Wednesday, December 5, 2012

These are a few….

I have started a seasonal job.  I don’t know how long it will last, exactly.  The company is in retail, and so is consumer-driven.  I really like the work, the people and the superior ethics of the company.  I’ve worked exactly 9 days so far, and the first 5 was training.  I’m not kidding when I say it has been FUN!
Yesterday, when I got ready for work, I was listening to Maine Public Radio (<<<lUv>>>).  The classical music program was beginning and the first piece was a beautiful  arrangement of one of My Favorite Things – yes, the song from The Sound of Music.  I felt so blessed.  (Don’t tell my dogs, y’know, about the kitten thing.)
What are a few of your favorite things this Advent Season?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What’s new? What’s news?

This newspaper business was housed in a small building that looked like it may have been residential at one time…
Well, here’s what’s new with me.
The company I worked for continues to struggle in this economy, as well as the general growing pains that plague any new company in the first years.  In order to survive they have actually had to trim personnel.  And one of the trims was me.  Sigh….
Since then, we have had Hurricane Sandy, who helped us cull the weaker roof  shingles from the herd we keep on top of our house.  And brought down 3 or 4 trees and several branches.  So, not too much damage.  And the tree segments will be cut up for firewood, and all the stray branches broken up to be used for kindling.   One of the trees that came down was one my DH had been eyeing a couple of weekends ago when we did a big push fall clean-up in our yard.  So, I guess Sandy was a help to us, and not just a hindrance.  We lost power for 30 hours, but it was warm outside and we didn’t need heat anyway.  So we used candlelight and flashlights, and cooked things that were in the freezer on our propane grill outside.  I had had the boys bring it up on the screen porch before the storm, amid their protests that it could stay right where it was.  They complied when I asked which one of them was willing to stand at the grill in the rain when there was cooking to be done.  (I mention my small inconveniences very carefully.  I am hoping not to sound complaining when we got off so lightly compared to the damage and loss Sandy wrought on so many in NY and NJ and thereabouts.  As I’m sure you are, I am keeping them in my prayers,
And, of course, like everyone, we have had the excitement of a contentious presidential election.  I don’t know how much of our Senatorial election has made news in your area.  But one of our beloved Senators who has been in Washington for years (Olympia Snowe – I even love her name—suggests a wise guru on a mountaintop) had decided not to run for re-election, specifically citing the frustration of grid-lock and divisiveness in the Senate.  We, as a state have replaced her with our former governor, Angus King (another interesting name –  I heard a comic make reference to a Burger King menu item!), who is an Independent.  I was hoping that the election would clear the air of the negativity, and bring a new resolve to get along and get some work done.  I think that has happened to some degree,  but in my world, there are some who are not ready to let go of what for them was a crusade of sorts.  Now, in defeat, there is a funereal air pervading each day.  Please don’t make any assumptions about my political persuasions.  I of course had a preferred Presidential candidate, but I could be content with either outcome, because I know that God is in control, and not constrained by who is in the U.S. White House.
I’m sorry of the lack of recent posts.  I have so much I want to post about, and I will do so as often as I can.  It will be difficult as I am in an all-out job search in a lousy job market.
So, what’s new with you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

You can stand a little more fall color, right?

Good!  Here are some more pics of our Sunday afternoon in Castine.DSCN1847
Hungry for lunch, we looked for a place to eat in Castine.  We had no idea how tiny and quiet a town it was.  Apparently most places were closed until next summer!
We stopped at this house because I wanted to take a picture of the ship, and when the yellow lab came out barking, the lady who lived there came out to see what all the racket was for, and then talked and talked, giving me hints on where we might try to get a bite. (Basically, 2 spots:  a sub sandwich counter at a gas pump, and a place she referred to as “The Variety”.) 
The ship was quite a surprise as we came upon it.  I knew that the Academy had a teaching ship, but truly I had no idea where to look for it.  We drove further and there it was!  They were changing companies.  Different groups of students inhabit the ship for a week or two at a time, and apparently they change on Saturday afternoon.DSCN1851
DSCN1852I don’t know what is inside the building on the left, but there was an observation deck on top, which was easily accessible, and from which point I took a few pictures, some of which I posted last time.
If you have exceptional eyesight, you can see the name “State of Maine” on the bow.  You can see the brick wall of the deck I’m standing on, and I just really loved the tugboat.  Wasn’t there a tugboat starring in a very old children’s book?  Anyway, that’s what it reminded me of.DSCN1855
We found The Variety and ate there.  I had a crab roll, Jeff had a haddock sandwich, and our only Maine-born boy (who won’t eat seafood) had a turkey club sandwich.
I met a couple of students who had just gotten off the ship, and came by The Variety for a slice of pizza.  They told me they didn’t mind if I included them in the picture (although I may have failed to mention that the pic might end up on my blog).  They are first-years, my Evan’s age, so I wanted to make sure they were eating right, studying hard and getting enough sleep.  But I didn’t.  Okay, maybe a little.  I did ask if they were homesick, but they aren’t really too far away from home.  And as future merchant marines, they had better not be homebodies – they’ll be traveling all over the world.
Inside, The Variety was tiny, and looked like it had once been a soda fountain/ice cream shoppe.  There were even those rotating stools at this counter.  There were about 4 tables in the place.  TiNy.
All the walls had that beautiful wood that you see behind the shelves.  It was heavily and beautifully oiled or something.  It reminded me of well-cared for yachts.   Ship-shape and all that.
Just a little more of Castine next time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Busy Weekend,…You?

So, when we talked last, I was having a rollercoaster type of a week.  (Thank you for the kind words in the comments.) Some of the challenge was what was going on around me, but sometimes I  think that what goes on in my head and heart determines how all the rest affects me.
So, like the rain falling in a Russian novel, perhaps all our rain and clouds and fog and mist and wind has had a cleansing effect on my outlook.

Sean’s last football game of the season was Saturday afternoon.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t bring my camera.  My sports shots are consistently terrible, but I’m sure I could have gotten a couple of worthwhile pictures.  Our team suffered a humiliating loss.  And it was against our traditional arch-rivals.  Ah, well…
On Sunday morning, instead of church, we drove up the Maine coast to Castine.  Evan plays “club” Lacrosse for University of Maine, and they were playing against Maine Maritime Academy.
Evan standing in his defense zone, watching a rare moment when our offense was pressuring the Mariners’ goal.
We had never been to Castine, and really knew precious little about the academy.  If you have never heard of a maritime academy, it is a college-type school to train students (I think they are called midshipmen?) how to run and navigate commercial vessels.   Like tankers and other huge ships.  They are not a military institution, but I get the impression that they are run somewhat like one.
We went directly to the LaX game, and were immediately struck by how small the campus is.  And it really looks no different to me than any other small New England liberal arts college.  Old brick buildings, ivy, gardens, students running around in athletic gear.  Well, and the occasional phalanx of uniformed, um, cadets? Midshipmen?  Whatever, you get the idea.
The game was unmitigated disaster for Evan’s team.  I’ll just say that Evan’s team did, in fact score (in the single digits).  And the MMA Mariners scored in the double digits.
We got only about a 5 min visit with him after the game, as their vans were hitting the road immediately to get back to Orono.
We drove around a bit, taking in the stately homes overlooking the river as it met the Atlantic.  Each one was picturesque.  It was partly cloudy, and the sun would peek between and around the dark saturated clouds, with startling frequency.
  You’d be warm and remove your jacket, and then the breeze would kick up, and the sun would be obscured and you’d put it back on.  The foliage is probably just past its peak, but it would come alive in the direct sunlight, to best advantage when it had clear blue sky for a backdrop.  Then in the overcast, the subtlety of the colors would yearn for your attention, and as your eyes adjusted, the texture and detail would gain prominence, lovely to behold.  You’d forget that the colors were supposed to be past peak, and you’d breathe in the crisp autumn musk and sigh.
And that was just part of the day!

More soon……

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Earth-Shattering News

Sometimes I feel like everything is just too much.  Just.  Too.  Much.
In the last 24 hours, some people I love dearly are facing a terribly difficult situation, and I find myself having been in nearly constant prayer for them.  And the situation has continued to evolve....
On the way home today, 3 different police vehicles sped by us on the turnpike on their way to?...Later as we neared home, a state trooper and another unmarked car sped by going in the opposite direction.  When we got home, and turned on the news, we learned that a man in a nearby town was in his burning home and shooting at police and firefighters who were trying to rescue him and put out the fire.  They were able to get his wife to safety, but further details are not yet available.
I started making supper, but felt this inexplicable tension (still do) and told myself that I am overtired (I already had my nightgown on), and therefore all the bad things had taken on too great a magnitude. 
As I overseasoned the ground beef for tacos, and forgot to start the rice I put in the microwave, I called my dear husband to come to the kitchen as I knew I needed a hug (good for what ails you!).  He sweetly complied and listened to me say that I just felt so burdened by the events of the last 24 hours, and besides which, I felt I should watch the debates tonight, even though I don't much want to.
We were hashing it all over, when suddenly we felt a jolt, like when one of our hulking adolescent-types throws himself around upstairs.  (I have no idea what they really do that shakes the house so.)  But this time was worse than "the usual" shennanigans -- were they body-slamming each other up there?
But the jolt had progressed to an audible and palpable rumble, like when huge construction heavy machinery is being used very nearby.
We looked at each other quizzically, and then heard the rattling and clinking of all the dishes in the cabinets, and indeed the cabinets suspended from the ceiling were jumping and vibrating!  It kept going, probably 10 seconds at the most, only this time it took about 10 minutes for all 10 of the seconds to click by.  We went to look out on the front lawn, only to discover that a space ship hadn't landed there.   Both boys emerged from their rooms to find out what the heck?.....  They each report that upstairs they could really feel the house moving.
We had had an earthquake!  4.6 magnitude. Not terribly common in Maine.  We are 23 miles from the epicenter, and ironically only a few miles from where the police are dealing with a burning house and a standoff with an occupant.
I ask you, do earthquakes mess with a person's sense of well-being?  It sure seems like it from where I sit.
I sure hope all is stable where you are.  I'm going to kill yet another stink-bug who is mistaken that my wall is a safe haven from the oncoming winter.  I probably shouldn't have painted them green.
And then I'll need to decide if I can stand to watch the debate.......

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oh, you meant the Layer Cake!

This is just a gratuitous picture I took on Monday.  It was overcast and a little rainy at times, so I set up on the back screen porch to take advantage of what natural light was available.  There are some vintage thrifted items here of which I am fond.  Front and center is the Japanese Lustreware Sugar Bowl.  No lid, but I couldn’t leave it as I found the shape so appealing, the color so fall-ish, and I remember thinking it reminded me of a pumpkin, and it is in quite perfect condition.  I’m not above cutting out little paper jack-o-lantern facial features and sticking them on.  Hmmm… and maybe filling it with candy corn!  (If you find yourself falling for it, I listed it in my Etsy shop.)  I think I may have mentioned (maybe once or twice?) that I love old kitchen items, so of course it was love at first sight  when I found the small milk glass mixing bowl (it has a pour spout) with the iconic Art Deco parallel raised edges (think “echo”).  I don’t know if the grater is really very old, but it is very heavy, like the older ones.  Of course the milk bottle has the distinction of having my personal monogram on it!  Almost like the one I wear on my chest (no, not the Scarlet one).  And finally, that lovely dinner plate.  That is the Taylor Smith Taylor Brocatelle pattern.  I don’t know when it was designed, I just know I like it for the pretty little images, and the soft colors.  I had picked up dessert plates several months ago, and had never seen anymore pieces until last week.  Just one plate, and now it’s mine.  Doesn’t it look great with lustreware?  And it goes well with green or brown transferware.  With only limited pieces, I have to look for ways to mix and match.  Not that you’d notice, but the whole arrangement is on a new-to-me thrifted bread board.  I’ve been making bread for about a year, and wanted a bread board like my mother’s.  But I never see them in stores.  Well, except now in the Goodwill outlet.  Yippee!
I’m a sucker for pretty home dec and entertaining magazines, with their glossy styled photographs.  Some days I think I should be a Southern Lady, and for one year I had a subscription to the mag.  I start to drawl (and drool) while I’m reading one.
I think Phyllis Hoffman is the Southern Martha S.  She has Victoria, Southern Lady, Tea Time, and probably some others.  I couldn’t resist the Celebrate Autumn one.
DSCN1689How could I with that crazy cake on the cover?  We have one late September birthday and a mid-October one.  Surely, we could enjoy a new cake recipe this month.  This cake is why I had leftover buttermilk and caramel topping sauce to use on the coffee cake.DSCN1690DSCN1691
I had to show you what was left of the cake, even though much of the caramel frosting had slid off.  (My fault:  I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to consistency when I was making it, I added more milk than called for, and guesstimated the volume on the caramel sauce).  I am showing the jar, because the recipe mentions using Smucker’s, and I was feeling a little virtuous about using a lesser-known brand, Mrs. Richardson’s.  It was priced less and had more!  I really couldn’t tell you how it compared in taste, consistency and appearance.   That would require a side-by-side taste test.  Gee, that could be fun. I was supposed to make milk chocolate curls.  I don’t have any idea how to do that.  Anyway, I used Baker’s Semi-sweet chocolate, which just broke right up as we tried to shave it, so it is “flakes” instead of “curls”.  But the taste was perfect.
If you run into this magazine, it is worth the price.  Lots more recipes, great table and serving suggestions.  Gorgeous pictures.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I am so glad you asked….

About Sunday’s coffee cake.DSCN1676
You see it gives me a chance to blog about Grammie’s cookbook.
Remember here when I thought her cookbook might be the one in the picture?  Well, it is.DSCN1677
Only hers was a working copy, as you can see.
Let me show you  some evidence of its working life.  There was this little tri-fold pamphlet advertising coming movie attractions inside the front cover.DSCN1678
My parents’ hometown is a little hard to find.  It’s tiny and far into Maine’s western mountains, near the Canadian border.  There isn’t a movie theater now, but in the days before television was available in remote areas, entertainment was cultivated within the community.  I have heard stories of movies and Saturday night community dances.  My grandmother helped arrange some of the dances, I’ve heard.
Here is what was playing:DSCN1679

These movies, for the most part, were released in 1951, two of them in 1952, and a quick check of the 1952 calendar to see if the days of the week matched the date and I confirmed that this advert was from Spring 1952.  I’ve heard of most of the stars, but I’m disappointed to say that I haven’t seen any of the movies on TCM.  Maybe “Samson and Delilah”.DSCN1681
This little cookbook is geared to baking, no surprise since it was put out by General Foods. DSCN1684
It was an opportunity for them to promote their products.
And to educate the home baker; after all, successful consumer baking means healthy sales of baking products, right?  (Those Madison Avenue-types can’t fool me.)DSCN1698DSCN1685Here’s the recipe I made.   Well, with a few tweaks.DSCN1672
I had a little buttermilk and some caramel syrup left from a cake I tried on Thursday.  So, I worked it in.DSCN1686
I substituted about 3/4 cup buttermilk for the 1/2 cup milk.  And I had about 1/3 cup caramel syrup.  I warmed it with the butter to spread over the top of the dough.  Then I sprinkled a few chopped walnuts over the sugar-flour-cinnamon topping.  It took a little longer to bake than I thought it would – does buttermilk do that?  But it was yummy!
I especially like the way they spell out the techniques for those of us who will always be learning.DSCN1687
Give the recipe a try!  But don’t forget: 
It’s A Wise
Woman Who Knows Her Baking Rules!