Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A little drama in our week!

Our kids have gone back home, but we do have great memories and some photos to help us remember. Yes, this big guy was in our backyard the last day the grandchildren were here and they enjoyed the excitement. He was not as shy as previous gators visiting. In fact as the guys were fishing in the pond, The Trout grabbed Rachel's 'Princess Fishing Rod' and he actually chomped down on the bobber and The Trout was holding on as the rod was bending. No, he was not reeled in. He broke the line. Luckily. Alligators are common in Florida, but when they are in the backyard, they can be a nuisance. You can be arrested for harassing these creatures and you can have the gator patrol come in and remove them, but only if they are posing a danger for you. They need to be quite large before they are removed. Just one of those creatures where we have invaded their home.

We went down to Lake Morton and watched the geese blocking traffic as they wobbled back and forth across the road. Locals are used to the disruption.

Erika, Rachel and Josh feeding the swans.
The kids had two days at Disney and a visit to the Atlantic and to the Gulf to enjoy the beaches. Lots of shells and beach sand to take to their friends in school. The visits go very quickly, but we are so glad we are able to enjoy them together.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crepes with Strawberries

Recently I chatted with a childhood friend, Rosalie, and she commented on how her mother would make crepes for her and her sister for breakfast when they were children. It was a quick "on the run to catch the bus" breakfast, and the tradition has been carried on in their families.
Rosalie's family has ties to the Alsace Lorraine region of France which was once part of Germany. Thus, the crepes have continued to be a part of their family tradition.
Lina's Crepes
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
Put a pat of butter in a skillet, pour in a small amount of batter, swirl around, flip, brown the second side a little and then roll with sugar or fruit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kennedy Space Center

Our daughter and family are visiting us this week so yesterday we spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center. It was the first trip for The Trout and I and we were so impressed, that we went back to get a year's pass.

The astronaut speaker for the day was Fred Gregory. He graduated from the Air Force Academy the year after my brother. There was just too much to see and the museum could have used an entire day. We will go back, hopefully for a launch. Joshua and Rachel enjoyed it also.

Then a quick run to Cocoa Beach. We found no "genie in a bottle," but the kids enjoyed their first encounter with the ocean and the Trout and I discovered just how much we missed living close to the ocean.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Four days late but still excellent!!

The Norwegian and the German are about four days behind the Irish, but we did have our Corned Beef and Cabbage today. I have to say, in the 40+ years that I have cooked corned beef, this was the best one ever!! We picked it up at Costco and the brand is Mosey's. It was delicious, lean and easy to slice. 40+ years...that is quite a testament, but very true!!

We also served Cathy's Colcannon. She posted it on her blog "Wives with Knives." It was delicious and made me wonder why I had never tried it before. Thank you, Cathy!

The wine picked out by the Trout was a Murphy-Goode 2007 Zinfandel. It was excellent. Fred on "Bigger Than Your Head" wrote about this same wine. I love reading the flavors that tasters find in a wine. If I may quote, "At 15.4 percent alcohol, it packs a heady hit as well as the sweetness that a high alcohol often conveys. Black current and blueberry flavors, with a hint of fleshy boysenberry, are threaded with briers and brambles, polished tannins and dusty granite, and sweet, spiced plums. The wine slides through your mouth like plush velvet woven with iron fillings. " When you have all these fruits and minerals named for you, you can slowly enjoy a sip of wine and actually taste them all. This wine was a lovely treat.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Saturday at home

This bicycle makes me think of Provence. It is in my neighborhood, and the lady that lives there does such a cute job decorating with flowers all year. At Christmas, there are lights and poinsettias and it is always an attention getter.

We also have several busy osprey in the neighborhood, always building these enormous nests. This one doesn't live that close to us, but the neighbors that do say it is such fun to watch the flight patterns back and forth, but they do tend to be noisy.

And, this is the view from our backyard. This morning the fog was just lifting when I shot this. I was 1 minute too late, because when I ran for the camera, four golfers had just teed off and they look so eery in the fog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dining at Hotel Baldy

Out of my travel diary I read, "We drove to Fondamente in southwest France, and walked along the River Sorgue and found it full of trout. We stopped at the Cafe Hotel Baldy for lunch. (Now that is a name that will not be forgotten.)
The dining room was lovely and we were the first guests of the day. We order the 15 Euro menu each, the plate of the day. First we had amuse bouche (mouth amusements) with a Kir for Dale and a Vin elegante for me. The surprise appetizer was a cherry tomato on a stick with cheese, homemade potato chips, and a cold mushroom soup topped with creme fraiche in a tiny cup.

A very large silver, oval platter arrived with 2 grilled beef steaks, wonderful garden lettuce topped with oil and vinegar, green beans with bacon,fried potatoes and tomato halves topped with mushrooms, garlic and cream and roasted in the oven. It was wonderful!! We also had a 1/2 Liter of red house wine.

This is the embarrassing 'after' picture. We did pretty good, don't you think? For dessert we had creme brulee. It was quite a drive, but so worth it."
We are still talking about this meal almost 3 years later.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our golf course and sandhill cranes

I have never seen a golf course that wasn't beautiful. They are designed by golfers and the details they put into the planning are sometimes amazing.
Quite often on a Sunday afternoon, the Trout and I golf with our friends Jerry and Linda. Here you see Linda standing by the carts watching the men tee off. We have a good time enjoying the sunshine and fresh air while having a lot of fun.
There are a lots of palms and oaks covered with Spanish moss to the left of this fairway. It makes it very difficult if the ball goes to the far left on this hole. You never know if you might encounter an alligator sleeping in the woods.
I usually talk about the sandhill cranes in our neighborhood. For the last 3 years, we have only see one baby each spring with mom and dad. What a surprise to see twins this year.
And you have to admit, even though they look a little gangley they are so darn cute. Here the baby is waiting while mom pulls a bug out of the ground.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Jordan Marsh was a department store in Boston, which grew to be a major regional chain in the New England area of the US. In 1996, the last of the Jordan Marsh stores were renamed Macy's.

On the first floor of the flagship store, Jordan Marsh had a bakery famous for its delicious blueberry muffins. The bakery had been a vital part of the shopping experience at the store. In 2004, The Boston Globe had an article which stated, "For decades, any decent downtown shopping trip ended at Jordan Marsh, where the promise of a sugar-crusted blueberry muffin could make annoying children angelic."

Jordon Marsh Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tsp. sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups blueberries

Grease muffins tin inside and around the lip. On low speed of electric mixer, cream butter and 1 cup of sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together and add alternately with milk. Add vanilla.

Mash 1/2 cup berries and stir into batter. Stir in whole berries. Pile high in each muffin cup. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar over all the muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 3o minutes. Cool 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A book about my hometown

This has been an amazing week. I just found out a novel has been written about my hometown. I guess that is not very surprising to most people, unless you were born in a town with a population at the time of possibly 100 or less.

Homestead, Iowa. A village in the Amana Colonies. East Central Iowa. The book is Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson. This little add-on village to the Amana's has almost always been forgotten. Nothing special ever happened here. It was just a great place to live as a child. In the fall, spring and summer, we played outside with all the neighborhood kids (all here means ALL) until the street lights went on. Riding bikes, kick the can, baseball, kick ball. It was perfect and safe. In the winter, we'd walk to the Pine Pond for ice skating. We had to cross the railroad track to get there, so I suppose our parents got together to figure out something safer. For many years, an empty lot was flooded and we ice skated right by our homes.

We used to have a working railroad station. My grandfather was a traveling salesman and spent a lot of time on the rails going between Amana and Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. He sold woolen items made in the Amana Woolen Mills. It was always a great thrill welcoming him home, because he would bring all sorts of treats from the big city.

This new book, just released, takes place in the late 1800's. My grandparents were born during this time and I remember a lot of their stories about the time. I am hoping to recognize historical sites in our town in the book. As they say, "it is in the mail as we speak."

I see statistics now that the population is 425 which I tend to question. The most famous person ever to live in Homestead would have to be the actor, Ashton Kutcher. Of course, he is younger than my children, so I never knew him or his family. He lived outside of town on a farm.

Another famous person was Bill Zuber who, during his baseball career from 1936-1947, played for the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Senators, New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

So, I have just added to my reading stack of books, but I have a feeling this book will be read quickly.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I am being overrun by books!!

I have a stack of 6 books sitting in front of me and one in the mail. Then there is another stack in the guest room with at least 3 paperbacks by daughter left for me at Christmas when she was here. My problem is I have been very distracted.

I am very late in finishing a baby blanket that I am knitting for a baby that was born last week. It has turned out to be a boring but pretty pattern and I get easily distracted. And then, there is the Internet and all the blogs I read and the time I spend on Facebook.

I need to step up to the plate and decide which book I need to start first. Actually, I am half done with 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. He spoke in our church about his car accident and being declared dead for 90 minutes before someone noticed he was still alive. A very good book about how he saw heaven.

Spinning Forward by Terri DuLong is a novel about small town life in Florida and she is a knitter. I have corresponded with this author since she has a blog. I think this book will wait until I am in Montana for the summer.

Two wonderful books which the Trout has already read by the same author, Michael Sanders, are Families of the Vine and From Here, You can't See Paris. Since we love France and will be there soon, we do enjoy reading this kind of a book. I hope to get to them before we leave.

My blogger friend, Sam on 'My Carolina Kitchen' suggested The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn, the story of romance, food and Paris and attending the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. I know I will love this book!!

I picked up Dear John by Nicholas Sparks at Costco last week. I love all of Nicholas Sparks' books and have heard good things about this one.

And then, the one in the mail. It is titled Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller. It is a novel about people living in the Amana Colonies in the late 1800's. I am really looking forward to this one because that is my ancestors she is talking about. I commented on a review of the book and the author saw it and corresponded with me. I told her I would be critical because I have lived these stories of the past all my life. The book should be here this week. I am also in a drawing to win one on a blog of the reviewer and I have my fingers crossed for that one. I can certainly pay this one forward.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Well, what do you think? Mr. Swan does not have a happy face. It is understandable. He is freezing, still, like most of Florida. The weather is just too unhappy around here. Very strange. But, there is hope in the near future. Finally, the 70's, which it should have been for the last 6 or 8 weeks, will arrive by Sunday.

I know, I know, anyone north of Atlanta thinks we are wimps. This part of the country is full of outdoor activities and when we can't participate because of the cold, we cry...a lot. More books are being read, more knitting, more TV and more computer time. Oh, yes, I also got that dreaded closet cleaned out, so all that is good.

To change the subject, I watched the 'germ' report yesterday and this morning on the "Today Show." It was shocking! In case you missed it, they focused on those bath tub toys that kids play with. You know the kind, with a squeaker that they fill up with bath water and then spray at each other, drink, and chew on. Well, they have been cut open to find black slimy something or other growing in there and when tested, the germs are over the top. Do not give these to a child. Only the toys without openings are allowed and then, clean with bleach often.

Then this morning, they checked for germs on rental cars. The steering wheel and shift were covered with germs including staph. Just makes you want to stay home and read and knit, doesn't it? WAIT...that's all I have been doing. Time to carry disinfectant wipes everywhere, I guess. How come we ate dirt as kids and never got sick?