Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Z" is for zebra

I chose zebra as my last A to Z challenge word, not because it's an easy word but because zebras have always been my favorite lucky animal. The only thing about liking zebras is that birthday and holiday gifts always have a zebra theme. I have been the lucky recipient of zebra stationery, zebra socks and sweaters, zebra mugs and dishes, picture frames, pillows and pillow cases, towels and more. I have loved every gift I have received no matter how bizarre or outlandish it was because it came from someone who really thought about me and cared enough to give me something that was personal.

Anyway, "Z" is for zebra.

My Angel Doll Heidi

This is one of my angel doll designs. Last week I introduced Naomi as my first angel doll challenge creation. Like Naomi, I 'borrowed' the inspiration for this doll's face from one of the

Victoria's Secret Angel models, Heidi Klum. I loved the soft pastel colors in her hair, complexion and her blue eyes. I also used a sheer chiffon with ombre pastels for her gown.

She has real marabou feather wings and a gold ribbon headband for her halo.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Y" is for yellow

This morning I got a chance to watch part of the royal wedding. I'm always amused by the pomp and circumstance of this kind of event. Everyone tries to put on their best image of elegance for the occasion. Some do well to achieve this and some...not so much. Of course the queen is always perfectly put together and perfectly elegant. For some reason I expected to see her in some shade of blue or a soft lavender which would have been her style, elegant but conservative. I was very pleasantly surprised to see her in a lovely shade of yellow.

It made me smile to see this always stern and stoic, proper lady in such a happy sunny color.

"Y" is for yellow.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"X" is for Xerox

"X" is for Xerox. Sorry, I'm down to the last second of the day again. Life happens when your making plans for other things. The word that came to mind for "X" was xerox. Just a little history about our technology driven society. Xerox is one of the oldest document management companies in the world. The company was founded in 1906, over 100 years ago. They manufactured the first xerographic image machine in 1938.

Today I take for granted digital copiers, scanners, cell phones, laptop computers, i-pads, digital cameras, etc. On one of my first office jobs, all of our company forms were done on three and four part carbon forms. Xerox machines were too expensive for small companies to own. Before that in the business classes I took we used carbon paper between two sheets of typing paper. We used the great grandfather of today's keyboards, the manual typewriter. Heaven forbid if you made a mistake. There was no spell check or even liquid paper. You had to get out the typing eraser and try to erase the mistake out so that it wasn't visible without putting a hole in the paper, type over it and then repeat the task on all of the carbon copies you were trying to type.

Technology in office equipment has grown and developed over the years and has made office work, school and business management easier and more efficient. I really appreciate that part of the world that we live in.

"X" is for Xerox.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"W" is for wedding

"W" is for wedding. Best wishes and to Kate and Prince William on their marriage. I pray that their lives are happy and safe. I'm sure that Diana is looking down on them and feeling very proud of her oldest son.

"W" is for wedding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"V" is for veg-out, vanilla ice cream and The Voice

This evening I decided it was time to slow down and give myself some time away from commitments and other obligations. Sometimes being a couch potato is just what you need, especially when you're trying to get a lot done and you don't feel well. So, tonight I decided to 'veg-out' and get lost in television. I have to admit that some of the reality shows are a great escape.

What goes best with T.V. when your in veg-out mode? A dish of vanilla ice cream. Don't worry, I do watch my calories and get plenty of exercise every week but for a few hours this evening I put that aside too.

My television program of choice was the premiere of 'The Voice'. It wasn't a bad program, a little different than the popularity contest that 'American Idol' has become but we'll see as the weeks go along.

Anyway, "V" is for veg-out, vanilla ice cream and The Voice.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"U" is for unusual

U is for unusual as in this has been an unusual day for me and I almost didn't get a post in. It's not very clever but I'll have time to do better tomorrow. "U" is for an unusual day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Angel Naomi

This is Sunday, so we have a day off from the A to Z challenge. Just one more week left, six more letters. I have met so many great people and discovered some interesting blogs that have become part of my routine to check on.

But since this is a day off from the A to Z challenge I will use it to post one of my finished dolls. She was actually finished a couple of months ago for a cloth doll challenge. Her name is Naomi and she was one of my entries to create an angel doll. I finished her so quickly that I had more than enough time to finish a second angel that I will also post later.

Naomi is my first angel doll. When I was looking for ideas and inspiration for this project on the Internet I googled angels and in the search the Victoria Secret Angels came up too.

I hadn't planned to do an angel doll in lingerie but I was inspired by the faces 0f two of the models. This doll was inspired by Naomi Campbell. The story that I wrote on this doll's personality card was that she used to be a famous model who had a bad temper and needed anger management because she had a bad habit of throwing things at people when she got mad. Now she's an angel and she protects housekeepers and personal assistants.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"T" is for time

"T" is for time. Tomorrow is a an opportunity for families to spend some quality time together. I know for myself, I usually have to get up, get out and get to work on Sundays but we will be closed for a change so I can slow down and even have breakfast with my grand kids.

Enjoy the time tomorrow how ever you and yours celebrate this spring day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"S" is for Soup

"S" is for soup. I'm getting ready to do a food blog for my company so, I've testing some of my recipes. Both of my parents cooked, my father cooked for a restaurant many years ago in Baltimore, Maryland and my mother was a nutritionist for the school lunch program in San Jose, California. Food has always been an art for my family. My mother taught both of my sons to cook when they were very young and today, they are both very skilled and do very well in the kitchen.

Our store is enormous and amidst the paintings, sculptures, photography, custom jewelry, interior design and home improvement vendors we have also added a certified organic produce department. It has been doing very well since we added it the first weekend in February. I've learned a more about organic food in the last few months than I have in a lifetime. Something that comes up with our customers all of the time is how to prepare some of the items we carry. I find myself going back to the recipes my parents used and new recipes that I've tried and incorporated into my own cooking schedule. I am so surprised how quickly we sell out of basil, garlic and tomatoes when I talk customers through how simple it is to make bruchetta.

One of the first recipes I will be putting on the food blog is my recipe for Broccoli Cheddar soup. This dish is creamy, rich and satisfying, great for vegetarian diets and inexpensive, easy and quick to make. I will debut it here with you. It's absolutely delicious and rivals any restaurant's version. If you have a chance to try it I would love to hear your comments.

4-1/2 cups of fresh, washed, raw broccoli crowns well chopped (please don't use frozen)

1-1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup of finely chopped onion

1 single clove of garlic chopped fine

1 T. of olive oil

3 cups of light cream (half and half)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. of nutmeg

1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper

1 T all purpose flour

1 cup of mild cheddar cheese

1 to 2 tsp. of sugar

Heat broth in a 2 quart sauce pot, add chopped broccoli and simmer until the chopped stems are tender. Do not drain. Set broccoli, broth mixture aside.

In a 4 quart pot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute onions and garlic until transparent, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir. Add 1 tablespoon of flour, stir together and let flour, garlic and onions cook together for about 0ne minute on low heat.

Add 3 cups of half and half and simmer on low until mixture begins to thicken. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (more or less to taste), 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, sugar, and black pepper. Stir well and add 1 cup of mild cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is blended and melted. Add the broccoli and broth mixture and stir well. More salt and pepper to taste if you need to adjust a bit.

Garnish with a basil leaf and a cherry or grape tomato. Serves four to six people.

I hope you like this soup as much as my family and I do.

"S" is for soup.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"R" is for river

"R" is for river. I am homesick everyday for the Bay Area in Northern California where I am from. But one of the things I have learned to love about Sacramento is how easily it is to just step into nature.

Even though the Sacramento area to me seems enormous, you are literally only minutes away from a river access or a nature preserve from any place in the city and county.

I have been here for almost three years and I am still discovering new places that amaze me.

When I was living in the Bay Area I could drive to the beach or the bay in a little over a half hour and I think I miss that the most. But the river has become a great substitute and I can walk their anytime I want in just a few minutes.

We have two major rivers here, The American River and The Sacramento River. Where ever you are, you are either close to one of the main rivers or one of the thousands of creeks, streams and canals.

I visited The Sacramento Bar River Access this week. These are some of my favorite photos of the day.

The river was deep and icy cold because of the snow melt that is flowing down from the mountains.

Very simply today, "R" is for river.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Q" is for Quidam

Well it's "Q" day on the A to Z challenge. Wasn't looking forward to it. I thought of some of the "Q" words that I could use, 'question', 'quotient', 'quota', 'quill', 'quality' but nothing moved me.

Then, I saw this article about Cirque du Soleil and one of their latest shows "Quidam". I got a chance to see this show when it was first released in the 90's. It was my first time seeing a Cirque du Soleil performance.

It turned me into a five year old child again, I was so in awe. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, I felt like I had been transported to another world.
The stunts and the acrobatics seemed impossible.

The article was about the remake and return of this performance for a new audience.

"Quidam" was the word that I wanted to use. I even love the way it sounds. I looked up the translation and definition and it means: A nameless passer-by, a solitary figure lingering on a street corner, a person rushing past, one who cries out, sings and dreams within us all. I love the last part "one who cries out, sings and dreams within us all"

"Q" is for Cirque du Soleil's Quidam

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"P" is for Pause, Peaceful and Pink

This is my TGIT "Thank God It's Tuesday" day. I work Friday through Monday so Tuesday begins my weekend. This is also "P" day for the A to Z challenge and the words I've chosen are pause, peace and pink.

I was so in need of a vacation today but because of gas prices and the economy is still an issue for me, a long drive or an island get-away was not in the budget. I decided to take a mini vacation here at home. Today was the day I was going to take the time to pause at the places I drive by and never take the time to stop.

I started the morning by treating myself to breakfast at a place I've never been before. It's always great to eat out when you're on vacation. I went to a place called Boulevard Coffee in Carmichael California. It had great Arts and Craft, Frank Lloyd Wright style details in the decor, a perfect cup of coffee and zucchini bread with lots of zucchini, carrots, raisins, cranberries, walnuts and sunflower seeds. It was heaven!

After breakfast I pointed my car down the road and decided to let my instincts guide me. A few minutes later I saw a sign that I had driven by so many times and wondered what it was. It was the Charles C. Jensen Botanical Garden. I knew that this would have to be the first stop on my mini vacation.

I drove through the gate and immediately felt like I was in another world. It was soft and meditative like a Japanese garden, spiritual like the forest in the movie Avatar, mysterious and magical like Alice's garden in wonderland. I couldn't wait to park my car and get out. How could I live in Sacramento for almost 3 years and never heard of this beautiful place. Taking the time to pause and 'take a road less travelled' was so worth it.

An immediate sense of peace came over me. The trees and the flowers and the birds reached all of my senses at once. I had forgotten how much I really love being outdoors.

There were so many paths and walkways to choose from I

was so glad I had my camera so that I could take these beautiful images with me.

There were tulips and azaleas everywhere.

A small creek ran through the gardens. I almost felt like Alice's rabbit was going to hurry past me.

I remember visiting Tinkerbell's Fairy Hollow at Disneyland with my granddaughter a couple of years ago. It looked like a little fairy land existed among the flowers and rocks.

There were so many shades of pink from soft pink to hot pink.

I just wanted to share my mini vacation here with you. I took the time to pause and stop and found a peaceful, beautiful place in a pink fairytale garden.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"O" is for optimistic

"O" is for optimistic. Love this word because it is what gets me through when I'm ready to give up. I'm not a Pollyanna type and I can be harder on myself than anyone else. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of some daunting challenge, I want to just walk away from it and be over it. Then I remind myself why I'm doing it and what end result I'm hoping for. So optimism pushes me a little further so that I can get through that last mile. One of the most optimistic people I ever knew was someone I used to work with. She was always so happy and so positive about everything. In the first few months after she came to work for our company we noticed that every Monday she came to work with a bruise or a new injury. She always laughed and and said she was clumsy and that she had fallen, or tripped, or she had bumped into something.
She would joke about what a klutz she was and then make a statement like "well at least I have another leg to stand on" or "I've gotten really good at using makeup".

As time went along, she came to work twice on crutches and once with a cast on her wrist. We all knew what was happening to this seemingly happy lady who never missed a day of work. A few of us took her to lunch one day and tried to talk to her. We said we knew she was being abused and that we wanted to help. We told her that she didn't have to live that way. She talked about her marriage and family as if she was describing an episode from the Cosby show. Her answer was that it wasn't that bad and that it was her fault for upsetting her husband. She said he was very sensitive and he had been trying to recover from injuries from a serious traffic accident he had a few years before. She did admit that she thought he had become addicted to prescription drugs and when he ran out he was in a lot of pain and lost control sometimes. We were not able to change her mind.

Over the next few months she continued to come to work with suspicious injuries and then we got a call from her daughter. She had been admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. My boss, who also knew what was going on, sent some of us to the hospital to see if she was O.K. The prognosis was not good, she was in surgery and we weren't sure if she was going to make it. While we were in the waiting room we overheard her husband talking to the nurse and he said that his wife was just making a big deal out of nothing again and that they just needed to patch her up and let her go cause she needed to get home to fix his dinner.

She was in the hospital for six weeks. In that time her husband never visited her even once. When she got out, she went home, she packed what she could into a friend's truck and moved herself and her three kids to her parent's home. It took almost dying to make her finally break that dangerous bond with her husband.