Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Giveaway!

My prints are being featured today on A Giveaway A Day. To win your choice of either an 8x10 or an 8x12 print, all you have to do is click on the site and follow the instructions. Easy!

Here are a couple of samples that are available on my Etsy site:

What could be easier than entering a free giveaway? And while you're there, tell Liz that I sent you! Winners should be announced by Monday.

Right now on my Etsy site, and in the Spirit of the Season, a secret sale for readers of this blog and my A Picture A Day blog: All my prints are Buy One, Get One Free. To redeem your free print, e-mail me at after making your initial purchase.

Have a great Sunday.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Love Letter

Congratulations to Rebel, who was the first to tell me the movie in which the lines (see post below) were spoken. Rebel, I am admiring you from afar.

If you haven't seen this endearing little movie, I suggest you go out and rent it. And soon. Don't be misled by the silly trailer (above).

I found this review on
Its ads portrayed it as a wacky farce, while critics largely ignored it, presuming it to be a vanity project from Kate Capshaw (better known as Mrs. Steven Spielberg). But The Love Letter is neither; on the contrary, it's a low-key but surprisingly rich and touching film about love, illusions, and regret. Helen (Capshaw), a bookseller in a small seashore town, discovers an unsigned love letter that's fallen into the cushions of a couch in her store. The letter doesn't say who it's for, but Helen assumes it's for her and starts wondering who sent it. One would expect this to lead to a whirling comedy of mistaken identities, but after some amusing daydream moments, the movie follows its story with subtlety and nuance. The characters behave according to their own needs and desires, rather than the demands of standard Hollywood goofiness. The performances--from a cast including Tom Selleck (In and Out), Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do), Ellen DeGeneres (EDtv), newcomer Julianne Nicholson, and others--are uniformly unforced and natural. Viewers weary of the hyped-up, absurd emotional climaxes of most so-called romantic comedies will find a respite here. The Love Letter is a genuinely charming film. --Bret Fetzer

Giveaway coming tomorrow, my friends . . .

When I peel an orange

Dearest, Do you know how much in love with you I am?
Did I trip? Did I stumble - lose my balance, graze my knee, graze my heart?
I know I'm in love when I see you. I know when I long to see you, I'm on fire. Not a muscle has moved. Leaves hang unruffled by any breeze. The air is still.
I have fallen in love without taking a step. You are all wrong for me and I know it, but I can no longer care for my thoughts unless they are thoughts of you.
When I am close to you, I feel your hair brush my cheek when it does not. I look away from you sometimes, then I look back.
When I tie my shoes, when I peel an orange, when I drive my car, when I lie down each night without you, I remain,

If you know the movie in which these words were spoken/written, I will admire you from afar. And please, no cheating.

Winner will be announced later tonight. The first one to guess wins.
I love this little movie. It's endearing.

No prize for this one. The prize lies within yourself, because I don't think this is that easy.

Or is it?

Psst . . . A giveaway is tomorrow. Enter to win a free 8x10 or 8x12 print. More to come later . . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rewarding myself with chardonnay and an online present

As I write this post, it's Friday evening and I'm having a Moist-Maker sandwich. Remember that turkey sandwich from "Friends"?

I'm also having a glass of Martin Ray chardonnay. Read my review here. Or don't. It's really not much of a review!

Today I spent the entire day cleaning and by the end of it, I was tired and cranky and I said the "f" word about six times. (I hope nobody heard me). I rarely say that word and I don't know what it is about cleaning that does this to me. I think it's a deep-rooted problem that began in my childhood. And it's this: I can't stand cleaning when anyone else is around and not doing anything. What is up with that, I wonder? Only my analyst knows for sure.

I don't have an analyst, however. And this cleaning thing is one of several reasons why Adrienne says I "have issues".

I just love it when the house glows. I like it when it smells fresh and clean and the kitchen floor is shiny, the woodwork gleams and the windows sparkle. I love when the sheets are fresh and sweet but I hate it when I get so damn tired at the end of it all.

I knew it would be an all-day affair and I was planning on rewarding myself with a birthday present of an online purchase. Oh, my birthday was earlier this week but it's no big deal, honestly. My husband had no idea what to get me and I didn't want ANYTHING. Save your money, please! is what I told him but it's so difficult for him not to get something for the one he loves. I'll let you make it up to me at Christmastime, I promised him.

The present I bought myself was a downloadable set of Actions for Photoshop that were on sale today only. I got an e-mail heralding the blessed event earlier this week from Totally Rad Actions. Each of their 2 sets of actions are $25 off and I used the money I made from selling my prints on the Etsy site. TRA's sale is today only, so if there are any photographers out there who read this blog and use Actions in Photoshop, this is a great deal.

For these photos, I used an action called Rusty Cage. I love how they name these things. It put sort of a dark, moody warm treatment on the photos, making them look almost goth.

I took these pictures yesterday, in the front yard. George does love to fetch sticks, especially monster sticks like this one.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Dog + Stick = Nirvana

And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "That dog is insane."

Take it easy, Blackie. He's just really exhuberant. That's all.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our own private table

Thanksgiving at our house was a quiet affair this year. And understandably so.

My husband isn't quite ready to be with crowds of people, even if they are all family. It's just a little much right now for him.

And so we elected to stay home and have our own private meal. George is here, as is our cat Blackie, but other than that, it's just us and the birds and squirrels.

Our sons are having the Big Meal over in NJ with the rest of the family today and I'll miss all that, it's true. I talked to both of them today and our youngest was just out here for a quick visit yesterday.

I have no idea where my silver candlesticks are, so I'm using my backups here. It's a plain table setting, but I'm happy with it.

I'll tell you what the best part of the day was. It was coming downstairs at one point this morning, and smelling all these wonderful scents emanating from the kitchen. And then walking into the pink-countertopped kitchen and seeing my husband steaming the chestnuts and frying the sausage for the stuffing and well, I haven't seen him doing this for quite some time now.

It was a beautiful sight.

I hope that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful day.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The best laid plans . . .

Oh, I had so many plans for today. There was cleaning, and scrubbing. (I do enjoy a bit of that from time to time, you know).

There was the making of my signature dessert, my apple pumpkin pie (which I plan on posting later on).

There was a visit back to my new favorite wine store. And well, I did get that one accomplished. (Priorities, you know).

But this morning, while having a cup of cappuccino out on my front porch with my husband, I walked down the steps and TRIPPED off the very last step where it meets the earth. And I fell down. And I actually cried because my ankle hurt so badly. Cried!

I hate crying. Usually. But this hurt so badly that I simply had to cry.

My husband rushed to help me. My dog sniffed me and declared me AliVe. And right before I fell, I had taken this little video of George. He'd been fetching and catching his toy in the air and I thought it would be fun to show off his abilities on my blog.

But I erased it accidentally. (Because I am an idiot).

Have you noticed my extreme use of the parentheses in this post?

So now, I'm having a glass of wine and nursing my ankle. I may still make the pie later on.

Riddle me this: What do you do when a beloved co-worker changes in an instant and hardly talks to you anymore? What do you do when you know it's nothing you've done? What do you do when you absolutely miss the jocularity, the camaraderie, and the downright exhuberance of said co-worker? And I am not putting the links in for him anymore. I am just not.

It's just so . . .


Don't mind me. I'm just pissy because of my clumsiness.

And two posts in one day. Wow! I haven't done this in, well, since I began blogging! And the picture? Well, it's actually a watercolor I was playing around with in Photoshop while I've been sitting here nursing my ankle. It's just a simple pic of a tree that wasn't really any good. I'd taken it through one of the windows that had a screen in it, and I'm posting the original on my other blog tomorrow. I just liked how the watercolor looked.

Quiet times

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can.
That's almost $7.00 in dog money!
~ Joe Weinstein

But, seriously . . .

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
~ Josh Billings

PS ~ Hello from George to all his fans.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone. We're just keeping it quiet here. Just George and us.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To have and to hold

I am thankful for so much.

I'm thankful for Sundays when my husband brings me cappuccino and we sit in the sunshine together and feel the warmth on our faces. I'm thankful that I can look into his eyes and know that his mind still works. And I'm thankful that he loves me.

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.
~ David Viscott

Have a wonderful day, my friends.

Until tomorrow, then . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another day, another chardonnay

Continuing on with my husband's idea for taste testing several different chardonnays from the Russian River Valley in California, it's me, the wine dork, again.

I'm doing all the taste testing as he is looking at me, with amusement, mind you, down the reading glasses on the edge of his nose.

Well, this was your idea, my husband dear. And this afternoon on this glorious Sunday in Maryland, I'm having a glass of 2005 Martin Ray Chardonnay.
Today, I'm using my favorite tasting glass from Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia. It's just the right size.

Our guest bottle stopper for this tasting is one I purchased at the gift shop at the above-mentioned winery.

It's an old drawer-pull that was fashioned into a wine bottle stopper and it's also another one of my favorites.

Readers should note that for a real wine review, they should go elsewhere. I'm just a girl, who's having some wine, and asking it to love her.

What the hell?

The first thing I notice about this wine is that it rhymes. "Martin Ray, Chardonnay".

Chalk one up, so far. You should all know by now how much I like rhyming.

The winemaker notes that this 2005 Russian River Valley Chardonnay begins with rich aromas, highlighted by fresh peaches, apples and vanilla. It also notes that the wine's superior structure and balance has a backbone of crisp apple, peach and creamy vanilla flavors that continue flawlessly on to a ripe and elegant finish.

Yum. And I can't agree more. This is the perfect afternoon drink to sip as I sit outside on my front porch with a good book and a little knitting project that I'm working on.

It would also be excellent paired with a succulent dish of fresh lobster tails with a rich butter sauce.

Chalk up about another 20 more, then.

On my own personal wine scale, this one gets an 8 on a score of 10.

Signing off here for now, and until tomorrow my friends . . .

Forever the dork,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prints on sale!

I love the holidays that come at the end of the year, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with the New Year. And because I love them, I'm offering a holiday sale that begins today, on all of my photography prints. When you buy any two prints, you'll get a third (of equal or lesser value) totally free. And shipping for all of them combined is still only five dollars.

I'm working on getting more photos up to offer and if anyone has a favorite or a suggestion, just let me know and I'll get 'er up there.

I also offer framed prints, and if you buy one of my photographs in a frame, you'll get a free 8x10 or 8x12 of your choice.

To claim your free print, simply send me an e-mail at letting me know which free print you'd like. Then when I place your order with my pro lab, I'll add your free choice to your order.

I've been busy today. We got up early and headed into Amish country to get my husband some flannel-lined Carhart jeans and me some new light hiker shoes I can kick around in. Then we visited a wine store in Delaware called Total Wine. I think they may have every kind of wine known to man. We chose three bottles, all chardonnays from the Russian River Valley in California. This was my husband's idea and he thought it would be fun to do a taste test this afternoon. Unfortunately, with the meds he's on, I'll be the only one doing the tasting. Hey, wait a minute . . . that doesn't sound so unfortunate! (For me, at least).

After we got home, I spent hours outside working in the cold. I put away all the flower pots and raked up all the clippings from when my husband trimmed the hedges off the breakfast nook patio. He came out to visit me once, but said it was too cold. While I worked, it snowed on and off but just flurries. Last night we had some nice big flakes coming down and it was really beautiful watching it fall. But nothing is sticking to the ground just yet.

I've got Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti casserole baking in the oven, and I've got my Balsam & Fir candles burning in the living room. The skies outside are grey, but it's nice and homey in here. And once we get the fireplace working in this room, it will be heavenly.

Today, I'm tasting a chardonnay from River Road Vineyards in California. This is their 2006 River Road Reserve Collection and I'm liking this little number. I'll spare you my ineffectual review, especially since the last one I did was simply ridiculous. I will tell you that I'm not a fan of too much oak. And I appreciate the fact that this wine is not hitting me in the head with oak planks.

The winemaker notes that this particular wine has inviting citrus, kiwi fruit, and custard aromas with bright floral notes. The flavors of ruby grapefruit, cantaloupe, and toffee, end with a pleasing finish of citrus and spice.

It certainly does have a finish of citrus and a hint of spice, but I'm giving this wine a 6.5 on my own personal scale of 10. It's not as smooth as I prefer, but it's certainly a decent glass of chardonnay. Wine lovers are advised to visit my friend, Cathy, over at Noble Pig for some excellent wine reviews and suggestions.

My favorite bottle stopper, Monkey Boy, is also pictured here. I bought him at Bombay Company several years ago and put him in my Christmas stocking. Nobody ever puts anything in my Christmas stocking, so I have to do it myself. And I used to love opening stocking presents. Unfortunately, I don't anymore because I already know what they are.

On another note, photographers who use Photoshop and specifically those who use Photoshop Actions, need to know that TOTALLY RAD is having a one day sale on Black Friday. Every action pack is $25 off for one day only, the Friday after Thanksgiving. I may just get myself my Christmas present early this year.

So remember, my sale begins TODAY on my etsy site. Framed prints make great Christmas presents and inexpensive frames can be found at any number of places.

And on November 30, I'm doing a Giveaway on this blog site.

Well, until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

The perks (and downfalls) of my job

Look at this beautiful creation. This has to be the prettiest cupcake I've ever seen in my life.

And it's extra large. You probably can't tell by the picture, but it's twice the size of a regular cupcake, and was made from scratch.

When it's a child's birthday, their parents often send in something sweet to celebrate it. We are always getting little visitors to the office, offering their cupcakes and telling us today is their birthday.
And please don't tell them this, but although I always accept their offerings, I rarely eat them. It's not just the caloric bounty of the little devils, it's that they don't look (or taste, I'm sure) like THIS!!

My friend, the art teacher, came in to visit at the end of the day and she took one look at this cupcake and pronounded that it could be in the movies. It's a movie star cupcake.
It was the talk among everyone at school this afternoon.

And to think this little girl whose birthday was today is only in the 5th grade. This means we get many more years of awesome deliciousness and layers on our hips.

And yes, in case you're wondering, it tasted even better than it looked, if that was possible.

Oh, mama.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

(if I can still fit into my jeans, that is) . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Warning: This could be habit-forming

I found a blog today that I'd like to share with you, with a word of caution.

It's going to be addicting.

This morning, I went on Pioneer Woman's site and it seems like a lot of people are now doing what I started doing ages ago when I left a comment. I leave my blog address. It was a way to get my name out there, and I didn't do it all the time, but when I first began doing it, I apologized for it. You see, I'd written Ree about three separate times asking if I could advertise my blog on her site. I was willing to pay and I had seen other blogs advertised there.

But she never got back to me.

It was ok because I know how terribly busy she is with all those kids, all those cows, all that e-mail and those comments to read, not to mention all those PHOTOS she takes. And so I'd slip my address in there, right under my comment, real sneaky-like. And people started coming to my blog. And I was glad.

I always check out the commenters at Ree's site who do the same thing as I did, and today I found a blog. It's not just any blog, but one that posts a giveaway. Every. Single. Day. What an excellent idea for a blog! It's called A Giveaway A Day.

From cosmetic bags to household cleaning products, and everything in between, every single day a different giveaway is announced. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment and you'll be notified if you've won.

And on November 30th, I'm being highlighted for the daily giveaway. I'll be giving away an 8x10 or 8x12 print of your choice from my etsy site.

So check it out. Visit Liz and when you're there, tell her I sent you.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Surprise package

When I got to work this morning, there was a package sitting on my desk waiting for me with the words "congrats on winning!" on it.

I couldn't think what I had won, but the writing looked friendly enough, so I figured it wasn't a bomb. The teacher whose duty it is to be at my desk manning the phones stayed to see what it was.

I'd forgotten that I'd entered a contest over on a fellow blogger's site, Making Room for Serendipity, by Tiffany. And lo and behold, I won. If you haven't been there yet, check out her site. She's always giving good tips about contests out there in blogging land.
My good friend, Adrienne, will be very happy to learn that I won some more tea! I've got a nice big mug, some Celestial Seasonings tea, some stuff for my tootsies and a book to read. Thanks, Tiff!!

Since I wrote the tea post, and read your wonderful comments, I've been having a cup every day when I get home. Lately I've been enjoying a white leaf tea flavored with peach. Ding dang diddly, it sure is good. And at the end of the day, driving home, I find myself thinking about that nice warm cup of tea. I'm trying not to think of a nice cold glass of charonnay, can you tell?

I wanted to give you a heads up about a sale I'm having on my etsy site. It will begin this weekend and run through most of December. I'm offering a buy two, get one free sale. Buy any two photos and get one (of equal or lesser value) totally free. And if you buy one framed print, you get a free 8x12 print.

Instructions for claiming your free print will be on the site. They're simple. After you place your order, you send me an e-mail letting me know which free print to send you.

I've had such great feedback from people who have purchased my prints. I'd like to share something with you that my blogging friend, Maria (Gardening with Turtles) wrote me regarding her purchase. She had initially been concerned about the the intricacies of shipping framed prints that contained glass, as she had ordered one of the preying mantis. And when it arrived, she sent me this e-mail that I've reprinted with her permission.

"Dear Kate,
You know how I went on and on about how you should minimize selling your framed prints? I changed my mind on that.
I got your print last night and I am all for framing now. I cannot believe how excellent that packaging was, there was no way it could get damaged, scratched, whatever. Impressive. And the walnut frame looks fabulous with your print.
So, so pretty . . . it makes your photo look so good. I love it. I hope this etsy thing becomes a big success. I love, love, love my praying mantis print. When I finally got all the packaging removed and saw the photo for the first time, (this is true), out loud I said, "OOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!!!" The birds can back me up on that. :-)"

I'm so glad you liked it, Maria! The pro lab I use is fantastic and they do an excellent job framing, packing and shipping. And Russell, your prize is on its way. The lab e-mailed me yesterday to say it had shipped. As many of you know, Russell was the winner in the most recent giveaway.

Well, until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The sweetest thing

The sweetest thing happened to me today.

Let me start by reminding you that my husband is jobless at the moment. He's getting better, both mentally and physically as each day goes by, and keeps busy with things to do around the house.

My laundry is always done for me, the kitchen is tidy, he's trimmed many of the hedges outside, and picked up the numerous branches that fall from the trees and well, the list goes on.

At times, he goes onto to the internet to surf the web and he's been asking me what I want for my birthday, which is around Thanksgiving.
I don't want him spending our savings on things we don't need. And if he's approved for disability (he better be!) the first check won't come in until the end of May, which is insane. (I can see how people in this country go bankrupt when a medical situation arises in the family). But we're okay for now.

What I really want is a 300 mm camera lens, but I refuse to let him spend the money on something so frivilous. What I really I need, I told him, is a jewelry box.

I've become tired of storing my jewelry in the boxes that my pieces have come in. I have a hinged wooden box that I also use, and have made partitions in it to separate my things. But they get all tangled up and it's maddening, especially in the morning when I'm looking for a certain piece to wear or trying to find the mate to an earring.

When I walked in the door today, he told me, "Oh, I went on the internet and looked at jewelry boxes and I can't believe how expensive they are. So I made you a jewelry box for your birthday. It's upstairs where you keep all your stuff."

My first thought was that was a huge sentence for him and I was thrilled that he was talking so much!
My second thought, however, was what it was that awaited me upstairs, and as I climbed the steps, I was thinking how I was going to not hurt his feelings when I saw this gift.

I mean, how could he "make me" a jewelry box?

I entered the master bathroom, where there is a huge walk-in linen room. Imagine my complete surprise when I looked on the jewelry shelf and saw a real jewelry box! It has little pull-out drawers lined with gold paper and shiny little brass drawer pulls. It's very rustic, but I was completely touched at the thought of him working hard, all day long, on this gift just for me.

He told me he had found an old tool box-looking thing downstairs in the recesses of the basement. And my heart sank as I realized that this was one of the many tool boxes that the grandfather of the current owner of this house made. I figured on letting the owner know and I could use the box as long as we live here.
When I went to work the following day, I told the owner's wife what had happened. And I get to keep this jewelry box!

Now, looking at it, I know you're probably thinking that it's just a box made of plywood, but to me it has my husband's heart in it. He found something that was completely covered in dust and some mold and he sanded it and cleaned it and dried it. He then painted it in a dark stain that he found lying around. He polished the brass and then lined each tiny drawer with gold gift wrapping paper.

Can you imagine losing your job and having nothing to do all day long? It would drive me mad! This kept him busy and entertained for an entire day.

And I am truly blessed to have him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Favorite Things: Earl Grey tea with jasmine

I love Earl Grey tea, especially when I buy it loose with jasmine blossoms in it. And today, I used my very last bit.

I love it even more when it's in my favorite teacup, the one with the dragonflies on it, the one my friend Lynn gave me for Christmas one year.

"I'm going to have to go to the little tea shoppe for more of this Earl Grey", I thought. But wait!! I think I have enough tea in my cupboards.

Drinking hot tea is something I do when the weather turns chilly, and it reminds me of a conversation I had with Adrienne exactly one month ago, while I was in the hospital with my husband and she and several others were setting up our house for us, as we'd just moved that weekend.

She called me on my cell and my husband had just been moved into a private room. I'd been sitting there next to him, reading a book. I took the call out in the hallway, trying to be quiet.

A: Hey, is this a good time? How's he doing?

CG: Yeah, it's fine. He's napping. I think he's going to be ok.

A: That's so good, Kate. I'm just calling to tell you that you have a serious addiction.

CG: Me? I have an addiction? What addiction?

A: Your fricken tea, you moron! Do you have any idea how much fricken tea you have in this kitchen? I must have unpacked an entire box of it!

CG: Well, yeah, I know I have a lot of tea.

A: Why do you have this much tea? And more importantly, when was the last time you ever drank a cup of tea? I've never seen you drink tea!

CG: Um, well, I drink it in the fall and the winter. When it gets cold, you know . . . And I drink it iced in the summer, when it's hot . . . so I drink tea.

A: Oh, my God. You and your fricken rules. You have rules about tea? I've told you, YOU HAVE ISSUES!!!

A: And they involve TEA!!! Among other things.

CG: Um, Adrienne, what is the problem? I mean, people give me tea as gifts at school. They know that I, um, like it, I guess.

A: You have enough tea here to put it all in its own cabinet, do you know that? You could open a shop with all this tea! And I even had to throw some out!! Your sister agrees with me.

CG: Char agrees with you about my tea? What tea did you throw out? Not the Earl Grey with jasmine!!!

A: I don't know about your Earl Grey, but I threw a mess of it out. You have too much. I think this is an addiciton you have to quit, Kate. Do you buy tea when you're at the grocery store?

CG: Um, sometimes.

A: I KNEW IT!! I knew it wasn't all gifts!!!

CG: Adrienne, just don't throw the Earl Grey out. It's in the white cannister.

A: Oh, don't worry about your precious Earl Grey. It's on the counter. But THE REST OF IT is in a cabinet. An entire cabinet.

CG: Why are you so upset?

A: I'm not upset. I'm just messing with you! Hahaha! Hey, I gotta go. Your sister's drinking all the wine. See ya!

I looked at the phone. And I shook my head. I would have rather been at my new house with them, laughing over my addiction to fine teas, among all the other issues Adrienne says I have. But I was here with my husband. And I was so lucky to have family and friends who were moving us into our new home.

And laughing over all of my things!!!

The Earl Grey with jasmine really is my favorite. Oh, I know! Maybe Adrienne will give me a box of it for my birthday!


Until tomorrow, my friends . . .