Friday, July 31, 2009

There Outghta Be a Law

Here's a pretty close transcript of a telephone call I just received:

HIM: Mrs. S?
ME: Yes
HIM: How are you today?
ME: I've been better.
HIM: Mrs. S, this is Anthony calling from the Reserve Police. The reason for this recorded call today is that the Reserve Police are having a fund raiser........
ME: Hold it, Reserve Police officers where??
HIM: Yonkers, New York
ME: Forget about it! (or fahgedabowd it if you prefer) CLICK!!!

AFTER I hung up, I said They got big balls! Why didn't I say that for the recording?! Just so you know, I live in RHODE ISLAND! Last time I checked a map, Yonkers was in NEW YORK.

Except for being disturbed and having to answer the telephone it was pretty much 'no harm, no foul.' I hung up and they didn't get any of my money. But what about my mother?

A couple times a year I see a check she's written to the North Shore Animal League. North Shore of where??! It's not local. Somebody got this nice old lady on the phone and talked her out of $15 she can't afford to give away. Okay, she's an animal lover (wonder where I get it?) and if she wants to give to some animal rescue league, that's great, but she probably would rather give somewhere local. I don't know where they say they are located when they talk to her and they MAY BE legit, but it's not local and I think that's a scam.

I'm sure when Anthony got my click in his ear he had some choice words about me, too. But what I really wonder is What kind of people do they hire to prey on little old ladies this way?

Image from Google Images

Thursday, July 30, 2009

High Speed and High Anxiety

Had my first ambulance ride yesterday. Reluctantly, it's nothing I ever aspired to. I'm okay but more doctors' follow-ups to come.

I had a jam-packed real estate business day and could not afford this little 'vacation.' I am negotiating offers for buyers and sellers, preparing to close on a transaction on Friday, 3 hours of continuing education, clients to show new property to and a dentist appointment, all scheduled yesterday. Whew! Seeing it that way makes me think maybe it was a bit much.

Nevertheless, most never occurred because on my drive back to meet an appraiser at a property, I started feeling very strangely; tingling in my left side, disorientation and THEN my car started acting funny, like a bad tire. On a stretch of highway with no breakdown lane, I pulled off an exit into an area I'm marginally familiar with.

Pulled over, tried to make a phone call and couldn't remember how to use my phone. Not worried yet; decided to test the car, seems okay so I begin to drive. I'm not certain of the best route so I tried to plug my destination into my NAV system. I don't remember how to use it. After trying repeatedly with no success, I just drive. I am certain I was not okay but that's in hindsight. I distinctly remember swerving around a trash barrel on the side of the road. Nothing wrong with the tire, by the way, don't know what that sensation was!

I got back to my office after about a 15-minute drive on many busy roads which is scary to recall. There was another agent and my manager in the office, and I walked in and sat on the steps. They immediately realized something was wrong and asked questions that I couldn't really answer as I was struggling with putting thoughts into words.

They called Paul on his cell, I was able to recall his number somehow. I heard Holly explain it to him, and they decided to call the rescue. I wasn't in total favor but surrendered to the plan as long as I got to go to the hospital of my choice in Providence rather than a local one. Paul told me today he heard me say "I hate you!" to Holly. Oops! Not a good thing to tell your manager. (I was kidding, Hol, you know that, right?)

The next thing I know I heard a siren (did they have to do that?!) and there had to be at least 7 medical personnel peering at me asking questions, etc. They decided I didn't need the closest facility and put me into the ambulance (I walked, so you know) and got strapped in for the ride. Strange experience. They started an IV in my hand (ouch! Only my 3rd in my whole life) and soon I was being wheeled into the ER past all kinds of people. Again, strange experience!

No less than 3 IV's in me (ouch, ouch ouch). Blood pressure is fine; heart rate, respiration, all fine. Pulse oxygen in the ambulance was low. I realized that after watching my asthmatic mother's pulse ox reading but figured it was my nails. So did they, but nobody suggested messing with my fingernails!

The CT scan came back fine and there was lots of conversation about my history of migraine which dates back to 18. Apparently they were trying to rule out a cerebrovascular accident, a stroke. I have noticed over the last 3 years or so (hello Menopause?) that my migraines have been a little different. Much experience with the aura, which is a funny visual disturbance, not always followed by pain. Good! you'd think right? Maybe not. As I laid there in the ER for several hours, I kept going into an aura and out; something that never happened before.

More questions (I sent away the chest x-ray order, what?!?) and finally the attentding ER doc came to check on me. "We don't really know what happened." He suggested a follow up with a neurogologist, no caffeine, start taking an 81 mg. aspirin daily and slow down. Yeah, okay. Paul said I kept saying "I'm really very healthy!" Okay, right. (I was trying to text clients and other agents from the ER).

I'm home. Today tried to catch up on what I lost yesterday. Late this afternoon I answered a cell call from a lender friend of mine that I am sharing a transaction with to hear a very calm question/statement: "You were rushed to the hospital yesterday afternoon and you were emailing me at 6:30 a.m. this morning?!"

Ok, ok, I'll make an appointment with the neurologist......after I make this call.

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This little goldfinch comes and visits outside my window by the computer.

The quality isn't very good 'cause I shot the photo through the window.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cosmo The Wonder Cat

I wonder whatever happened to Cosmo.

The Marmelade Gypsy has a picture of her beautiful orange cat on her banner. I have always wanted an orange cat.

I've had two orange dogs, both Golden Retrievers. My beloved Jessie, gone since 1997 and Rosey, my competition for Paul's attention. Have I told you how Rosey barks and jumps up in the air when Paul hugs me? Sometimes we do it just to piss her off.

Madeleine, our granddaugther, said to me once when she was about 3, Grama your hair's not red, it's orange. Since I have orange hair and an orange dog, I've always thought I should have an orange cat.

And one showed up in our garage about 6 years ago. Paul came in one morning saying 'there's some animal out there making an awful racket.' I went out and from under my car comes this skinny orange tomcat yelling his head off. He looked about 4 months old. Despite being so thin he had the most beautiful coat and gorgeous dark orange eyes. He kept meowing like crazy and running around my legs.

He was so skinny, of course, I fed him. No idea where he had come from; I checked with a few neighbors and no one claimed him. We made a bed in an old cat carrier, and he stayed a couple nights while I tried to figure out what to do. After making calls I found a really nice lady who was running a no-kill cat shelter a couple towns away. Actually in the next state, she wasn't supposed to take out-of-state cats but I prevailed upon her,and we made arrangements for a drop-off.

In the meantime, we got kind of attached to the little guy. He was so affectionate, he purred constantly. Pam and Madeleine came to visit and Madeleine name him Cosmo. It was the perfect name.

Paul said several times keep him. But when Tiggy died I swore off litter boxes and since we live near the woods with the foxes and coyotes (remember what happened to Lucy last fall?) I can't in good conscience have an outdoor cat. So, no, he'd go to the shelter and they'd either find him a home or he'd live there permanently.

So the day came when I took him to the shelter which was in an old store front in a strip mall. I was pleased to see about 15 cats of various ages running around having a great time, no cages in sight. As I passed Cosmo to the lady, I teared up and couldn't speak. I had told her his name was Cosmo, and she promised to keep it. I left knowing he was in good hands.

A few days later she called to give me an update. The shelter quarantines new cats and has them seen by a vet as soon as possible. She told me that Cosmo was pretty sick. They had to worm him three times, and he was still at the vet's office. I checked back in a couple weeks and she said he was doing well, back at the shelter and was the life of the party. He had become the favorite of all the shelter volunteers with a personality like they had never seen.

She also told me that he was scheduled to be adopted by a couple who had two other cats they had rescued and was going home that weekend. And his name was going to remain Cosmo.

So when I saw Jeanie's kitty today I thought I wonder whatever happened to Cosmo?

The photo isn't Cosmo, but it could be!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Visit with Sookie

Meet Sookie, my friend Carolyn's Boykin Spaniel. She's made of milk chocolate and came in an Easter basket. Just kidding but that's what I think of whenever I see this little girl. This photo is when she was just a pup. She's a big girl now.

Sookie decided she wanted a pet of her own. A toad seemed like a good possibility. So she brought this big, fat one home.

Something just isn't right. This toad doesn't taste too good.

Notice Sookie's foamy mustache. Toad doesn't look like he's feeling too good either. Guess she won't be licking anymore toads!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dear So and So.....Friday Edition

Dear Toyota Service Department,

When I come in for an oil change, all I want is an oil change. Quit trying to get me to spend hundreds of dollars on unnecessary work. It's a Toyota, after all, and my regular mechanic tells me most of what you want to do is BS.

Seriously close to being a former Toyota owner,


Dear Appliance Manufacturers:

How do you arrange it so that SEVERAL different appliances all seem to crap out at the same time? My refrigerator alternately freezes and warms things, my microwave oven door seems iffy, and last night the dehumidifier started emitting a not-so-pleasant smell. Nothing is more than 13 years old. These are not my first appliances but their predecessors all seemed to last much longer.

Soon to be in-debt homeowner,


Dear Garden Slugs,

Please get OUT of my yard. Weather wise this has been the worst summer in my history and you aren't helping much by making lace out of my broccoli leaves.

Lady with the flashlight coming to pick your ass off my plants,


Dear Lucy,

The next time you see one of those striped black and white cats that waddle, leave it alone! Your little face still stinks and I'm tired of washing your bedding,

The loving mom you've got wrapped around your paw,


Dear Rosey,

Please stop looking so old. It makes me sad to realize you aren't the cute little puppy we brought home from Canada 9 years ago, and you aren't going to be with us forever and ever.

The loving wife of the man you have wrapped around your paw,


Dear Readers,

This is fun! If you want to give it a go, grab the button from my side bar (courtesy of Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow) and go!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Don't Say?!

My friend Kaye at The Road Goes Ever On has been one of my absolute favorite bloggers since I joined this bloggy community just a few short months ago. Visiting her blog is one of the high points of my daily routine because I still love to look at her banner as it opens. If you haven't been there, I really suggest a visit, and you'll see what I'm talking about! And, of course, I'm not there just to gaze at her beautiful banner but I often find something to comment on after reading one of her posts.

So imagine my surprise when she left a message in one of her comments on my blog that she had a surprise for me. When I dropped by to visit, there in one of her Thesaurus Thursday posts was an award for me in appreciation of my comments. Take a look:

Isn't it beautiful?! And Kaye wrote:

"This cute award is for beautiful people who practice blogging etiquette by visiting or visiting back, and leaving comments. Their observations are apt and helpful and it's a pleasure to have them comment on your posts..."

I couldn't have said it better. As anyone who owns a blog knows, the comments we receive are very important to us. They often give us inspiration and encouragement. I love writing here and I suppose I would continue even without comments but I'm not certain of that. So now I want to pass this award on to eight of my bloggy friends whose comments I look forward to daily and whose opinions and thoughts are greatly valued. Thank you all for time and energy.

Pam at Pam's Perspective

Debbie at Suburb Sanity

Bonnie K at Mama K

Please stop by and check out these very special bloggers and see why I think they are all so terrific.

And thanks, Kaye!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me?

Today is Paul's birthday! Isn't he handsome? I think he is, and I probably don't tell him often enough. And I don't tell him often enough how much I love him and how glad I am that we are together and what a great life I think we have.

Paul is an honest, hardworking man. A very experienced outdoorsman who has literally hunted from Africa to the Artic Circle, he is also a man who appreciates his home. He was a good son to his mother which I think is an indication of how a man will treat a wife. An extremely serious man, he's not always the easiest person to live with but I'm no box of chocolates to live with either so I guess we've found a balance in there somewhere. Never demanding, I could feed him a cheese sandwich for dinner and he wouldn't complain.

My husband is a rather unique person in this day and age. He says he was born about 200 years too late and he's probably right. He's not exactly a 21st century man but in most ways I think that's a good thing. He has rather old-fashioned values and can seem pretty crusty on the outside but I can tell you he can be very soft on the inside.

Like most fathers, he loves his children dearly but maybe they didn't always think so because he could be tough on them. I think that was his way of teaching them to be individuals and to stand on their own. He's done a good job of that, they are both amazing and successful people. He's a wonderful grandfather to our five grandchildren. They adore him; can't get enough of him.

Tammy has asked how Paul and I met and suggested I blog about is a rather nice story, a love story of sorts....and Tammy says everyone likes a love story so I guess today would be a good day to tell. Hang in here with me, it's long.

I have known Paul for 37 years! Amazing to realize that. When I was a junior in high school I had an afternoon job in the office of a paper company filing, preparing mailings, answering phones, etc. A few months into the job I remember when Frank, one of the warehouse men brought his son in to the office to introduce him when he began working there. You guessed it, the son was Paul. When I tell you I remember that day, remember where he stood in the office when he said hello to everyone, I am not kidding.

Paul started out working in the warehouse and by the first summer was working the inside sales desk. That summer I worked full-time so we were in fairly close proximity.

Was he a flirt!! Okay, full disclosure here....I'm was a 16-year-old kid with a steady boyfriend and Paul was a 27-year-old married man with two kids, ages 7 & 9 (hi, Pam). Don't be jumping to conclusions yet; nothing went on. BUT every Friday afternoon Paul would say "What are you doing tonight, Sandy, what time should I pick you up?" Of course, he wasn't serious, he just liked to make me giggle and blush.....both of which I did really well.

So we worked together for several months, until I graduated and started college. I don't remember too many specific conversations but I remember that Paul was the first man who talked to me like an adult even though I wasn't quite. The age difference was huge at that point but we still had things to talk about. I guess I must have talked about Paul at home because my father was not pleased that a man so many years older was paying attention to me.

I graduated, left Central Paper, married my high school sweetheart and started my life. But sometime down the road I called Central Paper to see about buying some special envelopes for the company I was working for. Guess who was still working there and now an outside sales rep? If I tell you that this was all coincidence, will you believe me? Don't, it wasn't.

So Paul made a sales call to my office and guess what? He'd never forgotten about me either. When I was in high school I collected business cards (I know, dork) and he knew it then. In the ensuing years....he had kept a file card box of business cards he collected along the way for me! Be still, my heart.

So I bought 1500 envelopes I didn't need and he made regular sales calls for a while to say hello. Also in the ensuing years he had divorced. So now I'm married and he's single. Still the age difference but less of an issue now. So still just flirting and nothing more. I was married.

Fast forward a few more years (I know this is long) and my marriage came to an end. One day on a lunch break I was walking downtown and who is coming toward me? I recognized him immediately but didn't expect he would know me. It had been 9 years since we last saw each other.

As he got along side me I said Paul......and he claims he said my name, too, but I still don't think he knew it was me. We stopped and chatted. So, there we are 14 years later and no one is married. He asked me out right on the spot. I said no....but gave him my telephone number. He called me two days later, we went out that Friday and the rest, as they say, is history!

We bought a house together about 6 months later. We talked about getting married but I said no. I knew I was there for the duration but just didn't ever want to go through another divorce and the only way to ensure that was to never marry.

Six months after moving into our house, we did get married. His daughter was engaged and I thought I might be more comfortable being more than Dad's Girlfriend, so we set a date. In the meantime, Pam postponed her wedding. We got married anyway and then Pam and Geoff were married a few months later. I was right, it was so much nicer being the bride's stepmother rather than Dad's live-in girlfriend.

So here we are, 22 years later and I can't imagine another life. With Paul came two talented, loving children, Pam & Paul, Jr., the 7- & 9-year olds I'd heard about years earlier. They both married good people from nice families and now we have five fabulous grandchildren to whom I am 'Grama Sandy.' A family I would never have had without Paul.

As Pam said in her Father's Day post, Paul is someone who lives life to the fullest, and I am so happy to be part of that. So if he asks "will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64," my answer is YES! Happy Birthday, Darling.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Go Play.....Outside!!

Do kids ever play outside anymore? I've run into three things today that got me thinking about this. Kathy B! over at The World According to Me wrote about her kids playing for 3 1/2 hours with frogs which really got me reminiscing about my own childhood.

Then there was an article in the paper about social networking and how addictive it has become for some. Kind of what I was referring to in my
post about Mouse Potatoes. And then there was another article in the paper about children's unstructured play helping to develop life skills. We all read the statistics about the increase of obesity among American kids from a general lack of exercise.

I'm a City Kid or rather, I grew up in a city. I had a bicycle which I remember riding to friends' houses within a radius of maybe 6 blocks from age 8 or so. That was back in the day when you could let your kids walk city streets without being too worried about them disappearing. For me that was mainly during the school year.

After age 5 I never spent a summer in the city. We started camping when I was about 4. Our travel trailer actually came along as part of a package deal when my grandfather bought a Buick in 1960. Imagine that? He bought a car and a 16' Shasta trailer came with it, literally attached to it! Both were used but in fine shape.

My parents and I, along with my grandparents, did a few weekend camping trips and week-long vacations for a couple years until my grandfather decided that he was going to own a campground.
At age 55 he bought 75 acres of virgin woods in Connecticut and developed a campground. He didn't 'develop' it in the sense we think of today. He took a chain saw and cut the roads, and then he dug the well. My grandfather was one cool dude.

But that's another post. My point here is that I was a city kid who lived summers in the woods. From age of 5 until 16, from the afternoon that school ended until the day before school started in September, we were at Sterling Highlands Campground. I wore no shoes the whole summer (did my feet burn that first week of school!) and played with frogs, toads, salamanders; climbed trees; built campfires; swam in ponds and generally just played outside and in the woods. We were camping; there was no inside. This whole experience certainly gave me my love of the outdoors and nature. (My idea of camping now is a 40' motorhome)

But even when I was at home in the city, we still played outside. I had some friends a couple blocks away that I used to stage "circuses" with. Cartwheels, dogs on leashes, that sort of thing. We were probably 8. We sold tickets and lemonade. Really sophisticated. At least we were being creative. Don't get me wrong, I watched television, too. But it wasn't a major part of my life like it is today with most of us.

It seems today that kids don't have as many opportunities to be creative as we did then. So much of their lives is scheduled. So much is all figured out for them. Although I do remember not so many years ago when our oldest granddaugthers, Katie & Madeleine, were visiting during the summer when they still lived in Arizona, and they put on a variety show for us in the backyard. I've got the pictures to prove it

They found a big cardboard box and cut holes in it to use as a stage. We all sat around in lawn chairs and watched as they sang and danced with brooms or whatever they found in the shed. As for unstructured play developing life skills, maybe this was the beginning of Madeleine's interest in the stage. She participates in local theater and is very talented.

I suppose things aren't going to get any better soon but I just hope kids will keep catching frogs and running around outside while they still can.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Stock Sunday

Here's our first taste of summer at the end of May. Summer here in the Northeast hasn't been anything to write home about, but we started off with a week on the gorgeous beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This year we made sure we brought our 4x4 and did some tooling along the beaches. So cool! Then just pick a spot and back into the dunes and relax. I'm not a big beach person back home but this is pretty hard to resist.

This is for a meme called
Summer Stock Sunday. If you’d like to participate, post a picture of anything that says summer to you, and link back to Around the Island so that other folks can find you. Have fun with it, and take time to visit the other blogs to see what summer looks like all over the world

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pepe Le Pew Update

I know many of you are wondering what happened to Lucy's little skunk friend. He's gone. Of his own free will.

He spent one day shut in the dog kennel so Lucy wouldn't be able to stage a Second Act. That night after the dogs were in the house, we went out and opened the door. The next day Paul was getting ready to dig the Havahart trap out of the shed, but thought he better see if Pepe Le Pew was still there first. He put on the oldest clothes he could find, a pair of gloves and rubber boots that went to his knees and went out to check. He lifted up the pallet and there he was.....Gone!

Been no sighting or smelling since!

Image from Google Images

Friday, July 17, 2009

Funny Foto Friday

Meet Pearl, our granddog. Pearl has been staying with us for the last 16 days, 15 hours, 38 wait, that doesn't sound right....we LOVE having Pearl visit. Pearl stays with us when her people travel and Lucy & Rosey stay with Pearl's people when Paul and I travel. I can only assume my two dogs disrupt their house far more than having one always-hungry pug stay with us disrupts our house.

I can tell you for certain that Pearl is missing her people. They are due home soon and I have no doubt she will be doing doggy cartwheels when they come to claim her. I think Pearl is actually growing up. She really fit in quite well this time and everyone got along well.

She didn't get to meet & greet Lucy's little skunk buddy which was a good thing. One dog in the sink being de-skunked was enough, thank-you-very-much. But, I have to say honestly, if it's not edible, Pearl's not that interested. Don't think skunk could taste very good.

So this weekend we'll be saying bye-bye to Pearl. I hope she enjoyed her visit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lucy, Don't Play With the Black & White Cat!

Real Estate in this area has really picked up, and I am very busy all of a sudden. This week I haven't been getting home until 8 p.m. after 10-hour days. No complaints! Just tired.

So when Paul called me yesterday afternoon to tell me that the mouse Lucy, the Jack Russell Terror, has been trying to dig out from under the dog-house duplex in their kennel was not a mouse at all but a little skunk, I really thought about NOT going home.

Lucy's been going nuts out there over the last few weeks digging, digging, digging and chewing the wooden pallet the dog houses sit on. We just figured it was a mouse or a chipmunk. When Paul started to pull out the old pallet to replace it with a newer, plastic one, he found a nice little nest of hay and a juvenile skunk.

Of course, Lucy was at his elbow ready to drag it out by its neck. Pepe Le Pew had other ideas. Little feet start to stamp and Lucy got a face full. Paul grabbed Lucy and headed for the house and the little bottle of Skunk Off. He called me to warn me the house and yard were still pretty stinky and Lucy was a little less stinky. He thought I might need to give her another dose of the Skunk Off when I got home.

When I opened the door at 8 p.m. it was bad. Paul was out to a town meeting and all the dogs were confined to the kitchen with the worst of the stink. How does one little animal make such a smell? What was God thinking when he created that little bugger? Well, I was much too tired to deal with it at that time so I figured maybe it would just go away overnight. Wrong!

So this morning at 5:30 a.m. I got up, went online to find that natural recipe (I don't have much faith in the Skunk Off) mixed up a batch and stuck her in the sink for a treatment. Fortunately Lucy is only 14# so she's pretty easy to control and can be bathed in the kitchen sink. After the bath, I took her outside to shake off and the little shit headed right for the kennel! Slow learner? NO, just a Jack Russell Terrier. Fortunately the door was shut and I'm assuming Pepe Le Pew was snug in his little bed out of reach.

I don't know what we're going to do. Lucy is a relentless hunter and won't quit until the skunk is gone one way or another. I think it's time for the Havahart trap and for Pepe to be relocated. That's going to be an adventure.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the recipe for the natural stink remover. We've used it on Rosey, too, and it works pretty well. Better than the store-bought stuff if you ask me. Here it is:

In a bucket, mix:

1 quart of FRESH hydrogen peroxide (available at your local drugstore or grocery store in the health care aisle)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap

The mixture will bubble. Thoroughly wet the victim in this mixture, taking care to keep it out of the eyes. Be Careful! Peroxide burns terribly if you get it into the dog's eyes. Wash the dog with the mixture as if it were shampoo while it is bubbling. Leave it on for 5 minutes. Rinse the dog and repeat. Be careful not to contaminate the rinse water.

The soap breaks down the oil in which the odor is suspended, and the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda neutralize the scent. Do not premix the solution or store this potion in a bottle (the bubbling would cause it to explode).

Hopefully you'll never need it!

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Food for Thought--Tomato Pie

Today's Food for Thought is provided by guest blogger Ella of Jar Jam Boogie

She wrote.....

Tomato Pie
From More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

Here's a great summer recipe that uses up your bumper crop of tomatoes. This is how it appears in the book, followed by my notes on what I do differently.

For the Crust:

2 c all purpose flour
1 stick cold butter
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 c milk or buttermilk or a combo of the 2

Combine baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives or your fingers till mixture resembles oatmeal. Add milk and mix just till it holds together, turn onto floured board and knead a few times, but don't overwork. Divide dough in half. Roll one half and line a 9" pie plate with it.

Add 2 lbs peeled fresh tomatoes (about 6 or so large tomatoes) or a 28 oz can and a 12 oz can well drained canned tomatoes and scatter over the top:

chopped fresh basil or chives or scallions (amount to taste)
1 and 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese

Drizzle with 1/3 c mayonnaise that's been thinned with a little lemon juice

Roll out remaining dough and cover pie, seal edges and crimp, cut a few steam vents and bake at 400 for 25-35 minutes till bubbly.

Cool slightly and serve hot, warm or at room temp.

Ella says:

What I do differently:

Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 Tablespoons sugar to the dough.
Use basil AND scallions or oregano or whatever I have on hand. You can use dried herbs, but it is NOT the same.
Sprinkle the tomatoes, if they're fresh, with a little sugar.
Add 1/4 c finely chopped red onion.

Put a layer of cheese down on the bottom first on the dough before the tomatoes (I used brie once on the bottom and cheddar on the top and it was heavenly). Then the tomatoes, basil and remaining cheese. I've skipped the mayo and don't notice it's absence.

It really is so fabulous hot out of the oven when the crust is not soggy and the cheese melted, but it's great even the next day zapped in the microwave. Store any leftovers in the 'fridge. Drain any juices in the pan before I put it away.

I would seriously recommend this author to you. Her fiction is OK, but the two collections of food essays are wonderful reading. They are Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. Check 'em out.

Sandy says:

Thanks, Ella! I'm not much of a pastry cook so I might use store-bought crust but I might try making a pie crust again for this recipe. It sounds fabulous!

Image from Google Images

Monday, July 13, 2009

Adventures in Florence

I thought by now most everyone would be tired of my travelog but I got such nice comments on my Adventures in Venice post....You like me, really like me.......that I thought for the next two Mondays I'd continue posting photos from other cities visited in Italy.

So today class we are going to talk about Florence. Of all the cities I have visited in Italy, I liked Florence the best and would opt to return there first. It's a very easy city to get around, not confusing like Rome and Venice. Located in the region of Tuscany, Florence is on the Arno River and is thought of as the heart of the Renaissance. The architecture is beautiful and there are so many galleries and museums I don't think you could ever see them all.

The Arno River has six bridges, the oldest of which is the Ponte Vecchio, shown above. Originally lined with fishmongers, butchers and tanners, the shops were later occupied by goldsmiths and jewelers. Anyone who knows me can tell you I've been in a few jewelry stores in my life. Well, I have NEVER seen as much jewelry as I did in these shops on the Ponte Vecchio. These little shuttered shops you see above hold some of the most amazing displays I have ever seen.

The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood a tremendous flood of the Arno which damaged many buildings.

This is the monument to Benvenuto Cellini, the most famous Florentine goldsmith. When I was there in 2005 the fences around the Cellini Monument were full of padlocks with indelible writings, hung up by lovers who believe that it is a symbol of an indissoluble relationship; the keys to these padlocks are then symbolically thrown into the Arno River, where nobody can ever retrieve them. When I returned in 2007, all the padlocks were gone and there was a sign saying anyone caught attaching a padlock to the fence would be fined.

Most photos of the skyline of Florence include Il Duomo an incredibly beautiful cathedral that is covered in red, white and green marble. Begun in 1296 and finally consecreated in 1436 it has an enourmous octagonal dome that was the largest in the world when it was built.

An amazing view that pops into sight as you turn a corner in the city.

The interior of the Filippo Brunelleschi's dome.

The color and detail of the marble on the Duomo are exquisite.

Here's my real Adventure in Florence, the handsome Italian I brought home with me

Friday, July 10, 2009

Funny Foto Friday

When in Rome Do As The Romans.......right? Well, When in Portugal, Eat as the Portuguese. And that means eat FISH FISH FISH. I was told by a few Portuguese friends that I must try grilled sardines when there. I like fish, I like to try local cuisine so when we found an outdoor restaurant in the town of Faro in the Algarve where they were grilling sardines on a big grill made out of barrels, we were in!

Never mind the look on my face, look at my plate! I did a pretty good job on them.

Poor little fishy.

Here's Pam finishing up leftovers!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Super Snoop Reporting for Duty

I did it again....found someone I wasn't exactly looking for. I think in my next career I'm going to be a Private Investigator. Of course the Internet makes it a whole lot easier than ever before to find people, but you still have to know where to look. I like it because I don't even have to leave my chair. I often say that I can find someone, their relative or at least find something about them, like their age, in less than 3 minutes. This all ties in with my thoughts about how it's a Small World.

I was reading the death notices in the paper today and saw a woman whose maiden name was very familiar. I didn't know the deceased but I recognized the first names of her two younger sisters. One was a classmate of an old friend of mine that I dated in high school. In fact, we had double-dated (geez, how old am I?) a few times and I knew that sister's ex-husband. He had married, had a child with and then divorced a woman who used to live next door to Paul and me 15 years ago. Got all that? I didn't think so.

Doesn't matter. It's just how my mind works. So now I've got the current name of this girl I knew in high school and the town she lives in. With a few more clicks of the mouse through several websites I use all the time in real estate, I have her address, her current husband's name and age and a picture of her house online. I don't really care, don't plan to do anything with the info, just wanted to see what I could find. I found a lot.

Okay, so maybe I'm just nosy? But if you're looking for someone, you know who to call.

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Food for Thought--Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

Now that all our gardens are bursting with fresh tomatoes and basil (that's about all I plant) I'll be looking around for new ways to use them. My absolutely favorite way to enjoy tomatoes and basil is a basic Caprese Salad which is simply fresh mozzarella, basil tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I could literally eat that three times a day and have. In the hotels in Italy that feature buffet breakfasts there's always fresh mozzarella & tomatoes available, and I seriously had them for breakfast several times when I was there.

Today's recipe is simple but a bit elegant. It smells wonderful while cooking and keeps the heat in the kitchen down to a minimum. It also goes together in less than 30 minutes.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

2 tsp olive oil
Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1# medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped plum tomato or whatever you have growing
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tbls capers, drained (optional, I don't always use them)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper or to your taste
4 cups hot cooked angel hair pasta (about 8 oz. uncooked)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add shrimp; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato and basil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until tomato is tender. Stir in kalamata olives, capers, and black pepper. Combine shrimp mixture and pasta in a large bowl; toss well. Top with cheese.

Serves 4 Enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures in Venice

In 2007 I went back to Italy for two weeks but this time with Paul and my cousins, Don and Chris. We flew first to Venice and then traveled south. I had been to Venice once before but for a very short time. I had been reading about the city since my first visit and was very anxious to go back and see more.

This is Paul at one spot where you can access a gondola on a back canal. The flowers all over the city were lovely.

A fascinating and enchanting city, Venice can also be a maddening place to try to get around. As you probably know, the streets of Venice are mostly canals. In fact, there are no wheeled vehicles of any sort in the city. You walk or take a water taxi or water bus to get around. And it can be very confusing with its maze of streets and web of canals and lots of dead-ends. Even with a map, it's a difficult place to navigate. And good luck asking a Venetian for directions!

This is the Grand Canal and truly the Main Street of Venice. This might have been taken while standing on the Rialto Bridge.

No visit to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride, despite the price. These photos were taken from the boat as we glided through the back streets of this unique and romantic city.

Balconies were full of flowers AND hanging laundry in many cases.

You see boats of all kinds tied up to the buildings. They are the only method of transportation other than walking. And, of course, commerce moves on the water as well. Monday morning when we left, there were all sorts of work boats and delivery boats navigating the canals along with the taxis and personal watercraft.

See the flowers. And the crowds! We stayed right in the city which is the only way to really get a feel for Venice. Most tourists come into the city for the day and then leave in late afternoon on the Vaporetta (water bus).

In the gondola on The Grand Canal. That's the Rialto Bridge straight ahead.

This is taken from the Campanile or bell tower which is the tallest structure in Venice. The current tower is a 20th century recreation of the 8th century original which collapsed without warning into a pile of bricks in 1902.

And here we are leaving the city in a private water taxi taking us to the train station for points south. Venice is truly an enchanting place. You have to see it to really understand it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I know You Are But What Am I?

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Will Never Hurt Me.

Main Entry: mouse potato
Function: noun
Etymology: after couch potato
Date: 1993
slang : a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer

What's a mouse potato? The computer-age version of a couch potato—someone who spends hour after hour of leisure time in front of a computer screen.

Who you calling a Mouse Potato?!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Highbush Cranberry---July

My intentions were to shoot a new photo on the first of every month beginning in June but as you may know Mother Nature has not been very kind to us here in the Northeast this last month. July 1st was a rainy, nasty day; as was July 2nd and July 3rd. So, today, July 4th is not only Independence Day it is also a Chamber of Commerce weather day!

So here is what our Highbush Cranberry is looking like today, July 4th, as Lucy and I scope it out. The flowers were gone soon after the photo at the beginning of June and we now have lovely green berries as the picture below shows.

Happy Birthday America!

In a July 3, 1776, letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote: "...I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever."

Sounds like good advice to me. I hope everyone will find a minute this weekend to stop and think how fortunate we are to live in this great country. And please say a prayer for the men and women who are away from their families and homes defending us all.

Happy 233rd Birthday America!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Funny Foto Friday

Earlier this week I posted some pictures from my first trip to Italy. These are silly pictures from a trip in 2007 with my cousin Don and his wife, Chris. If Don sees these pictures here, he'll probably kill me. Too bad.

This was in St. Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City. I've heard of kissing rings but not toes.

Look who thinks he's Hercules. This is in Pompei.

In your dreams, Don. This little beauty was parked outside the restaurant we were having lunch in that day in Rome.

Oops, looks like somebody dropped something. That's Don and Paul. Must have been green-shorts-and-tan-shirt day.

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