Friday, July 30, 2010

The Library

They skies were gray and we didn't have anything planned, so this morning my son and I headed to the library.

I've always liked going to the library.  When I was growing up, my grandmother worked at their local library.  I remember walking there to visit her and pick out new books.  I was a bookworm as a child and always seemed to have my nose in one book or another.  I liked being transported to the places in my stories and learning about different ways of life.

I think in grade school, my favorite books were Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series.  And of course, it was a popular weekly TV show at the time as well.  In my preteen years, I read a lot of Phyllis Whitney's mystery books at my grandmother's recommendation.  As an adult, I'm still drawn to a good mystery.  Mary Higgins Clark is probably one my favorite authors now, although I also enjoy reading some of the lighter "subject" fiction where the plot revolves around crochet, cooking, quilting, etc.  Monica Ferris comes to mind, as one of these type of authors, and can spin a good tale. 

I hope my love of books transfers down to my son.  Some of my favorite memories are of my grandmother reading to my sister and me at bedtime.  I remember tales of Curious George, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Madeline, Little Toot, and Caps for Sale to name a few.  We'd always ask her to read the story again even though we'd just heard it, and sometimes she would. 

So tonight, as my son settles down to bed, I'll read to him some of these old favorites.  And, as I do, I'll be transported back to my childhood.  Remembering sitting on the little twin bed in my nightgown, listening in awe to the story unfold, as my grandmother read these same stories to me so many years ago.

Libraries are a threshold to a whole world yet to be discovered, an entrance way to adventure, and a means of transporting us to the past.

A good book is the best of friends.
English Proverb

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simple, Light and Delicious

Lemon Cake!

I was in the mood to have something sweet following dinner.  So, I looked through the cupboards to see what I could come up with......I had everything I needed to make one of our family's favorites; Lemon Cake.  I found the recipe on-line a couple of years ago.  You can find the original recipe by following the link.  I don't make the icing they recommend and instead do a simple glaze.  Below is my version of their cake:

Heather's Version Light Lemon Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray bundt pan with cooking spray and lightly flour

1 box Yellow Cake Mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 box Instant Lemon Pudding (I use Jello brand)
1 3/4 Cup water
2 Egg whites

Mix ingredients in large bowl on low for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 40 - 50 min. or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack 10 - 15 min. and carefully remove from pan.  Let cool completely.

1 1/2 - 2 C Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon extract OR fresh lemon juice (more or less to suit your taste)
1 Tablespoon of water

Wisk glaze ingredients together until you get a good drizzle consistency.  If too stiff, add a little more water.  If too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.  Once the cake is cooled, drizzle glaze over cake.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lazy Day Dinner

I didn't feel like cooking today, so I decided to do my "Lazy Day" dinner.  I try to keep the ingredients on hand for when the mood strikes.

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Light Italian Dressing (or Italian dressing of your choosing)
  • Prepackaged Caesar Salad Kit
  • Bakery Bread

Marinate chicken in salad dressing, at least 4 hours; longer if desired.  Mix salad together in large bowl, bake bread for 10 min. in oven, and cook chicken on outdoor grill.


Instant dinner and so much better than fast food.  A lot less expensive I might add as well, at $2.56 per person.

Convenience is my joy for today! 


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crockpot "Fried Chicken"

Last year for Christmas, my husband gave me the cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow from Stephanie O'Dea's blog, A Year of Slow Cooking.  I like the book a lot and have made quite a few things from it.  The majority of the recipes are quick, easy and affordable to make.

Today I made "Fried Chicken".  I've made this particular chicken dish numerous times as both my husband and my son like it a lot.

The recipe for "Fried Chicken" can be found on her blog.  If you decide to make it, you should note she has increased the amount of Seasoned Salt to 1 Tablespoon as well as increasing the Onion Powder to 2 teaspoons. 

One of the nice things about cooking in the crock pot is how it frees up your day to do other things; fix it and forget it.  We'll be having potatoes and green beans with our chicken, which is easy enough to fix  right before my husband gets home from work.  Another benefit to cooking in the crockpot is how wonderful it makes the house smell.

Instead of chicken legs, I use bone-in chicken thighs and remove the skin.  For my small family, five thighs are plenty.  My chicken is usually done in just a few hours since there is less of it.  I also blot the chicken on paper towels before I serve it to alleviate the excess grease.

Joy for today is in easy, but yummy, cooking and satisfying the family's taste buds.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Autumn Moorish Mosaic Afghan Update

This past week, I've been working fairly consistently on my second Moorish Mosaic Afghan.  The colors are starting to remind me of autumn, the change in season, and what will soon be much cooler weather.

At this stage, it is hard to envision what the completed afghan will look like; the colors seem haphazard with no thought.  But I can assure you, that in the end, the mosaic of colors in each octagon will play off each other pulling the completed project all together. 

My joy is in watching my project progress with each new colorful octagon. 


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Who Done It

I love to watch a good old fashioned mystery.  Please don't misunderstand, I'm not talking about gore or "frightmare" on elm street type movies.  I'm talking about mystery and suspense.  A tangled web of intrigue that needs to be unraveled; a good "who done it".  And, in my opinion, one of the best web weavers is Agatha Christie

Back in 2005, my husband and I canceled our TV satellite subscription and relied on Cincinnati's networks for our TV viewing pleasure.  With only about five channels to watch, our choices were quite limited.  So we turned to our local library.  Our county libraries have a nice selection of dvds which includes movies, documentaries, and weekly series.  My husband would often go to the library on his lunch break and pick out a program he thought we'd enjoy watching together.  It wasn't long and I was being introduced to Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple characters.  And, the love affair ensued. 

Hercule Poirot is a quirky detective with a bit of obsessive compulsiveness.  He has a vain streak and is constantly grooming his mustache.  In the series, he follows the clues and uses his "little gray cells" to help him solve even the most obscure mystery.  His series take place in the 30's and 40's before WWII. 

Miss Jane Marple's series take place after WWII in the late 40's.  She is a spinster who seems to have a niece, nephew or acquaintance in any and all English villages.  She is lovable, smart, and always makes the police think the lead she came up with was their own idea.  Oh, and did I mention, she knits.  Anyone who has a love of "wool" or yarn is OK by me. 

So tonight, once the little one is in bed, dear husband and myself will get the dvd player rolling.  We'll put in our latest selection of "who done it" and watch the scheme and deception of the bad guys as the good guys unravel the clues; and in the end, solve the mystery.

Joy for the day is in a good mystery, that like most fiction, has a happy (and solved) ending.  


Friday, July 23, 2010


My husband treated me to a surprise as he arrived home from work today.  He'd stopped to pick up some pretty daisies, chocolate chip ice cream, and a mystery movie from the library. 

"How beautiful a day can be
When kindness touches it!"
- George Elliston -

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pesky Woodpeckers...

And, it all started with the bees.

Late spring or early summer the big wood boring bees make their annual pilgrimage to the eaves of our roof line.  They wreck havoc leaving a path of sawdust destruction in our midst.  My husband has tried everything short of hiring a professional exterminator to get rid of them.  Dear husband did do a little damage to their nest wielding a can of Raid or Otho Bee Killer; I can't remember the particular brand.  But alas, they remain a persistent pest.

This year, for the first time, we've heard a rap, rap, rap on the outside of the house.  For the life of us, we couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from.  It was not constant, but it was consistent; each day. 

Then, we spotted them both!  Holes in the wood trim of the house, and a black speckle feathered bird with a long narrow beak; the wood pecker. 

I enjoy nature, and admiring the beauty around me, but this bird was no friend.  I also know, learning from some long ago school lesson, that birds don't like owls.  So we bought one, an owl that is, at our local Wal-Mart.  Our owl has been a centenial on our trellis, keeping a watchful eye for birds, squirrels, and any other small creature his mere presence can dissuade.  But, much to our dismay, the woodpeckers have returned.

So our wood eaves attracted the bees, the bees attracted the woodpeckers, but the owl did not keep them away.  I don't know how we are going to rid ourselves of these pesky birds.  At a bird feeder, they are lovely to watch.  But when they are chipping away at your house searching for their next meal, it's a whole other story.

Joy for today is in the cycle of life and hoping a real owl, or possibly a falcon, will swoop down and find his next meal in that of our pesky woodpecker.  Bon appetite! 


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Man's Legacy

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson -

I love this photo of my grandfather (thank you Mom for lending it to me).  It was taken in the 70's long before he became frail.  My grandfather left behind a treasure trove of memories; and those things are his legacy to me.

I've talked a lot about Westport, NY, the little village on Lake Champlain, and some of the things that made it so special.  But, if it were not for my grandparents, this little dot on the New York State map, would not have so great a meaning.

Raymond C. Clark was a Latin teacher by profession and later an assistant principal at the local high school.  He was a traveler, an author, a painter, and a gardner.  He was a husband, a father, and to me, a grandfather.  I don't mean to say he was perfect, I'm sure he had his flaws, he was, but a man, after all; but, he was perfect, to me.

I'm lucky enough to have a few things in my home as a remembrance of him.  And each item brings to mind a different memory.  In this photo, is my grandparents dressing table.  When my grandmother sold their home and split up some of the pieces of furniture, this was an item I selected.  It always graced their bedroom for, I imagine, their entire married life. 

My grandfather set his own pace for doing things, and I can remember mid morning going upstairs and watching him shave at this table.  I can still hear the soft humming of that electric razor in my mind, though it's been so many, many years.
As an "artist", my grandfather painted things that were familiar to him and his native area.  Two of my favorite paintings he did were of the lake.  One was the foundation of a boathouse with the lake in the background, and the other was of a rowboat tied to a dock.  I do have one of his paintings.  It is of a little farm nestled in the mountains of Vermont.  I believe he painted it as a Christmas gift for my Mother.

One of the other treasures he left behind is his book, A View of Westport, NY.  In the book, he details some of the history of his hometown covering the years 1902 - 1972.  It is full of vivid descriptions of a town he clearly loved.  There are period photos of historic buildings, the marina, famous steamships, and of course the lake.  I was gifted with a copy of his book the year I graduated from high school.  On the page, next to the title page, he wrote an inscription, "Dear Heather I am sure this little capsule of history will sound like fiction to you but, this is the way it was when I was younger than you! Love, Your Grandpa Clark December 25, 1984."  Later, years after he'd been gone, the Westport Chamber of Commerce obtained permission from my Mother and my Aunt Sandy to reprint his book for the 2001 Westport Heritage Festival.  

More importantly than any of these things was the person he was and what he meant to me.   How do you describe someone you cherish?  Someone you look up to?  Someone who meant the world to you?  I can still hear him say, "Heather, why don't you turn the light on", as I would read in the evening seated on the antique victorian sofa.  "That's OK Grandpa, I'm fine".  And with that, he would get up out of his chair, come over, and silently turn the light on.  Without a word, he showed he cared.  

When my sister and I were children, we'd often watch "Laugh In" on TV in the den of my grandparent's home.  There was a skit, that would come on, with one of the actresses sitting on a bench holding her handbag tight.  In the skit, an old man would approach her and she would hit him with her handbag.  We used to replay this skit over and over again with my grandpa.  My sister and I would chase him around the house with my grandmothers old purses.  I can still see the smile on his face and hear his laughter as we would bombard him with blows from the purses.  He never seemed to tire of our game and was always a good sport.

Thunderstorms were always a treat on the lake.  You could sit on the back porch, which was covered, and watch the storm roll in.  I remember one particular conversation with my grandfather as we listened to the thunder and watched the lighting strikes.  He told me the rolling thunder was God rolling his bowling ball down a lane and the big crack of thunder was when He got a strike.  I often recount this story to my son when it thunders in hopes of easing his fear of the storm. 

My grandfather's legacy goes beyond his book, his paintings and any inherited piece of furniture.  His legacy lays in the time he spent with me, the love he showed, and the relationship we built through the years.  I love you Grandpa and your legacy lives on; you succeeded.

In loving memory of my grandfather, Raymond C. Clark (1908 - 1992).


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WARNING - Zucchini Bread

And, it's not diet!

I had a couple of large zucchini that I needed to use before they went bad.  Over sized zucchini squash are great for making the summertime favorite zucchini bread.  So I perused some on-line recipes and found one that looked absolutely scrumptious!  It's called Chocolate Zucchini Bread, and if you follow my link, it will take you to the free on-line recipe at Taste of Home's website. 

Once I got some housework settled this morning, I called my son into the kitchen to see if he wanted to help.  He loves to taste test everything, so he was game for the adventure.  First task was shredding the zucchini; a food processor with a grating blade makes this task a cinch.  I measured out what we would need for our recipe today, labeled the rest, placing it in ziploc bags for the freezer and future bread making use.

Measuring ingredients is fun with a four-year-old.  He likes to taste each item as it's being placed in the bowl.  I remind him that flour, by itself, does not taste good, but that doesn't deter the will of a child.  So I gave him a little taste and of course he said, "blah".  We went through this ritual with each new ingredient until we got to the sugar, and he said, "yum!".  Nothing like pure white sugar out of the bag to please his discriminating taste buds. 

So we followed the instructions on the recipe and our end result looks like this... 

My rating is the same as my son's rating to the white sugar, "yum!".  Very chocolaty and moist; sweet, but not overly so.  Keep in mind, this bread is very different from traditional zucchini bread and I'm glad I have more shredded zucchini to make that kind at a later date.  Down the road, if I make this recipe again, I think I'd add walnuts for a little texture.  It does make two loaves which is nice, one for now and one for later.

Joy in cooking!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday - The Grind

But in a good way.

When I was working full-time, I really disliked Monday's.  It would start about Sunday afternoon, I'd get a big lump in my stomach just thinking about the coming week.  Little sweat beads of anxiety would form in my gullet as I thought about projects, looming deadlines, and bosses to please.  Fridays were the hope of freedom and slipping out of the bondage of 9 - 5.  Sundays brought to mind the tightening of the chains of obligation.

I have a completely different mindset these days.  I like Mondays.  It's a return to my routine and my sense of normalcy.

Our weekends don't have a lot of structure.  With the exception of Sunday morning "Sunday School" and our Sunday morning church service, we pretty much "wing" our weekends.

Mondays are "the grind"; but it's a smooth grind.  The rhythmically turning wheels in a well oiled machine that produce happy accord.  My Mondays of laundry and grocery shopping set the tone for the week; what cuisine we'll partake of at mealtime, a clean supply of towels for bathing, and the soft scent of freshly laundered sheets in which to lay our heads at bedtime.

I take great joy in my routine; my customary Monday.  It's habitual schedule and structure bring me peace of mind, and harmony in my home.  

Happy Monday!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pizza and a New Book

I like pizza, I always have.  There is something about a nice thick crust, gooey cheese and spicy pepperoni that goes so well together.  We used to frequently order out for pizza.  Here in Cincinnati, I'd say LaRosa's is the best.  But, when you cut your family income in half, you start looking for ways to save money.  Making my own pizza was one of those ways. 

My pizza has evolved over the past 4 years.  I'd like to hope for the better.  I used to purchase the refrigerator dough for my crust.  The kind you just plop on a cookie sheet and throw on some toppings.  It was ok, it just wasn't good.  I started experimenting with different dough recipes for my crust.  My Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook has a good recipe in it and I've been using that.  But this past weekend, my sister-in-law made a wonderful pizza for us, and her crust was just like what you'd get at a restaurant.  She told me it was the one on the Fleischmann's Yeast jar.  So I looked it up online and made it tonight; it was very good.  It wasn't as good as hers, my crust was a bit heavier, but it was still good.  I may need to get a different pan.  She prepared hers in a deep dish pan.  Not sure if that has any bearing on the texture of the crust, but it is certainly worth a try. 


I was gifted with a new book today.

Written by and illustrated by my dear son.  He "wrote" it for me while I was preparing the pizza.  It's a story about our family taking a trip to China.  As he would say, "I'm using my imagination".  He "read" it to me while the pizza was in the oven.  The story takes our family on a trip to China where we walk on rocks and grass, go swimming in a pool that has colorful lights, and then we walk some more under the sun.  Best book I've read in a long time. 

Happy weekend!


Friday, July 16, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

During our trip to Pennsylvania this past weekend, my brother-in-law brought out his collection of antique postcards, newspaper clippings, and photos depicting his hometown.  As he recounted the stories behind them, it brought to mind what I consider my hometown; Westport, NY.

We only lived in Westport briefly when I was a baby, but it was my maternal Grandparent's home, and a place we returned to time and time again.  A place you were excited to visit, welcomed on the front porch with open arms, where unconditional love lived, and a place that brought tears to your eyes as you drove away.  My grandparents' house on Main Street was home.

Growing up, we spent a good portion of each summer in Westport.  My Grandparents owned a house on Lake Champlain.  Their backyard had a scenic view of a gently sloping meadow that led to an old towering white birch tree.  On one side of the birch tree, was a wooden staircase, that led down to the beach and the lake.  Across the lake, the majestic green mountains of Vermont.

I have a permanent photo collection in my mind's eye of this tranquil community.  I can picture Main Street where the drug store was located, the little gift shop called Bessboro, and across the street was the lawn of the library.  The library was a stately wooden-shingled Arts and Crafts style building with a large clock tower.  I always thought it looked a little out of place with it's otherwise Victorian surroundings.  Heading up the hill was the post office with it's tall steel flag pole proudly flying the American flag.  Heading down the hill and back across Main Street was the "lane" that led down to the lake and the marina.  Back when my grandfather was growing up, his father and uncle owned the marina and it was a much busier place with steamships regularly docking in Westport's harbor.  I loved to hear the stories my grandfather would tell of his youth and growing up on the lake.  During my childhood, the steamships were replaced with luxury boats with many of the town's visitors coming down from Canada.
I could probably write a book filled with the memories I have of those days.  The photos above are old and out of focus, but my memories are clear, remembering a place that was filled with peace and love.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Colorful Update

Color is everywhere, it's all around us, and it's an inspiration.  Bright vibrant colors can lift your spirits, while soothing monotones can cause you to exhale and relax.  A blue room may make you feel cold; even though there is no variation in temperature.  I remember reading somewhere, that the color orange can make you hungry and increase your appetite.  Color leads bees to flowers, can pique our interest, and catch our eye's attention.

The photo above shows my progress on the Summer Garden Baby Blanket in which I wrote about last week.  My progress has been slow and at one point halted as I needed to purchase a different white cotton.  I switched to Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton and am much happier with the softness and feel of the squares. Don't you love the colors?  They are so happy and cheerful.  This is a fun project and I think if I were dedicating 100% of my crochet time to this, I'd have it complete in a matter of a few weeks.  But, since I'm multitasking, it won't be finished quite so quickly. 

My joy for today is the colors around me and more specifically, the colors in this project.  Take a moment to stop what you are doing, look around you, and answer the question, "What colors are in your rainbow?"  Have a colorful and joyful day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moorish Mosaic Afghan

I think I'm officially a crochet nut (as if there was ever a doubt).  But I've decided to start on another project and work on it along side the baby blanket I wrote about last week.  This afghan takes quite a bit of concentration.  It requires a lot of color changes and eventually turning a small circle into various shapes until it reaches it's final metamorphose as an octagon.  The pattern is called Moorish Mosaic Afghan and can be found in Interweave Crochet Fall 2009 issue.  I believe the magazine is out of print, but if you go to their website, it is my understanding, that you can download the pattern for a small fee.

Now, I'm no stranger to this pattern as I did make one earlier in the year in browns, blues and grays (see below).  I originally started making the first one to give as a wedding present, but decided it was too artsy to give as a gift to the particular couple.  So, we use it in our family room when we watch TV. 

 I hadn't intended on making another one of these for a while, but one of the on-line groups I belong to decided to do a CAL (Crochet Along) with this pattern so I thought I'd join in.  I also have a family in mind that I'd like to give the latest one to and have based my colors on a picture of their rug (yarn colors below).

I'll be using Vanna's Choice yarn, which is a very plush 100% acrylic yarn.  I really like using this brand of yarn and it can be machine wash and dried, which I think is important.  As a bonus, using acrylic yarn tends to keep the cost of a project down versus a wool or wool blend which can cost quite a bit more.  

So, as you can see, I'm going to be a happy camper (crocheter) for a good two - three months; or a good little piece of time anyway.  Joy for today is in the crochet!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kodak Moments

Yesterday I went to Michael's, one of our local craft stores, to look for yarn for an upcoming project.  As I was getting lost in my day dreaming of crochet and the colorful skeins of yarn stacked neatly in front of me, I heard a little voice next to me say, "Mommy, do you want a hug?"  I said, "Sure hun" and bent down to give my son a hug.  I was unaware that there was a lady in the isle with us looking in the section as well.  Her voice startled me as she said, "Now that, was a Kodak moment."  

So often we take the little things in life for granted; a pretty flower, a walk in the park, or a hug from a child.  It is not the big events in which we lay our life's groundwork, but in the small daily building blocks that create foundations in relationships, as well as memories we can look back upon.

My joy for the day is within that hug and all the little things, without words, that hug has to say.

Joy of the Lord

This afternoon, something brought the below song to mind.  And, as I was humming a few of the lines, a feeling of peace washed over me.  Today, I'm reminded of the privilege of being able to turn to God in prayer.  All that is required of us, is to bring that need to Him.    

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Written by:
Joseph M. Scriven

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Our family has been out of town for the weekend at a family wedding.  While it is fun to get away and visit with family and friends, it's always nice to come home.  No matter where you live, opening the door to your home and walking through the threshold, is like walking into a welcome embrace; warm and safe.  

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest”

  - Robert Montgomery -


Friday, July 9, 2010

Yarn, Yarn, Glorious Yarn!

And, a new project!

Today's topic is crochet.  I have to tell you, I love to crochet.  My very favorite thing to make is an afghan or blanket.  I tend to give away most of my projects to people (who hopefully) understand the thought, love, time, and bit of myself that goes into each one.  My joy is in the process, and hopefully, the recipients joy is in the end product. 

My next project is going to be a baby blanket for a cousin who is expecting in December.  The pattern is called Summer Garden Granny Square.  It is basically a circle to square motif using the granny square technique.  The free on-line pattern can be found by clicking on the title of the project.  It is a well written pattern with a nice tutorial, just keep in mind, she is in the UK and her treble crochet is a US double crochet stitch (which she notes in her instructions)

The color scheme I will be using is slightly different as I'll be interjecting white into all my colors.  I think this will soften it a bit, but will still have the fun youthful look with all the bright and cheery colors.  I'll be using Rico 100% cotton yarn which is available from the UK and the white is Bernat, (also 100% cotton) which is locally available at Joann's

A new project always gets my creativity humming and brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction.  I'll keep you posted on my progress as I go along.  It's bound to be a fun project!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"I'm an Air Conditioned Gypsy"

We are having our heat pump/air conditioner replaced today.  Don't ask me why we picked the middle of summer to have this done.....Not a good idea, and duly noted for future reference. 

Our workers arrived around 8 a.m. this morning and have been busy all day removing the old unit and laying the foundation, for the new one.  Since I was going to be home all day with the workers, I thought it would be a great idea to clean the house.  What was I thinking?  Our house slowly crept from a comfortable 72 degrees to a stifling 83 degrees; and, I might add, the temperature is continuing to rise.  Another note to self:   Do not clean the house in the middle of the summer when you are having the air conditioner replaced; especially if you are a 40 something year old woman with hot flashes that could heat a room themselves.  Where's the little icon with the tongue sticking out when you need it.

At the time I'm writing this, we still have no A/C.  But I am hopeful, that tonight, I will be sleeping in a nice, cool blowing, man-made breeze.  As the Who wrote, in the lyrics from Goin' Mobile, "I'm an air conditioned gypsy".  And truly, I am.

Joy for the day is knowing, at some point, the air conditioner is going to be working and it will be a cool haven in my home once again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Swap from "Across The Pond"

Today, I am so excited to have received an airmail package all the way from Scotland!

I belong to an on-line crochet (and knitting) group called Ravelry (  Within this on-line forum are thousands of people, around the world, with crochet, knitting, and love of yarn in common.  One of the groups within Ravelry is called "We Love Lucy".  Lucy hosts a blog called "Attic24" where she talks about her day to day life, decorating and crochet.  One of the things Lucy is best known for is her love of color, and her use of it in her daily life. 

Recently, someone within the group came up with the idea of doing a yarn swap; America and Canada with Europe and Australia.  So we signed up and were assigned partners for the swap.  I was paired with someone from Scotland and below is a picture of my goodies I received:

The items that enchanted me the most were the ones from her native region.  The three skeins of "Heather" colored wool are from New Lanark Mills which she said is less than an hour from her.  She included a brochure on the New Lanark World Heritage Site which recounts a bit of history on the mill that was founded more than 200 years ago. 

Another one of the items she included, in my swap package, was a bar of handmade soap called Arran Apothecary Soap in Seaweed and Oatmeal.  It is made off the west coast of Scotland and smells blissfully clean and fresh; I can't wait to try it. 

While everything she sent is wonderful, the "piece de resistance" is the post card...

This is "Loch Lomond", which is less than a 10 minute drive from my swap partner.  Wow!  To live so close to such beauty, I just can't fathom it.  Looking at the post card, it is easy to day dream about hopping in a boat and heading out to one of the islands to explore for the day.  Of course, I'd take a picnic and one of my handmade crochet blankets, relax and soak in the splendor of it all. 

Today's joy is in the package I received, but even more so, in human nature.  Someone I don't know, but for a few on-line e-mail chats, taking the time to select these items and send this lovely parcel to me all the way across the pond to the US.  What a special blessing. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adventures in Blogging

Blogging has become a new adventure for me; another avenue for self discovery.  I've never been good at keeping a journal and often struggle with being faithful to something like this in the long term.  So right now, I'm kind of "winging it", just to find my voice and the words to jot down on my electronic "tablet".  It has been fun so far. 

In my other life, in the business world, I would write letters, memos and e-mails for my bosses.  I've also been a "publisher" and writer for different departmental newsletters in the land of suits, ties, and proper business protocol.  But, writing for myself is a fresh idea; what do "I" want to say today instead of what point the person I am working for is trying to convey. 

So, if my writing seems a little disjointed from day to day, keep in mind, I'm a novice.  At this point, I don't have a goal in mind other than to have a venue for jotting down my thoughts on my little slice of life.  

My joy for today is in this adventure of blogging and the things I'm discovering about myself along the way. Happy blogging!

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July - Independance Day

Today I celebrate the land of the free and home of the brave; my home and country of birth. 

I'm so grateful for our founding fathers and the foresight and vision they had for a country that was free from tyranny and oppression; a country where freedom of speech is celebrated and open debate allowed; and a country where we are free to worship as we choose.  I'm thankful for the faith in God these men possessed and their strength to seek guidance from a Higher Power.  As George Washington stated, "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.

As we go about our holiday festivities, let us not forget The God our country was founded upon and the men who made the ultimate sacrifice for the privileges we enjoy today.  God bless America today and always.  Amen.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturdays are Family Days

Even though I don't work outside the home any longer, I still look forward to Saturdays.  A day when my little family can spend the day together. 

The pool...

It was a beautiful day here in the suburbs.  Blue skies, warm sun, a slight breeze and low humidity.  We all enjoyed the water and after a little while, I went to soak up some of the sunshine (with SPF 15 these days) while "R" and the little guy continued to play in the water. 

When we'd all felt a little water logged and tired from the sun, we decided to head home, shower, and get ready for our evening.

We had a family movie night this evening with Baked Chicken Fajitas in front of Jack and The Beanstalk.  In spite of it's childlike rating, it still had it's moments of scariness. 

Soon it will be bedtime with a favorite book and some old time songs that my mother used to sing to me.  Some of our favorites are "My Bonnie" and "Ba, Ba Black Sheep".

My joy for the every day was in my Saturday; a day for fun, a day for family.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lovely Rachael

Lovely Rachael

Weathered by the seasons

Standing strong against the storms

You are planted firmly

In the garden of my yesteryear

You've seen the blue skies turn to gray

You've watched Spring turn to Summer, then to Fall

Ever ageless, ever timeless

You are still standing tall

- In loving memory of my Great Aunt Blanche -

Rachael belonged to my Aunt Blanche, my grandfather's "sister" who was "adopted" by my great grandparents during the  depression.  Aunt Blanche was a romantic figure, not in her appearance, but in her character.  She had an air of mystery about her that always intrigued me.  She was a single woman and never married.  That fact never seemed to bother her, but perhaps, it was a part of her she locked away and did not reveal.  Aunt Blanche had a strong devotion to my grandfather, which I admired and endeared me to her more.  She was full of life and fun; making everyday things like eating chocolate pudding a delight.  She always seemed to have a smile on her face and laughter in her heart.

When I look at Rachael today, who now graces my little shady patch of a garden, I think of my Aunt Blanche, her smile and her love of life.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Joy of Summer

The word summer brings to mind flowers in bloom, a bright sun exuding warmth on my skin and children riding their bikes down a suburban street.  It reminds me of walking barefoot in the cool grass, running through the sprinkler as a child, and catching fireflies in glass jars as the sun sets on the day.  I look back fondly on summers spent at my maternal grandparents' home on Lake Champlain.  They were lazy days; swinging in a green hammock with white fringe, building sand castles on the beach, floating on inner tubes in the cool water, and eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch.  My joy for the everyday today is in the beauty around me that brings to mind wonderful memories of my yesterday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dappling of Sunlight

It's a beautiful morning, cool for the first of July.  I took my cup of coffee with me out on the deck and couldn't help but wonder at the pretty dappling of light as the early morning sun shone through the trees.  It reminded me that each day is a new beginning; a fresh start.  Breathe in and savor the joy of the everyday.

Each morning is fresh and new
Reminding me, oh Lord
All the great things that You can do