Friday, May 30, 2008

Nanny Howell

Nanny Howell - Elsie May - my Mother's mother. We often visited her, Mom, my sister Bev and I. We caught three buses to get to her house and walked through a park. It seemed a pretty long journey to us. Occasionally my Uncle Derek, Mom's youngest brother, would come and pick us up on his motorbike, which had a side car. Mom always rode on the back of the bike and us girls would ride in the side car. Now that was an exciting ride!

This is My Uncle Derek with sister Bev.

Nandad Howell

Nandad Howell - Leonard - my Mother's father, as an adult and as a child. I feel very fortunate to have these photos of him, never actually having known him.

Nandad Goodall

I believe I mentioned earlier that my Father's father - Thomas Charles - was a blacksmith at the Sunbeam Motorcar Factory in Wolverhampton. I think this photo was taken for a newspaper on his retirement, probably in the late 1950's. He is standing on the left-hand side. Nandad passed away when I was eleven. My father described him as very 'Victorian' and I found him a little scary at times. I was a very active, all-over-the -place kind of child and Nandad thought that children should be seen and most definitely not heard. On one occasion I had done something he disapproved of, and I remember my beloved Nanny Goodall's soothing voice saying to him, "Now Tom, she is only a child." I often think how nice it would have been to know him as an adult, to let him know that I turned out okay and to reassure him that what he perceived as a naughty little child turned into a pretty straight arrow kind of adult, with a few Victorian ideas of her own.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brad and Lisa bought bicycles!

Brad sent these photos today. He and Lisa bought bikes. First question out of Mom's mouth was, "Brad, did you er, did you buy, er....." "Yes, Mom, we both bought helmets." Big sigh of relief from me. Yep, there are the bike helmets. You never stop worrying about your kids do you, no matter how old they get? So people tell me anyhow and I whole-heartedly believe them. I will be in my rocking chair still worrying, rocking and worrying, rocking and worrying. I am understandibly a little nervous. The last time Brad was on a bike was a few years ago. His old bike is still in our garage, and still a little beat up. He was going to get it repaired but never got around to it. Just as well, I think it would have taken more money than it was worth. The last time he rode it he went over the handlebars and fractured both his arms. I had gotten onto him about buying a helmet back then, turned into a bit of a nagger about it and I do think he would have gotten one, but it was taken out of my hands. I remember calling Gregg and was shocked to find they were both at the emergency clinic. I was at work at the time and had called Gregg about something, only to find that Brad had called his Dad - thank God for cell phones - telling him he thought he had broken both his arms but somehow had managed to use his cell phone to call his Dad - and Gregg drove over to pick him up about four miles away from home. One of his elbows still pops occasionally, I watch as he stretches it out, "pop", he looks at me and smiles, and I role my eyes.

Don't they look happy? They had a great day riding around, rode all over the place.

Lisa looks real pretty riding her bike. What a great smile.

One more Brad story and the tale of another bike, going back several years when we were still living in California. Do you remember PeeWee's Big Adventure? I certainly do. I had taken Brad to see it and there was a scene where PeeWee had done some wheely escapade on his bike. Doing the motherly thing I remember saying, "Now this is just a movie, you can't do anything like that in real life. A person could get seriously hurt!" Brad was about 11 or thereabouts. I guess he didn't believe me because the same afternoon I heard screaming. He tried the same stunt in the cul-de-sac and had flipped over those handlebars, landing on a nice sharp rock which neatly sliced him under his chin. I remember that trip to the doctor too. Yep, rocking and worrying, rocking and worrying.
On the upside, no you can't wrap your kids in a bubble and I do have wonderful memories of when Gregg and I bought bikes when we were first married. We rode all over Washington DC, to all the monuments, along the C & O Canal, through Georgetown, finding every bike path that we could and riding miles, having the greatest time. I wish Brad and Lisa the same kind of fun that we had. Come to think of it, we didn't have bike helmets back then, but I certainly am not going to tell Brad that, as I sure am glad they are smarter than we were.
Wishing you safe and happy trails Brad and Lisa and the building of wonderful memories, and please keep your bike helmets on. I love you guys.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our Day

Our day started off with Brad coming by, having dropped Lisa at her church, with the intent of picking her up for lunch later. In the meantime we were almost out the door as I had asked Gregg to take me to the new Indiana Jones movie. It's not really his cup of tea but he's a sweetie and he knows how much I was looking forward to it. I had my purse in my hands when the phone rang but no matter, you can tell where our priorities lie. Gregg went back to his laptop and I took my shoes off and put my purse on the washer, ready to pick it up on our way out. Forty-five minutes went by and Brad turned up.
As you know he is a manager at a bookstore and he told us the happenings from the past week. Good grief, he has had more people going in there screaming at him and at other members of the staff over the silliest things, not necessarily anyone's fault but maybe the customer in the first place. And even if it wasn't, what right do they have to act that way to a lady who is over 6o years' old and doing her best, all this while trying to remain calm and polite? It's a disgusting thing to do and very abusive. Thankfully, there are more nice people in the world but you sure do remember the not-so-nice types and not necessarily with a kind thought. I don't know how they think that their screaming is going to get them anywhere, it just says more about them than it does about the person they are screaming at. Am I transferring? Probably. Since I have been working with the general public these past four years we have our fair share, but as a good friend at work says, just thank God you don't have to go home with them, and I passed these wise words on to my son. Fortunately we also remember those blessedly nice people, because they really are one of life's true blessings, the ones you treat like an old friend and go out of your way to return in kind.
I guess that was a bit of a rant but if it's one thing my Mom and Dad taught me, the way you treat another human being says a lot about a person's character. My Dad would often say follow the Golden Rule, treat others as you would have them treat you and I am sure many of us have heard this time and again. My Dad being a police officer, tried never to sit in judgment of another human being, and even though he wasn't a particularly religious man, always said, "There but for the Grace of God go I", and things like “Walk a mile in their shoes before you judge”. Words to live by, so I guess we ought to try to understand the screamers too. After all, none of us are perfect and even though I may slip every now and again because I am after all only a human being with human faults, I try to live the way I know my parents would have wanted me to. Gregg’s Mom and Dad passed those teachings on to him too and so if we have passed them on to our son and I know we have, we feel very blessed because the cycle will continue. Okay, rant finally over with.
After an hour or so Brad looked at the clock and shot out of the house, realizing he was late picking Lisa up. We had a nice visit and it was time for us to go to the movie theatre. Good grief, the parking lot was jam-packed and frankly, I had visions of having to sit in the seats at the front of the theatre. I have enough with my joints aching without giving my neck a work-out too. I looked at Gregg and said, "Maybe we could go next weekend?" He readily agreed, didn't need to be told twice, he had a reprieve and before I knew it he had turned the car around and we were on our way to his favorite art supply store, where he picked up a few items for one of his work projects. From there we went to the Noodle Company for lunch and after that we headed home. Indie, you're going to have to wait until next weekend okay?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Gregg and I decided to go to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens today. We have been here before but not in the last year. It was a beautiful day, not too hot with a lovely breeze, perfect for a walk. Today was the first time I felt like I could manage one since I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago. Meadowlark is a gentle start to one of our favorite things to do on the weekends, taking a nice walk in pretty surroundings.

There have been several sculptures added since the last time we were here.

These deer sculptures had pink ribbon and bows around their knecks. We found out why later.

Little Bird

Walking around a corner we came across this little bird standing perfectly still on the pathway. It didn't move even though we were very close to it and it seemed to be looking at its reflection in the glass window. We watched him for a while but it became apparent he wasn't going anywhere. I wondered if it had stunned itself having flown into the window but as I walked behind, his head moved a little and I think he was getting ready to fly off.

Family of Canada Geese

In this lovely shady spot we found a family of Canada Geese, two adults and six goslings.

There is nothing cuter than those fluffy babies waddling around. One of them was more adventurous than his brothers and sisters, and it wasn't long before he got away from the main group and disappeared behind a tree trunk. I watched him at the same time taking photos. All of a sudden this little chap realized his Mom and Dad were out of sight. He let out the loudest cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep I have ever heard from such a little guy. One of the parents answered and he high-tailed it back as fast as his sturdy little legs could carry him. When he rejoined his family his head went back down and he continued eating. Adorable!

I made this collage; several photos of the same gosling on his journey behind the tree trunk. You can click on any photo to see the larger version. The next one got a softer look in Paint Shop Pro. I'm not sure whether I like it or not, but I am too tired tonight to change it.
"Don't go too far next time." "Okay, Mom but what if the grass is tastier on the other side of the hill, or behind another tree trunk?"

Nesting Canada Goose

As we walked along the path Gregg noticed this Canada goose sitting very still. On closer inspection I saw a layer of downy feathers under her body. She was sitting on a nest. I found it amazing that she had built it right next to a well-traveled path. She looked up but then went back to house-cleaning and seemed perfectly content.

I think this must have been her mate swimming nearby. On the other side of the nest was the lake.

Mother Goose stood up to reposition herself and I saw four or five eggs. It is hard to see but there are a couple showing in this picture.

Wedding Day

You will often find weddings taking place at the gardens and we have seen others over the years. We noticed a crowd down by the Gazebo, and as we had been taking pictures near the lake, we were there when the wedding party made their way along the path.

They were laughing and smiling and when they looked over they spotted me taking photos. I waved and shouted "Congratulations!" They waved back and I heard "Oh, thank you" from the Bride and the Bridegroom's face was beaming, smiling from ear to ear. It was a lovely moment. I wish you both a very long and happy life together. I wish I could give you this photo as you looked so very happy, and I am sure you wouldn't have minded one more photo on your wedding day.

Favorite Flower Photos

Last stop, Giant Supermarket

We wanted to stop off at the grocery on the way back, something we often do on one of our trips out. This time it was for a loaf of bread for a chicken sandwich supper - courtesy of our meal from yesterday. I always enjoy looking at the produce section. They do a very nice display and the freshness and the colors of their fruits and vegetables are always very inviting.

We ended up buying more than just a loaf of bread, as often happens. No vegetables today as we have more than enough at home.

These are interesting don't you think? Simply called, "Ugly Tomatoes". I don't think they look ugly at all, just very interesting. We didn't buy them today and bought our usual vine-ripened ones.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rosemary, Sage and Thyme Scented Chicken

Gregg was getting back from a business trip to Kansas City this afternoon, so I wanted to have a wonderful aroma to greet him when he walked in the door. I decided on this recipe but am not sure where it came from. I really must get more organized and remember to identify the source. I go surfing a lot on the Internet when I am looking for new ideas, and I came across this one not too long ago. The chicken here probably overwhelms the platter but it was the smallest one I could find on my last shopping trip to our local supermarket, and I didn't have the time to look elsewhere. It took a little longer to cook but everything came out really well and we have lots of leftovers for the weekend ahead. I also found out that I didn't have Rosemary in my herb collection, so I used Basil. I suppose the title should read Basil, Sage and Thyme instead.
Rosemary, Sage and Thyme Scented Chicken

Fresh orange juice and savoury herbs infuse roast chicken and healthy vegetables with that enticing "home-roasted dinner" aroma and ever-so-satisfying flavour.

Preparation time 15 minutes Roasting Time 1-1/4 hours Makes 4 servings
2 oranges

3 to 4 lb (1.5 to 2 kg) whole roasting chicken

1 tsp (5 mL) butter

1 tsp (5 mL) each dried thyme leaves and sage leaves

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

3 medium-size potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold

2 red onions

1 lb (500 g) pkg peeled butternut squash pieces

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) dried rosemary leaves

Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Slice oranges in half. Squeeze out about 1 cup (250 mL) juice. Don't discard orange peels. Rinse chicken. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan wide enough to hold chicken and vegetables around it. Stuff orange peels into cavity of chicken. Rub butter all over chicken, then sprinkle with thyme, sage and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt. Roast, breast side up, in centre of preheated oven 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut unpeeled potatoes into quarters. Slice each onion into 6 wedges. Cut squash into bite-size chunks. Place potatoes, onions and squash in a large bowl. Add juice and oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and remaining 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt. Stir until evenly coated.

Once chicken has roasted 30 minutes, remove from oven. Baste with any pan juices. Tumble vegetables and marinade into pan around chicken and spread out. Return to oven. Roast, uncovered, until a meat thermometer inserted into thigh reads 170F (77C), 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir vegetables halfway through cooking. If chicken skin browns too quickly, loosely cover chicken with foil. If pan juices start to burn, add a little water. After removing pan from oven, let stand 10 minutes before slicing chicken and serving with vegetables and pan juices.

Squash is one of our most nutritious winter vegetables. Its deep yellow-orange colour makes it rich in cancer-fighting beta carotene. It also contains a good dose of fibre. Comforting and satisfying yet not high in calories, 1 cup (250 mL) baked mashed butternut squash has 98 calories, a whopping 6.9 grams of fibre and just 0.2 grams of fat.

Nutrients per 4-oz (125-g) serving white meat and vegetables
14 g protein
6.6 g fat
64.6 g carbohydrates
7.7 g fibre
3.3 mg iron
121 mg calcium
619 mg sodium
357 calories

Excellent source of folacin, magnesium, thiamine, niacin and vitamins A, B6 and C
Good source of iron

Amond Tassies

I found this recipe in my Taste of Home magazine and have been wanting to try it for quite a while, so that I could take into work and put them on the afternoon teas. I enjoyed making them but had a bit of difficulty due to using two different miniature muffin pans. The first pan I used they came out great - non-stick and a better quality baking pan. The other pan wasn't non-stick, and even though I greased both thoroughly, the second set just fell apart when I tried to remove them. Lesson learned, I will only be using the non-stick pan from now on. The downside was that I messed up 24 tassies, the upside was, I put the pieces in a plastic bag and had a few nibbles when I drank my coffee, naughty but very nice. I thought the saved ones looked a tad untidy, but at least I will know what I am doing the second time round and hopefully the next batch will look more professional. I took ones I gave a pass to into work and gave Alan, Jackie and Gail one. They are happy to be my taste-testers before I put them out for the customers. You have to like Marzipan to enjoy these. Jackie and Gail loved them and so did I. Alan on the other hand looked like I was trying to poison him and his expression told me he isn't an almond fan. He said with emphasis, that he had just had a piece of toast and wasn't hungry - did I believe him? Ha! Never stopped him before. Yes I am smiling because Alan has become like a big brother and doesn't mind if I snort at his response. He just laughs. The rest of us thought they were delicious and were, in the words of Rachel Ray, "Yummo!"

Almond Tassies

A rich buttery crust holds a meringue filling flavored with almond paste. With their delicate, dainty look, these cookies would be especially nice for a ladies' luncheon - Helen Verbeke, Clifton, New Jersey.

Method: baked

Time: prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling

2 cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt


1 can (8 ounces) almond paste

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Almonds to garnish (the original recipe required 1/2 cup chopped pecans, but I changed it to sliced almonds)

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks. Gradually add flour and salt. Divide dough into fourths; roll each portion into 12 small balls. Press each ball onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cup; set aside.

For the filling: combine almond paste, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in vanilla and remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat into the almond mixture.

Fill prepared cups three-fourths full. Garnish with sliced almonds (or sprinkle with pecans as in the original recipe). Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove Tassies from pans.

Yield: 4 dozen.

Homemade Almond Paste

Another recipe from the Taste of Home website. I haven't tried it yet but it will be a good one to keep on hand in case I can't find almond paste in the store, or just have all the ingredients on hand and want to make it myself.

Servings: 24
Time: Prep/Total Time: 10 mins.

1-1/2 cups blanched almonds
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg white
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place almonds in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, egg white, extract and salt; cover and process until smooth.

Divide almond paste into 1/2-cup portions; place in airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 3 months.

Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Polar Bears at Sea World in San Diego

We used to live in San Diego way back when, and in the late 90's after we had moved to Virginia, we went back for a visit. One of our favorite places to go to was Sea World. Brad found the photo album of our trip last Monday, and he asked me if I would scan the photos and send them to him. He knows I am going through all our albums and putting everything on our portable hard drive. He also knows it will take a while for me to get through them all, but I told him I would put this particular album on the top of my list. I started with the polar bears. That day they were very active and we thoroughly enjoyed their underwater antics. Brad took all the photos seen here.

We moved to San Diego when Brad was ten years' old. Gregg was still in the navy and on his very first day at his new job he dropped us off at Sea World. We arranged to meet him at the end of the day. It was the first time we had been there and the day was magical, the time just flew by. We saw the Shamu show, the dolphin show, walked through the penguin exhibit, so many things that first time and we couldn't wait to share our day with Gregg. We told him all about it on the ride home and it wasn't long afterwards that the three of us went back. Great memories.