Saturday, June 29, 2013

The 5:2 Cup...Or Why is Moses Outside the Refrigerator?

Yeah...yeah...I know...I said this year I wasn't going to worry about my weight...or actively participate in weight-loss.

I lied. the past 25 years...have I...NOT...tried to lose weight?

Introduced January in the UK...the FAST does not mean expedient. It means "fasting". And although I am a practising Buddhist, and have been for six years...old habits die hard...and that Pentecostal background immediately conjures images of Moses wandering in the wilderness.

"Honeyed thanks, John...I'll pass...."

"No seriously,...they're so crunchy!"

Currently 30 pounds heavier than my IBW and having lost the same 25 pounds like a dieter's version of PONG from year to year...I noticed an article in the glossies on The Fast Diet this week.

The gist of it is a 5:2 plan. Two days of the week you fast...consuming only 500 calories (women) or 600 calories (men) each day.

The rest of the week you can eat pretty much anything as long as you limit yourself to 1500-2000 calories a day. 

Sounds reasonable. More of a lifestyle change.

I modified the Rules a version goes like this:

An Every Other Day fast until I reach my IBW.

During the fast days (...which I have re-dubbed Health Days...) I will also work out twice a day...morning and evening...and consume healthy choices to make up the 500 calories. I will add a bottle of Zero (Vitamin Water) on these days as well.

On the alternate days I will eat whatever I like...staying at 1500 calories for the day.  (...a girlfriend of mine called this The Cupcake Diet part of the programme...) I kind of like it. ~laughing~

Yesterday was my first "fast" day. It went surprisingly well. One of the things I immediately noticed was I do a lot of mindless grazing in the course of a day. Hundred calorie bites that add up. Half the pizza because...well it is sitting there.

Since my oldest was up for a visit from Florida we started the day with coffee and chat. And a couple of Pim's. Pim's are amazing soft shortbread biscuits (cookies) imported from England. They have a wonderful orange marmalade center and are dipped in a light coat of dark chocolate. The relative size of an Eisenhower silver dollar they sport 50 calories each. With the dash of creamer in my morning cup...and two Pims...instantly I am at 110 calories.

...this may take some planning...

I finish my morning work out...reps of 20...all major muscle groups thanks to PT...and grab a banana before I head out for my day. (100 calories)

Where I encounter my first "temptation".

"Do you want to go to lunch this afternoon" Loretta casually asks. We often do this together on market day. She mentions Marvin's. Renowned for its Garlic Cheeseburger...Amazing Battered Onion rings (dripping with grease) a fountain Coke...oh an maybe a slice of that Magnificent Turtle Pecan Cheesecake.  (...a 1400 calorie meal...)

"Hell yes!" ( stomach answers without a pause...)

"Fine." ( inner nag sighs...) "Maybe at this rate we can lose that 30 pounds in...oh...maybe the next 20 years or so..."

You know how some people have inner goddesses...I have an inner nag...did I mention she's somewhat of a Bitch?

So I suck it up and ask for a rain-date.  A non-fast day when this is all I am going to eat. For the whole day. Sometimes it's worth it.

A happy coincidence that my first "fast" falls on market day, though. It encourages me to buy healthy...veggies...fruits...yogurts...sliced deli turkey...bottled water and such. Oh...and a cupcake for Saturday's non-fast breakfast with At checkout I encounter another pleasant surprise as healthy foods are much less expensive than pre-packaged treats. With the surplus I pick up the large glass hummingbird feeder and solution I've been wanting and a few more seed packets.

Usually on market day I lunch out. Most of the time it is Subway...where a 6 inch sandwich, a bag of chips or cookies, and a fountain Coke can easily run 800 calories and $7.50.

On this day...I opt for a container of Yoplait Lite (90 calories) and Pineapple Upside Down Cake flavoured...only .59 cents and it is like Ambrosia from the gods.

A gardening and "kitties" chat with Tess...2 hours of writing/editing...and a bit of time relaxing in fresh air with a good novel by the flowerbeds. Tucker-cat joins me. Purr Therapy.  For the first time I am feeling really hungry.

The thin sliced turkey is only 50 calories per 2 ounce portion. I take 4 ounces. I fix wraps...only instead of flat-bread I use lettuce.  Mustard as a condiment. It makes two nice sized rolls and I enjoy the Zero Water with it.  The calories of the lettuce and mustard are negligible. The meat adds another 100 to my daily total.

An evening workout.  
I feel great!

Later I enjoy Argo and have a cup of unsweetened tea with two final Pim's (100 calories)...realize how absolutely hooked I am on them...and finish out my allotted 500 for the day.

I can DO this!

For additional information on the Fast Diet check out:

And although today was "Cupcake and Milk Morning"...leaving me effectively with only about 1000 calories to work with for the remains of the day...I am already looking forward to tomorrow's "fast"!


 In 2009, a nearly anorexic Kate Moss made the statement

"Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels"

Obviously Kate had never tasted a fresh dark chocolate fudge bakery-fresh cupcake with

I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A "Rainbow" Cup

                 You know what really "sucks" about being clairvoyant?

                                          No Surprises.

Still despite the Supreme Court Justices "punting" on this one like Ray Guy...and I told you so BTW...Prop 8 and DOMA were both overturned. Imagining the popping of champagne corks all over the Valley tonight and across the Bay...and make no mistake about it...this is Historic!  The other explosions you can hear are the religious fanatics...a great deal of the GOP...and a vast number of garden-variety homophobes as their heads spontaneously emplode from the news.  

Want entertainment you can't buy.

 Take a moment and peruse the comment section on CNN regarding the news. (...bring popcorn and a cold drink...)

And although this decision directly affected the the over 28,000 married gay couples in California...and the many many more who will now have the "right" to marry the one they love...and gave benefits to gay couples living in those States that already recognize gay affects us all. By prying the closet door just a bit further open. By setting a precedence for cases to come. And there will be cases. And the answer to those cases will be much like this one. Creating a second class of citizens is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Until at last...just like the Civil Rights will slowly dawn on them that we can't trust the States to " the right thing..." because...well...go ask a black man or woman over the age of 60 living in the well this works. The Genie is out of the bottle...or closet...and no matter how hard anyone's not going back in. Ever.

And that is a good thing. 

Whether you are straight or gay...Today is an Amazing day to be an American! A Toast to Humanity!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An "Ice Cold" Cup and Summer Smiles

A cup of ice tea and a huge smile!  James and the girls...they are getting so big!
Love all the smiles :)



Soon to celebrate Kaylee's 8th Birthday. I know she has gotten her "Birthday Wish", already!

( daddy...)

Waiting for the next bout of rain...coming this evening.  The garden loving the tropical heat and moistness.

The first blooms already visible on the strawberries...planted less than a week and a half ago as dried roots.  Tributes are amazing!


And in the flower beds more roses are starting to bloom. These are the delicate-petal single version that owe a great deal to their wild cousins. The stems are so covered with stickers that aphids don't bother them and they are virtually pest-free...including cuttings by the gardener...who prefers to enjoy them al fresco for obvious reasons.

 (...less bloodshed...)

Ran across a 2009 "sequel" to Sidney Sheldon's "Master of The Game" this week.
The book by Tilly Bagshawe: Mistress of The Game.

Where the Kruger-Brent/Blackwell saga continues to play out through the Grandchildren and Great grandchildren of Kate Blackwell. Riveting new characters. Well written...flows seamlessly from the original book...even providing background and answering questions that Sheldon left behind. If you enjoyed the work by Sheldon you are going to LOVE this book. The author picks up where Sheldon left off and continues the tale...better still...she obviously spent a lot of time with the original book as the "voice" of the book is definitely Sheldonesqe.

 In the World...Edward Snowden has now taken the place of Hoffa in the "Where's Waldo" Summer Olympics...who is truly a man without a country...facing even problems with sanctuary in Ecuador after their government has been warned that trade-sanctions would be put in place if they offer him a place to land.  The sad news of Nelson Mandela's (eminent) demise. Leaving behind an anti-apartheid legacy. And we wait...for the outcome of the Prop 8/Doma decision by the SCOTUS...fairly confident that both DOMA and Prop 8 will be pronounced unconstitutional...but wary after the recent changes to the Voter's Rights Act...that they will not go the extra mile to encompass all 50 States in their decision. Hoping they realize that like the Civil Right's Act their decision is the only way to assure that all citizen's (gay and straight) will have the same federal rights/responsibilities in their marriage. Effectively, end the debate. Otherwise expect to see this issue brought before the Supreme Court repeatedly...State by State. Not only eating away at States Resources...but wasting the Supreme Courts one by one they must declare the marginalization of a minority by a majority thereby creating a secondary set of US Citizens...unconstitutional...any way you slice it.
 Let's finish this thing.

Love you son...enjoy the time with your girls!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A "Summer" Cup of Indulgence



The Season of Indulgence. Whether it is basking...swimming...gardening or sipping wine 'neath the stars. Or maybe even one perfect chocolate cupcake for breakfast! 

Sometimes you just have to stop and say "Yes" to LIFE.

Sat outside on my patio last night as the approaching storm rolled in. The sky a deep blue-grey. Approaching blackness. Enjoying the shift in the winds and the waltz of the trees as the winds shifted and the 90 degree temps dropped swiftly. The jays and sparrows and robins finding safe haven and going silent. I love the feel of the electricity in the air. The wildness before the deluge. So we sat...Tucker and I...listening to the early rumblings and watching far away flashes of lightning.

Rewarded by the sighting of the first fireflies of the season in the twilight beneath the Locust tree.

As it rumbled closer a fine cool mist mingled with the breezes...then the first huge spats of rain on the hot concrete...creating the smell of a lifetime of summer memories...a lifeguard blowing his whistle and ushering us out of the pool...a rooftop with tiny Maple-seed helicopters landing...dashing soaked to the skin for nearby shelter... hands entwined in damp hair and kisses in the rain.

The spats turning to sheets...a monsoon...and we move from outside to inside...light a few candles in case the power goes...a wax tart melts giving off a mellow cabin fireplace smell. Tucker curled...already asleep in his wicker basket. And then, just as quickly as its is gone. The garden soaked and happy. Outside cool and steamy. Tropical. The birds singing praises of the worm-bounty that awaits them. Tucker awake now and sitting at the screened patio door talking to the birds beyond in a series of tiny mews and rolling purrs. The Bullfrogs resume their booming calls and I realize that this...this what living "in the moment" is all about. Zen. Taking time to acknowledge...appreciate...the minutia. Take it all in. very good.

A stack of TBR's for summer...and an amazing literary find in MJ Rose. Fully enjoying her Reincarnationist series. Currently on The Hypnotist. An amazing meld of fiction and non-fiction (historical based) with unforgettable characters...plots and settings. Well worth the look see.


                                                                                                 more days, Idgy!

As we plot and plan summer adventures over coffee and biscotti together. Wishing I were with you (and Che) next week in New Orleans! He will LOVE it :) And yes...perhaps late next Spring!
Have a wonderful time, hon.
See you when you get back!

And Congratulations to Diane and Sal...and thanks for the laughs from the Duck Updates!  Dollying her over the threshold, 

Will be there next April and can't wait to see both of you in Pennsylvania in August :)

Saw this the other day and it is soooooo Lillian (and us!)
                                                     We need it on tee-shirts.

Tiny snow pea pods emerging now. The herb basket is bushy and I have been using off it already. The green beans are almost ready to pick...and the cucumbers are rushing them along...come on...come on...we need the space...the Concords slowly climbing and my Old Fashion Single rose is budded ready to bloom. The Old-Fashion rose is heavily armed...the stems being covered with thorns both large and small. It is close to a cactus in the armour department. Aphids don't stand a chance.

Neither do gardeners without leather gloves!

Just a reminder...tonight through tomorrow's dawn watch for the Supermoon!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Cup

Celebrating the last day of Spring...iced tea and a good book...playing in my flowers...and bringing a bouquet of my Fairy roses inside. Tomorrow marking the first day of SUMMER!

Enjoying the tip I received to "force" roses so that they will have long stems suitable for a vase.  Simple actually. When the lead bud arrives trim all the secondary buds and greenery except for the leaves you want with the bud. Voila! Worked like a charm on both my American Beauties and my Fairy Roses. 



                                                      "And Arranged"

And a perfectly lovely End-of-Spring day!

Amazed at how quickly my Tributes have taken hold. Having only planted them last week (dried bare roots) I have a double row of 10...for a total of 20 plants...there will be fresh strawberries before "Idgy's" arrival and hoping to make jam before I leave for the Pennsylvania Gathering!

                                           "...Sample of my Tributes..."

And in the news...although there is so much to see and shake your head about these days...I found myself smiling and encouraged...having at least some of my faith restored in Humanity...and...yes...laughing out loud.

Foremost...researcher believe they have discovered a breakthrough drug in the treatment of leukemia using the pill ibrutinib which specifically targets Lymphatic Leukemia...the same type my late husband battled for over a year and a half.  Using ibrutinib instead of chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells without destroying the healthy ones. This is a huge breakthrough. Although it has arrived too late for Bill who passed in gives so much hope to the patients and families now fighting this deadly disease. 75% of adult patients with C.L.L and A.L.L die. Sobering statistics we were given at the onset of treatment.

The restoration of hope for my fellow man came after a news article about the Beaconsfield Mine collapse...when two of the trapped miners, while waiting to be rescued...asked that in addition to the food and water that was being lowered if there could be an MP3 player with music...and specified...maybe something from the Foo Fighters.  When they lowered the requested MP3 player...there was a note attached from David Grohl (lead vocalist for the Foo's) hand written letting them know that when they arrived on the surface there would also be tickets to the Foo Fighter Concert of their choice...and two beers waiting! Like KV would say:

                           "If that isn't nice...I don't know what is!"

And lastly...and the one which made me laugh out a public, of course, the FBI's wacky game of "Where's Waldo" they have been playing with various Mafioso over the past several decades.  Apparently if you need a field ploughed, a barn leveled, a crypt opened, or the football stadium astroturf is getting a bit ratty all you have to do is tell your favorite agent that Jimmy Hoffa is buried there. Who knew, right?

                                                   "Latest Hoffa Dig"

This has became such sport with the old guard of the Mafia that I can envision several aged mobsters around a table in a cigar-smoke filled room laughing their asses off with Zerilli...and nudging the next 88 year old wiseguy

"Hey time it's your turn...capisce?"

Of course we can't laugh too loudly...after all James Gandolphini (Star who parodied an anxiety-riddled therapy-seeking Mob Boss: Tony Soprano on American television) died suddenly of a heart attack in this week.

In Italy.

"Da Boss...yeah...he would likes to speak to youse. Nah...he didn't think it was funny at all...go figure...."

Like Dave Barry says "You can't make this stuff up."

In related news Generalissimo Francisco Franco remains unwaveringly dead.

The compost tote is coming along...highly caffienated red-worms I am suspecting, given the amount of coffee grounds added daily. Chris, joking if we took a handful of these with us fishing they would jump on the hook by themselves and the fish would eat them just to shut-them-up.

Red-worm:  I like fishing...don't you like fishing...I could fish all fish fish could I use a batch of coffee grounds right you like coffee...I love coffee...they say it makes some people jittery but not...

Huge Bass: "CHOMP"

And a slightly different fishing (well...water) tale from the oldest who phoned me excitedly a couple night's ago with

"Mom! You are NEVER going to believe what I DID today!"

Dare I ask?

"We were swinging off a rope into the nearby canal...brackish water...

(...okay...I am on FULL-Mother Alert at this point...because my Hoosier-born son doesn't seem to realize how prevalent the gator population is around these canals...)

and right in the area we were dropping swam two ginormous Manatee...We got to swim with Manatees, Mom!...I even was able to touch one!"

And for the next fifteen minutes he was my little boy again (instead of 26 y/o...been there-done that...not impressed...) and he chatted away about how huge and gentle they were and how cool the whole experience was...and despite my imminent fears of him being consumed by an alligator...when we got off the phone I had to smile

"Swimming with The Manatees"

No blood test required.
He is MY son.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Morning Cup (of Compost?)

Finished my Compost Bin this weekend...and realized that Composting is a lot like when you first learn to use Linux...suddenly you have "seen the light" and must convert everyone around you.

It is strange. Kind of a religious experience. Suddenly everything around you falls into two categories. Compostable and non-compostable.  Those annoying mailers shredded and into the bin. Just think of how satisfying this will be during the political season. Morning egg shells and coffee grounds off to the bin. Potato peels...banana and apple skins...dropped in the box. That photo that makes your ass look The cotton-gauze skirt that has been worn past transparency...ripped to small pieces and...outta here.  Jimmy Hoffa? Okay...that may take a while. Maybe the Mafia was just being environmentally friendly? The Green Hand. 

 Costa Nostros Reciclare.

"Yah....da bosses tomatoes are lookin' particularly good this year."

And simple. A large Rubbermaid tote with tight fitting lid...a cordless drill with a half-inch bit...and compost items. The holes for air circulation. The bin light enough to tip from end to end to turn the compost. Mine is sage green to fit into the decor. Starting with a green (fresh grass trimmings...produce trimmings et al)  layer...adding a layer of earth (to encourage microbes) and a handful of redworms from the garden (for castings)...topped with a brown dried layer (...paper...dried fall grounds...used straw bedding) continuing lasagne-like with the following layers. Turned frequently to encourage decomposition. I can't believe as many years as I have gardened, I never tried this before. By the end of Fall it will become rich top-soil to add to the garden for next Spring's garden.

And the top of the tote?  A warm place for the cat to sprawl...or a hassock while sitting on the patio...or a flat surface for a stack of books- summer reading...or maybe a jarred candle while sitting out in the evening...or a space for plants and baskets...the possibilities are endless.

For a good reference and a pdf of what can and can't be composted:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A "Father's Day" Cup

                      ANYBODY can be a father...but being a DAD is SPECIAL

So a nod to all the Dads out there...especially those who didn't have to be...but did anyway!

The end of a beautiful week. Enjoyed the warm sunny days and cooler nights. Good, since talking to my Florida boys I have's sooooo hot. It's sooooo wet.  LMAO. Suck it up...guys!

Plenty of bask...reading and gardening time. And a nice surprise as my tiny "fairy roses" are just beginning to bloom.

I love the colour...peach and yellows and a morning sunrise!

And enjoying a new release by Mason Curry...a non-fiction entitled Daily Rituals giving us a peek into the lives of well-known writers, composers, painters, photographers, sculptors, film-makers, poets, philosophers, and scientists...and how they create.

From the Daily Round of Mozart and Beethoven to the more recent Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King a glimpse into "preparation".  Sometimes as simple as a glass of wine or a bar of good chocolate. Sometimes so ritualistic it borders on the bizarre.

A fascinating read. 

And in queue for Stephen King's recent release "Joyland" which sounds very promising!  A fellow bibliophile swears it is written more in the old SK style. I am hopeful.  And our online book club has agreed to give NOS4A2 (Joe Hill) a chance! Having just finished it recently...I am wildly enthusiastic and give it a 10/10.

"Idgy" only

                                                                                                  more days!!!
and a few hundred gazing balls.
Can't wait! GIMY...

So Diane is now in "Duckville" with Sal...who has decided that her new attire should be a burqa...hon...I have DUCT TAPE. We can FIX this problem.  And Lillian informs us today she now has applied for her Russian Visa...doing retirement up in style...Ralph is keeping watch on the wildfires for us (and keeping the crops safe, I'm betting)...Carol is busy out showing The Beast...and Dave can't wait to sample our American Come on August!!!

Grilling steak with mushrooms and onions and going to settle in with a good film.
Enjoy the weekend!

                                            My oldest with his youngest!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Muddy "Cup"

Muddy knees and dirt 'neath my nails!

Productive and fun-filled week.

Enjoyed a trek with Loretta and Rita to Avon on Wednesday...where we plundered Olive Garden for Soup...Salad and Tiramisu...and Target...Bath and Body and Michael's...came home with some beautiful silks (flowers)...Godiva Chocolate...and Forever Red ( this warm new scent from B&B)

Out to Cox Nursery this morning and finally got my Tribute Strawberries bedded. Planted 20 crowns this afternoon...should give me all the berries I will use/freeze/or need to make jam (enough to share) and Sicilian liquor.

Working on my compost tote and should have it done by the weekend. Still have to get my vertical corner trellises up for the cucumbers before they start taking over. They are in a nice neat row at the back of the garden-spot but I can see a few rainfalls and they are going to cover the tiny garden like kudzu.

Donna and Eric sent home a handy gadget this week. A steamer. I had never cooked a meal in one before. They upgraded. I have a small rice steamer but this was a new and wonderful discovery for me.

Layered chicken...lemons and herbs in the bottom...and new potatoes and asparagus in the top. Set the timer...and left for a bubble bath with a glass of wine. By the time I was was dinner :) And during the steaming the house smelled amazing! Love it! Not heating up the whole kitchen. So healthy. And minimal clean up.Thanks for the tip, Donna!

Also discovered a new author ( Lord of War...I still prefer it my the time I became one...they had changed the word...) And enjoying a series of three of her books (fiction) a mingling of mystery with past life/reincarnation. The author M.J Rose and her novels:

The Reincarnationist

The Memorist

 The Book of Lost Fragrances

Not War and Peace, of course...just a nice Spring Afternoon's read. based on factual information/events...even learned a few historical tidbits...well-paced and interesting.

The frogs are back in my "frog spa" now. so far.  A mini wetland creation just for them. Will have to pick up mealworms "skyfood" soon. Last year I would sit down with a book and Tucker on my lap and 6 heads would peer expectantly out of the water. Goddess of The Frogs!

Laugh all you want. It is a great gig!

And new recipe this week. Have been doing a lot of steamed and fresh fruits and vegetables...yoghurt’s and ices...berries and the temperatures rise and summer comes creeping in! And it feels wonderful!

Have a wonderful Father's Day Weekend 
full of chillin' and grillin' as my oldest says!

                                         New Portrait of Miley I am working on
                                                Rita's (...too cute...) Maltese

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Sleepy Sunday Cup

Tea and the news and catching up with e-mail...

Actually BBC is The News. CNN and FOX have been relegated to ENTERTAINMENT these days because neither can be called "journalism" with a straight face.  And you can't completely blame the news-stations either...the ratings speak for is what "We: The People" ask for...because we have to know the up-to-the-minute on Angelina Jolie or Lindsay Lohan. Or whether all your conversations to Aunt Gertie are being turned in to Homeland Security by Verizon.

Walter must be rolling in his grave. 

 Lightly toasted from basking this week...and playing in the flowers.
 So nice to realize I will never ever ever have to mow a lawn Just sit out on the a book and voila...the groundskeepers zip by on their Dixie Choppers and leave the back "golf-course" manicured. And a ring-brings-maintenance if something breaks/doesn't work/needs fixing. And no lawn-care or service/repair fees.  

Home Ownership is highly over-rated.

Finished the Camus...and seriously the guillotine couldn't come quickly enough for me. A book with many wonderful "quotes"...and yes...perhaps during its time  the leading edge of existentialism...but I can sum up my reading/translating experience with a firm

"...hors avec sa tête..." 
     (off with his head)

Sartre or Nietzsche being much more straightforward, and much more interesting to my opinion

Drifting back into learning Italian.
Found the BEST tutorial from the BBC. Very Rosetta-Stone in nature and enjoying it tremendously! I've always loved languages. A complete immersion approach.  The best part is that Italian is composed of a Latin/German/French and Spanish blend so I am finding a great deal of it quite familiar, already.

                              Un tavolo por uno, al fresco...per favore.


Chris has been playing guitar a lot these days...and just getting better and better.
Has added "funk" to his repertoire, too. So now can play Classical, Funk, Rock, POP, R&B, Delta Blues and Slap, Folk and Country.


So...settling in for a quiet Sunday evening...busy week ahead.





Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Cup of Granita and Basking

                                                  Peach-Mango Granita

The return of warm breezes and sunshine...80 degree temps and a good bask!

And does anything say "Summer is Approaching" quite like homemade Italian Ice  (granita siciliana)~recipe to follow.

Enjoyed both the bask and the frozen dessert this week sprawled on a quilt with a stack of books and Tucker-Cat earlier this week. Lillian, my Chicago friend, having recently retired after an amazing realizing how wonderful the whole Retirement thing can be...with "I have Stones tickets!!!" and "It is after NOON...and I am sipping tea in my pajamas!!!" Which should be mandatory during your first week of retirement!

Congratulations, Lil...what good are laurels if you can't rest on them?

In 85 year old woman is learning what it is like to never have to worry about money again with her recent mega-lottery win. I am happy for her. It would be interesting if the Herald would do a story of her life from childhood until winning. Somehow I imagine as Maya Angelou once wrote " ain't been no crystal stair..." for her, and thinking of what this win could do~ for her...her son...and through philanthropy~ "humanity"...and it is humbling.

Kara and Dan have something to be proud of this week as their daughter, our friend and formerly Bill's Stalker ( Chris' has been chosen as the face of the Purdue University Agricultural Program she recently graduated!

                                 Ashley at Jonnypalooza...with her BIG lens

Congratulations, Ashley!!!!

The eldest riding Tropical Storm Andrea out today...a lot of strong winds and torrential rain (headed Lennon's way now~ where he is visiting his bio-Mom and Aunt in Massachusetts during part of his break). The Atlantic side tends to stay colder so hoping this thing doesn't pick up strength. 

Waiting...and waiting...and waiting...yes "Idgy" only

days...and around 345 gazing balls to go!

 It is going to be an amazing summer! And yes...we CAN make Granita out of Baileys. What a GREAT idea...GMTA...although the Espresso version is pretty incredible, too. And making arrangements for the beach, bonfire, cabin, wine and US! Also have a portrait shot (...yes...involving paint...) that I want to make of you :) And looking forward to just watching you relax and paint plein air again. And cooking together. And laughing together. And coffee and biscotti and chat out of the box. And REAL HUGS!

And only

Sleeps till the PA Gathering!  With Dave now learning (with Vicki's help, of course) a smattering of Yiddish which should be delightful with an English Accent.

"I say,'re being quite the PUTZ, old bean..."

And us learning that "Knocking Someone Up" has an entirely different meaning in the UK. 

(...and speaking of Lost in Translation...Gail having taught us that in Afrikaans a dutch-based language "lekker" is just the equivalent of "good"` not booze...and "now-now" actually means later. Which explains a LOT.  Maybe the Frontier Repair guy is speaking in Afrikaner? ) Would love to see your little corner of Africa sometime. Although I could live without the creepy-crawlies. A ten inch centipede on the ceiling...and I could fly back to The States without a plane!

And plenty to celebrate at this one...Diane's migration with The Duck to West Palm Beach...(watch for the pink flamingos) Darleen and Jeff's nuptials (Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel)...Lee and Marti's engagement ( THAT doesn't look like a cat bite Lee,put that thing away before someone gets hurt)...Lillian's Retirement (and the fact she didn't push her boss out that 11th story window on the way out...the last work day) and Ralph's Brownies!!!

Can't wait!!!

Struggling through Camus and The Stranger. Hoping to be finished after the weekend. A plus being I am dreaming in French again...which is kind of odd. And want to do a re-read in English soon after to see what i have missed...mistranslated.

Still, it is a lot of fun.

And yes...the recipe I promised.
 Granita. Italian Ice. Simple and delicious.

Granita Siciliana

1 cup any fruit juice or a combination of several juices...or wines...or liquors...or champagne...and although Lemon or Strawberry is the most traditional...a Bellini (Champange and Peach Juice) Italian Ice is possibly the definition of perfection. Garnish with a fresh peach slice.

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

Mix dissolving sugar completely.  Pour into a shallow metal pan (a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch.)

Freeze until just slushy. Break into flakes with fork and return to freezer to re-freeze. Just before serving ice in glass dessert cup or decorative wine glass run fork through ice again to flake further. Effect will be jewel-like. Serve with a complimentary garnish (i.e Mint sprig with lemon ice. Orange slice with Peach-Mango...Fresh Strawberry with al)

For Espresso Granita

1 cup strong espresso

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

(Follow above directions for Granita)

Just before serving dollop with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate curls. Can also add a single chocolate covered espresso bean for presentation.  Serve these with a dessert spoon.


Monday, June 3, 2013

A Frozen Cup

Okay...maybe a bit above freezing...but still pretty chilly with my Morning Cup!

And will someone please shut that warbling "Run, y''s gonna rain again" robin up. Seriously. If the robins are singing their rainsong and your local forecaster says it is going to be warm and dry...and it is sunny and there isn't a cloud in the yourself a favor...go back inside and grab your umbrella. It's going to RAIN. Trust me on this one.

Sure. It was a wonderful excuse to thin slice the remains of the sirloin steak in a pot with peppers and onions...broth and fresh savory...cracked pepper and a few simmer into Pepper Steak Soup and top with a dollop of sour cream for brunch...but enough is enough. It's JUNE. My cold weather plants are loving it. The snowpeas waving their tiny tendrils "...bring it on..." and the rows of green onions standing crisply at attention. Everyone so thrilled. Including Tucker who spent the entire morning curled in his wicker basket on a quilt. "Hell no..I won't go!!!" (outside)

And while we're at the hell is it JUNE, already? Middle of the Year. The Amazing Moments Jar stuffed pretty full by now. The best moment of every day preserved on a post-it and folded into the jar. How ya doin' with those January Resolutions?  Taking a look back at mine:

1. To de-clutter. House/Computer/Spirit/Mind and Body. Organize and Simplify. in good shape...still need to finish up the computer clutter...the spirit and mind are doing pretty well...and as always the body is a work in!

2. To Continue Zen Living. Mindfulness. Watch every sunrise and sunset. Notice and appreciate the little things in life. Gratitude.

Doing fairly well with this...and actually have taken the time to watch the sunrise with coffee every morning and the sunsets...which recently have been red orange and outstanding. Grateful to have the peace and serenity (and time) to accomplish this.

3. To be financially pro-active. Have everything paid in advance. Enormous amount of stress relief in that.  Save toward a Maine Holiday this year. Engage in a monthly random (financial) act of kindness...whether it is groceries/gasoline or a $50. bill for someone who really needs it.

Paying everything in advance these days. Can't tell you the degree of "breathing room" and serenity that creates. The Maine Holiday pre-empted by the Pennsylvania Gathering...and that is okay...can't believe how many of us that are going to be at this one. And trying to convince Carol to pick me up from Philadelphia in The Beast!  :) 

 And the $50. a month project is incredible. Until you have done this you have no idea how much $50.00 can make a difference in someone else's life. And how little you miss it in your own. The first elderly woman I handed the $50. to the cashier to pay for her groceries at Aldi's (while she was literally counting change to pay for her order...BEEN THERE-DONE THAT...) and had the cashier hand her the change...she hugged me with tears in her eyes. 

No matter how little we "think" we have....there is always some one who has so much less.

4. To Start a Moments Jar (inspired by a friend) an empty jar that you put in a slip of paper daily with one of the best moments of that do over the entire year...then read them on NYE...

Not only is the Moments Jar a great way to be mindful of how wonderful life is...but during the low spots it is a great way to pick out a handful and read them...and smile all over again!

And a few examples pulled out randomly:

"Possible Turn-Over of Prop 8 and Doma"

"The Warm Sunshine While  I Was Basking Today"

"A Tiny Baby's Laughter Filling the Library While I Read Periodicals"

"A Group of about 20 Chinese Students from Depauw riding the bus with me today and their voices excited...mingling...twittering in Chinese like a flock of colorful & noisy birds. I closed my eyes and suddenly it could have been Mass Transit in Hong Kong!"
 Yeah. It is the little things that are remarkable in life. And most importantly most of them don't cost a cent. Well...except chocolate.
 You couldn't BUY moments like these.


5. To be positive and happy and try to bring happiness to others. Gratitude for everything.

I am convinced every day more and more that THIS is the meaning of LIFE.

 So good!

Cut several of my red roses before the cold snap and brought them in to vase. Lennon's Mother's Day 2012 bush. Very happy with them this year. The severe prune back and selective de-budding left huge blooms. Quite pest resistant as well and extremely fragrant.

Also thinned the green onions...making sure to save and spread the "thinnings" to dry and bundle for next year's sets. 

Slowly paring my possessions down even further. No. I'll never make Ghandi's 100 items...but so much closer...and happier. No clutter. Everything is either functional/beautiful or both. Have gotten rid of the "stuff" that I'll never use...want...and in some cases replaced it with items I have always wanted. Like the towel warmer. Don't

And wanted to share a screen-shot of my Middle who is spending part of his college break to help deliver Meals on Wheels...after his the Vandyke, son! Miss you and see you next April! As you can see...your rosebush from last year turned out beautiful. Looking forward to seeing what the Damask's do!

On the DS front...there has been a new flat-bastard sighting! This time at Sal's as he waits for the arrival of Diane...and all her "stuff" and shoes...and lawn ornaments...and the pink flamingoes I am boxing up and That's right...breathe in the brown paper bag Sal... ~laughing~ BTW...absolutely LOVE your (un)welcome mat!

and I am pretty sure those are Vicki's FEET.  What do you mean blaming his disappearance on LuAnn and Lillian...OMG!!! Are you a hussy, too?

LuAnn...I think it is time we formed a recon mission.

Taking a literary dive into Albert Camus...who I haven't read since college. The book is l'etranger  (The Stranger) in the original French. Yeah...I know. Barely a day in and it is already giving me a brain-cramp. Feel like I am looking up as much as I am reading.
Still I love his quote:

"Au milieu de l'hiver, j'ai trouvé, au dedans de moi, il y avait un été 

(In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer...)


And it so suits my life these days! 

Life is good.