An Elegant Life in a Quarantined World

Introduction

During the next several weeks I plan to share with you my experience of living a quarantined life with elegance and grace.

Hello, sweet friend…
How are you?

This past week while living under quarantine…

I have felt fortunate to be living in a home…

which provides exceptional comfort to me.

March has offered…

an astonishing amount of Spring beauty…

each day brought fragrant wonders…

outside my door.

This moment…

as I write…

sitting in our family room…

it is a chilly afternoon…

and there is a magic outside…

that is glistening…

with enchantment.

Here I find what now seems to be a golden opportunity…

for me to learn how I can get the most out of living…

squeezing significance and happiness…

that is every moment, every hour…

out of everything that is around me.

Coming next…

Chapter One

A Quarantined Life & Afternoon Tea

👩‍🍳

What’s Cooking?

One of the most satisfying things during this time has been preparing recipes that I might not have taken time for before. Here is a satisfying side dish that will make you forget all about what’s going on in our world. (ok…maybe not all) however the smell in your kitchen of Parmesan cheese seasoned with fragrant herbs will help. (so says my wonderful husband Joe)

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

INGREDIENTS:

  1.  3 pounds-petite red potatoes (scrubbed and halved (quartered if extra large))
  2.  4 tablespoons oil
  3.  6 cloves garlic (minced)
  4.  1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  6. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  7.  ½ teaspoon ground oregano
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  9. 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  10. 2 teaspoons salted butter (cut into small cubes)
  11.  2 tablespoons mincedfresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil and Parmesan cheese until evenly coated. Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning with a spatula two or three times, until golden brown and crisp. Pull the tray out and sprinkle the butter over the potatoes and stir to melt the butter. Remove from the oven and toss with the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is. – Elkhart Tolle

Marcia
Posted in 2020, A Quarantined Life, Coastal Living, Cooking, Together Apart | 8 Comments

Celebrating Spring… Together…Apart

🌷“Courage, dear heart”🌷-C.S.Lewis

Hello, sweet friends…

Jeans from TJ Max…blue/white polka dot shirt Ross…white canvas sketchers online.👚👖🧢

Before I begin this week’s post let me share a What I Wore recently before heading out to garden. So much of what is currently happening around the world is not in my control…fortunately a few things are…so I say my prayers and Keep a daily routine as much as possible.
That being said let me share about my week…


Comfort can be found in a variety of things…food, family, memories, friends…

I continue to receive the most comfort from home.

A cherry blossom tree recently planted…

I suppose that is how this week I got the idea to create a special place in our home for Spring.

I asked Joe if he would bring up one of the Christmas trees from our basement…being the loving husband he is…he did.🙏

A small friendship plaque given as a gift…

At the time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it…

Flower from a wreath…

I only knew something inside me was stirring very deeply.

Since we are in a pandemic…being careful about what we do…where we go..distancing ourselves from others

I knew that whatever I was going to create would need to come from the items I already had here at home.

A card brought back from a recent visit to California

I began foraging around the house and discovered a few things that inspired me…

However it wasn’t until I went outside in the garden…

and noticed the wreath in the dormer that the lightbulb went on…

I had what was needed to create a special symbol and beauty for Spring. I carefully removed the pieces from the wreath…separating each flower…vine…twig…and a small rabbit. I then re-placed each onto the tree.

A Spring tree is now lit…

a reminder that this season more than ever I need to pray…trust…love…have hope…

Together…Apart…💕

🦋

👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳👩‍🍳

What’s Cooking?

My time in the kitchen this week included cooking up some vegetarian chili. The recipe below is a combination of several recipes. I ended up substituting a portion of the chili powder with chipotle powder which gave it a spicier touch.

Enjoy…

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large bell peppers, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (do not drain)
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans roasted green chiles, undrained
  • 3 (15- to 15.5-ounce) cans beans, such as pinto, black, kidney, cannellini, or garbanzo, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • Serving suggestions: sliced avocado, lime wedges, shredded cheddar cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro leaves and tender stems, pickled red onion, sliced jalapeño, sliced radishes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oil. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the veggies. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Add the spices. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir to coat veggies. 
  4. Add the tomatoes, chiles, beans, and broth. Add the tomatoes and their juices, green chiles, beans, and 1 cup of the broth. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat as needed and simmer uncovered until the chili thickens to your liking, 30 to 40 minutes. If you prefer a looser chili, add up to 1 cup more broth. 
  6. Stir in the corn. Add the corn and stir to combine.
Marcia
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Spring Forward…A Full Moon…& Pasta

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak-Buddha

Hello, sweet friend…

Spring forward!🌷

A full moon…

There is a physiological stirring that comes… (response to longer days and more sunlight.)

Entry to garden shed

I see it as a Divine nudge.

One which is giving me the impulse to get outside…

with a renewed energy and a spurt of new Hope.

I don’t know exactly what to do and sometimes not even clear what to do next...

So I might be out in my garden planning…

or perhaps I do more exercise…during this time I even yearn for a bit of spring cleaning

keeping busy with all the projects I have and see around me…

spending more time journaling…praying for guidance…a purpose…and direction I need to go toward.

🦋
A Spring Pasta

This Spring Pasta Salad is an easy pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes, peppers spinach, and olives tossed in a tangy dressing. This pasta salad is perfect for welcoming Spring!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce bowtie pasta cooked and drained in cold water
  • 1 7 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 6.5 ounce can sliced olives
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup basil chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1 clove garlic

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine pasta, sundried tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, spinach, basil, and parmesan cheese. Toss until combined.
  • To make the dressing: In a small bowl whisk olive oil, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, garlic and salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad and serve.
Marcia
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Winter’s Over (well, almost)


Spring’s greatest joy beyond a doubt is when it brings the children out.

Edgar Guest


Hello, sweet friend…

Heading out to the coast…


Let’s go for a ride…


Welcoming Spring…

A Winter to Spring soup

A Spring Tuscan Soup

INGREDIENTS

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, thickly sliced
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15 -ounce) cans cannellini beans or other small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 cups baby kale or baby spinach, stems removed if tough
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  • Olive oil, to serve
  • Extra grated Parmesan, to serve

For the parmesan toasts:

  • 1/2 baguette, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

🦋When you start this soup, sauté vegetables first to give the soup lots of flavor. Let carrots, onion, and celery cook with sprigs of oregano, then stir in the beans and chicken stock

1. Cook the vegetables: In a soup pot, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, fresh oregano sprigs, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes until the vegetables look softened and the onions turn translucent.

2. Prepare the beans: On a plate, mash 1/2 cup of the beans with a fork or potato masher. Add them to the vegetables in the pot. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

3. Simmer the soup: Add the remaining beans to the pot and stir well. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover with the lid placed askew, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and the liquid is flavorful.

Discard the oregano sprigs; the leaves will have fallen into the soup. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

4. While the soup simmers, make the Parmesan toasts: Toast the bread until lightly golden on both sides. While the toast is still hot from the toaster, sprinkle with olive oil and cheese. If you have a toaster oven, return them to the toaster for 1 minute to melt the cheese; otherwise, arrange the toasts in a skillet over medium heat, cover, and warm for about 1 minute or until the cheese has melted.

5. Add the greens to the soup: Add the kale or spinach to the pot and simmering for another 2 minutes, or just until the greens wilt.

 6. Serve the soup: Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with oregano and more olive oil, if you like. Serve with Parmesan toasts and extra Parmesan for sprinkling.

Marcia
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Sofa That “Almost” Got Stuck in The Door


“Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front” -Nelson Mandela

Hello, sweet friends…

Waiting for our furniture to be delivered…

I hope you are enjoying these last few days of February.


A few days ago Joe and I had a brief scare (OK it was me who had the brief scare) when our sofa and chair were delivered.

Family room

The very kind young delivery man came inside our home and after looking around the doorway openings mentioned that perhaps there would be a problem getting the sofa into the family room.

Come on in!

A reassuring Joe suggested that perhaps they go ahead and bring the sofa inside.

I sort of liked the sofa in the living room…

When they got the couch all the way to the hallway doors it became apparent (to me) that the legs on the couch made it impossible to get the couch into the room. At this point I suggested that perhaps the legs needed to be removed.

Stuck in the middle of the hallway…

The young man continued to nudge and nudge angling the sofa this way and that way so that it was now stuck in the middle of the hallway.

Joe and I looked at each other and then pointing at two of the legs I stated that those needed to be removed.

Fortunately at this point I was getting listened to and the legs were removed allowing just enough leeway to fit it in the doorway.

The young man and his even younger helper were actually very sweet. (they just needed a little nudging)

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂


Here is the finished project…what do you think?

The truth is I’m a pretty good nudger myself having many years of changing furniture around.

Joe said it’s one of my best hobbies. (wink)

🌸


Tuna Noodle Casserole

If you haven’t tried a tuna noodle casserole in a while, you need to try this one. This week on Ash Wednesday I decided to serve it up for dinner.

Ingredients

One 8 ounce package wide egg noodles

3 tablespoons butter divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

one clove garlic minced

1/2 cup mushrooms sliced or chopped

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

16 ounce canned white tuna drained

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese finely shredded

1/2 cup cheddar jack cheese shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat a large baking dish with nonstick spray.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and mix with the Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, set aside.

Boil the noodles al- dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. When noodles are cooked, save about 1 cup of the pasta water then drain and set aside. (You can use the water later for making a creamier sauce)

While Noodles are cooking, add the olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until mushrooms are beginning to brown. Add garlic to the skillet for about the last 30 seconds of cook time.

Remove the mushrooms to a plate and return the skillet to the stove. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet, then whisk in the flour and let cook for about one minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, continuing to stir until it thickens. Add salt and pepper.

Remove skillet from heat and add the sour cream, stir until combined. Add the mushrooms back to skillet, then gently stir in the tuna, peas and the noodles. If needed, add a little of the pasta water to thin.

Carefully, transfer the mixture to the casserole dish, top with cheddar jack cheese and then the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Marcia
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments