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TJ and Tyler were invited to a sweet sixteen party for three of their friends on Saturday. TJ was escorting one of the birthday girls. The party was “dress to impress” formal.
Here’s a few pictures of the boys all dressed up…… pretty handsome, don’t you think?
So…who was it that TJ was escorting?
They make a cute couple….but no.
Again, another cute couple, but Emily has a few more years before she’s celebrating Sweet Sixteen (and for that my brother is, I am sure, quite grateful).
No, TJ was escorting his friend, Maddie to the party.
Not the greatest of pictures, but hey, they were in a hurry to get inside!
Today is my father-in-law’s birthday. Since we knew that we wouldn’t see him for his birthday today, when they were visiting last week, we decided to surprise Poppy with a birthday cake and his presents a little early. We seemed to have done a good job and he was surprised which was nice, especially for the boys who were thrilled to have pulled one over on Poppy.
We should be thankful every single day but often we are so caught up in day-to-day life, that we take the “little” things for granted. As Antonio Smith (no relation by the way) is quoted as saying “Enjoy the little things in life for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” I am often amazed when the boys will point out something, which usually Tom and I don’t even remember happened, but evidently it was a big deal for them, a small detail that makes all the difference. Never underestimate the power you have over the people in your life and never fail to be grateful. All too often, we fail to realize just how much we have and how blessed we really are, until it is too late.
There is a site, Grace in Small Things
My wish is that each of you enjoys a very Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by those people that are special in your life.
Bagels! It’s bagels! — At least that is what we think goes through Jinx’s mind every time I make bagels. Close your eyes and say it the way the dog says it in the Beggin’s Strips commercial. The first time that I made bagels, I left them in a bowl on the counter and we came down the next morning to an empty bowl. There is no way that the dog could eat a dozen bagels – she’ll explode, I thought. But we searched high and low around the floor in the kitchen and the den where she slept and nothing — sure enough she must have eaten a dozen bagels. Later that day, when the boys came home and one of them went to sit down on the couch in the living room, what did he discover under his bottom? Much like the Princess and the Pea he found it uncomfortable due to a ….can you guess? Bagel. Move the pillows on the couch and what’s there — a couple more bagels. Seems that the dog only ate about half the bagels and saw fit to store the others around the house for “later”.
Now, when I make bagels, like these
we’re sure to put them up high and away from the dog.
The recipe for these bagels is from The Food Network. I tried a few different recipes and these are the simplest and the ones that seem to come out the best – they rise well and are crunchy but light, not chewy.
We’re getting close. So close. Tonight I was scrubbing the beams with a wire brush and bleaching them to lighten them up. The original post and beam that we uncovered when we pulled down the wall is far too nice and old and Vermont-ish to have covered back up with sheetrock. The only problem is our doors are already stained and to avoid a room that looks like a gigantic hodge-podge of stain samples, we need to bring it all somewhat close to the same color.
The beams are dark with decades of dirt, grim and god-only-knows what else. I read that motor oil was commonly used to color wood “in the old days”. Maybe that, maybe not.
The above photo shows how dark the beams were before they were scrubbed and cleaned down.
Here’s the “after” – much better, not to mention cleaner.
Now…. I just have to do two wall’s worth of these….before Tuesday when the carpet is delivered.
Well, folks officially less than a week until Thanksgiving. We are headed toward the start of the “holiday season” fast and furiously. For me, let’s see – our house is torn apart, everything’s a disaster around here and I don’t think I have one single Thanksgiving dinner ingredient in my house yet. Full steam ahead! Bring it on. I’ve had a headache pretty much for the last week or so and nerves are frazzled. I can’t wait to have things back in order – or at least our normal sense of order.
Putting all that aside, we were reminiscing tonight about the holidays and memories. I asked our youngest son what he would like to have with turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, which sparked a conversation of holidays gone by. While some things endure through many generations, some traditions or foods slowly slip away from our table as the people with whom they are associated leave us. Why this happens I am not sure. I think that we sometimes take for granted certain aspects of our holidays because we take for granted the people behind them. We assume that the food, like the person will always be around.
For example, in my memories, my great Aunt Mary always showed up on holidays with literally a back seat full of pies – chocolate cream pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Pies that would make any baker shrink back in defeat. While we still make pie for dessert on certain holidays, none of our pies can hold a candle to Aunt Mary’s. The same thing with her stuffing – a mix of sausage, apple, onion and seasonings – a combination that I, my sister and my brother have desperately attempted year after year to recreate and somehow always fall just short of Aunt Mary’s stuffing.
I realize that we have not had antipasto since my Dad passed away. We had antipasto for the appetizer for every major holiday for as far back as I can remember and mostly since it was one of his favorites – huge platters piled high with Italian meats, cheese, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, hot cherry peppers, pepperocini and such. They are conspicuously absent from my holiday meals – intentionally or not – I couldn’t tell you, it just doesn’t seem right to have one of his favorite foods without him.
Tom reminisced about his grandmother’s dinners for holidays which always started with a homemade fruit salad. Pretty much the same thing – even if we tried to recreate it, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I know that the holidays are a natural time to remember. I hope that your reminiscing brings back as many good memories as ours did this evening.
Today is Homemade Bread Day. I didn’t know that there was such a holiday, but hey – I love bread and I enjoy baking bread so I’m all for it. There is nothing as good as the smell of fresh bread baking … it even trumps the smell of cookies in my world. If you told me years ago, that I would be baking bread on a fairly regular basis, I probably would have laughed at you. At that time, bread baking (if I did it at all) consisted of throwing the ingredients into the bread machine that my husband had gotten for me as a gift and 4 or so hours later out came a loaf of bread, a round tall loaf of bread but bread all the same. Since then I have created my own sourdough starter which is just about as old as my youngest son and babied it along all these years – almost losing it completely when the cleaning people cleaning our house here in Vermont while we were not here and threw away what appeared to be something that had horribly bad. Lucky for me, I still had a jar of starter in New Jersey, which I fed and doubled and we’ve been good ever since.
I have used the starter on a fairly regular basis and given lots of it away to various friends over the years. Now, bread baking is a more hands-on experience and has expanded into different types of bread and different techniques for making it. While I do not at all profess to be even remotely a professional, I’m a good amateur and I enjoy it immensely. The joke around our house has become that I must have performance anxiety when it comes to bread baking since under normal conditions I can make a pretty decent looking and tasting loaf of bread (see above) but when I want to really have the loaf turn out super good (like when my mom comes to visit) it is usually less than perfect.
Despite how it looks, it always tastes pretty darn good. Personally I like bread with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown in there, but my family – well not so much. So my bread baking is generally confined to loaves that the family will eat such as sourdough, sandwich loaves, baguettes and dinner rolls. My latest endeavor has been to find the perfect sandwich loaf of bread, one that will pass the boys’ inspection for lunch. While, they’ll eat just about anything with dinner, taking the bread and making it into a sandwich is a more grueling inspection and I’m still working on that one.
I was recently asked if I would consider doing a baking class (or a cooking class) and I was both flattered and taken aback. Really? Me? The more I think about it, I think it would be fun – but there’s always the issue of the bread just not coming out the way I’d like. What do you think?
To celebrate Homemade Bread Day, go out and make yourself a loaf – here is my recipe for sourdough baguettes which were my first undertaking and is a tried-and-true favorite here at the T’s House.
- 1 cup sourdough starter – recipe follows
- 1 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
- 3/4 cup 1% milk
- 1 T. oil
- 1 T. active dry yeast
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 T. kosher salt
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- Place 1 cup of starter, milk and warm water into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar.
- Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
- Add oil, salt and flour.
- Mix on low speed until blended and then mix at medium speed to knead for about 5 minutes. This dough will NOT form into a ball, if it does, you need to add more liquid. It should be wet and slack.
- Place dough into a well oiled bowl or container – cover and allow to rise in a warm place (I put mine next to the woodstove in the winter or into a preheated 160 degree oven (turn it off when it reaches temperature) to proof.
- Let rise until doubled in size. This can take an hour or two, depending upon the temperature. It is more important to move on only when it has doubled, no matter how long or short that is, rather than go by the time alone.
- Remove the dough onto a well floured surface. This dough will be sticky and if the surfaces does not have a lot of flour, you, the counter, the utensils will all be wearing the dough – trust me on this one.
- Divide the dough into three sections.
- Form each section into a ball and then roll out into a log about 9-12 inches long. Repeat for remaining dough.
- Place baguettes onto a baguette pan or separately on a flat baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Take a razor blade or sharp knife and make several slits in the surface of each baguette.
- Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes.
- During this time, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Just before placing baguettes into the oven, brush each one with water.
- Set the timer for 10 minutes. During this ten minutes, you should brush them again with water at least 2 more times.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. (About 25-30 minutes)
- Remove from oven and enjoy!
Today I dug up the potatoes from the garden. The other day I dug up the carrots.
Today I washed up a bunch of both. Cut up the carrots into bite sized chunks
Added honey from our bees and dill, mixed it together and roasted them for one hour at 350 degrees.
As for the potatoes, I cut them into bite size pieces also, added kosher salt, black pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder. Tossed them with olive oil and put them in the oven at 375 for one hour.
The finished product —-
I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find a couple messages with questions about blogging and learn that my sister-in-law started her own blog. Her Blog, thoughtsofanotsocitygirldotcom is now online. I do hope that you all will welcome her with open arms and stop in often to say hello and encourage her along.
I remember how excited I was when I began to get comments from people that were not related to me (those strangers that I now call my friends) and every day (sometimes more than once) checked to see how other people reacted and responded to what I had written. The input has always been welcome, encouraging, funny and sympathetic. You have made me laugh and smile when I’ve had a not-so-good-day and made me feel that what I had written was important enough for you to read. You have showed encouragement when I needed it and sympathy.
I hope that you extend the same generous spirit to Liliana and make her see how wonderful blogging can be.
I hope that all of you readers out there of my blog will extend a warm welcome to Liliana and make her feel as welcome as I have felt.
How goes it? It goes and with it, my sanity.
These last few weeks, well, they have been in a word — hectic. The den remodeling is getting done, but also getting on my nerves. I feel trapped in my own house. For example this morning I was up and went to go out into the laundry room to get a head start on the laundry I haven’t been able to do all week, to find the contractor there, working on spackling. It’s like this all the time. Saturday morning and no particular plans, maybe we can lay in bed and “sleep in” just a little, but no, someone has come to work on something. Seems that a house with work being done on it, attracts everyone, they must be able to smell it…..One day I walked in to a room with three men working in it and came back through the door less than ten minutes later to a total of seven men in it, some working, some talking, some just stopped by because I think that men can smell construction like sharks can sense blood. If it wasn’t so funny, I think that I would cry. I can’t complain, the work is getting done, it’s just like I feel like I can’t get a break from it. What I need is a vacation — quite honestly — except that’s a whole other set of issues that I don’t care to discuss.
Maybe I’m just super sensitive. Maybe I’m crazy – there are days when I swear that I am hanging on to my sanity by a thread and I’m dead serious about that.
And just as if everything can’t get bad enough, there’s the whole holiday pressure thing looming like a gigantic monster over our heads. A Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, Christmas dinner, Christmas gift wrapping —sheesh, makes you sick of Christmas already and it’s not even the middle of November.
Add to all of that the fact that my husband will be gone for the better part of two of the four weeks in December and this girl is just about ready to scream…..