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Friday, January 30, 2015

And then there was one

The Writing Challenge prompt "And then there was one," ending with images that intrigue me.

And then there was one baby doll mugshot, a recent inmate on

And then there was one Pattern of the Day, let's lounge around in a 1970's housecoat. 

And then there was one orchid illustration

An orchid a day and some patterns will appear in the posts I am preparing for the AtoZ Blog Challenge in April.  I am No. 128 on the sign-up list this year.  Woot woot!

And then there was one wayward llama that keeps visiting the ranch.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The writing challenge prompt for the day is "Steamed," and that fits right in with my mood.  My Dell red XPS laptop blue screened, fatal errored and we all know what that means.  She is no more.  Granted I was running Vista (some of you may ask, "What is that?") and it took forever to get the old gal up and running.  

My new XPS will arrive in about two weeks.  I admit I am brand loyal.  This will be my third XPS laptop and they have all served me well.  I get to try out Microsoft Office 365 and the Windows 8.1 operating system.  I hope I don't regret that decision but I can always upgrade to 10.  

If you are in the market for a laptop

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Imagine that

The Writing Challenge prompt is "imagine that."  

Imagine that I have not worn a ring for nearly ten years, for various and sundry reasons.  I have missed it so and have decided it was time, time for a ring.  It was in part to celebrate completion of my one-year probation as a State employee and seemed an apt way to start 2015.

Oh, not just any ring but a pave of diamonds from the Le Vian Exotics line.   

I purchase fine jewelry in the days after Christmas when it is discounted to the lowest possible price.  While it is still outrageously expensive, this piece was worth the delight it will bring me for years to come.  

I have fallen in the love with the ring.  Irrevocably and totally in love.  It is like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings.

Imagine that.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

10 years ago, I was probably

The Writing Challenge prompt is "10 years ago, I was probably ...."

Climbing Mount Everest

Ok, probably not.  

Acting as lead singer for a Ska group

Another probably not - 

Ten years ago, I was probably listening to Right Said Fred.

(So I am a year off on time frame - still worth a revisit)

Ten years ago was not a good time in my life.  Thankfully, time, maturity and major changes have made for a better life for me today.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grow Your Blog and repairing a vintage baby quilt

It is blog-hopping time again with Vicki at 2 Bags Full.  

via phantomzucchini

To count myself worthy of this mainly fabric arts group, I complete at least one hand sewn project a year. This year's project was repairing my daughter's 25-year old baby blanket.  When she first brought it to me, I thought, "This thing should be thrown out."  It seemed it had sentimental value to her. Both sides of her vintage baby quilt were ripped from stem to stern and there were small holes and tears throughout. 

The floral print was a $1.50 remnant from the local thrift shop.  I made the patches and appliques by ironing in seams and trimming the corners then hand stitching to the fabric.

Pattern of the Day from 1967 

My recent thrift shop rescues - Madame ($5) and Fern ($2.50).

The Madame Alexander doll just required some bluing to brighten the dress.
Fern was embellished with a doll skirt and costume bracelet around her neck.

The week's thrift shop finds totaled less than $20 for 4 dinner plates in my stoneware pattern, an black and white orchid pot, and a Charter Club cashmere *sings the word* sweater and a scarf.

I am looking forward to visiting the others participating in this event.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bears, beans and beer

Bears, Beans and Beer is the Writing Challenge Prompt.  This happy guy is a permanent resident at our house, a full-size bear rug that hangs above the big screen TV.  Mr. VZ bagged this bear in the Mokelumne Wilderness, in Northern California.  

He scouted the bear for three weeks.  As he hiked back into the back country, he decided to stay alongside a creek.  The day was turning very cold.  When he awoke there was a light covering of snow on the ground.  He struggled to light the campfire to get a cup of warm coffee and ate a three-day old donut.  He walked down the trail and noticed a pile of steaming scat.  He stopped and looked around.  He saw tracks going toward the outside of a clearing.  At the clearing was an outcrop of rocks that ascended about 200 feet. He slowly entered the timber and stayed in the shadows of the trees while watching the clearing.  All of a sudden, the bear started running towards the tree.  He made a mad dash to intersect the bear.  The bear turned and headed back into the clearing, he started to climb up the rocks and then suddenly he stopped.  From the shadows he could see the bear had sensed Mr. VZ's presence and was sniffing the air.  The bear stood up and put his paws on top of a boulder, Mr. VZ raised his gun, the first shot hit the bear square in the lungs.  The power gush of blood came out of the bear's mouth along with a deep roaring scream.  The hairs on the back of Mr. VZ's neck stood up and he could feel the sweat going down his back.  The bear collapsed.  Mr. VZ stood very still and watched to see any movement.  He waited between 5 to 10 minutes to approach the bear.  With pistol in hand, he cautiously approached the bear from behind.  He picked a rock up and threw it at the bear to see if there was any reaction.  There was none.  This is where the real work started.  Mr. VZ hiked back to camp and got his horse. He grabbed a set of paniers and boned the bear out, left the carcass behind and took all the meat and hide.  He smoked the meat with the fire all night long.   

At the time of the bear's demise, he was 12 years old and 450 pounds.  He did not live his life in vain, he was eventually consumed ... with beans and beer.  

Adding a recipe from the 1950 publication Ford Treasury of Famous Eating Places.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Organizing and tipping over to the other side

"Organizing" is the day's prompt for the Writing Challenge.

Edna had meant to start organizing but the stuff just kept on multiplying.  She couldn't remember when it went from sketchy to dire.  Was it after the death of the Mr.?  The kids had stopped calling a long time ago.  The friends had stopped coming by or just couldn't come by.

She was a child born just prior to the Great Depression.  Finding her solace in the thrift shops, she would bring home bags of treasures. She had long since given up sleeping in the bedroom.  The room had morphed into a stuffed animal purgatory.

The kitchen had gone from tidy to unusable.  Bags and bags filled to the brim were everywhere.  Collecting had long ago jumped shark into hoarding.  There were magazines and newspapers she would never read, cookbooks she would not use.

There was room, just enough for her to sit in front of the TV.  It was where she slept, sitting up.  The amalgamation was more important than her own personal comfort.

She would like to have a pet, but the responsibility of caring for herself was nearly too much.  Her collections made her happy and that was all that really mattered.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10 Tips for the Newbie Blogger

"Newbies" is the Writing Challenge prompt that I have expanded to 10 Tips for the Newbie Blogger.  

To give some credence to my tips, I must reveal I am not a newbie blogger.  I had a "starter" blog that I ran for two years, pulled the plug on it and began this current blog that I have now maintained going on four years. Blogger lists my page views at 130,000+ and Google+ lists my page views at 1,062,000+.

No. 1:  Remember blogging is a platform.  You can start with the gem of an idea in mind and use the forum to expand your audience.  My blog began as a showcase for thrift shop finds.  While that was all well and good, it was limiting.  No one is going to give you demerits if you don't stick to your blog's original premise. 

No. 2:  There are no rules.  I have combined blog hops, and why not?  Do I post daily?  Sometimes.  Do I take months off?  Yes, to rest and rejuvenate.  Blogging can be exhausting, especially when one is participating in challenges (either writing or photography).  Month-long challenges garner new readers and don't forget to visit other challenge participants and comment.

No. 3:  Blogs come and go, bloggers lose interest in their own blogs and it is no wonder their audience loses interest too.  Retain a passion for what you are blogging about. 

No. 4:  Comments from your readers are always nice but the real goal is to have your post shared and linked.  Write content that engages your audience and the shares will come. 

No. 5:  It does help if you are part of a tribe or blogging community but that only gains you readers within that limited realm.  Seek out different audiences and unique blog challenges so you are not circling around the same group of people. 

No. 6:  When you do comment on other blogs, include a link to your last post.  Others read comments and will click onto your link if you've piqued their interest. 

No. 7:  Make your format and font easy to read and eye appealing.  I try to emulate blogs and bloggers that I admire.  I am constantly tweeking my blog format, either to wrap in a holiday or to make it look more professional. 

No. 8:  Your audience likes to know who YOU are, include an "About Me" section and an image of yourself.  If you are blog shy and only post images of your headless torso, readers tend to lose interest. 

No. 9:  No matter how you look at it blogging is writing (unless you are just posting to Instagram), so hone your writing and grammar skills.  The quickest way to irk an English major (or any reader) is with awful writing and horrible grammar.

No. 10:  Set up automatic feeds from your blog to Facebook and Twitter or other social media.  It is an easy way to expand your audience without creating extra work. 

Blogging can be a blast and soon you will move from Newbie Blogger to Blogger Extraordinaire!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Word for the Year

The Writing Challenge prompt is "Word for the Year." My word for this year is:

I have scads of it, way too much of it.  When I left my private practice job as a law firm administrator, my previous boss asked me how I would be happy at a public sector entry level job and I told him I would have to "claw my way back to the top."  That really is not my style, I am competitive though. 

I have fulfilled my year long probation as a State of California employee.  I went from a private office to working in a hallway, from supervising employees to being supervised, from worrying about whether I will continue to have a job to knowing I will always have one.  

The name of the game to promote within the State is to become list eligible or to qualify for certain positions.  Once you are on the list, you can send in an application packet when the position is posted. Since October I have gained entry onto six lists, mainly in the analyst/management realm, mailing out on average four application packets per week. I think of it as a job lottery.  Some of the Departments that interest me are:

Agricultural Labor Relations Board
California Community Colleges
California High-Speed Rail Authority
Department of Conservation
Department of Education
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Department of Insurance
Department of Justice
Department of Human Resources
Department of Managed Health Care
Department of Social Services
Department of Technology
State Compensation Insurance Fund
State Water Resources Control Board

There are over 500 State agencies.  

Those that become attached to the Department they are currently working for and only apply for positions within that Department lessen their odds of promoting. The outcome of non-promotion for a long term employee can sometime result in one having a disgruntled attitude.  

I will keep you posted on whether my theory is correct that multiple list eligibility and application submissions will result in a plum promotion.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Morning After

The writing prompt of "The Morning After" and I am drawing a blank other than this song by Maureen McGovern.

I am claiming the little known Free Pass rule of the challenge (yes, I make these rules up as we go along ...)  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dishing the Dirt with Lurleen

The Writing Challenge prompt is "Dishing the Dirt," wouldn't you know it, Lurleen showed up for this one.

Got anything you want snipped?

(Sung to the tune Jolene)

Lurleen, Lurleen, Lurleen, Lurleen,

I'm begging of you please don't dish the dirt

Lurleen, Lurleen, Lurleen, Lurleen

Please don't say you did my hair

Your beauty is beyond compare

With flaming locks of pink and black hair

With ivory skin and bloodshot eyes

Your smile is like a crooked path

Your voice grates from your beloved Marlboros

And I cannot compete with you, Lurleen

You dishing the dirt like that

There's nothing I can do to keep

From crying when the gossip gets back to me, Lurleen

And I can easily understand

How you could easily talk the trash

But you don't know what it means to me, Lurleen.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Favorite Article of Clothing for the Winter

The Writing Challenge prompt - without a doubt, my favorite article of clothing is my full-length cashmere *sings the word* coat.  It has been one of my clothing staples for at least 10 years.  It was a lifesaver in the bitter cold of the Great Lakes, north of Chicago, Illinois, when I saw my son graduate from Naval basic training.  

This image was taken near the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ten hotdogs and I cheated on this prompt

The Writing Challenge prompt is "Ten hotdogs" Rather than try and recreate the wheel, I will defer to one of the experts - Rachael Ray and her hot-dog embellishments.  

Hot Dog #1 - the Deli Dog topped with egg salad.  Interesting.

Hot Dog #2 - the Seattle dog, topped with grilled onions and jalapenos.  I am not sure how this relates to Seattle in any way.  I'm a Seattle native and never encountered this hot dog embellishment.

Hot Dog #3 - the Nacho dog.

Hot Dog #4 - the Pesto dog.

Hot Dog #5 - the Pastrami Reuben dog, a slice of melted Swiss cheese over pastrami, topped with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.  

Hot Dog #6 - The Pickle dog.

Hot Dog #7 - The Pimento Cheese dog - spread with pre-prepared pimento cheese spread and crushed Ritz crackers. 

Hot Dog #8 - Hummus Deluxe dog - spread with hummus, topped with roasted red peppers and sprinkled with paprika.

Hot Dog #9 - The Buffalo dog.  No, not made with buffalo meat (even though that would make an interesting eat), but rather topped with a relish of chopped carrots, celery and hot sauce, topped with blue cheese crumbles.

Hot Diggity Dog #10 - The French onion dog, of all the Rachael Ray dogs, this would be the one I would try.  Topped with melted gruyere cheese and carmelized onions.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What is "Chill" and How Do I Do It?

The Writing Challenge writing prompt of the day, "Chill, what is it and how do I do it?" My interpretation of the word will be within the fashion realm, "chill" being one is so confident in the day's fashion ensemble, the state of Chill is achieved.  

I compiled an outfit in the Pantone color of the year for Spygirl's 52-pick-me-up-pantone-party-2015.  Color of the year is Marsala. My mission was to find the Pantone color via thrift.  I found a Jessica McClintock evening gown and a Coldwater Creek jacket (grand total $13).

Barbie styling the color of the year.
She was a thrift shop find.  I bought her for her "retro" looks.
I suspect her hair was cut and her head was placed on a later version Barbie.

1959 Pattern of the Day - picking up the Pantone color.

I am also chillaxin with the Visible-monday crowd and their OOTD (outfits of the day).  Patti is also hosting a Karina dress giveaway.

Finally, a majorly Chill Gal is Jes at The Militant Baker is asking her readers to resolve to Love The Mirror.  


Love Your Body and What You See ... Just As You Are Now

Not Later.  Not "After."


Jes posts "Our bodies are installation art that we curate publicly."

This year will you love that image of yourself in the mirror?  

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest and Ode to Platinum Hair

Linking up with a great gal, L.G. Keltner, for her ~

This link just has to be shared and fits right in the sarcasm theme,

Prompt of "Invisible."  

Ode to Platinum Hair

My platinum hair - I've earned the right to wear it.
While it sometimes make me feel invisible,
I cannot deny my youth has passed on by.

I'm free to wear the clothes that would have caused disdain,
if worn to meetings at the P.T.A. (parent teachers association).
It's my hair, you see, that has caused me to be this way.

Who is that person I see in window-front reflections?
That platinum-haired person passing by?  Sweet Mother of Francis Ford Coppola, it's me!  

But that hair, shining pure white in the day's light, realizes discounts of the senior citizen kind.  While I still feel like I'm that brunette from days gone by, it is my platinum hair that keeps my spry.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Travel and continuing on with the chill

The Writing Prompt is "Travel."  Having started a new job a year ago, I haven't had much opportunity to travel.  I do have my bucket list of locations I would like to visit and they are:

1.  Cuba.  Now that the "chill" is ending with that country, it appears as though I may be able to visit. 

2.  Chile.  From what I have read, the climate in Chile is similar to Northern California ... and they have salmon, one of my fav foods.

3.  New Orleans.  I have always wanted to visit New Orleans, Louisiana, NOT during Mardi Gras but off season.

4.  Puerto Rico.  One advantage to this location is it is a territory of the U.S. 

5.  Hawaii.  I would at least like to say I visited one of the islands.  I hear Kauai is the one to see.  

What travel places are on your bucket list?  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Willy Wonka's Greatest Candy Making Secret

Candy, how does Willy Wonka do it?  And what is his greatest candy making secret?  Since candy making is especially magical at the Wonka candy making factory, the greatest candy making secret is the troll candy making personnel.

Yes, the trolls come to life at the Wonka factory.  Course, there is no accounting for their terrible fashion sense.  I will give them points for the colored hair being on trend.    

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Winter Comfort Food

The Writing Challenge prompt is "Favorite Winter Comfort Food." 
Since I am not a food blogger, I find it difficult to wax poetic about it.  I would rather be eating it than writing about it and food in general is difficult to photograph. 

This recipe is from the 1950 Ford Treasury of Famous Recipes from Famous Eating Places.  I snuck in a few of these recipes during the last writing challenge.  What I like about this book is the artwork on each page with each recipe.  

My father was Czech.  His mother dearly loved kolacky.  She was not supposed to eat it, that calorie-laden dessert, but she did anyway.  

And Hi-de-ho to visitors from the Czech republic, that country is coming in at number three after the U.S. and France for visitors to my blog.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Spilled Milk

This is Day One of a Writing Challenge with the day's prompt being "Spilled Milk."  

I am going to cry over spilled milk!  How do I contend with these odd, unusual and near impossible prompts (listed below).

  • January 5: Spilled milk
  • January 6: Favorite winter comfort food
  • January 7: Willy Wonka’s greatest candy making secret
  • January 8: Travel
  • January 9: Invisible
  • January 12: What is “chill” and how do I do it?
  • January 13: Ten hotdogs
  • January 14: Favorite article of clothing for the winter
  • January 15: Dishing the dirt
  • January 16: The morning after
  • January 19: Word for the year
  • January 20: Newbies
  • January 21: Organizing
  • January 22: Bears, beans and beer
  • January 23: Frosty
  • January 26: 10 years ago, I was probably ___________
  • January 27: The awkward dinner party
  • January 28: Imagine that…
  • January 29: Steamed
  • January 30: And then there was one

I took this image on July 29, 2014, near the Sacramento Convention Center.   There was a group protesting something about cows and cheese and they were dedicated.  Dedicated because those folks in the cow suits endured late summer temperatures in the 90-100 degree range.  I am particularly impressed by the mounted police keeping watch over this suspicious gathering.  

My goal of this challenge is to post for each prompt.  I may not write a lot and may include an image or two.  

I've decided I won't cry over spilled milk.  Let the Challenge begin!