Wow, how fast does the time go? Maybe I am just getting older. It is already mid September. Yikes! We have had a few chilly nights but the days are still sunny and bright. The leaves are turning, but today it is 90 degrees. I call this time "Halcyon Days." Here in Illinois, the Halcyon Days are so lovely your heart aches just to be alive.
Here are a few shots I took a couple weeks ago at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg:
There is no news on my plan of selling my condo and moving to the City. My realtor is averaging a year to sell -- and he is a great realtor. It's pretty frustrating. I am getting sick of camping out in my own home and I am missing my dog. Other signs of the horrible economy include an incredibly high rate of foreclosures, many of my loved ones and acquaintances still being out of work since last winter, and more. Everyone seems to be limping along, just lucky to squeak by these days.
Luckily Stephanie has found a new job (after being out of work for 6 months, which is unacceptable considering her resumé) and is very happy as the Director of Circulation at Northlake Public Library. She and Louis have persuaded me to consider graduate school at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. UIUC has the top program in the country and also has an online degree program. Rather than moving to Southern IL, I would just have to go down there once or twice a semester. I have been doing research into the program, the jobs available right now, and I have started working on my application to the University and for scholarships. The applications involve meeting and interviewing people in the field and writing essays based on my results. Since I have a degree in Anthropology already, this is more fun than work for me.
I recently received a package and letter from Christen. She is still in Kansas and still hates living there. She has been talking about returning to school to train for a new job. I believe Stephie found her an online university program as well. We are very excited to have Chris finally going to college!
Mom and Wally are doing well. They recently purchased all new furniture for the living room, and tossed out the temporary pieces they bought 5 years ago. They are planning another vacation to Las Vegas this winter.
Joe and Char and Jake are also doing well. Jake has turned 5, but I believe he will not be going to kindergarten until next fall. He is attending preschool now and learning to write his name.
In other news, my latest hobby is...COOKING! After all these years of Kitchen Phobia I have finally learned to cook and to enjoy it. I have learned just in the past couple of weeks, in fact. Here are a few dishes I have made thus far:
Bombay Shrimp with Chickpeas and Tomatoes in a Yogurt Curry Sauce
Verdict: Delish! I don't even like tomatoes. I used vanilla yogurt rather than plain, by mistake, and it make all the difference. 4 stars with a big Wow factor
Ginger Pork Chops in a Strawberry Lemonade Sauce
Verdict: Yum! The sauce was incredibly tart and fresh on the mellow porkchops. 4 stars and a big Wow factor
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Verdict: Absolutely perfect with the pork. The fresh greens work with the tart strawberry sauce and the goat cheese smooths the sharp flavors. 4 stars
Lemon Basil Bowties
Verdict: Fantastic! So incredibly yummy, with or without added chicken, and so very easy. I have made this a second time for a party and it got raves. I will make this again and again. 5 stars
Beef Scallion Rolls with Rice, in a Soy Beer Sauce
Verdict: Very very good. I didn't understand the recipe quite right. This needs a lot of scallions and a lot of cucumber. The fresh greens take the edge off the salty flavors. The sauce smells disgusting but tastes fantastic. 4 stars and worth trying to make again
Cheesy Chili Hot Dogs in Beach Blankets
Verdict: Wow! I made 8 servings and ate these for lunch, dinner, even breakfast! Great for kids! I will make these again and again. 5 stars
Chopped Chicken Taco Salad
Verdict: Tasty but dangerous. The recipe did not sound appetizing -- black beans, avocado, lime juice, cheddar cheese and salt on a salad? Yuck. But it was so good that I ate 2 large servings when I made it. Then I discovered there was a problem. I do not recommend eating this without an amuse bouche of BEANO. 2 stars and it does not work for leftovers
My latest attempt...
Chicken and Pear Turnovers
Verdict: They didn't come out quite right, because I bought phillo dough instead of puff pastry. So I got a sort of chicken-tarragon-pear burrito. Tasty, but I want to try the puff pastry. 2 stars and worth trying to make again.
I have also made Cheesy Zucchini Boats which were also tasty but which did not come out right. I have repurchased the ingrediants and will try remaking these this weekend.
I have purchased a Japanese chef's knife online and am waiting for it to arrive before I try again. I need a better knife with all this hand chopping I am doing.
I am having such a good time with cooking, that for my birthday in a few weeks, instead of being taken out to dinner in a chi chi restaurant, I am having a dinner party at my house and cooking for everyone! Right now I am considering menus. There are so many options, so many things I want to try. Yum.
Wishing you all a lovely fall, wherever you may be.