Tuesday, 29 May 2012

True Beauty -vs- Photoshopped Perfection

myShakespeare is a project of World Shakespeare Project.org.   It's a space for people to post how Shakespeare's work affects their personal lives today.   This week, a beautiful post by Tom Harrison was featured.   Here's an excerpt from the link which features a short essay and his beautiful recorded musical version of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130.  Take a few minutes to read and listen!


 Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 is as relevant today as it ever was. In 2012, in a world of high-definition and glossy magazines with Photoshopped models telling us what we should be attracted to and striving for, I think it’s important to remember to look for inner beauty first and foremost.--Tom Harrison


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tuesday Folder: May 22, 2012

Still trying to catch up on blog posts!


I'm really enjoying the island in my kitchen.   I have two drawers dedicated to all my baking stuff.   I can store all my baking sheets and pans neatly beneath, along with mixing bowls.   I have about twenty mixing bowls.   And honestly, at holidays, there comes a moment in time where they are all dirty, having been used that day!


C gets stopped in stores all the time, as people ask her if she knows who Shirley Temple is since she looks just like her.   This is her new sailor outfit.   It's not going to do much for making the Shirley Temple references stop.   It's so funny that C is more tomboyish at play, but she prefers dresses.

 E is more regal (not just Mama-bias; that's the word people often use when describing her) and lady-like, but while she likes dresses, she prefers wearing jeans and pretty blouses.

Master T always has a smile on his face, it seems.   He is our resident comedian.   He's spoiled.   Rotten.   By his sister, mainly.   I walk in and hear C or T telling him, "You are just the CUTEST thing!"   He doesn't have to do much for himself with his two "little Mamas" around!   He's so affectionate and I can always count on him coming to me several times a day to say, "I love you SO much!" and giving me kisses and hugs.

That's a foldable hamper on his head.   It was part of his superhero costume.   


When we first moved here, I thought, "These people have no taste when it comes to their yards!"   I was accustomed to the lush beauty of south Louisiana yards.   Then, after a few summers, I realized how important rain and normal temperatures are to landscaping!   We also live in an area with strange soil that (skip this part if you're familiar with this rant of mine) will not allow southern classics like azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, or gardenias to grow.

Over the years, I've tried to pay attention and learn what plants grow well here.

Texas plants (or at least Texas-friendly) in English garden colors, textures

When we moved in this house the landscaping was bland in design and over-grown from a lack of care.   This year, we pulled out shrubs and started planting.   Each year, we hope to add new plants and trees.   I miss trees.   I really miss trees.   Really, really, really miss trees.

Case in point: before--overgrown holly bush to the right of the porch column

Knock-out roses, esperanza, and plumbago replaced English boxwood

Mama's iron flower cart

With holly bush gone


My friend, Stephanie, and I have tried to meet more often at the park, after school.   The kids love it and we get some nice time to visit together!   The kids and I are also trying to eat lunch at the park more often.

C on the "'tree swing"  --Why don't I take more pictures?!


It's a Texas tradition to take pictures in Texas Bluebonnets.   What a wonderful surprise to find a perfect patch for photos behind our house!   If you catch it just right, it appears the subject is in a field instead of a small patch in a neighborhood (I guess I could edit out the street lamp).


We finally sold our house.   We closed a little over a year after we closed on this house.   I am so happy that a sweet young family bought the house.   They loved it and were so excited to find it after looking for just the right situation for over two years.   That's how we felt when we bought it.   We were amazed that we could afford something so nice as our first home.   It would have hurt to see it just become an investment house rented to students, I have to admit.

 It was sad to walk through the final time.   I love this house.   It helps to know another family is making memories in our sweet house.   It also helps to know we only have to pay one mortgage, one utility bill, etc... It will also be the first time since 2005 that we have only one house to maintain and look after, since I've been responsible for taking care of my parents' homes before they passed away. 

Last Look:(   Many happy memories on this front porch, especially waiting for Daddy to come home from work.

Last play in the yard--in the rain:)


Here's my favorite hot tea right now:

When it comes to iced tea, I break a little with southern tradition (shhhh...).   I don't drink sweet tea.   I don't even really know how to make a good pitcher of sweet tea.   Janie, a friend of mine, told me she makes a simple syrup (sugar boiled down in water) for her guests so they can sweeten their tea without worrying about the sugar dissolving.    I was raised on unsweetened iced tea.   Everyone else in the family drank sweet tea; Mama always had two pitchers brewed.

I alternate between Community and Luzianne for iced tea.

I can make a good pitcher of unsweetened tea, though, and it just got better.   My friend, Leslie, told me about a person who made great tea by mixing a bag of Earl Grey tea in with the other bags.   I tried it and she was right.   I use two iced tea bags and one Earl Grey.   It's delicious.   For the kids, I also make iced tea where I mix flavored herbal tea bags in.   It gives sweetness without adding sugar.   We're looking forward to lots of sun tea this summer!

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Real Vacation

This is really playing catch-up on posting!   I found this draft amongst my Posts and realized I never published it.   In July (yes, almost a year ago), we took our children on their first real vacation.   They went on a trip that did not involve a funeral, selection of a tombstone, or cleaning out/taking care of my parents' property.   We went to Corpus Christi and they enjoyed it so much. 

Sherlock Holmes and Banoffee Pie

The BBC Sherlock series is a favorite of mine.   It is just brilliant, from the writing, to the acting, to the actual production.   Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, both Sherlock Holmes fans, decided to place Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in twenty-first century London.   Sherlock texts and uses the latest technology to help solve his cases.   All the basic elements of the original stories remain, though.   That is part of what make the series so amazing.   If you haven't watched it, please check it out on PBS.com or Netflix.  

Preview of S2 E2 of BBC SHERLOCK: The Hounds of  Baskerville

 Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman portray Holmes and Watson.   They are both great actors and  their chemistry and perfect timing add to their performances.   I'm also amazed by the hair and make-up crew.   They manage to transform Benedict Cumberbatch to the point that he's almost unrecognizable.   That's not unusual for him, though.   Over his career he's played a wide variety of characters and he wholly becomes those characters: mannerisms, physical appearance, accents.   You've probably seen him before and did not recognize him.   

The BBC SHERLOCK series, a regular series on the BBC, airs in the US months later on PBS's Masterpiece Theater.   That means an agonizing wait unless I buy the UK DVD.   After the second season aired in the UK, I started looking for information about it and I came across this video link.   It is an interview Benedict Cumberbatch did for Harper's Bazaar, in which he answered questions about his cultural life--novel that changed his life, poems he knows by heart--and the like.  When asked about guilty pleasures, the baker in me caught the name of a British pudding, or dessert: Banoffee Pie, in his answer. 

I searched and found out that Banoffe Pie was a popular English pudding created in the 1970s at The Hungry Monk pub.   There were many recipes available on the web, but I pieced together several to make one that did not use cans of sweetened condensed milk (even though that is most common).   It's a labor-intensive, time-consuming pie to make, but it's worth it.   For my fellow southerners, this pie is like banana pudding on steroids.

It begins with a shortbread crust, like that which forms the foundation for lemon bars.   Then, the filling, a homemade dulce de leche, is made.   I made mine with whole milk.   I just pulled a bar stool up to the stove and started stirring.   It takes 45 minutes to cook.   Really, it's worth it.  Side note: 80s music seems to work with this process.   My kitchen soundtrack varies according to what I'm preparing.   

This thickened filling goes into the baked shortbread shell and is then topped with sliced bananas.   Next, comes homemade whipped cream and chocolate shavings.   A nice option I'll use next time is a thin layer of melted chocolate over the shortbread crust before the filling is poured.   My family was quite happy that I discovered this pie!

Milk mixture in the beginning

Milk after, ready for addition of English vanilla

Ready for whipped cream and chocolate

Amazing Newman's Own Signature Series dark chocolate with bits of espresso beans throughout.   Sigh...

Finished slice.   Oh, my...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Aunt Nadine's 85th Birthday

Still playing catch-up with my posts...In March, we headed to Oklahoma to celebrate my Aunt Nadine's 85th birthday.   She is the oldest of Mama's siblings.   She helped raise Mama (the baby of the family); she was Mama's "Nini"--and her hero. My friend Amber went with us and did most of the driving.   Aunt Betty made the trip with us, too.   I got to see family members I haven't seen since Mama's funeral, or earlier.   I was able to visit Mama's grave for the first time since the new headstone was installed.   

Funniest moment of trip was when C spoke up, "Aunt Amber, are you awake?"   Funny because Aunt Amber was driving at the time.   Worst moment of the trip: E started yelling and I looked back to see C had the seat belt wrapped around her neck.   I made it to the back of the van (Amber said it was impressive how fast I got there) to find it was wrapped around three times and pulled taut.    The guardian angel who was holding it off her neck (didn't leave a mark!) helped me get it unwrapped, somehow.  

T and E at Marshall Pottery

Aunt Betty and Aunt Nadine
Aunt Nadine's beautiful family--kids, grandkids, great-grands (and us!)

T was my social butterfly

My cousin Linda's delicious cakes

Standing in front of the statue of the great son of Oklahoma, Will Rogers

Always have to stop at the largest McDonald's in the US in Vinita, OK.   It's built over the highway.

True wisdom from Rogers

Overlooking the highway

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