Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Has It Been That Long?

I debated with myself over what to title this post.  Some options included (but were not limited to) "Do Not Disturb," "BQ or Big Quiter," and "I'm Embarrassed to Say."  What am I talking about?  My September 11, 2011 post My BQ Quilt.  Here is the picture of the quilt as it was almost 6 MONTHS AGO.

At the time I had wanted it finished for company in October.  Then came Thanksgiving (more guests) and then Christmas (Yep, more family and friends).  Now, these many months later, I am eyeing my next guest in March with no more progress made.  (Insert sad, embarrassed face here)

It is not all my fault, you know.  I had a great plan for the border.  Very sharp.  But I ran into a problem; I did not have enough brown fabric to complete the project.  How short was I?  About 1/4 yard of fabric would have done it.  Frustrated and stumped on how to move forward I put it away and focused on my Thanksgiving and Christmas guests and all the company in between.  See.  I was really just being a good hostess.

Enough is enough.  It's time to switch gears, get back in the saddle, face this horse to barn, and every other idiom that may apply as well, and get this thing finished.

What does this mean?  No more cooking, gardening, bird watching, or Dear Jane (yes, I said it), until these borders are complete.  I guess I need to put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my sewing room door and get to work.

This may require chocolate.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meatless Monday a la Regan

My wonderful daughter-in-law Regan cooked dinner for the family and it was perfect for my new Meatless Monday post.  Dinner was fantastic and she has graciously written a guest post to go with it.  Thanks, Regan!

Every Monday is meatless Monday in our apartment, so when we went to visit Sandi and Breck, I volunteered to make dinner. After all, Sandi’s wrist is still recovering and I like to prove to people that you don’t lose any flavor by leaving meat off your plate.
Sandi gave me a fabulous cookbook for Christmas: CrescentDragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. I had only tried two recipes from it before and they were both delicious. They just tend to be more complicated than what I normally have time for. I went for an Italian theme.
I made a polenta, Parmesan, and roasted garlic pudding. I started off by roasting garlic covered in olive oil for an hour.

This was my first ever attempt at making polenta, which was a lot simpler than I thought it was going to be. It was as simple as boiling water in a frying pan, stirring in cornmeal, and then cooking that over an impromptu double boiler.
To turn the polenta into a pudding, I mixed the polenta with milk, eggs, the roasted garlic, and Parmesan. After an hour of baking it was ready. It was delicious. It was like a very strange and delicious crust-less quiche. 

While it was baking I decided to crack open a bottle of wine. It’s an essential part of the cooking process.

For side dishes, I made spaghetti squash and tossed it with a tomato sauce that I made from Dragonwood’s book. Her recipe called for a smidge of honey to sweeten the sauce. I was skeptical, but it was delicious.

I have seen quite a few recipes lately for cooked celery. These intrigued me because I’ve never had celery as a side dish. I found one in Dragonwood’s book for steamed celery and I decided to go for it. Just steam the celery for 7 minutes and it’s ready. I tossed it with fried garlic and tomato sauce. It was pretty good, but not my favorite.

All in all, I think the dinner was a success.

And what is a blog post without an inhibitor? Here is my precious T-Rex soaking up the sun at Ranch Templeton:

Yum.  I especially liked the polenta.  Thanks again, Regan, and thanks to Ellen for taking all the photos.  I officially am not the only one in love with my camera anymore.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


This weeks photo challenge was "red."  So many options here.  I was tempted to go with a photo of a cardinal, since we have such an abundance here.

I even thought about roasted tomatoes.  Yum.  But in the end, as homage to all the yard work done yesterday, I went with my lovely Bottle Brush blooms.

Don't forget tomorrow is Meatless Monday and a guest post from my daughter-in-law, Regan.  You are going to love it!  Here is a sneak peak at her work in the kitchen.

Sorry.  I know that is more of a tease than a hint.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let's Get Dirty

9 yards of mulch.  Yep.  9 yards.  It showed up in a big dump truck on Friday afternoon.  Looks like a spring cleaning for the yard.

Trevor came to town and helped us get it all into the gardens.

Before we got to work, though, we hit Lowes and picked up some flowers and herbs.

Everything we got will attract butterflies.

Didn't get the name :(
I wanted to add more to my herb garden, but it needed weeding.  After that I dropped in some new plants.

Hopefully my basil will come up soon from when it went to seed last fall.

I also planted a Cypress that I dug up with Chad and Devan at my brother's property a few weeks back.

I think it will do well here.  The sprinkler hits it so that will help.

All in all we got a lot done today.  I will sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maydelle, Texas

Most people have probably never heard of Maydelle.  I certainly never did until I started spending time in Rusk a few miles down the road.  What is Maydelle known for?  Really big pancakes.  Well, that's not all really.  It also has the train depot where the Texas State Railroad passes through going from Rusk to Palestine.  That's a trip I really want to take sometime.  They are also known for the Cushing Hotel.

It's not really a hotel, never was.  It was actually once Glidden Grocery and Market and originally a bank (supposedly there is a vault inside with the date 1910 on it).  In 1981 a movie was filmed using the building called "The Long Summer of George Adams" and they put up as sign for Cushing Hotel to suit their purpose.

While we were taking pictures, pieces of shingle from the front porch fell to the ground.  Strange to bear witness to decay as it occurs.

Now the vines have taken over the building ripping the bricks from the top under their weight.

Not only the vines are having their way with the building, here a tree grows from the ledge of a second story window.  I would love to return in the summer to see what kind of tree it was.

The vines are growing so straight they almost look unatural.

The north side of the building is almost completely covered in vegetation.

There were a few more buildings in town I could have photographed but didn't.  Next time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vanishing Texas

As you know I have discovered a new passion for taking pictures of old structures.  So many buildings that have been abandoned for one reason or another, crumbling under the elements, are a favorite.  This past weekend I passed through two towns where I could not help but stop.  The first was Alto.

I have driven through Alto, Texas at least a dozen times.  Even before my big girl camera changed how I see everything around me I have been captivated by the Williams Chapel A.M.E Church there.

On this day I decided that the trip was as much a part of the experience as the destination and I stopped to take pictures.  I wish the sky had been bright blue with wispy clouds so the contrast would be greater, but storms were all around us and rain came down all day.

Time has not been kind to this lady.

As I looked through the windows I could see straight through the rafters to the sky.  The wood had warped into beautiful but unsupportive arcs and the white paint that must have made this church glow in the morning light of sunrise was peeling.

How many brides came down these steps to start a new life?  How many mourners walked up them to say goodbye?  How many potluck dinners, baptisms, choir practices? When did people stop using these steps?

The southern wall has bowed out with no roof to support it.  Windows are broken and it is amazing that anything stands at all.

I ventured just inside the building, but not far since it was very obviously unsound.  I am so glad I did.  I love this old door knob and lock covered in spiderwebs.

Going around to the north wall I found it no longer existed, crushed under the weight and size of the roof which blanketed the foundation.

From this side you can see that the facade leans not only the left, but forward as well.

Who knows how much longer it will stand.  It may not be there when I pass through again.  So glad I took the time to look closer and to take these photos.

The next town I stopped at was Maydelle.  More on that tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: Veggie Lasagna

Yes, folks, I was serious about the meatless Monday.  How does veggie lasagna sound?  Simple recipe and versatile; put in the veggies you like, leave out the ones you don't.  Another plus; it doesn't need to cook as long as traditional lasagna.

Start with your favorite vegetables.  Some good choices are mushrooms, tomato, zucchini, squash, peppers of any kind, carrots, onions, spinach, beans, corn, and even olives.  Forgive the pictures.  I had to take all the photos for this post with my telephoto lens so they are not close-ups by any means and are a bit blurry.  (long story)

 I cut up one white onion and 4 cloves of garlic and sauteed them in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Added 1 big red pepper

4 sliced carrots

1 cup of fresh green beans cut into 1/4 inch pieces

2 quartered and sliced zucchinis

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup dry white wine with 1 tablespoon of oregano and 1 of basil and a teaspoon of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Oh, a pinch of red pepper, too.

 I cooked this for about 20 minutes until the liquid reduced a bit.  I then layered a small amount in the bottom of my pan and began layering.

3 cooked lasagna noodles covered the bottom.  I had precooked and cooled a 10 ounce box.

Then a spoonful of a cheese mixture made of 32 ounces of Ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese topped with a spoonful of the veggies.

One big handful of Mozzarella cheese on top (I used 2 cups in all), then repeat.

I topped the last layer with a small amount of veggies and cheese and baked for 30 minutes at 350 covered in foil.

After 30 minutes I removed the foil and baked 15 more minutes.  I had quite the treat while it was cooking.  Just look at the sunset out my kitchen window.

The view from the porch was just as stunning.

All bubbly and on the table.

I think they liked it.

Note to self, this was really good, but it could be better.  Next time I will add 1 cup of salsa to the tomatoes to get more of a sauce and add some more flavor.  I will also cook it just a bit longer (45 minutes) before taking off the foil.  And believe it or not, 1 more clove of garlic.  This isn't as much as you think when you consider the creaminess of the Ricotta.  It can more than handle it.  I am not an olive person, but black olives would add a nice saltiness and good color to this.

One more meatless Monday in the books.  Anyone have a recipe to share?