Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back To Minne ♡

Hunter Appreciates The View 
Christian and Dawn have created a lovely tradition, in gathering family and friends at the exquisite Lake Minnewaska, a New York gem. The lake, its surrounding park and view-laden hiking trails lend themselves well to the perfect blend of nurture and nature. If you travel back through CMI, you'll find other tales of a favorite locale. 
Smiles At Having Climbed A Favorite Rock

Joining us was new group member, who hiked those paths in utero, last summer. Blessings enhanced.
"Mommy, please, can we have
another one of these?"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday's Twins

The elusive ones actually posed for me, this morning, after I spotted them in a woodsy area of our property. Mission accomplished, and none too soon. 
They are growing fast.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Horticultural Rewards

Orchids have fast become a favorite flower. They reside here at the Old Homestead in varying stages, gifted from family members.
An Exciting First

 Always received in bloom, I'd never seen one shoot a new flower stem - that is, till yesterday. Quite the thrill, I must say... a first. It's on the birthday plant from Vicki. Joe and I observed that it grew a half inch, in just one day!

Precious Memories
Speaking of plant thrills, check out the little avocado pit. After several weeks in drenched soil, life has finally seared its way through the toughness. I have to laugh, 'cause the last avo-tree I had was back in the seventies. The boys were very little, and we had Baron, our big, black, 125-pound Giant Schnauzer. I was on the phone, when suddenly Big Dog came romping by, uprooted tree in jowls. He'd robbed it from the living room, from which he was then banned. Ike and Mambo had better watch their steps.

Quick To Propagate 
One more mention - Sweet Potato Vine cuttings root in water in little time. If someone admires yours, share it. 
The world will be a better place.

Weekend "Why?" News

They both end in "y"... Norway and Amy, begging the question, "Why?" I'm thinking we should all be paying attention, wherever it breaks... the news, that is.

Norway. I've never heard a violent report out of that country. Have you? The radicals. They lurk. All over.

Amy. We all know an Amy, perhaps by another name and not quite so visible, but equally vulnerable and self-destructive. Good G-d, what a heartbreaker. What can we do to get inside the heads of those who are so hell bent on destroying themselves... or others?

A tough weekend to comprehend. Falling asleep to thoughts of strangers and awakening with their images still trotting about my brain. Or, are they strangers?

"And each one there
Has one thing shared:
They have sweated beneath the same sun,
Looked up in wonder at the same moon,
And wept when it was all done...
For bein' done too soon." nd

H'ART Me ♡ Part 3

In keeping with our imaginative ♥-theme...

"G'ma, G'ma, LOOK! The hose looks like a pretzel!!" exclaimed Gavin. And thus was born the Pretzel H'ART. 

Color Me Thrilled

"H'ART Me ♡ Part 2

Thing is, we don't have a lot of toys, around here. So, imagination is imperative. Works out fine, 'cause there is clearly no lack of brainpower. Gavin was about four, when we made a Tinkertoy picture frame and put it to good use. No reminder here from G'ma and 2 1/2 years later, he needed a frame for musical instruments, and such, to send to Coz Vicki. The T-T shaker was demonstrated by some serious jumping-jack motion, noisemaker in hand. :-) And the sticks were carefully thought out, with tips on the ends to make them safe for hitting drum-skins. Meanwhile, the girls fringed out Aubrey's shirt, so that she could model it for our Pal, to whom she texted the photo message,
 "Team Michelle Rocks." 

H'ART Me ♡ Part 1

Taking a break from the pool usually coincides with the appearance of paints on the picnic table. Ah, what to create? Aubs came up with a great idea and interpreted her good wishes via a portrait of Uncle Christian's family. Gavin decided on a Smell-Me Tree, accomplished by gluing basil leaves to a funky trunk. "Does this smell like meatballs and s'ghetti, G'ma?" In keeping with the theme, he painted a vine leaf and stamped its shape onto his drawing. Fabulous results, carefully rolled and mailed to Unc. 
Color Them Inspiring.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bambi Babes by Vic

Photo by Vic 7/21 Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY
Did my elusive fawns of the other morning follow Vicki to Friend CC's backyard in Sag Harbor, where she captured them in this gorgeous photo? Just sayin'. 
Ah, the pure beauty.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine ♡

January in July ♥
Maybe Dad and I got it wrong, in giving you a July birthday, Honey. Perhaps the other "J" month would have suited you better? We know you're not happy with today's record-breaking heat, expected to reach into the hundreds. So, we're offering up the frigid temps you so love, with a photo from Hunter's January celebration. Hope the power of suggestion helps you to enjoy your day to the nth degree... the sun shines in honor of the glow you spread. We love you so much. 
Happy 38th Birthday, Christian. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot 'n' Hungry? A Salad Plate

It's too hot to barbecue. Yep, the air would become deadly, with the addition of heat from the Weber. But last night was fine for the method; and we cooked a boatload of chicken, in anticipation of the heat wave. While the leftovers were still warm, I took the meat off the bones and diced it. Then, I made the old, trusty yogurt/lemon-juice/mustard dressing and tossed it with the chicken, adding chives and pepper. I separated a portion for Mom's lunch, today, and enhanced the rest, in anticipation of Hungry Man's arrival after a steamy day on the warpath known as work. To it I added this delicious and light-as-a-feather 

2 pkgs. of Shirataki noodles, rinsed, nuked, rinsed again and cut into short pieces, tossed with a small bundle of angel hair pasta, broken before cooking. While warm, I added EVOO and white balsamic vinegar, fresh chives and basil, carrots, sliced pimiento olives and pepper... lemon to be sprinkled on, to taste. 
(Note: The mixing of the noodles encourages enjoyment by those who would not normally touch the Shiratakis. I know!)

Missing are tomatoes and sliced peppers... not a morsel of either in the fridge. I might have to hit the farm stand, tomorrow. Plating was fun, nonetheless, and completed with a sprinkling of pine nuts. Dinner-for-two is in the fridge and ready to go, probably to be devoured in the kitchen, with the air cranked. 
No alfresco, tonight. Sigh.
Buon Appetito -Healthy

Dripping Wet ♡

Firsts ♡

We're havin' a heat wave... a tropical heat wave. You've heard, right? It mattered not that Aubs and Gav had just spent eight hours at camp, brook scavenging and pool swimming. Last evening, barely taking the time to devour meals-by-request, they only wanted more water. With six p.m. shade on the pool, it was tough to get many perfect shots. Nonetheless, we had a couple of firsts to record.

PV asked if the Frog King remains in residence. Here, she'll see him in action, receiving his very first kid lovin'. He did well - he can stay. After all, he's a slide and a ride, a perch to lurch, and cute to boot.

Back to the board, where Aubs was perfecting spinning jumps. Gavin watched her intently, before gingerly taking his first feet-first jump off the diving board. The picture above represents his third jump... he chose the photo 'cause, "This is my best one, G'ma."

Are you exhausted yet? Honestly, you can't take your eyes off of them for five seconds. Pool hopping... gotta respect and love it, all at the same time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Snow O's - A Confection

Dawn made a batch of Rice Krispie Treats, for Saturday. The adults were happy to help the kids DEVOUR them, in no time at all. Hunter proudly informed all the happy campers, "My Mom made these!" Hers were gluten-free, using the available Kellogg's product. Awesome, right?! 

Since g-f isn't a concern for Aubs and Gav (they'll be here later on), I whipped up a batch, using Trader Joe's O's. Note my rice cooker, doing the job. It was tight when I added the O's, but therein lurked the challenge. Here ya go:

Melt 10 ounces of fluffy, white marshmallows... the snow... with 2 tablespoons of real butter. Add as much cereal as you can manage and press into a spritzed pan. Cool, cut 'n' serve. Accept the love. 
A Tip: Cut leftovers into bars and store in freezer, to be served partially frozen. Your sweet tooth will definitely be satisfied. 

Even Simpler Salmon Burgers

A short while ago, I'd posted a recipe for (link)
salmon burgers. Well, here's a simpler version that uses a fork for blending - it's too hot to entertain the thought of washing the Cuisinart. And thus is the height of summer laziness.

For three burgers, thaw 2 6-oz. ocean-caught salmon fillets in the fridge and flake them, together with a boatload of minced garden chives (they are perennials that grow like weeds... I hope you have them planted), an egg, 2 Laughing Cow wedges, mustard, pepper and homemade panko crumbs from the freezer :-). Gently form into 3 patties, sprinkle both sides with fresh lemon juice and paprika. Sauté with sweet onions in a tiny amount of EVOO. I topped mine with tzatziki, a cucumber-garlic yogurt dip, and the onions. I very much like seeing the salmon, when made this way; it retains its color and texture.

Tip: Grill is lit? Spray a piece of foil and do your cooking outdoors. Buon Appetito.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Proof

I forgot to tell Vic, yesterday morning, that I'd seen the hummingbird at the kitchen window box. We'd had a discussion about that.:-) I am remembering, though, to add that I looked out the front doors this morning, just in time to see two fawns leaping over the stone wall. The proof eluded me on both occasions... but I'm lurking, camera handy.
Color Me Challenged

Monday, July 18, 2011

And Thank You...

Mom's Hibiscus
... to all the significant others who revved up my day and my emotions with incredible phone calls, texts, e-mails, musical messages, artwork, land mail and surprise packages. Though my individual thanks have been extended, I'd like to reiterate this thought:

I truly treasure everyone who is in my life. 

Serenity Now

The lake was just gorgeous, under Sunday's sun. Vic stayed through the weekend, until this morning (Monday), with high hopes of resurrecting a few childhood past-times. She'd brought her own kayak, so we were in the lap of luxury, with two... plenty of room for the three of us to take a spin.
Afterwards, she asked to use the Sunfish. Uncle Joe was happy to oblige. We can't remember the last time it was in the water, but it was long enough ago to require Internet instructions for rigging. Jeesh. Now, though, we're inspired to teach Aubrey to sail. We'll just have to make an appointment, between camp and camping, birthday parties and barbecues, sleepovers and swimming. Sigh. 

Water is so soothing... just being near it is great... being on it is sublime. 

Come back soon, Vic - we miss you already. 
 Love you, Sweetie. 

"It's Your Moon, Nick" ♡

So, y'all have heard repeatedly about that frog who dreamed of bein' a king, right? And I've been the object of merciless teasing about the topic. But you tell me - who is the instigator? The day before my birthday, Joe placed this big guy in the pool and told me, "He's your Neil frog." But the poor green monster... his dream was yet unfulfilled. So, Surprise Guest Vicki, Mom and Joe watched, as I crowned him King Of The Pool. And that set the tone for a fantastic weekend of fun and family. Thanks, Joe, for always making me feel so special... and for your response, when I told you just that.  I am... I said... still chuckling.
Our Gang  
Bri 'n' Kell opened their fun and loving home to our gang, and we were blessed with an abundance of brilliant sunshine and beautiful noise. Everyone was beyond thrilled to have Vic join in the festivities. We hit the yard and within seconds kicked into celebration. 

The kids were an absolute blast, flitting about from pool, to swings and slides. Each is so uniquely beautiful and brilliant. Together they are absolute love, personified. I just adore having the whole brood under wing... my most relaxed, happy and worry-free times. I'm still basking in their glow.

On to some music-making, thanks to Vic. A teacher at heart, she was clearly in her element, having brought her arsenal of instruments for some lessons. I'm not too sure how the neighbors felt about the beat of the djembe and the ringing of bells, well into the night; but we had no complaints. I'll bet they were dancin' on their respective decks.

How blessed I feel to share July with Christian and Kelly... three birthdays in ten days... and to have our gathering fall on my day, this year. Aubs was concerned about the song, asking, "G'ma, will we sing it three times or once for all three?" How adorable. I am SO in love with my family. Can y'all tell? The suns to my moon and the words to my tune... speaking of which...

On our way home on party night, Joe excitedly pointed out the brilliant orange ball in the sky. 
Do you know what My Guy said to me?

"It's your moon, Nick." 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Help Us Out - Eat Cake!!

Three celebrants, a family gathering in our honor, and a surprise guest... what more can a girl ask for? Please join us - eat cake. Happy Weekend, to all.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm reminded of the quote, "Bloom where you're planted," or, in this case, "...where you land." You see, nary a Morning Glory did I sow, this past Spring. Nonetheless, vines are growing in the least likely of places, seeds scattered from last year's crop. Beautiful blossoms are just beginning to peek out at me. 
Gotta luv Mother Nature. 

Color Me Shades Of Purple 

Egg McNick

The beneficial purity of breakfast egg-whites is astounding. And while I like most foods colorful and browned, not so the egg-white. Then there's the sandwich...

Joe will attest to the fact that I often order them in restaurants, but do not consume as such. I make a mess on my plate by pulling out the contents to enjoy with just a piece of wrap, roll or such for nibbling. Hey, who's to judge? Seems, though, that suddenly I'm on a kick, as has been evident in fish wraps and chicken-cheeseburger 'wiches, here on CMI. Lo and behold the Egg McNicki, at a mere and satisfying 220 calories.

5 snowy whites at 15 calories per are cooked to perfection and placed on a toasted w-w flat roll (100 cals) that has been spread with a wedge of Laughing Cow Light (35 cals) and piled with halved cherry tomatoes (negligible cals). Stuff it. Let it overflow. Serve with extra reds. You know where to dine...

Bello Tempo

"Slap me four," she said to the Dealer, and with the fond memory of old Uncle Phil added, 
"They are possibles...I'll keep 'em."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Etan, Adam, Caylee, Leiby and All Children Lost...

It will never be safe for our children. Never. Happenstance. An eerie story about little Leiby. Unthinkable. Unimaginable. Unspeakable.
I remember Etan's disappearance, as though it was yesterday. My boys were one-digit numbers, still, when he vanished on Joe's birthday, thirty-two years ago. Our
neighbor's daughter and son-in-law lived in the same building as the Patz family; they'd been long-time friends. Today, comparisons are being made between the two cases. A million reasons to never forget. But in reality, just the thought of such tragedy is enough to etch lifelong fear in one's brain. Is there a parent or grandparent who is not shuddering, tonight? 

Etan... Adam... Caylee... Leiby are names forever in my prayers. I have such sympathy for the families and I cannot stop thinking about the innocence of all 
beautiful children lost.

Color Me Chartreuse

In 'n' Out Progress here, with the incredible, shade-loving Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine showing its colors. With a little luck, it shall soon flower. The tubers are edible, from this plant that is related to the Morning Glory. It's easily propagated from clippings or by slicing tubers. What fun, as it complements the other gorgeous gifts. I hope to post another update in August.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dan Bailey... The Real Deal

This one's for Vicki... just spreading the love (and the cuteness). Check him out here. AJAJA, Momma! 
I want djembe lessons.

Summer Daze Pasta Salad

A special treat for my lens. N
The best time to think about dinner is in the morn-
ing. It's my favorite time to cook, both in winter and summer, but especially on the hottest of 
dog days.

A stroll to the garden to snip some chives reaped a special reward, by way of the prettiest, bluest, most delicate dragonfly I've ever seen. I thought of Jennifer Diamond. Ike was already watching from his perch, as Mambo sniffed the air for the scent of carrots. Ah, a summer morning. 
I digress, big-time. Here's the recipe:

Undercook the pasta a bit, quick rinse it (and the pot) to cool down, and return to the pot. Add about 1/4 c. milk (per pound) and ground pepper; give it a stir. Let it sit while you prepare the remainder of the recipe. It will finish "cooking", as it absorbs the liquid. This also keeps it from absorbing all the final dressing, allowing the end result to stay moist. Mom's old trick.

Whisk together Chobani Plain Greek F-F, dijon mustard, lemon juice, a hit of EVOO, pepper and chives. To that, add cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, carrots and sliced pimiento-stuffed olives... and/or whatever you like. Then, the cooled, cubed chicken. Give it a stir, add the pasta, and finish stirring.

Refrigerate till dinnertime. I keep the bowl upright for a few hours; then I give it a stir, seal tightly with plastic wrap and the cover, and return to fridge, upside-down. Another stir and wipe-down of bowl's edges brings it to perfection. My trick.
Serve with salad greens on the side and a couple of those Best Blues that are in the freezer. YUM. Joe's gonna be a happy camper, tonight, regardless of 90-something-degree temps.

Mangia al Fresco!