Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Oh So Elusive Orchid

I am making the invitations for one of my daughter's wedding showers. Shouldn't be a problem...I make cards all the time for my etsy shop. Making the card isn't the problem. See, my daughter has allergies, and one of the only flowers she isn't allergic to is the orchid. So, she has chosen the orchid as her wedding flower.

Well, I got the bright idea to use a photograph of an orchid on the front of the invitations. I have been so excited about it, that I just couldn't wait to buy a pretty little white orchid to photograph. They sell orchids all the time at all of the big home improvement stores for about $14.99. My husband and I have looked at them many times in the past, however now that I needed one and wanted to buy one had any!

We looked at all of the places we remembered seeing them at, without any luck. I called some florists and they would be more than happy to order one for me for about $60.00. One said she could get me a "stem" for $18.00.

Just before I had given up, I called one of our local grocery stores and lo and behold they had a white orchid plant!! My husband was going right by there on his way home, so he stopped and purchased it....for $12.99!! What a deal! I was so excited. I ran out this morning and got some green satin fabric to use as a backdrop since that is her wedding color and I was ready to go. Keep in mind....I am NOT a photographer. Most of the photos I use on my cards are taken by my son, but I was ready to give it a try.

I think I took about 60 pictures of all different kinds, some of them with the poor little plant lying on it's side so I could cover the stem and some of the flowers and just photograph one or two of the blooms together. What a project it turned out to be. I only found one out of the first set I liked and decided to try again. I think if the poor little orchid had legs, it would have taken off running when it saw me coming!

I realized that in order to get the shot I of the little blooms was going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Now trust me, I felt awful. I stood there with the scissor contemplating what I was about to do for quite some time and then SNIP, I did it. I cut the little bloom right off the plant. I just kept telling myself it was okay, but I really felt sad.

Then my husband comes in and says, "You cut the flower off?????" I said, "Remember, we bought the plant so I could make the invitations. I had to do it". Now I know that professional photographers don't go cutting the blooms off of the flowers every time they want to take a picture, but I am not a professional and I really just wanted to get this done.

So, I took the next set of pictures and it was a heck of a lot easier moving around one little bloom than it was a potted plant, and I think I got some nice shots. Now, I have never played with the different little options in Picasa before, but I tried some of the effects to see what would happen and fell in love with the soft focus one.

Tomorrow I am going to have all of the shots I like printed and then I will pick the one I am going to use for the invites. I have the little bloom in a dish of water, and I still feel really bad....but I'll get over it. The invtiations are going to be great!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vegetarian Chili....Mmmmmmm

I remember my parents making chili when I was a kid, and I loved it. The only problem with their recipe is that it's made with meat, and I haven't eaten meat in a number of years. As a vegetarian, I try to eat a wide variety of foods....and in keeping with that effort....I needed a good chili recipe. Well I found one in of all places, the Betty Crocker Home and Gardens "New" Cookbook!

I received my first Home and Gardens cookbook 36 years ago as a wedding shower gift. I bought my "new" version a few years ago. Their vegetarian chili is a wonderful low-fat version of one of my favorite childhood dishes. I am going to share it with you today. The ingredient list is long, but it all gets combined and in no time you have great meal. So, here goes...

Vegetarian Chili

3 cloves garlic, minced (I use the jarred garlic)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 14 1/2 ounce cans chunky chili-style tomatoes or low-sodium stewed tomatoes
1 12-ounce can beer or nonalcoholic beer (I don't usually have beer, so I add extra water)
1 cup water
1 8 ounce can low-sodium tomato sauce
3 to 4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard (yellow mustard works fine too)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 15 ounce can lower-sodium pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can lower-sodium red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (3 ounces) (optional)

In a 4-quart pot cook garlic in hot oil for 30 seconds. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, beer, water, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano, mustard, cumin, pepper, and if desired, hot pepper sauce. Stir in pinto beans, white kidney beans, and red kidney beans. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. cover and simmer for 10 minutes

Stir in corn and zucchini or yellow summer squash. simmer, covered, about 10 minutes more or till vegetables are tender. If desired, top each serving with 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Makes about 10 cups (6 main-dish servings)

It's freezing cold here in Illinois already, and there is nothing better on a cold evening than a big bowl of steaming hot chili! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

No, not really...just dogs and cats and birds and rodents. I love animals. I love animals of all kinds. I think that is something my dad passed on to me. He was so good with animals. Even wild animals knew he was their friend. I am the first to admit that pets are a lot of work, but the amount of joy they bring into our lives makes it so worth it.

Over the years we have had many, many pets.....Itchy and Scratchy (science experiment mice that were only supposed to live a short time, and I think set a new life expectancy record for rodents), Becky the Guinea Pig, Perky the hamster, Rick and AJ the finches and Igna the parakeet. Then we also had Duke, Sampson, Heidi, Sarah, Sam and currently Sparky and Wrigley our dogs. Add to that Ty, Shadow, Katie, Abby, Spooky and Boo....our cats. Throw in Max the rabbit and a school of goldfish and I think that wraps it up! Like I said, I love animals. I know I will never be without pets.

Right now we just have our two dogs. We recently lost the last of our kitties....and I think we will wait until spring before acquiring another one. When it comes to our dogs and cats, most of them have been strays or came from a shelter. Our puppy as I still call her even though she is over a year, came from Rover Rescue in Aurora, Illinois. We had one dog and two cats at the time and I just thought that maybe we needed another dog. Our toy fox terrier was 10 years old and I thought a playmate might be just the thing for her.

I started out on, talk about a website that can rip your heart out. Just dog after dog after dog....all needing homes. I just wanted to take them all. We were looking for a border collie, but the closest ones were out in Ohio. Now I would have hopped in the car and driven there to get one of them, but Mr. "I'm not driving to Ohio for a dog" said "No".

So, I just kept printing out puppy pictures off the website and leaving them on the kitchen table. I knew he was peeking at them. As soon as I heard him say, "This one is cute." I was on the phone making arrangements to go look at her. Rover Rescue gets most of their puppies from a shelter in southern Indiana. They have so many down there that they euthanize them very quickly. Rover Rescue gets a description and a picture of the puppies and dogs that are available and they decide which ones they think they will be able to adopt out. Then someone in Indiana drives those dogs north, and someone from Aurora starts driving south. They meet somewhere and the exchange is made. Then the puppies and dogs get placed in wonderful foster homes in the Aurora area and their info gets posted on the web.

That is how we found little Annabell. We went out to Auora that day to see her at her foster home. She was so cute...but aren't they all? We watched her interact with the foster family's dogs and kids and of course we held her and layed on the floor and played with her.

After a while, Mr. "I don't know if I want another dog", said "Done deal", and that was it. We weren't able to bring her home yet, because they do spay and neuter all of the adopted pets. The wait was agonizing, but we kept in touch with the foster family. We changed her name to Wrigley (as in field)....and found out that the foster mom broke the rules and let her sleep in bed with her. That didn't bother me because contrary to what Mr. "the puppy is NOT sleeping in our bed" said....I knew she would be.

Right now the shelters are overflowing with dogs and cats that need to be adopted. People that have lost their jobs and their homes are giving up their precious pets at a very high rate. So, if you were thinking about getting a new pet for Christmas, perhaps you can go to and find a wonderful dog or cat in your own area to adopt. Even if you weren't planning on getting one...if you have the room and the time and the love in your heart....maybe a pet would be a great thing for you.

We have talked about maybe getting another dog some time and I know we will get another fact, I was just peeking at myself....just don't tell Mr. "we don't need a kitten right now".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's The Buzz?

I feel excited, psyched and hyper. I have that strange little feeling in my stomache, and that can only mean one thing...THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING! I always tell myself that I need to chill out a bit, but I don't know, the closer the holidays get the more giddy I get!

I always thought it was going to be strange when our kids grew up, that the holidays just wouldn't be the same....what I have found is that it's just as exciting, just in a different way. We don't have grandchildren yet, so there are no little ones watching and waiting for Santa but the spirit of Santa lives on!

I am not one of those people that freak out over the holidays. In fact, there is very little that rattles me. Not sure why that is, but it's a really good thing especially at this time of year.

I see other people running around, stressing over everything...upset because this needs to be like this and that can't be like that, and why can't so and so be here on this day and how come they are coming on that day, and hurry, hurry, hurry, gotta get it all done!

Then there are the "Bah Humbug" people. They dread the holidays. Everything about the holidays is a tedious chore. I just really don't get that. Sure there are things that need to be done...but none of it is a chore. It's a wonderful time of year.

One of our sons is married and our daughter in engaged. Our youngest son will be driving in from Colorado for Christmas. Last weekend we sat down and tried to figure out where everyone needed to be and when they needed to be there for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. It can be difficult when you are dealing with muliple families that all have their own special traditions.

As it turns out, to make it easier on our kids...we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday at our house. We did that last year and it was great. We had all day Thursday to prepare and they were able to spend time with their other families and then we had all day Friday to be together.

Christmas is a bit hectic, but we got that all figured out too. It's all a matter of being flexible. It takes a lot of the stress out of the holidays when you can sit together and work it out so everyone can relax and enjoy themselves.

So anyway...I am buzzin'! I am going to pick a photo to use for my Christmas cards tonight and get those made over this next week or so, and I am actually ready to go chop down that tree, get the lights up in the windows, order some new holiday candles (from someone at etsy of course) and get the holidays going!

There is no "Bah Humbug" in my holiday world!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fun and Fancy Serving Plates

I can't take credit for this idea, because I actually saw it in a magazine earlier this year and fell in love with it. I set the magazine aside, meaning to make of these days. The magazine and the idea was long forgotten when my daughter-in-law, Bernadette came over one day and gave me one her mom had made...and I was in love with them all over gain!

I would like to introduce you to my Fun and Fancy Serving Plates! I make my serving plates from old and new plates that are attached securely to a candle stick or base of some type. I think they are so cute and make great conversation pieces!

I think these are such fun pieces and very versatile as well. I would like to eventually be able to find enough old supplies that I can make all of them from recycled materials. My personal supply of older plates that I was willing to part with was limited, so some of the ones I have made are done from new plates and candlesticks.

I keep scouring the thrift stores and have found some cute pieces to work with. Some of the older ones have so much character. I look at their worn spots and little bumps and bruises and I see a piece that was well used and "loved".

It's wonderful to take those old plates and make them into something new for someone else to hopefully use for many years to come. The larger serving plates can be used for cakes or even cheese and crackers or dessert bars or cookies. The smaller ones can be used for candy or even next to the sink to hold soap, a sponge or your rings and watch.

The is my absolute favorite. The plate is new, but I found the martini glass at the thrift store. I wish there had been more of them, but unfortunately there was only one.

Thanks for looking at these great pieces. I do have a few more in my shop. Feel free to stop by to take a look at

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Evolution of Hair

Two of my three kids were over this weekend and we pulled out the old photos. There were of course the "Oooooo's" and "Ahhhhhh's" and "Oh looks" and "I remembers", but there was also a whole lot of laughing going on. What got us started was nothing other than hair styles...not just the girl's, but the guy's as well. Pictures were flying across the room as we shared some of the best with one another. The best? The best as in the worst! The best as in the most hysterical! I'm happy to say though....we all did our share of laughing at and being laughed at as we traveled through the years.

What we kept on asking was,"Are you kidding me?" or "What was I thinking?" or from my kids I got, "Why did you make me wear my hair like that?" or "Why did you LET me wear my hair like that?" I thought I would share some of the "best of the worst" with you today. There are so many priceless photos, it's going to be hard to decide which ones to share, but here goes!

On the left would be the late 50's. Can you say spoolies??

On the right we have the sausage look. I believe that was created with those little plastic snap together 2 piece curlers if I'm not mistaken! That would be circa 1965.

Here we are in 1971 on the
left, when very "tall" hair was the "big" pun intended.

Look at those sideburns and the hair hanging in the eyes for him....and for her the "shag". That was natural curl. Love the white eye shadow too. I believe that was 1972.

Another "shag" just not curly this time. This one was in 1974 though. I guess that style hung around for a little bit, unless we were just outdated!

On the right is about 1978. We called those "fun buns". It was the only way I could get her to sit still long enough for me to get her long hair up and out of the way!

I think this must have been the lumberjack look in 1980!

The one on the right brought one of those, "What was I thinking?"comments from me! Ouch! Although the kids decided that I look younger now than I did then and that was in about 1983! Man did I look old and tired! I blame it on the kids.

Then came the "spiked" hair cuts in the mid-80s that the boys just loved. It definitely was not one of my favorite looks, but I was one of those moms that didn't get rattled over hair. How they wore there hair didn't really matter to me....and believe me....they came up with some good ones!
Like this one! I guess they couldn't decide between short or long so they did both! This was the late 80's I believe.

I am guessing that this one on the left was in the late 80's or early 90s....that would have been high school and the days of really, really BIG hair!
This is the one that had her brother and her fiance trying very hard to control themselves.

Then came the partially shaved it wasn't so bad when the top was short like the one on the right, but then when it got long......
it got pulled up in a ponytail like the one on the left! Wow, was I a brave mom back then!!

With Junior High came the hair parted in the middle for him and some really bold hair styles for her as she enjoyed her new found freedom in college!

Prom 1996...I remember how long it took him to get his hair to look like that. He worked on it forever....and they talk about women!

The high school soccer team decide to all bleach their hair...on their own! Well, his turned a lovely shade of grey and we had to go to get it repaired at the local beauty salon. I must say that I did like the look!

Ah.....long hair. I love it! I really do. His wife saw this one and it was one of her favorites too. This is what he looked like in college, playing soccer, when they met! I was looking for a picture from his freshman year of college soccer when the upperclassmen shaved the heads of all of the freshman players but I couldn't find one! Now THAT was not a pretty look.

Well, this is where the evolution of hair ends. My daughter has gone back and forth from long to short and back, in fact so has my youngest son. In fact, he had dreadlocks for a while! My older son keeps his hair real short and has for quite some time.
Me....I wore mine short for years and then let it grow long for a while. Now it keeps getting shorter and shorter as I get older and older!
We had the best time looking at the pictures and laughing over some of the hair styles we had....the hair styles were funny enough, but even funnier was the fact that we all thought we looked pretty darn good at the time!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Money, Money, Money

Okay, so let's be many of you have ever thought about what you would do if you had a money tree growing in your back yard, or if some long lost relative you didn't know existed left you a boatload of money in their will, or you won the lottery? Sorry about the money tree line...I am on a week of reminiscing for some reason and I remember when I was a kid and I would ask my parents for money, they would ask me if I thought we had a money tree growing in the back yard!

I am one of those people that feels "rich", but not in the money sense. Money is something I have never had much of, but I have never felt "poor". I have way too much in my life to ever feel "poor". In fact, I am rich in many, many ways, but this post is about the money kind of "rich".

Anyway, I will confess....I have thought about this many, many times. Mine is always related to winning the lottery because I don't have that money tree and even if I did have a long lost relative, most likely they wouldn't be rich and most likely they wouldn't be leaving anything to me. So, the lottery it is.

We do buy lottery tickets. I'm not even sure what my husband spends per week on them, but I know it is only a few bucks. I do wish we had never ever started buying tickets though.....I know, you are probably saying...well, quit buying them then! It isn't quite that easy. You see, when we started buying them way back when, we picked our own numbers. I picked 3-12-19-22 27 and 35 and my husband picked 4-10-11-15-16 and 30.

Well, let me just say....that once you pick your own personal numbers, you are locked in for life!! How can you NOT play them when every week they broadcast those numbers on the radio and tv and the newspaper prints them. How might I feel if I quit playing and there before me one week were my numbers? My precious personal lotto numbers.....and I didn't have a ticket???

Nope, can't do it. Like I said we are locked in for life. Every week we will continue to donate to the Illinois State Lottery. The only good thing is...we are helping to make other people's wishes come true, and that is what this is about.

If I won the lottery or had unlimited funds, I would........

of course I would do the normal things like pay off my debt, quit my job, and dance for joy, but then it gets more personal.

For me, I would immediately send some money to a couple of people that helped us out many, many years ago when we were struggling financially and I would pay off all three of my kid's student loans (and they all have whoppers). Then if I decided to move rather than fix up my little house, I would find a wonderful hardworking family that can't afford to own a home...and give them mine. Man, that would feel so amazingly good to do that. From there I would have to find a new house for me....a very small log home out in Loveland, Colorado would do nicely....and then I would start researching different charities to figure out where I would like to help out. In my new found spare time, I would love to volunteer in a school like I did for so many years when my kids were young. That was so much fun!

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you "struck it rich"?

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