Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Sometimes you just need to disconnect and enjoy your own company." ~ Kushandwizoom

Well - I'm in Florida! Bruce and I agreed that since we now have the condo, we should take advantage of it! This is the only window that I saw as doable for me, so I started down on Monday and arrived safely on Wednesday. Bruce helped me plot out my route, and I did not encounter any trouble whatsoever. He will join me in a bit and we will drive back north together in a few weeks. I have fun-time planned with my knitting friends, and I am really enjoying the freedom of doing as I please, without any household tasks facing me. I have books, knitting projects, and the HGTV schedule to keep me out of trouble.  Additionally, I hope to spend time really learning my new camera.

Of course, I arrived to sudden predictions of a hurricane, but as I write this, it seems as though it will remain a tropical storm, and not hit directly where I am. Monday through Tuesday seem to be the key days at this point - I have water and canned food in the event that I lose power, but it does seem that it will not be as bad as it could have been. It's fair to say however, that the weather each afternoon has been very turbulent. I remember this from when we were here at this time last year to do renovations.

I headed to the beach this morning (in order to avoid the once again forecast afternoon storms). I had hoped to get some shots of wild waves (I went at high tide and given the afternoon storms, I thought I might catch some), but found the water very calm and tranquil. I have posted shots of this spot many times in the past, but I am shooting and sharing it again!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening." ~ Larry King

I love podcasts, but admit to not listening to any of my favorites in recent months! Just like YouTube videos, there are podcasts on every conceivable subject. Some good and some horrid. When the recommendation comes from Food 52 (one of my favorite sites, newsletters, etc. with a podcast of their own listed below)) then I feel fairly confident that I will love what I listen to. Now I need to find the time! Check out their newest recommendations!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"A good spicy challenge strikes a balance between flavour and fear." ~ Adam Richman

Sweet and Spicy BITE - hosted by Chris, who thankfully had air-conditioning! We spent quite a bit of time catching up on each other's lives as we all seem to have had things going on since we last gathered - all good! When it came time to take pictures of our food, I found that my camera would not focus. I was distressed to be sure, but quickly switched to my cell camera. Happily a photo friend swung by today and showed me that the problem was as minor as I hoped - thanks Jerry!

We began our eating portion of the evening with Ellen's salsa - what a beautiful presentation - and so fresh tasting!

Pineapple Salsa
Next was Tierney's side-dish which tasted as wonderful as it looks! The dressing had a wonderful kick to it!

Sweet and Spicy Rainbow Thai Salad
For our main course, Chris did a take on traditional sloppy joes, but used ground turkey rather than ground beef, and the sauce had a terrific bite to it!

Sloppy Joes

I ended our meal with a Mexican chocolate pudding cake. I have decided that I really could write a blog on cooking disasters! I won't share my most recent ones with you here - though they were funny. It's fair to say that is is a good thing that I had plenty of ingredients on hand! Anyhow - the final (and second) result was wonderful. Any recipe that calls for about an inch of boiling water to be poured on top of the other ingredients before it's all placed in the oven - well, it looked awful, but it really was delicious and I know that this is a keeper. Ooey, gooey, chocolatey - wonderful! I will say that I changed up the final try a bit after having tasted the first go-round. So - I used 1 full teaspoon of Mexican chili powder, and I used 1 cup (rather than one half) of brown sugar in the second layer. 

Mexican Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
We are going to be skipping September as some of us will be on the road. October takes us to Tierney's with India as our theme. I think the timing is perfect - Indian Summers will be coming to Masterpiece at the end of September!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"If you have time to knit, if you've taken up knitting, it means you're not worried about the essential stuff." ~ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

A couple of knitting friends recently posted this short film on FaceBook. Just watching it makes me happy!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"My favorite way of getting out of doing chores is by acting like I'm asleep. But it never works." ~ Devon Werkheiser

As we continue our work to prepare for downsizing, we have decided to paint a few rooms that have not been done since we painted them the first time, over 14 years ago. While happily, most rooms have been redone since then, or are still in really good shape, there are a few that need refreshing, regardless of how long we remain here. 

First was our master-bath. One would think with its tiny size that this would be an easy task. Not so! Between giving it a much lighter color (necessitating two coats), and all of those little nooks and crannies - UGH! But, it's done and looks lovely. I have only included a couple of pictures, but the overall goal was to go from "Tracy Wishes That She Was Sitting On The Beach!" to  "Coastal Tranquility" - or something like that! Mission accomplished I think.

Next was our bedroom. I am not someone who is constantly rearranging the furniture. Things go the way we like them, and generally stay there! I admit however, that I have been itching to rearrange and revamp our bedroom, which has felt dark and cluttered, for some time now. One thing we did not change was the wall color. I really do like it, and while we have been striving for a somewhat lighter look, my memories of two coats in the bathroom was fresh in my mind! We went with the original shade and I'm pleased with that. No question it made it easier to cover in one coat.

The whole repainting of that room took us the better part of a week, between taping off and then painting the trim, to then taping off and panting the walls.  Bruce does up high - I do down low. After several days of scooting around on my rear-end, I decided that I've earned the right to say "Oh, my aching ass!". We pulled the room somewhat back together (no pictures), have placed the bed on a different wall, gotten rid of a very large dresser, and thrown out the worn area rug. The new headboard (we hadn't had one) arrived today, and new roman shades (replacing dark brown curtains with some holes in them!)  should arrive next week. Paint; headboard; window treatments - those were our new investments. Down the road I would love a new bedspread, but right now I'm just enjoying how open and clean everything feels (and is!)

We still have two more rooms to paint (and the deck), but the ones with the biggest emotional impact have been done - I just know I'm going to sleep better!

Bruce and I were wondering the other day - between the condo and home, about how many square feet we have painted in the last 12 months!? It seems as though we have been constantly attending to something. I hope that in the next few weeks I can begin visiting some of the blogs and websites that I enjoy and have neglected lately. I think that we are ready to hang up our paint brushes!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." ~ Oscar Wilde

Great plans - some failure and some success! As we continue to weed out in preparation for downsizing at some point, I came across a couple of empty frames and I just couldn't resist trying to revisit my beach-house window success of a few weeks ago. The first frame I attempted to tackle was a large wooden brown frame with glass (estimate - 20x24 - thereabouts). The glass just could not be removed - hard to explain, but it couldn't. I primed it white and then painted it gold. Gold is not normally a shade that I gravitate to, but at the cottage that we rent on the Cape, all of the pictures are framed in gold, and I'm taken with them every time I see them. So - gold it was. The frame looked (looks) gorgeous, but since I couldn't remove the glass, and since I had not taped it off prior to painting (Lesson #1), I had to scrape the paint from the glass. I would have to say that this was not difficult, but required elbow grease. Here comes Lesson #2. I should have supported the glass underneath (being a frame, the glass did not rest right on the work surface). I was nearly done with the scraping when I pushed just a bit too hard, and the glass shattered. No harm to me or to the frame, but my immediate use of it for a project has been put on hold.

Disappointed, I moved on to the second frame. This one was much smaller (8x18?) and made of black plastic. The glass was easily removed and I primed and painted as before. I loved the transformation from black plastic to lustrous gold. 

Now we are on the cusp of Lesson #3! I proceeded as I had for my original beach window, and laid out my arrangement of shells and glass (this time mostly dollar store little rounds of glass - beautiful). After I had the arrangement complete, I glued everything down (see my previous post for glue and resin links), waited overnight, and then began the resin process. As before, I combined the two parts in a dollar store mustard (or ketchup) container. These are perfect for delivering the resin right where you want it to go. 

OK - Lesson #3 - make sure that the lid to the mustard container is tightly screwed on! I was partway though delivery when the lid popped off and the resin poured out - half on the glass and half on the work-table surface. Fortunately my work surface was not the dining room table! I do this kind of thing on a large plastic table, and for the most part, it cleans up wonderfully from my projects, including those that go awry! Thank goodness I also had on work clothes - wherever the resin went ultimately became seriously solid!

This mishap had me scurrying and resulted in a much thicker layer of resin that I had used previously. Since the resin had coated the sides and top of the frame, and some of the shells - I had to continue with putting resin on every single surface. 

Well, some minor catastrophes aside, I am very pleased with the result. Because of the thick layers of resin, it has a much glossier look that the previous one - and is much heavier! 

Every time I do a project, I learn something new - I'm eager to try some more of these beach windows - but I will be a bit wiser the next time!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"It's never too late to start again, take another breath, and say another prayer, and fly away from here." ~ Aerosmith

For the previous five or six summers, we have been visited by hawks during the month of July. Their nests nearby, we would hear them morning and night, and have the good fortune of having them visit our deck, backyard and roof. Alas - no hawks this summer! I have watched and listened, but there has been no sign of them, and our song-birds have been steadily around. Why the change after all of these years? We have wondered if it could have something to do with the brutal winter, or the wet and warm first part of summer. Regardless, I miss them. They were so majestic and mystical, and had total dominance over their terrain for a month or so. Oh well - I have had to console myself with looking at photos that I had taken for the last few summers. I am going to share some of my favorites below one more time as a farewell - at least for this year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Oh, the summer night, Has a smile of light, And she sits on a sapphire throne." ~ Bryan Procter

Yesterday, aside from being the most beautiful of summer days so far, was Bruce's birthday. While we did not have anything particular planned, it turned out that the golfers (Bruce being among them) decided on a dinner out with their spouses. We ate at Vesper Hills Golf Club, seriously understated, and in a spectacular setting overlooking Otisco Lake. 

There were ten of us altogether, and armed with only my cell-phone, I tried to capture a bit of the atmosphere.

Their menu is quite eclectic, with everything from Yak Burgers to more traditional fare. I had B.L.T. Scallops - lovely; and Bruce had a type of Turkish fish called basina. it too was just wonderful.

We were there just long enough to enjoy a beautiful summer sunset. A wonderful way to wrap up the birthday of a wonderful man!