Saturday, February 28, 2015

Feeling Neil Diamond

by Joe… thanks, Honey!
Ah, the feel of Neil, words often used in the glittering fan-world. OPENING NIGHT. A new experience for us! Every song a surprise. No knowledge of set or setlist. And to think, I considered missing this gem of a show. Joe knew not to allow that, later reminding me of the last few rough months of doubt that we'd ever again enjoy life so very much. Thanks, Honey, for the push…

Fourth Row, dead center in the gorgeous new PPL Center in Allentown, PA. Does he recognize us, after all these years?

Mr. D. performed for over two hours like the rock star that he is, in an exceptionally driven show analogous to those of his hungry years, decades ago. It was like he had something to prove… again. I'm still here. I'm still relevant. I still rock. Listen. Watch.

It's true. Each and every lyric was sung with incredible passion. 

From Joe's perspective, comments that I loved absorbing:

"An excellent show. You couldn't ask for more."
"He gave every song his all."
"He's the ultimate showman."

From mine:

All of the above, plus the overwhelming emotion of the night, driven home by my all-time, rarely-performed-live favorite song from Neil's catalogue, If You Know What I Mean, circa 1976. I swear, he did it just for me, with the message, "And you considered not coming???" 'Twas the moment I lost it, tears of gratitude blurring my vision. And then…

There's one song I immediately fell in love with from his new album, Melody Road, called Nothing But A Heartache and previously mentioned on CMIIt has shades of young, hurting, intense Neil-of-the-sixties 'n' seventies, its lyrics already embedded in my brain, accompanied by that rich, deep, unmistakable voice. Joe took this souvenir vid for me. It's just a small indicator of why you should buy tickets, if you've been on the fence till now:
It was a new, attractive set, though it landed the fabulous band too far back on the stage. I had to search for Tom Hensley with keyboard, behind the horn section. King Errisson with congas and Ron Tutt with drums were barely visible, even from our excellent seats. That said, a hit-laden setlist included just enough Caroline to please the masses without overshadowing Play Me, Brother Love, Holly Holy and scores of others.

Neil owned the night. He looked amazing, at 74 years young. Katie agrees with him, for sure. His voice was impeccable and strong. He was animated, excited, emotional, sensual… still… if you know what I mean...

"And here's to the songs we used to sing
And here's to the times we used to know
It's hard to hold them in our arms again
But hard to let them go"



Thursday, February 26, 2015

"5 Things Neil Diamond Could Do…. in Allentown…"

John Moser writes a terrific (link) column of suggestions for Mr. D. to consider during his Allentown stay. He forgot one, though. Neil could always come hang out with us, 'cause I caved. Yep. In a last-minute decision to catch opening night of the tour, we scored 4th Row/Center seats in the gorgeous, new PPL Center. If any fanatics work their way here, please know they're FACE VALUE tickets. Yes, that's right. Patience pays off in this world of scalping and specialty packages. Wait till the last minute when the box office miraculously/mysteriously reacquires preferred seats. Furthermore, 1st row seats were available for the same price; but Joe and I prefer 3rd or 4th. Thing is, even the correct amount paid is way too high...

I know, I know… I'm weak. Didn't think we'd catch this tour. But, hey, we figured we had no choice in yet another trip to Presbyterian, yesterday. Thankfully, all went well, reminding me to say that we SO appreciate the concern of Friends of CMI. You have our endless gratitude. I digress…

Why not an elective trip to PA to catch ND? We've a long history together, so it makes sense
if you know what I mean!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hot, Hot Off the Press - Beach Dreamin'??

White sand and aquamarine water… can you feel it?

Conversation with Joe

When Joe called from the road, today, he said:

"Wow, it really turned out to be a gorgeous day, didn't it? It's so sunny."

My response:

"Ya think? It's 3:00 p.m. and 18 effing degrees outside, with gale-force winds bringing temps down to 0 degrees."

Clearly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The Motherlode of This 'n' That - A Venison Recipe

Less Is More. Hmmm. Kind of making its mark as a standard line around here. Cases in point:

Joe has an ongoing relationship with Sam's Club. Thing is, we're not always in need of a motherlode of, let's say, apples and bananas. Oooh-kay, the weather still sucks, so I don't mind using Zo to bake some healthy fruit-breads, 'specially when we can share with Bri and crew. Today, I added choco-chips, so now it's fruit-cake.

But then, what to do with the motherlode of kiwifruit? Jeesh. Yep, Joe's find during yesterday's trip. I'm not sure why he was so enthralled by the fuzzy little beasts, since he claims to dislike them. That said, I was immediately reminded of Kramer's excessive purchase of bargain beef-a-reeno. Remember? He fed it to Rusty amidst the Seinfeld insanity of an amazing episode, "The Rye." So many hilarious incidentals in a story proclaimed by Jerry to be about nothing. And to continue...

By coincidence, I'd taken butterfly steaks out of the "big" freezer, where we seem to have a motherlode of venison. Don't even get me started. As it thawed, I thought to Google "…what to do with a lot of kiwifruit…" Well, I'll be danged. Who knew of its tenderizing abilities? A match made in heaven for tonight's dinner. Thing is, only one half a fruit will work on five pounds of meat. Just bludgeon me now, why don't ya; that leaves boatloads of kiwis. I digress. Do NOT rub the meat too soon or you'll have smush instead of tender bites. About forty-five minutes to cooking time is perfect. 
Delicious, sprinkled with garlic powder/paprika, sautéed in a little hot EVOO and served with onions.

Buon Appetito.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Florida vs. California as it Applies to the Avocado

We've been to both states. Each has its advantages. California is so diverse… ski in the  morning and hit the beach by afternoon. It's fun, with endless places to see and fall in love with. Florida has the better Disney and the aquamarine waters of the Gulf, making it perfect for blending action with vegging out. It seems equality almost factors in when addressing the two. Same with their avocados…

California has the Haas, probably one of the creamiest, most delicious and healthful foods available. Hard to compete with Haas, but enter the Sunshine State's version. They've fewer calories per ounce, but then they're twice the size of their competitors. A higher water content makes them less creamy. Don't be fooled by the "SlimCado" label; it's a marketing vice. Size is size and calories are calories. Depends upon your intake. Please read hereHeart-healthy can never be bad, as long as you remember to eat your choice in moderation...


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tradition - Sunday Races

It was a balmy 32 degrees, this morning, making race day a nearly tropical experience! Fantabulous.

Congratulations to all the super kids… and to the big kid who did a fine job ski patrolling. :-)

And… Battling for Breakfast

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

A New Day - A New Dawn

Expecting Aubs and Gav in just a few. Tundra schools are closed today. It's -8 degrees with a windchill of -27 (again), affording a reason to keep the kids home. But I'm not feeling awful about having left SC. Inlet degrees? It's 18 with a windchill of 5… not even close to qualifying as tempting temps.

Update, later in the day… lunch at the lake

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Piss and Moan - Pollyanna Takes a Break - What Can You Do

This post requires no photos. And I apologize in advance for its negativity. But some weeks are simply impossible. 

First, the well pump. Okay, so what can you do… a rhetorical question. Water issues solved? Not quite.

Next morning, a drenched boiler room. The hot water tank blew. Back came Paul-The-Plumber. He and Joe set things right, after the delivery of a new tank. Ahem. Water under the bridge? Sure, but with...

A financial toll of about two grand, with a fair price from Paul, discounted cost of material and Joe's free labor. The average homeowner would have paid half again that amount, making us lucky?? :-) Regardless, things are things and don't mean a thing, in the long run. Except, of course, for the monetary burden. Oooh-kay…

Switching gears and on to today's scheduled med-procedure in the Big Apple. A ten-thirty a.m. appointment required my presence by nine-thirty, which in turn called for a departure time of seven a.m. Not till one p.m. were we advised by my surgeon by phone that all might happen at three p.m. Seemed my case had suffered a glitch. This with a gazillion unanswered questions, exhaustion, hunger, thirst and rattled nerves. With the whole shebang postponed by moi, we left Manhattan. Monetarily, the day ran about a hundred bucks for nothing to be accomplished. The emotional toll? Didn't do wonders for my blood pressure.

Upon our arrival home, another call from Ms. Surgeon, who apologized profusely. Remember those gazillion questions? I requested answers to all. She obliged; we parted with apology accepted and a new plan.

"__it happens. Sometimes." Thanks, Forrest, for your precise articulation.

Got plans?? My advice is to stay flexible. We're so not in control. Tomorrow, Mother Nature shall ground us with temps dipping to record-breaking negatives. Mi scusi! Didn't we break those records, last week? Perhaps a day for TV, a good book, some new beads and a loaf from Zo. It'll seem like a party, after today, unless we lose power, eh? All said, I'll take my own advice and remain flexible…

What the hell else can you do… a rhetorical question.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Black 'n' Blue Takes on a New Meaning

Yeah, yeah, corny as hell… but hey, I'm entitled after awakening this morning to a very wet boiler room. Sure, the well pump was fixed, yesterday, but it seems that the hot-water tank decided to follow suit and blow. What to do? Turn the bruisin' into a bracelet and rejoice that the sun is a-shinin' and temps are warmer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't Take It For Granted...

Murphy's Law - A Case In Point

We've discussed weather ad nauseam; no need to reiterate, right? Keep tundra-time in mind, though, as I chat up the latest development, here at the Old Homestead.

In the 43 years we've resided in our gorgeous abode, our well pump has blown 3 times. Not bad, wouldn't you agree?

The first time we were young 'n' rugged and manually pulled the 200 feet of piping across the front lawn and into the woods. It was a memorable, exhausting day… and, we wrecked the entire center of the front lawn. It was springtime and muddy. The next 2 times are rather distant recollections, except for the cold and snowy conditions. I can't get a grip on them; my help must not have been required. That was then - this is now.
Of course, point of access is buried under layers and layers of ice and snow; and the pump is still 200 feet underground.  It's snowing and temps are sub-zero with the windchill. Sorry. It's impossible not to reiterate, as promised, 'cause that's where old Murphy factors in. Dead pump in dead of winter…
To the rescue, this time, is Neighbor Paul-The-Plumber. He owns an Up-Z-Daisy pump puller, currently worth its weight in gold.

Guesstimated shower time? I'm sayin' 4:00 p.m.

Gotta love the odds.

It's Fat Tuesday! Bead It...


"What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

FaceTime Saves the Frigid Day ♡

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

While the innocents voraciously fed on the never-ending supply of seed Joe provides, Big Bad Bird lurked. We made a save. But surely, he'll be back.
For the record, brilliant sunshine took temps from 7 degrees/windchill -11 this morning to 5 degrees/windchill-20 a few hours later. Something's wrong with that result.

Now, I must find Sidney Poitier for yet another viewing of that fantastic movie.

Stay warm, Amigos.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This is Dedicated to the One I Love

If you remember the song, you're old, just like moi. But, man oh man, it remains a classic. And I'm talkin' The Shirelles, dear Friends. Reminds me to spread the lovin'…

The other morning, as Joe and I glanced outside to say, "Buongiorno, World," we simultaneously absorbed and commented on the beauty of the winter Twisted Nut Tree. It's spectacular. And one can't help but notice it every day. But that morning was special. It was the sharing of minds in the moment, pretty much defining our relationship. We often blend into one. As soon as Joe left for work Belleayre, NIK and I captured Twisty. But I digress, so back to the Shirelles…

Though originally released when we were just pre-teens, their version really caught on in the sixties, before others covered the song. Perfect. Back in the day, it accurately expressed the agony and the ecstasy of a two-year, long distance relationship, prior to our wedding date. Separated by miles and miles. Moving in with the fiancé wasn't an option, back then. No texting. No Facetime. No e-mail. And, worst of all, long-distance phone calls cost boatloads of $$$$. Yet, it was love taking us above the clouds. Can you feel it??

Happy Valentine's Day, Honey, with my forever mindful love.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Acts of Kindness

We had lunch at Danny's, today. A window seat afforded us a view of what I've dubbed "The Warming Tree." Look to see the little packages hanging from it; there were more scattered in the snow around the trunk. When we walked over to read the accompanying notes, we realized they were left for people who mightn't have proper attire for the bitter cold temps we've been experiencing. Mittens. Hats. Scarves. Gloves. How awesome is that??!!

In the foreground of the photo, you might notice the remains of a frog ice sculpture, artist unknown.

Lunch was good, too. :-)


It's tough to ignore this weather. What to do? Start another Netflix series, of course. Damages. Did NOT like at the beginning. But sure enough, we were hooked after a few episodes. It's full of twists; have to be sharp for this one. And since it runs for over fifty episodes, it should take us through cold evenings of Tundra Time, possibly bringing us to a warmer spell?? Had we known my second surgery would be postponed yet again, we'd have stayed where sixty degrees seemed balmy.

Don't forget to feed our fine feathered friends. They rely on us, when heavy winds are plunging us to twenty below. Ha. Talk about damages.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cacao Nibs

Endless Possibilities!
When I think twice before consuming something, it's easy to pass by foods that have absolutely no nutritional value. Consider bread.

My new experience with Zojirushi has had me making one-pound healthy loaves with a mere cup of flour, two tablespoons of sweetening honey, eggs and boatloads of fresh/frozen/dried fruit and/or pumpkin/banana, etc. A one-pound loaf of white bread has more than two cups of flour and no redeeming contents. It's not that I didn't make all kinds of scratch breads before… ah, but the simplicity of tossing everything and anything into the machine for a mess-free, excellent end product allows me so much extra time for other loves… and loaves. :-)

Additionally, fruit-breads have replaced starchy, high-cholestrol, dinner side dishes for us. Their satisfying effects seem to remain, eliminating the need for sweet desserts. A piece of fruit or a half-cup of yogurt suffices. And then, there's the simple banana… a great sleep aid, proven by my sound over-six hours, last night. To make it seem special, slice it into a pretty dish and top with a tablespoon of yogurt and pretend it's banana cream pie without crust.
Now, you ask, what do cacao nibs have to do with all this. Please check them out to see for yourself. As of this week, they've become a staple here at the Old Homestead. They'd even be delicious on that fake cream non-pie. 

Another day, another menu...Buon Appetito!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Double the Fish 'n' Double the Fruit

Dinner was delicious, tonight. Fresh blueberry 'n' frozen mango fruity bread accompanied ocean-caught flounder 'n' canned salmon.

Mix salmon to your liking. I used mayo, honey mustard and lemon. Spread on first layer of egged and floured-on-one side flounder fillets placed on sprayed oven pan. Top with another layer of fish, spray with Pam, add a pat of butter to each stack and sprinkle with extra paprika and fresh lemon juice. Bake it in a hot oven for about half an hour.
Serve doubles with salad and extra lemon wedges.
Buon Appetito!

Gran, Lilyhammer 'n' Steak Pizzaiola

We finished the series. "Lilyhammer," that is. A lot of the best was saved for last. Last episode, that is. And when Steven Van Zandt made reference to the stolen recipe for Steak Pizzaiola, I nearly fell off the couch… bringing me to Gran…

Spending summers at the bungalow with Gran brought us a lot of this dish. As Little Steven's character said, "… she used a cheap cut of meat, so it had a lot of fat to make the dish tender…" Okay, so that's not exactly verbatim, but you get the gist.

Gran used fatty chuck steak, which was pan-seared, placed in a baking dish, smothered in tomato sauce and popped into the oven to bake, sort of like a quick Italian pot roast. YUM! Trust me. 

It has been decades since I've eaten or thought about Peetz-Eye-Oh-La, emphasis on the Peetz, but I'm gonna have to give it a whirl. Photo was snagged from the Internet.

We sure hope "Lilyhammer" returns for a fourth season. Meanwhile...

G'Mamma Mia… memories are made of this.

Grammy Highlight Put a Spell on Me… Lovin' Annie Lennox

What a fabulous Grammy show, this  year! Loved the blend of old and new, such as Stevie Wonder and Usher, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Macca with rude Kanye (kudos to talented Beck for handling a situation well) and Rihanna. Need more? Well the absolute best for moi was Annie Lennox and Hozier. Clearly, he looks amazing and sounds that way, too. He took us to church, for sure. But Ms. Lennox? She brought down the steeple house, clearly putting a spell on the crowd and earning a standing O.
Annie has long been a favorite; she is the real deal. Still, I'm open to new talent. There's lots of room in my eclectic music library. Ed Sheeran is my pick of this year. He's adorable. He can play guitar. He can swoon. And he sure can sing. All this at the ripe old age of 23.
Other highlights included seeing Barry Gibb and being amazed by Katy Perry's indisputable talent. 

Lovin' Music.

Better Beach Bead Bracelet by Moi

My first attempt at this bracelet was okay, but all wrong at the same time. My connections were too large and caused the inability to use the five gorgeous glass beads that are supposed to be included in the design. Additionally, my curls and swirls were gnarly and not so hot. Here's my second effort, using teal glass. Can you sense the preening of proverbial feathers? This one makes me happy.

As for the original blackie, it has been disassembled. Ah, the nice thing about this hobby is the ability to reuse components. Kind of reminds me of the time I'd worked three-quarters of the way through a knitted coat sweater. Decided it wasn't perfect enough and ripped the whole thing out, much to my Mom's disbelief and chagrin. I think it's my self-diagnosed OCD, in such cases.

Another bitterly cold and snowy Tundra Day, here at the Old Homestead. I'll be warming up with more beach beads. They own me… hook, line and sinker… yet another intentionally warm, watery visual.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Zoji Bread Transformed… My Way to Pumpkin*Raisin*Apple Bread

Yesterday, I posted the Zoji ingredients for a one-pound loaf of pumpkin bread. Calorically safe with half of that one in the freezer, I decided to use the rest of the puréed pumpkin, so as not to waste it. This time, I added:

Two or so tablespoons honey with the wet ingredients, instead of the sugar… and…

One diced apple, along with more raisins at add-in time… and…

More cinnamon

Works for us. I'm shooting for nutrition-ridden breads needing no spreads (or perhaps one of all-fruit), rather than simply-delicious-but-non-nutritious white bread that begs to be laden with sweet, creamy butter. It was my bout with nutrition issues that makes me think twice about everything we consume. Furthermore... 

Don't be intimidated by the machine's advice to be precise. Once the amounts of wet, dry and added are understood, feel free to play.

This post is for Zu.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bewitched by Breads 'n' Beads - Recipe for a Frigid Day

Omit the letter "r" from "breads" and see the result. Couldn't resist combining the two, especially since each contributed to the blustery cold day we experienced, today. Yep. Negative 2 degrees F., this cold morning. Not to worry, though, 'cause we made it all the way to a positive (?) 16 degrees. C'est la vie, here in upstate New York, where Mother Nature seems to have forgotten about global warming.
I digress…

We've a new resident bread machine, here at the Old Homestead. I'm enchanted by the fact that its little pan does all the work using scratch ingredients. No mixers, dough blades, bowls or mess. Truly incredible. Yesterday, I made an apple bread, a first attempt that was fast devoured before I could access NIK. Today, I played it smarter and captured pumpkin-raisin as proof of the pudding bread. We froze half of this one-pound loaf; thankfully, discipline is back in place. You know the drill for using the machine. Here's the recipe. I did not add nuts, cut back a bit on the sugar and should have added more raisins. We'll play and alter the next time.

While the house was smelling all delicious and cinnamon-y, I began a new craft. First time 'round, it was a tad tough to wrap that silver wire over and under glass beach beads. But, I did it and actually finished a somewhat wearable, albeit not perfect, first bracelet. I was inspired by Heather of Beach Beads & Glass Studio, a fabulous Surfside Beach place to visit. She had a similar-but-far-more-perfect bracelet for sale alongside the gazillions of supplies for this craft. She was gracious enough to explain the technique, as she warned me that wire is the "…red-headed child of beading…" With a wink, she referred to the stubbornness tendency often found in redheads. Okay, okay… don't take offense if you're of that variety. That aside, my projects are now lined up. We shall see.