Saturday, January 31, 2009

Odds and End's

This week has been a collection of odds and end's: icy weather, a dinner invitation in Austin, a friend's visit to my shop on Friday. Tuesday's weather was a continuation of Monday - foggy, windy, overcast, cold, but with an added element of misty rain. Hallelujah! The rain froze; it took twenty minutes Wednesday morning to knock ice off my Jeep before I could drive to the Beth Moore's study on Esther. No complaints here, though, because ice means a slow melt off the roof into the rainwater collection gutters.

The cold weather makes me want comfort food, so I started a beef stew last night in the crock pot. Here's my recipe:

1-1/2 lb. stew meat
1 large onion, chopped in large pieces
1-2 cups baby carrots. whole or sliced
2-3 cups potatoes, cubed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can English peas, drained
1 can fresh cut green beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
Water, enough to cover meat by at least an inch
2-3 dashes hot sauce
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut meat into bite-sized pieces, *season flour with salt and pepper then lightly cover the meat, brown in olive oil with onions. Transfer browned meat to crock pot with high setting, then cover meat with water. When meat is almost tender, add carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. I add the corn, peas, and green beans about 30 minutes before serving - no reason, just a preference.

If freezing part of the recipe, I remove the meat and broth before adding the vegetables. Serve with fresh cornbread.

Here are two tips for cornbread whether made from scratch or a mix: Put butter in the baking pan, melt in oven until just almost brown, then pour the mixture into the pan. It sears the bottom of the cornbread and seems to cook a little faster. Also, if you like sweet cornbread, add a couple of tablespoons of honey to the batter.

*It is not necessary to brown the meat; sometimes, I just throw the meat and the onions in the crock pot and turn it on. Browning the meat, though, gives the stew a little different flavor from when the meat is not browned. It's a matter of taste and time.

Until next time, God bless you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What To Do On A Foggy Day?

We are so desperate for moisture in this part of Texas that we are thrilled with any way we can have it! Today we did not get rain but fog hung around until after 3 PM today. There is something almost mystical about fog. You keep peering into the mist expecting something phenomenal to emerge from the mist like a band of ghostly Comanches on horseback or a lone cowboy riding herd over cattle.

I've mentioned in previous posts that Central Texas is in a serious drought. This is our rainy season but in the last three months we have had 1-2/10" of rain. I sweep top soil off my porch every day. The earth look scalped; things long buried appear on the surface. In fact, I'm planning to go down to our creek to see if any arrowheads have been uncovered or fossilized sea creatures.

I am particularly attuned to when it rains and how much since we are on a rainwater collection system for our house and we also have cattle. For backup, we have a well; the water for drinking leaves a lot to be desired. But, it has been said that we haven't been this dry since the 1950's drought.

Besides taking photos of the fog with my telescopic lens, I took advantage of this wonderful, misty day, though, to work on the eight pendant project. Eight friends gave me the dominate colors in their wardrobe to do geometric pendants. I've pulled out various colors of glass to try out color combinations before cutting the glass. There are four beginning stacks in the center of the photo. When satisfied with the colors and the order, I'll finish cutting, stacking,
and ready for the kiln.

Until next time, God bless you.

Manic Monday #152

What gives you hope?

My hope comes from my Higher Power, a/k/a Jesus. I know He is with me in trials and joys. I draw upon his strength, peace, and love in the darkest of hours as well as rejoice in thankfulness when in the sunlight. Through Him I am a better person; without Him, I revert to my self-centered life.

How often do you get your haircut? Describe your worst haircut.

Since my hair is short, I get a haircut about every four to six weeks. The worst haircut ever was the day my hairdresser was mad at me -- it ended up being about one inch long all over my head. A word to the wise: never, ever, ever get a haircut if your hairdresser is angry with you. :D

What's your most treasured piece of jewelry? Why?
My wedding ring is my most treasured piece of jewelry and it needs no explanation. However, the next two most favorite are a string of pearls and a necklace with mother-of-pearl chips and carved birds, both of which were my mother's. Whenever I see or wear one, the memory of my sweet mother comes to mind.

It's your turn now to give your answers. :D

Until next time, God bless you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Just Yet . . .

I was sure I would be on my way with working on the ring after church. Last night I decided to fire up the torch to do a couple of silver elements to be soldered on the ring. I turned on the propane tank and what did I feel and smell? A swishing of gas blew across my hand then the smell of propane filled the air! I disconnected the propane, put it in the car to do a refill swap which as I found out is not available at Tractor Supply. Our little town now boasts of a Home Depot but it was back to where I came from and decided to forget until later. I did call Home Depot and they do carry propane refills. Since I discipline myself to combine errands when leaving the house, I cannot go tomorrow, Monday, but have three specific errands on Tuesday. So Tuesday is the day to begin work on the ring, I hope.

In the interim, here's a recipe for Stir Fry Chicken, or any meat in the leftover category, or fresh category for that matter. Nothing is measured; if it it looks like the right quantity, that's it. If it isn't, I try to readjust the next time it's on the menu.

Chicken Stir Fry
Two-three cloves garlic, minced
Sliced onions, we prefer purple
Sliced carrots
Sliced green peppers
Chicken (it can be leftovers or raw -- sirloin or flank steak, pork loin)
Broccoli florets
Sliced zucchini
Sliced mushrooms
Chopped fresh tomato(s)

Sea salt and pepper to taste
Mrs. Dash
Garlic powder if garlic cloves are not on hand
Soy sauce, low sodium if possible


Saute garlic and onions in olive oil, add meat, then each of the above ingredients as listed to allow enough cooking time for each vegetable. It doesn't take much time for mushrooms or the tomatoes so they are always added last. Also, I start seasoning after the meat is added.

Serve over cooked rice, white or brown.

Until next time, God bless you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Ring

I have not fabricated jewelry for several years, so when a friend mentioned that she wanted a ring to go with a fused glass pendant and a pair of earrings, I got excited at the prospect. She lives in another part of Texas; therefore, I decided to do an adjustable ring. When one's silversmith skills are rusty, you look for ways to do a piece where you do not have to be exact!

I envy those that can at an instant visualize a finished design; I am not one of those. I came up with the first step, picture to the left about three or four weeks ago. The past few weeks I've been mulling over how to finish the ends and mount the cabochon because normally the ends would be soldered together. I wish I could post a drawing, but alas, I'm not one of those people that can draw -- the idea exists in my mind which ultimately is transferred to the finished product, but no way can I draw it out. I think I made a D in Art when last in school.

There have been several roadblocks to even begin working on the ring from sawing into my finger when cutting the ring stock, blood dripped everywhere, to running out of oxygen within ten minutes of lighting the torch, to a split oxygen hose after connecting the oxygen refill tank. I am ready to work, I hope! Surely, nothing can stop me now, can it?

You know what is truly wonderful about retirement? Nothing has to be done on schedule because there is none. :D

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Background

Would appreciate any comments on the new background, compliments of The Cutest Blog on the Block. In visiting various blogs, I've noticed that people change the backgrounds much like decorating their home -- time to move the furniture, change the drapes, paint the walls, add or remove accessories. In blogspeak, though, it goes like this: Does this font color look right? Should I change the font? What color should I put for this? Hmmm, do I like this one or that one better? Is it too fussy? Yikes, this background is too bright for my taste, and so forth.

I tried at least ten or twelve different backgrounds only to go back to the first one. lol It's fun! I'm not overly crazy about the bows but decided to live with it awhile to see if I really, really like it. Let me know what you think!

Until next time, God bless.

Esther, It's Tough Being A Woman

My Wednesday Morning Ladies Bible Class had our first session of Beth Moore's latest study, Esther, It's Tough Being A Woman. Not once is God mentioned in Esther but His hand and fingerprints are all over the unfolding events as written. As usual, Beth's study is not at men's expense and promises to be dynamite. While I've done studies by other presenters and loved having done them, Beth is my favorite. Her passion for the Lord and The Word is catching and her wonderful sense of humor, energy, and honesty makes for an engaging, thought provoking, interesting, fun and absorbing study. The Lord's blessing her teaching ministry multiplies out to blessing all in attendance.

I begin the first page of homework today! :D By the way, here's link to The Siesta Fiesta Blog which will be posing discussion topics based on Esther, It's Tough Being A Woman.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Manic Monday

What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are sick?

My answer: It depends on the illness, if a cold, I take a Comtrex; if the flu, I take an aspirin and try to survive; if an upset stomach, I drink a Sprite or 7-up -- and I sleep after medicating myself.

What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?

My answer: Living in Central Texas, ice storms are rare, so rare that the 1996 ice storm was the worst the area had seen in fifty years. We are dependent on electricity to pump water from the well, so with the power lines down we did not have lights or water for about 3 -1/2 days. The telephone was out. I love the ice and snow but for no more than a few days.

Do you listen to music or talk radio in the car?

My answer: Yes, I listen to both.

Tell me your answers.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This and That

I heard a web address for Get Human on the Kim Komando's show this morning. The site has telephone numbers so you can actually talk to a human being instead of pushing a number, listening to instructions for the next number, then listening for another number, ad nausea, only to arrive at your final destination with no answer to the question that prompted the call in the first place. I looked around the site and it appears to be quite helpful. Check it out for yourself.

I finished reading The Shack, a most interesting book. My husband has a difficult time getting a reading prescription for his glasses..........too long of a story to go into. So, I'll be reading The Shack a second time but out loud to him. I don't know about you, but when reading to myself, I tend to skip ahead if a description is too long or I get a little bored with a conversation or bored with a point the author is making. I tried not to do that when reading this book but found myself skipping every so often. When reading aloud, every word must be spoken, slowing you down, which allows for a greater understanding of the depth the author is conveying to sink in. If you haven't read the book, pick up a copy; the author's concept is most unusual and offers much to consider.

I started the 8 pendant project along with working on an adjustable ring for a friend. There are several new challenges in both projects. . . a different type glass to achieve certain colors and then designing an adjustable ring that has some pizzazz. I haven't fabricated jewelry for several years and discovered I'm out of oxygen for the torch. Dripping Springs is large enough to have a Tractor Supply which carries oxygen refills. :D I'm fairly jazzed just thinking and working on these projects.

The photo on the left shows a small piece of a pendant, which is approximately 6 mm thick, in a workshop vice. It is too thick to break by hand along the score line but need a small piece to shape into a cabochon for the adjustable ring. The photo to the right shows how half-round ring stock is sized on a ring mandrel. Since the ring is to be adjustable, I do not need to be exact. More tomorrow as the work progresses.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

True Confessions

I've got to know what is the latest date you left your Christmas decorations up?

Lynn's answer: Today, January 17, 2009.

Do you have a legitimate excuse?

Lynn's answer: None

What do you plan to change in 2009 when it comes to housekeeping duties, if any needs to be changed?

Lynn's answer: I've come a long way in keeping the house neat and orderly since I've never been the best day-to-day housekeeper. :D If it doesn't appear messy, I'll overlook something until I finally decide to do something about it, which in this case is remove the Christmas garland over the fireplace mantel and replace with the usual accessories: Not a major undertaking but one that I've put off and put off. If it can be stacked neatly and out of the way, I'll do that instead of finding its proper place. So, in 2009 I plan to be more prompt in finding its place or trash it.

It's time to 'fess up if there is any 'fessing to be done. :D

However, before signing off, Luc sends this message:

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A friend in need is a friend indeed!

Today I went to the Women's Center at St. David's Hospital in Austin, TX for a diagnostic mammogram. I saw my doctor last Thursday, Jan. 8, for a quarterly checkup and he requested that I get a diagnostic mammogram within the next week or two. The annual date would be sometime in March but my two-year anniversary of the breast cancer diagnosis is the last week in this month. I had surgery on February 8, 2007. Generally I hardly give the diagnosis a thought, but for some unexplainable reason, I was edgy over this mammogram.

As silly as it may sound, but I'm sure you ladies can identify, the first thought passing through my head when the doctor said to get the mammogram within the next week or so is my hair is finally a style I like after 18 months of gritting my teeth every time I did my hair. First the hair grew in baby fine and frizzy, then straighten to very, very curly, then straighten to limp and heavy. I decided to keep it short but have a dominate cowlick in the back that doesn't do well with a short, layered cut. I got a body wave and was all curls again. I do not like curls for me, thank you very much! As this week progressed my mind started edging to the worse scenario - reoccurrence, chemo, no hair! But, praise God, the report was good and I'm clear!

The only time anyone has gone with me on one of these trips is when it was a foregone conclusion per the biopsy that it was breast cancer. A dear neighbor offered to take me for the ultrasound and I was grateful for her support. Earlier this week I was talking about this trip to the Women's Center when a friend who has been through a breast cancer diagnosis offered to go with me today. I cannot tell you how much her support meant.

Dear ones, if you have a friend going for a mammogram, for a recall, or for a diagnostic, offer to go with them. It becomes an event; you take their mind off possible bad news, and are there to share in the good news. Husbands are wonderful support; but frankly, ladies, nothing compares to a girlfriend going along to share in the news -- good or bad!

The reason for my writing about this very personal part of my life is to help someone who might be in a similar situation. Until next time, God bless.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Manic Monday

I ran across a fun site, The Daily Meme, which covers a variety of subjects along with random questions to which you are encouraged to answer. Today's Manic Monday's questions with my answers are:

If you were to name the most creative outlet that you have, what would it be? Currently, I would say glass fusing and silversmithing.

What spot in your body would you say is the center of your emotional being? The heart.

What do you think is the secret to a tranquil soul?
Prayer, living in the now, and participating in life.

Leave your comments here and then visit the site

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Houston and Hurricane Ike

Just returned from visit with my dearest friend from the 7th grade. She is a fabulous cook; the Chicken Marsala and the fresh mustard greens from her garden were out of this world. She sent me home with fresh spinach and lettuce from the garden. I'm inspired to get our raised garden beds ready for spring.

She lives in a heavily wooded area of Houston which was hit very hard by Hurricane Ike. Drove around her neighborhood; many houses were still condemned because the winds uprooted trees which then fell on the houses. Homes with minor repairs were occupied but several of those crushed by trees were either boarded up or just now in the beginning stages of repair. Hurricane Ike came ashore at Galveston on September 13, 2008.

The picture to left is an uprooted pine tree in the yard next to my friend's house. By some miracle my friend's house and trees were untouched except for a couple of missing shingles. I took pictures of the tree from several angles but, what can I say, none were good save this one. Need to keep working on those camera skills. :D

You just don't realize the devastation until you actually see it. When I saw the empty houses, it suddenly dawned on me to question where these people are living and what a financial disaster it must be for those whose homes were practically destroyed. One neighbor had five huge trees crash into his house! The neighbor, his wife, and three children kept moving from room to room to escape the trees as they crashed on the house during the night as the storm moved over the area. By the grace of God no one was hurt. It made me count my blessings.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Come in Houston

Tomorrow I'm on my way to visit my best friend since the seventh grade. She even invited our Lab. Now THAT is a good friend, indeed. Her husband loves Labs and is looking forward to meeting Luc.

In preparation for the visit, Luc went to Dog Camp for grooming. It has been too cold to bathe him outside. The last time I tried bathing him in the bathtub I was almost killed -- shades of Marley. Luc weighs about 85 pounds, impossible to keep him in the tub, so tried getting into the tub with Luc to hold him in. Tubs get very slippery with suds flying off a dog bent on escape. This was not one of my smarter ideas.

There were a zillion errands to run in Austin today, one of which was to Helios Kiln Glass Studio to pick up some glass for an eight fused-glass pendant project. This time I made a list to stay focused on the purpose for the trip which anyone with a hobby knows what happens after walking into your particular hobby "candy" shop. On the way to the next errand, I realized I forgot to get a plum glass but Art Glass Fusing Center was nearby. As luck would have it, Bullseye Glass has a new striker out for 2009 - plum - which AGFC had in stock.

Upon return from Houston, the plan is to assemble the pendants and will post pictures to show you a simple glass fusing process. Several projects are in the works....I like to have two, three, four projects going at the same time because when I need to mull over what or how to do something on one, there is another project on which to work. It then comes to me what to do on the one put aside while working on something else. There is a method to my madness. :D

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rainwater Harvesting

We have the hardest area to get rain it seems. If rain comes from the east, it stops at Austin. If it comes from the south, a strong west wind comes along and pushes it towards Austin or east to the Houston area. If it comes from the west, a north wind comes along to push it around us. lol But, last night six-tenths of an inch got through to our rain gauge! Praise God!

We have a rainwater collection system. As a city girl from Houston, I was completely surprised to find that rainwater was sweet. For every inch of rain, you harvest approximately 550 gallons from a thousand square foot surface. Water comes off the roof into oversize gutters, drain spouts are connected to underground pipes which empties into the Booley eliminator (pic to right), the first step in a filtering system. The eliminator holds 200 gallons which when it fills flows into the fiberglass storage tanks. The State of Texas publishes a Rainwater Harvesting Manual which arms you with all the necessary information to get started, as well as the nitty-gritty usage/collection formulas.

Richard Heinichen of Tank Town in Dripping Springs has a lot of information too. Tank Town installed our system in 1998 and is to this day very customer friendly. Besides, how can you not buy from a guy that appoints himself mayor of his very own Tank Town, population of one? As an aside, I was quoted in the New York Times in an article done on Mayor Richard. I just happened to stop by for something when the NYT journalist was interviewing him. :D

We have a well that can be used in emergencies, but I've never gotten use to the taste. Clothes come out of the washer stiff as a board, colors fade quickly, and no way can dried lentils be cooked in this water: lentils stay hard, never get soft. When on the well, I buy water to drink, to make coffee or tea, and if some type of lentil is on the menu, I make sure I have plenty of bottled water on hand.

I just had to do some washing that was put off due to the extended drought. I decided that if I run out of rainwater, well at least I'd have some nice, sweet smelling, and soft clothes, towels, etc. These past few months I only washed what was absolutely necessary. Yesterday I was considering washing some things by hand today since less water would be used than in the washer! But, as fate would have it, rain came during the night!

Hopefully, the drought in this area is broken. Life is good and we have a good supply of rainwater for at least a month!

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Shop dogs. . . sometimes

Got up this morning to find that about 20 drops of rain had fallen from our very cold, gray skies, temperature still 34 degrees at 10:30 am. The ground is just wet enough for little balls of dirt to cling to doggy paws.

To the left is Luc, our white Lab, whose most favorite thing to do next to eating is retrieving a ball. He takes great pride in sailing through the air to catch it; and when he misses, you can tell he is irked. Maggie, on the right, is our adopted, pound dog and is totally serious. She gets irked with Luc for chasing the ball and tries to herd him by nipping at his hindquarters, neck, or ears. He completely ignores her and she had better not get between him and the ball because he runs right over her.

Maggie is a little lady when I take them into my shop. She lays down, doesn't bother a thing, and patiently watches me as I work. Whereas, Luc, the brat, circles around the shop, looking for something to chew or to pick up to get my attention. It takes about 30 minutes or so for him to settle down. He loves to destroy paper. I'll think all is quiet then turn around to see paper hanging out of his mouth, or a cap, or a glove. . . something! Needless to say, I do not invite Luc too often to join me in the shop....but I keep hoping that with age, he'll be good enough to be allowed in more often.

Need to get out to the shop to work on some things as well as hop on the elliptical for about an hour; so until next time, God bless.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Work in Progress

This pendant in the picture to the left was a tad too large and since the bail did not turn out the way I envisioned I decided to re-do it. About the same time, a friend wanted a pendant from this piece along with some earrings and possibly a ring. The second picture on the right shows the pieces after cutting the original pendant.

Cutting a 6mm+ piece of glass is not easy. In order to get the smaller pieces, I finally wrapped the glass in a shop towel and put it in a workbench vice. I thought I'd never get it to break where it was scored. The piece in the upper right corner should be enough to fashion a cabochon for a ring. After grinding to shape the various pieces, I'll put them in the kiln, ramp up the temperature to about 1325 degrees to fire polish and smooth edges so the grinding will not show.

It has been several years since I've fabricated a ring but found some half-round, sterling silver ring wire in my stash of various materials. I will make an adjustable-size ring and solder on a silver pad mounting to which the glass cabochon can be attached. I am excited about the project because I very much enjoy fabricating jewelry. I'll post pictures of the completed projects, i.e., the finished pendant, the earrings, and the ring.

Here is ring I did when taking lost wax casting classes at Austin Community College. I love the ring but thought I'd never get the four tubes soldered inside the recessed area. I may enroll in another lost wax class in the Fall, 2009 session. The campus is about 40 to 45 miles from my house, so if gasoline is in the $3.50-4.00 per gallon range, I doubt I'll enroll. :D

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, January 2, 2009

On the hunt. . .

I have been on the hunt for accessories for my Nikon Coolpix 4300 camera for the past two days. The hunt started on December 23 after buying a compact flash card at Best Buy which did not work. I found Memory Suppliers on the net, called them and they told me which one would work with the 4300 since the compact flash cards that came with the camera are next to impossible to locate. Memory Suppliers were very helpful and the card was received before the week was out.

It then occurred to me that possibly I'd better get some other items if any were available since the camera is around five years old, or technologically a hundred years old. This has been an experience for this very non-camera person! It was either upgrade the existing camera or get a new one. The Nikon manual is no help in listing accessory lens and other paraphernalia required to make the things fit. I ordered some filters that are way too big which made me realize that just because something says it will fit your camera there may be something else needed. I had to be extra careful in determining if the items offered were new or used. Bottom line and after many hours of research, telephone calls to dealers and finally Nikon, I ordered from Amazon a telescopic lens as well as a wide angle lens with the required step down adapters, I hope. Time will tell when delivered!

This renewed interest in the camera all started with photographing the fused glass jewelry pieces as well as some fused glass bowls, night lights, trays, and etc., for my retail outlet, Plum Wild Glassworks+. Tomorrow I plan to re-work a dichro pendant that was finished with a bail I do not like (photo to right). The piece is quite large - the picture doesn't do it justice - and a friend wants a pendant, some earrings, and possibly a ring, all of which I'm sure can be done. I'll post pictures on the work-in-progress.

Until the next time, God bless.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good bye 2008, 2009 Is Here!

This may sound silly but where does the time go? Another year has come and gone in almost the blink of an eye. I stayed up to bring 2009 in; hubby fell down on the job by going off to bed at 11:30 last night! When you've just celebrated your 75th birthday as hubby just did on December 21, new year's are kind of old hat.

We woke up about 8:00 this morning, looked out the window to see two of our neighbor's cows taking a "walk about" on our property. After a few cups of coffee, we got together with the neighbors to return their cows. We were lucky, we put a few cubes in a couple of buckets, rattled them around, and the little heifers came running and followed us through two gates into the correct pasture. I wish all visiting cows were so easy to return.

Last night I put a pound of black-eyed peas in the slow cooker so we would be sure to get our fair share of good luck and maybe a little of that "wealth" back that evaporated in 2008! For those of you that have never heard of the New Year's black-eyed pea tradition, it started in the South during the War Between the States. Northern troops considered black-eyed peas as animal fodder and did not steal the peas when raiding Southern farms. That very fact saved many a Southern family from starving.

According to Wikipedia, though, the Sheparadi Jews brought the practice to Georgia in 1730 which apparently was picked up by those living in the area. Actually the custom goes back much further than that since it was mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud. I had to look up the origin of this tradition because eating black-eyed peas every New Year has been the custom in my family since long before I was born. And, naturally, corn bread was on today's menu because you can't eat black-eyed peas, pinto or black beans, or chili without fresh corn bread.

Leave a comment telling me what your family's New Year's traditions are and if you have or have not question their origins.

May 2009 bring you and your family good luck, good health, increased wealth, and many blessings from the Creator of the Universe.