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Category Archives: randomness

My 1920s Upright Piano

20120405-082223.jpgWhen I was a girl, I loved to play piano. In elementary school my parents bought a used piano for me to practice on. Found in a newspaper ad at a reasonable price of $250 and kept in someone’s finished basement in Great Falls Montana, I absolutely fell in love with it. I mean, come on. It had been refinished in the 70s in AVOCADO GREEN before I was even BORN. At the time, I recall Mom telling Dad we would strip it and refinish it.

I love older things. They don’t have to be worth much in the views of antique experts to appeal to me – if it’s unique, old, and quirky, I’m bound to at least consider adoring it. Check out a photo of my 64 Streamline here.

We had it professionally tuned for years, and it has moved with us. We learned a bit about it. It was made in 1920. Solid mahogany is underneath the avocado. It can be completely taken apart, piece by heavy piece. L. Ricca & Son in New York provided the warranty. The previous owner said it was originally used as a saloon piano in Montana.

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My piano teacher was an amazing lady named Leslie. She was very tall, slender in her Lycra leggings and bright tops and colorful heels, with terrifically long nails always painted in fantastic designs. She was so sweet and kind and fun. No piano teacher could hold a candle to her. She came to the house once a week, and I learned to really play on my piano. I played Bach, Beethoven, Christmas music, and Richard Marx, Bryan Adams, Janet Jackson, and more late 80s/early 90s music. I practiced for competitions and performances. It helped me to win a few trophies in elementary and middle school – before my social life intervened and I deemed myself “too busy” to take lessons.

When I got married, it came with me. When my children were born, it used to distract them from whatever they were crying for while they sat on my lap. Later it was pounded on by toddler hands. Then some years passed and the keyboard stayed closed; only recently has it been rediscovered. It gets played from time to time now. At parties, a wedding we hosted here last December, and whenever my kids want me to teach them something on it.

It has never been refinished – by me, I mean. The green is part of its personality. Part of its identity.

I absolutely adore my piano.

A blogger’s kitchen bloopers

In trying to come up with a new idea for a recipe to post here (have a suggestion? Let me hear it!), I was looking through some of my past recipes and photos when a few mess-ups caught my eye. Before I delete them, I thought I’d share. Things aren’t always perfect in this gluten free kitchen of mine – though I am a self-admitted perfectionist, so I know that has an influence as well. I’ve been blogging since November 2011, and I have a few kitchen blogging recipe disasters under my belt now. Want to see them? Of course you do!

The muffins that got a bit too ambitious.

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This seemed like grounds to purchase a new oven to me. Oh well.
Ah, it was such a mess to clean up.

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My first attempt at GF monkey bread. I did this one weekend a few months back when Joe and I were going to have a GF pull-apart sweet bread competition. Gluten free bread dough is incredibly sticky and wet – the money bread didn’t work out right. I’m convinced it can be done…and I’ll do just that, someday. Anyways, lucky for me, his pull-apart cinnamon rolls experiment flopped as well – so I got off pretty easy. *I* had, after all, created something edible. 😉

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Then there was the time I slaved over my mixer, making a recipe I hade made for weddings, dinners, and parties at my home that was always met with rave reviews. So I decided to make it and share here. I took all the time to prep and mix and then piped the potato mixture carefully and prettily into the shells…only to space out on the oven temp and cook them too low. The piping design disappeared.

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Yes. It’s been pointed out to me that that really wasn’t a huge mess up, as they were still quite delish. But? Why did I bother to go to all the trouble of piping them if they were going to flatten? It’s strictly a matter of principal. You were supposed to stay PRETTY, do you hear me?!

Maybe I’ll do them again another time. At the higher temp.

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My first attempt at gluten free onion rings flopped. So it became Onion Ring Casserole!
Yeah. My family was not real impressed.

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Okay, okay. This isn’t my flop. It just really annoys me though. Come on, Johnsonville. Beddar? Really? Yuck yuck yuck. Though I suppose I should be grateful you didn’t spell “cheddar” like “chetter” or something.

I wish I hadn’t deleted the pics of my step-by-step on turning sugar to a lovely caramel and then into a hard burnt dry sugary mess in my enameled cast iron. I wish I had documented a few other recent lovely fun messy kitchen disasters that I was involved in. But alas. I have no fear – I’m quite certain that I have my share of messes ahead of me still.

Have a great day!

~glutenvygirl

My Velvet Aroma Contest Winnings!

So…remember the contest I won with the help of my wonderful friends and readers? You know. This one, over at Velvet Aroma.
Well…I’ve received all the prizes now! I’ve been so excited. I thought I’d share some photos of my winnings here!

Check this out:

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A lovely gourmet foodie gift set from Love With Food, a $100 gift card from Williams-Sonoma – and the ice cream maker attachment that I purchased with it, and recently the KitchenAid 2-speed hand blender sent direct from KitchenAid arrived!

I think I am the luckiest girl in the universe. 🙂
It was my first contest ever, and I was so incredibly thrilled with coming in first place! A huge thank you again to all who voted for me! ❤

Be sure to check out the sponsor, Velvet Aroma – it is a great site to organize recipes and photos from your favorite online sources!

xoxo
-glutenvygirl

Thank you! Awards Received

I’ve been away for a bit, due to some family events, happenings, illnesses, as well as vacations. Well, I’m back! And now, to start things off right, I have a bunch of awards to tell you about!

I’ve been nominated for quite a few awards; as a novice blogger who is new to the scene, this absolutely blows my mind! A huge THANK YOU to my lovely peers for the noms! I must confess that I wasn’t sure how to respond to them at first, since I didn’t really feel qualified to continue the threads and nominations, as I knew so little about it all. At some point during my brief leave of absence though, I realized that I needed to thank those who took the time to nominate me, and share their links. It’s the least I can do, to return the kindness of a connection that they invested into me and my little blog here.

So…

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First, I have to thank Art over at Zendictive for the nomination of the Liebster Award. I love visiting his blog; check it out! I promise that you’ll walk away with something to think or smile about. Promise.

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I have a few to thank for the Versatile Blogger Award as well. A big thank you to my friends:
•Stacy at Jonesin’ After 40 – I love love love her hilarious sense of timing and humor! Really cracks me up!
•Joe at Joe’s Primal Scream – Totally enjoyable, snarky, intelligent musings about the world, with some Primal/Paleo recipes and ironic photos and thrown in. I adore his quirky writing style and his humorous take on life!
•Bianca at Glitter the Air. – A new follower; I look forward to learning more about this blogger!

I also want to thank Blue Jelly Beans
for the host of awards and the meme she nominated me for here.

I think that covers it all! Again, thanks to all! It means the world to me to have been nominated to receive these awards. Each of these awards I’ve been given have different and varied rules and responses; so by breaking the rules and not nominating or answering questions, I may have disqualified myself from receiving these awards. I hope that isn’t the case; I simply wanted to thank everyone properly, yet I’m ill-prepared at the moment than to do more than send heartfelt thank-yous. I truly appreciate the honors! I do hope that I’ve included every award from every blogger who nominated me; please let me know if I missed one.

There are so many blogs I regularly check out and read that I have missed dearly this last month; I cannot wait to catch up on them all!

I have many many favorite bloggers whom I subscribe to and enjoy; some of them are the ones who comment on my blog posts 😉 so if you’re looking for some reading recommendations, first check out those who nominated me, and then those who comment. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a really great blogger community and sweet wonderful readers!

PS I’ve missed you all so much! I’m thrilled to be back :))

On grief, death, loss, and judgement

This week, I haven’t been around a lot, on here or online in general. I’ve had much on my mind, and this has tended to occupy the majority of my scattered waking thoughts lately.

Specifically, death. Death and grief.

Recently, a sweet friend of mine lost her husband to cancer. My heart breaks for her – in some big ways, as well as in a million little ways (more on the little ways in a bit). Not only for her pain, but also for the pain she must certainly have as a mother, seeing your young child experience such grief as well. It is a double-dose of a heavy burden.

As a parent, watching your children grieve truly takes you to another plane. It clears away a lot of the cloudiness and the clutter and almost entirely focuses one’s heartbreak, on both the person you’ve lost as well as the pain that your child or children are experiencing.

Sometimes, as parents, we do things a bit differently when it comes to kids and grief and death and loss. We take more pictures and share them. We talk about it. A lot. We may celebrate memories differently with them. We do things that perhaps aren’t orthodox, or that perhaps you won’t approve of. Why? Because we value our child’s heart higher than we value a critical stranger’s sensitivities or gossipy family member’s opinions. If you don’t want to see, then don’t look. Don’t ask them to change, don’t ask them to remove a heartbreaking photo from Facebook, don’t ask them to avoid mentioning the deceased in your presence. Have some compassion and leniency.

Grief and loss are inevitable. We all will experience it, in many different ways. We all will process it in very different ways and forms as well.

It saddens me greatly when I see others judge those who are knee-deep in their grief. When we use our own expectations and opinions towards death and grief to view others through the window of our own biases, we aren’t seeing them clearly. More importantly, what we think doesn’t matter. Everyone embarks on their personal journey of grief alone in a sense, no matter how many loved ones are around them and supporting them. It can get quite lonely. It shouldn’t have to be said, but it isn’t the time to critique how they are coping or to pass judgement on what you think about how they are handling it. It isn’t the time to criticize. It is the time to hush up your critical mouth and hold open your arms.

Just a few days ago, the topic of grief and coping came up in conversation with a dear friend of mine. He had also lost his significant other, quite suddenly in an auto accident. He was asking me about how I dealt with grief, and if I had any advice to share. I really didn’t have much of great worth to share, in my opinion. And I hate that. Because I know what it must take to ask that question of another, when your heart is aching.

Let’s talk about muscle.

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My friend Amber’s guns. She’s incredible. ❤

What I did say to my friend, that he sweetly called a beautifully accurate description, is that in my experience grief is a lot like a muscle. We all have it. And when we use it, when grief and death and loss occurs, our muscle fibers and flesh rip, tear, and break. It hurts. It burns. Then, our body miraculously attempts to heal this tear, to make repairs, and in turn the muscle gets stronger. It is a never ending process though. Ripping flesh, healing, tearing muscle, repairing.

We experience setbacks, more tears, sprains, strains, and aches. But that muscle gets stronger throughout it all. Grief and memory hurt. Always. But….to me, it almost becomes a natural movement, moving with that ever-present grief. We find a groove, moving in and out of sadness and heartache and strength. Graceful in a way, with moments of clumsiness and brief episodes of panicky free-falls. And then, one day, you find yourself doing something that not long ago would’ve sent you into a bawling messy heap on the floor, and you realize that you are doing it and doing it competently, and that once in a while, it almost feels…well, good. Good is not the right word though, is it? More like…familiar. Becoming familiar.

You’ve now trained your body to cope in new ways. Ways that only someone who has ever experienced a great loss can begin to comprehend.

Grief can show up anytime. Feelings of loss can hit anyone. It isn’t just those expected big events, anniversaries, and memories that work that muscle, either. It shows up in a million little ways, as well. The memories that show up unannounced and barge right in on you when you’re in the middle of a speech and your voice breaks. The too-vivid dreams that wake you up feeling too-strong longing juxtaposed with a hint of thankfulness. The moment when you glance across the restaurant and see someone spooning sugar into their coffee in the exact same way as your lost loved one, and you drop your own spoon with a clatter. The child whose grin echoes another one that you haven’t seen in years and for a moment you can’t breathe. Overhearing someone calling their child by a nickname that your deceased parent used to affectionately refer to you, and your heart skips a beat. A million little ways that rip that flesh over and over and over again.

Grief is personal. Loss is personal. Ultimately, it is us. It is me. It is you. You and your loved one. The best any of us can do for someone grieving is to listen and to be there, open arms. Your grief muscle is growing and growing, and you will need that support system and those understanding hearts around you – to hold you up when weak, to lend a hand when needed, to admire your strong muscles that you are building.

With My Sincerest (IR)Regards

Hilarious post. Enjoy!

Joe's Primal Scream

I am not the only one that gets a little irritable about this. There is a quiet anger seething beneath the surface of seemingly calm Americans. It’s about word/phrase/idiom abuse, misuse or even overuse. The other day I witnessed an old lady at a local shop sitting to the side, silently absorbed in her crossword puzzle. The English language for her isn’t simply a means of communication. Each time she picks up a crossword puzzle it is a sport. A linguistic and lexicographic Olympiad. It is with pride that she fills out the tiny blocks in with her palsied hands, the cumulative knowledge of decades immersed in her culture and language scrawled letter by satisfying letter.

A group of young men stopped briefly, purchasing drinks and some snacks. I would like to think it was to fill them out. For some reason all of them had a lot of trouble…

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