Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year

The only Horse I own--is this little Swedish one from my first visit to Stockholm.  I think there might be something auspicious about a wooden red horse.  I know that this will be a good year for red wood fire (chicken) dogs.  Me.  And G.   Good for relationships, career, money (long term) and love.  There will be unlucky challenges to overcome--but, hey! that's life.

G and I are going out to have dumplings to celebrate.  I think long noodles are lucky as well.

Tomorrow I start a new journal.  I am adding things (mostly recipes) to the final pages of the journal I have been using for the past two years.  They fill up slower now that I have the blog.  But there are always things I can't or shouldn't reveal on the blog.  So, still things to write.

Yesterday my daughter came by to have her hair done.  We had quite a long chat, she took home a pair of boots I hadn't worn and two sweaters.  Then G and I settled in to watch 3 episodes of Fringe from the first season.  I am getting the hang of the "new" Netflix.  G and are are kicking ourselves that when we purchased Netflix (this is not something we do as a rule, buying video entertainment) we should have also purchased Netflix stock.  We buy stock in what we use, keep it if the product is great and sell if we have complaints.  The stock has tripled.  Lost opportunity.

G and I had our first experience of "binge" episode watching when we ordered the free trial month of Netflix last winter (January).  We watched four episodes of "Life" with Damien Lewis and paused--- so we could run into the kitchen and get something to eat!!!!--- than back to it to watch three more episodes.  We wanted to watch them all before the free month was up---as we had no intention of keeping the service.  But we kept it.  And we'll be watching this weekend, since we have no interest in the Super Bowl.  TiVo will record all the new shows during our "binge" so we won't miss anything.  It's all good.

This morning, I was trying to remember what I had done yesterday.   I am at a loss.  Can't remember doing anything other than folding some laundry.  So, today, I am going to try and do something.  I'll let you know if I remember what it is tomorrow.

Oh, I remember.  The hour or more on the phone with Unemployment.  Today-- I'm reading my book.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Which Way?

These Winter furloughs give me too much time for thinking.  Usually, I am running off to work, trying to clean house, wash clothes (for two people we certainly use a lot of clothing), make food and watch some television.  No time for deep thoughts.

Today, while trying to find out why I have not gotten one single check from unemployment--which meant being on hold for one entire hour-- only to find out the Retail job has one more black mark in my book.  And I have two more weeks to wait before getting anything as we are waiting for Retail to respond.  The guy said "this is not a need based system".  I'm not waiting to buy food or heat.  Others are.  Not "need based" ???  Get a clue.

And on the Job Search which is part of unemployment.  Actually, there are very, very few jobs to even apply for.  None in my field.  This is troubling.  The only job market that is growing is being a Personal Care Attendant (PAC) for the elderly.  Maine is the oldest (population age-wise) in the nation.  Wake up America.  There aren't enough people out there who want to change your diapers for minimum wage.

Vegan Cooking.  The comments on one blog were really rude and mean.  If you don't agree--just STOP reading.  I don't understand the rudeness in the comments.  Yes, it is better (imho) to eat real foods and not synthetic ones.  But I see no reason to not allow you to do as you see fit.  I don't want anyone telling me what to eat.

Stealing.  From others.  Like using their ideas to move your own work forward. Which I think is very wrong. I find this a difficult thing to understand.  If I have artistic "secrets" why share them on a blog.  Keep them secret.  If you share, I don't know it's a secret.  I might just try it out for myself and even find I can't do it as well as you do.  And, actually, how many secrets are there for sewing one fabric to another???  Or in creating a soup from simple ingredients? No one has accused me of anything.  But there are posts today that suggest this has happened to others.

Those Tide Laundry Pods.  I have to add regular detergent and then add the Pod.  Why can't the Pod already have detergent in it?  Why does it say Tide if it isn't Tide?  What is it?

Netflix.  We pay for the service.  We don't always use it.  Then yesterday, I used it.  And Netflix said we didn't have service but we could sign up for free.  And it is now VERY difficult to use.  Let's just say I am not all that happy with the "new" premium Netflix.  I WAS happy to watch three episodes from the first season of Fringe.  I'm not looking forward to trying to get back in to watch more.  G discovered he can watch Netflix on his iPad while watching it on the television.  I guess I could have gotten it running on the computer, also.  All the screens within five feet of each other. But not in the same place in the episode.

The pot roast turned out great.  Thanks for asking.  A friend suggested cooking my next pot roast in marinara sauce and eating over pasta.  OMG.  Can't wait for the next pot roast sale.  She suggested it so it's not stealing.  I thought the meat might be good in a tortilla with salsa and sour cream as well.  Or on nachos.  Or thrown in the pot with vegetables-- soup.  Not just a pot roast anymore!!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Oven Will Be In Use Most Of Today

1.  Baked Squash.  The sun is shining and it "seems" warmer but it isn't.  I have already baked the butternut/kabocho squash.  It has a dry flaky texture.  I like it. Even eating it warmed up with butter and cinnamon for a hot breakfast.

2.  Baked Tofu.  My walking partner shared her tofu cooking method.  She eats this nearly every day.  Sliced extra firm tofu.  On a rack.  In the oven.  Baked until dry and chewy but not blackened.  No pressing until dry. No marinade.  Turn it over at any point if that's what you want to do.  She eats it any manner that one would eat "chicken" though I am not sure she ever has.  She mentioned in a sandwich with lettuce and mustard.  My walking friend is not all that interested in cooking.  So roasting tofu with a pan of chopped up root vegetables is more than enough cooking for one week for her.  Not me.

 Intermission:  I moved my bathroom scale around the bathroom and discovered I could weight a good number of differing amounts.  The difference being 3 to 4 pounds depending on where the scale was placed. I have time to find these things out while the oven is doing it's thing.

3.   Pot Roast.  I have two nice chunks that I got on sale.  They need to be "used or frozen" today.  I don't have any room in the freezer, as it is full of bags of frozen fruit from the garden this summer.  Peaches, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  So--it's pot roast today. Browned.  Sprinkled with Lipton Onion Soup Mix.  Cooked until falling apart.  Served with mashed potatoes.  Gravy. Cole Slaw.  I'll pretend it's my birthday.

4.   Kale/Onion/Cheese Frittata.  I intend to use the very lovely kale I bought yesterday to make a large oven frittata.  Then I can cut it into wedges and eat it for breakfast or lunch with a salad.  I tried eating frittata without kale and I just don't like it.  Usually, I make this on the stovetop and do a terrible job of turning it to brown the uncooked side.  I think the oven method will be better.  I could even try using the broiler.  20 years and it's never been used.  Excitement.

5.   Half Baked Idea.  While the oven is baking/roasting things:  I am going "off road" with the Easy Project That Has Become The Difficult Project.  I am going to make a circle.  No more boring straight lines.

Finale:  I purchased two small squares of carrot cake for G yesterday.  With cream cheese frosting and a very fat frosting carrot on top of each cake square.  The amazing thing--I didn't drop, roll or kick the little cakes and squish the fat little frosting carrots--like I always do.  G is very pleased.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Progress Report On The Hard/Easy Project

You can see some measurable progress in neatness.  No lumps or bumps.  The process is not creating any "noticeable" happiness (for me).  Or relaxation (my shoulders and neck are getting very tight).  And, most of all, I can now say, with confidence, that I am not a person who enjoys doing work that has no purpose. Especially, if I do it badly (even though it is less badly than it was at the start).

This will never "be" anything.  It won't be art.  It won't be something anyone could use. It's never going to look nice. It would be an example of something "not to bother doing".

It's a struggle (for me) for the entire skein of floss.  A fight.  A brawl.  A desperate attempt to flatten the bunched up red part.  Which leads to further bunching.  To do this for a month.  No.  To do this for a year?  One straitjacket please.

I relaxed my tense sewing nerves for two days by stitching quilting lines onto two placemats that were falling apart.  I had done a minimal job of quilting them when I made them.  It wasn't enough.  I only had trouble with the bobbin once and had to rethread the machine twice.  So it was a brilliantly successful sewing machine experience.

 I did notice, while in the bobbin area, that the underside of the machine needs a good cleaning.  But first I have to find the instruction booklet.  When things come apart down there --they don't always go back together.  Bernina does that to discourage do it yourself cleaning, I think.


I need to re-think the daily sewing on the hard/easy project.

I also need a very hard slap in the head.  I went to the Rec Center and walked for 70 minutes and then purchased a box of blueberry scones and ate two.  What WAS I thinking???? (I was hungry)  And I had been doing so good regarding not eating things I should not be eating.  And, adding insult, the scones are terrible.  The remainder of the box is going into the compost bucket.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday-- Now What?

Here's the view.  Warm colors and greenery inside, cold freezing white outside.  The furnace keeps going and the oil guy keeps leaving me bills.  We aren't exactly warm here, in the house.  The only time I actually am warm is in the shower.

Seeing 11:11 on the clocks more often than usual, again.  Taking the moment to reflect on my life.  Ask myself what I am doing, why and what do I want.

Had a vague thought about a Nicholas Cage movie last week--couldn't remember the title.  Last night, going through the channels looking for something to watch-- there it was, Family Man, and it had just started.  I had never seen the beginning.  It was soft, lovely and just the thing.  I watched and G played games on his iPad.

Today is the third week I have filed for unemployment and I haven't gotten a check yet.  The little note on my file says they are investigating my claim.  I am perplexed and saddened by this.  I think this is a battle I will let my employer fight.

Today is day four in the new diet.  I am not going to say much about this topic in the blog.  I just wanted to say that re-entry has been a bit bumpy, but I think, last night, I made the transition.  I am wading in slowly.  Not expecting too much.  Forgiving my mistakes.  My friend from the road trip called yesterday to say she had joined Weight Watchers.  She mentioned her shopping trip to get fat free this and low fat that.  I tried to be as supportive as I could be.  I know WW works-- It just isn't real food.  And it's $12 a week.  We'll see.

G and Riley are back from their walk.  I have things to do on my list, so I'll get started.  Be Warm!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Sticker" Dishes aka Petite Fleur

Here it is.  Feminine.  Sweet.  With that tiny, thin band of red on the edges.  The plate shape is exactly the same as the Manoir  which I have used relentlessly, for years.  It's plain.  No color on Manoir except for the base color of bone.  Perhaps I thought they would play well together?

Here is today's breakfast.  I can't even tell you how happy this made me.  The Apricot Preserves, Butter and Brotchen (though this is not brotchen, but rather a more French baguette type roll).  The  very breakfast I had each and every morning in Germany.  And on my pretty flowered plate.  I usually read the International Herald Tribune as I worked my way through breakfast.  The placemat is one that I made using my very own painted fabric mixed with commercial dots.

I pulled a foil wrapped frozen roll out of the freezer, unwrapped and popped it into the oven for 30 minutes.  It was perfectly warm and crusty.  Sigh.

My cooking mojo must be working.  The Ziti I threw together was amazing--helped along by the timer not going off.  So, it got way too brown on top.  That was the best part.  The brownies were very good.  They too experience a longer baking time.  My little red timer may need to be retired.
Today we are going to the grocery.  I want things for salad.  I am craving the tang of vinegar with my dinner.  And, it's the last few days to get a pot roast on sale.  And a second one for chili.

I have started a new diet journal.  It's time.  I'm not giving anything up this time.  I am returning to 1200 calories of anything I want.  It worked before.  And this time around, I am much smarter.  I know the joys of a big salad with a side of protein, broth with stir fry vegetables and a few rice noodles and soup, chili and other lovely things in a bowl.

I also know I must walk for an hour each and every day.  Walk.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Out With The Old Dishes

The Apple pattern dishes are now tucked away in the cupboard.  I will miss their cheerful colors. We had our first meal on the Petite Fleur (aka Sticker Dishes) and it was rather startling to see them used. I prefer to have the part of the plate where the food is to be pattern free.

This is the French bistro inspired flatware.  The items pictured are the tiny demitasse spoons.  Perfect for stirring tiny cups of coffee or eating tiny desserts (or yogurts).  I have three sizes of spoons. Demi, teaspoon and tablespoon.  My new Chef catalog is offering me a fourth size--- the round soup spoon.  In black.  I am tempted.  Sort of.  It is evident that we used some of these pieces at some point since 1981.  The knife handles aren't shiny black.  So, I am left to wonder if buying another 8 spoons is a "smart" idea.  They are very sweet looking.  And would be fun to have for French onion soup.  Which G says I do a good job making--and really should be making it again, real soon.  There was nothing, in those letters about getting old, regarding finding our treasures and adding to them.  I noticed a few missing sizes of plates in the sticker dish inventory, but do like the rice bowls.  Didn't buy them in any other pattern (so far) :-)

Tonight it's baked ziti.  And I made brownies.  G is happy.

It's Really cold again.  Coldest winter in 10 to 12 years here in Maine and I know "people" who think we live really close to the North Pole up here.  So.  That's pretty cold.  I'm just saying.....  Riley even turned back on the walk today.  He'd had enough.

I am three days behind on my "daily project" so have some work to do to catch up.  I tidied up the table and----- out of sight out of mind.   I was working on it when it was there right in front of my nose on the table.  In a big heap.  Now it's in a bag.  On my television viewing seat.  Can't miss it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Choosing To Use It All Up

Today's post is brought to you by two writers who are discussing growing old in letters they are sending to each other but are on line for us to read.

Margaret and Katrina.   59 and 55.  Growing older and facing the writing of wills and the prospect of having less (time, money, health) in the years to come.  They also write about what they have learned from their grandparents, aunts and uncles  etc.

You can start here  letters and read the the post and all the replies yourself.  The link in Katrina's letter will lead you to Margaret's reply.

I laughed regarding the "pretty" underwear in the drawers while wearing the ratty stuff (I don't have any pretty stuff).  I, too, have a drawer full of delightful perfume.  I imagine it has gone bad by now.

You know (from reading) that I DO use the "good stuff"--- the linen shirts, the linen sheets, the cashmere sweaters (worn even while baking and cooking). But the good silver is wrapped tight in the drawer.  Part of my not using it is the cleaning and polishing but I am always reminded of my German friend.  Her silver was in the drawer, used everyday and it was polished once a year or before the holidays.  She even washed it in the dishwasher.  The only rule:  only silver in the dishwasher container.  Mixing leads to staining.

After reading the letters:  I am moving the Franciscan Apple dishes to storage and bringing out and using (for the first time in nearly 30 years) the Villeroy& Boch Petite Fleur dishes.  And, I think, moving the regular flatware to the hall drawer and the flatware with the black handles to the kitchen drawer. I bought that in 1981 (Copenhagen) and have hardly ever used it.

The good glasses are in regular usage (and regularly broken).  The napkins are damask or linen.  In use. And they have the stains to prove it.

I think it's time to bring out the crystal vases and fill them with flowers.

While I'm feeling so frisky--I should get started on the dish transfer.  Those stacks of plates, etc are heavy and there are so many of them. In my dreams:  I saw a larger family sitting down together and more dinner parties.  Life doesn't always turn out the way we imagined it would.

 It's single digits with a brisk wind outside--so no walk with Riley.  He and G were sent out to do errands.  The dog thinks a ride in the car is lots of fun.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sick Day

I don't know why--but when there is a certain type of weather pattern, my head hurts.  Atmospheric pressure.

My forehead started aching last evening.  And all night.  And this morning.  Light hurts my eyes.  My tummy is queasy.  It's hard to focus my eyes.  Not a migraine.  Thank goodness. Hopefully, not a stroke either.

I'm going to take a shower and put on clothes and see if I feel better.  If not, I am taking another nap.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Road Trip

My friend P, while visiting family in New Hampshire for a birthday, stopped at the Maine Crate&Barrel outlet and purchased a new couch and chair.   This was on Sunday.  She called me when she got home and asked if I wanted to go "with" when she rented a U Haul and returned to C&B to pick up the couch and chair.

G said I should go.  A little "fun".  A "road trip".

At 10:30 this morning we set out from home.  P had rented a cargo van (not the truck pictured) and she was given the 2 minute tutorial on how the van was to be driven when we got to the dealership.  And off we went.

I was pretty nervous.  P had never driven a van or anything else as big as the van.

90 minutes later we arrived at C&B.  Two guys loaded the furniture in the van--I was very happy to see both pieces were wrapped in heavy plastic for protection.  Then, because we were there ------ we went inside and did some looking and shopping.

I needed replacement lids for two kinds of storage containers--one being the French Working Glasses that I love using for jello.  I got six extra lids as the lids seem to disappear.  Two shower liners.  When we lived in Chicago I bought a new liner every year.  When we moved I bought two extra.  Over the years I have tried buying them whenever I am anywhere near C&B (and am not always lucky enough to find any).  Been awhile.  Needed new liners!!!

I also bought some Calendula Linen Napkins.  Linen.  Orange. On Sale. And four more with black circles drawn on a white cotton background.  Three classic black frames for family photos.  Measuring cups.  A nice red apron.

Then we drove back home.  90 minutes.  We stopped to eat a light lunch.  G was waiting for us in the driveway of P's home and the three of us got the new stuff into the house.  Loaded the old couch from Aunt M into the van (for a quick trip to Goodwill).

 Now P was pretty nervous about the couch fitting thru her doorway.

G and I have been moving furniture for 45 years.  No problems.

I was happy that I had gone along with P.  She needed support.  We had a good time.  And now she has a very nice new couch and chair in her little house.  A day well spent.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Can't Winter Snow Always BeThis Nice?

The trees are flocked with white snow.  No wind.  No rain.  No ice.  This is when I like winter.  The sun isn't shining but that's good--as the snow will take longer to melt.

Today I have to mend the linen fitted sheet on my bed.  It has a tear in it.  It's the "new" thinner (cheaper) linen I should NOT have purchased.  Better for blouses or hankies.  Not sheets.  I will be using an old hankie (or two) for the patch to mend it.  And hand stitch the patch.  I tried using the sewing machine on another sheet and the result is too bumpy/lumpy.  It's in a corner.  So, the new patch can live, in future, under the pillows or by my feet.  A very sweet embroidered hankie would be nice.

I have done some laundry.  Am considering doing some vacuuming. Have a bit of book to finish reading.  Defrosted a Whole Foods Olive roll to have with my second cup of coffee.  Thinking about what to make for supper.  Sunday.  A rather nothing day.  I can see why I always enjoyed being able to go to work on Sunday.

Oh, and I have my skein of floss to work on.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Still Working On the Hard Project

But here is some of Judy's work on her blog  where you can see more of her work and an example of what I am trying to do.

The above work is something I would eventually like to do with the couching.  Make flowers, stems and leaves.  But I have a LONG way to go before that happens.

In the meantime, I have a whole skein of floss worth of difficult work each day--and time to contemplate my day, my work, and my future.  Therapy of a sort.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rough Start To An Easy Project

I have seen this couching with blanket stitch on Judy's Journal, a blog I read.  She has made one of these that is three years long and now a second that will only cover one year.  365 skeins of thread.  She couches any scrap fabric she has--and she must have quite a bit--sewing until the one skein of floss is used up.  It's a daily practice.  Takes her roughly 40 minutes.

I searched her blog (under couching) and finally found some of the first posts regarding this daily sewing project.  The materials listed were artist canvas,  skeins of embroidery floss and surplus fabric.  I went in search of these items.  I had gotten some floss at Goodwill but I also had a few skeins in the workroom.  It took awhile but I found some artist canvas.  In very odd shapes.  Hers are 15 by 27 inches. What the devil had I made using artist's canvas???  And I looked out in the garage for the bag of velvet scraps.  Found them.  I got started.

 I have been working on this mess for quite a long time now.   It keeps tightening up.  And I have had to cut thread and resew the end bits.  I was worried (snort) that the stitches would be too regular and boring.   It is anything BUT.

I mean--it's just couching fabric with the blanket stitch.  I find I need to tie the thread off every four or five stitches to keep it from gathering up.  Puckering the background.  Hers are smooth and flat. I have to get my blanket stitch to loosen up.

What I have found--I am woefully out of practice with handwork.  I feel clumsy and stupid.  Sigh.  But I will be patient and see if things are better tomorrow.  And the next day.  I'm not "making" anything.  I am just using up a skein of floss each day till I reach the end of the canvas.  I should be much better at this by then.

It's always interesting to find that something you thought was going to be "too easy" turns out to be a struggle.  It was that way with the retail job.  It was a real struggle to learn all the cash register stuff.  But it felt good when I "got it".  Finally.  This will be the same.

I saw my 1st grade report cards.  It took me forever to figure out reading.  Look,  See Joanne Read.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Here are the six little drawings I made.  Not dated.  So last winter or the one before.  I am thinking the one before (2012).  That would be the last time I remember visiting the art supply store.  Buying all sorts of pens.  Brush tip.  You can see where I started getting interested in newspaper collage.  These are pages from an old dictionary.  I found the "model" for these--in the workroom.  All dry and desiccated.   I must have put it away (!!!) with the art supplies when I cleaned off the dining room table.

I found a blog about cleaning off the dining room table--aka "the dumping ground".  It seems I must look at what's on the table,  assess (figure out) why it's not in it's proper place and then make sure "the proper place" is made accessible.  In the article this entailed "shopping" for containers for said items.

In my case--it means walking to the place the items belong as they all have a proper container.  But a nice basket for gloves, scarves and hats wouldn't be amiss.  And more hangers in the hall closets.  This is the major reason things aren't being hung up there.  A mud room by the backdoor?  Now that's where all the boots, coats, gloves etc should be left upon entering the house.  But it's COLD back there.  Meaning all our nice warm things would be freezing cold when we put them on.  Not good. It takes a long time to warm up freezing cold boots and coats.

We had sunshine yesterday and it was very nice.  Not today.  I have on a thermal shirt and a wool sweater but I am still cold.  So, I need another layer.  Another sweater.

G has been "teaching" his new Siri iPhone to talk to him.  It's very funny.  Today, while putting on his boots (for Riley's walk) he pocket dialed her.  The resulting conversation was amusing.  Until she produced my dad's obituary including his picture.  Why?  Is he sending us a message?  I am totally creeped out by that.

I have a load of wash to fold and put away.  The bed to make.  Dishes to put away.  The dining room table clutter to analyze.  I have about 5 pages left in my book  "A conspiracy of faith" by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  This is the third of his books.  They move slowly, the prime character isn't likable.  He is slowly (way too slow) gathering his little band of problem solvers.  Assad, Rose, Hardy.  But the stories are interesting and they come to a very nail biting end--eventually.  Department Q.  Cold cases.  If I am correct, there is a fourth out there.  I just have to find it.

The pile of winter reading is getting taller each day.  Three for each of us.

Oh, in case you wondered.  I did bake the ham and make the other dishes.  The beans took longer than expected to soften but they gave up finally.  So lots of food in the fridge for meals this week. I plan to freeze most of the beans but use some to finish off the brown rice I made last week.  I like a good bowl of beans and rice.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What It Might Look Like

I selected this photo awhile back but lost it in the file of 663 items.  Shaker.  I even like the gray green paint.  And I have always been fond of the open shelving on the left side.  I even like all the white dishes on the shelving.  Guess what?  I have most of the stuff on these shelves.

Today I have a pot of red chili beans on the stove cooking with a quartered onion, garlic cloves and 7 cups of water.  They soaked overnight but are taking their sweet time getting soft.  Smells good.  I never know exactly how old (and dry) the beans are.  These beans came from the Natural Food store in Town.  But when?  I also looked up a recipe for chili gravy to serve with cheese enchiladas.  And a recipe for making my own chili powder.

The carpenter was here.  Picking up some of his tools and seeing what we were doing regarding ordering things (not much).  He actually thinks we would be better off buying a new house.  A smaller more energy efficient house.  Which is what I think, also, and have for about 10 years now.
 G does not.

I promised G I would make something for dinner today.  The long anticipated baked ham.   A nice pan of au gratin potatoes and even a green bean casserole.   Apple sauce?  I haven't cooked anything besides a very quick (but delicious) cherry tomato pasta sauce, twice, in the past 2 weeks.  G has made a few simple flatbread pizzas, some nachos and gotten take out.  He's also eaten sandwiches and the pot of chicken soup I made.  I think he deserves a cook meal and some leftovers to work with in the next few days.

I'm off to the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's Raining Here in Maine and 40 degrees

This blue door cheered me up this morning.  Saw it on another blog and thought of my friend P.  I can see this as her shed with the chickens and the goose out back instead of wood.  But she does need a covered spot for the wood.

I wonder, after visiting her,  if I would be as good at living alone.  No one else to blow the snow off the driveway,  check the propane tank,  do the endless number of things involved with chickens and the goose and the two dogs and the cat.  No one else to step up if bills need paying.  My daughter is also dancing to this tune.  But we are nearby and willing to help.

My lunch with my neighbor was a delight.  Noon to 4 pm.  That's an indication of a delightfully long conversation.  I am never happy with a rushed one hour lunch date.  It's better than no lunch date, but I really love to just have a chat.  You know that, don't you?

Today I got my haircut.  Chat with hairdresser.  Chat with receptionist.  Dash across the street to my greenhouse for a chat with employee/friends.  Then back home.  Feeling happy.

I pasted my retail job schedule (which I had posted on a kitchen cabinet door for G) into my journal.  Only about a dozen pages left in this book.  I also copied about 10 recipes off the Food52 site into the journal.  It seems that I begin new journals with the Chinese New Year.  So, I am right on schedule-- but this book has taken 2 years to fill.  This means I have been too busy to do much writing.  I have also not been using the journal to record my daily food intake.

As I page through this journal, I see lots of fashion ideas, pictures of kitchens and gardens, recipes and not so many drawings.  There is the famously unfinished Doodle.  Which spawned the Christmas Doodle Trees.  I also found, tucked into the pages, a set of five renditions of a pomegranate.  In pen, brush pen, pencil, colored ink and collage of drawing and newsprint.  I think they are each 6 inches square.  Really nice.  I should have them matted and framed.

That's the thing I love the most about these journals.  Looking through them--there is always a moment of surprise.  Did I do that?  Did I write that?  Did I save that?  I have found recipes, poems and phone numbers.  Long thought lost.  But, not.  Saved in the pages.  I comfort myself in knowing that if I am ever old, sick and alone someday--I have the journals which predate the blog by about 6 years.  To read, to remember.

And you know what?  if this blog survives, I will also have it.   This is the 10th year that I have been writing here.  Amazing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Sun-Day and the Rain Has Stopped, For The Moment

I don't have the house lights on today in the new "kitchen" and we enjoyed reading the sunday paper with sun.  Here's a cactus in flower.  I think this is one that I potted up using broken bits off a customer's plant.   Or bits off a store plant that broke in transit.  It's a very pretty peachy pink.  And, as usual, I like it best in bud.    This saucer holds three little 3 inch pots of cactus.

Yesterday it rained.  And rained. And then rained some more.  While the above ground temps were in the 40's the ground was in the deep freeze.  So, for most of the morning--the surfaces were ice.  When G and I left, to drive to P's for dinner, the "snow fog" was pretty.  On the ride home, in the dark, the snow fog was dangerous.

This morning we woke to brilliant light.  The SUN.  And out in the yard, the snowblower trails that G carves out, are now green grass.  Frozen, but green.  The paths you see here--lead 1. to the birdbath and 2. to the bird feeders  and 3. past the feeders and around the vegetable garden and then left and down to the shed and compost bins and back to the house.

Riley uses the paths.  When the snow gets a hard thick top layer--it's dangerous for a running dog.  Could break his leg.  It's also dangerous for 67 year old men.  Me?  I don't go out there at all.

Before and after our dinner with P, G and P walked around looking at the many things a single gal needs help with.  Loose chair seats, a mirror that needs hanging, shelving.  They would yell for me when it they needed an "opinion".  I always have those handy.

My opinion on the larger mirror in the bathroom?  Honestly, how much of yourself do you really want to see?

On closet space?  The "three bag" method of sorting.  Keep.  Get Rid Of.  Don't Know.  After 30 days, sort the Don't Know bag again.  I also mentioned my method of taking all the summer (warm weather) clothing and washing, drying and folding it into a large container and then storing it in the nether regions of the closet.  Doesn't need to be taking up closet space on hangers.

I also recommend folding sweaters, pants (the casual type) and stacking them on shelving.  P had cubbies that were the perfect size but they were filled with a mix of non clothing items.  I, you know this, sort by size and season, in my closet.   The shirts in my closet are a mixture of sizes and season and I need to weed my way through.  Too many items from the employee store.  Twenty cent pants and $4 linen shirts are like crack for me.  I just can't stop myself.  Anyway, I need to move the short sleeved linen shirts to a container.

We had a nice mixed salad, a tomato based vegetable soup, bread and sour cream chocolate cake yesterday.   Oh, and very nice gin and tonic "cocktails" using a new brand of gin that P has found in the local grocery.   A very large bottle for $19.  It was very smooth.  It was a delightful visit.

Then we watched the rain soaked Patriots do their version of the Chicago Bears.  A running game.  G got very nervous in the last quarter but I knew they were going to win, even though I read my mystery and only looked up occasionally.  The games leading up to the Superbowl are always the best games to watch.

Later today---  the neighborhood meet and greet with the new neighbors.  He's a major real estate agent.  Good news to have him on the street.  I hope.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter--When I Dream of New Beginnings

I saw this image on another blog and it says it all.  Simplicity.  Seeds.  Spring.  While I wait for Winter to do it's work.   And that work is decomposition in the soil and compost piles.

Today we are having rain.  Which is making everything turn to ice because, while the air is warmish, the ground is very cold, covered in snow.  I would prefer Winter to chose one.  Snow or rain.  Not alternate between the two.

My Amaryllis bulbs have decided to make only leaves this year.  Not one flower bud on any of the dozen plants.  I am disappointed as the bulbs are large, had many leaves over the summer and I expected a few flowers to cheer me up in January and February.

One of the citrus trees decided to drop all it's leaves.  It's bare branches have now been pruned back and we are waiting to see if it leafs out.  Again.   The others --well, no one is dropping leaves at the moment--but who knows.  They may have gotten a bit too cold out on the sunporch during the "big deep freeze" that was December.

Nothing much is going on here today.  G is napping.  The dog is sighing.  He wants a walk--never mind the weather and his lunch.  I got up late.  Next on my agenda is a shower.  Finish reading my book.  Do a bit of cleaning.  Perhaps change out the dishes.  Put Apple away and bring out Petite Fleur (which has never been used except for coffee and cake in the 1980's in Germany).

Riley wants lunch.  Got to go.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dog Paws Jumping Off The Deck

It's snowing again.  Seemed warmer yesterday and colder today.  I feel warmer, in the house, with a scarf wrapped around my neck.  The peachy pink one my daughter gave me for Christmas--to "put color" in my cheeks.   Reflected color.  And it's warm.

My paperwork packet arrived (on Wednesday) from the state unemployment office.  I have my work Search Diary and my Blue Book of rules.  Ready to go.  My seasonal furlough lasts around 10 to 12 weeks.  It could be shorter this season.

Took the few ornaments I had off the tree and almost all the lights.  I'm leaving that last few feet up around the top for G to handle.  He's better on the step ladder than I am.  I step "off" into space--forgetting I'm on a ladder.  Been doing that since I was 16.  Terrible habit.

One of the neighbors is having a "welcome party" for the newest residents of our street.  (this is a first) We're all invited on Sunday from 3 to 5.  G and I are the most senior residents (in length of time here on the street).  Everyone else is new (to us).  We see them come and go.  The fascinating thing about this little "get together" is that there are people on the street who don't like each other.  I will be going to see how it shakes out.

Tomorrow we are going to my gardener friend P's house.  We'll be having cocktails.  So, far, January 2014 is turning out to be quite the social whirl.  I'm feeling dizzy.

And, Gemma, I have lightly boiled (35 minutes from a cold start) the beef marrow bones I give Riley since he was a pup.  Six years.  He still has a few of the original bones and enjoys gnawing on them (his teeth are incredibly clean).  The bones don't splinter because I buy the thickest ones I can find.  I boil only until I can remove the marrow and cut away any "ick" and tendons on the outside surface of the bones.  I did buy thin ones one time and he cracked them in half and I immediately took them away from him. He chews the new bones for hours, days, weeks, months.  We check them.  And if any look thin, we toss them.

The raw bones give dogs the "runs" and smell up the house.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Domestic Bliss For The Dog

Yes.  The entire living room.  Dog World.  This is what happens when the house is too large and the dog is so adorable.  Notice the TWO baskets of toys to the far left?  This is a tidy picture.  Usually the entire carpet is covered in toys and beef bones.  I noticed Spot was looking at me last night.  Riley was in the kitchen up against the radiator.

Yesterday I met a friend and we walked around the Rec Center track for a little more than an hour.  Around and around.  I think my daughter mentioned 36 laps equals 4 miles.  We may have done 3 miles.  It's dry, its warm and there is a water fountain and toilets.  This was "left behind" when the government closed the navy base in our little Town---along with the runway, new traffic control tower etc.  747's can land on that runway--it's that long.  Those giant C-5's were the usual.  Carrying tanks and helicopters to war zones.  This was my first visit to the base in 20 plus years of living here.

My friend walks the hour on the track--while reading a book.  Waiting for the ice to melt off the city street.  She walks. Everyday.  Last year she slipped and fell and now is more cautious.

G and stopped in Freeport to buy another bag of the delicious artisan rolls.  They are so GOOD.  Crunchy, chewy crust and a moist, yeasty interior.  Like a fat, short baguette.  G also purchased Frosty's donuts.  Sigh.  A raspberry filled one for me.

Today--making a pot of rice in the slow cooker to be eaten with the black eyed peas.  Boiling the two new bones for Riley.  Eating the last portion of lentil soup if it's still safe to eat.  Sewing hems into more 20 cent pants.  I will be threading the machine with appropriate colored thread and using the open arm.  Swearing like a sailor.  While I enjoy sewing--I do not enjoy the mechanics of the sewing machine.  I would do the hems by hand--but they are 20 cent pants.  Not deserving of hand sewn hems.  And I want them all DONE as quickly as possible.  Today the size 20's and possibly the size 18's as well.  If things go well--- I could even do the 16's.   There were no size 14 20 cent pants to be found.  But that might be far too optimistic in the weight department.

 My "test pants" are 14's.  And  if I get close, I usually can only count on fitting into them during the summer months.  When I am busy in the perennial yard and in my own garden at home. And they are corduroy.  So, not going to be wearing them.

I have four piles of pants in the closet now.  Feels like "money in the bank".

Now, the electric rice cooker.  I'll be attempting Brown Rice today.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Errand Running Day

We had checks to deposit at the bank.  Library Books to return.  Bills to drop off at the post office. Pants to return to Freeport.  Lunch (French onion soup).  Then Petco for dog food (and Riley had to sniff the hamster display and the parakeet display).  Then Target for a desk top calendar (that I write on all the time while on the internet--it's right under my keyboard).

G used to work at Target and is fondly remembered by people still working there. So he had to "catch up" on the gossip.  G doesn't really remember most of the people but he's kind and polite and listens with "interest".   I used my credit card to pay and now I regret doing that. Dumb move.

To make myself feel better (???) I ordered a peppermint mocha.  Decaf, no milk (cream instead), sugar free.  The $4 size.  I brought it home and mixed it half and half with regular decaf.  Finishing the second very large cup as I type.  Delish!.

The question I am asking myself right now is---how many pairs of winter boots is too many?  I brought home another pair today.  They may be my second favorites. I have heard others ask "do I really need another jacket?  Down coat?".   With me, it's slippers, fleece pullovers, thermal tees and winter boots.  Enough to supply me for the rest of my life.  Sigh.

I looked for Valentine photo card holders.  I thought I would make and send Valentines.  None.  Then I looked for card stock.  The smooth heavy kind.  None.  So I guess, tomorrow, I will visit Staples and see what they have.   I can also cut photo holes in card stock, myself?

Tomorrow I am walking the Rec Department track with my friend.  One hour.  Then we might have a coffee.  We haven't seen each other since I started having two jobs in late September.  Lots of news to catch up on.

Watched Downton Abbey on Sunday.  Bored.  The writer of the show--Mr. Fellowes mentioned in an interview that there are only 7  possible story variations.  He doesn't know how long that will interest the viewers.  Well, I can tell you the "Thomas creating trouble" story line has worn paper thin.  As has the "Lord Grantham being dumb as a rock" story line.  Rose is now playing the "Sybil as Rebel" role.  We'll still watch as G likes the show quite a bit.

Our shows right now are Blacklist, Almost Human, Good Wife, Elementary, Sleepy Hollow, Person of Interest (which had better step up it's game as it's getting very dull), Atlantis (for laughs), and Netflix for West Wing when all else fails.  What are you watching?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

January 5, 2014

I was looking for a picture of a Pomegranate but instead I have this--which is the right color.  I had four in the vegetable crisper, purchased BEFORE all the extra employment.  I needed to cut them open and remove all the ruby, juicy arils.  Now I have.  And I can start eating them with yogurt.  For lunch. Perhaps with a squeeze of tart tangerine juice.

I also, finally, had a moment to file for unemployment.   Never, never an easy thing to do. And with two employers now--more trouble.  I know the retail employer does not pay claims.  But I had to list it.

Downton Abbey tonight.  Bistro steaks, baked potatoes for supper.  I'm not sure what cut of beef a Bistro steak is exactly, but our favorite restaurant (now closed) used to have them and I liked them with a cognac shitake cream sauce.  Anyone know where the Bistro occurs in a steer?

The sun was shining today and it felt like summer outside--  somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees. G took Riley for a walk on his leash.  Had him climb snowbanks.  To wear him out.  Riley was very happy to be out and about after too many days in the house.  Riley was smart enough to know it was way too cold for him to be out.  He thought it was way too cold for him in the house as well.  LOL

Both G and I have actually finished reading books.  Amazing.  I even have a second book at hand to start reading.  What a thrill!!!  We watched football last night.  And had a flatbread pizza that G put together and baked.

I tried on all my pants yesterday.  Sorting them into piles.  Too big.  Just right. Too tight.  You'll be amused to know I am wearing the "too big" pile.  All the pants are the same size, same style, same brand (guess who).  Some need a belt to stay up.  Some are too short at the ankle.  Some need to be cut and hemmed to not drag on the floor.  No wonder customers bring them back.

The just right pile--another set of issues.  Some button easily at the waist and some take some huffing and puffing.  There are two sizes in this pile.   And you would be dead wrong if you thought the larger of the two fits better. Another reason to return the pants, if you paid full retail.

Pile number three.  Let's just say--if I struggled to get them over my butt--the pants went into pile number three.  My "test pants" are the pants I try on to see if my diet is working.  I was surprised to see they are the same brand as all the others.  These pants are over 7 years old.  And they fit sporadically over that period of years.

What was LESS amusing was a favorite pair of pants I purchased in July--that I wore to work almost constantly until it got cold--and which are in pile number three.  They fit in September and October.  They CERTAINLY DO NOT fit now.  That's how incredibly fast the extra weight piled on and I started wearing the stuff in pile number one.  I guess. I didn't eat any differently (though G was making nachos a lot during those months).  My body is a mystery.  The previous weight gain happened at about the same time.  I purchased skinny jeans in early November and in February I couldn't pull them higher than my knees.  So "something" happens in late October to January/February.  I know I don't indulge in holiday eating or baking.  I wish I could.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Following the Sun

The "Sun" room was sunny (mostly) but not warm enough for these guys.  So now they are here in the house, up against the western windows (but no sun--yet).  Plants are also making good use of the brick fireplace floor--- waste not, want not.  Riley's bed is snuggled up against the radiator in the lower left--with perfect window sill for resting his little chin while bird and squirrel watching.

Today the sun is supposed to make a visit, but not enough to get the temperature into double digits.  Like 10 degrees.

I crisped up two Artisan bread rolls we had gotten from Bow Street before New Years.  Preheated the oven to 400 and wet the rolls all over with water.  Then in to steam and then crisp up the crust for about 5 to 10 minutes--keep checking for a crisp crust. (works with any older, stale-ish bread).  I had mine with sweet butter and peach jam.

My task for today--start cleaning and "simplifying".  Where to begin?  My credit card holder.  I sorted thru the things inside;  updated the AAA card to the new one as I did with my new Medicare supplement card.  Looked at the odds and ends I had stuffed in there.

 I didn't go in to the retail job today.  I called "out". I was scheduled for a full 8 hours.  I just couldn't do it.  I look at my watch all the time--wanting it to be break time or lunch or time out--but the day drags on.  I was raised to ALWAYS go to work if I had a job.  So this feels wrong.  But going in feels "wronger".  I will just have to deal with my feelings about this.  And be smarter in the future.

Today---I start simplifying the work room.  Sorting through art and fabric supplies.  Packing things I want to keep in containers.  Folding.  Winding.  Packing.  Carrying things up to the second floor.  Where I will need to start labeling and stacking the containers so I can "find stuff".   Right now I have to open everything in order to find anything.

The sand truck is spreading more sand on our street.  Not that it helps.  Everything is covered in ice.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Baby, It's Brutal (Cold) Outside

It seems to have snowed all night.  It seems to have gotten colder.  The wind is blowing the crisp little snow grains--ripping into any skin you have exposed.  G is cleaning snow from the daughter's driveway and then will come do ours.  We aren't going anywhere.

I had a hard time falling asleep last night---  the furnace was running through the zones almost constantly.  $$$$'s is what I was thinking.  Last bill was over $500 for 30 days.  This one?  Not worth thinking about but I did.  Almost all night.  The snow you see out there is knee high or more in the drifts.  And at the bottom, rutted solid ice.  That wreath (60 inches) hangs (with two others) in the porch arches along the length of the porch.  See the wind blowing the ribbon?

But....... not as bad as one winter we spent in our little blue ranch house in the suburbs of Chicago.  The wind chill was minus 85.  Really. I found it hard to believe until I went outside.  And the metal on the car (G took our son to a indoor soccer match) groaned and creaked.  Any exposed skin--bad!  The little furnace in that house ran, without stopping, for three days.  We were all wrapped in all the clothes and blankets we could find, and still freezing.  That was before I started buying linen sheets and down comforters which do the job of keeping us very warm no matter how cold the house is.  And I also make sure none of the water pipes are on outside walls in any future houses we buy (!!!).

I remember going out the front door of that house and to the top of the driveway to go get the morning paper.  Last thing I remember.  Slipped on ice and knocked myself OUT!  Had to roll onto the lawn and then crawl back into the house when I came to.  G was in Europe.  All I kept thinking was--I could have frozen to death out there and no one would know until my kids came home from school.  Hours and hours later.  I didn't break anything, but I was pretty sore.

We had fresh Italian sausages, potatoes fried with onion and sliced cucumbers in sour cream and dill sauce for dinner last night.  I cooked.  It's been awhile since I could say that.  The last time I made anything was the 23rd of December.  I made three batches of pierogi.  Traditional for us to eat on Christmas Eve (but we didn't--we didn't eat them until much later when G reheated them for dinner when I worked retail).  Oh, and I did make Christmas Burritos on Christmas Day. The ham I bought is still waiting to be baked and served.  Someday.

I have never selected a word for the year.  I saw this word and it seemed to speak to me.  Simplify.
I don't think I even have to say any more than that, do you?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

New Year's Eve & Beyond

Here's what happens when you don't take Riley with you when you go out for an early New Year's Eve dinner.  Our daughter stopped in to drop off something on her way home from work and found this.  What WAS a paperback book.  As usual, Riley did an excellent job of it.  Thank goodness the hardback library books were safely tucked into the couch cushions.  We learn from our mistakes.

New Year's Day I was at the retail job (I am hoping this is holiday pay).  Riley and G did get a short walk in after driving me to work and we gave Riley the second "new bone" to chew on during the afternoon.  So he was sufficiently "exercised" and not interested in chewing more books.   It is COLD here in Maine.  Like 2 degrees with wind.  Not dog walking weather.  It was amazing how many people are still shopping.  Still buying.  Makes me tired just remembering it. Mostly from out of state.  NY, MA, NJ, CN, NH.  But there are plenty of Mainers who are shopping as well.  I am wondering if there is anything I actually "need" as my employment and discount come to an end.

Today I found some more letters in the newspaper for the collection of cut out letters growing under my placemat  (keeps them from blowing off the table).  I use them to add captions to the pages of my journal.  All the letters are really large--the smallest are an inch tall.  And I scored some 2.5 inch ones this morning.  And some that were printed in colored inks.

I try and keep myself "engaged" with these little exercises.  I am really easily entertained.  Now, as soon as I find my glue stick (which is missing) I can start adding captions to pages.  Hey! just found a glue stick.  Not the "one" I am missing but another.  Good enough.

I was going through my overstuffed recipe box ( 4 by 6 index cards) and found five or six interesting recipes.  G and I agreed to take one card to the store next time we need food and buy the ingredients and make the recipe on the card.   The recipe I was looking for was Texas Caviar.  For the black-eyed peas.   I think I can make two dishes (or three) with the pound of peas I cooked.  Caviar, peas in bacon and Rotel sauce and pea patties.

I even looked through the new Johnny's Seed catalog (day off! ) and found starts for sweet potatoes and pelleted carrot seeds.  For the garden.  In a few months.  They even had seeds for black eyed peas.  Cowpeas. I wonder if that's because they had black and white cows??  The peas are white with black eyes.

Tonight we are having Italian sausages, fried potatoes and if G goes to the store, cucumbers in sour cream.  I just mentioned it--so he and Riley are going.  I like cucumbers in sour cream.

That's today's post.  Not exciting news, but it will take me a bit to get back up to speed.  I loved getting all your comments on the last post.  Made my day to find emails in my box.  Thanks!!!