Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tuesday 4....

Hobbies and Interests Tuesday 4 Questions....

1. Do you have a hobby or a special interest?  Do you quilt, crochet, cook, sew, collect things, sing, play an instrument, love dolls , politics, learning, reading, biking, hiking, camping, swimming, flower arranging, watching TV? Do you love to entertain, set a beautiful table or just take a walk? Share it with us won't you? Why do you enjoy it? Can you tell us how you became interested or what particularly interests you about your hobby.

I love camping; it has been my favorite hobby for about 35 years. I started with a very small pup tent camping on the Hawaiian Islands while in college. I upgraded to larger tents several times over the years, and camped all over the USA with friends and family. My husband and I made the decision to trade in our tent for a travel trailer about two years ago. It allows us to pick up and go on the spur of the moment...Love it!

We also coordinate and lead "Glamping Trips" to state and national parks. We provide a comfortable camping event for friends and guests. Some favorite locations are Cloudland Canyon in North GA. Big Creek in North Carolina, and Kings Canyon in CA.

2.  Gardening is a hobby for some. Do you garden or grow house plants? What do you like about it? What are your favorite plants inside or out? Pictures? We'd love to see  photos of you house or garden plants or hear about ideas you have for growing things or creating beauty with plants around the house.
I love digging in the dirt. Flowers in the yard make me smile and give me great joy. I also enjoy the textures and colors of Hostas in the shady spots on our property. My favorite plants are the magnificent varieties of hydrangeas. 

Various hydrangeas growing near picket fence

3. If you could design a dream garden or park , how would you do it? What would it contain.? Maybe include a picture from the net of one you think closely fits your dream garden.
It would be filled with hostas and hydrangeas, many rocks for texture, a rock lined stream, and seating for relaxing in the garden. Something like this....

4. Do you like being outdoors? If so, what attracts you to the great outdoors and if not, what keeps you inside? Do you walk in the rain? Are there parks near you that you like to visit?
The outdoors is my happy place. Walking in the woods, sitting on the beach, watching the river rush past, or strolling through the park are some of the ways that I relax, reflect, and recharge. I do not walk in the rain, I walk in the sun. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is only a few hours away; it is a wonderful park filled with magical places to explore.

Lori in Blue Ridge, GA

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

My Jewelry Making Class ...

Jewelry. Humans have been adorning themselves with it for thousands of years. In fact, jewelry is one of the oldest types of archaeological artifacts, with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewelry. But the first signs of established jewelry making didn’t happen until around 3,000-5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt.

Since then, much has changed, yet much has stayed the same. Whether you call it jewelry in the States, jewellery in the UK or jewelery elsewhere, these accessories make a statement,  and showcase our personal style.

Forget items being cranked out by the thousands (or millions) at a factory. There’s something much more satisfying in creating your own jewelry designs. Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces forge style and sentiment into a single, unique DIY accessory that has a story to tell.

Just like any good story, we must start at the beginning: The Fundamentals. My jewelry making for beginners class will show you how to make jewelry that is functionally sound, aesthetically pleasing and professional looking so that you can wear it proudly or happily give it to friends and family.

I give jewelry making classes at Blue Haven Studio in Blue Ridge, GA. I have a wide selection of beads, chain and pendants to create custom, handmade jewelry. Students can choose to make a necklace, earrings or bracelet.  Browse my selection and samples when you arrive, and I’ll be there to help you create something you’ll be proud to wear. We also enjoy adult beverages and bring snacks to share. 

The students from my last class showing off their creations.... Each gal picked the materials and length of the necklace.  They did a wonderful job.

Check-out upcoming classes at: 

Lori in Blue Ridge

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Four questions weekly....

1. Where have you traveled and what is the furthest you've been from home
My career allowed me to travel coast to coast in the United States and Canada. I've also traveled outside of North America: Europe, The Caribbean, Central America, and The Pacific Islands. I think Istanbul Turkey is the furthest that I've been from home.

Image result for istanbul turkey
Istanbul, Turkey

2. Is there a location other than where you are, that you think would be a nice place to live?
If cost was not a factor I would have several homes. A summer home in Camden, Maine, a winter home on the coast in Florida (possibly Key West), and a vacation home in Santorini, Greece.  

3. Do you have a photo or story from a favorite place to visit?
I love Architecture; Key West, Florida is home to one of the largest collections of intact 18th century homes. The Key West historic district, with quaint tree lined lanes and stately mansions, is a national treasure to be savored.
There are many other reasons why I love Key West; the tropical setting, the gardens, the locals, the artsy feel of the community, the seafood, etc...etc...! Too many to list.  I Love Key West!

Key West, Florida

4. What dream destination do you have tucked away in  your heart? Do you think you'll be able to visit them one day or are plans in the making?
I've always wanted to visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island in Michigan.  When I was young I lived outside of Chicago and the Grand Hotel was a vacation destination within driving distance.  But we never traveled there as a family and after College I never returned to the Midwest. Someday I will get there.....

Image result for the grand hotel mackinac island
The Grand Hotel

Lori in Blue Ridge, GA

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It's National Bagel Day!

What is National Bagel Day?
National Bagel Day is January 15.  The yummy rounds of dough can be found just about anywhere: breakfast joints, coffee shops, supermarkets, or your favorite deli. In fact, 2018 saw more than 354 million bagels sold. What is your favorite? Mine is the Everything Bagel.
National Bagel Day History
Bagels have a long and highly documented history that travels from the Jewish families of Poland in the 1600s to wrapped up in parchment paper in your hands today. And, unlike many things created nearly five-hundred years ago, bagels are remarkably unchanged. Sure, cream cheeses, butters, flavors, and toppings may have evolved over time but the bagel is still the same basic recipe
Bagels made the jump to America with a massive Polish-Jewish immigration in the 1800s that firmly entrenched itself in New York City where it thrived. In fact, an entire union was created in the early 1900s called Bagel Bakers Local 338 to support the growing, immigrant-led industry. That also begat the “bagel brunch,” that we still enjoy to this day with little to no changes: lox, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes, and red onions. 
While bagels were hugely popular in New York City almost immediately, they didn’t make their way to the national scale until the mid 20th-century where automation and bread slicing made mass manufacturing much more efficient. Since then, bagels have taken off to include a variety of flours, toppings, dips and smears but still remain – by and large – exactly as they were in the 1600s...yummy!

How to Make Bagels
Not all bagels are created equal; in fact, truly great bagels are so hard to find, I decided to learn how to make bagels at home. This recipe for the classic bagel is easy to follow; once you get the basics down, switch up the toppings and flavors to delight every bagel lover in the house. 

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water 110°F
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons barley malt syrup divided
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Everything Bagel Seasoning or poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or coarse salt (see notes)1.) Soften (bloom) the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes.
2.) In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup, sugar, and salt. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the yeast mixture.
3.) Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. If the dough becomes stuck to the dough hook, scrape the dough off the hook and return to the bottom of the mixer bowl.
4.) Turn out the dough onto a dry surface and shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and brush with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees, see notes) for 20 minutes (it will double in volume).
5.) Turn out the dough onto a dry surface and divide into 12 equal portions of dough.

6.) Working with 1 portion of a dough at a time, roll the dough into a 9-inch rope. Moisten the ends of each rope and wrap the dough around to form a circle. There should be  a hole approximately the size of a quarter in the middle and the ends of the dough should overlap by at least 1 inch. Repeat with remaining portions.
7.) Cover the shaped bagels with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees) for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
8.) Bring a large, shallow pan of water and remaining 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup to a simmer. Boil the bagels in batches, 3 to 4 at a time, for 30 seconds on each side, adjusting the heat of the stove to maintain a simmer. Remove to the cooling rack set over a baking sheet and repeat with remaining bagels. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
9.) While the top of the bagels are still damp, sprinkle with Everything Bagel Seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or coarse salt. Transfer the bagels to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
10.) Bake until the bagels are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the positions and rotate the orientation of the sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Recipe NotesTo create a warm environment ideal for yeast-rising, preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170 degrees, 200 degrees), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven. The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise.

To make Everything Bagel Seasoning, combine:
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt or flaked salt

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Accomplishing Your Goals....

Everyone’s discussing goal-setting this time of year, but I think most people miss a key part of making goals ... following-through, meaning taking the necessary steps and doing specific things to help you achieve those goals.
In setting my goals for the year, I came across a great set of tips and wanted to share:

1. Write it down....
Most of us do write down our goals in January, but we only think about them on occasion. A goal setting study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychologist and professor, says we’re 42% more likely to achieve our goals if we simply write them down. Instead of thinking about them or only writing them once, write them down frequently so your focus is fresh and your goals are top of mind. I have a journal to do this, and look at it daily.

2. Work on it...
This is a big one for me, I pride myself on being organized and following a plan. Along with daily chores, making jewelry and teaching classes, scheduling time to work on a specific goal the is key. According to Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, a psychologist who studies goal-setting, scheduling time to work on your goals doubles and sometimes triples your chances for success.

3. Be Accountable...
According to the American Society of Training & Development, you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you have someone to help keep you accountable. If you set a standing accountability appointment for coffee, a text or email to report status, your odds go up to 95%! 

Lori in Blue Ridge

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Stealing - 09/08/19

Welcome to Sunday Stealing. This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. The hosts steal all types of interesting and intelligent questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our task is to answer the questions and learn a bit about each other.

1) What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
Many years ago I was accidentally hit in the face with a baseball bat (full Swing). My face was cut open by the sunglasses I was wearing and I had a concision, my short term memory was affected.  I had no family in the area and I hadn't made many friends yet in my new state. So many people stepped in to help me (I was out of sorts for a month): co-workers, hospital staff, casual acquaintances and surprisingly my ex-boyfriends family.  I felt blessed that so many people stepped up to help me, it was one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.

2) What is the most fun thing you have ever done?
I went on a 14 day cruise to Europe. I loved the trip and saw so many sights in a very short time span. Granted, I was exhausted after running full speed for two weeks, but it was a wonderful trip and so much fun!

3) Are you left-handed or right-handed?
Right handed, but I can use both without much thought.

4) What is the biggest animal you’ve seen in the wild?
Humpback Whales, they were everywhere in Alaska. I also saw a very large grizzly in Alaska.

5) What is the smallest animal you’ve seen in the wild?
I was sitting on a log in the redwood forest writing in my travel journal. It was quiet and magical due to the light streaming in at an angle through the giant trees. I looked to my right and found a tiny mouse sitting on the end of the log with me.  The little mouse looked so out of place in this giant landscape. We sat peacefully enjoying each others company, it was a wonderful moment in time. 

6) Do you ever have funny dreams at night? 
I don't think so, they are usually strange.

7) If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?
Free healthcare and affordable prescription drugs for all citizens. 

8) What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
Sneak in the Biltmore House and see all the wonders of life in the Gilded Age. I would play "Queen for a Day".

9) If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
Oprah - "you get a house, and you get a car, and you get a vacation, and you get a makeover, and you get a boat, etc...". I would love to fulfill the dreams of others.

10) What would you like to change about yourself?
I'd like to have more enthusiasm when it's time to down size...we have too much stuff!

11) What would your perfect day be like?
Waking up in an exotic tropical place, breakfast served on the balcony overlooking the water, a day of relaxation and pampering, a sunset dinner on the beach with tiki torches and fine wine with each coarse, and then snuggling with my sweetie in our over water bungalow, listening to the waves as we drift off to sleep. Perfection!

12) What makes you nervous?
The idiot in the White House and everything he is doing to destroy the country.

Lori in Blue Ridge, GA

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Monday, September 2, 2019

I Love Coconut....

Today is World Coconut Day!
Nobody knows exactly when the first coconut popped out from a palm tree, but specialists say that the oldest coconut fossils were found up to 55 million years ago in Australia and India.
Comfortably growing along the coast between 26 degrees north and 26 degrees south of the equator, they serve as a dietary staple for nearly a third of the world’s population.
In ideal conditions, one coconut palm tree can produce 75 fruits annually. However, if the land is not fertile enough or if the temperature isn’t consistent, a low yield would be around 30 each year. When coconuts mature, they automatically drop to the ground. Yes, falling coconuts can kill people, and are frequently compared with the number of shark attacks in the world, but don’t worry both statistics are very low and please don’t let that deter you from hugging a coconut palm tree!

You can’t make a piƱa colada or a decent Thai curry without it, its water makes a great recovery drink, and its fibrous husk, when burned, repels mosquitos — these are just three of many excellent reasons to celebrate World Coconut Day on September 2.

World Coconut Day Activities:
1.   Crack one open
It’s a lot of fun to crack into a real coconut, and no, you don’t need a machete. There are a number of methods, so check out some YouTube videos. Whichever you choose, be sure to save the coconut water before prying out the sweet meat for snacking.
2.   Cook something different
If you have only ever had coconuts in tropical drinks and macaroons, get acquainted with the savory side of this fruit. Try your hand at a coconut-based curry, coconut shrimp, coconut-lime rice, or even coconut-crusted onion rings!
3.   Throw a tiki party
Now that you have all these coconutty delights, why not host a Polynesian-themed party? They’re best held in the backyard, where you can light the area with tiki torches. Provide leis and/or grass skirts, decorate with orchids and tropical fruit, and play some festive ukulele music to get guests in the mood. Don’t forget to put umbrellas in the drinks...Cheers!

Yummy! A fabulous, moist coconut cake studded with vanilla beans is filled and coated with a coconut meringue buttercream frosting.



    cake flour
    granulated sugar
  •  2
    baking powder
  •  ½
    kosher salt
  •  ¾
    unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
  •  6
    egg whites
  •  1
    coconut milk
  •  1
    sweetened shredded coconut
  •  1
    vanilla bean
    (split in half lengthwise)


    granulated sugar
  •  6
    egg whites
    unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
  •  1
    vanilla extract
  •  ¼
    kosher salt
    coconut milk


  •  1
    sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. Sift the cake flour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed for 15 seconds to combine. Add the butter pieces and beat on low speed for 1 minute, or until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, coconut milk and the 1 cup shredded coconut until combined. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and whisk to thoroughly incorporate the seeds throughout the mixture.
  4. Add half of the coconut milk mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium-high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the remainder of the coconut milk mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until the batter is well-mixed, light and fluffy.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops are firm and golden brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.
  6. Make the Frosting: In a small, heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and the mixture is cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy. The frosting may initially look curdled after adding the butter, but continue beating and it will come together, looking smooth and creamy by the end of the mixing time.
  8. Add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for another few minutes on medium speed, or until the coconut milk is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Again, the buttercream may look thin and separated, but continue mixing until it comes together. It will be more of a satin-like consistency, versus the thick powdered sugar frostings that are often used.  Note: Use the frosting within 30 minutes, or transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 day, then beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) until smooth before using. You can also store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then bring to room temperature and beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) for 6 to 8 minutes until smooth before using.
  9. Assemble the Cake: Remove the cooled cakes from their pans and level the tops, if necessary. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and top with 2 cups of the frosting, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges.
  10. Place the second layer on top, top-side down. Spoon 1 cup of the frosting onto the top of the cake and use a large offset spatula to spread the frosting on top and over the sides of the cake, covering it with a very thin layer (this is the crumb coat). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  11. Use a wooden spoon to mix the remaining frosting to lighten it up since it has been sitting. Spoon it onto the cake and spread it evenly over the top and down the sides. Use an offset spatula to create a smooth finish. Press the 1 cup shredded coconut onto the top and sides of the frosted cake. The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  12. Cheers!
  13. Lori in Blue Ridge, GA

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