Friday, July 31, 2009

Coming to the end of the day....

I know this is the last day of July and I am a bit late sharing this calender, but it's raining and it's cute and I wanted to share it with you.

Time to turn the computer off for the night. Another fast week, where on earth does the time go? It truly seems like time is flying by even faster these days. I met up with a friend today for coffee and it is always great to get together and catch up. We shared photos, chatted about our kids, told each other what had been going on since the last time we had seen each other and there went the morning.

I was thinking that I haven't posted a recipe in a donkey's age, but with all this hot weather all meals have been fast and easy, and doesn't involve turning the oven on to heat up the house. We've been eating a lot of salads and tonight I fixed our favorite chicken salad recipe which I posted here a while back. Tonight I used my bread machine and made the basic white bread recipe. When Gregg gets home and smells the aroma of fresh baked bread in the air he comes into the kitchen with a big smile on his face and rubs his hands with glee, but this loaf I actually made yesterday as we were running out of bread.

I got up extra early - around 5.45 a.m. - and strange for me I had lots of energy, so I decided to make the loaf. It takes exactly 3 hours and 20 minutes to bake. I set the timer, did some housework and then started getting very sleepy. Before I knew it I had nodded off on the sofa and three hours later I woke up. It took me a while to realize that I had gone past the time when I should have taken the bread out of the machine by about an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half. Fortunately the machine turns itself off but you're supposed to take it out right away, and I wasn't sure by this time if it would fall out or stick to the container like glue. Here's me breathing a sigh of relief when it came out easily and apart from looking a little browner than it usually does, it was okay I thought and I could use it for tonight's supper. Once it cooled I put it in a ziploc bag to use today.

Gregg usually calls home just before he leaves the office and it gives me a chance to start putting things together as he only works fifteen minutes away. I cut the loaf and noticed it looked a bit more denser than usual - uh-oh - and the crust was thicker too - double uh-oh! What the heck I get the chicken salad out of the fridge and fix us a sandwich without any further uh-oh's.

Gregg comes home and he pours us each a glass of Pelegrino with lime. Since we gave up drinking soda's in the house he came up with this idea of the carbonated water, and the lime juice gives it that extra zip. It's a very refreshing drink and I can honestly say I prefer it to a soda any day but I know it's not everybody's cup of tea, but I love it. Gregg bites into his sandwich and says, "This bread is the best you've ever made, it's really great!" I laughed and told him what I had done and I said that I would try and fall asleep again next time I make a loaf. The last but one time I made the bread I used regular flour instead of bread flour and while still in the container and while it was rising, it blew up like a balloon, hit the top of the lid and then sank like a rock, and when it baked for the regular time it came out looking like a cracker on the outside and REALLY heavy on the inside. I made the best of it as I truly hate to throw anything away, so toasted it. Gregg once again not knowing that I had made a complete 'bomb' said, "This bread is really great, you can make this again!" So basically if I mess up my bread recipe I am okay and "Can you please mess up again next time?"

I have had my run-in's with bread dough before. When we first got married and we were living in our little apartment in Alexandria, I tried to make Bread Doughnuts. Gregg's Mom used to make the best and every time we visited she knew we loved them so she would always fix them for us. Well, silly me, I got the bright idea that I would make them for our breakfast one morning.

I have this phobia about frying food with hot oil. Goes back to when my sister and I tried to make a batch of chips (french fries) when our parents were out and well, that's a story for another day. Suffice to say it still makes me uncomfortable to use deep oil for frying but here I was ready to give it a go.

Now I had watched my Mother-in-Law make them several times by now and I thought "No problem". So went to the store and bought 1 lb. bag of frozen bread dough, put it in a bowl, threw a damp cloth over the top and let it rise overnight. What you do next morning is you pinch off a piece, shape it just like a doughnut with the hole in it, place it gently into deep oil and fry it until golden brown, take it out, blot it on a piece of paper towel and sprinkle sugar all over. Easy right? Right!!!

As a young bride I didn't really know much about cooking, so I grabbed the bread dough, split it in two and made two doughnuts out of that one pound blob of bread dough, not realizing in my ignorance that they would blow up like a balloon and completely overtake the deep fry pan. All the old fears came back as I watched it getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and my eyes got wider and wider and wider, and it went from bad to worse. I managed to get those two gigantic bread doughnuts out of the oil, blot them on paper towel and sprinkled half a pound of sugar all over them, put one on Gregg's plate - it filled the dinner plate - smiled sweetly and I expected the poor dear to eat it anyhow. It was very crispy on the outside and on the inside, well it looked like an explosion of uncooked dough, kind of like when you cut into a warm brie and the cheese oozes out so yummily, except that this was very far from yummy.

Not to give up I tried refrying it. I was a stubborn, not to be done in, English lass! I placed it back on the plate which practically broke in two under the weight. Gregg tried to cut into it and did I see that knife bend? You betcha! That is when I realized the saint I had married. He tried to eat it, he really did but I couldn't be so cruel as to watch him try to consume this horrible mess. I ended up throwing chunks out for the birds and as we saw the sparrows come down from the trees in droves, we watched as each one tried to take off with those chunks, and the poor little beggers couldn't even get off the ground. I think I gave all of those little birdies a hernia that day and I do believe they avoided me after that.

To prove a point even the other critters wouldn't touch my delectible non-delight and we ended up picking up the pieces and throwing them away in the trash. And that day I swore I would never make them again. But guess what? Gregg said I ought to give them one more go as he really has a hankering for bread doughnuts? I think I hear the flapping of wings as the sparrows head south a little early this year.

Camera Critters # 69

The photos with the birdhouses were taken in a garden next to the Smithsonian's 'Castle'. It is a beautiful area that runs alongside the building. The Starling and Sparrows were taken on our walk from The Castle across to The National Museum of American History.

How about some bird riddles?

What bird would its bill find useful at tea,
A Spoonbill

There's a bird whose name tells if he flies fast or slow
A Swift

A bird that can you can easily fool if you choose
A Gull

A bird, we are told by the poet, at Heaven's gate sings
A Lark

A bird which has the same name that a small island bears?
A Canary

A bird who flies high, but is held by a string
A Kite

A bird when we talk with a friend by our side
A Chat

A bird who is too lazy to build her own nest
A Cuckoo

A bird which would use its tail to steer at sea
A Rudder-duck

A bird that is an artisan, who works at his trade
A Weaver

A bird that always stands in the corner at chess
A Rook

What bird have we with us when eating and drinking?
A Swallow

You can visit Camera Critters and find other critter photos by clicking right here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

SkyWatch Friday # 55

These are my last SWF photos from the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens which was our destination when we drove to Richmond a couple of weekends ago. It truly is the best garden we have ever seen and I can recommend it to anyone who has the chance of visiting. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Plants and trees and blue skies, that's about it until next Friday. Have a great weekend everyone.

Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise for hosting SkyWatch Friday. Friday’s are a time for us all to get together and look at each other’s sky photos from all over the world. If you want to join in you can click right here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Bradford Doll House

When I was a little girl I always wanted a doll house but my parents couldn't afford to buy me one. I suppose it was never that high up on my own priority list, probably when I realized that I wasn't going to be getting it, so I quietly forgot that I ever wanted one. When we went into the Museum for American History there was my doll house, except this was the all time queen of doll houses. The one I remember I coveted all those years ago had one floor and was a tiny little thing. This had four or five floors, plus a basement and an attic area. Would I have loved this old doll house but it would probably have taken up half of my bedroom. My eyes went wide as did many others. I was not alone. There were little girls and big girls, children, mothers and grandmothers with faces lighting up like it was Christmas at the sight of this doll house.

The is "The Bradford Doll House". As I read online: It was donated to the Smithsonian in 1951 after Faith Bradford spent more than a half century building and collecting its furnishings, the house is inhabited by Peter Doll, his wife Rose Washington Doll, and their ten children.

I took a short video and I will start out by apologizing for the roller coaster motion you will find in it. My problem when taking videos is that I move way too fast, but I was conscious of the fact that I was holding up the line of little girls and big girls, children, mothers and grandmothers who wanted to take my place, so that they could get up as close as they could to see this mangificent doll house.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Watery Wednesday # 46

More watery photos from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.

Watery Wednesday is a great meme created by 2sweetnsaxy. You can share your own photos or just enjoy looking at others from around the world if you click right here.

My World Tuesday

Not so long ago we found ourselves on a mini road trip which is one of our favorite things to do on the weekends.

I have a thing about taking photos of dogs, I just love them, especially when you see them sticking their heads out of car windows. I read this on line once and you've probably heard it before as it has been making the rounds for a long time, but why do dogs love to stick their heads out of car windows when you're traveling at a good rate of speed, when they can't stand you blowing in their face? What's the answer? I don't think there is one but I thought it was a good question.
As we started out early and we were going by Amy's Cafe in Falmouth, we decided to stop in for breakfast. This is only our second visit as it's a bit of a ways from our house but I have already designated it a favorite stop-over place.

Guess what I had for breakfast? Actually, Gregg and I shared a plate as there was more than enough for two.

Inside it is cosy and comfortable.....

.... and I enjoy looking up at things on the wall.

This is the side of the 200 year old building that Amy is located in.

We came across these ladies making their way across the bridge. From their clothing I immediately thought that maybe they were from Ghana, as it reminded me of the traditional clothing I have seen when watching anything about that country on the TV. I wish I knew what their story was, where they were from and where they were going. They seemed very friendly, a car honked a friendly hello and they all waved back laughing and smiling. The lady in front had a baby strapped to her back carried in some kind of hammock. Safe journey my friends.

This is a barn we have been passing for years but it was the first time I have taken a photo. It looked like a scene out of the nursery rhyme, the Cat and the Fiddle, where the cow jumps over the moon, except that looks very much like a pig with the cow don't you think? I often wonder what the story of that mural is. Maybe next time we drive by it and we see someone, we will stop and ask.

Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise for hosting My World. You can see other ‘My World’ photos or join in and share your own by clicking right here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


An addition to my post. I would like to dedicate this to my good friend Luiz, the creator of TODAY'S FLOWERS, and to the memory of his Mother who has sadly just passed away. My deepest condolences Luiz, you and your Mother and all those who loved her will be in my thoughts and prayers.
We took countless photos on our visit to The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, and I was surprised on entering the Conservatory to find an English Cottage. It was as close to one as I have ever seen in the States, right down to the authentic thatched roof. I took a photo of the ceiling.....

.... and of the windows with their pretty diamond-paned glass and flower-filled window boxes.

I half expected Snow White to pop out of that door.

There was no wall at the back of the cottage but it was sectioned with crossed beams from floor to ceiling, with enough space in between each beam so that you could look inside but not touch.

Outside it was just like an English garden.

I fell in love with the garden ornaments.

I thought this mouse was adorable.....

.... and loved the rabbits. One nice thing about visiting places like these is that it gives me a few ideas of what I would like to put in my own garden.

I can just see this one keeping the birds company out back.

These too. Cute little piggies.....

.... and to top it all off, a Victorian Gazing Ball.

TODAY'S FLOWERS is a wonderful meme created by Luiz Santilli Jr. and is managed by Luiz, Laerte Pupo, Valkyrien and myself. I have a lot of fun looking and learning about flowers from around the world. Click right here to visit TODAY"S FLOWERS. The link opens every Sunday at 2.00 p.m. (GMT).