The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin

Still reading aloud.
Though we’ve been struggling to make the time for this each day.
End of summer traveling was a whirlwind.
Then we had back to school madness last week.
Longer school day here than in NYC.
Plus different bus pick up and school start times. 
There’s also homework, chores and the million other little to-do items
It’s so easy to rush, rush, rush through each day.
Still, we’re committed to our reading streak.
Even if we’re only reading aloud from 7:15-7:30 each morning.
Our last read aloud was “The Princess and the Goblin” by George MacDonald.
This was one of my favorite childhood stories.
I loved the idea of the Princess Irene discovering her magical, mystical grandmother.
I thought the miner boy, Curdie, noble and brave.
I wished I could have a magical ring with a fine thread to lead me the right way in times of danger.
My boys sat through the story.
Sadly, neither seemed particularly excited by the characters or the tale.
Still, I was glad to have the chance to share this book with them.
When it’s my turn to choose our read aloud again,
I intend to read the sequel, “The Princess and Curdie” to them.
There’s a very particular idea in there I want to present to them.
Tell you more about it soon.
I can grill!

I can grill!

I’m ever so proud of myself.
Know why?
‘Cuz I can grill!!
 I can grill without setting the food, myself or the house on fire.
And the food actually tastes good.
This opens up so many new cooking options.
Momsy bought me a gas grill as a housewarming gift.
As always,
So generous & thoughtful.
Thanks Momsy!
But I have to confess:
I was scared of it.
“No worries!”
A friend assured me.
“It’s just like broiling food; only you’re outside.”
Not reassuring.
The one time I tried to broil something, 
I set the food on fire.
Then, in an act of sheer idiocy,
I turned the fan on.
Little flames suddenly grew big ones.
Black smoke billowed out of my oven.
Luckily, we were in a full service condo at the time.
I called the concierge.
Porters & security guys came running to my apartment to rescue me.
Now it’s just my little family and me.
And this big old empty house.
I bet it’s quite flammable.
Couldn’t let my fears bog me down, though.
We’ve invited friends & family to visit over the next few months.
And I’ve promised to grill for them all.
So it was time to grit my teeth and get grilling.
I decided to start this whole grilling thing with veggies.
Big meaty portobello mushrooms.
Crisp asparagus.
A fleshy purple egg plant.
Two zucchini.
Two yellow squash.
Half a red and half a yellow pepper.
Olive oil, pepper and salt to season the vegetables.
Balsamic vinegar to splash on before eating.
And, of course,
A glass or two of red wine to fortify myself.
 Before grilling,
I coated all the vegetables in olive oil.
Then sprinkled with salt and pepper.
I also decided to try out my brother-in-law’s special potato recipe.
Parboiled potatoes.
Chopped bacon & onions (I sauteed these beforehand).
Olive oil, salt & pepper.
Packaged in foil.
 Once the food was prepped,
It was time to grill.
Stationed my bigger boy on the deck for moral support.
He was also assigned the jobs of:
1.  Reading the detailed grilling instructions my brother, Andy, sent me.
2.  Setting the timer when necessary.
3.  Being ready to run for the fire extinguisher should I do something really stupid.
He ended up performing only tasks #1 and #2.
For future reference, here are Andy’s veggie grilling instructions:
1.  Preheat all three burners on closed lid to 400 degrees.
2.  Open.  Reduce heat to medium.
3.  Scrap any carbon off grill surface.
4.  Place veggies on grill.  Cook with closed lid for 3 minutes.
5.  Open lid.  Check.  Turn veggies.  Cook with closed lid another 3 minutes.
6.  Plate it all up & drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.
And here it is.
My first grilled dinner.
All in all, everything turned out really tasty.
Next time I grill vegies, I need to:
1.  Figure out how to coat the oil on everything more evenly.
2.  Cut the peppers in half only.  These were chopped too small and a few fell through the grill.
3.  Leave the potatoes on longer.
Next food item to practice grilling?
Did I ever mentioon how raw meat freaks me out?!
Simply Cushions

Simply Cushions

We’ve turned the corner on working on our house.
The original must-deal-with list has been dealt with.
At least one new thing still goes wrong each week.
(This week’s unpleasant surprise was bats in the crawl spaces)
But we’ve survived the initial overwhelming home ownership learning curve.
I’m moving onto the fun stuff;
Making our house into our home.
And happy, happy me,
This involves crafting, shopping and decorating.
 A big decorating challenge for me is the sheer size of the house.
We’re accustomed to apartment living.
Efficient use of limited space.
Suddenly, we’ve swung to the other extreme.
Big sprawling house.
It swallowed our furniture in one gulp.
And still looked empty.
The temptation is to go shopping and fill up the echoing spaces.
I’m fighting it.
My goals are:
1.  To NOT junk up the house.
2.  To NOT break the bank or be wasteful with my purchases.
3.  To make what I can make.
4.  To buy only what we really love and can use.
5.  To take my time.
6.  To enjoy the process of transforming our space into something uniquely us.
Of course, I have a long find-buy-make list.
But just as with everything else,
I’m tackling it one item at a time.
This week’s project was simply cushions.
I wanted some colorful cushions to liven up the neutral walls, floors and furniture. 
Luckily, I had just thing on hand.
I’m wild about these two gorgeous fabrics.
Bought them at  Mood right before we moved.
Ah, Mood… one of the things I’m missing about NYC…
I also had three 20-inch by 20-inch cushions I wanted to recover.
I didn’t want piping.
Nor did I think zippers in the cushion covers were necessary.
For each cushion, I simply cut two 21-inch by 21-inch pieces of fabric.
Pinned them right sides in.
Sewed the sides together using a quarter inch seam allowance.
Left 14 inches open on one side so I could easily fit the cushion inserts in.
Flipped the fabric right sides out.
Pushed the corners out.
Tucked in the cushion inserts.
Slip-stitched the remaining side closed.
I love it.
Now what shall I make next?
Disneyland 2015

Disneyland 2015

Another trip to California to visit family.
Which means
Another chance to go to Disneyland.
We are one of those families. 
The ones who go to Disney year after year but never tire of it.
This year is “Diamond Disney.”
The big 60 year celebration.
Crowds of people wearing their Mickey ears.
Running for fast passes.
Still standing in long lines.
Eating giant turkey legs.
Trading pins.
Going on ride after ride after ride.
Holding the perfect spot for hours just to see fireworks.
It’s manic.
But every bit of it is part of the Disney experience we love so much. 
 Our favorite show is Fantasmic!
It’s still possible to crowd in at the last moment if you’re ok with only partial views.
But if you’re willing to pay,
I recommend the Fantasmic! Dining Package.
It cost us a full dinner for four at the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
Food was just ok.
But it was worth it for access to the front and center cordoned off viewing space.
We even each got a little foam cushion to take home with us.
Those cushions came in handy the rest of our visit.
We used them to hold street space during our two hour wait for fireworks.
And again for the Paint the Night Parade.
By the way, the parade is awesome.
Kind of a bigger, better, cooler Electric Light Parade.
Two tips if you’re want to watch it:
1.  Wait for the 10:45pm parade.
2.  It’s less crowded by the Matterhorn.
I get more chicken every year.
This visit, I flat refused to get on a single roller coaster or anything that makes me pukey.
I felt a little silly about it until…
I saw my guys on the swinging Ferris Wheel.
The kids were waving wildly at me.
But my poor husband was crouched over with his head buried in his hands.
No puking for me, thank you very much.
Our all time favorite ride is still Midway Mania.
8 rounds this year.
Because we’re still engaged in our annual competition 
And because we do refer back to our scores –
Here they are:
Round 1:
J  223,500
V  139,000
S  162,000
E   94,000
Round 2:
J  190,700
V  143,200
S  162,300
E  122,700
Round 3:
J  226,600
V  149,400
S  166,500
E  133,900
Round 4:
J  209,800
V  150,800
S  162,100
E  130,900
Round 5:
J  238,300
V  137,900
S  185,800
E  101,800
Round 6:
J  236,600
V  148,200
S  155,100
E  117,000
Round 7:
J  236,800
V  158,600
S  162,200
E  121,000
Round 8:
J  220,000
V  166,100
S  163,500
E  135,700
And so ends summer.
End of Summer Break

End of Summer Break

I’m taking a break.
From working on the house.
From endlessly trimming, weeding and watering the garden.
From settling my family into our new community.
Even from my usual beloved making endeavors.
I’ve been:
Riding bikes.
Taking long siestas.
Playing board games with my boys.
Visiting with family.
Floating about the pool.
Watching butterflies.
Discovering birds nests.
Almost time for the kids to go back to school.
Then I’ll have to tackle the recently neglected to-do list.
I’ve been blogging only sporadically all summer…
Promised myself to get back on schedule soon.
To plant things.
Cook things.
Make things.
Share things.
But first…
I”m taking these last weeks of summer to
Indulge in some serious summertime laziness.
Wishing you a happy end of summer.
I’ll be back soon.