Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rainy Days

I like rainy days.


"Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain of evening rain,
Unraveled from the tumbling main...."
~Thomas Lovel Beddoes~



"Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby."
~Langston Hughes~



"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain."


"There will be a rain dance on Friday, weather permitting."
~George Carlin~


And who can ever forget Gene Kelly's rain dance?  Go here to see that wonderful performance.

"I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain.  What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again.  I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above.  The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love.  Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place.  Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face.  I walk down the lane with a happy refrain, just singin' and singin' in the rain."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hugging - one a day highly recommended, more would be good!


The Hug

No moving parts, no batteries.
No monthly payments and no fees.
Inflation proof, non-taxable.
In fact, it's quite relaxable.


It can't be stolen, won't pollute,
One size fits all, do not dilute.
It uses little energy,
But yields results enormously.


Relieves your tension and your stress,
Invigorates your happiness.
Combats depression, makes you beam,
And elevates your self esteem!
Your circulation it corrects,
Without unpleasant side effects.


It is, I think, the perfect drug,
May I prescribe, my friend....
The Hug!
(and, of course, fully returnable)
~Author Unknown~

A hug a day, highly recommended.

(All these photos made it into my e-mail today, a forward sent from a friend.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

TODAY'S FLOWERS

A little reminder that spring for us here in the northern hemisphere is not too far away.  As I sometimes do when I feel the need, these beautiful spring flowers brought a little sunshine into our home.  I stopped by the flower shop last Saturday and these pretties told me I needed to put them in my shopping basket.  I obeyed!


Beautiful Spring is coming,
Ah, yes, will soon be here,
For the clear bright sun is shining
All human hearts to cheer.
One of the brightest gems of nature
Is the orb that o'er us shines,
And o'er the wide creation,
It'll shine to the end of time.


(a few lines from a poem by Julia A. Moore.  You can read the rest of the poem here.

~~~~~~


Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.
You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Camera Critters #203 - The Peanut Saga continues.....


Husband wants to know where his peanuts are?   I thought he understood!


Gregg says maybe if he grew whiskers and a fuzzy tail?   Hmmmm.......nahhhhh!

~~~~~~~


Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More collections

Today I thought I would share some of the prints and paintings that we have collected over the years. The last one I added was in 2011, and you can read about it in my post here.  These pieces usually have something sentimental about them, and it was our thing to buy a scene in the town or city we had lived in for a while.  We moved frequently in our navy days and there was always a print we would take with us, a little memento of a special place that meant a lot to us.


The painting above is one that gives me a connection to my Dad.  It was a gift to him on his retirement (his second career after the police force) at a solicitor's office.  We moved down to Devon when Dad retired from the Staffordshire Police Force.  We had been going to Devon twice a year for the previous eight years, and Mom and Dad always talked about moving there permanently when the time was right.  After six months of living in Devon he learned that an acquaintance of his from the old days - a solicitor (known as a lawyer to those of us in the States) - had moved down to Devon and set up a practice in Torquay.  He knew my Dad lived nearby and asked if he would go to work for him.  Dad said yes.  Years later his friend had long retired and moved to Spain, and a few years after that had passed on.  Dad in the meantime had gotten used to the people who took over and continued working until his early 70s.  He enjoyed his work but he knew when it was time to move on, so he retired for the second time and this was one of the gifts he was given from his colleagues.  It is a scene painted by a local artist in Torbay - I'm almost positive but not 100 percent sure that it is Goodrington.   This came to me when Dad passed on 18 years ago and it is my most treasured possession.


These next three paintings I bought in the town of Worcester.   By this time I had been living in the States and when Gregg put out to sea for six months, I often went back home to visit my parents and also my sister and her husband.  They lived about a couple of hundred miles north from my Mum and Dad, in the county of Worcestershire.   I remember passing the old Tudor house (above) many times on our walks around the city, and not too far away I saw this painting in a shop window.  My sister and I ventured inside and not only did I buy this one, but also the two below.  The owner of the shop was also the artist.


Above, the town of Pershore in the distance.  My sister and brother-in-law lived in a tiny village not far away.  I walked many times alongside the River Avon and watched the barges and other small craft go back and forth.  Gregg and I had done this when we first drove up north to introduce him to my sister and her husband, as did my family and I for many years before that.  It was a favorite walk of ours.


The third and last painting (above) I bought from the same shop in Worcester.   I had always had a soft spot for white geese and when I saw this I fell in love with it.  The artist called it "The Three Graces", a title which I've occasionally borrowed for a blog post when I have shared a photograph I thought was appropriate.    I had quite a time carrying them on the airplane when I eventually went back home but I didn't want to put them in the cargo hold.  I managed!


The village scene above is unknown to me.  I found it years later when I drove by a shop - and did a quick u-turn - called The English Cottage in Manassas.  When I stepped inside it was like being home again, and it reminded me of my village in Devon, the church looked very similar.  Little did I know years later when I practically fell into a job working in a small British gift shop and tea room, that the owner of that place had also once been the owner of The English Cottage.   It is no longer in existence and closed some time ago but I still have my print to remember it by.


Now, the picture above isn't actually a print but a photograph I took when Gregg and I visited family in North Dakota.  I turned it into  a 'painting' with the special effects on my Paint Shop Pro.  This was one of the old programs and I loved how it turned out.  When I lost it in a computer crash I bought a new PSP, but, I have as not yet been able to create the same effect.  Still working on that!


Above you can see the old Spanish Mission, the Mission Basilica San Diego de Acala.  It was one of a pair that I bought from the same artist just before we left San Diego for Virginia.  The other was the Hotel Del Coronado.  I would have shown it here but I couldn't get a decent shot of it and there was no way I was taking it off the wall today.  It would have taken forever.   Funny thing is that it wasn't until years later that I actually got to see the mission, when I tagged along on one of Gregg's business trips in September 2010 and we both got to see it for the first time.  I posted those photos here.


Here is another, Mission San Carlos Borromeo del rio Carmelo, also known as the Carmel Mission.  Back in the early 80s, Gregg went to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.  Again, when we knew we were leaving, I visited the gift shop inside the school and bought this off the artist.  Carmel is the next town over and we visited often, especially loving walking along the beach.  Here again, never saw the actual mission but you've got to save something for the next time right?  A good excuse to go back.

The one of the steps is again an actual photograph that I turned into another painting, in a different style to the other.  I never have been able to recreate the technique since I lost that first program.  You can find those steps at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk, Virginia.


I couldn't fit the frame in no matter how often I tried so this one comes without the frame.  More geese, of the Canada Goose variety.  I used to frequent a small shop in Occoquan and actually sold Christmas ornaments I had made to the owner.  One day when I was dropping off a box of ornaments, she was sitting with the gentleman who was the artist of this Canada Geese and they were drinking a cup of coffee.  I was asked to join them and I chatted to the man about his art.  He had several that I had greatly admired, this one in particular.  After he left I mentioned that I loved this particular print and the lady and I negotiated a deal, a box of ornaments for the print.  I thought it was a very good deal.


The last print I have absolutely no memory of where I bought it.  All I remember is seeing it, loving it and wanting to buy it for our guest room, which we were still decorating not having been in our new home for very long.  I have always been captivated by the Amish way of life and this scene was so inviting and look, there are those white geese in the picture.  I left the shop with it under my arm.


This little piece of folkart is also in our guest room.  In those days I sold my ornaments mostly at craft shows, and I often bought items from fellow crafters.  This Amish Scene came from a lady who had a table across from mine.  We enjoyed chatting during the down times and at the end of the day we bought each others wares.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Dream


I had a dream the other night (2-19-12 actually).  I don't very often remember them but last night Gregg and I found ourselves back in Arizona, except he didn't know it.  We have been there a few times before, the last about three years ago.

In my dream while walking around one of the national parks we spotted a mountain lion and marveled at its beauty, not being afraid at all at the close proximity.  I felt very safe.  In the next moment we found ourselves in the visitors' center and while looking around, the same mountain lion walked in.  This time we hid behind the nearest door, which happened to be the ladies room.  There were other people inside already and as I peaked out, the mountain lion left.  I went up to the desk and asked a lady behind it, "Does this happen often?"  and as she opened her mouth to reply, I woke up before I got the answer.

It didn't take me long to figure out why I had dreamed of Arizona.  I enjoy going to Marie's blog - A Colorful World.   Marie used to live in Virginia but moved to Arizona not so long ago.  I was showing Gregg one of her posts which we both enjoyed, and we talked about driving through the state, hence I found myself back in Arizona last night.  We always knew we would be taking a trip back one day, but not in one of my dreams.  The other surprise for me was that I actually remembered it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Celebrating Our Differences


"I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other.  Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life - whoever you are, whatever our differences."

~John Denver~

Sunday, February 19, 2012

TODAY'S FLOWERS # 181

 Gregg gave me these lovely flowers on Valentine's Day last Tuesday.





Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.
You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Camera Critters

I ran out of animal photos so I found a couple of old ones and have reposted them.  I took shots of this beauty on vacation a couple of years ago when we visited the local zoo.  I felt so fortunate to get them.  He was  moving pretty fast.




Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Crockpot Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce


I am always looking for healthier ways to cook and when I found this at Gina's skinnytaste.com blog, I decided to give it a try.  It works out to 146 calories per 1/2 cup serving.  If you click on the name it will take you to their recipe.

The other good news for me is that this is a crockpot meal, and lately I have been using my crockpot more than I ever did.  Makes cooking so much easier because as I've said before, you can start preparing early in the day and by the time the meal is cooked, you can relax, sit back and enjoy your meal.  There is a little preparation beforehand and you have to chop up all the vegetables but there are short-cuts.  You can use your food processor if you have one.  I do all the veggie chopping with my handy sharp knife but the key words are "early in the day" when energy levels are pretty good.  I could use a processor but frankly I find the process of preparation relaxing.

Crockpot Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

4 ounces of Pancetta, chopped (or center cut bacon)
1 teaspoon butter (or olive oil)
1 large white onion, minced
2 celery stalks (about 3/4 cup), minced
2 carrots (about 3/4 cup), minced
2 lbs. 95% lean ground beef
1/4 cup white wine
2 - 28 ounce - cans crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup  half and half cream

In a large saute pan, saute pancetta on low heat until the fat melts, about 4-5 minutes.

Add butter (or olive oil), onions, celery, carrots and cook on medium-low heat until soft, about five minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and add meat, season with salt and pepper, and saute until browned.  Drain the fat, then add the wine, and pour yourself a glass should the sun be over the yard arm.  Maybe this is one of the reason all good chefs I've listened to, when using wine for cooking, don't buy one of the cheap cooking wines!  Cook until liquid reduces down, about 3-4 minutes.

Add this mixture to the crockpot, along with the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cover and set on low and go do other things for the next six hours.  After six hours, serve up your dinner.

~~~~~~

Another good result, very yummy and a keeper.

Whenever I am cooking spaghetti, I always use Angel Hair Pasta.  Gregg's Mom once served it to us years ago and we discovered a new taste sensation thanks to her.  We now enjoy this much more than the regular  - and thicker - spaghetti.  Of course, it depends on your own personal taste.  My mother-in-law made the best spaghetti and meatballs too.  As I get older I remember more and more the good memories surrounding the food that our mothers cooked for us.

We had this meal two nights in a row.  The first night I served it with a mixed green salad.  I had some shredded Gruyere cheese left over from another recipe which I wanted to use up, and so I sprinkled a couple of slices of bread with the cheese and melted it under the grill.   The second night I had been out all day and it was nice just to be able to heat up the leftovers for another delicious meal.  Both Gregg and I said it tasted even better.   I still had leftovers and froze the rest for future meals.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hazel's Hammies and Ginger Tom

Technically these pets belong to Hazel's daughter and when I went over yesterday and I asked if I could take some pictures.  Hazel said no problem.   




The Hammies have the upstairs, the Kitty has the downstairs.


This pretty ginger tom reminds me of the one I had as a young girl, and he was just as affectionate.   There is another in residence but I only saw him for a second.  He was a little shy.


Thanks for lunch Hazel and thanks for letting me take these photos.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remembering Spike Milligan


It's really interesting what you tend to come across while surfing, when looking for something entirely different.  Such was the case today when my search took me to a wonderful blog - Cookooites.org Cuckoo Estate Hanwell W.7, where they shared one of Spike's humorous poems.  The Spike I am talking about is Spike Milligan.  Spike was someone I knew from all the times I had seen him on the TV when I grew up in England, a comedian and a very talented writer and poet.  A lot of his poems were written for children, as is the one below.

~~~~~~~

Look at all those monkeys
Jumping in their cage.
Why don't they all go out to work
And earn a decent wage?

How can you say such silly things,
And you a son of mine?
Imagine monkeys travelling on
The Morden-Edgeware line!

But what about the Pekinese!
They have an allocation.
'Don't travel during Peke hour',
It says on every station.

My Gosh, you're right, my clever boy,
I never thought of that!
And so they left the monkey house,
While an elephant raised his hat.

 "Look At All Those Monkeys!"
by
Spike Milligan

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!


"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."
~Aristotle~

Please click here to open your card.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our connection to George Seurat


On Friday night Gregg and I were very happy to attend the opening of a local production of Sunday in the Park with George, which was originally inspired by George Seurat's marvelous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  You can read about it if you click on this link.  Our daughter-in-law Lisa had a part and it was wonderful seeing her and the other cast members sing and perform so beautifully.  We were very impressed with the whole production, from the actors to the people in the back in charge of all the lighting and special effects, to the 10-member orchestra behind the scenes.  We were especially proud of our daughter-in-law.  


Our evening started when we drove over to pick up our son and a good friend of theirs.  Lisa had already left for the theater to get ready for her role.  We were early and were able to get a seat in the first row, and were surprised and delighted when Lisa's brother and sister-in-law arrived shortly afterwards.  They were in town for the weekend and we had a great time catching up before the performance, in the intermission and later as we waited for Lisa to join us after the show.


The photo above and below shows Lisa.  


It was a great evening and I couldn't have enjoyed it more if I had been watching the original on Broadway.  Anyone of these good people would fit right in one of those performances.


Well done everyone and especially to our daughter-in-law Lisa.  You certainly deserved the standing ovation at the end of the performance.

If you would like to learn more about George Seurat, you can find information here.

On Saturday I was at the local movie theatre with friends watching the New York Met's live televised performance of The Gotterdammerung, the final opera in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.  With two intermissions of about 20-25 minutes each, I was in the movie theater for five-and-a-half hours, but the stiffness I felt sitting for all that time was well worth it as it was extremely enjoyable.

We had a good dose of culture this weekend and I hope to take my friends to see our daughter-in-law perform before the show ends.