Monday, September 30, 2013


“Those who wish to sing, always find a song.”

A gathering of swallows.
 What is it about birds on a phone line?  I just love to see them perched on one. Like stopping at Starbucks for birds- catch up on whats going on in the meadow or woods.  We see a lot of Morning Doves, Blue Birds and Mockingbirds on our wires near home.  The Mockingbirds have all but left for warmer weather.  They are great singers, they sing all the birds songs and it is mostly enjoyable except in the wee hours of the morning. 
We have had bachelor Mockingbirds sing until 3 AM. 

 It is interesting- we all have the capacity to make choices, smile, sing, be happy . . . . the list can go on . . . what do we choose?  there are so many choices out there that we make each and every day, it could get overwhelming.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to sing.  I choose to smile.
I choose to respect those individuals whose health may inhibit them from feeling well enough to make their own choices or to feel well enough to choose to smile. 
 They are out there every day fighting to be well enough to make said choices and to be happy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Whats baking in the Kitchen?

I bake all year around.  My Kitchen Aid mixer sits right on the counter, it is not hidden away in a closet or cupboard that I do not have . . . . it is right there and gets used sometimes daily.   I think baking is slightly meditative for me, it is certainly yummy  and I love to share with friends, family and neighbors . . . but there is something calming about measurig nout the flour, the sugar, the leavening agent.   About knowing that if I do all these singular things that I will then have something beautiful. I love the smells that it creates, sweet or spicy, it says good for your soul.  Weekends tend to be bigger times of baking, more people are around or we are entertaining.
 This weekend at Chestnut Hill we enjoyed form the Top: 
Pumpkin Muffins- my youngest' most requested, we love the crisp tops of the muffins and the kids enjoy them in their lunches all week - if there are enough left!
Next is Cinnamon Oatmeal , Raisin cookies, created from my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, these went to an Eagle project this afternoon. 
 Next up is Cinnamon Pizza- Cinnamon sticky bun meets Fried dough meets Pizza dough.  Extra Pizza Dough, Cinnamon Filling and Cinnamon sugar, mixed and folded in and then baked,  Crispy, cinnamon sugar yumminess.  *** a Chestnut Hill Original
Lastly but not least, Apple Pie, as we had the grandparents out for a little campfire and grilled some hamburgers etc...  I like to use 20 ounce apples mixed with some other Apple that i have on hand.  I used the Pie Crust recpie from this new cookbook that I  am growing to love:  The Model Bakery     
Any online or walk in book store should have it! This crust has both Butter and Vegetable shortening it it.  This contributes to taste and flakiness. Usually Lard gives you the flakiest crust . . . but most people shy away from using this.  As the cookbook notes, the butter gives taste and the Shortening reduces the amount of water interacting with the flour so you do not form as much gluten protein. Ie: a tough crust.   side notes: When I take a pie out of the oven I will put a pizza pan on the top followed by the Tea kettle for weight.  This collapses the crust to meet the Apples and allows for serving a cleaner slice of pie.  I always bake the pie on parchment paper or a Silapat  non stick mat this aids in the clean up of the overflowing juices. 
Well that is what is baking here this weekend.  What's baking in your kitchen?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of School

School starting is always a exciting and sad time in our house.  We are excited over the return to days filled with our friends and learning new information, mastering new skills.  We are excited for new shoes - if we need them. We operate on a needs based of adding clothing and shoes to wardrobes. We are sad for the long lazy days of summer that are behind us. I am sad to have to pick up  making lunches and policing school tool and homework and bedtimes.  although there is less of that these days as my kids age and take on many of those responsibilities themselves.  This is the last year for my middle child - he is a senior, 8th grade for the youngest and 2nd year of college for my oldest. Lots of college exploration headed our way this fall.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

 Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events: Small minds discuss people.
Eleanor Roosevelt
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.