Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Things Happened - January - December 2011

Sometimes there was beauty in unexpected places. 

Or in a familiar town where loved ones live and spring comes early.

Or traveling through Georgia on the way to see mom.

In a park where I learned that walking for fitness can be fun.

And standing in the rain in Times Square.

The whisper of the river.  Always beautiful.

A summer so hot that these guys got water every morning and rewarded me with their beauty.

The fruits of a master gardener's garden.

And watching the Braves play on a blue sky day.

Shimmering beauty in the fall.

And at the site of a famous battlefield, now peaceful and quiet.

This barrel outside a recovery shelter for men reminded me of an important lesson I often forget for myself: "Live your Life" - enjoy it, be happy and love whatever it is you choose to do.
I wish just that for everyone.
Happy New Year, my friends.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Goldfinger, oranges and singing anyway

- See the gold forefingers on the new gloves I got for Christmas?  This was the most interesting present I received - gloves that are touchscreen compatible!  I think they've thought of everything now. 

- Bringing a bushel of Florida oranges in to the crew at work and loving the smell of oranges throughout the building all day.

- Admiring the birds for singing in the trees even though it was a cold, dark and rainy morning.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The lights, best gift of all and long live the king

- Christmas was beautiful in the Florida wilderness.  Sister foiled the attempts of pesky kitty Pete to attack the tree by enclosing it in the dining room. 

- My sister calls this "the best Christmas EVER!" because she learned on Christmas Eve that she will be a grandmother.  I've never seen her look so excited. 

- My brother-in-law's announcement that if he was king, he would proclaim that everyone would get to sleep until 10:00am every day.  I hope he gets to be king.  :)

It was a long traveling day and I'll be getting around to everyone's blogs tomorrow.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  Peace!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poinsettias, abundance and snowman

 - These poinsettias displayed to dramatic effect in the swanky office building a client works in.  I've never been a fan of these plants, but they look beautiful here.

 - Mr C's got in the spirit of things on a rainy Thursday afternoon. 

- My coworker Joanne is a glass artist and actually blew the glass for this snowman ornament.  Love his orange carrot nose!  She made them for her clients, but I was lucky enough to be given one at the end of the day yesterday.  Probably because I kept admiring them so openly.  :)

I wish you an abundance of holiday cheer this weekend, my friends! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas cactus, rescued and rescued again

 - Someone brought a baby Christmas cactus plant to the office.  My photo of it astounded me - I used the Macro setting with the flash and ended up with a black background instead of the rather drab office background.  Anyway - I think the plant is beautiful and perhaps someday it will end up looking like friend Susan's below.

And I thought you had to put it in a dark closet or basement during the summer to get it to bloom in time for the holidays, but a blogger, Mr. Brown Thumb, says otherwise.  His post about it cracked me up.  :)

- Rescue # 1 - Traffic in and around Atlanta is bad right now, due to the rush to get things done, I guess.  On a work errand yesterday, the overhead electronic traffic sign on I-85 north spoke of an accident six miles ahead and that all lanes were blocked.  It ended with, "DON'T STAY ON 85."  I loved this nurture from a sign and imagined the caring person who typed it in some DOT office.  And so I exited and made my way through the streets.

- Rescue # 2 - After my work day and moving on to volunteer work after, I finally made it home and at 9pm was in the midst of making cookies for today when I realized I had no brown sugar.  Sigh.  I was about to turn off the oven and go to the grocery store when I heard my neighbor overhead in her kitchen.  I called.  "By any chance...?"  She did, and it was in a special canister dedicated to just that.  I love organized people and am leaving cookies for her in a bag on her door this morning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to, early weekend morning and generosity

- My coworker was laughing hysterically at this video.  It is pretty funny, but also makes me miss having a kitty!  This cat reminds me of my Cleo, who was fairly placid, but had a little attitude, too.  She would randomly bite me on the ankle sometimes, when I wasn't expecting it, just for fun.  :)

- Walking out into an early cold, dry December morning.  Five wrens sit in a leafless crape myrtle tree chirping and flutter into another when I get too close. 

- Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army on Saturday night at the nearby mall.  Favorite moment:  a family exited the mall and walked toward the parking lot.  Their very little boy lingered with me and held out a round piece of cardboard, saying, "This is money." And offered it to me.  I thanked him and was letting him put it in the kettle, when his father came over and gave him a dollar to put in. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another lovely tree, fun greeting and a treasure

- This is the tree that stretches up into the rotunda of Georgia's antebellum Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia - I posted about my visit there here. My sister snapped this photo and then we snapped no more, although we both had our cameras. I liked that it included a number of hand made ornaments, such as ones that might have been included on a tree in the 1860s.

- Most fun Christmas card received so far - from my cousin's stepdaughter (does that make me her stepcousin?) and her husband.  They got married in Las Vegas this summer and posed at a slot machine.  Someone went in and added the Santa hats.  :)

- And this one from my aunt (my dad's older sister) felt as if I was sitting down to have a cup of tea with her.  I love her exquisite handwriting (soon to be a lost art) and how she always includes a little inspirational leaflet of some kind.  On a recent visit, a surprised Aunt Catherine opened the door dressed as if she was going out.  I love how she dresses up, even when planning to just be home alone all day.  And I love the thought of her sitting down to lovingly address her Christmas cards.  I always love sending a card to her, too, because I know she truly treasures it.

I hope many treasures are in store for you this weekend, my friends, and that it is happy and full of good things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's what you do, my name and fun project

- This barrel marking the entrance drive to a men's recovery shelter sponsored by a printing client.  It made me smile, so I call that a good thing.

- Finding the little snowlady ornament with my name on it on the Christmas tree at work.

- Uttering words I could have never predicted I would say in conjunction with a printing project, "I would think that vampires would not care for a foil stamp treatment that is too shiny." Yes - that is a teaser. An explanation to come later.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Unleaving, roses and a wee tree

 - The leaves have mostly fallen by now, but I'm seeing these beautiful red maple leaves around. 

 - Neighbor Marion's Knock Out roses are still cheerfully blooming in spite of a couple of hard frosts. 

- And I finally decorated inside for Christmas.  This wee tree is just the ticket for a single lady.  The Santa on the left belonged to my Great Aunt Grace and the Santa candy dish makes just the holding spot for my charging cellphone.  :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

No approach zone, remembering and it's coming

- I can relate.  At my sister's house during the Christmas season, there is the constant yelling of "No, Pete!  PETE !  Nooo!"  :) 

- A birthday call to my beloved niece Carla.  She has moved with her husband and toddler from New York to Washington, DC.  And I am impressed that my 22-month-old great niece is developing good conversation skills, asking her mother when they were going to the park across the street from their new home: "Remember Ken?" (Their doorman in New York.)  "Remember the horses?" (Seen in lots of visits to Central Park.)

- Christmas lights everywhere and sometimes in the oddest places, making me look forward to the next two weeks being merry and bright.

I might finally decorate for Christmas inside this weekend.  I hope your weekend is merry and bright, my friends!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lovely lunch, literate cat and a rescued rescuer

- An invitation for lunch to a lovely home on Sunday for lasagna and great conversation with a table full of friends.  Susan and Rick have a lot, but they give a lot - an awful lot.  And it was lovely to have something Italian and spicy for lunch rather than the usual holiday fare.

 - Their cat Allie is 20 years old.  That's pretty old in cat years, but she still loves to read.  :)

- Dakota was banished to the back porch that day for too much exuberant barking.  He came to their family as an adult rescue pet, but fit right in.  A few days ago he was outdoors again, but urgently barking at this door.  Susan went to check and Allie (who goes outside sometimes) was standing underneath Dakota.  Every time Allie tried to move away, he herded her back and stood over her.  The reason turned out to be a hawk squawking at them from a nearby tree.  The hawk probably would have captured the frail Allie if Dakota had not been so persistent in protecting her.  You know I loved that story.

*** Bonus today.  Another friend, Mary Ann, brought a dense chocolate cake with a fluffy icing laced with crushed peppermint sticks.  Yum!  I asked for the recipe and here it is:

Peppermint Cream Brownie Torte—Serves 10-12 full slices

1 large box ( 1lb. 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie Mix w/syrup pouch

or 2 Ghirardelli Brownie Mixes.     Bake in 9x13x2 pan

Heat oven to 350°    Line 9x13 pan with 17x12 aluminum foil.

Grease bottom of foil w/shortening.  Make brownies using water, oil and eggs.

Bake as directed.  Cool in pan 1 hour on wire rack.

Make peppermint cream & dark chocolate  ganache.  [ below ]

Remove brownies from pan using foil to lift. Cut into 3 equal rectangles.

Trim sides.

Place 1 brownie rectangle on platter.  Spread with 2/3 cup peppermint cream. 

Top w/2nd brownie rectangle and spread w/dark chocolate ganache.

Top w/ 3rd brownie rectangle.  Spread w/ remaining cream.  Refrigerate uncovered.

Just before serving, sprinkle w/crushed hard peppermint candies.

 Peppermint cream-

½ c heavy whipping cream  ½ pkg (8oz) cream cheese softened

¼ c powdered sugar            ½ tsp peppermint extract.

Beat whipping cream in medium bowl w/electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Set aside.

Beat remaining ingredients in medium bowl on low speed until blended;

beat on medium speed until smooth.

Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.

Dark Chocolate ganache

¼ cup whipping (heavy) cream.  ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.

Heat whipping cream until hot, but not boiling, in 1 qt sauce pan over low heat. 

Remove from heat.  Stir in chocolate chips until melted.  Let stand at room temp 1 hr or until thickened.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Mansion, lovely Saturday and Advent

 - My sister and I had the honor of attending a party at the antebellum Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia on Friday night.  Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia when the Civil War began, but was moved to Atlanta shortly after.  All the government buildings remain, including this one.  It looks a bit gloomy at night, but there were "ambassadors" to greet us and escort us up those steep steps and carolers on the lawn.   It was lovely to see all the beautiful holiday decorations inside; there was even a gingerbread house replica of "The Mansion."

- Since the first photo is so gloomy, I stopped by on sunny Saturday morning to get this brighter picture.  It really is a treasure - pink stucco on the outside and a beautiful rotunda on the inside with a glass ceiling.  But my favorite part of the weekend was seeing friend Susan at her antique shop on Saturday morning and visiting with other friends who dropped in while I was there.

- This was the second Sunday of Advent and four generations of women lit the candle on Sunday morning.  Mackie (great name!) is a member of our church and she had her daughter, granddaughter and two great granddaughters with her.  The baby smiled at the congregation on cue.  A peaceful moment in an otherwise hectic weekend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eeyore, I choose purple and good answer

-  Delighted by a Christmas Eeyore spotted on a very nice client's desk; my favorite character from the Pooh books.  He says his mother gave it to him and he brought it in to work.  Eeyore resides in the southeast corner of the 100 Acre Wood, an area marked as "Eeyore's Gloomy Place: Rather Boggy and Sad" in the land where the Winnie-the-Pooh characters reside.  My client doesn't seem particularly Eeyore-like to me, just quiet, with slightly sad eyes. 

- Another very nice person - Jennifer the dental hygienist, who lets me choose the color of my new toothbrush.  Purple, I say.  :)

- From friend Jerry: "My son asked Santa for an iPhone and he replied, ' elf workshop doesn't make iPhones, the Apple Company doesn't allow us to make them and they are really expensive.'"

I hope the weekend brings you delight, fun choices and good things, my friends.  Have a great one!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Grinch, little hecklers and whitewashing

- A delightful evening with the Fun Girls seeing "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" - the national touring company's "show on the road" at The Fabulous Fox Theater.  A favorite moment:  when the audience was invited to sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" with the lyrics displayed on colorful pull down banners and flipped over pillows.  :)

- The actor Stefan Karl as The Grinch was as Grinchily Grinch-like as one could want.  Another favorite moment:  he just couldn't seem to spit out the word Christmas when he was trying to say Merry Christmas to The Whos and the children in the audience started calling out "Christmas!"  He heckled them back with glaring mock sternness saying, "Where are your parents!!!"

- It's the 176th birthday of another famous American curmudgeon, Mark Twain.  Check out the Google home page today for Tom Sawyer supervising the painting over of the Google logo.  :)   Mark Twain on finding just the right word, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

Monday, November 28, 2011

7 x 7 Link Award, memory lane and thank you

My friend Sara from a sharing connection gave me this award.  You are supposed to pick 7 posts that fit the following categories.  Wow - that was hard!  I have had 980 posts, so I had to utilize memory and stats to come up with good responses. 

And I am supposed to award this to 7 other bloggers.  It's just too hard to choose, so I say any of you should use this as good blog history material and do it.  Thanks Sara!  You are a peach.  And thank you to all who come here so faithfully.  Here goes:
  1. Most Beautiful Post:  Darkness into light, good neighbor and anniversary.  You thought I would choose one of those mountain / river posts, didn't you?  I have to walk around the back of the building I work in most mornings to get in since the front door is locked until 8:30am and happened upon this beautiful sky one morning.  It fit well with the quote, too. 
  2. Most Popular Post:  Shadows and light, a red one and just right.  This post has the second most page views of all time and I don't know why, but it has a gorgeous memory for me.  My mom couldn't wait to get home to model that red coat for my father.  She knew he would love it and he did. 
  3. Most Controversial Post:  I stay away from controversy on this blog.  I mean - seriously, there's enough controversy in this world, so I just want you to leave my blog with a peaceful feeling or having had a chuckle.  But I'll say this one:  Tribute, accent and ridin' music since Mr C's got that quote a little bit wrong.  :)  See Riot Kitty's comment.
  4. Most Helpful Post: How to live to be 100.  I like this advice so much that I've reposted it a few times. 
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful Post:  Thomasville, downtown and brick paved streets from January 24, 2011. This one had a lot of page views.  I like it because it features my new adopted home town - Thomasville, Georgia.  I saw a framed cross stitched piece recently that said, "Home is where my Mom is."  And so, Thomasville is a little bit home to me.  I love that downtown area, the park adjacent to the rose garden and the lovely people.
  6. Most Underrated Post:  Treat, games and lovely.  Underrated isn't quite the word because it was significant to me.  It didn't have a photo and there was only one comment, but it was the first comment I had from my darling friend Jannie Funster.  Jannie says she utilized that button at the top of the Blogger blogs that says "Next Blog" and happened upon this post. So Jannie was my first regular commenter and I know most of you because of her and seeing your comments on her blog and then others'.  Thanks Jannie Muffin!
  7. Most Pride-worthy Post:  This Is Yours, family gathering and new message - I was delighted that a rock band asked me to help them with printed props for their video.  I sent the link to the video shown in this post to my nieces and nephew and one niece reported seeing it featured on Entertainment Tonight.  :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

The big day, score and hanging of the greens

 - Thanksgiving day at my cousin's home in Fayetteville, Georgia was all that I thought it would be.  Favorite moments:  41 relatives cramming into the den to hold hands and bless the food, two little third cousins "playing the piano" and taking requests for songs, the delicious praline pumpkin cheesecake that all of us had spotted in the November issue of Southern Living.  Yum.

 - Telling my cousin how much I loved the crunchy "bread and butter" pickles and scoring a jar to bring home.  :)

- And a few minutes ago, my own hanging of the greens on my front door.  It has little white lights in it and I love walking up to my door after dark and seeing it lit up and glowing.

I've heard an awful lot about "Black Friday", but it will be golden for me.  (The time and weather app on my new computer cracked me up with its black background.) :) I have the day off and I'm about to light the fireplace and have coffee.  I hope you all have a golden weekend, too, my friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Portrait, ridin' music and Thanksgiving

- A delightful young visitor to the office drew a picture of coworker Brenda standing inside a rainbow.

- Hearing "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers on the car radio and not remembering why I love that tune in particular, just that I do.

- My cousin tells the final count for Thanksgiving dinner, 41 in all this year.   And 10 are elsewhere this year.  I am thankful for them and for all of you.  Happy Thanksgiving - even if you live outside the US.  Peace.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bounty, looking forward to that and breakfast

- My church used to share its sanctuary with a first generation Slavic congregation who met there in the afternoon; they moved into their own space a couple of years ago. But the first Sunday-before-Thanksgiving they were with us, we walked into the church that morning and found a lovely surprise; a harvest display, much like this one. Since then our chancel guild has kept the tradition alive and the food is donated to a nearby food co-op. It's always a little thrill to see it again each year.

- My big volunteer job within my church will come to an end in December. I ask the woman I took it over from two years ago if she misses it. She smiles and says, "Like my grandmother used to say, sometimes the missing is pleasant."

- There are a few sandwiches left from an evening meeting and I spot two halves of pimento cheese on the tray. I snag them - they are what's for breakfast and will be sizzling on the griddle to make the bread golden brown and the cheese melty. A little indulgence on Thanksgiving week. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Score, home for the holiday and animal haven

- I admired this fake pumpkin (one of three) on the sale counter at Rite Aid Pharmacy. They were originally $19.95, but were now half off. The manager walked by and said he'd sell all three to me for $15. I said, "How about one for $5?" Sold. :)

- A young man's face lighting up when he says he will go home to be with his family in Nashville for Thanksgiving next week.

- The new black cat at my hairdresser's home has the whimsical name of Stash Kardashian (because he looks as if he has a white mustache.) He was skittish and living in the woods before; they would just see flashes of him and their dog Bingo was always barking at him. One cold morning, his wife found Stash asleep in Bingo's bed in the salon. (He snuck in through the dog door.) She slipped in and put some canned food and water next to him and was gradually able to win his trust. They are kind and extremely fun people, so the kitty picked a good home and Bingo is relieved that he doesn't have to bark at him anymore.

I hope you encounter extreme fun and kindness this weekend, my friends. I hope it's a lovely one!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving thanks, paper turkey and protection

- The Thanksgiving card we are sending to our printing clients. A lovely idea (not mine) for a day that celebrates giving thanks and is one of my favorite days of the year because I get to see all my family at once.

- Coworker Tony helping his young granddaughter make "feathers" for her paper turkey she is to take to school. He suggested using colorful fall leaves and cutting them into feather shapes.

- He says he sent her to the fenced in back yard to get the leaves. She went to the back door, opened it and said, "Poppie?" "Yes, baby?" "It's dark out." "You'll be OK." "But what if there are raccoons out there?" "There aren't any - it's fenced in." "Poppie?" "Yes, baby?" "Will you go with me?" Me: "So did you go with her?" Of course he did. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

View from the heart tower and a lake, parts 1 & 2

- I'm having computer issues at home, so looked at old blog posts for my photo this morning. This was the view of sunrise from the "heart tower" at the Macon Medical Center is central Georgia - taken two years ago today. So lovely that heart patients (and their caregivers) get to have an uplifting view like this when they are awakened way too early.

- Niece Amanda took these two photos of the lake on the property in which she works in the Florida panhandle. I tend to think it was a sunset rather than a sunrise. She is not known for early rising.

- "Who so loves believes the impossible." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, November 11, 2011

Advertising, the main draw and bright spot

- Spotted on the way in to work yesterday morning - a line from "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" in which they were talking about alluring cologne. :) No - I didn't recognize it - I Googled. :)

- Later, while driving through the Georgia Institute of Technology, this sign. I guess they're smart hunks, too. :)

- And stopping to pick up a Cuban sandwich for lunch on the way back to the office, this sign made me chuckle. The fedora wearing owner has so much infectious enthusiasm, he makes he want to go there all the time.

Sometimes I call something that makes me chuckle a good thing (especially during a busy day like yesterday.) I hope you find lightheartedness around you this weekend, too. Have a great one!