Tuesday, March 29, 2011

tunes i like tuesday: waiting for the sun



Have I mentioned that I hate the cat and mouse game Spring likes to play?  A snowy morning on Sunday and temperatures in the low 20s tonight are not the harbingers of Spring I've been hoping for. They do, however, make me think of The Doors and their song "Waiting for the Sun"; leftover from their album of the same name, the song eventually found a home on the 1970 release,  Morrison Hotel.  While Morrison Hotel didn't father any major hits for The Doors, it marked a return to their bluesy rock and roll roots. Personally, that is The Doors sound I love the most.


Waiting for the sun 
Waiting for the sun 
Waiting for the sun 


Can you feel it 
Now that Spring has come 
That it's time to live in the scattered sun 


So while we wait for Spring to cooperate (at least here in the Mid-Atlantic), enjoy some Doors and think great Spring-y thoughts. What songs does all this waiting make you think about? Perhaps another song by the same name, like The Jayhawks "Waiting for the Sun"??? (An excellent, though very different, song.) Let me know... if I have to wait much longer, I'm going to need a musical intervention!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

dinner in a springform pan

If you're like me, you find recipes on the Internet that sound so absolutely wonderful that you just want to stop what you're doing and start cooking/baking.  Trouble is, I find most of these said recipes while at work.  So I end up printing off countless recipes and bring them home with every intention of trying them. Some of them make it on my table and many don't. 

I host a family dinner at my house every other Sunday, so this is a good excuse to try some of these recipes.  This past Sunday was my turn to host and I thought it'd be a great time to "experiment". Now, whipping out new stuff while cooking for the usual suspects (aka Countrymouse and the pups) isn't all that intimating. They've lived through my culinary mishaps over the years so they are pretty nonplussed. (Like the time I made ham and bean soup that was so salty I thought we'd need IV fluids to rehydrate but Countrymouse, ever my biggest supporter, threatened the pups with an early bedtime if they all didn't eat the soup. (Obviously, back in the day when that still worked.) They still talk about it.  And yes, they ate it. Oh and no, I didn't.)

I love having people over to eat and fellowship... especially people I care about. When I have guests at my table, I always try to prepare food that I am proud to serve.  So many times during the work week I find myself cutting corners, whether it's paper plates or Rice-a-Roni, so Sunday dinners are an opportunity to do things "right".  However, when everything is said and done, it's about the people.  The food and drink just contribute to the experience. I bring this up because dinner on Sunday didn't go as planned.

I found the best recipe for Pasta Pie on the Noble Pig blog and was totally psyched to make it.  It sounded easy enough and I knew the presentation would be memorable.  After cooking the rigatoni and patiently standing them on end tightly in my springform pan, I came to the step where you fill each little noodle with meat sauce.  The Noble Pig's picture of this step shows the rigatoni standing at attention with it's tubular shape in tact.  Mine?  Not so much.  My noodles were all kinda collapsed on themselves making stuffing them quite the endeavor. I did try.  I swear I did.  But faced with getting spazzed out over stuffing noodles or moving on to Plan B (and a glass of wine) and salvaging my mood, I opted for Plan B and a very nice baked ziti style dish. (Which was met with happy diners at my table.)

Not what my version looked like!
Photo courtesy of The Noble Pig


The rest of our dinner went off without a hitch. For starters we had bruschetta and Italian Amaretto Margaritas (very yummy).  Then, my "Plan B Pasta" and salad with a nice red wine.  For dessert we finished things off with coffee and Cheesecake Factory Oreo Cheesecake.  I ended up making the cheesecake Friday night because it needed to season for at least 24 hours before eating it. I almost never use my springform pan, so to plan two dishes that required me to use it in the same meal was a real oddity. 

Needless to say, I am not sharing the pasta recipe since I really didn't follow one. The link for the Noble Pig's dish is above. If any of you end up making it, please let me know.  I'm dying to know if it was just me or not.  The margaritas were tasty and I will make them again (but maybe add a little more ice).  The real standout at dinner was the cheesecake.  The recipe is below.  It is worth the time spent making it and is definitely a keeper. 


The moral of this story is to enjoy what you do. (And remember why you do what you do.)  My goal was to prepare a delicious meal that would be enjoyed by the people I love and to spend time enjoying them.  Did I accomplish that?  Yes. Did they care if the pasta was standing upright or laying flat in a pan. No. (Thankfully) Was changing my plan and keeping my sanity worth it? Absolutely!



Cheesecake Factory  Oreo Cheesecake

Yield: 16 servings.
Crust
1 1/2 C. Oreo Cookie Crumbs (about 23 Oreo cookies finely chopped)
2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
9″ Spring Form Pan (buttered on bottom and sides)

Filling
1 1/2 lb. Cream Cheese
1 C. Sugar
5 Large Eggs
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 C Flour
8 oz Sour Cream
5 Oreo Cookies (coarsely chopped for the batter)
10 Oreo Cookies (coarsely chopped for the top of cheesecake)
Crust
Mix melted butter with Oreo crumbs and press in spring pan cover the bottom and 1 1/2″ up the sides with crumbs, set aside.

Filling
All Ingredients need to be at room temperature before beginning. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Keep mixer on a low setting during the mixing and beating process. Add sugar gradually and continue beating cream cheese until mixed through. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until blended. Measure the vanilla, salt and flour, pour into cream cheese and egg mixture and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat well. Turn off the mixer and stir in the coarsely chopped Oreo cookies with a spoon.
Pour cream cheese mixture into the spring pan and place the ten coarsely chopped Oreo Cookies on top of the cream mixture. Place pan on the top rack and in the middle of a preheated oven at 325 degrees and bake for one hour and 15 minutes. When time is up prop the oven door open and let the cheese cake stay in the oven for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool enough to place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. It is worth the anticipation. A cheese cake should season. The flavor ripens and becomes enriched.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

tunes i like tuesday: heartbeats


I think the first time I heard José González was during an episode of Scrubs.  The one where JD's baby is born, to be exact. (Okay... I went through a semi-serious Scrubs phase.  I still think the show is cleverly written and it also has some of the best music on television.  I would love to steal Zach Braff's iPod.)


González's voice is soft and soothing and his guitar playing is memorable. Born in Sweden of Argentinian parents, González grew up listening to Latin music and his fingerstyle is reminiscent of tango and the other folk music of Latin America.


He covers his fellow Swedes, The Knife, in the video below, which is actually an advertisement for Sony.  I prefer his cover. The Knife's version has a definite Scandinavian sound.  Interestingly enough, Sony released two versions of the ad, the only difference is the performer.  I'm including The Knife's version as well.  Which do you prefer?  


I love the bouncing balls and all the vibrant colors.  My favorite part of the video is when the frog jumps out of the drain. It's a fun video, a great song and González is an artist worth listening to again (and again).  Enjoy and tell me what you think.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

welcome spring

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
e.e. cummings


Ah, Spring, the most fickle of seasons and perhaps the most longed for, is finally here.  While we try our best to coax her into staying, I am not sure she's made up her mind just yet to grace us with her undivided attention.  Like an overeager suitor, we will take what pittance she gives us and will be thrilled with it though quietly we desire more.  Before we know it, Spring's beauty and appeal with be overshadowed by her sister, Summer, and our dalliance will be forgotten in the long, playful days Summer offers us. However, for today we sit and wait and want for more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

sisters

For when three sisters love each other with such sincere affection, the one does not experience sorrow, pain, or affliction of any kind, but the other's heart wishes to relieve, and vibrates in tenderness... like a well-organized musical instrument.
~Elizabeth Shaw



Looking forward to spending time with both of my sisters later this week.  Yay!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

tunes i like tuesday: old friends



Paul Simon has a new album out, So Beautiful or So What.  From all accounts it's really good and is being compared to Graceland, considered to be one of his very best works.  I've only heard a cut or two off it but I like what I've heard.  Long before this release or Graceland, Paul Simon was best known for his work with Art Garfunkel.  My parents listened to S&G, so I grew up listening to them too.  Two of my mother's favorite songs were "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Scarborough Fair" and I always think of her when listening to them.  


Thinking about the Simon and Garfunkel catalog, I am hard-pressed to name one of their songs I don't like. Really, my love for their music, even at an early age, should have been an indicator of my lifelong love of folk music. When I was 18 or so, one of my favorite albums was their 1968 release, Bookends. The album was already 23 years old at this point, but I treated it like treasure. (I actually listened to it on vinyl, back in the day.)  The album went to #1 and charted four singles: "At the Zoo", "Hazy Shade of Winter", "Fakin' It" and "Mrs. Robinson".... all of which are blog post worthy!  


However, the song I wanted to share today is "Old Friends".  I find something very sweet and endearing about the song, which embodies a hope that friendship can last a lifetime.  The album starts off with an instrumental version of the title cut, "Bookends" and midway through gives us "Old Friends", flowing into the lyricized version of "Bookends", which reflects on old friendships, thus making it's own musical bookends.


The version I am sharing is from the 1977 televised program, The Paul Simon Special.  What do you think? Do you have a favorite S&G song? (Surely, you must have one??!) 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

7 random facts


The lovely Lee over at Tales of the Toll House Cookie invited me to play along with her in the 7 Facts meme. It's an opportunity for you to learn more about me.  Hopefully you have already picked up on some of the more obvious stuff, like... I couldn't live without music, I live in a funky old house in the middle of no where, I absolutely love my family and I like to enjoy life.  Here's seven more little pieces of randomness for you. If you figure me out, let me know... I need all the help I can get! 

~I have been both a stay-at-home-mom and a work-outside-the-house-mom.  When I was at home, I was excited about returning to the workforce.  Now that I have, all I can think about is being a SAHM again.  I worry that all my kids will be gone before I can get "back home".
 
~I have a true love for paper.  I can spend hours looking at stationary and cards and wrapping paper and on and on.  Problem is, I buy all these wonderful things and never use them.  I have a whole closet full of nifty paper thingies.  I'd like to blame the Internet but I am not so sure I was much better before it took over my life.
 
~Very few things in my home were bought brand new and none of them were bought for full retail price.  I adore thrift stores, auctions, flea markets and any other secondary market opportunity I can find.  This is for two reasons... first, I am cheap.  I really can't justify spending my entire paycheck on an item that I know I can acquire for a fraction of the price elsewhere and secondly (and probably most importantly) I have bought the coolest, most interesting, one-of-a-kind objects by buying them used.
 
~I love my sons names.  I know that is silly, since I helped pick them out, but after all this time I still think we did a great job.  There's one two middle names I might not have picked out today (well, one of those names is shared by Countrymouse, so my hands were kinda tied).  My sons are named: Thomas, Matthew, Peter, Ethan and Andrew.  Yes, they are all Biblical names.  We didn't start out that way but after our second son was born and we realized the trend, we went with it. 
 
~I met Countrymouse a week or two before my 18th birthday.  We started dating a few weeks later and were engaged after two and a half months.  I was afraid to tell my parents because I knew what they would say.  (Ummm, that would probably be the same exact thing I would be saying today if I were in those shoes!!)  Countrymouse and I waited almost 5 years to get married and will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in June. 
 
~I LOVE my siblings. My two sisters are my best friends.  Our day-to-day lives are very different. (June is in her early 40s, has never been married, has no children and is a full-time student.  Nancy is in her late 30s, is a newly single mom with a 2 and 3 year old and is reentering the workforce. Me... well, I am the oldest, have been married my whole adult life and will be an empty nester sooner than later.) Yet, that doesn't seem to matter.  Both of my brothers remind me of my father... introspective, calm, smart. Everyone loves John. He has a keen sense of humor and is always ready for a party.  Phil was a prankster and even though it was short, he enjoyed as many things in life as he could. He passed away last year from colon cancer.  I miss him terribly.
 
~My dream job would be to own some kind of little shop that sold books, music, paper goods (of course), antique-y things, gourmet goodies and great beer and wine (especially champagne) and coffee and tea.  (Okay... emphasis on the word dream.) I have no idea how that would work and I suspect if I even got close to doing this, I would need to pare down my scope.  Oh... and needless to say, I would want it to be located in some fabulous town.  A girl can dream, right?
 
So that's a little window into who I am.  Now I get to pass this along to a few bloggers I'd like to get to know better.  So here ya go... 

~Paige @ Hodgepodge
~Amanda @ Herding Cats

(Whether they play along or not, you should check out these ladies and their very awesome blogs.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

tunes i like tuesday: moneygrabber


The past several years have given us a rekindled interest in retro-style music that combines soul, gospel and funk. I think either you have an appreciation for this sound or you don't.  Personally, I think it's fun and it definitely keeps my playlists interesting. Piquing my retro yearnings here lately are Fitz and the Tantrums. Fronted by Michael Fitzpatrick, with leading support from Noelle Scaggs, the band delivers their own spin on music from a past musical era.  Determined not to be a carbon copy of groups from days gone by (and part of what I find interesting) is their non-traditional instrumentation... most notably organ and saxophone and also most notably, NO guitar, which takes some musical guts. 

According to Fitzpatrick, 
I'm not sure why, but there's definitely a new movement that's happening. Most of that can be attributed to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, who remind people of this amazing period in music. It's interesting because rock 'n' roll has been around forever and the certain cyclical cycle for what rock 'n' roll is, people don't keep it at base – there's a perpetual growth. But I think the reason why soul music is finding its voice is that people are responding to the organic authenticity of it. It's six great musicians doing it the traditional way, there's no back tracks. Each show is its own moment. I think people respond to that kind of songwriting. It has a soul. And I think that people are hungry for that.
I'm thankful for Fitz and the Tantrum's not so subtle reminder of how amazing good music is, regardless of its era. Have a listen and let me know what you think.  If you like the tune, you can download it free below.


Friday, March 4, 2011

our house

When spring rolls around each year, I always think about our house. It was during Easter dinner in April 2006 that Countrymouse and I each had one of those light bulb moments. My clan's old family home had sat vacant for about a year; my parents had down-sized and really just wanted to close that chapter of their lives. My father made a statement basically saying they weren't looking to get rich with the sale of the house and threw an amount out. While neither of us said anything at that moment, we both thought, "Yeah, we can do that". Six months and all of our savings later, we were the proud owners of a (now)108 year old Victorian in The Green Garden County of Maryland's Eastern Shore.


I'll light the fire
You put the flowers in the vase
That you bought today


Countrymouse had always liked the house. He had known the house for 25 years at this point and was quite familiar with it's high and low points, along with it's many renovations. When we were dating and eager to start our lives together, we would play "What If". You know, "What if we owned this house...", "What if we converted the attic into an apartment for us...", etc. He had spent time over the years cataloging the things he wanted to do with the house just as a pleasant mental exercise.

Staring at the fire
For hours and hours
While I listen to you
Play your love songs
All night long for me
Only for me

I have to admit that while I did have the same initial thought as Countrymouse, it took a good bit of deliberation for me to come around. It wasn't my parents or the house's fault; the house represented everything I wanted to distance myself from... an unwanted move to Maryland from NYC, an awkward teenager-hood, a mediocre social experience in high school, a sleepy, backwater existence with little cultural or social outlets... Why did I think that almost 30 years later I wanted to own this house?

Come to me now
And rest your head for just five minutes
Everything is good



Perhaps because almost 30 years later I wasn't the same young girl who had moved into the house with her family so long ago. I was now a woman who had been married more than half her life with 5 pups of her own. I knew the love the walls of this house would hold for my family, the memories it already held for them. My life in this house had hardly been the stuff of Anne of Green Gables and there were certainly memories I'd just as soon forget, but this house was part of me. This is the house I brought Countrymouse home to when he met my parents and where I dressed for our wedding. When I was away in college and when I was a new mom living far from my family, this was the house I always knew I could return to, no questions asked, and always be home.

Such a cosy room
The windows are illuminated
By the evening sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you
Only for you


It was odd when my parents moved out and we knew at some point there would be strangers living here. Like the end of a story you weren't ready for. I don't want to paint an image of me locked away somewhere lamenting; it wasn't like that. All of us siblings took it in stride... we're a resilient bunch... but it was an peculiar thought.


Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you
And our la,la,la, la,la, la, la, la, la, la, la.....


It took me about two weeks to get fully persuaded about buying the house. Countrymouse left the final decision up to me, though his desire was crystal clear.  I did have some reservations, not so much about the house as about moving away from the hub of our lives. When I considered everything, the blessings outweighed any drawbacks. The rest is history.

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you
And Our

We've spent the past few years making this house our house. We've torn down walls and cut down trees. We've made it our own. There is something cool about being the third owners of a house this old. The funkiness of this old place is the perfect canvas for all my whims. 


It's been good.

I'll light the fire
And you place the flowers in the jar
That you bought today



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

keepin' company thursdays


Photobucket


I am pretty psyched to have been selected as the "Lucky #3 Spot" for Keepin' Company Thursday's Blog Hop hosted by Traci66 and Heck of a Bunch.


If you are visiting here for the first time, have a look around... I love company!




My name is Debi and I am the Citymouse. I spend my days living on Maryland's Eastern Shore with the love of my life and husband of 25 years, the Countrymouse. I am the proud mother of five sons, one of whom is serving in the US Army and is currently deployed to Iraq. When I am not pretending to be the boss around the Mouse House, I can be found working at our local hospital. I have a peculiar love for raw onions, small restaurants, and all things Italian. I believe that most of life’s problems can be solved over a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine and that every morning should begin with Champagne. Music is my passion, blogging is my soul and living large, my goal. I hope you'll visit again and join me as I seek out all the beautiful things life has to offer.

Here's how Keepin' Company Thursdays works:
* 1. Copy and Paste the "Keepin' Company Thursday" button and write a blog post about it on your page, explaining to your blog followers how it works and how to join. 

* 2. Follow the first two blogs, which are the hostesses, Heck of a Bunch and Traci66. They will follow back. 

* 3. Follow the "LUCKY" #3 spot winner.


For this hop to really work you'll need to follow the 'honor code' and help us spread the word about Keepin' Company Thursday.

*4. Go to as many blogs on the list as possible and follow them.

*5. Leave them a comment saying. "Hey! I'm a new follower from "Keepin' Company Thursday" Check out my blog too! www.yourbloghere.blogspot.com Thanks!" They should all follow you back because that's what this is all about! 

*6. If you get a follower via Keepin' Company Thursday please follow them back. 

*7. Add your blog name and the URL to your Keepin' Company Thursday Post to the linky below.

I hope you'll decide to play along today and meet a new blogger or two while you're at it!  






Tuesday, March 1, 2011

tunes i like tuesday: i got you


Do you have a song or two from your youth that no matter how old (or dated) it gets, you still love it?  "I Got You" by the Split Endz is one of those songs for me.  I was still in high school when this came out but I don't remember ever hearing it until I started college.  We called this New Wave back then.  (Yes, I'm cringing.) The song is sung by Neil Finn, who is probably better known for fronting the band, Crowded House.  The song itself has a distinctive sound associated with what was going on musically in the early 80s. While my taste in music has continue to evolve since then, this is definitely part of my musical history and a stepping stone to where I am today. I continue to like Finn's vocals and think the song could be stripped down a bit and still hold it's own today.  Do you remember this song? What song from your past still makes you nod your head to the music or get up and dance?