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!