Thursday, April 20, 2017

New England Clam Chowder with a Texas Twist

I made a New England Clam Chowder for dinner, my first one! I used Bobby Flay's as a base, but varied a few things.

Mise en place...


Littleneck clams which I had steamed...



Sweet potatoes were Bobby Flay's idea. Cilantro was mine...


I baked some cornbread to go with it...


It was delicious!


Next time I'm going to add a touch of smoked chipotle pepper.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere Recitation

Here's a flashback for my blog readers, dating back to 2008 when my daughter gave a poetry recitation for our American Revolution dialectic history presentation. The poem? Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Why am I doing a flashback? Because last year I was on the booklaunch team for Eric Metaxas' If You Can Keep It. In the big he made a big deal about memorizing this poem as one way to build patriotism.

Well, this year, Eric Metaxas ran a contest for young people who recite this poem, in order to commemorate Paul Revere's ride of April 18, 1775. In fact I got a cute e-mail from Eric Metaxas, of him in caricature, as Paul Revere! Wish I could share that, but you can see the videos here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shabby Chic Baskets for Laundry Room Organization


I've been busy this month with more spring cleaning and organizing. It's been a slow process since I often get interrupted to drive my kids here to there. At least I have finally finished my laundry room closet. I miss my laundry room in Texas. It wasn't ideal, but neither is this. Of all the houses we looked at in Virginia, only one had a great laundry room. It was perfect! It was even ideally placed, between the kitchen and garage, exactly where it was in my Texas house. It even had a sink and countertops. Now that's ideal! Well, I am glad for this.

Laundry storage, as usual, was a challenge. While cleaning out this closet, I recalled a friend asking how I organized laundry. In each home I've had, I've had unique hamper scenarios. They are key. I have a hamper, now a basket, for each sorting of laundry. One for darks, one for lights, one for whites and one for linens.

The baskets on top of the washer and dryer (which I love did my cat when we first got them) I've had since Texas days. Love, love, love them. Bye, bye hampers. Recently I found the wire basket on the floor to the right of the closet. That holds the linens.

With all the laundry presorted, conquering is faster and easier.

Someday when we do more upgrades, I'd like ceramic tile to replace the vinyl on the floor of the closet. I'd love to have those new type of barn sliding doors to replace the ones here, however I don't think it will work with the particular placement of this closet in the basement. Oh well for that design idea. I'd also like to  have upper cupboards. When I lived on base in Wichita Falls years ago, one of  our upgraded houses had brand new upper cupboards in the laundry room and I loved it. Of course then I'd have to get rid of the bottom storage drawers. So be it. Whenever these machines need to be replaced, I don't plan to get the drawers. The drawers are always specific to any new model. There is so much wasted space overhead that I could make great use of.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pink Moon...and Phlox

Because today was so busy I didn't get my daily walk in until after the sun set. That made me sad because I like to see all the spring flowers making their appearance. Nevertheless, a "good stretch of the legs" is always a good thing. My family joined me but we took my personal route, which is rare. I'm glad we did, or we would have missed a big surprise! When we turned around a corner we saw not only our house but the Pink Moon rising quite near it. It was huge and bright!

We ran into the house to grab my camera. I had few hopes of great pictures, but nothing ventured nothing gained. We walked back up to the street corner and I used my daughter's head to set my camera upon to steady it in the dark.

So...which one of these is not a lamp?


Peaking between our house and the neighbor's...


Zooming in...


We walked a bit further down the street to take these shots. Here it is rising over a house in the distance...


Ooops...but pretty neat double take!


Hmmm, wonder if I can zoom in?


Wow! Wonder if I can zoom in more?


Wow! My Canon Power Shot did this!


Although the pictures aren't grand, I can't complain, especially since my camera is merely a point and shoot!

The sky around the moon actually did look pink. That didn't show up in the pictures. Actually, the moon should not look pink. The Pink Moon got its name from the from the Native Americans who recorded time by seasons and the moon. They gave each moon a name. The Pink Moon appears each April. Instead of referring to the color of the moon, it "heralds the appearance of moss pink, or ground phlox-one of the first spring flowers. It is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon." (The Old Farmer's Almanac) Well grass is certainly greening up here in Northern Virginia. Of all the names, I definitely like Pink Moon the best. The colonists picked up on these names from the Native Americans.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tornadoes Galore in Northern Virginia

Yesterday Northern Virginia was beset with numerous tornadoes. Thankfully they weren't any stronger than F0. They came as a complete surprise to me.

I've lived in the depths of Tornado Alley so I'm familiar with signs. However I thought we were merely having an ordinary thunderstorm. In fact, I was enjoying watching the storm from the basement picture window (the basement walks out into the backyard) while I was folding laundry.

Suddenly I saw two parts of our copper roof from the living room blow into the backyard while I saw a giant trampoline slam into our fence. We get a lot of winds around here which come in all forms, sometimes straightline and other times rotational, so there was nothing definitive in the winds at this point. Neither was the sky gravely dark or eerie.

Shortly after that I heard hail. Thankfully it was only the size of peas. With hail often comes that was my first alert.

I went upstairs to my computer to look at the radar on my laptop. I accessed the radar on weather underground where I saw a hook echo. That was my second alert.

By now the worst of the storm had passed, so I went outside to collect the roof parts and survey the damage.


It was still windy, causing these parts to flap and make a lot of noise.



I found the two roof parts and put them under the deck.


I was a bit damp when I returned inside. Then I spent some time checking Capital Weather Gang on my laptop for any reports. About then is when I saw an e-mail come in from the local junior college with an alert that we were under a Tornado Warning. That was my third alert...and a definitive one at that.

I found out there were sightings and winds all over Northern Virginia. A few more waves of storms came through but they were much gentler. That evening our roof was fixed.

After dinner I went for a walk and saw this tree damage. It is across the street from us and I found out the trampoline belongs up on that hill. I'm guessing that the trampoline hit this branch, then veered off up the street then between two houses, before finally blowing towards my backyard and slamming into my fence. 


Here are two interesting videos I've found so far. If I find more interesting stuff I'll add it to the bottom as I find them.

Here is one video from Capital Weather Gang (via Ryan Lyk) of a funnel cloud over Washington DC...

And another from the National Park Service on the National Mall taken from the Jefferson  Memorial...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Washington DC, Pentagon, and Jinny Beyer Quilt Row

Last summer I participated in the national Row by Row by collecting free patterns from various quilt shops in Virginia. (I won!) However I saved the Jinny Beyer row to do separately. I bought the kit, available here. Her batiks were too gorgeous to pass up!


An intricate design requires intricate instructions which do not fail. Jinny Beyer's directions have always proved successful for me. I labeled all the itty bitty parts meticulously!


Ta da! Actually I only managed to complete the top in time for Christmas. Last weekend I finished the rest of the row, adding batting and backing which I bound.







Saturday, April 1, 2017

En Plein Air-My First Lesson

Today I attended a free event at Manassas Battlefield, for a plein air class...or Nature Journaling, by their first Artist in Resident, Roxanne Steed.

I've long wanted to learn how to be an artist. What began as a natural curiosity bloomed into deeper earnest when I began sewing and wearing historical clothing to enhance my teaching of history. Ladies of the past learned art. I thought it would be great to add to my interpretation.  

I was quite excited to learn that Roxanne is from Connecticut, where I have traveled to Mystic Seaport. My time at Connecticut was absolutely lovely. I'd love to travel there again, capturing memories of the lovely scenery with paint and brush.

But first, I needed to learn how. I am not an artist. I've never had an art lesson. Did I even belong here? We were quickly assured that this event was for both the artist and non-artist. Roxanne made our beginning journey quite accessible.

I have quite the collection of art supplies, purchased in our homeschooling days. My son is quite the artist, but I am not. I actually brought only the watercolor pencils, since I've always thought they'd be simplest to use when out and about. I also brought the lavender notebook.  (The rest I added to my collection after her class...because my notebook does not have a strong enough weight for watercolor, I learned.)

1B-Roxanne Steed Nature Journal Workshop

I drove to the infamous Stone Bridge at Manassas Battlefield on April 1. The trick of the day was the weather. Although it should be spring, it felt more like winter. Because of the late winter, the bluebells were not yet out in their typical spring profusion.

1-Roxanne Steed

Roxanne gave us some beginning overview of watercolor nature journaling.  And surprise...she featured water color pencils due to their ease of use for us beginners!

2-Roxanne Steed

After walking to the Stone Bridge, we gathered around Roxanne while she demonstrated all she had discussed in the parking lot.

3-Roxanne Steed

She showed us some of the journaling she had already done from other spots around the battlefield earlier in the week.

4-Roxanne Steed

And yet another scene from another part of the battlefield...

5-Roxanne Steed

And yet another...

6-Roxanne Steed

Roxanne's portable paint studio...

7-Roxanne Steed

Even though she invited us to begin painting, we preferred to watch her paint the Stone Bridge. I learned I don't have to stress every single detail.

8-Roxanne Steed

A few bluebells were out, in their colorful array of blues, pinks, and purples.

9-Bluebells at the Old Stone Bridge Manassas Battlefield

I settled on this. Here is the watercolor pencil part...

10-My Watercolor Pencil Sketch of Bluebells at the Old Stone Bridge Manassas Battlefield which I later applied water.

My Watercolor via watercolor pencils Bluebells at Old Stone Bridge Manassas Battlefield

Perhaps not bad for a first try?

In May I attended another class led by the second Artist in Resident, who happened to be a student in this class. Stay tuned for that!