Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rosemary Skewers (à la Mario Batali)
from an article in The Herb Companion

[Actual Date Posted: September 1st]

I know it must seem like I have skipped off to Mexico or some fairytale place far far away, but really I've just been a very bad blogger.

Actually I decided to impose a one-month moratorium on late-night blog surfing and digital scrapbooking on myself. The 30-day ban is over and I'm feeling more refreshed.

During the break I picked up the September issue of The Herb Companion. It has lots of great info on garlic, a story on late summer tapas, immunity-boosting mushrooms, harvesting and preserving your herbal crop for winter use and making herbal pet treats.

The article that surprised me was celebrity chef Mario Batali's two-page spread on Piastra cooking. Of course he's pitching his latest cookbook, Mario Batali Italian Grill, but the article includes a scrumptious Shrimp Rosemary recipe.

For this recipe you take sturdy eight-inch sprigs of rosemary, pull off most of the leaves from the top inch-or-so down and cut the bottom of each sprig on a diagonal to get a sharp point.

I have a thriving, waist-high rosemary bush in my back yard. This recipe gives me a delicious reason to go harvesting.

The recipe recommends leaving "a nice tuft of leaves at the top" to give the skewers a rustic, yet elegant look. The rosemary skewers infuse the shrimp with an aromatic, herbal fragrance. Of course, the skewers must be soaked first so they don't burn on the grill.

I say, this recipe is sounding better by the minute! Sadly, I drool over the photo in the magazine almost daily, but I haven't made this recipe yet. As soon as I do I will report back with photos.

Oh, and no, I am not getting paid to promote the magazine, Mario Batali or his grilling cookbook. I just really think this recipe looks scrumptious and am excited that I have the means to make rosemary skewers in my own backyard. Sometimes it pays to grow your own herbs, eh?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

She's a Centenarian!

(Photo taken 2007)


Today my Grandma turns 100 years old and she's having a party! With Centennial Cake, root beer floats and lots and lots of love.

Because we can't be with her to celebrate, we're making a Centennial Cake too. And root beer floats!

Root beer floats are one of the finer joys of summer. Clearly my grandma's sense of propriety and good taste is firmly intact.

So lift your glass (preferably a heady mug of creamy root beer goodness) in honor of my Grams, and toast her longevity and prosperity in the days to come.

Centennial Marble Cake

Light portion:
2 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c milk
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash vanilla or nutmeg

Dark portion:
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c milk
4 egg yolks
1 egg white

For the light portion, sift the flour and baking soda, cream the butter and sugar, add vanilla or nutmeg. Blend the creamed mixture with the flour, alternating with milk. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar then fold into the batter.

Follow similar prodcedure for the dark batter, then drop by alternating spoonfuls into a greased and floured tube pan, swirling with a knife to blend. bake 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour.

Oh, and as for frosting, use whatever is your favorite. (I'm using chocolate fudge frosting, but that's because I just can't fathom a marble cake without fudgy frosting. ) has a recipe for Centennial Cake too:
Centennial Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Which Farscape character are you?

What Farscape Character are you?

Interestingly enough, after changing one answer I got this result.

Maybe there's more to that Harvey principle than I thought . . .
(I DO talk to myself.)

Great Sci-Fi never dies, it gets prematurely cancelled by network TV executives and lives on in cult TV fandom (and comic books).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Drummer Boy in a Box

Little Sprout is working on the concept of "in" or "inside."

Today he stacked four-to-five plastic containers inside each other, took them apart and then stacked them again. He sat his drink cup inside the pantry and closed the door, and tucked his favorite book inside a cupboard and closed the door. Then he dragged stuff out of the recycle bin to put inside the watering can in the garage. These little experiments went on all day long.

As the day wore on I wondered how long it would be before he put himself in something.

Sure enough! Less than 30 minutes later he started cleaning toys out of the IKEA treasure chest that Auntie Bambi brought him. He climbed inside and decided he needed to have something in there with him to while away the time.

It's a bit dark, but this 30-second video shows him drumming in his box:

Are You Bad Enough?

More silly fun coming soon to a blog near you.

One of the very fine ladies in my dinner group, Annie, posted a brief announcement about The Evil League of Evil on her blog, Often Wrong, But Never Uncertain. You can go read it there or let me sum up for you here.

Still reading? Garsh, thanks!

About a month ago, I posted about Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, Joss Whedon's experimental Internet musical. If you haven't seen it and are curious, you can watch all three parts for free on It is a 43-minute comic romp with some seriously campy and entertaining acting.

The premise of the musical is that aspiring super villain Dr. Horrible wants to join The Evil League of Evil (a secret society lead by Bad Horse) and win the girl of his dreams.

The Evil League of Evil has a new website and will be accepting applications for membership soon. Sounds like wicked-good fun! So dust off your evil alter egos and practice your maniacal laughs. That is, if you think you're bad enough.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Julie Update

It has been eight months since our dog Julie suffered acute anemia and nearly died. And it has been at least six months since my last update on her health. Suffice it to say she is still recovering, but we had some great news this week -- Julie's latest blood test showed normal ranges for all blood counts! Only one slightly elevated liver value, which is to be expected because she is still taking Prednisone.

It has been a long, hard haul for poor Julie, but our miracle dog is slowly rebuilding her blood and bone marrow back to normal function. She has fought her way back against incredible odds and we couldn't be happier!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tot Caught Papering Powder Room

[click on the image above to see an enlarged photo]

He had help.

I was tidying up the kitchen when my hair-trigger mommy-sense started tingling. You know what I'm talking about. It was too quiet.

I went to see what Little Sprout (a.k.a. Destructo Boy) was getting into and "caught" him committing a classic caper with a twist. He had a canine accomplice. (Ginger, one of our two dogs.) Can you believe they were in on it together?

For the record, Little Sprout was pulling the paper out from the roll, not slapping at it as some toddlers do. When he had yanked a fairly long piece his partner in crime would take over, skulking out of the room with the paper in her mouth.

Oh, I see exhausting days ahead. Stay tuned for more tales of reckless toddler abandon.

Here is what the journaling says around the edges of the scrapbook page:
At 18 months old, you were a perpetual motion machine - on the go and into everything. So it was inevitable that you would unroll the toilet paper roll with gusto. What I didn't expect was for you to have an accomplice! Ginger thought it was a marvelous game to help you pull the tissue off the roll & drag it into the next room. She even offered to eat the evidence.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've Got a Brand New Bag!

Ooh! I love my tote-ally darling, new handbag (and matching tissue case). I designed it last month at an at-home purse party. A lovely British lady named Jennifer Church took my choices back to her shop, called Ever Sew English, and made it for me.

Here's a peek inside so you can see how nicely the lining and interior pockets look. Admittedly, at-home parties are not normally "my bag," but the quality and workmanship of these totes really impressed me.

As a seamstress, I expected to be underwhelmed by construction shortcuts. So I scrutinized her samples inside and out, litrally turning one of her bags inside out to examine stress points and seam stability.

This designer's careful attention to detail, high level of craftmanship and flair for color really sold me. To the best of my ability I could not find a weak seam or construction flaw in her samples.

What I didn't expect was to have such a good time mixing and matching from hundreds of fabrics. And ribbon, handle and closure options. It really was fun.

Jennifer Church and her staff truly take pride in their work. I'd trust Ever Sew English to construct belly dance costumes for me, and that's saying something.

Gotta dash off to put essentials inside my pretty new purse so I can show it off tomorrow when Little Sprout and I go out!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

100th Post and a New Look

Today I'm celebrating my 100th post! And what better way to celebrate than to give my blog a banner make-over? Instead of boring you with a list of 100 things about myself, I'll treat you to more cute photos of Little Sprout!

Here are two snapshots of Big Daddy whoopin' it up with his home boy. The fun started with Big Daddy pushing Little Sprout around the carpet in a storage tub, but before long their "race car" transmogrified into a carnival ride and they were swinging back and forth, having the time of their lives.

Naturally I ran for the camera. And was treated to a double dose of goofy face. *sigh* Boys will be boys.

Later today we'll be taking Little Sprout to his first county fair, complete with a truck & tractor pull, demolition derby and rodeo. I'm more excited to sample goodies from the Hershey's Cocoa Classic (chocolate bake-off, anyone?) wander the midway and eat fair food. Of course I'll be scanning the Home Arts building for at least one tatted lace exhibit. I'm sure Little Sprout will want to spend time in the children's barn and see the sea lion splash!

ADDENDUM: The trip to the county fair didn't happen. Toddlers often have their own agendas, even when they really want to go to the fair. In this case, he just ran out of steam. So we'll have to go another night.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Batter Licking Good!

Little Sprout has succeeded in reaching his official list of first-year milestones, but that doesn't mean the fun is over. A rite of passage that I couldn't let go unnoticed is his first taste of yummy batter, licked from the spatula and mixing bowl.

He tried to be non-chalant about the whole experience, feigning more interest in the non-business end of the spatula. But this "funny face" photo captures his true feelings. Doesn't it look as though he dove face-first in the bowl?

Once he got comfortable, he didn't hold anything back. I call this one his "Pooh & the Honey Pot" photo.

As the sugar rush set in he did a tippy-toe dance of delight. His spatula arm was moving in this photo. Thank goodness most of the batter had already been licked off or else I would still be cleaning batter splatter off the cabinets, walls and ceiling.

The spatula was abandoned in favor of the four-fingered paddle method. Whooo-weeee! It's four-finger lickin' good!

My good friend Miriam over at The Stone House would say he slayed the bowl, ha ha ha! I just love how Miriam phrases things. (I'm determined to keep mentioning her blog until she adds me to her "Friends Blogs" list. Miriam are you reading this?)

But honestly, her blog is an undisputed guilty pleasure of mine. Her photos are first rate, her style is warm, funny and just off-beat enough to grab you. She's an amazing lady and a dog lover who embraces a self-sustaining lifestyle in West by-gawd Virginia now that she has escaped the corporate rat race. Go read her blog.

I leave you with this adorable shot of Little Sprout, hunkered down with hand in the batter bowl. I can't be entirely sure . . . but I think he might have been enjoying himself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Belated Birthday Surprises

I was all set to post another scrapbook page from June when, out of the blue, a belated birthday parcel arrived in the mail and a neighbor handed me a home-made spice cake across our back decks. Two surprises on the same day. How cool is that?!?

The parcel was from my sister's family. My niece crafted the bookmark out of sheer ribbon with beads, paillettes and a dangly lipstick charm. Isn't it darling? I love the idea of adding a wee bit of bling to my "me time" reading. The only problem is that I rarely read one book at a time. So I've asked her to make me another one.

For the record, my birthday was July 21st. We won't discuss my age (because proper ladies don't do that, didn't you know?) but I will say how lucky I am to have such wonderful neighbors and how much I love them, each and every one.

If you have ever had to suffer less-than-stellar neighbors you can appreciate my incredible good fortune. So I gleefully asked them to join me for cake and we had a really nice time catching up over cream cheese icing and an unbelievably moist, delicate crumb. This was all that was left of the scrumptious cake!

Oh, and my neighbor's precocious three-year-old used me as a giant dress-up doll. Picture me playing princess — strung with old Mardi Gras beads, a well-worn, straw cowboy hat (crown!) and a Disney princess sleeping bag for a royal cape. I sat sweating under that cape for easily half an hour or more, silently praying for an intervention that never came.

But the girl was so cute! Her excitement and enthusiasm were hard to deny. Seriously, why can't science find a way to bottle kid energy? All I can say is, I went home TIRED. Not even the sugar surge could compensate. I'm glad I'm not her mommy. I would have a terrible time telling such an effervescent child no.

What am I saying?!? Some day soon MY deadly little charmer will need guidance and direction. I better start taking notes. And fast!

Psst, if you're still reading...
...Little Sprout steps back into the spotlight next post, licking his first spatula and mixing bowl. You won't want to miss out on this cuteness!