Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Meditation

Trees are sanctuaries.  Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to 
listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach
undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

-  Hermann Hesse,  Wandering

Friday, July 29, 2016

July Poetry

"Mosquito is out,
it's the end of the day;
she's humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it's the nature of things."
-  N. M. Boedecker, Midsummer Night Itch 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Birds on Galveston Island

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

Joe and I will sometimes go for many months without going to a theater to see a movie, mostly because there is nothing showing that we want to see. This month, though, we have seen two. First we went to see Ghostbusters.  I had really looked forward to seeing it and having a good laugh.  As we were watching, and eating our hot dogs, I kept waiting for it to get funny and it just never did.  The best I can say is that it was mildly amusing.  A disappointment.  The second movie was Star Trek Beyond.  My DD had seen it and was less than impressed so I went with lowered expectations. Maybe it was the lowered expectations, but I found it surprisingly good.  There was, of course, way more Boom-Blast-Zap-Argh-Oomph than I would have preferred, but it was very entertaining. And it gave me another opportunity to eat another thoroughly not good for me movie hot dog.  

I watched Monday night's DNC and loved all three speakers. Michelle Obama was beautiful and intelligent and gracious, as always.  Elizabeth Warren, well, she is so real and down to earth and intelligent and spunky that I just love her; maybe the second woman to be POTUS?  And last my dear, rabble-rousing Socialist, Bernie.  He just said all that needed to be said with such utter conviction that I had tears in my eyes.  What a Senate Majority Leader he could be! I missed Bill Clinton's speech and the others on Tuesday, but I sure won't miss President Obama this evening.  Oh how I am going to miss his steady leadership! (If you can't be civil, please don't leave a comment.)

Lots of Gulf Fritillaries this week, a couple of Monarchs, one swallowtail, and lots of skippers.  I'm having to put fresh water in the birdbaths twice daily and fill up the hummingbird feeders twice a week.  Nothing out of the ordinary in the bird category.  
We got some much needed rain which also cooled the temperature down.  

I have decided to move my blog to TypePad, probably over the weekend or the first of next week.  I'd rather not have to do this but I cannot get any help from Blogger about the photo problem and I am tired of not being able to post new photos. 

So that's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats nap in the afternoon and so do the people.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Slow Cooker Risotto

Why didn't I think of this years ago!
This is from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea.  I love risotto but haven't the patience to babysit it while it cooks the regular way. Enter slow cooker risotto! Delicious, smooth and creamy, and no constant stirring! 

5 garlic cloves, chopped (less if you aren't a fan)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup raw Arborio rice
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup dry white wine 
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Use a 4-quart slow cooker.  Sauté the garlic with the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until the garlic softens.  Scrape garlic and oil into the slow cooker.  
Add the uncooked Arborio rice and toss. Add the seasonings, pour in the broth and white wine. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours, or until the rice is tender. 
Stir in shredded Parmesan cheese, and let the risotto stand with the lid off for 15 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July Meditation

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

-  John Burroughs

July Poetry

"That beautiful season the Summer! 
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; 
And the landscape 
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, July 22, 2016

Goals for the Week of July 24-30, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading 
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

     32 oz. water daily
     2 fruits daily
     Exercise DVD daily 

     Finish Scrap 9-Patch top

      Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea
     An Amish Kitchen by Beth Wiseman
     Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
     The Bird: A Natural History by Colin Tudge

     Macaroni and Cheese 
     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn on the Cob
     Beef and Barley Soup
     Spaghetti and Meatballs 
     German Chocolate Cake for Paul's BD Party

     Order front door wreath
     Clean out guest bedroom closet

     Paul's BD Party

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July Poetry

"The linden, in the fervors of July,
Hums with a louder concert. When the wind
Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,
As when some master-hand exulting sweeps
The keys of some great organ, ye give forth
The music of the woodland depths, a hymn
Of gladness and of thanks."
-  William Cullen Bryant, Among the Trees 

July Meditation

In wilderness people can find the silence and the solitude
and the noncivilized surroundings that can connect them
once again to their evolutionary heritage, and through an
experience of the eternal mystery, can give them a sense
of the sacredness of all creation.

-   Sigurd Olson (1899-1982)

July Poetry

"The linden, in the fervors of July,
Hums with a louder concert. When the wind
Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,
As when some master-hand exulting sweeps
The keys of some great organ, ye give forth
The music of the woodland depths, a hymn
Of gladness and of thanks."
-  William Cullen Bryant, Among the Trees 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

For the past 3 years we have gone to the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission, TX the last weekend in October. It has been so much fun to be around a lot of people who are interested in butterflies and birds. We have gone on field trips and JMM took a class on butterfly photography once. I was really looking forward to it again this year.  This morning I set about doing the registration and checking on what classes or field trips we wanted to attend. Much to my dismay, rather than picking and paying for the activities that we wanted to participate in, there is a flat fee of $275 per person which allows you to attend any of the activities. To make matters worse, I have a disability and there is nothing outside the National Butterfly Center that I can attend and JMM wasn't pleased that he would have to leave me to attend any of the field trips. Long story short, $550 is just too much money for not enough activities for both of us.  Instead, we will take a trip on our own to the Rio Grande Valley in November and do our own field trips.  This also means that I can attend the Houston International Quilt Festival since it is always the same weekend as the Butterfly Festival. 

Sunday afternoon we went to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts to see a film about an exhibit of paintings by Vermeer at the National Gallery, London. The exhibit emphasized the place of music in his paintings.  I learned that there are only 36 paintings by Vermeer of the about 50 he produced.  He died virtually penniless.  

Hot, hot, hot!  It has been 95-96 degrees every day for the past 10 days. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast in the days before air-conditioning and it was no picnic.  I remember once the church placed large blocks of ice with fans blowing over them to make the sanctuary more bearable. Didn't help. We had hand held paper fans from various funeral parlors to fan ourselves during the church service. Helped a little. We had an attic fan in our very first house and it was wonderful; it honestly kept the house pleasant at night.  However, it did draw in tons of pollen which was bad for allergies.  

All the swallow babies have flown. Finally, I can get the porches cleaned! We have almost no butterflies. We have a pair of woodpeckers and a pair of hummingbirds, and the usual cardinals, mockingbirds, bluejays, and an unknown wren. The fields are ripening: the rice is beginning to turn golden, the sorghum is a gorgeous rusty red-brown, the cotton is green with white fluffs, and the hay is ready for a second cutting. Beautiful.  

I want to see Ghostbusters II. I'm in need of a good belly laugh. Loved the original Ghostbusters!

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are belly up sound asleep and the people have to walk around them. 


My favorite way to eat hummus is with raw veggies--carrots, celery, bell pepper.  Spread on pita chips is good too.  This is my go to meal for too-hot-to-cook days. 

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 clove garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper

Process all in a food processor until smooth, scrapping down sides with a spatula as needed. 
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to meld flavors. 
Before serving, bring to room temperature, and drizzle with olive oil. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

July Meditation

The inability to stay quiet is one 
of the conspicuous failings of mankind.

-  Walter Bagehot, 1870 

Friday, July 8, 2016

July Poetry

"Along the river's summer walk,
The withered tufts of asters nod;
And trembles on its arid stalk
the hoar plum of the golden-rod."
-  John Greenleaf Whittier

July Goals

     Daily Bible Reading
     Prayer by Richard Foster

     Healthy Breakfast
     Exercise DVD

     Finish Scrap 9-Patch top

     My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
     The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon

     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Steak, GMP, GB
     Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

     Order new wreath for front door
     Clean front porch

     MFAH - Film on Vermeer

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July Cooking --Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

This recipe is slightly modified from Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen.   This is my go to book for slow cooker recipes.  I recommend it highly for its soups and stews.  

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 large onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 - 3 medium red potatoes, diced 
4 carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup fresh parsley

Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken on both sides about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl. 

Add 1 more tablespoon oil to pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion, garlic, tomato paste, potatoes, carrots and thyme and cook 8 minutes until onions are slightly browned. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Add remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves. Nestle browned chicken and any accumulated juices into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.  During last hour of cooking, add peas. 

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred on a cutting board and return to slow cooker. Add parsley and adjust salt and pepper if needed. 

Makes great leftovers. 

July Meditation

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden,
but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.
-   Minnie Aumonier

July Poetry

"In lang, lang days o' simmer, 
When the clear and cloudless sky 
Refuses ae weep drap o' rain 
To Nature parched and dry, 
The genial night, wi' balmy breath, 
Gars verdue, spring anew, 
An' ilka blade o' grass 
Keps its ain drap o' dew." 
-  James Ballantine