Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Heart Faces Furry Face Entry

For this week's I Heart Faces challenge I am entering the lovely Alexandra's photo.  She posed so pretty for this and I want to share her photo.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Conundrum of Being Retired

When I first retired last year, I had these great ideas that my house would always be clean, all projects would be done and the towels would always be folded.  I used to take off work early sometimes to clean the house because I hated when things weren't done.  So why is it now that I have lots of time to do these things they aren't done?  I no longer feel the need to fold clothes, dust furniture or wash dishes just because those are the jobs that are waiting for me.  It seems now I am more interested in editing photos or catching up on my favorite TV shows.  On one hand, I feel like I should be doing housework and on the other, I think - what the heck I can do it tomorrow.  Ah, the life of the retired.  Do I really care?  I don't know.  Maybe I do, I need to get off of the computer and go clean the bathroom.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ocean City in the Offseason

Last weekend I went to Ocean City MD for the big crafts fair they have there every year the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I suppose some people wouldn't even think of going to an ocean resort town in the offseason, but for me it's my favorite time to go.  I've never been a sunbather and I can't stand waiting in the lines for two hours in the hot sun trying to get into some restaurant in the middle of July.  In the offseason, most of the places are open on the weekends.  There are plenty of places open on the boardwalk and you have your choice of restaurants without the summer lines.  The traffic is pretty great too compared to what it's like in the summer.  Of course, I always have my camera and Fall sunrises over the ocean and sunsets over Assawoman Bay are the prettiest.

Gorgeous Sunrise

Sunset over Bay

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Road Trip Friday - Wilmington DE

Crab Nachos

Old Bay Steampot
Yesterday a friend and I went to Wilmington Delaware for the afternoon, specifically to go to Joe's Crab Shack.  I guess the Joe's commercials on TV are working if they entice me to drive 75 miles for lunch.  Joe's is located in the Wilmington Waterfront area which is really nice.  They have several restaurants, outlet stores and also the ballpark for the minor league baseball team the Wilmington Blue Rocks.  If you have a large lunch, this is a nice place to walk off some calories and look at the seagulls and boats and do a little shopping.

So, as far as my restaurant review - if you ever have a chance to eat at Joe's you should definitely go.  It's a quirky looking place that has so much stuff on the walls you can't even see the walls.  I had to laugh at the bathrooms - Dudes and Babes.  The food is huge.  No skimpy portions here.  The steampots are delicious with crab legs, potatoes, sausage, clams and corn and come in different flavors with different kinds of crab.  Being from Baltimore, I had to have the Old Bay steampot.  You have to try the crab nachos.  Unbelievable!  I also had hush puppies and clam chowder that were equally good.   It ended up being a little expensive, over $80.00 for two with tax and tip but you could get away with spending less if you don't try to eat everything on the menu.  The way I feel about it though, is if you're going to drive 150 miles round trip to go to lunch, why not splurge a bit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shenandoah National Park - Skyline Drive VA

It was a beautiful day last Friday for the Veterans Day holiday.  Took a trip to the Shenandoah National Park and drove about 40 miles on Skyline Drive.  The park had free admission for Veterans Day so no $15.00 fee.  It was a little late for fall leaf viewing but there were still some pretty sights.  Saw this little deer and a huge buck with antlers.  Hoped to see a bear but no luck.  The scenic overlook was very pretty as the town looked like a Christmas garden.   



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Photos at the Reservoir

Today I took a trip to the Loch Raven Reservoir which is in Northern Baltimore County.   This is a reservoir that provides drinking water for the City of Baltimore and most of Baltimore County, Maryland.  The dam was constructed in 1914 to increase the municipal water supply.  When it was built, an entire town was submerged under it. 

It's a great recreational area with lots of hiking paths and picnic tables.   When I was a kid, we would ride our bikes there and feed the fish.  They had huge carp in the reservoir back then.  You also were able to walk right out to the ledge by the water, but that's closed off now.  Probably a few people fell in over the years.

On the way there, I stopped at a country store and bought a banana nut muffin for lunch.  When I got to the dam I gave some of it to the gulls and the geese.  This gull was upset because he didn't get any.  Then a goose stuck his beak in the bag, which I had left on the ground, and he got the wrapper.  I had to chase him to get the wrapper back.   It was a pretty day, felt like Indian summer and I had a great time taking photos and feeding the birds.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Cat is on Daylight Savings Time (or Maybe They're Smarter Than We Think)

My cats get fed twice a day.  They know when breakfast happens because they get fed when I get up, which is usually around 8:00am.  Sometimes they help wake me up with a paw in the face or a leap onto my stomach, but it's normally around the same time every day.  Dinner is a different matter.  I always fed them at 6:00pm when I was working because that was the time I usually got home.  They knew it was dinner time when I walked through the door.  Now that I am retired, I still try to stick with that 6:00 time because it's what they're used to.    

A funny thing happened yesterday when daylight savings time ended and the clocks were turned back.  My kitty Alexandra started running around the food bowl at hour early.  But this was actually 6:00pm daylight savings time.  So how does she know it's really 6:00pm?  I think my cat is actually telling time.   Smart kitty!  Now if I can just get her to turn all those battery clocks back it would sure save me some time.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween in the 1950's

Baynesville Elementary School
I grew up in a neighborhood called Baynesville in eastern Baltimore County.  This was a pretty large community of brick row houses that was part of the post-World War II expansion from Baltimore City into the suburbs.  My parents had a bit of the pioneer spirit, buying their house in 1950 when the whole area was still under construction.  This was a great place to grow up as a lot of it was still country with plenty of woods and some small farms with horses nearby.  The baby boom was alive and well in our community and in a few years there were four elementary schools within walking distance not including the parochial schools.

Halloween in elementary school was a wonderful day.  We would take our costumes to school and after lunch we would all get dressed and have a party in the classroom.  If the weather was nice the entire school would go outside for a parade on the playground.  Then when the school day ended we would go home and do a little light trick-or-treating until dinner.  After dinner the neighborhood would explode with trick-or-treaters, sometimes twenty or more deep at each house.  We got huge hauls of candy and even sometimes money.  No one worried about poison candy or bad people, everybody just had a great time.

Unless you live in a small town or neighborhood where everyone knows each other, these days most parents would not even consider letting their children go up to unfamiliar houses and take candy from strangers, and for good reason, just read the newspapers or listen to real horror stories on the nightly news.   Even though there are families who know each other where I live, no one comes to the door to trick-or-treat.  Halloween seems like just another day, not the crazy wonderful holiday of my childhood.

The world of the 1950's was not as idyllic for everyone as some of our politicians today would like us to believe.  And the civil rights movement, Vietnam war, Roe vs. Wade and womens' lib would soon change the world forever but for the little baby boomer kids of the 1950's in my neighborhood Halloween was a hugely BIG deal and just about as good as it gets.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup

The prematurely cold weather this weekend on the east coast got me thinking about chilly weather comfort food.  My mom always made the best veggie soup when I was growing up.  One of my favorite childhood memories is mom making a big pot of hot soup for dinner on a cold evening.  You have to have a piece of crusty bread with soup but when I was a kid I always ate vegetable soup with buttered saltine crackers.  I would dip the cracker into the soup and then the butter would drip all over my hand....messy but so good.

My mom would cook her soup for hours on the stove, but being the modern woman, I use my electric Cook's Essentials pressure cooker from QVC.  Love shopping on QVC (but that's another post!).  This one is a 6 quart pressure cooker and it has changed my life!  The thing is wonderfully fast and I am learning to adapt my recipes so I don't have to spend hours slaving at the hot stove.  Soup is one of the easiest things to convert to pressure cooking and the best thing about it is that you don't have to keep opening the pot lid to stir.  Clean up is so much faster since there is no splatter all over your stove.

This recipe can also be converted to crab soup by adding a few steamed crab claws, crab meat and Old Bay seasoning to taste.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup 

1 medium onion diced
1 lg baking potato diced
16 oz. bag mixed vegetables
1/2 cup barley
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 1/4 lbs. beef stew meat cubed
28 oz. can whole tomatoes
3 oz. tomato paste
2 T beef base (or 2  boullion cubes)
2 whole celery stalks
4 cups water

Cook the onion and beef cubes on the brown setting until the onions are tender.  Add the remaining ingredients and water to the fill line (in my cooker this is 4 cups).  Close the lid and cook for 10 minutes and wait for cooker to release pressure naturally.  Discard the celery stalks before serving. 

Prep Time:  10 mins.     Cook Time:  10 mins.    Difficulty:  Easy    Servings:  About 8 bowls