Time Will Tell

I’ve realized through the years that every person we encounter, every event in our lives has, unknowingly, the mission to guide us to needed change. Like guardian angels, some friendly and some not, they are the hands we need to hold as we cross the bridge to where we need to be.
Most of the times it takes me years to understand the purpose of a certain event or encounter in the storyline of my life… time will tell the reason why some things needed to come together and why others needed to fall apart… Like a Symphony, it will all make sense in a harmonious blend of sounds and events.

I was on my porch shaking dust out of my rugs when a voice said: “How is the porch holding?…I built it a long time ago…”. Surprised I looked down and saw an older gentleman and a lady. Five brothers and sisters were born and raised in my house and two of them,  brother and sister, came visit their childhood that day.

It was an emotional tour and my house was photographed in ways never done before.
I followed them around the house through the 3 apartment building holding a pen and a notebook and taking notes of all the stories of their childhood, this house and my neighborhood.

They explained to me that the first floor apartment, that I rent out to permanent tenants, used to be “Wilson’s Candy Store” when their family bought the house. Then in 1949 their father opened “Taylor’s Pharmacy”. The pharmacy door was right in the corner of the house with the number address 199. In the late 1970s the Pharmacy closed its doors, the corner door and the store front windows were removed… the space was transformed into an apartment that has been rented out to tenants since then under a different door number – 203.

***

Several months later I got home after work and found an envelope under the door…pictures from the past dropped by the lady that had visited my home several months before – In the pictures, my home in the 40’s and 50’s.

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It has been now 1 year since I got these pictures. I have been holding to them dearly, wanting to display them in a meanfull way, but was not sure how.

***

In the last 3 years, as the “quality of life” in neighboring cities declines, also the tenants looking for an apartment to rent in my city changed too. In my experience, I realized that lately about 95% of the people looking for a new address are not looking for a better place to live… they are asked to move out from their previous address. They are NO LONGER WELCOMED, and so, they move on from apartment to apartment carrying with them their “troubled ways”! When I understood this “cycle” I told my husband I no longer wanted to rent to “permanent” tenants! I suggested renting the apartment as an Airbnb.

And so our Airbnb adventure starts here! The pictures I’ve been holding on to, finally found a home and a purpose for why they were handed out to me.

Welcome to “Taylor’s Pharmacy Guestshouse” apartment.

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Pictures enlarged and framed… ready to hang.

As I fill this empty space, I’m taking simple steps to create a welcoming and fun home for my guests to enjoy as they browse through Southern New England.

I started with the kitchen. I removed the cabinet doors and changed the hardware to give it a more open and vintage feel to it. Before…

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After…

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Vintage Pyrex

What’s next?… “Time will tell…” 😉

 

https://www.facebook.com/Taylors-Pharmacy-Guesthouse-1709856412650850/

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As simple as that! – Homemade Pasta.

IMG_2347Once in a while I’ll set some time aside and surprise my family with Homemade Pasta. Today was Pasta Bolognese.

Contrary of what you may think, it’s the sauce and not the pasta that consumes a few hours of the time… about 2 hours. The pasta itself takes less than 30 minutes…

And so, a rainy day like today is the perfect day to dedicate some time to THE BEST PASTA BOLOGNESE!!!

You got 30 minutes to spare? Let’s make some pasta!

Pasta Ingredients – Two eggs per one cup of flour… 1 cup of flour will make 2 servings of pasta. I made pasta for 4 people… therefore, I used 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs. Got it? 😉

Make a well in the center of your pile of flour and crack in your eggs. Slowly mix together with your hands. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to the board as necessary.

Let the dough rest for a little while before rolling it out.

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When you’re ready, roll it out as thinly as it’ll go.

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Cut the noodles. You can use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter if you don’t have this pasta manual machine.

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To cook the noodles, just boil them in salted water.

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Toss it with the sauce of your choice.

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Craving too some Bolognese for your pasta? Here’s that recipe also…
Ingredients for the Bolognese
1 tablespoon olive oil
50 grams butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
100 grams pancetta, diced
200 grams lean beef, minced
150 grams lean pork, minced
200 millimeters red wine
2 tablespoons double-concentrated tomato puree
500 millimeters chicken stock

1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta. Cook for around 10 minutes until the onions start to look translucent.
2. Add the minced meats and brown all over, ensure the meat is fully broken up and no large chunks remain.
3. Increase the heat, add the wine, and allow to evaporate for around 2-3 minutes.
4. In a large jug, dilute the tomato puree into the chicken stock and add to the pan, stir well.
5. Reduce to a low heat, then cover and simmer for 2 hours. Check from time to time to ensure the sauce is not drying out. If this occurs, add a small amount of stock.
6. To serve, cook pasta and toss in the Bolognese. Top with parmesan cheese.

 

Oh YUMMMM!!!! 🙂

 

“Drunken Mussels”

The night before I baked the coconut cake, made the pasta salad, pre-baked the barbecue chicken… at 6.30 am I was packing the snorkeling gear, the body-boards, the fishing poles, the picnic. At 9 am we arrived at our destination at the seashore.

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After an entire day of eating, swimming, fishing and jumping waves, our most favorite hours were the ones spent in the only activity we had not planed for: …quietly hopping through tidal pools harvesting mussels!

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This was a unique bonding activity for me, my daughter and my mother. There’s something almost sacred about the aromas, the sounds, the silent, the peace you experience when you devote some hours to exploring tidal pools. And then they disappear with high tide as the waves Dash upon the rocks…as if it all had been nothing more than a dream. The seashore you knew so well becomes unrecognizable.

I can’t describe the immense satisfaction I felt in cleaning each mussel we harvested and cooking it for our meal…

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…But the pleasure we all felt in sharing and savoring this appetizer was quit obvious… it was DELICIOUS!!

And so, here goes the recipe for “DRUNKEN MUSSELS”, seasoned with sweet memories of a Summer day at the Seashore.

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DRUNKEN MUSSELS

2 tablespoons butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 lemon, zested

2 cups white wine

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 slices bread, grilled

2 lemon wedges for garnish

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Season with red pepper flakes and lemon zest, stirring for about 45 seconds.

Quickly pour in wine into the pan and season with black pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, stir in mussels, and cover immediately. Shake pot and let boil for 1 minute.

Stir mussels, replace cover, and let boil for 2 more minutes. The shells will begin to open. Stir in parsley, cover pot, and cook until all shells are open, 1 to 3 minutes.

Serve with grilled bread and lemon wedge.

I Went to the Woods…

I went to the woods to bathe in its peace…to rest my mind from city worries…from the never-ending untangle work of our lives.

In these 7 days of camping, between rain and fog, sun and Summer breeze, my moments of gratitude as I exhaled “Thank you God” were immediately replaced by thoughts of worry while wording “Oh God, help me”.

The peace I found was Transient…its warmth was breve, and some comfort was found in other much littler things…like this DIY Nesquik Chocolate Milk I prepared before departing to the campground.

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DIY Nesquik Recipe

– 1/3 cup of unsweetened 100% cocoa powder

– 2/3 cup of sugar

– 1 pinch of salt

Sift the cocoa powder and combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Mix in a cup 1 or 2 tbsp. of your mixture with 1 or 2 tbsp. of hot water. Mix well until powder dissolves. Add 1 cup of cold milk, or warm milk. Enjoy!

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One warm cup of this recipe was sure followed by a “Thank you God”.  🙂

…It’s the Little Things…

 

A Different Turn in Everyday’s Path

My Wanderlust desire is fulfilled with simple everyday things…

… Like taking a “right turn” instead of a left in the road traveled everyday.

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…Or just to step inside a place I have daily only driven by.

 

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My Neighborhood’s Craft Store

 

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My Neighborhood’s Craft Store

 

…Even doing the same “old” things, but in a much different way, or different season.

Wanderlust is not defined by the distance. It is the desire of living new experiences…and that can be found everyday right were you stand now.

With Love, Debora.

I worked yesterday, and today… and will be working tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow… and besides all that, a lot has happened in the last week…

But you can’t really skip a holiday!… and there is no point in complaining and feeling Cranky about the lack of time and the succession of events that need your immediate attention all the time.

So today after work I raced home  before the rain and in time to pick up some flowers from our garden… my daughter colored the eggs… and I prepared ahead some dishes for tomorrow’s simple Easter dinner that I will be serving to my family when I return from work. It is now 11.43 pm and I just finished!   I’m proud! …every dish is ready for its final touch tomorrow… dessert is ready… the table is set… And I’m even taking a few minutes to wish all of you  “A Very Happy Easter”!!

With love,

Debora

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Homemade Mayonnaise

 

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As promised, here is the recipe for  the Homemade Mayonnaise.

Take this Base Recipe as a blank canvas… when you achieve the creamy luxurious consistency, your mayonnaise is done and it’s delicious! …but you can add so much more personality to it at this point.

In the picture above, the olive oil I used was very bitter, and therefore I added to the final result 1/2 tsp of sugar (I could’ve used raw honey… next time I’ll give it a try)… also 1 tsp of Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard, and 1 tsp of lemon juice, just because it goes so well with fish. It was divine!! My husband, that usually dislikes everything with store-bought mayonnaise in it, absolutely loves this kind.

And honestly, it takes less than 2 minutes to whip it up. Why pay for the store-bought kind filled with “God-knows-what”?

More pictures on this luxurious Mayonnaise – Pain and Small Victories

Crock Pot Homemade Vanilla Yogurt

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I have been using several different recipes for homemade yogurt… but this one is definitely the most tasty of all.

 

 

Recipe

1/2 Gallon of Whole Milk

1 Tablespoons of organic Yogurt (with live cultures…read label to confirm).

Electric Crock Pot

Cooking Thermometer

A Colander

Cheesecloth

Bath Towel or blanket

For Vanilla Yogurt add: 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract + 1/2 cup of sugar

 

Pour milk in Crock Pot on high for 2-3 hours until temperature reaches 180°F.

Turn off and gently add the sugar and vanilla to the milk (ignore this step if making a plain yogurt). Allow the milk to cool undisturbed for about 3 hours to a temperature of 110°F.

Remove about 1 cup of warm milk into a separate small bowl and add the starter yogurt to the cup of milk.

Next pour the cup of milk back into the crock pot and stir in gently going from side to side. Do not stir in circles – use a careful and slow up and down lifting motion moving across the length of the crock.

Carefully cover it with a towel or blanket, snugly, and leave it undisturbed (I leave it overnight) for about 10 – 12 hours.

Oh…to wake up in the morning and run to the kitchen to take a peek at the Crock Pot. Surprise!! Look how thick it is…

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I always leave some space in the individual mason jars, to add a few toppings “on-the-go” for my lunch box.

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If you like a thicker yogurt, pour it into a colander lined with cheesecloth and set on top of a large pot.

It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and about 3 or 4 hours to make Greek style yogurt.

Store it in 8 ounces mason jars and refrigerate. The longer yogurt stays at room temperature the more tart it will become.

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Bananas with a drizzle of honey is my favorite topping for a homemade yogurt! This is today’s bedtime snack…Yummmm… and Goodnight!!

 

(Recipe adapted from the “Granny Miller Homestead Skills & Knowledge”)

“Without a Song or a Dance (or a Dream), What Are We?”

Back again to resume and conclude the description of our trip, struggles, and finds as we tried to decide the future of our long time empty and “abandoned” house in Azores…

In order to avoid the concentration of mildew and simplify the cleaning of the house in our future trips, the house was decluttered, cleaned and organized… hundreds of books were donated to the church and friends to preserve them from the inevitable decay they would be subjected in a closed house… the most valuable antique pieces of furniture were sent to the craftsman shop for restoration while other pieces will wait for their turn… the not-antique pieces of furniture that needed repair, were restored in location…

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In the gardens and land surrounding the house…well, the Morning Glory joined forces with the Bamboo! They teamed up and invaded a large amount of the property: the Bamboo infesting and taking over the land, and the Morning Glory taking advantage of the Bamboo’s heights to engulf the top of the trees, walls of the property, and roof of the house.

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Morning Glory invading the top branches of the Fig Trees.

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Bamboo and Morning Glory teaming up on the roof.

In the war against this infestation we bought some weapons and tools, and tried to save as much of possible in the short time available before our departure of the island. We focused in removing its access to the roof of the house, and saving the most endangered fruit trees… specially the fig trees.

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My warrior (and husband) freeing from the vines, branch by branch, his beloved Fig Trees.

We also had to cut and remove from the property several very big trees that had fallen during some rough Winters, blocking the gardens’ paths and bringing down a few rustic stone walls.

We literally worked every day from dawn to sunset… it is a very big property ! But we left the island with a sense of accomplishment and relief. The urgent matters were taken cared of; we had a clear notion of what was needed ahead; and we are better equipped, and prepared, and motivated for the DREAM. A dream that started with an Abstract feeling, but it rapidly gained strength and form, day after day of our laborious days.

Oh… and if any of you has tentatively followed this story in my previous posts, and is wondering “what happened to those over two hundred vinyl Records??!”… Well…

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…those were gently cleaned, one by one, and stored in a much drier cabinet, in a much drier room, and are waiting for my return. Next time I’ll be equipped with a new record player.

I hope and Wish that one day in the future, our Future Guests, of our Future “Bed & Breakfast”, will have the pleasure of playing the records, sing, or even dance to the sound of it! …as I used to do over 30 years ago to the sound of ABBA. I was 10 years old.

If you are anything like me, you are right this moment humming some of their tunes… as I am now. What songs are you humming?? I’m with “Thank You For The Music”…

As I sing away out loud, as loud as I used to be,  here are some pictures of how I imagine now our silent house awaiting. Farewell and until next time…

Thank You for the Music

I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
Cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk
She says I began to sing long before I could talk
But I’ve often wondered, how did it all start?
Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
Like a melody can?
Well, whoever it was, I’m a fan

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with golden hair
I wanna sing it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

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Living Room panoramic window.

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Another window’s view…

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…another window…

THE END  …and just the beginning.

“The Serodios in Azores” and “The Durrells in Corfu”

…Continuing the description of our trip, struggles, and finds as we tried to decide the future of our long time empty and “abandoned” house in Azores…

On the first night, I hardly slept. As if breathing mildew wasn’t bad enough, there was also a very hungry mosquito flying over my head all night long! I got up tired… The sun was just waking up too. And I immediately felt inspired and recharged by the views, and ready for whatever came (or flew) my way.

 

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The view from our home of the mountain of  Pico Island

 

We realized that most of the mildew and damage in the house was caused by water infiltration through the walls due to the variety of bushes that had grown in the gutters on the roof. Rain water was trapped by the plants and infiltrated into the walls under it.

 

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Grass and little bushes growing in the gutters above the front entrance…

Much had to be done and so we divided forces… my husband cleaned the gutters while I cleaned the house inside.

If you have never seen the TV series “The Durrells in Corfu”, please do so. It is my most favorite TV series and it is absolutely and perfectly delightful.

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The Durrells in Corfu

The series follows the Durrells, a British family, in their Vivid and endearing misadventures as they adjust to a new life in the Greek island and try to make a home out of a pile of shambles…

Many times, especially during the more critical moments of our two weeks stay in my old home in Azores, I thought of the Durrells.

As I cleaned the house I became very intrigued with these droppings I kept finding in the house…I’ve known all the shapes and sizes of all sorts of droppings of the fauna living in and out of this home for all my life… but I never seen these ones.  It looked like chicken droppings, and I found so many as if the entire house has been used as a chicken coop!!! …on the top of cabinets, on window sills… I could not understand this and it troubled me that I could not evaluate how serious was this problem.

As the morning warmed up I also started to found several bees flying in the house and bumping against the windows. I closed the front door and, sorry but I had to do so, killed the bees. First the mosquito, now the bees. It was clear I needed to go out and buy some bug spray. When we return home with some groceries and bug spray there was several dozen bees flying everywhere inside the house!!!

“How in hell are these bees coming in the house??!!!” Sorry again but, I sprayed the bees and started inspecting every possible entrance until… I laid my ear on the curtain with a flower pattern that covered the brick oven’s opening in the kitchen… Oh my God!!!!

And this is the first moment when I started to compare my life in Sao Jorge Island with “The Durrells in Corfu”… Vivid resemblances!!

As I laid my ear on that curtain I heard a buzzzzzzzzing of a thousand bees!! As if there was a bee hive in the chimney tunnel above the oven… I carefully lifted the curtain… The oven opening was covered and taped to the wall with a big cardboard, old and softened by mildew… and in the middle of it, a big hole… and behind the hole, some bees trying to get in… I ran for the bug spray and aimed it at the hole.

Armed with a flash light and a can of bug spray, I had to remove the cardboard and “redirect” the bees to the other exit upward. More spray! And the bees resentfully left the chimney. And I went back to cleaning the house with all its mildew and bugs and mysterious droppings…Two hours later the bees where back again… More spray!! Gone, then back again!!! It was obvious they were trying to settle in the chimney to start building a bee hive…

This is not how I had imagined I was going to be using the brick oven for, ( A Blizzard, A Plane Flight, and A Bread Recipe ) but my husband and I decided that maybe a “smoke message” would make it clear to the bees that this was not a good place for a bee hive.

Of course, the oven was also filled with rubbish!!! I cleaned it all out while my husband gathered some wood in the land, and we set it on fire in the oven. This was a beautiful moment! To see that oven again on fire…to see smoke coming off the chimney after so many years…

The fire was over… the oven was warm and nicely clean… I decided to no longer hide it behind a curtain and instead I decorated its opening with these two very old terracotta containers. They were used in the old days, before fridges existed, to store pork meat soaked in lard or in salt. As I grabbed the pots to wash and clean, I froze in horror…creeped out!!

Inside of one of the pots was hiding eight corpses… the answer to the droppings mystery… the skeletons and skin of eight bats!

Eight bats that got into the chimney and passed by the same hole as the bees… and as the bees, and due to the flower pattern curtain, they could not find the way out. I dropped in the garbage their skeletons, washed the pots and displayed them at the oven…and then I heard more bees, again!!!

 

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Antique Terracota Pots

I’ll cut my story short here just by saying that I managed to find a smart and practical solution to block the chimney tunnel above the brick oven… a way that could easily be removed when we needed to use the oven, and easily be blocked again to prevent intruders. We never again had any bees or bats encounters.

At the end of the day we were exhausted!! And still we found out that the water pressure in the house was too low for the water heater to provide us water warm enough for a bath or even a shower. So, I had to heat on the stove three big pots of water, three times again until there was enough water in the tub for our very tired family of three to take turns taking a very needed warm bath.

At the second night our home was bee-free and bat-free and mosquito-free… and I slept like a rock. Thank God!!

(Now go google “The Durrells in Corfu” and watch the entire first season… You will thank me later. You’re welcome… )