Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter brings 'hope'...

Happy Easter!

There's something wonderful about Easter... spiritually as well as physically.  Easter brings *hope*... hope for a better world, hope for a new beginning, hope for a new better tomorrow (and on a more personal note - hope that if we keep trying, one day we'll get it right).  

Emily Dickinson's poem about Hope is one of my favorites:

"Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all.

And sweetest in the gale is heard,
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
that kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
and on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me."

And on a lighter note... Easter brings families together for services, gatherings, food, and candy! Easter Egg Hunts are great fun! Watching the kiddies run around in the green grass (or snow as the case may be) looking for brightly colored eggs, Spring flowers in abundance (although since Easter is a bit early and winter still hanging on, flowers are a bit scarce this year), new life and Chocolate Bunnies!!  What a wonderful world!

Don't mean to be too Pollyanna about it, I do know that life is hard and some people (here and in other countries) are in extreme difficulty, but I do believe that our attitude and perceptions and inner beliefs can help alter lives and re-activate hope.  The other poem/saying (?) that runs through my head almost daily is "The world is so full of wonderful things... you'd think that we'd all be as happy as kings."

We're having an odd Easter dinner.  DH and I love stuffed artichokes and we don't get them often. His mother (who is 95) made them for us in years past in New Orleans. So since Central Market had some beautiful ones this week, I decided to stuff one for us.  If any of you are interested in stuffing your own, I kind of did a 'picture commentary' on how it's done (pretty simple really).  

Remove pointy tops of leaves

Assemble ingredients:

bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, olive oil (salt and pepper optional)

 Spoon stuffing into leaves...

close up of stuffed artichoke

Steam in covered pot until leaves come off easily (about 45 -60 mins)

and then:
we'll have manicotti, salad,


Buttermilk pie

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jack and the bunny parade...

Jack is feeling much better today...

As you can see, Jack is feeling like his ol' self again... playing with his bunny.  While I watched him play, I thought that maybe I would do a bunny post - similar to the Christmas Elf that pops up everywhere!  So here are a few shots of the pop-up bunny!

Bunny joins Elephant Bank on shelf...

Bunny hops into Clay Bird House...

Bunny slips over to window sill...

Another bunny gets into the game...

and another !

OK... he's not a bunny, but Finky wanted to play too!

Happy Easter Saturday to all!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

chess board nearing completion

Clay tiles drying slowly...

just another view...
Once the tiles have dried, I can sand them down a bit more, then give them 3 coats of underglaze before firing to bisque. Hopefully the tiles won't shrink too much in the first firing. Today I was putting it all together to see if the pieces  fit together.  They did... more or less... not perfect, but then hand sculpted is never perfect. As for color, I'm *thinking* black and rust for the square tiles and then maybe using 4 strips of a stained wood around the sides. Again, it's a work in progress and I tend to change my mind as it goes along.  However, I'm pretty certain that I'll stay with earth-tones.

There's nothing else going on around here today. I've still a few last minute Easter things to do... oh, and Jack  had an 'episode' yesterday. He hasn't had any in a long time, but it lasted most of yesterday evening. Seems to be over now.  It's a long story about Jack's condition... one I don't want to go into today. But he has been on Rx Prednisolone for years. It's not good to stay on steroids for this long, but according to the Vet, it's all that is keeping him going. However, I believe that it's the steroids that cause these 'episodes'.  They seem to be neurological... he gets jumpy and twitchy and his eyes are frightened, ears back.... like he's having hallucinations. He'll run and hide or jump into our laps, etc. Occasionally he'll lose control of his bladder. He's such a wonderful cat, it's hard to see him go through this.  Hopefully this one is over and done with.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

a chicken pot pie (again) and new bunny...

Chicken Pot Pie (again)

New kitchen bunny on hot hob

Close up of new wood bunny

OK, I made another chicken pot pie.  The original one I had made some time back looked good, but because the recipe called for everything to be basically cooked in the pie, we weren't happy with the veggies as they weren't cooked enough for us.  So-oo this time I cooked the potatoes, onions, carrots, and green beans first and then added everything into the pie at the end.... much better. Also better because I added a bit more seasoning as well as about 2oz of white wine. Much better!  (Even grandson had 2 pieces)

And this little wooden bunny was at Jo-ann's (fabric shop where I ran to get some yarn) for 60% off, so I couldn't resist. He makes a cute 'kitchen bunny', don't you think?

This is the crochet hat  made with the yarn I bought at Jo-ann's.  As you can see, it's way to big for me... but looks cute on bear. I will try to make a smaller version using less bulky yarn. However, it was my first attempt at crocheting a hat and the pattern was easy to follow.

Now I really have to run as I should be in Yoga class right now, but am playing hooky so that I can do some Easter shopping before the weekend.

Wait! Wait! one more pic!

Brisingr from Christopher Paolini's Eragon series

Sunday, March 24, 2013

bunnies, cups, dragons, and scones...

Here are a few of my cups in the cup cupboard.  And of course a few bunnies hopped in for the shots...

These little Beatrix Potters were bought in England and the Mama duck always reminds me of my 'Odd Little Duck' story...

These little buggers I made when my kids were small...

This is my favorite David Winter piece. I think it's called, "Looking for George".

Chocolate Pecan Espresso Cinnamon Scones

It's Sunday morning and I made scones for breakfast.  I always *tweak* my scone recipes and this time I added brown sugar, espresso powder and cinnamon to the chocolate and pecans (also extra vanilla). They are yummy!

Yesterday we celebrated my youngest grandson's 6th birthday. We went to a place called The Main Event and we all bowled.  I haven't bowled in years.... and believe it or not, I did pretty well. We bowled, ate, drank, and passed Aoife (4 month old grand daughter) around. I think she rather liked all the activity.   Didn't fuss at all. Then we came home and had pizza and a soccer decorated cupcake birthday cake!  Later that evening I made hamburgers and youngest grandson honored me with a ("these are good!").  He is not a big eater... except maybe for pizza and corny dogs.

So... the weekend is progressing well. The weather here is cold (39) and sunny... a bit cold for my taste, but at least the sun is out.  I hope to get a chicken pot pie made for this evening and my computer room cleaned up before tomorrow. I had to take home all my clay tiles (for the chess board) to sand them down and let them dry during spring break. This last week was Spring Break for us.

Oh, BTW, I got to go to the DMA (Dallas Museum of Art) this past Thursday.  We also visited the Nasher Sculpture Garden.  My friend who is an Art Major took me.  I think she and our Instructor decided that I need some Art Appreciation Instruction.  All my art is 'self learned'... since I was in the Sciences in college. So, outside of the fact that I enjoy creating in the art field, I have no 'formal knowledge' of it.  It was 'interesting'.  The exhibit was *Chagall* and I will admit that I had a hard time 'appreciating' it... but the outing was fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Playing around with sketches...

Trumen meets Penelope

I like ephelants...


At one time I thought I'd like to write a children's story about Truman and Penelope...

and a duckling?

But I never got around to it. I have so many stories, poems, and sketches packed away in boxes. One day my kids will go through it all and throw most of it out. This is OK. Maybe they will keep a few for keepsakes.  They already know how much enjoyment doing this type of thing brings me.

There is a saying that I love. It means a lot to me and I've probably brought it up before, but I would write it, cross-stitch it, engrave it, etc. on everything... if I thought it would mean as much to anyone else. But we're funny that way, what appeals to one of us may mean absolutely nothing to another. Anyway, here it is:

"Beyond the gloom of this world lies joy....  take joy!" 
(Such a simple thing)

I'm also going to direct you to one of my children's stories, "The Odd Little Duck".  Out of all the ones that have cavorted through my mind, this one is still my favorite.  Click here if you'd like to read it. And I won't be offended if you don't.  Everyone does not like to read children's stories.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

a St. Patrick's Day setting...

Happy St. Patrick's Day !

Went walking around my house looking for something that might seem like a St. Patrick's Day photo.  Found a few "Irish" looking things...

Our family name is "O'Regan/Regan".  Yes, we are Irish Catholic.  The basic story is that my great grandfather was from Ireland and moved his family to England at some point where my grandfather (William Edward Regan) grew up and married an English lady (my grandmother, Eleanor Fredericka King). Grandpa William moved his wife and children to the US around 1918. His brother Richard moved his family to Canada. The name on the Ellis Island Ship records is "Regan", but my dad later re-took "O'Regan" when he became a US citizen.  So (long story short...) my maiden name is "O'Regan".  I've tried to use and can follow the family line pretty well back  into England, but haven't had much luck getting info from Ireland...

My dad met my mom  in New Orleans. She was 19 and he was 27.  My mom's parents (Pe'pe're and Me'mere') spoke mostly French in the house in New Orleans and seemed to like this Irish/Englishman  (my dad). Mom thought him too old for her at first... but he eventually won her over. They were married for 47 years when my dad passed at 75.  When mom turned 80, she moved in with us here in Texas.  DH and I  have never lived in Louisiana after graduating from college, so it was nice having her to ourselves. She passed at 94.

I'm not sure why I wrote all this.  It was just supposed to be a few pictures for St. Patrick's day...

And truth be told, except for Pe'pe're (who died when I was about 8), I never knew my other grandparents. Pe'pe're was the sweetest gentlest  man I ever knew.  He reminded me of Maurice Chevalier (most of you may be too young to remember him - did you see the movie, "Gigi"? ) And my Grandpa William... oh, the stories I've heard.  He did a little of everything in his life, from fighting in the Boer's War, mining for gold, Captain of a gunboat on the Persian Gulf, etc.  I think he would have been fun to listen to.

But I digress.  I really just wanted to say Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

an eclectic assortment...

Here is Grandson sitting on elephant sculpture at Zoo. He *smirks* in his pictures just like I do...
Favorite teapot

I'm reflected taking photo, but it looks like I'm locked inside... ???

quilt  friend made for my study

It is Tuesday and I should be at Yoga right now, but my back is giving me a little twinge... so I played hooky. Instead I stayed home and took some pictures from around the house. Nothing mind boggling, but the way the reflection came out in the cabinet shot surprised me. You might need to make it larger to see my arm. It looks like I'm inside trying to get out. Unexpected fun shot!

This was just an 'around the house' snapshot... but look closely and laugh

Monday, March 11, 2013

Family weekend at the Zoo...

 giraffes would let you feed them lettuce

giraffes, zebras, and  deer or gazelle can be all together on the savanna

enjoying the sun

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days, but daughter and grand daughter came in for the weekend and the whole crew of us (6 adults and 4 kids) spent a fun weekend playing with new addition (grand daughter who is 3 months old now and seemed to really enjoy all the people around her). Sunday we all took off for the Dallas Zoo. It was a little chilly, but when the sun came out, it was comfortable.  I took beaucoup pictures on my iPhone, but will have to download (or upload?) them sometime today. But here are a few taken in the new addition, *the African Savanna*.

For the moment, I'm just checking in as there was no computer time this weekend with everyone here. It was pizza night Saturday night and we got home in time from the zoo for me to make chicken enchiladas Sunday night. This morning they all took off for the hill country as the kids are on Spring Break. I still have classes this week (my Spring Break is next week, but we don't plan to go anywhere). And this morning I have to be at class, so this will be short.  Hopefully, this afternoon I will be able to catch up reading  the weekend's blogs... and commenting.

My grand daughter (who is 11) put *pininterest*? on my iPhone.  I've heard of it, but had never checked it out. Now I will...

Happy Monday to all!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

bunny, warm boots, and an unfinished chess board...

Put out a few Easter things yesterday.  This bunny puppet I found a few years ago when I was shopping for grand daughter's Easter gift.  She ended up with a really fabulous puppet turtle (wish I had a picture, but don't).  I couldn't decide whether to get her the bunny or the turtle (both were adorable) until my friend came up with the solution. Get the turtle for her and the bunny for you. Isn't that just like a friend, perfect solution!

warm boots, hat, gloves, and travel journal

Beginning to get my act together.  Have spoken to a few people who have taken this Alaskan cruise and  feel a little more 'into it'.  I even called my cell phone company and asked them if there would be any extra charges for using my iPhone in Alaska. I was told that since it was part of the US, there shouldn't be any problem. The rep did tell me that I could be charged extra if I used it outside of the US (such as Vancouver, BC) or if we are out in International waters. The way to avoid this I was told is to either turn the phone off when not in the US or put it on 'airplane mode'. She also thought that the phone may alert me to this fact.

Also today was the critique on the chess boards. They are not finished, but we had to show our work so far and explain the concept behind it. So far I have the 4 (10x10) bases made. I've rolled out the slab to start on the tiles - but 64 (2x2) tiles may take me a while.  I'll keep you updated.

Slate kids gave us hanging in kitchen

Was looking through some of my old poetry books to find a particular poem and got lost in it.  I love poetry... (now, not all poetry mind you... like all art forms, it's very subjective. Some speak to you while others don't.)  But I came across this illustration that I liked and thought I'd post it.

illustration in one of Emily Dickinson's children's poetry books

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears the human soul!

                      - Emily Dickinson

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Alaskan Cruise... and teddy bears

Squiggles, Grand daughter's squirrel

I'm beginning to think about this Alaskan Cruise coming up in April. If any of you have experience with this particular type of vacation, I would definitely appreciate any input... as to what to bring, things to consider, etc.

DH and the boys will be home to take care of the cats.  My friend and I will fly to Seattle, take a train to Vancouver - where we will have one day to visit before the Carnival Cruise Ship sails.  Yes, it is Carnival Cruise Lines.  Does that make me nervous... a little?

Things I'm concerned about:

1. The cold.
2. Seasickness
3. Incident at sea

Things I'm excited about:

1. Seeing Vancouver
2. Sharing my friend's 'dream trip'.

Teddy bear (for Dee to see)

Recently Dee at One Foot Out of the Box posted a blog about having a teddy bear.  I commented that I had one too. DH gave it to me when we were dating in college at LSU Baton Rouge.... and it's sat in our bedroom for 45 years now. Does Teddy look that old?  (He doesn't, but we do... oh well)  He is great for cuddling, but I find that the cats have taken over in the comforting department. They are great for that... and seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when comfort is needed.

Have to put this *teatime* picture up here.  I found it on another website just recently and hope she won't mind my sharing it.  It was just too cute...

found at Deb's blog