28 November 2013

And we have a winner.....

And the Winner is ....

Amanda Nelson...also known as my niece, mama to Clara and Colby, and frequent commenter here.

Amanda was chosen scientifically by my yelling upstairs to the girls saying "Give me a number between one and fifty."   Bunny replied "10" and Belle replied "100".  So ten it was. And Amanda was No. 10 on my list of commenters.

An Amazon.com gift card (and/or a drawing of her choice but I know Amanda and I bet she'll go for the gift card!) will be on her way.

Thanks to all who commented/signed up/logged on.

Looking forward to sharing another year of blogging and challenges with all of you.

And a teaser for next week:  No. 12 on the list is done.  Stay tuned for the results.

27 November 2013






Happy Thanksgiving
from our house to yours. 

26 November 2013

No. 8: Make baby quilts again...again!

No. 8: Make Baby Quilts Again...Again.


Last chance to comment/sign up for the one year blogiversary give away.

Last April I made baby quilts for my great niece and nephew, Clara and Colby.  It was the first time in forever that I had sewn. And I had so much fun!

 Colby and Clara-  brand new.

Definitely the choosing of fabrics, the arranging of colors, the piecing and placing of the different patterns against each other appeals to me in many ways. And the fact that I end up with something useful is just the icing on the cake.

The fabrics for Avery's quilt. 
They took over the kitchen (only) table for weeks.
Good thing I'm not much of a cook!

Clara and Colby, who are fraternal twins, belong to my niece Amanda. Amanda has an identical twin, Allison.   Allison just had her second baby, Avery, a couple of weeks ago.   I love that these little cousins are so close in age, which is a good thing, because their mamas are very close.


So Baby Avery definitely needed her own quilt. I had brought some of the left over fabrics from the first two quilts with me to Colorado because I thought it would be kinda neat to have some overlap between the three. But there are also plenty of new fabrics mixed in. Avery's quilt is definitely her own, with a nod to Clara and Colby's.

Colby and Clara's quilts.

And now that Avery's quilt has been delivered, I can post pictures here.

 Avery's finished quilt-front...

and back.
Can you see the fabrics that are common to all three? 

And look:

Miss Avery lost in the middle of all that pattern.  Isn't she adorable?

I love that No. 8 is done, again.

Also, a reminder:
It's my one year blogiversary and I'm having a little give-away.

Just sign up for email delivery and leave me a comment that you did.

And/or join me on Google+ and -again- leave me a comment that you did.

AND/OR go to the Project Sixty by 60 Facebook page and like it.

Each comment will give you an entry. 

The prize is a $20.00 gift card to Amazon.com  OR- because of a couple of suggestions- a sketch of your choice. I'm pretty good with animals if you have always wanted a sketch of your cat or dog or aardvark.

You have through midnight on Nov. 27 to enter. (That's tonight!) Get on it. Winner announced on Friday, Nov. 29.

24 November 2013

As Promised- A Recipe

Rustic Apple Pie: My recipe as promised.

I promised last week that I would share my Rustic Apple Pie recipe.

And since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I figured I better get with it and post this recipe.

It's a super easy recipe and very cute when done.

Preheat the oven to 375º.

The cast of characters:

One refrigerated pie crust- I use Pillsbury.
(If you are one of those talented people that can actually make an edible pie crust- go for it. 
I'm not.)
About 10-12 Vanilla Wafer cookies.
3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin.
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces.

And the instructions:

Peel, core and slice the apples.  Make your slices pretty thin.

Put the Vanilla Wafer cookies into a plastic sandwich bag and smush into fine crumbs by rolling over it with a rolling pin.  If you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle works just fine.  

Now you see cookies.

Now you don't.
Feel free to open the wine and have a sip.
I won't tell.

Take your pie crust and roll out (or unfurl from the package) into a 12 inch circle on a Silpat lined baking sheet. (More or less sizewise- this is a very free form pie.) 

In a bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Stir gently until everything is coated.

Feel free to sample this also-it's pretty yummy.

To assemble, sprinkle the cookie crumbs in a 9 inch circle in the middle of the flat crust. 
Spoon the apple filling into the center of the crust on top of the cookie crumbs.

Pie crust.
Cookie crumbs.
Apple filling.

Dot the apple filling with the cut up butter pieces. 

Everything is better with butter. 

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center exposed. Try to make pretty pleats and fail.
It doesn't matter. It's tasty no matter what. 

Ready for the oven.

Bake for about 45 minutes.


Now- and this is very important- allow to cool out of the reach of the dog.

Otherwise this is what you will have for your efforts.

Honest. We didn't even get one bite of it.

Also, a reminder:
It's my one year blogiversary and I'm having a little give-away.

Just sign up for email delivery and leave me a comment that you did.

And/or join me on Google+ and -again- leave me a comment that you did.

AND/OR go to the Project Sixty by 60 Facebook page and like it.

Each comment will give you an entry. 

The prize is a $20.00 gift card to Amazon.com  OR- because of a couple of suggestions- a sketch of your choice. I'm pretty good with animals if you have always wanted a sketch of your cat or dog or tarantula.

You have through midnight on Nov. 27 to enter. Get on it. Winner announced on Friday, Nov. 29.

22 November 2013

No. 37: Spend a rainy day in my jammies- no matter what anyone else says.

No. 37: Spend a rainy day in my jammies- no matter what anyone else says.

Last December when this blog was brand new I practiced staying in my jammies most of the day.
You can click here to read about my trying to be a slug.

As I mentioned in my practice post, it is difficult to stay in my pajamas all day when the hubs is around because it just sooo goes against his nature. One of his favorite sayings is "people die in bed". He totally believes everyone needs to get up, get dressed and get the day on EVERY day. No rest for the wicked or something like that.

But guess who isn't around? At least not today. The hubs.

And while it wasn't exactly raining, it was snowing today. A lot. All day long. In fact it is still snowing and will probably continue to do so all night.  I think we have had close to a foot of snow here at the cozy cabin in the woods.

 This was taken early this morning.
We've had 12 hours more snow since then.

 Look who thinks the snow is for eating...

 and playing.

 The baby Hummer was covered. 
Not even sure I can get out of the neighborhood any more. 
Even in this baby.

So really. I'm pretty sure a better opportunity was not going to present itself.

And here I am in my jammies, slippers and an extra hoodie. Still wearing the same outfit. And it's almost time to go back to bed. 

Now I confess, Carlos did need to go out supervised more than once today. 
And I went with him.
But I was still in my pajamas, thanks to the magic of my fabulous camouflage hunter's jumpsuit. 
It slips on right over whatever else I am wearing.

This baby is magic. Everyone should have one.
I  love it.
As long as no one ever sees me in it.

No. 37 is DONE. 
And hopefully the snow will stop tomorrow so cabin fever doesn't set in. 
We're Texas girls. Not used to this white stuff. 

Also, a reminder:
It's my one year blogiversary and I'm having a little give-away.

Just sign up for email delivery and leave me a comment that you did.

And/or join me on Google+ and -again- leave me a comment that you did.

AND/OR go to the Project Sixty by 60 Facebook page and like it.

Each comment will give you an entry.

The prize is a $20.00 gift card to Amazon.com  OR- because of a couple of suggestions- a sketch of your choice. I'm pretty good with animals if you have always wanted a sketch of your cat or dog or ferret.

You have through midnight on Nov. 27 to enter. Get on it. Winner announced on Friday, Nov. 29.

20 November 2013

Happy happy one year for real...

So today is the actual one year anniversary for this blog.

I'm impressed with myself for sticking with the writing AND sticking with all my challenges.

And so because I've been good, I'm going to reward one of you lovely readers. 

I was torn as to just how to reward y'all but I think maybe a gift card is the best way to go. Easy peasy and everybody likes a little something extra around the holidays.  

Sooo... A $20 gift card to..... Amazon.com.    Because you can get books, or projects, or entertainment all from Amazon.com. 

And to win this lovely gift card?
Either sign up for email delivery and leave me a comment  telling me that you did or if you are already signed up, leave that in a comment also.
Or sign up with Google+... I'm still trying to exactly figure out what Google+ is but I know you can get the blog from there...and leave me a comment to that effect.
And/or go to Project Sixty by 60 on Facebook and "like" me for an extra chance.

There will  be a random drawing-I get to learn how to use one of those random drawing web sites-and the winner will be announced on the Friday after Thanksgiving. (The contest goes from  Wed., Nov. 20 to Wed., Nov. 27) 

And if I get more than 3 entries, maybe I'll add in a couple of boobie  prizes. A book, a drawing, or a cup of coffee... Who knows?! It will be a surprise. 

Happy Blogiversary to me!

An Official Delay


There will be a post later today regarding the one year anniversary give-away.

But right now I am off to Florence, Colorado in search of Western memorabilia. Can't say exactly what since it is for a birthday present.

Stay tuned......

17 November 2013

One year!

Happy Anniversary to Project Sixty by Sixty.

O my goodness. I have no idea how this happened.
One hundred thirty six posts.
One year of writing this blog.

I started out with 55 of the 60 challenges that I wanted to accomplish, an idea and a desire to write.
I've always loved to write.

(When I was about eight I wrote a book titled "How to Become a Queen". That was my goal at the time - Queen. It was pretty practical. First, buy an island. Get a crown. I had it all figured out. Or not. I'm not a Queen yet.)

And after one year I have completed 23 of the items on my list and worked on 3 others. So I am right on track...a little over one third of the challenges completed in one third the allotted time.

In a little over a month I will be 58. Eeek.

2011 Birthday cake.  
Look at all those candles.

I have to say this past year  has been one of the more interesting years I have had in a long time. And that was the whole point. I was tired of letting days and weeks slip by, doing the same ol', same ol'. No challenge, no excitement.
In the last 365 days I have reconnected with people, reconnected with myself, and reconnected with some hobbies.

So far, so good.

I feel like I need to honor my first year in some way.  Maybe a little give-away to thank everyone (all three of you?) for reading.

A gift card to somewhere challenging?

I spent a month drawing, so maybe a personalized drawing for the lucky winner?
Or would that be considered a booby prize?

A book? Or a selection of books?

I'm not sure what, but I'll be thinking on it.

Leave me a comment if you have a suggestion.

I'll have a decision by the 20th- my actual blog anniversary.

Can't wait to see what year two will bring!

14 November 2013

Friday Farewell

A Farewell...

Today I should be at a funeral in San Antonio.

Instead I am in a cabin in Colorado, about 1000 miles away.

My dear friend Liddy's mother passed away this week and I should be at the service. Unfortunately, time and miles do not permit that to happen.

Me and Liddy back in 2006 looking 
particularly glamorous.

Liddy's mother, Verlyn,  was my other mother in middle school and high school.

We all have/had friends that, during our school years, their houses would be the home base for the weekend. Their parents set the rules for the weekend and made the meals and made sure we were where we were  supposed to be.

Liddy's house was one of my home bases.

And man! was it a home base.
A beautifully restored home that had been picked up and moved to it's location in a neighborhood nearby.
Meals were home cooked and served at lovingly set tables.
Both of Liddy's parents were usually at home, doing projects around the house.

Because here is what I just realized.

Liddy's mom was Martha Stewart when Martha Stewart was still in elementary school.

Liddy's mom was her own personal HGTV show.
Hell, she was the whole channel.

She cooked. She had her own cooking school.
She sewed. Clothes. Clothes that people would actually want to wear.
Also bedding, curtains, table cloths. She sewed it all.
She decorated. Beautiful houses.
She did DIY before it was even an acronym.
She and her husband Dave even flipped a house or two- buying and restoring and selling.

And she raised three kids and was active in her church and travelled and ran businesses.

She was also sharp as a tack and so very adept at catching her precious daughter at whatever she might have been doing. Not to say that Liddy ever tried to get away with anything she shouldn't have, but still. Verlyn always caught on.
(I will say Verlyn occasionally had the aid of Liddy's older siblings when it came to busting us coming in past curfew. I am eternally grateful for my brothers being a little more lenient with me-possibly because they weren't home on time either.)

One summer our two mothers rented an apartment in San Miguel de Allende for six weeks and took us two girls down there along with Liddy's cousins. Liddy and I were 15 at the time.  What were they thinking??

Verlyn, Cousin Nancy and Jean Mom.
I truly think my mother needs to have this photo enlarged and framed 
and hung over the fireplace. (Except she doesn't have a fireplace.)
But Goodness! Doesn't she look gorgeous?

There were parties.
Verlyn snagged a girl from one of the shops to teach me and Liddy how to do macramé. Virgilia did not speak a word of English but I still use those knots that she taught us that summer.
There were field trips to areas near and far around San Miguel. This was 1970- pre-drug-cartel-Mexico. Safe as it could be.
There were picnics. I remember one picnic where the moms had brought some wine but no bottle opener. A passing gentleman was engaged in hopes that he might have an opener or an idea. He took the bottle, smashed the neck against a rock wall and handed it back. Lots of gesturing and broken English and Spanish ensued. Finally it was determined that No, we wouldn't all die from glass shards in the wine because they had been forced out when he swung the bottle. I guess he was right. We all lived.
A picnic somewhere out in the country in Mexico. 
The cousins, Verlyn, Liddy and me in braids.

Verlyn had poodles. Her favorite was a miniature named Jacque. I was at their house the day that Jacque was run over and killed. As a kid you seldom see your parents cry. It is even rarer to see a friend's parent cry. But that day Verlyn cried. She loved that dog.

And Verlyn loved me. I was the only friend allowed to call her by her first name when we were still in high school. She believed that I was a good influence on Liddy.  We'll just leave it at that.
She wasn't perfect. She was a red head and had the temper to go with her hair. But I was largely spared her wrath.

I often think of all the kids that have been through our home in the last twenty years. Which one of those kids will remember me like I remember Verlyn? Certainly plenty of them have travelled with us. I have fed kids, taken them to the beach and shopping and even to get pierced. Many have called me mom.

Because when it comes down to it, we can all use an extra mom.

And Verlyn was a good mom.

Rest in peace.

Liddy, Me (sporting some fantastically large glasses) and Cousin Nancy
at the top of Tres Cruces, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Mexico.
I do believe Liddy is carrying a bag that she macraméed.

12 November 2013

Education as we know it.

Some thoughts on Education- Formal and Informal

This past weekend was spent on a college tour with Belle.  It was informative and overly peppy and did little to inspire Belle that a four year traditional college was THE place for her.

When we came home we discovered the Hummer had a dead battery, possibly because the mama did not close the door all the way when she drove it last.
Possibly. I am not admitting or denying anything.

Because I am an overly happy OnStar subscriber, I called them and they dispatched a friendly tow truck to jump start the H3.  I had to run pick up Carlos at the kennel and hoped that the tow driver would not be there before I returned.

Of course, the tow driver showed up promptly while I was 30 minutes away. Belle was left to sign the paperwork and interact with the kind man that jump started our car.  After the Hummer was purring away, he told her to leave it running a bit and left.  (Lesson #1 with teenagers: Be specific.) She immediately turned the car off because she didn't want to sit out there with it running and God forbid! someone might steal it if she left it running in the driveway in the country in the middle of nowhere.

Guess what wouldn't start when Belle sashayed out all dressed and ready to head into town?

And then Mom decided it was time for a little class.   Jump starting a car 101.

Ok. We've got this.

We have jumper cables. We have an iPad. We have internet. What more did we need?

While the girls were convinced we were going to blow up at least one if not two cars, I had the confidence of knowing that I had done this before.  Maybe it was a million years ago, but still.

When I Googled "jump start a car" the first site that comes up is "The Art of Manliness".  I love that.

Clear and concise instructions. I love that, too.

There was a small glitch because my real car is still at the dealership with problems unspecified and the loaner is one of those "eco" models.  Maybe a hybrid? When I popped the hood, there was no battery to be found.

Again, Google to the rescue.

Looks like an accident waiting to happen.
Fortunately, that's the sun, not an explosion.

Which got me to thinking of all the things I have learned/learned how to do in the past year thanks to the internet.

Remove and replace a broken passenger side mirror on a Mercedes Benz.



Replace headlights on that same Mercedes Benz.

(Belle has an old Benz and while she picked it out and it has been very reliable, it still can't hold up to mailboxes on the side of the road and curbs on the side of the street.)

How to create a blog.

How to load a YouTube video onto that same blog.  (Along with lots of help from my genius niece, Allison.)

The best way to remove wall anchors from sheetrock without tearing an enormous hole in the wall. Unfortunately I did not share this info with Boy. He removed some shelves from his walls the old fashioned way- yanking them out.  Posters cover the fist size holes in his room right now.

Rustic apple pie when my stand-by recipe is 1000 miles away.

How to clear the filters on a washing machine.

How to change out the innards of a toilet.

About to do battle with the home potty. 

I could probably write a thesis on granuloma and lymphoma after Bunny's experience last April/May.
(click here, herehere and here to read about that adventure)

How to do a "purl" stitch knitting.  (Click here to see how I learned the basic knitting stitch.)

And tons and tons of other little things that I can't think of right now.

Which brings me to a conversation that I had on "Meet the Teacher" night at the high school that both of the girls now attend.

Both girls say Colorado high school is wayyyy easier than Texas high school. They learn less in the way of hard facts and concentrate more on the "big picture" and "how does X relate to Y?" They learn to think outside the box.
Bunny says sometimes everyone is so busy thinking outside the box that they forget to look INSIDE the box .

What I see is more papers, more projects, more discussion. Less rote learning.  Less standardized testing. Less teaching to the test.

And when I mentioned this to one of the girl's teachers he said that in reality, facts are at everyone's fingertips. At least everyone with a Smart Phone or internet access and a computer. So most of the world as I know it. And as my kids know it.
But the challenge now is to teach kids how to use the information that is so readily available and how it relates to their lives, their world, their existence.
Less memorizing the dates of some war and more learning why that war happened in the first place. You can always Google the exact dates of any war.

And when you need to learn something and actually do it yourself, that information stays with you MUCH longer than when you memorize it from a book.

I promise Belle will not forget that once a car has been jump started, you need to leave it running for at least 20 minutes so it will charge.   Bunny knows that lesson, too.

Hands on learning.

And that brings me back to the college visit.

Everywhere we read and everywhere we hear, college is now a requirement. Unfortunately a four year degree will only get you your old room back at your parents and maybe a job at McDonald's.  Now a Master's Degree is also required. Maybe even a PhD.

And everywhere there are kids with the degrees and no jobs and still no clue how to support themselves and no clue how to live on their own.  O! And plenty of them have mountains of debt from college loans.

So maybe Belle knows something that her parents don't.  That society doesn't.
She may find her path just fine going to a technical school or business school and doing exactly what she wants without the four years of delayed adulthood that college provides. Maybe she will travel instead. Maybe life will teach her what she needs to know.

Knowledge is available to all of us.

It's at our fingertips.

And just maybe this week I'll share that recipe for Rustic Apple Pie.  I have it here with me now.

06 November 2013

Odds and Ends...No. 8 and No. 49

Odds and Ends:

Working on No. 8 Redux  and also on
No. 49: Make a New Friend

(An old and a new challenge off my list.)

Last week my niece and her sweet husband had an adorable baby girl, Avery Jane. I can't wait to meet her but it will be a bit before I get to do that.
And that's okay.
By the time we see her in person she will be at that adorable cuddly baby stage and beyond fragile newborn.
But isn't she a beauty?

Avery on her birthday!

No.8: Make Baby Quilts Again has already been done (see here) for Avery's cousins but I did not want Miss Avery to feel left out. 
I am almost done with it and here is a little preview. 


I'll post a full pic once it has been delivered.   Don't want to totally spoil the surprise.

And Boy! Do I have a lot of pink fabric left over. Anyone need a baby quilt? For a small fee (actually a pretty large fee) I will happily make you one.

I've also been working on No.49: Make a New Friend.

This could be a hard one.   

I am in a new place so I was destined to meet new people and I have met lots of people-but meeting someone doesn't make them a friend. 

And there is that fine line between meeting someone and being friendly and meeting someone and being stalker-ish.

But I have met some wonderful people and I have been amazed at the kindness and inclusion I have felt. 

Having teenagers has certainly helped.  It truly does take a village to raise kids and all mamas can use some extra help.  Especially when we get the "But EVERYONE is doing it!" line.  
This came up last night and I was so happy to have Facebook messaging already set up with some of the other mamas. A quick message revealed that no, not everyone was going to be doing it. 

"It" in this instance was driving 3 hours away to a soccer game and either driving back another 3 hours through the mountains at 10:30pm or staying the night in a hotel and driving home in the morning- missing a half day of school.   No parents included. 

I don't think so.
And fortunately the other mamas didn't think so either. 

(Credit to the amazing Anne Taintor 
for this little mash-up of saying and photo. 
One of my favorites.)

Maybe not to full friend status yet- but I sure do appreciate people I can call on. 

Working on No. 49.  Just in case I have a body that needs to be disposed of. 

04 November 2013

No. 54:  Go out to dinner by myself...

or what it really says on the list:

54. Go to dinner in Salida by myself, sit at the bar and be fearless 
rather than eating frozen pizza at the cabin alone

      Thursday night was Halloween. 
      There are exactly ZERO children anywhere near our cabin so I knew I wouldn't be having any cute trick or treaters.

      The girls had cheer leading practice and then went on their merry ways, leaving the mama (me) at home alone. 

      But I had heard that in town there would be a re-enactment of the zombie dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller being performed on F Street.  F Street is the "cool' street.  (Hmm...how dated does that sound? As my girls would put it: "F Street is life." )
      A zombie flash mob.  
      Sounded entertaining to me.
      So after being abandoned by my darling children, I bundled up and headed into town. 
      I swear I passed a couple of zombies driving a Subaru station wagon on the highway- but maybe I  
just had zombies on the brain. 

Anyway, I think you can agree that this was totally worth it. The fact that I am living in a place where
fun stuff like this occurs, well, it just blows me away.  


If for some reason you can't see this video, please click HERE.

      Afterwards, I was frozen.  Standing on a street corner in 40º weather with the wind blasting through would have been no problem if I had realized just how chilly and windy it was. But I was underdressed for standing around outside.   
      Also, I was hungry
      And so, No. 54. was accomplished. 

      I walked into one of my favorite restaurants, the Fritz, and settled my behind on a bar stool. 

The Fritz from the street.

      After ordering a beer and dinner, I chatted with the owner and then waited for my food.    

      A couple of people with their faces painted like "Day of the Dead" figures came in.
      A comment by the gentleman sitting a few stools over got me into a health care discussion.  
      While I think the Affordable Care Act is a good idea in concept, obviously it has not had a successful start up. This gentleman had definite/different opinions and while I devoured a yummy ham and provolone sandwich with the most delectable french fries ever, we weighed the pros and cons of health care as we know it.  
      Unfortunately we did not come up with any solutions to improve the Affordable Healthcare Act or health insurance in general. 

But dinner was wonderful and I was totally comfortable sitting at a bar chatting with a stranger.
      This could have been a challenge because I did not want to sit by myself at a table, eating and  staring into space or at my iPhone. But I also didn't want to come off as looking to be "picked up".

      So I guess the reason for my success was simple. I went someplace small, where I was comfortable and where I was familiar with the staff.


     One more challenge accomplished.