Monthly Archives: November 2014

Nighttime Michigan Avenue

Although I live in the suburbs, and honestly, would live in the forest if I had the chance, there are a couple of big cities that I love. New York and Chicago being two of them. I recently got to spend a long weekend in Chicago, and the first night there, we went out for a walk on Michigan Ave. I was having trouble with my flash, so in some places where I needed it, it didn’t work, so a couple of things came out a little blurry; in other places, I didn’t want the flash, so I was happy that it didn’t work and I got some cool pics of motion, and some pretty pics of the nighttime lights. I hope you like these.

PURPLE!!!!!!!!!
PURPLE!!!!!!!!!

I have no idea why there is a painted horse on the sidewalk, but I thought it was pretty. Actually looking at it again, maybe it’s decoupage…

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I was trying to get a photo of the shops and the lights, but this bus drove through my shot and I thought it wound up looking cool.

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I liked the color of the leaves.

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I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving filled with food, friends, and family; or maybe you’re more the understated holiday type and you wanted and got a quiet time by yourself or with those who are the closest to you; whichever, I hope it was great. Don’t go get trampled in stores for “stuff” today, stay home and look at pretty photos or eat leftovers, or put up your decorations for the next holiday you celebrate, or read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, hug a dog, kiss a baby, help someone or just veg out in front of the t.v. We’ll be starting on the Christmas tree. Don’t do anything stupid and be kind to someone, we all need it! 🙂

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Recipes: Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like cranberries. They need enough sugar to choke a horse to make them edible in my view, and the jellied stuff that my mother loved and that my daughter loves… just no. A few years ago, I decided to research recipes for something better, and I came up with my Spiced Cranberry Sauce, which I actually like. I only make it once a year, so clearly, it’s not chocolate or anything, but in my picky view, these are the bomb.

Here's what you need.
Here’s what you need.

1-12 oz bag of cranberries
1/2 cup honey
2-3 T firmly packed brown sugar, or to taste
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg, or more if you like it
3/4 cup water

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Put the cranberries in a colander, and root through them. They sometimes have little stems attached, and there are often rotting ones that need to be picked out. Rinse them well too, just like any fruit or veg.

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Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, lower the temperature to simmer, put a lid on it and simmer away until the berries pop and the sauce thickens. This usually takes between 15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Stir often and don’t let it burn.

My grandma's pressed glass bowl.
My grandma’s pressed glass bowl.

Once it cools, pick the cloves out, but you can leave the cinnamon sticks in there for a little garnish. I like to put it in a crystal bowl, or a pretty glass one, like this oldie that belonged to my grandma, because the color is so beautiful. Stick a spoon in it and you’re done!

Top view when it was still pretty warm.  It'll thicken up more as it cools.
Top view when it was still pretty warm. It’ll thicken up more as it cools.

In case you are wondering about the honey I use, here’s a picture of it.

We get it in Gatlinburg.
We get it in Gatlinburg.

And a short explanation of why it’s so dark.

I haven't tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.
I haven’t tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.

So there’s my recipe. It’s really simple, and it’s good. I hope you give it a try.
I hope all of you out there have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. If Uncle Joe gets drunk, or Aunt Sally is crazy, don’t let it get under your skin. One of these days they’ll all be gone and only when it’s too late, will you find the humor and family lore in it all. Here’s to full hearts and full bellies. Be good and careful and kind to one another. 🙂

Abandoned Apple Farm

My Facebook friends have already seen some of these pictures, so I apologize to them for posting stuff they’ve already seen.

When I was a little girl, my mother took my brother and me to this apple farm every year to get our Halloween pumpkins. It was awesome and the inside of the store smelled like apples. I’ve thought of it often over the years, so a few weeks back, my husband and I took a drive out to see if it was still standing. It was. Sort-of.

The store.
The store.
Old Mrs. Fagley's spot.
Old Mrs. Fagley’s spot.

Right next to the fireplace, beside that white pillar that you see, the grandma of the family sat. She reminded me of a Russian fairy tale grandma. She was always bundled up, and working on some kind of crafty thing. She never looked up. If I am remembering it correctly, she smoked a pipe. I was simultaneously fascinated and terrified of her. I wanted to talk to her, but I was too little to have the guts to do it.

Abandoned books and an apple sticker.
Abandoned books and an apple cider sticker.

If the books hadn’t been so moldy and gross, I would have liberated them from their depressing captivity. As it was, I had to leave them behind. A sad state of affairs for a book lover such as myself.

Freezer door.  Beautiful.
Freezer door. Beautiful.
What was BEHIND the beautiful freezer door.  Scary, scary, scary.  Didn't linger here...
What was BEHIND the beautiful freezer door. Scary, scary, scary. Didn’t linger here…

Speaking of abandoned books. I love this photo. So simple, so bleak.

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I think that’ll have to do for this post. I have a lot more pictures from this day. I’ll have to do another post with some of them another day. Don’t wanna bore ya.

Have a beautiful day, send positive vibes into our troubled world and be kind to someone. 🙂

Mission at San Juan Capistrano

When I was a little girl, California was a kind of promised land for my mother. She always wanted to move there, and we went on vacation there a number of times growing up. I came to love it back in the day, but part of the problem travelling with my dad, was that he never wanted to pay for anything. I think he figured once he paid for Disneyland, he was tapped out. We drove past lots of cool places, but it wasn’t until my husband and I started travelling, that I actually got to go into most of the places I’d seen, but never really seen. Does that make sense?

This is one of my favorite places.

The Mission at San Juan Capistrano.
The Mission at San Juan Capistrano.

The Mission was established on November 1, 1776 by Fray Junipero Serra. It is the only Mission in Orange County, and it is beautiful.

This reminds me of Hotel California by the Eagles.
This reminds me of Hotel California by the Eagles.
The ruins of the original Mission, destroyed in an earthquake.  It reminds me of something from Greece or Italy.  Very beautiful.
The ruins of the original Mission, destroyed in an earthquake. It reminds me of something from Greece or Italy. Very beautiful.

I can almost picture monks or friars moving down this walkway.

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And finally, as a person who was a kid when the Hotel California album by the Eagles came out, the next photo brings that 70’s icon to life for me. The Mission Bells.

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If you ever get to southern California, I highly recommend a side trip to the Mission. It is beautiful and peaceful, and I have a billion more photos of the joint that I’ll get around to posting sometime. If you are freezing or buried in snow today, I hope the beautiful California sunshine you see here helps a little. Have a beautiful day and for God’s sake, be kind to somebody. 🙂

Flowers and Butterflies

Beautiful orchid
Beautiful orchid

The Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati Ohio has a Butterfly Show each spring. After a long, cold, snowy Midwestern winter, everyone around here is ready for some greenery and color. In fact, more than the cold, the dreary browns and grays of late winter, after the snow is gone, but before it gets warm, is the thing that does the biggest number on my psyche. I love the Butterfly Show. The crowd stinks, but the warm air and life inside that giant green house is good for my soul.

Bonsai roots
Bonsai roots
Indoor waterfall.
Indoor waterfall.

These butterflies are iridescent blue when they are opened up and relaxed. Unfortunately, the butterfly show is over run with little kids who are apparently there without parents. They try to grab the butterflies and swat at them sometimes and it’s hard to get them still on something, I’d be satisfied with ANY butterfly sitting still. This beauty was way up high on the side of a tree, I captured him with my zoom.

Trying in vain to get a picture of one of these guys opened up and relaxed.
Trying in vain to get a picture of this guy opened up and relaxed.

Got one!
Got one!
Easter Lilies everywhere!
Easter Lilies everywhere!

I love the Easter Lilies. The place smells so sweet.

The Krohn is beautiful all year long, but the Christmas season and spring are my favorite times. I’ll add some Christmas pics when the season gets closer. Enjoy your day! 🙂

First Photo Post: Old Bethel Methodist Church

One of the new things I want to do here, is add photos. I take lots and lots of pictures, and consider myself an evolving amateur photographer. I’ve finally gotten a nice camera, and using it is quickly becoming a passion of mine. I don’t own Photoshop, and I haven’t started an Instagram yet, so any and all photos I will post here, are whatever showed up in my camera. Someday, I might get fancy and get one of those editing programs, or use Instagram, which my daughter tells me, comes equipped with filters or something; but if and when I DO get fancy, I’ll let you know that the photos have been altered in some way. For now, they are au naturel. I hope you like them. 🙂

Old Bethel Methodist Church.
Old Bethel Methodist Church.

This is a great old building. The park is centered around a man-made lake, created in the 1970’s. From what I was told, the valley was just flooded by the Corps of Engineers, and a number of houses are still at the bottom of the lake. I went to elementary school with a girl who told me her grandmother’s home was taken by the corps for the lake. She was given money of course, but she had to move, and none of the houses were destroyed before the water came. I imagine if the stories I’ve been told are true, it would be incredibly creepy to be able to go down there and see what’s left. This little church and it’s cemetery, probably served many of the inhabitants of the flooded community.

Gettin' artsy...
Gettin’ artsy…
View from the cemetery side.  The stones are really, really, old.
View from the cemetery side. The stones are really, really, old.
Steeple. Remember that old kid game you did with your fingers... here's the church, here's the steeple, open it up and see all the people... Idk, maybe it's mainly a Midwest thing.
Steeple.
Remember that game you did with your fingers when you were a kid… here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open it up and see all the people… Idk, maybe it’s a Midwest thing.

I hope you all enjoyed my first foray into posting photos. Have a great day and please be kind to one another 🙂

Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale Makes Me Wanna ROCK

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When rockers reach a certain age, one of the following things usually happens. They either dreamed of burning out, but they fade away; they try to continue performing the way they always have before, blissfully unaware that they look like the Crypt Keeper, and have mostly lost their voices, strutting about like roosters, making final millions off their glory days; they appear to have made deals with the devil, continue to perform as they always have, looking and sounding BETTER than in their glory days, when in reality, they should be melting in a corner somewhere from all the toxic substances they and their friends imbibed, making mere mortals yearn for a hot gray streak and some tight pants; OR, they reinvent themselves. Who would have thought that Hot Legs, Maggie May singing Rod Stewart would have decided at some point to put on a tux, or a velvety smoking jacket and turn that bluesy voice to the standards? And succeed? What’s that you say? Nobody? I agree, but honestly, his voice lends itself to those sexy old songs, so when you think about it, it’s not much of a stretch. You want to know who IS a surprise? Everybody’s old Twisted friend Dee Snider, HE has blown me away. Mr. We’re Not Gonna Take it, has wiped off the makeup, lost the belly shirts, brushed his hair and written a Christmas musical, and it ROCKS!

Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale is previewing in Chicago. I had reason to be up there for a few days with the family, and we wanted to see some theatre. We are BIG fans of musicals, and the Million Dollar Quartet was playing, I kind of wanted to see it, but my husband had other ideas. He had been looking at what was playing and he told me he wanted to go see the Christmas Tale. Now I experienced my teen years during the 80’s, so I am no stranger, and you might say, I’m a pretty big fan of hair bands and heavy metal, but I will admit I had a moment of trepidation. I thought about it though, and remembered that I regularly drag the Mr. to the ballet, and we are going to see Cinderella in January, so I said ok. He excitedly got online and in about four minutes had purchased tickets for our family, which includes an eighteen year-old daughter and a thirteen year-old son.

I’m not gonna lie. I spent the afternoon certain we had just blown our money, but I was SOOOOO wrong. We got to the theatre, and were greeted with classic Christmas music, a set that looked like a backstage area, with a cozy, Christmas-y living room set up, complete with tree, in the corner. We were given little red or green flash lights when we entered, which my husband and I immediately recognized as a substitute for that rock concert staple, the lighter. Suddenly, Dee Snider’s voice boomed out of nowhere (kind of like the rock god that he is) telling us that we paid to see a ROCK & ROLL Christmas show, not some boring old stuffy show, and what the heck was with the boring, slow music, which then changed to some more appropriate rock Christmas music. Mr. Snider came out on stage in rock and roll leather (toned down a little, but right about where it should’ve been), took his seat in the leather chair in the cozy corner, and began his role as narrator.

The description I’m going to give you here is going to be frustratingly limited. If I tell too much, it will ruin the COMPLETELY unexpected surprise at the end. The gist of the story is as follows. We have a frustrated heavy metal band trying to make it. They started out ten or fifteen years too late, and have been trying to get their hair band to a level of success seemingly impossible for such a group today. They try everything they can think of, including some pretty shady dealings with a certain unsavory character, who apparently bestows good health, attractive gray streaks, and good skin to rockers who should be dead, but they continue to struggle. The lead singer, D.D., played by Adam Michaels, is one of the prettiest men since Bret Michaels in his heyday. He does a fantastic job in his pink spandex and beautifully applied make up. My daughter was speechless, because she’d never seen a pretty man before, and my thirteen year old son was speechless with horror because he’d never seen a pretty man before. The rest of the band (except the drummer, who was a very funny bright spot) physically remind me of rockers from the 80’s, but I’ll let you decide who you think they look like, because that’s half the fun.

I really can’t say more than that about the actual plot, because it would be shameful of me to ruin the ending for you. What I WILL tell you, is that Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale, is one of the best times I’ve ever had at the theatre. It was funny, it had a great message, there were some good-natured jabs at some other older rockers, and some current pop culture references that my kids got. There were old Twisted Sister songs, Christmas songs, and a few new ones, written just for the show. I will also tell you, that at the very end, when everybody including Dee comes out on stage together to rock the audience out of the theatre, the happy vibes are palpable. You know how you always hear about how performers feed off the energy of the audience? Well, Mr. Snider was so joyous, and excited, and seriously, just plain happy, that the happy vibes came off of him in almost visible waves, and everyone in that fairly small theatre could feel them. His face lit up like a little kid, and we all felt so energized and great and happy when we left, that I’m having a hard time putting the degree to which we felt wonderful into words. We saw the show two nights ago, and as we drove back to Cincinnati from Chicago today, my family was talking about how we all still felt so great because of it.
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Since the show is previewing in Chicago, getting it’s sea legs as it were, I’m not sure if it will end up in New York, but I really hope it does. The world needs more of this kind of entertainment. There was nothing negative, nothing nasty or mean; it proves that any kind of topic can be tackled without nudity, cursing, hateful actions, or fear. It really is a great show for the whole family. If Dee Snider sees this (and chances are he might, because I’m going to email him a link to it) hear me loud and clear; if the show goes to Broadway, don’t let them ruin it, and WRITE MORE PLAYS, MUSICALS, ETC. You’ve got a great thing going here. Use that giant brain that you obviously have to spread more of the kind of happiness you have created with this show. The world needs more joy. Good job sir. We like you, and we like your show. Merry Christmas 🙂

The show is playing through December at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago, Illinois. Go see it.