Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One is Silver, the Other Gold

Last week, my friend Glory had her old friend from England visit here in SE Virginia. Suzie brought her lovely daughter, Alexandra with her. I am always so excited to hear that Suzie is coming. She has lived an exciting life, traveling to ALL parts of the world. Her stories are mesmerizing and always with a wry twist (she is English, afterall). Even with all her worldly advantages, I feel so comfortable being around her. She knows the world of servants, royalty and lets just say it, money. She came to my house for dinner when she visited last year and My Sweetie and I enjoyed every minute. She is a delightful guest. I will never know if she enjoyed the meal or was horrified to eat on the back porch with sleeping dogs near the table. She is just that gracious. Now I have the acquaintance of her daughter. So my friend's old friend is now my new friend. I love sharing, don't you?

Speaking of old friends, I have an old friend coming to visit on Wednesday. We have known each other since second grade, but I have not seen her since her wedding in 1976. Carolyn lived across the street from my family when I was in grade school. She had no siblings, but plenty of friends. Her mother was so loving and kind, always including every girl in the class for an afternoon play date some time during the year. I was always around. My mother worked, and back then you just let yourself in after school. Carolyn's mom often took me places after school with her as if I belonged there. Daycare? Sitters? My sister came home an hour or so later and was supposed to watch me, but it was more the other way around.

Anyway, we moved away after the 6th grade and like any childhood relationship, I cherished what was, but was unable to continue our friendship. I attended Carolyn's wedding, and talked to her a time or two after and just lost touch.

Several months ago, I came across Carolyn's e-mail address while looking for something else on the web. I wrote her a note, joined Facebook and was able to find several other old friends as well. Now I am in the midst of cleaning and cooking in preparation for her visit. I hope to post a few old pictures soon, as well as some current ones. I bet you will be able to tell who is who. Check back Friday for updates.

See that thingy over to the right? It tells where my visitors to the blog come from. I really wish they would leave a message so I could visit back. That's a hint.....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Parallel Universe

I have fallen behind in posting, but will make an effort to catch up in the next few days. Several weeks ago, my friend Isobel hosted a quilting retreat to Capon Springs and Farms. I was lucky enough to be included in the guest list. If you haven't heard of Capon Springs, you are in good company. Most folks don't know about them becaues they have never advertised. Never.
Capon Springs is a mountain resort in the West Virginia panhandle not far from Winchester VA. It is nestled between two mountain ridges and is named for the clear spring the bubbles up on the property. There are drinking fountains that run constantly on the property, but that is not the thing that really makes this resort unusual. There are no televisions or phones in the rooms. Cell phone reception is available only on the golf course. The only TV sets are in the recreation building. There are no locks on the doors. Really.
Whole families come here for a week at a time just to be together. Imagine. Just be together. Board games, card games, long walks, camp fires, reading by the fireplace and eating together. A parallel universe and it is beautiful, warm, welcoming and stress free.
This is where we stayed. That's Isobel in the red sweater.

Here is the dining room where three meals are served each day, family-style.
Since every day is a slow news day at the resort, the management asked if the other guests could come see out work. It took us about five minutes to put on the impromptu quilt show in the little auditorium. What quilter doesn't like to show off her work?

If you ever want to do nothing for a week, this is the place to go.
More pictures.....
It was such a peaceful place, that I just had to share. I didn't know that places like this still existed. Now I know, and so do you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Like Minded People

Way back at the end of September My Sweetie and I attended the Mother Earth News Fair, a sustainable living extravaganza held at the Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania. I had skiied there years ago, but had never seen it without snow. It was a great choice for the fair.
We went up a day early to volunteer for Mother Earth News to help with the set-up and a sneak preview of the events for the weekend. I had the most interesting job of cutting strings and tying knots in the end for volunteer and vendor badges. Hundreds of them. This got me a pass for the two day fair. Well worth the effort.
Later in the day, we went to see Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's best residential designs. It was wonderful. So timelessly modern and filled with fabulous art. I would show you the pictures that we took of the house and each other there, but the guide said that all images of the property belong to the foundation and we would be shot or something if we published them anywhere (even on a blog). So you will just have to believe that we were there. Better yet, you go and see for yourself.
The Mother Earth News Fair was wonderful. There were about a dozen different seminars every hour on everything from raising chickens and garden cover crops to solar heating and organic gardening. I wished there had been three of me so I could see everything that interested me every hour.
I found this chicken tractor that was so well designed and attractive. Too bad it was sooo expensive and too big to bring home in the truck. I guess we will just have to build our own.
We took a break from the crowd and rode the ski lift up to the top of the mountain to get a better view. It was a lovely day. This was just the outdoor exhibitors. There were hundreds more inside. Isn't it amazing what can happen when like-minded people get together?
That night we returned to the campground for dinner and to see the medieval reinactment folks who were also staying on the same property. It was so much fun talking to them. I thought they would all be like Dungeons and Dragons dweebs, but it turns out that they were artists, social workers and other professionals. We even met an astrophysicist. Turns out that they are a really interesting bunch who know how to have fun.
I am so glad we bought a camper. We are going places we would never have gone otherwise.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It seems that there is a lot of waiting going on here. Waiting for the weekend, waiting until things get organized and just waiting.

There is a new therapist moving in our office soon. That means that we need to prepare another office space for him. I hold veto power over decorating in the office. (Have you ever met a therapist who knew anything about decorating?) Anyway, My Sweetie has gone to get the new desk and file cabinet. I thought he was bringing it home........waiting.........waiting. Seems he took it to our office and is in the process of assembling the whole thing while dinner curdles over.

This is how it looks here. Waiting...

Meanwhile, the mess in the sewing room is getting better, but there are so many bags of quilts on the floor that I dare not take a picture of it to show here.

That is Buster on the left and our latest addition, Ollie on the right. I caught the only second that they held still all day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

True Confessions

In my last post, I told of how I have let things slide. Really, I have let them just go to hell in a handbasket. There, I said it. Now I will prove it by showing you my sewing room. I thought I would get the whole mess cleaned up by mid-August. Who was I fooling?

In my own defense, I must let you know that I work nearly all the time. I work a couple of days in my husband's office as a neurotherapist. I also quilt all of the customer quilts for a local quilt shop on the longarm machine that lives in my livingroom. 300 quilts last year. If that's not enough, I started working an occasional day in my friend's bead shop so the other employees can have an extra day off. Yikes! I need a day off! (Bead shop job ends next week)

The real reason that I have created a royal mess is that I'd rather make things or dream up projects than clean up. I read on another blog about having Obsessive Creative Disorder. That's me.

Anyhow, today the cleanup began and I found my camera (!) in time to show you the challenge ahead.

This room is a whopping 7' x 11' and contains enough stuff to make a zillion quilts and about the same number of pieces of jewelry.
Stand by for pictures of progress.....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How did I get here?

I was looking back at what I had written at the first of the year and realized that I have been busier and busier, but I have not become more organized as I hoped to be. The kitchen is still torn up after the tomato canning events and the living/dining room is full of sewing/quilting/knitting and other clutter. I would post a picture, but then you would all know what a real mess I have become.
Instead, I have decided to take a room at a time and clean it up..... then post a picture. Maybe I can actually get the kitchen, living/dining room, sewing room (yikes!) and bedroom straight by the middle of August. Goal for this week is the kitchen.
Oh yeah, check out the logo for the Improv(e) your Butt Challenge. Details over at Tallgrass Prarie Studio. That is another area that needs improvement!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

World's Most Expensive Tomato Sauce

In the last post I showed the wonderful garden my sweetie made for me. I didn't tell you how expensive it was. First, there was the frame. Lumber from Lowe's. $$ Then there was a dumptruck load of topsoil. $$$ Plants. $
Since Buster likes to excavate, there was fencing.$
We have had a bumper crop of tomatoes, so I decided to make tomato sauce and can it. Thrifty, huh? We grew onions and garlic, too.
I bought canning jars.$

We want to be safe so I bought a pressure canner.$$

I spent hours washing jars, peeling tomatoes and chopping ingredients to make two huge pots of sauce.

My favorite part is my compost collection bin. We bought this little jewel $ on a vacation. They had nice little ceramic ones for less, but I figured I would probably drop it and that would be the end, so we sprung for the stainless one. It has a top with a charcoal filter to keep the smell of the garbage out of the kitchen. Now when I peel an onion or eat an orange, I just put the remains in this little bucket until I can go out to the compost bin. No more guilt over throwing out that natural fertilizer.

After chopping and stirring for hours, I finally put the jars in the canner to process.

Then, a mere 6 hours and $$$$$$$ later I have these jars of beautiful sauce. I wonder how much that is per jar?

Yes, indeed, I now have six, count 'em, six jars of sauce. Move over Ragu!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Surprise Garden

I asked my sweetie to dig a garden for me this year since I had not turned over the soil in several years. Instead, he put in two raised beds, 4' x 16'. He even had topsoil delivered. It turned out to be about as much work as digging up the garden, but much better looking.

I put in lots of tomatoes, onions, zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Lots.

We usual don't see our first ripe tomato until July 4th or so, but we have one already.

OK, so it is the size of a ping pong ball and squishy on the back side, but it is RED. There are hundreds more that are larger. I can just se myself elbow deep canning in a few weeks.

I missed a zucchini yesterday when I picked the others.............

This one is about the size of my forearm.

The onions are ready to pull up and dry and the japanese eggplant is producing.

We planted the fig trees about 5 years ago. Can't wait to make jam again this year.
Buster and Rupert (my granddog) helped me yesterday. We had fun in the garden. Buster was exhausted today.

It is hard to get a picture of a moving target.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Buster's First Camping Trip

Soon after Daisy died, we went to the SPCA to get another dog. Our Vet (and I) agree in following the "overlapping dog theory". That is to get a new dog soon after the old one dies, but before the last one goes. We know we had to hurry in getting the next dog because Rhoda already had cancer.

Buster is exactly what his name implies. He is just bursting with life, enthusiasm and the urge to chew anything anyone cares about. Sort of like a cross between a toddler and a shark. He is actually quite affectionate when he is tired!

Now that Buster is getting a little older, we thought we could take him on a camping trip. Here he is in front of our camper.

He is just a little guy. Cute, huh?

Anyway, this was more of an adventure than we expected. Since we only had the weekend to spend, we went to a campground about an hour from home. It has a lovely pool and water park for the kids, piers out on the river, mini-golf, camp store and just about every amenity you could hope for. For the hard core campers out there, yes, I have done "real" camping and had the 42 spider bites to prove it. We now camp with our own hotel suite on wheels and love every minute of it. But I digress.

If you have ever been to this part of the country, you have met the crowd that slips the term "our place on the rivah" into every conversation. Wow! you think, a house on the water! Well that is not exactly what they mean, thought I never knew until this weekend.

This is what we found.

This campground had 600 "weekend" spaces and 400 "seasonal" spaces. The seasonal spaces are campers that are permanently parked with room additions, decks and screen porches. They are about two feet apart and sport all the gift shop decorations they can hold. Each owner has a golf cart. Here is the good part. They spend all of their waking hours on the decks and porches drinking beer and hollering at passers-by. When they tire of that they hop in the golf carts and cruise up and down the paths between the campers drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and hollering at the folks sitting on their porches. Yee-Haw!

We couldn't get the hang of things, so we went for a ride to another campground nearby. They were having a lawn tractor race. I wish I had taken my camera. A bunch of teenage boys tearing up a lovely grass field doing donuts on their lawn tractors. No kidding.

So if you ever run into a good ol' boy or gal and they start in about their "place on the rivah" just smile. Lindy already told you all about it .

We did get some practical information during this. All you need to make a lovely fire pit in your yard is a couple of old car wheels. Honest!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Sweet Little Girl

It has been several days now since we lost Rhoda AKA The Boo-Boo. I still expect to hear her bark as I climb the steps to the front door. I miss her following me from room to room as I work around the house. She never met a person she didn't like nor a dog that she did.
Just before Christmas, the vet found a tumor behind her bladder which was unoperable and malignant. The vet told us to take her home and love her, which we did. She didn't seem to know that she was even sick until about three weeks ago when she lost her appetite. By then, the tumor was about the size of an orange in her little belly. We took her to the emergency vet on Sunday to have her put down. We just couldn't let her suffer any longer. As the vet prepared the injection, she slumped in my arms. I miss you, Boo-Boo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Road to Nowhere

Living in suburbia has become a little more crowded and uncomfortable than I ever expected it to be. I have always lived in a suburban neighborhood, always on a lot of 1/2 acre or less. I never minded living so close to the neighbors until I moved into this house almost 13 years ago. My next door neighbor is a plumber and his wife is a hermit (except for her forays to Wal-Mart). They have a huge assortment of lighthouses in the front flowerbed. The back yard is full to overflowing with pipe, boats, sheds and whatever else Mr. Plumber can't bear to part with. He began to renovate the outside of his house about 5 years ago. The siding is not finished...still. Even after calls to the city codes compliance office, there has been little progress.
On the other side there used to be a nice older woman who kept her home in good repair and the yard tidy. She moved a few years ago and sold the house to a couple with 3 HUGE unruly dogs. They leave the dogs in a pen outside so they can bark all night. The once lovely pool is now a green pit that breeds mosquitoes. The fence is falling down and they accumulate huge heaps of garbage at the side of the house. Most of the other neighbors keep their houses fairly well. This is one of the NICER parts of our city.
So.......I have begun the search for a little piece of property on which my sweetie and I can build a new home. With space for a nice garden, chickens and (his dream, not mine) alpacas. Mostly I want to get away from the neighbors.
Yesterday after searching the local listings, I set off to find Eden. Oops, I forgot the directions. How hard could it be to find this place? After about an hour on the road, mostly backtracking, I gave up. Who knew that those back roads would look so much alike? On Sunday, armed with the GPS, my sweetie and I WILL find this little piece of heaven. The price is reasonable. Cross your fingers that it isn't under water or the Beverly Hillbillies don't live next door!
Maybe I will even have pictures next time!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A finished product

I have been so busy lately that sometimes I feel like there should be two of me, though one of me is probably enough! I have been working more in the neurofeedback office and trying to get more done at home. The crochet lessons are coming along pretty well. I hope to have something to show soon.
After two feeble attempts, I finally settled on the right fabric for a quilt to send to my niece for her baby shower this weekend. Ta-Dah!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The world's best cooks

Forget Emeril and the rest of the TV chefs. The best cooks in the universe are grandmas. At least my grandma was. She could make a meal out of the simplest ingredients fit for a king. Grandma has been gone for over 40 years now and my own mother isn't able to communicate well enough to tell me what cooking was like in the Great Depression. I can only assume that most of the ingredients were inexpensive, easily found and required minimal refrigeration. Hum, sounds like fresh, seasonal and local weren't new ideas to that crowd.

Since my step-buddy came to live here, "we" have consumed more groceries than I ever imagined possible. I raised two slim petite girls. They would eat just about anything, but not much of it.

Enter an eighteen year old, six-foot-plus muscular male and my views on food and cooking were turned upside down. No longer will a chicken make two dinners for three. And leftovers? Consumed before midnight unless the hands off message is strongly made.

Our food budget was suffering and frankly, I am tired of cooking. There had to be an easier, cheaper way to fill the void that is living in the back bedroom.

Since Mom and Grandma can't help, I pulled out my copy of the Magic Chef Cookbook from 1934. What a treasure. I bought it because it was old and nostalgic. I never really intended to COOK anything.

Anyway, after giving it a quick look, I realized that there isn't an ingredient in this book that I can't get at the corner market. And the recipes look just like what Grandma made.

I will warn you right now that Julie and Julia are in no danger of losing their place in blogdom or the movies.

I started out with Scalloped Potatoes. Simple. Easy. Available. And best of all, really delicious.

P.S. The rest of the potatoes were GONE before the dishes were done.

What is your favorite granny recipe??

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What is the point, anyway?

I cruise around the internet every day to read what others are thinking, making and changing. The blogs that interest me the most are the ones where the writer is trying to make sense of her life by finding what is important and making that the focus of her life changes.
There are blogs about personal finances, homemaking, crafts and so on. I love them all and am inspired by all the insight and accomplishments for the writers. There is so much wisdom to be gained from all these writings. I know there are many others who share my fascination with these blogs from the comments that they leave the other bloggers. But lately, there have been some changes in some of the blogs I have been reading for months, even years. Seems that there is some kind of competition as to who is the hippest, most creative or worst of all, the most enlightened. The mood has changed from friendly sharing and open communication to shameless self promotion and even ridicule of other bloggers who aren't so very self-actualized as the ones writing.
I didn't start this blog to compete with anyone. I am not the most productive, artsy or accomplished gal in blogdom. I just wanted to record pictures and thoughts and share them with whomever comes this way. Focusing on the path ahead makes more sense to me than judging the path of someone else.
Maybe it is time to clean up my list of favorites and look for some new, fresh and upbeat writers.
Wishing you a beautiful day and a sunny tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Night Miss Daisy

Tonight about dinnertime, my dog-buddy Daisy died. She had been suffering from dementia for about 16 months, becomming progressively worse in tiny,tiny steps. She became lost in the house where we have lived for the last 12 years, fell down the steps, lost interest in toys and being petted. She never seemed to be in pain, but her tail stopped wagging and she slept a lot.
I knew she wouldn't be with us much longer, so I made her a red and white quilt for the cold winter nights. Here she is resting under the quilt.

On Monday it appeared that she had a stroke. She couldn't stand up without being held and gave up eating and drinking.

We all checked on her just before sitting down for dinner tonight and made sure she was warm and as comfortable as we could make her. Terry and I were going to make a quick run to the store after dinner, but as we got in the truck, David flagged us down to get us to come back in the house. Daisy had died during dinner.
Daisy will be buried in her special quilt tomorrow.

We sure will miss her.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year

Those New Years just keep coming around faster every time. I guess that is just the way it is as we get older. I have drifted with the current the last few years and let things take their own course. Not so this New Year. I wrestled Terry down on Saturday to take a look at our futures together. Health, money, careers and a lot more. We weren't as far apart on our goals as I had feared. He would like to see me more organized and I would like him to take his health more seriously. We have pledged to help each other and make a difference in 2010.
I would like to move further down that road to making life simpler, more home centered and he just doesn't get it, but we will figure it all out.
It will be interesting to take stock again next year and see just what progress we have made.
I wish you a peaceful, simple and healthy New Year.