Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Big Craft Clean-Up

I’ve been reorganizing my craft stuff.  That may not sound very exciting but it has been a MAJOR project that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.  Now it is nearly done.  I could not be more pleased with the results.

We have an oval papasan wicker couch and a group of boxes, bins, baskets and bags has been stacked haphazardly at one end of it  A variety of craft supplies were stored in the stacking bins to the far left.  It was a spacious but awkward arrangement and difficult to use because getting to the lower bins meant taking the tops bins completely off.  A basket on top held my address book, envelopes, stamps and a few cards.

Card stock was in hanging files in heavy white cardboard file boxes under a large. heavy, square basket packed with zippered plastic bags full of paper scraps, templates, cardboard shapes, tags, sheet music,  and printed papers.  To get to the card stock, I had to lift the basket out of the way. A small trunk holds memorabilia (including family photos and cards from Rem), and is topped with a leather box of cards I’ve made and a few knick-knacks. On the right is a portable plastic storage bin that I take when I go crafting with a friend.  It is topped with a canvas bag with even more supplies for other projects.

A shelf behind the couch held smaller plastic tubs with dusty. unused journals, old cards, projects from workshops and out-of date newsletters from Stampin’ Up who I used to demonstrate for.

A pair of bar stools under the counter made a convenient place to stack books, drape sweaters and jackets, and set down mail.  We never actually sat on them.  Several boxes of canning jars, some empty and others with chutney are stacked on the floor.  Wire bins with a variety of candles, candle holders, boxes of envelopes and bottles of wine are in the corner.  Rem had just cleaned the unit out so it looks better than it has in years. Yeah, that IS the “After” for those bins.  I wish I had a picture of the “Before”.

This dresser was full of supplies for rubber stamping and crafting cards.  Completed and half-finished projects and the various papers, sticky tape, colored pens and other supplies got stacked to one side on the table so we could eat and them moved to the dresser or in piles on the floor until I put them away.  The piles usually grew before I got around to cleaning them up.  Sometimes the dresser was buried under an archeological dig of craft stuff.  On top is the most recent holiday, in this case green paper from St. Patrick’s Day.  Go down a layer and you’ll find Valentine’s Day, then Christmas stuff.

The drawers were loaded with boxes of rubber stamps, ink, punches, ribbon, glitter, embossing powder, buttons, brads, jewels, scissors, twine, a crimping tool, an embossing heat gun and more.

I had given away and donated a bunch of rubber stamps about 6 months ago but I was ready to say goodbye to other stamps I knew I wasn’t using.  The more I could donate, the more space I would have to play with.

More bins lurk in the bedroom.  Perfect for a kids room or garage or maybe storage closet.  Not my favorite look for our bedroom.  You get used to things but when I really looked at these bins I could see they needed help. The drawers had become jammed with supplies.  I didn’t even know what all was in there because the bottom drawer sagged so badly, it wouldn’t open.

I knew the first step was to get rid of some of this mess mass of stuff.  I completely sorted through all of my craft supplies.  ALL of them. Even the ones in the bottom drawer I couldn’t open.  Turns out, it was mosaic supplies.  I had completely forgotten WHAT was in there.  I had to work my way down through the drawers sorting and emptying bins until I could actually open that bottom drawer.

I’ve collected things I might use in a future project.  But haven’t. I’ve completed projects, had leftover supplies and saved them because they were still good.  I had materials from crafts that I’m not longer doing. I had duplicates of some items because things had become so cluttered and disorganized I didn’t know what I had and bought more.

I love printed papers and I often buy packs that have many different designs.  I don’t always like every page in a pack but the price is usually good enough to buy it with those few I don’t love.  Over years of crafting I’ve ended up with a container of dud designs that I didn’t want to use.  I would dig through the box looking for something fun and new and see pages of designs I either had grown tired of or didn’t like in the first place.

Another issue that bothered me was crafting in our little apartment meant working on our one and only table.  Most of the time that was ok but it meant whenever I was working on a project and had it spread out on the table I either stacked it up in a disorganized pile so we could eat dinner at the table or eating dinner from plates on our laps on the bed.  Not ideal.

I was so ready to get rid of things I wasn’t using.  I thought if I could actually clear out enough stuff I might actually be able to fit a crafting desk into our small living space.  That was a huge incentive.  I also wanted to be able to actually open (and close) all the drawers and to sort through and keep only the paper I found beautiful and pass along the rest to someone who would use it and enjoy it.

A few days off from work scattered over several weeks helped me to really focus my energy on this Big Craft Clean-Up. I called a friend who I knew volunteered at several schools in the area and who worked with disadvantaged kids and women living in a homeless shelter.  I learned she would be thrilled to take most of my discarded items and I was delighted to pass it along to be used and enjoyed.

My mom was inspired by my project and donated some scrapbook paper and craft scissors she wasn’t using.  She had decided that she was happier putting together photo-albums than creating scrapbooks.

At first, the project created chaos. Drawers were emptied, bins were moved, I filled a kitchen trash bag with hardened glue sticks, pens that no longer wrote, crumpled, musty paper and dried-out markers.

A friend at work was happy to take the stools for his dad’s backyard wood-shop.  Rumor has it they actually sit on them!  The canning jars found a home in our storage space under the apartment.  My sister, who has a very large storage space, wanted the mosaic supplies.

I started sorting out the items I wanted to keep and stuff I was ready to donate.  I found fabric scraps, fake flowers, decoupage medium, jewelry findings, pens, brushes, raffia, cotton balls, flat glass marbles, magnets, coloring books, brown paper bags, excelsior, pliers, colored pencils and more.  I wiped dust off of bins and filled another bag with garbage and two with paper to recycle.

The stacking bins were loaded with bags of craft supplies still in good shape.  A turning rack of ink pads was bagged and ready to go, I’d kept the colors I use most often along with a set of colored markers and said goodbye to the rest.  A big boot box was roomy enough for scrapbook paper, card stock and other flat items.  Smaller boxes held what had been treasures for me at one time but had become trash.  For my friend and the women and kids she works with I hope they will be treasures again.

Now I was ready to shop for a desk!  I measured the (limited) available space and after searching online and a preliminary look at The Container Store, we headed to IKEA.  We looked at several combinations I’d seen on the computer but in one I didn’t like the way the drawers were open at the top and though it would have fit, it was really small.  A rolling file cabinet ended up being too wide to work.  A call to the Container Store to check the measurements of a file cabinet on sale and a mental rearrangement of my set-up and we made our decision.  We came home with a set of drawers, two table legs and a desk top.

I have previously put together a bedside table with drawers and a book shelf from IKEA.  As long as I’ve got plenty of time, Rem’s support and the use of his power drill with screwdriver bit, I find it fun and satisfying to assemble their furniture.  It suits my skill level.  The directions are all pictures.

I count out all the bits and bobs and make sure I have everything I need.  It isn’t really building but it is fulfilling to go from these pieces:

To this:

Or more importantly, from this:

To this:

I had a bit of panic when I saw what had seemed like a very small desk top while in IKEA hulking rather largely in our limited space. But once everything was assembled and pushed into place, once all the big packing cardboard was taken out to the recycling bins, and once I started putting stuff in the drawers I started to get used to it.

Now I can sit at my desk (oh, that makes me happy) and open a drawer…

and use the adhesive or scissors or bone folder and then put it away.

The drawers have the supplies I use the most often, right at my fingertips.

The dresser has been organized and the contents distilled to what I really want to keep and use.

With less stuff everything has a place.  Not a stack on the floor. Or piled on top of the dresser.

I had hoped for paper storage in the desk but when that didn’t work out, I decided a small file cabinet on sale from The Container Store could replace a file box that had been in the corner of the bedroom.

These books look better here than on the old stools.  The green fabric bin from Target is a nice replacement for the old basket holding my address book and stamps.

Best of all, all my colored card stock (that survived the paper purge) is in the bottom drawer with plenty of room in the top drawer for (boring) files.

The space under the counter is still a work-in-progress.  I will post a picture when I  get the storage unit I have my eye on to replace the wire bins.  For now, it is fine.  I will align the new unit with the trunk/basket combo and fabric “drawers” will keep things neater looking.

In the bedroom I still want to replace the stacking plastic drawer bins.  For now they have been sorted out and all the drawers open.  When I find something that fits in the space that I like, I’ll get it.

I love sitting at the table to eat without needed to pile up a craft project I’m in the middle of.  A few portable boxes with handles sit under the window and I don’t expect to get rid of them.  Going out crafting with friends is still something I enjoy.

All of this cleaning, sorting, reorganizing, shopping and assembling has kept me from doing much crafting or blogging lately, but I know the energy and effort I’ve put into this big project is very well spent.  I will be creating in this space for years to come.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Roasted Root Vegetables

Corned Beef and Cabbage was on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day dinner at my parents house.  That  menu is usually rounded out with potatoes, carrots and onions.  I suggested roasting the veggies and my mom thought it was a great idea, especially since I was happy to do most of the cooking.

She had new potatoes, onions and carrots and I picked up parsnips and beets.  I also had a loaf of corn rye bread baked on Friday from Green Gulch Farm.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

A combination of root vegetables – I used the following but sweet potatoes and celery root would have both been good additions.

Carrots

Parsnips

New Potatoes

Beets (I used both gold and Chioggia Beets)

Olive Oil

Salt

Rosemary (optional)

Directions:

Set oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Scrub the carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  Scrub and trim the beets but don’t peel them – they will roast in foil and the skin slips off easily after roasting.

Trim off the long, thin roots from the beets. Tear off a large piece of foil and wrap one type of beets in it, crimping the sides.

I like to wrap them separately so the golden beets aren’t stained pink from the juices of the red beets.  If you have more than one type, wrap others in foil.  Put foil packet in a baking pan to catch drips, and put in oven.

Roast until tender.  This depends on the size of the beets – the smaller beets were done in about 40 minutes, the large ones took an hour.

Cut potatoes – if small just cut in half but larger ones can be cut into quarters or sixths.

If you are cooking at your parents house, pick some fresh rosemary from the beautiful plant in the backyard.  Don’t casually step from the terrace to the slippery wooden deck because you might fall.  It is better to be careful and go down the stairs holding the railing.

Cover large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and finely chopped fresh rosemary if using, and toss together. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

We were having onions with our dinner so before putting the pan in the oven I peeled two golden onions, cut them in wedges and added them to the end of the pan.

Peel the carrots and parsnips.

Trim the ends and cut into chunky pieces.  Put on parchment-covered baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and toss together.  Arrange in single layer and put in oven to roast.

After 10 or 15 minutes you can turn the vegetables but they’ll be ok if you just leave them to roast until they are tender. Start checking after 20 minutes or so.  They should be tender when tested with the tip of a knife. The onions were the first to come out of the oven, tender and sweet.

Take the beets out to check – carefully open foil and poke with a knife.  If they’re cooked through, let cool enough to handle and slip the skins off with your fingers.  Some may need a little trimming with a knife.

Next up – carrots and parsnips.

The potatoes finished last.

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and fragrant with rosemary.  I couldn’t resist a piece.

Boiled cabbage can get overcooked and soggy so though I’d never tried roasting cabbage I decided I’d give it a go. Though it was good, I should have cooked it longer.  Next time.

The finished meal: corned beef that my mom cooked surrounded by colorful and delicious roasted vegetables.

Sláinte!

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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

A bout of insomnia resulted in a batch of Irish Soda Bread this morning.  There are too many variations of soda bread to count, but this is a version of Joan’s Irish Soda Bread in Tom Hudgens The Commonsense Kitchen cookbook.  Both Joan and Tom are friends so I wanted to try out the recipe.

I omitted caraway seeds which I know are quite traditional but not our favorite.  The recipe called for vegetable oil and I only had olive oil so I used melted butter instead, and I made it with King Arthur whole wheat flour which isn’t heavy and grainy as some whole wheat flours can be.

Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen

3 cups whole wheat flour or a blend of wheat and white flour

2/3 cups sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. melted butter

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups raisins

Directions:

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two medium (4-cup) loaf pans.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs in a medium bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir a few strokes until starting to come together.

Add the raisins and continue mixing just until there is no dry flour left.  This comes together quickly so take care not to over-mix.

Divide the batter into the loaf pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 5 to 10 minutes in the pans and then remove from pans onto a rack to continue cooling.

Even if you don’t have insomnia, the Irish Soda Bread is worth making and a nice treat.  I am looking forward to trying it toasted tomorrow morning and it would be wonderful with marmalade.

If you want something a little more decadent, you might want to take a look at this recipe from last September: Mocha Guinness Cupcakes.

Of course you might not want to bake at all.  Maybe you’d enjoy a wee bit of green to get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

They say everyone is Irish on March 17.  Here is a cute redhead who isn’t Irish but maybe even she is on St. Patrick’s Day.

Whatever your plans, I wish you luck o’ the Irish, and offer this Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

And may the rain fall soft upon your fields.

Thank you for stopping by for a visit.

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Lucky Shamrock Card

This card uses two design components: paper strip hearts and itty bitty banners. I wrote  about the hearts in my very first craft post last year.  My friend Margaret came up with the idea and I love how it looks .  I’ve used it in many cards since she first showed me how.

For this card I put four little paper-strip-hearts together to form a shamrock, add a stem and a self-adhesive jewel embellishment, layer it onto orange and green paper and top it off with a greeting on an itty bitty banner.

Supplies:

8 1/2 ” x 5 1/2 ” bright green card stock, folded in half

5 3/4″ x 3 7/8″ darker green card stock

4 3/4″ x 3 3/4″ orange patterned paper (or other paper to layer on front of card)

thin scrap paper – as a base for your paper strips

green patterned paper – Double-sided paper is nice because it gives you two designs in one piece

paper trimmer

double-sided adhesive – I love Tombow permanent mono adhesive

scissors

heart-shaped punch – the one used here is about 1 1/8 inches across

self-adhesive jewel embellishment, optional

small glue dots

itty bitty banner greeting or rubber stamp and ink for greeting

Directions:

Cut the green patterned paper into thin strips using your paper trimmer.

Cover the scrap paper with adhesive.

Use the strips to cover the scrap paper completely making sure each strip is touching the next.

Trim the edges – this isn’t just being fussy but to make it easier to get the heart-shaped punch right up where you want it.

Hold the strip-covered paper and slide the heart punch onto it with the open side facing you so you can see exactly where you are punching.

Punch four hearts.

Assemble the card: layer the orange patterned paper onto the darker green card stock and layer that onto the bright green card front.

Adhere the four green hearts together to form a shamrock. Cut a stem from a scrap of patterned green paper and adhere it to the front of the card.

Add a self-adhesive jewel to the center of the shamrock.

Use small glue dots to adhere itty bitty banner (see this post for directions) with greeting above shamrock.

As always, stamp and sign or initial the back of the card to identify it as your handmade creation and pass it to a lucky recipient.

Here is another project using the paper-strip-hearts.  Cover two rectangles with paper strips in two different color.  In this example I used purple and green.

Punch a heart (this one is 1 5/8 inches across) out of each rectangle, centering it.  Switch the hearts.

Now you have the makings for two beautiful, intricate cards with this patchwork design.

Layer the paper-strip background with the paper-strip heart onto colored card stock and layer that onto your card.  Add an itty bitty banner greeting and other embellishments as desired.

Beautiful.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Itty Bitty Banners for Cards

I’ve been making these little banners and using them on a few cards lately.  I also used one in my Valentine Project for Rem.

This style of banner is right out of my doodle repertoire and reminds me of 7th grade and Pee Chee folders.  They are reminiscent of a tattoo design and make a great little embellishment on a card.

Supplies:

Heavy Watercolor Paper or Card Stock

Sharpie Markers

Colored Markers, optional

Diamond Glaze, or Crystal Effects (from Stampin’ Up!) or other dimensional adhesive

Toothpicks

Gold Marker or Paint Pen, optional

Scissors

Glue Dots

Note: I usually write out the greetings with Sharpie Markers.  You can also use Small Alphabet Stamps and stamp the greeting with Permanent Black Ink as I did in the Valentine banner.

Directions:

Using a thin, black Sharpie, draw a curved line on your paper.  Move your pen steadily, not too fast or slow.

In this example I had a wash of color on the left side of the paper, but it is not necessary.

Carefully write your greeting under the line using all caps.  Follow the curve of the line.

Now put a line underneath the writing that follows the curve of the first line and connect the top and bottom lines, enclosing the greeting.

Following the picture, add the little tails of the banner.  On one end I put lines above the main banner and at the other end I put the lines below.

Again, following the picture, connect the lines to complete the banner.  Each end has a sideways V and be sure to put the connecting line to the corner of the banner on each end which adds dimension visually.

I like to put a bright color on that little triangle bit that is the back of the banner, and I usually use a light colored marker to put color on each end of the banner.  This also helps to pop the main greeting forward.

Cut the banner out.  If desired you can outline the banner in gold with a thin, gold pen, or color the edge of the paper with gold.

You can use it just like this…

…or add the hard, glossy finish achieved with Diamond Glaze.

Put the banner on some scratch paper.  I make a few and add the glaze to a batch all at once.  Squeeze the first bit of glaze onto the scratch paper so you don’t get bubbles on your banner.  Squeeze out a layer of glaze onto the banner.

Toothpicks can be very helpful both in holding down the little banner and carefully spreading the glaze.  Be sure the glaze completely covers the banner all the way to the edge.

The glaze is cloudy when it is wet but will dry clear with a thick, glassy finish.

Once banner is dry, use glue dots to adhere it to your card.

Coming soon: a Shamrock Card with an Itty Bitty Banner.

Thanks for your visit.

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Wonderful Fried Egg Sandwich Recipe (and a Birthday)

My basic recipe for a great birthday is to figure out what you want to do, and do it. Where do you want to be? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be with?  What do you want to eat?  I know that we can’t always get what we want but I knew that being at work was not going to make it a special day for me.  So I took the day off on Friday to celebrate my birthday.

Rem asked if I wanted the “gym alarm” set and I decided that though I would go work out, I was going to just go when I woke up…which turned out to be 10 minutes later than the alarm would have rung.  It felt good to start the day with a workout especially because I knew I would be having some wonderful meals later.

Here is what 52 looks like, for me anyway, with no makeup, no Photoshop, nothing retouched, right after my shower.

Bathroom Mirror Self-Portrait. I’m 52 today.

Now it was time to fix a special breakfast.  Deb Perelman, who writes Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs, posted a Fried Egg Sandwich recipe last Monday.  I love fried eggs and I love fried egg sandwiches and when I read her recipe I knew it was what I wanted for my birthday breakfast.

This sandwich has the components of one of my very favorite lunch dishes, Salade Lyonnaise.  I’ve had it at Left Bank in Larkspur and it is a lovely combination of bitter greens (traditionally frisée, though escarole, dandelion, and arugula all work beautifully), crisp bacon,gently cooked egg and warm Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

The salad would be delicious with croutons (I can’t remember if it usually has them or not) and the toasted ciabatta roll which is the base of the sandwich made a great foundation and would make great croutons. I didn’t find any frisée (French curly endive) by itself at Safeway, so I got some spring mix and picked out lots of the frisée from my bag.  I could happily make it with arugula which I can get at Trader Joe’s but if you don’t like bitter greens this would also be very good with spinach.

I increased the bacon from the Smitten Kitchen recipe from one thick slice for two sandwiches to two thick slices for one sandwich.  I hardly ever buy bacon and I really wanted to enjoy it.  I also cut it into a large dice than the 1/4 inch pieces Deb suggests. Here is my (barely) adapted recipe.

Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Cheese

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cheese is not pictured above because I didn’t like the idea of blue cheese on this sandwich – I thought it would overwhelm the bacon-egg combo.  At the last minute I added some crumbled feta and it was delicious.

Ingredients:

1 ciabatta roll

About 1 cup frisée, spring mix with frisée, arugula or spinach torn into-bite size pieces

2 slices thick-cut bacon

1 teaspoon Dijonnaise (a combination of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise from Best Food’s that I love) or 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese if that appeals to you

butter

1 large egg

salt and pepper

I find eggs cook better if they are at room temperature (thank you Tom Hudgens from The Commonsense Kitchen).  I don’t usually remember to take the egg out of the fridge soon enough, so I put it in a bowl or measuring cup and cover with hot tap water for a few minutes before cooking.

Split the roll and toast it.

Put greens in a medium bowl. Cut bacon slices into 1 inch pieces and cook in a small, heavy pan over moderate heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels, and save the bacon fat in the pan. Stir the red wine vinegar into the bacon fat and let it bubble  for 20 to 30 seconds, then remove from heat and whisk in Dijonnaise. Immediately pour hot dressing over greens and toss together with with crisp bacon.

Lightly butter the toasted roll and mound the dressed salad on one half. Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese.

Wipe the frying pan with a paper towel so you don’t get scorched bits of bacon in your egg.  Reheat skillet over medium-high heat and add a pat of butter and swirl it to coat the pan. (Yes, you could spray your pan with non-stick spray and omit the butter but I figure you’re already in deep with the bacon and egg, you may as well enjoy every calorie). Crack the egg into the pan, season lightly with salt (with bacon and feta already in your sandwich, you probably don’t need much salt) and pepper and reduce heat to medium. At this point you want all your attention on cooking the egg.  My egg was cooked slightly more than I would have preferred, though it was still delicious, because I was opening a birthday present. Put a small lid over your egg and cook for one minute.  Remove the lid, flip the egg (you can turn off the heat at this point, the pan will stay hot enough) and cook 20 seconds more.

Put your perfectly cooked egg on top of the salad on the roll and top with the other half roll, and enjoy!

The beautifully wrapped birthday present I was opening contained this marvelous set of little painted pottery bowls.

Of course I had to have my fruit salad in one.  I love them!

After breakfast, I headed south to Filoli, in Woodside, California, about an hours drive from our apartment.

Rear View Mirror Self-Portrait.  Heading to Filoli.

Filoli is a country estate with 654 acres of land, a 36,000 square foot Georgian house and the part that I love, a beautiful 16-acre formal garden.

It was named by the first owner, William Bowers Bourne, by combining the first two letters from the key words of his credo:

“Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.”

I have been visiting Filoli for several years and I was hoping to see the Daffodil Meadow in bloom. The garden is beautifully maintained and constantly changing, so I knew it would be a good visit even if the daffodils weren’t in full flower.

This lovely arrangement greeted all visitors in the Visitor and Education Center – I couldn’t fail to see it was bursting with daffodils.

The grounds are calm and the garden is designed so vistas open to you as you wander between each area.  The main sound is birdsong and the air is fragrant with the scent of blooming flowers.  Potted daffodils were in profusion from these little miniature “Tiny Bubbles”,

to giant pots bursting with bright, cheerful blossoms.

I got to see the Daffodil Meadow in bloom.

It will be blooming for the next few weeks I would guess from all the buds I could see.  It was early for many of the flowers, but it was still beautiful. I circled around through the various garden spaces, past the swimming pool, around the terraces and back to Daffodil Meadow for another look.

Grape Hyacinth:

Filoli Self Portrait.

Parrot Tulips (also called Ruffled Tulips):

The Garden House:

The Garden Shop where I bought a cuff bracelet for myself:

The walking had whet my appetite so I finished my visit with lunch at the Cafe, turkey and Havarti panini with pesto and artichokes and a side salad:

Plus a slice of lemon cake:

Note: More pictures from my Filoli visit are here.

I did a little more shopping on the return trip to Marin and still had time for a pedicure before going out to dinner.

“Grand Canyon Sunset”

Rem and I went to Insalata’s in San Anselmo.

The lighting was low and romantic but not very helpful for pictures of our (mostly) delicious meal. I started with the Syrian Fatoush Salad and then had the Lamb Tagine.  Rem enjoyed Porcini Crusted Flatiron Steak. Though I loved the salad, I found the sauce with the lamb a bit too salty and I didn’t finish the sauce-soaked cous cous.

Which was a good thing.  Less cous cous meant more room for dessert.  We decided to split this one because the name alone was enough for me to want to give it a try.

“Happy as a pig in mud” always sounded pretty happy, relaxed and content.

This should have been called pig in mud since there was only one pig.  But the large shortbread cookie and the rich pudding was more than enough for us to share.

Until our waitress brought another dessert!  We really became the pigs at this point.

This decadent and delightful dessert was a triple chocolate torte with a burnt sugar caramel sauce and creme Chantilly. I could have licked the plate clean it was so good.  I was a very full but happy and content, much like a pig in mud.

Rem took these last photos when I was showing him the bracelet and two different necklaces I had bought for myself.

It had been quite a lovely birthday, punctuated with several wonderful phone conversations with friends and family, filled with love, beautiful flowers, delicious food and plenty of chocolate.  I was tired and happy.

Thank you for the visit.

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A Taste of Spring

Daffodils are linked in my mind with my birthday and the arrival of spring.  This year I visited Filoli in hopes of seeing the Daffodil Meadow in bloom.  I was not disappointed.

Daffodils were in lavish supply.

I’ve written more about my birthday this year here and have pictures of a past visit to Filoli here. I wish I could share the soft scented air and bird song that enhanced my visit.

Thank you for stopping by.

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