Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Do You Say We Have A Contest?!!?? (Winner Announced)

**UPDATE** - We have a winner! Congratulations to comment #7 - Jane!! Your bag and scarf will be on their way to you before the first autumn chill! I loved reading what fall means to everyone - there were many common threads, and yet, many unique reminders....just wonderful! Thank you to all of you who played along! You are amazing spirits and I'm grateful to have you visit me!
Original post:
When the temperature outside is this.....

....and Skittles does this.... (can you believe she's 14 years old and lays out in this heat??? Our home IS air-conditioned, COULD come in!)

... it makes me think of this....

....and this....

I use it as a mind game...sort of a 'survival technique' to make it through the loooooong, hooooooooot days of summer in the desert - and to keep my mind from constantly questioning why anyone with a lick of sense would LIVE in a desert ....!????!

And it also makes me think that it's about time that I held a wee little contest for all of you who so kindly visit me! Did I say 'contest' ?? Why, I do believe I did!

I went shopping to one of my favorite little stores, Trader Joe's. Do you have one near where you live? I love visiting this eclectic place - you can find the greatest little treasures there. I scored a bag there that I just love! It's one of their little reuseable shopping bags and I just had to have one.... I mean, two..... no wait a minute, I mean three. I am going to use one as my new 'school bag' for everyday use... isn't it cute?? I love the shape and size of it - perfect for toting my lunch and other goodies that I take with me. I'm also crazy over the design, print and colors of it!

Guess what? I got you one, too! Oh yes, I thought you needed one, too!

To put in that sweet little bag, I'm throwing in one of these .... a hand-knitted scarf made by moi for you - all in autumnal colors (the name of the yarn color is 'harvest'...don't you love that??)

.....and with the prettiest variegated ribbon fringe on both ends! I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I know!!
You'll be glad you have it when that first autumn chill greets you one morning!

Is it beginning to cool off in here a bit??

I also picked me up my favorite kind of Luna bar... Toasted Nuts 'n Cranberry. I wuv these... and they are sooo good for us women, too. Oh, and look! A new sweet little green tin of Trader Joe's Green Tea Mints. I wuv these, too, and ran out, so into the basket a new tin goes....

Wait a minute! There went two tins! And an extra Luna bar!

OHH! A Luna Bar and a sweet tin of mints is heading into the bag with the scarf for a lucky winner of our contest.

So here is the way to play. Leave a comment for this post telling what your favorite thing is about fall. (This includes you 'lookie-lou's' who visit regularly but seldom, or never, leave a comment. Come on! Be brave! Tell us why you love fall! It's easy! See that thing down below that says '_____ touchpoints' ??? Just click on it and you'll be good to go!) Maybe you love the change of weather. Maybe the leaves burst with color where you live. Do you have a certain dish that you tend to prepare only during the autumnal season? Well, tell us about it!! Only one entry per person, please. Deadline for leaving your comment will be Sunday @ midnight - MST. A winner will be randomly selected and announced Monday morning.

Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photography 101

I love learning new passions! Love it! Yesterday I was a student in a class taught at my home by this amazing woman!! Six of us 'newbies' had an afternoon course in the basics of digital photography with our digital slr cameras. Tami is an amazing woman on so many levels and I truly could not do her justice here...but you should wander over to her blog and take a peek at her talent - it will sooth you and renew you! (I told her yesterday that some days after I get home from school, a visit to her blog has my nerves calming out and a sense of peace settling in.)

A digital slr is a wonderful piece of equipment and sadly, I never learned the ropes of my film slr years ago - I used it in 'auto' mode like a point-and-shoot! Shame! So, when I made the purchase of my new slr (um, which I am returning....for a good reason- more about that later!), I also made the commitment to USE it as it was intended - which is NOT as a point-and-shoot. This meant that I had to learn about aperture settings, ISO (which I SO didn't know what it was, but I do now!!), shutter speed, lighting...all the basics. Tami lead the six of us through the basic points of our camera's, you should have seen the excitement that filled the room when she showed us the little thing-a-ma-bob by the view finder that moves up or down to bring the picture closer in focus for us 'I don't see so well' gals - we were downright giddy!!

There was a lot of this going on..... don't we look like we know what we're doing??

It's awesome the way Tami conducts her class because she gave us time to actually practice setting our camera to different settings, comparing shots and experimenting. We went out back to learn about different types of natural lighting and practice taking shots with various settings.

Note: these shots are SOOC (straight out of the camera - no editing) know me.


I am totally drawn to clouds. All the time. I never get tired of looking at clouds...

....or flowers.

I can't get enough of flowers.

I see a flower, and I want to get as close to it as I can.... if I want to crawl deep down inside of its petals...

I must have been a ladybug in a previous life.

This isn't one of my better shots (sorry Tami!), but it was a sweet one of how fun our class was - isn't that important for any kind of learning?? Learning should be FUN!!! And I'm excited to do my 'homework' with my camera, too!

It was such a great afternoon!

We learned that every picture tells a story.

What story does this one tell...?

Goals. I've always believed in making goals. I think back to all that I've set for myself over the years. Most of them I've made. It feels so good to be achieving another goal!

What are your goals?

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Moon Must Be Aligned With Jupiter...Or Something Like That!

I, like you, love visiting some of my favorite blogs....I'd say I have about 15 or so that I routinely stop by and say 'hello'. A recently new one was guided my way by my friend, J, who has her own blog As I See It. Her little button and post regarding the very insightful, Brene' Brown, found me bookmarking her blog. (**that's where I got the sweet button on the left side that says "I Live and Love With My Whole over there after you finish with me and get the button for your own blog!) Well, the other day, Ms. Brown held a contest for one of these sweet little fellas, and I won one!! Let me just happy dance for a moment....! I can only IMAGINE what word might be on the one that flies my way (as I think there are different ones). Needless to say, I was vewy, vewy excited!!

Another blog which I happened upon earlier this summer is Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman! This gal speaks my language and there is so much information about cooking, life on a ranch, just life!...and yes, can I get a 'Yeehaww!!"...PHOTOGRAPHY!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeelll, she, too, has contests, and earlier this week she held one for two of these little babies:
A Kitchen-Aide Artisan Mixer -
IN RED!!!!!
AND I WON ONE !!!!!!!!!!!!!
And out of over 19,500 entries!! What are the chances of THAT happening?? (I know, I could actually figure out that number, but I'm not using that side of my brain while on summer vacation....thank you very much!)
Lordy Be!! Good Golly!! Say what??!!???
I have to go happy dance around my kitchen.... just a second.... be right back...
I don't know how in the world this happened, because this kind of thing NEVER HAPPENS!!! Maybe Jupiter aligned with Mars, or my zodiac sign traveled through the house of Saturn, or the new moon sprinkled unseen luck down on me...who knows!! But I am excited, humbled, grateful and giddy at the prospects of two packages showing up at my humble abode!
All this goodness has me thinking that I need to give back with my own little contest soon....
think so??!!??
Oh-Oh!! I feel another happy dance coming on.... gotta go!!!!

Reptilian Raider

aka "Lizard Lips"
And none too happy that I investigated what he was keeping watch over in the kitchen corner this morning with a guilty gaze when I plopped down the stairs. A peek around a bag of 'brick' supplies revealed a sweet little garden lizard, complete with his tail!, but scared and definitely not feeling the love! A quick rescue and relocation out to the top of my garden wall found Mr. Lizard shaking the marbles out of his head at his having a second chance at life!...much to someone's chagrin! That's okay, Lizard Lips....go eat your cat food!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This place looks like a bomb went off!!!
I was bitten by the creative bug yesterday, and I've been possessed ever since!! My kitchen has become my 'studio'...and it is woeful!

This is the kind of thing that I love to do, but during the school year, I am just too drained to do when the mood strikes, I ride it out!! Yeeehawww!!

Every nook, counter top, table, chair, ANY PLACE has been used! Papers, markers, cardstock, paints, glitter, pliers, glue, trimmers, stickers, embellishments....

M left today to drive to California with 6 friends for a 5-day vacation...and she seemed more than happy to be heading out while Mom is in her possessed creative state! Does it look like I'd be making dinner tonight in this kitchen....does it??! I think not.

I have things stacked upon other things. I've lost things. I can't find some things. I've thrown things out!! Why is creating such a messy experience??? I dunno.... I even used my cast iron skillet for something.

And what am I making, you might wonder?? What is behind all this creative energy???

A book...

A little ol' book that will features some my favorite pictures that I've taken.

I'm making each page as I go, with a picture, or two, or three, being the inspiration behind that page's theme. I'm crazy over it and love seeing where each page's design takes me. There's still a LOT to do, especially with the embellishments, but the journey is so enjoyable!

Does anyone else go through this??? Where do YOU create? In your kitchen? A spare room? Your own studio, perhaps??? Does your family have to work around your creative clutter??? Or are you neat when you create??

I'm reading 'Simple Abundance' again (I try to every year...have you ever read this book??? Oh, if not... you really should. It is SUCH an amazing journey to read, and then re-read) and so many of the daily passages really strike a note with me. So I went to a used bookstore yesterday and bought a perfect condition copy. Why?? To cut up!! That's right! A couple of my favorite ones go perfectly with some of my pages, so I'm cutting them out and tucking them in the pages of my book! I love it!!!

I burned the late-night oil last night, and I have a feeling this will be the fashion for tonight as well!

I have a photography class being held here on Saturday afternoon..... oh man.....

....think I can get this all cleaned up AND clean house before then???
...we shall see!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good To The Last Drop

Oh, what a present to wake up to this morning.... the lightning warned of an impending boom and the thunder rumbled and bumbled through dreamy sleep! A peek out the window caught my surprise - RAIN!! Typically, monsoon storms are all talk and no action (similar to the male species), but this time, rain came along with the flash and dance of a storm that sparked up last evening.

And I couldn't resist....

Everybody got a much-needed shower this morning! I can't even remember the last time my garden felt the coolness of actual RAIN and not hose water!! Vincas, portulaca, rosemary, sage, a snail vine, my poor beleagured rose bush, chives....all reaching up to capture every drop that plops their way!


....every single drop.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thank You

I want to thank you, my dear blog buddies and friends, for all of your kind thoughts, hugs, prayers and comments about my sweet Ross. Your gentle words truly helped ease the hurt. I have heard from so many of you in so many ways, and I value all of your love and support. You are wonderful spirits!

We are all doing well. Yes, it's still a tender time. There is still sadness as each one of us is trying to find our rhythm without our Ross around...and healing a hole that is in our hearts. We sure do miss him.

But I was so blessed to have had 'my goof' in my life, and I am counting my gratitudes for all that that sweet, adorable dog brought to, not just me, but everyone who knew him. His imprint on my heart will be there until my end.

I have his brick in my window right now. Apparently, this is my summer craft, and it takes me back to when I was a kid at church camp. This whole 'brick' thing is soooo simplistic. But, for some reason, it's been the medium for celebrating lives around here of late. I'll be putting it out on my patio at some point when it's not 115 degrees outside! Ahh..yup... that's what it was today.


It truly is a healer.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I was lucky enough to call this beautiful spirit of an animal my own 3 years ago this month. Ross. He was a dog rescued from the pound. He was in horrible condition and in need of much love, medical care and a good home. I didn't set out to get Ross. I was at my Starbuck's one morning, and his foster mom was stopping in to get a cup of coffee. I was sitting outside at a table and she asked the girls behind me if they would mind holding his leash while she ran in. The girls were all over this sweet, gentle, furry creature and I couldn't help but take notice. I had recently had to have my Molly put down due to severe arthritis, so the last thing I was thinking about was another dog. But there was something about this spirit that pulled me towards him...and soon I was down on the pavement petting and talking to him. His foster mom and I visited for a while as she told me his history of abuse and neglect, his diagnosis of Valley Fever, imbedded burrs, other issues.... and how she was helping get him back on the mend. appointment was set up and the foster mom and head lady from the Border Collie Rescue Organization came over to my house for a 2 hour interview to see if my daughter, myself and our home would be a good fit for Ross. It was deemed so, and Ross became part of our family two days later. At the time, I was going through a very difficult divorce, and I'll always remember what the lady said to me towards the end of our conversation.... 'It sounds like you need Ross just as much as he needs you.'

It was true.

Ross melded into our 5-cat family with absolutely no problem. He truly was the perfect, perfect, PERFECT dog. We had our routines of dog bones in the morning, walks at the riparian area, trips down the sidewalk to get the mail, 'flip-chip' treats and rolling in the grass. We played a game on my bed of him trying to roll me over - I always put up a 'fight' each time, but I always let him win in the end. Each time I drove into the garage from being gone, he would squeeze through the doggie door and come over to my car door and stand up to lick my hand and welcome me home. Every time.

Ross also became a fixture at school - because I have a great principal that let's me bring my dog!! My kiddos loved on Ross when he would visit! They petted him, hugged him, kissed him and read books to him. He loved coming to school and would say 'hi' to everyone in the office and workroom, then he would happily trot down the sidewalk to my cottage - he knew the way! He even had his picture on our yearbook page among the kiddos and was our 'Top Cat' one week... he was a part of our world!

Four months ago Ross was diagnosed with lymphoma. The diagnosis knocked me down because it just seemed to come out of the blue and he was so young. A treatment plan of steroids helped keep the symptoms in check and allowed him to continue to live a good life. But the last couple of weeks I could tell that the cancer was starting to take its toll, and on Tuesday, after a distressed morning, Ross walked over, put his chin on my knee and looked me in the eyes....with those beautiful brown eyes of his with so much love and spirit behind them. "The time has come." he told me. "You need to let me go."

And so I did.

I am absolutely heartbroken. More so than I thought I would be. I have done things to remember him this week that I have never done before.... a memory brick made with pebbles, grout and tears. His empty collar now hanging on my bed post. A picture frame ornament hanging on my life tree for years...empty... now filled with his picture. A visit to the riparian preserve to just sit, watch and remember. And tears beyond what I thought I would cry.

You need to know...I am NOT a dog-person. Cat-person, yes. Dog, no. I've always had dogs throughout my life, and I've been in this position many, many times before. I'm a pragmatic person when it comes to elements of life and death and I believe wholeheartedly that it is a gift we give our pets to let them finally be free of hurt, pain and suffering. But this has knocked me down. And I am heartbroken with tears and loss....for my Ross.

Ross. The rescued dog who did the rescuing.

Run free, my dear good boy.....

Run free.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome To My Hell

This is a picture of my monitor desktop.... please notice the blue box above. To the right of the cloudy sun image. See those triple 1's ?? That, my friends, is the afternoon temperature here in hell my neck of the woods. Or, um...neck of the desert, would be more accurate. The Sonoran Desert, if I am to be precise. Yes, I know the humidity was at 12% and it could be described as a 'dry heat', but trust me...heat is heat, and at 111 degrees, it is HOT!

I tend to be a desert rat, and the heat doesn't bother me too much. I'm often found driving around town with my windows down when the heat is well over 100. Yes, I have air-conditioning...but a little hot breeze doesn't bother me all that much. Do you know when I DO get truly 'hot and bothered' ? (well, other than watching a Johnny Depp movie)...well, do ya? It's when I work out in my yard. I've been known to throw a 'whatever' glance at the thermometer and fire up the chain saw, or clean out the garage, or weed my garden, or whatever catches my 'must do right this minute' eye. I've paid the price several times, and one truly must respect our climate and never overestimate our body's abilities to cope in this type of environment. The evening news is constant with weather reports, heat advisories, and pundits guesstimating as to how long this will last (3rd week of October, my friends) and when we can expect a monsoon storm to fire up so as to cool us down (they need to follow the air energy for a better prediction, but that escapes their mentality, for some reason). Water, sunscreen, shade, hydrate, hat, loose clothing, more water, more sunscreen...all words thrown out at us desert rats to help us stave off the effects of living in an oven.

But I have two words for you that you won't see the cute, fine-looking weatherman on Channel 15 ('Be-Still-My-Heart-Bill") utter during his evening weather segment....and one need merely look into my refrigerator to see my trick of the trade....

No...not tomatillo salsa (yes, I made a new batch). And it's not cold beer... although many swear by it's powers. And it's not my ice coffee, or beef stew or sour cream. Look on the top shelf...sort of left of center....see that little skinny bottle standing there... ahhhh yesssss..... two words that make me happy dance...

body spray

Bath and Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena Body Spray to be exact. Wait a minute...body spray IN DA FRIDGE??!!! Oh yes, glasshopper! Let me enlighten you to my way of coping!

But first...let's have a little 'girlfriend chat', shall we? Let's make our 'pinky pact'... okay...

Ladies, you know what's it's like to be hot...and I don't mean your little black 'down-to-there' dress or your pink bag of new thongs from the Victoria's Secret semi-annual panty sale!! I mean shirt stickin', 'sweat rolling down the middle of your back and further down your crack' kind of hot! The kind of hot where you look like you stepped out of the shower after lugging in the groceries from your car. The kind of hot where, if no one is home, you flip the ceiling fan switch to 'hurricane' and flop yourself down butt-naked on the bed, spread eagle, perhaps, and let the wind blow!!! And if they ARE home, you tell the kids that they can play any computer game that they want to and fix their own favorite snack while mommy locks the bedroom door and has at it!! The kind of hot where you literally peel off your clothes in the laundry room...and might even need to call for some help, at that!!! And when you get down to the undergarment layer, it's a toss-up between the laundry basket or the trash can!!

It's not a pretty sight.

Well, here's a little something to help you through the summer feeling fresh, cool, and staying clothed!!! Body spray in the fridge!! I have mine handy all summer long and truly, when you come in from being out in the oven, nothing feels better than a ice-cold spritz of cool lime, or sweet pea, or whatever your fancy desires on your neck or face! It's inexpensive, readily at hand! (And the man of the house leaves it alone - he's after his own kind of bottle!) You can find these little gems all over town!!! The one on the right is, again, from B&B Works (rain-kissed leaves), but the one on the left is from CVS pharmacy (creamy fig)! For less than 4 buckaroos!! That's a bargain!

Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreen's - everyone has their own little fancy-dancy version for your cool-down enjoyment! And all kidding aside, the other day I decided to 'bark' my garden. I came in sweating like a pig and red as beet! I grabbed my bottle from da fridge, spritzed a couple of ice-cold spritzes and I truly got a SHIVER down my spine from the cool tingle! WOOOHOOO!! (No, I was not compelled to light up a cigarette afterwards. Thanks for wondering.)

So as you are out and about the next day or so, stop by the 'I Think I Need To Buy Me A Little Present' counter and pick out a flavor or two! Oh, here's another hint... keep one by your bed...a spritz on a hot night and on the sheets makes for a comfy rest! Before you know it, you'll be feeling so cool, you'll be slipping on your thong or that little black dress 'cuz you're ready to look hot!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Follow The Leader

Do you see it? Floating over there on the right? That little pink cotton-candy cloud...that looks like a heart?

Yesterday evening I read some very good news about a dear lady whom I adore. A doctor's visit brought good news and much relief! After leaving my comment on this great outcome, I was compelled to go out my front door...see what was happening out there for a different change of view. One look at the sky had me...well, you probably know... running back inside to grab my camera.

The twilight sky above me was filled with a whole parade of pink cotton-candy clouds....drifting up from the south and headed west to follow the setting sun. And they were all being lead by this little guy...

It was kind of funny, but seeing this cloud reminded me of God's love for Aunt Teresa and how He has her safely in His heart. It reminded me of all of the prayers that were said by so many on behalf of her and her beautiful family....people from across the miles all taking a few minutes to ask for His help and His blessings for them. It simply reminded me of love.... that He has for us, and that we have for each other.

May you catch a cloud parade floating through your twilight evening this week, too!

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's All About Perspective

For Mother's Day, my son gave me a sweet little miniature rose bush. I planted it in the little terra cotta pot that came with it and then spent the next 3 weeks trying to apease its tempermental attitude about exactly where it wanted to reside. Outside? Inside? Window ledge? Corner of the counter? There were a couple of days when I thought it was a goner...but the two of us have finally found the perfect spot...on the window ledge above my kitchen sink. It loves the north light of the day and seems to thrive with the hour of desert sunlight it gets just before dusk. New growth is sprouting and two of the sweetest pink buds have been shooting up from two strong mini-canes. Last night I smelled this little one, not thinking much could come from it...boy, was I wrong! The most beautiful scent of sweet rose perfume swirls above the opening petals...amazing! I'm excited to see how long this beautiful plant lives on as I've never had very good luck keeping miniature roses alive. But so far, so good!
So good, in fact, that I could soon be found sitting on top of my kitchen counter - positioning to get just the right lighting, angle and yes, shot. Have I told you that I am stupid over my camera?? I am. Totally. Completely. Nikon, I love you. Don't ask me what my apeture setting was on this shot. I have no idea. My ISO? I SO don't know!! Lens? Uh..yeah... there's a lens on my camera. Is that what you meant? Clueless I am about my settings and the details...but no worry, because in a few weeks, this
sweet gal is going to teach me about those things, and more, regarding my beloved Nikon. Until that day, I simply play around and shoot...and shoot...and shoot! BECAUSE I CAN!! That's the beauty of digital photography.... you can take 20 shots to get the perfect two for your blog!! That deserves a 'happy dance' moment.... excuse me for just a sec...

okay.... back from 'happy dancing'!! Where was I?? Oh yes...up on my kitchen counter. I closed in just a little bit closer and got another shot. I can't believe this shot!!! Perfect? Oh, probably not at all! But it more than thrills me that I am able to get a shot like this with my most beloved Nikon. This is exactly what I was looking forward to doing all these years as I wished for such a piece of equipment. So please excuse my indulgence as I continue living the lesson that I learned recently... to enjoy life again and to

take time to smell the roses along the way.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Green Gold !

Last week I had the unique experience of visiting a new supermarket that has opened in our area. My friend, S, and her friend from Arabia, S, had gone and taken some wonderful pictures of it. Wait! Pictures, did I say??? Of a supermarket??!!?? Si, mi amigos!! The market is Hispanic-themed and it is HUGE!! It is an amazing store with a meat counter unlike any other I have ever seen, along with a seafood counter, a cheese bar, a bakery that is total eye candy and much, much more!! The fruits and vegetables are glorious and sooooo inexpensive! Yesterday I bought a bag of beautiful limes...are you ready?? Four pounds for $1.59!!! There must be 15 limes in the bag!!! I could go on and on.... and I truly should take pictures next time and take you on a tour!

But let's move on to the golden part of this post.... the jar above. I had a craving for Tomatillo Salsa and made my way to 'little Mexico' for the ingredients and I wasn't disappointed! I whipped up a batch in my dad's Cuisinart - a memento for me to have - and it's been chips and salsa around here ever since! I'm sharing what I threw into the food processor my recipe so that, you too, can savor the goodness! By the way, this is made with 'tomatillos'...not tomatoes, however, you COULD make it with tomatoes and it would be wonderful.... wonderfully RED!! Tomatillos look like green tomatoes with a papery outer husk. They are a staple at Hispanic markets and many grocery stores carry them, as well...I know my Fry's does. They are so worth the effort to find and use!!

Tomatillo Salsa

(aka 'Edna, call the neighbors...this stuff is GOLD!!)

10 tomatillos - husked, washed and cut into quarters

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed

4 garlic cloves - peeled

juice of 2 limes

1 jalapeno pepper

salt to taste

Throw everything into the food processor and pulse until you get a mixture that is 'bitty consistency'. (Don't ask me what the technical meaning of 'bitty consistency' is...just pulse it until it looks like my picture.) Taste to adjust any seasoning/salt. Pour into bowl, grab some homemade chips and put in a movie to watch as you taste heaven. Pour any leftover (HA!) into a container and refrigerate. This salsa is excellent on fish, eggs, burritos... but not on doughnuts. Enjoy!

You're welcome.

Riddle Me This


what do you get when you make coffee without using the filter basket when you brew it???

A new coffee maker.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Glory Be!

What a wonderful day it is today! The birthday of our nation! The materializing of this great country! The beginning of a union that has far exceeded those early expectations first dreamed about so many, many years ago! Oh, if those pilgrims could see our country now! Oh, if the founding fathers who toiled and stood firm in their vision could see their baby now!

When I was a little girl in Ohio, I spent my whole Fourth of July day eagerly anticipating the upcoming fireworks show in our area. I would constantly check the clock for the time to come for us to pack up the green Oldsmobile and head out with chairs, blankets and thermoses. I would look at the sun hung in the sky...darn if it still wasn't daylight out!! I would wish my parents a 'happy anniversary', but be more concerned with the fact that there were going to be fireworks tonight!!! I would help my dad hang the American flag on our front porch - its meaning enhanced after he returned from a tour of duty in Viet Nam. My brothers and I would get to set off sparklers. I'd be running around - a scrabbly, toe-headed bundle of uncontained energy - chasing fireflies around my back yard. A cleaned-out pickle jar, a hammer and a screwdriver and I had made them a home...complete with a mattress of freshly picked green grass and a twig from the elm tree for them to perch on. They could have cared less about the twig. Or the grass for that matter. My neighbor, who was a classic 'bad boy', but had the most charming of grin, showed me how to make firefly rings. I couldn't do it myself, so he made me one. I thought I was all that and a bag a chips as I pranced around my back yard in the twilight of the day...waving my glowing finger around to my brothers and best friend neighbor. Soon we were given the word 'Time to go!' and shrieks of excitement poured out! We drove out to the area, set up our place and waited, again!, while swatting mosquitoes and passing the time with restrained frolic. Then it would happen....the first thunderous boom of the firework being launched. We'd turn our eyes to the sky - hoping that we weren't just imagining that sound we had heard, and sure enough! An explosion of gold, white, red and blue glitter would puff out into the black background and gently rain down! The fireworks had begun and so had one of my favorite times of growing up back in the midwest. To this day, I never tire of fireworks...and to this day, I still have the little toe-headed girl giddiness in my heart for them.

Much has changed since the early settlers and forefathers set forth to create a new nation. Dreams realized, and dreams lost. Progress made, and lives lost. Words spoken, and fists crossed. Horror dropped, and hearts embraced.

I've never traveled off this continent of mine. I've never been to Europe or Africa. I've had many friends who have gone, who have seen other places, even lived in other countries. Maybe my cards will hold a future trip for me, some day, too. But this much I know to be true....there is no other land on this big blue marble that I would rather live in than this land. This land is my land. This land is your land. And despite our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our mis-steps....we are still a nation of love, of peace, of hope and most important....of humanity. We honor the human spirit. If for no other reason, that last trait is what sets us apart from any other community on this globe. We honor the human spirit.

I wish for you a day of family, friends, fun and FIREWORKS!!! God Bless America!!! Land that I love!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

For A Moment

What Else Could I Do??

When one wakes up and sees this.....
...what is one to do????
Why, make these...of course!!

Blueberry Scones
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt - about 1/2 teaspoon
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
freshly grated nutmeg
about 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
about 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with fork until pieces are about the size of peas. Stir in nutmeg. Add half of the milk, stir slightly and then add the rest as needed. You want a dough that is ever so slightly moist, but not like batter. (If dough is too sticky, add some more flour - a tablespoon at a time) Gently stir in blueberries until just combined. Turn dough out onto floured surface and push together gently to form an 8-inch circle that will be about 1-inch high. Do not knead the dough - the less you handle it, the lighter your scones will be. If you play around with it like it's play-dough, you'll be baking bricks in your oven!
Place dough onto greased baking sheet. With a big, sharp knife, cut the dough circle into fourths and then eighths - no need to separate the pieces. Sprinkle top generously with sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Scones are done when they are lightly brown and gently 'talk' to you (yes, you hold the tray up to your ear and 'listen' to the'll hear little bubbly, crackly sounds!) and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with soft butter.
Prepare to be hugged and kissed for your efforts.