Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Resolve

It's that time of year when we take stock of our lives and resolve to do better....... a ritual of sorts. Here are mine; I resolve to.......

1. be more patient with Jim..........and store clerks..............and telemarketers.............well, maybe not telemarketers. And I'll be more patient with myself. Having occasional goof-off days is not a sin, necessarily.

2. lose 10 pounds. This is the same 10 pounds I've been losing since I was 30 years old. It comes and goes. Mostly comes.

3. spend less time on the computer, right after I check who's on FaceBook, answer some emails, transfer some money to PayPal, play for a while in PhotoShop, watch a movie on NetFlix, place an order on, check my bids on Ebay, post in a few forums, do a little online research, and finish this blog.

4. exercise everyday. Well, I can take weekends off; 5 days a week would be good. But you know they say to alternate days of exercise, so every other day would work even better. Tuesdays and Thursdays.............definitely Thursdays.

5. spend less money, unless I get depressed and need some shopping therapy, or Dillards has a great clothing or shoe sale, or if I see something I simply can't live without at full price.

6. be less judgmental of others unless they're obviously idiots or evil or in politics or on TV, in which case they've got it coming.

7. spend more time with Jim. I like watching him sleep in the recliner.............. it's a bonding experience.

8. stop giving advice to my family; they've never followed my advice, anyway; I usually don't either.

9. let my hair grow out. I'm married to the only man on the planet who likes short haired women; he'll have to adjust.

10. give up a habit.....let's see, I don't smoke; alcohol mostly just makes me feel bad. My generation doesn't do drugs. I can't have sugar or chocolate because of the migraines. Maybe I'll take up a frickin' habit in 2010 so I can give it up next year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la

Christmas is almost here! And the weather has turned off wet, windy and bitterly cold......well, bitterly so for the mid-south. We don't do cold very well. With the first half-dozen fluffy snow flakes, schools close down, and Wal-Mart sells out of bread and milk, as if we expected to be snowed in for weeks. If we get any accumulation at all, it's usually gone by noon the next day. I only remember one White Christmas in my whole life, and I'll tell you about that soon. It was magical, one of those Christmases we keep in our hearts for life.

But I'm still adding little Christmasy touches around the house, haven't put up the tree yet (except for the Charlie Brown tree, a ficus hung with gold balls, the ceramic tree, 3 wire mesh trees, and 3 tiny green trees decorated with miniature ornaments on bathroom lavatories) or wrapped all the presents, but Lord willin' it will all get done. And I'm praying that this isn't a snowy or icy Christmas because we're having the family at our house this year, and it's about a 2 hour drive to get here.

Jim brought me some live mistletoe from the ranch were he hunted in Texas. He always touches my heart with the little gifts of plants, rocks or branches he brings me, and the fact that most of the leaves blew off in the back of his truck made me love the bedraggled little green clumps even more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Decorating with Friends

Rita asked Sybil and me over to help decorate her house for Christmas. (That's them in the pics.) Amid all the goofing off, silly talk and laughter, we actually did get a lot accomplished, and then she took us out for lunch and a quick trip to a local florist (note the lovely turquoise wreath) where I stole, or uh borrowed, a few ideas and bits of inspiration. That's why God created pocket cameras, for goodness sake.

Not much to report in the way of technique, but I promised I would share photos. Behind the house is an old red barn, trimmed in white, built by Rita's grandfather, and we made a huge green wreath with a red bow for it, but then we wimped out on climbing the long wooden ladder to hang it. That's why God created husbands.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Here's our front door, all decked out for Christmas. First, I hung a lighted garland over it (Actually Jim & I hung it; he's such a gentleman that the sight of me on top of the ladder with a hammer in my hand disturbs him.) Then I began attaching the floral mesh to it by gathering bunches of it and securing them with the wire fronds of the garland. Finally, I attached the big balls. I'm not sure how stable they are. I just hope friends or family don't get conked on the head when they come to visit.

I'm getting together with Sybil and Rita to play some more with the floral mesh, this time making wreaths. I'll post a photo of mine, however it turns out. We went to a Christmas decorating workshop the other day at a nursery open house. The only tip I learned was to begin at the corner of the fabric in order to get a bias pouffiness (I wonder if that's a word...) from it.

I've also hung quite a few lights. If I get any good photos of them, I'll share them, too, red ones on the front porch and green in the back, so many that Jim said planes may mistake the deck for a landing strip.........

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rusty Stars

I bought this rusty star garland in Canton, Texas last summer. It's one of those decorator elements that looks interesting any time of year, and for Christmas, I added a few blue balls. It just makes me happy looking at it.

I have a friend who has lots of free time on her hands and a gorgeous, big new home that she wants to decorate herself, but she doesn't trust her own abilities or taste, and I was thinking about what it takes to create home decor, or any art for that matter. There are some professions where the licensed, trained practitioners want us to believe that what they do requires a special commission from God, and they've sold that notion to many of us. The most valuable thing I inherited from my mother was the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. Now mind you, this bravado has taken me down some long and winding roads where I floundered and eventually decided that I wasn't committed enough to devote the time to learning that it required, so I was on to my next adventure, but I honestly don't recall ever thinking I couldn't do something.

One of my favorite quotes says, "Creativity is allowing ourselves to make mistakes; art is knowing which ones to keep." So, I s'pose that believing I can do most anything frees me to see my mistakes not as failures but as additions to my garland of things that won't work......yet another learning experience, another rusty star.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deck the Halls

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I started my Christmas music Playlist today, hope you like the songs. I love Christmas decorations, and I've begun adding Christmasy touches here and there. I would rather decorate a little at a time than try to do it all in one day, and I'll share some of it with you as I go along. Then maybe you'll come help me undecorate after Christmas. Right.

My friend, Bonnie, gave me my first glass block gift, which I thought was simply gorgeous, and since then I've made 2 others, with at least one more in the works. You either have to drill the hole in the side where you insert the lights or buy pre-drilled blocks. I've bought a glass drill bit, and the block on the right side of the mantle is waiting to be drilled........If I don't get around to it this Christmas, chances are there will be other Christmases. It's best to frost the 4 sides of the block so that the lighting wires don't show so much; I used etching cream, but there are lots of ways to frost glass. Then tie the block up in some beautiful, wired ribbon, and you're done. I've bought a few actual Christmas gifts, but they're not wrapped yet. Don't you just love this time of year??

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Can Cook Lobster!

This is a quickie blog post about cooking that I wanted to share with you. Jim doesn't care for lobster, and we don't have to eat the same things, but it's easier, so I've always passed by the big ol' lobster tails at Sam's till this week while Jim is at camp. On a whim, I picked up a package and brought it home, then began to have second thoughts because I didn't know a thing about cooking them. Here comes YouTube to the rescue! There are several videos on the subject, but this one really appealed to me.

It's super easy to follow, takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, and my tails came out perfect! I ate one for dinner with a baked potato, fresh asparagus, and a Cesar salad and saved the other one to go in a salad tomorrow. They had been frozen but tasted really sweet and fresh. Who says you gotta go out to get great seafood?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things I learned at ArCA Conference

Well, I made it back home.
The Arkansas Counseling Association powers-that-be decided for us to gather this year in Fort Smith, as opposed to beautiful Hot Springs where we've met for years. I've never thought of Fort Smith as being a destination, just a rural Arkansas town stuck out there on the border between us and Oklahoma that you drive by to get somewhere else; when I entered the address into the GPS, the guide's voice said, "Why in heck would you want to go there?" But it turned out to be a pretty good conference, as conferences go, and I thought I would share a few bits of wisdom with you that I learned.

1. Don't wear fancy jeans to a conference. Sitting down most of the time, you're going to want to cross your legs some, and even though the jeans I wore on the first day, the ones with beaded designs down the legs, got compliments, crossing my legs was uncomfortable and also ruined the beading.

2. Some presenters show up every year, and I always sign-up for Roger Young's sessions. This year he talked about biofeedback, something I've known about but haven't really tried. I always have cold feet and hands, and he showed us how we can warm them up just by thinking about it, and in the process lower our stress. Remember mood rings? They're Galvanic Skin Response detectors; he used electronic gadgets, but mood rings are based on the same principle. As kids we thought they were magic, but they're actually reading the temperature of our skin. Mr. Young gave us a Stress Test, and mine showed I'm not very stressed, but back in the day, my test paper would have spontaneously combusted.

3. A hot topic this year was Internet Predators. People tell me I sound like a little girl on the phone, and I've always wanted to help the police to lure and capture perverts, so I got up the courage to ask the presenter how I could help, and he said private citizens can't get involved, only law, scratch that notion. Anyway, I won't ruin your day by sharing what he told us, but pedophilia is much more pervalent than you can imagine. It's one of those nasty realities that normal people try not to think about, and that's why the pervs are so free to move among us; the internet is their new "playground". Detective Ernest Ward made us leary of even going online because............ did you know that if you Google and accidentally bring up one of his watched sites, your IP address is automatically entered into his data base? Scary stuff! I remember years ago, looking online for a quote by Alan Alda about taking responsibility. I was going to use it in a classroom presentation. Somehow I ended up at a nude movie star site! Well, these days, I don't guess butt nekkid movie stars are that big a deal, but I'm just sayin'.

4. Sometimes I'll choose a session that I know won't all be sitting, like the one on Brain Gym. Brenda Wood had us romping around and doing movements that had us all giggling but would be even more fun to do with little ones. The exercises are supposed to reconnect parts of the brain that we need for focusing and learning; mine haven't been connected in so long that they're no longer on a first name basis, but I plan on buying the book to see what Ian, Mollie and Rani think about it. You can find it on

5. Choosing between the offered sessions is a big deal, but by the third day, everyone, including the presenters, is on overload and very tired so it's best just to pick sessions on the ground floor and nearest the front door, car keys at the ready..........

I did get inspired to try some new artsy things that I'll most likely share with you later.
Hugz, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bright Side of the interview with Anne Marie Bennett

Today I'm honored to share with you a brief book review and an interview with author, Anne Marie Bennett. As I read her book, Bright Side of the Road, I had to deal with my own emotions because the women in my family have been ravaged by cancer. I've lost two aunts to breast cancer, my mother had a mastectomy, and another aunt deals with recurring leukemia. Anne is also an artist, which is how I connected with her, and I believe her artistic vision, in large part, helped to define her attitude in dealing with this harrowing detour in her life's journey. Readers will be humbled and inspired by her gentle, positive acceptance of her role in dealing with cancer. This blog is a little longer than my usual posts, but I hope you'll get yourself a cookie and a cup of something warm to drink as you tarry for just a little while longer and read Anne's take a topic most of us try not to think about at all.

The book is written in journal style:
"Thursday February 28
A bright and windy day shines through the window as I settle myself at the kitchen table, warm in my sweatpants and large red sweater. A bagel with jelly, a mug of decaf with cream, and my empty journal laden with possibilities are spread out before me, along with several half-finished art projects. What shall I do today? The thought of all this uncluttered time ahead of me is very healing."

Q. Anne, I believe in creative visualization and positive self-talk. How much of the outcome of your recovery journey do you attribute to your positive outlook?

A. My surgical procedures, chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy allowed me to be physically healed, but I also found myself in need of emotional and spiritual healing, wounded by my fears and by my uncertainty about the future, confronting loss on several levels, and struggling in quicksand when it came to my relationship with Spirit at the beginning of my journey. So my emotional and spiritual recovery was based largely on my ability to accept my feelings and change my thoughts (my definition of positive outlook).

Q. A great deal of our fear of breast cancer is the prospect of losing our hair or having our bodies disfigured. Can you please speak to this and how you dealt with it?

A. My own journey took me through several physical changes. I gained a lot of weight, lost my hair (and not just on my head!), got catapulted into early menopause and lost my libido. Trust me, I was not happy about ANY of this!

For me, my resistance to those physical changes disappeared the day I realized (about halfway through the journey) that I couldn’t do anything about it. I was on this journey, and this is just how things were. I could waste a whole lot of energy bemoaning the fact that I didn’t look like I used to, or I could just relax and go with the flow. It became almost like a game to me, finding the bright side of any situation, especially the baldness. What could be good about not having hair? Well, I saved a lot of money at the drug store, not having to buy conditioner and styling products! Also, I saved a lot of time every morning and there was a great freedom in that, not having to purposely “look good” every day.

Also, my left breast was still present but deformed because of the two lumpectomies and lymph node surgery; I felt lopsided and ugly in my own skin, and I’d never felt that way before. In the last chapter of Bright Side of the Road, I describe my experience at a Women Living with Breast Cancer Retreat at Kripalu which is a center for yoga and health in the Massachusetts Berkshires. At the end of that retreat weekend, we all got into a hot tub together, after placing temporary tattoos on our cancer-torn bodies. And right then, stepping into that swirling, frothy water with 17 other women whose bodies were in equal or worse disrepair… I suddenly realized… I really got the fact that it’s what’s inside of me that’s way more important than what I look like. Because I had grown to love all of those women in the course of the weekend, and it didn’t matter one iota to me whether or not they had one breast, or two breasts, or deformed breasts, or scars on their belly or legs from reconstructive surgery. They were who they were because of what was inside of them. That was a huge awakening moment to me, a sacred moment of realization.

Q. It's been said that we're fully actualized only when we can thank God for our challenges. Elsewhere online you mentioned "angels rearranging your soul furniture". How has this experience changed and/or blessed your life?

A. Yes, a friend of mine in college used to say that about any big thing any of us were going through. I always loved that, and wish I knew where he was right now to thank him for that beautiful image! I used to read about people who lived through cancer or some other traumatic event, and if they said things like That was the best thing that ever happened to me, or I am grateful that this happened to me, I thought they might seriously be a little bit crazy. But now I seem to be one of those people!

I can honestly say that my breast cancer journey has both changed and blessed my life in some beautiful ways. First of all, I changed my priorities. I was given the gift of several months off from my full-time job, which was no longer serving my needs for creativity and joy. My time off, although filled with fatigue from my treatments, reminded me of my passion for writing and art. So I went back to that job part time and actually left it three years later so I could pursue my creative work full-time instead. I never thought I would say this, but my my cancer gave me more than it took away. I was given love and support from family and friends that surprised me and was soothing to my soul. I was given a closer connection with Spirit. My practices of gratitude and meditation gave me a whole new outlook on life.

Q. Most of us have experienced the letter or phone call to go back for a second mammogram, and we panic and begin bargaining with God and mentally rewriting our wills. Please talk about your emotions after being told you actually had cancer.

A. What immediately entered my mind was absolute terror. It was completely surreal. My thoughts went something like this: I can’t believe this is happening to me. I don’t WANT this to be happening to me. I don’t have time for this. Am I going to die? Get the cancer OUT of my body. And really, my immediate response was fear. I know some women whose basic emotion was anger, but I didn’t feel much anger. I cried a lot those first few days (just ask my husband!), until my next appointment with my doctor where we created a treatment plan of action. After that I felt a little better and decided that breast cancer wasn’t going to kill me, it was just going to be one more interesting thing about me.

Q. You've looked at life from both sides now, Anne. Please share with us how to be helpful to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Did you want people asking about it, or would you rather they had just acted as if everything was "normal"?

A. This is a really good question, Cat. Every person is different, but I will tell you how it was for me. After I was diagnosed, I chose to tell everyone I knew about my cancer. It’s important to remember that this is a choice that a cancer patient makes. I really didn’t have to tell anyone except my husband and my boss, but a breast cancer survivor I met online confided in me that she had told everyone about her cancer and was glad she did because she received support from some surprising places. I’m a very private person, so that was a huge leap of faith for me to do the same!

So… if someone has told you they have breast cancer (or any serious illness), that is not something to take lightly. This is a conscious choice that they made, to include you on their journey. You should feel honored that they have trusted you with this part of their life.

I actually didn’t mind when people asked me about what I was going through. It made me feel like they were interested, and I preferred specific questions (Do you like your doctors? How often do you have to have chemo? Have you lost any hair yet?) to the main one that most people asked me which was: How are you feeling? And this was mainly because most of the time I felt like a washed-out version of my former self, and I really didn’t like saying that over and over again.

Also, I really liked it when people saw past the cancer and asked me questions about my normal life (ie: what I was reading or how Jeff’s kids were doing or what kind of art project I was working on). These kinds of questions reminded me that I wasn’t just a cancer patient, that cancer didn’t completely define me. These kinds of questions made me feel seen on a real soul level.

Q. I want to pass my copy of Bright Side of the Road along to someone else, but I'm not sure when would be the best time. My sister knows a lady who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, but we thought that a book about chemo, surgery, and hair-loss right now might be too much for her. On the other hand, I have a former student who is a survivor, and I thought of giving it to her, but once it's behind them, maybe people would rather just get on with living and not dwell on the past.

A. When I was first diagnosed, I read every book about breast cancer that I could get my hands on. But there was no book quite like Bright Side of the Road, which is the main reason I wrote it… it’s the book I wish I had had while I was going through my own surgeries and treatments. So, I definitely would have liked it if someone had given me Bright Side of the Road at the beginning of my journey. And once it was behind me, I really didn’t want to read any more books about cancer right away. But it will be different for every woman. If you do give my book to someone at the beginning of her journey, she might read little bits of it here and there, maybe just start at the back, with the resources section. Or she might just use the guided meditation audio recording that comes with the book. In other words, she’ll read it in a way that is most helpful to her.

Thanks, Anne, for recording and sharing moments and insights from your courageous journey with us.

Anne Marie Bennett is a writer, self-taught collage artist, and website goddess. She has worked as a bookseller, sheet presser, library assistant, computer consultant, and in theatre management. She lives in eastern Massachusetts with her middle-aged husband (also a cancer survivor), two elderly cats and one very playful dog. She is happiest when she is reading, writing, breathing salt air, dancing, and hugging her beautiful grandchildren.
For more information about Anne Marie’s book, Bright Side of the Road: purchase the book:
Bright Side of the Road is also available on

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Desk Chair for the Young at Heart

This is an idea that I came up with, all on my own, thought I was totally brilliant, and then discovered by reading online that people have been doing it (with good results) for years. I have terrible posture, and I work and play a lot at my computer. No matter how hard I try to keep good posture, I always end up melting down till I'm sitting on my lower spine, legs stretched out in front of me on a little foot stool......not good. I also have the beginnings of arthritis in my upper back, and if you have joint or back pain, you know that all you want to do is find a comfortable position and vegetate there, but I'm trying to push myself to keep the spine as limber as possible. "Growing old ain't for sissies".

Well, I got this idea from reading about the balance ball chairs that sell for between $75-$150 (which is actually a bargain when you're looking at ergonomic chairs), and I had already added one that got great reviews to my shopping cart on, but then I decided to try just the ball by itself to see whether I might even like that way of sitting. After perching on it for part of a day, I took the chair out of my shopping cart because I can't imagine that the stationary one could compare with just the ball by itself because it's just that, stationary. On this one, I bounce, jab with my fists, roll around, dance when I'm listening to music, twist, balance with my legs up, stretch forward, backwards and to both sides. It's just fun, and all the info I can find online says it strengthens the core muscles with continued use, which means better overall balance and tighter abs........and now tell me, who among us couldn't use tighter abs? As for my posture, of course there's no back to lean against, so the constant moving around reminds me to sit up straight. When that gets tiresome, it's time to take a break anyway.

To try it out for yourself, choose a ball size that allows your upper legs to be parallel with the floor when your feet are planted firmly in front of you as your arms are also parallel with the floor when your hand is on the mouse, stylus, or keyboard; I got the 75cm one and then experimented with the amount of air till it felt right. Oh, and don't get rid of your office chair just yet; it's also recommended that you work your way up to using it full-time, beginning with just a few minutes at a stretch, so to speak. In the photo it looks really tall, but of course it squishes when I sit down on it; if I fall off of it, I won't post photos of the bruises..............

Some folks who use the exercise ball at their company office desk say they have to put up with a lot of kidding from co-workers, but all I have to contend with is Jim, and he's never too surprised at my ideas anymore. I wouldn't recommend the exercise ball to anyone who's really, really overweight, or to someone who has back or joint issues more serious than mine or are very unsteady. People have gotten hurt on these things, but then people have gotten hurt walking across the living room floor. I figure there's also more of a calorie burn than just sitting with my fanny glued to my stiff office chair, another win/win proposition..........and it cost $18. Where else are you gonna find a desk chair that lets you feel like a kid for any price?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sprouting Stuff

Happy Halloween! Today's blog has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween; I don't get into it since my son grew up, but I do have a cute Halloween sweatshirt that I wear once a year. Do I know how to live large or what?

I thought I would show you my sprouts. I've sprouted seeds for years, off and on. Right now I'm on and discovering ever more seeds, also beans and nuts to sprout. Did you know that sprouts can have up to 50% more nutrition than eating them unsprouted? I kid you not. Those dried lima, pinto, and navy beans in your pantry look sort of dead, huh? Chances are, they will sprout if given the right amount of moisture and TLC. The best ones I've done lately are lentils, good thing for me, since I kept buying them because they're healthy, and I can't stand the taste of them.......until I learned that they'll sprout! The sprouts are delicious. I also don't care much for broccoli, but I've ordered broccoli seeds to sprout, and fenugreek seeds (for enhanced immunity). I also buy mixed seed blends like mung/snow peas/chickpeas in the health food store, and those are yummy.

I love sprouts on salads mostly, but I also like smaller ones like alfalfa or radish on sandwiches. You can buy some interesting sprouting trays and kits, but I like various sized jars mostly, and you can cover them with special sprouting lids or with new nylon stocking net or cheese cloth and hold it on with rubber bands. I'm going to make some sprouting bags out of unbleached muslin, but I tried some little gift bags I had, and even though I washed them really well, the seeds immediately took on a strange odor, so I threw them away. Lesson learned. But I like sprouting my own, rather than buying them in stores because I know they were handled with care and with filtered water.

Place a couple of tablespoons of seeds in the sprouting container and rinse well, then cover with water and leave overnight. Next morning, pour off the soaking water and rinse again, draining as much water out as you can. You may leave them inverted, on a dish drainer for example, but I like mine right side up. Preferably twice a day but at least once a day, rinse and drain the seeds. They'll be plumper with each day. When delicate sprouts appear, I rinse and drain more gently. They don't need direct sunlight but near a window is fine. Kind, encouraging words are helpful as well. When they're ready, rinse and drain a final time and place them in the fridge. They will keep for 4 or 5 days, so you can judge when to start the next batch and always have fresh sprouts.

Along the way, you may discover whole jars of seeds that refuse to sprout or that the water remains milky, sour smelling, or bubbly. Throw these away (or put them in your compost bin) and start with a different variety. Occasionally the life force has left them, but they're inexpensive, you're not out much effort, and you'll have other jars bursting with happily sprouting seeds.

These are approximate sprouting times, depending on room temp, number of rinses, the age of your seeds, etc. Some seeds get bitter if they're allowed to sprout for too long.

Aduki.........................3 days
Buckwheat............... 2
Flax............................2 (These require LOTS of rinsing!)
Green Pea..................2
Pumpkin (hulled).....1
Sunflower (hulled)...2
Water Cress...............4-5
Wild Rice..................4

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeding the Cookie Monster

Jim calls me the Cookie Monster and tells people that he lives in constant fear that a stranger will say, "Here's a cookie, little girl," because I would follow them anywhere. Well, it's not quite that bad, but what is bad is being a cookie monster and finding out that you can no longer have sugar or chocolate! The migraines said no quite a few years ago, and so I've either been good and done without or been bad and paid for it later. It helps that I've always been a health-nut and know my way around healthy eating; sugar was just the last guilty pleasure to go. But I've been refining a recipe using Agave Nectar, and folks, this is about as good as it gets for a reformed sugar addict. Everything in them is healthy, lots of fiber and super nutrients. I was especially proud of the idea to include ground flax seed because the oil tastes kinda yucky, and I've tried grinding the seeds and putting it on salads, but it's a lot like sprinkling powdered concrete onto your food; in these cookies, though, the powdered seeds serves as a binder to keep them from being so crumbly, and makes them extra healthy with Omega 3 & Omega 6 oils. It's a win/win!

If you're among the happy majority who still eats Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butters, they'll taste pretty much like cardboard, but if you don't currently eat sugar, they taste amazing!

I won't label ingredients in the recipe as organic, but everything is, when I can find it. If you use the recipe, especially if you change ingredients, I would love to hear about your results. It lends itself to using whatever's onhand in the pantry.

Cat's Health-nut Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
1 cup ground almonds (I grind them in the food processor, leaving small pieces for the crunch)
1/4 cup finely ground flax seed (I grind these in a coffee mill, but you can get them already ground)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup carob chips
1/2 cup agave nectar (You could also use honey)
1/2 cup coconut oil (I love the taste of this stuff, but any healthy oil will do.)
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and stir into the dry ingredients.
Form balls, about 1" in size, and place on a non-stick cookie sheet, pressing the balls down with a fork.
Bake for 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. This yields about 30 cookies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I've gone on a killing spree!!

Here's a topic I haven't covered, and it's guaranteed to make you itch as you read. The cleanliness of our homes affects our emotions and our sense of well being as well as our general health, and lately I've been on a crusade to get rid of dust mites. This was spurred on by a couple of winters with chronic breathing problems at night. The more I learn about the nasty buggers, the more I realize the necessity to get and keep them under control. Did you know that 10% of the weight of a 2 year old bed pillow can be dead dust mites and their refuse? Yuck! They feed on our dead skin cells, and you've got them on your clothing, in your hair and on your skin right now. A female dust mite lives for around 80 days and can lay 100 eggs, so you have an idea of the exponential growth of a colony of dust mites, and they're so small that 3 of them could fit on this period. Breathing in their waste material and fragments of their dead bodies is what causes breathing problems. We recently got rid of our mattresses ( still in great shape but nearly 20 years old) and got a new one that's natural latex, much less likely to harbor dust mites, and I've got all new bedding. I would love to have all our carpeting removed, but Jim thinks his feet have to have the cushy softness. However, whatever mattress, bedding, pillows, carpet, etc., that you have can still be made healthier by frequent vacuuming and routine precautions, and most of us clean our homes but stop a little short of chasing dust mites.

I've also brought in the ladder and have been dusting the tops of cabinets, walls, and cornice that hadn't been cleaned in a long time. Today I'm planning to buy a better vacuum cleaner, one with a HEPA filter, and here's my latest use for one of the essential oils, which I've always loved for their scents. There are chemicals that you can spray to kill dust mites, but I shy away from chemicals because they usually have side effects that are as bad as the problem they're trying to solve, but eucalyptus oil will kill dust mites, and the best way to use it is to fill a spray bottle with vodka (Yeah, we're gonna let 'em die happy.) and then add several drops of eucalyptus essential oil (the good stuff like you find in health food stores) and spray carpets, drapes, bedding, stuffed animals, anywhere that they could be living. Let it sit overnight and vacuum thoroughly the next day to get the dead bodies. Another tip, when you finish vacuuming, dispose of the bag. Live dust mites can crawl out, bet you hadn't thought of that one. Your house will smell wonderful, and the light mist of vodka dries quickly. I bought Gem Clear which was the cheapest vodka in the store; hey, I'm sending 'em off happy, but Jim would have a heart attack if I gave them his Absolut. (Be sure and test it on fabrics that it might stain or spot) I think you could do the same with water & eucalyptus oil, but it may not mix quite as well or dry as fast. Here's wishing you a healthy and dust mite free day.............well, logically you can't get rid of them all, but you can make a big difference in their numbers and their effects on yours and your family's health.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Trails

I mentioned my little Sunday hike on FaceBook and how I got lost........well, not lost, lost. It's just that the Tim Ernst hiking trails guidebook I took with me (and left in my car) is 17 years old, and during those 17 years, it seems the green trail (as opposed to the red, blue & white trails that criss-cross it) has expanded from a 5 mile loop to a 10 mile loop, and about the time I thought I should be returning to my car, I wasn't even close, so I wandered around for a while, never feeling scared or panicky, just irritated with myself. I had never gone hiking alone before. There's a group of (mostly) ladies called The Happy Hikers that I hike with sometimes in the fall, winter and early spring. They range in ages from 30-something through 80, but don't let the age fool you. The older ones who started the club can often out-hike the newbies. Anyway, this experience has left me contrite and convinced me that I should hike with the ladies, even though they tromp through the woods faster than I would and don't take photo breaks, so half the time I'm running to catch up after I've snapped a couple of quick pics, and the highlight of their day is not being in the woods nearly so much as the lunch afterwards at some nearby diner. But I digress.

I'll have to say here that my family has told me not to go hiking alone, too many America's Most Wanted stories of deranged madmen hacking up unsuspecting females on lonely park trails. This Sunday, though, I thought, I'm 61, and I can do as I darn well please, but as I got out of my car at 11:50, put on my hiking boots, got my water bottles, etc., I did feel very alone. Luckily I still had the old mace gun in my pack, and I took it out to see if it still worked. No spray, just a dribble. I decided if I got attacked by a deranged madman, I'd have to ask him to kneel and look up so I could dribble mace in his eyes.

But on my own, I had plenty of time to examine every leaf. (That's what Jim says I do. He won't go with me hiking. He has bad knees. I think men have specialized pain receptors so that they only hurt when they're asked to do something they don't like doing. He goes to hunting camp several weeks out of the year, and he always comes home with tall tales and yarns about the fun he and his buddies had building stands, riding 4-wheelers, and stalking defenseless animals. He never says, "I sat in the cabin the whole time because my knees hurt.")

I had a lovely day, for the first 2 hours, till about the time I thought I should have reached the trail head, and I ran out of water, and my little pocket camera's battery pack died, and the Pterodactyl mosquitoes discovered me. I had my cell phone, and I could have called Jim, but what would I tell him? "Uh, honey, I'm lost in the woods near the wild grapes and just after I passed a clump of red fungus"? But it wasn't as if I were a thousand miles from Nowhere. From a bluff I could see the Arkansas State Capitol building in the distance. If worse came to worst, I could have swum the river, gone shopping, and then taken a cab back to my car. At 3:30, I gave up on the trail, went to down to the highway and made my way back to my car on asphalt, not the ending I had envisioned, but 5 more minutes in the shadowy depths, and I'd have been a goner, anyway, sucked dry by those blood-thirsty mosquitoes.

The best photo ops always come after the battery dies, and so I didn't get the covered bridge, the pool of lily pads, the waterfall, etc.; I've posted a few of mine, but I'm not a nature photographer, and I rarely can resist the urge to paint or at least run a couple of filters on them. My favorite photographer is Dave Finley ;my second favorite would be Tim Ernst Tim is more famous, but I don't know him personally. Dave is my son. Check out all their sites for some gorgeous wildflower photography. I guess I'll have to be content with chasing the Happy Hikers through the woods.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Notes to My Grandmother

Just a few yellowing photographs,
Stories told by my aunts,
Glimpses of memory that may not, in truth, be memories,
These are all I have of you.

But I feel you
In my veins, in my laughter and my tears,
I know you because my breath is yours,
And my eyes see the world as you did.

And there is the longing
For the warmth of your arms around me,
The last time your lips brushed my cheek,
For the last time I was safe.

I daydream, sometimes, about
Bringing you pretty things,
Baubles and bright colors you never had,
And a pink daisy painting I did for you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why Aren't You Painting?

This month I'm answering a few Questions in Corel Painter magazine's Q&A section, and I did this painting as an example, using only the Acrylics Captured Bristle brush, changing the Bristle settings along the way. If I had to choose just one from among all the Painter brushes it would likely be this one because it's so adaptable.

Some of my followers are wonderful artists, and we've encouraged one another often through the years. If, however, you have never painted at all, you should (and I don't often tell anyone they should do stuff) give it a try. Art isn't, or shouldn't be, reserved for the bold and artsy few. We're all creative beings; some of us just haven't gotten in touch with our creativity yet. Whether you're interested in watercolors, oils, acrylics, colored pencils or whatever, invest in a few art good art supplies. Good art supplies. For example, if you go to Wal-Mart and pick up a cheap set of watercolors, brushes and paper, you've cheapened your creativity, (and there's a world of difference in quality art supplies) but you wouldn't think twice about spending $25 on a blouse, so take the $25 to an art store and buy one large sheet of paper (that you can cut into smaller pieces for painting), a medium quality brush, and 3 tubes of medium quality paint in red, blue and yellow. You may want to buy a beginner's technique book, but these days you can find plenty of tutorials online to get you started. And of course, I'm always here put in my 2 cents worth if all that white paper gets too intimidating. If you find that you really don't enjoy doing watercolors, don't think you've wasted your money. You've dabbled in one art form that somehow will stand you in good stead for the next.

Or you might have thought about trying digital art, which is just as much fun, just as addictive, and much less messy, but the cost of Corel Painter or Adobe PhotoShop may have put you off. True, spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars when you're not sure just how much you'll love it doesn't make a lot of sense, but here comes Ebay to the rescue! The latest version of Painter, for example, is 11, but the earlier versions, back as far as 6 or 7 have many of the same tools and brushes, and as long as they work with your computer and browser version, (be sure and check this) they're a great way to get into digital painting for a few dollars. Or there are a few graphics software programs that you can download for free, like Gimp. I haven't used it, but I've known artists who used it exclusively, and it's a good way to get started.

What words of advice would I give you?
Believe in yourself, but know that you're your own toughest critic. Don't throw away anything you paint. I promise it will look better 2 weeks or 2 months from now when you take it out again.......and if it doesn't you can always tear it into pieces and use them in a collage that you will like. Paint subjects you love, not what you think someone else would love. Set a schedule and stick with it when you first begin, whether it's 15 minutes a day or an hour 3 times a week...........and finally, show me what you've painted! There's nothing more exciting than watching someone discover his or her own creativity.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Bonsai

(Click on the image for a closer look)
Okay, right, so it doesn't exactly scream Bonsai. It's my first untrained, raggedy attempt at pruning a Bonsai tree. I've always admired them but hadn't seriously considered trying my hand at it (not sure why; I've tried most everything else that's artsy) until Dave, Deb and the kids sent me a Dwarf Azalea Bonsai for Mother's Day from, such a beautiful and unexpected gift, growing in a Bonsai pot with gravel and a water tray, and it came unpruned, ready for me to make it my own, but I didn't rush in with the clippers. Instead, I set it outside under the Wisteria arbor where it spent a happy summer and even bloomed. I don't rush into anything that's important to me. When I buy something like a camera or monitor, I'll research for months, finally order it, and when it comes, it still may sit in its box for another few weeks while I acclimate it into my life and my thinking. At this stage in my life, I doubt I'll wake up sane and normal any day now. Besides, most of my friends and family are slightly nutty, too, so who would I talk to?

So this morning I knew this was pruning day. I've been researching online, have ordered a book. Of course there will be a book. If I forgot how to breathe, I'd just buy a book on breathing. You may wonder why I didn't wait for the book to arrive. Hello, I couldn't; this was the day. Beginning with the obvious dead twigs, I worked my inward, imagining as I went that it was a huge tree overhead, shaped by decades and years of wind, rain, heat and cold. I had always sort of imagined that Bonsai must have some archaic, poetic meaning, like windswept bower of the ancients. It doesn't. It means tree in a pot.

The snipping went pretty well, but the wiring, well, let's just say I've got to develop a gentler touch. When I broke a couple of small branches while trying to train them with the copper wire, I figured it was the Universe nudging me to consider a slightly different shape. Turns out, it's my kind of art because it will never be finished, and I'm pretty well hooked already. I've been looking at Bonsai tools, pots, and Dwarf Junipers. And anyway, it was meant to be. I've had the tiny Oriental mudmen for years, can't recall where I got them or why, but when I began seeing how they were used in the photos online, I knew where they belonged, beneath the branches of my first Bonsai.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Notes from my Inner Child

I first learned about this technique back in the John Bradshaw days, when he was introducing each of us to our inner child, and it is powerful stuff, and I carefully filed it away with the rest of my treasured discoveries that are gathering dust in the cluttered nether regions of my mind. No matter how successful and happy and charmed a life you've led, you've taken some emotional beatings along the way, times when the Universe didn't seem to know your name, and times when you wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there, but we're resilient creatures, and we bounce back and present our smiley face to the world.........but we all have issues that nag at us and tell us that even though the sun is shining, there's every chance that we'll mess up today, and most of those issues developed before we crashed headlong into puberty.

All my followers are creative and intuitive and insightful, and you've probably been aware of your inner child, but do you ever talk to her or him?
If not, it's high time you did. When I do, I invariably have an emotional reaction, whether it's bubbling over with joy or a deep sadness, or sometimes remorse that I've waited so long in between talks.

Go to a comfortable quiet place, preferably when you're home alone, and take a notebook and pen. The first time I read about writing notes to myself, I was like, well, that's just strange, but I'll try most anything once, and I liked the idea of the different halves of my brain conversing with one another. It turns out that our dominant hand (for me it's my right hand) speaks for the grown-up part of us, and the non-dominant hand connects with the inner child. That inner child knows about the issues we've sloughed off, knows the real reasons behind our actions, and would actually like to voice them if given half a chance. Draw a line down the middle of the page and take a couple of deep, slow breaths. On the left side of the page with your dominant hand, write something, anything, like Hello or How are you doing? or What would you like to talk about? Take another deep breath. Now with your non-dominant hand, respond on the right side of the page. The child-like, unschooled scrawl will regress your thinking to about age 4 or 5. I don't know exactly why or how, but it does. Once you're into writing notes yourself, it can become a very useful tool. Maybe you've been wondering why you can't seem to meet your goals or why you're putting something off that on the surface is what you've been wanting to do. Your inner child knows, and she or he will tell you, maybe gently, maybe in a burst of anger at your failure to grasp the obvious. I find that the process is exhausting, and I can't do it for long periods, maybe only a few minutes, but I promise to come back soon.

Let me know what you think, no matter which half of your brain it's coming from and even though my Comments gadget seems to have gone AWOL. Oh well, maybe it will find its way home.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Of Purple Trees and Other Bits of Wisdom

You know how, when your children are little, you always mean to write down the funny, sweet things they say and do, and hopefully you remember to write down a few? Public school teachers hear a hundred fold as many quotables from their students that we think we'll never forget. I know I've forgotten most of them, but with school starting all over the country, I was thinking about my son and my former students today.

It was actually pretty smart of my Dave to pick up on plural nouns when he was just 3, and when he wanted one piece of lettuce, it was a "letta" just as one piece of cheese was a "chee". And he kept secrets really well. He loved to paint rocks and painted one that looked exactly like a Razorback hog and wanted to give it to my sister for Christmas, but I told him we would keep it a secret; as soon as she walked in, he ran to her and said, "Aunt Nan! I painted you a Razorback, but it's a secret!" He gets this ability from me.

Then there was Dudley in my 9th grade English class. I swear to God his name was Dudley, and pretty much everything he said sounded like a joke, but he didn't mean it that way. I remember handing out test papers, and the one I put on his desk happened to be upside down. "Uh, Mrs. Finley, I think you printed the tests wrong!" And there was the time I was explaining the pros and cons of something or other in our literature study, and half the class was totally puzzled because they thought I was saying frozen pecans.........I guess you had to be there. And there were the 3 years I counseled 500 kindergarteners. I probably could have filled a notebook with their cute chatter, but most of it has slipped away. I do remember Robert, who often had accidents in his pants. The clean clothes closet was just off my office, and when the teacher walked drippy Robert past my door, I said, "Robert, did you tinkle in your pants?" He said, "No, ma'am, I just peed in 'em a yiddle."

Of course sometimes they're smarter than we are. When Rani was first learning to jabber a few words, she said from her car seat behind me, clear as day, "Purple trees". I said, "Oh how sweet! She thinks the trees are purple! No, baby, the trees are green." About that time I saw where she was looking, and all the tree trunks had splashes of purple on them, as posted land............. And the first time 7 year-old Stewart spent the night with us, I put him to bed in a small guest room we'd never used. Minutes later, he was beside me saying, "I can't sleep. There are lights on the ceiling." Leading him back to the bedroom, I explained comfortingly that the lights he saw probably were headlights from the roads that wound up the hills and sometimes shined through the trees into the house. We turned out the light, settled onto his bed, and I looked up to see dozens of glowing lights on the ceiling, tiny stars, placed there by the previous owners for their children. After we talked about them for a minute, he was fine.
Moral of the story: If it makes you smile, laugh, or tear up, write it down.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Postal

No, that's not how our postal employees look, but it's not far off, and the building, which was plenty big enough to serve 10,000 patrons a few years ago, before the mass exodus from Little Rock of families with children, struggles to serve 22,000 and growing by 100 families a month. So, in the 6 years we've lived here, I remember twice, maybe 3 times when I didn't have to stand in line half-way out the door to mail a package or buy stamps.

I've sold nearly a hundred of my used, unwanted art books on over the years (and Jim will tell you they can't be missed from the shelves and stacks of other books). It's a pretty cool deal. You just post them, along with your prices and descriptions, and wait till one sells. When it does, notifies you to mail the book to the buyer and deposits your money, minus their commission. Today I had a book to mail to New York, waited my turn, behind people who couldn't make up their minds which postage stamp to buy and others who needed a forklift to bring in their packages. I was torn between whether I wanted the 60 year-old hippie guy with shoulder length blonde hair or the pudgy, motherly looking lady who seemed to have gone to elementary school with most everyone in line.

I got her...............
clerk: What can I do for you today?
me: I want to mail this book.
clerk:Is there anything perishable, liquid or hazardous in the box?
me: No, it's a book.
clerk: Do you want to insure it?
me: No, nothing extra, just try to get it there. (I didn't tell her that insures the books on their end.)
clerk: Do you want it to go by Express Mail?
me: No, just the basic, cheapest way.
clerk: Okay, let's seeeeee, as she begins to tap her computer screen....
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: That will be $7.65.
me: No, that's not right. I never pay more than $2 or $3, even for hardback books; this one's soft cover.
clerk: (Managing to look both blank and exasperated at the same time and hefting the book a couple of times.)
But this one's HEAVY! Okay, let's try something else.
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: That's $7.75 by Express Mail. (Hoping I had forgotten my earlier request.)
me: No, I mail books all the time by Media Mail, and it's always $2 or $3.
clerk: Oh, is it media?
me: Yes, it's a book.
clerk: Well, you didn't tell me that. Is there anything else in the package?
me: No, it's a book.
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: Well then, that will be $2.77.

Now here's the thing, I still think postage is a bargain, even though there's talk that they may stop Saturday deliveries and even though the government constantly seems to be bailing them out. I couldn't have gotten the book to New York for $7.75 on my own, but I have no intention of paying 3 times the going rate, just because the line is now nearly backed up to the train tracks. She apologized, and I said no problem. She said that people sometimes get really upset with her. I just smiled, thinking, I'm not surprised at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We're home!

I posted more vacation photos at

I'm not sure how many days by the ocean it would take for me to walk away without regret or longing, but 8 isn't the magic number. On our eleven hour drive home, we were already making lists of things we wanted to do next time and stuff we forgot to bring. Maybe we can go back next August, when most of the tourists are gone.

Our condo was very reasonably priced (fall rates after August 21) and had 2 bedrooms, 2 bunk beds, and a sleeper sofa and 2 baths, so we had plenty of room. Jim, who's a TV junkie, loved that it had 3 TVs. I loved that it had a great kitchen. I like to eat out occasionally, but for the most part I like cooking my own meals, and we cooked fresh seafood 3 nights and ate most of our breakfasts & lunches there. I discovered a fish called Scamp! Omigosh! It's my new favorite fish, but I won't be able to find it again until we go back to Florida.

I didn't get sunburned (this time), but then I'm not much of a sun worshiper these days. I loved to get up in the mornings and walk along the beach, taking photos, finding shells, just enjoying the Gulf breeze and watching the gulls. Then Jim and I would go find something fun to do during the day, and after dinner (we're early birds and eat dinner around 5 PM) I would be back on the beach to swim and watch the amazing sunsets........................

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beach Vacation

We got to Rosemary Beach yesterday about 5 PM, tired but happy. Our condo is gorgeous, with a deck that looks out onto the ocean. I brought Zoie, and I'll post some of her photos later, but I'm using Jim's laptop, and it doesn't have PhotoShop on it, and I'm pretty much lost, photo-wise, without PS. So, I've cheated today, and I'll post a photo borrowed from the rental site.

Remember the movie "What About Bob?", where Bill Murray carried his gold fish with him in a jar on a cord around his neck? Well, you'll laugh your arse off at this, but we have one little blue Betta fish in a small aquarium at home, and I put him on the desk that Jim uses, and they've become friends. Who'd a thunk it? Anyway, Jim said it would cruel to leave "Finley" alone for 8 days, and that we should bring him, which we did. Right now, Finley is in a big iced tea jug, looking out onto the ocean waves. He doesn't seem that impressed, but then who's to say what will impress a fish?

We watched dolphins from the deck this morning, and I walked along the beach looking for sea glass and shells. Jim isn't a water & sand kinda guy; he's just here for me. I told him that I'll be on the beach in the mornings and evenings, and that during the day, we can explore the surrounding areas, so I think he's ready to go.........................

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Woman's Treasure.......

My Aunt Tiny never learned to talk, not so most of us could understand her. She was born with a speech handicap that today would probably be reversible but which kept her at home forever with my grandparents. My grandmother was very protective of her and treated her as if she were an invalid, but she could learn as well as anybody and loved to quilt and garden. We all loved her very much, but what do you get for someone's birthday or Christmas when she already has everything she wants or needs? She loved pretty trinkets and figurines, and so that's what the family gave her.

When my sister Nan I and were little, Aunt Tiny's room was off-limits because it was filled to overflowing with her delicate glass menagerie, but sometimes we'd be allowed to walk carefully into the room and sit on the foot of the bed for a few minutes and gaze at the glittering display of ceramic, crystal, and blown glass figures crowded together on dresser tops, on shelves and in glass front cabinets. We held our breaths in reverence, speaking to each other in whispers as we pointed out pieces that caught our eye. Aunt Tiny, who wasn't the one who made the rule that kept us out, would be standing at the door, smiling and eyes twinkling as she enjoyed our delight over her collection. She was so loving and generous and would have given us anything we wanted, but we knew better than to ask because we'd have been scolded later.

You know how, when you're a child, everything seems larger? Well, my favorite piece among the hundreds was a delicate glass reindeer, with red antlers and a silver body. I remember it as being graceful and tall, maybe 18 inches high. It was always the first thing I looked for in Aunt Tiny's room.

My grandparents died, both nearing 100, in a nursing home, and Aunt Tiny went to live with my mother. When she, too, passed away, and my mother was selling her own home, I went up to help with the moving sale. As I browsed around through furniture, table scarves and bric-a-brac that brought back childhood memories, I stopped short and drew in my breath! There, tossed onto a box of junk was the glass deer! (But it was no longer 18 inches tall. It's actually about 6 inches in height.)I know my hands were shaking as I picked it up, certain that such treatment had resulted in broken legs or antlers. No breaks or chips, only a little of his silver had deteriorated, but I would have loved him in any condition. I turned to my mom and asked softly, "Can I have this?" She said of course, take anything I wanted, but I had the treasure I wanted in my hands and quickly took it to my car, wrapped in a towel.

I've since found out that the mercury blown glass deer are antiques from Germany. There are 2 (not half so pretty as mine) on Ebay right now, "as is", for $75 + $10 shipping. My glass reindeer lives quietly in my bedroom, in a glass box that holds beautiful memories of my darling Aunt Tiny, but I'm sure he misses his friends and the days when excited little girls crept into the room to admire them.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This month, I'm answering reader questions for Corel Painter magazine, Issue 35, and the editor was kind enough to send me the commission early so I'll be through (knock wood) before we leave for Florida. One question was on how to make mosaics in Painter.

I love doing mosaics in real life as well as in Painter; they're both relaxing and seriously therapeutic. This day has been long, though; my brain is tired, and my blog will be short this time. I think I'll go try to find a good movie on NetFlix. You can bet good money there's nothing on Dish.
See ya later.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wine Holders

I'm not a true wine connoisseur. Well, let's be perfectly honest, I wouldn't know fine wine from Kool Aid. The wines that are expensive, the ones that our friends Mike & Jenny say are the best and that they keep in their special wine refrigerator, taste simply yucky to me. When I've been given a glass of the precious, rare liquid, I've sat and smiled and taken tiny sips and wondered how in the world can they love this wicked tasting stuff so passionately? I do like the taste of a few sweet wines, like Wiederkehr Niagara (made in Altus, Arkansas) and some blackberry wine that my friend Sybil brought over, but I'm not a fun wine drinker, either. Most people can sip wine all evening and get funnier and cuter with each glass. One glass is my absolute limit, and it doesn't make me funny or cute, just sleepy and wanting to go off in a corner and take a nap. And after one glass, forget about it, I just might as well go to the bathroom and drape my arms around the toilet, with a 75% chance of a major migraine the next day. So, all in all, wine (make that all alcohol) really isn't big on my agenda.

Wine holders and wine carriers are another thing, though. I've always been drawn to them, and have sewn some gorgeous little sparkly wine stockings to carry bottles to friends' homes on special occasions. The carriers can work really well for other purposes than holding wine. Here are a few that wouldn't listen when I told them that I wasn't going to buy them:

The moment I saw the one that now has guest towels in it, I thought how perfect for the guest bath! Nobody has ever used a towel from it. Maybe I should put a sign on it that says, "These are for using." But they look pretty cool, anyway.

The long one that I've hung in my walk-in closet works well for holding the little beaded and velvet purses that I carry when all I want with me are keys, license, credit card and some cash. It actually looks better than it does here, but it's in my closet, so unless I drag someone in there to look, nobody sees it but me.

The two basket carriers were supposed to hang on the shepherd's hook in a flower bed, which darlin' hubby is currently using to hold his hummingbird feeders. Eventually, I think they'll look really good with tall planters or vases in them.

And then there are those paper board ones. They're all so pretty I've had to draw the line at 3, and they're on top of my kitchen cabinets.

I think there are more; these are just the ones I thought of when I grabbed my camera. They're fun, even if wine isn't............

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some Photos

I'm obviously attention deficit disordered, easily distracted by sparkly things and whatever floats in on the current, and so this blog may never have a permanent focus. Today I got out my Canon Rebel camera and plan to take it, along with my little buddy the Canon PowerShot, to Florida, so I need to practice up on using it. Isn't it cool how patient cameras are? I discovered some pics from last winter just sitting in there, waiting for me to do something (anything) with them. Poor things. So, I'll post a couple of them today to make amends.

I discovered this photo of my computer room, taken before the new PC and new monitor. It looks neater than usual, and darker, must have been a dreary winter day. This is my sanctuary, and it's off-limits for remarks or nagging by my perfectionist hubby. I'm a pile maker, and I'll always have my piles of magazines that I will get back to eventually, stacks of papers, books, etc., and I try to confine them to this room...............mostly. At the moment, there are 2 computers and 3 monitors. Sometimes I can't bear to let go of things..........I work on the Dell with dual monitors. I LOVE that Deck lighted keyboard, even though I'm a fast touch typist (thank you Ms. Johnson in high school). It's shorter (no number pad) so it fits on my tray beside the Intuos.

There were photos of the little ice storm we had, just looking at them here in early August makes me feel cooler.

And the red Gerbera daisy pic was taken this morning. I can never capture the dew as well as I'd like, just another of my life goals. I have so many goals, but then that's what keeps us ticking, isn't it?