Archive for January, 2008

Childhood comfort

This week has been incredibly stressful. I am so happy that tomorrow brings the arrival of February and soon my favorite holiday….Groundhog’s Day.

I love Groundhog’s Day, it is unpretentious. The day warrants for nothing. A brief anticipation of what Punxsutawney Phil will experience when he crawls out of hibernation….I know, I know! In Maine we have little of no expectations of Phil. All I know is that Winter is not yet over by far. So we all go back into hibernation and wait for spring….in the meantime this is dinner tonight. One my favorite recipes for a cold winter night! Homemade Chicken Tortellini Soup or Brodo. Enjoy! Make sure you have some good crispy bread to mop up every last bit!


* 7 3/4 cups chicken broth
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 (9 ounce) package of fresh cheese tortellini
* 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken


In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, combine the broth, tomatoes, spinach, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes; add the tortellini and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes or until tortellini is heated through.

After dinner we are booking our flights and accommodations to Italy…….wooo hooo!

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Life the way I see it.

Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Well another Mad Monday is underway. After an uneventful weekend, I return to work to have to do a Monday Morning Fix. Don’t you hate it when others screw up something and you have to make it right?

I don’t want to rant, so I will start my week in a better outlook. Whenever I need a fix, I go to the wild…or rather into the wild. I find peace and serenity like no other in the wildlife. In fact the wild, or nature is therapeutic. After a cold and sunny start to the day, I drove a short distance from where I live, back to nature. I was inclined to spend the entire afternoon but the brisk temperature, drove me home to a warm reprieve. The beauty that surrounds me is surreal at times. These deer in the photo came to me in no time. Soon they were enjoying the saltiness of sunflowers seeds right out of my hands. The warmth of their tongues glued to my skin. A bit freakish a first, but an extreme and unexpected delight. Nature has a way of giving us what we need, when we need it. This spot is only about 300 yards away from where my Dad, passed away of a heart attack very suddenly in 1978. Whenever I am in this area I feel at peace, and these deer really added to the peacefulness of the day. The air was bitterly cold and windy but the sun filled the sky for the afternoon. I wonder if he had something to do with that? Thanks Dad!

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Ugh, bad week in the making! The new semester start up has resulted in all sorts of crisis for students…it is making me MAD! I feel better now, weekly rant!

Anyway, back to the blogging. I am begging for spring, winter just won’t let up. It keeps coming back incessantly. No reprieve from the cold and dark, barren landscape. Two nights ago the temps dipped to -35 degrees here. What was once so glorious a season, is now a hindrance to me.

We are shopping for our travel package to return to Europe in June. Normally I tend to get a wee bit stressed until we have ticket confirmations in hand. This year the prices are very high and dollar is very weak, compared to the Euro. Each day we watch as the stock exchange makes me me nervous. Now the Bush Administration is telling everyone there will be a tax break and a tax incentive refund! What is wrong with the picture? Hello! Drop the tax rates to begin with! Make people go to work, that will stimulate the economy! Whoops, sorry another rant! I hope we soon see the value of the good ole USA dollar come back to life. Otherwise my travel budget may have to be cut somewhat this year. Tuscan Villa, daily food/wine budget, shopping budget…it will all suffer.

In the meantime, I won”t hold my breath waiting for the check to come from the government.  According to Excite News, “I believe we can find common ground to get something done that’s big enough, effective enough so that an economy that is inherently strong gets a boost – to make sure that this uncertainty doesn’t translate into more economic woes for our workers and small business people,” Bush said Tuesday in the Cabinet Room.

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Tuscan Treats

Like the night before Christmas, I wait anxiously with anticipation to book our next flight to Europe. I live in a world of daydream, I fantasize about our travels to far away and exotic places surrounding the globe. Travel is our life. It is our passion.

Thoughts of travel fill my head, and every night I dream we are once again in Tuscany driving through the narrow roads of the Chianti region, or navigating the Autostrada to the Dolomites of the Alps. I pull out my travel journal to satisfy my intense cravings for more….I am addicted.

Just when you think Tuscany could not be any more beautiful, you stumble upon the narrow swath of concentrated vineyards called Chianti and you fin d yourself in a land of visual and culinary magic. In unfurls for 30 miles from Florence to Siena along the postcard scenic Chiantigiana Road. All along the this road there are signs for Degustazione, inviting you to taste the super Tuscan reds or Chianti at generations old estates and wine producers. Now do you “see” why? 🙂

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Well another week has come and gone, now January is half over! Winter has lashed out at us once again, burying us under another 8 inches of new fallen snow yesterday. An unexpected snow day!!!!! Wooo Hooo, the first day of the new semester and a snow day….how cool is that?

On Sunday afternoon I had the opportunity to meet with my niece, Amy her mother Tammy, (ex-sil) and my great niece Emma, for a Birthday luncheon at the Olive Garden Restaurant. We had a great lunch and enjoyed the sunshine on Sunday. Emma is quite a handful, she will celebrate her third Birthday next month on the 22nd of February. A Pirate Party Theme…is what I am told. Now isn’t that what every three year old little girl wants for a party? hehehehe

Now that January is half over, just another two weeks before Groundhog Day, my favorite holiday. I hope spring is just around the corner for us. Winter has held it’s grip tight on us this year. Even though I know that we still have another three months of nasty weather here, I still hope for the best. Winer has never been my favorite season, even if I used to be a cross-country skier. Short days, and long cold nights always leave me in a slump. I tend to go into hibernation for about 6 weeks during the winter. The lack of daylight and sunshine is detrimental to my mental health. So I need to think of sunshine and the need to travel is high on my list of “want to do’s” this time of year.

Don and I are already in the midst of planning our summer travels to Italy. The dollar is in desperate need of help against the Euro. The euro is already $1.48 as of yesterday. It was about $1.36 last year during travel to Italy. So we are fine tuning our itinerary and checking flight prices and hotels, and then we will book our trip. I am always so excited when that day comes….tickets in hand! Then I start dreaming of travel. I can fall asleep and have dreams with full travel days in them…right down to where we go and what we eat……I dream in Technicolor as well…..brilliant green cypress trees, yellow lemon trees, blue skies, turquoise ocean, snow capped alpine meadows, red pasta sauce and pizza, pastel colored gelato….etc….you get the picture!

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Blackeyed Susan, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Well the sun is shining today, we have had wind, snow, rain, more rain and now sun this week. Makes for an exciting mess in the winter. So I needed to remind myself of what flowers in summer look like. I love any sort of sunflower-related bud….so here are the black-eyed susan’s. Or why couldn’t they be named “black-eyed debbie’s…….

As winter’s grip continues I shall look forward to Spring. Meantime I will surround myself with scenes of flowers I have enjoyed. Think sunshine and warm winds!

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feet & heads

Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Last night I watched some of my favorite shows on the tube. Including Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. I am proud to say that I’d love to be a food journalist. My husband laughs, but I think I could do it and love it! the perils of travel and food. A love and sometimes hate relationship between the two. For us it is usually an acquired composition, such as harmony and lyrics in a song. Singapore, Thailand, South America, China, Japan, and Malaysia call to to me for comparison. Shall I quit my day job?

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Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Now that 2008 has descended upon us, Don and I are beginning to make plans for worldwide travel once again. I know, I know, we don’t live a normal life, but what is “normal” anyway? It is all relative, after all we are happy and that is what truly matters to us. We forgo a lot of what other couple have together. Time to spend together. We chose to live this way for now. So we do splurge once a year for a wonderful vacation alone together. Our travels bring us closer and provide a time that only the two of us can share. We are very fortunate to have each found our soulmate who shares the same!

Travel has become an expression of who we are and what we like. We love to immerse ourselves in the local culture of where ever we end up. We have many enjoyable tales to tell when we return home from our adventures. Each year our list of “to do’s” only grows longer. This year’s travel does bring some slight anticipation for me, as I will be on my way to a healthier lifestyle and weight loss.

Food during travel can become an obsession to enjoy all of the culinary delights that we can sample before leaving our destination. I remember the first time we traveled to Italy and having to sample all the different flavors of gelato, because we would no longer be able to eat it once we returned home. Sort of like the “last supper syndrome”. Well it turns out that we have been back to Italy every summer since that trip. Each time we sample the gelato we laugh about the first trip to Italy. As my lifestyle begins to change in 2008 so will my thoughts about travel and eating. A small sampling will be the only requirements to keep my taste buds under control….hehehehe 🙂

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This is where I live…..a cold, barren, caught in winter’s deadly grip, wasteland. Yes it is beautiful, but today’s temps are hovering around the zero degree mark. Last night was a balmy -15 degrees F. It will not be Spring soon enough for me. I need some sun. I need a vacation to plan. Did I say a “vacation” to Italy or France perhaps?    hmmmmm    😉

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Here’s to wishing you all the best of 2008. I’m off to a slow start this year, as I have been in bed sick for three days with a cold/flu. Don left to return to Kentucky on Sunday morning and I have been sick ever since. I guess that is what love does to you…hehehe

The Holiday’s have came and went for another year. we all spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mom. Lots of cooking, cleaning, baking and fondly remembering the days gone bye filled our holiday. Aunt Toots came over and spent time with us as well. Emma and Amy stayed and enjoyed Christmas with us all. I was so exciting to see Emma enjoy Christmas morning as a 2 1/12 year old. Diving under the tree to retrieve her gifts left from Santa and us. I remember those days as a child anticipating the morning of Christmas. Anticipation filled the air and no one could sleep. This year Emma was up at 7am ready to dig into the cornucopia of delights. Then I fixed a huge breakfast for us all. The rest of the day was spent visiting with each other and enjoying the memories surrounding us. At 4pm we feasted on a turkey and all the trimmings, then homemade cheesecake, cookies, truffles, chocolates and sparkling cider. All in all it was a great holiday.

Now we have winter to look forward to. We already have way too much snow. We are in a winter weather pattern already this year. It has snowed just about every other day, and now the ground is hidden beneath 5 ft of snow waiting patiently for spring to make an appearance.

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