Saturday, May 30, 2009

1 Year of Pink Saturday!

Happy 1st Birthday, Pink Saturday! Beverly made Pink Saturday a group event one year ago, and aren't we glad? Check Beverly's site How Sweet The Sound for tons more posts on pink!
I took a stroll through my archives to see what I could find...

June 2007: Pink suitcase, estate sale near Cross Hill, SC. I love how the light reflecting off the suitcase is turning the concrete pillar behind it pink. The lady who owned this suitcase also had...

A pink and purple kitchen! What a fun lady! This part of the house was closed to the public, so I got the best picture I could from a distance, and I'm pretty sure I got fussed at :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007: Orchids at the Palo Alto, CA farmer's market.

Thursday August 16, 2007: Glads (I think) at the Medford, Oregan farmer's market.

November 2007: The Birthday Queen, I mean, hubs trying out a wonderful pink product at Swoozie's in Greenville, SC.

May 30, 2009: Hubs will have his revenge in this life or the next when he finds out I've posted this picture.

What a wonderful Pink year its been! Thank you, Beverly!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Easter Egg Garland Swap

Jennifer of Artrageous Afternoon hosted an Easter Egg Garland swap several months ago, and after a great and yet-to-be-posted experience with a Valentine card swap I jumped at the chance to trade more paper art. We each decorated 5 eggs and sent them to Jennifer who shuffled them up, put them into banner form with a ribbon and teeny clothes pins and sent them back.

By Amy Wald

Who made this one?? It wasn't signed! And they went all out decorating side 1 and...

Side 2; lovely!

By Melinda of Melinda's Fabric Fancies; here's her post about some of the eggs she made.

By Joanna of Sweet Finds; here's her post about the eggs she made.

Who made this one??

Here are the eggs I contributed to the swap.

I had to make a 6th one for me to keep of course! As you can see I tend to be pretty precise in my paper art; I'm working on being a bit more relaxed and free form. It's a process, and I'm excited to see where I end up!

I wish that all the artists had labeled their Easter eggs; as you can see there are couple that were blank, so I have no idea who to thank.
This was such a fun swap and now I have a wonderful piece to add to my Easter and spring decor. Thanks to Jennifer and to each of the talented ladies whose lovely Easter eggs I received!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pink Saturday/Majestic Feathers Tag Swap

Happy Pink Saturday! Beverly has the full list of bloggers posting about pink this Saturday, so check it out!

Jenny of Fated Follies hosted the Majestic Feathers Tag swap calling for tags, and I quote, "decorated with fancy birds, royal hues, crowns and majestic notions." Oh that sounded fun, so I had to sign up!

I envisioned deep purple tags decorated with peacocks in royal blues and teals, sporting real feathers in their tails. I bought a bundle of peacock feathers on Ebay and was so excited until I noticed the (not so) fine print: they would be shipping from Hong Kong...and would arrive in about 2 weeks. Plan B! I found some fluffy white feathers and sparkly pink crowns had me envisioning bright yellow and pink tags featuring white birds. Of course these tags evolved in the creative process as art projects do and I ended up with these which I really like:

A little pink castle on the back of each tag livens up my contact info (written in pink, of course).

I can't wait to receive the tag booklet of 12 tags each done by a different artist!
These tags show that the inclusion of other colors can actually serve to enhance our beloved pink. Doesn't it look even happier and more vibrant next to the cheerful yellow and the snowy white? I think so.

Happy Pink Saturday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Before I start this Mother's Day post I need to recognize today, May 22, as a very special day and say Happy Birthday, Mom!
Now on to the Mother's Day Brunch 2009 recap!
The brother, the mother, me

This past Friday saw another yummy Mother's Day brunch and a very fun day for my mom and me.

We had:
Half and Half with Lemonade Ice Cubes
Blueberry Maple Breakfast Bake
Cardamom Citrus Fruit Salad
Kale with Pinto Beans and Roasted Red Peppers
Sage-Mustard Breakfast Sausage
Ricotta-Mascarpone Mousse with Balsamic Strawberries

It was all delicious! My notes for next time:

--The lemonade tea was a bit tart for me, so I would increase the simple syrup by another 1/4 to 1/2 cup. I didn't leave enough time for the ice cubes to freeze, so they were a bit liquidy. Next time I will make the lemonade and the ice cubes a day ahead.

--The blueberry maple bake was SO easy, SO delicious and looked very impressive; I assembled it the night before and put it straight into the oven an hour before lunch. I want to try it with whole wheat bread next time.

--Instead of cutting up all the fruit for the citrus salad I took a shortcut and mostly used drained canned fruit: citrus salad, red grapefruit and mandarin oranges. I did actually section one navel orange myself. The salad was great; yay, canned fruit! Next time I would make the salad the day before.

--This kale dish is SO good. I made it for dinner a couple weeks ago and both hubs and I liked it. I am always looking for ways to make our vegetables interesting and yummy, and this recipe is GREAT. Mom likes veggies, so I thought she might like this (she did!).

--Sausage was easy and yummy. I used powdered sage as my local store didn't have fresh sage. Next time I will either make the meat mixture a day ahead and cook the sausage right before lunch, or cook the sausages a day ahead and heat them up before lunch.

--OH MY GOSH...ricotta-mascarpone mousse + balsamic strawberries = HEAVEN. Absolute heaven. I had some of the left over strawberries and mousse for breakfast Saturday AND ridiculously good. This is a simple dish, and it looks all frou frou and impressive. And in case I didn't say, its delicious.

--Each time I host a dinner I see myself improving. From absolutely wigging out and darting around getting not much of anything done to this time working steadily without wigging out, I'm getting closer and closer to having the food on the table when I want to with an absolute minimum of stress. This time I made a timeline detailing when to do each step in the whole process, but I didn't plan enough time in for prep work (chopping things, etc...I chop really slowly), so I will give myself more wiggle room in my next timeline. I also left myself too much to prepare the day of the brunch. Next time I will prepare as much of the food as possible the day before, so that the day of I have very little to do and can spend more time on the details (presentation, table decoration etc).

The little brother ("little" as in he turned 22 this year) came a bit early and hung out as he had to race back to work. Sadly Dad had to work, so he didn't make it to lunch. Hubs, mom and I had a relaxed time over our lunch talking about all sorts of things. Hubs took mom on a tour of our two vegetable gardens. Mom and I talked and looked at my blog; I let her read the entire first page before I told her no more, she could read my blog at her house, we had to go have fun now :) I presented her with a little gift bag containing a Mother's Day treat, and she wanted me to take a picture before she opened it, so we ended up outside on the front stoop. She wanted one of the pots of begonias I had planted to be in the picture, too (I swear, she's just about the cutest woman you will ever meet...she really takes delight in the small things like a pot of begonias her daughter managed not to kill), so she ended up sitting on the front stoop next to the pot. After a couple pictures I came and sat down as she opened her little treat (chocolate covered cherries from Italy! she loves choc covered cherries).

There we were sitting on the stoop looking out over the yard that is luxuriously shaded with not 1, not 2, but 3 of the cutest trees you'll ever see. The sky was blue with a few puffy white clouds, the birds were singing and a breeze was blowing. Cue another one of those moments where you just have to feel grateful for all God has given you.

After we tore ourselves away from admiring the lovely day, I introduced her to Schwartzentruber's Bakery here in Abbeville; we left with danish for dad, wheat bread and slices of homemade cake (I got pound cake with lemon was soooo good). Then we trolled through our local video place and after much consideration we came away with Twilight (she hadn't seen it and wanted to). After a short drive around Abbeville we made one last very important stop: the ice cream shop. Can it really be girls' day without ice cream present? Ice creams in hand we headed home and settled in for the movie before she headed home. It was a lovely, lovely day! I don't remember the last time we spent time doing whatever we wanted without much of a deadline. I think she really enjoyed herself, and hopefully she felt very loved and celebrated.

Here we are; and the begonias, too :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Animal Abuse

Why is this dog wearing a chain and padlock around its neck?

This dog was playing with another dog in the parking lot at work as hubs and I left for lunch today. It was not a very big dog, maybe 30 pounds or so, and the chain was big. It looked to be a Pit Bull mix and the other one, who seemed to be wearing an actual collar, looked like a Beagle mix with a smidge of Basset Hound. Both dogs came right up to us when we whistled and were only too happy for us to love on them for a couple minutes.

Of course my mind jumps to dogfighting and assumes that this chain is evidence that this dog is being trained to make its owner money, because that is something that I have learned recently does happen in our area. I just don't understand how someone could treat an animal with so little respect. Gabby of Sweetest Pea recently talked about her soft spot for animals, and I could identify. It really hurts to think of animals who suffer at the hands of those they should trust to care for them. This type of activity happens when the rest of us do nothing; please check out the Humane Society's website to find out if there is anything you can do to help prevent animal abuse in your area.

Maybe this dog's owner simply thought it would be cool to replace this sweet pup's collar and tag with a chain and padlock. Again I ask, why?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pink Saturday: NYC Blooms Pink

Happy Pink Saturday! Beverly has a round up of all the bloggers participating, so go check out more Saturday pinkness.

In April 2008 I visited New York City for the first time for a very short weekend business trip. My colleague and I arrived early on Friday so that we could squeeze in a few hours of sightseeing, and walking down 5th Avenue to make our lunch reservation at Gramercy Tavern (absolutely delicious, can't WAIT to go there again), we stumbled upon Madison Square Park just across the street from the Flatiron Building. And we found these lovely trees in bloom:

Huge branches of light pink blossoms were hanging right over the sidewalk, so we both had to stop and take pictures.
This picture doesn't show it, but the sunlight coming through the branches was SO beautiful...I had one of those moments when I am so full of whatever beautiful thing I'm looking at and so happy to be alive.

Just around the corner from Gramercy Tavern we wandered into this florist shop. They had so many interesting and gorgeous flowers and, to their credit, they had their bases covered with some amazing pink blooms.
A peony, maybe?

Are these ranunculus? Whatever they are, they are gorgeous!

Have a wonderful Pink Saturday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day 2008

This will be the 3rd year that I will have a Mother's Day brunch to honor my mom. I say "will have" because this year it hasn't happened yet. We spent Sunday with the hub's mom, and Mother's Day Part Deux will be this Friday.

Two years ago I made all the food, packed it in an elaborate system of insulated bags with cold packs and hoped it would make it through church (I was helping with the children's service, so I couldn't skip it) and the 35 minute drive to my parents' house. It did! And it was delicious. I took much of the menu from Food Network's suggested Mother's Day Menu 2007: Strawberry Bellinis, Fresh Fruit and Mint Salad, Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata, green salad using lettuce hubs grew, maybe roasted asparagus (can't remember...) and I think there was a dessert, but I don't remember what it any case Mom felt very special which was the point of the whole thing.
So this past year I thought, "Why not run that play again!" except this time I worked it out for Mom to come to was a huge endeavor to transport all the food, and thankfully she didn't mind making the hour drive if it meant she didn't have to cook, wash the dishes, or wait in line for 2 hours at her favorite restaurant.
I had recently discovered Tracy's delightful blog Notes on a Cottage Industry, and I just loved all of her tablescapes and cute banners, so I set out to do something really cute a la Tracy for my mom.
I set the table and printed the menu and place cards the night before, because I knew having the table ready would be a great comfort when I was freaking out trying to get all the food done (not to mention all the last minute house cleaning) the next day. Pretty much I dealt with the food and hubs scurried around getting the house all squared away: THANK YOU, BABE!
My inspirations were two pink scrapbook papers from the Martha Stewart collection at Michael's: a cream and light pink toile and a sparkly, deep pink. From those I pulled together a pink, white and silver table color scheme punctuated with plenty of sparkly glass. I used a plain white table cloth and white plates as the backdrop. The bouquet of gorgeous pink tulips (Mom's favorites) at the top of this post was the main attraction with candlesticks, silver Christmas ornaments (use what you got!), silver votive cups and a collection of vintage pearl and rhinestone earrings providing the rest of the table decoration. I rummaged through my jewelry to find several bracelets that fit the color scheme to serve as napkin rings and put placecards printed on that gorgeous sparkly pink paper at each place.
Even Mom's gift had a dash of fuchsia.

The menu card was printed on the toile paper.

We had:

Chicken Sausage (although I think I used turkey instead of chicken...)
Strawberry Salad Ring (It's actually called Strawberry Mold...and I just couldn't type that on my beautiful toile menu card. And of course I decided at the last minute to make it in a square dish instead of the ring, and no way was I reprinting that menu card :) )

Chocolate Mousse

Cause I'm mean and want to show you pictures that will make you drool, take a look at the French Toast Casserole.

Oh, was even better than it looks. It's a Paula Deen recipe, so you can be sure it is going to be sinfully good. After it was all said and done the dish was scraped CLEAN.

The final touch on the whole shebang was this cuuuuuute (if I do say so myself) "Mother O' Mine" banner fashioned after one that Tracy made for her mom. I alternated the two inspiration papers and strung the letters on a black ribbon.

Mom loved her event! She is just about the most gracious guest you will ever find, and she oohed and aahed over everything and just made me feel so good. We two plus Dad, brother and hubs had a great time eating some great food (thank you, Food Network!) and celebrating our mom/mom-in-law/wife.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintage Spring Sweetness Swap

Linda at A Swap For All Seasons has such fun swap themes, and I was so excited to participate in the Vintage Spring Sweetness Swap she organized recently. Thrifty Homemaker Angela was my partner, and she absolutely spoiled me!

She sent a box stuffed full of sweet spring goodies: candy (chocolate, marshmallows and Chick-O-Sticks), vintage goodies (detail below), lace ribbons, spring tags and sticky notes, Easter ornaments and a potpourri sachet.

Love the little vintage towel, saucer and postcard!
Angela, thank you for such a great box of surprises!
Here's what I sent Angela:

Vintage homemaking magazines, pink Peeps (Peeps have been around since the 50's, so they fit the vintage theme quite nicely), vintage spring-themed playing cards, a vintage hand towel from the Etsy shop Lilly's Cottage, an ornament that looked quite vintage to me and a spring banner I made for Angela. Our challenge this time was to try not to spend more than $10 and I had such fun searching for just the right items that I thought Angela would enjoy while sticking as close as I could to the swap parameters (total spent, vintage, spring).

Angela mentioned that she likes vintage homemaking magazines, so I thought she would enjoy these magazines from the 70's and the old farm cook book.

I found these vintage playing cards in the Etsy shop Frivolous Whimsy...and they were so cute I almost kept them :)

I am pretty proud of this banner; is that vain? I really enjoy making these, and I hope it adds some spring sweetness to Angela's home.
Linda had several drawings for cute spring-y vintage items for those of us in the swap and look who got the very last one!

I can't wait to find just the right use for this little charm.
Thank you, Linda, for a great swap and thank you, Angela, for my wonderful goodies!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mission Skydive #2: Accomplished!

I did it again! Jump-out-of-airplane #2 happened on Saturday, May 2 at about 5 pm. Aaaiiiii, it was FUN!!!!!!

Here's the video!

When my feet were back on the ground after my first jump in November I knew I wanted to jump again, and I couldn't pass up the chance to buy my second jump at 50% off original price if paid for before I left the drop zone that day. Those skydiving people are crafty ones.

It was imperative to jump before hot, humid summer arrived. I don't like to sweat and there would be nothing but sweating going on were I to be wearing that long-sleeved jumpsuit on pretty much any day in June, July, August, September or even late May for that matter, thus May 2 was chosen. My friend Jill, who has wanted to go skydiving since she was 16, was very excited to accompany me for her first jump...jumping with a friend is so fun!!

I did notice that in the weeks leading up to May 2 I felt oddly nervous when I thought about jumping for a second time. I got to the point where I avoided thinking about it. I don't like to feel can lead to sweating. I started checking the weather about 10 days out: scattered thunderstorms for Chester, SC. Oh no! Except the closer the day came the more I noticed a tiny little part of me that thought, "Maybe they'll have to cancel and reschedule...", a tiny traitorous part that actually sort of hoped for a reprieve to give me some time to work out my nerves. The weekend arrived and so did Jill (bearing lemon cake, bless her heart! Jill, you come back anytime now, y'hear!) and I started to think about all the fun things Jill and I could do with our day when we wouldn't have to make the drive to and from Chester, PLUS Jill could come back for another visit the weekend of the rescheduled skydive...perfect!

The morning of the EVENT was calling for storms to start at 3 pm in Chester...we were scheduled to jump between 4 and 5 pm. It didn't look good/it looked great! (dang traitor in my head) Maggie, the very sweet woman at Skydive Carolina who talked to me every time I called to ask what the weather verdict was, finally admitted that they couldn't be sure what the weather would do, and it was our call...and darn Jill and her excited yet rational self...she pointed out that this could just as easily happen again when we rescheduled the jump, thus we should take our chances and go. Sigh, ok, here we go.

Don't you know the sky was sunny and blue with puffy clouds floating lazily along when we got to the drop zone around 1 pm. At one point during the afternoon there was one ominous looking dark cloud that hung around for about 15 minutes and then drifted away. I began to realize that I wasn't going to be getting out of anything...except for an airplane at approximately 14,000 feet. I was so nervous! And I still have no idea why! I had no worries about anything bad happening, so I really don't know what my deal was. My tandem instructor did tell me later that it was common for people to be more nervous about their second dive. Ok, so I'm not a lone weenie at least; there are lots of weenies sort of like me!

We hung out and watched several plane loads go up: I was nervous.
We sat around and watched a team practice their freefall formations before going up: I was nervous.
We watched people repack parachutes: I was nervous.
We watched the "you can't sue us if you die" video and went through the training with Chuck, my instructor from my last jump: I was nervous.
We suited up and I met Robert West my tandem instructor for this jump: He was so nice! I was still nervous.

Oh and remember how that small suit didn't work out for me last time? Um, the medium suit was MIGHTY SNUG this, eating too much + not exercising enough really does have the effect they say, huh. Well, I'm working on that now. (I should say I'm relying heavily on God to help me work on that now and stick to it. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (And so can you if you let God help! Grab a Bible and read Phillipians chapter 4, verse 13)) We got on the plane, and BOY WAS I NERVOUS.

Even my hair looks nervous.

Honestly I don't remember the last time I have been so swamped with fear. I was praying as hard as I could and just deciding that I wasn't going to let the fear overwhelm me. It was a struggle, and I clung to God the whole time. I watched my altimeter on the way up so I'd be prepared when the instruction came to put my little diving hat on and get ready. We goofed around for the video, got all hooked up and suddenly that plane door was sliding up and people were falling out left and right...on purpose...and my turn was coming.
My goal for this jump was to keep my eyes open during freefall, and I was determined to follow through. I even paid for another video plus still pictures to encourage me to make the expense worthwhile. That's why I got them...not because I love to see myself in pictures or anything (haha...ha, ok, that was sarcasm). So I was thinking, "Keep your eyes open keep your eyes open, Kimberly, YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!"
I did actually help with the scooting down the bench this time (as opposed to last time when I wasn't actively resisting, but I sure wasn't helping Chuck get us closer to that gaping hole in the side of plane), but only because I was practicing wearing my big girl panties. Oh, look, there's my dear friend there by the door about to--oh, there she went...we're at the door, Robert says, "Ready, And, Arch!" and out we go. And I am staring at Terry my video flyer with all my might. And my eyes are open! And it is AMAZING! I am immediately really excited and proud of myself and trying to take it all in and mug for the camera, and did I mention I was proud of myself? These big girl panties sort of fit, don't they! (And that is no comment on my slightly too-snug, size medium jump suit)
My only issue this time is that I can't figure out how to breathe with all the wind in my I'm gulping like a fish the whole time. If you watched the video you may have noticed this strange behavior. Gulping results in pictures like this:

Yeah, not cute. But that just means that I have goals for next time! (That and my atrocious form...arms were supposed to be bent 90 degrees, not straight in front of me Superman-style, and I was supposed to arch so that my legs were pushed up behind me, not dangling down in front) Terry offered the mid freefall spin just as video man Pete did last time, but I wasn't ready for that yet, so you can see me in the video try to let him know a couple times I'm not up for the spinning. This gesturing resulted in pictures like this:

But gorgeous pictures skillfully taken of me making horrid, unflattering faces aside, THE JUMP WAS AMAZING! Keeping one's eyes open adds SO MUCH to the experience! Duh, right?? Makes sense...I was absolutely overwhelmed by the sight of the clouds and the sky and the ground and the tiny trees and Terry falling right with me, and the loud rush of wind. So overwhelmed and absorbed that I forgot all about checking my altimeter at any point. In the plane Robert had showed me the rip cord attached to me and said, "If you get scared or you see that we are at 3 or 4000 feet and I haven't opened the chute, you pull this", and I said, "Ok!" I am very glad Robert was awake and on the job because I was having such a good time I didn't think anything about how many thousand feet up we were at any given moment.
Once he pulled the chute and we slowed down I couldn't help but yell, I was SO excited about the amazing freefall. Bless Robert's heart, he's trying to do his parachute thing and I'm all, "OH MY GOSH THAT WAS AMAZING! WHOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOOW! THAT WAS AMAZING!" I was so full of the amazing thing we had done I just couldn't keep it in. He said it was a great jump as we had been stable (falling on our stomachs) from the very start without any flips or rolls. Cool! I like to think I helped with that in some way. I didn't, but I still like to think that.
The canopy ride was of course absolutely fun and amazing; I could even see Jill and Chuck below and in front of us. The wind was right for Jill and Chuck to do a stand-up landing while Robert and I scooted to a very soft sit-down stop. Jill has actually written up her experience here, so you can see what it was like from her perspective.
What an amazing adventure it was. It was SO much fun to share this experience with a friend, and I can't WAIT for my next jump!