Friday, June 30, 2017

Just Because

An unexpected surprise arrived yesterday, when our neighbor Nancy knocked on the door.
She brought this lovely floral bouquet, which coincidentally included purple, my favorite color. When I asked her Why? as it wasn't my birthday, anniversary, or any "special" day, her answer was simple and direct . . .

Just Because was her reply, to which she added and because I wanted to.

Of course, the ever-practical Grenville said it may have been because I have visited Nancy in her apartment many times, just to chat. A neighbor on our floor, Nancy has MS and while she is in a wheelchair, isn't confined by it. I don't visit because of her medical issue, but because Nancy is a very an upbeat, talkative, and engaging person.

This unexpected bouquet is now on our window dining table. Looking at it makes me smile, for the reason you might suspect . . . just because.

Who doesn't enjoy an unexpected surprise? Grenville always reminds me that my "habit" of sending cards, letters, photos, small gifts to others amounts to the same thing. To me, it's something I've been doing for many years. Hopefully, it has brightened someone's day in this day of social media and text messaging. I enjoy getting cards and letters too. 

Speaking of surprises, I neglected to mention this recent one from fellow blogger, Kathleen. It's hanging on our apartment door and greets all who visit. Thanks, my friend.
If you know someone who would enjoy an unexpected surprise, no matter what, do go ahead and "just do it." Trust me, it will "make both your day." You will both be very glad.
(Sorry for the puns, but they fit.)

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone
Early Happy Birthday USA

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Something for Everyone

It’s been said about some places that “if you can’t find it here — you don’t need it.” And “one man’s junk is another man’s treasures.”

Both of those statements applied to the place we visited on a recent Vermont road trip. There were not only a lot of treasures, but possibly what others would consider "junk." Shed Sales Antiques on Rte 7 in Shelburne, Vermont. was one of the most unusual antique shops we’ve ever been in, and we've been through many.

We stopped in after reading about it in a Vermont guide book. That was a good thing  because there was very little information available online. 

Shed Sales was directly on our route to another destination, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. They're both in the same town. 

We've never been known to pass up an interesting or unusual destination and weren't in a hurry. That meant we had more time for browsing around. And we needed it in this place!

The unassuming house shown above was packed and featured antiques and everything else we could have imaged seeing at a yard sale, flea market or oddities shop. Even though this place was packed, most items were arranged and catalogued by type item.

We saw several "staff" members throughout the store, but they didn't say much.
There was a lot of glassware from tea cups to various sized bottles, including milk bottles. And, if you were looking to replace a broken lid, this was the place to look.

Lots of dolls, including some pricey vintage ones. Notice the 5 baby spoons for Canada's famous Dionne quintuplets, born in 1934 and celebrated for all surviving infancy.

You never know when you might need non-locking trunk handles for a 1942-47 model car. And, you could also get some old Vermont license plates for it. 

There were keys for many doors and locks, assorted doorknobs and hardware, canes and umbrellas and empty thread spools. 

There was no shortage of holiday ornaments hanging from the ceiling and on some lamps.

Kitchenware and cookbooks filled one whole section. 

These are just some collages of other odds and ends throughout the store.

We managed to leave without buying a single item. The only thing we spent was time. It was well worth it, and later we didn't have to ask ourselves, WHY did we buy this?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dine at the Kitchen Table

Nashua, NH, is a city which prides itself on its public art displays which include wall murals, sculptures, sidewalk pianos on city streets in summer and special art installations.

A recent art project entitled Comeback Kitchen Table consists of a series of public artworks that explores the changing role of the kitchen table. Once it was the center of family gatherings; however, in many homes today it's rarely used for dining because of increasing demands on family life (work, school). In some homes it's simply a depository for items of daily life: books, magazines, keys, phones.

The project was spearheaded by artist Jerry Beck, founder of the defunct Revolving Museum which was based in Lowell, MA. Beck worked with a diverse Nashua community of artists, educators and others to produce 10 unique and diverse kitchen table artworks. The completed projects were placed in under-used public spaces in downtown Nashua.
The Comeback Kitchen Table project included an essay and photo competition sponsored by the Nashua Public Library. The goal was to address stresses of family lifestyle. Many U.S. families rarely sit at the kitchen table to share a meal and talk about daily life and only eat together during holidays or special occasions. Some said the kitchen table was their “Thanksgiving Table."

Research has shown that society is moving away from family-gathered table meals and eating in front of electronic devices with no connection to others, conversation or even an appreciation of taste, smells, and rituals associated with eating. Studies have shown that children who did not regularly eat with their parents were significantly more likely to be truant, also those who did not eat dinner with their parents at least twice weekly were more likely to be overweight. 

The focus of this project was to create an understanding that sharing meals together is  important and to support communication between family and neighbors. 

Grenville and I cook and dine at home regularly, but we rarely eat at the table in our dining area. And, living in an apartment, there's no room in the galley kitchen for a table.
Instead, our "dining table for two" is positioned in front of the living room window and our view overlooks the Nashua River and downtown Nashua.
How about you and your family members — Do you share meals at a table together?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Funnies

Ever happen to you?

Last month, I bought this package of coleslaw mix. The package listed its ingredients: cabbage, carrots, red cabbage. 
Here's the package with tiny orange and purple specks — carrots and red cabbage. While two out of three ingredients were in very short supply, there was plenty of cabbage. 
After adding grated carrots and sliced peppers for color, the slaw was delicious despite the "missing" veggies. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eggs in a Cloud

In the 1950s, meringue pies were all the dessert rage. My late mother prepared lemon meringue pies as the featured dessert at every family backyard summer BBQ.

Meringue is back in style, not that it ever left.

A current food fad is a modern spin on a centuries old recipe, 400 years to be exact. That's when a food dish called Oeufs à la Neige (eggs in snow) was described in Le Cuisinier François, a pioneering 1651 cookbook when France was beginning a revolution in cookery that would make it the culinary leader of the world for centuries.

Today, this dish has been renamed eggs in a cloud, eggs in a nest, or cloud eggs, depending on your source.

Modern "eggs in a cloud" look sophisticated, but are not hard to make. Separate the egg white and egg yolks. Whip the egg whites, and arrange into "cloud" shapes on a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet leaving a hollow in the middle for the yolk to be added. Bake a few minutes, slip the yolks onto each nest, bake for a few more minutes. That's it.

The 17th century version was cooked a bit differently. There were no hand-mixers or whisks, chefs used bundles of finely split sticks. The egg foam and yolk were placed on a buttered dish and baked atop coals instead of in an oven. Everything was heated from above with a cooking tool called a salamander, basically, a hot fire shovel held over the dish. It was served with a sprinkle of sugar. 
This dish is fully customizable. You can add a variety of spices, such as oregano, basil, cilantro. You can also top the finished eggs with salsa or other toppings.

Eggs in a Cloud
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 C grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • 1/4 C chopped chives
  • 1/4 C crumbled ham or bacon
  • Pepper & salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Separate eggs. Put whites in a single bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put each yolks in a separate small prep bowl.
  3. Whip the whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold in cheese, ham or bacon, and chives (if using any) after peaks have formed. 
  4. Spoon 4 mounds of egg whites on parchment-lined baking sheet. Make a well in the center of each. Bake until slightly golden, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Carefully add an egg yolk to the center of each white nest and bake again until the yolks are just set, about 3 minutes.
Watching your calories (as we are)? Here's great news — a single egg is only 70 to 80 calories, and you're not adding any oil, butter, or bread. You can eat two eggs at 160 calories for a filling breakfast. Adding 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to our four-egg recipe added 27 calories per "nest." But. the chives and herbs were minimal calories.
These are breakfast dishes that Grenville prepared adding cheese and chives and serving on a bed of field greens. he really enjoys making this recipe and enjoys being creative each time. Personally, I enjoy eating his "creations" as they are delicious!

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    Happy 1st Day

    Summer Solstice 2017 began yesterday, June 20 or today, June 21 depending on your time zone in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the 1st day of summer and also the longest day of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, it's the winter solstice.

    Go out and catch some rays as summer solstice is the day containing the most hours of sunlight during the year. But, if you're living in Iceland and Norway you will have continuous daylight this time of year. 

    Timing of the solstice isn't based on a specific calendar and date, but is dependent on when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator.

    Solstice derives from the Latin solstitium combining sol (sun) and stitium (to stop) reflecting the fact that the sun looks like its stopped at this time, and again at the winter solstice around December 21.

    We'll be spending some time outdoors today. Here in Nashua, NH, the forecast is for daytime highs in the mid-80s, unlike the dangerously high temperatures in many Southwestern U.S. states.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Money Isn't Everything

    Not only that, but money can't always buy everything like rare or vintage items. But, for some ultra-rich folks, there's other ways to get what they want, like through a wager.

    That's the story line in these two commercial short films, now several years old. Their mini-film format highlights the (also) ultra-pricey Johnnie Walker Blue Label brand. The whiskey is shown in the films, but doesn't rob from their entertainment value and fun story telling. 

    Here's the background information, but no spoilers.

    In 2014, Johnnie Walker Blue Label teamed with British director Jake Scott to shoot a unique 6-1/2 minute commercial called The Gentleman's Wager in the British Virgin Islands with actors Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini. It begins with the two relaxing in style on a vintage 1928 Italian Baglietti yacht. Law's character is impressed with Giannini's yacht and tells him, "I want this boat." After being told,"It's not for sale," Law replies that he doesn't want to buy it, but win it — with a dance.

    Does he succeed? You'll have to watch to find out. 
    In 2015, Scott directed a follow-up, The Gentleman's Wager II, an 11 minute film featuring the same actors. This time, the setting was Giannini's beautiful Italian mansion, where he shows Law a garaged vintage Delahaye 135S race car. Law declares that he "wants" the car, (again) he doesn't want to buy it, but win it with a race to Monaco by noon the following day. Giannini laughingly tells Law that the car hasn't run in 40 years, and that he can have the car and the villa if he succeeds. 

    Does he make it? Watch and find out. 
    Although I'd seen these commercial films online earlier, they (again) provided lighthearted fun this weekend. I hope you enjoyed them. As Law's character said, "It's for a bit of fun."

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    First Time Dad

    Son-in-law celebrates his first Fathers Day today since the birth of nearly six-month old granddaughter.
    Sending him our best wishes for the first of many more dad's day celebrations to come. Here's granddaughter with her best friend, Lola.
    And, with two other (larger than her) "friends." We named the gray and pink "Ollie" and gave it to her for a Christmas gift after her December birth.
    Happy Fathers Day to Everyone who has been a father, stepfather, grandfather, foster dad and more. If, like ourselves, your fathers are no longer with us, take a moment to celebrate them too.

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Friday Funnies

    Missing a walkway for this door?
    Seeing this door made brought to mind a popular 1956 song recorded by Jim Lowe, called The Green Door. Lowe's version reached number one on the U.S. pop chart. The lyrics describe the allure of a mysterious private club with a green door, behind which "a happy crowd" play piano, smoke and "laugh a lot", and the singer is not allowed in. Lowe also was a disc jockey with WNEW AM (1130) in NYC and also worked at WNBC AM in NYC. 

    For others who may also recall this "oldie", here it is again.
    Enjoy your weekend, Everyone!

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

    Exploding Night Sky

    Summertime and the time is right for — 🎆FIREWORKS🎇

    Every Friday night at Holman Stadium, in Nashua, NH, there's a display immediately after the Silver Knights baseball game. The Silver Knights are a summer baseball team competing in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL). 

    While we could watch the light show from our apartment window, it's much more run to enjoy an evening at the ball field and stay for the show. Earlier this month, we attended the Knights home opener, which unfortunately they lost. 

    But, the fireworks were great, as always!

    These photos were taken from our seats using a handheld Olympus Tough Stylus digital 
    set to the Fireworks setting. Admittedly, I am a "newbie" at shooting these displays.
    This one was my favorite of the evening.
    We'll be returning for another Friday night home game at the end of this month, which means another chance for fireworks shots. Also, the 2-for-1 hot dog specials are one of Grenville's favorite meals.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Curried Chicken Salad

    Both Grenville and myself are watching our caloric intake (more closely) these days. This means looking for healthier ways to prepare a summertime favorites, chicken salad.

    We've been using less mayonnaise by combining part (regular) mayo and plain yogurt in some recipes that use mayo. We find this preferable to buying no-fat or low-fat versions.

    The recipe below is a variation of one by Ellie Krieger, whose Real Good Food, show is one of my favorite PBS cooking shows. Her other show, Healthy Appetites is on the Food Network, Healthy Appetite, but as we are non-cable or satellite TV subscribers. As a registered dietician and nutritionist,  her menus are focused on both delicious and healthy eating.

    Ms. Krieger's recipe used 1-1/4 lbs. of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, a cup of red grapes, and a 1/4 cup of freshly chopped cilantro. My substitution, used leftovers from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, chopped scallions, and dried cilantro as we didn't have any fresh available. It was delicious!

    Curried Chicken Salad
    • 1-1/2 C chicken, cut up (cooked rotisserie chicken)
    • 1/4 C nonfat plain yogurt (my choice Greek-style plain)
    • 1 TBSP mayonnaise
    • 1/4 C chopped scallions
    • 3/4 tsp curry powder (more or less to your liking)
    • 1 tsp dried cilantro
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 C sliced almonds, roasted
    • 3 ounces mixd greens (about 3 cups lightly packed)
    • 1/2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

    1. Before mixing the salad, toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden
    2. Stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise and curry powder in a bowl. Fold in the chicken, and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Tos the greens with the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
    4. Arrange the greens on individual plates, top with a scoop of the chicken salad, and top with the almonds.
    This salad tastes better if made ahead of time, then chilled for a few hours before serving. It's an easy summer meal and great as a picnic take-along as long as kept cold. 

    It's healthy, carb-free and provides plenty of protein and vitamin benefits. Grenville rated it a "keeper."

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017

    Double Birthday Time

    This past weekend we went on a quick road trip to our native NJ for two belated birthday celebrations. On Friday night, we took this lovely lady, Margaret, out to celebrate her (are you ready) 90th birthday, which was in early June. She is amazing in looks and spirit!

    Margaret joined us on Saturday at a birthday party for my "baby" (no longer) brother, Tony. His party at an a favorite area restaurant was attended by some 35 family and friends. 
    As I am the older sibling, he's "still" my younger brother. This was how he celebrated as a toddler. That's my (slightly) older cousin, Mary Ann, on the left and myself on the right. That's a cowboy and horse decorating the cake fitting for the mid-1950s boyhood.
    At Saturday's celebration, the table decorations were cardboard cars representing "Vettes" and other sports cars. My brother is a Corvette fan and owner. The table cars were filled with "vintage" candies; remember Chuckles, Turkish Taffy, Zagnut, and Babe Ruth?

    What's a birthday without a hat and my brother had his own special one! As shown by the balloons, this was a milestone birthday, #65. Tony is really older now as his birthday was in early April. His wife who was recovering from surgery then, planned this belated party. She figured he would really be surprised with a June party — and he was too!
    His two daughters, Julie (l) and Jamie (r) with their dad. (They are not biological sisters and were adopted as infants; Julie was born in Columbia and Jamie in Guatemala.) 
    These young ladies are engaged and both will be married in 2018; coincidentally, their fiances are both named Michael. Their weddings are in June and October, double NJ celebrations next year.
    Happy belated birthday to my "baby" brother!

    We're Adults! 
    When did that happen? ... How can we make it stop! 

    Friday, June 9, 2017

    Friday Funny

    Pins on a roll ?

    Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.