Christmas Greetings

Christmas love can happen all year. This family gathering took place in Delaware in November when I visited my mom’s cousin, Hal. Marvin Awbrey sent me a series of children’s quotes about love. ¬†I put the two expressions of love together to send to you. Lots of love to my WordPress friends. Thanks for following. ūüôā
Nov. Dinner at Hal's copy2

Wine and Dining 

Vince shocked me a few months ago when the announced as we drove to lunch in Visalia one beautiful October day that I didn’t like to cook. I had my defense ready.

“I don’t mind cooking.”

Needless to say I lost that argument before it even got warmed up.

Actually I’m a good cook, but Vince is right, if I have a choice¬†of filing, making the bed or writing, I’m not at the stove.

So tonight, inspired by my friend and esthetician Carrie at Creekside Day Spa in Visalia, CA, I decided to wine and dine my husband. Here’s how she explained it to me. First you relax, and don’t expect to have everything done at the same time, and drink wine with every course. ¬†All my life I have not been a wine drinker,¬†so my sophistication level 0. The upside to that is that I have a strong liver and not as many dead brain cells as I might have had otherwise. ¬†But for this evening we started with a glass of wine while I serve a delicious appetizer.

There is no recipe for this, and I don’t know what you call it, but the ingredients are chopped vegetables fried in olive oil until some of them are crispy. I used brussel sprouts – usually not anyone’s favorite, but trust me on this ¬†– you will eat more than you should. Along with that I¬†added in onions, red cabbage, canned corn, broccoli,celery, topped with kale. I sprinkled the mixture with chili powder, salt and pepper and served it topped with romano cheese. I toasted an English muffin topped with the same cheese, and we spooned the vegetables onto the bread, and downed it with a pink moscato.
¬†¬†This process was somewhat messy and took about 20 minutes, so I had everything started before he came home. I think Carrie’s idea was to have both partners working together in the kitchen. It’s taken us twenty years to work¬†politely together¬†in the kitchen. (He’s bossy, and I leave if he irritates me too much. Then he leaves, and I come back and do it my way. We are working on our social skills, but today I did it my way.)

We ate course #1¬†then went out into the yard and did a few chores while the soup heated in the crock pot. I used most of the same vegetables in the minestrone soup, so that meant that I didn’t have to chop twice. I added canned tomatoes, black beans and carrots to the soup, which I didn’t use in the appetizer. I have never made minestrone soup because I don’t usually like it, so I looked online, and discovered a recipe, and altered it to match my groceries. It called for white beans, but I didn’t have them. In my older age, I have no compunction about substituting. I can remember being tied to recipes thinking that if I didn’t follow them to the tee, the kitchen god¬†would kick me out of the kitchen, and I’d never have to cook again. ¬†The soup cooked during the entire appetizer process, then I ¬†tossed in the penne pasta for about 10 minutes.
¬† We topped the soup with Romano cheese too, and let it drip down our chins. A little wine, and who cares? ¬†We chose a red moscato to go with this course.¬†While Vince worked in the yard a bit, I finished cooking the meat sauce for the lasagna. ¬†That was the joy to this process. We didn’t rush through dinner. In fact it wasn’t even dinner time when we started.

Not very fancy, but easy to clean up. The plates came from Target, and my car-guy hubby like them better than our fancy Christmas plates.

I make lasagna at Christmas and Thanksgiving because my Italian husband prefers it to turkey. Can you imagine anyone preferring anything to turkey at Christmas?


When we shopped this week,¬†he snuck some hot sausage into the cart. He wanted it chopped up and mixed into the hamburger. (blick, blah) I can see it here because it’s a little more orange, but I hope I can’t taste it.

recipe book copyI love this little recipe book. The women at our Nazarene Church in Cottage Grove had a going away party for my first husband and me when we went to Bible College in Colorado Springs, and this was their gift to me. ¬†(Even though they knew I didn’t like to cook – pastor’s wives HAVE to cook, don’t they?) This recipe came from one of my best friends, Jan Norris.
Italian Delight copySee it looks pretty good. I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly, though. It has sausage and onion in it, but no garlic, and I don’t measure. The cheesy stuff consists of sour cream, cream cheese, and I used cottage cheese, too, but the recipe doesn’t call for that either, and it does call for green onions, which I never use. I sometimes use ricotta cheese because it’s more Italian, according to Vince.
  Once you get the cheese mixture combined you just have to layer it with the noodles. There are two layers of each.

Finally you add the cheddar cheese. This is the most time-consuming of the process. I don’t like to use a food processor, but I don’t have a good reason for that.

The only problem with Carrie’s great idea is that now Vince and I are way too full, to eat the main course tonight. But it’s done now, 4 hours after I started cooking.

So, you want to come to dinner? ¬†I have plenty. ¬†ūüôā I also have a mess to clean up. Hmmm maybe that’s why I don’t “like” to cook. ūüôā

Wishing you and yours the merriest Christmas. Love you all, and wish you were here to taste my dinner. ūüôā

Oops- We Waited One Day Too Long to Trade in Our Car: Eulogy to a Prius

We named her Pris. She was my baby for nine years, and we went everywhere together. She is my subject for this week’s WP Photo Challenge, Oops.

Pris1
See how glazed over her eyes are?

When her heart ruptured, I rushed her to the hospital and she underwent expensive heart replacement (hybrid battery) surgery, and we brought her home. Within just a few months she had another major attack, this time of her central nervous system (touch screen computer system). We took her back to the hospital, and the surgeons told us it would be $1,800 to put her back together correctly. I told Pris that was too much. She was not happy with me.

Her circulatory system was most affected by her central nerve damage. If she was cold we could press on the top of the screen to turn on the front and rear defroster even though the touchscreen buttons were on the bottom of the screen. If she had a hot flash,¬†we could turn¬†down the temperature of the air conditioner on the steering wheel, but her¬†fan automatically came on full blast. (A real oops!) If we got tired of listening to her¬†fan, we could turn it down by turning up the temperature on the steering wheel. That is not a problem in the winter, but when the outside temperature is 110 and her¬†internal temperature is 130… (oops again)

We looked at cars for several weeks while Pris continued to limp along. ¬†She tried to tell us the end was near. She dropped¬†her rear view mirror and left it dangling by its cord. Vince stuck it back on. She complained because it was loose and it rubbed her windshield every time I hit a bump, but I ignored her complaining. She got in a little accident when someone backed into her at a stop sign – or she snuck up to kiss the car. We weren’t sure which, but she had to have plastic surgery. Even with insurance her face lift cost us $500. She showed wear around the door where her insulation started¬†to sag. I told Vince I wasn’t paying for any more plastic surgery. One minute Vince could live with her for a few more months. At other times I could. Both of us should have known better.

Meanwhile Pris got sicker and sicker. One day she turned on her red triangle with the flashing exclamation point. She had leaked out all her oil in 1,000 miles. She was on a 3,000-mile checkup instead of 5,000 miles after her heart surgery. Vince filled her with expensive oil, and she felt better. She turned off her red triangle. He took her to have her oil changed about 500 miles later. Friday, she told us she would not go one mile farther, and she turned on her red triangle again. A sign appeared on her touchscreen to put her into park.

Vince and I finally HAD to agree on a car to replace Pris. ¬†You can read about that in ¬†a earlier post. I could afford something at the Corolla level. ¬†I can’t tell you what he said about the Corolla because his son is proud of his.¬†Vince¬†told me I should get a Cruze when Pris started with her second episode. I could afford that without any help from him. Although I had drug my feet, I finally decided that a Chevy Cruze would work. We bought it after the shortest test drive in history. Vince wouldn’t even go along. He wanted to get on the way to go our¬†Audi appointment, but ¬†almost any car he liked and some he didn’t – an Audi, , ATS, Fusion, or¬†Volt would need his financial help. ¬†He wanted a Porsche, and that required all my contribution and then some. So he quickly agreed to the Cruze.

no name Chevy Cruze

We brought Pris’s replacement home Friday, No name Chevy Cruze. Pris¬†looked forlorn, but if Friday was sad, Saturday was worse. The dealer gave us $700 in trade for Pris – dead or alive. ¬†Vince drove her onto the tow truck. I couldn’t watch, but he took these pictures.

Pris 3 cr

Then she drove away for the last time. The mailbox looks like her cross.  She still looks good for her age Р9.5 years. Bye bye Pris. You were a good girl, and I love you. RIP

Pris 2 cr

For more mistakes aka “WP Photo Challenge – Oops” click here.

Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Wright’s Watertight File Cabinet

Generally file cabinets wouldn’t warrant a blog post unless you sold file cabinets for a living. Not so when you visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of¬†Architecture at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ.

B&W FLW file cabinet 3
Where is it? I don’t see a filing cabinet out here!

Wright hated clutter in his house, and what place gathers more clutter than your filing area? So he moved the filing outside.

B&W FLW file cabinet 2 copy

Keep in mind that fire destroyed Taliesin East, his first school that he and his lover established in Wisconsin named Taliesin East.  As the story goes, he and his son were presenting their work at a show in Chicago when the tragedy occurred. When he returned, his new servant had axed his lover and her two children in the heads after he served them lunch. Then he served the architectural students, locked them in their studio, and poured gasoline under the door, and lit it. Most of the buildings burned up and only one person who escaped from that inferno lived. Wright came home to ashes.

When he built Taliesin West, his new file cabinet would never burn. He kept all his architectural drawings within this stone structure, safe from all natural disasters.

B&W FLW file cabinet

I asked why¬†the little wooden handle was there. Wright’s¬†file fort protected his drawings from almost every natural invasion known to man – except an invasion of seeds. This tree established it roots in the cement, and instead of tearing up the cement and eradicating it, they keep the tree trimmed.

For more of Cee’s Black and White Challenges with B or W, click here.

Drawing Your Hand – Would You Choose a Chevy Cruze or an Audi?

For her post today¬†Cathy Tenzo’s blog¬†revealed her hand to the world. For a poker player that might not be so good, but for an artist… Not so good either, according to Cathy. She said that hands are among the hardest things to draw. ¬†I had time to waste while my husband debated about getting ready to go look at cars, so I decided to try sketching my hand.

tchistorygal's hand #1No I wasn’t thinking of punching him. I was actually pleased at the results for a first try. I don’t think I’ll quit my day job, but it was a relaxing thing to do instead of tapping my toes or playing Spidersol. When we got home tonight, I scanned it, cropped it and cleaned it up a little in Photoshop.

After I finished my morning sketch, we sped off to trade in my 2006 Prius with 227,518 miles on it. He backed it out of the driveway, put the Prius¬†into drive, and the nasty red triangle light with a huge flashing exclamation point appeared on the dash. That’s not a symbol for excitement when you see it on the dash – trust me. It appeared three months ago and we had to buy a new hybrid battery. That ! cost us $4,000, but we figured we had just bought us a reliable used car.¬†Moral: ¬†don’t have a heart transplant if you’re 126 years old, or if you’re a Prius with 225,000 miles.

We had waited one day too long. So now you know how long a Prius can last.

He was able to get the¬†car back in the driveway. Then off we went to ¬†driving Vince’s Prius to look at a Camry in Hanford that advertised all¬†the gizmos we I wanted. When we arrived, the salesperson needed to run a quick errand for another customer. He¬†pointed us to the bagel bar – big mistake. I enjoyed a Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel, but didn’t buy the car. We had another appointment so we scurried off without hurting anyone’s feelings – since the next appointment was set in stone. We started¬†off to an appointment with the Audi dealer in Fresno. ¬†Before we left Hanford I sidetracked us¬†to visit the Chevrolet dealer, since it was right on the way.

What I really wanted was a fully appointed Volt that gets an advertized 106 miles to the gallon. I just feel so righteous when I’m driving a car that squeezes more miles out of every ounce of gas.

Vince does not/did not support my Volt fetish, and wanted me to try a Cruze. I snubbed my nose at its¬†30 miles to the gallon fuel rating, but I determined¬†to keep an open mind. (hahaa) Jean and I had tried to test drive one in Scottsdale, but not one salesperson came out to help us. That is Jean’s pet peeve, and I wasn’t too pleased either, so we ended our car shopping and stuck to clothing. Back home again, Hanford, CA was the Cruze’s last chance to impress me.

The salesperson, a trained psychiatric nurse, drove out to the extra sales lot and we followed. I’m not saying that he psyched us out, but he didn’t get psyched when we told him that we were on our way to drive an Audi. We went to the other Chevy car lot, but we refused to¬†drive him back so we could head up to our appointment. Psychic Nurse, Michael¬†took a new truck, and we followed him. I popped into¬†the Cruze LTZ RS, and he turned on my heated seat. (The more initials it has, the better Vince likes the car.)¬† As the car sloshed through the mud in the parking lot dirtying up it’s lily white bumpers, I¬†warmed up, and my personality mellowed. We dashed¬†around the block.¬†I decided that for the difference in price, between a fully appointed Cruze and an Audi, I could live with the Cruze. ¬†We¬†I¬†bought it. Since I really didn’t care it I got the car or didn’t, I was an amazingly ferocious negotiator. I told them it was either a Cruze, Audi or Porshce. I didn’t care which. I was fairly pleased with the results considering that my Prius,¬†RIP, was no longer a back-up. By the time we finished, it was 3:30, and Vince had not eaten¬†anything since his last power bar following his exercise workout. I¬†didn’t have a Snickers handy.

We left for lunch, and got back to the car deal to pick up Vince’s car at rush hour. ¬†Vince jumped out of our new Cruze to head home in his car, but …he lost his car key. Good thing he had eaten!

We drove back and forth between the dealer and Panera during rush hour – yes Hanford, CA has a rush hour that rivals Los Angeles because of the freeway construction. An hour later when we changed seats once again, we found the key. I had been¬†sitting on it¬†after it¬†fell out when he was driving, I’m obviously not the Princess and the Pea.

We are now sitting safely at home with a hot cup of  tea and a neck ache.

So, I’ve revealed my hand today. How was your day today?