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Nine out of Twelve

Those are the statistics from Cole about how many markets of late have closed due to stormy weather, and Sunday was no exception. Just as a young lady was buying my elephant photo,  I noticed a shift in the wind, and moments later, a downpour began. And what a downpour it was with eight people taking shelter in my tent. All closed up, it got sort of lively in there! Following 40 minutes of hard rain, here's what it looked like outside the confines of my tent:
Dina and Cole, soaked to the skin, are trying to unplug the newly refurbished drain. Obviously it could not keep up with a Florida rainstorm! Unexpectedly, with a 1:30 closing time, I sold a record 7 small canvases along with other assorted prints. I am ever so grateful for repeat buyers, of whom there were several.

Surprisingly, Sunday was not blazing hot prior to the storm, unlike the heat Saturday at Winter Garden, where it was difficult to stay cool even with my fan blowing on the highest speed. Never was I so glad for the clock to read 2:00, a slight exaggeration, but not by much. If not for a few new buyers, my day would have been a bust. I cannot wait for the cooler weather, and the folks that come with it! During the cooler months, there are about twice as many chairs, without an empty one in the bunch.
Bruce got a new suit for his special night at Nordstrom on Friday with bonus points for it not being made in China! According to Matthew, the clothes in Britain are not all made in China, however, that happy news has not made it to America. It's not that I begrudge Chinese people having jobs, it's just the quality I find fault with. One wearing and knit shirts have little pills on them, seams split, buttons fall off after a few washings, and other mishaps. Then there are the dyes which aren't nearly as colorfast, not to mention the ridiculously hight prices on some clothes which cost the company little to make. Enough already.

What else have I been up to lately? The usual, however, as is always the case, I discover new things to amuse me, whether they be a mushroom growing in our yard,
or a new kind of opening on a wine bottle. By the way, this one is quite clever:
After removing the lower ring, you are left with a little stopper which is very useful indeed. Much better than a plastic faux cork. Furthermore, adding interest to this whole thing is a clear bottle, something you rarely find in a red wine. Not amused? I know, it's a bit of a stretch....

How about some daisy practice?
And then there was the blue moon late last week which I didn't get around to posting. Looking out my kitchen window, my goodness it seemed so close and obviously full!
Apparently in a technicality, which I don't fully understand there was another blue moon, a phenomenon I was not expecting after the one last summer. Unlike last year, when the blue moon rose over the Atlantic Ocean, I had to content myself with glimpses through the trees this time. I fully intended to photograph it at daybreak the following morning, however, cloud cover made waste of my best-laid plans.

Have you heard of "Cook's Illustrated?" While shopping at Costco recently, I picked up a copy of their magazine, sort of one of those "best of" issues. So far I've made the vinaigrette recipe with great success and now I've mastered the chewy sugar cookies. These folks get very, very technical about cooking science; basically about the how and why things work together to form yummy food. He starts the cookie recipe by saying that it seems quite simple, however, to get the best taste and texture is quite another matter. I bet you've tasted, as I have, some pretty ordinary sugar cookies in your life. No more! As an example, after making batch after batch of them, they discovered that "a cookie's "chew" depends largely on the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats." He calls using both baking powder and baking soda the dynamic duo for a nicely mounded cookie. What he did not address was the perfect circle end of it! My cookies were made even more delicious by using the addition of chopped coconut and lime zest and juice. Oh my there were good! Below you can plainly see that they do have a nice mound with crisp edges and chewy center, well, I guess you can't see that, but trust me. What they lack are the perfect round shape. Something went amiss after making them into balls, rolling in sugar, and then flattening them with a glass.
A little rough around the edges is the perfect description! Guess what? In a first for me, following the recipe, I melted the butter before adding, and actually used a whisk throughout, rather than my beautiful mixer! Figuring I'd try his way, I was surprised at how it worked like a charm.

We've finished Season Two of Downton Abbey, and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Season Three from Amazon. Seeing the gorgeous clothes is enough to make anyone want to watch that series. Although late to the party, we love it as most folks do! Thank you to Jon and Alissa for an awesome birthday gift!

Friday, on an afternoon run to the Polasek, the clouds threatened,
following through on the threat just as I arrived to deliver some more cards and prints. While there I learned from Petra that people were hoping for a different picture of "The Sower" because of the flowering tabebuia tree in the background. I loved that photo, as did Debbie, the museum director who made it the logo for a year, but if it isn't selling than it is time to move on. The rain was my friend in this case because it is hard to get a good photograph of a sculpture anyway, and in our case, the harsh sunlight really adds to that. Perhaps they will like this one better:
Although not much of a check, each month I receive one for cards or prints sold in the gift shop. I split the profit 50/50 with them. We are all very happy indeed to discover that the people who visit the gardens and museum love butterfly photographs which I happily provide. Yet another nice thing of late was a larger than expected check from Sun Dance. Oh how we love "mailbox money."

All that to say that so far this has been a banner year for me even with all our early market closures from stormy weather. I'm as surprised as anybody! My sales have surpassed last year's mark with four more months to go.What's happening around here? Is the recession finally starting to ease? For everyone's sake, I sure hope so.
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