Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Christmas pictures

Jill and her new do-it-yourself Build a Bear

Jill and Cory

Look closely and you can see Jonah's helicopter flying near the fireplace

Steph and Cory

Joyce and Peggy

Roger and Mary

Me, Rick and Darlene

Jonah and Mia

80's version of Mia playing on her brother's bike ramp

Mia in "Roger's bed" watching Nickolodeon

Roger and Nibbles

Jaime and Aaron

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ready for Christmas

Fresh pine boughs and left over flowers from the science experiment

I love this picture of Jaime and kids from Thanksgiving

Jill's new haircut

Jill, Cory and Steph just before the new hair cut
Spiral ham - check
Turkey breast - check
Potatoes, Stuffing cubes, butter, pies, cookies, fruit, cheese, etc. ..... check
Firewood and candles - check
Wine, egg nog and something for the egg nog - grocery store
Last minute gifts and wrapping - 2 days left
Christmas Eve - Can't wait

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa and Jill

Jill met with Santa last night. Now we have to get Jonah and Mia to see him, though Jonah is a non-believer now. I have him a little worried that he might be making a big mistake, though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crazy School Night

Mia meltdown

Paper towel experiment

Jonah's football team (Packers)

Jill's cheerleading team


Doomed flower experiment
It's was a busy, crazy night last night. First I had started to do some Christmas baking during the day. Made cranberry orange nut bread which seemed to take a lot of work to only make four little mini loaves. Then I made the dough for sugar cookies. Meanwhile, Jonah was behind on his science project. First he was going to compare the growth of plants with different temperatures of water, but we didn't get the plants in time. Then we were going to test absorption rates with different temperatures of water indicated by food coloring except NONE of the colors showed up in the white flowers as they were supposed to. So Jaime got a bunch of paper towels for the old paper towel absorption test. Why do they have science projects due just before Christmas vacation? Why do they have science projects in the 3rd grade?
Did I mention that Jaime and the kids are living here with us now? That's a long story. Anyway, then came last night. There was an award banquet for flag football and cheerleading. Jonah was in a terrible mood and wouldn't eat dinner and Jaime had to leave with Mia to get started on the science project. Anyway, I think Jonah was worried that he wouldn't get a trophy because he was all smiles after that. Meanwhile, Jaime was up all night doing Jonah's project after he fell asleep. (Thank God his teacher doesn't see this blog.) Then Mia decided to wake up screaming several times during the night pulling at her ear. This morning we looked at the schedule and the project isn't actually due until tomorrow. So everyone is tired. The house is a wreck. There are paper towels and cups of colored water everywhere.
On the good side, Roger's sister and brother-in-law have moved back to Florida from Michigan. They are just a few minutes away. Now he is not quite so outnumbered by my family. We went over on Sunday to visit Mary's daughter and her family who are visiting. There is Ava who is 2 1/2 and Christopher who is 8 months old. They are adorable but I forgot to take my camera. Hopefully we can get Ava and Mia together to play while they are here. Meanwhile, Mary is recovering from a broken arm and lots of cuts and bruises from a fall. She has had a hard time recovering from cancer and now this, but we will try to take good care of her. Merry crazy Christmas season!
*****Afternoon update*******
The doctor said Mia had a little water on her ear but no infection. They said she may be cutting molars and to try Motrin. Roger and I have enjoyed a peaceful, quiet day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Trimmings

Christmas trimmings are in place. Modest and as childproof as possible, they still look very pretty. We had a cold night and made a big fire and toasted marshmallows in the fireplace to make s'mores. On another night we got the tree into place with the usual commotion. Mia really likes it and has mostly left it alone. We had trouble locating the Santa plate and the Santa Elf ornament that hangs from the light fixture over the table. Never did find the red and green plaid tree skirt. Cory strung some lights on the outside and took Roger out on the golf course with him. They had fun and Roger tried his swing in the front yard. I am hoping he starts playing again soon. Merry Christmas season to all. Jonah still has his job to do. Getting the train out and putting it together and then protecting it from Mia. He says he is up for the job.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Holiday spread from 2008

I love Thanksgiving, but it hasn't always been that way. There were times when I thought my mother took so long to cook everything just to torture us. We usually had just our small family with an aunt and uncle or my grandmother. No cousins to play with, lousy damp Oklahoma weather outside and nothing but a televised parade and football on TV.

When my mother became unable to cook the whole meal the way she had always done, I confess to being resentful at being handed the job. I even forgot to turn on the oven one time and we didn't eat until 8:00 at night.

Then one day it clicked. I brought a tiny TV into my kitchen and turned on the parade. I called various friends and relatives who I knew would also be up early, stuffing a turkey. I parked my mother at the kitchen table to help and to keep me company. When my mother was gone, my daughter took her place. I bonded with the tradition, the food, the memories. My mother's specialty was the stuffing. I have played with the recipe every year trying to make it easier and more tasty, but now I keep it very simple.

We liked moist suffing in my family. The prize was the stuffing from inside the turkey. Second choice was the pan of "side" stuffing with it's crunchy edges. Bob Evan's turkey and stuffing is much like my mother's. Also, Publix supermarket has the same stuffing for sale in an aluminum pan. When I worked at Verizon, their cafeteria roasted a wonderful turkey and made great stuffing. But buying the stuffing would not be the same.

My mom made a pan of cornbread and dried out slices of white bread the day before. She made broth by cooking the giblets. Then she sauteed lots of chopped onion and celery, crumbled the bread and added 1 egg, broth, salt and pepper and lots of dried sage. It was my job to taste for seasoning.

Over the years I have added apples, pecans, mushrooms and sausage (not all at the same time). Nowdays I use herbed stuffing crumbs and store-bought broth, but the rest of the recipe is very much the same as my mom's original including a little bit of cornbread. I leave out the extra stuff and strive for the perfect seasoning and texture. I make all the stuffing on the side now but with a lot of broth to keep it moist with just a bit of crunchy here or there.

My feast is spread out on a buffet table on the porch since it is usually very warm here in Florida. I have never been able to have the sparkling, beautifully set table that my sister-in-law does every Christmas. My fantasy is a big, white farmhouse with autumn leaves or a sprinkling of snow outside and a big, warm kitchen overflowing with family and a huge, shining dining table with candles. In real life, my kitchen will be overflowing mostly because it is so small, but also because many of my dear family and friends will be there. Some, but not all. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all. I will be thinking of all my fellow cooks and many Thanksgiving memories, happy and sad come Thursday morning.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I discovered a new blog on "Blogs of Note" that I just love. It is under my blog list called "On My Desk." It is a forum for professional artists to display their private workspaces and the projects they are working on. I am fascinated by this blog. I have always been interested in the unique styles of my friends and others I have read about. I think the most personal space of all is the one that evolves while we are busy working. That space is usually not meant to impress and might even say things about ourselves that we might not choose to convey.

Interestingly, my three friends who have their own businesses also have the most interesting work spaces which are as unique as they are. One friend has a second story studio near the court house in a small Kentucky town where she does typesetting, makes signs and creates homemade organic soap. Another is a computer and marketing professional (and jack of all trades) who has turned an extra bedroom into a spacious and organized office with a big desk turned toward the window. The third is a publisher, writer and mental health professional who works full time creating social skills programs for school systems. Two bedrooms have become busy offices which are full of computers, books and the antiques that she loves. The garage is organized with large shelves which hold all the supplies her business requires. I know for a fact that none of these people set out to "decorate" their work spaces and yet their indidual styles emerged.

All this is a round-about way to say I'm thinking of being an artist! I majored in journalism in college, I worked for many years as a typesetter, I like public speaking, I enjoy photography, but I have never thought of myself as an artist. Sure, I thought of taking painting lessons someday and learning to play the piano. Meanwhile, I discovered some things about myself since getting remarried and becomming unemployed a couple of years ago. I have always kept a daytimer kind of journal and I have always kept family photo albums, but once I discovered digital photography it was a whole new world. This blog fits my purposes so well. I love documenting my life especially with the grandkids and leaving behind a record of our time together. I need to get my daughter's help to incorporate music into this blog and I would like to update to a fax/scanner/printer combination so that I can scan old pictures and family documents for posterity.

What did I discover about myself? I like taking photographs of my grandchildren and I like cooking. Not very earth shaking, but there it is. Meanwhile, I am exploring digital photography with programs such as Photoshop which I used casually in my previous jobs. The pictures above are ones I have created with a simple filter to make them look like paintings. These are the paintings I would do if I had the skills. In fact, I would love to figure out how to get poster-sized prints and embellish them with touches of paint. I would like to sell them at the art shows and outdoor concerts that I love so much. That whole business side and the part about making a profit has me stumped right now, but I am enjoying the process.

P.S. In order to see the detail, you need to click on the photograph. I paid to enlarge one to 20" x 30" poster size just to see how it would look. It came out the way I wanted, but cost way to much to process. If you are interested, look up the other posts labeled "inspiration" to see some of my other ideas. Imagine waiting until you are 61 to dare to think of yourself as an artist!

Sorry to ramble on for so long. Tomorrow I will share what my own work space looks like.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Temple Terrace Art Show 2009

Boardwalk, Hillsoborough River

My favorite art show every year is held in a beautiful park on the Hillsborough river. The weather is wonderful and there is always an amazing group of artists. Very good water color, oil and photography artists, jewelry, textiles, entertainment and "fair food". This year there was a tent that sold jewelry set with pieces of broken china. Even better, the shop was decorated in shabby chic style with chandeliers featuring china cups instead of glass globes. I wish I had gotten a better picture. The most amazing artist to me is featured above. He works with fine metal screen, bending and forming it into a sculptural shapes. Besides being beautiful, the works cast amazing shadows. The work is very much like 3-dimensional line drawing in which the artist was schooled. He explained to me how the screen works in a similar way to "cross-hatching" which is a technique to create shading and dimension in a drawing. You really have to see this in person to appreciate it. I have looked everywhere for the artist's card and I regret that I cannot find it. I am including a link to the Temple Terrace Arts Council, however, if you are interested in his work.

Pictures below are Cory and Jonah at the zoo. Jill and Mia were there, too. First time Cory went with us and I was glad to have him there with all 3 kids at once.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wubbzy Birthday party

Dancing Wubbzy

Jill, Briel and Princess Mia

Blowing out the candle - Erica, Jill, Connor, Sean, Mia and Jaime

Playground and picnic table

Jonah's favorite - the dock. He caught two fish.

Wubbzy cake made by Jaime and Wubbzy cupcakes made by Publix. (Jaime's was better)

Wubbzy is Mia's favorite right now. PePaw brought her "Wubbzy Halloween" DVD which she has been watching non-stop. It was a beautiful day and the party went great. Our friends Karin and Alan reserved their neighborhood park. Jaime grilled hot dogs at a table under the tree and Jonah hung out all day long on the dock with the firshermen. Mia, Briel and Jill played on the playground and had a ball. Sean, Vannon, Connor, Erica, Papa Jerry and many friends and family were there.