Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

Wishing everyone a Safe and Happy New Year's Eve.
Be careful out there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Years EATS

I've started thinking about the New Year already.
Is your menu ready?  I'm planning my menu today.  Tomorrow I will consider new year resolutions.

When I say my family is from the south, I mean southern Sicily but I've decided on ringing in 2010 with some traditional American southern dishes ~with a twist~.
I'll be shopping for my ingredients today.
So far on my menu I have:

For New Years Eve dinner :
(this should be made the day before to increase the flavor, so I will make it tomorrow)

Lentil Soup with Sausage (Italian tradition)
This is an easy, robust vegetarian soup that tastes almost meaty. The rosemary in the bouquet garni contributes a savory, earthy flavor.
1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrot, diced
2 stalk of celery, diced
1 lb italian sausage (browned, crumbled and drained)
Salt to taste

1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
8 cups chicken broth
A bouquet garni made with 1 sprig thyme and 1 bay leaf (or dried leaves)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan or Gruyère for serving
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup cooked elbow macaroni

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, carrot and celery, and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook for another five minutes until tender. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni, and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the lentils, water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the bouquet garni, and stir in the parsley and cooked macaroni. Serve, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan or Gruyère.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: This soup will improve overnight, and keeps well for three or four days, though you will probably finish it sooner. It can be frozen for a couple of months.

For New Years Day :
Black eyed peas with Ginger - served with Cornbread

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, and soaked
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 slices bacon, 1-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup preserved ginger, chopped
  • 3/4 cup honey

Drain and rinse the beans; cover with fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Add water to keep them from drying out, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 325°. In a heavy skillet, saute onion and bacon over medium heat until onion is golden and bacon is crisp. Drain off fat and stir bacon and onion into beans. Add mustard and salt and pepper, to taste. Add ginger; combine well. Turn into a 2-quart baking dish; drizzle with the honey. Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours. Remove the cover the last 30 minutes to brown the top.

Serves 4.

Collard Greens with Rice

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups collard greens, rinsed and chopped
  • pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

    In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the rice, vegan margarine, salt and red pepper flakes.
Add the collard greens and bring to a slow simmer. Cover and allow to cook until rice is soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a dash of black pepper and more salt and red pepper flakes to taste. For a spicier dish, mix in a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper before serving.
Makes four servings of collard greens and rice.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Reading Challenges Ready, Set......

I have finally set up all the Reading Challenges I have entered for 2010.

In 2008 I entered 4 challenges. I completed 49 books and 15,979 pages.
My challenge to myself for 2010 is to read 54 books and 17,000+ pages.

These are the 11 Reading Challenges for 2010 I have entered !!

A to Z  --  52 books , Titles beginning A-Z, Authors Last Name beginning A-Z
All but 2 of the books from all 11 challenges I was able to merge into the big A to Z Challenge. That took weeks of planning and moving books around.  The logic puzzle to get all those challenges to work together was a lot of fun for me too.

Chunkster  -- 4 books, over 450 pages - Level 2 Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big?
Colorful -- 9 books, Black, Blue, Gold, Green, Red, Rose, Pink, Silver, Violet
Support Your Local Library  --   34 books, Level 1 The Mini
TBR -- 12 books
Thriller & Suspense -- 12 books
What's In A Name  -- 6 books, Food, Body of Water, Title, Plant, Place, Music term
Young Adult --  12 books
Young Adult Through the Decades  -- 9 books, 1930s - 2000s ( I added 1910s)
451 - 4 books, Level 2, Ember

You can find each challenge by selecting the matching button in the far right column.
All my book selections are here:  Adventuring through Life Reading Books
I challenge you to join in on some or all of the challenges I entered.  You can select your own or read along with my selections.  A few of my books are original or out of print books since I purchased them at estate and library sales, but most can be found at your local library.

You can join in any time.  Why not start making a list of books to read !?
I can't wait to start !!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A New Look

I found this new layout and really liked the 'Notebook' look.  Hopefully, this will hold my attention for a long time.  I changed my look a lot last year because I couldn't quite get a comfy feel with what I had.

I hope you all like the look and feel of my new site and visit often.
I have a lot of fun adventures in the plans for 2010.  I can't wait to get started.
Hopefully, you can join along with me in some of them - Like the reading challenges.  I'm really going to challenge myself in 2010.  I plan to enter many reading challenges and hope you join in.  You can enter your own lists or read along with my selections.  I will show you all my challenges and lists tomorrow.

Stayed tuned :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to ALL

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  I won't be back online until after Christmas. 

We've baked our cookies.  My darling daughter and her boyfriend helped this year.  It's a lot more fun with many hands helping.

and they TASTE better too :)

Have a Safe and Happy Christmas everyone.

Merry Christmas to ALL and to all a GOOD NIGHT.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cast Your Vote

Did you read a lot of good books in 2009 ?  You can help make the decision for the best books of 2009.
Good Reads is an excellent site to store the books you've read and the books your planning to read.  You can create your own bookshelf, find reviews on books your interested in and even keep your TBR list going so you don't forget which books you want to read!  I love this site.

Anyway, they are conducting a survey HERE and you can vote for your favorite books of 2009.

I finally completed my Cake Decorating class.  Not perfect, but I am just learning ! plus it was a lot of fun.

It was four grueling days of baking cakes and making icing, using the icing bags and tips then washing them all each night.

But it was fun and I recommend taking a fun evening class if you ever get the chance.

The birds returned to torture my cat again!  this time in the back yard.

I could see my kitten shaking to get out.  I finally let her out to go play with the birds.  :)  she didn't catch any.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cake Deco Class

After the fun with the cookie decorating class, I jumped right into a cake decorating class.  This one is MUCH harder.  This class runs for 4 nights and requires HOMEWORK!  if I had know ahead of time....

The first day we went over basics and learned how to make the icing and how to use some of the 'tools'.
The second day, we had to show up with our own icing and practice with it.
We learned how to write letters and make stars and swirls.

Here's my practice board for the night.

Then yesterday, here is what I found when I got home.  A rendition of Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' !!

All those birds together make sounds a loud sound with their wings. it was fascinating.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Santa sighting

We had breakfast with the Kiwanis and got my first sighting of the big man of the month. Can you see him?

How about now?  just a peak though, it's tooooo early for me.

Here's my next project.  this fabric is headed to my kitchen.  I plan on making simple, panels that will hang from clip on rings.

The fabric is a great winter weight.  I want to keep the chill from creeping through the big window during the COLD days of the LONG winter we have here.  I'm planning on a warmer, cozy kitchen.

A Christmas gift already ?
nope.  We're celebrating my nephews birthday today, so the curtains will have to wait a little longer.

Do you have time for some Sunday morning blog hopping?
1.  BlissChic - look for the Wild Woman poster to print out.  FUN
2.  A Green Spell

one more....
3.  Bringing up Salamanders - she's having a giveaway !

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sights and Smells

First... Reading with Tequila is having a huge giveaway! stop by and try to win a book.  I love books.  I'm hoping to win one!
Another busy week has gone by. 
My Etsy site was bombarded with sales.  Everyone decided to shop at once.  My inventory is getting low - I've got to get to work on uploading more jewelry this weekend which means I'll need to make more jewelry.  {{more fun}}  that wasn't a complaint!  My jewelry I've been selling at the gift shop on consignment has been flying off the shelves too.  I've had to focus on that first and bringing all my new creations there first.  Being able to touch and feel still has its advantages over online buying.
I meant to take pictures of the bracelets and necklaces I made for the gift shop but I've been so busy, just getting them finished and to the shop was enough.

I took a cookie decorating class this week - just for something fun and different to do.  (like I don't have enough hobbies already)
we learned to work with fondant and poured icing.  here's my decorating 101.

I froze a bunch of cookies and will decorate them the night before my knitting club meeting in a couple of weeks to share with the group.

Our plan to start walking more ended after the first day  :)  at least we got out there once this week. 

We went out to the Moosehead for dinner and G got a little silly.

I'm glad we got the tree up early this year.  It's helping me focus on the Christmas spirit a bit more.  Sitting by the fire with the lights on is so cozy now that it's cold out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Mood

We've started decorating for the Holidays.  G was so good to help, he carried all the boxes up and down for me then helped me put the tree together. 
By the time he put the topper on the tree though, he was done. 
Any more house decorating was not on his agenda.  Fortunately, my neighbor A. came over and helped me put up lights around the house.  I'll take pics of the house lit up tonight and upload them.

I'm glad the decorating part is DONE.  I end up thinking about when to start everyday.  that's one less thing I have to think about.  It's all about relaxing and enjoying the season now (along a little gift shopping).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Virtual Cookie Swap

        Kathy from Bermuda Onion and Julie from Booking Mama have been running a series of the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies.  Today they are asking that we join in and post our own recipe for a Virutal Cook Swap and link to the Virtual Swap here.

The idea behind the Cookie Swap came from the new book out called    by Ann Pearlman.

Since today is the day to share cookie recipes -- a traditional one for Kathy's blog and/or a chocolate/candy recipe for Julie's blog, here are my entries in the Swap.
Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
2 2/3 c flake coconut, firmly packed
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c unbleached flour
4 egg whites, unbeaten
1 c sliced almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (mini or regular - I use the mini size)

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine coconut, sugar & flour.  Stir in egg whites, almonds, 4 oz of the chocolate chips, vanilla & almond extract.  Form balls from rounded tablespoonfuls & place 2" apart on lightly greased cookie sheets (I use parchment paper).  Bake 20-25 min. until golden.  Remove from pans while hot & allow to cool. 

Melt remaining 4 oz chocolate chips in double boiler, stirring until 2/3 melted; remove from heat & continue stirring until completely melted.  Drizzle the chocolate over the cookies and allow chocolate to set.

Pecan Caramel Surprises
1 c pecans (3 1/2 ounces)
1/3 c plus 1 tbl granulated sugar
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, sliced
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c flour
24 soft caramel candies
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Using a food processor, grind the pecans and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for 20 seconds; transfer to a medium bowl. 
In the food processor, pulse the butter, remaining 1/3 c granulated sugar and the vanilla until combined, scrapingthe bowl once or twice.  Add the flour and pulse to combine.  Stir into the pecan mixture.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll 1 tablespoon dough into a ball, press a caramel into the center, then roll to enclose the caramel.  Repeat with the remaining dough and caramels;  place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake until lightly colored, about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes;  coat with confectioners sugar while warm.  Coat again just before serving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On being Mrs. S. Claus

Timing is everything.  I worked hours creating my list of 52 books for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge and at about 1/2 way I couldn't think of any more books that would fit into the alpha slots I needed so I decided to go to the library for inspiration.  When I got there I found it was the first day of the Friends of the Library used book sale!

I managed to find 7 good selections that would fit into the empty alpha slots I had and with the 5 books on my TBR list at home, I now have 12 books in my TBR list which will give me one book a month to read of my own.  The rest of the 40 books will be either library books or mp3 e-books.  It's a perfect combo for me.
Once again in case you missed it....
here is the link to my Reading Challenges Blog...
Adventuring through Life Reading Books

I still have  5 authors that I haven't found books for, letters O, U, V, X and Y.  If I can't use the letter on their last name, I will use the letter for the first name of the author, but I've 10 months to find what I'm looking for so I can take my time searching for what I want.

On to Mrs. Claus.  Today is the day I work on my Christmas list.  I'll also bring out some of my decorations; snowflakes for the hallway, greenery and lights for the mantel and staircase.

Heck, some of my neighbors already have their tree up and outside lights going every night.   We are almost one month from Christmas and the holiday does fly so I'm becoming more patient with starting the season early.  It's a cozy time of year for folks, let them enjoy it. I may even join them and put my tree up earlier this year.

and ...since I haven't blogged in so long, I've missed my
Sunday morning blog hopping
I've been doing a lot of research for my book challenges this week so I will share some of the fun book blogs I found.

** They have a lot of book giveaways **
Booking Mama
J. Kay's Book Blog
Melody's Reading Corner
Reading with Tequila
The Book Chick

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Preparing for 2010 Challenges

In 2008 I completed 4 reading challenges and read 49 books, 15,979 pages in one year.  I had so much fun with them I'm signing up for some challenges in 2010 to read 52 books in one year.  If you like to read and want to stay motivated to read I suggest looking around for a reading challenge that fits your style.
Here is the link to my Reading Blog:  Adventuring through Life Reading Books

I've been working on my lists for the challenges all week and have a lot of work left to do but I will share what I've done so far.

I have signed up for the YA (Young Adult) Reading Challenge.
Here is the link to sign up hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog and you can find all the rules and sign up links for the challenge at this link.

The second one I've signed up for is Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge - Its a bit deceiving, the rules include cozy mysteries which is what I will be reading for this specific challenge.  This is hosted by Book Chick City and you can find all the rules and sign up links for the challenge at this link.  ** I can't pull the picture button for this one. I'll keep trying.

 The main challenge I've signed up for is the mother ship :) .  All the other reading challenges will roll up into this challenge to complete the 52 books I will read in 2010.

This is the A-Z Reading Challenge.  It's a challenge to fit in the books you want to read and to get books to fit from the other challenges.

This reading challenge is hosted by Reading with Tequila and you can find all the rules and sign up links for the challenge at this link.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So Far This Week....

I've kept busy this week.
First Monday-- here's my new hat that came in the mail that I won from Buzztime !!

Love the hair huh?  I almost look like Carrot Top!  UGH.

Tuesday.  I joined the Berea Knitting Club -  I took a knitting class in October and had so much fun with it and have found knitting to be soothing and relaxing so I decided to join the Berea Knit Club.  They meet once a month at the Berea Museum 2 miles from home. 
Tuesday was my first meeting.  They are all very nice people.  I received 2 carry bags, a pen, a magnet and a book "Casting Spells" by Barbara Bretton.  I can't wait to read it. (more on that tomorrow)  So Tuesday night was the annual 'Auction' night.  Everyone who wanted to could bring in their yarns and other knitting items that they know longer want or use to be auctioned off.  The money is split between the owner and the club.  We used a real auctioneer.  If you live around Berea you have probably seen him at estate and county fair auctions.  He's very good and very funny.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I won and didn't even know I was trying.   A few weeks ago we were playing buzztime at Tony K's and some football trivia game came on.  I started playing and guessed at everything, I barely understood the questions so the answers were beyond me.  Apparently winning had nothing to do with how well a person did.  Looks like names were randomly drawn to win prizes.  I didn't win the biggest prize - I won a baseball cap with Buzztime embroidered on it.  I took a picture of me wearing it but I'm too tired to upload it tonight.

It's only 9:00 and I'm exhausted and ready for bed.
I'll upload pics tomorrow and have some news on what I've done this week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gotta Lot Going On

Two weeks have flown by.  I spent most of my time creating new jewelry pieces for the consignment shop I sell at "Treasures From The Heart" in Olmsted Falls.   Kim is having her Christmas open house this weekend so I needed a lot of new sparkly Christmas items for my shelf.  But in-between creating and working I had a few chances to play with my new camera and I've got to say I LIKE IT!!!

We celebrated my nieces birthday.  Happy Birthday T!

My darling daughter A. showed up with her boyfriend M.  to celebrate with T. I'm so glad she moved back from Phoenix.

 Last weekend I went to the International Gem show and had a blast.  I spent more than I should have but G convinced me it was ok since beading is my hobby and I enjoy it soooo much.  Here's some of my new found stash !!!

I can't wait to play with them all, but I promised myself I would clean up my office first.  It's such a mess I don't even know where to start.  how does life get so unorganized.  I guess I'll have to start with boxes to separate the keep from the no longer useful.  wish me luck, I'm one of those that find it hard to throw things away even if I haven't used them in years.