Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soup's On

There’s nothing like hot, hearty homemade soup to warm a person up on a cold afternoon. At our house we make a lot of soup. Sometimes we make fresh garden soup in the summer but mostly it’s a cold weather dish.

Yesterday afternoon was a typical northeast fall afternoon. Bleak, overcast, with eyeball-freezing wind, it seemed the perfect time to make soup, so that’s what we did. Thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s one of my favorites.

Veggie Soup

1 large onion
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups vegetable broth
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup cut green beans
2 cups chopped spinach
1 chopped carrot
1 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 tablespoon dill
1 cup corn kernels
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
Parmesan cheese, if desired for sprinkling at serving

In a large stock pot, bring broth, onion and potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for Parmesan cheese, and cook, uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, at serving.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I can't help myself. Black-eyed Susans make me smile every single time I see them.

What about you? Do you have a must-smile flower?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Don't you just love a crisp fall day? Blue sky, gold and red leaves and the promise of something new lurking around every corner? Pumpkins, mums, leaf piles... And scarecrows! Let's not forget the scarecrows! We have ours sitting on a table by one of the barns and every time I see "George" I smile.

A breeze just sent a shower of leaves skittering across our lawn. The day calls me...

I'm going to till the gardens, stack some wood on the porch and spread mulch on the flower beds today. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but after the crazy busy week we've had it will be pure fun to be outdoors.

What about you? What kind of day do you have planned?

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Day Trip

From the title, you probably figured we've gone on some kind of wildly intriguing excursion to someplace incredibly exotic--but close enough to get there and back in the span of twenty-four hours, right?

Sorry if I disappoint you, but we took a day trip to the local farm stand. I use the term "local" loosely; it takes about an hour to get to the place, and that's if you don't end up behind a tractor or other kind of huge piece of farm equipment doing twenty miles an hour on a stretch of double-yellow line roadway. Then, it can take considerably longer to reach the farm stand.

So, we took a day to take a ride and enjoy the scenery, with the fruits and veggies as our destination. It was fun and relaxing, and the best part is we got to choose from a glut of winter squashes! I love winter squash, and so does Hubby, so we bought quite a few.

Aren't they gorgeous? Hubby and I each have a favorite from the photos above. He chose his and I chose mine, then we picked one of each of the other varieties.
No, I'm not going to spill the beans on who likes what best. It's more fun to keep you guessing!
But tell me, do you have a favorite winter variety? And if you do, is there a special way you prepare the squash? I'm always on the lookout for new recipes!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exciting News!

LAST CHANCE by Sarita Leone - Click Image to Close

Last Chance is available from Whiskey Creek Press!
Young widow Laura Perkins learned the hard way that life in the rugged frontier isn’t all sunshine and roses. She never planned to find herself alone in a land where gunshots and hangings are commonplace. But planned or not, that’s exactly what happens to her and, short of turning tail and fleeing, she’ll have to learn to live with her circumstances—one way or another.

When a handsome stranger saunters into Granite Creek, life takes a drastic turn. Laura and Chance are as different as night from day, but she still finds herself intrigued by the man.

And Chance? He’s as drawn to Laura as a moth to a flame. Too bad that moth has a trail of mystery—and murder—hot on his trail.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Something Pretty

Just in the mood for something pretty this morning.
I hope you are, too.
Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Always Ours

When a couple marries, families blend. Unconnected people suddenly become connected, and eventually everyone learns to coexist.

Still, there is an invisible division of sorts. You know the one.

It’s the Yours-Mine Line, the subtle separation that exists despite time, marriage or circumstance. It occurs naturally and is generally accepted as an ordinary part of life.

Your brother Kevin. My Uncle Harold. My sister’s best friend, Jane. Your crazy grandmother. See? The Yours-Mine conundrum.

However, at our house there is a slightly different story to tell…

From the first meeting, they were truly family. If not by blood, by something deeper and possibly more meaningful. Their hearts linked and they shared love, laughter and respect. They understood each other, on so many levels.

There was no yours or mine. She was ours—right from the very first hug.

For over two decades my husband and I shared Our Aunt Shirley. She held our hearts in the palm of her hand, taught us more than we ever thought to know about so many things and kept us laughing, even when this journey called life inspired tears. Our Aunt Shirley regaled us with tales from her past, brought joy to the present and foretold our future by peering into the bottoms of our teacups.

She was our family treasure.

Last weekend the sun dimmed, the stars in the night sky twinkled less brilliantly and our world became smaller. Our Aunt Shirley passed on. While we knew in our hearts the sad day had to come, we prayed it would be later rather than sooner.

There are no words to express how much we loved her, or to say how deeply she will be missed.

But while she is gone from this life, Our Aunt Shirley lives on in the hearts of all she touched with her unfailing sense of humor, steadfast love and kind hands. She left a legacy of joy and a wealth of cherished memories. She was a grand woman, and lived an amazing life.

We have no doubt that Our Aunt Shirley is peering down from Heaven, watching over us and giving us guidance and encouragement, love and support. We know she is safe and happy, and entertaining the angels. We feel she has a gentle fingertip on each member of her family, and will always be with us. In our hearts, we believe all this to be true.


There will never be a day in our lives when we won’t remember—and miss—Our Aunt Shirley. Our Aunt Shirley was truly the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a blessing to be shared—and one for whom the Yours-Mine Line was no match at all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On My Mind

What's on my mind?

Pockets. That's it--pockets. In particular, the pocket on women's winter pajamas. I just want to know why that left breast pocket is there, on every pair of ladies' pajamas I buy. Every single pair. I've looked for nightwear without that dratted pocket but they're nearly impossible to find.

Why is that, I wonder? Is this some sort of garment maker conspiracy? A pocket plot? An attempt to drive women everywhere mad trying to find a pair of pocketless jammies?Or, a thought that troubles me even there a purpose to the breast pocket? One that I'm missing completely? And if there is actually a reason for a pocket on pajamas, why hasn't anyone told me about it? Am I the only one who's clueless about this issue?

Now that's even more disturbing! I don't want to be clueless about anything! Why haven't I been informed on the nighttime pocket protocol? Why? I pay my taxes. I'm a good, upstanding citizen. I assist the elderly, children and small animals across the street when the need arises. Why, then, am I being kept in the dark about pajama pockets?

What am I supposed to be putting in that pesky pocket? My cell phone? A pair of reading glasses? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case I feel a hunger pang sometime around 2am? What? Won't someone please take mercy on me and clue me in on what's supposed to fill my pajama pocket? Please?

And this was supposed to be a stress-free, easygoing blog post, wasn't it? Why, then, do I wish I'd tucked a small--

Aha! I think I might know what's supposed to go in that pajama pocket!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forgotten

September 11, 2001.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Hankering

Yesterday, just as darkness began to creep over the countryside, I got an idea. So I slipped into my sneakers and headed back outside. We'd already closed up the barns and potting shed, shut the greenhouse door and taken the garbage to the end of the driveway. So why was I practically running across the lawn at dusk?

Strawberries. I remembered I hadn't checked the strawberry patches in a couple of days. And, I had a hankering. You know how that is, don't you? A craving sweeps over you, one you can't resist? I guess you could, actually, resist...but why?

Within minutes I'd picked enough berries from the closest patch to fill a pretty large mixing bowl. The berries are fat and juicy and, after being hit by the first light frost, sweeter than they are earlier in the season.

Today I'm going to make one of my favorite, easier-than-it-should-be recipes. This works almost as well with frozen berries if you don't have fresh. I thought I'd share it with you, bring a bit of goodness from our home to yours.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Crumb Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 T. melted butter
2 t. vanilla
1 cup sliced strawberries
8 T. butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, granulated sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan.

Arrange strawberries on top of batter.

Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture over berries. Place cake pan in a pre-heated 325-degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Blowin' in the Wind

We all have 'em, those days that just don't seem to gel no matter how hard we try. I've had 'em. You've had 'em. As I said, we've all had 'em.

Conversely, we've all have wonderfully flowing, everything-falls-easily-into-place days. You know the ones. The sun seems brighter than usual. The air smells sweeter. Every task requires less effort. Each moment seems like it shines.

I had one of those days yesterday. I woke to the winds of change. We had branches down in our yard. Tomatoes were blown clear off their plants. It sure made harvesting them interesting! I've never reaped tomatoes from the lawn but at least they were all unblemished. The silver lining, I guess, to having a crop blasted off the vine! But the wind, which persisted all day long, was an added attraction to a day that was...perfect.

We had breakfast on the back porch. The sun was shining and it was breezier than usual but it didn't matter. We enjoyed pancakes with blueberries still warm from the sun sprinkled on top.

Then, we spent some time in the gardens, rescuing crops that had been buffeted through the night. Like I said, nothing was much worse for the wear.

And yesterday afternoon I began writing something new. It began like a dream and snowballed. I love the feeling of fingers flying over keyboard. Honestly? There are few things I like more than bringing what I see in my mind to life on the screen. Days like yesterday make up for the ones when writing requires much more effort.

Not a bad day. In fact, it was a great day in every respect. I'm hoping the breezy influence lingers long enough to finish the story I began yesterday. I've already got a destination planned for it, and am anxious to finish writing...then send it off on a gust to, hopefully, find a good home.

What about you? How did your day go? I hope it was a good one.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pick a Day

Scented with apples, cinnamon and berries, the steamy air in the kitchen swirled when he walked in. Even with the exhaust fan roaring, the room felt as full of flavor as a homemade pie. He stopped and stared at the rows of canning jars on the table and countertops. Then, a grin.

"Busy this afternoon, were you?" A top on one of the dozens of jars pinged and he arched a brow. "Very busy?"

She lifted the final jar from the boiling water bath and deposited it on the counter. There. The day's work was done. Satisfaction swept over her as she twirled the dial and wiped her brow all in one efficient movement. The kitchen was closed for the day.

"Just a little," she answered with a small, albeit tired, smile. "And you?"

Running a hand through his touseled hair, he shrugged. "Just cleaning up the workshop some. Getting things moved so when the wood for the family room floor is delivered we'll have somewhere to put it."

"We're getting that next week, right?"

"Looks that way." He paused. Looked around. "So...what's for dinner?" He covered his head with his hands as if he expected to be slapped with the dishtowel.

A smile playing on her lips, she retrieved three small covered cups from the fridge, along with two bottles of iced tea. She handed them to him, waiting while he arranged everything so nothing would crash to the floor. Silently she grabbed a couple of knives. A jar of peanut butter. A towel-wrapped bundle from inside the oven.

"What's that?" he asked, motioning toward the bundle.

"Bread. I made it this morning before I started the preserves. And in your hands...strawberry jam, blackberry jam and spiced apple butter. Leftovers that wouldn't fit into the canning jars. So," she walked across the room and, using the only two fingers she had left, opened the back door. "are you ready for a picnic?"

He followed. "You bet I am."

"Good," she said, laughing as she dashed out the door. "The last one to the dock's a rotten egg!"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Life is Good

Recently we pulled into a parking spot at a medical facility. I must admit, we were a bit apprehensive but as soon as we saw this tire cover our spirits lifted. Isn't it amazing how one small thing can have such a big impact on one's outlook?
I hope you're having a great Wednesday!