Wednesday, January 30, 2013

creative endeavors...

DH's ship in progress

Have I ever mentioned that DH builds ships? Can't remember. Well, he does.  It's a pretty neat hobby and he's done it for a long time. Now of course since he's retired, he has more time for it. We have always had at least 4 - 6 ships (sometimes in various stages) throughout the house. My daughter has one at her place and the kids destroyed a really large one years ago with a soccer ball.  We have two in glass cases.  DH likes building ships and putting together large (3000 piece) puzzles.  We have several of these  framed on the walls upstairs.

close up

Couldn't think of anything to blog about this afternoon. So, hope you enjoyed these photos of DH's hobby.

As for our pottery project, I've just started working on *chess pieces*.  Haven't decided on anything for sure yet, but may do a 'cat themed' chess set... with a cat king and queen... and I don't know, maybe birdhouses for the pawns, scratch post for the rooks, etc.???? Here's a picture of my first quick sculpt for a cat queen. It's hard to tell as it's only a little over an inch (maybe and inch and a half) square - but I didn't want to use crowns.  However, she is laying on  a pillow and the pieces will be on a base. Thinking that its difficult to sculpt so small that I will use the 'gesture' method... quick study that implies movement. I think that's the term.

All suggestions are welcome!  Criticism too...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

kittens and chess sets...

I recently posted an old photo of my now almost 12 year old grand daughter taking home one of the kittens we took in (our original 5) when she was 3.  Came across this one today where she was playing with the whole group.  My daughter kept telling her that they were not taking any of them home... until the little 'Siamese looking one' (in the foreground) climbed up and over that baby gate when she was saying goodbye and onto her shoulder. Yep, that's the one that went home with her. They are all still with us (except the grey tabby who got out of my son's house and disappeared a few years ago). And Cocoa (that's what she named him) still sleeps with her.

OK... my pottery/ceramics class has now started for Spring 2013.  Our main project this semester is to make chess sets.  My first thought was... "Really? chess sets?" Now it's not that I don't like Chess (actually I'm not a game person). But as games go, Chess is interesting.  But for me the interest is in its fascinating pieces - not the game strategy. I mean, seriously, some chess sets are *art*. 

Next subject:   If you read my last entry on my other blog, "Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate", you know that I was recently approached by someone who wants to use my "7 cats in a bed" photo on a brochure about a product called Feliway for cats.  After checking out the product with our Vet, I agreed that it was OK for them to use the picture as long as it didn't mean that I endorsed the product (I can't endorse something I have never used and know very little about).  So I did email the photo and 2 others that showed our multiple cats cuddling together. If any of you have used this product, I would love some feedback. From the info I received from our Vet's office, it is a legitimate product and is sold in Veterinary Hospitals.

Think we can get to that milk?

Monday, January 21, 2013

make just one someone happy...

my kids back in 1973
Have to put the link to Jimmy Durante's song, "Make just one someone happy..." because when I was commenting yesterday (pertaining to the Alaskan trip), I looked it up on you tube and it made me feel good.  So, I'm going to share. Click here to hear the song.

As you can see from the picture, 2 of my 3 kids have red hair. My oldest (on the right) has 2 boys, a redhead like himself and a brunette, my daughter has a red headed clone of herself, and the baby there is the new father of our latest grandchild, who also looks like she will be red haired (although he himself is a brunette like DH and I).  None of this is of any importance, but I was looking for a photo to post and came across this one.

Daughter, Grand daughter, and Goliath

This is a good picture of Goliath, my daughter's pet Friesian (it's a long story). My husband calls him her expensive 'lawn ornament'.  She also has 2 black Quarterhorses that actually 'earn their keep'...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Here's a hint...

Anyone get the hint?
Today I went shopping for a few things.  Actually I went shopping for long johns. Figured that since it was almost the end of January, possibly they would be on sale... and they were... 50% off!  But the coat was on sale too, so I hemmed and hawed for a bit, then decided that even though I never buy anything red, that perhaps it would be good (I mean, if by some chance I was floating in the water next to an iceberg, surely they would see the red coat??)

So yes, the decision has been made. I am going on the Alaskan Cruise. My friend, my family, and even DH advised me that it was the chance of a life-time and that I really should go (the "if not now, when?" philosophy). I was told that the only things I would really need to have are a warm coat, long johns, boots, hat, and gloves. I have most of those things already... well, not the long johns or hat.  And I do have a coat, but it's about 15 years old... and not red.

Anyway, decision has been made. My friend was so excited. I guess I might be too when the realization hits me.  It's just that I don't like being cold (my kids are already teasing me, saying "You're going to Alaska??? You, who walks around the house freezing when it's below 70 degrees??") And then there's the seasick thing (I really don't want to ruin anyone's trip), but I've been assured that this cruise really isn't out in the ocean that much, it stays close to land and therefore shouldn't hit rough seas (and there's always Dramamine). But the real cincher for me was that the ship leaves from Vancouver, British Columbia - a place that would be on my bucket list if I had a bucket list... (and it's also featured in the blog, Island Rambles with beautiful photos!). 

And there's another reason Vancouver has a special attraction for me, when my paternal grandfather moved his family from London to the US around 1918, his brother also moved his family...  from London to Vancouver. I never met my great uncle, but through the Internet and, I have learned that he had six children and probably most still live there.  Now, I'm not interested in visiting them.  They have their own lives and don't know of my existence, but it's kind of nice knowing that there's family in the area.  

Let's see... any other news.  Well, DH and I babysat our new little grand daughter Saturday so our son and DIL could get out of the house for a little bit.  She is a little doll.  Here's a pic of her waking up from her nap... yawning.

Oh, and today is DH and I's 45th Anniversary! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

chicken pot pie... and cheese biscuits

chicken pot pie

OK, I resized this photo to 50% its normal size before posting it.  The problem  is that I cannot test it to see if it will get larger when clicked on until after I've published it.   This was a new recipe I found in a "Taste of the South's - South's Best Comfort Food".  The pot pie wasn't hard to do, but took a little time. The boys liked it, I found it a little wanting.  Next time I will cook my veggies longer and add more seasoning to the sauce.  But it didn't fall into the 'never again' category... just the 'needs fix'in' one. Since it's a basic chicken pot pie recipe, I'm not including the recipe, but let me know if you should want it.

But I am going to post the recipe for the best Cheese Biscuits I've ever made/tasted (again IMO):

2 cup (8oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese - or whatever cheese you like, I tend to use a Mexican 4 cheese combo that is made by Kraft and has Phil Cr Cheese in it)
1 cup butter (I use unsalted)
1 cup sour cream (best with regular, not low fat or non fat)
2 cups self-rising flour (if you don't have self-rising - and I don't- just use 2 cups all purpose flour and add 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt)

Preheat oven to 425. Mix all ingredients. Spoon into a mini-muffin pan a Tablespoon at a time. Bake for 10 mins until biscuits are golden.  Cool for 5 mins on wire rack. 

Depends on how much dough you use, but should make 24 - 36 small (pop in the mouth) biscuits.  I've also 'halved' the recipe and it came out great.

This is an old photo of grand daughter when she was 3 and taking home one of  the 5 kittens that one of our ferals left on our back porch.  The 3 black and whites that we have were part of that litter too. Now GD is 11 and Cocoa is 9 (as are his B&W siblings). They turned out to be the smartest and sweetest cats ever... (of course they are spoiled rotten).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a brisket and a chocolate pie...

Old photo of house in snow

You know, I planned to take a picture of both the brisket and the pie... and then forgot.  Must be age. Both are totally gone now... and were very good. The brisket was 'fall apart' tender and DH and the boys loved it.  I thought it was a bit salty, but I'm not fond of salt... and I had used a BBQ rub (as well as BBQ sauce, Lea & Perrins, and Soy Sauce recipe - all salty). I will use less of these if I ever cook this again.

The dark chocolate cream pie is one of my favorites. And I don't make it  often. The recipe calls for only dark unsweetened chocolate, but I usually use half unsweetened and half semi-sweet.  Then I use real whipping cream on top. My neighbor when we first moved to Texas made the *best* chocolate pie.  She past away a long time ago and I never knew her recipe (back then I was 27 and had 3 babies and no time to bake). But I've tried several over the years and this one is the closest I've come. Some chocolate pies are more like chocolate pudding in a pie shell, others are like brownies in a pie shell.  This one is the consistency and flavor I like.  I found it in my King Arthur's Flour cookbook a few years back.

Well, we woke up to snow this morning here in Texas. It always surprises me. Luckily we haven't had any long lasting cold so far this year, just a few snowfalls and drops to below freezing days. It will stay cold today, so I suspect the roads will be icy tonight and tomorrow.  Hate that.  But... one of the good things about being retired... I don't have to go out in it!  When the weather is especially cold and nasty, I can stay cozy and warm by the fireplace with the cats and a good book.  THAT is one of the joys of retirement!

And yes, I'm still 'considering' the Alaska trip.  Haven't made any decision. I'm letting it 'ruminate' around in my head for a while.

My mom and a friend in my kitchen taken a few years ago - both deceased now and dearly missed

Just wanted to try this.  I did the 'resize thing' here where I resized the picture in Microsoft office manager and then downloaded it into blogger.   I think you can click on it and it will enlarge... thus keeping my google photo capacity lower... ??

One more 'blogger type' question.  If I should decide to 'change' my template to another form now... will all my old blogs be changed to the new form or will it save the old posts in the old template?  Just curious...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

the cutest thing...

the cutest thing...

Isn't she the cutest thing?  I'm sorry, but she really is (IMO of course).  I know all grandparents feel this way.  It happens the minute you set eyes on that tiny new life... or hold her or him in your arms.  It's an amazing feeling.  She has lost most of the red hair she was born with and looks like a little Q-ball these days.  And don't you just love that tiny foot...

It's Sunday morning and we have been up since about 7:30, had coffee and biscuits, read the paper, played games on grandson's Meep, watched some soccer and football (at least the boys did), made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and prepared a brisket for marinading.  I've not had much experience with cooking brisket.... so this is an experiment. I found a recipe in a magazine that looked fairly easy and delicious, so I thought I'd try.  I will marinade it today (in BBQ rub, onions, onion soup mix,   Lea and Perrins, and Soy Sauce) and cook it tomorrow in the low oven (250) of my Aga for about 10 hours.  We'll see...

I'm going to bring up something here that has come up only recently and I've got to make a decision about it in the next week or so.  A good friend is going on a cruise to Alaska and wants me to go with her. Neither her husband or mine is interested in going. I originally told her that I really couldn't afford it at this time. But her argument is that we can't afford to wait - which I agree to some extent (She's 70 and I'm 67). It is a special fare cruise where IF you book now for the end of April, you get the 2 for 1 fare.  The whole trip from what she says on the discounted rate (her son & daughter have checked it out) shouldn't cost me more than $1000.00.  That's hard to believe, I know.  Anyway, she's already booked and really really wants me to go with her.  I would like to go and probably won't get another chance, but I keep thinking that I would need clothes for the trip which would cost $, and I tend to get seasick (don't want to ruin her trip), etc. But she is a very dear friend, so I said that I would 'think about it'.  I probably should mention that she and I have taken great trips in the past to England, Paris, Ireland... and still take local road trips now.  We get along great and the trips have given us wonderful memories.  I think its just that with retirement, we have to be so careful that I feel guilty even thinking about it.

On another note, I noticed on someone's blog that they had a "live feed" which told them that 'someone from where-ever' was visiting their blog.  I thought that was a neat fixture.  How do you get that on a blog?
And one other question, is my font big enough?  I use the normal default font, but it looks a little small to me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

cat owl?

My son texted (is "texted" a word?) me this picture and I think it's great!  As you probably know from our own cat pics, we're rather fond of black and white cats anyway... and we have a black outside cat that spends most of his time way... and I mean way up in the top of one of the trees in the back by the creek.  He's one of our younger ones (maybe about a year old).  We call that group of youngsters 'the Velociraptors' as they hunt together and circle their prey.

The following are some of the clay projects for Fall 2012 that I've been meaning to post:

These weren't all  25 piece projects, but they were all *projects or special projects* for last semester.  The very top one (birdhouse duplex) is mine, the others were all done by  fellow classmates.

Note here concerning the current flu problem:  Having gone out to grocery shop this morning, we noticed people are definitely 'taking precautions' as there was practically no hand sanitizers, no large bottles of Listerine, etc. left on the shelves.  I imagine that while movies and restaurants may feel a loss during this time if people are avoiding crowds, grocery stores and drug stores must be experiencing a little rise in their sales... not only due to the sale of these health items, but also due to the fact that I found myself buying a little more than our weeks worth of groceries... in order to extend our time away from crowded areas.

Well, that's enough for today.  Have a good weekend, be safe, and stay healthy!   :)

(Now I have to go see if I can resize my photos - which I probably should have done before posting these... oh well.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It worked!

Jack and Tux sharing the warmth on these dreary days

Hurray! Switching to Google Chrome worked, DJan!  And thanks to all of you who had recommendations. This just happened to be the easiest... so I tried it first.  It is a little different, but it also allows me again to use my fonts and font sizes... which was another glitch that had happened a while back which I could never fix. 

So, I'm back uploading new pics today.  This one shows where the cats and I spend our dreary cold winter days.  I'm usually there right with them with one or both on my lap while I  read.  I'm also working on a baby blanket for new grand daughter, but it's difficult to knit with 2 (or more) cats playing with the yarn. They love yarn.  We learned a long time ago not to leave any yarn lying around or they get together and basically web the house. Apparently it's great fun.

Can you see the weaved pattern?

Also a note here regarding my last post.  Please do not think that I was advising anyone not to get the flu vaccine.  I would never do that.  DH and I get it every year and believe it is important. The flu can be very serious.  When my daughter mentioned to me the *possible* connection between the flu shot and the rash (which was only a small area about 2 inches on my back), I was just curious to know if anyone else had heard of this.  So far, no one has.

Again, thanks for all your advice with my uploading probs. Now I can get back to posting new pics!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Reaction to flu shot this year?

Tux watching Garfield

Well, apparently I still can't upload new pictures.  This is another old one taken a few years ago.  I'm surprised that if more people are having the problem, that blogger hasn't commented on it... either letting us know that they are working on it or possibly giving us the reason there's a glitch??

But on another note, I want to pass on something I heard the other day.  It has to do with this year's flu shot. In 1997 I had the 'real flu'... took me 4 - 6 weeks to get back on my feet and even then, it was a slow process.  So yes, I now get the flu shot each year.  This year I was late and didn't get in for it until the first week in December.  DH had his also but a few weeks earlier.  Both of us noted that the shot itself didn't hurt at all, but the arm it was given in became 'extremely sore' for the next few days. I also felt *bad*the next day.  But other than that... no prob.

Until about 2 weeks later, I noticed a rash on my back - right behind my right arm.  My first thought was "Oh no, Shingles!" They have been advertising on TV for the Shingles vaccine so much that they've about scared the life out of me.  Anyway, I did go see my doctor and she didn't think it was Shingles, and gave me a Rx for some steroid cream.

It's been about 5 weeks now and the rash is almost gone.  It didn't itch and it didn't hurt... looked a bit like poison ivy (but no itch).  However, I was talking to my daughter on the phone yesterday and when I mentioned the rash, she said, "Mom, you didn't get the flu shot, did you?" And I said yes, why? She had been talking to some friends who are nurses and they mentioned that quite a few people (adults and children) who got the flu vaccine this year have been coming down with Shingles or a rash or some sort.

Interesting, yes?  Now I'm curious to know if any others out there have had similar experiences...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another oldie...

Since I'm stuck with using old blogger photos at the moment, I might as well use this one and say that it was taken 45 years ago this month. We were both 22 and just out of college.  Truth be known, I had just graduated, but DH had another semester to go since his was a 5 year curriculum.

Mom planned the wedding. I was in exams.  It was beautiful and memorable, etc., but had it been me doing the planning, it would have been a quiet ceremony with just family and a few friends. But that's my style... not my mom's. And it was fun (after a glass or two of champagne - I'm NOT a drinker, it was even more fun).

We were married in downtown New Orleans and stayed at one of the hotels in the French Quarter for a few days. We went to see 'Camelot' (the old musical with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave).  To this day I LOVE that movie. We saw it in the old Sanger Orleans theater on Canal St. (which is gone now... as well as most of the stores, etc. from that era).

Now 45 years,  3 children and 4 grandchildren down the road, I have to say that it hasn't all been fun, but it's been worth it... and I'd do it again in a minute. Recently I heard someone say that they were divorced because their marriage didn't turn out the way they had imagined.  I remember thinking, "Really? and how many of them do?"  But I personally think that sometimes if you ride out the bumps along the way, the new adventure turns out even better than you imagined. But that's a personal opinion and I didn't express it verbally.

Anyway, as we enter our retirement years, it's hard to believe that time has flown by so fast. And it frightens me to think that we might not always have each other.  Maybe I think of this because my mom outlived my dad by 26 years. And I lost a good friend recently that outlived her husband by 20... and until she died, she would still tear up whenever she spoke of him. But this is life. We have to be strong, yes?  And besides, my plan is to go first... selfish as it may be.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Breakfast anyone?

Breakfast anyone?

I'm still stuck with not being able to upload any pictures from my computer... and did send feedback to let someone at Blogger know that I'm experiencing this problem.  From your comments yesterday it's obvious that I'm not the only one.

But I am able to go into my Blogger Photo File and post 'old pictures'.  So I when I came across this photo of breakfast on the Aga, I thought it looked good - probably because it's Saturday morning and I've only had a cup of herbal tea so far today.

Well, it is now 12:45 and still can't upload pics... so I guess this will be my post for the day.  DH and I just got back from Central Market.  We get our fresh produce and meat there.  Bought myself some fresh Salmon to grill tomorrow.  I really love Salmon, but DH doesn't.  So I get about a half pound every other weekend (or so) and grill it just for me in the Aga. (BTW, the cats love it too!)

Well, have a good weekend.  If... ever the 'picture thingy' returns to my insert image area, I will post some of the clay project pictures.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Posting probs?

the morning crew...
If you will notice, the tiny hands pressed against the window.  This is why my french doors always look a muddy mess. But hey, what can you do?
I'd actually planned to post a few pictures of our Fall Clay projects, but for whatever reason, Blogger won't let me get to my computer pics this morning.  It would however, let me get to pictures that I had already posted at some time on blogger and had filed away.  Whatever...

Apparently it won't let me 'save' this morning either. Is anyone else out there having trouble?