Thursday, October 27, 2011

Acorn Squash And Sausage

This is a recipe that has evolved over many years. A friend shared it with me, and I have made changes so that by the time the casserole gets to the table all I have to do is eat and enjoy. The amount made here is enough for two because that's how many I usually cook for now. I use an 8 x 10 pan that is the perfect size ~

Acorn Squash and Sausage Casserole

1 medium sized acorn squash
a pound or so of ground sausage, spicy or sweet
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of bread crumbs [I use dry stuffing mix]

Cut the squash in half, clean out the seeds, but leave the skin on. Make each half wet and turn upside down, with skin up, on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until squash is tender, about 45 minutes. While squash is baking, brown sausage and onion in a skillet. Once squash is cooked, remove from oven, peel, slice and place in single layer in greased casserole. Mix bread crumbs into sausage and spread over squash. Bake at 350 until hot through and nicely browned, about 30 minutes.

I haven't tried this with other kinds of squash because I like acorn, but it would probably work with your favorite. The recipe works with any kind of sausage, although if it's a mild flavor I do spice it up with basil and oregano.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

That Would Be Another "No"

I forgot to tell you that I did get a bit of painting done on Monday. I slipped in a quick base coat, with another coat or two needed and on the agenda for tomorrow.

I haven't forgotten about the recipes I promised to share. Tomorrow. I promise.

I was gone most of today, and I came home to find a rejection letter in answer to my most recent job application. Qualified? Yes. Good interview? Yes. Am I just starting out? Yes. least I am trying to....

Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It Was A Monday

I like to paint. Walls, woodwork, ceilings, shingles ~ you name it and I can paint it. The prep can be tedious, and the painting itself requires attention to detail, but I love the sense of accomplishment when the job is finished.

So when my daughter needed a bit of touch up on some woodwork, I volunteered. A couple weeks ago I applied spackle to the spots. Yesterday I had time to do what should have been about twenty minutes of painting.

It was Monday. I should have known things would not go smoothly....

I am a firm believer that paint can be used as long as its usable, no matter how old it is. Experts at the paint counter have tried to talk me out of this belief but to no avail. The paint will often outlive the can, which was the case with the unmarked can of trim paint I brought up from the cellar at my daughter's house yesterday. I opened the can and started stirring, when the can started leaking. I am not unaccustomed to this problem so I had set the can on a plastic bag [always set a paint can on something that protects the surface below because you never know]. The can was in worse shape than I expected so I needed reinforcement plastic bags while I found another container for the paint.

The search sent me to the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I figured while I was down there I would look for the organic drain cleaner I remembered buying because the bathroom sink was draining slowly.

Everything was wet. Uh oh. The drain inset in the kitchen sink was loose again and water had seeped through to below. I pulled everything out from the cabinet, pitched everything that was waterlogged, and placed a bucket under the drain to catch any other drips until we could get someone in to fix it.

I then poured the trim paint into a plastic bucket, but before I started painting I thought I could unclog the bathroom sink with a plunger. After all, the painting would only take a few minutes and I had water on my mind....

It was a good plan in theory. Unfortunately, when I started plunging the sink water started backing up in the bathtub. Huh. This development seemed to indicate a larger problem.

I called my daughter's neighbor who has rescued us from these situations over the years. I thought he could recommend a plumber. The call went to voicemail, so I called Ken [working in New Hampshire this week] to see what he thought. Well, he could check things out on Friday. That wouldn't work. I made this mess and I couldn't leave my daughter without a working bathroom sink or tub.

An hour and a half had passed. I needed help. I caught another neighbor as he was coming home from work, a second person who has helped us with home repairs over the years [we were fortunate for years to have such skilled neighbors, and now they graciously help my daughter]. I asked him if he could recommend a plumber. He asked what the problem was. I explained the situation, and he said he could take a look.

It turns out that all the plumbing was involved in the problem. As he worked, the kitchen sink started gurgling, too, which meant the clog was somewhere down the line. He took the kitchen sink apart and used rags to stop up the kitchen pipe, the bathtub pipe and both drains in the bathroom sink. He plunged. He adjusted rags. He went back and forth between the bathroom and kitchen, and he plunged some more. The clog finally let go and water started draining in the bathroom. Woohoo!

He got the bathroom all put back together and went to work on the kitchen. I said that we'd need to have that drain inset looked at soon, and he said he thought he had a replacement part in his truck...and sure enough he did. He took care of that problem on the spot. He had the part because another neighbor up the street had just given him extra parts he had left over from the kitchen counter work he does.

Sighhhhhh. I was so grateful for his help. I couldn't imagine telling my daughter upon her return from a twelve-hour workday that I had inadvertently clogged all her plumbing.

The neighbor had said to me when I first explained the problem that it wasn't the end of the world. It felt that way because I didn't know how to fix the mess. As I watched him work I could see how satisfying it was for him to make things work again. I feel that way when I know how to do something and figure out how to fix a problem...

which tells me I should stick to painting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Self Indulgence

Three nights last week I made delicious dinners: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh kale, and warm homemade applesauce on Wednesday; quesadillas, Spanish rice, and kale salad on Thursday; and baked acorn squash with sausage and breadcrumbs on Friday. I was on a roll.

Then we had leftovers all weekend. Saturday I made oatmeal cookies.

I still had enough tidbits this week to keep me fed and happy while Ken was out of town.

Tonight I made vegetable bean soup, with pinto beans left over from the quesadillas [a recipe that is so good I will share it when I get the cookbook, a computer, and my glasses in the same room], kale salad, and apple muffins [another new recipe that is wonderful].

There was a shift from the dread of having to make dinner to thinking about what might taste good for dinner. The only expectations were the ones I put on myself...

and I carried that thinking right into the first three days this week. I don't have a cold or the flu. I haven't just had surgery. In fact I'm in excellent health. That doesn't mean that I can't take a few days off once in a while.

I spent three days without one "should."

It was heaven.

I spent one whole day in my quiet house with nothing on my agenda other than reading Julia's blog from the beginning. I started reading her sometime last year because my daughter kept sharing funny vignettes about Julia's kids. I'd been curious about her story and decided to take time to read it, and I'm glad I did. Julia persevered. She said it might not make sense to others that she wasn't giving up, but that was okay. Though our situations are in no way alike, I totally understand her unwillingness to let go of her heart's desire.

That doesn't mean that it's not a good idea to take a break once in a while.

Other things I did this week included eating Twizzlers, going to the movies with my daughter, hanging quilts on the clothesline for that fresh air smell, enjoying Netflix offerings that I know don't interest Ken, and taking long baths.

I feel refreshed. The laundry got done today and the car will get inspected tomorrow.

The world goes on whether I'm paying attention or not.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not Giving Up

Have you ever been in the middle of a project when you were ready to give up? You'd tried everything you could think of, nothing was working, and you wanted to give up. But you couldn't. You were smack dab in the middle ~ you couldn't go back because too many things had changed, and you couldn't go forward because you couldn't see the path ahead.

Then something happens, an event or a conversation.

Or nothing happens, or nothing visible to the eye happens. Maybe enough time passes that things work out, or the perspective about the process changes, or the desired outcome is no longer the same. It's possible to not be aware that things have changed until they have.

This train of thought just put me in mind of a quote from the movie Life As a House. The main character, George, shares an insight: "Change can be so constant that you don't even feel a difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't know that your life is better or worse until it is...or it can just blow you away and make you something different in an instant."

I'm still making sense of all the pieces.

Two things happened this week that started me thinking about all of this....

The first thing ~ I have small pads of paper all over the house. This week I changed over my sewing table from the small cabinet I've used for many years to a modern computer desk that gives me more room to work. In moving things around I discovered various notes I've taken while sewing. One caught my attention. On August 15 I wrote: The person I am now is not content with the life I have, yet that life until this moment has made me the person I have become. I didn't know how to reconcile those two things.

I didn't know what to do at the time. Things felt out of my control so I stopped thinking I had control over anything. I couldn't give up because it was my life that I was in the middle of. I did give in, slow down, and focus on each day.

It has been two months since I wrote those words.

Then this week the second thing happened. I was talking to a friend about what I've been up to lately. All of a sudden she said, "Sharon, you're making a life." Her comment took us both by surprise, but she's right.

Slowly, without realizing it, I am making a life that suits the person I am now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Every Shade Of Blue

We have made the most of the summer-like weather we are having this holiday weekend. Today Ken and I went to Popham Beach to take a walk. Nature is having its way and the beach has changed again since I was there last. Everything changes. Fortunately, the sky still holds every shade of blue.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October Begins

Four days into the month...

and I am hopeful that October will hold true to form and bring positive changes.

I feel good about the job interview I had today.

A quick count tells me that I'm coming up on a double-digit number of interviews. I have not felt good after every one, but I have felt successful after about half of them. We know how that has worked out. Or not.

Last night my stomach was upset. This after a day where my face broke out, typical with stress, and my left eye periodically twitched, a symptom of anxiety. I thought I was past worrying about interviews but apparently not.

I spent yesterday doing household chores, between scrubbing my face and checking the mirror to see if the twitch in my eye was obvious. With the onset of the upset stomach last night, I knew I needed to find a way to calm down or I wasn't going to make it to the interview today. I took a hot shower, bypassed the vitamins I usually take at night, and thought positive thoughts as I climbed between clean sheets.

Thankfully, I felt better all around this morning. I reminded myself that what happens... happens.

That thought helped me get through the interview, which included a more detailed description of the job and a good conversation with three women who are committed to helping the people in their community.

That thought hasn't helped me set aside how much I want the job. It's a newly formed grant-funded position, and ideas about how to make it work keep occurring to me.

It has been awhile since I was this excited about a position or felt like it was a job that would be an excellent fit for me.

I have done what I can do and now I need to wait. They are interviewing through October so it will be some weeks before I hear anything. The time will pass and I will know soon enough.

Tick, tick, tick....