Friday, March 30, 2018

Fancy Feet

We had a new adventure today.  It's the first day of Spring Break and two days before Easter so fancy feet are in order.  I took the girls for a pedicure.  Not lost on them at all was the pampering part of the experience.  When I told them we were going to do this today Elizabeth said she had always wondered what a pedicure was like.
 They loved the bubble bath for their feet
 They loved the massage chair
 This was like a wall of candy to them.
 Maybe not educational reading material but oh, well

 After the leg massage, the pampering and the funny flip flops they wait for their toes to dry a little. 

 Elizabeth declared, "THIS is the start of a new tradition!"
 We came home and I put them to work. "Grandma could you not film this and help instead?"  Nope. They were doing just fine on their own.
A dozen eggs to decorate to add to the onion skin dyed eggs I did yesterday, and pretty toes and we're set for Sunday.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Sometimes you give in and make an extravagant purchase.  Extravagance is relative.  It means different things to different people.  To me it can mean seeing something and not being able to forget it till it's mine.  Sometimes I can talk myself out of it but my baseline is, "will I have a bigger headache if I DO it or if I DON'T?"  Sometimes I just can't stop thinking of it and so give in. Not always, but sometimes.
 That's what happened with this pan.  The company knew what they were doing when they waved this in front of me.  I'm in my bee mode.  Lately, bee things just jump in front of me.  This pan was not something I've ever seen before but I'm a baker and this is made by a very reputable cake pan company and for a couple of weeks I tried to talk myself out of it.  By my standards it was an expensive extravagance.  I looked on Amazon and they weren't offering it for any less.  They were offering silicone forms for very cheap and I bought one.  You do get what you pay for. I sent it back the minute I opened the package. I took the leap and sent for this.  Then I got baking.
 This was the cake made from the recipe that came with the pan.  I wasn't excited about the look. Because it was a very spongy cake the definition of the bees and combs was too vague.
 And it made a huge amount of batter thus a very tall cake.  I had batter enough left over for a whole other layer cake. 
 This was the result from the recipe that was on the King Arthur website that featured the pan.   I knew not to fill the pan so full and there wasn't as much batter with this recipe.  Both are glazed with a honey lemon glaze.
 I sent the results down the street to my taste testers - my daughter and son-in-law.  They liked the texture of the lighter cake but the taste of the darker one. They hid it from the girls. No sharing.

 Then I tried a shortbread cookie recipe and it was the clear winner.  When I sent a couple of the cells to work with my daughter she said she ate both of them immediately and then after the event I made them for she took the rest home. 
As a treat I frosted the bottoms with two icings, one chocolate and this one, slightly lemon.  and no, I didn't use it for Easter. 

Monday, March 26, 2018


Just came home from our spring retreat at our favorite place, The Inn at the Rustic Gate.  Our group was smaller this year because Marilyn and Jan were sick but the rest of us had a great time.  Peaceful, stimulating conversations, tender loving care from the innkeepers, the singing of the birthday song, the whirring of sewing machines and lots of productivity.

I'm going to just show here, without comments, some of the things we worked on.  

Below are things we shared for show and tell.  A few were made this weekend, most were made when three of our group went on a quilt cruise in January.

 Sally deals in eentsy weentsy. These are one inch squares.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New book

New book, sunny window, comfy chair, Thursday.

This is the new book by Fredrik Backman. You know him as the author of A Man Called Ove,  My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie was Here, Beartown.  I truly stood at my window waiting for the UPS man to deliver this advance copy from the publisher.  It will be published in June and that's when my blog will be posted but I can't wait to tell you it's coming.  It gives you time to read his other books if you haven't yet.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Friend Marge and I took a class in decorating Pisanki eggs this morning.  These are the intricately designed eggs we see at Easter, most commonly in the multi-colored Ukranian tradition. The Ukranian eggs are usually done with hollowed out eggs  because the dye they use renders the egg inedible.  These were done in the Polish way with natural dyes and simpler designs.  The tradition in Poland is to make the eggs as an Easter offering to members of a family after they were blessed at the Holy Saturday blessing of food.  Families had their own designs, names were etched on, motifs meant different things.

For a stylus a pin is stuck into the eraser of a pencil.  The larger the head of the pin the better.  We were told that it's getting hard to find large headed pins so if you are cleaning out a grandmother's sewing basket, look for large headed pins!  Like wooden spools, they're a thing of the past.

 Dip the end of the pin into hot wax and make your design swipe on your egg. Dip, swipe, dip, swipe. One dip per swipe.  The wax dries fast on the head of that pin and the smaller headed pins don't hold a lot of wax.
 After the design is complete the egg is dipped into the dye.
This one was really pretty.  She started with a brown egg and put it into yellow dye, but the design was so pretty!  I commented on it and the woman said the egg was cracked and she just followed the cracks with her wax and then added a dot here and there. Doesn't it look like a tree coming into bud? I'd love a piece of fabric that looked like this and was this color!
 Then they are put on racks to dry.  You can see these are anything but professional.  This looks a lot easier than it is, folks!
 When the dye is dry the wax is scraped off with a knife
 Some were very vibrant because they were left to sit in the dye a long time.  There were 28 people in this workshop so keeping a vat of color a long time wouldn't be friendly. Most people didn't do it and it was fun to see the vibrant colors.
 There was one woman who came with some brown eggs and it really made her colors look antiqued.  There is so much possibility if you have the time, talent or inclination to do this.  Marge and I each took some hollowed out eggs to color so they wouldn't have to be eaten.  I taught Elizabeth and Adelaide how to blow out the eggs.
 There's one in every crowd, isn't there?  This gentleman did quite a scene on his egg.  The yellow parts are the wax.  That's a scene with earth, landscape, sky, stars and the moon. Once he scraped off his wax it was truly amazing. He did just two eggs in the two hours we were there but such patience and forethought!  I told Marge it was enough to make us want to pack up our stuff and go home. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Was Anastasia

  I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

     I am assuming here that we all know who Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov was.  Her father, the last Czar of Russia, along with her entire family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
A couple of years later a young woman is pulled unconscious from a canal in Berlin.  She is covered in scars and won’t tell who she is but what is sure is that she looks remarkably like the deceased Grand Duchess.  Eventually, she reveals that she is Anastasia Romanov. 
     And now the intrigue begins.  The thought that someone in the family survived the slaughter seems unbelievable.  The grave is opened.  The body count is not correct. Could this be the Grand Duchess? If so, aunts, uncles and cousins spread out through Europe’s royal families are not happy and do their best to discredit this person they are calling Anna Anderson.  They are sure that she is just hoping to inherit her family’s wealth.  If Anna/Anastasia inherits, then they, of course, would not. The fortune is enough to fight for.  And for fifty years and spanning half the world, the family tries to discredit her.
     Going back and forth through two narratives, the last days of the Romanov family during their imprisonment and Anna/Anastasia’s time since then tells the whole story of what was and could have been Anna/Anastasia’s story. Historically, we know what happened to the Romanovs but proving whether Anastasia indeed did survive puts a dramatic, mysterious twist on this story.  I kept going until the very last word in this book because I kept wondering if there was something I didn’t remember about the mystery of this Anna/Anastasia and couldn’t wait to see how the author settled the story.  You have to do the same.  I won’t tell.