Monday, June 18, 2012

Watermelon + Blueberries = Heaven

On a hot day - and we get them in Livermore, CA - this is one of the most refreshing salads I've ever made for a BBQ / Picnic. I credit Pinterest for my finding the picture first which led me to the link at the Food Network site for the actual recipe.  I already knew I wanted to do something with watermelon and blueberries but I was looking for a new spin.  Ha! What is it about that combination that I love so dearly? The secret to this recipe is in the mint infused simple syrup you toss with the fruit right before serving.  It's just a small amount, and if that's too much sugar for you it could certainly be skipped, but it adds this hint of mint that pops the refreshment factor X 10!  

The nutrition educator in me is always trying to find ways to promote watermelon to anyone that will listen because folks don't often realize the healthy benefits of eating watermelon.  ... this delectable thirst-quencher may also help quench the inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. It's just crazy how healthy this fruit is.  Find out more here.  The only fruit more popular than blueberries is strawberries.  Blueberries are a powerful antioxidant and recently discovered to have ties to improving memory.  WHFoods has the details.

Pinterest also led me to Jenny over at Everyday Occasions where you can discover how easy it is to cut up a watermelon.  I bought a small seedless variety for $2.99 at Safeway - can you say bargain.  Great job Jenny - this is so helpful!
And so it is that Pinterest is not just a waste of time.  I'm actually doing something with some of these things I've pinned.  Use that search bar for anything that comes to mind. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rabbit Hole and Me

Talk about momentary passions of mine,  I've just made a lunchtime purchase of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - a Norton Critical Edition.  Hey, it's 20% off weekend at Half-Price Books and I'm nearly finished with reading Papillon.  I was in the play Alice In Wonderland in 7th or 8th grade.  It was a grand production and I was the Lead Flower.  You mock, but it was the only flower with a speaking part.  Ha!   I think we all focused on our own parts and I don't remember any required reading of the whole play or any critical analysis of it. It was more like  - show up, audition and then rehearse and perform.  I'm especially interested in that rabbit hole as a metaphor!  Presumably there is a college course somewhere that requires the reading and critical analysis of the works of Carroll and I can't think of anything more fun to spend my spare time reading this Spring/Summer.  .Keep in mind I've little spare time with a full time job, new gym membership, an upcoming quilt making class and a nearby baby granddaughter, but I'm enthusiastic.  Yes, the passions all start with enthusiasm.

Did you read AIW and any of the follow-on books like Through The Looking Glass as a kid?    As an adult?  I'd love your comments.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vintage Children's Print Blanket For Fiona

A premonition purchase?  A couple of years back there was to be a big sale of donated fabrics at a church in my town benefiting women's Cancers, if I remember correctly.  I didn't know what to expect stopping by on Day 2.  I must have had other things on the list for the day because in an unusual turn I had both my young adult daughter and my college age son with me.  I don't think either one was thrilled to go but I promised we wouldn't stay long.   It was first thing on Sat. morning and a little chilly in the fellowship hall where the fabric and patterns were laid out.  The son, being the only man on premise, was immediately doted on by the elderly ladies volunteering.  He had a grand time being fed donuts and hot cocoa and managed to get a kick out of some of the 70's fabrics.  The pickin's were slim, I must say.  I wasn't really sure we'd find anything we needed at this sale.  Did I say needed?  LOL - we had no list mind you - just checking it out - looking for a good deal. 

My daughter who had recently fallen in love (with her now husband) found 2 great fabrics.  One was a very masculine-friendly toile, a black print of tall ships and buildings on a linen background.  7 yards for $5!  A couple months later we made fantastic bedroom curtains for her and her man when they got a new townhouse.  The other fabric she loved was this vintage lions / candy stripe fabric you see here.  
I wondered what she had in mind making this selection.  I loved it, too, but hadn't seen her favor these colors in previous apartment decorating.  Hmmmm... I remember her smiling saying,  "Mom, we should get this.  Someday I might have a daughter and we could make a blanket out of this."   I jumped at that suggestion though it surprised me so very much.  That was the first I had ever heard her talk about the possibility of babies - who knows how far off she was dreaming.  The fact that the door was opened was all I needed to hear. 

We made the purchase.  The fabric is light-weight cotton and only 36" wide - we got about 3 yards for $3.  I really can't tell when it was made but the colors remind me of the 50's.  Was it normal to have 36" wide fabric in those days?   I stored the fabric away and before long they were engaged.  The wedding plans were on - so for 6 mos. or more all our creative efforts went to planning a very beautiful and fun wedding.  Less than 2 years later we have the blessed arrival of baby Fiona Caroline! 

When we found out the baby she was carrying was a girl my daughter immediately remembered this fabric and the promise to make a blanket for her.  Luckily I knew just where the fabric was stored - and that's no easy feat.  We moved twice since we bought the fabric! You can read about that in some earlier blog posts

This week I finished the blanket.  I kept it simple since the fabric itself is so cheerful and bright.  I played up the hot pink by backing it with a vivid pink flannel which I pre-washed for extra softness.  The satin blanket binding is also a great match.  I put some nice 100% cotton batting in between and stitched by machine around some of the graphics to create a bit of a raised image effect.  I must thank YouTube for the help with the blanket sating and especially the mitered corners.  I sent the blanket home with Mom & baby yesterday. 

From premonition to completion - I love it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Introducing Fiona!

With great joy I share the news that we are grandparents again.  This time we have our first girl.  Fiona Caroline was born to our daughter in February.  I'm head-over-heals in love with this little girl!  I can't believe how fast the time is going.  She is changing so quickly.  In the first picture of the 3 girls in the family Fiona is about 1 week old.  In the next picture she is about 6 weeks old. 
So Fiona makes 3 grandchildren for us and life is all good.  I do wish I were able to retire now so I could spend more time with them.  The good news is I'm too young for that and I don't want to miss one day I have here.  The older I get the more I appreciate all the joy in my life. 
3 generations of love

Fiona's first Easter - check the shoes!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 Days

Today is Ash Wednesday as you may already know.  I'm not Catholic, but my Presbyterian Church has always had an Ash Wednesday service which I have often attended. Lent is the 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays. I didn't grow up Presbyterian or Catholic so some of these religious traditions were curious and new to me in adult life.  Over the years whether I attend the AW service or not I have found the practice of either denying myself something or even taking up something for that 40 day period very enriching to my life.  I get to learn how ridiculously habituated I have become to some product or practice.  It is quite empowering to realize that with a defined focus period of just 40 days I can commit myself to one new practice.  I know, I know, the curiosity is killing you.  What have I decided this year?  Am I giving up something I love or taking on something new?  Drum roll, please ..................

Ta da!  I am adding exercise, yes, real exercise back into my daily life!

I can honestly say I have not done anything to exercise since we sold the house last September and I am ashamed and actually worried about my overall health because of it.  I seem to be fine, albeit a lot softer than last year, and I can tell by my clothing that a few pounds have piled on the middle and the thighs.  I can also tell when I climb the stairs at work that I am more easily winded.  I'm 50 now and cannot afford to start down that slippery slope with a trip to England in 72 days (but who is counting?), so being in better shape will only make that a much more enjoyable trip.  A bonus.  Grin.

*One final note since it is Lent.  Yes, I will be spending some meditative time during my exercise for prayers of confession and repentance - doing some spiritual “house cleaning.”

Here is an interesting link on Lent 2012 from a source I don't usually recommend - seems they will keep this up through Lent.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Walking Across The Golden Gate Bridge

So often we forget to take advantage of the beauty that surrounds us close to home.  We travel across the country or around the world to check these bucket list must-see's off our list and forget to enjoy what's in our own backyard.  I'm guilty of this! A few weeks back I realized in a panic that I had not walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.  The nightly news was reporting New Orleans Saints fans, coming in for the NFC playoff game, were making it their first stop. That did it for me.  :-)

And so it was that in January hubby and our youngest son (22 yrs.) set out.  It was a cool and crisp Sunday morning; the sun appeared and disappeared at the will of the clouds but I smiled from ear to ear the whole way across and back.  It was a blast to the senses - the noise of the cars flying past in the lanes; the brisk chilly breeze tossing my hair and slapping my cheeks; the views, oh, you can't imagine the views!; my wobbly knees as I got anywhere near the railing to dare to look down to the water below; one particular dancing (loose) streetlight post kept things thrilling; the beautiful and familiar San Francisco skyline under a January morning sky; the rowing team slipping under the bridge - it was all exhilarating.  I took a few pictures. It's about 3.5 miles across and back and I highly recommend it. It turns out they are sprucing things up for the 75th anniversary which I believe is in March. 

When I was little I remember my grandmother telling me that people walked across the GGB when it first opened.  I want to say she walked across, too, but I may have that confused with the opening of the Bay Bridge. 

It's a holiday weekend for many. Go do something you've been meaning to do.  Enjoy!
Opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. Pedestrian... Chronicle File Photo

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Level Of Commitment Shows

Readers may benefit from what I am primarily writing here for my own self development. 

Historically I've always been someone irked by people who are late and have worked very hard to be on time or early both in business and in my personal life.  Lately though, I notice that when it comes to many things I'm no longer exhibiting this behavior.  I actually excused this trend as a positive.  A  mellowing of sorts from my legendary uptight nature now that I have landed here in mid-life.  Today I read a post from Seth Godin that really struck me as he cleverly compared the difference in meeting a train vs. making a train.  They sound so similar its easy to think they are one and the same but, BAM, they are not!  I now really believe my relaxed commitment to things is showing and impacting my work and personal life and I thank Seth for kicking me with his terrific post. 
Please feel free to share this as it would apply to church groups, service groups, corporate America and your family. 

Meeting vs. Making

As I was scurrying to meet someone coming in on the 11 am train, I realized that there's a huge difference between meeting a train and making one.

If you're rushing to make a train, you have to be there before the last moment. Five seconds too late is too late. The cost of error is absolute.

If you're hurrying to meet a train, though, there's a soft deadline. Five seconds is no big deal. Thirty seconds might be annoying, particularly for someone returning from a long journey. And five minutes is really rude.

Too often, we treat our obligations as meet, not make. We impose a sliding scale, a soft penalty, and we not only show up just a bit late, we show up a bit behind on quality or preparation.

Making is a discipline. Meeting opens the door for excuses.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February TV Favorites

So it's the middle of a dark and cold winter with endless days of gray skies, and we're all so tired of being indoors...wait, scratch that - I live in sunny Northern California where we've had nearly no winter at all.  We seem to be stuck in a near springtime weather pattern this year.  Apologies to my friends shoveling their way out of their homes each day.  Brrrr This list might be of keen interest to you. Still in all these shorter days lend to a good TV watching season. 
Here's what's catching my attention right now:
1)  Downton Abbey on PBS You can get started with Season 1 on Netflix or DVD.  Beautiful!
2) American Idol - yes, I've a wee Steven Tyler crush  :-)  It's Hollywood week!
3) Justified on FX  Great dialog and characters.
4) Blue Bloods - yes, I've a wee Tom Selleck crush, again! You fall in love with this family.
5) Here is where perhaps I reveal too much.  Some nights, after my husband goes to bed, I try to find The Real Housewives of Atlanta on-demand.  This is my guilty pleasure.  Ha ha!  For some reason this mix of ladies holds my attention - like a circus act on some episodes - and I feel like it would be a trip to be a part of their little diva group.  Of course I'm gonna need a spending account to keep up.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Downsize complete

Well my friends downsizing took over my life - what can I say? I only wish I was better at documenting with pictures all that we have experienced since Oct. 2011 when we moved out of our home after it sold. You may not know this (since I was not keeping you posted - 'duh!) but there was limbo time between having to be out of our house and being able to move into the new "downsized" house. Yes, we had to move twice. Luckily you were not so close as to hear my blood curdling scream when first I realized there was no avoiding the dreaded-double-move. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Oh well, it's past us now. Now that I'm all linked back up again you can look forward to some future posts that include some before and after pics . Here are some highlights from the past 4 months:
  • House sold for full price! We only owned it 2 years but we didn't lose any money. What a blessing. As they say - location, location + the improvements we made were desirable.
  • We did find a "cute little downtown house" after many frustrating "almosts" and our above the asking price offer beat out other above the asking price bids. Yes, this still happens in the San Francisco Bay Area where job opportunities still exist.
  • Could not get the escrow close dates to coordinate (tears) and so we had to rent an apartment temporarily - with our recently returned from college son...roomies! :-(
  • One of our 2 dogs had to be put down just as we were moving - she was 14 and I think she looked around and said to herself - I'm too old to move. Poor Mya - we'll miss her.
  • Our remaining pup, a German Short-haired Pointer (always an outside dog) moves with us to a small apartment and gets to start a new life as an inside dog. Oh, that was priceless and, yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks.
  • The little downtown house is frozen in time- built in 1950 and most recently decorated in about 1973. Everything in perfect condition but nothing you could live with. Ha ha! The picture is our "before" of the bathroom. Jealous? :-)
  • Hubby had to work full time and manage a full house electrical upgrade - the house only had 70 amp service for the whole house. It never had a clothes dryer and we were told that if we tried to run one we probably could run just one light bulb at the same time. LOL.
  • Hubby managed the electrical upgrade, a whole house plumbing re-pipe, inside painting, wall paper removal, complete bathroom gut and remodel. This was the biggest deal because it is a 2 BR., 1 bath house. Yes, I said 1 bath. there is no way we could move in until the bathroom project completed or...well you get the idea. A flush is a must!
  • Lot's of stress and one good therapist and we made it to move-in with our marriage in tact
  • I turned 50 on 12/19! No time to party - that was a bummer. Hubby & daughter planned a great small affair for 12/30 at a wonderful steak house with friends and I felt special, plus I could breathe with the move and Christmas behind me.
  • Move in date - Dec. 20. I mean we were down to the wire getting in before Christmas.
  • Hosted our kids and their kids for Christmas Day celebrations.
  • Whew!