Friday, December 31, 2010

Been Gone, Gone, Gone

Wow! Has it been since July when I last blogged?!?!?! No wonder I've gone through withdrawals that included severe cramping, profuse sweats, writer's block, and a crashed hard drive! This return feels like heaven...both soothing and head rushing ecstasy. There's so much I want to share--I don't know where to begin.

Where have I been? Between teaching summer college-level classes, the ferals, the indoor former ferals, the garden (reaches for a hankie), chile-roasting season, the local Farmers' Market, teaching a heavy fall semester, and opening an Etsy store, I've been here. I've been right here at my computer (until the hard drive said bye-bye). I have developed a hate-love-hate relationship with my computer that borders on being toxic. It was so bad that if the holidays had not come around when they did, I was going to need critical intervention. 

When my hard drive died two weeks before finals, my husband--the computer geek/guru--did his best to rescue all my files, especially those that contained student work and gradebooks. He was not able to rescue my picture files. *sighs* Among the picture files were my son's family portraits that we took this summer, pictures of the cats, and pictures of my garden (reaches for the hankie again). I also took pictures for recipes I wanted to share and my girlfriend's granddaughter whom she shares willingly with me. I also had pictures of my beadings, beads trades, and those cute Kodak moments. *sighs again* I learned I better burn my photographs to CD for now on or lose them all over again when this current hard drive dies. Because with my luck, it's sure to die again. And it will die either in the middle of a project or near the end of the semester. 

Just for the record, I HATE Windows 7 and Office 2010. 

Next semester's teaching schedule should a bit lighter...I'm only teaching stats classes for both universities! While I miss my Social Welfare class, it's going to be fun to teach only stats. I won't have to divide my brain between the different types of classes. While I have to revamp some of my assignments and PowerPoint presentations, these are to either clarify where students had trouble last semester or to reduce cheating. Ok--I said teaching statistics is fun.  That makes me officially a NERD, according to my son.  

I'm also excited because I'm on School of Education's Assessment Team for reaccreditation, both locally and federally. While this is voluntary on my part, it's also building career skills while using my current skills. I like being a part of change and being part of the development of positive change within a system. The school is moving to a new direction that will produce better teachers and educators for our state. With our nation's current education crisis, this new and vibrant direction is vital and crucial. 

This new year should bring exciting possibilities. I'm looking forward to developing my garden. Last year's garden taught me I can't be so in love with it, that I don't work it to it's full potential. We ate well off the garden but I did not have enough produce (because we were eating it!) to keep us through the winter. So my goal this year is to plant more and often, and to learn how to can. Freezing is great but there's only so much freezer space and most of that is devoted to green chile. So I'm going to learn how to can various produce. 

Anyways--I wanted you to know that I have not forgotten any of you. I have read your blogs, but I didn't comment because of time constraints.  You have not been far from my thoughts.  I learned some valuable lessons in the past six months--that when I take on too much, I start having to let go of the things I love the most. With this new year (and new possibilities as well as opportunities) I'm organizing my time and managing my life better.  I may not be on here as often once the semester starts, but I'll be here more than I have been in the past six weeks. 

I wish you all the best blessing that the New Year has to offer: Hope, Peace, and Love. 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lack Of Appreciation

I've been watching the construction work going on in front of my house this past week. We are getting new sidewalks that have ADA ramps and new paving for our streets. Despite the noise and the stench which made working difficult, I'm feeling rather patriotic and proud about this bit of construction going on. Our little town has needed this bit of improvement for several decades. 
  New ADA compliant ramps being constructed...
gives freedom to those who need this little bit of assistance.
 Framing the walk and making sure it will be level.
 Pouring early in the morning!
 Try walking through that all day long...
 Making it nice and smooth...
 Hand finishing...
 Here they come--ready to pave!
 See the flames? That's HOT!
 Do you see the clouds of fumes, stench, and heat? 
 Just some the crew following behind the heat and the stink...
But have a sense of humor and are good natured!
 I can't think of a more unsatisfactory position 
to have that's lonely and boring than being a flag person and controlling the traffic. 
Lady--you have my deepest respect because someone needs to be on point. 

I watched the men pour our sidewalk and talked to the guys.  After watching them for several days, I realized that their jobs are not easy--hot, sweaty, back-breaking hard labor that most of us would not want to do. Every one of them are grateful to have employment. Every single last one of them are proud of their profession and endeavor to make sure the quality and standard of their product is high.

So that's why I got irked--to put it mildly--when I saw two young women about to deface our sidewalk.  The sidewalk was freshly poured and we were waiting for it to cure so we could walk on it. When I looked out the window and saw one of these two girls squattting down with the stick in her hand, poised above that fresh cement, I exploded out the front door. She jumped back like she was caught with her hand on the hot stove. I dashed back in to grab the camera and took pictures.
 The two girls ready to deface the sidewalk...and ruin that hard work.
 What she started to do...
Before they decided to jump back into their truck and drive off, I told them I was rather proud of that sidewalk...that the new sidewalk represented freedom for me and that I would defend and protect that representation of freedom from anyone who tried to destroy it. One of those girls looked at me and sneered, "What---Ever!" So I told her that the new sidewalk meant my elderly neighbor can now walk the streets safely without worry of tripping. That's "What---Ever!" 

Am I getting old? Or am I out of touch? I can't remember being faced with such obvious need to destroy something that benefits everyone....and I think I'll leave the politics alone today.

Letting Freedom Ring in America Once Again... 

PS: I'll be out of touch for a few days while I finish my summer session classes. Be good to yourselves! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Twisted Thinking...

Yesterday morning I woke to see construction equipment on my neighborhood block. I did my usual bitchin' about the noise, the stink, and the interruptions to MY planned day. Obviously, to those who know me, I hadn't had my first cup of coffee. Before an hour was out, the jackhammering got to me. I went to find solace in my garden in the back yard but I could feel the vibrations all the way out there. I realized I had to go back inside and comfort the crazed felines because this type of noise was probably making them a little bit dramatic.  Instead some of them were vying for window space so they could watch. 

Max: So that big machine is making the house shake?
Buddy: Yeah! Ain't it cool? We're safe inside--trust me!
Cuddles: Like Mom would let anything happen to US...We kittens are SPECIAL.
Gabby:  Like you're a kitten any more. Dad wouldn't let anything happen to you--but Mom is another story. 
Harley: Oh cool! Look at that thingamajiggy thing! 
Lacey: I wonder why humans feel the need to break things up? Ooooooooo another machine!
Ava: I wanna see--move over!
*groans and snarls as Ava forces her way to the front and center* 

Like I said--no drama--just feline curiosity.  

Then just before noon came the beep-beep-beep-beeeeeeep of the backup warning signals from the front-end loaders. I shut the windows and turned on the air conditioner but those things are loud. I mumbled through another cup of coffee, answered a few more phone calls. Then I realized I was looking at this situation from the wrong point of view. To figure things out, I took my camera and went outside to take some shots. 
 The jackhammer machine making the house shake, with its thunk-a-thunk-athunktatittat noise.
 Picking up old sidewalk pieces...
Busting up the sidewalk in front of my house...I apologize for the poor quality of the shot--I had to take this from inside the house while I was on the phone to a student.
 I needed to focus on the positive aspect of this neighborhood intrusion. What I was witnessing was a piece of reenacted history.  Do you know what part of history I'm referring to? 

You see those men down the street? I don't know any of them. Nonetheless this so-called intrusion into my life meant that each one of those men are working. That means they are making money. That means none of them will lose their homes or their families this week. And in today's economic crisis, that's a very positive aspect. At least this week, some small part of America is working and that helps our community and our country in many different ways.

And you see that trench? That means we are getting a new sidewalk that's been needed for decades. That will make my morning walks with my elderly-young neighbor safer for both of us.  I won't worry about us tripping over broken, chunked-up sidewalks any more and she'll feel surer about walking to get her needs met. To top it off, they are putting in wheelchair ramps at every intersection--so the people who need to use wheelchairs or walkers can also have more freedom. Those ramps will help those who have joint or back problems because they will no longer have to try to maneuver over foot high curbs.  

They're working on the street in front of my house as well. I believe repaving will begin next week. That means we are finally getting those potholes fix and the road will be brand new.  I realized that means less wear and tear on our vehicles--especially right now when most of us simply can't afford it. 

It's about to get political folks--skip on down if you wish.

This noise of this reconstruction of our neighborhood is the true sound of Freedom. It's not fighter jets and sonic booms and explosions and gunfire that rings Freedom's bell. It's this construction noise.  The attitude of caring for our own people so they can simply walk about their neighborhood is the idea of Freedom that makes our country great. It's not how much we can hand out in dollars of aid across the oceans and's what we do here that keeps people working. It's building that sense of community so its members can enjoy their personal freedoms as well as their economic freedoms. This is what makes the United States of America great. This is why I'm proud to be an American citizen and truthfully, it's been a long time since I've felt this sense of patriotism. 

America, the beautiful. Let Freedom Ring.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Greeny GiveAway!

This is about beads. Sorry folks but yeah...I'm in bead mode.  

Jen over at Jen Judd Rocks! is celebrating her success of being published!  I can't imagine being published once and here is Jen--getting her happy self published SEVEN times! Yeah you read that right! Woooooooohoooooo! I know a celebrity! Woooooohoooooooo! Congratulations Jen!

Anyway, she's giving away TWO beady stash giveaways! How about that? Check out her blog for details and go over there and toss your name in the hat to receive some bodacious greeny beads! Can I say bodacious? 
I like to spread the good news and the love--especially bead love. It's just a thing I have for beads--you know? Some people call it addiction, others say it's an obsession. I think it's a bit of both! 

Check out Jen's blog--she's wild and crazy and totally into beads. I like that about her! 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

When Creativity Sparks...

While everyone else was celebrating our independence day, I was in creative mode. While everyone else was grilling, putting together bowls of potato and macaroni salads, and getting ready for the fireworks shows from shore to shore, I was frantically putting together beads. It was frantic because I was fighting the sun setting and losing daylight. I needed to bead.

Now for those of you who aren't bead junkies, this doesn't seem like a bad thing. But for those of you who are bead junkies--and I'm proudly in those ranks--the need to bead becomes an obsession. The more you aren't able to bead, the more it fixates in your brain. The more you look at beads, the more clever ideas you could put together--if you only had: 
1) time 
2) didn't have these papers that needed to be graded last week  
3) and a gazillion household chores weren't insidiously chanting your name and begging to be done and 
4) you didn't have other depending on you for their my case...the cats and students. 

So while you all were out celebrating our nation's birth of independence, I was beading. 

A sample of what I put together...
 Yep--that's 11 pairs of earrings. But I wasn't done yet...
 There's three more pairs of earrings. But don't hang up the phone just yet...
 The two on the left are added to the count. I added the two pairs on the right to balance out the shot, but I beaded them back in late May or early June. So look but don't count them in the total--which we are up to 16 pairs of earrings.
 Seventeen, eighteen....
 Nineteen pairs of earrings! 

And it didn't stop there...I had to finish this necklace for my sister-in-law, who is remarkably talented herself.  
Later that night, while I watched a movie to help keep the cats calmed during the fireworks display booming across our town, I discovered I was still in creative mode so I finished this for my newest grand-niece--her baby poncho. Last night I finished the cap. I fondly remember Paddington Bear and loved his hat...I tried to style her little cap in that fashion.
 I'm good for now.  I think. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted..

Blooming cholla...


Garden angel... 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Flaw of Mine

I don't know if I've shared this bit about myself with you or not...but here it goes. I'm not a patient person. Patience and I have had this running battle for many years--all my life, in fact. I believe we were forced to live together as an evil experiment that is still being run. We don't get along very well at all. Sometimes I'll win a skirmish but mostly Patience wins. Think about it--how can constantly beat Patience at the patient game?!?!?! Every time I try to push forward or for progress or for anything--here comes Patience telling me "Just wait..." 

Here's an example of our dialogs:

Me: I need to go back to school. Now that I've made that decision, decided on my major course of study, I've decided I want to go for the Master's degree. In fact...let's skip all the crap courses and just head straight into the Master's program.

Patience: Be patient. You have to take those crap courses first...your Master's degree will come in time.

Me: I don't wanna wait! I'm 38 years old--I'll be--gee--I'll be like 40-something by that time...

Patience: That's why you need those crap courses--your inability to do some simple arithmetic proves you need the basic foundations first.

Me: I don't wanna wait--I'm a good student and I don't wanna be 45 years old before I get my Master's degree. So see? I can too do simple math if I have to!

Patience: Have patience. Start from the beginning and build your skills. Something tells me if you're really determined, you will get your Master's in record time...Have patience.

See what I mean? Ok--Patience was right--I was 43 when I graduated with my Master's degree. And Patience was right that I needed those crap courses to build the foundation of skills I needed. But still...

Anyway--now you know. I'm not a patient person. Remember the garden I wanted?  Dreamed about? Dreamed BIG about? I've been learning patience the hard way.  I planted the seeds and waited. The first signs of green were mostly weeds. I planted even more seeds, watered, weeded, and dangedit--WAITED. Impatience set in and I grabbed plants at the local box stores and planted them. And watched them get eaten by bugs and burned by  the drought because watering was restricted to once a week. 

I've been finally rewarded.  
 Zucchini plants mostly from seed. Yes--those are weeds I've got to pull. Again. 
Look what I spotted...a flowering zucchini. Woooooooooohoooooooo! There's still hope that these plants will produce actual fruits. Ok--vegetables. whatever...

 The pepper plants have buds on them! I'm so excited since they've been so difficult to keep alive. Yes--these are from plants I bought since the seeds never came up. I'm doing it differently next year. But still this is sooooooooooo exciting! I've visions of roasting peppers dancing in my head! 

My wax beans and my green beans are growing. I'm still waiting for the tomato plants to do something--anything!  The basils may have to be transplanted in the front yard where they have some shade. But I think I'm going to plant some pumpkin seeds and see how they do. Especially now that we've had lots of rain! 

Patience: I told you to just wait...Patience is rewarding! All you have to do is....

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah--we've been through this already! And please don't say it!

Patience: ...have Patience.  

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random Thoughts

Improvement wears many dresses...  

My wonderful 80-year young neighbor Mrs. C has been taking me walking again this week. This started Saturday when I cut class early so I could go to the Farmer's Market. She wanted to see if they had any "goodies. (I found some luscious spinach, mixed greens, purslane, and some budding plants at the Market.) Mrs. C and I haven't been walking in a long time for various reasons: my classes, she was hurting, weather was too cold, weather was too hot and so on...

Last Saturday, she complained how badly she hurt from that simple trip to the market and back again. After some discussion, she said she would think about going walking with me first thing in the mornings again. I really didn't expect her to call me bright and early Monday morning with her usual "Ready Freddie?" We went walking. 

We did again this morning. About half way around the library park, she had to sit down.  She encouraged me to finish my lap but hastened to tell me to hurry up about it or she would just go home! *laughs* So I went walking around the park, quicker than I usually do.  Needless to say, my legs were cramping fiercely by the time I was halfway finished, but because I was afraid she would get up and leave, I walked through the cramps. I'll probably pay for that later but I amazed myself that I could find that level within myself and walk through the cramping instead of stopping and whimpering like a baby. 

I reminded myself  when I began this journey two years ago, I couldn't walk around the park at a snail's pace without coming home exhausted. I had to stop at every corner of the park because the cramping was so bad that I wanted to fall down and move past merely whimpering into an ambulance for a ride home.  I hurt that bad. 

At the time, my various doctors explained that I had blood clots in my legs and arms and that caused the vicious cramp-burn-muscle knotting pain I experienced. At the time, only one doctor gave me any advice that I would follow that was not related to surgery. He told me to simply walk every day. 

 So now I feel a sense of pride about one of my goals because it's reachable. I feel like one of those pioneer women who gave birth one minute and  defended her home from marauding outlaws while saving her homestead from burning to the ground. 

Ok...may be NOT that good.  But I definitely understand that I have improved because of my lifestyle changes. I also understand that this journey of mine will never be an easy one because I crave carbs dressed as cookies and breads and rice and cookies and pasta and potatoes and cookies and cous cous and cookies and...Well you get the picture. 

Speaking of that, how come giving up smoking was so much easier than giving up carbs?  

The BC Life...
Otherwise Known as The Confessions of a Coffee Addict

Since I've moved to the percolator for our coffee pot, I have about a half hour every morning before it's finished. My old life used to be "Don't talk to me, don't ask me to feed you, don't ask me to do anything complicated like think about the day or ask me if I know where something is and don't wake up cheerful of all the gawd-awful things to do BEFORE COFFEE!"   

Some mornings I would give only one warning: "It's a two-cup day."  That meant don't do anything or ask me anything or even talk to me until I've gotten at least two cups of coffee down me first. And you would be safer if you let a half a pot get into my system before even breathing or looking in my direction. 

A dear friend who used to be a classmate called me this weekend and asked me, "Have you had your coffee yet?!?!?!"  Since she called me at 8:30 in the morning, her question was legitimate. And then she reminded me that I used be really, really bad BC. She remembered the days when I was trying to reduce my consumption of coffee down to something that was "reasonable" and how fellow classmates brought me cups of coffee before class so I would be "reasonable." 

Yeah, yeah, yeah...and that was a long time ago. I've changed. No seriously--I've really changed.

To give you some examples: This morning I went walking with Mrs. C BC.   Before our current drought initiated the severe water restrictions, I would water and sometimes weed the garden BC. I feed the cats and the birds BC. I start laundry or do a quicky load of dishes BC.  I read my favorite blogs BC. I answer emails and phone calls from students BC!

How's that for seriously changing from the coffee hag into who I am today? *grins at you*

Alright--I confess. I warn my morning statistics students with "I've only had a cup and half of coffee today--so I hope you had your protein because we're going to hit this hard and heavy so I can get that last cup in before it's too late for me to have any!"  

Nonetheless, there's still life before coffee!

Humongous Bead Give Away Reminder!
If you haven't signed up--please do so! The bead drawing is coming closer and closer to its finale! Go to Denise Yezbak Moore's blog and check out her huge, ginormous, bestest ever give away! The Bead Addict is screaming at me--actually pulling at my hair because I'm reminding all you beady readers there's still time to enter. She wants all these beads to for us to keep--but I believe in "What comes around, goes around." Since you've been generous with me--I'm spreading the news! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bead Soup Unveiling!

I've been waiting for this day for a long, long time! My partner, Dana James at Dana's Jewelry Design sent me some seriously and completely luscious beads for my ingredients. I was in awe. Pearls are some of my favorites gems but I felt totally out of my league with these beauties. Check out the abalone--that soft, shimmery, silvery gray just whispered to my soul. I totally loved the rose quartz rectangular beads and the kyanite ovals. Check out the Swarovski crystals in two different sizes! The heart-shaped clasp caught me by the throat because it's beautiful and funky. The Bead Addict in me came out in full force and giggled--a little maniacally--with glee over such a treasure. How could she resist?

After I got HER calmed down enough to start thinking about what I was going to do with my wonderful ingredients. I admit that panic settled in because these ingredients cried out for something more elegant than plain ole' soup. I also felt trapped because I normally don't do hearts. Understand I give heart-embellished jewelry to others who do hearts, but I rarely if ever do hearts for myself. The Bead Addict had already declared that what ever was made from this mix of treasures from Dana would be ours--I mean mine. 

Since I teach classes at two different universities, I checked my calendar. The Bead Party would fall what would be my midterms week! I had to use my time wisely and get this delicate creation done NOW.  About that time, the horror of the BP Oil Catastrophe hit the news and I realized that the damage done could spread world-wide. It hit me that these precious gifts from the sea might become exceedingly rare and I understood that Dana blessed me with something even more than mere beads--but a gift that could turn into an heirloom treasure.  Thank you Dana. I hope I did justice to your wonderful and beautiful gift!

Click on the pictures for better viewing and detail! 
So I put on my music CD that was a symphony to whale song and created. The first piece that I did was the necklace... I was enchanted with the rose quartz Dana had included, but wanted to reserve them for something else. So I pawed through my stash and ran across a diamond-shaped rose quartz strand. That maniacal giggling you hear in the background is Bead Addict. Another addition were the biwa stick pearls my husband had bought for me a couple of years ago. They were elegant and totally out of my area of stringing "expertise" but they worked well with what I was doing...framing that gorgeous abalone focal.  I also added  a couple of different colors in the Swarovski crystals to emphasize the gorgeous pink ones Dana included. 

I completed this choker-style necklace with silver-plated chain and one of my own clasps. I did find one last tiny heart toggle, left over from a project I did for my aunt. To me, that was fate, because it was still within the theme of what Dana sent me. 

Then I because I'm on a huge bracelet kick lately, I made one with some of the left over ingredients. This was totally out of the box for me because I experimented with danglies. Since we decided...I mean I decided to keep this, I wanted to try something I haven't really worked on before. 

I used Dana's heart clasp because it was too pretty to hide in the back of a necklace. Secondly, it just seemed so natural to use that toggle in a piece of jewelry as part of the ensemble's focal. I used silver pearl head pins to combine the pearls and the stones to form danglies. The bracelet has a good weight to it--not to heavy but not so light you forget you're wearing it. It doesn't jingle-jangle--something that would get on my nerves since I use my hands a lot in teaching. 

Well, what's a bracelet and a necklace without matching earrings?!?! This was rather fun because I stretched myself again here. I wanted a pair of earrings that would compliment the necklace alone, without the bracelet. But I also wanted a pair of earrings that would compliment the bracelet if I chose to wear that without the necklace. Then to top it all off, I wanted a pair of earrings that I could wear with both the necklace AND the bracelet as a matching set. So this is what I came up with as a solution
Starting from left to right, the gray pearl buttons with the pink Swarovski crystals would be perfect for wearing alone or with the bracelet. They would also compliment the necklace. The kyanite and cyclamen Swarovski crystals would compliment either the necklace or the bracelet...or could be worn alone. The gray ablalone and white button pearls with the the crystals would fit the necklace well.  

So what got me out of my normal box? Using pearls and making danglies. Thank you Dana for giving a shot in the you-know-where to boost me from my conventional form of beading! 

I hope you visit others who are unveiling their Party Pieces as well. 

Carol, Carol Bradley Designs 
Wanda, A Frayed of Fibers
Diana, Vintage Blue Studio 
Marieke, Marieke's Blog
KJ, Silver Parrot
Maire, Maire Dodd 
Shannon, Miss Fickle Media
Dana (and MY Partner!), Dana's Jewelry Design
Charlene, The Bead Dreamer 
Elisabeth, Beads for Busy Gals 
Missy, Melissa Rappaport 

I also want to thank Lori Anderson, our coordinator, for all the encouragement she gives us!The fact that she keeps nearly 100 women together for this event is simply amazing and I wanna be like her when I grow up! :D 

Enjoy the soup... 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bead Soup--Day Three

The Bead Soup Party is still rockin' today with talented artists! To help you find your way, here's a list of today's Bead Party group. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, go browse around and look at the incredible, talented, wearable art! 

Before you go on the tour--this is for my bead friends and readers. 
 Have you ever wished you could just win a huge stash of beads? Now's your chance to try for one humongous bead destash/giveaway!  Denise Yezbak Moore is having such a giveaway. She hasn't decided to send it all to one person or to split it six ways yet but I think she's counting the votes! You can click on the link above (her name) and check out this wonderfully, gorgeous, luscious, delightful set of beads she's giving away--all SEVEN AND A HALF POUNDS of it! 

Back to the Bead Party! 

Here's today's group!
27. Lisa, Alterity 
28. Dale, Dales' Flights of Fancy 
29. Melanie, Kookie Designs 
30. Christine, A Hot Piece of Glass
31. Nancy, Beading From the Heart 
32. Laurel, Rue's Daftique 
33. Sandi, Do Be Do Bead Do 
34. Nicki, Nicki's Reef
35. Virginie, ViviBijoux
36. Janeen, Wild Vanilla 

(Psst! Lisa and Virginie are also having giveaways! Here's your chance at winning some fabulous handcrafted jewelry by extremely talented women!) 

Have a wonderful day!

PS: Dana, my bead soup partner is having a NON-BEAD giveaway at her blog! Go check this out! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Friendly Visitor

The other day, I looked out my window while I was on the phone with a student and saw a wonderful sight. As soon as I could, I rushed outside with my camera. We had a visitor and I wanted pictures!
 That's my Fire Witch that I planted earlier. The butterfly couldn't leave it alone.  
 This little one intrigued me since I haven't seen that many butterflies in a long time. Beauty on the wing...
  Apparently, it really liked the Fire Witch--which smells spicy sweet. No pun intended.

The first day of the Bead Soup Party was yesterday. Lori Anderson, our coordinator has broken the party up into easy sections so this party is going to last all week long! How exciting is that?!?!? My partner, Dana and I don't get to do our unveiling until Thursday and I can hardly wait! So if you have nothing to do for the moment, head over to Lori's place and check out some amazing talent in today's world of beaders, jewelry designers, and artistic craftswomen!

Finally, Natalie of Tins and Treasures is having a stupendous giveaway to celebrate her blog's upcoming two year anniversary! And no--it's not beads so those of you who don't follow the craft can take a peek at her blog and see some of the wonderful items that are up for grabs on this giveaway! Just leave a comment on her blog by Tuesday, June 22nd and you're entered in the drawing! It's as simple as that! 

Hope your Sunday is easy and peaceful!

It's What's For Dinner!

Since my crazy summer schedule leaves very little time for daily meal planning, I've had to get crackin' and come up with a new way to have our meals prepared in advance. We live in New Mexico where it's hot and dry. Really hot and dry. Luckily, we live in northern New Mexico and in the mountains where it's not as bad as where I used to live in southern New Mexico. Still, no one--especially a dozen cats--wants me using the oven to cook because the heat lingers for days. They're having a hard enough time keeping cool. 

So my method of choice is the outdoor grill. On the weekends. When it's not windy. Or rainy. 

Grilling outside is preferred because I can cook a whole bunch of food at one whack. For example, today I grilled...well look at the pictures and see!
 I try to plan this well but sometimes I get ahead or behind myself. Today it was a bit of both. I wanted to grill D's potato and his corn, along with my eggplant and zucchini first since they usually take longer. And normally I don't crowd the grill this badly. Missing from this picture are D's button mushrooms. I don't use a marinade or rub or sauce because I count on the mesquite wood smoke to flavor everything. Mesquite is just my personal preference, but hickory or other aromatic smoking woods could be used. I also cover the grill to let the smoke do its magic, but I can't take a picture of the magic. 

What I have on the grill today are zucchini, eggplant, red bell peppers, an ear of corn, yellow squash, one baking potato, purple and yellow onions.  When the veggies are all done, I add meat. Kathy--you may wanna scroll past this bit. 
 I added fruit tonight to the grill because it adds a nice dessert.   Stone fruits, like peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums grill up deliciously. I found that pineapple works well as one of those fruits I can grill. The trick is not to over-cook your fruits. A tip I learned (the hard way!) was to use ripe but not soft fruits.
Tomorrow, I'm going to cook green beans and asparagus on the grill.  I'll use foil or my cast iron skillets for that and see how they turn out. I'm also thinking of trying to grill carrots and see how that works. Alright--you can call me a grillin' nut if you want. But if it works, you'll wanna try it!

My favorite marinade for meats is simply beer. I personally can't stand the taste of any beer in the liquid form, but it does tenderize and adds a delicious flavor to grilled meats.  I have chicken soaking in D's Moosehead beer, using a covered casserole dish. I've used his Negro Modello, Shiner Bock, and Corona beers for various meats. I prefer the darker beers for beef, pork, and chicken; and I like the lighter beers for chicken and fish. 

Because the grill usually stays hot long enough to cook several meals, I can get plenty made for the upcoming week. It's simple to store in ziplocks or covered containers. What doesn't get eaten within a couple of days is relegated to the freezer in case of rainy or windy days. It also makes it nice since D and I are on different schedules--he's coming home from the lab when I'm beginning a class. It means we both get a nice meal despite the conflicting working hours.   But I have to confess, the fruits are usually eaten for breakfast. 

So do you grill? What are you favorite ways to do it up?  


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just Little Bead Tease...

Most of you know I'm involved with the Bead Soup Party hosted by Lori Anderson. The Bead Soup Party kicks off this weekend and I can't wait to go traveling to visit all the wonderful, incredibly talented bead artists. My unveiling of my bead partner's stash isn't until next Thursday--June 24th. But I'm really excited about this party and wanted to give you a hint of what's to come. Dana sent me some exotic and exciting beads to play with and play I did!

So here's a sneak peak at some of those luscious beads that Dana sent me!

 I can't wait to show the rest! But I gotta...I have to wait until it's my turn. So mark your calendars for the unveiling and join me for the Party! The Bead Party that is...worn by movie stars. (I wish!)

Wishing you a peaceful day!