January 31, 2014

Friday Flowers

Ahhh...Friday!  What a week it's been.

Here are some lovely roses for you.  I'm hoping you can find some bonbons to go with them before putting your feet up and enjoying a good read. =)

January 29, 2014

And What Is It You Do?

Spoiler Alert:  If you're having a super sunny day and don't want to talk about anything serious, skip this post!!! No worries, we'll see you tomorrow!

The question has come up about what I do for a living.

Yes, I am a nurse.  For nearly 2 decades I was a bedside ICU/trauma nurse...with extra fun experiences along the way teaching nursing school, being a hospital clinical instructor, enjoying a wild ride at the poison center (oh, the stories!), and delving into research.  But for the last 5 years I have been immersed in the ALS world, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.  I work with an absolutely terrific team of people and I adore our patients and their families.  This job is a piece of cake physically...not to mention no on-call, holidays, evenings, nights, or weekends...but emotionally, hands down it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Facing death every day, year after year, requires a weird mix of being tough as nails and still remaining human enough to well up with tears with people I've grown to love.  It requires inspiring those who still have life to live, and a tender kindness to help prepare for the inevitable goodbyes. All of this emotion must be matched with an extra measure of self-care and rest, and I do that by designating a particular day of the week to stay home and putter.  I love puttering.  I sleep in, stay in my pajamas, read, enjoy a leisurely meal, snuggle with Puppers by the fire, and sometimes resort to a little Cookie Therapy. And then I'm OK! Good to go!

January 28, 2014

Chicken Feet

Pardonnez-moi, my dear Mildred.  Have you considered a pedicure?  Those nails!

January 27, 2014

New Friends, Old Friends

NEW:  First off, it's been great to meet everyone through the Grow Your Blog party!  Everyone has been so kind.  I hope in the coming weeks to respond to everyone individually and keep going through the blog party list myself!  I'm looking forward to new friends.

OLD:  We were thankful this weekend to see our old (but young) friend at Pacific University for her debate competition.  There were hundreds of college kids there from all over the NW. We love her as one of our own, and like proud parents, we were beaming.  Our genetic offspring also met us there, so it was a grand reunion for all of us. Woohoo!!  It was a good day.  =)

I caught this on the way home with the window rolled down, going 55 mph...

January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog - Welcome!

To all visiting blog friends, welcome!  (Thanks, Vicki, for coordinating this project yet again!  You're amazing!  And you're a nurse, which is even better.) You've landed in a friendly, crazy, honest, and hopefully inspirational place.  =)

Life for most of us is quite ordinary, and the challenge is on to learn the art of making it extraordinary. In other words, it may be a billion years before I see Paris, but I want to be able to delight in the beauty that's under my nose.  Well, not under my literal nose.  Even though I've started using argan oil like the French women and am achieving a marvelous placebo effect, I wouldn't want to look that closely. You know what I mean.

So I blog to develop a regular habit in this artful adventure, to have some fun along the way with writing and photography (a work in progress), and to share together with others.

So pull up a chair and I'll pour some tea!

The pleasure is mine,
Nancy =)

P.S.  And yes, there will be a giveaway, but it's still a surprise.  Even to me.  =)  So leave a comment and join in the party!

January 24, 2014


Sometimes I just have to chuckle...it seems my world is bipolar.  There have been wonderful, wonderful blessings this week along with some very sad news.  Life can sometimes come at you from a million different directions.  You can probably relate!

So once again it's time for a cup of tea, my favorite rocking chair, and some quietness to settle my heart and rethink priorities.  It brings me back to one of my 2014 resolutions to hold onto the good. As a person who tries to live a calculated life (as in thoughtful and purposeful), it's what keeps me sane.

But first, breakfast.  The pretty plate was a necessity this morning!

May all of our Fridays be full of meaning and peace.  =)

January 20, 2014

Anything for Me?

There's little grass, but the hillside has plenty left to scratch.  

And that camera...anything there for me to eat??

January 17, 2014

More French

"Dingleberries" is my newly discovered French font.  
It deserves a more sophisticated name, but since it's free, I will complain no further.

Oh, the possibilities!

Happy Friday, my friends!

January 16, 2014


We have friends who left for Kyrgyzstan, and it's always a delight to get their emails and pictures. Oh, my! Here are three amazing ones.

They recently visited this town and are looking for a place to live.

What an adventure.

January 13, 2014

French Women

Yesterday started as a dreary day with gray skies, rain, and my baby girl going back to school with a big smile! It is way too quiet around here now.

Time for new projects to bring some color and cheer into the house!

I found a new book that is informative, fun, intriguing and full of beauty secrets.  Check it out! The theory is that we will all age, but not all of us will grow old. French women have plenty to teach us, it seems.  I'd prefer going to France to learn for myself, but for now, I'll have to take it from Mireille.  =)

January 8, 2014


As a general rule, it's best not to share one's dirty laundry.  But today - just for today - I offer myself up for a bit of comic relief.

This is my upstairs laundry chute, which drops downstairs into the laundry room.  And yes, it's stuffed to overflowing.  All the way up to the second story.

Good thing I have a manservant.  Bahahahahaha!

January 7, 2014

Thanks, Mr. Pizza Man

Dear Mr. Pizza Man,

Thanks for letting my offspring deliver your two pizzas today.  Admittedly, it's not a real job, but it's a little pocket money as the job hunt drags on.

It was a wild bike ride through the streets of New York City, with trucks, cars, people, snow, ice, and ambulances coming from every direction like asteroids.  He earned $9 and 3 pieces of pizza for his efforts.

The best pizza in New York, I'm told.

A Grateful Mom

January 6, 2014

Homemade Mayonnaise

The new food processor did a beautiful job whipping up a batch of mayonnaise!  The girls are still laying their beautiful eggs with bright yellow yolks, so the final product was definitely not the pasty white stuff sitting in the stores.  Thanks, girls!

I gave fair warning to everyone in the house that this is not pudding or custard.  We'll see who listened.  =)

January 3, 2014

Hoody Towels

The first hoody towel started as a duck, but in the end turned out to be more like a platypus.  :/  Only slightly embarrassing. 

Moral of the story:  Make-believe characters are undoubtedly much easier.  No pressure to make them look like anything!

These vaguely familiar vegetable characters started out as friendly monsters, but who's to know what the original plan was??

Happy Friday, my friends!

January 2, 2014

Curing with Salt: Vegetable Bouillon Mix

Funny how mankind has been curing with salt for an eternity, but very few preserve with it these days. Honestly, my initial thoughts of trying it were both fascinating and terrifying.  A soup bouillon mix that lasts for 6 months??  REALLY?? Our neighbor discovered my new project and suggested that Sir Bradley and I try this on alternate weeks, so only one of us would die. Ha!

The science is that salt is very hypertonic, and it cures by drawing so much moisture out of cells that bacteria cannot survive.  A 10% salt concentration will prevent bacterial growth, and 20% is required to actually kill bacteria and mold.


Below is the recipe for vegetable bouillon cured with salt. As a concentrated paste of fresh vegetables, it can be used in place of vegetable broth for soups or sauces. Think of it as "instant from scratch," saving you time later on and offering a unique flavor!  It is quite mild and enhances every recipe I've tried.  It does not work well as an instant broth, however; remember the vegetables are raw and they need to simmer and cook.

Vegetable Bouillon Mix
Note this recipe absolutely requires a kitchen scale, and a food processor is highly recommended!

9 oz leek
7 oz fennel
8 oz carrot
9 oz celery or celery root
2 oz sun dried tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
3-1/2 oz parley
3-1/2 oz cilantro
1 tsp black peppercorns
~ 3/4 c. sea salt*

Use the freshest vegetables around.  Scrub, clean, and peel.  You can also add shallots, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, turnips, etc.  Add other herbs and spices as desired.  The weights above are suggested, but can be changed to suit your taste.

Chop everything up using a good food processor.   Then weigh the vegetable mixture.

*Add 5 parts vegetables to 1 part salt by weight.  Simply divide the ounces of vegetables by 5 to obtain the ounces of salt needed.  If the vegetables weigh 20 oz, add 4 oz of salt.

Place in jars and store in a cool, dry place.  (This recipe fills 3 pint jars.) Let sit for 1 week before using.

To use, add 1 tsp mixture to 1 cup of water.

January 1, 2014

Resolutions 2014

 Refreshing resolutions to actually look forward to this year...  

1.  Sleep well, then keep moving.  
Get a good night's sleep every night.  And during the day?  Time to dance.  =)

2.  Eat real food.
Fruits, vegetables, fish, chocolate, hard cheeses, nuts, heavy breads...  

3.  Pray more.  
It's transforming.

4.  Hold on to the good.
Make looking for the good a delightfully extraordinary trait.


Let me know what you have resolved for 2014!  Please share!