November 30, 2009


Hmmm... As much as I would like to write about 20 different posts right now... the fact is, I have a final tomorrow night for which I feel less than thoroughly prepared. So, I want to tell you just a little something.

When Brianna was 7 or 8 years old, my parents were babysitting while Allen and I went to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We returned home to a new passion that would delight the entire extended family and many friends for years to come. It was, in many ways, the predecessor to the world of blogging.

While playing make believe with Kaitlin and my folks she made a newspaper. It reported on hot topics such as what was wrong with Santa Claus and who was going to the Super Bowl. Her newspaper sold for 25 cents a piece which encouraged her to hand write copies for each of the grandparents, Allen and I. It did something even more important than make her a buck, though.

With the promise of those quarters jingling in her pocket, she put aside her struggles with reading and writing, put her thinking cap on and wrote another issue the very next month. In order to enlarge her audience, and make more quarters, she started writing about family news and included extended family happenings as well. With a larger readership, Brianna learned to type and use the printer. It wasn't long before she brought Kaitlin on board and creative writing was added to the repertoire the following month.

My little entrepreneurs began selling annual subscriptions to friends and acquaintances, after the third month or so, and soon they had reached about 50 subscribers. We began making use of Microsoft publisher to make their work more professional and the "View" was born. As the person who knew how to use Publisher, I was named editor. Brianna asked me to write a monthly letter from the editor. The girls enlisted their cousin, Brandon, to draw a monthly comic strip and periodic contests were held to get extended family more involved in the writing process.

By the end of that first year, monthly issues of View were being mailed all over the country. Allen was so proud of their efforts, that he bought them a nice printer that could automatically duplex to save time. He and I started buying "gift subscriptions" to encourage their efforts. They continued their writing until we started remodeling the basement in 2007 and the printer sustained some unknown damage.

I thought it might be fun to, once in a while, reprint some of those articles here. I, in fact, intended to give you a little sampling here, but that exam is calling so I must call it a night.

Happy Monday and keep an eye out for new posts under the label "VIEW".


November 29, 2009

Elves Hard At Work

The sun came out today. The air was cold and crisp. Just perfect for the Thanksgiving weekend and kickoff to our Christmas holidays. It was all I could do to get the children to eat breakfast and get dressed before they ran outside to decorate the train with Christmas lights.

Even though, I was inside hard at work studying for a final exam on Monday night, I could hear the laughter in my heart as they strung 1,800 colored lights.
Lunch was late, as they worked straight through. Their delight at a job well done was contagious when at last they made themselves known.
Dinner will be late, too. For as I write, they couldn't resist the urge to run and play on their masterpiece.


November 28, 2009

Turkey Sandwiches

One of the things that things that we love about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. As a general rule, I don't care for dinner the second time around. Although, I do serve leftovers for lunch several days a week. My mother taught me, "waste not, want not."

But I purposely save room for Thanksgiving leftovers. Late at night, after all the guests have left, the house is restored to normal, we bundled up in our pajamas, tucked the youngers in bed and turned on some Bing Crosby... we sneak back to the kitchen and pull out all the leftovers we just put away so carefully.

I am still suffering some jet lag and made the mistake of lying on the bed for "a minute" after our company left. I disappointed the girls by being a party pooper and going to sleep.

I made it up to them this morning by serving turkey sandwiches for breakfast. Allen said I need to write about how to make the perfect turkey sandwiches. If you have read Allen's blog, then you know sandwiches are a big deal around here.

So here is the deal. Start with two slices of rye bread. Spread with Hellmann's mayonnaise. I refuse to eat any other kind, but suit yourself with your favorite brand. Top with cheese. I personally prefer provolone but swiss and white American are popular choices, too. Next, comes turkey. Spread with cranberry relish. Then, and don't skip this step, a generous helping of dressing. Smoosh the top piece of bread on and eat it very carefully.


November 27, 2009

Cranberry Relish

OK... you twisted my arm. In a comment on my 32 of 52 week post

JenT said...

"Ok, I need your cranberry relish recipe. I notice you're using fresh cranberries and we have lots of those in our freezer. When you get a chance pass it on, please. :)
Happy Thanksgiving!
November 26, 2009 9:53 AM"

I got this recipe in a cooking class at our extension office years ago. Up until then, I thought I didn't like cranberry sauce. I was raised on the stuff in a can. After I tried this... well, watch out cranberries!

In microwave safe bowl combine:

1 pound fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cover with plastic wrap and cook 4 minutes. Stir. Cover again and cook until cranberries start to pop. About 4 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 weeks. I like to make extra and put in jelly jars and freeze for an extra treat throughout the year.

Here's a little bonus for you, JenT. Those extra cranberries in your freezer are delicious if you juice them. I quarter 10 apples and put them through my champion juicer. Then one bag of slightly frozen cranberries. If I have it I add a hunk of fresh ginger root. Not only is this fabulously delicious it is a wonderful cure for a sore throat.


November 26, 2009

Week 32 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself with one or more of your children. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button to add your name to the Linky. Have fun!

Returning home after two weeks was a wonderful breath of fresh air, filled with hugs and kisses.
What are we all doing? Reading blogs of course!

What joy to return to our morning Bible study and coffee in person and real time.
I can't think of a better time to come home, than just in time for Thanksgiving preparations.
I particularly enjoyed teaching Samuel how to make my cranberry relish.
Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~Robert Montgomery


November 25, 2009

The Family That Eats Together...

...cooks together.

To some Thanksgiving is eating dinner and moving on to shopping. For us it is a week long celebration that begins with preparations well in advance and doesn't end until Allen returns to work the following Monday.

As is the case with all holiday meals, the whole endeavor falls just shy of a major military maneuver. Three weeks ago the girls and I made a menu.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Olives with fennel seeds and orange peel
Relish Tray
Celery stuffed with cream cheese and green olives

Main Course
Smoked Turkey
Mushroom Gravy
New England Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Dressing
Cranberry Relish
Holiday Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato and Sausage Gratin with fresh thyme
Pumpkin bread with cream cheese
Rolls with butter

Sparkling Cider, Lemonade, Ice Tea

Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Fruit Salad
Coffee, Mulled Cider

I wrote out the shopping list. Allen, Brianna and Emma were in charge of grocery shopping. Monday morning we made the hour drive to fetch two smoked turkeys.

This morning the real fun began. Everyone got a recipe and we spent the morning preparing all our favorite dishes. I am in charge of directing the troops.

Sam took charge of the stuffed celery.

No, Nathaniel is not crying he is chopping green onions.

Emma called dibs on pumpkin bread.

Aedan's specialty? corn relish
Even Elisabeth helps out. At least that's the story she is sticking to in order to explain the soapy water all over the counter top.

Brianna looks forward to polishing the silver each year to set many beautiful tables for entertaining friends and family throughout the holiday season.
Since Kaitlin asked really sweetly, Brianna let her help out.

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck


November 24, 2009

Turkey Hat

I love Thanksgiving. I would have to say it is one of my very favorite holidays. It is one of the few that haven't been commercialized. It is one of the few holidays that is still about family and being together. I love the food. I love the warmth and coziness. I love just being together with good friends, family and food. Oh, did I say the food part already? I look forward to setting a beautiful table. I delight in the smells and the leftovers.

I love that it is not about spending money and shopping and gimmicks and things.

Or so I thought. A few weeks ago I was flipping through a sales flyer that came in the mail when right there next to the chafing dishes I found this!

No kidding! Who would put this thing on their head? Or worse, subject their child to such torture? If you ask me this is nothing short of child abuse.

What do you think? Is there a stampede to Bed, Bath and Beyond for this stylish yet fun and festive hat?

November 23, 2009


Well, here I am. And what a great feeling! I had a long, but peaceful journey... complicated, though it was.

By the numbers it goes something like this...

36 hours from door to door
2 1/2 by car
11 1/2 by plane
3 countries
2 hotels
2 planes
2 cars
2 taxis
2 buses
2 shots of espresso

At the end a whole lot of hugs and kisses. I couldn't have asked for a nicer time away, unless of course my Allen was with me. Yet, it sure is good to come home.

I thought coming home a day ahead of schedule would be a wonderful surprise to the children. Surprised they were. But there were a few surprises waiting for me when I walked through the door after 2 this morning. New ceramic tile in the "foyer", Allen's new car, outdoor lights... maybe I should go away more often? How efficient the family is without me!

And it was not just changes around the house, either. Nathaniel lost a tooth, Aedan learned to ride his two wheeler, Elisabeth is talking up a storm of new sentences, Allen taught Brianna to hug like her Italian ancestors... I have a lot of catching up to do.

It took me only about three hours to get unpacked, my youngers bathed, breakfast made and the house up to a reasonable semblance of clean. That means that they did a pretty good job in my book.

It is now 7:30 Sunday night, and despite my husband reserving a hotel at the airport so I could go straight to sleep when my plane landed (we live yet another hour drive from the airport), I have slept only 5 hours since Thursday night/Friday morning. I will be spending the next day or so getting acclimated, rested and hearing all the news of what was going on in my absence.

So happy Monday and I look forward to seeing you all Tuesday while I get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~Robert Montgomery

November 22, 2009


Well, darling Peppers. I can not believe that my time here is coming to an end. By the time you read this I will be back home with you. How did you like my little surprise? It was quite an accident that I will be home a day earlier than we planned. But not bad as far as surprises go, I hope.

There are a few things that I haven't shared with you, yet. Things that were good enough to photograph but that didn't necessarily fit into any of my posts. I wanted to tell you about them.

Thursday night, Aunt Diann and Uncle Ben took me to their favorite local restaraunt.
It is owned by a Sicilian who works on base so it is an interesting mix of Sicilian and American cuisine. It was weird to hear American pop music playing.

Uncle Ben ordered his favorite pizza. Eggs, Sausage, Hot dogs and french fries. And he ate the whole thing!
Our waiter insisted on bringing a bottle of champagne to celebrate Gabriel's birth. Uncle Ben tried to tell them no thank you, we don't drink, over and over but they kept right on pouring and saying a toast to the baby. Remember I told you how important babies are here?

This is a good opportunity to tell you something else I noticed. Every meal we ate was served with wine. Now of course, you know none of us drink. But this I thought was very interesting. Even though wine was served with meals and after lunch they serve another liquor, I never saw a drunk Italian. Not that I think you need to go out and drink, you dear children know how I feel on that topic. But the point being that they know how to have a little and stop. When I passed soldiers visiting on the base, they were always talking about being drunk last night or getting drunk tonight. And were very proud of it. But not so with the locals.

It is self control. I noted this in their food, also. Every where we went they served food. And a lot of variety. Even lunch is multiple courses. I saw many fat Americans, but not even one fat Italian the entire time I have been here. The time together is about visiting. The food is what brings them together, but what they relish is the visiting and fellowship that takes place at the table.

I hope that you get the point there, my children.

Now on to something entirely different. I thought this was cute. This is the "Sea Bee" outside of Uncle Ben's office. I don't have software to edit it here so you will have to blow the picture up to see it good.

What do you think this sign is for?

These scooters are popular because they can move quickly and easily through the streets. Can you tell me a movie that you saw these in?

Boys, I thought you would like this poster in the parking deck in Taoramino.
Some Euro. I spent all mine so sorry to say I won't be bringing any home for you to study.
An Italian Woo Woo. Can you see that it say's US Navy on it? It is funny how the Italians are almost like US military.
And yet one more car for you to see.
Uncle Ben's specialty... smiley fries. Isn't it nice to know that all this good food hasn't ruined his taste buds?
For our last night together, Uncle Ben grilled chicken. I made a chocolate cake and...
a drink made with those prickly pears. It is similar to lemonade... almost like strawberry lemonade.
This is the best picture of my trip, though. I had to come all the way to Sicily to find it but my dear husband, I have conclusive evidence that there is one other St. Louis Rams fan. Go Rams!

And with that, my loves, I thank you for a wonderful trip and look forward to those hugs and kisses really soon. Thank you for being good helpers so that I could come here and be with your Aunt Diann for such a special time.




November 21, 2009


Hello, Peppers!

Yes, I did get my Cannoli. While we were in Taoramino yesterday we stopped in a bakery for espresso and dessert. We were too full from our fabulous lunch so we had them wrapped to take home for later. Do you see how beautiful this is. None of those little plastic boxes!

OK. So we got carried away. Aunt Diann and Uncle Ben liked the chocolate but I preferred the plain old simple ones.

I probably shouldn't tell you this but I had cannoli and coffee for dinner. I was babysitting for Gabriel while Uncle Ben and Aunt Diann went on their date night. I didn't feel like making something for just me so when they came home we watched a video and had some Yum!

These were more like the ones Nanny made. Just delicious and light. Not sweet at all like the ones we get back home.

For those of you who want Cannoli but don't want to spend the time in the kitchen, you can buy them online here.

For those of you who feel adventurous. Here is a recipe to try. Since I am not at home to give you my Nanny's recipe, I found what looks like an authentic one on

yield: Makes about 10 desserts

active time: 2 hr

total time: 3 hr

True Sicilian cannoli are made using fresh sheep's-milk ricotta. We've substituted a combination of fresh cow's-milk ricotta and goat cheese. If you don't like goat cheese, use additional ricotta instead.

For cannoli shells
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 lb cold lard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • About 3 cups vegetable oil

For filling
  • 1 lb fresh ricotta (2 cups)
  • 2 oz soft mild goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced candied orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange-flower water (also called orange-blossom water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (not dyed red), chopped
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped (1/2 cup)
  • Special equipment: a pasta maker; a 4- to 4 1/4-inch round cookie cutter; a deep-fat thermometer; 6 (roughly 5 5/8- by 5/8-inch) metal cannoli tubes; 2 heavy-duty oven mitts; a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip
  • Garnish: confectioners sugar

Make dough for shells:
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add 2 tablespoons lard and blend in with your fingertips until combined. Add wine and yolk and stir until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Make filling while dough stands:
Beat together ricotta, goat cheese, confectioners sugar, orange peel, orange-flower water, and cinnamon in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed 1 minute (do not overbeat). Fold in nuts and chocolate until combined and chill.

Make shells:
Set smooth rollers of pasta maker at widest setting. Unwrap dough and cut in half, then lightly flour 1 piece (keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Flatten floured dough into an oval and feed through rollers. Turn dial down 2 notches and feed dough through rollers again. Continue to feed dough through rollers, making space between rollers narrower by 2 notches each time, until narrowest setting is used.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Transfer rolled dough to a lightly floured surface and cut out 4 or 5 rounds with floured cutter. Transfer rounds to baking sheet and keep covered with more plastic wrap. Roll out remaining dough and cut rounds in same manner. Gather scraps and let stand 10 minutes. Roll out scraps and cut in same manner.

Heat remaining lard with 1 1/4 inches oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until it registers 350°F on thermometer.

Meanwhile, lightly oil cannoli tubes. Lightly beat egg white, then brush bottom edge of 1 dough round with egg white. Wrap dough around a tube, overlapping ends (egg-white edge should go on top), then press edges together to seal. Make 5 more shells in same manner (keep remaining rounds covered with plastic).

Fry dough on tubes 1 at a time, turning with metal tongs, until 1 shade darker, about 45 seconds. Wearing oven mitts, clamp end of hot tubes, 1 at a time, with tongs and, holding tube vertically, allow shell to slide off tube onto paper towels, gently shaking tube and wiggling shell as needed to loosen. (If you allow shell to cool it will stick to tube and shatter when you try to remove it.) Transfer shells to paper towels to drain and cool tubes before reusing. Wrap remaining dough around tubes and fry in same manner.

Spoon filling into pastry bag and pipe some into 1 end of a cannoli shell, filling shell halfway, then pipe into other end. Repeat with remaining shells.

Cooks' notes:

•Dough can be made 1 day before frying shells and chilled. Let dough stand at room temperature 1 hour before rolling.
•Shells can be fried 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept, layered between paper towels, in an airtight container at room temperature.