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Friday, 15 February, 2013 Quick Takes Lent I


It’s Friday…

1. …the first one in Lent. I got ready for Lent in time … barely.

2. …after the Pope’s stunner. How odd that the only two papal elections I have ever witnessed have been so tied in with Lent and Easter. Although John Paul II had been so ill for so long, still I remember feeling thrown off-balance when he died. He had been Pope for my entire life, having been elected before I was born. I love Pope Benedict, I trust his judgement absolutely, I am sure that what he is doing he is doing for clear and good reasons, I am not afraid – the Church will endure.

3. But that off-kilter feeling is back- particularly because Benedict is so old. There will be no more Popes who are a living link back to the middle of the twentieth century, or back to the Second Vatican Council. I’m less concerned about liturgical history than secular history; I don’t feel we are much distant from the evils of totalitarianism.

4. …before a Monday off. Thank goodness. I’ve been swamped at work and could use the break. I think the whole world should be on the academic schedule (work at work 9 mos of the year and then 3 mos “flex-time.”)

5. …so no meat! Lent in going to be a challenge in the food department for me. I just got into a decent rhythm cooking-wise and abstaining Fridays are a disruption.

6. …in mid-February. Winter has been so off-and-on here. We’ve had no snow to speak of and it’s really driven home how dry the winter is (still don’t like that and have not adapted.) We’ve had rain a handful of times. Now that the early darkness is receding the garden calls to me, but a) I’m afraid to look and b) tonight is one of those possible snow nights.

7. … and I’m out of things to say.

More Takes at Conversion Diary.


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Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 Snippets

What do you call someone who is moved to write and post “Quick Takes” 2 hours after the cut off time on a Monday? And doesn’t actually get them up for two additional days? If no new post happens before  Friday, I’m just going to shameless link this one up.


1. Every since I read the news, I have been (quietly) praying for our linkup hostess who’s suffering from multiple pulmonary embolisms. While pregnant. Please add your prayers, if you feel moved to do so.

2. Because of the digits that comprised my age last year, I was hopeful that 2012 would be a sort of “landmark” year, in which I would either experience deep, meaningful, and significant change in my life or in which my circumstances would change in some important way. Or something. Anyhow, none of the aforementioned changes materialized; 2012 for me was largely hectic and not always in the happily so. (N.B. It is probably dumb to assume that the particular integers that make up your age mean anything at all.) So, here I am in 2013, it’s only February and shezzam!! progress abounds. It seems that I may be able to pull off a long-planned change in my field of employment, I may go on my first actual vacation* in 10 years and a few other small but welcome developments have arisen. I hope things continue on this trajectory!

3. My eating home-cooked food drive now continues aided and abetted by French Kids Eat Everything, which I picked up out of curiosity after from having read Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong. I got a bit impatient with the author’s careful presentation of the research that validates much of the French attitude towards food, but found the exploration of French food “pedagogy” fascinating. I’m not in a position to put the author’s suggestions into practice, but having been brought up an omnivore and fairly adventurous eater (ok, I am NOT anxious to try brains or various pickled “delicacies” from other cultures) in a culture** that encourages such eating, I’m interested in the topic.

(By contrast, I have an adult acquaintance whose list of food dislikes extends into what is, for me, normal eating. I mean, the man does not like garlic. What??!)

4. New ingredients: I have recently cooked quinoa and beets for the first time. I took no pictures because I was too busy cooking. I really like quinoa, but probably won’t make a habit of it because since it’s become a popular export the Peruvians and Bolivians aren’t able to eat it themselves. The beets were interesting – in that fresh(ly boiled) beets don’t taste too different from the canned variety. I like them; I do not like how much they bleed.

5. In my eternal search to find something different to do with chicken, I learned (internet recipe search) after several decades that the dish that my mother used to make with chicken and red wine is not, as I had long believed, “coco van.” (I don’t know. It’s just how I always spelled it in my head.) It’s “coq au vin” and it is darn tasty in all its variations. I’m guessing that the other celebratory dish she sometimes cooked was not “turkey divine.” (Don’t ask me why chicken got the more phonetic spelling.)

6. If I were to be a crafty blogger I would have to overcome my resistance to taking “before” pictures. Thing is I find the “before” so bothersome/hard to look at that I do not want to record it for posterity. I just want to fix it, stat.  Projects I have not taken pictures of over the past couple months: I did an update to the terrible laundry space in our house. And I sewed trendy elbow patches on my favorite sweater. (Not to be trendy, but because one elbow had tragically developed a hole!)

7. So there is, as I write (I’m guessing it’ll last two more days), another of these huge meta-discussions raging in the Catho-blogo-sphere about Beyonce’s Super.Bowl Halftime show and for once I’m not even mildly tempted to join in.  I think people are focused on the wrooooong thing here. I mean the 49ers lost (moment of silence, please.) But at least it wasn’t a slaughter. And Colin Kaepernick, woah!

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary.


*family visits just don’t count.

**California, baby


Friday, 21 September, 2012 Quick Takes

This week I set out to write one quick take per day until Friday. It didn’t quite work out that way. Fascinating results below:

1. Saturday night: (Premature?) aging is proceeding apace over here. It is 11:30 pm and I am trying to get to bed while outside the air outside (windows open because the weather is perfect) rings with the yelling from droves of CUA students processing to and from off-campus parties. If I had a hose, I’d be tempted to turn it on them.

2. Tuesday lunch: Elizabeth Foss is blogging about her Napa Valley trip. After last week’s Quick Takes, her pictures are killing me.

3. Wednesday night:  I think I may be out of touch with the culture of contemporary 3-year-olds (?)

Babysitting tonight, I was compelled to trap the younger (18 mos old and trouble, trouble, trouble) of the two brothers I was watching between my knees so I could use two remotes at once to manipulate the incredibly large and complicated TV system into playing a video. To mollify the trapped party I started singing “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” substituting his name for “lady” in the chorus (guaranteed to work for a whole 20 seconds.) Immediately, I had the (apparently) wonder-struck 3-year-old in my lap. “What is that song?!” “Sing it again!” “I want to hear it again.”

I think even when I was 3, “London Bridge” was old news…

4. I do not remember the words to “London Bridge” past “Take the key and lock him up.”

5. Thursday morning: In the garden I am growing a (one singular) pepper. I do not know what type it is, so I am uncertain whether/when to pick it.

It looks like a banana pepper. If it is, what do I do with it? All the banana peppers I’ve ever eaten have been pickled…

6. Thursday evening: So, I started out to slowly change my garden page to reflect my garden (not that the inspiration pictures of the Arboretum weren’t lovely.) I ended up making a little garden section. It’s probably not fascinating to anyone but me and is still under construction, but take a gander if you will and leave constructive criticism.

7. Japanese food was made to fight colds (I have the start of one.) Miso + wasabi. Medicine.

More coherent Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

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Friday, 31 August 2012, 7 QT’s Garden After pictures

Almost a year ago when I started this blog, I was going to convert the wilderness that was the  back yard at my house into a reasonable approximation of a garden.  10 months later…

1. The back garden before

Fallen tree obscuring the right hand corner of the yard – March 2012

and more before

The other side of the yard before

I wish I had taken more thorough “before” pictures.

2. The back yard “during”

It has been a long road fraught with obstacles to get to “after” pics!

What happened the last time I was (almost) ready to post “after” pictures:

Hard to tell, but this is the same angle as the original before picture


3.  Ta Da!

The path to the back – August 2012

On the garage roof: my veteran geranium, zinnias, Italian parsley (apparently this is the spot it likes), snap dragons. I have ambitions fill the edge of the roof in future.

The back yard – August 2012

This is my best “overview” shot. That vague shape of mulch is my path and everything on the outer edge is a bed.

From the other angle

I have ambitions of encouraging the moss in the center so much it becomes a moss lawn. That brown patch in the front was an experiment with buying sheet moss – didn’t work, sheet moss is definitely dead.

The Tour

4.  heading straight ahead from the path behind the garage, first

Vinca and the blue column

The vinca is a “found” plant – I didn’t plant it, just encouraged it. Also pictured: wild violets, current bane of my existence.



which I hope will be hardy outside.  Not pictured because it’s dormant, I planted a bleeding heart on the other side of the column. There will be snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils in the spring, too,  if I’ve managed not to disturb them too badly this summer.

5.I planted hostas in the right-hand shady corner, against the back fence and under the pretty but highly invasive trumpet vines, that I am tolerating.

Blooming hosta

Ferns and begonias in the left hand corner

The bamboo is creeping back over here

6. Annuals along the lefthand side of the fence – this is the only consistently sunny side of the yard.

Zinnias and ageratum (floss flower)

Next spring, I will plant some chrysanthemums in the ground in this spot and fill in with summer-blooming flowers.

7. Here’s my little “raised bed” – the food section of the yard

Veggie corner with Cana lily

I can’t figure out how I want to hang/install my wine bottle tiki torches which is why they are dotted all over the yard.

Tomatoes and a pepper (in black pot) – I’m afraid they’re not going to ripen, though


A little patch of nasturtiums, courtesy of my sister

And bamboo on the garage wall brings the tour full circle

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!

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Holy Thursday 2012 Iced Green Tea

An attempt to recreate commercially bought iced green tea. I used a Real Simple Magazine recipe for the rough proportions.

Fresh mint. The recipe called for 1 cup (!) of mint leaves, so good thing I had a lot.

De-stemmed mint leaves.

Plus just a little lemon balm. I only used 1 sprig.

Mint & lemon balm roughly chopped.

This bowl was the only vessel in the kitchen large enough to hold 4 cups of water (and 6 bags of green tea, mint & lemon balm.)

Brewing vessel.

Brewing time (per the recipe.)

Brewing complete, ready to filter out leaves. AKA What's wrong with this picture?

Then I poured hot tea all over the table, myself, and the floor.

Problem solved.

Last ingredient. About 4 heaping tablespoons worth.

The final product. Paper towel under the lid because I was worried the lid still smelled of lavender.

That jar was the only *lidded vessel I could find large enough to hold the tea. I had been using it to store lavender bath salts. Don’t worry, I washed out thoroughly, but between the lavender, tea, mint & lemon balm, the kitchen smelled really good!

A taste test revealed pretty tasty tea concentrate. I think the mint could be a little stronger, but that can be remedied by adding a few leaves along with ice and water prior to serving.