Saturday, May 31, 2014

"My ultimate goal is to end up being happy. Most of the time." ~ Taylor Swift

On the sidebar of my blog, there is a section titled "Some of My Favorite Flash Mobs, Dance Videos, and Other Clips. Under that heading are two links to videos I have talked about before. The first one is Happy People Dancing On Planet Earth. The second, featuring the same young man, is 2012 Happy People Dancing On Planet Earth.

I am ready to add to the collection!

It just makes me so happy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“I wonder how much it would take to buy a soap bubble, if there were only one in the world.” ~ Mark Twain

It's that time of year again - soaping time! I do my soaping for the year in a marathon session of about one week. It's a lot of fun, but make no mistake - it's a lot of work. I just completed 12 of the 24 batches that I am making this year. 

I got caught off guard a bit last year and needed more soap than I thought I would. It's fair to say that in this household, we've been down to the "ugly bars" for quite some time now. So - four extra batches this year - I'm thinking that this should cover it!

I use six different oils in my soap.
Lye water is added, and in this case, color.

I have taken to doing a double batch of my personal favorites (peony in this case) so that I know that I always have enough of the ones that I love best for myself!

Last year I got started quite a bit later than I usually do (I can't remember the reason). As a result, I felt a bit rushed and did not do much with colors and swirling. I am trying to make up for it this year.

I don't sell my soap, but give it as gifts throughout the year. Personally, I always appreciate a gift that someone has made themselves. I hope that my recipients feel the same!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"My friends are my estate." ~ Emily Dickinson

In my very first blog post, I wrote about celebrating my first official day of retirement with a dear group of friends. I shared how we have laughed and laughed together over the years, supporting each other through good times, and not so good times. Some of us have lost loved ones since that first post. Now, for the first time, we have lost one of our own.

At 85, she had lived a good, long life. She had long since retired from the Junior High before I began teaching there, so I did not know her in the same way that many of our group did. When we all gathered monthly however, she never failed to ask me about my family, or to share the memories of the many trips that she had taken with her husband over the years. 

In a few short weeks, our group will gather to celebrate the June birthdays among us. It will not be the same - and the seasons, they go 'round and 'round. We will miss you Birdie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides." ~ Lao Tzu

Many of you may have already seen the video below - I posted it to my Face Book page over the weekend. I felt that I simply needed to add it here however. I often post about yarn, knitting, and other handicrafts. This video is a cross between those things, and exquisite story-telling, music, and movie-making. 

I doubt that any of you will view it without emotion.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Good food is very often, even most often, simple food." ~ Anthony Bourdain

After a several month hiatus, BITE is back in business! It was so wonderful to see Ellen, Tierney and Chris! This was our first gathering since before Christmas! We met at Chris's home, and she chose "Southern Hospitality" as her theme.  Since she and I spent our winters in the south, this seemed particularly appropriate.

As a disclosure before I begin sharing our dishes - I left my camera at home. There is a fair distance between Chris's house and mine, so I did not try to go back for it. So - cellphone pictures it was!

To start out our evening, Chris prepared two variations of sweet tea - a southern favorite. One had alcohol, the other did not. Both were plenty sweet! Ellen then shared two appetizers that she brought. One was a stuffed mushroom dish, for which I do not have a recipe - sorry! The other was pimento cheese spread with crackers. Delicious! I finally had to move away from the dish - this could clearly be a downfall!


Tierney's side dish, scalloped potatoes and onions, was wonderful, with a real bite from Emeril Lagasse's "essence". It was creamy and had bacon - need I say more? Sadly, I did not get even a cellphone picture of this (sorry Super T.!) - the one below is from the recipe site.
Next came Chris's main dish of picnic oven fried chicken. I love fried chicken (even KentuckyFried, which I hate to admit). Chris's also was spicy and delicious.

To finish things off, I made New Orleans pralines (no baking involved). We had pralines in Savannah last year on our way home from Florida, and Bruce and I both loved them. It's fair to say that my results did not taste the same, but they were good! I made two batches, the first of which came out looking as pralines are supposed to. The second batch? Not so much. I think I cooked the mixture too long and added too many pecans. The result was a crumbly, but yummy, mixture- hence the ice-cream. I decided that it would taste good spooned over a dish of vanilla, and it did!


It was wonderful to see my friends after so many months apart. We spent the evening catching up on what is going on in each other's lives, eating good food, and sharing good laughs. Wonderful!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On and off my needles this May!

While traveling to and from Florida (and places in-between) last winter, and the winter before, I knit Lucy Bag after Lucy Bag, and posted many pictures of them here and here. They were great traveling projects! I could knit round and round, rarely having to look down at my work (and therefore avoiding the car sickness that has plagued me since childhood).

At Thanksgiving, everyone female, and I do mean every one of them (lots) got a Lucy Bag. It was time to move onto something different, yet travel-easy.  This year I did baby sweaters. I have posted about the Cute As One Button baby cardigan in the past. Quick, easy to do, and again - wonderful while a passenger in a car.

The center one is just minus the buttons - soon to be sewn on for recently born Baby Bennett.
Currently on my needles is the small shawl, Summer Flies. Darned if I could get a decent picture - every one came out almost fluorescent pink. Also, I do confess to doing a fair amount of improvisation of the pattern along the way. A word of caution - do not try to work on this while watching the film Philomena. Too many tears and too much needed attention. - just saying.

I only have rather small projects on the horizon, which suits me just fine at the moment. Little appetizers is how a refer to them!

In closing for today, I ran across an interesting article Knitting and Needlework:  Relaxing Hobbies or Seditious Activities; one of many that seem to be popping up regarding the resurgence in knitting, and its far-flung links to the past.

Women knit as they chat over the garden fence in Bayford, Hertfordshire. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Our time, since our return from Florida, has been a whirlwind - mostly in a good way. We had our Kentucky Derby party - so much fun! The next morning I left for Vermont for a several-day visit to see my son Alex, and his partner Hannah. They recently moved to Vermont, and I had not seen them since we left for Florida.

What a wonderful visit! They are nestled in the woods, alongside a lake, and they are loving life. What every parent hopes for.

Their spring is a couple of weeks behind ours - you can see its infancy at every bend.

A couple of shots from the ferry, heading back to new York State.

I surely do miss them, but they are much closer than they had been, and we will see them in a few short weeks for a family celebration. It was a wonderful trip!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me." ~ Anna Quindlen

Two and a half years ago, when I began using Pinterest, I titled my first board "My Beach House". A dream, often "a dollar and a dream", I have always wanted to live near the beach. Shortly before we left Florida to head back to the northeast, my dream became much more of a reality.  Two days before heading home we closed on a condo in Stuart, Florida!

When I emailed my sisters with the news, I said something to the effect that in the best of worlds, we would be moving into a two-bedroom; two-bath; turn-key; near the water condo. The reality is more like a one-bedroom; one and a half bath; needs a lot of work; near the road condo. 

But it's ours! No more searching each year for a winter rental. No more dealing with landlords (who for the most part have been great - but not always!). No more having to move out by a certain date; use a mish-mash of kitchen utensils; someone else's sheets, towels, etc. Its ours and we are very excited! We know that there is work to be done, but we feel content to tackle it as it comes. We are about 5 miles from the beach; close to shopping and a fabulous library; close to a charming downtown; close to friends from the north and newly made friends from the south. We are excited (I think I already said that!)

Below are a few pictures - a bit of a mess - but ours! I will keep you posted as we begin our work - warts and all! All of the furniture stays, except for the armoire. It's not necessarily all our style, but it will certainly serve us well for the time-being!

To be referred to from this point forward as "Our beach condo'!