A year ago for my birthday, Tim gave me a beautiful orange Kalanchoe plant. The flowers died and the plant thrived, but I was uncertain if it would in fact flower again for me. I have that kind of luck, we are talking about the girl whose dad saved, rooted and nurtured the ivy from my wedding bouquet and planted it for me, only for it to slowly die on me.

Surprisingly, just recently, there were buds as it sat on the kitchen windowsill. The flowers came again, beautiful orange flowers. As I wash the dishes, it is right there, on the windowsill, making me smile, reminding me of my boys. Today, the sun was just perfect this afternoon.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. Tim, thanks again for the beautiful plant, it makes me smile and think of you when I see it everyday.

 One of my favorite hobbies is to cook, must be part of my Italian background because I love to see people eat. Mangia, Mangia, as my grandmother would say. It was never much of a problem with four men in the house – there was always someone happy to eat. Now, there are two of us in the house and the cooking presents a bit more of challenge, you see I am used to cooking…a lot (again, the Italian coming through). It’s difficult to figure out how to just make dinner for two, day after day.

We have had our share of good meals and our share of popcorn or PBJ for dinner when neither of us could seem to decide what we should do about that meal. I think, however, that I am coming around. Over the weekend, we felt like carrot cake, knowing full well that we couldn’t eat a whole carrot cake even if we spaced it out over days (carrot cake day #1 is great, day #2 is good, day #3 really, carrot cake again?) so I figured out that I would make a small carrot cake. I searched around and I found a recipe for a small carrot cake but it required a 6 inch cake pan. I searched around in the hopes that I could find something that I could use but not 6 inch cake pan or anything close to it. So I figured I would work with what I had, ramekins and make little carrot cakes – two of them.

They came out resembling little muffins, I cut off the raised tops to flatten them to look more like cakes, then cut each cake in half so there were two layers. The recipe called for a maple cream cheese frosting which was spread on top of one “layer” and then iced on the whole cake–it was delicious! Two little individual carrot cakes for dinner earlier this week.

The recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s website. I omitted raisins and walnuts which could certainly be added as you desire.

Carrot Cake

1/4    all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg white
2 tbs packed light brown sugar
2 tbs canola oil
 1 1/2 tps milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup packed grated carrot ( 1 carrot)

Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tps maple syrup 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Spray 2 (6-oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
  •  In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg white, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until blended. Stir in flour mixture until combined; stir in carrots.
  • Divide batter evenly between ramekins. Set ramekins on baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake 17  minutes or until cakes are set and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in ramekins 5 minutes; remove from ramekins to cooling rack. Cool completely.  Level cake layers with a serrated knife.
  • For frosting, in small bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth.
  • Fill and frost layers with maple-cream cheese frosting.

For those who asked, here is my go-to recipe for the battered onion rings that we put on our salads.

  • 2 parts masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 part all purpose flour
  • Creole seasoning 1 tbsp
  • Jerk seasoning 1 tbsp
  • Black pepper 1 tsp
  • Salt (when they are cooked to taste)
  • Water (enough to thin batter to desired consistency)
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • Canola oil for frying

I take two onions and thinly slice and separate into rings. In a small bowl I combine the masa harina (usually 1 cup) with all purpose flour (1/2 cup) and the seasonings. Add enough water to make a batter that is not runny. Add onion rings to batter and mix to coat. Heat canola oil and place onion rings into hot oil. Cook until golden on one side and flip – do the same with the other side. Remove from oil onto tray with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Salt to taste.

Most often, I do more than I need for the salads since many of these guys never make it past the cooling tray.:)

IMG_4858This guy, maybe some of you know him? Today is the day that he turns as old as me. While he doesn’t like the limelight (as if you can say this blog is the limelight LOL) I cannot let the day pass without wishing him a Happy Birthday.  I cannot imagine a better person to share this wacky, rollercoaster of a ride through life with than this guy. He makes me laugh, makes me feel safe, he is my biggest fan and my best refuge from the big bad world when I need it.

He has given me the three best parts of my life.

I cannot wait to see what adventures we share in the years ahead.

When I say that I love you it is not out of habit or to make conversation. It is to remind me that you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you — Happy Birthday – Even if I am just pretty okay.

Love,

Me

 

Can you identify this?

img_5028-1

This, my friends, is what remains of our screen door.

Mother Nature can be a scary one.

The winds that were predicted by the weather services to kick up and be scary yesterday during the daylight hours never arrived.  Instead they showed up last evening, arriving with the darkness. The wind was howling and very gusty. A sudden and very loud slam alerted us to the fact that the screen door (which was not fully latched at the time) decided that it liked the field across the street better than our door frame. Perhaps I exaggerate just a little, it didn’t quite make it to the other side of the street, traveling a few feet down the driveway instead. We reclaimed what was left and now scratch our heads because we now have a very large doggie door (minus the flap part) that could easily fit two goats stacked on top of each other.IMG_2681IMG_2696

P1100263

SAY WHAT? GOAT DOOR???

(Hmmm… before those goats get any ideas, maybe we should just forget I said that.)

Could always have been worse… we could have had flying doors and flying goats. We must always see the bright side….always.

 

Today was a very un-January-like January day. The weather here has been less than winter-like and reminiscent of spring. Thank you (NOT) El Nino. Winter is supposed to be snowy and cold. Most of the day was rainy and damp with the actual temperatures well into the high 40s. What is left of the snow is either a lot of slush or a sheet of ice, not much in between.

On this lazy Sunday, a gumbo was simmering away on the stove. Tonight we had that gumbo made with North Country andouille sausage, chicken and okra that was flourishing in the garden a few months ago. Served with a loaf of bread, not mine but from the farmers’ market yesterday and some roasted hot peppers.

 

There have been Christmases since we’ve been here that the weather has not been very Hollywood Christmas-like. In fact, there have been a few Christmas mornings were there wasn’t snow on the ground, but we may have had some snow flurries for the effect, as if on cue. I remember one recent year that the snow began to fly as we left Christmas Eve mass, adding to the magic of the day. There was one Christmas when we went to bed without any snow on the ground and woke to a world glistening from an ice storm.

In general, though, even despite the lack of snow in years past, the weather has been winter-like, temperatures that required the wood stove to be casting its warm glow across the living room floor. This year, it was about 70 degrees on Christmas Eve and not much cooler on Christmas Day. The wood stove had no fire. I learned this year what those folks who live in Florida or other southern parts of the country must experience at this time of the year. I definitely realize that I am a winter/snow Christmas person – no flip flops and beaches on Christmas for me.

For Christmas morning, there was a feast of overnight eggnog french toast, sausage patties and wedges of fresh oranges. Better than the food, however, was the company. It was nice to have all of us around the table.

IMG_1907

I am the first to realize that I have adjusted less than optimally to this empty nest. I vow to embrace the upside of the situation even though two dinner plates look lost on our farmhouse table. Seems like it took forever to get the table that was my ideal for our family — and in a short amount of time it became too big, too soon. I think Tom and I are going to have to have one of those dramatic Hollywood style dinners one of our evenings — me at one end and he at the other….in the meantime, we’ll settle for a cozy dinner by the fire more often than not.

Whether your Christmas was warm or cold, dry or snowy, frantic or calm, I hope that you shared it with those that are close to your heart. Blessings and Peace this season.

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’ ~ Bing Crosby

 

English: hundreds of redheads together at the ...

English: hundreds of redheads together at the annual redheadday in Breda, The Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the day we celebrate those folks in our lives with a natural pizzazz of red hair. According to baynet.com  here are some redhead facts:

  • The highest concentration of Redheads is in Scotland (13%) followed by Ireland (10%). Worldwide, only 2% of the population has red hair.
  • People with red hair are likely more sensitive to pain. This is because the gene mutation (MC1R) that causes red hair is on the same gene linked to pain receptors. It also means redheads usually need more anesthesia for dental and medical procedures.
  • Having red hair isn’t the only thing that makes some redheads unique. They are also more likely to be left handed. Both characteristics come from recessive genes, which like to come in pairs.
  • Redheads probably won’t go grey. That’s because the pigment just fades over time. So they will probably go blonde and even white, but not grey.
  • Rumor says Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.”
  • Redheads most commonly have brown eyes. The least common eye color: blue.
  • Bees have been proven to be more attracted to redheads.
  • Being a redheaded man may have health benefits. A study published by the British Journal of Cancer suggested that men with red hair are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their brown and blonde-haired counterparts.
  • Redheads actually have less hair than most other people. On average they only have 90,000 strands of hair while blonds, for example, have 140,000. However, red hair is typically thicker so they it still looks just as full.

Did you know?

The mutated MC1R gene causes red hair. If both parents carry it their baby has a 25% chance of being a redhead even if parents are not redheads.

Redheads are more likely to be lefthanded.

Bees prefer to sting redheads.

Redheads are more sensitive to heat and cold.

To all those gingers out there, and one in particular, Happy RedHead Day!

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d'oiseau

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d’oiseau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been two weeks since we moved the boys to school, that’s two weeks without any kids still living at home.

My question is….  who came up with this whole “empty nest” symbolism anyway? Obviously no one who actually did some research. From what I have read, most adult birds don’t stick around the nest when the fledglings leave, in fact, from what I’ve read some even leave the nest before their little baby birds are off on their own.

Imagine just how that would play out in the human world.

Kid: I will be leaving in a week for college. Are you going to miss me? I need some help packing and getting my stuff there and set up in my dorm room.

Parents: Hope you have fun with that. We are outta here! Headed south for the winter or maybe for forever. The house has been sold since we aren’t living here anymore and you’ll have to leave earlier than a week.  Don’t even think about coming home in a month or two for a break or Thanksgiving because the house may be gone or new folks may be living here but one thing is definitely certain, your father and I, we won’t be coming back….ever. And that moving in and getting settled at college thing. Good luck with that.

I came across this quote online and it definitely takes some of the sting out of the whole “empty nest” stigma.

I don’t like the term “empty nesters”…. I prefer “parents of free range young adults.” Robin Fox.

It is definitely a weird transition to go from a house where I have to wonder and plan for things like who is going to be here for dinner and what food shopping needs to be done to a house where there’s really no one to care what time we eat (my husband is pretty flexible with the whole food thing) or if we even eat. Makes my hobby of cooking and baking pretty darn obsolete, doesn’t it? Think I have to find a new hobby to occupy my time.

We just hosted my nephew and his girlfriend for the weekend. We had fun, I got the chance to bake some goodies, make a real breakfast for all of us and enjoy their company. There is one thing that I can tell you though. When we would have a houseful of company and they would leave after the weekend, the house, with the five of us in it, seemed empty. The house with just two of us in it after company leaves is even more empty and quiet. Sigh…….

Between yesterday and today I picked about 8 pounds of Roma tomatoes, peeled them and made homemade arribiatta sauce, picked a bunch of hot peppers from the garden some of which went into such sauce, picked a bushel of apples from the yard and made apple sauce with most of it. The canning of that will be tomorrow’s project. I also sliced and froze about 6 pounds of peppers from the farmers market, picked parsley and have it drying in the dehydrator along with other herbs for a dried herb seasoning , took Moxie for a 3 mile walk both days,  

  

  

 went food shopping, did laundry and helped Tom move a bunch of stuff (3 truckloads to be exact) to the side of the road that we didn’t want or need anymore, cleaned out my old office, watered the flowers and the garden (twice) and last but not least, made apple turnovers. Empty nesting may kill me. 

As you look around here, you can see the signs that autumn is approaching. They are subtle but you can find them if you look. Distressed trees are turning color, the nights are a little cooler, the end of summer vegetables are getting ripe and weighing down the plants that bear them. Berry picking is ending, canning jars are flying off the shelves. The countdown begins.

Yesterday marked another kind of countdown–two weeks until our youngest heads off to college to begin the adventure that he has been waiting and preparing for all those high school years. He will be followed a couple days later by both his brothers. 

So here in the remaining days we have together before our family morphs into a new and different configuration, I will make every effort to dwell on enjoying and favoring the last remnants of the before college years. Similar to enjoying the last lazy days of summer, embraced with both pleasure and sadness, knowing it can’t last forever.

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks.

Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Just click “New Post,” and tell us why you’re here.

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d'oiseau

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My blog is hosted by WordPress. Every once in a while, they offer free blogging courses on a variety of topics. I decided that since I haven’t been as attentive to my blog as I would like of late, this would be a good “kick in the pants” as it were, to make me get back on track posting on a regular basis. The way it works is that every day you are given a prompt and should use it to the best of your ability to post to your blog. Some of the prompts may not be relevant to each and every blog, but you are supposed to extrapolate what can be relevant to you from the prompt and write about it. What appears above is today’s prompt — “Introduce Yourself to the World”

I thought that this prompt was particularly fitting for me considering that, with my youngest son having just turned 18 and heading off to college in the next few weeks and the nest, empty as it will be, looming closer, it is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately.

As many of you can relate, for the past 20 years I have been, first and foremost, a mom. It has been (and will continue to be) my most important job and the one that I will have until the day I draw my last breath. I am also an attorney and have been one of those for 27 years but I have no doubt I have put in way more hours as mom than I have or will as attorney despite the difference in actual years of practice. The mom job has been 24×7 since 9:48 p.m. on April 2nd, 20 years ago. In about three weeks I’ll get put on ‘stand-by’ status. No longer will I have to worry (as much) about the day-to-day mom things. All three boys will be off at school. So then, the question becomes, after all this time of being a mom front and center, who am I when they are all off becoming wonderful young adults embracing their new adventures in life? It is a question that I don’t quite know the answer to yet.

I started this blog when we moved up to Vermont from New Jersey in 2006 as a fun way to keep the family and friends in the know as to what and how the five of us were doing. It has grown, as I have, in the ensuing years and it will be fun to see how the blog will morph and change once again when I am officially an “empty nester”. I am hoping that I will be able to get back to posting more frequently.

While I don’t know exactly what this whole empty nest thing will bring, I stand on the threshold, both sad and excited, to see how things will change. I would enjoy hearing from any of you as to how to handled or planned to handle your own empty nest life.

Evilwife on the move

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© Happenings on the Hill,
https://tammyheff.wordpress.com
2012.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Evilwife and Happenings on the Hill (http://tammyheff.wordpres.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There have to be 5 things even on a really bad day.

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