from author, Amy Overley Rizzo

The Muse of The Day

"My knitting chair is a BRIGHT, acidic yellow color – a color that I hated as a child, but can't get enough of as an adult. Seeing it here, next to my blog banner, I notice that the very same yellow color is in my apron. It is a color that goes with nothing, but a color that I love to see, especially when it is next to something all natural in tones like the wood floor and walls."


Carolina and I share a passion for creative endeavors, and I've been enjoying her adventures for awhile now. Her latest post is no different. The woman's ingenuity constantly amazes me. Please enjoy her latest creation while I go back to digging my way out from under 9,340 lb of packed stuff. (Have you ever had the contents of your household weighed? It's mind boggling.) I'm off to find my bloomin' saute pan.

a retro recipe

Tuna casserole 008

I realized the other day that never in my life had I made tuna casserole. Never. In fact, I didn't remember my mom making it either. As a lover of 50's fashion and vintage cooking, one would assume that a tuna casserole recipe would be a well-used staple in my family menu. Yet I had never ventured into tuna casserole land. The mere utterance of its name seemed to elicit an instant reaction. The Husband had unappetizing memories (accompanied by horrific retching noises) of tuna casserole as a child, but he only shared them AFTER the fact. After the fact of me cooking and serving up tuna casserole for dinner. Ah, the timing of it all!

My mother claimed to have an outstanding tuna casserole recipe, but she had yet to share it. Despite numerous pleading phone calls, my in-box remained bereft of this tuna fabulousness. So I had to be resourceful and turned to the internet to piece together some sort of recipe. Since I am not a cook by nature (aka someone who can improvise over the stove with ingenuity and skills for tastiness) I cobbled together a couple of high-rated recipes and went to work.

Probably everyone in the world knew that this was no mystery dish. The ingredients were simple, the seasoning minimal, the results magical. Well, they were supposed to be. My results were alright. Not awful. Not superb. Definitely middle of the road. The problem was the cheese. Instead of going with cheddar, I used the last of some low-fat (don't ask me how that got in the fridge) Monterrey Jack.

The high points were the potato chip and melted cheese crust. You can see a bit of it at the lower right-hand corner of the picture. That amazing crust was worth the entire thing. In fact, I think I'll make a casserole using only potato chips and cheese. Shazaam!

The best part of my foray into tuna casserole was Henry & Lisa's Solid White Albacore Tuna. Have you tasted it? They are to tuna what grass fed beef is to burgers. Once you taste this stuff, you'll never ever want the traditional canned tuna. They use sashimi grade tuna loins that have been caught on small family boats, on hook and line. The tuna loin is thick and meaty, and there's very little fishy smell. I've been leery of canned tuna because of the mercury, but because they catch small-sized tuna the mercury levels are lower. Plus, the tuna is cooked only once in the can so it retains more Omega-3 oils. USA Today ran an article about their growing business.

My one act of lunacy yesterday (and let's be grateful there was only one) was too open six packed boxes in search of something to hold the casserole. Rather than accept defeat and calmly accept that my life is mostly in boxes at the moment (and call for take-out), I tore open six of them. I was on a mission! No moving limbo/hell was going to defeat me! Utterly ridiculous in retrospect yet somehow satisfying. Ripping off the tape like a madwoman, all the while muttering under my breath about tuna and 'where would I be if I was a casserole dish.'

So here's the recipe. How does it compare to yours?

Tuna Casserole
1 12-oz package egg noodles
1 onion, chopped
2 cups shredded, cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups frozen peas
2 6-oz cans tuna, drained
2 ½ cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crushed potato chips

Cook pasta in boiling water for around 7 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Sauté onions and mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil until soft.

In large bowl mix cooked noodles, cooked onions and mushrooms, peas, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, tuna, and soup.

Transfer to greased 2-quart casserole dish (I only had a 10×10 inch cake pan since all my casserole dishes are packed up at the moment). Top with crushed potato chips and remaining cheese.

Bake 20 minutes until bubbly. Watch carefully so that the topping doesn’t burn.

if you give a bear a pancake

First she will ask for a cup (or more) of frozen blueberries to eat as an appetizer. And in the process of enjoying those blueberries, she will quite enthusiastically smear blueberry juice all over her hands, face, and the shirt you (foolishly) put on her first thing in the morning.

Blueberry pancakes 01

After finishing the blueberries and wiping her hands on the dog's back, she'll want to help you stir the pancake batter. She'll fling some batter at the wall, completely by accident of course, and will then stir up an original concoction of her own consisting mostly of baking powder. She'll taste it (you knew this was coming) and will make dramatic gagging noises, sticking out her tongue so that you can wipe it. Repeatedly. For the next five minutes.

Blueberry pancakes 02

When the gagging theatrics are finished, she'll push her stool over to the griddle so she can watch the pancake cook. She'll smack it a few times with the pancake turner, just to see what happens, and will try to push the blueberries further down into the batter with her fingers. "Blue!" she'll cry. "Cook!" she'll add.

Blueberry pancakes 03

Eventually you'll manage to wrangle her into her chair so that she can eat her pancake smothered in butter and syrup. She'll ask you for extra syrup on the side for dipping and will try to say "pancake!" around a mouth full of food. You'll probably pray that everything stays in her mouth. That's the risk you run when you give a bear a pancake.

Little Bear’s Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries
1 egg
1 Tbs packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Frozen blueberries

Whisk egg and sugar together until well combined. Add remaining ingredients (minus the blueberries) and beat well. The batter will be very thick.

Pour desired amount of batter on to hot griddle and sprinkle with blueberries. Cook pancakes over medium-low heat, allowing the pancake to cook thoroughly. Flip when one side turns a deep, golden brown.

Makes around 4 medium pancakes.

Many thanks to Sed for noting my recipe error. Yes, flour would be helpful in pancakes.

Blueberry pancakes 04

Blueberry pancakes 05


finders keepers

Perfume group

I've decided that moving is the masochist's way of cleaning and organizing. At one point in our history The Husband and I moved every 12 months or so across half the country. At least twice. Thankfully that ended with our settlement here, but up until that point, we had moving down to a crazy, practiced science. Our possessions were few and streamlined and we constantly had a supply of cardboard boxes stored in our attic.

The move we're going to make in less than a month has assumed bigger proportions. First of all, we have actual furniture. Furniture for grownups. Like a solid walnut buffet and an antique china cupboard. Of course we'll be moving The Husband's living room furniture, remnants from his bachelor days. Frankly, my romance with the oxblood leather couch and cub chair has waned, and I've developed a full-blown loathing of the coffee table. It looks perfectly serviceable, but it's a monolith of marble and solid wood, and you need to hire the Incredible Hulk to move it. I'd rather rent a chainsaw and bust the sucker into pieces, but I doubt my husband would ever forgive me. How he could possibly love that behemoth is beyond me. And he has actually vowed, with a hand placed over his heart and perfect dramatic presentation, that it's the ONLY piece of furniture that he has ever loved. The only one! I wonder if the moving people can accidentally lose it along I-95…hmmmm.

This time our move is going to be different. Mostly because I'm not allowing The Husband to toss his crap, er, stuff in a box without sorting through it. No random receipts from three years ago, no Christmas cards that he forgot to mail (complete with stamps) but was too embarrassed to confess, no odds and end electronic equipment that somehow manages to all look the same. Of course I'm obeying the same rule. And with a much better attitude, I might add.

Perfume toilet water

Just yesterday I stumbled upon a collection of perfume bottles that I had as a child. At one point my Grammy worked at a cosmetics company as a bookkeeper, and being the consummate frugal, she saved every sample and tester they gave her. This was years before I was born, and when I was deemed old enough (first grade), she began giving them to me. Every time I visited, she would disappear into a closet and emerge with a tester of perfume or tiny face powder that had never been sampled. Needless to say, I was fascinated by the stuff and wore the perfume in copious amounts. I remember my father having a heart-to-heart with me about how a little bit of perfume went a long way. I listened to him with a grave expression, all the while wondering why we were discussing this completely random topic. I figured he just didn't have the good sense to recognize a sophisticated perfum like Intoxication Toilet Water. Good grief, you must have been able to smell my approach from a mile away. I was a seven-year-old who smelled like an octogenarian. One without functional olfactory nerves. I believe the term toilet water has become self-explanatory.

When I pulled out the perfume bottles, some of them had evaporated into a molasses-like consistency but others looked perfectly the same. I felt compelled to open them, even though I could easily smell the scent that emanated from it a yard away. The perfumes got all over my hands, despite my ginger handling of them, and I mistakenly overestimated the distance and smeared Evening in Paris on my nose. Evening in Paris? Dear ones, if I ever make it to Paris and it smells like that, I want a full refund.

Other re-finds weren't as stinky. I had a lovely reunion with my Victorian butter dish. (My eternal thanks to Kitty for his sharp eye at estate sales and generous gift-giving.) Please excuse the tarnish. I just can't seem to find the time these days to polish the silver.

Perfume victorian butter dish

The Victorians knew how to set a table, didn't they? I've decided that the hooks on the side were to hold the butter knife.

Perfume victorian butter knife

And I rediscovered this:

Perfume vase

Is it a bud vase? A knick-knack? Regardless, I like it too much to donate it. Even if I'm uncertain how to use it.

Every day has become one of discovery. I'm either loving the things I re-find or asking myself, "what the holy blue blazes was I thinking?" I hope to have more of the former in the weeks ahead and a whole lot less crap to move. Amen.

Subject matter

Beach sunset

This past weekend, a family member commented that they were glad that I had arrived with camera in hand since so many get-togethers go undocumented. I was happy to be elected the family photographer, but after downloading the 300+ pictures from our trip, I realized that my preferred subject is Mother Nature. I love my family, but I don't photograph them well. Sometimes I get lucky and manage a decent group shot, but most of the time the pictures come out looking rather ho-hum.  

Looking through a camera lens has taught me to cherish a specific moment. Beauty, silence, sunlight…these are all difficult things to quantify with words. Through the eye of a camera, though, I can almost cement that specific feeling in time. The most ordinary things become extraordinary, making me stop in my tracks to really see what's in front of me.

Beach at sunset 02

I couldn't dream up anything more beautiful than what has already been provided.

Beach at sunset

Have you looked around you today?