To Amuse and Delight

Monday, December 12, 2016

palm trees and tumbleweeds

Last weekend I visited my friend Holly in sunny California. She is home taking a break from Cambodia, visiting her family in Cali for the holidays. I don't know when she will be in the states again, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a few days with her. 
It was funny for me to see all the Christmas decorations amidst the palm trees and flowers. 
I met Holly's friends and family, ate Mexican food and best of all...chased tumbleweeds! I had only seen tumbleweeds in movies, so it was a big deal for me to experience the real thing. It was really windy and they were rolling all over looking like a crazy creatures. I needed my girls to see real tumble weeds too, so I ripped a couple of small fresh ones out of the dry ground and sent them home to them.

Last Christmas my husband gifted me with this decorative critter. When I first opened it I was confused. "Why are you giving me a cow?", was my first reaction. He explained that it is a deer and a very cool deer at that, once you insert branches or flowers for antlers. I have been having fun with it ever since. Oh, the name Milkie comes from the fact that I thought he was a cow. Now Milkie is  looking quite fancy with California tumbleweeds for Christmas.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Loving Fall (and food)

Beautiful isn't it? Autumn, it's the best. We sat on a rock with friends, eating our picnic lunch. This was the scene before us. Winter is rough here in NY, but I don't think I would ever be content to live somewhere without the four seasons. I'm sure there are people who would disagree. I guess it's what you are used to.

The candles are lit. Bringing warmth and light to the table since it's getting dark early these days. Anything left in the fridge is being turned into soup. "Leftover Soup" is always a hit. I can never duplicate Leftover Soup, but I can make an equally tasty new one.

Curries and stews are happening, cosy comfy bowls of warmth. As it gets colder and those beautiful leaves disappear, I put the color on the table. I am a true believer in the effect of beauty and color on our souls. Those gourd candle holders are festive and very simple to make. Just drill the proper size hole and stick your candles in. Bringing natural beauty into the home is easy and very cheap, even free. Grow some gourds (they pretty much grow themselves), pick up some acorns and leaves.

I'll take any excuse to use the oven, it warms up the house. Just like Leftover Soup, crumbles are  popular on my table. Any fruit or fruit combination will work. Frozen, fresh or canned fruits topped with oats, sucanat, butter and flour make for a more cheerful afternoon when that sun starts to go down. The smell of good things baking always lifts up the mood of the home.

I don't bake cookies that often. Just for holidays or special occasion. Halloween kicks off the cookie baking season for me. I'd rather the kids satisfy their sugar urge with home made cookies rather than the artificial candy that will inevitably appear. To color the gray mushrooms and black bats I used activated charcoal, just like my black donuts and black pie

I consider the arrival of Fall a worthy enough occasion to celebrate with friends and fall leaf cookies.
I am feeling happy, warm, and almost ready to take on winter.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Autumn Tea Cosies in the shop

My fingers are cold as I type this. As soon as I'm done I'm running for another cup of hot tea. Yep, it's that time of year again. The Autumn chill is upon us here in NY. I just finished a batch of Fall themed Tea Cosies. Some for my etsy shop
 and some to be sold at Florrie Kaye's Tea Room.

 Storybook Houses make me wonder who may be passing in and out of little doors.  

Of course mushrooms must pop up before the frost comes.

A friend suggested I make some tea cup cosies. I'd never thought of that before, but I gave it a shot. They are pretty cute. I enjoy seeing a couple of these littles on my table even if they are empty. They look like little mushroom houses, bringing a jolly pop of warmth to a chilly day. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Limberlost Tea

A dear friend of mine just finished reading The Girl of The Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter. Limberlost, though published in 1909, is timeless.  Porter's obvious love of nature and her wisdom concerning the human heart make it one of my all-time favorite reads.
Yesterday I surprised my friend with a Limberlost Tea. We spent a "kindred spirit" afternoon together rehashing favorite parts.  I set up a Limberlost table scene. The old violin was my grandfather's, handling it always makes me feel grateful to have had such a grandfather. 

If you are familiar with The Girl of the Limberlost, the objects will make sense. If you haven't read Girl of the Limberlost, I hope this tempts you to do just that.

I'll leave with you a few notable quotes from the book.

"To me, it seems the only pleasure in this world worth having is the joy we derive from living for those we love, and those we can help."

"Young people," she said solemnly, "if your studying science and the elements has ever led you to feel that things just happen, kind of evolve by chance, as it were, this sight will be good for you. Maybe earth and air accumulate, but it takes the wisdom of the Almighty God to devise the wing of a moth. If there ever was a miracle, this whole process is one."

“And remember this: What you are lies with you. If you are lazy, and accept your lot, you may live in it. If you are willing to work, you can write your name anywhere you choose, among the only ones who live beyond the grave in this world, the people who write books that help, make exquisite music, carve statues, paint pictures, and work for others.”

"To be patient, to be unselfish, to do unto others as I would have them do to me." "And the oaks?" "They say 'be true,' 'live a clean life,' 'send your soul up here and the winds of the world will teach it what honour achieves.’"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22, 1991

On this day Sept. 22., (1991) Billy Graham preached to an estimated crowd of 200,000 people in Central Park. His largest event in North America. 
 My then boyfriend, now husband took this picture of me there on the The Great Lawn. The Spiderman duffle bag was what he toted his camera equipment around in. Cameras couldn’t fit in your pocket in 1991! 

Were you there?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cambodia and Me

I am back! Back to blogging. Back from Cambodia. I went to Cambodia this summer with a team from my church who also happen to be some of my closest and dearest friends. We brought 900 lbs of medicines, hygiene items, baby clothes and jewelry making supplies. I was especially excited to visit my friend Holly who I have mentioned before. She runs a home for vulnerable young women in Phnom Penh called ‘The House of Refuge’

The rehabilitated girls at Refuge make jewelry to raise funds to live without ever having to return to their old lives which usually involved sex trafficking. Unfortunately it is the norm for the poor people to sell their young daughters to pay off family debt. Holly rescues girls from different places, but one way is street outreaches. This is when you go out at night to the red light areas, speak to the girls, and offer them a new life.

Much prostitution centers around the temples, such as this one. We split up to cover more ground, each of us had a Khmer (Cambodian) girl from Refuge to translate. The girls who are rescued are so brave and eager to go out to the brothels and streets to help others. One girl did come home with us that night, which was beautiful. My heart broke though for the countless girls who didn’t.

My favorite place has got to be the province of Kampong Cham. I fell in love with the place and the people. They are living in a kind of poverty that we don’t know here in the US. This is a small “village” that is actually the dump. The garbage trucks dump the trash, the people here sort it and the trucks pick it up another day and pay them a pittance.

Such Beautiful children! Dirty and scarred from playing in the trash, but ever eager to flash you a playful smile. They are malnourished and are in great need of clean water and medicine. We hooked up with a local church that makes weekly visits to bring food and supplies. For these people the church is their lifeline.

This beautiful woman was left in the dump by her children. She lived through the Khmer Rouge. I asked her how she survived, I know they killed everyone who had a defect and she is blind. She says they spared her because she could cook! Everywhere we went we heard amazing stories like this. I so badly wanted to take her home, take care of her, and hear all of her stories. 

We got the word out that we would be having a medical outreach at the church near the dump. Many people came, for 6 hours we nonstop served the people. I was helping out my friend Jodi who is a chiropractor, she told me where to rub, massage or tap. She had 5 tables set up with patients and a long line out the door! It was hot and I should have been exhausted, but it wasn’t that bad. Once you get a patient you just want to do anything to help. Many people walked away who hadn’t walked in years! Crooked people stood and walked! 
Jodi said never in her practice would one treatment cause results like that. It was all God. We prayed with and for all the people we treated. Many people renounced Buddhism and walked out with Jesus after witnessing his power. Truly amazing!

We were able to get into a prison and a hospital. The Aids Ward at the hospital was my most horrible memory, it just makes you feel so helpless. I didn’t take any pictures because I think it wrong. We asked them if they wanted prayer, that we could give them. 

At the prison we had to leave everything electronic at the gate, all phones, cameras. Pictures are a no-no. They offered the prisoners the choice to come talk to us, sing with us and study the bible. We also brought gift bags of hygiene products.

It was all emotionally and physically draining, but great! I definitely want to go back and stay longer. I continue to support my friends who are full time missionaries with encouragement and finances. They are doing amazing, life changing work and it is not easy!

Yes, it is very hot and humid and it floods… There are bugs. I even ate some. (Yep)
But, Cambodia is one great adventure that I highly recommend. You will overlook the uncomfortable parts because the people will touch your heart and hopefully you will be able to touch theirs. 

My daughter's Cambodian Adventure HERE

Monday, July 4, 2016

Back on the Blogging Road....

HeLLo Everyone and Happy Fourth of July! Sorry if any of you kindhearted folks worried about my absence from the blog world. I am just fine, I just lost touch with blogging. 

It all started back in March, when my two lovely friends, Holly and Alicia came to visit us. They are missionaries who run a home for "at risk" girls in Cambodia called House of Refuge. Please visit their site and support them if you can. I know firsthand that the work they are doing is legitimate and is saving girls lives.

I had the best time showing them NYC and  getting to know them more intimately. Alicia ended up staying with us for an extended couple of months. My family and I fell deep in love with her and she has become a daughter/friend/sister to us.

During that time I just didn't think about blogging. And after they left...
 I was out of the habit, I felt so disconnected from the blog world. 
I started thinking things like, "why blog?". Questioning my motives. 
Why blog?
I am blogging again because I like it! It's that simple. I love the connections I've made with other bloggers over the years. The inspiration I have borrowed from fellow bloggers is amazing. You never cease to bring new and wonderful ideas to my attention.
 I can honestly say that my entire blogging experience has been a positive, happy journey and I've missed it and all of you who keep me inspired and keep my creativity moving forward.
All this to say, I am heading back down the blogging road and I am very excited to be back. I'm looking forward to taking unknown paths and falling down some rabbit holes with you.

Monday, February 8, 2016

a fighter's hat

About this time last year I posted The Prayer Hat, about my dear friend and her battle with cancer. She was losing her gorgeous hair and I made her what I consider a gentle, healing hat. It was slouchy, soft and the color reminded me of a dull cloud.

A year has passed since that hat. More operations, more chemo, more battling. More Prayer. When I love someone and feel helpless to fix their pain, I pray. I pray to God for their healing and I pray for an idea of something that I can do to ease that pain or sadness. For me the answer usually comes in the form of an image of something I can make for the person. Whether it's a doll, a shawl, a meal, or a hat. Praying through the entire process of creation is such a good way to pray. You not only devote that time with your head and your heart, but you also dedicate your hands to the task. 

This new hat is a strong, non apologetic screaming red. A fighter's hat.

If you can, please say a prayer for healing. You don't need to know her name. Just call her the beautiful red hat mommy. God knows who you're  talking about.

Monday, January 25, 2016

blizzards, bobbles and beans

I’m sure you all saw how NYC got slammed with snow and wind this past Saturday. It was convenient to be snowed in on a weekend. We were ready for it. I planned to knit, bake and enjoy the beauty of the snow. Which I did. I made another bumpy hat. This one is less slouchy and more bumpy. My daughter modeled for me, much better than those weird angled selfies!

Bean Cake. I found a garbanzo bean cake recipe in an old Mexican cookbook. Folks today are baking with beans for GF and other health reasons, I was surprised to see it as an old  fashioned, traditional cake. 

The basic recipe:
 2  10oz. or 1 19 oz. can garbanzos 
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder

Bake at 350 degrees in a loaf pan for about 50 minutes

I have been tweaking and messing around with this. It is very adaptable to all kinds of flavors. You can add a grated apple, banana, vanilla, lemon, coconut, ginger, espresso powder, cocoa, get the idea!

I also made a chocolate one with black beans instead of garbanzos, it was really good and less “beany”. The garbanzos do have a distinct flavor that some people won’t like. I have tried white beans and they are milder. If you are trying to hide the fact that you are eating beans go with the white or black beans over the chick peas.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

freestyle booble hat

After that fussy cabled sweater I had the urge to knit something without a pattern or plan. What began as a wide scarf ended up a slouchy hat! As I was knitting I realized that I have a wide large scarf from last year that looks pretty much the same. 

I ripped it out and started a hat.  I wasn't having enough fun with it, so I started throwing in some random bobbles to make it interesting. As soon as it was finished I tried it on and took this selfie. Which doesn't do the yarn justice at all.

In need of some natural light, I went outside and popped it on the bird feeder. You can see the delicious color and the bumpy bobbles much better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Birthday Sweater 2016

My birthday falls in December. Each September, I get started knitting my next birthday sweater. I finished this one in time, but couldn't wear it on my birthday because I just couldn't settle on the buttons. I sifted through my extensive button stash. Not satisfied I ordered some pretty abalone buttons. When I laid them out on the sweater I didn't like it. I realized that with all that cable going on up front I really don't need buttons showing off.
* Oh, that deer head in the background was a gift from my husband. Pretty cool! You can stick anything into it to make antlers. 

I finally found buttons that work, simple brown buttons made from coconut shell. The brown is actually the underside of the button, the front is speckled beige. I'm pretty happy with the finish. My thoughts are moving on to the next project. I think it's going to be a very colorful scarf that is much too long and much too wide. Winter temperatures have finally hit NY and I am not used to it!