Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumnal decorations fill my flat, autumn meals bubble in my kitchen

I know this is late going online today.  I promised myself that I would be up early and moving at the speed of light or at least fast enough to keep up with Molly Cat.  Such was not the case.  I seem to get a series of nights where I am unable to sleep and life goes awry with me trying to play catch up.  I firmly resolve to get back on track this week.  Knowing that I have to be up early tomorrow to take Molly for her appointment to get  her annual vaccines along with a check up, should help to get the day off to a good start.  The appointment is for 9 a.m. and so I will need to be up no later than 7 a.m. to get ready and then capture the little rascal to get her into her carrying cage will keep me moving at a good clip.  I am already praying that the kindly vet will proclaim that Molly is a healthy little imp with all her vitals being normal.  The only problem we might be scolded on is that Molly has an appetite for popcorn as do I.  Generally, most nights I make up a bag of microwave popcorn and my little companion holds me hostage until I dole out a handful of the fluffy popped kernals of goodness that she so enjoys.  How bad can a little popcorn be for a cat?  Well, I suppose that tomorrow we will both find out.

I  made up a series of autumnal wreaths for some friends this week.  They purchase the materials or have me do this and reimburse me the cost plus a little extra for making up the decorations for them.  Generally, the cost to my friends is less than what they would pay if they had a shop make up these wreaths for them.  The plus side for me is that I get to keep my hand in the floral industry which I love and I work with materials that I very much enjoy.  Set me lose in a shop containing ribbons and you might not see me for days.  Every piece of ribbon is used, none goes to waste, just as my treasure trove of Japanese papers is utilized to the max.  I have even found paper punches in various sizes of flowers that I use on scraps of paper and ribbon so that I have little decorations for greeting cards, but that is a whole other entry for my blog.  Suffice it to say that I am frugal and make the most of every piece of material going into my floral pieces.  Little strands of grapevine can be wound around gourds, miniature pumpkins or worked into another piece as accents and painted a contrasting colour.  Autumn is a time of colour and I make full use of all colours, mainly darker hues, to show the best that Mother Nature has to offer at this time of year.

I am also getting back into cooking heartier meals.  My soups tend to acquire handfuls of barley, rice, beans or other additions that make a bowl of hearty goodness into a full meal when a piece or two of crusty bread are dipped into the broth.  I love soup.  It makes me feel warm, happy, at peace.  When the day has gone along in a manner that does nothing to soothe the soul, there is nothing like a bowl of warm, homey goodness to bring you back to your happy place.  I firmly believe that if everyone sat down to a bowl of soup every day, there would be much happier and healthier people out and about.

Are you at a loss for some wonderful soup recipes?  Not everyone has a family collection of soups and so my suggestion is to turn to the most wonderful and gracious Julie Anne Rhodes who runs a personal chef operation in Los Angeles, California.  Known on Twitter as @JulieAnneRhodes, she also has a web site where you can read her blog and join in a community of people devoted to making good, healthy food.  Check out and read her blog accompanied by a recipe suitable for the season.  If you choose to go one step further, you can become a premium member for an extremely nominal price and have access to weekly menus that include shopping lists and details for freezing the meals.  The Personal Chef Approach teaches you that spending a few hours on a weekend in the kitchen can translate into 8 - 10 hours saved on weeknights since when you get home from work, you have a meal ready to pop in the oven or microwave instead of starting from scratch or resorting to the take out menus.  You not only save money, but time.  That time is better spent with your family, catching up on the goings on of the day or even supervising the inevitable homework.  Think about it, go to Julie Anne's web site and read her blog.  This lady is immensely sensible and can help you get your act in gear and get eating healthy meals without a horrendous expenditure of time.

What else am I up to?  Besides cooking, I am making up some holiday tree ornaments, each of them hand sewn.  Gingerbread boys, houses, and angels are being cut out of felt and stitched lovingly together.  Each year, I like to come up with a new theme for my holiday celebrations and I suspect that these handmade treasures will be part of the homespun theme for this year.  I like to make gifts for people that I know will enjoy them.  There are always those whom I know to be more enticed by a store bought ornament or gift and I try to accommodate them, but sometimes it just cannot be done.  I like to give things that friends or family will enjoy and can use and so in some cases when I know that someone has more decorations than necessary, I resort to baking mountains of cookies, treats and so on.  Sadly, fruit cake is no longer enjoyed by many.  I love fruit cake, but it is not worth making it for myself and my friends are those who do not enjoy a slice of this rich treat.  And so, I generally purchase one from a shop, but it never really tastes like the ones from my childhood.  Maybe this will be the year that I find a recipe that makes just a loaf or two and tastes like the fruit cakes of my childhood.  I remember my mum starting her baking in October so that the fruit cakes would have a chance to mellow.  She would soak the fruit in some sort of liquor and then blend it in the batter.  After the cakes were baked, she would wrap them securely and freeze them until the holidays.  I somehow think she may have wrapped the cakes in brandy soaked cheesecloth, but cannot be sure of this as it was many years ago, the early 1960's to be exact.

So this is how my week has played out.  I anticipate more holiday decorations over the next week along with cards, tree ornaments and a few other surprises.  Meanwhile, I will put up some pics of the wreaths that were made along with a picture of my mum circa the late 1930's.  I do not look at all like her.  I remember her as being tallish, slim, elegant - none of these words describe me in the least.  She was a lady and I am more often a nondescript middle aged woman wandering about in track pants and a hoodie.  While I do clean up well when there is the need, in my lifestyle, the artist in me requires old, washable clothes that can go the distance.  Mum would frown, but maybe she might have a smile on her face, watching the youngest of the brood happily splashing paint about, getting her hands covered in ink, glue and other artsy elements.  I really hope that this is what she is thinking as she watches over me.

I just picked up a copy of a new book -  Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald.  I am just getting into this and will let you know how it is changing my thoughts on the way I usually journal.  Quinn is also on Twitter so check out her tweets and follow her blog.  I think you will find her information interesting and perhaps decide that the art of journaling is something that you might want to try.

That is it for me this week!  I hope you got some inspiration, some ideas or thoughts to ponder from this post.  I would love to hear from you and definitely want to know what you think.  Do not be shy, I read and ponder every comment and reply to them all.  Take a moment to jot down what you liked or didn't like.  Maybe, I can persuade one of my friends to take on a guest post to give another side of the artistic journey, give another perspective and let us get this journey into high gear.  So much to learn, to practise, to do.  I must be getting my second wind as I am feeling excited by the thoughts of all I want and need to get working on.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

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