Saturday, December 21, 2019

Dear Girls


I just finished Dear Girls by Ali Wong and it's f**king hilarious.  If my typing f**k bothers you, then don't read this book.  If you like reading books that make you laugh out loud and spit your drink down the front of you, then this book is for you.

Ali Wong is a stand up comedian, but also an actress and scriptwriter.  If you have Netflix, check out Always Be My Maybe.  It's really good.  She wrote it and stars in it.

When her father passes away, he leaves her a letter.  But there are so many things he doesn't tell her and now she'll never know.  So she writes this book to her two young daughters.  She writes that they can't read it until they are 21.  I'm not sure that will be old enough.  I'm also pretty sure they will read it way before then.

Don't think that this book is only the hilarious and slightly frightening parts of her rebellious youth.  She gives advice to her girls that you can actually let your kids read!

The Author is so honest about growing up in San Francisco and her wild child antics that she may have a hard time reprimanding her daughters in their own teenage years!  To be fair, she does anticipate their own rebellions.  She writes, " As long as you don't get maimed or contract life threatening STDs, I accept that some shit is going to go down."

As honest as she is about her past sexual experiences, and she is open and raunchy, she is touchingly honest about her love for her husband and the father of her two girls.  He writes an equally touching and honest afterword to the book.  He may not be as funny as his wife, but he respects her, seems wonderful and I would love to invite them both over for dinner.

We don't have kids living here anymore, so that should work.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Our chickens quit laying eggs.  After some research and finding feathers everywhere I decided it was because they were molting.  Chickens tend to lose their feathers just before winter. This gets rid of older, tattered feathers and allows new feathers to grow in for warmth over the colder months.

But they never started laying again.  Another article informed me that chickens need 14 hours of light to form eggs.  The coop does have a red colored spotlight in it.  At first I wasn't using it as some writers suggested that it would be nice to let the chickens get a break over the winter and not force egg production.


But it was so cold and the light is a source of heat in the coop. So I turned it on and away they went. They must have really enjoyed their long break!

This was just a couple days worth of eggs.  After I found where they were hiding them.


This HUGE egg appeared a couple of days ago.  It ended up being a double yolked egg.  I felt a little weird eating twins, but I did it anyway!


Monday, December 16, 2019

How To Walk Away


I recently discovered a new author I like. Her name is Katherine Center.  I just finished her book How To Walk Away about a woman who did not walk away from a plane crash.

Her boyfriend coerced her into flying with him in a small plane to show her trust in him.  He had just finished his flying lessons and was ready to solo.  Margaret had a fear of flying, but wanted to please him.  In the air he proposed and she accepted.  Shortly thereafter he crashed while landing and she ended up paralyzed and burned.

Naturally she didn't look the same and he felt such guilt that he had to break up with her.

Family issues and overcoming obstacles get explored. There is angst, depression and happiness and it rings true to life. It doesn't hurt that there is a handsome physical therapist with a Scottish brogue.  Sadly, he doesn't wear a kilt.

I like that there are no miracles.  But maybe there is a miracle, one of forgiveness and moving on to a better life.  Perhaps that is what we should take away from this heartwarming novel.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

It Never Stops


It took a lot longer to finish the garage/shop than we had hoped.  But that is the way of construction. Double the time estimate. increase the budget and it is still more time and money than you had planned on.


My favorite part is the copper weather vane.

But the shop is done and now Lee has to finish the inside.


He is installing peg board and building benches as I write this.


I'm inside because it is cold.

Next we are turning a hall closet into a bigger pantry.


We had the door removed and the hole drywalled in.  Now we are trying to make a cohesive floor. I'm afraid the tiles will crack when they try to pry them up and we'll need to cut and reuse a couple of them.


We decided to go with the wood floor on the closet side rather than the tile floor on the pantry side. We can't find tile to match but we do have some left over wood flooring.


Crossing our fingers.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Queen Bee


I just finished Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank.  And by just finished, I mean five minutes ago.

I have long enjoyed her South Carolina Low Country Stories. She really gives you the flavor of the place and dives deep into the characters and their personalities.  A fabulous writer.

Queen Bee is the nickname of the imperious and demanding mother that younger daughter Holly lives with and cares for.  It is also for the bees that Holly cares for as a beekeeper and the glorious garden she plants for them.

It is not a romance novel, but some of the people find romance.  And not the romance that you think they might find, but in another direction you hadn't seen coming from the beginning.  It is not a comedy but there are quite a few laughs.  It is not a character study, but there are quite a few characters in this book.  There are many times that Frank writes a line that has me stop and want to call somebody and read it to them.  They are that good.

I really liked this book and it has happy and hopeful ending.  But I was terribly sad to get to the end.  Not just the kind of sad you feel when you finish a really good book and you will miss the characters you have come to care about. But sad because I will never again get to read a new book by one of my favorite authors.

Dorothea Benton Frank passed away this year after a brief illness and we are all the worse because of it.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lemon Pudding Cake

I recently read No Judgements by Meg Cabot.  The characters live through a hurricane and several of the meals eaten had the recipe included in the book.  This was one of them.  I made a minor change or two.


Lemon Pudding Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil


2 cups powdered sugar
1 lemon
3 Tablespoons softened butter


Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a Bundt pan with Pam.  Set aside.


In a large mixing bowl whisk the 4 eggs.  Add the cake mix, pudding mix, water and oil.


Whisk smooth.


Carefully add the cake mixture to the prepared pan.


Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Mine took 40 minutes.


Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then invert over a cooling rack. If you coated the pan well enough you can lift the pan off the cake.  Let it cool completely.


Mix the glaze.  Zest the lemon.  Then cut it in half and squeeze the juice.  I got just under 1/3 cup and so that is what I used.  Sift the the powdered sugar, in a medium bowl.  Add the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice, then mix well.


Place some waxed paper under the cooling rack and drizzle the glaze over the cake.


Serve a giant wedge.  Enjoy the moist cake with the burst of lemon in the glaze.


Then go read the book.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Apple Pandowdy

A pandowdy was originally a way to use up stale bread. It was mixed with spiced apple slices and baked in to a type of bread pudding.   This version is made with puff pastry to make it quick and easy.     I liked it, but next time I'll up the apple to pastry ratio.  But you have to careful not to to overfill the baking dish or it will bubble over and make a mess in your oven.


Apple Pandowdy

1/2 package puff pastry
6 large apples
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
3 Tablespoons flour, divided use
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar


Preheat the oven to 425°.

Get out one folded sheet of puff pastry. Set it on the counter to let it thaw.


Melt the stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the pan frequently for about 5 minutes until the butter turns a golden brown.  Don't do a lot of other things when this is going on or you'll burn the butter.  Like I did.  Set aside.


Peel the apples.  Cut chunks leaving the core behind.  Cut into slices and then cut them in half, making uneven chunks.


This is a rustic dessert!

Wash the lemon.  Use a microplane to zest just the yellow part of the lemon.  Cut it in half and squeeze the juice


Place the chunks in a large bowl and add in 2 Tablespoons flour, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, juice and salt.  Mix together.


Mix and place in a 12X8, or thereabouts, baking dish.  Drizzle all but 2 Tablespoons of the browned butter over the apples.


Sprinkle about half of the remaining Tablespoon of flour on the counter and unfold the thawed puff pastry.  Dust the top with the rest of the flour.  Brush both sides gently with your hand.  Cut the pastry in uneven strips with a knife or pizza cutter.  Then cut the strips crosswise to make pieces about one inch...ish.


Place the puff pastry all over the apple mixture.  Use a pastry brush to brush the rest of the browned butter on the pastry chunks.  Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the dish.


Bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° and bake for 25 minutes more or until the pastry has puffed and is a golden brown.


Serve warm. You can sift on some powdered sugar to dress up the dessert.


But the best way is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  AND the powdered sugar.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Felafel Pita Sandwiches with Garlic Dill Sauce

I wanted to fix a simple sandwich meal, but not the same old thing.  I decided to make a felafel pita sandwich.  I generally get ideas for meals by reading books and when the characters eat something, it inspires me to try that, too!  All you authors out there, let your characters eat something fun!

The recipe calls for the dough to chill for 2 hours before cooking, so keep that in mind.


Felafel Pita Sandwiches

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 large shallot
3 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon coriander

pita bread
tomatoes and lettuce
oil for frying


Garlic Dill Sauce

1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Dry them with a clean dish cloth.  Place them in a food processor with the chopped parsley.  Mince the shallot.  Add the shallot, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, pepper, cardamon and coriander and pulse the processor until the beans are finely chopped but not smooth.


Add the flour and pulse until mixed. Use a medium cookie scoop or a large tablespoon and check to see if you can form a ball that holds together. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour.


Chill for 1 to 2 hours to firm up.


Make the Dill Sauce.  Adjust the garlic salt to taste.


While the dough was chilling, I went out to the chicken yard where I have a plethora of volunteer tomatoes growing.  I picked and washed a few for the sandwiches.

Use the scoop to make balls of all the dough.  I flattened mine a bit to make them easier to cook and eat.


Fry in 1/2 inch of oil over medium heat until golden brown on each side. Place on a paper towel to drain.


When I opened the pita I had purchased, I realized it was scored.  My original intent was to fold the pita over the filling.  But, based on the scoring, I chose to fill the pocket of the pita.


Smear the Diil Sauce inside the pita.  Add lettuce and tomato slices to taste.  Place two or three crispy and warm felafel balls, or discs, inside and enjoy.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

More on Rosalind's quilt

Rosalind started this cathedral window quilt and I am going to finish it.  It won't be exactly as she planned but I wanted to highlight her work, not mine.


I found one square that Roz had written on with pencil.  She wore her name and birthdate on  corner.


Her husband was Arnold Yasui. She had written his name and birthdate on the opposite corner.


I used an off white thread to backstitch those details. This square will be the center of my quilt.


My sister's nickname was Pinky. and the colorful fabrics she chose had various shades of pink.  I chose a pink fabric with tones from the "window" pieces.  This became the sashing between the squares.

I thought too much pink would take away from the squares, so I picked a green fabric that worked with the green of the "windows".


I need to add a back piece, some batting and start quilting.