Five Favorites – on the right day! (I think)

Here’s a first!  I decided while making dinner that I wanted to post a mishmash of favorite things on the blog tonight, and I thought, “Too bad I don’t ever feel like doing that when Hallie does her Five Favorites.”  So I entered the blog world to see when Hallie usually posted those, so I could joke, “Haha, it’s not ___day, but I felt like doing some favorites…”

And it’s the right day!  The stars have alligned and I’m doing my first “link-up.”

In no particular order, five things I’m loving right now…

1. This video.

2. Fix You by Coldplay.  Yes, I know it’s probably playing on the oldies station these days, but I fell in love with it again and want to make that a soundtrack to something.  I love how it starts mellow and then builds.  It’s kind of funny that I don’t have a particular memory to attach with “where was I in 2005 when Fix You was on the radio” — of course, my very fond memory that has “Yellow” as its soundtrack is from 2006, so I suppose I’m just a little slow.

Anyway, it’s my song of the moment right now.

3. My balcony.  Some days it’s just a normal balcony.  Other days it’s the front seat to a gorgeous display of God’s love.  When I saw this last night, how could I not stop what I was doing and go outside to pray my rosary while the sun set?

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And I love how quickly the sky changes.

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Those hardly do it justice, of course.

4. Rock star mics.  You know, those microphones that go around your ear instead of clipping on to your lapel?  I used my first one a few weeks ago when I was teaching close to 400 catechists in the diocese of Lexington.  If you’re a guy, lapel mics might be easy to use.  But even then your tie might hit it or it might be clipped to your tie and your suit coat hits it or it’s too low or it picks up your heart beating wildly because you’re nervous (okay, maybe not), and if you’re a girl, it’s hard to find a good place to pin it if you’re not wearing a powersuit… etc, etc, etc.  Well, I loved the rock star mic.  You kind of forget they’re there — you can talk in a regular voice and not worry about it picking you up and you can wave your arms and beat your breast and do all sorts of things without worrying about the microphone.  I always kind of made fun of them, especially when priests wore them, because they remind me of Britney Spears.  But they’re awesome.  And I want my own personal one.

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Here’s a random picture of Lexington because it’s beautiful.  Sorry it’s crooked — we were driving down the highway. (I wasn’t driving, don’t worry.)  I’m not posting the selfie I took of me with the rock star mic, because I was trying to take it inconspicuously in front of 400 people and so I have a double chin.

Teaching in front of 400 people was pretty fun — it was only the second time in my life I’ve spoken in front of that many people, and I’m not entirely sure the other group was that large.  So it may have been the largest group I’ve ever taught.  In the middle of my third talk I saw a bride taking pictures in the garden of the church (she was standing where I could see her from the stage but everyone else had their back to her), and I exclaimed — mid-sentence — “Aww, a bride!”  and everyone turned around and laughed. Keepin’ it real, folks.  That’s why they love me.  I’m unpredictable.

5. Leftover mashed potatoes and cottage cheese.  “Weird,” you’re thinking.  That’s because you haven’t tried it.  If you had, you would be thinking, “Awesome.”  I actually made extra mashed potatoes the other night so that I could have leftovers.  I have to give credit to my sister Jill for teaching me the trick.  Something about the warm mashed potatoes and the cold cottage cheese, the difference in texture…  Winner. And that’s my dinner tonight.  (With fresh green beans, of course, for color.  And for manganese and vitamin k.)

Hmm…. Okay, so I thought based on the dates of Hallie’s former Five Favorites posts that it was Tuesday, but maybe it’s Wednesday.  Oh well!  These are my favorites and I’m stickin’ with ’em.

Making a condo a home

I need to be in the blogging mood to blog, which I suppose is why I’m not a professional blogger.  After a great stretch of daily blogging, I fell off the wagon and have had a hard time coming back.  So I’m coming in easy — rather than blogging about something important, I’ll just blog about what I’ve been up to in my absence.

Two weeks ago, Mom and Dad came down to help me paint my apartment.  I already had a color picked out for the main room, hallways, and guest room.  I found a nice gray through a fun blog called Young House Love, and I had gotten a sample can and affirmed my love for the neutral color.  My kitchen was posing more of a dilemma, as I mentioned here in the past, and the second orange sample I had purchased wasn’t doing it for me.   While we painted the main room, I went back and forth about what to do with the kitchen.  Mom suggested red, and since I had given up hope matching this color, I thought red was a pretty good idea.

On one of our many trips to the hardware store, I found a bright red I thought I liked and bought a quart.

What was I thinking?  Until now, I had been so practical — always finding a color online, buying a sample pint, testing it, analyzing it… and here I had just purchased an entire quart of a red I had only seen on a paint sample card.

We painted the whole kitchen “tricycle red.”  There really isn’t much to my kitchen that isn’t cabinets, so it didn’t take long.

Thank goodness.  … Because it was bright.  Very bright.

But maybe I liked it.  Maybe I didn’t.  Arrrgh!  I debated it all night and the next morning.  Unfortunately for my father, since I’m a woman, I analyzed it out loud.  Back and forth. Back and forth.  Did I like it?  Was it too bright?  Was it cheerful?  Was it garish?

Arrgh.

Mom and I headed back to the hardware store, picked out a red that was slightly warmer, slightly more orange.  I purchased a sample pint and brought it back home.  While dad was finishing up the guest room, I painted a swatch of “claret rose” over tricycle red.

Dad walked into the kitchen.  “Dad, what do you think?”  Pause.  “Where did you paint?”

It was difficult to tell, but I knew I liked it more.  So I returned to the store, purchased claret rose, and came back to repaint the kitchen.  My dad is such a trooper.

Mom named this picture “Indecision”:

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So I guess we can call this picture “Decision”….

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The wall around the doorway on the right is my gray (“Collingwood”) although next to that red it doesn’t really look like anything!  I really love it, though.  Since I have crown molding in the main room, the white really sets the gray off nicely.

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Here’s another view of the red kitchen with the Collingwood main room.

I can’t say enough how much I love my home.  Now that almost every room is painted and the concrete floors are almost a distant memory, I might love this place too much.  I loved it when I moved in, but now it feels like home.  How has the place been transformed?  This is the answer in a single picture:

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From the very first painting project- that green bathroom – to my blue bedroom to the wonderful new laminate floors and carpet… I love it.

As you know, my mom spent the last week with me while the new floors were installed.  We had a great time and it was hard to let her drive away with Dad after it was all over.

Some of our time together was spent moving furniture from one room to another to prepare for the floors.  And moving books.  I have a lot of books…  Picture this, times twenty…

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But just like Dad, Mom is a trooper.  I owe them so much.

We also had time for fun, like a run to Jeni’s for ice cream.  As soon as I saw on Twitter that they had Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries ice cream as one of their summer flavors, Mom and I were too intrigued not to make the trip over to the east side of town.

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It was worth the trip.  Definitely strange — it really tasted like corn — and I don’t think I could have eaten a pint of it, but it was delicious.  I paired it with Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk and Mom paired it with Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean.  All winners.  You got to love Jeni’s – where else do you find Green Tomato Frozen Yogurt?

She also got me addicted to Brother vs Brother, so I’m ending this boring post to go see who’s going to win tonight.

40 years

This blog post from my sister is worth revisiting today: 38 Years

Mom and Dad aren’t even together today.  Why?  Because they’re still sacrificing for their children.  Mom is here with me so that new floors can be laid in my house without me staying home from work.  What better way to celebrate 40 years than to sacrifice for one of your kids, right?  Like they haven’t done that enough.

Happy Anniversary, Dad and Mom.

Just add bacon.

I’m a member of a great book club.  The reason we’re great?  Not only is the club made up of great women of varying ages and states of life (well, married and single.  We don’t have nuns in the book club at the moment), but we actually discuss the book we’ve agreed to read.  I know, it’s shocking.

We don’t meet every month, just whenever someone mentions, “Hey, didn’t we agree to read a book a few months ago?  Should we actually get around to reading it and meet at my house in three weeks for dinner?”

That’s how we roll.

Most recently we agreed to read the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  It’s not a book I would have picked off the shelf, but my sister and mom both recommended it.  I knew that one of my friends in book club had read it a few years earlier in another book club, so I threw it out as a suggestion.  It’s not like the other books we had read, but I thought we could use something a little more light-hearted.  …If a story about an island occupied by Nazis is light-hearted.  (That shows what kind of books we’ve been reading.)

It was a fantastic read, despite the recommendation from the Eat, Pray, Love lady on the cover of it.  Don’t judge a book by the recommendation on its cover.

This post isn’t about the book, though.

We always meet for dinner, and occasionally the food has something to do with what we read.  This time it was easy – the people in this book gathered around food just like we do.

They just didn’t have very good food.  It was World War II, after all.  So keep that in mind.

Linda had planned to have pork as the main dish, since their Literary Society actually began after eating a pig.  (You have to read the book.)  As for the title… well, we had to have Potato Peel Pie, right?

I volunteered, always up for a challenge.  As I looked for recipes, it became clear that it’s not a dish you want to eat during peacetime.  The website for the book basically said, “Don’t make this.  It was wartime. They were desperate.”

Did that stop me?  It probably should have, but it didn’t.

I found an updated recipe that basically consisted of a pie crust made with potato peels, filled with mashed potatoes.  I figured I could throw in some scallions and garlic and bacon into the mashed potatoes and it would be fine.

Three hours before book club, I went back to find the recipe and found this intriguing video.  It was a different updated version of the potato peel pie – straight from modern day Guernsey.

Maybe it was the British accent that got me. I decided to take a risk and make this version. Did it bother me that the recipe wasn’t written anywhere? That it was vague in some parts and in metric in others? Nah.

I headed to Target to buy a mandolin.  I have the luxury of having a kitchen with lots of storage space.  So why not fill it with fun gadgets?  As a side note – where has the mandolin been all my life? I knew I always wanted to learn to play one. But as a cooking instrument? Hello!  They’re wonderful.

I made the topping without trouble — mandolining potatoes like nobody’s business. Then I got to work creating the filling.

I tried to grate the potato like the video instructed, but I think I needed a bigger grater.  And you don’t realize how watery potatoes are until you start to grate them. Grating the onion was an even bigger mess. So I started to julienne them both instead.

Then I had to tackle the measurement issue. It hadn’t told me how many potatoes to grate, so I just guessed. Then it had given me the flour measurement in grams. What is 500 grams of flour? One website said 2 cups. Most websites said 4. In the YouTube video, he definitely did not have four cups in his bowl.  So I went with two.

I threw in some scallions and some bacon, crossed my fingers, and stuck the thing in the oven.  I was running out of time, so I flipped my oven to “convection bake” and hoped for the best.

How was I supposed to know it was ready?  Looking back, I probably over cooked it– but it’s hard to tell, when you don’t know what the thing is supposed to look like or taste like.

Everyone was very supportive of the adventure, and they oohed and ahhed properly when I flipped the pan over and unveiled my handiwork.  But I’m sure we were all thankful that there were plenty of other things to eat.

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What it lacked in flavor, it made up for in looks.

It wasn’t bad… it just kind of was.  It was just there.  Dense. Bready.  Potato-y.  There.  Darcy suggested that it would pair well with soup, and I think it would.  maybe with soup poured all over the top of it.

And if you were starving during the War, it would probably be a delicacy.

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I think Linda said it best when she casually declared, “The bacon was a good idea.”