Not Exactly Being A Proud Mama……

Victory Road Piece

Victory Road Piece

For those that have seen this clip of a peek at the rehearsal for the upcoming Bowen McCauley Victory Road performance 10 & 11 April at the Kennedy Center, I apologize for being redundant. I say this isn’t exactly a “proud mama” post because it isn’t about our son dancing in the show as much as it is about Lucy Bowen-McCauley, the founder of the dance company and how this show came about.

If you happen to be new to the blog (and welcome if so), our son entering the world of professional dance came as a very big surprise and not without a number of concerns. He is both a member of the dance company and also Ballet Master for the Fairfax Center for Ballet Arts where he teaches.

Lucy is quite possibly the most astute individual that I personally know when it comes to how to keep a small dance company going strong for almost twenty years now and win continuing accolades within the region. Aside from her sheer talent and a driving passion, one of the things that she does is incorporate live music into her performances, even if it’s a single instrument such as a cello. She has also forged relationships with local symphonies and the dance company will sometimes be a part of a symphony’s program. Victory Road is the other side of that coin where she collaborates with a band that has a following. She choreographs pieces to their music and thus fans of the dance company and of the band attend the performance. Jason and the Sorchers have a wide appeal (apparently) and they were excited enough to want a longer show than she usually does. It has been over a year in the making and we are really looking forward to it. Here’s the link to the preview:

Not The Beginning of A String…….

I promise that I am not going to do “Proud Grandma” moments as routine posts. This, however, is one of those moments since the arrival of Amelia Margaret did come with an element of humor. The actual due date was March 25, yet everyone who had been through this knows that due dates are not always the most accurate predictions. Notwithstanding those who schedule a delivery, the “on or about” is the best you can do and lots of first babies tend to be a week or two beyond that. Not surprisingly, this week was supposed to be prep for the kids getting all those last tasks taken care of and son had a premiere piece in which he was to be performing on Saturday night, the 14th. Hubby and I both had dual obligations on the 14th that meant we had to be out of the house by 7:00 a.m.; me not to return until after the evening event and hubby to only dash by the house to change clothes and join me for the evening event.

So, as we prepared for the Friday afternoon/evening obligation that we had, we were startled to receive the telephone call that the kids were on the way to meet the doctor at the hospital. Ah, not a serious complication, but moved the timetable up. I kept the cell phone close by and around 9:30 I texted to just say give a call no matter the time. The call came at almost 11:00 p.m., the actual birth at 10:14 p.m. on yes, Friday the 13th. And there goes the preparation, not to mention the not quite able to juggle other schedules and thus Saturday was a bit of a scramble with trying to communicate. At any rate, things did work out, everyone is fine, and Amelia apparently wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with the stir she caused.

Amelia Margaret's Early Arrival

Amelia Margaret’s Early Arrival




An Interesting Sauce……

Our Publix has a food tasting booth and when I saw the sign of pork tenderloin in tomato-ginger sauce, I was skeptical. The women assured me it was good and I was quite surprised when I tried it. Now, it is a spicy sauce, although you can tone it down some. We did use it on pork, but it will work equally well for chicken or seafood.  There is one other thing though. I am putting the recipe for the sauce in, but how you want to use it can vary. For example, the method they were using at the store was to sauté the meat, then do the sauce and cook the two together for a relatively short time. We prefer to either roast, grill, or braise our pork in order to have it more tender than a quick sauté. So, if you wanted to braise with this sauce, what I would suggest is to do all the ingredients expect the tomatoes, increase the broth by 1/2 cup, braise the meat  for however long you like, then add the tomatoes and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Okay, here’s the sauce itself:

1 can diced tomatoes, 1 c diced onions, 1 lemon (1 tsp zest; 1/4 c juice), 1 c chicken broth or stock, 1 tsp ginger paste (in a tube in the produce aisle), 2 tsp hot sauce (that can be adjusted to taste), 1-2 tsb olive oil, 3 tsb chopped parsley (optional), 1/4 c white wine (optional)

Heat pan to medium. Soften the onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes; add all other ingredients and stir thoroughly. Cook uncovered on medium for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour the sauce over grilled fish, chicken, or pork.

If cooking the sauce with pork, chicken, or fish filets, salt and pepper the meat, brown it in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, remove it from the pan and set aside. Proceed to make the sauce as above and put the meat back in the pan after all the other ingredients are thoroughly stirred together. Cover, cook for 5-6 minutes and check thickness of sauce. If you are cooking shrimp, wait and put the shelled, deveined shrimp in for the 5-6 minute cooking time. Otherwise you risk overcooking the shrimp.


Art and Cars……

R.JacksonArt working on a piece from a photo

R.JacksonArt working on a piece from a photo

In the actual category of “thinking outside the box”, Natalie Prieto and Carlos Franco of the Children’s Art Gallery at Cauley Square are hard to beat. They can find ways to incorporate art into almost anything and they are completely devoted to making life better through art in many mediums.  So, Natalie goes into Armstrong Ford in Homestead to buy a car. In the way that happens, conversations flow during the process. As luck would have it, Armstrong Ford has a large covered area where they do special promotions throughout the year such as holiday sales and so forth. Well, if you can do that, why not an art exhibit featuring cars?

On Saturday, March 7th, the artists and car guys came together and it was an excellent combination. Painting and sculptures were on display, the local artists were available to talk with people, and I’m not sure how many unsuspecting customers dropped in and were surprised to find themselves in the middle of an art exhibit. If you haven’t been to Cauley Square lately, do stop in and see what all is going on. (

Forgot to get the artist's name on this one.

Forgot to get the artist’s name on this one.

Tree Houses, Sort Of…..

“Tree House Masters” on Animal Planet is not a show that I watch regularly, but I do tune in sometimes when I have the television on out of habit. I have to admit that I had never given much thought to elaborate tree houses even though one will occasionally make the news for one reason or the other. The guys on this show are pretty amazing. Now, while the tree houses are in fact in or around trees, for the most part they are cottages that incorporate trees. These definitely don’t fit the image of the backyard kind of thing that dads put together in a few weekends.

An episode this afternoon was what the architect/builder referred to as the lowest to the ground tree house he’d ever built and it had to do with following a long intriguing looking curving rock outcropping. The end result on each show is an incredible variety that reflect both imagination and some pretty tricky building techniques in many cases. After all, when you are elevated, you want to make sure the structure will remain intact. I don’t know if they’ve built any in hurricane-prone areas and I don’t know if building codes account for such things. The other thing that I’m certain of is that these tree houses aren’t put together on a tight budget. I can certainly also understand their allure.

Amazing Talent of Youth……..

I should have asked hubby to take a few photos, but neglected to do so. With three back-to-back events Friday evening through Saturday, my brain wasn’t working as well as it should have been. Homestead Community Concerts (part of Homestead Center for the Arts) will close out their season March 22d with Legends of Motown, but on Saturday, they had a very special event. The three top place and two honorable mentions in the first annual Music Scholarship Competition performed at a gathering, followed by dinner. These students ranged from age 12 to 18 and watching them was as good as listening to them. Their stage presence was excellent across the board and one can only imagine what the younger students will be like in a few years.

Two violinists, two cellists, and one pianist demonstrated their talent with classical selections and one unique piece which was a number composed by the student’s mother. Both of his parents are composers and professors at the Frost School of Music. Not surprisingly, all the students began playing when they were quite young and their devotion to music was evident in the confidence they displayed. Perhaps there were errors that a trained musician might have heard, but for the rest of us, it was delightful to listen to them play. (


About Salads and Soups…..

I’m not going to say that I could be the poster child for Yo-Yo dieting, although I would certainly be in the running. And notwithstanding the fact that I allowed my weight to get seriously out of control, I did a homemade sort of turkey chili the other day. As anyone who has done the , “Oh, I’ll have soup and salad to cut back on calories, fats, and carbs” knows, it doesn’t always work as well in practice as in theory. Yes, the soup commercials on television are correct in that a serving size may have only 100 calories, but the problem is that a serving size doesn’t go a long way to filling up most people. On the other hand, two servings will often be adequate and that’s still pretty good from a calorie perspective. It’s the fact that there is a world of difference in soups and if you’re watching carbs, that’s really difficult. Focusing on the calorie side though, that chicken vegetable is probably fine, the loaded baked potato with bacon maybe not so much or the cream of broccoli even though broccoli is a healthy vegetable. As for salad – it’s the same story. Absolutely a good thing unless the cheeses, nuts, garbanzo beans, and croutons are added in.

Anyway, back to the soup that I made where I wanted some substance to it, but in a controlled way. Part of the turkey decision was because I had some frozen turkey stock from Christmas that I needed to use. I went back and forth as to whether to go turkey vegetable or the southwestern flavor and a little spicier won out. I wanted some black beans, but not too many and opted to take one can of a commercial southwestern black bean soup to add into the otherwise homemade. That kept the quantity of beans down while still providing flavor and “volume”, and the other ingredients were all pretty low in calorie, fat, and carbs.

Of course, one of the best soups for all of the above is the spicy seafood stew that I have in an earlier post, but we did that last week.


Yes, An Outhouse Race……..

A team in a previous Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-off and Outhouse Race.

A team in a previous Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-off and Outhouse Race.

I don’t actually know how it was that the Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of combining an outhouse race with a chili cook-off more than twenty years ago. As best I understand it, lots of people have chili cook-offs and they are popular fundraising events and apparently way back when, someone thought it would be good to have something unique added in. I will admit that we were puzzled about it during our first involvement and yet, sure as the world, it does work. I don’t know all the rules, but the racing teams build their outhouses and there is someone inside who steers and the rest of the team pushes through a course that is laid out. It is like the “bed races” except there are outhouses. It is fun to watch and there are bragging rights to be had..

The South Dade Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-off and Outhouse Race will be this Saturday, Feb 28th from 11:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. at Harris Pavilion, Harris Field on Campbell Drive. There are supposed to be over a dozen chili entries this year and there is a professional and amateur category. There are further categories for Best Tasting, Most Unusual, Hottest and Wimpiest, and I don’t recall now if that’s all of them. There will be live music, a jalapeno eating contest as well as other vendors around and if the weather cooperates, everyone will have a good time. The entry price is typically $5 and even though the chili sample size is a small plastic cup, if you try all the entries that basically gives you a whole cup full.

NASCAR With a Bang…….

A view of a NASCAR race. (Image from a Free NASCAR Images site)

A view of a NASCAR race. (Image from a Free NASCAR Images site)

No, I am not making light of Kyle Bush’s injury in yesterday’s NASCAR race. It’s just one of those things that I had dragged poor hubby once again into a volunteer situation that had led to us needing to be in another place at the beginning of the Saturday NASCAR race. Now, he’s been waiting since November for the season to start and when this task “bubbled up”, I certainly hadn’t realized it would be at this particular time. Like a good wife, the least I could do was set the race to record, knowing we would be back for the last part of it and we had the race tuned in on the radio as we headed to the house. For those who might not know, racing at Daytona usually comes with a special intensity, lots of NASCAR history, and all sorts of drama. We were quite surprised on the way home to hear that even though they were deep into the race, nothing unusual had happened. In a way that was okay, because it meant hubby hadn’t missed too much excitement.

We got home and him settled into his recliner and I went up to do some other stuff. Later when I came down, I said something like, “You mean there’s going to be a Daytona without a big crash?” “No,” he said, “they just had a nasty one.” That turned out to be 11 cars and it was pretty bad. One of the announcers then predicted that it wouldn’t be the only one and sure enough, there was another one involving 11 more cars. Now there had also been talk about (not sure why), that an underdog might win the race. As the final cars were running, a veteran driver moved ahead and looked like a sure winner. Then the “Anything Can Happen at Daytona” kicked in and sure enough, a “youngster” and underdog shot ahead as did three others as “the kid” won and the veteran came in fifth. It made for about as much excitement as hubby could have asked for and he was right there watching it. The biggest race is today of course and we’ll see what happens with it.


Paris, The Smaller Museums……

Golden Items in Churches and Abbeys Are Why They Were Targets for Plunder

Golden Items in Churches and Abbeys Are Why They Were Targets for Plunder

Like many major cities, Paris has the well-known museums that attract hundreds of thousands if not millions of visitors each year. As much as we enjoy the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay, our focus this year was more off-the-main-route museums. We already knew that the Museum of Middle Ages (the Cluny) was a short walk from the hotel, but there is a special exhibit that we hadn’t seen on our previous trip. The Lady and the Unicorn is a six-piece tapestry set that dates back about 1,000 years although no one actually knows the background of it. It was discovered in the 1800s, I believe, and thankfully preserved. The lighting in the room was quite dim and no flashes are allowed, so we’ll see how hubby’s photos turn out. It is an impressive body of work and the colors are remarkably clear considering their age.

As I posted, we did find the Picasso Museum and it is quite well-done. Many of his earlier works were pieces that I could appreciate and of course hubby liked the later themes that are most associated with the name of Picasso. It was a surprise to me to see all the sculptures and the incredible variety of mediums that he worked with. I am not certain of how old he was when he did his final piece, but we did see some from 1971 and he died in 1973 at the age of 91.

As it turned out, the De La Croix Museum was within walking distance of our hotel, but definitely not one that you would run across. It was an apartment on the Left Bank and became a museum only through the dedicated efforts of a number of people. Interestingly, even though he rented the four room apartment, he was able to convince his landlord to build a detached studio for him and there was a charming small garden that must have been a wonderful spot for him. There was one other small museum that we would have liked to have seen, but we opted to go to the Eiffel Tower instead. There is just an element of sentimentality of walking around the Tower that we don’t like to pass up. The line to go up was very long and we decided not to do that.

Exterior Wall of Studio of Eugene De La Croix and Partial View of Garden

Exterior Wall of Studio of Eugene De La Croix and Partial View of Garden