The Facts of Life

 

 

This is what I see when I look out the window of “the hotel,” where I now reside.

 

So is this…

 

 

Turn slightly, and this is what I see…

 

 

This, too…

 

 

As I’m human, I am quite capable of seeing only what I wish to see. So the less-than-attractive scenes outside my windows remain largely invisible. You take the good, you take the bad. You take them both…

 

 

 

Routines

 

 

I returned to painting this week, and it felt good.

 

 

I hiked again this week, and it felt good.

 

These activities have become part of my routine. They help keep me healthy and sane. During the last 2 months or so, I put these things on hold so that I could tend what I deemed more urgent business. While skipping painting and hiking may have freed up a little more time, it also had the undesired effect of making me a little more crazy. And friends, I’ve got more crazy than I know what to do with.

 

So I’m getting back into a few routines. I already feel better, and I’m looking forward to feeling fan-freaking-tastic.

 

Your pal,

Smiley Mik-B

Fig Bites

 

 

Fresh figs! They’re in season! I love figs of the fresh variety. I do not love figs of the newton variety.

 

Anyhoo… Fresh figs! When I see figs at the market, I immediately grab the necessary ingredients for Fig Bites. They’re one of my favorite appetizers and since fig season is so brief, I eat all I can during that short time. If you love figs, or are curious enough to try them, give this recipe a shot.

 

Here’s what you’ll need…

 

 

Figs, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar and Honey.

 

 

Clean the figs and cut any rough stems from the tops, making sure to not cut too deeply.

 

 

Cut the figs in half, lengthwise.

 

 

Top each fig half with ½ teaspoon goat cheese. Set aside.

 

 

Cut each prosciutto slice in half, lengthwise. (If your figs are on the small side, as these were, feel free to cut the prosciutto slices into thirds, lengthwise.)

 

 

Wrap one prosciutto half (or third) around each goat-cheese topped fig half.

 

 

Secure with a wooden toothpick. (Do NOT use plastic toothpicks!)

 

 

Place the prepared figs in a broiler-proof pan, deep enough to hold liquid. Set aside.

 

 

Prepare the sauce, y’all. In a small saucepan, place ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon honey.

 

 

Heat to a simmer, then watch the pan! You want to reduce and thicken the sauce a bit. This only takes a few minutes (up to 5), but can sneak up on you and burn. There’s no set consistency, so don’t fret too much. If it’s only reduced a little, it’s just fine. But seriously – watch the pan!

 

Preheat your broiler. Pour the reduced sauce over the prepared figs in the pan. Place the pan beneath the broiler and check it after 2 minutes. If the toothpicks are starting to burn, by all means – take the danged pan out! Otherwise, give the figs another minute or so and then remove from broiler. (I was in such a hurry to get out the door, I failed to photograph this step.)

 

At this point, a rational, decent person would remove the figs from the pan and place on a pretty serving plate, being sure to drizzle all the sauce from the pan over the figs. As I wasn’t fully rational or decent when I made this, I just wrapped the whole metal pie pan in foil and took the entire she-bang to Beer Club. Do as I say, not as I do, y’all.

 

 

These are just lovely. Really, I can’t speak highly enough about them. In fact, I’m gonna make ‘em again tonight! Figs of the fresh variety, I tell ya.

 

Here’s the printable…

 

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fig Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 10
 

Fresh figs! When I see figs at the market, I immediately grab the necessary ingredients for Fig Bites. They’re one of my favorite appetizers and since fig season is so brief, I eat all I can during that short time. If you love figs, or are curious enough to try them, give this recipe a shot.
Ingredients
  • 10 Fresh Figs
  • 5 oz. Goat Cheese (there will be some leftover)
  • 10 Slices Prosciutto
  • ¼ c. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 T. Honey
  • 1 T. Water

Instructions
  1. Clean the figs and cut any rough stems from the tops, making sure not to cut too deeply.
  2. Cut the figs in half, lengthwise.
  3. Top each fig half with ½ teaspoon goat cheese. Set aside.
  4. Cut each prosciutto slice in half, lengthwise. (If your figs are on the small side, as these were, feel free to cut the prosciutto slices into thirds, lengthwise.)
  5. Wrap one prosciutto half (or third) around each goat-cheese topped fig half. Secure with a wooden toothpick. (Do NOT use plastic toothpicks!)
  6. Place the prepared figs in a broiler-proof pan, deep enough to hold liquid. Set aside.
  7. Prepare the sauce, y’all. In a small saucepan, place ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon honey.
  8. Heat to a simmer, then watch the pan! You want to reduce and thicken the sauce a bit. This only takes a few minutes (up to 5), but can sneak up on you and burn. There’s no set consistency, so don’t fret too much. If it’s only reduced a little, it’s just fine. But seriously – watch the pan!
  9. Preheat your broiler.
  10. Pour the reduced sauce over the prepared figs in the pan. Place the pan beneath the broiler and check it after 2 minutes. If the toothpicks are starting to burn, by all means – take the danged pan out! Otherwise, give the figs another minute or so and then remove from broiler.
  11. Remove the figs from the pan and place on a serving plate, being sure to drizzle all the sauce from the pan over the figs.

Notes
The recipe can be increased or decreased according to need. However many figs you buy, purchase the same number of prosciutto slices (since you’ll be splitting both). 1 fig equals 2 appetizers. Count on 2 pieces per person, though I’ve been known to eat far more than that! Please, please, please buy the best prosciutto you can find/afford. It does make a difference.

 

Beautiful Things

 

 

 

This is a photo of my fridge, taken yesterday morning. Sad pickings, I know. But at least there were some grapes, blueberries and Aranciata. You’d think I could live on that for a few weeks. But you’d be wrong, friends. I needs some real food. And so I went shopping.

 

Years ago, while living in Boston, I was walking with a friend one day after hitting the local grocery store. As we strolled down the street with our food, a young man approached us, calling, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” We stopped and he asked, “Where did you buy all these beautiful things?” He spoke in a heavy accent. (I couldn’t identify its origin then, so I won’t pretend I can now.) After a brief conversation, we sent him on his way to the nearest Stop & Shop and that was that.

 

To this day, Mister and I refer to food blessings as “all these beautiful things.” And we’re right to do so. For we are blessed to be able to go to the market and load up. And even when our fridge is empty, as it was yesterday morning, we’re able to go out and eat. What I’m getting at is this: we don’t go hungry. And that’s a blessing, folks. Truly.

 

So after I took the above photo, I headed off with my grocery list and provisioned for the coming week. There’s food in the fridge. There’s food in the pantry. We don’t have to eat out if we don’t want. We may, but we don’t have to. Our full fridge is why. Full of health. Full of deliciousness. Full of beautiful things.

 

Amen.

 

Creative Life

 

 

I haven’t painted in a while, and I hope to get back to it this week. I’ve missed it, sorely.

 

I’ve also missed art in general. And music. And cooking. The last 6 weeks weren’t exactly what I had planned for the summer. As it happened, most of my summer was sacrificed during the last month and a half.

 

But that’s done. Now I’m ready to get back to my life. My creative life. Actually, I’m beyond ready.

7000 Pounds

 

 

Mister and I have moved into a small apartment. We’ve taken to calling it “The Hotel.” After living in a house – with a garage – this is definitely downsizing. And because we’ve downsized, not everything we own is here in the hotel. Storage, friends. Storage.

 

We chose to go with the PODS system. We had the largest unit available delivered, and then we filled it. To the gills. And beyond. Seriously, that POD was packed. And though Mister and I aspired to be orderly and neat in our packing, in the end that poor POD looked like “The Beverly Hillbillies” had loaded it. It was full of a heck of a lot of stuff, y’all. A lot of stuff. In fact, the PODS driver/operator told us the weight of the empty POD was 3000 pounds. The loaded POD weighed 10,000 pounds. Now, I know very little in this world, but I do know basic math. And basic math doesn’t lie.

 

So after moving as much as we could into the hotel, after 3 super-large donations to charity, after placing more stuff than I can remember on the curb (where it was all promptly taken by new owners), Mister and I loaded 7000 pounds of stuff into that POD. By ourselves. Uh, yep.

 

When going through a move, a lot of us get in the mindset of purging. And that’s good. I’m hoping the feeling lasts, and that I’ll continue to purge when we leave the hotel for our next residence. Wherever, whenever that may be.

 

In the meantime, there’s a POD in a warehouse with our names on it. And that thang has 7000 pounds of stuff packed inside. The back 1/3 is pretty organized and neat. The rest? It’s wonky and unorganized.

 

And it’s all ours.

 

Until we get rid of it.

Joy

 

 

 

Some time soon I’ll stop going on and on about moving. But not quite yet…

 

Yesterday was the first day in a while when I woke and didn’t have to pull on crappy clothes and go lift heavy stuff. In fact, I just took care of some regular bid-ness. I washed the car and got the moving dirt removed, then I had some breakfast. It was all rather leisurely. Once I was done with that, I took a nap. A much-deserved nap, I might add.

 

After the seemingly-unending hell of moving, I can now let go. All I have to do is unpack, and there’s no time limit on that. I’m clean, and my muscles can begin to heal.

 

Honestly, I’m a little on the giddy side. I had forgotten what joy feels like. Now I remember.

 

I’m back, baby. I’m back!

Empty

 

 

Last night was it. All she wrote. The final items were removed from the house where Mister and I have lived for over a decade.

 

Before we turned off the lights – for the last time – we hugged and I teared up. Some good times were had in that old house. Raucous laughter filled the kitchen. Crazy dancing took place in the living room. Celebrations were toasted in the dining room. Books devoured. Songs written. Decisions made. Arguments settled. Injuries healed. Memories formed. Life lived. It all took place within the walls of the old house.

 

And now it’s time for someone else to make memories there. In that home. If they have only half the love we knew, they will be truly blessed.

 

We certainly were.

Final “In The Garden” – For Now

 

 

Now that I’m an apartment-dweller, I must bid adieu to my old garden. It isn’t easy, I won’t lie.

 

The plants, the spiders, the tomatoes – all gone. I could cry. But I won’t.

 

Because this is just for now. I understand. Life is about change, and I’m okay with that. I have no answers, no direction. I don’t have a flippin’ clue, really. But I do know I’ll keep following my path. And eventually, that path will lead me to another garden. Where? When? There’s no telling. But when the time comes, I’ll welcome plants, spiders, tomatoes – all with open arms.

 

Wide open.

Siena – After the Rain

 

 

People flippin’ love Siena, Italy. I mean, they reaaaaallllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyy love it.

 

And it is pretty danged cool. The last time I was there, Mister and I had lunch beneath an awning – right in the middle of a late-summer rain storm. The air was cool and the rain was beautiful. We were dry and the food was wonderful. By the time we were finished with lunch, the rain had subsided and we crossed the square for gelato.

 

This photo was taken after those cleansing, cooling rains. We were able to walk around for a few hours and we saw all we could. The skies approved, clearly, a few clouds not withstanding.

 

I have to admit, I’ve never stayed in Siena. Maybe that’s why I’m not in the camp of Siena devotees. But I would love to go back someday, stay there and experience the Palio. It’s nice to have adult dreams. Maybe I’ll get to check that one off. Maybe.

 

Anyhoo, this photo reminds me of sitting beneath that awning with Mister, not saying much, just listening. To the sounds of Siena in the rain. I can almost hear it now…