Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Grateful and Thankful

        I'm grateful for roses that are still blooming in the yard on November 29 and smell like June!

Do you know there is a difference between those two words in the post title?  I'd never thought about it until I wrote my title out and then I wondered if they meant exactly the same and if I used the words correctly in my daily speech.  I consulted the Cambridge Dictionary among others and now here's a grammar lesson before I tell you about the things I'm thankful and grateful for this week!

According to the experts - we should use grateful to talk about how we feel when someone is kind to us or when someone or something (like a rose) does us a favor.  Thankful is usually used when we express relief or pleasure that what you hoped for has actually happened (or didn't, like an accident).  As in, I'm thankful that I was able to eat as much pie as I wanted to last Thursday and that my jeans still fit  - ha!

I'll now tell you things that have made me feel both of those words with these pictures :

Dan and I were on our own this Thanksgiving which turned out to be super fun because we did things a new way with only ourselves to consider.  I had made our two favorite pies on Wednesday night and the following morning as we looked with longing at the pecan pie on the counter, Dan asked "why can't we eat pecan pie for breakfast instead of waiting all day and perhaps being too full to really enjoy it when it's time for dessert?"  Brilliant!!!  And why not, why in the world couldn't we so that's what we did and it was glorious.  We then decided that all we really wanted to eat besides pie was just turkey, gravy and stuffing.  So we didn't make any other dishes and when the bird was done, we ate our fill of turkey, gravy and stuffing and for the first time in my life that I can recall, I didn't leave the Thanksgiving table so full I couldn't breathe comfortably.  I was just full like regular dinner full - yay!  We then went for a long walk with Scotty, our granddog that we were tending for a few days, and after that we went to a movie.  When we came home, we were ready to eat the chocolate cream pie and we were hungry for it - actually stomach empty hungry - wondrous!!!
 That bird was crammed with succulent cornbread and bacon stuffing with a touch of pure maple syrup - exquisite!  The meat was tender and juicy and the gravy - well I could have drunk it from a cup.
 Super deep dark rich chocolate pie for the real dessert.
It rained on Thanksgiving most of the day - here is Dan under his umbrella trying to catch up with me as I ran after Scotty who was not on a leash of course.

 Scotty waiting patiently for us to get our coats and shoes on.

And, grateful for Netflix - I binge watched both "The Crown" before Thanksgiving and and "Gilmore Girls - A Year In the Life" after.  Oh what fun!!!
Look at this sitting room below in the country house of Winston Churchill from The Crown series.  The yellow woodwork!  The blue and white platters on the ledges!  I took the picture with my phone on my iPad screen which isn't ideal.

I'm thankful that my son Heath asked us to join him and his wife last week to Boston to attend the ceremony where he was sworn in as a Massachusetts attorney.  It took place in beautiful Faneuil Hall.  After the very entertaining (and lengthy, but that's okay because the speakers were wonderful) ceremony, we walked over to the North End where we ate lots of pizza (gratefully) because Regina's Pizza never fails and we were starving.

 Beautiful Emma, Heath, the proud mother.
 Dan was the photographer so he's not in the pictures - sorry Dan!

I'm thankful to have a place all my own with lots of light and space to work and play - a studio!!  Our detached garage has a second floor with a full bath that used to be living quarters decades ago.  We didn't want to remodel it in to a space for living nor did we want it to be the catch all junk room that it was becoming so we hired carpenters and electricians to add a wall, insulate the ceiling and add heat and over head lighting.  Here are befores and afters:
The garage - that'll be me now painting in the room behind the three windows facing the house, and six more windows on the other sides.
 Before - full of "stuff" - we got rid of all of it! (Except the old wooden island we put on sawhorses to made a huge sturdy table for projects and the cardboard Dane.

 I built shelves on the wall that we had installed.  It used to be open to the stairs going down to the garage area.
 Dane's still there and a cast iron tub that needs a new home (it's free and in excellent shape!)

  My first project to come out of the studio is a commissioned painting for my sister Dede, aka PigNose. She asked me to paint a picture for her birthday of a greeting card cover she was crazy about.
 Finished painting.  I'm thankful for paint, and color, and opportunities to play with both.
In a frame and below …

I hung it in the powder room for a few hours so I could enjoy living with it briefly.  Good bye orange bird who became real to me.  Isn't it a cheery painting?  I mailed it off to her this morning.

And lastly, I'm grateful for chocolate which brings me infinite pleasure.  I made some browned butter blondies for a meeting that I will miss while we're out of town but I volunteered to supply the refreshments anyway.
Yeah, I loaded those blondies with tons of chocolate.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Putting Fall To Bed and A Recipe!!

(This post was written Saturday and published today while I was at Heath's ceremony in Boston - today was cold as late November should be and the leaves disappeared yesterday in the heavy rain and wind) -
I've got to blog about this fall before snow flies.  I've already told you that the color here has been long lasting and utterly incredible.  It's November 19th and the Norway maples, Japanese Maples and the Oaks are still loaded with leaves and color as are so many shrubs.  I emptied the last of my outdoor pots and cut down the perennials in all the borders today and sadly, I was pulling out and cutting down A LOT of live and blooming plants!  It had to been done though because next week will be very cold finally and I won't feel like doing it then.

Every year I pick and press colorful leaves and store between sheets of wax paper in heavy books for next year's fall decorating.
 Picking pretty things to enjoy before killing frosts arrive.
 The October Super Moon from our bedroom window

 I drove to my old house in Kingston to do yard work and look what greeted me on Rockrimmon Rd!

 Look at the nasturtiums in the pool yard here in Rye the beginning of November! It's amazing what a dozen seeds produces.

 Japanese Maple in our front border in Rye

 Here's a pretty picture of a pond in Connecticut in the Litchfield area on a little road trip we took the third week in October
 Look near the top of the picture - just where the trees meet the field you can make out hundreds of pumpkins in a patch - Connecticut
 Connecticut farm stand
 Another pond shot from further back.

 Harbor in Guilford CT.  By the way, if you want to see a real live Stars Hollow you Gilmore Girls fans, this town looks just like downtown Stars Hollow.  I was ready to move there!
 Guilford CT
 Lobster shack in York Maine on another road trip the first week in November.  Same pond below.

 The view from the third floor bathroom here in Rye the second week of November.
 Last week November 14.
 Color wheel perfection - opposites!  One of the most beautiful combos ever!

 Then the Harvest Moon last week - we took it while driving - there were so many cars at the coast we couldn't park!  Here is someone else's pic of the same moon at dusk, below.
photo credit - Debbie Smith

 I've been digging up dahlias - hundreds of dahlias!  They are now drying and preparing for winter storage.
 Below - four pics - I got up early one morning last week and ran to my car in my pajamas and bed hair and drove down the street to watch the sunrise.

 I doodled this old picture of me with a pen while these delicious pork chops (recipe!) were cooking and the potatoes were roasting the other night to pass a little time.  Those huge teeth!  I want those glasses back. I want to talk to that young girl and see who she was then (I can't remember!).

The pork chop recipe comes from Mimi Thorisson's new cookbook on the left and the lemon roasted potatoes from Ina's book on the right.  I also made the apple pie bars from Ina's book a few days ago and they were phenomenal - better than pie!  I am going to cook my way through both books this winter I just know it.   Recipe for pork chops below - I made some of my own tweeks such as substituting pure apple cider for hard cider since I didn't have any and sour cream for creme fraiche for the same reason:

Black Pig Pork Chops (you can use any pig you want!)

4 Bone in or boneless Pork chops (I used boneless because that's what I had)
2 T butter
four shallots or one small onion chopped (I've made the recipe 2 times and used either)
2 garlic cloves smashed

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat and cook the shallots for 3 minutes.  Add the pork chops (score first and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides) and garlic, reduce heat to medium and cook pork 7 minutes each side (until juices run clear) - put these chops in an oven proof pan and place a sage leaf on each and sprinkle on some of the pan juices if any. Place these covered in a warm oven.  Increase the heat under the pan and pour in:
2/3 cup hard or fresh apple cider - boil for a few minutes to reduce.  Add 3 T of creme fraiche or sour cream and stir until thickened  Pour over the warm chops and serve.  The meat is tender and juicy; the sauce is so good you want to drink it!  Easy Peasy - great for company too.

Now for the autumn wrap up:
 Dan and Therese in Connecticut on that road trip  - we attended the open house for the Hartford LDS Temple.
While on that trip we went in to a little sandwich shop in Farmington CT for lunch and the wall next to the bathroom was covered in old silver trays - it was a pleasing sight.
Pizza in New Haven CT with my love!  Isn't he cute?  I just have to say that we went to this pizzeria intentionally because I have read for years and years that this joint makes the best pizza in New England.  We both emphatically agree that it does not!!  It was an expensive disappointment - expensive pizza (that one was over 30 bucks! and I ordered my own large as well ($75 dollars for pizza dinner).  We meant to take home lots of leftovers which we did but we ended up throwing them both out - yuck!  Tasteless sauce, thin crackery crust and underwhelming toppings flavors.  Dan had the loaded meat one and mine was - I can't even remember now but very different from Dan's so we could have variety.  The famous place?  And right down the street from the gorgeous Yale University campus?  -  Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.  It even googles as the best. Sorry, it's not and we were so sad after making the trip there just for the experience.  Monday we are going to the best one, the real winner - Regina's Pizzeria in the North End of Boston.  My son Heath is being sworn in the day after tomorrow and taking the Massachusetts Attorney's Oath and we'll be attending and then eating really outstanding pizza afterward.
And to end this post - this is the last rose of autumn - the one I allowed to keep going when everything else has been cut down, pulled out or put to bed.  She smelled amazing in the warm sun today.  Good bye fall - now it's time to paint (I've got a new space to tell you about another time), do house projects, travel, bake a lot, make pretty things, enjoy coats and woolen hats and mittens, snow boots, snow shoeing, reading, fires, Netflix - Gilmore Girls next week - oh my gosh!!!
P.S. - I have been watching "The Crown" on Netflix a bit every night - it is fascinating and well done!