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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Starting off 2010 with a new "toy"!

"Holga cameras are medium-format toy film cameras that are cheaply made and known for light leaks, overexposure, vignetting and vivid colors. [see photo above] The Holga would be considered by many people a cheap clunker. But the Holga has recently made a comeback with a cult following of those who feel its imperfections make the camera mysterious and every image unique."---from "How to Use a Holga Camera" on

I am not a photographer, yet. I am an artist. As an artist, I like direct results and total control. So this little camera, where anything may happen and I can't even see WHAT HAS HAPPENED until the film develops [and that film and processing is only available in limited places...that is NOT at Walmart or Walgreens (yeah!!!)] will be a step into unchartered territory for me! I am excited about the new direction, and will keep you posted!
BTW, it is all my daughter's fault that I find myself in this situation. A week ago, I didn't have a clue about the existence of this toy.
Laura told me that she is waiting for hers to arrive. It had been ordered as a Christmas gift.
Then she showed me photos on-line and blogs which featured the camera's output. Hmmm, a new toy and it can be used for blogging???? There was no way to resist placing that order! [and wonder what I was getting myself "into"!]
Today, I was browsing through shops in quaint, downtown Siloam Springs, AR with my friend, Sally. We had finished a fine lunch at the English Tea Room and went into an art gallery/retro/vintage shop. There on the shelf was a HOLGA! I could show her what I was talking about. [I visit Sally "once in a blue moon" which of course, is today, LOL!....the art gallery had a landscape entitled, "Once in a blue moon".]
On my way home, I phoned our house. "Dear Mr. Pear" told me that I had a package I confessed that I had ordered the Holga and told him I will share...[he has been a photographer for years....we'll see if he uses it.?]
Next year (next week) I will get some 120 film (a friend has some rolls he has offered to me) and get started...just point and shoot, right?
BUT, tomorrow, NEW YEARS DAY, I plan to have a day of working in the type of art I am used to, watercolor, collage and acrylic...that is my idea of a "Happy New Year".
How are you planning to spend the holiday????

Monday, December 28, 2009

Peaceful Christmas in Georgia

[Above, grandson "B3" takes a break from the work of unwrapping all the gifts!]

Using my new yoga mat (thank-you "secret santa") with my grandson, "downward facing dog" pose.

Dear Mr. Pear [Steve] and the grandchildren the morning we left.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our last morning in Georgia.....why not make a special breakfast?
Panetonne Bread Pudding! I have "googled" and read several recipes. I think this will be a wonderful last meal with our loved ones and will get us started onthe drive home through, Georgia, Tennesee and Arkansas!

Now down to put it together, ready to bake in the morning!
[Image and recipe available at "Wives with Knives" blog.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Because I am on the road, and "out of Pocket", what I am referring you to is a beautiful holiday post from my friend, Macrina. She has a special gift for finding peace and hope in everyday life!

I am at my daughter's home and am having a wonderful Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful week, too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Granny Square Mania...or a great project for a road trip!

I hesitate to use the word "mania" as this is very relaxing. For me, the "manic" excitement comes from seeing all the beautiful, scrappy yarn colors coming together! They are very much like the scrappy quilts I love, but more portable while they are being formed!
I love looking at these eclectic granny square creations![The photo with the crochet hook is of my squares.]

Where, besides leftovers and scraps to find small amounts of colorful yarn? Try visiting Pickup Sticks for their "small balls" of worsted weight wool. Yarn candy!

Good granny square directions can be found at and below are basic directions.
Basic Granny Square
1. Chain (ch) 4.2. Close into a ring with 1 slip stitch (sl st) in the first chain.
This is the center ring.
Then follow these instructions to complete the first round.
1. Chain (ch) 3 for your first double crochet (dc) and then work 2 more double crochet stitches into the ring. Chain 2.
This is your first corner
2. Work 3 more double crochets in the ring and chain 2.
3. Repeat step 2 two times.
You now have your four corners.
4. Join the round by working 1 slip stitch in the top of the turning chain. Don't turn your work.
To go on to the second round, follow these steps:
1. Slip stitch across to the first ch-2 space and then chain (ch) 3 for the first double crochet (dc).
2. Work 2 double crochets in the first ch-2 space, chain 2, then work 3 more double crochets in the same ch-2 space. Chain 1.
3. Work 3 double crochets, chain 2, work 3 more double crochets all in the next chain-2 space. Chain 1.
4. Repeat step 3 twice, which brings you to the last side of the motif. Work 1 slip stitch in the top of the turning chain to hold.
[You can change colors of yarn (usually when you finish a "round") as often as you like!]

We will be traveling to our daughter's for the week of Christmas. Making granny squares is a satisfying, and meditative way to add color to the miles of interstate highway! Maybe, some day, I'll have enough completed squares to make an afghan. The important thing for now is to relax and enjoy the journey!

Here is a recipe for a favorite Christmas cookie which, once we arrive, the grandchildren may help me to bake. It is from my friend Sally and I have enjoyed it for years!


□ 3 c. flour
□ 1 tsp. nutmeg
□ 2 sticks butter
□ 3/4 c. sugar
□ 1 egg
□ 2 tsp. vanilla
□ 1 tbsp. rum
□ 3 tbsp. butter, softened
□ 1/2 tsp. vanilla
□ 1 tsp. rum
□ 2 1/2 c. sifted confectioners' sugar
□ 2-3 tbsp. evaporated milk or cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 large cookie sheets. Sift flour and nutmeg together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and rum. Gradually add flour, mixing with spoon until well blended. Roll dough into 1/2 inch logs on a floured surface. Place logs 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes until light brown. Cool on wire rack. Prepare icing by creaming butter, vanilla, and rum. Beat in sugar alternately with cream. Spread over cookies, use a fork to make "stripes" or ridges (bark) and sprinkle with nutmeg.
With work and travel, I am not on-line much these days.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Be safe and savor the little things!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tokyo Milk Products (something lovely!)

As you have probably noticed, birds are "in"....they are appearing everywhere and I love seeing them! This week, I discovered bath products by Tokyo Milk. The graphics of the labels are so beautiful (one is a sparrow), and the bar soaps even have fine glitter on the art work to add to the charm. I will save the labels for collage and enjoy the wonderful soaps and perfumes! Great stocking stuffers or hostess gifts!



Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

I am feeling much better after a day of total rest and medications. Soon, I plan to make this shortbread cookie, recipe .

It is from the JOY of BAKING web page....I will have to read more of the recipes there!

One thing I have "enjoyed" while healing from this pinched nerve is my microwavable neck "pillow" or tube, which is filled with rice and lavender. BTW we had made these comforting neck pillows a few weeks back....I did NOT sew it while my neck was hurting! So warm and relaxing! Easy to sew too! ( The pattern is from , I tried and tried to put the direct link to these instructions, but ended up writing her directions below.)

Directions for the Original Rice Hot Pack: For those who would like to stick with the traditional rice pack project, which produces a 3' x 4.5" tube, divided into rice filled segments, here are the full directions:
Supplies: scrap of cotton fabric ( be sure to use 100% cotton!), 37"x 10"; thread; chalk; sewing machine; one cup measure; measuring tape; scissors; 6 cups of white rice (not instant).
Skills:This is an easy to make beginner's sewing project. Ability to measure, cut, and sew rectangles with half inch seams.
What You Do:Fold fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew along the bottom and length using half inch seams. Turn tube right side out. Measure and mark with chalk, from bottom seam, every 6" along the length, ending a half inch from end. Pour one cup of rice (mixed with dried lavender it you can find it, our local health food store stocks it) into tube and sew across width at the first 6" mark, enclosing rice in a 6" x 4.5" rectangle. Repeat for remaining 5 cups of rice. Turn in a half inch from end, and sew very near the edge to close tube.
Include these instructions with your gift: "Rice Buddy Hot Pack/Cold Pack. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, until hot, and use as you would a hot water bottle. Great for easing aches and pains. For cold pack, store in the freezer."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tree decorating tonight!

Our tree has lots of white lights and 2 ornaments at the moment. The bird ornament happened to stay on there from last year, the sparkly gold pear was a find this week at Pottery Barn.



I'm missing work today....we didn't get the tree decorated last night after all. I have come down with a pinched nerve (s) and muscle spasms which has affected my left arm, neck shoulder and upper back. I am typing with my right hand...taking pain meds and muscle relaxers. As soon as I post this, I will go lie down on my back and rest as much as possible.

I hope to come back later and tell you about Tokyo Milk bath products and a wonderful shortbread cookie with dried cranberries and and green in a cookie, you know!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A winter cake...

This delicious recipe is from December 1, 2010 Woman's Day .

The recipe makes two, 8 inch round cakes....I think one will be enough cake for me and Mom. [I am visiting her for a couple of days this week]. So, a half recipe perhaps with 1/3 of the original sugar amount will be what I bake!


This afternoon we made this recipe from Real Simple, "Quick Beef Bourguignonne". Tender and tasty....we let it "stew" a couple of hours. It works well in a slow cooker too! Even better the next day!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rosehips remaining.....on my mind.

The photo of these bouquets below is from Martha Stewart's latest e-mail newsletter.

Bouquets here in the pewter vessels are made with rose hips.

We have lots of rose hips around town this winter....unfortunately none are on my property! I am tempted constantly by a large rose bush in the parking lot of where I work. I see it everyday as the traffic whizzes by that corner....

I have a good friend with an abundant supply of rosehips in her garden. [Unfortunately, she doesn't live very close!]

After the beautiful roses fall, petal by petal, what remain are the rosehips. I feel that these are often overlooked but so full of possibility! I definitely will do a watercolor sketch which features them. [Even if I paint them from a photo rather than a real branch!]

Sometimes, I am able to look upon my dearth of rosehips as a hidden blessing....because if I had them, I'm sure I would be compelled to try rosehip jelly, rosehip tea and all kinds of "antique recipes" just to say that I did! [and I already have enough projects and delights everyday!]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home from work, I have been counting many blessings.
Blogging and the Internet among them!
I have resisited BLACK FRIDAY bargain chasing.
Instead, I feel like making a difference somewhere other than the retail scene! The answer came as I read tips about blogging and was led to this.... a link to a very special blogger, Maggie Doyne who has built a home for orphans in Nepal.

I read that she could use donations for the sewing room, where clothing is sewn using fabric from local shops and local women as seamstresses. They will be teaching the children to sew as well. I will be sending her a donation. Please go to her help page , if this speaks to you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The late afternoon sun shine in on a still has been a good Thanksgiving!

We stayed here and had a quiet day, Mr. Pear is still recuperating from the knee replacement and I have only today off from work. I was able to paint and enjoy the day. We watched the Macy's parade and Mr. P is into the football as well as a brief walk around the block.
A crockpot cooked for me! Turkey breast is so tender that way! I added sage and thyme from the garden so it was very fragrant and delicious! Pumpkin pie is still beckoning.
I will be putting two paintings in ETSY and post about them on my art blog ! I hope you'll take a look!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I found this idea in a newsletter from "Keepsake Quilting"...a page called, The Hungry Quilter !

"Cranberry Relish"
1 (16-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup red grapes
1 orange, peeled, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Pour the cranberry sauce into a large bowl, and mash lightly with a fork. Drain the pineapple, and add to the bowl. Seed the grapes, cut into quarters, and add to the cranberry mixture. Add the orange pieces and walnuts, and mix lightly. Chill, covered, overnight. Yield: 6 to 8 servings"

Sounds good and easy...I think I would add some chopped whole cranberries just to make it a bit more cranberry and a bit more tart!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easier to make, and using no corn syrup, this is a great little pie!

Caramel Pecan Pie

Original Recipe Yield 1 - 9 inch pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
36 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) In a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the melted caramel mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool until filling is firm. This is good served warm or room temperature!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Colorful, handmade luggage tags should make bag identification much easier!

These are tags I made today using the free pattern from Quilting Arts. They are generously giving free patterns for 5 cool projects! I can hardly wait to try the little mini wallets and journal covers too! [move your cursor and click on "free pattern" to find the link for the patterns!]

Sewing on the vinyl was not easy until I tried the "ultra glide foot" or "teflon" foot. Then the stitches just worked great! These are now ready to have the name and address cards filled out and inserted, then easily attach onto the handle of today's suitcases!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yesterday afternoon was cold, dreary and gray. I happened to have the afternoon off so decided to go with Mr. Pear (still recuperating) on a short road trip.

We stopped at the gallery which has my bird watercolors for sale.
It was energizing to see these bright happy paintings on the cloudy day! Other works in the gallery were inspiring too. I hope to be painting more again soon!
Besides the art gallery and a coffee shop for a pumpkin scone to share, we visited a store with fabrics and a couple of flea markets and charity thrift stores.
These are the fat quarters (10) I picked up and below that, a pair of soft rayon pull on pants from April Cornell (a surprise find at the thrift store!). The pants are perfect for lounging or pj bottoms next summer!

top of pants in scanner....
More thrift store finds! A Japanese tea cup, a wooden serving dish (origin?) and a "holly" plate from England.
It was fun! Now back to work. [Maybe these new "things" can pose in a still life painting for me!]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We're still having a sunny warm week! Today, my day off, I remembered to plant these daffodil bulbs which I bought a month ago. The variety is "Tahiti" which is a double daffodil with and orange ruffle. I planted a dozen. They should come along to brighten our world next March!

It has been an altogether good day, laundry, housework (a little), a walk in the park with Mr. Pear. Slowly, carefully. Still to be seen.... a maple tree or two with pretty leaves!
Then reading "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver. I have only just begun reading it and it is GOOD!
I have finished quilting on the Dresden plate quilt which I have been handquilting for the last few months. Today, I am sewing down the pastel scrappy binding. It is a classic!
More creative fun here....a page from a collaborative altered book/scrapbook/art journal. This page was done by my friend Paula who found the wonderful book at a thrift store, an older decorating book by Tricia Guild. Wonderful photos for us to play with. Great color throughout the entire book....this will be fun! [click on the photo to see the page larger].

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Table runner class this week!

This is the holiday table runner pieced from 3 fat quarters which is our project of the month at the store where I work. The pattern is free at! I added the embroidered motif in the center, from our embroidery machines at the shop.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Frost Yet!!

This 9 day run of gorgeous weather, warmer than the cool rainy October which we experienced, has led to more time spent outdoors. Here is a garden update.

On October 20th, I felt that the time had come to bring in most of the tomatoes (photo is of them that day, on the vine) before the frost I brought in lots and wrapped them in newspaper in a box. I left some small ones out on the vine to see what would happen.

Today, you can see that some of those which were wrapped in newspaper are now ripe. Less tasty than vine ripened, but ripe! Meanwhile, those left on the vine (below, a photo from this afternoon) are still growing and MAY eventually ripen unless the frost comes first.

One big task this time of year is raking the leaves. I raked some onto layers of watered down newspaper and topped them with brown paper bags held down with fallen tree branches. [Photo below] This organic material will start to decompose... In early spring, I will come back here and make another "lasagna" garden, hoping to have found a more sunny spot for future tomatoes and cucumbers!

Even though he is less than 3 weeks out from his total knee replacement, Mr. Pear is not one to rest (sadly! it is a bit worrisome, and he is not feeling well this evening!). Here he finishes up some bags of leaves to be put on the curb for the pick-up tomorrow.

I often bake something on Sunday. Today, I found a can of pumpkin (supposedly there is a shortage of canned pumpkin?). Should I make pumpkin bread or this delicious soup ( or just relax and knit for awhile? There are some wonderful shows on PBS tonight!).
The recipe is from my friend, Cheryl.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon salt
2,14 oz. cans of low sodium chicken broth
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1 cup 1% milk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large suacepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 3-4 minutes then add flour, curry, garlic, cumin and nutmeg and saute for 1 minute.
2. Add sweet potato, salt, chicken broth and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through and softened. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
3. Place half of the pumpkin mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Using a strainer, pour soup back into pan. Repeat with rest of soup.
4. Raise heat to medium then stir in milk and cook for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through. 5. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Serves 6.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A wonderful annual event!

Thursday evening we attended a silent auction of donated paintings and other art. The format had to be 5 inches X 5 inches. This was a wonderful evening, and Mr. Pear's birthday too! The room was filled with artists and art lovers, all enjoying catered goodies and wine from a local (Wiederkehr's) winery! We could bid on these small works of art while watching to see if our painting drew any bids. There were over 300 paintings! I did not get one of the pieces I bid featured Greek doorways (I may have to paint one myself!). Most are done in oil or acrylics. I did find this abstract watercolor and love it! The artist is Richard Nicholson, whom I know as "Nick"! [Living in a fairly small art community, many of us know each other so that makes the party even more fun!]

My donated painting, below in an almost finished state....and the photo from which I painted it. I didn't get a photo of it in the final it is gracing someone's wall.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

I am adding this book to my reading list....and will see if the local library can reserve it for me.[I'm no doubt drawn to the beautiful pink dress on the cover...]
I love armchair travel and this one has some time travel too, I think.
Have any of you read this????
Mr. Pear update...He is walking around the block AND driving all over town. (no longer on strong pain medicine or he wouldn't be driving!)

Monday, November 02, 2009

In spite of weather in the 70's and a week of sunshine in the forecast, I am in a knitting phase again. The hoodie sweater for my grandson is coming along nicely! I get the newsletter from "Knitting Daily" today they featured this book. Very basic and very good to own I am sure!


I also tried a new recipe. This one is for butternut squash lasagna. Different and yummy! Mr. Pear wasn't sure about this recipe when he heard the descriptive name, but one look and the fabulous smell after it was baked,and he was willing to like it!

We are thankful for all the wonderful foods we have in the fall....even popcorn balls and a wee bit of leftover Halloween candy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A rainy Thursday, my day off again. It has rained on Thursday for the last twelve weeks.
Can't rake leaves, but I can do art and entertain myself many ways....above, a collage/watercolor of three mini ghost pumpkins (grown by my friend, Paula) and a luscious pomegranate.
Below, two books I am perusing, as if I need more creative ideas! LOL!

"life is a verb" by Patti Digh is more than and "art" book. Her exercises in each chapter are to help us learn to see more deeply and be more fully alive. Wonderful!

Finally, the sweater I have started knitting for my grandson who will be 2 years old in November. I am practicing my new knitting technique and watching old movies with Mr. Pear who is struggling with getting the pain meds he needs....

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