Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday: A Productive Day!

I am so proud that yesterday was so productive! I had my camera with me and took pictures throughout the day so I could share my many activities. 

First, I woke up, had breakfast with Woodley and packed up a lunch for him. Then I set about my Tuesday tasks. I've decided that Tuesday will be cleaning day so I grabbed my cleaning rags and set about it. I cleaned the bathroom then vacuumed, dusted, and tidied up the living room, dining room, bedroom, hallway, kitchen, and office. Poor Leila was quite frightened by all the noise and hid in the bedroom or office most of the day - trying to keep out of the way of the vacuum. It took me a few hours to finish with all that.

As I was cleaning various surfaces, it struck me that I really ought to polish the silver. We don't have very much and all of the pieces that we have were presents given to us in the last year (most were wedding presents). I don't think we had any silver in the house when I was growing up so I really don't remember ever polishing silver before. A couple of months ago I bought a little box of silver polish from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It has been sitting up in the cupboard for months and it felt really good to finally get it out and use it yesterday. Inside the box was a round container of polishing "stuff." It was blue and had a little sponge included with it. I wet the sponge, dipped it in the blue polishing "stuff," and set about rubbing down the silver pieces. 

It was pretty fun to see the dark tarnish coming off and the beautiful shiny silver appearing once again. Below are some before and after pictures. 

This is a spoon my Aunt Elizabeth gave me. Isn't it lovely! I believe it once belonged to her mother. I absolutely adore it because it has my name (well, a variation of it) engraved in the spoon and it is surrounded by roses (my favorite flower and also my middle name). I had been feeling so badly for it for months as I watched it get blacker and blacker. It was so exciting to finally see it again in its fully polished glory! 

So lovely! One of the other things I polished was the dresser set my mother gave me for Christmas. Below is the brush. It definitely looks much nicer after the polish. 


Next, I decided to work on my counted cross-stitch project. My good friend Zaz is an amazing cross-stitcher and has been doing it for years. I've been hoping to pick it up again (I used to cross-stitch a little as a girl) and have talked to Zaz about it several times over the last few years. Last Thursday, we got together at her house and had a fun evening of crafting, eating, and watching girly TV shows. It was fabulous! She is helping me get started and gave me some of her old supplies that she didn't need anymore. My "homework" for this week was to get the embroidery threads required for one of the patterns I wanted to do (Zaz let me look through her huge collection of cross-stitch books and I picked out some I liked). I accomplished that task last weekend and have been trying to get started ever since then. 

I decided to do a simple "Little Bo Peep" themed one. Following Zaz's guidance, I made a copy of the design and use a highlighter to mark off the squares I have stitched. 

Here's what I got done yesterday. It doesn't look like much yet, but I think it will be very cute when it's done! 

The cross-stitching was so much fun that before I knew it, it was time to get dinner ready. I had decided to make Carrot Top Soup from "Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets," a fabulous cookbook that was given to me at one of my bridal showers. I have never cooked with carrot tops before so I was very excited to try it. Appropriately, the carrots and their tops were from our local farmer's market. 

Carrot Top Soup
From "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison

1 bunch (6 small to medium) carrots, their tops and the roots 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons white rice
2 large leeks, white parts only 
2 thyme or lemon thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped dill, parsley, celery leaves, or lovage 
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups vegetable stock, light chicken broth, or water

1. Pull or pluck the lacy leaves of the carrot greens off their stems. You should have between 2 and 3 cups, loosely packed. Wash, then chop finely.

{I decided to wash the tops before pulling the leaves off because they were very sandy. I rinsed them several times in a bowl of water and then let them sit while I chopped up the carrots. There was quite a bit of dirt and sand that came off of them but in the end they were very clean.}

Wash, then grate the carrots or, if you wish a more refined-looking soup, finely chop them. 

{Since I had some extra time, wanted to practice chopping, and thought a "more refined-looking soup" sounded nice, I decided to chop the carrots. It did take awhile (grating definitely would have been much faster) but I liked the way they came out in the end.}

{Here's the chopped up carrot tops.}

2. Melt the butter in a soup pot. 

Add the carrot tops and carrots, rice, leeks, thyme, and dill. Cook for several minutes, turning everything a few times, then season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and add the stock.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is cooked, 16 to 18 minutes. 

3. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and serve. 

The soup came out quite tasty. It was very light and I think next time I would add some pieces of chicken to make it a bit heartier. I would definitely make it again though. Oh! I also used some of the chicken stock I made last week! It was very exciting to start using it. 

To go along with the soup I cooked up some broccolini, baked a small piece of hake (white fish) that I got on sale the other day, warmed up some of the bread I had baked on Monday, sliced up an apple and orange, and made a green salad. 

Altogether, it made for a very delicious meal! 

After dinner, we watched Designing Woman (1957) directed by Vincent Minnelli starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. With the star studded cast and Minnelli directing, I expected great things. Sadly, I wasn't too impressed. The plot was somewhat interesting and there was a happy ending but there were also some very weird parts. Like when this quirky choreographer starts knocking out the bad guys with his weird dance moves. At that point, it was a bit like a kung fu movie but with modern dancers instead of martial artists. 

Here's a trailer for it, in case you want to see a bit of what it's like: 

I also didn't like Lauren Bacall in it very much. Her character in it was so different from other roles I have seen her in. For example, I absolutely love her performance in To Have and Have Not. After last night, I decided that I like her best in black and white. I would definitely recommend To have and Have Not, it's a bit more serious but I liked it a lot (Woodley didn't care for it too much though). Here's a sample: 


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