Important Work

A few evenings ago Charlie and I visited the University of Maryland Medical Center to hear information on the advances being made in treating blood cancers and to take a tour of the labs with the researchers.

The Gudelsky Building of the UMMS.

This evening was sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Maryland which funds much of the research that takes place both at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore

We were interested to learn that much of the research done for blood cancers creates therapies that are used in treating and curing other cancers and diseases since blood is easier to obtain and study than putting a part of a person under a microscope.

The patient and family lounge is a peaceful atrium.

Our Guides were Maria Baer, MD and Eduardo Davila, PhD who work in cancer research, more specifically blood cancers, and have received grants from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This work station has an airlock that does not permit germs or molds to enter or grow. The Liquidator 96 on the left of the station just last week replaced an older, more time-consuming technology.

Our own family has been touched by leukemia and so it is heartening to learn the strides that have been made not only in the last 30 years or 15 years but also last week.  The grant money helps provide equipment and staffing for research that uncovers proteins which block chemotherapy.

Lots of large equipment in small, windowless rooms keep long hours with top researchers.

This group has found an inhibitor that opens the door for medicines to work better and in smaller doses.

Another view of the atrium on the way out.

It’s clear the researchers are highly intelligent, extremely devoted, and ultimately passionate about their work.

A reminder that there’s more work to do.

We’re proud to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s cause which not only supports research but also directly impacts patients. While cures have been developed, more are being sought for those very resistant forms of cancer. Thank you to everyone.

What cause is dear to your heart? What are you passionate about?


Hang ‘Em Up to Dry

Really I mean hang ’em upside down.

The hydrangeas are gorgeous blue and will stay that way when dry.

This keeps the stems from bending and the heads from flopping.

A celing full of these flowers hanging upside down would be stunning for a party or wedding.

I just wrap a rubber band loosely around a handful of stems and hang them in a dark, dry spot.

Hang on for a week or so and the blossoms will be crispy.

I plan to use this group of dried hydrangea in a mantle arrangement this summer.

Almost ready for display.

They add a nice touch of color.

These shriveled a little because I cut them late.

What things do you preserve?

Caffe Macchiato Doppio, Per Favore

Our new espresso machine has arrived. I ordered it online on Saturday and it arrived on Tuesday. It was a hefty delivery weighing in at 34 pounds. My first order was a caffè macchiato doppio which is a double (doppio) espresso (caffè) with a mark (macchiato) of steamed milk.

My first brew from the new machine.

Before any of that could happen we had to unpack the box and prime the machine.  We purchased a Rancilio Silvia whose website has a great series of video tutorials on how to do all that and  brew a perfect espresso (including steaming the milk for cappuccino). Lots of people are also brewing coffee on YouTube.

Charlie’s hands are moving soooo fast they’re just a blur.

Charlie had purchased some Free Trade Italian Roast which was on sale from Starbucks especially for the first brew of the new machine.

Starbucks Italian Roast

First he dosed (put finely ground coffee in) the brewing basket which is called a portafilter.

Aim for the portafilter and try not to get coffee all over the counter.

Everything’s set for our premiere brew in Miss Silvia.

No, no, too slow.

Try again.

Whoa! Too fast.

Once more, Goldilocks.

Ah, yes. Perfecto. You can stop it now.

 You know how coffee is:

  • short and black is espresso,
  • a little taller with more water through the grinds is lungo,
  • taller still with hot water added to the mix is Americano.

    Discard the puck after each brew.

It is deliciosa.

Have you bought a new appliance? Did it make you happy?

Sidebar:  No coffee was wasted in the making of this post.  Every bit was imbibed.

And Then This Happened

I told you that I was all set to shampoo our rugs and that things started to go wrong here. But the vacuum cleaner was not the only glitch in the rug cleaning system.  Even while we were still evaluating the broken belt I thought I’d move ahead by checking the hook-up to our Bissell carpet cleaner.

This old machine doesn’t get much action so I hope it’s up to the challenge.

We actually have 2 carpet cleaners: the Bissell pictured above and a Little Green Machine which we inherited from my mother.  The LGM ran fine but I’m not sure how to use it so I decided to check out the owner’s manual whose pages were totally stuck together.  Yet another: Oich! (Oh, I know there’s probably a manual online but that takes time on my slow, old computer.)

When I tried to attach the water hose to our kitchen sink I was dismayed to find the aerator had been changed and I couldn’t just screw on the hose.

This piece connects to a faucet and supplies clean water.

While we were at Lowes picking up the vacuum cleaner belt we also found a male to male aerator adaptor.

The $4 adaptor for the faucet.

When the aerator is removed from the sink faucet and replaced with this little gizmo with threads on both ends the hose can be attached.

The male to male aerator adaptor is screwed into the faucet.

Then the water hose that mixes the carpet cleaner with the water was screwed onto the faucet and the smaller side tube inserted into the diluted cleaning solution.

The set up at the faucet leaks slightly so care is taken to keep water in the sink (not on the floor).

I start by spraying a section of rug with the water and solution that comes through the wand.  Then I turn on the motor which sucks up the water while spraying it again. Finally, without spraying any more solution I make sure all the water is extracted from the carpet.

The spray head also sucks up the water and brushes the rug.

I also check to make sure the water that’s being extracted is clear otherwise I go over it again because some serious dirt was removed from this rug.

The extracted water is not just muddy, it’s black.

Even though the rug is just damp (and not soaking wet) I wait at least 12 hours before replacing the furniture.  (Depending on the weather more or less time might need to be allotted.  I had a breezy, dry day.)

The living room rug is clean again.

I love the way the clean rug feels on my bare feet and it smells so nice.  But still I ponder the question: why is EVERYTHING an ordeal?

Have you been dealing with any ordeals?

Finders, Keepers

Our church has a table in the social hall where anybody can put anything for 2 weeks. If in that time anybody sees something he/she likes, just take it. Charlie and I have both helped ourselves in the past. (Charlie has also put things on the table that had to be thrown in the dumpster at the end of the allotted time.)

This past weekend there was a flower pot.

Found this on the free table.

I liked it; I took it.

It matched our terrace furniture perfectly.

And it was free, free, free.

Have you had any freebies lately?

What Else Could Go Wrong?

Ah, Sunday.  Usually we don’t have much free time on Sunday.  But last Sunday Charlie had no afternoon gigs (he’s a piano player and is booked most Sundays) and the evening church service had been cancelled. That meant that after the morning service we were free for the rest of the day.  My plan was to shampoo the living room rug so before church I moved all the furniture off the rug.

Living room furniture moved off the rug and a couple of small rugs ready for cleaning.

In addition I lugged the Bissell rug shampooer over from The Cottage.

This old machine doesn’t get much action so I hope it’s up to the challenge.

First, I wanted to give the rug a good vacuuming.  Oddly, the vacuum was running but not picking up any debris unless I used the wand attachment.  When I checked more closely I found the beater brush on the bottom of the vacuum was not turning. Arghhh!

Why don’t these machines work right when you need them?

Charlie and I both agreed it probably needed a belt. (I’m pretty sure I had broken the belt recently when I caught a piece of clothing in the vacuum and let it run until it started to smoke.) He took the casing off the machine and sure enough found the broken belt. (Directions for this entire process are in the manual that comes with the machine which I keep in a file box in the attic. There are probably detailed videos on youtube also.)

The working parts of the vacuum are in the base.

We headed out to Lowes to get a replacement belt (and an attachment for the Bissell which is a story for another day).

The last 2-pack at Lowes had one belt.

They had one bag which was supposed to have 2 belts for our Fantom cleaner.  It only had one so we headed up to the service desk where we bought it for half price with the full assurance that if it didn’t fit (it was wider and shorter than the original) we could return it for a full refund.

The belt goes around the motor first.

Charlie ran the belt around the motor drive.

The belt slips over the beater bar second.

Then he lifted the beater bar and slid the belt around it and stretched the bar back into position.

Stretch the belt into place by returning the beater bar into position.

Yippee!  Whoppee! Woo hoo! The beater bar turns and the vacuum works again.

Turn, Baby, turn.

Of course I had already put all the furniture back into place because I was in such state of piqued frustration.  The saga will continue with the Bissell rug shampooer story.

Are you easily frustrated when your plans go awry?

Sidebar: Later in the evening when Charlie was making peach smoothies both of our wand blenders failed (after all the ingredients were poured into the mixing cup).

Follow Me to a Table Under the Sea

We have this old coffee table for which I had an inspiration that I told you about here.

Old coffee table ready for a transformation

First I sanded then primed the whole table.

Sanded and primed

Using the following color combination I tweaked the grey color to make it a little bit darker.

“Coral Gables” and “Templeton Grey” – How sophisticated is that?

I projected (with an old-fashioned overhead projector) the coral pattern and generally filled in the coral areas and the grey areas.

The coral and grey areas were painted in their general positions.

The projector showed the coral pattern but I painted the negative areas.

The table actually looks interesting with the coral projected onto the two colors.

Then I  painted the darker color over the lighter one to fill in the details.

The first coat of paint looked a little rough.

Subsequent detailing evened out the tones and really gave a graphic and modern look to an old table.

Coral coffee table

The table top before .  .  .

The top was in rough shape.

And after.

The top is much improved.

This coral themed table is destined for The Cottage at The Glade which has a kind of seaside cottage vibe.

The Cottage is filled with future projects but the coral coffee table will be redy when they’re finished.

We’ll need to finish and move a few more large projects before the table can be set in place permanently.

Coral coffee table

Since painting this table I have a desire to go to the beach.

Coral coffee table corner detail.

Where do you like to go to relax?

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