Tuesday, November 24, 2015

China Talk

 Right about now I imagine there are many of us playing around with china.  Most likely getting it ready to grace the Thanksgiving table.

Perhaps it only comes out for the holidays or maybe it is a part of the weekly Sunday dinner ritual.

In many cases it may have been passed down through the generations serving up a heaping helping of treasured memories along with the turkey and mashed potatoes.

My own china playing hasn't been to prepare for Thanksgiving as I am not hosting the holiday this year.  
Instead it is the result of helping my in-laws downsize in preparation for their upcoming move into assisted living. 
My mother-in-law offered it to me and although I have the china I received as a wedding gift, it was hard to turn down such a beautiful set of dishes.  Not to mention it looks like it was made to match my dining room.  So, I've been re-arranging every cupboard in my kitchen to make room for them.  
As I was unpacking each piece I felt thankful for receiving this generous gift, but also a bit sad.  Remembering back to the day my mother-in-law purchased this set of china to coordinate with the home they had just built.  Although that was probably over 20 years ago now she maybe used the china once or twice.  You see she is the type of person who was afraid that it would get broken if it were used so for all of this time it has been tucked into the china cabinet, each piece individually wrapped in the plastic bags they originally came in.  I realize we are all different and it's really none of my business what anybody else does with their china, but to me by now if the china could talk it should have lots of stories to tell.  Happy memory making, heartwarming, family times together, celebratory, holiday merrymaking stories.  Oh the potential for that set of china.  How sad that it was saved for a special occasion... that never came.  
Time passes too quickly to wait for just the right moment.
So my (unsolicited) advice to you as we prepare to celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday in America.  Don't save the "good" stuff for that special day.  Use it now and enjoy the here and the now.  Make memories with those you care about and treasure the moments.
If your china could talk what story do you think it would have to tell?

~ Warm Wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving ~



Thursday, November 12, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes

 It's only a matter of time until the trees will be completely bare.  All of that brilliant foliage giving way to the duller browns and grays that spell November to me.
All the more reason to enjoy every last drop of these pretty leaves while we're still able.  Therefore, after several days of rain and drear I woke up to this scene out my front window and hopped onto the porch in my pj's to capture the moment.  Just in case the sun decided to pull a disappearing act.

Thankfully that was not the case and we enjoyed a bright and beautiful fall day.
Walking into the kitchen I was nearly giddy to see the sun sparkling away on the hand soap.  I was reminded how true that saying about what a difference a day makes really is.
The previous day the dreariness and non-stop rain was taking a toll.
Normally the weather conditions don't affect my mood too much.  Not so on this particular day.  By the end of my work day I dragged myself to the couch to lie down and see if the weatherman was going to bring the sun back to us anytime soon.  The next thing I knew the news was ending and I'd missed the entire weather forecast.  Slept right through it.  As someone who is unable to nap during the day, I attributed it to the weather and proceeded to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner.  That was followed by letting Peanut out, washing up and getting ready for a super early bedtime with hopes of sunnier skies in the morning.

Amazing how much more energetic I felt in the morning just from seeing the sun shining through my window.
By 9:00 that morning I felt like I'd accomplished more than I had the entire previous day.  Thank goodness for that :D.  I'm not sure I could handle cereal for dinner two nights in a row.

Anyhow,  my little burst of energy included playing around with a few Thanksgiving decorations.  Since we won't be hosting the holiday I wasn't sure I would even bother with decorating.  By way of compromise it was decided that the Gurley candle contingent would join me in the kitchen.  Their old-fashioned qualities take me right back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood.  Good memories there surrounded by the love of family and the smells of turkey roasting in the oven.  Back then the decorating was a simple affair, but it usually seemed to include a Gurley candle or two.

I guess that's why I have such a fondness for these sweet little candles.
The ones above were included in a recent bag from the thrift shop.
They are quite a motley crew, aren't they?
I was excited to find him as I have been on the lookout for a taller pilgrim couple.  He's leaning a bit and didn't come with a mate.  Perhaps she left him because of his condition... whatever it might be.
The two tiny pilgrim ladies are in desperate need of a bath and one seems to be losing her eyesight eyes.I  did  try to clean her up a bit with no luck so I'm leaving her be.
They collectively remind me a bit of how much has changed since the days they first decorated our Thanksgiving gatherings.  We've all changed through the years.  That's just the way life goes, but while we're still here we will remember to enjoy one another and be thankful for being together to celebrate.  

 Now that the sun has been shining for two days straight, I was happy to be able to venture into the soggy garden to discover the camellias coming into bloom.  This particular blossom wowed me with it's beauty and prompted me to clip it for indoor enjoyment.  Just in case the rain re-appears anytime soon, I'll be ready.

And so will my little photo bomber.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

An October Moment

Today was a day for being inside and outside.
Mostly outside trying to put the summer garden to bed and planting new things for fall color.  Around here that translates to plenty of pansies, mums and some cool weather crops in my petite veggie garden.  
When choosing pansies I look for ones that complement the fall landscape and will also look fitting once spring rolls around.  I'm thinking this "Matrix Morpheus" variety will look just as nice with Tulips and Easter eggs as it does with the brilliant fall colors currently coming into view.

Speaking of fall colors...
While zipping past the dining room window this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of color out of the corner of me eye.  It made me stop and take notice.  
October seems to offer a lot of moments like that and I look forward to enjoying every one of them.  How about you? 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pumpkins, Pirates, Pigskin, Pools, Painting and just plain Pooped

 In trying to sum up last week, it seemed one of the blog titles featuring a series of words might be the best way to go.  It was definitely a jam packed week.  
Disney World at this time of year offered all of the usual magic along with a happy assortment of Halloween decorations.
Pirates in parades.

 As well as trucks filled with candy corn.

 When not at the park, there was plenty of pool time.
Usually this was cause for happy smiles.

But, not always.
Sometimes pouting was the way to go.
Two year old boys don't always like the word "no".  Ha! 
 Yikes, if looks could kill.  :/

Some days were spent at the beach where it was a bit too cool for swimming.  Tossing the football and running along the water's edge were the way to go that day.

 Jaxson showed us his painting skills.

 He wasn't quite sure about the painted fingers and palms and elbows and tummy, however.

 On our last day together, the "big" boys needed to make an urgent trip to Walmart and wondered if I would mind staying behind with Jaxson so that he could nap.  Mind??  Not a bit.  I climbed in bed to lay with him until he fell asleep.  He started to protest and slowly "scooch" to the foot of the bed.  Just before he made it to the end, he was out like a light and didn't move for the next 2 hours.  
After sneaking a quick photo, I hopped back in and joined him quite enjoying the opportunity to slow the pace.

 Once nap time was over it was time to see what the boys were up to.
Serious snacking and. . .

 Even more serious football.
Yep, seriously!!
One tv on top of the other.  Apparently that's what has to happen when the Michigan game and the Tennessee game are on at the same time.

All too soon it was time for us to head home.
Jaxson was intent on showing us his driving skills too.
After explaining to him that we'd have to wait a few years to see that one, the boy who did so well all week, began to have a meltdown.  A major meltdown.  
Sounds like it might be nap time again.
Count me in. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Bit of Fall Nesting

 Even though Mr. Squirrel already has a stash of acorns, I think he is finding the bigger ones to be mighty tempting.  See his little paw going in for the grab.  
His little white-rimmed eyes remind me of someone else around here. . .

Dear Peanut.
She was quietly observing me as I worked at playing with my fall decor.  At 13, she is starting to show her age and it tugs at my heartstrings.  Such a loyal companion she has been to us.

I'm somewhat hesitant to do a post on my fall decor because there's not a whole lot going on and it doesn't change much from year to year.  However, since I enjoy the opportunity to visit all of the beautiful homes decorated for the season in blogland, I thought I'd hop onboard and join in the fun.
This year I decided to gather up a bunch of dried hydrangea heads and place them in a bowl.  I think their understated colors are a good match for my pastel sofa and I like the texture they provide.

The bookcases got a slight makeover.
Translated to mean I replaced the summery looking books and pottery with the same things in more autumnal shades.

My vignettes seem to always include vintage pottery, books, birds and candles.  Most of which have come from the thrift shops.

On the kitchen table...
more dried hydrangeas and more thrift shop treasures.
How's that for budget decorating? ;D
Do you see those tall things outside the window?

Here's a closer view.
This was something planted with our summer landscaping project.
It's called Zebra Grass.  All summer it grew as a pretty and interesting striped grass.  It has been a pleasant surprise to see all of these tassels pop out as fall approached.  Many of them are taller than I am.  They gently sway in the breeze and add a lovely sense of movement to the garden. 

When they begin to open they remind me of corn on the cob tassels.  Once fully opened my thought was more like fall fireworks.  Which reminds me it's time to celebrate fall and all of the joys this season has to offer.  It also reminds me that it's time to put away the pallet flag.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Peach Jammin'

 Every so often a day comes along that is so perfectly delightful I just want to bottle it up and preserve it for future enjoyment.
Today is one of those days. 
Nothing big or earth shattering going on, just a peaceful, ordinary day that began with a plan to make peach jam.
So, after exercising, showering and making the bed I began to set up for jam making.
Earlier this summer I was pleasantly surprised to receive this Sugared Peach candle from my sister.  It smells so good and seemed like a nice accompaniment to my peach jam session.
The other scent that I was enjoying was the fresh, crisp air blowing into the kitchen through my open windows.  Yes, really, open windows!!  This is hugely exciting to me as they have been sealed shut since May keeping the dreadful heat and humidity out.
Honestly feeling fresh air again is enough to make me giddy.
It's like the spring fever I remember experiencing every year when I lived in Michigan.  It makes me happy, energetic, invigorated and inspired.  

Every year since I've been blogging I marvel at so many of you who can and preserve the most beautiful bounty from your gardens or local farm stands.
Every year since I've been blogging I tell myself I've got to try my hand at some food preservation.  For whatever reason, it hasn't happened until today.  Today's the day :).
I got my "fit for the freezer" jars washed up and then let the fresh, fresh air go to work at drying them while I got ready to get the jam session underway.

 While waiting for the water to boil, I got a bowl of ice water ready.

 The blanching method for removing the peels works very well.
A quick dip in the boiling water...

followed by a quick plunge into the ice water

 those skins practically fell right off.
 In no time at all I had a pile of peaches...

 and a pile of pits.

 All chopped up and mingling with the sugar & lemon juice.
Soon it was time to add the pectin and fill up those jars.

 Before long those summer peaches were preserved and ready for the freezer.  
I may not be able to bottle up this lovely day, but I somehow think I might have preserved a little of it along with those peaches.