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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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February 18, 2016

Wow! It's been a long, long time...

My last post appears to be from the night before I left Huntington to go to the kids for Christmas.  And I ended up not getting back home until January 18 I think it was so was gone about a month.

It was a good trip - very, very busy as far as going from place to place.  I figured out after I got home that aside from my trip up to my sister's in Massachusetts from January 4 to January 15, I never stayed anywhere for more than 2 nights going from one kid to another sort of constantly.  And while at my sister's, her husband, then she, and then I all got sick.  So that was kind of a shame, but the parts of the visit where we weren't sick were, as always, pleasant - lots of good food and lots of conversation.

What prompted tonight's post is that I finally worked up my nerve to haul out the butane gas portable burner that Heather got me for Christmas (and I got her one too - more fun than just buying one for yourself) and the paella pan that Chris gave me and made paella!  And for a first attempt, it went quite well.  The taste was very good but I needed to have a little more meat in it and it didn't get crusty on the bottom like it's supposed to.  Tonight I warmed up some of the leftovers in a skillet and heated it enough to crust up the bottom.  So, I think if I'm cooking it for myself, I'll use about half as much rice as I did this time and twice as much meat and then maybe do it the way you're supposed to (high heat at the beginning to brown the meat and cook the onions, garlic and such, then simmer to cook the rice) and at the end, turn the heat back up and get it crusted on the bottom.  But the taste really was nice so I'm ready to try it again.

And I was real impressed with the little burner. Of course, I have to cook on an electric stove so any gas stove would be an improvement.  But I put the oil in the pan and had it on high heat, turned away to get my pieces of chicken to drop in the pan and when I turned back the oil was already starting to smoke!  Shoot on the electric stove, the burner wouldn't even have been all the way hot yet!

Here's a picture of the little hottie.  I tried to get rid of the glare but couldn't.  The rounded thing on the right is where a can of butane gas goes and it's rated at 12.000 BTU!  If you cook on electric and would like to every now and then actually get something truly hot without waiting 5 minutes, I can highly recommend this. :)

And here are a few pictures of the paella session - they're not great either but there it is...

First I assembled all my ingredients - rice (a special kind for paella), chicken and vegetable broth, grated (!) tomatoes, smoked Spanish paprika, a paste of saffron threads, garlic, and coarse salt ground up in the cute little mortar and pestle that Heather brought back from Spain (or maybe Morocco?) for me, green peppers, mushrooms, more garlic, chicken and mushrooms.

Put it all together and voila - paella! (oh, and seeing the picture I remembered I also laid some springs of thyme on top)

And moving from visiting through paella, we come to needlework.  I've actually started working again on a petitpoint dollhouse rug that I started, I'm ashamed to admit, however many years ago.  Didn't really have any use for it aside from thinking that maybe I could make a real pretty bedroom roombox with a bed that I'd make a quilt for, etc., etc.  But as I began to realize that I probably wasn't going to be building bigger projects like that anymore, I pretty much lost interest.  Then while I was in Spain last fall, I got an e-mail from a woman who had visited my Etsy shop and wanted to know if I would be willing to make a custom order rug for her.  She mentioned that she wanted lavender in it.  I told her I had been working one with that and other colors in it and when I got back I could send her a picture of what I had done and also the size and a price.  So I did and she said great - she'd like me to finish it.  So once I settled down after getting back from all the holiday hoop-la, I got started on it and am pleased with how much I've finished.  I think I will have it finished by the end of March (if not before) which is what I told her.  And if she decides she doesn't want it after all, that will be fine too - at least I will have finished it!

It won't be all stretched like that once it's out of the hoop and finished.  When I sent her the first picture, the left side border only went up as high as the right hand border and the ring of flowers around the center medallion still had about four clusters missing and the cream colored background was only a little higher than that right hand border.  So I've made progress!

That's it for now!

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