A summer change to the mantel
I don't think I've been so prepared for summer as I have this spring...reminds me of the title of an album by Maroon 5, "It Won't Be Soon Before Long". Well, however you want to figure it. Time is flying and for this time of year I have so much accomplished. I always seem to feel I'm barely treading water yet I see so much progress in the projects I'm doing. My imagination?
I have a lot of irons in the fire right now. Working on making comfy rooms of the den and Abigail's old room, soon to be the guest room. Still painting furniture and dragging stuff to the basement, curb and donation box at our church. So many heavy bags, I should own stock in Hefty Trash Bags. The catalyst was knowing we were going to have a house/pet sitter this weekend and I simply couldn't let this person live amongst the clutter, paint cans and books...tons of books.
A lightweight summer throw to brighten a chair
I'm terrible at making priorities. I'm cleaning up a bathroom and as I walk past the guest room I decide to slap a coat of paint on the dresser. 20 minutes later I'm washing dishes and decide I need to make myself breakfast. Somehow things get done. In practicality, while I was running up and down the stairs, it seemed right to bring back and forth pieces to make a transition from spring to summer (in some cases, winter to summer!). So these are the changes, small as they may be.
A vignette on an antique cabinet
The Husband made it home from his hiking trip in Colorado and believe it or not, we haven't had a chance to sit down and talk about it in the way we should, He arrived home very late and tired Monday night and then had a busy day at work the following day. Off he went to the lake Wednesday and was exhausted when he arrived back home. There just isn't enough 'relaxed' time for us to sit and enjoy a nice talk yet--schedules, phone calls, business, work...it sounds crazy and as if we don't connect but we do, and we like to make it a special uninterrupted time to really make it a nice conversation and time to enjoy each other. So we will, perhaps on our way to Wisconsin tomorrow. He did have a great time though and I? Well I was sort of sad to see my time end.
I was very good about several things. One was to not 'neglect' myself, as in not making myself good meals and eating like a sloth just because I had no one else to 'cook for'. It was fairly easy to keep up my routine of eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast; soup or salad for lunch, but dinner, hmmmm...I wasn't going to make a four course meal, nor was I going to get McDonald's, So one night I had a soup I had frozen along with a huge Garbage Salad (think: everything and anything you can find in your fridge). I made tuna salad and omelets, and ate a bowl of Skinny Pop every night while watching Bravo. And as I mentioned in my last post, I worked outside in the garden and inside on the furniture painting, spent quality time with the hounds, did my blogging bit and a little reading---I felt alive and purposeful and that helped me miss him less, :(
Fiesta Bean Salad
Emily made for a great holiday party on Sunday...just we hiker widows. The weather was gloomy but the rain held off until later in the afternoon so we were able to sit on her deck under the big old maple tree. She made beautiful sandwiches on artisan bread filled with turkey, cheese, arugula and pesto. Heavenly. And she made this salad that you can find on Skinny Taste. This is a plate of leftovers I was digging into at home when I had the hindsight to take a snap. So good...it's a Go To salad for this summer.
I left Emily's on Sunday and arrived home for Day 4 of my Staycation and who was on my doorstep but my scraggly little Abby. I love her to pieces but I was sort of looking forward to putting on my PJ's and vegging out the rest of the evening. Of course I did that but there's something comforting about stuffing whole handfuls of popcorn in your mouth and chugging Diet Pepsi when no one is around. I went to bed about 9:00, resigned to the fact that my late night marathons were not going to make it under her hawk eye. She crawled into my bed with me a half hour later and though I'd love to say we talked and giggled for hours, it was more like a tug of war with the quilt and me begging her to turn off the television, which this younger generation needs to have on to merely to sleep (as in white noise). But God. I love her. I even made her the Lumberjack Special breakfast the next morning.
Off on Tuesday to get my hair done by Katie. On the left is her baby, Margot, and then my granddaughter, Elsie on the right with daughter in law MC holding her. Just 4 months apart, they will be best friends forever. Margot gets hysterical looking at Elsie...like, "Hey, I recognize you! You're a baby, too!" The exciting news is Katie is pregnant again. She and her husband, Kevin, absolutely wanted to have another baby soon and they got their wish! They are off to Ireland Saturday where Margot will meet Kevin's side of the family for the first time. Poor Katie is sick 24/7 so they bought mom, Peggy, a plane ticket to come and help out. Family is everything. The next trip I hope they think of me. :)
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
Peggy is always so kind to offer me coffee and sweets or a snack...she makes getting my hair done so special, for all of us really. She's a genuine 'nurturer". It occurred to me to bake and bring something Tuesday. If you want to make this you can find Betty's recipe and all the ingredients in the baking aisle of your favorite grocery store. Can't take any credit here. But delicious!
Changes in the family room
I needed a big time clean up after stuffing everything from the two rooms we were having painted in to our family room. I figured I'd purge then. Ha! I could barely move amongst all the stuff. But in all honesty, you know how to get it going when you have company coming, and as I mentioned earlier, I have a housesitter coming. I carried things to the basement, to the trash, to the curb. I dusted and wiped and scrubbed and vacuumed. I arranged and rearranged. For the past several months this table has been my sort of desk, this corner of the family room my office as I simply got a better Internet connection here. That along with a gorgeous view of the backyard and the big screen TV made it ideal but I felt a bit closed off as this room is way off at the other end of the house from the kitchen and main rooms we use. Long story short, I abandoned this set up and found a temporary place for some of my dishes. I know this makes no sense whatsoever but it works for now. Enjoy the view, dishes.
I fussed and plumped and poked the other side of the family room so said housesitter can watch TV and relax. I love her to pieces. Her name is Kate (yes, lots of Kate's in this area), and she grew up across the street and is one of Emily's oldest and dearest friends. She knows us and the dogs and she'll do great. With Abby living up north, I simply don't want to put anyone out. It also makes me feel a bit liberated that I don't have to depend on any of the kids. I have my sources now. Ha!
You really can't see but on the lower shelf of that coffee table there are about 100 gardening and décor books. I'm sneaky like that. ;-)
Simple Strawberry Tart
Lot's of good food pics in this post, notice no flowers? Next time for sure. I needed something quick and easy to bring to Emily's little soiree over the weekend...something sweet. I had seen a recipe for individual tarts made with Phyllo dough and after several screw ups, decided to scrap it and make one big tart.
Phyllo dough, in my limited baking world, makes puff pastry look like plywood. Each transparent sheet is fragile beyond belief. I think working with it takes a lot of time and effort and patience, none of which I have. I had an hour before the party. Here's my version of a strawberry tart. And yes, it was very, very good.
1/2 package Phyllo dough
1 pint of strawberries, roughly chopped
1 large round of Brie cheese, roughly cut into small pieces
2 T. sugar, separated
Most packages of Phyllo dough come in two portions. They should be kept frozen and thawed just before using. You will only need about 5-6 sheets from one portion so simply defrost one packet. Save the rest for whatever you come up with.
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare strawberries and cheese and have ready in separate bowls. Toss the strawberries with one tablespoon of the sugar to release the juices. Spray an 8 inch tart pan or similar size baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll Phyllo dough and carefully arrange one piece after another in the tart pan, spraying lightly and evenly with cooking spray between each layer. Turn each sheet a bit so the layers are sort of fanning out and press gently to fit in bottom of pan. Do this until you've used about 5-6 sheets depending on how thick you want the crust to be...I like the effect I got here. Add the cheese covering the bottom of the dough as evenly as possible and then top with the strawberries the same way. Gently lift the edges of the dough and fold over toward the middle of the tart, pressing to make a sort of cinched edge. Spray lightly with cooking spray and dust with a bit of granular sugar. Bake for about 35 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.
That's all I have for now. Tomorrow we leave for Sister Bay, Wisconsin, for a much needed (for me) 3 day break. Nothing like a little R&R along one of our Great Lakes. I've never been, so I'm looking forward to a great experience. And The Husband and I will have 4 straight hours of driving to talk about his adventure in the wilderness. Oh joy. :)
See you next week!