To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, December 31, 2010

No picture...


Because I was too shocked to think about fetching my camera. Earlier this year I had joined the One Small Change community and one of my earliest changes was to compost year-round instead of only when it's warm. I've been very faithful to that change and while some might say I've been a fanatic, I prefer to think I'm just being responsible. Anyway, last night, as I was preparing a stir-fry with some vegetables from my freezer, I tossed some cauliflower into the pan, but then decided I didn't like the look of it. I thought it might have gone bad somehow so I started picking it out and placing it into the composting bucket that always sits on the kitchen counter. It was bothering me that I was going to toss the vegetables so I took a taste of another piece from the pan, decided it was good after all and dumped the cauliflower back into the pan. Yeah, except I had already used the bucket for other scraps and it all got dumped into the pan. Now, before you go, 'ewwww,' I have to tell  you that I wash the bucket every time it's emptied so there aren't any nasty, smelly things in there, but still, my beautiful stir-fry was now full of the scraps from making dinner, a whole bunch of pistachio shells and the rinds from tangerines. It took just a moment to realize what I had done and then I laughed. I laughed because really, how ridiculous was it that I had dumped the whole bucket in the pan without even giving it a thought? And let me tell you, I was ever so grateful that I had emptied the bucket just before making dinner or else there would have been coffee grounds in there as well. Now that would have been an 'ewww' experience. Lesson learned? I guess it would be to keep the compost bucket far away from my dinner. It was delicious, by the way. I just picked out all the scraps and kept going. ~grins~

Happy New Year and may you find wonder in the year and humor in the moments.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back at it.

So, I say that I've learned a lot from all of you, and I have. I've learned things I didn't know I needed to know, and I say that's wonderful. It's crazy easy to get lost in blogland as I click from one post to another, follow the occasional comment, browse what this or that blogger finds interesting, and before I even realize it I'm off on a site with information I didn't even know existed let alone having ever given a thought to. That said, I'm also fascinated by the commonality of the sites I end up on. For instance, I met Shannon a year ago and joined her for the Reduce Clutter, Create Space, and though I love the feeling of not being owned by my stuff, I eventually got sidetracked by other pursuits and stopped purging. Baaad me. A couple months ago I met Pamela via a comment she left on one of my posts. More recently, I was browsing her site and clicked on a couple links for Minimalist bloggers and was floored by how little stuff they can live with. Mind you, I'm not going to pare down my clothes to 33 items (I don't think) or join them in their 100 things challenge, but it did get me back to thinking about the amount of stuff still in my house. I'm feeling renewed to continue purging and relieving myself of more of the accumulated stuff. And I'm feeling more ready to let go of some of the sentimental items, but I'm still worried about regret when I get rid of something that belonged to, say, my great grandparents. Man, that's my family's history! I'm trying something different for a while to see if I can really let this stuff go. This morning, I tackled a drawer in my kitchen that was full of useful items and hand-me-down cooking tools that are in perfectly good condition, but I just don't use them. I emptied the drawer, put a new liner down and slowly put back just the items I really and truly use. Things that didn't make it back into the drawer: Candy Thermometer - you know when the last time was that I used this? Like, never. I have never made candy, but I might. My dad's ice pick, which has a nice wood handle and the pick side slips into a convenient matching wood handle. Cool, but I don't use it. My grandmother's sieve and funnel. A cake tester - really? Skewers, a basting brush, extra tongs, pie server, large serving spoons and meat forks (notice the plural), and many more things that I can't remember just now. I didn't toss them. I put them into a clear tote and put them on a shelf in the basement - right next to the tote labeled 'extra glasses and coffee cups' and right where I can see it every time I go downstairs. I'm doing the one year rule - if I don't use anything in there for a year, then, well, then I have to decide if I really want to get rid of everything. I suspect the items that belonged to my family will still not be tossed, but I'll bet I get rid of a cake tester and the multiple serving spoons and meat forks. Actually, I'll bet those get put into a garage sale next summer because I just know I don't need that many. Anyway, this is what the drawer looks like now and it contains only the items that I use on a regular basis. I know it's odd, but it makes me happy to look at this drawer.


Next up? The cupboard underneath this drawer. It's full of useful items like an oversized baking pan that hasn't fit in my oven since the day I bought this place nearly 8 years ago. I used it extensively before I moved here, but I've learned to function quite well without it. Why is it still in there?

So, friends, what's on your agenda for the coming year?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just a quick post...

in case you still need something quick to bake. A couple things. First, I happened to stop into Penzey's the other night to browse the herbs and spices. I love Penzey's for their variety and the fact that there are jars of every herb and spice available so you can smell each one. I fell in love with the Vietnamese Cinnamon and had to bring some home to try. It's an amazingly pungent cinnamon, oh my.

Second, I was browsing my holiday recipes last night and I ran across an old favorite for cinnamon nuts. It's a delicious recipe, but the amount of sugar called for always bothered me. I just happened to have a jug of maple syrup sitting on the kitchen counter and since I had just bought a new cinnamon, I thought, "why not?" Why not, indeed. I've already made my second batch.
 
Cinnamon Almonds

2 cups raw almonds (or pecan or walnuts or whatever you have)
1 T maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon (2 teaspoons if using regular cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss almonds with maple syrup until coated. Mix cinnamon, clove and nutmeg together and sprinkle over almonds. Mix well. Place nuts on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 to prevent burning.

'Tis the holiday season so you must share these...no keeping them all to yourself.  See you back here next week. May you find peace and joy in your holiday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handmade Holidays

I'm pretty happy with what I've made this year for the holidays. When I look at the stack of handmade gifts it's pretty impressive, at least, it is to me. Here are the last of the projects I completed. The journal covers were hinted at in the post of my grandson where he is sitting in the window sewing. The littles each embroidered their handprints and I quilted them into the covers. My intent is that the journals will be used by the kids and their dad together, and then sent back and forth in the mail. I'm thinking that Dad will complete a page, send it to the child who then completes a page and sends it back to Daddy, etc., but it doesn't have to be writing. (Thanks Shannon) It can be pictures, collages, painting, found objects, really, anything they want. I made individual journals so Daddy can write personalized information to each child and they can feel more connected to each other.

It would be awesome if the journaling were about the everyday happenings in their lives while apart. See, I have a journal from 1865 that was written by one of my relatives and I love reading about what he was doing on a particular day and then trying to figure out where he went in town. He wrote about the everyday, whether he was working in the sugar shack, or went to a party, or how much he paid for a pair of pants, or the weather. He wrote about making fur mittens and selling them to make a little extra money. Simple, daily life that I find so fascinating and I'm hoping these journals turn into the same thing, that someday, someone will read these and get an idea of what life was like for these people who will be half a world apart for a time. Wouldn't that be awesome?
Hey, I made my first bound booklets for the inside. Have you ever looked at the bindings in books and tried to figure out how the heck they did that? No? Well, I did and I just knew it was some complicated process that would either frustrate me or make me buy fancy, expensive binding equipment. Nope, crazy easy and I found many, many posts online about how to do this. You need a needle, and some thread, and although the online posts tell you to punch holes using an awl, I didn't have one so I used a hammer and nail. Doesn't sound very difficult or expensive does it? I'm just tickled by the results.
Pockets were necessary on the inside to hold the signatures in place. (I learned that's what the bound pages are called) I only put a few pages (5 folded) inside because I didn't want it to seem overwhelming that a whole journal needed to be filled. This way, when one of the signatures gets full, I can take it out and replace it with another of the same size. When the journal is really complete (when Daddy is home for good), I'll bind all the signatures together to make a book for each child.  I think it's a brilliant idea and I can hardly wait to give these to my son.

The last project I finished was these cute little hats that were made up in less than an hour...aand I learned to make a blind hem using my presser foot. The process seemed complicated while reading about it, but when I actually sat down and did it step by step, well, it was sort of like magic because even though I couldn't puzzle out how it was working, it was working. Cool! So many new techniques this year, I wonder what next year will hold for me?
Happy holidays to you and I hope you're ready because it's here, ready or not.

P.S. I'm thrilled that the days will now start getting longer. So thrilled...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowstorm

Knitters - want a quick and beautiful pattern that does double or even triple duty? Please check out this post by the lovely and talented Jewleigh. She's an amazingly gifted knitter who has just designed her first pattern. Is this not beautiful? I think this would be a beautiful gift for the holidays.
I stole this photo right from her post but I'm pretty sure she won't mind.

Jewleigh began knitting only a couple years ago and immediately surpassed me in talent and knowledge. She knits socks, which I haven't, and sweaters, which I haven't, and now she's designing patterns? Which, of course, I haven't. Amazing. You can also find her on Ravelry.

Please, go take a peak at some of the amazing work she has done.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making a list...

checking it twice, gonna find out...

And checking items off my list. I actually made several gifts earlier this year like these and these, and though I have a few more to make, I'm getting very close to being complete. It feels good, but I think it feels best that I let go of the frantic Christmas a few years back. Many of my gifts are now handmade and straight from the heart, and I've cut back on the number of gifts I give. That came after much soul searching and realizing that I was only one of many who gave gifts to my family members and there was just too much 'stuff' for the recipients to keep track of and take care of after the holidays.

Another change I made is to make name tags for each of my kids' and grandkids' gifts instead of buying an ornament. This will be my third year of doing this and I've just finished up this year's tags. Tah dah! 
My intent is for each of the handmade tags to be hung on their trees in subsequent years and I'm hoping they have fun looking back at the year each was given.

While the idea for this year's tags came from the purl bee from way back, I saw an opportunity to use up some of the felt, beads and sequins in my stash. Stash busters are the best even though I barely put a dent in the sequin supplies. Why don't they offer just little bits of colors instead of whole bottles? I'm not sure about you, but there is no way I would take the time to sew a whole bottle of sequins on anything at one time. By the way, I sewed jump rings onto the back instead of making my loops out of thread. This way, an ornament hook can be slipped onto the jump ring to hang. Just a thought.

Now, back to that list...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

That sewing project.

Yes, well, I was so engrossed with the telling of my latest adventure with a Little that I completely forgot to post this picture of the sewing project I was working on. It's a gift for my niece. She and her brother are in the middle of the pack as far as gifting goes. They're not young enough to get in on the fun projects I make for the Littles and they're still living at home so they don't qualify for the family gifts I give to my siblings and their spouses. They've never complained, but I suspect they didn't exactly appreciate things like the family market bags or the homemade wash cloths and scrubbies, however my niece is very appreciative of the biscotti I bake for gifting every year. But still, for the last couple years I've been making them something special for Christmas Eve. Last year I made her Cashmere mittens from a thrifted sweater...they felt (haha, pun) delicious. This year, as I was perusing blogland, I ran across the tutorial for this make-up bag and I thought it would be perfect for Miss K.  I sort of love it and now I want one for myself.
Sometimes I can't believe how I'm intimidated by new techniques, but when I actually try them they turn out to be the simplest thing to do. I quilted the fabric for this. First time. Now, all of you quilters out there might scoff and think I'm being a pansy, but I truly didn't know how to quilt and I was afraid to try. What was I thinking? It's not like the sewing police were going to swoop in and haul me off to jail. It's just a simple 1" grid that I chalked off and machine stitched. Oh my, it made such a difference in the look, and the quilted fabric is just sturdy enough to help this bag hold it's shape. I suspect this pattern might have been created by a quilter (now I know it is) because there are a fair number of hand-sewing steps and the inside seams are bound off, which is good because it makes for a very professional looking bag. I like the hand-sewing. It quiets my mind and I feel like a little more love goes into each project. Will she appreciate all that work? Probably not yet, because she doesn't sew, but someday, if she takes up handcrafts, she will surely understand how much love went into her gift. Until then, I know and I'm happy to put a little piece of my heart into her gifts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just the two of us.

A weekend spent with Sir S (or any of the littles) rates high on my list of favorite things to do. This night it was just the two of us goofing around, walking around downtown, sharing a light dinner, visiting the theatre, talking and enjoying our time together. Oh, and I noticed something very cool about him as he was walking in front of me. This boy has a very suave style of walking, sort of a loose, languid gait. I grinned.
I've made scrapbooks for each of the kids over the years that they love to look at. Some of the pages are serious and some are just plain zany, but after seeing how their pages come to life with the pictures, all three of them have begun to look critically at their surroundings and they now point out 'good pictures'. He told me this tree would make a great picture in his book. I think so too, darlin'.
We purposefully walked out of our way to this coffee shop because a movie is being shot here tomorrow. It's supposed to be a car chase, robbery and gun fight, and the windows of this cafĂ© are going to be 'shot out'. We thought it might be really cool to be here when they shoot the scene except that the gun fight is happening sometime between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and that seemed a bit long to be standing around in 30° temperatures. Brrrr...good call. I think we'll sleep in and then make waffles instead.
The theatre before all the guests arrived and like most kids, he was fascinated with how the seats work. I remember that fascination.
Peter Pan - what a great show for Sir S with the Indians and pirates and Lost Boys. He tried so hard to puzzle out how the sets worked and the tricks the actors used, and he had an 'aha' moment when he realized that the father and Captain Hook were the same man. He never did realize that Peter Pan was played by a girl until he was getting her autograph at the end. As we walked away he said, "that's a girl!" Later, on our walk back to the car he told me a secret about his feelings for Wendy, but he swore me to secrecy on that one so I can't share it with you. ~grins~

And suddenly, this boy can eat! We had dinner just before the show and during the intermission he announced that he was starving so we stopped for another meal on the way home. Wow, this is new because this boy is known for not eating. It was late, but he asked if I would work on my sewing project once we got home so he could play Legos. He. Loves. Legos! Oh my, of course I did as he asked and we finally stumbled to bed about 12:30 - that's the luxury of staying with Grandma.

He didn't sleep in like I thought he would. In fact, the moment he woke he came padding back into my sewing room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he asked to play Legos again. Have I mentioned how much he love Legos? And no matter how carefully one tries to tiptoe through knights and horses and alligators and other miscellaneous pieces covering the floor on one's way to the ironing board, those little pieces hurt! Ouch!

It was a peaceful, easy morning in which he softly exclaimed, "it's so quiet." I asked if he wanted me to turn on the radio, but he shook his head no. "I like it," he said. "I never get quiet at home because K is always fighting with me and M never. stops. talking." I grinned, I get that, I really do. And we continued our tasks in the quiet, this middle child and I. Later, we ate and returned to the sewing room to work on a project for his dad. Daddy will be spending a great deal of time away from the family in the next two years and everyone is feeling the loss. We're proud of him, but his presence will be painfully missed and I was searching for a way for each of the kids to connect with Daddy on their own. I'll show you more when all of them are complete, but here is S diligently working on his.
Daddy's gonna love these gifts from all of you.

May you always seek and find bits of quiet to refresh your soul.

Edited to add: I should clarify, the Littles that I speak of are my grandchildren. My oldest son is their father, my middle son is living in Taiwan and my youngest son still lives in this city.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In three short weeks...

The days will start getting longer again. Thank goodness because it's getting real dark, real early and I feel like I'm in hibernation mode. It's a struggle to stay awake when I get home from work because my body is telling me it's time to sleep, but my mind knows it's only 5:30. Shoot, even the little puff balls (Sparrows) are curled up and sleeping under the awning when I get home. It's crazy!

Okay, I know I can't really sleep the days away, but I can slip into my pajamas and enjoy the quiet and comfort of home, and that feels pretty luxurious. I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied and I continually look for little moments to bring joy and brightness to my evenings. And I keep reminding myself that without the shortened days I wouldn't get to see the stunning blooms from the Christmas cactus. Tell me this wouldn't brighten up even the gloomiest day. Dang these are gorgeous!


I do spend a fair amount of time in my office working on sewing or scrapbooking or knitting projects. Or painting, or felting, or writing, or reading, or...you get the idea. The picture below is a recent repurposed project from the leg of pajama pants. It has now become a bag to hold all my cookie cutters. Crazy easy and required just a little bit of imagination to make it something useful. I've got several more projects in the works, but not yet finished. Soon. 


This is another of the few good things about the shortened days. This is a sunrise and they're much easier to see when the sun doesn't come up until nearly 8 a.m. I went outside to put the recycling in the bin and saw this through the houses in the backyard. Just beautiful. I couldn't enjoy it for long because I was shivvering in my pajamas. You know, the ones I put on last night nearly the moment I walked in the door, just after feeding the cat. ~grins~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spur of the moment


Saturday:

5 p.m. - B and I are at a birthday party for the delightful Miss M. It's winding down. One moment B and I are discussing where we want to go for a sunrise paddle tomorrow and the next we're planting hurried kisses as we bid goodbye to our loved ones. We have a plan and not surprisingly, none of my family thinks it odd.

7 p.m. - Upon leaving the party, we quickly hit B's house to get his boat, the storage unit to get sleeping bags and minimal gear, my house to get my boat and now we're on the road heading North

9 p.m. - We've just pulled into a campground and are marveling at the number of stars in the sky. We'll sleep in the woods tonight, get up early and slip into the water for the sunrise. I tell you it was a brilliant idea.


Peaceful...calm...beautiful. This is why we paddle.


Here it comes...


Reflections are stunning on this river/pond. It's the backwater between 2 dams and we've paddled here several times.


See? Beautiful. Those ripples on the water are from B's canoe having just passed by.


We paddle upriver, slowly, enjoying the morning and the quiet. We spy swans on the other side of an island. B goes to the right to get pictures and I swing around to the left to drive them toward B. But wait! What's this? Incredible! I have the honor of witnessing an adult Bald Eagle teaching a Mudhead (immature eagle) to fish. I forget about B because I'm too busy watching this training and snapping pictures. Seriously, how many people actually get to witness this?


I did eventually turn back to the swans. Five of them and they do as expected when caught between the two of us. B has wonderful pictures of them taking flight, but I was watching and grinning. Goodness, they are regal. Two Mute Swans and three Trumpeters, most likely on their way South for the winter. B noticed one of the Trumpeters was tagged so after reporting where it was sighted, we discovered the swan had been tagged in 1999. That's pretty cool.


Sometimes the reflections are just darned funny. Looks like crazy hair and mega-teeth.


See this? This, is snow, and I'm telling you it's the coolest thing ever! Yes, I love snow and I was thrilled to find it in the woods. That means it's only a short while before we get a good snowfall around here. Bring it!

So, anything exciting happen to you lately?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A 'packpack'.


The ever delightful Miss M is having a birthday soon and you know a Grandma gift is in order. It has to be the handmade, heartfelt type since I rebel against gifts of toys. The idea came together as a compilation of repurposed items and a bookmarked idea on Astrid's blog. And because I think it's way cool Miss M says packpack instead of backpack. hehehe....I'm just giddy with love for this!




The owl applique comes from a shirt she outgrew, but it was too cute to let go of. I know, I wrecked the shirt, but now she/we can enjoy her owl for many years. The fabric for the outside and the lining are both thrifted and repurposed and they go so well with the cute little applique. The color on the top photo is a little off due to the early morning lighting in spite of the fact that I used all of my lighting knowledge to get the best shot I could. It's tough, man. The next photo of the back is more accurate for colors.



Perks: an outside pocket, a drawstring closure and a magnetic clasp not to mention the cute factor.  Overall, I would say this was fairly easy, but not for a beginning sewer, mainly because it's an interpretation of a Japanese pattern and that always requires one to use their own knowledge of 'what's next'. Still, I thought the directions were pretty straightforward. However, you must remember that the pattern sizes are in cm and NOT in inches or you'll end up with a couple really big pieces. Trust me on that one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mmph, Crunch, Mmmm...


Oh, sorry, I was eating and didn't see you there. Want some? Yes, you do, you really do.



Five easy ingredients, mixed, roasted, cooled, devoured. The love for this is unanimous and it has instantly become the new family favorite.



May I please introduce you to:

Cranberry Crunch
1 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 c whole almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
3 T maple syrup
1 c dried cranberries

Mix together pepitas, almonds and sunflower seeds. Toss with maple syrup. Bake 300 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool and toss with dried cranberries.

To be fair, I got the original recipe from here and as you will see, I've adapted it just slightly. This is on the list to be given as Christmas gifts this year. Try it. I know you'll love it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some munching to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You must be kidding me!

See that....thing....below? Uh, that's a squash. No, it is not a gourd. It is an honest to goodness squash. A Cashew Squash, to be exact. Yeah, and that jug it's leaning on? Yep, that's a gallon jug of baking honey just to give you an idea of how big this beast was. I admit, I was intimidated by this baby and it sat on my kitchen counter, taunting me, mocking me for 3 weeks. I can't tell you the number of times I heard, "what is that?" when people came to visit. I began to refer to it as my nemesis.


But I'm a determined soul, if nothing else, and this weekend, after finally tiring of the relentless mocking, I fetched my biggest knife and chopped her up into pieces (in honor of Halloween?). It wasn't easy because even my biggest knife wasn't really big enough. I think a chain saw would have been in order. It took two loads in the oven to get it all roasted, but now my freezer is chock full of delicious Cashew Squash. It's much milder than I thought it would be, but still delicious. Squash Quinoa Soup anyone?

Squash Quinoa Soup

2-4 cups cooked squash ( like my soup thicker so I add the full 4 c)
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 c Quinoa, well rinsed
4 c vegetable broth
1/4 t red pepper powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In large pot, saute onion in oil about 5 minutes, until transparent. Add minced garlic and saute for just a moment until you start to smell the garlic. Add Quinoa and squash and saute 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, red pepper powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Notes: You can use any squash you prefer and the monster squash is not necessary, but it was fun. I added the red pepper because this particular squash is very mild, but I think I'll try it this way with butternut squash too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You had Megi...

 but we had this!



Oh man, it was awesome! It started Tuesday morning with drenching rain and straight line winds up to 60 mph. The winds continued into Wednesday evening so it's no wonder Lake Michigan was stirred up into such a tempest. We weren't the only ones who had to go see what she looked like because the beach was crowded with people happily braving the stinging sand and water spray, each of them enjoying Mother Nature while trying to capture images of her in one of her petulant moments. "They" said we hadn't had a storm like this since 1998, of which I have vivid memories of being transfixed in front of a plate glass window as I watched that storm move across the woods straight towards me (someone wisely suggested I step away from the window), but still, I didn't think this one was as bad. It certainly was spectacular though. If you look closely at the top photo you will see a man standing outside a door on the right side of the lighthouse, just below the catwalk. That's the place I would have liked to be watching the waves from. That and from the windows up top.

And you know what? These weren't the big ones. Those were breaking further out. Drat! Why am I not a surfer?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Crisp

From this:

To this:

in exactly 2 hours and that includes baking time. That's how good it is. I've tried to improve on the recipe over the years, but it all comes down to the same two things. Is it easy, and is it delicious? Yes and yes, so why bother with changes? And you only need look at the pictures to see proof. The littles were over for the evening along with their mom and B. I knew this was a favorite dish and since I had apples in the house...

Apple Crisp

8-10 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite size chunks
1 T flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 c white sugar
1 c flour
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 c oatmeal
1/2 c butter, softened (don't melt or your crisp won't be crumbles)

Place apples chunks in 9x13 dish. Mix 1 T flour, cinnamon and white sugar together and sprinkle over apples. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the 1 c flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and softened butter using a pastry blender until it's mixed, but still crumbly. Spread over apples and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Let cool until you can't take it anymore and then devour.

I would love to hear if you make this and how well you liked it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Ahhh, what a delightful weekend. It's always a good weekend when tasks get crossed off the chore list. I was able to have the windows open most of the weekend and that's always a bonus.

Friday was a scramble to get the gutters cleaned out and all the leaves up before the rain. I love the tidy look of the yard when it's raked and trimmed, but it's Autumn so once I finished I sat on the front step to watch many more leaves doing their slow back and forth dance as they fell from on high. Aric stopped by for a visit. Okay, he really came over so I could sew rank bars on his cover, but still, it was a visit and that's always good. I still had time to meet up with B and a friend for a quick drink as well.

I found puff balls sleeping under my awning lately. I assumed birds stayed up until dark, but they're tucked under here by 6 every night.

Saturday was spent in the pleasant company of my brother as we ran new electric wires in the cellar and added another outlet. It started, as all things with homeownership do, with a simple request to expose my laundry chute. The previous owner (oh, how I love him! not) covered the opening to the chute with conduit so I could never toss clothes down without them getting hung up, literally. Aaaaand, since we were going to expose the chute, well, we might as well run new wires to the light fixtures, and while we're at it, could we please put in another outlet because, really, can you ever have too many outlets? I thought my request was a simple hour task, two at the most. Unh uh. It took us all day Saturday and part of Sunday morning to finish. But it's done, and I love it, and I went right upstairs to toss laundry down the chute. Then I ran downstairs to see how it landed in the basket. Call me wierd, but it was new and I had to try it, you know, just to see if it worked.

Got together with several friends in the evening and played the most ridiculous game, ever. I can't remember the name of this game, but other than the action cards, the game was really dumb. But the action cards, oh my. At one point, Regina is required to keep her hand on the floor at all times, Jill draws a card that requires everyone to stand when anyone else does, so Regina now has to stand with one hand on the floor. And, according to a prior card, Jill also has to laugh whenever anyone else does. Marilyn has to stand in the shape of an X, which meant we all had to stand (with Regina's hand on the floor). I had to say a line and then put my head down on the table. I was laughing so hard my nose was running, which of course meant Jill had to laugh with me. Regina offered to go get me a tissue, but she couldn't pick her hand up off the floor. Yeah, and then Brent draws a card, walks away, out the front door and closes it behind him all the while saying, "wah, wah, wah....", which leads to more bouts of laughter (cue Jill's laughter) and more runny noses. And poor Charlie walks in to the middle of this absurd scene. Gah, it was ridiculous, I tell you.

But! We made delicious food as we always do when this group of friends gets together. This was new for me. Gingersnap crust, lemon cheesecake and raspberry topping. I need to tweak it a bit, but it was pretty darned good. Really darned good, in fact.

Sunday brought fabulous weather! After we finished up the electrical work and I sent my brother on his way, I cleaned the basement, put a new door sweep on the front door (another item off my list), and installed tilt-drawers on the kitchen sink. Really now, it was far too nice to continue working inside so I wandered out to the yard and took the rain barrel down, cleaned it and put it away for the winter. The garage got swept, cleaned out and organized too. I did a little more work on winterizing the gardens and spied these pretties around the corner. Such a delicious scent. Tropicana is the name. They are currently gracing the window sill in my kitchen.

And then, I went back inside and finished purging in my bedroom. My goal was to completely empty one dresser and get it out of there. Finally! It's empty. Many clothes were donated and out-of-season items are now stored elsewhere, jewelry was sorted and some was donated, but I still have a lot of my mother's jewelry that I just don't know what to do with. I don't wear much jewelry so I put it in a box in the attic to figure out later. I know that's not how one is supposed to purge, but I just can't toss her jewelry. She loved it, even if I don't. I just realized that most of the jewelry I kept to wear is my grandmother's. I guess I like her style (she said as she shrugged her shoulders).

Finally, one of the highlights of Autumn for me is the changing of the bed linens from cotton to flannel. Oh, heavenly delight! I love the weight and how flannel drapes around me when I snuggle in.

Can I just say that I slept very soundly last night. It was still warm enough to sleep with the window open and it felt wonderful to have all those tasks completed. What a way to start my week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mother Nature

I love it when she gives me a 'wow' moment. I stepped outside before dawn this morning to see just how cold it had gotten in the night. I walked toward the garage to peek at the backyard. No frost, good. I turned  to walk down the driveway to check the front yard and, Wow....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hmm Hm Hmmm Hmm

Hi. I went to the woods and water again for the weekend. Bet you aren't too surprised. Aww, yes, it was beautiful. Thanks for asking.
I'm never lonely in the woods. There always seems to be a tree nymph close by to keep me company.
Oh my beautiful Autumn. Could you be any more spectacular? It's no wonder you remain my favorite.
Let me explain about this guy/girl...and his/her buddies. We paddled the Crystal River on Sunday. It's a very beautiful, shallow and clear river. Might I say, crystal clear? The salmon were running and the crazy things just get a bit more crazy as we paddle by. I know they're trying to figure out how to jump in our boats to go for a ride with us. It's nuts, and because of that, you do hear the occassional yelp from the ladies as we paddle downstream. But, come on! They run into our boats, splash us with their tails as we go by, and bump underneath. And they're big! You can hardly blame us for yelping, and laughing immediately after.

Friday, September 24, 2010

All things.

I slept with the windows open last night. I awoke this morning to the wind. Not a breeze, not a draft, no, a full blown wind...and it was warm. Warm as in wet, tropical warm. I lay there for a while listening to the predawn noises, a dog barking in the distance, the trees rustling as their branches were whipped about, the occasional car in the distance and I smiled. I smiled because I realized that the only thing missing was the cheerful musical jingle of the garbage truck as it heralded it's approach so the people would know to bring out their trash. I'm wondering why everything, everything reminds me of Taiwan lately.

a scent, a sound, an outdoor cafe at night, a warm breeze, a crowd of people...a feeling

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's baaaack!

Words can not describe what is happening in this city...again. ArtPrize happened last year and though I only wrote about it briefly, I was there all the time. I plan to be there as much as I can this year too. The weather was wonderful on Tuesday so we rode bikes downtown thinking we could get a sneak peak at some of the art already on display. Ha, downtown was already filled with people doing the same thing. Nearly 2000 pieces of art from artists all over the world on display throughout the city until October 10. I am in awe... 
None of this is real. It's a small portion of a larger sculpture, but will you look at the detail in the hands?
Each piece of pottery is fired individually and threaded onto a metal cable.
The more I looked at this one the more I found. Every angle gave a different perspective of what it could be.
This is just clever...and thought provoking.
This full size lion is made entirely of nails. You know what else is cool? A lot of these sculptures are made to be touched. Some of the art is 'hands off', but there is an abundance that you can touch and interact with.
More nails and also full size.
Ooooh, you should see him in real life. Very large indeed.
A giant aerie. Watch out for the eagle!
This panel and the next one go together as one is the front and the other is the backside. I kept going round and round this and realized that you can clearly see the bottle and two glasses from this side...
but this side shows the table clearly and not so much of the glasses and bottle. How did they do that??
Excuse the noise in this one. I just wanted you to know that it's Tuesday night and downtown is hopping! How cool is that?

I'm gonna have so much fun in the next few weeks. Oh my...