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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. Always up to something!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peacefully Sleeping

 
 
Wishing Everyone a Peaceful Christmas
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Make One Change


Evil visited Connecticut last Friday. It's been visiting all around the country - so why wouldn't it visit us? If we can't take care of our mentally ill adult family members until they commit a crime. If we believe we need semi-automatic weapons in our homes. If playing "games" and being a "gamer" means pretending to kill others on a virtually realistic 3-D computer screen. If we accept violence as "normal" in our society. If talking about out faith in God means that people think you're a "bible thumper"... then we can reasonably expect evil to visit again. We shouldn't be surprised and shocked when it does. I'm not a pessimist - far from it. I wouldn't be on my feet, healthy enough to baby-sit my beautiful grandchildren if I believed we're doomed only to the cards we're dealt. Make one change. If you own dangerous weapons, get rid of them. Limit screen time in your home. Boycott violent movies. Go to church and take your kids. Pray for yourselves, your country and the families in Newtown who are grieving tonight.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gingerbread Boys

I made a baker's dozen of these little guys for our church Christmas boutique.  After searching the internet for a recipe for cinnamon salt dough, I mixed some up and let it chill.  Then I cut them out, poked a hole for hanging them with a drinking straw and baked them off.
They are sealed with a glittery varnish. I probably should have used a couple more coats but I ran out of time.  The eyes and buttons are little balls of dough that baked in place and then painted with dark purple for raisins. I painted on highlights and white icing. Then I added snowy glitter to their heads, shoulders and feet.
The ribbon was from Michael's and was exactly what I was looking for.


And I made a few extra for a kitchen wreath.  I used a wooden embroidery hoop for the base, which I wrapped with the red ribbon.  I hot glued the little guys and the fake greens to the hoop.  I'd found the rolling pin in Target a couple of years ago for a dollar.  You never know when you'll need a miniature rolling pin.  I was hoping they'd have a cinnamon fragrance but they don't.  The recipe only called for 5 teaspoons of cinnamon and I think the purpose of that was to color the dough.


Here's the recipe for the Salt Dough:

1 Cup salt
5 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Cups flour
3/4 - 1 cup water

Knead until smooth.  Chill 30 minutes.  Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours until dry at 325 degrees.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent means Waiting

Adventus is Latin for "coming". We are waiting for expectantly for Christmas to come...

 
Joyfully preparing...
 
 
 
 
 
Cookie-baking begins. I haven't made these since I was in high school - My mother's Sesame Thins...
 
 



2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 jar sesame seeds (from spice section in grocery store)
Whip together butter and sugar.  Add egg and vanilla.  Gradually add dry ingredients.  Chill for 1 hour.  Roll into small balls and coat with sesame seeds.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
 
 
 

And a visit from two of my little elves.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Curb Appeal

It was finally time to spend a bit of cash and time on the front of our home. This picture was taken last fall.  My husband was probably checking his pockets for moths. We'd already redone the kitchen and both bathrooms.  (For the first time since the house was built!)
 
 
The siding (which is aluminum but is in good condition) was a color (dull gold) that I wasn't really fond of.  The shutters were peeling, dirty white.  My son and a friend popped out all the old shrubs that were original to the house and showing their age - approximately 55 years old.  That left us with a new door and storm door.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We changed out the light to the right of the door and between the double garage.  I planted miniature, upright boxwoods in the plastic planters that I painted with cement textured spray paint from Home Depot.  There's a little brass Nantucket basket door knocker in the middle of the Autumn wreath.
 
 
 
 
We added some specimen shrubs which will take some time to grow in.  The happy little guy to the left of the door is a fern cypress.  I wanted to paint the door a color other than white.  I still may paint it a medium sage green in the Spring.  However, the screen in the door will have to be removed in the fall and stored as it will darken the look of the paint when it stays in the storm door.  Maybe someday we can have the steps brick-faced and put railings on either side of the door. I sometimes need them now and we may both need them in a few years.  Our house finally feels like home.
 
 
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Long Beach Island, New Jersey

 

Too foggy to see the ocean. We didn't care. We were at the shore.

 
Where from the minute we unpack, we try not to think about going home

and saying "good-bye" every time is hard
 

 

 
 to the place where I wake up early just to welcome the sun

and seagulls aren't just pests
Where you see the sun rise and set just by turning your chair around
and beautiful young people protect you from harm

where the color of the ocean changes all day

and sometimes sparkles like diamonds




 
 
Where you can be alone and not lonely

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
walk for miles by yourself on a beautiful morning
 

then stand in line to get a table for the best breakfast in town!

Which is why the island will be rebuilt and people will choose to live on a little sand bar in the ocean
 

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Beauty

 My husband and I went to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York on Sunday. Rhinebeck is a couple of hours north of us but their foliage is prime and ours is disappointing this year.  Maybe it's the amount of rain we had this year compared to New York. Whatever the reason, the trees alone were worth the ride. 







 
My camera wants to do watercolors

 




                                                                                                                 

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Garlicky Stuffed Shrimp Casserole

My local grocery store frequently runs specials on bags of cooked, veined and peeled medium shrimp.  I get two frozen one pound bags for the price of one.  I started looking around for recipes to use one of these bags without resorting to my old stand-by, Stir-fried shrimp with whatever vegetables are in the freezer or in the vegetable drawer.  I've never found a stir-fry sauce that my husband really cares for.  So after drastically altering some recipes I found on-line, here's what I came up with.  DH and I both really enjoyed it so you might like it, too.


Marinate first 4 ingredients together for at least an hour:

1 lb. peeled, cleaned and cooked shrimp, rinsed well, tails removed
1 T. olive oil
2 T. white wine
Salt and Pepper













Into 1 stick of softened butter, mash together:
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. rosemary, crushed
1/8 ts. crushed red pepper blakes
juice of 1 fresh lemon or lime
1 egg yoke
2/3 cup breadcrumbs

Place shrimp into gratin dish or 10 inch ceramic pie plate.  Cover with stuffing, then drizzle with the marinade drained from shrimp.  Bake at 425 degree F. oven for 15 - 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.  We enjoyed it served over Basmati brown rice to soak up all the garlicky juices - yum...




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hello Little Joe!

Native to North America, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) was reportedly named for an Indian healer from New England.  Joe Pye weed was used for curing early colonists' fevers, healing kidney stones and urinary tract infections.  It is also know as "Queen of the Meadow", "Gravel Root" (for the kidney stones?), Kidney Root and Purple Boneset.  It's very cold hardy and favors moist, organically rich soil and full sun.  Can you count the bees on this little guy?  This is not the standard variety but a small descendant of the original plant.  It's been reported that one of the many suspected causes of honey bee hive collapse is the lack of native plants for a natural source of food for the bees.  I suspect this is true based on the number of bees that have made themselves to home on this little plant.  Suburban gardeners have abandoned native varieties of plants for newer, cultivated varieties of landscape shrubs, leaving this little guys hard-pressed to find nectar to sustain them through the coming winter.  Do your little bee friends a favor and plant a "Little Joe" in your home garden.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Landscape Plants

Autumn is a great time of year to add landscape plants you've been admiring all summer.  My centerpiece is a new baby Hydrangea Quercifolia "Snowflake".  I've left plenty of growing room around this little one so it can stretch out next spring and take her rightful place in my garden.
She has green oakleaf shaped leaves and will (hopefully) have large white bracts of small white flowers which will turn dark purple in the fall.


To the side of the front door I planted an evergreen with a fern-like welcoming shape, "Fernspray False Cypress).  It's described as having an Asian appearance.


So on the other side of the entrance, I planted an upright Japanese Plum Yew.
 
 

And on the opposite side of the Plum Yew I added a Weeping White Spruce.
 

I was looking for bergundy flowering shrubs that would stay compact without having to resort to barberries.
 

So I planted two "Little Devil Nine Bark" shrubs and a "Little Joe" Pyeweed.  I had to shoo two honey bees off the "Little Joe" to be able to get it into the car.


It all looks a little "new" right now.  We'll see how it all comes together in the spring.