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Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.
For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:
Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
- 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.
Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.
I love stumbling around Stumbleupon. I haven’t had the time to do it in a while, however whenever I do manage to sneak a few idle minutes, I always manage to come across a site that catches my eye. Here’s a bit of advice posted on the site kangalex.com that was worthy of sharing.
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for things that matter.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose Life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
Summer is going by fast, especially now that we have actually had some summer type days. Vacation is fast approaching which I am looking forward to enjoying with my guys. It is hard to believe as I look at the calendar that, a month from yesterday, TJ will be off to a new adventure in his life. We will be moving him into his home away from home for the majority of the next year. While I know that it isn’t all that far away, it’s far enough to realize that he won’t be a part of our everyday lives in the same way ever again. (Okay, here go the mom tears). I will definitely miss that. Having had one less kid in the house for the majority of the summer with Tim spending most of his time in other countries this summer, it is definitely odd not having the same chemistry in the house. It will be odd not having all three boys around all (or mostly) all of the time.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we’ve accomplished and for that reason, it’s good to sit back and take stock. We put in a flower bed next to the back patio and stairs off both sets of sliding doors before the July 4th weekend and TJ’s graduation party. I wanted to post some “before” and “after” pictures of how it looked before and after the flower bed, but when I went back through old photos I didn’t realize exactly how much we’ve done to the back of the house where the patio is now as demonstrated by these photos. When we bought the house there used to be on the house which we immediately had to remove to fix a foundation issue in the back.
REALLY, REALLY WAY WAY BEFORE (WE EVEN BOUGHT THE HOUSE):
This door with the windows is long gone and the other jutting section is now my office.
WAY WAY BEFORE (AFTER WE BOUGHT THE HOUSE AND TORE DOWN THE DECK AND BEFORE WE EVEN MOVED UP HERE):
BEFORE (AFTER WE MOVED UP HERE):
AFTER (PRESENT DAY):
Maybe when we’re sitting out there on the patio on a summer evening, we can truly feel a sense of accomplishment after seeing these back to back.
On Saturday, I volunteered to assist in our local Rotary Club’s annual coin drop fundraiser. Basically, you don a very bright vest, hold a bucket and stand in the middle of the road soliciting donations to the cause. I participated in the first shift, standing out on the main street in town for about an hour and a half. It was actually fun, more people stopped, dropping coins and “folding money” (as one gentlemen put it) into the bucket than did not. Even the folks who didn’t or couldn’t contribute were kind enough to wave or even stop and apologize for not being able to contribute. The generosity was amazing. It was nice to see familiar faces and have a couple seconds chat while they made their donation. It was even nicer to see and speak to total strangers. I had folks inquire as to the purpose of the collection, I had folks share a bit of their history (for example, a 40 year Rotarian was very pleased to help a fellow Rotary club). Some folks literally emptied their change cups into our buckets, others reached into their wallet for paper money. Folks had their kids put the money into the bucket from the back seat and folks apologized for the screw or dog biscuit that might be mixed in with their contribution.
I have always loved people watching. I remember when I was younger and driving around with my family in the car going here or there. I loved the dusk hours when people’s lights were on but shades were not yet drawn. You had a chance to get a glimpse into their world – see a different kitchen, a family eating, a living room so very different from your own. It was a similar experience on Saturday when the folks driving by would stop to drop in their donation. You caught a quick glimpse into their lives since a person’s car is just as much a statement about themselves as anything else. Some were filled with dogs (yes, literally there were about five dogs in one car, occupying both the front and back of the vehicle), gardening equipment, some looked as if people were moving or living out of their cars with the variety of different household things gathered there. Some cars were filled with people, young and old, some were solo drivers with a computer open on the seat (how do they do that?). It was an interesting opportunity to get a peek into people’s lives, have a chat here and there and raise money for a worthy cause, the scholarships and community service work that the Rotary performs on a regular basis.
Being on the other side of the window, so to speak, gave me a new and different perspective and respect for all those firefighters and other groups that conduct coin drop fundraisers especially now that the summer weather seems to have arrived.
If you are one of the drivers approaching a coin drop, please do slow down, it’s hard for both of us unless you come to an almost complete stop. This was my first time and I’ve yet to perfect “my collecting money while jogging alongside someone’s car and trying not to get run over ” technique. Maybe by next time around…..
We have had a busy couple weeks here. My apologies for not posting as usual. Youngest child went and returned from Costa Rica which involved us picking him up in Boston two days before July 4th. We had company arriving the next day with company arriving each day to follow in preparation for both July 4th and oldest son’s graduation party on the 6th. Party preparations and house preparations consumed most of those days but thanks to the group of friends and family that were here staying with us, the adage “many hands make light work” became blissfully obvious and was the theme surrounding the party itself. I cannot thank everyone enough, you helped to make it a wonderful party and a great day.
We counted a total of 20 people staying here over the July 4th weekend not counting the boys’ friends (which on Saturday night totaled another 3 or 4) that managed to crash in every conceivable corner, including the dog bed. We are pretty sure that it was a house record, but it was great, lots of fun. One of the things that I think I miss most about growing up was the fact that our house always seemed full, between us, our other family and friends that visited, lots of people always came and went. This weekend reminded me a lot of that. Not much spare unused room, but lots of love and friendship — the important things in life anyway.
Here are some pictures from the setup and the party.
It has been a quiet week here at the T’s house. Tim left last Saturday evening for Costa Rica. Although they were pretty much “out of touch” (no cell phones were allowed and there was limited computer access for them) we did get an email last night which made my day. He said he had an “excellent” week and was anxious to make sure that we brought clean clothes, his shower stuff and his phone when we pick him up tomorrow evening. Today, as a finale for their trip, they are white water rafting for the day. They also hiked at La Fortuna National Park and camped there. I am sure that it will be a trip he will remember.
It’s amazing how different the feel of the house can be when even one of us is missing. It has been quiet here for sure especially since TJ left on Saturday for a few days. Personally, I have had a lot of uninterrupted time, since there were no voice lessons or picking up and dropping off from work for Tim. Tyler has been working long days at camp so it has been a very quiet house during daylight hours.
This week, though, will not be so quiet. Lots of company coming for the holiday and TJ’s party on Saturday. Busy, busy getting ready for that and picking up our little guy from the airport in Boston.
Dodging a lot of raindrops still in these parts. Hopefully, we will be all rained out for the weekend.
My youngest son is heading off on the first of his summer adventures abroad. He and a group of classmates and two teachers (about 20 total) are leaving this evening for Boston and heading to Costa Rica where they will do a service project. Since it’s not all work and no play, they will also be hiking at La Fortuna National Park (volcanos), zip lining, hanging in the hot springs and white water rafting. They are spending several days with an indigenous population where they will work on a school/playground renovation.
I wasn’t particularly concerned since the group that is sponsoring the trip is organized and sends thousands of kids all over the world on these types of expeditions. But still, as the days have grown closer and closer, a mom’s instinctive worry has began to creep in. I am fighting to keep it at bay and imagine what wonderful experiences they will have as they undertake this expedition.
Safe travels Mill River kids — have a great trip!
Miss my dad everyday since he left us, but especially on Father’s Day.
He would be very proud of his grandsons and I know that they would have loved spending time with him.
Warmest wishes to all the dads celebrating today, especially the man that has helped me through the craziness of parenthood and helps me everyday to raise three wonderful young men -
today and always, I love you.
There are people who enter your life and leave an indelible impression on your soul. Ones that impart lessons and leave a mark that lives with you for all your days. When you least expect it, you hear their words echo in your head or feel their presence as if they were there with you. For me, one of those persons was a man that I met as an employer, learned to admire and respect and became a second dad to me as I grew into the woman that I have become. When I lost my own father, he was someone that was always there to lend a gentle, guiding hand – a person who was truly happy and proud of my accomplishments, much as my own dad would have been if he were still with me. I came to know his family, watched his daughters grow into wonderful, amazing women of whom he was immensely proud.
Today is his birthday. The last time I spoke to him was on this day several years ago, just prior to his death. Unbeknown to me at the time, he was ill and would died less than two weeks later from an unknown ailment that he most likely acquired while he was doing something that he loved and aspired to do for a very long time, working with the Peace Corps. He taught me lots of lessons in the years that I had known him, how to be a good lawyer, how to treat people fairly, how to be ethical in my profession and how to never be afraid to learn something new. I remember that when his daughters learned the violin, he took lessons right alongside them, never having played the violin himself. He decided that he wanted to learn Spanish (which he would later use in the Peace Corps) so he enrolled in college to take Spanish lessons. He learned Pilates and took dance lessons. He was known for the fedora hats that he sported on a daily basis, both around town and in the courthouse. He was a proud Marine and the father of three West Point graduates.
He taught me that a lot of things can be worked through with a simple “walk around the block”.
He was, for all intents and purposes, in the decades that I knew him, a second father. I cried almost as much as I cried for my own dad when I learned that he passed away. Just like my dad was the only one to call me “Babe”, John was the only one who could call me “Kiddo” (beside my own husband) and get away with it.
After he passed away I made a trip to New Jersey to help his wife go through old files. I sat on the floor of the room that contained years of legal work, much of which I was a part of, and cried alongside her. They were, and still are, like family.
You never know when the stranger that entered your life will leave that kind of mark. You never know how you are touched by those, once strangers, who become family. You never know how they will shape the person you become. Just like I miss my own dad, I miss him too. I always think of him when June 15th rolls around and smile. He was one of a kind and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Happy Birthday John Dolan Harrington, you are very much missed.
Tonight was one of the big milestones on life’s path – our oldest son graduated high school. Last night was the Senior Awards Ceremony and I am proud to say that TJ was the recipient of two scholarships and a bunch of academic commendations. He and his fellow classmates have a lot of talent and it was apparent at the awards ceremony, where there was much to celebrate over the course of the evening. As eloquently stated by our principal last night, the awards ceremony celebrated the students’ differences, their different achievements — be they in academics, community service, athletics or music. The graduation ceremony tonight celebrated their similarities – each and every one of the students tonight received the same diploma marking the conclusion of their high school careers and marking the same milestone on their life journey. They are a wonderful group of young men and young women that I have had the pleasure of watching grow in the years that I have known them. They have grown into amazing people that will do wonderful things in the years to come. I am very proud of TJ and his friends. They are amazing and I wish all good things to them.
I think that the older they get the boys realize more and more how important they are to each other and how important their friends are to them. Tom and I have often told the boys as they were growing up that one of the best things to come out of our school and college years were the dear, dear friends that have shared many laughs and many tears in the years that followed college with us. Together, we have celebrated marriages, births, graduations and the growth of our children. We have cried together over the loss of family members, and other devastating life events. Good or bad, they were there for it all. Today, two of our very dear friends drove up with one of their daughters, our goddaughter, to be here for TJ’s graduation. It was a wonderful gesture and I know that they know how much it meant to both of us and for that I will be eternally grateful.
As the boys grow into their own lives and their own friendships, I hope that they are fortunate to find such dear, loving friends — friends that I have always liked to refer to as my “2 a.m. friends”. These are those friends that I know without any doubt whatsoever that I can call upon in the middle of the night to ask a favor or talk to or cry with or whatever and they will do it or be there without any question or any hesitation. These are the friends who were there when I miscarried and later when I was put on bedrest with TJ who brought me yummy muffins and smoothies and who believed in my ability to nurse when I wasn’t so sure myself; the friends who did all kinds of amazing things for which I am eternally grateful for me and my family when my dad passed away suddenly; the friends who watched my boys when Tom and I came down with the flu at the same time and couldn’t move a muscle; the friends that would leave breakfast foods on my doorstep when we got here in the middle of the night or had dinner waiting when we arrived from New Jersey; the friends that come and spend the holidays with us and make me feel like we haven’t missed a beat in years; the friends that would drive 6 hours in total to be there for your son’s graduation because they know how much it means to you. These are the friends that I hope that my boys have the good fortune to have in their own lives.
We are so fortunate to have such wonderful friends and such great sons. They have made me so proud that I think my heart will just burst at the seams. Tonight was an amazing ceremony and we are so proud of TJ and his fellow classmates and friends.
“I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.” – Anonymous
I love you TJ and am so very, very proud of you today and always. ~ Mom