Happy New Year – 2010!

Happy New Year to Everyone! The start of the new year always seems like a magical time to me – a fresh, clean white canvas waiting for each us to paint a beautiful picture. I always love that feeling of a new beginning, a fresh start to finally make your life the way YOU want it.

When I was younger, I used to make resolutions but I don’t now because they were so seldom kept and just ended up making me feel guilty because I didn’t get them accomplished.

So, instead of resolutions I have “Hopes” for the New Year. They are things you hope you will accomplish but aren’t going to beat yourself up about if you don’t.

This year, I’d like to get my house more organized – after 26 years of living in this house and accumulating stuff, it has become way too cluttered. I really need to go through every room and get rid of a lot of things and reorganize everything. Hopefully, throughout this year I’ll work on this bit by bit. I’m not in a huge hurry to get started but I hope to get a little done each week.

Also this year, I’d like to spend a lot of time practicing the piano so I can become a better player. Hopefully, this shouldn’t be to difficult as I love to play the piano. However, now that I’m past 50 it does seem to take longer to get your fingers to cooperate. At the beginning of 2009 I started playing again after a long hiatus from the piano – how I wish I hadn’t let it go like that. During 2009, I made a lot of progress – caught up to where I was when I quit playing and advanced past that. Hopefully during 2010 I will be able to advance even more.

Another thing I “hope” to do in 2010 is become more fit and healthy. My husband and I actually got a head start on this! We’ve been doing Qi Gong exercises along with a DVD for five days now. It seems like a very easy sort of exercise but really does make you feel relaxed yet invigorated at the same time. Both of us really enjoy doing the exercises along with the DVD.

Qi Gong For Seniors

The first DVD we are using is Qi Gong for Seniors by Lee Holden. I saw him on PBS during a pledge drive and really liked the programs. So, I ordered several DVDs from his website to try. Since neither of us has ever tried Qi Gong before and we are in our middle fifties we started with the Qi Gong for Seniors.

So far, we are really enjoying this. Hopefully, because it is enjoyable, Qi Gong will be something we can keep doing throughout the year. It is amazing how quickly the half hour routine zips by.

Let’s hope that 2010 will be a good year for everyone on our Earth. May all of you have Peace, Hope, Health and Prosperity this New Year!

How are all of you going to say the name of the new year – two thousand and ten or twenty ten?  My husband thinks that everyone is going to say twenty ten.  So far, I’m more comfortable saying two thousand and ten.

Lego Mania

My blog has been neglected for a bit – seems like life gets so busy as the holiday season starts up, I can’t believe it will be Thanksgiving in four days.  It seemed like Halloween was just a couple of day ago.  Sometimes, it seems like the older I get the less I enjoy the holidays – I feel kind of like a Grinch this year.  It makes me sad to see Christmas decorations going up in stores the minute Halloween is over.  Oh well, that’s the way it is.

Building Brothers

Our two grandsons have really been into playing with Lego Blocks this past couple of weeks.  Whenever they come over after school it is the first thing they want to do.

Busy Building

It is really refreshing when kids want to play something besides video games.  They do enjoy Nintendo and Playstation, too – but the past few weeks they have been having Lego Mania.  You can see in the above picture I still haven’t put away the two Halloween Candles on the fireplace – I think they’re cute and haven’t gotten into Thanksgiving mode yet even though it’s just days away!

Whistle While You Work

Just listening to them while they build and play is fun.  You can see how their minds are working and what sort of things they have going on in their imaginations.  Both of the boys are so different – they invent and act out stories about totally different things.  Darrin was whistling to himself while he was building.

Lego Mania

Actually, I really enjoy playing with Legos myself!  It is almost like knitting – making something block by block instead of stitch by stitch.  I built myself a really cool Lego house with a garden and everything.

You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

Busy Birdfeeder on a Snowy Day

It snowed a LOT here on Wednesday (October 21, 2009), that didn’t stop the birds from coming to visit the birdfeeder in our back yard though.  In fact, it seemed like there were more birds than usual.

Lots of birds at the feeder despite the snow.

Lots of birds at the feeder despite the snow.

Along with the usual House Finches there was one bird that was a similar size and had a similar beak to the finches but had yellow markings instead of red.

Is the bird with yellow markings a Goldfinch?

Is the bird with yellow markings a Goldfinch?

I’m not sure what it is – it really doesn’t look like a Goldfinch.  I’ll have to look it up in the bird book.

House Finches and one mystery bird with yellow markings.

House Finches and one mystery bird with yellow markings.

The birds were bickering with each other over the last seeds in the feeder.  We fill this feeder with black oil sunflower seeds every single day and they eat the whole thing before noon.  House Finches are the most common birds at our feeder but there are a few other types once in a while.  A group of five Ring Necked Doves hangs out under the feeder eating the seeds that get dropped.  Every once in a while, Brewer’s Blackbirds hang out underneath, too.

Bickering Birds

Bickering Birds

Our front and back yard looked like a winter wonderland in the morning.

Snow in the back yard.

Snow in the back yard.

It kept snowing all day!  The snow built up to 8 inches deep towards the end of the day.

Snow in the front yard.

Snow in the front yard.

 You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

Carrot Ginger Cookies and a New Knitting Project

CarrotCookies2-3_Blog

Carrot Ginger Cookies

These Carrot Ginger Cookies I made today turned out very well. They have lots of finely grated carrots in them along with freshly grated ginger. They are very light and delicate tasting – the fresh ginger gives them such a nice flavor. Even though they have LOTS of carrots in them – they really don’t taste like carrots. I think they will go very nicely with a cup of tea.

I rolled the balls of dough in coarse Demerara sugar before baking – next time, I will use a finer sugar. The crunchy, strong taste of the Demerara sugar kind of overpowered the cookie.

Carrot Ginger Cookies

1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 egg + 1 egg white (if you double recipe, just use three eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup finely grated carrot (about 3 normal sized carrots)
1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root (about 1 small root)
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Stir in the carrots and ginger until well blended. Mix the cream of tartar, soda and salt with the flour. Stir in the flour a cup or so at a time and mix well.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. If desired, roll balls in sugar before placing on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes until slightly browned and top springs back if touched.

The dough is quite soft, it might help to refrigerate it before rolling into balls. I usually make a double recipe (or even triple) of cookie dough and only bake one or two pans and then put the rest of the dough in the fridge in a tightly sealed container or bag. That way, you can bake a pan or two every day or so and always have fresh cookies on hand.

*****

In other news – I didn’t have to report for Jury Duty today (Friday)! It was such a relief – I was dreading it so much. I had called the phone number on the summons earlier in the day on Thursday and then again around 4pm to check on the status of the trial and the recorded message said the trial was still scheduled. So, I had started getting everything ready for the next day – clothes, charge cell phone, get purse packed up with the needed stuff, etc. For a couple of days, I had been trying to think of a small knitting project to bring along in the hopes I might knit to fill in the tedious hours of jury selection – finally decided to make the Shetland Shopper Market Bag. My friend, Emmy, knitted this bag and it turned out very well. So, I cast on for the bag with Adara (cotton/linen blend) from Elann and was happily knitting away on it when my husband came home from work.

He asked if I had called to check on the status of the trial, I told him I had and that it had not been cancelled. So, he called the number to check again and it WAS cancelled! I was in disbelief, it must have been cancelled at the last minute. I even called the number myself to make sure it really had been cancelled! What a relief – it seems like when you get all ready and prepared for something, then it never happens.

So, I shall think of the Shetland Shopper as my lucky knitting project!

Shetland Shopper Market Bag - Beginning

Shetland Shopper Market Bag - Beginning

I felt so happy and relieved today that I decided to bake the Carrot Ginger Cookies, had been meaning to try them for a while. It was originally a recipe for Bunny Carrot Cookies that I modified quite a bit.

You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

Autumn Colors

On Saturday (Sept. 26, 2009) my husband and I decided to go for a drive and check out the autumn colors.  He insisted this would be the prime weekend for color.  Well, we did see a lot of lovely autumnal color but there were still many aspen that hadn’t even started to change color – I think it will be another two weeks before it really hits the peak time for the most vivid color show.

Autumn Colors in Conejos Canyon

Autumn Colors in Conejos Canyon

We had been going to drive over Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs but got started too late so had to do a shorter drive.  We drove from our home in La Jara to Chama, NM over Cumbres/La Managa Pass – the color on the Antonito (east) side of the pass was really pretty, very vivid.  The trees on the Chama (west) side of Cumbres/La Manga Pass had barely started to change color.  Sometimes, the fall color on that side of the pass is really striking – it probably will be gorgeous there in two weeks.

Autumn Colors near Cumbres Pass

Autumn Colors Near Horca

After stopping in Chama for a bit, we continued on to Tierra Amarilla and then turned there to go over the Los Brazos Mountains to Tres Piedras.  For some reason, a lot of  the aspen trees in those mountains are dying – there are large areas of trees that are just standing sticks with no leaves at all.  We read an article in the Taos paper about it the next day – it’s called SAD, Sudden Aspen Death, and no one is sure what causes it.  I hope someone finds out soon so it doesn’t spread.

Autumn Colors Near Horca

Autumn Colors Near Horca

Even the trees that weren’t dead didn’t have much color, their leaves were smaller and less abundant and were just kind of curling up and turning brown instead of becoming a nice bright, golden yellow color.  The scrub oak along that road was changing to a  bright red which was pretty.

Autumn Colors Near Cumbres Pass

Autumn Colors Near Cumbres Pass

By the time we arrived in Tres Piedras is was dusk but there was still some lovely color to see as we drove on to Taos for dinner and a bit of grocery shopping!  As the sun was setting, the whole sky was the most striking, vibrant shade of orange – everything was bathed in this wonderful orange glow.  I tried to capture it with a picture but somehow the camera just wouldn’t pick up the orange glow that was everywhere.  There had been a lot of haze (probably from a distant forest fire)  in the air all day which most likely caused the orange glow as the sun set.

Autumn Colors In Los Brazos Mountains

Autumn Colors In Los Brazos Mountains

You can click on any of the pictures in this post for a larger version.  Most of them were taken through the windshield of the car as it was driving down the road, I could have gotten better ones if we had stopped and I’d used my big camera but, sometimes, it’s just fun to take pictures on the fly.

Even though the colors weren’t really at their peak, it was a beautiful and relaxing drive.  I got a lot of knitting done, too – worked on the felted cat bed while we were driving.  We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of this world, I’m so grateful that we do.

Creepy Crawly Creatures

For the past three weeks, I’ve been catching one of these Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions each week.  It is always late at night when I’ve been sitting up knitting and watching TV.  Two of them were on the family room floor (one very close to my foot!) and one was crawling up the wall near my knitting chair.

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Ever since we’ve moved into this house, 25 years ago, there have been one or two of these creepy “bugs”, usually always in June.  This year there were a couple earlier in June and then three in late August and September.  This is the first time they have been around this time of year.  For every one I see, there are probably quite a few more that I don’t see, too.

Every time I see one crawling on the floor or up the wall it gives me the creeps – they look so nasty.  They are nasty, too.  They even eat each other.  When I caught the first one, I put it in a big jar because I wanted to figure out a way to take a picture of it.  A few days later, I caught the second one and  put it in the jar with the first one – the second one, which was bigger, promptly ate the first one.  Then, when I caught the third one, I put it in the jar with the second one and before I could even find another jar to separate them – the third one (which was even bigger) ate the second one!

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

I finally figured out a way to photograph the “bug” using a cutting board with a well around the edge which I filled with water.  These creatures hate water and it wouldn’t cross the water to crawl off the cutting board – so I could finally get some close-up pictures of the third one.  It is still living in the jar – it ate some ants and seems to be doing just fine.  I don’t know whether to let it go outside or just flush it down the toilet.

These things look like spiders and they are related to spiders –  they are Solifugae which is an order of Arachnida but a different order than the one to which spiders belong.  Here is an article about them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solifugae

There are lots of urban legends about Solifugae which are all untrue.  Only one species has any venom and usually Solifugae don’t  attack anything larger than themselves.  They grow very large in some parts of the world and even eat things like lizards.  The ones I’ve caught in my house are all around 1.25 inches long.

What I think is strange, we’ve been getting a few of these things in our house every year for 25 years and none of our neighbors (that we have asked)  have caught any in their homes.  That really makes me wonder if there is a colony of them that lives under our house or something.  Perhaps next year we should put off a bug bomb under the house in the spring.  We don’t get a lot of insects in our house, just a few spiders and a few ants – and these yucky things.

Anyway, it has gotten a lot colder now – the first few flakes of snow fell yesterday – so, I think there won’t be anymore of the creepy creatures this year.  I hope so anyway!

You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

Farmer’s Market

Well, it’s been ages since I’ve blogged.  It’s hard to say why, I often think about it but then never get around to actually doing it – kind of the story of my life.  Actually, I have been busy but not so busy that I couldn’t do a blog post once in awhile.  Hopefully, this post will prime the blogging pump.

Damp Farmer's Market

Damp Farmer's Market

Ana - She Knit the Sweater She's Wearing!

Ana - She Knit the Sweater She's Wearing!

Anyway, my husband came home from work a bit early today so we could go to the La Jara Farmer’s Market, it is on Friday afternoons and starts at 3pm and ends around 6 or 7 pm or when it starts to rain – as it usually seems to do on Friday afternoons just because of the Market (it seems that way).  It had been a damp sort of day and there weren’t a lot of vendors.  However, there was some very nice looking produce at very good prices – I got some squash and some nectarines.  We saw quite a few people we know and had fun talking with them.  There were lots of interesting people from old farmers to Amish folks.  My knitting friend, Ana, was there – she had a booth and was selling some of her hand knit items.  There was a very good guitar player, too – a bit loud, but very good. 

Yellow Carrots

Yellow Carrots

Fresh Onions

Fresh Onions

 
Since I am NOT a morning person, I really like the La Jara Farmer’s Market being on Friday afternoons instead of on Saturday morning like most Farmer’s Markets.  Otherwise, I might miss seeing interesting people like these!
Melon Seller

Melon Seller

  

Checking Peaches

Checking Peaches

It was drizzling while we were walking around the market.  Shortly after we left and returned home, it started raining quite hard.