Tuesday Tunes: My Favorite Things

 I recently read an article on holiday entertaining.  It suggested having a “Favorite Things” party, where everyone brings and shares a favorite item with the other partygoers.  The gifts don’t have to be expensive– just something you really love: a simple kitchen gadget, a fun nail polish, or a special tea.  Well, since my December is already fairly busy, I won’t […]

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Friday Farm Favorites: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these […]

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The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing

This recipe for homemade dressing or stuffing has been passed down through the generations of my family:  Great-grandmother Rieley, Great Aunt Florence, Grandma Rieley, Mom, and me.  My family’s recipe for dressing has been modified minimally over the years and continues to be a favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner.   It’s even better on the second day due to the flavors melding together.  The dressing re-heats easily, or just eat it cold–right out of the refrigerator.  That’s how I enjoy it best! The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing *Use organic ingredients whenever possible Ingredients: 1 loaf white bread (I use gluten-free) 1 stick salted butter 2 cups finely diced celery 2 cups finely diced yellow onion 3/4 bag of best quality seasoned stuffing mix (Mom uses Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing; I use Rudi’s Gluten-Free Savory Herb Stuffing) 2 cups of broth (vegetable, turkey or chicken) Method: Tear bread into small pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet, loosely covered with foil.  Next, broil breadcrumbs for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping a close check so as not to burn them.  Finely dice celery and onion.  Place stick of butter in skillet and sauté celery and onion at 300 degrees F. for five minutes; don’t overcook celery and onion, leaving a bit crunchy as they will continue to cook when baked.  Add broiled bread crumbs, two cups each of sautéed celery and onion, 3/4 bag of seasoned herb stuffing mix […]

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Tuesday Tunes: A Girl Like You

Birth of Venus  by Sandro Botticelli, 1486 Uffizi Gallery Florence, Italy         Liberty of Poetry by Pio Fedi, 1870 Santa Croce Florence, Italy   Atop playwright Giovanni Battista Niccolini’s tomb in the basilica of Santa Croce is a statue remarkably similar to New York’s Statue of Liberty. Both depict a woman in neoclassical robes with a crown of […]

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Shopping Local

     If you’re a woman, then you know that shopping for jeans is never fun. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever enjoyed.  If I can, I prefer to shop online and hope that my order fits.  I’d rather avoid the whole standing undressed in a fitting room under those garish, fluorescent lights. You know what I’m talking about…that horrible light that emphasizes any and all imperfections.  I mean, you can have a mostly positive body image before entering a dressing room, but afterward, forget it! My weight happens to be fairly in line with my height, and I exercise regularly; however, after spending time in a dressing room, I sometimes feel like I need to subsist on water and celery for a day or two.      The terrible lighting is just one aspect of the whole unpleasant experience.  I don’t know why, but I can never find another pair of jeans that fits the same as the exact pair purchased at an earlier date. They’re either way too long, have a weird cut, or so tight I can’t breathe.  Who, exactly, are clothing companies making these jeans for anyway? Barbie and her friends?  In the bell curve of women buying jeans, I just don’t see the mean group being 6 feet tall and 100 pounds. But, hey, that’s just my perspective.      Anyway, the reason I’m rambling on about jeans is that I needed some. I wear […]

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More Treat Than Trick: Sauternes and Sage Jelly

Growing up in the country and on a farm, it was commonplace to preserve as much of the summer’s harvest as possible. My parents and grandparents worked all spring, summer, and fall planting gardens, picking vegetables, tending fruit trees, picking berries, and then canning, freezing, and storing much of it for future use.  I can still see kitchen counters covered with Mason jars of green beans, tomatoes, and black raspberry jam, and the beauty of the jewel-tone colors as the sun shone through the glass and its hard-earned contents. It’s because of this seasonal tradition that I observed and participated in as a child that I appreciate the work that goes into preserving as well as the delight in enjoying something homemade. That’s why I love using a familiar recipe or even finding a new one each year to preserve something special to share. So, when I was leafing through epicurious cooking magazine recently and discovered a recipe for wine jelly–specifically, Sauternes and sage jelly, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve made fruit jams and jellies, pickles, and even chutney in the past, but I’ve never tried making wine jelly–until now.  The cooking magazine raved about this jelly, describing it as “sophisticated and subtle.”  It also stated that it was a delicious substitute to the green mint jelly that traditionally accompanies lamb. Actually, this sublime jelly is wonderful with any roasted or grilled meat and is a fantastic […]

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Honey Hen: Little Chicken, Big Impression

Having just fed the barn kitties, I headed toward the chicken coop to gather eggs.  On the way, I stopped and looked up, closing my eyes. I stood for a moment, letting the warmth of the afternoon sun wash over me.  When I opened my eyes, I saw an autumn sky that was clear blue with wisps of clouds like white gossamer.  The burnt colors of foliage lining the sheep paddock caught my attention; too little rain late in the summer had muted the usual fiery, fall palette.  It was still a lovely sight, and it was perfect weather for Honey Hen to be outside in the fresh air.  But then, I remembered. Honey Hen, a pet chicken unable to walk well or lay eggs anymore, had become part of my day-to-day routine.  Although she didn’t have perfect mobility, Honey was still a fairly healthy, hearty bird.  She enjoyed being outdoors in her favorite spot near the corncrib that Great-grandaddy Rieley built as well as pecking at clover and fanning out her wings in the sunshine.  Everyday I prepared a plate of fruit and vegetables for her–especially when she couldn’t go outside.  On warm days, when Honey was able to go out, I constantly checked to make sure she was in close proximity to her food and water as well as near a source of shade; and, on cold days, I turned on the heat lamps in the coop for […]

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