Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Christmas Choir


It's hard to describe so I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

All for Tiramisu

After my dear EW searched San Antonio for ladyfingers without success, I decided to make them myself. So of course I researched and sent off for a state of the art ladyfingers pan which arrived quite quickly. Production began and all was going well until they came out of the oven. Then low and behold they refused to release their grip of the pan and had to be scrapped out. They tasted good but who wants to eat crumbled sponge cake. So here is a picture of the second attempt which I piped onto parchment paper from a plastic baggie. One group I baked so they were soft and the other group I let get crispy. As they don't keep very well, they are now in the freezer awaiting a decision on which tiramisu to make. Who knew that there were about 60 possible kinds?!! I'm thinking that the recipe with the rum soaked ladyfingers sounds promising.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December Already?

Here is the finished baby quilt made for my Angel Tree family. This was the first quilt that I have quilted on my own. Very scary at first since I do not have a long arm machine, but I launched into it with wild abandon thanks to a class I took at 7th Heaven. Thanks, you all for giving me confidence. It is finished in a pattern of rambling hearts and leaves which I just improvised on as I went along. Since I didn't have much time and took on an Angel Tree family with a friend on the spur of the moment, the quilt is very simple as you can see. Now I'm thinking I should consider starting another quilt for next year which could be more spectacular if I had more time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Gardening

Well, I didn't do a very good job of blogging my gardening progress last month. Maybe I'll do better this month.

September 8-28 Planted 3 gardenia bushes, 2 chaste trees, and 1 Duranta repens (Golden Dew Drops) in the backyard. Jessi mowed down one of the chaste trees thinking it was a big weed, but it surprisingly came back and is almost as big as the other one again. Then in the side yard, I planted a Mirror Leaf Viburnum. In the top garden, I planted a Ruellia Chi Chi. It has quarter sized pink petunia like flowers and is very heat tolerant. It may not like its spot because it likes full sun and the top garden is a little shady.

September 7 Although it is raining today, I did spend time yesterday unloading the top soil that I brought in to replenish the raised bed. As I wasn't able to unload it all, I pulled the truck into the garage so that I wouldn't have a mud pit to deal with when the storm hit. Glad I did.

Spetember 5 Mowed the front lawn.

September 3 Trimmed the front and pulled out the spent impatiens.

Owl Apron

Kate and I were out to lunch when we spotted a cute owl apron in the restaurant's gift shop. Kate said how much she liked it except for the colors. She doesn't like orange. So thinking that I could be like the designers on Project Runway which is one of my favorite programs, I went home and cut out an apron, hand drew some owls, and here is the outcome. I can't wait to give it to Kate!

Friday, September 3, 2010

September's Reading List

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory - Margaret feels that she is destined by God to be able to sign her name Margeret R (Regina) and spends her life plotting against the Yorks in the hope that her son Henry can return from exile to claim the throne from Edward and then from Richard. She serves in the courts of both kings and their queens conniving all the while against them. At the end of the book Henry finally defeats Richard who is killed in the battle. I am hoping that she will write a sequel to her two novels about the War of the Roses as everyone has heard of her grandson, Henry VIII but it would be interesting to read a novel about Henry's father and early childhood.

by Suzanne Collins - Katniss becomes the Mockingjay and joins with the people of District 13 to crush the rule of President Snow and capture the capitol. With Gale and Peeta, she battles to an unexpected conclusion.

The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin - Joe comes to Maine scarred by WWII and begins a new life restoring a run-down fishing camp. His son, Joe, takes over but flees to Canada to escape the draft. This is the story of Joe, Lucy, and their daughter Kate as it intermingles with the life of Harry Wainwright who has visited the camp most summers since he was nine.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Diva Purse Top Section

Here is how you construction the top section of the Diva purse.

Sew the zipper unit onto the purse side, right sides together and leaving the lining loose.

Unzip, turn purse inside out and sew on other side. Note: It might be better to not stitch across zipper so that you can keep it more open allowing for it to be easier to sew. I stitched across too soon which made it harder to get things together.

Now measure the half point that is about 2 and 1/2 inches about bottom of flap.

Center snap anchor and mark the slit lines. Snip on slit lines being careful not to make them too large.

Push prongs of snap through and smash flat.

Lay other flap on top and mark center. Then repeat last step so that other side of snap is in place.

Now these flaps can be sewn onto the ends of the purse. Since I was using demin, it was necessary to sew some of this by hand. Also before sewing on the flaps, be sure that your lining is turned under at each end and sewn down or tacked so it will lie flat under the flaps.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August Gardening

My goal for this month is to spend 30 minutes in the garden 5 days a week. Here is my progress report.

August 2 - Monday I worked on the back garden fence area. I had weeded half of it on Saturday so I began on the second half. The honeysuckle that I planted several years ago has taken over in one corner and is trying to choke out the Texas sage that is planted there. I liberated the sage while noticing that the soaker hose that I installed before going on the cruise certainly has done wonders for the plants on the fence. The crape myrtles, knockout roses, and trumpet vines are all in bloom. The butterfly bushes needed some pruning.

August 1 - Sunday is usually not a day to spend in the garden. After taking Sookie for a walk, it was time to get ready for church and by the time I returned home it was way too hot for gardening.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August's Reading List

212 by Alafair Burke A bodyguard for a powerful businessman is gunned down in his boss's apartment. The murder is called in by a mysterious woman who then disappears. Megan and her roommate Heather are attacked after threatening posts on a campus gossip web site. Megan dies. Katy Battle (aka Miranda) is found murdered. Is there a connection between these cases?

The Last Patriot
by Brad Thor Was there a last instruction omitted from the Koran? Was Mohammed poisoned? Was Thomas Jefferson really studying Islam and realizing the impact it was going to have on our history? How historically correct are the "facts" presented here? This book reads like a Dan Brown novel but has my attention and the desire to find out these and other questions.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Star Blocks

This afternoon I came home from my daughter's house where I inspected the new tile that Rick put in. Wow! He had pulled up all that out-dated stuff and put the most lovely tiles down. It looked fantastic. After I got home, I had what I thought was about an hour before they came over to my house to hang out and watch a program that I had taped, so I went upstairs to cut out the next blocks of the Thimbleberries Quilt that Jessie and I are making. She is making the lap quilt for a wall hanging and I am making a queen sized quilt for the bedroom. It's a quilt that I think I'll be all right letting Sookie get on since she doesn't shed and has shown no interest in chewing holes in anything. Well, I cut out the pieces and the kids weren't here so I started putting them together. To make a long story short, I finished the two star blocks and had ten minutes to relax before their arrival.

June's Reading List

In the Lake of the Woods Tim O'Brien (John's wife Kath disappears while on vacation after loosing a election. Did the mentally unstable ex-politician do her in? Some very unsettling and true descriptions of the Vietnam War.)

The Girl with the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson (Lisbeth helps Blomkvist solve a cold case and revenge some wrong doing.)

The Help Kathryn Stockett (Skeeter interviews women who serve as maids in the post Civil Rights South.)

The White Queen Philippa Gregory (Historical novel about the War of the Roses.)

Dead to the World Charlaine Harris ( Sookie Stackhouse Series #4 Sookie hides Eric and helps him regain is memory.)

In The Woods Tana French (Man obsessed with disappearance of two friends while they all played in the woods as children.)

The Maze Catherine Coulter (Serial killer makes women run through a maze.)

Death of a Cad M.C. Beaton (Modern Scottish murder mystery.)

Emma Jane Austin

Dying for Chocolate Mott Davidson (Culinary mystery)

Crowing Glory of Calla Lily Ponder Rebecca Wells (Calla follows in her mother's footsteps becoming a beautician in a small town)

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind Ann B. Ross (Widowed matron discovers that her husband led a double life while minister strives to lay paws on her money.)

The Girl Who Chased the Moon Sarah Addison Alan (A girl moves in with her reclusive giant father. Unusual friendships, Bar-B-Que, and magic develops.)

Friday Night Knitting Club Kate Jacobs (Georgia deals with her ex while managing a successful knitting shop.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Assembling the Zipper Unit of the Diva Purse

Here are the steps to making the zipper unit for the Diva Purse.
Start with you six zipper strips.
2 main fabric, 2 lining, 2 fusible batting

Fuse batting to main fabric backs.

Line up zipper, face down, on right side of main fabric.

Baste and then sew using zipper foot.

Right sides together, sew the lining onto the zipper and main fabric piece.

Turn, press, and top stitch.

Lay zipper face down on edge of other strip. Baste. Opening the zipper made it easier.

Now sew on lining piece right sides together.

Turn and top stitch.

The zipper unit now looks like this.
Sew back and forth over zipper to keep the pull from coming off when you cut it off and unzip it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Veggie Pita Taco Recipe

Veggie Pita Taco Recipe

This is so much better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it is original but...

Failure Then Success

The South Beach Diet was a disaster for me. I didn't even last one day which made me feel very disappointed in myself and so kind of gave up the idea of dieting at all. BUT after returning from Oregon and weighing in (I thought I'd lost weigh there but NO) I decided that even though I'm still not considered overweight, I'd better do something before it was too late! Luckily for me and quite by accident I stumbled upon the SparksPeople site. Wow! What a great place to keep you on track. It generates meal suggestions, groceries list, and exercise program. It tracks your progress and motivates by awarding points. Plus it's FREE! What more could I ask for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

After All These Years

It was fifty-two years ago when Robin and I exited the 8th grade at Campbell Hall and went on to high school. Then this year because of my Flickr account we reunited over the internet. She continues to live in California while I now reside in Texas, but we physically met in Oregon for the Shakespearian festival. Our friendship continued like it had never had such an incredibility gap. Who would of thought this would have happened when we were snobbish little pre-teens reading Shakespeare and looking down our noses at the "less intelligent" folks of the world? Robin said she was going to be a lawyer and sure enough she is, practicing family law and fighting for the rights of the poor. As I'm writing this she is in Detroit helping the unemployed auto workers. After returning home from Oregon she won an important case that saved a child from a drug addicted parent and her battle continues... Wow! While we were together she spent most of her time preparing briefs, reviewing cases, and communicating with clients. I read novels, took walks, played with her dog, Buddy, and hung out with a friend who drove up from California. In a situation like this, one has to start evaluating the importance of one's life.

Gardening Notes: Planted two Vitrex Chaste trees and pruned some of the oak limbs hanging over my deck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taking the Dare

It seemed like a good idea yesterday when some of us were discussing how hard some diets were. Then someone said, "Well, you can do anything for a couple of weeks." I think that someone was me, and before I knew it I had been challenged to stay on the South Beach Diet for a week. Yuck! There goes all the things I like to eat like fruit and scones and sandwiches. So here was my breakfast: vegetable juice with a mushroom and asparagus omelet. About 268 calories in all. This may be harder than I thought.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


There are still cannons mounted in the turrets of these walls. In Cartagena, I took a cab to the old city and explored on my own. It was filled with the usual vendors selling things you really have no use for, but the city was extremely clean. I visited the home of Saint Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who ministered to the African slaves. It seems that Cartagena was a "hub" for the slave trade. St. Claver's remains are on display in the church which was rather grisly since he does not fit into the category of saints called 'the incorruptibles."

The Panama Canal

What a phenomenal sight! One amazing fact is that over a billion gallons of fresh water is released into the ocean each time a ship passes through the canal. If it weren't for the fact that Panama gets so much rain, there wouldn't be a canal at all. The canal that is under construction will recycle 60% of the water. I took too many pictures to load here, but they are on my Flickr. photo sight if you want to see them all.

Costa Rica

Here I took a tour of a refuge for animals that were confiscated from people trying to smuggle them out of the country illegally. That would be mainly red macaws, but the preserve also had blue macaws, sloths, a tapir, and various other birds. You weren't supposed to interact with the birds because they were hoping to reintroduce them into the wild but as you can see from the pictures the released birds liked hanging with people. A red macaw egg supposedly bring $5000 in the states. I'm wondering if that is really true.


This quiet little village is what the Mexicans hope to turn into the Cancun of the Pacific shore. For now it is just a rather unspoiled, non commercial place. The humidity was extremely heavy here and after buying a box of cough drops at the local farmacia I returned to the ship. Here is probably the place to mention that two days before my trip began I woke up with a horrible sore throat and feeling yucky. There was no way I was missing this trip, sick or otherwise so I was pushing it a bit. My roommate felt ill and went down to "sick bay" where they threatened to put her off the ship if she didn't do what they said which was to have IV's put in and all kinds of anitbiotics; so I wasn't admitting to feeling unwell to anybody.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The people running the turtle preserve watch for turtles coming ashore and laying their eggs. Then they dig up the eggs and move them to the safety of a fenced area where they rebury them, marking the number of eggs and the probable date of hatching. When they hatch they put the baby turtles into sea water for twenty four hours before releasing them into the sea at night. Night because there are less predators to eat them right away. After visiting with the turtles we went boating on a huge lagoon and finished with the botanical gardens at the university. A very enjoyable trip!!


Here is a view of Acapulco from the "elite" area of town. You can see the ship docked at the upper right. We were on our way to a turtle preserve, lagoon trip, and the botanical gardens at Loyola University. Although nobody said anything outright, we had a police guard with us. This seemed rather surprising but who knows what is really going on with the drug lord war.

Cabo San Lucas

We left Los Angeles and headed out to sea. On previous cruises, I'd always had a cheap inside cabin, so the luxury of a cabin with a balcony was delightful and the shower was so big you didn't have to worry about banging your elbows either! This is also the first time I hadn't had an assigned seating and time in the dining room. Wow, that was really great because you got to sit with different folks each time and I met a whole lot of really nice people. Then there was the on board activities which I must admit didn't do much for my ego. I joined every contest and got beaten at chess, ping pong, suduko, and trivia. However, I did manage to throw two small bowls on a pottery wheel and that was really fun. When we reached Cabo, I had arranged for a boat trip to the famous end of the land arch. If I'd only known that the boat was going to dock right by it I could have saved $150. Oh, well, heads up for next time. Cabo was actually my least favorite port: too commercial and too deserty.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Here is what happens when you get sick of hot rollers and you decide to go short!

The Easter services were phenomenal. Here are Sherry and I in between Saturday night performances. Randy Frazee gave a sermon on the rending of the curtain in the temple with fantastic visuals. I had never understood exactly what happened before.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mustang Island

The boys loved this vacation and wanted to come back soon.

Sookie was very happy digging in the sand.

Here was an unexpectedly great place to take children. Unlike Goose Island which was great for fishing but had no beach, the sand was lovely, replete with sea shells, plus the ocean was shallow with minimum waves. In summer the water is bathtub warm, however was quite cold in March. This did not stop the boys from swimming.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Almost St. Patty's Day

Sadly the charity luncheons have ended for the season. However, the last one is our favorite because it is so close to St. Patrick's Day which means there is lots of Irish coffee to be had. We are now on to the plant sale and the shop hop, both of which I'll miss this years because I'll be on a cruise. Snorkling, oh boy!!

Rick mentioned that Jessi signs off her e-mails from school with a note telling what book she is reading. He thought that was pretentious, but Jessi pointed out that it was a good way to encourage reading and since she is an English teacher that it was quite appropriate. I sort of like the idea my self so:

I am reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox

St. Patty's Day, Almost

Sadly, the charity luncheons for this season have drawn to a close. We all made the most of the last one which is my favorite because it's always near St. Patrick's Day and that means lots of Irish coffee.

Yesterday, Rick mentioned that Jessi always closes her e-mails with a note telling what book she is reading. He thought that was pretentious

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flying L Guest Ranch

Austin with his new friend, Buck, who took us out for a hayride, taught Austin how to make s'mores, and sang to us by the camp fire.
We were worried that it would rain and we wouldn't be able to ride, but the day was perfect. After all going riding was the main objective for this trip.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Do not enter your sewing room early in the morning when you are anxious to sew but have to wait for the fabric store to open because you do not like one of your chosen fabrics for a current project. That is what happened to me this morning. The borders for a table runner were not working so I decided to look through my stash just in case there was something I could make work. What I discovered was some blue fabric that I'd completely forgotten and didn't particularly like anymore, but there was a lot of it. Hmmmm? Perfect for napkins. Good idea. I cut six napkins, but then decided that they looked a bit plain. Emblish? Back to the stash and sure enough there was some cat fabric from the last shop hop that could work. Final result is pictured above. One done and five to go!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sometimes It's Wise to Think Twice

Foolish me! The evening was all planned. The boys were coming over, dinner and entertainment was arranged, BUT my daughter had been planning to make a chocolate cheese cake with her oldest son's help for his birthday and she said the magic words: "If I don't have time I'll just buy one." Faster than my brain could anticipate, I heard myself saying, "I'll make the cheesecake with him." Jessi pounced on this like a cat on a lizard. "It's an easy recipe," she assured me. So at five thirty after dinner was cleaned up, Owen and I began. The crust called for a chocolate covered cookie crumb. (I was expecting to make a graham cracker crust.) A rolling pin could not pulverize these babies, so we hauled out the food processor. Owen's eyes bugged out in alarm when he pressed the pulse button, not being prepared for the horrendous crunching noise. Meanwhile his brothers were watching a Ninja Turtle movie, and he was torn between the dubious delight of helping make cheesecake and watching the action on the screen which he could see from his vantage point in the kitchen.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked hopefully.

"Oh, yes," he said with his eyes on the television.

So we melted the butter, added it to the crumbs from the food processor, patted them into the springform pan, and popped it into the oven.

"Now what?" Owen asked.

"We clean up and get ready for the next step," I say.

Valiantly, Owen started toward the sink with eyes yearning for those Ninja Turtles.

"I'll do the clean up," I say taking pity on his plight. "Go watch the movie."

Off he darted to settle himself beside Ezra on the floor with their heads on Sookie's stuffed frog. It is their favorite position for watching movies. I proceeded to clean up and set things out for the next round. The crust had to cool completely before filling so there was not much hurry.

"Call me when you need me," Owen calls.

Now the recipe has you melting chocolate and beating cream cheese more or less at the same time so I get out the hand mixer and double boiler. After the crust comes out of the oven and cools, I call Owen for the next steps. He comes at his usual dashing speed. Now I'm concerned that his fascination with the Turtles will cause him injury while I'm showing him how to tend the melting chocolate on the stove, so I tell him of my grade school friend who had pulled a pot of boiling water onto herself and been badly scarred. He seems impervious to this story. The chocolate melts slowly and he is impatient but the hand mixer catches his attention and he revels in the power of beating the eggs into cream cheese.

"Are we finished?" he asked as a battle begins on the television.

"No, this is the fun part," I tell him and we pour the different mixtures into the cooled crust.

Sensing bowls to lick, Ezra and Austin appear briefly to watch the proceedings but the pull of the Ninjas is too strong and they return to the movie. The cheesecake is put back into the oven and Owen is returning to the movie when I say perversely, "Wait, we have to clean up." Now in all fairness to Owen, he began carrying dishes to the sink without a moment's hesitation. "Just kidding," I told him, "go watch the movie, I'll do this."

It is now late and the boys have been in bed for awhile. The cheesecake is out, but can't be refrigerated until it has completely cooled. Sookie has gone to bed in disgust, and I am hoping that this cake will taste as good as all the work that went into it.

This has been an evening that I will always remember with joy and an occasional growl!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thimbleberries in January

What a charming surprise when Jessi and I went to our first Thimbleberries class expecting to just do a block and go home. Not... Our teacher, Glinda, informed us that we would be doing an extra project each month. This month was to make a name tag using a Dresden Plate pattern. Now I've seen this and never thought it was within my ability, but the construction was not that difficult and now I'm totally in love with this pattern.

Sookie update: Although she is asleep on my foot right now, Rita brought her some rawhide bones from Maryland and she loves them so much that she won't even let them go when she goes out to potty.