Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Salad days of summer

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the weather this summer has been pretty consistently hot and humid.  That has meant a lot of main-dish salads at supper time and also for the weekly potlucks at church, and so I've tried several new salad recipes this summer.  I hope I can remember all of the ones I'd like to share with you.  We will see!

This Loaded Sweet Potato Tot Salad

Photo from Lemon Tree Dwelling
 from Lemon Tree Dwelling is one that I made a lot last year.  It's also good made with roasted cubes of sweet potato rather than the sweet potato tots.

One of this summer's favorites has been Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with cranberries and goat cheese.  This has gone over very well at the church potlucks.  It's so colorful!  I should add that I've only made this with butternut squash once.  The rest of the time I have roasted sweet potato cubes instead. 
Photo from Kelly's Ambitious Kitchen
 This is from  Kelly's Ambitious Kitchen.

Then the Greek Quinoa Salad from Your Home-Based Mom  is absolutely wonderful.

Photo from Your Home-Based Mom
This has been a huge hit everywhere I've taken it.  The Greek dressing recipe is worth making and keeping on hand for other uses. It's great on sliced tomatoes, or halved grape tomatoes.  I should also add that I don't use the garbanzo beans.  We don't get along, so I use small white beans, drained and rinsed, instead.

Lastly, and probably the top favorite, is the Loaded Chicken Taco Salad from Averie Cooks.
Photo from Averie Cooks
This is so good.  One friend at church told me I could bring this to the potluck every week and she would be happy.  The chicken component really needs to be warm for the salad to taste its best, so what I usually do for a potluck is to cook the chicken cubes in the taco seasoning at home, then transfer them to a mini crockpot to take along to the meal.  Something I have just done, but have not put to the test yet, is to cook chicken breasts with Mexican seasonings in a slow cooker.  I then cubed them up and froze them, in salad-sized servings,  in freezer bags to use in this salad.  We will see how it works out!

So those are a few of our favorite salads this summer.  You can find still more by clicking the "salads" label in the label cloud at right.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A little of this and a little of that

For those who enjoy random posts, this one's for you. The photo above was taken a week or so ago when Mr. T. and I took a supper picnic to a favorite lake.   He had a day when he was finished early with work, so after we had completed a number of tasks and errands we were shoehorning into his time off, we packed up a simple picnic and headed for the lake.  We took chicken salad sandwiches, horseradish dill pickles, potato chips, and granola bars.  We got there in the late afternoon around 5 pm or so.  Time enough for a swim and then enjoying the tranquility of a nearly empty beach for awhile before eating our supper.  Although the sky was overcast, the view was still lovely and so calming.

We had tried to do something like this a few weeks ago.  It turned out to be the most unrelaxing picnic either of us could ever recall!  This was a Saturday, a day we would not ordinarily attempt a picnic at the beach.  So we planned our timing to get to the lake around 4:30 p.m., a time when many people are leaving the beach,  and in fact, I think it was closer to 5 when we actually got there.  Our first clue that this was no ordinary Saturday was the full-to-overflowing parking lots.  I usually park in a side lot that isn't busy, but on this day it was packed.  We finally did locate a space, got our stuff out and headed for the beach.  Then came the second clue.  We felt as if we had wandered into some Latin American country on a major holiday. There were EZ-up canopies, multicolored hammocks strung from trees, tents, boom boxes blasting everything from Latin music to rap, families relaxing on the grass, people grilling. 

We did find a place to put chairs on the beach (no empty picnic tables, but that was a blessing in disguise because we could no longer hear the music) and relaxed for perhaps 15 minutes when there was a rumble of thunder and the lifeguard ordered everyone off the beach, out of the water, and behind the tree line.  The clouds looked threatening, but we proceeded to start eating our supper in our chairs beyond the tree line.  We had known that severe thunderstorms were in the forecast, but none were shown for the particular area where we were headed, so we had gone anyway.

Suddenly the wind came up -- it was a very strange, horizontal, unrelenting wind --  and things went absolutely crazy.   People running and screaming!  People grabbing one another and hysterically shouting in Spanish!  Chairs, sand, umbrellas, food, paper plates, foil cooking pans, towels, just everything, went airborne.  When we stood up, our camping chairs immediately blew away (but Mr. T caught them in time).  I noticed Uno cards spread across the sand, and a baby's sandal, among other things.

We managed to shout to one another (the wind was incredibly loud, in addition to all the other sound effects going on) that we would simply head to the van, not running, not trying to stay together, but just meet up there.  At one point Mr. T caught up with me and shouted that I should put my sandals on.  I had taken them off earlier and of course, when everything began happening I did not take time to replace them.  The sand was hitting us and stinging; it was absolutely crazy and it did not let up.  I got hit in the side of the face by what felt like a rock, but I believe it was a pine cone.   The force of the wind made it feel much harder.  All of our stuff nearly blew away -- in fact, some of it did -- and we made it to our vehicle without getting seriously hurt. 

We sat in the van and finished our supper.  When the wind lessened a bit, Mr. T went back to the beach, where he managed to hunt down almost everything we had lost.  He returned with our missing belongings, and with news.  There were people out in kayaks and they got blown off  them.  Food was left behind cooking on grills.  Canopies and their frameworks were destroyed.  What an amazing occurrence!  We had to return home by a back way since there were electric wires down on two roads we would ordinarily have traveled.  And in the area we had been, we never did see anything but just a spatter of rain.

Needless to say, I did not get pictures of this event!

•  So, let's see, in other news ... one evening we took three of our grandkids to visit my dad and then we took them to a nearby picnic area by a covered bridge, to eat supper.  As they explored the area, I gave 12-year-old Sam the camera.  He got some good shots!

Notice the reflections in this one

Taken through a window from inside the bridge
•  My mother loved wild roses and had transplanted them from several different locations.  I snapped the following pictures with my Kindle at my dad's one day.  It seemed like a very good year for these roses.

•  Months ago I visited a new-to-me local thrift store and found something really nifty:  a vintage Pyrex® bowl in the Gooseberry pattern.  I think I paid $3 for it.

It was certainly oven safe and looked as if it had been routinely baked in.  This was as clean as I could manage to get it.  It's currently sitting in the kitchen filled with ripening nectarines.

•  I've been slowly plugging away at crocheted hot pads, since they are something I can work on that's portable and by now I have the pattern memorized.  I've been having so much fun with the various colors of ombre cotton yarn.  This one is called Pink Lemonade.

A scan, rather than a photo.  Sort of interesting effect.
It's interesting to combine ombres and solid colors in these mats for varying effects.

•  Have you ever made watermelon salad?  We've done this a lot this summer and it is SO refreshing.  Just cut the desired amount of watermelon cubes and place in a serving bowl.  Drizzle over a fruity dressing (I like either the Ken's raspberry vinaigrette or the Wish-Bone super-fruit vinaigrette).    Then sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over the top.  We love this salad and it is so easy!

•  This has seemed like the summer of ice cream.  There's a fantastic ice cream place not far at all from where my dad has been in rehab.  Milk from local cows, homemade ice cream and waffle cones/dishes, generous servings.  We get kiddie dishes every time and it is plenty.
Swings where one may sit to enjoy ice cream.  There are picnic tables too.
These ice creams are actually the "small" size.  This was our first visit.  After that, it was kiddie size for us!
Yes, they offer their own soft-serve as well.
Stone wall at the ice cream place.  The Connecticut River is far below. 
So there are a few random ramblings I've been meaning to share.  Hope those of you who love random posts have enjoyed this one!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It's coming ...

(I'm glad I thought to scan this little leaf.  It soon curled up and I had to throw it away, but now I can always remember how pretty it was.)
Fall, that is!  The other morning on the way to the mailbox, I nearly stepped on this sweet little leaf.  And in many ways I am looking forward to fall, though I am trying to enjoy every moment of summer.

Summer in New England is breathtakingly beautiful.  Sparkling blue lakes beckon us. 
Squam Lake from West Rattlesnake
Kids at Wellington
Rustic bench at Wellington
Echo Lake
Lake Winnipesaukee
Newfound Lake from Little Sugarloaf
Trees are green and leafy -- so much so that visitors from the Western states often feel closed in and claustrophobic.  Skies are brilliant blue with puffy white clouds.  And flowers!  Everywhere there are flowers, growing wild or carefully planted, every color imaginable. 
Tiger Lily in our wildflower garden
At Sugar Hill Sampler in New Hampshire
Red bee balm
Unknown wildflowers on Cannon Mountain
A pansy in stone steps at Pittsburg
Backyard peonies
At The Wilds of New England
A closer look at the above
Deep orange marigold
A slightly different shade
More backyard marigolds
 Even though I am not much of a gardener and struggle to keep houseplants alive, I love flowers.  And so a New England summer, with its riotous blooms of every hue, just nourishes my soul. 

Then there are the farm stands with the glorious ripe tomatoes and incredible sweet corn.  I could go on and on.  Summer is amazing here.

But it's also HOT.  And it can be dreadfully humid.  We have had lots of that type of weather this summer.  I just don't enjoy extreme heat and humidity.  It goes without saying that we don't have air conditioning.  So -- although fall means winter will inevitably come -- I am looking forward to fall.   Even though more hot weather is in the forecast, the past couple of mornings have been cold and crisp.  Fall's coming!

Monday, August 15, 2016

More island flowers

While on Cabbage Island for the clambake a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the glorious flowers near where we exited the boat.  I wanted to get a few pictures.

However, we were in a hurry to locate a picnic table, so I told myself I would get photos before we boarded the boat for the return trip.  As it happened, we were some of the last people to board the boat and so were hurrying that time too.  I mentioned to my friend Lynne that I had wanted to get pictures of those flowers because I thought they were such a lovely welcome to the island.

Well, Lynne had the opportunity to return to Cabbage Island last Thursday, so she promised to get pictures for me.  True to her word, she did!  The photo at top, with the artfully arranged buoys nearby, is one that she took.

And here are two more.
Love the glorious combination of colors.  And the ocean is right there!
Another look at the same plantings.
Hope you have enjoyed this postscript to our coastal getaway!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Coastal getaway, part 3

I took this on Friday morning after breakfast.
As promised, here's the third installment of our "coastal getaway" posts.  This one will detail Friday morning and our trip back.  Early in the morning, Mr. T took the camera and went out to get some photos.   He just snapped whatever he found interesting.

On a railing at Harbour Towne Inn
 Then I took a few pictures of the room so I wouldn't forget.  These ground-floor rooms are decorated in a really nice coastal style that we enjoyed so much, with a touch of shabby chic here and there.  The patio colors echo those in the room for a nice coordinating effect.
I apologize that this is so blurry.  You can't tell in this photo, but the pillowcases in back are pure white, dripping with pretty lace. 
Loved this little bird lamp
Postcards on a tray.  Again, blurry, but the lace on the tray is part of it and is three-dimensional.

The sink.  Gorgeous, but again, blurry. so I will show a better pic below.

The floors in this room are done with a unique surface that looks like sand (and feels a bit like it, too).  Perfect for these rooms, and I loved the colors in the area rugs.
When breakfast was ready, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal prepared by our hostess Stefanie and her aunt Mabel. It included a fruit crumble, several different types of quiche, home fries which included sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, marvelous English muffin bread made by Aunt Mabel, and much more.  I neglected to take a picture of our meal, which we ate outdoors under the trees, surrounded by flowers.  Stefanie came out with a silver coffee pot for refills.  So elegant!

There were others eating out there, and I just didn't think to take a picture until afterward, so I did snap some of the trees and flowers.

After breakfast we headed home, but first we made a quick stop at a place that had been intriguing us from across the water: Head of the Harbor Gallery.  Ever since our previous visit here in 2014 we had been noticing this building that has the words "Art Gallery" visible from the water. Sorry the pictures are so small.  I  cropped them out of some larger ones we had taken.
The gallery is the brown building at the left with the American-flag buntings on the railing.

This year my friend Lynne (who is also an artist) suggested a quick visit to this gallery on our way out of town.  Were we glad we had stopped!  We were able to meet the owner and artist, Roger Milinowski, and we became instant admirers of his work.  Below is a screen shot of his site.  I regret that I didn't get a picture of the front of the gallery (on the street, rather than the water, side).

We will definitely return to Head of the Harbor Gallery next time we are in Boothbay Harbor. Mr. Milinowski is a talented and prolific artist and my hubby and I would love to buy one of his prints.  The hard part will be deciding which one!

We had a nice trip home and stopped at Bay Haven Lobster Pound in Cornish for a late lunch. Mr. T and I shared a fishermen's platter.  In my limited experience, many restaurants do not allow sharing of a platter, but this one is very accommodating.  One can choose two sides as well, and those servings were both plenty large for us to share.
This picture does not do the serving size justice.  The fries were on a separate platter and the coleslaw in a separate bowl. 
It was fantastic and we finished the coleslaw and fries at the restaurant, but had enough haddock, clams, scallops and shrimp to bring home for supper on another day.  Scrumptious!

We got home around five in the afternoon, thoroughly refreshed.    We had fresh air, lots of walking, fantastic food, a good night's rest and some serious pampering at breakfast, as well as some good downtime.  Even though we were gone less than thirty-six hours, we felt relaxed and ready to tackle the next things on our schedules.  We are so thankful that God gave us this good time away!