Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fair Maiden Voyage

After all the Christmas hoo-ha, hopefully, painting will start again tomorrow.

In the meantime, just to inform the readers of this blog, there is a new member in our family. The vision of beauty in the photo is a YELLOW 1973 Schwinn Breeze 3 speed. Remember that Reese and I went to Workshop Houston to fine tune our old bikes last summer? Well, Reese is now a regular volunteer. Workshop Houston has a program called Earn-a-Bike. The way the program works is that one first tears down an old junker bike that is not worth restoring. The second step is to fix a flat. Third, the participant has to re-cycle a wheel. And fourth, the volunteer/participant re-furbishes a bike for charity. And lastly, one can re-furbish a bike for oneself.

Reese has been volunteering just because he likes being there and learning about bikes. One day, according to Reese, a lady pulled up in front of the bike workshop with a whole truckload of bikes to donate. As Reese and Matt were unloading the bikes, one particular bike caught Reese's eye. It was grimy, covered in filth and rust, but Reese knew that this was the bike for me. So, instead of working towards a bike for himself, the Amazing Reese worked the Earn-a-Bike program as a gift to me.

This is what I saw when I walked down the stairs on Christmas morning.

I came downstairs because I had heard Erin and Hilary opening their stockings, and didn't want to miss the Christmas fun. Reese's bathrobe just happened to the nearby, so I grabbed it and on it went. The bike was such an unexpected and delightful surprise that I rode it through the house...from living to dining room and back....several times.

Then I hurried to get dressed and took it outside for a spin. It's the best bike ever.

Oh, and by the way, in case the reader has forgotten, yellow is my favorite color.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Zuzu's Petals

If I ever owned an antique-shabby-chic-art-coffee-book-wine-bar-live-music-café type store, the name of it would be Zuzu's Petals.

"Remember no man is a failure who has friends."

Thanks, reader friends. It's a wonderful life, thanks, largely in part, to all of you.

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Week's Worth

A gorilla sitting on the throne. A laughing daughter. And the pet in the bathtub. So many unanswered questions.

Here is the Amazing Reese and the fellas enjoying some tasty cigars from "nowhere." Reese's younger brother sent the cigars to Reese for safekeeping. Then, quite unexpectedly, his brother passed away, so in honor of his brother's generous gift, Reese wanted to share, too. It was a very cold night, and as smooth and good as the cigars were, the guys were all glad to finish them and retire to the warmth of the living room.

Aw, look at the poor fallen angel. Don't worry, Reese fixed her. This angel was a gift (years ago) from my mother-in-law who bought it from Aunt Cathy's gift and antique shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It's probably the best gift my mother-in-law ever gave me.

However, the most incredible part of the photo is the fact that the Christmas tree is already up. It is usually much later in the season before that task gets tackled, much less completed.

Turns out that I made an abundance of limoncello. There wasn't a large enough container in this house to mix it all. (And yes, I remembered to double the simple syrup.) This photo shows the work in process.

The first pour...

The first toast -- yum! It's absolutely delicious.

Perhaps it would have been a good idea to find matching containers for the limoncello. Does it really matter? We used what was on hand and then some. The last bit went into Mason jars...fitting, considering that limoncello is one giant leap (small step?) above making ones own moonshine.

Can't wait to see what's in store for next week....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Make Limoncello!

My love affair with limoncello began on my 40th birthday, when a dear friend shared some of the traditional Italian lemon liqueur as a gift. In the spirit of home-made Christmas gifts, this photo depicts the beginning of my first attempt at making the delectable digestif.

After extensive Google research, the recipe I've decided to use is this:

1 bottle 750 ml Everclear (190 proof)

12 lemons

4 1/4 cups of water

3 1/2 cups of sugar

Carefully zest lemons. Place the peels in a container and add Everclear. Let sit for seven days shaking container occasionally.

On the eighth day, make a simple syrup with the water and sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Strain out zest, and then filter the lemon infused alcohol through coffee filters to remove impurities.

Mix in the cooled simple syrup and transfer to a bottle.

When I poured the Everclear into the Mason jar with the lemon peel, some of the alcohol accidentally spilled. And yes, due to the extremely high alcohol content, it took the some of the finish off the table -- strong stuff. Within a few minutes of steeping, the grain alcohol was already becoming infused with the lemon taste! (Attention, Sarah: This is a personal reminder that the recipe is doubled. Please, remember to double the simple syrup when completing the project.)

The lemons in this batch of limoncello were generously donated by two neighbors with abundant lemon crops in their respective yards. Many thanks to our good friends, the Wagners and Cooners. Some of the finished product will be coming your way. :)

When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

Friday, December 04, 2009

It's Snow, Man!

People almost anywhere north of Houston must think we are ridiculous for going gaga over a little snow. I can count on one hand the number of times it has snowed in Houston in the 25 years that I've lived here....OK, maybe 6 times...but I think it's just five times total.

It snowed the week Hilary was born, 20 years ago this month.

There was an ice storm once, the weekend of the marathon in January one year...but no snow. Joy was five or six at the time, and she's 18 now.

There were slight snow flurries one afternoon when our daughters were in elementary school.

It snowed on or around Christmas day a few years ago when we went to see Mimi and Papa for Christmas....so we missed that one.

It snowed one year ago for an hour or two on December 10th.

And today....that's it. It's been snowing since we woke up this morning. So, we're pretty excited, to say the least.

The snowman is courtesy of Hilary. Thanks, sweetie.