Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 31

Teaghan is home from college for the weekend and came to spend the afternoon with us. While we were chatting, she told us that when she is married and has children, she would like to live somewhere near us so we can spend time with our great-grandchildren like we did with her and Marijke. I love this girl ( and my other 4 granddaughters too).

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 30

About three  years ago many of the galvanized pipes in our home began to leak. It was necessary to re-plumb the entire house, not an inexpensive home repair. We also chose to have a whole house water filtration system installed in order to remove chemical residues in the water we consume. Shortly after the filtration system was installed we began to notice an unpleasant sulfur smell in the tap water. The plumber contacted the filter manufacturer who suggested they add an additional chemical filtration unit between the large filter tank and the house. That seemed to do the trick and all was well until last week when we began to notice a marked decrease in water pressure. A plumber can and determined that the particulate filter canister was exhausted but they no longer had any cartridges in stock. he removed the cartridge, the water pressure returned to normal , and the technician left after promising to consult with the owner of the company. Later that afternoon, the scheduler called and arranged an appointment to replace the filter. Imagine my surprise when the technician arrived with a brand new filtration system which was installed at no charge to us. It seems the particulate filter comes preinstalled in the new filtration systems so they chose to upgrade our unit under their warranty policy.

Today I am grateful to Milton Frank Plumbing  ( for outstanding customer service. Plus, I am grateful for water pressure adequate to fill my tub for my nightly steamy, hot Epsom salt soaks.

A Year of Gratitude. Day 29

Absolutely in awe of the talent and dedication shown by the theater students and directors who are involved in the 2015 Klein High School production of Les Miserables .


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 28


Life had a way of intervening with the household chores through the holidays, so I have been spending the last several days catching up on the ironing.
Today was a red letter day -
All the baskets are empty. Unfortunately the laundry hamper is not.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 26

I love seeing the wild ducks in the pond at the park. This little guy was very camera shy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 25

What a fun, messy day Jim and I had  making sausage today.

Chopping 10 pounds of pork.

Grinding the meat, using the same grinder he used when  he was a kid
Filling the casing
First batch of links, made about 3 dozen
Pan-fried sausage patty, made 10 of those

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 24

We've been a bit too sedentary on weekends of late, so today we decided to adventure away from home. Our first stop was Allied Kenco ( where we purchased the sausage stuffing equipment below. Don't ask me -- it was my husband's idea!
Next we headed to Aunt Bea's Kitchen ( for breakfast -  corned beef hash with hash browns and  over easy eggs, 4 (really) eggs per plate for $6.99 an order. We haven't eaten again yet, and it's after 9:00pm.
Then we visited Spec's where we purchased 2 of the last 3 cases of our favorite malbec ( , some Scotch,  several cans of Booth Bay Salmon Chowder, and a variety of European chocolates.
After exploring High Fashion Home D├ęcor ( disappointing), we headed home for naps and TV.
It's been a great day! Tomorrow we'll try making sausage.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 23

Apologizing up front for the lack of focus in the picture. I forgot to turn on the HD feature on my phone, so the focus of the picture is not so great.
The young lady in this photo, Katie Joy Farmakakis, is the brand new teacher in my former developmental classroom. This has been a really huge week for her -- she signed her contract and became the official teacher of record yesterday and today the Appliance Warehouse of America delivered all of these new kitchen appliances, plus a microwave oven,  for use in her classroom kitchen (she had contacted them last week in hopes that they might donate a new refrigerator to replace the 20+ year old model that was not keeping foods cold anymore).
Her students are engaged, they are learning, they are happy, they are thriving.
Thank you, Katie Joy. You are well-named.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 22

We are a family of crazy cat people. Both of these cats are 15+years old. The gray cat on the footstool has arthritis in her hips and several compressed discs in her spine; the calico in the chair is missing her left front leg due to spindle cell cancer. They both love to spend their day sleeping near the fire.
The weather for the past several days has been sunny and warm-ish, and we have not been lighting the fire. This morning the calico was very vocal; she would meow and look over to the fireplace, meow and look at me, meow and look back  at the fireplace. Finally, she hopped over to the cabinet behind which the valve to the gas line is hidden, looked at me and MEOWED.  The goddess having spoken, we have fire, and quiet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Year of Gratitude, Day 21

Today my friend Linda and I celebrated her retirement from teaching.
We are looking forward to many lunch and movie dates.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Year of Gratitude, Day 20

A girl's gotta love Apple TV on ironing day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Year of Gratitude. Day 19

Spending the day with Marijke, especially grateful to have these opportunities given that about this time 21 years ago, we were not sure she would ever come home from the hospital.

This is Marijke at 9 days old -

And this is Marijke  with  great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother on the day she was discharged from Texas Children's Hospital almost 6 months later

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 17

Not the greatest of pictures, but nevertheless, three of my favorite people caught during the first course of a delicious dinner at home. The menu included Christmas Eve Salad (I know, I know) -- bananas, pineapple, sliced beets, jicama, peanuts, pomegranate seeds,, shredded lettuce, anise seeds, lemon juice, sugar, and limes), broccoli with lemon peel and shallots, fried rice-a-roni (the San Francisco treat!), Italian-style shrimp, and Hawaiian fruit tart.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 16

A few of my Mah Jongg Mavens at one of our  weekly play dates.
I love spending time with these ladies.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 15

Is that perchance the sun trying to break through the clouds?

There's even a shadow cast by my across-the-street-neighbor's mailbox.
And refractions through my front door.
Grateful for this partly sunny, chilly-ish day after DAYS of cold and rain.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 13

Having no prescription insurance for my cat, I was pleased to see that a month's supply of her pain medication was only $31.39 at Walgreens. That might be a dollar or so cheaper than the cost when I get it filled at the vet's office (they were completely out of the medication and so was I). Last year our calico cat was taking gabapentin in oral suspension which had to be specially formulated at a compounding pharmacy. That formulation was half the strength but twice the cost.
The things we do for our pets.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 12

My lawn maintenance man FINALLY came to clean up the rest of the fallen leaves - 12 bags of wet leaves waiting for pick up on Thursday.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 10

 Kate and I began our weight loss journey together this time last year. With the hullabaloo of the Holidays and recent unsettling life events, I found myself ignoring healthy eating and exercise behaviors. Today she dragged me, kicking, screaming and teary-eyed, back to our Saturday morning Weight Watchers meeting. We will rock this!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eat the Year




Last October I was browsing through my local Barnes and Noble when I happened across this fun little book, written by Steff Deschenes.  Knowing that I was about to begin a long-term substitute teaching position in a middle school life skills classroom for students with developmental disabilities, I decided to purchase the book and use some of the included recipes as cooking activities with the students. November 10th was National Vanilla Cupcake Day so one of the students whose IEP required her to independently follow a 4-step recipe baked vanilla cupcakes for her classmates. On National Apple Cider Day (November 18th), we used apple cider to make Crock-Pot Applesauce -- warm and cinnamon-y deliciousness. Kids with disabilities often are finicky eaters, but they ALL loved this applesauce.
When my assignment was completed, I took the book home and, alas, promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, as I was packing away my Christmas decorations, I found the book and discovered that today, January 9, is National Apricot Day. Who in his right mind would select a day in the middle of winter to celebrate apricots. According to Ms Deschenes, the word apricot derives from the Latin word meaning "precious." Scientists have found evidence that indicates apricot trees have been producing fruit since prehistoric times.
Fresh apricots are not available in Texas markets in January; dried apricots, however, are. So here's a recipe to celebrate National Apricot Day. I've made this recipe several times. I'm not a huge fan of Spanish chorizo, but the pasta is not bad. I hope you give it a try.

 Happy National Apricot Day, y'all!

A Year of Gratitude, Day 9

Today I am feeling especially grateful for Dr. Benjamin Hendin who successfully treated my husband for high grade prostate cancer in August 2012.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 8

As I was packing up the Christmas tree decorations today, I came across this gift card tucked deep in the tree. I have no idea who tucked it in there, but I loved finding it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 7

Thankful that I have been tracing original pattern pieces.  I was able to recreate the piece I needed to cut lining fabric after destroying the traced piece I used marking dart and buttonhole placements on the brocade..

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 6

My 34-year-old son-in-law had a heart attack yesterday.
Today I am filled with gratitude for the doctors at UPMC Presbyterian who, despite seeing a normal EKG, knew something was not right and ordered an angiogram.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 4

Thankful that my daughter, Amanda, is my sweat shop sweetie partner in crime. This is the third year that we have helped create costumes for the Klein High School drama program's musical productions. This year's production, Les Mis, will open on January 23.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 3

The "new couch" is the greatest place to build my nest when I am having trouble sleeping.
We've owned this particular couch since 1977.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dedicating Myself to Being the Best Me Possible?

Ding ding.

When I hear that annoying little ping coming from my cell phone about this time every morning, I know it's 9:30 and my Weight Watchers' coach is sending another mass-mail motivational quote. This morning it is a reminder to "Dedicate 2015 to being the best you possible." While I know that my journey toward a healthy BMI is helping me to become a more healthy me, I find myself feeling irritated with the message that perhaps I cannot be good enough until I lose "x" more pounds. For a person who struggles with self-esteem issues, this is a daunting way to begin the new year.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons I have begun my photographic year of gratitude, to remind myself of all the good things in my life, all those people, things, places that encourage me to be the best me that I can possibly be and even more, to acknowledge that no one can be her  best when she travels the path alone.

A Year of Gratitude, Day 2

25.5 pounds lighter today than on this date one year ago. Yay me!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 1

Placing a steaming cup of coffee on my bedside table on chilly winter mornings is just one of the many ways my husband says he loves me.