Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Tag Challenge

Louise at Kard Krazy hosts a tag challenge every Tuesday. This week's theme is birds. I have tags on hand, I have ribbon and stamps and inks. So guess what? I get to use some more of my many supplies and play!

The bird is mirrored, but wouldn't photograph well. Doesn't matter. I had fun!

And I made a tag last night too, although it's not a bird theme, but it sure was fun. Will probably be posting pics of a few more soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Last Monday, Kiki, at Yogademia, shared a post about receiving the Kreativ Blogger Award. This award has two parts: the first is to list 7 things that you are loving right now, and the second is to pass the award on to other Kreativ Bloggers. Lucky me! Not only did I learn some things about Kiki, and find a couple of new podcasts thanks to her, but she passed the award on to me. Happy day, happy day!

7 Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Altering/decorating envelopes. If I take the time to make a card by hand, and make sure some love and peace seeps into it, then isn't a plain old envelope just too boring? Wanna find out? Send me your address and I'll mail you a little something special.

2. Cupcakes. A few months ago I started noticing that cupcakes seemed to be everywhere - in many of the blogs I read, in the magazines I read, and in a whole display of cupcake cookbooks at the book store. I hate to be left out whenever there's something good going on, so I went sniffing around (pun intended) to see what all the fuss was about. Three cookbooks, a new hand mixer, two new cupcake pans, and a couple of magazine articles later, I'm hooked.

3. Netflix. Was a member many, many years ago when they first started. Recently rejoined. Slum Dog Millionaire was great. Inkheart, so-so. Australia was not what I expected, but with Hugh Jackman in it, it could've been in ancient Sanskrit with no subtitles and I probably still would have watched.

4. Still discovering beautiful, gorgeous, artistic, creative, generous, footloose, free-spirited bloggers!

5. The hint of autumn. I know it's just around the corner, and Mother Nature has been teasing us with some lovely, lovely mornings, only to have the thermometer hit 105 degrees by mid-afternoon. Come on Mother! I'm ready to plant tomatoes and herbs and violas and lavender and radishes and and and !!!

6. Lavender - baking and cooking with it. I ran across a recipe a couple of months ago for muffins or scones or something along those lines that called for lavender. I finally bought some and brought it home, and I can't find that recipe to save my soul. I did find a couple of others, though, and I love the subtlety of the lavender. I stashed three mini muffins in the freezer when I baked them and have since found some lavender tea in a local tea shop. Will try it one of these lovely aforementioned mornings.

7. Having every other Friday off from work. I adore my alone time. Sometimes I crave it, in fact. I have been on this schedule for a few months now, and I must say that I'm very pleased with myself because my Friday's are my "Me" days. I don't do laundry, I don't do housework to speak of, with the exception of washing a few dishes. I usually wander through a bookstore and stop at a coffee shop. Sometimes I'll do some other shopping. Most Friday's I take a nap at some point. My "Me" Friday's are very, very good days.

And now the award goes to:

The Bodhi Chicklet

The Happy Turtle

The Red Door Studio (whose beautiful book, "Nature Inspired," I received today)

A Fanciful Twist

Happy Loves Rosie

The House in the Roses (be sure to scroll down to the little wooden door and visit the Secret Garden)

The Feathered Nest (when I really want to chill, I turn on Dawn's playlist from the Feathered Nest, and the playlist from the Secret Garden - which is nature sounds - both at the same time. it's just gorgeous)

I do not expect that all these bloggers will respond with a post of 7 things they love. Not that I'm not curious - I am - but that's not my only goal in choosing them. These blogs are cheerful and uplifting, and beautifully artistic and inspiring, and spunky and fun, and romantic and feminine, and all a little bit magical. And I thought you might enjoy them too. I hope so.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I had to make time for playing this weekend. It was a crazy busy week. But where there's a will there's a way, and I really needed it. I didn't get all my laundry done so I'll wind up pulling some things out of the closet that I haven't worn for awhile to get by this week. And when I needed to run to the store this afternoon so that I have some healthy breakfasts and lunches at work this week, I ran my fingers through my hair and left without any makeup at all - not even mascara - which I never do.

I did squeeze in a fall-inspired mini collage one night this week:

And yesterday I quickly glanced at a handful of my favorite blogs (sorry, I may not have commented, but promise I'll catch up soon) and ran across this post from Dawn at A Feathered Nest. She linked to another post by Jan of The Polka Dot Barn (another darling blog, by the way) about the Team Tina Project. Tina is a fellow blogger who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Jan is collecting tags from any and all interested artists and bloggers to send to Tina to, hopefully, lift her spirits. I spent a little time this evening and made this tag and envie to send.

Expect miracles

I also received this picture of my grandson this weekend. What an angel! And he obviously takes after his grandma - falling asleep with a book in his hands. How sweet.

And it's really got me thinking. Tina is a grandma too. I can't imagine how sad I would be if I found out I was sick and the possibility existed that I might not ever see this precious little face again. So . . . I'm sticking my tag in the mail to Jan tomorrow and saying a prayer for Tina tonight.

Now I'm going to have a bowl of homemade rhubarb crisp with some good vanilla ice cream. Life is short and we should always make time for art, for prayer, and for really good desserts!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday

It's Saturday? What happened to Friday?

Busy, busy week at work. Worked the better part of today too. Will continue into next week I'm afraid. Really hate that it limits my play time, but what's a girl to do?

Hope to catch up with you all a little bit tomorrow. xoxo!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

International Day of Peace

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. --Thich Nhat Hanh

Click here for information on the International Day of Peace. Click here to visit other participants in Rhonda Roo's Peace Party. Perform a random act of kindness today, smile at a stranger today, and please pray, everyday, for peace.

The Zen of Cooking - worth the wait

Cream Soda Toffee Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting

a sweet ending to the weekend.

The Zen of Cooking Week Two - 60 minutes later

Progress . . .

The Zen of Cooking Week Two

I so enjoyed spending last Sunday in the kitchen that I'd planned on doing it again today. And I am. But I got a late start and am not quite "in the zone" today. Like, I know that butter has to sit out at room temp for a bit to soften before you bake with it. Why was mine still in the fridge until five minutes ago? And I still have two cupcakes left from last Sunday (was three until about ten minutes ago), so should I even be baking more? (Stupid question, I know!)
So for now, cupcakes are in a holding pattern. Can you guess which ones I decided to make?

Six Word Saturday

It's Sunday. Am I too late?

I saw this "Six Word Saturday" thing a week or two ago, then forgot all about it. Thanks to The Fragrant Muse and Serenity Now, I found it again today. (even though it's already Sunday.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Your help please!

Last Sunday I baked - cupcakes and muffins. I want to experiment some more this weekend, but can't decide which cupcake recipe to try. Which would you choose?

Cream Soda Toffee Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting. (Recipe here.)

White Chocolate Mud Cake with Whipped White Chocolate Ganache

Choc Chip Cherry Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

Vegan, gluten-free Red Velvet Cupcakes (although I don't have the ingredients for the vegan vanilla frosting, so would have to make something else)

I also found some gorgeous rhubarb at the grocery store, so I'll be making a rhubarb apple crisp too. Mmmm . . . Don't forget - the door is open!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"This is a murder investigation."

Let me start by saying that I don't watch a lot of TV. I will admit, though, that I am a fan of a few cop shows. I have my favorites, and they're my favorites for different reasons. I take them all with a grain of salt, and realize that they are for entertainment and not necessarily accurate portrayals of real police work.

NCIS is one I like. I watch mostly reruns because I can find them on at almost any time, but I'm not up to date with current season stuff. I like NCIS because of the characters. They are all so different, but they mesh so well. The Geek, McGee, is just endearing. Ziva is one tough chick, with a soft side too, though she doesn't show it often. Tony is . . . well . . . Tony. Abby is just a freakin' genius. But I don't believe for a minute that there is any one forensics expert that is an expert in fingerprints, and ballistics, and DNA, AND computer forensics, AND . . . you get the point. And is there anyone cooler or smoother than Gibbs? Anywhere? And when, out of the blue, he flashes that smile, well, he is human after all.

I watch CSI from time to time, also reruns. I mostly watch the original, set in Las Vegas, and some of the Miami version. But that's one show that it's hard for me not to nit-pick. Perhaps I just don't have accurate information, but I'm not buying that crime scene investigators all carry guns and make arrests. They certainly don't where I live. And do they really interview suspects? That's what the cops are for. My favorite CSI character is Grissom. A loner, very different from everyone else, but not at all ashamed or embarrassed by it. Then there's Horatio on CSI Miami. Puh-leez. What kind of a lunatic would always wear a jacket, and wear all black at that, in the heat of Miami? And never sweat? And every show ends the same - Horatio is alone with his thoughts, looking ever so concerned and humble, and we are supposed to be touched to the heart by it all. Puke.

My favorite thing to hate, though, about all the CSI shows (and probably some other cop shows, but this one in particular), is how they are the be-all-and-end-all of important people on a mission and everyone better do what they say and give them what they want because "this is a homicide investigation."

CSI: "Doctor, We're going to need her medical records."

Trauma Room Doctor: "You know I can't give you those. They're confidential."

CSI: "Look, this is a homicide investigation. That woman is dead, so I think the need for confidentiality is moot."

Or . . .

CSI: "The cook said he saw you and the dead guy arguing during the lunch rush."

Waitress: "Oh no, we never argued. We got along real well."

CSI: "Let me make something clear for you. This is a homicide investigation. If you're lying to me, even a little bit, I'm going to come down on you like a load of bricks."

OR . . .

CSI: "We're gonna need to talk to your employees."

Drive-In Manager: (groans) "Oh, come on, please. Is that really necessary?"

CSI: "It's a homicide investigation. We could just call the health inspector and see how many code violations he has festering in that concession stand."

Drive-In Manager: "Geez, fine, knock yourselves out."

Sometimes I miss a few seconds of the show because my eyeballs have rolled so far into the back of my head that it takes a second for them to roll back around again. And yet I keep watching. So tell me, who's the lunatic now?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fear: I'm Not Having It Anymore

Some days back, I posted in my 10 Cose di Me that I had come home from work one Friday evening when my husband was out of town and caught someone in my house. That was a few years ago, but I still remember it very well.

When I get home in the evenings, I always pull my car into the garage, close the garage door behind me, and enter the house through a door leading in from the garage. At the time, we had two dogs. They could hear the garage door go up and were always waiting, tails wagging, just inside the door for me. When I came in that day, the dogs weren't right there, although that didn't dawn on me right away. I'd set my things down on the dining room table and turned to walk towards the kitchen, when I caught some movement near the front door out of the corner of my eye.

It's funny how fast things happen. I was immediately struck with terror, and then just a fraction of a second later, I was relieved because I knew who the person was. It was our neighbor's son, about 19 or 20 years old at the time. His parents were out of town too and he was taking care of their house for them. He was nervous; he was maybe even more scared than I was. He stammered and gave me some story, a very shaky story, about leaving his phone in the house when he'd been over earlier in the afternoon visiting with my daughter, who had since left to spend the night at a friend's house. He had come back to look for it. He apologized and made his way out the door.

I just stood there for a minute, my mind racing, trying to sort everything out. How had he gotten in? He had obviously been back near the bedrooms; what had he been doing? Of course the dogs weren't barking - he knew their names, and if he'd really been over earlier in the afternoon, then he was no stranger to them either. Then there was a knock at the door and it was him again. Apparently, he had not had his phone in his hand when he'd left the first time. I couldn't tell you; I had not been paying that much attention. He said he thought he remembered now where it was, he thought he'd left it in the bathroom. He went to the bathroom to retrieve it, and he left again, still very nervous and a little panicked. I locked the door behind him.

And then I started getting mad. At myself.

When I first realized that someone was in the house, but then realized that I knew who it was, it was almost like it was a relief, and I'd let my guard down. I even said, "Oh, it's you." Which translated to, "Oh, it's you. Well, then I guess it's okay. Oh, and you forgot something the first time? Well come on in again." WTF? I know better than that! He still had no business being in my house. I should have said, yelled, "WTF are you doing in my house? You left your phone? Bullshit! Get TF out of my house NOW!" But, like I said, things happened very quickly, and that's not what I did.

I called the police, my hubby talked to his dad when they all got home, and the matter was handled. But I still saw him around, and he made me very uncomfortable. I'm not sure I was afraid of him, but I avoided him.

Sometimes if we were outside chatting with his parents, he'd show up and hang out, with what I swear was a smirk on his face, because he knew that it bugged me. If I was out in my backyard, and saw him out in his parents' yard, I'd immediately go into the house. If I wanted to go out on to the patio, I'd look out the back door first and if he was around, I'd stay inside. I had given him control.

Finally something clicked and I got mad again. Why was I acting like I was afraid of him? He should be embarrassed, and he should be afraid of me! And that was the end of that.

I realized then, too, that I'd done the same thing with a couple people at work. A couple of people made me uncomfortable, and if I saw them coming towards me down a hallway, I'd turn and go another way, or do whatever I needed to do to avoid them.

Not anymore. I look people in the eye and I'm not intimidated. Sometimes I even want to say, "Bring it!" It's really kind of liberating! So there's one more "cose di me."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

How do you wish to stretch?

That's Jamie's question to you and to me this week.

And I find no need to look very deep, or to get all symbolic or metaphorical. It's pretty straightforward. I just need to stretch. I just need to move. I just need to bend and to fold and to extend. Nothing complicated here. Just need to go to the mat. No more excuses - "I have a stomach ache," or "I have a headache." (Downward facing dog is a bitch when your head is pounding.) So I'll find some poses to do.

a scrapbook page I did of a yoga retreat I attended

Please be sure to visit Jamie's blog to visit other Wishcasters.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Zen of Cooking

and a recipe to share.

Among my many, many hobbies are cooking and baking.

Over the last several years, since my husband and I became empty nesters (we adapted quite quickly as a matter of fact), I find that I cook less during the week. But I still enjoy spending hours in the kitchen on the weekends. I love cookbooks; they are books after all. And I love getting new kitchen "toys" - pots and pans, knives, mixing bowls, and gadgets of all kinds. I invested in a Gel Pro mat for in front of the counter where I spend most of my time chopping and slicing and mixing. It's worth every penny. And I have a TV in kitchen.

This weekend, for example, I made:

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting - all from scratch.
Pan-seared Trout with Capers (Trout caught by Hubby in Colorado)
Fresh Lemon Rice
Citrus Roasted Asparagus
Chicken Salad (for lunches this week)
Lavender Lemon Mini Muffins
Bread and Butter Pickles

It's actually still very hot here to be spending so much time in the kitchen. But I needed it. I needed to clear my head of all the clutter and drivel from the last couple of weeks. Focusing on the weight and feel of the knife in my hand while slicing cucumbers, or really feeling the exhilaration that a whiff of freshly grated lemon zest provides really re-centered me. And then there were all those dirty dishes. They were all washed by hand. It was very soothing, if a little time consuming.

But the best part? Enjoying it all afterward. Hubby took cupcakes to work to share. I took muffins to work to share. And there were leftovers enough of the fish and the rice for at least one more dinner.

Lavender Lemon Mini Muffins
(found this recipe on the Internet somewhere)

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. lavender
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 400F and spray 24 miniature muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Combine sugar, lavender and lemon zest in a blender or food processor; process until lavender is chopped. Remove 2 tbsp. to a small bowl and set aside. Combine remaining sugar mixture, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir together buttermilk, oil, lemon extract and egg in a small bowl; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While still warm, brush tops with melted butter and dip in reserved sugar mixture.

Wishing you a sweet life,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Unexpected Gifts

We had rain yesterday. Real rain. Not just a sprinkling. Not just a smattering. Not just a drizzle. Rain. And the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. It was WONDERFUL!

It started midafternoon with a lot of thunder and some lightning. Then came the wind, and finally the rain. Definitely worth waiting for.

While standing out on the back patio enjoying every second of the cloudiness and the breeze and the smell (!), I noticed that my bougainvilla had fallen over. It is on a trellis/arbor and is just starting to get big. It's not the first time it's fallen over, but I'm always a bit alarmed because I don't want it to break or be damaged at all. I'm waiting (ever so impatiently) for it to climb up and over the top of the arbor and cover it. (Besides, I hate it when I know a plant has been damaged because I can almost hear them in pain. I also can't walk by the 50% off shelf in the garden center at the home improvement store without bringing a couple of poor babies home for some TLC. )

After the rain had subsided, I was standing in my kitchen looking out the window, watching the birds return the feeders. I looked over towards the bougainvilla, thinking that I needed to get my plant tape or some string and go out and stand it back up, hoping that it wasn't broken. When I looked, though, I saw a pair of doves sitting side by side on one of the branches. I smiled and thought to myself, "Now there. You see? If it hadn't fallen over, those two little honeys wouldn't have a spot to sit side by side." And I ran to grab my camera. I didn't think I could get close enough, even with the zoom on, to get a very good picture, but I was going to try (because that's what I'm beginning). By the time I snuck outside and tiptoed to the edge of the patio, they had moved apart. I snapped a photo anyway, a little disappointed that I'd missed "that moment." And then they flew away.

But when I turned around to head back to the house, I looked up and saw the beginning of a rainbow.

I kept an eye on it, but this was all I was ever able to see. And it was enough.

Today it is sunny again. And hot. And humid. But I have a rainbow in my heart and life is good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

10 Cose di Me

I got an e-mail today from The Fragrant Muse, the title of which was "You're It." She'd tagged me in a meme, and I simply cannot say no to Liz! (I also couldn't resist her use of Italian, which I kept in my title. And, no, I do not know how to count in Italian, at least not before this; I looked it up.)

The rules are simple: I am to tell 10 things about myself that my readers may or may not know, but are true.

uno. I work with mostly men. (Much less complicated than working with women, I can say from experience.)

due. I am 5'8 (maybe 5'9") and between 135 and 140 pounds, and wear a size 10 shoe. (and on days when I wear heels to work I am taller than most of the men.)

tre. I have been a victim of domestic violence (not my current hubby, he was a victim too). People that know me now (the few that know about it) say they find it hard to believe. I tell them that's because going through that helped to make me the strong woman that I am today.

quattro. My corn relish has won a purple ribbon at the county fair. And a jar of jelly won a red ribbon. I still have the ribbons.

cinque. I have watched "Top Gun" so many times that I know most of the dialogue word for word. I don't like Tom Cruise much any more. Tom Selleck on the other hand . . .

sei. I have worn braces -- twice.

sette. I used to be VERY shy, and I still am a little bit, but I'm also a decent public speaker.

otto. I don't really like diamonds so much. I have a diamond ring that was my mom's, I have a diamond tennis bracelet that my husband gave me for our tenth wedding anniversary, I have some sapphire jewelry that also has diamonds, but that's it. My wedding ring is a plain gold band, and I don't own diamond earrings or a necklace. (Although I look at earrings every once in a while, they just don't thrill me.) I love gemstones, precious and semiprecious, instead. Also prefer silver over gold.

nove. I came home after work in the evening once when my husband was out of town and caught someone in the house. That was scary.

dieci. I really don't like the desert, but I've lived in it all my life. I want to move to North Carolina.

I am now to pass this along to 10 blogging friends. I don't know about 10, but there are a few that I would bet have some pretty interesting stories and that I would like to get to know better. I hope they will share.

Marinik's Blog
Pink Purl
One Day at a Time

If I didn't tag you, but you want to play, the more the merrier! Just leave me a comment because I don't want to miss it!

Buona notte!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

What do you wish to begin?

I can't believe it's Wednesday again already. And September! My head is spinning.

I love Jamie's question this week. Most of my blogger friends and I all share a similar trait - we all have ideas - for projects and adventures and creating and writing and - well the list just never ends! And it's hard to find time to do everything. In fact, sometimes our creative juices are flowing so quickly and in so many different directions that it's overwhelming, and it's hard to just slow down enough to even begin one thing!

I am inspired everyday by what I see in the blogs I read. So much gorgeousness! In words, and sewing, and painting, and poetry, and photographs. And I want to try everything.

I've been wanting, probably since I started blogging, to improve my skills in photography. I would love to feel comfortable calling myself a photographer. But I only "take pictures," I am not a "photographer." I've dug out the book for my camera (just a little Sony), and even picked up a book or two at the bookstore. I've played with the settings on my camera (and then got them so out of whack that a bunch of pictures didn't turn out). And I've even considered changing my "Paris Fund" to the "Camera Fund" (but I'm not quite there yet).

I know that experimentation and practice are a big part of perfecting any skill or hobby. And I've been working on that. A little. But I wish to really begin.

Strangely enough (more like magically enough), I began a little this morning, before I even knew what today's prompt was. I was leaving the house to go to work. I'd backed my car out of the garage and was sitting waiting for the garage door to finish closing. I glanced over to the east and gasped. The sunrise was spectacular. I thought, "Wow! I wish I had my camera. That could be such a fantastic photo." I went ahead and backed out into the street, but turned one more time to look at the sun peeking out from behind a cloud.

That was it. I put the car in drive, pulled back into the driveway, raised the garage door and ran back into the house for my camera. I realized that this moment was passing quickly and that the sun would never sparkle from behind a cloud in just this way again.

This is not a perfect photo, but it is a beginning. The beginning of a new day, and the beginning of a new learning experience.

To beginnings,

p.s. Please follow the link above to Jamie's website to visit other Wishcasters.