October 31, 2009

Reading "Change of Heart"

Change of HeartJodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. I've read all of her books and enjoyed every one of them immensely. A few have even been made into movies -- "The Pact," "Plain Truth," "My Sister's Keeper."

I just finished reading "Change of Heart," published in 2008. This book kept me hooked from page one and right through to the end ... 449 pages of pure enjoyment.

It's about a man on death row in New Hampshire for killing two people -- a police officer and his young stepdaughter. The wife/mother of the victims is pregnant at the time of the murders and gives birth to a daughter with an unfortunate, life-threatening medical condition.

Without giving too much away, I can tell you that strange happenings on death row brings frenzied public attention to the prisoner and he is believed to be the Messiah.

jodi picoultThere are many moral issues in this story such as where do religion and state meet, what constitutes a religion and as the quote says on the front jacket of the book, "Would you grant your enemy's dying wish to save your child's life?"

Very well-written. Jodi Picoult is so thorough in her research. Her characters feel like people you know. There are twists and turns in this story right to the very satisfying ending.

Visit her website at http://www.jodipicoult.com.

Happy Halloweenies

Hope you have an exceptionally


and your candy consumption doesn't leave you like this ...


Free Gifs & Animations http://www.fg-a.com

October 30, 2009

The Future Looks Cold

We celebrated The Granddaughter's 13th birthday a few nights ago with dinner and gifts. She requested dinner out at a Mexican food restaurant, which was way too delicious and a lot of fun.

While we're sitting around chatting -- and I'm not even sure how we got to this point in the conversation -- Youngest Daughter says to me something like, "If you're mean to me, when you're old I'll stick you in a home surrounded by snow." Well, of course, everyone is horrified (and laughing) because they all know how much I dislike living in the cold and snow. I was born in a cold weather area, grew up in cold weather areas and have lived as an adult in numerous cold weather areas. This is why I have now chosen to live in Phoenix, where cold is in the 60s.

Hubby turns to me and says, "Better get some long underwear, girlfriend, 'cause I know you're gonna be mean!"

*sigh* Sadly, he's right. The older I get, the crankier I get. Better learn how to knit socks!!!

And then while we were opening presents, my cheap bastard frugality got a good laugh, too. In the garage, I have a bookshelf full of gift bags that we use over and over and over and over. You get the idea. So granddaughter pulls the tissue out of one of her gifts and

Nana should spring for new gift bag tissue

even I have to admit it's disgraceful! The next time one of the neighbor kids comes by with a fundraiser for their school, I am buying a new pack of tissue!

October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Princess!

little-mermaid-arielHappy 13th Birthday

to our sweet

Granddaughter --

our own

Little Mermaid!

Enjoy your

teenage years...

Nana and Bampa love you very much!!!

October 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Dog Pillow for Sale

Nice soft dog pillow for sale
Nice soft dog pillow for sale!?!?
Wordless Wednesday

Doo Wop Oldies Quiz

Billboard 1950sThirty great memories about music that caused

our parents and teachers grief! Take the quiz

and see how you score as a true 'Oldies Fan.'

Write down your answers and check them against

the answers at the end.

1. When did 'Little Suzie' finally wake up? 

(a) The movie's over, it's 2 o'clock

(b) The movie's over, it's 3 o'clock

(c) The movie's over, it's 4 o'clock

2. 'Rock Around The Clock' was used in what movie?

(a) Rebel Without A Cause

(b) Blackboard Jungle

(c) The Wild Ones

3. What's missing from a Rock & Roll standpoint? Earth _____

(a) Angel

(b) Mother

(c) Worm

4. 'I found my thrill...' where?

(a) Kansas City

(b) Heartbreak Hotel

(c) Blueberry Hill

5. 'Please turn on your magic beam, _____ _____ bring me a dream.'

(a) Mr. Sandman

(b) Earth Angel

(c) Dream Lover

6. For which label did Elvis Presley first record?

(a) Atlantic

(b) RCA

(c) Sun

7. He asked, 'Why's everybody always pickin' on me?' Who was he?

(a) Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

(b) Charlie Brown

(c) Buster Brown

8. Bobby Darin's 'Mack The Knife,' the one with the knife, was named:

(a) MacHeath

(b) MacCloud

(c) MacNamara

9. Name the song with 'A-wop bop a-loo bop a-lop bam boom.'

(a) Good Golly, Miss Molly

(b) Be-Bop-A-Lula

(c) Tutti Fruitti

10. Who is generally given credit for originating the term

Rock And Roll? 

(a) Dick Clark

(b) Wolfman Jack

(c) Alan Freed

11. In 1957, he left the music business to become a preacher:

(a) Little Richard

(b) Frankie Lymon

(c) Tony Orlando

12. Paul Anka's 'Puppy Love' is written to what star?

(a) Brenda Lee

(b) Connie Francis

(c) Annette Funicello

13. The Everly Brothers are...

(a) Pete and Dick

(b) Don and Phil

(c) Bob and Bill

14. The Big Bopper's real name was:

(a) Jiles P. Richardson

(b) Roy Harold Scherer Jr.

(c) Marion Michael Morrison

15. In 1959, Berry Gordy, Jr., started a small record company


(a) Decca

(b) Cameo

(c) Motown

16. Edd Brynes had a hit with 'Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.'

What TV show was he on?

(a) 77 Sunset Strip

(b) Hawaiian Eye

(c) Surfside Six

17. In 1960 Bob by Darin married:

(a) Carol Lynley

(b) Sandra Dee

(c) Natalie Wood

18. They were a one hit wonder with 'Book Of Love:'

(a) The Penguins

(b) The Monotones

(c) The Moonglows

19. The Everly Brothers sang a song called 'Till I ________ You.'

(a) Loved

(b) Kissed

(c) Met

20. Chuck Berry sang 'Oh, ___________, why can't you be true?'

(a) Suzie Q

(b) Peggy Sue

(c) Maybelline

21. 'Wooly _______'

(a) Mammouth

(b) Bully

(c) Pully

22. 'I'm like a one-eyed cat...'

(a) can't go into town no more

(b) sleepin' on a cold hard floor

(c) peepin' in a seafood store

23. 'Sometimes I wonder what I'm gonna do...'

(a) cause there ain't no answer for a life without booze

(b) cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

(c) cause my car's gassed up and I'm ready to cruise

24. 'They often call me Speedo, but my real name is...'

(a) Mr. Earl

(b) Jackie Pearl

(c) Milton Berle

25. 'You're my Fanny and nobody else's...'

(a) girl

(b) butt

(c) love

26. 'I want you to play with my _________'

(a) heart

(b) dreams

(c) ding a ling

27. 'Be Bop A Lula...'

(a) she's got the rabies

(b) she's my baby

(c) she loves me, maybe

28. 'Fine Love, Fine Kissing...'

(a) right here

(b) fifty cents

(c) just for you

29. 'He wore black denim trousers and...'

(a) a pink carnation

(b) pink leotards

(c) motorcycle boots

30. 'I got a gal named...'

(a) Jenny Zamboni

(b) Gerri Mahoney

(c) Boney Maroney

Answers: Scroll Down

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1. (c) The movie's over, it's 4 o'clock

2. (b) Blackboard Jungle

3. (a) Angel

4. (c) Blueberry Hill

5. (a) Mr. Sandman

6. (c) Sun

7. (b) Charlie Brown

8. (a) Mac Heath

9. (c) Tutti Fruitti

10. (c) Alan Freed

11. (a) Little Richard

12. (c) Annette Funicello

13. (b) Don and Phil

14. (a) Jiles P. Richardson

15. (c) Motown

16. (a) 77 Sunset Strip

17. (b) Sandra Dee

18. (b) The Monotones

19. (b) Kissed

20. (c) Maybelline

21. (b) Bully

22. (c) peepin' in a seafood store

23. (b) cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

24. (a) Mr. Earl

25. (b) butt

26. (c) ding a ling

27. (b) she's my baby

28. (a) right here

29. (c) motorcycle boots

30. (c) Boney Maroney

I received this in an email from my oldest daughter who says she

only missed 10. Well, I'm obviously not as good a guesser as she

is ... I missed 12! Have fun!!!

October 26, 2009

Dust on the Fridge

Remember that beautiful song by Kansas ... "Dust in the Wind." It looks like that inside our house right now.

Tile demolition - foyer

If you've watched "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on TV, you know that demolition is the FUN part of the process. They turn it into a party and everyone smiles and oohs and aahs and there are hundreds of people running around in blue shirts to help. Well, it's not like that here!

Hubby rented a Demo Hammer to break up and remove the white tile throughout the house. In addition to the flying tile fragments and jackhammer loud noise, the dust floating through the air kept setting off the smoke alarms. Since they're hard-wired into the house with our alarm system, you can't just take out the batteries to make them stop. The neighbors probably think I'm the worst cook in the world after two days of this.

Tile demolition - kitchen

Hubby blasted out and shoveled tile and made numerous trips to the city dump. I helped with a little shoveling and carting tile. I was better with the shop vac, cleaning up in his wake. He is a one-man tasmanian devil when it comes to stuff like this.

You know they love their manly tools. A few years ago, I came home from work on a Saturday afternoon and he called me into the back yard. "Honey, come look what I got today." He's standing there with a chain saw -- on an extension pole -- to trim the tall Queen Palms in our yard. Big grin, pulling on the start cord and revving the engine. Scary and cute!

So now we're cleaning the dust off of everything. Finally got the kitchen back in working order yesterday and needed a little comfort so I baked a bundt cake last night. It tasted great -- no tile dust!

We're planning to get all the baseboards painted before the new tile is laid and, fortunately, we won't be doing that part ourselves. We have real, honest-to-goodness tile guys coming in a week to do that. Yay!

So when I was a teenager, I babysat for a family in our neighborhood. The mom was always so much fun to talk to, I'd go hang out with her even when I wasn't sitting. I remember she climbed on a chair to get something from the cupboard over her refrigerator once. She gasped in outrage and said something very unladylike. Her husband had written the date (quite a few months earlier) in the dust on top of her fridge and a note ... Clean Me. Still makes me laugh!

October 23, 2009

Reading "Speak"

speakThis book nearly leaves me speechless. It brought back to me all the tough parts of high school -- anxiety, awkwardness, the yearning to fit in. My high school years were a long time ago so I can't even imagine how much tougher it's become on today's kids.

Melinda is entering her freshman year of high school after calling the cops a few months before, breaking up an end-of-year party. So, of course, everyone is mad at her. All of her friends have abandoned her. And, unfortunately, she can't bring herself to tell them all what really happened at the party and why she did it.

She finds that introverting and saying as little as possible is the only way to function. Even her family seems to be going through a foundering dysfunctional phase. Finding out what brought all this about and how she drags herself out of the downward spiral it causes makes this a fascinating read. With only 198 pages, it's also a quick read.
laurie halse anderson
laurie halse anderson
This is a first novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson in 1999. Check out her website at http://writerlady.com. It has won numerous honors and awards and is really an excellent book, especially if you have kids in the middle school/high school age group. Even if you don't, wrap yourself in a blanket, make yourself a cup of something warm and settle in. It's like visiting high school again without being afraid you'll forget your locker combination.

And speaking of reading, I've finally joined a book club. Yay! I've wanted to do this for years and just recently was invited to join a small group of lovely ladies that I know from a charitable organization I've worked with.

They meet once a month, discuss a little reading and drink some wine. One of the members says it's a wine club and we read a little. :-) The first book I've read with the group is "The Lost Symbol," Dan Brown's latest and greatest. (Mom, I will send it to you eventually.) What a fun discussion. Especially when there are things like religion and politics involved. Woo hoo! Pour another glass of cabernet.

October 22, 2009

Knitted Jackets

If I could knit 24 hours a day, there would never be enough time to make all the beautiful things on my list. I just treated myself to a new book -- "Knitted Jackets: 20 Designs from Classic to Contemporary" by Cheryl Oberle. (The cover design is called the Bloomsbury Jacket.)

knitted jackets

Even though we live in a warm weather area, there are still a few months in the year when we can wear a jacket comfortably and not look like goobers. There are some gorgeous patterns to choose from in this book. Here are my four faves, starting with the Box Top. Just look at the texture!

box top
box top
The Three Sisters is not only comfortable and classy looking, but especially fitting since I have two amazing sisters.

three sisters
three sisters
Dakota on the Side just looks so cozy and has a little bit of southwestern flair.

dakota on the side
dakota on the side
I love a cute shrug and this ivory Leaves jacket has that feel. The lacy leaf pattern is gorgeous!

ivory leaves
ivory leaves
I already have so many things going on the needles right now, it will probably be next year before I can even think of starting one of these. But I can dream ...

October 21, 2009

Hocus Pocus

For at least the last 5 years, the granddaughter and I plan one night a year to watch "Hocus Pocus." It gets us mentally ready for Halloween and fees like Fall. My youngest daughter joined us this year and we had our annual "Hocus Pocus" extravaganza.
This movie is so much fun and so campy. I love all three of the witches played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, it's about the Sanderson sisters, three witches who have been put to death for sucking the life out of children. A curse they had made will allow them to return to life when a virgin lights a candle in their house on Halloween -- All Hallow's Eve. It takes 300 years for this to happen and they make the most of their night.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the witchy sisters are escaping from the school and their special brooms have been taken by some trick-or-treaters so they fly away on a broom, a mop and a vacuum. Cracks me up every time. The music is fun, too. I find myself channeling Bette Midler, singing "I Put a Spell on You" for days after viewing.

So we made a pot of tomato soup and some wonderfully gooey grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Then tried a brownie mix I had a coupon for -- Pillsbury Brownie Minis. Perfection. Then we dipped caramel apples, although we were all too full to eat them right away. Used Concord Foods Microwave Caramel Apple Kit, which is great. Comes with sticks and a tub of caramel. Couldn't be easier.
On a knitting note, I finished baby sister's birthday shrug. It is very cute and very warm. First long-sleeved shrug I've made. This one is completely hand-knit but I think I've figured out how to do most of it on the knitting machine, which is so much faster; then I'll add the collar ribbing and maybe the cuffs by hand.

Her birthday isn't until the end of November, but I think I'm going to have to send it in advance. It's chilly enough to wear it now so why wait?
Although the yarn is so dark it's hard to see the detail, here is a photo of my youngest daughter modeling it.

October 20, 2009

October 19, 2009

Reading "The Lost Symbol"

Dan Brown has done it again. "The Lost Symbol" is a fascinating story set in Washington, D.C. The idea that there are so many tunnels and hidden rooms and artifacts in and among the buildings in our nation's capital really intrigues me. These are things that have been in place for hundreds of years, put there by our forefathers.

One of the things I enjoy most about his books is the fact that they open my mind to new possibilities and ideas. There are so many ways to look at things if we just allow ourselves the leeway. We tend to become so sure that we are right about something when there are many other ways to view it that may lead to new revelations. I am a very black and white thinker so this type of  thought process is frustrating, but exhilarating as well.

I love puzzles. Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaws, even Wheel of Fortune! As each one is revealed, the puzzles of Masonic symbolism that run through this book are amazing to watch unfold with the plot. The whole thing takes place in one night, which is a lot of fast-paced action in 509 pages. He does an excellent job of weaving short chapters together, moving you back and forth between several settings, all happening at once.

Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist and professor we met in "The Da Vinci Code," is invited to D.C. to speak at the U.S. Capitol Building by Peter Solomon, his long-time friend and mentor. When he arrives, he receives a different kind of invitation in the form of a horrifying object, the first symbol to be decoded and understood.

I felt that the villain in this novel was such a sad, misguided person. He did horribly cruel things all the way through, but I just couldn't help feeling sorry for him. Which is so unlike me! I'm usually of the hang 'em high mentality when it comes to criminals and evil.

All in all, I thought "The Lost Symbol" was well done and very enjoyable!

Happy Birthday, Rock 'n Roll Nephew

rock n rollHappy 18th Birthday

to our sweetie pie

Rock 'n Roll


Love you bunches!!!

October 17, 2009

Mexican Speed Bump

Now doesn't that sound like a cocktail you might have with chips and salsa? In fact, it is a government-backed invention in Mexico created to slow traffic. I read about this Smart Speed Bump in the Arizona Republic recently and it seems like a good idea.

Smart Speed BumpDecano Industries in Toluca, Mexico, has created a speed bump that measures the force of impact from a vehicle, falling flat if it is moving at or below the speed limit. If the vehicle is going too fast, the speed bump remains raised.

Apparently, it is rugged, requires no electricity, costs about $1,500 for a single lane and will last approximately 10 years with an annual maintenance cost of only $50.

When we moved to Phoenix, we noticed that drivers really fly on these streets. It finally dawned on me why this is ... there aren't many potholes to speak of which allows for much higher speeds. The nice weather and lack of snow and plows and salt leave the streets in pretty good shape year-round. The mountain town we came from had potholes the size of a car -- or at least it felt like it when you hit one.

So far, photo radar has been the answer to slowing down speeders here. Maybe, once Mexico has completed their patent and started manufacturing the Smart Speed Bump, we'll have a test run in Phoenix.

October 16, 2009

The S Word

SWhen the granddaughter was in kindergarten, she came home from school and told us that someone got in trouble for saying the S word. Of course, we were horrified and fascinated all at the same time. Uh oh, the S Word -- these are 5-year-olds!

We wanted to make sure she was talking about the same word we were thinking -- s**t -- so we asked her to tell us what the word was.

Once we assured her she wouldn't get in trouble for saying it just this one time, she told us ...


After we got done laughing with relief, we realized they were right. Stupid is a bad word to call someone else!

I am a Collector

We moved into this house just over 11 years ago, having moved from a much larger house. We did not throw anything away before we moved and have not since. I am a pack rat saver. Oh, this 4" piece of yellow ribbon? I may be able to use that for something someday. I can't throw away that empty bottle. I could ... put something in it. Never happens.

Since we've been painting most of the house, we've started cleaning and organizing cupboards and drawers. Lord have mercy! I have become ruthless. Unless I am using it in the next 15 minutes, it is out of here.

Cut the ClutterSo while cleaning off one of our numerous bookshelves, we found a book I bought at least 7 years ago when I apparently realized things were getting scary. It is "Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff," edited by Lori Baird, published by Rodale.

Chapter 1 is entitled "What's Your Clutter Style?" Included is a 3-part test to determine just what kind of clutter type personality you are. Primary clutter types are the Collector, the Concealer, the Accumulator and the Tosser.

I am a Collector. Basically, the Collector collects things with a certain amount of obsessiveness. Their collecting appears to have a goal and they are always striving to complete their collection. Eventually, a Collector has a collection of collections.

Unfortunately, this is very true. Whenever I do anything, I have to have everything. Current collections displayed in the house and stored in the garage include cake decorating stuff, beading supplies, tole painting supplies, cookbooks, knitting supplies and knitting books, milk glass, cobalt glass and just plain books.

Okay, so I know I need to sell most of the cake decorating stuff. I doubt I will be doing much of that in the future. I'll keep the airbrush, a few of the pans and my tackle box of decorating tips, but everything else is going to have to go. The beading supplies I'm going to keep. A few times a year I get a wild hair and pull it all out and make a bracelet or something. Same thing with the tole painting supplies and pattern books. I occasionally like to paint something.

Buying books, in general, is one of my addictions. I really can't help it -- it runs in the family. My sisters and I each completed a questionnaire a few years ago and one of the questions was If you could spend $1,000 on a shopping spree anywhere, where would it be? And we all answered a book store. See? It's not my fault.

I have somewhere around 200 cookbooks. I love them and read them all. Hubby thinks it's funny that I will get in bed with a cookbook and read it like a novel. Hey, I learn stuff and I might want to cook something! I buy a lot of cookbooks and many have been given to me as gifts. I am planning to go to a cookbook signing in a few weeks for The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond -- and, yes, I do need another one.

I have in the neighborhood of 75 knitting books and I adore every one of them. Reading patterns is like reading recipes. My brain gets so excited about all the possibilities! My stash of yarn is still under control, although I have it spread out through a couple of places in the house.

I'm not sure when I began to collect milk glass, but I have a nice grouping of serving pieces that I use. Beautiful bowls and gorgeous cake stands, plates, vases, candle holders. And I use them all. I have this faint memory of a relative saying, "Girls, use your good stuff, 'cause if you don't, his next wife will." I have always used my good stuff. Linens, china, crystal, silver. If it's going to get ruined, I am going to be the one to do it.

Hubby took the test as well. He is primarily a Concealer, although his scores were pretty evenly spaced between the 4 categories. The Concealer has his stuff neatly packed away or hidden so that an outsider won't catch on to the fact that he has clutter, too. The Concealer loves storage containers of all types and his items are often neatly stacked and labeled, maybe even color coded. Hey, I think they've seen Hubby's garage.

Here are some of my (so far) favorite quotes from the book:

  • When decluttering becomes inevtable, the clutterer becomes depressed. Eventually, though, he gets over it. After all, there's always more clutter where that came from.

  • Every day is a new, clutter-free beginning.

  • The Crafter is a subset of the Collector and Accumulator Clutter Types. The Crafter has a propensity for collecting things--often otherwise useless things--to use in future craft projects. The Crafter has never met a margarine tub she didn't keep.

I should have taken some before and after pictures of some of our cupboards and drawers. The befores would be perfect horrifying, scary shots since it's nearing Halloween. The good news is we are really getting organized, making piles for keeping, donating and garage sale-ing. Whew, I feel about 1,000 pounds lighter!

October 14, 2009

In celebration of a new shower curtain

bathroom 2

bathroom 1

This is what my life has become. I have been reduced to taking pictures of our bathroom. We have finished painting the guest bathroom (Spice Cake) and bought a new shower curtain and rod. And, it looks pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself ... and you know I do.

Hubby was excited about getting one of those circular shower rods that extends the shower curtain outside of the tub at the top, giving you a lot more elbow room. Once he installed it and we hung the new curtain, we both stepped into the tub, closed the curtain and just giggled. Then our youngest daughter and granddaughter came over, went in to see it and did the same thing. Maybe we should charge admission. It really is great to have the extra room while showering.

We are going to be replacing the white floor tile as well. You can see our sample in the corner by the tub. There's a lot of gold in it. Looks very pretty and we're planning to have everything done before Thanksgiving when company comes to visit from Denver.

The bathroom looks so nice -- all fresh and new and kinda elegant for a bathroom -- that I thought maybe we should call it The Royal Bathroom. Then I read in one of my favorite blogs (http://4badbill.wordpress.com) that they had a bathroom in Scotland they called The Royal Flush ... for entirely different reasons, but still. Is this synchronicity or would that be sink-chronicity?

October 12, 2009

Prelude to the Holidays

I've always considered "the Holidays" to be the stretch of fall and winter encompassing Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. As a child growing up in areas with four seasons, Labor Day signaled the end of summer, school started with the purchase of new winter clothes, and we were off on a hard ride through fall eagerly anticipating costumes and trick or treating.

Living in Phoenix,  the one thing I really miss about the four seasons is fall. I miss the trees turning colors and the cooler temperatures. Although we'll be back up to 99 degrees on Friday (10/16), we've been fortunate to have some beautiful fall weather for this area already with temps in the low 80s.

Still, other than walking into a craft store stacked to the rafters with fall colors in flowers, leaves and ribbons, it can be tough to get that fall feeling here. There is a wonderful traveling arts and crafts show, the Briar Patch Marketplace, that moves from school to school in the Valley on the weekends. They have over 100 exhibitors with all kinds of great products, many hand-made, for purchase. Here is the video clip from their website taken during a Christmas show in late November. Check out the ladies shopping in shorts and sandals -- that's Phoenix!

We did a family girls' day out last Sunday and five of us attended the Briar Patch. Myself, both of my daughters, granddaughter and step-granddaughter went and had the best time. We looked at every little thing. We read every hand-painted sign -- some of our favorites ...
  • Who needs Halloween. I'm a witch all year.
  • Kiss me good night every night.
  • We've been through a lot together and most of it was your fault.
  • Family ... started with two people falling in love.
Halfway through, we stopped and shared a couple of the delicious, enormous cinnamon rolls they sell. Just, yum! I gave the kids a small allowance to spend and they worked it, each getting 3 items for $10 -- an animal jewelry box with a necklace inside, Avon body paint soap and a peanut brittle cookie. They are pretty good little shoppers! Having promised myself (and hubby) that I would not bring home one more decoration for the house, since we are currently organizing and getting rid of stuff, I was able to wander through and just enjoy the atmosphere. My two granddaughters out front, giggling and inspecting everything; my two daughters walking behind, talking non-stop. It was absolutely perfect.

peanut brittle
I did spend $5.00 on a package of peanut brittle for hubby made by Fresh From Rowie's in Glendale. This is one of his favorite treats that I've never even attempted to make. A woman who worked with him years ago is the grand master peanut brittle maker with an old family recipe. She makes it on the soft side so it melts in your mouth more than breaking your teeth. Hubby occasionally sees her during the holidays and I am always so glad because she gives him peanut brittle and cures his craving.

So we spent a lovely few hours at the craft fair, then had lunch at In-N-Out Burger. It was definitely not a low-fat day. But what a marvelous time and shopping at the craft fair sure helped kick me into the fall spirit.

A few years back, we spent a week on Cape Cod during September. The colors were just beginning to turn. I got a package of New England post cards to bring home. Here is one of my favorites ...
new england fall foliage photo by james randklev
photo by james randklev

October 11, 2009

What's Cookin' - Calabacitas

My sweetie pie brother-in-law (hubby's brother) came over to visit and help with the removing of painting tape and rehanging of blinds and curtains. Bless his heart, he brought a beautiful marinated steak to grill and the makings of Calabacitas. This is a dish that my mother-in-law made when they were growing up. I've never had it before, but I am going to be making it now!

It is a great way to use fresh veggies from your garden or the farmers' market. He equated it to a Mexican succotash. It is very easy to make and so flavorful. It smelled stomach-growling incredible and tasted even better.


1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 or 2 zucchini, diced
1 or 2 yellow squash, diced
8 oz. frozen corn
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
salt and pepper


In a large skillet, heat several tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to sauté as you add first the zucchini, then the yellow squash for another 20 minutes. They need a little time to soften. Then add corn, stir and sauté for a few minutes. Finally, add tomatoes and seasonings. Stir together, cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

The beauty of this dish is you can increase what you like, omit what you don't, even add other veggies that appeal to you. He put in one jalapeño that had a little kick to it and I loved it. It had enough spice to heat your throat but not make your eyes water. ;-o Of course, you could leave out the chili peppers if spicy food doesn't agree with you.

We had it with grilled steak, but this would be a nice complement to any type of meat. Just served this reheated over scrambled eggs and it was wonderful! I am so glad to have something fresh and healthy to add to the kitchen repertoire. Thanks, bro!

October 10, 2009


Walked out into our front yard facing West yesterday evening and had to run for my camera. This sunset was just so beautiful I wanted to share it.

an october sunset in phoenix

The good news is we are DONE PAINTING THE WALLS! We still have to do some touch up work. Our trim -- door frames and base boards -- is white so we have to even up some lines and fix some color smudges. But we are done with the major painting. Finished the last two rooms today, the laundry room and guest bathroom. I am dying to go get a new shower curtain that will look fabulous with the Spice Cake paint.

We've been doing our "Yay, the painting is done" happy dance around the house. It feels good!

October 9, 2009

Gold Push Pins

As we have been rehanging pictures and plaques and decorations after painting the walls, I wasn't happy with all of the hangers we were using. I like to hang small, light-weight decorative items on push pins. They pop in and out of the wall very easily (you don't need a hammer), have colors that can blend nicely and are inexpensive. Our home office is painted a very dark green and we have used green push pins that look great.

I decided with our new wall paint colors that I would like gold, but shopping for gold push pins was an exercise in futility so I decided to paint my own. Bought metallic paint at Michaels for $1.39. Found a piece of styrofoam to push them into while painting and drying.

painting push pins

Put on a first coat of gold paint over clear push pins and they were a little patchy looking. Let that dry for half-an-hour, then put on a second coat. It looked much better.

gold push pins

I am very pleased with the way they turned out. Here is a serenity prayer cross that I have over my kitchen desk, hung with a newly-painted gold push pin on our newly-painted Plateau walls. Didn't take much "courage to change the things I can" with this project. Just a little do-it-yourself time.

serenityprayer cross

October 8, 2009

Howdy, Partner

The granddaughter and her auntie went to see the Disney/Pixar 3D double feature "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" this week. Made me remember an incident at Blockbuster Video.

talking woodyThe granddaughter was about 3 years old when "Toy Story 2" was released on video. Hubby and I took her to Blockbuster to rent movies and just as we walked in the door there was a big display of toys for "Toy Story 2." She snatches up a pull-string talking Woody doll, hugs him and looks up at us with those big blue eyes. Of course, we were going to buy it for her!

We select movies and I get in a long line with them. She is running around the store on her chubby little legs with hubby right behind her. She decides she doesn't want to hold her doll anymore and trots up to me. At the top of her lungs in her high-pitched little girl voice she says, "Nana, will you hold my Woody?" Of course, everyone in the store heard her and laughed.

I get up to the checkout counter and the teenage boy helping us holds the Woody doll over his head and yells to a co-worker, "How much for this Woody?" The other kid yells back, "Is it a 6" or a 9" Woody?"

At this point, we are all rolling on the floor. It was so innocent and so suggestive and completely hilarious!

October 7, 2009

Being Neighborly

visiting over the fenceWe are fortunate to have the best neighbors in the world, or Nabes as we sometimes call each other. We see each other outside and holler, "Hey, Nabe!" They are the kind of neighbors that feel like family. We have all helped each other out at times over the years and, frankly, it's just nice knowing they're there.

So a few days ago, one of our neighbors called to see if she could borrow some vegetable oil. She was making dinner and just didn't have enough vegetable oil for corn bread. We invited her to pop on over and she did, bringing her measuring cup with her. Since we've been painting, the whole house was a disaster and I've never looked lovelier but she bravely came in and I talked her ear off.

She told me her oldest daughter (who I believe is about 10-years-old) was shocked that she had called us to borrow food. In fact, she said, "Mom, who does that?" While Nabe was telling me this, our youngest daughter (31-years-old) called and was on the phone with hubby. He told her what was going on and she said, "Wow, do people still do that?"

flowers on chain link fenceIs this sad or is it just me? I grew up in neighborhoods with chain link fences where you could go in the back yard and see into neighbors' yards way down the block. You could see somebody standing at their barbeque or reading on a chaise lounge. In the summer, there were always kids running through sprinklers and dripping popsicles on the patio. I remember mom standing at the fence chatting with the neighbor behind us. It seemed like we knew everyone. In the evenings all the kids would go out and play games in the dusk after dinner for a while before bed time. Those really do seem like idyllic, simpler times.

skatesEven as a young mother, I remember standing at my chain link fence talking to the neighbor and her kids behind us. Our girls were always out riding bikes and jumping rope, playing hopscotch and skating. Remember the silver skates with the key? I loved those skates.

Well, I am so glad to live in a lovely neighborhood with even lovelier neighbors. We may have block fences that you can't see through, but the kindness and friendliness is still there. And I'm very happy to live with Nabes who feel comfortable borrowing a cup of sugar ... or vegetable oil!

October 6, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Art Glass Aquarium

Art Glass Aquarium

Wordless Wednesday

Jury Duty

juror badgeI received my summons for jury duty in Maricopa County Superior Court last month, to appear at 8:00 a.m. yesterday, Monday morning. As instructed, I called last Friday after 4:30 to check the status of my group and was told to call back again on Monday at 11:00 to see if they needed us in the afternoon.

Since I really didn't want to drive downtown and spend the afternoon there, I had done the Wishful Thinking Insurance Exercise that morning of being prepared to go -- showered, hair done, makeup applied. On my planet, this means I wouldn't get asked to appear. Because, you know, if I didn't get ready, they'd have required my presence for sure. Apparently, the Wishful Thinking Insurance Exercise fairies took yesterday off and I was told to appear at the courthouse at 1:00 p.m.

They actually make it pretty easy. Very clear instructions on how to get to the parking garage and where to catch the shuttle for the 5-block ride to the courthouse. There was a lot of standing in lines; first, for the shuttle; then, to go through security at the courthouse; then, to present your summons and register your presence in the jury assembly room. I was in the security line next to a woman who we shall call Chatty Cathy. At one point she asked me if I ever watched Andy Griffith. I looked at her and she said, "You know, the Andy Griffith Show." She said that Aunt Bea went to jury duty and everyone couldn't agree on the verdict so she baked brownies or something to try and steer the jury her way. Whatever!

The jury assembly room kind of reminded me of the MVD. A big room with lots of chairs and people waiting around to get called. The woman who was working the microphone was great. She had a good sense of humor, did a pretty good job of pronouncing names and scolded a few times when people weren't responding "Here" loud enough as she called their names. She would say, "Okay, we have another bailiff here. When I call your name, say 'Here' and come up and get your number. Then stand on the white tile and follow your bailiff to whichever courtroom." They had TVs up all over the place and started the movie "Fever Pitch," starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

I took a paperback to pass the time. Hubby and I thought it was funny that I was reading "Abuse of Power" by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. It's a dirty cop story but a DA plays a prominent role. We thought if I made it all the way to the jury selection process, I should accidentally drop my book on the floor and when they saw the title they would just think Oh no, pass!

They sent about 8 groups through with various bailiffs. I think one group had about 46.5 people in it. I say .5 because I don't think Chatty Cathy was all there. A little before 3:00, they started reading names again, this time to come up and get your proof of attendance paperwork and be released to go. It was so gorgeous outside, I decided to walk the 5 blocks back to the parking garage and, apparently, a number of other jurors thought the same thing. I heard a man behind me say that he had been in the jury selection process for a trial they estimated would last 3 weeks. They finished at about juror #25 and his number was in the thirties. He sounded relieved. scales of justice

So my very first time at jury duty was a big non-event. Since I didn't even make it to the jury selection process, I don't make the whopping $12.00 payment, just mileage reimbursement based on our zip code. Civic duty attempted!

October 5, 2009

Fall Weather in Phoenix

These past few days have been absolute heaven in Phoenix as the weather gods smile down upon us. Our high today will be only 84 degrees and there is a light breeze blowing.

Partly Sunny

Phoenix, AZ

Currently - 71°F

Today - High 84°F Low 62°F

Tomorrow -  Mostly Cloudy
Wednesday -  Intermittent Clouds

After the blazing summer months with non-stop temps over 110 degrees, this is the wonderful respite that we long for. I am planning to spend lots of time on the patio knitting and reading and contemplating my navel before summer rolls around again.

October 4, 2009

Painting and Snowflakes

So we made great headway on the family room and kitchen yesterday. The kitchen actually slowed us down because of all the dismantling of curtains and blinds from the windows and taping around all the windows and the cupboards. I am thrilled with the color. It is soft and warm and has a bit of a glow to it. Here's a picture of the big wall in the family room during the painting process. This is the 14-1/2 foot high ceiling.

painting the famiy room

And I received my package of snowflake charms from China that I intend to embellish our Christmas cards with. They are exactly what I wanted and took less than 2 weeks to arrive.

snowflake charms from china

santa hat smiley faceNow I just have to come up with a clever verse, layout the card, do the printing, assemble the cards with ribbon and charms, do the addressing, buy some cute holiday stamps (I loves me some cute holiday stamps) and I'm ready to go. Once I get all this done, they'll probably be in the mail by Christmas Eve. You know there are ONLY 81 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT 'TIL CHRISTMAS ... let the panic begin!

I thought the customs declaration label was kinda cool ...

shipping label from china

October 2, 2009

Dishcloths and Painting

We are slowly making our way through the house painting. My hubby is the all-time prep it right guy so we spend 3 days taping to every 1 day of painting. And I know he's right. Just do it all correctly from the start and there won't be as much clean up work. But I've always been kind of an eyeball it and get it done gal. When we hang pictures, he'll measure and get out his level. I just stand back and point. There, slam that nail in right there. Looks good enough!

Last weekend we finished the dining room and hallway. This weekend we will move on to the family room and kitchen. Our highest ceilings are in the family room at 14-1/2 feet and hubby climbs up and down that tall ladder like a kid. My balance just plain sucks so I try to stay on the ground and do the low stuff like baseboards. He does accidentally drop the roll of blue painter's tape all the time so we have perfected a circus act where I (the lovely assistant) whip it up in the air and he catches it as it sails past his head and comes back down. I don't know why I find this so amusing, but I guess it's a good thing since we still have many days of taping and painting left to do and it helps break up the monotony.

plateau paint swatch

We are painting the family room and kitchen in a dark caramelly beige called Plateau, which should look very nice and goes well with our whitewashed cupboards. Here is a picture of the paint swatch next to a card I have framed over my kitchen desk. This card always makes me smile. It starts with a quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee." Then it reads, "One morning we ran into a neighbor at the store and she asked brightly, 'What was it as your house?' 'Fourteen below,' we replied. Her face fell. 'We had minus twelve,' she said, and you could see that her day was ruined."  - by Richard Ketchum. I received this card from a friend in the early 90s and thought it was so clever, I framed it and it has hung in my kitchen ever since, everywhere we've moved.

We had minus twelve

There's just been too much going on to focus on my larger knitting projects right now so I've been amusing myself -- when I'm not too sleepy in the evenings -- by knitting some of the dishcloths in the 2010 Dishcloth Calendar I blogged about last week. Here are photos of two I've completed - the Purly Waffle and the Sweet Heart cloth. I learned something new on the Sweet Heart, which was making bobbles, a kind of 3D knitted bubble that pokes out.

purly waffle and sweet heart dishcloths

Now back to the circus!