Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crock Pot Day!

Today started out as one of those chilly, fall, Saturday mornings, with the sun tucked behind the clouds, and me wanting to spend the day cozied up in bed. However, life usually does not work out that way. Instead, it began with homemade pancakes per Taylor's request. They were nothing fancy ~ my grandfather's recipe topped with mixed apples and oranges and a drizzle of maple syrup.

That was the beginning.

After breakfast, the sun had begun to climb its way out from behind those clouds. While I still wanted to throw myself on the couch, curl up under a blanket, and work on my new crochet project, my list of must do's began to bombard my thoughts and I realized I must continue on.

It was
Crock Pot Day!

In the first crock we have Sunday Church Fellowship dinner. Since tomorrow is "Mexican" I am making chicken for tacos. This was really simple to prepare and a good alternative to hamburger taco meat. All I did was take boneless/skinless chicken breast (two family size packages), trim the fat, put it in the crock pot, cover it with some taco seasoning and about a half cup of water . I set the pot to low and let it cook for five hours. After the cooking time was finished, I turned off the pot and removed the lid to let it cool a bit before I drained the broth (which I will use in a soup later- YUM!). Then I shredded the chicken. Since we won't actually be eating this until tomorrow, I added taco seasoning, enough for the amount of meat I had, and water to make it a little soupy. It is sitting in the fridge now waiting to be heated up in the morning. Since I have never made chicken tacos like this before I am hoping it works!! Fingers crossed.  ;-) 

In the second pot I cooked up some meat sauce and meatballs. Now, I would like to be able to give you a complete recipe, but as with most of my cooking I don't do too much measuring. I mostly eyeball my ingredients and taste as I go! Simply, my sauce has tomatoes (crushed and puree) and cooked hamburger seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Today I opted for garlic and onion powder, but there are times when I use fresh. This was just the easier option for the day. To the tomato-meat mixture I added salt, pepper, basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and sugar. The heat was set to low and I let it cook for about 5 hours.
After the sauce was prepped I made some meatballs. My meatballs are my other grandfather's recipe (adjusted slightly because, don't forget, I don't measure my ingredients). Once they were baked I added them to the meat sauce for extra flavor.

Now if I was all together with it, I would have taken photos of both the chicken and our pasta & meatball dinner. But alas, I did not! Rest assured, the sauce and meatballs were delicious and well... we'll have to wait and see about the chicken tacos.

I did not get to snuggle up under that blanket today, but I did get to work on my crocheted hat for a bit in between tasks and plan on picking it back up once I finish this blog post.
All in all, a good and productive day!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

One of Those Rare Moments. Drink it in.

Our family recently took a day trip into Dutchess County to visit some of Chris's and my old stomping grounds. When we were much younger, I attended Marist College and we enjoyed visiting landmarks like Vanderbilt and Mills Mansions, as well as the historic towns of Hyde Park, Rhinebeck, and Redhook. It had been years since we had been down to that area and there were many sites the girls hadn't gotten to see or were too young to remember. 

We spent the day taking senior photos of Ariana as well as some great candids of Taylor and Chris. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), Taylor was able to get a few pictures of me with my Droid. 

 Our first stop was Vanderbilt which was one of our favorite places to visit back in the day. Chris dubbed it our 'summer home' in a Facebook post with a response of self-invites to come and visit us from our friends. The house is incredible and the grounds are stunning with its beautiful gardens and magnificent Hudson River view.

  I thought this would be the best place to get some great shots of Ariana and I was not disappointed. We walked and talked and enjoyed each others company, which does not come as readily as it used to as our daughters are getting older and busyness with all our schedules is near constant.

 We then drove down to Poughkeepsie to show the girls the college I attended for a time. Ariana is beginning her first semester next year on a small commuter campus and I wanted her to see what a larger college campus looks like as she starts this new journey in her life. The one thing I adore about Marist are the stone buildings that overlook the Hudson. It is a beautiful campus. I wish I would have immersed myself into all the college had to offer when I was a student there.

We turned directions and began our jaunt back north, stopping at Mills Mansion along the way, where upon walking up to the massive home my shoe broke. Despite my little setback we continued our walk on the grounds, the girls joining me in barefootedness. This too is a beautiful property with long sloping grounds that bring you down to another amazing view of the Hudson River. We took some more photos of Ariana and Taylor before heading out towards Rhinebeck.

Many of you probably remember when Chelsea Clinton was married a few years back. Her location of choice to celebrate her marriage was in the village of Rhinebeck. There is a quaint charm to this historic village with a number of antique venues along the main drag. Cozy, artsy shops and delicious eateries make this a wonderful destination for many throughout the year. One location we have frequented a number of times is an old church building converted into a restaurant. The first time we went, they served stone oven baked pizzas and we fell in love. Upon our return, the menu had changed under new ownership. Now known as the Terrapin Restaurant, delicious dishes made from fresh produce from local markets is served there. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. 

It was a spectacular day as evidenced by Chris asking me (easily a dozen times) "Have I told you how much I enjoyed our day?" We didn't travel to some distant fairy tale land, we didn't take in a heart-stopping show, we didn't dine at the most elegant restaurant. However, it was a magical day for us - one of those rare moments you wish you could bottle up, then pour out and drink in over and over again. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I live in a Catskill wonderland ~ surrounded by emerald green giants, rolling mountaintops, flowing beds of water, green garden landscapes ~ all in the midst of quaint little towns. As I drive in to Cairo (sounds like 'care-o') one of my most favorite views appears while crossing Catskill Creek. After a good rain in the summer, the river runs quickly enough to produce a little white water as it flows over the jagged rock bed. Majesty reveals itself as you look down the glen and up to the mountains. It is a quick peek as I drive across and I often wish an Adirondack chair was positioned right there on the bridge so I could sit and drink in the spectacular scene along with a glass of iced tea.

Many times this summer we have seen newly born fawn following their mother from one side of the road to the other. At different times we've had a pair of twins frolicking in our back yard, tagging along behind their mother from our yard to the neighbor's as they graze on clover and wild oregano and everything else growing. What else says natural wonderland than frolicking Bambi munching on clover?

Sunsets along the Hudson, sunsets on the mountain, sunsets driving down Route 23. Pinks, oranges, and purples flood the sky and drape themselves over the mountain ridge. The sights here are limitless and I love being surrounded by them all.

However, I can not say that I am quite as fond of the tiny, pesty critters we are infested with. When I work in my yard, I come in and check for ticks. When we go for a hike in the woods, we come in and check for ticks. If we go camping on the mountain, we check for ticks. If we walk down to the creek, we check for ticks. We have two dogs, we check for ticks. Though we check they still slip by. Sure its nice and easy to find an adult on you, but the larva and nymphs can be tiny and hard to detect.

 So..... Lyme. Not much fun, for sure. Nausea, fatique, aching joints. I am thankful that we caught it early. Hard to miss the huge bullseye on my back. Thankful there is an antibiotic for the infection. Not so thankful that it makes me feel sick.

Lessons being learned now:
I have to slow down for a few more weeks,
I have to pace myself,
and I have to remember that the world is not going to crumble
if I am not doing everything I am "supposed" to be doing. 
the world will not come to an end
 But I AM going stir crazy and I'm ready to get moving again. 
Oh boy, these are hard lessons to learn!

Maybe the best thing for me to do is set up my hammock,
grab that iced tea, read a good book,  
and enjoy that wonderland I love so much.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Is Less Really More?

How do we escape the bonds of food? It is one of my weak spots as I like to cook and bake. Mostly, though, I really just love to eat what I cook and bake. Today alone I baked a batch of banana muffins and two loaves of banana bread, sourdough is rising, my tomato sauce is simmering in the crock, and ground beef that has been sauteed is waiting on the stove for the soup it will marry with in about another hour or so. Of course all of these delectable items will not be eaten today, but my house smells scrumptious and even though I can't possibly be hungry I simply want to eat something yummy! How am I to keep those New Year's promises I swore I wouldn't give up on this year?

Seriously, though, I live in a land of plenty, where moderation tends to go out the window as gluttony has become the banner of all things American. How easily I find ways to reconcile this in a world where I know there are people who live on a dollar a day or less. This fact does not represent the minority. While some are struggling to eat enough to sustain their lives, I am struggling to simply eat less! 

I could laugh this issue away, but really I wonder which is worse: being hungry or being in bondage. Across this great nation we have excess in everything imaginable. Homes, cars, clothes, toys, and food are plentiful and at our fingertips. So often little is not enough and we want more. We become discontent with all that we have, crying 'I need more'. To be satisfied seems a distant concept that disappeared as affluence crept in. Because we can, we do. Because we want, we have. Because we can't wait, we get it now, and in abundance.

How do we break free from this mental prison that tells us it is alright to live this way. As I think back to the question, which is worse - hunger or bondage, I have to think about the way hunger creates a fervency. I certainly do not desire to be among the starving, but I do desire to be fervent and not in a constant state of gluttony that seems to lull me into a dream-filled slumber where I find I am never content with all that I have.

Oh, I do love my food.
I pray, however, that I will be mindful of the world around me and realize when enough is enough. I do not need more than I simply need and just because I may want, does not mean that I must have.
Very often, less is more.