Monday, June 13, 2011

Love Letters

I am a sap.

A romantic.


And I'm darned proud of that fact.

Here are a few excerpts from famous love letters.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:
"You have touched me even more profoundly that I thought even you could touch me - my heart was full when you came here today.  Henceforward, I am yours for everything".

If I were writing my wedding vows, I would surely include those words.

Lord Randolph Churchill wrote:
"Dearest, if you are as fond of me as I am of you , nothing human could keep us long apart.  This past week seems an eternity tome; oh, I would give my soul for another of those days we had not long ago."

Juliette Drouet wrote this to Victor Hugo:
"You are not only the solar spectrum with the seven luminous colors, but the sun himself, that illumines, warms, and revivifies. That is what you are, and I am the lowly woman that adores you".

And James Joyce wrote the following to his wife:
"You are my only love. You have me completely in your power. I know and feel that if I am to write anything fine and noble in the future I shall do so only by listening at the doors of your heart. I would like to go through life side by side with you, telling you more and more until we grew to be one being together until the hour should come for us to die".

Then of course, there's John Keats:
"My dear girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have know you, the more I have loved. In every way - even my jealousies have been agonies of Love, in the hottest fit I have ever had, I would die for you.".

In this age of electronics, we've become lazy.

When was the last time you sat down and wrote out how you feel about someone? 

An honest to goodness handwritten letter; a thing you can hold, written with love.  Is there anything better?

Even if you're feeling it from a distance, even if they never get to see it, write it down. 

It's tangible.  You can run your fingers across it. 

It's priceless.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dear 16 Year Old Me

Dear Blogger World,

Summer is right around the corner.  In my neck o' the woods, it feels like it's already here.

Summertime, I love you.  Maybe it's because I'm an August baby, I don't know. 

When I was a little girl, I had the most beautiful red hair.  My mom used to tell me that she could spot me a mile away (thank you, Pop).  And, being the typical teenager, that loved the summertime, I also loved the beach.  I'm fair skinned too, did I mention that?  Or my freckles?

Get the picture?

Dear 16 Year Old Me is a YouTube Public Service Announcement about skin cancer.  Please watch it, with you're teenagers, if you have them.  Nieces, nephews, grandkids, whatever.  If you're best friend has teenagers, share it with them.  And ask them to share it with their friends. 

And if you feel so inclined, buy them some sunscreen too!

Skin Cancer can kill you.  Let's all heed that old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Summer Break, aka, What Have I Been Doing Lately

Hello there!  Fancy meeting you here ..  it's been quite a long time.

What have I been doing lately ...

It involves this ...

And the use of these these ...
Pneumatic Nail Gun

Saw, power and otherwise



Auger, aka, post hole digger, aka, tool from Hell

And these, indirectly ...

and remember him ...
Linus, 5 months - 60 lbs
he used to look like this ...

It also involves lots of this ...

I'm just hoping to survive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holy Cow! Bibs!

I've been on vacation.  No, not since the last time I posted, but I was busy getting ready to go on vacation.  My house had to have a massively thorough cleaning BEFORE I went on vacation.  We're talking wiping down walls and baseboard, just short of repainting, cleaning.  Ceilings, walls, and all matter of flooring got my attention.

I'm weird like that.

I had a blast; thank you for asking.  I actually stayed home.  Yeah, I'm weird like that too.

But this little guy and his Mama came to see me!

My 7 month old grandson, Matthew Ryan, and my middle daughter, Holly, flew in from Texas for 10 days.  Although the weather was a little too cold to do the things I wanted to do, like going to the National Zoo, or visiting museums in Washington DC, I think we still had a good time just hanging out. 

And I was able to give my daughter a break from being mom, all the time, for a bit.  Not that she isn't completely and totally in love with her little man.  She said he a vital part of her, like an organ .. kind of wonky, but I know what she means.  Still, she was able to go out to dinner and hang out a bit with some old friends; two of which are pregnant now. 

You want to hear bizarre?  I sat in a chair in my living room listening to these three girls (I still see them as girls and probably always will) talk about pregnancy and babies and I was blown away.  For me it was a surreal conversation, because I still think of them as the collage aged kids working at TGI Fridays.  They're all grown up and having families of their own.  I'm still amazed!

Any whoo ... little man is teething and boy can he soak some bibs. 

Stephanie, one of the friends that is now expecting her own little one in September, made Holly some bibs and she loves them.  Holly claims they are the best things ever!  EVER!  So I thought I would break out the old sewing machine and make her some more, collaberating with Stephanie, of course (because the last thing I made was a toddler dress for my now 19 year old). 

This is the first set, of three, I made.  I wasn't thrilled with how they turned out, but I love that fabric.
I was really happy with these. Here's how I did it!

I purchased 1/2 yard of each flannel pattern and 1-1/2 yeards of white terry cloth (Holly and I thought we would double the terry, but decided against it.  We feared it would be too bulky.  Becuase I'm a rusty at sewing, I only got 3 bibs out of the flannel.  I left myself plenty of room for error.

Here's my inspiration bib (note what it says please).  I washed and ironed all my fabic first.  Yes the edges are frayed; I told you it's been a long time since I've done any sewing.  Then I laid the flannel, wrong side out, on top of the terry cloth.  I pinned them together.  I also pinned my inspiration bib to the material and traced the outline with a marker.  After outlining, I removed the bib and re-pinned the material together and cut it out.  You can see that the top of the inspiration bib is closed, however, I was using velcro, so I just folded the cut pattern in half and cut through the top (forming two piece to go around his little neck - see the photo above). 

I ran a straight stitch around the outer edges, leaving the bottom open.  Holly wanted the neck to be bigger than the inspiration bib, so using the machine foot as a guide, I stitched the neck twice and just cut the fabic back to the inner line of stitching (effectively making the neck larger).  Snip the fabric edges along your outer and inner corners a bit;  This will stop to fabric from bunching in those areas when your turn it. Turn the fabric right side out.  Here's a trick, I used a long wooden kitchen spoon handle to help with getting the corners turned out. 
Once I turn the fabric right side out, I ironed it again, turning in the bottom edges in that were left open.  I then ran another straight stitch around all the edges (hemming the bottom at the same time) for reforcement.  I sewed a strip of velcro on the back of the neck to close. 

And I should have taken more photos with more steps to show you.   Sorry.

But I do have this one.  He's such a happy little guy.  I love you to pieces Matthew!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let there be .. Light!

So I'm thinking of doing some re-decorating in my home.  I've done some things, but I'm talking major room make-over, baby! 

Away, cutesy, coziness.  In with fresh, crisp, and a bit modern.

Psst .. I have other projects going on and I'll share when they are done.  I promise.

No really, I promise.

My idea is this ..

1. Headboard - I want to visit our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and get some things to make a headboard for my bed.  No, I do not have a headboard.  Yes, I have to fish out my pillows at least once during the night.  So annoying!

2.  Textiles - I'm scouring for some amazing fabric to jazz some simple panel curtains in the bedroom (just a strip of fabric) and maybe I'll make a matching duvet cover and some pillow cases.  We just aren't sham kinda people.  And, I'm sewing skillz are rusty ... and limited.  I'm going to make up for that with passion though.

3. Paint - I'm going to paint, duh ....

4. Dressers - I don't know there.  I'm dying to find a decently-made worn dresser on Craigslist, or at a thrift store (feel free to translate that to cheap) and refinish or paint it.  I'm also toying with just panting what I have currently.  Or!  I'm thinking of just buying a nice low long dresser for the room and being done with it. 

5.  Closets - Doors would be nice.

6. Lighting - I want to try turning my bed on the diagonal between the two windows of the bedroom and hanging one of these charming little beauties smak-dab in the middle of the bed, or up at the head .. or maybe, that's a bit too weird.  One on either side?

Now, seriously, isn't it obvious which one it will be?

You don't need to spend top dollar for a high end look.

Just sayin', but that's me.

Did you ever find that one thing that just started the ball rolling? 

I once re-painted my entire kitchen because my color scheme wouldn't allow me to use these adorable penguin themed Christmas tins I found on clearance.  Then I only put them out that one year.

Yes, I'm nuts like that; just ask my girls.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


We have puppies! 

We have eight puppies.  We have a gaggle of puppies!

They try my patience.

They are a lot of work.

They sleep like this ...

And play like this ...   

I have to admit, being this cute should be illegal ...


But mostly, they're just getting big!

Whew, I'm exhausted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sweet Endings - Baklava

Baklava.  Bak-la-va.  Bak-lava!  Any way you choose to pronounce it, it translates into ooey-gooey
sweet 'n nutty goodness!

I've wanted to make this for some time now.  But, I've always been intimidated by the whole process.  Well, it wasn't hard.  Tedious is the word I would use.  You do have to be very careful with the phyllo dough.  The little darlings are frail and delicate.  Just remember, keep them covered with a damp (not wet) kitchen towel when you're not working with them.  Also, I thawed both rolls of phyllo dough, but I didn't open the second until I actually needed it.

I scoured the internet for recipes for baklava and just took an understanding on the flavors involved and the technique used and ran with it.

I strained the syrup
1-1/2 c water
1-1/2 c white sugar
1 c honey
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
one lemon, zested and juiced

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, add all your ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain into a large measuring cup and place in the refrigerator until you need it. 

1 box of phyllo dough, thawed using the manufacturer's instructions (there should be 2 rolls)
4 c of nuts (I used a combo of roasted pistachio and walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F ( I did mine at 325 degrees because I was using a glass pan).  Brush the entire interior of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with melted butter.  Wet a kitchen towel and wring it out until it's damp.  Set aside.  Add the nuts and cinnamon to your food processor and pulse to a fine chopped.  You do not want them ground into a paste.  Dump your nuts a bowl and set them to the side.  Unroll your phyllo dough, lay it out on a large cutting board, or flat surface, and trim to fit the inside of your pan, leaving one sheet whole.  Cover any dough that your are not working with with the damp towel. Take the whole sheet and carefully lay it in the pan.  Gently work it into the corners and up the side.  Brush with butter.  Lay one of the trimmed phyllo dough on top and brush with butter.  Repeat until you have 8 sheets of dough in the pan.  Sprinkle a thin layer of the nut mixture on the dough.  Add three more layers of dough, buttering each one.  Repeat the nut and dough process until you either run out of nuts, or room in your pan (leave enough room for your final layers.  End with a layer of eight sheets of butter dough.  
Look at all those layers!
Here's the hard part, using a very, very sharp knife cut the baklava into to serving sized pieces.  Traditionally it's cut into little diamond shaped pieces, but I can't draw a straight line much less cut out diamonds.

Bake for 50 minutes. 

Once you remove the baklava from the oven, pour your syrup all over the top and set aside.  When it cools to room temperature, cover with foil and leave overnight.


Afterthoughts:  This is a very sweet dessert.  Believe me when I say you will not want this every day.  When I make this again I'll probably 1.  make a smaller batch and 2.  add more phyllo dough between layers, maybe five sheets instead of three .. but that's me.