Friday, July 31, 2009

Thankful Thursday a day late ... again

I found myself in a precarious position the other day -- much like the feline to the right. When my daughter became engaged a few months ago, I resolved to wear the same dress that I had bought and worn for my son's wedding last fall. I'm not sure if this is gauche or not, but frankly I wasn't too concerned about it. I loved the dress. It fit well. It was paid for. All things considered, I was happy with my decision ... until the other day. The other day I tried it on and realized it was too warm for this time of year. I hadn't really thought about the ramifications of having a jacketed dress in August -- I had been perfectly comfortable in it for my son's wedding last October. (sigh) I'm just not a very deep thinker at times. Let me interject here, that I dislike intensely looking for mother of the bride/groom dresses. Mostly because, generally speaking, the dresses I try on fall into two categories: 1.) dowdy and something the Queen Mother would wear, or 2.) much too revealing for a somewhat conservative/modest dresser like me. This has been a predictable situation I have found myself in when I've searched for wedding attire in the past. Anyway, I pledged to "suck it up" and hope for 70 degree weather that day, but the thought of being uncomfortable and too warm throughout the day was unsettling.

Today I was walking through Dillard's on my way to another store, when a myriad of black dresses drew my attention. Oh, happy day. I tried a few of them on and fell in love with one. I exaggerate. I didn't "fall in love" with it. I rarely "fall in love" with clothes any more. At 50 plus years, it feels more like "settling for something", but still, it settled remarkably well. Plus, it was a phenomenal price. Here's a picture of it. Just to set the record straight... this isn't me in the photo. You have to picture the model about 25 years older and the dress several sizes larger. This dress is probably not as formal as many mothers wear to weddings, but the reception is going to be in our backyard, so formality isn't as much of an issue as it might be for others.

Sooo, getting back to the title of this post... Why am I thankful today? I am so happy I found a dress and was able to purchase it without having the pressure of even having to "look." I mean, really, how often does that happen? I'm so grateful. And thankful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ice-Cream Puffs...

Every once and awhile I cook. Seriously. It is only every once and awhile. After feeding seven children and one husband for years, I decided enough was enough. My sweet husband backed me up on this one. He figured I had done some hard time, so, generally speaking, for the last couple of years we've gone out to lunch and dinner on a regular basis. Some of my best friends are the servers & cashiers at Wahoo's, Rumbi's, Schlotzsky's, Qdoba and Noodles & Company. ;o) We see them all on a regular basis. Today the Schlotzsky manager took me, my daughter, and a friend out to lunch on his dime -- told me he appreciated my business. Now, that's a friend worth knowing!

Tonight the missionaries from our church are coming for dinner. When we invite them to dinner, I try to do it up proper and make them a nice home-cooked meal. Sometimes "home-cooked" sounds really good -- even to me. We're having chicken fajitas with fresh tomatoes and cilantro from my garden, homemade salsa and guacamole with chips, cornbread with homemade jam, and a salad. Dessert, however, is going to be the pièce de résistance. I'm making ice-cream filled cream puffs. A couple of weeks ago we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Boulder and had the delightful delicacy to the right for dessert. My son took a photo of it with his I-phone. It was delicious. Extraordinarily delicious. So...I figured I would make my own version tonight for dessert. Cream puffs are so easy to make. Some people assume that they are difficult or time consuming to concoct, but they are such a cinch! Anyway, here is the recipe for the puff, then just fill it with your favorite ice cream, top with drizzled chocolate, and add a little whipped cream to the side. (Note: For the drizzled chocolate topping I use a container of chocolate frosting -- heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then I stir it well, dip the spoon into the frosting and drizzle away!)

Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, heat water, butter, and salt until the water boils and the butter melts. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in flour all at once until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.
  • Put in a mixer and add eggs to flour mixture one at a time, beating after each addition until the mixture is smooth and satiny.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a large cookie sheet and drop batter onto cookie sheet by heaping tablespoon. (Makes about nine 3" cooked puffs.)
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until golden, then turn off the oven and let the puffs remain in the oven another 15 minutes. (This gives them a more crispy texture -- delish!) Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
  • Just before serving cut puffs in half horizontally with a long serrated knife. Put a scoop of your favorite ice cream in the puff and drizzle with heated chocolate frosting. You might want to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
Here are some photos of the Ice-Cream Puffs I made today. Hopefully they will inspire you to make your own. It's a fun, easy dessert that will add a little something special to any meal...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free Patterns and Tutorials...

How I love the blogging world. Today I visited Quilt Hollow. She had a post that mentioned a blog, DIY Bag Lover, that has a collection of many free patterns and tutorials for totes and bags. After I read the post I high-tailed it over to DIY Bag Lover, because, as you know, I have a vested interest in Hang Ups of any kind. Oh my. Oh my, oh my. There were several patterns I fell in love with. This blog is truly a great resource for the seamstress who's hooked on totes of any kind.Then I might look as hip as the lovely lady to the left who is clutching that pretty matching purse. Head on over and take a look for yourself!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday...

Ahem. I need a little help. I have something growing in my front yard. Right by my front door. In plain sight. It's a climber and it loves this shady spot. I don't remember planting it, and I can tell you right now I don't know what it is. It looks oddly peculiar and somewhat suspicious. Ok, it looks very suspicious. I'm hoping you Bloomin' Tuesday ladies can fill me in to its species and put my mind at rest. I don't want an officer of the law knocking on my door and telling me I have a controlled substance growing smack dab in the middle of my garden plainly visible to little old ladies, small children, and poodles. Contraband would be hard to explain to the neighbors, let alone the police -- especially when I've been taking such good care of it -- watering it daily and fertilizing it on schedule. I'm at your mercy, ladies...

What is this?

And please don't tell me it's "weed" -- without specifying just what variety. Thank you.

PS: That's hail damage on the leaves. We've had our fair share -- and then some -- of hail this summer!

To visit more Bloomin' Tuesday posts,

mosey on over the Ms. Green Thumb Jean's.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

After the rain...

Oh my. Life is good. Last night it rained. I much prefer rain to hail. We've had a lot of both this summer, but last night we had a beautiful, summer downpour. After a few very hot days, a night of rain awakens the garden like nothing else. This morning when I went out to check on all my little blooms, they were budding beautifully. Just so you know, all the color in these photos are natural. Mother nature doesn't need Picasa photo shop and color saturation when she creates flowers like these...

Oh, how I love morning glories. They are the brightest, happiest "good morning" I get around these parts!

Remember the little crow I bought this spring? He now resides on the top of this fence post. He's happy overlooking the garden...

Peter was kind enough to stand as still as a statue while I snapped his photo. He's such an accommodating fellow...

No doubt about it, this little gal looked a little perturbed when I took her photo. She's rather modest and doesn't appreciate her photo being taken while she's bathing...

Ahhh, fresh basil and cilantro. About a month ago I realized I hadn't planted any herbs this year, so I went about planting some. I didn't know if they would do very well because usually I plant these early in the season, but they are looking wonderful! Tonight we are having BBQ'd salmon and some fresh pasta with this basil, home-grown tomatoes, garlic, and Parmesan. My mouth is watering already...

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dandy in black...

I haven't been sewing many totes lately. As much as I wish I could sit down and create a Hang Up, I just haven't had the time. There are bigger fish to fry these days. This doesn't mean, however, that my sewing machine has been idle. Quite the contrary. I've been sewing little girls dresses -- for my granddaughters. We decided to dress them in the wedding colors, so I bought some of my favorite damask, Michael Miller's Dandy Damask in black and white, and set to work. They are 11 months, 3 years, and 5 years, and they will all have little dresses out of this same fabric. Here's a little preview...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Much to do...

I'm so excited. There are many good things happening in our lives right now. First of all, in a week or so another little grandson will be joining the family. Can't get much better than that. Even the little one's "big" brother is getting ready for his arrival. He's practicing parenting skills on his bear in the photo to the left. ;o) Can't wait for the arrival of this new little one. This will bring the total of grandchildren up to seven... four boys and three girls. Heaven.

Then, of course, we are still in the throws of wedding preparations. The big event is about a month away and a lot of my time recently has been spent on preparations for the pre-wedding dinner the night before. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are hosting a Colorado-style BBQ. A western affair, if you will. It has been fun preparing for it. The invitations went out yesterday. They were designed by a friend of mine that is an expert in card making. Honestly, that girl can create a card like no other. (And she does create them for me time and time again with a smile on her face. She's one patient, sweet friend.) They were a labor-intensive card, but worth the time it took for me to crank out the bunch! About a month ago the bride and groom were visiting and had their engagement photos taken. Angie is a wonderful photographer. Love her work. The following photo was taken and we used it on the invitation. Here's what we ended up with for the invitation to the BBQ. I love how they turned out...

About a month I ago started thinking about centerpieces for the serving tables. I wanted the centerpieces to reflect the rustic, western theme. I thought about cat tails and dried grasses -- heaven knows, we've got enough of those around here, but this is summer and I wanted more color than that, so I bought some galvanized steel cans and collected a few other "tin" cans I had around and planted some grasses and flowers in them. "Wildflowers" was the theme I had in mind. They are filling in nicely and I think they'll be the perfect size by the time the wedding comes around...

I'm excited about how things are coming together, but enough about me... I'd love to know what you've been doing lately. How about it -- what's been on your agenda, of late?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

What inspired me this week?
Last night I was a chaperon for a youth activity for our church. It was a water activity at a lake in town. The kids were skipping across the lake in tubes behind a power boat. I'm fairly certain they were in the air more than on the surface of the lake! The activity began at 6pm and ended when the sun set around 8pm. Sitting there on the edge of that lake watching the sun set behind Longs Peak inspired and rejuvenated me. I've been so busy lately, and it was wonderful to be able to relax, laugh, and be inspired by such a beautiful sight!

What surprised me this week?
I love it when service people arrive on time for appointments made. I know this sounds trivial, but it's a big deal to me. This morning I'm having my carpets cleaned and the young man called an hour before our scheduled appointment to remind me that he would be coming and then he arrived on time. Bless his little heart. I'm pleasantly surprised when this happens!

What moved me this week?

A life well lived. This week I attended the funeral of one of my uncles. He was 89 years old when he passed and had lived a long, full life. As I sat in the congregation listening to the eulogies, I was moved.

There are many measures of "success" in this life. In our very nature is the desire to achieve and to be successful. Success is often measured by power, or popularity, or winning, or achievement. I think we've all measured success at one time or another by the accumulation of wealth. As I listened to those who spoke at my uncle's funeral, I realized what a successful man he truly was. I was, however, measuring success in a way the world usually does not. In his twenties he married and was faithful and true to that same woman for all of his life. This good man raised four children to adulthood and was a father they would choose to emulate. He was a loving and playful grandfather. He never graduated from high school, but he worked hard throughout his life to provide for his family. He was a good friend and neighbor. He studied the scriptures, learned from them, and tried to live his life in accordance with the principles taught therein. He never accumulated much wealth, but he learned that God would provide for those who are faithful. He wasn't prominent or revered, except by his friends and family. He didn't hold multiple degrees from prestigious universities, but he learned wisdom. Much to admire and attempt to emulate. The world might question his "success" in life, but, in my mind, true success is not measured by the definitions of the world.

I am moved by simple lives well lived.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday...

Goodness I'm late for Bloomin' Tuesday this week. My husband and I just got back this afternoon from a quick trip to a neighboring state, so I've got a hodge-podge of blossoms and blooms today.

The garden is actually perking up a bit. After a cool and wet start to our summer, the temperatures are finally climbing and the flowers are loving it! My potted plants have finally started to take off, which is really nice.

Here are a couple of shots of some of our potted plants...

Our tomatoes have also started to thrive in the warmer weather. I feel some marinara sauce coming on...

Here's a few more beauties that are scattered around the yard...

Sorry about the rushed post this week. I'll do better next week. Uh, come to think of it, I better not make any promises. The next five weeks are promising to be just as busy as the last! Anyway, I will try to do better. To see more shots of blooms across the nation, go to Ms. Green Thumb Jean's.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blueberry Season...

Oh my. It's blueberry season at Kroger stores. Hopefully you have one near you. Yesterday I bought a 5 lb. box of blueberries for $8.88. I came home and concocted 19 half-pint jars of blueberry jam from that single box. (The jar below is a quarter pint.) I had a little left over, so we drizzled it over our vanilla ice cream last night. I know, it's hard not to be jealous.

If you've never made homemade jam before, this is the year to start. Fruit has been so inexpensive -- at least it has been in our area. There's nothing like having that sweetened fruity goodness waft through your house as you're boiling that sugary brew. It's exhilarating. It intoxicating. It's life-changing. Well almost...

You may be asking yourself why I am in such a jammin' frenzy. The answer is simple. It is the answer to all questions directed toward me this month. It is... "Wedding Planning." Yup, everything I'm doing this month seems to be centered around those two words in one way or another. (You've probably heard, but our youngest is tying the knot next month.) Ok, so here's the deal. My husband and I are hosting a Colorado-style "western" BBQ the night before the wedding. We are having The Rib House cater the food -- baby back ribs, pulled pork, brisket, succulent chicken and the best side dishes you could ever imagine. Oh, and don't let me forget... blackberry, cherry and peach cobbler for dessert...a la mode. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Anyway, the decor for the night is going to have a "western" theme. We're shooting for a relaxed and intimate get together with family, close friends, and the bridal party before all the busy events of the next day. I'll be posting the invitation and a few other ideas for the evening some time in the future -- so cute. Anyway, as a favor we're giving away a jar of jam to each of the guests. I hope that doesn't sound hokey. I think it will be a cute gesture. I just hope everyone "gets it" and that the jars don't crack open in their suitcases on the trip home and ruin their favorite blouse. Maybe I should provide bubble wrap and a seal-lock plastic baggie with each jar...

It's Give-Away Time !

I agree with the woman to the left... Life's little ups and downs seem trivial when you're holding a matching handbag! Let's hope the winner for my July Give-Away has a little something hanging in her closet to match this cute tote.

Thanks to all those who signed up for the give-away this month. Wow -- we had quite a showing. Thank you for all your kind comments!


Without further ado, this month's give-away,
"Butterflies & Blooms,"
goes to...

Congratulations!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday

I had to delve into my photo archives for my Bloomin' post this week. My cameras broke last week. Both of them bit the dust. We've ordered another one, but it hasn't arrived yet. Ergo -- the archival post.

I feel as if my garden is struggling a bit this year. We had too much rain and cool weather in June for my garden to get a really good footing. My morning glories are not yet at their peak. I'm hoping in about a month they will look like the ones in the photos in the mosaic below. I hope you enjoy these beautiful morning glory shots. They are a beautiful bloom to wake up to every morning. I think they're heaven on a vine. Have a wonderful day!



To enjoy more Bloomin' Tuesday posts from around the country,
hop on over to Ms. Green Thumb Jean's!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jammin'

Our cherry tree had been laden with fruit this year. We've been harvesting... our friends and neighbors have been harvesting... the birds have been harvesting. All have been harvesting and we've hardly made a dent in our cherry population. It's been a good year.

As a result of all this delicious fruit on our hands, I've been doing a little jammin'...

I love making jam. There's a therapeutic value in it for me. It makes me happy to pick a piece of fruit, smash it, add a ton of sugar, cook it till the house smells of it's sugary goodness, pour it into a jars, and stare at its mouth-watering lusciousness. I don't even have to taste it to be satisfied -- although I do...

Once I get into the "jammin' mode," there's no stopping me. Next I took some of these...

and some of these...

and created these...

My next project? One of these...

Yum...