Is it too early for a countdown to Spring?

This was the kind of Sunday afternoon that makes me start counting the weeks until Spring.  A friend posted an invite this morning for an afternoon bike ride, and two of us joined her.  We met at the park and took off on the bike path.

After a couple of miles, we neared the grocery store, where I planned to drop the group and turn the outing into an errand.  I picked up a few things from the store and then headed back home on the bike path….in the sunshine, with sunglasses on, mittens off, and coat unzipped.

The crocuses haven’t even popped out in my yard yet, but I’m starting to get excited about Spring.

We interrupt this blog for a football game…

Go Kansas City Chiefs!  I’ve enjoyed the week of memes building up to this game.  “Pat > Pats”, etc.  While I watch tonight’s AFC playoff game, I’ll be wearing my vintage Chief’s jersey, kc chiefs jersey rsr

To keep my nervous hands busy, I’ll be knitting this fun scarf.  The pattern is a free download from the Lionbrand website.  I’ve made this pattern once before.  It makes a handy, warm scarf that stays in place.

Click on the picture to go to the Lionbrand pattern download page.

Here’s the SIP (‘scarf in progress’), in Lionbrand Hometown USA yarn.  The color is ‘Tampa Spice’.  I wanted it to be something red.

scarf in progress

The weather forecast for the game is absurdly cold.  It will be single digit windchill at game time, in the outdoor stadium.  In the stadium, that will feel like sub-zero temps.  Hopefully everybody there will have a way to stay somewhat warm.

I’ll have a cozy fire going in my room with the TV, and will make Honey-Sriracha Chicken legs in the Instant Pot and Air Fryer (stay tuned for future recipe post).

Go Chiefs!  (I know, I said that once already.)  Enjoy the game, fellow football fans.

A new ‘Rebecca’ movie is coming.

In 1940 the Alfred Hitchcock version of Rebecca, starring Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, won the Oscar for Best Picture.  The full movie is available on YouTube.

In 1962, an hour-long TV version was produced, starring James Mason and Joan Hackett.  It did a surprisingly good job of capturing the story, I thought.

In 1979, Rebecca was made into a three-part miniseries, that aired on PBS.  There isn’t a trailer on YouTube, but this is better–the first 9 minutes of the miniseries.  This was my introduction to Rebecca.  I was instantly captivated.  After watching the miniseries, I looked up the book and read it.  Then I read more books by Daphne Du Maurier.

In 1997, Rebecca was again made into a PBS miniseries, with Charles Dance as Maxim and Diana Rigg as Mrs. Danvers.  It’s on YouTube.

Now Netflix has commissioned a remake of the movie, to star Lily James and Armand Hammer.  Multiple publications have reported the news.  No word yet on a release date, or who will portray Mrs. Danvers.  I’ll be watching.

My unabashed praise for the book:

If ‘Rebecca’ the movie looks intriguing, I highly recommend checking out the book, and Dame Daphne Du Maurier’s other books.   Here are a few I’ve enjoyed:

  • The King’s General
  • Jamaica Inn
  • My Cousin Rachel
  • Frenchman’s Creek

All of the books I’ve listed except The King’s General (I think) have been made into movies; like Rebecca, more than once.

If none of the above-mentioned works look familiar to you, surely this one will.  Dame Du Maurier wrote The Birds.

The Birds scared me to death as a kid.  Thank goodness I didn’t know the connection to Rebecca, because if I did, I never would have watched or read Rebecca.

Now back to Rebecca

To my delight, Rebecca the novel came in at #25 in the ‘Great American Read’ Top 100 reader’s poll for 2018.  My personal copy, the 1939 Doubleday edition:

RebeccaRebecca2bRebecca1b

Menabilly Estate in Cornwall, UK, where Dame Du Maurier lived and raised her family, and where many of her stories (including Rebecca) are based, now offers lodging for visitors.  This is near the top of my travel bucket list.

IMDB movie links —

Daphne Du Maurier book list on Goodreads

 

Fried Ice Cream — made in the Air Fryer

     The Instant Pot has a companion in my kitchen–the Air Fryer.  Together they have transformed how I prepare foods, without my noticing it was happening.  Last year, I bought the Bella 2.5 liter air fryer, and it has indeed been a game changer.
     From wings, to simple buttered toast, to fish fillets, hamburgers, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches; you name it, I now rely on the air fryer.
air fryer
One weekend when it was bad weather outside, I attempted fried ice cream in the air fryer, and kept experimenting until I had a process that worked.  Here’s what worked:


FRIED ICE CREAM
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE AIR FRYER
• Scoop ice cream into balls and freeze until hard.
• Coat in flour.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and then roll in slightly crushed cornflake cereal.
• If necessary, use your hands to squeeze the flakes into the ice cream and round out the shape.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and roll in crushed cereal again. If softened, freeze until hard.
• For frying, place on a small pan or piece of foil.
• Fry in air fryer for up to 2 minutes at 400F.
• Remove gently (because it will be soft on the inside) and eat immediately.
Tips and notes:
  • As you can tell from the steps, the key is to keep the ice cream frozen hard.  It’s not a quick process.
  • A 1 3/4 quart carton of ice cream made 16-17 small scoops.
  • My ice cream scoop is fairly small.  If you have a larger scoop, you might get an even better result than I did.  If so, please let us know in the comments.


Here are the steps in pictures:  
Make individual scoops of ice cream.  Freeze until hard.
Make individual scoops of ice cream
Coat ice cream in flour.  Freeze until hard.
Coat ice cream in flour
Dip in beaten egg, then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes.  Freeze until hard.
(I’m using Aldi’s version of ‘Honey Bunches of Oats’. It makes a tasty shell.)
Dip in beaten egg then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard. 
(As you can see, the work surface gets a little messy.)
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard
[Do a second coating of egg + cornflakes.  Freeze hard again, if soft.]
For frying in the air fryer, put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil.
For frying in the air fryer put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil
Fry at 400F for up to 2 minutes; and maybe another 30 seconds, but that’s the max for these little scoops.  Any longer is likely to make your ice cream start to melt.
fried ice cream in fryer
Remove from the fryer with tongs and/or spatula, and eat immediately.  
fried ice cream done


Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later.

Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later
Get creative and try different things:
  • Drizzle sauce on the fried ice cream, such as caramel or chocolate sauce.
  • Top with goodies such as fruit, jam or sprinkles.
  • Try different flavored ice creams and cereals.

 

Nico 1988

This is another film I watched over the holiday.  It was hard to watch, yet I didn’t want to switch it off.  It’s not about the music and scenes of the Velvet Underground or glamorized tales of Andy Warhol and his inner circle.  The film, released in 2018, dramatizes the sobering, heartbreaking life of this 1960s icon, as she lived her final years in the late 1980s, while beginning in earnest to lay the groundwork for a brighter future.

There is no inspiration here, but something else makes it worth watching.  It is a story of a real life, well dramatized with cooperation from her son, and based on witness accounts from her inner circle.

Imdb page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7186092/

Watch here:

DIY Oatmeal mix

This being the first of the year, when people renew their vows to eat healthy, I’m sharing my easy, cost-effective oatmeal mix.  I don’t buy the single-serving oatmeal packages or flavored oatmeal.  I make my own, for pennies a serving.  Lots of people try slow cooker or Instant Pot oatmeal, or overnight refrigerator oatmeal.  To me these methods require way too much unnecessary time and effort.  (Caveat–I cook for one; not a family.  A family may change the efficiencies.)

I buy the 42 oz. carton of quick oats; currently $2.39 at Aldi.  That works out to 45 servings at 5.3 cents each.

oatmeal

Shopping list for the mix:  (Dillons/Kroger prices listed)

  • Oat bran — $2.69 for 18 oz
  • Wheat bran — $1.99 for 8 oz
  • Chia seeds — $3.99 for 12 oz
  • Flax seed — $4.49 for 16 oz
  • Sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon

mix ingredients a w labels rsr

The packages of seeds and bran store neatly in a basket in the back of my frig.

mix ingredients frig a w rsr

Measure into a pint-sized jar:

  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Bran
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seed (ground)
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 4 tsps. ground cinnamon (optional)

The ingredients will look like this in the jar:

oatmeal mix a w rsr

Shake the jar until the ingredients are mixed.oatmeal mixed a w rsr

I keep an old broken teaspoon in the mix jar, and an orphaned 1/3 measuring cup in the oatmeal canister.


To make a bowl of oatmeal

For breakfast stumble into the kitchen sleepy-eyed, and measure into a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tsps of the mix
  • 3/4 cup of milk (whole, 2% or skim–your choice)

I use a large soup bowl so it doesn’t boil over in the microwave.

  • Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
  • Stir and let cool for a few minutes; then eat.

mix in bowl a w rsr

I eat this oatmeal every. single. morning.  It’s a small breakfast, so around mid morning, I usually need a ‘second breakfast’ of toast or an egg; or I eat a very early lunch.

Additional notes and tips on the oatmeal mix:

  • Buying all of the ingredients at once may seem pricey; especially if you aren’t sure you’ll like it.  So my suggestion is to buy one item each trip to the store, and start using that item in your oatmeal.  Start with oat bran, then wheat bran, then chia seeds, then flax seed.
  • Flax seed can be purchased as whole seeds, and then ground in a coffee mill for the mix.
  • Cinnamon definitely changes the taste.  I suggest trying it in one bowl before making a whole batch of mix with cinnamon. I’m used to the taste, and I like that it ‘might’ have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • I’m not sure the sugar is necessary.  I don’t need my oatmeal to be sweet.  I plan to make my next batch of mix without the sugar and see if I like it.
  • For an extra jolt of flavor and nutrients, try tossing a few craisins, raisins or other dried fruit pieces into the bowl before putting it in the microwave.

When I say I eat this every morning, I mean every morning.  If I’m going on a trip, I pack my own individual oatmeal packets; one for each morning I’ll be away.  Usually I pack some powdered milk too, so I can make breakfast with hot water, in case that’s all I’ll have access to.

mix for overnight a w rsr

Here are the potential health benefits of the ingredients as described in WebMD and Livestrong:

Oatmeal — LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol management

Milk — Essential for bone density; helps with blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and weight management.

Oat Bran —

“Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  When applied to the skin, oats appear to reduce swelling.”

Wheat Bran — 

“Wheat bran is a source of fiber. Some people take wheat bran by mouth for preventing diseases of the large intestine (including cancer), stomach cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, and a condition where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle (hiatal hernia). It is also used for treating constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

Flax Seed — 

“There’s some evidence it [flax seed] may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Chia Seeds —

“Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet.”

Cinnamon —

“Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.”

Six Updates on Things I Wrote About in 2018

Just for fun, here is what has happened with some of the things I wrote about over the last year.

1.

Our historic ballpark is gone.

The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.

WP_20180903_003 a

They first tore the grandstand down.  Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained.  Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.

stadiumtorndown2 RSR

stadiumtorndown b RSR

In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.

2.

I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.

Sticky fingers cover

After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book.  It is a well written book about a repulsive character.  It was a repulsive read to the end.  It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.

The soiling of Page 393.

As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened.  I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start.  I bought a little bag of popcorn.  Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter.  I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.

Page 393 a w RSR

When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page.  I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book.  They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it.  Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book.  Lesson learned!  Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library?  Well, this is just the latest reason.

3.

The electric blanket needs another repair already.

Thanks to the foster pup, aka “Jaws”.

Chewed plug aw RSR

4.

The pepper plant is still growing.  

The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun.  It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing.  When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°.  Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly.  I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.

Outdoors vs Indoors:

 

Indoors

5.

Another Coco dress is in the works.

Here are numbers 1 and 2.

 

Sneak preview of #3:

Yellow Coco aw RSR

6.

I’ve made a shell from the 1937 pattern making instructions

 

and it fits.

IMG_20190101_160201865a w RSR

 


Aaand another holiday season is in the books.  One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness.  It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.

“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends.  And all the things that we planned…

“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?  Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”

“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”

 

 

Mary Poppins Returns

If you loved the original Mary Poppins movie like I did, then Mary Poppins Returns is a must-see.  It is not a remake of the 1964 movie.  It is a continuation of the story, 20 years later.  The music and actors are different from the original, but it feels completely connected.  I got emotional several times during the movie, not because it was sad (it isn’t), but because it was wonderful to have more of the Mary Poppins story.  Put the two movies together, and it’s a captivating miniseries.

There’s the familiar London steeples and rooftops,London skyline at night

and the familiar Cherry Tree Lane.mary_poppins rooftops

Cherry Lane

I don’t want to give away any surprises or spoilers, so no more details about the film.  But as always, I came away with sewing inspiration, too.  I’ll have to wait for better views when the movie is available for streaming, but for now here’s what I’ll be looking at:

Mary’s carpet bag, blue striped coat and striped skirt.  Coat and bag2

Bag - Copy

 

Striped Skirt 2

Jane Banks/Emily Mortimer’s pants-vest outfit.  The pants in particular.  They are pleated and baggy, and the hem hits where the ankle meets the foot.  Pants

IMDB link for the movie: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5028340/

If you are a Mary Poppins movie fan, and haven’t seen Mary Poppins Returns yet, I hope you can get to see it at the theatre.  Until then, here’s a little reminder from 1964.

 

 

Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!  I hope you had a lovely Christmas day.  Here’s some of what came out of my kitchen over the past few days:

Soup mixes for my family who have pressure cookers. 

Soup mixes RSR

Homemade treats for the pup cousins, using this simple recipe from another blogger.  

Pup treats aw RSR

I tried baking a small carrot cake in the Instant Pot.  It came out dense like a brownie; not light like a cake.  The flavor was good though, so I hastily frosted it (aka the best part), and put it away for my own snacking later.  We shall not speak further of this failed cooking experiment. 😉

Carrot cake baked in PC RSR

Carrot cake ruled out, I ended up making my fail-safe pumpkin bread to take to the family gathering.  

Pumpkin bread aw RSR

Prep for the road trip to KC involved bottling a supply of hot coffee for me, and packing a bag of food, toys and blankets for Myrtle the foster pup.

Thermos etc a w RSR

While I was in the kitchen doing Christmas prep, this cute little booger was in the other room producing a spectacular array of shredded stuff.  Look how proud she is of her work.

Home Alone a

Myrtle mess gif

Not from the kitchen, but this was my first-ever attempt to knit a tiny sweater tree ornament.  It was my ‘hostess gift’ to our aunt and uncle who had us all at their home. (Free download pattern here.)  

Tiny sweater a RSR

The family gathering was special, as always.  Myrtle got lots of attention from the foster cousins, both human and canine.  The cat cousin Willie opted to hide out in the bedroom.

Back at home, where my Christmas decorating is bare-bones, this print is one of my treasured holiday items.  

I Believe in Father Christmas 2 a RSR

Can’t leave out Adam Sandler’s masterpiece.  🙂