Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Beater Tantrum

Blueberry Buckle
Originally uploaded by

The other day, I got a wild hair to make blueberry buckle. Buckle is sort of like a scratch cake with a fruit layer and then a crunchy sweet topping over it all. Anyway, one of W4D's work buds had given us a nice big bowl of freshly picked, local blueberries and I decided I needed, right that second, to make something with those berries.

There was a reason for the urgency. My housekeeper was still upstairs and I reasoned that if I could get the buckle made before she got to the kitchen, I wouldn't need to clean up the flour that I always seem to get everywhere. I figured I had about an hour before she made it downstairs so time was of the essence.

I assembled all the ingredients, and got my little hand mixer out. After all, it was only an 8 inch blueberry buckle and I didn't need that huge, bothersome mixer that has to be assembled, parts gathered from all over the place. I only use the big mixer for big jobs. My little hand mixer would be perfect and fast and I could pop that nice fresh blueberry desert into the oven before it got too hot and not have to clean up the mess to boot. Great plan!

Everything was ready when I noticed that the beater blades were not with the hand mixer. That was odd. I searched the cabinet where I have kept the hand mixer and blades for 23 years. I searched the other cupboards and the utensil drawers. I searched all the places anything could possibly be stashed and no danged beaters anywhere. Now W4D has this obnoxious habit of taking it upon himself to re-arrange my pantry. IF he doesn't like where something is stored, he takes it upon himself to organize MY kitchen stuff to HIS liking. Please be advised that I am the NEAT one. I am the ORGANIZED one. His stuff is never put away, his workshop looks like a disaster area, his car, a refugee camp. He doesn't know how to put clothes in a drawer or to even close a drawer. BUT! if a steenkin' stainless steel pot lid gets in his way when he wants to get out the pancake griddle, he will re-arrange MY whole cupboard so that the danged griddle is in the front, never mind that we might only use that freakin' griddle once per month and I use the pot lids every day. But I digress.

Time was a' waistin' and I had an emergency cooking situation since I could hear the usual occasional crashes as the housekeeper knocked over the chatchkes in the bookcases in the center hall upstairs as she dusted. She's klutzy but we are used to each other and she'd soon be heading downstairs so I got out the flashlight and the kitchen ladder and searched high and then got down on my old sore hands and knees and searched low. I dragged everything out of four different cupboards and cabinets and no fricken beater blades.

That SOBW4D had surely moved my beaters.

By that time, I had been searching and cussing for almost an hour. Have I ever mentioned that I detest baking anyway? Every baking utensil known to mankind was strewn over my kitchen EXCEPT the right beaters. I was livid.

W4D was out of town giving a meeting but I didn't care. I called him on the cell phone and as soon as I heard him say hello, I screamed hysterically,

"Where the f--k are my g-damned beaters?"

W4D inquired calmly, "What are you talking about?"

I ranted and screamed, "I know you moved my f--ing beaters so tell me where they are right now. I have absolutely had it with you!"

W4D was stammering and saying something in a whisper like "Look, I'll have to call you back, I'm in a meeting." So, I screamed at the top of my lungs again,

"I'm asking you one last g-damn time, where the f--k are my beaters?"

It was at that time that I heard a chorus of female voices in the distance say in unison,

"Look in the cabinet."

Arghhhhh! Who knew the voice of an hysterical woman carried that loudly over the cell phone? Is there a speaker on that thing? I hung up. Pronto.

I turned to see the housekeeper leaning on the broom, surveying the ransacked kitchen, grinning like a Cheshire cat. She suggested I just use the big mixer instead. Grrrr. It took me 20 minutes to get everything back in order and I then made the buckle after dragging out all the components for the big mix master machine. The blueberry buckle that I have made so many times before didn't rise and was sad, doughy and all that was salvageable was the top half, no doubt, because I was such a bitch and embarrassed ole W4D in front of a bunch of folks.

I still haven't found my beater blades (I KNOW he MOVED them even if he won't admit it). I refuse to bake anything again until autumn and I really need to quit cussing like a sailor.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember all of those who gave their lives so that we might be free, a time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of democracy, in war and in peace.

Memorial day has been celebrated since the end of the Civil War but Americans seem to have forgotten that it is a holiday to honor our soldiers rather than the beginning of summer, an extra day off from work, a time for cook-outs, parties and sales at the mall.

This weekend, DH and I will go over to the cemetery and place a small American flag on the grave of my father-in-law. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and was a Navigator on a B-27 during the war to end all wars. He was wounded and shot down over Guadalcanal.

Originally uploaded by flaurella.

My father-in-law liked the military, serving his country, and stayed in the Navy after the end of WW2, going on to serve as a Flight Line Chief. He retired after serving 20 years in the Navy and missed his service so much that he re-enlisted in the Air Force for six more years. He served in the South Pacific during WW2, and the Korean "Conflict," and was also stationed in Italy, Maryland, Key West, Pensacola, San Diego - and probably a few other places over the 26 years he served but my memory is failing.

Big Frank was a patriot and a gentleman and I thank him and all the others who have served our country.

Navy Buddies
Originally uploaded by flaurella.

I can't remember the names of these two fellas flanking my father-in-law. They were buddies that he went off to war with in 1942 and I wish I could remember their names to print them here. They were heroes and I salute them as we honor all who have served our country this Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dinner Comes Together

You were probably wondering why I started the week with mango salsa. Sure you were. I had some nice Mahi Mahi in the fridge and there was all that nice fresh fruit and produce at the outdoor market. This will entry completes the dinner I made on Sunday to go with the mangoes.

Bean Bundles
Originally uploaded by

Green beans are 89 to 99 cents a pound this time of year so we eat a lot of them. The secret to good green beans is to never overcook them. There is a reason they are not called dull gray beans.

Here's how I make green bean bundles. Trim and string the beans if needed. I don't like stubby green beans so I rarely cut them in half. As everyone knows, size matters. So prep those green beans and cut two slices off a small colorful sweet pepper. This week, I had red, orange and yellow peppers on hand. Peppers of a smaller girth work best since otherwise, you will have a huge mound of green beans. Again, size matters.

Put about an inch of water in your green bean pot. Turn it to high and add some salt, about a teaspoon of sugar and to give those beans a lovely flavor, a half teaspoon or so of fennel seed. Crush it up in your hands by rubbing them togrether as you drop the fennel seeds in the rapidly heating water, mashing up the seed a little bit or at least, bruising them. Fennel seeds have a light, sweet almost licorice flavor.

When the water gets to a boil, drop in the beans. I'll share my mother's veggie rule: Drop veggies that grow above ground into already boiling water -- bring veggies that grow below ground to a boil in the pot. Don't start underground veggies in boiling water and don't start above ground veggies in cold water. This rule works pretty well for most vegetables.

Back to the stove: Bring the green beans back up to a boil, then adjust the heat to medium high and cook for about 5 minutes. You want them tender but bright green. Test them with a fork until done to your satisfaction. About a minute before the beans are done, drop in the pepper rings to soften them so they are pliable. They can just sit there on top of the beans 30 seconds or so and get steamed. Fish out the pepper rings with your fork and set aside to cool. Remove the beans, drain them and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and when cool enough to handle, they are ready to bundle.

Just slip the green beans into the softened, blanched pepper rings. You can do this in advance of serving your meal so get them ready and at the last minute, you can nuke them quickly and brush them with a bit of butter so they glisten. Move warm bundles to serving plates with a spatula.

Mahi Plate
Originally uploaded by

Dinner comes together when you grill, broil or steam some Mahi. Mahi is the name given dolphin, the fish, not the mammal. After so many people thought they were eating Flipper instead of a cold-blooded sport fish, the restaurant industry got together and decided to call it something else so diners didn't freak! Anyway, I topped the fish with both sweet mango garnish and the hot mango salsa since we couldn't decide which we wanted. Both were great but DH likes the hot salsa better. Add some roasted potatoes and your green bean bundles and you have a healthy and delicious dinner. Everything can be made ahead except the fish. Easy as pie.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

LADYBUG Jewelry and Free Ladybug Graphics

LADYBUG Jewelry - Free Ladybug Graphics
What could be more fun for summer accessories than Ladybug Jewelry? While you are there, pick up some free ladybug wallpapers and graphics!

(this is a test of "Blog This" instant URL blogger)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mangos for Salsa & Garnish

Sweet Mango Garnish
Originally uploaded by

Today as I continue to use the fresh fruit and veggies from the Farmers Market, I'll write about mangos and two ways to make a nice fruit garnish or salsa to enhance fish, chicken or pork.

Sweet Mango Ga
rnish (recipe)

Coarsley chop 1/2 large sweet mango
(there's a long flat part in the center - don't eat that part)
Chop up half a green sweet pepper and
Half a red sweet pepper
Add the juice of one large lime
Add a couple of TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
(yes, Olive Oil!)
If you have them, finely chop up a scallion or two and include as much of the green part at the top as is tender and fresh.

Stir it all up, lightly salt, cover tightly with Saran wrap and refrigerate at least several hours or up to 24 hours. Serve cold with hot fish, pork or chicken as a tropical garnish.

You can also add fresh chopped mint or coconut if you leave out the scallions. This is a colorful garnish that adds a unique flavor

Hot Mango Salsa
Originally uploaded by

Hot Mango Salsa Recipe:

Scald and skin some fresh tomatoes or use some quality stewed, canned ones to equal about 1 and 1/2 cups. Add some chopped jalapeno or chipotle peppers, depending upon how hot you can stand it. Frankly, very hot works great with this salsa since the mango is extremely sweet and balances the flames of hot peppers perfectly. Finely dice and add about 1/4 cup of onions. Chop up and add about 2 TBSP of fresh cilantro, Italian flat leaf parsley or regular parsley if that's all you have. Add the juice of 1/2 a fresh lime. (Don't use lemon - lime is much better with mango). Serve with your favorite seafood or meat dish, or with nachos instead of regular old plain salsa. I love the pain of very hot peppers and the relief of the sweet mango so I make this very hot and spicy. Try it as hot as you like.
Later this week, I'll show you how I served this mango fruit garnish and salsa.

On a different note, one of my fave character actors has passed away. Howard Morris, who played Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show, has died at age 85. Did you know he was also the voice of the McDonald's Hamburglar as well as the voices of many characters on The Flintstones and The Jetsons? Rest in peace, Ernest T. Also passing away on the same date, May 22, was The voice of Tony the Tiger, Kellogg's pitchman, Thurl Ravenscroft. I'll think of Thurl everytime I hear that joke...

"What do you call a blonde in the freezer?"

A Frosted Flake.

(Yes, I know it's bad but ol' Thurl woulda loved it.)
Just what sort of parents names their son, "Thurl?"
"Ravenscroft" sounds English to me. I think it would all make more sense if they were Scandanavian or a genuine Thurlish family.
Go figure.

Monday, May 23, 2005


gardenia on desk
Originally uploaded by
I had a terrible day. It sucked.

At some point tonight while I was ranting and bitching about prepping dinner, which I didn't even think about starting until 9-ish, DH slipped a fragrant gardenia blossom onto my desk. It's in a tiny clear vase and it smells divine. It's the first gardenia of the season and it reminds me of my very first car date on a fragrant May evening so long ago, with Lonnie Lewis, who picked me up in his gargantuan black 1959 Plymouth. He took me to the Columbia Restaurant. I wonder what ever happened to Lonnie?

Gardenias are intoxicating. I think I'll grab one more glass of wine and head upstairs and take a bubble bath. Who needs Lonnie when you have DH?

How about this!? My third entry in a single day. It's BlogGal, gone wild!

Chicken Chimichangas

Originally uploaded by flaurella.

Gall dang it! I can't seem to do this in the order I had planned and I can't figure out how to insert more than one photo at a time via FLICKR. I'll try to make time to read the directions by fall so in the meantime, hang in there with me as I explore how to do this blog and photo stuff.

Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Your will need:
Large flour tortillas
Cooked, de-boned chicken meat in chunks or strips (leftover chicken works fine)
Canned green chilis (I prefer whole)
Refried beans (I use canned)
Sharp grated Cheddar or Jack cheese
Your fave salsa (at least use medium hot to give them some kick)

Have a large skillet at medium heat for you need to quickly heat each side of each tortilla so it rolls easily and without cracking. You also need to have all your ingredients lined up and ready to use. Think of it as an assembly line:

Place a tortilla in the med. hot pan for about 10 - 15 seconds, then flip it over. You are just heating them until they are softly warm and pliable. Now, slap that tortilla at the starting end of your assembly line in the order of the ingredients listed above:

Onto the bottom 1/4 of the tortilla, place a few strips of cooked chicken. You can place chicken almost to the edge since the tortilla is wider as you roll it up. On top of the chicken, place a strip of green chili pepper that you have cut into long strips. One can of green chilis will make enough strips for 8 chimi's. Now, add and spread a couple of small spoonfuls of refried beans. This is the cement that holds your chimi together. I use a little more than a tablespoon of beans and spread it out along the length of the chicken. Now, sprinkle lots of your favorite shredded cheddar or jack along the length of the ingredients and finally dot the whole pile of the stuffing with salsa. You may need to experiment with just how much of each ingredient to use to get the size just right, and the flavor and texture just right as well. You don't want the chimi to be too wet inside and you do want the whole thing to end up larger than a Chinese Egg Roll.

Now, to fold:
Take the bottom of the tortilla and fold it up just over the strip of stuff you just put there, then grasp each side and fold them in and pull toward you, giving the tortilla a half roll. This is when you scrunch down the filling and make it firmly packed. By now you have an odd envelope with closed sides and bottom so all you need to do is roll over and over again with tucked edges until you form a packet and your chimi is ready to fry. Repeat for as many chimis as you wish to make and don't forget to heat each tortilla about 10 to 15 seconds on each side to make it easy and flexible for folding and rolling. A couple of large boneless cooked chicken breasts will make 8 chimis if you cut the meat in strips or chunks.

As you make each chimi, place it open end down on a platter. When done with all, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan in the same pan you used to heat the chimis to medium high or about 375 degrees. When the oil is hot, gently place chimis in with the raw seam side down. Roll them over every few minutes until nicely golden brown on all sides. You may need to do this in batches.

At this point, I usually remove the chimichangas to the toaster oven and keep them warm while I finish the rest of the cooking and set up the plates. To serve chimis, top one or two with some salsa, then grated cheese. Then pile on lots of slivered lettuce, chopped fresh tomato, perhaps some roasted peppers, some more salsa and cheese if you like and a dollop of sour cream. I usually serve chimi's with chick pea salad and yellow rice. If I don't, W4D always asks if I am trying to put him on a diet.

More of today's entry is below this one. Doh! I need to read the directions.

Farmers Market Bounty

Farmers Market
Originally uploaded by
I like buying fresh produce at the Farmer's Market and the flea markets as well as at roadside stands. This week, there were tons of inexpensive fruit, corn, pepper varieties, assorted green veggies, herbs and plenty of tropical things like mangos, papayas and more. Since I like to cook with fresh ingredients, we'll be having plenty of dishes with peppers and fruit this week. In the next entry for today, I'll tell you how to make chimichangas.

Friday, May 20, 2005

From My Garden

Originally uploaded by flaurella.

My alstroemeria is blooming like crazy! Have a huge bouquet of them in the office. I have two large patches of them and even though they are only supposed to grow 40 inches tall, mine are already over 4 feet tall and still growing. I love the cut flowers because they last so long. If you change the water every day, even the ones from the florist will last a couple of weeks. I always have fresh flowers in the house but it tickles me when they don't cost a dime! You can grow them, too. Once they take off, they come back year after year. Learn more about alstroemeria.

Am also using this photo for wallpaper on the puter. Click the photo for a larger version and then set as wallpaper (stretch). It goes nicely with the Win XP color scheme, "Olive" green.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Princess and The Bed

Greetings! I am totally exhausted tonight, having been updating vintage jewelry pages for 2 days straight, 14 hours per day. I have written so many product descriptions that my fingers are worn to nubs and I can't think of a thing to write here. So, have decided to send you to one of the first stories I wrote and published on the web.

The year was 1995 and yes, we still have the object about which I wrote. I am intimate with it nightly but so is the dog so that means nothing. It is however, a true story as all who were present can attest.

Am too tired to figure how to post the page here so instead, I shall link you. Either click on the title of this entry or click here to read my tale of woe.

Or here:

I have freshly ground chuck steak, two huge Florida tomatoes, fresh Vidalia onions form Georgia and huge fresh onion rolls. I have been thinking for two days about the juicy steak-burgers I am going to grill for tonight. Time to get into the kitchen so that I am done and ready to watch The Apprentice. Don't quote me but I think a woman is gonna win this time.

Time for a little bourbon to whet the appetite. Hasta la vista.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Steamy Days, Restricted Sites

New Guinea Impatiens
Originally uploaded by flaurella.

It is starting to get steamy in North Florida. I hate summer and the heat. I've had to move my New Guinea Impatiens to shaded areas. The sun in the afternoon is hot and since we've lost two huge trees to hurricanes last year, there isn't as much shade in the back yard in some areas.

The photo today (click to enlarge) shows the huge, hot pink blossoms of one of my plants. The largest blossoms are three 3 inches across! Once the heat gets to them, the blossoms will be smaller as the year progresses even though New Guinea Impatiens are bred to withstand higher temps than non-hybrid, more delicate, shade-loving impatiens.

A thank you to reader FooFoo LaMar for alerting me to the free martini CD that is offered by Van Gogh Vodka. I have their 2004 Martini recipe CD and it has 10,347 martini recipes on it. This year's disk has 8406 recipes. I wonder what happened to those 1741 lost martinis?

Regardless, you will want to check out this nice free offer. Last year's CD had some wallpapers and fun time wasters on it as well as every martini recipe ever conceived by mankind. The Van Gogh Vodka web site is interesting, too. Lots of recipes and industry news. If you are 21 years or older, you'll want to drop by and request a free disk at their web site. Oddly, I have entered the URL a dozen times and every time I try to publish it, the Blogger deletes it. Maybe there is some rule against publishing site URLs to booze distributors? I dunno!

If you are 21 or older, just Google Van Gogh Vodka and you'll find it. I am tired of doing this over and over and having my post poof.

Last night, it was 62 degrees for a low. I fear we have seen the last of our gentle spring nights of temperatures in the 50's. Have I ever mentioned that I detest the heat of summer?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Who Needs TV?

For several months, W4D has been offering to run a cable hook-up into my bathroom upstairs. This is the bath with the original 1880's fittings, the Victorian claw foot tub, the old French windows and no shower. Because it has no shower, DH rarely ventures in there, and it is mine, ALL MINE! It is a very feminine retreat and I consider it a private domain in which I can relax and pamper myself.

This is the bath in which I have all my personal accoutrement. It is full of bubble concoctions, scented salts, herbs, potions and lotions and girly things. I have relaxation CD's and my favorite music and pink glass wind chimes hanging in the double window which looks out on a huge, old magnolia tree. The bath is full of scented candles. The wallpaper is pastel pink roses with cream, accented with a little pale mint green. It never gets man hairs in the sink or towel lint on the floor since no one uses it but me.

I have this little color AC/DC TV that has an embedded VCR. It's is cute and white and not an ugly dark TV and frankly, it does go nicely with all the white wicker and porcelain in my private bath.

Now keep in mind that this is a Victorian 1885 house with no extraneous electrical outlets, and certainly no extra cable or DSL outlets. Some rooms didn't even have electric when we moved here many years ago. There were gas lights only in some rooms.

So, DH keeps offering to wire my cute little white TV into the bath, next to my tub where I loll about two or three times per week. Isn't that thoughtful? Dear Hubby brings this up frequently. He surely seems to want me to have TV in my bathroom. Perhaps this is so that he can watch even more sports on TV if I am occupied elsewhere? Maybe he just wants me to be able to watch Turner Classic Movies in the tub?

During supper last night, DH, aka W4D, calmly and nonchalantly expressed the fact that we might want to consider purchasing life insurance for me. This is a somewhat predictable discussion that occurs every year or so and usually follows those times when I inquire about his retirement status. Logical thought, right?

While I plan to outlive him by at least 20 years, I do find this discussion somewhat disconcerting, especially after it follows the intention of insertion and elevation of an electrical device next to my bathtub.

Tonight, I was informed that I can have 10K life insurance for only $15 per month. Excuse me?? Not a bargain, said I, a losing proposition since I plan to outlive the math - to which, DH immediately informed me that I could instead have 500K life insurance at my age for only $375 per month.

My brows lifted as I gave him an incredulous look. The bum then smiled and said we would only need pay it for a couple of months.

I don't think I will allow him to wire that cute little white TV next to my bathtub.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Goin' South

I've decided I shall not blog on the weekends. I can always comment about weekends on Monday.

I was very pleased with the outcome of
Survivor this season. Tom the Brooklyn Fireman, was my favorite and I am delighted he won. He deserved it! Besides, I always root for the older peeps. I wonder how Rudy from Season One is doing? He must be getting pretty close to 80 by now. He was a pip. I wish he'd won, too.

W4D's commuter car (ack, we've already had it for 8 months? can it be??)

doesn't have a digital compass and we are used to having one so we miss knowing which way we are headed. This weekend, the DH picked out a little bubble one for the dash. It won't stick on the dash - has to go on the windshield or something glass. Inconvenience numero uno.

On the way home from Tar-JAY, I applied it to the glass light on the header or whatever you prefer to call the ceiling of a car. We were headed south. I noticed that the compass directive needle was on South the whole time it was in the nearly indestructible, need a hacksaw to open packaging, but that's the also the direction we were driving by the time I got it positioned.

W4D had to keep looking skyward to see it so I decided as ugly as it appears, it would have to be on the windshield or my Dear Hubby would surely crash into something while he was constantly glancing upward to see which direction he was headed - not that he hasn't been driving this same road and this same direction two to four times per day for the last 20 odd years.

Anyway, we took a little side jig East and the compass was still pointing South. DH informed me that this little water bubble with the floating compass probably just needed "time to warm up." :::rolling eyes::: I burst out laughing. He really believed what he said so I bit my tongue and suggested we speed up the warming up process by circling through the parking lot at the district post office in Gainesville. We did a complete 360 over about 40 acres and the compass did slightly "warm up" to SSE when we turned West. Never once in the rest of the full circle did that ball bobble, move or even twitch. Now remember, this is a water based bobbling bubble compass, the kind you see all the time. It is not near anything magnetic or electric. By this time, I have had it in 4 different places and it still points South. The packaging says it was made in China. I am thinking it must have been made in South China.

Always the optimist, DH flicks it a few times, taps it, boings it, jiggles it and we are headed south and yes, the compass shows the correct direction. I decide the compass has got to go or we will surely end up in a ditch or worse. It is a total distraction when you are driving and can't take your eyes off the compass.

We headed East, the compass showed South. We headed West and the compass showed South. DJ still thinks it just needs a little more time to warm up. Okay. Whatever you say, dear.

A new day dawns... After DH drove North, NW, NE and N again today on the way to work, I inquired of the compass. DH asked if I had saved the receipt. He's going to trade it in on a Big Mac or something tomorrow after he makes a trip to Target to get his $2.79 back. I told him he should keep it a few days longer for it is probably still warming up.

This gives the old expression "goin' south," more meaning, doesn't it? bwahahahaha!

Dinner last night was a nice pork tenderloin

that I marinated for 36 hours and then grilled outside. Pork tenderloins always have one end that tapers off to nothing so to grill it evenly, just fold the skinny end up until it is uniform in width with the top part of the tenderloin. You can tie it off with butcher twine or if grilling, use fireproof twist ties if you have them on hand.

To go with the grilled tenderloin, I made fresh haricot verts (green beans to us in the South, snap beans elsewhere?) with tiny creamers.

You will note that I peeled slices off the creamers just as I always do even though I had purposely selected the tiniest possible creamers (new potatoes) at the market. None of them were larger than a quarter, each only slightly larger than a quail egg. I dressed the veggies with a butter and minced garlic with herb sauce of dill weed and parsley and added lots of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. The best part is that there's enough left for a second meal later this week.

I think I already have enough meals cooked so that I don't have to cook from scratch at all this week. I can serve pre-cooked foods which are much better than frozen stuff. In fact tonight, we are having crispy, leftover fried chicken. I'll slam together some smashed potatoes, slather them in butter, steam some fresh broccoli and dinner will be ready in less than 20 minutes. I love it when a plan comes together.

Happy Monday.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Flower Beds & Sweet Dreams

Everything went fine at the dentist. A couple of prescription Xanax can work wonders on a phobia. I slept really well and long last night.

Thought I would clue you in on my latest passions, bed and bath pampering. I'll discuss bath in another entry - this one is about beds. After all, we spend at least one third of our lives in bed so beds are important.

First, I am and always have been, an insomniac. Five hours of sleep a night has been my life long standard. Five hours sleep is a good, full sleepy night for me and I can't imagine what it is like to sleep 8 hours every night. However, once you hit a certain age :::ahem::: and have hot flashes and night sweats, sleeping can become a problem. There are many nights that I only get one or two hours of sleep. While I allow myself a half an Ambien twice a week, I spend much of the nighttime awake, watching old movies on the tube, reading, planning, plotting, wandering, well... you get the picture.

Because of this love/hate relationship with bed, I have become obsessed with high thread count sheets, aroma therapy, sound machines, candles, comfort pillows and the whole shebang. If it has to do with sleep, I will read, research and consider. That said, I want to share two products I really like. (Did you know that you can click on some of my photos and see an enlarged version? Try it on this picture below.).

Flower Beds & Sweet Dreams
Originally uploaded by

The first is "Flower Beds" and I found them online several years ago. Flower Beds comes in a darling little galvanized tin watering bucket and is full of a fragranced powder-like stuff that you sprinkle on your sheets when you change the linens. It is silky and smells very delicate and nice. I suspect it is cornstarch-based as they say it contains no talcum. Whatever is in it makes the sheets cool and fresh and smooth. It helps me sleep. The web site is Flower Beds. The fragrances available are "Gardenia Petal" and "Cucumber Blossom." I buy two or more at once since you get a good deal on shipping if you buy more than one sprinkler at a time. Flower Beds product is very reasonable and makes a great gift and no, they don't know a thing about my endorsement.

The other product I've recently discovered is linen spray. Linen spray won't stain and it scents your sheets with your favorite fragrance. You can use it when you turn down the bed as well as when you iron your sheets. Now, I must admit, I don't iron my sheets. I used to years ago but then blends came along and it wasn't needed. Now, with all the high thread count cottons, you might need to iron your sheets unless you do as I, and stand over the dryer, snatching the sheets out, one by one with the dryer still tumbling and smoothing and folding them while still warm. Pictured above with Flower Beds is a spritz bottle of Plumeria Scented Linen Water by Taiusa's "Scentennials." When I spray it on the sheets and snuggle into bed, it is like drifting off to sleep in a springtime garden of sweet flowers. Here is the
Taiusa Scentennial web site
but they don't mention their Linen Spray. (I bought it at T J Maxx)

I found another site where you can buy products to make your own linen waters. That sort of sounds like fun if you have the time. Check out this supplier, Snow Drift Farm. I think I have seen other linen sprays and bed fragrances at Linens and Things and Bed, Bath and Beyond. I don't know about you, but I can never seem to find the "Beyond" department when I am shopping there.

If you like sleepy time stories, perhaps tomorrow, I shall tell you about the last time we bought a new bed. All of my stories are true and I don't even change the names to protect the innocent.

It's Chinese Take Out for supper tonight. Odds are, I'll be hungry again in a couple of hours. Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Doggie Birthday Dinner

Cindy wants to know what The Bubba had for his birthday dinner. I knew someone would ask so of course, I took a pic. W4D laughed at me for taking a picture of the dog's dinner yesterday. He is quite used to me taking a photo of his plate but he thought it was pretty funny that the dog had to wait as well.

The Bubba had junk food for his birthday

Originally uploaded by Flaurella.

He is 105 doggie years old and he can eat anything he wants. For lunch, he had a Greenie. Bubba loves Greenies. For supper, he asked for chicken nuggets. Now, these are not the kind from McDonalds or Wendy's. These are genuine home-cooked chicken nuggets in a light breading. His appetizer was three heart shaped Smart Bites. That is a treat for "senior" dogs that is fortified with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Both were served with a side of white rice. As you can see below, he enjoyed it.

W4D and I ate light, some fresh fried chicken white meat (all that I didn't give to the birthday pup) with a large salad of mixed greens (mesclun), raspberries, blackberries and feta cheese dressed with raspberry vinaigrette.

Whenever we eat that light for supper, I agree to some bread. We try not to eat much bread and almost always opt for 9 Grain Whole Grain Baker's Inn hearty bread but a croissant now and then won't kill us.

Tomorrow I have a dental appointment. I employ a fleet of the world's best dentists, periodontists, oral surgeons, etc. What I have spent on dental bills in my lifetime is more than the GNP of a small undeveloped country. I'll be pre-medicating shortly and I may miss tomorrow's entry while I sleep off the Xanax. You see, I am terribly dental phobic. The Xanax helps a lot with the phobia and it also helps me almost cheerfully pay the bill. Getting me there is the hard part.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Bubba

The Bubba
Originally uploaded by

Happy Birthday, Omar Sharrif Kyam, AKA, "The Bubba." Today you are 15 years old. In dog years, that is 105 years! The vet gave you a few weeks, some months ago and you are still doing well despite the heart failure and the prostate cancer. You are the best pet ever. Get ready for a special birthday supper to tonight!

Okay, I am still trying to figure out this Blog and Flickr stuff. If I did it right, you can click the following link and it will take you to a few more pictures of the Birthday WonderDog and his family.

Oddly, after tee dubbbble martoonies, the directions are sumwhut hard to follow.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by flaurella.

This photo of redbuds in McIntosh shows the tree blooming right from the trunk. This is a Flickr test and I hope it works. It can't be this easy? Flickr is great! Three posts today, keep scrolling.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Buds, Bloomers and Butter

What a nice day I had yesterday. The house is full of fragrant flowers. I had already received red roses earlier in the week and I had picked an armful of gladiolas from the yard on Friday. The ligustrum is also blooming so I have a bouquet of red geraniums and dainty white blooms as well. Ligustrums smells almost as sweet as the Confederate jasmine, which is also blooming outside. I'll have to pick some as soon as I have surface space. Friday, W4D gave me the most fragrant, rich pink roses that you can smell from across the room.

DD (dear daughter) arrived Sunday bearing a huge, gorgeous bouquet of mixed yellow flowers. In the bouquet are yellow roses, white lilies, yellow tiger lilies, alstromeria, petite cushion mums, hollyhocks, eucalyptus, and baby's breath. I can't even describe how good they smell and it's almost three feet high!

Lilies have the most delicate, sweet fragrance. I do adore fresh flowers and always have some in the house. My own home-grown alstromeria are about to bloom, too. Ah, spring! I'll have to be careful about adding more arrangements or the house will look like a funeral parlor. [chortle]

Dinner tonight will be more crab and shrimp. We couldn't eat it all yesterday.

W4D made a nice dinner for us. He grilled the shrimp and even made a nice salad with tomato basil feta cheese. We ate on newspaper and had fun tossing shells right onto the table. Shellfish is much more fun to eat when you can crack it and dunk it in drawn butter and toss the carnage in a pile in the center of the table.

One should always serve drawn butter with lobster and crab or any food that requires dipping in butter. Never use margarine, Blecch! Don't use salted butter either. Buy sweet cream (that means it is unsalted) butter for use in cooking. You can always add salt to a recipe but you can't take it out. Besides, sweet cream butter has a much more delicate flavor.

Drawn butter seems to mystify new cooks. It's really nothing but melted butter which has the butter fats (solids) skimmed off so that the butter is clear and golden and has no white foam or fatty solids floating in it. If you coat or dress foods with drawn butter, there will never be that icky, white looking film. I usually draw or clarify butter by chunking up a stick and nuking it (covered!) in the microwave for about 20 seconds at a time until it is all melted. Then I let it sit for a few moments and skim off the butter solids after they rise. It's easy to use a small pot on the stove with low heat if you'd rather or can also clarify butter right in the oven. Use whichever heat source is the easiest at the moment. You can skim with a small, tight mesh strainer or even use a spoon. Throw away all the icky white stuff you skim.

You can season drawn butter, too. Try adding fresh minced garlic to the still warm butter or add garlic powder if you must. Never use garlic salt. Always buy garlic powder if you don't use fresh garlic. (Just trust me on this.) Another seasoning that is good in drawn butter is Old Bay Seasoning. I like about a half teaspoon per stick (1/4 pound) of sweet cream butter. You might like more or less to taste. I sometimes use other herbs or even a little hot sauce.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hair of the Dog, Yo Mama

Hope everyone is having a nice Mother's Day. I am enjoying the day even though I have the Julep hangover from hayell. We attended a delightful Derby Party at the home of the Nottingham's. I have no idea how many juleps we guests imbibed but I am sure their liquor pantry looks like a plague of locusts ran through it We ate and laughed and drank far too much. Everyone had a grand time! Two of our friends had bet Giacomo to win. We didn't but I won the Party Derby Pool having drawn Giacomo by luck so that eased the pain of no winning race tickets. I am pretty sure others may be feeling the wrath of Knob Creek today but at least we all have really lovely, minty breath.

Kaitlin was here earlier and we had a delightful Mother's Day brunch prepared by DH: Belgian waffles with fresh raspberries and blackberries, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and apricot canoli. Kait made the canoli. There is something sinful about eating all of that for breakfast but I enjoyed every bite.

My mother passed away in her sleep almost 5 years ago. She was always telling me that she was going to die (I mean like every day!) and I never believed her. The day she surpassed her mother's age at death, she was even more certain that sure she wouldn't be here for long. Actually, she lived quite a time longer than did my grandmother but Mother managed to leave this world the week she always said she would, the week of Independence Day, just like her mother did. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish that I could call her and ask her something or have her come over for a visit.
I miss my Mother.


DH's mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer 17 years ago. She was my best friend and I loved her like my own mother. I wish Kait had been able to know her longer. She was such a special person.
I miss my mother-in-law, too.

DH (What's 4 Dinner) is fixing me a Mother's Day Feast of Snow Crabs, Key West Pink Boiled Shrimp, Corn on the Cob, Mixed Green Salad and Corona's With Lime. I do believe a little hair of the dog will be exactly what I need. Not sure what's up with the Corona Beer for I would really rather have white wine but I am not about to question the motives of the Chef.

I hope you were able to hug your mom today. If you have children, give them lots of hugs and enjoy the day. I can smell the limes being sliced so I am outta here!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Trip Notes

Our spring buying trip was not all work and no play. We made time to visit Macon and spend an extra night on the way north. Macon is a pretty little town and we had just missed the Cherry Blossom Festival but there were still some pretty pink cherry blossoms here and there and plenty of other blooming things.

Macon must have more churches per capita than any place besides McIntosh where we have a church per each 89 persons. (That's 5 Mcintosh churches!) This is St. Joseph's Catholic Church being renovated. Construction was started in the 1888 and completed in 1903 and it is now undergoing a major restoration.

The downtown area is charming and since Sherman missed Macon on his March To The Sea, there is some wonderful
historic and original antebellum architecture to explore.

There's a cute antiques shopping section on Ingleside Ave. Everyone we met was just as friendly as could be. We enjoyed spending a little extra time in the historic town of
Macon, GA and will visit again.

In North Carolina on our second day, we were totally surprised by a hearty spring snow so we stayed snuggled in at Moonpie (the cabin edges the Nantahala Forest) and is between Franklin, NC, and Wayah Bald. Since I took mostly Capri pants and platform flip flops, I wasn't prepared for cold weather. We got 4 or 5 inches of snow and it was 24 degrees with the wind howling at what seemed like gale force. My toes were cold! There were icicles over a foot long!

on the Wayah Road. It was slippery and there are no rails along the sides of the narrow road with sheer drops of hundreds of feet down the mountain side. I scream every time we drive there and I've been driving that road for almost 35 years. You can take the flatlander out of Florida but you can't make me stop screaming when there are no guard rails.

We took this picture of the snow on a split rail fence at Wilson Lick.

on the Wayah Bald road. Wilson Lick Ranger Station was built about 1913 and was the first ranger station in the Nantahala National Forest.

We took a day to go to the Cove. We've been going to Cades Cove, a 6,800-acre valley near Townsend, Tennessee for years and years. We love the Cove any time of year and it is equally as beautiful during any of the four seasons. Nineteen years ago, we were lucky enough to catch an unexpected, heavy spring snow in the Cove. They closed the Great Smoky National Park Roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway as impassable but we lucked out, isolated, had the whole place to ourselves and had the most perfect time that April. In fact, we had planned to run part of the Blue Ridge this trip but alas, heavy snow had the portion south of Maggie Valley closed again.

Anyway, the Cades Cove Loop Road Auto Tour is something you should do if you are ever in the area. Read all about it here. In fact, I have a painting of Carter Shields Cabin on the wall to my left as I type.

We try to visit Cades Cove at least twice per year. The leaves were tiny and tender and spring was popping at the Cove. Too early for bears but we saw several dozen wild turkey and dozens of deer and even a few woodchucks. No snow in the cove but we did have some
snow and ice at the Tennessee and North Carolina border

on the way over and back. You can see the ice pellets on our windshield behind our trip mascott, the little bear on the dash that I bought for 10 cents at a yard sale in Dillard, Georgia. Of course, it is over 5000 feet altitude along the TN/NC border so it is always on the cool side, even in the summer.

We antiqued and searched for jewels at all of our usual sources. The scenery is pretty and the weather is always interesting in the mountains. Here's a photo of the courthouse in Sylva, NC.

There were paperwhites, daffodils, iris, dogwoods, cherry blossoms, tulips, violets and other every spring flower blooming profusely. It is a treat to be able to enjoy Spring twice. Come to think, it was a treat to be able to enjoy winter twice, as well!

Thursday, May 05, 2005


As my granddaddy used to say, I'm still as busy as a one-armed paper hanger. I must remember never to return from a trip on the first of the month. Add to that, Mother's Day shopping traffic, and I am working 14 hours a day. I don't have time to put on my face, eat, or walk on the treadmill. I can't find an hour to get my hair washed or my nails done. I guess it isn't so terrible - I look a little rough but this too shall pass. After all, the only peeps who have seen me this week are the postal employees and any unsuspecting patrons at the post office. Luckily, it has been raining cats and dogs here for the last few days so I can get by wearing a hoodie and a raincoat.

I am sure you've read or heard about last weekend's "Runaway Bride" from north of Atlanta. We happened to be in the area at the time and caught all the local news as it came down. The 32 year old bride bolted. I can't say as I blame her since her entire engagement had been celibate at the bridegroom's request. Heck, I would have run amok, too!

Now, there's a lot of hoopla about her paying for the law enforcement's costs. Okay, she was wrong but the GA. Duluth Police Force didn't spend so much and they seemed to be loving the action and publicity. Let the Runaway and the Groom pay a penalty of compensation if that makes everyone feel better. Of course, she should never have said she was kidnapped but that was really way after the fact and after most of the search. Anyway, my DH, affectionately known as W4D, (What's For Dinner), works for the State of Florida in Social Services and we took interest that the GA State Social Service offices in the County of Gwinnett, Georgia, where Duluth is located, were CLOSED FOR CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL DAY last Monday and could not assist in the history of the family or the search details. :::::gasp::::

Just who still celebrates Confederate Memorial Day anymore?? (Gwinnett County, Georgia for sure and most of Georgia and Mississippi, I guess) FWIW, we don't have Confederate Memorial Day in Florida for all of our bad political press. Back to the Runaway Bride; she is a registered nurse who is 32 years old. Her daddy is a doctor. 600 Wedding guests as well as her 14 bridesmaids and the color co-ordinated groomsmen are sorely disappointed the the post nuptial fling ding was cancelled and they didn't get the shrimp and champagne. Mizz Runaway totally freaked and I don't blame her. The intended groom has been saving his sexual favors for after the wedding, not that there's anything wrong with that but these are people in their thirties. How many times can you be a virgin? The pressure on everyone must have been more than the bride could bare, err...bear. She bolted to Las Vegas and everyone knows, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Hey, I don't blame her one bit. I wish the press would shut up, already. I am sick of hearing about it.

I'll try to make time tell you about our trip. If not, we'll just skip it, okay? In the meantime, it is Cinco de Mayo and I have to go whip up something Mexican for dinner. Just what is it with these holidays? I never grew up celebrating Cinco de Mayo, did you? Sheesh! Next thing you know we'll be celebrating Bastille Day and Russian Independence Day or whatever. Of course, I think we could probably find something to celebrate every day of the year, then every day would be a holiday. Maybe I'm on to something here.

I've whipped up some nachos with meat sauce

and a couple of taquitos for a snack to keep W4D occupado while I make arroz con pollo. That's chicken and yellow rice which will have to suffice as our Cinco de Mayo Mexican holiday meal. I don't even have the makings for a margarita on hand. I'll have to put jalapeno stuffed olives in our martinis tonight. Arriba! Ondolay! Adios!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

In Memorium

Back from our trip and trying to get caught up with work and life in general. I bought scads of vintage jewels from shops, markets and auctions in four states. It will take me months to get them all added to Eclectica. More about the trip tomorrow but today is a memorial day to me.

On May 4 1970, 28 Ohio National Guardsmen shot into an anti-war gathering of American students at Kent State University. The college students had been protesting Viet Nam and the bombing in Cambodia. When they would not disperse, the over-zealous Guardsmen shot into the crowd killing four and wounding nine others.

Even after all these years, it still makes me very sad to think of this day in history. It was shocking and the whole nation was upset and grieved the deaths.

John Filo's photograph from that day

is still indelibly etched in my mind as well as most others of my generation. It was a sad time in the history of this country so I honor the memory of four slain students today and always.

Their names were:


If you don't know what happened 35 years ago, Google "Kent State 1970" and learn more.

Back to my usual silliness tomorrow. It's good to be home.