Wednesday, November 15, 2017

BLOG BREAK

Dear Friends, I have some projects to attend to, so I am taking a blogging break.  


"She said, "May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith, in yourself and in others.  May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us."

~Saint Therese~




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

OLD FAMILY PHOTOS - THE SISTERS


This is the last in the series of old photos of Gregg's first cousins, twice removed.  A fun loving pair of sisters in their early years...



and a fun loving pair later in life.  Sweet ladies, still smiling.  I wish I had met them but am so happy I have these photos.



You can see all that I have shared of this family if you click on the links below. 


"Horse and Buggy"
"Off to School"
"Six Sisters"
"Confirmation"

Monday, November 13, 2017

MORE PHOTOS FROM MY SISTER-IN-LAW - A TRIP TO SHANGHAI, CHINA

I am not posting my usual Monday recipe, so that I can share my sister-in-law's photos from her trip to Shanghai last week.  Her husband was on a five-day business trip and she accompanied him.  She kept in touch by texting when she could.   


First of all, an Afternoon Tea at the one of the hotels.


Another meal, not sure what everything is but it all looked excellent. I thought the dry ice effect underneath the dish of shrimp made a wonderful presentation. 








In the photo below, the large globe was a dessert.  We were told it was fried dough with air inside.  Not overly sweet.  


Here are photos she took while sight-seeing.






A few facts I read about.  Shanghai has a population of 24 million people as of 2014.  It is the most populated city in all of China.



It has the longest metro system in the world and beneath the city of Shanghai there are 365 miles of tunnels and track.  There are 364 stations spread throughout the city, connecting major attractions, making it easy for international visitors to navigate.


The dialect of Shanghai is known for its distinct pronunciation, which differs greatly from the standard Mandarin spoken in and around Beijing.  The Shanghai dialect or Shanghainese, is only 70 percent intelligible for standard Mandarin speakers.  However, Shanghai is such an international city, a large proportion of the locals will have a strong command of the English language.




In 2016 Shanghai was named the most attractive city for expats for the fourth time in six years by International Talent Magazine.  48,000 expats were polled and asked to rank their city on categories such as living environment and policies for foreign professionals.  Shanghai is home to over 170,000 expats as of 2015.




The best time to visit Shanghai is in the spring and Autumn.  Summers have temperatures in the 100 range, along with high humidity levels.  Winter temperatures hover around freezing and it is very damp.


If you are interested in souvenirs, Shanghai is famous for its Silk, Antiques, Porcelain, Chinese Painting and Calligraphy.  


Through an online search I learned that the name of Shanghai means "Above/Upon the Sea", which alludes to the city's location along the Yangtze River Delta near the South China Sea.


Early in its history, Shanghai was a fishing village.  In AD 1292 Yuan Dynasty established it as a country.  Presently it is the largest city in China and eighth largest in the world.


Shanghai cooking is sweeter than other areas in China, and they consume more sugar than any other part of China.


In 1986 the White Magnolia was adopted as the city flower.  The White Magnolia is among the few spring flowers in the Shanghai area.


It sounded like a great trip.  The following photos she was almost back home.







I hope you have enjoyed my sister-in-law's latest travels.  She always has my thanks for letting me share them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

VETERANS DAY


BACK TO GREEN SPRING GARDENS

Photos were taken at the end of August.


Peruvian Lilies, one of my favorite flowers.  


A welcome bench lies beyond those plants.


The brightness of the yellow marigolds paired beautifully with the black ornamental peppers.  Here's a close up of the peppers.


I came across a Sweetgum tree and it had these interesting spiky spheres growing on it.  It is known as a capsular head.  It is a dry fruit composed of many chambers, which splits open when it matures, to release its seeds.  You can read more on this page, which is where I found my information.


Waiting for next year's residents.


More residences below.


Does anyone know what this plant is called?


Here's a closer look.


This is all from Green Spring Gardens, until we go there next year.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

OLD FAMILY PHOTOS - HORSE AND BUGGY


Another in a series of old photos of the same family, Gregg's first cousins, twice removed.  






You can see those other photos if you click on the links below.  

"Off to School"
"Six Sisters"
"Confirmation"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A PARENT'S PRAYER

(A photo I have shared before.  I thought these sweet children would be a perfect fit for the Parents Prayer below.)



"Help me give my children the best...
not of trappings or toys, but of myself, cherishing them on good days and bad days, theirs and mine.

Teach me to accept them for who they are, not for what they do; 

To listen to what they say, if only so they will listen to me.

To encourage their goals, not mine, 
and please, let me laugh with them and be silly.

Let me give them a home where respect is the cornerstone, integrity the foundation, and there is enough happiness to raise the roof.

May I give them the courage to be true to themselves, the independence to take good care of themselves, and the faith to believe in a power much greater than their own.

See that I discipline my children without demeaning them, demand good manners without forgetting my own, and let them know they have limitless love no matter what they do.

Let me feed them properly, clothe them adequately and have enough to give them a small allowance, not for the work they do but for the pleasure they bring.

And let me be moderate in all things, so that the joy of getting will help them discover the joy of giving.

See that their responsibilities are real, but not burdensome, that my expectations are high but not overwhelming, and that my thanks and praise are thoughtful, and given when they are due.

Help me teach them that excellence is its own reward and not the glory it brings.

But when it comes...and it will...let me revel in each honor, however small, without once pretending that it's mine.  My children are glories enough.

Above all let me ground these children so well, that I can dare to let them go."

~Author Unknown~



(If you would like to see where I got this photo from, it is amongst all the posts from the Scottish Festival in Virginia.  We attended the festival in September 2009, and to see all the posts I shared of that day, you can click on this link.  Long time blogging friends may remember them, but will hopefully enjoy them again.  It was an amazing day spent with good friends.) 



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

VOTING DAY




It was voting day here in Virginia, and all our family did their part.  Gregg got this off Facebook of our son and daughter-in-law.  I am so very proud of them.  We are all of a like mind, that's all I am going to say on that subject.

After voting Gregg and I treated ourselves to breakfast at the Silver Diner.  We saw several people and like us, they were wearing their "I Voted" stickers. We smiled at a couple in silent congratulations, not only patting each other on the back figuratively speaking, but for getting out there in that pouring rain.  Last night as I usually do in the evenings, I checked our local online neighborhood app and it said, "It's going to be close, don't let a little rain put you off voting tomorrow."  Let's hope there is a good turn out.  When we went at ten a.m., there were plenty of people around but I'm sure they had a big crowd on their way to work, and also it will get extremely busy when people come home tonight.

I met one of the hopeful candidates for Lieutenant Governor at the high school.  She stepped out and shook my hand, and I told her it was very nice to meet her.  Volunteers from both parties, young and older, were extremely polite, friendly and helpful. Thank you Ginny for reminding me how hard these volunteers work, for very long hours, and to let them know how much we appreciate what they do. We have also had people knocking on our door for several weeks, again from both parties, asking for whom we were going to vote. When we told them quite truthfully, both party volunteers, some of whom were young college students, were friendly and very polite. Their parents would have been proud of them for getting involved. At the school there were the usual tables of baked goods, manned by students and a few of their Mums.  We didn't buy any but did give them a donation for their cause.  Our son went to school there years ago, and we still like to be supportive.


Always feel good that we got out there and voted.  Have a great evening everyone.




RANDOM PHOTOS - SOUTHWEST SCULPTURE IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO



Two versions of the same photo.  The one below I added the frame when I was doodling on my Paint Shop Pro program on Sunday afternoon.  Gregg was watching a baseball game and I was playing on the computer.  


This is a beautiful sculpture I saw on our road trip last May.  We were in Santa Fe at The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.  It was created by Doug Hyde, cast in bronze and is entitled "People of the Red-Tailed Hawk“.  You can read about it on this page.  If you scroll down you will see its photo and also learn more of the man who created it.

One of the many reasons I love the southwest is that I come across these sculptures, and saw many in Santa Fe especially.  I find myself studying every detail.


Monday, November 6, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CROCKPOT PORK STEW AND A RAMBLE


This is one recipe I don't remember where it came from.  It's actually a mix of recipes as I changed the ingredients from the original, and added some different ones.   I usually double it to make extra meals for freezing.  It also came with potatoes that were cut into pieces, but  I find that anything with potatoes, freezing turns the texture a bit 'seedy' and we don't enjoy them once thawed.  I usually make a separate pan of potatoes to mash, which I put in a bowl and then serve the pork stew on the top.  I also have served this stew as is, with a couple of additions which I will explain below the recipe.
.

Crock Pot Pork Stew

2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 cup of carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup of cabbage, roughly chopped
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of beef stock or water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Wash the produce and measure out all your ingredients.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  

Put the flour in a plastic bag, and add the pork cubes, a few at a time if you have to. Seal the bag and toss until pieces are well coated.  Tap off excess and saute pork cubes in pan until nicely browned, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the pork to your crockpot, along with the onions, garlic, all the vegetables, including the canned tomatoes, paprika, beef stock or water, and red wine.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  Check yours after five hours as crockpot temperatures vary.  

About an hour before the stew is finished, peel and cube as many potatoes as you need, add water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and boil until cooked through.  Thoroughly drain, add butter or whatever you use to mash potatoes.  Add them to a bowl and pour stew over the top.

You can serve with Parmesan bread using a couple of hotdog rolls, spread with a little butter and topped with finely grated Parmesan.  Broil until the Parmesan is melted and nicely browned. Another time instead of using bread rolls I put a couple of small mounds of grated Parmesan in a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil, and melted them under the broiler.  They became crispy rounds and I put these on top of the pork stew, which you can see in these photos.  Very yummy!



I thought I would add a 'What were we doing last week?" ramble, as it's the start of a new week.  I should start writing daily happenings as I tend to forget but here is what I do remember.  

Nothing too exciting but enjoyable to us.  

Gregg goes to the library, which he has thoroughly enjoyed ever since childhood.  These days he loves to read the Wall Street Journal and the Economist magazine, and also enjoys reading books that are usually non-fiction.   As we are going through our quiet time he has enjoyed his trips up to the library and while he is away I catch up on my housework.

I stopped Blue Apron for a couple of weeks as I am trying to whittle down what we have in the fridge, freezer and pantry.  

Yesterday we went to the supermarket for a few supplies though.  I usually pick up bananas, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, and a few veggies. I have a bee in my bonnet of only buying organic, not always possible but try my best.

I also bought fixings for scones as son was chatting to a couple of friends a few days ago, and they had never had a cream tea.  Bless his cotton socks, he was going to try making them and after asking a few questions, mum offered to whip up a batch.  He and our daughter-in-law were going to meet up with their friends today, and will be picking them up at three.

This morning (Sunday the 5th) I made two batches.  The first  I wasn't entirely happy with, but they were my testers.  It's been a long time since I made any.  Gregg was Chief Taste-Tester and he enjoyed one out of each batch.  He said they were both great, and that I should make more.  Yesterday I bought  English strawberry jam, and we already had clotted cream in the fridge.  I'm hoping his friends will enjoy them.  

Gregg wants me to make another batch.  I told him I would but we need another jar of clotted cream.  I wouldn't open the one we are giving to son.  It's not something we could have on a regular basis, but I promised I would make them soon.  We have been eating so healthy and I don't want to break that habit.  But as me dear old mum used to say, a little bit of what you fancy does you good.  

Has anyone watched the British TV series "Victoria"?  Oh my goodness, a great show!  I watched the whole first season on Netflix recently, and I absolutely loved it.  You can go here to learn more. The costumes are fabulous, the acting superb, and these actors make you forget they are just playing a role.  You learn a bit of history as you go along, and I certainly had empathy for an 18 year old young woman who found herself crowned Queen of England at such a tender age.  The next time I get together with my Brit friends for the weekend, I will share this with them.  I have known about Queen Victoria all my life, but I would like to refresh with a biography now as I am intrigued.  If you like historical drama I can highly recommend it.  I am happy to say that the second season starts soon on PBS.  

I have just heard about the shooting in Texas. Heart heavy as I add this, and my one question is why? Three mass shootings, the worst in US history the newspapers say. Those poor people! Sometimes I think the world has gone mad.





Saturday, November 4, 2017

THE FLOWER BY ALFRED LORD TENNYSON



Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower
The people said, a weed.




To and fro they went
Thro' my garden bower,
And muttering discontent
Cursed me and my flower.




Then it grew so tall
It wore a crown of light,
But thieves from o'er the wall
Stole the seed by night.




Sow'd it far and wide
By every town and tower,
Till all the people cried,
'Splendid is the flower!'



Read my little fable;
He that runs may read.
Most can raise the flowers now,
For all have got the seed.




And some are pretty enough,
And some are poor indeed,
And now again the people
Call it but a weed.




The Flower by Alfred Lord Tennyson