Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Year of January

Spring ~ January 22, 2009

Summer ~ January 14, 2009

Autumn ~ January 27, 2009

Winter ~ January 11, 2009

January has been an interesting sort of month, so far. It occurred to me yesterday when I posted Autumn in Winter. I checked to be certain, and yep, I'm right! I've posted some version of all of these photos this month. Sure can't say we haven't had variety! We're on the threshold of February. Can't wait to see what it brings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Autumn in Winter

Later, this Spring I will have to show you the Lady Banks Rose that grows over the arbor, over our back door. Then you will understand why we live alongside a plant that seems to drop something year round. In the meantime, I took these pictures of an old watering can whose main job this time of year is to collect leaves as Lady Banks drops them. Don't you agree that it seems an odd time of year for that? But it is normal for my Lady. We have to sweep them up every dry day or we have as many inside as out. Well, we do, anyway, because it is the door that we let the dog out. . . and in. Isn't it pretty the way the leaves are caught in the rim?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Such a Nice Day. . .

What is a girl supposed to do when she sees tulips at the home improvement store in the middle of the Winter, and has a beautiful empty planter handy on the front porch? I ask you?

I made the Clementine Marmalade. . . .and. . . it's delicious!
I say that in case you know that this was a trial for me, I don't usually care for marmalade, but gave it a whirl, anyway. I'll have to make scones sometime soon, so I can properly enjoy this golden gooey-ness.

My brothers will be pleased that I made bottles of Pickled Papaya. My Family will remember Cecelia Manley. She was a lovely, sweet girl, who befriended us when we lived on Guam. She taught all of us a great deal about the Guamanian lifestyle. She also taught me to make Pickled Papaya. I wonder if she remembers us as fondly as we do her. . .

Mmmmm . . . Papaya yumminess. Thank you, Cecelia.
I had such a nice day. I didn't necessarily accomplish the things that were on my list for the day, but there weren't any pressing issues, and I had such a nice day.
I see that a couple of you have looked for the recipe for Pickled Papaya. I owe it to you to include it, don't you think? Here, goes!

Pickled Papaya Recipe
(as I recall )
For this batch, four quarts, I used, approximately:
3 cups White Distilled Vinegar
5-6 pounds ripe Papaya (2 large)
1 jar (12 oz. ?) Banana Peppers, including liquid
1 medium White Onion
2 Tablespoons whole Black Pepper Corns
3/4-1 cup white Sugar
1-2 teaspoons of salt, according to taste
Notes and Preparation:
Sterilize jars and lids.
This is not processed in a hot water bath. It is a cold process and must be kept refrigerated.
Peel papayas.
Scoop out seeds, and discard them.
Slice Papaya into long thin slices. They will need to be short enough to be covered with liquid in the jars.
Thinly slice the onion.

In a medium saucepan, over medium flame, combine vinegar, pickling juice from the jar of banana peppers, sugar and pepper corns. Heat just to simmering, making certain that the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Distribute the banana peppers evenly among the jars (this should be about 4 or 5 per quart jar).

Alternate filling the jars with the papaya and onion slices. (I mean add a few onion slices, then a few papaya slices, then a few onion, an so on . . .)

After the jars are filled with the fresh produce, carefully pour the vinegar mixture until it covers all of the fresh ingredients. If you run a little short, you may add more vinegar; or if it just a tiny bit short, a little water to finish topping off. Important Note: I like to make certain that the liquid has cooled. Be aware of the potential for breaking the jars if you pour hot liquid over cold fruit in cold jars.

Seal jars with lids and rings, and refrigerate.

More Notes:
There will already be pretty well developed flavor in a day or two.
I can't tell you how long it will keep in the refrigerator, but you are used to being aware of these things, right?
I had wanted to try the recipe with Apple Cider Vinegar, but when I got home from the grocer, the seal on my new bottle was broken, and I'm just paranoid about those things, so I opted to use the white vinegar that I had on hand, as I recall the original recipe called for that, anyway. But I still think cider vinegar would be delicious! I will have to give it a whirl some time.
If you think you would like your pickled papaya a little hotter, you could try jalapenos instead of banana peppers. Oooh, that sounds positively yummy!
This is the recipe as it was taught to me, many, many years ago.
Have fun experimenting!

I found the Clementine Marmalade recipe on Recipezaar. They stated that it originally came from the book Preserving Nature's Bounty, by Francis Bissell. AND, it was delicious!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vintage Valentine Swap ~ part deux

All of the lovely, glittery, Valentine scraps can be whisked away. I am finished! The pages have been mailed to Dede Warren ~ Dream, Create, Share for inclusion in a book from like minded women who have also been plying their art into original, miniature artworks to share with one another.
Each of us will receive a one-of-a-kind book in return mail, after Dede and some of her dear friends have assembled and bound them.

Isn't this just too delightful to be true!? Wouldn't it be fun to be there with all of the combined loveliness spread out over the table? I expect it will be a gorgeous chaos.

Thank you Dede and company for your efforts! Thank you, all of you special ladies who have taken time to contribute! I can't wait to see what, together we have wrought! Can you?

{Other photos are listed in posts titled, Vintage Valentine Swap and I'm working, I'm working!}

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clementine Marmalade

Future marmalade

From the “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” school of reasoning. . .

I need black ink to print in color. It’s a quirk that I’m not crazy about, but otherwise I just love my printer.

I have a LOT of work to do, and I need my printer to print in color. Here it is 8:30PM and I have to run to the store in the next town because there isn’t a place in our little burg that carries the ink that I need. Otherwise, I just love my printer, honest.

But, I need to prepare the clementines so I can make marmalade tomorrow, because the cooking process begins the night before, so I need to wash them.

sooo… I need to empty the dishwasher, so I can reload it, so I can have an empty sink in which to wash clementines, so I can get the cooking process started before I run to the store to buy the black ink so my printer will print in color and I can get on with my work.

Are you following me?

Maybe I have become a bit bonkers, but I decided in the midst of this, that my dishes look kind of pretty in the dishwasher. Don't you think?

Now what I am trying to decide is. . .
Is somebody trying to make a fool out of me, or am I doing a fine job of that all by myself?

The recipe’s first instruction: “Scrub the clementines”.

The funny thing is. . . I don’t even like marmalade. But the thought of making it myself gives me some reason to believe that it will be different this time.

My son tells me that one definition of insanity is attempting the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.

Maybe I have become a bit bonkers.

Click on the title for a brief synopsis of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Click on this one to read the story yourself! If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

~ Love!

P.S. Here is the recipe that I'm using: Clementine Marmalade Recipe

. Can't vouch for it yet, but will try to get a marmalade lover to help with that! Oh, and one more thing, it was Alison's idea in the first place.
Check out her blog! Brocante Home

I made the Clementine Marmalade. . . .and. . . it's delicious!

~ Love, Love!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vintage Valentine Swap

With the exception of the butterflies, the vintage Valentine images are reproductions from Grandma Seastrand's postcard collection.

Am I a lucky girl, or what?

Do you think any one person should be allowed to have this much fun?

The next two have all sorts of lovely vintage elements donated by my sweet Mom.

There are more images posted on my blogs titled: I'm Working, I'm Working! and

Vintage Valentine Swap.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm working, I'm working!

Wouldn't it be fun if all work. . .

felt this much like play?


I need to explain all this messy loveliness, which brings to mind something that I have always said. . .after all is said and done, and the bits too small to be saved must be swept away, "I have the prettiest trash!"

I follow Dede Warren's Blog ~ Dream, Create, Share. You know that I put a lot of effort into surrounding myself with beauty. That translates into the things that I read, as well as every other conceivable effort! . . .which explains why I follow Dede's blog. I got really lucky the other day, and happened across her blog invitation to join a "Vintage Valentine Swap" in time to join before the number of artists were at unmanageable levels, and I got in! Can you believe it?! I am part of this really wonderful exchange, and closing in on our deadline, fast!

We are each to design 16 pages with the rather loose parameters of 5 X 7 and vintage Valentine. Once Dede receives our contributions, she will add a page to each book, design the cover, bind them and ship them back to us. Isn't this just too good to be true!?

I'll post pictures of the finished products, cause this is all just too yummy to keep to myself! So far the pictures that you see are incomplete pages, both have improved considerably since the photos!

I can't wait to tell you more! Watch this space for more delightful goodies!

Note ~ There are more images posted on my blogs titled: Vintage Valentine Swap and Vintage Valentine Swap ~ part deux

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January in my backyard

It is 61 lovely, toasty, warm degrees outside, and it will be warmer still before the day is through! I was able to hang a few things outside to dry!
To be fair, Cyclamen and Pansies are winter bloomers here, in Zone 9.

These are technically Violas, but they are awfully similar to Pansies in temperment.

But still. . . don't you just love California?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something Beautiful

Sometimes you just need to read something lovely and tender. Don't you think? This week, I have been following a blog that you won't be able to stop thinking about. Scroll down, and start reading at Love ~ Chapter 1, and work your way back up. It is tender and moving. inspireco

You must, must at the very least, explore her lovely blog.

Every now and then, it is nice, even necessary to remind yourself that there are beautiful, selfless people in this world. After reading this story, you will find a new confidence in , it's difficult to put it into words, what I want to say is that you will be reminded that there are still people who will give out of the goodness of their hearts, but that's not right either, maybe the simplest is the best. There are still really good people out there. We just aren't always aware. We don't know who they are, because it's a quiet life they lead. The newspaper business doesn't trade in telling the best of human nature, that isn't news, but it is the thing that we read daily.

What I want to suggest is that we put some effort into balancing all of the "news", with beauty.

I try to surround myself with beauty daily. One of my favorite Bible passages, that I really, truly try to live by is:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

I'll read this tomorrow and probably will correct the rambling, but tonight, I wanted to at least put the suggestion out there. What do you say?

Vintage Image courtesy of

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Feed The Birds

I love birds. Anyone that knows me, knows that. And I feed the birds.

Over the years I have learned a few things that work for me, and as is my style, I just can't keep it to myself. ;)

First, birdseed germinates wherever it falls, and if it weren't in seed form, we would call it weeds. This is generally not considered lovely when it happens in your lawn.

You can sterilize the seed so that most of it will not germinate. I have searched and found conflicting reports as to whether or not this changes the nutritional character of the seed. My observations over several years, is that the birds love it. They flock to my yard. I think they think it is an especial treat to have nice tasty roasted seed. I did find a scholarly article that suggested this style, too, so I really do feel confident that roasting is a healthy method. Oh yes, that, and we are told that roasted seed and nuts are nutritious for us, so I have that argument on my side as well!

How to Sterilize Birdseed

  • Place your wild birdseed in a deep ovenproof pan, I use a 16 X 3 inch cake pan.
  • Roast in 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 2 1/2 hours

That's it! I leave it in the oven while it cools, for good measure. Very little will germinate, and the house smells nice and nutty while it roasts.

Hummingbird Food Recipe

Hummingbird food is quick, easy, and inexpensive to make. I can't imagine why you would want to buy the packaged stuff! You probably already have white sugar in the kitchen!

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • Combine in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer till sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Continue to simmer for just a couple of minutes. (You are making a very thin syrup)
  • Cool and fill feeder

Food Coloring is not a natural ingredient and is said to be both unnecessary and especially, unhealthy for the birds. It's true that they are attracted to the color, but the feeder will have red on it for that purpose.

Of course, this recipe makes 4 cups of food, but the point is, it's a 1 : 4 ratio {1 part sugar to 4 parts water}. Same directions for preparation. You can make exacty the amount that your feeder will hold.

Go out and make your yard a birdie diner! Enjoy the results and the sweet company!

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Isn't it all rather lovely? The old and the new.

It's still hovering right around freezing, but my nice steamy cup of tea is helping nicely with that. Hope your day is lovely, too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vintage Shopping Finds!

Oooh, Lookie! Vintage Christmas bangles and baubles!

I have a sort of a collection of these little houses, but until now, they were all reproduction! I am very pleased!

Aren't the little houses just the sweetest? And I love the little Christmas baubles!
They were even on sale, a little! I didn't even think to look for things like this before Christmas! I assumed if they were there, somebody else had already found them. Was I ever wrong! I even got to decide which ones I wanted! There were actually options! With goodies like this out there, I might have to start shopping again!


There is a hawk terrorizing the timid little finches that feed in my front yard . . .picking them off like fish in a barrel. I am so upset.

I suppose it was inevitable. . .anyplace the little ones gather. . .runs his odds up. But he's such a horror! And he sits in the tree and cheeps like an Easter chickie while I scold. Big Chicken! Pick on someone your own size!

I've heard hawks described as majestic. . .the way they soar, with that wide wingspan. . .but up close like this, he's just rumpled and sorry looking. Just a big old bully, too lazy to hunt for his dinner like a proud bird. . . so he picks off the tiny birds as they flock to my bird feeder, where they have come to trust that dinner will be served. I'm not chumming for the hawks for crying out loud!

I suppose it is he who is responsible for the little tuft of downie feathers scooting ahead of me on the sidewalk in the breeze.

I don't have to like this circle of life thing!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Christmas has come and gone, but please bear with me for a couple more pictures of my blessings!Somehow, we always seem to shop for our Christmas trees in the evening. This little one slipped into slumber on the way there. Thank Goodness for Daddies and strong shoulders! I promise, he didn't miss a minute of the fun! He heard his cousins' voices and awakened ready to roll.

The three of them kept all seven adults spinning. In case you're keeping track that ratio was: 3:7 (3 kiddies+ 7 adults= 10 sets of hysterical giggles! )

Don't you just love the wonder when a little boy encounters the worlds biggest Dept. 56 Village and electric train display! I wish I could describe it for you! We walked around and around that display, I don't know, probably no fewer that 11 or 12 times. His favorite part was the train crossing the bridge.

Isn't he a big boy? He enjoys a good nature hike!

. . .and lest I forget, the train crossing the bridge!