Saturday, December 31, 2011

Twenty-Eleven



A year of roses blooming wildly, sweet kisses, wagging dog tales, an empty nest 2.0, painted furniture, blackboard paint, to-do lists, green leaves and blue skies, walks with friends, a camping trip, birthday parties, family reunions, fresh eggs, compost, sun-dried towels, smoothies, new sheets, health worries, visits, high school, inspiration, tweets, Facebook, airport runs, smiles, crazy weather, fireworks, fires, fresh starts and sad endings, quilt fabrics, new art, daydreams, nightmares, holding hands, disappointments, welcome surprises, fun, laughter. 

The best of 2011? A tie between reconnecting with my cousins and knowing my BIL was going to recover. 


The worst?  Let's just say there are challenges ahead and we have our fingers crossed.  But then, all of us are facing problems either large or small, all of the time.  Some things I did right.  Some times I dropped the ball.  Next year I'll do better.  I'm making plans already; I love a fresh slate!

Clink your glass to the year that's passing,

Cheers!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Coming Attractions

These previews have been approved by the LSOGP:  
Appropriate for all Audiences
Coming soon to a place near you (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere).

"Yes, I'm talking about Spring", the annoyingly perky announcer chants with a lilt. Because, really, how can you say "Spring" in the cold darkness of winter without a lilt? Not possible.

On the Fifth and Sixth Days of Christmas, I rolled out the garden hose, attached the end to the bibb and watered three thirsty yews, two droopy rhodies, countless leafless rosebushes, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I checked the lettuce seedlings under the row cloth and found them flourishing despite a month producing stats of 0.0001 inches of precipitation and enough nights in the 'teens to create six inches of ice on the pond. 

I might have even scattered a few more packets of lettuce into the raised bed with the hope that someday we will have snow (that white stuff that falls from the clouds in winter, reportedly).  Gardeners, even Nevada gardeners, are such optimists.  Who else would dare to dream of more baby lettuce plants growing under their own little fluffy snow blanket which protects them from subzero temps while simultaneously watering them and providing lots of filtered light. 

Hey, it's the tail end of December and the thermometer reads sixty-six. It feels like mid-March here--at least for these two lovely precious days.  I'm grabbing these tantalizing days of faux-Spring gardening and storing them up against the feet of snow that will undoubtedly fall on every three-day weekend for the next two months.  

And yes, I did remember to disconnect the hoses--thanks for asking.

Sending wishes that you too are granted a respite to enjoy your heart's desire,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas

We braved the mall...and survived. 

We didn't find a new bedspread. Comforter sets are common but bedspreads, as you may not know, are far and few between. Worse yet, I have a definite preference for simple white cotton spreads and those are almost extinct.  I like our current one so much that I've cut off the frayed edge, hemmed it, rotated it ninety degrees, disguised the remaining hole as best I could and reattached the edging. 

Yeah, I really like the one we have! I have faith the universe will deliver the perfect item before our old bedspread is nothing but holes and threads. She said with her fingers crossed.

However...we did find fluffy towels in a lovely hydrangea blue (above the lavender in this photo)
 to replace the tan (atop the brown) we received.  Is there anything more luxurious than a thirsty thick towel?  Maybe one snatched from atop a warming rack! But that would actually qualify as decadent, wouldn't it?


Our last stop was the jewelry store.  Don't leap to any grandiose ideas just yet though.  My most cherished piece needed to be repaired and re-sized. I'm hopeful that by the Fifth Day of Christmas I'll be singing with a gold ring on my finger once again.


I'm thankful that Christmas leftovers provided a quick and delicious dinner when we returned to our cozy nest. I'm using those extra minutes to ponder what I want to focus on for 2012.  Tis good to reflect and reassess--we're all a work in progress!


Thoughfully,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yippee, It's Solstice Time Again!

The winter solstice is like my own seasonal version of hump-day.  I'm so darn glad that it's finally the shortest day/longest night of the year. As in, let's just get it over with and move on. Now I can look forward to just a tidbit more light each morning as I head out to pick up my walking partner(s) and hit the hills. Even if the morning are butt-chilling, quad-freezing cold (note to Santa: if they make heated long johns they're at the top of my list. Just don't tell Stacy and Clinton), we'll have some gorgeous sunrises to admire!
The cottage is decked with color inside and out to combat the bleakness of long dark nights and a slumbering garden bereft of flowers.  My scrappy Christmas quilt is my favorite of all the wall-hangings I've made.  I can never decide which of the thirty-six squares is my favorite...but this animals star has to be tops for sheer silly cuteness.
 
No silver trees or monochrome decorations around here. Just an explosion of red-and-green, colored lights, polka dots and holiday cheer! 
No one will ever accuse me of being subtle or a trend-follower during the holidays.  It's kinda like "Mrs. Santa meets Buddy The Elf" as I commit whole-heartedly to kitsch, tradition, and COLOR.  It's a disease I get every December and I hope I never find the cure!

I could gaze at the reflections in my "soapbubble" ornament for hours on end.  Sigh.

Can you ever have too many Santas, snowmen, angels, snowflakes and reindeer?  Honesty compels me to answer, "Yes" as I'm donating the ones that didn't make the cut to our SPCA Thrift Store. The ones that remain may be overkill to you, but they're the perfect number for me. And that's what makes decorating and blogging fun...I can admire the burlap stockings and simple mantles at your house and turn around to enjoy my own version of the North Pole!

One thing you definitely can't ever have enough of: nativity lambs. Or nativity sets.

I'm going to feel like a kid as school lets out and I'm free to use the precious daylight hours to sew another doggy stocking, bake our favorite cookies, stir up some Five Minute Fudge, build a roaring fire, take Kharma for some extra-long hikes (because waiting is just so darn hard),
and generally revel in the holiday spirit.  Here's hoping you enjoy your Twelve Days of Christmas as much as we will!

Merrily,

Thanks for stopping by--especially all the late-comers like me from Funky Junk!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Guideposts - Week78

Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.
~Vaclav Havel
who put his freedom on the line,
stood up for liberty,
and inspired change.
 
RIP

Friday, December 16, 2011

December Went Where?

  • Because there's no way it could possibly be the sixteenth already. Please tell me I'm mistaken!
  • I might not have a tree yet, but at least I found the time to put up last year's elf header on this year's blog design even if it doesn't quite fit.
  • Dear Santa, please could I have an early present:  a battery charger for my ambition? or a giant pitcher of margaritas?
  • Do good intentions count as presents?
  • Rather than thinking of it as only eight more shopping days to Christmas, I prefer to think of the eleven thousand five hundred and twenty minutes that I still have to leisurely look for the perfect presents.  Certainly that provides more than enough time to get them wrapped creatively and sent to distant states too!

Not panicking just yet...although I probably should,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks


I have so much to be thankful for. Every night this month I've gone to sleep counting my blessings. It's more effective than counting sheep plus it puts a smile on my face!

I'm grateful for all the Big Things in life, of course, but the other items are like chocolate truffles--they make be small, but they make me feel rich. 

Like your comments; whether you're an old friend or a new visitor, they warm my heart.  Your visits come from sea to shining sea, from our northern neighbor, from eastern Europe, Oceania and beyond.  It's always a delightful surprise.

I'm wishing each and every one of you so many things to be thankful for that you fall asleep before you've reached the end of your list!  And that each of us finds even more things to be grateful for in the coming year.

Blessings,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls

Putting "Fluffy" and "Whole Wheat" in the same title seemed like false advertising when I grabbed this recipe out of Winco's bulk aisle.

I guess Hope Springs Eternal because I was intrigued enough to try it anyway, and darned if it didn't actually turn out to be a wonderful fluffy-in-spite-of-being-whole-wheat recipe!

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls
2 T. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. honey
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1-1/2 t. salt
4 c. whole wheat flour

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and honey (or put it in the microwave and nuke it until the butter melts).  
  3. Add eggs and beat well.  
  4. Add yeast mixture.  
  5. Mix in salt and flour to form a soft dough.  Let rise until double--please notice that it does NOT say to knead, just rise!  
  6. Once it's doubled then knead. 
  7. Let rest for 3 minutes before shaping rolls on a greased pan or cookie sheet. 
  8. Let rise till doubled and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Makes from 12 to 16 rolls, depending on how big or small you make them.

I make bread so frequently that I've developed a shorthand in my recipes that might be less obvious to anyone who's not a baker.  It drives my kids, who do bake, nuts.  I'll spare you that...
  • c=cup.  t=teaspoon. T=tablespoon.
  • Warm water means water that's somewhere between hot and warm--if you can't keep a finger comfortably in it, then it's a bit too hot.  Sometimes I'll put the too-hot water in the bowl and wait a minute while the bowl cools it off.  Too cool though and the yeast will start to shiver.
  • I always proof my yeast before putting it in a recipe. My yeast is almost always fresh since I use it so often but I still proof it just in case.  That means adding yeast to warm water (with a smidge of sugar) and letting it sit there till it starts to get all foamy and bubbly--"proof" that it's active.  
  • I'm fortunate enough to have a fabulous canvas square that I knead my bread on (and roll out my pie crusts), but you can knead on any smooth surface too--table top, counter top, cutting board--just make sure you have enough flour on it so that your dough doesn't stick while you're kneading it.  Your surface should be low enough that you can press down easily with the palm of your hand otherwise you'll get pretty tired.  Kneading is one of my favorite things in the whole world (besides ironing).  Crazy, I know.  I just love the feeling when the dough suddenly tightens up and I know it's ready.
  • Grease your pan with butter, oil, shortening, whatever.  Just don't miss any spots or getting your bread out will be impossible.
  • My rolls doubled enough that they began touching each other.  Unlike siblings in the back seat, they didn't complain.
The rolls didn't last long enough for me to take a photo, alas.  You'll understand when you make them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Elevenses


Eleven-eleven-eleven makes me think of the hobbits worrying if Strider knows about tiffin, elevenses, supper and dinner. Which is appropriate since LOTR always reminds me of World War II... so in honor of Veterans Day here are excerpts written by my dad (age 20) to his mother at the tail end of WWII:


Amarillo Army Air Field
Amarillo, Texas
24 Oct 45

Dearest Mom,

Our formation this morning was orientation on conversion of our insurance, G.I. Bill of Rights, getting your job back, and things like that...

Only thing I'm worried about are the buses. With the strikes and all I might not get connections and have to hitch hike. Bob did it from Hueneme so guess I could do it from L.A. Will just have to wait and see how it works out...

It won't be long now until I walk in the front door, don't expect too much because I'll probably be a wreck, mentally and physically.

Well, goodnite now, dear,
I'll be seeing you
Lovingly,
Buddy



How many sons have written the same thoughts to their mothers over the years? How many mothers cherished each letter as it came to them and worried about the contents?


Freedom, whether in Middle Earth or in America, always comes with a very human price tag that makes it all the more to be valued.


Thankfully,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

I ran across this oldie at Goodwill during my one-girl weekend extravaganza. The price was so low that I thought it might have been a mistake and held my breath until the checker rang me up without questioning the sticker.


It's about twelve by twenty-four and weighs a TON.  If there was any question about whether to buy it or not, the weight would have been the deciding factor.  Kind of like finding a dresser with dovetail joints and dust covers.  You just know the quality is there and snap it right up.

It's missing some detail on the left side but I'm going to follow this hint from A Polka-Dot Cottage (whoops, I mean The Polka Dot Closet) and try to replace it.

It's worth a try, and even if it doesn't work, there's obviously plenty of other detail still intact.
The odd coppery color is unusual and not long for this world.  Since it'll be hung in my newly reacquired guest room a coat of my usual Sleepy Eyes white with a bit of glazing to bring out the details should make it a shabby chic treasure worthy of guests.

Have you ever tried photographing a mirror? The background not only has to be acceptable but also provide decent support for the heavy glass and the reflection needs to be good too.  Kharma's sweet paw and my still-green lawn are up to the challenge!  

(Happily, I found it was much easier to make the reflected doggie fudgsicle disappear with Picasa than my usual shovel and  pail. Just sayin'.)  

Now to get busy with the makeover (mirror, not lawn.  Well, maybe lawn too.)


Fairly enamoured,
(mirror, mirror...fairly, get it?)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

This One's for The Ladies

The back story for those of you who don't know me IRL--I'm usually at the Pacific International quilt show this weekend hanging out with friends I only see once a year.  (Hi ladies, I miss you!) We arrive from all corners of the West and descend on two wonderful people (Hi, Lin! Hi, Liz!) who host us year after year and make us believe that we're actually welcome.  We're gullible that way.

Instead I'm at home (it happens to all of us at some time or other) having a regular vanilla weekend instead of the usual yearly wild and crazy craft-and-spending marathon with the group nicknamed "The Ladies" once upon a time by twins too young to go with us.

Or it would be vanilla if I hadn't decided to pull up my big girl panties and create a crafty weekend on my own.  It might not be quite as wild (okay, it's not even close but I'll get more sleep),  still I'm doing my best to get my money's worth from my debit card and spend-spend-spend as fast as I can.  


Hey, I have an extra fifteen bucks that I would have spent on admission to PIQF.  Money which would have been well spent to find my favorite merchant vendors conveniently located all under one roof for my spending pleasure.  Number two, I'm not undertaking an eight-hour roundtrip so my gas bill is practically nonexistent and there are plenty of good local places that will be happy to take my money.  It's perfect weather and the yard sales here this weekend are A-Maz-Ing! Lastly, school gets out about two seconds before Christmas so I might as well do a bit of early holiday shopping too.  See?  Spend-spend-spend!


Our tradition is to gather at the end of the day and share our booty.  You'd think that we'd know what everyone bought after being in the same places all day but there are LOTS of us and each of us inevitably produces a surprise or two during show-and-tell. I'm not physically there to participate, but thanks to the Blogosphere I'm sharing my goodies with them (and with you).   

Get ready for Show-and-Tell. The numbers?  They're a good idea that wasn't so good and I'm too lazy to redo the collage.  So just please ignore the man behind the curtain them. 
First up, frames.  They've been popping up in garage sales, thrift stores and dumpsters practically begging me to take them.  Gold ones for paintings (minus the liner soon).
I love the floral duvet in the guest room--it makes a lovely stand in for an actual bit of art.  And can there be too much aqua in one's life?  I think not.

Fancy and gold.  And I know exactly the watercolor that's going in there.
(Think clematis in full bloom.)

Some frames have already been repainted to match the new look of the laundry room.
Some are waiting for a makeover.


And some are every bit as ugly as they look here.
Thank heavens for the transformative powers of paint.

I've never before seen a terra cotta frame--a bit of added shine and my sleepy cherub will have a new home in this curbside surprise.
One person's trash, my free treasure.

Have I mentioned how much I love roadkill?
Free works for me.

I would have grabbed this tool chest just for the hardware!
With this old chocolate advertisement transferred using CitraSolv (if I can find any) on top
  it should be irresistible.  Graphics Fairy, I love you.

Moving on...
I'll be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for Halloween.  Ruby slippers are hard to come by I found, but I this sparkle paint on a pair of Mary Janes from GW should fool anyone.

I tuck a pair in every coat I own--cold hands at recess are not fun.
  Not to alarm anyone but winter is only nine weeks away. (Not that you SoCal and Arizona gals know anything about that!)

I used my 40% off coupon at Michaels.
Christmas is only ten weeks away (feel free to panic).   Glitter is essential to holiday survival. I have plenty of plans for this spray-on glitter.  
(Hey, KC, I found Santa! Yeah, THAT Santa.  Maybe the stocking will make it down to your place this year.)
As long as Christmas was on my mind, I picked up these place card holders for Casa Encantada's rather majestic dining table.
I won't be there to enjoy the Albuquerque festivities, but I know the recipient will love the red color.

These knobs match two I already have. 
2+2=a cute new look for the vintage sewing cabinet at a thrifty price.

Have your imagination add greenish water, a pale rubbery worm and a spooky label from The Graphics Fairy...

and I'll have a creepy lab specimen for the Halloween display.

I used two coupons on the Michaels run and came away with this lovely clutched in my thrifty little hand.
Spend-spend-spend is good.  Save-save-save is even better!

My forty cents a yard red rickrack may be my favorite buy today.
Because it's gonna make my redwork tea towel even cuter.

(Somebody in the Bay Area better be taking photos so I get to see some of your loot.  I'm not naming any names. )

(Jen?)
 

There's still one quilt shop and two fabric stores I haven't visited yet and my debit card is still working. The weekend is young and I'm just getting started!

Wishing I was there,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rosy

It's that time of year, with warm sunny days and cool nights--my roses love this weather. All the colors seems more intense. Any pink rose now seems
in tone. But as the weather cools (there was snow high on the ridge this morning) I know winter can't be far behind and I get
as I bid farewell to my lovelies' last blooms.
The east side of the Sierra may not exactly be subtroppical or we'd be able to grow
but our summer's all the more welcome as we soak up the sun.  Summer is truly the
in Reno's four seasons.

We know there's an
lurking somewhere in our future but for now the
of our Indian summer is welcome.

So fare-thee-well, my flower friends; remember that it's never too early to plan for springtime!
I've enjoyed visiting you all at our weekly



Happily,
.