Friday, November 30, 2007

Tending her beloved flowers

Happy Birthday Omie

Today is my mother's 98th birthday. It is amazing to think that my mom is as vibrant and smart as she is and that old! 98 years! I feel old, and she is years and years older than me. She rolls with the punches. She takes life as it comes. She is open-minded and flexible. And she minds her doctors.

I don't know what her secret is. She said today that she went to visit the doctor on Tuesday, and at the end of their visit, she asked him if he thought it would be okay for her to eat an egg every day. He looked at her over the tops of his glasses and laughed. She can eat anything she darn well wants!

Well, that isn't quite true. She watches her diet very carefully and does not each much sugar, and hardly any salt. She does what the doctor says. She monitors her pills, her health, and her food. She exercises as much as she is able to, and she does puzzles, reads hard books and reads the dictionary to "exercise her mind".

I wish I was HALF the woman my mother is. God Bless her. Happy 98th Birthday to the loveliest woman I know. She is my flower and I am her butterfly.

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The new furnace

Recently George paid $8,000 for a new furnace. The old one was a behemoth that came with the house in the 1930's, and although it was a trusty old thing for the most part, it needed to be replaced. No time like the present. So, the men came, and for two days they had to do asbestos removal, and then take out the old furnace. For two days we didn't have hot water, and one morning, we showered at the neighbor's house before going to work. We thought our problems were over.


The new furnace does exactly what it is supposed to do. It has a good thermostat, and it comes on when the house reaches the coldest temp allowed. The fact that it is so efficient, and heats up so much faster than the old one has strained our steam pipes in the basement to the max. What happens when cold pipes are asked to become hot pipes? Bang! Bang!

The pipes make a horrible racket. It sounds like a madman in the cellar banging on the pipes with a crowbar. It sounds like Napoleon's army coming through with their cannon wagons. It sounds like a parade of garbage trucks on the 4th of July.

George has talked to plumpers, to engineers, and to rocket scientists at work. No none seems to know what the answer is. He thought of insulating the pipes, putting them at a different angle, replaceing them...everything. No one can think of anything. I can tell he is worried. The sound makes you feel that it can't be good for the pipes, or the house itself.

Somehow, this too shall pass. I know that we will find an answer. And, in the meantime, no need for an alarm clock. Every morning: 5:30 a.m.: Bang! Bang!

Have a great day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Just some pictures....

George, all dressed up

James, Ann & Lucy on Thanksgiving Day

Devin and Alyssa as a baby

My mom

My life in 5000 pictures

Michael cleaned up my computer yesterday. He asked me what web sites I visit regularly. I only have a few. My blog. Google Reader, which really DOES have all the news that's fit to print, Ebay, iTunes, and JC Penney. He also helped me clean up my pictures. I have about 30 folders, titled Family, Christmas, Flowers, Bracelets, Old designs, Turkeys (back yard visitors), etc etc. In those folders I have over 5000 pictures.

I have taken a picture of almost every piece of jewelry I ever made. These pictures are my archive of creativity, and besides showing me what kind of designs I have made, it also shows me how much better I have gotten at making jewelry, and especially how much better I am at taking pictures. My old jewelry is nice, but simple, and the pictures are dark and unappealing. It is amazing to me that anyone purchased jewelry from me with pictures like these, but they did. God Bless them.

My pictures are the most important thing I have on my computer. I look at them often, and I use them to illustrate my blog, which is also a huge important thing that I use my computer for. Everyone is different. I don't do My Space, or chat with friends. I don't tell jokes or receive them. I don't do a lot of emailing. But, boy howdy, do I ever love my pictures, the record of my life in the last seven years.

We have had a great Thanksgiving so far. Michael and Michelle arrived late after a pretty bad experience at the airports, and we started off our weekend together by having dinner at 11:00 p.m. I got up at six to make the stuffing and a pumpkin pie, and all of us were pretty tired on Thanksgiving Day. We all took naps and rested and ate a lot of really good food, and finished off a pumpkin pie. We got to see Lucy and James and Ann in the morning, and my apple walnut bundt cake was a big success.

It was a great day. I need more pictures!

Happy Day After.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparation

Michael and Michelle arrive this evening. I can hardly wait. I couldn't sleep this morning, so I got up at 5:00 and had my coffee while I reorganized my beading studio in the kitchen. There is always something to be done there, and this morning I looked through the silver order from Bali that came last week. Beautiful silver that I'm just aching to make into something gorgeous.

George and I made a cake last night. I got the recipe out of the Boston Globe. It is apple walnut bundt cake and it turned out perfectly. It was a well crafted recipe and not to be taken lightly. Toasted nuts, melted butter, beating for specific times between additions, but we followed the recipe exactly and had a great time. The cake is beautiful, and once the glaze is on it, I'm going to love serving it tonight with dinner. We are going out to Harrow's to pick up their famous chicken pot pie for dinner. A little time-saving is needed when one works all day on Thanksgiving Eve.

I have decided to put the recipe here, even though it is rather long. I hope someone else makes it and enjoys the process as much as George and I did last night.
Spiced and Glazed Apple Cake

Cake Batter

3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. baking powder
¾ t. salt
2 T. ground cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. ground cardamom
1 ¼ c. chopped walnuts
Lightly toasted and cooled
1 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 T. canola oil
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 ¼ c. lightly packed, peeled and shredded apples

Set oven for 350 degrees.

In a bowl, sift the flour baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom

In a bowl, toss the walnuts with 2 T. flour mixture

In electric mixer, blend the butter on oil on med. Low speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on medium low speed for 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 45 seconds after each addition. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 minutes. This beating is crucial to the texture and volume of the finished cake.

Blend in the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula.

Blend in the apples. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the walnuts. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the cake for 60 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake is clean. The cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. Set the cake on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. (Use a timer!) Turn it out of the pan. Place a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch drips of the glaze.


1 ½ c. confectioner’s sugar
½ t. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3 T. apple cider.

In a bowl, mix the sugar. Add butter and apple cider and mix with a hand mixer. Beat at low speed. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the glaze and let stand for 30 minutes.

While the cake is still warm, spoon and spread the glaze on the top of the cake, letting it flow down the sides. Let the cake stand 1 hour before cutting with a serrated knife.


Have a great day.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My cranberry sauce

Add a package of washed cranberries to one cup of water in a saucepan. Cranberries don't really need a lot of water. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice and the zest of one orange. Cook over low heat until the berries pop and look creamy and nice. This doesn't take long at all, about 10 minutes. Pour into a pretty bowl, cover with saran wrap and put into the refrigerator.

Then, don't forget to bring them to the table, like I did one Thanksgiving!

Have a great night.

Thanksgiving Day: From this...

To this....

Keeping it Simple

George and I are preparing the house for Thanksgiving. Michael and Michelle will be here on Wednesday evening. By the time they arrive, the house and some of the dinner should be ready. While I plan the menu, shop for the food, and make their bed with crispy sheets and fluffy comforters, I keep in mind that I would like the Thanksgiving holiday to be simple and fun. No rush, no fuss.

While this is my goal, I'm also busy planning the menu: Artichoke Dip and Crudities with Greek olives, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans almondine, homemade cranberry sauce, jellied cranberry sauce out of the can (for George), mashed rutabagas, butternut squash, rolls, Texas Slaw, which is a recipe my mother sent me from the Oklahoma Journal and has two types of cabbage and jalepeno peppers to spice it up...sounds perky..., spiced cider, apple pie, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and an apple walnut bundt cake.


Okay, so Thanksgiving isn't so simple, it will still be fun. I am not daunted by the fact that I don't get out of work until 5:00 on Wednesday. I am not daunted by the fact that my grocery list is two pages, single-spaced. I am not daunted by the fact that my dining room is also "jewelry central" and needs to be reamed out of all things jewelry. I am not daunted by the fact that our bedroom needs to be converted into a temporary quiet space with desk for Michael, so he can work on his book. I'm, I'm not. Somehow it will all get done, and it will all be fun too! Actually, Thanksgiving dinner is one dinner that I have made so often I don't need any recipes. I have done it all before, many times, and with great success. No worries!

Thanksgiving is going to be loaded with fun and friends, loaded with really good home-made food, loaded with laughter and good times. And there's nothing simple about it!

Have a great day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our Sunday Drive to Chatham

Chatham, Mass

Yesterday George and I took a drive to the Cape and went to Chatham. Chatham is interesting because of the barrier beach which keeps the big ocean away from the expensive ocean front homes. There is a breach on the beach, and that spells big trouble for Chatham. A recent spring storm created abreach in the barrier peninsula which threatens expensive homes along the shore.

The Chatham breach is old news, but Mother Nature does what she likes. A recent storm last Thanksgiving deposited sand which helped heal the breach, and the Boston Globe announced, "Mother Nature gives back." George thinks that the latest breach on the sand bar is going to reconnect itself, and the town recently voted not to spend the eight million dollars necessary to have the Army Corps of Engineers come in to try to fill the breach.

As you peer out over the peninsula from the shore, you can just see the big white ocean breakers offshore. It is a wonderful, expansive Cape Cod beach.

The day was beautiful and sunny. I took pictures of the ocean and the sand bar, including a large fishing boat that was blown away from it's moorings in the recent storm two weeks ago caused by the remnants of Hurricane Noel. The shops and stores are picturesque and the fall season brings lots of sales as the stores start boarding up for winter. It is a summer community mostly, but the big hotel, the Chatham Bars Inn, would be a beautiful place to visit during Christmas.

We had a lovely lunch of clam chowder and fish and chips at a little cafe and tavern called the Impudent Oyster and took a walk through several galleries and stores. I think I need to charge more for my jewelry. A silver bracelet there, without artist lampwork, cost $190.00. Whew. But the galleries are full of beautiful glass and knickknacks and the shopping is good if you bring a full wallet. For $45 I could have bought a charming pepper mill in the shape of a painted red lighthouse. I said, "That is really cute,", and George replied, "and they know it!".

Driving the mid-Cape Highway is like driving through a tunnel of low cranberry colored trees and white pine, until you get to the road you want to lead down to the shore area. Chatham is the "elbow" of the Cape. The traffic was fine at this time of year, and we need to go there more often. The scenery is beautiful and the clam chowder is great! No wonder so many people want to live or vacation on the Cape.

Have a great day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lucy's Scarf and Thunder's old mouse

I finished this scarf for Lucy for her first birthday which is today. It is made with a fluffy Mohair and Wool Blend Yukon Print by Plymouth Yarn. The yarn gauge is 2 stitches to the inch, so it works well on a big needle. After making scores of pairs of socks with tiny needles, this was a big switch.

Lucy's Birthday Party is today, and George and I will take her presents to her house, along with extra tables and chairs for their guests. Whether we go or not depends of whether George gets over his cold by noon, which is highly unlikely. It doesn't seem fair to spread germs around a birthday party, so more than likely, we are going to miss it.

Thunder's old mouse wanted to get into the picture too.

Tomorrow George and I are going to take an afternoon trip to Chatham on the Cape to see the sights and eat some fried clams. It should be fun. We don't go to the Cape often because of the traffic, but tomorrow will be an easy day there and back. I'm going to take my knitting and work on some Christmas presents while he drives.

And maybe today I'll go buy some more of this pretty yarn and make someone else a scarf for Christmas. Sounds like a plan.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jebu, the wonder "tennis ball" doggie

Dog-gone crazy!

We have all gone crazy for Jebu. I call every night to hear more about his antics. Michael and Michelle adopted this wonder dog from an animal shelter, and he is just about the prettiest dog I've ever seen. I really love seeing pictures of him and can't wait to meet him in person.

He looks to me like he has a big secret and knows a lot about life, and he isn't telling! But he is only about a year old, so how much can he really know?

Michael tells me that he is big on tennis balls and hell on the local tennis courts, where he loves to pick up the occasional stray ball and make away with it. His twice daily walk goes right by the courts. He loves to play ball and plays for hours, or until Mike's arm gives way. It is so much fun to hear about his antics.

So, we are crazy nuts for Jebu and his beautiful coat and face.


Have a great day.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A "Vonna" bracelet

Fed Ex from Bali

I just placed my first order for sterling silver beads shipped directly from Bali. These will arrive FedEx this week. It is a big step for me to order such beautiful beads directly from their source. In the past I have been the recipient of very generous friends who have shared beads with me, and taught me what I know about them. My friend Connie buys beads from Bali and I have always been amazed at her awesome inventory of beautiful silver. Vonna, who is a wonderful friend and designer, also sent me some beautiful Bali beads when I first started making jewelry and listing it on Ebay, and by having her show me what really GREAT beads are...she singlehandedly brought me up several notches as a jewelry designer. I collected several "Vonna" bracelets, and they are among my treasures! Besides being fun to wear, having her bracelets taught me what really beautiful high quality jewelry is all about.

My shipment from Bali will arrive this week and will include some gorgeous Bali beads, silver wire, pins, chain and spacers. I can't wait to see them. And, because of my generous friends who helped and taught me when I was a little beader...I'm a big girl now!

Thanks, Vonna. Thanks, Connie.

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Hurricane Fizzle

"Tropical Storm Noel has killed at least sixty people in the Caribbean from mudslides and floods as the intense storm approaches Florida with wind gusts of more than 50 mph." said the headlines last week, and the remnants came washing up the East Coast this weekend.

Last night the western sky was awash with beautiful flames and plumes of extraordinary yellows and reds. George and I were trying to decide whether red sails at night were a warning or not. Yes, we decided it was a warning, and today we took our air conditioners out of the windows and put down the storm windows. In the process I found that curtains needed to be washed so we did that too. Thanks to Noel it was a busy morning.

The wind came up and spun the whirlygigs in the back yard and blew some leaves around. There was a mild rain, nothing much, and it was dreary, with gray plumes of clouds in the sky. But weather doesn't keep us down, and we found a good sale at Penney's and we ran some errands for office supplies and a new beading book for me at Barnes and Nobel.

Tonight Mike reconnected with a friend of his who lives in San Francisco, who he has known since he was three years old, and in the process, I got reconnected with his friend's mother, who happens to live close by, and we will probably get to see each other before the holidays. Fun to find old friends!

Tomorrow is Sunday School in the morning and then more beading for me. The hurricane fizzled and the sun will be out again tomorrow. So much for Noel.

Have a lovely evening.