A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day 2021

Cold and snowy, with lots of ice ushered in this year's Valentine's Day in the Mid-Atlantic. No outside activities with "black ice" on board every sidewalk and passageway. However, this all lends itself to snuggling on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate, and perhaps a piece or two of chocolate and a good movie! What's your preference? 

Here's hoping everyone enjoyed their day and/or weekend celebrating...or not. My guys got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers! Now, that is a nice way to treat a loved one who loves flowers like I do! Thankful! Blessed!



Quilt below made by me; blocks from a guild Block of the Month (February of a recent year!)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Wonky Winter Trees

Remember my 12 person "Showbox Swap" I mentioned a few weeks ago? I completed the first round with Cappy Phillips "Wonky Winter Trees." She gave us "carte blanche" to create wonky pine trees in soft "winter woods in the snow" colors...and feel. A lot of swappers are adding some coordinating fabrics to go along with whatever block they are requesting, and Cappy was no different. The background I used for her blocks was provided by her. She also had a dark green in the bag that I used the front and back of (Cappy always says we pay for two sides of the fabric, so why not use them if it's available to do so?). Not all fabrics can comply with that thought, but the green Cappy provided was just the ticket to use both sides! Violá!

I will be swapping the next round with my swap partner who also lives in Crofton. She will get the "Wonky Tree" ziplock bag ("shoebox"), and I'll get what she worked on the past couple of weeks. The swap will go on for the next year—heading not only to swappers in Maryland, but Arizona and Florida too! It will be very exciting in the next year on what everyone makes for everyone else. It's off the chart fun for us quilters! All of the ladies are inspirational and creative and I am thankful to be a part of a wonderful effort in this swap (thanks, Carrie for organizing!)



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

"Merry Christmas" on February 9, 2021

We all know the postal service is running a little behind, but come on! My order for Ryan's Christmas present was placed on December 9, 2020. I thought this was plenty of lead time before the Christmas holiday. Oh, how wrong I was. Ryan mentioned to me that he would like a larger cutting board instead of the ones in our repertoire—some barely bigger than a "postage stamp." After he cooks, grills and smokes, he typically needs to cut something (like a full chicken, or brisket). The smaller cutting boards do not cut it—pun intended! I took to the internet to find the "perfect" board so RyGuysBBQ can continue making delicious meals. I think I knocked it out of the park on the size (24"X18"), as well as the beautiful wood patina. I ended up purchasing the largest one they had because the reviews mentioned that you never want a smaller one. I heeded their advice for my purchase. I believe this piece of hardwood will last for generations! 

Christmas is a out of our sight, but today it was brought to the forefront after the delivery. "Merry Christmas, Ryan." He was very patient in waiting for its delivery. There was nothing we could do about that.

For those interested in a great cutting board, check out the  https://butcherblockco.com/boos-cutting-board



Sunday, February 7, 2021

Super Bowl LV

For 55 years the NFL's Super Bowl is the quintessential game of the year. However, it's in the last 20 years or so it's been a "big deal." From the advertisements, intermission acts and the price of a ticket, it's gone way over the top. We are comfortable to watch in on TV like the millions all over the world who will tune into the iconic game.

Buccaneers or Chiefs? It doesn't matter to me on the eventual winner, but let's have a good game, guys! To make the game interesting for our household, Ryan, one of the elite aficionado's of any game, sweetened our viewing experience by having us fill out a "prop bet" sheet by Draftkings. The winner collects a prize (provided by him), a $20 gift card to Target. I'm in! 



Thursday, February 4, 2021

Ice Age

I don't know about you, but if you like snow, do you like ice? However, these cold winter days turn that snow and then, perhaps a little rain when the temperatures go up a bit, then back to ice when the temperatures dip below freezing. It's a cycle as we all know, but maybe not love. Definitely a problem for walking on it, or driving if the roads are not serviced. I'm thankful to be ensconced (I like it better than "lockdown") in my home and taking no risks with the ice, except to walk on a cleared sidewalk to take the photo below!

BSoleille! Please stay safe!


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

February 2! Groundhog's Day and was Aunt Mary's Birthday!

It’s Groundhog’s Day in the USA and I think we may have six more weeks of winter if that Phil-guy saw his shadow, or not. Today is also my favorite aunt’s birthday! As a kid, Feb 2 was an easy day to remember. Unfortunately, I never had grandparents, so Aunt Mary enjoyed the status of being a “replacement” grandparent to me and my sisters with the added status of being the “favorite aunt.” My parents were the babies of their families, and got married a little later than life than their peers, so by the time they started their family all their parents had passed away years earlier. Older cousins of mine have many memories of my grandparents on both sides of the family, but old family photos of who they were cannot replace a pair of loving arms wrapped around a small child.

Thankfully, my Aunt Mary became that special person in my life. I spent a lot of time at her home, and she taught me the basics of cooking, and more preferably, baking. She and her sister, my Aunt Lottie, could have opened up a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, with their delicious delicacies. The Polish community would have patronized it and lines would have wrapped around a city block to get in, but that thought never entered their minds. For them, it was all about feeding their families and their nieces and nephews and their grandchildren—notice how I put nieces first?—to scrumptious Polish cuisine.

My first trip to Poland was with my Aunt Mary in 1977. We stayed with our family (home built in 1929) in Ostrów Mazowiecka (about 1.5 hour drive (East) of Warsaw—near the Russian border). The matriarch in Ostrów, Mira, was my aunt’s first cousin and it was the first time they had met. We had a ball touring and enjoying everything we could in Poland for six weeks! I also ran in the Polish Olympic Track Meet in Krakow as a 15 year old where my aunt was my chaperone.

I’ll write more about the track meet in a later post, but today it’s all about remembering my wonderful, and very favorite aunt, who loved me and catered to me whenever I could visit her (staying the weekend with her was the best!)

She would have been 107 today (I’ll do the math - she was born in 1914). Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary!

My husband, Bill, and Aunt Mary on our wedding day June 13, 1987. Sadly, Bill didn’t have grandparents either, or any aunts and uncles that he knew well, so Aunt Mary became his favorite aunt too! Their love for each other was mutual, and once married, we would both spend a day with her in her kitchen and “let her” cook the most delicious meals for us. Those special days will never be forgotten!




Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Arrived!

If you are a fan in snow and live in the US, I think we are all in good company. According to the weather-person, and more importantly, Mother Nature, most states are at least getting a dusting of snow today (along many states having the white stuff for some time). It's winter, so I cannot "complain." However, I will say, the first snowfall with anything substantial (a few inches) is pretty, though I used to like the white stuff more when I was younger. 

I took this photo of our dog Lucy a few years ago (she passed a few years ago), and today is a carbon copy of that day. Grey skies, white snow, but her black fur and piercing blue eyes stood out for all to see—about three people. We called her a "Labsky" a combination of Labrador and Husky. She loved the snow more than any dog we had, and would not come in for hours so she could play, and when done playing, lay on the freshly fallen flakes. She was quite the loner, so she didn't care if we were out with her or not, she did her own thing and seemed happy enough about it. We sure do miss that "one-bark-wonder." She barked one time a year—one woof—whether she needed to or not.

BSoleille! The brightside that winter is half over?


Saturday, January 30, 2021

End of January Sunset

The month of January is winding down with about 30 hours left of it. Surprisingly, the sunsets in January that I have touted for years did not have the beauty as in years past. Actually, December 2020 had more beautiful sunsets in the Mid-Atlantic than this month. The kind of funny thing about this is that we had probably 28 days out of 30 with brilliant sunshine during the day, but for me, the skies were not the same as usual. I'm not a meteorologist to figure this out, only a crackpot gal looking for a stunning sunset!

However, I took this sunset photo below yesterday, and it will have to suffice for this month's beauty. We all know...beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

Honking Ducks

Over the last several months the mallard ducks et al have been flying the friendly skies over my house, honking loudly and making a ruckus. I hear them flying over all day long, starting early in the morning which makes me smile. They must have places to go, because they go back and forth all day long for what? Meetings? Do they meet up with the ducks from a community or two over with all their happy squawking? 

BSoleille! The bright side of this being my 2,777th post! 



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

I Promise...The Focused Fight is Really Inching Closer

The Focused Fight, a book on my son's and family's cancer journey is inching closer to publishing. I'm ready for it to join my pile of books (these have all been read in 2020, plus several more I sent to friends this summer) to share with you and the "world." Right now it is in the proofing stage—and this part of the process cannot be rushed. The the final stage is formatting. Each day I get more excited about the entire process, it energizes me and continues to give me hope and inspiration. 

In the next several weeks, I'll keep you apprised of where the book stands, and when it will be available on Amazon. I am self-publishing, so I wear all the hats in the process and post production to bring it to its final stage of a bonafide book!

Thank you for being patient with me!

BSoleille! The bright side of reading over 35 books in 2020! Below photo shows most of them.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Lemon Kind of Kindness

 “The Best Daughter” recently sent me a recipe to try, and it sounded too delicious not to try it, so I was all in to make it. A one pot Turmeric and Ginger Chicken Veggie Soup for a cold winter January day. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and since I am considered the “queen of wing” on many things, I thought swapping out ingredients that I didn’t have for something else I did have would work just fine. How hard could that be? And would it really change it all that much, I pondered? When I thought again, yes, it probably would, especially not having the turmeric (the #1 ingredient and lead in the recipe heading), I had to figure out something…and quick.

However, when I realized that I didn’t have a lick of turmeric, parsley or kale (recipe called for all three) I thought I may be in a bit of a bind. I had already started the dutch oven with all the basic veggies—onion, garlic, celery and carrots and they were all simmering nicely together and filling the kitchen with a sweet aroma. The next part called for the spices I did not have, except I did have ginger, but it seemed that I couldn’t go on without the other two spices.

In that moment of reckoning, I called two neighbors for said spices and neither had them. When I hung up the phone with the last neighbor, my son started walking down the hallway towards the kitchen. I offhandedly mentioned my dilemma, and he actually said he’d be happy to go to the store to pick up the missing ingredients. I was floored (I told him I’d go but I still had some slicing and dicing to do). Within minutes he grabbed his car keys and off he went for said spices. I was thrilled on the offer which allowed me to finished up all the cutting (chicken and zucchini). When I looked at the recipe again (back side of my 3x5 index card) I realized that I needed a lemon to add at the end of the simmering. Ouch!

Back to the drawing board on missing ingredients, but a quick call to my son met with nada: he didn’t answer his cell phone. I figured he must be driving back. In a flash, I then sent a quick text just in case. I never heard back from him until he arrived back home.

He walked through the door with big grin all the ingredients I asked for, and the last minute addition of a lemon. He said he didn’t notice the call come in, and had started the engine of his car when he realized I sent a text. He then said he stopped the car, got out and went back in the grocery store to purchase not one, but two lemons to make sure my recipe worked out! Kindness in it’s best form! I love that kid!

I finished cooking up the soup and it was delicious - with enough leftover for tomorrow at least!



Friday, January 22, 2021

Chobe Nat'l Park Botswana Elephants

I thought I'd post something fun and interesting regarding a herd of elephants doing there thing at sundown in the bush of Botswana! I took this video on February 15, 2016. I am with Helen Gruneisen on fantastic safari of a lifetime! This is the first time this video has been available to view online and I love all these majestic souls showcased here. I hope you feel the same, and may they bring a smile to your face today!


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Winter Timber

It is no surprise when you drive through a large metropolitan downtown city, you are bound to be stopped by a plethora of annoying lights. Most often, they seemed to always turn red as soon as you drive up to one, and the next one and the next (and they are like 50 yards a part!) Only when you need to look at something important do you get a green light, or so it seems. Yesterday, while driving through downtown Baltimore, Maryland with my son, we were stopped at an especially long red light when I took a glance to my left and saw a hauntingly beautiful tree.

I felt drawn to this stark winter timber which, frankly, took my breath away. I desperately wanted to take a photo of it, but my phone was buried deep into my coat pocket. Of course, my seat belt was fastened tightly across my body, and I couldn’t decide whether I would try and fight with the seatbelt and fish the phone out of my pocket before the light changed, or let the image remain in my mind. After a few seconds when the light did not change, I chose the former. I started squirming just enough to loosen the seat belt and retrieve the phone to snap the one and only photo below before the light finally turned green.

When I got home and took a closer look at the photo, I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed while sitting at the light—the mirror image in the glass window to the left of the tree. Striking!



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Shoebox Swap and No Shoes!

I am thrilled that I have some very creative quilting/sewing friends that are forging ahead with an old-fashioned block swap—a "shoebox swap." Instead of using a shoebox though, a large ziplock bag is our method of sending our blocks (and other paraphernalia like fabrics and instructions) back and forth and encompassing three states. I am in the process of preparing my ziplock bag with a couple of examples to swap with the first of 10 people playing the game. Block swaps are quite popular; some are international that can be found on social media platforms to play. The one that I am involved with we will go until the end of 2021. Every month we will we make blocks and then swap. Easy peasy and fun! 



Photo of my barrel of scraps ready to spring into action!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Go Browns!

It's been over 25 years that Bill and I were season ticket holders for the Cleveland Browns (split with twin Don), and thoroughly enjoyed many fun years heading to the stadium to cheer them on during a lot of snowy Sundays. All games we went to were in the old Cleveland Stadium right on the Lake, and typically very cold from the winds swirling around inside the stadium (many games at 10 or 20 degrees not counting the wind chill). 

As this season progressed, the team was gaining traction in winning games, and in turn, began winning fans all over the USA once again. I thought they would make it all the way to the Superbowl this year, but the KC Chiefs had a great last minute play to win the game and stop the "plan" for the Browns to advance. I guess there is always next year.

If the Browns couldn't win, Chef Ryan pulled out the stops to grill and smoke a delicious meal to go along with the game, and he, of course, won over his "fans." Yummy!



Friday, January 15, 2021

A Bad Day in the Bush?

When I snapped this photo in a South African bush (Madikwe) in 2015, I loved how this female lion's body language communicated that perhaps she was having a "bad" day/night, and she needed some rest. Who knows if she was thinking of the "one" that got away from her that she "counted" on for last night's dinner. Or, maybe her pride of siblings wouldn't share with her their own take of a late night kill. And then, do lion's even think? Or is everything with them, and thousands of other animals, all instinctual?

When I take a closer look at the photo though, sometimes I see sadness, and that attitude of, "I can't take another minute of it." Sound familiar? 




Thursday, January 14, 2021

Crystal Light!

No, it's not the drink powder...it's the streaks of rainbow colors that light across my walls, or in today's post, my book. Instead of curtains or drapes, I have a plethora of crystals that hang in my southwestern facing windows that showcase a beautiful array of color whenever it's sunny (and it's a lot—even in January!) When I sat down to read this morning, with a cup of hot tea at the ready, the sunlight was great enough to light up my page, and I had to share the joy of light with you. 

It's the simple things in life...



The book is: The Liar's Club by Mary Karr

Monday, January 11, 2021

What's You "Word" for 2021?

It took me 11 days, but I found my word for 2021. I’ve thought about it ever since I read a story from someone in my writing class about choosing a word for the year. Apparently, I never got the memo, but lots of folks pick a word for the year, and to live their year in "word," so to speak. Mine is not sexy, but fits me for today, and perhaps the coming year: centered.

In a spiritual way, which writing can be (as well as so many of our own endeavors), is where I know this word will be for me in 2021. I think it's a good one, and I hope to remain 'centered' when my mind and heart start to wander and lose focus. It's so easy to do, right? Probably not...

Maybe one of my readers will feel that this would be a good exercise to do too?! Find their own word? Who knows? Maybe at the end of the year we can swap stories on how "one word" made a difference in our lives, or not. If you feel comfortable to share, please do, and I thank you!



Photo taken in Indiana 2019 - butterly perfectly centered while flitting from place to place (a great lesson!)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Has the Travel Bug Hit Yet?

I wonder if a lot of people are being enticed with super low fares to travel the USA or world? There are $29 fares being offered on Southwest Airlines, and very inexpensive fares on Emirates as well. These fares offered are so good on the pocketbook, but frankly, I'm not ready to commit to anything right now, only dreaming of "some day." Thankfully, my phone has a treasure trove of photos from travels that I can "put myself right back there"and reminisce. I'm confident we will all be able to get back to our "regularly scheduled lives" in due time, but I can't lie...and can't wait until the "coast is clear" once again for all of us! Maybe we can practice saying, "bon voyage," so when we can, we have it down pat!



Photo below: a lion "laughing" Feb. 2015 Madikwe, South Africa

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Inching Along with Post Production

As I've mentioned in previous blogposts, writing a book is hard, but the post production is no joke, and requires “almost” the same amount of deep thought as all the writing. I met today with a good friend who “offered” to format my book. She is a retired graphic artist who worked in the magazine business for over 40 years. She has a wealth of knowledge to help me format the copy and I was amazed as she glided across her keyboard like playing a Mozart sonata on a Steinway piano. She then began spewing out ‘Greek’ graphic design words to me like, “styling, bleed, kerning, leading, ratios, breaks, placeholders, widows and orphans” and a whole bunch more as she worked through the layout of the first couple of chapters of my manuscript. I learned a lot today, including that there are over 120 words that graphic designers use to craft their magazine articles and layouts, book layouts and all the rest.

Frankly, too much for me to learn and try to do myself to get my book published, so I am glad she stepped in to help this “damsel in distress.”



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Scottish Writer Andrew Cotter and his Dogs Save the Day in USA!

Does anyone follow Andrew Cotter and his two labs, Olive and Mabel? Mr. Cotter is a leading commentator in Scotland and Britain for sports coverage: golf, rugby, tennis and track&field. He has worked for many sports broadcasting companies, but with the pandemic, most of the sports he commentated on shriveled to nothing, nada, no sports. But, he has two labs that "saved" him, and a lot of his followers during the early days of the pandemic (and then the rest of the year). His hilarious commentating on his dogs antics has delighted thousands around the world to date. His new book: Olive, Mabel & Me is a best seller. (I have a copy!)

I know it was a tough day for Americans, but when my alarm went off at 7:00 p.m., I vaguely remembered that I had signed up for a zoom call with Mr. Cotter, Olive and Mabel. I wasn't the only one, of course, he also had a slew of fans from around the world on the zoom for a Q&A and discussion about his book. I took a gamble and asked him in the feed if he would ever commentate on an English Premier Game (EPL). My heart fluttered when he addressed me by name and said he loved the name "Terri Tomoff." He said it with a perfect lilting Scottish accent, even rolling the r's in Terri, much to my delight. The answer though, was a definite, "No," for commentating on any "futbol." His love is rugby and tennis.

Mr. Cotter burned the late night oil as it was 1:00 a.m. at the start of the call for him and his dogs (sleeping quite soundly until he pulled out two biscuits, mind you), yet he was enjoying his time with his many followers and sharing tidbits about himself, the writing process, and of course, dishing on Olive and Mabel. He is laugh out loud funny, and just the ticket to "rescue" the day of our newsreels from today. 

If you love dogs, or not, but want to tune into his funny commentating on his dogs, most all his videos are on youtube and easy to find. My favorite is the "fetid waters."



Monday, January 4, 2021

Post Production of The Focused Fight!

I don't know much, but I can tell you one thing about writing a book, it's hard, and it's not just the writing part. The post production is "almost" as hard, but with a great editor and beta readers, and aligning everything to eventually "ship," as it's moving forward inch by inch makes it all worthwhile. Everyone has a story to share, it's getting it "written" down that can seem daunting (it sure did for me).

But The Akimbo Writing In Community program that gave me the push is now scheduled to offer a second Writing in Community class this coming March, 2021. I will post the link once it's out and gets closer, and I highly recommend it if you need a little push too to get your words out to the world. It's not for everyone, but maybe for someone. 

The "slogan" in these Akimbo classes, or for anything creative for that matter, is drip, drip, drip...ship!



Photo from 2006 and our trip to The Price is Right (a mini wish trip for Ryan/family)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

All, Or Nothing At All - Frank Sinatra Documentary

When I looked at my mission from 9 years ago, daily musings about life and current events was also something I could possibly comment on while blogging. It was about that time frame when Netflix began streaming their own content (House of Cards, anyone?), and then the floodgates opened to a new platform, and as they say, the rest is history. Can anyone watch regular TV anymore? I think the more and more I watch Netflix or it's competitor, Amazon Prime, it's tough to go back to regular TV because of all the commercials. Do you agree? 

I like the shows offered, but I truly enjoy documentaries. I love learning about people, ideas or history that make me think, or show me a part of life I knew nothing about before tuning in. It's a win-win. 

Over the last two days, I watched the Netflix documentary on Frank Sinatra: "All or Nothing at All." You don't have to be a fan, but if you are a fan of culture and history for as long as this crooner performed, you may like it. I thought it was well done (documentary made in 2015), and it's two episodes of about two hours each can be split into two days, or go for it, and watch both on a binge worthy night. I can tell you, I'm "spreading the news" right now, and you maybe humming his famous, "New York, New York" tune well after the credits roll.



Photo below: stock photo of free images

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021!

We can all hope this new will bring happiness and joy and a healthy world population at some point. I can probably say, it's all going to be very interesting as we move forward in 2021 on how it all goes down. A positive attitude can help!

Today also starts my 10th year on this blog, and I can't believe it. The very first year, 2012, I never missed a day. The second year, I missed a few, but as the years piled up, I considered myself an "almost" daily blogger. My wish is for that to continue this year as well; not everyday posting, but most days is the ultimate goal.

I would also like to announce that I finished all the writing from my memoir/book: The Focused Fight and am very excited about it and can't wait for my words to be out in the world soon. There is a lot of post production work involved, but rest assured, I'll be posting more about it all as I inch along in the process. 



Photo below: Valley of Fire, Nevada 2016 with "The Best Daughter"