Thursday, April 29, 2010

Long Weekend

Heading out for a long weekend tomorrow morning and am so excited.
It is amazing what kind of getaway you can plan with hotel rewards points and airline mileage.
Tim chose our location and we are headed down to the Santa Ynez Valley to start and will make our way back through Paso Robles before returning home on Sunday. We plan to see lots of horses, taste wine and just hang out. I am most excited for the photo opportunities since I want to give my new camera a good workout.

Have a great weekend!

Kentucky Derby is this weekend - my vote is for Sidney's Candy with jockey Joe Talamo!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The House That Built Me

My childhood home is for sale.
Right after my Mom sent me a photo of the house with the "For Sale" sign today, The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert was on the radio - I had never heard it before and what timing! I was ok with the photo and the sign in front of the house (I suppose), but this song...really? Too much on a Monday morning. I had to do some math in my head to make the tears stop so I could get into my office and work (a little something I learned along the way through life).
Mom and Em, if you watch this, grab a tissue or maybe not - I am a softee.

Manic Monday

If I had the closet of my dreams, this is what I would be wearing today...Color me Springtime!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunny Sunday in Petaluma

Today, Robin, Wendy and I went to the Petaluma Antique Faire that was advertised in the March Country Living Magazine. It was HUGE, crowded and HOT. The weather has not been great lately but it was awesome up in Petaluma, the sun was out and so were the people. We walked around a shopped and then stopped for lunch to refuel and walked and shopped some more. I got a few little things, a couple folding measuring sticks for a project I have in mind and a cute yellow ceramic bowl. The best part, I did not pay any of the asking prices, I am pretty comfortable asking for a better deal at these things. Before driving back to the city, we stopped and had frozen yogurt to cool off a bit and then we all hit the road.
Thanks for a fun day ladies! Robin, thanks for driving all the way from San Jose and Wendy, thanks for coming over and through the valley from Napa.
I wrapped up the day with dinner at a Thai restaurant by my house with Tim.
What a great weekend!
Yes, I know the doll heads are creepy, but I HAD to photograph them!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I love vintage linens and since it was cleaning day today and this here tablecloth has gotten a lot of play lately (I super love it) I decided to give her a little wash and a hang out on the clothes line. Here is my favorite way to clean vintage linens - treat any spots with oxy-clean spray or any other spot remover you like to use. After spraying spots, I let her sit for about 10 minutes and then put her in a bucket filled with HOT water, a small handful of salt and the juice from half a lemon. Let soak for an hour or so while you do other chores (like scrub the kitchen floor, which I did today). After about an hour, I took her out of the bucket of salt & lemon water and rinsed her once with warm water and let her sit a moment. Fill bucket with COLD water and a few drop of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing so the water is light sky blue - make sure bluing is mixed well in the water or you will have blue spots, submerge tablecloth in the bluing water (as a final rinse) - swish the tablecloth around a little for about a minute and then remove her from water, squeeze out excess water and spin (in your washer or in a spinner) and hang out in the sunlight on a clothesline to dry. Remember sunlight is the best thing for vintage linens that have yellowing or stains, it really gets them out. If you don't have a clothesline, you can spread your linens out on towels on your lawn (if you have one). Bring in from the outside and take a long sniff of your clean tablecloth (ahhhhhh), lightly iron and put back on the table or in storage until you use it again.

Yes, I am old school. I don't have a washer or dryer, I do have a spinner and a bucket though and it works great and makes vintage linens last a long time. I like cleaning things the old way, it really works!

PS - got this tablecloth at the Alameda Flea Market in the $5 French linen bin, life doesn't get much better!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

I made these last night and they were super delicious!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

1/3 C. Butter* Melted
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1 20 oz Can Pineapple Chunks

1 C. Flour
3/4 C. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 C. Butter* at room temp.
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 C. Pineapple Juice (reserved from can)
1 Egg*

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease or spray regular size muffin tin (do not use liners).
Drain can of pineapple and reserve juice for later. I drained my pineapple and then spread it on a floursack towel to make sure it was not too soggy.

In a small bowl mix melted butter and brown sugar together and spoon evenly into each muffin cup. Arrange pinepple chunks on top of brown sugar and butter.

In a large bowl mix togehter flour, sugar and baking powder. Add butter, vanilla, pineapple juice and mix well, add egg, mix again until well incoporated. You can use a mixer for this if you need too - if your butter is at room temp, you should be able to do it by hand. I am from the school of, make less dishes to wash, so I try to do what I can by hand.

Spoon cake batter mixture over fruit in each cup, until about 3/4 full.

Bake aprox. 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from each little cake.

Let cool on rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto rack and let cool completely. I turned mine out onto a parchment sheet over the rack because the caramel the sugar and butter creates is very sticky.


* - I list butter and eggs, however, I use egg beaters and earth balance most of the time, just easier to list butter and eggs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dead Show Glow

I call the day after a Dead Show, the Dead Show Glow, still jazzed from the music the night before. My one wish was that my friend Brady was here in CA to see it with me! I had fun with Tim though, we did not sit still the entire time (or at least I didn't, I thought everyone else was moving too!).

The show last night was incredible. I had seen a show with my Dad a few months prior to the one they showed so it was fun to see how the Dead were in 1989, after all that was 21 years ago and I needed a reminder (I was 14 in 1989 although I still remember most of the set list from that show in Ann Arbor, MI). The keyboardist Brent Mydland stole the show, I have to say. It was awesome to see Jerry Garcia again too. Haunting knowing that both of them have since passed away, Brent not too long after this show (died in 1990 of an overdose). Hearing them sing certain lyrics about life, and making changes was eerie to say the least ("I know that the life I'm livin' is no good..." and "I'll get up and fly away") - those lyrics are different when the people singing them are no longer with us. Jerry gave me chills singing "Standing on the Moon", there was a purple light behind him and gave him this violet halo that shot out of the tips of his silver hair. Just amazing. I won't gush too much. If you are Deadhead and have been to shows prior to 1990, you know that I am talking about, I believe it is called magic.

They had a brief intermission during the show and they asked a number of trivia questions (mostly Dead related) and I answered one of them and won a box set of the show! Awesome! Funny thing was, everyone there was pretty much stoned except for us and the question that I answered was, "what were we just talking about?" - hilarious!

Had to add these photos too - there was a Red Wings game last night that I wanted to check the score on and as we walked up the theater, this was across the street...
PS - Red Wings won last night 3-0 against Phoenix!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Once a Deadhead Always a Deadhead

Thanks Dad for taking me to my first Dead Show!
I will be seeing a show from 1989 on the big screen tonight and can't wait to see Jerry and Brent play again!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happiness is....

Sometimes it is nice to just look at your everyday surroundings and pick things out that make you happy. We all get wrapped up in the day to day of life and these things often go unnoticed. These little things in my life make me happy:

My living room floor

My sleepy kitty (who never goes unnoticed)

A full tank of gas in my Jeep

What a wonderful way to start a Monday, these three things make me happy!
All photos taken with my iphone.

Manic Monday

If I had the closet of my dreams, this is what I would be wearing today...
Peace in the Valley

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Today I saw a table of tutus at Costco.
They were so beautiful I had to take a photo with my iphone.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

*{Fabulous Find}*

I am in love with this Butter Dish....
You can buy it here.

Busy Week

It's already Thursday - my goodness!
Here is a quick run down of my highlights from the week so far:

Monday - worked all day, went to CostCo to get fruit salad and mixed green salad fixins (found organic stuff which made me happy) for dinner the next night at the Maltese Club.
Tuesday - worked all day, went to Maltese Club (I was hosting dinner with two other ladies) - we served Quiche, Green Salad, Fruit Salad and Rolls. It was really good and fun too!
Wednesday - worked all day, got my personal laptop repaired (yeah!), went home and made dinner and relaxed.
Thursday - far so good.

PS - got a zoom lens for my new camera on Monday and have not even been able to play with it yet!
PSS - bathroom is still in a shambles - landlord came and broke through the wall in my shower to discover more damage than he had thought and is now re-grouting the tile. We will see, last time he said he was re-grouting, he just sealed the tile without cleaning first and any mold that was there got sealed in!

Hey - did anyone notice my dashed line under my posts? Took me a while to get it set up (not knowing how to speak html, but am slowly learning).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Manic Monday

If I had the closet of my dreams, this is what I would be wearing today...
playing dress up

Friday, April 09, 2010

How I Met Maira Kalman (well, sort of)

Yesterday, after dealing with broken glass and running around the city I decided I needed quiet. So, I went to the library, always my safe haven and thank goodness it reopened in February, I missed the smell and standing amidst great literary works. I super love books, even though when I really love one that I am reading I purposely don't finish the last 20 or so pages as I want the dreaminess of the story to last forever. I hide books in my mattress when I don't want them to end (one of my quirks). Anyway, I was looking for an escape, I mean, I had handled the Jeep break-in pretty well but had some random mind noise going on (trying to think if anything was stolen, which came up as zero). I started reading a book called A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar, which immediately sucked me in, but after about 20 pages I was able to just walk away from it. I felt like something else was out there. I looked at the art section, trying to find a book about DSLR camera to no avail. Right next to the art section was poetry and there was a peculiar looking book sticking out over the edge of the shelf as if calling out to me, whispering, "read me". I pulled the book out and it was The Principals of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman and once I opened it up I was sucked into another world. The color of the illustrations, her handwriting, the feeling of reading someone's random thoughts, I was all over it. I read half of this book at the library and then took it home and almost finished it at my kitchen table. It is an easy read, but please click on the title above to check it out. Maira is an AMAZING illustrator and writer, she is super funny or should I say her experiences (and those of her family) just tickled me. Am I super late to the party on this one? How come I had never heard of Maira before? She also written and illustrated 12 children's books, you must check them out if you have not already. I just ordered my own copy of The Principals of Uncertainty and she has a new book coming out in October of this year called And The Pursuit of Happiness (about American Democracy) which started as a column for Op-Extra in the New York Times just like The Principals of Uncertainty did. She also illustrated recent edition of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, which I find very intriguing as this is my go to book (I have marked mine up), I may have to get another copy soon ao why not the illustrated version, it would make it more fun.

Here are some of my favorites (as of this moment)...

Thank you Maira for showing me yourself in my local library and adding so much color to what could have been a gray day in deed.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Life is Full of Surprises

It is up to you to choose how to deal with them!
I got to my Jeep this morning to go to work and the entire contents of my glove box and center console (CD's) were spread over the seats of my car. I rolled my eyes and got in, put my bag down and realized it felt pretty breezy in there and then realized that my car window had been completely smashed in and the glass was ALL OVER the car. Crap! At first I wanted to cry, but I didn't, I went to another place and sprung into action. I called my insurance and within 15 minutes was on my way to a glass replacement place to get my window replaced. All of it was done by 10 AM, but I decided I would take the rest of the day off since I wasn't too sure how long it was going to take and I knew there was no one in my corner of the office today. The only thing is, my landlord is at my place fixing my ever present broken, leaky sink and is also checking out my caving in bathroom wall (water damage from the outside, I assume). So, I am at the library making this post and filing a police report online. My home computer is broken, the screen won't light up so I have to call Dell and see what they can do if anything.
I don't know what has come over me recently, but these things I would have lost it over in the past, don't seem to phase me anymore, I just get em fixed, taken care of, etc. and forget about them. I realized in the grand scheme of life, these are tiny little bumps and could by much worse; PLUS getting the things repaired is a lot less painless when you don't stress over it.
The only thing that really bothers me....the person who broke into my Stella Blue (Jeep) was a smoker and left a HUGE ash in my center console, I noticed it when I was putting my CD's back and yes, I did mention that on the police report I filed online.
Hope you all have a good day and realize that sometimes these bumps in the road are tests from a higher power to see how you deal with things. I think I did OK today.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Secret Shot

I have been trying for months to get this photo. BayLee has the same routine every morning. Tim leaves for work and he lays in bed with me, usually at my feet. Once my alarm goes off we both wake up, I get out of bed, BayLee stirs a bit and then stretches long and slowly moves into the spot where my pillow meets the quilt. I have to hurry and make the bed around him so his fur is not touching my pillow (allergies). I usually putter around, drink tea, take a shower and do my morning stuff and when I walk back in the bedroom to get dressed BayLee is usually there in the "acorn" position (you should know I have a ton of names for yoga cat moves). Every time I go to get my camera he wakes up and lays like this with his eyes wide open (creepy) - this time he stayed a asleep allowing me to take this photo. I took the pic, walked back into the kitchen to put my camera down and went back into the bedroom and there he was sitting straight up on the bed like he knew something had happened. I had to giggle, he went back to sleep.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Modern Times, Laziness or Just Bad Manners?


Over the past week I have really started thinking about men (or those who want to be considered men) and their manners towards women. I was fortunate to grow up with a Dad who opened doors, let the ladies go first and if he was home, he would help us unload groceries from the car (or at least ask if we needed help). My Dad also instilled in my brother these same lessons and taught all of us kids to help others out even if not asked. Unfortunately, all of that stopped when I moved out from underneath my parents roof. Not sure if it is because I am out of the MidWest and men are different out here or what it is. I have been here in CA for 14 years now and it seems like ever since I got here the manners of men have gone downhill (sorry guys, but you all need to take my seminar called "how to be a man in a modern world").

I thought this may just be an isolated situation (at my house only), but over the last week I have experienced the dissolution of chivalry as we know it on a couple of occasions.

Here are some examples:

Wednesday - Call the house, "hey, it is pouring rain and I have groceries and we need gas and I know you wanted to go to the gym so I am going to just park in the driveway and you can get gas on your way to the gym".
"oh, forget it, I am not going to go, weather is bad, you can just park" I hang up. We do not have parking so you know what this means? I have to circle, while the empty gas light is staring at me and look for parking and then try and maneuver my umbrella, purse and bags of groceries to the house and unlock the front door with what hand that's free? I can't put the bags down in the rain, they are paper. Ugh! On top of walking in the rain with my stuff, I am also going to have to get gas in the morning. Can I please mention, I was sick last week and missed 2 days of work, this happened on my first day back in the real world.
I park a half block away from my house (thank God). I call the house, "can you unlock the door, I have a lot to carry"
"Yeah, be right there"
I am in the car thinking MAYBE he will come out and help me, but instead I see the door open, his head pops out and he looks right at me in the car and the door closes. Seriously?
I get out of the car, put up my umbrella, put my purse across my body, open the trunk and try to figure out how I am going to do this...good thing the brown paper bags have handles on them, but the are HEAVY. I line them up on my arms because I need to be able to hold my keys and turn the door knob when I get to the door. I get in and am mad. I explain why to no response.

Now, ladies, I know I should be more clear about what I need as guys are not mind readers and should have said, "can you come out and help me?" or even better "I need help" however, I have a unique species on my hands and he will ask before agreeing to help, "what do you have to carry in?" or "why do you need help?" etc. etc. and won't just say "yes!" and help me because he wants to; so it ends up making me more mad having to explain why I need help. At my house, I am not allowed to leave a "honey do" list (he thinks it is childish), he will not respond to it and will become more resistant to helping at all. He tells me he will help when he sees something needs to get done. So, I go on strike, I pitch the same fit about being overwhelmed and feel like I have to do everything and get the same old response "that is within you, you shouldn't feel like you have to do everything". Really? So instead of talking in circles I have realized that I have sort of become the man in my own life. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, but have been married long enough (almost 12 years) that I feel I can complain once in a while and to be honest, I am tired of being the man around the house and might I just add, I should not have to ASK every time I need help!

Friday - I went on a site visit to a place we are having a quarterly meeting at work. Again, it was pouring rain. I checked out the space and the guy (I won't call him a man) showing me the place mentions another building and asks if I want to see it for future events. I agree and he tells me, it is about 1/4 mile down the road and to follow him up the road. I follow him and park in front where he tells me and walk to meet him under the awning of the place, as I take the corner my feet come clear out from underneath me and the next thing I know I am on my ass on the wet ground. I move pretty fast and was up just about as fast as I went down, but had to pick up my bag and some stuff that I dropped that is now getting rained on. He didn't offer to help me up, didn't help me gather my things or anything. Just looked at me and embarrassingly asked if I was ok while not making eye contact. Honestly, this made the entire situation more humiliating. Then while showing me the place and the meeting rooms, he would open the door and enter and not hold the door for me!

I don't think it is asking too much for a little chivalry to be present in this modern day world. I know women fought for equal rights, but that does not excuse men from treating women like ladies. Sad when I notice that my lesbian friends are more chivalrous than most of the men I know! On the other side, if there are men reading this, you can complain about the lack of femininity if you want, but it might return sooner if you would be more chivalrous.

Here are some free tips from my seminar (seriously thinking about teaching this) for guys who strive to be men:

  • Take initiative, don't wait to be asked, if you think something needs to be done, it probably does! This applies to most aspects of life.
  • Allow ladies to go first unless they decline (sometimes it is safety issue and they want you to go first).
  • Help without being asked, you will be amazed at the return.

I mentioned this post to my husband and all he said was "Welcome to California" really?

Manic Monday

If I had the closet of my dreams, this is what I would be wearing today...
weekend wear

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

I had to make them this year. I could taste them just thinking about them on Thursday, their yeasty, spicy, fruity, bready goodness. Not familiar with Hot Cross Buns and their background, click here. Some of the superstitions around them are pretty interesting. I guess I was supposed to make them on Good Friday, but would have been up all night due to the lengthy rising time in my old, cold, drafty flat. I literally have to rig a system for dough to rise in my house, but it works, just takes a little longer (about 20 mins) then the recommended rising time on most recipes.

After some research online there are many different recipes out there and various methods of putting the cross on the bun, I used icing on mine with lemon zest in it. I prefer my Mom's recipe so I called her and she read it to me over the phone (I altered it just a bit). Once cooled and ready to eat, I slowly took a bite and I was transported back to my childhood, suddenly I was sitting at my parent's kitchen table at Easter time surrounded by family. Its so nice when a flavor can assist in time travel, thanks Mom. Tim had not ever had a Hot Cross Bun and ate two right off the bat, I guess I likes them! I will have to make them every Easter now - a new tradition. Note to self, next year, take Good Friday off, go to Mass and make Hot Cross Buns.

It is amazing that such simple ingredients can turn into such a delicious treat.

Want to make them yourself? Here is my recipe.

Hot Cross Buns
1 Cup Milk* (Scalded)
1/2 Cup Butter*
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 pk. Active Dry Yeast
1 Egg*
4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 Cup Raisins
1/4 Cup Currants
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1 Tbls Orange Zest

1. Pour scalded milk over butter and sugar, stir to dissolve sugar and melt butter and cool until luke warm.
2. Add yeast and egg - mix well
3. Slowly add flour and salt (reserve 1 Tbls. flour to dust fruit)
4. Add spices and fruit to mixture
5. Knead until dough comes together and is smooth and elastic
6. Turn dough into buttered bowl, cover and rise approx. 1 hour (until doubled)
7. Punch down dough (my Mom's favorite part)
8. Turn dough out onto floured board
9. Shape into 15 even sized buns and place into a buttered 9" x 13" pan
10. Cover and rise for 30 minutes until puffy and all buns are touching each other
11. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
12. Remove from oven and cool.

1 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 tsp. Lemon Extract
1-2 tsp. Milk*

Mix until smooth and pipe or spoon over buns in a cross shape.

* - you can use rice or soy milk (I used rice), butter alternatives (I do use real organic butter) and egg replacer (egg beaters, not powdered egg replacer - I used a local organic egg).



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