Sorry. There is so much going on at The House on High Street lately that I cannot keep up with the posts.
In a nutshell, the plaster has been fixed, the trim has been completed, and Scott even did beautiful wainescoting in the Master Bathroom. Can I just say, WOW! In addition, we’ve hired painters and tile-installers to add color to the walls and tile to the bathrooms, kitchen pantry, and laundry room.
Scott’s been doing all the supervising, managing, and cleaning (after every single job, there is dust and debris, etc.) And throughout every step, there are a few hundred decisions and phone calls to be made…and errands to be run. (Now, you know why Scott and I require frequent overnight get-aways. It’s our very much needed quality time.)
Here is a video and some pics of the main rooms in the house dressed with paint. We decided to start with a classic clean slate for the major rooms in the house. Don’t worry, the color is coming with the furniture, window treatments, and decor.
As you can see, we had fun with color on the third floor. Scott loves the color I picked out for his office. It’s a midnight blue which will look beautiful once adorned with his art work…Oh, and that fabulous red chair we picked up at a garage sale.
We are already getting visitors who are chomping at the bit to see what’s going on in the house. Some are traveling all the way from Miami! Crazy, right?
Well, my next post for The House on High Street should include all the rooms with tile. Meanwhile, we are getting ready for floors, bathroom vanities, and lighting fixtures. Soon after that will come the sunroom and RACHEL MARIA’S KITCHEN!! Are you getting hungry, yet? I know I am!
Today, I spent the afternoon with my dear friend, Ellen. She invited me to have lunch at her lovely home and enjoy her beautiful pool and hot-tub. We had such a wonderful afternoon catching up while floating on two over-sized lounge chairs in her kidney shaped pool.
It’s hard for me to relax sometimes, but I’m always so comfortable at Ellen’s house. She is an amazing host. At one point this afternoon, I became distracted by the most beautiful display of flowers all around her backyard. When I asked if I could take some photos for my blog, she graciously took me around the house to see every plant arrangement up close while explaining how her husband tends to each one, keeping the flowers magnificently robust with his green thumb.
These flowers reminded me of one of the first lessons I taught to a class of second graders as their student-teacher. I was still in college doing my practicum when I was asked to prepare a Science lesson about bees and pollination. Believe it or not, I created a faux flowering plant with art paper to use as a simulated activity for the students to act as bees. (I remember it took me hours to write up this lesson.)
During the lesson, I read a story about bees. I used a poster to teach about the 3 body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen; thus making it an “insect”). The book also explained how bees help pollinate the flowers by drinking nectar with their proboscis (a straw-like mouth). While they are doing so, they are inadvertently gathering pollen on their furry legs and bodies, therefore aiding in the process of pollination.
I managed to glue small Dixie cups in the over-sized fake flowers and fill them with apple juice. I sprinkled chalk dust on the petals of the flower. Then, the students took turns with a straw drinking the juice from the flower and touching the dust on the petals. This helped them understand exactly what the bees do when they see BEE CANDY.
Thankfully, Ellen and I had a perfect afternoon free from pesky insects. I almost forgot that Ellen actually LOVES insects….maybe as much as cars! She is the epitome of an extraordinary woman!
Oh, we did have a few blue dragonflies that must have been attracted to our blue nail polish because he kept hanging out with us. In time, Ellen had me making friends with it! (That’s a first for me.)
Sorry, I don’t have any pics of the dragonfly…or my beautiful friend, Ellen. However, I did capture several magnificent photos of the bee candy all around her home. I hope you enjoy them.
Do you like the pictures? Can you identify any of these flowers? Which one is your favorite?
I just got back from getting a pedicure. The woman who did the pedicure asked me quite a few questions. I’m usually more sociable, but I had a feeling these questions were going to get invasive.
“You not working, today?”
“Uh, no. I’m not working, today.”
“You have long legs. How tall are you?”
“Oh, you married?
“You have babies?”
“Oh, you have plenty of time for that.”
“Oh, sure. Lot’s of time.”
I’m honestly not sure how to interpret my feelings on this dialogue. I do know that I liked my toes.
I woke up with a heavy heart, this morning. I was reluctant in writing a post about it. I wasn’t sure how to express my feelings. I knew it had something to do with babies. And, I haven’t had feelings this strong for at least a year, now.
In fact, it was right about this time, last summer, that I walked the beach in Margate and decided to start LE Woman. I didn’t know back then exactly what it would look like, but I knew it would be at least extraordinary.
LE Woman and I share a birthday. We were both born in September. Last September, I was at a monumental turning point in my life. It felt like after so many years of wandering the desert (if you will), I was finally ready and willing to let go and put all of my trust in God to bring me to His promised land. Up until then, I was pushing in the workplace and overlooking my health. I was ignoring the areas in my marriage that needed time and work. I was hell bent on getting pregnant; clearly something God was not on board with. And, I was hanging on to my possessions; terrified to completely start over in a new home with my husband.
As you know, The House on High Street has been the most significant event this past year. Scott and I found our first home, together. And, hopefully within the next several weeks, we will be gathering our belongings (scattered amongst our family members’ garages and our over-stuffed condo), and moving them into our home. We will finally be living under our own roof, for the first time as a couple.
Perhaps, this is why I’m starting to have visions of babies, again. As they say…First, comes love. Then, comes marriage. (Followed by The House on High Street, of course.) And there are extra bedrooms in that house.
I am turning forty-two in September. And, no matter how many people say they cannot believe that I am turning forty-two…and that Halle Berry just had a baby (what is she, like forty-eight?) I’m just not at liberty in determining my future.
- Do I want to be a mom? Yes.
- Do I believe I can be a mom? As of today, yes.
- Why? Because it’s in my heart, as of today. It hasn’t gone away. I believe God placed it there. And, I know HE gives us the desires of our hearts.
- Do I think it will happen the way it happens, ORDINARILY? I think it’s already beyond ordinary.
- Does Scott want to be a dad? Yes. And, I think he will be the BEST dad in the world!
- Will we be ok, if for some reason God has something different in store for us? YES. We will be fine. I trust that this desire in my heart will dissipate and evolve into something greater…still pertaining to children? Or, who knows? Perhaps we’ll end up traveling the world! That’s something a lot of parents cannot do.
- Is there anything you can do? YES! Please pray for God’s will to be done. If it’s a change of heart, than so be it. If it’s getting miraculously pregnant, than so be it. If a baby from half way around the world is meant to be “ours” than so be it.
Ok, no more questions! That’s enough questions answered, for today.
A few more things I want to share with you, just because they’re on my heart…
- The past twelve months have been, undoubtedly, the most joyful (although challenging) months in my adult life! I have LE Woman to thank. She’s kept me on my toes.
- If you’ve been with me from the beginning, or just picking up now, thanks for your support. I see LE Woman is being viewed by countries around the world, and I am tickled. Just tickled!
- Please remember, that every day, I have to make a choice to live Extraordinary; recognizing that my life is not standard. You and I, both, are truly extraordinary. Will you believe this with me? Ok, good.
Here are a few verses for those of us who have a desire in our heart that has not been fulfilled…yet.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (This is my favorite verse in the entire bible.)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galations 6:9
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
And, for my female friends who are suffering with infertility…
Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. Genesis 18:14
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord! Psalm 113:9
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11
Amongst the many infertile women in the bible, (who coincidently had extraordinary offspring such as Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and John the Baptist) my favorite story and verse is about Rachel.
…Then God remembered Rachel, and listened to her, and opened her womb. Genesis 30:22
How precious is that? Do you believe God can remember and listen to something from your heart, in your prayers? I do.
In closing, I want to remind you that YOU are extraordinary. Never think for one minute that you are not important in God’s eyes. He will never overlook you. You and I just have to trust in His perfect will, His perfect timing, and His perfect Way!
Good news! Rachel Maria’s Garden has been quite bountiful this season. Scott and I are up to our ears in tomatoes (3 varieties), peppers (2 varieties), zucchini, and squash!
Aside from sharing some of our grown produce with family and friends, I’ve been challenged to try and create new recipes that make good use of these organic veggies.
On Saturday night, while Scott worked at The House on High Street, I spent several hours in our galley kitchen (in our temporary condo) cooking my heart out! I made roasted peppers and tomatoes, a ham (for Scott), and this delicious Zucchini & Squash Casserole.
I can’t take full credit for this dish. I basically took a 5-star recipe, Paula Deen’s Squash Casserole, and made a few changes, and modified a few steps. I cut down on the salt and used Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup in lieu of Sour Cream. The end result was delicious.
* 3 T. Olive Oil
* 3 Cups of Diced Squash
* 3 Cups of Diced Zucchini
* 1 T. each: Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
* Vegetable Bouillon Cube, diluted in 1 Cup Hot Water
* 1 Large Sweet Onion, chopped much smaller than the veggies
* 1 Can of Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup (10.75 oz.)
* 4 T. Butter
* 1 Cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
* 1 Sleeve of Ritz Crackers
* Preheat Oven to 350ºF.
* Add Olive Oil to a Large Skillet over a Medium High Flame.
* Add Squash and Zucchini to the pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
* Stir over a medium high flame for about 5 minutes.
* Add half of the cup of water with diluted bouillon as necessary to keep veggies from sticking to pan. Most of the water will evaporate in the cooking.
* After another 5 minutes of cooking, make a center well in the middle of the skillet. Melt 2 T.butter, then add onions to the skillet. Stir the onions well (in the center of the pan), and then after 1-2 minutes, slowly incorporate with the vegetables.
* Lower flame to medium and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
(You do not want the vegetables to be super soft.)
* Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Wait to cool, then transfer veggies and use the towel to squeeze out water.
* Pour into a large casserole pan. (I used a 9×12″ pan.)
* Sprinkle Cheese on top, and cover with foil.
* Bake for 20 minutes.
* Melt 2 T. Butter in a medium skillet. Add crushed ritz crackers and stir together.
* Spread cracker coating on top of casserole. Cook for 5-8 more minutes, uncovered, until golden brown.
And, that’s it. This casserole went really well with baked Ham. I skipped that part because in my opinion, it can be a meal in itself. Please let me know if you try this one.
There are hundreds of ways to make Marinara Sauce.
This homemade recipe is quick, simple, and so delicious! I’m a proud Italian, but I don’t take issue with one’s personal preference. If you want to call it something different, or make it your own way, good for you.
A little history…
Marinara sauce originated with sailors in Naples in the 16th century, after the Spaniards introduced the tomato to their neighboring countries. The word marinara is derived frommarinaro, which is Italian for “seafaring.” Many people mistakenly believe this sauce includes some type of fish or seafood because of the origins of the name. Loosely translated, however, it means “the sauce of the sailors.” See Reference
I’ve been making marinara, my own way, for many years. I vary a few things. If I have a semi-dry red wine on hand, I’ll use it in lieu of sugar or carrots (which lesson the acidity in the tomatoes and gives the sauce a richer taste). If I have enough time and the fresh tomatoes on hand, I’ll roast them in lieu of using canned tomatoes. (Although I honestly feel that Hunts canned tomatoes and Contadina tomato paste work superbly together!)
Aside from tomatoes (in the form of paste or a pureed sauce), I never sacrifice the garlic, onion, and fresh basil. The other seasonings can be dry. It doesn’t make a difference in my opinion.
Oh, one more thing. I have noticed a better quality in taste when I use my dutch oven, because it can handle higher temperatures, and it’s perfect for slow cooking. Even though this sauce can be made in a little over an hour, if you have the time TAKE IT! The next day is always the BEST day to eat marinara. It’s thicker and sweeter. [divider] Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe
So, this particular version of homemade marinara is for the busy-cook because it uses canned tomatoes.
Ingredients (This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 lbs. of pasta. Unless you like a lot of sauce per serving! Feel free to freeze any leftovers.)
* 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
* One large Spanish Onion
* 3-5 Cloves of Garlic (I like a lot of garlic, so I use at least 5 cloves.)
* 3 oz (or 1/3 Cup) tomato paste (I recommend Contadina – Use half of the smallest 6oz. jar.)
* 28 oz. tomato sauce (I recommend Hunts!)
*28 oz. diced tomatoes (If you don’t like a semi-chunky marinara, omit the diced tomatoes and use 2 cans of sauce, instead.)
* 1 1/2 Cups Water
* 1 Cup of Fresh Chopped Basil
* 2 T. dried Oregano (optional)
* 1/2 Cup of Red Table Wine**
* 2 Bay Leaves
* 1 tsp. Salt
* 1 tsp. Pepper
**The table wine will cut the acid and make your sauce a little sweeter. I recommend a semi-dry/fruity blend like Franzia Chillable Red, or perhaps a pinot noir. But, if you prefer, you can use 2 Tbs. Sugar instead of the wine. Add the sugar when you are adding the dry seasonings. Another alternative to cut the acid and give a more balanced taste is to add 2 carrots, chopped and sauteed with the onion and garlic.
IF you omit the wine, you may need to add in another half cup of water, as the sauce may be too thick.
* Add EVOO to a Dutch Oven or Large Saucepan over Medium High Flame.
* Saute Onions, garlic (and carrots if using in lieu of wine or sugar) for about 5 minutes, until softened, stirring constantly. * Lower flame to Medium. Add wine go deglaze the pan, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
*Then, add the tomato paste, and stir for at least 3 minutes.
* Stir in dry seasonings. Bring to a boil, then keep at a simmer over a low flame, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. * If you prefer the sauce smoother, you can run it through a food processor. I won’t guarantee the authentic quality if you do so, but it’s completely your choice! Serve the sauce with a pound of your favorite pasta.