Monday, April 24, 2017

Positively Monday

As I have said on previous Mondays, in order to keep my mind set in a good place, I end each day thinking about the best thing or things that happened that day. For me it is so much better to dwell on life's positives instead of wallowing in aggravation, despair, angst, self pity (name your poison here) , yadda, yadda, yadda. This does not mean every day is perfect.  In fact, most of my days are far from perfect, but I am choosing to revel in those moments that create a sense of calm, excitement, or wonder.

Monday: Got to spend the entire day at home alone.  Occasionally I love a day like this to recharge my batteries, and get things organized without interrupted time.

Tuesday: The mornings are glorious now, the pollen is all but gone, and I was able to have a couple of cups of coffee on the deck just listening to the birds.

Wednesday: TheHub had a dinner meeting so I grabbed a chicken meal from Bojangles, ate in front of the TV and caught up on several shows I had DVR'd.  I love being able to watch an hour long show by zipping through and taking only about 15 minutes to follow the plot line. (And yes, I understand I am missing some of the intricacies of the story but I am not deeply enough invested to care abut anything but the major story line. I will never do to a show I really like. Can you say "Game of Thrones")

Thursday:  Morning coffee on the deck with birds singing  was really nice but the best thing about the day was Son2.  He has been working at Mom's house in my dad's old workshop making these really cool vases for the participants at Independence Place to give their Moms on Mother's Day. He and his gal pal hung around a little after and ate dinner with Mom which met her social needs, plus she eats much better when someone else is there.  And can you guess what happens when she eats food? She actually feels better and has more energy. Imagine that! So special thanks to you two. You made my night so much easier.

Friday: Got the car cleaned out, loaded Mom's lawnmower in the car (It is in her way since she has never cut the lawn in her life and started using a lawn service after Dad's death. But everything is in her way now and everything must be taken care of. Right.  This.  Minute. After taking care of the intrusive lawnmower, we headed to the lake place. We got there is enough time to wash the pollen off the porch so we could sit out there and enjoy the sunset. Nirvana!

Saturday: A/c at the lake place is on the fritz.  Bummer and it was kind of hot, but we have a big screened porch plus one of those magnetic screens on the house door to the porch so we were able to leave the bugs outside, the door open  and the fans on so the air at least moved. Late at night the storms came and the temps dropped quite a bit, enough that we actually had to sleep with a sheet and light cotton blanket covering us.  Sleep perfection, breezy stormy night with occasional owl hoots.

Sunday: Home again, home again, jiggety jig. We had plans to be at church Sunday evening to pack food for a world hunger mission. In 2 hours about 150 volunteers packed, sealed and boxed 50,000 meals. The church will be doing this for a couple of more days so I will probably volunteer at least once more because I truly do believe it is a blessing to be a blessing.

And apparently when I called Mom and she didn't answer when we got home from the lake, dressed and went on our little service mission then went out to eat I caused her severe angst which impacted My Beloved Sister.  It seems that by 3 pm Mom had decided I was in a wreck and dead on one of the little country roads between here and the lake. Don't ask me why.  By 7 pm she wanted my sister to drive her to the closest emergency room we would pass driving home from the lake.  My beloved sister had tried to call our cells which we had turned off during the meal packing (per request) and neither TheHub or I had turned our ringers back on  when we were at the restaurant. By shortly after nine when I finally called her she was in near hysterics and it was all my fault.  I would feel guilty but her crisis level was exactly the same when her refrigerator alarm beeped last week indicating her water filter needed to be changed, or when she got a piece of junk mail fishing for her to renew her car warranty.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sleep Blogging

I am looking for an answer to a purely hypothetical question. If you are trying to read your blog on your Ipad while in bed (nearly asleep) and delete a post accidentally while half awake is there a way to retrieve it or is it gone for the ages it?  Not that it happened to me or anything but I am somewhat curious.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Positively Monday on Tuesday

It seems Monday came and is now a memory.  I promise this was positively ready to post Sunday night, but due to user error and a mountain of Monday chores someone forgot to hit publish.

Monday:  Slept like a log until about 8:30.  My bed is great and I can have all the pillows I want. The Empire has not gotten on the hotel dream bed bandwagon and I had 3 very unhappy nights trying to sleep there.

Tuesday: Spent most of the day with Mom at a couple of doctors and then getting her prescriptions filled and checking things in her house because I had abandoned her for 4 days. Good new is she is doing OK physically.

Wednesday:  Caught up on two of my DVRed addictions! (I did forget it was Wednesday though until mid day so I missed my Wednesday class)

Thursday: We missed using our tickets to see Phantom of the Opera while we were in New York.  We were able to trade them in for seats to Thursday's performance.  It is not my favorite play but it was still visually stunning.

Friday:  Beautiful day and weather was perfect for grilling a steak while sitting on the deck with TheHub and an adult beverage.

Saturday: We were supposed to go to the lake but TheHub was not feeling well.  Instead I got a lot done on some projects for The Independence Place Spring Sale.

Sunday:  Easter celebrations with the family.  It was a really nice day with a spectacular dessert!

And the new addition to today's post is this ditty I found on Youtube: Hooray for Tuesday. I have never heard it before and it is an odd oldie, but it is about Tuesday so possibly enjoy it.  (It does have a rather long intro )

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lazy Chantilly Cake or A Comedy of Errors: You decide!

Last week when we were trying to fly to New York the weather was not exactly cooperating and our flight that was cancelled but rescheduled the next morning kept getting delayed and delayed then delayed again.  When that happens it seems a lot of the fellow passengers begin talking among themselves and TheHub and I found ourselves talking to 2 delightful gentlemen. One was a former NY Times reporter who lived in Shanghai before relocating to Los Angeles.  He was visiting friends in Birmingham, before returning to NYC to visit his publisher. (Though I did not ask I am assuming he had a book deal in the works). The other gentleman was a former Brooklyn resident who had moved to Birmingham after his retirement to be close to his grandchildren.

Somehow during the conversation the topic turned to foods, restaurants, and bakeries.  I know there are a lot of really good restaurants in town, but I am always amazed when people who have lived in places with phenomenal eating establishments talk about how good the food here is. Not only do they love the food here but both were thrilled to find places that are very easy to access. I guess, because we live in a driving city with parking lots throughout, accessibility never really enters into my mind, but both men talked about how simple it is to get into every restaurant in town by car.  I suppose it is true because even those places with little on site parking all have valet parking services so you can get out of your car right at the front door of any restaurant in town. Additionally nearly every place in town has street level seating, so there are no stairs up or down. I imagine you never really think about the things your hometown has to offer, focusing instead on what is not there. (Bad, bad of me)

At one point the discussion started focusing on desserts and bakeries, and the one man who had moved here talked about chantilly cake.  It is evidently his all time favorite cake and he told us every place in town that makes it.  TheHub has not stopped talking about it since, and we did see one at Publix the other day, but I thought 27 bucks was a little too much to pay for a cake we were unsure if we would even like..  Instead I looked up a couple of recipes and decided to use a combination of two to come up with our personal variation of one

I notice both recipes called for a traditional yellow cake.  I knew I had a yellow cake mix in the pantry so I decided to whip it up and save a huge amount of time.  When I pulled out the yellow cake I realized it was a pineapple cake mix.  At first I was bummed out but underneath the pineapple cake was a strawberry cake mix.  Since the cake is filled with berries I decided the strawberry cake would be just fine, so I made it.  Then, as I was getting ready to pour it into my cake pans, I remembered I had taken one of my round cake pans to the lake place and left it there.  My options were to run out and buy another round pan or punt and make a square cake. So, of course, the square cake option won.

Chantilly Cake

For the cake
1 baked 2 layer yellow cake* (or go wild and make strawberry)

For the syrup
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (Yeah right, I had none so I used lingonberry jam. Worked fine!)
2 tablespoons hot water

For the frosting
1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped
8 ounces marscarpone cheese, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 cups mixed berries
Additional berries for garnish

From here on out I will mostly tell you how I made mine and than you can adjust as you wish.

Bake a 2 layer cake (I am not supplying the recipe for a yellow cake but this one is delicious)  As I mentioned above I used a strawberry mix because the cake mix mix-up, and I figured I couldn't go wrong using a strawberry cake since mixed berries were n the filling anyway.  After I got my cake mixed and baked in the square pans I noticed they had not risen much while baking.  I guessed correctly that the cake mix was well past it expiration date and would have added additional baking powder if I had realized it was.  Oh well, now instead of two nice round yellow cake layers, I had two rather flat strawberry square layers. (At this point seeing I had flat cake  I normally might have decided to make a yellow cake from scratch, but it was 2 a.m. so NO!) There was no way I was going to be able to split the layers to make a four layer cake, as the original instructions called for.  Instead I cut them in half so I had 4 4 1/2 x9 inch layers. Then I decided rather than stack it 4 layers high I would have a 4 1/2 x 18 inch 2 layer cake. (I was afraid since I was only going to have a 4 1/2 x9 inch rectangular base, stacking 4 would probably create a cake avalanche which I did not want for Easter dinner).  Caution: Before you move on to the next step make sure the cakes are completely cool.

To make the frosting, whip the heavy cream and set aside.  With a mixer blend the marscarpone, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until it is smooth.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar until everything is creamy.  Then fold in the whipped cream. (Now begins the lightning round. You have to work fast because it gets really messy very quickly.  Learn from my error so you don't have to make one )

Put your first layer of cake on your serving plate.  Spread the thinned down jam all over the side facing up.  Spread berries over it (I used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting over the berries, then put the next layer of cake on top of it. (If you are using round pans and making 4 layers repeat the process 2 more times.  If you are making a crazy skinny long cake put the 2nd bottom layer as close to the first as you can get it, add the jam, berries and frosting then top with the last layer.  Now you either have a really tall 4 layer cake or a really long 2 layer one.
Working as fast as you can. spread the remaining frosting over the entire cake.  I suggest starting at the top then icing it quickly on the sides and ends. (If you made a round cake don't worry about the ends because a round cake is not going to have ends!) Put the whole cake in the refrigerator immediately.  If you don't the frosting will start running down the sides of the cake and you will have a big mess..

Leave it there until about 10 minutes before you plan to serve it.  Garnish with a few berries and serve.  This stuff is incredible and delicious and every other good thing.  We do have some left over (I am secretly thankful Mom made a cake and brought it even though I asked her not too.  Everyone had a slice of both cakes instead of 2 slices of the chantilly cake)  This is going to be great tomorrow, possibly for breakfast!

This might possibly become my go to cake.  Even though there is nothing remotely low fat about it, it still managed to taste "light" and fresh.  If you try it let me know what you think, or if you already make it tell me your thoughts on it and tell me why you never shared info on this deliciousness with the rest of us!

p.s. the platter I used is 5 x 20 inches and the cake was a perfect fit!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

T-Minus 100 and Counting

Time is a commodity we all take for granted.  I know I tend to do things from one week to the other without thinking too far in advance about daily things.  Sure I might have appointments or trips on the calendar  for a couple of months ahead, but I rarely think in depth about each and every day. I tend to just fumble through life between events so I am trying to look at my days as 24 hours I can live intentionally.  I have decided to track my life for 100 days just to see what will happen if I slow my thought process down and live in the present without tremendous thought to what's next.

I am setting up a system of personal accountability for each day, with constructive, creative, and down time in it. I want every day to be productive, but I also want it to have the opportunity to appreciate beauty, as well as to have some time for personal growth.  This is not something I am going to post about until the 100 days are over and then I will assess how I did with this approach. Will I learn to live in the now or will  I just fall totally off the cliff and into the abyss of living with my mind set between big events again?

No real clue what will happen, but I imagine there will be days I live with intention and others I just get through while waiting for the next big thing. It should be a revealing experiment about my persona either way.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Positively Monday

In order to change my somewhat jaded look at life I decided to jot down the best thing or things that happen each week.  I will admit some days just suck and finding something good is hard, but every single day has at least one good thing in it. This is a list of the past weeks good things,

Monday: Volunteered at Independence Place.  I find my joy spending time with their wonderful participants.

Tuesday:  Got Mom's business affairs in order so I can take a few days vacation.  Sorry to My Beloved Sister who has to take up the slack for me this week.

Wednesday:  TheHub bought some travel hangers (Yep he is one of those who never travels without dress shirts and a couple of sport coats) which were delivered to the wrong address.  Thanks to our neighborhood FB page I was able to find where they were delivered got them just in time to finish packing. We were supposed to fly out of town that evening but the weather cancelled our flight until...

Thursday: . . . We woke at 4, to be at the airport for a 6:15 rescheduled flight to NYC.  Got to the airport only to find it was delayed until 10:45. (yes we got the text from Delta right as we were checking our bags in) so we went back home for a few hours. The flight finally left at about 12:30 (Did I mention I was upgraded to first class?) and after circling to avoid storms at LGA we finally landed and were headed to Son3's concert right in the middle of the 5 o'clock traffic.  By 6 we were still not on the Manhattan side of the bridge, but we did manage to get to our hotel right before 7, checked in, changed clothes and were seated by 7:20 (10 minutes before it started)  The night truly got better and better, including a sidewalk chat and walk with Mr. Marsalis

Friday: In spite of the cold wet weather we still have a couple of really nice times.  We ate lunch at this funky Chinese-Peruvian fusion restaurant.  If you are in NYC and want something deliciously different try Flor De Mayo on Amsterdam and 83rd (I think it was 83rd). Later that night we went with Son3 and Girlfriend3 to hear  Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra for a Buddy Rich tribute plus a new composition by Ali Jackson, the drummer.  After we went out for some late night Italian (Good but no better than an other Italian place)

Saturday: Matinee time to see Miss Saigon.  It was a fantastic performance!  We have changed our approach to ticket buying and decide on 5 plays we would like to see, then just get there and see what show has good seats left. Saturday night we at a French place Bar Boulud.  The food is exceptional and not too pricy by Manhattan standards. (The downside is their very small cocktails)

Sunday:  Seriously delayed return flight home, but no flight issues and we had nothing pressing us so the time didn't really matter. Got home too late to cook (bonus) so we headed to Full Moon to pick up some BBQ take out.  You have to love a joint whose tagline is "Best Little Pork House in Alabama"

                                                Ali Jackson and a little high hat action

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

You Know You're From Alabama When . . .

                                                       (blue sky view from my front porch)

           . . . The State is closed on account of bad                                         weather!