Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Organization Tip to Beat Clutter

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Organization Feels

So Good!

Recently, I mentioned how I had spent some time organizing my space. I had so many small items all over the top of the shelf, I just didn’t know what to do. An “aha” moment struck, and I took the lid from a box and put several of the items inside of it. Now, I can still have all my goodies out but it’s no longer cluttered.

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Then, I took the bottom of the box and turned it on its side. I added more items inside of it so I have them all arranged together. This might work for you if you have lots of small items, too.

 

Mom Update

Mom came through her pacemaker replacement with flying colors. I couldn’t believe how pretty she looked going into surgery. She had lipstick on and a little eye make up and looked better than I’ve seen her in a while. She even came out of surgery with her lipstick intact! Her sweet nurse Heather she told her she looked like she was in her 60’s, which of course made her feel good. She was also feeling pretty darn great from the drugs. However, she was woozy and said the funniest thing. First, I must tell you that mom is from Sweden so she has been known to fracture the English language. And, she is a church-going widow who has no boyfriends.

Mom: (About one of the drugs) That was pretty potent. It’s like Viagra.

Me: No, mom. You mean Vicodin.

That’s my mom!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July, 2010 continued.

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Miss Gracie's favorite tail position

I call it the piglet tail.

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No name for this, just her sweet little paw.

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 My Yummy Meal

Last weekend, I made three new recipes for dinner. First up was a fresh corn, crab and tomato salad. I had been wanting to try this for quite some time but could not find both fresh crab and corn on the cob at the same time. Finally, it came together. It was mixed with fresh basil, red onion and cherry tomatoes atop slices of heirloom Cherokee tomatoes (my favorite type of heirloom).

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Next up was a Rachel Ray pasta recipe found in one of her recent magazine issues.

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More cherry tomatoes were involved, but this time they were roasted.

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Yum-O! At least, I think that is what she says. Fresh roasted cherry tomatoes, chopped basil and Italian flat leaf parsley, red onions and an olive oil and garlic base with parmesan cheese. So good, but have you noticed that it always seems to be that much tastier the next day?

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This was served with roasted baby carrots. I love roasting vegetables because it brings out a sweet, caramelized flavor you can’t get otherwise.

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Oh, and for desert, a fresh peach and nectarine pie served with vanilla bean ice cream. Yes, I was a busy cook last Sunday but I so enjoy being able to make wonderful dishes with fresh fruits and vegetables purchased at our local farmer’s market. It really is a joyful experience to see and taste all the locally grown produce.

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And best of all? Mom came over for dinner and enjoyed it with us. She looked so cute, I had to take a picture of her before she left. Mom turned 80 last May and is having surgery on Tuesday to have her pacemaker replaced, so I was glad to have made her a yummy meal beforehand. I sent her packing with leftovers so she could enjoy it one more day, too.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Random Bits

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July is a Great Month to Take Photographs

As you can see, this is not a collection of natural artifacts. No, it’s part of my rhinestone collection, but that’s okay with me. You see, I am taking an online class called Picture Summer right now. Every day in July we get a new photographic assignment for the day. One day, we were to study our own natural collection (the instructor had sea shells), arrange the pieces into a vignette and shoot it.

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I could not think of any “natural” artifacts that I collect so I had to improvise. Well gosh, I do have a lot of jewelry pieces that keeps growing. Actually, I was just as happy to select these pieces and arrange them on a soft, velvet pink pillow.

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A Birthday Celebration

This weekend, I celebrated the birthday of a friend. My little surprise gift was packaged in a repurposed tiny box lined with felt and wrapped in gold tissue.

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Lately, the envelopes I’ve been decorating have turned out to be 3-D. I adhered a big fluffy flower pin with strips of colored seam binding and gold faux beads atop some pretty paper.

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A pretty card in a pretty envelope, a petite gift and a roll of Italian papers made for her birthday surprise.

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Summer = Fruit

In the morning, I went to our local farmer’s market for some yummy summer fruit. Feeling ambitious, I also bought a bag of “overripe” peaches and nectarines at half price to make a cobbler, one of my favorite desserts. I can’t wait!

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This particular nectarine came from Whole Foods Market but let me tell you why. This is a nectarine from Frog Hollow Farms. They produce fruit for local stores and farmer’s markets, as well as making and selling jams and other products. Some time ago, I had their jams and they were to die for! Then, I happened to find them at the Ferry Building in San Francisco at a Saturday farmer’s market on the Embarcadero. Oh, my! Not only did they have a fruit stand but a bakery store as well. I bought several of their fruit pastries and ever since then, I’ve wanted to go back for more. I don’t go to SF very often, but that’s another story I’ll save for later. Happily, my sis will be going there this week. She’s going on a trip to the Ferry Building/farmer’s market for lunch followed by a taping of View from the Bay, a local television show. I’ve already told her that her mission that day is to buy me as many fruit pastries as she can carry!

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Miss Gracie, What a Nut

Here’s Miss Gracie saying “ok, take the picture already!” yesterday. She was laying on the table behind Tina’s laptop, hoping to play with the cord. And I was snapping away, trying to get a good shot.

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She was having loads of fun, grabbing the cord, then rolling over and trying to eat the faux cherry blossom flowers. Eventually, she pulled the plug out from the computer!

Then, at 6:15 a.m. this morning she left our bed and sat one inch from Tina’s bedroom door crying and crying. I got up and brought her back to bed but she went right back again. Eventually, Tina had to get up because she (nobody) could sleep with all the noise. When Tina opened the door and asked Gracie what she wanted, she ran into the bathroom, jumped onto the counter and looked up anxiously into the air. Tina looked all around and then notice a GIANT brown spider up on the wall. That’s my Gracie, she’s just so smart!

By that time, nobody was going back to sleep so I devised a way to capture the spider and eventually let it go outside in the garden. It was a little tense though!

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Pssst...…

Now, Miss Gracie and I are going to let you in on a little secret about how we get our hair so curly every day…

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Well, actually Miss Gracie doesn’t curl her hair but I do. Yes, my curls come from seven little sponge rollers. Is that a blast from the past, or what? My hair is so fine, electric products cause too much damage. And these are so quick! It takes just a few minutes each night to put them in and a few minutes to take them out in the morning. I’ve used these off and on (whenever I’ve had long hair) since I was in high school.

The funny thing is that my hair still does its own thing so it can be very curly to less curly each day. But, I still must have curls! When I was six years old and had a little pixie haircut, I insisted on having curls for my school picture. Consequently, I have a goofy picture of me with two pin curls on either side of my head as it was the best my mother could do with my short, fine hair. 

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I love that it’s a reminder that I’ve always been a girly girl at heart.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chocolove XOXOX



Mmmm...... Yes, Chocolove's Peppermint Dark Chocolate bar is full of chocolately goodness. If you love chocolate and you love mint, you'll love this bar. Okay, I just had to put another piece in my mouth right now because writing about it made me want it again! It's smooth chocolate that melts in your mouth and leaves a minty flavor behind. I can only find this bar at the Whole Foods Market in Cupertino, so when I stopped there last weekend after the flea market, I bought three bars. Luckily, they were on sale too. I wanted more but I could not justify spending so much of my grocery money on chocolate!

I used to like milk chocolate, but some years ago I began to like dark chocolate even more. Now, I need a little chocolate each day. Since I only eat a small bit at a time, the bars tend to last me a long time. If you can find the Chocolove brand, I recommend you try one of their bars as they make several great flavors. And, you can't beat the packaging which has lovely literary quotes printed on the inside wrapper! It truly is chocolate love.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flea Market Frenzy

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Oh, did I find some nifty things this past weekend at my favorite flea market. I always look for broken jewelry (as well as unbroken!) and lo and behold, I found two pieces of tiaras!

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I’m not sure why anyone would cut the sides off, but that didn’t really matter as the best parts were still there. I am quite delighted with this find!

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For some time, I’ve wanted a clear cake plate and just my luck, I found a beautiful vintage one at my first stop. I got it for a steal, as I learned when I saw others that weren’t even vintage selling for much more.

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How heavenly is this pearly little clock! The vendor gave it to me for free, yes, FREE! He said he wasn’t sure it it even worked (does that even matter?!) and I had purchased some other items from him just prior. This won’t be the first clock I’ve purchased that doesn’t work; really, I get this for their decor.

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Just odds and ends of jewelry pieces I couldn’t resist.

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Rhinestone Alert!

Two beautiful necklaces not for the mannequin, but for me.

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And two yummy bracelets… One skinny older one; and another new decorative one that I got at the Macy’s table. Yes, there is a vendor that sells only Macy’s jewelry that is past season and it’s all just a $1 or more but always a super deal.

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More baubles…

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And pearls, too! Two old necklaces of which one I can still wear and the other goes into my vintage pearl collection.

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So I mentioned I look for broken jewelry; I have no idea what these two little pieces were, but they just had to come home with me.

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Oh, Miss Gracie!

As you may know, Miss Gracie insists on helping with every photo shoot. However, this time we got into a little tug of war with the objects!

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Party time! And am I not a princess?

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Yes, I am! It’s a package of cupcake liners and 24 princess toppers to place on each cupcake. Guess I’ll have to have a princess party.

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A couple of yellow flowers and two glass dishes handy for jewels or cashews!

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Some pretty handkerchiefs called to me with dainty flowers sewn into each one.

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Sis found some things, too. A glass chicken (rooster?) and bunny called her name. I know there must be a name for this type of item, but I’m not familiar with it. Do you know?

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Oh, and I did get a bag full of linens which I’d love to show you. Unfortunately, Miss Gracie had other plans.

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Another favorite find (how many favorites can a person have?) is this little hat covered all over with flowers.

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This is the front but I really like the back of it too as it has light pink flowers in front yet brighter flowers in back.

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It truly is the sweetest hat, but not to be worn by me.

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No, you have to be a doll or Mr. Bear to wear this hat I think. It is a small hat but a beauty nonetheless.

Being that it was a holiday weekend, there weren’t as many vendors but it still took a good three hours to see all the booths. As I finished, it was starting to get pretty warm outside so we stopped down the street at Whole Foods Market for a yummy lunch. Another successful day at the flea market!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July



Wishing a happy Fourth of July to everyone! Yesterday was flea market day - I have pictures which I'll post shortly. It was really fun but I must admit feeling a tinge of regret as I struggle with the want vs. need thing. No, I don'r really need anything more, but gosh, it sure is fun to hunt for treasures. Today I spent several hours organizing my space because all the stuff was driving me crazy! It is looking much better now. I did have to get rid of some things, which is always hard to do. I do feel like there are a lot of art supplies that I won't use anymore and it made me feel a little sad boxing them up. However, I'll just  store the box so I can alway dip into it if need be.

Tonight we'll be watching the celebrations on tv, which is our tradition. Two we never miss are A Capitol Fourth and the Boston Pops. Our town has one of the few remaining fireworks celebrations and it gets really busy with so many people coming here. It is estimated 30,000 - 40,000 people will attend! So I'll watch outside my window and stay here with the kitties so no one gets scared. And then, one more day off before returning back to my regular schedule. Well, Miss Gracie is asking me to sit by her while she suns herself, so I must go do that for a while. There's nothing more important than cat happiness in this house!

Friday, July 2, 2010

It’s Flea Market Time!

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Yes, I missed it last month; well, it was actually part of my money saving plan. But now it’s July and I’m off to the flea market this weekend. So excited! I’ve been looking forward to it all week long as the highlight of my staycation. Plus, the weather is warming up and it’s great to be there in the warm, beautiful weather. Will follow it up with a trip to the biggest Whole Foods Market I’ve ever been (it’s really like the Disneyland of foods in there!). Miss Gracie will miss me but I promised her I’d spend time with her when I return. Happy Fourth of July weekend to you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lovin’ My Macro Lens

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Happy Happy Joy Joy!
I think I’m in love with my new Macro lens. I’ve had the Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro for two or three weeks now but haven’t had much time to play. Since I’ve been on my “staycation” this week, it’s been great fun practicing with it.
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I’m shooting anything that doesn’t move (except for Miss Gracie and Nipper, of course!). Macro photography has been something I’ve always enjoyed tremendously.
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I’ve always loved photographing flowers as well so the combination of the two is perfect. I’m one of those people that just can’t seem to get close enough with my shots, so I’m really happy I now have this lens.
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I’m not sure if I mentioned that I returned the Tamron 70 – 200mm 2.8 lens that I purchased right before this lens. It was so heavy! However, I’m thinking that I will probably go ahead and get that lens sometime in the future as I loved having that focal range in a fast lens. I better start my weight lifting program now!
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Aside from objects like this Christmas ornament that I found in my home, I did photograph some flowers as well.
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This yellow rose was in my garden. The wind kept blowing the rose around, so I cut it off and put it in a vase.
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Here it is on my living room coffee table. There is actually a color cast on this photo but I loved the way it looked, so I did not color correct it. It has sort of a vintage feel, doesn’t it?
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The lens let me get so close, I could photograph the stamen inside the rose!
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I must have taken about 80 or so photos of this rose as I experimented with different angles, light and distance.
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The range of the area that is in focus is pretty narrow but I think that may be more the photographer than the lens at this point!
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Just look at the detail in the leaf – I was so excited to see that!
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Did I mention that this is a great portrait lens as well? Miss Gracie happily posed as my first subject.
One thing I want to mention: I opted for the Tamron lens over the Nikon 105mm 2.8 Micro for the following reasons:
  1. The Tamron is roughly half the price
  2. It has received great reviews from users
  3. I’m not a pro, just a hobbyist so I could not justify spending so much money on the top of the line
  4. I’ve loved my Tamron 28 – 75mm 2.8; it’s been a great lens
  5. And seeing the photos from the Flickr group of Tamron 90mm users sealed the deal – they were fabulous shots
Oh, one more thing about the yellow rose. Nipper tried to eat it during the night; in the morning it was laying on table looking very sad while Nipper was looking very guilty. It makes it hard to keep fresh flowers in the house when Nipper insists that they are cat food. Here she is with her guilty face:
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Now I’m off to “play” some more before my “staycation” is over!