Saturday, November 30, 2013

resting up... and catching up

Grandbaby enjoying her First Birthday cake!

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and First Birthday for Grand daughter!  She was a bit hesitant at first to taste her birthday cake, but once she got a taste, there was no stopping her.  She even tried to share it with her mom... as you can see in next pic.

The rest are just a few pics of the family at the table and kids and grandkids sitting on the floor in the den as Grandbaby opens her birthday gifts.

We were very lucky with the weather as although it was below freezing in the early morning, it warmed up and the day turned out sunny and beautiful.  We sent most of the left-overs home with the kids, so we will not be eating turkey for the next week or so.  We kept enough for DH and I to have some more on Friday... but that's it. 

Our cats spent part of Thursday in our bedroom to keep them out of trouble with the Thanksgiving table.  They shared some wonderful sunspots and were also given plenty of Turkey. Once they were released from the bedroom, they joined in with the rest of the family in sleeping by the fire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

3 am...

It is 3 am Wednesday morning and I am here reading blogs and making lists.  I woke up a while back and my head was so busy with things I need to do today (not to mention class this morning) that I decided it would be best to just get up and *do* something. So now the green beans are cut, blanched, and ready to cook. I had planned to also bake the yams while up, but may wait on that till this afternoon.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is almost always the same: Smoked Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Jalapeno pecan dressing, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Green Bean Casserole (this year it's Caramelized Onion Green Beans with bacon and toasted walnuts). We have occasionally tried a new side dish, but almost always end up back with the basics. For dessert we're having a chocolate pudding cake with a baked cookie crust and Kentucky Derby Pie (which is pecan pie with chocolate chunks and bourbon).

And of course there will be Birthday Cake as our little grand daughter will be One on Thanksgiving Day! We've decided to break out the good china, crystal, etc. and go back to having a formal sit-down... which we abandoned for a few years when the little ones started coming as it was hard to keep them seated... so rather than having to pop up every few minutes, we went buffet-style.

The cats love to check out the formal table setting, so they will be *put up* in a safe place during meal time. But don't worry, they will get their fair share of turkey (outside ferals too!).

It is now 2:45 pm and cats are enjoying a sun spot.  Yes! It was cold this morning (28), but it's warmed up and the sun is out! I've already been to class and run some errands.  Yams and other potatoes are cooking and our desserts are made.

Now I just have to change sheets in the guest room and put some fresh towels in the bath.  Hopefully most of the cooking will be done or almost done by bedtime tonight. Our turkey will smoke overnight and I can put the finishing touches on the vegetables, set the table, etc. in the morning.  It will be nice to have everyone home together sharing a meal.  I pray that most people will have some time with their families this Thanksgiving... and I also pray for all those stuck in airports or on the road in bad weather.... that they will arrive at their destinations safe and sound.

So Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 
We have so much to be thankful for... 
and know that I am thankful
for all of you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cats and cookies...

Tux's silly face

I forgot to put this pic on the last post.  Tux is all over me when I sit by the fire (or when I knit, or read, etc.). Well, try to take a picture while he wiggles his face in front of your every move. Here is one shot that shows his antics well.  If I didn't love him so much, I would have to strangle him (but he is cute, isn't he?... and he knows it).

Really too cold today to do much.  Did some holiday cleaning, baked chocolate chip Peanut Butter cookies... sat by the fire again.

Texted with my daughter in San Antonio a little while ago. Apparently it's too cold to do much there either.  They usually spend a lot of time outside with the horses, but not today.  She said that they are sitting by the fireplace eating home-made chocolate chip walnut cookies.  What's that song?.... "teach your children well..."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

the weekend continues...

I was supposed to go to the pottery studio yesterday afternoon, but instead sat by the fireplace with DH and Tux staying warm. It was 36 degrees outside, pouring rain, and there was a cold North wind blowing.  We put the heat lamps out back for the ferals, extra straw around for warmth, and DH opened the garage a crack so the kittens could get inside should the weather get really nasty. They're forecasting more rain and cold tomorrow and possibly sleet and snow by Sunday.

This is the weekend before the kids arrive for Thanksgiving so there's lots to do... planning, cleaning, cooking, etc.  We cleaned the ceiling fans earlier today... some are quite an ordeal since the ceilings in the  den and front room are very high, but we did the best we could (and no casualties). I dusted the front room and den and washed down the kitchen counters and appliances. There's an LSU football game on this afternoon, so I won't get much more out of DH once that starts.

messy pottery jewelry area

This is my work area. Once my tiles are fired, I can work on under-glazing them at home. Then of course, I need to get them back to the studio to fire again.  It's messy, but it's fun. I've been playing around with actually putting the color on in different ways, sometimes my fingers, sometimes a brush, and sometimes a sponge... and letting one color dry and layering on a different one on top.

Friday, November 22, 2013

a little *ping*

I have to say this now while I'm thinking about it... or there's the chance that the thought will disappear from my head completely by the time I'm sitting at the computer again.

As I sit here on my bed this afternoon trying to rest up after my migraine yesterday, and trying to decide whether to nap or read  (and at the same time going over the our Thanksgiving menu in my head)...
my iPhone *pinged* (as they tend to do when you receive an email). So-oo glancing over at my phone, I saw a blog comment from Perpetua... and it made me smile.

No matter how much we complain about trying to keep up with advancing technology, I have to say that it warms my heart to get a comment all the way from Wales (or England, Washington, Canada, or Vermont, etc.) to little ol' me sitting here on my bed in Texas in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. I know that I'm probably dating myself for saying this, but how can that not be amazing?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

a few favorites...

I like poems.  But like everything else, my tastes run kind of eclectic. It could be one by Bronte, or Browning, or Dickinson, or it could just as easily be one written by a kid on the bus or a retreatant in the cafeteria.  Guess what I'm trying to say is that if it *says* something to me, then I love it.  It becomes one of those serendipitous events where the universe finally got through to me.  And believe me, I'm not the easiest person to get through to.  I'm guessing that in today's busy world, not many of us are 'receptive' to much... too much going on around us all the time. Perhaps now in our retirement years, the pace has slackened a bit... enough to take the time to 'ponder' words that mean something to us. 

Anyway, that was a long winded way of saying that this is one of my old favorites:

Growing Old

The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer'
The headstones thicken along the way
And life grows sadder, but love grows stronger
For those who walk with us day by day

The tear comes quicker, the laugh comes slower;
The courage is lesser to do and dare;
And the tide of joy in the heart falls lower, 
And seldom covers the reefs of care.

But all true things in the world seem truer,
And the better things of earth seem best,
And friends are dearer, as friends are fewer,
And love is all as our sun dips west.

Then let us clasp hands as we walk together,
And let us speak softly in low, sweet tone,
For no man knows on the morrow whether
We two pass on - or but one alone.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox


another of my favorites:


He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in!

-Edwin Markham

I started this post a day or so ago, then got interrupted by a migraine...  and then another (this was a first... one coming right on the heals of the other). But anyway, yesterday evening was miserable, but this morning things seem clear again.  I hate it when my head and eyes go wonky... (one always fears that they may never return back to normal).  But alas, they have... or almost so.  Head is always a little achy the next day, but not too bad... at least I can see and think straight again.

i was planning to talk a bit more about poems, but now have lost the thread.  Sorry.  Perhaps a cup of coffee would help.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turtles, and horses, and puppies... oh my

This is Big Boy, an African Sulcata spurred tortoise.  My daughter and grand daughter gave him a home for about 2 years for a family that was traveling.  He loved tomatoes (as you can see) and had quite a engaging personality.  It was hard for them to give him up when the time came as they had come to love him.  For those of you who are interested in turtles and tortoises, the following is a video we took of him at their place in the Hill Country.

Over the last few years, they have had horses (a beautiful European warmblood that was abused and abandoned (long story) who now resides as what my husband calls 'a very expensive lawn ornament' and 2 very charming and ride-able quarterhorses, a few cattle (and earlier venture), dogs, cats, turtles, a bunny, a pet squirrel, alpaca (another earlier venture), fish (in ponds - which are constantly raided by herons), and chickens (the roosters alone have their own story).  (Oh, and possibly honeybees... but that is still a project 'in progress'). Then there was the time my SIL came home in the middle of the night with a truckload of 7 puppies that had been dumped on the side of the road. They eventually found homes for 6 of them and kept one.

7 puppies

The Alpaca were called Cruiser and Rambler... and as their names imply had the unfortunate habit of taking off down the road whenever they had the chance.

and then there's Goliath...

Stories abound in our lives and each of these wonderful critters play a part.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

we need a bigger rug...

From back left there's Rose, Tux, Julie, and Jack.  Then Ghost in rear and Molly up front.

As you can see, our inside cats do gather by the Aga when the weather gets chilly.  We had our first day of below freezing (I think it got to 31), and the cats were huddling by the warm Aga (all 6 of them).  We do need a bigger rag rug (DIL made this one). But it is funny to watch all 6 try to get on it. (Sorry for the quality of these shots, but I took them with my phone... and they seem a bit *foggy*)

As for the outside cats, we put up the heat lamps on the back porch and the mamas even brought their babies to lie on the wrought iron table/chairs under the lamps (they are smart mamas).

Next are just a few shots of the Christmas angels and elves that have begun taking their places around the house as the holidays get nearer.

Christmas angel in everyday cup cupboard

Christmas salt and pepper shakers

Christmas cats sitting with brown betty

Another Christmas elf having his own tea

And last our sad Grandfather clock without it's face...

That's about my news for today.  As you can see, I've started putting out a few Christmas things here and there.

At the moment I'm in the middle of cooking some Chicken and Sausage Okra Gumbo.  I watched Chef John Besh cook some seafood gumbo this morning the way my MIL used to make it... with tons of blue crab, shrimp, sausage, and oysters in it... and it made me want gumbo.  I love seafood gumbo, but unless it is made right (like at home in Louisiana), I don't order it... and have never tried to make it myself.  But we do like Chicken and Sausage Okra gumbo, so I decided to make that today.

Have a great week!  ; )

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shelly on the move... and other things

This is a video of Shelly, one of our backyard Box Turtles. She is quite active... as you can see.  Obstacles do not bother her. She just keeps going.  Good model for us all.

Next are just a few shots of cats around the house:

Molly and Jack on sofa

Tux on chair

and the following is the Pumpkin Custard Pie I made this past weekend.

Update:  Black feral cat that stays in front yard has brought her 3 kittens over to the front porch.  They sleep in the bushes and play on the porch.  Looks like they are about 5 weeks old as they move pretty fast.  This is past the age when we can usually catch them, but apparently she had them down the street and just moved them here this past week.  The following is not a good pic since it was taken through the bay window, but you can see one kitten fairly well.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

something new...


This is our new quilt that my friend made for us. I love it!  Blues and tans are my favorite color combination.  Now we just have to paint the walls a light blue and it will look great.  

It's a pretty simple pattern and it has writing on some of the pieces. Also the quilting design is in the shape of bunnies!  How sweet is that!!

Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you before I take it off and put my old quilt back on.  My old one is a store bought one and has taken it's toll over the years from our 6 cats. This new one will only go on for holidays and company... at least for a while anyway.  Thanksgiving will probably be it's debut.

Today is Thursday... and I don't have class (although I do need to go to the studio and see if some of my work has come out of the kiln).  We have a 'clay sale' coming up at the school where people can see their projects to other students and the money is divided in some way between the Clay Club and the creator.  I will donate some of my many many cylinders that I've been working on. What do you do with 40 - 50 clay cylinders?  I have glazed them and will put a herb or flower in some of the shorter ones. Hopefully they will be of interest to someone and make a little money for the club.  I did make a birthday gift for Molly (our 20 year old cat) - a food dish and water bowl with her name on it.  And I'm still playing around with my clay jewelry. Keeps me busy.

I'm been planning to make some Chicken Tetrazini all week, but have never gotten around to it.  I guess that I could make it today... ? And  I watched a Chef on TV make some Guiness Irish Stew that looked delicious! I hope to try that recipe next week.

and here is a mug that I made when I got tired of cylinders.  It's only been fired once and just came out of the kiln.  Hope my handle holds.  I tried a pulled handle and it messed up... so I twisted it.  We'll see.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

a few unplanned thoughts...

As I sit here writing my MIL, I'm thinking that there are so few people to actually "write to" these days. Used to be that I would sit and write my brother or my sister on occasion and a friend or two.  Now most of my correspondence (not with my siblings as they have both long past) but to others is by emailing or text... which is fine, but not the same. I'm not sure exactly why, but it's not.

The reason I still write my MIL is because she is 96 and doesn't have a computer or smart phone (and probably wouldn't want either). She lives alone and although she recently contemplated going to a 'retirement' or 'assisted living', she changed her mind and decided to stay where she was. I have mixed feelings. In one way I think it best that she stay in her own place.  She's comfortable there, has her cats and plants to take care of... and isn't under the control of nurses, etc. (She does have a visiting Healthcare nurse that stops by) But on the other hand, I sometimes think she might enjoy the company of other women for social activities that are abundant in A. L. facilities. But the fact remains that her mind is still good and she should be able to decide for herself.  Her physical body is failing as she walks with a walker, but even though she has her confused days, most days she is as sharp as ever.

I write her because I like to write and because she likes to get my letters (usually with pictures).  Now lately she has told me that she no longer sees very well, and along with that, her hearing is failing. It's apparent that life is getting more and more difficult for her. She often says that she is 'ready to go'.  I'm never sure how to respond to this, other than to say that she is the only one who can know such a thing. One of her sons lives close by and takes very good care of her.  He has a large family who do check on her and make sure that she has everything she needs. So she is not alone.  Yet, I find her lonely... maybe because she can no longer do the things she loves... getting out of the house on her own, gardening, reading, etc. But I have to respect and admire her strength.  She is one strong lady.

Had no idea what I was going to say here when I sat down to blog.  Seems like our minds go off on tangents of their own sometimes. Truth is this was a pretty nice weekend.  Weather was cool and sunny. DH and I didn't have any particular chores or errands that needed doing. So we kind of drifted off to doing what we wanted when we wanted to.... which is not always possible (even when retired!).  Friday we visited a dear friend who has just gotten home from back surgery. She lives about an hour outside of Dallas.  We brought her a bundt cake and spent the afternoon sitting outside talking.  The rest of the weekend DH watched a bit of football and I did some underglazing of chess pieces.  We did run a few errands and I made a buttermilk pie. That's about it.

Another thought: When I think about the upcoming week, I like to think of one *kind* thing I can do that will make the day or the week better for someone. Nothing big... just something.  It's not much when you think about it and it doesn't have to be for a stranger (although it could).  Even writing a letter, visiting a friend, or baking a pie counts.... see how easy it is. It may not be 'saving the world' or 'curing the planet'.... but I think it helps in some small way. It's like that saying of Mother Theresa who stated that man wasn't meant to do great things, only little things with great love.

Have a good week!