Saturday, December 10, 2011

NOT a political post...

But I really felt I wanted to comment on the Occupy Boston movement. They were moved out of Dewey Square this morning, after having been requested to leave on Thursday night. The encampment had become a health hazard, as you can imagine with a group of people living in a small area in tents for 2 months.

I'm not commenting on the movement's ideas, or its goals. I am commenting on what they left behind. Large posters stuck on the side of buildings, mud on the recently landscaped Rose Kennedy Greenway, and a mountain of garbage overflowing garbage bins and trucks. Yes, they tried to clean up after themselves as best they could. However, even that is not enough to avoid large quantities of city services being spent on just this small group. I heard the word "UNFAIR" thrown about by the protesters who were moved out by the police. I consider their use of city services solely for them to be UNFAIR.

I am a fan of the undisturbed exercise of First Amendment rights. However, I also remember what my college Philosophy professor said - your freedom ends where my nose begins. That land belongs to, and is maintained by, the City of Boston. Last time I checked, the City does not have an abundance of resources to spend cleaning up after one specific group of people. All city and town budgets are tight. For whatever reason - and debate those reasons as you will - those resources are now having to be used to clean up, replant, and rehabilitate an area that looked quite lovely and inviting when I last walked by there in July. Now it looks like a mud pit, with no chance of any replanting until Spring. So if I walk by there through the winter, I will see eroding soil being washed into the street because the grass that was planted to hold the soil in place is now gone.

Boston runs out of money to plow the streets every year. It's the nature of budgeting, to budget a lower amount for snow removal than the city might realistically need. It's a tactic that avoids budget line-item overages, and maintains at least that amount in the budget for the following year. At any rate, the money is gone by early March in a light year, and by the beginning of February in a heavy snow year. Last winter, the money was gone by the end of January, and we got a whole bunch more snow after that.

Now, imagine the money that was used for the Dewey Square cleanup coming from that snow removal budget. It has to come from somewhere, and it's not like this was a budgeted expense. So, because the protesters wanted to live in tents in Dewey Square for 2 months, I will have to climb over snowbanks to cross the street, because the city can't afford to clear the streets properly?

Thanks, protesters. You made the point that protesters even impact those who don't want to get involved with your protest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More FOs

February Lady Sweater I made for my mother for last Christmas

Tea cozy, made from local yarn (from Brewster):

Charity hats (I experiment when I knit for charity!)

A wrap made from angora fur, combed from an angora bunny named William. I call it, well, William.

Some FOs (finished objects, for you Muggles)

Horrible picture, but I made fingerless gloves out of alpaca.

Malabrigo cowl:

Wool Peddler Shawl, out of Cascade 220:

Cabled hat, for charity

Tonight's dinner

Fried ham steak and mashed Yukon Gold potatoes. GOOD stuff! I like to fry up the ham steak in olive oil until one side is almost crispy, and I boil the potatoes with the skins on, then mash them with butter and half and half, on the plate. So good, and warm comfort food.

I'd post a picture, but I ate it all already! ;)

Monday, November 28, 2011

More great food...

This one is from the Betty Crocker International Cookbook. I've been making it for years, and it's a family favorite.

Greek Chicken

4 chicken pieces (thighs or breast halves)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon diced garlic - I use diced garlic from a jar. I think the equivalent is about 3 to 4 garlic cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients except chicken. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan. Place the chicken skin-side up on top of the oil mixture. Pour the remaining mixture over the chicken. Put pan in the oven, bake for 20 minutes, turn chicken. Bake another 20 minutes, turn chicken. Bake 20 minutes.

I serve this with rice pilaf, or chicken flavored rice mix, and a Greek salad. Very easy and yummy!

Tonight I had this with Chicken Rice-A-Roni and marinated artichokes. It also makes good leftovers. I'd like to figure out a way to get the sauce under the skin, though - the sauce is really the best part, and it all stays on the skin. When the skin is gone, the sauce flavor is, too. If you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window ... people are getting ready to start their day. Children are heading to the school down the street, cars are starting up, birds are waking up in the tree outside the window, and, since it's Friday, people are bringing their garbage and recycling to the curb.

I am thinking ... about all those who don't have the blessings I do. I pass homeless people every day on my way into school and work, begging, holding out their coffee cups, rattling the change in them, hoping for charity from a stranger. Some are angry, some are cheerful, some are sneaky (hold the door for me when I enter the store, then ask if I can give them some change on the way out). I feel bad when I can't (or won't) give them anything, since I'm so blessed. I also know that giving them money is not necessarily a good thing.

I am thankful ... that I have the life I have. Somewhere to live (two places, if you count the rented apartment near school), something interesting to do with my days, friends who sustain me, family that I love and who love me, plenty of food, warm clothes.

In the kitchen ... coffee is hot and fragrant, and oatmeal is waiting for my breakfast.

I am wearing ... a pink sleeveless sundress I threw on so I could bring my own garbage out to the curb. Not the best choice - it's in the 50s outside - but I was only out for a few minutes.

I am creating ... knitted things. A purple Wool Peddler's Shawl, finishing up my Lady Eleanor shawl, thinking about starting another pair of wool socks for the winter, planning more hats, scarves, mittens, socks as Christmas gifts. With fall comes more knitting!

I am going ... to the Cape for the weekend, to get more winter clothes, yarn, and knitting projects. Then I'm thinking of doing something fun this weekend. Museum of Science? Museum of Fine Arts? Quincy Market, to drink coffee and people watch? So many possibilities!

I am wondering ... how my son and daughter-in-law are doing. I wish I lived closer to them so I could see them more often.

I am reading ... cases and treatises on Assisted Reproductive Technology, Bargaining for Advantage, and Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods.

I am hoping ... to finish all my school stuff tonight, so I can have a relaxing weekend.

I am looking ... forward to football on Sunday! I love football.

I am hearing ... birds in the trees outside the house, cars going by, the bus every 20 minutes, and the garbage truck on the next block.

Around the house ... my cat is settling into the new place, and I am settling in after moving for the first time in 17 years.

One of my favorite things ... is to sleep in on my days off. I wish I could.

A few plans for the rest of the week ...: Charlestown District Court to copy a file for work, school work, meeting friends for coffee, meeting friends for lunch, classes, research, school work (I know I said that twice. There's a lot of school work).

Here is picture for thought I am sharing ...

Fall is on its way...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The last year begins

Today begins my last year of law school. I'm hoping this one will be slightly easier than the last two, but I really know better. It will be hard, in a different way than the other years have been. I'll be doing a Battered Women's clinical and a bar prep course, that basically means I have a 6-day-a-week schedule. I'm actually moving this time, up to Cambridge. Because my step-son isn't on the Cape, I'll be closing up the house and bringing the cat and plants with me. I'll be back on the merry-go-round of too much caffeine, too little sleep, and really bad food.

The good part is that I have a paying gig this year, clerking for an attorney in Boston. It's interesting work, and he and I get along very well, so that makes it less like work. Living closer to school will also make it easier for me to get the rest I need, and will save wear and tear on my car. It will also mean that I'm less reliant on my car, so if it craps out, I can still get to school. If the weather is bad, I can still get to school. Fewer excuses = fewer absences from class = (I fervently hope!) higher grades.

I'm looking forward to my last year, despite the drawbacks I listed above. It's geeky fun, I have some wonderful friends, and a new and familiar place to live, which is always fun for me. The moving sucks, but the newness is nice.

I set my year up as best I could with a wonderful, relaxing visit to my son and daughter-in-law, in south Jersey. They are great people, and I always enjoy visiting with them. We mostly sat around and talked with each other, which is so wonderful. No racing around, no place to be, just enjoying each other's company. Perfect. Oh, and a good long nap every day. Just what I needed.

Off and running again!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life has its turns, doesn't it?

My step-son went back to jail last night. The short version, and the only version I'll put on the web, is that he violated his parole and was taken back to jail. That sucks. No other word for it. It sucks. He was upset, I was upset, his sister, my mother, all of us were upset at this development.

Now for the heartwarming part of the story. I spent last night and this morning on the phone and email, letting the family know. I talked with my step-daughter, his sister, for a long time, and we're at peace, knowing we did all we could for him. I went to see my mother, to tell her in person, and talked with her a long time. She, too, helped where she could, and is at peace with what she was able to do for him. I talked with my son, who also held me up, and with my significant other, who did the same. What I find so heartwarming is that I have so many people to turn to for support. I haven't even scratched the surface - I've only talked with immediate family so far, including my sisters. One sister called me this morning to say how sorry she is at this turn of events. We had a wonderful talk. Today, I'll start calling the friends who need to know. I expect the same reaction from them - sadness at his relapse, support for me, encouragement in whatever path I choose to take next.

I'm counting my blessings this morning. Despite the heart-soreness I'm feeling (the only description I can come up with), I have so much support and love in my life, that I really do feel blessed.

At least now, if he goes back to court, I know what the process will consist of. A slight benefit of studying law.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More food stuff...

The next old favorite I made was for dinner tonight. I usually make this in the summer, when the veggies are nice and fresh. It's also quick and easy, so it doesn't heat up the kitchen too much. I usually serve it with grilled burgers or chicken, and maybe some pasta. It's also fabulous with swordfish steaks.

Summer veggies:

1 zucchini, sliced
1 summer squash, sliced
1 onion, sliced in half from root to tip, then sliced into half rounds
4 oz. sliced mushrooms (I like baby Bellas, but any mushrooms are good)
2 tomatoes, diced up into large pieces
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook gently until soft; add the other veggies. Stir around to coat with the oil. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft. Take the lid off and add a tablespoon or so of butter.

Tonight, I added two small pieces of cod on top of the veggies, in the last 5 minutes of cooking. WOW that was good! I have also added a small handful of couscous in the past, too - this ends up with some lovely juices that absorb into the couscous nicely. Enjoy!

Food stuff!

I don't get to cook much these days, but sometimes I do get a little time to make an old favorite. This week, I had two chances, since I had a few days off to study for my final on Thursday. It was a treat!

I made my mother's macaroni and cheese casserole, with a few substitutions. I could only make it in July because I was in an air-conditioned house at the time - mine isn't, so I have to wait until the cold weather, usually. It really was a treat for me, since it's my favorite dish.

The recipe calls for elbows, but all I had in the house was spaghetti, so that's what went in. I also had a kielbasa in the fridge that needed to be cooked, so in that went, too. It was really good!


1 lb. macaroni elbows, boiled for half the time listed on the box
12 oz. or so sharp cheddar cheese (yellow makes a nicer contrast, but white tastes the same to me), cut into 1" cubes.
3 eggs, beaten, in a 4-cup measure; to this add enough milk to make 3 1/2 cups.
Butter - about 2 - 3 Tbsp.

Put the cooked pasta in a 2-quart casserole, and toss with the butter. Add the cheese and toss. Pour the milk mixture in, without mixing. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

If you really want decadence, you could mix 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of melted butter and toss that on top before baking. VERY rich, and NOT low-calorie, but oh, so good!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spring may be coming after all! Someday...

When I went in my kitchen this morning, I looked out the window and saw birds! A whole flock of fat robins, clustered around my bare hedge, and flipping through the dead leaves on the ground below. What a welcome sign of spring! I turned to make coffee, and turned back to the window -- the flock was gone, maybe startled by my movement in the window. Well, I thought, at least I had one sign. Then I noticed a flutter in the leaves on the ground -- one robin had stayed to flip through the leaves and look for food. As I watched him shuffling through the leaves, more robins came back, until the entire hedge was covered with them again. They were eating the berries that grew on the weedy vine that engulfed my hedge last summer. I so enjoyed hearing them chirp and call to each other. Made me feel like spring is not as far away as I have felt it is lately.

I've been a little down this week; I think the weather has gotten to me. It's certainly not my classes or internship - I've been enjoying them very much. It's not anything else that I could pinpoint; I had a wonderful chat with my son this week, had lunch with a dear friend, had time to do a little knitting. It must be the cold. Winter always messes with me around February.

Some lessons I got from this little vignette:
Sometimes I need to be patient - what I want to see will take a bit to reveal itself.
In nature, especially, change is constant. Spring will come, even if sometimes it feels very far away. Life is that way, too.
What seems like a weed to me may nourish something else.
Oh, and don't make coffee when I'm thinking about robins. I made a mess - spilled the grounds on the counter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Soup!

I just love soup in the winter, especially when it uses up stuff in my fridge that I need to use! I just put a pot of Apple Squash soup on to cook. I adapted the recipe from Clean Food, a favorite cookbook by Terry Walters (website here)

Most of the recipes are of the vegan variety, so I adapt them to what I have on hand. In this case, I used turkey stock instead of vegetable stock, since it's been in my freezer since Thanksgiving. I also added lowfat milk instead of rice milk, and used 1 1/2 squashes (is that right?), since that's what I had in my freezer. I also used 5 apples instead of 4. I really don't think it will matter all that much, since it all gets blended together in the end!

Doesn't this look good? The specks are nutmeg. I debated tinkering some more, and adding Apple Pie Spice, since that's what I add to my mashed butternut squash at the holidays, but I decided to stick with at least one aspect of the recipe! The full recipe. Enjoy!

Soup is fun! Filling! Nutritious! And just plain yummy...

New Beginnings...

The new semester begins on Monday, so in the interests of cleaning up before I get bogged down with school again, I'm just going to jot down a few stray thoughts that have been wandering around in my head.

I just realized recently that the voice on the Binder & Binder commercials is Dick Summer, who used to broadcast on a local radio station at night. I have a book of his poetry that he wrote to accompany his radio show. Funny how I remember voices all these years later -- it's like a scent -- its impression stays much longer than I realize. And yes, I have been watching a lot of TV this vacation. Why do you ask?

I really love good coffee. I recently had a cup of Starbucks Ethiopian, and I loved it. Shame it costs twice that of a regular Pike's Peak roast -- that's an indulgence that will have to wait until I'm in the ranks of the earning again!

I've been on a WIP clearing kick lately. I've finished 3 or 4 projects that have been languishing for over a year. My friend Lis calls this a "burst of creative energy." That's exactly how this feels. I had a second sock to finish that had been sitting for about 18 months -- I finally frogged it, started over on Saturday, and I just finished turning the heel last night at knit night. Isn't it amazing how quickly I can move on something when I'm in the creative groove!

My cat loves catnip. Simply loves it. Almost as much as I love coffee. Just for fun, I rolled one of her toys in my little tub of catnip last night. She didn't disappoint me -- she was rolling around like a kitten, flipping the toy around, jumping after it, rubbing her face on it... it was very cute. For a 13 year old cat who sleeps 95% of her day away, she was almost animated!

I am really excited for this semester. I'm taking classes that I want to take, that interest me, and that will help my future practice. That's a nice change from taking required "base" courses. I also have Pro Bono work scheduled at the Suffolk Probate Court two days a week. That's just as exciting to me -- I love working with clients. It is, after all, the reason I'm doing this.

I want to travel more this summer. I miss seeing new places and learning about new people. At the least, I can go to local places I've never been. Maybe Vermont.

End of brain dump. I'm going to pour another cup of coffee.

Happy New Year!