Saturday, December 27, 2008

Altered Domino Ornaments

Finally finished up some Christmas ornaments. They are altered dominoes for Lucia and Isaac and all have to do with their wedding that was in August. Most have danglies at the bottom and all can be hung by the fibers that are attached to the top.

When Lucia and Isaac announced the date, they sent out a delightful postcard with a picture of them together when they were younger and then made a photo to look similar of them now. The two pictures were put one on top of the other on the front of the postcard. I thought it was really special and surely had to use the picture on one of the dominoes. They made their own invitations, so of course the invitation is on one. On the flip side of the invitation, they drew themselves biking, so that is another domino. There is one with a photo of the church and one with a wedding photo that I have surrounded by music that was sung at the wedding. There is also one of the invitation to the rehearsal dinner and one of the front of the wedding program.

I think all will have a special meaning for them, as it is their first Christmas together as husband and wife. They are not done in Christmas colors, so can be hung anywhere and anytime.

Just wish I had time to make more...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Piece Of Me

A friend is hosting a swap where she sent out a puzzle of 9 pieces to 8 people and we are to alter each piece of the puzzle to represent us as an artist. She will be the 9th person in the swap and will alter her pieces as well. We will return all 9 pieces to her and she will mix them up so that each of us has a puzzle piece of the other that makes one puzzle when they are connected together. The outside pieces can have chunky pieces on the outside of them.

I have altered my pieces with a picture of an Avatar that I sometimes use. It is a 'Zetti Me'. On the outside of this outside piece, I have added fibers and if you look closely, there is a little sewing machine and a pair of scissors. The colors in the photo aren't accurate, they do match the Avatar much better in person.

I can't wait to see the returns and the finished 9 puzzles. I am sure they will be amazing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trying Hard

I'm not very good at collage, but am trying very hard to do a decent job. I have a long way to go, but am willing to work at it. I've collected numerous pictures over a period of time and have enlisted a fellow artist to make collage sheets to use. Here is my first start using a sheet that she made. Don't laugh, my printer stinks and puts strips across the images. I'm just trying to get started with what I have.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Worry Bee Happy

This morning I took the opportunity to bottle the bit of honey (only a little over 8 - 1/2 lbs) I collected from my hive. It has been strained from the comb and carefully poured into the jars. I wish I had more of the little jars because it is fun to give little gifts here and there. I still have to design my label, but that will come with some thought and time.

In the meantime, the hubster has put in his order for the number of jars he wants to give his colleagues for Christmas.

Guess I'd better get started early in the season next year to get these girls in gear so they can do what they do best...make honey and bee happy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good Girls

As some of you may know, I have bees. I really haven't worked them to harvest honey for one reason or another. This year I put a pinch of effort into it and am rewarded with the nectar of the gods! Not really much, but it is an offering. In January 09, I need to get myself in gear and start working with the girls to help them produce the best they can.

In the photo, I am using a crush and strain method of collecting the honey. It is a cheap way to process your honey that anyone can do. Right now, my kitchen is smelling of honey and I can't wait to bottle my golden pure sweetness.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

You know, I have lived in this old house now for 6 years with the hubster. Gotta love the man, but P-L-E-A-S-E, doing something over and over again is too much. For him, doing something over and over (usually 3 times) is what works. Doesn't seem to bother him, and I guess it is because he is doing it. Sometimes it really puts my will to love life to the test.

This old house was built in the mid 1800's and was/is in desperate need of work. We remodeled the bathroom when we first moved in.It was our first project.

It was a Thanksgiving weekend when the hubster decided to begin the work. Didn't seem to be a problem, at least not at the time (now I wish I had known blogging and had been blogging each day). It was going to be a small project, just fixing a few things to make it more livable.

To spare you a long story...3 layers of flooring was removed to reveal a subfloor that needed, all was removed, new joists were put in, new pluming was done, new electrical wiring, walls were ripped out, tub/shower stall removed replaced by a 4' clawfoot tub that we restored, outside wall was ripped out, on and so forth. During that time we had to bathe in the kitchen (uninsulated) and to potty? Well, let's just say it wasn't fun walking across the floor joists with the potty to put it where it needed to go to use it.

Oh, and did I mention that this house has only one bathroom?

Ok, I lived through all of the above and more. Everything was finished and was quite lovely. We HAD a nice bathroom!

The hubster began working on the outside wall recently. He has decided that the outside wall doesn't match the rest of the back of the house and that it would be better to tear out the wall and replace it along with the window. Ok, I knew the window would be replaced, but the ENTIRE OUTSIDE WALL???? Yep, you read right! Now the outside wall is gone and my dear sweet hubster has torn out the ceiling as well. Seems as though he isn't happy with that either. It is October now and was 45 degrees at 10:30am. Do you know how it feels to take a bath in that temperature?

When will this times remodeling be done? Who knows. One thing leads to another here and nothing is for sure. We'll see and I'll just pray for warmer weather.

I keep trying to remember that what doesn't kill us will make us stronger. I just hope that I can find that strength sooner rather than later!

Oh, and the pics? They are looking at the inside view and outside view of my bathroom this morning.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New ACT's

Well, I got myself in gear and finished up two new ACT's for a swap at MAW. It is called 'The Painted Page.' These cards are made of distressed book pages, watercolors, acrylics and thread painting. They were quite fun to do!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Well, for a bit now I have been working two of my dogs for tracking. Tracking is when a dog follows a particular scent. Any dog can track. The challenge is to get the dog to follow one scent that they are told to follow. Tracking is not something that is taught to the dog, they already know how to do that. If you have ever had a dog that follows a cat's trail, a squirrel's trail or something else, you know that the dog has the ability to track. All do. When you train for tracking, you train the dog to follow the scent that the handler points out to the dog. I train my dogs to follow a particular human scent and to indicate something that the person has dropped along the way. At the moment mine are trained to indicate something leather or cloth.

This past week, both my Shorthair and Shepherd did a very good job. I am proud of the both of them. Hannah (Shepherd) didn't miss a beat and stayed on each turn exactly where it was. Darla (Shorthair) did a delightful job and was fun to watch checking out what she thought was "dropped" by the tracklayer. She'd go over to what she thought was an article/drop, realized it wasn't and kept going until she found what she should.

On Monday, I'm going to be a track layer for an AKC test. My job will be to walk with the judges and draw out the "track" that will be laid on Tuesday for the test. We will put out flags to indicate turns and drops on Monday. Tuesday morning I will re-walk the track, picking up the flags. For the exhibitors who are entered in the test, they don't know where the track goes. Only where the start is. I know they will be nervous, as will I. It is a pass or fail test. Not many do pass. This is one AKC event where everyone pulls for the person and dog doing the work. I so hope/pray that the dog that get's the track that I laid passes.

I am also hoping to get my Hannah (Shepherd) ready for her test in December. She is so soft tempered and doesn't have the confidence that she should. We are working hard at the moment. She is very sweet and deserving, but she must do her best job and prove that she can do what she has been taught to do...track and follow the human scent that I tell her to, and to indicate anything that the person has touched and left behind.

The pictures here are of Hannah and Darla. Such great companions!

Oh, Hannah has her C.D and R.N. Darla has her R.N. and is a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International. Darla is currently working on her C.D. and doing some of her C.D.X. work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Got it done!

Well, I finally finished it. I've completed an article and submitted it for an online art Zine. It is the first of two parts. My article is about thread painting and will be in the October issue. In this photo, you can see the ACT that I give step-by-step instructions for making.

I actually had it done, mostly, but had to put the pictures in order and make them small enough to send and large enough to look decent. This I am not good at. The editors were very kind to work with me. First, I didn't finish editing my own writing quickly and then I got busy with things and forgot to email all of the pictures for the article!

For the sequel...I will be doing it shortly. I don't want to be "last minute Annie" again!

Oh, and when October arrives you can visit: to see what I did. Or you can click on the link to the right side of my blog. Art Trader Magazine, check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Her 50th Visit

Today Pia made her 50th therapy dog visit. It is a great thrill, for me and just fun for her. It is a milestone. I can now send in paperwork to show that she has made 50 visits. She will receive her own pin (which I will put on her identification card holder, not on her) to show her accomplishment. I know she doesn't know it is a special accomplishment, but I do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Completed Guest Book

Finally home from the wedding and trying to get caught up on sleep and housework. The picture is the front of the finished guest book. It has a page for photo's and a page for both the bride and groom to journal in. I was pleased with how it turned out. The guest book is layers of lace and beads. It is closed by a pen that is run through ribbon. You can click on the picture to see it up close and personal.

The wedding was filled with beauty and art, dancing and delight. Such a joyous day that was shared by friends and family that will live on in memories, pictures and video's. Now the couple will start life anew as one. There is something special in being married. Something sacred. Something that goes beyond being a couple.

When you wed, you promise eternity on this earth with that special person you love. You promise it in front of God and everyone. It is not a promise that is taken lightly.

Marriage isn't always easy. You endure hard times, bad times and hurt that you sometimes throw each others way, whether you mean to or not. Yet, you get through it and still love that person next to you, and your love grows into a depth that is unexplainable. A love that is ever enduring, faithful, and trusting.

For the newly wed couple, I wish you a lifetime of happiness together. Hold onto each other in the good times and in the bad. In the end, your love will grow stronger, deeper, and enrich your lives.

Understand that feelings can sometimes be hurt easily, and that harsh words can never be taken back.

Never sleep on the couch at night, no matter how mad you are. It only creates a distance between you two.

Never own any thing bigger than a full sized bed. Sleep closely and always snuggle at night. Let your bodies become one by always touching each other…let your legs tangle together. In this, you know when you sleep that your love is beyond boundaries and that you are always together and that you comfort one another.

Always remember to say thank you, even for the smallest gestures. Everyone wants to be appreciated.

Compromise at every crossroad. You don’t always need to be right, even if you think you are. A compromise is working out a situation that you disagree on, but know that in 5 years it didn’t really matter in the first place.

Love is a two way street, it is give and take. Always try to give more than you take.

Never hold a grudge or bring up past mistakes, it isn't healthy for your relationship.

Wake each morning with a smile upon your face and a happy heart, for the one you love is laying right beside you. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One more thing done

Yesterday I got the eyelets that I wanted and started printing and gluing things together to finish my sign in pages for the wedding. I think that they are very unique and special. All I have to do now is to bind them with fibers in the book and yes, I do need to complete the about stress! The good thing is that I know where I am headed with it. The bad thing is that I am behind on things here at home to get ready. Right now it is the middle of the night and I just had to get some work done.

The photo is the page I have written about. I have also included a page where the couple can put photos of their special day and a page where each of them can write about the experience.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Today's work

I've been working today on the wedding guest book. I have the silk paper I made bonded to the spine of the handmade abaca papers and all of the lines on the pages stitched in gold metallic thread. I've even added some lace to the edge. I really want to find some smaller gold eyelets to complete them so will be off tomorrow to see what I can find.

In the meantime, I am working on the cover. What I have in the photo is silk fabric with the word love, machine embroidered on it. I've embellished it with silk ribbon embroidery, fresh water pearls and a couple of hearts that someone gave me. This is just a portion of the front.

Back to the sewing room for now...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Special Wedding

As some of you know, my stepdaughter is getting married at the end of next week. She has kindly asked me to make her guest book. Both she and her fiance are really into going green so I enlisted a fellow artist, Dana Driscoll, an expert in making paper, to hand make the paper for the guest book. The sign in papers are sustainable harvested, organic abaca fibers and cotton linters. They are also ph-neutral. Very lovely indeed! I am making silk paper to bind the edge that will go in the book.

The picture here is the introduction page. It is embroidered on silk with added lace, silk paper edged where it will be bound an has two rows of gold stitching to help hold the silk in place. It is bound by a satin stitch in sulky thread.

Not quite perfect, but I think it is a very special page for a very special couple on a very special day!

Oh, and if you are in need of special hand made paper, Dana is listed on the right hand side of my blog under my favorite artists. Contact her for all of your hand made paper needs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Rainbow Bridge Story

My Capricious Delight

As Capri, the Afghan Hound, strolled along enjoying the beautiful fields and wonderful shade trees, she realized she felt better than she ever had before. Everything also looked much brighter and clearer than it had in years. “My goodness” she thought. “I feel like a young puppy again!” She was amazed by the beauty of her surroundings and the peacefulness she felt inside.

All of a sudden she heard a familiar voice.

“Hey, Capri you’re late,” exclaimed Kashmere.

“Kashmere, my old friend, I haven’t seen you in ages. What do you mean, late? I’m not late. Late for what?” Capri replied.

“Oh yes you are late! We’ve been waiting on you here. I wanted you on our team to play fetch. You are a great fetcher and we needed you.” Kashmere retorted back. “Do you know how many games you could have made a difference in?”

“I said I’m NOT late...what in the world are you talking about?” was Capri’s reply. She couldn’t understand why her old friend would be so insulting about her timing.

“Well” Kashmere replied, “You were supposed to be here exactly 14 1/2 years, 3 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds ago!”

“What are you talking about? And hey, didn’t you get hit by a car?” asked Capri. “Everyone was talking about it you know?” “Pretty gruesome I heard.”

Kashmere’s face became contorted. She looked at Capri and asked, “Do you know where you are?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, no, I was just wondering about that!” Capri said with a curious look on her face. “It is really beautiful here, and I feel so at peace and comfortable. Something I have never felt before.”

“I didn’t think you had a clue! Did you ever wonder how come a dog of your age feels so good? How a dog with cataracts could see so well?” Kashmere smartly replied.

“What is your point my old friend?” Now Capri was curious and confused at the same time.

“How do you think my mangled legs have straightened out so? Did you hear how many of my bones were broken by that car? Look at me...I am the picture of health!” Kashmere was proud to reply.

“Well,” replied Capri, “I was wondering about that. I thought maybe it was only a rumor I heard and that maybe you had been sent to a new home. Everyone knew how difficult you could be.”

“Hey, I was sent to a new home alright. This one. That car did me in. And let me tell you, it is the greatest place to be! None of us here want for anything. Anything that is, except for our special humans” Kashmere now had a hint of longingness in her eyes. She was thinking of her special human that she missed very much. “Capri this is where we wait...we wait for our special humans to cross over the Rainbow Bridge. is just over there.

“Wow!” exclaimed Capri. “This is really it? I can’t believe it. I made it here. When is my special human coming to get me?”

Kashmere replied, “We don’t know the answer to that question my dear friend.” But I can tell you this. Our wait will be comfortable and enjoyable. We want for nothing here.

As Capri looked around she began to have lots of questions about her new surroundings. “What is that?” Capri asked her old friend.

“Oh, that is the “Goat Dog” yard replied Kashmere. “Those dogs are the ones that didn’t listen to their owners and chased and killed goats in their lifetime. They never realized that what they did would eventually have consequences.” Those goats in that luscious green field with trees that forever have leaves for them to eat are waiting for their owners to come. In the meantime, the dogs that took their lives on earth are there and will be forever chased by the ones they harmed. One must pay for the injustices that have been done on earth.”

“Oh my,” said Capri. “I’m so glad my owner kept me from doing things like that! I can’t imagine the humiliation of being chased by a goat!”

Kashmere just nodded and replied, “There are all sorts of places here like that for bad dogs. We must pay our dues for the bad things we did. There are places here for chicken killers, cat name it, it’s here!”

Pointing to another area, nosy little Capri asked, “Who are those animals over there?” She had so many questions to ask and was curious about all of her new surroundings.

Kashmere smiled and said, “Oh those animals are the ones that were unwanted by their humans on earth. They will get to go to people who couldn’t have pets the humans whose companions forbade them to have pets...those who wanted pets but were unable to pay for their animal goes without love here! It is a wonderful thing. Someone will come for them and they won’t have to spend eternity alone.”

All of a sudden Kashmere got the grandest smile on her face. “Oh and just wait until you get to meet the big boss...he is the main man behind the golden gates after you cross the
Rainbow Bridge...he is really nice, you’ll like him. Sometimes he will come and sit with us, bringing us our favorite treats. He talks with us and gives us pats. When he pats you, you are just overwhelmed with love. He loves all of his animals very much and you can just feel it when he is here. A very gentle man he is. We all enjoy his company very much. You will never experience a touch quite like his.”

Suddenly Capri was overwhelmed with emotion and seemed to realize what was going on. She realized that she had a purpose in life. She turned to her old friend Kashmere and said, “No, my dear friend, I am not late in my arrival here. I now realize that I have had a job to do on earth. A very important job. More important than a ball game with my dear friends.” Capri now had a very serious look on her face. “That job was to teach my human owner compassion and to respect life. She needed to learn that a little hard work can bring a lot of love and joy into your life. Heck, if she hadn’t have saved me, she wouldn’t have learned that lesson! My life would have been without meaning. I had to teach her unconditional love for the smallest and sickest of animals. It sure was a struggle for me, I didn’t know if she’d pull me out of it sometimes, but hey, it was well worth it!” Now Capri was beaming with joy...the joy and pride of having a purpose in life.

All of a sudden Buddy, a Golden Retriever, suddenly stopped in his tracks. He had a glow in his eyes that nobody had seen before. He stood erect. His ears were upright. His tail had a wag in it that nobody had ever seen before. All of a sudden he ran as fast as he could.

“What is going on?” asked Capri.

“Shhhhh”, said Kashmere in a whispering voice, “That is Buddy’s special human. They have come for him and the two are going to cross over the bridge together.”

There was a joyous tear in everyone’s eye. All of the animals stood for a moment in silence out of respect...respect for the love of a human and their animal and of having an animal get to meet their special human and cross the Rainbow Bridge and be together forever. It is a reverent response that each one gets in this beautiful waiting place.

After watching Buddy and his owner crossed the bridge together everything resumed as it had been before. All games were being played, grass eaten, frolicking just for the enjoyment of it...naptime whenever and just for the fun of it...everything that is, but with a brighter light within each animal. The light that left each one knowing that their special human would be coming for them and they could cross the Rainbow Bridge together and never be apart again.

The photo is of Capri at 10 months old. This is a partial true story. The story is about Calisso Capricious Delight, a puppy that I bred that unfortunately was born with her intestines out. A puppy that some breeders would have not considered saving. A puppy that some veterinarians told me they wouldn’t have tried to save. This puppy after having her intestines put back in came up with septicemia, a blood infection that is serious. I carried her under my shirt for 4 1/2 weeks fighting for her life. This puppy lived for 14 1/2 years. She was the dominate force in the household. No one could over rule her. She dictated when it was time to eat, time for treats and when nap time was. She loved to nap with her head upside down on her favorite chair. When she met my soon to be husband’s then 6 year old Shepherd (and Capri was 10) she made sure that the Shepherd understood that she COULDN’T play in the house and the Shepherd obeyed! At her 14 1/2 years she still ran up and down the stairs to sleep with us and be by our side. I had her put to sleep in my arms after her kidneys and liver quit working. She is cremated and her remains are in a brass urn and with me today. She was very special to me and I hope to cross the bridge with her by my side. I still miss my Capricious Delight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We all have to look out for each other

A cute story that I thought I'd share...

The Mouse and The Mousetrap

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard the mouse proclaimed the warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house, a mousetrap in the house!" The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it." The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house, a mousetrap in the house!" "I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers." The mouse turned to the cow. She said, "Oh My, Mr. Mouse. A mousetrap. As if I would be in grave danger. I do not think so!" So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well and a few days later she passed away. So many people came for her funeral, that the farmer had the cow slaughtered, to provide meat for all of them to eat. So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a mousetrap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk. Author Unknown

Friday, August 8, 2008

Message In A Spoon

Inspired by an article on 'Spoon Books' in the May/June 2008 CPS magazine, I decided to host an altered spoon swap on Mail Art World (link on the side of my blog to it) and I titled it 'Message In A Spoon.' The idea was to alter a spoon and to use words to give a message in it. What a fun and exciting swap it was! I can't tell you how beautiful the spoons were that came in. I think everyone who participated will be happy with their returns.

In the swap, I received many spoons as a hostess gift, which I didn't require, but was certainly appreciative. I also made spoons and swapped for other spoons that were sent in. I actually kept one of mine. I rarely keep any of my art work, but thought I would just for this occasion. Talk about a about a beautiful collection! Now, how do you display these wonders?

As luck would have it, I was at a garage sale looking for silver plated silverware to alter. I came across a couple of small souvenir spoons and snatched them up quickly. They are great for art pins. The person holding the yard sale pointed me in the direction of a spoon rack to display spoons that you have collected. I told her I didn't collect spoons, but thank you. As I drove off, I had this feeling that I needed to go back, so I did.

I inquired about the 'spoon rack' and looked to see if it would hold regular sized silverware. By golly, it did! I picked it up and went home happy.

At first I was going to alter it, but after placing my altered cutlery there, I didn't think it would work. I just didn't want to take away from all of the lovely pieces that adorn it. The pieces speak for themselves as they should. On the bottom is a tray and I'm not sure what I will put in there, but just wanted to share this beauty of a collection.

Oh, and if you'd like to alter a spoon/fork/knife and trade me, just let me know. Altered cutlery is my newest passion!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nice day for a ride

I have some friends, Judy and Tom, who own two Portuguese Water Dogs Max and Maggie. They show them in AKC performance events such as rally obedience, formal obedience, agility, tracking and they also work their dogs in water events. I see them at our obedience class and we go tracking a couple times a week together. Their dogs are also registered therapy dogs that visit a couple of places that I do.

I've been wanting to go and watch them do their 'water work' and yesterday I got my opportunity. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I got my jeep (Miss Scarlett)ready for a little trip. I took my doors off, the back side windows out and rolled up my back window. I left the top on because of the intense heat from the sun. I don't know how people can ride in convertibles. The sun beating down on you can just ruin a ride.

I got up early, threw my hair in a baseball cap, gathered up some water in an ice chest and headed to the lake. The hubster was home, so he was in charge of looking after the animals while I was away.

The drive took longer than anticipated. It was about an hour and a half away. When I arrived, there were several people with their Portuguese around the water with their dogs, buoy lines, buoy balls, miscellaneous equipment, row boats equipped with platforms on the back for both handler and dog and everyone was taking turns working their dogs in various exercises. They all were at different skill levels.

I really wish I had brought my camera. To watch these dogs do what they were bred to do was amazing. For one exercise, I got to watch Max take a buoy ball (has a short line on it) away from his boat until his handler told him to leave it. He left the buoy ball and returned to the boat. It was approximately 40 feet away from the boat where he left the ball.

How delightful to watch these dogs jump off of the back of the boat on command, swim to shore and retrieve a buoy line and bring it back to their handler on the boat The handler would then help the dog get back on board. Of course there were lots of shakes to wring the water out of their coat.

There was also another advanced exercise where the dog was instructed to jump in the water, where a good 30 yards away were two floating things (can't remember their names). The dog was instructed which one to retrieve. When they did, the handler took it from the dog and instructed the dog to go back and get the other. How neat.

There were other exercises I got to observe and what a great opportunity to get to see these dogs work. There is a lot of time and effort on the handlers part to get these dogs ready for competition, as in any dog performance event.

After everything was over, we headed to Tom and Judy's for a bite to eat. Boy does she make a spread! We had lobster salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, sliced cucumber and tomatoes with poppyseed dressing and feta cheese and an individual wonderful chocolate cookie cake for dessert. The Portugese were there and had some doggie ice cream, compliments of Judy. Max was having a birthday the next day, so we were all having a celebration and no one was left out.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to watch someone train dogs, take it. You will be amazed at how much time and effort goes into it, the dedication they have for it, and you will walk away with an appreciation for what both the handlers and dogs do!

Monday, July 28, 2008

She had a hard day

Poor Pia. Sometimes life is rough for her. Today was no exception. She had to get groomed and then make an appearance at the local library to do an interview with the local newspaper for her work there and get pictures made. She had to meet people, get petted and admired. She was so exhausted that she came home and had to get comfortable and have a long nap.

GAWD, I so wish I had that life...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I don't feel like it!

You know, there are just some days that you don't feel like doing what you need to do or have to do. You are just in one of those moods. On Friday last week that is just how I felt. I didn't want to do anything I should be doing.

I needed to groom one of my therapy dogs , my Afghan Hound, for my Friday visit at the local hospice house and then a visit to the adjoining retirement village. It isn't that I don't enjoy visiting and trying to put a smile on someone's face, even if it is for a moment, I just didn't feel like it. Grooming the dog would take 3 hours to get her ready and I should have done most of the work the day before. I sat thinking that I really didn't want to groom and go, all I wanted to do was stay at home and do things around here. The more I sat and thought that I wanted to stay home, the more I wanted to stay home, and thought, "Why should I go today, I am only a volunteer and I am not getting paid to do this. I don't HAVE to go?"

All of a sudden, another thought and a realization came to me. Those people that are in the hospice house and their families don't want to be there. Those people that are residents there don't want to be dying or in pain. Those families don't want to see their loved ones in the last stages of life, or dealing with pain issues. I'm sure that the residents that are there would love to know they had at least a few more years ahead of them, and so would their families.

Those people in the retirement village don't really want to be there. They would rather be in their own homes taking full care of themselves and their lives. They would like to prepare the meals that they would like and eat when they want. They would love to have a car to drive to the store like they were used to.

All of a sudden I felt guilty. I felt badly that I could choose the options that I wanted, I had everything that they wished for and I was trying to choose not spending a few minutes with someone that needed a little smile for the day in the face of sadness and grief. I felt guilty because just a few minutes with someone who was lonely and just needed someone to visit with made them feel good.

I felt as though I was letting someone down, even though most at the retirement home don't remember me from one week to the next. They always say how beautiful the dog is and most want to pet her. Some love for her to come and sit next to them on the couch while they stroke her long hair and ask the same questions about how long it takes to groom her, does she have a special diet, does she stay inside and all sorts of others. There is one that giggles with delight every time we show up and wants to have the dog all to herself.

At the hospice house things change from day to day so you don't know if someone is still going to be there, if someone new is there, if they like dogs or not. It is always a pleasure to go into a room and put the dog on a chair next to the patient so they can see them and pet them. Sometimes you have to take the patients hand to help them pet the dog. When they get a smile on their face, you know you have done something good.

One time at the hospice house, a patient that I had seen while he was very coherent, fell in love with my other therapy dog that is a German Shorthaired Pointer. The gentleman had had hunting dogs and had a picture of his dogs on his windowsill. We had some great visits and talked about hunting dogs. He took a fancy to my Shorthair especially because she was a hunting breed. He told me that she had good thick ears that wouldn't get torn by briars. He told me she had good feet that could go through the briars easily. He also told me she had a good nose for trailing. The daughter told me how much she appreciated me visiting and that her dad hadn't spoken that much in a long time. I told her that if she wanted a special or extra visit to let hospice know and they would give me a call. 3 weeks later, I got the call. It was on a Thursday. They didn't think he was going to live through the night, he was unresponsive and the family asked if I could come in a day early, because he loved dogs so much. I got myself cleanded up and my dog cleaned up and headed over. The family was so kind and grateful that I came. I asked them to put the bed in the lowest position, which they did. I brought my Shorthair over to his bedside and got her to put her head on his bed. I took his hand and helped him pet her. I don't know if he knew we were there or not, but the family was smiling. They even took a picture of what was going on. I thought of this day, and my guilt grew stronger.

I got my attitude in check and began to groom. Yes, it took me a good 3 hours to get the Afghan ready and then time to get myself ready, but I was committed and realized that even though I didn't feel like it, the people I was about to visit didn't feel like doing what they were doing even more, and to boot, they had no choice in it. At least I had the choice.

I'm so glad I went! I had one of the busiest days visiting with patients and families at the hospice house, mostly family members. They need a smile too. It is nice when you walk by a room and see someone with a grim, sorrowful look on their face and they smile, just because you are there. They forget for just a few minutes where they are and go into a happy place.

When I got to the retirement village they were doing a sing along. When the lady that wants my Afghan all to herself saw us, she stopped singing, pushed her walker away and called us to come over. She was giggling just like a child would! Now THAT put a smile on MY face!

I think I have figured out that no matter how much I sometimes don't feel like it, what I do is for someone else. I can give something special to someone else who just needs a few minutes of my time.

At the moment, I have to groom the Afghan for tomorrow morning. The local newspaper is going to come out to the library to do some photos to advertise the reading program that I do there. I don't feel like it, but...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Feel like cooking? Let's try 'Chicken Creole'

Are you ready to cook a Creole dish that is sure to impress your friends? Want to learn how to make a roux? Well, let's get started. I'm going to teach you how to make "Chicken Creole' today. You can easily substitute shrimp or tofu for the chicken. I'll give you substitutes as we go along. Nobody misses out with this dish! This is a recipe from The Gumbo Shop in New Orleans.

First let me say that I apologize for putting this in separate posts. I'm just learning this blogging thing and am winging it at the moment. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it sooner or later.

Now, let's gather our ingredients...

6 T peanut oil (very important to use peanut oil)
6 T all purpose flour
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped bell pepper
1 c. chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 - 16 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 t. black pepper
1 t. white pepper
1 t. thyme
1 t. basil
2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 T Worcestershire
1 c. shrimp broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarians
3 lbs. peeled raw shrimp, cooked and cubed chicken or tofu for vegetarians.

You might find that you would like more or less of any of the ingredients, after all, it is your dish to enjoy!

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Chicken Creole Continued

I like to gather all of my chopped vegetables together in one bowl to have ready when they are needed. Place your minced garlic in a separate bowl.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now you will start your roux. Just remember that a roux is nothing more than a glorified brown gravy. A roux is usually darker than most gravies and the color will dictate the flavor of the dish. Put a heavy skillet/cast iron pot on medium heat with the oil inside. When you can put your had over the oil and feel the heat you are ready to add your flour and whisk well to blend.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now in this picture, our roux is just starting to brown. You will need to stir often to keep it from burning.

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Chicken Creole Continued

You want your roux for this dish to be the color of milk chocolate. I have used a Reese's peanut butter cup as an example of the desired color. You will notice that in this picture, it isn't quite ready.

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We are almost there. Stir constantly to ensure that your roux doesn't burn.

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Creole Chicken Continued

As soon as your roux is the color of milk chocolate, stir in the chopped vegetables. This will stop the browning process of the roux. Make sure to keep your face away from the top of the pan. The vegetables hitting the roux will steam profusely. You will saute until the vegetables are limp, stirring often. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Do not over cook your garlic.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, basil, salt ans cayenne. Cook for 15 minutes. Add Worchestershire and broth then bring to a boil.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now you will either add your raw shrimp, cooked chicken or tofu and simmer for about another 20 minutes.

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Chicken Creole Finally Finished

This dish improves after resting overnight. Serve heated over warm rice along with some French bread (or even your favorite bread) and your favorite beverage. A lovely one plate dish to share with friends and family. I hope you have enjoyed this and will give it a try. If you have any questions, let me know.

Good food = good times!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Struggling Today

Well, now that I've started a blog, I'm trying to learn how to use the thing. I am so terrible at this and really do struggle. Now to try and add images and image links. I'd like to add my artwork, give some cooking demo's share my day and everyone and everything around me. Life can be busy, and can also be fun.

I'm going to try and pop up a picture of my 'Chicken Creole' to see if it works. It is a photo of the finished dish. If it does, then as I get time, I'll share the recipe and give you a photo by photo of how to prepare it. You can use shrimp, but when I cook for a crowd I always use chicken because of seafood allergies. You can also substitute tofu if you are vegetarian.

So for now,

Bon Appetit!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cookin' with barefoot? What is that?

You know, as I whirl about the internet, I always go by barefootchef. Notice that there is a small cap b and it is one word. That is me, and who I define myself as. Barefoot, for being casual, chef because I like to cook. Not that I am a professional cook, although I have taken many courses in cooking in a culinary art school as well as classes that you'd take from a chef that you sign up for. The casual cook. I like making difficult dishes as well as simple ones, just depends on the day and the mood. The casual person who likes to cook. That is who I am.

I also dabble in the arts. I love to sew, weave, spin and knit. I've actually taught sewing since 1989 when I was in New Orleans. I had someone ask me to teach with them at the local Clothworld stores and was hooked. Didn't think I knew enough to teach, but found shortly after beginning that I did and would love it! I also found that you learn a lot from your students if you listen to them. At the moment, I only teach private lessons by appointment.

A few years ago I became involved with ACT's. Most of mine are done in fabric and thread painting. I have branched out to do fabric journal pages, some collage and as of late, altered cutlery.

So for now, I'll leave you with a thought...

We are all like angels with one wing and can only fly by embracing one another!