Mandala and Other Updates


Part 12 is complete, The scallops as I thought took me about 3 1/2 hours per round. I’m very pleased with the color choices for this part. It is 65 inches now. I’m taking a short break from the mandala because we have a good friend coming in from Ohio and I promised her a snuggle under this gem.



I whipped up a hat this evening with the same colors because I really liked how they look together. Not that I needed another hat. The hat I completed in 2 hours, it’s just a simple beanie. I decided to do the long single crochet and half double crochet’s to make the pattern. The upper section is all double crochet which made it real quick to do.WIN_20170627_23_01_10_Pro

Writing Class

On Thursday evenings for the next ten weeks, I will be at a writing class with Raz Steel. He pledges that a writer can write a book with his instructions from start to finish with his techniques without getting stuck. I’m game. I can write great beginnings but then I crash, the middle gets my ass every time. Then I get frustrated and there it sits. Wish me luck.

Raz is a published author of two books Love Without Blood and Blood Between Lovers. We are very lucky to have him as one of the writers in our Lower Bucks Creative Writers Group that meets in Langhorne, PA every week.

I pruned the juniper shrubs, and the hydrangea vine because both have got out of control in my lower back yard. My back is screaming this evening from all the tugging I did on the dang English ivy that was overwhelming the yard.

I have one more task to complete on than I can crash. I am so ready but I needed to get some writing time in today. Sadly, this entry is all I’ve done since I worked in the yard for over 8 hours today,  then I came in and made strawberry, orange and rhubarb scones for the guest staying with this evening. She mentioned how she loves strawberry rhubarb pie this morning during breakfast when she was eating strawberries. She inquired if I make pies. I told no, I’m not a good pie maker. I told her about the strawberry rhubarb scones and muffins I’ve made. She thought that was interesting so I promised I would make her some. Lucky Sara gets to enjoy them too when she arrives tomorrow. This is the first time I put the oranges in and that addition made them spectacular. Tangy and sweet, yummy.


Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

Barack Obama

Sweet dreams

Scone variation 

I followed the same recipe except I added 1/2 cup more flour to compensate for the fruit. I added 1 cup of finely chopped rhubarb and 1 cup of chopped strawberries 🍓 and the zest of one halo tangerines and then I finished peeling it and chopped it up.  I baked them on 400 just like the original recipe but for 20 minutes because they were wetter than when I used the dried fruit and nuts.  I love how they’re tart and sweet.

Scone recipe

This is the recipe I’ve been using for the Airbnb guests and everyone has loved them thus far.
Recipe By:USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson
“Make a holiday breakfast — or afternoon tea — really special with these sweet bakery treats.”


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

I don’t do the frozen butter all the time either. If I have bars unfrozen I used my pastry blender or two forks to work it in. The end results are the same.

I’ve substituted the raisins or currants with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or dates and a half cup of chopped nuts. I’ve used walnuts, macadamia and almonds thus far. I’ve done a cup of blueberries too. I did strawberries and rhubarb but used only 1/2 cup of each. I’ve  also done a whole 12-ounce bag of cinnamon chips with chopped walnuts. As you can tell the substitutions are endless, just have fun.

I did them once without parchment paper and the bottoms browned too much, so I agree with Pam about using the paper to get a light golden bottom.

The great part in an air tight container they stay delightfully fresh for a week.

If you want to make them fancier drizzle icing on them.


Writer’s Resources and more

Author’s Connection

This link surprised me with the information available for writers. It’s always a good thing to double check before entering contests or submitting work for anthologies because the expenses can add up and if you’re like me money doesn’t grow on trees. I was surprised at how many bogus contests there really are.


I’m on round 82 the last round of part 12, I’ll post a picture when I’m done. I am very pleased with the turquoise, teal, and burgundy together. I’ve decided to do a hat and scarf in the three colors for me.


I made cinnamon macadamia scones and cranberry macadamia scones for the guests this weekend for breakfast. The fresh fruit is pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew melon. I also have Stonyfield French Vanilla yogurt. They shouldn’t be hungry.

For dessert in the evening, they have the choice of buttermilk sugar cookies, coffee white chocolate macadamia cookies, and double chocolate chunk cookies. I try to keep a varied selection on hand.  My favorite of this week’s selection is the coffee white chocolate macadamia ones, they are so moist!

Here’s the original recipe by Cindy. I never follow any recipe to the letter, it’s just me. I’m not a huge fan of almonds so I substituted chopped macadamia nuts and I used white chocolate instead of the chocolate. I didn’t bother to toast the macadamia nuts either. I also increased the vanilla to 2 teaspoons because I am a huge vanilla fan. However, you prepare them they are divine and the perfect adult cookie.

Recipe By: Cindy Carnes
“These cookies are a step above any you have ever tasted.”


  • 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Toast almonds in oven for 10 minutes or until brown.
  3. Dissolve coffee in 2 tablespoons hot water. In a separate small mixing bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer at a medium speed until fluffy. Pour coffee, vanilla and eggs into the butter mixture; mix well. Reduce mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  5. Fold chocolate chips and almonds into the dough. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.



“Memories may find me but they will always be behind me. I’ll take today over yesterday…any day ” unknown


Mandala Madness Among Other Things

Mandala Update

The last time I blogged I mentioned how I was going to bring some of the earlier colors back into the Mandala to help keep the colors fluid. I reintroduced orange and the light yellow in Round 11. As I was working with the yellow and orange it reminded me of a sunset so I decided to make the third color red. The Mandala measures 60 1/2 inches now and I really feel it on my legs when working on it. It’s quite heavy. I don’t think I will need another blanket with it in during the winter months.

Theresa Barker inquired how long the rows are taking now. Row 74 and 75 each took an hour to do because they were simply single crochet and then treble crochet. Rows 76 and 77 took almost 3 hours each because of the long sc and having to follow different patterns in each part. At this point, I have 100 hours invested in this project and I am on row 80 with 31 more rows to go.

In Round 12, I reintroduced the turquoise, burgundy, dark blue and teal to continue with the fluidity from the earlier sections. There are shells and scallops in this section so I know I will be spending more time.


We’ve hosted guests from Switzerland, Russia, and Poland thus far in addition to six U.S. travelers. We opened the door to guests on May 21st and we’ve had 12 so far. The calendar for July is pretty full already.  It’s been quite interesting to learn about the different lifestyles. I’m certainly acquiring great writing resources for down the road.

I did block the first weekend out in July after the 4th so we can go to Virginia for the oldest grandson’s 13th birthday. I still can’t believe he’s going to be 13. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

I’ve found for practical purposes cookies for the evening and a selection of scones for breakfast work the best. This allows me to cook only twice a week instead of daily. Though as quick as my scones disappear I make them more frequently. Cranberry nut and date seem to be the most popular which surprised me. I was sure the blueberry would disappear the quickest.  My banana nut muffins vanish every time I make them. On the weekends I make sure to whip up a batch. I always have fresh fruit to complete the offering.

Writing Update

I’m still not able to get more than 30-35 minutes a day.  I’ve just too many distractions going on and feel frustrated when my to-do list doesn’t disappear. Like this afternoon, the guest needed to arrive earlier than the 4 pm check in because he had meetings to attend in the evening so I had to get things done earlier. Normally, I write in the early morning or in the early evening. But with his arrival and return time different, writing is just getting done now when I should really be hitting the sack. I only had 2 hours of sleep last night, between the knee,  my migraine and a noisy husband. I’m running on caffeine.

Tomorrow is my real time writing group, I need to get something finished to share for critique. So come hell or high water tomorrow I will find time to write.

Remodeling Projects on the house that never stops giving and giving.

I finally got the sanding done on the fireplace wall, hopefully, I’ll be able to paint it this weekend. We don’t have anyone here on Sunday thus far. In the meantime, we’re tackling a leaky pipe tomorrow. The copper pipes have been springing pin hole leaks because the water is so acidic. I’m looking at the pipes and wondering what it is doing to my skin. We’ve decided a water filtration system as soon as we can afford it is next. Our cooking water I use the Brita filter pitchers and the refrigerator has a filtered water unit for drinking.  I chuckle when I fill the cat bowls with water from the fridge because they all love when the water is cold and come over to drink immediately. Sometimes, I toss ice cubes in and Macavity has a ball batting the cubes around. Who would have thought cats have water preferences?

Inspirational Quotes

Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguish the strong soul from the weak.~ Thomas Carlyle

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.~ Albert Einstein


Enjoy your evening.




Life in a Nutshell

I’m on Round 73 with the Mandala. I added orange, pale yellow and red from earlier rounds to bring the colors outward. My inspiration for part 11 was the fiery sunset, the sky glowed intensely Saturday evening with the beginning of our heat wave here in Jersey. Thankfully, today is the last of this heat and air advisory. I don’t mind the heat so much but 95 is more than I enjoy.  I’m crocheting the Mandala directly under a ceiling fan or I’d be roasting. The picture doesn’t do the three colors justice but next to the blue is the orange, then its yellow followed by the cherry red and when I begin Round 74 it will be yellow again then the orange will end this part. The stitches are hdc, dc and dtr which are easy enough to do.DSC_0019

I did sneak in a mental health break and worked on a seashell hat and scarf pattern that I saw on Rhondda’s  Oombawka Design Crochet. I was very pleased with how it worked up. I’m not thrilled with the buttons I’ve come across yet so that part isn’t done yet. The brown button isn’t large enough nor does it contrast enough. The white plastic just looks cheap to me. Maybe it’s just me because I really wanted a seashell about the size of the white button but finding it thus far has been quite frustrating.

I’m inclined to have the lighter turquoise be the front versus the darker only because so much of the darker turquoise shows on the hat. This is the first time, I’ve tried Caron’s Cake skeins, I loved how the colors unfolded in this pattern. I still have a small ball of yarn after completing the scarf and hat.

If you haven’t checked out Rhondda’s patterns they work real easy with the clear instructions. I’ve included the link to the next hat I’m going to do for my grandson.

Writing challenge for the week wasn’t as much as I hoped but I still did accomplish 35 minutes a day with the blogging challenge I am doing on and I wrote 2 poems that I’m still mucking with before I share them.

We’ve had guests at our home since last Tuesday until yesterday with the Airbnb part of our lives. Tuesday through Thursday, we had two writers join us because they were attending a writing conference in Princeton. Then we had a couple from DC up to watch their son in a soccer championship for the weekend. And the final guests were a one-night college couple that left a lot to be desired and encouraged me to change the details on my listing. Two of the three groups were awesome and we really enjoyed the conversations immensely. I was genuinely sad to see the DC couple leave.

After looking at Tami’s cinnamon rolls and broccoli alfredo I decided to make the alfredo Saturday evening for dinner, the lesser of the two evils much to Vic’s disappointment.  He’s not starving by a long shot. I made lemon cupcakes and apple brownies for the guests to enjoy and there were tons of leftovers. We had blueberry muffins and a lemon coffee cake for breakfast.  The alfredo, I decided to try a low-cal version with vegetable broth, flour, and a bit of olive oil instead of heavy cream with freshly grated parmesan and garlic. I added broccoli that I had sauteed with garlic and fresh herbs from the garden after the sauce began to thicken.  I love using fresh herbs. I grow rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, chives, and sage in rail planters.   It came out so good, Tami, thanks for the inspiration.  But I can never cook just for one meal so, on Sunday, I decided to add chicken and mushrooms which definitely took it to the next level. YUM!

Yesterday, I made us grilled cheese with tomato and fresh basil on sourdough bread for lunch. It was simply too hot to eat anything heavier and besides we had a dinner plan that was a lot more appealing. We went out for an ice cream date with our grandson, Chris. I don’t know about you but when it’s 92 degrees ice cream is a perfect dinner alternative. He enjoyed having ice cream instead of dinner too.

I’ve been enjoying reading USA Through Our Eyes posts about Rochester, New York. I learned a lot about the city and saw some lovely glimpses of the area. Gabe’s digital painting is really good , you should check it out.

If you’re looking for healthcare info  I suggest you check out my better half’s blog Crain’s Comments.

He’s a researcher and enjoys helping people be prepared for life’s unexpected nuances. If you have a question, he’s the person to ask, he’s really good at finding answers to health issues.

I’m going to close with Theresa’s challenge to write with our inner child creativity inspiring us to do something different than we normally write. That in itself is difficult to do because we’re just creatures of habit. At least, I know I am and writing differently sometimes makes me feel unnerved. I need my coffee cup and my pencil in hand. Even this blog entry I wrote the jest of it on paper and then copied it here on WordPress. I feel safe with my paper and pencil.

If you haven’t checked out Theresa’s Tattoo Girl, you’re missing an enjoyable read. I can’ t wait to see what happens next with Jaime and Corey.


“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. ”   

Soren Kierkegaard




Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

This recipe sounds so good, just got to share it. I’m with Yochet, loving the virtual dessert especially cinnamon rolls are my ultimate favorite.

Tanglewood Tapestry

Every Wednesday my son Bill comes over for dinner. I always make him a nice home cooked meal and send him home with some leftovers. I also make dessert every Wednesday too. It is the only night of the week that dessert is guaranteed.

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