Friday, December 6, 2013

Bloomington, IN - 10.5 inches of snow, or more!

At one point in my life I had a great desire to move to Alaska to teach.
Everyone was incredulous at the mention of this desire.
I am able to romanticize about most any situation and my dream to moving to Alaska was no different. I imagined a cabin in the woods with a big four-poster bed, piled high with quilts, candles burning, a pot bubbling on the stove, perhaps an Alaskan man to cuddle with.
Today, I got a little taste of what that dream might have been like. Winter storm Cleon hit us hard. Last night we had freezing rain and hail. Then it began to snow. I love storms. I think storms are exciting. They make me feel alive. Last night we built a fire, I lit some candles and we scurried around locating flash lights. Fortunately, we never lost out electricity.
At some point in the night the snow ceased. Today, it started to snow again around 7:30 a.m. I woke to the sound of shoveling. I waited until this morning to make a decision as to whether or not I would go to the office this morning. The university was open, and I understand, because most of the students are on campus. But  it was not too convenient for those of us who do not live on campus. The roads were extremely slick. Only one of my colleagues made it to the office. I exchanged a couple of texts with him and he declared the situation a mess.
Around 2:30 this afternoon I bundled up to take Chelsea for a walk. I took my Nikon along. A heavy, wet snow was falling. It was difficult to keep my camera dry and to keep my lens from fogging. And, my trigger finger about froze off of my hand.
When we have freezing rain, I worry about the big pine out front falling on the house. The pine towers over the house. I'm certain it has an elaborate root system, but if it was to fall, it would demolish the house - not a very romantic notion.

Like a student, I greatly enjoyed this unexpected snow day.

The drive looking towards the road

Woodpile & Canoe

Our road - heading towards town

The road heading past our house towards Herrodsburg -
no one lives on the curve, but if you notice, a car is parked off of the road.

No paper today. I tried to see if there was mail,
 but the mailbox was frozen shut

The big pine out front -
the one I do not want to fall on the house

 Rolled hay made me think of loaves of cinnamon bread with icing

Looking towards our place from the road out behind the property

My Welsh Pembroke Corgi, Chelsea Kabob
She loves the snow - hops like a bunny and snuffles her nose in it

Pampas grass & small pine

Clothesline & the small chicken barn

Hurray for the snowplow

Heavy boughs on the big pine

Drive up to the house - shoveled at 8 a.m.
This photo was taken around 2:30 p.m.

I love this tree - the big Sycamore on the other side of the drive

Burning bush

Sundial in the garden

Bench with watering can in the garden

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Charmed, I'm sure.

Today I'm wearing a jingling bracelet which brought back precious memories.
When I was a girl, a lot of women wore charm bracelets and collected charms one at a time. The bracelet in the photo above is a photo I took off of the Internet- but it could have been mine. I was in band- played the flute and sang in choir.
My mother had a charm bracelet that was heavy and jingled. She kept it in her jewelry box all year long and the only time she wore it was at Christmas time. My then-husband always said: "that bracelet your mother wears drives me crazy!" This always caused me to giggle on the inside.
In my mind, my mother was always beautiful. She had auburn hair that she wore in a french roll. She was elegant and wore little hats with veils to church. She was my Girl Scout leader for many years and would wear white gloves when we had ceremonies.
As the years passed, mother became more and more crazy eccentric with her dress. She still wears several rings and wears a ring on her thumb. She wore rings on her toes and on a flight to Hawaii one time, one of the rings got stuck when her feet swelled during the flight.
I always joked that mother dresses like a gypsy. In fact, a few years back I went to a Halloween party dressed as a gypsy and wore one of mother's gauzy full skirts and a brilliant shawl with roses on it.
Sometimes I think I'm becoming my mother. I've always referred to myself as "Nancy, Jr." because I think I look so much like her. Now, I too, am becoming more confident and happy and expressive in my jewelry and clothing.
Mother was greatly influenced by her grandma who was a positive, smiling person. My mother is not in very good health and is crippled to the point of nearly being home-bound. But, if you were to meet her, she would smile and when you said "how do you do?" Her answer would be "fine."
No complaints.
I now work in a new office where I am very happy. Our dress code is not as strict as it was where I worked before. I can wear my crazy artistic, expressive jewelry. Fridays are the most casual and today I wore a jingling necklace with matching bracelet. As I typed and moved and my bracelet jingled, it brought back the memory of mother's charm bracelet. I always loved looking at her charms and she would tell me the story of each one. There was a silhouette of a girl's head with my name and birth date engraved on it. For me it was a sweet time shared with my mother. Sometimes I would just go round and round, spinning it around her wrist as I studied each charm.
The jingling of a bracelet brings memories of a magical time in my life - Christmas, when mother always wore her charm bracelet. It is a happy sound.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dress like every day is a photo shoot

A friend of mine owns an advertising business. He contacted me about six weeks ago and told me he had shown one of his clients my photo. I have no idea what photo he showed them. He says they loved me, that I was exactly what they were looking for.
I was like "wait a" So he says.

My friend contacted me this week. Says the client is going to contact me. That we are going to do the shoot sometime this week, maybe Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. I told him I was free on Wednesday or Friday.

This morning I got up and thought "are they contacting me today?" Would they do that? Just send me and email and say "c'mon over, we're doing the shoot today."

How would you dress if you thought there might be a photo shoot at the end of the day?
I wore my new Dansko heels, a skirt with matching top and a white jacket. I carried my new satchel purse. I straightened my hair. I did my makeup. I had polish on both toenails and fingernails.

Sometime during the day, the client contacted me and said we needed to post-pone the shoot.

After work a woman turned to me as we got off the elevator and said "your nails match your outfit."
I smiled and said "well, I thought there was going to be a photo shoot today."

She probably thought I was crazy.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Recently, a friend of mine recommended a class to me.  She said "you have to go! you have to try it!" When I asked her what it was, she described it as a "free movement dance class."  The class was being offered at a local Rec Center, Twin Lakes. Previously, I took kickboxing at the Rec Center and had a positive experience. We had a great instructor and kickboxing helped to strengthen my core and help me with my balance.
We belonged to our local YMCA for several years- but I wasn't satisfied with my experience.  Despite being members for several years, I knew very few people- including instructors. In my opinion, the instructors didn't make an effort to meld the class in any way. The last class I took at the Y had an awful instructor. I'm sorry, but this is true. It was a dance class and she could never remember how to do the dances. We should have had to pay for the class, but we did. For several reasons, we made the decision to leave the YMCA.
Twin Lakes Rec Center is offering free classes this week. Tonight, Nia was offered and we decided to give it a try. Before we left, Doug said "you do know you do this class barefooted."  I nodded.  I knew this.
All of my life, others have considered me to be a strange duck. I do not like to go barefoot. First of all, I am a germaphobe. Secondly, I am allergic to bees. I don't want to step on anything and get hurt. I do not like my feet to get dirty. I like to wear my shoes and socks. I don't understand why this is considered to be strange, but people have always made fun of me because of this.
For me to take a class barefooted is a big (bare) step for me. Because I don't go barefooted, my feet are soft and tender. I greatly enjoyed the Nia class, but at one point I looked over and saw my friends, my shoes and socks and wanted to run over and put them on. I'm sorry, I have an aversion to being barefoot...may I please wear my shoes and socks?
The class was wonderful. In the beginning, we all formed a circle and introduced our selves to one another. This is great- the first step to getting to know others. Part of the class was structured, part of it was not. The instructor would say "anything goes!" and we would dance about on our own. The class was made up of people of all ages - I would guess from people in their twenties to mid-sixties. Everyone works to the best of their own ability. It was in the 80's outdoors today and I'm certain they had air on in the studio, but I was sweating buckets. There was a lot of jumping and dancing and stretching and some poses similar to those in Yoga. At the end of the class, we rolled about on the floor and I realized why little children roll about on the floor. It felt great. Kind of like a self massage. We stretched and rolled and wiggled. Similar to how I feel after a Yoga class, I felt very relaxed. I have a "bad" ankle that was broken in '97 and still gives me pain. After class, my ankle felt good.It felt relaxed.  My entire body felt good.
Free or not, I predict Nia will be a new joyful discovery.
Read more about Nia here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monsoon season in Indiana

In the summer, my attention turns from the house to the outdoors.
I garden until dark.
Until past dark.
I garden in the rain.
I'm certain people who drive by think I must be crazy.
If I am crazy, gardening is wonderful therapy.
When the ground is soaked, the weeds pull easily from its grasp.
It has been raining each and every day.
Yesterday, thunder and lightening overhead
as I pulled grass from the sidewalk's edge.
 The cat lay nearby under a bush.
He and I both dry beneath the dense leaves above.
Finally, after several strikes of lightening, I decided it was time to go in.
 The rain fell in sheets.
When I turned to look back at my garden, 
I went into the house to get my camera.
 When I moved here five years ago,
I claimed this patch of yard that was once grass.
Now, very little grass remains.
I love the rain.
My plants love it, too.
I don't understand why people often complain about rain
 when without it,
we couldn't grow crops
or have beautiful gardens.
The rain to the wind said,
You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't tell Chef Dave

Chef Dave with our cooking class at etc for the home
Remember Chef Dave?
My new friend who taught me how to rock the knife at etc for the home?
Last night I made dish for dinner from a recipe I found in a
Walmart flyer.
It is called  Amazing Pizza Casserole.
Amazing Pizza Casserole
Here is the Walmart version:
12 oz bag of No Yolks Egg Noodles
1 jar (2 lb, 13 oz. pasta sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1.5 lbs ground beef
3.5 oz. package of pepperoni
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil noodles & drain. Brown the mean & drain. In 9"x13" baking dish, spread thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom, then layer half of the noodles, half of the ground beef, half of the remaining pasta sauce, and half of the cheese. Then layer rest of noodles, meat sauce, cheese, and top with pepperoni. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Easy, peasy - right?
I am at the glorious freed-up stage in my life and I find it difficult to stick to a recipe.  I cannot do it. I think to myself "oooohhhh, what if we add this, what if we add that? 

I started out by lightly greasing my old aluminum cake pan with olive oil. I know pepperoni is greasy, but I thought the noodles still might stick. I made small layers of noodles, meats, cheese. I added 2 small cans of mushrooms stems and pieces. (Fresh mushroom would have tasted great, but I did not have any on hand.) I sprinkled garlic salt, oregano and basil over it all. The package of sausage I picked up was Kroger brand sweet Italian and had fennel seeds in it. I brown my sausage by cooking it, four minutes at a time, then using my favorite kitchen tool, the Pampered Chef chopper thing...

It took about ten minutes to brown the sausage. (I just can't do ground beef.) Then I quartered the pepperoni rounds. I just sprinkled cheese here and there and don't believe I used three cups of cheese. I do like sauce and I used about one and a half jars of pasta sauce. (I think the next time I make this I might forgo the layers and mix it all up, put it in the pan and top with cheese.)
Simple, good fare on a summer's stormy evening
Let me say this about the Barefoot Refresh Perfectly Pink California wine. Doug brought it home one night on a whim and it is delish. He couldn't remember where he picked it up and I started searching for it. It is a teensy bit bubbly. Here is the description from Barefoot:
What happens when Grenache and Moscato go toe-to-toe? A lively blend of mandarin orange and peach notes complemented by flavors of raspberry and cherry. Enjoy over ice.
Not too bad for a $7.99 bottle of wine. (It is a light summer wine and not too strong.)
So there you have it, my cheap inexpensive meal and wine for a (very) stormy summer night. This recipe makes a ton of food and it would be a great dish to take to a carry-in. And, it tastes even better warmed up the second time!
But, don't tell Chef Dave!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rockin' the knife away

In November of 2012, a fabulous new store opened in Bloomington- etc for the home. I started hearing great things and "oh you've got to go in there!" It was on my way home. I would look at the store as I passed by and think someday.
A few weeks ago my friend Liz was my weekend guest. We wanted to shop, have coffee, experience the restaurants, all that Bloomington has to offer. I told Liz, "there is a fabulous new store in town and I've been wanting to go in there and we are going." Walking into this store is just, just, wow. I am a wordsmith and I have no words.
The store is huge- a warehouse.
Beautiful furniture and pictures and grills and deck chairs and baby items and kitchen items. The (state-of-the-art-fabulous) kitchen in near the center of the building.
On that Saturday morning when we walked in, we could smell something fabulous.
"Pizza in the kitchen," we were told.
We walked into the kitchen and Chef Dave greeted us with a smile. He welcomed us and then offered us some pizza. And, oh my, what pizza. To.Die.For.
Chef Dave proceeded to tell us bout upcoming cooking classes. I thought "I'm there!"
I went home and started following them on facebook .
Today  was le premier cooking class and I was there.
And, I am happy to say there were only three in the class,
and we received a lot of individual attention. When we walked in, to the kitchen, pots were bubbling on the stove and there was food everywhere.
This is the description of the class:
Cooking Class: Basics One (all hands on)
1) Grilled Corn and Crab Soup
2) Tuscan Pork Tenderloin Salad
3) Grilled Tuna Salade Niçoise

- learn important basic knife handling and cutting skills –
- keeping a kitchen clean and hygienic – properly stock a gourmet kitchen,
 kitchen equipment maintenance  
Stuff to cut and chop

more stuff to cut and chop
We started out by learning how to hold knives, how to hold our fingers, how to hold what we were cutting and chopping. We learned how to Julienne- small sticks-think matchstick, Jardiniere -baton- larger sticks- for dipping, Paysanne - big dice and Brunoise - small dice. (I have not mastered Brunoise, I fear for my fingers.)(I am quite accident prone, easily burn myself on the stove and have cut myself, before.)We learned how to sharpen knives. I did master cutting with a large knife without lifting it - Chef Dave kept saying "rock it, rock that knife."
We started to cut up carrots and celery and onion.
Then we started to grill the corn for the soup.

grilling corn in the fab grill pan for the soup

grilling tenderloin in the fab grill pan for the salad

I learned tenderloin continues to cook after you remove it from the heat.
grilling quartered radicchio in the fab grill pan (look at all the goodies in the store)
I learned a little Marsala added to the soup enriches the flavor.

Blanching green beans, asparagus and white asparagus

more grilling and simmering of the soup
I learned to peel celery and asparagus to remove the chewy, stringy bits.
I learned how to bend and snap whit asparagus - what is considered good to eat and what isn't.

shredding parmigiano cheese

I learned how to grill Portobello mushrooms.
sprinkling pepper over the Grilled Tuna Salade Niçoise

 Grilled Corn and Crab Claw Soup

the fruits of our labor
 I am not a gourmet cook. I have my specialties which are requested often. I just learned to whip whipping cream at Christmas time. I enjoy cooking- when I have time. I took a half-day of vacation to attend this class today and I did indeed feel as if I was on vacation. Hours to cook and not having to worry about the clock or if it is all going to come together at once. Guidance and teaching by a Chef. I learned so much.
Thank you, Chef Dave.

pans hanging from pan rack

Chihuly glass sculpture

Ruth, Judy, me, Chef Dave
Just like going into etc for the home, taking a cooking class was a someday in my life.
I'm glad that day was today.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blooming in Bloomington

Little Five weekend. Some of you may know about Little Five from the Movie Breaking Away.
A lot of drunken college students downtown.
First stop for us - Starbucks.

Tulips on campus.

IU Gargoyle



Sample Gates



More blooms.

Prom night in B-town

Second story sitters
It was a great day to take our Corgi, Chelsea, on a walk downtown. Everyone loves Chelsea. How cool is it for people to ask if they can pet your dog and then thank you. One guy told us that his day had been brightened by visiting with Chelsea.
The sun was shining, people were out and about and the blooms were blooming in Bloomington.

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