Saturday, December 31, 2005

Notes on the trip to India

I'm going to try to buckle down to share with you some of the happenings on my India trip, not least because I would love to have a record of this once-in-a-lifetime trip for myself!

While in India, I posted once very early in the trip. That posting was done to Hope's blog; you can read it here. I've since decided that this record really belongs on my own blog, so henceforth any entries made with be made herein, but not heretofore. Ahem.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Maple feta artichoke puffs

After making the onion dip, I had the uneasy feeling I might not be living up to my "rep" by bringing something so simple, so I decided to dig around the house to see what else I have on hand to bring to the party tonight. I found one sheet of puff pastry, feta, canned artichokes, frozen spinach, and a variety of add-ins. What I came up with was these puff pastry squares, which turned out to be tres yummy!

I find it really hard to make just a tiny bit of anything; I always overestimate how much is needed. One sheet of puff pasty won't make a lot of puffs. So, when it comes time to stuff the pastry squares, we'll see how I did with my estimating.

The ingredients reminded me of everyone's old favorite, the hot artichoke dip. Using those ingredients as my starting point, I crumbled about 2 ounces of feta, and sprinkled on some parmesan cheese, perhaps a tablespoon or a bit less. I used my favorite chopper from Pampered Chef to finely chop a few artichoke hearts and perhaps 1/3 cup of the frozen chopped spinach. I cut the defrosted puff pastry into 16 squares using a fluted pizza cutter, and melted about 1 teaspoon of butter.

Next I added the melted butter to the cheeses and mixed thoroughly.

I tasted the mixture at this point and found it pretty harsh. After some thought, I decided to add some balsamic vinegar, about 1 tablespoon. It was better, but it still needed something. (I wondered whether all this tasting was using up too much filling!) So --- what the heck --- let's try some real maple syrup. About a tablespoon went in and rounded out the flavors very nicely! (I wouldn't try this with the fake maple syrup. If you don't have the real stuff on hand, try adding little bits of honey till you like the taste.)

Now it's time to assemble the puffs. I wet the four edges of a square of puff pastry with a brush dipped in water, put a tiny spoonful of filling on a square ...

... then folded the four corners toward the middle, pinched the open edges together and brushed the top with egg wash (1 egg with about 1 tablespoon water, whisked with a fork).

Repeat for all the others ...

... and, to my surprise, I had exactly the right amount of filling for 17 squares, which meant I got to have a tiny spoonful as a treat! Now that's a happy ending! :o)

I put the squares on a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper, covered them with plastic wrap that I had sprayed with PAM to keep it from sticking, and put it in the refrigerator until time to bake. A couple of hours later, I popped the sheet into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. The puffs opened slightly at the top, turned golden brown, and didn't last long at the party. And that's a second happy ending. (Sorry, had to rush to the party so I didn't have time to take a picture. You'll have to use your imagination!)

Recipe in printable form

Can I come in?

When he's done patrolling the back yard, saving us all from squirrels and ensuring that no interlopers have interloped, Simba comes to the back door and waits quietly to be let in. The expectant look on his face tells you that he knows he will get a tiny dog biscuit (suitable size for a tiny dog) each time he comes in. Sometimes I catch him licking his chops as he waits.

He used to bark when he wanted to come in, bark when he was let in, and bark while I was getting the biscuit for him. I've trained him to bark less, but the one bark I wish he would not have discarded is the one telling me he's ready to come in. All too often he sits there silently for some minutes before I realize he's there.

What a good dog!!

See a previous picture of Simba

Check out the weekend dog blogging at Sweetnicks this Sunday night for pictures of Simba and other dog cuties!

New Year's Eve-Eve appetizers

We've been invited for a small party at friends' tonight, and I'm bringing an appetizer. My first choice --- always! --- is the Barefoot Contessa's Pan Fried Onion Dip. This is french onion dip like you've never tasted before, folks. I usually tinker with recipes till I get them the way I like them, but this recipe requires zero tinkering. Vary the amount of cayenne pepper to taste, and get ready for a sweet, smooth, delicious dip, excellent for baguette slices, chips, crackers, or, yes, just a quick spoonful all by itself! Delish!!

It's such a pleasure to make this dish. When time permits, caramelizing onions is one of my favorite things to do. It's easy, requires very little attention, and if you keep the heat low enough, you really can't overcook them. The onions smell so great while gently sauteeing, and it's such a delight to check in on them occasionally, giving them a stir, and watch them slowly, slowly acquiring the golden color that means they're sweet as sugar. When I'm a little shy on veggies, I'll make them as a side dish, eaten warm out of the pan, just butter & onions & a blissful smile.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A raffle that does good!

If you've been wanting to do something for the victims of the earthquake in Kashmir/Pakistan, here's a great idea: a raffle! Check out the Menu for Hope II list of prizes, choose the ones you like, and then make a Visa or Mastercard donation (which goes directly to Unicef, earmarked for the earthquake victims) specifying which items you're joining the raffle for. The last time I looked, some of the raffle items had NO entries for them, which means your odds of winning are excellent! (Check out the Cooking with Amy Very Maple Syrup cookbook plus granola!) Hurry, the raffle ends this Friday!

Monday, December 19, 2005

We're baaack!!

Happy Hope

I absolutely love India! Had a wonderful time, met great people, bought some nice stuff, and spent a week watching Hope blossom from a listless, undernourished baby to a contented, intelligent, and sometimes mischievous toddler in just one week! If time and jetlag permits, I will blog more about the trip, with lots of pics, at Hearts Full of Hope. Please check there in a day or two!

P.S. This pic is a little blurry because it was taken from the mirror that Hope was so gleefully admiring herself in. But what joy! Just had to share it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but we learned a couple of days ago that we would be leaving tomorrow for India, and life has been a bit of a whirlwhind since! We depart from Boston at 8:30 pm tomorrow, Monday, arriving in Mumbai in the wee hours of Wednesday. Two nights there, then off to Pune Friday, picking up Hope Saturday, then leaving for New Delhi Monday (I think). Doing the obligatory paperwork there to get her a visa for the U.S. Leaving in the wee hours Saturday morning, arriving in Boston Saturday night, staying one night there and then home!

Our hotel in Pune sounds great: the President Hotel. I can't really draw a bead on the one in Mumbai; it's the Kohinoor Continental, and it could be very nice or it could be so-so. In New Delhi, it's the Diplomat. Definitely an average hotel there.

Poor Simba ... we were gone a week for Thanksgiving, so he stayed with "Uncle Pete." I dropped him off there again tonight, for two weeks. Returning for just 5 days and then back to Uncle Pete's for the Christmas holiday. He's going to start to wonder where "home" is!

It's so nice to have the prayers of friends, for safe travel and health and a happy transition for Hope. My time at church was spent responding to "we'll be praying" comments from all sides. People are so thoughtful, to share in my excitement and to care to pray. And God is good to motivate them to do so.

Anyway, there's packing to be done and dreams to be dreamt. I'm hoping I'll be able to post from the road, but can't be sure. If not, you can expect lots of pictures and thoughts upon our return!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

terrific twin toddlers

Marsha and JordanMarsha and Jordan

Jaedyn and bear

Pictures can't begin to tell you how delightful these little girls are, but they're a start. We had so much fun hanging out with these sweet-tempered girls, my grand-nieces, at my brother's home in Illinois for a couple of days before returning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thankful for travel, family, food, and warmth ... but no jello wigglers!??

panoramic view out the back door[click to see larger]

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving trip, with lots of fun with family and of course the most wonderful food. My pictures of the Thanksgiving spread didn't come out well, so I won't post any pics of it. But I promised a picture of the corn field within which I would be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, so here is a shot of what my cuz sees out her back door every day.

Those of you who know farming will point out this isn't exactly the shot of a corn field that I promised. It's true. The farmer planted beans this year! I was hoping his horses would wander by while I was looking so I could include them in the shot. They often work their way right around the edges of the field. There must be better pickin's in some other section right now.

But lest you suffer from corn field withdrawal, here's one right across the road.

We New Englanders aren't used to seeing land so flat. The views in the Midwest cover lots more distance than ours.

I got this picture because I had gotten up early one morning. Everyone else was still asleep, and I was getting ready to settle down with something to read when I noticed this sunrise and dashed to get my camera. I stepped out onto a frosty deck and took a couple of shots before I realized I should step out of the lee of the building to get a better angle. Now, stepping out of the lee of a building in the flatlands means stepping out into a darn strong breeze. What felt like "frosty" before suddenly felt like "frigid", with my hair wanting to whip in front of the camera to boot. One quick shot and I was back indoors, thankful for the warmth.

It makes me think of the Pakistanis who lived through the big earthquake and don't have protection from the cold as winter settles in. If you live in a wintry area, you know what it's like to be exposed to the cold too long. Please consider sending something to a charity to get tents and blankets to those folks. A Jewish community group in our area has contacts over there and is collecting to send things directly to the affected Pakistanis. I loved sending our contribution there, because there's no overhead costs other than the shipping. No salaries, no office supplies, no rent, all contributions going straight to the cause. I'd be happy to send you their contact information if you'd like to help.

P.S. It's true, the traditional jello wigglers did not put in an appearance this year. Nobody seemed to miss them much, so it appears tradition is evolving. Here are some pics of some third cousins who found my digital camera very entertaining!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Painting outdoors during Thanksgiving week? Unheard of!

We had a spate of soft fall weather today, in the fifties, nary a breeze, light gently filtered so no sunglasses were needed. Even though I should be readying the house for our weeklong absence, I could not resist getting out there for an hour this afternoon to paint the trim around the front door. I knew if I didn't, I would regret it all winter, driving up the driveway and seeing that detail missing.

I'm so tickled about getting it done, I even took a closeup.

See the before & after photos in my previous posting this month ...

Speaking of cooking ...

... which of course I wasn't, not personally, but others have been ... I've been reading a bunch of food blogs like Kalyn's Kitchen and Simply Recipes, The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, and Farmgirl Fare , all of which are a treat for the eyes and have great recipes as well.

And I'm inspired to try my hand at it soon. But not till next week, because tomorrow the huz and I go away for a real Thanksgiving (unlike those psuedo Thanksgivings practiced by others ... :o) in The Heartland. Yep, that's right, land of corn fields and corn-fed beef and corn-fed turkeys: Iowa. My cousin lays out a spread for her kids, grandkids, and inlaws that is pure down home.

Everyone brings something, and I guarantee you we'll have delicious turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes,green bean casserole, fruit salad with cut-up Snickers bars (Ok, I gotta give an "eww" to that one), relishes, bread, and jello wigglers for the little ones. Sometimes we get lucky and someone fixes a duck with sweet dressing. I'd make the trip for that alone!

And, to top it off, cuz's house is situated right in the middle of ... you got it ... a corn field! I'll try to add a picture to this post on my return.

If there's time, I'm thinking of volunteering to make my New England Corn Bread, which is easy as can be and a hit anywhere I've served it. If you like a slightly sweet corn bread with corn bits in it and lots of butter, this is the one for you.

Yes, it's a cheater. It starts with a boxed mix. I haven't met anyone who has held that against me after they've tried it!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I know, I know, too many dog pictures! Believe it or not, this blog is not all about my dog. Really. But he keeps looking cute for the camera. What's a doting mom to do?

Actually, lately he's not crazy about the flash. So when I've tried to take his picture he lays his ears down and turns his face away. But this is the look I see hundreds of times during the day ... and it always makes me smile.

For more photos, see Simba on Rodent Patrol, my color-coordinated dog, Happiness is a soft warm doggie, and my hot dog

See more cute dogs at Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnick's site!

I'm a lemon meringue ... perfect!

You Are Lemon Meringue Pie

You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweet
Those who like you have well refined tastes

The huzz and I watched Million Dollar Baby tonight. Cried my eyes out. Lemon meringue figured prominently in the movie. Perfect!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Before & after

We may get a little more painting done on the house before winter sets in, but I'm not counting on it. So I ran out today to get a shot of the front of the house to show you its semi-final look.


You need to use your imagination a bit to "see" the final product. Imagine the deck isn't there at all. It's so old and soon to be removed, so we didn't bother painting it. If construction doesn't start next summer, though, we might reverse that decision. Anyway, stretch your imagination a bit more to imagine the trim around the door off the deck has been painted white, and also the sort of peaked roofline above the garage. Then you'll have the general idea.

The setting isn't as colorful as the "before" shot. You can even see remnants of snow on the ground from a dusting we received two days ago that hasn't fully melted. I had just painted the door its dark color, and was coming back to do the trim white when I noticed snowflakes coming down. Mind you, it was at least 35 degrees out, or I wouldn't have been painting. I'm hardy, but not foolhardy! (Hush up, Rick) Paint doesn't adhere well below 35 degrees, so I was pushing it a little to put the paint on at all. I tacked up some plastic so I could leave the front door open while it dried for a while at room temperature. But to paint the trim was going to require exposure to the elements. I could have kept going but, I don't know, it just didn't seem right somehow to paint in the snow!

I've surprised myself by enjoying the application of color to the trim & doors. I felt a little tense while we were struggling to get the colors right, but once we got started I've felt a rising excitement to see our little house starting to look respectable again. It really needed this paint job. And I really was happy to see it getting its light-colored coat of paint. It just made all the difference to me. Woodscapes is wonderful to work with, very full-bodied and with great coverage. We spent a few extra dollars getting good brushes, which have made all the difference in the world. And every trim item that got a coat of white primer (which is all that's on most of the lower-level stuff) just made the house look tidier and, I don't know, less like a dump!

I don't want to be one of those people who major on externals. I know it's just a house, and just paint. But I'm a pretty visual person, so the pleasure isn't about owning this house or pridefulness about its appearance. It's about visual contentment, appealingness for its own sake.

So, I have lots more painting to do when the weather permits, but I don't think I'll mind. Doing one set of windows whenever there's a day with time and good weather is a pretty nice way to go. Each bit of trim gets ticked off my little list, and that's a really satisfying feeling. And it's also good to know we're prolonging the life of our siding. And Woodscapes has an 8-year warranty for solid stain! We don't have to do this for at least another 8 years! Hmmm ... how old will I be in 8 years ... yikes! Way old. Todd will probably have to do it all himself next time. :o)

A weapon for my midlife battle

I've been trying to figure out how on earth I can eat a reasonable number of calories when a single taste of something I love (Wheat Thins, Oreos, Smartees, Hot Tamales, the list goes on & on)torments me with demands for more, more, MORE! Not only that, but there ARE more, and lots of them. And all loaded with calories this midlife bod can ill afford. So, now that I've done advertising for 4 commercial food products, I will do extreme advertising for one that I'm so happy to have found:

Nabisco 100-calorie packs of Fruit SnacksThey stay in my cabinet, I take out only one package, they're yummy (in a gummy worms sort of way), and I'm far less tempted to overeat. Also, NO high fructose corn syrup! I'm going right back to the store to stock up.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Happiness is a soft warm doggie

Today was a chilly day. We had friends over for brunch after church, and then walked around the yard pointing out the sights and admiring the new paint job. I was inadequately dressed for the coolness, so I did what all dog-loving goose-bumped people do ... called over my dog for a snuggle! At least then the front of me was warm.

Look how relaxed he is ... and how happy I am! :o)

More Simba pictures

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pat will make a few television and radio appearances while there

Did the headline catch your eye? There's this fun little game you can play with Google You enter your name as the search term, along with the verb of your choice. Put it in quotes so Google doesn't ignore the verb. For example: "Marla is" or "Marla thinks". The results can be quite amusing. The title above is my first result.

The past few weeks we've been having the top half of our house painted, and doing the bottom half ourselves. I'm not sure we'll get it all done before cold weather sets in permanently, but it's really starting to look nice! Tomorrow I might have a picture that will give you a decent idea of what the finished product will look like. For today, I'll post the "before" picture.

Choosing the colors was quite an ordeal. Those orangey bricks are devilishly hard to work with, especially since I was wanting to lighten up the colors and use a very light trim. I found a really nice little utility at the Benjamin Moore website that you can download for a small fee. It allows you to work with a scanned picture, delineating the various areas pretty easily, and then cycling through a variety of color choices. My absolute favorite was the tropical scheme: salmon, light turquoise, bright turquoise. Or, as BM would say, Creamy Orange, Marina Bay, Harborside Blue. But Todd was concerned it would hurt resale value. "We're not planning to sell it!" I protested. Hmmm. Mayhaps that wasn't his real reason.

A good friend who is an artist and an art teacher and whose home redecorating projects always look good to me came over and looked at swatches with me, to get us started. Then I tried color after color after color ... ad nauseum. I actually tinkered with the tropical colors just because I was getting kind of punchy. Poor Todd ... I think he'd have accepted just about any color scheme after I showed him that one! An unanticipated side effect. (Really! If he'd let me, I'd actually have painted these colors! You think I'm weird now, just wait till I get really old!) Fortunately, I think we're both very pleased with how it's coming out.

Once we started painting, it was several trips to the paint store till we got the colors we ended up using. I'll be dogged if I can ever just pick out a color by looking at swatches. Even the little visualizer program wasn't foolproof, mostly because we were buying Sherwin Williams' Woodscapes product, which was universally recommended by every building professional we spoke to. It has this amazing 8-year warranty on it, and after painting with it, I can see why. Going from a dark color to a light color, the coverage was so good we really could have stopped with one coat. But we did (and are still doing!) two coats anyway. The wood had been basically unprotected for quite a while, so it seemed prudent to assume some of the first coat was being absorbed into the wood and the second coat would be the one that really protects it.

So, are you dying to see it? Sorry, you'll have to waaaaitttt!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Time for more fun!

This is blog tag, and I've tagged myself. At the end of the entry, I'm going to tag a couple more folks, and then you have to answer all these questions and tag others. Keep it going!

3 names I go by
- Pat
- PatL (pronounced "Pattle")
- Aunt Pat

3 screen names I've had:
- BigRed
- can't tell you this one
- can't think of another!

3 physical things I like about myself:
- hair
- feet
- my height

3 parts of my heritage:
- Air Force
- Iowa
- Illinois

3 things I am wearing right now:
- robe
- PJs
- slippers

3 favorite bands/musical artists I like a lot (too many to choose only 3 “favorites”!):
- ShadowFax
- Talking Heads
- Cream

3 favorite songs I really like (here, again, too many for only 3 faves):
- Pony, Pony by Billy Idol ... no better dancing anywhere!!
- Psycho Killer
- Born in the USA

3 things I want in a relationship:
- reciprocity
- respect
- shared core values

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:
- eyes
- height
- physical strength

3 favorite hobbies:
- cross stitch
- wallyball
- reading

3 Things I want to do badly right now:
- go to India!
- lose some weight
- grow closer to God

3 things that scare me:
- dental drills on inadequately anesthetized teeth (been there)
- people who have no respect for life
- the thought of Simba's death ... it will happen in the next few years and it's going to hurt!

3 of my everyday essentials:
- computer time
- food
- sleep (how basic can you get?!)

3 Careers you have considered or are considering:
- waitress
- simultaneous interpreter at the UN
- cookie packager

3 places you want to go on vacation:
- Kenya
- Jordan
- Spain

3 kids' names you like:
- I’m not the into-kids-names type. I could more readily list names I dislike due to overuse or general cutesy-pie-ness.

3 things you want to do before you die:
- scuba dive again
- palpably experience God's presence again
- see my loved ones saved

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
- love computer hardware, programming, understanding tech stuff
- love the NBA playoffs
- like to know the nitty gritty of how things work

3 ways I am stereotypically a girl:
- care too much about what others think of me
- love to cook and host parties
- absolutely melt over puppies, kittens, infants, etc.

3 celeb crushes:
- I must be getting old. Can't think of any!

Ok, now I tag Eva and Margaret!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Note to self: easy menu!

We had the pleasure of hosting a really nice family for brunch today, John & Jackie G with their kids Allie (6th grade) and Zach (3rd). John & Jackie were really fun to talk with. The kids were super, very patient with all the adult nattering, good eaters, and very good-natured. Allie helped me with some of the preparations, Zach initiated a little hoops shooting after lunch, and they both seriously and persistently participated in a toad hunt. It turns out we have an even dozen toads in our house, but they're not particularly noticeable. With time and only a little help finding the last one, they were able to spot every one!

In addition to the great company, this brunch was enjoyable for me because it was relatively simple to prepare and yummy to boot. So I make this note to myself; this could become standard brunch fare at our house! Here's the menu:

Luxury Scrambled Eggs
Maple-Oatmeal Scones

Fruit cup (honeydew, cantaloupe, seedless grapes)
Bacon (extra thick Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich turkey)

That's it!


The night before

  • Set the table
  • Run a load of dishes and get them put away
  • Put some Pellegrino in the fridge
  • Set up the coffee maker with water & coffee grounds & set it to come on at 1:00


  • chop the herbs and scallions
  • combine the eggs, cream cheese, salt & pepper
  • I held off putting the herbs into the eggs until I could ask whether the kids would eat them. They did, and seemed to like it!


  • Prepared them up to the point of rolling them out & cutting them.
  • Put them in an airtight container with parchment sheets between layers.
  • Made the glaze; left on the counter so it would spread easily when needed.


  • Cooked both types of bacon, just a little shy of being done
  • Cooled, stored in a plastic bag overnight

That day

I came home a few minutes early (just left church with a bare minimum of socializing) while Todd stayed after and rode home with our guests. That gave me time to:
  • egg-wash the scones and put them in the oven
  • add the egg wash to the prepared eggs
  • pull the OJ out of the freezer, open it, up-end it in the pitcher
  • put the bacon on a platter for reheating in the microwave
  • get the fruit out of the fridge, use a melon baller on the melons
  • last, cook the eggs
Allie then helped me by:
  • adding water to the OJ and stirring diligently till the frozen concentrate was thoroughly mixed in (I love making the OJ at the last minute like this. You get cold OJ without having it take up room in the fridge)
  • putting washed grapes in the fruit cut
  • drizzling the glaze on the scones
It was a yummy meal, if I do say so myself, and I was so relaxed and able to the interact with everyone. So, I record this menu because I want to remember to do it again!

So you want to go to India!

For the past several months, I’ve been “on call,” waiting to hear that India has approved the adoption of my soon-to-be niece, Hope Aradhana. When she gets The Call, Nanette will spin into action, making plane and hotel reservations for approximately two weeks later. It’s good we have more than two weeks to plan for this trip, though, because there are an amazing number of details that need to be managed before going to India, not least of which is to apply for (and hopefully receive) a visa. I thought it might be helpful to blog all the details, for my own future use if I ever return, or for others who might be contemplating going. What to do in preparation? What to bring? What to wear? Here’s what I’ve learned.

First order of business: get your visa! This assumes, of course, that you already have a passport. If not, then get your passport! moves to the top of the list. To apply for a visa to go to India, you will need:

  • Application form for visa, completed.

  • The appropriate fee (at this writing, $60) in a cashier’s check.

  • Your original passport, which must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of intended departure from India

  • An extra passport-sized photo pasted on the application. By the way, you don’t need to go to any special place to get this photo. I printed one in the appropriate size from a nice head shot I had of myself.

If you cannot hand-carry these items to an Indian Consulate office, you can mail them. Of course, you will want to send them by certified or express mail, and you will need to include appropriate postage to get them returned the same way. Consult the Indian Consulate website for details. There actually appear to be several Indian Consulates throughout the US; we used the one in NYC. Its website has all the information you need to get your visa. It also can direct you to the other Consulates. Look for their Where To Apply For Consular Services page.
If all this seems to be too hard, search for “India visa” on the web. You’ll find many services that will help you for a fee. I haven’t done that, so I can’t recommend any.

Ok, now you have your visa. Now what?

Next, you want to find a good travel book, which will orient you to the vast complexity that is India. Over 1 billion people as of 2001, compared to just under 300 million for the US. The population of New Delhi is 13.8 million. The largest city in the US, New York City, is around 8 million. It’s home to hundreds of religions and sects, close to 100 different languages. It’s a wiiiiiiiild and crazy place!

Some practical things you’ll want to consider, traveling to India from the US (sorry, that’s the only perspective I can offer):

The electricity is 240v, so you’ll need not only an adapter but a step-down converter if you want to use any of your electronics.They come in a variety of wattages (I say this as if I have a clue what I’m talking about!), so you’ll want to know what appliances you’ll be bringing and what wattage they require. For instance, some hairdryers can pull as much as 1800 watts (more?), so you’ll need a converter that can handle high wattage and also lower wattage for a travel clock radio or an electric shaver.

I found a great converter kit with a set of adapters on Ebay for a total cost of just under $20 including shipping.It can manage 50W to 1600W. That about does it for me! Of course, I haven’t used it, yet, so we’ll soon see if it was a bargain. See an example here.

The flight to India is long, usually with at least one stopover. You might want to consider bringing some snacks with you. In recent years, I’ve found the sound of the engines become very wearying on long flights. This trip, I’ve purchased some excellent headphones and an adapter that will let them fit into the funny little two-pronged outlets in planes, in hopes of finding something to listen to that will engage my hearing without wearying it. The headphones also fit comfortably and closely on the ears (called “closed-design”) and have a noise-cancelling option (requires batteries), so perhaps for once I will be able to watch a movie on a plane without the need for using one or both hands to press the earphones to my ears!

If you’re thinking about shopping in India, then be sure you travel very lightly unless you want to ship some items home. Many airlines only permit 50 pounds per bag now, with a 2-bag limit.

For women, you might want to consider bringing only one or two changes of clothes appropriate to the time of year you’re there. Tailors in India purportedly will take your measurements one day and have the items sent to your hotel for you the next day. You may be more comfortable wearing the sort of clothing Indians customarily wear. If you’re not up for a tummy-baring sari, the pajama-like Punjabi suit might do.

... to be continued ...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Fun tests!!

Your Personality Profile

You are happy, driven, and status conscious.
You want everyone to know how successful you are.
Very logical, you see life as a game of strategy.

A bit of a loner, you prefer to depend on yourself.
You always keep your cool and your composure.
You are a born leader and business person.

Your Haloween Costume Should Be

A Bumble Bee

Your Brain's Pattern

You have a tempered, reasonable way of thinking.
You tend to take every new idea in, and meld it with your world view.
For you, everything is always changing. Each moment is different.
Your thinking process tends to be very natural - with no beginnings or endings.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Think Pesto

I chopped my basil plants basically to the ground today. I have more basil than I know what to do with! Four big vases full, plus one giant bowl that will be made into pesto shortly.

Fresh basil goes for $14.99 a pount around here. I wonder how many pounds this is? Probably one or two. It takes a lot of basil to weigh a pound.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Note to self

I'm mostly posting these pics as an aid to my own memory. In the spring when the soil is bare and the plants are just sending up their first leaves, it's hard to remember what the perennials looked like versus weeds! And I have some new plants this year, so I'm posting detail photos to help me remember their leaves.

I removed the eupatorium and moved a few strands of helopsis into its spot, which shows as a big blank spot over on the right side of the garden in the second picture. There's still room for something to its left. That spot hasn't been very good for plants so far. I had a baptisia that died there, then some white phlox that also died. I've replaced the soil and maybe should try something really tough like wild daisies. Not sure.

The liatris are almost unnoticeable in front of the bee balm. Consider moving them.

The cleome were a late-season standout! Although they're annuals, they'll come back because they self-seed prolifically. This is what their leaves look like.

The foxgloves bloomed this year, so next year they'll only put up foliage from the seeds. Here's a shot of their foliage. They can stay in this spot this summer, but for the following summer they need to be further forward and close together so they can be seen.

Divide stella d'oros in late summer,

Consider buddleia for bare spot.

Stake catmint, pink phlox, chives, poppies. Wild daisies?

I transplanted this poppy a couple of years ago, and it gave me two blooms this year. Can't wait to see what it will do next year! Here we see it surrounded by wild daisy plants.

Directly to left of the white phlox are some rudbeckia from the church, planted just yesterday. Their leaves look a little like violets when they first emerge.

If iris don't produce this year, consider removing them

I'm not sure what I think of these grasses. Maybe transplant them to the meadow?

The wild yarrow is pretty nondescript at this time of the year, but it blooms at a time in later summer when there's not much else going on. I have some white yarrow in front of the white phlox, and I tried to transplant some of the brilliant pink that had sprung up in the meadow, just behind it. Not sure if it will survive.

I love the way it kind of weaves around whatever else it's near. It's not much of a fighter, so I have to be on guard against marauding bee balm, which does try to take over all nearby territory!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A. W. Tozer rocks!

Steps To Personal Revival

1) Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is a stagnant soul. When speaking of earthly goods Paul could say, "I have learned to be content"; but when referring to his spiritual life he testified, "I press on toward the goal." "So stir up the gift of God that is in thee."

2) Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life. Timid experiments are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God. "The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."

3) Put yourself in the way of blessing. It's a mistake to expect God's help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them. To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion, is to wish one way and walk another.

4) Do a thorough job of repenting. Hasty repentance means a shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.

5) Make restitution wherever possible. If you owe a debt pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so your honesty will be above question. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible, make the crooked things straight.

6) Bring your life into accord with the Sermon on the Mount and other such New Testament Scriptures as are designed to instruct us in the way of righteousness. An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what's wrong with him quickly. I recommend that the self-examination be made on our knees rising to obey God's commandments as they are revealed to us from the Word. There is nothing romantic or colorful about this plain, downright way of dealing with ourselves, but it gets the work done. Isaac's workmen did not look like heroic figures as they digged in the valley, but they got the wells open, and that was what they had set out to do.

7) Be serious-minded. You can well afford to see fewer comedy shows on TV. Unless you break away from the funny boys, every spiritual impression will continue to be lost to your heart, and that right in your own living room. The people of the world used to go to the movies to escape serious thinking about God and religion. You would not join them there, but you now enjoy spiritual communion with them in your own home. The devil's ideals, moral standards, and mental attitudes are being accepted by you without your knowing it. And you wonder why you can make no progress in your Christian life. There must be a radical change in your habits, or there will not be any permanent improvement in your interior life.

8) Deliberately narrow your interests. The jack-of-all-trades is the master of none. The Christian life requires that we be specialists. Too many projects use up time and energy without bringing us nearer to God.

If you will narrow your interests, God will enlarge your heart. "Jesus only" seems to the unconverted man to be the motto of death, but a great company of happy men and women can testify that it became to them a way into a world infinitely wider and richer than anything they had ever known before. Christ is the essence of all wisdom, beauty and virtue. To know Him in growing intimacy is to increase in appreciation of all things good and beautiful. The mansions of the heart will become larger when the doors are thrown open to Christ and closed against the world and sin. Try it.

9) Begin to witness. Find something to do for God, and your fellow men. Refuse to rust out. Make yourself available to your pastor and do anything you are asked to do. Do not insist upon a position of leadership. Learn to obey. Take the low place until God sees fit to set you in a higher one. Back your new intentions with your money and your gifts, such as they are.

10) Have faith in God. Begin to expect. Look up toward the throne where your Advocate sits at the right hand of God. All heaven is on your side. God will not disappoint you.

If you will follow these suggestions you will most surely experience revival in your own heart. And who can tell how far it may spread? God knows how desperately the church needs a spiritual resurrection. And it can only come through the revived individual.
-A. W. Tozer, "The Size of The Soul"

Monday, September 19, 2005

Two times two = ...

Two-year-old twins! Happy birthday Jae & Jo!!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Late green beans

Here we are in late September, getting more pickings of green beans! Believe it or not, we're even still getting beans off our bush beans (on the right). The pole beans are of course more prolific later in the season. I'm just pleased to still have fresh beans at all!

Time to fire up the blancher and put another bag of beans in the freezer for T's lunches this winter ... :o)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

$3 gas update

Gas prices have fallen; have you noticed?  And yours truly was able to nurse the two-week-old tank of gas along until they did.  Yes, I am still a $3-per-gallon virgin.  :o)  I filled up today at $2.989.  Much to my chagrin, I later saw $2.939 … in Hanover, of all places, which is usually the priciest town in the area!

Skunked and loving it

Lately, we've noticed little divots in our yard, as if miniature woodland creatures had been struggling with their tiny 7 irons in our fairway. T was pretty sure we had a skunk assisting us with maggot removal during the night, much to the detriment of our yard. Sure enough, last night he was doing his shoulder exercises (which involve trapping the end of a huge rubber band in a closed door. The physical therapist recently has been upping the strength of the rubber band. I hope he knows what he's doing, because that door's glass and I don't want to see T smeared up against it or pulled bodily through it!) ... now, where was I? Oh, yeah, so T had his rubber band trapped in the back door and was facing the back yard when Mr. Skunk sauntered into place and began nosing around ... literally. Rooting up maggots with his nose. Through our grass. Leaving divots.

Never one to miss a fauna photo op (hey! you think we should have tried to scare him away? You city person, you!) I ran for the camera, went into the spare bedroom where the vantage point is best and one window already has the screen removed, and carefully cranked the window open, trying to be quiet. Unfortunately, our humid weather had swelled the wood some, so it made a little "pop!" sound. Mr Skunk promptly executes a little hop in place a la Pepe Le Pew (I'm so sure I'm spelling that wrong, correct me somebody please!) and dashes under the deck. Very sad. New camera, a rather gorgeous skunk, and no photo op. Sigh.

An hour later, when T is in bed, I see Mr. Skunk again. The window in the bedroom is already open, so I somewhat nervously tiptoe in to take the pictures, hoping against hope that Mr. Skunk isn't afraid of sudden lights going off near him. In which case, neither T nor I will get any sleep for the stink of it all! But the story has a happy ending. Other than the occasional lifted tail, and maybe one slight warning shot (or was that my nervous imagination?), we all cooperated peacably enough. Luckily for me, Simba didn't figure out what was going on till I was nearly finished. Then he decided to growl at the back door, and I hastily closed the window and snatched him away before he could hurt Mr. Skunk's feelings. And all our nasal cavities.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A new obsession

Just start reading Mimi Smartypants. You won't stop. I especially love the image of ... oh, I guess I don't want to type it. Without reading the whole thing, it will sound tawdry. Just go here and search for the word "fundamentalist". No, it's not anti-Christian, it's just downright hilarious!

My Word!!

Much as I love Blogger, using the web-based composing windows is a bit of a challenge. Extra lines get inserted where I don’t want them, font selection is limited unless you edit the HTML, you can’t do nested lists (again, unless you edit the HTML), etc., etc., etc!

So … have you heard about the Blogger for Word add-on? I’m composing this post in Word. When I’m done, I will push the “publish” button and the post will be on my blog. It’s pretty slick! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

P.S. I just tested using Word to create a nested list. No luck. So I guess I’ll still be hand-editing those lists!


T is leaving Friday for a conference in San Francisco. He’ll be gone 10 days, swinging by Phoenix on the way home to visit his sisters. I love this man. He’s so into his family. It’s great.

A female colleague and friend of his who is not attending the conference passed on to him an invitation for an all expenses paid evening at a club called Bimbo’s 365.

His response (via email): I don’t think Pat would approve of my going to an establishment with the word “bimbo” in its name.

Her droll reply: She’s such a drag.


Seriously, I told him I wouldn't mind if he went, since it appears to be just a night club. As it turns out, he has another expenses-paid event that night. These conferences are such boondoggles. But double seriously, folks, who on earth invites a businesswoman (never mind a man!), especially one you barely know, to a club with a name like that? Would you invite a business colleague to Hooters? Come on!

So I did a little research, and found it’s not so bad. Check out the background for the organization. Ok, Ok, I guess it’s legit. Mostly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

$3 gas?? Naaaah!

I am pleased to report that I have yet to pay $3 for gas. On Thursday, September 1, just after Katrina hit, I filled my gas tank with gas that had already crept up to $2.79. Since then, I've been a miser. We drove to Jaffrey, NH and back over Labor Day weekend, crawling along at 55mph and watching the rest of the world fly past us in the left lane. Actually, that's not totally true ... there were a few fellow gas savers on the road. Some of them barely passed us going 60 or so.

Since returning, I've taken absolutely no road trips unless I had an appointment somewhere. When I did have an appointment, I made sure to optimize my route so I could do all my errands with no backtracking, no extra miles. My gas tank is nearly empty, but I haven't had to fill it yet, and the price of gas is dropping!

With careful driving, I can get 450 miles out of our 16-gallon gas tank.

Yes, I'm a cheapskate, but more than that, I really believe in conserving gas. Our next car will be a hybrid or some similar gas-saving technology ... and it's not this gas crisis that is impelling us to say that. I told the salesman who sold us our current Subaru in 2001, Alfie, that our next car would be a hybrid, and I hoped it would be a Subaru hybrid, but our brand loyalty was not so strong that we would buy a Subaru if they didn't make hybrids when it came time to buy. We intend to buy an all-wheel-drive hybrid, and hopefully not an SUV but a truly conservative car.

I will say, though, that these gas prices have led Todd to consider whether he should be driving something to work that gets better gas mileage than his 1979 Ford F150!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Chatty twins

Pam and Patty happily chatting with a friend during the Labor Day Family Weekend at Monadnock Bible Conference.

It was a nice weekend for all of us. Great to get away from the daily grind for three days (at the unbelievable price of $125 per person, all meals and snacks included!). They're not posh accommodations, but they don't need to be. Todd's family has been doing this since he was 10. That's a lot of years!

It gave me the time to start reading A.W. Tozer's The Size of the Soul. Highly recommend it! It's a collection of his editorials from his stint as the editor of his denominational magazine, so each chapter is about the same number of words (I haven't counted, but they're about 3 pages long) and so packed with stuff to think about it. I give it the highest compliment by saying this isn't a book you would read quickly. One or two chapters make you want to stop and digest what you've read. Awesome.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Simba on Rodent Patrol

Simba loves to chase squirrels, and he never catches them, so I encourage it. It's great exercise for him and, truth be told, I find the squirrels a little pesky. Especially those dratted red squirrels, who sound off at all hours of the morning, even when they must surely know we're all trying to sleep. So, I'm certain Simba's attentions help keep the numbers down and that's a good thing.

This shot was taken after he had successfully cleared the yard of rodents of all colors. He often then comes up on the deck so he can scan the yard to be sure nobody else needs chasing.

I'm letting his coat grow out from previous clippings, and you can see in this picture that it's starting to get nice and feathery. Soft as silk, too. :o) [click the picture to see it full-sized]

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy toes.

One of the first things I took a picture of with my new digital camera is my happy Marilyn-Monroe-red-toenailed toes. It's crazy how much I enjoy looking at my bare toes with their red paint, but there you are. I guess I'm crazy. Thought I would share some of that craziness with you! Now that I have a digital camera (wish I could take a picture of it to show you!) I have no doubt my blogging entries will be much more frequent ... for better or for worse!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My two little grand-nieces are certainly above-average cute, wouldn't you agree? That's Jordan on the top, and Jaedyn. They're fraternal twins. Delicious!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Simba, nose down

I love it when Simba sleeps with his nose between his paws. Click the picture to see it larger. And I ask you, is this dog color-coordinated perfectly with my house, or what?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hot, hot, hot!

We have had quite a spell of steamy weather lately. Normal for this time of year is in the 80's, and we've been in the 90's for over a week. And it's been all the more uncomfortable because of high humidity and afternoon storms, so we're all a bit frizzy and frazzled. Even Simba has taken to spending most of his time lying on his back, I assume because it exposes what little bare skin he has!

Relaxed & cool ...
Yep, he's a boy, all right.