Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Do you have a toaster that you like? That actually toasts the toast without burning it? Would you please tell me what brand?

When we left the US to go to South Africa, most of our things were going to be left in storage. So I got rid of our simple appliances like the toaster because you never really ever get all the crumbs out of them and I didn’t want to attract any bugs to our stuff. The toaster wasn’t very special…It only toasted 2 slices at a time, but the slots were wide for bagels and had a place on the end for holding the bagel while you sliced it. When you toasted a bagel on the bagel setting, it only toasted the the cut side (assuming you put the bagel in with the cut sides toward the center). I only paid $14 for it. It was white. I really miss it.

When we finally moved into our house, I purchased a new toaster. A GE toaster, about $25. Nothing really special… it had wide slots, only held 2 pieces of toast at a time, a toast setting dial -light to dark, and several settings… like warm, bagel, toast and defrost. It didn’t do any of those things well. In addition, for some reason the toaster companies have decided to toast both sides of the bagel on the bagel setting. And toasting… it didn’t do that either. Bread was either under toasted or burned. I just couldn’t find the happy medium. So I took it back.

Next I purchased a Oster Toaster. I paid a bit more for it, $49, thinking I would get toast. All the same features, except this one will do 4 slices of bread or bagels at a time. Although I don’t know why I would need to toast that many slices. There is only 2 of us most of the time. But it isn’t any better than the GE. It either under toasts or burns a part of the bread. Why it has so many choices for light or dark toast is beyond me. Because it only does two of the 8 choices- very light resembling stale bread or burned. As for the bagel setting, yep, both sides. The only part of a bagel I want toasted is the cut side! I also use this for when I want a bun toasted for a hot sandwich or burger… I would take it back, but I didn’t keep or lost the receipt… but that is a lesson learned. I will keep the receipt… and take crappy products back!

Do these companies test their products? Where do they get their focus groups for product features and benefits.  Of all the new features -I- really only want 2, a piece of toasted dark enough for a bit of crunch -not burned (anywhere) and a bagel toasted on the cut side. Is that too much to ask?

Do you have a toaster that toasts toast? Only does the cut side of the bagel?Would you share the brand and model? And hopefully it does not cost an arm and a leg or take up a huge amount of counter space. Something else I am in short supply of.

And because we need a picture… not of a toaster!


A landscape from South Africa. They are just now coming into spring…. which is very short…. before going to a nice long summer.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Heat, UFOs & Strips

Lately I haven’t been in the sewing space very much! In July it was just too blasted hot up there. July was hot and then a heat wave and then just plain hot again.

We have two air conditioning units for this house. The one for upstairs, bedroom level and the sewing space, had been having difficulty before the month long heat set in. We had the A/C repair folks out 6 times before it really got hot, and when it would run nearly all day and still not be able to bring the temps down very much, I just turned the a/c off up there and didn’t spend any time in the upper levels. We have a basement room, that never warms up, so that became the bedroom. We moved a spare bed down there, where it will stay. Is it perfect? no, but it is much better than trying to sleep in a room that just won’t cool!

Temperatures are finally better, but I still haven’t spent much time actually sewing.

Ah, but I do have a project in the works! As I mentioned somewhere before, I am trying to deplete the stack of Un-Finished Projects, that have accumulated for various reasons. So far, I am turning one UFO, into two and have started another….  My idea for completing part 2 of the UFO will require a variety of brightly colored fabrics…. and to not have to buy each fabric… I decided to organize a strip swap! The little time I’ve been in the sewing space, has been dedicated to finding suitable fabrics for strips. The swap is nearly complete, but let me just say…. YUM! I hope to begin playing with those beautiful strips later this week. No pictures yet…. of the project, but they will be coming soon! I have enjoyed this swap so much, I might just have to do another!!!

Wednesday, was a sew-in at the local guild that I joined. It is in lieu of a regular meeting…  I have a baby quilt due sometime in September, so I thought I would work on that. Actually it is the beginning of every baby quilt I make in the future. I have decided to make a variety of 9 patch blocks, and the leftovers will be the beginning of the next baby quilt… Since babies need stimulation, and generally only see black and white early on, I am going to supply the black and white for the babies.


I am still revisiting the pictures from our visits to Kruger National Park in South Africa. One of the most amazing adventures I have ever had. Above is the Lioness portrait. These ladies, along with some other adult females, young adults and adolescent cubs were just finishing up a breakfast of zebra when we found them. They are looking at lunch, a small herd of Wildebeest (Gnu) in the distance. Lions never pass up the chance for a meal… they did give a half hearted chase of the Wildebeests…. but they were full and it was too much work, so they faded off into the long grasses, for nap I’m sure!




Three of the young adults… do you see the onlooker hoping for a scrap? The grass is over 2 feet tall where it hasn’t been crushed. Oh the onlooker is a vulture. There were also quite a few of those hanging about…. waiting for the leftovers. They are not as pretty as the lions… trust me!

More Later- Beth

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I’m Guilty, are You?

I often visit a blog… read all or part of the post and then leave without leaving a comment.

Its rude. Its unkind. Lacks courtesy and respect. Someone took the time to write, share or express an opinion…. an experience…. we should respond often. Maybe not all the time or every time, but often.

Part of the reason, (for me anyway and maybe others) is when I use a reader, it frames the page…. minus the comment form, so you have to go to the page to leave a comment. Or it really wasn’t what you expected to find based on an Internet search, or sometimes, I read on a tablet (I hate typing on the virtual keyboards), especially in a Blog Reader, (where the comment you have written disappears with the slightest of ease). Or as in the case of Google and Wordpress, I was having major errors when trying to leave a comment… and often left multiples of the same comment or no comment at all! I discovered that for the Blogger errors it was a setting I had in my own blogger dashboard and I think I fixed Wordpress by enabling a Gravatar.

I would often only read the blogs regularly that I had in my Blog sidebar… and leave comments there because the whole Blog page would load, comment boxes and all. Whereas, when I would use a reader (Google Reader-now defunct, Bloglovin or Feedly) I have to go to the actual Blog to leave a comment, and often I would not read those blogs as regularly and let them stack up so there were many to read!!! So yes I am guilty.

I thought a reader would make things easier…. but not if you want to leave a comment… The Readers all behave differently on the various devices…. (computer, tablet, phone). Some devices are better than the others. I like using the readers, because adding or deleting content is so much easier than using the Blog sidebar, but I want to comment… which completes the circle of my guilt!!!

I am going to have to come up with a better way… so I can come clean and comment more regularly on blogs that I read, especially if I like the content, or have a suggestion, or experience, or….maybe even completely disagree. I’m sure the author would like to know- who I am, or what I was doing on the blog, or what brought me to it…. Good or bad.

I know I would love feed back, good, bad or indifferent!!! Did you like something, hate something, have a different perspective, want to correct an assumption I’ve made or give me some background/history, or identify a bird? a flower? or ….  If, it is too personal to relate in the comment field, I have added an email button, which will only appear in my inbox… not on the blog…

Are you GUILTY too? Why don’t you comment on blogs you are visiting?


    … and because a picture is always needed. This is the portrait of a Southern Hornbill taken at the Satara Rest Camp, Kruger National Park on our first visit to the park in 2010. I have been revisiting my pictures. Doesn’t he have a fierce expression?

More Later- Beth

Friday, August 9, 2013

Look closely

I have a very good friend, Karen and she has a blog here, who is very artistic, talented and dyes fabrics. Once in awhile I get to be the recipient of one of her fabulous hand dyed pieces.

So recently I took a picture of a sunflower and recently posted it on my blog. (here it is again)


Here is a recently gifted piece of hand dyed fabric from Karen. The note with it said that she dyed it when she was working on her Tulips and Rosie piece in June. Don’t you think it looks like the background of the sunflower?


One of my favorite parts of many of the pictures is the blurred backgrounds… I often wonder how it would interpret in fabric…

I think I have my answer!

and I think this piece is begging to have the sunflower above translated to fabric on this piece of hand dyed fabric as the very true to life background.


Sunday, August 4, 2013



This is a most unusual sunflower. It is fluffy.


There was a butterfly house and this was one of the butterflies. A beautiful green one.


and one more.


Brookside Gardens-Wheaton, MD


Thursday, August 1, 2013






Artichoke Thistles- Meadowlark Gardens- Vienna VA