Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Snowfall in Fort Mill

Yesterday I was on day 5 of having a fever so I went to the doctor. She said what was expected: I had a virus and there wasn't any medication to cure it-- just have to take it easy and let my immune system fight it off. But she did prescribe me some snazzy cough syrup and warned me not to dose up and drive. Plus, she suggested I get some Mucilex D to clear out my sinuses to prevent further infection. The Mucilex wasn't too impressive, but that cough syrup- man! I took some last night and was out. Then this morning I got up to say goodbye to Paul as he was leaving for work, started coughing bad and so took another dose of syrup. It promptly sent me right off to sleep again and I didn't wake up for 4 hours! I would have kept right on sleeping but I had to check my work emails so dragged myself out of my airmattress that I have set up in the family room. When I got up I was surprised to find that it was snowing! It melted before it hit the ground, and only lasted a few minutes, but it was beautiful! I'm glad I woke up in time to see it. It is now bright and sunny and time to go back to sleep.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Woe is Me

The flus and colds have been going around and coming around and it did finally find me. Friday night I came home with a fever and a cough that started instantly that day and carried on through the weekend and today. I'm home from work on the couch for the third day and trying not to do anything that will start my coughing fits, such as getting up and walking. As long as I sit and don't talk, I'm good. How boring eh?

Happily, I just bought the last book in the "Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman" series and have been glued to it's pages, and so it has distracted me perfectly from my condition. These are the best books! Last I mentioned them here, I was on the second book: "Duty and Desire" It was a good book but the first and last are masterpieces in my opinion. This last one is called, "These Three Remain" and I'll remind you all that the first one is called, "An Assembly Such as This."

Pamela Aidan writes beautifully and seems to keep amazing accuracy to the original spirit of jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." These books delve into the mind of Mr. Darcy, the mysterious, in such a convincing way that keeps loyal to what I have always thought to be the Darcy way. Plus she adds some characters into Darcy's life who we would never see in P&P. Some characters introduced are Darcy's valet, and his friend Dy Brougham, from his university days. These addtions don't change the story, but just add insight to Darcy's life and social circle during those times when he's absent from Elizabeth. In addtion, the books add substance to Georgiana's character and also his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. If you are a die-hard Pride and Prejudice fan, like so many of us out there, these books are a must read!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fiber Lift-Off

A batch of fiber is on the way to you, Trish, as of Saturday. I forgot to mention it as we had so much going on this weekend and then I flew up to Delaware for training Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So keep your eye out for it! By the way, just out of curiousity, what combo of fiber did you send this time? It felt like silk of some kind mixed with wool (perhaps)? It was a pleasure to spin, but it took me some time to get used to how to handle it on the wheel.

Lunar Eclipse

Paul and I had a great view of the eclipse last night. I caught this picture on my camera (it's small because I cropped out some of the black sky) as the shadow was 3/4 across the moon. The stars seemed to pop out as the moon dimmed, and the wind that we were having seemed to pause in a deep breath as we stood out on our deck watching the rusty shadow march across the moon. It was magical-- hope you got to see.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Carolina Sunset

Have I mentioned that the Carolinas have the best consistent sunsets I have ever seen? I think it's because there is always a certain amount of cloudage in the sky to act as a canvas. Whatever the reason, we are blessed nearly every sunny day with a beautiful scene. I just rarely have my camera to capture them, plus my camera isn't the best at painting a sunset. This picture from my bedroom window was 10 times redder and brighter in real life.

My friend Laurie sent me this picture from her camping trip of a sunrise in Joshua Tree, CA-- such a great spot for camping.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Curtains are Done!

Blinds would be easier, but these are prettier!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chicken with Spanish Rice Recipe

Last night I wanted a quick fix for dinner because I had more important things to do: finish the second curtain panel for the bathroom and work on spinning the last 2 balls of wool for Trish with Tanglewood Fiber Creations. The spinning batch was at this same stage 2 weeks ago, as I was trying to finish before the move, but once the move began, all extra projects came to a halt.

I found the dinner recipe on the back of the Calrose rice bag and it was quick, easy and delicious!

I think they called it something Verde Rice, but it was like a spicy Spanish rice dinner by the time I finished with it. Only serves 2.

2 chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 can of Rotel (recipe called for can of green chilies, but I like Rotel's diced chili and tomato mix-- adds more flavor and spice. If you don't like spicy, Rotel makes a mild version)
1 vegetable bouillion cube (recipe calls for chicken, but my veggie cubes don't have MSG and taste just as good in my opinion).
1 1/4 cup of water
1/2 tsp. oregano
3/4 cup or rice
oil (I use grapeseed because it's less fattening than veg. oil and doesn't break down at high temps. like olive oil).
1 can of pinto beans

Dissolve boullion in water and set aside.

Coat a large saucepan, or deep frying pan with a lid, with the oil and heat to high temperature. Add chicken and brown on each side, cooking about 6 minutes. Remove chicken breasts and saute onion and garlic for about 30 seconds in same pan. Add the boullion water, can of rotel, oregano, rice, and add the chicken on top. Cover, bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering for 20-25 mintues. Serve with pinto beans on the side.

Happily, I had time to finish the curtains while dinner was simmering, and one ball of wool was completed after dinner. Trish, it'll be on your way to Oregon before you know it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rachel's Sliced Steak with Warm Dijon Potato Salad

This made a nice, somewhat dressy, birthday dinner, and we both thought it had a good blend of flavors.

4 strip steaks 1-inch thick
2 pounds baby red-skin potatoes, halved
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
3 shallots
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
6 Tbs. grainy Dijon mustard
Parsely to taste
Black pepper or grill seasoning blend for steak
3/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch of green onions, white and green parts chopped separately
1/2 cup approx. of white wine
2 Tbs. butter cut into pieces
Remove steaks from fridge to rest at room temp.

Bring water to boil for potatoes and season water with salt. cook potatoes until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain and return to hot pot to evaporate excess water.

Preheat grill pan over high heat for steaks.

While potatoes are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tbs. olive oil and the bacon. cook until almost crisp and add shallots, lowering heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes until tender. Add vinegar and deglaze pan, then wisk in Dijon mustard. Add potatoes and parsely to skillet and turn to coat evenly, allowing potatoes to absorb dressing.

While the shallots are cooking, drizzle steaks with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper or seasoning blend. Place steaks on preheated grill pan and cook 7 to 8 minutes for rare or 12 minutes for medium-well, turning once. Let the meat rest 5 minutes before slicing.

While the steaks cook, heat the remaining olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms and white part of green onions and cook until mushrooms are dark and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add wine and reduce for 1 minute. add butter in small pieces and turn off heat. Slice steaks against grain and top with mushrooms, then scatter the parsely and green onion greens across the top. Serve with warm Dijon potato salad alongside.

Weekend Warriors

The kitchen was unpacked last Sunday, not this past Sunday but the Sunday before. Nancy gave us a hydrangea (pictured below) and some granite counter-top sealer, cleaner and disinfectant for a move in gift and so I went to work getting the counters sealed to prevent the granite from staining via oils, water, juices, etc. Plus, it's more sanitary to have them sealed.

This past Saturday was Paul's birthday, and was the first big cooking day in the kitchen. When he was in Sweden I didn't bother cooking dinner- it was mainly cereal and leftovers and one indulgent night of Taco Bell. I made Paul a meat and potatoes meal-his food of choice- and got a fantastic recipe from my new Rachel Ray's Just in Time Cookbook. I learned to not count on it taking 30 minutes as she says, because by the time you add in all the chopping, you've added 15-30 minutes if you're a slow chopper like me.

By golly the recipes are good though. This was a grilled steak, thinly sliced and topped with sauteed mushrooms and green onions with a side of warm potato salad with bacon and dijon mustard and scallions. This was a hit! I made broccoli too to get some veggies in.

I also made a birthday cake on Saturday for Paul....

....and finished one panel of the curtains (for the window that faces the neighbors) so that we could eat our cake in the bath.

Cake in the bath with candles and sparkling berry juice (red wine for Paul) topped the birthday party of two!
I'll post the recipe for dinner another time when I have the cookbook handy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Signing and Moving

Well, here we are signing our life away a week ago last Thursday. We signed a million documents to buy our home, it seemed, but it was a fun experience with the attorney and our realtor, Nancy Edwards, who was there too.

Here we are as proud new home owners, with Nancy on the right. The attorney had just given us the keys. Paul, Nancy and I went out to lunch while we were waiting for all the funds to be transfered to where they needed to be. Our lender expedited things so that when we came back from lunch we were handed the keys!

Loading up the first load on Saturday morning. It took Paul and I two days to get this first load packed, starting Thursday after signing and getting our keys. Saturday, some people from my church, who I had never met, came and helped us unload at our house and carry furniture upstairs, which took all of about an hour! Then we all went back to our apartment, loaded up load #2, had pizza, and unloaded again at the other end. We don't know what we would have done without the 5 extra helpers!

Sunday morning Paul left for Sweden (work) and I spent the rest of the week between work and tying up loose ends. Some ladies from church (half of which I hadn't met) arrived at my apartment Monday morning and we got the place spotless in about an hour. Cleanup crew pictured below.

Starting to look and feel like home! Note that the bathroom curtains are still in progress on the floor center front below:

I have some more pictures from this weekend, but will post later... lunch break is over!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Priority Curtains

I know, I still haven't posted pictures of our move (really there aren't too many because: who had time to take pictures?). But I'm here in the field again, in South Carolina this time, and was feeling frustrated having to be away from our new home and all the new projects that need doing. So I brought a priority project with me: curtain material and my sewing machine. After our work was done yesterday, I grabbed a quick, but delicious, bite at Olive Garden and raced back to my hotel room to start sewing.

We have a bathroom window that faces other houses and so I've been showering in the morning when I don't need to turn any lights on. The whole house is wide open for everyone to see, but the bathroom is hard to be hidden in when showering. So, one night after work, when not dealing with our faulty smoke detector that chirped whenever it felt like it, I went to Target and found some shower curtains that I liked really well, and I figured were cheaper than expensive drapes. But then at Hancock Fabric they were having a sale on all decorator fabric and I found a perfect, sheer fabric that went really nicely laid over the shower curtain material. Then I realized that the sheer fabric and shower curtain were still not opaque enough combined to be private from our neighbors, so I bought some inexpensive muslin to line the curtain with. Whew. I can't say these curtains are exactly the most inexpensive, now that I'm done shopping, but they will be darn pretty!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Operation Move is Complete

Yep. We made it! Escrow closed on Thursday, we loaded and moved on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and that is the very brief summary of a lot of high energy activity. Today I took Paul to the airport, unpacked the kitchen stuff, sealed the granite countertops and did laundry. I will elaborate more another time when I find my camera and have had a bit more rest. Just wanted to say all is well, we love our new home, and hope you all are doing fine!