Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Are the Neighbors Up To?????

Every-so-often intrigue and mystery slink into a neighborhood.  It's like a train wreck, you don't want to look but you can't help yourself.  It's an ugly, voyeuristic tendency us humans have.   It happened in our neighborhood this week.  And not just the neighborhood in general but our next door neighbors. Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!

The workman and their trucks were quiet, indeed, showing up just before light-of-day.  But there were tell-tale signs workmen were there,  like the sound of trucks being unloaded of their equipment, coughing, cigarette smoke lingering in the air -- all the mostly regular stuff a workman does.  I am delighted to tell you there was no b*** cleavage that I could see! *huge sigh of relieve*

As the morning wore on, the workman brought pieces of the home outside - most I could not recognize as they were in such a state of chaos.  Then there was hammering, lots of hard hammering.  I swear part of what I saw them bring out was their fireplace.  Our fireplaces are a really nice focal feature of the living room and they are set in one corner of the living room. Are they removing their fireplace?  I didn't know you could remove a fireplace!

I wanted so badly to open my sliding door and shout "Hey! What are you doing over there?"  But I couldn't.  It's disrespectful and it's also none of my business.  Seeing as I don't even know these neighbors. They really keep to themselves, really.  We've tried to say hello and they won't even respond....well, sometimes we get a grunt.  So it's really tough finding a way of approaching them and then asking what they are doing inside their home.

The first day was quite dramatic.  About 3:30pm came the sheet rock -- six pieces because I counted them.  Six pieces of sheet rock for a little living room??  Did they remodel?  Was there a terrible fight one night and someone was pushed through the wall?  What?  What!?  My curiosity was getting the best of me.  But to no avail.  I decided to close my sliding glass door and the levelors and just forget it.  What was done, was done.

The next day new looking trucks arrived and I saw more knee pads, and what I believe was a professional painter.  How much was this job costing, after all?  We just had a quote on our meek little 1,300 sq. foot condo and they wanted $3,000 to paint it.  So what in God's Name were they forking out over there?  This sort of thing just drives me nuts until I get some closure.

Yesterday, we were driving up and another neighbor, who is very sweet, was walking by so we stopped her and I said "Say, so-and-so just had a remodel or something done to their you know anything about it?"  She, being just as inquisitive as I, said "NO!  I didn't know....but I'm going to find out.  And I will let you know as soon as I get some information about this.  They never mentioned a thing to me."

I'll keep you posted.

And, don't forget...Pay It Forward.

Monday, April 5, 2010

He Says it So Well

This song is one of my favorites.  Randy and I got the chance to see James Taylor a number of years ago.  He performed this song.  This is an identical version.    Incredible.  And he says it so well.

Tell me, what's wrong with talking about clean water?

Don't forget to Pay it Forward.

Creating Whole Wheat Bread, One Loaf at a Time

According to Wikipedia, whole wheat flour is summed in these few simple words:  Whole wheat flour is a powdery substance derived by grinding or mashing the wheat's whole grain. It is used in baking.

Pretty straight-forward, and very very sanitized!  Whole wheat bread baking is an art.  It is a slow and romantic experience.  I love to bake bread and mine is about as wholesome as it gets.  It's not just a powdery substance derived by grinding or mashing the wheat's whole grain.

I start out with the whole grain -- organically grown, hard winter wheat.  I put it through my grinder.  It's a trusty electric model. But I do have a hand grinder when I feel the urge to get really earthy. It's terribly hard work so I don't get urges that often.

Next come the wheat berries that I sprouted myself, the poppy seeds (no UA's for you today!), sesame seeds, and flax seed.  Add some delicious local honey, water, yeast and a tad of salt and oil.  That's it.

Now begins the dance.  The bread dough and you become one.  This is the time that is so precious.  Getting into a rhythm with the kneading, you can let yourself go and begin a meditation of sorts.  Pray, ponder, dream, actually feel the dough change under your hands.  Awesome.  But where is that "powdery substance derived by grinding....."   It is gone forever.  What I have created is a deliciously perfect dough ready for rising.

Once the rise is done, I pop the loaf into the oven. Yes,  I make one loaf at a time because it just tastes better.  Out it comes 40 minutes later.  It's a labor of love and a work of art.  Grab the butter and a knife and enjoy.

So when some scientist tells us that whole wheat flour is just a "powdery substance derived by grinding...yada yada"  remember my bread.  Baked One Loaf at a Time.

Remember to Pay it Forward,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Me Invited to a Pittock Mansion "Doo"??? Really???

Sometimes fun and exciting do happen to me!  Life generally is quiet and reserved -- which is the way I really do prefer it.  But to have a bit of happy stuff come up once in a while keeps life interesting.

I got a call earlier this week from the buyer of the Museum Store at the Pittock Mansion.  Such a wonderful woman.  The Pittock is an incredible historic mansion.  It was home to Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919. During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, their lives and work paralleled the growth of Portland from a small Northwest town site to a thriving city with a quarter million population. (this is what the introduction on the website said.  If you'd like to read more about the home, here's the link:  Pittock Mansion.

 Anyway....this month on the 15th, they are having a fund raiser up at the home and are having eight artists appear with their "stuff".  The supporting members of the home are invited for an evening of drinks, nibbles and buying.  I have been chosen as one of the eight who will be a part of the festivities.  I'm really excited as this type of honor doesn't come around every day.

A wonderful opportunity to meet and greet some of Portland's Mansion lovers, maybe bring home a little money.  But...I hate to mention that I don't have a thing made up yet.  My jewelry bench sits quiet and dark. Not one earring, not a bauble nor necklace.   But my concerns are greater than that -- I don't have a thing to wear!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Friend -- Nancy Today

I have met this wonderful woman who I must share with you.  Yes, share.  Her name is "Nancy Today."  Well she actually has a real last name but I don't think I need to mention just doesn't matter.

Nancy is such a wonderful lady. I've had the pleasure of visiting with by phone a few times.  She is as sweet and charming on the phone as she is on video.

She lives in Canada and has a YouTube channel which she has been faithful to for a couple of years now.  She has over 6,000 videos in her library and every one of them is a jewel.

You want to find out about potatoes?  She has fascinating tips and recipes.

Making a tuna sandwich? -- wait till you see how Nancy does it.

Pine needle basketry, Check!
Fixing food in mass and then freezing it for a rainy day when she doesn't feel like cooking, Check!

She has an entire series on baking bread.
She weaves baskets sitting on the kitchen floor.
She can make a teepee.  You absolutely must see!

OH and her series on soap making is divine!

What is so incredible about Nancy's videos is that you feel like you are right there in the room with her and she talking right to you -- and only to you.  She most times holds the camera under her chin so she can get the right shot (eye's view) and it's quite effective.  You see life through Nancy's eyes and perspective.  Marvelous.

Nancy is as colorful as the multitude of hats she wears.  You'll never see her without one.  Even when she was in the hospital ICU following a heart attack, Nancy was filming and she had a lovely floppy floral hat on her head.   Filming in the ICU!  Nancy, take a break.

I hope you take to Nancy as quickly and as dearly as I have.  I think you'll find she grows on you quickly and you'll want to visit with her daily.  Such a sweetheart, she is.

I've loaded a video she made on shopping frugally. I dearly love her! She brings joy into our lives and she makes lemonade even when life is dealing her lemons. And I thank her for that!

Until later -- Peace and be sure to Pay it Forward, Jill

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's Eat Chocolate! And Caramel....Oh, So Sue Me!

I am not a saint -- I never said I was.  I just like wonderfully sweet, rich delicious deserts.  Here's one that sounds WOW on paper.  Let me just say, this recipe is not for the faint of heart!  Besides, it's got chocolate in it so I must be calm and less stressed, huh???  (oh brother!)


 3/4 cup unsalted butter
 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
 4 eggs
 2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 1 (12 ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chunks
1 (14 ounce) bag soft caramels
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9x2 pan with nonstick foil. In a large bowl, melt butter and chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Whisk in eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla. Spread half of the batter into pan. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chunks over batter.

Melt caramels and cream over medium-low heat until smooth (about 5 minutes). Pour evenly over batter and chocolate chunks. Spread remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chocolate chunks.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until top is dry.

**Personally, I'd split the recipe in half...this looks pretty rich.  Let me know if you try it....I'd like a review.

Oh Boy -- Chocolate IS Really Good for You!

I saw this wonderful article on the internet and thought I would share it with you.  After all it's about chocolate!  And now they are saying it's good for you.  There's that "they" many of "they's" out there, isn't there??? 

Anyway, now they believe chocolate can help with tension.  I don't know about you but sometimes I'm so stressed and tense I could break a pencil between my teeth....sounds like time for chocolate!!

Not only is chocolate good for you in your tense times (in moderation, yeh, yeh, whatever!), there are a number of of other tasty items that also help with tension.

Dark Chocolate:    High in flavonoids, which are great for relaxing the system.   Chocolate also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances your mood.   I think that's why we get chocolate on Valentine's Day -- hmmm???  The darker the chocolate, the more healthy substances you're getting in your diet, so look for bars that are 70%  cacao or higher.  Personal note:  Don't go higher than 70% as it's almost like eating baking chocolate (pa-tooey!)
Oatmeal:    A warming little bowl of oatmeal in the morning.  What could be more comforting.  But did you know in that little bowl of carbs, you get serotonin, an agent which is a calming hormone that helps fight anxiety.  Of course, oatmeal is high in fiber, which means that your body will absorb it slowly.  I always knew I loved the Quaker guy -- now I know why!

Walnuts:  (Really????)    They've been shown to help lower blood pressure, which is very important for us who work overtime and get all stressed out.  The US Food and Drug Admin. actually recommends 1 1/2 ozs a day.  Wow!
So where's my Snicker Bar, my cup of Chamomile tea and my steaming bowl of oatmeal???

Don't forget:  Pay it Forward,  Jill

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh Puleeeze!!!

I told you up front when I started this blog that I might get a tad political.  Now before you read this please understand I am not a vegetarian.  I just feel this was such an interesting article and point of view.
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Eating less meat will not reduce global warming, and claims that it will distract from efforts to find real solutions to climate change, a leading air quality expert said Monday.
"We certainly can reduce our greenhouse gas production, but not by consuming less meat and milk," Frank Mitloehner, an air quality expert at the University of California-Davis, said as he presented a report on meat-eating and climate change at a conference of the American Chemical Society in California.
Blaming cows and pigs for climate change is scientifically inaccurate, said Mitloehner, dismissing several reports, including one issued in 2006 by the United Nations, which he said overstate the role that livestock play in global warming.
The UN report "Livestock's Long Shadow," which said livestock cause more greenhouse gases than all global transportation combined, distracts from the real issues involved in looking for a solution to global warming, said Mitloehner.
The notion that eating less meat will help to combat climate change has spawned campaigns for "meatless Mondays" and a European campaign launched late last year called "Less Meat = Less Heat," backed by former Beatle Paul McCartney, one of the world's best-known vegetarians.
"McCartney and others seem to be well-intentioned but not well-schooled in the complex relationships among human activities, animal digestion, food production and atmospheric chemistry," said Mitloehner.
"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal less heat," Mitloehner said. "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries," he said.
Rather than focusing on producing and eating less meat, Mitloehner said developed countries "should focus on cutting our use of oil and coal for electricity, heating and vehicle fuels."
In the United States, transportation creates an estimated 26 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, whereas raising cattle and pigs for food accounts for about three percent, he said.
The UN report, issued in 2006, said global livestock rearing was responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalents. The UN report said that was more than the greenhouse gases produced worldwide by transport.
Mitloehner said the UN report did not compare like with like when it analyzed the role of livestock versus fossil fuel emissions in spurring global warming.
I hate to say it but if I didn't know any better, I'd say Mr. Mitloehner could, maybe, sort of might be on the payroll of the Beef Counsel.  How can anyone with this type of education say such stupid things?  Anyone who has taken a bit of interest in greenhouse gases and their causes know that beef production and pork production, etc., play a major roll in burning that hole bigger and deeper.

And don't get me wrong -- I am not a vegetarian.  I do try to limit my meat (any sort of meat) to two times a week.  I love the idea of "Meatless Mondays".  How easy is that?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In the Middle of the Night

I have recently started having bouts of insomnia.  It's something actually that can be quite enjoyable.  Quiet time.  Alone time.  Time to craft.  Time to think.

While I'm in this place of solitude with my husband just a closed door away, I have the freedom to be quiet and hear that inner voice that so many times is lost in the rumble of daily life.  Machines, appliances, other people talking, music -- you know the drill.  The sounds of life.  Most times I say "Acck!"  It's just too much for me.  That's one reason why Randy and I killed the television.  Too much noise.  I prefer quiet than sound most of the time. 

So in my quiet time when most of the city is asleep, I get to think of all kinds of wonderful things.  Sometimes not so wonderful but I try to push those out of my mind.   I think about redecorating, I think about the next best loaf of bread I'll bake, I think about the next best basket I'll weave or the most bestest piece of jewelry ever.  But I also think about serious stuff too.  Faith.

Faith in whom?  The everlasting question.  Yes, I believe there is a God.  Yes, I believe in Christ as my Savior.  But then what?  I was listening to a Billy Joel song tonight -- "River of Dreams" and in it he sings of "mountains of faith and rivers so deep."  "I've been searching for something in the middle of the night.  I must be lookin' for something  -- Something sacred I lost"

Ahhh..."in the middle of the night."  That's where I come in at 2:00 am.  I believe (this is the Quaker in me) that if I have the ability to quiet my soul and find the stillness within, I can find more out about "and then what?"

I had to listen to the song several times before it all started clicking together like a tumbler on a safe but then the numbers all lined up for me.  I hope you enjoy the song -- it's posted below.

I know this is an unfinished blog entry but I'm still "searching for something in the middle of the night."

Don't forget to pay it forward....Jill

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Power of the Blog and its Password Safety

The technology we hold in our hands everyday is totally amazing.  I think we do grow accustom to it and somewhat passe about what it does.  The Internet links people around the planet and can do so in a just few keystrokes.   ONLY if you have your password and secret, secret code.

For the past couple of days I've needed to get into several on-line accounts.  Each one of course has a different login set.  They say to never use the same login twice.  Who are "they" anyway?  As you can imagine, if you do not have this stuff written down you can be looking for a crisis!

And Yes, I was in Crisis 1

On the same day, I get a call from a long, lost friend who has a small request from me.  I say of big deal.  And she's such a sweet person and somewhat dedicated to what I sell.  Well guess what, I cannot get into the old blog she wants me to.  I cannot remember my login information.

I tried every email address they could have on me.  There was no way I was going to get that darn password and email account to come out right.  Then came those crazy colored letters:  DFtiufIU  what the heck????  What does it say and why would you want to repeat it.  Somehow it is suppose to get your email name and password name back to you but it doesn't.  So, Kat, if it doesn't happen, you know why.  

As you can see - I finally remembered the password and login for my old blog because I bring you  Kathy's blog at http://www.bajunajewelry.blogspot.comCrisis 2 Averted

To only have two would-be crisis on one day is a good thing so there is no complaining here.  Actually I do have one complaint.  It appears that someone is hacking into my blog.  So if you see bizarre text, it's not me.  Please let me know but I do check-in daily and I will be contacting Google for legal proceedings to take against hackers.  Until next time.  Jill

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Best Banana Nut Bread

We are talking GOOD bread.  Take those horrible looking bananas that have been sitting on your counter and get to making some delicious bread.  The one thing I like to do is give my bananas a dance in the food processor to make them really smooth and lump free.

Now, here's the recipe!
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1/4 cup veggie oil
3 bananas, food processed
1/2 cup-3/4 cup chopped nuts

Oven at 350 degrees.  Mix all the liquid/wet stuff together.  Mix all the dry stuff together.  Combine well.  Add the nuts at the end.  Bake for ONE HOUR.  Turn out on rack, cool.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

I guess I should mention is that Randy and I killed our TV. Ripped it out by its cable roots and threw it out the window as far as we could. Well, actually, we decided we JUST did not want to have that horrible beast in our home any longer and gave it to a charity.

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is in our home to be TV-less. It is sort of like when friends come to visit and they just won't leave??? Well, that's how it feels with that darn TV blasting away 12 hours a day. Just horrible. But when it finally left, we actually sighed a sigh of relief! Now we talk...OMG...Talk??? Yep. We play Scrabble together, we put jig saw puzzles together which is really fun. we cook dinner together, which often used to be a "Jill Job" while Randy watched Cash Cab. We are very happy about our move towards more simplicity.

Except when the Academy Awards come around. I don't really miss or like much on TV...I could take the content or leave it be. But there is something about watching all those stars arriving for Oscar night that just sends me! All those dresses. Some of the outfits were absolutely beautiful and the ladies looked like a million bucks. Then there is the category: "What were they thinking?" Some of these dresses looked like the designer had taken colored toilet paper and just started wrapping. You may or may not know this but many years ago the big thing at the Oscars was lots and lots of cleavage. It was quite something to see, I must say. Even these poor young girls who had nothing to show had their dresses cut down to their wastes....YIKES!!

Here's a quick wrap-up of some of the Oscar dresses....the Good, Bad and Ugly:

While I realize I'm missing really good Public Broadcasting programs and Bones....I think I can give them up for other stuff that might come pouring from the roots of my old television! --Jill