Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happiness is...

I am just back from a visit with my eldest son and his family in central Oregon. It's hard living 2,000 miles from my granddaughter, but we sure had fun together last week.

Small children can help one to put life back in perspective. Pure joy, my granddaughter reminds me, can be found in very simple pleasures.

Miss you already, Miss Moo!

Love you lots, Grandma

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy First Anniversary, Molls and Jason!

One year ago, on Valentine's Day 2009, this beautiful young woman
and this handsome young man, both soldiers, were married in
San Antonio, Texas.

This proud papa

walked his daughter to her waiting groom.

They said their vows, were pronounced husband and wife,
and were married.
As both soldiers and newlyweds, Molly and Jason have had a challenging first year. Not long after the wedding, the bride deployed to Afghanistan while her groom retrained to be a medic. (He had already served a 15 month deployment in Afghanistan.)
In December, they were finally together in their first home.
And by June this year, they will both deploy again.
But for now, they are in the same place and can celebrate their first anniversary together.
Congratulations, Molly and Jason. Have a wonderful weekend.
God bless you both.
Lots of love, Mom and Dad

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gearing up to Garden with Keith Davitt and Kerry Mendez

Here in upstate New York, this is about the extent of what one can hope to do in the way of flower gardening in mid-February. In my family room, I have a left-over poinsettia (hey, color is color) three amaryllises in staggered stages, a pot of paperwhites about to bloom, and two "resting" African violets.
So it is no wonder that I eagerly hied myself over to the Ballston Spa Library Saturday morning to hear Keith Davitt and Kerry Ann Mendez, two local gardening experts.
Keith Davitt is a landscape architect and the author of several books . Most of his work seems to be for wealthy people who do not do their own gardening. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see his before and after photographs and hear him discuss how he tackled some very challenging garden overhauls.
Below, Ballston Spa resident Kerry Ann Mendez shows how she has developed her own garden over the past twenty years. She, too, has written a book which is due out soon. The title is something like: The Ultimate Flower Gardener's Top Ten Lists;
Money Saving Shortcuts, Design Tips and Smart Plant Picks for zones 3, 4 and 5. Bee Balm Gal is looking forward to buying a copy, since Ms. Mendez lives only a mile or two from here, and truly has an amazing garden on her modest village lot.
You can read more about Kerry Mendez and her business, Perennially Yours here.
Now that I am freshly inspired, I only need a spring thaw to get into action. In the mean time, I should probably re-pot those lackluster violets.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saratoga's Chowderfest 2010

The Handsome Husband and I, ever the ne plus ultra of hipness, were on the scene at Saratoga Spring's Chowderfest 2010 Saturday afternoon.

At our first stop, we enjoyed a C-food chowder (it was allegedly celiac-friendly: vegetarian and no gluten) made by the folks at Caffe Lena. Upstairs, this hearty group was offering a free concert of (wait for it) sea chanteys.
Caffe Lena warmed us up and we soon pushed off to sample more chowder.
Below, the HH waited in a short line for some deep southern catfish chowder, which was delicious. Nice flavor with a little heat to it.
Short lines became our main criteria for deciding which chowders to sample.
Despite temperatures hovering around 22 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight breeze making it feel even colder, Saratoga was mobbed.
After a bit, we headed to The Parting Glass for a Guinness and a Davidson Brothers IPA to help us warm up. The band Celtic Session was keeping things cheerful ...
but The Parting Glass, too, was mobbed. We got our pints and sampled their chowder: a shrimp and crab chowder with Jameson candied lobster and Irish cream corn bread. For $1.00. Honest to God. Amazing.
Click on the photo if you don't believe me.

Saratoga's Chowderfest also offers doggy chowders so there were a good many furry friends along Broadway...

which was even busier than Phila Street.

Lillian's was offering an andouille chowder, which turned out to be our final sample of the day.

Alas, there were dozens we never got to, but seriously, how many chowders can one person eat in an afternoon?
We cast our ballots: I voted for that wonderful Parting Glass chowder while the HH picked Peabody's, also a seafood chowder.

We bought two souvenir long-sleeved tee shirts, the profits of which go to several local good causes.
I think this is the 12th year of Saratoga's Chowderfest and the folks who arrange it must certainly be pleased by its popularity. Despite the winter cold, throngs of people of all ages, families with babies, couples with dogs, were all happily trekking about the city. And best of all, we all went home with roses in our cheeks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hat Tricks and Helping the Homeless

I continue to work my way, slowly, through a stash of yarn that may outlast my lifetime.

After making two hats for a pair of teenage twins who belong to my church, I thought I'd try my hand at one more.

Since I will be spending Valentine's Day with my young granddaughter in central Oregon, a cap with hearts seemed like a good gift for her.

Above, I combined ideas from two different hat patterns with odds and ends of yarn from my basket. I don't know... what do you think? Too gaudy?

Last Sunday, my local newspaper was clearly speaking to me:

Have some extra yarn and hands that need to be kept busy? began an Albany, NY, Times Union story.

The story continues: The Times Union is launching a "Knit for Your Neighbor" project to benefit Shelters of Saratoga, a Saratoga-Springs-based nonprofit that provides both shelter and support to homeless adults.
Over the next three Sundays, the Times Union's Unwind section will publish simple knitting patterns for hats and scarves and ask all those Capital Region knitters to make them and donate them to Shelters of Saratoga's new Mobile Homeless Outreach Project.

You can read more here and read a related blog here.

Since I like to knit and like the idea of supporting Shelters of Saratoga(see my permanent blog link) surely this is a cause for me. The only question is, how fast can I knit?