Monday, December 31, 2007

Knitting Gifts

I had the whole family over for dinner the other night and each one got - for better or worse - a hand-knitted gift. I think they really liked them!

Number one son got a pair of Wool-Ease socks for boots or around the house.

Wife of #1 son got a pair of fingerless gloves. They were a quick and yummy knit in pure wool.

Son #2 also got a pair of Wool Ease socks for lounging at home in cold weather.

Wife of son #2 got some groovy socks in a beautiful Sockotta yarn from Italy. She was with me when I bought this yarn and thought it looked deliciously retro. It did and it worked up beautifully.

My only daughter got a nice pair of Superwash socks that go equally well with denim or khaki. These should keep her toes nice and warm this winter.

There was an extra gift for DIL #2. She had given me some yarn that she bought in hopes of learning to knit but discovered that she just doesn't have the patience for it. No matter. I made her a cap and scarf out of the yarn, mixed with some nice green and neutral cream ribbon yarn for contrast.

The grandkids love it when "Nonna" makes them things, so here are their winter slippers for this year. I'm a bit worried about how "slick" they are, but the boys love "sliding" in them. Hmmmm.....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weight Loss Surgery Article Series

As I said recently, my new obsession is writing Web Articles. I am learning how to write for the web better all the time. Meanwhile, based on my own experience, I have written a series about having Weight Loss Surgery. This is not the personal story, rather it is what you need to consider and what you can expect if you choose to go through the process. Here are the links if you would like to read more.

So, You're Considering Weight Loss Surgery
So You Want to Pursue Weight Loss Surgery
A Guide To Getting Ready for Weight Loss Surgery
So You've Had Weight Loss Surgery: The Physical Aspect
So You've Had Weight Loss Surgery: The Mental Aspect

There's a lot of practical information here. If you are even thinking about Weight Loss Surgery, please take a few minutes to read these articles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hey Hollywood, Step Away From the Fat Suit

There are real fat people who can play the part
(article by starrgirl on Associated Content)

copyright free photo from

As if there weren't already a long line of celebs packing on the artificial pounds, guess who is the latest to join the fray? Right behind Tyra, Gwenyth, Meg, Julia, Eddie Murphy, Tim Allen and Courtney, the news was leaked this week in E! Magazine and various news outlets that none other than Tom Cruise is making a cameo in the movie Tropic Thunder as a bald, flabby fat guy. On the heels of that leak, Tom's attorneys have stepped in to prevent any contraband photos from being published prior to the movie's release. What's the matter, Tommy? Running out of publicity stunts?

The Spin Machine says that Tom was doing this bit part as a surprise for his fans. The bad news is that the Fat Suit has been done. To death. Shallow Hal said it all.

So, Hollywood. What's up with being Fat For A Day? Do you really think a celebrity can capture the experience of being morbidly obese by donning a latex suit and waddling around in it for a few hours? Is the viewing audience going to be enlightened about obesity by watching a normally thin and glamorous person suffer the humiliation that a fat person lives with every day? Of course not.

First of all, it isn't real. It's publicity. Publicity for the media star, not real fat people. Second, it's misleading. Padding up with an exta hundred pounds or so is not like getting fat over time. The person who becomes obese over many years has grown into the situation. They move with the gait and cadence of one who has had to adjust to growing girth. Their self confidence has been worn to a thin veneer. A fat person knows in every fiber of their being that they are unacceptable to society because they have suffered the misery and slights of fat discrimination every day.

In contrast, the would-be "social enlightener" has endured a few hours of uncomfortable makeup. They venture out into the world in a costume - a fat costume that is neither natural or believable. They bring their own stereotypical impressions to the performance. Have you ever seen a celebrity in a fat suit made up to look attractive? No, they take on the supposed misery and frumpiness that further displays their own fat-phobia. They wear ugly clothes and big glasses. They order lots of food. They recoil in disgust when they do not get their usual preferential treatment and admiring glances. Oh, the horror.

It's time for Hollywood types to step away from the fat suit. It's one thing for a movie character to reflect weight changes while playing a legitimate part. It's another to exploit a large section of the population. If it is entertainment news when a "model" from the show Deal or No Deal puts on a fat suit, what message does that send? Why isn't a real fat person doing that news story?

Fat people do not need anyone calling superficial attention to obesity. We all know that the best way to be invisible and ignored in today's society is to be fat. What kind of revelation is that? Big whoop. Did we really need to see Tyra or the Deal model be disregarded on the street or in a fancy shop for being fat? No, we need to see them endure a job interview or go on a date - after wearing the fat suit for three months. Then contrast that with the skinny gal who gets the job or the date with less than half the qualifications. We need to see them try to fit into an airplane seat and sit bolt upright without touching their seat-mate during a three hour flight. We need to see them put their entire lives on hold while desperately trying to lose weight on every diet and exercise program that comes along, while knowing that doesn't work for the majority of long-term morbidly obese people.

The fat suit is not a funny gag. It's old news.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the latest in knitting

I've been busy knitting up some items for the family. With winter coming, I wanted to make each of the grandkids a scarf and hat. The boys got earflap hats and keyhole scarves - the kind where you pull one end through a slit on the opposite side. These made up pretty quickly.

Grandson number one got green:

Grandson number two is blue:

The princess granddaughter got a keyhole scarf and a cap with wooden star buttons:

And her favorite bear got a coordinating sweater:

My daughter reports that the kids already wore them out to play even though it isn't terribly cold yet. That brought a smile to my face.

Well, now I'm writing articles..

I admit it - my hobby is hobbies. If it's something creative, I've probably tried it or wanted to. Lately, it's writing. I joined a writing forum called Associated Content to get some practice and a little spare change. I thought I'd link to some of the articles for those who check my blog.

Here's how it works. I'll print a bit of the article here and a link at the bottom if you want to read the rest. If you do click to read more, it registers a page view for me. Even better, you can rate my article if you like by clicking on the stars at the top. And you can be honest - no one knows which star you clicked on. There's also room for comments after the article just like there is here. I hope you'll come and visit when you can.

This is one of my first articles. It's a bit long (I'm learning to condense already), so I'll just print some of it.

Celebrity Worship - Are You Part of This Madness?
10 Celebs that I Wish Would Disappear

One of the most famous signs in the world, and iconic image of an industry.
Credit: Rich DuBose

Celebrity worship is not a new phenomenon, but it has soared to new heights and become its own culture. Hollywood-style entertainment started out as a nice diversion for the normal person who wanted to relax and see a movie on the weekend. Now you can't turn on the TV or walk past a newsstand without being assaulted by the media darlings.

Exactly what constitutes a celebrity these days? Surprisingly, very little. There is no longer a prerequisite for having talent or making a difference in society. I admire those who do have these qualifications, but really, all it takes now is to be found charming on a reality show or to have an extravagant lifestyle where you are on exhibit for your abilities to party with the A List. No need to worry about a few drugs or a bit of jail time - all that can be fixed with a well-paid publicist and the fans will continue to hunger for what happens next. What kind of credentials are these??

We need to take a good, reflective look at ourselves to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. Celebrities exist because we make them who they are. If we quit paying attention right now, eventually they would cease to exist. If we pay no mind to their drug problems or buy their products, we can have an effect on this epidemic of celebrity poisoning. Who are these people anyway? We don't really know them. All we know is how they are presented by the media. We watch them rise and then we watch them fall. We watch them spend their money and we watch them go through rehab like it's nothing but a revolving door. Is that what you want your children and grandchildren to emulate? That's not what I want.

What I want is for ten of these overexposed creatures to disappear.
(to find out which ten, click here)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Flower surprise

My daughter has a lovely habit of surprising me with flowers. This was the smaller of two bouquets I came home to the other day. There it was, perched in the kitchen window like a jewel, saying "welcome home".

How nice it is to come home and have a greeting waiting for you!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Beaux's Legacy

It's been a rough couple weeks. I recently found out that I am severely allergic to my new dog and I have had to give him up. I can't believe how hard this has been.

I've always had bad allergies but they had abated dramatically in recent years. I didn't even take allergy medicine any more. AND, I've had dogs over the years. Family dogs. Strays. Pets that came along as my family grew. I had some allergy problems then, but I took pills and got along ok. And when all the pets were gone or out of the house, my allergies did take a big leap for the better. Overall, it didn't seem like a very big deal.

Soooooooo, I started thinking about getting a pet of my very own about a year ago. I waivered a lot about it. I mean, it is a commitment of both time and money and I would never get a pet that ended up living alone. And I considered my allergies. How compromising could it be?

I researched "non-allergenic" dogs - there is no such thing for the truly allergic - and I knew that. BUT, you can stack the deck and that is what I decided to do. I spent months thinking about it before I looked at actual dogs. And then, when I started really looking, I decided I would do a rescue. So many dogs are abandoned that it is heartbreaking and if I could give just one a home, then that is what I wanted to do.

Meanwhile, both my oldest son and my daughter rescued dogs. It wasn't something we talked about - it was just coincidence. I visited the shelter where my son had adopted a dog. Oh my, it was awful! I was looking for a bichon or poodle or maltese or mix of those based on my allergies and there were none of those at the shelter. There WERE lots of beautiful dogs and when I walked past the cages and looked into their eyes I just started to cry. I so admire the volunteers at the shelter as they are doing what I could not do when it comes to these animals. I knew I couldn't even go back to the shelter to look again.

So I got online and searched for rescues in my area. That was easy and soon I located a bichon-poodle mix named Oscar that I wanted to see. I filled out the application and made an appointment. Wisely, the rescue group brought THREE dogs for me to see based on my preferences. I was surprised by that, but here is how it worked out...

Me and Oscar didn't click. But me and "Snow" did! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Snow greeted me at the gate and hung right by me as I walked over to Oscar. Oscar was not interested at all. I held Oscar and he was stiff and uncomfortable. He wanted down so I put him down. When I offered to hold Snow, he jumped into my lap and buried his head in my elbow. After petting him for a while, he looked up at me with pure adoration. I was totally thrown off by this. I never considered myself a "dog person". I know people who are and I sometimes think they are over the top about their pets. I mean, c'mon. Pets are not children. They're animals.

But as I sat and held Snow, my heart began to melt. It felt so odd that I put him down and coaxed Oscar back onto my lap. Again, Oscar was anxious and I put him down. Snow leaped back into my arms. The rescue ladies looked at each other and grinned. "What do you think?" Melody asked me. I looked down at Snow and replied, "I think I like this one." We all smiled.

Snow was still scheduled to be neutered, so I had to wait two more weeks to get him. That was fine as I had not purchased any doggie supplies - I hadn't been sure I would really come home with a dog. And so I stood at the fence and watched Snow run and play for a bit longer before I left. I felt a strange tug at my heart as I admired the bounce in his step. Snow was oddly regal in how he was pure white and how he pranced as he ran or walked. I felt a very strong connection to this dog.

Yes, I had had dogs before, but never "my own dog". You know, the way you think of your "own dog" when you are a kid. One that likes you better than anyone and would drag you from a burning house if he had to. I had enjoyed the dogs our family had over the years, but I sometimes wondered if I liked the IDEA of a dog better than the real responsibility of a dog. Suddenly, I was very excited about a particular dog - Snow.

I spent the following two weeks getting ready. I bought doggie beds, organic dog food, toys, treats, towels to go on my furniture in each room that could be washed because of my allergies, and even a doggie car seat. I was feeling a little silly, but also excited to go get this dog that seemed so perfect for me. I wondered if I was having some sort of delusion over being single and having an empty nest for so long. Was this normal??

Oh yes, it was. My daughter and her family went with me to pick up Snow and he got in the car with us like he was expecting us all along. I had intended to name him "Jaxon" after perusing about a million dog names, but on the way home, we all decided that that name didn't really fit him. We brainstormed and came up with Beaux - the French spelling, of course. He had that regal look, and it was close to the name Snow, so he should adapt to it pretty quickly. He did. And here he is...

Beaux was super-affectionate from the start. I wasn't sure of his potty-training, even though he was an adult dog, because he was out of a puppy mill and had lived in a cage. I tethered him when I couldn't watch him and took him out often. We took a lot of walks. He was perfect and within a few days he had the run of the house when I was home. After a couple weeks he had the run of the house even when I wasn't home. He never had a single accident.

It was fun to come home at lunch and at the end of the day and have someone so excited to see me! Beaux literally stuck to my side and showed me total allegience. We began to do some obedience training and he was a quick study. In a few weeks he would do the following commands: Sit, Down, Stay, Shake, Paw & Pattycake. Every day we worked on his obedience and I brushed his hair. I got very little hair out of him, but he liked the grooming and I figured it would keep him from leaving any hair on the furniture. Twice I bathed him (with my own shampoo) and he was a perfect sport about it. I blow-dried his hair and gave him a puppy trim and he was gorgeous.

I also took him out of town with me twice. He was a very good guest and everyone marvelled at how he followed me around. No one could entice him away from me, which made me secretly very happy. At last I had that childhood dream of a dog who loved me best and spurned all others. I never said that out loud, of course, but when Beaux and I looked each other in the eyes, we knew.....

Just as Beaux and I were settling into our daily routine, I realized I was having problems. I did not connect it to him, but I had been having a rash for several weeks that would come and go with no evident provocation. I wondered if I had become allergic to one of my supplements or prescriptions. I stopped all medications and began to test them one at a time. I had a pretty bad reaction after taking iron one day and thought that might be the culprit. In fact, I broke out in hives and when my lips started to swell, I left work and drove straight to the doctor's office. I was taken right in and given a steroid injection, a steroid dose pack, a prescription antihistimine and an inhaler. Doc told me not to take any more iron - I could get iron shots if I needed them. I was temporarily better but not for long.

Two days later, another severe breakout sent me to the hospital where I got oxygen and a prescription for an "epipen" - an emergency syringe of epinephrine that will help you breathe until help arrives. This was getting scary.

The next day, Beaux licked my neck in the morning and as I was getting ready for work, the place on my neck began to progress into hives. "oh no.....", I thought, "it cannot be the dog...."

Long story short - it was the dog. Believe me, we continued to test other things and clean up my environment in every way we could, but to no avail. It was the dog. I was heartsick. I had had Beaux for only six weeks, but it seemed like a perfect match. Friends and family commented "that dog LOVES you!" and I had to agree in wonder. I had never felt such a connection to an animal and was even a bit embarrassed by his total and complete admiration. Now, suddenly, it was over. Beaux had to be removed from my home with no notice because I was having trouble breathing. I could not believe this was happening and I knew the dog would not understand. I was devastated.

After a couple days, I was still breaking out, but I felt I should go "test" an exposure to Beaux. It was predictably bad. Hives upon hives broke out for hours, long after I was back home and away from the dog. I changed my clothes and showered and washed my hair and eventually it calmed down. Still, I broke out each day for a couple more days.

In a few more days, I went to visit Beaux just to be sure one more time. I was a wreck from missing him so much and he whined and cried as I petted him and brushed out his hair. I cried, too. When it was time to leave, my son distracted the dog with food and I snuck out. After I left, Beaux went to the door and cried some more. My son and daughter-in-law only told me this so that I would know how much the dog misses me as well. They did not want me to feel worse, but they wanted me to know than I am missed. That means a lot to me.

And so, I am now helping the rescue group find a new home for Beaux. Thankfully, Melody completely understands and is extremely compassionate about this situation. And I have gotten some promising calls from ones who might adopt Beaux and give him a loving home. That's the only thing that makes me feel the slightest bit better about this entire mess. In time, Beaux will bond with someone who loves him as much as I did and he will not remember me. That is a good thing.

For me, I will never forget the most unconditional love I have ever experienced in my life. I will never forget the black, black eyes that looked up at me as if to say "are you still there? I just can't believe it!!" I will not forget Beaux's utter excitement to see me come home or to reach for his leash and go for a walk. I will not forget how Beaux was ecstatic to jump into the car and go for a ride. He was happy just being with me and no - I will not forget that.

I will miss you Beaux. I wish for you a happy, loving new home where you will be a loyal companion and you will be loved for who you are. You were my best beaux ever...

Monday, October 08, 2007

more about Beaux

I know, I know ~~ I have joined the ranks of the insufferably adoring pet-owners. Who knew it could still happen?? I am beyond the "blush of youth", yet a worthy companion has come along...

and lo and behold he is a dog......

When I was a kid and an acquaintance of mine acquired a dog and treated it like a child, I was disgusted beyond measure. I thought the woman was insane. I'd like to think I would still be of that opinion.

However, I can certainly understand it a lot more now. Beaux is my new beaux. How nice it is to have such a generous spirit greet you at the end of the work day and be so glad to see you come home - like you are such a genius for doing so! And should you also want to go for a walk? Well then, you are a superhero for being so brilliant! Just around the block? No problem ~~ you are the one and only one I would want to do that with!!

Let me tell you ~ no toddler and no teenager ever gave feedback such as this. I like being "alpha". And I think I could get used to it!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Snow" is "Beaux" and he is perfect!!

My new pooch is home and settled in! Gosh, I cannot say enough good about this dog!! First of all, I have changed his name from "Snow" to "Beaux" (french spelling of course, to honor his heritage) and he is as darn near perfect as can be!! Really, you cannot argue with how intelligent this breed is, and he has proved to be the smartest and most loving dog ever. What a treat!! Not to mention that he is a purebred, snow-white miniature poodle with excellent conformation and unparalleled carriage. He literally "prances" when he runs!

I picked him up last Friday evening and took my daughter and her husband and kids along. Snow was an absolute peach. Even though he had been "fixed" earlier that day, he let the kids pet him and sit beside him and walk him and even brush him! He was so patient. And he was so good that I stayed for dinner with my daughter's family. We ordered pizza and Beaux just sat at my feet under the table while we ate. (We had re-named him on the way home and that was the name that we ALL agreed on.) Immediately my daughter wanted to trade me for the rowdy puppy she is working with in her own household. No way!! Beaux is mine!!

And so we have had an extremely pleasant weekend. Beaux has shadowed me both in the house and out in the yard. He loves to ride in the car. He listens and learns fast and has not had an "accident" even though he is learning a new environment. He is affectionate and appreciative and such a great companion. All who have met him so far want to steal him away from me, but I know he wouldn't go!! I'm so pleased with his temperament and I'm so happy to have taken a "rescue" that needed a home. Sometimes I feel like I could be a "rescue" myself, so having Beaux to keep me company now is a wonderful thing. I truly appreciate the efforts of the rescue ladies who found Beaux and fostered him until I could take him in.

If you are thinking of a new best friend of the canine variety, won't you please look into a rescue?? Go to to find a needy animal in your area. Chances are there will be a pet that needs you even more than you need him/her. And if you get in contact with the rescues in your area, a pet that is the breed you need for your lifestyle will come along sooner or later. Please do support your local pet rescue operations.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

my new best friend

Meet Snow. He is a 4 year old purebred miniature poodle with a snow-white coat. He is also a rescue dog in the Dayton Ohio area. I met him this morning.

I actually had the appointment to meet a different dog, but the rescue ladies were smart enough to bring several dogs that I might be interested in after interviewing me. I am so glad they did!! Oscar, the dog I thought I wanted, had little interest in me and vice versa. But Snow came right up and introduced himself and sat on my lap and let me know he'd like to come home with me. Even when the other dogs were running and playing, he sat with me and didn't leave to join the action until I put him down. He chose me first, so how can I not choose him??

He isn't quite ready to be adopted. He needs neutered and he needs some dental care while he's under anesthetic, so I will go back and pick him up later this month. That gives me time to get ready for him and buy the things he'll need to feel at home. I'm so glad to have found him! He is such an elegant little guy. He "prances" when he runs and he buries his head into my elbow when I am petting him on my lap. He's so smart and affectionate and we will be good buddies, I'm sure.

But about the name, Snow. I can see how that name was given, and the rescue lady says he has been resistant to having his name changed. So I'm thinking of "Beau" since it sounds a lot like what he is used to. But I'm more partial to "Jaxon", and "Jax" for short if he will get used to it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. And I could change my mind again before I go and get him! What do you think???


It's the hottest new knitting community on the web. I waited until I posted a knitting blog to sign up, which was just a few minutes ago, and then checked my status. Here's what I got:

Found you!

* You signed up on Today
* You are #31791 on the list.
* 20007 people are ahead of you in line.
* 0 people are behind you in line.
* 36% of the list has been invited so far

This will be FUN!!!!

on the needles now

I've gotten lazy! After all that yardwork through early summer, I finally retreated inside when the heat started. and after about a dozen dishcloths, which I LOVE to make and give away, I started a pair of socks. Soon it will be time to start wearing them again and this is a lovely pair. The pattern is Snowflake Lace from MagKnits (great source for free patterns!!) and KnitPicks Essential Solid in Superwash. I reinforced the heel, but otherwise the pattern was followed. Next I wanna try two colors of yarn! So many patterns.... so little time.....

Monday, September 03, 2007

blast from the past

I was going through my old portfolios this morning and it reminded me that I don't sketch and paint often enough. I want to, but there just isn't time to do everything! I've said before that my hobby is hobbies, and that dreadful job that supports me sure takes up a lot of time! Anyway, I thought I'd post some older artwork that I've done. Friends have asked to see it and so here it is, with the usual disclaimer that I cringe over some of it now because I can see things I would do differently. ah well, that's why I need to do new stuff!

This is one of my favorites, an oil of some zinnias in my garden. I don't think it photographed especially well.

Another oil in my back garden. I sold this painting but am glad I have a photo of it because this giant mulberry tree fell down in a storm. It's gone!

I used to do a lot of portrait work. This is an oil of friend's daughter who is all grown up now.

Another friend's daughter, also nearly grown. This is colored pencil.

I did a lot of pet portraits, too. This is also colored pencil.

I got away from the commission work as I just didn't enjoy it. I prefer to just paint for myself now, but I don't get around to it much. One of these days.....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

two years today!

I spent most of my adult life fighting my weight. It felt like a battle to the death and I think it would have been except that two years ago today I had weight loss surgery (WLS). It saved my life.

WLS is controversial and becoming more common now but it took me a long time to come to that decision. My family doctor had been urging me for about three years, not just because of what I weighed, but because of more serious health issues. I had high blood pressure even on medication, high cholesterol even on medication, a heart murmur, irregular heart beat, two total knee replacements, depression, sleep problems and no energy. I felt awful much of the time. I could barely get myself to work. I couldn't keep up with my house and my kids would have to come over and help me. At 53, I was too young to feel so old and disabled.

Finally I realized that the weight really was going to kill me and that I was going to be dreadfully miserable until it did. Besides the health concerns, every day was a struggle with food, clothes, appearance and self-esteem. After 30 years of dieting I was fatter and sicker than ever and I didn't want to always be remembered in such a way. I had truly done my best to control my weight on my own and I had to face the fact that it hadn't worked and wasn't going to. I took another look at WLS.

The miracle was discovering a WLS called Duodenal Switch (DS) rather than the more common RNY. For more information on these surgeries, see the links I have posted in the sidebar of this page. Suffice it to say that when I read about the DS, I knew that this was a surgery I could live with. Not an easy way out by any means, but a possible salvation. I went through the qualifying process with doctor, surgeon, psychiatrist and insurance and two years ago today I was "switched". Then the recovery began.

I am now a different person - 100 pounds lighter. I no longer take blood pressure or cholesterol medicine - both are normal without it. I no longer worry about what I eat or what I will wear - I am normal in that respect for the first time in my adult life. Food is a joy, clothes are fun and I think about what I need and want to do everyday instead of how I look doing it. I don't dread getting out of bed or seeing others or having work to do. In fact, the picture below is something I'm very proud of!

Two years ago I could not pull weeds in the yard for even ten minutes. The blood would rush to my head and I would have to get a drink of water and sit down. You can't get much done in ten minute stretches. But take a look at this photo - this is the brush I cleared out of my yard just this week! That's seven bundles as big as I am tied up in twine and seven yard bags full of twigs, etc. This pile out for pickup stretches halfway across the front of my house. Mind you, I also work full time, so this is just the work of a couple weekend mornings and the evening the trash goes out. I bagged it all and carried it to the curb and you'd never know that I have two titanium knees. Not bad for a 55 year old, huh?

WLS isn't for everyone and I do believe you need to exhaust all your resources before you choose surgery. But for some of us it is a life-saving procedure. It requires lifetime compliance in taking supplements and getting proper nutrition and that cannot be neglected. It is worth it to escape the prison of obesity and I can say that I am happier and healthier than I've ever been. I am grateful and joyful over this every day. Life is wonderful.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

pizza adventure

Nary a soul loves pizza more than I do and I've been working on perfecting my home made pie. This weekend I got a "peel" and some quarry tiles to put on the oven bottom to see if it would give me a better crusted pizza.

I have a dough recipe I really like (Wolfgang Puck) so I made it up and spread it on the peel. I tried to keep it dry and loose so it would slide off.

Alas, my fresh sauce was too runny and I knew as soon as I put it on that it was sogging the dough and it would never slide off the peel. Drats! Two attempts to get it into the oven proved that I was just going to toss the toppings all over the oven, so there I stood with a superhot oven, a dough-y pizza on a huge peel and nowhere to set it! Yikes!

I finally got the peel propped onto the stove and used a spatula to roll the pizza up like a burrito, toppings and all, and unroll it back onto a pan. Pretty messy, but a recovery nonetheless. Daggone sauce.

It did take the peel to get the pie onto the tiles so low, but was pretty easy since the pizza was on a sturdy pan. Hmmm... this could work.

The thing that turned out best was the crust bottom - nice and browned like I wanted.

So it was a good enough tasting pizza, but the dough was too thick, the sauce too runny. I think I can do it better the next time.

cleanup in aisle 2...

Actually, the cleanup was in my back yard this past weekend. I have very big old trees in my yard and the Ash drops branches like crazy. I'll have to have it looked at soon before it does some real damage to my house or my neighbor's, but I came home Friday to find another limb down. Fortunately it fell between the gas lamp and the mosaic pot. Phew!

Another view shows that it went right up onto the back porch, which meant I had to go out the front door and around to have a look at it.

Saturday morning I spent about an hour and a half trimming off all the small branches, cutting them up and bagging them into empty mulch bags. Sunday morning I got out the Gator and made quick work of the large branch. What a tool that is! It only took about 20 minutes and it paid for itself just with this cleanup job. Wow!

And in case you're wondering, it's the Alligator Lopper by Black and Decker. It has really helped me get my yard cleaned up!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

oh, how I love zinnias!!

honestly, there is a special place in my heart for old-fashioned zinnias...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

more of the garden

Honestly, I cannot get over my garden this year! Every day I rush home from the job to enjoy it or to work in it and I could not tell you the last time my television was on. And I am seriously neglecting the computer as well! But that is a good thing when the weather is pleasant and your attention is diverted to the outside. Right on schedule, the daylilies are blooming in July...

And I have been anxious to post my new play area for the grandkids. It took some thinking ahead of time and then I was able to install it in a couple days. I moved some large logs from an old firewood pile to create a back "wall" for the play area and then put down a bed of gravel as a base. Along the logs are bins for sand, gravel and various toys that the kids like, all with lids to keep the contents dry. The "floor" of the play area is a large checkerboard made of 6" pavers, half of which were spray-painted black and all laid into the gravel base. Naturally, I had to teach the grands to play checkers (and they aren't all old enough yet to enjoy the game) but they LOVE this play area.

Another view...

I enlisted the kids' help of course, since it IS their play area, to make some signs. I suggested to AJ, the 8 year old, that he might want to make a sign that says "kids only" but he ammended that to say "KIDS and NONNA only" ("Nonna" is me - Italian for "grandmother") as well as "No adults unless invited". Isn't it just perfect??? Oh - and it was his idea to call the area the "PLAZONE". Even though he is only eight, he is into creative spelling and told me that he purposely left the "Y" out of the word "PLAZONE" since it would "read well" with just a "Z". I agree, and even though I do have a degree in design, I think he is WAY ahead of himself at age eight. He also instructed me to attach the signs to the stake at an angle so they would look like they had been made by "real kids". Of course, I did! Makes a Nonna proud!

There really is a path through the wooded part of the yard behind the play area, so Josey made a sign pointing to the Secret Path. She is my little princess and did a wonderful job, don't you think??

And here are a couple more photos of the sitting area. This year I put a glorious hibiscus into the huge mosaic pot and I will try to winter it over when cold weather comes.

And the cobalt blue pots are just delightful. Every evening the solar lights come on at dark and make little glowing spots in the dark. I cannot express how much enjoyment I get from this garden each and every day. If I'm not out in it, I'm looking out the window at it, so I enjoy it from every angle. How fun! Thank you, God, for blessing me in this way!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

life in the garden...

This summer, life so far has been all about yardwork for me. After several years of being unable to do my yardwork, I totally delight in spending several hours PER DAY working in the garden. I've been too busy to post here, but will try to catch you up on the local events. First, one of the new gardens I installed this year is the Bird Hotel. Lots o' birdhouses, many adorned with stars, grace my biggest tree - an Ash that I hope will not succumb to the borer that is invading this area. Keep in mind that my garden is an Artist's Garden, not for the finicky type...

Also this year, I put out a few tomato plants and they are doing quite well! Look at these little beauties just waiting to be part of a salad next month!!

This evening there was a very busy butterfly gracing the coneflowers. She did not seem to be shy and so I got a photo of her.

Meanwhile, the hummingbird that generally frequents this feeder was sipping nectar when I sat down with my camera. Alas, my noise scared the little hummer away. He/she is a tiny thing with a ruby throat that I hope to capture on film soon. But this evening I sat and waited and waited and it did not return. Maybe next time...

And this is the absolute ultimate - I have a Chain Saw!! You do not know how amazing this is, but I have purchased this little gem and have been clearing the brush off the back of my property for weeks. What a beast of a tool! Makes a woman proud! And powerful!!! Yeh!!! Don't mess with me, ya hear???