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November 25, 2010

Today is dedicated to giving thanks.  And I have so very, very much to be thankful for!

1. I’m thankful for my family and friends, both near and far.

2. I’m thankful for my pets and the joy they bring me every day.

3. I’m thankful for my health, so that I can work and make sure we have what we need.

4. I’m thankful for my job and that it lets me work from home.

These are just some of the things that I say “thank you God!” for each and every day.  What’s on your thankful list?


Let It All Hang Out

November 20, 2010

This summer, I wrote 10 Reasons To Line Dry Your Laundry.  Well, we did it off an on all summer, but this last month, we did it very regularly.  In fact, we hung everything on the line except the ‘unmentionables’…which I guess I just mentioned.  We hung those items on a folding rack inside and that worked fine.

We just got our JEA electric bill for the month and guess what?  It was $54 less than last month!!  Sure, the weather got cooler and there are other factors for this dip, but I think the biggest was not using the dryer.

$54 people!  That ‘aint chicken feed!

Fresh Laundry

Pre-Thanksgiving Prep

November 18, 2010

One of the best days of the year is almost here!  I love the cooler fall air.  I love the big oak leaves in all colors.  I love wearing pants and long sleeves in the evenings (in Florida, I wear capris or shorts 9 months of the year, so it really feels weird to put on pants for the first time each year).  I think Mick the dog loves it too even though this is his first fall; he’ll sit on the lawn, just watching and listening and sniffing the air, his fur all ruffled by the slight breeze and his nose trying to capture every scent that fall has to offer.

And Thanksgiving!  Oh how I love that day!  Hubby and I head to my parents house here in Florida to celebrate and give our thanks.  When we walk in the door, Dad always is there waiting for us with a tiny bit of scotch to whet our whistles and he’s always happy.  Mom is the busy queen bee in the kitchen; you may not see her when you walk in the door, but just follow your nose – from the front door, you get nearly knocked over by the most heavenly smells.  And what I love most?  The happiness and joy we can share at just being together for the day.

While we may be sad that some family cannot join us on that happy day, we know they are also celebrating joyfully and that is good.

We have so many things to be thankful for this year.  Hubby is finished with his surgeries, I have a job that lets me work from home and be there for him as he needs me, we have friends here that are the real ‘keepers’ – the kind you’ll have forever and who are just like family themselves.  There’s really nothing left to wish for on Christmas!

But don’t get me wrong – I do LOVE a good Black Friday sale!  I’ll be out there early with the rest of the early-bird whackos!

Last week in review

November 16, 2010

I’m loving this Fondant & Gum Paste cake class.  It’s so amazingly easy to make realistic flowers!  I just had no idea.  It’s not as bad for my diet as I feared it would be, either; after working with sugar for hours at a time, I don’t have as much of a desire to actually eat sugar.  Hubby, on the other hand, doesn’t have any such reservation – he can barely wait for the first cupcake to be decorated before he’s diving in.

Saturday morning, Hubby, me and Mick the Dog headed to the local farmer’s market.  It was a tiny one off of hwy 210, but still got some nice veggies.  We stopped at a neighborhood garage sale, too, but didn’t buy anything.  Still, it was nice to walk around a bit with Hubby and Mick!  I love stuff like that.

We’re also trying to figure out which Huge-screen TV we want to buy ourselves for Christmas.  I want 55”+.  With Hubby’s back being so messed up, we don’t travel much and can’t really do a whole lot of anything requiring activity.  So…we enjoy movies!  Gotta always find ways to bond, right?  Well, I’m thinking we’ll turn our living room into a nice big TV room.  Huge TV and big comfy couch.  We have the same couches we had in Seattle, but I H.A.T.E the pillow-backs and they really are starting to break down quite a bit.  So I’m hoping for a great big sectional – something we can flop on together and not be 8’ apart on separate couches.  But…we have to find the right TV and sectional first.  That’s harder than you’d think!  There are soooooooo many choices!

Saturday was the fondant class and then pizza for dinner.  Dominos has a Philly Cheesesteak pizza that Hubby loves.  We lit a fire in the firepit outside and just hung out for a while.

Sunday…didn’t do much, really.  Just cleaned house a bit.  Oh, Hubby did wash and hang all of our bedding outside, so it was beyond fantastic to crawl into that night!

Just found out I may have to fly to Rhode Island for work on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Ick!!!  The airports will be nasty!  And because it’s the NE, the weather may suck, too.  Who in their right minds schedules an on-site customer visit on the Monday after T-Day?  I hate giving up Sundays anyway.  (Whine!!)


Gum Paste flowers

November 14, 2010

The Fondant & Gum Paste class I’m taking on Saturdays is amazing!  Its a Wilton class, taught by an amazing instructor – Kathy Pollard David.  I’m just so in love with these flowers!  I just can’t get over how easy they are to make (though, of course, it’s Kathy’s instruction that makes them so simple).

My first gum paste rose

My first carnation

Pasta, Fondant and a Dead Battery

November 8, 2010

It was another busy weekend!  I remember being a little kid and dreading the idea of grown old because then all I’d do is just sit around and do nothing.  Oh, how I WISH for nothing now!

I get the urge to cook at odd times.  This time, it was 5am.  I got up Saturday and found leftover Ricotta cheese in the fridge, so I made some ravioli filling.  Then…made the ravioli dough from scratch. While the dough rested, I walked Mick and was able to finish them off the ravioli when I came back.  Into the fridge they went until we could cook them for dinner.

Then, when Hubby got up, we went into the Springfield neighborhood downtown for an “estate” sale.  This is a really old neighborhood full of 1900-era houses.  On Craigslist, one was being opened and its contents sold out.  They said “bring a flashlight and gloves”.  How fun is that?  So we went.  It was an amazing house!  4 stories, a circular balcony on the top floor, all hardwoods and stone…just amazing.  We ended up buying just a basket and 4 old doorknobs.  But I think we enjoyed the adventure of it more than anything.

Then we went over the Beaver Street Market and bought a 25lb case of tomatoes and a case of crookneck squash (just $10 and $12 respectively!).  We also bought 5 nice cukes for $1, some squashes for $2 and a bunch of grapes for $2.

Then I took Hubby home and picked up Mick – we went to the dog park for 2 hours.  First, we played with the big boys.  Just a mental note, when you have a little dog, you tend to forget how big a big dog can really be.  Do NOT go to the dog park with treats in your pocket!  I was nearly thrown down by some huge half-Great Dane, half-horse kinda dog!  Not my brightest move, I’ll admit.

Mick played chase – his favorite game – for a good long time and then we did the mile nature walk.  Then the little dog pen.  So he’s even littler than many of the little dogs, but after being with the big boys, Mick thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips.  He starts dominating and trying to hump everything in there.  However, part of the problem was that the other dogs seemed to all belong to just 1 or 2 other people (like 8 dogs and 2 owners), so they were sort of a ‘pack’ already.  When Mick arrived, he got basically jumped by 4 dogs at once.  So I can barely blame him for feeling a little feisty!  But… we quickly left.  Its so funny watching dog dynamics in action!

Then… home fast to get my stuff for my fondant cake class.  Fondant – if you haven’t heard of it – is a sugary dough-like cake décor stuff.  You can shape it and cut it like clay and apply it to cakes.  So this was my first of four Fondant classes.

And you know what was for dinner – Ravioli!  We put some nice crunchy bread with it and a little bit of leftover chicken… nice and filling and tasty on a chilly night.

Sunday, we ‘gained’ an hour!!  How cool is that?!  I would vote in a heartbeat to stop this silly clock change thing, but it seems we’re stuck with it for now.  Frankly, we don’t entirely need time-zones either.  Think about it – maybe we need a secondary “global time”.  Lets say is 5pm in London and 8am in Jacksonville today.  With a single global time, we could just agree to meet at 3pm (or 3am, or 9:30pm or whatever).  Its just a label we give to a certain position of the sun.  Who cares if I end up getting up for work at “3am”?  Its just a label – it would still really be at about sunrise (which is roughly 7am now).  OK, so some folks get a little uptight for some reason when I mention that idea, but never fear; it’ll NEVER happen!  Its just a thought.   I get so excited, though, about getting an extra hour that I can’t actually sleep through it.  Its nuts, I know.

Ok, so Sunday.  Up early… start boiling, peeling, coring and mashing tomatoes for sauce.  Probably takes a good hour or two to get through the whole box.  Then I walk the dog, and come back to get the rest of the sauce on the stove so it can ‘perk’ all day.  Once that’s going, I get the cookies baked for the afternoon cookie class.  Yum!

Then, surprise!  I get my first motorcycle riding lesson!  Hubby borrowed a neighbor’s really small motorcycle and we headed behind Publix (our grocery store) for a lesson.  Frankly, I thought it went fairly well.  I learned how to do the basics, and even how to shift up from neutral to first to second (not really enough space back there to go to 3rd).  It was fun!

Back home.. and off to cookie class!  That one kinda wasn’t as good as other classes.  It was still fun, but didn’t learn as much, really, as I’d hoped.

Then, from cookie class, I stopped off  at the Ulta store to buy some face cream.  I was there for maybe 15 minutes total, come out, and came out to try to start my car.  Nothing.  Its acting like the battery is dead.  So I call Hubby and AAA; Hubby immediately heads out to meet me despite my protests (AAA would be there in 20 minutes and I was in a nice safe well-lit parking lot!  But he worries about me.  Say “aaawwwhhh”).  AAA got there just 5 minutes after Hubby, and they used a booster to start the car (Hubby’s jumper cables didn’t work, but we only gave them a minute or two).  Basically, the battery I’d bought last year is now dead!  We got it started and I drove home, but Hubby has volunteered to deal with this battery issue today.  Ick.  I HATE that kinda thing!!

Back at home, though, we cooked up spaghetti and had nice fresh pasta sauce on it.  Yum!!

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend!

My Grandma

October 17, 2010

Every person who meets my Grandma for the first time is immediately struck by her elegance. It’s not just the lovely clothes, the perfect touch of perfume or the glittery jewels. Her soul shines right through all that and it’s perfectly obvious from the very first second you meet her that she is a great lady. I hope this cake, the last thing I can do for her, reflects even a tiny portion of her beauty.

She loved literature and history. Shakespeare, poetry, and great orations were her particular favorites. She had memorized many of them, too, and could recite them from memory. When I didn’t recognize a particular great work (which was, sadly, often), she never made me feel dumb; she just delighted in being the first to introduce me the piece she valued. Of course, she was an author herself, too! I remember how excited and proud she was when her first book, Destination River Bend, was accepted. She was beside herself with joy! It was almost as if the next 5 books were easy!

She loved music and her piano. As long as I can remember, she has always had a music room, a space with at least one piano, sometimes more, where she enjoys playing a few minutes, or a few hours, at a time. Her latest piano, a professional piano with more keys and dials than a 747, was a thrill to her. She played it daily and I think her piano bench was the most comfortable seat in the house to her. While she loved the ‘oldies’ like Frank and Etta, she’d be quick to tell you to turn off the country or Mozart. And she loved to dance to Top 40’s!

She missed her beloved home town of Seattle. How she loved the city! Always in a dress and heels, we’d go downtown for lunch or a play. She adored the tall buildings, the sound of the cars, and even the smell of bus fumes. You have never appreciated a city until you’ve seen it through Grandma’s eyes!

She also enjoyed the palm trees in Jacksonville, where her hands and feet finally got warm and in Honolulu, where she and my grandfather would vacation. The swaying palm trees on warm nights were wonderful to her.

When Grandma danced, it was magic. Give her gorgeous diamond-studded high heels and a dress that twirled just right and she was ready for an all-nighter on the town! She and Grandpa, also elegantly attired, would go out to the Elks or Trappers, where everyone welcomed them as old friends. Dance floors would clear and people would just watch them dance, this beautiful couple who were in perfect tune with each other and oblivious to their admirers. I think the dance floor is where Grandma was most herself. I just know she dances every night in Heaven; I just hope they have a dress pretty enough for her there!

While Grandpa worked, Grandma gardened. She respected each plant, caring for it as a precious living thing. She could move a boulder or dig up huge plants, too; it was amazing at how strong she really was when she decided a big bush needed more shade! And her raspberries! Nobody can grow a raspberry like my grandma! Most big raspberries loose their flavor, but not grandma’s! They didn’t dare. Hers were as big as your thumb as sweet as an angel’s song. We’d pick some after lunch and wash ‘em up in her colander. Then she’d dish us up a little vanilla ice cream and we’d put the raspberries on top. We’d sit at her dining room table, chatting and enjoying that little bit of summer in a bowl. When we moved to Florida, she continued to garden in containers on her patio. She was even successful in keeping an orchid alive that Tara had given her way back in Seattle! That plant survived the 3,000 mile trip and continued to bloom every year, right on cue. Grandma had that effect on living things; she just made you want to bloom.

I cannot begin to convey adequately how much I love her. It’s so frustrating that I can’t think of how to express, in words, in icing or otherwise, how much she means to me. I just hope I can reflect her spirit just a little bit, as I know the world would be better for it if I did.


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