Sunday, January 18, 2015

January Afternoon

 Stepping onto the patio this afternoon was all it took to get my green thumbs itching.  Itching to pull a few weeds, trim a few spent perennials and pick up stray limbs and leaves, that is.  I realize this may not sound enticing to everyone, but I think the gardeners among us can probably relate.  It just feels so good to be out in the fresh air becoming one with nature once again.

The one nice thing about gardening at this time of year is the work load is fairly light.  Which, in turn, leaves more time for sitting on the patio and enjoying the warm sunshine and soothing waterfall sounds.
While I was sitting there I thought that maybe some of you might like to enjoy it along with me so I made an attempt at movie making.   

 After awhile I decided to fill the birdbath and feeders.
Then it was time to sit down and wait for the dinner guests to arrive.

 It wasn't long until the first one showed up.
A wee little chickadee who seems to be asking the hummingbird if it's okay to begin eating.
Looks like the answer was "yes".

 Birdwatching was followed by a walk around the block.
Jaxson wasn't ready to call it a day until he and grandpa could check on the goldfish.
Once it was decided that everybody was present and accounted for, it was time to head in for dinner.
Simple pleasures on this January afternoon.
Now tell me about your afternoon.  I hope it was a good one and you, too, enjoyed simple pleasures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Hint of Summertime on This Winter Evening

When the weather outside is frightful, I find a steaming bowl of soup to be quite delightful.
This afternoon I gathered an assortment of vegetables from the fridge and went to work chopping them up.  That shriveled zucchini that's been lingering since Christmas was still fit for the soup pot.
On this damp and chilly day I was thankful for the basil and garlic chives I had dried late last summer.  Before adding them to the pot I rubbed them between my fingers and was reminded of the fragrance of the summertime herb garden.  A very pleasant thought I might add.

As the vegetable soup simmered, my crusty no-knead bread was baking away in the oven.  I've made this bread before and am always amazed at how easy and delicious it is.  I was inspired to make it again after watching this.  If you've never made it, I can assure you it really is just as simple as it looks and if you like crusty bread, you'll love this.

While the bread was baking
and the soup was simmering,
the wheels were turning :).

Hey, I just remembered something else I tucked away last summer.
Into the freezer I go to fetch that little bag of green ice cubes.
Once melted... fresh basil pesto.  So nice to spread on that fresh from the oven bread on this wintery evening. 

I had never frozen pesto before as I had read once that it would turn dark and be unappetizing.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the bright green color once the ice cube melted. 

Note to self:  freeze and dry more summertime herbs as they are such a welcome addition to wintertime meals.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Into The New Year We Go

 In my travels through blogland recently I have come to the following conclusions:
  • It is downright cold just about everywhere.
  • Many of us are enjoying the act of putting the house back together after the holidays.
  • De-cluttering as we restore order seems to be a popular theme.
 I can relate to all of these things.
I've been enjoying the beautiful photos you all are sharing of your winter snowfalls.  Despite frigid temperatures here, the best I can offer is a covering of ice on the goldfish pond this morning.
I haven't spotted the goldfish ice skating today, but I'm hoping they are doing whatever it is they do to survive these wintery days.

 Inside, where it is warm, the Christmas decor is now tucked away and I, too, am enjoying the fresh start that this new year brings.

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is behind us I like to fill my mug with something warm and spend a few leisurely hours on my version of "old school Pinterest".  Yep, it's true in this age of pinning I am still cutting and pasting my dreams and ideas into a little scrapbook of Christmas ideas.  

As much as I enjoy the holidays, I am happy to have some semblance of order returned to the house.
One day I filled the sink with warm, sudsy water and washed all of the counters and knick knacks in the kitchen.  With each swipe of the dishrag I felt the holiday excesses being whisked away.

It felt so good to wash away that greasy grime that tends to sneak onto the kitchen surfaces around the stove.  It also felt good to have the time to give my wooden spoons and cutting boards a fresh coat of mineral oil.  
I'm looking forward to a fresh start in my cooking.
Now that all of those Christmas goodies are gone, I'm moving forward with healthy soups, homemade breads & roasted veggies.  

Sometimes things look a bit bare after the Christmas decor is put away.
While it seems too early for the spring decor, my personal opinion is when in doubt, put a bird on it.  Ha Ha!!  Now if you weren't a bird lover that may seem strange, but around here that's the way we roll.  As a side note, once, after opening the birthday card I had given him, my dad said "you can always tell when a card is from Kim because it has a bird on it."  Ha!  
Anyhow, this sweet dish towel was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law's friend.  She had gotten it at an estate sale and thought I would like it.  She's been to my house one time... I guess that's all it takes to know that a bird lover lives here :).

 On that note, I think I'll fly on out of here.
But first let me officially wish you all a Happy, Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Things are still pretty laid back around here.
We did enjoy a most wonderful Christmas and hope that you did too.
It's always a bit of a relief to know that all those things that seemed so vitally important to finish by December 25th are now but a memory.  Tiny details may have been left undone, but in the end... who really cares.  Time moves on and now we are onto new pursuits.  Around here that means watching and waiting patiently for our feathered friends.

Always an exciting moment when our patience pays off.

~ Wishing you time for simple pleasures and quiet pursuits as we prepare to say goodbye to 2014 ~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Not a Creature Was Stirring

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .

 or a grandpa & his grandson :), :)

Story time by the Christmas tree ~

 The Christmas season at my happy home has unfolded in a somewhat laid back manner.  Decorating, while still plentiful, was scaled back to the most meaningful pieces.  Many treasures remained in the attic and others were donated to local thrift shops.  
I guess what it boils down to is at this stage of life I'm working towards re-thinking many of the holiday traditions with the goal of making them work for our present circumstances.  Sometimes it's easy to keep doing things the way they've been done for years and years because, after all, it's tradition.  Sometimes, however, those traditions can cause exhaustion and/or undue stress which is something we really don't want to be part of the plan if it can be prevented.
 So, this year, I did my best to search for what really matters and put my energy there.

At times I felt a bit guilty about trimming back the traditions.
Particularly when it came to the cookie baking tradition.
What was once an all day event morphed into a few hours baking cranberry orange bread and a double batch of one type of cookie.
The look on my son's face when I told him there would be no candy cane cookies this year made me feel the old guilty feelings.
I went back and forth with myself thinking there's been candy cane cookies every year, there has to be candy cane cookies... it's tradition.  On the other hand, candy cane cookies are time consuming and when the free time presented itself, I didn't feel like making them so I let go of the guilt trip and skipped making them this year.  Next year could be different.  Years ago if I had read this I would have thought "what kind of selfish mother wouldn't make her son's favorite cookies at Christmas?"  Years ago I was younger and had more energy.  Ho Ho!!

  Anyhow, I suppose I'm sharing this here because I feel the need to explain my absence in the last few weeks.  I guess I unintentionally scaled back on my computer time too.  Funny how at one time December was my favorite time to share things on my blog.  I love Christmastime and all that goes with it.  For whatever reason I was happy to scale things back this year and found that if I spent too much time in blogland it became easy to second guess my laid back approach to Christmas and feel the need to do more and hurry up about it.  I guess I'm just trying to say that there is so much beautiful inspiration out there and I love it all.  This year it just seemed a bit overwhelming to me so I spent more time unplugged.
Once again next year could be a whole different story, but for this year I'm quite happy with this slower pace.
My hope is that each of you are enjoying the pace that is right for you and your loved ones.  
I'll most likely be carrying out this laid back intentional Christmas season until the new year so I'll take this opportunity to wish you a very meaningful and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Whew and Oops!!

"Whew" is what I say after decorating the tree in the dining room and. . .

the tree in the family room.  It's so nice to be all done with that job.  Time now to put my feet up and enjoy the magic of the lights.
Thinking it might be fun to try capturing the blue hour as a backdrop to my blue/white Christmas tree,   I kept backing up trying to get in as much of the 9' tree as possible.
That's where the "oops" came in.

Seems I backed right onto the vacuum hose.
A little candid shot as I tried to steady myself, which was a bit like being on a teeter totter.  Didn't realize my finger pressed the camera button while all the action was happening.  I got quite a kick out of this shot as I was reviewing my photos.
I'm happy to report that I was able to get off the hose before I heard a thud or a boom or a crash.
Ah, the hazards of Christmas decorating!
You haven't had any of those, have you?
All I can say is I'm glad I was the only one home for this event.
The men in my family would have had trouble keeping a straight face over this one.
For now, I'm off to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Right after I get that pesky vacuum put away.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

 It seems like after all of these years of blogging, I'd find it quite simple to change up the header and background for the seasons.
However, that is so not the case.
I find it a test of my patience each time I make the attempt.
What worked last time doesn't seem to work the next time.
Gigantic headers, off center headers, chopped off headers.
♫ Fa La La La La ♫

I think I need a course in Easy, Effortless Blog Design 101.
I've been plucking away at it now for close to an hour...
even consulted my blog bible... the place where I jot down tips and tricks I see along the way.
My efforts have yielded a re-run of last years efforts and this time part of the header is chopped off.  Egads!!
I consulted that link I have bookmarked... the one telling me how to center my header.  It worked like a charm last time.  Not so much this time.
Ho Ho Ho
When I finished creating this masterpiece and went to "view blog" I thought "what a big, busy looking mess I've made"
 It didn't help that my colorful Thanksgiving collage was residing right below the header.  Talk about too much going on at once.
In the interest of making things somewhat less busy, a sparkly white candle has replaced the collage.

Alright, now that I have gotten that off my chest...
onto more pleasant topics.
Isn't this a fun time to wander through blogland?
Inspiration to be found at every turn.
I am so enjoying the opportunity to tour decorated homes, pick up simple ideas for cooking, baking, wrapping, etc.
I also love reading about the different traditions people embrace during the holiday season.
Every year I am reminded of what a joy and pleasure it is to be able to do this.
There's been a lot of talk recently about how blogging has changed so much in the past few years.  I agree, but I also think there's a place for all of us and for that I am thankful.

Until next time (when I hope to be done with the Christmas decorating),