30 June 2007

Cool Fun on a HOT day...

the guys are ready to roll...
the girls just want some sun...
Big Bro was up first on the wakeboard (i am genuinely impressed, as i do not believe my body is meant to go at such speeds while remaining upright and dependent on the water's surface tension, all at the mercy of a boat & its captain...sorry D. but i am happy to photograph or drive as needed!)...

i am also impressed with another wakeboarding fact - Big Bro saved up his hard-earned cash last year to buy the board! what a beaut!
JT, visiting friend of the guys, was up next...
JT got some air off the wake - awesome!!
Big Bro giving Little Man a hand...
Even D. decided to waterski...
WOOHOO!!!!!!!!! what a ride...

29 June 2007

angels from J!

friends can give you just what you need, at just the right moment...and often without a word of need being uttered.

J. is just like that!

last summer some stuff was rather difficult here by the bay. one fine day, in the midst of tough things, J. showed up with these...

sweet little garden angels that nestle among your plants...one holding a tiny bird and the other, a bunny. now, she knows i love my flowers and plants. she knows i feed and love our visiting birds. she guessed about the bunny - but i love them too!

she is my "soul sista"...and she also knows it is the "little things" that bring GREAT JOY! i love you, J.!!

28 June 2007

Guest Blogging by Jose

This is the official don't ask don't tell birthday blog (no one is gonna ask your age, & i am not gonna to tell!)...

now, Jose...i can't speak for his antics, but at the risk of jeopardizing my entire long legged wardrobe, i have turned over the blog - just for one post!
and no, trust me, you do NOT want to know about Jose, the guest blogger. Really, it's a "special" thing just for today's BIRTHDAY GIRL!!! Here is what Jose has found, just for YOU...
Cabana by the beach...OH YES HE DID...
and a new friend too...
(Jose's got connections!) I recommend the GROUPER!!...ponytail optional...

and what is that which i see our new friend serving...?
we'll take 2 of the umbrella drinks, please! we will be needing them to wash down your scrumptious baked-from-cyber-scratch CAKE! Look at ALL the candles (just kidding!)...
L. you are AWESOME!!! and if i hear one word from R. that you have been doing honest work today, you are so in trouble!!!! Jose says! ;) have fun, goof off, eat cake....i love you girl!!!

27 June 2007

what's cooking wednesday...cookout edition!

oh my, i do love grillin' season! it combines the best of D.'s & my culinary efforts...i marinade and prep...he grills the eats to perfection! (plus he looks mighty fine standing there waiting to flip things!)

and the aroma of things being grilled...! don't get me started.

this week i was craving a dish that i normally do not grill, but i just could not bear the thought of turning on the oven with our temperatures in the 90s, and so i simply adapted it to the grill...my, but it was so very tasty and oh-so-much cooler.

before the recipe...a little background info: i took a cooking class several years ago in Tuscany. D. & I were staying with a group at a villa where grapes and olives were grown. We were there on the cusp of harvest and i believe that i may have just been in heaven for that week. the sweet villa-keeper, Lucia, offered a cooking class that was both hands-on and demo, outdoors and in...on a perfect afternoon. i was completely mesmerized by the whole thing - the simplicity of ingredients, the combinations of flavors, the making of pasta from scratch. it is a wonder that i remembered to take any notes at all, but fortunately i did occasionally jot down a thing or two. Lucia and her small crew presented the culinary delights by the fire in the main room later that evening, and i am so very sure that it was the most perfect meal i have ever eaten (with only one exception being the Boyd Mountain Bass 'n Salad at the cabin! but that's another wednesday!)

when i brought this recipe home and tried it out on my guinea pigs, the results were spectacular! and the children gave the dish a name...Kickin' Tuscan Chicken! (i'm not sure what exactly the chicken is kickin', but i believe it may be the backside of my other chicken dishes!)

Honestly, it was the fulfillment of a serious dream - and dreams are not nearly as much fun unless they are SHARED! I was so happy to bring this recipe home and make it part of our rotating meals. and today, it is so much fun to share it with YOU on What's Cooking Wednesday...

Kickin' Tuscan Chicken - Grilled

introducing the participants...

*Chicken (white meat, boneless)... marinade amount you desire for 2 or more hours in extra virgin olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic...add rosemary if desired.

*Lay a large piece of tin foil on the counter, place several pieces of marinaded chicken in center (must be able to easily wrap chicken up for the grill, so do not put too much chicken on foil - use more pieces of foil for remaining chicken)

*lay baby carrots and chopped celery around chicken - amounts are your preference

*chop red onion and garlic...spread over chicken

*lay sprigs of fresh rosemary & sage over chicken

*season to taste with fresh ground pepper & sea salt

*drizzle the whole thing with some extra virgin olive oil and a bit of white wine

*tightly wrap the whole thing in the foil and grill til you're happy!

(this is easily done stove-top in a deep frying pan, covered or in the oven, also covered. for stove or oven you may need more olive oil than on the grill.)
Buon appetito!

26 June 2007

for your inner artist...

i found this beauty at Julie D.'s blog and could not resist sharing it with you...

500 years of women in art (in less than 3 minutes!)...be sure your sound is turned on when you click on the link.

che bella!!

25 June 2007

charity begins at home...and in my car

okay, so i am surfing the 'net, enjoying some of my favorite places to visit. i am in that "summertime and the livin' is easy" mode - you know the one...it's all sunshine and ice cream and happy laughter when this little beauty zaps me back a few notches: Vatican issues ‘10 Commandments’ for drivers.


did somebody tell Il Papa about my abhorrent behavior behind the wheel??

Oh, i am so busted! i confess...i needed this. i can be sweeter than a bucket of strawberries, fresh picked and sun-warmed. but...get me behind the wheel, following a driver going merely ONE MPH under the speed limit and i am like a one-woman hornets' nest poked with sticks.

driver pulling out in front of me...i become ugliness incarnate.

my "conversations" with other drivers border on qualifying me for a straight jacket and a "free vacation," if you catch my drift.

it is high time for a healthy dose of HUMILITY...no, the road is not my personal playground. no, the other drivers where not put there to befuddle me. no, i am not the only one late for something. but if you saw or heard me behind the wheel, you just might think any or all of these were true.

i promise, starting today, that i will start each drive with gratitude that i even have the luxury of making that journey in my car in the first place (3 miles, one way, on a curvy country road with no berm and other fast drivers is a LOOONNNG walk or bike for a gallon of milk!). i will ask to be a gift to all who i encounter on the way. i will ask for the patience to remain patient all the way through the journey. and i will ask to remember that each and every person carries a burden that only he knows...and to remember that the burden may be a heavy one when our paths cross - instead of a grumble, he just may need a prayer from me! afterall, the Vatican's document noted that praying while driving was encouraged.

(in case you may wonder...i've already been praying for safety each and every morning before ANY of us drives. teens with drivers' licenses will do that to you!!)

24 June 2007

all together now...

happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear SHEP,
happy birthday to you!!!!!...and many more!

(you're older than me now!)

wipe that cake-eatin' grin off your face & go out there and have a SWEET day!


Sognatrice put a hound meme on her blog last week that has had Phil, the resident yellow lab, begging for this weekend's coveted "guest blogging" spot. Since Little Man's weather blogging stuff is not yet ready (& since i accidentally erased all his cool storm photos from last week...gulp), Phil has the awesome privilege of going first! no worries, Little Man & his weather will be up soon!

Now, Phil seems to have a thing for Sognatrice's lovely Luna...look at that forlorn face. he is virtually pining away for his italian lady love...

1. What kind of dog are you? i am a duck-hunting school dropout, full-bred yellow lab who just wants to get an ear-scratch, some eats and a long, sunny nap!

2. Are you a boy or a girl? boy...but i'm missing some parts ;)

3. How old are you? almost 6 yrs (42 in dog years, time for the midlife crisis red, sporty leash upgrade)...born 9/11/01, seriously

4. Name one thing you received as a gift on your last birthday. everyone pitched in for a bone & the supersize box of biscuits (big spenders...)

5. Choose one word to best describe your physique. chiseled

6. Share a quote. "How's it going Mr. Peterson?" - Woody "It's a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing milk bone underwear." - Norm, from Cheers

7. Have you ever been stung by a bee? If so, where? square on the nose!

8. Who's your strangest family member? my basset hound "sister" the elusive L. ...we even have a "special" sign posted just for her...

9. Who's your favorite family member? whoever has food to share!

10. Do you make an effort to be environmentally friendly? hey, i am a one dog fertilizing machine!

11. If you were given a blank canvas and water colours, what would you paint? MY OWNERS with biscuits perched on THEIR noses, looking at me expectantly while i chant, "stay, stay, stay"

12. When is the best time for you to take a 20 minute nap? whenever i can sneak up on a piece of furniture (i love it when my peeps leave the house!)

13. Your hair? ...is all over the house - my "mom" says i lay down at least one carpet's worth a week...unfortunately its whiteness does not color coordinate with our tile!

14. What do you want to be in 10 years? a full-fledged hearth dog (think cushy L.L.Bean dog bed by the fire)

15. What you’re not good at. algebra
16. What are you wearing? all my yet-unshed hair and my blue stripe collar

17. What aren't you wearing? my smoking jacket & ascot tie

18. Your mood? pensive & winsome (see lead photo!)

19. Your kitchen? where my food and biscuits are kept, and the place where i lay down a speed bump if someone's cookin'...if it's on the floor, it's mine!

20. What are you thinking about right now? how to get "dad" to throw the football for me
21. Love? but of course!

22. Foreign languages? i speak fluent "duck", i understand the sound of food hitting the floor, & i am good at ignorning English, Spanish and Italian commands with equal aplomb!

22 June 2007

Edwin, Larry & Craig

it was fantastic...lots of stories, some songs i have not heard in a few years, over all too soon! the only disappointment: Pete, Pete & Manny were not there. oh, well, there's always MB-HOB!! (see ya in july!)

J. i'm trying to remember the set list. when i asked larry about it during the sound check, he said "whatever Edwin wants!" and that is how they rolled!
...this is certainly not in order & probably not comprehensive, but here ya go...

Darwin's Children (didn't need to call D. this time!)
See Off This Mountain (best tellin' of this story i've heard to date - see quote below!)
One Thing (my pre-show request of Craig - ain't he sweet!)
Shooting Stars (i called you!!!!!)
Beautiful Life (if I had DM's number, i would have called)
Go Be Young (of course I called BIG BUG for this one!)
I'll Be
I Could Not Ask For More
Sign on the Door (best Edwin photo op song of all time, see below!)
Gramercy Park Hotel
Lost in America
I've Seen a Love - during which he lead into No Woman, No Cry - AWESOME!

Encore...only one, but what a one it was...

Patty Griffin's Mad Mission
all i have to say about that is "sign me up!!!!!"

larry & edwin...
craig... edwin on fire!... in the spinning of yarns last night, edwin told a very funny story (some of y'all have heard this one before) that involved his grandma, a bouncer, a concert, and a beer. he left us with some very sage advice:
"Mess with granny's suds and yer gonna be walking with a limp!"

a perfect first day of summer - part 3

and finally...the music

Stretch & Co. is first - local guy, plays often at The Dive, good covers & some original stuff...

this kid can rock!...

keepin' the beat...

NEXT ACT...currently touring w/ Edwin...

Gary Pfaff - very good sound - both vocally and on guitar, traded his fingers for a beer bottle on the guitar for one song, busted a string, lyrics a bit edgier than my taste, truly Southern sound...

a perfect first day of summer - intermezzo!

miscellaneous bar observations...(or fun with my camera while i wait)

that certain slant of light (only found in the haze of bar-smoke!)...

the glass half empty or half full...you decide...
i'm a "half full" kinda gal, myself!

pull up a chair and let's have a nice chat...

a perfect first day of summer - part 2

time to check out the night's music venue...The Dive...(well, it's not quite a "dive" in the truest sense of the word - it's so much nicer than some dives i've seen) BIG PROPS to Al & Kelly for a great space, great food, and the best live music!!!
...and oh, my. lookee who's here...
SOUND CHECK!! i'm a lucky girl...

sounds GOOD to me!

and i even had the chance between bites of shrimp to talk to Larry & Craig about their CD "Dois Gemeos" - awesome Brazilian music.
yes, yes, i know, another "larry" shot - how many more do i need?

J., DM., & K-Bug...all together now..."we love you larry!!!"

a perfect first day of summer - part 1

Road Trip!!!! on a magnificent SUMMER day...

...got Edwin? why, yes, i do...his CD playing, a cup of iced coffee, a beach bag, my trusty camera, and my cell phone for "callin' all friends" (wink, wink K-Bug!)...

i've got D. at my side...

& we're on the path to serenity, that's for sure...

& for today...life's a beach!!!!

21 June 2007

DAY OFF!!!!!

hey y'all...i am hitting the road in a bit to see this awesome guy...EDWIN! (J., wipe that drool off your chin - i'll call ya for I'll Be) D. has taken pity on my patheticness (is that a word??) over the last week and laid down a plan to cheer me. well, it is most definitely working! i'm cheered!

now, if you're reading this and you don't know who Edwin is, get thee to his website and have a listen! (i bet you know his 2 most popular songs...I'll Be & I Could Not Ask For More...go here to listen to them.)

Thanks so much D. I love you!!!!

20 June 2007

What's Cooking Wednesday...

What's Cooking Wednesday...the birthday edition! 2 weeks ago at birthday party central, it was more like "what's BAKING wednesday!" someone had requested the cake recipe mentioned in Big Bro's birthday post, and so this week i present...

RED VELVET CAKE & RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE! Big Bro has a serious affinity for cream cheese icing and all the young'ins like that red velvet look, so that was his specific birthday request. Baby Girl has a more refined birthday taste; she went with the pie that combines all her favorite (& mine too!) tastes. on their special days, they choose the meal and dessert. i look forward to their creativity each and every year!


for the CAKE...
*preheat oven to 350
*butter & flour 9X13 pan (or two 9" round pans)
*sift together into a bowl...2 1/4 c. cake flour, 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt
*whisk together in separate bowl... 1 c. buttermilk, 1 T. red food coloring, 1 t. distilled white vinegar, 1 t. vanilla extract
*beat together with mixer 1 1/2 c. sugar & 1/2 c. butter
*add 2 large eggs (one at a time) to the butter mix until well blended
*alternately add the flour mix and the buttermilk mix over 3 additions
*pour batter into prepared pans & bake 27-30 minutes, until tester comes out clean
*cool on a rack & prepare frosting

for the Frosting...
*soften two 8 oz. packages cream cheese
*soften 1/2 butter
*beat butter & cream cheese together until smooth
*add1 T. vanilla extract
*gradually add 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, beat until smooth
*frost cooled cake
ENJOY! (Big Bro sure did!)

for the Pie Crust...(from my aunt's "Favorite Country Recipes", an awesome Amish cookbook)
*mix together in a large bowl...5 1/2 c. all purpose flour, 1 T. salt, 1 t. sugar
* cut 2 c. shortening (or lard if you're brave) into the flour mix
*beat 1 large egg in a 1 c. measuring cup & fill to 1 c. level with cold water
*add egg/water to flour mix with hands
*knead dough until good consistency for a pie crust...for this pie you only need a bottom crust but the recipe makes 4-5 bottoms - i suggest forming the rest into balls the size one needs to make a crust and freezing them for future pies
*roll out crust and place in pie plate, add pie weights or dry beans
*bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes
*cool on wire rack

for the Raspberry layer...
*combine 3 T. sugar & 1 T. cornstarch in a saucepan
*add 2 c. fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
*bring to a boil over medium heat & stir 2 minutes
*remove from heat & cool 15 minutes, then spread over pie shell

for the Cream Filling...
*beat one 8oz. package cream cheese, 1/3 c. sugar & 1/2 t. vanilla extract til fluffy
*in a separate bowl beat 1/2 c. whipping cream until soft peaks form
*fold whipped cream into cream cheese mix
*carefully spread cream filling over raspberry layer
*cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
for the Chocolate layer...
*melt 2 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and 3 T. butter
*cool 4-5 minutes
*pour over cream filling
*cover and chill at least 2 hours
(i used Valrhona 71% dark bittersweet...pure chocolate bliss, i tell ya!)

LA DOLCE VITA, indeed!!!!

18 June 2007


some very generous neighbors are redoing their landscaping and in the process, pulled out a rather stubby looking sago palm. D. & i have never been ones to turn away an offer to nurture a living thing and so the stubby sago (sans green, i might add) came to rest in our yard. for several weeks D. was like a maniac with the sprinkler! but then came our family vacation in May. a whole week away. how would the sago do? apparently, it felt the love before we left...because on our arrival back home, this is what we saw...

new fronds unfurling from the top of the stub! those tender new fronds felt like velvet on your hand! how marvelous!

and at the base...

the "babies" of the sago were completely open and gloriously green! welcome to the garden!!

17 June 2007


Dear Daddy,
today i am so happy to celebrate you and what you mean to me! i was sure to venture out among the roses today and inhale deeply of the ones that are just like the bushes you had planted by your shed.

you were always outside puttering in the yard...weeding, planting, mowing, building, painting. so many of my childhood memories were of times by your side. you didn't talk about earth-shattering things - you told me what the redwing blackbird song is, how to harvest the perfect radish, what seeds attract what birds, what type of birdhouse a jenny wren will nest in. and today i carry all of it in my heart. every redwing i hear now is your voice letting me know that all is well!

you taught me about perseverence and patience while working in your yard. i remember when i was still rather young, how thrilled you were when you brought a mimosa tree home and planted it in the perfect spot - a very regal spot in the middle of the yard. i fell in love with that tree - it was unlike any other tree in our state. its leaves seemed so very tropical in my childish perception. it was my favorite spot in our whole yard.

i know how very hard your nurtured your tree each and every season. sometimes the huge branches were reduced to a simple sprout at the base of its trunk after a particularly hard winter. but back it came! and you were thrilled. each year you hoped for those airy pink blossoms on your tree. very few came. you knew it pushed the very limits of the climate planting zone, but you had faith!

when D. & i married and bought our own home, you happily potted whatever stray mimosa baby you found in your yard, the offspring of your magnificent tree. they just would not survive the transplanting. and so we continued to visit and enjoy your tree!

the third Christmas after you and Mom were gone, D. and our very sweet neighbors placed two potted, scraggly sticks under our Christmas tree for me...but the tag said "from Mom & Pop". oh, yes, i sure did know just what types of "sticks" those dormant trees were - Mimosas! Daddy, i sure hope you are able to enjoy them now. on this very Father's Day they are HUGE, opulent show-offs in our front yard...in full, glorious bloom! it is my joy to stand under them watching their airy leaves wave in the breeze, just as i did under your tree when i was a little girl. i think of you and all you were, and still are, to me.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

16 June 2007

Trading a seat on the airplane for...

well, we had washed & packed all the clothes, found all the toiletries in sizes that makes the TSA happy, dug out every cord & adapter we could possibly need, charged the batteries of our italian cell phones, left a multitude of lists for D. & the gang at home.

only thing left to do...go out for a family dinner at one of our favorite on-the-water dining places. but the coconut shrimp and my tooth did not make nice...

and so i traded my seat on the plane for the dentist's chair! all i can say about that is "ouch!"... for the last few days i have been laying very, very low. a cracked tooth is, at best, a simple crack that can be filled. at worst it means the tooth needs to be pulled. i am in soft-food limbo until some time passes and my dentist can determine the extent of the damage (based on pain either going away or staying or getting worse). i should know more this week. but for now, the language lessons remain on hold indefinitely.

Little Man is none too happy about this either - he's missing his pasta and gelato and pizza! BUT...his weather system has arrived and we are basically a mini-Weather Channel here by the bay.

we are making the best of it!
Romans 8:28..."We know that in everything God works for the good with those who love him..."

12 June 2007

On Top of Things!

top deck with the top dogs...

yeah, we're spoiled! this is our favorite morning spot...