Fabulous Eggplant Dish ~ Bouranee Baunjan

As I continue my Olympic celebration by cooking all types of international foods, today I am sharing this delicious eggplant dish from Afghanistan. This particular culinary delight is made with so many wonderfully fresh summer ingredients that it is just crazy! The thing I love the most about this recipe, aside from the fact that everything is cooked in olive oil, is the unique combination of ingredients that all come together and create an overall taste which is simply wonderful.


Up Up and Away ~ The Balloon Festival

 This past weekend was the 30th annual Festival of Ballooning sponsored by Quick Check in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. So we went to watch the balloons fly off, all 125 of them!

We even saw a birthday cake fly.

We did have a brief rain shower but it in no way dampened our day!

And our eyes were on the sky...

The sky gave us an amazing show last evening, all the way to the very end of the festival.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. It certainly was a beautiful day!

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A French Delicacy


Update...OK Seriously I will never again throw away another orange peel!!!

As part of my effort to celebrate the 30th Olympic Games, I am making various foods from all over the world. Orangettes are French in origin which are actually candied orange peels dipped into a dark chocolate.

How I am Celebrating the Olympic Games

Today as I watched cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan win the gold medal in the distance race, I started thinking to myself what can I do to help my family celebrate this amazing event. Well you know how much I like to cook so what I've decided is to find and make different ethnic recipes over the next two weeks and share them with all of you. Some of these recipes may be ones I have made in the past and have not posted, while others will be completely new to me.

So for today I am starting with France. I found this wonderful recipe for a French candy called Orangettes which blends together two of my favorite flavors of orange and dark chocolate. But, here's the twist, the orange part is actually the orange peel! There are a few steps to removing the bitterness of the peel and replacing it with sweetness that I will be showing you. I have them in the pot right now so hopefully my next post will be letting you know if these are a yuck or yum. Keeping my fingers crossed they are a yum!!!

Do you have any wonderful family or heritage related recipes you'd like to share???
I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great day and enjoy those games!!!


I've Run an Olympic Event and Lived a Dream!!!

As I sit here and watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games, I find my mind wondering back to last fall and the New York City marathon. The marathon is an Olympic event which is now an event that can be run by an non-Olympiads. Ironically enough I always had a dream of participating in an Olympic event ever since the '72 Olympics when Mark Spitz won his 5 gold medals in swimming and Olga Korbet blew away the judges in gymnastics.

For me, well I had to wait 39 years for my chance to participate in an Olympic event, and that happened on the day before my 50th birthday. And to make it even better, I ran with my best friend Donna...it was an experience I will always keep near and dear to my heart as one of my most cherished memories!
It was last June when I received the notice via email that I will be running in the 2011 New York City marathon. Well to be honest I was both excited and worried. I was excited for the obvious reason…the NYC marathon is one big stinking deal! But on the other hand I was a wee bit worried about being able to actually complete it. You see I was sidelined from running for most of 2010 due to a left tibial stress fracture which took forever to diagnose, and then I had 8 weeks in an air cast. Not fun. Once the cast came off it was a real struggle for me to get back into the swing of running again. Then over the winter months I packed on a few extra pounds which did not help the cause much at all!

Once it sunk in that I would be running this marathon, I remember thinking to myself that I have to pull it all together enough to train hard during the warm weather…which I hate…and imagine myself running 16, 18 and 20 miles! But thanks to my dear friend Donna, whom without I never would have been able to train the way I did, by July my training was off and running…and so was I.

So here it is the morning of November 6th, it’s early and we had to be at the charter bus in Clinton by 6:15. The weather forecast for the day was actually fairly mild for the beginning of November, but I know that the city is always a few degrees cooler than here at home so I packed a freaking wardrobe of various tops and jackets to take with me “just in case”. The bus ride up was pleasant but overall pretty uneventful. The bus dropped us all off where the race begins, at the base of the Verrazzano bridge on the Staten Island side. This is where the so-called “villages” were set up for the runners. These villages are coded with the colors blue, orange and green, so there were approximately 15,000 runners per village. The colors correspond to the line in which each runner will be running in until mile 8. There are 3 waves if runners that go out from all villages. Each wave has upwards of 70-80 corrals and these corrals are determined by how long each runner estimates it will take him or her to complete the marathon. So the faster folks are in the lower number corrals of each wave and us poky folk are in the higher number corrals. O.K….so now that you’ve got this bit of info you will never need or ever use, here is a shot of the mighty Verrazzano bridge.

The bridge is approximately 1.5 miles long so you start the race on either the top-level or bottom level and run a slight uphill for 3/4 of a mile and then down for last 3/4 mile.

Below you can see the two levels of the bridge as the first wave of runners from the blue and orange head out on the top and the green on the bottom!

Once you come off the bridge you are in the hub of Brooklyn and oh my God is Brooklyn beautiful!!! The fans there are awesome to boot! Thousands of spectators lined the sides of 4th avenue as the runners made their way down. At about mile 5 my husband and kids along with one of my oldest and dearest friends Christina were there ringing bells and clapping to cheer Donna and myself on!

So let me tell you a little about some of the other runners Donna and I encountered along this race. While we were in Brooklyn we ran past a young man who had bilateral prosthetic lower limbs and only one arm. As Donna and I ran by we gave him a big cheer and clapped as many other runners did when they saw him. Donna and I just looked at each other knowing we were thinking the same thing…”now how can I complain?” We also ran past a guy who was juggling 5 apples as he ran the 26.2 miles…he got quite the cheer as people on the sidelines were yelling “Look at the juggler”…or “Hey juggling man way to go!” I have to say that he was pretty impressive!

Here’s a shot of Donna in Brooklyn at about mile 11 with the Manhattan skyline in the far background.

Bands were playing all along the route so there was noise and cheering going on at almost all times. And the signs people had were awesome. There were signs stating how much “Brooklyn loves marathoners” all the way to “Run like you stole something” or “Run like someone is chasing you”. Then as we hit the Queensboro bridge the signs we saw mostly read…”Now get out of Brooklyn”!

We ran for about a mile and a half in Queens and then at mile 15 we were back on another bridge only this time it was the dreaded 59th Street bridge. This one mile long bridge has a slow steep incline which is countered by a fast and steep decline. Once we were off the bridge we were on 1st Ave in Manhattan and the large crowds were back again along with all of the bands. The bars lining 1st Ave were brimming with spectators and if you looked up you could see balconies filled with onlookers cheering. It was here at 63rd and 1st that our personal cheering section had convened. There was Chris and our kids along with Christina and then the rest of my husband’s siblings and spouses cheering and yelling, but most of all they all had enormous smiles on their faces! (Me on the left)

We had about 3 1/2 miles to run in Manhattan and it was roughly at about mile 17 or so that Donna began to get a cramp on her right side just under her arm. It got so bad in fact that it had begun to nauseate her. But being the true trooper she has always been with any adversity she’s encountered in her life, she refused to walk and just kept plugging along. We reached the Willis Avenue bridge at mile 19 1/2 which brought us into the Bronx. As we came off the bridge and made the left turn onto 5th Ave. we were greeted by a massive Jumbotron and our own image as we began our one mile run through the Bronx. It was pretty cool. I tried to get a shot of this but the closer I got the more mottled the image became.

So it was one mile in The Bronx and then we hit our last bridge and believe me there were people with signs saying “This is your last bridge”. Over the Madison Avenue bridge and we were in the Harlem section of Manhattan. It was there that a line of lovely and lively black women about my age were cheering and yelling “Come on Philly you can do it!” They were yelling to me and calling me “Philly” because I had now removed my jacket for the final time to expose my bib number for all the photographers and right above the number my tank says…”Philadelphia Marathon”. Well these ladies were just what I needed at roughly mile 22. They stood there with their arms extended and hands out to hi-five runners as they passed and I made sure I tapped hands with every one of them and as I did I said “Oh how I need you ladies right now!”

By this time the stitch in Donna’s side had begun to lessen and we headed down 5th Avenue looking for the entrance to Central Park. As we ran we heard people shouting to us that the park is only a mile away. There was a girl standing on the right side of 5th Ave holding about a dozen balloons and a sign which read “You’re almost there and I checked, there is a finish line”. At mile 24 we entered Central Park and in front of us were a series of rolling hills which to be honest, by this time we barely noticed. So up and down the hills we ran, however for me this was the first time in the whole marathon I had begun to wonder if I would finish. I didn’t hit the proverbial wall but I was just so ready to be done with this 6 hour 26.2 mile long jog that mentally the miles became longer for me. “Where the hell is mile 25?’ I said to Donna. She smiled and replied ..”Oh it’s there somewhere soon”. I was also looking for Chris and the kids and anyone else from our cheering section. Then finally, just past mile 25 there they were. Chris and Christina where again cheering their hearts out for us with words of encouragement.

We ran over and again gave them all hugs and thanks for their support. We knew that they would not see us at the finish by virtue of the fact that the finish line is kind of roped off from most spectators. There was one more Jumbotron as we rounded the last turn and there were banners one each side of the path telling you 1/2 mile, 800 meters, 400 meters, 200 and then 100 meters until the finish line. And there it was…the glorious finish line! I turned to Donna and grabbed her hand as I have in many of our past races. We wanted this photo finish of the greatest race in the world to be of us together, arms up and smiling through the tears! And tears did come for both emotional and physical reasons. But we had finished…we can stop running now. This race was over and we did it!

Now as far as any more full on marathons for me…well I don’t know. It is all in a way a bit beguiling to me. But one thing I do know was what I saw written on one of the signs towards the end of the race. The sign read…

“Pain is Temporary…Pride is forever!”

This accomplishment is something I will always have and can ever be taken away. It is all mine and then again it’s not. I’ve shared this journey with my family and close friends…it was a long and difficult one which I could have never done alone. And I am thankful for all of the love and support I received up to and including race day. I am forever thankful to my husband Chris that our children were there to witness this most incredible race!


Barbara Curran,
You are incredible—a champion in your own right! You finished the world’s greatest marathon on Sunday.
Just like our champions Geoffrey Mutai and Firehiwot Dado, Masazumi Soejima and Amanda McGrory, you achieved something that most people only dream about.
You were part of a record-breaking weekend, in so many ways. More than 47,000 runners. A stunning $34 million raised for charity. Mutai’s 2:05:05 in New York is now the fastest performance on a record-certified course in the United States. In fact, the top three men as well as the women’s wheelchair champion beat course records.
From Friday night’s inaugural Marathon Opening Ceremony to Saturday’s Dash to the Finish Line 5K to Marathon Sunday, the weekend was a blur of inspiration. As Jack Waitz finished, we all thought of our beloved Grete Waitz, to whom we dedicated this year’s race. We hope the moment of pure elation when you crossed the finish line will stay with you forever.
You’re an official ING New York City Marathon 2011 finisher with a time of 6:01:20. We call you champion. Don’t you love the sound of that?
On behalf of NYRR—your biggest fans,

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My Freshly Painted Adirondack Chairs

Last year I bought two "assemble yourself" Adirondack chairs from Home Depot for $29.95 each.

Not bad I thought considering the painted Adirondack chairs being sold at the pool place down the road were going for $299 a pop.

So in my most infinite wisdom I decided to paint them white...yay white! I just love the classic look of white on anything, so my chairs were going to be white...white with orange and white cushions I found over at TJ Maxx.

Well my chairs sat outside all last winter and ended up getting really yucky, however the idea of painting them white again just didn't appeal to me. So instead I found Krylon's Blue Ocean Breeze at my local Walmart and I painted them blue.

I also added a little stenciling to them...

...and bought these crisp striped chair pads at Home Depot for only $9 each.

I am so loving all the pretty color on my front lawn.

Wouldn't you love to come on over for a spell and sip on a nice cold glass of homemade ice tea while sitting under my big old Maple tree?

Well just consider yourself invited.
Hope to see you soon!

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Wonderful Garden Walkways

This afternoon was spent cleaning up the walkway from the front of our home to the back. It was sorely neglected due to the fact that we have been away so much since the beginning of June.

But after the all the weeds were pulled and small trees (yikes) removed from the path, I got to thinking about doing something a little more creative with this part of our landscaping. Yes Mr. Rosemary Lane will be absolutely THRILLED beyond belief that I have come up with yet another project for us to tackle.

So I went on-line and googled garden walkways, and here are a few of the stunners I found.

Create Motion
Keep Your Feet Dry
Go for the Classic Look
Keep It Simple
garden pathway
colorfully landscaped brick and concrete combination walkway
walkway square Pictures

paths design Pictures

garden walkways Pictures
Spring Valley Farm Garden Tour

How about it...aren't they just amazing??? Gosh I was looking for a little inspiration but wow...how could I not be totally inspired after seeing these walkways. Of course we will probably end up taking more of a low key approach to our walkway, but to say the least I am just reeling with ideas based on these fabulous creations.

Maybe you have been inspired too.

Which is your favorite???

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