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Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Funnies

Off street parking . . .

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

(No April Fool's . . . we have a foreast of ❄️⛄️ in Nashua, NH this weekend.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Good New Reads

In recent months, I've been reading BookPage, a free book review publication distributed monthly to readers through subscribing bookstores and public libraries. Founded in 1988 and based in Nashville, TN, BookPage gives a broad-based introduction to newly published books. Content from the monthly print edition is available online at BookPageReading this publication led me to "discover" a couple of entertaining and enjoyable debut novels, each deals with completely different themes.


The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick tells the story of 69-year old widower and pensioner Arthur Pepper who lives in the small town of York. Each day, he gets out of bed at exactly the same time, dresses in the same gray slacks and sweater vest, and heads to his garden. 

On the one-year anniversary of his wife, Miriam's death, he finally decides to sort through her belongings. He discovers a gold bracelet with 8 charms that he's never seen in their 40 years of marriage. Arthur decides to learn the meaning of each charm and the role it played in the life of his late wife before they met. Arthur's journeys take him to London, Paris and India as he fends off a tiger, meets a famous author, who may or may not have been his wife’s lover, gets mugged in a Tube station, and poses naked for an art class. Through these adventures, he learns as much about himself as he does about Miriam. 

This charming first novel has also been enjoyed and posted about by other bloggers, Lenora of A Journal of Days and Lynn of Good Things Happened.

Readers of similarly themed novels, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Lilac Girls and The Nightingale, may enjoy Jennifer Ryan's debut novel about the struggles, deceptions and triumphs of an all-female choir in an English Village during World War II.

The story is told through the letters and journal entries of several of the women: Mrs. Tilling, a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; Venetia Winthrop, the beautiful older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; Kitty her teenaged younger sister pining over an impossible crush; Silvie, a young Jewish refugee who is hiding a family secret; and Edwina Paltry, a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past by committing a baby swap. 

England is enmeshed in the early days of World War II and men are away fighting, when the women of Chilbury, a small English village, forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar’s edict to close the choir because there are no male voices. "Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!" becomes their mantra.

The women band together and rename themselves as "The Chilbury Ladies Choir." They  “carry on singing,” under the leadership of Primrose Trent, a newly arrived music professor. The ensemble story shuttles from romance, village intrigues and matters of life and death. 

Reading BookPage, I "found" both books before they were available in the local public library, and was first on the "hold" list. Anyone looking for a reading change of pace; however, they might appeal more to female readers.

Do you have any new good reads as well?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lemon Chicken and Asparagus

This one-pan dinner is easy, colorful, healthy, ready, ready in 20 minutes AND cooked in one pan. And, the ingredients list is small too.

What's not to like?

While this recipe "technically" has a few more than 5 ingredients, the only ones you may need to buy for this meal are chicken, asparagus, lemons, and lemon pepper seasoning. Most likely you already have butter, flour, salt, pepper, honey in your pantry and fridge.


Lemon Chicken & Asparagus

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ C flour (or less)
  • ½ tsp salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1-2 C chopped asparagus
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 TBSP honey + 2 TBSP butter (optional)
  • parsley for topping (optional)

  1. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap and pound until each piece is about ¾ of an inch thick. (If chicken breasts are thick, cut in half horizontally to make thinner pieces.) 
  2. Put flour and salt and pepper in shallow dish then gently coat each chicken breast. Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat; add chicken and sauté for 3-5 minutes each side, until golden brown, sprinkling each side with lemon pepper directly in pan. When chicken is golden brown and cooked through, transfer to plate.
  3. Add chopped asparagus to pan. Sauté few minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Lay lemon slices flat on bottom of pan and cook for few minutes each side without stir so they caramelize and pick up browned bits left in pan from chicken and butter. (Hint: adding some butter in with lemons helps prevent sticking and promotes browning.) Remove lemons from pan and set aside.
  4. Layer ingredients back into skillet - asparagus, chicken, and lemon slices on top. FYI - lemons will be bitter when caramelized. You can use as a garnish or eat them if you like.

To make a honey butter sauce, melt additional butter and honey in hot pan after caramelizing lemons, and pour over chicken. 

This dish would go well with a side of wild rice, which we didn't add in this meal as we're minding our carb intake . . . but next time.

Grenville rated this one 2 forks.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Look Who's 3 (Months)

Our youngest granddaughter Lilliana Jean is just over 3 months old as of mid-March. The time since her pre-Christmas birth has passed so quickly and she is doing well 😘.

Her mother, Coleen, provided these recent photo collages to mark this milestone. Lilliana is a very happy baby who seems to know just when to smile for the camera.

We're looking forward to seeing her and her parents during an upcoming post-Easter visit.
Children and grandchildren grow so fast don't you agree?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Funnies

Here's an unusual sighting this week ("doctored" up a bit in Picasa) . . ,
No, these are not prehistoric creatures caught on wires. Here's an actual view. Grenville told me these are wire insulators.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone. 
Even the snowmen outside our door are "Irish" today

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What a Difference

Less than 24 hours can make and winter storm Stella looked like this yesterday.

Looking out the windows this morning.


Thanks for the comments on yesterday's posts. The Portuguese Kale Soup was delicious and inside was cozy and warm. My day was spent sorting through photos and updating photo albums. Today is clear and cold so it will be more of the same for me.

Any fellow bloggers affected by this storm and, if so, how did you spend the day? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Whiteout

And not like in surfing.

Winter storm Stella took its time getting here but by late this afternoon, this was the view outside our apt window . . .


The snow is still blowing and rain and sleet are forecast for the overnight hours. Looks like the forecasters got this storm right after all. 

Is anyone else ready for Spring now?

Portuguese Kale Soup


A nor'easter is what's supposed to be blowing outside right now. 

Winter storm Stella is supposed to deliver what's being called the season's heaviest snowfall here in the eastern U.S. by the time it ends early tomorrow morning.

Really?

This photo was taken a few minutes ago from our apt window and right now Stella is not looking very blizzard-like in Nashua, NH. That said, the storm is supposed to intensify in the next few hours with the heaviest accumulation this afternoon into the evening hours, so time will tell and show. 

Yesterday, Nashua, like many other cities, declared an advance snow emergency which bans parking on city streets and in municipal surface lots with free parking provided in two municipal garages. The public library, schools, and local offices also announced closures in advance of the wintry weather, unlike years ago. Growing up I can recall listening to the local radio station to learn if school was closed after a snow fall.

Snow or not, today was a soup day (the ingredients were purchased in advance over the weekend). This Portuguese Kale Soup was easy, delicious, and hearty — perfect for a winter day with or without a storm. What makes this recipe distinctly Portuguese is linguiça (pronounced “Lin-gwees-sa”) a spicy, smoke-cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika in Portuguese speaking countries.

Linguiça is said to derive its name from its unique shape, which looks like a long slender tongue (lingua in Portuguese) but there's no tongue used in the sausage. It
 can be hard to find, luckily the Hannaford's supermarket in Nashua, NH carries it. If it's unavailable in your area, a substitute of hot sausage or kielbasa will also work for the recipe.

Portuguese Kale Soup
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium-size onions, chopped
  • 1 pound linguiça, sliced
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • 1 lb fresh kale, washed, stems discarded, shredded into small pieces
  • 1 can Campbell's "Bean with Bacon" soup plus 1 can water (or substitute 1 can white beans plus 2 cups chicken broth) optional
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, cubed (russets or your preference)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Photo from New England Today
  1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add oil. Cook garlic, onions, and linguiça slices until onions are soft. 
  2. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and kale. Cover and let kale cook down, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add bean soup and water or substitute beans and broth. 
  4. Simmer 5 minutes. Add more water if the mixture is not diluted enough. 
  5. Add cubed potatoes and simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes longer, until potatoes soften.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crusty bread  for a main course.

Total Time: 30 min.  Servings: 8

Monday, March 13, 2017

Calm Before Storm

View from our apt window about 8 a.m. Monday - blue sky and clear (for now)
Stella, a powerful nor'easter, is forecast to track along the East Coast late Monday through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Strong winds with gusts of up to 50 mph may cause blizzard conditions along some coastal areas. NASA and NOAA satellites are tracking the storm; images can be viewed online.
By mid-morning, it was not yet overcast


Until this latest forecast, the Northeast has experienced one of the warmest winters on record. This potentially massive and dangerous storm could blast the region with up to 18 inches of snow and winds capable of disrupting power, closing schools and creating travel chaos. The NWS warned that any change in track could dramatically alter the amount of snow and where it falls. But there is little doubt that a big storm will explode on the region.

Blockbuster March snowstorms, while not common, aren't unprecedented. According to the Weather Channel, two of the three largest and heaviest snowstorms in the Northeast since the mid-1950s occured in March 1960 and 1993. The 1993 system called the Storm of the Century, dropped major snowfall amounts from Florida to Maine, left about 300 people dead and crippled travel for days.

Stella certainly has the potential to cause just as much havoc. Within the next 24 hours, we may be seeing this view outside our window.


All these temperature fluctuations seem to be confusing Mother Nature who was getting ready for spring in the wake of recent warmer temperatures. Over the past couple of weeks, trees were budding. Last Friday, all-day snow flurries covered them.
We hope that Stella will spare serious harm and damage to folks. My snow day plans are already in place: sorting through photos and updating albums while watching a classic old movie on You Tube. 
And, I'm making a BIG pot of soup and will post the recipe on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring Ahead➡︎➔➤➽

Spring already????? We woke to a nippy 9F degrees this morning. You could hear the crocuses crooking. 
BUT it is time to set your clocks ahead one hour for the start of "Day Light Savings Time". Here is a little article from Energy.gov (your tax dollars at work).
Grenville

8 Things you may not have known about Day Light Savings.

8. This Sunday, people across the country will set their clocks forward an hour, marking the start to Daylight Saving Time. But it hasn’t always happened on the second Sunday in March. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was implemented in 2007, added four weeks to Daylight Saving Time by changing it to start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November.7. Often mistakenly called daylight savings time, its official name in the U.S. is Daylight Saving Time. In European countries, it is called Summer Time.6. Ever wonder why we change our clocks? While some think it is to give farmers an extra hour of sunlight in the evenings during warmer months, Daylight Saving Time was seen as a means to help reduce electricity use in buildings.5. Sometimes credited with inventing Daylight Saving Time, Benjamin Franklin -- the man who is known for the saying “Early to bed and early to rise …” -- did not actually suggest a change in time. Franklin’s connection to Daylight Saving Time comes from his 1784 satirical letter to the editor in the Journal de Paris in which he proposed that Parisians could save money on candles by waking up before their normal time of noon.4. Depending on how you phrase the question, Daylight Saving Time is either credited to a New Zealand entomologist who proposed the idea in a 1895 paper or an Englishman who campaigned to get the British parliament to pass a Daylight Saving Bill in 1908. In the end, Germany was the first country to implement Daylight Saving Time in 1916 to conserve resources during World War I.3. The U.S. adopted Daylight Saving Time towards the end of World War I and then again during World War II, but between 1945 and 1966, there was no federal law regulating it. This led to confusion between states, and in 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to establish uniform dates for observing Daylight Saving Time.2. Not all states will change their clocks on Sunday. Hawaii and Arizona (excluding the Navajo Nation) along with the U.S. overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands do not observe Daylight Saving Time.1. How much energy does Daylight Saving Time save? In 2008, Energy Department experts studied the impact of the extended Daylight Saving Time on energy consumption in the U.S. and found that the extra four weeks of Daylight Saving Time saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity per day. While this might not sound like a lot, it adds up to electricity savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours -- or the amount of electricity used by more than 100,000 households for an entire year. These electricity savings generally occur during a three- to five-hour period in the evening. To learn how you can save energy during Daylight Saving Time, visit Energy Saver.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Funny

A serious case of home renovation or HELP where did the back of my house go?

Actually, in this case it's the first of these two options. This house in Nashua, NH, is not being totally demolished (as you might think by the photo). I learned from folks at the historical society (located right across the street) that the demolition is removing what was an addition with the main structure being left intact. I was told that the folks who bought the property plan to renovate and then re-sell it or in current terms "flip" the property. Looks like the new owners are in for major renovations.


Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oversized and New Cookware

Grenville and I order online mainly through Amazon. Although we're so much closer to shopping outlets in Nashua, NH than when we lived on the VA Eastern Shore (we had to drive 90 minutes then) we don't frequent them often, Amazon Prime membership offers 2-day delivery. That's often easier than driving to a store especially in cold or rainy weather,  and we can shop at home in our "jammies" too. What's not to like about that?

That said, some recent Amazon packages we've received have been perfect for the contents, but on the other hand, some not so much. These have made us wonder whether or not there wasn't a smaller size box available.
Shown above are outer views of a package delivered yesterday. There was also a lot of brown paper packing. If you're curious as to the contents of this box, here it is:
That's it, a single 10-inch fry pan that was shrink-wrapped in two layers of plastic (cut off free before the photo). The cookware was bought through an Amazon Warehouse "deal" with a bigger discount, so there was no manufacturer's box. That's OK with us as it's less cardboard to recycle.

As many folks may know, All-Clad is not inexpensive cookware. Grenville and I enjoy cooking (and eating). After years of buying and using assorted cookware brands: WearEver, Farberware, Caphalon, Ikea and Vollrath, we wanted to upgrade to a single brand that was USA made and opted for stainless steel as well. We've filled a boxfull of pots and pans for giveaways; always a good thing.

This isn't our first USA made cookware.Vollrath is made in Sheyboygan, WI. However, some of the ceramic coated pans we owned, started showing wear marks on the interior. 

Not every All-Clad piece is USA made, some accessory items are not. However, based on our research, it appears that even these non-USA made products carry the manufacturer's guarantee. We've never had to seek warranty assistance on any of the other cookware which was even less costly.

A ❓to our fellow bloggers who enjoy cooking . . . what cookware do you prefer and why?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Funny

Man's best friend was also a "co-pilot" keeping an eye on downtown traffic last week.
No one likes being stuck in traffic, even a dog.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Defining a New Purpose

We've all used them at one time or another. Perhaps some of us even have a hardcover one in our homes that we refer to now and then.
Not me, because lately I've been using mine every day. Now it's serving a new purpose and it continues to be helpful as well.

That's because I recently started having minor neck aches after sitting at my desktop PC awhile. During a regular chiropractic session for back issues this week, I shared this info with my chiropractor, who suggested this solution.
Now, I can truthfully say that, YesI use my dictionary daily.

Do you still use one still?
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