Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Taking Time to Smell The Lily

My Easter preparations always include the purchase of one Easter Lily.  I look for one containing the most buds with just one or two being open.  That way I can enjoy checking each day to see if another has opened.  But, I think the main reason I buy them is the smell.  To me they are the scent of Easter.  One whiff and I am taken back to all of the Easters of my childhood.   It's like a travel back in time to mom's kitchen... there she stands in her apron checking the ham in the oven.  Soon company will be joining us.  We've been to church and are outfitted in our Sunday best (most definitely patent leather shoes and white gloves for Easter)An Easter Lily and some simple decorations are placed about. 
Hard to believe that all of that can come from one whiff of a lily, isn't it?  But, for me, it's true.  So, as I go about my present day Easter planning, a daily sniff of the Easter Lily keeps the family members who are no longer with us close in thought and warm happy memories.

 At times the preparations for a holiday meal can seem a bit overwhelming.  Things don't always go as planned.  Circumstances change from year to year.  The changes aren't always desirable, but that seems to be the way life goes.
 Somehow, for me, the scent of that Easter Lily brings comfort. 
I think it reminds me that despite the ebbs and flows, Easter is a time for celebration.

 The carrot cake is long gone.
My mom's recipe that never fails to get rave reviews.

  The Easter Lily served me well this year.
Despite a beautiful holiday celebrated with my family, an emotional roller coaster presented itself.  Calling my sister to wish her a Happy Easter was tough, but not calling wasn't an option.  Almost five years after her stroke, not much has changed and now she is experiencing nearly unbearable pain.  I sensed such weariness in her voice.  Although she still deals with aphasia, she is able to get out some words.  Pain and Shoulder came out mixed with a few tears.  When my brother-in-law explained to me more about the situation, he sounded upbeat yet I sensed the weariness.  Knowing that they are grieving the loss of their son on top of all of this I once again wonder how much can they take?
Hanging up the phone I felt such sadness for them and, to be honest, guilt for the many good things I had to look forward to on this day.  
Just before my guests arrived, I had a good cry, said a prayer for my sister and brother-in-law & thought about things I could do for them. Then it was time to pull myself together.  It may sound funny, but a sniff of the Easter Lily helped to remind me that life is constantly changing yet some things remain the same and at that emotional moment I found that to be so comforting.  

 After Easter the lilies find their way into my garden.

Wishing my dear blog friends a beautiful week.

Thank you for your visits here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Treasuring the Moments

The moments leading up to Easter have been busy around here.
As the spring flowers continue to reveal their beauty, I've been cherishing the firsts in his little life.  
Normally this would have been a time for dragging boxes of Easter decor from the attic for me.
But, when asked if I'd like to accompany them to the park to let him crawl on the grass for the first time...  it's off we go.  As the sun warmed our bodies, watching him explore the great big outdoors warmed my heart.  
As Easter drew nearer and I felt the need to be making the menu and grocery list, the idea for joining him for his first Easter Egg Hunt seemed like a much more appealing idea so... off we go again.
Here it is almost Easter and the bins never came out of the attic.
Instead I picked up a few Easter plants (that will later be planted in the garden) to decorate the table.  A pink tablecloth, a bowl of colored eggs, bowls of colorful candy and a few pastel candles.  So simple and yet still festive.  
The carrot cake has been baked and will have a dual purpose this year. Happy Birthday to me :).   Ha... how's that for a shameless plug?  I'm celebrating another year today... a year filled with joy and love and also a year of treasuring the moments.
I saved one carrot for Peanut.  Tomorrow she officially becomes a teenager.  It's taken her awhile to warm up to Jaxson, but for the most part they are now friends

   Well, I guess it's time for me to finish up my food preparations.
I've been missing my blogging time and hope to get back to visiting you all soon.  Until then I want to wish each of you a very   
Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Spring Shed

Well, here it is Saturday evening and I'm sitting out on the patio enjoying the sights and sounds of springtime.  The dogwood trees popped into bloom this week and so did the hyacinths and mid-season daffodils.  The bluebirds are flitting back and forth to the nesting box setting up housekeeping.  I love the changing seasons, but there is something about spring that I especially love.  I think it's the signs of new life everywhere you look.  

At this time of year I'm torn between wanting to be outside and wanting to be inside decluttering every inch of my house.  This year the decluttering seems to be winning the race.
Last week it was the kitchen cupboards, drawers and cookbook collection.
Yesterday, the costume jewelry collection... mine and my mom's.
Today hours were spent on my closet.  I took every single piece of clothing out and tried them on.  Trust me, this isn't for the faint of heart... especially after a winter of not enough activity.  I think I could easily say that half or more of my wardrobe is on it's way to the thrift shop.  Ugh!!  To be honest I'd like to maintain a more pared down wardrobe.  Actually I'd like my whole house to be more pared down so I am on a mission to achieve that little by little.  
Why am I telling you this?
To explain why I've been scare in blogland of late.
If I spend too much time on the internet, the decluttering suffers and I've got to strike while the iron is hot where decluttering is concerned.  
Oh, and one more thing...
after trying on all of those clothes today I know I have to get moving.  Almost everything was too tight.  I really want to lose at least five pounds.  It's either that or go up a size and I refuse to do that.  I know that for the most part I eat a healthy diet and keep pretty close tabs on my fat intake.  But, if I'm honest with myself I know that my exercise is hit or miss.  Mostly miss lately.  I find too often I am sitting at the computer for much longer periods of time than I realize.  Not good for the waistline or my back issue either.
So, along with shedding clutter I'm hoping to shed a few pounds.  
I'd love some input on how all of you manage the exercise and the computer time.  If you'd care to share. I'd be ever so grateful.

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Things and Strange Things

I'm on a mission today to share a bit of southern Springtime with all of you who may be fed up with old man winter.

As our temperatures have started to rise the pansies on my patio have responded favorably.  A week or two ago there were no flowers to be found.  Now with a little bit of liquid fertilizer and alternating rain and sun, they are putting on quite a colorful show.  I have them planted with Swiss Chard which is also making a great comeback after sitting idly all winter.  I'll be adding a few leaves to my vegetable soup this evening.

The first of the flowering trees came into bloom this week.  I think this is a flowering cherry of some sort.  So pretty when in bloom, but the blooms usually come and go in the course of a week.
Look quick or they'll be gone until next year.  Fleeting beauty... like so many of the spring flowers.

Some of the daffodils are nearing the end.
Others are just beginning to put on their show.
My knock out roses are in the center of the photo under the hummingbird feeder.  A couple weeks ago I pruned and fed them.  Can't wait until they come into bloom.

Last fall I planted one of those mixed bags of bulbs here (purple and pink hyacinth and some grape hyacinths).  I wanted to get down there and take some close-ups for you.  That plan got scrapped when it started raining.  Instead you get a cropped landscape shot.  To the left and behind the bulbs you can see little green buds on the Endless Summer Hydrangeas. 

At this time of year, I'm itchin' to be outside playing in the dirt.
I've planted some lettuce, kale, cilantro, radishes and peas in my raised bed.  
Inside I have some more seeds started just waiting to get big enough to be transplanted outside and . . .

the Meyer Lemon Tree looks longingly out the window hoping to make a permanent home on the patio soon.
She spent the winter right in front of this sunny window.  Outside of losing about half of her leaves (to be expected) she is doing well.  Can't wait to pick my first lemon.

Adding a touch of Springtime to the front porch.

A simple forsythia wreath for the front door.
This one came from Michael's (40% off sale).  
I guess that concludes Spring Things for today.  If old man winter doesn't hit the road soon, I'll see what else I can come up with to send your way.  We'll force him out one way or another ;-).

Now, about those strange things...

Imagine the following scenario:

You fix an impromptu dinner for guests.  In my case it was my grown son and his girlfriend. (not really guests, but sort of :).  That dinner just happens to be chili in the crock pot.  You're feeling good that you had all of the ingredients on short notice and it tasted really good to boot.  There is one serving left.  Not enough to offer son to take home (a blessing in disguise).
A few days later you are happy to heat that one serving for your own lunch.  Especially happy because you've been babysitting your grandchild all week and cooking time has been scarce.  While he is napping you are happily enjoying your bowl of chili until you discover something a bit... well... hard to chew in your mouth.  Thinking it seems a bit big for gristle you discreetly extract...

~ Exhibit A ~

A rubber grommet?
In my chili?
I have no earthly idea how that got in there.
Could it have been in the can of beans, the tomatoes, the tomato sauce??
All I do know is that I'm thankful it was me who (almost) ate it.
I'm also thankful I didn't send the leftovers home with my guests.  I'd hate to have to try and explain that one.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

At Last. . . Spring

 Last weekend Brett and I were away enjoying another B & B.
This time it was a gift from our youngest son.  Apparently the boys think we need to get away and relax more and we are quite happy to do so :).
Driving along the country roads we turned the corner and were greeted by this beautiful bed of daffodils. In amongst the flowers an elderly lady was in the midst of picking a bouquet.  We pulled over to tell her how lovely her daffodils were and she said, in her sweet Southern drawl, "come on out and pick yourself a bouquet".  Not one to pass up an offer like that, I hopped out of the car and joined her.  As we picked flowers, she told me that this peaceful farmland was her family homeplace.  Her dad was born in 1904 she said with a little smile.  Somebody else was tending the farm these days, but come June they set up a roadside stand to sell vegetables.  Starting with tomatoes and corn and wrapping it up in December with collards.  She reminded me that collards on New Year's Day was a big thing in the south. 
She said that the new farmer did all of the work and she is the one to work at the roadside stand because she loves talking to the people.  She also enjoys having her supper and watching people stop along her country road to take pictures.  She shared that her daddy always loved daffodils and she knew it would make him happy to see people enjoying them.
My time with her was short.  Much too short.
I could have listened to her for hours.

 Luckily we had a bottle of water in the car.
Just right for a makeshift daffodil vase.
At the end of the day, the little bouquet made a lovely addition to our room at the inn.  Sunday dawned rainy, cold and gloomy.  So happy to have the scent of spring flowers there to remind us of warmer and sunnier days ahead.
Also happy to be reminded of my short visit with a sweet lady with an even sweeter southern accent.

Well, it's officially Spring!!
How's it looking out your window today?
Hopefully warmer and sunnier days are ahead for all of us.

Happy First Day of Spring!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fresh Picked

 ~ Good Morning to You ~

 The first bouquet of daffodils freshly picked from the garden.
Can't think of a nicer start to this late winter morning.
It's been a loooong winter for so many.
If you are feeling like winter may never turn to spring . . .

my daffodils and I are here to encourage you to hang in there.
It's on it's way... we promise :)

Happy Monday! 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog Break...

Is there a saying about
you know you've hit middle age when a clean fridge excites you?
Ha!  Sad to say but that's whats been making me happy on my blog break.
Every shelf has been removed and scrubbed, the condiments have been organized, bits and bobs have been discarded and, best of all, the menfolk have been informed of the correct place to put things once they use them.  No more cramming the salad dressing any old place it will fit.  No sirree. kindly place it on shelf #2 in the door.   

  In case anybody starts slacking on the rules, I've stationed my Texas Christmas Pickles front and center to keep everyone in line.
Just kidding, of course.  Truthfully, I haven't had the heart to "undress" the pickles since my neighbor gave them to us for Christmas.  Talk about a cute presentation for her homemade pickles.

When I announced my "blog break", I knew it was time to do a bit less blogging and a bit more spring cleaning.  Soon it will be gardening season and then summertime will arrive.
I'm trying hard to get the house in order so that we can enjoy our time outside when the nicer weather arrives.  
So, officially I'm still on a blog break, but the truth is I miss you all and even though I'm cleaning and organizing my mind keeps wandering to what is new with all of you.  
In fact, I'll admit I have poked around in blogland a bit while on this so called break and as it turns out that has been a very good thing.  I happened to read this post  right about the time I decided to get serious about whipping my house into shape.  She is offering a challenge each day for the month of March and after looking it over it seemed very "doable" to me so I am on board and busy completing my daily assignments working toward an organized home by the end of the month.

What started the ball rolling was my pantry.
Since the holidays it had become so packed and messy.  It was driving me crazy every time I stepped in there.

This was taken after one shelf had been emptied and the clean up was getting started.  You can see how the floor space was being swallowed up by who knows what.  Yikes!!

My method is to empty one shelf at a time and give the shelf a wash with some nice soapy water.  Before replacing the food I check it for expiration dates and keep out the things that need to be used.  As I clean I brainstorm ideas for using up these items.  In one instance I had a small amount of angel hair pasta and a package of smoked salmon that we received in a gift basket.  I had no idea what to do with smoked salmon until I read a recipe on the back of the pasta and there was one containing both of these ingredientsThe dinner dilemma was solved although I'm not sure I'm a big fan of smoked salmon.  Whew, talk about a fishy smell.

 Once all the shelves were done I took everything off of the floor, vacuumed the nooks and crannies with the crevice tool and washed the floor.  

 Everything back in place.
As the chief cook and bottle washer I guess it just makes sense that a clean and organized pantry makes things run smoother.

When I was looking for inspiration to get started on this pantry overhaul, I found it here and in an effort to keep things from getting out of hand, this simple idea is one I plan to put into practice.
Good thing I was doing a bit of cheating on my blog break or I never would have gained all of this inspiration which, in the end, is helping me plug along on my spring organizing project.

I'd be lying if I said that it's been all work around here.
There's been some fun too which I'll be sharing just as soon as I get a handle on a few more jobs around here.

Miss You,