Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Easy Recipes

I cook as little as possible, but these dishes are some of my favorites that I’ve posted.

Click on any of the links below.

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The Apple Pie that wins hearts

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Pain au Chocolate

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Orange Iced Cranberry Cookies

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Pumpkin/Apple Pie

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Chicken Scaloppini (this is from Pioneer Woman)

Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

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Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Moroccan Carrot Salad (this is from The Skinny)

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Watermelon, Feta & Olive Salad (this is from The Skinny)

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Caramelized Shallots (from Williams Sonoma)

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Iced Green Tea with Ginger & Lemon

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Raspberry Iced Tea


About Our Dog

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George was born on July 11, 2007 in Ellsworth, Maine. We found him (of all places) on the internet. He’s the third border collie we’ve owned and after our beloved Ralph’s death in late 2005, we swore we’d never have another.

After about a year of being petless, my husband began looking at sites where borders were offered for sale. When I asked him about it, he said he was just looking. I didn’t want the bother of another puppy, and  reminded him of what it would entail to raise a puppy. He absolutely agreed, he said. He didn’t want another dog. He just was looking.

And then, one day I came home from work, and my husband was excited. (This doesn’t happen all that often, so I knew this was something big).

He’d found our new puppy, he told me. And he showed me the site. I really didn’t want another dog, but I kept my mouth shut.

And as I watched him scrolling down, reading me what the owners had written, and viewing photos of the litter, I could see that he really was serious about this. He’d already had a plan to fence in the backyard, and what we could get for the puppy, how we’d train it, where he would sleep . . .

And at that moment, I knew we were getting a puppy.

And I haven’t regretted it for a minute. Well, maybe a couple of times, but George has turned out to be a pretty wonderful dog.  And with my husband’s second diagnosis of brain cancer, and the subsequent loss of his job, George turned out to be the best thing for him.

We named him George because he will be the last dog my husband owns (his words, not mine) because my husband is quite sure the dog will outlive him. The name had always been a sort of ‘buddy’ name that my husband and our best friend, Warren, have for each other. We’ve all known each other since high school and at some point Warren and my husband just started calling each other George.

We began training him early on, just basic obedience. And he’s always loved playing Frisbee, fetching, Frisbee toss . . . George has a decent sized vocabulary and knows what many of his toys are named. He can go to his toy box and pull out a toy you request.

There is one thing that needs to improve about George, however. Because of the way he was raised, and the few humans he sees on a regular basis, George is very shy around people at first. And for some reason, he’s afraid of little people ~ specifically children. He’s finally warmed up to my niece, but it took a while. I just don’t trust him around children. He’s gotten much better, but when he was younger, he would run the other way if he saw a child.

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Here are a few posts from when George was a puppy.

George’s First Christmas, December 2007

Adventures in Vocabulary, December 2007

The Absorbent Puppy Strikes Again, December 2007

His Life as a Prince, March 2008


Enough about me

I’m just a person who enjoys taking pictures and sharing them on a blog I started back in December 2007. But wait, there’s more:


I was always the unofficial photographer in the family and bought my first camera (a Nikon) at the age of 21. With the book that came with it, I taught myself about aperture, light, film speed. The camera was manual and a lot of my photos came out pretty messed up but I didn’t give up. I went digital around 2003 or 2004. My husband bought me a little Sony Cybershot that took pretty decent photos and my sons showed me how to download them into our computer.

In 2007, my husband bought me a Nikon D80 and I swear to you, I still don't know everything about this camera.


Before he left for home the night I began the blog, my son downloaded his college version of Photoshop into my computer, giving me a 5-minute tutorial on the subject. Photoshop confused the hell out of me. Back then Pioneer Woman had begun posting a lot about PS and what could be done with it. Taking her advice, I bought a couple of Scott Kelby's books and with their help and some online tutorials, I can get around in PS. There's a ton of stuff I don't know but for now, I'm floating along ok.

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I began Chronicles of a Country Girl on December 26, 2007. Originally, I was looking for a way to incorporate my photos into the regular e-mails back and forth between myself and my three sisters. I googled ’how do I start a blog?’ and just jumped in.

In the summer of 2008, I began another blog, calling it A Picture a Day. I try to post one photo every day with a small caption underneath.

One thing I try not to do when I write is whine. I’m also not vulgar or crass. It’s not that I can’t be at times I guess, but some things just have no place here. I also attempt to keep the cursing at bay.

I write this blog and share my photos because it's fun. And I hope that what keeps people coming back is not only for the photos but because I keep things simple and I have a fairly good attitude about life in general.

And of course, there’s George, our border collie. George has created quite a following on this blog and he doesn’t even know it.


I live with my husband in Maryland. We have two adult sons who we see when we can. It’s no secret that my husband has had some medical issues involving a brain tumor that’s nature is to recur, so we’re dealing with that. When he was working, he was in equestrian management, specifically the breeding and foaling of Thoroughbred mares. We lived on horse farms all of our adult lives and are now caretaking an old manor house that belongs to people I know. I feel blessed to be here and was amazed at how everything fell into place, just as our life seemed to be falling apart.

During the day, I run the office of a K-12 private school and have been there for eleven years. I love the people I work with and enjoy what I do. And if you still haven’t heard enough, feel free to visit the following posts where I have participated in meme’s and answered some questions.

January, 2008

March, 2008

April, 2008

April, 2008

November, 2008

November, 2008

December, 2008.

January, 2009

October, 2009

December, 2009

I rarely post photos of myself on my blog. But I love seeing what people look like, so below you will find some of the few times my photo has appeared in my blog.

Photo Assignment June, 2008

NYC Pics: December, 2008

NYC Pics: May, 2009

Mosaic ~ Pictures in my home: November, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

My first entry in The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY New Year's Eve,
Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Outside my window, I see stark tree branches against a pale blue sky.

I am thinking about the year to come and hoping it'll be better than the last.

I am thankful for pretty much everything in my life, especially for the chance to be able to spend a bit more time with my husband.

From the kitchen tonight, I'll be making Pioneer Woman's Monday night stir fry. Yeah, that's right. I don't care that it's not Monday.

I am wearing a pair of Lucky Brand trouser jeans, a favorite old sweater and a pair of Roberto del Carlo foldover ankle boots in wine.

(Unfortunately, I'm kidding about the ankle boots. But they WOULD look really cool with what I'm wearing.) I'm also sorry I fib so much.

I am creating absolutely nothing at the moment. And I'm not ashamed of it.

I am going to continue to enjoy my time off from work this week.

I am reading The Ghost by Robert Harris.

I am hoping for a lot of things but will have to accept that I can't have them all. It would be nice to have one or two of them, though.

I am hearing yet another football game in the background. It used to bother me, but right now it means my husband is still around. I really don't mean to sound moribund. That's a link for Rich.

Around the house my holiday decorations continue to cheer me.

One of my favorite things is driving. Ok, it's crazy, I know. But give me a wide open road and a sports car with a lot of power and well, it's just plain fun, I tell you!

A few plans for the rest of the week include visiting Karen & Adrienne, taking in a movie and lunch with KathyJules, packing up the holiday decorations and having my mustache removed. I am totally kidding about the mustache; I just wanted to make sure you're all still with me.

Here is picture thought I am sharing

funny pictures of cats with captions

It's always the season . . . for solid decorating advice.

This is my very first entry in The Simple Woman's Day Book. It all began with a visit to Drivin' 55, a blog I visit daily. If you'd like to participate, visit this site but please note that the blog is on vacation for this week and will resume next Monday.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A walk in the woods

Today dawned a bit colder than yesterday and because I still have off for the week, I luxuriated in the flannel sheets, sleeping in until nearly 9 am.

Oh, my! Very unlike me.

After a breakfast of coffee and some oatmeal, we departed for nearby Fair Hill Nature Center in Maryland.

Fair Hill encompases nearly 6,000 acres and is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north and lies less than 1/2 mile west of Delaware. It's known for its natural beauty, woodlands and pristine fields. It also houses the Fair Hill Training Center, so horses are everywhere.

At one time, it was one of the largest private land holdings in the East and was formerly owned by one of the DuPonts. It was purchased by the state of Maryland in 1975.

When we lived in PA long ago, and my husband was competing in mountain biking, he regularly trained at Fair Hill. We took trails today that were familiar to him and believe me, it's beautiful there.

We could hear the hounds in the distance, as a fox hunt must have been going on.

When we got home, we looked at some of the pictures I took. Or rather, I loaded them onto the hard drive and my husband looked at them.

Here's our conversation:
DH: You didn't take that many pictures today, you know.
CG: Hmmm.
DH: And of the 51 pictures that you took, 15 of them are of my back. 15!!
CG: What are you talking about?
DH: Look at this. My back. There's my back again. Oh, there it is again. And again. I'm only up to 8 here.
CG: Well, um, your back is mostly what I see since I'm always behind you.
DH: Yes, but there's rock formations you could have taken. And more shots of the stream. The stream is nice. And there was that fox.
CG: The fox was gone before you even told me it was there.
DH: Well, I'm thinking that the next time we go for a walk, I'm giving the dog to you to hold and I'll take the pictures.
DH: Well, I can take pictures as well as you can.
CG: What?
DH: You heard me.
CG: Hmmm.
DH: You heard me, right?
CG: I said hmmm, didn't I?

I said Hmmmm. But what I was really thinking as I was silently seething was "who do you think you are? I am the picture taker!! I can't believe you just said that!"

But I said nothing. I didn't want him to know how miffed I was. I think it's best not to let him know everything.

And this is of the side. The side is not the back.

I rest my case.

Help a worthy cause!
Head on over to Mental Pause Mama's site where she's celebrating her One Year Blogging Anniversary by donating a dollar to the Humane Society of the US for every comment she gets on this post. It will be open until the 30th, so go ahead and spread some comment love.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

If the sign fits, park there

Ok, people. Raise your hand if you need to park at Tubby Cove.

I think I could park there for several weeks after all the holiday consumption that's been going on lately.

I also found a new site that's not helping with the tubby situation.

I warn you, though, please don't go there.

There are treats galore.

It's called Bakerella. And I want to make cookies like this. I truly do.

Unfortunately, if I begin making lots of cookies, I'll be parked in Tubby Cove for quite some time.

For those who are into the photography thing, I used my Photoshop program with Pioneer Woman's "Seventies" action on these two photos and I really like how pink the sky looks.

Ok. I'm off to take another walk, or I'll be changing the name of my site to something like The Sisterhood of the Tubby Pants or maybe I'm Not Fat, I'm Fluffy.

Oh, my.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winner announced in giveaway!

I used to choose the winner this time. It's so much easier than cutting up slips of paper and hand-drawing someone's name.

It generated commenter #15, which is Maria, of Gardening with Turtles fame. I love her blog.

Congratulations Maria! Please e-mail me at to claim your prize.

I want to thank everyone for playing and helping me celebrate my one year anniversary of blogging. When I began, I had no idea how many blogs were out there and I am so glad that I found all of you. And that you found me. And that I have a camera. And George. And my husband. And not in that order, ok?

You know what I mean.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008

My blogging anniversary (and a giveaway)!

Exactly one year ago today, I had just returned from the train station in Wilmington, DE after having dropped off our eldest son for his trip back to the Big City. I remember sitting down in front of the computer to write my sisters and my husband bringing me a drink.

I'd been toying with the idea of making the e-mail letters I send to my sisters look prettier. Rather than sending group e-mails to the 3 of them and attaching my photos to the bottom, I thought there must be a way to make them look more interesting. So I googled "how do I start a blog?"

I researched what people had to say about the various blog platforms and blogger looked fine to me, so I jumped right on in with this, my very first post.

I set it to private, and it wasn't until several days later when I sent the link to Adrienne to get her advice on it, that I opened it up to the public. She was so excited to see herself on the internet that she sent it to everyone in her address book.

And if you know anything about Adrienne, it's that she has thousands of people in her address book. I was seriously nervous about it all. I have no idea why.

Then I posted the first of some of the conversations I have with my husband. These are always pretty weird, and this one was no exception. I even had someone comment on it, which surprised me no end.

Surprisingly, after several days, other people actually began to find me and they began leaving comments. It was (and still is) quite exciting to have people write me. Sort of like having validation, I guess.
And so, in honor of this evening a year ago when I began this craziness, and on this, my 450th post, I'm having a Giveaway. I'm offering a STANDOUT of this print:

A standout is a print that's mounted on 1 1/2" gatorfoam and is sealed with a smooth textured black trim. It's 8 x 10 in size and will be shipped directly from my pro lab to your home. That is, IF you are the winner.

All you have to do is leave a comment. That's all! And just to make it fun, you can tell me what your favorite gift was this year for the holidays!

I'll leave this post up until Sunday at 6 PM. I'll then draw the winner and let you know Sunday night. Good luck!

If you'd like to get a better idea of what a standout looks like, check this post I wrote over the summer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays to All

I am going to be taking a few days off from blogging to visit with my loved ones.

Hoping that you all have a Happy Holiday!

(Click photo to embiggen) ~ it was taken after the ice storm we had a few days ago.

Until then, my friends . . .

PS ~ GIVEAWAY on Deb's Drivin' 55 blog. Enter to win a beautiful Christmas box! Plus, post about the giveway on your own blog and get two chances to win.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Morning treat

When I awoke early this morning, the windows in the bedroom were covered in frost. The wind had howled all night long and inside was just a little chilly, especially up in the bedroom. We use blankets to keep warm at night, to cut down on the heating oil.

I ran downstairs to get my camera, smelling the delicious scent of coffee emanating from the kitchen. God, I love that smell.

I'd like to thank you all for your kind comments on Sunday's post (below). I've been busy cleaning all day and then made dinner and am just sitting down for a well-deserved rest.

I like cleaning and polishing (to an extent) and am proud of how nicely the house gleams. Our eldest son comes by train from NYC tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to see him again. Our youngest son may not make it out by Christmas Eve, but you never know with him. He just may surprise us. And we'll see him on Christmas Day for sure.

A present came via FedEx today. Although we both agreed that we would not exchange gifts this year, SOMEBODY couldn't help himself. And all I had gotten him was a card. Oh, bugger!

Readers are urged to head on over to Kacey's blog, Wine on the Keyboard, to vote in her Photo 2008 Contest. Beginning last March, Kacey has had a contest every month and each month's winning photo has been presented. You can vote for up to 3 of your favorites.

Disclaimer: I am not asking you to vote for mine. It's just a fun thing to do, plus there are a lot of beautiful and fun entries. So go ahead and vote!

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite Gift

A few posts down, I participated in a meme that I turned into a Christmas one and in that meme, I mentioned the gift that my husband bought me years ago. It was a Nikon SLR camera that I fell madly in love with.

You've probably seen those car ads on TV where the small child inside of you reminds you of your most favorite gift ever, then suddenly the child is now an adult, and there is a brand new car in their driveway. And they realize that this is now the Best Gift Ever.

This Friday, I was given a gift at school that blew the Nikon out of the water, and I just had the burning desire to share it with you.

I can't share everything about it, because it's rather personal, but please let me try.

It's a bit of a tradition at our school, as it is at most, I expect, to give teachers and staff sweet little presents from the parents and students. I exchange gifts at school, as well, with a few teachers and my co-worker extraordinnaire, Bonnie. This year is a bit sparse for me in the giving department, but I managed to come through and am always happy to see the look on my friends faces as they open their little presents.

That's the best part, isn't it?

And then my friend, the art teacher, came into the office with a present for me. You remember her, right? The one I went to NYC with a couple of weekends ago? The one I've been friends with since the day I started at the school ten years ago? She and her husband are also the ones who arranged that visit for my son with their architect friend to spend a day working with him at his firm.

She looked really excited when she came into the office. And she had a big, beautiful box. "Open it!" she said. What a beautiful box it was that she handed me! I put it on the counter, admiring it while I slowly pulled up the flap. Inside I found a small flat package wrapped in gold tissue paper and tied with a beautiful red ribbon. "Open it!" she said excitedly. I pulled the ribbon off the package and saw that inside of it were white cards, all handwritten. I looked at my friend.

She told me she'd seen this idea on Oprah, and that on each card a faculty or staff member had answered questions like "What I love about you", "My wish for you this holiday is" . . .

When I realized that this box was full of these precious cards, the emotion overcame me and I began to cry. Cry and laugh at the same time! "No, no, don't cry!!" my friend said. "Here, here is one that's funny . . . read it, ok?"

So through my tear-filled eyes and the damn Dior mascara that runs every time I tear up (I have got to go back to Lancome, honestly) I read what our friend Diane, our gym teacher, wrote when she answered the question,

"What I Love About You" . . .
is you really know how to dance! Oh, wait a minute, that's what I LIKE about you, by the Romantics! But what I love about you is how you stay calm in any storm that comes your way. You are a rock for so many people! Happy Holidays!"

I couldn't read any more, I guess because I was so surprised. Margie went on to tell me that all she did was organize it, hand out the cards, and then ask for them back. Her husband, Charles, went out and found the fantastic box, and the faculty did the rest.

I was planning on going home Friday night, pour a glass of wine, and then read them. And I did pour that wine, and I did begin to read. But I couldn't after the first one. I don't know if I was embarassed, or maybe I felt that I didn't deserve all this love and kindness that was in this box. I just don't know!!!

So the box had been sitting on the bookshelf all weekend. Every now and then, I would walk by and touch it. It's a precious thing, you see. And this morning, with my husband's coffee in my little holiday mug, and a fresh-baked cookie made by him, too . . . I opened the box.

I read twelve of them until I couldn't do it any longer.

I had no idea that this is what people thought of me. And, at the risk of sounding so sappy that my sister-in-law's eyes will roll like they've never rolled before, I will tell you this:

I have only read twelve of them. And my heart is so full that I've decided to take it slow with this box. I had to stop after I read Cheryl's and I will share this one with you. Cheryl is one of our Lower School librarians.

What I love about you . . .
besides your great hair, I love many things about you! You are very capable in everything that you do. That's a great quality. I love how you appreciate the little things in life & I love your humor. But most of all, I love your kindness. You have blessed me and my child with it over the years. You are a blessing to everyone in your life. Thank you! Love, Cheryl.

Oh. My. God. I may not make it through the day through my tears and my appreciation.

Margie, I don't know how to thank you for organizing this gift. It is such a wonderful idea. And to those of you out there, this isn't a gift that can just be given at Christmas. This Gratitude Box or Memory Box is something you can do any time. For more information on the gift and to download the templates for the cards, please visit this site.

If you know someone in your life who is having some trouble and who needs to be reminded how much they are loved, then I strongly suggest giving this gift as a group effort.
I didn't know how much I needed the thoughts until I opened this . . . my new Favorite Gift Ever.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Humbly yours,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Frosty sunset complete with music

This YouTube selection is for your listening pleasure only.

It's Sarah McLaghlan's I'll Be Home For Christmas, one of the beautiful offerings on her Wintersong CD.

I play this CD a lot during the holidays.

These photos of a frosty sunset were taken last year during the week between Christmas and New Year at the farm where we used to live, outside of Chesapeake City, Maryland.

This was our view from our home on the hill, looking over the pond and towards another horse farm adjacent to the one we lived and where my husband worked for years.

In case you hadn't noticed, I miss it there a little bit. I certainly miss the view, I'll tell you that. But time goes on, and life situations change.

And we aren't doing too badly.

Keep safe, my friends. And warm.
And before I go, I can't resist another vintage puppy picture of my friend, George.

Until tomorrow, then. . .