Saturday, April 30, 2016

Faking Cronuts

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the self proclaimed Doughnut 👑 Queen. Although technically a purist, (glazed, plain, powdered, sugared), I will have to say I have never met a doughnut I didn't like. 
It has been years since I have made cheater doughnuts. When I did, I usually made them from Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits. 
I've been pinning too many donut recipes on Pinterest lately and that got me thinking about my newer obsession - Cronuts. Since Cronuts are a cross between Croissants and doughnuts - and layers are the key - then how would the flaky layers Pillsbury Grands work? 
It would also figure - just like in the oven - a hot, quick rise would do them best. I used a tiny biscuit cutter to cut the holes, and then plopped the doughnut into the hot oil. 
Drain them on paper towels after you pull them out of the hot oil. Then dip them into a cinnamon and sugar mixture or glaze that you have made from milk and confectioners sugar. 
I glazed the 'Cronuts' and cinnamon sugared the holes. Bob ate two of the Cronuts before I got a chance to snap the picture!

So - how did they fare? Not too bad! They definitely don't match up to a doughnut shop's Cronut, but for an early Saturday morning treat, they were pretty darn good!

Until later, xo, Liz
The Doughnut 👑 Queen

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Garden gets a Makeover

Fifteen years ago two other women and myself created an LLC and started a Gardening Magazine. We knew that we could not do the hard, physical labor of planting gardens late into our lives. We wanted something else that would potentially take us into old age  and we came up with the idea of a high end gardening magazine. The covers would be color, and made of heavy stock, the interior pages would also be of heavier paper stock than many magazines. The articles would be in depth, varied, and include photographs and illustrations.
I was in charge Advertising. It was my job to cold call anyone that I thought would be interested in putting an ad in the magazine. A pretty tough job. How would you like to throw money away at a fledgling magazine? However, I did make it happen. Not only for the first - but managed to get people to re-up for the second issue as well! Somewhere in between the second and third issues, I was told I wasn't 'holding up my end of the bargain' and was 'fired'. I'm still not sure what happened - but this really isn't where I was going with this story...

The above is an article Ginna wrote (with my help) when she was 8. I built this garden for her when she was 6. At that time she wanted to do anything I was doing. I had been obsessed with gardening since the death of my second daughter, Callie in 1996. At the time, gardening somehow connected me with the earth - and kept me from falling off into outer space.

Ginna selected all of the plants for her garden - we arranged them, put them in and watered. Ginna loved the paths, the flowers, and watering her garden, but didn't care so much for the, bugs,  weeding and the upkeep. 
I kept it up for many years, then let it go. Some of the plants were still there - one - the garlic chives, had done a swell job of taking over - including tearing up some of the brick path. 
17 years later - I need a place to seriously grow some lavender. My lavender wands have been selling like crazy at the Corner Store in Waterford, VA - and I need a ready supply of lavender stems! This area seems to be the perfect place to plant herbs. It is sunny all day and well drained. I started the clearing a week or so ago - and then Bob gave me the big push today. When it comes to gardens - we work together like a well oiled machine. It is wondrous. 

Today we rediscovered the path, Bob cleared away much of the garlic chives (the thugs!), I reset the brick edge between the lavender plants and the brick walk. Bob dug the holes for the lavender, I planted them Bob set the large stone at the head of the path, and put the beginnings of the mulch down.  Now I need to go out and buy some more herbs for this newly redone garden! A final photo will follow. The garlic chives tore up so much of the path right in the center of the garden, that we had to tear up the bricks to get at all the roots. I will reset this part of the path tomorrow.

Enjoy all of this lovely weather! xo, Liz

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Missed Connections part 2

I had to call my Aunt  Terri - to find out how late in the evening that she could pick me up. Then, after calling AA and being patiently on hold for 22 minutes, my call is dropped. I call again, and I am rebooked once more. I won't be getting into Gainesville until 10:30pm. But I'll be there! Hooray!!
Except by this time the severe weather had traveled further north - and my third flight was cancelled. I had now spent 6 + hours in the airport, waiting...
It was quite obvious to me that American could do nothing about the weather, other than take the precautions of keeping their passengers safe and cancelling flights.
My only hope then is to see if I can get an early flight out the next morning. The agent I finally talk to is very helpful, senses that this flight is very important to me and without asking, gets me the last seat on the 7:00am flight the next morning. Done. The weather is supposed to be clear, surely nothing will prevent me from getting to Gainesville by 10:30
Fortunately I live about 20+ minutes from Dulles - because I was never offered a hotel room for the night. My husband came and picked me up, and I spent the evening at home in Virginia - instead of with my new family in Florida.
Morning comes early, and I am on my way back to the airport. 
I get on the plane, and everything is on time. So much so, that we arrive in Charlotte 1/2 hour early! 
The pilot is told to wait, as soon as the assigned gate opens up, we'll be deplaning. The connecting flight the agent set up for me allowed just enough time for me to get off the plane and walk directly that gate. I presumed because he booked it - it would no big deal. 
But it was, because at 8:34 we were still sitting on the plane and no closer to being assigned a gate. I still had faith that AA knew what they were doing. But I guess not...
We deplaned using the stairs, luckily my suitcase was one of the earlier ones that was unloaded. I grabbed it, walked inside the terminal, went directly to the flight board. The Gainesville flight was in time and just a few gates down. 
Wow - I thought - it must be not very full - there was hardly anyone waiting.
Then as I wondered where the check in agents were, as well as all the passengers, I looked at the plane through the window once more - and the jets had started up. I don't fly very often, but this didn't look good. 
I grabbed a service employee and they went out to the tarmac. The plane was closed and I had indeed missed my connection - because my arriving flight was early? Are you serious AA? 
Next step. Do I cry? I couldn't believe this. No, not yet. I hold it together and go to customer service. The agent there incurred a bit of my wrath while I was simultaneously apologizing. There were 4 ridiculous, circuitous options for getting me to my final destination. I said I didn't care - just get me on the earliest one you can. 
Miami was the winner. They were boarding now, so she flagged down a cart for me and off we go. Upon reaching the escalator, an employee  grabbed my ticket, flagged down another cart on the upper level and off we went racing down the terminal. Finally there, I was one of the last passengers to get on the plane. We are approaching the airport now. In Miami. It is 11:30am
I should have been in Gainesville an hour ago- trying to piece together 56 years in my missing life. But instead, I am in Miami. 
Now I have lost TWO days, 24 precious hours of time with this new family I have. Who have taken time off from work - to spend with me. My aunt has been waiting for this day for 56 years, 2 months, and one week. The 2 days that I have now lost - are an eternity all because my flight from Dulles arrived early in Charlotte. 
I am slayed. 
A very sad American Airlines customer, 
Sincerely, Elizabeth Pickett

Missed Connections

Dear American Airlines,

I am on my way to Miami now. Is that my destination? No, but I digress.
Let me tell you a story. 
In December, 56 years ago, I was born. Out of wedlock. I was officially adopted on February 2nd of the following year. I was raised in a loving and wonderful family. 
Both of my adoptive parents are now dead, making me think that perhaps I should go in search of my birth family. Which I did, last August. Within 20 minutes of sending out an email to my 'new' aunt in Florida, I was greeted with a joyful response. 
I wrote a blogpost about the beginnings of my search on and called it My Big Wow. 
An 'original' cousin, Kathryn Romano, was so touched by these unfolding events, that she offered me her airline miles to travel to Florida - when I was ready. 
After arranging things with my 'new aunt' Terri - involving her taking days off from her job, I contacted Kathryn in early January and asked her to book my flights.
I would be flying from Dulles to Gainesville, via Charlotte on Feb 23. I was so excited!!
The day finally came. My husband drive me to the airport and I  boarded my flight to Charlotte. We sat on the tarmac for two hours waiting to take off. Unfortunately a terrible storm was making its way up the east coast. Charlotte was not letting any flights in or out. Eventually we ended up back at the gate, and I was trying to make new plans to get a flight out. I was taken care of by a very competent agent and rebooked through Miami with a connecting flight back to Gainesville. They ticketed me and I was ready to go. The flight was leaving shortly and we had not gotten the severe weather yet, it was only lightly raining at this point.   I waited about an hour (?) when it was announced that my flight had been canceled. To be continued...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Big WOW Part 2

I have had a lot to absorb over the past 6 months. I still walk around with the bubble over my head and yes, when it pops, out comes:

wow bubble by
Relatively soon after I posted My Big WOW, I started to connect more pieces to my Birth Family Puzzle. My Aunt Terri messaged me some photographs and I noticed other 'cousin' connections on Facebook.
What I had overlooked - was while I was bemoaning the fact that my Aunt and her family was in Florida, and another cousin was in North Carolina, another out in Arizona - was that I had a cousin Mary - who lived really close to York, PA - where I grew up, and now visit my brother and friends. 
I could actually meet her! Happy Dance!!! About a month later I was messaging back and forth with Mary, trying to find a good date for us to get together. As it turns out the best time for us to meet was when I was up in York for St. Mary's Holiday Bazaar. 
In Mid November. :(  
At that moment I felt like that was the ~~12th of Never~~.
When we started messaging back and forth, the first thing that Mary said to me was "I just want to be where you are". Followed by "I love how you're freaking. So am I". 

Before I get too ahead of myself - and confuse you totally... here's my 
Birth Family Order - in purple are my Aunts and Uncle - their children (my cousins) are listed below their names. The dates next to their names are when I first met them online or by phone.
Marian ~~~(dec'd)
Phyllis (me - Liz)
John David (half brother - dec'd)
Catherine E. (half sister - dec'd)
My Aunt - Louise ~~~(dec'd)
Mary - Aug. 21
Kitty - Oct. 2
Louis - Jan 2016
Therese - Sept. 17
My Uncle - Tommy ~~~
Salisa - Jan 2016
JD - Nov.7
My Aunt - Terri ~~~
Diana - Aug. 2

About a month after I started talking to Mar(y), Terese, her sister messaged me and we started to get to know one another. During our first conversation she asked if I wanted to have something my mother made. I was astounded. Of course I do! And, my goodness, thank you! Turns out that something was a Greenware pumpkin. Greenware was very popular craft with house wives in the late 1950s into the 60s. 
Another month goes by and cousin Kitty chimes in. Facebook has been such a wonderful way to get to know the personalities of everyone. Then it's Jd's birthday - and I contact him to say hello. 
It's almost time to meet Mary. She is going to come to St. Mary's on the days we are pricing and setting up in Mid November. And the day and time are here. And there we are. I am crying like a baby. In complete love with her, overwhelmed, joyful, amazed - WOW!

Meeting my birth cousin for the first time.
Mar, me and one of my 'original' cousins, Joanie.
Mar with me holding the Greenware pumpkin that was made by my birth mother Marian.

Mar was sweet enough to help both days setting up for the bazaar - and we had time to visit. She even had me over for dinner and I was able to meet her husband, mother in law, daughter and grand daughter. It was lovely! 

December comes and with it, a wonderful surprise. My husband and daughter coordinated with a dear friend, Janis, and my cousin, Kitty, for me to fly out to Arizona - to not only visit with Janis who had just moved out there early last year, but also to meet Kitty! January 22nd couldn't come soon enough.
December also came with some difficult news. The man that had married my mother and was the father of my two half siblings, died on the 19th. This is now someone I will never get to talk to, nor ask questions of. His memorial is held on January 16th.

After I had posted my first Big Wow - I had a cousin (another 'original'), Kathy, contact me. 

"Lisa, I read your blog. I am so thrilled for you. You can never have too many people to love you. I travel all the time for work and I have a ton of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. If you would like to visit your birth family, I would be privledged to cover your flight and hotel room".

So this is my next adventure - tomorrow I fly to Florida to meet my Aunt Terri, cousin Diana and her husband Michael, and their little girl Charity. I have also been told that two Uncles - Lew (by marriage) and Tommy (Marian's little brother) are planning to travel from other locations in Florida to visit with me! 

My Big Wow - Part 3 will be coming shortly. I have all sorts of stories to share with you about the memorial service and my visit to Arizona. Then of course - there's this trip and Part 4!

I'll be sharing some high lights on FB - but until next time...

Hugs, Liz
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