Friday, January 13, 2017

Walking in the City!

 I love to walk anywhere, but my hands down all time favorite walking grounds are Center City Philadelphia. There is so much flavor there, history mixed with future, business coexisting with pleasure, the uptight and the laid back, it is all happening in Center city.

 Philadelphia is broken up into neighborhoods like Frankford, Mayfair, and Fishtown to name a few. Center City while a neighborhood is so big that it broken into smaller neighborhoods like Old City, Society Hill, and Rittenhouse Square, and then there is City Hall, dead center in the city, and thats where our walk leads us to.
     Yesterday was a balmy 65 degrees and only lightly breezy, not your typical January day for sure. It was a perfect day for a walk; not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth ( where did that saying ever come from anyway?) Bill and I took advantage and headed for the city. 
    We parked near 8th and Arch and started down Arch street towards 11th where the Reading terminal and our lunch is located. If you ever visit Philadelphia you really owe it to yourself to check out the Reading terminal, only do yourself a favor and have an early lunch or a late lunch because no matter what the day is the Terminal fills up quickly for lunch. 

We love the sights and sounds in the Terminal making it one of our favorite lunch destinations. There is every imaginable food type under one roof in the Terminal as well as small intricate shops for exotic spices, or Amish specialty meats, not to mention seafood as well as local favorites. Yesterday Bill had the Oyster Po Boy and I opted for a favorite that I rarely have a Falafel wrap. Both of us where happy little clams when we finished our lunch. No matter what we have chosen  whether it be a classic Philly Cheese Steak or the more unusual Alligator platter we have always walked away satisfied and completely entertained. Yesterday was no different . Yes I really do enjoy the Reading Terminal. I don't mean to sound like an ad for the place but it is so much fun I can't help myself.
   After lunch we walked on heading for City Hall and what turned out to be not much of nothing. Longwood Gardens ( google it ) has an exhibit there and while I was picturing grandiose garden mazes in my head, I was forgetting this was City Hall and space would be limited. It wasn't a waste of time what was there was cute and the walk to get there had been as alway totally enjoyable. 

I had my camera with me ( surprise ) and there where so many interesting things to capture. I concentrated mostly on City Hall itself; that has to be one of thee most beautiful buildings in the USA and when you realize how long ago the building was built it becomes even more amazing. No matter how many times I visit City Hall I am always awed by the painstaking detail and the ornate beauty in the architect of the building. 

Over the years repairs and restorations have needed to be done; great care has always been taken to not deter from the original design. So for many years William Penn was surrounded by scaffolding and he almost lost his perch a top of City Hall over looking the city, but finally he was saved repaired and restored and today he looks as handsome as ever. 

Funny when I came to Philly there was no building taller the William Penn, it really was cool that no matter where you went in the city you could see him, but you can't hold progress back especially in a big city, and soon the ordnance that kept Willy taller then everyone else was voted out and a skyline began to grow in Philadelphia. Now you can still see William Penn through out the city but only a quick glimpse here and there. While the Philadelphia skyline has changed I am happy to say City Hall has not. 
   My camera filled with history, and our hands full with bags of treats and spices from the Terminal, Bill and I head for home; smiles on our faces and good memories in our heads of a day well spent.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Cooking, Photography,and Madeline

A weekend of fun despite the cold and snow. Madeline came on Saturday and hung out with us old folks for a short over nighter. Bill picked her up as the snow started to fall and took Madeline to the old house to play in the snow for a while. When she finally got here we decided it was too cold to go out and play. Madeline was more excited that we were going to make her recipe for dinner, then she was interested in the snow.
    We spent all afternoon in the kitchen working on a few different dishes. Madeline carefully measured out all the ingredients I needed for an apple cake, while I peeled and chopped the apples. She did the sifting, stirring, and the folding in. She almost made the apple cake herself. 

   While I worked on the Bean and Pasta soup Madeline cleaned up and re-arranged my spice shelf that badly needed it; all the while talking about making her famous recipe. She was so cute when she would say " Let me know when it is time to make my famous recipe, well it isn't famous but I just call it that"that made me smile every time she said it and she said it a lot. Madeline was almost too excited to wait for the dinner hour. 

   My heart has always been Madeline's , but there are times she melts it all over again. I gave her a camera just like mine for her 8th Birthday. The camera stays here and she can use it whenever she wants without asking. I try also not to tell when to take pictures , I try to let her decide when, where, what, and who. So when she had all my spices off the shelf and on the floor so she could organize them by size; she stopped what she was doing went in the other room and grabbed her camera. After 2 or 3 shots she put the camera back and proceeded to re-set my spice shelf. I asked if she got a shot and she replied " yep, you don't want to take too many pictures of the same thing" I just smiled and felt my heart melt a little more.

 After the shelf was set to her liking, back to the camera bag she goes and lickity split she has her picture and she's back to asking if it is time for her to make her recipe. 

   At last it is time to make dinner and Madeline can hardly contain herself. She nearly flies around the kitchen as she gathers her ingredients and puts together one of the funniest meals we ever had. Her recipe is simple and pretty typical for an 8 year old, I am just thankful it was something edible and not ice cream on a hamburger or something equally as gross. 
  Madeline calls it her famous recipe but claims it isn't famous, well now it is going to be, if only a little.

So here is Madeline's first famous recipe.
10 to 15 Chicken nuggets or sticks
Hot sauce or ranch dressing
shredded cheese in you favorite flavor
shredded lettuce
sliced tomato
soft and hard taco shells enough for 2 per person
 Pre heat the oven to 425
 On a parchment lined baking sheet lay out the chicken and place in the oven to cook. Bake 5 minutes and turn the chicken over baking another 5 minutes till chicken is cooked through and slightly brown. 
    While the chicken is cooking prepare the vegetables and set the table.
 Once the chicken is heated through remove from the oven and place on a serving platter. 
 Begin to assemble starting with the ranch dressing or hot sauce or both, put a generous amount on the taco hard or soft shell, place the chicken on top of the sauce. ( you can break the chicken into small pieces to make it easier to eat) Next add the cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Top with a little more sauce and enjoy. 
   We served the Bean and Pasta soup, and sliced cucumbers with Madeline's creation. Dinner was tasty, in fact it was more then tasty it was perfect. The pride and happy look on Madeline's face would have made even a plate of rocks taste good. Lucky for us it was chicken.
  As you may notice there is no photo of the finished recipe. Grandmama is slipping, I put the camera down when it was time to slice and dice the veggies. I wanted Madeline to be able to do most of the prepping and cooking so while there was a knife in her hand there could be no camera in mine. Then once dinner was being served I totally blanked on getting a picture of it.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Hobbies and stuff!

 I have a lot of hobbies lately, theres quilting, photography, cooking, and one I haven't been doing much of lately, writing. 
  Quilting; I have finished my 2nd quilt, a gift for Madeline for Christmas. It came out nice even with the many many mistakes I made along the way. That quilt will always hold a place in my heart and memory, not because I made it for Madeline, making it a labor of love, but rather because of the circumstances of how I ended up having to make the quilt to get it done. This quilt took me all most a year to make and I had to do something I had never really done before; I had to hand sew the blocks together.

 20 pieces to each block and 20 12 inch blocks all put together by hand as I sat with Mom first in the hospital as she got a pace maker put in, then a month in re-hab where she was so ill cared for she had to go back to the hospital for another week. During all that time I sat next her bed and I just sewed, it was soothing and a great stress reliever, and I needed that often as I dealt with one issue after another in the Re-hab place. As I said a labor of love and a whole lot more. 

I will be starting a new quilt soon, by machine this time, but first I need place mats for my table so I am going to make some up in a quilting fashion. My first quilt came together a lot faster and graces my living room year round.

   Photography; I started a photography club in my new community and it is going better then I expected. There are 8 of us and we have a real good time when we meet. All of us have improved our photoing and gained more confidence with our cameras and our skills. We tried our hand at selling our photos in a craft show. I sold 3 photos and two other members of the group sold 1 photo each, so not a rousing success but not complete failure either. This summer we are  planing a photo exhibit here in one of the club houses. That is going to be fun and I am exited. Funny though as I progress with photography I seem to take less pictures, I no longer bring the camera to family gatherings, our on a lot of the outing Bill and I take. I simply want to enjoy the moment and I have enough family pictures to go through as it is. I need to purge my computer of a lot of pictures, a very time consuming job with over 5000 photos to go through. It isn't always an easy decision on what to delete and not delete. Madeline and I take picture walks her with her own camera and me with mine. I love those walks and the girl has a natural eye. The club has taken a few outings and we  have a challenge each meeting to keep us clicking away between meetings. 

 Cooking; Well I am always cooking, its what I do. I am still an Allstar with and they keep you cooking for sure. My food photoing is not as good as I would like it to be, and I am not sure how to improve it, but the food is always as good I want it to be and at times even better. I made Potato Leek soup this week and I made a big batch with the idea I would freeze some, nope we ate every bite and argued a little over that last bite.

  Writing; Out of practice for sure, but I think its like riding a bike you just got get on it and go. You tell me am I riding on a smooth rode or am I falling down.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Lately the urge to write has been banging at the back of my brain. The urge is vague and unclear ,but it is there no doubt about it. Writing, spinning a tale are heavily upon my thoughts.
      I started my blog on a new years day; so it seems fitting I try my hand at the key board on the same day many years later. Technically it is now the 2nd of January and the I have had a glass or two of cheer, but that doesn't change the fact that my desire for writing has been nipping at my heels. 
  So what do I write about? Really what? I have a short story going that needs the middle finished, and the end started. I am just drawing a blank; well not a blank really I have ideas, I just can't get them from my head to the key board to the screen. So it has been no writing from me about anything. At last, just now as I type this I  understand,  I need to finish the story, I need to wrap it up and complete my project. I am a quilter and unlike most quilters I can't start a new project until I finish the first project. In other words I can't start a new quilt until the other quilt is finished, it is the same with writing, I can't write about anything until I finish my story, until my heroine and hero find their ends. I can blurb a small comment here and there but I can't start something new until I finish the old. 
  I truly miss spinning my stories, be it food, photography, my travels through life , or a story I just made up, I miss spilling out a portrait  of words .  So while I am not making a New Year Resolution I am making a New Year Wish ; For ideas and a clear path to finish the old, so I can bring forth the new with the magic of words and photographs. 
     Kind of a new years resolution ; yes ?

Friday, June 10, 2016

For the Love of Karen

Today as I sat with my sister in law Karen and talked she repeated more then once how she hoped my niece knew just how loved she was. Yes, I said was, this past week my niece, my Tina became an Angel after having an accident on her motorcycle. Tragic and totally unexpected Tina's family took this hard, we have cried and screamed and asked why ; we take small solace in the fact that Tina left this world doing what she loved 2nd best, (her daughter Bre being Tina's first love) what brought a smile to her face and a sense of true freedom to her soul. Her love of riding came naturally from both her parents and more then a few women in our family that loved bikes and riding them. Her pride in learning to ride dulled even the brightest sunset or sunrise for that matter. I would rather Tina still be here today but I take comfort in knowing she left us happy doing what she loved and something that brought her peace and happiness.

  To Karen I hope you know how much you are Loved.
  When I remember President Kennedy I remember you. Sitting on the couch next to you, not really understanding why you were crying. Just wishing I could stop your tears.
    You formed so much of me, made me much of what I am today. 
  I bet you don't know I think of you everyday. Something I do always triggers a memory of you. You taught me so much.
   Pan handels and the way you face them
   never leave the door to a 2nd floor walk up open, ( well to be honest Sandy taught me that one) 
   Mashed potatoes can be reheated and actually taste good without baking or frying them.
  So many other things as well, daily useful stuff, things that without you I would never of known, things that made my life better, safer, and sometimes easier.
  The other day I taught Madeline what I call the mushroom bun. I am sure you don't remember, but one day you came to my house; I was 13 or so and I was trying to fix my hair, I had a rats nest up top of my head and am sure I looked ridiculous, you just took the comb and calmly combed the tangles out and then showed me how to make a bun on top of my head, that somewhat resembled a mushroom.  It was so much better then the rats nest I had made and I couldn't of loved you more for it. Madeline's hair being longer and thicker then mine ever was didn't work as easily, but she loved it, and all I could do was wish you could know how much I love you.
  Yes Tina brought love into many peoples lives, yes Tina smiled even when she was crying, Tina learned it from you, just like I learned how to be strong from you.
  I once got in trouble, oh so much trouble, first from Timmy and then from Mom for saying you were my favorite sister in law, well it was true then and it is true now. I know this statement could hurt a few feelings, but I hope those feelings understand you have been in my life since I was like 8 years old, and most of life's lessons I learned from you. The spanking I got that day was worth it,I told the truth when I was asked. Karen you are so Loved by everyone that has ever met you and especially by me.
  Today as we talked, laughed, cried, and just plan hung out together ; all I could think was how lucky I was to have a sister in law like you, how much I LOVE you.
 Please know Dear Karen as much as your Sweet Tina was loved so are you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So long ago!

 It has been a long time since I put word to paper. I have thought about it many times, as I painted walls, swept more floors then I once had, cleaned so many more windows then I have ever had, vacuumed more carpet then I ever had before, and finally I have thought about it as I head on out to my quilting club, my Photography club, or just a walk with my dogs. I think how I would love to write about how wonderful my life is becoming, I just don't seem to be willing give up all the fun I am having to find the time to write. I now have so much more to write about and amazingly enough no real time to write it. If you are over 55  and have the chance to live in an adult community like LeisureTowne  Southampton NJ, do so. I woke up the day we moved here. Don't get me wrong I loved our life on Creek rd, I lost a lot of friends and life with the big move from PA to Creek rd NJ, the love and happiness I found on Creek rd made it all worth while. After years of fun and love we ,Bill and I agreed it was time to move and have a home of our own. I was aiming towards LeisureTowne and Bill was hoping for something different. In the end space, room size, house condition, and price led us deep into LeisureTowne. A place I fell in love with when Bill's dad lived  here. Everyday is now busy for me, running errands for my mom, attending club meetings, and now volunteering for Touch a helpful and supportive organization that makes sure Senior citizens have what they need to age gracefully. I feel like life has once again begun.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Comfort Food Redone.

 Good Morning! How was your weekend? Mine was packed full of fun. Little miss is always a joy, but after not seeing her for a month I really enjoyed this weekend. I put the computer, phone, and camera away and simply enjoyed every minute with her. My house looks it too; there are toys every where and many chores that where left undone still to do. I don't care not a little bit, the laughs,hugs,and kisses were worth the extra mess and effort it will take to get it all back in order. The above photo is from years ago and my first attempt at portraits, something I still struggle with today.
  Today I want to share a recipe with you that is so interchangeable that you can completely make this your own recipe. Thats exactly what I did; the ingredient list is my doing the idea and instruction are my friend Lynn's doing. She is an awesome cook and has more then 100 recipes posted on the recipe web site called Just A Pinch.
Lynn's recipes
   The original recipe or the first time I saw Lynn post a picture of this was a simple 3 or 4 ingredient recipe and it used only one pan and a cutting board. Quick and easy with very little mess.
 The 4 ingredients that never change are Sliced potatoes, Sliced onion red or white,  a pepper of your choosing , and cheese. I don't think the original recipe had cheese, I really can't remember. 
  Lynn layered the ingredients around in a circle in a cast iron pan drizzled it with oil and baked them until the potatoes were tender and slightly browned. 

  I tried the recipe just as Lynn had pictured it and we gobbled it down like we hadn't eaten in a week. The recipe stuck in a corner of my brain and just sat there for a week or two; until we invited friends over to see the new house and I made a ham for sandwiches. Even while everyone had 2 healthy sandwiches there was a lot of leftover ham. 
  Standing in the kitchen one morning shortly after our little gathering; trying to decide what to make for dinner a light bulb went on in my head and the potato circle bake popped right into view, and that is how the potato circle became potato Au gratin circle bake. Is it scalloped or Au gratin when you use cheese? This recipe has no cream or milk in it and is still warm and cheesey like a good comfort food should be. I personally think this way of making potato Au gratin is better tasting.

 You will need 
a cutting board
an oven safe skillet, size depending on how big you want it.
a sharp knife
a 400 degree oven
potatoes sliced ( bigger sized potatoes are best ) Depending on the size and how many people your serving I used 5 medium size and had leftover to use for something else.
 Left over ham cut into pieces a little smaller then your potato slices.
At least 2 Peppers, I used a green bell and a poblano cut into medium sized chunks.
1 large onion sliced into rounds
A handful of mushrooms sliced ( he likes mushrooms in everything)
Cheese I used block sharp cheddar cut into medium thick squares and sliced American divided into 4 squares ( use as much or as little as you like )
 Olive oil for drizzling about 2 tbs give or take.
   To begin layering drizzle a little oil into your pan and spread it around. Start with a potato slice propping it up slightly on the pan edge, next is the ham, the pepper, the onion, mushroom and then the cheese. Continue layering like that all around the pan until the bottom is completely covered. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drizzle oil on top covering all the potatoes lightly. Place the pan in preheated oven and let bake until potatoes are tender and lightly browned, and most importantly the cheese is all melted. About an hour.

 Keeping the 3 original ingredients you can turn this idea into a dozen different delicious easy meals.
  Hope you try this and enjoy it as much as we did.

    Enjoy you Monday!