After we retired Mr. A and I decided we really did miss having a dog around the house and began a search for our new "forever friend." Over the years we've had several cockers and golden retrievers. Our last two dogs were goldens and we can't say enough wonderful things about the breed. However, they are a big dog (something I prefer) and Mr. A was hoping for something along the line of a "lap dog." Ideally, we wanted a nice, mellow middle aged dog that wanted to go for leisurely walks and enjoyed laying by the fire. As you can imagine, there aren't many dogs available with those traits...and when they are, they're snapped up immediately. We also thought it would be nice to adopt from a shelter. So, I began searching local humane societies in surrounding counties. If I would be willing to take a pit bull/mix dog there were many to choose from. That's not what we had in mind, so I moved on to searching on Petfinder. And, that's where we found Miss Gracie. Her story is less than ideal. The "rescue" organization turned out to be more of a no-kill shelter. The woman who ran the rescue had a house and barn in the country with lots and lots of horses and several kennels full of barking dogs. Miss Gracie and her littermate sisters, we were told, were an unwanted litter belonging to a neighbor. The owner volunteered to surrender the puppies in exchange for spay/neuter of her adult dogs. So, we went over the river and through the woods to her rescue farm and without much hesitation at all, returned home with Miss Gracie.....fleas, worms and all! Yup...for $158.50 you get all the fleas and worms you could ask for! So, Mr. A. and Mikey gave Miss Gracie two...that's two....flea baths and the next day we took her to the vet for worm medication and her first set of shots. She seems to have settled in quite nicely and has Mr. A. wrapped around her paw. He's the Alpha dog and in charge of teaching her things like not eating the lamp cord, rugs and our hands. We asked what breeds she might be...reply was...mother a poodle/schnauser and father a great pyrenese/collie. The visual of that is strange at best! The vet thinks she may grow to 50 lbs. (there goes Mr. A's lap dog) but only time will tell. So...stay tuned!
I've been told, by a "follower" that my lone December blog...was...well...less than exciting. Ho hum to be exact. I agree. I was caught up in holiday decorating, baking cookies and following my favorite blogs! Did I mention EATing LOTS of my favorite Holiday cookies? Each member of our family has a favorite cookie. Mr. A's favorite is his Grandmother's cutout cookies (lots of work but he says well worth it); Michael loves fudge; and Carrie and I can't get enough of my mother's Pecan Short cookies. My friend, Beth, thinks the pecan short recipe is the same one her mother made. Quite possible as we lived next door to each other way back when. Because this is MY blog and because they are my favorite....below is the recipe for pecan shorts:
350 degree oven
2 cups butter (4 sticks at room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups flour
2 cup pecans (chopped)
2 tsp salt
Cream butter and powdered sugar
Add flour/salt mixture a little at a time
Add chopped pecans
Roll into small balls and flatten with fork
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly brown
Put in a large zip loc bag ( 10 or 12 at a time) filled with powdered sugar and tumble till coated
Simple...and delicious...and all gone...I ate the three in the picture while I was typing! Guess I'd better take a really long walk!
In early November we had a heavy, wet snowfall. I love heavy, wet snowfalls! Unfortunately, they can do damage to trees...especially pines. For years...20 or better...I've gone around my neighborhood with the car picking up these branches to turn it into wreaths and garlands. I always ask before I take...it's the polite thing to do. And sometimes, if an entire tree has gone down, I'll make a wreath for the homeowner as a thank-you. This year Carrie joined me and made garland for the new (almost finished) porch on their 150 year old farmhouse. It's a wonderful way to start the holiday season!
Well where have I been? Painting...yes, painting. No time for posting...just painting! I offered to paint spindles and railings and lattice for my daughter's new front porch. It's been a lot of work but the end is in site and the son-in-law is happy.
Mr. A and I did find time to take in the Fall Art Tour, one of Southwest Wisconsin's most popular events. This tour is held every year with artists from Baraboo to Mineral Point, Wisconsin opening their private studios. One artist, Audrey Christie, print maker and painter of Short Horse Studio is located right down the road from us! She carves on cherry wood, using an 18th century art form, makes a print and paints with gouache to achieve her unique style. Surrounding her 1850's stone home are the many creatures inspiring much of her work. She offered to tell me all about her many varieties of chickens. I just might take her up on that!
If you are in and around Madison you can see her work at the Winter Art Festival at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center November 12-13th. You won't be disappointed!
The acorns are falling...a sure sign of the change of seasons. A few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I heard the first ones drop like hail against the roof of the house! Don't let them fool you...they may be small but they pack quite a punch!
Delicious little cookies! Thank You Fig Newton! Only 120 calories for three cookies. Four different flavors. My favorite is, of course, chocolate raspberry, followed by blueberry. They're perfect with coffee in the morning, low in sugar, contain real fruit and...yes...fiber! They must be selling out as quickly as they're put on the shelf...I've had to virtually HUNT these cookies down! So buy several at a time! They're a good thing!
I spent a few days up north visiting my best friend last week. We used to live in the same small Norwegian town. I have so many fond memories of that town and forged friendships that have lasted 25 years! Robbie gave me this small table and Laurel gave me the basket filled with produce fresh from her garden. The table will be painted and will sit on the screen porch....the vegetables were eaten for dinner! Thank you Robbie and Laurel!
Peaches, peaches, peaches! I bought a crate of California peaches last week. We've eaten them with just about every meal and frozen some for a refreshing treat this winter. Today I made Martha Stewart's peach raspberry slab pie. It was a hit!
OOOH....what I wouldn't give to have a bed just like this on our summer porch. Unfortunately, my porch is small so I'd have to choose between a bed and seating. Hmmmmm.....think I'd like the bed! Now to convince Mr. A!
What a lovely birthday I had! To have my husband, children (Mikey, Carrie & Darren and their boys) and my dear, dear friends from Iola here to help me celebrate was the best present anyone could ask for. A PERFECT DAY!
We are NOT good gardeners. We are great planters...so, so weeders....even worse at harvesting. So I was pleasantly surprised to see we had a good crop of radish, onion and rhubarb. Froze the rhubard, ate the radish and onion. Delicious!
Our laundry/mud room is small and definitely in need of storage. We found this antique upper cabinet at an antique shop a few months ago and it's working out well. Next Mr. A will build a narrow storage unit on the opposite wall.
If you'll recall, when Mr. A asked me what my thoughts on a driveway were I told him I'd envisioned a gravel drive. He, in turn, explained the hazards of midwest winters called for cement or asphalt. I picked the lesser of the evils and went with cement. Lots and lots of cement. OK...I'll get over it. Maybe. The landscapers spent several long, hot weekends grading the land and distributing bark around the house and it looks fantastic. Last Saturday they seeded and shot hay on top. That night it rained, and rained and rained and then it rained the next day and the day after that! So much for Mr. A worrying about watering the lawn! Michael came Monday to help reseed but it was just too muddy. Instead we went strawberry picking!
The day we visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas they just happened to be having a ARTrageous Parade. It definitely lived up to it's name...even the local school band had white ghostly faces and played selections from Michael Jackson's Thriller! Above are just a few pictures of participants. Eureka Springs has welcomed visitors for hundreds of years as legends of several tribes spoke of a Great Healing Spring in the mountains of what later became known as "Arkansas." As the legend spread it drew the afflicted in such numbers that Eureka Springs transformed from an isolated wilderness to a flourishing city in a few short months. This delightful city is a MUST SEE if you are in Arkansas!
Mr. A's brother played host and chauffeur last week. One of the highlights of his tour was the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel located in Bella Vista Village in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of northwest Arnaksas.The Chapel, with its glass walls and a ceiling measuring 48 feet, is positioned on a wooded hilltop overlooking Lake Norwood and seems to reach out to the towering pines and stately oaks surrounding it. It's patterned after cathedrals of the Middle Ages which were based on the pointed Gothic arch. The individuality of this Chapel lies not in its links with the past, but in its departure from the materials used in those ancient structures. Glass and steel are the building blocks which exemplify modern man. Thirty-one tons of steel join 4,460 square feet of glass to create its aura of strength, yet weightlessness. Upon entering the chapel you can't help but immediately feel a sense of peace and serenity.
Our niece, Lisa, and her fiance, Will, were married last Saturday at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Mr. Amazing, his sister and I drove down to be part of their special day. The Hotel is apparently haunted and has quite a history. But on that day, the only thing I saw was the love between two beautiful young people about to begin the rest of their lives!
Found these treasures at garage sales this morning. A queen Pottery Barn duvet/shams for $6; black box for $2.50, basket for $3; pinecone wreath for $1 two old picture frames for $2; and this great wicker rocking chair for $10. Nothing better than a good deal!
Stopped at the local Goodwill store yesterday and found these wonderful treasures! A king size Pottery Barn duvet for $10 (to be resized to a twin and perhaps a cushion cover) an old photo of fruit for $5 (for the kitchen) and a sweater for $4 (soon to be a pillow for the sofa).
Such a good feeling leaving the store...I've found new treasures and supported a non-profit organization that provides job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have a disability, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.
FINALLY....Spring has arrived here in the Midwest! The Robins are back, Cardinals have visited the feeder, my neice has planted lots of cool weather garden goodies, and the fields are starting to green up. Because we moved into our cottage in November, we didn't have time to plant a lawn. So we're surrounded by mud.....lots and lots of mud! Conversations have now turned to planting a lawn and putting in a driveway. I've been pretty adamate about not wanting asphalt or cement. My vision for this cottage in the woods is more like the beautiful eco friendly driveway above.
Or this incredible gravel driveway belonging to Kelley at The Polished Pebble. If it's possible to have a new favorite blog......Kelleys is it! You can check out her blog at ppebble.blogspot.com.
Photo by Kelly at The Polished Pebble
Though Mr. Amazing agrees this driveway is indeed "lovely," he's quick to remind me that both of the above driveways are in warm climates and we live in the Midwest...where we deal with snow, lots and lots of snow. After a long winter of snowplowing, a good portion of that beautiful gravel would end up in our shrubs and grass. Way to spoil a girl's dream!
Not I just have to decide which is the lesser of two evils....cement or asphalt!
After complaining about stain removers not removing stains, my daughter told me to try DREFT Laundry Stain Remover. As the mother of two toddlers and a newborn, she uses a lot of stain remover and has tried them all. Dreft is gentle enough for baby's clothing and strong enough to remove the toughest stains. I gave it a try...and have not been disappointed. It's magic! Buy it!
I've read three wonderful books since I retired. "The Room" and "Slammerkin" by Emma Donoghue and now "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. This is Stockett's first novel and I hope it's not her last. It was so beautifully written I was sorry it had to end!
Once again, we joined the throng of protesters at our state's capitol against Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill. Though I haven't heard any official estimates, my guess is this week's crowd was well over 100,000. Protesters marched in the cold and snow for hours. At 3:00 p.m. there were songs by Peter Yarrow and speeches by union members, clergy, teachers, students as well as appearances by well known actor Bradley Whitford and co-pilot Jeff Skiles. Bradley Whitford, an East High School graduate, appeared on The West Wing and returned to his home state to support the protest. He said: "Wisconsinites are so stubborn they fish through ice." A rather catchy phrase for a T-shirt don't you think....We Fish Through Ice!
Yesterday, I was one of an estimated crowd of 68,000 that gathered at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to have their voices heard in protest...and support...of Governor Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining. It was a peaceful rally and it felt good to be part of this historic event. After a walk around the square, I headed inside to the rotunda. Though I lived in Madison for 21 years, worked right across the street from the capitol and walked through this beautiful building many, many times, I've never seen it so electrified with the passion and commitment of this great state's electorate. Especially significant to me were the four panels of glass mosaic work on each of the pendentives which make the transition from the octagonal form of the rotunda to the circular form of the dome. I did a little research and found the following information on the State Historical website:
Between the four arches in the rotunda are pendentives, which make the transition from the octagonal form of the rotunda to the circular form of the dome. The four pendentives of the rotunda are decorated with four panels of glass mosaic works designed by Kenyon Cox, for a total cost of $20,000. Kenyon Cox, born in Warren Ohio, (1856 - 1919) was an important American painter, draughtsman and art critic. He also painted murals for the Library of Congress and the Capitols of Iowa and Minnesota.
Cox's mosaic panels are twelve feet high and have an average length of twenty-four feet. Each mosaic consists of approximately 100,000 pieces of glass tile and represents Wisconsin's three branches of government (the legislative, the executive and the judicial) and liberty - the foundation of all power in a free country. "Legislation" is represented as a powerful older man with a long beard who holds a stylus in his right hand and is seated by a sphinx symbol of wisdom. A young man holding a leading staff in his right hand while his left hand rests upon a great sword represents "Government"- the executive power. "Justice" is represented by a young woman seated in a lion throne, who tests the scales in the balance to demonstrate the purely judicial function of weighing one cause against the other. "Liberty" is represented as a young woman wearing the traditional Phrygian cap of red, but is otherwise dressed in two shades of green, the color of youth and hope. Her right hand guards the ballot box while her left hand points upward.
As you can see, Liberty is the foundation of all power in a free country and Justice tests the scales in the balance to demonstrate the purely judicial function of weighing one cause against the other.....that's what this past week has all been about.
WELCOME! My husband and I are the parents of two grown children and grandparents of three ADORABLE grandsons. We've just retired and built our "cottage in the woods" so please idle awhile and I'll take you along for the ride!