Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fast Away The Old Year Passes

 As another year draws to a close it seems a good time to look back at the year that was.
It seems January always finds me ready to scale back, pare down and embrace simplicity.  At this time of year I welcome the slower pace and use my time to clean and declutter my surroundings.  A new houseplant often makes it's way into the house.  Something to tend to until outdoor gardening season begins.


February brought a beautiful snowfall.
This is rather rare here so we grabbed the camera, donned our boots and went out for a walk.  So glad we captured it in photos as it was our last one since.

 March found me attending a gardening seminar.
This always makes me anxious for the gardening season.
Because it was still a bit early for that I enjoyed clipping a few early bloomers and recreating an arrangement I had seen at the seminar.
It made a cheery centerpiece on our Easter buffet table.

 With April came the blooming of the dogwoods.
What we lack in snowfall we make up for in a long beautiful unfolding of the spring flowers.  Springtime in the south makes you happy to be alive :).

After the procession of spring blooms, May brings something new every day.  A few that popped up in my yard... clematis, peony, that red and white flower (which I forget the name of :) and the purple and yellow iris.  Time to don the gardening hat and gloves and get it in gear before the heat and humidity arrive.
June... Swoon.
My first grandbaby.
I was privileged to be present as he arrived into the world.
What a beautiful miracle.
Oh how I love this precious child.
 Hard to tell by this picture, but our summer was basically a rain out.
We never even got to use the boat.  Although we tried once and the boat didn't cooperate.
On the rare occasions that it wasn't raining, the butterflies came out to play.  I never tire of their graceful beauty.  Thank you God for butterflies.  They add so much to our earth.

 By August we were picking tomatoes.
The rain gave us a profusion of cherry tomatoes.
They responded favorably to all of our rain.
Oh yes, August also brought a broken toe.  Ha!
Sorry for the photo.  Just documenting for my own sake here.

 Our nephew's wedding in Seattle gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit a part of the country we'd never been to.
Since we were so close we welcomed the chance to also visit Vancouver and Vancouver Island, BC.
That was September and it was a September to Remember.

 October and I loved spending time getting to know my little guy.

If I wasn't outside enjoying the beauty of the changing seasons, the kitchen beckoned.  Pumpkin bread and apple pie were just the thing to warm up the kitchen and send sweet and spicy scents wafting through the air.

I guess it will come as no surprise that the yearly wrap up would bring me back to him.
Middle age can at times make me feel... well... old.
Too many years without the happy sounds of young children in the house can be... well... a tad lonely (at least to me).
Amazing the joy one tiny little person can bring to a home.
Thank you God for babies to love.
Please guide me in my duties as a grandmother.
May he always know the love we have for him.
And now, my friends, a new year awaits us.
It is my sincere wish that yours will be a happy one.
It can't be said too often how much I have been inspired by you as we walk together on this blogging journey.
Everything from household tips, new recipes, gardening ideas to wonderful ideas for creating memorable moments with friends and family.  That sentence leaves something to be desired in the grammatically correct department.  Ha Ha.  All that to say we never know what little thing we share that speaks to another out here in blogland.  
I'm looking forward to a fresh new year.
Who knows what will happen by this time next year, but how comforting to know that we are all here sharing and supporting one another through thick and thin.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Craving Simplicity

 My Christmas decorations remain in place.
The evening glow of the lights still casting their spell on us.
Although I'm finding those pops of Christmas red to be a bit jarring to me by day.
Not quite ready to take on the task of dismantling it all, I find myself craving simplicity.
I find myself taking solace in the bathroom where all is white and creamy.  Nothing to jar the eye or jangle the nerves.

For the past 12 years I've been searching for a shelf or piece of artwork to hang above the bathtub.
At long last the search has paid off. . .  finally a place to corral all of those treasures from the thrift shop.
Of course this necessitated a full-blown scrubbing of the bathtub and knick knacks and those wooden blinds.  When we had the blinds installed many years ago we were given the option of a remote control.  Thinking that sounded like the epitome of laziness I declined that offer.  Now I find it much more challenging to perch on the edge of the tub and reach over to yank that blind cord.  Maybe that remote would have been a good idea after all.  Ah well, live and learn.  But this helps explain why the dusting of the blinds isn't kept up with. :)
Funny how something new in a room can precipitate a desire to make everything else sparkle.  I think it makes us see the room with fresh eyes.  

Speaking of seeing things with fresh eyes,
last night we were able figure out the source of a few little mysteries in the kitchen.  First a small piece of corner molding under the kitchen sink split and was hanging by a thread, then I seemed to wipe black off the floor molding near the dishwasher only to find it back again in a few days.  Last night while talking to Brett in the kitchen as the dishwasher was finishing it's cycle I noticed black along all of the moldings surrounding the dishwasher.  Upon removing the kick plate under the dishwasher it has been discovered that a slow leak has been taking place.  All hardwood floor is black and saturated.
A quick call to the insurance man this morning tells us that slow leaks are not covered under our homeowner's policy.  Fast, unexpected leaks are.

I'm heading back to the sanctuary of my bathroom now...
Calgon take me away.


Friday, December 27, 2013

A Little Bit of Christmas

 I've gotta say that a baby to share Christmas with added a whole new level of joy to our holiday this year.

It didn't take long for him to figure out how to rip into the wrapping paper...
and we were all ready with our cameras poised to capture the thrill of his first Christmas.

In other Christmas news, I was delighted to be the winner of Donna's giveaway.  A very lovely copy of The Night Before Christmas.  I stumbled upon Donna's blog, An Enchanted Cottage, for the first time when she was sharing one of her family's special Christmas Eve traditions.  You can go here to read all about it.
I am now looking forward to beginning a new tradition with little Jaxson.
Thank you, Donna.

I do hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas.
I'm slowly making my way around to hear all of the details.
It seems Santa left a flu bug for Brett and I.  Ugh!
His turn was yesterday & mine is today.  Ha!
Oh that Santa... he doesn't discriminate.

Anyhow, in more pleasant news, are your Christmas decorations still in place or are they put away until next year?
I typically leave mine up until the weekend after new year's day.
There are moments where I'm ready to restore order.  However since that is over a week away I decided to go after a more peaceful and tranquil look here on the blog.

Now I'm taking a cue from Peanut and heading for the couch.
I think a bit of R & R is in order before the new year arrives.

As they say every time I visit Walgreen's...
Be Well. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day

 Doing a little dress rehearsal here tonight.
Making sure all of the candle holders are equipped with the appropriate votive, tea light or taper candles.

At Christmastime I don't think it's possible to have too many candles lit.  Is it?  Well I suppose it probably might be, but I just love the candlelight along with the Christmas tree lights.  Magical!!
I hung several glass prisms from the chandelier over the dining table.  When the lights are dimmed and the tree and candles do their thing... oh so pretty and sparkly.

 Because I light so many candles on Christmas day, I make it a point to count them as they are lit.  Then I write that number in a prominent spot (for me it's the calendar on the front of my fridge).  At the end of the day I make sure the number that are blown out matches the number I've written down.  
As much as I love candlelight, I love candle safety even more.  This has become my little form of checks and balance in the Christmas candle department.

These final hours leading up to Christmas day are busy ones, to be sure.  Plenty of cooking and tidying still to be done.  The presents are wrapped, the cookies are baked and the menu is planned.  Now it's time to bring it all together.  I plan to be up early tomorrow doing just that.  Once the work is complete we'll be off to the candlelight service at church.  Once again the beauty of candlelight adding so much ambiance to the season.

I'd like to take this time to wish you a Merry Christmas.
If you will be traveling, I wish you safe travels.
Thank you for your friendship and kindness throughout the year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Three Cheers for Christmas Cards

 The year was 1934.
The place ~ Detroit, Michigan.
A little boy named Emil picked up his pencil and carefully wrote down his Christmas wishes to a little girl he knew in school.  After putting his 1 cent stamp on the card he dropped it in the mailbox and off it went.

79 years later it now belongs to that little girl's daughter... me :).
As a child I often asked my mom if she had anything from her childhood.  Growing up in a single parent home during the depression her Christmas gifts were provided by the Salvation Army.  An organization that she had a soft spot for always.
Consequently, she had no toys or books or anything leftover from her childhood to show me.  She did, however, have this Christmas card.  It didn't do much to impress me as a young girl.
My best friend's mom still had an old set of Little Women dolls.  I thought that was much more impressive than an old Christmas card.


Fast forward to 2009.
My mom was in the later stages of her journey through Alzheimer's disease.
One day I was talking with the Hospice social worker and she shared with me that she saw Alzheimer's as being born in reverse.  At the time I was so overwhelmed with all that was going on that I didn't really appreciate what she was telling me.
But, as my mom's short term memory disappeared and she clearly was living once again in her younger life I began to understand a bit better.
A few months before she passed away, Brett and I were visiting one day and mom very excitedly told us that she had a new boyfriend.  She sounded for all the world like a young girl telling us about her first boyfriend.  By this time her memories of being married to my dad for 56 years had all but disappeared.  
When I asked her what her new boyfriend's name was she replied "Emil".
Brett looked at me in confusion and I whispered, I'll explain that one later.
I now knew why she kept that Christmas card from Emil all those years.  I think he must have been her first crush and now he was going to be her last.  My dad always had a wonderful sense of humor and I knew that even he would be laughing in heaven over this.

It seems as the years go by there are fewer and fewer Christmas cards in the mailbox.  I know with all the forms of social media now, it may be a dying art.
I sure hope not.
I love to send and receive them.  
My mom was the youngest of 7 children.
Therefore, most of my aunts and uncles on her side are now gone.
One aunt remains and she was the wife of mom's oldest brother.
She is still sending Christmas cards.  This note was enclosed in her card this year:

I'll be counting on it, Aunt Georgia.
Isn't her handwriting beautiful?

I may be old-fashioned, but I hope the sending of Christmas cards remains a tradition for many years.
Perhaps that explains why this vintage ad hangs in my family room ;-).

Monday, December 9, 2013

All is Calm

 At the end of these busy days I often find myself quite content to be snuggled into bed watching a Christmas movie.  
The only light in the room is my little angel Christmas tree.
Before I set it up I dusted and vacuumed and stashed away all of the everyday knick knacks.
It's such a cozy feeling to be curled up under the covers and look across the room to see this little touch of Christmas.  
I have it on a timer and sometimes I just like laying there enjoying the soft glow as I drift off to slumber land.  

I think it's nice to create special little spots around the home that provide a calm and restful place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the season.  
Have you found a favorite place to be calm amidst the hustle and bustle?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Soon it Will Be Storytime

 The first Christmas decoration to come out at my house this year is a basket filled with Christmas books for the young and young at heart.

Front and center in the basket.
Since this will be Jaxson's very first Christmas, I know he will like nothing better than to hear his grammy read this very vintage story to him.  hee hee :)

or perhaps he would prefer this one.

These are probably better for girls.
Maybe the colorful pictures will do the trick this year.

The truth is at six months old he's not likely to have a clue what any of these old stories have to say.
But at least he's too young to roll his eyes at grammy's book collection like the rest of the family does.

  I've set up a cuddly reading spot for the two of us.
New memories waiting to be made.
I can hardly wait.
He may not understand the stories, but I hope he will feel the love.

Now if I can just convince one slightly jealous doggy that I still love her too.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Perfect Apple Pie

  When the recipe is titled The Perfect Apple Pie, it seems like there's a pretty good chance it is going to taste good.

 Thinly sliced Granny Smith apples paired with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  The perfect combination of sweet and tart.

 My secret weapon for adding interest to the top crust.
I found this at TJ Maxx a few years ago.  It's like a giant cookie cutter.  Position it over crust, press and gently pull away.

 a pretty and tasty pie for the fall season.
Judging by the comments of those who ate it, it lives up to it's name.
If you're looking for a perfect apple pie recipe, this just might be the one.  The recipe can be found here

I made this same pie last Thanksgiving too.
Just to shake things up a bit I used the other side of the giant cookie cutter featuring apple shaped cutouts.  This was the result of that pie:

After all of the hours spent preparing for the Thanksgiving meal, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly it is devoured and we are left with a gargantuan pile of dirty dishes and...
happy memories of time spent with our loved ones.
Of course all those leftovers will be very welcome as we set-up Chrsitmas Central here today.

I hope you all enjoyed a happy and memorable Thanksgiving and the upcoming weekend will be a good one.  In the midst of this busy time of year, don't forget to schedule a few moments for rest and relaxation.