Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween on my Street

When we lived downriver in a rural area, we used to get 8-10 kids on Halloween night. When we moved into town the first year, we anticipated a deluge of little goblins; we had 12 (and I was left with a lot of treats -- which were quickly applied directly to my abdomen and bum!) Next year we had 16.
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This year, we had 28; and the last little blighters received granola bars! I felt terrible. #1 What kid wants granola bars when their mouths are set for chips or candy. #2 I ate 2 mini Mr Bigs while I was waiting for the little 'uns!
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Ah, but thankfully, no tricks were played on me. Here are some of the cuties that came to my door. I loved the "tree" with the birds nest.
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Of course, running out of goodies means that I don't have the awful responsibility of finishing off any of those nasty mini bars or bags of Skittles! (Drat! That means I'll have to visit the stores for their 50% off!)
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Hope your Halloween was enjoyable.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Oct 28.10

Have you noticed? I haven't been thrifting lately!
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Are you impressed? Are you amazed by my self-discipline? (Asks the woman who already ate one bag of the "Girls! Get away from there and don't Touch!" Halloween treats.)
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I hadn't gone thrifting for myself for over a month. I've picked up some great buys for others for Xmas (but I can't show you because they might be reading and watching! Shhhhh!) But last Friday, I bought a couple of treats for myself.
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I found this pretty 3-quarter sleeve red blouse ($3.50); it has a twist detail just at the bust which is sewn, yet it has buttons below. Different huh! But it's comfy and fits well.
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I also found this cute short-sleeved, ruffle front shirt in a pretty teal color ($3.50). When I hung it in my closet, I noticed these pants that I thrifted last winter. Perfect match!
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And I confess that I still can't visit Frenchies without checking out the dishes bin. I stopped there just as one of the workers was re-stocking it, and I found this lovely glass pumpkin. Not quite big enough for a full-sized cookie jar, but it might be just the size for a few treats scavenged from the girls after their night of trick or treating. (Perhaps a few bite sized chocolate bars and ALL the rolls of Rockets they've received? Yeah, the perfect size for those items! )
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Drop by Leigh at Tales From Bloggeritaville for more wonderful Thrifty Thursday finds.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rednesday - Oct 27.10




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.Today's Rednessday reminds me of what I did this weekend. I changed out my summer bed linens.

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Off came the light, blue sheets; and on went these crisp, heavier cotton ones.

Then off came the cream-colored woven coverlet & white eyelet bed skirt; and on went the red toille quilt, striped bedskirt and pillow shams. Just warm enough for the cooler nights lately..

I'm also reminded of the redness of autumn as I look out my kitchen window. There's the vibrancy of my neighbour's beautiful Burning Bush (something for my little sprig to aspire to someday!). As well, there's the Virginia Creeper vines that both my neighbour and I are growing.










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And there are several colors of autumn reflected in this delicious Cortland apple.
The Cortlands are a "limited time offer" apple: they are only around for a month or two as they don't last past that time. So, I'm savoring the few I have left before I head off to the Farm Market to choose another variety. Aren't Fall foods wonderful!
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Please go and visit Sue at http://suelovescherries.blogspot.com/ for more REDnesday fun.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Lunchable Surprise!


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If I said let's have lunch together and I suggested a delicious salad made with:
  • fresh-grilled chicken
  • mixed greens
  • oven-roasted tomatoes
  • fire-roasted corn
  • savory black beans
  • poblano peppers
  • shredded cheddar and jack cheeses and
  • chili lime tortilla strips

Would your mouth water? Would you say "I love Southwest Chicken salad"? And would the only trouble you'd have with getting this stuff down your throat be when it hangs out the side of your mouth because you're grinning in delight with every yummy morsel?.




Yup! Me too!

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That was lunch for me today. And guess where this yummy salad came from? McDonalds! It was gorgeous, darlings! Absolutely gorgeous!

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I've tried grilled chicken salads from all the fast food places; they've been awful to mediocre to quite passable. But I like the meal-sized salads at McDonalds. I've eaten the Asian -- very good! And the Greek -- very, very good! .

Today for the first time, I tried the new southwest chicken salad. And man! It was delicious! The portion size for their salads is excellent; more than enough as a main portion meal. The chicken is always juicy and tender. And the flavoring today was perfect! Just enough kick without being too spicy; you could taste each individual flavor. I did use the Southwest Ranch dressing that they included; but I find that half the packet is enough -- plus I've saved myself some calories.

So, what about the nutritional content of this food, you may ask? Pretty darned decent actually!

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  • With grilled chicken: 320 calories, 9 g fat,3 g sat. fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 30 g protein

  • With crispy chicken: 400 calories, 16 g fat,4 g sat. fat, 41 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 25 g protein

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And according to Weight Watchers, this salad is worth about 6 points. Very filling and very tasty indeed.

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McDonald's Southwest Chicken Salad:
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I really am lovin' it!
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(No money changed hands during this endorcement ... except for $7.81 Canadian it cost me to buy it. They did not even pay me in free salads!! (which was the suggestion I made to the little counter person who served me.)

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

Janet at Friday Fill-Ins is hosting #196 today. Here goes:



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1. One of my strongest beliefs is that my day-to-day relationship with Jesus an absolute necessity.






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2. Sometimes when I look at photos of myself, I think my nose looks huge!



3. The sky is cloudy with a threat of rain and wind and cold, so hot cocoa, wooly socks, a trashy magazine and the sofa all sound pretty inviting.


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4. Knowing that God will take care of me is comforting to me. And He loves me just the way I am. (He even knows what I'm going to say in #5 below and He still loves me! He's a pretty great God!)

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5. I always thought I'd be rich, retired and having more sex at this age!





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6. I was still awake at 3 AM and remembering our goodnight kiss. So, I put on my robe, made some tea, and then I went outside to look at the full moon. (This memory is entirely fictional [refer to #5] and spoken aloud with hope and optimism!)


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7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing nothing, tomorrow my plans include enjoying having nothing planned and Sunday, I want to rest after doing nothing all weekend --- well, except what I desired to do!
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Go ahead -- do the Friday Fill-In yourself. And remember to pop over at
Friday Fill-Ins and see what others had to share.


And as my friend Nezzy would say, "Happy Friday y'all!"





The Pleasure of Anticipation.....

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Why is it that we need to remind ourselves to relax, unplug and let go? Life is full of so much -- so much to do, so much to see, so much to write, so much to read, so much to say -- SO MUCH! All these modern conveniences and the desire to 'have it all and do it all' has got us stretched to the limit. And I'm speaking from personal testimony, of course..


After the practicing and the 2 nights of the play (and subsequent adrenalin rush); after the every-day with 2 new-to-me kids (one of whom can be a little trying) as well as the tears from the daughter in university and the one daughter downstairs who likes to stay up until the wee hours of the morning & eat the leftovers you planned for tomorrow night's dinner; after the headlight on the car blowing and waking up Sat morning of the play to find the sump-pump downstairs stopped sometime during the week (and there are pools of water in the back basement .....and it's still raining outside ..... and your friend/handyman is away for the weekend); AND you've got your first exam on Tues night ---

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.I'm ready for some R 'n' R!

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But first, we'd better check to see what's on my to-do list this weekend:
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Perfect! And you know, it's not that I don't have things to do. And it's not that I won't do anything. It's just that there isn't anything that I must do!
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How's wonderful is that? I get to choose!
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Plus there's bonus stuff that allows me to indulge myself this weekend! There's food in the cupboard and casseroles in the freezer so children will not starve. Because of my exam, I don't have any studing for next Tuesday. Both the car and sump are fixed. The stretch-mark babies have been spoken to (in various tones depending on the circumstances); and the international babies have a 4 day weekend (so I'm expecting boredom to set in by Fri when I get off work; and that should mean that they'll be going out; and that equals an empty, quiet house).



This is my weekend to unplug from responsibility and expectation. I've been thinking about this weekend for over a week; and it's almost here! Hurrah!
Here are the things that I KNOW will happen this weekend:

  • Quite a bit of sleeping
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  • A small but effective portion of bubble-bathing (with or without wine & music)
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  • Worship, prayer & giving thanks to God (followed by lots of smiling and contented sighing)

  • A rather HUGE amount of lounging (&/or TV watching, reading, eating of bonbons)

  • Some answering of questions and requests with "No. Not today."

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Yes, sometimes we overextend ourselves. And sometimes life just does a number on us. But a weekend off with nothing to do is a powerful tonic to the soul.

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Heck! Just the anticipation of this weekend has me "turning the other cheek" and smiling from ear to ear.

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I may or may not see you this weekend! But I joyfully anticipate rest; and I wish the same for you!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Smash Success!

Here we are: the cast of The Vagina Monologues. Young, old, in between; semi-professional actors and brand-newbies to the stage. What a wonderful group; and what a wonderful time we had.
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Friday and Saturday performances were nearly sold out in that little theatre (roughly 300 people each night). We paid the bills Friday night, and were able to give over $500 to breast cancer research.
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And oh my! The rush and the high of standing in front of a happy, responsive audience and making them laugh (or cry) is amazing! I'm hooked! There were so many wonderful compliments for me and rave reviews over the show.
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Here I am not only covered in much more war paint than I normally use, but false eyelashes to boot -- with little blue beads on them! What fun it was to wear them. They were a little heavy, and I felt like I had spiders on my eyelids. So as soon as I got home Friday night, I collapsed in the armchair, peeled them off and put them on the coffee table. When I went back for them a few hours later, there was only one of them!. Although I searched under sofas and behind curtains on Saturday, I did not check where I suspected they might turn up --- the kitty litter box and Tolouse's latest contribution to same!!
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My eyes may have been less noticable to the audience during Saturday night's performance, but at least my dignity was intact! (Well, as dignified as you can possibly be when your monologue is "The Flood"!)
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Ahhhh! Now to rest and resume my normal, mundane, happy day-to-day life! My public will simply have to be patient and await my return to the stage (and screen?).
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Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm hitting the stage!


Although I've been a class clown since I started school, I've never stood on a stage and acted in front of people. Tonight, that will change!
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For the past month, I've joined a group of wonderful, brave, beautiful women, aged 17 to 70 to practice for this weekend's performance of the following play:
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Internationally acclaimed play written by Eve Ensler
Oct. 15 - 16 • 8pm
Astor Theatre, Liverpool, NS
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Funny - Sad - Outrageous Thought-provoking
You’ll laugh, cry, gasp, sigh
Proceeds to CanadianBreast Cancer Foundation.
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For some who have never heard of or seen this play, it may seem quite shocking and perhaps even tabu! Some may even question how a Christian woman could act in something that talks so openly about "private" things; or they may wonder how she can be in the company of other actors whose roles use much more graphic actions or language. And I admit that I've had to focus on my own role and stretch to be part of this.
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But I'm a woman who celebrates women -- our uniqueness, our feminity, our beautiful aging bodies, our God-given role here on earth and the gift of freedom that He's given us to be who we were created to be. And as a victim of abuse and rape, I find that His love which healed me and my own aging coupled with His guidance are helping me to be more vocal against things that are wrong. This play is a powerful voice!
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This is what The Astor Theatre itself says about The Vagina Monologues:
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A poignant, powerful, and sometimes hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. In this stunning phenomenon that has swept the nation, Eve Ensler gives us real women's stories of intimacy, vulnerability, and sexual self-discovery. Based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, The Vagina Monologues is witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise. "At first women were reluctant to talk," Ensler writes. "They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them." The Vagina Monologues has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses. It has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement - V-Day - to promote awareness and stop violence against women. Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning masterpiece gives voice to women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who sees it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.
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My monologue is "The Flood". And tonight, I hope we all
"break a leg"!
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Squashing Your Fears Concerning Winter Squash

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"Winter squash has such a tough skin! What's the best way to peel and cut it?"
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That was a question I was asked recently. And although Canadian thanksgiving is over with for this year, I know there are many of my American blogging buddies who are probably wondering the same thing. I'm here to help!
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Let's talk about squash! The yellow and orange flesh of this lovely vegetable is more nutritious and richer in vitamins, especially beta carotene, than summer squash. It's always served cooked and, because of its tough skin, only the inside flesh is eaten. This flesh is sweet and perfect for cooking - as a side dish with your meal, baked and stuffed, or pureed and turned into muffins, sweet breads and pies, especially pumpkin! There are many varieties of this lovely vegetable; and because it's hard, protective outer skin increases its storage life, winter squash can be stored for 3 months or longer if kept in a cool dark place, like a basement or garage.
. Unlike the picture above, squash cannot talk!

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Some winter squash are small and can be peeled with relative ease. But in Atlantic Canada, the one you most often find is the Buttercup squash which has an extremely tough outer skin.
However, being tough Maritimers ourselves, we do not flinch at the task! So, let me share my knowledge with you on how to tackle the job of peeling and cutting up one of my favorite vegetables.

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First, assemble the tools you'll need for the job. .

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I use a large chef's knife. I insert the point of the knife into one end and exert pressure on it while kind-of rocking it back and forth to cut through the skin. If the squash is a large one (like I'm apt to buy, especially for holiday meals), it will probably only cut part of the way before it becomes stuck; you then put yourself in reverse -- hold the squash down and rock the knife back and forth while you pull on it to get it out. Wipe blood off vegetable, get a bandaid and continue. Now, turn the squash upside down, insert the point into the skin on this side, and rocking the knife back and forth, try to meet up with your original cut.
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Phew! Man! This is hard work! Better fortify yourself; open that bottle of Thanksgiving wine and pour a wee glass!

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Now that the first cut is done, it will be a little easier. Continue to cut your squash into manageable chunks. You may have to stop every now and then (5 min rests as opposed to the 10 min one you needed for that first cut.) Open and close your cramping fingers several times to get the blood flowing again; rub vigorously to try to get the imprint of the knife handle out of the palm of your hand. Raise squash into the air and shout loudly at Vegetable Gods:
Why! Why! WHY!
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Pour more wine. Ahhhhh! Now, back to squash .....
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Sorry! Wrong squash!
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Depending on the size of your squash (and your wine glass), this portion of the job should take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to 45 min. Once that sucker is cut into chunks, it gets much easier. The next thing you do is to scoop out its guts with your large soup spoon.During this task, you will find that this slippery little devil will flick its slimy entrails around your kitchen. (Cursing also usually happens at this stage!) After the centre has been cleaned out, turn the pieces onto their sides and slice off (aka hack off) the tough outer skin. Discard entrails and outer skin, wash chunks, put into pot with a little water & salt, and cook for 15-20 min.
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Collapse on floor and reward yourself for having "tamed the wild beast". While drinking wine, clean the squash seeds out of your hair.
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Once the squash is cooked, drain and mash, adding delicious, coronary-hardening amounts of butter and a generous splash of maple syrup (OR is that a generous splash of wine?). Mash the squash some more until it's creamy and sweet and orange and inviting. Umm um um!
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Smile and serve this 'sacrifice of time and love' to your family, including the international students who have been gathered to your bosom and wrapped in your warm embrace.
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Hear the festive dining room ring out with their loud exclaimations and singing choruses:
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"Eww! Mom, I hate squash!"
"Do I have to eat that?"
"No! I don't like the texture!"
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Turn on your heel, go directly upstairs to bedroom, lock door, finish that bottle of wine. Ungrateful little brats!
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Yeah! So that's pretty much how I do it. I hope it helps.
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A Most Delicious Pumpkin Pie




Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. And when most of us think of thanksgiving, two things that almost always come to mind are turkey and pumpkin pie.
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(We also think of gluttony, stretch pants, Bromo Seltzer and promises that will never be kept, such as "I'll never do this again!" Thankfully, God can forgive us ALL our sins and love us in spite of our foolishness.)
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I've been making pumpkin pie from scratch for the past couple of years. Sorry Libbys! But as much as I appreciate your large-can pumpkiny-ness, you just don't compare to small, round, sweet Sugar Pumpkins!
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I normally use my friend's recipe, but I couldn't find it this year. So, I went to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Harrowsmith Country Life Baking Book. It's full of delicious receipes; I've tried a lot of them and never had a dud!
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The actual recipe is called "Pumpkin-Orange Pie in a Walnut Crust". Doesn't that sound gorgeous? But as I already had the pastry chilling in the fridge, I didn't make the walnut crust (next time). I followed the ingredients exactly and it was wonderful! and dare I say, even a little healthy. Ahhh, yogurt people! I do think, however, that the measurements for the spices and the orange zest can be cut-back ever so slightly. But let me tell you -- this one was a winner!
(And I know you can all tell that this picture is an internet stock photo and not my actual piece of pie. It's obvious because this piece is much too small and everyone knows that you're not supposed to see the actual pie under the mound of whipped cream! Like DUH!)
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Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the Harrowsmith recipe: my modified measurements are in red and the original measurements are in black in brackets.
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Crust
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup ground walnuts
3 Tbsp oil
1/4 orange juice or water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
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Combine crust ingredients and press into a 9" pie pan. Set aside.
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Filling
2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
1.5 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 scant tsp ginger
1/4 scant tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice (1/4 tsp)
1/16 tsp cloves (1/8 tsp)
1 tsp grated orange zest (1 Tbsp)
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To make filling, beat together (or puree in food processor) pumpkin, yogurt, orange juice, sugars and eggs. Add salt, spices and orange zest; and stir until thoroughly blended. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan.
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Bake at 425 F deg for 15 min, then lower temperature to 350 deg F and continue baking for 45 min or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.
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(I used a standard size deep dish pie pan and the baking time was roughly 1 hr 15 min.)
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The smell of this pie while cooking is divine and reminded me of Christmas. So, it'll be perfect for American Thanksgiving coming up in November. Enjoy!
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Birthday!

You know how women of a "certain age" find it necessary to visit the little girls room throughout the night? Well, somehow I slept right through until the morning of my birthday which made it extra special when I got up Sunday morning and stumbled to the bathroom. And here's what I saw on the door:
.... and here's what I saw inside:
(And no! I didn't use this particular piece because it was done with permanent markers; and I didn't feel it would be appropriate to have to pull down my skivies and stand backwards in front of the full length mirror in order to read my birthday wishes. I just ain't that agile any more!)
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Then I went downstairs and this is what I saw in the living room:
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What a wonderful way to start my birthday!
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After church, I donned my birthday crown. .
I made shortbread cookies using my new-to-me thanksgiving-themed cookie cutters from Value Village; the girls helped. Then, I poured a glass of wine and reclined in the parlor ..... and they baked me a cake and made me killer nachos! Wow! They were soooo good - chicken, olives, onions, peppers & 2 kinds of cheese; served with sour cream and mango salsa!

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There was cake (double-layered peach upside down cake) ..... followed by much pleasant groaning ("Oh! I ate too much!); and a movie together (The Social Network -- pretty good).

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It was a grand day for my "golden" as Libby says:
10-10-10
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Thank you so much friends for all the wonderful birthday wishes. You are a fantastic bunch!
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Celebration and indulgence are on the menu for today!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pink Saturday



Saturday ............... 7 am .................... no one else awake.

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Ahhh! Tis' blissful.
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I'm preparing for my birthday breakfast with my wonderful friend, Lucy, who's a cancer survivor. So, I'm going as pink as possible. But should I wear the short-sleeved white t-shirt with the ruffled-edged pink cardigan? Or should I go with the long-sleeved ribbed shirt?
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I know! I'll do the white T for breakfast; then I'll change into the long-sleeved T before the girls and I leave for our day trip.
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And when checked the outside temperature, it was lovely to see the pink gernaniums still blooming..


But first, I'll collect the Saturday newspaper ... in it's protective pink plastic wrapper.


One of my favorite things about Saturday!


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I didn't join up in time to get on the list. But I'm happy to join Beverly and friends for Pink Saturday today. So, please check out all the participants.

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Happy Saturday everyone!