Thursday, February 24, 2011

A blast from the past......

My title has two connotations today, as this post has been sitting in the queue for quite some time, and due to lack of free time, negligence, or downright laziness, it is just now coming to light. That this is the first connotation, and the second is that it focuses on the past. How much in the past? Take a look:

"It is glorious to see such courage, in one so young!"

Yes, it is a Civil War Reenactment, and those are the gray uniforms we are rooting for, those are my brothers (literally), out there on the field. Before you ask those oft repeated questions we Confederates hear, let me first say a couple of words. First of all, I do not support the slavery of the South, and they were in the wrong on that front, but if you study history, you will find that there were many other issues that contributed to the War of Northern Aggression, and it is on those counts that I support the South. This post is too short to go into those points, and perhaps someday I will, but not today. For now, I will merely echo the words of the great general Albert Johnston, "We may be annihilated, but we cannot be conquered."

However, while my brothers are out doing the dying, shooting, and sweating, my mind is occupied with other matters. Civil war reenacting attracts many artisans, among them metal workers. So, I sit under a nice shady tent, and make things!  

Dirty work, but worth it!
Instruction, from the master craftsman.....

  The final product. 
The menfolk, ready to march into battle. Don't they look happy?
The womenfolk, ready to retrieve the wounded.
Rally 'round the flag, boys!
I cannot lead into the next photo without a bit of commentary. The most impressive element of a Civil War reenactment are the cannons. We usually have ten or so artillery pieces at an event, and when they go off, it is as if the very atmosphere is being rent in two. The sound that ten pieces make is deafening, but it is all the more amazing to ponder that at Gettysburg, there were around 600 pieces of artillery. It is truly a sobering number. 

In spite of my, now retiring, ways during the battles, I have, in the past, participated in the fight, and while out on the field, when the smell of the powder hung heavy in the air, with the shouts of the men rang through the heavy smoke of the battlefield, and the cannons discharging their volleys, I closed my eyes for a moment, and thought myself out of the safe 21st Century, and back to being a soldier, marching onto the battlefield, risking life for my home, and my family. I took the lid off of that pent up emotion, all of that fear, and for one second, just a brief flash, I let the terror take over. At that moment, I respected those men who went onto the battlefield, and even more those men who had seen battle, and yet kept fighting for something that they believed in. No man would have faced that horror, simply for the sake of keeping another race of men enslaved......


The next photo also needs a bit of explanation. Nic, being the dramatic brother that he is, had to add a bit of flair to the proceedings, so at a key moment in the battle, when all seemed lost, he decided to desert. And what did his fellow soldiers do? They promptly shot him in the back.....
Nic, the coward, starting to run.....
The coward lives! No hard feelings?
Meanwhile, back at camp. Anton doesn't like "perspiring" as he calls it, so he guards the supplies.
Mr. Lincoln seems unaware of the dangerous position he is in.....
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air! Wrong war, yes, but they still glare and burst, all the same!
 A lovelier couple was never seen, and even though you have seen this photo before, one should always take every chance to show off such a wonderful wife as this! (Yes, I am so modest.....)
We had a grand time. Even though we cannot change the past, we can still memorialize it, along with the men on both sides, who gave their lives for their homes, their beliefs, and their countries. 

Later y'all!


P.S. Tiff made her dress, and my shirt. Most comfortable shirt I have ever worn!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Let's give 'em the old pizazz! "

Pizazz. That's what I thought this dress needed. It is a simple dress, very comfortable, and it's pregnancy friendly! Yes, that's a beautiful thing right now. *smile*

I pulled this dress out of the closet and thought I'd play with some ideas. Never mind that I was attending a bridal shower for a friend (and soon to be sister-in-law!) last weekend. Never mind that I thought it would be nice to wear something "new." Never mind that her wedding colors are black and white with yellow flowers. Never mind that it was Thursday...two days to work on it. With some scissors in one hand, and yellow scraps in the other, I let the "creative juices" run away...

The original design wasn't bad, in fact, I still liked it. But I've worn it like this for a few a splash of color was needed.

Nice length, ugly sleeves.

Ahh, a "new" dress!

Neckline ruffles and flowers.

With California "winter" days being frequently warmish (I still think that 58 is a bit on the chilly side), a little sweater for some extra warmth is a nice addition. Throw on some cute and comfy ballet flats (my favorite shoe choice!), and chunky jewelery...and voila! My "new" outfit is done!

Now I'm inspired to give some other items of clothing "the old pizazz!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost... ~ G. K. Chesterton

Valentine's Day has come once more. Last year was different than this year. Last year there was a knock at the front door and a package was delivered with my name on it. Inside there was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, and but even more special, was the note that came with it. A few months later, I found myself holding a different bouquet of flowers and holding the hand of the man who had won my heart.

This year, there will be no delivery from the flower lady, and I am perfectly happy with that. Because this year, the one who sent the flowers isn't 2,600 miles away from me. I have lovely dinner plans for tonight...instead of going out, we've decided to stay home and have our own candlelit dinner.

And if you haven't decided just what to make for your special someone, I have a recipe to share! Ben was happy that I actually wrote this one down as I cooked...

Lemon Artichoke Chicken

2 Bone-in chicken breasts
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 T Olive Oil
1 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
1 Tsp Fresh Pepper
1 Tsp Oregano
2 Lemons, thinly sliced\
1/8 C Marinated Artichokes Hearts, diced

Lift skin of chicken without detaching it and stuff with half of the minced garlic. Rub chicken with oil, remaining garlic and sprinkle with spices.

Place lemon slices in a lightly greased pan. Arrange the chicken on top of the lemon and sprinkle with the artichoke hearts. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Garnish with fresh Thyme sprigs.

We paired this dish with caramelized onions and fresh sauteed green beans. Our other side dish is a new favorite here...mashed Japanese sweet potatoes. No picture of those, but the recipe is:

  • 2 Medium Japanese sweet potatoes
  • 3T Butter
  • 1/3 C coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel potatoes and boil until soft. Drain, and mash until creamy. Add all ingredients and serve immediately.

Dessert is always a highlight, and bread pudding is a hit in our house, especially when there is some leftover sourdough French bread...

4 C Sourdough bread, cut into cubes
3 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Milk
½ C Heavy Cream
1 C Sugar
4 T Butter

Cut bread into cubes and place in bread pan. Combine eggs, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until blended (this keeps the cinnamon from clumping). Whisk in the milk, cream and sugar and pour over bread. Cut butter into small pats and place on top.

Allow bread to soak for 30 minutes and use a fork to gently push the bread down every 10 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until set.

Rum Sauce

4 T Butter
¼ C Rum
1 C Powdered Sugar
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

Melt butter in saucepan. Whisk in the sugar (it will be a bit lumpy at this point). Add the rum and whisk until smooth. Add egg yolk and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and drizzle over each serving of pudding.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. ~
William Shakespeare

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

When life gives you lemons.....throw them out and buy a bottle of wine.

Tiff and I were rather excited about this past Sunday. The biggest football event of the year, and we were all ready to root for our favorite team. Imagine our disappointment when we found out that our favorite team wasn't playing! Further disappointment ensued when we realized that football is different from.....well, football.

Scotland versus another team (probably the losers down in England...), Scotland is winning, obviously!

Faced with a rather boring Sunday afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the fact that everyone else seemed less upset by the false advertising, and go on a road trip! Keep reading to see where we ended up. First stop was a fish hatchery.

Anyone have a fishing pole? Or just a net would have worked....Yum!

We didn't catch anything, so we had to make d0 with PB&J!

This looks like the windshield, but it is hard to be sure. Count the yellow lines!

Figure out where we are yet? I'll give you a hint, it is not the beach.... (Tiff made us pull over and get a picture, giving me point three seconds to make the turnout. As you can see, we made it.)

Would that not make it an "Exit Receipt"?

Another clue, it was not the desert. Nope, not Narnia either....

Yes, that is a snowbank. Walk, little dude, you will make it!

Now the yellow lines are on the ceiling!

By now you certainly should have a guess!

Pine trees, tall mountains, snow on the ground. Ringing any bells?

Ok, if you haven't gotten it by now, you never will. We made the short two hour drive up to Yosemite, with the expectation that crowds would be light, and were not foiled in our guess, it was empty! There were a couple of Asian tourists, another few Europeans, a family with two kids, and a rather tall Middle Eastern gentleman, who walked with amazing rapidity, but other than that, the amount of people was more like a Tuesday afternoon while gas prices are nearly four dollars a gallon. (Oh, wait, they nearly are.....)

The icy conditions came down from "ahead" and the steep conditions ran away, because it wasn't very steep....

Tiff wanted to see "Bridalveil Falls", she doesn't think hers was as impressive, but I beg to differ.

One downside about no fellow tourists? There are only rocks to take your pictures for you....

El Capitan, in honor of Pops, the original "Captain".

Taken from the "Swinging Bridge", which does not swing, and is rather firmly planted in the river with stone pillars. Tiffany was vexed by this obvious oversight....

Me testing out the "Swinging Bridge", just to see if I could get it to budge, and thereby make my wife happy.

Big tall mountain, which likely hides the Mines of Moria. We are planning an expedition for next trip....

We found all of the people! They appeared to be held hostage in a little glass room, and were hypnotized by the hanging screens. Attempts to rescue them were unsuccessful.

Fifteen feet outside the room with the poor hostages, you could see the Yosemite Falls, 2,300 feet of falling agua!

Another rock asked to take our picture. Never was there a better backdrop for a kiss!

We stayed until the cold drove us to seek refuge in the car, and we made our way slowly home, wishing there had been more daylight with which to wander. Buying the annual pass, I think we will be back up there a few more times this year. If anyone wants to come with us, y'all are more than welcome! Next time, I am going to try and get Tiffany to climb this with me: