Tuesday, February 21, 2017

T Stands For Guilt

Last Tuesday was Valentine's Day. I placed a maple bacon pork loin in the slow cooker quite pleased with myself that we'd have a very nice, Valentine's dinner. I'm happily reading and commenting on the T Stands For posts. I'm salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs as I view cakes with gorgeous, piped frosting roses, strawberries glistening like heart-shaped, rubies, a berry bejeweled cake, and assorted other goodies and then it hits me. Guilt.

While I had a nice dinner prepared and an afternoon mostly to myself, I never got beyond thinking about dessert. Oh No! By now, it was rather late in the afternoon to start baking an elaborate dessert. Pawing through the pantry, I found a boxed, chocolate cake mix. What could I do to make it not look and taste like a boxed, chocolate cake mix?

Help, me, Betty (Crocker)
Help, help me Betty (sung to the tune of the Beach Boy's Help Me Rhonda)

While there were some delicious recipes to transform a boxed cake mix into extraordinary, I didn't have any of the necessary ingredients on hand, and I was running out of time. All I had as an extra was a bag of mint chocolate chips.

I baked the cake with the addition of a teaspoon of vanilla extract according to package directions in a bundt cake pan. When it was cooled, I melted the mint chocolate chips with a couple of tablespoons of butter to make a half-assed ganache. A few candy sprinkles and voilĂ , a not so ordinary chocolate cake.

Now, truth be told, the feelings of guilt were wholly on me. Himself or the girlies would never complain if there wasn't a fancy dessert or no dessert at all. (Well, there might be a few good-natured grumblings if there were no cookies in the cheap hotel) But after seeing all the cakes and goodies online, I felt they deserved a blue plate special dessert. I treated myself to cake and a cup of Bigelow's English Teatime from the blue and white mug Ma gave to me. A friend of hers had given her four blue and white mugs. Two with flowers and two with butterflies. When I first got married and was setting up house, she gave me the mugs knowing that blue is my color and also that she would have a pretty mug for tea or coffee when she came to visit.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Public Domain

“Cats: Pictures without Words”
 by ThĂ©ophile-Alexandre Steinlen (French (born Switzerland), Lausanne 1859–1923 Paris),
 Ernest Flammarion (French, 1846–1936) ,
Paris via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0
Want to use images in your artwork or blog, but want to be mindful of copyright? The best way to avoid issues is to use your own images. But if you're not a good shutterbug or a specific subject isn't on hand for you to photograph, you can find images to use at Morguefile

Recently, the New York Public Library  made some 200,000 images for download. These images are now in public domain and may be used copyright free and without permissions. You can search for images here

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has also digitized over 300,000 images for unrestricted use. You can search the Creative Commons database here

Lots of images to inspire or provide a happy, little, time waster.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Santa's Got A Brand New Hat

While cleaning, I came across a poor, broken Christmas ornament. A year or so ago, Woodland Santa took a spill and a corner of his hat shattered in a million fragments. I didn't want to throw the ornament out. It was one of the more expensive ornaments we have. We bought it from Vaillancourt Folk Art (right here in my little, town) when they had a glass blowing demonstration one Summer. At least I think Santa came from that event.

The glass blower was a young, German fellow and using a mold technique he blew the ornament into shape ready to be painted and decorated. Signed by him ornaments were already packaged and we purchased one at the event.

I wasn't sure what to do with broken Santa. The fragments were so delicate and there were too many to try to glue.  While strolling the Interwebs, I came across a blog where a woman showed how she repaired some of her broken ornaments. Since the crocheting bug bit, I thought I would crochet Santa a new hat. As I was looking through my folders for directions I found this cute yarn hat ornament made from a strip of toilet paper tubing I had saved. Santa's head was a little smaller, but the project was easily adaptable. I salvaged a cherished ornament, got to recycle, and use up red yarn I had, and the project took less time than it would if I had to crochet the little hat. Win. Win.

So, Santa has a brand new hat, and I'm insufferably pleased with myself.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

You're Only Old Once

After I showed the plant stake spoons I made for Himself for Valentine's Day, I was asked what gift did he give me. He is always thoughtful, and I'm never forgotten.

I got a fabulous and funny pop-up card. And it doesn't rhyme! Himself and I don't particularly care for cards that rhyme.

He gave me a bag of chocolate hearts. I don't have a picture because we shared them, and the few that were left I shared with the girlies. They were delicious. The chocolate hearts, not the girlies. Though there have been times in their growing up years when I understood why some animals eat their young.

I got a Dr. Seuss book, You're Only Old Once. Yes, it's a bit of a dig as I'm a year older than Himself., but I love Dr. Seuss. The very first book I was able to read all by myself was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. This book details the trials and tribulations of dealing with aches, pains, and doctor visits. My dad used to say growing old isn't for the faint of heart. That sentiment is expressed in a very funny way as only Dr. Seuss can.

Several years ago, I did an ATC exchange with my friend, Lambie. One month's theme was Dr. Seuss. I chose the quote, "You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in." I knew it was attributed to Dr. Seuss, but didn't know its context. It came from You're Only Old Once.

I also received a beautiful cyclamen. And when he presented the plant to me, I asked, "Was it free?" See, Himself doesn't usually bring me flowers. Unless they are free. Or he feels guilty because some students gave him a bunch of flowers to thank him for extra help. Or in this case, because he went shopping and had a coupon.

I don't really have a green thumb. Sometimes, I look at plants, and they wither and die. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this one going longer than a day or two.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Taken through the dining room window, the squirrel
perches on the ladder to wait his turn at the feeder.
The male cardinal was there.
Five good things that happened this week.

1. The Eldest was able to make it home through the snow without getting stuck in the dead of night.

2. Had The Brother and his family over for lunch. While we were eating, The Nephew noticed the male cardinal sitting on the trellis. Just Dad stopping by. He loved it when we all got together. After lunch, we spent the afternoon playing with essential oils.

3.  Another snow storm. Happily, it was The Eldest's day off so she didn't have to go into work. The Brother had told me no matter how old the kids get, a parent still worries even when the chicks have flown the nest.

4. Himself's school cancelled classes for Monday. The Young One was supposed to start her first day of work, but she received an email telling her to stay home. A snow day for her, too. No worries and the storm for us wasn't as bad as predicted.

5. For Valentine's Day, The Eldest gave me three new essential oils. A blend called Love, and two single oils Cumin and Cardamom. She enjoys playing with the essential oils, too, so now we have 80.

How was your week?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:  

[ed: Dad stopped mid-notebook with directions to continue with another notebook he started. He referred to this notebook as the Lehman notebook, but out of the 3 notebooks I have, none of them have that written anywhere on them.

In this second notebook, I can see the signs of Alzheimer's that I missed with Dad. Most of my focus was on my mother after her stroke, This notebook is a bit harder to decipher the writing. Not Dad's usual  bold, neat penmanship, but hastily written. Lots of things crossed out. The notebook begins with a directive or a notation.]

Insert forgotten much that I can't remember

My Life as I Remember and Lived It

To The Son, and Grandson, my Daughter, Daughter-in-Law, Granddaughters, and my Son-In-Law. It's as the title states. And before anyone can have a life there must be parents.

In a little town in Italy called Torre di [ed: le] Nocelle in the area of the city of Naples, Achille Todisco was born to my grandfather, Joseph [ed: Giuseppe] and Saveria on May 22, 1889 [ed: the correct date is March 22, 1889] He was my grandparents third child. He had an older sister named Angelina followed by Joseph, Achille, Alberto, Alfredo, and a little sister whose name I never hear nor when she was mentioned , did anyone in the family ask nor did her brothers and sister mention her name. They just referred to her. [ed: through genealogy research I found the sister. Her name was Alfonsina Emma Eutilia. She was born in 1893 and died in 1896 at the age of 3 years old] Our parents did not talk about their lives in Italy with us. Once in a while they would so so among themselve or in sotto vocce  indicat whom they were talking about but not in our presence.

My Grandfather Joseph, I think was a shoemaker and he evidently did well economically as he manage to send the eldest daughter and [her] three brothers to America. And may have done better as his sons sent money to their parents.

Angelina came first She married a man name Manuel DeCristoforo. And each brother when my grandfather was ready and asked his daughter, he sent each member of his family to her. Each lived with Zia Angelina until they married. Uncle Joe came first and Achille came next he was 16 years old when he came to America. In fact each brother was 16 years oldwhen he dame. Each had a trade and each was sent to a person who apprenticed them had the trade of barber, tailor. Grandpa was a shoe maker he not only repaird shoes but he also would have a person put his or her foot on a [ed can't make out the word] paper and measure and make a pair of shoes.

Uncle Joe was the first to get married he was a barber and when I met him as a child he had his own business. In Framingham across the side of the street of the town hall.

He also had other barbers working for him and in the back of the barber shop he had another room where women did the latest hairstyles for women.

He also owned his own home. Zia Angelina was not happy with Uncle Joe's wife. He married Aunt Clara a divorcee with two daughters. Two lovely girls. He did not adopt them.

Uncle Fred was a shoemaker and he had a shoe store wehre he sold shoes and also made them and repaired them. He also owned his own home in Wellesley. He married a lovely woma whose name I have forgotten. [ed: Esterina] She died young leaving four boys Tootsie, Charlie, Arthur, Freddy and Ellie. Zia Angelina was not happy with this marriage as Uncle Freds wife was closely related to the Todisco a close cousin [ed second cousin]

Alberto [ed another brother in Italy] did as I remember visit America. I was a few years old at the time and he was a handsome looking guy rather shy and he had his son with him. At the time he had come to say goodbye to my parents as he was returning to Italy.