Saturday, August 30, 2014

Quiche of Death -- M.C. Beaton








I seem to be back on a reading roll.  Having just finished "The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton Frank I decided, instead of moving on to her newest offering "The Hurricane Sisters", to start the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton.

I have read several of her Hamish Macbeth series and found them to be very entertaining so I decided to check out Agatha Raisin.  Being the logical sort that I am I decided to start at the beginning.  So, I downloaded "The Quiche of Death" onto my Nook and started reading.  I couldn't put it down! It isn't a long book by any means and it is very readable.  I have to say that the entire time I was reading all I could see was Dawn French as Agatha Raisin. 

In any event, it was great fun and I recommend it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Last Original Wife -- Dorothea Benton Frank





Ok, it has been pretty well documented that I gave up on "Past Imperfect" by Julian Fellowes. It was a hard breakup but it was me, not the book.  Once I got over the disappointment of really not connecting I picked up a book that I had bought a couple of months ago that was just calling my name every time I walked past it.  It proved to be a much better relationship.

"The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton Frank was just the latest in the string of her books that I have been enjoying over the last couple of years.  The first one I enjoyed was "Folly Beach" which I listened to as an audio book.  I have read several others and feel that while Frank follows a definite formula when writing these books, they are still good reads and very satisfying.

"The Last Original Wife" was no different.  It was about a disgruntled (and rightly so) wife, a louse of a husband, a gay brother, two ungrateful kids, an old flame, a lot of money, big houses, and fancy cars.  It moved along quickly and there was a lot of action -- especially when it came to "the Barbies".  It was a fun read -- I learned to really dislike Wes from the beginning and I think my favorite character of all was Harlan, the brother.  Oh, and the ghost -- can't forget the ghost -- and the dogs.  Gotta love the dogs. 

It was a great read and I was sorry to see it end.  On to the next one -- "The Hurricane Sisters".  Hopefully I can get to it before I pick up my copy of Jan Karon's new offering "Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good".  Hopefully my dry reading spell is over because there are a lot of really good things coming out.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

And Then There Was ----Butter!


Last week a friend send me a Facebook link about 50 things that a person can make instead of buying.  I have seen sites like this before and, upon reading, find that I do a lot of these things already.  However, this particular site listed something that I remember doing as a child but never thought of revisiting -- making butter.  I am sorry I didn't take photos so you will just have to use your imagination.

The site said to use a stand mixer, add a quart of heavy whipping cream and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  They also gave directions for grating a carrot and straining the juice into milk to add for color but I omitted this step.  They also heartily advised covering the mixer with a towel to deal with the splashing and they weren't exaggerating. 

So, in went the cream and salt, mixer on high (although I don't think it needed to be quite so high) and off we went to make butter.  I can't tell you how long it actually took because I stopped the machine at the whipped cream stage to look at that beautiful whipped cream.  Then I continued on until I heard the bumping noise made by the clump of butter in the bottom of the bowl.

I then followed the instructions to put the lump of butter in a colander or a strainer over a bowl and pour off the buttermilk to save for baking in the next day or two.  I then pressed the butter under cold, running water to get rid of any remaining buttermilk and then placed it in a covered pyrex dish.

It was beautiful!  And, a quart of cream makes about a pound of butter.  I was thrilled.  I still am, actually.

The next morning I used the buttermilk to make biscuits with White Lily self rising flour.  They were so fluffy -- I couldn't believe the difference. 

So, now in addition to making our bread, I am now making our butter.  Will I do it again? Yes, probably so.  I looked at the various packages of butter in our refrigerator and while most of them said "cream and salt", all of them said "coloring".  They were specific about what that mean so I think that my home-grown butter is probably a better choice.

Next time I will take photos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014









It is Tuesday (I think) so it must be time for Teaser Tuesdays!  My teaser is from "Past Imperfect" by Julian Fellows of "Downton Abbey" fame. 

"Of course you want so much to say that.  Or at the very least to tell them to grow up or drop dead, or to open their eyes to the fact that the Fifties are over."


I have been reading this book for an eternity.  I am intrigued by the premise of the book.  The storyline is catchy.  The setting is lovely and the narrative just goes on and on and on.  It is a good read but I am not enjoying it -- it is draggy -- but I can't just drop it.  I am over half done and would feel terrible if I didn't discover the information that Damien Baxter is looking for but.....gosh I wish it would hurry up!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

I Wonder


I regularly read a lovely blog -- Penhallowstreet.blogspot.com -- authored by Bonnie.  Bonnie is a wonderful artist both with a pencil and a needle.  She has a strong faith, a wonderful outlook, and writes very thought provoking posts.

In her latest post she wrote about Sundays and how they have changed from her childhood.  Her post caused me to pause and think -- go back in time mentally to those Sundays of my childhood.  I remember those days being very long and sometimes boring.  Once I could read, I remember those days being filled with beautiful words which wove beautiful stories. I remember my mother cooking a large meal -- it was always roast -- and it was all so good.  I remember liking Sundays more as I got older.  I enjoyed the quiet of it all, the change of pace, I even enjoyed the boredom of it.
Then things changed.  Somehow -- I think it was when stores started opening on Sundays -- things got busy.  Sunday wasn't any different than Monday or Tuesday.  It was just another day.  It seems we never got a break from the busyness of life.  No wonder everybody is so tired!

I think we should go back to having Sunday.  No, I am not talking about time travel -- push a few buttons and whoosh -- we are back in the 50's.  We can, however, edit ourselves.  How about if we plan our time so that we clear our calendars for Sunday except for church.  How about if we plan our Sunday meal so that it can be mostly cooked on Saturday.  How about if pretend the stores are closed, shop accordingly prior to Sunday and just take a shopping break.  How about -- get ready, here it comes -- if we take a break from technology.  What if we turn off the computers and phones.  What if we sit down with the Sunday paper (we don't even take the paper anymore).  What if we listen to the radio, have the family over, read a book, just do something different than we do on a day to day basis.

As I read Bonnie's post I realized she is a very wise woman.  She mentioned the feeling of guilt if we aren't busy all the time.  She reminds us that we are given Sunday as a day of rest because we NEED the rest.  Our bodies and our minds can't function properly without rest.  So, if society isn't going to allow us to rest, we are going to have to take it upon ourselves to create our own rest.

So, I am suggesting that we take Sunday back and live it as it was intended.  I think the first thing I am going to do is give my electronics a rest as well.  The second thing I am going to do is plan my Sunday meal so that it is mostly done on Saturday and I can enjoy the day and a good meal without slaving away in the kitchen.  When those two things are done I am going to set aside time to do something that I want to do that I can't find the time for during the week.  It might be reading, it might be sewing or needlework but it will be something that brings me joy and gives me relaxation.

So, does anybody want to join me in a technology free Sunday?  Sounds like a challenge to me.
Family Reunion


The morning was unusually cool for August in Texas. We rose early in preparation for the drive ahead.  The day had come for the biennial Bordovsky/Hudec family reunion.  I was ambivalent about it, as was my husband if I am to speak honestly.  However, his mother is 93 so who knows how many more of these get-togethers she will be able to attend so we dressed, grabbed up our contribution to the table -- traditional Czech kolaches -- picked up Granny and off we went.

After about an hour and half drive and a Starbucks stop, we arrived at the small, central Texas community of Elk.





Countryside around Elk, Texas behind St. Joseph's Catholic Church
 Elk is situated outside of Waco and is primarily a farming/cotton growing community.  It's only claim to fame, to my knowledge, is that the Elk store was the ATF headquarters during the seige at the David Koresh Branch Davidian community, Mount Carmel,  back in 1993.



Memorial to the ATF agents who were lost in the Branch Davidian conflict in 1993


My husband's grandfather immigrated from Moravia in about 1884 as did the Kubitza family--his grandmother's family.  Little did they know that the families would come together again years later in a marriage which combined Grandfather's family from another marriage, Grandma's family from another marriage and grew with a number of children from their own union.  It was a big family and these families continued to grow which meant these reunions were large, loud, rambuctious affairs!  When I started going to these reunions I was amazed at the number of people who attended.  We would take family group photos that were as large as classroom group photos.

Over time, however, the family inevitably began to shrink.  Many family members have been lost -- from the youngest to the oldest -- and now only three of the original "children" remain.  The extended families have grown up and been scattered all over.  There doesn't seem to be a really good time of the year for everybody to get together but the cousins that do the planning do the best they can to be accommodating. This year there were only two children, my grandchildren, so there was a sharp contrast to past reunions.

These reunions take place at the Catholic church -- St. Joseph's -- that the family has been involved with for generations.  It is a small church with a small cemetery and a really nice parish hall.  The food is outstanding -- and there is always so much.  The desserts are mouthwatering -- pecan pies, fruit cobblers, German chocolate cake and, of course, kolaches.



St. Joseph's Catholic Church, El, TX

The concession stand!


We socialized, caught up, missed the three that were lost since the last reunion, looked at beautiful, old photos scattered on the tables, ate our fill and said our goodbyes, promising to see each other again in two years.  It was a quiet time this year -- we all commented on the unusually cool weather as the breeze blew through the doors at either end of the parish hall.  As that breeze blew I could almost feel the spirits of those who were no longer with us, passing through that hall.



Natural Cosmetic Update


If you have read my previous posts on this subject, you will know that I have been on a quest for natural cosmetics and have found some wonderful brands with great products.  However, I have also discovered that most of them have lousy lipsticks, at least for me.  Unfortunately, I am the sort of person that needs some sort of lipstick so I don't look like a cadaver.  So, I went looking for a nice, neutral lipstick -- not shiny, just creamy with enough color so I look a little perkier.

I happened upon this --







NARS Cosmetics sheer lipstick in Dolce Vita.  Cult favorite, they say.  Beautiful color, a tad pricey.  Bought it, used it, was happy in my lipstick find until I started researching the product and found it to be very toxic.  So.....I went on a quest to find something a little more acceptable.

I spent a good portion of Friday talking to the people at Clinique and reading reviews at EWG.org and goodguide.com.  I finally went to the mall and discussed my plight with one of the lovely ladies at the Clinique counter.  We found an exact match -- Nearly Violet - in the High Impact line.  Now, not all of Clinique's products are rated really well, but these lipsticks seemed to be acceptable.










I also did some research on the L'oreal line and found an almost perfect match there, as well.  It is called Eva's Nude and is close enough for me to consider it a duplicate.  Across the board, L'oreal's line seemed to be acceptable in the toxicity department as well.  I was really glad to find a couple of replacements for this really nice, go with everything color.







In the process of trying all this makeup and taking a long look at the "mature" me, I have decided that this is one area where the saying "less is more" has a great deal of meaning.  So, for a couple of days, I have used a neutral eye makeup -- I have to use eye makeup or my eyes disappear -- and I have used the lipstick -- no foundation or blush -- just some nice moisturizer and I have to say that I was pleased.  I had enough junk on to feel "finished" but not smothered.  I will continue on this path for a while because I think it looks better, feels better, costs less and a lot less in my makeup bag if I feel the need to carry it with me.