and here we are again


I’m blogging on the Kindle so this won’t be a long post.  We flew to New Orleans very early Friday morning and have been eating and walking ever since.  And music!  It’s everywhere and thank goodness it is.

Banjo Man’s sister and husband flew in to join us Friday afternoon.  They were in the city 43 years ago for a conference so…it’s been a while.  They rediscovered beignets yesterday, much to their joy.

We are taking them to our favorite places.

Instead of letting them go to bed early we dragged them across the street (just kidding, they were good sports) to Fritzel’s for a couple of hours of traditional jazz.

More tomorrow, after I borrow Banjo Man’s laptop…

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winter window



I intend to do this as soon as I get home in January.


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thank you, sir alexander fleming

Sir Fleming, a Scottish physician and microbiologist, invented penicillin in 1928 and I thought he deserved a shout out from a 66-year old retired writer in Rhode Island who is presently quickly recovering from a rather nasty bacterial infection.

Boy, when antibiotics work the way they’re supposed to it really does feel like a miracle.

Thank you for all of the emails and phone calls.  It was a little scary, I admit, but I’m doing just fine now.  72 hours after the first Cephalexin the red swelling on my arm had disappeared, the pain is gone and I even had a little energy, which was enough to do a little laundry and pack up some Christmas presents for Banjo Man to take to the Post Office.

Today I’m actually going to get dressed in decent clothes and go to town to get my hair cut.   In a few days we head out of town for a joyous family Christmas reunion.  It will be the first time in 10? 12? years that my three oldest children will be together at Christmas.

I wish I could bake him some cookies.



My hero.




Posted in a more pie opinion, family, personal female whining, rhode island | 2 Comments

the big easy beckons

Banjo Man and I are off to New Orleans soon.  The “City That Care Forgot” awaits us.



New Orleans, 2016


There will be gumbo.  And music.



My personal breakfast band.

No one is more excited than Banjo Man.  He has read hundreds of restaurant reviews and planned every meal.  He wants to try new places and be more adventurous.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

So we are packing for New Orleans and Austin, as we hop a plane to Texas after we’ve had our fill of gumbo and jazz.  Is it possible to have too much gumbo and jazz?  I think not.









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the quiltmaker’s gift


My French Friend Janou sent this to me for my birthday.  It’s about a quiltmaker who only makes quilts to give away and a greedy king who will do anything to get one of them.

MFFJ thought I would love reading this to the Funny Grandson, a kid who really loves his grandmother’s quilts.

Be still my heart.

Here’s the inside flap:


The story is wonderful and the illustrations are brilliant.

As I am working through my least favorite sewing chores this morning–stitching labels on quilt gifts and readying boxes to take to the Post Office–reading this book with my morning coffee was a reminder of how special quilts can be.

Loved it.  Thank you, my friend.



Posted in books & music, family, friends, quilting, rhode island | 1 Comment

time to make the cookies


Sam and his parents indulged my need to make Christmas cookies Friday afternoon.

Thank you.

Check out these “trees”.


They looked better on the internet than they did in real life (not exactly a surprise) but Sam loved decorating them.  I made a batch of shortbread dough, rolled it into a triangle shape, and then (after chilling a bit) cut them into 3/8″ thick “trees”.  Half a pretzel stick was inserted to make a trunk, then they were baked at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

While they were baking, Sam and I made the green frosting and discovered my 37-year old mixer had died.  The motor just made a “whirr” sound, but nothing happened.


End of an era.  Purchased from the Spiegel catalogue and used with great joy.  It came with a food grinder and a blender.

So I got out the little hand mixer and we soon had plenty of green frosting for the trees.

And we attempted to make candy cane cookies, though at first it was a bit of a disaster.   Sam, a Play Doh veteran, turned the dough into all sorts of shapes and we ended up with a tray full of yummy butter cookies.

I also learned that Sam loves pretzel sticks.

Here’s my trusty shortbread recipe.  God only knows how old it is and how long it has been in my recipe box.

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup of sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Gently mix in flour mixed with salt.  Chill.  Roll about 3/8-1/2″ thick on floured board.  Bake at 300 for 20-25 minutes, until dry but not browned.  Note:  I baked my trees 30 minutes until slightly brown so they would be harder and therefore easier to spread frosting on.



All finished.



Rest in peace.






Posted in food, friends, rhode island | 2 Comments

birthdays with friends

Today is my birthday.  It always (except for my 40th, which was painful) makes me happy to have survived another year.

Let’s face it:  being alive is great fun.  Or should be.  If you have the health to enjoy it, you should count yourself lucky and celebrate.

As my dear friend Omar Beshir used to say, “Every day I wake up is a good day.”

Banjo Man and I have just returned from town and now it is snowing pretty hard.  This storm is only supposed to last until tomorrow morning and has no wind to accompany it, so it’s a pretty, wintery scene outside.

My birthday isn’t turning out the way I’d planned (errands and lunch or dinner out), due to complications from having had my first pneumonia shot 9 days ago.  I had a sore arm for a few days afterward, but nothing terrible.  But yesterday I woke up with a large red area on my upper arm and for days I’ve felt really tired and achy.

It’s easy to ignore feeling tired and achy, but not so easy to ignore a burning, hot, red spot on your arm.   After a long wait at CVS’s “Minute Clinic” this morning, I learned I have a bacterial infection from the pneumonia shot.  I now have a large bottle of antibiotics to take for the next 10 days.  I should be feeling better within a couple of days.

So Banjo Man and I are looking forward to a cozy afternoon and evening here.  He has a new Scotch to sip, I am in the middle of a good book, and both of us will be on the Giant Couch later on with our quilts, tv remotes, and the new season of The Crown.

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate with my mother and daughter and Banjo Man–hurray for pepperoni pizza!–when the sun comes out and I’m feeling more energetic.

I have my birthday cards displayed on the pie safe and they make me smile every time I look at them.  Last September the Band Chicks surprised me by celebrating my December birthday a few months early.


Linda’s flags of peace.

We also celebrated Retired Mountain Lady’s October 1st birthday, along with a baby shower for Mandolin Ann’s upcoming grandchild.  There were presents galore!!!

We Band Chicks know how to have a good time. 

Julie gave me this really cool pie pan.

IMG_0036There are more pies in my future, obviously.

Speaking of pies, dinner tonight will be one of my own chicken pot pies presently in the freezer.   I always think of those chicken pot pies as “emergency” food and today qualifies as the perfect time to bake some yummy comfort food using very little time or energy.

And speaking of baking…yesterday afternoon my friend Sam came over and we made Christmas cookies together.

There is nothing on earth more fun that baking with a 4-year old.  Photos tomorrow.

I’m gathering pillows and blankets and heading to the couch to watch a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie or two.  Thanks to modern medicine, things are looking up!





Posted in friends, rhode island | 2 Comments

a little bit of shopping


Love the colors.

Twice a year we look at fabric, talk about fabric and…buy fabric.  By “we” I mean Harley Chick and Aunt Pat and I.   We returned to one of our favorite places, the fabric store in an old mill building in Franklin, Massachusetts.


Checking fabric requirements on the phone?

I love this parking sign.


And this welcome sign.


Harley Chick and I wore our cowboy boots because, well, we love to wear our cowboy boots.  It’s what we do!

We spent about two hours in the store until we were practically fainting from hunger.  But before we found a restaurant, we stopped at one more quilt store.  I bought a lot of “neutrals” there, because it’s the time of year when I make the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt and she requires a lot of neutral fabrics in her designs.

I am not a fan of neutrals.  Give me colors and flowers and designs of all kinds, but don’t give me these.


I really hope they liven up once they’re in a quilt.

We ate at a Mexican restaurant and then, bellies full and wallets empty, headed back home.  Aunt Pat would be dropped off in Grafton and Harley Chick and I would make the long drive back to the RI coast.

Such a fun tradition with such good friends.


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escape to mystic


I escaped the house on Small Business Saturday.  I would like to tell you that I was determined to support the area’s small businesses, but that would be a…fib.  While I never would have ventured outdoors on Black Friday, I really needed to get out of the house on Saturday and it didn’t really matter where I went or what I bought or didn’t buy.

You see, we’ve had a leaking pipe underneath the kitchen sink and Saturday morning Banjo Man was going to dismantle the insides of that kitchen cabinet and remove the rotten wood.

This was going to be a messy and frustrating and smelly project.

So by 9 AM I was in the car, fleeing the scene.  It was a gorgeous morning.  I had coffee.  Life was good.

Thirty minutes south of us is the seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut.  Right off the interstate is the shopping village of Olde Mistick, a lovely walking area of cute shops.  Everyone who visits us loves strolling and shopping there.

Down the road, on the water, is Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the United States.  Want to know more?  Check it out at:

Keep driving and you’ll arrive at the actual town of Mystic, with its old buildings and waterfront views.  And yes, “Mystic Pizza” of movie fame.

My destination was a tiny fabric store–of course– in the middle of Mistick Village.



I was home by noon, in time to get a beef stew assembled and put in the oven.  Banjo Man had successfully completed his project.  I had a little bag of new fabric (25% off in honor of Small Business Saturday–hurray!) and some time to clean the house.

While I was gone, the propane stove in the lower level of the house quit working.  We think it’s a thermo-coupler (???) and can’t get a repairman out here for two weeks.

On Monday morning my internet browser caught a virus and I haven’t been able to get rid of it.  I’m using Google Chrome for the moment, but it’s not easy.

The pipes under the sink are still leaking.  The cupboard door won’t close.

And the dishwasher is making some seriously bad noises.

I think it’s time to go on vacation.





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happy thanksgiving 2017

I am so grateful for a sunny day.



Centerpiece for dining table #2.


I am grateful for pumpkin lights.


I am grateful for velvet pumpkins.  I love them.  In fact, I love pumpkins of all kinds.


And I’m so happy I found this little trough at a consignment store.  It was white with red scrolls–very Christmasy–so I sprayed it with ivory chalk paint and filled it with pumpkins and little lights.

Not quite Pinterest-worthy, but it will do.

The turkey is in the oven, the dressing is in the crock pot (a new recipe–hurray!) and the vegetables are ready and waiting in the fridge.  And I think the house is finally clean enough for company!  Banjo Man and I have to shower and dress, but we’re taking our time.

Wishing you all a lovely, family-and-friend-filled Thanksgiving Day!

More Pie



Posted in family, food, friends, rhode island | 1 Comment