Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book of the Week

The Perfect Red;  Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire
Amy Butler Greenfield

In the sixteenth century one of the world's most precious commodities was the red dye cochineal produced by the insect, Dactylopius coccus. Treasured and used by the ancient Mexicans and sold in Aztec marketplaces it was first introduced to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors. The dye created a sensation in Europe producing the strongest, brightest and most lasting red the world had ever seen; wars, intrigue and legends surrounded it for over three centuries.

This book follows the story of pirates, explorers, alchemists, spies, and scientists on their adventures in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth: a perfect red. I found it fascinating

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School!

Winslow Homer:  The Blackboard

This morning when I went out jogging the sidewalks were once again busy with children either walking or riding bikes, some accompanied by their parents, on their way to the first day of school. The friendly crossing guard, who insists that I need help crossing the street, was back at his corner complaining that the summer went too fast. It seems that my life has always revolved around the school year: first as a student; then married to an educator and eventually becoming a teacher myself. So now to me, even though I am no longer teaching, the beginning of the new school year is the start of the "new year" rather than in January. It is the time to take on new endeavors; enroll in new classes; return to the old ones and the start of the new TV season. In the garden it is the time to take stock of what did well and what changes can be made for next spring. And of course this time of year means bulbs! A promise for tomorrow contained.

How are you affected by the start of the new school year?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Garden in Yellow

Yellow is an attention getter; it connotes happiness and joy...

Late summer at Rose Arbors is the season of is the time when the yellow flowers dominate and add a much needed boost of color. Most of these flowers come from Lantana, sunflowers, Rudbeckia, Thunbergia, and Coreopsis, plants so common that they are almost thought of as weeds by many. But they are easy with their demands and consistent with their bloom; it would be very dull here without them.

What color is your garden this time of year?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

Hooray; my new camera has arrived! At least I think it's my new camera

Wow...what have I gotten myself into; there's a lot of stuff here.

Good bye little friend, there's a new kid in town and I am in love.

I have wanted to get a new camera for a long time. My little 2 pixel Fuji has been great but was definitely ready for retirement. My preference was for a SLR digital, deciding whether to get a Canon or a Nikon was the difficult part. For several reasons I decided on a Nikon: my daughter loves hers, plus I have several lens and other accessories from an old film Nikon that could be used with a new one. So, I now have a Nikon D5000 and the quality of the pictures I have taken so far, compared to the Fuji, is amazing. Now, what on earth in an class anyone?

Two sources I found helpful in making this purchase were:  A good information source on all things related to photography.  An online store; easy to deal with; delivery on time; good prices and on this item no delivery charges or sales tax.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Fashionista

The birthday girl: AKA the Fashionista

The Stores and the restaurant

The loot

A day with they say in the commercial - Priceless!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dilemma

Four very nice people are coming for lunch and I want to use my new chicken plates. Okay, I guess I have to admit that I am a bit of a "china-aholic"...but these plates from Marshalls at $3.99 a piece were just too good to pass up and perfect for alfresco dining.

So what would be nice served on the plates? Why a taco salad of course: easy, fast, delicious and perfect for a summer day. Everyone makes their taco salad a bit differently. I like to include the following:

Ground beef; seasoned to taste with cumin, salt, pepper, garlic and chili powder.
Kidney beans
Whole corn
Diced scallions
Grated cheese
Thinly sliced, and lightly fried tortilla strips

Pile it all up, lightly dress with an Italian dressing and serve salsa on the side


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book of the Week

Celebrating with Julienne

This lovely cookbook was written by Susan Campoy, the chef and founder of Julienne bistro in San Marino, California. I made the Graham Cracker Chewy Bars  after they were featured in the cooking section of the Los Angeles Times. They were so good that I figured any cookbook with such a yummy recipe was worth having in my collection. In addition to the Graham Cracker Chewy Bars, I have made and can vouch for the following:

Crystallized Ginger Cookies
Croque Monsieur with tomato-apricot chutney
Warm Filet of Beef Sandwich with carmelized onions
Linguine Chinois

These are only a few of the wonderful treats available in this book

Bon Appetite!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is Heather's birthday!

"A daughter is a gift of love"..........unknown author

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


White Washing the Fence by Norman Rockwell

"You can never judge a paint color by the liquid color in the paint pot. You must apply it to the wall, wait for the paint to dry, and then decide."

Dorothy Draper...interior decorating doyenne and author of, Decorating is Fun!

I love paint. I love how something so easy and really very inexpensive to do, can completely change a space. And I love how paint can be manipulated through faux applications to add texture, and even architectural interest to a room.
But, oh Dorothy...if only picking out the color was so easy. And you left out one important detail: the enormous part that light, both natural and artificial, affects paint color. Although I follow your rules, it is because of light that I have trouble picking out paint; it is what turns a perfect soft cream color in morning into intensely hued and unacceptable ochre in the afternoon sun. Last week, after so many visits to Home Depot that the salespeople in the paint department began to cringe when I walked in - coming home with umpteen samples of paint to try, and doing as Dorothy advised I finally decided on the paint colors for the new family room project. I consider myself lucky this time...I only had to re-repaint two walls.

Do you have trouble with paint? Or is it just me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Place to Sit and Ponder

I don't spend much time sitting in the garden, there is just too much to do and sitting down seems to call attention to it. But on summer evenings when darkness approaches this is a nice place to sit for a few minutes and ponder. Close enough to the house to listen to music wafting out and sip a glass of wine. Tonight, arias....tomorrow, perhaps Squirrel Nut Zippers, or Rod Stewart.

pot: L'oreille du la cochon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A New Project

"You have to break a few eggs to make an omlet"...old cliche

The family room at Rose Arbors, with its dated, circa 1990 wall paper, has been sorely in need of a make-over. The real catalyst in doing this, besides the updating aspect, was the need to house a new flat screen TV. Anyone that knows me also knows that I am a habitual decorator - the "Mrs Winchester" of home improvement: one idea always in my head before the completion of the current one. In most building projects thing get pretty messy before you begin to see any results. These are pictures of the messy part, a la the "broken eggs" mentioned will have to wait to see the omelet.