Monday, July 27, 2009

A Nice Cake for a Summer Celebration

When I saw this recipe for Red Velvet Cake with Raspberries & Blueberries in an old Bon Appetit magazine I tore it out and put it in the binder I fill with recipes I intend to try someday. I thought it would be a lovely cake for a summer celebration. Since my summer entertaining usually is more casual bbq fare, I haven't found an occasion to make it. However, when I decided to have a family dinner to celebrate my in-law's 60th wedding anniversary it seemed like the perfect cake to end the meal.

I began to think of what else I would need to set the tone for the occasion and knew there would have to be flowers. How nice of my Limelight Hydrangeas to be in bloom at this time. Last summer I read about these beautiful flowers on 2 different blogs and made a mental note to add them to my garden. I am so glad I did. They make nice bouquets and have a subtle, but sweet fragrance. I am now planning to add a few more of them to my yard.

Of course a dinner to celebrate a romantic event wouldn't be complete without candles.

A few more flowers can't hurt either.

I don't always get around to trying those recipes I save for someday, but I'm glad I did try this one as it was the perfect cake for this occasion and was also delicious.

I will be leaving early Wednesday morning to go visit my sister. I won't be posting for a while, but I look forward to catching up with all of you when I return. Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and prayers for Norma. I have copied them, cut them out and glued them to a pretty piece of scrapbook paper embellished with butterflies. I will take it to her and share it. I know how touched I was by the prayers and I know that she will be to. You gals are the BEST!!!
As we near the end of July and head into August I hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the summer season.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wearing the Crown of Life

Good Morning and may this be the start of a great week for you.

We have had a few days of relief from the humidity that is a normal part of summer in North Carolina. The early mornings have found me beginning my day here.

Just me, my coffee and my new book of devotions.
This past month as my mom continues her struggle with Alzheimer's and my sister is working so hard to recover from her stroke, I have found it difficult to sit by and watch them suffer. It is such a helpless feeling. Though I get up every day and carry on with my daily routines, it is impossible to not be thinking about them constantly. At times I have felt like there isn't any more room inside of me for sadness.

On a recent morning this was my devotion. It really spoke to me and I know that it is so true. We all do go through periods of pain, sadness and stress. It is easy in these times to just want life to be "normal" again. "Caving in" can seem so much easier than persevering. But, that doesn't change anything except to make you feel worse. I know that I want to wear the "crown of life". I want to welcome each day with a prayer for those who I know are hurting and suffering. I want to concentrate on positive ways that I might be able to help them through the rough times.

Yes there is sadness and suffering in life. But, there is also great beauty and happiness. If I choose to live in sadness I will miss the good things that each day has to offer. Getting up early this morning to savor my morning coffee as a gentle, cooling breeze blew and the birds sang was a simple yet beautiful moment in my day. Opening my blinds to a new day and seeing the crape myrtles in full bloom was another small but happy moment in my day.

A good visit with my mom today, observing one of the CNAs being so kind and compassionate to her were moments of beauty among the sadness.

Calling my sister tonight and finding her able to say more words than last week and also hearing that she is able to move her foot and hand a little bit was a fantastic and wonderful way to end my day. Though I know she still has a long road ahead of her in this recovery process, I am so elated and happy to know that she is showing progress.

Your kind comments and e-mails have been a real blessing to me. Every time I think of people that have never met me in person taking the time to think of me and say a prayer for my sister and my mom I get tears in my eyes. Tears of joy and tears that make me want to put on the crown of life and keep it on!!

This week I will be be getting ready for a dinner party to celebrate my in-laws 60th anniversary. The following week I am flying to Michigan to spend time with my sister. I am planning to print all of the inspiring comments you have made since I shared her story and take them with me. If you would like to offer any words of encouragement to her as she goes through her therapy I know she would be happy to read them. Her name is Norma.
Thank you for being you and sharing you with me :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Summer Day @ Home

Glory, Glory Hallelujah!!!

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you may remember when I talked about how much I wanted to grow Morning Glories here and here. Things weren't looking too good for awhile there. But, yesterday morning when I pulled out of the garage this beautiful speck of blue caught my eye and I threw that car into Park and ran in the house for my camera. The neighbors might have wondered about me, but I know "y'all" will understand.

Today I am home while some repair men are fixing things that need to be repaired. I'm catching up on some ironing while Peanut is keeping an eye on me to make sure I get all the wrinkles out.

I've enjoyed reading about your gardens and also getting to see how many of you are canning fruits and veggies from your gardens. It has been very inspiring. I haven't canned anything in a long time. I think I would like to try it again. I don't think my small garden will yield enough for that purpose, but I'm hoping to make some stuffed peppers out of these

I am trying hard to be patient while these tomatoes ripen up. They are called Cherokee Purple so I guess they won't be turning red. The man who I bought them from told me they are kind of ugly, but make up for it with their delicious taste. I hope he's right.

I made a salad for lunch and added a few of these yellow cherry tomatoes. It was so good. I just love this time of year when you can go out into the yard and pick a few things from the garden to grace the dining table. I think I could be very happy to have a big garden that would supply all of our produce needs. The taste of fresh picked veggies can't be beat. We've had a few cucumbers this week that were so crisp and best of all ~ no waxy skin.

On the subject of growing your own vegetables, I started reading this book last night. When it first came out a few years ago I thought it sounded like one I would be interested in. I recently found it at the thrift shop as you can tell by the price on the cover :-) If you haven't read it, it is about a family who moves from Arizona to Virginia to live on a farm and grow and raise all of the food they need to exist on. I only read a few chapters last night, but I am hooked. A good summer read.

And speaking of summer, I just went out to get the mail and found this in the mailbox:

Hunny is the little girl who lives next door to us. Her real name is Hunter, but they call her Hunny and spell it like Winnie the Pooh does. She is a little sweetheart who often visits us when we are out in the backyard.

How's that for a summer treat?
2 homemade ice cream cones!!

I'm not sure what kind of title this post will end up with as it has been a bit random.
I did want to mention that I have still been having problems with blogging. I have read that others have been having problems too and it seems to be with Internet Explorer or moving the followers down on the sidebar. I did move my followers down and am thinking about trying Firefox as I have read that others have had luck with that. One of the problems I have been encountering is every once in a while when I type up a comment I will go to click on the "Publish this Comment" button and it isn't there. So, if I haven't left you any comments and I normally do, that is why. Anybody else running into this? Any suggestions?
By way of an update on my sister, she is now beginning her second week of therapy. I called the hospital last Friday and my brother-in-law put the phone to her ear again. As I spoke to her I could hear soft moans coming from her end. It was music to my ears and I feel that it is a positive sign that it won't be long before she will begin to say words.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Day in America

*** It's a day for celebration in America ***

Time for parades, picnics & fireworks !!!

Also a good time to reflect on what a great country we live in.

And be thankful that we can call America our home.

Wishing you a Wonderful 4th of July!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heartfelt Thanks & An Update

Thank you for your prayers. I have been so touched by your comments and sincerely appreciate each and every one of them. I have been blogging for a year now and in this time it never ceases to amaze me what a caring community we belong to.

Since my last post, my sister had surgery. Her brain had begun to swell as a result of the stroke and it was necessary to remove a portion of her skull to allow more room for the swelling to occur. Once the swelling goes down, the doctors will re-attach it. Unfortunately she is still unable to speak or move the right side of her body. One day I called the hospital and my brother-in-law held the phone to her ear so that I could tell her we were praying for her and loved her. It was kind of strange not to hear her voice, but at the same time nice to be able to make some kind of contact. On a more positive note, she was able to begin her physical and speech therapy yesterday. She has received many, many flowers and cards and visitors. Her sister-in-law told me that even though she can't speak she feels like they can still have a 2 sided conversation.

When I called one of my cousins in Michigan to tell her about my sister she said she had just finished reading a book about a 37 year old lady who was a brain scientist and had a massive stroke. She recovered and wrote a book telling about her experiences.

Yesterday I checked it out of the library. I am hoping it will give me some insight into what my sister will be going through.

Before my sister got sick my husband and I had reservations at a Bed & Breakfast in Virginia. We were planning a little getaway to celebrate our 28th anniversary. I came real close to cancelling as my heart just wasn't in it. Somehow it didn't feel right to be vacationing while a family member was suffering. My husband reminded me that right now there wasn't a whole lot we could do and what we could do (pray, send cards, call the hospital, etc.) could be done from Virginia. We are planning to go to Michigan to be with my sister as soon as her family thinks the time is right. Her therapy is expected to take several weeks.

My husband's logic won out and we did go away for a short bit of R & R.

We spent four nights here. It is in Waynesboro, Virginia.

A 100 year old home that was originally owned by a doctor. We slept in his wife's former bedroom.

A very cozy room which was beautifully decorated

The perfect spot to rest and relax.

There was also a very welcoming front porch.

In the evenings we often sat here and read. It was in a charming neighborhood with a church right across the street and lots of friendly people walking by with their dogs stopping to chat for a few minutes.

During this time that my sister has been sick and unable to talk and my mom is able to talk, but not understand I often feel an empty spot. I guess because throughout my life if I had hard times to face I could always talk to my mom about them. Since mom has been sick and slowly slipping away I have been able to talk to my sister about the never ending things that are happening to my mom. Alzheimer's isn't easy to understand. I never know what to expect when I visit my mom. Yesterday she didn't seem to know who I was. Every time I asked her she said my sister's name. But the strangest thing that she was doing was saying many words that didn't make any sense and most of them began with the letter E. I am learning that the brain is an amazing part of our bodies and when it doesn't function properly very strange things can occur.

I think one of my favorite parts of our getaway was coming out of the bedroom in the morning and smelling coffee and delicious breakfast foods. As a kid I always loved waking up on a morning that my mom had made pancakes or coffee cake. It was wonderful to lay in bed and look forward to a yummy breakfast prepared with love. The breakfasts at this Bed & Breakfast were fabulous and presented so beautifully. The owner had lived in England and collected many beautiful dishes and antique pieces.

While it can seem almost impossible to carry on with day to day life when those closest to you are suffering, it is necessary for we really don't know what tomorrow will hold.