Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Such cute paper pumpkins to make (for all you parents/grandparents) at Hostess! I think I might make a few to hang about for tonight. Of course, the grands are coming to trick or treat at Grandma Julies house! I am excited! Afterward we are going to a friends house to eat and drink some wine, and hang out. Should be a really fun day! I wish the same for all of you in blogland! Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drying catnip and other fun activities!

Hi everyone!
Today I finally got the pipe fixed in my backyard sprinkler system! The first guy never showed up on Tuesday. The second guy was here tis morning, and had er done in about 20 minutes! He will be back to change out my timer and some other gadgets around the pump area. I am still digging out sprinklers that had become buried under the lawn, and changing out some for all the ones I can. It will be such a relief to have it all working properly again!

Just before the sprinkler guy came, I had trimmed my new catnip herb that my friend had given me for my birthday...and I had a thought that I would like to make some homemade cat toys for her cats with the dried stuff! I looked online for instructions. One site said you can place them in a paperbag in a dark, cool place...I didn't have a bag, so I rolled them in papertowels, labeled them, and will just wait a few months now. I will look for some tough, yet soft...mouse-like fur to sew some toys out of and stuff with fluff and catnip! Should be fun!

I met my son, daughter, Mom and brother for lunch at a wonderful deli here. It was great being with all of them. Then we took my son looking for new shoes...poor guy hurt one foot somehow and is limping around. He feels it is getting better, doesn't look swollen...and wants to wait to see an MD. He was wearing some inexpensive thong type sandals every I wanted to help him find something a bit more supportive, yet stylish for his ultra-cool self! Of course, he found two great pair at the grooviest store in the world, Journeys!

Then I made three pizzas (2 for his house/family), and 1 for my house. I made them a cheese pizza with marinara sauce, and a BBQ chicken pizza with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, chicken and sauteed onions on top! Ours turned out real well (we had the BBQ chicken one also) I hope both of his did too. I delivered them to his house ready to go into the oven.

I had baked the chicken (dry) in the crock pot all day...then just cut it up for the pizzas! Worked out well.

Mom came over to eat with us. We watched a DVD of "Keeping Up Appearances" episodes...while we ate. We loved that series so much on BBC...and we found this tape of 5 shows at the library.

You know, I found this really great website called Hillbilly Housewife, on my blogger pal, Mary's website, Pokeberry Hill. Suzanne, the creator of Hillbilly Housewife, has all sorts of inexpensive and fun recipes....and lots of other stuff as well. It is worth having a look at if you are into living frugally. I also recieve her newsletter each week, and it is a lot of fun as well.

I did discover another neat site called Old Fashioned Living, and am looking forward ot exploring it tonight. It has a bunch of tabs along the top that let you navigate through easily...there is a craft section... and I am interested in finding some really awesome things to make for Christmas gifts. I am thinking of something embroidered...I miss the days when I used to do more of it, and also another needle art called candlewicking.

Why does life have to move from easy days of solid work and worry...and one more thing to do every waking minute of each day. I am ready to move to a slower pace of living...I'm just not sure how I can pull it off. I seriously don't think I would mind being poorer, and living a more oldfashioned lifestyle.

The question is...can it be done these days???

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What have I done?

Well, on Sunday I decided (well, officially...not abruptly) to end my current job. I have been having a lot of stresses lately and the past several months at work have built up and I have become, as they say in the medical world, "Burned Out". I turned in my two week notice yesterday morning, and they asked me to take a 1 month leave of abscence instead, to give myself time to decompress and re-think. This was such a great jesture on their part. I will continue my benefits during this month, and be relieved immediately from the stress. My good team that I work on, will protect my position for the month, and at the end of the month I can decide if I will return or not. I work for one of the best companys in the universe! I am blessed and oh so fortunate.

So, here I sit at 4am, thinking about what I can accomplish in the next month to relax, better myself, think, and ponder. I hope to spend some time outside in my yard and get my winter collards and climbing green beans going. The sunshine will be good for me. I will revitalize my sprinkler system. I discovered a broken pipe in the back yard on Saturday that feeds water to one whole side of my yard. The sprinkler man is coming today between 10 and 11 am. The bug man needs to come too. My husbands car goes in the shop today and I will take and pick him up from work! I hope I can meet my Mom and daugher for lunch. Even with no work, I will be busy.

Sorry I missed Cactus Monday...send me some positive thoughts, and I'm sure all will be well.

xoxo- Julie

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A pumpkin from one of the loves of my life!

My heart nearly cracked in half yesterday when my grandson arrived at my door with a large pumpkin he had painted at a festival and said it was for ME! I love this boy so much...what a little sugar! The pumpkin was still wet and glossy looking, and the whole thing just shone with love!

The little artist, Donovan... with his creation!

Ain't it the purdiest punkin you ever laid eyes on??? Best fall season I ever had, so far, for sure!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yard Sweep!

I had such a week from H-E DOUBLE HOCKEYSTICKS, that by the time I got home, I grabbed a beer and decided to go outside and take pictures of anything blooming in my yard. Anything you see with a bloom on it, is LITERALLY the only things blooming in my hot, sandy soiled, dry yard. It's rather dismal. I found some interesting plant patterns as I walked around, and decided to include these, and other things that caught my eye! I hope you will see something interesting, and if any artists out there see anything inspiring, feel free to draw, paint or sculpt, and let me see it!!! My plants love to inspire artists and poets!!!

In no order whatsoever:
Here is my twisty cactus sent to me from Claude...I am twirling it in the sun (it gets eastery sun every morning, so I turn it a quarter turn every 2 weeks or so, and it is starting to twirl...such fun! Sorry Claude!!! (I think it is so cute)!

Here is the top of one of my Mexican Sunflower bushes! This one bush just started blooming away a few days ago...none of the other ones are, but this one just felt like it, I suppose! LOL!

And a close up of a few flowers on that bush! These things are about 14 ft. high and are due for a trimming, but I just hate doing it cause there goes the blooms!

I caught Mr. Bunny hiding out between the Kalenchoes and the Thai Pepper plant! My cat, Baby loves to come out an lay in this area with Mr. Bunny quite often! They are BFF's.

I found three (only three) hibiscus on all of my 6 bushes! Dismal, I tell ya! Lack of water and fertilizer, Tootsie! My bad.

Can you see at least two thai peppers on my plant??? It is covered...looks like it will have 100 peppers at least!!!

The next three pics are three varieties of Jasmine on my side and front fence. One is variegated, one is Confederate Jasmine, and I forgot what the other one is called.

Here is a close up shot of some of my Oyster Plants for Evelyn. ;)

How about the patterns in the trunks of the Philedendrons??? Pretty beautiful, I think!

The leaves of the Philedendrons are huge...about 3.5 ft long!!! They are beautiful leaves too, don't you think?

Here are a few shots of the Gloriosas! They truely live up to their name! GLORIOUS!

Here is a stalk of the purple/pink colored Ti plants! These grow in the same bed as the purple and green oyster plants and I love the look with my yellow house in the background!

Last, but not least is the star of the drought conditions...the white Periwinkles! They can take the full sun, the heat, and no darn water! These plants are like cast iron! They are my new absolute favorite if you want reliable blooming action year- round with no water. There you have it...the plants, blooms and patterns of my yard right now. Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cactus Monday cactus from one of the best days of my life!

As I write this it is 10:30pm on Sunday night. The day here was exceptional! We had an overnight drop in temperature of about 27 degrees cooler than the previous 24 hour low...we woke up this morning to breezy temp of 55F. The wind chill made it feel even cooler! Dry and about invigorating....

After a few hours, I went over and got my grandson. We headed to the toy dept. at Target and made a few purchases...just for the fun of it! One of them was 3D Chalk!! Aren't these glasses cute...he kinda looks like a whacky scientist!

We came home and began to draw a few things to see if it was really gonna work...and it REALLY DID! I wanted to see if the camera could pick it up, but then I realized with 3D glasses you have to use both eyes and look through both sides of the the camera idea would not work.

It was really cool though...and each color looked like it was either carved down into the ground, or floating above the ground...each at a different level. We had a great time with it...and just as we were finishing up, I said you know how to draw a cactus? He said "yes" and drew this simple line drawing...he did dot around inside also...but you can't see that...I thought it was so cute...I knew at that moment I had my Cactus Monday post!

Having my grandson for the day, and the perfect cool, dry, sunny and beautiful blue sky with crisp white clouds all day as almost too much to was devine!

Everyone enjoy your Cactus MOnday!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sourdough twist!

I woke up early again in a coughing fit (with this darn cold), made a cup of hot tea, took a steaming shower to help the breathing a little.....and then....I came out on the couch with Doozey and started reading a Sept. issue of Martha Stewarts magazine, Living. I almost quit turning pages at the end, but for some reason just turned those last 2-3 pages, and lo and behold, on the VERY LAST PAGE, was something that caught my eye!!!

A recipe and lovely picture of an Apple-Honey Challah bread! It looked so delicious, I knew I must get up and make it! I decided to twist it up a little by using a cup of my sourdough starter in it. I added the other ingredients, and then just added flour as I needed to get the perfect ball of dough. You add sliced apples into the dough for the second rise, and if I had been a little smarter at that time of day, I would have thought to add some cinnamon into the mixture!

The third rise was done after shaping it into a rope 2 ft. long, and then twirling it into a 9 inch baking pan. I was a little worried because the first two risings did not show much rising activity...but then the last one, and during did real well!!! It looked very pretty when it came out of the oven. I was supposed to add more honey butter to the top when it came out, but I didn't because I used all my honey up! Oh just didn't end up with that lovely sheen like a challah normally has.

Here it is:

Can you see all the chunks of apple popping out? Beautiful!!!
You can see the pic of Marthas loaf, and the recipe HERE, at her magazine. This bread was delicious...a big improvement over my first sourdough breads...I think it was the honey and the eggs additions that made it so good. I did add cinnamon sprinkled on top after buttering the slice, and it was heavenly right out of the oven all warm and yummy!

This was fun...but my bread baking days are over for now. I already feel myself getting a few pounds heavier!!! ;0

Friday, October 16, 2009

Everyone with colds and flu!

Seems me, my family and extended family and friends all have colds and flu, or sickness of some sort! One friend of my DIL, just found out her 8 month old has infuenza A, and is being treated with Tamiflu!!! A whole football team here had to cancel a game due to nearly the whole team out sick. I had a flu shot, but it sure feels like I have the flu. I don't. I have no fever (thank God), and it seems like a head/lung kinda thing with laryngitis, and now cough and runny nose...that sort of thing. My sleeping is definately screwed up...getting up in the night since I go to sleep so much during the day. I had to take today off drinking lots of hot tea!

Thanks for all your words of encouragement...this too, shall pass.

Good news...cooler weather is on the way! I can get my little garden planted. It is supposed to drop about 7 degrees here, and it might even drop into the 70's at night!!! (This is not a cool kinda place). LOL!

Talk to you again when something interesting happens.....OK????? :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What fish is in a "Dolphin Rueben" sandwich?

What fish is in a "Dolphin Rueben"? I looked it up, because I knew it wasn't a dolphin like Flipper! According to Wikipedia, it is actually Maui-Maui fish, whose common name is dolphin-fish. Here's what it said...just to set our minds at ease:
Although its common name is dolphin-fish, the mahi-mahi is a fish not a dolphin, and is not at all related to the Delphinidae family of mammals whose common name is simply dolphin. An alternative name for mahi-mahi is simply dolphin, or common dolphin. The English language adopted the Hawaiian word, mahi-mahi without formalizing its spelling
I never knew which fish it actually was, so it's great to know now! Yeah...(it sure tastes great)! :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great smells and hot bread!

Well ,my late night bread baking adventure was so fun, while it lasted! My house smelled devine! The bread came out of the oven about 6:45, right when the coffee was brewing! I called my Mom (she is an early riser), and she walked over with her coffee for a peice of the action!!!

I wonder what the trick is to slashing the top of the dough before was really hard to do for me...I feel like I need something like a lazer to make a clean cut!!! Mine looked more like big craters in the top!

We cut it while warm, and slathered on the butter and had it with our coffee.

Critique of the bread: It was lacking in flavor, and had a crunchy crust at first, although not overly. It was nice right out of the oven. Now, tonight I cut a slice, and the crunch is gone, and the bread is not something I would even buy from the grocery! I will say that my sourdough starter is becoming more maybe a different recipe next time with the more powerful starter will produce a better loaf! I still need to try it toasted...that might be really great...will see in the morning!

On a down note...I have become sick...sore throat, and all clogged up...I slept about 5 hours after work, and have almost no voice now. I'm taking the day off from work tomorrow to hopefully preserve what little voice I have and get to work on Friday if I can.

So that ends this session of breadmaking at A Succulent Life!!! Bye bye for now! :)

Making bread early!

Doozey woke me up at 3:30am beacuase the cat was crying to come in. Darn cat. This is how it goes for me every's about to make me sick from lack of sleep!

Anyway...I sort of became invigorated at that time, and I decided to "feed" the sourdough starter...which means adding more flour and water to the mix, so it can get to plooping again real good. I already had 2 cups of it in the pitcher, so I decided to use one cup and make bread...even though it has only been 4 days! I couldn't stand the thought of throwing it away as some recommend...or giving away...but so far not many people want to make bread...

I found a recipe in my old (and favorite) cookbook...(so I would not have to sign on and find a recipe before I could start).

I found out it sure makes kneading dough easy if you just lay down a few sheets of wax paper and do it on does move around a little, but the flour doesn't stick quite as bad and you KNOW you are kneading on top of a clean surface...which I always worry about. I like to keep things VERY clean in the kitchen. Counter tops are not always quite clean enough...even after scrubbing, for me. Or am I just anal???

The dough was smooth and elastic and is doing it's first rise right now...I have about 20 minutes left and I will snap a pic, then one after the loaves rise, and one of the finished loaves. What a way to spend your whole NIGHT...yikes...and I have a mandatory class, and my team meeting today...I hope I can stay awake!!! Coffee...will start brewing in only another 2 hours...around 6:30am...wish me luck! I probably won't have time to post the pics until I get home this be on the lookout!!! I'm excited. Well...I really cannot wait to taste it, all warm, and slathered with butter!!! Sorry...I must have that butter....I just have to!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Best day EVER!

I picked my grandson up early in the morning...we hung out all day together! We did art together, and he was enthralled with all of my different scissors that have decorative cuts! I got out my construction paper, and stickers, glue stick...and he was having a blast for at least an hour straight (and even went back for more later in the day)! A side of him I had not seen yet! I think he has a large bit of artist in him!

After he finished his first creation, I made a little magnet for his Mommy to put on their refrigerator...ain't he a doll???

After that he, and his Mom and little Em Em's and my hubby and I went out to lunch! I had a delicious dolphin rueben...yum! The kids were delightful, and well behaved and just plain sweet!
Around 4pm, his Mommy, he and I went to see a double feature of 3-D Toy Story I and II. He really loved the first movie, but couldn't quite bring himself to sit through the second one, so we went outside and enjoyed a beautiful area across the street next to a lake, for a while in the evening breeze!

I worked on the beginnings of this paper flower for an ATC. It is held together with a pink rhinestone brad, and I think I will sort of touch the edges of the petals with a darker shade to see what happens! I cut the petals out of one of the decorative scissors...just playing around.

BTW...I "fed" my sourdough starter today and it is bubbling away real well. I am waiting to smell the real strong odor and I will be ready to bake! Can hardly wait!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sourdough bread challenge!

Anyone want to join me in making some fall sourdough breads?

I have never made any sourdough starter, and because of a blogger pal, Suzanne, at Just Another Hangup who just posted about her starter, and me getting excited over it...

I have gone out on the web to investigate...and found THIS RECIPE FOR IT! I have already invited Soulbrush to join me (and I hope she can, or will want to), and would like to ask everyone who reads my blog if you would like to try it too! Suzanne plans on showing photos of her breads over the next few weeks, and we could too! I sure hope mine turns out well! It seems a little scary, but an adventure none-the-less!

(Ingredients for starter...just warm water, flour, yeast, and sugar)

(All mixed up...doesn't look like much yet...but it should start bubbling well in a few days)...
I also found this recipe for Amish Sourdough Bread which sounds really GOOOOODDD! It uses just over 1 cup of starter, and then it gives you daily instructions of what to do on each day, all the way through day 10, when you actually get to bake a wonderful sounding bread...(check it out)!!!

Best wishes to everyone around the world on Saturday evening from south Florida!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New tags for backings of ATC's

Been working on some handmade tags to place on the back of ATC's tonight!!! I can't believe i have become inspired to do this! Maybe I can get some new ATC's sent out to some of you that I may not have reciprocated to (and I am living with guilt too)!!! LOL...seriously though...I do feel bad. I have just not been the same since getting home from Germany back a few months ago. Maybe cooler weather will help me...but you know with the seasonal decor, I can feel my spirits lifting, and the need to make ATC's is returning!!!
The one shown here was made last year, and it was so fun...I made the medallion with folded magazine pages, and I think it turned out so cutely...I have kept it on my bulletinboard all year long!
I am discouraged that seemingly NO companies have scome out with some adorable peel and stick labels for the back of ATC's. The market is there for such a why doesn't someone do it??? If I knew how, I would...we need mass production though...for all of the ATC'ers of the world!
The ones I made tonight are adorable...cut with frilly edge scissors...smaller than the solid color I put they are all edged out. Of course, mine are much better than anything storebought...but it sure would be convenient...
I'm just sayin...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have I gone mad???

This is what happens in the still of the night, after everyone else is fast asleep, and I am sitting up eating humongous blackberries, that I note are grown in Guatamala, packaged in California and shipped to Florida! That is strange, and so is this doodle!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A vine-tied fall zen pumpkin just for you!

This is what happens when I wake up at 5am and start listening to hillbilly/bluegrass music on satellite TV. Happy Saturday! On my way shortly to our cities giant garage sale with Mom. If I find anything there I will show you later!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shadow surprise!

Here's what you get when you combine an early morning rising sun, a hanging basket and extremely dirty windows!!! I discovered this while sitting on the couch this morning, and when the bright sun started to filter through the window, I happened to spot this shadow, and I found it quite interesting! I WILL be picking up some Windex this weekend!!! LOLOL!