Relaxing Weekend

It was nice that I did not have any plans this weekend except for the dentist on Friday. I spent some time each day outside working on our yard. I try not to do too much at once though. Yesterday I planted my tomato plants that my mom gave me. She grew them from seed this year.

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I’m hoping I did not plant them too close together. I plan on building a raised vegetable garden this year so it is ready for plants in the spring. Until then, I just had to find a spot for these tomatoes. Our ground is very rocky though, so it takes me a long time just to dig this small hole. Around the tomatoes, you can see all of the rocks I had dug up to make the hole.

Today, I planted a couple hostas. I have already planted around 12 groups of them, but I still have more to put in the ground. I’m just going to try to plant a few whenever I get the chance. I also have a couple of lily plants that my brother gave me last weekend for my birthday that I still need to find a spot for. I love getting plants from people, because, when we bought our house last year, there was only one plant (a hydrangea) on the property. Eventually I hope to have a lot of garden beds full of flowers. Spending time outside also puts me in a good mood and helps me feel accomplished even if I only have the energy to put one plant in the ground.

Besides spending time outside, I also baked a loaf of banana bread. The house smells really nice, and I might need to have a piece tonight even though I made it for breakfasts for the week. I’m not patient when it comes to fresh baked goods.

I also had a great dinner. So far, this is my favorite way to make salmon.

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My husband has been doing all of the dinners lately. In the warm weather, he loves using the grill. He isn’t a fan of salmon though, but I prepared myself a piece, and he put it on the grill for me while he made himself a cheeseburger. I put the salmon in tin foil sprayed with cooking spray. I drizzled it with lemon juice and sprinkled it with a little Mrs. Dash and parsley. Lastly, I topped it with a couple slices of tomato and folded the tin foil around it. In another piece of tin foil, I put some sliced yellow squash. Travis cooked them on the grill for me. This is my favorite way I have made salmon so far. The slices of tomato kept it really moist. I think I will have some banana bread for dessert.

Cinnamon Raisin Pancakes

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It felt like the kind of morning that needed pancakes. These didn’t take long with the help of Bisquick.

Makes 6 little pancakes or 3 or 4 regular size pancakes

1 cup Bisquick

1/2 cup milk (soymilk in my case)

1 egg

Mix ingredients.

Add ingredients of choice.

I sprinkled in some ground cinnamon and added a handful of raisins. I’ve used chopped apples in place of the raisins before, and that also tastes very good. My house smelled like cinnamon buns this morning.

Kamakura, My Favorite Spot in Japan

We got back on Sunday from our trip to Japan. We had stayed seven nights in Yokosuka. It was our one big trip for just the two of us before our baby boy arrives in October. It was an amazing experience, especially for someone like me who has never left the country or even been on an airplane before. I had my husband hang up these two wind chimes that I had bought as souvenirs.

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We bought them both in Kamakura, the first in a little shop across from Hokokuji Temple where there is an impressive bamboo garden.

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The second wind chime was bought on Komachi-dori Street, which is full of little shops and food booths. The man who owns the shop made the wind chimes himself using glass bottles.

I have to say that Kamakura was my favorite place to visit in Japan. It is a short train ride from Yokosuka. We actually visited it three times. I love Komachi-dori Street because it is full of so many cute shops, many of them with homemade items. There is also a store dedicated to Studio Ghibli products (Studio Ghibli produces popular Japanese animation films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle). On two of our visits, I stopped at a stand that makes steamed buns filled with a red bean paste. I’m not sure what they are called, but I am determined to find out and see if I can make them myself because they are so yummy.

Komachi-dori Street is very popular because it is near an even more popular tourist spot: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

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The walk from the train station to the shrine is also very nice. There is a tree and flower lined street that you walk down to get to the shrine. Wakamiya-oji Street is very beautiful despite the fact that we were about a month late to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.

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We were stopped several times by school children also visiting the shrine.

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The Japanese school children wear matching hats! We were stopped by five groups of them. Most of the Japanese people there know at least a little English, and the children were doing a school assignment to practice. It was very cute. They would start out by saying hello and asking us if they can talk with us. Of course we always said yes. They would each say, “My name is __. It is nice to meet you,” and each would shake our hand. They would ask us for our names and ask that we write it in their work book. They would show us a map and ask us to point to where we are from. They would also ask us a couple of other questions like: “do you like sushi?” or “Do you like anime?” or “Do you like Daibutsu?” which is the Great Buddha that we visited. Then they would ask to take a picture with us, and lastly they would thank us by giving us a gift. We now have a little collection of hand made bookmarks and origami from the children we talked to.

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Although we visited many places in Japan, Kamakura will remain my favorite.

Peanut Butter Cookies

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Because I have been away on vacation, I have not been able to bake in a while. I decided I wanted cookies, so, based on what was in my cabinets, peanut butter cookies were the best option. Here is a pretty simple recipe I like to use from a Better Homes & Garden magazine. The recipe says it makes three dozen, but I only ended up with two dozen. It may be that I made them bigger than the writer did though.

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/4 c packed light brown sugar

3 T milk

1 T vanilla

1 large egg

1 3/4 c flour

3/4 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

Beat peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla. Add egg and beat. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir. Drop rounded on baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake at 375 *F for 8 minutes.

Tastes best when still a little warm from the oven!