Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Close to You and to Insanity in the Hodgepodge

Thanks, Joyce, for coming up with yet another fun Wednesday Hodgepodge. 

If you happen to be reading here for the first time, click here for the hostess's blog. Then join us, won't you? 

1. Did you watch The Oscars? How many of the Best Picture nominees have you seen? (American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash)

Do you think actors should use their acceptance speeches as an opportunity to promote their political and/or social agenda? Does that sort of speech make you more or less inclined to change the channel?

Yes, I watched the Oscars, but not all the way to the end.   I think I actually changed it while Patricia Arquette was yammering on and on and on about equal rights for women in her acceptance speech/political tirade.  How rude! I was embarrassed for her and wondered if she'll ever get another Oscar because of how she performed at the Academies.

Of the Best Pictures, I've only seen Boyhood, which Patricia Arquette starred in. Grrr. The movie was well acted, but boy it went on and on and on.  Do you see a theme here?

2. Speaking of the movies... are you comfortable going to a movie alone? How about dinner in a restaurant (not fast food, but an actual restaurant)? The second half of this question was posed by Carrie who blogs over at It's Not Easy Being Queen. Thanks Carrie! 

Hi, Carrie!  I've never been to a movie alone, not because I'd be uncomfortable, but because I want someone there to share laughter, tears, share a bucket of popcorn and to clarify things I might not have heard correctly. 

As for dinner alone, I've done that a few times when I've been exceptionally hungry and craving something specific., and wanted ambience. Several weeks ago I ventured into Bertucci's because I  was already out, really wanted lasagna, their rolls, some hot tea, and the cozy warmth of a fire in the brick oven pizza. 

3. What's the last home repair or home improvement project you had to pay someone to complete? In hindsight was this a project you could have done yourself? 

Some landscaping in June last year. We paid my daughter's ex-boyfriend a little bit (he didn't ask for it) to remove some bushes and replant new ones that were lower maintenance.  It was his  Father's Day gift to hubby,  but actually  the dude didn't do it alone. My daughter helped, and eventually everyone pitched in because it was such a big job on a sweltering hot day in June. We could have done it ourselves. We are DIY people about 90% of the time.

4. Have you ever had Indian food? Like it or no? If you're a fan, what's your favorite dish? Have you ever prepared this yourself at home? Is there an Indian restaurant in your current hometown? 

I love Indian food. Chicken Vindaloo might be my favorite. I 've never tried to make Indian food at home; maybe it's time I tried. There's an Indian restaurant within five minutes of my house. I would not go there alone; the service is slow and the portions are huge. 

5. A song that reminds you of your parents? 

Close to You  (by the Carpenters) reminds me of their relationship. I can picture Daddy singing to Mama:

Why do birds, suddenly appear?
Every time you are near
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you
Why do stars, fall down from the sky?
Every time you walk by
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you
On the day that you were born, the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true....

6. The 26th of February is National Tell A Fairy Tale Day. What's your favorite, or one of your favorite, fairy tales? Do you have any childhood memories associated with a particular fairy tale? 

I liked Cinderella as a child, mostly because I loved the picture of her getting to ride in a horse-drawn, pumpkin-shaped carriage while wearing a beautiful blue dress and glass high heels. (What was I thinking?)  

Childhood memory--yes, indeedy. I got to play the lead role in Rumpelstiltskin in our fourth grade class play.  My part was to make some funny sound, repeated here and there.I don't remember the speaking lines, but I remember loving to make the audience laugh.

7. What's a problem you solved yesterday? 

When I read this question in the early part of the day, there were (amazingly, happily) no problems to solve. The whole day went swimmingly until 10:30 pm when I was having a meltdown over explaining plagiarism to my son. 

"You can't just change a few words here and there and call it your own," I repeated (24 times at least).  You have to take the information, understand it, and rewrite it completely in your own vocabulary and style, and cite your source.  I get on a very tall soapbox when it comes to plagiarism. "It's stealing intellectual property!" I ended up yelling. Not a shining moment for me in the problem-solving department. We ended up, painstakingly, writing his research in his own words.

He told me I was a "literature, grammar nazi."

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I hate science fairs.  As I said on Facebook, they suck the fun out of science.  I can't wait to have Friday night OVER and DONE with. That might be terrible grammar, but his literture-grammar nazi doesn't give a riff. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yellow Rice with Red Bell Pepper and Spring Onions

This is the way our personal chef,  Steven Crowe , prepared rice for us (the one-time, special event that I blogged about here).  It was delicious and I want to post it for my future reference as well as for anyone looking for a way to make rice flavorful.

                       served  with  Pan-Roasted Salmon with Soy-Ginger Glaze and Roasted Asparagus

1 cup of rice  (Texmati or jasmine--he used Texmati with the brown lid)
2 cups of chicken broth  (he used Imagine brand organic, low-sodium chicken broth)
2 tablespoons of butter (cut up into small chunks)
2 pinches of saffron threads or 1-2 teaspoons of ground turmeric  (he used saffron)
1 pinch of salt
1 bunch of spring onions (white and light green parts only--remove outer layer first), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped to about 1/4 inch dice

Place the rice, broth, butter and spices into a microwave proof container, stir it a few times,  and then cover it.*

Cook on high for 5 minutes, then 13 minutes on half power.

While the rice is cooking, saute'  the spring onion and the red bell pepper in a skillet  with olive oil.
Add it to the rice when it's finished.
Fluff with a fork.

*(Chef Steven used a beautiful clay pot. Later we tried it with a microwaveable rice steamer. Both yielded fabulous results.)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Daybook Entry, Feb 22, 2015

I'm linking up with the Simple Woman whose blog inspires me to show the beauty of everyday life in word and pictures. 

FOR TODAY,  church is cancelled for the second consecutive week due to bad weather.  Temperatures have been brutal.  (One degree a few days ago.)  Wind whips like it does on the prairie except that, hello, we're not in Kansas anymore!

We also had to postpone my son's 13th birthday party that was supposed to be here this afternoon. 

Outside my window...

I am thinking...

of an old Sunday School song we used to sing as kids, but it came into my head this morning as "Deep and White."

I am thankful...
for a new hairstyle that I like.  I was afraid of going shorter again, but my hairdresser put me at ease. 

In the kitchen...

Hubby decided to make a meatloaf yesterday. He wanted a recipe that did not have the ketchup glaze on top.  From he found this one with cheddar and topped with sliced bacon.  I made Easy Peach Coffee Cake for dessert.

I am wearing...
My old, army green "It's Hip to Give" long-sleeved sweatshirt ,some slate blue sweatpants, thick white socks, and ruby slippers.  No, seriously, I have ruby red slippers!  If I click my heels together, will I be in the Bahamas?

I am creating...
a few little quilts at the same time.   Yesterday I was having fun making this string quilt for a NICU in California. (I have a connection to someone whose grandson was there, and she is collecting quilts for the babies who are often born before baby showers or shopping have been done..)

Which color background do you think looks best? 

I am going...

Nowhere today.  Snowed in and staying put in my happy place--the sewing room. 

I am wondering...

How long it will take for all this snow to melt.  It always does, but we got 10" inches of snow yesterday on top of the 3" already there.

I am reading... (still, because I'm slow)

Death by Living (Wilson)
Captivating (Eldredge)
First Peter, chapter 4 (the Apostle Peter)

I am hoping...

to get my two finished baby quilts (Strawberry Shortcake and Bootsanigee) mailed this week.  

I am looking forward to...

having my son's science fair done and over with! I cannot tell a lie. 

I am learning...

how to make the X block.  I really like it--simple and fun.  Also learning how 
using the black and white filter on my iPhone helps me see contrast better 
when I'm choosing fabrics to use together and arranging blocks. 

Around the house...

are signs of winter.  Thick throw blankets, snow boots, comfort foods.

I am pondering...

when it will be my turn to be a grandmother. 

A favorite quote for today...

"and do not plunge with them again into a flood of dissipation"

From First Peter 4.  It should not have made me giggle, but it did.  I was picturing
a caricature of an old Baptist mother shaking her finger at her 18 year old son. "Stay away from drunkenness and orgies that your former friends were into, and do not plunge with them again into a flood of dissipation!!!"

One of my favorite things...
my baby's face when he's trying not to smile, but all I had to say was "remember the time Mom fell in the pool?"  He can't help it; gets him every time. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:

  • getting ready for the dreaded science fair
  • preparing (hoping) to have my son's birthday party next Sunday
  • having the dryer fixed by my hubby, who is handy, and detected that the problem only involves replacing the heating element (a $21 part)
 A peek into my day...
I made these without a recipe. I was just in the mood for breakfast casserole. 
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, fried 8 minutes (4 min per side)
  • 5 slices of bread, decrusted and cubed
  • 8 eggs and 1/2 cup milk, mixed
  •   savory, black pepper, onion powder sprinkled lightly over each one
  • cooked bacon, cheddar cheese, stirred into each loaf.
  Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes.

Well, that's a lot, and that's it for my Daybook today. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut in the Hodgepodge

Well, well, well!  I got an email  from Sally this morning telling me I'm celebrity and did I know it? Huh? She said Joyce chose my question to use in today's Hodgepodge! 

Funny thing was, no, I hadn't checked the questions yesterday like I usually do.    I was cooking and baking like a veritable Betty Crocker since we had a snow day and hubby was home.

And today, now at 3:15 pm,  is the first time I've had computer access to write;  I'm at my friend Renee's while she's in surgery. I've been caring for her homeschooled sixth grade son by helping him revise a paper. Poor kid. He'll never want me to "help" again.  I am a former English teacher, which is a bit like referring to a retired Marine as "an ex-Marine." There's no such thing. 

1. When did you last have to interact, either by phone or in person, with someone in a government run agency? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the experience? (10 being fabulous and 1 being pass the Tylenol)

Well, that's an easy one.  My sister works for a certain government agency that shall rename nameless, and she and I have been texting a lot about the log cabin in Kentucky that she wants to buy.  Does talking to your federally-employed sister on your iPhone count as "interacting"?  If so, it's  a strong "10" experience.   

2. The current governor of Wisconsin is considering a run for President next time around. Walker attended Marquette University, but never graduated. In terms of any candidate running for the office of President (not asking here if you agree or disagree with Scott Walker's politics) would the lack of a college degree influence your vote or no? Would that be a factor in your support of any candidate running for public office, even a role less weighty than President?

Even though I am a proponent of higher education , and everyone in my family holds at least one degree, I don't think I've ever been swayed by education in voting for a candidate based on his diploma or lack thereof.  I do think it's important to show a different document, like say a birth certificate. It takes NOTHING to earn one of those, does it?   

3. When did you last visit a place or site named for George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, and what was that place or site?

Hmmm. As close as I live to Washington DC, I haven't actually visited there in many years.  It advances the greying of my hair to drive not just one but TWO beltways to get there .  Probably my last visit was with a homeschool group when we went to the White House. (I was unimpressed; isn't that terrible?) We also saw Ford's Theatre, which was much more fascinating to me. I'm kind of a Lincoln nerd.

4. February 16th was President's Day in the US, but did you know it was also National Almond Day? I didn't think so : ) Do you like almonds? If so, what's a food/dish/recipe you enjoy that contains almonds? 

I really like almonds. They're a great purse snack by themselves, and even better in an Almond Joy.  I like green beans almondine, cheesecake topped with slivered almonds, and Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.    

5.The television program Saturday Night Live celebrated it's 40th anniversary this past weekend. Were/are you a fan of the show? If so what has been your favorite (or one of your favorite) skits, sayings, or characters that came out of the program?

Okay, I feel like the only person in my age group who missed the whole glory that was SNL back in the day.  My parents were strict about what we could watch; in high school I heard bits and pieces,  but never really "got" the references from skits.  In college, at parties, I sort of watched Steve Martin ( "a very funny guy") and my roommate would call me "Zoanna Zoanna-Danna."  But I have no idea about what some of you are cracking up about . More cowbells? Guess I'll be getting cozy with Youtube soon to catch up on the comedy I missed in my youth. 

6. Anything purple within ten feet of you? What is it?

My glasses are purple.  I love the color purple (although I've never seen the movie by the same title).  It used to be my favorite.  (It's now blue, which I'm whispering so that purple doesn't get jealous.)  I actually love the pale purplish-blue shade  called periwinkle. 

7. Back in December I asked you to submit a question for a future HP as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I grabbed this one from those entries, submitted by Zoanna who blogs over at Penchant for Pens. Thanks Zoanna!

She asks, "How often do you make your bed, and how do you like to make it-pull the covers all the way up over the pillows, tuck the covers in around the pillows, or place all the pillows on top of the covers?" 

Well, thank YOU, Joyce, for picking my question .  (Isn't it fun to see one's name in print?)  I do feel like a celebrity seeing it as I hop around the Hodgepodge Pond.  Or the HodgePond.

I make my bed almost every day. I like how it makes the whole room feel instantly put together, even if it's not. 
When putting on fresh clean sheets, I make it with hospital corners like my mama taught me.  Then I put on the fitted sheet of cream and the flat sheet in slate blue  (Egyptian cotton, nothing else!), then the thermal blanket, a pinwheel quilt, and then the log cabin quilt of pure white.  After that I stack up the sleeping pillows three high on each side , and center another sleeping/propping up pillow in front of them.  My husband hates decorative pillows so I have conceded to not "cluttering up" the bed with "junk that just has to be taken off at night only to be put back on in the morning."   (That's my logic for wearing a bra, but the logic doesn't convey to the public arena, does it?) 

Have you ever heard  Jim Gaffigan's jokes about decorative pillows?  Search youtube for a good laugh on the subject.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

It's time to put dinner in the oven for Renee's family.  I brought almost all of it with me,  having exercised  my mise en place skills to work in my own kitchen yesterday .  I'm making San Francisco chicken,  saffron rice just like our one-time personal chef made it for us (see yesterday's post), and roasted asparagus, which is supposed to be great for cancer patients (and the general population).  She loves asparagus so this should be a treat when she gets home tonight .