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5:11 p.m. - 2012-01-31

I made a quick run to Trader Joe's this afternoon and saw the first almond blossoms of the season. I thought they would be much later this year because it has been so cold this winter. Spring is on the way. This reminds me that I will soon have to send in my seed order and think about the garden.

Last year was so awful with the death of two close family members that it has taken a long time for us to feel better. Now, however, it is a year later (hard to believe) and things are looking calmer. I have found that my sewing helped me a lot last year, and I have plans for this new year. Last year I did a lot of machine embroidery which was really fun, but my little machine is currently in the shop getting an overhaul. While it recovers, I am trying to learn to use the really fancy serger the spouse got me for Christmas over a year ago. So far this year, I have made some baby bibs for my niece, who is expecting a son next month, two tops for myself, several pillow cases, and a tablecloth. I have the urge to finish up some UFOs that have been around for a long time, two of which are really nice blouses that just need the buttons.

During the last year, the house got a little out of control, so the spouse and I are trying to declutter and downsize. We have way too many books, so we are thinking about a new shelving system for the living room, and I am finally going through my thousands of cookbooks to see which ones I will never use (like dated, hippy-dippy 1970's health food cookbooks). More than a dozen have already left the building. A drop in the bucket, I know, but at least it is something. However, all this looking at the cookbooks has gotten me interested in cooking new recipes from my old vintage cookbooks so I have tried a few this week. First I tried a Golden Date Cake recipe from the Loyalty Cookbook from the early 50's. It was outstanding, moist and so good. Then I tried an oatmeal muffin recipe from an old Sunset cookbook with much less success. It had a large amound of molasses in it but was not sweet at all and was a little dry. Can't win them all, I guess. I also tried a bundt cake recipe from Taste of Home magazine website, (Apple-Raisin Bundt Cake) and liked that a lot. Recipes that use up a large amount of plum jam, of which I always have too much since we have plum trees, appeal to me. The bundt cake recipe called for strawberry jam, but I just used my plum instead. Another recipe I found for using my plum jam was the Asian Hot Wings from the Pioneer Woman on the Food Channel. I just used chicken parts instead of wings, but the sauce is really good, and would, as M says, be excellent on Spam Musubis, too. I loved it on the chicken.

Last year my resurrection lilies bloomed and formed little bulbils at the top of the flower stems. I have tried planting these in the garden bed before to see what would happen, since I would love to have my lilies spread all over the place, but nothing sprouted that I could see. This time I harvested the little bulb things and put them in some potting soil in the house. Just about all of them came up, so I may soon have 4 or 5 dozen new lily plants to set out in the garden. I know it may take a few years for them to bloom, but I am on my way to a huge swath of pink lilies in my flower beds.

Several new TV shows are on now that I am enjoying. One is Once Upon A Time, on Sunday nights, another is Unforgettable. A new show is starting up soon called Touch which had a preview recently. I really liked it, but all the scientific references totally confused the spouse who told me later that he didn't understand it at all. Too bad, because he really was a fan of 24 and needs a new good show to look forward to.

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