My Room Of One’s Own Is Almost Ready

In the middle of all the baking, cleaning, and gift wrapping that goes with getting a house ready for Christmas guests, this house has had a great deal of renovation work happening at the same time. As some of you know, John has been working to finish up my studio space and while it’s not quite ready for its grand unveiling I wanted to give you a sneak peak at how it’s beginning to look. I’ve been picking out fabrics and painting the walls and you’ll see some of that in the preview pictures below.

This is my 11 ft or 340 cm closet/wardrobe. It is a pretty big closet by UK standards and I feel so lucky to have it all to myself. Since my studio has its own bath,I will  be able to use this mirrored area as a large dressing room in addition to a lovely space to do my creative work. (The garden/backyard is not as it will be … we’ll be moving a few things like the compost bin.)

The fabric you see laid across what will be a comfy daybed is some that I chose with the help of my friend Patrice when I was in Atlanta for Thanksgiving. I brought it all back in my suitcase. I love the colors and they are exactly what I had in mind. The framed artwork was made by my daughter Miranda when she was a little girl and it provided the color guide. For a closer look, you can see her sweet design here.

While the patten is bolder than I would normally choose and the green and oranges brighter, I have basically chosen what Patrice would refer to as “E colors” even though I was trying for a new look.

The orange striped fabric is intended for curtains on either side of the sliding glass doors. This shade of orange was my favorite color when I was thirteen and of course there’s a story for later in how I found my way back to it. Perhaps you can guess … if you’ve been reading my blog for very long.

I once had a deep purple bathroom, but in my last house I found I preferred a periwinkle blue that looked a good bit like purple, but didn’t feel overpowering or too Easter eggish. I love the design on the main fabric …. it reminds me of the artist Gustav Klimt.

(The Kiss by Klimt )

The lighting is throwing the color off slightly, but the green is still pretty green. I am recovering a chair with it and the orange bit is intended for pillows. I’m so excited by my fabric choices and think it will be such a great space to write. I wanted to find a shade of green like below in the photograph I took yesterday. You see this green everywhere here and I wanted to bring it inside. My choice is actually pretty close when seen in good light.

You can see the door below which is one of three that I painted. This is the entrance to my space from a hallway that was added for access. It will have a drop shade for privacy, but I doubt it will get much use.

John has done a great job on this hallway /corridor. The art is temporary. This space will be a photo gallery with same sized images lining the wall and lighting to highlight it.

This floor will continue into my space and bathroom. John put it down a few days ago along with the baseboards/skirting boards. I love the contrast of dark and light.

You can’t really tell the wall color as it was getting late in the afternoon when I took the photographs and I had limited light. It’s called Devon Cream and it is a soft creamy color that tends to pick up the color of all the fabrics. It mutes the stark white a bit and has a tiny hint of yellow to it. All of the fabric colors work well with it. (Thanks again to Patrice for being my sounding board and looking at endless swatches.)

I didn’t photograph the bathroom, but it’s coming along too. John has my bathtub in place as well as the sink and toilet. He’s been working so hard and doing a lovely job. The other day I told him that giving me this space was so special that I really didn’t need anything else for Christmas to which he replied with a quick smile, ” All right then, that’s sorted. ”

That said, every time I go up into the attic or loft as he calls it, he does say, ” careful … don’t look around too much.”  I wonder if he’s keeping something safe for Santa. I’ll be back later with some Christmas pictures. I’ve been making wreaths and Hello Dollies and a million other things.

Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone


Sometimes on Wednesday nights John and I walk down to the pub and because Wednesday is trivia night, we usually have a bite of dinner and stay to play trivia. We tend to end up somewhere in the middle of all the other teams rarely scoring enough to be considered a contender for first place although we do have a lot of fun. Once we came in second, but we’re usually quite happy with third or fourth place. Poor John is a good bit handicapped with me as a game partner since at least two-thirds of the questions are related to British life and history. Sometimes, I know the answer to those, but frequently he’s on his own.

Tonight was a particularly significant game night as we joined forces with a group of four who always do much better than we do and it was the first time we won. That’s right a big old first place. We didn’t let it go to our heads as we could see by our participation what we might have missed if we had been on our own. Jean and Robert were two of the team members tonight and I think it was at a trivia night that I first met the little dog in the picture above.

Jasper as you can see by the photograph is a cutie. He’s getting on in years, but always is very friendly and happy to share any part of your dinner that you’re willing to give up when he comes to the pub with them on quiz night. Our pub like some others I’ve seen always welcomes a dog as long as the dog remains controlled and on a lead. (leash)

In our pub, dogs always get a treat from the bartender when they come in. I was quite charmed by this when I saw it the first time, but I never realized the impact it had on some dogs until I heard Jean tell a story about her dog Jasper.

It seems one day Jean was getting ready to take her dogs for a walk. Jasper and Molly enjoy an outing now and then, but they’re not always in a hurry to head out the door.  One evening while getting Molly together for a walk, Jean looked around for Jasper and could find him anywhere. In fact the place where he usually sat waiting near the gate was empty as if he had waited for Molly to get it together for the last time.

Realizing that Jasper appeared to have grown tired of waiting and worried that he might be headed for open road, Jean began to look everywhere for her little dog. She walked back and forth in front of the house then around to the back garden and up the road in the direction they usually walked calling his name concerned about where he might be.

Going down the hill, she walked past her house towards the village green thinking it a fine open space that might appeal to any dog, but a quick sweep of the center of the village told her Jasper was not hiding in the grassy area. Seeing the open door of the pub, she walked quickly in that direction intending to ask inside if anyone had happened to see her little runaway. As her eyes adjusted to the pub’s darkened interior with the rows of mugs lining the ceiling absorbing most of the natural light, she saw Jasper sitting near the bar like a regular coming in for his evening pint. Jasper it seems had decided a chewy sounded good and he had taken himself off to the pub to get one on his own.

I believe if I remember the story correctly, he had been given one to chew on while the pub staff considered what they should do next. Assuming correctly that Jean and Robert might not be far behind, they made Jasper comfortable and waited.

Hello Dollies – The Taste Of Christmas

If we are friends on Facebook, you probably know I have been in a modest panic over the last few days because I could not find pecans, a key ingredient in four of the must have treats for my Christmas dinner. Okay…maybe the Hello Dollies aren’t exactly required to make dinner complete, but I had to have pecans for my sweet potato casserole in addition to a special cranberry salad, a cheese ball, and a pumpkin pecan pie all of which must have pecans to make them properly. So you can see why I was beginning to send out SOS messages to the community. Tina, my running buddy answered the call with a shop that still had them and John picked up a couple of bags yesterday just in time for me to make some of the tasty sweets to send off to Jersey to his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, Jersey Girl.

After Judy Harper asked for the recipe and Cindy a friend from high school expressed an interest, I thought I would share both the recipe and a view of my putting it to all together this morning. I have to say that while I finally got my hands on some pecans, there were no graham cracker crumbs to be found and I had to substitute something used for crumbles here. I was skeptical at first, but I think it really adds to the overall taste of the Hello Dollies so it gets my vote for a positive change to an old favorite.

This recipe is part of a collection of family favorites that my step-mom Cullene put together for me on recipe cards a few years ago.

As you can see by the picture above, I have a bag of honey roasted cashew nuts and peanuts that I tried in this recipe too. I made one half with pecans and the other with the mix above. The slightly salty sweet taste of the honey roast made for a taste change I liked.

A problem with cooking here and using local ingredients for my recipes from home is the need to translate measurements. Take the Jersey butter above. That butter package is 250 grams. My recipe calls for 1/2 cup. See what I mean. These cookies should take about 10 minutes to put together, but making a special dish here for the first time can take a bit longer than normal and it can require an extra kitchen aid to help with the conversions. ( note my laptop bottom right )

Butter and crumble mix and molded into bottom of dish to form a base crust.

Then you add chocolate chips and nuts. I prefer a little less chocolate in mine.

The sweet glue that makes it all one chewy mixture goes on after the coconut flakes.

Pop it in the oven until it looks like the picture below. Some people prefer it a bit lighter in color with less oven time, but I like mine chewy. Just be careful not to burn the bottom. I would watch them when they start to get close to being done.

The finished product.

Ready for taste testing … Mmm.

Malicious Intent – Destroying Something Special

The big fish you see in the picture above used to be something Tina ( in red ) and I would pass when we were out for a run. It was a guidepost along the Camel Trail in Cornwall and something many people appreciated even though at first glance one might wonder what it was doing along the edge of the path used by runners, walkers, and cyclists. You can’t see it in this picture, but the River Camel is tucked in the trees not far ahead and a spot where you might see people fishing at times.

The giant aluminum fish sculpture was the creative work of a well known sculpture artist Richard Austin. Mr Austin worked with the children of St Tudy Primary School who envisioned the design that he built for their school project. As you can see by the marker above and the smaller fish on the signpost below, this unusual feature was a popular art piece which never failed to come up in conversation especially when giving directions for places to meet along the trail.

Last Thursday morning, Tina and I set out on a morning run. I was excited to be back in Cornwall having returned the day before from my trip home to America and was shocked when we got to the place where the big fish always helped to mark the milage on our run. What you see below, was what we saw.

It seems just a few days before someone decided to destroy the art work we once enjoyed and set it on fire melting the big fish into an unrecognizable pile of metal. This type of  behavior is really uncommon for our peaceful area and I was shocked to learn of its destruction.

The vandals have not been caught yet, but one can’t help but wonder as to how small and hard hearted someone must be to find joy in the destruction of something that many were proud to create.

Sticks & Stones: More Venom From My Online Stalker

Many of you who have been reading my blog since it began in 2008, know that for some time I’ve been harassed by a woman named Maggie Namjou, aka Margaret Powell, Margreta Kerr, Maggie Kerr, and Maggie K Namjou. After months of endless phone calls, including four on our wedding day where she left screaming obscenity laced messages on our answering machine which John saved for the police, multiple nasty comments on my blog posts and more deluded emails than I could have imagined anyone might send, I finally changed my blog to a WordPress site so I could moderate comments.

After receiving nightly phone calls until 3:00 a.m. and calls throughout my work day I was forced to change my cell phone number as well. I made the changes, married the man I loved and went on with my life.

Given that I had closed several of the ways she could reach out to me it appeared as though John and I had dropped off her radar. Not surprisingly, like most stalkers she has a pattern she follows where she bombards the people she harasses with constant email and phone calls for three or four months followed by three to four months of silence so that just when you think she has moved on to her next person, she comes back to start all over.

After a few months of quiet, she seems to be back trying to create chaos in our lives. Recently, she sent John an email and later she sent one to my email address which was addressed both of us. We chose to ignore them.

Now it seems she has decided to focus on us again and is trying to inflict damage to our reputation by way of several blog posts where she goes on and on about things which are just not true. She quite tragically portrays herself as an innocent victim who has been harassed and slandered by me. I find the whole slant of her story quite funny given the abuse that has been heaped on us.

I think that most rational intelligent people would be able to see her lies for what they are, but I am linking back to my earlier posts on another site at so you can have fair balance should you see any posts by Maggie Namjou or Margreta Kerr writing fiction about John or myself. I’ve seen her newest posts and it’s just more of the same.

With this recent harassment on the internet, I feel I must at least direct my readers to an explanation. I’ve written about how she tried to bully and control us with her behavior in the past and I’d rather not write it all out again here. Please click on the highlighted links if you need more of the back story.

I’ll be happy to answer questions and if you’ve had an online stalker or have been in a similar situation, please feel free to share it here.

People like this only win when we let them. I will not allow Maggie Kerr Namjou to trash my reputation. She can write whatever crap she wants and I will continue to post the real story.

For the record, even after months of harassment by her, I did not use her name on the internet until she left it herself. (see the Maggie comment)

* Since posting this message Maggie Namjou has changed the two initial blog postings of hers that had prompted me to write the Sticks & Stones post. Those changes make appear as if I was some big bad meanie who decided write the above alert to anyone googling my name simply in response to an email she sent me in November. If I were indeed the person she describes me to be and truly intent on destroying her life, I could have posted any number of the awful emails or photographs she sent to us as well as my correspondence with others who have been affected by her outrageous behavior in the past.

She mentions in detail on the post below in the second paragraph from the bottom, a woman who she had words with having forgiven her (I know the whole story and it is much more shocking than just words) I know this woman having commiserated through emails about our mutual problems with Maggie Namjou and emailed her after reading the post below. She informed me that she’d had no contact with her and had removed her comment from her own blog because she did not want to see it on there. So once again, no contact, no forgiveness as she indicated, just one more lie to try to make me look like an ogre.

She speaks of my desire to destroy her all because of her behavior during a difficult period in her life and nothing could be farther from the truth. She is a bully who tries to controls people with her nasty behavior and then pleads for forgiveness based on the premise that she was unwell at the time and in the middle of a nervous breakdown. Let me just say … this is not the first time she has used a nervous breakdown as an excuse for bad behavior. She cites several breakdowns in previous emails to us.

She has been telling everyone about her most recent suicide attempt over at her posting and how I am reveling in it. Again, she’s written endlessly in the past about previous attempts enough to recognize her as someone who uses a variety of ways to manipulate people including suicidal talk.

I certainly have no desire to see anyone harm themselves and would feel sad to see anyone take their life. I will not however be bullied into taking down my posts which protect my reputation. She has written about me before and as she points out on her posts about my words lasting forever, her lies about me can also be found on the internet.

Having been through this before, I had enough foresight to email her posts to myself because I know her pattern. I had an idea she would go back and change them in an attempt to cast me in a more negative light than she already has. So I’m posting them here to have truth in reporting. I am so sorry to sully even for a moment my blog site which is a place of delight for me to share bits of my life and photographs.

I know that those of you who stop by and have in some cases become friends would never believe her lies, but a stranger googling my name might not look for more information if it were not already out there and might assume there was some truth to her accusations so I feel I really must address it.

I’ll return to my normal posting with something more pleasant later and I hope like everything you never have to deal with someone like this in your life.  It’s a gorgeous day here and I am going to enjoy it secure in the knowledge that I have done the very best I can to deal with this intrusion into my life.

The two images below are the postings that prompted me to write this post.

Trash Or Treasure

It’s 3:30 a.m. here and I should be sleeping, but the problem with that is that it’s only 10:30 p.m. in Atlanta and my body appears to be on Atlanta time.  John met me at the airport in London this morning and aside from a nap of about an hour during our 5 hour drive back to Cornwall, I haven’t really slept since I managed to get about 4 hours Monday night. I tend not to be a big sleeper anyway with 5 hours being a regular night for me, but I can’t believe I’m still wide awake right now.

I even took two Tylenol PM tablets on the plane, but nothing happened and I spent the whole flight watching hour after hour of movies and TV programs that I never see over here. I managed to read half of the paperback book I bought at the airport and having had no sleep on the plane, I thought by now I would be doing some serious snoozing.

Since it appears I’ve been deserted by the sandman, I’ve been going through one of the projects that I started while home for the past three weeks in Atlanta. I spent about a week of 8 to 9 hours days going through tons of old photographs, letters, and assorted documents scanning almost 6500 separate items into my computer.

It was tough. Seeing my own history as well the photographs and letters of family members no longer living waiting to be sorted was overwhelming and felt never ending at times. I finally just sorted everything into two piles, one for those being scanned for a digital next life and the rest into the pile marked for things no longer treasured but instead bound for the trash.

I’ll say more on this later because all of sudden I think I may be able to finally sleep. I’ll leave you with a few pictures to illustrate my point and I’ll be back tomorrow with a bit more.

This is a postcard sent by my great uncle Hugh three months before he died in France in 1944.

How can this be anything but a treasure…

I’m No Pioneer Woman

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve been here. Have you missed me? I’ve missed being here, but I have been so busy during the last three weeks that I just haven’t had a block of time to write. It’s late here … almost 2:30 am and I still have to pack. Tomorrow I fly back to England and as much as I have enjoyed my visit home, I’m really looking forward to getting back to my life in Cornwall with John.

I have loads of stories to share, but tonight I had a chance to meet a special blogger who I’ve been following for the last couple of years. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out this really lovely woman, scoot over here and have a look around.  Take your time there’s a lot to see and I’ll be here when you get back.

Right … I hope you took time to see what Ree Drummond, aka ” The Pioneer Woman”  is all about. I’ve been learning a lot from her over the last year or so especially in the kitchen. In fact, I think there are a few people in my village who might say I have really got the hang of this dish ( scroll down towards the end of the post) that I took straight from her website.

It’s no surprise that I found myself waiting to meet the Pioneer Woman on my last night in America ( for the next seven months, not forever) along with hundreds of other people. She was in town on a book tour to promote her cookbook which I am sure will make my kitchen experience a lot safer for my computer. I picked up one for myself, my daughter Miranda, and her former college roommate Emily. My good friend Patrice came to keep me company while I waited and after browsing through my cookbook, she quickly decided she had to have one too.

My daughter Miranda is a huge fan of PW and wanted to be there, but had to work so I snapped a bunch of photos so she could get a sense of what it was like.  I’ve been to book signings before and never have I seen so many people turn out and wait so patiently. It was a laid back group of mostly women with a smattering of men around taking pictures and helping with children. I did meet one man who was there to buy his wife the cookbook although he confessed that he had tried quite a few of PW’s recipes that he found on her blog. His wife reads the blog everyday, but he prefers to try out things like the cinnamon rolls which he confessed were too good to make very often.  That sounds like a perfect Christmas morning treat.

There were several surprises for me tonight which added to the evening making it even more fun. As soon as I walked upstairs, I ran into a woman I used to work with at a hospice organization in Atlanta. Carla was one of the sweetest people I met there and exactly the type of person you want walking you through things should you or someone you know ever need hospice care.  She was delightful as always and she gave me permission to post a picture of her that I lifted from her facebook page. She’s a newlywed as you can see by the photograph. She wasn’t there for the book signing, but I still raved about the recipes in the cookbook. So Carla if you’re reading this, go over to PW’s place and check out the brisket.

When Patrice and I finally made it to the line, (they called us to it in groups according to numbered color coded wristbands…very civilized ) we were talking with each other when I easedropped overheard two women behind us doing something that sounded familiar. Barely pausing, I quickly turned around and interrupted them in the middle of what I remembered as the torture that goes with the practice of selling drugs. I blurted out, ” Are you two drug reps? ”  They were practicing a sales call with one being the doctor and one the pharma rep. It turned out to be a migraine medication which is kind of funny since I suffer from them from time to time. If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I worked in the same field for too many years. They were in town for a POA (plan of action) meeting and even had a sales aid with them to practice while they waited. As much fun as they were, I am so grateful that my life is no longer like theirs.

Joyce is in red and Deb (go here to see her post) is holding the sales aid or marketing piece depending on how old school you are.

This is me killing time goofing around with my knitting which I brought in case I needed something to do. I just pulled it out for a photo opportunity as there were far too many people to watch and chat with to focus on knitting.

Still these girls seem to be able to focus on the task at hand.

I was too busy focusing on babies like little Helen here above with her mom and the sneaky pic of the sweetly sleeping child below nestled in her mother’s lap.

We waited and watched others leaving with their cookbooks and PW T-shirts… a great gift for those who got their book signed.

Looks like someone is going to give a lot of cookbooks for Christmas.

This is a fuzzy shot of Pioneer Woman going in to her signing area  … people were so happy to see her that they clapped when she arrived and she wasn’t late either …she was way early.

She spoke for a minute, but I couldn’t hear her very well. The sound system was iffy and I was too busy checking out her boots.

It was all go right from the beginning and the smile you see below at the beginning of the evening was still there…

…when I got my chance to say hello and have my books signed.

That’s me telling her all about the time I told my daughter about my blog (when it was new) and her response afterwards. After taking a look around my blog, I asked my daughter what she thought about it and she said, ” It’s okay, but you’re no Pioneer Woman.”  No Pioneer Woman…I was the one who introduced her to the PW in the first place!

She’s still gracious and smiling even after I asked Patrice to take about four pictures of us.

Patrice and I finished up the evening with a signature from Betsy & Hyacinth and after picking up a T – shirt, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.

One last shot before I go.

I may not be Pioneer Woman, but thanks to her cookbook I can sure cook like her now… so fire up the oven John, I’m coming home!  Oops… I forgot myself for a minute and started talking like a rancher’s wife.

I’ll be back in a day or two…blogging from our little village in Cornwall. See you then.