Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Well, I managed to get my office cleaned before the strike of midnight!!!

I am not a superstitious all!!! However, it somehow makes sense to me that whatever you are doing New Year's Eve will set a precidence for the coming year. Yeah, it's only in my head, but you know the saying, "what you think, you create", right?

I like to have my bills paid and in the mail, if I can, and the house clean, and whatever I want my circumstance to be in the coming year, I want to create on New Year's Eve.

My entire house did not get cleaned, however, my office did...





My reward???

While I was slaving away in my office, Hubby was busy in the kitchen preparing a feast of King Crab Legs, Lobster tails! with melted butter, homemade Foccacia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, artichoke with mayonaise, and sauteed greens with preserved lemons! I feel a little guilty about the extravagance of the crab and lobster, but this man does love a feast!

I feel blessed to have a wonderful husband, three awesome children, a mother that still wishes the best for me, a supportive extended family, two dogs that are definite members of our family, a thriving business, a home that I have come to appreciate, and love from all of the above.

I wish the same for all of you! God Bless You.

Happy New Year!

Ancient New Years
The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.
Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

"Happy New Year" Around the World
Arabic: Kul 'aam u antum salimoun
Brazilian: Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo means "Good Parties and Happy New Year"
Chinese: Chu Shen Tan
Czechoslavakia: Scastny Novy Rok
Dutch: Gullukkig Niuw Jaar
Finnish: Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French: Bonne Annee
German: Prosit Neujahr
Greek: Eftecheezmaenos o Kaenooryos hronos
Hebrew: L'Shannah Tovah Tikatevu
Hindi: Niya Saa Moobaarak
Irish (Gaelic): Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit
Italian: Buon Capodanno
Khmer: Sua Sdei tfnam tmei
Laotian: Sabai dee pee mai
Polish: Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo
Russian: S Novim Godom
Serbo-Croatian: Scecna nova godina
Spanish: Feliz Ano Neuvo or Prospero Ano Nuevo
Turkish: Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Vietnamese: Cung-Chuc Tan-Xuan

Obligatory fine print:
Gary Ryan Blair is the inspiration behind New Year's Resolution Week. This annual event was founded on the premise, that a single resolution can positively and profoundly create lasting change in your life and help to make the world a better place. To become part of the world's largest personal change initiative, visit

Have a fun and safe New Year's celebration my blogger friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Frost Flowers

I had never heard of a frost flower before yesterday. I am enthralled!

So delicate. Takes me to a place of wonderment again.

Frost flowers is the name commonly given to a condition in which thin layers of ice are extruded from long-stemmed plants in autumn or early winter. The thin layers of ice are often formed into exquisite patterns that curl into "petals" that resemble flowers.
The formation of frost flowers, also known as "ice flowers," is apparently dependent on a freezing
weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The sap in the stem of the plants will expand (water expands when frozen), causing long, thin cracks to form along the length of the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. As more water is drawn through the cracks it pushes the thin ice layers further from the stem, causing a thin "petal" to form. In the case of woody plants and tree branches the freezing water is squeezed through the pores of the plant forming long thin strings of ice that look uncannily like hair ie: "frost beard".
The petals of frost flowers are very delicate and will break when touched. They usually melt or
sublimate when exposed to sunlight and are usually visible in the early morning or in shaded areas.
Examples of plants that form frost flowers are white
crownbeard (Verbesina virginica), commonly called frostweed, yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia), and Helianthemum canadense. The have also have been observed growing from fallen branches of conifers and contain enough hydraulic power to strip the bark off.
These formations are also referred to as "ice flowers", "frost castles", "frost beard", "ice castles", "ice ribbons", or "ice blossoms".
The name "frost flowers" is also a name given to formations on newly formed ice in the arctic

Aren't they incredible?

We have added frost flower hunting to our list of things we want to do before we leave this earth.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting Organized

Reading through the Sunday paper yesterday, I noticed that all of the flyers had "storage solutions" on sale. I love to start off the new year clean and fresh.

The advertising business is usually pretty quiet around the holidays so I have no excuse to not "get organized." I've done a fairly good job of not getting overwhelmed with stuff during the year in my office, but looking around this morning, I see that I have three piles of junk; one to file, one to enter into the computer, and a pile of odds and ends that I'll probably decide to throw away after going through it a second time.

Oh Lord, there's another one!

These piles don't look too bad, I know, but keep in mind that I spent some time cleaning up my piles before Christmas. Hehehe.

In my past life working for a cable company, we were told that to save time you should only touch a piece of paper once. Do whatever you need to do with it, respond to it, file it, or if it's not important, throw it away. Don't set it aside to deal with later. Totally makes sense. Obviously, I'm not always real good at that.

A few months ago we stopped at a yard sale, having spied a large, 4 drawer file cabinet sitting in their driveway. We handed over 25 bucks and it's now sitting in our garage. It's banged up, scratched, but the drawers work and it will hold all of the records from this year that we need to keep, but don't need to have immediate access to.

I don't do well with clutter. It bogs me down and I feel overwhelmed. Hubby and I have made a pact that every weekend we will do at least one thing in the house or yard that takes more effort than a simple cleaning. One weekend he completely emptied out the pantry, cleaned it, checked dates on perishable items, and only returned items that he knew we would use. Love that man!

So I'm starting with my office. I vow to have it totally organized by January first!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

'He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree. '

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Legend of the Christmas Spider

When my kids were little, my youngest came home from preschool on Christmas eve with a little rolled up piece of paper, tied with ribbon, and attached to the paper was a little black pipe cleaner spider. When I asked him what it was he told me the story of the Christmas Spider. Here's the story he shared with me so many years ago.

On Christmas eve, a long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year... Christmas day, the day on which the little Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner on the ceiling. They had fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the little Christ child's visit. Then the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone went to bed and then get a closer look.

When the house was dark and silent, the spiders crept out of their hiding place. When they neared the Christmas tree, they were delighted with the beauty of it. The spiders crept all over the tree, up and down, over the branches and twigs and saw every one of the pretty things.

The spiders loved the Christmas tree. All night long they danced in the branches, leaving them covered with spider webs. In the morning, when the little Christ child came to bless the house, he was dismayed! He loved the little spiders for they were God's creatures, but he knew the mother, who had worked so hard to make everything perfect, would not be pleased when she saw what the spiders had done.

With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, the little Christ child reached out and gently touched the spider webs. The spider webs started to sparkle and shine! They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold.

According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas trees. It has also become a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the Christmas tree.

I still have the rolled up paper, ribbon, and spider and when I decorate the tree it brings me right back to the day he told me the story and all of a sudden I'm looking into that little four year old face again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wild Weather!

I'm hoping to pick up my daughter from the airport tomorrow afternoon. As many of you are experiencing, from coast to coast, the weather is wild. We had howling winds last night (40-50 mph), but because we are so far south, we didn't get the precipitation that many others got. My friend in New Mexico woke up to over a foot of snow. They are not happy about it but are used to it. They live at 7,000 feet. She was planning on spending Christmas in our living room. Maybe next week...
Even if a person lives in a relatively calm part of the United States, travel will be questionable because you don't know where your flight is originating.
I think we may be okay if she can get on a plane and get out on time. She should leave her area before the next onslaught of weather hits her area, and we should get home before that same storm affects this area.
We'll keep our fingers crossed!
I'm hoping the same for all of you!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New "French Roses" Quilt

Did I mention that there is no black velvet to be had in Tucson??? I know! I can't believe it either! So, I'll have to order it online. I was hoping to have the velvet & tapestry quilt done by Christmas to give to my daughter, but no. Time wise, I would have been sweating it anyway. Things do have a way of working out as they're supposed to, right?

While I wait for the velvet, I have started the French Roses quilt. I saw it made up at a quilt show here in town. It was so soft looking and beautiful! The roses are four layered fabrics and each layer is sewn in a quarter inch so that the edges fray a bit, softening the edges.
The quilt show was close enough to my birthday that my very thoughtful Hubby bought the pattern and stack of fat quarters for me. He is so good to me! Love that guy!!!

Three years later I think I finally have everything I need to complete the top. I'll still have to find a backing that I like and purchase the batting, but I have put the roses together from the stack of fat quarters. I may add a couple more fabrics because I'm not completely satisfied with the combinations, but here's what I have so far.

I don't know that I'll have time over the holidays to get much farther on it but I'm excited about it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Weather - Monsoon

The prompt on The One Minute Writer today was Write about how the weather affects you emotionally, or recall a weather-related memory.

I had written this back in Monsoon season in July, but it holds true today as my favorite "weather."

Sunny and warm in the morning and as the day heats up, the biggest cloud formations that I've ever seen grow right before your very eyes. Really, you can watch them. It's hot and humid and then you feel the slightest hint of a breeze. Your head snaps up to look in all directions. (You can see FOREVER from almost everywhere) Sure enough, there it is, the curtain of rain that you can see maybe 50-75 miles away and if you're lucky, it'll come in your direction. The wind starts picking up and you look around to get things picked up and put away before the rain gets here. Ahh, there's the rolling grumble. Shasta quietly tiptoes into the house, back to her cave under the bed. She's the most alpha dog I know and is willing to take on anyone to prove that she's the boss. However, a growl of thunder will send her to bed every time. A few light sprinkles tapping on the pool cover makes me hopeful that we'll get some real rain. Did you ever see the movie "Never Ending Story"? Remember the Nothing? That's kind of what these clouds look like. They move and change and have a biblical quality about them. And it's getting darker. Yep, it's coming! We grab our glass of wine and head to the patio to watch. The wind is whipping up, blowing the birds into their hiding places in the bushes and beams under the porch. The rain starts in earnest and you feel the temperature drop; sometimes 20 degrees. Oops, the swing bangs into the smoker, better take that down. Planter blows over. Dang. The trees are whipping and the rain is so loud smacking on the pool that you have to raise your voice to talk. We stay on the porch until the rain is pounding and blowing sideways into the porch. Inside we run from window to window, front to back to watch the lightening and count until we hear the claps of thunder. We are like two little kids, giggling from excitement! The yard has large pools of water. We marvel at the sheer volume of it! Then, cccrrrraaaaccCKKKK!!! We jump at one another and run away from the windows! There is no counting between the lightening and the booming voice of thunder! Oh my gosh! It's so exciting and so scary and so fun! As the rain lightens to a mist, a rainbow to the east. No, it's a double! Awesome. May as well finish our wine on the porch!

Candy Canes

I say, smart guy!

The candy cane was originally a straight, hard, and all-white candy stick invented by French priests in the early 1400s. The cane shape is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight candy sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services to keep them quiet. Another theory is that, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution. Candy with red stripes first appeared in the early 1900s. Postcards before 1900s show only white colored candy canes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

I love the warm, happy feeling of Christmas morning, with far away family gathered in my kitchen.
The last few years I have served this on Christmas morning to my family. I like that you can make the preserves a couple of days ahead and actually prepare the french toast the night before.

9 Eggs
2 1/4 c milk
1/3 c maple syrup
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
12 thick slices french bread
1/4 c butter, melted
warm maple syrup
warm berry preserves

Whisk eggs in med bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in milk. Add 1/3 cup maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk to blend. Divide custard between two 13 X 9 glass baking dishes. Arrange bread in single layer in dishes. Let soak 10 minutes. Turn over, cover, and refrigerate over night. Cook about 4 minutes on each side in the morning.


1 1lb bag frozen unsweetened strawberries
1 1lb bag frozen unsweetened nixed berries
2/3 cup red currant jelly
1/3 cup sugar

Mix all frozen berries, jelly and sugar in large nonstick skillet. Let stand until berries thaw and mixture is juicy, stirring occasionally and breaking strawberries into smaller pieces with spoon, about 2 hours. Boil until mixture thickens but is still chunky, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over med heat, stirring frequently.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Very Fun

Check this out. It's creative and fun to do AND you can send it to friends!
Mine was pretty funny looking but my friends know I have the very best of intentions! Right? Right???
Look at these faces! Is there a picture anywhere that shows two better doggies than this one?

I took this last year and for the life of me, I can't remember what I bribed them with. A mouse? A chuck roast? The neighbor's cat??? At least Wilson wasn't drooling in this one. He tends to do that when there's food around.

We took them to the dog park earlier today. It's always a little bit of a gamble, trying to decide who's naughty and who's nice among all of the dogs. Shasta, little black girl, is an alpha. Hands down, no question. She would be the lead dog in the Iditerod. Never seen a dog faster than her. Some dogs like to challenge her because she puts out an air of bein' the boss in that elusive way that dogs have, although she is a very sweet girl. One time while visiting my mother we took my dogs to the dog park near her home. It was full of senior citizens and their small, well-behaved dogs. Within moments Shasta had the lot of them running amuck in a pack. It was wild. All of the owners' mouths were hanging open!

One complaint that I have of the dog park is that most people that take their dogs there stand around in a little circle, not paying much attention to where their dogs are or what they're doing. I always pick up the piles that my dogs leave and some they were not responsible for. The point is that we watch them.

Today Shasta was attacked by another dog at the park and while I was yelling for the owner to come get his dog, these people just stood there watching. Hubby managed to get in there and separate them, but only then did the owner come over. I leashed her and tried to get her out of there but the other dogs kept trying to get at her. I finally had to posture at one of the dogs before its owner came to get his dog. She's fine, no damage done. Poor Wilson was scared to death.

That was her first fight in 10 years. Scared me. She shook it off but was on edge as we left. I tend to be overprotective of everyone that I love. I hope I will allow her to go back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Three years ago we bought a little Meyer lemon tree. When we lived in California we had one in the backyard that produced lemons all year long. Since I wasn't sure where I wanted to plant it, we put it in a big pot.

We live in the desert but at 4600 ft. Winter's are fairly cold here. The first winter our little lemon tree had a tough time, dropped leaves, and basically was done for. Or so we thought.

Come spring it started popping a few fragrant blossoms and we babied it back to health. It had a few teeny lemons that we eagerly watched over a few months that eventually just fell off.

The next winter I brought the pot into my kitchen next to the window. The leaves were bright green again and when spring came around my kitchen was filled with the most wonderful scent! There may be nothing that smells better than that. It was doing so well in the house that I was afraid to put it back outside but it was starting to get fairly big and took up too much room.

Today it is loaded with lemons and we actually got to enjoy our first one last week. All of the babying was worth it! So juicy and almost sweet.
I've been covering it at night when the temperature drops to freezing. The nursery people suggested running low wattage Christmas lights through the branches under the cover in a hard freeze.
As lemons are 80 cents EACH here, I think I'll get those lights!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Shade

Our back deck faces east. That means that we have beautiful sunrises.

In winter the sun comes up much farther south and as the season's change it moves to the north.

During the spring and summer we like to take our coffee out there in the morning and read the paper, a book, or just watch and listen to the birds all over the yard. Several years ago we decided to get one of those roll up shades so that it wouldn't be quite so bright. It's hard to read through eyes squinted to slits!

So we hung the shade and that first summer spent most mornings out there.

The next spring of our shade we noticed alot of activity towards the end of the shade. Oh, and by the way, the last time we rolled it up, we rolled it up geehawky, crooked. So one end has shade sticking out and the other end has a wonderful space that is just perfect for a little bird's nest.

Yes, we have not been able to use that shade for the last THREE years!!!

It has been a fantastic nest for our House Finches. In case you don't know, hardy and adaptable, house finches were kept as cage birds before it became illegal in the 1940's. Rather than face arrest, pet store operators in the East released their house finches and the birds, native to western North America, have taken the continent by storm. With their rich, cheery warble and insistent tweeting, house finches serve as a magnet to other, shyer feeder birds. A few house finches at a feeder can attract many other species.

House finches may nest almost anywhere, and are famous for choosing hanging baskets as nest sites.

This fall one of our resident Cactus Wrens pulled the nest out of the shade. I thought it was sad but eagerly looked ahead to the times we would once again be able to use the darned shade!

Okay, who knew they would use it during the winter too!
We have been getting down to freezing at night now and have a big blow tonight (30 + mph). I feel good knowing that this particular little bird has a safe place to close her eyes.

Friday, December 12, 2008


We received an email today from a friend in California. He is younger than us, full of energy, and is a bicycle enthusiast. By enthusiast, I mean someone that will ride his very expensive bike for many more miles than any of us could imagine. He called it the "Keepin' it Real Tour" and would ride for a hundred miles in a couple of days. Crazy, man!

During his wild rides, we would take care of his beautiful dogs, Murray & Madison. They were Australian Shepherds, one red and one tri-colored. Murray, the red, passed a few years ago. I know that our friend lost a piece of his very being when Murray died. He allowed Madison to go to Murray and in her own way understand that Murray was gone. I absolutely respect him for that. He buried him on the shore that Murray so loved to run.

As the last few years have skittered by, we have lost the connection that we had with our friend, although we have always cherished the friendship and respect that we have felt for him.

Today, we received this from our friend:

R.I.P. December 10. 2008.
13 years 7 months.
Madison, Donner LakeJune 5, 2008
13 years 1 month
Thanks to you and Lisa for the massive love back in the day........

My heart breaks for you, Aaron, because I know how you felt about these magnificent animals and I remember the respect and the absolute devotion & love that they had for you. It was an honor to know these wonderful dogs!

God bless our four legged friends!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Tips


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rumballs.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? LaborDay?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Have a great Holiday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Balloon Fun

I'm thinkin' these little dogs are way too much for me! But they are very cute!

This video reminds me of this other balloon fun! I'm totally addicted to it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Every Man Wants in Bed

Yes, I know my hubby would go for this! In fact, he's the one that sent this to me. I had asked him to help me out and give me some hints for what he would like for Christmas. He is just the hardest person to buy for! Usually, if he sees something he wants he just goes and gets it and says afterward, "I've been wanting one of these." I have to remind him that it would be nice if he let someone else get it for him. He would feel good and they would feel good. I'll keep looking...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Early Kodachrome Images

If you're a photography buff, please check this out.

It's pre-WWII pictures that trace history all over America.

We have all had our worries, and trials, and fits of hope in spite of it all. But nothing like what our parents and grandparents experienced.

The world has come so far, good or bad, mostly good.
But we're so busy now, in such a hurry.
Christmas time especially is a manic race to buy so much, have so much, and get so much.
I took my mother to the mall last week for a little shopping. She was outraged at the prices of things and at the sheer volume of junk for sale.
Made me think of what Christmas must have been like in her youth. Not much under the tree I think. Simple things, but things that still made them happy.
This year, less junk. More love.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I've been tagged by Heather! I'm always up for a game as well and what a great way to learn a bit about other people in the bloggy world!

Although...when I read the "rules" I realized (and worried) that I'm not real savvy on links. But as with all things that I don't know, I had to go figure it out in the help pages!

I love learning new things, not that it's always a happy venture (this one was). When I do finally catch a clue I feel like I've accomplished something.

So let's see, seven random or weird facts about me....

  • I was a blackjack dealer for 7 years in my early 20's.

  • I have been in several local television commercials.

  • I do voicework for radio and television commercials.

  • I started blogging as a self-help tool. :)

  • I have three wonderful children.

  • I am married to an awesome man that was a hit-maker on radio in the 70's.

  • I am an optimist. My glass IS half full!
So here are the rules for the next taggees:

  1. Link the person who tagged you.

  2. Post the rules on your blog.

  3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself.

  4. Tag seven other people and include links to their tags - meryl, janice, jennifer, Meili Lo, Kimberly, Jen, and Simply Heather.

  5. Let each of the other people know by commenting on their blogs

I haven't been blogging for all that long, so if I happen to tag someone who has been tagged before or too recently...'scuse please!

Thank you Heather for giving me an opportunity to learn!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Recipe Exchange

1. Janice
2. Lisa

You've been invited to be a part of a recipe exchange. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is listed in the number 1 position above (even if you don't know them). It should preferably be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is one you know in your head and can type out and send right now.

Then, copy this letter into a new e-mail, move my name to the #1 position and put your name in the #2 position. Only my name and your name should show when you send your e-mail. Send to 20 friends.

If you cannot do this within 5 days, let me know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It's fun to see where they come from. Seldom does anyone drop out because we can all use new recipes. The turnaround is fast because there are only 2 names on the list.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Circle of Life

I am so fortunate to work at home. My office has a window right next to my computer that looks out to the mountain in the backround and directly outside looks to where I feed the birds and bunnies.

As I was pondering what I was going to write for Pictures, Poetry, & Prose this morning, a large Cooper's Hawk landed beneath the red tip bushes.

That area is always teaming with all sorts of birds. I feed them because watching them makes me happy. Must come from all those Disney movies back in the day, right? Remember all those happy, chirpy birds?
The little birds, ever watchful, saw him coming and filled the red tip bushes. I watched the hawk walk around looking up into the bushes, seeing the birds and trying to figure out how to nab one. He was also aware of me looking out the window. I realized I was holding my breath, being as still as those birds in the bushes. Was all I could do to keep from waving my hands or making enough noise to scare the hawk off.
He turned to look at me just before taking off into the air to circle and tip the top of the bush just enough to shake several birds out of it. They were just fast enough this morning to not become his breakfast.
What I've learned since moving to the desert is that this can be a tough place for wildlife to survive. Maybe because there are wide open spaces here and opportunities to see the cycle and circle of life, I have come to respect that I don't decide who gets to eat and who doesn't. But I was quite happy when the hawk flew off to find breakfast somewhere else.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What can I say? What can you say?

Tequila Christmas Cake
1 stick butter
1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups of dried fruit
Sample the tequila to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the tequila again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup... just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Check the tequila. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the tequila and wipe counter with the cat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gift

This is an email that is going around. I just love it. I love being older and the freedom that comes with that.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!) , but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a los t love .. . I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think.. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I
am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stocking Stuffer Idea

Here's an idea for a stocking stuffer for any film junkie.
So interesting how many films, if left to Hollywood moguls would never have been made. It shows George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola as young men starting out and the passion and guts it took to bring them to where they are today.
A fascinating documentary!
Fog City Mavericks: The Filmakers of San Francisco
DVD ~ Peter Coyote
In Stock
List Price: $19.98
Price: $7.99
You Save: $11.99 (60%)
45 used & new from $6.13

Product Description: Features interviews, commentaries and unforgettable moments from some of the most visionary movies ever created such as American Graffiti, the Star Wars film series, the Indiana Jones film series, The Godfather trilogy, Toy Story, Lost in Translation and many more! Includes all-new interviews with those who have worked with Bay Area mavericks: Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas, Anthony Minghella, Milos Forman and Frank Darabont.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I have many unfinished projects all tucked away around my house. I think I started this quilt's see...we've been here for 4, no about 5 years, so that would mean, oh brother! I started this 7 years ago. I got it out 3 years ago and finishsed sewing the squares together but then ran out of velvet and that was the end of that. Okay, so I'll have to drive to Tucson for more velvet, but that means a side trip to Trader Joes, and that's always a good thing! I love the colors of the tapestry fabric against the soft black velvet. I'm trying to decide what kind of batting to use inside the quilt. I like the idea of a fluffy, downey sort of feel but then I think it might be hard to handle. Does that make sense? It would be easier to quilt though if I used a thinner batting. One way or another, fat or thin, I will finish this.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Worst & The Best

Wal-Mart employee dies Nov. 28: A worker at a Wal-Mart on Long Island died after being trampled by a crowd. MSNBC's Contessa Brewer reports.

NEW YORK - A Wal-Mart worker has died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers shortly after the Long Island store opened Friday, police said. Unconfirmed reports said a pregnant woman also miscarried as the crowd rushed in.
Nassau County police said the 34-year-old Wal-Mart worker was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m. ET, an hour after the store opened.
A police statement said a throng of shoppers "physically broke down the doors, knocking him to the ground." The exact cause of death "will be determined by the medical examiner's office," the police stated.

So, the worst is obvious. I'm shocked. Who would keep going after seeing someone getting trampled? In all fairness, maybe they were getting shoved from behind and couldn't stop. But don't you do something?
The best is also obvious. The man that put his own life in jeopardy to try to get his coworker out of there. God bless him.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

You know, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our worries and busy-ness that we, at least I do, forget to stop and be thankful and grateful for every single day.

Ron's grandaughter drove in to town last night from Phoenix where she is working and going to school. As I was sitting there listening to her excitedly tell us all about what she's been learning and the fruition of that education in the form of dreams for her future, I was amazed at how much she's matured, but it also made me think of how so many of us get so bogged down that we lose the vision and excitement of our future.

Thank you, Jess, for reminding me what that feels like.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Total Foodies!

Mmmmm, homemade sundried tomato foccaccia! Can't you just smell it? We are total foodies! He loves to cook and I love to eat! I am probably the luckiest gal I know! He not only does 99% of the cooking but is obsessed with it. Would make me nuts to worry about the size of chopped onions but evidently it's important. He'll wake up in the middle of the night thinking of things to cook and ways to cook them. I'll gladly do his dishes!
We're trying to come up with a great side dish recipe for Thanksgiving. Found a recipe for Coleslaw with Pecans and Spicy Chile Dressing that we'll definitely try. It has napa cabbage, apples, carrots, and pecans. Yummy! I might actually make that. Hey, it could happen!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Love This!

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, 'My son, the battle is between 'two wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

''The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, 'Which wolf wins?

'The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.

Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

1 lb butternut squash
2 Tbs butter
1 large yam
2 med onions, sliced
2 cup vegetable broth
3 large bartlett pears
1 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 stick cinnamon
1/4 cup half & half
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Peel, seed, and dice the squash. Peel and dice the yam. Put them both in a pot with the vegetable broth, water, cinnamon stick, and salt, and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
Melt butter and gently cook the onions in it, stirring occasionally, until it begins to caramelize. Peel, core, and thinly slice the pears, and add them to the onions. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the pear mixture to the soup and puree everything in a blender in batches. Add the cream and some pepper, and a bit more salt only if needed. Heat the soup again just to a simmer, but do not boil. Serve plain or garnished with chopped chives or sprigs of cilantro.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November Days

Today was one of those perfect November days. Sunny with those wispy clouds and just an edge of warmth to the breeze. Perfect. The kind of day that finds me out in the yard, walking around noticing the fall changes, plucking a few weeds, and reminding myself that life is good.
I always say that I'm a spring and summer kind of gal, but once fall is here I am always happy to be in it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Caught up

After a couple of weeks we're finally caught up on work and stuff around the house. Nice to see my little bunny friends in the mornings. Shasta still has laryngitis. I'll give her until the end of the week then it's back to the doc for her. She's had antibiotics and prednisone. Worrisome.
I've been feeling restless for a while now, like I need to be doing something, creating something, but just couldn't even think of pulling the sewing machine out of the closet because my office was such a mess. Couldn't add one more piece of anything to the rubble of getting back from vacation. Plus I've pulled both dog beds into the room since it's cold in the morning and they love to lounge around in here when I'm working.
So I cleaned the room, one piece at a time and then started going through all of the fabric in the closet. Of course I went to the fabric store and bought something that made me feel good, and following inspiration from Janice's notebook covers, went on to figure out how she did it. It's all complicated for me because I don't really know what I'm doing; mickey moused it together would be an accurate term. I had a binder that I've had for, let's see, um, yep, 35 years that I've been using for keeping track of monthly client buys that is beat up and quite ragged looking. But now,
voila. It has a pen holder, a snap closure, and to make it "me" I added a stuffed button with a ruffle around it. I like walking in to my office and seeing it laying on the table. Makes me feel good. I do still need to figure out what to do with the fabric that I have. Maybe a tapestry binder cover for winter? Yes, and I still have the French Roses quilt pattern and Soft Roses quilt top kit that I need to get to. Several years ago my Mom gave me a Santa Fe Jacket pattern for Christmas. I found some really cute material that I cut up into at least a bizillion little triangles that need to be quilted together to make the material that you cut the pattern out of. It's kind of like buying someone a 2500 piece jigsaw puzzle and saying "I know how much you love doing this sort of thing." It is really cute and I pull it out and work on it every once in a while until I can't stand doing it anymore. Hope she gets to see it completed. She'd like that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ahhhh, the Beach

Yes, we did finally make it to the beach. I have missed that smell and feel soo much! We were so fortunate to get into Seacliff Beach through someones cancellation, originally for three days and then for an additional two days! Shasta was a beach girl while we lived there, but Wilson never knew there was a body of water any bigger than the pool; and that's only good for dropping your tennis ball into and trying to get it back out! Such a puzzle. We really thought he'd be freaked out, but he did really well. Once Shasta got down by the water she seemed to remember the good old days and you could just see the light come back in her eyes. Again we were so lucky to have warm weather while we were camped there. Almost every morning when we got up there would be a big pile of rocks every 50 feet or so that had washed up. Then by afternoon they'd all be gone again.
We were still in SC for Halloween and got to see the kids dressed up. Devon and his Dad were Ghost Busters and Delayna was a dead cheerleader. Oh, we had such a good time visiting and just being back on the coast. We did end up in a traffic JAM on 41st avenue and were reminded of why we left. Crazy! Trader Joe's was a madhouse. I had forgotten what that parking lot was like on a Saturday afternoon. Sheesh. Here's a picture of Hwy 9 going into Santa Cruz. So, so beautiful. I just needed to breathe it all in to take back with me. I remember driving to work this way sometimes early in the morning when a light fog runs through the trees and the sun streams down on it all. I also remember when a huge part of the road had fallen down the side of the cliff, but still.
Was sad to leave the ocean and our families but the doggies seemed happy to have us all to themselves on the road again. We stayed a night in Rancho Oso, a Thousand Trails campground, in Santa Barbara. Another incident where we just stopped in the road to contemplate going forward or trying to turn around to go back. A very skinny little road leads up and over a mountain to get down into the campground with many switchbacks and a width of "one" motorhome. We stopped another camper going in to ask if indeed this was Thousand Trails and he assured us that it was. God bless him, he even sent word back with someone leaving that he thought we could make it and it wasn't much further. Once down there it was gorgeous! Stables and horseback riding, covered wagons, and gobs of cabins. Talking with the woman in the little store there, she told us that after the fire near there last year they had bear coming to look for food. There's mountain lion, deer, racoons, and ground squirrels that drive Shasta insane! We would definitely go back there and spend a couple of weeks. Not sure it's worth that road for one night but, yeah, we'll go back. The next night we spent in Pio Pico, another Thousand Trails park. It's tucked away southeast of San Diego. Since it's so close to the border there are Border Patrol that seem to actually be stationed there. I like that. Shannon drove over from SD to spend the afternoon with us. She just got back from Spain a couple of days before. She went with her friends and brought home incredible pictures. That's my girl on the left. I know she was really fried what with jet lag and having been away from home for 12 days, so I really appreciate the fact that she drove out there to spend time with us.
The last leg going home, without the baby gate I might add, was very long. Shasta found her driving spot next to her Dad for the majority of the day which gave Willy the whole couch to himself.
We had a great time and can't wait to get out there and do it again. We're already planning the next trip; east we think...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Scotts Valley

I forgot to mention that every morning at the Thousand Trails in Morgan Hill we were visited by a gaggle of wild turkeys (probably 25 or so). Fun to listen to them gobble and watch them spread their tails. They look absolutely prehistoric when they run, like something out of the movie Jurassic Park. Pretty gutsy of them to be strutting around so close to "you know when." Pass the cranberry sauce, please.
Making a right turn off of Scotts Valley Dr. on to Disc Dr. was a heart stopper. We went over a little bitty bridge and saw ahead of us that there was a turn with cars on the side. We stopped in the middle of the road feeling like we had just made a horrible mistake. Can’t go on, can’t back up. The expletives spewing out of Ron’s mouth were as loud and varied as you can imagine. He got out of the rv and walked around the curve and realized that there was much more room than it looked from the bridge. After talking to the woman in the office of Santa Cruz Ranch RV Park, we found out there was a MUCH easier way to get into the park. Duh. Inside the office was a very sweet-faced, white greyhound named Petals. I thought she really liked me. I did. All her focus was on me. Looking at me with those great big brown eyes. She kept looking to the right and then back at me. “What do you want sweet girl?” The lady in the office said to me, “Don’t flatter yourself, she wants the doggie biscuits on the desk there.” But she was still cute.
Even though the park is situated alongside the freeway on one side and the busy road on the other it was pretty quiet and lots of trees, a pool, and laundry. Our first day we ran down to Santa Cruz for a quesadilla and burrito at our very favorite place, Tacos Moreno. OMG! Ssoooo good! Why can't we replicate these at home? Somehow they're just not the same. We met our neighbors in the park who were staying in SV through December from back east. From them we learned about a great book called "The Next Exit." It's a big fat book that lists the interstate highways all over the U.S. and what you can find at each exit on those highways. Food, gas, diesel marked in red, Walmarts (that you are allowed to stay in their parking lot overnight if you need to), and retail stores. A handy little book that Ron bought the very next day.
Janice and I had lunch one day and went directly into the fabric shop next door. She is the most fun person to go shopping with! Always a quick quip about one thing or another. I am just blown away at the sheer volume of trims and embellishments in the fabric stores. Was great to soak it in.
Scott celebrated his 21st birthday while we were there. Can't believe my youngest is 21!!! We went to El Palomar for lunch with Rhonda, Pat, and the kids and watched Scott drink a dirty martini! He went out later with friends who were his designated drivers and woke up the next morning, as many of us did on the day after our 21st birthdays, not feeling so great. I believe he learned not to mix drinks that night. Scotts Valley hasn't changed much and it was a comfort to be there, to remember good friends I have made there, and to spend time with my boys.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Days 3 - 6 Morgan Hill

I LOVE Thousand Trails in Morgan hill. When we drove past the gate at the entrance I just choked with emotion. So absolutely gorgeous. The whole place is jammed with cottonwoods, oaks, and gobs of varieties I can't name. All of them are changing colors right now and the sun filtering through the leaves was just breathtaking. Shasta must have some memory of it because she started squeaking in the back and Wilson started looking around like he was saying, what? We had time to set up and clean up (dog hair) before anyone else got there and we were able to find a spot that had an empty space right next to us in a pull through so Rhonda and her family could be facing us next door! Scott followed them in and spent a couple of days before he had to get back to school & work. Robyn and her boys arrived late that afternoon. What a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by family. I wish that Shannon, Tim and Grammie could have been there too. That would have made it PERFECT. We played horseshoes, miniature golf, shuffleboard, ping pong and just hanging around catching up with each other. So happy we had those three days without someone having to get to work or some other obligation. Happy trails. Off to Scotts Valley!

Flora & Fauna

Books I have known & loved

  • Life of Pi
  • A Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Kite Runner
  • The Way the Crow Flies
  • Fall on Your Knees
  • Poisonwood Bible
  • East of Eden
  • Shantaram
  • I Know This Much is True

Illegal Immigration