Closing Out The Year

This has been a difficult holiday season with losing my Cinny.  I was still mourning my Holly. Yet I know that as long as I give my heart to boxers, that time will always be too short.  Boxers have a shorter life span than many other breeds; nine years is a good lifespan. But I would never ever give up the love that this breed so freely gives.  I will always be a boxer girl.  It has been tough on Bruno and I have been in touch with NW Boxer Rescue to find him a new companion and another sweet love for us.  I love this rescue group! I was sorely tempted when Kim let me know they had some puppies; after several days of waivering I knew that at this time I could not really meet a puppy’s needs.  So I am still waiting for the right fur baby for our home. I leave it in the hands of the rescue group to find the best fit for Bruno, Jimmy, and me.  

Before losing Cinny we kept busy preparing for Christmas. In November I took five days off work.  It was glorious!  I kept so busy and accomplished so much!   Jimmy had a few days off and we concentrated on finishing the last of our shopping. We did a part of our shopping at Portland’s Saturday Market. Every time we head into the city we try to find new places to explore.  It is such an amazing city. 

I also decorated the house, knitted, sewed, and played in the kitchen.

Infinity scarves are really fun, fast, and easy. I have made an additional two since these pictures were taken. With the hubs working swing shifts, my evenings consist of curling up with my sweet boxer babies, turning on my favorite Brit TV shows (a second watching of Foyles War is my current choice), and knitting away. I also pulled out one of those weaving contraptions I found this summer at yard sales. I was hooked, it is totally mindless yet turns out a great looking scarf.  All of these projects are from the bits and bobs of yarn I collected secondhand for pennies. 

You all know how much I love Pinterest. When I saw these chocolate spoons I just had to make some. I wanted a little flavor so used a chocolate orange and combined it with a Hershey bar. I found the spoons at Goodwill and Walmart. 

Got out for near daily walks. Always new places to explore at Minto-Brown Island.

One one of my last days off we headed to the beach. I am so grateful that we did.  Cinny was more active than usual as she ran and played. We never would have expected that within 72 hours a brain tumor would take her from us. Look at that happy face!

I received this in the mail from my sweet daughter after losing my Cinny.

How special is that!!  RIP my sweet Frassy and Munster. 

Here is another sweet gift I received in the mail. Every year for the past 7 or so, a dear friend Louella sends me a home made ornament. I treasure every one.  Louella also includes a goodie for the fur babies to. She has two handsome fur boy’s who like to be included in the giving. 

Aren’t those just too cute!! 

Inadvertently several years ago I started finding a focus word for each year. 2012 was balance as I learned to balance work/health/life. 2013 was adventure as I got married, left one job, moved states and started a new job. 2014 really did not have a word as it has been loss and imbalance again.  In perusing Pinterest I happened upon Susannah Conway and her wonderful workshops.  I immediately signed up for this one

There is a facebook page where participants can share ideas and work together.  I love it!  

Her next workshop is

I am considering this one as well.  I am pretty confident I have my word and will sharing it after the first of the year.  

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year!




Making Body Butter and More Exploration

Several months ago I purchased all the raw products to make body butters. I’ve seen so many recipes on Pinterst and wanted to have a go.  I have experimented with coconut oil, but today was serious business. 

I started with a few recipes I had found on Pinterest but did a lot of tweaking. First batch was simply equal parts coconut oil and coconut butter. I melted them all in the microwave then refrigerated until opaque.

After it was opaque, around 20 minutes, I took it out and whipped it with the electric mixer. Then put it back in the fridge again for 5 minutes to firm up before the final beating. It takes a lot of beating to get to stiff peaks. If it is not making stiff peaks put in back in fridge for another 5 minutes. 

Using approx 6 oz of each coconut oil and cocoa butter yielded 3 containers.  For the pink butter I used 3oz coconut oil, 6oz shea butter, 2 oz cocoa butter, 1-2 oz vitamin E oil.  I melted the coconut oil and cocoa butter in the microwave and then added the Shea butter and mixed. I placed this mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes, removed it, added bit E oil and then whipped and whipped with the electric mixer. It only yielded 2 containers. I added essential oils to both but never really got a good smell. The Shea smells awful and needs masking!  With both the finish products feel a bit greasy, but I’ll let them set and test them both tomorrow.  Next I’ll just use Shea and cocoa butter. The coconut oil seems to hinder the firming up of the butters. We’ll see what it looks like in 24 hours. 

Pulled out all my Christmas goodies today!

So excited to start the process!!  Has always been the tradition to decorate on Thanksgiving week-end and this year will be no exception. It is always such a treat as every year what with yard sales and such my decor grows and allows even more holiday cheer!!  This year I am hosting a company party so want everything just perfect!  

As the hubs and I continue to plan for retirement and view homes we have been doing serious thinking and can’t decide between property in the country or the coast. So far with all the places we have viewed country property is winning. On our foray to look at homes yesterday we happened upon this treasure!

This wonderful cheesemaking operation was just tucked off the highway beside the family dairy farm. Willamette Valley Cheese!!  Sampling was free and you were allowed all the samples you desired.  As there was just too much of a selection, I deferred to their recommendations for my tasting. Every single cheese was exceptional….every one!!!  I walked away with a nice selection. And the prices were beyond reasonable!!  

I love small family businesses! From their website I copied this excerpt:

“It’s sunrise at Volbeda Farms. The creek runs cold and clear in the countryside surrounding Salem, Oregon. Rod Volbeda’s jersey cows are enjoying a breakfast of home-grown, fresh forage. Their milk is the prime ingredient for the award-winning line of Willamette Valley Cheese Company brand Gouda, Havarti, Jack, Cheddar, Brie, Fontina, and other farmstead cheeses. Some are updated with subtle herbs and spices. Others represent classic European recipes Rod learned as an apprentice with Dutch cheese masters in Holland. All are buttery-smooth, mildly fragrant, and all-natural. They are enticing alone; prepared for discerning palettes. Their depth and intensity are heightened by hearty red wines and crisp, refreshing whites. The specialty cheeses of Willamette Valley Cheese Company consistently exceed expectations.

Treating the herd well ensures the finest cheese ingredient: top-quality milk with high-butter fat and extra protein. Time-honored recipes, innovative techniques, and imaginative flavors are balanced by Rod Volbeda’s dedication to artisan cheese making. “Cows and dairy are a family tradition,” says Rod, a second generation craftsman with a degree in food science from Oregon State University. Rod spent more than a decade perfecting cheese recipes and growing his herd of jersey cows. Only after careful consideration of every aspect related to the cheese making process did he believe the timing was right to launch Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Honors and awards for the company’s 100% Jersey milk farmstead cheeses soon followed. Health-conscious consumers seeking fresh, natural products began lining up at specialty stores and growers markets for their cheeses.

The Volbedas know their customers care about where their foods come from. Raw milk produced at Volbeda Farms goes directly from the milking parlor to a thoroughly modern cheese making facility. Pasteurization takes place in an on-site vat with no bumpy truck ride or lengthy trip through pressurized tubes. The Volbedas believe it makes more sense to create and age their cheeses on the same farm where their trademark Jersey milk is produced.

The Volbeda’s philosophical approach to farming includes the practice of environmental sustainability. They fertilize their pastures and crops with nutrient-rich compost. Their cows are not treated with hormones. Their cheese making operation focuses on quality, not quantity. That may be old-fashioned, but the Volbeda’s care about their customers and never rush to market with products that don’t meet their stringent standards for freshness and flavor.

Loyal customers appreciate and savor the flavorfully soft and creamy hand-crafted cheeses created by the Volbedas – part of their dairy family’s heritage since 1962. Rich western soil and verdant fields provide pasture for the happiest cows in the valley. Willamette Valley Cheese Company guarantees you’ll find their products distinctively fresh, smooth and uniquely flavorful.

Pamper your palate. Explore the textures and tastes derived from the fine art of hand-crafted, slow-made, all-Jersey cow milk farmstead cheeses. Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s offerings are from the Volbeda family to you and yours. Natural cheese just doesn’t get any better than this.”

All so very true!!!

While out exploring we headed to Monmouth and Independence.  Salem is surrounded by small towns and we both love visiting them.  Found the sweetest used bookstore in Independence.  Who doesn’t love a good used book store?!

Could spend hours here!!  Shelves and shelves of magic!!!

Closer to home we make our usual forays to Minto-Brown Park for our routine walks.  We have yet to explore all the paths. Minto-Brown Park is 1200 acres with over 20 miles of paved paths and numerous dirt paths. It borders the Willamette River.  It is meticulously maintained by the city and an absolute jewel!!! 

It is one of our favorite places to walk!  I just love it when cities care enough to preserve green areas for public use.  I have been fortunate enough to live in cities that offer these amenities. But have to say Minto Brown Park is the best hands down!!!  The boxers would certainly agree!  Here they are after a walk

Cozy and content!  

And now I must attend to all those boxes of decor…

Making Merry!



Welcome Pumpkin Season

October has arrived, and with it my desire for pumpkin goodies.  I rarely bake anymore but just can’t resist pumpkin bread. I tried two recipes and while both are good they are distinctly different. The first is a traditional moist pumpkiny flavored bread.

 Yummy perfection.  When this was gone I happened upon a recipe that added dates and pecans.  It made a much darker bread with clovey flavor.  Next time I would cut back on the cloves, yet as it aged over a few days the clove mellowed out. This was by far my favorite!

Here is the recipe courtesy of my friend Joyce

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 cup oil
1 cup dates or raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tsps. each: Nutmeg, cloves (ground), allspice, cinnamon

Mix all dry ingredients, mix all liquids. Stir together until smooth.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.  Bake for a good hour at 350 checking occasionally to see when done inside. 

In the kitchen I also made up some of the blackberry harvest into jam.  Blackberry jam is one of my favorites. I always use the recipe inside the MCP pectin box. 

So yummy spread on bagel and cream cheese!  

One big change for me has been going caffeine free.  A few months back my stomach began hurting and I could not figure out why. Tried clearing things out of my diet with no success. Doctor visit and seems I have an ulcer. Testing for H.Pylori and if not that will be scoping my stomach.  So I went cold turkey off caffeine. Amazingly no headaches. And I don’t miss it. I now drink herbal tea and my newest hot drink love is 100% Apple juice with a shot of caramel.  Yum!  Stomach still hurting but better and bearable with meds. But I want it cured not bearable!!!  Thankfully my new Doctor (yes I switched after the first just put me on meds with no follow up).  This one is a D.O.  I just have no luck with MDs and have not used one in years since discovering the care that a DO delivers!  And with this the hubs and I decided to start eating clean and eliminating all processed foods. Of course this was after the pumpkin bread.  I’ll have to find a way to make it with whole wheat flour without sacrificing the taste. 

In other news the hubs updated his bike. This one had everything he had been wishing for on it. 

Love this man!  

This crazy boy, who is sitting on his sister (he did not hurt her and I got him right down), left us some nice gifts on the carpet one day while we were working.  Ivory carpet at that!  On to Pinterest to find a solution (I just love Pinterest).  Found one and it was amazing. Even took out some spots that were in the carpet when we moved in! 

Here is the recipe:  Just mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a container and add a generous squirt of Dawn dishing washing liquid.  Saturate the spot and scrub thoroughly working the solution all the way into the pad.  Blot out all the liquid you can with dry towels, let dry, and vacuum.  Spot will be gone!  Amazing!

Crafting and knitting has rather taken a back seat as work has gone crazy and been putting in 10-12 hour days (may be the reason for an ulcer?!).  But I did take time to make another banner for work.

Candy corn!  Simple yet cute. Did not get a finished photo. Just love making these banners.  Again Pinterest is the inspiration!  

Happy Pumpkin Season!


Playing Round and Round…

Am I the only one who just loves photo phone apps?  I just downloaded three new ones and this is what I have created so far…..



These were created using Auto Painter I II and III.  They allow you to chose one of the great masters and turn your photo into a picture.  Pretty fun.  I used Diptic to position them side by side.  Pretty much in love with this app and the endless possibilities.  Course I still use Pixlromatic, Vintique, and PhotoToaster the most.  Love the ability to manipulate and enhance my pics while engaging my creative energy!  

On other creative note, I have finally began the painting projects that I kept thinking about.  Started with a great piece of fabric and picked paint samples to match, then bought quarts of paint in the palette and let my fun begin.  First project was a hutch that I actually stripped all the paint off years ago.  The worst part was that first brush stoke as I still remember the pain of stripping this piece.  But wow the transformation is amazing!  I love it!!  I put on two coats, did some antiquing, and then finished with a wax coating.  I also used the same color on the base of my table and then did the top in chalkboard paint.  I have wanted to chalkboard my table since seeing it on Pinterest.  I love the results!!  Jimmy and I always leave each other notes and now we can just write them directly on the table…gotta love it.  The grands will love this too!  Gotta find some colored chalk in an assortment of colors.  I was sceptical about the clean up and durability but am finding it cleans up nicely and appears durable so far.  

How much fun is that!  

So the next project is this chair I bought at a yard sale for only $5.  I got the initial three coats of this green on and it is now ready for the sanding, antiquing, and final wax coating.  As I was painting it occurred to me how we are returning to the colors of the 70s.  Although these are a bit more muted they are still the 70s palette of green, orange, and yellow.  Ouch!  Swore I would never use those colors…..add the 80s brown and there you go.  But I swear I will never use the 80s pinks, mauves, and blues….shudder!!  

What's that?  A Golden Retriever and not a Boxer?  Charlie, my daughter's dog, has become a part of the family and she wanted her picture taken too. 

In keeping with the playtime theme also got in a beautiful ride to Tollgate.  Love just sitting on the back of the bike and letting my hubby do the driving (still love saying that…my hubby).  The weather was just the perfect!

Hubby said get on the bike….yup just for a pic.  No plans on taking over the drivers seat,happy being the passenger.  Notice the use of my photo apps….a bit obsessive….

It has been a fun week of playtime which is what lazy summer days should consist of…lots and lots of playtime.  Now where did I put that paintbrush….