Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Preparations

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
-Norman Vincent Peale

I spent the day with my mamma. We baked, talked, drank plenty of coffee, listened to our favorite Christmas music, and got lost in the creativity of decorating breads and chocolate pretzels. Being in the kitchen of 862 is beyond comforting. I'm surrounded by pieces of my childhood; old mixing bowls, well-seasoned wooden spoons, and the cookie sheet on which I so proudly carved my name as a tiny tot. It's funny how things that once were just simple kitchen tools have taken on a nostalgic meaning.

In line with my new bread baking fascination, we made two new recipes. The first was chocolate cherry trimmed with a chocolate drizzle, and the other was a banana nut bread that we topped with a sugary glaze and a generous sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Delightful.

Then it was pretzel time. There's nothing quite like the combination of sweet and salty. We made dozens of chocolate drenched pretzel rods and jazzed them with chopped nuts and festive sprinkles. They truly are the perfect snack time fix.

Last, but not least, I will leave you with the most beautiful little snowflake. My mom's tree is covered with them, but this little guy was too twinkly to resist.

May your day be merry and bright.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Bread no.1- Cranberry

“Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovlier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?”
-Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

I've always wanted to own a quaint, little shop that sold books, coffee, and sweet treats. Dreams-We're allowed to have them, right? In an attempt to indulge myself and let my mind wonder to fantasy land, I've decided to try something new. "Weekly Bread" will be my attempt to learn, create, and offer up something delightfully wonderful.

Inspiration lurks in the most odd of places. Recently, while thumbing through a magazine, I came across a photo of a fresh bag of cranberries. "Tis the season," I thought. Pair that with my recent desire to learn how to bake homemade bread, and...wa-la! I currently aspire to try out a new bread recipe each week.

It's also mother-dogger night at 403. Chad-o and some friends jetted of to Pittsburgh for the Steelers game, and it's just down to us ladies. Yea, we were psyched for some quality together time. We are eating junk, taking long, hot showers, reading trashy novels, and drinking strong coffee. I believe we definatley got the better end of the deal.

Because Charlie T. hold the title of "Most Amazing Dog Ever to Walk the Face of the Earth" we also baked some special puppy biscuits. Of course, she lent a paw, and was beyond thrilled to lick the spoon. If I could just find her an apron and chef hat, her ensemble would be complete. Little Peep (as she's also know) thoroughly enjoyed using the star cookie cutters and now plans to make a special delivery to her cousin Millie tomorrow.

Alright. We've baked, we've blogged, we've bathed. Now it's time to book. Off we go to our favorite reading corner where we will esacpe into Ms. Winter's world and possibly discover the mystery of "The Thirteenth Tale." Oh, I almost forgot. We shall also enjoy some warm, savory cranberry bread.

Good night. May your dreams be full of the sweet stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Autumn Project

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
-Mary Lou Cook

Ta-da! My stained glass project is finally finished. I will admit, I love the coziness. As a matter of fact, I like it so much I am going to curl up and read my novel. Happy reading to me.

Charlie T. wanted to show off her new fur cut and colorful Indian corn bandanna. ...precious puppy...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Simple Things and Simple Pleasures

"Sometimes life's greatest joys come from simple moments."

I've been dying for some blog time, but in the rush of daily life I'm amazed at how precious my "free time" actually is. Between work, the gym, chores, dinner, and family time, it's practically impossible to plop down and get lost in my writing world. Thankfully, it appears I have a few minutes to spare.

Simple Thing #1- Don't you just love libraries? The smell of must, mildew, and old pages seem to transport me to an era that no longer exists. I take comfort in getting lost in the shelves and listening to the careful whispers and gently shuffling feet. In a world that has gone so techno, it's refreshing to find solace in a huge building full of stories.

Yesterday I felt compelled to visit the library, as I had finished my book (Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robinson) the night before. If I go to Heaven, I hope it's like a library. And, maybe it could serve coffee and sweet treats, too. As I walked the aisles and glanced from shelf to shelf, it was next to impossible to make my selections. Like a kid in a toy store, I wanted them all. Of course there were a few authors and titles I checked on right away, but as usual, the books that turn out the best are the ones that seem to jump off the shelf. They catch the corner of my eye, capture my attention, and then before I know it, I'm adding it to my pile. When I choose my books I love to think about all the people who read them before me. I wonder what they are like. Do they read in bed? Was it a beach read? Did they drink tea and coffee while turning the pages? Maybe they read while taking a warm bubble bath? Either way, it's fun to think of the stories that a library book can tell. I always bring mine home, carefully determine which one I will read first, and then place the rest in a neat basket. They are safe there, and I'd like to think, comfortable, too. Ahh....the library...a true simple pleasure.

Simple Thing #2- My friend, and fellow teacher, greeted me yesterday morning with a beautiful mason jar full of homemade wedding soup. The simple gesture- sharing food with another- warmed not only my heart, but my tummy, too. In such a self-centered world, it's beyond moving when someone does something out of the goodness of their heart. I'm lucky Maria (and her children) are in my life.

Simple Thing #3- Greta, Greta, Greta! I wonder if there is any connection between Greta's name and how every time I type it, my computer reads "Great"? In true alliteration fashion, I pronounce her Great Greta. Although I have yet to respond to her e-mail, she appears to be a mind reader. As it turns out, I've been dying to try some new recipes. However, my dear Chad-o is allergic to chicken, turkey, eggs, and shellfish. You can imagine the dilemma this poses. Being the sweet, thinker-of-others that she is, she sent me her new favorite recipe with ideas on how to modify it for my hubband (the word husband just seems so old). I'm anxious to give it a try and see how it turns out. Thanks, Greta...for being you and for bein' so gosh-darn wonderful.

Simple Thing #4- Plants. I have this strange obsession with taking a cutting from a plant, rooting it, and starting a new plant family of my own. Recently, the parent of a student in my classroom was kind enough to have a given me a few of her houseplants. I was thrilled, because my classroom also doubles as a greenhouse :) One of the plants she brought me is called an Elephant Plant. I decided to take a few cuttings home today and attempted to root them. Perhaps in a couple of weeks, I can pot them and give them away as gifts. I would like to pass on the happiness.... (The photos on this post are of the Elephant Plant cuttings.) Mucahs Gracias, Mrs. Wilson.

Tonight I wish for you to find the simple things and the simple pleasures in your life. Be simple. Be happy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

I love Sundays, especially the lazy, get-a-lot-of-nothing done kind. I'll admit it, I woke up to laundry and ironing, but made it better by treating myself to some quality time with HGTV. Who says I can't do two things at once?

OK, it's currently 5:30 and pitch black outside. I'm sitting under a blanket because I'm freezing, and I'm holding a cup of tea simply to help keep my hands warm. ...burr....

Currently the smell of "Home for the Holidays" is permeating the air. I have my tea, my blankie, and my munchkin (Charlie T.) curled up on my feet. Life's pretty good and I can't complain. Thank you November for providing me with this cozy atmosphere.

Aside from the festive scents wafting though the house, my amazing sister-in-law and I escaped for a few stolen hours to Starbucks. Having some girl time to chat and catch-up is beyond refreshing. The Christmas feeling continued to grow when we noticed that the over-priced coffee chain is now offering their holiday java selection. Both of us ordered a gingerbread latte, complete with a dallop of whip cream. mmmm....pure bliss.

I later stopped over at 862 to visit with my parents and deliver a late birthday gift to my dad. I may have frozen my toes off on the walk over, but it was worth it. My mom and I created a list of all the holiday goodies we plan on whipping up. I'm especially excited for the english muffin breads and flavored butters.

Last night Chad-o and I traveled to Greensburg to do some shopping and dine at The Olive Garden. I have to hand it to Westmorland Mall. All the trees were trimmed, Santa patiently listened while little ones told him of their wish lists, gift wrapping stations were strategically placed, and the elusive holiday sweater was for sale at every major department store.

I hate to wish life away, but I'm really excited for Christmas this year. Although, sometimes I think the planning, decorating, and gift buying is way more fun than the actual day. Hurry holidays, hurry!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unusual Teachings

Most little girls grow up having fond memories of their grandmothers teaching them to bake cookies or gently showing them how knit and crochet. Grandfathers most likely helped little girls ride bikes, demonstrated how to hook a worm, or even came to the rescue when constructing a handy school project. For better or worse, my fate did not include these cozy normalises.

It's funny how life plays out. This past August my family received the sad news that Mamoo (my grandmother) was going to lose her battle with lung cancer. I vividly remember thinking, "Mamoo has to live long enough to see the results of this election." How strange is that? I find out my grandmother is going to pass away, and my first thoughts turn to the presidential election. I have every confidence that she left this world listening to the conservative, right-wing voices of the Fox News reporters.

In 2003 I said goodbye to my grandfather, my first real political educator. At the time I had no idea how accomplished and involved with local and community politics this man was. As a child I viewed him as a fanatical Republican who obsessed over "the big one" (as he so often referred to World War II), and seemed way too preoccupied with his high status in the Masons. I often brushed off his stories and made light of topics that I'd now give my right arm to have him discuss with me.

Both of these individuals played an instrumental role in shaping me into the strong, opinionated woman I am today. Mamoo and Pap were staunch Republicans, racists (though they would never admit this), hard workers, depression era children, and above all, God-fearing people. They failed to view topics and subjects from multiple vantage points, but were firm and solid in their beliefs. Although neither of them could boast of any formal education, they were smart, full of common sense, and very informed.

My grandfather never called me on the telephone. However, during the presidential election of 2000, he left a quirky message on the answering machine in my college dorm. He tried to be crafty and posed as a solicitor seeking contributions for the Bush campaign. It was hilarious and far better than all the birthday money and Christmas presents he ever gave me. At about that same time, I had been shopping in the campus bookstore and came across a cut-out postcard of Bill Clinton's face. I took great pleasure in purchasing the lovely greeting and quickly mailed it out. After Pap passed away, I discovered the postcard taped to the back of his bathroom door.

I have a sincere passion for arguing and I believe it stems from a lifetime of listening to Democrat bashing and Bill Clinton hating speeches. I credit Mamoo and Pap for providing the political banter that was, and currently remains, a cornerstone of Kaufman family dinners and gatherings. Yea, my grandparents weren't the cozy type, and didn't really fit the role of the typical family elders. My Mamoo and Pap were better. I credit them with giving me my first opportunities to play devil's advocate (anything they said I would argue with), demonstrating that it's important to be informed about politics and the happenings in one's country, and modeling how to be vocal about one's opinion.

Dear Mamoo and Pap,
You would have hated this election. I know you are up in Heaven talking trash about the current state of this world, and you're probably right. It's in shambles down here. Pap, a black man will be president. Mamoo, I know you thought his wife was "Amazonish". Maybe you were right about Mitt Romney afterall.

To think that a good old POW lost to a hotsy-totsy, young, inexperienced community organizer must have you up in arms. Has this country no appreciation for those that served this great nation?

I thought about coming to your graves and leaving Obama mementos, but I worried that you might take revenge and haunt me. Due to my extreme fear of the supernatural, I decided against it. Do they have Fox News in Heaven? You should know I hate that channel, and exclusively watch CNN. I included some photos for your viewing pleasure.

You'll be happy to know that I proudly voted Republican, although you both probably bet against it. Chad-0 and I even went as far as to attend a political fundraiser and put a campaign sign in the yard.

See, all of that arguing really paid off. I ended up seeing things your way afterall.... Let's give this guy a chance, at least he fights for education.

Your "Democratic" Grandchild,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Weekend and Other Goodies

Time goes too quickly. Does anyone know a way to make it slow down? I'm sitting on my comfy couch, reflecting on a great weekend. It was extra-special for Chad-o and I, as we celebrated our one year engagement anniversary. Yes, I got the most "spook-tacular" treat last Halloween. Now I get to spend the rest of my life with the coolest, most fun guy ever. As a tribute to our big event, we purchased a new dining room table. We are now feasting in style.

As usual, the weekend was packed with activities. We celebrated my Dad's birthday with a dinner at 862 and time with the family. My brother came in from Pittsburgh and it was back to the usual Kaufman conversation as we found ourselves deep in the heat of political debate and discussion. I was also extra proud of myself-- I pulled off a butter pecan birthday cake for dear Ace. For those of you who know me well, this is a monumental event.

Saturday brought warm temperatures, unlike the blizzard we were treated to earlier in the week. I got the crazy and very unusual urge to bath and scrub Ruby the Cavalier. Honestly, I am embarrassed to say how filthy it was. Just to give you an idea, I was forced to resort to handy-dandy Q-Tips to scour out the grime. Thankfully, my car can proudly hold it's head high. It now sports a spic and span interior, a fresh wash job, and a new air freshener. I will admit, climbing into a clean car emerges as very undervalued treat.

Then, it was dinner and time at Seven Springs with old and new friends. Checking out all the Halloween costumes provided endless entertainment. However, I couldn't help but derive great pleasure in the Incredible Hulk who lurked in the corner.

Sunday, I had the simple pleasure of enjoying some lazy time. I finished the book "Gone With The Wind" and was amazed at the ending. To think that Rhett would have left Scarlett... I'm now looking forward to getting lost in a biography called "Look Me In The Eye". It's about a boy who grew up with Asperger's at a time when the diagnosis did not exist. I still want to read "The Shack," but am waiting until I can get it at the library.

Tonight I began soldering and constructing my stained glass lamp. I encourage everyone to find a creative outlet. Between stained glass and photography, I've had the most wonderful time. Here are a few snapshots of my project.
These are all the different pieces and a few of the tools.

This photo looks down in to the inside of the lampshade. The tape is holding the pieces together during the soldering process.

I'm not completely finished with the soldering, but this photo shows the outside view of the lampshade. When I am finished, there will be other pieces soldered to the top, finishing it off and providing some added flair.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...