Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rain, more rain, and one bright spot!

Today is my last day off of a 6 day stretch of vacation time I've used up and guess what? It's rained off and on Every. Single. Day.

I had such plans for outdoor chores: cleaning up the yard, gathering pine straw for mulching, cleaning out and washing my car, giving the dogs baths (I can't bathe them inside. Lifting them into the bathtub is hell on my back, and I've been dealing with pulled muscles for a month now. I'm not looking to make it worse!) and taking the dogs on a couple of individual trips to Jeffries Creek park. Sadly, none of that stuff got done. Stupid rain!

We did manage to take the dogs out for walks around the neighborhood every day even though we ended up caught in the rain twice. This morning I took both of them to the little park down the road in between showers. They love it there.

My sweet girl!

George climbing on the
playground equipment and
rocking his weighted backpack!

After our walk, I got home to discover that I had a missed call...from someone who wants to interview me for a job! So even though it's already raining again, my afternoon had a bright spot!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Full Moon, Blood Moon, Harvest Moon

Well, tonight is the big harvest moon/lunar eclipse/super moon and we won't be seeing any of it. It's been pouring rain for days and days. Oh well, such is life.

To celebrate the spirit of tonight's moon, I'm cooking my first batch of chili this year, and I spent a cosy afternoon decorating for fall and Halloween. It's almost October, after all.

I love decorating the mantle over the fireplace. It may be hard to see, but there is a candle with the first line of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, and two big pumpkin shaped votive candleholders at either end.

This is our living room. The two jack o lanterns are turned around for the picture, but they're actually arranged so that they're grinning out of the front windows.

Happy Full Moon to you all, and I hope that everyone that wishes to see the eclipse has clear skies tonight!

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse September Book Review--The Little Stranger

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - September 26th

It's time for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid.

My favorite read for the month of September, without a doubt, was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

From the Goodreads site:


The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline-its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
Sarah Waters might just be my new favorite novelist. I seem to gravitate to female British authors and Waters is so very skillful. I read The Paying Guests early in the month, and was really impressed with it. My only criticism of that book was that the ending fell a little flat. I wanted to try one more of Waters novels since I liked her writing style so much. And The Little Stranger is one of my favorite kinds of stories: a gothic tale in the vein of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.
The book is creepy, but in a very subtle way. It takes it's time and the dread builds slowly; from the very beginning you're not sure whether the house is haunted, the people are all going mad, or if someone is deliberately trying to terrify the Ayers family. Waters is an excellent writer, and the book is so well written that you keep turning pages even when the plot is moving slowly. And the ending is so very worth it! It's masterfully done, in my humble opinion., so much better than the ending to The Paying Guests. I've been pressing The Little Stranger on my friends (the ones who like this sort of novel) and I wish one of them would hurry up and finish soon so I can discuss the ending with someone! The last couple of chapters will send a cold chill down your spine and leave behind a lingering haunted feeling. 4.5 stars.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Religion in a Nut Shell

I think this pretty much sums the major ones up, don't you?

Enjoy the giggle.

Jennifer Barlow's photo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A toast to you, my blogging friends!

I just wanted to say this--I love you all, my friends in this strange world of blogging. I don't have more than a small handful of casual friends in my everyday life, and as a person that frequently feels a bit lonely and isolated, I want you all to know how much your friendship means to me.

I love getting glimpses of life in faraway places that I may never get to actually visit. I love hearing about your families and gardens and trips. I care about your pets. I grieve with you during hard times and worry about you, too. My world is a bigger place with all of you in it. Thank you. You guys are the best!

Taken recently while out to dinner
with work mates...toasting friendships
that make life easier and better.
The same sentiment applies here!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spider Lily Time

You know it's almost the Autumn Equinox when Spider Lilies start to pop up around the edges of the lawn.

They're called Spider Lilies for obvious reasons. I think they're very pretty, for flowers that are practically weeds!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Brilliant September Sunrise

For about a week now, we've been treated to some gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Yesterday morning I left for work very early, just as the sun was coming up,  and the sky was so beautiful that I rolled down my car window and took a couple of pictures to share with you.

This made getting up early worthwhile!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Adding insult to injury!

I hate the dental hygienist who works for my dentist. She's such an idiot.

Every time she cleans my teeth, I have to listen to stories about her Baptist missionary son and his family who live in Indonesia. It's obvious the whole family has nothing but contempt for the people there. She's always talking about how they "live in squalor" and how dirty everything is and how ignorant the people are. But according to Mrs. Self Righteous, her son "is doing God's work" and will remain among the savages until "God tells him" it's time to come back to the States.


On top of that, she's none too gentle when scraping around under my gums. She gets so caught up in her endless babbling monolog that I don't think she notices when I'm uncomfortable. And then today, after chiding me for not flossing as often as I should (admittedly I need to do it more often than once or twice a week), she had the nerve to say to me, "You know you're getting older now, and at your age you need to be more vigilant with your dental hygiene. Things will go downhill more quickly now if you're not careful."


I didn't have any new cavities, and I was just there for my routine 6 month cleaning and checkup (that I show up for like clockwork). She didn't have to act like I'm on a slippery slope to dentures at the ripe old age of 40!

I think she was paying me back for a comment I made when I first got there. She was talking about the "filth" in Indonesia and how her son was recovering from an infection with Giardia. When she started to explain what that was, I cut her off and said, "I know what it is. My dog had that when I adopted him from the shelter." Well, you should have seen the look on her face! I think she took it as an insult, like I was comparing her saintly son to a dog. (I wasn't, but the truth is my dog is probably a lot nicer than her son!)

Oh well. I think I'm going to request the other hygienist next time, instead of Mrs Church Lady Asshole! Someone else can take care of me and my aging teeth!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fried Apple Pies

My husband has fond memories of the homemade fried apple pies his grandmother made for him when he was a little boy. She had apple trees on her land in North Carolina, and she dried apples on her roof for using through the winter. Whenever Gregg and his dad went to visit her, she would make little fried "hand pies" from dried apples and have them waiting on a cloth covered platter when he got there. She died when he was very young, and he never knew her very well, but he's never forgotten those delicious treats.

Over the years I've made different variations of his grandma's recipe to try and satisfy his craving. Obviously, I can't go out back and pick apples, and I have no tin roof to dry them on if I could. I imagine that his grandma probably fried the pies in pure lard, too. (I won't be going there). I have come up with a reasonably close substitute for her recipe, though, and even if it's different it's still delicious! I made a batch last night.

First I peeled and sliced about 8 large Granny Smith apples (and they did come from North Carolina...our local markets truck them in from the mountains...it's too hot to grow apples down here) and then I mixed them with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of salt, and a couple of squeezes of lemon juice. Since I was already baking sweet potatoes I put the pan of apples in the oven to cook slowly alongside them.

After a couple of hours this is what they looked like:

Then I used premade sheets of pie pastry, rolled out and cut in half. I put a good dollop of apples in each.....

....and then folded them over and crimped down the edges with a fork.

Ready for frying

I heated vegetable oil in a deep skillet and very carefully lowered each pie down into the hot oil.

When they were golden brown, I put them on paper towels to drain, and sprinkled sugar on top while they were still hot.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Early Autumn in the Backyard

Things continue to grow and bloom in the backyard even though it's September.

Some things are catching a brief second wind and producing a few last flowers before winter gets here.

Thanks to Cro, I've learned that
 geraniums can be overwintered. 

Little potted rose.

Crepe Myrtle volunteer
beside the kitchen window.

Others naturally begin to flower later in the season . I walked to a shady nook in the backyard today, and looked up, and this what I saw.

Rose of Sharon

The potted pomegranate is looking good this year. It's growth is really starting to take off, finally.

More windchimes!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September market foods in South Carolina

This is what's on offer at the farm stand down the road right now.

Muscadine and scuppernong grapes are grown all over the state in backyards and small commercial  vineyards alike. You can often find the vines growing wild in abandoned lots or along old fences. They're easy to cultivate and make delicious jellies and wine.



Apples are just starting to arrive in the markets. They are grown in the mountains of North Carolina.

I bought about 8 pounds of apples of mixed varieties. I'm planning to slow cook them in the crockpot with brown sugar, butter, and spices to make a kind of chunky apple butter/apple sauce.

There are still plenty of summer squash, zucchini, and fresh green beans left for sale. New sweet potatoes have arrived, and small mild Vidalia onions are pretty much a year-round staple. I also picked up a 2 lb bag of stone ground, locally produced grits.

For tonight's dinner, we had grilled Atlantic salmon. This picture doesn't look all that great, because the fish fell apart when I moved it to a serving plate. But trust me, it was delicious! I grilled the filets wrapped in parchment paper with butter, lemon slices, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, parsley, and a hint of Cajun seasonings. Served with wild rice, it was wonderful.

I steamed the green beans and then sautéed them with bacon. Because bacon just makes everything better.

Friday, September 4, 2015

More signs of the season

Americans love Halloween.

No sooner than the month of September begins, the stores all start to stock merchandise for the the big night.

Behold the "seasonal" aisle of the pharmacy where I went to pick up a prescription for my husband tonight:

Skeletons that light up.
The one on the right is
playing a ukulele! 

Look at all the candy! Notice how all the boxes are orange, black, and purple.

My favorite....candy corn!

Even Day of the Dead got an end cap this year!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Two sure signs....

There are two ways I can tell that fall is here, or else on the way.

The first is all my lovely allergy symptoms that crank up to high gear: sneezing, wheezing, snotty nose, burning eyes, headaches, and a general feeling of malaise. It hardly seems fair that as soon as some of the terrible heat of summer begins to subside I have to suffer with seasonal allergies.

The other sure sign of fall? The Little Debbie snack cake displays at all the stores!

Yep, Autumn is definitely on it's way!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The First of September

August, and indeed, the entire summer, really seemed to fly by. I'm happy knowing that autumn is here, it's been so hot this year that cooler weather will be very welcome. Already there's a change in the air. It's a bit cooler at night and much less humid, and the sky has been a gorgeous shade of blue for the last week. The days seem to be much shorter now that September is here.

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend I haven't seen in a couple of months. We only live a few blocks away from each other, but life gets awfully busy sometimes and you have to make an effort to find time for the people you care about. And I'm excited to say that she's expecting a baby! The little peanut (as I'm calling him/her) isn't due until early February. I was truly surprised a while back when this friend told me that she was pregnant. She and her husband live a fairly carefree life, and they love to travel, and so no one expected them to have any children for a while yet, or maybe ever. They're getting in one last trip to the west coast later this month--they're driving all the way to California and staying two weeks--and then they'll probably have to be content to put those kind of adventures on hold for a while.

I'm looking forward to being an "auntie". Yesterday I gave my friend a beautiful picture book for her little one. The cover made her tear up a little:

We went and had a two hour lunch and talked about everything under the sun. It was so nice to catch up with my friend, and especially to share her excitement over the baby. It was a good day.