Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I don't do it often - usually only when I'm sick with pneumonia and the doc is threatening to throw my butt in the hospital. Theeeeen I'll take a day off work. But this season struck me with the notion to take one of my personal days today and do a wee bit of shopping for Christmas. So, I lined up a wonderful sub to take my class for the day - so I could play!
Off I ran from store to store - helping Santa with wish lists from my son and daughter. This is the first Christmas in a couple of years where I can afford to 'play Santa', so I was happy to do my part to make Santa's visit merry and bright!
Oh, but I wasn't the only elf out spreading holiday cheer!
After returning from trip #2, a box greeted me at my front door! It was chock-full of goodies from my amazing blogging buddie, Jolene! She had a drawing 'at her place' a week ago, and I was the oh, so lucky winner!
Tucked inside was a treasure of Christmas cheer! A jar of the most dangerous trail mix - nuts, raisins, m&m's - uh...this won't make it until Christmas, I can tell you that right now!
Some sparkley presents all ready for a note or tag to someone, a bag of candy cane Hershey kisses !!! (just when you thought kisses couldn't be improved!) and the nicest family Christmas card that I have ever, ever seen or received! Jolene is amazing....and her creativity and thoughtfulness is so evident in her card... simply beautiful!
But wait.... there's more! A pair of fuzzy ice skates hang on my tree - whispering of winter fun and memories! So cute!
And then, an item that you can't eat, but you are so tempted to try!!
I was shocked when I found out that this dear gal actually drove to my house and delivered my present in person!!! But she thought I was at school (which I normally would be) and I had no idea she was out front, so we didn't get to met face-to-face! I am so bummed about that!
I found her number, called her up immediately and had the NICEST visit with her! What a doll, she is! And she's just as sweet, funny, kind and nice on the phone as she is on her blog! We're going to try to get together for lunch over the next couple of weeks - that would be so wonderful! Jolene, what an angel you are and I thank you so much for this treasure! : )
Tomorrow, it's baking day for a cookie exchange - I'll be making Cranberry Shortbread Cookies. I got so much done today that I'm all set to have a wonderful weekend.
Blessings have found their way to me - in so many forms... and I am grateful for all of the wonderful things that have happened to my family and my dear, dear friends. I am especially grateful that I am able to do for those people who have stood by me without falter these past years. I experienced the bleakest holiday two years ago. One that stripped me of joy, cheer, hope and security. This year, I will quietly give thanks to Him for all of the goodness, blessings and joys that grace my life every single day and for being able to feel joy, cheer, hope and security once again.
I wish you blessings of your own for you, your family and your friends.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 5:36 PM
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Come... put on your walking shoes.
Let's take a walk and enjoy the beauty.
Fall has finally arrived in the desert, along with a tease of winter. I had planned on spending yesterday in my pajamas...but...as my mom would say...
"Get out - and blow the stink off of you!"... terms of endearment.. truly! The clouds, sprinkles and breeze are balm for the soul...
...beautiful, isn't it??
Last night was a perfect night for a fire, favorite p.j.'s, and a yummy pot roast... all happy in my Le Creuset!
Have I told you that I love my Le Creuset sooo much that I take it with me up to the cabin when I go? (um, along with my favorite knife and wooden spoon... my trinity of cooking!)
The new book by Nicholas Sparks, The Choice, was a perfect activity to do today... an easy read and perfect for the day. (grab a tissue before the last few chapters, though)
Hmmm.... looks as if one or two of Santa's elves were busy while M and I ran to IKEA today!
Those sly guys.....
M and I headed over to IKEA to check out a new mattress for her. I love this place, but I also know that once you get in there, you can't get out without picking up tons of things you just KNOW you need! So, I've steered clear because of finances and determination.
Well, let me tell you! I can't BELIEVE what we walked out of there with and for the price!! One twin-size mattress, one complete set of twin sheets, one complete set of queen-size sheets (my absolute FAVORITE sheets are my pink ones from here... and a complete set - flat, fitted and two pillow cases comes to about $28.00!!!), a twin-size DOWN comforter, two FEATHER DOWN pillows, a red throw pillow, a tri-picture frame, two dish towels, a set of 4 drinking glasses, and a package of 100 tea lights.... all of this... for $262. That's it. !!!!!!!!
I LOVE-A IKEA!!I'm thinking of making my vegetable soup tonight since I didn't last night... so I think I'll put a log on ... change into my loungy p.j.'s, maybe pour a glass of merlot and go whip up something 'wicked' in the kitchen! The sky is rolling with gray, heavy clouds and there is much to be grateful for and to celebrate. My wish is for your week to be peaceful and that you find time during it to wear your favorite p.j.'s, sip something yummy and enjoy the moment.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 3:45 PM
Friday, December 07, 2007
Oh, I've planned this night for several days... since the first weather forecast predicted rain moving in for the weekend!
I ski-daddled out of school right behind the kiddos and made my way to the library and store. Then home an hour later for an easy dinner and pink pajamas! The rain began it's plip-plop in earnest about an hour ago and the plan is for it to continue on and off for the weekend. Oh ye-ahh......
Plans for tomorrow??
Well, ok.. maybe a few...such as....
make some scones for breakfast, maybe or maybe not
stay in my pajamas for the day
read the new book by Nicholas Sparks
do a load or two of laundry
and most importantly....
make a batch of my wickedly fantastic vegetable beef soup...
of course... in my Le Creuset!
a Yankee Candle (Frosted Pumpkin) scenting the air, a firelog burning quietly in the fireplace, Christmas lights glowing around the house, a cat snuggled down into the comforter...snoozing contently....
...no appointments, no time commitments, no obligations to anyone... for a whole day.
pure decadence, I tell you!
May your Saturday bring you the ability to take time to enjoy the beauty of this time of year in peace...doing what you like to do the most!
*By the way...thank you all my dear buddies for your kind wishes and comments for a Happy Birthday! Each one was so appreciated! You are wonderfully kind-spirited women! Simply amazing, you all are! : )
pondered by Carol Dunton at 7:12 PM
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
After work commitments, the ya-ya's and I met at our favorite little place - for celebrating, of course!
courtesy of my new buddies from Montana, Jean and Ron! They were in the booth next to us and we all struck it up so well that they became such an honored part of our evening! (Thank you again, Ron and Jean, for your kindness and generousity! We all love you!)
pondered by Carol Dunton at 6:25 PM
Saturday, December 01, 2007
the perfect start to a perfect day....
It's cloudy and damp; the desert having been soaked by a storm that came in yesterday morning. My flowers and plants got the best soaking that they've ever had! The desert smells fresh, clean, revived! The cool air makes for a crisp breeze - our version of fall! Saturday's don't get any better than this!
Well, maybe an added tidbit here and there....
Cranberry Almond scones hot out of the oven with a creamy cup of coffee to celebrate such a beautiful day! It's a recipe that my dog apparently loves! I had made up a batch of the dry ingredients to take to the cabin last week for Thanksgiving. I mixed the flour, sugars, powders along with the dried cranberries and put them in one of the bags that we were taking up with us. Problem was ... when I came home from school the next day, the bag was no longer where I had left it. As a matter of fact, it was out in my back lawn...the ziploc bag ripped open... and a pile of 'dry ingredients' laying there in the grass... minus the cranberries, but decorated with blobs of dog drool. Lovely. So I whipped up another batch and put it UP on the shelf where said dog could not reach it. What possessed a dog to drag a bag of flour out into the yard and pick out the cranberries is beyond me.
Anywhoo, it really is a wonderful way to start such a wonderful day. Plans are to be home alone and clean. Afterwards, I am going to take a deep breath and go out into the garage and open a box or two of Christmas things. I have a beautiful garland to replace my autumn one around my front door with. I am struggling with opening the box of other decorations, though. Hard to do at this point in my life's journey. But a beautiful spirit at school has gently suggested that I try it. So try I am. A pot of homemade vegetable soup in my Le Creuset, a firelog burning and peace and gratitude - all filling the air of my home this evening.
What is your 'favorite' day like for you this time of year?
pondered by Carol Dunton at 10:37 AM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
pondered by Carol Dunton at 3:54 PM
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I'd like to take a few minutes to say thank you to you.....
You see... I've been a bit absent from my blog. The truth is, I have been working through some difficult times and emotions. My family's 'calendar' is clear through most of the year, except for Miss M's birthday at the end of May. But come Halloween, the roller coaster ride begins. For me this year, it has meant the anniversary of my mother's passing and her burial (on Halloween), my first anniversary officially divorced (after 29 years), my son's birthday, my birthday, throw in Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the ex's birthday after the new year.
As a dear friend, J, recently said... 'You're not in the 'fight or flight' mode for the first time in years, so now you are feeling all of those emotions that you put to the side because you were in 'fight or flight'."
The holidays are portrayed by 'Madison Avenue' as a Norman Rockwell vacation...a time of love,
family, traditions and joy. Oh, how I ache for all of those things in my heart...in my being. But the truth is that, for many, there is also heartache, loss and sadness. I am working through all of these emotions...from love and joy, to loss and sadness. I am sure that I am probably not alone.
I want to thank.... you.
You have patiently allowed me to take time to privately work through so many emotions. You have checked in on me to just say 'hi' and see how I was doing. My dear girl, Paige... thank you for your hug and your checking in on me... you will never know how tender and kind those gestures were and what they meant to me. All of you have allowed me time...and for that, I am grateful.
So, I thank you for your patience. I thank you for you kindness. I thank you for bearing with me. I thank you for your 'friendship'.
May your day unfold a special treasure for you tomorrow. You are most deserving of it!
pondered by Carol Dunton at 6:07 PM
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I know it's been a while since I last wrote a post. I think about it. But don't seem to have the inspiration to write. I believe this silence is from inner reflection. October is a wonderful, beautiful month. My favorite month, I do believe. But it is also a month in which many loved ones have passed.... in years past, and in this present one. So, perhaps, it has become a bit quiet. A bit reflective. A bit private.
I think of you, my reader, almost every day. I think of how I have not posted for a good week or so. I think of how some of you might think I've quit writing. I think of how my spirit has not had anything inspirational to say... or to share.
Then I have a thought of 'I have to post SOMEthing! It's been so long! Think! Think of something! Anything... who cares if it comes from your heart, your passion!?'
But then... my spirit reminds me to be true to myself....
So quiet it has been....
pondered by Carol Dunton at 11:45 AM
Friday, October 26, 2007
pondered by Carol Dunton at 6:35 PM
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
How human nature it is to go through our days...assuming tomorrow will be pretty much like today. I do it. You might, too. It's human nature to.
But every so often, we are shaken from our routine. Events happen to remind us, often harshly, that what we took for granted yesterday is not in our world today.
Such an event happened to my daughter's and my world this morning.
Her band teacher passed away after being in a car accident on the way to work this morning.
He would have been 27 years old next week. He leaves behind a wife and a 1 year old daughter.
He also leaves behind an entire high school in mourning, students in disbelief that their much-loved teacher is never lifting his conductor's wand again to lead them through such beautiful music, parents trying to console their children at his loss, while wiping their own tears away, and a community who goes to bed tonight without one of its finest members.
Two summers ago I made the decision to buy my daughter a new clarinet for her high school band classes. I had no idea as to what to look for when purchasing such an expensive instrument. I emailed Mr. R... telling him of my plans and asking for any information he might suggest to help me make a purchase that would serve my daughter well. I will never forget his kindness and the email he sent back. He started out by saying such kind things about M... and how excited he was that I was doing this for her...how her music would improve with such a purchase. He then gave me sooo much information ... models to look for, manufactures, reeds, materials that were good, and not-so-good. I printed his email out and took it with me as I shopped; using it as a guideline and checklist for what I needed to get.
I found the perfect clarinet for my daughter - all based on Mr. R's suggestions. When M first played her new instrument, she was almost in disbelief that she could make such a beautful sound from a clarinet...and she had a renewed passion and excitement for her talent! I emailed Mr. R to thank him so very much for his help in my purchase. I thanked him for his time. I thanked him for his support. I thanked him for being my daughter's teacher and for helping her strive for excellence and for nurturing a passion for music and performing in her. I thanked him.... sincerely ... and from my heart.
I am deeply saddened by Mr. R's passing. I will miss that man. Watching him conduct the band during their concerts was always entertaining. He was a slight man physically, but his passion and talent and love for his students and profession were never more evident than when he stepped up onto the conductor's podium... wand raised. He would lead those students through numbers that honestly, if you were to close your eyes and simply listen, you would think you were listening to a professional band playing... not 50 hormone-ridden, braced-teeth teenagers. Afterwards, as we applauded loudly with pride and joy in our hearts, he would humbly step down off the podium... wipe his sweaty brow, and extend his arm gracefully to his students...giving them all of the praise, accolades and applause that they so richly deserved.
My daughter saw him last night at a restaurant which was hosting a fund raiser for the band's trip to California in April. As always, Mr. R was giving of himself for the betterment of his students.
Eighteen hours later.... he was gone.
You know why I write this post tonight. You've heard it before. Call it a cliche'... but how true it is... to tell those close to you that you love them. To say 'thank you' to someone. To tell that person 'I'm sorry'... the one you've thought of saying that to, but just quite haven't. And perhaps I write to say that if your child has a teacher in their lives whom you appreciate.... tell them. If all you do is scribble a 'Thank you for all you do for my child.' on a scratch piece of paper... do it. While you have the chance.
Mr. R.... God's speed ... and may Heaven behold the most beautiful of music tonight.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 5:08 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
pondered by Carol Dunton at 1:21 PM
Friday, October 12, 2007
So, what is one to do when a dear ya-ya must appear in court due to a minor traffic mishap??
Why, celebrate, of course!!
And we did! With a feast that even that elusive little spirit, Fall Fairy, would be proud to partake in!
But business first. Beloved ya-ya had a date in traffic court this morning, and she was not going alone. So the three of us met up at the court house bright and early. After passing through security (the underwires in our bras cooperated by NOT setting off the alarm) we proceeded to Court Room #5. We were here for support and justice, so we sat ourselves down up front! The 'pretty in pink' court clerk was immediately caught off guard by the support we effused for our dear ya-ya and our lack of fear or intimidation. She quickly excused herself from the room; leaving us and some trembling defendants to occupy ourselves for the next 25 minutes. Us ya-ya's bantered light-heartedly about gardens, flowers, fall and other topics of merriment; much to the bewilderment of others in the gallery. No mind. We were here to support our girl and make it an easier experience for her. As court time drew near, Miss Pink reappeared; obviously having spoken with the judge to inform him of the powers-that-be in the front row. When said judge entered, we didn't even have to rise, as it was obvious...da girls were loyal only to one. Within 3 minutes of approaching the bench, our dear girl was given her sentence... driving school at the wonderful price of less than half of what the fine would have been! The judge sensibly realized that he needed to go light and respect the force of the 3! Wise judge! Less than 10 minutes after court had begun, the force of 3 were out of court and on our way to celebrate!!
Pumpkin-spice coffee - check
Fruit salad - check
Savory Pumpkin Quiche - check
Mimosas - check
A passing of gifts from our girl - a token of thanks for supporting her (from yelling 'hello' to her as we drove up to court to making mention of things that one should not mention in a court of law).
Out to the English garden we go!!
But just a moment...
Our girl has one more gift to give...
one of herself....
For our gal is an artist and has captured the spirit of 3 in paintings... one for me and one for our other....
Colors from our trip on Tuesday...hues of Autumn, leaves of change...
Brush strokes of love and 'always'...
A hummingbird chatters and sings of the beautiful weather... a cat (who shall remain nameless) climbs up the tree and then looks befuddled at us... train whistles lazily drift on a slight breeze... sunlight dapples flagstone, pansies and petunias...
...yes... the force of 3 is a powerful force....always
1 baked pie crust
*I made this recipe up for this morning, so I've only made it once, but it was very good. If you like a bit of cheese in your quiche, I would suggest adding 3/4 cup of shredded swiss (or provolone or monterey jack) to the egg mixture.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 11:29 AM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Oh yes! It's that time of year when I make my annual trek up to a secret place in the woods....a place of red maple trees, green pine boughs and all the natural beauty that a forest provides!
I first found this place about 7 years ago on one of my jaunts running the roads of this state. It's definetly off the beaten path, up on the rim, tucked way back into the forest. As I was driving along this dirt road, a brilliant patch of red, flame orange, crimson...all these autumnal colors just jumped out from the browns, greens and beige of my beloved forest! I pulled over, hiked down a slope and stood in a secluded grove of maples...dressed in their autumnal finest! I was amazed for I had not seen colors like this since living in Ohio....29 years earlier!
I found Autumn in Arizona !!
Since that day, I have returned each year to just 'be' with the closest thing there is to Autumn here. Over the last couple of years it has evolved into a wonderful trek with my ya-ya's...N and R! And yesterday was our day to celebrate the most favored season of all!
Camping chairs set up.... picnic baskets opened and goodies laid out....
coffee bar set up.... magazines and books unpacked....
blankets and quilts unfolded....
slow, deep breaths taken...
And a little gift for you - a bit of our autumn celebration...enjoy!
pondered by Carol Dunton at 10:13 AM
Monday, October 08, 2007
pondered by Carol Dunton at 5:04 PM
Monday, October 01, 2007
It was incredibly hard this morning to get up for work. Sure, it was Monday, but that wasn't really why. Here's why...
It was cloudy....
and the first day of October.
It should be a law that if the first day of October is cloudy with rain likely, then everyone gets to stay home and bake oatmeal raisin cookies, knit a little while watching Martha, drink coffee with honey and cream, read your fall magazines, make a pot of Pumpkin Corn Chowder in your flame orage Le Creuset dutch oven and watch the gray sky softly smile upon you.
But it's not a law... and I had to go to work. Crum...
But returning home had my little autumn spirit all a flutter with plans of creating my yummy Pumpkin Corn Chowder.
*now, don't you all go wrinkling up your nose all snooty like and sticking out your tongue and muttering "Yuuuuck!" Just put your tongue back in, smooth out that nose of yours and give me a minute...
This recipe is one I developed and it just simply never fails me. I take it up to the cabin in the woods. I make it in a crock pot. I make it on the stove. I make it on the weekend. I make it when it's cold.
Pumpkin Corn Chowder
1 big onion, chopped
1 clove garlic - chopped finely
4 stalks celery, chopped (but not too small!)
1 1lb. bag frozen corn
2 bay leaves
1 T. dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (that's right..nutmeg..and don't leave it out!)
freshly ground pepper (I use mixed colors of peper in my grinder - pink, white, black and green)
1 - 32 oz. carton chicken stock
1 can evaporated milk (not the sweet stuff!)
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
Brown bacon in dutch oven until a bit crispy over medium-high heat. Drain off fat. Add onion and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic, celery, corn, rosemary, bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper (careful with the salt because the bacon and stock have salt in them, too) Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add stock and pumpkin. Stir gently to combine. Add evaporated milk, stir. Cook over low heat for abut 30 minutes until warm. (Do not cook over high heat or the milk will curdle.)
pondered by Carol Dunton at 7:25 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2007
My good friend up north, Miss Foolsewoode, has 'tagged' me...oh, a game of tag!! So I get to copy these insightfull blogging tips, then add my own at the end... so here we go! The * tips are my favorite...
1. Look, read, and learn.
2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other.
3. Don’t let money change ya!
4. Always reply to your comments.
5. Blog about what you know & love.
6.* Don’t use filthy language-buy a dictionary.
7. Blog about something educational.
8.* Be yourself; others will follow.
9. Don’t have too many blogs that will become a chore to maintain.
10. Keep it simple, user-friendly, interesting and organized!
11. Keep the blog simple and sweet!!!
12. Share with others your thoughts and don’t be shy!
13. Never ask for link exchange. Blog hop to increase traffic.
14. Don’t clutter your blog with ads all over the place. IT’S IRRITATING.
15. Don’t comment for the sake of commenting. Some looked too fake and its a big turn off!
16. Share something interesting and you will gain more readers.
17. *Show that we care to all bloggers, treat each other as friends.
18. *Pictures say a million words. Keep them coming!
19. *Blogging should be fun or you’ll get tired of it pretty soon.
20. *Don’t think people will come to your blog if you’re not willing to pay a visit to them.
21. Everyone loves read short posting and best, illustrated with a picture.
22. Try not to publish more than 5 posts in one blog a day. Even if it’s from feed reader, it’s quite hard to digest and catch up reading everything.
23. Blog: the other window to peek into people’s life, minus the trouble. Keep a certain level of privacy to yourself.
24. Never tell your readers that you are going on vacation. That’s basically telling them to not visit your blog for a week. Instead, write several posts, and take advantage of the timestamp feature.
25. Try and write with people in mind that are “somewhat similar to you”. Allow your audience to identify with your blog and feel “at home”.
26. The key to a good article is a good introduction. A joke, a question or a picture does wonders.
27. If you are looking to earn an income blogging read StevePavlina.com and Problogger.net, you will be amazed at what you can learn.
28. Write for yourself first. Remember that it takes time, effort, patience…and above all, daring. [The Laidback Buddhist]
29. Photos for your blog should always be shot in the RAW! No, not in the buff, but in RAW format. That leaves you a lot more room to play with your subject. Finally, make sure not to step on your subject (see below).
30. Blog about what you’re interested in, and what you want to share. And it’s your blog, you make your rules, which is why I can make 2 suggestions, I make the rules here.
31. Don't try to impress anyone...or write to anyone else...stay true to yourself...no matter what that looks like.
32. Let your passion be your guide.
Now it's MY turn to play tag! So.... I tag two of my favorite bloggers:
Jolene of 'Give a Family Tree a Shake...'
Jassman of 'Follow Your Bliss'
Ladies, simply copy this list, star your favorite ones, and add your own tip at the end... Thank you for playing 'tag' with me........... YOU'RE IT!! : )
pondered by Carol Dunton at 9:48 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2007
What a beautiful day it has been! I made a trip to a new nursery (for me) and found some wonderful gifts for some friends of mine...I'll show you in a minute. A quick trip to the grocery store found my perfect pumpkin just waiting for me to put him in my cart, so I did! And a little friend of his! Gambit has to check this out, of
First gift is a pair of lantana, for my friends, the butterflies! Now, I'm not a fan, really, of lantana, but those sweet insects are...and if I want them to grace my garden, then lantana it is!
And this gift was for the baby Gamby and his sis, Bella.... catnip!! As you can see, I haven't even gotten it into the garden, and Gambit is already in love!
Speaking of Bella, once again... these two show up and it's a frolic in the garden! She's a mess, and totally happy!
For me, I bought some baby zucchini plants. I'm going to try my hand at these guys. I'm hoping to make some zucchini bread from them!
Good grief! Such help, they are....
I also picked up some crook-necked yellow squash...one of my favorites!
This little guy was talking the whole time I was out in the garden... I think he was chewing me out! "Hey lady!. How about refilling my feeder with some fresh nectar?!?!" Okay, okay!
Oh oh! Someone found the planted catnip!
He can't resist it!
..... my cat with a buzz......
Tomorrow, more planting.... I think seeds, this time. Sunflower, sweetpea, nasturtium....
oh, happy dancing in the garden in Autumn!
pondered by Carol Dunton at 8:56 PM