Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back over my Schoulder ...

No wordless Wednesday from me today, but a very wordy one.

I got up early to write this, I wanted a clear head and enough time to write .
The rest of the day is going to be very busy, and writing does not always come easy to me.
The main reason I joined 365 was to create an incentive for myself to improve my English.

Today the lap around the sun is complete.
I have blogged this entire year, that's twelve months, 52 weeks, 365 days (plus one second!)
Each. and. every. day.

When this post is published later today I get to cross the 365 finish line.
I'm very proud to be one of the few who took the challenge and saw it through.
Nothing unexpected has happened in my life that would have prevented me from seeing it through, that too is something I am grateful for.
A lot can happen in a year, I've read the stories on other people's blogs, so ...

It seemed so far off one year ago.
But looking back it is as if this adventure started only yesterday.
Okay, two months ago sounds more likely.
What I never would have imagined is what I got out of it.

To me, blogging is writing a letter to a friend each day.
But I had no idea I would get so much friendship, so many friends.
There are the ones who have been visiting me from the very beginning,
the ones I met somewhere along the line who decided to stick with me,
and the new friends I met just recently.
Thank you all. I'm grateful for your friendship.
Thanks for visiting here, and for your kind comments.
Blogging would not be the same for me without the love and the comments.

Before this post gets any more boring than this,
what I want to add to this are my best wishes for the New Year.
May the New Year bring you good health and happiness.
And may many of your hopes and dreams for the new year come true for you.
I found this old Celtic blessing that says it far better than I can ...

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life's passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ruby Tuesday How to make Mushroom Potatoes

I know.
These are not the most exciting rubies I have ever published.
I posted a really great one last Thursday.
Click here if you haven't seen that one yet, I'm rather proud of it.

But if you're looking for a nice way to serve something as common
as a potato I thought this post might be useful!
It's really not all that hard to do, but it looks great on a festive dinner plate.
Use small potatoes, or cut the bigger ones in half.

The best way to cook them is to steam them, and toss them in some butter afterwards.

Visit other Ruby Tuesday players here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Macro Monday, Macro Fun in the Kitchen ...

Even when I am cooking, my camera is always within reach.
So while I was busy preparing our Christmas meal,
I had some time left to do some macro experiments in the kitchen!
Macro? Well yeah, ... close ups, right?
Most of the participants are better equipped than I am,
but I just happen to like that kind of photography a lot,
and my Canon S5IS does not really let me down either!
Besides, I love this meme!

That last one is my favourite. Click on it to enlarge it .
And click on the logo or here to see more Macro Monday pictures.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weekly Winners, It's all about Christmas this Week ...

This week's favourite pictures are all about Christmas of course.
I was very late to put up my tree, I finally got around to it last Sunday!

Murphy was here ...

Fun with the camera, Picasso style.
Julie taught me this little trick.
She calls it camera tossing, but there's really no tossing involved!
Click on the link and let her tell you how to do this!

My Boyds Bears nativity scene.

Everything was there, we were all ready for it.
But first ....

a glass of champagne ...
Lilacspecs asked me about the food, so I'll tell you what we had...

Cannelloni of swordfish and guacamole in the little glass, both with North Sea shrimps.

Smoked eel with leeks and pink pepper and salmon tartare.

Carpaccio of scallops with marinated fennel and Salicornia with a rosemary and fig mustard dressing. ( Salicornia is also known as pickleweed, march samphire or glasswort, I did a little bit of research!)

Salsify soup with croutons with walnut pesto.

I'll probably get executed over this, but this is foie gras.
With gingerbread and baked apples, and the spoon contains black pasta, tiny cubes of foie gras and Parma ham, perfumed with some truffle oil.

Main course was a poussin stuffed like a turkey, with morels.
The pink mushrooms on the right side are baby potatoes.
I'll show you how to do this in next Tuesday's Ruby Tuesday, okay?

Oh and dessert?
We forgot dessert!

To see more Weekly Winners, click on the banners
or the links to visit Lotus, AKA Sarcastic Mom.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Photo Hunt ' Squeaky"

This week's theme for Photo Hunt is "squeaky".
Now, you might know I like words, specifically cute ones like this one.
And what I love about this word is that it is used in many different ways,
some of them quite amusing.
Lots of different things can make squeaky sounds.
Anything from mice to hamsters, brakes on a car or wagon wheels, floors and carpets...
I should not forget to mention the squeaky beds, rusty hinges on old doors ....
and most annoyingly ... squeaky shoes, ewww!
So, it's really not too hard for me to imagine the squeaky sound of this gate.

But it also made me remember the "bubble and squeak" we had for lunch in London this summer.
There it is in the next picture, that round vegetable cake hidden underneath the lamb.
I had heard of that dish through BBC cooking programmes but I had never eaten it before I ordered it. It turned out to be very tasty.
The British often refer to it as "bubble" but I love the squeaky bit in the name of the dish!
It's made with left over vegetables and meat, mashed with potatoes.
The vegetables are being boiled, which accounts for the " bubble".
While "squeak" refers to the sizzling sound of this mash meeting the hot butter in the frying pan.
Squeaky vegetables, don't you just love the thought?

I managed to find yet another use for this word which is this:
squeak through/by To manage barely to pass, win, or survive: squeaked through the test; squeaks by on a limited income. This also makes sense, serving left over vegetables would manage you to squeak by on a limited budget, that's very true!

Oh, and I like this one by the American humorist Josh Billings (1818-1885)
from his poem, "The Kicker":
"I hate to be a kicker [complainer], I always long for peace,
But the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease."

Don't you just love this? I do!

Go here to see other Photo Hunt pictures

Friday, December 26, 2008

Home for Christmas

Christmas is family ...
Well ... not for us, not this year anyway. Christmas was just the two of us this year.
We will be celebrating and exchange gifts in January when my family gets together at my daughter's house. I'm looking forward to this, I am.

Up until now, I have never had the chance to enjoy a relaxed Christmas.
The previous years when I still had my own shop - or later when I worked in one - the last couple of days before Christmas were always extremely busy.
By the time I finished working and got home, I was exhausted.
Too tired to bother about spending much time shopping for food, let alone cook it.
This year, for the first time in many, I was not part of the rat race, uh-uh!
I observed the folly from my kitchen window.
The congested parking lot and crowded shops full of nervous people trying to finish their last minute shopping ...
This time around, I was merely a spectator and I loved every minute of it!
By doing my grocery shopping early Tuesday morning I got first pick and I was out of there before the crowds arrived. No shopping list for me, I love to just stroll around the supermarket and choose my ingredients, inventing recipes and making up the menu as I go along.

Going through the same department three times if I have to, just to find the right things.
I take pleasure in shopping that way. It drives my husband crazy, so I went alone and took my time. No stress at all. In fact, this is real bliss for a foodie like me!

Once I got home, I put the goodies on the kitchen counter, took a note pad and sat down to write some recipes and ideas that had crossed my mind when I was doing my shopping.

Stuffing the fridge with all these delicacies gave me the most comforting feeling.
Everything I would need to survive the next three days was there. Wonderful...

And then I locked myself in the kitchen for the next two days making up all kinds of little dishes with the ingredients I had bought. How I love to do that! I think it's fun to use the same ingredient in a different way the next day. And I absolutely adore making pretty presentations on the plate.
I had fun. Can you tell?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

When Sepia Scenes meets Ruby Tuesday

When Sepia Scenes meets Ruby Tuesday...
From the very beginning I have had fun with both photo meme's.
What I love the most is how Mary points out new photo shop techniques each week.
By doing so, she challenges us to try new things.
Now, some time ago Robin had a unique sepia of a twig with a drop of water in full colour
on her blog.
That inspired and intrigued me, and this morning I spent a couple of hours (!) trying to figure out how to get that kind of effect.

There, I think I did it...
You can click on it to enlarge it for better detail.
Now how did I do that?

I used Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo x12.
I copied the original picture, and worked on the copy.
I used the "time machine" option to get the sepia effect.
And then removed the sepia with the background eraser tool which made the reds appear again.
I saved the image and cropped it a little with Picture manager.
And then I used Photo Scape to frame and sign it.

Click here to see more Sepia Scenes pictures.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm a Poor Boy too ...

Click on the banner or on this link for
more Wordless Wednesday participants.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas ...

Discover Stevie Wonder!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ruby Tuesday Dear Santa

Oh Oh Yea
Dear Santa Dear Santa
Santa please don't forget me tonight
I've been acting real good doing all that I should
That I should have done right
Dear Santa Dear Santa
Could you bring your joy to the world
Don't leave out any place put a smile on the face of every little boy & girl

Santa I know you'll read every word
So I'm writing this letter to you
My Christmas wish is for peace on earth
I know you can make it come true

Dear Santa Dear Santa
Spread some happiness from up above
as you sore through the sky
With your Reindeer tha fly
Filling every little heart with love

Santa I know that your on your way
Better hurry up it's Christmas Eve
Tomorrow I'll wake to a magical day
When everybody believes

Dear Santa Dear Santa
I can already feel the good cheer
There' s a change in the air lots of hope everywhere
That's way Christmas is my favourite time of the year

Thank You Santa Thank You Santa
Thank You Santa Thank You Santa
There' s just one more thing that I want to do
I want to say merry Christmas dear Santa to you
All the joy you bring All you do
There's just one more thing that I want to do
I want to say merry Christmas dear Santa to you
All the joy you bring All you do

(Dear Santa by the Beu Sisters)

Visit the other Ruby Tuesday players at Work of the poet

Monday, December 22, 2008

Macro Monday Almost Christmas

This is part of my Boyds Bears nativity scene.
Boyds Bears are perfect for macro photography because of their cute little details.

I took dozens of pictures yesterday and this morning.
And I selected the best ones for this edition of Macro Monday.
You can click to enlarge the next three pictures.

To see more macro pictures, visit Lisa's Chaos.