Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Continues

Yesterday George and I went shopping to see what we could see, and found a Christmas village. It helped that all the pieces were 50% off. I never really thought I would like a village, but here it is in my den, and it has little lights and is really charming. There is something to be said about decorating the house a day AFTER Christmas. Even though it sits in front of the window where the kitties sit, they aren't bothering it. They just neatly pick their way through the buildings and little trees on their way to their view. Nice kitties!

Tonight we are baking, getting ready for company tomorrow night. We are making gingerbread boys and girls, (and chickens and sheep) and these are George's Oatmeal raisin cranberry cookies. In the oven is a lemon bundt cake for a birthday guest tomorrow. Lots of yummy stuff going on here.

Have a great night.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Simba -- Through a looking glass....

Safari as a kitten

Simba in the platter

The Day After Christmas

My mother (who was 99 years old last month) always said that the day after Christmas was her favorite day of the year. I tend to agree. It is a day to savor the results of all the preparation we did to get ready for Christmas. This year, George's family is coming over on the Monday after Christmas, so that means we have more time to cook, more time to bake cookies, and more time to do what we want to before the festivities are over. I'm looking forward to making a big casserole dish of Jambalaya to share with them, and more opening of presents. A birthday cake for James will top it all off. We're going to make a lemon Bundt cake and frost it with white frosting and green holly leaves and red berries.

Today George decided to go to his office to work on a project that has a deadline, and I am frolicking around the house doing whatever I feel like doing. That includes straightening up shelves of books, cleaning our corners in the den, putting away yarn projects, doing even more finishing touches on the Christmas decorations...(Christmas is twelve days, right?) and just enjoying my day off.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes and key lime dessert. My friends were wonderful hosts to George and I and we won't soon forget what a great Christmas Day we had. Christmas Eve was nice too. We ushered at church, and were delighted that the program that caught on fire when the acolyte accidentally dipped his candle-lighter too low, did no damage to anyone or anything, and pepped up the whole proceedings a bit. It was fun to see friends on Christmas Eve, and even fun to enjoy the 50 degrees outside that melted all the black ice.

The kitties have discovered Styrofoam pellets. They find them who knows where, and make this little crunching sound behind the sofa. Simba likes to eat yarn and beading wire, so I have to be especially careful not to leave bits of stuff around. Bits of stuff make wonderful cat toys!

Michael and Michelle gave me Sennheiser earphones for my Ipod, and my recorder that I use at work, and I'm thrilled to listen to my music with perfect sound. Mike has taught me the wonders of the Amazon gift list. It is pretty nice to get just what you asked for, I must say!

Have a great day after, and Merry Christmas all over again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kitty-proof Christmas Tree

This is my "kitten-proof" Christmas Tree. I found a garland made of felt mittens and little balls of yarn, straw ornaments, Scandanavian felt ornaments and balls made of unbreakable plastic strung with ribbon rather than wire. My goal was to have a tree that would not be dangerous to kitties in case they took an interest in it. For the first few days, they like to bat at things, but they only knocked off a ball twice, and both times, it just rolled across the floor. They have two new little beds tucked under the tree and enjoy spending time there. I wonder if they know that this Christmas Tree is just for them!

Christmas Eve Day

Today is Christmas Eve day. My company will be letting everyone go home at 3:00, which is very generous. Staying in an office building until after dark on Christmas Eve seems rather draconian. Still, the holiday of Christmas seems to have rushed up from behind. Everyone I talk to is amazed that it is already here. George and I will be stopping off at the grocery store after work to buy the ingredients for our Christmas Dinner offerings. We will come home, put the groceries away and head to Church for the 6 p.m. service. I am the lector and we are both ushers at that service. I have a new red sweater to wear. Christmas is here!

Christmas Day is going to be very different. George and I have usually traveled somewhere for Christmas, and this is the first time we will be at home alone. My friends have invited us over for dinner, so that will be fun, and I'm sure that being alone on Christmas morning will be just fine. We will have apple pancakes and make some Christmas cookies. I often bake sugar cookies on Christmas morning anyway. It is finally slow enough to really enjoy the process, and cutting them out in shapes and decorating them with piped frosting and colored sugar takes a slow morning to really enjoy the process.

Frankly, I am pretty excited about Christmas this year. In fact, I woke up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. When I was a little child, I would lay awake on Christmas and wonder what "sugar plums" were. I always heard about them at Christmastime, but no store I ever saw ever sold "sugar plums". That is the way I feel today. Wondering about what Christmas will be like without Michael and Michelle here, and wondering where I can find the recipe for "sugar plums."

Have a great day. Enjoy each and every minute of Christmas. It only comes once a year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow pictures

Lap cats

It is a snowy Sunday evening, and we have a couple of lap cats here. Two laps, two cats. Nice.

Christmas is here

All big meetings at work are over for the season, and now we can concentrate on all the fun things of Christmas. Last night George and I went to a really nice restaurant in Waltham called Biaggios with his golf friends and their wives. It was a terrific evening, and the food was wonderful. Conversation flowed and I got to meet many people I had only heard about. It was Christmas and fun and the Cioppino was wonderful too. I had a salad with mesclun lettuce, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese that was really holiday-like, and roasted squash ravioli. George had the fresh fish stew - Cioppino and I was stealing little bits of scallops, shrimps and mussels from his plate. Yum! He had tiramisu and I had cannoli for dessert. Others enjoyed chocolate mousse with raspberries. That last time I had that I broke out in hives, so I don't have that anymore!!!

Today we are doing some last minute Christmas shopping. I still don't have George's gift yet, so I have to scurry with that and have him visit somewhere else while I am buying whatever it is I'm going to buy. Can you tell he is hard to buy for? I don't have a clue!

We are also making hermits today from one of the 20 or so recipes we have been researching, as well as a lemon Bundt cake to share with my office mates, and I'm looking up the recipe for Martha Stuart's chocolate crinkle-top cookies which are really pretty on a cookie tray. George's kids will be coming over, and I"m planning to make a nice box to mail away.

The tree is decorated with kitty proof decorations. I bought strands of felt mittens with little yarn balls, unbreakable red and green balls and little straw ornaments. This year we also have big felt Scandinavian ornaments that look at lot like cat toys. I figure if the cats think that the tree is one big cat toy...we'll we might as well join 'em.

Have a great day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Home for the Holidays

I have one big wish for Christmas. I wish I had more time. George and I have decided to stay home by ourselves this Christmas, and I am looking forward to it. I am not going to think about the fact that I am working both on Dec. 24th and Dec. 26th. Christmas is going to be fun anyway!

This Saturday we will put up our big Southern style Christmas tree with beautiful flowers and beaded garlands. I'm looking forward to putting up a tree, and baking cookies and making roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner. It will also be nice to be home with our two new kittens, Simba and Safari. They love us and it was hard to leave them home alone for several days at Thanksgiving time. As they get older, they will be less lonely I think, but as 7 month old kittens, they love a good playtime and thrive on attention.

Most of my shopping is done, and I am making embossed Christmas cards this year. My Christmas card list is small, so it is fun to make hand-made cards. We are also planning to make a variety of cookies and get some in the mail to our family before the holidays. George and I have always enjoyed baking together, and we can't eat everything we make, so it will be into the mail with all those little caloric critters.

I'm excited about the holidays. The wreath on the doorway is lit up and cheerful and looks so inviting. For this year, anyway, I'm happy to be home for the holidays.

Have a great day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

This year our Thanksgiving Day is going to be a little different. We will be driving in the car to get to Michael's house in Virginia. I really love Thanksgiving because I love to cook, and I also really know how to cook a nice Thanksgiving meal without using any recipes unless I want to. Turkey is .39 a pound, which is about as cheap as any kind of meat gets these days. George and I are going out today to buy a frozen turkey or two, and put them in the freezer. A good turkey meal is nice at any time.

Because I like to cook, I am making some road food for us to take on our trip. I'm not sure what this will be yet, but one idea is shrimp and vegetables and sushi. We'll also have gouda and swiss cheese with crackers, cut up vegetables and dip, cubes of cantaloupe, strawberries, and home-made oatmeal cookies. My goal is that we won't have to stop to eat any road food, but will be totally self-sufficient.

The road food on the way from Boston to Washington DC isn't anything to brag about. There are McDonalds on the Mass Pike, and not much at all through Connecticut, and the New Jersey Turnpike is the worst. Connecticut does have one nice deli not far off the highway, but for the most part the trip is all hamburgers, fried chicken and other stuff that's not good for you. The exception is the three or four Starbucks we pass and where we often stop for a break. My plan is that we won't be hungry enough to stop and eat the wrong things because we'll be happily munching on shrimp, fruit, and sushi.

I will keep the food cool in a cooler in the back seat, and since it is winter anyway, we don't have to worry that the food will get too warm. We will have juice and soda and plenty of bottled water on ice. Actually this is starting to sound delicious.

Both of us have to work on Wednesday, so we don't have much choice anyway. I will miss the big turkey dinner, I know, but we will have that again when we get home. In the meantime, it will be wonderful to see Mike and Michelle again, and there's lots of fun to be had at their house. We plan to go out for a big Korean dinner, and I'm really looking forward to that.

Happy Thanksgiving. How do you say "gobble gobble" in Korean?

Have a good day. Simba says hi. He is hanging over my shoulder right now.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Home from Oklahoma

I went to visit my mother in Oklahoma for seven days. We had a good time being together, but I am happy to be home and back to my routine. The kitties are doing great and I missed them a lot. I found myself doing a lot of knitting at my mom's house because she goes to bed very early. I made a pair of socks for her and two black hats. I gave one of the hats to a friend at work, and kept the other one for myself. I wish I had enough time to do all the crafts I want. I have jewelry to make, and hats to knit, and a ton of other things I'm interested in as well. I'm not sure how I got so crafty, but there it is.

The kitties are using George as a cat bed. All three of them slept together on the couch this afternoon while I worked on a scarf that will be a Christmas present for someone (it's a secret). I'm almost finished with that, and I bought the yarn for the next project, a hat for my mom.

It's a rainy day and perfect for knitting and I am enjoying being in my own home. Where, by the way, cats rule!

Have a great day.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My habanero peppers

Today I picked my habanero peppers I have been growing on the deck. I love to plant these little peppers in amongst my coleus plants. They are stubborn little devils. At 200,000 to 300,000 Scoville units each, a measure of their capsicum, or hotness, these really are devilishly hot! These peppers are among the hottest peppers on the planet. Handling them requires gloves unless you like pain. Eating them is almost out of the question. Last year I diced the peppers and put them in the freezer. I labeled them POISON. Then I used about four diced flakes in a large pot of chili. Those four little flakes heated up that whole pot!

This year I will also put my gloves on, dice these pretty peppers into pieces and use them in many pots of chili. I don't really know what else to do with them. I could make them into hot sauce, but it is probably too hot for anyone to enjoy.

They may not be that practical, but boy, are they pretty! I had a lot of fun watching these peppers grow in their pots all summer, and you can't put a price on that!

Have a great day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hunting Hummingbirds

Last May, George and I decided that we would try to attract hummingbirds to our backyard. We hung a red geranium with large luscious looking blooms and a red plastic feeder full of a sugar mixture that we boiled and cooled. Then we waited. And waited. One morning, I looked out and there was a nice big hummingbird, who took one sniff on our sugar water and went flying back from whence he came. I ran out, thinking that our sugar water must have been full of bees, or mold, or diluted by rain water. We boiled more water, added sugar, cooled it on an ice water bath, and ran out to the feeder with it. We didn't see another humming bird for a month!

Then, one day I looked out, and the feeder was on the ground. The red geranium was there, and a hummingbird came, took one sniff of that foul smelling plant, and flew back into the woods. I ran out, got the feeder off the ground, washed it, filled it with nice syrupy sugar water and hung it back out. I never saw another hummer for weeks.

The day before yesterday I looked out. The hummingbird feeder has been there, but rather neglected, with the old sugar water and the colony of bees that have found it a nice home away from home. A big FAT hummingbird came, sniffed at the flowers, ignored the feeder completely and flew away. Gah! I have given up. I think the first mistake we made was buying that big bunch of beautiful red geraniums. They look great, but hummingbirds hate 'em, and they probably smell bad and taste worse.

SO, next year I will buy a different bright red plant, something yummy and sugary, and hang that on the post with a sign; "Don't give up on us, please COME BACK!"

Have a great day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The lighthouse of my dreams

Can you believe this horse is wild? What a beauty.

Wish I were there

Michael and Michelle just returned from a vacation on the Outer Banks. They missed Hurricane Hanna by inches, and then were lucky that Hurricane Ike went the other way. We heard on the weather channel that for hurricane frequency the Outer Banks of North Caroline are 2nd. Florida is first, of course, sticking out there in the Gulf.

The Outer Banks are someplace I have always wanted to see. I am hoping that George and I can go there this year some time. Michael said there was plenty of room for all of us. Wouldn't that be fun??

When I was a little girl I lived in the hot dry plains of Oklahoma, and I would see pictures of light houses and thought they were so beautiful. To me they were beacons of light in a wild sea. I had no idea what the ocean was like. I thought that the ocean had huge waves crashing up onto the shore all the time. I didn't know that oceans can be quiet and flat and calm. I thought they were always angry and gray with big white capped waves. The truth of course is a little less exciting but there are enough crashing waves and storms for the coasts to need lighthouses, and I am fascinated by the painted stripes on these two. They have to be the most beautiful lighthouses in the world.

I am included a wonderful picture of a wild horse, and a picture of the house where Michael and Michelle lived for a week without us.

Some day.

Have a great day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Creative Spirits Renewal Day

Today is Sunday. I woke up and went downstairs, made coffee, and started revamping my beading work area. It is a tiny beading studio which used to be a breakfast nook in our kitchen. Since the nook was too small for both George and I and a round table, it was rather a useless area. We took out the round table and chairs and added a long table across the area. He added shelves on the left. Looking back, it would be nice to have shelves on the right as well, but always room for improvement later.

We added a small television hooked up to cable, a small air conditioner, two lamps and an Ott Light. There is a window, which is wonderful to have. I have put up some paintings and added all my beads which are organized in plastic boxes I buy when they are on sale at the craft stores. I have about 35 boxes of beads. It is amazing to me that some of these boxes have probably a hundred dollars or more of silver, a thousand dollars worth of lampwork, and all kinds of other beautiful Swarovski crystals in every color, antique lucite beads,an array of gold and silver clasps, buttons, wire, sterling silver wire in different guages, cord, fasteners, glue, silk thread; well you get the idea. I have an inventory to be proud of and I know where every single bead is. I can put my hands on what I want pretty easily. Sometimes it takes me more time to find the right elements than to put the piece of jewelry together, but that is not surprising. It is the vision first, the hunt second, the design third and then the craftsmanship needed to put it all together well now so it doesn't fall apart later.

George went to Belfast, Maine today to see an air show with the Blue Angels. I elected to stay home and spend the day renewing my creative energy. The beading table is all organized and the beautiful silver that I bought at the bead show yesterday is all put away.

All that feels really good. Now it is time for the creative part to start.

Have a great day.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Waiting at the window for us to come in the house

Brushing time

Sleeping in the sun on a hot summer day

More about the kittens

George and I continue to be crazy about our kittens. They are growing fast and we have noticed that their coats are really getting beautiful and thick. Safari is shy, but George is making great progress with her and she loves to be petted and brushed, but on her own terms. Sometimes she still runs under something when you want to pick her up. I guess that is a girl's prerogative.

They wait for us in the window when we come home. Simba stays in the window, and Safari always comes and stands by the door. When we open the door, we know she will be right there. They are lovely and polite kittens. They do their kitten thing, but they don't seem to get into trouble. They don't knock things off shelves or eat jewelry or do destructive things. They are charming and beautiful. How lucky we are.

Have a great day.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sometimes you see things that you just have to have!

Today I bought these lampwork beads. I can't tell you why I found them so beautiful, but I just had to have them. Aren't they interesting? This Etsy seller really knows how to make beautiful beads. You can find her work at Wow!

All the news

Today I was going to put a couple of links from Google Reader on my web site. The top four things I wanted to share were in video format. I have come to hate that little arrow on a fuzzy screen which means I have to download video on my computer to read a little news. I would much prefer a simple well written story about the folks coming back to New Orleans after the hurricane that watch some guy up on a tower fixing power lines and calling that news.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but when I see that video screen on my computer I just cringe. The TV news is bad enough. What happened to "All the news that is fit to print?" from the good old NYT?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three whales!

This is what a whale looks like from 6 feet away!

A whale of an afternoon!

George and I went for a drive today, thinking that we would go to Plum Island and do some birdwatching. As we neared Gloucester, we saw the sign for Whale Watch, and decided on a whim to see if we could catch a boat. We waited at the draw bridge for almost 30 minutes while boats traveled to the sea and thought that the delay would probably nix the idea of a whale watch. But we got there in plenty of time! We had time for a nice pizza lunch, then got on the boat and took a lot of pictures of the beautiful schooners that were there for the Gloucester Schooner races earlier in the day.

The day was clear and beautiful and the trip on the boat was going to be fun whether we saw any whales or not. But we were in for a huge surprise. Not only did three whales cavort near the boat for nearly 30 minutes, we went further out and another whale almost mated with the boat he was so close. The whale swam under the boat, back and forth, which mean that we all ran from one side to the other, and the boat listed in the waves. I swear, for a bunch of land lovers, we didn't even care if the boat tipped over it was so exciting to see this beautiful creature come right up to the boat and play with us. Naturally, my pictures didn't turn out well, so I don't have the full effect of seeing fins and tails and eyes of whales staring at us all. The man who led the tour said he wasn't sure who was watching who. I never expect to see whales that close again in my whole life. What an awesome day we had.

As we pulled back into Gloucester harbor four hours later, they had a raffle for a prize of one free ticket to a future cruise. Guess who won. George!!!

What a great day. We can't believe how wonderful it was to see those beautiful creatures.

Have a great day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nap time

I have often wondered where the kittens sleep when we are at work all day. I have found Safari under the end table in the den taking a nap. No surprise there. But I was amazed to see where Simba chose to take her nap for two days in a row. A comfy platter on the dining room buffet.


Have a great day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Safari playing hard to get

Our big boy Simba

At home with the kitties

George and I spent a lot of time at home this week. It has been a relaxing summer, and having the kitties here waiting for us means that we are happy to come home after work and relax with our little furry family.

The kitties have the run of the house all day and they don't mess up a thing. One day they found a kitty stick toy that I had put away, and there it was all wrapped up in it's bag on the kitchen floor. At least when they get into things, they get into the right things! Pretty smart to get up on the counter and find a new toy still in it's plastic sleeve.

George has made great big strides with Safari, who now lays down and lets us pet her, and often lays down to be picked up. She loves the head scratching and is really getting the hang of being a lap cat. She is not shy, but she likes to do her own thing. She is never far away from where we are, and often sits halfway up the stairs when I am getting dressed in the morning. The upstairs rooms are off limits to kitties, and they wait for us on the stairs. Cute.

Petco has been a frequent stop for little toys and more tiny cans of catfood. We spare no expense with these kitties, and it makes me wonder why Thunder had to make do with a bed and a litter box. Oh well, the world is for the young.

Have a good day!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A new toy -- boy what a toy

The kitties got a new cat condo today. It is high and just right. They love it. We do too. A kitty never had it so good.

Have a great day.