Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin muffins for the first day of Autumn...


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 400ยบ. Combine all dry ingredients. Beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until smooth. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top for a delicious muffin crunch. Bake in muffin tins for 16-20 minutes.

post signature

Thursday, September 22, 2011

when autumn leaves blow through my window...


The entire blogosphere is talking about the arrival of Fall and pumpkin things and apple desserts . . . and it happens to be 102 degrees in Las Vegas today. Whatever. This is the only bone I have to pick with this city I call home. If not for the Autumn season and everything that comes along with it I would have no beef with living in the desert. I love the dry heat and I've made peace with what holidays feel like living here . . . my holiday cues are no longer triggered by cooler temperatures. I have adapted. That is until I anticipate that first day of autumn (tomorrow). Then I want foliage. And cooler temperatures. Apple cider and EVERYTHING pumpkin. I crave all things that scream toasty warmth like those herbs (you know the ones), roasted things and baked goodies made with nutmeg and cinnamon. Right this very second I am sighing.

These things help:

Caramel Apples. Do it. You won't regret it.

Apple Crisp. Bridie and I are on the same page when it comes to this. Nana's recipe.

Apple Cake. Thank you, Anna Mason. Are you still alive?

Pumpkin Cheesecake dangerously close to the one at Cheesecake Factory.

Butternut Squash Soup. 'Nuff said.

My grandmother's Chili Sauce. It has no resemblance to anything 'chili' . . . it's like a relish. The way this makes my house smell is a Fall memory.

Weight Watchers Crustless Pumpkin Pie. 1 point for 1/4 of the pie. Small scoop of Fat Free Cool Whip? Yes, please.

Just Chicken Pie. Perhaps we could re-name this little gem of a recipe and just call it "Dave's Nemesis". It is his source of ruin.

post signature

Friday, September 16, 2011

time tricks...

Was I really here just one week ago? This deserted Crystal Cove beach was the best.
 

The Blue Cottage at Manzanita Cottages in Laguna Beach.
 

Floor to ceiling screens . . . can you peek into the tiny turquoise and red kitchen?
 

After a decade the wishing well is finally fully functional . . . well, it has water in it and it bubbles.
 

My favorite Laguna word? Lush...
 

The peek out our front door twoard the yellow cottage.
 

My wish? To go back...
 

post signature

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday musings...

Arrrggghh...I've played 68 games of Scrabble against the computer and won 67. The stats tell me I've won 98 percent of the matches, but now my competitive nature just wants to see 99 percent. I've just figured out I need to play 32 more games to see that number (math isn't my forte) ...and that's if I happen to win all 32 games. Not likely. I'm driving myself crazy - crazier than I already am.

Today is Thursday, which means we are winding down. Sigh...

If I'm lucky enough to be alive in 2012 I will come back to this place that I love, the place that causes me to reflect, feel gratitude and recharge. I don't think about lawyers committing malpractice when I'm here, no six million dollar judgments nor new rule changes about computation of time. I don't think about picking up dry cleaning or about how my house needs to be painted. What I do think about is being better, that lesson I'm teaching and what I want to communicate...the women in my Ward who spontaneously pop into my head at random moments, my family and how I wish we could be together more...and new babies joining us.

No segue.

Last night we went to Cafe Zoolu. The swordfish was superb. I laughed when I went back to that post I just linked to ... my last sentence actually says, "I feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle life, and more." The very next afternoon I landed in my Bishop's office and life changed dramatically. I can't believe my narrow minded New Englander persona is sharing this, but change is good. I mean it.

Today was memorable. A good day. We felt adventurous and drove a few miles up the road and went to a tiny beach just west of Pacific Coast Highway. Very very close to Crystal Cove, but deserted and without the hippie vibe. I read and dozed and read some more. Then I did something very out of character and went in the water. The surf is rough right now and I was close to being knocked over more than once. I proclaimed I was going to Costa Azul and renting a wetsuit for my last full day at the beach tomorrow. It was going to be a boogie boarding day. Later a paddle boarding man approached us asking if a young girl in the water belonged with us. When he found her father (or grandfather) he said, "I just saw a shark longer than my paddle." So, well, my plans have changed.

post signature

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Catcher in the Rye, dolphins and concentration "issues"

The first time I ever blogged (2005)was from the chair I'm sitting in right his very second. Right here in the Blue Cottage at Manzanita. It makes perfect sense to me because the ocean causes me to reflect.

It was triple digits in Los Angeles today and low 90's on the beach. Perhaps this is the warmest beach day I've ever felt here in Laguna. Despite the warm temperatures the beach was extraordinarily quiet. And lovely. Those dolphins appeared to agree.

My spouse put on the wetsuit and went out in the rough surf while I sat back and revisited the life of Holden Caufield.

Eventually, just like always, I look up from my book and out to the ocean . . . and my mind starts to wander. The ocean sweeps my thoughts away and soon I find myself in a place I never thought I would be. Simply by glancing up.

I remembered reading a scripture last week with a warning about rationalizing sin. It was complete with examples of that rationalizing - I sat up and really took notice. Soon I was thinking about pop culture and the vocabulary of a language and how it's acceptable to say, "I have issues", or "they have issues" or "she has an issue with her." And that's when I thought . . . is that an excuse? It is rationalizing? Maybe it's simpler to claim "issues" (and easier) than admitting a hard heart? I couldn't stop there. I kept thinking about President Benson's talk, Beware of Pride. Does the lexicon of the expression "issues" make us feel better about that enmity President Benson talks about? Is it that rationalizing we know so well, more of that "it isn't my fault" explanation? And if it is, isn't it that enmity toward God President Benson talks about - is that what's really going on? Are we really saying our way is better . . . that we're entitled to feel hostility (or whatever we are talking about) because of "issues". That's when I decided to "ctrl-alt-delete" the expression "issues" from not just my vocabulary, but my psyche. Because a day at the beach has me pretty convinced it's a very thinly veiled rationalization of sin.

Too much, I'm certain of it. How about giving me the benefit of the doubt? I had to get it out there.

And for just a little bit of levity, later I thought about the Prius and how I laugh when I see one. I want to blame Michael Scott and The Office for that ("The Prius is silent if he keeps it under 5 miles per hour".) Then I realized I am rationalizing my judging.

post signature

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What if this is the last time I ever come here?


The last couple of days haven't been beach days. That didn't stop us from going to the beach . . . but the clouds were everywhere. The surf has been extra rough and with a late high tide and those cloudy skies people went home. Except for us. We stayed. Later we took a drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Newport Beach, making our standard stops along the way. Then to Balboa Island to Ho Sum Bistro, my new beach culinary obsession. We walked and popped into a few resale boutiques, then down to the marina area. Then we talked about why we like Laguna best...

Now it's the day after Labor Day and everyone is gone. There is no hustle here and the sun is shining brightly, so we are headed to the beach with our books and our backpack chairs.

Read Long Drive Home. Later we can talk about it. I haven't stopped thinking about it. I'm 80 pages into a David Baldacci book - I've made the decision to walk away. I'm about to revisit The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace. I threw in a little Joyce Maynard in (sort of) keeping with the theme.

No segue...

One of the things I love about Manzanita . . .if I wake up in the middle of the night and lay still . . . the ocean lulls me back to sleep. We are four blocks away, but without traffic you can hear the sea. I see the wisdom in those sleep machines playing ocean sounds.

No segue...

Last night (in my dream) I saw the computer fighting against me to win Scrabble. In my dream I wasn't putting a word down . . . the computer was scrambling to put down letters as fast as it possibly could. I woke up feeling a little smug. I don't recommend that...

post signature