Monday, January 30, 2012

Sometimes ...

it really is the small things in life.
As much as I enjoy gardening, I rarely buy flowers for inside the house and I rarely force bulbs.
On a recent trip to the grocery store I added a hyacinth bulb in a vase of water to the cart.
Over the weekend it bloomed which has led me to wonder why I don't buy my own bulbs and do this every winter?
A small thing, but such a beautiful sight to winter weary eyes and the smell ... oh my, a breath of spring.

Another small thing ...
look what was sitting on top of my mail on Saturday!
An anonymous note ~ simple and sweet and sure to put a smile on the face of the recipient.
Today, I'm forwarding this note to each and every one of you.

Wishing you a happy start to your week!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Baking on a Saturday Afternoon

Since Saturday is baking day, I decided to spend a little time in the kitchen today.  Unlike the bluebirds I'm not baking a cake.  Instead I am baking cookies ... oatmeal cookies to be exact.

We like our oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate bits, dried cherries and toasted pecans.  Do you toast your pecans?  I do if I have the time as I think it really does intensify the flavor.

Now that our nest is empty, I no longer buy packaged cookies.
If we get a hankering for cookies, I make them.  This way we don't eat them as often if they're not sitting in the pantry all the time and to be honest I really don't think the taste of a store bought can compare to fresh from the oven homemade cookies.

That smell in the air as they bake  ...
Can't get that from the package ;-).

My husband is out running errands.
I'm trying to hold off tasting them until he gets home.
Geez, how long does it take to get the oil changed????

Happy Saturday to you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Happy, Hoppy Helper

After the Christmas decor was returned to the attic, it seems there was a kitchen counter that remained rather bare.  Something needed to be done, so ...

I wandered out into the meadow and gathered up some flowers.

A bunny in blue shoes followed me back into the house.
He got busy drawing a sunny picture as the gloomy days are getting to him.

While he was busy with his artwork, I went to the cupboard to fetch ...

My Carolina Gems and ...

a pair of birdie vases.
Mr. Blue Shoes was still working on his masterpiece so I headed outside with my clippers ...

to snip a few pieces of rosemary.  It's one of the few things that are blooming in the garden right now.  Once I got back inside I gave the birdies new hats ...

and nestled them in with the gems.

it wasn't long until the bare counter was done.
Well, almost done.
It seemed the other end needed something too.

There, now we're done.
So glad that bunny hopped in here today.
I never could have done it without him ; - ).


Monday, January 23, 2012

Prepare to be Inspired

Recently I was contacted by a young woman named Heather Von St. James.  As a new, first-time mother Heather was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer.  She invited me to read about her journey on her blog.  As I read what she has gone through I was so inspired by the brave and optimistic manner in which she faced her illness.   
Heather wondered if she might also share her story here on my blog.  As she so eloquently put it "I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other parents can look to for guidance, inspiration and hope in situations like my own."

I am honored to share a guest post today .
I know you will be equally inspired by what Heather has to say.
If you would like to read more about Heather's story, I have added her blog button to my sidebar.
Now, I'd like you to meet Heather Von St. James:

I've been an optimist all my life. Some have accused me of wearing rose-colored glasses, as if that's a bad thing. While my "glass is half full" outlook on life has not always been popular, it never served me better than when I was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer at the young age of 36.

The diagnosis was malignant pleural mesothelioma. It came on November 21, 2005, just 3.5 months after the birth of my first and only child. What was supposed to be the most joyous and rewarding time of my life as a new mother was instead marred by the three words everyone hopes they never have to hear: You Have Cancer."

I realized then that I had a choice: I could give in to the fatalism and have a pity party. I could curse God and ask him, "why me?" Or, I could suck it up and do the only thing worthy of my tiny, precious little daughter: fight it. And that's exactly what I did.

Cancer is generally thought of as this terrible thing that nobody wants to face. And to a certain extend it is. But it is also a double-edged sword, because some of it is good. When facing a cancer diagnosis, parts of your life will be irrevocably changed, some of it for the better. You learn to be a survivor of the disease rather than a victim. You draw strength from trying to make light of your illness. I learned to strip the disease of the fear it usually imparts on people. In doing so, I decided I needed to also help others do the same. Far too often, people diagnosed with mesothelioma lose faith and hope. I chose instead to find the good in having cancer.

I was referred to the world's foremost mesothelioma doctor, who scheduled me for surgery on Groundhogs Day in 2006. I decide to nickname my tumor Punxsutawney Phil as a result. We also christened the day Lungleavin Day, since I was going to have part of my lung removed. Every year since then on the first weekend in February, we still celebrate Lungleavin Day.

Another positive I can take from my experience with cancer is all the wonderful people I met during my journey. These people are some of the most amazing, strong and passionate people you will ever meet. I met fellow mesothelioma warriors who are trying to bring awareness to a disease that is still largely misunderstood. These people have enriched my life. It has more purpose in it now than ever before. I am going to continue to focus on the positives and help others keep hope alive like I did.

~ Heather & her beautiful, happy family ~

Amazing, isn't she?
Thank you, Heather, for allowing me to share your story here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Morning Joy?

Not long after I got up this morning, I realized the sun and blue skies had returned.  After three days of gray skies, rain and g.l.o.o.m. I can only say it was a sight for sore, sleepy eyes.  I say sleepy because shortly before the alarm went off the little boys next door were bouncing their basketballs on the driveway which just happens to be outside our bedroom window. Soon their dog joined in the merriment and began barking yapping non-stop.  As much as I don't want to become the old crabby next door neighbor, I find it odd to let your dog yap incessantly at 6:15 a.m.  Ah well, since they are fairly new neighbors I am trying to wait it out and see if things change.

Feeling it was pointless to try to go back to sleep, I made my way to the kitchen and appreciated the coffeemaker being Ready To Brew.  I needed my coffee and I needed it soon.  :-).

Brett and I don't buy Christmas gifts for each other anymore, but we did make two recent purchases.  The first one is the Keurig which we okay I had been contemplating for awhile.  I say I because I am the sole coffee drinker in this house.  However, he has been enjoying the instant hot water feature for tea and the hot chocolate and cider that were part of the purchase. 
We are both enjoying the convenience of hot beverages and don't miss washing the coffee pot and dealing with the grounds.

Purchase #2 was this old coffee can.
"Morning Joy" ... my goodness ... what a charming name for a coffee brand.  It just seems like a pleasant day would be ensured if we started our day with a cuppa this.  Personally I was also smitten by the blue and yellow and the little songbird. 
As I stood there watching my Keurig brew my cup of coffee in mere moments, I couldn't help but think how much things change through the years.  Even our morning cup of coffee.
But while the way we make coffee is a lot different, some things remain.

Birds bring Joy in the morning.

Bouncing basketballs and barking dogs ... not so much.
Well, at least not until I've had my Morning Joy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Little Indoor Gardening

Since there's not much to be done in the outdoor garden at this time of year, I decided it was a good time to tend to the indoor garden. 
A few of my houseplants were in need of a little TLC.

The brown leaf tips were detracting from the beauty of the pretty green leaves on my Peace Lily plant.

Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a little "haircut".
I basically followed the natural leaf line and trimmed off the brown part.

Next it was time for a "bath".
The leaves had gotten a bit dusty and I think I even heard them gasping for breath.  "Help, we're suffocating."
Using a soft, damp rag, I carefully wiped off each and every leaf.
It is a bit time consuming, but worth it in the end.
On my plants with smaller leaves, I sometimes rinse them off in the shower or with the hose in warmer weather.

Some of the leaves had gotten long and scraggly looking.

So a bit of "judicious pruning" was in order.

This made for a nicer, more compact plant.
Not to mention I will no longer be catching those long leaves in the vacuum cleaner.  ;-).

" Hooray, we can breathe again"


Friday, January 6, 2012

The Comforts of Home

This week I'm taking great delight in slowly returning order to the rooms of my home.  Each and every bookshelf is being emptied, dusted and I'm sorting through all of the books deciding what no longer applies to my life now.  I'm letting go of the idea that someday I might take up cross-stitch again or that I need twelve books on the subject of herb gardening when two would be sufficient. 

Mirrors and picture frames are being polished, lists are being made of bigger jobs that need to be tackled (carpets cleaned, windows washed) furniture is being vacuumed, crevice tools are being used and order is being restored after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.

As the new year begins, I find comfort in the tick tock of the grandfather clock, the washing machine humming along, the scent of lemon from my candle and fresh air coming in the window as our temperatures rise into the 60s today.  The soft hits channel on satellite radio is just the thing I need to keep me moving and singing as I go.  Looking forward to homemade soup for lunch and some fresh fruit.
It may be a lot of work, but at the end of the day it feels so good to sit and survey my surroundings.  Clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be happy.  Just the way I like it. 
Home ... the place where comfort reigns.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Wishes

** Happy New Year **

Since the Christmas decorations are still up at my house, I will be spending the first day of 2012 returning them to their storage boxes in the attic.  It's interesting to me how those things that looked so beautiful a few weeks ago are now starting to seem more like clutter.  So it will be nice to spend a leisurely day restoring order to my home.

How was your New Year's Eve? 
For the first time in our entire marriage, we were at home ... just the two of us.  We had talked of going to dinner and a movie with another couple, but one of them wasn't feeling well, so we had dinner out with one of our sons and then came home to watch a movie.  We did watch the ball drop and clink glasses of sparkling cider at midnight. 

As a new year begins, I'd like to wish you all a year of happiness and good health.  I know that some of my blog friends and real life friends are facing difficult things right now and it makes me feel sad.  Please know that I think of you and pray for better days ahead.

With Love,