Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Big Move to PA

I've finally found a house and a job in Lancaster County, PA...Amish country. Am in the process of move #1, into hubby's temporary apartment. Once we close on our new home we'll tackle move #2, from the house in MI to the house in PA. Lastly, move #3, apartment to house. Thankfully there are nice things in the area to distract me from the dreaded moves, like this produce stand along my way home from work.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Splish Splash

Darcy Blue the Wonderpooch LOVES to go to the lake (click to enlarge) so we set out the other morning while it was still cool and breezy and made the 2-mile walk. We had the place to ourselves, aside from a sprightly WWII vet who was launching his boat for the first time this season, on a quest for perch and bluegill. Not sure what a bluegill is so I need to do some research. I miss fishing.
While Darcy chased sticks and kept the geese at bay I strolled the shoreline and was very surprised to find this tree, freshly felled by what I'd guess to be a beaver. Only they're supposed to be very rare in this area and I've seen no sign of other beaver activity. I do, however, know of some beavers living in a small pond along I-75. I think.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Soup's On!

Though I failed to take a picture of this, don't let the lack of visual interest keep you from trying this recipe if you're trying to get more veggies in your diet, lose weight, or are just a big soup fan. The older I get, the more I like soup. This is my very own concoction and I'd love your feedback if you try it out.

Chinese Greens Soup

2 T. olive oil
2-4 skinless boneless chicken breasts/thighs/whatever
1 bunch scallions, chopped and divided in half
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
cumin, ground or whole seeds
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 boxes chicken stock
1 bunch rapini (or escarole, greens, or other hearty green veggie)
4-6 baby bok choy (or 1 large)
2 c. fresh baby spinach
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (sub flat leaf parsley if you dislike cilantro)
1 T. Hoisin sauce (sub 1 t. BBQ sauce plus 1 t. soy if you don't have Hoisin)
juice of 1/2 lemon
toasted sesame oil

Roughly chop chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Lightly brown in olive oil in a very large pot, then add ginger, garlic, pepper flakes and the bottom half of the chopped green onions. As soon as this becomes very fragrant (but before the garlic can start to brown) pour in the chicken stock. Once stock is hot, remove the chicken. (I cut up 4 pieces and reserve half the poached chicken to make an Asian chicken salad in a day or two. If you add all the chicken back to the soup it'll be very meaty (and thus, more caloric) so you may want to use only 2 pieces.)

Coarsely chop rapini (or other greens) and stir into soup. Once stems are crisp-tender but still bright green, add coarsely chopped bok choy. Cook only until bok choy stems are crisp-tender; watch carefully as this does not take long and you don't want to overcook the vegetables. Remove from heat and stir in reserved chicken, spinach, cilantro, Hoisin sauce, and lemon juice. Check and correct seasoning, if needed. Top each serving with some of the reserved green onion tops and 1/4 t. toasted sesame oil.

Makes a big pot of hearty soup. If you find the greens become somewhat bitter on reheating, add a pinch of sugar and a smidge of vinegar or lemon juice. This seems to brighten the flavors back up.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Must Come Down

Spent some time on the couch with a good book this afternoon (Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. Highly recommended!) but inevitably found myself "on the nods". A strange, repetitive sound eventually roused me from my stupor so doglet and I went outside to investigate. I was stunned to see what appeared to be a HUGE hot air balloon hovering just above the house across the street as the pilot tried again and again to fire it up.
Said pilot successfully maneuvered the thing to a clear spot behind my neighbor's house and set it down without incident. The pooch and I set off on foot to investigate, along with every other dog walker, cyclist, runner, skater and scooter in the vicinity. A van pulled up as we were hoofing it around the block to ask if we'd seen a runaway balloon. When we arrived it was being deflated and was eventually whisked away in the van. The poor pilot roundly ignored all questions and left without a word.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Icicles in Springtime

Made these icicle dolls for a swap on Bad Babies. I've finally realized that I only get things done when I have a deadline so the only way to keep myself from drying up creatively is to join a swap from time to time. Otherwise I'm always planning to play in the studio when I get my other stuff done, only I never seem to get it all done.

I am doing a little better about working in my journal and my first one's nearly full. The key to that's been making a point of trying out different techniques before I have a chance to forget, then incorporating those projects into the journal. It's gone from being something I make myself do to something I'm really starting to enjoy doing. It's my own 'art to keep', that doesn't have to please or measure up to anyone else and I try to slap the inner critic down as soon as she starts yapping.

That reminds me of one of my very favorite movie scenes, from the very terrible movie Bubble Boy. A cow is run over on the highway and a distraught Indian man woefully kneels down to lament the incident. When the kid makes a dismissive statement the guy declares, "I have transgressed against Shiva. Have you ever been karmically bitch-slapped by a six-armed goddess?" I've felt karmically bitch-slapped a time or two in my life. What doesn't kill us we might as well learn to laugh at!

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Which I am Amused by Piglets

Stopped on the way to my friend's house to admire a field full of porkers and little piggies.

I'm spending the night at Debs, who lives in the far southwestern corner of the state, then we're meeting a couple of other gals and driving to Chicago early in the morning to see the the International Quilt Show. This is my first time and I'm really excited.

Is there anything cuter that a piglet? They just make me laugh with their silly antics. This bunch was very curious about me, in spite of Mama Hog's warnings and watchful eye, but jumped and squealed at my slightest move. Then immediately turned around and came back for another sniff. TGIS(pring)!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We don't need no stinkin' chocolate bunnies

Instead of Easter eggs, my sister-friend Patti (the lovely lady pictured above) and I colored heavy paper and file folders. I'm taking a fab stenciling class from the amazing Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch From LA so we spent the afternoon spritzing spray paints and inks and figuring out all kinds of nifty objects to use as stencils and masks.Much more fun than eggs!
While still pretty chilly, it was much less windy today so we were able to work quite a while, at least as long as the sun was shining brightly enough to keep us warm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Blessings!

Made a only a handful of cards this year but here's a glimpse at a couple.
Hope your Easter is joyous. He is risen!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Farewell, Old Friends

Really enjoyed the ER retrospective and series finale last night. It managed to pay homage to many of the show's high points without becoming schmaltzy and even worked in a few nice surprises. And avoided any absurdities, like falling helicopters. Well, aside from the fact that the enormous Carter Center seemingly sprang up from the ground since last week's episode. Did I miss a prior reference to it during a bathroom break or was that a really awkward element? I understand that a plot device was needed to reassemble some of the older characters but this was a most unbelievable aspect. Carter's status-conscious parents wouldn't have been on hand for the dedication? And I won't even go into the whole absurdity that is Kem.

I've missed only a handful of episodes during its 15 year run, largely because of the incredible character development. And my addiction to medical dramas. Not medical melodramas, which are so abundant now. I've enjoyed the remarkable storytelling which included some seriously flawed characters, lots of thought-provoking subplots and ethical dilemmas, and the emotional impact of the show at its best moments. I can forgive the weaker moments (um, okay...seasons) because there always seemed to be a shining jewel or two worked in there somewhere. What show could run for 15 seasons without some duds? And the writers' ability to make me come to love a character I initially despised, like Archie. And to cry over the loss of an unlovable guy like Pratt. Mekhi Phifer really should have been nominated for an Emmy for that performance.

Thinking back to where I was 15 years ago when ER, how far we've come. It's been a treat keeping company with these folks and I'll really miss it. Thank you John Wells for a touching, satisfying, but not overly sentimental sendoff. I appreciate that you didn't wrap everything up in tidy little packages. Totally unnecessary since we've come to know these characters so well.

Boo, hiss to NBC for cramming their replacement shows down our throats the whole evening!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Technique To Revisit

This is a fun way to create distinctive background papers that I learned from my friend Pam Yee. She called it Crazy Paper and I have modified the instructions slightly. I love projects like this that allow me to use up a bunch of the scraps I can't bear to throw away.

Start with a sheet of sticker paper. Remove backing paper from just one segment at a time and plop down miscellaneous bits of cut or torn papers (especially mulberry and tissue papers), candy wrappers, whatever...mosaic-style. Try to keep in mind that you're building from back to front so save things with interesting graphics or texture for the uppermost layer.

Once you've covered the entire sheet, adhere more bits and pieces to cover all spaces where the sticker paper shows. We used gel medium. Now that you have a solid background strategically add little images, threads or fibers, glitter, leafing foil, or whatever you like to add interest and texture. Let dry thorougly. If desired, add a little heat-transfer foil or spray webbing to the dry surface.

Note: Pam's version used waxed paper and a base layer of gel medium instead of the sticker paper. However, I've never been able to peel the waxed paper off the back of my finished sheets. I'm wondering if it would come off a Teflon craft sheet or some of that new Reynolds Release Foil. The advantage to working without the sticker paper is that the final product is a lightweight, flexible, almost plasticized sheet that could be sewn or used in a variety of ways. My way yields a stiffer, thicker, paper-like sheet. Both are lovely.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Squelches With Horses

My kiddo started her first job today, working as a stable hand and assistant at a therapeutic horseback riding program for handicapped children. I'm so proud of her for finding and arranging this for herself but sorry her first day had to be such a cold, rainy and muddy one. Squelching through the mud didn't dampen her enthusiasm any but it sure wore her out.This breed of horses are called Haflingers and they have a wonderful disposition. They look very much alike to me but my girlie is quickly learning to tell one from another and is impatient when I can't readily pick her favorites out of the herd. Go here for more info on the riding program.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Big 5-0!

No, not The Big Birthday. Not yet. I'm celebrating reaching my long-sought, hard-fought goal of losing 50 pounds. I finally made it! This is me before. How embarrassing!
And here I am now, halfway to my 100 pound goal. I always feel better when I get the weight down but this time I'm actually feeling younger, not just better. That's a pretty good motivation to hang in there, even though it's re-al-ly slowww going since I am not dieting but trying to make permanent lifestyle changes.

I'm off to PA in the morning for a few days of househunting and to visit with the hubs. Hopefully I'll stick to my resolve and not gain any weight like I did last time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter's Plumage

Okay, the sun has been up and shining brightly for several hours and it's STILL too danged cold to bear. When I walked out to the mailbox (okay, waddled is more like it, due to all the crap I had to layer on to keep from freezing) something sparkly caught my eye. As it always does. Ahem...I digress.
Waded through the snow to investigate and found the most intriguing formations created by frozen snowmelt, which drips off the TOP of the ice dams on the roof when the sun gets bright enough. Some of the drops accumulated on the end of a little branch; the rest collected on the top of a yew shrub below in a really unusual way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And the winner is...

...Mimi, of the blog Screaming Mimi. I'll mail off your box as soon as I receive your address. Hope you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One World One Heart 2009

My offering for this year's event is a two-parter, consisting of a painted and collaged papier mache box and a necklace.

The pendant is made from a tiny tin with a lid that slides open to reveal a mini collage inside featuring an image transfer and the word "kiss". The outside of the pendant says "Pure passion". Because of various paints and metallic finishes the necklace has proven near-impossible to photograph so trust me when I tell you it'll look much nicer in person and what appears like a black smudge is actually the silhouette of a rose. (Click images to enlarge.)
The focal image on both items is from Christine Adolph's "Rose Print" stamp.

To enter, leave a comment INCLUDING YOUR BLOG OR WEBSITE ADDRESS. Enjoy blog-surfing and good luck!

Just a glimpse...

...of a couple of the ATCs going out to my ongoing swap partner. It's been so great to have time for a few little (non-home related) projects lately. I can really tell the difference in how I feel vs. those weeks (months?) when I don't. And it's cheaper than therapy!

*Big-eyed creature is a found image; artist/source unknown.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President

I feel a great sense of pride in my country on this historic day. I was a child living in the south during the sixties and grew up as the Civil Rights movement grew into fruition. I am so proud that we can not only elect a person of color to our highest office, we can do so with minimal race-based strife and protest. However, I felt deep shame and sorrow when I heard some of the crowd at the inauguration boo President Bush when he was introduced.

Yes, there were mistakes and missteps during his administration. No, I do not agree with a number of his choices and policies. Yet my appreciation for this man's resolve and commitment outshine all my issues with his presidency. There is simply no excuse for the kind of scapegoating going on for so long now. The excerpt from a collaborative article (below) states it far better and more succinctly than I can.

Mr. Bush, my sincerest respect and gratitude for your years of service. Mrs. Bush, you have been tried by fire and are an incredible example of grace and poise.


January 20, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

Farewell, Mr. President
Bush did what he thought was right—and on the biggest issues, what was right.

An NRO Symposium

As George W. Bush prepares to leaves the White House after eight misunderestimated years, National Review Online asked a group of experts in policy and politics to assess his presidency.

I appreciate President Bush for many things. He took great care with the issue of stem-cell research. He was steadfast on “life issues” in general. He withdrew the U.S. from the ABM Treaty, allowing for greater progress on missile defense (vitally important).

He chose Dick Cheney as his running mate, and he became vice president. He made some staffing mistakes, Bush did, but he also named some excellent people who were thought to be “untouchable,” because of their “hard-line” stances. I think particularly of Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, and John Bolton. Two of those men required Senate confirmation. They didn’t get it, blocked by Democrats. Bush gave them recess appointments.

He defeated two men who would have been lamentable in the Oval Office: Al Gore and John Kerry.

In 2000, he grabbed “the third rail of American politics,” running on Social Security reform. He did so again four years later. He tried for this reform, but the country was not ready. It will be someday, when it has no choice. Bush tried to solve another big, stubborn issue: immigration. I was on the other side from him (i.e., I was anti-amnesty), but I admired his willingness to tackle the problem, rather than have it shoved under the rug for another chunk of years.

He nominated excellent judges, including his two on the Supreme Court. He was widely derided for his nomination of Harriet Miers (later withdrawn). He still insists she would have been an excellent justice. Who knows?

He looked the central evil of our time, Islamofascism, in the eye—and did not flinch. He knew we had to go beyond law enforcement and intelligence gathering: that we had to pursue what amounted to another cold war (which, as with the first, would of course include some hot ones). He removed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, effacing two of the worst dictatorships known to man.

And he did what was necessary in the area of “homeland security,” as it came to be called.

He was a friend of Israel, a nation that is virtually friendless, and that deserves friends. He realized that Arafat was a liar and a terrorist—and Arafat had been the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House during the previous eight years. He thought enough of Arabs and Muslims to think that even they deserved freedom and justice, instead of tyranny.

He was a friend to Cubans, who are often friendless—Cubans and Cuban Americans have called him “the first Cuban president”—and he did not forget Chinese political prisoners, even as he dealt with Beijing, as all presidents do.

He showed immense personal charm, ease, and sympathy. When talking to a New Orleanian who had fled to Utah after Hurricane Katrina, he said, “Were you the only black man in Salt Lake City?” When a citizen flipped him the middle finger, he turned to the man sitting next to him and said, “Not a fan.”

He took a tremendous amount of abuse, particularly from elite opinion, and did not buckle. Neither did he lash out. He showed tremendous personal grace, as during the recent shoe-throwing incident in Iraq. He could be a real cool cat, this president. He has his faults, as everyone knows: They have been well gone over. But what has not been well gone over is that he is kind, decent, honest, principled, devout—and full of love.

I’m very glad he was president.

— Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of National Review and the author of Here, There & Everywhere.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Now showing...

...go HERE to view the Cyber Fyber gallery exhibit which opened this week. I am very proud to say that my long-time art buddy Hope Clinchot has won Best in Show with her fabric postcard. You'll find my submission at postcard number 117.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy 2009!

The weekend after Christmas DH helped me take down and stow away our enormous Christmas tree, then we made a break for it during the first break in the weather. We dropped Darcy off at Puppy Camp, left my car at the Detroit airport, and I rode back to Pennsylvania with him. He's living in Harrisburg and working at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station, located on an island (not three miles long) in the middle of the Susquehanna River. I took this picture from a ridge just behind the training building, where DH works.

A few minutes west or south of the plant and you're in Amish country. We came to love the serene beauty of Amish farming communities when we lived in Ohio and the hills of Lancaster County, PA make this area even more appealing. We spent almost a week driving the region, scouting for possible areas to search for our next home. So far this is our favorite prospect.

After a cancellation due to freezing rain and fog in Detroit (and an extra day with DH!) I flew back to Michigan on the 5th and I'm now buckling down on looking for a job and will be brainstorming with our wonderful realtor on selling our home here. 2009 WILL be the year we sell this house and I move to Pennsylvania!! So be it. Amen. What are your goals and dreams for 2009?