Saturday, August 18, 2012

On the Table

     From early spring 1996 until the summer of 1999, I wrote a food column called "On the Table" for The Daily News where I work.
     When the company sold in 1999, my job duties changed and the column was dropped. Over the years, I've written a few food features and thoroughly enjoyed them. Links to one on Juicing and one on Essential Oils are in other posts on my blog.
     Anyway, awhile back, the newspaper's This Day editor asked me if I'd like to write the column again. What? Of course! My first new column ran Aug. 1. They will appear on tdn.com and in The Daily News every other week. :-) Am I excited? You bet!
     The first one was on sandwiches and the second was on tomatoes.
     Here are links to them:

http://tdn.com/lifestyles/on-the-table-sandwiches-that-satisfy/article_b5ea6e10-db72-11e1-ba42-001a4bcf887a.html

http://tdn.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/on-the-table-taming-the-tomato/article_7d0c4398-e65d-11e1-93e8-001a4bcf887a.html







     And since then, I've written several more. Simply visit tdn.com and in the upper right-hand corner, search for Nancy Edwards and they should pop up.
     The features I am most proud of are the ones on essential oils and the 2011 Halloween package.
     Please note, visitors to the site are limited to viewing 10 pages per month before being asked to pay a monthly fee. 
    

Creamy Grilled Chicken Garlic Pasta

     Hi. My name is Nancy and I'm an addict.
     A Pinterest addict, that is.
      I love, love, love Pinterest and could spend an entire day perusing boards and pinning, pinning, pinning. But I don't, except on weekends and today is no exception. I've neglected my farm on Farmville; my trail has dead-ended on Pioneer Trail; my castle is falling apart on Castleville; my home on The Ville needs some TLC; Bingo, Slingo, Bubble Safari, calamari. Oh, wait. Calamari has nothing to do with anything.
     Enough of that. Back to Pinterest.
     This morning I discovered a recipe for Creamy Garlic Pasta from The Cheese Pusher and decided to try it out. I didn't have the exact ingredients the recipe called for, so I modified it and OMG, it is so yummy. Hubby said it was amazing. 
     Before I get into the recipe, here's a photo.


Creamy Grilled Chicken Garlic Pasta












     Doesn't that look good? Of course, it does.
     Here is the original recipe before I modified it.

Creamy Garlic Pasta
     2 tablespoons olive oil
     4 cloves garlic, minced
     2 tablespoons butter
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/2 teaspoon pepper
     3 cups chicken stock
     1/2 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
     1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
     3/4 cup heavy cream
     2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

     In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
     Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the package directions indicate. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in the Parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Serve immediately.


My favorite.
     OK. I didn't have fresh garlic so I used Kirkland's Signature brand Granulated California Garlic as shown here. It's made from 100 percent California grown garlic that has been dehydrated and milled to size. I buy it at Costco and absolutely love it.
     I sprinkled 2 tablespoons of the garlic into the olive oil in a large no-stick frying pan. That's right ... frying pan - one with at least four inch sides. I stirred it until all the powder was mixed in with the oil. Then I added the butter, Mediterranean sea salt and fresh ground five pepper blend.
     I only had one can of chicken broth, which equaled two cups, so I added one cup of filtered water. I did not raise the heat to high, but to medium-medium high (hot enough to bring it to a boil).
     I had some leftover grilled chicken breasts so I cut them into chunks and added them to the liquid mixture. Once it was heated through, I tasted it and, because I love garlic, added a couple shakes more. When the mixture started to boil, I added the pasta. The pan was wide enough to lay it all in perfectly in the liquid.
     I put the lid on the pan and let the pasta cook. When it was done, rather than turn down the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, I removed the pan from the heat and added the cheese, stirring until it was completely melted. I didn't have any heavy cream, so I used half and half.
     We love pepper, too, so upon serving, hubby and I each added fresh ground pepper.
     The next time I make this, I'm going to add some Cajun seasoning. The flavor reminds me of the Cajun Chicken Pasta made at Red Lobster. Heck, you could use shrimp, grilled salmon, even bacon in this creamy pasta.
     Don't be afraid to make your own modifications when it comes to seasonings.
     Enjoy!





Monday, July 16, 2012

Making jewelry

     For years I've been wanting to try my hand at making jewelry. Whenever  I found a piece of jewelry I liked in a magazine or catalog, I clipped it and taped it in a spiral notebook. The notebook is full, but ... no jewelry was made. I was intimidated.
     To get over my intimidation, I chose to join a bead of the month club - Simply Beads. Each month I get a kit complete with everything I need to make that month's choices. I had six of the kits sitting on the desk in one of the bedrooms we turned into a home office. A few weeks ago I decided to "bite the bullet" and made my first necklace and earrings. I chose the kit I thought would be the easiest. It took me what seemed like hours, but I finished it ... and here it is.


I was so proud when I finished this. :-)


     The other day, Steve and I stopped at Michael's because I wanted to get some stretchy string to re-string a bracelet I got from a dear friend, Valerie Footh, at a garage sale we had together a few years back. I'm not sure what happened, but the stretchy string got way out of shape - almost as if someone had placed it around a big bottle and left it. 
     Anyway, while we were there, Steve found some orange "rocks" he liked for me to make a bracelet with ... and then I thought, hey, I should replace the silver beads on a necklace I got from Valerie at our garage sale. The beads kind of bit the dust, but I took the clasp off the necklace, took the beads off and saved the chain and clasp. Bought some beads, but now can't find the necklace. I put it somewhere safe. LOL So safe, I guess, that I can't remember where I put it. Sheesh!
     So ... here's the orange bracelet. I had three stones left over, so I made a pair of earrings and with the third stone, I am going to make a necklace. I will need to buy some more baubles to go with it, but that's OK, too. Oh, and the brown earrings were made at the same time I made the necklace and earrings above.


I know, they don't look like much, but they are a big deal to me.
     I really like this pretty little turquoise and silver necklace and earrings. I had some beads left over from making the necklace, so I made a stretchy bracelet. I love the stretchy bracelets. No hassles with trying to clasp them together one handed. Just stretch and slip it over the hand.


This is my 'little precious.' :-)
    And while we were at Michael's, I found a lovely heart-shaped stone and a little silver chain, so I put the two together and voila, a necklace for under 10 bucks. Can't beat that. 
      I've never really been much of a  jewelry person. 
     Oh, sure, when I was younger, I wore inexpensive rings, necklaces and earrings. When I got my ears pierced, I invested in a pair of sterling silver earrings. When my friend, Deanna, and I went to Reno and Lake Tahoe, I won some money on a slot machine and promptly went downstairs in the MGM Grand and bought myself my first piece of "real" jewelry - a 14 karat gold opal ring. Simple design. I loved that ring. Then for Christmas one year, I received an emerald ring - beautiful. After that, I bought myself a pearl and ruby ring. And one year my hubby bought me a gold necklace with a gold heart and a diamond in it.
     Then, one time when the girls were young, we spent a week at the Shilo Inn at Seaside, Ore. On the last night we were there, someone broke into our room and stole all my jewelry except what I had on. Mind you, I only had the three rings, a couple of bracelets and a couple of necklaces that I kept in one of those roll-up jewelry bags. I didn't think it was safe to keep it in one of the drawers, so I put the bag in my purse and hid my purse - I didn't want to take it to dinner with us - on the top shelf of the closet behind a bunch of other stuff.
     When we were coming back to the room, we saw a guy with a black bag come out of the hallway that led to our room at the end. It was a special occasion and we rented a king-size suite with an ocean view. The guy was in a hurry and he darted into the laundry room. At the time, we didn't think too much of it. Later that night, we heard someone turning the knob on the door. Again, didn't think too much of it. Maybe a kid checking to see if any doors were unlocked. 
     The next morning after we got ready to go, when I went to get my purse, it was gone. We told the hotel management, but you know how that goes. It's not their responsibility. We called the police. They took our info and we headed home to start making phone calls to cancel our credit cards.
  All the way home, Stephanie and Nicole played detective, tracing back our steps, who we talked to, etc. We figured there was a family working together. Two youngsters befriended Stephanie and Nicole and invited them to go swimming with them that night. We said, sure, that while they were swimming, we'd have a drink and listen to the music and come get them at a certain time. I think we went to the pool to get them probably a little earlier than we'd said, which was why we saw the guy with the black bag.
     Before we got home, a credit card had been used at the Red Lion in Astoria and another one had been used at a department-type store. Fortunately, we reported the cards missing right away and were not held liable for any of the charges.
     Several days later, we get a phone call. My purse was found in the dumpster behind the hotel. We went to pick it up. Everything was there except my wallet and my jewelry. And in the wallet were some photos of my parents that were irreplaceable - or so I thought until many years later, my aunt found them and sent me copies.
    We never again stayed at the Shilo at Seaside and that's when I decided not to buy any more  jewelry. I pretty much quit wearing anything except earrings for a very long time. Only recently have I started wearing necklaces again. I don't wear rings, not even my wedding ring. Didn't want to take the chance of it getting stolen. It's such a horrible feeling to know someone rifled through your belongings. 
     Anyway ... enough of that. 
     I am happy to report my interest in jewelry has come back to life!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lazy Sunday

     Sunday.
     The day of rest. 
     We try not to work on Sundays, whether it's housework or yard work - but sometimes that's impossible. Especially when outside work needs to be scheduled around the weather forecast. We've been blessed - for at least the past nine days - with sunny and dry weather here in the Pacific Northwest.
     And, I have been on vacation. It's been wonderful. Hubby and I have spent a ton of hours in the yard working. We have a half-acre to keep "clean." Over the wet spring, we let the back third get overgrown. Not on purpose, mind you. We learned a valuable lesson. If it's sunny for even one day, make sure to mow because the next day - or days - it will rain. It doesn't take very many days of a little sun and a lot of rain for the grass to become three feet tall. No joke. See the photo below.
     Steve normally mows the yard in thirds - the front, the middle part of the back yard and then the lower part of the back yard. He got the front and the middle part of the back in order one day, then decided to do the lower part the next day. But it rained. A lot. When the sun finally came out, the ground was too wet and our Craftsman riding lawn mower is not four-wheel drive. Perhaps when we need to buy a new riding mower, it will be four-wheel drive. Hint. Hint.


I need a haircut.
     Keep in mind, too, that this "little" area is about 75 feet by 75 feet. Steve used the weed-eater to forge a path to the apple trees and blackberry bushes. He forged a path on the right, also, so we could haul grass clippings, weeds, etc., to the spot at the back of the property. Steve thought he could cut the grass with the weed eater, but, he would have been working all summer long. He looked into renting one of those DR trimmer thingies. That was going to cost at least $100 for four hours, although the guy at the rental place suggested picking the machine up on a Friday night, that way it didn't need to be returned until Monday so we'd have it the entire weekend. The downside? The cutting path of the machine was pretty dinky. In other words, it probably would have taken more than the entire weekend.
     We decided to call a former co-worker of mine. Many, many years ago - like more than 15 - Ed cleared off some of the land for us. A quick phone call on a Saturday morning and Ed was here bright and early Monday with his beautiful four-wheel drive Kubota.

See Ed work. :-)
     A little over a half-hour later, Ed was done. He also pushed two apple trees that had fallen over during a recent windstorm down to the back of the property where Steve could cut them. Thank you, Ed!
   So, here's what it looked like after he was done. Lots of long grass laying around in clumps that needed raking. 

Kitty likes the long grass. He's hunting field mice.
     We spent the good part of two 80-degree days, raking and raking and raking and mowing and mowing and mowing - and numerous beverage breaks - until finally, it looks like this.



     And this morning, we woke up to sprinkles and some much-needed rain to help the dry, brown grass become green again. 
     We haven't been working the entire time I've been off work. We've eaten meals on the patio, visited with family and friends, cooked steaks and potatoes on the barbecue, grilled hot dogs and fish on the barbie, napped on the patio and enjoyed fires in the Chimenea in the evenings. Love those fires ... the smell of wood burning and seeing the stars sparkle in the night sky.
     I spent one entire day reading magazines, some dating back two years. Some were dated 2000. Sheesh! What was I thinking? Oh, yeah, I had folded the pages of "stuff" I wanted to save, then stacked the magazines in baskets, boxes and book shelves. One day I will get to them I kept telling myself. And ... that one day arrived. Although I didn't get to all of them.
     I clipped and saved numerous recipes, craft project ideas, gardening ideas, ideas for the house, hints and tips, paint colors and more. You name it, I probably clipped it. But ... I didn't organize any of it. I just dropped it all into a big box. Hmmm. What good is that? Oh, yeah, it takes up less space than the magazines. Basically, I took one mess and made it a smaller mess.


Please buy me.
     I am convinced I need one of those NeatDesk Organizers. You know, that "powerful ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) scanner and organizer that transforms piles of paper in your home or office into neat digital files on your computer."
     NeatDesk includes patented Neat software "to identify and extract key information from receipts, business cards and documents - then organizes it in a digital filing cabinet. All scanned documents can be searched by keyword, so you can find exactly what you need in seconds. It's like having your own personal office assistant," so says the NeatDesk website.
     Oh, yeah ... that's for me.
     There's just one teensy, weensy problem. The machine costs $399.99.
     A girl can dream.
     Both Steve and I still have many, many magazines tucked away, but inch by inch, anything's a cinch.


     OK then, enough of that babble. I shall end this post with one recipe I found in the May 2011 issue of "Food Network Magazine." It's for a French Fry Deluxe salad.
     I know what you're thinking. Who puts French fries in a salad? Well, don't knock it until you've tried it.


FRENCH FRY DELUXE SALAD
     3 cups frozen curly French fries (about 9 ounces)
     4 strips bacon
     1 tablespoon yellow mustard (We prefer horseradish mustard with seeds)
     3 tablespoons chopped dill pickle, plus a splash of pickle juice from the jar
     1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup (look for some with no high fructose corn syrup - we buy Hunt's)
     3 tablespoons mayonnaise (look for some with no high fructose corn syrup - we get ours a Winco, their HyTop brand)
     1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
     1/4 teaspoon sugar
     2 tablespoons water
     1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (I prefer Mediterranean Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink salt crystals)
     1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
     1/4 to 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
     2 romaine hearts, torn up
     1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
     Toasted sesame seeds, for topping (optional)
     Bake the French fries as the label directs until crisp. Let cool.
     Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 4 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Cool slightly, then break the bacon into pieces.
     Make the dressing. Whisk the mustard, pickle, pickle juice, ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and water in a large bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
     Add the French fries, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, romaine and Cheddar cheese to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Divide the salad among bowls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
     Enjoy!
     
French Fry Deluxe Salad courtesy of Food Network Magazine



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Relaxing 4th of July

     So, here it is, July 4, 2012, and I'm sitting on the patio, enjoying the back yard.
     First thing this a.m., hubby Steve and I got out our chairs and sat in the grass enjoying our morning coffee. I splurged this morning and made myself a Salted Caramel Macchiato. Maybe not as good as the ones you can get at Starbucks or ZoJo's downtown, but still quite tasty. The grass needs to be mowed and the long, cool blades tickled my bare feet. We chatted about the ideas we have for the different decks we'd like to build in the yard and enjoyed the 62 degree temperature. We noted how thankful we are to be living in the Pacific Northwest. So many people in other states are suffering heat waves, flash floods and fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
     After an hour or so, we went inside and I made a hearty breakfast. A few hours later, here I am. It's now 80 degrees, but I am comfy under the shade of the umbrella over the table on the patio.
     I am trying to catch up on some magazine reading. My first choice is the Spring 2012 issue of "The Herb Quarterly." I'm only on Page 17, but decided to share some of the natural skin toner recipes from an article written by Janice Cox. She is the author of "Natural Beauty at Home." For more on her, visit her website JaniceCox.com.
     Janice notes that toners play an important role in a natural skin-care routine. "They clean the surface of the face and help remove impurities and dead cells, they tighten pores, and they restore the skin's natural pH levels."
   They do their best work when applied after you wash your face, but before you apply moisturizer, she writes. And why, you might ask? Her reply: "Because the cleaner the surface of your skin, the more efficiently it absorbs and retains hydration."
    The best toner is pure, cool water. Witch hazel is another gentle and effective astringent that tightens the skin. According to Janice, other popular natural toners include green tea, apple juice and diluted lemon juice.
    For people with sensitive skin or dry skin, she suggests limiting the use of commercial-brand astringents or dilute them with water.
    Now, on to her recipes. 
    The first one is for a Honey Toner. She notes that honey "is a known skin healer and softener." She suggests if you have a breakout, that you put a small dab of honey on it in the evening to help it heal. Good to know.


Honey Toner
     1 tablespoon honey
     1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
     3 tablespoons witch hazel


     Mix all ingredients and stir well. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad after cleansing. This toner may feel a bit sticky at first, but the stickiness tends to disappear the longer the solution sits. At first you might want to splash a bit of cold water on your face after using.
     Yield: 2 ounces


     Janice writes that fresh cucumber juice is a natural astringent that all skin types can use. Cucumber also can be used in a mild tonic for sunburned skin. She advises that this mixture be stored in the refrigerator between uses because cucumber juice spoils easily.


 Cooling Cucumber Tonic
     1/4 cup fresh cucumber juice (chop one cucumber, including the peel and process in the blender; strain off the solids before using)
     2 tablespoons witch hazel
     2 tablespoons water


     Mix all ingredients. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a clean cotton pad after cleansing.
     Yield: 4 ounces


     I found the following recipe from the www.bakespace.com website:


Cucumber Oatmeal Sunburn Therapy
     1 cup cucumber
     4 cups oatmeal
     2 tablespoons rosemary


     In a blender, puree the cucumber well.
     Remove pulp from blender and place in a large mixing bowl.
     Add remaining ingredients and stir well; mixture will be dry and lumpy.
     While running bath water, add the oatmeal blend under the water faucet.
     Allow the mixture to blend in with the bath water, then settle in for a relaxing soak.


     I haven't tried the Cucumber Oatmeal Sunburn Therapy and it sounds like it would make a mess in the tub that would be hard to clean up. I bet you could get the same result by wrapping the mixture in cheesecloth, then attach that to the faucet and let the water run over it.


     OK ... back to Janice Cox's toner recipes.


     This recipe uses strawberry leaves. Janice notes the leaves are often overlooked and they contain "four more times Vitamin C than oranges. Wow! That's amazing.
     She says the powerful antioxidant benefits skin by keeping it clean and clear. The leaves dry easily, so you can keep them and use them year-round.


Strawberry-Leaf Toner
     2 tablespoons tried strawberry leaves or 1/3 cup fresh leaves
     1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
     1/4 cup water


     Place the leaves and vinegar in a glass or ceramic container and let sit overnight. Strain the mixture and discard any solids. Add the water and stir well.
     To use: Apply to your skin with a clean cotton pad after cleansing. If you feel the solution is too strong for your complexion, add more water.
     Yield: 4 ounces


     Lavender oil made from fresh flowers is a well-known antiseptic and calming ingredient. I wrote a story for the newspaper where I work on essential oils and included information on lavender oil in it. Check out the links I have here on my blog if you'd like to read more about essential oils and lavender. It will be well worth your time ... I guarantee it. :-)


Lavender Skin Freshener
     3 tablespoons water
     2 tablespoons witch hazel
     2-3 drops essential oil of lavender
     1/2 teaspoon honey


     Mix all ingredients and stir well. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to your face using a clean cotton pad or spray and splash onto your skin after bathing.
     Yield: 2 ounces


     This last recipe is made with chamomile. Chamomile flowers soothe inflamed skin and help stop dehydration. Janice notes "In this recipe, you can use dried flowers from your garden or tea made from 100 percent chamomile flowers."


Chamomile Skin Freshener
     2 chamomile tea bags or 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
     1 cup boiling water


     Pour the boiling water over the dried chamomile and let the mixture steep and cool. Strain the solution and pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad after cleansing or pour into a small spray bottle and spritz onto the skin.
   Yield: 8 ounces

   I hope you find these recipes useful.





     

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kate Upton's Carl's Jr. commercial

     Over this past weekend, hubby Steve showed me Kate Upton’s commercial on the Southwest Patty Melt for the fast food joint Carl’s Jr.
     Wow! Talk about sexy.
     A classic patty melt not only got a whole lot hotter, but a WHOLE LOT sexier.
     Steve’s response after seeing the commercial: “I LIKE IT.” And, “I WANT ONE.”
     “The girl or the burger”?I asked.
      “The burger, of course,” he said.
     “Yeah, right,” I responded.
     Yesterday,  Steve calls me at work.
     “I told my brother about the Carl’s Jr. commercial,” he said. “And he watched it.”
     “And, what was his response?” I asked
     He wants to drive to Vancouver and get one, Steve said.
     Vancouver is about 45 minutes away from where we live.
     Obviously, the commercial worked. J
     So, Steve, his brother and sister-in-law head to the nearest Carl’s Jr.
     And the verdict?
     The patty melt is not quite as sizzling as the commercial.
     Steve said it was good … and different, but he prefers his standard Burger King Whopper.
     In the meantime, he brought one of the patty melts home to me.
     And my verdict?
     One bite and the next thing I knew, I was mimicking Kate Upton.
     Just kidding!
     Oh … I found the burger to be rather dry. It needed more “melt.” And the jalapenos were mighty hot.
     For those of you who haven’t seen the commercial, here it is.
     Enjoy!
           

Words that make me think of songs


Is it just me or do songs play in your head when you hear certain words?

The other night I woke up to the rain tapping on the skylight and suddenly “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbit was in my mind, specifically the chorus:
“Well I love a rainy night
It’s such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain
On my face
Taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadow.”

The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Hot Country Singles and the Adult Contemporary Singles charts in 1981.
Impressive!
So much so that I did a little research on Edward Thomas Rabbit who was born Nov. 27, 1941, and died May 7, 1998, from lung cancer.
He grew up in New Jersey and moved to Nashville in the late 1960s.   He started his career as a songwriter and moved on to a recording career after penning hits such as “Kentucky Rain” – love that song – for Elvis Presley in 1969 or 1970 and “Pure Love” for Ronnie Milsap in 1974. Rabbit  wrote that one while eating Cap’n Crunch cereal!  And that was the song that led to a contract offer from Elektra Records.
Later that decade, he helped develop the crossover-influenced sound of country music prevalent in the 1980s with hits such as “Suspicions” and “Every Which Way But Loose.”
The duet “Friends and Lovers” with Juice Newton became the theme song for the super-couple Shane Donovan and Kimberly Brady on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
I didn’t watch that show, but many people did and I’m sure remember them very well.
Shane was portrayed by Charles Shaughnessy - I do remember him and thought he was so cute - and Kimberly was portrayed by Patsy Pease.
The duet “You and I” with Crystal Gayle was the wedding theme song for Natalie Marlowe and Trevor Dillon on "All My Children." Natalie was played by Kate Collins from 1985 to 1992 and by Melody Anderson from 1992 to 1993. David Jordan played Trevor in 1989 and James Kibberd played him from 1989 to 2000.
I watched “All My Children,” but I don’t remember Natalie and Trevor. My bad!
Back to Eddie Rabbit … seems I’m getting a bit carried away here.
His first single under the Elektra label, “You Get To Me,” made the top 40 in 1975. In 1978, “Forgive and Forget” and “I Should Have Married You” nearly made the Top 10.
After his infant son died in 1985, he put his career on hold. He returned to the music scene in 1988. In 1997, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and after a round of chemotherapy, he released the album “Beating’ the Odds.” In 1998, he released his final studio album, “Songs from Rabbitland.” He described it as “17 songs, jokes and stories I wrote for my kids as they were growing up.”
Throughout his career, Eddie Rabbit wound up having 26 number one country hits and eight Top 40 pop hits.
He also won numerous awards including the Academy of Country Music Top New Male Vocalist in 1977, the Music City News Country Songwriter of the Year in 1979, the BMI Song of the Year for “Suspicion” in 1980, the BMI Two Million-Air Award for “Kentucky Rain” in 1994, and the BMI Three Million-Air Award for “I Love a Rainy Night” in 1996.

My friend Deanna and I saw Eddie Rabbit in Reno with Charo (cuchi-cuchi) back around 1978, if memory serves me right.  It was a great performance and we had a wonderful few days of vacation. My first real vacation without my parents. We even spent some time at Lake Tahoe. I remember the water being so very crystal clear.

Anyway ... back to the songs popping into my head. 
When I  blogged about it being wet, cold and windy, guess what song came to mind? Yep, that’s right. It was “Windy” by the Association.
“And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (above the clouds)”

And then, awhile back, we had a light dusting of snow overnight. The roads had been wet and, naturally, froze, so when I pulled out of the driveway, I felt the slipperyness - is that even a word? - on the road and the next thing I knew the Paul Simon song "Slip Sliding Away" was going through my head.
The parking lot at work was a sheet of ice. Too bad I didn’t have a rig I could’ve "cut some cookies" in and had a little fun. J
            I know the words to the song don’t have anything to do with sliding on the road, but … it still popped into my head.

   “Slip sliding away, slip sliding away … You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.”
            Well, I guess I could say the nearer I got to work going down the hill, the more slip sliding I did, which was kinda true. Who cares? Doesn’t matter. The words pop in and the words pop out for no reasonable explanation!
            I could go on and on and on, but ... enough is enough.
            Have a great day!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Wet, windy and cold


My drive to work this a.m.  was wet, windy and cold – 39 degrees worth of cold. Thank goodness I was in my toasty car and not walking. I was nearly blown over when I got out of the car and trekked across the parking lot into the building where I work.
            The howling wind woke us several times during the night. A quick check of the forecast  by Steve this morning showed the winds were 24 miles per hour. I think they were higher, but that’s just me.
A friend posted on her Facebook page that on their way home from the gym a tree was down on their road. They had to drag all the branches and the tree out of the driveway just to make it back to the house.

Outside the Heathman Lodge

This nasty weather makes me wish I were at The Heathman Lodge, one of our favorite places to stay. The fabulous lodge is only 45 minutes away. It is next to a freeway and a shopping mall, but surrounded by trees, so when the leaves have fully come out, you don’t see the freeway or hear the noise of cars barreling down it.
The lodge was built from woods of the Northwest forests and basalt from the ancient volcanic flows of the Columbia River Gorge. It was designed to express the “beauty and spirit of the Pacific Northwest,” bringing the splendor of the outdoors to the city, according to its website.
 And it’s true!
One step into the lobby and you feel as if you’ve been transported  to a ski lodge on a mountain top. The ambience is fabulous! The paintings, carvings, textiles and sculptures are gorgeous.

Whenever we can afford to, we like to spend a night or two at the lodge and enjoy the amenities. Well, most of them, that is. We say we will slip into the pool and spa or check out the health and fitness center, but because the room is so comfortable, we wind up in the room for hours at a time listening to music, reading, sitting on the private deck, enjoying the jetted tub and the electric fireplace, ordering room service.

One of the suites

We certainly enjoy drinks by the fireplace with soft piano music in the background or when it’s sunny and warm, sitting by the outdoor koi pond.
Of course there is world-class dining in the Hudson’s  Bar and Grill. Award-winning chef Ray Delgado designed the menu chock full of Northwest cuisine.
Close your eyes and imagine eating a Pepper Crusted New York Steak with red potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a brandy cream sauce. Or  the Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns cooked in garlic, red chilies, fennel, white wine, butter and lemon. Or the Hudson’s Meatloaf with forest mushrooms, horseradish mashed potatoes and charred carrots. Oh, and I can’t forget the Northwest Seafood Stew with salmon, clams, mussels, prawns and scallops in a tomato fennel broth. Oh my!
Breads and pastries are baked fresh daily in the open kitchen so the aromas permeate your nose and make your mouth water.

Fireplace in the lobby

Check out the website at www.heathmanlodge.com for complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menus along with the Hudson’s Hour special menu from 4 to 6 p.m. daily which includes Sauteed Mussels and a Tillamook White Cheddar Burger among other offerings. And don’t forget to try one of the microbrews, wines or cocktails.
Whether you just stop in for a bite to eat, a cold beverage or spend the night, you won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

     While cruising through the Pinterest boards, I came across a photo for a Peanut Butter Sheet Cake that looked quite yummy. Wound up going to the website where the recipe was posted - The Girl Who Ate Everything at http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/
     Christy, the blog's author, received the recipe from Nina Jones, who sent it to her after reading Christy's post about her sister and hubby having a tough time getting pregnant and whose doctors told her to eat a lot of calories during the early stages of embryo implanting. 
     Apparently, she ate a jar of peanut butter a week just by consuming it on a spoon! Christy writes: "The secret, in my opinion, was in the peanut butter." Her sister gave birth to a girl.
     Nina's recipe is below. 
     Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the number of calories and amount of fat in this recipe. LOL 


Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
     Mix in a pan and bring to a boil:
     1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
     1 cup water
     1/2 cup butter
     Mix together and add to ingredients in pan:
     1 cup sugar
     1 cup brown sugar
     2 cups flour
     1 teaspoon salt
     1 teaspoon baking soda
     Mix well and add to ingredients in the pan:
     2 eggs
     1/2 cup buttermilk
     1/2 teaspoon vanilla
     Stir everything in the pan well and pour into a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet pan (jelly roll pan). Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
     For the frosting, mix in a pan and bring to a boil:
     3/4 cup butter
     6 Tablespoons buttermilk
     1/2 cup peanut butter
     Take off the stove and add:
     3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
     1 Tablespoon vanilla.
     Pour mixture over warm cake.

Rambling on a Sunday

             Ahh. It's Sunday – the day of rest and one of my favorite days of the week. And what day is my favorite, you ask? Honestly, I like them all.
 Of course, I look forward to Friday because then the weekend starts. Woo! Hoo!
On Saturday, we can sleep in if we want. And, sometimes, I want … but I seem to wake up between 4 and 5 a.m. because that’s when I start my days during the work week. It’s OK, though … I doze back off and leisurely rise around 6:30 or 7 a.m.
I like Wednesday because it's "Hump Day." Thursday means one more day until Friday. Monday is the first day of the work week and usually a really busy day and Tuesday means Monday is over. :-)
But hey, I’m getting carried away here. Back to Sunday.
Hubby and I enjoy a leisurely morning sipping coffee before we embark on one of our favorite pastimes this time of year, watching NASCAR racing on TV. When we win the lottery, we are going to buy a fancy-shmancy motor home and hit the NASCAR racing circuit … figure out what races we really like and then go to them every year.
Anyway … this morning is no exception. We enjoyed our coffee, a French Roast from Trader Joe’s (more about that store later). The canister says it’s a “dark roast – strong and rich.”
Trader Joe's French Roast
The back reads: “Sitting in a sidewalk café in Paris, taking in the views of the Seine, the Champs Elysees or perhaps the Louvre. Sounds magical, doesn’t it?”
Well, yes indeed.
“We’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s not Paris, it’s the coffee. Trader Joe’s French Roast Coffee brings the beauty and wonder of the City of Light to your cup, in the form of a dark, rich brew with full strong flavors. A long, slow roast brings out the natural oils in the beans, giving them their intense color and glistening visage.”
Are you convinced? I am. But there’s more.
“Whether you’re searching for a less expensive alternative to a trip across the Atlantic or simply a great cup of coffee, our French Roast Coffee will make your dreams come true. Oui oui!”
            Hmmm. Make my dreams come true? That’s stretching it a bit.
            Bottom line: The coffee is great, whether you drink it black, with a little sugar and cream or with your favorite flavoring. Mine happens to be cinnamon and vanilla.

            So, now on to Trader Joe’s.  Oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways – the products, the prices, the atmosphere.
            The company has a lot of history dating back to 1958 when Joe Coulombe founded the first store as the Greater Los Angeles area chain of Pronto Market convenience stores.
 It’s been reported that Joe developed the idea of the Trader Joe South Seas motif while on vacation in the Caribbean. At the time, Americans were traveling and returning home wanting the food and wine they ate and drank while on their trips.
And, thank goodness, Joe decided he could satisfy those customers and opened his first Trader Joe’s in 1967 in South Pasadena, Calif. That store is still in operation!
The rest, as is said, is history.
Trader Joe’s was ranked the second-best supermarket chain in the nation in the May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports. What’s the first, you ask? Some chain called Wegmans. Personally, I’ve never heard of it, probably because the stores are on the East Coast and I’m on the West Coast.
Trader Joe's facade
The Trader Joe's company describes itself as “your neighborhood grocery store.” Gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian foods, unusual frozen foods and imported foods are sold along with domestic and imported wine and beer; and staples such as bread, cereal, eggs, coffee, produce and dairy products.
You can buy personal hygiene products, vitamins, flowers and cleaning products; along with juices and canned goods.
I love their little cans of smoked trout. Steve love’s the Trader Joe vanilla crème filled cookies. And the pastas, yum. My faves are the Spinach and Chive Linguine, the Lemon Pepper Pappardelle and the Organic Vegetable Radiatore.
The Spinach and Chive is great with sun-dried tomatoes.

We don’t have a Trader Joe’s in the city where I live, but there is one about 45 minutes away. We make a day trip of it when we can go. We treat ourselves to Starbucks coffee – White Chocolate Mocha for Steve and a Caramel Macchiato for me – before we head down the freeway. We plug Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons  “Caribbean Breeze” CD into the CD player, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
If we’re really ambitious and have the cash, we stop at Costco. The final stop before heading home is Barnes and Noble.
What a great way to spend the day.