Tuesday, March 30, 2010


For all of you who asked, here's my marshmallow recipe:
Combine 4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water, cook until candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees (long thread stage). Meanwhile, soak 4 tablespoons (or 4 packets) plain gelatin in 1 cup water for ten minutes. Pour hot syrup over the gelatin mixture. Beat with electric mixer until cool. This part takes for*ever.* I use my stand mixer and turn it on for a few minutes, then let it rest for a few minutes until the mixture is completely cool and fluffy.
Line an 11x13 baking dish with parchment paper, butter the paper and sides of the pan, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Pour the candy into the pan and let it sit overnight. Cut into squares using scissors. Roll marshmallows in more powdered sugar. These are really best within the first three days or so. Still tasty afterward, but the powdered sugar coating gets a little crispy and the marshmallows get mushy.
Here's a link to the spot where I found it originally.

There are lots of things you can do to flavor these. I used my homemade vanilla extract from Christmas - rum & vanilla beans. I've heard that you could use lemon juice instead of water to soak the gelatin. Just about any flavoring & a bit of coloring could give you lots of different, fun results. I have added orange extract & peppermint extract before, both with great success.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Back on Track

Internet is back up and running (nice and fast).
Just in time for me to go out of town.

A couple of quick things:
My grandma is doing well and is expected to come home today. She had a couple of blips in her recovery and ended up with a second surgery. We were all very scared. But she's a trooper and pulled through nicely! Go, Gram!

My in-laws don't really have internet at their house. I will be out of touch for a bit. Addict that I am, I will probably try and find a Starbucks or something that will let me plug in and keep up with you all. Fingers crossed.

Tennessee friends - yes. Friday. Next Friday. City yet-to-be-determined. If you find the time, will you send me your phone numbers? I will have my little Blackberry. I am thinking we'll solidify something early next week. I can't wait to see however many of you can make it and Emma is beside herself with the hope that she can see Chloe.


Monday, March 22, 2010


Yesterday, we celebrated my grandma's 85th birthday. It was special for so many reasons.

We ate Appaloosa beans from the farmers' market with a peppery organic arugula salad.
Mindy and I both brought our knitting and enjoyed relaxing a bit after the hard work of eating strawberry shortcake.

But really, this little guy stole the show:

He's caught Uncle Chris' eye. And he knows it.

Oh heavens.

Oh mercy.

It's a good thing I've made medically certain that I can't have any more babies. This might have just pushed me over the edge.

Oh dear. Where was I?

Oh yes. Grandma's birthday.
So, we have just finished the process of moving her into my parents' home - and though I say "we," the majority of the work has fallen to my parents. But "we" all helped and we have all enjoyed the benefits of having her nearby. My parents' house is kind of the central location for all the family activity. It's near the music studio where I teach and near Emma's school and near to both of my brothers' houses.
That means that Gma is near to all of those things now.
We see her three or four times a week now - sometimes more. She helps Emma study for her tests on Wednesday afternoons. She watches Mythbusters with Andrew. She catches me up on all the extended family news.
She is amazing.

But the thing is, today, the day after her 85th, birthday, she went into surgery. My grandma is an extraordinarily private person, thus I've chosen to not share much about her health struggles so far. But I think it's safe enough to share that she has breast cancer. She is not quite awake yet, post-surgery, and hasn't yet been given her full report, so I will not share it here. Please pray for her.

I can't believe that, in the entire evening of birthday party-ing, I did not get one really good shot of the birthday girl! But, you know, it's fitting. She has always defined herself through her family - her "self" fading into the background as she fully lives through and enjoys the people around her. My children, little Nolan, my brothers, my mom and dad - all the pictures you see here kind of are pictures of her. And I, for one, am feeling hopeful that she'll continue to be at the center of our family's adventure for some time to come.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


My Tennessee Peeps,
We are coming through Nashville next Saturday on our way up to visit Chris' family. We will also come through the following Friday on our way back home.
Anybody wanna meet up for lunch on Saturday or brunch on Friday or something? I'm totally guessing at the times, but I think that's usually about how it goes when we make the trip...

Just Kidding

Welp, I guess they didn't take care of our phone stuff yet, 'cause I've still got an internet connection. And as long as I'm connected, I might as well post some more pictures, huh?
The weather here continues to be unbelievably gorgeous. We met up with my parents and Joe, Mindy & Nolan at the downtown market.

Mindy finally has her own camera back from my evil clutches, so we did the cheesy I'm-taking-your-picture-while-you-take-mine shot:

This market wants to be a produce market,

but it's really more of a flea market.

I don't shop there often, because there are really only about two produce vendors. But I will say that what they have is really beautiful - especially right now. Spring in Florida brings our best season for fruits and veggies.
Did I just say spring?
Oh dear.
Happy Vernal Equinox, everybody.
This is the first time something-like-eight years that I totally forgot. I didn't make our birds' nest breakfast and we didn't plant anything. So far, the kids haven't noticed. I think I want to keep it that way. Perhaps I'll make it to the grocery store and manage to toss together our breakfast tomorrow. And perhaps I'll tell them a little white lie - that tomorrow is the equinox. Don't tell anybody, okay?
Then again, perhaps I'll let it slide. We have a lot going on and they're getting bigger...
Ah, but mother guilt will probably keep me from doing that. It's the worst.

Also today was Andrew's band MPA, which is the special day of the year that brings judgment on all young musicians. The symphonic bands play for a panel of judges and receive a rating - Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor.

Chris and I pretended to be real adults and chaperoned. We even got to ride on the bus (yippee!), but they didn't let us make out in the back seat or anything, so, it wasn't as much fun as it could have been.
The band did pretty well - their performance was rated as Excellent and their sight-reading was Superior.

And now I take my leave. I have to decide whether to celebrate this dang Equinox tomorrow and if I do, I still have to go to the store to get all the stuff.

Friday, March 19, 2010


We have a busy weekend ahead of us and I am about to go offline for a couple of days, due to a switch in internet & phone service (we're getting rid of our land line). But I wanted to leave you with a few images from my day.
Emma had a half day of school, so we both met Dad for lunch.

She and I rode around in my brother's big ol' truck with the windows down and our hair blowing in the wind. Also, I loved the little red doodles on her fists.

Daily Bliss: the gorgeous weather!
Wake-up Playlist: Zombie, The Cranberries

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The panorama assignment for my class this week ended up being pretty simple and totally fun. I had a great time trying to pick out things that would offer a different-looking perspective if put into one large image. I mean it. It was fun.
I learned a few things too. You can't really know how these images are going to turn out until you try a few, so there are definitely things I would do differently if I were going to re-shoot - I'd be more careful about lining up the middle of the image and I'd be mindful of catching a little bit extra outside the bounds of what I wanted in the image, because once they're all stitched together, you end up cropping out a lot.
I also learned that I like Photoshop's panorama tool way better than the one I found for The Gimp. Maybe there's more out there for Gimp, but I don't know. I'm going to have to find out because - wow. It's a really big difference.
Wanna see what I did? As with the previous sample, know that these are re-sized to fit on the ol' blog here, and if you click on them you will see them a little bigger (but not nearly as big as the original file).

Of course, you saw the budgies. This one's just a little bit different than the first, but not much.

But there are cabbages too.

And I took a picture of this cool building top downtown:

This was an off-the-cuff one inside a fabric store that I loved:

Finally, here's Mindy sitting and gazing up and up and up:


Well, you know that little "vintage red satin robe" that's been sitting in my projects sidebar for, like, a year and a half now?
I finished it yesterday and I love it!
It's not perfect by any means, but it feels very glamorous - just like I'd hoped. Mindy & Nolan were over for a visit this morning, so I asked her to take a few pictures so I could show it to you.

I'm not going to lie - this was a really hard project to sew. Last year, when I started on it, I think I had to re-do the yoke three or four times. There are pockets, which I love, but were kind of hard too. But what I really love are the puffy sleeves.

And the back yoke is pretty too.
And somewhere around this time, Mr. Nolan decided that this robe should not be getting all of the attention. So, what else could I do? I had to play with him.

In conclusion, this robe is perfect for wearing while making pancakes, drinking coffee, lounging on the sofa and also getting baby kisses. And I'm so glad it's done.

By the way, guess what happened today? My camera came to my house! My eyes were stinging with tears and it was better than three Christmases put together. I am not even kidding. My dad asked me what would be the first thing I'd photograph with it and I was stumped. I was trying to think of something cool. I felt like there should be some ceremony, some pomp and circumstance, some inaugural photographic adventure...
but what ended up happening was that I popped the lens on it, inserted the battery and started taking pictures of whatever was around me, which was mostly my dog. She's always around me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sew...What's New

Sorry for that ultra-cheesy title. I haven't finished my coffee yet this morning, but I wanted to catch you up on a few projects that have been going on around here.
I told some of you last week that I'd made a nightie out of a shower curtain and refashioned a men's dress shirt into a ruffly one.
Then some of you asked for pictures.
Then I told some of you I'd have some on the blog this weekend.
I was very wrong.
So, time has gone by this week and I have been waiting for the perfect moment to take some photos - you know, good lighting, a nice backdrop and a tripod. I guess I wanted to prove that I'm a good photographer by only having great photos on this blog or something.
Anyway, that perfect moment never happened and I just took a few snapshots this morning.
I give you the ruffly shirt from a men's shirt:

I just sort of winged it on this one. I took a couple of measurements on myself and started cutting. Winging it is hard for me. I can only manage it while holding my breath and squinting my eyes shut. That made it hard to cut straight.
Anyway, I made the bias tape trim myself out of some pretty toile-ish fabric scraps I had laying around and tucked a little crocheted lace into them as well to pretty things up a bit,

and then I added ruffles down each side of the button placket, made from strips of fabric from the sleeves that I'd cut off. Next time I'll do the ruffles before the bias tape, but like I said, I was winging it. Evidence that I was winging it includes the seventy-four seams per side that it took to attach the ruffles. Don't look too close, okay?

Next, I leveled off the bottom and opened side vents at the seam - you know, to accommodate my mamma-sized hips, but I left the embroidered brand name intact. I think it's kind of a nice homage to the whole idea of re-using.

And now, here's the shower curtain nightie, morning hair and all:

I had some really soft lace that made the perfect, simple straps and yoke.

I applied a second layer of the embroidered edging to the bottom, but I left the seam on the outside, unfinished, so it would fray a little bit.

I never want to take the nightie off! I've had the shower curtain saved for a couple of years now with the intent to make a nightie from it in mind from the start. As a matter of fact, when I bought it, I said to myself that it would make a beautiful nightie and I would do that with it when I replaced the shower curtain. So, this project has been five or six years in the making. I'm so glad I finally got around to it.
I have a couple of new, knitted hats to, but no pictures just yet. I'm busy de-stashing in all departments of my crafting supplies.


Hopefully, this will help me prioritize the things I want to make - and hopefully, bring a slew of new "see-what-I-made" posts to share with you :)

Daily Bliss: my little nephew, visiting me and wearing a hand-knitted (by his mommy) hat with ears on it
Wake-up Playlist: Uprising, Muse

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Things

that are making me happy right now:

1) candy for dinner
2) my camera, jiggling around in its box, on a truck, coming to my house.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's Growing

I learned a lot about gardening last year.
A whole, whole lot.
Mostly, I learned that I'm not very good at it. Gardening in Florida requires discipline and fungicide, pest control and vigilance against root rot and I'm not good with a lot of those things.
But, I needed to try again and so far, things are going swimmingly in spite of this winter and spring being some of the worst for tomatoes. That is gospel truth, straight from my tomato guy - he has over 300 varieties of tomatoes all in various stages of growth! And so, I give you wee tomatoes:

Here's a tomato from the previous season that I had all but given up on.

He lost almost all his branches to what I thought was powdery mildew or something like it, but I've kept watering him and now he has new sprouts and even a few blossoms! That's enough to instill a bit of hope in this admittedly ability-challenged gardener.
We also have pretty rows of beets,

a few cucumber seedlings hanging out by the big plants until they get a more permanent home,

mustard greens and lettuces growing in my formerly-upside-down-tomato pots (I seem to do better with 'maters when they're right-side-up),

orange blossoms,

and blueberry bushes - a hedge of baby ones that Chris and I planted in honor of our 15th anniversary (don't mind all the weeds creeping up on this little one - it's been very rainy and they shall be eradicated as quickly as they sprang up).

Oh - and I have mint and thyme in a box together, getting along just fine with each other so far.

We also have peas growing everywhere, but I don't have a photo of them. They don't always do well this far south, but I bought a packet of seeds for, like, a dollar, so I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

Here's hoping!