Friday, January 30, 2009

Step Away From the Housework

After a few gray, foggy or rainy days our Carolina blue skies returned yesterday. I had plans to stay home and tackle a lot of cleaning and organizing.

First on the agenda was vacuuming the entire house. In order to properly evict the dust bunnies under the table, I put the chairs up. I remember doing this at the end of the day in elementary school so that the custodian could come around with his machine to clean the floors. Anybody else remember doing that?
Well, sunny days are great for getting me motivated and energized to tackle housecleaning, but the only drawback is that they also put the spotlight on every dust bunny, smudge, spill, etc.

After vacuuming all of the hardwood floors and dusting the baseboards, I got to thinking as long as the chairs were up I might as well wash the floors too. Most of the first floor of my house is hardwood so it is a pretty big job. When I looked at the clock I figured I had enough time to get them done before lunch. Also I would work up an appetite and burn some calories too. Oh boy ~ how exciting ~ a win-win situation all around!!

Actually the job does go pretty fast with this.

And the floors really do shine when I finished. Makes me feel like dancing.

After my well-deserved lunch :-) I decided to celebrate the beautiful weather and take Peanut for a walk. I scored some major doggy points with that decision.

After our walk I planned to tackle the next job on my list - bathroom cleaning. About that time my son called to tell me he was in the area and did I want anything to drink from Sonic. He read me the list of specialty coffee drinks. Oh, yum the hazelnut latte was calling my name. I know this was a tough decision - clean bathrooms or sit and chat with my son while drinking a latte.

The smell of cookies permeated the air.

By the time my son left it was getting a bit late to start in on the bathrooms (sounds like a good excuse to me). So, I moved to the next job on my list - organizing mom's belongings. When my mom moved here in September a lot of her belongings ended up in my garage. Slowly I have been sorting through them. I emptied one box yesterday that contained a large stack of journals she had kept. Well, that put the brakes on my housecleaning!! I spent some time reading through a few of the entries. What a beautiful treasure she has left for her children. It was so wonderful to re-live her happier days. She and my dad had a happy life together filled with family, friends, tennis, golf, celebrations and travel. In the midst of her present situation it was so nice to be reminded of that.

She had written this in the front of her oldest journal. Apparently my brother gave it to her as a Christmas gift that year. She would have been 48 then. One thing my mom has told me more than once is that if she had it to do over again she would worry less about the housework and spend more time enjoying life. Hmm. . . maybe she has a point there.
Once again I give you my heartfelt thanks for your kind & supportive comments. It will never cease to amaze me what a wonderful community we share in the blog world. To think that people I have never met face to face would take the time to leave such caring comments is very touching to me and has helped make this journey with my mom so much easier.

So, gals . . . at least for a few moments, drop your dust cloths, brooms, vacuums or dish cloths and do something that will put a song in your heart and a smile on your pretty face. You deserve it!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pinecone Therapy

While out grocery shopping I added a little bouquet of flowers to the cart. At home, I put them in a canning jar & placed them on the counter right above the kitchen sink. How nice to have a cheery touch to look at as I wash my dishes & prepare meals.

~click to enlarge ~

It has become a bit harder to visit my mom in the last week or two. I think the Alzheimer's is progressing to a new level. I have been to visit a few times where she is totally out of it. The first few times I saw this I was concerned that maybe she had suffered another stroke. In talking to the nurses I have learned that she is becoming agitated more often and has even on occasion tried to walk out of the facility. They are very concerned that she may fall as her balance was greatly affected with the last stroke. In order to help calm her down when she is like this the nurses have to give her medication to calm her. Unfortunately when this happens she is sleeping a lot the next day. On a "good day" she will be awake but usually very confused. She is seeing things that aren't real, but to her they are. In other words, she is living in her own little world. It is so hard to see her this way. I still visit her every other day and will continue to do so even if she is asleep. I recently came across the poem in the photo above and feel it perfectly describes the point we have reached in this journey. I put it in a frame & placed it next to the flowers so that I can read it every day and remind myself that my visits matter even if sometimes they seem like they don't. She still remembers me & thanks me for visiting after we kiss and exchange "I love yous."

This afternoon I was working on a little project in the kitchen & got a waft of SPRING!! It smelled exactly like spring bulbs and flowers. On closer inspection, I discovered it was coming from my grocery store flowers. I didn't think they had a scent when I bought them ~ I just thought they were pretty. Wow, what a bonus. Also, it seems so appropriate as my mom always used to remind me to "take time to smell the flowers." Now every time I smell them I am reminded of the happier days we shared :-) Flower Power!!

Would you like to guess what my little project in the kitchen was?

Lesson #1 - unless you want blue sparkly fingers. . .

Wear a pair of these :-)

After a bit of spray painting, spray gluing & glittering you will wind up with some of these.

A new winter centerpiece.

I know it doesn't look too wintry out my window, but it's supposed to get colder again. Won't you join me for a cup of tea or coffee?

The sun is shining and the pine cones are a sparklin'.
Thanks for visiting with me today. Have an enjoyable weekend & remember to take some time to smell the flowers ~ even if they come from the grocery store.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Staying Warm on a Cold Day

Good Morning blog friends!!
Are you all managing to stay warm? It seems like much of the country is in the deep freeze right now. Even down here in the south we are experiencing some record breaking cold temps. Yesterday was just such a day. In the morning I had to run several errands. By the time I got home I was quite content to put on another sweater and stay indoors.

Last week when my husband was out of town he came home with one of my favorite food items from my home state.

Recently I came across a recipe in a "healthy" magazine for Cherry Granola. I love granola, but I find the ones from the grocery store to be too sweet for my tastes. So, let's give it a try.
Cherry Granola
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups dried cherries (or 1 cup cherries & 1 cup cranberries)
In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, honey & oil. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture & mix well.
Transfer to a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Stir in dried fruits. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 7-1/2 cups

Once you put it in the oven you won't want to stray too far from the kitchen as it is important to stir it every 10 minutes so it won't burn. I think this would be a perfect time to try that hot chocolate recipe I mentioned in my last post.

Oh my. . . rich & creamy. Now, what else should we do as we indulge in this sweet treat? Well, we could watch the birds who have been flocking to the feeders all day. I filled them this morning and it's going fast. I have been seeing a lot of red birds - cardinals, house finches, woodpeckers. Let's see if we can find any of them. We can make a theme for today. Red cherry granola ~ red birds. Maybe we can get in the spirit for Valentine's Day a little early :-)

I spy a female cardinal on top of the shepherd hook and a red house finch on the feeder looking in at us.

Let's step outside to snag a picture of this male cardinal. On second thought, let's not. Too cold!!

Okay, that's better. A male cardinal posing for his picture. We can continue sipping our hot chocolate and snap his picture from the warmth of the kitchen table.

What a sweet birdie ~ he even invited his friend to be part of the photo shoot. One for you and one for me. Ding!! There goes the timer. Time to quit birdwatching and tend to the granola.

Stay warm & healthy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Boring Post to Clear the Air

Brrrr . . . it's cold outside.

There's no snow, but it sure feels wintery outside. Seems like the perfect weather for some of this. I haven't tried it yet, but tomorrow I plan to stop at the grocery store for some Nutella.

Now, onto another subject. This one is a little touchy for me and I hope it will be taken the way it is intended, but after a lot of thought I have decided to make my blog "tag", "award" and "meme" free. Recently I saw this and liked the idea. Now please don't think for a minute that I haven't appreciated the awards that have been given to me. I am flattered. It's just that I do find it very time consuming to do them correctly. I also find it hard to pick and choose certain blogs to forward them to. I have considered just not responding to them, but that doesn't seem nice after fellow bloggers were kind enough to forward them to me. So, this is my way of clearing the air on the subject.

Just hoping you'll understand . . .

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

While The Cat's Away . . .

This mouse will play :-)
In this instance the cat would be my husband.
He is gone for the week on a business trip. I enjoy when he goes on these occasional trips because it is a nice break from the normal day to day schedule.
Of course I still have commitments, work, etc. But when I don't have to do any of those things I can do what I want ~ when I want. I don't have to stop and think "what's for dinner?"

I can spend all the time I want to rearranging stuff in my cupboards. Nobody will be asking me tonight what I did all day.

Today I cleaned a few bathrooms and did some laundry. Not much different from other days except if I felt like stopping to read a few chapters, I did.

Last night I took a huge armload of books to bed with me. Mostly they were cookbooks and decorating books. They were sprawled out all over my husband's side of the bed. I was up well past midnight and didn't have to worry about my husband wanting to go to sleep before I was done having my book party :-)

I spent a little time one day making this little shadowbox with some of my vintagey kitchen stuff. I did it right around the time I would normally be making dinner. So relaxing.

I wish I could tell you that I made this apron, but that would not be true. I did hang it up in the kitchen in the middle of playtime though.

One day I decided the living room could use a little attention after the holidays.

Played around in there for a while.

I have been talking about painting this room for a long time now. I even brought home several paint samples and painted a few poster boards. I'm planning on a shade of green, but so far haven't been thrilled with the selections. I considered going back to the paint store to try some others, but decided I wasn't up for that today. Instead I made a loaf of banana bread.

Then it was time to play with the mantle a bit. I ran out of black plate holders and had to use one gold one. Considered going to Michael's for some more black ones, but it was very windy here all day so I made a cup of tea instead.

It's still too early to do much in the garden so I have been giving my houseplants more attention. This lipstick plant is just starting to come into bloom.

One day I tended to these pots on my patio. Last fall I planted some Swiss Chard and pansies together. Anybody out there eat Swiss Chard? I hear it's very nutritious but I have never tasted it.

Now, don't get me wrong I do love my husband and am glad he doesn't have to travel too often. But every so often it is a nice break from the routine. Kind of like a mini vacation. Hmm . . . I wonder what I should do tonight?? Chick Flick Marathon?? A glass of wine and a bubble bath???

I guess I will have a few slices of banana bread and a cup of coffee while I ponder that big decision. Only a few more days until it's back to reality around here.