Thursday, January 20, 2022

It Snowed




That snow I was talking about in my last post came to fruition.
Sunday morning we woke up to a beautiful blanket of snowy white.
Looking out the back windows, it appeared that the wildlife were busy making tracks in the early morning hours.




Even the birdies were leaving their tracks in the snow.
So cute!





As the day progressed the snow gave way to sleet.
Clearly we were not leaving the house so I did something that I haven't done in many years.  Stayed in my pj's all day and read.  I've been working my way through Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles mystery series.  If you've not read this series, each book finds ex-lawyer turned herb shop owner, China Bayles, solving a mystery while also tossing in a lot of facts and sometimes recipes about various herbs.


Having just finished Rosemary Remembered, I came across this sweet potato recipe that I had torn from a Cooking Light magazine.
It is basically mashed sweet potatoes with salt, pepper and minced fresh rosemary added.  The topping was an interesting mix of finely sliced shallots caramelized with a bit of brown sugar.  It added a nice pop of flavor to them and the shallots got slightly crispy which was an added bonus.
I tend to tear recipes out of magazines with good intentions for trying them.  Once I try them they either get tossed or earn a place of honor in my recipe binder.  This one is now in the binder along with a few other sweet potato recipes.
We eat sweet potatoes often and it's nice to have a few different methods to prepare them.


Now, on Thursday, there is still some snow lingering and rain is falling.  The weatherman is tossing around the snow word again.  If we get it, I don't think it will amount to anything.
In the garden my chives are partially buried in snow.  No doubt wondering what the heck is going on.  Tonight I've got potato soup on the menu.  Not sure if it's worth stomping through the soggy snow to clip a few to garnish the soup.














Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Garden Notes ~ January 2022


New Year's Day brought temperatures in the upper 70s.  Unseasonably warm even for these parts.  
After pruning the crape myrtle tree and pulling my fair share of weeds, I took a little walk around the garden to see how my plants were faring.  Some things go unnoticed when only glancing at them through the windows.
I was a bit surprised to see new buds forming on some of the Encore Azaleas.  I've never seen them trying to bloom at this time of year.




While bending to pull a weed under the loropetalum shrub, I was pleasantly surprised to see the bright pink blossoms greeting me.


Another surprise was finding some of the daffodils sending their shoots up already.  Most were still slumbering away underground, but here and there a few had decided to peek out early.  No doubt the warm temps have them a bit confused.


One of my favorite outdoor tools is our battery powered leaf blower.  It works great to blast the leaves and other debris that tend to accumulate on the patios and front porch.  It gets the job done a lot quicker than the broom.  I found it amusing to see little pansy plants popping up in the beds along the edges of the patio.  It looks like some of my clean up efforts must have blown seeds away along with the other debris.


I may not have placed them in their current new homes, but I've got to admire their tenacity.  Here they have even established themselves among the rocks in the fountain garden.

   
Showing their cheery little faces on this sunny January day.
Since New Year's Day our temperatures have gotten much colder.  In fact, a glimpse at the weekend forecast is showing a 100% chance of snow on Sunday.  I'm not sure what that will mean for the early garden bloomers.


Inside there is a great sense of excitement!
Snow is such a rare occurrence here.
Sitting in front of a crackling fire while watching the snowflakes fall sounds like a perfect way to spend a January day.

❄⛄❄





Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Fresh Starts



There is something so appealing about a brand new calendar.
All of those little squares waiting to be filled in with the events that shape our days.  Oh, the possibilities.
May this be the year that our calendars fill up with joyful moments once again.


Some of you may have been quick enough to read my now you see it, now you don't post.  On that topic I can only say it felt like a good idea at the time.  Not so much the next morning.  So, it was reverted to draft form.  I can only say that sometimes life is just plain sad and even though I strive to keep this blog a happy place, that's not always realistic.
So, our Christmas wasn't anything like I had hoped and imagined.
We put a plan B in place and made a different Christmas memory.
Thankfully our weather was unseasonably warm and sunny.  Perfect for exploring a local hiking trail. Getting away from the house and walking in nature was just what was needed.




This year I welcomed the opportunity to put the Christmas decor away.  Nothing like keeping busy to keep your mind off of other things.
Once the decor was dealt with, I made a cup of tea and perused all of my Christmas cookbooks.  I parted with many of them when we moved and discovered many more that could go now.  It felt good to purge them.
I did like this idea for decorating a small rosemary tree so, I kept this one.  I bought one of these rosemary trees this season, but never thought to decorate it this way.  A simple idea with pretty results.  Hope I can keep it growing until next year.



With another Christmas season done and dusted, I look forward to the opportunity a new year holds.
A time for fresh starts.


***

To those who contacted me behind the scenes, thank you.
To anybody else, forgive me for being vague.
Sometimes the stories aren't ours to tell.  When they involve a loved one who is struggling, it's a process we work through.
I thank you for your understanding and wish you all happiness and good health in the new year.

Onward.
: )






Thursday, December 9, 2021

Cheerful Christmas Decorating


The amaryllis that was just planted in my last post has come and gone.  It was in bloom on Thanksgiving and sure was pretty while it lasted.

The cactus that was loaded with buds has also done it's thing for the year.  I now know it is a Thanksgiving cactus.  It, too, added beauty to the house as we celebrated Thanksgiving.
Now they shall both be treated as houseplants until spring when I will move them outside.



I hope you are all doing well and enjoying these days leading up to Christmas.  Are you busy decking the halls or have you already finished?
Mine has become scaled down to a very manageable process.  I must say I am really enjoying it now.  Everything has been decorated for a week.  I do have fun tweaking things here and there.  
The little oil painting above was a recent thrift store find.  It was in a very dated frame and was tossed into a bin with a very low price tag.  I'm sure it had been cast aside in favor of modern pictures found at places like Hobby Lobby.  
The little boy pulling his fresh cut Christmas tree up the lane to the farmhouse transported me to days gone by.  The rolling hills covered in snow provided such a peaceful setting.  When I turned the painting over there was an address label the artist had placed there many years ago.  I don't know why her beautiful work wound up in the thrift store bin, but I wasn't about to let it remain there.



I did set it free from the dated frame and then added it to my hutch.
It's small size makes it an ideal piece to use in little vignettes around the house.



Another thrift shop visit yielded this DECEMBER frame.
Actually it was in a box with 11 more frames.  One for every month of the year and boy are they ever pretty.  
I spent some time last night going through my photo albums in search of a suitable picture for December.  It seems I stopped having pictures printed in 2010.  It sure was a trip down memory lane to look through all of those albums.  I then looked through the albums on my phone and still couldn't find a photo of all of my (small) family together at Christmas.  So, I settled for one of my son and his girlfriend with a snowman they built on one of the only Christmases that we had snow.
At the top of my to do list this year:
Get one nice photo of the whole family together for Christmas.

My Christmas decorating doesn't change much from year to year.
I kind of use the same elements in slightly different configurations.
This year I was craving the comforts of Christmas past in my kitchen.  Grouping select pieces of my vintage treasures with a bottle brush tree seemed to work on the countertops.


Christmas Cheer next to the stove.


Another little corner and a place to enjoy my favorite ornaments up close.


The view from the kitchen sink.


Couldn't resist these cheerful tea towels.


And it wouldn't be Christmas without the sweet little toy stove.
On a recent phone call with my eight year old grandson, he told me that the two things he wanted to do when he comes for Christmas are:
1:  Make blueberry pancakes with grandpa.
2:  Decorate cookies with lots and lots of sprinkles.

I can see I need to add something else to my to do list:

Purchase lots and lots of sprinkles :)




Monday, November 15, 2021

A Weekend Walk


Oldest son came over to watch college football with us on Saturday.
He brought along shrimp cocktail and a seven layer dip with chips which served as lunch.
Once the football game was over and the food was devoured, it seemed like there was only one thing to do.



Get out there on that beautiful fall day and take a walk.
Hopefully burn off some of those calories while getting some fresh air and exercise.


We decided to explore one of the trails in the neighborhood.
It provided a good workout with several inclines.  
I wanted to soak up every bit of the vibrant fall foliage before it all disappears until next year.



Near the end of our hike we came to this outdoor fireplace.


It was hard to pass up the opportunity to sit a spell.


Brett made himself comfortable in the nearby chairs.
I tried them out too and, in truth, could have sat there for quite awhile enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.


But, since it was exercise we were after, it was time to hop back on the trail toward home.


The little beaver that someone had set on the fireplace mantle added a touch of whimsy.

How was your weekend?



                                                                      

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Apples and Amaryllis in Autumn


Always a delight when the colors of autumn arrive in our backyard wetlands.
One afternoon this week I glanced out the window and noticed golden leaves softly falling as the sunlight filtered through.  I just stood there and watched for awhile.  It was so pretty and peaceful.  A bit like being in an autumn snow globe where the snowflakes had been replaced with beautiful leaves.
Our week has been such a nice one with temperatures warm enough to allow for open windows during the day.



It was also ideal weather for being in the garden.
Deep purple pansies and a tulip mix called "Spring Delight" gives me hope for a beautiful courtyard display next spring.



A pot of violas to cheer up the back patio.
Love those sweet little faces.



Now that we are into November and our mild days are numbered, my thoughts turn to indoor gardening.
The Meyer Lemon, Christmas Cactus and Norfolk Pine have all been re-located to the inside of the house.
I couldn't pass up the amaryllis display at the local garden center.
This one came home with me.


It had a plump bud on it when I removed it from the box.
Almost looks like it was waiting to fly out of there.
It will most likely bloom long before Christmas.


This weather has put me in the mood to bake.


So, when the neighbor ladies scheduled a girl's night, I volunteered to bring a dessert.  I wanted something that tasted and smelled like fall.  I found a recipe on line for apple squares.  The recipe made an 8 x 8 square.  I wondered if that would be big enough.  I know ladies can be dainty eaters when it comes to dessert, but I also wanted to have enough for everybody.  I considered just doubling the recipe.
Having never made it I would have been disappointed if this didn't work out.  Overthink much?  Welcome to my world :).

  

Around this time I happened to be visiting a blog.  Someone who I know is an excellent cook and baker.  While there I poked around in her recipes and came upon this.  The ingredients were almost identical to the original apple square recipe, although there were a lot more apples (yay) and best of all . . . 9x13 pan.  Perfect.  Plenty for the girls and extras to take home to the husbands.  Win Win!

Thank you to Lorrie for coming to the rescue.  Even though she doesn't know she did.  Just one of the many ways we connect in wonderful blog land.
I can tell you that the recipe was a huge hit!
I've already had one request for the recipe.



This afternoon the clouds have moved in and rain is on the way.
I've been turning my amaryllis regularly to encourage a straight stem.
It appears to be working.  
I think it has doubled it's height in a week.
I'm kind of glad I don't have to wait until Christmas to see that bud turn into a blossom.
I'm thinking I may need to visit the garden center again for another one or maybe two.  This is the easiest gardening ever and the reward is amazing.



                                                                  

Monday, November 1, 2021

Tiny Words of Thanks



Have you ever gotten excited over a new floor mop?
It would seem as though this is an issue I have been pondering for years.
My most recent issue has been to find a mop for the laminate floors in the laundry room/office.  Apparently the thing you don't want to use on this type of flooring is a mop that leaves too much water behind.  I've tried a few choices since moving here and none have been too great. Either they did leave the floor too wet and/or were hard on the old back.
The other day I moved it up on my priority list and got serious about finding thee one.
Sometimes I avoid doing this as it can be time consuming and a bit overwhelming.  Easier to just plug along with the less than ideal situation.  Anyhow, after checking out the options, I decided on Bob Vila's top choice.  I figured he ought to know what he's talking about and it did receive rave reviews.

While this post is really not a mop review, I must say I LOVE everything about this system.  Perhaps most of all I like the simplicity of the instructions and the simplicity of operation.
You know a product is a success when you look forward to washing your floors.



You may be wondering what this post is about if not to promote a microfiber mop.  
I guess it is more about those small unexpected words of thanks.




When I selected the mop I had no idea I was supporting a small family business.  
The handwritten thank you note included in the box let me know.
Some might think it was just in there to garner favorable reviews.
I'm not one of those people.  In this case I will be happy to leave a highly favorable review.  After all those reviews helped me make an informed decision before purchasing.
As I've begun my Christmas shopping I am making a concentrated effort to support small businesses.  
My husband has been a small business owner for over 30 years and we surely appreciate our loyal customers.
He is in the business of selling and servicing a very specialized type of machinery.  Most of his customers are machine or tool & die shops.  Kind of a man's world to my way of thinking. I guess if I had my own small business it would be selling something different than machines.  Maybe home decor, flowers or books ;).  Anyhow, machinery is our business life as I have worked alongside him in one capacity or another all of those years.



When this tiny note fell out of the envelope with a customer's payment, Brett read it out loud and then dropped it in the trash.  I promptly removed it from the trash and tucked it into my desk drawer.  Something about a man in his machine shop taking the time to pencil out this note makes me smile.  That was many months ago and I still find it smile worthy every time I open the desk drawer.

Have you received any unexpected notes of thanks recently?

Let me take a moment to say a big
Thank You
to all who stop by and visit here.