Friday, August 31, 2012

Back on the Bike

At long last, I went for a bike ride this evening after supper. Our weather has been exceedingly wet, which means it's been very mosquitoey and excessively humid. I've avoided the weather by staying indoors. But my lethargy was getting to me, and the wind was brisk, and we've had no rain for two days! So Adam and I took off on the bikes. I was wobbling on my wheels, trying to snap this photo of this adorable daddy/son pair, perched on the river's edge, fishing.
We rode west to the sun and the town marina.
A large hedge of these flowers bloom along the harbor bank. What are they? Do you know?
The sun sank in a hurry to go to bed.
We strolled out on the boardwalk to look at the boats -- so many for sale. See the seagull?
These two pups looked very much like they wanted out.
The sailboat was racing for its slip, leaving the blue moon behind.

Sunday's Snack Plan

This Sunday I'm in charge of providing the "snack" for our after-service fellowship time. This has developed into much more than a mere coff-and-donut affair, no matter how some of us ladies try to keep it snack-like. I mean honestly -- when you offer to feed grown men at 12:00 noon on any given day, can you expect them to eat just a little? I think not.

Adam will make a big crockpot full of homemade meatballs in sauce. 'Nuff said.
I'm making the cheese ball/loaf I made before, remember? With crackers.
I'm also making this delicious-sounding pumpkin dip from this website:
Here's the simple recipe:
15 oz can of pumpkin 
5 oz box of instant vanilla pudding {just the powder, don't make the pudding}
16 oz container of cool whip (Adam will make real whipped cream for me instead.)
1/2 tbl Pumpkin Pie Spice (or your own combination of spices)
1/2 tbl Cinnamon
 Although the carved-out pumpkin is cute, I'm not going to go to that much trouble this Sunday.
To that, I'll add a plate of veggies like carrots and celery, and an assortment of crackers and sliced cheese. You see, we do try to keep it as snack-like food. It's just impossible to keep it to snack-like portions. People will eat what you put out for them, and church ladies are never inclined to put out a measly dab of food when folks are hungry! But you know, our after-service fellowship time is one of the sweetest things our little church does. Very few churches eat together every single week. Many never eat together at all. My huge church that I grew up in still serves a Wednesday night supper ( I think), but years ago they quit the covered dish we children so enjoyed, and decided to have the meal prepared in the church kitchen by paid staff, and the eaters have to pay for their meals. That just takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it? It doesn't feel like the kingdom anymore; it feels like Morrison's Cafeteria. 
Okay, I could go on forever about how the church should be all about God's children bringing their tithes of food into His house and sharing it with each other in celebration. (Deut. 14:22ff)  That's the tithe. Not having an offering plate shoved under your nose so you can write a check, combine all the money, and pay somebody else to do the activities that should be joyfully shared by all. The kingdom of God is all about joyful celebration, and it involves food :) So, go eat together!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This and That and Crafty Things

I've got a lot of crafty things going on around here. My bee cream has been selling well. I bought these metal containers at Michael's and was pleased with them. Then I sold out of cream, and I needed more. And two different Michael's stores had no more. (This makes me a little grumpy, only a little.) These metal tins were $1.29 each, which I thought was good. Other plastic containers were $2.00 or $3.00 each.
So yesterday I roamed around Michael's, looking for another option. And I found these:
They're almost the same size. These floral tins, however, were full of candles. They were in the clearance bin. They were 79¢ each! Adam said, "I can get those candles out for you." So I bought them -- all of them! About 25 of them! And when I went to check-out, I discovered they were not 79¢ each; they were only 40¢ each! Yippee! (Nothing makes me happier than a sweet deal!)
I went to our prayer shawl meeting this morning and found the ladies all astir. An elderly woman with Alzheimer's had donated all her crafting stuff (boxes of yarn, needles, pins, fabric, patterns, notions) for us to pick through and enjoy. I nabbed a few things and thought you'd like to see. Two small pieces of fabric, some pins, and some elastic.
A massive skein of yarn. This thing is really huge. Sorry the photo is dark and fuzzy. It's dark, fuzzy yarn :)
A big old spool of pale yellow yarn. It seems like fingering yarn. No idea what I'll do with it.
A little skein of eyelash yarn too:
And THIS. What is it? It's adorable, and Pom Pom, I brought it home mostly so I could show it to you! I'm not sure, but it may be like something Julia had last year, a plastic "tool" used for children to easily make long tubes of "knitted" yarn. But I really don't know.
Here's the top:
Here's the bottom. I'm assuming the yarn would go up through that hole and emerge through the top of the toadstool, and be somehow woven among the metal prongs to make something. One lady said she had something like it as a child, and they would make place mats and doilies with it.
If you know what it does/how it works, please do leave a comment and let me know!!!


Just a few pics of my morning.
Adam started the dough last night.
Yes, they were as delicious as they appear.
Happy tummy :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Smoothie Prep

Before lunch I did a little helpful preparation for smoothies that we'll want later. Julia used the last of the pumpkin this morning in her breakfast smoothie, so I prepped more servings. One large can will yield five ramekins of smoothie pumpkin. If you don't want to buy pumpkin pie mix (I never do; this was bought by accident by my mom, I think), you can just add sugar and spices to each smoothie, or add it into plain canned pumpkin, as you prep the ramekins.
I place plastic wrap on each ramekin and freeze these little bowls. When we want a pumpkin smoothie, we simply pop a ramekin in the microwave for 30 seconds to loosen the pumpkin from the sides, chop it up a little with a knife, and dump the pumpkin into the blender. Add milk, ice cream, half-and-half, some banana, more spices, or whatever you like.
I also prepped banana for smoothies. I bought 5 bananas at the local grocery this morning, marked down to 46¢ for the bunch because they were turning brown. Perfect for smoothies, though! I immediately sliced them, spread them on a cookie sheet, and froze them. Then I'll put them all in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and we can have as many or as few as we need in a smoothie.
It's nice not to have to put an entire banana in a smoothie, and the frozen bananas add another "frozen" quality to the smoothie that you usually have to get with ice cream or ice.
They also had a small package of berries on sale for about $1.50. I stuck my thumb in there so you can tell how huge they are. I also froze these, for smoothies. Freezing fruit immediately means you don't end up throwing it away when it rots in the basket on your counter, and it also makes for quick, easy smoothie-making.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Moody Neuse

Down at the town harbor the other day, the Neuse reflected the beauty of common things.
How can reflections be more beautiful than the things themselves?
The Capt. Redd is a bulky trawler.
His reflection seems more complicated, more interesting, more elusive.
Almost dreamlike. It's the water.
I left the house in bright sunshine. Four minutes later, on the river's edge, rain was splattering on my legs.
Clouds closed over the last patches of blue sky.
When the sky does this, the Neuse usually turns a dark, muddy brown.
I've learned already this is a river of many moods.

Kyrie's Gift

In case some of you worried that I'd put aside my knitting needles and crochet hooks, here's what I've been working on.
It's a combination scarf/shrug. I started it in the summer and liked the lacey effect. Then I decided it would be a nice gift for my niece who married earlier in August.
Julia models. She's pretty tiny, so it looks rather long on her. But the idea is to have the garment spread over the shoulders, but have less bulk in the front. So, it's a shrug over the shoulders, and more of a scarf in the front.
This is entirely knitted on very large needles, probably a size 20 or larger -- thus, the loose weave. In a couple of places, see how it looks like I might have dropped a stitch? Actually, that's just the loose weave, and if you pull on the garment, it lines itself up again. It looks like something you'd wear out on an evening date.
Julia models the drape.

I put fringe on the ends.
And if you look closely, you can see little amber beads on the end. There are seven on each end, just for a dash of elegance.
I hope she likes it!

The Lamb Roast

On Saturday evening, we had friends over for supper. Adam had been eying some boneless lamb roasts at the local grocery for a while, waiting for them to go on sale into the reduced bin. At last! He got his lamb, and we got our dinner.
He began by baking two baguettes.
He chopped zucchini and onion, salted it, and let it drain for several hours. Okay, all day long. This keeps the veggies from being soggy. Cutting the zucchini this way, in chunks with skin attached, keeps it firm too. Later, he sauteed this in a skillet with olive oil and some chopped garlic.
Tzatziki sauce.  If you've eaten at a Greek restaurant and ordered a gyro sandwich, this sauce is your friend. He made a bowl of it, and we served it onto our lamb roast ... yummmmers.
The lamb. It was already boned and butterflied, I believe, so Adam added lemon and rosemary, probably sea salt and pepper, and baked it: 45 minutes at 325º, and then at 225º until it was 145º internal temp in the roast (which is rare). He then tented it with tin foil and let it sit. It was fairly pink, soft and succulent.
Top that off with good friends, good conversation, good wine (well, I'm not much of a wine drinker, but it adds to the atmosphere!), and it was an all around excellent evening.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Coming Home

Moving around from place to place is so trying. I spent a week back in the mountains, and I think it slightly confused my brain. Now I'm back on the coast, back to the beautiful, peaceful Neuse.
Rain, rain, rain. Bands of rain are sweeping the far bank, in that photo. We've had rain almost daily for weeks.
One of the first things I wanted to do upon returning home was go for a bike ride -- before the rain sent me back to the house! And look what I found! A eucalyptus tree! I'm so happy -- not all locations can grow a tree like that. You need warm, subtropical weather. Now, whenever we get settled into a more permanent house situation, I want to plant a eucalyptus tree. I haven't had one since we lived in south Alabama.
Last night Adam made us salads. Our new shopping/cooking regimen is working well. We shop daily, buying what's marked down to save on money, and driving much less to save on gas. He's enjoying the creativity of it. This is a lettuce salad with green onions, tomatoes, boiled egg, grilled chicken, and his homemade corn tortilla chips. Yes, he cuts corn tortillas into wedges and deep fries them in oil. They are better than any chips I've ever had from the store. And note the one, fun chip -- a little pitcher he made with a pouring spout, for the salad dressing. Is that fun or what?
So cute --
And it worked~ And then I ate the little pitcher :)
At the farmer's market this morning we discovered a large snapping turtle in the huge rain puddle near the harbor. From tail tip to nose tip, he was probably 2 1/2 feet long. A whopper, in my experience of turtles, but locals here say they get much larger in Oriental.
Folks stopped to observe him.
It was hard to get a good shot of him, underwater. As the puddle diminished, he went away somewhere.