Monday, May 31, 2010

American Heroes

Today barbecue grills are smoking across the U.S, beaches are populated to the max, sales are rampant in the stores—it’s a day of freedom to do whatever you wish. But the true meaning of today is respect for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Here’s a bit from America the Beautiful (words by Katharine Lee Bates, melody by Samuel Ward), in honor of our nation’s fallen.
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blessings Friday: Never Argue with a Woman

This little tidbit has been wandering through the email system for some time now. It cracks me up every time someone sends it to me, so I thought I’d share it with you in case you’ve not seen it (I’ve added pictures to break up the text a bit).

One morning, the husband returns the boat to their lakeside cottage after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out.

Source: Vintage Signs

She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up, and begins to read her book. The peace and solitude are magnificent.
Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?
Reading a book, she replies (thinking, Isn't that obvious?)

Source: ProShield Safety Signs

You're in a restricted fishing area, he informs her.
I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.
Yes, but I see you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.

Source: Clean

If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault, says the woman.
But I haven't even touched you, says the Game Warden.
That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.
Have a nice day ma'am, and he left.
MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Japanese Cherry Needle Booklet

Have I shown you the Japanese Cherry Booklet I made to organize my sewing needles?

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I love Japanese-inspired fabric prints, so vivacious in terms of colors and design elements. Little cherries add a fun detail on this small booklet; some are beaded. You can see my inspiration in the book’s photo.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

My only modification was to braid strands of embroidery floss to form the cherry stems as opposed to sewing small fabric strips as indicated in the instructions.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The booklet pages are leaves made of sage-green wool felt.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The project was one of many lovely ideas found in Kokoro no Te: Handmade Treasures from the Heart.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Miss Marple Is On the Case

Every now and then I’m in an Agatha Christie mood. I pull out a book or two and enjoy a few hours reading one of her stories.

To add to that experience, PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery is featuring Miss Marple as part of their 2010 summer TV programming. The first movie was last night—The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

It’s so relaxing to do a little knitting while watching an Agatha Christie movie as knitting appears here and there when Miss Marple is involved. In last night’s show, I noticed her WIP involved a ball of red yarn. Mine, however, is blue.

Here’s the schedule for the Miss Marple series featuring Julia McKenzie in the role of Agatha Christie’s spinster sleuth.
  • May 23: “The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side”
  • Jun. 6: “A Pocket Full of Rye”
  • Jun 13: “Murder is Easy”
  • Jun 20: “The Secret of Chimneys”
  • Jun 27: “The Blue Geranium”
You can download a PDF version of Masterpiece Mystery’s summer schedule here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blessings Friday: Life


Source: Make Your Own Invitations

My sister Connie is recovering nicely. She has 14 stitches and is moving a tad gingerly, but she’s doing well. We appreciate the good wishes left on my post about her skin cancer surgery: Thank you so much for your thoughtful kindness—we’re positive it helped.

Mermaid Float Day

Source: The Graphics Fairy blog

Tomorrow is my 58th birthday. Each year on the Saturday closest to May 22 (which works perfectly this year), I spend the day doing absolutely nothing other than floating about in my pool. Naturally I’m slathered with abundant amounts of sunscreen as I lounge about pretending to be a mermaid. It’s my favorite way to celebrate the beginning of a new year in my life.

Today Is the Best Day of My Life

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On a Scale of What to What?

Today is World Metrology Day which celebrates the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875 that advocated the movement to globalize the science of measurement (hence the word metrology (Bureau International des Poids es Mesures (BIPM).

Source: BIPM

Americans use a different and oft inaccurate measuring system despite basic tools such as the common ruler incorporating both—we stubbornly ignore the metric side. The U.S. is being urged to adopt the new system to be more in line with the rest of the world.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The metrics conversion effort impacts a number of issues for us: commerce, government, and everyday life. Today I’ll just mention its use in cooking.

Recipes and cookbooks are already incorporating the new metric standards. While our older versions will still be useful, the internet has changed how easily we share information such as recipes and they’re often in need of conversion for us. While participating in numerous online cooking challenges, this creates a frequent problem for me. I realize my own thinking/behavior must alter.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

My reluctant American mindset makes the conversion awkward, but I’m willing to try. I recently bought an EatSmart™ Precision Pro - Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale w/ Extra Large LCD and 11 Lb. Capacity to help me eat healthier and realized its metric feature will also aid in using the new way recipes are being written.

You can read more about this issue at The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department.

The sciences have pushed for the change for over 135 years. Maybe it’s the cooks of the world who’ll be the vanguards of real change.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making Homemade Vanilla

Last December, I saw cute bottles of homemade vanilla on the Gumbo Lily blog and saved the idea on my To Do list. In March I started the process thinking this would be lovely in kitchen gift baskets for family and friends who enjoy cooking.

I bought the biggest bottle of the cheapest vodka I could find. Vanilla beans were split and inserted into the bottle. The date (March 11, 2010) was written on the label and the concoction was stored away in the dark depths of a seldom-used cabinet.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

This morning I retrieved the bottle but no, it’s not ready for use as you can see from the paleness of the color. It should be much darker and richer looking. In assessing the situation I realized I used too few vanilla beans so I’ll have to get more and try again.

If you’re thinking about making your own homemade vanilla extract, especially in time for use at Christmas, now would be a good time to start the process.


Numerous ideas abound as to making and presenting homemade vanilla extract; here are some resources for you.
  • DIY Vanilla Extract with Chocolate & Zucchini
  • Homemade Vanilla: The Big Bottle Method at Chickens in the Road
  • Gumbo Lily’s recipe and labels project
  • Twig & Thistle’s recipe
  • Twig & Thistle’s bottling and labeling for Style Me Pretty
  • Joy the Baker’s vanilla extract recipe
  • Make vanilla extract with Bethany Actually
  • Project Vanilla at The Traveler’s Lunchbox

Monday, May 17, 2010

DIY Jade Necklace

My sister Connie gifted me with some pieces of multi-colored jade she picked up at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February. Last night I made three of the pieces into a necklace.

My plan is to wear my DIY necklace on vacation this summer. We’re flying to Seattle and then driving a rental car down the western coast of the U.S. to Monterey, CA. We’ll drive back up to San Francisco where we’ll fly home again.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I simply used a piece of leather cording I dug out of my crafting stash and tied each piece on the strand. It’s a simple necklace, but I’m happy with it.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Since it’s going to be much cooler in the northwest as opposed to Tucson’s extreme heat, I’m planning my travel wardrobe with the weather very much in mind.

A rib-knit top (found at Kohl’s) paired with a hooded linen jacket (purchased at Coldwater Creek) ought to be comfortable for one of my outfits. The necklace works with that and I can pair it with other things on my packing list.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blessings Friday: No Regrets

Remember Susan Boyle? Her amazing British performance was wonderfully inspirational. Now Britain’s Got Talent 2010 has 80-year-old Janey Cutler.

Janey Cutler - Britain's Got Talent 2010 - Auditions Week 4 @ Yahoo! Video

Mrs. Cutler’s audition moved me to tears. I love the ending when Simon asks her how many years she’s waited to do this. Her gracious response, “I’m just thankful I am here tonight.”
Dreams can come true. May this weekend bring you the opportunity to make one of your own dreams a reality. Live happily and have no regrets.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Chicken in Every Pot

In the 17th century, King Henry IV stated he wished his hungry peasants could have “a chicken in his pot every Sunday." That phrase was appropriated for political use in American history and used by the Republican party in a 1928 campaign praising their efforts towards the country’s prosperity. Often forgotten, the additional line included “and a car in every back yard”.

Source: “A Chicken in Every Pot” political ad and rebuttal article in New York Times, 10/30/1928 (National Archives)

While I do have a car (in the garage, not the back yard) and can have chicken every Sunday if I so choose, the only prosperity surrounding me is my proclivity to voluptuousity—I’m very prosperous there.

I’ve decided to make healthier meals to get my curves under control but don’t want to join in any official dieting group. Instead, I’ve opted to seek out recipes used by Weight Watchers members. A good source was found here at the Laa Loosh blog.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Last night I gave the Chicken Pot Pie recipe found here a try.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The recipe was easy to make and we enjoyed it. I was very careful, however, when presenting it to my husband by leaving out the words Weight Watchers. Otherwise, he’d have balked at the whole idea and not tried it. Men are just plain weird.

For any of you who are Weight Watchers members, this meal counts as 4 points. It’s not an official Weight Watchers recipe, but it is tasty and serves its purpose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Save Our Skin

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. We’re very well aware of this in my family.

Source: NC Department of Health and Human Resources

This morning as I post this, my sister Connie is undergoing surgery for invasive skin cancer. The surgeon will slice a bit, do the pathology to be sure he has clean margins and, if not, go back in and slice another sliver and so on until they have clean, cancer-free margins. The pathology itself takes 45 minutes at least each time. We already know her cancer is pretty deep.

© Dub Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I’ve had my own bouts of skin cancer. One was a large malignant squamous cell carcinoma that grew on my arm above my wrist. It started as a small itchy patch on my skin I thought was merely the result of Arizona’s dry climate. But it wasn’t and grew into an alien tumor super fast. A chunk of my arm was removed until they found cancer-free margins.

The resulting scar is my reminder to take appropriate precautions and always wear sunscreen along with performing regular screening checks via self-checks as well as by my doctor.

Please think good thoughts for Connie today—and then arrange a preventative screening appointment to protect yourself. I want you to live and be happy.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Notice the Purple

Some friends were admiring my Japanese Knot Bags collection and asked me to help them make some. I have a lot of these bags in my collection as they are quick to make, travel super easily, and are reversible. I’ve been using Helen’s tutorial at Show Your Workings.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Last Tuesday we got together and made our bags following Helen’s tutorial. Sue’s bag (on left) is black/white/red; Dee’s (center) is chocolate and pink, and Paula opted for brilliantly-colored flowers.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

As for me, I chose this floral fabric and lined it with a solid light purple. Our color choices certainly made for interesting combinations.

Source: Coldwater Creek

I want to use the little bag with my purple-and-white, fine-stripe linen tunic recently purchased at Coldwater Creek. Some white Capri leggings and a pair of sandals found at Famous Footwear (below) makes for an easy outfit. It’s kind of fun to mix up the prints a bit.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Introducing purple in my wardrobe is rather new to me—not that I plan to go crazy with that color, but it does look quite like springtime and brightens my face, a good thing for someone my age.

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. ~ Alice Walker

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shopping Wise

This year has proved challenging in a number of ways for me—some good and some not. You go along thinking you just can’t take any more complications and then life tosses in something pleasant to ease your way. It’s all about balance, I think.

That balance comes in many forms and I’m discovering some that even impact my finances. In considering a few things on my list for the fast-approaching summer, I’ve been doing some shopping.

I fell in love with this small clutch.

Source: Lilly Pulitzer

Price: $128
Color: Pink
Where to Buy: Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly Pulitzer calls this the Golden Clutch. It’s lovely; the shape is wonderful and the wicker is perfect for summer, but I’m not in love with the hot pink color and price. I continued my search.

Source: Talbots

Price: $99
Colors: Natural/Yellow, Natural/Pink, Natural/Blue, Natural/Palm Leaf (green)
Where to Buy: Talbots

The price is better, but the color choices are not quite right for me. I decided to get off the computer and actually visit stores in the Tucson area. There’s got to be a summer clutch that works for me.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Success was found at T.J. Maxx. On the display shelves where they keep wallets, I found the wicker beauty I sought in white which works with a lot of my summer clothes.

Price: $19.95
Color: Natural/White, Golden Brown/Brown, Black/Black

My new summer clutch is made by Straw Studios. Committed to protecting the environment, their web site says their bags are made using renewable resources.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved (I've no idea as to why Blogger wants to turn some photos sideways--it's most annoying.)

The price was good and the colors fit in perfectly with my style, so a few others made their way into my shopping cart. I left T.J. Maxx feeling happy and my shopping balance was achieved.