Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Amazing Tomato Soup Recipe

You probably don't know this about me but I do like to cook, in spite of all of the whining about having to make dinner. I'm not too bad at it either when I put some effort into it. And, just like I live the rest of my life, I don't follow the recipe's very well. In fact, I don't use them at all. Words that strike fear in my family's hearts is "I'm not sure what we're having. I'm making it up". Run for the hills!!!

As bad as this sounds, what I make usually tastes pretty good and every one eats without too many complaints. Every once in a while, I come up with something really good. I'm pretty proud of this one so I thought I would share it. I plan to do this periodically so you better keep up!


I do not follow recipes. I cook by smell and taste. I don't measure things and I don't write things down. Measurements are by memory and estimation.

Now, without further hesitation, my "recipe" for an amazing tomato soup!

This soup would be incredible with ripe summer tomoatoes. I had to make do with the "ripened on the vine" ones. At least they were red and smelled like tomato. This recipe made enough for about 10 servings with a side or sandwich. I planned on freezing half of it but we ate it all first. Consider making the full amount or even more and freezing.

4 lbs tomatoes

whole garlic

1/2 or small sweet onion



(I used Hot Salt for the cayenne and portion of the salt)

whole pepper corns




1 carton of chicken or vegetable broth (2 cans?)

Run the tomatoes whole through the food processor until almost smooth leaving some chunks for texture (skin, seeds and everything! Don't want to waste any of the nutrition)

pour into large pot. Same with onion.

Smash 2 cloves of garlic and put in. Add broth. Bring to boil. Add seasonings to taste and simmer until flavors are blended. Serve topped with your favorite cheese and a salad or sandwich. Enjoy!

Please let me know if you make this, how it turned out and what modifications you made because I wouldn't want you to do exactly what I did. No fun there!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Here Comes Santa Claus

OK. So its the week before Christmas (almost). The shopping is DONE!! Even Santa is done with his shopping. Which brings us to my point (assuming there is one in here somewhere). Linden still believes in Santa Claus. She's right on the edge of not believing. Right at that point where she doesn't quite trust the kids who are telling her different things. Right at the point where she has lots of questions. Now if you know Linden, you know that she has LOTS of questions. I think the word is actually 'incessant'? For the past several weeks, we have discussed ad nauseaum how Santa can possibly deliver to all the kids in the world (and believe me, she has more than one angle on this one), why we can't just fly to the North Pole and see Santa and why do kids keep lying to her about The Big Guy not being. To be honest, I am done with Santa. I'm ready to stop playing the game but I don't have the heart to tell her. Her sister is telling her big stories about Mr. Claus and his doings while at the same time slipping that she "knows" was Santa is bringing. Linden is a smart kid. I think this will probably be the last year for Santa, Mr. EB and the tooth fairy. I am trying to enjoy the magic for as long as it lasts. And so is Linden.
Link to where you can find this card :

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I learned how to knit and my dog stinks!

OK. So they're not directly related but both are relevant in my little world right now. First, the dog. Seriously, there is something wrong with this dog. Something very very wrong. As my husband pointed out in an email this morning, the Geneva Convention banned the use of poisonous gas in warfare. Someone forgot to tell Kanji about this. Its a silent weapon he wields well. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this.

As for the knitting, its a longer story with, hopefully, a happier ending. I learned how to knit today - again. Its actually the third time. Sort of.

The problem, you see, is that I am left handed. Its something I've always been proud of. I consider it one of the sources of my power. It is also a tad inconvenient at times. Learning to knit has been one of those times. My mother, who was an amazing knitter among other things, was not able to teach me. I am a kinesthetic learner, meaning I need to put my hands on things to learn. She was never able to figure out how to hold the needles or where to put the thread so that it made sense in my hands.

Many years later, I asked my mother in law, who happens to be left handed, to teach me. The lessons went very well. I learned to do a backwards purl stitch and a purl stitch. Wait. That's not right! Its supposed to be knit, purl. Well, yeah it is but things don't always work that way in my hands. What I thought was a knit stitch was really a purl stitch from the wrong side. By the time I figured this out, the motor patterns were laid and I was pretty much screwed. I got really good at making scarves (if you didn't mind that I had a terrible habit of adding stitches).

I tried my hand at hats with not so positive results so I moved on to something a bit different. I learned to knit on a loom (commonly sold as a Knifty Knitter but I think loom sounds much more grown up). I have become very good at my looms. I can make hats in various shapes and sizes as well as handwarmers and assorted other goodies. For some reason, ok, for speed, I thought I wanted more.

So today I did what everyone does anymore. I went surfing. I logged on to dogpile and I entered "left handed knitting". I found lots of sites that made my eyes glaze over with k2 and p1 and stuff like that. Then I found this site: If you have ever had thoughts of learning to knit, this is the place to go! Ms. Penny Dablin has a series of videos that show exactly what to do with your fingers and the yarn. And she does it all with a charming accent! What I learned was to knit right handed (I know but it made sense to me) but hold the yarn in my left hand (I believe this is continental knitting?) Its going slowly and I am still adding stitches willy nilly but I seem to have both a knit and a purl going and that is an improvement. Now if I could just find something that will help my dog...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the Wagon - again

Well folks, its been 3 months since my last drink. I think this is the longest its been without even a sip since college. I did it mostly for my health, the empty calories I certainly don't need. The feeling of addiction scared me too as well as the withdrawl everytime I tried to quit. It was time to let it go - cold turkey this time. Not that I don't still think about drinking every day. Mornings are the hardest. I still wake up every day thinking about where I can find that first drink. I try to avoid convenience stores as that is where I usually bought my bottles. I always kept a stash in my truck, away from the prying eyes of my husband. I knew he disapproved of how much I drank. I often snuck the empties into the recycling bin on trash days after he left for work. Vacations are hard. I just got back from a roadtrip to Seattle. The late nights and the long drives made me crave my drinks. Yes, I do admit that I drank while I was driving. In fact, my truck was my favorite place to drink. It made the days go better and the drives easier. I admit is been tough, very tough, but I am oh so proud of myself. 90 days without a drink now. Pepsi, you have lost another customer!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mommy, watch what I can do

Usually I don't mind those words. Usually it means I'm in for some sort of treat. This afternoon, however, those words kind of made me mad. Why you ask? Because I was in the shower at the time. The expereince prompted me to think about how long its been since I've had any privacy. My oldest daughter just turned 12 so I'd have to say its been about 12 years. I can't even remember the last time I went to the bathroom without the accompanyment of a child or a dog. My 7 year old has some kind of radar where she can sense the lowering of the toilet seat. Its amazing how many drawings, gymnastics moves and karate kicks are perfected in the 30 seconds it takes me to relieve myself. My favorites have to be naps. Today, I was awakened from a dead sleep to explain how to turn the sound up on the stereo. Sometimes, its the yell from the other room, "be quiet, Mom is sleeping!" or how about the whisper in the ear "can I have some candy?" Even now as I write, I have a little mouse sitting half on my lap commenting on everything I write. I love you Linden but please do go away, just for 30 seconds! (and instead of heeding the message, she is correcting my grammar. sigh)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not really a blog

This isn't exactly a post that I've put alot of time and thought into. In fact I just ran back to my cottage to use the restroom and refill my water bottle (I think I've had enough wine for now. And just in case you don't know me, that would be about half a glass over the last hour and a half.) While I am enjoying the beautiful weather and laughter of kids, I thought I might share some of the images I have taken here at Glen Lake and the vicinity. I have not yet downloaded the images I have taken so far this year so these are from years past. But then not much changes around here.

Boathouse in Leland MI

Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Northport MI

Grand Traverse Bay from
Leelanau Penninsual

Grand Traverse Bay from
Leelanau Penninsula

Sunset over Little Glen Lake
from the dock at our cottages

Sunset over Sleeping Bear Dunes from
our dock on Little Glen Lake

Images from this year to come at a later date.

Peace out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I'm not FAT!

Stamping my feet and waving my fists!!! Really I don't see myself as fat, no matter what the chart in the dr.s office says (actually it says "overweight"). Like anyone my height would ever weigh 130 pounds! (5'8 1/2 if you're wondering). I've always been big. My mother always used to comment on my big hands and wide shoulders (womens jackets and blouses never fit right. Shoulder pads in the 80's were my worst nightmare!) I've always been athletic and I am proud of the muscle that I carry. I'm not by any means a body builder type but I look strong and I am. I am also a bit heavy, I'll admit it. I did lose quite a bit of weight about 5 years ago and I looked pretty good. Unfortunately, with a combonation of anti-depressants and having to cut my activity levels way down and not caring for a couple of years, I have gained about 20 pounds of that back. I intend to work on this when we get back from MI in a couple of weeks (cherry pie is just too much of a temptation!). As much for my looks as for my health and because I will be testing for my black belt in December and any advantage I can give myself will help. All of this (finally!) brings me to my point. Photographs are not my friends!

Ironically, I am a photographer. I (think) I take some amazing photos. I will point my camera at anything but myself. Photos of me never quite match up to my self image. Take last night for example. My baby dog (surrogate babies will be discussed in a future post) was being very cuddly and oh so sweet. I thought she looked adorable and my Twitter friends have never seen what I really look like so I tossed my cell phone to my hubby and had him take a picture. It was HORRIBLE!! Given this was a crappy cell phone camera not my Nikon. And I was slouching. And wearing not the most flattering clothes. And the camera was pointed right at my belly, probably magnifying it 10x. But still.... Really?? Do I really look like that? NO. I refuse to believe that. So in the spirit of fair play, I have edited the image just a tad so that you can see what I really look like (in my head anyway).


Friday, July 3, 2009

Stop eating my cheese!

You know all of those articles in the womens magazines that give tips on how to get your kids to eat more than mac and cheese and chicken strips? Yeah, I don't have that problem. My kids are good eaters. They always have been. They eat what I give them. Don't get me wrong, they have things they don't like. I do too. But they tried those things before deciding they didn't like them. And they continue to try and have changed thier minds about foods they previously passed on.

I love the stares we get in the super market when my girls beg for artichokes and broccoli and do little dances when I go for the fresh green beans. I was so proud the other night at karate when Linden was eating her chicken curry and brown rice while the other kids were wrinkling their noses at her and when Jeanne filled her bowl at the Mongolian BBQ with tofu. Not to say they don't also beg for cookies and candy and cheese in a can. They do like their chicken strips as well as the next kid. Fortunately they get the difference between "everday" food and "sometimes" food.

All of this leads me to current problem. My cheese problem. The girls and I were trying to think of something to get for dinner last night. Linden suggested Burgerville. Jeanne wanted to go to the new Laotian restaurant. Then Linden asked for a Lunchable which gave me the most wonderful idea for a hot summer night, cheese and fruit! We cruised the cheeses and the produce at Fred Meyer and came hope with watermelon, papaya, pineapple, black grapes, cherries, Greek olives, brie, blue cheese, a hard cheddar and hummus (Jeanne begged for the hummus). Was a perfect dinner except for one thing. They ate all of my cheese.

I found a good ripe brie. That's not easy task around here where everybody seems to like hard, bland brie. This was probably a mistake that didn't get pulled from the shelf or something but I was happy. Finally a full flavored, pungent brie! Surely the kids would pass based on the smell alone. They can have the plastic cheese in the back of the fridge or something. But no. My kids, being the good food eating, taste it before you decide kids, tried my brie. And they liked it. And they ate it. They ate all of it. They ate all of my wonderful, smelly, ripe, expensive brie.

They ate everything else too, just so you know.

So next time you read one of those articles about how to sneak good food into your kid's Spaghettios or make your toddler try something new, think about this..."Do you really want your kids to eat all of your cheese?"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why I'm crying today

My friend's father died yesterday. I hoped my best that it wouldn't happen but I knew it would. The little bits of information I had just never sounded right. I thought I was going to be OK when she told me but, when I got the note, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I sat and cried. I didn't know him and I barely know Rebecca but I cried anyway. I cried because I know the pain that she is now going through and I cried because I know that there's nothing that I can do or say that will make it better. I also cried for me and for the people that I love. The whole experience has opened up some barely covered wounds and and emotions I've never dealt with. I cried for my mom who fought for a long time and lost. I cried for my mother in law who is still fighting and for my friend Lisa who is just beginning her fight. I am crying now. I know that my "pretend it isn't happening" defense may seem like I don't want to be involved but its the only way I know how to deal with things like this. Just know that I will be there if you need me. Like I was for my mom and like I wanted to be there for my mom. I can give hugs and tell jokes and I can listen, if you don't mind a bit of wetness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sorry Its Been So Long

Yeah I know. Its been over a year. What happened? Well, its a long story. Too many things and not enough. Mostly insecurity about what I write. Laziness. A hard lesson learned. Why would anybody care? Since I don't imagine anyone actually reading this, I suppose I can write whatever I want. So now I will. Maybe. If I feel like it. And I promise not to delete it a day later. Maybe.

So what's been happining over the last year? Not much but too much to write. I'm still at home. Still not feeling good. Realizing that this probably isn't going to change so trying not to dwell on it. On good days I celebrate. On bad ones, I don't complain too much. I'm walking the dogs and doing my art and loving my family and mostly I am content if not a little bored.

I have lots of ideas for future blogs but most don't come to a point worth sharing. I write them in my head late at night and most never see the light of day. I will think them through more and flesh them out and, maybe share them with you, whoever you may be. (Merrie? Or have you given up on me too?)