Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas 2018 is past...

... and our kitties are enjoying their new toys!




They also shared a few colored balls and toys with the outside ferals. I watched one long-haired kitty outside playing with an orange ball. He batted and chased it all the way to the bushes in the back and I thought, that's one ball gone.... until he picked it up in his teeth and brought it all the way back to the back patio. Ha! I thought... smart cat!

The large grey rat, red cardinal, and several different colored balls were part of Tux, Julie, and Ghost's stash this year.  They also enjoy playing with all the wrapping paper that was left around by the grandkids.

Today is New Year's Eve and outside of making some Italian chicken and pesto pasta tonight, the only way we celebrate the New Year is to make some of my MIL's home-made eggnog (spiked with a little bourbon of course) and toast as the ball is dropped. Of course we don't always make it to midnight, so sometimes we just toast it in early.

And tomorrow we will have the traditional pork roast, black-eyed peas, and cabbage!  Do you have a traditional New Year's Day meal?

Today I spent putting away part of Christmas as well as  piecing together a small quilt. My DIL found some pretty fabric pieces and gave them to me in a bag of other goodies this Christmas. So today I started piecing it all together. The squares are sewn, but I haven't done the rows. I have black binding, but think it might need a bit of color... (have to think on that).

and I also did some clay sculpting, but  I'll post pics of that later...

Wishing all of you a safe
Happy New Year 2019!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

the magic of Christmas...

Reading childhood memories of Christmas on blogs made me think about my own. I always think of Christmas as a magical time. The whole holiday season seemed full to the brim with something only a child can feel... something in the air that was different from any other time of the year. 

Maybe it was a combination of the wonder of the birth of Christ as well as the possibility of Santa and his reindeer flying through the night delivering toys. When I think back, I realize it was more than that... it was a feeling of love and goodwill. It permeated the air... a season of giving (and yes - getting too - but that was alright as it was done out of love and caring). 

I still believe in the magic of Christmas. It's not quite the same as when I was a child. Now trying to feel that magic doesn't come as easy as it did back then. We grow up. We realize that Christmas is not only love, but hard work. I want my children and grandchildren to feel the magic... and I hope they do. It's hard to know. 

I wrote my oldest grand daughter a letter once concerning this (years ago). She believed in Santa and Elf on the Shelf way beyond some of her friends. And I worried when she did discover how things were done, she would lose faith (in the magic of Christmas ... and other things).

This was my letter:

Dear B---,

First of all, I want you to know that Grandma believes in magic...  all kinds of magic.  There is magic in a mother's love, there is magic in a baby's smile.  I know you've seen a butterfly, but have you ever had one light on your arm?  To me, that's magic.  It's in the moment.  Life is full of 'magic moments'... if you let yourself be aware of them.  It's a feeling like no other... and I can't explain it.  But you certainly know when it happens.

But you have to believe.  If you believe, it exists for you.  If you don't, then it doesn't.  Like everything else in life, it's your choice.  You can choose to believe or not believe.  But let me tell you, life is much more fun when you believe.

When I went to Ireland, I picked a flower in the fairy garden outside of Blarney Castle... and I left a penny for the fairies there.  And I believe there are fairies there... even though I couldn't see them. 

I believe it as much as I believe that there's a God watching over us throughout our lives... and beyond.  I can't see Him.  That doesn't matter.  I can feel Him.  And the fact that I chose to believe is all that matters.

I also believe that my mom and dad are still with me... as well as my brother and sister and any other family members that I loved and loved me.  They live in my heart and in my memories, sure... but their spirits are always close to me because I chose for them to be. 

Now... about Christmas.  I really believe in the magic of Christmas... and always have.  I can feel the magic in the air.  Can't you? When I was little, I thought I could sometimes get a glimpse of Santa's sleigh high in the sky on Christmas Eve.  Sometimes I thought I could hear the bells of the reindeer.

As I got older, I found out (by accident mind you...) that Mom and Dad bought the toys (or at least most) that I found under the tree Christmas morning.  It didn't bother me.  I knew the legend of Santa Claus.  I knew that he really did exist... here on this earth at one time... and still lives in spirit now.  The fact that grownups and parents continued his legend to help to keep the magic alive was fine with me.  I loved the magic... and still do.

And when it comes to Santa's elves...or any elves... yes, I believe in them too. Are they "real"?  Depends on what you call "real"?  They're magic... not real like you and me.  There are many many things in this world that we cannot see or understand. Sometimes we have to look "inside" ourselves to know the truth.

So if I'm ever asked the question, "Is there really a Santa Claus?"  My answer will be, "Yes, of course there's a Santa Claus. He may not be the one who buys your Christmas toys... but that doesn't mean that he didn't or doesn't exist.  He exists in our hearts and he always will as long as people like myself believe."

So I guess what I want to say here, B---, is that as you grow older and become aware that Christmas magic, Santa Claus, and Christmas Elves may not exist in the way your child's mind imagined, they do still exist... in your heart...  if you choose to continue to believe

Love, Grandma

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas music...

I have thought of this...


I'm not especially musically inclined... never played an instrument (well, piano for 2 months in elementary school), don't have an 'ear' for it, and definitely can't hold a tune. 

But 'some' music I find especially haunting like Pentatonix' "Hallelujah" or "Mary Did You Know?". Both of these songs mesmerize me. Don't know if it's the words, the tune, or the voices. 

You're probably familiar with both of these, but I thought I'd try to link up the videos so you could hear them here. However, my technical ability isn't so great... and I'm having trouble doing this. Bear with me.

Pentatonix "Hallelujah"

Pentatonix "Mary Did You Know?"

I think I did it.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

been a while...

close up of Christmas tree (and yes, those are mardi gras beads)

Bar at Christmas time...

Life gets busy... especially at this time of year. There's Christmas lights to put up, trees to decorate, gifts to buy, cards to mail, and goodies to bake... not to mention Christmas parties to attend as well as grandkids pageants and performances!

We have one of the latter this week when the Saint Joseph's kindergarten class will be singing Christmas carols. Grand daughter will take part in that so we will be sure to be there. And last night our pottery group had their Christmas get-together and cookie exchange. Great food, good conversation, and came home with loads of goodies!

So... I've been lax on blogging. Actually I've read most the blogs I follow, but may not have commented and certainly haven't posted anything lately.  Yesterday I baked almond tea cakes and cheese biscuits for the pottery get-together. Today I will continue with whiskey balls, chocolate graham cracker crunch, and home-made granola to mail... and eventually rum cakes and more cookies for neighbors and friends. 

That's pretty much where we're at... probably the same for all of you.

Julie  'helping' with Christmas decorating...

Moose doing the same...

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe Happy New Year 2019! (Wow! that's the first time I've written that...)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

how life has changed...

(found on Pinterest)

I was thinking this morning as I plugged in both my iPhone and my Kindle how much life has changed in the last 70 plus years. I can instantly post pictures of things I want to share with my family and friends, I stream movies and TV shows to watch whenever I feel like it, and I now drive a key less entry car that is driven completely by buttons and which has not only a phone but a back up video camera and heated seats! (I love heated seats!) It even knows me and adjusts the seat to fit me when I enter. Can you believe? I mean... we didn't even have a TV until I was about 8... and now... well, you can see where I'm going. Technologically speaking, we are moving faster than light (to my mind anyway).

(found on Pinterest)

When my windshield wipers went on by themselves as it started to sprinkle the other day.... I thought, "huh, how smart is this car?" 
(It also honks at me if I leave the keys inside the car when I get out...)

And just how does 'wireless' work and really what is 'the cloud'??

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I sure do like most of what technology seems to do... and although we do use an iPhone, a laptop, a Kindle, and apparently a 'smart' car, there is so much more out there (and coming) that I'm not sure we'll ever understand. 

I read "The President is missing" by Clinton and Patterson and "Origin" by Dan Brown. Both these books make technology possibilities very scary... although entirely probable. It's actually not the technology itself, but how it might/could be used. And here lies the problem - so much good versus very dangerous ground. But it is not my intent to go there today (or any day).

just thinking...

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Good Morning Saturday...

This is me... every night.  I fall asleep with the book and book light in the bed... sometimes even the cell phone. This cat also reminds me of one we had years ago when our kids were small. He was a long haired orange tabby that our youngest son brought home from kindergarten. Apparently the story was that the mama cat was walking across the school yard with 3 babies and this one fell asleep on the way across. The others left him. Our son took him home. We named him Sebastian.

Now I have to share these pics of youngest grand daughter celebrating her 6th birthday yesterday evening. I have to say that there's nothing cuter than watching 6 year old girls enjoying themselves. The conversation as they played with dolls (a combination of Barbies, American Girl, and Frozen character Elsa), LOL's, etc. was priceless. I find their little minds at this age are so active that it's fascinating to listen to their conversations.

and this one shot right before she changed into her Frozen (Elsa) birthday dress....

Being around them makes me think of the old movie, "Gigi" where Maurice Chevalier sings that song, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls"...

OK, that's my contribution for today.  Just wanted to share these thoughts with you.  I'll leave with another pic I found on Pinterest that I liked.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

the joys of streaming...

This has been my mind-set this week...

Reading and binge-watching "Delicious" on Acorn TV.

I really like this streaming - as one doesn't have to wait till next week for the next episode. You just keep watching until you have to do something else... then pause it and continue where you left off at another time. Wonderful!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018 - food, family, and friends

Thanksgiving 2018 Food!

Thanksgiving 2018 Table

I don't decorate too much for Halloween or Thanksgiving... mostly put out a few pumpkins, but I do start sneaking in our Christmas decor here and there (if you can see there are a few stockings hanging by the fireplace... and if you could see further up, there's Christmas candles, etc.) It works.

Besides, the traditional holiday food is the main attraction. Each family is different, but mine want Turkey, Ham, stuffing (used to be oyster, now it's Jalapeno Pecan), bourbon sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, cranberry sauce, broccoli/cauliflower casserole, and rolls. I occasionally try something different (last year I added stuffed artichokes - my 5 year old grand daughter loved them!) And our desserts differ some. Most want a family traditional favorite - a chocolate pudding with a pecan cookie crust... but DH makes a fantastic cheesecake that everyone likes too. This year my DIL even brought a delicious apple crumble to add to the mix. 

In general, I make all the food and they all come here... but last year we went to my daughter's in the hill country and one year we went to my son's (before they moved to Hawaii). I love doing it here, but it's getting to be difficult getting it all done on my own. It may be time to 'pass the baton' or find a good restaurant. It won't be the same, but time passes and things change. As long as we're all together, it should be fine.

Here are a few pics we took - mostly of the grands:

4 grandkids - outside by the house
(hard to corral that youngest for a pic)

grandkids by well

grand daughter on top
in tree
with her friend

daughter on left with her best friend

Our daughter lives in the Hill Country around San Antonio, Texas and her best friend now lives in Colorado Springs - but they get to see each other either at Thanksgiving or Christmas when each comes here to Texas to visit family.

I guess that's about it. Everyone left for home yesterday. It's been fun, but a bit hectic. Giving myself some 'downtime' this week... 

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Veterans' day! And other things...

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Birthday today to our Grandson!
(as of today he is no longer a teenager)

Also... Thanksgiving is around the corner and our youngest grandson is coming from California to spend a week with us! We can't wait to see him!

Hopefully I will remember to take a picture of everyone that is here for our Thanksgiving dinner! (I used to be good at that... lately when it gets busy, I tend to forget.) We should have our daughter and her family, youngest son and his family, and our 2 grandsons! We will be missing our oldest son and his wife this Thanksgiving as they are in Hawaii and won't be here this year (although we hope to visit them soon on Oahu).

I may not be posting in the next few weeks due to the holidays as well as company and the end of the Fall semester when our projects are due for critique. I've just about finished everything; the egg birdhouse, the Tiki mask, the pocket Tiki, the 2 sets of windchimes, the architectural tiles, one fox, 2 birds, and a chicken! (Yes, just one chicken this semester - can you believe?)

I did have a little time Saturday afternoon at the studio... so I threw 2 small bowls on the pottery wheel.... just to see if I remembered how to throw.  I did. I just haven't had time to use the wheel at all lately. I really need to get back to it.

Here are a few pics of the bunny windchimes - finished and hanging in my kitchen for the moment.

Wanted you to see the designs on bottom of round....

and on top!

Sorry if the pics aren't terribly clear, but it's hard to get it from all angles. The extra string you see will be cut off, but I just finished them this morning. Stringing them so that they hang properly isn't easy.

OK... that's it for today. Hope you all have a good Veteran's Day weekend!

(I really need to find this sign... or have one made!)

Saturday, November 3, 2018

an early morning post...

It's 5:30 am and I'm up having a cup of tea with the cats. I usually go right back to bed, but today felt the need to stay up and read blogs for a little while. My cough is much better and I plan to go to my pottery class later this morning. However, I am a bit worried about my hearing. 

I mentioned to our family physician when I was in last week for this coughing crud that my hearing has been strange ever since the auto accident. It might have had problems before that but if so, I didn't notice. Immediately after the accident I had this loud ringing in my ears as well as a strange echoing or maybe more like being in a well (hard to explain)... and I was dizzy. They did a CAT SCAN of my head and found nothing wrong (thank goodness). Told me that the explosion of the air bags probably caused the ringing. 

But my hearing still is "off"... not to a large degree, but I hear someone talking (like on TV), but don't always catch what they're saying. And it's strange because some people have loud clear voices that I hear fine and some I can't quite make out what they say. Now... we also watch a lot of English television... and on some of those shows it's difficult to understand because of the accent... but this is different. 

Anyway, my family physician recommended that I get my hearing checked. And I will - probably after the holidays. But I do wonder if the impact or the loud explosion of the air bags could have actually done something to my ear drums??? 

Maybe what it boils down to is 'getting old is not for the faint of heart'....

Sunday, October 28, 2018

African Chicken Peanut soup...

soup prep

It's Sunday and I'm making African Chicken Peanut  soup. We love this recipe and I think I've posted it before. It's a lot of ingredients, but still easy and makes a bunch! The Peanut butter is added at the end and although the soup is good without it, I think it is the ingredient that makes it amazing.

African Chicken-Peanut Soup
This recipe gives a traditional African dish some American appeal.
Cooking spray
1     1/2 cups cubed peeled sweet potato
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2     garlic cloves, minced
1     jalapeäo pepper, seeded and minced
2     cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1     cup bottled salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2     (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans Healthy Choice Chicken With Rice Soup or any less-sodium chicken-and-rice soup, undiluted 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add sweet potato, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeöo; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients (chicken through beans); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add peanut butter, stirring with a whisk; cook 2 minutes.
11 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
My Hints:

I use Progresso chicken and wild rice soup (not less-salt) and I skip the jalapeano .

One other thing I do because I find it easier is I bake my sweet potatoes in the oven first... you don't want them too soft to cut up and put in the soup, but you do want the skin to peel off easily. I find peeling and cutting sweet potatoes after they're cooked much easier.

And next is an update on some of my pottery projects.  I'll post these later on my Cheeky Chickens Studio  blog also.

My finished cat planter in the front window.
 It doesn't have a plant in it as my cats would nibble.

Finished ceramic egg bird house

Finished ceramic windchimes

The 2nd set of windchimes (bunnies and carrots) are still at the studio. I missed class Saturday due to this croupy crud. But they should be out of the kiln and ready to string next week.

Well... off to enjoy my chicken soup!

Friday, October 26, 2018

National Feral Cat Day...

National Feral Cat Day was October 16th!

Some of our feral cats (over the years): one time in our yard.

This one has the prettiest blue eyes

This one is long haired and has the shiniest coat

These days we have one family of 4 in the back and a family of 5 in the front. Occasionally they swap areas, but not a lot.  They all know each other and get along fairly well... unless a stranger shows up. We  have one black tall skinny feral that is mean and likes to fight (the others usually chase him away). One or two of the feral males that come by are ear clipped which means they were neutered with the catch, neuter, and release program. These cause no problems and seem to be welcome.

The weather will be getting colder soon... so please try to put out some form of protection/comfort for the ferals near you. We have found raccoons sleeping contentedly with the cats under the heat lamps in the back as well as possums using the cat bed in the front on cold nights. 

For those of you interested, I'm still struggling with the croupy crud... (nights are the hardest, still sleeping on the sofa with the cats so I can sit up  - but the cats love the company). Went back to the doctor Thursday. No pneumonia (hurray!), changed my cough meds to something stronger (Rx Hydrocodone) so I could get some sleep. My Pharmacist called me to warn me this was a strong med. I told him that I would hold off on it and see how I do. Got a Depomedrol injection that seems to have worked a bit... got a 2 hour nap that afternoon. DH starting to cough...

my sweet Tux... he worries so.