Sunday, December 31, 2006

Don't want to forget to say...

Alton Brown kinda scares me...

I got 'I'm Just Not Here for the Food-baking' cookbook from Food Network's Alton Brown for Christmas, at my request. I think Alton is pretty cool on his show and has a way with words and explaining things down to every minute detail. I knew he'd do the same thing with a baking book. Many people, Rachael Ray included (is she a bit overexposed these days-down to the Triscuit box?) are afraid of baking. Alton explains that baking is an 'exact' science. You can't go around messing with how much butter you put in your batter as you will mess with the formula. Cooking is different-you can toss in a little more, say chili powder to your pot of chili and it will still be basically chili.
Alton suggests a few things that made me rethink the way I've been baking for over 30 years. For instance, you should really be weighing your ingredients instead of scooping them out of the flour jar, etc. He suggests getting a digital scale in your kitchen. He also aerates his flour with his food processor before he uses it in the recipe. I always skipped even sifting it, but he doesn't like sifting-the food processor 'fluffs up' the flour. And did you know there are different mixing techniques? I really screwed up mixing the first time I used my KitchenAid when I decided to make muffins. I should have never used a mixer for muffin batter. I incorporated too much gas in the muffins and their lids fell flat.
I am learning many new things. Alton does include measuring we are all familiar with, but I am thinking about getting a scale now. There are oddles of new ideas in this book. If you like to bake and want to be more of a pro at it or even learn new techniques (like me), I'd invest in this excellent and informative book.
I guess I'm not really scared of Alton, I just need to try things in a new way.

Bri shots

Bri told me I could have had the camera set at a different setting for my Longwood Garden photos. Too bad he didn't show me how to set it and I may have gotten better shots. He still has some shaky shots from a slow shutter, but these I really liked (from last night)

The front door-has a spot light on the very light reflective wreath

Looking through the front window-some of the snowbabies can be seen, but the tree looks pretty too!

No flash, just tree lights

Looking at the house from the long side of the yard

He redeemed himself a little taking these awesome shots, but I'm still mad about the basement. So much work to do!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

ABCs of me

When I got up this morning there was almost a near disaster. I knocked into something on the end table and it hit Brian's coffee mug (which I begged him never to place over my cross stitch stuff). Most of what was left in the mug went on the rug (oh great) and an old mailing envelope. I found a dot of coffee (so far) on a scrap piece of white aida. Whew.
Brian decided to move his childhood desk into the bathroom in the basement. He has some attachment to a rather ugly piece of furniture. It doesn't look right in there. The reason he moved it is that I want to set up a big table for crafting in a finished room we have. The problem is the room is loaded with junk-mostly old toys! So he just pulled the desk out and everything fell over. I sure hope I can use the room and my allergies won't get the best of me. I can at least start projects down there and store my gifts on the table. I can't have them in my small bedroom anymore.
Brian had on the funeral service for Gerald Ford earlier. One funeral was enough for me in one week. I wonder if Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford were there as they were pals with the Fords? Katie Couric and another reporter were saying that Ford and Jimmy Carter were friends too. I didn't know that.

The ABC's of me -nabbed from Barbara's blog, Mainly Stitching.
A - Available or single?:

Married a long time : )
B - Best Friend?:
Bri as male, Mom as female
C - Cake or pie?:

Devil's food cake with white icing or
yellow cake with chocolate icing
D - Drink of choice?:
Always brewed iced tea with lemon and the pink stuff
E - Essential item I use every day:
My computer.
F - Favorite color?:
G - Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms?:

Neither-bad for my crowns
H - Hometown?:

Media, PA
I - Indulgence?:

A box of chocolates I make last a few months
or gift moola that I can blow in on anything
J - January or February?:
February because of Valentine's Day
K - Kids and names?:
Sean Matthew
M - Marriage date?:
April 14, 1984
N - Number of siblings?:
3 brothers
O - Oranges or apples:
Apples all the way
P - Phobias or fears?:

Big spiders, low laying snakes
Q - Favorite quote:
Take it one day at a time.
R - Reasons to smile:
A funny show or movie that tickles me and whoever is watching it. Giving a gift someone really loves.
S - Season:
T - Tag 3 or 4 people:
Anyone who reads this and wants to try it.
U - Unknown fact about me:
I couldn't hardly type before we got a computer in '93.
V - Vegetable you don’t like:

W - Worst habit:
Procrastination-but I usually do whatever I am holding off doing.
X - X-Rays?:
Had a few
Y - Your favorite food?:

Chocolate or lobster
Z - Zodiac sign?: Scorpio

Photo hunt-NEW


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A few nights ago, I went to a gorgeous place called Longwood Gardens and got to try out our new
camera. The first fountain is part of the newly renovated part of the conservatory. I took an awesome photo of the pair of these last year. The second photo is a shell fountain at the Pierre DuPont home on the property. At least I have a theme going here. : )

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sad end of the year

The three of us got up at the crack of dawn-no light-not our time of day at all. It's cold and dark. But we did it for our family and to remember dear Aunt Berenice. We took separate vehicles as I went to get my mom and the guys had to be at the church a little earlier. It was nice to have quiet on the way down and not hear complaining about the early rising, etc.
B had 11 members of her immediate family there before her closed casket (what she wanted). They were pretty good, but Aunt Sue was a mess. She and B had been like sisters. The entire 25+ yrs I have know her, I haven't seen her that upset. It was a nice mass with the priest recalling a newlywed B cooking ham and cabbage for the first time and forgetting to take it out of the can. : )
Mom and I didn't go to the cemetery, but we drove around a little. Mom wanted to see the house that she lived in for 15 yrs in the same town. We were holding our breath, and lo and behold, it was still there and being renovated much to our surprise! I think that made my mom feel good.
We went to the family home (B's daughter, s-in-l and two kids lived with her). Gerry, her daughter had beautifully decorated the entire place for Christmas-every nook and cranny. I was wondering if she would and she had started a few months ago. I never saw so many Christmas arrangements! I don't plan to take my stuff down until January 6th or so-we call it 'Little Christmas'. I go to a lot of trouble to decorate and taking it down too soon just won't do. The only things that may come down earlier are the outdoor stuff.
So we visited a little and then headed home. Mom wanted to see her old friend's house in the same town. We didn't know that Bri and Sean were following behind us. They were wondering why we were turning here and there. Ha!
I left about 2:30 from mom's and got stuck in a lot of traffic. I stopped off at Borders to get a few 50% off calendars-a watercolor one for mom and crochet, Victorian fairy and origami ones for me!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Longwood Gardens 2006

My mom, sister-in-law, her mom and Kenny and Tori came out to our house so the kiddos could open their gifts from us. Tori got a Tinkerbelle 'head' lamp as her main gift. Kenny got an assortment of t-shirts (his favorite thing to wear) and drawing stuff. I had chili, chicken salad tea sandwiches, ham pasta salad, fruit salad and pastries as snacks before we went to Longwood Gardens. It was jammed packed and Sean and I had to walk at least 1/2 mile to get to the front door. My mom and Colleen's mom got pushed around in wheelchairs, though the kids got a ride when we went into the conservatory. I was using the new camera and it's hard to get good nighttime shots-I deleted a bunch, but downloaded 60 photos! Here are some of my favorites-

Me and Tori in the main conservatory
Some of the outdoor lights
Stars on the ceiling of the main conservatory
White tulips
Blue tree outdoors
I finally went over to the 'side window' and got my frequent visitor pass so I can go as much as I want. We didn't get to see the ice skating there which is new this year. We may go again next week. I got tonight's visit taken off the price. : )

Monday, December 25, 2006

A nice Christmas eve

Kenny, Tori and Sean on Christmas eve
Part of my brother Ken's finished kitchen/family room. He put the stone work around the gas fireplace himself. That's a flat screen tv over the fireplace. They had two trees, the other real one is in the next photo.
Tori and me wearing our paper crowns from our Christmas crackers-an English tradition. I happen to find some in a dollar store.
Tori and a Belle doll I gave her.
Brian's aunt has left us a message on the answering machine and she sounded a little disoriented. She told us that Brian's other aunt, Berenice passed away on Saturday. She had dementia and had gone down to 50 some pounds. She died at home with everyone around her. She was a dear woman who smiled with her eyes and always made you feel at home in her beautiful Victorian home. Her son and husband were Brian's teachers where he went to high school. Aunt Sue said she looked at peace at the end. Her funeral is Thursday and Brian and Sean will be pallbearers.
We went to a lovely (but warm) midnight mass service in Delaware last night. The music was wonderful and I couldn't keep my eyes off an urn on the altar with white, olive green and deep pink colors. Branches that stuck out of the top were white.
We got to sleep about 2 am and I slept better! : )

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Please help yourself

Lots of hard work-Butter crisco chocolate chips, white chocolate chip fruit (dried cranberries and apricots) cookies, Russian teacakes, Rum Raisin Cheesecake bars, Deluxe Lemon bars, Microwave peanut brittle, date meringue cookies and chocolate nut fudge. Opps-forgot the 7 layer cookies!
We're off to my brother's house in a few hours. I don't know what to wear, but it's going to be a casual get-together with good food. I made Ken his requested Apple Cake with Rum sauce. I also have to bring a Caesar salad (I cooked some shrimp to toss in).
I'm surviving on pure adrenline as I haven't gotten to sleep until 3 am or later the last few nights. I keep thinking what I have to do in my head all night. Sometimes it would be so great to have people who live here who like to cook-ha! They're talking about midnight mass too. I'd probably be awake already!
Have a lovely Christmas eve!
Watch for new photos here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Photo Hunt-Lines


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My cat seems to be the purrfect subject matter for Photo Hunt lately. My son Sean took this of Cosmo's pretty striped/lined tail. Brian took the one of Cosmo last week in the Santa hat. It's this or the curtain. If I see anything better, I'll post it-but enjoy the hairy lines. : )

Friday, December 22, 2006


I guess it's safe to post these as three of the five (as far as I know) have received them. These were for my pals over at Six of us are pretty close and in the last few months we have been sending mail art to each other. I decided not to do paper for the ornament exchange and do what I do best-cross stitching! I used my sewing machine to finish them off. With the stuffing I added some blue spruce pine needles that smell like citrus. They really like them which makes me smile. I was working on them when I was getting over my tummy bug, so that helped me recover.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gift giver quiz

You Are a Practical Gift Giver

Your gifts are useful, appropriate, and custom tailored to each person.
In your opinion, the best gifts are gifts that someone will actually use.
Your gifts may not be the most glamourous, but they are always appreciated.

Wrapping marathon

That's all I've been doing. I wrap for all one person, and move on to the next. I want my niece and nephew to have their own special paper too. I'm almost finished-I have a few of my nephew's gifts to wrap and my father-in-law's. Brian and Sean only have to wrap gifts for me (and Sean for his dad and grandparents). Then I stick bows on the packages or use pretty ribbons to finish them up. I don't do bows until the last minute as they like to pop off, so I have to use tape to hold them on. Plus who likes a squooshed up bow?
Here are a few things I thought you'd like to see:

I've been trying to finish this little bear ornament since high school! It only needed a few stitches and assembly, which I did yesterday. I redid the mouth and metallic stripes on the drum. And I added the fringe to the scarf. Those are my initials from 1976! I did learn how to make cording too. : )

This is a gift for my mom. My brother Dave had uploaded a bunch of slides from the 1950s he found, and this was one of them. That's Ruth and Alan-Christmas 1954 (we think). So besides Christmas, why the photo in a frame? I took a few of their good china (what was left of it is just little chipped cake plates) and smashed them up to make mosaic pieces. So although the dishes are pretty much gone, here is a sample of the grape pattern with even the maker in a chard of the china-one the bottom there. Let me tell you, it was hard to break up! The grout should dry a bit lighter. This is a my favorite photo of them. My 'pop pop' died when I was 6 weeks old-a long time ago!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photo enhancements

I took the following photos with our new camera. I'm still learning, but I think these aren't too bad (click to make bigger too):

Sean in his room

Glass ball hanging in family room bay window

The red amaryllis in almost full bloom

(ignore the dust on the blue light fixture please) ; )

Young Frankenstein gone

I meant to add this to my blog last week. I wanted to say how sorry I was to hear of the passing of Peter Boyle-the dad from 'Everyone Loves Raymond'. Patricia Heaton, who played his daughter-in-law, was on Conan last night and she had just attended his funeral that day. Peter was from Norristown, PA, about an hour from here. I heard he was interested in becoming a priest at one time. As he got older, he reminded me of my Uncle Don in looks and mannerisms. My favorite role of his-Frankenstein and his dance number 'Puttin' on the Ritz'.

Playing with the Rebel

Our new camera was on the front door step this morning! We hope it wasn't there all night, but I think it arrived first thing. It's like an old-fashioned camera, but it's digital. I was putting the battery and CF card in place (we have to use a CF card we have already-silly me thought the company forgot to send it). I did take some photos, but we don't have the software on the computer yet. I have to figure out why it works 'some of the time' on the auto and all of the time on 'P', meaning, it shows the image on the LED screen on the back.
I'm really bushed from baking yesterday. I may get out in the kitchen sooner or later. I know what I'm making for dinner though. It was from Martha Stewart's Food magazine-cauliflower and pasta. I just happen to buy a big head of it the other day.
I may tidy up the boxes of Christmas things I pulled out over a week ago. I didn't get all the ornaments I like on the tree-like Mister Winking gold moon, but I think I better wrap gifts soon!
Watch for some photos soon!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Camera phone capture

There's actually a lot more going on here, but I had my little camera phone and that's it. Sean also took a photo with his phone and if it's better, I'll switch. This was a few days before I got sick and I just got around to sending it to myself tonight. It's not my house, but a house in the next town. I made chocolate chips and 7 layer cookies this afternoon. I am not use to an efficient oven and I had to watch the cookies better than I had in the past (I had a system where I would turn the cookie sheet around so they would evenly brown-no worry now). My first batch ran a bit, so the next batch had more flour in it. Did I say it was close to 70 degrees outside today-it's the 18th of Dec!! So my kitchen was very, very warm. It's great having a dual oven. Tomorrow or the next day I have about 3 more kinds lined up to do.
My cooking duties for Christmas eve aren't too bad-Caesar Salad and Apple cake with rum icing (as requested by my brother). Now that one seemed too dense when I made it, so I'll have to watch the batter this time. I may add a little shrimp to the salad and I'm looking for a nice dressing recipe.

Christmastime visitors

My mom and Jim came over last night after visiting my Uncle Don. Did I forget to tell you he is home now? He has a lady come in 3 times a week to clean, etc. but he is doing better. I think every 3 weeks the agency has to review his 'case' to see if he still needs help.
So, mom wanted to make sure she got here this year to see my house and tree as she wasn't driving much last year. She told me seeing my tree put her in the Christmas spirit. I told her that's what I was aiming for. I cleaned most of the weekend, so I am pretty tired today. I do plan to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies in a few hours and see where that leads me. I have a feeling my 'baking' mode will kick in and I'll go to town in my new kitchen. I had Mom and Jim stay for a pork tenderloin cooked with roasted potatoes, (which I really felt like eating-my sickness last week has put me in a food jag) carrots and also green beans. They enjoyed their dinner. The guys were watching the Eagles football game, so we ate in shifts.
After Mom left, she stopped at Big Lots and was in there an hour. Here I thought she was almost home and she was shopping! She mentioned Sean's name and the manager there overheard her and said he was waiting for Sean to call him! So I guess he was well liked. Sean may work a few weeks in January at the store if they need him. Speaking of Sean, he has a final today-math and then the dreaded Biology one tomorrow.
Wish me luck in my cookie making attempts!
To Carole-I'll be thinking of you on your journey. I tried to say something on your blog, but I got knocked off. Thanks for sharing about Jesse. I have a friend who had a similar pregnancy. I had a miscarriage the summer before Sean was born, but I was only about 6 weeks along.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gorgeous Amaryllis

This was forced on my new kitchen window and will get about 5 7 blooms! I thought the Christmas tree as a background looked nice.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Photo Hunt-Annoying


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Well, can you think of an animal that would be more annoyed by forcefully having to wear a Santa hat? Well it's annoying to Cosmo kitty!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Home Cmas Tour Celebration

Welcome to my humble home. : ) I'm not really finished, but I promise to add more photos. We have a red and white candy cane theme going on out front with a few snowmen thrown in for good measure. I just strung the hedge lights yesterday. That's our new window which looks so nice inside, just wait and see!

I have a collection of snowbabies in the front window. That's buffalo snow underlit with white lights. In the middle is a giant glass mushroom. We do live in the heart of mushroom country.

My winter wonderland tree with blue and white lights.

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A newer shot with more ornaments-missing the bottom row of lights which were replaced!

My feather tree with hand cross stitched ornaments. That's a real feather wreath on the wall and vintage Santas under it.

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This is a 'Martha Washington' cabinet that belonged to my grandmom. I stitched the Santa with the green border and found the other at a tag sale.

Let's go shopping with the B and A

I would have loved to tag along and seen what they bought in this artsy store in NYC.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just like Barbara!

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

I need flowers all year round

Also for Works for me Wednesday....
Waiting on the red amaryllis in the new kitchen garden window. I found two more bulbs in my basement and they won't give me any blooms, they are just sprouting leaves. I wonder why? Anyone know? (see one of them in the left corner there).
I had to show you the blooms on one of my many African Violets. So pretty. I usually treat these plants very poorly-sorry gals (they are too pretty to be boys). A few times a year, they get their leaves trimmed and some get repotted. I will give them plant food once a month. I guess this is my reward.
I also love Christmas cacti- I showed you one that was blooming last month.
I'm doing better. My tummy is still wondering what happened. It's gurgling like crazy. I've been doctoring it with Activia yogurt and some bland food. I really need to get to the post office soon as I don't want to be in the mile long lines next week. I almost went today, but decided I didn't want to risk feeling funny. I am going to get my hair done in a few hours if all is well after dinner. The hair stylist is about a 1 mile away from here and I just have to sit there and be patient. Hair fixin' does a girl good!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An uplifting gift

Recovering from my bug was a little hard today, but I managed to take a shower and wash some laundry. Cooking was out of the question. It hurts to sneeze even!
This afternoon I received a lovely ornament from Veronica who lives in England. She doesn't have internet access, so decided she would send a long this perfectly constructed ornie to me along with her Cmas card. Wow, it really brightened my day. Thanks Veronica (her daughter Su knows all about this and will tell her). I need to get a card off to her promptly! : )

And my faux feather tree where I am adding my collection of ornaments. I made 3 of them, 3 were given to me and one I found at the Goodwill. Above it is my real feather wreath which I may embellish a bit. Below the tree are some 'vintage' Santas and a mug that was Sean's when he was about 2. His photo is an insert.

A virtual greeting

This is pretty neat, a friend sent me one and I made my own. Everyone that is made is a 50¢ donation to breast cancer research.

Pulled through a knot hole

Yesterday I got that terrible tummy bug that is going around. I hadn't been that sick for 6 yrs. I even went to the doctor, not sure how I did (Brian took me). My father-in-law and nephew had it, so be careful in crowds and public restrooms. I think I picked it up Friday. Anyway, my almost 101 temp broke at 4 this morning. After I took the nausea med, what bothered me like crazy were my knees and legs. I broke down and took a couple of Tylenols which helped a bit. Now I'm on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).
I am now behind on things-finishng the tree and other decorating, the outside decorating and mailing things. I told Bri I was glad it wasn't the 22nd! I hope they both don't get it and Bri doesn't feel well today though he went to work. He may be just worn out from running to the store for me 4 times yesterday!
My tummy is bothering me the other way this morning, so hopefully I am on the road to recover. Cos the cat didn't like seeing me so miserable and laying the wrong way in bed. Today he wants to snuggle with me.
Thanks for your comments on my mosiac ornies and tree. I actually added two huge balls to the top-a silver one and an icy blue one with snowflakes on it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Blue Christmas

It looks even brighter in person-the guys aren't use to those LED 'white' lights (the bigger bulbs). I have a few shades of blue more in the middle. I am still looking through ornaments for clear ones, white ones and snowflakes or balls!

Brian is always trying to win over the cat! I see my mosaic ball right under Bri's elbow there. : )

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