Sunday, May 24, 2015

Missing in St Ives

It was such a welcoming sight that there was just no space for melancholy. Not that there should be any. Who could be sad in a place like this?

I had walked along to my most favorite cafe with its two lovely Italians who faithfully dish out luscious Italian treats and speak to one another in Italian. It is nice just to sit there by the window looking out at the water, and listen to them.

"Thank you so, so much for coming," the young man says to his customers in his charming accent. "See you again soon." Their customers do see them again soon, because no one can resist coming back to where the sun is always shining, even on a rainy day.

It was the week after Easter and the weather was brilliant. People were out in their droves, walking along or sitting and soaking the beauty all in. That is not to say that it was exactly warm, mind you. The short pants you see in the photograph above are actually hilarious because when I snapped the picture, my fingers were just about numb. 

The day had begun with this chocolate twist (a take-off on the chocolate croissant which has more mass to it, and is therefore preferable) and coffee outside my cottage, in the sun. As I munched, people wandered by and I saw them staring rather sneakily in my direction. Once in a while someone would actually point. I had seen them staring and pointing earlier, too, from my kitchen window. In fact they had been doing that every day since my arrival. Why, might you ask, were they staring? It was because this must be the most popular and enviable cottage any of us ever saw. It was cute and white, only yards from the high tide, and had stunning sea views. Any person in the near vicinity would dearly want to be the lucky person inside. Who couldn't sit there and write the great American novel? Only, the staring hordes were a bit distracting and I couldn't help staring at them right back. 

But there was something bothering me quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, everything was wonderful; there was food and drink at my very fingertips, scones presented themselves to me at every turn, and in all likelihood the same would be true the next day. But still, there was something ... sadly missing.

The SconeLady's husband.

For it is well known that, however far you may roam, nothing on this earth can ever replace the joy and companionship of a good husband.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Pioneer In All Of Us

I have watched it with both of the mothers in my life, and been inspired every time.

My mother-in-law had it on one day last year when I wandered into her room. She had such a cozy set-up in there with two of the most squishy and comfortable butter-yellow recliners, smack dab within eyeshot of the television set. She had her remote in hand and was fast forwarding through some commercials. She, like us, did not like commercials and would not listen to even a few seconds of one if she could help it. 

"What are you watching?" I asked curiously.

"Oh, this is The Pioneer Woman! She talks about food and makes it for her audience. She lives on a massive ranch in the middle of nowhere."

Hmm. In the middle of nowhere. That sounded intriguing. So I sat down in the other recliner, pushed the handle back, and settled in for a good watch. My mother-in-law had scads of The Pioneer Woman on what she called 'TEE VOE', whatever that was. I had never had it and was amazed at her prowess with it.

The program shows The Pioneer Woman's family, her ranch, her gigantic home (called 'The Lodge') and mostly, her kitchen. It was all immensely comfortable looking and happy. The four children are home-schooled and ride horses and help with the multitudes of cattle and everything else that goes into ranching. It was awesome.

Ever since that day, I have wandered past my mother-in-law's room in hopes that she will have a stockpile of The Pioneer Woman episodes playing themselves out in front of those recliners. It became a tradition. She took to saving out her favorites to play for me. "But haven't you already seen it? Do you really want to see it again?" I would ask.

"There can never be too much of The Pioneer Woman," she would say with a laugh.

She is now, sadly, gone from our lives, and upon my first visit to the farm after this happened, I crept down the hall to her room. Peering in, I felt as though she should be sitting there in her recliner, waiting for me to join her. 

Both of our mothers are, and were, pioneering women who raised their children on farms. It wasn't an easy life, but it has made all the difference in the world. It's nice to know that out there in the middle of nowhere, a red-haired lady is making a difference in her world.

Pardon me while I tune in to her next episode. I think it's something to do with chocolate peanut butter pie and Salisbury Steak (and I don't even need 'TEE VOE').

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

The Pioneer Woman, courtesy of the Food Network

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fortune Cookie Gets It (almost) Right

"Can't we take her out?" requested the 7-year-old. "Look, she is so patiently waiting.." But, it was not to be. The darling Athena dog would not be coming out of her crate anytime soon, as there was a party forming. And everyone knows that growing doggies are not known to be delicate with so much activity afoot.

"What do you think she would do if she was let out?" Grandma asked curiously, thinking.

"Oh.. Well, I think she would probably run around the decorations and eat them all up. That is what I think she would do."

Question answered. Doggie stays.

But she is such a nice little thing and has provided much comfort and entertainment during her 4 months at the Little Blue House. 

She has been known to have adventures -
  • escaping from the house and tearing about in the front faster than any boy could ever think of running. 
  • behaving as if she might be another human
  • softly licking an outstretched hand until Mommy says, "No lick"
  • collapsing upon every lawn passed during a training walk, "But Mommy I'm SO exhausted!"
  • falling asleep in her food dish
And now it was time to take the three out for a supper while the decorations were going up.

"Now where would you three like to eat?" asked Grandpa.

"Wendy's!" "Chipotle!" "PICK UP STICKS!" they cried. In the end, it was Pick Up Sticks, and everyone was happy. I could see why the moment we entered:

What is this? I wondered. The new Wave of kid-friendliness seems to have hit Pick Up Sticks. It was a smashing hit and no one had a chance to become restless whilst the food was being prepared. Grandpa ordered, paid, got drinks and lids, procured napkins, dished up Honey Chicken pieces, noodles, vegetables, white rice, straws, and in the end, fortune cookies.

"Mine says 'Everything you touch will prosper'!! cried the tall blond big brother. He went about touching us all and saying, "You - and you - and you will now prosper!"

"What does mine say, Grandma?" piped the littlest. 

"Ok, yours says 'Why didn't you eat your peas?'" she replied, with a wink.

"But I didn't have any peas.." he said, uncertainly.

"Sorry, just kidding. Yours really says, 'You are talented in many ways.'"

This brought a bright smile, and then the small girl enquired, "What does my fortune say, Grandma?"

"Let's have a look. Ok, it says, 'Your shoes will make you happy today.'"

"Oh," she said, "...but I think I have a blister.." 

Well, it isn't the first time a fortune cookie got it wrong, I thought. Then we loaded everybody up, snapped them in, backed up and headed out. I glanced back toward the little girl who was staring at her shoes, and who in fact has had a predilection toward shoes for ages (like many women). So the fortune cookie was a little bit wrong, although not all wrong. No, not nearly all.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Nest vs The Perch

Even a shy person must learn to grab their moments when they come, because that moment may not come again anytime soon. Thus it was when the SconeLady met the Author.

Meeting Jane Kirpatrick was both fun and unforgettable, with the added advantage of her being so amazingly sweet and accessible! I have already mentioned to you the fact that Jane came without any noticeable posse to keep her in a bubble. It was lovely. And she offered some input that has already changed how we do things around here.

You might remember that I am currently writing a book, a first for me, but something that has happened to Jane at least 16 times. 16!!. Because it has happened to her so many times, I approached her with a question..

"Hello Jane. I am intersted in knowing what your work space is like. Do you function with a laptop, and then float around the different parts of your home? Or do you use a desktop device, and stay in one place?"

She smiled and said, "Actually I do use a laptop when traveling, but at home I use a desktop. The space looks sort of like..." and she described the work space she and her husband had devised. It was fascinating.

The SconeLady's 'Nest'   
Everything is set up so that Jane has her research materials, her timeline, her reference books and all her computer programs to hand. Within reach. Never has to drag herself up to go in search. It's all right there. Her husband built her a 3-sided desk to neatly fit every one of these items so that there is no clutter except what clutter she wants to have. It was fascinating to hear about and to visualize. Already I was thinking about my own space and its functionality for me. It is actually a little bit like a nest, and as such, is comfortable.  

There I can sit, snuggled into the rather aged leather love seat and ottoman, and write to my heart's content. But it does have drawbacks, including the fact that the laptop screen might be a bit small for me. A larger screen would mean that I might not have to squint. That is significant. 

So after my discussion with Jane I shared it all with my kindly husband. Together we thought through ideas for space. And computers. And desks and chairs. We are in the trial stage. So I am seated here now in my perch with the nicely heftier iMac, and typing away to you, my dear Readers. I can much better see the larger print on the larger screen, and love it! You can see that I have a wonderful view to gaze at as these fingers fly over the keys. Hmm. This could work.

           All of the devices are on the Cloud so if I work on one, the new stuff appears on all.

I think that rather than having an either/or scenario and having to choose between the two, I shall embrace both! The nest is comfy, and less isolated. The perch offers a larger font (which the SconeLady's eyes will appreciate) and gives her a smashing view. They BOTH work, don't you think?

Either way, it was fun to hear what Jane found helpful. And what Jane found helpful was helpful enough to produce for her those 16 books that have become beloved by so many. 16. It's such an imposing number when you are still all the way back on lonely number one..

But that's ok! Because this first one might be a doozy.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apple Watch

It's amazing how satisfying just one little trip to an Apple Store can be. Especially if you are going to try on an APPLE WATCH SPORT. 

At the beginning of the day I had no idea that such an idea would present itself by its end. But it did because the SconeLady's husband asked about whether or not she would like to go try one on. To take a look. To (perhaps) order one, if I did like it. An early birthday gift!

So what else could a girl possibly say to such a proposal but 'yes!'? We instantly grabbed up our keys and fled. Drove over the canyon and onto the dread freeway, then along to Victoria Gardens where the Apple Watch lay.

Apple Store, Victoria Gardens CA

As we approached I could see numbers of people coming in and out of the iconic glass entryway of the Apple Store and - good grief! - the place was huge. Perfectly cavernous. The last time we had come, it had been a nice cozy sized room with normal sized tables containing all the latest gear. Now, it was at least four times its former size, and all abuzz. Apple people in their cool looking outfits, carrying their obligatory iPhones or pads or watches leaped to help us. We had to wait not even a half minute before someone was at eye level, ready to roll.

We had a 'try-on' appointment, so the Apple lady said something like, and which watch would you like to begin with? So I gazed.

Apple Watch case to drool over

In front of me was the case holding numerous Apple Watches in a variety of colors, materials, and sizes. I suppose it was a bit like a candy store, so colorful and attractive was it. I was soon drawn to the Apple Watch SPORT with its super cute soft bands in white, black, blue, green, and pink coral. She guided us to the secret drawer containing watches we could try on, and I started with a white. It was Gorgeous

Here are just a few of the cool things an Apple Watch can do:

  • send and receive Messages and emails
  • receive and make hands-free phone calls (a'la Dick Tracy)
  • ask Siri all sorts of interesting questions and be answered immediately
  • get turn-by-turn directions to your destination
  • pay for things at a cafe or store or anywhere else you choose
  • watch your activity level, calorie count, distance walked, heart rate, etc
  • listen to your music, your podcasts, in fact anything you wish to hear
One day the thing will be able to wash the clothes and do your taxes too. (Oh wait - it already does your taxes, right?) 

I wonder when there will be an app for cleaning toilets. Until then, I say that technology has not gone nearly far enough.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Apple -  Watch Sport</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Apple Watch</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Poached Along the Beach

How to reach the Porthminster Beach Cafe

You need only to stroll a short distance along Pednolva Walk (what they call The Warren), and on down the sands of Porthminster Beach to find it.  And you'd best be hungry because you will want space to put what you find there.

It is, in my opinion, St Ives' finest food. It is not fancy food necessarily, but fine all the same. It is what makes the Porthminster Beach Cafe our favorite spot of them all. 

My kindly sister and I saw it, but did not go. We meant to go; we wanted to go. But alas, I think we forgot our plan until it was too late, and time to get them onto their train in the end. But the SconeLady had frequented this favored of all places many times, and next time a sister visits we will certainly make our way to it. I think breakfast is their finest hour. The items I have enjoyed there are:

  • the superb pancake stack
  • two poached free range eggs, with sour dough toast
  • the semi fry-up, including bacon, mushroom, tomato, toast and egg
  • freshly made special granola with fruit

There is a long list of other items that I never got to, so good were the above four. But I did see Ted enjoying the full fry-up, which included b
acon, local sausage, homemade potato hash, field mushroom, baked beans, toasted sour dough, tomato and two fried eggs. It looked amazing!

Breakfast menu, and everything on it is good

I mentioned their poached eggs here once and shared that I would like to learn to make poached eggs myself. They are always so good but I had despaired of ever having them at home (it sounded so messy). There came forthwith a very encouraging note from a faithful reader (umm, my brother) stating that he had it all under control. That there was a splendid egg poacher he could recommend to the SconeLady, and not only just recommend but - he would give me one. Actually, not just one but two egg poachers! I was stunned.

He came through, and brought my egg poachers to me in a lovely box all safely wrapped and ready for the microwave. It took me a while, but once I was back home I took out the poachers and went at it. This was so easy - you break an egg into a poacher, and add a teaspoon of water. Put the lid of the poacher on, and microwave it for 20 seconds. Let it sit 20 seconds, and then cook for a further 20. And, voila! There is your breakfast.

You must put your toast in the toaster before starting to cook the eggs because they get done so quickly. Here is what they look like:

New egg poaching pot for the SconeLady

Finished product of the egg poaching pot for the SconeLady

My egg and toast were so delicious! I must thank my sweet brother for making this possible. I never thought a poached egg at home, without needing to get into the car or pay a dime, would be so spectacularly easy. 

And whenever I have this delicious treat, I think of that special place along the shore where so many times I have enjoyed food at its best. It almost makes my fingers fly toward Safari to look at - airline prices....! (Uh-oh..).

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Neighbor

He saw me outside, clipping roses. I wanted some to brighten our dinner table that night, and there were just a few ready. Hmm. Maybe I could use the smaller vase... 

I kneeled down to start clipping the first, a lonely long stemmed white. "Do you like roses?" my neighbor asked me hesitantly. I straightened up and held the prickly thing, turning my attention toward him. He had been slowly rolling his trash receptacles up the long driveway, and was now resting against one of them.

"Yes, I do," said I. "I love them, in fact. It's such a nice day today that I thought I would fill a vase or two." He smiled and indicated the roses covering the ground at the edge of his drive.

"Well, my wife doesn't like them very much, so if you want to clip some of these for a vase, please feel free." I looked at him and thought, how very nice! They were such lovely things, always so well kept and weeded, and I had long admired them. Wondered how they could keep them so consistently wonderful looking.

"Really?" I finally asked. "You mean, I can take some?"

"Absolutely you can! Any time you want to, you just bring out your clippers and have at it," he said, smiling. It was just so utterly kind of him. I was touched. Our families had been neighbors for simply years, seeing one another frequently as we drove up to our homes next to each other's. They had loved our three grandchildren and been sad when they moved away. The presence of children adds light to every neighborhood. And now, he was offering me his roses!

"Thank you!" I said, and instantly I took him up on it. Went in and got a yellow pitcher that I kept ready on a table for that very reason. Yellow is just such a creamy, buttery color that I find it hard to resist. Any flower would be at home in it. Out it came with me, and I gently clipped some of my next door neighbor's lovely blooms. Not so many that it would be noticeably bare anywhere. Balanced, as you might say.

"Well, I'll leave you to your clipping then," he said, after a while.

"Ok, goodbye, and thank you again, so much!" I said as he walked through the gate next to his garage. The gate closed, and then click! went its lock, and he was gone.

I went on clipping roses on both sides of our dividing grass, thinking about the flowers that would soon be sharing the same space. It was nice. Their roses were petite, beautifully red and hugging the ground amongst the leaves. Ours were taller, the blooms fatter and fewer, but together they looked as though they had been meant for each other. 

I could hear my neighbor puttering and working in his back yard, and thought how nice it might be to maybe make some chocolate chip cookies, to share. To have conversations that are a little longer than usual. To lose our shyness just a bit. 

Yes. I think that is what I will do. Chocolate chip cookies are always an ice breaker. Even between neighbors who have lived side-by-side for years.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady