30 July 2015

WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS WEEK?

I think I blinked because this week has almost disappeared!


Here is one of those little dresses I found recently on sale -- the $15 one.

Do not love the way I look in a dress!
This one seems too short-waisted.

The bolero sweater I have had a couple of years.

It will take some getting used to if I wear dresses again on a regular basis.



Steak salad -- this is what was for dinner a couple of nights ago.

Had another nice shrimp salad for lunch yesterday at Newk's -- they do great fresh casual food. Do you have one near you?



Sweet Husband told me he wasn't going to bake a birthday cake for me this weekend (yay!), but we did stop in at Pastry Arts next door to Newk's, and we picked up these little cake bites.  They are quite yummy!


One of each -- a dozen!

It is just too too too hot!  What are you doing to stay cool?  



26 July 2015

A RIDE IN THE COUNTRY



Sometimes a nice leisurely drive in the country makes difficult times bearable.  Stress was building up this week over techno-electrical woes, and then the death of my last living uncle (my mother's youngest sibling) a couple of days ago slashed another broad stroke in the picture that is my life.   Lately, mortality has weighed heavily on my heart with several senseless mass murders committed by deranged individuals who had no business having their hands on a gun.  Compounded with our recent visit to my 96-year old cousin who has gone down dramatically from last year, (the last on my father's side), and an impending birthday that is considered a milestone, it seems like the foundation of my life as I knew it, the life that seemed like a blueprint for who I am and who I grew up to be, is gone.  I am beginning to see my old classmates disappear and my generation having serious health issues.  My family is dying out.  


Sometimes that drive in the countryside on a beautiful albeit hot day is just a good palate cleanser from the never-ending bombardment of bad news.  We drove along Highway 11 northeast toward Gadsden from Birmingham, admiring the verdant farmlands, pastures and forests.  I forget just how beautiful my state is, sometimes, amid the frustration I feel with the closed minds and antediluvian attitudes of some of its' inhabitants.  We saw some really beautiful homes, along with some that were much more modest, although they, too, reflected the pride of their owners.  


When we reached Attala which is just outside Gadsden, we saw a sign for a Cracker Barrel, so we took a little detour onto Highway 77 and stopped.  (You always know what you are getting when you go  there, don't you?)  Immediately upon walking in, I almost stumbled over a little tyke about three or so who appeared to be lost.  A couple of the ladies who work in the gift shop were trying to get her to take their hands, but she wasn't having it.  She said her parents were "at the hotel" but there are several directly behind the restaurant.  Everybody including me were getting really alarmed that she had apparently wandered off across a busy parking lot or two.  


In a few minutes, after looking around the gift shop, I noticed those same two ladies back at work putting out new merchandise.  I asked one, "Did you find that child's Mama?"  They said, "Yeah" and kept right on stocking.  I walked a few feet more toward my husband to go into the dining room, and there was this little kid with two young teenage girls.  Obviously, they were supposed to be watching her and weren't!  At least she was reunited with her minders, but I shudder to think what could happen when the babysitters turn their backs even for a second on a cute little three-year old.  You just don't do that!


On the way home in much better spirits after a plate of fried chicken and biscuits (sorry about the cholesterol, Dr. Singh), I began looking out the window at the views on the other side of the road, drinking them up in earnest.  We passed a large area of shaded pastureland, and there was a beautiful big brown shiny horse standing perfectly still over another beige blond horse which was lying on it's side on the ground.  We drove on by, past the homestead and it's outbuildings where there were vehicles, etc., but I saw no actual people about or heading over to check on their animals.  Maybe they already knew.  That scene is forever etched into my brain....

A little ways further down the road, we passed what might be politely described as a shack way up on a little hill, but very close to the road. The falling-down front porch on the house, which had not seen paint maybe ever, was loaded down with all kinds of junk, from old furniture to appliances to just plain crap.  In the heavily shaded front yard off to my right, there was the biggest, shiniest, slickest-looking stainless gas grill you have ever seen!  

At the last turnoff, Sweet Husband goofed, so we wound up going through downtown Birmingham through the maze of busy over-and-underpasses.  I am always surprised that it actually looks like a real city because Birmingham really is an overgrown country town.  Just ask anybody.  They'll tell you that.  I avoid downtown like the plague.


I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.  Mine entails a lot of goofing off and a little bit of cooking.  How about yours? Maybe you need a drive in the country.


P.S.  If you read Southern Living, don't miss Rick Bragg's great article on the last page (where his piece always is) about the Dog Days of Summer.  They have arrived.



   

25 July 2015

HEY! I WON SOMETHING!




Our Most Dainty Musical One -- Miss Shelia of Notesongs fame -- has bestowed upon me an award which I am very proud to accept!  See it top right over there, proudly displayed!  I am so honored, and this was a real pick-me-up this morning after a sleepless night, wondering if my house is going to burn down before I get the electricians out here next week.

looking a bit askance here
actually I was having a crisis over my impending birthday on the day I snapped these

Not to disappoint -- a couple more of those "mirror snaps" which our Shelia has made famous.

the green palazzos
who is that photo bomber?

I promised that I would show you my palazzo pants I made this past week if I didn't look like a total geek in them.  I probably do because I am so short, but I have to tell you -- they are cool and comfy so I really don't care!  I have been poking around in my fabric stash, and I found another piece of this same type of lightweight cotton in black and white polka dots, so I am going to make another pair soon.  Hope I won't look like Betty Boop in those!  (But if I do, so what?)





Ha!  How's this for some fun bloomers?


23 July 2015

I'M THINKING OF BECOMING A LUDDITE

What is a Luddite you ask?  Well, if you don't know, look for yourself, here.

Now, do you get it?

Our Internet was off yesterday morning until this afternoon, this after a service call last week, when they replaced the modem.  Today we have another new modem.  The tech said he thinks it might be the crazy weather and all the lightening we are having. Not to mention, all these crappy things are made in China. 

Another one of those Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter things in our house went kaplooie this morning.  Finally, in the early afternoon, the ATT guy showed up.  He wondered aloud if we might have a wiring problem. Shudder.  The wire to the modem looked about half melted.  Why?

Cousin Martha calld today, telling me that my last uncle has died.  Uncle Bob, my mother's baby brother, passed away from complications of pneumonia and late state Alzheimer's.  His wife Carolyn was totally devoted to him.  Now she will need to take care of herself as she has neglected her own health to make the drive, every single day, 25 miles each way to the VA hospital where he has been for nine years.  There will be a military funeral next week. 

We had lots of rain today, and I finally just sat on the back porch and watched and smelled and listened to it while I read a book.  This is the first day that it has been cool enough to enjoy the porch in a while.  

I have been totally absorbed in another BBC series, Blue Murder, and I am about to go get lost in another episode.  

Later.





21 July 2015

HELLO DARLIN'!


Sweet Husband is a happy boy here with his complimentary dessert from Pappadeaux's on his birthday!

Busy, busy, busy!  Today I made two pairs of pants after crafting a pattern out of some of Ma's old blue gingham check for some loose fitting palazzo pants.  I cut and sewed them from the two very lightweight cotton fabrics I bought the other day at the clearance at HobLob. A fabric pattern is very useful in that it doesn't flap around in the breeze or slip and slide when you are trying to pin it on.

Crispy salmon with shrimp, crab and scallop over garlic spinach -- his choice of entree.

Tonight's dinner was thrown into the crockpot early on in the a.m.(a pot roast with a healthy dose of garlic and rosemary from the bush out front and splashed with a little beer for liquid), and after it did it's thing all day, I served it along with some polenta and cucumber salad.  Pretty tasty, if I do say so.

This was my selection the other night -- I hardly made a dent in it.
Sweet Husband took care of the rest!

All weekend we were in full birthday mode, doing a little shopping, etc.  Saturday, I made him his favorite cake, German Chocolate.  I had a little bit then, but I have thus far restrained myself.  (insert pat on back here)  On Sunday evening I took birthday boy to Pappadeaux's as he had requested.  First, we snuggled all day watching movies after I had made him breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon.  

Toasting the birthday boy

By yesterday I was on warm and fuzzy overload, so I did laundry all day.  I did some techno-housekeeping, too.  Did anyone notice that new weird thing that Apple has done with iPhoto?  And this morning my desktop wallpaper photo had changed!  I changed it again to suit myself, but this is starting to irritate me.

Perusing the dessert tray

Our cute little server

So this was our big celebration.  The good part is that our birthdays are close together, so we get to do something else very soon!  I have my present already picked out and my fingers crossed.  




16 July 2015

MY COMPUTER HEALED ITSELF!




Getting dolled up to go out to the Apple store and brave the heat.  I was promised lunch, so I made a little effort.


I have no idea what happened to my computer, but it is working again as of last night, totally fine.  In fact, the ATT man came yesterday and installed a faster version of U-verse.  So -- for 24 hours or so the day before, the computer had some kind of hissy fit, and I guess now it is over it's mad spell.


My driver!

On Monday I had been to the Apple store for a checkup since the warranty runs out next week.  Then it conked out on Tuesday.  I have always had issues with the screen freezing with this one.  In fact, this is my third Apple computer, plus the iPad and iPhone, and this one is the only product I have ever had consistent problems with.  The tech at the Genius Bar assured me that they have a record of all the issues I have had with it, and they would take that into consideration should anything else come up after the warranty ends. I have noticed that they haven't offered me a replacement computer. 

Sweet Husband read an article in one of his business magazines which said in effect that a lot of people are complaining that Apple products are going down in quality since Steve Jobs is no longer around.  I don't know about that; I only know what has happened with this one which I bought almost three years ago.  When all is well, it is fantastic.  It would take a serious act of force majeure for me ever to go back to a Microsoft product, but this sucker is really a Diva.
Another Diva - Hahaha!

Thanks so much to everyone who went over to Facebook and checked to see if someone was there masquerading as me.  I am so glad to know that I didn't turn up!  My old friend Rosie, who is pretty tech savvy, suggested that perhaps someone shared that post on FB which is maybe how it was linked back to me.  I still think it was probably a spammer because I have never had that kind of traffic on any given day, and especially not on one specific old post. It actually happened three times on this particular post.  Marigene suggested turning off comments on the last post when you post a new one.  That seems like a good idea, too.

Edited to add:  I heard from someone who did indeed see it on Facebook, and she sent me to the link.  I had never heard of FoltBolt -- have you?  It is a very interesting site, which features the work of artists all over the world.  I did go back to that post and clarify that these are not my dishes.  I was merely expressing the wish that I could find some!   So the mystery is solved -- Yay! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was going to show you some of Sweet Husband's latest handiwork in the yard this week, but we had a couple of storms the last two nights which keep making messes out there as fast as he cleans it up.  Our  Leyland Cypress trees are growing well, but a limb from the big oak fell on one of them night before last and split it in two.  We tied it up with floral tape, binding it's wounds so to speak, so I hope it will heal itself like the computer apparently did.

Speaking of SH, he decided to paint the hood of his car!  Has anyone ever tackled painting a car?  He did some research, and plunged right in.  (No one told him he couldn't.)  You may remember that we had requested permission from the a******s at the ARB to install a large awning over the garage doors both to keep the garage cooler and also to park the cars under, but they turned us down.  Now the paint on the hood of his 13-year old Jeep (which only has 63,000 miles!) is damaged again.  He had had it painted just last year, and so was not keen to spend a lot of money on it again so soon.  His handiwork turned out quite well if not perfect.  (BTW, I am still looking for sound legal advice on the subject of countermanding the ARB.  There is apparently not a specialist in this field in Alabama.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This color is close to the real thing

detail of gimp

I found some fabric and trim for that gold chair I am working on, and I think it is going to look pretty cool!  While in HobLob where I found the trim, I noticed they were having a sale on summer fabrics. I have fallen in love with Palazzo pants all over again (remember those?), so I bought a couple of yards to make a pair.  The wide-leg pants are so much cooler (as in air-conditioned cooler) than skinnies or straights. Today I went back and got a couple more pieces.  I think I shall be sewing for the next week or so!


My haul from HobLob

I bought two little dresses for almost nothing at the clearance sales the other day when we were out and about -- one was only $15!  I haven't bought a dress since -- I actually don't remember when.  It is so much easier to dress in separates and pieces that you can pull together for different looks.  These two little dresses look like what I used to wear eons ago when my mother made all my clothes.  They are just simple little summer dresses in bright cotton prints.  I will try to remember to snap a selfie for you when I wear them if I don't look like a total geek. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
cajun pasta with tomatoes, okra and andouille

Have you been doing much cooking in all this heat?  We have been keeping it pretty simple.  I have made frittatas a few times, simple pasta dishes, stuffed peppers with different fillings a couple of times, and some main dish salads.  My kitchen gets so hot with the gas burners fired up!  Our grill has gotten a work-out, too.  If you have any brilliant ideas on how to keep a kitchen cool in summer while still putting good food on the table, please do share. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I am reading PRIMATES OF PARK AVENUE and really enjoying it.  It is so fascinating to me the way these people live.  Of course, they would probably think our lifestyle is strange, too.   Always interesting to see how the other half lives, isn't it?  Well, the upper 1%, that is, not half. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sweet Husband chillaxin' after his labours outdoors.  
Sweet Husband has a birthday this weekend, so we will be doing a little low-key celebrating.  He says he wants to go to Pappadeaux.  Do ya'll have this Cajun seafood restaurant in your area?  We really enjoyed them in Texas, and were very happy when we got one here in Birmingham.

Have a great weekend, everybody!












14 July 2015

WHAT IS GOING ON???I

I don't know what is happening, but today my computer died.  It checked out fine yesterday in the Apple Store where I took it for a checkup.  The warranty runs out next Monday.  Then, just now I discovered that I had over 1200 hits from Facebook.  How can that be when I am not on Facebook?  If any one sees me on there, please let me know immediately.  I am using the iPad to write this, so I guess blogging is suspended till I find out what is going on.

Ellen

10 July 2015

FRIDAY -- STILL HOT


Sticky buns -- sort of

It is about time to proclaim it a weekend.  Or, as Maggie Smith playing the Dowager Duchess of Grantham famously said in the first season of Downton Abbey, "What is a "weekend?"  For me, not much different from any other days, except that there are no appointments to deal with.  Retirement gives one the freedom to mostly go with the flow as we used to say in the 60s.  Or was it the 70s.  Who remembers?  Pshaw.


There is a layer of 2" upholstery foam cut to fit the top of the seat under this memory foam which is leftover from our old mattress.

This shows the old-timey, heavy-duty burlap which helped form the structure.

Sweet Husband finished up his back garden project, precipitated by a ton of mud which washed onto the patio by the heavy rains of a week ago.  We thought we had addressed all the drainage issues, but those last deluges overwhelmed our efforts, and it was time to rethink.  You will see the results of his handiwork later.


There are more layers to come at this point, and I filled in some areas where I cut it a little short.  This won't matter as you will see.

My two staples for doing upholstery projects
 -- no pun intended -- are my Duo-Fast upholstery stapler and some spray adhesive.

On the plus side, all the vines are doing spectacularly well because of alternating heavy rain and periods of heat -- the ones planted on the back of the pergola, I am talking about.  I hope to see some grapes next year.  In the front yard the little peach tree is loaded with peaches, and I am doing my best to keep Sweet Husband from pulling them off too soon.  I would like to get enough to make a couple of jars of jam!







We have a pizza ordered from Mellow Mushroom, and I have to tell you, I am about ready for it. I do believe I have worked up a bit of an appetite, sweating for a few hours in that over-warm garage trying to rebuild the chair upholstery.


Now it is time to seal the gold leaf and find a fabric.  The one I was considering is too complicated, I think, for my skill level.

After reading (earlier in the week) Comforts of Home's post about Ina Garten's sticky buns made from frozen puff pastry, I wanted to try it.  (You know - reward the hubs for all his hard work yesterday in the back garden.)  I went to the freezer and pulled out what I thought was puff pastry, and then I remembered:  Publix did not have  it the last time I looked, and this product was offered as a substitute.



Lately, it seems that is happening a lot, which I am finding very annoying. Are you listening, Top Brass at Publix???  This is why another old fave (Bruno's) in Birmingham went under -- they stopped carrying what people wanted, and offered substandard off-brands instead.  This product is Athens brand Phyllo.  Nothing wrong with that if you are trying to make baklava or spanakopita.  Not a thing.  But I wasn't trying to make either one of those.  

I already had mixed up a bunch of butter and sugar and pecans so I had to go ahead and try to turn a potential train wreck into something edible.  When in doubt, add some more butter!  

Sorry there is no fancy styling -- I was just trying to fee the hubs, not impress anyone.

The finished product turned out to be quite tasty, but it definitely was not a sticky bun made of puff pastry.  More like baklava, it contained enough butter to clog the arteries of the entire neighborhood!  I ate the smallest one of the lot, and Sweet Husband ate two bigger ones.  (What?  Your buns are always exactly the same size???)  I probably gained 10 pounds on just that one.  

I am going back to my book now (PRIMATES OF PARK AVENUE by Wednesday Martin.  Sweet Husband is glued to The Braves on TV.  What a day.  Kenny Stabler died today.  In case you don't know, he was a football giant at the University of Alabama before he played for the Oakland Raiders.  Omar Sharif died today, too.  He was the dreamy Dr. Zhivago with those big liquid brown eyes.

Time marches on.

 





09 July 2015

TOO HOT





The last few days have been hot as blue blazes.  Like a delicate flower, I just wilt.  Clearly my Anglo-Celtic genes are kicking in, because my DNA is rooted in cooler climes.  For quite a few evenings I got in some porch sitting albeit in front of a fan, but even at nine o'clock in the evening now, it is still too hot to sit out there.  Today the heat index was well over a hundred. 



For a wonderful summer movie, you really should watch Danny Collins with Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner and Bobby Cannavale.  After hours of unsuccessfully trying to download it from iTunes last night, I tried Amazon Instant Video and was able to get it on my iPad.  It is definitely a feel-good story, but what's wrong with that?  




It was so funny to see Al Pacino as an aging rock star.  (He can do absolutely anything.)  There was a distinct resemblance in both his  appearance and in the music to a real entertainer I won't name, and I kept thinking, 'I wonder how much they paid "the guy I have in mind" to do this parody so they don't get sued?'  ;>P  




The movie story is based on the real story of a young musician in the 1970s (actually a Brit) to whom John Lennon wrote a letter after he read a magazine interview in which the young musician expressed fear that if he became rich and famous he would lose his creative mojo and somehow become a bad person.  Lennon assured him that he would not.


I painted that old box from the beach years ago.

The young musician never got John Lennon's letter, because it was sent in care of the magazine, and the greedy interviewer nabbed it and sold it to a collector.  I won't tell you any more, but I think you will find this a really great summer movie.  I first read about it on Splenderosa's blog, and it really intrigued me so I looked it up.  After reading about the real guy (Steve Tilston) and the movie itself, I really wanted to see it.  (It is rated R for the language and nudity so don't plan to watch it with your kids.)


The gift bags from Estee Lauder this summer are in sync with my MBR!



I haven't done any more big projects like the LR floor yet, just one little goofy little art project. It's too hot in the garage/studio to work on the gold-leaf chair right now.




That perpetual thorn in my side The ARB turned down our request to install a Sunsetter Retractable Awning over the garage door to block the intense Western sun.  I am looking for a good real estate lawyer who is well-versed in the powers, or lack thereof, of a homeowner's association.  Anybody know one?  I am itching for a battle with these old curmudgeons.


Sweet Husband bought me a new summer bag!  It holds all my stuff, but of course, it is so heavy I can barely lift it!

The aforementioned goofy little art project
which is a styrofoam wig-head I painted.
I call her Wiggy Woman.


Over the weekend I read BEACH TOWN   and I really enjoyed that, too.  Last week I read THE PERFUME COLLECTOR, and thought it was quite captivating.  There is a big stack of books and magazines calling my name, and I can't think of a better way than reading to spend these days that are just too hot to wiggle, as my mother used to say.


Interior of the doors of armoire


The photos you are seeing are a few snippets from the never-ending master bedroom redo.  The process has been more of an evolution than a redo, really.  I am thinking that maybe I should do a feature on the many guises of this bedroom because it has been changed a whole bunch of times over the last few years.  I haven't made much  progress on the armoire as you can see.  Fall can't get here soon enough -- that's when the disgusting carpet goes bye-bye.


She's a fun chick with a blue unibrow and hot pink triangles on her cheeks, isn't she?  And why should the irises of the eyes be white when green is funner?




In the big crazy outside world, the political scene is heating up, and I do love the comic relief one candidate in particular is providing.  However, I would like to buy him a headband to hold back that weird swoop in front.


Secured the sari to the bedposts with ribbon and tassels.  I am thinking it could use some ostrich plumes...  What???!


A iconic TV dad we all loved has stepped in some very deep doo-doo apparently.  It is sad because a lot of what he has said over the years to a disadvantaged community was so important and made so much common sense. Now it is all rendered useless, and that is a real shame.


"THE SPRITE"


Three major computer systems went haywire today, with the stock market at a standstill, planes that couldn't fly and a major financial newspaper stalled --   but we are being told that nothing was hacked.  Do you believe in such co-inky-dinks?  I find it very odd to say the least.




This morning Sweet Husband rescued one of my small art brushes from the drain in the laundry room.  It fell down the hatch when I was washing them out after painting Wiggy Woman.  My hero!



This bathroom snap is for you, Shelia!


Speaking of -- he has been working on the back gardens some more. I told him that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun.  He never listens to me.  I will share his handiwork soon.


That's a wrap for this week on the homefront.  See you soon.





I am linking over at Northern Nesting (and the rest of the gang) today for their big Share Your Style party.  Thanks kids!


P.S.  Something has been nagging at me.  It was the eyes.  That "whites of the eyes" are called the sclera.  The colored part is the iris, and the black part is the pupil.  So sorry -- it has been a long time since I studied Human Physiology with Mrs. Gibbins at Anniston High School!







Featured Post

GUEST POST BY BRENDAN DAVIS, aka "Son of Scribbler"

Guest Blog by Brendan Davis December 11, 2016 Beijing, China Hello, dear readers and friends - virtual or otherwise - of my ...