22 May 2015

Feline Friday: Kitten Obsession!


Blogging friends: Once again, I find myself apologizing for my recent lack of posts. But this time, I have a better excuse than usual -- we have made three trips to Indiana in the past four weeks. We've had a great time visiting our daughter! Of course, when you are gone so many days, it's easy to fall behind on lots of things, including blogging.

But I could NEVER miss Feline Friday! Today I'm sharing a sweet picture of Lily watching the TinyKittens kitten cam on my phone. It was actually dark when Spouse took this photo from across the room on his phone, so the quality isn't good -- not to mention my appearance...yikes! But I love how Lily is watching the kittens so intently!

I've also downloaded a game for her to "play" on my phone. So far, she just watches while I play the game! She much prefers the kittens, as do I! :)

Happy Feline Friday!

15 May 2015

Feline Friday: Breakfast with Lily


After the morning feeding frenzy, Lily plops herself on my lap while I read the paper and have a little breakfast. 

I don't think she's really all that interested in current events. She's just after my cereal milk. 

And ear scritches. She'll take all the scritches she can get. 

Love her to pieces.
jp

14 May 2015

Brava to Our Girl!


 Before we had our daughter, I could not imagine what parenthood might be like. And although I knew that my parents loved me, I could not fathom the depth of that love until I became a parent myself. Sure, parenthood is hard (I feel like I'm STILL learning how to be a mom), but it also brings with it some pretty amazing moments. As it turns out, this girl -- this smart, talented, and very strong girl -- has brought me more joy as a parent than I ever thought possible.

 This past weekend, we celebrated with her as she graduated with High Distinction from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, with a Bachelor of Music Education - Percussion, the equivalent of a second major in choral music education, and minors in conducting and Spanish. IU's music curriculum is one of the most rigorous in the nation, yet she insists that this achievement was "no big deal" -- she says she just did what was asked of her. But her father and I know that she has worked extremely hard and prepared herself exceedingly well with support from the incredible music faculty. 

 Look back with me to August of 2010, when we left home with this girl sick with worry in the back seat of the SUV. I minimized it in that blog post, but trust me: She was incredibly apprehensive about being 8 hours from home and very fearful about how she would fare in such a big program. We knew she would be just fine, but she had to prove it to herself. And in very short order, she did.

If pride is a sin, I'm absolutely guilty. I could not be more proud of this girl. So it was a complete joy to participate in this milestone event, one that I could never have imagined 22 years ago.

 As luck would have it, the students from the college of music were accidentally seated in the front row -- out of 11,000 graduates in attendance.
 

And as luck would also have it, the rain which threatened to derail the event held off until the moment we left the stadium.

The commencement speaker was sports broadcaster and IU graduate Sage Steele, who asked the graduates, "How will you choose to live your life?" and challenged them to "choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong". Good advice for all of us.

The celebration continued with a ceremony at Jacobs, where each student was recognized and shook the hand of the dean.

Bailey was one of 350+ graduates of the music school, which included (I'm guessing) fewer than 20 from the percussion department. Here she is with her some of her fellow percussion graduates. (I knew she was short, but...!)

Now I don't have any hard and fast numbers, but I can tell you that for whatever reason, there are (in general) very few female percussionists. There are even fewer percussionists who pursue a music education degree. (The vast majority seek to play rather than teach.) So it follows that there are very, very few female band directors who specialize in percussion. Although she may not agree, I know that it is often harder to be one of few than one of many, and I applaud her for being a role model for others to follow. We know that Bailey's unique background and skills will help her become a great music educator.
 
So here's to our girl, with a grateful heart for all the joy she has given us over the years. And here's to all the joy that is yet to come. Her father and I can't wait to watch her future unfold!

08 May 2015

Feline Friday


 Ohai guise! Is it FRIDAI yet?
 

Yep, Lily! It is indeed! 
Have a great Feline Friday!

07 May 2015

Recipe: Turkish Spiced Chicken Minus a Few Things

Hello and happy Thursday!
Last week I tried a great new recipe from The Splendid Table. I listen to this NPR show every time I get the chance, and I'm always amazed by Lynn Rossetto Kasper's seemingly endless knowledge about all food-type things. Her easy-going, positive manner makes even ME think I'm capable of doing big things in the kitchen!

Alas, true to form, I left out some of the ingredients in the title. Good grief. Still, the recipe was yummy, and I can only imagine how good it would be if you made it correctly! :) 

First, I couldn't find green or red chiles at the grocery store. So I substituted a red bell pepper (not spicy at all but RED!) and a green poblano pepper (mildly spicy and also GREEN!). I also forgot to buy the green olives. But I had some kalamata olives in the fridge (I hoard them) so sacrificed a FEW for the good of the cause. I also used regular balsamic vinegar instead of white. Who knew there was such a thing anyway? And finally, I do not have a ridged pan, so I just used a regular skillet. My chicken (I actually used breasts, not thighs) didn't look as FANCY it might have, but it was still good!

So here's a link to the recipe, Turkish Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish. For convenience, I've copied it below. Do visit the website for more information. I highly recommend this recipe, with or without forgetting a few ingredients! :)

 
Turkish Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish


For the chicken:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the relish:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • sea salt flakes 
  • 1 green chile
  • 1 red chile
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • leaves from 8 sprigs of 
mint, torn
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve

To marinate the chicken, mix the regular oil, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper together to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken into a dish. Add the marinade and roll the chicken in it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
 

 Make the relish just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and bash it with a pestle until it is crushed. Halve and seed both chiles and chop them roughly. Add them to the mortar with the cilantro, mint, and olives and bash everything together, gradually adding the virgin olive oil and balsamic until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky, not puréed). Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

(OK, PEOPLE...the relish is good enough to eat with a spoon! And I did!)
 

 Heat a ridged grill pan. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, shake off the excess, and set it on the pan. Start off cooking it on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 4 minutes. The chicken should be cooked right through and charred, but not burnt.
 

Serve the chicken with lemon wedges, rice or flatbread, a bowl of Greek yogurt, and the relish. Cucumber and a green salad are good, too.
 


From A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley 2015.

01 May 2015

Feline Friday: Monorail Tinsel

I recently found Tinsel doing a fine bit of monorailing, a noteworthy cat position which is possible now that we have a couch with a narrow back. 

If you're going to be a Monorail Cat, you have to do it properly -- NOT like Lily's past attempts. See more of her Monorail Fails HERE.

Good job, Tinsel!

30 April 2015

Big Dreams Accomplished!

Blogging friends, my apologies for the continued lack of posts! We have been out of town visiting our daughter who is just finishing up her student teaching assignment. Last week we had the opportunity to attend two performances in which she conducted one of the bands she has been working with over the course of the semester.
 

As I sat in the auditorium waiting for the concert to start, it struck me that we were about to see the culmination of five years of preparation -- with goals that were formed long before that. I thought back to our daughter's 5th grade year when she started elementary band. From that point on, she wanted to be a band director. She never wavered from that goal, and now it is becoming a reality!

From the minute she took the podium, I could hardly believe my eyes -- or ears! She looked so comfortable and poised that one never would have guessed this was her first concert. I know how hard she has worked to bring out the best in her students, and it showed!
 
 
 
 We're coming to the end of Bailey's college years, and I'm a bundle of emotions about this transition. It's a big change to see her conducting a group rather than performing in one. But this next phase in her life promises to be every bit as fun and exciting as the previous stages, and we're looking forward to watching her grow and develop into an outstanding band director. I truly believe she has found her calling, and I can't wait to watch her future unfold!
jp


24 April 2015

Feline Friday: Where's Tinsel?

Earlier this week, I came upon this back-end display: Tinsel's attempt at hiding in the lap robe my grandma made (which she now calls her own).

Oh, look! There's Tinsel! What a surprise! :)
 

Okay, Tinsel...your secret hiding place is safe with me!
 



22 April 2015

Recipe: Nifty Thrifty Cookies

I reorganized my recipes awhile back and because of this, I'm still discovering recipes I'd forgotten. A case in point is this recipe for Nifty Thrifty Cookies, given to me by my beloved first grade teacher at my bridal shower many moons ago. Everyone who came to the shower brought a recipe and, of course, I still have them all. I remember that Mrs. Teter also gave me two cereal-sized bowls which she said were only to be used for vegetables. I use them often. For cereal. :)

Mrs. Teter was one of those teachers who was always old. She was old when I had her for a first grade teacher, yet she still taught for several years after that. She was an old-fashioned teacher with lots of rules, but she was warm and caring and remains one of my all-time favorites.

Anyway, I was recently looking for a cookie recipe and took a minute to actually read this one. I guess I'd never made it past the title! Turns out that this is a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, one of my very favorites! I can't quite figure out why they're called Nifty Thrifty Cookies. The ingredients don't seem especially thrifty to me, but I'm probably a poor judge of such things as I have one of the world's most poorly equipped pantries!

So back to the recipe. I love seeing Mrs. Teter's handwriting, (although I'm a bit concerned that she wrote "cooky" sheet. LOL) Her perfect penmanship takes me back to those days when our classroom was encircled by cursive writing borders. I tried my best to make my letters look just like the samples!

For the record, here is my first grade class, with Mrs. Teter in the top row at the left. I'm in the second row, second from the left. I've recently re-connected with several of the kids from my Kindergarten class, and we've had a great time reminiscing. Of course, I had to share this cookie recipe with them.


The cookies are nice and chewy, perfect with a cup of coffee. Or for breakfast. Or for a late night snack. And I can only imagine how good they would be with walnuts or pecans. Oh, my!
Mrs. Teter has been gone for several years now, but making her cookie recipe (albeit a few years late) was a nice journey down memory lane!
jp





17 April 2015

Feline Friday

That belly! That soft, floofy belly!
There are no more words needed for this extreme cuteness! :)

16 April 2015

Challenge: Print Your Pictures!

 
Whoa! Where has the week gone? I realize I posted almost every day last week then disappeared into a black hole. Sorry about that! Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.

For today's post, I'm going to direct you to a post I wrote for Memory Bound, the store where I teach. This post is all about the importance of printing your photos, something I've done a particularly poor job of doing for the past few years.

I've written lots about organizing photos that are already printed but this post covers that very important FIRST step in the process: PRINTING.

Take a look at the post here. I'm hoping you'll join me in this photo-printing CHALLENGE!
jp



10 April 2015

Feline Friday: Basket Obsession

I've posted before about Lily's ongoing obsession with our napkin basket. At least once a week she furiously digs out all the napkins so she can sit in it. It has become one of her quests in life.

It will be just like the old days!

When she was a little smaller. 

Make that much, MUCH smaller!



 Yeah...it will be just like the old days! 
Keep thinking those positive thoughts, Lily! We all have a few things that used to fit a little better! :)