Gathering Graces 1/19/2018

*Today Mom would have turned 87 years old.  But she was not here with us to celebrate.  But she was here in spirit as Bill, Christy and I spent the afternoon together celebrating Mom.  When people would ask me how it was throughout the Christmas holidays without Mom being there, I would often answer that there were some hard moments, but, overall, it wasn’t too bad because I was surrounded by my loving family members who helped the time be one of healing instead of constant.  Last week when I realized Mom’s birthday was coming up, and that it could be a hard day for all of us, I asked my siblings if they would like to have an sibling out together and go to lunch to celebrate Mom’s birthday and raise a toast in her honor.  They both agreed.  And it was a wonderful day being with my siblings, sharing stories about Mom, and being with two wonderful people who I love, and who I know love me as well.  We went to Coeur d’Alene and had lunch at The Daft Badger, an establishment owned by a friend of Bills.  Then we went to Calypso Coffee to finish our afternoon with cups of coffee and more conversation.  It was the perfect way to spend the day.
*Last week I had taken the chicken bones from the chicken I had prepared for Christy’s birthday dinner and made a chicken broth in the Crockpot that took about a week.  The broth had been sitting in the refrigerator this week, and it was time to make some chicken noodle soup.  I went to Yokes and bought some chicken breasts to cook so I could add chunks of chicken to the soup.  As I added cut up carrots, celery and onions to the broth to cook and simmer, I made some noodle dough, rolled it out, cut it up, and dropped the noodles into the soup.  I made these noodles a month or two ago, and I love how easy it is to make noodles for soup.  The soup was absolutely delicious.  Homemade broth and homemade noodles add a depth and texture to the soup that really make eating it something special.  
*I started writing Gathering Graces on January 16, 2017.  My first entry reflected on how I came up with the name, and reflected on what happened in my life on 1/15/2017.  I had no idea what a journey this daily writing would take me when I started it a year ago.  Writing my daily Gathering Graces help me look at the little things in life that make it wonderful.  It helped me work through caring for an ailing mother.  It helped me deal with grief once that ailing mother passed away.  It helped chronicle my trip to Italy.  It helped me realize that what I share, especially about caring for Mom, really helped others who are going through, or anticipate going through something similar.  But I also draw strength from the conversations, comments and messages people send me regarding what I write each day.  And, for me, it has kept me consistently writing on a daily basis.  As I look what I originally wrote as my purpose for writing my daily Gathering Graces, I believe I have fulfilled what I set out to do...
That is what I am going to attempt to do from now on to keep a track for me personally the wonderful things that happen in my life on a daily basis, and to make these things a part of my family and friends near and far who may want a glimpse into my daily life, as I similarly get a glimpse into my brother's daily life.
As I looked at the word "Grace" it fits so well with what I want to share.
As a Christian, God granted me grace by redeeming my life from sin.
We can say "Grace" before a meal to give thanks.
We say someone has grace if they have seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form or proportion.
Grace is also synonymous with mercy, kindness, and goodwill.

In Greek mythology, a Charis, or Grace is one of three or more minor goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility, together known as the Charites or Graces.  The usual list, from youngest to oldest is Aglaea (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer).  In Roman mythology, they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces".


Gathering Graces 1/18/2018

*I started creating a to do list of things I want to accomplish this spring.  It is turning into a very large list.  But I need something to help keep me focused.  I need something I can look to for direction.  I need something that will divert me from sitting on the couch each night as I continue to watch Friends.
*January has been an interesting month for me personally.  I have slowed my pace down. I am not as busy doing activities, but I think there is a lot going in in my life internally. I found this great quote from Rosalie Muller Wright, who was a former editor of Sunset Magazine.  As I read this quote, I could relate personally to what it is saying.
"January is the quietest month in the garden.  ...  But just because it looks quiet doesn't mean that nothing is happening.  The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants.  The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come."
I feel like this quote is describing perfectly what is going on with me right now.  Even though my life outwardly looks quieter, there is a lot going on in my mind, in my soul and in my spirit.  My “soil” is absorbing all kinds of nutrients.  My soil is being aerated by things I am reading, things I am writing, things I am meditating upon, things I am hearing.  I am preparing for a spring awakening, when these dormant seeds and bare roots will start to blossom.  Some have been dormant within me for quite a while.  I am looking forward to seeing what blooms.
*I continue enjoying working with and talking to the seniors, as they go through the process of getting ready for college.  This is such a conflicting time for many of them.  Because they are finishing up a time in their lives that is safe, secure, familiar.  Yet they are planning for a new adventure, one that is both exciting and a little scary, because it is full of unknowns.  I just try and keep them on track as much as possible as they look toward the future, and try and keep as much of the anxiety they are feeling at bay.
*Paul and I are planning a weekend get-a-way in February, and things are falling nicely into place.  I think the last time we were away together was in November 2013 when we went to Denver for the Simply Jesus Gathering.  It has been even longer since we have gone away just to get away...no conference, no other reason, but just to get away to have fun together.  I think it is about time!


Gathering Graces 1/17/2018

*Tonight it was fun hosting the January P.E.O. meeting at my house, with Christy as my co-hostess.  P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization whose mission is to promote educational opportunities for women.  Locally, our chapter raises money so we can provide two scholarships to two Kellogg High School seniors who will be attending college.  There are also other financial opportunities for women who are currently in college, or have taken a break and want to return to college.  It is a wonderful organization. Our meeting tonight was very productive with lots of good conversation.  Plus, it is always a treat to be with the other women in our local P.E.O. chapter.  Sunday is “Wear Your Pin Day”, which gives us an opportunity to share about this organization with other people.
*The program I coordinate at school, Gear Up, has a scholarship they give to seniors if they apply by March 1, submit their FAFSA by March 15, and if they will be attending an Idaho college or university.  The scholarship can be renewed up to four years, and is at least $1500 a year.  Any student who has been a part of Gear Up between 7th and 12th grade can apply for and use the scholarship.  Today I spent some time trying to message students who are not currently at KHS, but have been a part of Gear Up, so they have the opportunity to apply for the scholarship.  Hopefully I can get a few more to apply and take advantage of this scholarship money.
*I had a great conversation with a friend who leads a Bible study at her church, and it really sounds like something I would like to be a part of in the future.  I told her I didn’t want to add anything this spring, but if she was still doing it next fall, I would love to be a part of meeting with some other women and learning from the Bible, and talking to one another about our relationship with God. 


Gathering Graces 1/16/2018

*Today I experienced a little wildlife.  On the way up to the high school for our morning walk, Nikki had to slow the car down before we drove over the bridge over the river because an elk crossed the road right in front of us.  When I left the high school in the afternoon as I was going home for lunch, four big turkeys were making their way across the street.  I love experiencing the wildlife!!
*Yes, the Silver Valley is the Wild, Wild West.  Or it sure seems that way by incidents that recently happened in Mullan, a small town along Interstate 90 just before you cross into Montana.  Since December there has been someone firing shots in a residential area of the town. And this has continued for about a month. This week they finally were able to arrest this man, when they pulled him over on a traffic stop.  I am sure the people in Mullan are sleeping a little easier now that this man has been put in jail.  A very scary situation. But fortunately no one was ever harmed when these shots were fired.
*I was reminded by my friend Kellee today about the song December, 1963 (Oh What A Night) by The Four Seasons.  Every time I hear this song I think of her.  We must have really loved this song when it was released back in 1975.  She reminded me of the two of us creating a routine for our P.E. class using this song.  Ah...P.E. at Kellogg Junior High School....with the red polyester shorts and the red and white striped t-shirts.  That was our “P.E. Uniform”.  At that time, our colors were red and white, and we were the Kellogg Kittens. And, if my memory serves me correctly, you had P.E. all three years in junior high, 7th, 8th and 9th grade years, and wore those shorts and t-shirts each year.  And sometimes they were even a part of your athletic team outfit, if I am not mistaken.
*There was success on the knitting front today as I finally knocked enough cobwebs from my mind and remembered how I cast on to begin a knitting project.  Then I practiced knitting a few rows.  Next I need to add in the purl stitch, which I have never done before.  I know it is an easy thing to do, but it will probably take me a bit to master the purl stitch.


Gathering Graces 1/15/2018

*Tell someone they are fabulous!  I was told today I was fabulous, and it made my day.  My Gear Up director Jacque came up from Boise to visit some North Idaho schools, and she came to KHS and brought me a mocha, and we visited from 11 to 3 about my Gear Up Program, about life, about all kinds of things.  At one point in the conversation she talked about how much she enjoyed visiting and she told me I was fabulous.  I don’t get complimented like that too often, so it made my day. So if you have a chance....tell someone you are with today that they are fabulous!!  I am pretty sure it will make their day.
*After school I headed out to Pinehurst Elementary to work with some of the students doing some drama activities.  At one point in the conversation, we started talking about our middle names, and what our middle names were.  There are  two brothers in the group.  The older brother shared his middle name, and the younger brother shared his own middle name, which was Alden.  The older brother said, “do you know why his middle name is Alden.  It is because he is the youngest in our family, and after he was born, my parents said they were ‘All Done’!!”  Yes, I got a kick out of that story.
*When I arrived home, Paul had started dinner.  He had gone to the grocery store and bought some fish, some jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon and stuffed with seafood, and we had a kale salad that was in the fridge.  It was really good, and a nice surprise!!
*A crackling fire in the fireplace, relaxing while continuing to watch Friends, and some frustration at trying to relearn how to knit was how I spent my evening.  I know the knitting skill will return.  I will just keep plugging away at it.
*Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  We were one of the few school districts around that did have school today.  I know some of the KHS teachers did lessons on MLK today, a man who changed the course of our country’s story by the things he said and the things he did.  I love the song that James Taylor sings about MLK called Shed a Little Light.  I found a special version on You Tube:
on 7/29/15 in Columbia SC, James was joined onstage by Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support.
Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King....


Gathering Graces 1/14/2018

*Tonight family dinner was at Bill and Debbie’s house.   Paul, Christy, Everett and I were also joined by their neighbor and our good friend Jane McShane.  Bill put together a delicious combination of flavors as he presented a Thai dinner this evening.  The starters included a cucumber salad and a broccoli dish.  The main course was shrimp stir fried rice.  Each of these dishes also had cilantro, peanuts, peanut sauce, and two different chili sauces that could be added for flavor.  The evening was finished off with either mango sorbet or coconut-pineapple ice cream.  It was fun to be able to gather at Bill and Debbie’s house, now that their kitchen and living room renovations are complete, and eat around their table, and watch my brother work his magic serving items he has never made before.  We are all glad he spread his culinary wings and served up an array of textures, flavors and colors to give us a satisfying experience.
*Our wood supply was getting low, so we saw an ad a former student of ours put online that he was selling firewood, so we texted him letting him know we would like to buy some firewood from him.  We made arrangements for it to be delivered Sunday morning, and around 8:30 a.m., two of his buddies showed up and unloaded a cord of pine into our garage.  Paul spent the day sorting and stacking it.  We now have plenty of wood now for the rest of this winter, and probably most of next winter.
*I enjoyed church this morning, and we had a pie social during our fellowship time after church.  I enjoyed visiting with some of the people at my table.  One person asked me if I was planning another trip like I did to New York City, when we did a week long mission.  I briefly told her about my trip to Italy, and said my next dream trip would be to visit the Holy Lands.  Two of the people at my table had visited there, and they started sharing stories of their trip, which made me want to travel there even more!!  I always dreamed of visiting NYC, and didn’t know how I would get there, and have now been there two times to visit.  I always dreamed of visiting Europe, and was able to go there last summer.  So it will be fun to see how a trip to Israel comes about.


Gathering Graces 1/13/2018

*Around 9:30 a.m. I drove over to The Bean to meet my sister-in-law Debbie for coffee.  The weekend before we had talked about me starting a knitting project, so I brought my knitting bag, that I finally found, and I pulled all kinds of things out of this bag, and Debbie helped me get it organized, and she will help me start the project tomorrow.  When I got home, I did some more looking, and found some other yarn in Zoe’s room that I may be able to use, too.
*One of the members of our book group found a podcast that Sherman Alexie and Jess Walters did for a couple of years called A Tiny Bit of Accomplishment.  Walters is also an award winning author who grew up in Spokane.  I listened to a couple episodes this morning.  I haven’t decided if I want to continue or not.  I will keep listening to a few more and see.
*Molly and Travis drove to Spokane this morning so Molly could take her Special Education Praxis test, another step in her quest for her degree in Special Education.  They had asked us if we wanted to meet for dinner, and we decided to meet around 4 p.m. for dinner.  Paul and I went a little early to do some shopping at Costco, then Paul went and got his hair cut at The Locker Room.  I headed up to Petco to pick up some treats for Toby, and also went into Bed, Bath and Beyond to check out their flatware.  We are on a quest to get a new set of flatware.  But we both realize we are pretty picky when it comes to buying a new set.  The flatware has to have the right feel.  I found one kind that might work, but we will continue looking.
*We met Molly and Travis at a place in Post Falls called The Republic Kitchen and Taphouse.  Molly and Travis discovered this place last summer, and have been there a few times and rave about it, so we decided to check it out with them.  It is housed in The Samuel and Ann Young House, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  The Youngs came to Post Falls in 1896, and helped in the development of the Post Falls community.  There is a nice outside area to sit that looks like a wonderful place to be when the weather is nice.  Inside, it has the original trim and is decorated with a lot of old photographs and memorabilia.  I enjoyed my Monte Cristo sandwich with a sweet potato salad.  Everyone enjoyed their meals, and we will definitely return there someday to eat.
*When we returned home, I worked on updating my checkbook, and getting back to watching the movie Into The Wild.  What an interesting story of a young man setting out to live in the wilderness of Alaska.  But on his journey to Alaska, he met many people along the way, and the movie shared some of those stories. And the movie made this young man out to be a really great guy.  It is based on a book by the same title by Jon Krakauer.  I think I have the book around here somewhere, and I look  forward to reading it someday.


Gathering Graces 1/12/2018

*I enjoyed hosting book group today as we discussed You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.  One member was not able to read the whole book, because of stories of how the author and his contemporaries were treated as Native Americans growing up.  In the book, Alexie often refers to the liberal white person wanting to save him.  I think that may have been part of our problem as a group of liberal white women reading this book.  We are horrified by the stories, want to fix it, but do not have the answers.  And know that many of the things he wrote about continue today.  I highly recommend this book, even though the subject matter is hard to read at times.  The writing is what kept me coming back.  When I started to read this book, there was an expectation on my part that it would be about him grieving the life of his mother, who had recently passed away.  Instead, I felt like it was a book about him grieving his Native American culture.  I challenge you to read the book, and you decide.
*The menu for today’s gathering was Indian Tacos.  Instead of using a tortilla like a traditional taco, you make Indian Fry Bread.  The recipe I followed instructed me to brown hamburger and add chili seasoning and kidney beans to the meat.  Then there was cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream to go on top of the fry bread.  We also had a warm vegetable dish, canned pears and fruit with orange sherbet, and ice cream cake and brownies and ice cream for dessert.  It was a wonderful gathering.  If you are interested, the recipe I used is here for the Indian tacos.
*The last time I remember making Indian Fry Bread was in one of Molly’s grade school classes at Meridian Elementary.  Christy was teaching in a school on the Colville Indian Reservation.  We thought it would be fun to have Molly’s class and the same grade class at Christy’s school do a type of exchange throughout the year.  So they wrote letters to one another, and we found out one of their unique cultural foods was the Indian Fry Bread.  So I made it sometime during the school year for Molly’s classmates.  It was delicious then, and now that I have made it again, and realize how easy it is, I have to make it again.
*Today Paul and I spent every two hours checking our cat Toby’s blood glucose levels.  This requires poking him in the ear and drawing blood, and using a monitor to give you a reading.  We did that every two hours from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Then we will share the results with our veterinarian, and see if Toby’s insulin needs to be adjusted.  Toby was a trooper throughout the whole ordeal.
*Paul and I started watching the movie Into the Wild last night, but I fell asleep, so we didn’t finish it.  So we will try again tomorrow.  But we did watch the next episode of The Crown, which was very good.


Gathering Graces 1/11/2018

*I slept in.
*I started reading, instead of listening to, the book You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. I need to finish it by tomorrow when my book group meets.
*Because of the subject matter of many of the stories he shares in the book, I have to take breaks from reading.  So my comedy relief throughout the day was the sitcom Friends.
*There have been some clothes in the laundry room that have been there for a while and needed laundered.  So I spent time getting caught up on laundry today.
*I am by no means a bird expert, but at one point this afternoon, these beautiful colored birds with long beaks were feeding at the bird feeder outside the dining room window.  I had seen one earlier in the fall, and thought it resembled a woodpecker, but seemed more colorful.  I grabbed my Peterson Field Guides Western Birds book I keep by that window to see if I could identify these birds.  I believe this bird is a Northern “Red-Shafted” Flicker.  It is in the woodpecker family, but not a woodpecker.  They have a beautiful salmon-red color under their wings.  It is a little pleasure, but I love the fact that I am able to be home to see these birds feed in our bird feeder, and take the time to identify what kind of bird it may be.
*I also napped.
*We didn’t get as much snow as they predicted yesterday.  It rained some.  It snowed some.  We had maybe an inch or so of new snow by the end of the day.  It is beautiful outside.
*On Wednesday, I forgot to post this photo.  This is Cosette on very last first day of school.  Only one more semester to go!!

Cosette's last first day of school for semester two at U of I


Gathering Graces 1/10/2018

*A fun evening was had by all as we gathered at Chris Schonewald Meyer’s beautiful home for a birthday celebration for Christy.  Chris prepared a delicious meal, and the company was good for sharing many funny stories and lots of laughs.  It was a wonderful way to spend an evening, and celebrating my sister’s birthday with Chris, Dawn Arnhold McLees, Teresa Hill Baillie, and Debbie Diedrich
*The flu continues to reek havoc on the students and staff in our school district, and our community.  So much so that all schools are closed Thursday and Friday and plan to reopen on Monday.  I think I was becoming a hypochondriac throughout the day, thinking I was developing flu symptoms, but, in all reality, I was just fine.  I think I may have been a bit dehydrated is all.
*Part of my morning was spent at the school district office doing some invoicing for my program, and having a wonderful conversation with with Nancy Larsen, who oversees my grant for the district, and the new business manager Angela Durick.  It was nice having those little moments of interaction with people when you don’t expect it, but you come away enjoying the talk so much.
*I wasn’t expecting to see our little blue truck we just had towed off on the road so soon.  As I was driving over to pick up Christy and Debbie and Dawn for the party tonight, I saw it drive past me, and pull into the Conoco Gas Station by Yokes.  That was kind of weird. But I am glad the truck has found a new home.
* Paul and I always look forward to being able to be home together and just hang out around the house when these unexpected days of no school happen.  We are suppose to get between six and 12 inches of snow tomorrow, so I look forward to being warm and cozy in our home, watching the snow fall.


Gathering Graces 1/9/2018

*Requiem to two blue vehicles.  In the early morning hours, our friend Brandon Church and another employee from Jim’s Bobcat and Towing hauled away our two old vehicles.  We had called in early December for a guy in CDA to come and get them, but then the snow arrived, and he was never able to come.  On Monday, these two vehicles were “tagged” by the city.  That means they needed to be moved so they could get the snow removed they were parked in on the street.  So they were generously towed away before the city towed them away for us, and charged a fee.  It was sad to see them go, even though these vehicles haven’t been used for a while.  The blue pickup was Dad’s last truck.  The Lumina car was Mom’s car that she gave to Molly so she could have a car to use when Mom bought her last new car.  There are lots of memories associated with these two vehicles.  And now we say good-bye.
*Today was Christy’s birthday, and her and Everett were going to Wallace to have dinner, and she asked us, and Bill and Debbie to join them for dinner.  Unfortunately Paul had a meeting at church, and I had a meeting as well, so we were unable to join the celebration.  But I did briefly see Christy earlier in the day, and wished her a very Happy Birthday.
*As I work with seniors now, a lot of it is making sure they are taking the steps needed so they are on track to go to college, if that is the path they have chosen.  I helped three seniors complete their FAFSA and submit it during homeroom.  Woo Hoo!!
*I had more students in my drama group in the after school program today.  What a joy to work with these students, and get to hear their stories and learn about them.  At the end of the day, before the students were getting ready to go home, they were handed a note saying there would be no school or after school program for the rest of the week due to the flu that has swept through the elementary school.  Right now, KHS, KMS and Canyon are still having school, but are being monitored.
*I have shared before how little things can set me off in strange ways regarding the loss of Mom.  This evening I was watering plants.  Some needed some dead leaves removed, so I brought all the plants into the kitchen so I could clean the plants up, remove dead leaves, and give them a good watering.  As I was watering one particular plant, which had been Mom’s plant, I found a small green Monopoly game house in the soil.  It struck me as funny, and started me questioning the reason why it was there.  Which got me thinking about Mom as well.  I think there is a story or poem that needs to be written about this discovery.  I’m going to start working on coming up with something about the small green house.

Small green Monopoly house


Gathering Graces 1/8/2018

*There are certain things I realize I am picky about using in the kitchen.  For example, there are a few forks that really feel good that I like to use.  Another is what I drink my coffee out of in the morning.  I have my favorites.  And Molly gave me a new “Best Mom Ever” mug for Christmas, and it has a good feel to it, too.  I had another “Best Mom” cup that got broken over the summer, so it is nice to get another one!!
*Today was the first day of doing drama with students at the PASS after school program at Pinehurst Elementary.  I enjoyed working with the four students that were there today, and talking to them, and hearing their stories.  The numbers were low because Pinehurst Elementary had almost 150 students home sick today, and KHS had almost 50 students home sick.  I guess the flu is running rampant in the schools.  I pray that the kids start feeling better soon.
*Recently I cleaned my bedroom, and I love that my bedroom is clean, but now I am missing a bag of knitting supplies I had got out so I could start using them, but I don’t know what I did with the bag when I cleaned up the bedroom.  Before the clean up, it was at the foot of my bed on top of a bunch of boxes.  The boxes are gone from the bedroom, as is the bag of knitting supplies.  The boxes are out in the hallway outside my bedroom.  The knitting bag....who knows where it went.  I looked everywhere I thought it could be this evening, and I could not find it.  But I will not be deterred.  It has to show up eventually.
*I continued listening to Sherman Alexie’s book You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. I love the way he writes this story, combining prose and poetry.  Some of the things he shares are really hard to hear.  For me, the hard part to listen to is not the mourning of his mother or his grief, it is the stories he shares of growing up, and being a Native American and the heart-wrenching tales he tells of his treatment because of his race.


Gathering Graces 1/7/2018

*I spent the day doing what I love.  Cooking and sharing that meal with family.  Our family dinner tonight was a celebration of Christy’s birthday.  A couple of weeks ago she sent out a request for her birthday menu:  roasted chicken, Caesar salad, green beans and rice pilaf, and a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  And she wanted Old Fashioned cocktails served before dinner.  Bill said he would take on the cocktail duties.  I said I would take on the meal preparation duties.
*Sometime over Christmas break, Christy was looking at my bookshelf of cookbooks, and said she didn’t know I had Julia Child’s cookbook  Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I had forgot I had it.  My friend Anita had sent it to me sometime in the last year or two.  After Christy shared her menu requests, I looked up recipes in this cookbook, and found out I could prepare everything on the list from this cookbook, except the Caesar salad. I used the Bon Appetit website for that recipe.
*What a marvelous experience preparing these items.  As I mentioned yesterday, I worked on the cake close to six hours on Saturday.  I baked four round layers, made an orange filling to go between the layers, and then covered it in a chocolate butter frosting.  And it turned out pretty good.  The cakes were made by separating eggs, and whisking the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla.  Then you take the egg whites and beat them with sugar until they form stiff peaks.  Then you fold in the whites with the eggs a little at a time, and also add flour.  At the end you add melted butter.  Then bake.  My right arm is getting stronger from all the whisking I have done in the past two days!!

The birthday cake
*I have never been a big Caesar salad fan.  But I am now after making homemade Caesar dressing for the salad.  You take crushed garlic and salt, and combine it with two large egg yolks, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, vegetable oil, finely grated Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.  I made the salad with leaf lettuce rather than the traditional Romaine lettuce, because there is an e coli outbreak associated with Romaine lettuce, but the red leaf lettuce worked just fine.  Before serving I plated the lettuce, added some dressing, put on some croutons and topped with grated Parmesan cheese.  Again, much whisking involved!

Caesar Salad

*The French way of preparing green beans is to boil them for about 8 minutes, then remove them from the water and cool them off in cold water, dry them off, and then they sat in a colander on the counter until just before they were served.  I heated a pan up on the stove, and added the beans to a dry hot frying pan to remove the water.  Then I added butter and lemon juice, and heated the beans back up.  After putting the beans in a dish, I added some fresh parsley on top. 

Green beans with lemon juice and parsley
*The roasted chicken involved lots of basting.  To prepare the chicken, you put salt in the cavity and rub softened butter inside the bird.  Then you rub the outside with butter as well.  I didn’t really truss the chicken as it said to, but I did tie the legs together as it cooked.  I melted butter and olive oil on the stove, and this was used to baste the bird every 10 minutes throughout the cooking time until it was gone, then you used the drippings in the bottom of the pan.  You also roast the bird on the left side for about an hour, then the right side for 45 minutes, then you roast at the end with the breast side up.  Then you take the pan drippings and make a sauce to put over the meat once it is sliced.

Roasted chicken
*The preparation for the rice pilaf began with sauteing some minced onions in butter.  Then you add the rice to the butter and onions and saute the rice until it becomes a milky color, not brown.  Then I took the boiling chicken broth from the stove and poured it into the pan and stirred.  Then I put a cover on the pan and the rest of the cooking was done in the oven.  about 20 minutes later, it came out from the oven cooked perfectly.

Roasted chicken, green beans and rice pilaf
*In a world of processed, boxed, convenient food, it was nice to have the time to go through the steps to prepare a meal that was quite labor intensive.  But the smiles of satisfaction on my family’s faces as they ate the food made it truly a labor of love.  The steps were not difficult to do in these recipes.  It just took time.  And I loved slowing down today and taking the time to prepare this kind of meal.
*The evening turned out to be slow paced as well.  We had some wonderful conversations at the dinner table, then adjourned to the living room, where we continued to talk about a wide variety of topics. 

Getting ready to enjoy Christy's birthday dinner

A wonderful evening with family.

The birthday girl blowing out the candles.

I look forward to returning to this cookbook and preparing more recipes.