Thursday, March 31, 2011

spur of the moment shopping

After work today, I thought I might go to the store next door and see if they had their seeds and gardening stuff out. (It's a discount kind of store that has a lot of cheap stuff, but sometimes you can get a great deal one seasonal or party stuff.) Since they didn't have much, I decided, instead, to go one door down to the Jo-Ann's fabric store. They are expanding this location, so I was curious. A friend also recently mentioned (reminded me) that they often have 99cent pattern sales. It just so happened that they have Simplicity patterns on sale starting today. I thought there was a new pattern I wanted to check out, but couldn't seem to find it (possibly it wasn't Simplicity) in the books. I did find a couple others, though. This adorable halter dress!! Still gonna have to deal with a zipper, though.
And, these cute skirts.

I pulled out this skirt I love to wear in the's just an elastic waist skirt. Two panels of fabric and some elastic! Why don't I make that!!?? I like the big pockets in the green 'sporty' skirt, but I like the elegance of the more 'put together' skirt, too.

So, after selecting my patterns, I went to find some elastic, but checked to see if they had a zipper foot in, yet. They did...but I'm not sure it will fit. The woman at the counter asked if I had used one before. I said, no, so she said, 'well, with the wide range of machines out there, open this carefully and save your receipt.' I didn't think I could return it! I figured 'well, it's 3 bucks...I'll give it a shot!'

I have been looking forward to my day off tomorrow, but now I have the fireplace guys coming smack-dab in the middle of the day to clean out the gas stove. Sad to spoil the day, but glad to finally get that cleaned!

oh, and here's a fun fact: it's SNOWING!! Give me a break!! It's April tomorrow!! I want spring!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turnovers and Lilies

I can't believe how time seems to be flying by these days. I think it's just because I have been keeping extra busy these days. I'm trying to be, um...less lazy. I am, most days, home from work by 1pm. Yes, it's because I am up at 3:30 am to start work at 4:30, but can I let the days just slip by!? At any rate, I decided to take cooking back. It makes the most sense. If I am cooking, I have better control over the food (less 'meat & cheese'...a little more 'low cal & veggies'), a cleaner kitchen (Hubby is just about the messiest cook I have ever met!), and more control over the grocery budget. It also gives me a chance to use some of the THOUSANDS of recipes I have. I NEED recipes to cook. So, tonight...savory sausage, spinach, & onion turnovers, from Cooking Light. It's meant to be a 'quick cook' type of recipe, with minimal 'hands on' time, so it calls for refrigerated pie dough. I, however, because of my new life plan, made my own whole wheat & basil pie dough. The filling is just potatoes, red peppers, onions, chicken sausage, spinach, and some basil and spices. Hot out of the pan, and into the pie dough... So, now I just wait until we're ready to eat, pop those babies in the oven for about 20 minutes,bang,boom...dinner's ready! I managed to sneak in an hour workout, too! So far, I'm off to a good start! The flowers I got from my boss opened up in time for my party, and they are just so beautiful still!

I had to pull out the hydrangeas, but the lilies and daisies are so pretty!! My little bit of spring until the warmth gets here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

gifts from my awesome framily

(Framily= a word I just made up meaning 'friends who are family')
So, I finally got some documentation of my birthday haul. Of course, as I uploaded my pictures, I realized I forgot the tea from's already nestled away in the tea cabinet! Yummy Pumpkin Spice tea that smells like that first bit of fall, when you wander into the country store.
Everyone was super thoughtful. After reading all my posts about my mail art pen pals, I got a lot of fun stuff to do some collage art!
From Donna: some great old postcards, souvenir cards, antique wallpaper bits, one of her chicken feathers, and some matte cuttings from when her hubby worked at a frame shop.
From Renee: some old stamps and stickers. Ahh, the memories!
It's true that I invited people over for a tea party, and then asked one of them to bring a teapot, because I don't actually own one. 'Oh, I forgot the teapot!' she exclaimed. I'll just boil water and we'll steep in our cups, no biggie. 'Well, why don't you open your gifts, first!' [giggle giggle] So, of course, I could guess I was getting my very own teapot! So cute, too.
I really was overwhelmed by the gifts! Donna and Nate also gave me this great vintage kimono! So, now I have two...does that make me a collector of vintage kimono now?
They also gave me this great raised garden kit! It's a little circle and I'm so psyched about it. I had decided to keep my herbs separate from my veg beds this year. I was just going to use pots, but this is perfect! Spring has GOT to get here soon! These hilarious candles...I love that my name is too long to fit in the package...the 'R' had to take a back seat to the other letters. Of course, we only used the 'J-E-N' anyway.
This was funny! That's the bag of gifts from Donna, and sitting next to it is MY old Raggedy Ann doll. From when I was too young to have much more memory than a vague recollection of owning it. But what a great thing...I love getting together with these girls and laughing and talking about when we were younger. I love having family that is more like old friends...people you CHOOSE to love and hang out with. Sometimes family can feel like an obligation...I like the feeling that we actually DO enjoy each other. (Some times people don't understand our family dynamics...but I won't get into that!)
And Donna's chickens gave me these great fresh eggs! The blue ones are so pretty I will be sad to eat them...but oh, so happy at the same time!! :)

And, my super special hubby cracks me up. When I left yesterday morning for work, there was a homemade CD with my keys. He had downloaded a Pink Martini CD for me AND tickets to see them this summer at the Melody Tent (a small local music venue).
When I thanked him, he told me the story: He heard the music after a music reviewer friend of ours mentioned the band. He then saw that they would be performing at the tent this summer. So, then, to make sure I would actually like to see them, he played the CD while making dinner the other night...noticing me check the iPod to see who it was. 'oh, do you like them?' 'they're fun!' So, that was that...a little trickery to make sure I would like my gift! He's so cute.
I forgot to mention my sources for my food!
The scones and tarts came from and this is, ultimately, the clotted cream recipe that I used.

another year older...

Yesterday was my birthday. I was feeling pretty down that Hanzo's health failed so close to it...I didn't feel like celebrating after such a loss. But, I also didn't want to spend my birthday alone and moping around and feeling sorry for myself.
So, I used my birthday as an excuse to have some fun and silly times with my 3 best girls.
We like to dress up, it's true. Most of the time, these girls are dressed like this anyway, though.
Steph, the older of my two baby sisters, made that cute little number. The sweater was a thrift shop find, if you can believe that!! She makes a lot of super cute retro-inspired outfits.
Renee, the be-speckled cutie in the corner, made the skirt she's wearing, but of course, I am rubbish at remembering to take pictures so this is the only one i have of her (I got one shot of each of them, and none of my own outfit!! I wore my latest homemade dress that I posted a couple weeks ago.) Donna, the classy lady in blue, also made HER dress. Yes, we all wore our own handmade creations! I'm pretty sure her sweater was bought at a thrift shop, as well.
So, 'the spread'...I made plain scones which I served with blackberry jam and apricot preserves AND homemade clotted cream. I also made two types of tea sandwiches: egg salad (I DID use my own homemade mayo, though I felt the taste could've been a lot better. Perhaps I'll give it another go, but we don't even BUY mayo, so it's doubtful I'll go through the effort of trying to perfect it), and, the favorite, cucumber with chive cream cheese (I even made the cream cheese...that is, I mixed fresh chives into plain cream cheese, instead of buying ready was a last minute 'oh, this would be easier if...' moment). I also made these delicious shortbread tarts with cream filling (and little kiwi garnish). Steph brought cupcakes. White with white; chocolate with chocolate; and special request (by me) white AND chocolate with peanut butter chips and peanut butter frosting!! YUMMERS!!
After our full bellies digested a bit, we did some hottubbin'! I totally forgot to remind them to bring suits, but ever the prepared ladies, they had brought them anyway! It snowed a little while we were out there...then ended up snowing all night and is still snowing a little now...just a little spring snow, it's to be expected.
After our hot tub break, we broke out the cards and snacks. I made manhattans that turned out to be too strong for them, plus i forgot the cherries, so they weren't authentic (I don't bother with the cherry on my own time, so forgot about my guests...bad girl!). I also was having too much fun to remember to set the cheese out to soften, so we went back to the irrisistable cupcakes and coffee (actually, I went back for a second manhattan!)
When finally we couldn't wait any longer, and the brie with blackberry jam and almonds was done baking, we moved into the other room for the CHEESE PLATE!
I never realized what joy some cheese could bring to a person's day! And, typical of myself, I forgot to take a picture of the cheese spread, until after the damage had been done... The list: St. Andre (b/c I wanted to share my new favorite), Chimay and Dubliner (mostly b/c I had some left from last week), French Abbaye Ste. Mere (the one I've been wanting to try b/c I know nothing about's YUM. I'll have to try it again for a better description!), Italian Truffle Cheese (a splurge, but I was told it's a 'special occasion cheese'...), and I bought a baby swiss b/c I THOUGHT Steph said her bf only liked swiss...he ended up not coming anyway, but what she actually told me was 'he doesn't like swiss'. OOPS. (If you're keeping track, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 goofs I made for this gathering!). Oh, I also made a smoked salmon spread. I originally spread it on sesame melba rounds and put some capers on top...but it went over so well, that I just put the spread and capers for a self-serve style. At that point, all the class had gone from the party anyway...I was on my 3rd manhattan and we were all drooling over the cheese anyway!
Eventually, we stopped eating and rested and chatted a bit, and then the workers of the world had to leave. I took today off, but the sisters had to work and Donna had to get her Hubby up and ready for a meeting in the morning.
Moxie was completely zonked after having so many people around all day.
I just liked this picture...
It was a great birthday, and it was nice to celebrate and be happy and even to tell stories about Hanzo without crying. I am not a big 'family rules' kind of person, but these girls and Hubby are all I really need!
I wasn't expecting gifts (I tried to make it not about my birthday, but it's hard when it was actually my birthday)...I will post about the awesome gifts I got later!
(spell check isn't working...I apologize for my short-comings)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011's the right thing to do

My blog friend, Erika, is helping. She's helping those in need, in Japan, by donating HALF of her kickstarter proceeds from this week!
You can help Japan by helping an up and coming artist realize her dream of an artist residency in Hong Kong!
If you haven't heard about it...go here.
If you haven't pledged, but have been meaning to...this week your help will be TWO-FOLD! So, go now.
If you aren't in a position to help, that's fine, too, but you should still check out her blog and her project idea, because it's pretty cool!
If you can't help (or already have) but know someone else who may be interested in helping to fund this great project, send them over!!
Time's running out...let's get this girl to Hong Kong! :) AND help Japan a little, too!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

just wanted to share

Hubby finally scanned and email me the picture from our vow renewal back in NOVEMBER!
good times...

Flowers and plants

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about our Hanzo's passing this past week. But, our journey hasn't ended. Our plan was to go pick out a plant to take Hanzo's place in the front window. Where he would sit and gaze at the neighborhood cats, bugs, or sometimes nothing at all. He would sniff the air, and sometimes sneeze if he caught a whiff of pine, which he apparently had a little aversion to. Anyway, plant shopping had to wait until Saturday when I got out of work, since neither of us was in any condition to a) be out driving around; or b) out in public.
So, we went to one of the local nurseries, and found a fun hanging plant. It's called a Goldfish plant, which is perfect since Hubby said he wanted a goldfish!
Hubby's little memorial to Hanzo was a paper sculpture of him...complete with freakishly long tail!
Before I left work, though, I was stopped by my boss, who had a bouquet of flowers in her hand. 'These are for you.' I thought it was a joke and they were to be 'spoiled' through the store, but she said, 'yes...I know you're cat died. I'm sorry.' How thoughtful!
It really has amazed me how much compassion my co-workers have shown me through this sad time.
In the meantime, I'm making scones, mini tarts, and all sorts of things for a little gathering I'm having to celebrate my birthday, and the memory of my friend. And can i just say...if you're going to make mayonnaise...make sure your oil is fresh!
I'm also working on some mail art!'s true...I have been trying to keep myself busy and arting is getting done!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gone, but not forgotten

My Hanzo. A trooper til the end. Our last night together, we lounged about and love on each other. I think Moxie will miss him, but only because now she won't have anyone to push around.
We were lucky to get a gorgeous day, weather-wise, for our last day together with Hanzo. I was supposed to work in the morning, but Wednesday morning at work was already proving to be near impossible, knowing what was coming, so I gave up my hours to someone who wanted them. She had asked before, but i have already had shorter hours at the kennel, and didn't think I could afford to lose a day...but, then I realized that I more likely would not be able to hold it together at work!
Anyway...gorgeous day...
Hubby and I took a short walk to the beach to clear our heads a bit, then we spent the rest of the day in the yard with the kids. Hanzo loved being in the fresh air, but usually had to just get it from the open windows, since his previous owner took all of his claws away. He used to run out if the door was open, and start sniffing around the chairs and plants. Always very cautiously.
Yesterday, we let him roam as far as he wanted, which led to some hilarity when Moxie decided he might want to play with her. There was a 'play bow' from her and then she started running circles around him, and then knocked him over from stand to sit. It was sad, because he couldn't hold himself up, but funny how she wanted to play.
They were an odd couple, but I was always happy that they were able to get along. Hanzo was always more dog-like...begging for food (which he taught Moxie), always wanting to play (especially when I was trying to tie my shoes or the sweater with the wrap-around belt), and the two of them racing each other to bed for the best spot! Eventually, after lots of exploring, he channeled his inner lizard, and plopped down on one of the hot pieces of slate in the path.

I think it was a good last day for us. Now the agony is over, and his pain has ended.
But, it is strange that he is not curled up next to me, looking at me like I am taking up more than my fair share of the seat! :)
R.I.P. Hanzo...we love you...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday: Cheese Day

Well, it's Sunday again. That means 'research' for my cheese job. Today's spread included a couple of yummies! NEW FAVORITES!
This one is a Raclette. I stuck the wedge in a pie plate, and let it melt in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes, or so. Then we spread it on slices of baguette...DEEE-lishous!!
Along with the Raclette, we had a few left from last week's spread, an apple, some sweet-hot peppers, a chianti salami, and wine.

The other new cheeses for this weekend were a Manchego (which Hubby requested, upper middle of the plate). A Chimay (the top left of the plate) which has a surprisingly tasty rind with a bit of a crunch. The rind is washed with Chimay beer! The description I read somewhere said it has a 'beefy' taste. I don't know if I'd say that, but it is certainly a yummy, flavorful cheese. And, my new favorite cheese...St. Andre triple cream (top right of plate)! OMG...YUM! It's creamy and clean and...I am terrible at describing tastes, but it's just so delicious! I thought the 62% Supreme brie I had last weekend was the best ever...I even ate the whole thing myself! For lunch...baked with honey and almonds! So good! The wine was good, too, but it's beginning to be about the cheese.
Unfortunately, the cheese JOB is becoming increasingly annoying. It's a part time job and every week there is some sort of 'task' I have to do...but I never get enough time to do it. This new task is so ridiculous, I am considering giving up the order...come up with two sign ideas for my section! Why do we have people specifically to make signs if I have to come up with my own stuff!? I'm not creative in that way so they are getting ideas like 'we got your goat' and 'our cheese is grate' (get it 'grate'...instead of grated cheese...!? haha?).
Oh, and here's a fun tidbit...I have to have a 'huddle tasting' for the a.m. crew. No big deal, really...I just need to have tasters of the 5 cheeses I have in the upcoming flyer. Except I have to do it this Thursday. Also on that Thursday, I have to reset my whole section to prepare for the flyer, which doesn't even come out until the following MONDAY. And the BEST part, is that is also the day I have to send my precious Hanzo to kitty heaven! Like I really want to get stuck at work late that day! At least I'll be so distracted ALL DAY that I won't have to think about what happens after work.
I know...stop complaining...I'm trying to be better about that, but my mood has just been dumpy lately and I just can't do anything about it right now.

Trying to also plan a little get-together with my girls for my birthday is proving to be fairly difficult. I think it will just end up being cocktails and a cake! As long as I'm distracted and not just sitting and sobbing for my birthday...that's the main goal!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy thoughts

I thought today would be the worst. A full day off with my sick Hanzo, just snuggling and crying and waiting for next week. And it started off like that. But, it also started off as a pretty beautiful day today. I decided to grab Hanzo and sit outside in the fresh air a bit. He was so happy! As it got too cold, for me, I brought him in but left the back slider open a bit. He sat there a little, but then started to wander I opened the window in the front where he likes to sit and watch bugs and the neighborhood cats or the horses across the street or whatever it is he's always staring at. And he sat there, all happy and content for quite some time, before venturing back into the bedroom, where he spends most of his time, these days.
What a nice thing, this warmish day...
...since lately it's been a 'hide under the flannel sheets' kind of weather!
It does make it hard to see him happy to smell the air one minute, then limping away on his wabbly legs, the next. I am getting better's still hard to think about, but it is nice to have a semi-normal day with him after such a horrible week!

In other news: I was blessed with a distraction package yesterday!
One of my blog/mail art friends, Dave, sent out some great stuff!! I don't know what anyone else got, but I am excited at the possiblities of what I got. The 'hoarder' in my wants to keep it with my already unreasonable stash of bits and pieces, but the creative part of me wants to let loose and try to make something fun with it all...I'm sure there will be a compromise of some sort, in the end.
Look at all this great stuff!
Tiny 'color by number' Mona Lisas!!
And, an envelope of the coolest stamps, ever!!
I have no idea what to do with this stuff, right now, but it will provide a much needed distraction in the coming weeks! So, thanks, Dave!
And, speaking of clever, creative people and things...don't forget to check out and/or spread the word about Erika and her Hong Kong Project!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This girl needs to keep busy

Five years after adopting my handsome boy, Hanzo, we have to say good-bye. I'm giving myself another week with him, so that I can have a full day off afterwards (and I can't do it's just too soon, for both of us!).

I see a sparkling kitchen and bathroom in my future. My 6-pack abs may begin to show. Lots of mail art projects may transform. And, I could possibly finish my embroidery project. What I don't see is too much socializing or leaving the house. Unless to walk Moxie.

I have had lots of well-wishes and kind words. It is nice to know that people are so caring and understanding, but i hate this feeling of helplessness. I NEVER show my emotions, so to burst into tears every time someone looked at me yesterday was agony.

I will take this next week to enjoy my Hanzo and decide what is the best course to take...and then I will just have to keep myself busy: French, clarinet, mail art, crafts, working out, walking the dog...even cleaning the house! :)

In the meantime, I see a photo shoot with Hanzo & Moxie in the very near future...

Sorry...I hate downer posts, but this is my first time for this...and weddings and death always hit me the hardest. I still cry sometimes thinking about Hubby's Uncle who died 2 years ago...who I hardly knew, but it was the thought of my father-in-law losing his only brother at such a young age (for these days) to such an ugly disease (liver cancer) after his brother's wife survived brain cancer! Anyway, the point is, I'm emotional and I say/write random/depressing things when I'm emotional.

Monday, March 7, 2011

That's it, then (warning: sad post)

My sweet little man.

He's impossible to read, because his motor is always going. You can tell when he's really happy, because then he drools!

Today, Hanzo came with me to work. He first had to endure a day of barking. The Shepard we have in the kennel (she was surrendered due to some knee/hip issues due to some 'questionable breeding practices') barks A LOT! And it's loud, and there are no doors between the kennel runs and the cages in the wards. So, all the other animals just have to deal with the noise. And cats don't particularly like it. My Hanzo was a trooper, though, he just deals with it, like he does with everything else.
So, once Lauren was finished with her surgeries this morning, poor Hanzo had to go through more needles and ultrasounds and blood draws. The ultrasound showed that he had some fluid building up around his liver or kidneys (I can't remember which). The lump on his leg was getting bigger, the lump on his side was twice the size, and when I weighed him this morning, he was 2 pounds lighter...this is all after about 2-2.5 weeks. Considering he only weighed 10 pounds to start, that's a serious loss.
After everything, we put him away, and waited for the results. About 20 minutes later, Lauren came to me with the news. Both of the lumps were cancerous. The fluid around his organs would be manageable, but the cancer is growing fast, so fluid was the least of his worries. She gave me pain meds and some fluids to keep him comfortable until we make our 'final decision'. Eventually, he will not be able to walk because of the thing on his leg, but until then, if we manage his pain, we can keep him around until we're ready.
I don't want to draw this out too long. I went home for lunch today, and told them I wouldn't be back. Of course, they all told me I could go home as soon as I found out. Once I got him ready to go home, I knew I'd be a wreck the rest of the day.
It's his constant purring and snuggling that is making this just about the hardest decision I have ever had to make.
Today...I am very sad.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Aahh, Sunday

Sure, I had to be up at 4a.m. to work until noon, today, but it's Sunday. Sundays, for whatever reason, always feel different than other days. Perhaps, today, it's because of the 'warm' (high 40's) weather and the spring training baseball game on TV? Whatever the reason, today finally feels like a relaxing day. Well, it may be the wine and cheese we had for lunch, actually. Now that I am 'section leader' for the cheese section at work (which basically just means I place he order and make sure we don't run out of anything...which I'm still trying to get a handle on!), I like to have a little more knowledge of cheese. And, by that, I simply mean, that I like to have AT LEAST my own opinion of the cheeses we sell. So, I've been trying to bring home a selection of cheeses to try on the weekends. Last weekend, we were pretty tight on money, and I was in the height of worry about the cat (I'm still worried about him, but I fear the worst now and am just trying to enjoy his last days, sadly.) I can never tell if Moxie is just jealous, or if she is worried about Hanzo, too. This is a familiar site, these days, though...
So, anyway, it's been a couple weeks since we've had a 'cheese tasting lunch. This week I got a couple Goudas to compare: a regular run-of-the-mill Gouda and a goat's milk Gouda. I tend not to go for a goat's milk cheese due to its strong flavor, but I did like the goat's milk Gouda...not too strong. I also got a wedge of our seasonal 'Irish Cheddar with Porter'...YUM! Blue cheese is something I like with my hot wings, I am definitely not a lover of it, but I wanted to try our 'cave aged' blue can really taste the cave!! :) It actually made my mouth water, it was so 'tart'. And, you could also really taste the 'blue'...not a great 'cracker cheese', in my opinion. I REALLY wanted to try our 62% Supreme Brie. I ate half the wedge by myself and can't wait to finish it...when I will drizzle it with honey, sprinkle on some almonds, and bake that little beauty! We also still had the English cheddar with caramelized onions from our last 'cheese day'. I love wine and cheese lunch!! Oh, and we also had a special treat, as Hubby had stopped at our friends' bakery and picked up a fresh loaf of Pumpernickel bread today!
Yes, I think that makes any day a special day!
Another possibility is the margarita I'm sampling now. I know, I know... there are other things in life than booze...but, well, we'll get to the other things another time! :)
The margarita wasn't really planned today. We just got this new item at Trader Joe's, so I picked it up 'in case' I wanted it over my two days off from that job. The mixer is yummy...not super sweet like most mixers...more like a sweet limeade. But, of course, Hubby's always into trying new alcohol (or for me to try them) so he got me a bottle of tequila while he was out buying wine. Yummy...the tequila (Espolon) is smokey and goes nicely with the sweet-tart mixer.

In other, crazy news, when I got home, I could tell Hubby had been taking pictures...the camera was out of it's case and just sitting on the table. And, if there's one thing I know about my guy, he never puts anything away...
So, I looked at the pictures to see what he had been photographing...
It was a wild turkey... our driveway! We've seen SO many these days. One day we were driving home and there were about 9 of them in a yard, a couple streets over. I was just commenting to a friend, that we had seen more bunnies and turkeys, and less coyotes...then she showed me a picture of a huge coyote she saw in HER yard! I'd rather see a turkey!
Apparently, he tried hiding behind Jason's car when he went out this morning, then peeked around the back of the car to see if he was still there, before running down the driveway! What strange birds!