Sunday Chat

It seems like it has been forever since we had a nice Sunday chat, so settle in for a long post today. I got more done on the Safelight quilts, and delivered three of them to the guild meeting this past week. I’ll show you the finish on the rainbow quilt this week. Early mornings have been chilly, and I like the quiet of that time of day. Just after dawn on this day, the fog was settled in the valleys between the ridges. I took a moment to just breathe and enjoy the scene, while my new coffee maker was rumbling like a sleeping dragon making a pot of the industrial grade jet fuel I drink in the mornings.

I barely got the camera awake in time to catch this lovely in the meadow, before she scampered into the woods.

Looking down, someone was waiting for a peanut butter sandwich. I wasn’t sure who it was until after I got the photo in the computer. See the little nip out of his left ear? That is the one I call Jack. Thanks to sharp eyed reader, Julie, I now have a way to identify him.

But, he grabbed his treat and scurried over to the retaining wall where I usually identify Oliver as sitting! So now I really don’t know if this is Oliver all along, and he’s been going to different spots to get more food. Later in the week, I fed three squirrels at one time, so I know there are at least three getting a tidbit now and then. But is the ear-nipped one Oliver or Jack? I don’t really know, so I’ll continue to call him Jack, and the one without the nip Oliver.

On the feeder, the colder days brought many to the sunflower seed bounty.

Then, it snowed. We didn’t get a lot, just a couple of inches and it was gone later that day, but it was beautiful while it lasted. Goldfinches and a titmouse share the feeder before and after the snow.

A Carolina Wren takes advantage of a new suet cake.

The snow on a live poinsettia was pretty. The plant was a gift from a friend, and I got several photos of it with the snow. One may end up as an entry in next year’s Mountain State Fair in the floral category. Pristine snow on those red bracts are interesting, something a bit different than just a photo of a flower.

Ice crystals and light snow on the branches of the redbud and other trees made a magical scene. Cold days made for good reading and sewing time, and called for a bit of comfort food.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve immersed myself in a couple of books, snuggled in a quilt by the fire some evenings and most mornings. Reviews below, and I’ve linked them to Amazon (affiliate links) if you wish to read the plot synopses, or order a copy.

Love, Death & Rare Books by Robert Hellenga – I had mixed feelings on this book, heavy on philosophy and unanswered questions. Although the passages on rare books, the trade in them, and the reasons for their value wrapped in history were very interesting, the balance of the book dealt with an excruciatingly slow advancement of the story. The character of Gabe was over developed, with long stream-of-thought passages that only serve to show the reader his confusion. The other characters in the book were all flat, cardboard cutouts only there to ask more questions. Normally I like character study books, but this one bored me so bad that the last 50 pages I just skimmed to get it done. Overall, OK, but not my cup of tea.

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey – An engrossing historical novel set in 1722 that grabs you from the first chapter with a scene right out of a horror film. A man arrives at an abandoned country home in search of his sister only to find the house empty, a moldering and rotten feast still laid on the dining table, blood in the bedroom and a priceless ruby. From there, the novel goes back to fill in the tale, from the point of view of the undercook in the kitchen, Biddy, taken by her mistress on a long trip with secrets and lies as their companions. Plots are underway by the lady’s maid Jesmire, and the butler Mr Pars, with Biddy being the innocent and easily duped pawn in their plans. But things go awry, and Biddy has to take charge before she is blamed for events she didn’t cause, and get away before the truth comes out, as no one will believe her. Difficult to put down, it is an enjoyable read. If you like historical fiction like this and you have Netflix, see The Cook of Castemar also set in the early 1700s. It was quite good, and written from the cook’s point of view as well.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci – Being a foodie, this is one of the most delightful memoirs I’ve ever read. Stanley Tucci has acted in some great movies like Julie and Julia, Shall We Dance, Big Night, Devil Wears Prada, Hunger Games and I really enjoyed his CNN documentary Searching For Italy. His ancestors are from Calabria in Italy, and he has a passion for the country and its food. The book is a feast for the mind, with family recipes included, lovely detailed word pictures of the Amalfi coast and the dishes discovered on location during filming shoots. Mouth watering descriptions of wonderful restaurant meals and fabulous places to eat are fun to read. He talks frankly of the difficulty with the lockdown from covid and its effect on the restaurant industry. He discloses in detail the terrifying diagnosis of mouth cancer, and all that implied to a food obsessed man, along with the horrors of treatment, to the gratitude of his cure. Highly recommend!

I got my copy of the new cookbook Milk Street Vegetables, and it is just full of great ideas! You can see all my little yellow sticky notes already stuck to pages with recipes I want to try. It has given me inspiration to buy and cook vegetables that I like but rarely cook, like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy and artichoke hearts. The great thing about this book is the way it is organized. The chapters are arranged according to the course (salads, soups, sides, etc), but there is also a second index in the front of the book by vegetable, so you can see quickly what you can do with the vegetable you wish to serve. I started with a recipe for charred Brussels sprouts (on page 174), buying some fresh ones. I cut them in half to cook. The recipe says to use a cast iron pan, but since I have a glass top stove, I am afraid of scratching the surface with that kind of pan. So, I put them in a pan to roast in the oven. My Sweet Babboo gave me some Lemon Infused Olive Oil in my Christmas stocking, and that was the perfect oil to use here.

I roasted them for about 20 minutes, then turned them cut side up and put them under the broiler to char. Yum! I’ll do these again.

Lastly, this week we saw a movie that I highly recommend everyone go see. It is American Underdog, and is the story of St Louis Ram’s quarterback Kurt Warner’s life. For a football fan, this was a perfect choice for an escape for a couple of hours. But, it isn’t a football movie as such. It is an uplifting story of a man’s faith and perseverance to attain his goals, through some trying times and difficulties, ultimately gaining his dream. Appropriate for every age audience, no foul language, no adult situations and an immensely positive message for everyone. See it, take your family. The theater was practically empty so social distance was easy. We need more movies of this caliber. See the trailer on Amazon Prime Video.

What have you been up to this week?

28 thoughts on “Sunday Chat

  1. karenfae

    I have a glass top stove and use a variety of pans and yes it has gotten a little scratched up but it still works! I like seeing your Brussels sprouts recipe – I wish hubby would eat them too – just me so only make it for me which at times seems a waste of time! I was going to watch the Stanley Tucci special and then totally missed it. I haven’t had as many birds come to my feeders this winter so far as they normally do and I have a lot of feed out – the finches have barely touched the hanging bag of seed that I put out last week.

    1. Charleen DiSante

      We (in central Harnett County) havehadway fewer birds at our feeder this Fall. I’ve heard a fw others comment the same.

  2. Charleen DiSante

    Thanks to you and other bloggers, I got the ‘bug’ to organize my sewing room. I took an afternoon to chart my UFOs…3 pages of 34 items each later and I know there are more lurking. I pulled one out to fiish. LOL, it’s still a UFO but further on. Then yesterday I sorted my extra tools drawers. It had not been done since after we had a fire Dec 2018. Everything got tossed back into the 4 drawers in May 2019. Thankfully, no damages to hubby, dog, or my ‘inner sanctum’ I have a lot to be thankful for.
    Keep on writing, we’re out here reading

  3. Busy week for me between “train club” weekends.Have to get my tree undecorated, unlit and disassembled this week, pack for my next cruise, and meet the lady that is taking over my “Second Time Around” committee! Love having your list of books to refer to when downloading audio books for travel! The poinsettia photo will be a winner I think!

    1. Good Morning
      I’m always interested in your book recommendations. I have a huge pile of books to read this year and will add more to the list! We have had several chickadees visiting our yard as well as blue jays, cardinals, squirrels and rabbits. I even saw some robins the other day…they forgot to go south for the winter!

  4. Hi Carole! I loved your blog piece today. These morning chats are wonderful…I’m reading it while drinking my own version of morning coffee! I had a busy week. First, I’m working on something I rarely do…making a wall quilt on commission. I don’t like to sew for money, but it is for a very special friend, so I’ve made an exception. Second, we finally had our family Christmas yesterday. Due to scheduling conflicts, we had to put it off until then. We prepped for three days, had a wonderful day yesterday, and today we will just relax and watch football all day. Then, Monday we will finally take down our Christmas decorations (we are the last on our block to do so), and Tuesday it is back to work on the wall quilt. I’ve seen the trailers on TV for the Kurt Warner movie. I hope to be able to see it, if not in the theater, then on video. Have a good week, Carole!

  5. Good morning, Carole. I enjoyed your Sunday chat. Historical fiction has been my mainstay for the past few years. I fell in that rabbit hole and can’t get out. Thanks for the movie recommendation, we no longer go to movies because of the content. This one sounds really good. Happy Sunday!

  6. Thank you for these lovely photos, Carole, just what the doctor ordered this morning! I am going to look for the historical fiction book, that sounds quite different and intriguing. I am just going to keep myself very busy this week, have some floors to scrub and deep vacuuming on the cleaning side, since I missed my New Years cleaning when I had a winter flu bug last week. I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon hand quilting, but now need to give my fingers a break for a day, so I will try to finish the potholders I started and finally get back to piecing the 2 red and white blocks I cut out before Christmas.

  7. Rita C.

    Nice chat to catch up with you, Carole. We got 10″ of snow Friday morning, and today it’s raining. The sound of snow falling off the roof in big sheets was a wakeup call at 5am, and continues now. No industrial coffee needed to jumpstart the heart!

  8. MaureenHP

    Your morning photo is lovely; that’s a beautiful voice time of day. Thanks for recommending “American Underdog.” We do need more uplifting stories like Kurt’s.

  9. Linda B

    The birds are always so fun to see. There was a Nextdoor post this morning showing pictures of bluebirds at the heated waterer and the meal worm bowl. Love seeing them especially. I suppose the snow/cold temp did your poinsettia in, right? They are tropical aren’t they? Glad you found some interesting books. I have been re-reading favorites, and last week found that our library had e-audio books by Mary Stewart on the Arthurian legend…I bet I read those 40 years ago. So enjoying the audiobooks and the narrator is very good. Now would like to find other audiobooks of her novels. We have a couple more days of coldish weather…not like last week though. Then another warm up. I am ready! Look forward to seeing your rainbow quilt!

  10. I always enjoy your photos – the great scenery and so many birds! The brussel sprouts recipe sounds yummy. I haven’t tried making them recently. You know I always look forward to your book review posts – the Stanley Tucci one sounds like something I’d enjoy. I’m reading The Bookshop of Yesterdays, which I may have gotten from one of your posts. It’s a good one!

  11. Joan Sheppard

    Still making baby quilts! Just found out I missed counted and need 2 more! Tried to take the dog for a walk and slide 10 feet on the sidewalk. Incline is less than 5° but that was enough. Yes the Tucci book sounds very good. Thanks for all the wildlife pics.

  12. Julie

    I’m way late today, it’s a Sunday afternoon chat for me. There was a hawk patrolling my feeder (affectionately called the Dove Bar by my DH) this morning, so the birds & squirrels were hiding. Some brave goldfinches in their olive winter coats ventured out & are keeping me company now. Your icy photos are so pretty, trees are beautiful sparkling like crystal, as long as it’s just a touch of ice. I have an induction stove with a glass top, the directions said not to use cast iron. I think the weight of the pans is a factor in addition to scratching the surface. Your solution seems perfect & the Brussel sprouts look delicious! Mouthwatering for those who enjoy them (me!). I finished quilting a table topper birthday present yesterday, first item on my ‘fabric out’ list. I hope we don’t get too much ice tonight so I can mail it tomorrow.

  13. Sprouts are a favorite veggie for us. I love lemon, but hubby doesn’t; so probably won’t be trying those…but oh they sure look good. I do them completely in the oven, with oil and spices and like them just a bit crisp on the outside.

  14. Barbara

    You are so right about your glass topped stove. I have one that I have been very careful with. My daughter has the same one and has used cast iron skillets, not smooth bottom pans, and all sorts of pots. Hers is scratched and holds burned on messes that are impossible to clean. Granted she has a family of four to feed and I don’t, but I think she needs a stove that can take the kind of pots & pans she uses. Kurt Warner is from Iowa, as you know, and has done so much good so far in his life and we are very proud of him. I very much enjoy all you share with us! I’m sorry for your tragic loss in your family and the betrayal of trust by who you thought was a friend. We are deep into winter here so I’m getting more sewing, cross stitching and reading done. I’m not going out and about much at all except to do drive up for grocery pick up. Take care and stay safe.

  15. Joan G

    I truly enjoy your blog and love seeing your photos and reading about your day(s). Your book recommendations are also a favorite, so thank you for those. I am slowly working on taking down Christmas decorations, in between learning how to use my new toy, a small longarm machine. My hope for you is that your heart is healing.

  16. lois92346

    Thank you for sharing your lovely photos of nature. I also enjoyed your book reviews and recommendations. I checked out the Milk Street series of cookbooks on Amazon (and eBay) but I’m afraid they’re too expensive for my budget. Please continue to post photos of your neighboring birds and squirrels. They lift my spirits.

  17. Bobbie Woodruff

    Hi Carole , I have a glass top stove to and I use my cast iron all the time. I pick it up and down. I don’t turn it around on the eyes. I won that book on your blog. It does have some great recipes in it. My hubby is mostly meat and potatoes guy. I love greens, or cabbage just about any green vegetables. So I eat more vegetables than he does but that’s ok leaves enough for the next day for me.
    We had about 18 inches of snow it kept me busy with feeding the birds, wild rabbits and squirrels.
    Our neighbors also have 2 horses we give apples and carrots to everyday. They meet us at the fence.
    My sewing room is a she shed out side in my back yard the snow was to deep and the steps slick I decided not to chance it. I’m almost 77 and my old bones sure don’t need any breaks. Now that it’s gone I will sew again.
    Hubby went down behind our motor home buggered up his knee. That makes his 3 rd fall since the end of October. He is. 85 but being a man he goes stupid things that does no good to tell him he shouldn’t do. We had some limbs come down in the snow he will be out cutting up in the next couple of days. I just let him do his thing. I do tell him if he breaks something I’m putting him in a nursing home let them deal with him. 😂. He knows I won’t we have been married almost 51 years. It’s till the end for us. Our kids aren’t close either. One in Alaska, one in Seattle about 175 miles and one about 150. So they can’t run down every day either. We enjoy still being independent in our home. We have Nash Metropolitans and are still active in the club. Went to Dubuque,Iowa last summer for the National event. It will be in Branson. Missouri in 2023 so it’s on our list. There are 2 regional meets this summer one in BC, Canada and one in Bend, Oregon we are going to both. You got to keep going to keep going.
    Lord I hope people don’t read this and think I’m a crazy woman 😂😂
    Have a great week in N.C. Our forecast is the usual rain.

  18. I love that you’ve named your squirrels and give them peanut butter treats! I hope to get back to reading alot now that the holidays are over. Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables, have fun cooking with your new book!

  19. What a great catch-up! I love your photos of the squirrels and that splendid deer!

    Stanley Tucci. I adore him. This book is on my list. There is something so “real” about him, with such a passion for food. The first film I saw him in was “Big Night” and if you can find it, watch. It’s a gem and you will want to make Italian food immediately after watching! I liked “Love, Death…” maybe more than you did, but it was definitely not a fave fiction piece. I agree — Gabe was overdeveloped and some of the other characters less so. But I really did learn a lot about the antiquarian books, which interest me greatly and the setting in Michigan (partly) was one to which I could relate. Still… it’s a very long book. A good editor would have helped!

  20. liz brown

    I am glad you are in a better frame of mind. Reading & good food does it for me. I like the photo of the Poinsetta. Like the blog, makes me laugh at the squirrels. Liz

  21. Love the poinsettia photo, we have one here in flower, it was a bit wilted the other day after 34 deg C, but good now. I also cook brussel sprouts, slice into about a quarter of an inch, sprinkle with oil, mix in some finely sliced bacon and roast in the oven, sprinkle with apple cider vinegar before eating, tastes really good!!

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