Monday, November 29, 2010

All That & A Bag Of Chips

I’ve been under the weather since the wee hours of Saturday morning. It was dismal, chaotic and overpowering until about 8:00 am Saturday. By Sunday morning, I was both relieved and convinced I had turned the corner and promptly went back to normal. Big mistake. Turns out, it was not a swift 24 hour bug. And one should not go from dry toast and watered down apple juice to normal food without a proper transition through the BRAT diet - my doctor’s nurse told me so belatedly today. But since I hate bananas, Chuck reminded me that I was on a RAT diet. (Thank you Sweetie. Cue gag reflex...) Of course, in the spirit of “the tooth stops aching when you arrive at the dentist”, by late this afternoon my fever had abated and my other grimmer symptoms had eased.

But prior to that turn of events Chuck had decided to make me chicken soup. Now, Chuck does know how to cook. He makes a mean pot of chili, a dazzling caviar pie and he taught me how to make hummus and baba ganoush. Unlike a brother-in-law who shall remain nameless, Chuck would not starve if left to his own devices without “The Missus”. But chicken soup has not been part of his repertoire - until today.

Back in 2008 I posted my recipe for chicken soup and my family’s recipe for chicken salad. I subsequently turned that into two digi-scrap layouts. I hesitantly inquired if Chuck would like to see my soup recipe. He readily agreed and headed off to the kitchen, scrapbook page in hand. Unlike my logical, scientific husband, the same man who reads instruction manuals, my recipes are simply lists of ingredients, coupled with guidelines. Despite the limitations of my “recipe” Chuck turned out one heck of a delicious chicken soup! Yes, he did ask me to tweak the final seasoning, but that was all I did. Well, besides slowly consuming a very small bowl of the reputed Jewish penicillin!

Oh! Chuck also multi-tasked and made a pot of Basmati rice for me while he was making the soup. My chicken soup is based on my mother-in-law’s, which was rice and noodle free. But tonight we each added a little of the R in my RAT diet to Chuck’s masterpiece and pronounced it delish.

Yes, I know exactly how fortunate I am!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Jeff Barnard died today.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Kathy, who Jeff described as his “angel”.

Jeff was the dean of Central Massachusetts bloggers and Worcester was his special calling.

Two weeks ago Mayor Joe O'Brien and City Councilor Rick Rushton, presented Jeff with the Key to the City.

Now that city, and beyond, mourns his passing.

Thank you for all you gave us Jeff.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Simply The Best!

Thanksgiving Day.
We are giving thanks.

Isabella Rose came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! After 112 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Carrie and Al and their beautiful daughter all slept under the same roof for the very first time.

Over the past week, as possibility turned into reality, the discharge date remained somewhat fluid. Therefore the family’s Thanksgiving Day plans continued to evolve. Had Isabella remained in the NICU through turkey day, we would have all gone out to dinner and then Carrie and Al would have headed back to the hospital. But with Izzy’s discharge, that needed to change because she can’t yet be out and about in the world with the general public.

So this afternoon Chuck and I picked up my Mom and went to Legal Sea Foods in Warwick, Rhode Island. Happily, in addition to their wonderful regular menu, they offered a traditional turkey dinner. The chef did a very nice job: moist turkey, classic sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce and gravy. They also featured an autumn cocktail dubbed The Maple Leaf - bourbon, maple syrup, ginger, lemon and orange juice. It was served in a martini glass and was a terrific accompaniment from the oysters, through the entree, all the way to dessert.

On our last visit to the NICU on Tuesday, Carrie had invited us to stop by their home after our dinner at Legal. The rules at the NICU were pretty simple. Everyone had to scrub up to the elbows upon arrival. Then, during the course of the visit, we would use a hand sanitizer as needed. For example, if I had been using the camera, I would use the hand sanitizer before giving Isabella a finger to squeeze. The discharge nurse and Isabella’s spectacular primary nurse had been very clear about what life at home should be like. Visits to the pediatrician need to be first visit of the morning or afternoon, so as to limit exposure to sick children. No going out in public, no crowds over to the house, no visits with other babies or children and everyone coming into the house needs to wash their hands and “Purell”.

As we walked up the to the house, there was Carrie holding Isabella in her arms, welcoming us through the storm door! Amazing! For the last three and a half months Izzy was always attached to monitors and tethered to the equipment near her incubator and later her crib. Even when her parents or family members held her, it needed to be while sitting in the recliner next to the computer screen which displayed her heart rate, respiration and oxygen levels. Now she was free and her Mom and Dad were obviously delighted! The great surprise was that Isabella seemed extra alert and aware. It was as if she was happily taking in her new surroundings; absorbing the details of “home”.

We had a lovely visit. The overarching feeling was how perfectly normal it all was! None of us would have ever wished for Isabella to be born at just 26 weeks. But the up side of that, is that ever since August 5th, Al and Carrie have had the benefit of hands on training and the advice and guidance of knowledgable nurses and doctors. All of that experience means we saw two very relaxed parents, relishing their newly-home daughter.

Thanksgiving Day.
We are giving thanks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lunch At The Palace

Last week Chuck and I went to “Elvis’s Hot Dog Palace” in Leominster. Seriously. We had heard about the place - er - palace when it was still in Lunenburg, but we had never eaten there. “Elvis’s” is now located in a little strip mall on Mechanic Street; nestled between Consumer Auto Parts and Family Dollar. Inside, the restaurant is crisp and bright but surprisingly plain. The place is immaculate and oddly enough it doesn’t smell of hot dogs nor the wide variety of available toppings.

We approached the counter at the rear of the shop and spotted the large chalkboards with all the menu options. As it should be for a joint called “Elvis’s Hot Dog Palace”, hot dogs dominate, but they also sell burgers, wings, salads and ice cream. The staff was very nice, especially when I confessed we were “Elvis Virgins”! We placed our order and sat down at one of the tables lining the long, narrow space.

Soon our dogs arrived. A Reuben Dog and Thai Dog for Chuck while I had ordered a Rachael Dog and an Arnold Ziffle Deluxe Dog - all grilled. They were yummy! We love Flo’s Hot Dogs up in Maine, so the bar has been set pretty high. Elvis’s has very different dogs from Flo’s. Nor do they seem to have a homemade, signature relish like Flo’s. But before you think I am complaining, let me reassure you that these dogs were very good. And unlike some adventures in hot dog dining (yes, even Flo’s) we had no regrets later in the afternoon!

Which dogs did we like best? That’s a problem. They were all very tasty and very different from each other. If pressed, I would have to say that the Rachael edged out the Deluxe. Chuck thought the Thai was tops and totally out of the box. (Due to the peanut component I had to take his word for it.) With most dogs priced at $2.95, not only is Elvis’s a good place to satisfy your craving for hot dogs, it’s also a heck of a bargain. We’ll be back.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Full Moon

Chuck and I were out walking early this evening when we spotted the full moon rising. And, once again, we’re not sure which one of us took this photograph!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Combos

This weekend I discovered two new combinations of food and drink which were especially enjoyable.

: : Aunt Nellie’s Onions, creamed in the traditional * way with a butter and flour roux, taste quite fine with the addition of well-drained, chopped spinach. I crushed the onions after creaming. Depending on how you tweak the seasoning and what ingredients you add, it can become the tangy, oniony version of spinach-artichoke dip - minus the artichokes!

: : Wild Turkey Liqueur with Honey tastes even zippier with a splash of Limoncello. Definitely good for what ails you - or whatever you imagine might possibly be ailing you, now or in the future! In the interest of science and medicine, I also tried orange liqueur but Cointreau and Grand Marnier didn’t play as well with the WTL.

* Make the butter and flour roux. Slowly add the liquid from the Aunt Nellie’s jar of onions. (Aunt Nellie’s has a more involved recipe for creamed onions on their website. It looks interesting, but has never graced a holiday table in my family!)

Thanks to Ilva and Morgan for asking all the right questions!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The television advertisement for the 2011 Toyota Highlander gives me the creeps. It’s the one with the little kid dissing his parents’ older minivan, as he climbs into another parent’s Highlander. (While complimenting “Mrs. J.” on her choice of ride, he channels a young Eddie Haskell.) The kid’s tagline is: “Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to be lame.” Ouch. The base price range for this SUV is $28,200 to $43,755. Freakin’ A! I’ve got no problem with capitalism and free enterprise, but Toyota, is this really the path you want go down to peddle your wares in a recession?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Izzy Update

: : Isabella Rose now weighs Five Pounds, Four Ounces / 2.4 Killograms!
She is still in the NICU, but all the nurses feel she could well be home by the end of the month. The doctors, on the other hand, won’t even commit to a “target” date. We’re trusting the nurses! ;o)

: : So far I’ve made 56 digi-scrap layouts of Isabella with her family and friends. But I have a long list of layouts yet to be created. In the process, I’ve learned a great deal about Photoshop CS5. I also feel that I have sharpened my eye for photography, video and design. Thank you Izzy!

: : Isabella’s grandmother, my sister Gail, now known as “GG”, flew in from Georgia this afternoon. By now she has held Isabella for the first time and is on cloud nine!

: : From the moment they learned “Bambalina” was on the way, Carrie and Al have been very generous in including their auntie and uncle in all of the excitement. When Carrie delivered Isabella prematurely at just 26 weeks, they welcomed us onto the sometimes frightening roller coaster. We have felt every emotion you would expect. But from the beginning there has always been hope. And throughout it all, even in those first few hours after Isabella’s birth, there has always been laughter.
This has been an amazing experience.
Our hearts are full.
We are so very grateful.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In The Palm Of My Hand

The islands that dot Frenchman Bay off of Bar Harbor, Maine are known (left to right) as: Bar, Sheep, Burnt, Long and Bald. They are known collectively as The Porcupines. Here they are as seen from the top of Cadillac Mountain on a wickedly windy day in October.

You may notice another large island, of a sort, in their midst. That was the Queen Mary 2! The morning had been incredibly foggy. But the QM2 made her way into the bay just after dawn and dropped anchor. Until the fog cleared mid-day, it was impossible to know she was there - with the very notable exception of her horn. As sunset drew near and the tide was out, Chuck and I were down on the rocks below the Shore Path. We decided to play around with perspective. We didn’t get it quite right, but we had a lot of fun!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Green Sea Urchin

Well, it’s really a photograph of the empty test of a Green Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus drobachiensis). This one had come to rest at low tide, in a slight eddy which had formed between two examples of Maine granite. We returned home from Maine just one week ago yesterday. It was a great trip. But it feels as if it were at least a month ago.

Quixotic Me - Again

Fall behind.
Yes, I do recognize the likely futility of my quest to put an end to the artificial and arbitrary manipulation of our time. But here’s my post from three and a half years ago.
A girl can dream can’t she, however impossible that dream might be?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2011 Is Just Around The Corner

If you are looking for a gorgeous 2011 calendar, Ilva Beretta, of the beautiful and delicious food blog Lucullian Delights is selling her calendar over at Red Bubble. A Swedish ex-pat living in Italy, Ilva’s wall calendar features some of her best photographs. Hanging in your kitchen, they are bound to provide you with culinary inspiration - and her recipes are just a few clicks away on her blog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Voted!

Photographs by LMR/Pink Granite & CGR. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Font: BlairMdITC TT Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Kicking Up Her Heels

Isabella is now four pounds, nine ounces (2.06 Kgs), off the oxygen, off the nasogastric tube, out of the incubator and in a crib!

Election Day!

We were talking with Isabella Rose the other day about the election. She can’t leave the NICU yet. But next year, on election day, she’ll be all bundled up and in her mother’s arms in the voting booth. Izzy won’t be able to cast her own ballot until 2028. So today, we have to vote on behalf of Isabella Rose. We have to think about what is important and take the time to go to the polls and vote.

We cannot be complacent.
We cannot be apathetic.
We have to vote as if our lives depended on it, because they do.

If you need information about your polling place here in Massachusetts, go the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Live your values.
Love your country.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tomorrow Is The Big Day!