Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
The Beatles made a song famous called, “Here Comes the Sun.” Well, this week my blogging theme seems to be, “There Goes the Sun,” since this is my second post of the week featuring sunsets.
I took these pictures at the end of yet another bike ride. I was especially happy that the couple in the picture showed up to watch the sunset because I love having people in photos.
So there ya go! Well, actually, there it goes. (The sun, that is.)
In other news, Steve flew to Florida yesterday to help Nathan celebrate his 21st birthday tomorrow. All three of us would have gone but it boiled down to having just one of us go and having some birthday money left over to give him OR having all three of us go and NOT have any money to give him. Considering the kind of financial summer he’s had, we opted for the official One Person/Money Left Over Plan. (Although I must say that I miss being there with him on his momentous day.) I did send my camera with Steve so that he could take lots of pictures.
Sarah and I are enjoying our girl time this weekend. Well, except for the fact that Snowy “dilutes” our girl time just a little by being a male doggie. Oh well. I suppose we’ll let him stick around.
In closing, here are a few favorite pictures of the two of them.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Two Tuesdays a month, our church has a potluck lunch for senior citizens and anyone else who feels like showing up for a good meal. Most people who attend contribute to the meal and this week I was asked to bring mashed potatoes.
While I don’t feel like I am the world’s greatest masher of potatoes I am fairly capable of turning out a respectably edible batch of them when need be. The only thing? I don’t like peeling them.
And so on Monday night I informed my
slave labor husband and daughter that if each of us would peel five potatoes that evening, I would have everything I needed for my (make ahead) mashed potato contribution.
Well, as soon as dinner was done on Monday, Steve left for the monthly church board meeting. Sarah and I got right to work on our potatoes and got ten of them peeled. And then I thought, “Well, Steve’s got a lot on his mind. He has important stuff to deal with as a pastor of a church and I really can’t imagine that he’s going to remember my brief speech about the need for communal potato peeling.
And so I went ahead and peeled the five extra and made up my potato dish and put it in the fridge.
On Tuesday morning when I came downstairs, this was waiting for me. A bowl of peeled potatoes. Peeled by my husband. Placed in a bowl of cold water so they wouldn’t get brown before I got ready to cook them. Peeled by a fella who actually did (amazingly) remember my plaintive potato plea and got up early enough to get them done.
Although my mashed potato dish was already compiled and ready for the oven, I took the husbandly peeled potatoes, added some meat and made a scalloped potato dish for our family dinner that night.
Potatoes peeled with love. The best kind.
A Few Recent Questions and Comments . . .
Steve’s Post on Marriage
Mary H said, “Now, about the numbers, Steve...how about Roman numerals? - I love them - they are not used frequently, anywhere now - I don't even know if they are taught but I love Roman numerals - they make you think, add and subtract and they just look cool.
Mary, Steve actually does use Roman numerals in the sermon notes and service orders he prepares each week. And since I work from those sermon notes to make slides to show on the overhead screen, I am exposed to his Roman numerals on a frequent basis.
And I hate to say it, but Roman numerals actually bug me because they require extra thinking to figure out what’s being communicated. However, as you said, they do look sorta cool. And of course, what would an official outline be without them?
Anna wrote, “Thanks Steve, very well written. I agree with them all except maybe the making bed thing. I am an early riser and my hubby has always enjoyed his sleep. Our bed would never get made until late in the day...our rule, last one out makes the bed. Hope to hear from you again in the near future.”
Anna, Steve forgot to mention that we only make the bed together on days we get up at the same time. Other than that, whoever is last out of the bed makes the bed!
Thanks to all of you for your encouraging words about Steve’s writing and also for sharing some of your own marriage stories and experiences. We love to hear from you!
Post on Healthy Eating
Mrs. Pam said, “Does Steve still get to eat his daily popcorn snack?”
Mrs.. Pam, yes, he sure does. Every evening the lovely aroma of popcorn continues to fill our home.
Lighthouse and Aliens Post
Judy said, “Loved the pics of your little adventure. It sure looked like you had a good time. Would you please share the name of the restaurant where you had lunch. Is the little post office open and functioning?”
The name of the restaurant was “The Captain’s Table. I meant to post this picture and then forgot it.
The decor was pretty basic and simple, but the prices were reasonable (we shared a sandwich and got out for $14) and the food was quite good. We got a seafood wrap and an order of fries.
No, the Post Office is no longer in active use. Although wouldn’t it be so much fun if it was?
Bobspixe said, “When I looked at the "posed" picture of you and Steve, I thought that the "aliens" in the title of your post referred to the two people standing behind you in dark glasses. Then I saw the "space ship" and realized that was the "aliens". Or am I the only one who saw two people standing behind you in the picture?????!!!! (Cue theme from "Twilight Zone".)”
Yes, I noticed those people, too. I am certainly glad they didn’t turn out to be aliens!
And on that subject, I don’t think I made it clear in my earlier post that the “alien ship” was not at all connected with the Cape Hatteras lighthouse; it was a few miles up the road. (The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is far too classy to be associated with little green men!)
Steve Smith wrote, “Hey Beck, in several posts lately you have had unflattering pictures of my ‘back 40.’ What gives?”
Well, let me just say, Mister Smith, that I would much rather people see YOUR back 40 than mine. (I’m not entirely certain of this point, but it could very well be that mine would require a wide angle lens!)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Two weeks ago a vital switch on my camera broke off. Even though it was a teensy weensy switch, when it disappeared the camera stopped functioning totally. Not to mention completely.
As you can imagine, I was just a wee bit bummed out about it; I mean, what is life without a camera?
I put off calling Canon because I was quite sure they were going to cheerfully assure me, “Why yes, of course we can fix that problem. It will only cost you a mere five thousand, three hundred, forty-three dollars and nine cents!”
Well, I finally got up the courage to make the call. I explained my problem. I said, “The switch on the back of my camera has broken off and disappeared and now the camera doesn’t work at all.”
The tech guy said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. But unfortunately, we can’t sell you that switch all by itself. We’ll have to send you the replacement piece for the whole back of your camera.”
I thought, “Here it comes,” even as I rather tremulously asked, “And how much will that cost?”
He replied, “$23.”
(What? Twenty-three dollars? Is that all? You’re selling me the entire back piece of a complex electronic piece for just twenty-three dollars? What’s wrong with you, fella?)
I really was truly amazed. But then again, just because it was a cheap part, it didn’t mean that putting it on the camera would be easy. And it didn’t mean that it would necessarily solve the problem. But I told him to go ahead and send it and we’d see what happened.
In the meantime, I got an e-mail from a long time blog reader in Utah named Susan who, as a photographer herself, was taking my camera-less plight to heart. She wrote, “Watch your mail this week; a new “toy” will be arriving.”
Well, that certainly brightened my day. Not to mention my week. Not to mention my whole life.
Friday arrived, as did the piece from Canon. The tech guy on the phone had told me the repair might have to be taken to a camera shop if we weren’t “comfortable with electronics.”
Well, Steve stared at the piece for a while. And then he stared at the camera for a while. And then he got his tools and started taking it all apart. About 45 minutes later, after a great deal of thinking, pondering and figuring out some fairly complex stuff (the back piece didn’t just go over parts of the inner workings of the camera; it also went under some of them), he put it back together. He then turned it on and . . . it worked! Perfectly!
I was, of course, thrilled to have “my baby” back. However, I was also a bit worried that this wonderful lady was sending me another camera to replace my broken one—which was no longer broken.
Her camera arrived shortly after Steve had fixed my old camera. I opened the box and found this lovely little item, perfectly suited for taking excellent pictures and perfectly sized to fit right into the “camera spot” in my purse. (Susan also sent chocolate, which made it the absolute perfect kind of package!)
Although I loved the camera she sent, I knew there would be no sense in having two purse-sized cameras. Happily though, I noticed something else she had included in the package in addition to chocolate and a camera—she had included receipts. She very graciously told me that if the camera she sent wasn’t what I needed, to feel free to return it and get something else.
Well! I was overwhelmed and grateful and relieved! And this is what I decided to do.
Since I’ve been a photography aficionado for a long time but still don’t know the first thing about shutter speed, apertures, or Fstops, I’ve been telling myself for a while that I really should take a basic photography course. But those courses cost money and it never seemed to be the “right” time to spend money on something non-essential.
But now? Today? At noon? My online photography class (offered by our community college) will post its first lesson. And I’m signed up, paid up, and ready to go! I’m so excited to finally have the chance to learn techniques that will help me improve my ability to do something I already love to do.
So part of the refunded camera money is going to the photography course and part of it is currently residing in this envelope where I am starting a savings account for a SLR (single lens reflex) camera.
It has been a long-time dream of mine to own two cameras--a smaller camera to keep in my purse for spontaneous picture taking, and a professional quality camera to have for more official shooting.
So that’s the scoop! Kind of a long scoop, I realize, but I’m just so excited about the new class and the repaired camera and the kindness of a stranger and the dreams of an SLR down the road--I just couldn’t keep from just telling you every single detail of my Broken/Fixed/Replaced/Refunded Camera Journey!
And just to let you know that my newly repaired camera is still earning its keep, here are a few shots from our bike ride last night. I loved how the sky changed from moment to moment.
This was taken in the same location; just facing a different direction.
And Now . . . From Cameras to Couscous.
I recently posted a picture of a dish I made for a recent dinner.
Jenn wrote, “That looks good. Can we get the recipes please? My husband is also trying to lower his cholesterol. “
Jenn, the recipe is at the end of this post.
Karen said, “Is that couscous? I have yet to find a way to make that and make it not taste like sawdust.”
Karen, I have to say I agree with you; I don’t really think couscous is all that wonderful, either. When I bought the couscous for this recipe, I got the kind that was garlic/parmesan flavored and that seemed to help. I think when I make the recipe again, I will try rice instead.
And on the subject of couscous, “Anonymous” also chimed in saying,
“Since couscous is just really tiny pieces of what is basically pasta, it won't taste like much if it's cooked in plain water. I like to make couscous by throwing a vegetable bullion cube into the water before boiling (chicken and beef just don't work the same way). I then top it with something like that awesome looking zucchini-squash-tomato stew in the pictures!
Other people seem to prefer if the couscous is sweet - that's how my mom started with it. Throw dried fruits with the water - golden raisins, craisins, dried apricots (yum), maybe some nuts. They rehydrate and get all plump and tasty. Search for recipes online - there's lots of tasty ones around. “
That was interesting to read—I’ll have to try some of those couscous tricks!
And finally one other person left a comment about this recipe as well:
“It really was tasty, Darlin'. Steve “
Hmmmm. A reader of Smithellaneous calling me, “Darlin’?”
What’s the world coming to?
There are a few more comments have come in on various topics; I’ll get to those soon.
In the meantime, here’s the promised recipe.
Rosemary Chicken With Vegetables
1 5.8 pkg. quick-cooking couscous (OR rice!)
4 boneless chicken breasts (1-1 1/4 pounds) (I cut mine into smaller portions so I had 8 pieces instead of 4)
1/2 t. lemon pepper seasoning (could substitute something else if you want—maybe Italian seasoning?)
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use garlic from the jar)
2 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash halved lengthwise and then cut cross wise into slices.
1/2 C apple juice (could use chicken broth if you don’t have juice)
2 t snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 t. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 t salt
2 T dry white wine, apple juice or chicken broth
2 t cornstarch (If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use 4 t. of flour instead)
12 cherry tomatoes (halved) (1 cup)
1. Prepare couscous according to package directions; keep warm.
2. Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper seasoning. In a 10-inch skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning twice. (Reduce heat to medium low if chicken gets too brown.) Remove chicken from the skillet; cover and keep warm.
3. Add garlic to skillet; cook and stir for 15 seconds. Add zucchini, apple juice (or broth) rosemary, and salt. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 2 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, stir together wine (or broth or juice) and cornstarch till smooth; add to zucchini mixture in skillet. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes.
5. Serve vegetables and couscous with chicken.
6. Pat yourself on the back for eating healthy!
377 calories per serving 8 total fat grams (1 g. sat fat) 378 mg. sodium
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
(Note: Please look in the right hand column for information on a way to honor Sarah and help cancer kids.)
When we got up last Friday morning (Steve’s day off) the sky looked like this.
And so we did this.
And saw this.
And ate lunch here.
And saw flocks of houses perched between sea and sky.
And we climbed this. All 268 steps of it.
We saw this . . .
. . . and this.
Not to mention this.
I felt compelled to do the quintessential tourist pose.
At one point during our lighthouse adventure I said, “Steve! Look! Those people on the ground look just little ants!”
And he said, “Becky, those are ants. We haven’t started climbing yet.” (sorry. bad joke.)
But seriously. When we DID finally get to the top? The people below really were sort of ant-like! (In a sort of non ant-like way.)
At the end of our climb, we posed for a picture, never dreaming of the adventure that was waiting for us.
Never dreaming that we were about to encounter . . . aliens!
You thought I was kidding?
Steve’s philosophy is, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
And his further philosophy is that you should stick your head into the house of aliens to see what it looks like.
Um. If you’ve never seen inside a spaceship it looks, well, sort of like a beat up RV. Or at least this particular spaceship did.
Isn’t it so cute?
And then we got some candy bars and drinks.
And pointed our happy, tired selves toward home.
(Tomorrow I’ll fill you in what happened with my broken camera and answer a few questions/comments. See ya then!)
Monday, September 13, 2010
Steve and I are alike in many wonderful ways.
There is one way in which we differ rather wildly. He loves fruits and vegetables of every kind. (I only love fruits.) He loves recipes that have high on their list of ingredients olive oil, tomatoes, vegetables, onions, fish and chicken. He loves Mediterranean style cooking. He loves crunchy foods.
He is not so big on soft, creamy and comforting foods. The way I am.
Potatoes, pudding, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, creamy casseroles, cream cheesy desserts—basically any food that has an inordinate amount of fat and calories is pretty high on my list.
Steve went for his annual physical last week and found that although his weight and blood pressure are great, his “bad” cholesterol is 50% higher than it should be. (Although his overall cholesterol is only 10% high.) So he’s been given six months to try to lower it without medication.
So guess what that means?
It means that all my wonderful recipes that I love and adore featuring cream of chicken soup and (better yet) cheddar cheese soup, will have to be put on the “occasional meal” list instead of the “regular meal” list.
And the bad part of this is that I know it’s better for me to eat the way he’s supposed to eat but I really don’t wanna! (Big foot stomp.)
Now this is not to say that he’s planning on turning into Saint Steve and will only eat the healthiest of foods every moment of every day. He loves his ice cream as much as the next person. But it does mean that I’ll be changing a few old recipes out for new ones.
And so. Last week I prepared a meal.
I put it in front of him.
And I said, “No cream of chicken soup was harmed in the making of this meal.”