Friday, December 30, 2005

Living alone...

... for so long, one of the hardest things to remember when having houseguests staying over is to shut the bathroom door when you pee!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Paintings in the Living Room

Yesterday, I broke down and bought a painting I have wanted for about a year. It's called, "The Singing Butler." I'm not sure why I was so drawn to it, it just evokes an era or an age that I like. I wanted it for over the mantle.

Besides the cost, the other thing that kept me from buying it was it would not match the painting over the couch (an ocean view from the St. Clair days). I had one picked out that was a farmhouse with a large red maple tree, which matched color-wise, but they discontinued it!

Finally, I feared they would discontinue this one so I just bought it! Today, at lunch, I asked my friend to help in the couch painting search (I'd already been to Bombay, where the Singing Butler came from, Linen and Things and Bed Bath and Beyond - nothing! All were too "modern" for my room.

I thought I'd try furniture stores like Art Van, but he suggested Joann Fabrics. Sure enough, we found the one I eventually bought. Nothing like I'd pictured, but a very bold painting that, once hung, really compliments the mantle painting. And the best part? All framed art was 50% off!

I posted the pictures in the Photo section if you're interested.

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Setting for the new mantle painting, "The Singing Butler" (I'll explain in the Captain's Blog)

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Closeup of new mantle painting

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Setting for new couch painting

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Close up of couch painting

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another great day!

Today, (well, yesterday actually) I received an invitation to an impromptu family gathering at my friend's house. Great food, interesting conversation, some old memories rehashed, all made for a very pleasant visit. It was nice to see his brother David and his wife again, and his brother Bob is always a trip!

It's been far too long since I've seen his wife, Judy, and their two daughters. I once again noticed and, as always, appreciated their dry, quick wit.

Wow! I'm two for two in the great day contest. I wonder what today will bring...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Another quote...

"It's not easy to be me..."

Superman - Five for Fighting

Happy Boxing Day!

Made a great late-night snack (hey, even the best Christmas dinner only lasts so long). Put together a quick barbeque sauce, (I had the Webmaster add this BBQ sauce recipe to my recipes under "Misc," BTW) and while it was simmering, got out the last oven-roasted chicken breast from the fridge. Took off the skin and de-boned it (I noticed a while ago that while you can't beat boneless, skinless chicken breast for both health reasons and convenience, you give up a lot of flavor).

Anyway, shredded the chicken and added it to the simmering barbeque sauce. Let it sit and cool for about 10 minutes, then ladled it onto toasted sourdough bread. Made a great sandwich!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Had a great Christmas day!

Ate dinner at Jake and Carla's. Excellent ham, great potato with fennel gratin, a side of broccoli and, of course, the cheese cake. My presents were both appreciated. We watched a couple of movies, and then I drove home in snow.

The late night baking is starting to catch up with me and I think I'll take a nap now...

What a nice day!

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The cheesecake! Without the topping it was 2 1/2 inches high and 9 1/2 inches round of pure creamy delight. Well worth the effort!

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This year's Christmas cookies. Starting at the corner with the candle and going clockwise, we have oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, molasses crinkles and gourmet chocolate chip.

Technically, it's tomorrow...

I have been working on the cheesecake for Christmas dinner. I have to admit, this would have been much harder without all my modern appliances (food processor to turn the graham crackers into crumbs, microplaner to make the lemon zest, stand mixer to mix everything together, and so on...).

I was prepared to spend some bucks for the ingredients (2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese, sour cream and so forth) but the raspberries for the topping nearly killed me! Out of season here of course, but I found them at Westborn Market. I needed 3 half-pints, and they were $4.99 a half pint! Ouch!!!

Also, I could NOT find the currant jelly I needed, so I settled for strawberry jelly... we'll see how that works...

Another thing, the baking of this bad boy is bizarre! You bake the crust for 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then cool it to room temperature. After adding the filling, you bake it at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Then you turn the oven down to 225 degrees and bake it for one hour and fifteen minutes. Then, (oh yes, it goes on...) you turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake has to sit there for 30 minutes more. Then it has to sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then be refrigerated overnight. Good God! Will I be able to sleep at all tonight?

This better be excellent, that's all I have to say! (Did I mention I hate baking?)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

Birthdays are weird! Not sure about you, but I get awfully reflective. Usually end up bummed out, lol! Decided that what I really needed to do what clean the house (that cookie baking yesterday left quite a mess)!

Also decided I needed a gourmet birthday dinner, so marinated two filets of grouper (not sure I'll like the fish, but love the name!) in a half a bottle of Pinot Grigio for four hours to lose the "fishy" smell.

Meanwhile, cleaned house like a demon. Decided, new year, new rules, so cleaned out my closets. Anything I haven't worn in a while went into a bag for the Salvation Army - I have WAY too many, WAY too old clothes. I want to cut down the clutter that my kids will have to wade through when I die, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, much later, made Grouper al Forno con Funghi Trifilati, with a side of wild rice for my dinner. It was FANTASTIC!!!

Now working on a cheesecake to take to Christmas dinner tomorrow at Jake and Carla's. This is probably the last entry for today, so, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Happy Birthday to Me...

1:00 AM - Just had an interesting discussion with Scruffy. I was telling him that both he and Newt should be singing Happy Birthday to me. I tried explaining that I was once pretty cool, one of the original "hippies" back in the day and that I had lived my life by the motto, "Live fast, love hard and die young!"

Unfortunately, since I didn't die young, I am the 57 year old cripple with other health problems that he knows today...

He didn't say anything, but he looked at me like I was out of my mind...

Note to brother Carl: Yes, indeed, this is just a "random thought of an elderly man just rambling on"

Blog on, brother!

Vacation - Day 2

I spent the day redoing my cookies. Not having a sweet tooth, I asked my friend to sample my Christmas cookies and give me his opinion. He said they were excellent, but his only criticism was they were a bit too crunchy. At my crestfallen look, he said, "No! They are not 'bad,' if I was rating them, I'd say they were a B+!"

To hell with that! I want "A" cookies!

So, I remade them all, baking each of them about 2 minutes less. Much more chewy. But, I must confess, while it was fun baking with Tracey, this was just a chore...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Aauugghh!!!

December's DTE (Electricity and gas) bill was $158.
January's bill just came out: $336.01

Two things...

1. I just now figured out that when I send my blogs (they go through email) as plain text, they show up with funky breaks in the text (like the ones about my birthday knife), but when I format them as Rich Text (HTML) they stay together. So, potential bloggers, be forewarned!

2. Has anyone clicked on the line "Want to know the weather in your area?" in the CapuWeather box on my Home page? It's just one of the quirky things I love about this website!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My newest favorite quote...

On the subject of Middle-East terrorists:

"Yeah, I think they believe in what they're doing and that they're going to get seventy virgins after they die - but, really, who wants seventy virgins? I want eight pros!"

George Clooney in a Rolling Stone interview

I made the most incrediable side dish tonight!

I baked some chicken breasts in the oven. As the side dish, I tried a recipe I found that used two medium size butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks. You coated them with 6 tablespoons of melted butter, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Roasted in a 400 degree oven for 55 minutes until the sugar had caramelized. Probably nothing a diabetic should
be eating, but an unbelievable taste!

My birthday present...

from Jake and Carla was a custom, hand-crafted knife and sheath. Jake helped design the knife and a fellow from work, Ron Wollschlager, who makes knives by hand, built it. You can check out the photographs, but sadly, you can't really see the details. It's combat black and the handle is a dark green canvas material, so try taking a good picture of that! But it is truly a one-of-a-kind work of art!

Received the following in emails today...

"Still no new blog postings. 50% of bloggers don't make it past the first
month. Don't become a statistic, dude."

and another:

"I check every day for your new updates, hmm, the last one was on the 14th..."

I guess I'd better post something quick or the whole thing will come crashing down!

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Jake & Carla's Birthday Present - Handmade Knife and Sheath

Note: Flash is washing out colors. Blade and sheath are combat black, handle is greenish brown

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Another view, with more details

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Tried to show knife-maker's name, but it's stamped"Wollschlager"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

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Merry Christmas from my house in Redford to yours!

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As I welcome you in...

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This year's Christmas tree

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My mantle

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Christmas icebox decorations

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Living room Christmas, 2005

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Christmas Kitchen touches...

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More Christmas kitchen touches

Relevant Quote

"The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the
chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity."

- Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My First Time

Hmmm... New website, almost a new year, and now this, my own personal Blog. Wonder if I will use it a lot, or just once or twice until the novelty wears off. We'll see... It's not like I have anything that important to tell the world, but it's never stopped me yet!

Anyway, last Sunday, made a new soup, Cauliflower, with Parmesan Crisps. The soup turned out really nice, but the crisps, though tastey, were a bit messy. Here's the recipe, in case you're interested:

Saute 1 small chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves until translucent, but not brown. Add one quart of chicken stock and a cored, roughly chopped head of cauliflower. Bring to a boil and cook about 15 minutes. Meanwhile take 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan and put it in a food processor until it's grated (or you could just use grated, but I was showing off!) After the cauliflower is soft, use an emersion blender (or small batches after it cools a bit in a food processor or blender) and puree it. Bring back to a boil and add in the Parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

The Parmesan crisps are simply one loose layer of shredded Parmesan on a tinfoil-covered cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Break it apart and garnish soup. Eat like a cracker. Two problems, didn't want to come off the tinfoil and it was rather greasy to hold.

Wow! That wasn't so hard!

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My Holiday stamps for this year. I sure hope that Santa is philatelically inclined!

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Original plant in mailbox garden died, so put in mums for the Fall

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With the generous assistance of my friend, purchased this stone statue of a young meditating Shaolin monk and moved him to his new home. Note: me and my walker could NOT have done this one alone. NOBODY is that tricky!

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Close up of young monk meditating. I love this guy!

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Planted potted Oregano where I had dug out day lily that got transplanted behind pool.

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Dead arborvitiae dug out and daylily by Chiminea transplanted

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Second arborvitiae I planted in this spot and the second to die!

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Day lily moved. Please note: all of the gardening shown in this series was accomplished when I still had to use a walker from my knee surgery. I can get very tricky when I'm bored!

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Not a great shot, but need to move the day lily just showing on left to rear of pool. I think it will give it a more filled-in, natural look.

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Moved day lily out and planted my potted rosemary plant. Also moved the turtle back to his old home.

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Rearranging plants this Fall. These daylilies are too thick!

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Sadly, the squirrels never learned to clean up after themselves...

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Large harvest of black walnuts this year resulted in the squirrels taking over the picnic table!

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Another view of water hyacinth. Sadly, the bloom only lasted one day.

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Phlox at rear of house

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Water Hyacinth, blooming for the first time

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Tiger Lily "Hedge" I planted when I moved here (with young plants from North Side Garden) that seperates my yard from my neighbor

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Tiger Lilies on north Side of House begin to Bloom

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Butterfly House, newly repaired and tucked in the corner

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Last Look at Living Room

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Third View of Living Room

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Second View of Living Room

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First view of redecorated living room (It's "Rose" Damnit! Not PINK!)

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Squirrels enjoying a lunch in the garden

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Patio, from the West

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View from the back of the property (I have a LONG yard!)

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Compost piles

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Mint garden, gone mad... Spearmint, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Catnip and Sage

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Play structure nobody plays on

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Another view of woodland garden

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Woodland garden. Ferns, Lily of the valley and violets from my Mom's house

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Replacement rope hammock. Canvas one did not survive it's third year.

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Stone turtle that guards the pool