Saturday, March 22, 2014

Random 5 Friday on Saturday

Two posts in one day. How did I keep my mouth shut most of the week?

Right. Exhaustion.

1. Was that my mother I saw this past week? Hi, mom. Also, aunts! I saw the aunts. Isn't it funny how you can look in the mirror on a daily basis and be surprised by the person looking back at you, but people who've known you since grass began to grow still look the same?

2. I'm glad to be home. As in OH MY GOSH, I'm really, really glad to be home doing absolutely nothing, cooking nothing, buying nothing, driving nothing and not having to deal with anyone in any way whatsoever. Yay.

3. I am looking out the window and I see squirrels trying hard to find something to eat underneath the bird feeder. That makes me feel bad. I went to the store to buy bird seed this morning and had to have someone's husband lift the 50-pound bag into my cart. I used to be able to do that myself. What the heck?

You can only barely see one, but there are three squirrels under that bird feeder out yonder.

4. I bought painting materials again today. A girlfriend's son lent me some watercolor pencils a couple weeks ago and I want to play with those again. I don't want to keep his supplies forever...well, yea, I do. But I won't because that would be wrong. Right? So I will fool around with that. And my mom let me bring home some paint. I don't know - acrylic? oil? tempera? I have no idea. It's paint. I bought a paintbrush. I'm not sure, but I keep trying.

A little something I did on canvas with colored pencils

5. As much as I want to believe I don't have anything to do this weekend, there is a list: 1. read old newspapers; 2. paint stuff; 3. do laundry; no, that will keep; 4. fill bird feeders; 5. bubble bath; 6. church; 7. nap. Pretty sure that's it.

 Hard to believe it: some of these photos shamelessly taken from Google images. 

It's over and I'm home, sweet home

I slept like a rock last night. Then I got up, ate breakfast and got in the car to be in the sunshine and do some errands, but nothing taxing or obligatory. I bought bird seed. I bought watercolor painting paper because I've got this crazy idea that I'm an artist or something. I bought a loaf of bread.


I am currently drinking a beer and eating Cheez-its in a fit of feeling like I don't care what anybody thinks or what I think or what my summer might look like. Because it's still winter outside: 33 degrees and a wailing wind straight out of Canada.

I get to blame Canada for my chubby thighs on this summer's runs.

When all those chores were finished, I went to the library and they had another art exhibit. So I took photos for you.

Almost all of these are for sale:


 Hog House Clerestory

No name or price on this, so I am calling it, "Hook." 


Prairie Princess with Queen 

Stained Glass #3 


Wagon Trail 

This one also doesn't have a name.

In honor of the theme of today's post, take a minute and smile through this video from the Peterson Brothers of Kansas. And please please take note of their FANTASTIC wardrobe: Go 'Cats!! Woot!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An update from the end of the circus

I've had fun. Mostly. I hope they've had fun. Mostly.

You have to wonder at times: what will they remember? do they care? was it worth it? what caused them to shut down and be moody? did I do that?

We go home tomorrow.

Not everything went perfectly, but nothing went to heck, either. I think that has to count as a victory.

Look at that face. Currently not speaking to me.

Look at that face. Tuesday night I was not speaking to him.

99% guaranteed to make me laugh and smile.

Ten hours to get home. I will miss them when it's all over with.

This one landed the space shuttle on only his second try! Of the four of us, he is the only one who didn't have  a mood.

When we get home, I'm going to sleep all weekend.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday windows and music for me

Sunday was my day. I went to the Dayton Art Institute's music room which I never knew was there. It's a beautiful old room with some large tapestries and a beautiful ceiling. There was soft lighting and a lot of warm wooden features. I have so many questions about the history of the building, but answers on the internet seem a little sparse. I always think some time I will find the time to dig in, but I haven't yet. The symphony stuffed themselves onto a small stage and featured solo performances by area high school students.

You would imagine these kids were mature professional musicians when you hear them play. It was a good concert. The lighting was such that I didn't get any good photos.

But after that concert, I had time to wander around the museum before heading to the next concert.

This is in the museum. I don't know why, but the building has a cloister. Wikipedia says: A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth.

So the entrance has a beautiful door. This is the inside.

 This is the door from the outside. It doesn't open right out to the cloister, but to more of a courtyard.

This is a photo of one of a series of three big windows looking out of a gallery onto Dayton. It always looks better in person. I've photographed it before

The Art Institute now has a nice restaurant. I ate there in December. There is a lot of natural light. 

 This window is in the building near the cloister. From what I've read, the museum was once a private home. Maybe there is more to the history of the place!

I left the Art Institute and drove over to the neighborhood my dad once lived in. At the church they have a historic organ, one of only two that survive from the early 20th century in Dayton. I think there were six back then. They're huge and lovely to look at. I wanted to see the church again and hear the organ, but I had no idea what I was in for.

I was sitting under this window. I didn't want to distract anyone with my flash. I took photos with my camera, but I'm in a hurry this morning. Whatever - the point is that the concert was out of this world. It was based, historically, off the 1920 organ dedication concert. I was amazed at the delicate notes and the softness such an organ, played by a real professional, can produce. The soprano solos were breathtaking and at the end of Schubert's Ave Maria, my heart was pounding! There was also violin solo, which was fantastic. 

I'm trying to get the three of them ready to leave for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is at least 3 hours away. Now I have to go yell at someone. They move so slowly. Have a good day!

Road trip and circus

Saturday morning we took off bright and early. We drove through the middle of town and saw the most beautiful sunrise. Even the boys were impressed. Unfortunately, we all agreed the photo did nothing to convey the beauty.

We got going on time, which I counted as a victory. The boys feel asleep in shifts: victory. A family friend lent us a double-screen portable DVD player: victory.

Watching a movie:

Checking messages:

Sleeping. Poor thing didn't have a pillow:

It is difficult to get a photo of the oldest. He's hiding behind the pizza box lid. But here we are eating Vic Casano's pizza at grandma's house.

So that was the trip. It went really well and we made excellent time stopping only three times for gas and food. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Random 5 Friday

I have compiled a Random 5 for you today, which makes this the opposite of random, but I assure you the ideas came to me quite randomly and you'll need to be content with that.

1. I sorted out my jewelry box this morning. I keep a host of items in a little wooden box next to my bathroom sink, where I take off my jewelry every day. Periodically it becomes choked with the jewels and I need to put things back where they belong. That was this morning. I was feeling extra organizy because I'm leaving tomorrow with three teenagers for spring break and I needed to exert some control over my space.

Here's what I found in the jewelry box that I thought might interest some of you.

2. Speaking of getting ready for spring break this morning, as I was on my way to work, I was overcome with a desire to get all my errands done beforehand. I feel relaxed about that decision. Here I am getting my filthy dirty car washed. I still need to wash the inside windshield. Why does that darn thing get so filmy?

Yes, I took this just for you! 

3. I bought a little mirror for my office. Here's my homey corner. The plant on top of the radio is dead, but I can't bring myself to let it go. I was babysitting it for my mother-in-law. Oops.

4. Since I was showing you my office and since I have shown you my little winter scenes of joy at my desk, I thought I'd show you my pathetic St. Patrick's Day display. You'd think for the all the Irish language, etc., I would be better prepared. Alas, I am not. Oh and hey, hi! That's Grande sticking her booty out in the photo. It's really an innocent little photo of the two of us sticking our heads into the mouth of a lion. As you do.

5. Lastly, this is what I did at lunch today also because I knew I needed a little down time before I began the spring break circus and road trip.

First, I used ink to put flowers on a paper. Mind you, watercolors are new to me. These are watercolor pencils, which seem friendlier and less intimidating. This is my very first endeavor with the new ... what? the new medium? the tools? what do artists call that?

I like it OK, but what I quickly discovered is that the ink is not impervious to water. I hadn't thought that through. So I was gingerly applying the water to the areas where I had applied the color. I think it worked out OK, but obviously not what I had in mind. Being the smart person I am, after I did this, I went to the google machine and learned that you should do the color first, let it dry, then apply the ink. India ink and bamboo is the technique, but I'm sitting at my desk with a felt-tip marker. The result is completely different:

Have a good Friday! I'll be in touch over the spring break road trip and circus.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The (not-so-great) Scotch disaster of 2014

This may look like a recipe post, but it isn't! The other weekend I decided to use up some things in my pantry. Like this:

I found a recipe in an old cookbook for something yummy and simple called Scotch Teas.

Click on it if you need to embiggen it and see the recipe a little better. It's so simple, I whipped it up in no time and it felt glorious making cookies on the stovetop instead of the Kitchenaid - something new!

It was at this point I realized there was nothing binding the oats together in any sort of union. It was each oat for himself just like in the bag, only now they were warm and had a tasty covering.

They came out of the oven sort of set up, but don't be fooled. I was right there looking at it in close-up view and I knew the oats weren't interested in staying together. But I tried anyway and bravely went to work with a pizza cutter trying to get cuts to equal 4 dozen (wow, that's a lot in a 9x13 pan).

They were falling apart already and I regret to inform you, I had a Scotch disaster on my hands:

These were not bound together by anything more than a whispered promise. The corners were good, though. I ate some. Naturally.

I thought about saving this mess for something yummy in the future:

I optimistically bagged it up and threw it all in the freezer. It crumbled easily into single oats as you can well see. One oat at a time there in the bag. I had confident visions of throwing it into and onto a coffee cake, but now I'm not so sure.

I suppose the oats weren't quick cooking and if they had been, the oats would have gamely soaked up some of the caramel in the hot saucepan. I'm not sure if that's the answer to the disaster - - is that what went wrong?

I may try again with half the recipe in an 8x8 pan because butter is expensive. And I may sound cheap, but we run through butter and eggs as though we were feeding a family of five at my house.

In the meantime and at any rate, I have a lot of something I'm not sure what to do about.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I made bacon jam and you should, too

I meant to blog at you yesterday, but I got busy at work and somehow that seemed a little more pressing. It got in the way of this important public service announcement: You need to make bacon jam.

I'll start by linking to the bacon jam recipe. I'll include it below.

When I first made it, and I'm thinking this was the third time I made it, I thought it was a little much going on all at once. But this time everything went pretty well and I'll tell you why: I discovered bacon ends.

Also, it helped that I had 1.5 pounds of bacon ends thawing in the refrigerator.

Making this recipe with slices of bacon is painful and tedious and greasy. I had bacon ends left over from the my first attempt, which turned out to be divine, but I also used the aforementioned slices of bacon. A mistake. Somehow I had some pieces of bacon ends left over, which surprised me, but maybe I thought somehow the slices were paramount to the recipe.

They are not. 

The second time I made the recipe, I bought a five-pound box of bacon ends and then painstakingly and tediously stood there with my kitchen shears cutting off the fat from most, but not all of it. It was worth the sore feet I got because I didn't have grease floating in the air while the bacon cooked and I had spare parts for the freezer.

I put all the thawed bacon ends into a soup pot and stirred it now and then.

I dumped the finished bacon into my big Crockpot. You can see there is still some fat in there. Maybe too much. The recipe calls for rendering the fat. For more on that, read this.

While that was cooking, I got busy chopping up two onions and some garlic. I've learned to use a few cloves more garlic than the recipe calls for.

I had almost no fat in the pan, so I had to throw in a little olive oil/butter combination. The onions got to know the oils and turned into this: 

pretty, isn't it?

I threw in the rest of the ingredients and if you're a squeamish cook, you might think this must be awful. The more adventuresome will look at the list and think something along the lines of "Wagons, Ho!" and what not. 

Real maple syrup, cider vinegar, brown sugar and coffee get boiled a little and then everything is put in the Crockpot. 

Turn the Crockpot on high and let it live there uncovered so the liquid boils off. It takes hours for this to happen. Toward the end, I use my stick blender to chop everything into bits and then I taste test it. This batch needed to be sweeter and didn't have complexity, so I used some instant coffee and brown sugar. I just threw it in there and let it sit a bit longer on the heat. It turned out fine. 

Someone might think to put this in a blender, but have you ever tried to blend bacon? I have a regular blender and I'm sure it isn't up to the job. The recipe says you can use a food processor, but My stick blender is perfectly capable and keeps me from transferring hot liquids and putting a lid on hot liquids and so on. 

I'm not that talented.

What do you do with this? One of my favorite things to do with bacon jam is serve it on toasted dense bread. You can stir it into avocado, corn, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, etc. You can dress up a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheeseburger. You can spread it into a stromboli or top a pizza. You can do anything with it you want! Vanilla ice cream...O! I haven't done that before. That could be amazing. 


  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into smallish dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real deal, please)


1. In a large skillet over mediumish heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plates to drain.
2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from the skillet and reserve for another use. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the bacon and stir to combine.
3. If making this on a stove top, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 
If making this in a slow-cooker, transfer the mixture to a 6-quart slow-cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
4. Let the bacon concoction cool slightly before transferring it to a food processor and pulsing until coarsely chopped. Spoon the bacon lusciousness into individual jars or other resealable containers and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Transfer to a pan and rewarm gently over low heat prior to indulging.