Something on your mind? ? ? :-)

If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

When you click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, you will be presented with choices for logins, if you do not already have one of the accounts listed, or you do not choose to login with that account, you can always choose the anonymous option, in which case your name would come up as Anonymous! If you choose to use one of the other log in options, your name would appear as the public name you list for that account. For example, mine would appear as Willow's Quiet Corner, and, of course, your email would not show!

Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy Blogiversary . . . and Happy Birthday!


Well, it's been one year since I started this blog.  I had hoped I would be better at posting more frequently, but sadly, life seems to get in the way of me being able to do that!  I have good intentions, but it takes a bit longer than I thought it would to get a post together.  I am amazed by all those bloggers out there who manage to write witty things and post gorgeous photos nearly everyday.  They manage to run their homes, work, dabble with various hobbies, raise kids, style their homes and vignettes and photograph them and get them ready for the web.  My hat is off to all of them!

When I started it I wasn't sure if anyone out there would find anything I had to say worth reading.  My mom, sister, cousin and some of my friends have faithfully checked in on a regular basis to see what's new in my little corner of the blogosphere and gave me words of encouragement.  My mother helped spread word to her friends and I have been happy to have them stop by from time to time and to have taken an interest in my little ramblings.  And, I have been surprised and pleased to have other bloggers who accidentally stumble upon my little blog to link to my blog as followers.  I am honored to have made some new blog friends this past year.  Thank you to each and every one of you who have stopped in to visit.

And thank you to everyone who has subscribed to my little blog and to those who have become followers.  I hope to be able to come up with enough interesting things to post about to keep you interested enough to keep following along and checking in from time to time!

There is also another thing to celebrate.  Tomorrow is D's birthday!  

Happy Birthday to you!  
Happy Birthday to you!  
Happy Birthday, dear D!  
Happy Birthday to you!  

Go do something fun . . . but, don't go getting into any trouble this time!  :-)  We're tired of having to bail you out every year!   (hee hee hee!)

(Pssst . . . . Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you are 85!  It'll be our little secret!  ;)

To celebrate both these dates, I made some of these Neapolitan Cupcakes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cupcakes magazine, . . . with a couple of modifications.  I wanted to make them entirely from scratch, so instead of using a box mix of white cake, I used their recipe for vanilla cupcakes and doubled the batch.  While they were moist and taste great, they came out pretty dense, so next time, I would chose a less heavy recipe for the base.  

I decided to put the chocolate layer on the bottom and added chocolate chips.  Next time, I would add a bit of espresso to bring out or intensify the chocolate flavor.  The white layer is vanilla flavored.  For the strawberry layer, I didn't have any strawberry preserves, so I used fresh strawberries and chopped them up, added a bit of sugar and let the mixture sit for a couple of hours to develop a little syrup before incorporating it into the mixture.

Basically, you mix just mix the cake according to the directions, divide it into thirds and add chocolate to one third, strawberry to another third and then leave the last one as the basic vanilla mix (though I'll bet it would be great as a banana flavored layer . . . hmmmmmm).  Their instructions were to put the strawberry layer on the bottom, but since I wanted to add chocolate chips, I decided to put the chocolate layer on the bottom, since I figured they would drop through to the bottom anyway.  The batter I used ended up being so dense the chips wouldn't have gone anywhere!

I topped them with a Butter Cream frosting.  They recommended mixing it up, dividing it half and adding red food coloring to one half and then filling the piping bag with white frosting on one side and the pink on the other side so when you pipe it you get the colors swirled together.  I am just learning to decorate, so mine didn't quite come out like their picture . . . but I don't think I did too badly!

Thanks again for all your support this past year!  I hope you take a moment to celebrate all the good things in your life today!  Don't forget to grab a cupcake on your way out! ! !

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Da Vinci Exhibit

Well, I managed to pick the hottest day of the year (so far!) for this little adventure.  Really, when I googled the directions, it didn't even occur to me exactly where I would be headed, even though I should have known!  I should have known!

Arggggh!  Can you guess from the picture above?  Saturday morning, on the hottest day, at the beginning of tourist season, I was smack dab front and center in the heart of the tourist mecca known as Hollywood.  People were EVERYWHERE! ! ! 

Grauman's Chinese Theater, where the famous leave their hand and footprints (and sometimes, hoof, paw, nose and/or cigar prints) in cement, the Hollywood Walk of Fame where people come to see the stars on the sidewalk of their favorite stars, the area where throngs of people mass to view these things as well as all the people trying to nab as many tourist dollars as they possibly can.  They sell trinkets, food, tours and photos.  There are so many people down there dressed as look-a-likes, with whom for a price, you can get your picture.

There was one "gentleman" who was very tall, dressed in black and I do not have a clue who he was supposed to be.  Anyway, he was standing there talking to someone else, blocking my shot of the theater to show where I had ended up that day.  I probably should have taken one that shows the masses of humanity that were before me, but I like my shots uncluttered with that sort of thing, so I held my camera up as high as I could and tried to get a shot without people in it.  Well, Mr. Ego thought I was trying to snap his pic and very loudly proclaimed, "Oh, Hell NO!  YOU are NOT going to get MY picture!" and promptly whirled around so his back was facing me.  I just wish he had been close enough to hear me reply, "I am not sure who or what you are are, but I would have preferred that you just duck down, because you are ruining my shot of the building"!

Ah, but on to the subject of my post!  The Da Vinci Exhibit, which closes in Hollywood July 4th.  I believe it moves on to Louisville, KY next.  I think Leonardo would have been an extremely interesting person to know.  He had such a wide range of interests, and must have had an extremely lively mind to have come up with all these myriad and diverse ideas.  Watching him tinkering and coming up with all these things would have been vastly entertaining.  Who knew he actually designed the first car!  Move over Henry!

During the day, you can usually come up with a pretty good idea of the time by checking the position of the sun.  But, what about in the middle of the night?  That handy sun isn't going to help you much then.  And, even if you turn that trusty hour glass over just before you retire for the evening, it only helps with the first hour.  500 years ago was a little too early for those handy-dandy pocket watches or mantle clocks, so what's a person to do, when in the middle of the night you awake with a burning desire to know the time?

Leonardo figured it out.  He created a candle, experimenting with different waxes, wicks, sizes of candles etc, until he could reliably measure exactly how far a candle would burn in one hour and marked one hour increments on the candle holder.  Then, all you had to do, is know what time it was when you lit the candle and do the math from there.  

For example, you go to bed (lit the candle) at 9pm (I'm thinking we may have been early to bed types, then - the sun and hour-glass would have helped you figure out bed time), you arose in the middle of the night to a terrible racket and see 5 hours have passed, by the amount of candle that has melted away, so it is 2 o'clock in the morning.  You can now holler at your neighbors and say something like, "Do you know what time it is?  It is 2 o'clock in the morning!  I'm trying to sleep!"  And know you are giving them the correct time!  What a relief!

I didn't realize he had designed so many different things for warfare.  I don't remember that from my days as an art student! 

And, he apparently designed the first robot to entertain his wealthy benefactors and patrons!  And this sketch of a bicycle has been attributed to one of his students, but it was found glued between the pages of one of da Vinci's journals and is thought to have been a sketch of something seen in the da Vinci studios.

I do remember his fascination with flying and flying machines and his predilection for doing illegal autopsies to see how the body worked.

And, I remembered he was obsessed with water, water shoes and other inventions to help man conquer the watery realm, but I didn't realize he had come up with an idea for a type of diving apparatus.

He was also preoccupied with coming up with all sorts of inventions that we still have in use today, such as the differential, which is used in cars, the flywheel, and an early version of the inclinometer, which is still in use today on ships and airplanes to measure the vessel's position relative to a "perfect horizontal orientation".

I know it looks like a gallows, but it really isn't!  Honest!  Click on the
image for a larger peek!  It is actually supposed to depict a diver
below water with air hoses as his lifeline, not a noose!  :-)
Anyway, I did enjoy the exhibit, though I thought these things were going to be life-sized mock ups, so I was surprised to see they were smaller models.  The price of the show wasn't too bad, $18, but when you factor in all the other costs associated with it, I may not have opted to go!  $10 parking, plus $3 tip for the attendant, and my $12 souvenir matted print of the famed "Mona Lisa" (which I somehow lost between the show and the car.  I hope whoever ended up with Mona gives her a good home)!  I wouldn't know how to factor in the cost of trying to wade through a sea of hot, sweaty people trying to make my way to and from the show, or the initial disappointment when the first person I asked to help direct me to the venue told me they had closed the show early, but the store was still open.  He kindly walked me to the stairway and got me going in the right direction.  But, thankfully, he had been misinformed about the show closing early.  And, we'll skip the cost of driving, and the traffic nightmares, so the actual monetary total for this little adventure was $33.  

On the way home, I stopped at an Olive Garden near my home for a late lunch/early dinner and a tall, cool glass of wine to "recuperate". ;-) All in all, it was a good day!  Funny, how a glass of wine can change your perspective on these kinds of things, . . . just like that!  :-)  Well, hope you enjoyed this little adventure!  Until next time!  Arrivederci!

Notice the power saw at the top?  Water-powered, that is!  The water-wheel powers
the gears to make the saw go up and down.  The saw is the thin black thing
hanging between the wood supports at the top. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th Strawberries

Well, I said I'd share if the strawberries I had planned came out like I'd hoped.  So, here they are!  Not quite what I had in mind, but pretty darned close!  Stylist, I am not, but I do try with my limited resources!  :-)  Wouldn't you know it, I made sure I had some lemon slices left over to grace the pitcher and glass, but guess what I forgot to add in my haste!  I didn't want the strawberries to melt in the hot sun!  And, it was quite warm again, today!  And, ice cubes.  *sigh* honestly, what was I thinking?  Would it have killed me to remember to add ice cubes and lemon slices?  And, . . . my ears of corn.  And, my veggie dogs. And, my flowers.  . . .  And, my pinwheels.  *sigh*  Note to self: do not apply for any photo stylist/photo shoot positions. . .

They didn't quite come out like I'd envisioned, but they nearly didn't come to be at all!  I thought I had some good white chocolate just waiting for these, but when I went to the fridge to get it out . . . well, what I thought I had was just not there!  I did run across some store brand white chocolate chunks, so I thought I'd give them a try, since it was all I had besides the dark chocolate and I didn't feel like braving the stores today.

It was a bit too thick just melted as it was, but I didn't really have anything to thin it with, so I decided to just go with it!  I dipped about a dozen strawberries and then let them cool on waxed paper in the fridge for a while.  Then added a couple of drops of blue food coloring to the chocolate and brought them back out for another dip in the pool and then returned them to the fridge to harden back up.  The chocolate pooled up on the wax paper and gave them all a bit of a ledge, but what a problem!  Too much chocolate, oh dear, WHAT. A. SHAME! ! !  ;-) tsk, tsk, tsk . . . you DO feel quite sorry for me, don't you?

I couldn't resist trying a couple and I had to admit, they were pretty delish!  Who cares if they didn't come out perfect!  They say it's the thought that counts . . . . right?  :-)

Hope you all had a great 4th!  Don't forget to grab a strawberry on your way out!  Yummm!

Happy 4th! ! !

Happy 4th to all my American friends!

I hope everyone has a happy, safe and sane holiday!  

I was hoping to get my holiday strawberries ready for this post, but ran out of time to get them done before I posted this.  I saw some that were dipped in white chocolate and then tipped with blue decorating sugar for a red, white and blue treat.  They were so cute!  But, I don't have the blue sugar, so I thought I'd get two bowls of white chocolate ready for dipping and add a drop of blue food color to one of them and try for a double dipped treat!

I will be making them tomorrow for the 4th, so, if they turn out as I hope, I will still try to share the results!

Enjoy your day!