Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Christmas picture.

Image 3

This was the picture I used for our Christmas cards this year. I was SO very happy with how it turned out!

As you might guess, getting Vivian to cooperate for a picture is quite a feat. First of all, I cannot let her have any inkling that we are going to take a picture or she will take off her clothes and climb under her bed. Secondly, getting her to wear anything other than a Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians or Curious George t-shirt and her beloved strawberry pants is a Herculean task in and of itself.

For this picture I picked Vivian up from school, and I instructed Will and Dots to clean out everything from Vivian's drawers except for a white 101 Dalmatians t-shirt and some black velveteen pants.

When Vivian and I walked in our house, I pointed out that what she was wearing was no longer clean. Vivian cannot stand the thought of her clothes being dirty, so she immediately headed upstairs to change (I have worked really hard to teach her not to begin changing her clothes until she is in her own room - again no easy task!). Vivian opened her drawer, looked at me questioningly and asked, "What happened to my clothes?" I told her they were all dirty and were being washed. That seemed to satisfy Vivian as she promptly changed into the only things left in her drawer.

I then suggested that we take Tucker for a walk. Vivian liked that idea, so we found Tucker's leash and walked with him and Dots and Will outside. It was chilly that day, and as we walked down our block, Vivian agreed to put on the sweater I had brought only because nothing else was available.

When we arrived at a park near our house (a favorite destination of Vivian's on walks), lo and behold, someone was there with a camera! I convinced Vivian that we should ask these nice people to take a picture of Tucker. Vivian was amenable to this idea and sat right down next to Tucker. She even pulled on Tucker's lips and told him to smile!

Vivian was very cooperative as the photographer snapped off pictures "of Tucker." I thought we were really pushing our luck, though, when the photographer wanted to move the kids to a second spot in the park. Vivian initially balked, but Will and Dots convinced her that Tucker needed her help for his picture and she agreed to move.

For this set, Vivian insisted that Tucker sit right in her lap and she didn't want any part of Will or Dots touching him (I was very afraid Tucker would run off, but fortunately he didn't!). It was in this second location that we got the picture above. I truly think it is one of the best pictures ever taken of Vivian.

To the uninformed observer, these pictures look natural and easy. But now you know the real story!

Christmas 2011b
Notice Vivian's shoes. I had brought some dark shoes for her to wear in the picture, but she was cooperating so unexpectedly well that I dared not rock the boat by asking her to change them. The photographer kindly darkened Vivian's shoes in the picture we used for our card

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cooking Club Gadget Exchange.

My friend JoAnn asked for details on my Cooking Club's gadget exchange at our Christmas gathering. Naturally I should have posted on that right away because my feeble mind can now only remember what I brought and what I took home. {sigh}


I brought this salad emulsifier this year. I received one like it at our exchange last year and have loved it! It works really well and is quite therapeutic - lol. You pull the trigger and the plastic corkscrew spins around to blend the dressing. It's handy because you can store extra dressing in it and it has a spout.

This sleek expandable trivet was what I received this year. I don't have any decent-looking trivets so I have tended to use my really lovely potholders under hot dishes. This is a big improvement!

This wasn't from our gadget exchange, but I bought this can opener this fall and have LOVED it. It is very easy to use (even though it is manual, the dial turns easily) and it uncrimps the top of the can rather than cuts it so there are no sharp edges.

I had not bought a new garlic press in a really long time. I did not quite realize how decrepit my old one was until I started using this one. It works so well and is super easy to clean up.

Even more time had passed since I had bought a new box grater. The one I had dated back to my graduation from college some 25 years ago! My new one is notable for its lack of rust and its handy detachable measuring cup. I use it for making egg and olive and for grating cheese.

One last gadget that I love and use often: my immersion blender. It works great for blending soups and is so much easier and safer than pouring hot soup into a blender in batches.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking Club, January 2012, & catching up.

Eek! I don't think I've ever gone a month without posting! Clearly I should have made a New Year's resolution to be more attentive to my blog. I will resolve to do better!

At any rate, Happy New Year! We had a great Christmas up in Jackson Hole and a nice New Year's here in Dallas. We enjoyed having Will home for a month, though he wasn't "home" a whole lot - kept all sorts of crazy hours hanging out with his high school friends. Vivian is slowly getting back into the groove of school after two weeks off. She has had several seizures over the past month, which certainly haven't helped her transition as they tend to leave her sleepy and off-kilter for a few days afterward. Dots is doing well; she is busy selling Girl Scout cookies and has finally completed the paperwork for her Girl Scout Silver Award.

Here is the recipe for the wonderful entrée we had at our December Cooking Club:

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

1½ pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 small bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup butter, melted
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup half-and-half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4-ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Sauté the mushrooms, onion, garlic and bell pepper in the butter until tender. Add the shrimp and stir until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat and stir in wild rice, soup, half-and-half, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes. Serves 10-12.

And finally, here are pictures from our January gathering:

I absolutely love the way my friend Barenda sets her table!

Barenda has so many beautiful pieces that belonged to her husband's grandmother, and she has great stories to tell about each of them. I especially covet her silver roosters and pheasant

Isn't this salt cellar exquisite?

Ellen, Priscilla, Karey and Leslie enjoy the fabulous and festive milk punch that Leslie brought

Susan keeps Thayer company as she puts the finishing touches on her Potato Soup

Jill, Barenda and me

I liked these pretty antique cups that Barenda used for our soup

Lunch is served!

We all laugh that we don't eat like this every day

Ellen wasn't happy with how her first dessert (pralines) turned out, so she made an assortment for her second effort


French Quarter Cheese (this was really good and very pretty)
Pirate's Milk Punch (yum)
Three-cheese Drop Biscuits
Potato Soup
Crunchy Romaine Toss
Chicken Asiago with Hickory Smoked Bacon
Squash Casserole 1 (I brought this and was not impressed with it - my tip-off should have been that it was sourced from a cookbook I already own that was copyright 1977!)
Michigan Nut and Berry Bark
Oreo Balls

All recipes from Recipes Worth Sharing