One Year Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of my Rex. He became sick in November of 2019 and he went downhill fairly quickly. He died of Kidney disease. We did just about everything we could do for him, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. He had a big personality so his passing left a huge hole. In October of 2019 we got him a sibling. A little sister. Her name is Roxy. Roxy cautiously figured out how to get along with his strong personality. Eventually they would play together. Unfortunately that didn’t last very long before he got sick. She remembers playing and I am sure wishes for a playmate. Something I think we will work on in 2021.

On this 1 year anniversary I went back to what helps me work thru things – scrapbooking. The pictures below were created using templates Furry Friends by Miss Fish Templates. Rex’s page was made using the kit Rainbow Bridge by LJS Designs and Roxy’s page was made using Happiness Captured by Blagovesta Gosheva.

National Spaghetti Day

National Spaghetti Day on January 4th offers an opportunity to pick your sauce and add it to that long, thin cylindrical pasta of Italian and Sicilian origin.  There are a variety of different pasta dishes based on spaghetti, and the sauce determines most of them.

In celebration of National Spaghetti Day, here are a few fun facts about spaghetti to get you in the mood to celebrate:

  • Italians never use a spoon and fork when eating spaghetti, this is only an American habit. In Italy, you twirl a fork against the dish to eat it.
  • The world’s largest bowl of spaghetti was created in March 2010 by a restaurant outside of Los Angeles, called Buca di Beppo, who filled a swimming pool with more than 13,780 lbs of pasta.
  • Believed to be one of the first times TV was used to stage an April Fools’ Day hoax, on April 1st, 1957 BBC convinced its watchers that spaghetti noodles grow on trees and that frost impairs the flavor and growth of each spaghetti strand.
  • “Spaghetti” is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, meaning “thin string” or “twine.”
  • World War II was one of the most important times for spaghetti in American history due to the American soldiers, who found spaghetti when introduced to European cuisine and began to request it when they came home.
RECIPE COURTESY OF KATIE LEE BIEGEL

Spaghetti Pie – Serves 8-10

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 pound ground beef (85 percent lean)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought (I like Rao’s)
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 3 to 4 minutes less than the package recommends, so that it is very al dente. Drain and reserve.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef, 5 to 8 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Transfer the beef to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara, ricotta, parsley, eggs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked spaghetti, beef and onions and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to the prepared pan, top with the mozzarella and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Products you can use to make this: Microwave Pasta Cooker – Item #2633, 12″ Nonstick Skillet – Item # 2737, Rockcrok Everyday Pan Item # 3139

National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

Celebrated on January 3rd, this is a day I can truly get behind. Both of my boy’s request Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake for their birthday’s. The National Confectioners Association has been known to recognize this day as an annual event. 

Chocolate-covered cherry lovers know how impossible it is to eat just one of these candies. Candy makers combine these two favorite flavors into one delicious treat, and it turns into something irresistible. Although originally made with the liqueur, cordials, or chocolate-covered cherries are more commonly made with a sugar syrup flavored with cherries. The pitted cherries have been cooked in sugar syrup and jarred.

Recipe courtesy of Ann Byrn’s The Cake Mix Doctor (Workman, 2000)

Welcome 2021

If ever there was a year that needed to be welcomed it is 2021. I have high hopes for 2021, though I believe it may be a few more months before we see some semblance of normal. I am looking forward to that time. In the mean time, I am going to be celebrating food holidays this year.

Today is National Buffet Day – January 2. Here is a little history that I found about how the buffet actually came about.

The all-you-can-eat restaurant was introduced in Las Vegas by Herbert “Herb” Cobb McDonald in 1946. The buffet was advertised in flyers for only one dollar, and a patron can eat “every possible variety of hot and cold entrees to appease the howling coyote in your innards”.

Many boarding schools, colleges, and universities offer optional or mandatory “meal plans”, especially in connection with dormitories for students. These are often in an “all-you-can-eat” buffet format, sometimes called “all-you-care-to-eat” to encourage dietary moderation. The format may also be used in other institutional settings, such as military bases, large factories, cruise ships, or medium-security prisons.

In 2007, the first all-you-can-eat seating section in Major League Baseball was introduced at Dodger Stadium. The trend spread to 19 of the 30 major league parks by 2010, and numerous minor league parks by 2012. The basic menu includes traditional ballpark food such as hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, and soft drinks. In 2008 all-you-can-eat seats were also inaugurated in numerous NBA and NHL arenas. (Info from Wikipedia)

Since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most buffets have been suspended. Makes you wonder if this format will ever return.

National Cream Puff Day

Fortunately January 2nd is also National Cream Puff Day. Originating in France, cream puffs are also known as profiterole and choux a la creme. Cream puffs are a French dessert pastry filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or custard. They may be served plain or can be decorated with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or dusted with powdered sugar.

Borrowed from the French, the word “profiterole” has existed in English since 1604. The “cream puff” has been found on United States restaurant menus since around 1851.

To prepare cream puffs, a pastry chef pipes a choux paste through a pastry bag or dropped with a pair of spoons into small balls onto a pan, then baked to form hollow puffs.  After cooling, the cream puffs are injected with a filling using a pastry bag and narrow piping tip or by slicing off the top, filling the puff, and then reassembling. (Info from nationaldaycalendar.com)

Here is a link to an easy Cream Puff recipe:

https://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/mcook1966

Black Friday Freebie

Happy day after Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a great day yesterday.  My celebration this year was on the smaller side.  We have had to cut it down the last couple of years because my dogs don’t behave well with so many people in the house.  We were a total of 12 this year and it seemed to work out fine.  We visited, ate well, and watched the New York Jets get their butts kicked by the NE Patriots!

The food was great.  My most recent Cravebox was full of things for Thanksgiving and believe me I used them yesterday. Every year I like to try something new as a side dish.  My dish this year was mashed cauliflower.  I was surprised – it wasn’t bad.  I am told I should substitute this for mashed potatoes to save on carbs, I might have to start doing that.

Black Friday officially started yesterday at 8 pm.  I find that Christmas is creeping up the calendar every year.  While I love Christmas and the holiday season as much as the next person, I don’t like having it shoved in my face the day after Halloween.  For that and other reasons, I never do Black Friday – especially when it now starts on Thanksgiving.  What used to be a holiday where you celebrated family and were thankful for what you had – you are now gobbling down your meal so you can be in line when the stores open at 8.  The whole idea of that just bothers me.  Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore.

OK – I will get down of the soapbox.  I may protest Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean I am going to give up on Christmas…  Instead of shopping, I decided to create.  I made a FB cover to celebrate Christmas – I liked it enough to turn it into a FB quick page.  There are two in the file one with “From My Family to Yours” and one without!  I hope you like it – enjoy the rest of your weekend! Download file here

Dear Dad – I miss you!

It was 5 years ago today that I (*we – see below) had to make the hardest decision of my life to date.  My beloved father was admitted to the hospital because his heart was not beating fast enough.  Shortly after he got to the hospital he coded.  They tried for a while to resuscitate him.  Eventually they intubated him and were able to get his heart beating again.  Little did we know it took over 5 minutes for this to happen.  All we knew was that he was alive and this brought joy.

Unfortunately this joy ended up to be short lived.  My father never really came back to us.  He subsisted on the ventilator for the next two weeks while we tried to get someone to tell us what was going on.  In the end they came back and said that he was probably without oxygen for too long and that he had brain damage and that  was why he could not get off the ventilator.

I had an event with my Dad during this time which I will always remember.  I was visiting him and I had my best friend with me.  He was his usual, mostly unresponsive self when we got there.  I had  a conversation with his doctors about where we needed to go.  He was coming up on 14+ days on the ventilator.  At this point they usually put the patient on a more long

term system and insert a feeding tube.  There were decisions to be made.  My friend and I were in his cubical (he didn’t have an actual room) chatting away.  His beloved Red Sox had just won the pennant again.  I brought him a championship hat and we chatted about the game like he was right there.

At some point he started to get agitated.  He hated the ventilator tube.  His random body actions would always be to pull that out.  I looked him the eyes at one point and said “you know I love you – right?”  to my surprise, he nodded his head.  Clear as day to me.  I had to look at my friend to confirm she saw the same thing.  I then said to him “you want that tube out, don’t you?”  He again nodded.  I cried.  Decision made.

From that point forward I knew that he did not want to go on this way.  Fortunately – my siblings knew that as well.  I come from a big family.  I have 9 siblings. To get us all to agree on something was nothing short of a miracle, but in this instance, we all knew what my Dad would have wanted.

This all takes us to 5 years ago today when we (I was his health care proxy, but this was a decision I would never make alone) made that decision.  They took him off the ventilator in the early evening.  I stayed at the hospital for a while, but I could not stay until he passed.  For me this was the passing of a man that I loved in a way I would never love another.  He was my hero, I could not watch him die.  My sisters were much better at this, so thankfully he was not alone.  To this day I have no idea how they did it – but I am glad that they could.

So tonight – I am saying good-bye to you again Dad.  You are missed more than you can ever imagine.  I love you!

Hurricane Sandy & Cravebox

Wow – what a day it has been.  Started early this am with consistent winds of 25-30 MPH.  Around noon time it changed.  Trees in my yard started to fall.  I am very thankful that they were at the back of my yard and fell in the right direction.  I think we have just passed the worst of it.  I was lucky in that we have not lost power (yet – fingers crossed).

Here is hoping that everyone on the East Coast has a better tomorrow.

On another note – I received notice that I was selected for the next Cravebox.  Very excited because it is a Cooking Light box.  This can only hold things that I will love.  I will keep you posted.  I totally recommend you sign up to be involved with these.  I am having a blast!

That’s it for now – Enjoy your night.  If you live on the East Coast – be safe!

Travel & Hurricane Sandy

Miami Beach

Just returned from a brief trip to Miami.  On the trip down we ran into Sandy off the coast.  It made our weather the first day and  a half, very rainy and windy.  After that it improved.  It remained windy for the duration of our trip, but the sun came out and that was all I needed!  The surf remained wild after Sandy moved on.

I love Florida in the fall.  This is the time of year when it starts to get cold and dark in New England, and it will remain that way for months.  Too many if you ask me.

The second round of fun came on our return trip.  We were the last Boston flight being allowed to leave Miami.  Sandy is headed our way and they were making preparations for a very windy and rainy few days.  I am not a great flyer.  I do it with reluctance, only because I know it is what allows me to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.  So imagine how thrilled I was to hear the captain come over the load speaker and say that he will do his best but there will be turbulence, especially the closer we get to Boston.  Yipee…  Well, the flight was not the smoothest I have been on, but it wasn’t the worst either.  I think knowing that there was going to be turbulence, helped with my usual panic.

As much as I didn’t want to leave Miami earlier today, I am glad I did.  When the weather is bad and travel is dangerous, there is no place like home…  Stay safe everyone!

Birds a Sign of Change & DIY Kit Arrival

Yesterday was a very nice day.  The weather in the end was “make me happy” nice.  Since I love to bird watch – it was a great day for that.  Lots of migrating birds both to and fro…  Favorite of the day was the Baltimore Oriole.  He stopped by my yard to eat some of the fruit off my trees. Loved the surprise of seeing him. This is not the best picture – but he was loving the fruit on the tree!  I also had the opportunity to view a Mocking Bird. Unfortunately he was too far on the out skirts of my yard to get a good picture.  I will so miss these guys during the winter.  Saw two signs that winter is on its way – the White-crowned Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Juncos have found there way to my yard.  Oh well, I will have to face that winter is coming, even if I would prefer it doesn’t.

If you read this blog you know I am a big fan of Pinterest. Well if you use the site you may want to check out  Brit + Co.

She decided to create kits  based on DIY ideas found on Pinterest.  I thought this was a fabulous idea, so I immediately subscribed. There is a cost – her sight spells it out.  I received my first kit yesterday. Very excited to find out it is all the supplies to make these balloon lights.   I really like this idea when I came across it on Pinterest – I pinned it, but the problem was I could not find the blinking lights.  Well now I don’t have to look any more. I am doing this for my Christmas party.

It is football Sunday so we know what that means…  Have a fantastic Sunday!