Saturday, January 31, 2009

Indian Hawthorn flowers

It's hard to imagine that people are freezing there tushes off in other parts of the country when we had sunshine and temperatures in the 70's and 80's this week.

Rosebush silhouettes on the truck night, illuminated by the headlights of oncoming cars.
Every time I see this in my driveway, I always think it looks cool. Finally, last week I took a picture, weird and grainy though it may be. And just my luck, too, because yesterday the neighbor's gardener cut all the roses back.

The scientist as a young man

Now that he's taking upper-division level science classes, Michael is required to wear a lab coat. He wants to personalize it with some kind of, shall we say, embellishment? I have suggested we draw or paint some tentacles coming out of the pocket. He likes that idea!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Climbing the corporate ladder

I haven't participated in Illustration Friday for a long time. I don't really know why. I still check every week to see what the theme is. And I do have an old doodle that works perfectly for this week's theme: Climbing

Way back in the olden days, (I mean way back, maybe 35 years ago), my neighbor asked me to make a card for someone who was getting a promotion at work. I don't really remember what the finished product looked like, but this little sketch remains in my old sketchbook.

I'm not going to actually link this to the IF website, but in my mind I'm still playing the game.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Working on something

I haven't really felt like blogging too much lately. I've been just surfin' around looking for something fun and interesting. I found the cute picture below on Flickr, and have been wasting massive amounts of time trying to make a digital fabric stitched, uh...thing.

My progress so far. You don't want to know how many hours I've frittered away on this. Not all at one go. I don't have the patience to sit in front of this machine for too long. And, disappointingly, my eyes are tired from staring at the screen, and my fingers are cramped from grasping the stylus, so it's as physically exhausting (such as it is) as real needlework, sorta. Oh, and my butt gets tired from all this sitting. So I'm up and down a lot. I can't remember how many times I've fiddled around and started something like this and never finished it. Maybe I'll luck out with this one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Low fat tortilla strip FAIL

I'm blaming my toaster oven.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sweet-Tangy Plum-Spiced Chicken

Saw this on someone's blog, and I'm saving it for posterity.

1-1/4 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

4 green onions, more for garnish, chopped

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup plum jam

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs together with Chinese five-spice powder and salt.In a nonstick skillet, heat extra-virgin olive oil until hot. Add chicken thighs and cook 5 minutes on each side, until browned and juices run clear. Transfer thighs to a plate; cover to keep warm.In drippings in skillet, on medium heat, cook chopped green onions until browned, about three to four minutes.Stir in chicken broth, plum jam and balsamic vinegar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and reduce down until sauce is syrupy; about four minutes. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet and coat with the sauce. Garnish with green onion.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Shredding the past, at last

Last week, we got a notice from our credit union that they will be hosting a big "shred-a-thon", where people can bring in any personal papers and documents for free shredding. We have had our own shredder here at the house for years and use it regularly, and over time we have gotten rid of lots of our old statements and bills. But the prospect of a free shredding service inspired Jerry to haul his mom's old papers out of storage and finally go through them, with the intent to shred most of them.

This is a big deal. Eleanor passed away almost 5 years ago. We knew she was a "saver", but the amount of paperwork she left behind was just daunting. Boxes and boxes and files and files. And while part of it was semi-organized, lots of it was a mish-mash of old bills and receipts, together with school stuff, greeting cards, and military and immigration records. A single, tattered folder might contain items spanning four decades and include anything from Eleanor's 3rd grade report card to a receipt for groceries back in 1958. The paycheck stubs went back to the 40's. So did the tax papers.

It was too much for Jerry to go through all that stuff when we had to clean out his mom's house, so we rented one of those storage units and put them in there. Somehow, he managed to find all the things he needed to find in order to settle the trust. Everything else would just have to wait until he felt like sorting through it.

So now he feels like going through it! We brought home about a dozen or so boxes, and we spent a few hours going through some of them today. The old cancelled checks were pretty easy to go through. This particular set was from the 50's and early 60's, I think. There were medical statements from the 80's and 90's. Lots of employment related stuff, paystubs, company products, business loan papers.

Jerry was really good about putting most of the stuff in the "shred" pile. There were a few personal tidbits that were just too good to throw away, of course. It's the prospect of finding hidden family treasures that compels Jerry to carefully go through each box and folder, each stack of papers, before they are relegated to the shredder. And with the musty smell of Grandma's house still permeating everything, it was all very nostalgic.

We're not done. Maybe not even half done. There are still more boxes in the truck, and at least 4 big boxes at the storage place. But we made a dent today.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I think we just had an earthquake.

Yep. Preliminary reports are 5.0 with an epicenter about 40 miles from here as the crow flies. From here, it was just strong enough to feel. And make me nervous for a few minutes.

Frogs on my computer!

Literally! After being tucked into a little box, slipped into an envelope, and loaded onto a jet, these two little mascots have landed right on my keyboard. I'll put them in my blog sidebar soon, to replace the other little frog that disappeared. Thanks, Kathleen!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Practically twins

While dusting around my seashell collection, I discovered that my little sea urchin skeleton bears a striking resemblance to the little Euphorbia obesa I bought last month.

My neighbor's roses

Topsy Turvy Transplant Time

Some of my succulents seem to have a limited lifespan. They get spindly, or shrivelly, or just yucky-looking after a few years. Fortunately, I can usually trim them back, or root some cuttings. The plant above is Echeveria Topsy Turvy, a favorite that I bought at the arboretum several years ago. I already transplanted cuttings from it a few years ago when it got yucky, and now it's yucky again.

It has a few "pups" growing around the base of the main plant. Each one can become a whole new plant. I'll try to save the top part too. I can trim off the dead stuff and replant it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The frog gadget is officially "broken"

Finally today, I tried to reinstall my non-functioning frog gadget in my sidebar, only to get a little pop-up message from Blogger informing me that that particular gadget is "broken".

Yes, I wrote that that.

Anyway, so no more frog. :(

Friday, January 02, 2009


It's the Mothership of mushrooms. The cap was big enough across to be a coaster for a coffee mug.

I just put my little camera under it and clicked!


Here's a little bit of California-style cold from a couple of weeks ago. Ice crystals on my car. It was down into the 30's at night and for a few days it hardly made it out of the 40's all day. I know that people who live where it gets really cold would laugh at 40-degree temperatures, but this is cold for me.

Some of our neighbors had frost on their roofs and lawns. We got just a touch on our ivy.

Meanwhile, a good deal of the deciduous trees are still in the middle of autumn. This is a Chinese Zelkova tree at the arboretum.

Look how pretty.

Even the view down below is nice.