Friday, July 10, 2015

Are we done yet?

I stepped outside into the night air to see this fine mist of rain falling. Lit only by the glow of the security light, for just one second the rain looked to have a snowlike quality. I felt happy for just that second.
 Stop swearing at me, I like the snow.

Maybe it's not the snow nearly as much as the calm of it all.
Here we are in July already and the summer is really whizzing by (in my best goat voice).

All winter long Ohioans moan and groan about the snow and cold. Oh, the high hopes of what summer will bring. Everything will be perfect once the snow melts and the temperature rises about 65 degrees. Such pressure. Aside from gardening, which technically could be done during the winter and all year long, summer is not that big of a deal to this chick.This summer, my garden has been pitiful.

Weeds have overtaken and I'm okay with that.I did manage to harvest some chamomile flowers. For tea making this winter. They look like ordinary daisy flowers but this is chamomile. I probably have tons more out there in the sunshine waiting for me to pluck them. It could happen.

Two things have stuck with me as of late. First is this image.

How do you balance the battles of mind and heart? Intuition is a mysterious combination of the two if you ask me. I have spent a good deal of the summer surrounded by adults who I have little or no respect for. Not by choice of course, necessity as part of being a parent. A huge percentage of parents whom have children enrolled in sports are assholes. One doesn't have to be a psychologist to learn where all of these bullies in school are learning their dirty tricks. Just attend a local soccer game and you will see exactly where these little darlings get their skills. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Thus my battle of mind and heart. My brother (RIP) use to always say "kill 'em with kindness or baffle 'em with bullshit" Some people I just cannot muster up an ounce of kindness for these days. SO I'm fine tuning my bullshitting skills. Gawd, I'm too old to be learning new tricks.

Look pretty flowers....now read my whining words for a few minutes....

And look an adorable sleeping doggy. Yes, this little pup has my back. She's intuitive also. That's probably why all dogs go to heaven.
And look, fancy little baskets that I crocheted. A catch all basket, yes indeed.

The second thing that has stuck with me as of late. A quote I read on a church bulletin board.
"One person with courage makes a majority"
 Trust me, I was shocked to read something that profound on a church board too. Usually the words are one of fear, and punishment but this particular quote was timely and applicable in my life.

The whole brain and heart thing. Sometimes my brain tells me to shut my mouth and play it cool. But other times my heart just grabs hold and I can't hold back speaking my opinion as a matter of heart. I will never back down when I see children being ridiculed or belittled all for the sake of a sport. Come on...really. It's not like these kids have a matter of life or death hanging in the balance and it's okay to scream at them to perform perform perform. It's a sport!
 So, as you can see this lovely summer... when everything is suppose to be perfect... now that nice weather has arrived... I found myself sitting at softball fields surrounded by thoughtless reckless people.
For the most part I was the minority. If anyone agreed with me and my stand against the debauchery, no one had my back. Not even my Mister. Which disappoints me the most. However, I feel like my brief moment of courage to stand up and stand my ground made me the majority.

And look, we caught fish. Happy little fishes. Which were caught and released.
The poofy white clouds of summer surely must mean everything is okay and the world is filled with sunshine and lollipops.

Forget it, I know better. But at least when the snow is falling Ohioans are too busy complaining about the snow and no one has time to be snarky to another. When the snow is falling, I can hide inside with my cookbooks and crochet. I'm not anti-social. I just need people around me who are somewhat kind, refined and civilized.

I hope your summer is going well. Personally I'm ready for my jeans, a hoodie, and the smell of autumn leaves.

Let's bake snickerdoodles and fuhgetaboutit!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The days

I'm a proud single tasker. I don't "hurry up" and I'm fine with coasting through most of life.

This validates my single task lifestyle! Plus, there's other good stuff to be found here too.

Throw Back Thursday.

Remember the clank of the glass milk bottles in the metal crates as they were rolled down the hallway for milk break time in school. Peel back that foil lid on top of the bottle and serve that ice cold chocolate milk up with some iced animal crackers, yeah those were the days.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Anchor Bar in Buffalo New York

Chicken wings never go without love in our home. It's a big deal here in Ohio. Locally we have several restaurants that crank out a pretty good plate of deep fried poultry parts. That being said, if we are traveling through an area and hear of a spot which allegedly prepares good chicken wings, our car will go off the path and stop in to give a sample. This particular day we were within a few miles of the famous Anchor Bar in Buffalo New York.  The place where the wing craze all got started. I know Mister's darn glad that someone thought of it .So it might as well be from New York.
Skyline of Buffalo New York

  I could share the story of how it all happened and how this now wildly popular grub began but, you've heard that one before. If not, there are plenty of websites out there to give you the skinny and fill you in on the details. No history being offered up this time on Columbia Creations. Just food talk.

So here we are arriving to the destination. Mister is partial to the GPS but, I would throw that thing out of the window if I were driving. But, that's a rant best saved for another day. Upon arrival the first thing I take note is the building. It's well cared for and in surprising clean shape.
The bar crowd was basically non existent as we pulled up and parked right in front of the entrance. Inside we found the place to virtually be empty of customers, save what appeared to be a photo journalist and an old dude who was most likely a regular. It was barely noon. For this I was happy, crowds and booze are not my thing these days. Good food though, I have a close relationship with that. So my hopes were high.

The interior of the bar is as one would expect, a mix of motorcycles, (yes actual motorcycles) and various license plates nailed to the wall. Again, it's a clean place. I'm old school and tend to judge a food establishment partially on their restroom upkeep.
We took a seat at the bar, ordered our unsweetened iced teas and started up some friendly banter with the bar keep. She shared a few stories of the famous folks that she has served. Pleasant.
Mister looking at the menu, as if he was going to order any thing but wings...ppplease

I took the suggestion of the wing soup and Mister ordered clam chowder. Our server described the wing soup and listed the following ingredients, cream cheese, bleu cheese, medium wing sauce, chicken, cream of celery soup, and parmesan cheese. I was pretty sure I could chuck all of those ingredients together and come up with something edible so I gave it a whirl.
Mister's clam chowder was superior to my choice but, it wasn't Boston chowda that's for sure. Nothing fantastic or note worthy here. In fact my choice was ehh kinda peculiar but hey I do like a Premium saltine cracker so, those went into my purse. You never know when you're on a road trip when that pack of saltines in the glove box might come in handy.

See, I told you Mister was going to order those wings. Mild with a side of medium. I could have said the words before they rolled from his lips. We have become that couple who can order food for one another without asking.

Me, the turkey club. Three things I am certain to order if they are on the menu, soup, cottage cheese, or anything with bacon. No, not all three of them but at least one of them. I'm also partial to applesauce but that's usually on the kids menu. Cottage cheese is getting harder and harder to find on menu these days. I'm from Ohio, we like our dairy.
Turkey Club done right. On wheat please.
A handful of customers had arrived by the time we finished our meal. The old dude was on his 3rd beer and my eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting. Are you just dying to know how the wings were? Well they were fantastic. Perfectly cooked, meaty but not insanely jumbo and stringy. Just the perfect little wing.

My favorite wing spot up this point had been Zembie's in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Maybe it was the knowledge that the wing craze all started here at the Anchor Bar or maybe it was the charm of the old dude sipping his booze, I dunno. The Anchor Bar wings were very satisfying. My turkey club was decent too. Zembie's will still hold out as a favorite place to dine while traveling. I'm glad we have a new favorite to add to our list. Go out of your way to stop by and get a taste of those Buffalo Wings. The original.

Most of the turkey club sandwich left the building with me in a styrofoam container. 

That was the extent of our visit to Buffalo New York. A little drive by eating and we were out of there. I'm sure the city has many other interesting things to offer. Our mission that day was wings and wings alone. This was a slight detour that our car made which turned out okay. Trust me when I say there are plenty of bad food service choices out there when traveling. It's always good to know where the good places lurk.

Happy travels.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Peace Field Homes of the Adams

The 2nd President of the United States John Adams (also the first vice president) and his wife Abigail lived in this home.




 In fact the 6th President of the United States John Quincy Adams also called this structure home. John Quincy Adams was a man who was surely groomed from a young age to become the leader of our country. His mother Abigail Adams was a determined woman to say the least. Just as the old adage goes, Abigail was the great woman behind both men, her husband and her son.

The house originally was quite smaller. Built in 1731.  The additions over time turned the home into quite an interesting series of rooms and hallways. In this photograph you can see the brick structure of the house as it existed when John and Abigail purchased the home in 1787 and also visible are the additions, several were done by the family over the years. The purchase of the home was made sight unseen, as the Adams were in England at the time. Upon their arrival home Abigail was displeased with the house. The ceilings were too low. Having been spoiled by the grand architecture abroad she sought to have the ceilings raised. This was an impossible feat so instead this crafty lady had the floor lowered. A problem solver she was. The family remained in the home for many generations until 1946 when the home was given to the United States by the Adams family.
Check out the abundant Wisteria growing on many areas of the home. The sweet smell of blooms filled the air during our brief visit. Mixed with the scent of Lilac. The Lilac bushes were in full bloom as well. Actually the smell of the Wisteria to me is one of a smokey lilac scent.



As we arrived by trolley, transportation  provided by the National Historical Park Service, I noted the lush peaceful feel of the tree canopies first.
Speaking of trees, being the geek that I am, I was thrilled to photograph and see this tree in the photo below. A rare Yellowwood Tree which was planted by John Adams. His interest in gardening and composting must have been an experience he shared with other men of his times. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were superior gardener/farmers.

Our tour guide was well versed and offered many interesting facts. She answered questions with cheer and shared the story of how John Adams in his green thumb enthusiasm had started  his plants in Abigail's Waterford Crystal bowls. On display in the home is one such bowl. It sits there mocking with a crack caused by a tree root. A tree started in the bowl. I'm certain this must have made Abigail fume.


More time wandering around the grounds at Peace Field would have been nice. Sometimes when I'm a weary traveler in a robotic like state I just follow the tour guide and soak in the quid pro quo, taking the nickle tour without venturing off and exploring on my own. Still it's amazing to know this tree has stood the hands of time and appears to be thriving with the help of a crutch. Even from a distance it was a crown jewel.
Another area I would have happily lollygagged about was the library. A seperate building
on the grounds which houses over 14,000 books, books once belonging to both Presidents and their family. How sad that photographs are not allowed inside of the buildings. I understand why. The very selfish side of me wanted to have my own images of the visit. My interpretation of the area. My time spent there. Captured through my photography. Alas, this is the best I have to offer. Exterior photographs of the fantastic place which houses marvelous things.




Oh how I would love to provide you with visuals of the 8,000 original items in the home. Items that once belonged to this under appreciated and fascinating family. Of note to me particularly were the plates and dishware on display. As I stood there admiring them, it was intriguing to know, right there... in front of me...  were the very plates these patriots ate their meals from. It was of great note to know Abigail survived, fed her family, and helped to run the family farm from the money she earned selling dishware. John Adams would ship the dishes to her from overseas and she would sell them to the farmers wives and folks in her quaint area. Abigail persevered despite the grief in her life from the death of her children, long separations from her husband, famines and disease. Among the original items in the home is also an afghan hand knitted by none other than Abigail Adams herself. It's a lovely white throw which makes up a bed in the upstairs bedroom. Almost within reach, but of course, one wouldn't dare touch it. The pattern was of a close, tight knit and looked complicated. Sorry folks no photo. The afghan exists there though, trust me. Go see for yourself. I could go on and on and tell you of the desk belonging to John Adams, the elaborate bell system rigged up through up the home to summon the Irish maids and servants to various rooms. I will go back one day and allow myself to soak in different aspects of this detailed place.

Just as I found Lucy Hayes and Mamie Eisenhower to be of great interest while touring their presidential homes, Abigail Adams with her great strength and determination was of equal fascination as I wandered about Peace Field in Quincy, Massachusetts.

One by one, I hope to tour at least the library or the home of every U.S. President. The Adams homes, gardens, and library offered a unique proposition in that I would be able to place a check mark beside two Presidents names as having seen their domiciles. As John Adams and John Quincy Adams both resided in the same place. The park rangers do a great job on the tour. I believe in the short time period allowed for each tour the information was as detailed as possible. Yet, it was a bit like trying to celebrate two of your children's birthdays in the same afternoon. Neither President seemed to have their glory moment along the tour. I found myself bouncing from persona to persona trying to decipher who the guide was referring to.

Our tour began at the birthplace of John Adams. Pictured below. John was born in the upstairs right hand window. The interior of the home is what I've come to expect. Bare, simple, basic things. A fireplace for warmth and cooking. A desk, a chair. Sparse to say the least. The birthplace home is in need of restoration. The home is only about 20 percent of the original building although as renovations have taken place over the years, proper time period materials have been used. This portion of the tour was brief and is in a different section of town than the house at Peace Field (also referred to as the Old House)

As the visitor is looking at this home, one needs to merely turn around and there stands behind the visitor the birth place of John Quincy Adams home. Pictured below.


It was here that John Adams with the help his wife, truly launched his career as an attorney. His children were born in this house, his wife labored and toil and kept the home fires burning as he spent most of his days and nights in the city of Boston.

We know the stories of our country, the war, the documents, the meetings and the men. As I visit these presidential houses each time without fail the story left with me is one of home. Just like my home. The meals and how they are prepared. The gardens, flowers, and certainly their ideas of entertainment.

Find out if the National Historical Park Service has a Presidential home or library near you. It's worth the drive.  A true feeling of our history can be felt and understood on a deeper level with one step onto the property of these great leaders. Despite your politics there's no denying the level of hard work which surely merits respect for the title and office and President of the United States.

Get on the Bus Gus....


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Less

Asparagus has popped up! This is our first year of being able to harvest this tasty vegetable. I wasn't sure what to expect.The tiny and barely above soil sprout can grow several inches in an afternoon. The stalk shown in this photo was ready to harvest by dinner time. I won't say that we've had a bumper crop or anything, though it's been very satisfying to spy them here and there in the asparagus bed.
Fresh cut from the yard to the table asparagus is amazing, and that is all. 
Olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Simple. Delicious.


And then there was this day. Flying kites. Ohio springtime and kite flying go hand in hand.

Is it just me or Flying a kite is a feeling of freedom. I love being connected to the kite via that thin little line of string and feeling the wind tug and whip. It's the closest thing to flying while your feet are still on the ground.

Yes, yes, I know, anymore stained glass windows in my house and I'm gonna have people showing up on Sundays looking for a hymnal and the offering plate. Never mind that business, the window on the right is portable and can be moved from window to window in our house. The door however is staying forever in that location. I love the peaceful feel.

I suppose you are wondering if I'm ever going to post another recipe. I certainly am wondering. There's something about red highlights added to your hair that makes you wonder about things. Like. If my hair gets really grey anytime soon would I do a total dye job? I don't think so. Being over half of a century old... if my hair isn't getting really grey yet then I might get by with just a highlight from time to time. This was my first addition of hair color in over 10 years so I was a little nervous. I like it though.
This little doggie is very camera shy. It's a rarity for her to make eye contact with me when I'm trying to take her photo.
This ham bone of pooch however, he loves the camera. Of course, he's old and loosing his sight. Good ole' Tucker Boy is 14.5 years old.

Not much new in the cooking world around here. I've been dabbling with crock pot recipes, to date there's been nothing outstanding to report on that subject. I did however bake a great cake known as a Hummingbird Cake. I was rather fond. You can find the recipe here. Designed to be served as a 3 layer cake, I frosted each layer separately and had 3 one layer cakes. One to eat and two to share.
No photos though.

Last year was a blur of a year and I'm certain that I aged way more than 12 months. This spring has me with less energy and frankly less desire to flit around the house and do spring cleaning. My single tasking lifestyle is more by necessity than by choice.

I hope you're enjoying a lovely day wherever you are. Being productive includes things like kite flying and taking naps. Never underestimate the power of less.











Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's finished

Hanging a little cock eyed, and the photo is a little off centered. You get the idea though. My first big stained glass project is complete. Yippee!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hello

My flea market fever is creeping up on me as winter drags it's evil feet out the door. Our local second hand shops have been stocking their shelves with new items which have been purchased from department stores and then re-shelved at the likes of the Goodwill. All winter long I've dreamed of the flea market scene. Slim pickin's at the local secondhand stores around here.

I'm not sure who is involved in the restructuring of our area Goodwill stores. I will say, "I'm not impressed". The prices are outrageous. The "new" items that they have stocked can just as easily be found at a dollar store for far less than the Goodwill prices. My last 3 shopping trips to what was once a favorite secondhand store has found me leaving empty handed. Bummer.

Selling stuff at the flea market is just as exhilarating as shopping and find a gem. I've been stock- piling this winter and have a nice bounty to peddle at a few sales this summer. The gypsy wagon shall roll again!!

We had a slight break in the cold last week. Red potatoes went in the ground. Leftover from last years harvest and covered in 8 inch sprouts, seemed a shame to not give them a chance at a second go around. I'm hopeful their efforts won't go to waste and the planting will suceed. Also, two types of peas were planted. Of course....peas!!
No sign of asparagus yet. I have flea market fever and asparagus anticipation.
Crocheting has kept me within decent boundaries of sanity.
Stained glass window project number one is hours away from completion and projects two and three are in the works.
Isn't that just like the month of March? Hurry up and wait. I have many unfinished projects that are waiting in the wings for sunshine and blue skies.
Another winter in the books! Hip hip Hooray.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Another Day In Paradise

Fellow frozen friends of the North Coast, what have you been doing? For anyone who hasn't seen a weather forecast lately I can sum it up very quickly for you. Damned cold, frigid freezing air with full-on-too-cold to shiver existence.
 So I read
  Eye Candy Here
http://architecturalafterlife.com/  
Cool Ohio Stuff Here
http://ohio981.blogspot.com/
More Cool Ohio Stuff Here
http://moundbuilder.blogspot.com/
Great Attitude Here
http://youcancallmesue.blogspot.com/

Then I bake
I like it when the cookies crack around the edges. So, take that.


Then I crochet

It's a Hat, bad camera work but, I'm an amateur.
Then I have very low expectations for myself and those around me. It's okay. I won't whine and cry about the weather on this here little ole' blog. I'll just share with you how I am muddling my way through the days of February. Half way baby.
Fat Tuesday, I ate cake. Three pieces because I'm a fatty like that. And painted my nails.
Tomorrow, I am making a little money and actually working some. Then baking bread! Then reading and crocheting again. This is the song that doesn't end.

Stay toasty my friends!!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

February Ohio Sky



The vacant snow covered fields of Ohio are rarely graced with the warm sunshine. My skills of taking photographs as we cruise down the road at 60 MPH are not a fine tuned machine. Still though, you have to admit the sunshine is looking pretty good against that frozen landscape.
Thaw.
We have dogs so the use of salt to melt the ice and snow directly in their path is not a good idea. Plus when it's so freezing cold the salt doesn't work. I resorted to busting the ice on our back porch steps and basically chiseling a path for the poochies and salting the human foot path.
Melt.




Muddling the days of February is always a challenge. On the off chance that I'm out and about this time of year if I see the sun shining through the trees it's a photo worthy moment. I will admit that the color scheme of nature during the winter brings a peace. A nice quiet hush. Still, green fields and the smell of earth in the garden trumps over February's dignified staunch pose.
Motionless.

 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhogs Day

Will it be Punxsutawney Phil or Buckeye Chuck? I will take the spring forecast predicted by the later as he is foretelling an early spring. Groundhogs are snarly and vicious if provoked by humans so the folklore surrounding their credibility as soothsayer meteorologists seems desperate to me. I can't speak for other parts of the country but, here in Ohio we have had our fair share of snow. This isn't all that unusual nor are the freezing temperatures. So if Buckeye Chuck offers a glimmer of hope to an early spring then who am I to question the integrity of a rodent.

I baked a wonderful Pecan Pound Cake the other day. Then followed it up with an Ice Cream Cake Roll. Have you ever eaten one of those delicious ice cream cakes from the queen of dairys? I discovered a quick version of those wonderful chocolate crunchies layered in with the decadent fudge. As an application in my cake roll though, the result was less than great. The chocolate crunchies make for rough slicing. The cake roll pretty much turned into a crushed looking cake like thing when I served it but, the flavor was pretty good.
 I baked a basic chocolate cake roll in my jelly roll pan, followed the basic rule with cake rolls. With softened ice cream in hand, I slathered the entire roll with cookies and cream. At this point I should have left well enough alone but, I had to add those chocolate crunchies. The cake rolled up fine. It held it's shape while refreezing. Slicing this sucker was a nightmare though. The crunchies became so hard in the freezing process and the entire thing was a disaster. I will however use the crunchies again in a different layered situation.
 Sometimes home cooks just do not measure things. I am passing along the basic process and giving you some inspiration not providing an exact recipe.

One dark chocolate bar melted together with a few tablespoons of coconut oil in the microwave creates a product similar to the magic shell sold in the ice cream isle at your grocery store. Do this. Or buy Magic Shell.
 Crunch up Oreo cookies to a nice crumble. Use the entire cookie. Pour your melted chocolate and coconut oil mixture over the crumbles and stir together. It looks like a goopy mess but the great thing about coconut oil is the properties which make it harden as it cools. That's it. This ingredient might not have worked well in my cake roll but, I think it will be fantastic in a layered cake.

Ice cream in February, why yes, please and thank you!

Groundhogs Day 2015 just another day in paradise......

P.S. also known as whistle pigs