Deck Tree

By day,
stark branches
that share kinship with
their winter bare brethren.
By night,
a glow that defies
the inky blackness
and radiates the warmth
and promise
of the season of light.

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Personal Journal


Going to lay
my erratic blogging
at the feet
of my personal journal.
Spending early
morning time
with pen in hand
instead of tapping
on a keyboard.
Journal number ten
in a row
on my office shelf.
A log spanning years.
A conduit into memories.

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Really Good Brisket



This recipe deserves bonus points for being both simple and good. I was in the market for a dish that I could make on Friday and serve to six people at a dinner party on Saturday night. Something that would be even better the next day.

I found this recipe in Sarah Leah Chase’s New England Open House Cookbook. She calls it “The Best Brisket,” and she’s right. I roasted it on Friday; sliced it Saturday morning, and re-heated it just before dinner. Definitely worth making again and sharing.

I really recommend buying this book. I have more cookbooks than I can count, and this is the one that I reach for on a regular basis. Everything that I’ve tried has been wonderful.


5-6 pound fresh beef brisket (trimmed of most fat)
2 packages Lipton onion soup mix
2 cans (Ocean Spray) jellied cranberry sauce
1 cup water


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Make sure the brisket fits rather snugly in the roasting pan. You don’t want lots of extra room around the sides.
3. With the fattier side on top, rub the two packages of Lipton onion soup all over the brisket.
4. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the top of the brisket, and pour the water into the bottom of the pan.
5.  Cover tightly with foil and roast for 3 1/2 hours. Check for tenderness at this point. I actually put it back in the oven for an additional half hour to achieve the tenderness I was looking for.
6. At this point, I degreased the sauce. I let the brisket cool down, covered and refrigerated it in the sauce in the roasting pan until the next morning.
7. Cutting a cold brisket against the grain is much easier that dealing with it when it’s hot.
8. I returned the slices to the sauce in the roasting pan and refrigerated it until late afternoon.
9. Reheating, covered, in a 350 oven took about a half hour.

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Rosemary and Cranberries

Saltwater Influenced


A few sprigs of rosemary, a handful of cranberries, a sprinkle of sugar, and a perfect holiday garnish is ready to decorate platters of food and trays of cookies.

I’ve posted the directions for this simple garnish before, but as I was making it again this year, it occurred to me that it was so easy and so pretty that it was worthy of a repeat.

You’ll need some fresh cranberries and sprigs of rosemary. Make a simple syrup by heating equal amounts of granulated sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the syrup into a bowl. Put some sugar on a plate. Dip the rosemary sprigs into the simple syrup and then into the sugar. Shake off the excess. You now have snow covered greens! Put some cranberries into the syrup. Remove them with a slotted spoon and toss them in the sugar. Instant snow covered berries! Spread the greens…

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Puffin Ornament

Opening the box of tree ornaments takes the lid off of memories. We are long past the point where our ornaments are merely decorative. Each one evokes a flash of recognition of a time or place or person.

The wooden star, decorated with crayon and hung with yarn, that Frank and Betsy made in his workshop when she was very young. The tiny glass bird that catches the light, only one of a flock of birds that were gifts from our friends Peter and Fay. Memories of Bretton Woods and Alaska; Puerto Rico, and Disney World are tucked between the branches. Pictures and handmade counted cross messages, in frames hung with ribbon, that mark Christmases of years gone by. And this year, the tiny puffin. Today, and in years to come, it with conjure up memories of a happy trip to Iceland.

Decorating the tree is a long process punctuated with ,”Do you remember?” As it should be. The most beautiful decorations are those that are hung trailing wisps of happy memories.

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Nap Time


in sunshine.
Crumpled heap
of golden fur
on his perch of choice-
dented spot,
matted with fur
perfectly positioned
for warmth
of afternoon light.
Watched over by
a portrait
of his buddy.

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Day After Thanksgiving


‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through the house,
signs could be seen that change was about.
Their season past, pumpkins now rest high on a shelf.
Beribboned wreathes decorate the front of the house.
And the kitchen birds have donned their bells.

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