Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~


Monday, June 29, 2009

For Letter Writing

Lately, I've been trying to keep up with my journal on a daily basis. I sometimes neglect it for months at a time. I came to rationalize that if I had some nice writing tools similar to those used in ancient times, I might be more prone to writing. I do most of my letter writing on the computer, using nice calligraphy fonts. But with a genuine Spencerian dip pen, some ink, and even some little extras along for the experience, it really is nice to write again. You could say that for me, it's bliss and inspiration!

These are just some of the things which grace my desk. Oftentimes it's quite cluttered, but writing tools make for a nice look. And these would be my blown glass pens, which came in the same kit as the small colorful inks. They (the inks) were beautiful sealed in wax. But I had a bear of a time removing the wax coating!

I really liked the boxes the kits come packaged in. All the kits shown here are from the 'Authentic Models' collection. Some I bought at Victorian Trading, others at various web sites. The writing nibs were on clearance, but I really don't yet get the trick to using them. For one, you need an adapter, or a special pen holder. Secondly, I've used several, and I couldn't perceive any real differences in writing. I also like having my old snail fossils on my desk. I love collecting old rocks and arrowheads. I've got a nice collection too. I just like old things!

I needed a holder for my dip pens, so I improvised and used the top of an air diffuser bottle which held wooden reeds. It worked out nicely. Pen holders are somewhat pricey.

I also really like my wax seal. The purpose is to seal a letter with a wax seal which has an initial or a symbol. I think it makes for a very nice touch. Too bad I couldn't get it to work for me. I need to order some special wax. The one I had was old, maybe that's why it didn't work for me.
That does it for this time. May you have a great week!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pictures of Goodies

I really wanted to share a couple of pictures of the parcel my good friend Gloria sent me. Everything was delightful! But you know which was my absolute favorite item? You see that wooden round plaque in the middle? The one that says "Yaya"? I really like it! It's such a nice gift, as it was made by her own two hands, for the personal touch. I think I'm going to hang it in the living room, although it would also look nice in my craft/sewing room. There were lots of other goodies- a wooden necklace with gems, candy, and another one of her handmade artwork sculptures. I am really liking the rose scented bar of soap too!
She also shared seeds from her garden. I really like the wisteria seed pods. They are so smooth, soft, and velvety, much like whitetail deer antlers when they're in velvet. It's the long pods you see to the left at the closure.
Thank you so much Gloria! It felt like Christmas in July...err...June!

Meatloaf Sunday

The little one had another request: meatloaf. So meatloaf was on the
menu today. A ground chuck/pork meatloaf combo chockful of vegetables. And herbs. And spices. And juniper berries.

Covered in Ketchup and bacon slices.
And nicely toasted bacon slices! (Fat juices promptly removed)

A nice baked potato, buttered corn, steamed chayote , and garlic toast rounded out the meal. No dessert, thank you!

Sweetie and I don't usually eat a lot of meat, and when we do it's usually chicken. We tend to enjoy simple egg, bean, or potato dishes. So this was a nice change of pace. And the little one agreed!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gloria's Goodies Arrived!

Just wanted to make a quick post about the package Gloria sent me in the mail, and which just now arrived! It's chock full of goodies. I will be making a post about it soon. I must take pictures to show why I'm so happy with this parcel! that rose soap!

Yet Another Apron and Goodies Giveaway!!

Well, this must be the month for giveaways, because I just found another fantastic one!! Deby from Apples of Gold has a nice apron giveaway which also includes a book by Grace Livingston Hill! Gotta love that! Head over there for details!

Apron Giveaway!

Edited: Wouldn't you know it? I had already made a post about this giveaway, LOL! No problema, no problema! I don't mind posting twice about my good friend's giveaway anyway.

Diane from Tomato Soup Cake is having a fantastic giveaway of a sweet apron. I've never won a giveaway before, but I always enter, because who knows, there's always a first time to win, right? Being that I love aprons, I had to enter. Diane's blog is just a wonderful place to visit anyway, so won't you head over there for the details on how to enter to win? It really is an apron you'll love!

Photo Editing Class

Kerri from Quaint and Quirky gave the heads up to a great site offering a free photo editing classes as part of the site's birthday celebration. The site is and this is the link for all the details. And did I mention it's free? Registration ends soon, so head over there to get in on the classes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's Fare

It's been a while since I cooked beef stroganoff with mushrooms. And since my little one who is visiting specifically requested this, it became today' fare. A few substitutions were in order, as I always seem to tweak a basic recipe and just 'do it my way'. For one, I added white wine and beef broth instead of water, and I also added whipping cream (just a very little) along with the sour cream. A dash of freshly grated nutmeg and a generous sprinkling of black pepper made it very tasty indeed. Served over a bed of hot buttered noodles, and a side of steamed vegetables, what could be grander?

Boojiboo Flirty Apron GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Boojiboo Flirty Apron GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

I do ♥ those aprons! Visit the link for all the details!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lovely Award!

Gloria over at Viva La Vida kindly presented me with an award. I am most grateful, as it's always so nice to see those little icons on the sidebar of blogs. While some people prefer not to receive them, I am just tickled pink to get one. I consider them as artwork, for I know it took someone time and work to create I also think they provide some nice blog 'decor'. So thank you Gloria, for thinking of me. As she herself posted, and as I myself have noticed from previous attempts to present them, it's hard to get people to accept them sometimes. So for this time, I will give out an open invitation to all who visit here and who would like to receive this award. Please do accept it and proudly post it on your blog. As a token of friendship and appreciation from you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lovely Giveaway!!

I was going to stay away from blogging a little more, but when I read about this lovely apron giveaway over at Diane's Tomato Soup Cake blog well I just couldn't! I had to share the news about it. Who wouldn't want a chance at winning? Head on over to her blog for all the details. This one is so worth it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Soap Nuts Giveaway

I know I'm on a small hiatus from blogging, but I found this fantastic giveaway that anyone can enter and had to share. It's funny how it ties in to my post about my quest for the 'Jaboncillo" or Soapberry tree. So of course I had to enter! I also found a lot of useful ideas in Lindsay's Passionate Homemaking blog. Read all about the soap berries and their use in her post about the soap nuts giveaway. This one is even nicer because there will be 20 winners! That means more chances to win! So go over and read all about it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Away On and Off

I've got a few projects I need to work on. So I think I'll take another little blogging break, only this time it will be intentional. I'm sure I won't be able to resist checking in on everyone's blogs, so I'll pop in from time to time. Hoping I can catch up and maybe start up with my blog again within a couple of weeks. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Most Important Quest

When Anna made her post about a pattern she had used, I knew it was exactly the dress I have been wanting to make. I had been looking for it for quite some time, and actually did find it, but someone else had already bought it. Since then, I have found pictures of two other similar patterns, but even those were dead leads, as they were not for sale.
But if anyone should happen to know where I can find this elusive pattern, I would certainly love to know about it.


I'm on a new quest. I am searching for this tree:

Sapindus Saponaria or Soapberry Tree

Or this:

Sapindus Mukorossi also called Chinese Soapberry

These are just two of a genus of about twelve species of trees which produce berries used for washing even clothes. The leaves have a clean, soaplike scent. A soap is manufactured in Mexico called "Zote", and it is purported to be made using said berries. I believe it might well be true, since I have smelled the leaves and they indeed smell exactly as the soap does. My bloggie friend Bob who has a charming and very educational blog recently made a post about the soap. My own dear Sister has two of these amazing trees, only hers have not yet produced the berries necessary for soap making. After finally taking note of her trees, I became convinced I simply must have one in my garden! I have read that using this natural alternative to soap is a very eco friendly way to help the environment whilst keeping a body and clothing clean!

Our recent trip to the Texas valley gave me hope of finding one. But alas, it was not to be. Perhaps next time!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

El Valle

In my never ending search for a particular vintage apron and dress pattern, I stumbled across a pattern web site that somehow infected my computer with a virus. So yes, apparently you can pick up nasty bugs just by visiting seemingly innocent sites. The problem is I visited so many sites, I'm not certain which one was the last one that presented the problem. So, while the computer was working, I was afraid to visit even blogs for fear of infecting those sites myself. I decided to stay away from using the computer until we took it to the shop for a good cleaning. I also took the time to try and catch up with work around the house. I must confess that web surfing takes up an awful lot of time which could be spent better doing chores around the house. So this brings me to now.

Yesterday we took a trip to the 'valley', which is the southernmost part of Texas. For us it's about a three and a half hour drive. Once you arrive in the area, all the towns and cities seem to be linked together one right next to the other. There's Pharr, La Joya, Mission, Rio Grande City, Mcallen, Mercedes, Weslaco....... In the Winter you can really appreciate the citrus groves dotting the countryside. It is a beautiful area to visit. It reminds me a little bit of the citrus area in Florida. We didn't quite make it to the farthest city on the tip of Texas- Brownsville- because that would have been an even longer drive, and we would have had to stay overnight. But it would've been nice to visit the beaches and enjoy the Gulf of Mexico.
The reason for out trip? Plants! And fruit! Lots of them and at very good prices. Where else can you buy a case of a dozen mangos for $2? And a pineapple for $1? Or sweet as honey and delectable huge honeydew melons for $1? Cantaloupe, papayas, and watermelons all for no more than $2 a piece. I should mention these fantastic buys can be had at the numerous flea markets all along the valley. We didn't find oranges or grapefruit, but if you visit in late Winter or early Spring, you will be able to find whole bags of the precious Vitamin C's for about $2. The same thing with plants. Being a gardener, this is a goldmine for finding exotic plants at very reasonable prices. Most of the specimens will run around $3 if they're in a small pot, around a gallon size. Kapok trees, or Ceibas as they're known in Mexico and points south, will run around $15-35, depending on the size. I have found many unusual plants which I normally don't find in my hometown. I am always amazed at how 'ungreedy' these vendors are. I suppose it's because they have no overhead expenses and they work for themselves. Where I live fruit and vegetables are pretty expensive. I commented to my Sweetie that if we could find those prices here, we would probably eat a lot healthier than we currently do. An example: Chayotes, which are similar to a squash, but have a far better taste, cost around $2.79 a pound in our local store. When they're good sized, just one will weigh around a pound. "En el valle", I was able to purchase them 4 for a $1!

So as far as remarkable items to found at the flea markets, I would have to say, fruits and plants are the main attraction. I didn't see much else in the way of 'things'. Probably far less than at most flea markets. I was looking out for vintage linens and patterns, but didn't see any. We visited about 4 flea markets in the area. We were also told that there are usually more vendors on Sundays.

I had a wonderful time. The only thing I regret is that I didn't take my camera. Pictures are the best way to illustrate a message. I need to get in the habit of carrying it with me wherever I go. Perhaps next time I can bring back some pictures to share.

It was good to get away from the ordinary. Interestingly, another thing I noticed, was that people just seemed friendlier than where we live. It's a good area to visit. It's also a prime destination for 'Winter Snowbirds' as retirees are often called. It's also a great area for birders, as there are some wonderful bird watching havens and routes as well. So next time you're in Texas, make plans to visit El Valle. It's Texas best kept secret!


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