Saturday, September 25, 2010

Autumn Things and a Craft

Well, it has begun. I noticed the first changing colors about two weeks ago. We've had a pretty dry summer so I'm not sure how our colors will be this year but no need to panic as here in my Zone 6 neck of the woods our peek colors are usually not until mid-October.

Last year's colors were simply fantastic. All the elements were just right- plenty of rain, cool nights, and warm sunny days.

I have this scenario in my mind. I imagine somebody sitting on their back patio one fall day basking in the beauty of autumn sunshine and color. Maybe some maple leaves blew past and caught on the leg of their chair. Maybe this person picked up some leaves and turned them over in their hands, noting the colors, the texture, and, if it was me, even the smell. Perhaps our observer friend was struck by the symmetry of the maple leaf and folded it in half, just to see. Then a fold in another direction, then another. Then an idea began to come together as our nature observer looked out over the late season garden at the crinkled and fading blossoms. Next thing you know...

... a beautiful maple leaf rose bouquet. It could have happened that way. Jump over to for a peak at how you can make these lovely roses. Can't you just imagine them on a beautiful Thanksgiving table?

Early Autumn
by rogiro via Flickr
 I have to make a confession. I just haven't felt like blogging the past couple of weeks. Well, that's not so much true either. I have lots of ideas and topics I would love to share with you but school started again and we've also been having adventures. Unfortunately, not the fun kind. We have house maintenance issues, work schedule issues, crowded calendar issues. We have elderly pet issues and disappointing change of plan issues. So there's been a great deal of hub-bub and very little time.

Growing Up Alone
by Clay Carson via Flickr

So when I have the chance, I've been holing up alone with a book. OK, that's pretty normal for me, but somehow lately it's more of an escape need than a pleasure pursuit. Usually when I go upstairs for the night to read, I tell my family, "I'm off to so-and-so" depending upon what I've got my nose in: China's shooting of Tibetan refugees in the Himalayas, a Cambodian girl's escape from slavery, history of the Vikings, Marco Polo's travels on the silk road, life in an English village in 1066, explorations on the Amazonian River basin.... oh there's so much to learn about.

I'm reading Sea of Glory by Nathaniel Philbrick about the United States Exploring Expedition during the mid-1800's. It was America's voyage of discovery and the Ex. Ex. opened up the Pacific more than any other exploration. It's fascinating American history and a great escape. Tonight we sail into the Fiji Islands after several grueling weeks along the Antarctic coast.

So go see the beautiful maple leaf rose tutorial and I'll meet you back here in a couple of days.

And what will you be reading tonight?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Buzzard Sunday

Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time and if you're really lucky you have your camera with you.

Our home is on a "mostly straight" stretch of road in a rural area. Vehicles tend to travel much faster than they should. And because we are in a rural area we have tons of deer. Both ends of our property road frontage as well as a couple of places in between have heavily travelled deer crossings. This summer alone there have been three deer killed out front and countless near misses. One Sunday morning, about 1:30am, we heard an all too familiar screech and a thump. No people were hurt but the deer did not have such luck. By the time we got home from church that afternoon, there were thirty-five turkey vultures meandering around across the road. It was fascinating. There were twenty-four vultures in the old cemetery across the road, though this photo only shows eighteen.These vultures are exhibiting a behavior called the Horaltic Pose, thought to dry their wings, warm their bodies (even though it was 95 degrees that day), and bake off bacteria from the head and legs. We won't go into details.

I tried to walk up the hill behind them to get some shots of the vultures against the dark sky of an approaching storm but being generally non-aggressive, almost shy, they all flew off except for one.

It was a very hot, oppressive day with that suffocating heaviness that descends upon you and just before the storm front rolls in over the hill you start to sweat like mad. I mean, the sweat just starts squirting out of your pores.

I went up on top of the hill to get storm cloud pictures, lifting my Sunday skirt and straddling the bank in my sandals. Then, without even one warning drop, I was caught in a massive downpour. By the time I ran down the hill and reached the house it was over.

A minute later the sun and blue skies were reappearing. That was the end of our fierce summer storms and the beginning our our long, dry, blasting hot weather.

Buzzard Sunday. That's how I think of that day. I wanted to share the first photo with you before we got too close to Halloween. There aren't too many things I'm squeamish about and to me, Buzzard Sunday was not at all creepy though I can understand how some people would not find the whole thing as fascinating as I did. I just don't want Buzzard Sunday to be a Halloween thing.

No, I think of Buzzard Sunday as an opportunity to see how our natural world works. Suspend your preconceptions about turkey vultures and google them. I bet you'll find some surprises and a new, even if only a tiny, appreciation for buzzards. True, the way they are physically and behaviorally is kind of "rough" but it's a function of the way they live and makes perfect sense. Form follows function in their design.

The coolest thing about buzzards? They soar.

It's like God decreed, "You're a buzzard. OK, sorry about that but we needed one. Let me make it up to you. You can soar."

Vultures spend the vast majority of their day soaring, wings out, tipping a bit here, flapping once in a great while. They read the air and they soar as naturally as you and I breath. Free. I don't know- I'm not a big meat eater but maybe ....

Have you had a fascinating encounter with our natural world?

Monday, September 13, 2010


124/365:DouBloons a plenty...
by Tasayu Tasnaphun via Flickr
It's been a busy week with a crazy work schedule and the next few weeks look about the same. Even though I didn't get to any posts or fun projects this past week, I did manage to uncover some treasure.

black opal, diamonds and rubies set in gold brooch
by opacity via Flickr

I recently saw a collection of photos of the spaces where people blog. My first reaction to the group of photos as a whole was, with all due respect, "Yea, right. And before you cleaned up to take the pic?" Anyway, I looked around my spot here and thought that maybe I don't need so much stuff in random piles on the desk. And the floor. And the piano stool. And the ... well, you get the idea. So I finally got around to tackling the big ol' former computer hutch that now warehouses my stuff. I'm sure it will be a blog post someday- when I'm done- and it really isn't the point here. The point is, that's where I found the treasures.

They were behind a row of manuals and books, tucked neatly away (OK, at least something was neat) for safekeeping. Most items were in a couple boxes, some were just stacked there as though they were completely without value.

The first box used to hold colostomy bags. I know, I don't have a colostomy but it was a nice sturdy box at the time and it was what I needed. It's traveled many miles over the years and it showing it's wear and tear. But what about the treasures?

My diary, circa the middle school years. That's my daughter's age now and it was a nice flashback that refreshed my thinking about having a Tween in the house. It contains all the important information about which boys were cute, which teachers were ridunkulous, who had a crush on whom..... you know, important stuff.

I could share a page with you but then I would have to kill ya.

Next came The Bundle, the stack of letters from my first love. No, there's no ribbon embracing them and no, I didn't read them. This fine man has since passed away and it's just too bitter-sweet. I love my husband without reservation but you know how it is- your first love has that special place.

Next up- a Marine Band harmonica. I think it started out as my brother's but in a big family things float around. And yes, just for the record, I did play it and yes, I can still rip it up. Well, Oh Susanna, at least.

Last in the box, this magazine photo a dear friend gave to me. We were full of teenage angst and this picture somehow seemed so meaningful and significant to us. I'm still in touch with this friend and cherish her deeply. Now we have middle-life angst.

So on to the next box and a whole new and different phase of life.

A plain white cigar style school box. Probably from a craft store. And the loot?

The little hat the hospital gave us to keep my girl's noggin' warm her first days of life on the outside.

And the shirt.

A sweet tiny little locket my mom got for my daughter on her first Christmas "because every girl should have a locket."

This precious sun hat with Lilly-of-the-Valley embroidered on the brim.

This precious tiny book, illustrated by Michel Bernstein, that I got for my girl. Each left-hand page is text, each right-hand page is a darling illustration. I'm not a sweet-sy kind of gal but this was too precious to resist. The text reads:

Child of the moon, child of the sun,
child of a lifetime of laughter and fun...
Whispers so soft, fingers so tight,
butterfly kisses, lullabies light.
Cherished traditions, memories unfurled,
miniature friends in a growing up world.
Family surrounding, home filled with love,
Heavenly blessing sent down from above.
Learning to listen, learning to care,
learning to give, and especially to share.
Hope for the future, dreams coming true,
beautiful baby,
beautiful you.

 Gulp, sniffle, sigh.


My grandpa used to be a rock hound and we have several pieces of jewelry that he made from his finds. This turquoise baby bracelet is his handiwork and if I'm remembering correctly, he made one for each of us girls.


This was my favorite bracelet when I was a kid. It's very inexpensive and is missing two sets of the "pearl" tassels. I used to sit in church and move the tassels around on the chain. No wonder they have gone missing. I remember feeling so sophisticated wearing this because cameos, after all, are classic.

My daughter and I used to read three things at bed time: a story book, a Bible story, and So Many Bunnies.
We used to have it memorized and would recite it in the car on our long commute:

1 was named Able, he slept on the table,
2 was named Blair, she slept in a chair,
3 was named Carol, she slept in a barrel.

All the way to Zed on the shed.

And finally- oddly- in amongst the baby memories, a couple of my band medals. My East Texas high school band wore wool, military style band uniforms. Yes, they were incredibly hot on those muggy evenings but they sure looked neat with rows of medals pinned to the front, with all the different colored ribbons and the clinking medals....  I was a pretty good trumpet player in my day and had a few medals but these are all I seem to have left.

So it was fun to look through all of the newly discovered treasures, reminisce a bit, sigh some, giggle to myself, read So Many Bunnies.

Then I drove to the school to pick up my best and silliest treasure.

It's been very fun reminscing with you today.

Have you found any treasures lately?
Won't you share their story?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Grilled Angel Food Cake with Fruit Salsa

OK- while we have the grill fired up for the Labor Day weekend, let's make this totally awesome dessert. Super easy-easy (my favorite kind) and delicious. There's a whole lot going on in your mouth when you eat this so get ready ....

Angel food cake, made according to directions
                  Pound cake can be used instead but isn't nearly as good. That's just a personal opinion for free.


1 cup cantaloupe
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, maybe less if certain people at your house dislike spiciness

Sherbet or sorbet. We like lime sherbet.

Chop up the cantaloupe so that the pieces are fairly small. The first time I made this I thought that the cantaloupe should be omitted but it works way better when you chop it into small pieces. It's a flavor addition that makes your taste buds say, "Oh really!!"

Chop up the strawberries, rinse the rest of the fruit and add to the bowl with the cantaloupe. Add the sugar, lime juice, mint, and cayenne pepper. Mix it all up and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

When you're ready to eat dessert--

Heat the grill to "medium temperature".

Cover your grill racks with foil (you don't need hot dog flavor with this).

Spray with cooking spray and melt some butter on the foil.

Grill slices of cake until golden brown on each side. Careful, it doesn't take too long and once it starts to burn it will do so fairly quickly. That little gem of wisdom brought to you by trial and error.

Once the cake is toasty golden, serve each piece with a heap of the fruit salsa and a scoop of sherbet. Seriously- a whole lotta flavor and texture happening in your mouth.

It also works well to soak up the salsa juices with pieces of cake, kind of like dip.

Hope you enjoy this recipe, which comes from, as much as we do.

Have a great grillin' day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Big Gas Beans

Sunday Picnic
By Su-Lin via Flickr Creative Commons

Labor Day, the unofficial last weekend of summer, is almost upon us. Here's our chance to throw that last big cookout before fall starts to nudge in on our warm weather fun. I had to get the very lovely picnic photo above from Flickr (why don't my picnics look that cute?) as it turns out that the only cookout photos I have document last spring's demise of our wedding present grill.

Ah-h, good times... good times...

Did you know that it is possible to can tomato juice and cook a turkey on a grill? When we first moved into our house, we worked on the kitchen remodel for "several" months. The grill was our temporary cooking appliance. Since then, we've continued to give her a work-out and grill year round, even in the snow. Needless to say that after 15 years of heavy use, it was good to see her go out in flames of glory. The tricky part was getting the propane tank unhooked before total annihilation of the back patio. Daddy got a new grill for Father's Day last year.
Anyway, time to get the grill fired up for this weekend's festivities with all the usual grillin' suspects. Also on the menu, baked beans. But oh, not just any beans.

Big Gas Beans
Big Gas Beans.

Not to be consumed in close proximity to exploding grills. Well, truth is, I don't know if these beans are any more gaseous than the next- I think it's us. Too much info? At any rate, this is a very unscientific recipe as I have never measured the ingredients. I use the same bean proportions but the rest of the ingredients are added "free style."


The beans:
28 ounce can of baked beans (I use vegetarian)
15 ounce can of black beans
15 ounce can of dark kidney beans

Drain the beans but don't rinse them.

In a pan that will eventually accommodate all of the ingredients, cook the black beans first. Add to the black beans:


Picante Sauce (it really should be Pace brand 'cause, you know, yummy)- about 3 tablespoons
Cumin- oh, say 2 teaspoons
Cilantro leaves- 3 teaspoons, but fresh is way better than dried
Onions (not shown)- dried, minced or fresh- I like bunches so just go by what looks right to you


Once the black beans are nice and hot, add the kidney beans and the baked beans plus-

BBQ sauce of your choice- oh, maybe 1/3 cup
Mustard- a squirt
Molasses- 1 tablespoon
Hickory seasoning Liquid Smoke- 1 teaspoon
Brown sugar (not pictured above, sorry)- 1 tablespoon

I know the amounts are vague- it looks sort of like this in the pan---


Cook it all up until everything is heated thoroughly.


And just so you know--- Big Gas Beans are excellent served on a nice whole wheat bun. Equally yummy- served cold on a bun the next day. That's what kind of folks we are.

Hey- have a great weekend and keep an eye on the grill.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Photo Challenge- Orange

I issued myself another photo challenge a couple of weeks ago. At the time it seemed that selecting the color orange would be a tricky task but turns out not so much.


The parameters of this challenge were simple. One- the subject had to be orange. Two- and here's where it got fun at times- I couldn't touch the object to photograph it. I could move over, under, and around it. I could change the settings on my camera ad infinitum. I could wait for the shadows to move or come back later when the light changed but I couldn't turn on or off any lights.  I could go prowling around the house or countryside looking for my friend Orange, but the object had to be photographed where and as I found it. No touching. In situ.

Glue Caps

Some of the pictures included here were taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iphone but the same rules applied.


I've been undertaking these little self-assigned exercises for a couple of reasons. First, I hope to teach my mind and my eye to "see like a photographer". OK- ha!ha! I'm so far from being an actual photographer that it makes me feel like such a fake to even say that. But it's good to have dreams. Second, it gives me a chance to play around with my camera and to learn some of the technical aspects of photography. Third, it makes me look at the world, not just to find a picture, but to see the world as it is around me. There are so many shapes and colors and sizes in our world. Sometimes we miss a funny juxtaposition or a small beauty because we're rushing off to the next thing on our list.


I finally had to end this challenge as it turns out there it a great deal more of the color orange in the world than I originally suspected. But after spending some time with Orange, we've become friends and I'm glad we have plenty of Orange for everyone.

File Folder1

Great Grandma's Quilt

39 Clues

Paper Lantern

Feather Boa

Ou Sok Eng's bookmark

2007 Mustange
I almost fainted when I saw this 2007 Mustang. I had to stop photographing it because I was falling in love.


Pumpkin Blossom

Book Shelf
Go look on your bookshelf. There are tons of books with an orange spine.



Nail Polish


I hope you have enjoyed my little tour of Orange. I did have an unfortunate incident while transferring photos from my phone so some really cool Hipstamatic pics are gone forever. Pouf- into cyber-oblivion.

I'm going to put on my thinking cap for the next photo challenge. If you are interested in playing along, drop a comment here and I'll let you know.

Thanks for coming over today-
hope to see you again.