Friday, April 29, 2011

Easy As Pie...But Not

The weather's been so miserably damp I felt like having something warm and filling for dinner last night. A frozen Amy's meal just wasn't going to cut it. And I wasn't in the mood for what's become a staple here, the ever-popular PB&J.

No, I forced myself to cook. Sort of. It was an easy recipe and made enough that I froze some and will have leftovers for at least two meals so that must count as cooking, right?

I threw together a loaf of beer bread--doesn't get any simpler than that!--and I had a meal. Not a bad one, either. I'm sharing the soup recipe because I thought you might be feeling damp and hungry, too.

Oh! Before I forget, I'm blogging at The Lark Journals today. Posted some photos from here on the farm. Please come take a peek if you've got a moment.

Just out of curiosity, what did you have for dinner last night? Hmm?

Sopa del Maiz (Corn Soup)

2 cups corn
1 cup creamed corn
2 small onions
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
cheddar cheese

Chop onions. In a large skillet, saute onions in melted butter until onions are translucent. Stir flour into onions and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, and add milk. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Add corn and water. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Stir often.

Serve hot. Soup may be sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese, if desired.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


First, the snow came. Then, night two of the spring experience.

The rain crashed down last night, the wind howled and the television announcer must have gotten a sore throat. Again.

"If you can hear this warning, seek shelter immediately! You are in the path of a very dangerous storm. Rotation has been spotted in the atmosphere and you need to find a safe location. A tornado has been spotted in your area. Go to the basement or an interior room. Stay away from windows! And if you see the storm approaching, find safety immediately!"

So...what do you think I did?

That's right. I went to the window and looked out. How else would I see the storm approaching?

It was dark. I didn't see a thing.

And go to the basement? By myself? Doesn't this guy know there are spiders down there? Fortunately, there's also a bottle of rum on the shelf beside the furnace so if I ever really do need to seek shelter maybe I won't mind the spiders so much.

Safe location? Is he out of his mind? By the sound of the beeps and buzzings coming from the television, the safest spot might be Tahiti. Or maybe Barbados, which honestly doesn't sound like a bad idea at all.

Still stormy today. I'll keep an eye on the weather channel, my mind on my manuscript and stay close to the basement door. I hope I don't have to go down there, but with this stormy weather I'm staying prepared.

I'm horrified by the devastation this weather system has left behind. My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been impacted by the rash of tornadoes. So very sad.

What about you? How're things in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Before my guy passed away, we spent a lot of time in bookstores. A lot of time. We both enjoyed browsing, chatting in the cookbook aisle and hauling home a stack (or two!) of new books. He favored cookbooks, nature guides and puzzle books, with the occasional classic thrown in for good measure. Me? Crazy for romance, mysteries and crossword puzzle books. Also loved cookbooks, big time.

Now, bookstore browsing has lost its appeal. It's just no fun without him. And, to be perfectly honest, the financial situation has changed so, for now at least, the days of bringing home stacks of books is out of the question.

But, every once in a while a gal's gotta splurge, doesn't she? Besides, I don't remember the last time I bought a book. I know it was in the hospital gift shop but I can't for the life of me remember when or what I bought. The only thing I'm sure of is that I left it in the patients' lounge for someone else to read when I was done with it. That's what I did with all the books I bought last year.


Yesterday the UPS guy pulled into the driveway. Man, I was psyched--I heard his truck and met him at the door. A few days ago I splurged, calling B&N and ordering a short stack of books I've really wanted to read.

I am so excited by these books, I can't even begin to tell you how much they make me smile. I think I feel a smile coming from up above, too. My guy loved watching me mull over which book to read first, the way I did last night. I opened, then closed, each one, knowing full well they'll all quench my thirst for a good romance. Too, they'll sweep me away, letting me escape for a while. I need that.

Well, I'm not going to divulge which book I decided to read first. I'll just say that I was awake into the wee hours of the morning, and this time it wasn't because of insomnia. No, I was deep into a fabulous story--and loving every minute of it.

Yes, this was definitely a worthwhile splurge!

On the topic of fabulous books, have you peeked in at The Lark Journals this week? Big news! One of Kathleen O'Connor's romances has been rereleased. If I had known about it last week, it would have been on my book splurge order. Now you know what's at the top of my new splurge list! Why don't you check it out? Kathy writes such heartwarming, realistic romances. I never can put one of hers down without reading it from cover to cover.

So, what are you reading? And have you splurged on anything lately that's really brought you pleasure? I hope you have, and I hope whatever you chose makes you smile the way I'm smiling now.

Have a peaceful day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Busy Evening

Last night I didn't know what to do with myself. Couldn't concentrate on the book I'm reading. Didn't feel like writing. Hand sewing held no attraction.

Finally I rummaged in my fabric stash, found a yard-and-a-half of pretty fabric and grabbed my scissors. Snipping, measuring and sewing kept me busy for most of the evening.

Now I've got a pretty new shirt to wear around the farm. This yellow is sure to make me smile, don't you think?

What have you been up to?

Before I forget, I added a few items to my Etsy shop over the weekend. I'm having a ball with the venture--thanks to everyone who urged me to take the plunge!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gotta Laugh

Friday afternoon the sun peeked out for about an hour. When the rain stopped I headed straight outdoors. The gardens were wet so I decided to wash Vito's truck.

It's big. And not automatic. And I've only ever been a passenger in the vehicle.

But this new life of mine is fraught with new adventures, isn't it? Things I must figure out and conquer, right?

You know what I did. I clambered into the driver's seat, put my foot down on the clutch and, using my toes to hold it all the way down, I started that big truck and took the plunge--I shifted and began to drive. I have to admit I stalled it once, trying to shift into reverse on the inclined part of the driveway. Otherwise, though, I was jazzed because I didn't hit anything and managed to get the truck where I wanted it to be.

It's a good thing I didn't pat myself too hard on the back because when I hopped out I got a surprise.

That's right, I parked on the hose.

Gotta laugh, right? I know for certain there was laughter in heaven!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Wishing you every Easter blessing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Our anniversary was a few weeks ago. I admit, the thought of spending the day without my guy right here beside me was unsettling. Then Cousin Joann (a wise woman who is, thank God, recovering beautifully from her medical issue!) said, "Do what's meaningful. Ignore the rest and focus on what means the most."

So, that morning I headed straight for this little bulb garden. It was a gift from my husband and is one of my favorite spots here on the farm. But in the year we'd been gone, the weeds had taken over.

We battled so don't think weeds can scare me, do you?

I spent hours working on the spring garden. By the time I wiped my hands on my dirty jeans, I was at peace, content and very satisfied with what I'd done.

These are the photos from that day. You can see how things went from awful to orderly. I bought a new bag of mulch to put down but it's been raining so that's still on the to-do list. And as soon as it stops raining, I'll take photos of what's blooming there now.

Meaningful moments here on the farm. Anything happening in your backyard?

Friday, April 22, 2011


I'm at The Lark Journals today talking about a very important per--ah, a very important fe--um...well, I'm talking about someone special.

Please, find us here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fast Spatula

Last night I pushed myself back into the kitchen. I can't live on frozen dinners and cold cereal forever, can I? That's how I convinced myself to dust off my spatula.

And, after a day of dusting, vacuuming, wood stacking and writing (see the last one?) I was hungry.

So, one of my favorite recipes. I adapted it a bit, leaving out the sour cream, parsley and applesauce. I just used ordinary jarred salsa. It was yummy and I've got leftovers! Yay!

That's good, because I could be hungry again tonight. Snow-clearing does that to a gal.

That's right. It's snowing here. I don't want to talk about it!

Hope you have a warm Thursday.

Bean Cakes with Apple Salsa

1 can black beans
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 T. taco flavoring
2 cups shredded apples
small bunch cilantro
vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
½ cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup sour cream
2 T. chopped parsley

Chop onion into small pieces. Chop cilantro. Set aside.

Place beans, bread crumbs, eggs, onion, garlic and taco flavoring into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is nearly smooth. Pour bean mixture into a large bowl and add apples and cilantro and stir to mix.

In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, salsa, sour cream and parsley. Chill.

In a large skillet, heat a small quantity of vegetable oil. Using a ladle, scoop out bean mixture into skillet, flattening with back of ladle to form small cakes. Fry for 5-6 minutes on one side, then turn cakes over and fry for 4-5 minutes on the other side, until both sides are golden brown. Serve with chilled apple salsa.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wet Wednesday

Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day...

Feeling kind of waterlogged here. Really, it's been cold and drizzly for days. Know what that means? My yardwork to-do list is gathering dust. And, I can see the weeds growing in our flowerbeds.

But you know what? I'm not perturbed a bit by Mother Nature's antics. Not today, anyway.

Acceptance, that's what I'm feeling. It's such a small thing, this weedy sogginess. And, it alleviates any guilt I'd be feeling for ignoring the weeds in favor of...

Drum roll, please!


Yes, that's right. I did it, I actually did it. I began something new--in a full-on, committed way. The first page was the hardest but now that I'm deep into Chapter 2 I'm fine.

I worried I'd forgotten how to write. Now it seems a silly, embarrassing admission but there you have it. The unvarnished truth.

Kind of pleased by the raindrops, now that I think of it. Come on, weeds, make yourselves at home this afternoon. I'm writing, and don't give a fig what you're doing!

What about you? Any plans for this sweet Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Lark Journals

It's been a long time since I've posted at The Lark Journals. I'm so grateful to Kathleen O'Connor and Margaret Blake for keeping the blog alive!

Today I'm taking the plunge and posting over there. It's another step in my journey toward finding my way in this new life of mine. I hope you'll stop by, say hi and join us in the "nest."

The Lark Journals

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good Clean Living

Our friends Penny and Jim hold an Artisans' Fair in their barn a couple of times each year. The last event took place last weekend. This is the welcoming committee. I don't know if the cow has a name. All I know is she's pretty big and I am always grateful there's a fence between us.

A shot of one corner of the barn. There were so many different types of art and some of the artists demonstrated their talents. I watched a basket being made, saw a woman hand-looming fabric, felt the tinsmith's hammering right down to my toes and learned about soapmaking, glassworks, jewelry creations and leatherworking. Also, I had a first-hand account of what it's like to fire pottery at ridiculously high temperatures! Amazing, the creativity lurking within so many friendly faces! The barn is gorgeous. Penny and Jim have worked for years to make this structure a gathering place. It is warm and welcoming, not at all "barny." Is that a word? Whatever--you know what I mean. No one needs to watch where they walk in the big red barn--a very good thing, I think.

Snowshoeing, anyone?

Good clean living at its best. I know this barn sale made one very special angel smile!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week

...and a leap of faith.

First, Holy Week. You know I've been having the whole insomnia issue, right? Well, sometimes that comes in very handy. This morning I watched the Holy Father celebrate Palm Sunday Mass from St. Peter's Square. Loved every minute of it. Thank you, elusive sleep!

Now, the leap of faith. See that little block on the sidebar? The three bunnies, just below my darling man? That's right, you've got it. Know what it is? Yep, it's the link to Sew Cherry Pie. Put just a few things out this morning, to see how the whole Etsy shop thing goes. Wish me luck!

So, what've you got planned for this windy, rainy Sunday? Anything interesting?

Me? I plan to sit by the fire, drink chai and catch up on my correspondence. That's right, I still write letters, the old-fashioned way. Color me retro! Anyhow, that's my plan for the day. Relaxing. Low key. Quiet.

If I get a chance this evening I have a pattern for doll clothes I'd like to give a whirl. I know a couple of cuties whose American Girls might need new outfits...

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

The first item I plan to put in my Etsy shop, Sew Cherry Pie. I made more than one of these and have already sold the other one so I figure it might be the perfect way to open my little shop. What do you think? Is it the right choice? I plan to cross Open Sew Cherry Pie off my to-do list by Sunday. I'll fill you in on the details as soon as I know them.

Today, though, I've got a date with a rake. And a hoe. And a couple of bags of manure, garden soil and mulch. And yes, gardening gloves.

What have you got planned for the day? Whatever's keeping you busy, I hope it's something you enjoy doing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Stylish? Who knew?

Thanks, Dru!

The rules for accepting the award:

1. Thank the person who so kindly bestowed it and link back. Check.

2. Share seven things about yourself. Check.

3. Pass it on to seven other stylish bloggers. In this case, I'm leaving it open to anyone and everyone who reads this. I figure, if you're here, you're stylin'!

Okay, my seven tidbits...

1. I love playing in the dirt. This past week I've been elbow deep in soil, weeding and reclaiming our garden beds. I'm sore but happy.

2. Classical music? Big fan. Even bigger fan of Italian opera. Also, Bon Jovi. Go figure!

3. Purple is my favorite color. I like all the rest but purple definitely does it for me.

4. Am beginning to miss cooking and baking which is a very good thing. Vito and I spent a lot of happy hours in our kitchen. I look forward to the day when I go in there and celebrate our cooking joy rather than missing his hand on the whisk.

5. Yankee fan here. That certainly drew attention last summer when we were trapped in Boston. Actually could see Fenway Park from Vito's hospital room. Nice park, but no Yankee Stadium. Told you...Yankee fan here.

6. I really, really, really want to learn how to knit socks.

7. Cousin Joann is on my mind this morning. She's having a life-altering medical procedure today so I'm holding her close in my thoughts and prayers. If you could, please say a special prayer for her or send a good thought her way. Thank you!

So there you have it, seven tidbits about me. Now, what about you? Your turn!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Vines, Nails and Chairs

"I'm late. I'm late. For a very important date. No time to say 'Hello.' Goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. " - The White Rabbit

Happy Monday!

I hate to dash again, but it's supposed to rain this afternoon so I've got a small window of opportunity.

My mission? I've got a date in the vineyard. The grapes are calling, begging to be weeded and pruned. They have been neglected for a year so they're not asking for anything they don't deserve.

So, I hope you have a lovely day.

Me? I'm going to spend the morning in the yard. Actually looking forward to getting dirty!

Then, this afternoon I have another date...with a new file, a story bubbling in my head and a chair. The chair? To plant my behind in. I'm determined to get started on a new book, even if I've got to nail my pants to a chair.

See you tomorrow. I'll let you know how this goes. What have you got planned for the day?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Good Day for...

baking. I love these cookies. So quick and easy to make, and so yummy.

What are you doing today? Hmm? Any baking in your future?


3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses and beat well.

Sift together remaining ingredients, then combine with the butter mixture. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Form dough into small balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Zipping Along

Good morning, friends. I hope you've got a great Friday planned.

Me? I'm zipping along this morning, dashing in to wish you well before scrambling into my sewing chair. I've got to make two messenger bags...before noon.

So, zipping, dashing and scrambling here.

Have a nice day!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Itchy Fingers

I'm just going to say it. It's good news, so I'll share it right off and not waffle (as Aussie Jude would say!) over it.

I'm getting itchy fingers.

No, I don't have a finger fungus or weird skin condition. It sounds that way, though, doesn't it?

I mean I'm getting antsy to put these fingers on the keyboard and--dare I say it?--write. Yes, that's the truth. And, still better news, I have a fresh story dancing in my head. It's teasing me, calling me to come play with the characters. Not nearly fleshed out, but it's there. And that, my friends, is progress indeed!

Today I'll be doing more yardwork, then finishing up a few sewing projects but by next week I should be able to carve out a few hours each day to just sit down and write.

What's new with you?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


On this day in history, the world's most wonderful, loving, amazingly awesome man married a lucky young woman. They were so perfectly matched that for many fabulous years they shared complete bliss. They held hands, spoke without words and danced beneath the stars. They laughed. They loved. They lived. It was sheer magic.

Now they still love and occasionally they even laugh, but they are separated.

Someday, though, this intermission in their love story will conclude and they will once again hold hands, communicate silently and when they dance it will be on the stars, not beneath them. Again, they will share complete bliss, and their world will be filled with the kind of magic that true love brings.

They will live happily ever after. Amen.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Snow Day

Yes, you read right. It's snowing here. And guess what? It's sticking.

Oh. Happy. Day.

I'm hoping the temperature rises a little, so this mess will melt. Fingers crossed! Until then, I'm averting my eyes when I pass the windows.

Did anyone watch Dancing With the Stars last night? Vito and I never watched scheduled television, opting instead to view movies so this is a new thing for me. I've got to admit, I'm hooked. I love dancing and it's great to see the weekly evolution of the players.

Of course, I felt awful for Kirstie Alley when she and her partner fell. But talk about grace under pressure. They got right up and danced beautifully! Way to go!

Today, some household chores. Then, a bit of sewing this afternoon.

Yesterday I fiddled with an idea, then made my first messenger-style bag. I cut and recut, stitched, tore out and restitched, but I'm finally happy with the proportions. This afternoon I'll make a second one, just to see how long it takes to construct when I'm not trying to get the measurements down. Now I'll just look at my notes, and hopefully this will go together fairly quickly.

What's on your agenda for today? Want some snow?

Monday, April 04, 2011


Calm. That's all I can really say about yesterday. And calm? It's highly underrated. Truly, it was so refreshing to simply have a peaceful day.

After Mass I came home and was out of my church clothes in half a heartbeat. It was funny, how fast I ditched my cords and sweater, hopping into grubby jeans and an old sweatshirt. Then, gardening gloves!

The weather was gorgeous. A little bit breezy, but warm and sunny--perfect for working in the yard. Our garden beds are all overgrown and neglected (that's what happens when you walk away from life for a year) so I've got a big task ahead of me. Reclaiming the property will take time, but that's something I've got. Yesterday I spent six hours digging in the dirt.

Near the doorway to my husband's workshop, there's a flower bed. It hugs a stone wall, the ideal spot for a splash of color. Vito loved cosmos, so that's what we plant there. Last year nothing was planted in the bed, and it was choked with weeds. But six hours, a bit of muscle and lots of determination later, the bed is clear of weeds, raked smooth and ready for planting. Color me tired, but satisfied.

And calm. It is amazing how soothing working in the earth can be.

It's raining today but the next time there's even a spot of blue in the sky I'm heading back out to work in the next neglected area. I'm doing it for the farm and flowers, but mostly myself. This bit of tranquility is a very welcome change. I need it.

Oh! Saturday's baking was a success! Want to see?

Beer bread


Hope you have a great day!

Saturday, April 02, 2011


It is a gorgeous Saturday morning here in the middle of nowhere. The sky is blue, robins and bluebirds are zipping around and the snow sparkles.

Oh, right...the snow. Well, if you overlook the layer of snow covering everything, it really is a pretty spring morning. Maybe the snow will melt.

Yeah, I've got a bridge to sell, if you're interested...

Me? I'm ignoring the sn-- ah, the white stuff. I've got a long To-do list and don't have time for Mother Nature's nonsense. On the list? Oh, the usual. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping, bringing in firewood. And, if my mood stays the same and my chin doesn't hit the ground (I'm going to try real hard to see that it doesn't!) I'm going to bake. Yes, that's right, I'm going to dust off the oven, wash some mixing bowls and, for the first time in over a year, I'm going to bake. It's time.

Vito and I loved creating in the kitchen, and that enjoyment included baking. I'll tell you, he baked the best apple pie in the world. Truly, he did. It was so amazing that when we invited folks for dinner they'd request his apple pie for dessert. Before I get teary-eyed, moving along...

I've got to get back on the kitchen horse eventually. I can't live on frozen dinners forever. And, I might find happiness doing what we enjoyed. So, baking. Today. Something simple to start. Maybe cookies or a quick bread. Just something. Like I said, it's time.

Tonight I've got a date with some bunnies. Not somebodies, some bunnies. I've got about thirty that need to be stuffed because, well, just because bunnies shouldn't be flat. I'll stuff them tonight, put eyes and whiskers on tomorrow and then they'll be ready for their Big Day. It's hard to believe, but Easter's right around the corner.

What about you? What are you going to do this gorgeous Saturday?

Friday, April 01, 2011


You can't imagine how it feels to walk in someone else's shoes until you've done it.

Me? I'm learning a painful lesson. A widow's shoes are torturous, and the journey is difficult beyond words.

In the midst of my new circumstances, however, come invaluable pearls of comfort and wisdom. Their source? Other women who have worn these shoes and lived to tell the tale. Margaret, who is so wonderfully kind and reassuring, telling me that in time I will feel better. I know she is right, and hold her in such high esteem that I keep her words near to my heart. My husband's widowed aunts reassure me that I will survive this--even though it feels like I might not. They are all fabulous ladies who live productive lives after their husbands' passings, so I believe them. They wouldn't steer me wrong.

Yesterday one of my favorite people repeated what she's been telling me for the past thirteen weeks. Aunt Vicki reminds me, "Stay strong. Keep busy." Brilliant lady. Always has been.

Stay strong. Keep busy.

Simple, this new truth. It will be my salvation, I think.

The weather here has been near frigid, but with some almost sunny spots, so I've spent many hours outdoors this week. I'm reclaiming our neglected flower beds, raking debris from last year and hauling tons of leaves to the compost pile. Staying strong. Keeping busy. It is a blessing to rediscover sprouting bulbs we planted, to see the first red shoots of peonies and watch buds on Vito's fruit trees grow plump.

As this ridiculous April Fool's snow started falling in the early hours this morning, I worked at my sewing machine. Sleep eluded me, but I kept busy making padded cases for iPads. Want to see?

Sorry to have disappeared for a week. I hope that as time passes life will become more peaceful. I have no illusions about my new shoes. I know they will always hurt but I pray each step will eventually become less painful.

On a cheery note, today is Aunt Vicki's birthday! My husband adored his aunt, as I do, so please send a kind thought her way today. She is a grand lady, and I hope we share many more birthdays with her.

Happy Birthday Aunt Vicki! I love you!