Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Downton Abbey--Join the Club

I've never been one who's up on the latest TV shows or movies. I'm usually the last one to jump on an entertainment bandwagon, if I do at all. When asked, "Have you seen (insert the name of any newly released movie)" or "Do you watch (insert the name of a popular TV series)" and the answer is almost always "no." It's not that I don't like movies or TV, it's just that at his stage in my life I have limited amounts of free time and  a lot of other ways I choose to spend it than keeping up on the latest movies and shows. Most of my friends know this about me, but they love me anyway. So when one of them tells me about a movie or show that I "have to watch", I know that they're serious about it.

Earlier this year, my friend suggested I watch PBS's "Downton Abbey." I filed it away, but it wasn't until a few months later when I heard others talking about it that I decided I needed to check it out. I found that I could get Season 1 through Netflix, but I was hearing that Season 2 was trickier to get a hold of. However, with Season 3 not airing in the US until January 2013, I had plenty of time to get caught up.

I added Season 1 to my Netflix queue and portioned it out--one episode a week. What was the rush? Plus, when something's good, it's nice to savor it. I fell in love with the show. I'm always a sucker for any historical movie or show. Plus, like the books I love best, there were so many great characters to love and hate, as well as multiple story lines intersecting. It was always exciting. Just when you think things are going to turn out alright for the Crawleys and their staff, something (or someone) turns up to complicate things.

Recently, I reserved Season 2 from the library expecting there to be a long waiting list. To my surprise it was ready for me to pick up just a few days later. Unfortunately, that only gave me a week's time to watch nine episodes. It was going to be tough. To complicate things, our TV broke and had to be sent out for repairs. Thankfully, I can still watch on our laptop. So, this past week has been full of late nights. After the kids are in bed, I head back downstairs to see what new drama unfolds for the people of Downton Abbey. I even got John roped into it halfway through the second season. Now he wants to go back and watch Season 1, too.

All this to say, I am a part of the Downton Abbey fan club and I'm recruiting new members. Have you seen it? If you haven't, please do. I guarantee you'll love it and like me, you'll be wondering how you will last until Season 3 finally airs. (FYI-Only 165 more days to wait.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Peach Rhubarb Crisp

We've pretty much been on lock-down at our house lately because of the excessive heat. Oh, we've ventured out for a trip or two, a party here and there, but otherwise have been spending a lot of time in the air conditioning. John braved the heat to finish stripping, sanding, and staining our deck. Now if it would only cool down enough so we could use it.

While we have been limited to the seasonal fun we could enjoy outside, I decided to make a little dessert from some seasonal fruits-peaches and rhubarb. I've never made anything with this combination, but I knew it would be good. I adapted my recipe from one I found here and you could use your favorite crisp recipe to get a similar dish.

Peach Rhubarb Crisp
2 C. chopped fresh rhubarb
3 C. peeled, chopped peaches
1/2 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. old-fashioned oatmeal
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes

Mix fruit, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and salt together. Transfer to a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan. Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add topping onto fruit. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes (until fruit is bubbly and topping is slightly browned).

This fruit crisp has the great sweetness of peaches with the tartness of the rhubarb. The rhubarb adds another dimension to the flavors without overpowering the peaches. This is a great taste of summer, even if we're stuck inside.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

An All-American Night

What's more fitting on the 4th of July than spending a night at the ballpark? Despite temperatures in the 90s, we headed to a Kane County Cougars game last night with our good friends, Cal and Lisa. Time spent with them is always fun, no matter what we do. Our kids get along well and we are all comfortable to be ourselves.

We had lawn seats so the kids were free to move around. We did our best to stay cool and keep the kids cool, but it didn't take long till we felt like we were melting. Still, it was a great time. The Cougars lost, but there were fireworks at the end.

Two of the little boys-Jake and Levi

The big boys-Cal and John

Cool little lady

Lisa and Me

Avery and Levi enjoying some electronic entertainment

Josh and Levi being tough with the glow guns after dark.
 I hope you spent your Fourth celebrating with family and friends, and remembering how lucky we are live in a country that allows us so many freedoms.