Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing You A Colorful New Year

Some think life is like a box of chocolates.  Me?  Like a great big box of colorful crayons, colored pencils, colored pens, or pastels.  Give me color.  And I'll be happy.

The sun is out today in Maine.  Some of the snow has melted.  G and Riley had a good walk--the full 2 miles. The path they travel is lumpy, bumpy and slippery at times.  Easy enough for the dog--a bit more trying for the 69 year old dog owner.  We've wondered about letting the dog go out on the walk by himself.  Not seriously.  But possible, with a drone flying over his head???

My list of 50 items of cleaning or tidy-ing has jumped from 5 to 7.  Not going well.

I am presently washing the dog's two orange vests and two of his bed blankets.  I also sprayed his beds with Febreze.  Keeping things "fresh".

My Christmas tree started drinking water a day or two after Christmas and is now drinking water on a regular basis.  I know I say this almost every year--but I REALLY love this year's tree.  It looks amazing.  And I realized I need to make about 10 more of the cute Santa ornaments from last winter. I still have the patterns and lots of red felt.  Good time to do it as next November /December I won't find the time.  Now would also be a good time to make the 2016 cards. (no)

Time to decide what we'll be eating today.  Some years we've gone out for dinner--usually at 5pm so as not to be crowded by party goers, but I don't know if we'll do that this year.  I made a pan of triple chocolate brownies yesterday (and didn't use a box mix for the first time in my life) and they are certainly chocolate.  Lots of caffeine. The recipe said to bake them until they were almost done.  No time given.  I missed the almost done.  So they are done and not as moist as they should be.

Watched the USA all day marathon of Mr Robot yesterday.  Still good and still very confusing.  We are also watching River on Netflix.  Only two episodes left of River.  A detective who talks to dead people.  We watched the Marvel Comics series Jessica James and might try the Marvel series Daredevil.  Supposed to be "dark" and set in Hell's Kitchen.  Season one is supposed to be good. Season two, not so good.  G thought another show was doing a marathon but he couldn't find it when he looked up the USA news.

So, almost 2016.  The year G and I turn 70.  I think we should start thinking about living life just for the fun of it.  Not take things too seriously.  I've already started with my choice of bright red eye glass frames. A co-worker asked if I bought them especially for Christmas.  I looked at her to see if she was serious.  She was.  So I said "I've been wearing these every day since September".  "oh" was all she had to say.  I need to be a bit more obvious I guess.  In 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

And It Finally Snowed

But not as much as this older photo shows.  Only a few inches.  And G had some apprehension regarding using the snowblower as he was using it when he had his heart attack in March.  The last time we had snow.


It was good that we only had a little snow.  Not good that it was cold and windy. G had hand warmers for his cold fingers and later put the hand warmers into his slippers to warm his toes.

Riley didn't get to take his daily walk--as the snow clearing took most of the daylight hours.  I managed to pay the bills, do a bit of cleaning, read a third of one of my library books, read a few blogs, tape our Christmas cards to the doorway frame (so old fashioned and festive) and fix us some dinner at 4 pm (when it is getting dark).  We are eating early like we do when I don't go to work.  G has dessert around 8 or 9 pm.  I have coffee or tea.

I am sleeping until 8am which is nice.  Much better than waking at 6am.  But finding it difficult to find something to do after eating breakfast and reading the morning newspaper.  That's when I usually pack my bag and go to work.

If G is awake I can start making noise and doing housework.  But he is usually still sleeping so I have to be quiet.  I sorted the onions, shallots and garlic I had stored on the sunporch.  It's getting too cold out there now so I needed to pack them into something that would protect them from freezing. I don't want to fall into a pattern of watering the houseplants and end up drowning them.  I think I will gather supplies and try and do some drawing or painting in the morning.  That's quiet work and I think it will be very nice to make art every day.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Snow Is Forecast For Tuesday

G has filled all the feeders out by the garden.  We have lots of finches.  Riley hunted a flock of 6 wild turkeys about 2 weeks ago.  Big ones.  Not too many crows these days but I love to watch them.  We still have berries on the crab apples, the bittersweet and since the soil is still warm--lots of worms. Good eats for the birds.

The squirrels are very active which keeps Riley in good form.

The warm sun has disappeared.  The grass was frozen this morning and the rhodie leaves were thin.  Conservation of resources. We still have a few clay pots to empty and bring in from the herb garden. I had basil in them.  Did better in pots than in the garden soil itself. All the basil got that fungus on the leaves.

I have started a clipboard with blank pages for a 50 item cleanup list.  So far, I have five items.   I am working on the dining room table (yet, again) with a pile of my art supplies and work tools and managed to clean out the dishtowel drawer and wash and bleach the dishtowels, my undies and sleeping tee shirts.  Not dirty but certainly dingy.  Now all are sparkling white.  I potted up my paperwhites.  But first had to find the stones. And then find the bulbs.  I tried to make a case for that being THREE items but common sense prevailed and it was only the one.

The Amaryllis bulbs I had planted in the garlic and onion bed outside (and which grew considerably in bulb width) are still not doing much in the way of sending up flowering stems.  I can see the faintest, tiny-ist, growth so all is not lost.  Next year I have to pull them out of the garden earlier--like August.  Still time to have flowers for Valentine's Day.  Perhaps, Easter.

Today G and I are going grocery shopping to buy supplies for a big pot of chicken soup.  Ever since his heart surgery, G has been very temperature sensitive and is always cold.  The medication that keeps his blood pressure abnormally low is the cause.  The hot soup seems to help warm him up.

I discovered an injury from the fall I had at work.  One of the fingers on my left hand is very bruised and dark blue (doesn't hurt).   I began massaging the bruised area to move blood around and through it.  Seems less blue black this morning.  

That's about all that is happening here.  G and I watched episodes 2-4 of River on Netflix last night. We could have gone on and watched more (into the night) but wanted to save something for this evening as television in the holiday weeks is pretty thin.  Now we have to find something to watch when river is complete.  Any Netflix suggestions?  We could always start in on House of Cards.

Friday, December 25, 2015


We had a full moon and some misty rain.  But the weather guys promise snow storms next week.  And that's okay as I don't have to drive anywhere.  Work is finished for the year (and then some) until February.  Hugs all around at work.  We are so very much a family.

Our son got his package.  Is eating the cookies.  Perhaps setting the puzzle pieces out on his coffee table.   Cursing us for the shredded newspaper (the packing material) which is all over his carpet.

I had planned to do all my Christmas shopping at the drugstore that sells "as seen on TV" products but forgot (?????).  Lucky for us, my daughter had the same idea and she DID shop there.  Can't wait to see what she bought me---- we haven't opened presents yet.

The Christmas Eve pierogi making went well for me (and for my son) this year.  I used Bob's All Purpose Flour and wow, there must be some magic in that bag.  No noodle dough problems.  Easy and almost fun.  Made 2 dozen of each.  Potato, Sauerkraut and Cheese.  G and I ate ours just after I finished cooking the last batch.  Way good.  Best ever. Can't wait to fry them up for supper tomorrow.

Today we have Christmas Burritos.  I made rice for myself.  I have red onions from my garden, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese for the burritos.  G and S will have meat. Then we'll have a Pumpkin Cream Pie with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream.

So much "run up" to the day and then here it is-----then gone.

Wishing you a happy day with those you love.  And if those you love are far away......time to remember why you love them.   Peace and Love to you all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Minus One

Too much to do and by the time I get home from work--well, it's just not enough time.  Getting up at 6 am in the dark and getting home at 4, in the dark.  I know.  I know.  It's what all working people face during the holidays.  Feeling all stressed out like the little branch tied to the package up top of this post.  It's supposed to look stylish but just makes me think of the ties on a straightjacket.

The cookies are all baked.  The majority are on a UPS truck in sunny California, and hopefully, will be sitting in the lobby of my son's building when he gets home from work today.

My Secret Santa liked her gift.  I liked the one I got.  Everything seems to be going well at work. Tomorrow is my last day (of work) and I have a Terrarium and a Bonsai gift to be picked up by customers who wanted their gifts on Christmas Eve and not one moment earlier. Both are very lovely.  If I do say so myself, since I created them.

So far, this Christmas season I have gotten three very nice tips.  The tree yard boys get tips usually for carrying trees and tie-ing them to the tops of cars etc.  Not so usual to tip the gal re-potting your plants or creating dish gardens, terrariums or bonsai.  I do a lot of bonsai.  I planned ahead this year and stocked up on "great" rocks to include in the bonsai dish with the little tree. I also try and add moss and a little path.  I told a co-worker (and new friend) that I would love to make real outdoor Bonsai--as a job.  So, call me if anyone out there needs a Bonsai maker.  Okay???

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Minus Four Days

The last of the cookie dough I made last week is now baked into cookies.  And I sat down Saturday and actually came up with a design and drew the design on cards.  And addressed and mailed the cards.  They won't get anywhere in time for Christmas but---  Well, I have no excuses.

A few of the gals working the Christmas Table at work have decided (each on our own) to make changes in our lives.  Doing things differently, letting things go etc.  There must have been some magic in the air.  My plans aren't really firm as yet.  But working (outside the home) is going to be less the next year.  I'll keep you informed of my choices but not theirs.

Allergy:  Well.... I am not allergic to wheat flour.  I have been eating bread for three days straight and no rash no itch and no watering eyes.  I wanted to see what would happen.  And nothing happened.
I still have reddened, flaky skin from my hairline to my eyebrows.  But no itch.

I am NOT going to press my luck and eat any nuts because I have a feeling that would not go well.

The bread I am eating is a whole grain rye from When Pig's Fly.

Today we are packing up our son's package with cookies and presents.  He may not get it until New Year's.  Not that it will matter as he is probably busy seeing Star Wars.  And my son is pragmatic like his mother.  If he wants something he goes out and buys it for himself--doesn't wait for Santa to buy him things.  So, the check I send is more important than the box from home.  He does appreciate the cookies.

I was feeling rather blue this Christmas season--due to the 6 Benadryl a day and then in the space of 48 hours so many people (customers) have shown up at work and were so happy to see me.  Gosh, is there anything better than seeing people's faces light up when they set eyes on you?  I don't think so. I am usually so surprised by that.  But this year, I am really appreciating it.  Leaning into it.  Hugging back.  Doing things differently.

We finished watching Netflix Jennifer Jones (Marvel) and are now into River (BBC).  That song from the first episode is stuck in my mind.  I have to download it.  Listen to it all the time. Love to Love You.  From the 70's.

G is back with the box.  Need to start wrapping and packing.  Then start the pierogi dough and fillings.  I work the next three days.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cookies, Cards & Ornaments

I am way behind.  I haven't even decided what to draw for the christmas cards this year.  I did plan ahead and used a coupon to pay for a big package (50) of Kraft paper blank cards and envelopes.  Just in case they stop making them (and I still want to use them).  That's like 4 years worth of cards since I only send out 12.

I had planned to make another felt ornament like the STILL WAY CUTE Santa coat and hat I made last year.  I don't have any heart buttons and wonder if I actually want snowmen.  The carrot nose looks difficult.

I finally (oh, you should see how backlogged I am with chores) made two of the three batches of cookies.   The Apricot Oatmeal from MS.  The Snickerdoodles (that for some reason spread instead of puffed).  But the kolachke are still in the fridge. I am packaging (really cute) the cookies up as gifts for people at work since I don't think I should be eating cookies.  They look delicious.

My rash comes and goes and the only variables in my diet don't seem like things that would cause an allergic reaction.  Like orange slice candies.  They are all gone now--so that won't be a problem.  I did eat some roasted peanuts at work (I regularly eat peanut butter on a big spoon out of the jar as a meal) and the rash struck.  So,  how can I be allergic, now, to things I have eaten in excess for years and years without a care in the world?????

I am achingly tired of the brown rice, banana, butternut squash and bran flakes with soy milk.  I love all those things but now that they are the only things I can eat-----I am growing less fond of them each day.  Each "new" thing I add---the itch comes back.  Today I added popcorn and am waiting for the rash.  I am getting no protein.  Not a big meat eater anyway and now--not interested at all.  I did make chili (and still have three portions) and the rash struck just 20 minutes after I ate the first bowl.

It's cold and it's raining here in Maine.  All the days in December (minus one) have been colored orange on the weatherman's calendar.  All warmer than normal.  We won't be having a white Christmas.  No snow.  Just rain.  Here it is--not even 4 pm and dark as night.

Time to shower and put on my jammies.   Only 5 more days of work.  I think. Then it's Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Gifting/ Wishes and Dreams

I'm not really into it this year.  Or last, for that matter.  Things are too easy to obtain.  Click.  And it's yours.  Like it...use it.  Don't like it?  Return it or just tuck it away somewhere for your inheritors to deal with. What does anyone NEED???  Sigh.  Why can't we exchange wishes and dreams instead? Open a pretty package and find, nestled in tissue, a lovely wish.  Just for you.

The tree is up and has lights and decorations.  Listing to the side.  Tempting itself to tip right over and crash to the floor.  With all my ornaments.  It's happened before.  I lost all the angels and Santas made of glass and sparkles when my sweater caught on a 12 foot tree and came crashing down onto G (sitting in his chair).  The snowmen didn't break.

We attached some of my soft garden wire to the stem and attached it to the fireplace mantel.  G and I remembered another tree we had tied to the ceiling--so it wouldn't tip over.  This tree--charmingly whimsical-- has a thin stem.  Making it difficult to stabilize with the three screws in the stand.

The first of my 3 days off, I set the 4 sticks of butter out on the counter to soften.  All day and all night.  Still not soft.  The second day of my three days off, I mixed up three doughs.  One for Snickerdoodles.  One for Almond Apricot Oatmeal cookies.  One for Apricot Kolachke.  They are now in the fridge.  Today is my third day of my three days off and I must actually bake cookies.  Sounds like a charming new Christmas song doesn't it?

Yesterday I cubed, peeled and baked an enormous butternut squash and made a large container of organic long grain brown rice.  That's what I will be eating this week at work for my interpretation of the BRAT diet.  For G I made a large casserole dish of sausage, mushroom, onion, marinara sauce.  To be eaten with pasta.  But not by me.

No cashews yesterday.  No rash.  I told G he must eat the rest of the 2 pounds of cashews himself.
What an odd thing to be allergic to.  So the total of things I can't eat without getting a rash are wheat flour and cashews.  Okay.

Today. Cookies.  And I can't eat any of them.  Perhaps that is why I am having difficulty actually baking them?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Walking The Dog

Any minute now.  G is taking a class all day today.  I had wanted the entire day to myself.  Baking cookies, reading a book, ordering gifts by phone.  The house is so cool that the sticks of butter I set out before breakfast are still cold to the touch.  I did manage to make the apricot filling for kolachke.

Thursday I tripped and fell at work.  Knocked the wind out of me and the adrenaline rush left me feeling faint.  My employer wanted to know if I needed to go to the hospital to get checked out. I didn't.  No bruising and no aches or pains.  I must be too heavily "padded" to get hurt falling face down on cement. My doctor would use that as another club to beat me up regarding my weight.

This is my fifth day of eating a Banana, Rice, Applesauce diet.  Had to skip the T (toast) as I am finding that I have an allergy to wheat flour.  Not the bran. Not gluten.  Just the wheat flour--the white stuff in nearly everything.  I know this is true because I made packaged au gratin potatoes and about 30 minutes after eating them with some delicious ham and steamed broccoli---my face started to itch.

I can eat yogurt with bran buds.  I can eat TJ's Bran Flakes.  I can eat steamed brown rice.  I can eat roasted butternut squash.  I think the vanilla ice cream was okay as it was "homemade" style.  Nothing much added to the cream.  I can eat corn chips, but not too many.

I feel better.  The itching and red scaling skin near my hairline was difficult.  None of the medicines would work.  Like 6 Benadryl a day.  Zyrtec.  Also my eyes have stopped watering.  And the lack of watering means a lack of burning skin around my eyes as well.

Wheat flour is hidden in almost all processed foods.  So "do it yourself" food is going to be my best choice going forward.  I am interested in finding out if the vermicelli flour in pasta is the wheat flour I am allergic to because, it's only a matter of time before I feel the "need" to eat pasta. I find it interesting that the bran doesn't bother me.

I am going to have to make soup.  Not that it's cold here in Maine.  Our weather guy makes up a monthly calendar--blue days are below average and orange days above average.  So, far, in December, we have had one blue day.  All the rest are orange.  And, this week, all the days will be very orange as today is supposed to be 55 degrees plus.

Time for the walk.  A large black dog is giving me the lethal X-ray stare.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

I Actually Bought My Christmas Tree---Early

Each year I find it more and more difficult to actually buy my tree.  And I work in a greenhouse with a tree yard outside.  With a wide selection of trees.

I like the wild trees.  Not the shaped and manicured ones.  The ones with large spaces between branches.  I have a GREAT many ornaments.  And I like to place the bigger, heavier ones deep inside next to the stem.  The tiny ones are on the very tips of the branches.  Last year's tree, purchased very late, even had room for the big plastic (vintage) Santa and sleigh.

My tree will have as many ornaments (or more) as the one pictured above.  I just WISH the surrounding could be as austere and cleanly white as those in the picture. I long for austere and live in clutter.

Work was good this week.  Lots of good music from a wonderful collection on an iPhone with a speaker.  Lots of very good laughter.  Oh, a good few minutes of laughter soothes the soul. The only sticking point was--so much customer stuff going on--no time to have lunch together.  But business is good.  And that is a very good thing.

Thirteen or 14 more days of work, at work, before the annual furlough begins.  Then I get to start working HERE at home.  But I also get to sleep and not be up at 6am.  I do not go easily into the morning.

I am beginning to think my rash (yes, it's back but only on the left side of my face, near the hairline) is eczema.  My brother had it.  Caused by food allergies.  I think it gets worse when I eat too much wheat.  And I do eat a lot of wheat based foods.  Or it could just be winter dry skin.  In either event, I am tired of taking Benadryl all the time.

Today, I am baking cookies.  Snickerdoodles.  Chocolate chip.  Perhaps some with dried apricots. I'm not fond of sugar cookies or spritz cookies.  Lebkuchen looks too intense and I don't have the oblaten to bake them on.  I do love them--especially coated in chocolate.  Cinnamon (Zimt) Stars are very good as well and don't have any wheat flour in them.   I once had a basic butter cookie dough that could be used to make a variety of cookies.  Coconut batons with one end dipped in chocolate.  I think the recipe was vintage Bon Appetite.  I made four varieties from the large recipe and carried them on a plane with me to Florida one winter.  That was when one could carry things in a box onto a plane.  All the cookies were eaten the first day in Florida.  Six couples.  I don't think any of the ladies had any.

I have plenty of flour and sugar.  Might need some additional vanilla.

Ready.  Set.  Bake.