Thursday, November 23, 2006


What a great day! The weather here was sunny and in the high sixties, I spent the day cooking and enjoying my kitchen and then packed it all up and drove it to Grady Hospital where I finally met Sally and Dan and enjoyed a nice meal and good company.

Dan is a very lucky man. He was walking across a street in midtown Atlanta last Sunday - he was in a crosswalk and he had the right of way - when a speeding SUV hit him. Luckily he was carrying his photography equipment in a bag and this could well have saved his life as he was carrying it on the side where he was hit. The impact threw him 30 feet and knocked one of his tied sneakers off. He landed under the bumper of a parked car. Truly it is a miracle that he wasn't killed. Luckily he only has a few pelvic fractures and many bruises and something strange going on with his shoulder (which they won't x-ray because it isn't life-threatening).

He is also lucky to have a wife like Sally who has been by his side at Grady watching out for his best interests minute by minute. Grady is maybe the best trauma center in the southeast but they are in the business of stabilizing patients and do little else once this is accomplished. Dan has a nasty wound on his forehead and today I found out that this wound wasn't even cleaned! It was a bloody and his hair mat matted on it but Grady didn't so much as wipe it off. Sally finally did this. Grady lost his personal possessions (wallet, keys, etc.) and so Sally has had to go through the additional hassle of cancelling credit cards and all the red tape that goes with a situation like that. Seriously, if you are in a trauma situation Grady is probably the best place you can go but once they do their work if you want continuing care you need to transfer to DeKalb or Emory or St. Joseph's. Unfortunately because of the holiday this has been delayed for Dan.

Anyway, I hope you'll keep these two in your thoughts and prayers. They are just the nicest people and are going through a pretty rough time right now.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Thanksgiving Plans

They have just changed. I read several blogs every day. One is a local woman who has survived cancer and is a newlywed. A couple of nights ago her husband was hit by a car in downtown Atlanta and is now in the hospital suffering from many fractures and bruises. He was thrown 30 feet when he was hit. Frankly he is lucky to be alive.

I have been following the news as she posts. He will be in the hospital for a while, and will certainly be there tomorrow. I just called her and asked if she needed anything and also asked if they had any kind of Thanksgiving meal lined up. They don't. And so I am going to cook this turkey I bought and take them a real non-hospital Thanksgiving dinner.

I feel useful, and this turkey won't go to waste. I had not planned to do any of the trimmings but am about to re-evaluate and go shopping. These people could use a bit of holiday and I plan to provide it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Autumn Pumpkin Apple Bread

I made this today and have had one slice and it's delicious! Except for having to pare, core and chop 2 Granny Smith apples it's really fast and easy.

For Topping:
1 tbs all-purpose flour
5 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs unsalted butter, softened

For Bread:
3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
3/4 c vegetable oil
2 1/4 c sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 Granny damned Smith apples, peeled, cored and freaking chopped (2 cups)

MAKE THE TOPPING: Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a small bowl with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

MAKE THE BREAD: Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice into a medium bowl.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Add flour mixture a bit at a time until well combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between buttered loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping evenly over each loaf.

Bake until a wooden pick or cake tester comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool loaves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

I really love to bake and I haven't done it in so long. Seriously. I used to be known for my desserts. I have 3 sizes/shapes of cheesecake pans - two sets of mixing bowls - 2 sifters - a kitchenaid mixer that has been basically unused for 7 years. I need to get back to doing this thing I so love, even if I take it all in to the office so it's out of my house!

I purchased a Chirstmas-themed vinyl tablecloth for the kitchen table last week! It is so horribly wonderful and I can't wait to put it on the table. Also went to the cake art store and got the flavored oil I need to make some hard candy. I'll probably do hard candy in wintergreen, cinnamon, orange and lemon; some fudge; maybe some buttermints; most definitely gingerbread cookies! Will bake some orange-cranberry bread in mini-loaves and this will be my gift to neighbors and co-workers.

I have no earthly idea what has gotten into me. Between baking and cooking and on-line sudoku I fear I have become my own worst nightmare!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christmas Prep

Five years ago this month my marriage finally ended. The first year I was in a stupor and unable to really decorate. The next few years I was still depressed and on top of that very busy with this new job and just did the minimum and that only to make me feel better. Last year I returned to my house on December 10 after being in Japan for a year and was too jetlagged to even go through the motions of getting a tree. This year is my coming out party!!!!

I don't think I've ever had my Christmas act together before December 8 or so but this year is different. I spent the year decluttering and making my little house a comfortable home and this year I am on top of it. This evening I crawled up in the attic and brought down a huge rubbermaid tub full of the "outside lights." I have plugged them all in to test and replaced the necessary bulbs and have made a list of things I need to get this week. (In the photo the tub looks empty because I have already tested and removed the C-7 strands and the icicle strands to the front porch)

Next week I really have no Thanksgiving plans but I've arranged to take the first 3 days of the week off so I can have a full week's vacation and I plan to spend those 3 days putting up outside lights. When I'm finished you'll be able to land small aircraft on my street. I want colored bulbs on shrubs and icicle lights and white lights on the crape myrtle and I want to make it a wonderous and beautiful sight. I think my prep work tonight will cut a number of hours off my task next week.

Phoebe kitten is just in awe of the lights. She loves them and when I plug in a strand to test her eyes get huge and she sits as close as she dares. I can't wait to put up the tree. Every year the cats love to sit under the lit tree and with a 6 month old kitten I am sure we will all find new and fascinating tree decorating ideas!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sorry to be away so long . . .

I've been dealing with this weird health issue for the past two weeks. Two weeks ago tomorrow I started feeling this weird non-specific pain in my upper left chest just below my collarbone. It hurt in general constantly but when I sneezed or coughed or blew my nose or laughed it was sheer agony. I figured I might have strained something moving the table around during the last stages of refinishing and didn't think too much about it. By Thursday of that week I was in agony with it and went to the doctor. He decided it must be a pulled muscle very deep and put me on mega-ibuprophen and a muscle relaxer and told me to rest it and I should see improvement and to come back Tuesday. By Sunday morning when I got up I thought I was going to die and went to the urgent care place. They were also mystified and thought it certainly could be a pulled muscle but also possibly pleurosy (sp?) and put me on a prednisone dose-pak in addition to what I was taking. Nothing got better and by the time I had my followup with the first doctor Tuesday afternoon I was almost in tears I hurt so bad and so consistently. He finally decided it must be shingles and my angel of mercy gave me some painkillers and told me to come back today. I immediately went and got the lortab prescription filled and took the first one sitting in the parking lot of Eckerd. Within 2 hours I was finally feeling relief.

I had shingles about 6 years ago - never had the typical rash and break out associated with shingles but when I was treated for them it went away. Today when I went back there was still no rash but he decided to treat me as if it were shingles and so now I am on the fifth medication - me - who takes Tylenol every now and then and nothing else! It's so much to keep up with but I am convinced I will be 100% by this time next week.

Anyway, that's explanation for being away so long. My main reason for posting tonight is that the table is in the house now:

For the first time in 8 years I really enjoy being in my kitchen. After so long without really cooking I am beginning to actually make dinner for myself rather than nuking a frozen dinner. I sit at the table and eat rather than lugging a plate to the living room. I'm starting to look up recipes on the internet and read my cookbooks again and for the past two weeks I have actually planned a weekly menu and made a shopping list from it rather than hit the store and buy the easiest thing. Just imagine how wonderful it will be when I finally repaint the pepto-bismol pink trim!!

How funny that something so small can make such a wonderful change in one's life. I know old people in this town who grew up eating collards and cornbread in this kitchen and I've always known it was meant to be a gathering place in my house, even if I'm the only one who gathers there. This table has finally made it so. It is now my favorite room in the house. I hope I can do it justice!

And if you ever find yourself in Stone Mountain GA look me up, stop by, and set a while!