Monday, August 31, 2015

A Heart's Home


We've come to Book Six in Colleen Coble's wonderful series, Journey of the Heart. "A Heart's Home" completes our journey with Emmie, Sarah, Isaac and Rand. We've traveled with them from the farms of Indiana to the plains of the Wyoming Territory and they've all found a place in my heart. When I wrote about Book Five, "A Heart's Promise," I asked Colleen Coble for a sequel. I am eager to know how my beloved friends fared in the next phase of their lives, as they settled the American West. Please, Colleen, don't disappoint me.

I've so enjoyed this saga of faith, romance and history and am sad to see it finished. Happily there are other books by Colleen Coble and several other books from The Litfuse Group that I will be writing about in the next few months. Thanks, for good reading. I'll miss you, but you've all made a home in my heart. 

I know fall is quickly happening, but I'm embracing the not-so-balmy -- it was 91 degrees in New York City today -- end of summer. The market nearby has wonderful peaches and plum tomatoes and the first apples are starting to appear. I'm in the midst of a book organizing project and I bought the shelves I was looking for today. I hope this will be my year of organization. I definitely want to use the next four months to make a little more order in my apartment.

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a terrific Tuesday!

Please note: I was given a copy of "A Heart's Home" by the Ltfuse Group for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Delicious Maine Pink Saturday

The wonderful Pink Saturday has now officially become Anything Goes Pink Saturday. I appreciate the freedom to post more widely, but I have so enjoyed looking for my favorite color, that I am going to continue the search and my pink posts. I didn't find a lot of pink in Maine, but I do have one pink picture to share and in what I know will be popular, photographs of some of my favorite eating adventures ever. I've -- more or less -- returned to a less indulgent diet, but the memories of meals in Maine linger on.

     Though this isn't food, it was one of our first stops after I landed in Portland. It was the first of several farm stand visits -- corn, blueberries and tomatoes were at the top of the shopping list -- and the pink glads caught my attention.  
 
I am a lobster fan, but no more so than when I am at the shore. Our first lobster meal was at McLoons in South Thomaston, Maine. This is lobster country and we walked to the restaurant from the cottage.
 
The lobster roll was a treat, served with a butter in a toasted roll, chips and homemade slaw. We split a piece of peach for dessert, but in a moment of restraint skipped the a la mode. 
 

I was always on the lookout for blueberry pie, but the peach was delicious. 
 
The food was a treat, but the setting on the water was an equal delight.

The fog was beginning to roll in. It would linger for the next four days.
 
It stayed throughout our visit to Bar Harbor and Jordan Pond House at Acadia National Park. Cadillac Mountain at Acadia and most of the scenery on our boat ride to Little Cranberry Island were hidden in mists of fog, but I still saw some fabulous scenery and it didn't diminish the quality of the food.
 
One of the treats of the Jordan Pond House is their popovers and I ate mine before I thought to take photographs. My entree was a delicious fish chowder -- haddock, clams and scallops -- and dessert was blueberry crisp with homemade ice cream. It's one of my most memorable meals anywhere, and the dessert is definitely one of the most photogenic. 
 

Fish chowder and blueberry tea -- Maine food at its best.
 
And yes, it is as good as it looks.
 
The best (lightly) fried fish and onion rings imaginable. I like onion rings, but for calories, and the disappointment of frozen onion rings, I rarely eat them. But I am so glad I made an exception for these homemade and fabulous ones at Cindy's in Freeport. We stopped here on the way to the airport for my trip home. A perfect culinary farewell to my visit to Maine. 
 
 
This post could well turn into a dissertation, and I will just mention blueberry pancakes in Port Clyde and clam strips in South Thomaston. It's no wonder that I have had a tough week returning to a less calorie laden eating style. But return I have and just in time to keep my clothes zipping. I've got my first apple sauce of the season simmering on the stove. I'm not rushing fall, but the new apples look so good.
 
I hope everyone is enjoying this summer weekend. My prayers for all who may be in Erika's path. As ever thanks for visiting and have a sweet Saturday.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

(Sort of) Back on Track Again

I thought returning from a week in New England would be the easiest vacation transition possible. There would be no time zone changes and the flight was only an hour and a half. There were no language changes and the currency was dollars. But from the moment I saw my first tidal pool I had entered a different world, as surely as if I had gone half way around the world.

The view from the cabin on my first night in Maine

I had the very good fortune to visit a college friend who has had a cabin on Spruce Head Island for the last thirty years. She planned a wonderful week, with lots to see, as well as time to enjoy the ever-changing and always beautiful scenery. It was a trip I wouldn't have been able to make on my own. I would have had no idea what was down any of the dirt roads we traveled, and I would have missed so many moments that made the week so special.

The setting sun taken during a walk on the first night of my visit.
I'm happy I took a lot of pictures that evening. The four days that followed were foggy and I didn't see many sunsets like this one again. 

South Thomaston, Maine. This was one of my favorite views. Water everywhere and the Methodist Church on the right.
 
It wouldn't be a proper photo album of Maine without a lighthouse picture. This is the Marshall Point Lighthouse. We stopped here after a visit to Port Clyde and Sunday morning blueberry pancakes.
 
 

 
 
Now my scenery looks closer to this subway picture and my diet is much simpler than the delicious blueberry pancakes. I indulged mightily during this vacation and getting back to less indulgent eating is mandatory. I've grocery shopped, sorted laundry, gone to the bank and even made it to the gym today. It's back to Weight Watchers tomorrow morning and the reality of fried clams and blueberry pancakes. But it's also moments, many moments of remembering the light on the water. As with so many vacation memories they drift back when I don't expect them and I have returned to Maine in my heart. 
 
I'm planning to do two more posts about my visit to Maine. One will focus on the food -- one of the best eating vacations ever -- and another on some of the places we visited, with links. 
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a sweet day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday -- The View from Spruce Head Island, Maine


We're two hours north of Portland and I am delighting in friendship, lobster, blueberries and Andrew Wyeth paintings. Next stop tomorrow, Acadia National Park.

As, ever thanks for visiting and take good care.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What I Learned on my Summer Staycation

Some people might ask why I needed a staycation. Isn't retirement a permanent staycation? And I will answer, yes. I have been on a staycation for the last 26 months. But even though I'm no longer on the subway each weekday morning at 8:15 and I am able to do my errands at the very civilized hour of noon, life can still settle into a routine. Exactly where I found myself last Tuesday.

So I stopped the routine and took a staycation. For a few days I stopped going to the gym and I stopped blogging. I did minimal errands and I threw my routine out the window. It felt great. I did get to Weight Watchers, walked miles in place of the gym and took lots of pictures for blog posts. I tucked away my planner, ate cookies and let myself dream. For five days I broke out of my routine and thought and dreamed about what I'd like to do, not what I needed to do.

The results weren't that wild, but I enjoyed the summer air instead of the gym and thought of travel ideas that were long buried. I realized I'd scheduled a lot of things when I retired -- I am a scheduler -- but I forgot to schedule my dreams. I don't think I'll make that mistake again.

The rooftops of Manhattan 
 
 
Tomorrow afternoon I leave for a Maine -- time with a friend of long-standing, blueberries, lobster and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I promise you photographs, but I can't say when. I may be away from internet connectivity and that could be a very nice break, too. 
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a sweet week!
 
 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Madison Avenue Pink Saturday

I took a very unplanned, but equally restorative, staycation this week. I'll write more about it in a post later this week, but one of the things I did do was a long -- almost three mile -- walk along Madison Avenue. I didn't do any buying, but I had a good time window shopping and taking pictures for Pink Saturday. There were some fabulous pretty-in-pink sights all along the street.

Vive l'ete -- Long live summer!


One of my first stops -- window shopping only, no calories -- was at one of my favorite places, Laduree. The macarons were, as always, tempting, but I had miles to walk and pictures to take and I kept walking.

I'm sad to say I don't remember which major designer had this pretty bouquet grace his/her window. I loved the bouquet, but I also liked the reflection of Madison Avenue in the window. If you look carefully, you can see my sneakers in the reflection, bottom center of the photograph.

   Thank you, Missoni, for an all pink window. Generally the designer windows are too high style for this senior citizen blogger, but I like the floral dress. I think it would be just right for a summer garden wedding.
 
While we're thinking of weddings, here is a photo of a pale blush -- or is it gold? -- gown in the Vera Wang window. Madison Avenue goings on and the photographer are reflected in the window.
 
This is only for window shopping and definitely for Pink Saturday.
 
I'm definitely back from my staycation state of mind. I'm blogging, doing errands and in a little while I'll be back in the gym. I did a lot of walking outside, but gave myself a few days off from formal exercise. Now it's time to return. Sleeveless dresses definitely call for some time with weights. 
 
I hope you're having a sweet Sunday. As ever thanks for visiting, and take care!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Irises and Roses Pink Saturday...

...sort of. My plan for this week's Pink Saturday post was to share photographs of the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Van Gogh: Irises and Roses.  It's a small exhibit, with two paintings of irises and two paintings of roses, and I thought that would make a perfect post. Alas, no photography was permitted and this was the closest photo I could take. 
 
A distant view of one of the Iris paintings. 
 
 I did capture all four paintings -- somewhat -- at the gift shop. One of the main themes of the works was contrast and I was especially taken with both iris paintings.
 
"Van Gogh: Irises and Roses" was displayed in a section of the museum that houses the Lehman collection. The collection includes Nineteenth and Twentieth Century European paintings. I found several others to share and they even included some pink.
 I've walked through this section many times, but this is the first time I've really observed Georges Braque's "House behind Trees." I was engaged by both the composition and the color. 
 

This is one of my favorite paintings by Renoir. Though it's titled Two Girls at the Piano, I always think of them as two sisters enjoying an evening of music.
 
I was once again entranced by another Matisse depiction of a woman in a shawl.
 
The Lehman Collection architecture is extraordinary and one of my favorite places to spend time in the museum.
 
I hope you've enjoyed our return visit to the Metropolitan Museum. My visit was the high point of the weekend. I spent a lot of today decluttering and put together three bags of clothes to give away. I'm happy to say that almost all of them are too big. My first stop tomorrow morning is the Salvation Army. I thought I'd gone through my closet and drawers carefully in the past year, but there was a lot to pack up. I resolve to be very careful when I buy new clothes and choose very, very wisely. Some items I'd worn a lot, but there were a few others that had barely been off the hanger.
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a sweet week!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summer's Bounty

Between Weight Watchers, exercise and trying -- and generally succeeding -- to eat healthier, I've spent less time this year eating out and more time visiting my local fruit and vegetable stand. There's a lot more than fruit and vegetables, but I've found the local market has a terrific assortment of local and organic produce. This isn't always easy to get and especially at prices comparable, or better, than supermarkets.

Today's bounty included some real treasures. I only came away with two peaches from an orchard in New Jersey. These are among the best peaches I've ever had and I wait for them to be in season, a wait that's so worth it. But I was entranced by these beautiful tomatoes from Pennsylvania. I resisted buying them, as I've found I need to buy only what I can use in a few days and dislike letting any of these jewels go to waste. I've also been snacking on the red peppers. They're not local, but so healthy and delicious. 


A lot of the fruit in the back row is shipped from California, but there were also plums and apricots from Long Island. The farms of Long Island are rapidly disappearing, but there are fabulous farm stands there, and especially good corn at this time of year.

But I still do get around the city and keep an eye for goodies to share with my Buttercupland friends. Yesterday I was at the dentist and even though I was there less than a month ago I noticed a new and very elegant pastry and sandwich restaurant, Francois Payard Bakery, a couple of blocks away. I settled for an iced coffee but the temptation was enormous to try a piece of cake...

Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors.
 
 ...Or buy a jar of jam to take home. Though very simple I was taken with the packaging and the Wild Strawberry called out to me. 
 
 
The product that was most appealing were the ice cream sandwiches made with Payard's signature macarons. I resisted, but I'm thinking of returning before the end of the summer. Happily, I don't have another dental appointment until December, but I think this sweet is worth a trip. I'm debating whether I would pick Salted Caramel or Espresso Brownie, but I'm leaning to the Espresso Brownie. Which flavor would you choose?  
 
There were beautiful cakes and tarts, but the ice cream sandwiches went to the top of my list.   
 
I'm keeping cool dreaming of ice cream sandwiches. I hope the thoughts keeping you cool are equally sweet. As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a sweet Thursday! 




Sunday, August 2, 2015

Metropolitan Museum of Art Pink Saturday

I'm happy to return to China: Through the Looking Glass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for our  Pink Saturday adventure today. As I was walking through the exhibit last week I saw a few items that were on exhibit that called out to me to be part of a Pink Saturday post.

This designer piece would have captured my attention even if it wasn't pink. It's not for every day wear, but would be the show-stopper on any fashion runway. The picture below is a different perspective on the same outfit.
 
 

 


The non-designer counterpart is this extraordinary Nineteenth Chinese century shawl.  
 
A similar shawl is painted in this beautiful work, Manila Shawl, by Henri Matisse.
 
 
For a view of something totally different I fell in love with these American Colonial dresses with Chinese influence. The motif in the print in the dresses is evocative of the beautiful design of the wallpaper. 
 

 
The exhibit has been extended until mid-September and I think I will definitely need a return visit. Though there's a Van Gogh show I'm eager to see and a show of works by John Singer Sargent, one of my favorite painters, I don't think once is enough for "China: Through the Looking Glass." 
 
Today was a lovely summer day in New York City. I visited a very different museum and had a terrific time. In addition to the exhibits I had a fun lunch and a nice walk through the neighborhood where I worked before I retired, and I am very happy to be blogging two days in a row. 
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a sweet week!  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Heart's Promise


Before I begin chatting about "A Heart's Promise," the latest section of Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series, I am formally asking Colleen Coble for more. I am thankful that there is one more book left in the six part series, but friends, it's not enough. I want more. I want to know what happens next in the lives of Emmie and Sarah and the characters that I've been following for the last five months. What will their lives be like living in the Wyoming Territory? Please, Colleen, as Oliver Twist requested, "More!"

"A Heart's Promise" brings us back to the Wyoming Territory and particularly to Fort Phil Kearny. It is now October, 1866. The Civil War has barely ended and the next chapter of American History, the movement west across the Great Plains, is going forward. The book opens with snow drifting in to the temporary housing for Emmie Croftner at the Fort. I read "A Heart's Promise" on some of the hottest days of the summer and the writing was so evocative that I could almost feel the chill as I read. This latest book in the saga did not disappoint me. It had the plot twists that I've learned to expect in this series and held my interest fully. Once again there is romance, history and faith blended into a quick reading book. The characters continue to tug at my heart and I'm eager to know where the next bend in the road will take them, both literally and emotionally.

Though reading about snow felt terrific, I am trying to enjoy the days of summer, heat included. I spent today in the West Village -- Greenwich Village on the west side of Manhattan -- and tomorrow is a museum excursion to Queens. I'm so enjoying warm weather -- even very warm weather -- and trying to hold on to long light-filled days. I'm going to embrace August, humidity and all, and try to find good times in it every day.

As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a sweet August! 

Please note: I was given a copy of  "A Heart's Promise" by the Litfuse Publicity Group for review purposes, but the opinions are all mine.