Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Cheer

We are enjoying our holiday at home. We spoke to many relatives on friends on Christmas day, opened some jolly gifts and had dinner with the Panosky's. It was great to see the extended Panosky family, and as usual the food (Jen) and service (Mark) was amazing!

Our time away from work has been spent with some brisk walks, cooking, meals with friends and some prep work on the den at Spruce Street. Rumor has it we might start painting tomorrow. We enjoyed having Gene and Kathy for dinner on Boxing Day and feasted on Greek-style sausages, complimented with dolmades, olives and roast potatoes. We also enjoyed a dinner with the Panosky's and the Shalaev's for dinner. Sheri is making Chicken Tagine and Bruno has made some spectacular brandy baskets that will be served with blueberries from the Garden.

We have been spending some time at Spruce Street as well, we will send some photos soon. It has been fun to see the house with a fresh coat of paint in the snow. It almost looks ready to rent.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

We are enjoying our first day of the Christmas holiday at home. The snow that came over the weekend has brought us the holiday spirit, including a little "South Beach" flavor thanks to Gene and Kathy Fiese. In the midst of the weekend storm a "way cool" Santa and two tiny flamingos (flasher and flicker, flamingos with antlers) landed in the lawn just off the deck.

Today we trekked to the garden, and dug through 8" of snow to harvest Brussels sprouts and leeks for our Christmas Eve dinner. Stay tuned for a December Face of Produce!
The temperatures are rising and the snow quickly melting, but we might just sneak in a white Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Colorful updates to 25 Spruce Street

Work at the house on Spruce Street continues as we move into the den and half-bath, the last two rooms! We are sanding and scraping with the goal of painting these rooms over the holidays. The most exiting come from Bruno's father Nick. Nick designed and made three stained glass panel for the slide light by the front door. The effect is beautiful, and what a delight it was to discover this artistic side of Nick. Please find more photos of the stained glass installation, and some evidence of hard work on the den.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter solstice

Hurray, the days are getting longer! We are already dreaming of fresh salad greens and spring beets and carrots. In the meantime, we are pleased to celebrate the transition from mud season to winter here in Connecticut. While, Kokee didn't seem to mind the mud, the rest of us are pretty happy to see the snow. Many thanks to Mark for plowing us out after an early storm. Welcome winter!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tune of the Month for December

It wouldn't be right not to post a link to one of our favorite Christmas songs this month. And what could be more Christmassy than Monty Python? Here is one from the archives, in honor of Liberace and all our favorite crooners......

And for those of you old enought to remember, this month's bonus track is a glam-rock favorite from the not too distant past. Roy Wood at his best (maybe)!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Catching the Christmas spirit

We made our annual pilgrimage to the small family tree farm just down the road. It was a warm sunny day (relative to previous years!) and nice to see some neighbors and friends from Westerly in our part of the world. The tree is in place and festooned with colorful bulbs, a few odd "oldies but goodies" and a disco ball at the top. One day we will invest in an official star for the top of the tree. Check out the before and after tree photos.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Conditions in New York

New York Update: We had a great day in New York City, and even experienced a little seasonal weather. As you can see above we also found unusual conditions at the "Canada Travel" photo booth in Bryant Park!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


We arrived in NYC for a weekend with Jo and Eric to enjoy the sites at the early side of the Christmas season. We woke to a spectacular view of Manhattan from the 50th floor of The Corinthian, where Pfizer has a few rooms available to employees if not being used for Pfizer business, at a very good rate! The early morning skies are clear and we are looking forward to a walk through Central Park, some window shopping, The Rockettes tonight and all the good eats that NYC has to offer. We are becoming quite the urbanites these days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update from Kyoto

We have enjoyed our last few days in Kyoto immensely. We have visited many historical places, learned how to pray at both a Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, enjoyed noodles for lunch, sushi for dinner, local wine and beer, and plenty of coffee and tea in-between. We did partake in English style afternoon tea in our hotel for some respite and discovered green tea scones! These are served with strawberry jam and clotted cream of course.

We are headed to the Osaka to begin our journey home.

Shitsurei shimasu

Friday, November 28, 2008

First Report from Japan

We have been on the go since arriving in Tokyo on Tuesday, November 25th. We spent a day exploring Toyko, with a visit to the Imperial Palace and Gardens, the Senso-ji Temple and Ueno Park. We enjoyed a quick train ride to Kyoto on Wednesday evening and woke to sunny skies and glorious mountain views. The maples and ginkos are in peak color, and agree "this is the best time of year to visit Kyoto"! We explored many temples in Kyoto on Thursday, and enjoyed a Buddhist's luncheon in one of the temples (lots of tofu!) in the peaceful surroundings of their meticulous gardens.

For Thankgiving dinner we had a traditional Japanese dinner with N0buya Kaneko and his colleagues from AsahiKasei. We are grateful to AsahiKasei, who invited Bruno to deliver the keynote speech at the 5th AFTE meeting, and for the chance to visit Japan. On Friday Bruno gave his lecture, which was translated instantaneously into Japanese. This was very impressive and his talk was very well received!

We have have the good fortune to have Nobuya as kind host and tour guide. We have learned a great deal about Japanese culture, food and the ranking of the temples, and when we should remove our shoes. We have been declared competent with chop sticks and "ok" with Japanese food. Indeed, the Japanese food is excellent, but with all the walking we are hitching up our trousers more every day! Fresh fish and rice is a little easier on the waistline than stuffing and mashed 'taters.

You can see a few photos at the link below, including of Bruno's lecture title in Japanese.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tale of Jack Frost and the Sprouts

Last night we experienced our first hard frost of the season. We hit a low of 28 degrees-F and were happy to be eating porridge (hot oatmeal) for breakfast.

Despite the freeze we were able to harvest Swiss chard and spinach from the garden once the sun had been up for a few hours, and we picked our first ever crop of Brussel sprouts.

Tonight's dinner was home made shepherd's pie and freshly picked 'greens' that were packed full of flavor. Brussel sprouts never tasted so good!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The kitchen at Spruce St is nearly there!

The renovation of the kitchen at Spruce Street is nearly complete. We put the back splash in last weekend, and the grout during the week. Many thanks to Jen and Mark for the unoffical freecycle of their extra Mexican tiles! The tiles were just what the kitchen needed.

You can learn more about the official freecycle program at

The curtain rods are up and the curtains we bought during DiAnn's visit are in place. Now onto the last room. One last round of sanding and painting.

You can check out more photos at the link below.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adirondack weekend

We just got back from a sunny and cold weekend in the Adirondacks. We visited Potsdam on Friday and early Saturday, and then meandered over to Lake Placid and Keene Valley on Saturday afternoon. After an overnight stay at a local B&B, Sunday was spent hiking one of our favorite peaks (Hurricane Mt) in the early season snow. What a treat! More pictures to come when we've fully unpacked..........

Monday, October 27, 2008

Song of the month ("I wanna be sedated")

This month's recommended tune comes from a movie that we watched earlier this week. It is called "Young At Heart", and tells the story of a group of senior citizens who sing contemporary songs in a somewhat unconventional choral group. The movie is a great story that highlights the positive aspects of human nature, and there are some great tunes in there too. Don't miss covers of songs by the Talking Heads, Jimmy Hendrix, David Bowie and, our favorite, the Ramones (a US punk band). Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canoodleing in October

We had a lovely paddle on the Wood River this weekend. While the colors are peak in CT at the moment, many the leaves along the shore had already come down. It as a little to cool and overcast for the turtles that usually line the shoreline as if they are watching a parade of canoes. However, we were accompanied by a flock of ducks for much of the trip and greeted by a great blue heron.

Fall Produce

With warm sunny days in early October we are still picking bright red raspberries as big as your thumb. The colors this fall in CT seem to be particularly good, which can be attributed to a wetter than usual summer, a very wet September, temperatures that were not too hot and not too cold, one really nice week in August, a very dry late Augst, and the very hot temperatures for two days in July. Stay tuned for an October Face of Produce

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spruce Street Painting

"Before" and "After". The good weather over the last month has allowed us to have the exterior siding and trim painted at Spruce Street. We are now sporting a fresh coat of "Popcorn Ball" (yellow to the uninitiated!). Hopefully this will stave off the elements for the coming winter.


This weekend we are spending time with DiAnn (Sheri's mom), and enjoying unseasonably warm weather. In this picture we were at Spruce Street, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Westerly Columbus Day parade. Oh, and installing the kitchen sink too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Leaf Peeping!

This weekend we travelled to Vermont to see the fall (autumn) colors (colours). We stayed near Rutland with our friends Jo and Eric, and took in nice two hikes with good views. We even managed a visit to the local corn maze (a maize maze, if you will!)(, and the Putney Diner ( A splendid time was had by all.......

More photos at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

West Coast Girls

Sheri is on the move again! She brought some sunshine back to a cloudy weekend on the Olympic Peninsula during a 24 hour visit to Port Townsend where she hobnobbed with the salty dogs, sister Kerry and her hubby Jeff. Hangman Hill tomatillos were hand delivered!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Produce Quiz and Recipe

Kudos to our 1st and 2nd place winners for the Face of Produce Quiz. Kerry Shamblin came in only hours before Andrew Parker with the correct answer "Tomatillos". Take note the first two responders representing the west coast of North America came in ahead of the east coasters, despite being three hours behind. Okay, so there aren't that many regular blog readers.... Anyway, we thought we'd share one of our favorite recipes for tomatillos, which is not your typical "salsa verde" use for many many tomatillos. Give this soup a try.

Can you tell things are slowing down in the garden?

Spicy Cold Tomatillo Soup

From: Martha Stewart Living
To make a Southwest-style soup, garlic, tomatillos, and a serrano chile are first roasted in the oven to bring out their smoky sweetness. Fresh cilantro and lime juice brighten the flavors. Garnish each serving with chunks of nutty avocado. Tomatillos, members of the cape gooseberry family, have a thin papery skin that should be removed before eating or cooking. The soup can be made up to one day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Just before serving, stir until ingredients are combined; garnish with avocado. Since avocado begins to discolor rapidly when exposed to air, it should be cut at the last minute.

Makes 1 quart
1 pound tomatillos, hulled and washed
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 serrano chile
1 cup peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped cucumber
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Heat broiler. Place tomatillos, garlic, and serrano chile in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tomatillos are soft and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Turn all items; continue cooking until other side is soft and browned, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.
2. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let cool completely. Peel garlic; place cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add tomatillos, serrano, and any accumulated juices along with cucumber, onion, cilantro, stock, lime juice, and salt; blend until mixture is smooth. Add yogurt and the water; process until they are just combined.
3. Transfer to a large bowl or plastic storage container; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. To serve, ladle into bowls; garnish with avocado.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spruce Street Update: A kitchen... sort of

It has been nearly a year since we bought the Spruce Street house. Before entering the front door into the first floor of Spruce Street to see progress in the main living area, an update from the outside is in order! Taking out trees has really made a difference inside and out. Look for a fresh coat of paint soon.

September 2007

September 2008

1st Floor

The new floor is in, cabinets from IKEA are being built and we have a new fridge, stove, extractor fan and dishwasher "in place".

For an update on the new floor, IKEA kitchen cabinets and appliance you can find more photos at the link:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

September Face of Produce (with quiz!)

September's face of produce illustrates the success we've had this year with some new types of plants. Can you gues what makes up the eyes, nose and mouth of our friend? If so, leave us a comment. Winners will receive a produce related prize!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Exploits in Greek Cooking

We have been trying recipes from Greek cookbook that we recently received from Pam and Nick. The recipes bring back great memories from our visit to Greece. This weekend we enjoyed meatballs with prunes and walnuts, accompanied by roast potatoes and green beans (from our garden), and fresh local corn. I couldn't resist making a honey fig cake when I found fresh local figs at the farm stand in town. It's not quite like dining in a taverna with view of the sea and mountains, but not bad!

Weekend at Bernie's

During our stay-vacation in Connecticut we paid a visit to Joey and Bernie in Canaan CT. Canaan is in the opposite corner of the state and sits near the border of Massachusetts with lovely views of the Berkshires in the distance. Bernie and Joey treated us to a lovely picnic at Tanglewood on Saturday night. We relaxed under the stars while listening to Andre Previn conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On Sunday we enjoyed breakfast on the porch with views of the Berkshires, followed by a hike to Mount Canaan. Many thanks to Bernie who surprised us at the Mt Canaan lookout with a bottle of wine and a picnic. You can check out more photos at the link:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vacation at home

Last week we stayed home from work, disconnected our laptops, and enjoyed all that our local scene has to offer. We took walks with Kokee, rode our bikes, and did a little painting at Spruce Street. We also paddled our canoes on the Pawcatuck river and went to a few local restaurants that we hadn't been to for a while. We thoroughly recommend a "stay-cation" if you're looking for a low-key way to realx and have fun!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chaise reborn

After 10 years of sitting in a sunny spot as a prime location for feline napping, bathing and having nail filing, our favorite chaise has a new look. Thanks to Tommy D and his crew in Westerly who did a great job.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hoorah for the red, white and yellows!

Onions, that is. This week's featured crop is our onions. Not too bad for our first year, although they were crowded out by weeds that eventually took over and nearly prevented us from finding the aforementioned onions! We'll know better next year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spruce Street - bricklaying and sanding, sanding, sanding

Work at Spruce Street is steady. The progress report to date: bricks filled in chimney (where oven and really ugly mantle used to be), sub floor replaced and ready for new flooring in the kitchen, main floor (kitchen, living and dining) scraped, scraped some more and then sanded and sanded some more (READY TO PAINT!), the back yard has become a really nice place to be - post tree felling (have grass under foot and a blue sky above), the upstairs bedrooms and hallway have nicely refinished oak floors, and last but not least.... the mysterious SMELL seems to have dissipated (we hope for good).

Before tree felling October 2007

After tree felling - July 2008

More photos of Spruce Street for July

Paddling the Mystic River

Renovations at Spruce Street and a productive garden have limited our time on bikes and in canoes. We did get out on the Mystic River recently with Mark, Jen, and Don (Jen's Dad). It was a still Saturday morning, and nice to share the river with friends. We have paddled the Wood- Pawcatuck rivers on the CT-RI border so it was good explore the tidal waterways in Mystic as a contrast. We saw lots of jellyfish in the river... eek!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RIP: Tom Jones

Sadly this week we said goodbye to Tom Jones, the goldfish. He had been with us for over two years and added lots of joy to our lives. We'll miss you Tom! R.I.P.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jen's Summer Berry Pudding

As if having a friend with a backhoe isn't enough, having one that is married to an amazing cook is even better. Jen, Mark's (of backhoe fame) equally talented other half, called this evening to ask a favor. She needed help with a left-over Summer Berry Pudding that "had to be eaten the day it was prepared". Unfortuntely for Bruno, who was on a lay-over in Detroit at the time, he missed the best summer berry pudding ever!

Moving Mulch

We have found that plenty of mulch in an organic garden is essential for healthy plants and veggies, and for keeping weeds under control. We were long overdue for a thick layer of mulch, so we had 10 yards delivered this week. That is a lot of mulch. Fortunately we have a friend with a backhoe. Mark, who was the engineer behind the oil removal at Spruce Street ( volunteered to help.

For those worried about what Mark owed us for the 100 gallons of heating oil.... we can sum it up this way.

The cost of ~100 gallons of oil....$400
The cost for a massage after moving mulch by hand (for 2)....$200
The cost of learning how to drive a backhoe.... PRICELESS!!!

You can see more photos of Bruno and Sheri driving a backhoe at the link....

Blue for the Blues

After years of loosing all of our blueberries to the birds, we managed a First Place Ribbon for our blueberries at the North Stonington Agricultural Fair! Many thanks to Michael and Janel for sending the tulle that they used to decorate the room in the cultural center where they had their wedding (see previous post We also won a few other ribbons as well! The tally:

Blueberries - 1st
Lavender - 1st
Potatoes - 2nd
Onions - 2nd

We will follow up with a lavendar photo, it is spectacular this year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July's "Tune of the Month"

Its hot and very umid, and we're listening to one of the best cross-genre albums for a long, long time. Alison Krauss (of bluegrass fame) and Robert Plant (of Led Zepellin) team up for a memorable album that just has to get your feet tapping. Sheri had the good fortune to see them live earlier in the summer - what an experience!

Next update from the North Stonington Fair. Did we win prizes for our fruit & veggies, or not? Stay tuned!