Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lots of bread baking

Today was cranberry orange walnut bread day. I had a production line going. I ground all the cranberries and had 8 bowls of the ground fruit. Then I started mixing the rest of the ingredients and made one double batch at a time. I didn't have 16 loaf pans so baked the breads in 3 batches. Some of the batches were made into regular loaves and some were in the small tins. I cleaned up the bowls and food processor as I went along so I didn't have the mess at the end.

I don't have a freezer but my neighbor does and it wasn't full so I brought over 3 plastic grocery bags full of my breads to her house. Naturally I gave them one of the big breads. She called me later to say that they'd had some and enjoyed it.

I came home and boiled the 2 turkey legs and wings I'd brought home as leftovers, picked the meat off, cut up veggies and made a big pot of soup. You know what I'll be eating for supper this week.

I'd washed and hung out my sheets so I made up my bed as having to do it at 11:00 wouldn't be fun.

Before I stretched out on the couch, I took two Advil as my feet were tired and aching from standing all day in the kitchen. The dog and I are vegging out under the down throw watching a Xmas movie on TV.

A lot of work today but it's nice to know that all that baking is done for gifts and my winter enjoyment.

Unfortunately it's back to work in the AM and the end to the nice, long, holiday weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Holiday Weekend

Yesterday was a wonderful holiday spent with two different sets of friends. I started the day watching the Macy's parade and cooking several sides to bring to friends' to add to the holiday meal. I went to my friends at 1:00 and we enjoyed appetizers before a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was so delicious but the best part of the day was spending time with my friends and their adult daughters.

I also had been invited to another friend's for dinner around 5:30. So when my friends' daughters left to go back to Maine, I drove around the corner to Thanksgiving Part II. They were just about to sit down to the holiday meal but I was stuffed so I joined them at the table and just had a glass of sparking cider. Another fun holiday celebration with friends. Their children are 9, 4 and 22 months (twin girls) so it was fun to be around the kids. I left there with leftovers so am all set for dinners this weekend. Love those leftovers.

I set my alarm for 6:00 so I could wait for the doors to open at the hardware store in town. You probably are wondering what was so exciting that I left my warm fleece sheets to go out in the rain so early on a day off. Well, it was a 12 gal. shop wet/dry vacuum for $29. Exciting, huh?

Then I went to Staples to see if they had a wireless mouse on their blockbuster sale. They did and I bought one. I figured I was on a Black Friday roll so I then went to Kohl's and scored some more super deals. I was home before 10:00 and had also made a quick stop at the grocery store. Not bad I thought.

I spent the day wrapping Christmas gifts and am done with it but for the amaryllis bulbs. Since the boxes have a hole for air, I think they probably shouldn't be wrapped until right before I give them. It's good to have it done and one step closer to being ready for Christmas.

I watched a movie on the kitchen TV and a DVD. I had found a collection of westerns from the 1950's at Walmart this fall but hadn't watched any yet. This afternoon I watched all the Annie Oakley ones and was brought back to the days of my childhood when I just loved watching that show, along with Fury, Sky King, Roy Rogers, Hop Along Cassidy, etc.

The dog had a new toy so she was zoned out with that. Right now she's asleep by my left side and happy to be next to me. I covered her with the down throw and she's so content.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Long Weekend Ahead

Oh, how I've been looking forward to the long holiday weekend. Starts off with a veg night tonight with the dog. She is pooped from her day today at doggie daycare and is curled up (and asleep) under the down throw on the couch behind me. I am feeling so good knowing that I won't hear my alarm click at 6:00 AM tomorrow. The dog and I can sleep in. Then I can have a nice breakfast and cook several sides to bring to my friends' for the Thanksgiving meal. This will be done while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

I'm be able to sleep in each day, go at my own pace and also get a lot done. I plan to pack my suitcases for my upcoming trip to Moscow and have everything by them except for my clothes. I don't plan to bring a lot of clothes as my daughter washes daily and it'll save room in the suitcases.

Each holiday season, I do baking for Christmas gifts and this weekend will start that with having a cranberry orange walnut bread production line. It's a messy job so it'll be good to have it all done at once. I make some in the regular size pans and some in the tiny ones. I like to wrap them in aluminum foil with elegant metallic ribbons. I'm hoping to also bake green cream cheese spritz cookies that I shape into a circle and put two red cinnamon candies on them so they look like mini wreaths. It's not Christmas for my daughter without them as she had them each year. In fact, the year that she spent Christmas in Europe after being in Spain fall term in college, I baked a batch the beginning of October to mail with her Christmas gifts in mid October to Spain so she's have her green cookies. Last night I bought the red hot cinnamon candies and green sugar to pack in my suitcase along with my spritz maker so I can make them with my granddaughters in Moscow and start the tradition for them.

While watching all the Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, I'll also be doing some gift wrapping.

I'm looking forward to spending the holiday tomorrow with one family of friends for dinner in the afternoon and then going around the corner to spend the evening with another family of friends for dessert. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I will have to probably hit a store or two but want to avoid it on Black Friday. Can't believe people actually will be up and in line at Walmart for their 4:00 AM opening. Not me. The dog and I will be fast asleep in my bed between the fleece sheets.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big day for Liesel

It was another gorgeous fall day here in CT with sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures. I wanted to take Liesel for a walk along the river so we both could enjoy the the beautiful day and get some exercise.

We started out with a stop at Petco and I bought a rotating electric nail file that I'll try out on her this week. Sure hope she sits still so I can do her nails.

From there we stopped in at the antique/used furniture shop so I could show the owners my cute Liesel. They have their dog there all the time so they are dog lovers.

We stopped at a couple of other shops by where I parked near the river and I carried her as they were an upscale baby/toddler shop and a gift shop. The gift shop has lots of holiday decorating items and is always so beautiful. I was surprised to see a display of Russian Christmas ornaments and matryoshka dolls. Boy, the prices were a lot more than at the big Russian shop on the Arabat and definitely more than at the Izmailovo Market (can't wait to go there in a month).

In the same section of town is a nursery/gift shop and we walked around outside admiring the fall and Christmas arrangements made with live greens and decorations. I could never afford to actually buy one of the arrangements as they are quite pricey but it's fun to look and get ideas. They have some of their Christmas trees out and they are all perfect. There is nothing like a real tree for beauty and aroma.

We had a nice walk along the river and met lots of friendly people and dogs. Liesel loves going for walks there and being outside. She also is a very social dog and so friendly to everyone we encounter.

I'm sitting on the edge of the couch with the laptop on the coffee table and guess who is curled up behind me under the down throw? She is exhausted from her walk and exciting afternoon.

A nice afternoon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's a .....

Imagine my surprise last night when I turned around in the customer service line at the department store and looked into the carriage. I thought it was a "different" looking baby carriage and wondered why it was enclosed with zippered netting. Well, it's because there was a calico cat inside instead of a baby.

Now I love my dog dearly but would I buy a special pet carriage so that I could wheel her when I go shopping? NO!!!!! If I did that, I know my family would think I'd gone off the deep end but they don't have to worry. When I leave home, Liesel is securely in her dog crate in my kitchen.

At first I thought these parents were kind of "old" to have an infant but figured it was a late marriage, etc. Was I ever shocked to see the cat curled up on a fluffy blanket. Now I think that is weird. What do you think?

While standing there, a store employee told the couple that they could not have a cat inside the store. The woman that owned the cat remarked that Nordstrom's doesn't mind their bringing the cat in her carriage inside.

Guess the saying, "It takes all kinds" is very true.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Those of you that know me well know that I Christmas shop year 'round. Whenever I see something that I know is perfect for someone, I buy it and tuck it away. Even better if I find things on sale. I call this my "store". It comes in handy when I need a gift during the year as I have my stash.

I'm way ahead of the game for this holiday season but for finishing up stocking stuffers and one or two gifts. I hope to do all my gift wrapping over the Thanksgiving holiday. All the gifts that I'm bringing over with me to Moscow of course can't be gift wrapped. They all will be tucked away in my suitcases.

I'll also be bringing presents for Valentine's Day and Easter with me.

I do a lot of baking for Christmas gifts so that will start over Thanksgiving weekend too - spritz cookies and cranberry orange walnut breads.

Sleeping in and Soup Sunday

It was dreary and wet this morning so it was good to sleep in. Liesel has calmed down some and come to the realization that it's better to sleep in the big, comfy bed than in her dog crate. The nights that I take her up with me, she no longer is all over me at dawn to get up and has gotten into the Sunday morning routine of sleeping in and letting me read in bed. I never thought I'd see the day that she'd do this but am glad that it's here.

Yesterday was a yucky, rainy day here in CT and I thought it would be good to make soup this weekend. I wanted to take advantage of the meat and veggies that were on sale at the grocery store, have soup for dinners this week and have a big pot to send to my girlfriend's. My girlfriend had surgery this week so I wanted to send enough soup home with her husband for a couple of meals for them.

When I called her to see how she was doing and to ask if her husband could stop by with containers for the soup, she told me that she was sending me some squash and apple soup as one of her friends had sent over a big container of it. I'll look forward to bringing that to work with a sandwich for lunch. She also sent a container of applesauce from her freezer. Here I thought I was sending homemade soup for them and I received some homemade goodies in return.

I love all kinds of homemade soups in the fall and winter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cleaning for a facial?

You're probably wondering what cleaning has to do with getting a facial. Enter my girlfriend who is a new Mary Kay consultant and she asked if she could practice her presentation and the facial. Of course I told her yes.

What does this have to do with cleaning. Well, it's just Liesel the dog and moi. She's not exactly fussy about the house and cleaning. You know how some women clean for the cleaning lady? I'm cleaning for the Mary Kay lady.

Since Oct. is outside work month with cleaning out all the flower pots, cutting back perennial gardens, etc., the inside gets very neglected. The dust bunnies multiply and paper collects on the kitchen counters. I did a surface cleaning yesterday and finished up tonight with cleaning the first floor bathroom. I never got to the dusting but it'll have to do. I used to be a cleaning fanatic but boy have I changed in the last 5 or so years. I came to the realization that I can't work and do everything inside and out by myself and keep the always ready for company house. Until a year and a half ago, I worked two jobs and had little spare time. As I've gotten older, I also don't have the energy I used to have. It's a good thing I mellowed as the old me would have driven the new me nuts.

We're meeting first at Panera Bread for dinner and then will go to my house. We used to work together but she was laid off last November. I'm looking forward to getting together.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

I don't think one is ever too old to enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" nor tire of the stories.

The Hallmark channel is showing a series of Little House movies tonight for 6 hours. They are not the TV series with Melissa Gilbert but newly produced ones from 2005.

I don't remember the stories from my childhood but they were a big part of my daughter's childhood - the books and the TV show. One Christmas her Aunt Connie in Oregon made her a black calico with pink rosebud print dress that she thought was like what Mary and Laura wore. Since it had a large yoke top and was floor length, it fit her for about 3 years. By time she outgrew it, the dress was definitely not floor length.

The love for the Little House stories continues as my granddaughters now are enjoying the TV shows on DVD. I think my daughther's childhood books have been brought back to Moscow for Katya to read.

Today was gorgeous with lots of sun and temps in the 50's and a perfect CT fall day. Tomorrow is suppose to be in the low 60's. We don't know if we'll have many more weekends like this so I worked hard outside today to get ready for winter. I pruned shrubs, finished cutting back my perennial gardens and hauled the dried plants to the woods. After I came inside and showered, it was time to cook dinner. While it was cooking, I made an egg custard that's now baking. Took two Advil as my body is really stiff from the yardwork. The dog and I are on the couch watching the Little House movies. After a productive day, it's a good way to spend a Saturday evening with my dachshund curled up at my side enjoying a good movie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Day

This morning I left early to get a jump on the pile on my desk at work. After a half mile from my house, I heard something and pulled over. Flat tire. Last night I remember running over a rock that was in the middle of the road but nothing happened. I was close to home and the car drove fine. I drove a short distance this morning to park in the driveway of someone that I know. Called AAA and waited and waited and waited. After 45 minutes, I called and was told he'd be there in 15 minutes. Waited some more and called again. He finally arrived and it was over an hour. I found out that he was the only person covering our area. I was livid. What are they going to do once winter and the frigid weather, ice and snow are here? Because of my wait, they did not count this call on my AAA account. I went to the Honda dealer, bought a new tire and off I went to work. Instead of being early, I was 3 hours late. So, tomorrow I will be going in very early and doing some of my catch up.

My day ended better with a holiday demo at a local upscale nursery/gift center. The theme was mantle and Christmas trees. Everything they did was gorgeous and out of Country Living or Victoria magazines. They kept saying how nice certain things would look on your kitchen island. OK, not everyone lives in a McMansion with a huge kitchen with an island. What about those of us that live in a Cape? I came home and looked at my house with the kitchen floor that the puppy chewed two circular holes in the top layer of the old flooring and the one kitchen cabinet that she chewed. My kitchen is the original from the 1950's but it's home and I do love my dog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where have the years gone?

It seems like it was just a year or so ago that one of my duties as mom was to be very involved in the college search. I started searching through Baron's with my mentor Jill. She was a wealth of knowledge as she had two in top colleges and her third deep in the college search as she was a year older than my daughter. Jill and I would sit out on the porch with our Baron's on those hot summer days at the CT shore. She passed along very wise advice.

The summer before her junior year, my daughter and I visited a couple of colleges. Thus began the touring process. We hit all the surrounding states and went as far south as Washington, west as Pennsylvania and north as VT, NH and Western NY. This touring of college campuses ended in October of her senior year.

The early decision applications were mailed by the end of November and it was over. Now the waiting began until the acceptances came by mail.

Why am I writing this? Well, it is the same season and instead of being the wide eyed high school student, my daughter is leading a small group of high school students from her school in Moscow to Edinburgh, Scotland, this week. It seems like such a short time ago that we walked the same path.

My older granddaughter just turned 9 and before we know it, my daughter will be doing the same thing with her daughter. I hope she has as much fun as I did. Those college visiting trips were great mother/daughter bonding times before she left home a short time later to live at college, study in Italy, travel through Europe and Moscow and also work in Spain and Moscow.