Monday, November 23, 2015

The Cold Air Cometh

How was your weekend?  
Are you busy preparing for Thanksgiving, or
are you already onto Christmas?

It was busy around here this weekend.  With temperatures threatening to fall below freezing, it was time for the big plant move-in.  We've had unseasonable warm (sometimes hot) weather, this autumn,  postponing the necessity to winterize the garden.  In other words, yes, I procrastinated. 

Saturday was spent cleaning out and storing garden pots,  rearranging and moving weather sensitive plants into the sunroom and garage.   Moving the Meyer Lemon is always a challenge, but well worth the effort.   We will enjoy these lemons through the holidays.  And, because of the warm autumn, I have tons of baby lemons.  (I'm always looking for the blessing.)  Keeping my fingers crossed I don't lose too many from the transition.   

Coming in wet  (I was the one with the hose cleaning the pots and saucers) and cold at the end of the day, soup was on the dinner menu.   

Using vegetables on hand,  from the freezer and grabbing a few things from the pantry it wasn't difficult to stir up my version of a Creole Vegetable Soup. Do you like making soups?  Soups are so easy to create; and they are good for the body and soul. 

Sunday afternoon was spent curled up with this month's book group selection, A Prayer for Owen Meany.  It is a reread for me.  I am enjoying it very much this second time around    Oops, with the sun streaming in, a little nap might have slipped in as well.  I do love Sunday afternoons!

Sending you a big Thank You for staying with me through my absences, and
wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Holiday Exchange

As a young mother one of my favorite events was my mother's support group's annual cookie swap. Most of us had very young children and very little time for baking.  The idea was each member would bake enough of one type of cookie for each member to claim a dozen to take home to have on hand for the holidays.   It was always such fun to see the variety.

When Elizabeth at Pinecones and Acorns posted a "Virtual Cookie Exchange", I couldn't resisted pulling out a favorite Christmas (not technically cookie) recipe.

These rum balls are always a favorite at our Christmas Eve gathering.  Any leftovers are boxed up and sent home with our guests.     

Royal Rum Balls
(recipe from Christmas with Southern Living 1995)
Yield:  3 dozen

2 cups gingersnaps crumbs 
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup ground pecans, toasted
1/3 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/3 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional powdered sugar and gingersnap crumbs

Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add first 6 ingredients.  Process until blended; add rum and next 3 ingredients.  Process until mixture holds together.

Shape into 1 1/4" balls.  Roll balls in additional powdered sugar or gingersnap crumbs.  Repeat rolling procedure.

If rum balls are made ahead, reroll balls in either  powdered sugar or gingersnap crumbs, to refreshen, before serving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Ramblings

"When you saw her every day, you could forget that Nelle's novel was something so many people had in common...not just having read it but having been taken by it.  That kind of influence, of connection, is hard to grasp.  How do you measure the reach of a book that goes beyond staggering sales figures and Top Ten Favorite Books of all Time lists to something more profound, to the connection of readers to the story, of readers to one another, of one generation to the next?" 
                                                                                                Marja Mills 
                                                                                    The Mockingbird Next Door

There was never a question I would purchase it.   There was never a doubt I would read it.  My copy of Go Set a Watchman arrived wrapped in a brown paper package days after I left to help my daughter.  It was two and a half weeks before I would return, and three before I would unwrap it and begin reading.

Controversy has followed Harper Lee since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Many have long believed her dear friend, Truman Capote,  either authored or heavily edited "Mockingbird".  Lee most likely contributed to these rumors by staying away from the public eye and never having another book published.

Now, fifty-five years later another Harper Lee controversy.  Go Set a Watchman has been under the microscope from the day HarperCollins announced it would publish a newly found manuscript penned by none other than the reclusive Harper Lee.

Did Lee write this new find?

Did she authorize its publication?

Are these the reasons we want to dislike this book?

 Or, maybe we heard Atticus Finch is not the man we have admired for so many decades.

No matter, there was never a doubt I would read this book from the beginning word..."Since" to the very last..."head".  I did not love it.  The story is okay.  The writing is somewhat elementary, though we were warned this would be an unedited publication.  I couldn't embrace any of the characters.

After all the chatter about Atticus having a dark side, I awaited his fall from grace with each turn of the page.  For me, it didn't happen.   The Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird is a good man, a good father.  Yes, the Atticus Finch of Go Set a Watchman is fallible.  He is a man of his time and environment, and yet is able to set aside these prejudices to step up for what is right.  Who is most admirable?  The man who has no demons, or the man who, in spite of his beliefs, is able to put them behind and step up for what is just?

The above is a post I began in late July just after reading, Go Set a Watchman. 

One morning just before school began I met a good friend for coffee to catch-up with life.  After talking about our latest travels and families, our discussion, as always, turned to books.  We exchanged our respective book group lists for the new reading year, and discussed our latest book finds.  We had both reread To Kill a Mockingbird, and just finished Go Set a Watchman.    She shared her unswayable opinion of the newest release, and suggested I read The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills.

A few weeks ago I found the time to read The Mockingbird Next Door, and found it throughly enjoyable.  Opening this book we are given intimate access to an author who has spent her life staying out of the public eye.   There is so much more within the pages of this book than just a biography of a reclusive writer.  I leave you with Elizabeth Berg's beautifully written review with hopes it might entice you to read this delightful book.

“You might come to The Mockingbird Next Door to find out why Harper Lee never wrote another novel. But you’ll stay with it for its lush evocation of the South, and for the insight into what made this reclusive author the person she became. In these pages, you’ll see the book-crowded house where Harper Lee lives with her sister, Alice. You’ll go along on outings, sit in living rooms and at restaurant tables with the Lees, read faxes they and the author send back and forth, and appreciate the small and not-so-small revelations they offer: life when they were growing up with their father, who was the model for Atticus Finch; how reading sustains a person for a lifetime, how deeply embedded values don’t change just because the times do, why it’s a good idea to regularly count the ducks you feed. I suppose we all thrill to the notion of learning personal things about a deeply private but world-famous person. What we don’t necessarily expect to see is how gently, respectfully and, above all, naturally it can be done. While I appreciated getting to see and hear the ‘real’ Harper Lee, I enjoyed as well the chance to meet Marja Mills, the woman who did what no one before her had because of her guileless trustworthiness, kindness, and care."

Happy Reading!


Monday, November 2, 2015

Time Passed

"Some things in life are out of your control.  You can make it a party or a tragedy."
Nora Roberts

I didn't mean to be away so long.
 One thing happened, then another.

Summer passed, I remember so little;
 now autumn is half gone.
One thing happened, then another.

A school year ended, and before I found time to breathe,
a fresh group of faces danced through my classroom door.
One thing happened, then another.

Time passed.

I've missed writing.
I've missed dreaming.
I've missed reading.
I've missed our conversations here.

I've been needed.
At times I feel I've lost control...
Then, I remember, lessons are learned, and
 blessings are found
 when we let go.

Time is precious, and doesn't stand still,
but when you are needed, wanted,
 it is not so hard to give it away without regret.

We will catch up!