Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Page

A new moon graces the landscape, but not to be seen amidst the rain in the Pacific northwest. As we bid adieu to 2009, thoughts may turn to a year of many things: failure - accomplishment, risk - reward, sickness - good health, sadness - joy, family and friends, and one of having met many new and wonderful people. Thank you all for that which we have shared; for me it has been an inspiration, and I look forward to getting to know you better.

Tomorrow we turn a page... one that is blank.

Each of us will decide what it is that we will write. May 2010 bring us a clearer vision of who we are and what we are about. I hope each day finds me a better person, and may we live in a world of peace.

We wish you a New Year of good health and much Joy!

"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world. " ~ Mother Teresa

P.S. Tonight there will be a New Year's Eve Blue Moon, (second time in a calendar month for a full moon), the first since 1990. It is an extraordinary event since another New Year's Eve Blue Moon will not occur until 2028. We hope you can see it wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why Did I Do This

My husband and I have reaped the benefit of having planted Red seed potatoes and Yukon Golds several years ago. Both keep reappearing and it has kept us well supplied and with little work effort, digging them during harvest time.

Well, I shall blame Thomas at A Growing Tradition, for what I just did. It seems much of his writing this month has focused on his winter vegetable garden, new catalogs and seed orders. He led me here and that writing got me excited about planting potatoes in pots, which then caused me to go here and place an order.

Ronninger's seed potatoes all sound delightful, but I limited my purchase to the smallest quantities of (4) four: Purple Viking, a Russian Banana and Rose Finn fingerling, and Dakota Rose. I am not sure what we will do with all of these potatoes... right, share them as we do all our other vegetables... but they should produce one beautiful array of color. I am excited.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Icy Fog

Rather than post a number of photos on this page, I thought it would be fun to put together this slide show of pictures taken Christmas day and the day after. We have no snow, only a continuation of freezing temperatures and an icy fog, but during the day as the sun breaks through and bathes the ice formations upon the tree branches, we listen to the beautiful music of the shower of shimmering crystals falling in surround sound.

(music: Mozart, "Ave verum corpus" K 618 adagio)

Holiday Appetizers

Here are two of the items we made this holiday season. Simple to make and enjoyed by all.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese

- Dates (preferably already pitted)
- Blue cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Bacon, slices cut in half

Partially cook the bacon for a few minutes in the microwave; remove and drain on paper towels. Make a slit in the top of the date and push the blue cheese into the pocket. Close the date tightly and wrap with a 1/2 slice of bacon, secure with a toothpick, and place in an iron skillet or other oven-proof pan. Bake at 450º F for about 5-6 minutes, then turn and continue cooking until bacon is done.

(Note: Consider soaking the toothpicks in water prior to using in order to prevent burning.)

Cranberry Baked Brie

- 1 wheel brie cheese
- almonds (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup cranberry sauce/spread
- apples, sliced
- pears, sliced (Comice were available and juicy)
- crackers (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrapping from brie wheel and using a sharp knife, remove the rind from the top of the wheel (except for about 1/4 inch on the edge). Place the brie on an oven baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the cranberry sauce (see below) over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 12-15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate. Garnish, and serve warm with sliced fruit or crackers if you prefer.

(Note: If the Comice pears are not fully ripe, allow them to sit on the counter-top for several days prior to using to ensure that you get that juicy pear for which these are so well known.
The next time I make this I may add sliced almonds atop the brie, then cover with the cranberries.)

Quick Cranberry Spread

3 cups Cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dried Cranberries, diced
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1/8 tsp ground
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly and until most of the berries pop. Remove, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready for use. It makes a nice thick spread and can be made days ahead.

Here is another Cranberry recipe you might enjoy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Alaska, Final Days

How did I let this slip by? We had dinner several weeks ago with friends with whom we spent our last few days in Alaska, and I realized I had not completed the final piece of our journey. How time does fly. (be sure to click and enlarge the photos)

Friday, July 24, 2009: By 6 a.m. we had safely docked in Seward after having traveled 1748 nautical miles. Our voyage began in Vancouver to Ketchikan, Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Sitka - Day 6 With Friends, Hubbard Glacier, Hubbard Glacier... For This Is Love, and the next several days would be enjoyed with friends who would be waiting when we disembarked.

8:45 a.m. and there they were, Melanie and Jerry and their beautiful smiling faces. One stop along the way to stretch our legs, and in several hours we arrived at their fishing camp on the Kenai. As we gazed upon people gathered around the campfires, eating, talking, mingling along the water's edge, and on more than one occasion, we heard Jerry say, "it's all about the river", and that river and Alaska provided wonderful offerings (which became our delicious meals) of red salmon, razor clams and halibut cheeks. Does it get any better than that?

First morning on land: while taking a shower I suddenly realized my feet were squared for balance just as I had done the previous 6 days, for I felt the continuing rock of the ship, the to and fro, "sea legs" they call it, a phenomena that took several days to subside. I laughed! It doesn't take much to amuse, now does it?

The Fish Camp

Summer is over in Alaska, so it is told,
when the blossom of the Fireweed reaches the top.

The boyz are back from fishin'. With heads down and grinning faces, it looks as though they arrived empty handed. To offer this on their behalf: it so happened the rising river was near flood stage that day and coupled by the swiftness of its flow, few fish were caught by anyone on the river... but they were still goin' fishin'!

Around the campfire after a hard day's work...
and Dale, thank you too for being such a wonderful host

The Kenai River runs through Soldotna.
(click to enlarge the photo to see the people fishing at the shoreline.)

July 27: Following several days of rain, the sky selected blue for the day's color, and prior to boarding our flight, we would have a few hours to enjoy the Russian Orthodox Church, a lunch at Veronica's across the street, and a stop to see the dip-netting by people who lined the shore. All you need is a long-handled pole, net, waders and into the water you go. Here is a good explanation of the annual event.

We had a most memorable time with our friends!
and the next time we go to Alaska, I'm goin' fishin' .

Kenai to Anchorage to Seattle and homeward bound

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Train Station WINNER!

About The Train Station:
I have always been attracted to buildings with character,
those rooted in America and that could chronicle many tales. Abandoned two-story farm homes, old weathered barns, covered bridges, and this station I frequented, all fill me with intrigue. I love the simplicity of line in this rendering, the solitude, and of course its historic value, and this was an attempt at preserving my memories of it on canvas.

I have received so much joy from doing this, and thank you all for your kind and generous comments, so appreciated. Ever so heartwarming are the stories some of you shared, the connection with family members whose lives were intertwined with trains and the railroad industry. My family too has those nostalgic ties.

So without further adieu, drum roll please, drrrrrrrrr........ out of the hat... Congratulations to Annie's Granny from Annie's Kitchen Garden!

Oh, let's draw a few more. Yes, we have Phillip of Dirt Therapy! Liisa of Green Mountain Gardener, George of A Nod Is As Good As A Wink, and last but not least and from way across the pond, it's Liz of Nutty Gnome!

Now that was fun. Thank you all for participating! Would the five of you please contact me with your mailing information.

(Friday morning note: I wrote this post Thursday in anticipation of having it ready for today and saved it to 'draft'. Once the winners were revealed this morning and in my excitement to get it published, I forgot to copy it to a 'new post', thus the Thursday date. Sometimes life is so hard. lol)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


While looking through some photos this morning I came across this Christmas gift to me several years ago from our granddaughter. The packaged bulb had displayed a beautiful pure white amaryllis, but to our surprise following months of anticipation, this is the joy we were given. Believe it or not, from this simple photo blossomed these morning thoughts.

Life brings about many unexpected things and how we deal with those determines our disappointment or happiness. One of Thomas Carlyle's (1795-1881) passages I most recall from my college studies of British prose and poetry is one in which he likens happiness to a mathematical equation:

"So true is it, that I once said that the fraction of life can be increased in value not so much by increasing your Numerator as by lessening your Denominator. Nay, unless my Algebra deceive me, Unity itself divided by zero will give Infinity. Make thy claim of wages a zero, then; thou has the world under thy feet."

If we expect nothing and get something, does that not yield happiness? Does disappointment not stem from expectation? Some people spend much time thinking that their world would look differently, they could be happier, if only I had a bigger car, a nicer house, more clothes, prettier legs, another day... rather than being thankful and finding the good in that moment.

A few thoughts on happiness:

Finding it can only begin through awareness of oneself, for that is the only thing we can define. Understand our tendencies and who we are, for it is self-knowledge that provides the greater compass.

Love first oneself and with that love flows.

Do not allow others to define who we are, and understand and accept that we cannot control either another person, their thoughts or situations.

Once we realize that a bad circumstance could have been worse, we are ever so thankful. How often has a mistake made, been an actual blessing received? When was the last time you heard yourself say
'it was meant to be'?

Self-examination is easier said than done and involves understanding not just our strengths but especially our weaknesses, that which requires total honesty on our part.

I am thankful for the progress I have made over the years, but I still have struggles and pray for better acceptance.

I am human and therefore make mistakes and will be the first to apologize.

We begin each day by being thankful, for each little thing we see and experience, from the moment our feet hit the ground to when they lift at the close of the day; we tell one another I love you the first thing in the morning and the last thing as we close our eyes.

I believe we as artists have a head start (and I define artist as this creative community of people) for we capture and present the beauty of our moments: a photo of ice crystals formed on a pane of glass, a nuthatch foraging the seeds of thyme, the winds breathe upon the blades of grass, a hawk perched in anticipation, a recipe revealed from a family tradition, the beauty of a meal just prepared, photos and stories of families shared...

At this moment, happiness for me is the mistaken color of this beautiful flower, the thoughts of our granddaughter and those I share with you.

Don't forget to put your name in the hat should you be interested in "The Train Station" print, a gift from me to you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Morning Moments

a glimmer of sun soon turned to gray
should it now submit to rain

Don't forget to put your name in the hat should you be interested in "The Train Station" print, a gift from me to you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Gift For You

In the spirit of Christmas and the holidays I'd like to do something fun and put a smile on someone's face. Additionally it was exactly 3 years ago (December 13, 2006) that I entered the cyber world with my first blog and discussions on many things, a potpourri of economic and stock market issues... what was I thinking?... genealogy, travel, garden... and from that evolved my Voice In The Garden. So this is a gift from me to you. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? ;)

Some years ago I had a Limited Edition made from several of my paintings. They are hand signed and numbered, and I thought it would be fun to give away one of the fine art prints. Art is a very personal thing and therefore not everyone is interested in "The Train Station", and for many this theme would not suit their decor. However, should you have an interest in participating in the drawing, simply state "put my name in the hat" or something similar.

Image size......................... 20 5/8" by 17"
Paper size ......................... 25" x 22"

Unmatted and unframed
on museum quality acid free paper

Based on original oil 34" x 28"

Leave a comment by Friday, December 19 and a winner will be chosen at random. I will mail it right after Christmas.

This is my way of saying thank you for being such a wonderful community of thoughtful people and bringing added joy to my life.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ice To Freezing Rain

We are tucked in to fog and drizzle and icy conditions,
but rain is on the way.