Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Split Pea Soup

I know split pea soup is old hat for most of you, but this is for a beloved friend who wanted my direction
1 bag split peas
2 boxes aseptic pkg chicken or vegetable broth OR
Any kind bouillon dissolved to make 8 cups*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tomato (or more and this is optional)
5 stalks of celery
1 onion
Spices to taste I use:
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seed
Salt to taste
Put olive oil in the bottom of a large, deep pan that has a cover. Chop onion and celery and add to oil.

Cook on medium to low heat ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t let heat get up too high. Add all spices but the salt. When celery and onions are soft (about 5 minutes longer), add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes. I also added some shredded carrots which I had on hand. Maybe a half a cup. Carrots are also optional.
Add the entire bag of split peas. Mix them in with the vegetables, oils, and spices thoroughly. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. This step infuses the split peas with the spicy flavor.

Add 4 cups of whatever broth you chose. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not keep the heat on too high.
Check the soup from time to time during cooking. Add more liquid as needed. The amount of liquid needed varies according to the crop of beans and how long they’ve been on the shelf. If the mixture becomes extremely thick, add more water. The mixture starts out watery and gets thicker. If it gets sludgy looking, you need more water. Remember you can always add more water, but it is hard to take it out when you add too much.
The picture above is just the right amount of cooking water.  After 40 minutes, your soup is basically finished. Take a taste and put in salt to taste. You can eat it as is after adding the salt. OR you can get fancy and draw off about two cups of the soup from the big pan. Let it cool thoroughly and run it through the blender. Add this back into the soup for a smoother texture if you like.

You can boost up the nutrition by adding a cup and a half of frozen corn or frozen mixed vegetables. Or not. Whatever you want. Pea soup is extremely forgiving. I like to serve it with cornbread baked in a round cake pan. Fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese are both tasty on top of split pea soup. A salad is a nice side dish. Then you have dinner.

*Now, as you know, I enjoy channeling my inner Martha Stuart. I make my own broth. I will explain that process below. You may use any type of broth you like.

I usually roast a chicken with herbs In the cavity. I pick the chicken clean of the meat I want to use for another meal. I take the entire chicken that is left, with the herbs and put it in my largest crock pot. I add an onion cut in half and a few stalks of celery. I fill the crock pot up with water to the very top. Finally, I add a capful of whatever vinegar I have on hand which will boost the calcium from the bones. I turn the crock pot on high until it is very hot. Then turn it down on low for at least 8 hours or more. I strain the broth and take the remains, put them through the blender and put it in the dog’s kibble. They really like it.

If you do not have a dog or a neighbor’s dog who jumps your fence all the time, you may discard this leftover stuff with my blessings.  Here's what it looks like when it is all finished.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Busy Friday

Whew, busy Friday!  I had an interview I needed to do for school with a senior forensics tech.  Wow, it was nothing like NCIS or CSI, but he did once use heated super glue on an entire car in a special chamber to obtain evidence.

Then off to lunch at the Officer's Club at Norfolk Navy Base.  So many Naval aviators, so little time!  We had the buffet which was extremely reasonable.  Best deal in town, I think.  I was amazed at the colorful salad bar and the fresh steamed vegetable available.  I'm going to have to go do that again!  The O Club is on the "airdale" side of the base, with all the planes and helo's taking off and landing.  Very interesting views on a crisp early spring day with bright sun and blue skies.

A lot of us bloggy girls have posted on galleries.  Daisy Cottage Kim has one with red mirrors which I love.  This is my version.  Many vistas in my house are hard to photograph because of tall ceilings and narrow aspects, like the stairwell.  So, please be patient with the pics.

My gallery is based on a few scripture references.  The first is "Now I see in a mirror dimly, but then I shall see face to face," a Biblical reference to heaven.  The second is that God has given us the "keys to the kingdom."  The third is a biblical reference to the cross which says that it is scandal to the world, but salvation to those who believe.  I hang all my cross necklaces here, too.
None of the frames, mirrors, or crosses were over $5.  That's the rule.  They were not all black, in fact, they were nearly any color you can imagine.  I spray-painted them all in the backyard for a uniform look.   It took me about two years to get this all together.  I just picked some big mirrors at first and filled in around them.  Psssst, don't tell anyone, but some of the mirrors are cheapo plastic.  I found some of the frames out for trash pick up.

Want to look at some great "galleries?"  Check out this link to a bunch of them at the amazingly fabulous Nesting Place blog:

Oscar the Grouch, the muppet who lived in a trash can on Sesame Street used to sing this song:

Oh I love trash
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Oh I love trash

That about says it all, kidlets.  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Please enjoy with me this little addition to my vintage globe collection.  Or should I say tall addition.  Naturally, it had to meet my $5 and under rule. 

Now I'm coveting a black one like this:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: Mom, More on the Blue Westinghouse Pitcher

Hi Anne:

I always loved the blue Westinghouse pitcher, as well. I loved to see it sitting in the fridge, filled with my grandmother's lemonade, every hot day during the summer. She used eight lemons, sweetened it with God-knows-how-much sugar, and garnished it with freshly picked (by me) raspberries.
The first summer we went to the Harvey's Lake house, Nana took the pitcher. She filled it, as usual, the first two days of that first summer, and cooled it in the fridge for dinner. Damn, if Carl Leighton (note from Anne:  my mother's uncle by marriage) didn't drink the entire pitcher of lemonade both nights before dinner!  From the third night on, we had water for dinner.  When he started drinking beer later on in the evening, she made the pitcher of lemonade for us kids. Oh my, she was, indeed, a great problem solver..........and after that, she never took the pitcher to the lake for the summer.

Love, Mom

So kids, there ya have it, right from Mom.  A little known fact:  For the first few years of my life, I called my mother "Miss Maureen" because she was my pre-school teacher.

Here's an old-timey picture from Harvey's Lake in Pennsylvania, which my mother refers to in her little note.  If you look carefully at this old steamer,you can just make out the name, "The Wilkes Barre."  Wilkes-Barre was my mother and great grandmother's (whom she refers to in the story) home town.  I always thought that the blue pitcher was from MY Nana, but it had actually been my great grandmother's first. 

I was named Anne after this great-grandmother.  She only lived a short time after I was born, but from everything I have heard about her wonderful ways, she was a terrific person to be named after.  We still have her little book of family recipes.  I cherish all of my family's history.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Roast Chicken

Yesterday just seemed like a roast chicken sort of day.  I'm not sure why, some days are just like that.  Amidst all the errands and appointments, I popped into the grocery store.  I picked up a lime, some fresh herbs, and the teeny little red pototoes I always associate with Spring.  I'll have herbs of my own growing in the cottage garden soon.  I had everything else for the meal at home.

I parboiled the carrots and potatoes.  I don't think they are tender enough without this step.  I also threw in some eggs into the pot to make hard boiled eggs for lunch. More on them later.  I try to boil eggs with something else that needs cooking.  This saves energy and also imparts some calcium into whatever else is in the pot.  Make sure to wash off the egg shells.

While chatting with a dear friend (yes I am a multitasker) I got dinner together.  I tossed the parboiled potatoes and carrots, along with some uncooked celery, with a small amount of olive oil and a key lime spice blend.  Think savory on the key lime, not pie. 

I rinsed out the whole chicken, one of my least favorite chores on earth.  As we say in New York, it skeeves me out.  I stuffed the cavity where you might put dressing with fresh thyme, fresh basil, four cloves of garlic, and the shells of the lime with the juice sequezed out.  I used the juice all over the outside of the chicken and then rubbed in the key lime spice.   The vegetables were arranged around the chicken. I baked the whole thing at 350 for about two hours.

Still in the same conversation with a friend, I tackled the eggs.  I had all the cooked yolks mashed up ready for mayo BUT no mayo in the fridge. I saw some chipotle ranch dressing in there, sort of languishing on the side of the fridge., I used it in place of mayo and the key lime spice I had out instead of salt and pepper. Kids, I nearly swooned at the taste, it was that good.

Here's the result of the chicken.  It was, as they say, crazy tasty.  There was plenty left over for lunch, for soup for another night, and for Joe who stopped by and had a chicken leg while he visited.

Monday, March 21, 2011


This green glass vase was one of the treasures that I picked up with some other goodies at Goodwill.  The vase goes here:

Today was a complete whirlwind.  I woke up to thunderclaps and two scared dogs trying to jump inside me, that's how close they wanted to be. 

Little Bit and Lulu, these were the culprits during the thunder storm!

I had medical appointments, picked up prescriptions, cooked a great dinner, and ignored a grad school paper which is due soon.   I was so busy I ALMOST didn't have time for STARBUCKS!  I KNOW!  How shocking is that.

Oh yes, and I also have a Civic League Executive Board Meeting and I need to write at some point today.  Other than that, I sat around all day long and ate bon bons.  Like always.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Fireplace Mantel

I'm always changing up things for the seasons.  Here's the Spring mantel:

I have this odd thing happen from time to time with the Goodwill a half mile away.  Sometimes I just get this strong feeling that I need to go there immediately.   Each time I answer that siren call, there IS something there for me!  Earlier this week it was the picture in the middle of the mantel.  The frame matched the yellow wooden bird I've had for quite years.

Here is a close up of the picture:

The dresser scarf was thrifted and set me back a whopping 55 cents  Here is a close up of the hand-worked detail:
The squarish blue pitcher came with my Grandmother Dunn's "ice box" when she bought it.  I've always loved the shape and the color.   The word Westinghouse is stamped on the bottom.

I love the yellow pitcher equally. This pitcher arrived four years ago with an arrangement of roses.  Love the vintage shape.  I doubt anyone would guess it wasn't the real McCoy or, in this case, real Fiesta.
The sentimental old picture you see to the right with the flowers is an antique.  The Scripture verse reads, "The entrance to Thy words giveth light.  Psalm 119:130.  Amen to that and happy Sunday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Slice of Life

I spent some time today in the little town of Cape Charles on the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia's Eastern Shore.  Cape Charles is about an hour's drive from my house on Route 13 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, one of the engineering marvels of the modern world.

All the trees aren't budded out quite yet, but the weather was relatively warm and sunny.   Here are some trees already decked out in new spring dresses.
I loved this firehouse which is now a restaurant:
Here's an Irish pub to make me feel at home.  Check out the celtic knot in the little round window:
Cape Charles is in a largely rural area.  It is a town of about 1200 people which grew originally because it was a stop on the passenger railroad:
Many charming Victorians, Craftsman bungalows, and good old sturdy American Four Squares dot the the little downtown area of Cape Charles.  Some are listed as vacation rentals.  Residents and vistitors enjoy the Cheasapeake Bay at the edge of town.    I was fascinated with the detail on the houses, particularly the gingerbreading and fish scale siding.  Dig the dragon flies, too.
The downtown business district is adorable:
 Don't miss Oliver!  "Please sir, may I have more?
I heard a lot of local color when I went into Watson's Hardware.
I picked up some grass seed and had a nice talk with the man who ran the hardware store. 

Then Tony from New York sat in a rocker next to Lulu and me.  That's Tony  in the pic below with the jaunty blue cap.  We talked about New York. For two years during the Deparession, Tony lived in an orphanage in Syosset, a town on Long Island, NY.  Things folks tell me like that can haunt me for days.  I wondered how he ended up there and who adopted him after two years.  His new parents were from New York City, whoever they were. There's  a book in there somewhere.  

Tony was just telling me that he'd like to go back to NY to visit as the gentleman in the orange shirt stepped out of the hardware store and pulled out some bills from his money clip.

"I'll give you this if you'll make it a one-way ticket," he said good naturedly.  "I'm sure I can get people to donate the rest."  Tony said, "He hates me.  He's a county selectman."

Rough words, but when I turned around to take the pic, they were sitting companionably on the rocking chairs reading the newspaper
I had Italian wedding soup for lunch...
At this Italian restaurant in a town not far away from Cape Charles.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Spring - The Beatles Said it Best

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever)

Did you know that St. Patrick used the abundant shamrocks of Ireland to teach Irish pagans about the Holy Trinity?  Consider the leaf, three distinct parts, yet one. 

In honor of my Irish grandparents,  Jimmy Dunn, John Robert Galvin, Esquire, Arline O'Toole, and Helen Beausang, I wish you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day.

The Prayer of St. Patrick
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me

Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
Christ shield me today
Against wounding

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

23 Wind Road

Ahhhhhh two nights in a row of sleep.  I slept until 9:10 this morning.  I'm feeling nearly human again.

As my grandmother, Helen, used to say, "I feel drunk with power!"  Helen never worried too much about not sleeping.  When we thought she looked tired and would urge her to take a nap, she would say, "I'll have plenty of time to sleep when I am six feet under!" 

Actually, I don't think that's true, because I'm sure she's enjoying hanging out with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and interfering with all of our lives by praying without ceasing.   She had a bunch of colorful sayings, like "a blind man wouldn't know the difference" and "here he comes, sled and all" if you were coming in the door laden with packages or grocery bags.  The Irish say things like that. 

I think of her around St. Patrick's Day.   I see her in my mind's eye, talking to her sister Kit at the end of the day.  Not your typical old lady, she would sit on the red-carpeted  bottom riser of the staircase and have a good chat, left elbow on her knee, leaning her head on her hand.  The receiver of the rotary phone she never replaced was in her right.  Then they both solved all the problems of the world in 10 minutes, two old ladies in slippers, one in East Hartford and the other in West.

Her house was my refuge with beatiful Victorian things that belong to me now.  The silver service on the banner of this blog was hers.  When I am very troubled, I go back to 23 Wind Road alone inside my mind and walk through those rooms.  Every room is imprinted exactly as it was when I was a child.  I know every creaky board on the floor.  In real life, I will lie down on her bed with the pineapple carving.

Sometimes, I dream about 23 Wind Road.  Suddenly, she will walk up the basement stairs with some laundry in a blue basket as if she had never been gone at all.

When my Dad first came here to visit, he looked around and said, "I love this house.  I feel so at home here.  You've created Wind Road all over again!  It was the best compliment I could ever have.

The pic above is one painted of 23 Wind Road.  My trees out front look just the same right now at the tree on the right.  My bedroom was at the right second hand window.  I still miss it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lovely Tuesday

I've been on a "lack of sleep" jag since last Friday.  Ohhhhh, how I hate it.  There was nothing specifically wrong, but I was getting about three hours a night.  In a new and dismaying development, I can't seem to nap either.  ICK.  In graduate school, I had one problematic team member who was so bad that it actually would have been easier to do the work without her.  She was reassigned to another team after we finished the project yesterday.  At least we will not have to work with her on the next one.  Finally, I slept last night!

I had lunch out this afternoon, picked up some groceries, and did some thrift store shopping. I had read someone's blog (I forget whose) that said that Tuesdays are the most fruitful day for thrift stores.  The idea is that lots of donations come in from folks over the weekend.  By Tuesday, everything has been processed and shelved.  I have found this to be just right at my local haunts.  I picked up two wonderful tea pots, a hobnail milk glass mirror (!), a really upscale outdoor birdhouse that I'll use indoors, and a green glass vase for the dining room collection.  I'll get some pics up this week.

Enjoy the pear blossoms from the tree in my front yard.  I think they are perfectly perfect in lacey exquisiteness.  I would rather have the blossoms than the pears!  The beautiful ironstore pitcher was a birthday present from my thrift store junkie friend, Nancy.  It is one of the things I'd grab as I was running from the house in a tsunami.

So even though today was cloudy in Portsmouth, Virginia, it was still a lovely day because my mind started working again.  Never mind milk, does a body good!

Seize the day!