Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Chance!!

Last chance to enter my "celebrate my 100th post" giveaway! Any comments left after midnight, Pacific Time, tonight, Jan 31, 2012, will not be entered in the drawing, so what are you waiting for???

 Here's a little sneak preview of your prize, in progress. 
Studio assistant not included. 

Once again, here are the details:

Celebration of 100th post giveaway! 

Comment one time per post on any post (even old ones) between now and January 31st, 2012. 

Each comment good for one entry. 

Give me a shout out on whatever other social media you use and I'll enter your name an extra three times. (Send me the link!)

I will do a random drawing of all entries on February 1st and post the winner's name, address, birthdate, and social security  number...just kidding! I'll post your first name.

 Please make sure I can contact you by email as well, so I can let you know if you win and get your mailing address to send your prize! 

Open to all, including international. 

So set off the fireworks, start the music and let the party begin! I've done over 100 posts...yay!!!!

......What? No fireworks? 

If you aren't going to bring fireworks, at least would you bring cake? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Things on Your Monday

This is a happy thing: a dog who drinks  Starbucks.

In lieu of my regularly scheduled post, I bring you this: Happy Things. 

If you click on any of the pictures in the link you should be redirected to the original sites. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Recipe That Will Make You Popular Because We All Know How Important It Is to Be Popular

The other day I posted a picture of  a Caramel Apple Cheesecake bar. Today, you are in luck because I'm giving you the recipe for this divine, delectable, delicious, deliriously decadent dessert. (Did you like all that alliteration? It's true...every word.) I get requests for this every time we have a potluck. If you take this to a potluck you will instantly become the most popular person there. 

Those of us who are "popularity challenged" need all the help we can get!

Just kidding. 

But it will make you popular!

I'll post the picture again, just to make sure you get the full view. 

The recipe I used is here, but I'll repost it for you because I like to make your life easier like that! ;-) 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (I use whatever apples I have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel topping, recipe follows
1/2 cup caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened 

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

I don't have a print friendly version of this recipe so if you want to copy and paste it into your own document you can print it that way. Eventually I'll figure out how to do give you a print friendly option. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The other morning....

....when I went out early this was the view across the parking lot where we live:

Normally it looks like this:

At least it didn't look like this! 

Fog covering the Bay with only the tip of the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge visible.

The fog is beautiful and all, and I absolutely love living here in Nor-cal and wouldn't change a thing, but really, I'm a desert rat at my root level. I guess you can take the girl out of the Arizona-Sonoran desert but you can take the Sonoran desert out of her. 

Sunrise at Saguaro National Park near Tucson.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pursuing the Dream

(Go here for the giveaway!)



What's the difference? I've been thinking about that lately.

For example,

if I am sitting with my fork sunk into a piece of this

while I'm talking about losing weight, then I do not have a goal of weight loss. 

I have a dream

Or if I say that I am going to hike the Inca Trail to see this

while I'm sitting on the couch day in and day out, I do not have a goal to hike Machu Picchu. 

I have a dream

But if I'm doing a lot of this

and this 

Oops! Where did you come from???? You're cute but you don't really demonstrate the type of workout I'm looking for.  Looks like you need to a few more reps, dude. 

I mean this

and some of this

then I have goals

Goals to not only lose weight, but to hike the Inca Trail without having to be carried down in a body bag. 

Dreams and goals are both good, but let's understand that they are not the same thing. Dreams are thoughts and ideas. Dreams can inspire and motivate us, but to truly pursue them, to turn them into goals and make them reality, we need to put feet on them and take them beyond being merely wishes and turn them into decisions. Lay the groundwork, do the research, learn, take 
steps to actually make them happen. We need to take action, to do something, or we will wake up one morning realizing that we had lots of good intentions but no accomplishments. What's there to be proud of in that?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Which We Had a Minor Flood, I Go For A Run, and I Am Not A Horticulturist.

So we've had a lot of rain. A lot. In one night. Not even the whole night. On Friday evening the skies opened and dumped more rain in two hours than we had all year last year it seems. Enough to flood the entire foyer of our church. Actually, the flood could have been avoided if the storm drains on the street outside hadn't been made "environmentally friendly." Apparently the city installed filters in the drains and the filters are lame and caused the drains overflow. I was under the impression that drains are supposed to, you know, actually drain. But no. I was obviously misinformed. Fortunately we didn't really have any damage, though the carpet is still soaked. This happened on Friday night and now it's Thursday. But whatever. We (the operative "we..." I actually mean the guys) cleaned the black street dirt out of everything (glad it wasn't sewage...ewwwww!) and used a shop vac to extract as much water as possible.

Meh...it's life.  It will dry eventually.

My point in telling you that is to show you this: 
The rain has turned stuff green! 
The ice plants that cover the edges of the lagoon behind my house have suddenly gone from their sickly winter look to plump, green, full of water, and blooming. 
Another view of the ice plants...I threw in some kind of water birds in the background for your viewing pleasure.

The bottle brush are also putting out blossoms. As are the dandelions....

This purple stuff (yes, that is the scientific term: Purple Stuff.) is just starting to bloom. There will be lots more purple in a few weeks. So pretty.

Even this jade is blooming. I've seen jade bloom, but not like this! 

The crowing glory, though, is this (out of focus) tree. I have no idea what it is, being that I'm such an accomplished horticulturist and all. It had nothing, and I mean nothing on it just a few days ago. 

And last, but certainly not least, is a collection, though it may be hard to see, of  naturally occurring "unwanted silk flowers that still have their labels thrown over the side of someone's balcony and left to languish in the weeds at the water's edge." A common sighting around these parts. It's nicer when they are attached to a park bench

All these are pictures I took with my phone on my jog yesterday. 

Just to round things out here are a few more shots: 
Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but the sky was brilliantly blue. 

Kayaks parking for residents along the dock.

Someone's cat enjoying the beautiful weather. I may or may not have offered to scratch his ears and I may or may not have spent too long hanging out with him. 

And lest you think things are too idyllic on my jogging route, I cross under the freeway which is a bit unnerving when the trucks rumble across. The whole things shakes. I guess it's that earthquake-proof thing going on. 

And this, people, is a picture of my lily white legs after my run. The angle shows my calf all splayed out and looking huge. They may or may not be that size in reality. Let's pretend they're not, shall we? Let's pretend they are muscular and toned and tan, hmmm? 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I was up to yesterday.

Among other things. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crows and Giveaways (I'm not giving away a crow.)

Note: Scroll down in this post for a giveaway! 
The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

I have always loved the work of Robert Frost, thanks to Mr. Gray, but...that's not a hemlock tree. And there isn't any snow. I always picture this poem having been inspired by a walk in the woods, but I wasn't in the woods.


Ok, ok, so the picture really has nothing to do with the poem. And it's poor quality as well because I took it with my phone. But it's a crow!


This is my 100th post!!! woohoo! Set off the fireworks, start the music, let the party begin! 


You didn't bring fireworks? 

You don't have your playlist ready? 

You mean...there's no party? 

Does this mean I haven't reached a super-duper impressive milestone in bloggy-land? I'm actually behind the times and most people are looking at something like a gazillion posts instead of a piddly hundred?

*sigh* I've always been a late bloomer....

Ok. It is what it is. But I'm still doing the giveaway I promised some time ago! Leave a comment on this or any post (even my old ones) between now and January 31st and I will enter your name in a random drawing for a groovy and cool gift, the exact item yet to be determined (maybe a make up bag, maybe an infinity scarf, maybe a ????...but whatever I finally decide to make for you, I know you'll love it!). I will guarantee, however, that it will be handmade by moi, and the name will be drawn randomly. Each comment is one entry, but only one comment per post, please. Open to all, even international, though the mail will take longer to reach you. If you give me a shout out on your facebook, twitter, or other social media, let me know (send me the link!) that will be good for three extra entries. 

So! To recap and simplify: 

Celebration of 100th post giveaway! 

Comment one time per post on any post (even old ones) between now and January 31st, 2012. 

Each comment good for one entry. 

Give me a shout out on whatever other social media you use and I'll enter your name an extra three times. (Send me the link!)

I will do a random drawing of all entries on February 1st and post the winner's name, address, birthdate, and social security  number...just kidding! I'll post your first name.

 Please make sure I can contact you by email as well, so I can let you know if you win and get your mailing address to send your prize! 

Open to all, including international. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Wonder if Cats Need Wellies

It rained off and on all night. No storm, just a nice gentle winter rain. This means that I can wear my rain boots!!!

I love my rain boots.

I could have used these when we lived in Liverpool. I believe I would have called them "wellies" at the time, though.

I've had them for about two years but I still love them and they are still in pretty good shape. I have an umbrella to match. A girl's gotta match, even in the rain, ya know? (insert winking face here)

In other news, the cat went out early this morning; I let her out about 5:30 and apparently she hid under a bush until I let her in at 7:00.

Can you see her little wet kitty-prints?

  I wonder if she would like some rain boots too....


                                                                                                                             ...Probably not.

PS! I mentioned some time ago, but I can't find the post so I can't link to it, that once I reach 100 posts I'll do a giveaway. That means....

...wait for it.....

....that my next post will be my 100th! Woohoo!! Something fun on the way! ;-)

                                                                                                                                           All images mine except cats in rain boots. Credit here.                                                                                                                                  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Someone I Don't Know

To the person who taped silk flowers and a pinwheel to the park bench:

I wonder who you are. I wonder if you are someone who is struggling with difficulties and you placed those flowers on the jogging path to get outside your immediate thoughts and remind yourself that the circumstances of your life won't always be a struggle. Or I wonder if you are someone who just likes to do little happy things for strangers.

Whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for reminding me that not everyone cuts people off on the freeway. Thank you for reminding me that not everyone is rude and miserable and looks away when I smile and say hello on my daily jogs. Thank you for reminding me that there are nice people in the world. (Not that I had forgotten, but some days it seems that nice people are few and far between!)

Thank you for making me smile.

I hope that whoever you are and whatever your circumstances you have a lovely day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Miracles, Drawing Near, and Purpose

A year of miracles, a year of drawing near to Christ. This is sort of the theme in our church this year, and I have added to that for my own personal life, that this year is a year of purpose. As in "to purpose to do something." Or "living with purpose." For so long I've wandered in and out of this interest and that hobby, and I find myself wandering in a wasteland of unfinished projects. Not only physical projects like quilts or stitchery or half finished garments stashed behind the sewing machine, but also...how to describe it? Intangible projects; specifically the regaining of my health and healthy body shape and size. Not that my health is bad. In fact, it's very good, but it won't continue that way if I don't get busy.

With all this in mind I have set some goals for this year. Not resolutions, but goals.

 There is a difference, by the way. :-)

My goals include, aside from trusting God for His miracle power to work in and through my life, and drawing near(er) to Him ("...draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." James 4:8), to finish everything I start this year. For this reason, I have been reticent to resurrect the ole' blog here. If I'm going to do it, I need keep up with it. I know it's not a huge deal, but this issue of finishing what I start and being consistent is important to me and I intend to be mindful and live with purpose in every single area of my life. I am purposing to do this. I'm really not sure about the grammar in all of this, but I think I'm getting my point across effectively!


I'm going to give the blog some direction. I've never had much direction with it; it's mostly been an avenue of creative outlet for me, and it will continue to be so, but I intend to add a purpose to it this year. I will be posting pictures of our lives, if not on a daily basis then at least regularly, as one (of many!) ways to keep a connection with our daughter, as she lives in another state. As an aside, I thought about taking part in one of these "post a photo a day every day all year" things but I don't want to commit to something I may not follow through with...see above!

So without further ado, I give you a picture of what I am doing every week day at 6am.
Notice the bookmark...a gift from a dear friend. So pretty, and it folds over and has a small flat magnet on each side. 

I get up at o'dark thirty and spend time in prayer and the word of God. I hate getting up, and I do mean hate, but once I'm up (and get caffeinated!) it's my very favorite time of the day. There's something very peaceful and satisfying about the very early morning just before the sun comes up.  The day is filled with potential and possibility and I love that! The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, the ultimate example of a godly woman, "riseth also while it is yet night..." Throughout scripture we are exhorted to rise early. Maybe I'll do a post about specifically about that. Not now, though, this post is too long as it is!