Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31st

Dusting of Snow.....

Breakfast with a Friend.....(with silly tongue out grin)....

Movies and Quilting......

and a kiss at midnight....


Sunday, December 28, 2008

A new path

For many years of my adult life, I have been a multi-tasking, relationships, classes, performances, projects, callings, more classes, etc. etc.... "Take it all on!" "Sleep when you're dead!" "I'd rather burn to ashes...and...streak across the sky!", I thought. But, over the past year or so, I have been slowly stepping back from this approach. Gradually, I began to realize that I felt like a boxer in the ring, either preparing to "take it all on", pulse pumping, gloves pounding, adrenaline coursing or I was exhaustedly picking myself up off the mat after the round was over, feeling "dead" and "burnt to ashes". Didn't I know any better way?

One of my clearest childhood memories is of being kept after school with my kindergarten teacher to finish up my worksheet from that day. I was not a fast-working, multi-tasking kindergartner. In fact, I always took longer than everyone else to finish. That day, Mrs. R was making a point (to me? to herself? to my mom?) of just how slow I was. When I finally finished and left, the schoolyard and playground were deserted. Even my friend and next-door neighbor, who was supposed walk home with me and who said he would wait for me, was gone. A touch of panic at being left behind, forgotten, lost and neglected, all because I was slow, crept in. I don't know that this impacted my school habits, but now my slowness induced feelings of fear and guilt.

As I have been revisiting the pace of my life, this memory comes back to me, along with other times in school where I found myself behind in my timing. Those experiences always involved judgment on myself. Yet, I love the drawing out of time I feel when I visit a beach or a fabric store or a gallery or a new mountain vista. I often want to dawdle on a project or spend all day in the kitchen. I enjoy spending an hour in the morning writing in my journal. For all of my "pack-it-in" approach, I am rediscovering that I really like to work at a slow, focused, all-the-time-in-the-world pace. A friend once told me she likes to take trips with me because I love the moment and time is never an issue. That sounds like a good thing, right? Oh, how I want to reclaim this way of living! Is it possible? Is it practical?

I am bouncing back and forth a bit...trying to find a slower pace, but not succeeding...or succeeding a bit, but then getting overwhelmed by what then gets neglected. I find myself in a place of confusion and even grieving...confused as to how to balance the demands of daily living and this way of being that feels peaceful to me...grieving that this way of working and being has been lost to me for so long...wondering if I can ever have it back. It seems that Mrs. R and Mr. Life don't support my kindergarten worksheet approach of slow and focused.

However, I think I may stay here for a while, sorting out how to reclaim this lost thing and honor the beauty of my kindergartner approach. I know it can't be the only approach to my life, but for now, I have some worksheets that need some serious dawdling and doodling attention.

p.s. These photos are from a solo hike in Alaska last fall...a time I was able to just be, for as long as I wanted...or at least until dark. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Schlepped a 20 lb. turkey on the subway...

Yes it is true. I also had stocking stuffer citruses, bagels for breakfast, things for two savory gift baskets and other grocery miscellany in tow. It was an adventure...a heavy adventure! (Did I mention it was raining...and my turkey and groceries were in paper bags?)

Luckily, all made it home safe and sound! The trains weren't crowded and after all my city walking, I feel justified in the joyful feasting to come. Here at home, I'm settling in to wrap and bake and prepare for holiday entertaining, which is new for me. I'm looking forward to it! Hope you and yours have a lovely holiday weekend!

Merry Christmas all!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Magic everywhere....

The thought "life is magic!" flashed in my mind this fall when a moment of unexpected beauty that caught me off guard.

Beauty isn't usually the most immediate thing outside my apartment windows. Between my 2nd floor apartment and the fabulous park across the street, the view from five of my six windows is the rooftop of the shops below. Guests often ask if we go out onto this balcony-looking space. I have to admit, it's a great gathering place....for pigeons, windblown trash, grimey puddles, random items that escape from the apartments above (such as the current display of men's brown tighty-whities...or would that be tighty-brownies?) and other such miscellaneous stuff. Usually, it just gets caught there, creating a monotonous gray landscape.

One morning, I opened the bathroom window a crack while I hopped in the shower. Mid-shower, I caught a glimpse of the rooftop. It had been transformed! In the place of the dingy, puddle covered roof was a shimmering lake of golds and oranges. All the trees across the street were gazing lovingly into this rain-made mirror, admiring their new autumn attire . It took my breath away.

I have appreciated things like the Noticing Project as I read other's blogs, but in that moment I saw it in my life. Perhaps, life is magic, if we but open our eyes to see it.

Here is a bit of man-made magic downtown I've been enjoying lately, where paths of light are created every night in an otherwise ordinary plaza.

I love walking through here after dark. The trees wrapped in lights, the diagonals, the shafts of light on the ground...I truly love it. Thank goodness that even municipal folk create beauty sometimes!

Where have you noticed beauty lately? What magic has stopped you, even for just a moment? Oh, I'd love to see your pictures, your words or your image or links. Will you share one?

Fully Appreciated Value

We have a Christmas tree! She is a sweet little thing and I just love her!!!

Most years, we already have our tree by mid-December, but this year's been busy, with hubby madly writing grad school papers and me rehearsing more than in previous months. Having a night where we were both home together before 10 p.m. and could go Christmas tree shopping just hasn't happened.

Last night, late, on the way home from a wonderful harp concert by a dear friend (with dear friend's parents in tow), we saw a local tree vendor. I detoured hubby and I across the street to gaze at the trees. Immediately, I saw her...shorter than me, but sweetly fragrant and only $25! I was in love! It was late, we had guests, both of us had things in tow, etc. etc. we walked away....with me feeling a little sad to leave her.

Home and changed out of work clothes, hubby finally said if we were going to go get a tree, we'd better go before it got any later. Yippeeeeeee! Looking at a few others only convinced us that this little fir one was the one for us, a little lopsided and all.

Skipping! Singing! Like a kid at Christmas? When we walked in the door, our guests asked if we were bringing a tree in. In response to my gleeful, "yes", Mac said, "From the smile in her voice I can tell that that was a good idea." And yes, yes it was!

How can a little tree make me so happy?

Teena said really enjoying something is what Mac calls getting "Fully Appreciated Value". Big economic term, simple principle...appreciate what you have. And so, in my efforts to be more economically wise, I am going to strive to get fully appreciated value out of this tree, loving it and enjoying it completely!
(Don't mind the woman hugging the tree in the entry way, adoringly trying to guess her name and offering her hot coccoa. Possible case of Season affective disorder...sometimes the Season just gets to her. Hope it gets to you too.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's SNOWING in NYC....big, beautiful, nearly snow-ball sized snowflakes! Hooray! Must make hot coccoa, watch it all for a minute, then back to work....smiling! I love magical days!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You want me to WHAT?

Money's been on my mind lately. I'm guessing it has been on yours too. Thought I'd share a budgeting tool that has finally made it so hubby and I budget.


You have no idea how many failed attempts proceeded this discovery. Every month that we tried budgeting ended with the mournful whine, "but where did it all go???" (sigh of exasperation.....) It was just too depressing and failed for reasons I could never seem to explain. We weren't extravagant. We were trying to be good. We didn't even BUY anything, it seemed. So where had it gone? But now, I can SEE where it is all going...even when I don't want to. (Don't ask me about how long it took me to pay the budget back for a tiny, little splurge on summer clothes. Please don't.)

(But you can ask me how much I would have had to pay in credit card interest if I was paying the credit card company back for the splurge, rather than myself! :)

First, some history...envelope budgeting the old way....

My parents did this. My mom had a box of envelopes in her closet where all the budgeting for the month happened. Whenever she or Dad got paid, she'd divvy up the cash from the check among the different envelopes...groceries, kid fund... (Hmmm...those are the only two envelopes that I specifically remember. Guess what was important to me!) When it was time to buy something, she took the money from the designated envelope and spent what she had. If she needed more money for something, she'd have to rearrange the cash in front of her to funds the specific envelope in need. Or wait 'til next paycheck.

Fast forward 20+ years, where we rarely pay for things with cash.

Photo by Andres Rueda, used under Creative Commons License

You probably have several credit cards, a debit card, online bill payments, checks, automatic deductions, direct deposit, etc. etc. etc. Makes things a little bit more complicated than my mom's system, eh?

Enter mvelopes, an online company that allows you to use the same system, just catered to our electronic spending methods. You link your mvelopes account to your relevant financial accounts (bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.) Daily, it retrieves all of your activity, both payments and deposits. You then assign each of those transaction (click and drag or set rules for assigning them automatically) to the appropriate digital envelope.

For instance, you get paid $1,000 by direct deposit. It shows up as an incoming deposit. You record it as income and then decide how much of that should be set aside for different expenses (rent/mortgage, groceries, movies, clothing, insurance, etc.) If you set aside $100 for groceries, your grocery envelope will show it has $100.00 in it.

Then when you buy something, (does $32.00 for cupcakes count as groceries?) that transaction shows up and you have to assign it to the correct envelope. Let's say I convince hubby that $32.00 for cupcakes is a valid grocery expense. (That many cupcakes could sustain a girl for a long time!) When I assign that transaction to groceries, it then shows I have $68.00 left for groceries until more money comes in.

Hmmmmm....more cupcakes? $68.00 would buy a lot of cupcakes! Enough to last until the next paycheck though? Hmmmm....

Let's make it a bit more are really trying to use that rewards credit card, so you buy your cupcakes with it. (Miles and cupcakes? We're in the money...) When the transaction comes in and you assign it to groceries, it will take the money out of your grocery envelope and place it in an envelope called "money for rewards credit card". This way it shows you that money has been spent from your budget even though you haven't paid the credit card company yet. Now, when the bill comes, you can pay it off in full. This prevents one of the traps I used to fall victim to...thinking because there was money in our checking account (we're not broke!), we had money for it. Right? So I'd charge this and that (nothing extravagant) to the card and then be flabbergasted that it put such a squeeze on our checking account to pay it off or I'd have to carry the balance over.

Mvelopes has it's quirks, admittedly. And it is a tool, not your mother. You still have to manage it...assign transactions, adjust your budget, fund your envelopes. It won't prevent you from spending more than you have allotted for a specific part of your budget. Those envelopes can go in the red! (See above re: clothing splurge this summer!) And there is a small fee. But if you are checking it frequently, you see when and where unexpected, or seemingly insignificant expense hit your budget and how they impact it. You can see, where your money is going, but also how much you have left and decide how you are going to spend it. And, I've discovered you can see how much you have saved and what your savings are for.

Whew. There it is. My long post that feels a bit like an infomercial. But if any program can help me see how to increase my spending account for cupcakes, I mean increase my savings and education funds and things, I am all for it! And mvelopes has done just that.

Happy budgeting all!

p.s. hungry, anyone?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Making Progress!

Yesterday was a sewing and cleaning and baking day. I made cut out and am almost half-way done sewing the borders on my hand-pieced quilt. I am so excited to see it coming together!

Have a great day all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feeling Lazy...

...and just a bit under the weather. (This was really helped by my pot-smoking neighbors deciding that 3:45 a.m. - 5:30 a.m. was a great time to have a gathering, including loud laughter and piano playing. Once I finally got back to sleep I dreamt about inter-apartment wars between hubby and I and an illegal cabaret next door.)
All creative and financial posts on hold. Today is just grocery shopping, errands, cleaning, maybe a tiny bit of crafting and then games with friends. Although what I feel like is a movie in my pj's, a nap....and games with friends. Oh well.

Go sign up for this quilt giveaway today! It is an adorable quilt!

Have a lovely day! Be back in better form soon...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wealth....and a Cupcake Award

(Logical pairing, right? Don't cupcakes = wealth?)

Worried about money? (Aren't we all???) Recently two ladies struck up a conversation with me on the subway about money and I found myself sharing a tool hubby and I use in our financial management that is immensely helpful. If I'd share it with strangers, why not you, my lovely readers? So, I'm working on a post to tell you all about it. Should be up by the end of the week.

Now about that wealth.....

I got my Spare Change Swap fabric some time ago and it is fabulous!!! A long overdue thanks to chickpeastudios for the phenomenal swap! I have enough projects on my plate that I won't be sewing anything with these for awhile, but check them out! Aren't they fun???

I think my all time favorite is the pea pod fabric. I gushed about it enough when I saw it both times on her blog, that our kind swap guru offered to fish out my package to make sure I received one of them. With over 150 packages to prepare!!! I thought that was an overly generous offer and reassured her whatever I got would be wonderful. (Looking at the other 23 squares in my pack it is TRUE!) However, I got one after all! Wahoo!!! Whether she double checked for me or the fabric fairies were on my side, I know not, but her extreme generosity in arranging this swap definitely earn her a cupcake award for sweetness. She made a lot of quilters very giddy this fall! Thank you chickpea!

Photo by Kelly Sue DeConnick, used under Creative Commons License

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finished Object!

sort of.....

I bought this adorable fabric in early October with the intention of making myself a table-runner with the cute trick-o-treaters. Then I got caught up in the whirl of the Fall into Fall Giveaway, making 3 table-runners (this one and two like this) for others out of the scraps, but never making one for myself. I finally finished the top the day before Thanksgiving. (Silly hubby thought the sewing machine and ironing board and fabric craziness had to go away before Thanksgiving guests arrived. Huh??? We could've just had a picnic in the living room, right?)

Here she is, in two photos because she is so long...

I have sworn off quilting on my old, bothersome machine (am looking for a new one), so this top will have to wait until next year to get truly "finished". I'm a little out of season, but catching up. Evidence? The first December decorations went up last night. Wahooooooo!

Have a great day, all!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After...

Yesterday was lovely! Friends, yummy dinner with a variety of shared dishes brought by said friends, games, a movie, good conversation and plenty of leftovers for all. After all that, the best part was when I got to talk to my sister while doing dishes.

I usually dread dishes, taking an approach to cooking and cleaning that Lollychops would describe as "Hurricane Andrea with FEMA (AKA hubby) disaster recovery", as she did in this post. (Btw, I made the cranberry sauce in that post and liked it much better than the canned stuff. Still pretty simple and traditional, but better.) However, last night I looked forward to the slow rhythm of doing dishes. To get to chat with hermanacita while I worked made it even sweeter.

came in for a round this morning, but here's what's still left.

I must admit to not minding this last batch too much, but I better get to it soon. I've started bread which will grow the pile and we haven't made dinner. Leftovers anyone?

And then there's this...

We did finally get some (ha!) laundry done yesterday and today after our basement and laundry room has been closed for repairs for nearly a week.

So back to the regularly scheduled program of cooking and cleaning. Perhaps we'll have a short word from our (crafting) sponsors later. 'Bye!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving All...

Just made myself this....

....and I'm ready to relax and enjoy the long weekend. Hope yours is filled with family and friends, wonderful food, relaxation, football (if you are hubby) and a peaceful reminder of the blessings in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for....

In the middle of some not so fun things right now, I'd like to remind myself of things I am grateful for. Such as.....

........looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with a few friends.

.......yellow roses in my yellow kitchen.

.......a very good man as a husband. I'm grateful we find ways to talk and work through tough things.

........concord grapes from the Farmer's market for juicing tomorrow morning.

..........and last, but not least, finding a few friendly & helpful insurance employees. A small but significant answer to prayers.

Hope you see a few small blessings in your day today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bindhis and Bollywood...

Today I am grateful for friends who have fabulous adventures and when they return, generously share bits of those adventures with me.

Tonight we will celebrate my friend Marin's successful project in India this past summer choreographing a piece on a professional company in Mumbai. There will be Indian food, Bollywood music, bindhis to wear, video of her project and lots and lots of stories. She'll be showing off her gorgeous sari and other fun souvenirs. I think I'll wear this silk scarf she brought me. Isn't it beautiful? The colors remind me of dawn...

What's your favorite "brought from the far corners" gift? What do you cherish that someone brought you from a place you've never been?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Headlines Imitating Life

While I am not an avid New York Times reader (I have yet to figure out how to include it in my regular time and money budget), I really enjoy the Times. So discovering a Sunday Times left behind on the train last week was a real find. One headline on the front page almost made me laugh out loud. Looks like Mr. President-elect and I are facing the same question...

I don't know what he'll decide, but usually I am a BIG fan of "quick and broad". My m.o. is to take on a lots of things (all of them fantastic or interesting or creative or important, of course), but I am having the unfortunate realization that that is not necessarily the road to success and happiness. I am reluctantly examining what "pragmatic, slower steps" might look like, might be like.

First response? Boring!

I'd much rather dance and sew and make raspberry jam and blog and learn Spanish and create photo albums of the past 10 years (oh yeah, and everything from my childhood too) and design patterns and invest in the stock market (crazy huh?) and knit and participate in a book club (and a women's club and a quilt group) and establish a food storage plan and....and....and.....

And it's not working.

Let's take Spanish.

I am coming to the following realizations about my Spanish studies:

1. I believe a new language should come easily...intuitively almost. Learning my first language was pretty straight forward, right? I just listened to my parents, blah, blah, blah, then BAM, I could write excellent college level research papers and debate about important issues. That's how it works, right? So if I drop in on Spanish class, mostly do my homework, listen to a few discursos in Spanish, read the ads in Spanish on the subway, by the end of the year, I should be fluent. Especially because I'm smart. Right. Right?

2. It's not working like that.

3. I am very, very behind where my current class level is. (But I thought I was smart, right???)

4. Ah ha! I am smart! I just need to study like a mad-woman, make Spanish my life...drilling myself on the subway to and from work, watch only Spanish movies, make hubby only correspond with me in the espanol, read periodicos instead of the Times (because I have so much time for that in my schedule already), make 10 new hispanic friends and hang out with them every single week-end, only read Spanish craft blogs (I did find one!), etc. etc. etc. Project! Exciting! I could do it!

5. This would be sustainable for about 36 hours....or more accurately, 3.6 hours. .36 hours?

6. I either need to forget about Spanish or come up with a new plan.

7. New plans might be boring. And make my tummy hurt.

8. A new plan would probably mean I'd have to study consistently, a little bit each day. Yes, Andrea, each day. It would probably mean I will continue to be behind and say things incorrectly and not know how to communicate well for some time, even though I am studying. Yes, each day.

9. New plans definitely give me an upset tummy.

But alas, I'm trying it anyway. I am trying to be a bit more patient, pragmatic and persistent. (Although I might get distracted writing alliteration poems...) Ahem...I AM trying to be more focused, consistent and realistic.
I am slowly learning how to reflect on what matters most and how to keep my focus on it. And when it comes to Spanish, I am going to try studying a little bit every day, (yes, each day)...tortoise-like, diligently.

So, better watch out "slow and pragmatic"....I am going to kick your behind!

(Well, unless there is a knitting project that just has to be done right now. Then I might have to get back to slow and pragmatic later. Or if it keeps making my tummy hurt. But otherwise, behind? Totally kicked!)

p.s. Did I mention I am learning this slowly???

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's more American than....VOTING?

When I was a kid we learned a song in school that asked that question with a silly variety of different endings....corn flakes, the Fourth of July, Uncle Sam, ice cream, baseball, football, etc. (Aside, can anyone explain why the song includes pizza pie, but not apple pie in the list of "American" items?)

In any event, in honor of my friend May's naturalization party, I am asking YOU this question...What is the most American dish I can bring to help May celebrate? She'll already have hot dogs, Coca Cola and little apple pies. What do you think folks? What shall it be? Please exercise your rights as a reader of this blog and let your voice be heard!

I will report on Thursday what I take, just how badly I humiliate myself on her citizenship trivia games....and just how often we all (including May) shout, in answer to the question above, "I AM, I AM, I AM!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Banana Bread & Sharing

I'm grateful to have banana bread in the oven! I wanted something a bit healthier (and caramel-ier) than the usual banana bread. Are those two things mutually exclusive???

Anyway, I found an epicurious recipe to tweak. It's in the oven now and it smells so yummy! Optimistic that it will taste yummy, so I'll post my variation recipe here. (Just checked on it and it looks GOOD!!!) (Update: Yep. It's good!)

End-Our-Dependence-on-Oil Banana Bread

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (half brown sugar, half white)
3 bananas
1/3 cup yogurt
1 T oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4-1 cup white flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Toasted nuts (optional)
Honey (optional)

Beat eggs and sugar for 5 min (til light and thick is what their recipe said...not EXACTLY sure what that means. Light and think? But I beat it for 5 minutes). Add bananas, yogurt, oil, vanilla. Mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Pour into greased and floured pan. Sprinkle toasted nuts on top. Drizzle with honey if you'd like. Bake at 325 for about an hour, until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Also enjoy these giveaways on some blogs I check from time to time....

Dragonfrye News is having her monthly giveaway of a baby blanket/comforter/quilt. Tina is very nice and I love the quilt I won from her. Take a look...maybe you'll be lucky too!

Apron Thrift Girl is giving away a beautiful necklace. Wait, maybe don't enter...I want to increase my odds!

is giving away a pendant to be made into a bracelet or necklace...winner's choice. She's also compiling a massive list of favorite craft blogs as part of the giveaway, so check back if you want new inspiration! (And maybe drool over the yummy looking chocolate cobbler in her more recent posts!)

'Bye folks! Have a yummy day!

Watching this historic day....

Barack Obama, President-Elect
November 4, 2008
I have many thoughts about this, but for now I will simply say, today is an historic day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A month of gratitude....

Sunday, the guest chorister in our primary started our singing time by asking the kids what month it was. ("Wow, it's November!" I thought.) Then she asked what holiday we will celebrate in November. The littlest ones immediately shouted, "Christmas!" Logical, right? Halloween is over so the next big kid-fest is Christmas! They then tried "fall", "winter", "snow" and finally "turkey". (I think they are a little unclear on the concept of "holiday".) Eventually, they got to Thanksgiving.

Yes, Thanksgiving. As I thought about it, realizing it was in fact November and would be Thanksgiving in a few short weeks, I felt glad to have been reminded that it was a month for thanks-giving. Rather than only thinking about Thanksgiving in terms of what we are going to do for our "feast" and the often related stress, I felt excited to shift the focus to the spirit of the season...recognizing and expressing gratitude for our blessings. It reminded me of Amy's post about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and the sacredness of rituals and holidays which allow us to revisit the things which matter most in our lives.

So here at the little collection, that's what I am going to focus on for the next month...thanks-giving, abundance and gratitude. Wanna join me? While not all of my posts will be specifically about that (there are yummy recipes to share folks!)*, I am grateful to have the excuse to draw my attention to the abundance I enjoy, rather than areas where I think there is lack.

Can I share a quote with you I recently heard from President Thomas S. Monson on this topic?

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” -- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Hoping for a little more heaven on earth for all of us. Have a blessed day.

*p.s. I am grateful for yummy recipes, I admit it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


The last piece of the pie I made with my sister. And the ice cream? Well a girl needs her dairy! The Halloween table runner I will be sewing tomorrow for myself (finally!) is in the background. It's going to be a great day. Hope yours is great too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

My sister's visit was a delight. There wasn't much we did that was extraordinary, but it was just so unbelievably good to have her around. Here she is with her new hubby in front of the American Museum of Natural History.

Doesn't she have the greatest smile? Pretty much jealous of it! Colgate, do you need a model?

My favorite part of the visit was when I got done with my early morning Spanish class Monday and realized that I would be meeting her at the farmer's market shortly. My sister as part of a "normal" day? Totally awesome!

Next best thing...discovering that my brother-in-law (who I haven't spent much time with prior to this weekend) makes me laugh. Laughing is big time important to hermanacita, so that is good. She told me last summer that silly gets her through an awful lot so she would require the ability and willingness to be silly in any potential life partner. Think she found him.

Yep, it's true. Family matters. (Brought to you by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Remember those commercials?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Having a Stay-cation this weekend.

Just a little note to say I'm going off the air for a few days because MY SISTER IS COMING TO TOWN!!!! Shouting I know, but I am just that excited. I hope to spend every extra moment hugging and chatting and baking and and movie watching and game playing and city walking...or just nothing at all as long as she is the one I am doing it with! Plus, we finally get to really hang out with and get to know her new hubby. Oh, I am so excited!

Have you all have a lovely weekend too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Finished Object: Trick or Treat! Hide and Seek!

Here's the tablerunner that Melissa selected for her giveaway prize and it is finished and in the mail heading north, along with a few small goodies. Hope she likes it! :)

Hmmmm....seeing it posted is a good way to step back and really look at it. Can see that it is more weighted in blacks on the left. Guess that's what a design wall is for and what happens when you are just free-wheeling it! Oh well, I like it anyway! Hooray for my first giveaway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Conversation with the hubby....

Me: (Thinking of a colleague who is always dressed fashionably and has beautifully done hair and make-up). Hon, is it ok that I'm so low-maintenance?

Hubby: (raised eye-brows, long look, no response.)

Me: Uh.....maybe I need to clarify.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Soup Swap: Mom's Stew & Kathy's French Bread

This is my contribution to Jessica's Soup Swap. If you want more yummy soup recipes, just click on the icon above.

This stew is so yummy! It definitely gives me growing up comfort memories! As I made it again for the Soup Swap, I was reminded of the uniqueness of the flavor too. It's not a typical stew taste. The paprika and worcestershire and clove....just right!

I also decided to make French bread from a recipe given to me at my bridal shower back home with family and the women from my neighborhood. These women were constants in my growing up years. Claudia (who happened to live next door to my aunt) gave me this recipe, but clearly labeled it as "Kathy's" who lived across the street from her. Talk about neighborhood sharing! I love thinking of the women I grew up around when I make this bread. Without further ado....

Mom's Stew

2 Tbsp shortening or butter
1 lb stew meat
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of ground cloves
4 potatoes cubed
2-4 carrots
1 16 oz. can corn, drained (I used corn from 3 ears of corn, cut of the cob raw)
(I also added 2 small parsnips, but didn't notice them for good or bad.)
6 Tbsp flour

Brown the meat in the shortening/butter, turning often.

(Oh my goodness, looking at this now I think I may have added twice the butter. No wonder it tasted extra rich!) Add 2 quarts of water (I used beef broth for part of this because I had it in the fridge) and all of the seasoning/spices including onion and garlic. Once the soup is boiling, add the carrots and potatoes.

Cook until soft. Add the corn. Combine the flour in cold water, mixing thoroughly until there are no lumps. Add to stew and heat 'til bubbly (and if you add extra butter like me you have a yummy layer of "flavor" swirling on top!)

Kathy's French Bread
(This is the half version I make for only one loaf.)

1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp dry yeast
1 cup HOT water
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt (I probably do a little less than this)
1/6 cup of oil (eye-balled in my 1/3 cup measuring cup)
3 cups flour (I used 100% whole wheat.)

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup water. In another bowl combine hoe water, sugar, salt, oil and 1/2 flour. Stir. Add yeast and stire. Add rest of flour. I usually cover the bowl and place it on my stove top or some other warm place. Stir down dough every 10 minutes five times. Roll out on large cutting board.

Roll up jelly-roll fashion , tucking the ends under. Sprinkle baking pan with cornmeal or grease. (Looking at my pan, see I clearly forgot that one, but it didn't stick this time. Go figure!) Slash the top.

Let raise double (30 - 60 minutes). Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. Serve warm with butter, of course!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giveaway!!! -- WINNER CHOSEN!!!

***UPDATE: Well the random integer generator selected comment number 51 out of 57 (one was a duplicate entry adding an e-mail). See:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-16 02:50:20 UTC

which is......

Melissa from Frog Stitch! Congratulations!!! She says she makes pear crisp or pear jam from her sister's pears. YUM!!! Maybe I need to hop up to Canada to get some of that!!! So it looks like one of these runners is headed north. Hooray!!!

Thank you all for playing! It was fun to peek at your blogs and make this to send off to someone else's home. Once I hear from Melissa which one she likes, I'll put the other one in my new etsy shop. So check back if you are dying for a trick-or-treating table runner! Night all!
End of update.****

Yep, decided to jump into the fray with the "Fall into Fall" Quilter's giveaway! My giveaway prize is still in progress (due to a cold over the week-end, yuck!), but let's start the entries shall we?

You are entering for a Halloween table runner of your choice! All are welcome to join in the, friends, neighbors, blog-buddies, new visitors. All you need to do is leave a comment below (and a way to contact you if you don't have a blog) before October 15th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time telling me your favorite thing to make in the fall. It could be a craft, a favorite dish or anything else. (Yes, piles of leaves count!)

One lucky winner will get to choose between the above pictured table-runners: either the bright Halloween colors or the neutrals. The other will go in my etsy shop on Thursday. Isn't this Halloween fabric fun??? The giveaway package will also include a few fun Halloween/fall surprises, so sign up boys and girls. Let's get started!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Busy weekend and a teaser...

The next few days are going to be pretty busy around here...I have several rehearsals today and guests over for dinner tomorrow, so I may not get around to blogging. But, I am thinking about jumping on the bandwagon with the Fall into Fall giveaway and adding a little giveaway love of my own, so check back soon. If you click on this little guy below, he will take you to the list of other giveaway participants and links to their giveaways of fun handmade and quilting stuff.

Have a fabulous long weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Feeling it...

After a little prodding by Amy, seeing Park City Girl's thankful lists and hearing a conference talk or two this past weekend, I have been trying to recognize my blessings more consciously. But today, without any effort, I am just feeling exceptionally blessed by the women in my life. I often overlook how many wonderful women I am lucky to know, love and be supported by, because of busyness, personal challenges, distance or just the grumbles. But today, I somehow feel blessed by all of you that have touched my life, be you a long time friend (like the A's), or a family member (like my aunts who actually read my blog!), or an inspiring dancer friend, or someone I've worked with or planned camp with, or a new friend I've discovered here, or someone who shares my desire to be a mother (regardless of whether or not our children have shown up yet!) or anyother way that you've come into my life, I'm grateful for you.

Here's to cards and postcards in the mail, e-mails from former New Yorkers, tacos with a camp compadres, friendly posts, projects together, shared recipes, getting a grandma lesson, weekend talks with mom, dancing together, having a sister who loves to be silly, doing swaps and all of the other ways we connect. Thank you! You've made my day today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Five things I am grateful for today

1. The heat came on this morning! In NYC, there are heat laws that govern when the heat gets turned on. It finally got chilly enough for them to start up the boiler. The radiator just started hissing and I can smell that distinct radiator smell. Ooooooh, looking forward to the apartment being warm when I get home tonight! Now it's fall!

2. The scent of this candle.

3. Dancing with long-time friends and making new friends through dance.

4. Warm favorite herbal tea (anything with licorice root) & Grandma's heart quilt.

5. Some time to sew with this fun Halloween fabric. I'm not usually into novelty fabric, but this was too cute to pass up. May have been the little kitty and ballerina costumes...

What are you grateful for today?