Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let There Be Light!

(If you get updates to my blog by email, you likely received an old post disguised as a new one yesterday.  I have no idea how it happened.  Feedburner, the tool that sends new posts out into world, has developed a random mind of its own, and must have thought it was time I said something.)

I haven't provided a bathroom update in a while (or any updates for that matter), but this is a truly exciting development that I have to share. 

The skylight was installed in our previously windowless bathroom last Friday.  Do you hear the chorus of hallelujahs?  Or, at least, the birds chirping?  And, see the little shelf created above the doorway and below the skylight? 

That's there so we can bring some plants into our new space.  I did a little research and learned that African violets and peace lilies tolerate humidity well, making them good bathroom plants.  I like the idea of having plants that flower in there.  Exciting.

Words and photographs cannot do the natural light justice.  It makes an incredible difference.  We've been wandering around the house wondering what other dark corners could be brightened up by a new window or skylight.

The walls have been framed, and the electrician has done his wiring.  Now we are waiting for the plumber to come and center the shower drain (since the shower will be bigger, the drain has to move about a foot), and remove the toilet and sink.  Then we're hiring someone to install the drywall, which will help to move this project along.  And then Matt and his dad will install the new shower.  Progress is slow, but sure.  Which is okay, because I still haven't made a decision or ordered the tile.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lenten Rose

Things have been busy, busy, busy around here lately.  I have so many stories to tell, but no time to share them.  It was 55 degrees (but BREEZY) when I went for my walk by the ocean this morning, and look at what I found just outside our door.

I love how sheepish they are.  Is it time?  Just wondering.  I've read that I should trim away any deteriorating leaves.  So many of them were dead around the edges that all I was left with were the new, flowering stems.  These plants are not exactly thriving.

But, they are welcome, nonetheless.

It's possible we'll break the record of 67 degrees today.  I'm looking forward to the warmth and sunshine.  Have a great day! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Apple Pear Cranberry Crisp

I had to put together a dessert for an impromptu gathering the other day, and the Barefoot Contessa came to my aid once again.  She's so darn reliable.  This was easy, and a crowd pleaser, so I thought I'd share, in case you're looking for a warm and fruity treat to liven up the winter days.  I would imagine that you could vary the fruits with good results.  Apple Blueberry or Apple Raspberry sound pretty good to me.  I also used less fruit (2 pears and 4 apples), because it was what I had, and it worked out fine.

Apple Pear Cranberry Crisp
Barefoot Contessa

4 ripe Bosc pears
6 Macoun apples (I used Fuji)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350.

Peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, zests, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.

Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.

Place the baking dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm. Serves 8.  (We served 12.)

It came out of the oven and was devoured so quickly that this was the best picture I could get of the finished product.