Thursday, February 26, 2009

Outdoor Living and Sol'stice, Part II

We are back for more Sol'stice Garden Expressions. I need to plan my photos a little better because here is the left side of the house. Notice the red, white and blue garden spinner as well as the shiny metal spinner. There are spinners every where, but I narrowed it down to showing these two.

Above is representative of the many glass garden stakes scattered around.

As I wandered down the one of the paths behind the house, I found another of Chris's bird baths with a cedar branch, bird perch anchored in the center. Chris, owner of Sol'stice and artist, does his marvelous creations in concrete then stains to get these fabulous patinas.

I really like this kinetic twirler and soon this one may be hanging in one of my trees.

The above concrete, wind sculpture may also one day grace my most favorite oak tree. I love its patina and pressed glass center.

Now here is a great piece. Can't you see it in your yard?! I can except that I do not have a grove of trees under which to place it. The trees on our place are scattered, one here, one there -- never two, three or ten in close proximity. Of course, I could be wrong, but I think the piece is telling me it wants to be placed in and around a grove of trees. :D It may tell you something else.

On the left is a whimsical, garden sculpture and on the right is a close up of the wonderful gate that is in the photo's background. If I did not have dogs, I'd have this gate on the yard fence. Or, I would place it as an entrance to a
garden if we did not have hungry deer or rabbits just waiting for something tasty to appear above ground. Or, one could just have a gate to no where because it is so unique. On the right is a different gate style, no two are the same from what I saw.

That's it for now. Sometime in the next week or so, I'll drop by Sol'stice again to photo the inside gallery.

Until next time, God bless.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Outdoor Living and Sculptures at Sol'stice

We had another magnificent day here in Central Texas. I'm coming fast to the conclusion that if it will not rain then I might as well take advantage of the cool temperatures and sunny days. So, today I went by Sol'stice Garden Expressions to take some photos of the fabulous sculptures, tree and yard ornaments. Enjoy!
Sol'stice is located just outside Dripping Springs, TX, on Hwy. 290 W which is the road to Johnson City and to one of the favorite tourist towns in Texas, Fredericksburg. If you are in the Austin-Wimberley-Dripping Springs area and have a trip planned to Fredericksburg, Sol'stice is a must stop!

Sissy, the siren, greets you as you drive into the parking area. Isn't she wonderful?!

You will also see this gaint bell decorated with University of Texas colors -- anything UT is naturally a favorite around here since UT is just a few miles east of Drippin'. The bell has a marvelous tone. If you study the photo, you will see a lot of interesting hanging sculptures and tree ornaments in the background.

You also see these "girls" a few feet to the left as you come into Sol'stice. Chris, owner and the artist, calls the ornaments Earth and Sky yin and yang, but I see "the girls" when looking at them. Chris is so cute, he told me to call them anything I wanted to. lol

This object has a mirror in the donut hole which is very attractive to the birds.

Isn't the above a beautiful bird bath? There is a piece of glass at the bottom.

Here is another giant bell and a glass yard ornament. The bells are recycled fire extinguishers or acetylene tanks and have the most wonderful tones when the wind catches the striker.

I haven't even started to the back of Sol'stice to wander along the winding trails among the trees, yard ornaments, and hanging sculptures nor have I photographed the inside art gallery. But to not overwhelm, there will be more photos in the next blog entry.

I must be honest, I have some of my fused glass pendants and trays inside the gallery. :D I am not sure that is a good thing because I am not sure how much longer I can impose self-discipline to not buy some things. Every time I walk in the place, I find new objects I want very much to call mine!

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What a little rain can do. . .

I keep a rain chart since we are on a rain water collection system, and I show we have had 2-3/10s inches of rain since August 31, 2008, with the last inch being recorded in January and February of this year, 2009. In case you haven't heard, we in Central Texas have the worst drought conditions in the U.S. But, it is amazing what a little moisture will do for grass, native bushes and trees.

To the left is an actual clump of green, native grass. A clump is better than nothing; you'll notice the surrounding area -- it is pure dirt. I know a clump of grass is not very exciting, but it is to us since a week ago there was no green anywhere!

On the right is a blooming agarita bush. It is almost considered a weed, but some people harvest its berries for jelly. A couple of umbrellas or sheets are placed at the bottom of the bush because the leaves can really stick you. The bush is shaken with a gloved hand to get the berries. I have never tasted the jelly but understand that it is quite tart.

The yellow flowers give off the faintest but sweetest aroma when passing nearby. Obviously, agarita can survive months and months without water. Every spring we cut it out of the fence, yet the next year it is back with a vengeance. And, it is always best to wear gloves when working in the yard with agarita around. On the left is a close-up on the blooms.

Next we have the Mountain Laurel tree. It is a slow grower but truly produces the most magnificent cluster of tiny, deep purple flowers -- looks like a cluster of grapes. It is just beginning to bud. The tree should be in full bloom within a week or so. It has huge seed pods; I've even used the seeds as accents in a necklace for that earthy, organic look.

Soon the peach trees will produce some lovely pink flowers. We just hold our breath, though, that there are no hard freezes. When a peach tree is in bloom, a hard freeze cuts down on the peach crop. If you haven't tasted peaches from our part of the world, you haven't lived. :D While our peaches are small, they are the most flavorful peach you have ever put in your mouth. They are addictive. During peach season, you cannot go a day without eating a couple.

When the wild, red bud tree buds out, showing all its glory, you know spring is not far off.

Enjoy the day and until next time, God bless.

Manic Monday #156

Today's Manic Monday is an easy one. Give me your answers, purty pleeeese. :D

What's one of the simple pleasures in your life?

Lynn: Walking the dogs.

What do you like to snack on when you watch a movie?

Lynn: Popcorn, of course.

If you were a Survivor contestant, what would be your luxury item?

Lynn: A laptop.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I have always loved the Internet. The whole world is at my fingertips! All I have to do is access a search engine, ask a question, and up comes links to the info. Well, I've found another reason to love the Net: Bloggers!

Today is one of those lazy days where I have nothing special to do but what I want to do. Don't you just love those days?! Anyway, I've been cruising the blogs. I am so impressed with the various interests, cleverness and creativity of bloggers. So, I'm asking you to share when you comment some of those treasured sites you have found. And while I am waiting for a few comments, I'm going to work on days three and four of week 5 in Beth Moore's Bible study, Esther, It's Tough Being A Woman. :D

As an aside to the study, though, I am having a tough time coming up with why it is tough being a woman except for some very superficial reasons. Now if I had lived in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, I would not have a problem coming up with three reasons. Don't get me wrong, the Esther study is wonderful and I love learning the historical background in Esther. It is just I personally think we women in today's world are truly fortunate.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

I can still hear the raspy voice of Maurice Chevalier singing Thank Heaven for Little Girls in the movie Gigi. A dear friend of mine, a mother of two girls, one granddaughter, and a second granddaughter due to arrive within the next two weeks, thanks heaven for little girls and is making it her business to see that little girls dress like little girls. :D

She asked me to photograph the dresses that she just made, which she plans to put on Ebay or Itsy, or both. She is in the process of getting the details on how and what she needs to do for those sites. But, after seeing the quality of her work as well as photographing the precious dresses, I just could not wait for her to get all that in order before sharing these beautiful, little girl dresses with you. I will, of course, link to my friend, but consider this a sneak preview:

Aren't these wonderful? It was so much fun photographing these darling dresses. Besides, my friend brought lunch! I love it when someone else does the cooking, don't you?

If you are interested, leave me a comment. Or, if you know of someone who might be interested, refer her to my blog so she will see the link as soon as it is up.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking A Walk

While at my quarterly checkup with the oncologist, I was urged to add walking to my exercise regime. Even though I do the elliptical, it is not considered a weight bearing exercise. Weight bearing exercise is vital to the prevention of osteoporosis. Not only is age a factor in this matter, but I take a pill to reduce the chances of cancer reoccurring. The pill hinders the body's ability to uptake calcium which is why weight bearing exercise is a must.

I was well aware of the benefits of weight bearing exercise since we owned a gym in Austin for 16 years; however, being human, I had to hear it again and again from a knowledgeable source before committing to do it. In fact, for sixteen-plus years I put people on workout programs, taught aerobics, did fitness testing, etc. You would think I would have no problem applying all that knowledge and experience to myself. Hubby works out three times a week and is totally self-disciplined. I lack a little self-discipline in the fitness arena. :D I also have stubborn streak.

Hubby walks the dogs twice a day. I am now part of the group at least for one of the two walks. We do about a mile; but it is not the distance, I simply start thinking of other things I want to do instead of walking. I'm working on a change of attitude, and it is truly fun to watch the dogs sniff and hunt. We carry treats in our pockets to keep the dogs fairly close so they do not get too far out of sight. I do a "whoop whoop," and they come running at full speed to get a treat. We use puppy-sized treats, broken in half, in an effort to keep the Lab, Luc, from gaining weight. Maggie, his lady friend, has no problem with her weight; she does not care if she eats or not. Luc, though, thinks we have him on concentration camp rations, and we still have to be extremely careful how much we feed him to keep his weight down.

This morning was beautiful -- cool, crisp, and sunny. The dogs were full of energy. Our mile walk equals about two or three miles for them. Luc and Maggie know the schedule; and if we do not take them on the walks, Luc tries to herd me to the door, grabs and parades shoes or pillows around the house until he gets his walk. lol He is a bit of a brat.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Manic Monday #155

Here are a couple of fun questions from The Daily Meme:

Of all your favorite foods, which one would you find the most difficult to give up the rest of your life?

Lynn: Steak. Hubby and I did a three-week fast last year. I gave up all meat products. I spent the last three days of the fast obsessing over a juicy steak.

Which month of the year best describes your personality?

Lynn: April probably best describes my personality. When I open my eyes in the morning and after my first cup of coffee, I start wondering what is new for the day.

If you could be a guest on a game show, past or present, which show would you pick?

Lynn: Ok, I admit it: I do not watch game shows so cannot make a choice. :D

Please leave your answers in the Comments section. Purtty pleeeeeese.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all. Leave a comment telling me about your Valentine's Day.

I made sure the coffee was brewed by the time my Valentine got up. My Valentine made plans for us to go into Austin for a movie and dinner. I had an invitation to a Valentine's Day Tea at the Dr. Pound Pioneer Farmstead Historical Museum from 12 noon to 1 PM. I was asked to docent at the museum. I have been wanting to get involved but never quite got around to making a call to volunteer. The tea gave me the opportunity to do just that.

I need to brush up on the history surrounding Dr. Pound and his family; but if I remember correctly, it was not unusual for Mrs. Pound to look out her window to see a small band of Comanches or Kiowas watering at their well. The local Indians knew that Dr. Pound was a "healer," so the Pound family was considered a friend and were to be left unharmed during the raids in the surrounding area.

I have a great fondness for history. I get chills walking into historical buildings and churches because I imagine all the people who came before me. In fact, I like to roam around the Dripping Springs cemetery reading old headstones, imagining who these people were, what they were like, and how they lived. I'll post some photos of a few headstones in another blog entry.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Adios, sayonara, and au revoir

Let's just say all the above plus a hearty goodbye to this week! The week started out well on Monday but then slowly descended into an almost disaster. :D

Venting for a hot water heater in 1984, the completion date on the house, is not sufficient for the newer hot water heaters. When I walked into the utility room Wednesday morning, a strong smell of something burning met me. In a nutshell, we needed another vent in the hot water closet to circulate the air so the fumes would go up the vent. Fortunately, a truly wonderful plumber, Jim Berry at Clearwater Plumbing in Driftwood, TX, was referred to me. He came within 30 minutes of my telephone call, identified the problem, completed the work, and best of all, at a reasonable price.

I bought a new printer the previous week and had all kinds of problems getting the software installed. I installed and uninstalled five times. I spent several hours online with tech support on Tuesday and Wednesday. Just when the sixth uninstall was about to be done, the computer went crazy. The computer has been acting up for a few days, but Wednesday afternoon the computer's performance became more and more erratic.

Again, I was fortunate in that a friend's husband told me it sounded like a virus. He made a disk of two programs that helped him fix his son's computer; but if I couldn't get the computer fixed, he would try this weekend. I drove 40 miles to get that disk. However, it was too late as the computer was on life support. I considered waiting until the weekend but made a call to Dell and was switched to Dell-on-Call. The computer was locked out of the Internet. So after approximately two hours on the phone trying to get around the connection problem, I had to do a restore to the day-one configuration. Again, sensing that something was going haywire on Tuesday with the computer, I copied of all data files to a stand-alone hard drive.

I must sing the praises of the Dell-on-Call tech support person. He was wonderful, patient, knowledgeable, and got me back up and running. I've heard of computer viruses, but never had one. And frankly, I always thought "we were on our own." I had no idea that Dell or any other computer manufacturer, etc., would walk you through the process. I originally called Dell to see what I could do if my friend's husband could not fix the computer this weekend.

So while the week was full of challenges, there were fortunate components in each challenge that minimized the inconvenience. The bright spot came yesterday, Friday. A local art gallery, Sol'stice Gardens, put my fused glass on display. He sold a pendant within 30 minutes after my leaving his office. My name will be listed when Chris, the owner, updates his web site on Sunday. I'll do a separate blog entry on this wonderful place.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cholesterol Overload

Every once in a while on a Saturday morning you have to make a breakfast, or brunch, that sends your cholesterol through the roof, at least that is the case at my house. This Saturday was one of those days; it has been no less than four or five months since we made such a brunch. I used what was on hand, but there are suggestions for additional ingredients.

Steak & Eggs


4-5 eggs
1-2 T water
Hot Sauce, 1 or 2 dashes
Worcestershire sauce, 1 or 2 dashes
Dash of dry mustard
Cheese, shredded, sharp cheddar is best
Salt and pepper

Beat eggs with all above ingredients including water, except cheese. It is said that a little water keeps eggs fluffy. Add and stir cheese into the egg mixture as the final step.

To the side:
Sliced and cubed left-over steak
Mushrooms, sliced
Onions, chopped, to taste
2 T butter

Optional ingredients:
Green pepper, chopped
Fresh tomato, chopped
Jalapeno pepper, about 2 crosswise slices, chopped or to taste
Left over, cooked rice

Saute' steak, onions, mushrooms, and jalapeno in butter. If adding rice, add it after the saute' ingredients are well heated. Add the egg mixture and scramble. Add the green pepper and fresh tomatoes a minute or so before the eggs are done, leaving the green pepper a little crunchy.
I did not have green pepper or a fresh tomato in the fridge, but those truly add to the scrambled egg dish.

Serve with pan fried potatoes - baked potatoes sliced then fried in butter, biscuits or tortillas for a breakfast taco, salsa, orange juice or fruit on the side.

This was our big meal for the day. After a breakfast like the one above, there is not much room for anything else. :D

As an aside, I had no time to dress up the presentation because hubby was so hungry that I barely had time to take a picture. And, I've also discovered that cooked eggs don't photograph very well, or I need to learn how to take better pictures. Methinks it is the latter. :D

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Glass Fusing Process

Finally, I've gotten around to putting together the pendants for eight friends. Each one gave me the dominate colors in her wardrobe and I assembled geometric pendants for each combination.

After cutting the glass, I use a grinder to smooth the edges. You might notice some red in the plastic grill as well as a dot or so on the face shield.

Sometimes grinding is hazardous. A piece slipped and sliced my finger. Yikes!

After a short interruption and a band aid, I cleaned the glass with isopropyl alcohol, added a drop of clear glue, stacked the pieces together, and placed in the kiln.

I use five segments in the kiln program to ramp up to 1415 degrees, hold, and cool to 100 degrees. On small fusing projects such as this one, it takes about 13 hours before safely removing the pendants from the kiln. The photo on the right shows the pendants in the process of cooling from the 1415 degree fusing temperature. By lifting the top, I flash cool the kiln to 1100 degrees from 1415 degrees. I, then, close the kiln top for the pendants to slowly cool to 100 degrees after a 30 minute hold at 960 degrees. The slow annealing process prevents the glass from cracking several months or even years later.

A closeup of the fused pendants are in the photo on the left. The next step is to cap each pendant with clear glass, and return to the kiln for a second firing. After this firing, I'll sign the pendant back, make and polish silver bails, and attach by placing a couple drops of an epoxy glue to the back of the pendant.

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Remedies for Flu, Colds, etc.

We are in the middle of the flu and cold season and I've listed below a couple of home remedies that may be of help in warding off catching a flu or cold from a family member as well as easing some of the symptoms of those that have the flu or cold. I just feel so earthy and smart when I outwit doctors by finding a home remedy that takes care of an illness. :D It's a lot cheaper too, and I am not loading my body up with antibiotics. I'd rather save the use of antibiotics for something really, really serious.

Pure essential oil of Thyme:

Thyme has antiviral, antibiotic, and antiseptic properties: put a few drops in a diffuser, i.e., any container under which a tea light candle can be placed. The ac/heating system circulates the molecules throughout the house, killing germs as it circulates. If you do not have a suitable diffuser, put a few drops in a pan of water on the stove. The molecules will mix with the steam and be circulated. Circulating thyme molecules in the house reduces the well family members' chances in getting the flu or cold.

Pure essential oil of Lavender and Eucalyptus*

Close the shower curtain, draw a hot bath, put about 20 drops each of lavender and eucalyptus in the bath water, soak for 20-30 minutes breathing in the fumes from the essential oils. Believe me, you feel much better for about eight to ten hours.

Vicks Salve

For coughs, rub some Vicks on the soles of your feet, cover with socks; coughs generally stop or at least are diminished.

Lavender and tea tree are the ONLY two pure essential oils that may be placed directly on the skin without diluting. All other pure essential oils are too concentrated and burn the skin. Pure essential oils are found at health food stores, some pharmacies, a Central Market or a Whole Foods. You want to be sure the label says "pure."

*If you are subject to a lot of allergies, you might want to do a test run by reducing the number of drops in the bathwater. And I would not use this remedy on children under 12.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ground Hog Day, 2009

Did the ground hog see his shadow in your part of the planet? Are you due for six more weeks of harsh cold or will the rest of winter be mild? The ground hog in my part of central Texas saw his shadow, so I guess we are heading in for some very cold weather. But frankly, I don't care how cold if it brings rain, snow, sleet, ice - MOISTURE!

In case you haven't heard, we have extreme drought conditions. I can not help but give a sardonic laugh when the Weatherbug sends me a red flag fire warning because there is nothing left to burn around here -- no grass, no weeds, just loose, powdery soil blowing in the wind. Oh, well, enough of that and on to the next paragraph which is much more interesting. :D

I just love the Internet because you can find out something on just about anything. Ground Hog Day is one of those traditions that you hear about from the cradle but, most likely as in my case, never thought to find its origins. So, I googled and found this site, Ground Hog Day, giving the little known facts and origins. Check it out; it's a fun piece.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Maggie, The Fearless

We have a routine around here where we take the dogs out at a certain time every night. This is Maggie's favorite time - she lives for it! She's first out the door in order to charge the fence with such ferocity that whatever monsters are lurking in the the darkness beyond flee in terror. She then does a fence perimeter check. Woe be unto whatever may have ventured inside the fence because she will be on it like "a duck on a June bug." She is totally fearless.

Maggie takes her self-appointed job seriously. She eliminates field mice, grasshoppers, rabbits, tarantulas, flying insects, scorpions, wolf spiders, and the like. Should the offending insect or animal disappear into a hole in the ground or under the deck, she is determined to catch and eliminate. In fact, we keep an extra load of dirt around to fill the holes she digs to locate the object of her obsession. There are times when we start filling the holes that I think our yard must be a bombing target range. No varmint or insect escapes Maggie no matter how deep she must dig. Need I even mention that only rose bushes have survived since Maggie's arrival; plants are also considered invaders.

I can live with the holes, but what annoys me the most about Maggie is when she finds a skunk on one of her two daily walks with my husband. Nothing deters her from grabbing the skunk and slamming it to the ground! Our other dog, Luc, the Lab, takes one whiff and retreats, but Maggie charges on. It is disgusting! The walks are now timed to hopefully avoid running into a skunk, i.e., a couple of hours after sun up and early evenings before dusk. The Daylight Savings time change plays havoc with the walks because here in Texas temperatures rise quickly after the sun comes up and do not descend until long after sunset.

I found a de-skunking solution on the Internet which works fairly well, especially on Luc since he does not get the full force of Mr. Skunk. The solution is one quart peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and two tablespoons of a mild dish washing liquid. Leave the mixture on the dog for about ten minutes before washing off. However, I've added one more step to Maggie and that is the tomato juice bath prior to the peroxide solution. Neither solution, though, seems to remove a Mr. Skunk encounter from collars.

So now you've been introduced to Maggie, a bit of a hussy and shop dog extraordinaire.

Until next time, God bless.

Safety First

As I've mentioned several times, it has been three-four years since I've picked up a torch to fabricate a piece of jewelry. It is, therefore, understandable that I ran into problems with the equipment from an empty oxygen tank to a split oxygen hose to a leaking propane tank. All malfunctioning equipment is replaced and/or repaired and in good working condition. After connecting the propane and oxygen hoses, a soapy leak detector is swabbed on all connections - the gauge connection, the hose connection and even the opening and closing valve connection on the tanks. When the tanks are opened, bubbles will quickly form if there is a leak. If there is no leak, the next step is placement of the tanks.

Fuel tanks need to be securely anchored when placed under the work surface so the fuel hoses come from below, preventing an
accidental torching of a hose which, of course, can cause an explosion.

It is now a matter of getting your solutions ready. There is a solution of boric acid and denatured alcohol which is used as a pre-flux and offers some protection to the metal during the soldering process. There is another light acid solution in a crock pot that removes some of the gunk and oxidation on the metal after soldering. There is a solution of baking soda and water which neutralizes the acid solution in the crock pot, and then there is a simple water bowl for final rinsing.

This may appear involved, but after a few times, it comes naturally to dip, flux, solder, dip, dip and dip. lol Next up is the soldering process.

Until next time, God bless you.