Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday..What are you reading?

It's Monday, What are you reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of "One Person's Journey through a World of Books"

It asks what are you reading this week? What have you read and what are you going to read.



I am in the middle of two books this week.



Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron and My Reading Life by Pat Conroy.
I love both of these authors. The common denominator? They are both Southern writers?  (even tho Maron writes about NYC too)  I love books about The South, and yet, I've never been.


I've been to Richmond, VA. And yes, I know about the whole Mason Dixon line, but when I take a map of the United states and do the longitude and the latitude lines, Richmond, VA is not much more south than Winnemucca, NV. And we certainly are not Southern. We're not even 'Southwestern" altho people think we are. Maybe Vegas is, but Vegas doesn't count--it's down there in that little tiny tip of the state. (get out your maps!)


I digress! I love Southern Writers.


Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series is my favorite of all time. I'm in love with North Carolina. If I had a better vocabulary I would use those vocabulary words to describe why reading the Deborah Knott series makes me love North Carolina. But I don't have the words to use. It's more of a feeling I have when I read the books. Maron makes me love everything about them. (see how bad my vocabulary is? I just used love, makes me and NC, too many times in the last 3 sentences). They take place in Colleton County North Carolina. It could be a made up county for all I know.


Maron also wrote a series which takes place New York City with the main  character Sigrid Harald. I've only read the first in that series, so its not like I've read everything I can get my hands on by Maron, but I'm just now reading Last Lessons of Summer and there are a couple minor characters in there who are also in the Deborah Knott Series. Their being there was pleasant surprise for me. I love that connection between books. Last Lessons of Summer is a stand alone novel, but it includes characters whom I feel are old friends.


Another author whom I love and who did the same thing was Madeline L'Engle ( A Wrinkle in Time). There was always a thread of connectedness between her novels, both children's and adult's books.
When an author does that, I feel as if I'm getting news about an old friend. I love it.


Moving on to Pat Conroy. I love his passion. His books are a tad bit depressive and so intense. Sorry, but they are....but it's a good kind of melancholy. A Southern Kind. In this western mind anyway.


My Reading Life is a series of essays he has written about what made him a good reader, hence a good writer. Important events that took place in his life centered around books and reading.
But I have a problem...in chapter 2. It's title is "Gone With the Wind."


I have never read "Gone With the Wind." I have no intention of ever reading Gone With the Wind, but for 2 things.


One is that a lady in my book club has chosen this as her 'book'. A re-reading of an old classic she says. I love and respect her. But I don't want to read "Gone". The second is that Conroy says it is the novel that shaped the South he grew up in. He says Gone with the Wind is a war novel, an historical romance, a comedy of manners, a bitter lamentation, a cry of the heart.....
he goes on.


I am resisting Gone With the Wind, with all my might. I do not want to read it. In my mind, it's a silly romance about a spoiled girl which takes place during the civil war. With tons of clichés.


I could be wrong. It's been known to happen. Quite often in fact.


I love everything about Pat Conroy's books. And I've often envied his friendships.


So...should I really read "Gone with the Wind" when it comes around in book club time?


Since I profess to love Southern Writers, will this be the ultimate experience for me? Or will it be as I thought... a silly romance about a spoiled girl, taking place during the civil war?


Help.

Being invisible

I have lost my anonymity.



Let me backtrack.... I live in a small town, where everybody knows my name. Or if not my name, my husbands name. And our faces. Everybody knows everybody. For the most part, it's good. It's comfortable. It makes you feel part of something.


Without going into a lot of detail tho, there are times when you just want to be invisible. It doesn't happen often around here.


I have to do a lot of community events and service with my job. So I'm at things, involved in things, doing things. At heart I am a homebody and introverted. I know, that's hard for some of you to believe, but it's true. My dream holiday would be for a couple of days ALL TO MYSELF. No phone calls, no invitations...just walks and books and old movies and a glass or two of wine. Chinese food or pizza of MY choosing.


Just for a couple of days of course...I know it would get lonely after a while. But it sure sounds good.


We attend the Methodist Church here in Winnemucca. Everyone knows our name. We can't just go to church and be invisible. Ironically, we could go to any church here and people would know our names, as we would know their's. It's a small town. A cliché but true. In fact, one day a man came into the Dry Cleaners (which we own) and said to my husband, "I haven't seen you at Mass lately". The Handyman had to inform the man, that he wasn't Catholic. The man said "REALLY? Huh. I could have sworn you were."


TRUE STORY.


It's because in a small town, you see everyone everywhere, at every event and in the grocery store and out to eat. One gets confused as to who does what, goes where and belongs to which club. It all intermingles somehow.
Like I stated, this is usually a good thing. If you have a lost child, or are sick, or need help of any kind, people are there for you. They hold fund-raisers, search parties, cook dinners.


But....sometimes...they also know your business before you do.


When my oldest son was a teenager, a policeman came walking into the cleaners and handed my husband a "ticket" our son had gotten the night before. He had failed to give our son his copy.


Another time, the Chief of Police found us at a restaurant where we were dining with other friends (yep the Chief was our friend too) and took my husband outside to tell him that our son's car had been found deserted and banged up in the desert a few miles out of town. Our son had just sold it and bought a new car....but the Chief didn't know that, and was concerned and wanted to let us know before we heard it somewhere. He wanted to make sure our son was safe.
Our son's OLD CAR had been stolen from the Used Car Lot.


All this is nice and comforting and such, but there are times when you don't want the whole community or neighborhood to know your business.
Like when the Handyman is working in the backyard---moving the dog house from one side yard to the other. A big dog house. A big huge dog house, that is awkward and heavy. Very heavy. And the Handyman has a bad back.
And it's a nice spring day, and the birds are singing and the butterflies are twittering about and the neighbors all around are also out working in their yards, planting gardens, enjoying some lemonade. And you are happy it's warm and the tulips are coming up and you step outside and notice your Handyman moving the heavy, awkward, big dog house and you say, "What are you doing?"
And the Handyman answers, "I'M MOVING THE F***ING DOG HOUSE, WHAT'S IT LOOK LIKE I'M DOING?"
The birds stop singing, the butterflies stop twittering, people stop shoveling dirt in their gardens, the ice in the neighbors lemonade glass stops clinking. There is total silence in the air... because...they have all heard the Handyman. (sigh)


Yep, sometimes it's nice to be invisible.


So, I like it when I drive into Reno to go to my daughter-in-law's church. The 1st Methodist on the river. It's a huge old church. I am anonymous. I like it very much. Sometimes I just want to sit in silence and have 'spiritual' moment, a contemplative moment.


This Easter Sunday when the Handyman and I slipped into the pew I was so looking forward to that contemplative moment, that anonymity, and then, the man next to me started talking to me as if he knew me.... about the neighborhood my kids lived in. He said he had almost bought there years ago. He went on and on and on. His name is Ralph. He introduced us to everyone around him.


It seems he does know me now. I've attended too often for him not to notice. We are not anonymous anymore. We are visible. They'll probably put me on a committee soon.


(sigh)


This is the church on Sunday morning. I was taking the picture, sitting by Ralph. I was trying to capture the balloons on the ceiling--from the children's minute.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Snapshot Saturday --a desert walk

Because Thursday was Earth Day, I am posting a couple of pictures, for  Snapshot Saturday,  of what I came across in the desert.  It's garbage.   My friend Teddy Swecker would take morning walks and use the trash she found to make art objects.  (to be fair, she picked up her fair share of trash also, but she just thought it'd be quirky to make stuff/art along the walking trail, from stuff people just tossed out  LITTER BUGS!  It is not a 'formal' trail....just a path out in the desert that some people go for walks on. )

It makes me mad to see what kind of trash people just toss out in the desert  (or anywhere.  I'm not a huge activist, just a rational person who knows you shouldn't litter.)  You wouldn't believe what kind of stuff we find out there.  But I don't want to get up on my soapbox, so I'll just leave it at ---DON'T THROW TRASH IN NATURE.



It's the Desert Goddess.  A halo of pop-can hair  and gowns of discarded clothes.
(and of course, rock boobs and pebble nipples.  It's art, after all)



For a complete pictorial of my desert walk  --- and to see what other art Teddy did in the desert, click here.   (really you should!  It's kind of cool to see what other stuff she made)   and then click here.    Same trail, two different walks.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce at   At Home with Books.  Stop by and link up or just check out all the great photos!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Potato Sausage Tart and a spider (or any other irrational fear) update


Let me just state, for the record:  I smooshed a spider this morning in my canvas tote bag.  (scroll down and read yesterday's post if you are confused about the spider talk) He was running across some papers I had shoved in there, so now there is a big spider smoosh stain on some papers I need to keep for a while.  He was  little guy, but this just goes to show, our irrational fear of high places, fluttering things, hopping grasshoppers and peacock feathers is never really irrational.
Hang in there friends....I don't think you irrational.  I support your right to fear--anything.  We are a Band of.... ???   (sigh)  GEEZ.  Band of Brothers has a cool ring to it... Band of Broads sounds stupid (because I hate that word) and  even tho young, edgy women will use the bit** word,  I WON'T.  (because again, I hate that word)

Let me tell ya---I have a long list of words I hate.    But that's a blog post for another time.

Hmmmm....
a League of Ladies?
a Pack of Pretties?
a Gang of Girls?
a Formation of Females?

Whatever we are--we are united in our 'not-so' (as has been proven today by my spider in the bag) irrational fears.
Carry on!

But wait!  I have a recipe to share with you.

A potato sausage tart.  I found it in  the Better Homes and Gardens premier issue of "hometown cooking", which I don't even think they make anymore  (the magazine, not the tart), and I miss it!  It was a collection of hometown recipes from church and club cookbooks. Each month they would feature a couple of different cities/towns across the United States that had produced a club cookbook.    The Potato Sausage Tart (which was really good, by the way)   comes to us from Boise, Idaho.  Just a few short hours from my home in Winnemucca, NV.  The Junior League of Boise, produced  "Beyond Burlap" a potatoes only cookbook.   Since Idaho is  known for their spuds, it's only fitting.

Speaking of the Idaho Spud,  who has ever heard of this old candy bar, The Idaho Spud?



They are good and marshmallowy.  I ate them when I was a kid.  They are now very  hard to find, because Idaho Spud didn't sell out to a big candy company, ie:  Mars or Hershey.  They are produced by the Owyhee Idaho Candy Company.

Back to the Potato Sausage Tart.  We really liked it.  I think you will too.



Potato Sausage Tart

1 recipe for your favorite pie crust, or a ready made brand such as Pillsbury.  Single crust.
2 large baking potatoes  (about 1 lb)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb mild Italian sausage or turkey Italian sausage
2 cups cream style cottage cheese  ( couldn't find this so I used small curd)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp  dried oregano, crushed
2 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare pastry for a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate.  Line unpricked pastry shell with double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450 oven for 8 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake 4-5 minutes more or until dry.  Set aside and reduce oven temperature to  350F.
Meanwhile, peel and quarter the potatoes. Cook in boiling, lightly salted water for  20-25 minutes or until tender; drain.   Mash with a potato masher until smooth.  Stir in salt and pepper.  (do not use instant mashed potatoes)
Remove sausage casing, if present.  In a large skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink.  Drain off fat.  In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs. Cover and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat in mashed potatoes, sour cream and oregano.
Place sausage in the bottom of pastry shell. Spoon potato mixture over sausage. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake in 350F oven for  40 to 45 minutes or until heated through.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 
Makes 8 servings.

This is even better the 2nd day as leftovers!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spiders

I am afraid of spiders. Let me rephrase that.. I am afraid of spiders inside of things.



The actual spider, I don't mind (unless it's an evil black widow). If I see a spider walking across the ceiling, I don't have to run and smash it, I can ignore it. I have big cathedral ceilings and I even have one teeny weeny pet spider with a web in one corner that I can't get to--I'll have to get a ladder next weekend. (geez...I'm digging myself in deep here. First I say I have 'overflowing' baskets of books lying around and now I just admitted to a spider web in a ceiling corner, that I haven't taken care of. Sigh.)


I love to work in the garden and I don't mind spiders in the dirt, when they scurry away when I'm pulling weeds and messing up their home. And I love a giant web in the garden with dew drops and the morning sun shining on it and a lazy old garden spider sunning himself.


But.... I am always afraid of a spider getting 'into' my things. Like my gardening gloves. I leave them in a drawer in a chest in the garage all winter, but each spring I have to buy a new pair, because I know...I KNOW that an evil black widow has crawled into the tip of the finger and is waiting to bite me.


I have garden shoes, that I leave on the patio.... I can barely stand to put them on the next morning (and often times I can only do this for a month and then will never put the shoes on again) because I KNOW an evil black widow has crawled into the tip of my shoe to bite me. Getting the lawn/patio chairs out of the shed for spring, the chairs must be inspected from top to bottom, not just a good brushing off as the Handyman is want to do, because I KNOW that an evil black widow is hiding under the seat cushion to bite me.


So, this morning, when I was woken at 4:55 am to a vicious wind howling thru the trees and pelting rain at my bedroom window, I knew I would not be walking. Instead, I went downstairs and made coffee and grabbed my book and a quilt from a basket (OMG---baskets of over flowing books AND blankets!) I knew that an evil spider would probably run across my skin, because it has been awhile since I grabbed a blanket from that basket. And it gave me the creeps for awhile.


Do you have an irrational (not that this fear of spiders getting into my things is irrational, because I KNOW they will at some point) fear of anything?

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? Musing Mondays and Bruce Hornsby

Just in case you want to know why I went to Reno and ate too much and drank too much....it was to see Bruce Hornsby.  And the Noisemakers.  It used to be Bruce Hornsby and the Range, but we all know: things change.  And the noise makers were quite good.
Who is Bruce Hornsby you ask?  He's a musician, song writer, he has  a jazzy, bluesy, folk, rock kind of sound.  He played with the Grateful Dead for a couple of years.

You might remember this:




We had  a wonderful time with our good friends--our Friday Night Friends--John and Robbie Milton.  It was her birthday and her son gave her 4 tickets to the concert.  I love her birthday, because we are always the lucky recipients of her gifts.  (ones like this anyway)
  *****************************************************************************************

This week’s musing (hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading) asks…


What’s at the top of your must-buy list, right now? (or, if you don’t wait — if you’re more impulsive — what books have you recently purchased?)

My answer:  Well, in the 5 minutes before we left for Reno on Friday, I grabbed my Kindle and downloaded  "One Was a Soldier" by  Julia Spencer-Fleming.  I love her Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series, and it became available THAT DAY.  And then, just in case, (in case I ran out of reading material on the 2 1/2 hour drive to Reno)  I downloaded  "The Virgin of Small Plains" by Nancy Pickard.  I had just bought  The  Scent of Rain and Lightning and read that it was the follow up book to Virgin, so I HAD TO HAVE that one too.
Then we went to Costco on Sunday before leaving Reno and I saw  "Save Me" by Lisa Scottoline, but I didn't buy it.  (I have been putting all my books onto Goodreads and my TBR pile is up close to 50)  I wanted to buy it, but I held off.
When we got home tho, I remembered that it is a new month and I had a credit on audible.com  so I downloaded it onto my Mp3 player!

Impulsive?  Yes.

**************************************************************************************


  It's Monday: What are you Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey,  where  we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!





Last week, I finished, The Paris Wife by Paula McClain.  I liked it. The lifestyle of the ex patriots living in Paris in the early 20's is intriguing to me.  Nothing I could have ever lived, but intriguing all the same.  If you are interested in the life of Ernest Hemmingway,  Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, told thru the eyes of Hadley Richardson  (Hemmingway's 1st wife), then you should read this book.  It's a novel, so much literary license is taken by McClain, but it's definitely a fun read.



And I started  "Girl in Translation"  by Jean Kwok.  This one is for my book club "Totally Lit". We meet next Wednesday. 



As soon as I finish this one, I will move on to... One Was a Soldier.  I can't wait!!



Have a great reading week!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reno Weekend

2 Lemon Drop Martinis    (all of this was about $50 at Fish and Finn
2 glasses of wine                  in The Grand Sierra Casino)
lobster corn dog appetizers  (they were really good!)
roasted vegetables
dessert samples

Veggie Omelet with egg substitute    $7 at IHOP
fruit

Iced Tea
Brie stuffed pot stickers with mango and ginger  salsa    $8 a Riverside Grill
crab and shrimp cakes    $8 at Riverside Grill
1 raspberry/lemon martini   $6 at Riverside Grill

1 glass of champagne   free at Labels Consignment store
1 champagne cocktail     $5  Happy Hour at St. James Infirmary
1 strawberry and vodka cocktail   $7  at  Olive Garden
stuffed mushrooms  (with cheese and clams and breadcrumbs)   $9
calamari    $9
lasagna rolls  (with five cheeses)   $13
salad
bread

champagne   $9  on sale at Total Wine
milk chocolate with hazelnuts  $2

Lemon ricotta pancakes   $10  at the Peppermill Casino
fruit compote

All the weight I gained?  Priceless!!!

I'll tell you more tomorrow about how much fun we had.  Besides all the eating, I mean.  And drinking.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Book Barn--Used book Stores--and how many books is too many?



Recently, I have been updating my books on 'Goodreads' and I have apparently clicked something that will update my progress on Goodreads to my Facebook page. I keep trying to unclick, but so far no luck. So, if you are my Facebook friend, please don't get annoyed (or unfriend me)  that you are getting 25 or more updates on books I'm reading (or going to read).



I read about 3-5 books a month (I'm not nearly as fast as many of you readers) and I can/usually/sometimes/most of the time, purchase about 5-7 books a month. More if I see a good used book store.


Do the math.


My TBR pile is bigger than my 'read that. done with.' pile. This is a slight exaggeration, but it's getting close.
And if you remember from this post, I said I had bookshelves in every room and even a basket or two for the overflow. I've been regretting saying that every since I wrote it. I don't want you thinking that I have a messy house. Because those baskets are darn well organized!!   (I am laughing as I write this)


But if I don't start to read faster, or quit buying books, this obsession will overtake me soon I fear.


As I'm adding all my books to Goodreads, I am noticing that the books I haven't read are catching up to the books I have read. They still have a long way to go, but so far I have 30 books in my TBR pile....and I know I have many,many more in those overflowing baskets.


I need to be locked away in a tower with all my books for a few months, or years. (ahhhh....if only. Life is hectic sometimes and that seems like a good thing to me right now).




Last spring, when I was in Connecticut we took a trip to The Book Barn   which is located in Niantic, CT, about 40 miles from New Haven, and at this used book store I purchased about $50-$60 worth of books. But keep in mind, their books are all  $1 each. There was so much to be had!
It was very fun.
I can't pass up a good used book store! Even when I'm clear across the country. 



I think the Book Barn is world famous!!  Or it was famous enough that when I googled  points of interest around New Haven, CT, it came up.  The  Book Barn has one maid building (the barn) and many outer buildings ( old sheds, chicken coops, etc)  which house different genres of books.   It's just an eclectic mix of buildings, gardens and garden venues which house over 350,000 books.  I'm not quite there in my count of books that I own, but I bet when I am done logging them in, it will be close to 1000. I could start my own book barn.  I'm almost embarrased to say that.  The Handyman is whispering 'hoarder' under his breath as I am taking my books off the shelf to log them into Goodreads.  Hoarder!  It's only books---there is a difference, isn't there?




Do you have a great little (or big) used book store close by?
Can you pass up a used book store?  Which one is your favorite?  Is there one you always have to visit when you are near it?
And-- are you ever REALLY going to be done with your TBR pile?


I have a lot of pictures of the Book Barn.  I went there with my daughter-in-law, who is a book hoarder like me.  We had a great time!  Here are a few random photos.
Be sure and scroll to the bottom....

 












Booking Through Thursday--a weekly book meme.

In a related question to last week’s–


I was reading the other day a quote from JFK Jr who said on the death of his mother, that she died surrounded by family, friends, and her books. Apparently, Jackie’s books were very much a part of HER, her personality, her sense of self.

Up until recently, people could browse your bookshelves and learn a lot about you–what your interests are, your range of topics, favorite authors, how much you read (or at least buy books).

More and more, though, this is changing. People aren’t buying books so much as borrowing them from the library. Or reading them on their e-readers or computers. There’s nothing PHYSICAL on the shelves to tell strangers in your home, for better or worse, who you ARE.
Do you think this is a good thing? Bad? Discuss!


Well, my answer is:  everyone will know who I am from the over 1000 books I'm going to have on Goodreads.  And all of them are on my bookshelves. But...the trend is that in the future more and more people won't have books--the written word-- on their shelves.  While it does make me sad for what memories I had, It's not necessarily good or bad---it just is.  Times change. Things move forward. 
Okay, I'm fooling myself!  It makes me  really, really sad to think of a future without paper books. I love going into someone's house and seeing what's on their bookshelves. 
I'm not sure they will ever be completely gone from our shelves.  But maybe if we have to be discriminating in what paper books we do buy, the fewer paper books we put on our shelves will give us a better insight of who we are/were.  Only the really important ones will be visible on our bookshelves.

Monday, April 11, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza



Hooray for Monday!  I'm just trying to get myself enthused here for the work week.  It's taking some doing.  It will be a busy week for me, work wise.  A Board Meeting tonight, a General Membership breakfast tomorrow and then a BAH (business after hours) mixer on Thursday.  Then on Friday, the Handyman and I leave for Reno for the weekend with friends to celebrate her birthday.  (that part will be fun!)

I wanted to share this with you in case I don't get back to my blog for the rest of the week. 


A few weeks ago, I made this BBQ Chicken Pizza.  A friend had given it to me a couple of years ago, but it had gotten overlooked many times over the course of the years and it's too bad, because it was really good. I don't know why, but for the longest time, the thought of bbq sauce on my pizza turned me off.  Then it kind of dawned on me while looking at the ingredients for this pizza---I like everything on here, why wouldn't I like it all together in one easy hand held (sometimes I used a  fork--it's kinda messy) meal!?
I tried it, I liked it.  I really liked it.  This particular recipe could even handle more bbq sauce than it says to use.

This recipe calls for a pre-made pizza crust, which is really easy and they are not bad, but if I had the time  (weekend vs weeknight) I would make  my own pizza crust, as it is so much better.



BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts 
1/3 cup bbq sauce 
salt and pepper (to taste)
10 slices of bacon, cut into 1" pieces
2 pre-baked pizza crusts
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup diced chilies
jack cheese
hot pepper flakes
tomatoes

Place the chicken on a baking sheet and coat with bbq sauce--bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Let cool, then cut into chunks and coat with more bbq sauce.  Cook bacon.  Spread the crusts with the cream cheese and spoon the chicken in sauce over crust.  Top with bacon, chilies, cheese, pepper flakes and tomatoes.
Bake at 400F degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I only  used one crust and modified the ingredients.  You use as much cheese as you like.  It's simple and good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Booking Thru Thursday


Yesterday it was 60 degrees here in Northern Nevada.  This robin thought about building his nest.
This morning? I stepped out my front door and  it looked exactly like this  (because that's when I took the picture)
Neither Robin or I  can understand this weather...and neither one of us like it much.




The Booking Through Thursday question for the day is:
So … the books that you own (however many there may be) … do you display them proudly right there in plain sight for all the world to see? (At least the world that comes into your living room.)
Or do you keep them tucked away in your office or bedroom or library or closet or someplace less “public?”

My answer is.... I have bookshelves in every room.  I have baskets in every room, where the overflow books go.  And in my bedroom?  I've made  a bookshelf out of books.  (which is a fancy way of saying I have a big pile of books--but a bit organized-- next to the wall )
I have used some books to  prop stuff up....like set three books on their side and put a plant on top.  I have books in the closet of one of my guest rooms...it is my children's book library.  Let's face it.  I have too many books.  But I love them. So, they stay.
My wish is too have a whole wall of bookshelves in m 'library' so that I can put all my books in one place and in order.  Right now, nothing is in any order.  I just have books on bookshelves wherever they land when I am done with them, but order would be nice. 

And I don't care if people see them.  I like it when they walk up to one of my bookshelves and ask me about a book.  Or say, they've read it too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Caught in the Act (and Mud Hen Bars)



This week, I have had no computer at work.  While this might be an inconvenience for some of you, to me it's tragic!!  I am all alone in my office, in a little corner of a big convention center  (It used to be a casino).  The rest of the Convention Center staff offices are in the "west hall".  I am in the "east hall".  It's very complicated, but  I AM ALL ALONE.  Without my window to the world.  I sit there and ---file a bit, stare of into space a bit, file a bit....then...I kind of got my Kindle out of my purse and turned it on.  And I began to read.  I declared a break for myself!  It lasted longer than  usual, because I don't usually take breaks.  I'm all alone!   I ended up taking all the breaks I've not gotten for the past 20 days!!    It was a very nice afternoon at work. 

I started reading The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain.  It's about Ernest Hemingway's first wife Hadley Richards.   (well, their lives thru her point of view--fictionalized)  It's really good. I was just zipping along at a very fast pace, when all of the sudden, I was caught in the act!!
One of my board members came in to talk....but I'm not so sure he noticed.  I mean, it wasn't a book I was holding.  ???   He never batted an eye.  He didn't have a clue.
Thank goodness for that near miss.

The Handyman was making his famous roast beef with melted Swiss cheese and grilled onions for supper, so I  grabbed my Kindle and one of these dessert bars I had made the other day  (yes, it's important for emotional health to eat dessert before supper sometimes) and continued my book.
What dessert bars am I talking about you ask?  Well, let me tell you...  I saw these bars on a blog last week and they looked very intriguing.  They had  marshmallow meringue topping on a chocolate chip cookie base.   I had never heard of 'Mud Hen Bars' before--and I've heard of most cookies/bars--have you?   You really should try them, we all enjoyed them.  And they took literally only 10 minutes to whip up.  A fast, easy, yummy dessert bar.
And a good book!  Don't forget the good book. 




Mud Hen Bars



1/2 c. butter, room temp
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. nuts chopped
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. marshmallows
1 c. brown sugar


Beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks (put aside the whites for later). IN a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Spread into 9x13" pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows, nuts and chocolate chips.


Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in the brown sugar. Spread over the mixture in pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until bars are a deep golden brown and the crust is cooked through. Cool in pan and cut.



I found these bars at Sunday Baker.  There are some other great recipes on her blog.  Stop by and check it out.

I can't wait until morning, because besides having dessert before supper sometimes,  early morning, hot coffee, a mud hen bar and the Paris Wife
You probably wont' get me to work in the morning!!

Stuffed Shells



I love to taste people's potato salads and spaghetti sauces.  I'm not even that big of a fan of potato salad, but it intrigues me how 3 different people can take potatoes, eggs, celery (maybe) and pickle (maybe) and mayo and come up with 3 entirely different looking and tasting salads.
It's the same with spaghetti sauce. Same basic ingredients, yet totally different outcomes.
(And the thing is, I know I could eat them all and be very happy. I love people's cooking.)


I just love that.  It doesn't take much to amuse me.  I'm an  easy date.

I made these Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Shells because my friend Brenda made them and said the were 'to die for'.  She made them because another blogger friend of hers said they were "to die for"  (yes, I am paraphrasing.  Don't look all over their blogs for that exact wording.) and I figured I had to make them and see for myself.  Guess what?  They were 'to die' for!!  
But all three looked different in our blogs.  Even tho it was the same recipe. I just love stuff like that!  I told you....it doesn't take much to amuse me.

They were very  hard to get a good picture of tho ---white on white.  White shells, white sauce, so when I reheated these for lunch the next day, I let them  crisp up a bit (as you can tell by the picture) and I really liked those over done, crispy little shells, with  the cheese oozing out.  YUM!!
I really liked them best the 2nd day--maybe it was because I knew how good they were and I was anticipating them all morning.



I originally made them for company, and the company was very impressed with me.  I said  "oh it was nothing.  Just something I whipped up this afternoon."  They all had seconds and left my house stuffed (like the shells) and satisfied.   Which you will be too if you make these shells.

It is not a hard recipe, but it is a bit time consuming, so a weekend is the best time to make these tasty shells.


Bacon-Cheese Stuffed Shells



24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 T plus 1/4 cup butter, divided
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded Asiago cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
2 T minced fresh parsley, divided
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 cups shredded Romano cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in 1 tablespoon butter until tender.


In a large bowl, beat ricotta and 4 ounces cream cheese until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, Parmesan cheese, bacon, 1 tablespoon parsley, garlic salt, nutmeg, pepper and mushroom mixture. Spoon into shells; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.


In a large saucepan, melt remaining butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add the cream, broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in Romano cheese and the remaining cream cheese, Asiago and parsley. Pour over shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly.
Makes 12 servings.




 Check out  Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and  Hun, What's for Dinner, if you are like me and like to compare and contrast.  (Or if you just want to check out these great blogs and their great recipes)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

Okay this is a creepy thing to wake up to on your bedroom floor.



Charlie McCarthy.  With his eyes that follow you....that monocle...the mouth that mocks you.  Really, really creepy.

My grandson had to camp out on my bedroom floor last night because he 'was afraid' of ghosts in the "red room"  (to be fair, we do think of Stephen King and redrum when we say  red room.  Read The Shining if you don't get that. )  It's my grandchildren room,  and he has slept in there many times.  Okay--to be fair again, I usually lay with him while he falls asleep in there, or we turn the TV on to the cartoon channel.  It was my youngest son's room when he lived at home and he and his girlfriend (who is now his wife) painted it red one year.  We have softened it up with two white walls and some Americana looking quilt on the bed.   It now also has a crib and a pak and play and a child's table and chairs.  A bunch of Raggedy Ann dolls on a shelf.  More shelves filled with hundreds of children's books  (including his favorite Goosebumps )  What is there to be afraid of?

But he is, and  yet,  brings CREEPY CHARLIE MCCARTHY to bed with him? 

I had the willies as I got out of bed this morning and had to step over old  Charlie, who was right  there on the floor looking up at me with his mocking eyes--they followed me to the bathroom, I just know it.
I hightailed it out of there fast and came downstairs to make coffee, grab my book and  I kind of fell asleep in my chair again.
It just wasn't a good night  with Charlie McCarthy in my room.

I am linking up to  Snapshot Saturday at  "At Home With Books".   You should join in!  Or at least stop by and see what other snapshots there are today.