...family, friends, home and other tidbits of a blessed life

Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell dear Pallas

A dear colleague is moving from Texas to Pittsburgh, PA. Today is her last day of work. I am really going to miss her gentle way, kind heart, award winning smile and her kindness. She's just really a great person and I have been blessed to get to know her.
I was in a stumped as to what I could do for her. How could I give her something to take with her that would remind her of what once was her home.
And then it dawned on me! Put some pictures in a book! How easy is this. Well the external harddrive is not getting any power (but the data is fine, I just can't get to it right now). So I searched my cd's high and low, a few web searches (ooh i'm soo sorry I took your best shots) and finally I had photos I wanted to use.
I made sure that most of them had writing room on them, so that fellow colleagues could sign the book.
I even took pictures of her favorite eating establishments. I hope she has as much joy in this little gift as I did in making it for her.

Oh the book is easy. Print your pictures in the appropriate size for the book binding you have purchased. then insert the pages into the spine of the book. Set all onto a warming apparatus and wait for the light to go from red to green! Really that's it. The warming apparatus heats the adhesive in the spine. The adhesive melts into the pages so the the whole thing takes on a very professional feel!

I wish you well Pallas. I shall miss you. Have fun in Pittsburgh!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sundays on the patio with Julia

We practically live on the patio in the spring, cool summer mornings and evenings, and in the fall. Sunday was no different. After cleaning up a bit, shopping a bit, it was time for eating a bit! I married a man who, bless his heart, grew up on chicken fried steak , mashed potatoes with paste gravy, green beans and iceberg lettuce. So in the 35 years we've been married, I've taken his taste buds on a never ending journey.

When I was a young girl living in France, I was lucky enough to get to go with friends to the Atlantic coast where we picked Moules off the rocks early in the mornings while the tide was still out. I can remember wearing heavy, thick gloves because those rascals were stuck "real good" on those rocks. Then we would cook them on the beach, eat them and then drain down the liquid in which they were cooked. Yummy. So Sunday we had Moules for lunch. I am so thankful for United Market Street and their knowledgeable fish mongers who pay careful attention when selecting mussels. When you purchase them, they must be closed! Bring them home, place them in a bowl of either salted, cold water or water into which you've added some cornmeal. Both the cornmeal and the salt agitate the mussels to cleanse themselves. Remove any barbs and leave them in the water until you are ready for the cooking step. Then drain well before adding to the pot.

Mussels Steamed in White Wine
Moules Marinière

4 tbs butter
1 cup minced onions
1 large clove of garlic, pureed, optional
a large handful of chopped fresh parsley
4 quarts fine fresh mussels
2 cups dry white wine or dry white French Vermouth

Melt the butter in a kettle, stir in the onions and optional garlic, and cook slowly for several minutes until limp. Then add the parsley and the mussels, cover the kettle and shake once to mix all the ingredients. Pour in the vermouth or wine and shake once again. Turn heat to high, cover tightly, and let steam for 3 to 4 minutes (without shaking), just until the mussels have opened.

Dip the mussels out, shells and all, into the soup bowls. Tip the kettle and ladle the fragrant cooking liquor into each serving bowl. Serve with a fresh baguette, real butter, and a bottle of wine.

Merci milles fois, Julia Child. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One man and Ms. Iris.

As you can see this one man is really being helpful. Cleaning up the pollen dropping off the big trees in the back yard. Although the weather is quite warm, he's got to wear long sleeves to keep from cutting himself and tearing his skin. Bless his heart.And while he is doing all the cleaning, I got the hedge trimmer out and trimmed the hedge. I found the pruners and started in on some limbs and the wisteria gone wild. I spotted Ms. Iris. Neither she nor any one of her lovely friends chose to visit last year. Maybe the trick is all the water we had this year? I'll have to do a bit more study on this. Nonetheless, here is Ms. Iris in full bloom. Two more buds on the same stem. This is going to be lovely. And the best part - she brought along 4 friends who are still in the bud stage!

Isn't she a beauty? I love the very pale tinge of lavender in the petals that contrasts so beautifully with the yellow beard and the lime colored stripes.
Truly a magnificent specimen. Guess what?? Man met Ms. Iris. Man was being very careful. Ms. Iris however, had met her match. Down she went. One minute she was standing there in all her glory and the next, she flopped over and the blood was rushing to her lovely standards. Man's wife to the rescue.
So now Miss Iris resides inside in a beautiful handcrafted pottery vase made especially for such occasions. The pottery vase is handmade and created in the Japanese style of flower arranging. Three openings in the center into which to place stems. Each hole has an opening through which the water flows and thus nourishes the blooms. Ms. Iris is pleased, her petals are opening more, rewarding me with more of her intrinsic beauty.

Poem of Iris

Why are people bewildered to be open and show themselves?
What are they afraid of? What are they resisting for?
See me and feel the power of my self concentration.
I am a rainbow. I am a shooting star.
I bring divinity to the earth. I know the joy of opening
myself, learning self mastery on the Earth and devoting
myself to the last drops of my life.
Mitsuyo Matsumoto

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Still counting pennies.. but

Still counting my pennies but...

~~~the external backup drive has failed but I think the hard drive is fine, just not getting any power.

Glittering Friends Graphicl

~~~our dearest friend had to go have angioplasty today but the results are good.

~~~spent the day at the hospital so no blog entry is done but our friend is fine.

~~~it's lightning but the bad weather is to the east of us.

~~~children are children but they are fine.

~~~work isn't going so well but I have work.

~~~magazine subscription is awol but I kept all the necessary data.
(hey, don't panic, it's for one of the onery children)

~~~the weekend isn't going to be long enough but I will get at least one thing done.

~~~my spring clothes shrank in the closet but the stores have more.

~~~the fuel gauge was on E but I didn't run out of gas.

~~~I am feeling my age but I am alive.

~~~my sisters in law are in Israel and I am here but I can text them everyday.

~~~so there is no fun blog entry today but I have the weekend to make next week fun!

No apologies, no excuses.. It's just life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pennies from Heaven...

I watched the original version of Pennies from Heaven (1936 version with Bing Crosby) last week Friday. The title intrigued me. What did they mean Pennies from Heaven? And then I thought about all the little things that have been happening to me and those around me in the last several weeks and months. Little things that seem to fall from the sky or out of the blue, that have certainly contributed to my physical and emotional well-being.

So I've started keeping a list. Better yet, a notebook. Created something pretty into which to write these little pieces of wonderful that happen. Is life looking up or has my attitude simply changed? Have I accepted that I can't change the unchangeable? Have I learned to recognize that which is in my grasp to change? I have started to enjoy the "pennies from heaven"! The heartburn is gone, the head isn't pounding, the stomach isn't churning. I believe that good things are coming my way again. Hope has returned in my line of sight. Of course it's always been there, I just can't always see it clearly.

Collect all those pennies and keep track, you'll see life ain't so bad after all! What are some of your pennies?

Pennies from Heaven by Frank Sinatra:

Every time it rains,
It rains pennies from heaven
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven

You'll find your fortune's falling
All over the town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers

So when you hear it thunder don't run under a tree
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me

Next week, I'll show you the "project" - stay tuned, I think you'll like it.

1 Chronicles 17:26
O LORD, you are God! You have promised these good things to your servant.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How do you organize?

How do you put away all your "stuff"? Today, I'm showing you how I have some of my craft items stored. Some are conventional, some very unconventional. One thing is for sure, this has shown me that I need to purge. I love these clear shoe bags for holding ribbons, I can use one shoe holder for each color. Usually it's a wee bit neater than this, but as you can see, the ribbons are easily accessible. I open the closet door and pull just the piece I need. Shoe holders from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
This is an antique thread cabinet that came from my Godmother, to my mother to me. My mom had sewing "stuff" in it. I repurposed this cabinet to house scrapbooking brads, eyelets and other small items. Cabinet: Ackermann threads.
Each drawer is divided, can you believe it came this way?
...and is perfect for all that little stuff.
I'd show you the desk portion, but I would die from embarrassment. Momentarily, it's a wreck. These are styrofoam packaging pieces. Can you believe this? They stack perfectly and house my most used stamps, stickles, glitter, embossing powders, specialty glues, alcohol inks, and the best part: I can pin things into the shelves!
These Iris carts from the office supply store are stashed in two hall cabinets, 2 small ones like these ....and two larger ones such as these.
They house specialty threads
EZ Glitz swarovski crystals and the designated heat tool.
Sewing machine needles.
Scissors and rotary cutters.
The lower shelf holds paper in the plastic sleeves and then some just shoved in between. The pink notebook is my storage system for QK Alphabets. The middle shelf holds specialty papers, QuicKutz mini tins for the 2x2 alphas and mini alphabets. I used all these Bernina notebooks to house the remainder of the QuicKutz shape dies and one has the Tim Holtz stamps inside. ;-) The top shelf has some books and specialty and photo printer papers.
And one of my favorite tools I use for organizing project pieces and other smaller items by groups are my "free" - recycled - lettuce containers. They are clear, stack well, and they are my little bit of recycling!

Hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my mess. I hope it gives you some ideas. How do you store your "stuff"?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Julie, Julia and my cookbook

As the movie starts, Julie is in the middle of a work crisis. Julie’s mate challenges her to cook since that is what makes her happy. Blog and cook. Time limit 1 year. Cook all the items in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. More items to cook than days in the year. I loved the movie. All of it. And for the last several days have been dreaming in French, talking to myself in French. And cooking.

Several years ago in a time of high stress and major upheaval in my life, I decided it would be a good thing to put all the family recipes into a cookbook. I had already lost recipes handwritten by my grandmother and my aunt and did not want a repeat of this misfortune for my sons. Since my younger child was the root of the upheaval in my life, I dedicated the cookbook to him.So I relate to this movie on a very personal level. Food, cooking and stress! I must confess, I am a stress eater. I also confess that cooking makes me feel better. It’s cathartic. Had I not had the cookbook and a goal in mind, I probably would have collapsed totally and that would have been a disaster as I needed to be the support person during our crisis. I formulated a page layout in Photoshop(TM) and once that was accomplished, the process was fairly easy. Type the recipe onto the page layout and print. But I didn't stop there. I added lots of family pictures, all involving food. Hence the cookbook grew to very large, time consuming, all-encompassing proportions. Cheaper than a shrink for sure. But now that it's complete, it's a handy reference and I no longer have to figure out where I stuck a recipe, was it in a cookbook or is it handwritten, all those problems were neatly addressed with this one publication.

So back to my mutterings and musings; I’ve been cooking French. Earlier this week it was Salade Niçoise (clicking this link will take you to Julia's version). Served with a fresh baguette and a glass of wine, it’s a delightful meal and not too unhealthy either. Today I share the recipe with you. Bon Appetit!

Williams Sonoma Mediterranean Tuna Salad
~~~~~although this is not Julia's, I actually like this one better because it has fresh dill

1/2 lb young green beans, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
ice water to cover
1 lb small, ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 small green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1/2-inch squares
4 small green onions, including some green tops, chopped
3-4 red potatoes, quartered, boiled until done, cooled.
3-4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
13 or so ounces of solid pack tuna in olive/safflower oil, drained and flaked apart

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/s lb mesclun or other small lettuces, carefully rinsed and dried
4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and quartered lengthwise
8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and cut in half crosswise
20 tiny Niçoise olives or 12 small Italian or Spanish black olives

Place the green beans in a bowl. Add ice water to cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
fill a saucepan three fourths full of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Transfer the beans to the pan, reserving ice water. Boil until bright green, but still crisp, 3-4 minutes. Return the beans to the ice water. When cool, drain and set aside.

Core the tomatoes, cut into wedges and put in a bowl. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and, using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut crosswise into slices 1/2" thick and add to the tomatoes. Add the bell pepper, green onions, potatoes, dill, tuna and green beans.

To make the dressing in a small jar with lid, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Add the olive oil. Close the lid, Shake vigorously until all is blended. Spoon half the dressing over the vegetables and toss. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Divide the lettuces among 4 pasta bowls or plates. spoon the vegetables and tuna mixture on top. Place 4 egg quarters on each plate and top each quarter with 1 anchovy fillet half. Divide the olives among the salads. Serve with sliced french baguette. Do you have a recommendation for a wine??

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April QuicKutz Club Project

Wavy scissors + some stamps + dimensional die cuts = a winning combination!Wavy scissors + fringe scissors = perfection! Dimensional die cuts, brads, glitter and a photo corner punch finish out this month.
Supply list:
Basic Grey Sugar Rush designer paper (4)
5 x 3.5" chipboard
Large Wave decorative scissors
Fringe Scissors
Faded Jeans Distress Ink
Color Box pigment brush pad in Smoke Blue
Color Box Chalk inkpad in Charcoal
PostCard stamp
The Daily Grind stamp by Fancy Pants
Photo insert corner punch
QuicKutz dies:
2" Postcard die
4" Postcard die (stamp)
Cookie Cutter Nesting Flowers
Revolution Branches
Revolution 0016 Flowers
2" KS0413 Butterfly
Removable tape
Pop dots
Adhesive of choice
Glitter Adhesive
Diamond Dust glitter
Brad setting supplies
Basic scrapbooking supplies

See you April 17, 10am!


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