Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Silver Hair Adventure to Naranjito

Naranjito, literally means little orange, and that was where I was at on Saturday. Not eating oranges, but rather visiting my brother Hector. Unfortunately his picture with Mom did not come out too well so I will not risk getting a lawsuit for misrepresenting him in public. But his back yard, now that is another thing. Its the family heirloom. That little piece of land, represents what I so love about Naranjito. The hills full of palm trees, mangos, and plantains; and I caught them all in one picture! No it is more than that. Its the years of coming to this little piece of land to gather with family.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Puerto Rico Daily Sun

Got to buy my first edition while here in PR. The Puerto Rico Daily Sun, is a refreshing guilt free newspaper! Just as we feel good when we recycle, reuse, and reduce, because we are doing something positive for the environment and our community, I feel good when I buy the Puerto Rico Daily Sun. This newspaper is a cooperative effort of so many news people who were mistreated and misrepresented by those who administered the former English speaking newspaper for which they worked . The look is clean and sleek and full of pertinent and relevant news related to Puerto Rico's economy, government, and social life. Everyday this newspaper will grow thicker and thicker as people realize that this is a community effort to help Puerto Rico link itself with the rest of the world using English as a lingua franca. Just 50 cents will do this. So go ahead and have a good read.
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Laughing up a Storm

Here I am with my sisters and niece on Nochebuena and then my sisters clowning around in their new aprons, and finding new uses for the conventional potholders. On Christmas day, we all went to Las Lomas where we got together with my other cousins, Damaris, Eva (Evie), and Nardaliz. What a fun time all in all.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Just want to Wish you all a Merry Christmas

Here in PR a lot of families celebrate Christmas, the night before in what we call Nochebuena. Last night my two sisters, some nieces and I got together. We sang, but not so much Christmas carols but mostly Parranda music which is the typical Christmas music played for dancing at Christmas parties.

Of course we danced, opened gifts, and had arroz con gandules, ham, pasteles, and potato salad. This time we didn't have our typical free for all but instead, gave out our gifts in a civilized manner, getting one gift per hour and then at nine the remaining. We had a great time and ate too much, but it is only once a year, so we will forgive ourselves. I was too wound up when I got home a painted till 12, until finally all my extra energy was used up regardless of the fact that I danced too much and laughed too loud. Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope you made lots of memories. I did.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just Bookmarks

I was surprised to find that my blog and bookmark paintings had been listed unbeknownst to me on a Bookmark collector website . It wasn't until I noticed that several people had been referred to my blog from there that I was intrigued. So I went back and followed the referral link and it took me to their website which lists practically every place on the web where new bookmarks are mentioned for those who collect bookmarks seriously. You can find so many different types so the website is worth perusing. In fact I was inconspicuously listed on 12 November as "Four painted bookmarks by Elba at Mi Jardin - Link" . But hey I was listed. Very cool!

You think you are all alone out here writing your words and sort of painting your paintings, and zap, lo and behold you're not isolated. It only takes a google or yahoo alert to connect us to one another. I just want to thank the folks at bookmark-collector.com for listing me. When I browsed their website and followed some links, I also realized that other people sell bookmarks on Etsy (duh!) and did a much better job at listing and tagging their work. So of course I went back and edited my tags and yep, I'm happy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sometimes we need God's music

Recently I discovered that You Tube has a lot of beautiful uplifting music. Sometimes that is just the right medicine for when you are weary. I was reading in the book of Isaiah when I got to Isaiah 55 it said, " come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat!" These words reminded me of a hymn we sing at church, but I couldn't find it, so I went to You Tube and did a search. The one I found wasn't the same one, but one sung by The Gaithers, and it was good too. So here is the url and I'll make it a hyperlink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP8bO7jBIao so when you click on it, it will take you directly.
Another contemporary group which really moved me is Downhere, who sing, Here I am, Lord http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH1iYDWN3Ic
Knowing You , Jesus is a wonderful Christian worship song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcWNwSan5u4
Another one I love is
Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

Another real blessing is the song a Christmas Offering by Paul Baloche. That one almost makes me cry each time I listen to it. Sometimes worship it exactly what we need.

Orange Picking

Orange Blossom Trail. Orange County. Town of Tangerine. Orange Groves. The Orange Peal. You get the idea, Central Florida is home to a ton of oranges and orange groves. What has happened is that with urban sprawl, many of these orange groves have been broken up into lots and private homes built which are surrounded by these trees with no laborers to collect the fruit. Well, a service oriented teacher at Cypress Creek, Nicolle Boujaber contacted the Society of St. Andrews to join us in getting these oranges in the hands of the needy. This is how it worked. She took her 9th Grade Global Studies class on a field trip to Mt. Dora to glean oranges from trees and she invited Ms. Berney, Ms. Dye, and my self to go with her. So we picked oranges for about 3 hours and collected the huge amount that was piled up in the last picture.
This fruit will go directly to a food bank or to churches to distribute to the needy. According to Becky from the Society of St. Andrews, for every pound of food collected, three people will be fed. If these oranges had not been collected, they would have gone to waste! To waste! She explained that a huge amount of food goes to waste everyday in the United States that could be used to feed people everywhere. I am so glad I got invited to go, but the more I think about it, the more I feel more could be done.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Bookmarkers and a Mountain

I made these bookmarks today and this mountain well has been sitting around my gallery aka office for a couple of days now and I am putting it out there. Or is it a volcano?
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Been Painting

Four different paintings. I love painting! Can you tell? Everytime I paint something I learn something new. I hope you are having a wonderful day, just like me. And Merry Christmas!!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kittie kats

I had to post this. Rosita manipulated one of Annie's pictures and I just couldn't help snatching and putting it up on my blog. There in the picture are Luke and Leah basking in the glow of their Christmas tree sweet as could be and then there comes Rosita who couldn't help herself and added this caption which just made me laugh and laugh. Too cute!!
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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Making some Christmas Placemats

I decided to finally finish a project I started last year. When I first started on these placemats, I bought the quilted cloth at the store and had added the trim and they just looked unfinished so I added a backing which matches a tablecloth I sewed with the same cloth. It looks a bit more finished now and worthy of a table. So yep, I am happy to finally get this done. Once I finish setting them on the table I will take a pic of the finished look.
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Here Are my Latest Paintings: Four Bookmarkers

These are going up on Etsy.com. I know everybody likes to read and mark their page and I thought, how bout a small original artwork. I think some people would like them, at least I hope they do. To get to my Etsy shop you can go to my link on the margin where it says Links and underneath Mijardinflorido at Etsy.com.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Making Mofongo for Thanksgiving

My daughter Annie asked me to make mofongo stuffing for our Thanksgiving turkey. She had had some about 12 years ago when she was visiting my sister in Connecticut during her first year? at Calvin College or was it in Houghton? I can't remember. One thing for sure, my sister Doris is a great cook and to be asked to make something as well as she does, well that's quite a bit of pressure, but anyway I tried. I have made mofongo before but never as stuffing or dressing. When I was married my ex enjoyed mofongo with chicarron or bacon, whichever was available, so on Thanksgiving not being in Bayamon, I went with bacon. Since we were going to church on Thanksgiving, and knowing the turkey was around 14 pounds, I thought it best to go ahead and put the turkey in the oven by 7:00 am and make the mofongo as dressing once we got back from church. Stuffing slows down the cooking of the turkey anyway. If I started frying all the plantains and using the pilon (Mortar and pistil) the turkey would not get into the oven until 8, so I went ahead and put it in. When we got home from church the turkey was fully cooked and we had time to finish our cooking. To my surprise the mofongo turned out pretty well. I didn't want it to be hard because it wasn't going to be served with caldo or chicken broth which helps to soften the fried plantain.

What I did was this:

First I fried chopped bacon till it was crispy. Then I drained it on a paper towel. Then, I peeled four very green plantains under running water in the sink. The running water helps to keep your hands free of the sticky liquid that comes out of the peeling. After that I cut the plantains into one inch and a half thickness and placed them in salt water. Before frying them though, to reduce oil splatter in the medium heat skillet, I individually dried each one on a paper towel before placing them in the hot vegetable oil. As I was frying them I realized they needed to be thinner to make sure they would be fully cooked. So I split the thicker ones in half. After frying each batch thoroughly and turning them several times I turned off the stove and drained them on a paper towel.

Next I had two pilones. In the first one I had garlic (about 4 to 5 medium size pieces) and added about a half teaspoon of salt and mashed these ingredients until I formed a creamy paste. Then I added about a 1/4 cup of olive oil, more or less into the first pilon. In the second pilon which was larger was reserved for mashing the fried plantains, I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to coat it. As I placed about four or five small pieces of plantains, I added some pieces of bacon, and some strands of garlic and then mashed them with the pistil. I mashed them until they were reshaped into hollow bells. If they seemed dry, I would add some olive oil from the first pilon with a bit of garlic and some broth or drippings from the turkey which I had reserved in a small bowl in my working area. To keep them warm we placed them in a corningware bowl and covered it. I think we kept it warm in the oven until ready to serve, which was only minutes later. I was really pleased with the results. In fact, I think I will make some for Christmas in Puerto Rico. I never knew just how well it would taste with turkey. So that is how you make Mofongo Dressing. Try it, you might like it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Everything is coming up Letters: Bananagrams and Pancakes

Aunt Rosie and Aay were playing Bananagrams which is a total hoot. Each player gets 21 letters and starts building a personal jigsaw. No points but fun. As soon as you use up your letters you say, "peel" and each player has to grab a new letter. The first player to finish placing all his or her letters after all the letters have been picked up wins. The fun continues once that happens as each player shares their "words," and are critiqued, poked, and discussed by others. It made for a lot of fun.

Afterwards, Aay and I made some fun designers pancakes for all to enjoy. Can you imagine, the fun we had?

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Service at Rochester CRC

The most notable part of this post is getting my picture with my three kids. The last time we were together was for Juan Daniel's graduation from the Citadel in Charleston South Carolina. This has been the neatest time just seeing all of them talking, laughing, and joking together. Priceless. Thank you, Jesus!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Penfield, BT

BT Before Thanksgiving. It's snowing outside, full blast. I'm thinking I have to film it for Maria. I am not posting much these days because well my hands have been busy giving hugs, sewing a not so perfect princess dress, making felt ornaments, giving hugs, holding children's books as I read to attentive little ears, planning menus, vacuuming to prepare the house for guests, getting hugs, supervising little helpers vacuum, still sewing and still snowing, and cooking beans. So yeah, no time for the rather mudane of arts of writing and painting. Even though today we plan to go to Mud about You, and make some pottery. That is a little of the arts. AND we have to take that turkey out and start basting and seasoning and fill the house with flavor and spice. Maybe try to make Lil's famous apple pie since Rosie made it safely to Penfield last night at precisely 1:52 and about 10 minutes later she was snuggled in to bed. She is still sleeping as you can well imagine, after of course getting a ton of hugs and kisses. You can see pictures of our adventures including Arwen's Thanksgiving play on Annie's blog and on my photo stream, both have links on the margin on the left. Happy Thanksgiving you all! We have so much to be thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Aay to Zee
Little girls laughter
Hearing Mommy, mommy, mommy
Grandma the whole family is downstairs
can you come down?
Look at this Grandma
Can I wind up the yarn, Grandma?

Luke Skywalker
Princess Leah
Beautiful cats
Friendly and fun
Carrots, Farm Goods
Red barns
Snow covered cars and
blanketed houses and yards

Crispy fireplaces
Doll houses
Play houses
Monopoly Junior
Rainbow Princess books
Woody and Buzz Lightyear

Lunch at Red Robin,
Running errands,
buying supplies,
sewing dresses,
making ornaments with felt
and sewing Christmas apparel
just because.
That is what life is about here
at Annie's house

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Music

If you have been to the stores they are already playing it. And the drug stores are full of Christmas trees, lights and CD's. In fact on the radio station I listen to : zradio.org they were talking about how last year they played Christmas music consistently during the Christmas season and that 40, 000 new listeners listened. There is something about Christmas music that draws people. It also serves like a meat tenderizer to soften our hearts to receive the beauty of the King.

So last night I was surprised when I came across a plastic bag full of old tapes of Christmas music. Inside the bag were about 8 tapes, which included one by Sandy Patty and another of the Great Voices of Christmas which had Handel's Halleluyah Chorus and a solo by Luciano Pavarotti singing Ave Maria. Suddenly my very humble study became a quiet sacred place.

Christmas music does this for me. It take me to worship God and reminds me that someone had to pay a price for that beautiful event. It makes me think of the hardships Mary and Joseph suffered in getting to Bethlehem, to obey the law regardless of the fact that Mary was so advanced in her pregnancy. Disobeying the law, must have meant severe punishment. No exceptions, no leniency.

Or was there a more urgent realization? Did they know the Messiah needed to have been born in Bethlehem? Probably. Maybe she and Joseph spoke of it as they made their way there. Joseph probably told her,

"Hang on Mary, we will be there soon...
I know it has been days... Oh, there it is. ..
Bethlehem, the city of David... Look at all the people in town for the census..."

Then to arrive at an unfamiliar town, which you only knew by reference. But Mary had already been trusting God. He had shown her marvelous things through her own pregnancy and that of her cousin Elizabeth. She knew God was with her. Still we must consider the uncertainty of the details. As they asked for lodging, only to have Joseph tell her,

"No, dear, there is no room in the Inn, let's try the one down the road.
Don't cry, God has never failed us. ..
Remember his faithfulness, the angel that spoke to you and my dream...
It will be okay ...
Darling they have a stable in the back and we can rest there tonight. I will throw
down my blankets and we will be comfortable."

It still leaves me in awe. They must have been so grateful to have found at least a place to lay their heads.

Maybe one day we will know exactly how it happened. What I do know is that whenever I hear the music, I imagine the animals swinging their tales with the stark activity of life, angels peering, and children whispering as they see reenactments, all the ages compressed together. All these images draw me to that peaceful bustling manger full of reality and spirituality, humbleness and royalty, in the presence of the King. God making an entrance into this world and making an ordinary stable sacred. Even so come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Space Shuttle Taking Off

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After Thirteen Years, I finally did it

I finally saw a Space Shuttle take off. Maria, Adolfo, and I followed Route 50 to where it reached the intercoastal waterway, and where you can see the launch pad on the Kennedy Space Center behind a line of Palmettos. People were everywhere. Those who were more experienced sat on comfortable lawn chairs as they lined the streets while others stood and lined up the median for about a mile. My friends nervously crossed the street to the other side, but as I watched the cars rush down the street, I preferred to stay out of harms way and watch from my safe corner. Fortunately for me, several friendly experienced Shuttle watchers were there next to me. One particular lady pointed out exactly what I needed to be looking for. I needed to be focused on the launch pad straight ahead. Watch the pad light up, she said, and when it did she exclaimed, "They lit it up!" and the gold started to pour up and out of the pad, lighting up the pitch black sky. The usual noise which we are so used to on the televised version was absent, but the golden bullet, was brilliant as it zigged up the sky, leaving a plume of gray chanelling upwards where it had been. The sound and vibrations came later as it shook the earth beneath us, many seconds after it lifted up. It all happened so quickly, yet it seemed like time stood still. After it felt that it had a been a successful takeoff, the crowd started to cheer, whoop, clap, and hollar. It was great to be there, and I'm glad to have been part of history(last nighttime Shuttle launch). Sorry about the pictures, since there was too much light pollution and when you are there you just want to experience the moment. Frankly, I took a film but I was so unfocused it isn't worth sharing. I think I will leave the pictures for the experts, but the ones I took give you the feel about the crowds.

Next year in March, Joseph Acaba, and crew will be taking off from the Cape and I hope to be there, especially now that I know it is so doable. Traffic was a little heavy as we left the Orlando area around the Chuluota area, but once we got past there it moved smoothly. We even had time for an ice cream and then find a place to park. Especially if you are daring like Adolfo, who doubled parked. Everyone double parked. Once the event was over, he rushed back to the car and picked us up at the curb. We stopped for cheap gas on the way back, since it was cheaper than in Orlando, for only $1.98, then we headed back home. The only place we found heavy traffic again was, you guessed it: Chuluota! But we did a lot better than the four hours the policeman had predicted would be our time back. Perhaps for all the people who went on the 528 or beachline. Not the way to go. So I will take the day off in February since it is a day launch and make it a day.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Misha in the House

She has only been here less than 24 hours but she knows she is home again, minus her best friend Pup. I never thought Pup would like a cat, but he loved Misha. He was so gentle with her, and stayed stoicly still while she strolled past him or laid on his fluffy tail. So for a while, I am back to being a cat lover. A gal named Bessie, a very talented artist, thought I was the cat lover type, who knows, she may be right. So welcome Misha. Sleep tight. By the way, she has green eyes but for some reason they came out blue.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Recent Paintings

The top one is "Complicated," and the bottom one is Turn Around. I think they both have to do with what I was thinking and how I needed to change. I can only do it with God's help, one day at a time.
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