Favorite Things: Calendar Updated and Improved to Accommodate National Margarita Day!

If you notice today’s date, February 22nd, on the Popular Mechanics calendar and compare it with the suggestion in the Parade Magazine, you might be like me and decide to make a substitution and celebrate National Margarita Day instead of changing your furnace filter. (I suppose I could do both!)

I was going to try one of the Margaritas on the Parade.com site but decided to stick with  the best Margarita recipe I have ever had.  It is from Martha Stewart’s Menus for Entertaining, and it is still delicious after all these years!

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Happy Margarita Day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds

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It was certainly Against the Odds to find this magnificant home with a view while attempting to correct a missed turn!

We were driving home from Boston and thought it would be fun to go the back way. We didn’t have a navigator or GPS so we were figuring out directions the old fashioned way- a map.

We decided we had missed a crucial turn and needed to turn around. Because we were in the country, we decided to take the first turn we could and maybe turn around in someone’s driveway, and “ta da” we would be back on track.

When we turned onto the road that was heading up a mountain we noticed a sign that said Olana and an arrow pointing forward. Not knowing what that meant, we continued to look for a driveway to turn around in and continued up the mountain.

We came to a small parking lot with an attendant in a booth. We thought, finally a place to turn around! We told the attendant we had made a wrong turn and asked if it was ok to just go in and come right back out again. He suggested that we might like to stop and take a look at the beautiful view of the Hudson River since we were so close. There was no charge for that, but if we wanted to tour Olana there would be a charge.

Olana we learned was the home of landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church. Once we walked up to the home we decided a wrong turn never turned out so right. I highly recommend visiting it if you are ever in the area!


This is the view from the porch- The Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Favorite Things: Bananas

cm-banana-focus_fotorWhile grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I realized how much I like bananas. Let me count the ways…

  1. You get a lot of bang for your buck: 3 pounds for $1.48. That’s amazing.
  2. They are packaged on their own. I don’t need to put them in a bag or a box to put in a lunch bag.
  3. They are versatile. Great for a snack on their own or as an ingredient in a bread, muffin, or cake (more on that later.)
  4. You can buy them and feel healthy, knowing that you can use them in less “healthy” ways when they brown and still feel good about yourself because you’re not wasting!!! Wow!

I am sure there are more positive things to point out but I want to get to the recipes! My first terrific recipe using bananas is my banana cake recipe. I would have never tried it if it wasn’t for our friend, Mark, who was always more adventurous than me. Anyway, he saw the recipe first so I want to give credit where credit is due…

This recipe is from the Ann Arbor’s Cookin’! cookbook and has been my husband’s choice for his birthday cake for many years now. It was also the favorite of our dog Katie, who never even begged for food, but one year she somehow was able to eat half the cake before my husband even touched it. To add insult to injury, she couldn’t stop licking her “lips”  for quite awhile afterwards even as she tried to look innocent. Hopefully that is a hard enough sell for you to try it!


Banana Spice Cake


-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-3/4 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

-1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-1/4 cup sour milk (or fresh milk with squirt of lemon juice)

-1/2 cup butter or margarine

-1-1/2 cups sugar

-2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. In separate bowl combine bananas, vanilla and milk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Continue to beat until color lightens. Add flour mixture alternately with banana mixture, stirring until smooth after each addition. Turn into 2 greased 9-inch layer pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. Cool on racks and ice with buttercream frosting.

An adjustment I make with this recipe is to make 1 small cake (6 inch round) and 12 cupcakes instead of a 9 inch 2 layer cake. I can freeze the cupcakes to enjoy later and the small cake is plenty to celebrate the day!

The second banana recipe I would like to share is for banana bread. My friend, Ann, shared this recipe with me and this is what it looks like.


I am always worried that I am going to lose it because it is so small! As you can see I have used this recipe many times and have to agree with Ann- it is the best banana bread I have ever had!  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much I have!


Ann's Best Banana Bread


1/3 cup shortening or margarine

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3)

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


-Cream margarine/butter and sugar

-Add bananas and eggs

-Mix separately flour, salt, baking soda and add with milk

-Stir in walnuts

-Bake 350 degrees 1 hour (at least) in greased loaf pan

-Cool on rack, wrap in Aluminum Foil

-Slices better on the 2nd day

Like the previous recipe, an adjustment I make with this recipe is that I make it in 3 smaller sized loaf pans. I cook it until the testing skewer comes out clean. It is close to an hour. Another way to know it is finished is it smells wonderful!


A Picture a Day: Day 46

CM Parrot Mailbox Photo of the Day 46.JPGLast night I went to my Book Club meeting hosted at the Public Library. We had a great discussion, and as we were putting away the chairs, fellow Book Club member Lisa told me about a mailbox that she thought I would enjoy seeing. She gave me a brief description (it is a parrot) and directions.

It did not disappoint.

Photo of the Day!

Favorite Things: Calendar Update


So far so good. I am on Day 8 of The Popular Mechanics “How to get the most out of your life” February Calendar. I am happy to report that using this calendar has been helped me accomplish February-ish things. Here is my report after one week.

  1. I watched Punxsutawney Phil and Ozzy the Bear predict the length of the winter and the winner of the Super Bowl. I don’t think I would have watched either if it hadn’t been for this calendar and I enjoyed both of them.
  2. I made the weather station on page 60 of the magazine. That is, the snow platform to be able to measure snow. It is supposed to snow tomorrow so I am excited about using it for the first time! Good thing I made it when Popular Mechanics suggested!
  3. I bought the Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman book. I haven’t bought a newly released book since Harry Potter #7 ! And it is a signed copy!

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    Now I have to read it!




Favorite Things: Calendars


One of the resolutions I made this year (along with A Picture a Day) is to celebrate each month specifically. One way I have decided to do that is to follow the recommendations of a monthly publication.

This month I chose Popular Mechanics. I am making up my own rules so I am deciding I don’t have to do everything they suggest- maybe 3 or 4 things. We’ll see.

I can’t wait to get started!


I  am most likely to do the Feb 28th suggestion!