Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yasuyo and Ted were our neighbors and friends for 5 years. After their assignment was completed, they returned to their home in Japan 8 years ago along with their baby Kento who was born here and was just a few months old. We kept in touch with occasional emails and holiday greetings. We were very happy to have their visit on Saturday. Life has gone on and now Kento is nine years old, very polite and intelligent, such an amazing boy to have gone from the baby I remember to this big handsome boy we now can see. In fact, Saturday was Kento's ninth birthday so we celebrated with strawberry birthday cake and candles. It feels like the years melted away and we were together again!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shepard's Pie

A couple of weeks ago Marta asked me for my recipe for Shepard's Pie. I learned to make this following Tom's request; Shepard's Pie was served in a pub in London where Tom had been working. (London is an important city in our family. Both of my sons met their future wives in that city!)

I had never made Shepard's Pie before but I looked it up in a recipe book and have been making it ever since. It takes under an hour to make and is especially good on a cool dark day, like a comfort food. The leftovers are tastier the next day when you heat them up for your lunch.

Shepard’s Pie

1 pound ground beef (or turkey.)

1 chopped onion

a few chopped mushrooms (if available but not necessary)

Could add any desired vegetable such as peas (1 cup)

Beef broth ½ to 1 cup or however you like it. (This could be canned or dry flavoring mixed with hot water such as bouillion)

2 tablespoons Cornstarch

4 or 5 potatoes, boiled, drained, and mashed with milk until they are smooth

grated mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup or whatever you like.

Fry the onion and meat in a little olive oil until browned. Add any desired vegetables and cook 5 minutes. Add broth and heat until boiling.

Then thicken the broth to make gravy. Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with a little water in a cup to make a thick paste, then add this slowly to above meat, veg, and broth mixture in pan. Stir and heat until it thickens to a thick gravy.

At the same time prepare the mashed potatoes and have them hot and available.

Spray an oven proof casserole with Pam or other cooking spray. Pour hot meat mixture into the casserole. Next put the mashed potatoes in a layer on top of the meat mixture. Spread all over the top like icing on a cake. Next sprinkle the mozzarella cheese in a thin layer on top.

Heat the broiler in the oven, place the casserole in the oven, and broil a very short time, less than 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and turns slightly browned. It is ready! Watch the broiler carefully because it is easy to forget and burn it.

It is almost asparagus season in Michigan! Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I prepare them the Spanish way, as shown by Marta, sauted quickly with a little olive oil.

Here I am with my student Harris, who is leaving tomorrow for Japan after completing nearly 5 years of work here. Doesn't he look very young? Believe it or not, he is a family man with 4 children. We have worked together on Business English and conversation skills during these 5 years. During one of our first lessons, I used the word "enthusiastic" because it describes him perfectly; describing his approach to work and study. It has been a pleasure to teach Harris and I wish him well in his new life at home in Japan.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We had a lovely day today with Kelly and Matthew at the lake. Tom worked today in the city so he left last night; Kelly, Matthew, Tony and I spent today at the lake. Kelly works on line from home so I helped with Matthew while she tried to work. I discovered that Matthew loves to be outdoors; we walked down to the lake a few times and enjoyed the view plus checked out Grandpa's raking.

Late afternoon we all headed out to a nearby town for dinner; here you can see us all at the restaurant. After some good food and conversation, Kelly and Matthew continued on to the city and we returned to the lake house.

Tomorrow morning we will head out early for the long drive home. It was a wonderful few days away from the routines of our lives spent with our youngest grandchild.

Sunday at the Lake House

We've been enjoying a wonderful weekend in New York at Tom and Kelly's lake house. Saturday was very warm and beautiful so we were busy with outdoor activities. We did some painting, raking, and other small tasks around the house.

Sunday morning we went to a beautiful and friendly little church near here. Matthew was all dressed up in his carseat ready to go.

Here are Tom, Kelly, and Matthew at the end of the service when we were ready to leave. The church has beautiful stained glass windows which you can see in the background.

Matthew was so good and fell asleep at the end. There is a rocking chair in the very back of the church where a grandmother can sit and rock a sleepy baby, and he even stayed asleep when he transferred to his father's arms!

Matthew enjoys spending time on the floor, crawling, and playing with toys. When we arrived here Friday evening, he was curious and very cautious about us, but now he readily smiles and puts his arms up to me for picking up.

Here he is climbing on his father. At 11 months he will soon take his first steps. We could see he was practicing standing and almost letting go with both hands. He's very curious about many things, especially likes getting into the box where his toys and various items are stored.

It is spring in the Northern Hemisphere of the world. Here is a beautiful picture of cherry blossoms in Japan.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Lake House
The view this morning from the deck of Tom and Kelly's lake house in the Poconos Mountains of New York is peaceful and clear. We are planning a full day, mostly playing with Matthew who is 11 months old. Yesterday we left home at 8:15 AM, driving almost 12 hours, arriving here in Eldred, New York, (about 2 hours outside New York City) by 8 PM. The day was beautiful for driving, warm and sunny, so we took turns, traveling highway 80 across Ohio and Pennsylvania. The reward was seeing Matthew who is polishing his skills of crawling, pulling himself up to a standing position, and preparing soon to walk. Such a joy to be his grandmother! (I am claiming his blond wavy hair for myself!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Dancer

Gabriel's dancing style has unique and spirited moves!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Playing at the Dairy Queen
One day during spring break was cloudy and cold, too cold and blustery to be outside very long. The Dairy Queen near Gabriel's house has an indoor play area, so that's where we went. Seats just outside the play area are conveniently placed for a grandmother to sit, drink coffee, knit, and take a video!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring Break

Last week was spring break in Michigan and I had a wonderful week.

First I saw my old friend Karen who lives in Connecticut but was visiting her mother in Michigan. We were roommates at the university many years ago. She is one of my oldest friends; when we see each other, our conversations pick up right where they left off. (Incidentally the dates on all these pictures are incorrect! I think my camera reset itself.)

Next I went on to Steve and Marta's house to spend spring break with Gabriel whose Montessori School was closed for the week. While his parents went to their offices we had so much fun with many activities like going to the library, going to the children's museum, playing in the park, watching movies, and playing with toys.
Here are Gabriel and Marta on a sunny day enjoying crocuses that were growing in the yard.

Gabriel is a busy little boy. He loves dinosaurs, cars and trucks, Diego, chocolate chip cookie making, playing in the park.

One of the best things about being a grandmother is spending time together and especially baking cookies!

One special day Marta, Gabriel, and I went to see Steve's office where this picture was taken. He has a very nice office at a very impressive company. Here he is at his desk on a Friday afternoon, almost ready to go home.