Thursday, January 29, 2009

There's A Monkey In My Mailbox!

Good day, sunshine!  The ice and fog is gone and its place is beautiful blue sky and sunshine.  I ventured out to the mailbox and what did I find?  A package from Barb!  Barb's blog is one I've been following I think forever.  She is another person that I think of as 'the perfect grandma' and I try to learn grandma'isms from her. 

And here's what the package contained:

My very own Barb original sock monkey!  She makes these little guys and is setting up a shop and she actually had a drawing that I WON!  Could've knocked me over with a feather!

And look at this face!  Absolutely darling.  Right now he's sitting on a dresser in the spare bedroom that we keep Miss B's toys in.  I'm not sure if this will remain "his spot" or not, but I do think I want him in this room so that when B is here she can love on him.

He sat in the entryway for a bit on my antique sewing machine cabinet, but I'm not so sure the Raggedy Annes enjoyed having him around.  ;)

Regardless of where he ends up I know he'll enjoy it here.  Because once Brooklyn gets to love on him and carry him around by the tail...or arm...or wherever and he starts to look a little raggedy himself, then he'll know that there is no place like home.

Barb, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

ps - see the shadows around sock monkey in the last picture?  They are caused by the natural light coming in the front door!  I do love me some sunshine!   :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monthly Dishcloth KAL and Brooklyn's Hat

Winter has shown up in North Texas.  I started to call it a winter wonderland, but to me that implies huge fluffy snowflakes and a Norman Rockwell type of setting.  Instead we got ice and school closings. 

I used to think I'd really like living "up north" where hot flashes would help keep me warm.  But this week I've become somewhat of a troll and have not left my house since Sunday...literally.  Even the mailbox, all of perhaps 30 feet down the sidewalk, is just too far to walk when it's this cold.  The closest I've gotten to being outside is when I open the backdoor to let Joe out to do his bizness.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be back in the 50's again, so my little world will thaw out again.  And maybe Joe and I will take a walk outside instead of him watching me on the treadmill.

In the meantime, here's some knitting to share.  As I got the dishcloths out to do the photo shoot I saw that I had inadvertantly used two colors that go quite nicely together.  The solid aqua cloth is the first one we did in January and the ice skate seems very fitting today.  The varigated cloth is the mid-month pattern and I really like the pattern

Both of these use the I Love This Cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby.  It's the first time I've actually knit with this yarn and I really loved it.  It's much softer than the Sugar n Creme that I usually use and seems to have more give to it.  This equates to less hand and finger fatigue while knitting.  It costs a bit more at $2.99 a skein when not on sale, but they do have the 40% off coupons so I feel like I can indulge.

I'm showing these pictures of Brooklyn's new hat...even though I didn't knit it for her.  One of the girls at work knit it and since the time I taught her to knit she has taken to it like a duck to water.  She's also been dubbed the hat queen because she has knit so many hats and rarely uses a pattern.

It doesn't show up very well, but this hat kind of has a slouch to it and is just darling.  And I still can't get over seeing Miss B walking around like this.

Now it's time to find my flannel jammies, turn on the electric blanket and grab a cup of hot tea!

"The little things are infinitely the most important" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Success!  Today's TWD recipe is Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, chosen by Sherry Trifle.  Unfortunately it is terribly overcast outside and I wasn't able to get a natural light photo, so the photos taken in the evening will have to do.

Preparing this recipe had me trying many things for the first time.  I've never used, nor even purchased, fresh ginger and in fact I even had to google how to go about chopping it.  The next step was mixing the chopped ginger in a very small amount of sugar and setting it aside.  The aroma was wonderful.

I've also not used bittersweet chocolate much and this cake has it both chopped and melted, then again in the frosting on top.

The house smelled fabulous while this was cooking.  It did come out with dried edges just as Dorie had said.  But following her guidelines I just cut the edges off and we served it that way.

I will confess that instead of the ginger infused whipped cream that the recipe shows we used Redi Whip.  And I served this the night that Lynne' came by the house for dinner, so I had an extra person to give me an opinion.  We all three really liked this cake, but for the most part agreed we don't need to have it again.  If this makes any sense at all, the flavor was rather sophisticated.  A person could close their eyes while taking a bite and swear they were having dessert at a swanky restaurant.  And really, we're not swanky people.  ;)  But it truly is delicious and is so rich that a small piece definitely would suffice.
I'm very glad to have tried this recipe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Valentine's Day Centerpiece

Welcome to my Valentine table!  This year I've jumped into the holiday table with both feet (not to be taken literally....).  I was wishing that I had done more of this when the kids were young, but then I remembered that we probably couldn't have afforded it at that time.  Not that we are dollar wealthy now, but since it's just the two of us it is easier.

I saw this little guy when I ran to Hobby Lobby looking for something else.  They had their seasonal items on sale and this little Love Bug struck my fancy.  Looking around a bit I found the ceramic heart dish to set him in, but he looked a little bare and lonely sitting there.

The light bulb moment came when I saw the bag of Hershey kisses.  Because really who wouldn't want to sit in a sea of chocolate?

The whole thing brings a smile to my face each time I see the table.  And because of the items being on sale it ended up being a low cost option for a holiday centerpiece.  Unless I have to keep replacing the kisses!  :)

CFBA - The Red Siren

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing The Red Siren by Tyndall - Barbour Publishing, Inc
(January 2009)

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow

Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.

To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.

After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.

Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.

Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.

Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Red Siren, go HERE

I haven't read a good pirate adventure romance in years.  In fact, I think the last one was back in the day when my favorite books featured a woman on the cover with the back of her hand against her forehead, a torn bodice and a dashingly handsome pirate standing behind her.  The Red Siren put a new spin on the classic pirate romance. 

When Faith Westcott saw the abusive marriage her oldest sister was thrust into she made a vow to protect her two younger sisters and herself from ending up with the same fate.  She hardened her heart towards God turned to piracy in order to make and save enough money for them to live on.

What she didn't count on was Dajon Waite coming into her life a second time.  A captain in the British Royal Navy, Dajon was also a Christian man determined to clear the waters of pirates, particularly a red headed beauty that he'd fallen victim to a few years back.

The interaction between Faith, Dajon and her sisters made for a fun read.  The main character is a classicly stubborn female who doesn't take advice from most people.  I truly enjoyed reading about the adventures on the high seas and think that many people love the romance and mystery that surrounded the ships long ago.

The only real "complaint" I have is the cover.  The photo is of a cute as a button young girl and it's a little difficult to believe that by day she is this lovely and by night a captain that could command the respect of her pirate crew.  But once I got past this I found the book to be very enjoyable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Father/Daughter Goofballs

Such a nice picture of Keith and Lynne'.  She had some insurance papers to fill out for work and brought them over for our opinion.  Just so happened that Keith had made a big pot of chili and I had made a cake for dessert.  We also had made plans to watch Kung Fu Panda tonight, so it turned into a nice family evening.  And why must all the children's cartoon movies feature the death of one of the characters???  I will never understand that.  Anyway....
Moments before this idyllic picture it was quite a different place at the house.  These two together get so goofy and I had a hard time getting them to settle down for a picture.  This is how we started out.....
Good times....and my cheeks are still sore from laughing!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brooklyn At The RV Show

Today we had a lot of fun - we went to the rv show!  Even better than that, we stopped and picked up Miss B first so she could go with us.  You might be thinking that rv shows aren't that much fun for an 18 month old, but I'm here to tell you you'd be wrong.  The highlight of every rv we entered seemed to be the bathroom.  I'm not sure why a person still in diapers had to check out every bathroom, but she did.  First thing.  Straight to the bathroom door and she'd usually have to have some help to get it open.  She'd stand there and look, then with a satisfied look on her face she'd shut the door.

And the fun didn't stop there.  I learned today that stomping across an rv floor is tons of fun when you're 18 months old.  It makes a nice hollow sound that makes a girl giggle.

The beds were fun to get on as well.  All the mattresses were covered in a thick plastic, then the comforter thrown over the top.  This meant that when you sit on the bed or walk across it it makes a fabulous crinkle sound.

Most of the really big rv's had tv's on with a cartoon playing.  At one point we were in a half million dollar bus that had Little Mermaid playing and I was half tempted to just sit in the soft leather recliner (that leather was as soft as buttah!) with a B on my lap and just watch the movie!

Not sure how well it shows, but B had a darling little ponytail today.  But it was cold outside and by the time we got inside the convention center and took her hat off we lost some of the cute hair-do.  And then after some wallowing around on rv beds we lost a little more.  But it was cute enough that while walking down one of the many aisles of rv's I overheard a lady on her cell phone telling somebody about the darling little girl with the itty bitty ponytail.

One of her absolute favorite parts of the rv show was the many, many piles of balloons.  When we were ready to leave she had to touch and punch each and every one that we passed.  We even had one of the show officials come up and help point out more balloons!

We had such a good afternoon with her and I'm so glad the kids didn't mind us coming to pick her up.  Really it doesn't matter what we do - when we do it with Miss B we are certain to have a great time!

Very good times.....

"In the beginning it was fun. In the end, it was all for fun. And in between is where it tickles most." - Unknown

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love You Much Cards

As soon as projects using the Love You Much bundle started hitting the interwebs I knew I wanted the set.  There's just something about those whimsical hearts and great paper that really struck my fancy.  This card was one that we made in stamp club a bit ago and I love everything about it (get, especially the pink and brown color combo.
Project #2 also uses the Love You Much bundle and it is just darling.  The glitter on the front is just the right amount of bling.
Open it up and see the Kit Kat valentine candy bar!  The magnets keep the cover closed - a nice touch.
I will admit though that it took me quite a little bit of time to make this so I'm not certain that I could do this as a project for say everybody at work.  Not that they don't deserve it or anything like that, but as slow as I am I'd have to start working in September to be ready for Valentine's Day!  I do love the project though and probably after doing the first couple the speed would pick up. 
I had big plans to make some valentines this evening after dinner.  But K and I went out to eat and had such a beautiful, relaxing time.  We talked and laughed and it was so good.  After we got home I sat on the couch and relaxed myself right into a cat nap!  I came in to straighten up my desk and now I think I'm about ready for bed.
Ah the exciting life of this grandma!  And I wouldn't change it for the world.  :)

Consciousness - that annoying time between naps. - Unknown

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dinner With The Kiddos

I have an entire week of things to catch up on, but first is dinner tonight.  We barely got back to town this afternoon when we decided to meet all the kids for dinner.  Had such a nice time!  On the way in the restaurant I was carrying B and she saw the bank of candy/junk toy machines.  She pointed and said "ball" so of course I took that to mean "please grandmother, I would like to have a ball to play with during dinner" and Keith and I got one for her.  It turned out to be pretty cool too as you can sort of see by the glowing bluish dot on her chest.  It was a weird plasticy thing with lots of "legs" and when she would hit it on the table there were flashing lights inside.  Tons of fun!

When Aunt Lynne' arrived (straight from getting her hair cut and highlighted and it looks so awesome!) Miss B moved into the booth between grandma and grandpa.  At that point the booth seat became an amusement park and she would slide down the back of the booth and sit down over and over (there was nobody behind us, please don't judge).  Anytime you slide on vinyl there is lots of static hair involved and anybody that's read this blog much at all knows how much I get a kick out of her static hair.  I only had my phone camera so wasn't able to get it in all its glory, but you can still tell from the photo above.

I really, really love my kids.  And this baby (almost a toddler - she was 18 months old yesterday!) brings so very much joy to my life.

Be joyful always - 1Thessalonians 5:16

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

After seeing posts from this group all over the blog-world, finally the TWD (Tuesdays With Dorie) group was open to new members to celebrate their one year anniversary.  I'm in!  :)  This group takes a recipe from the book Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan and posts about it each Tuesday.

My theory is that by doing this I will be spreading my wings and learn more about baking.  You really can teach an old dog new tricks!

This week's recipe is Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins.  Keith and I both like hot (read that as spicey) foods and since these muffins have a southwestern flair I knew we'd enjoy them.  The batter contains a bit of chili powder, some chopped jalapeno, chopped red pepper, chopped fresh cilantro and corn.  After mixing the batter I had to take the bowl into the living room and have Keith smell it - it was that good.

These muffins were wonderful with just the right amount of kick to them.  In fact, we both were enamored enough that they will go into our normal rotation now.  And I will admit that I was a little worried serving these to Keith since he's not a fan of any kind of cornbread.  The fact that he liked these tells a lot about how good they are.

And now I have a confession to make - this morning I found the frozen corn package still in the microwave.  I HAD FORGOTTEN TO ADD THE CORN!!!  So...I'm here to tell you that these are fabulous even when you don't follow the recipe exactly!

And these muffins go absolutely perfect sitting alongside a bowl of taco soup.  Dinner was a huge success last night!

Good times....

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Armando Hat

Every so often you work on a project and almost hate to see it end.  That's how I felt about this hat, The Armando Hat (this is a pdf file link) .  Not only is the pattern just gorgeous, but it is knit in Malabrigo yarn.  And there is not another yarn I enjoy knitting with as much as Malabrigo....seriously.
I am totally in love with the top of the hat.  The pattern just entrances me and pulls me right in.  And now that I think about it, does anybody else remember the fun houses at the fair?  Specifically the giant rolling thing that you try to walk through and it had colors that kind of swirled similar to this, only in bright, obnoxious colors.  Luckily Malabrigo does not make bright, obnoxious colors!  The subtle color variations in this yarn are truly dreamy.
This hat was made for my brother-in-law in Minneapolis.  I figure he'll surely get more use out of a hat there than we will here in Dallas!
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. - Psalm 100:2

Friday, January 09, 2009


In Texas, 73 degrees in January is not unheard of.  So when I'm sitting here ready to make a chemo angel card the usual January snowmen did not come to mind.  Instead this little owl card came to life and I think she's just as cute as she can be. 

I bought the printable card at an Etsy shop, Ali Design, and printed the owl a second time.  Stickles were added for some bling....naturally.  And then I found a piece of scrapbook paper to print the envelope template on.  I do believe this set will brighten the recipient's day when she receives it in her mailbox!
Last night was knitting guild and one of the discussions we had was about our guild project, the Great American Aran Afghan (see a photo here and prepare to be amazed).  We all had chosen our block and received our yarn and now it's time to cast on and get started.  The block that I chose isn't showing on that picture, so I finally found a photo here.  Now when I chose this block I did so because it didn't look as hard as the others.  I've since read that this is one of the three hardest blocks, so my enthusiasm has really taken a hit.  I did get an idea from one of the girls last night to buy a skein of yarn like what we're using and to do a practice run.  And one thing about it, this should really help me grow in my knitting experience.  Or as I've heard it put before - what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Good times....

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:16

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Some Ice and Some Fabric

Monday seemed so much like a back to normal routine sort of day to me.  It might have been the 5th of January already, but for me it was the start of the new year.  Holidays over, retreat back to work!
Earlier this week we had a brief ice storm.  The photo is in my backyard and it looks much more impressive than it really was.  We were very fortunate that the streets were fine and in fact we went out and ran some errands when Keith got home from work.  We did see some poor trees that were heavily iced and bent over, but that was about it.
This is what I worked on at retreat last weekend.  I had bought the pattern and fabric for this paper pieced Christmas tree skirt about 3 years ago and pulled it out the first part of November.  Guess I had forgotten how long this takes because I thought I was going to whip it out in time for the tree going up!  After about an hour of sewing I admitted defeat and set it aside.  There really is no sense in adding more stress to the season.  But since our retreat was so close after Christmas I was still feeling it and brought this along.  There are 8 Christmas tree panels and each panel has 3 sections (the star isn't on this one).  I managed to finish 5 panels during retreat!  Of course it still just sits in the sewing room waiting for me to work on it, but that will come.
I love this photo of the raggedy sorority that was formed during retreat!  These dolls were made by two different girlfriends and I think there might even have been more by the end of the weekend.  Aren't they darling?
"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on earth." - Genesis 9:16

Friday, January 02, 2009

Vanilla Retreat Cupcakes

I still haven't decided on what my 2009 Bible verse will be, but I know that one thing I want to do more of is sharing my hobbies with friends and family.  So on that note I present to you the Vanilla Retreat Cupcakes, so named because I will be leaving shortly to join some friends at a weekend retreat!
I used a vanilla cupcake recipe I found here and haven't had the opportunity to try before now and a standard vanilla buttercream frosting.  Hopefully I'll get some honest feedback from my friends so I know whether the recipe is a keeper or not.  Course, I did set two aside so that Keith could have a few.
And this is the cupcake carrier that James and Loni got me for Christmas.  The retreat cupcakes made 24...and can you see the two unfilled holes for the cupcakes I set aside for Keith?  The carrier has another layer so it will hold up to 36 cupcakes.  This is about the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.
It's not often that a golden retriever can look like a shar pei, but this tired old dog was worn out on New Year's Eve.  We went to bed at 10:30 (I'm sure y'all have surmised by this blog what party animals we are and now you can verify it!), but apparently that was too late for some dogs.  He fell asleep under the lights of the Christmas tree and I think he was happy as a clam over it.
"When just being together is more important than what you do, you are with a friend." - Unknown

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 1st Day of 2009

What a wonderful way to start the year.  Lynne' invited us to her house tonight for dinner and as always I'm so impressed with what a good cook she is.  We had ribs and seasoned fries that were so good!  After dinner we played some Uno and lots of talking.  Such a nice way to spend the evening.  And you know they say that whatever you do on New Year's Day you'll be doing all year long.  I hope she does a lot of grocery shopping......     ;)
Good times.....