and beautiful. There are still no leaves on the tree today. One thing I have learned from experience is that the seeds from the Sugarberry will not come up unless they have gone through a bird's digestive system. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Around Oak Meadows

Sunrise this morning. 

Looks like an early spring. Some of the trees and bushes are leafing out. And about half of the goldfinches are gone. My daffodils still haven't come up though. Temperatures are lovely, 50s at night and mid 70s during the day. 

My daughter had surgery last week.  She had a pretty rough first few days post-op but is slowing feeling better.  

I've made the backing for the new quilt and am piecing the batting together from leftover pieces from previous quilts. I hope to have it layered and basted together next week. 

Two very good books going now: Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham and The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. 

I keep hoping that I will wake up and find that Donald Trump the Republican nominee for President was just a very bad dream.  Who will I vote for if it is Hillary Clinton vs.  Donald Trump?  I suppose Clinton and just turn the radio and television off for the next 4 or 8 years.