Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Some Fun Things to Celebrate in May

April was a rough time for me – started out hard and ended that way too. But now May is nearly upon us and there are some crazy wonderful foods to celebrate this month:  the strawberry, chocolate chip cookie, and THE HAMBURGER.  I loooooooove hamburgers.  Can’t cook one to save my life, but maybe that’s how it should be (I secretly believe that men should cook hamburgers; is that sexist?  Maybe , but I’m kind of sexist, so that sort of works for me).

Anyway, the following observances should make for a good month.  You can get the complete list over at The Nibble, as I’ve just listed those of particular interest to me.

  • National Asparagus Month
  • National Barbeque Month
  • National Hamburger Month (Le Joy)
  • National Salsa Month
  • National Strawberry Month
  • May 1: National Chocolate Parfait Day
  • May 2: National Truffles Day
  • May 6: International No Diet Day
  • May 10: National Shrimp Day
  • May 11: Eat What You Want Day
  • May 13 National Apple Pie Day
  • May 14: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day
  • May 15: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
  • May 17: National Cherry Cobbler Day
  • May 18: National Cheese Soufflé Day
  • May 19: National Devil’s Food Cake Day
  • May 19: World Baking Day
  • May 20: Pick Strawberries Day
  • May 21: National Strawberries and Cream Day
  • May 26: National Cherry Dessert Day
  • May 28: National Hamburger Day
  • May 30: National Macaroon Day

So there you go – all sorts of yummy goodness to carry you through the month!
Bon Appétit

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I Give Up

It’s one thing to lose a sock in the laundry; actually, that’s more a rule than an exception.

But a pillowcase?

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There’s No Such Thing As Sweet Sorrow

I should be calling my brother to wish him a happy birthday today, but I’ll be lighting a candle for him instead.

His death feels particularly personal – he was all I had left of my family and for reasons neither I, nor his wife, nor his sons can fathom, he determined that life was no longer worth living.  It’s the kind of death where grief and anger are so intertwined they’re nearly impossible to differentiate.  Then again, maybe I don’t want to.  I miss him terribly and yet am enraged that one more time I had to be grateful, grateful, that death came; that a prolonged lingering didn’t suffocate us all.

Mostly, though, I wish he’d called me to say goodbye.

 

 

 

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A view from my desk

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Is it any wonder I’m having a terrible case of Spring Fever?

 

(yes yes yes – I know it’s sort of out of focus – just another symptom of spring….or old age)

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Nice Ain’t Kind

The girls and I attended the Easter Vigil Mass this past Saturday night.  Of course it was beautiful and uplifting in every way.  We sang my absolute favorite hymn,”O Filii et Filiae” (well, it’s tied with “Salve Regina”, but they’re both so beautiful, I can’t elevate one over the other) and Iseult managed to not catch her hair on fire (don’t ask).

Anyhoo, I found my mind wandering a little bit (I know…I know..) during the baptisms, to thinking about “nice” and “kind”.

You know what?  I don’t really care about “nice” – it’s just a bland synonym for “pleasant”, which is a far better word anyway.  Thing is, “nice” and “kind” are often used interchangeably with regard to people.  And that’s a mistake.

To be “nice” all you have to do is use your manners (or learn some if you don’t have any) and basically adopt a fairly milquetoast (or at least non-confrontational)  attitude and Voila – nice is done.

Kindness, on the other hand, is a tough quality to cultivate.  It is fueled by compassion, empathy, generosity, and often, forgiveness, as well as humility.  It also requires mercy, which I think is one of the single most underrated virtues and one of the hardest to live out – and therein lies the rub, because mercy requires an understanding and acceptance  of one’s own failings.

I really have no interest in being a nice person.  “Nice” is easy but ultimately barren.  Kindness, that’s something worth striving for because it affects others in a positive manner.  It’s a quality worth developing and I’m going work on that.

Does this mean I’m about to turn in a dour old sourpuss, incapable of appreciating inappropriate T-shirts and delete the Eminem tunes from my MP3 player?

Uh, not!  But I’ve been wrapped up in a hard cold battle, full of resentment and pain and anger and hurt for a long time and it’s taken a terrible toll on me.  Sure, I’m still nice enough.  That’s nothing to be proud of.  I can do better.

 

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I’m All Bleary-Eyed, But It Was Totally Worth It

Soooo I stayed up all night reading Patricia Brigg’s newest Mercy Thompson novel, Night Broken.

So Absolutely Freakin’ Good!

If you don’t read her stuff – start now.  Go to the beginning and read them all the way through.  Read them in order.  And don’t skip the Alpha & Omega books, either.  You need those interspersed with the Mercy Thompson books, along with the various short stories.  To help you out (because I’m just a giving kind of chick), I have all of them listed in order, including the short stories which, by the way, will be coming out in a complete collection this fall called “Shifting Shadows”.

Anyhoo….here’s the complete list in reading order so far.  Check out Patricia Briggs’ website for more details.

  • Moon Called – Mercy Thompson #1
  • “Alpha and Omega” (short story in the anthology On the Prowl – Alpha & Omega #.5 sort of)
  • Cry Wolf Alpha & Omega #1
  • “Seeing Eye” (short story from the anthology Strange Brew – Alpha & Omega 1.5)
  • Hunting Ground– Alpha & Omega #2
  • “Star of David” (a Mercy-verse short story in the anthology, Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
  • Blood Bound– Mercy Thompson #2
  • Iron Kissed– Mercy Thompson #3
  • Bone Crossed– Mercy Thompson #4
  • Silver Borne– Mercy Thompson #5
  • River Marked– Mercy Thompson#6
  • Fair Game– Alpha & Omega #3
  • “Fairy Gifts” (a Mercy-verse short story in the anthology Naked City)
  • “In Red, With Pearls” (a Mercy-verse short story from the anthology Down these Strange Streets)
  • Frost Burned– Mercy Thompson #7
  • Night Broken – Mercy Thompson #8

There’s also a graphic novel, Homecoming, which I understand is sort of a prequel to the series. I don’t have it, but soon – very soon.

So what am I going to read now that I’m done with Mercy?  Well, Jim Butcher has a new book coming out – Dresden One Thousand or something.  Generally I’m compelled to read through an entire series to catch myself up – so this will be like 1001st time for Storm Front, I guess.  On the other hand, I could just go back to White Night.  Maybe.

Sarah Hoyt’s Musketeer Series is finally coming to digital (I think) – but do I have the right reader?  (Watch for upcoming whine about why I need an iPad now that my Nook is failing.  Bring crackers and cheese).

I need to catch up on Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Mysteries, AND C. S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr Series.  There’s more, but let’s just stop here.

So many books.  So little time.

 

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Different Year; Same Dilemma

Do I watch it or don’t I watch it?

“It” would be “The Passion of the Christ”.  For the last I-don’t-know-how-many years I’ve been promising myself that I would watch it on Good Friday before going to Mass.

Haven’t managed it yet.

I have the movie and I have the time.  I just don’t think I have the stomach.  As a cradle Catholic, I’m well aware of the facts surrounding Christ’s death.  Have watched it played out at more Friday Night Stations of the Cross than I can count.  But I can’t quite bring myself to watch the reality of that death.  And I feel badly about that.  I feel badly that I can’t bring myself to watch something I know.

Maybe this year I will.

[Edited to add – so, not this year.  At least not this Good Friday.  But there’s still time.  Easter technically lasts until Pentecost.]

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I Finally Decide to Tackle Something I Really Don’t Want to Deal With

After much (and I do mean MUCH) thought, I’ve decided to cull the herd.

No, I’m not doing away with one of my children (although if you’d asked me about it last night, I might not have been so definitive in the denial).

I’m reducing the number of cookbooks and cooking magazines which are currently overrunning my house (when they’re not causing shelves to cave in).  This is NOT an exaggeration – I only wish!

Thing is, I’m not exactly sure what to do with them; I’ve thought about making (another) donation to the library, but now, I’m considering just giving them away to new homes.  Soooo, if there’s any interest, I’ll be happy to list the publications here (when I get through them all) and if you see one (or many) you want, you can shoot me an e-mail and I’ll ship it/them to you.

Thoughts?

(Because if there’s no real interest, I’ll just ship the whole lot to the library)

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Pimping The Kitchn Again

Soooo rather than finishing up my financial reports, I’m following updates from The Kitchn (y’all know how much I love that site).

And today they post THIS – Beef Tenderloin Sliders

I’m so making these.  But I’m going to use my favorite Horseradish-Dijon Cream (from Cuisine Holiday Menus 2010)

Whisk 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl to soft peaks (about double in volume) – and whisk this by hand – no mixer!

Add:
2Tbsp prepared horseradish (whatever is your favorite)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (again, your favorite, although I don’t recommend a grainy variety)
1 tsp. kosher salt

Continue whisking to medium peaks (will be about triple in volume)

This is the silkiest, most luscious accompaniment to beef (prime rib, tenderloin, you name it).

 

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A Little Something Tasty for Lunch

Miami Spice Cookbook

Photo Credit – Amazon

Yesterday I was sharing this salad recipe with a friend and then couldn’t stop thinking about it.
So, voila! Spinach Salad with Blood Oranges and Walnuts.

This recipe originally came from a much-used cookbook of mine, Miami Spice by Steven Raichlen, where it’s called “Spinach, Blood Orange and Macadamia Nut Salad”.
I made a couple adjustments, and that’s what you’ll see here. The original is lovely also and I’ll explain why I made the adjustments.

 

For the Salad:

3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
4 blood oranges, peeled and sectioned, juice reserved for dressing
5 cups baby spinach (arugula and watercress are nice too)

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Such Yummy Goodness

Layer the spinach in a large bowl; top with orange sections and walnuts.
Pour Dressing (below) over the salad and serve.

The Dressing

1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or safflower oil is nice too)
Juice from the oranges
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.
Taste and adjust to your own preferences – sometimes the oranges are extra sweet, so a little more vinegar is nice.

So about those adjustments – well, the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, which are nice, but on the expensive side; the oil used is Hazelnut Oil – lovely to be sure, but also, very expensive and has very short shelf life, so if you don’t use it for much, kind of not worth the cost; I do use safflower oil in this sometimes; the original recipe also called for grilled corn kernels (don’t care much for them here); and finally, it called for sherry vinegar which I usually don’t have.  So there you are.  I like my version a lot and you can believe I eat tons of it when these oranges are in season.

Enjoy!

 

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