Monday, December 29, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Things are still pretty laid back around here.
We did enjoy a most wonderful Christmas and hope that you did too.
It's always a bit of a relief to know that all those things that seemed so vitally important to finish by December 25th are now but a memory.  Tiny details may have been left undone, but in the end... who really cares.  Time moves on and now we are onto new pursuits.  Around here that means watching and waiting patiently for our feathered friends.

Always an exciting moment when our patience pays off.

~ Wishing you time for simple pleasures and quiet pursuits as we prepare to say goodbye to 2014 ~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Not a Creature Was Stirring

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .

 or a grandpa & his grandson :), :)

Story time by the Christmas tree ~

 The Christmas season at my happy home has unfolded in a somewhat laid back manner.  Decorating, while still plentiful, was scaled back to the most meaningful pieces.  Many treasures remained in the attic and others were donated to local thrift shops.  
I guess what it boils down to is at this stage of life I'm working towards re-thinking many of the holiday traditions with the goal of making them work for our present circumstances.  Sometimes it's easy to keep doing things the way they've been done for years and years because, after all, it's tradition.  Sometimes, however, those traditions can cause exhaustion and/or undue stress which is something we really don't want to be part of the plan if it can be prevented.
 So, this year, I did my best to search for what really matters and put my energy there.

At times I felt a bit guilty about trimming back the traditions.
Particularly when it came to the cookie baking tradition.
What was once an all day event morphed into a few hours baking cranberry orange bread and a double batch of one type of cookie.
The look on my son's face when I told him there would be no candy cane cookies this year made me feel the old guilty feelings.
I went back and forth with myself thinking there's been candy cane cookies every year, there has to be candy cane cookies... it's tradition.  On the other hand, candy cane cookies are time consuming and when the free time presented itself, I didn't feel like making them so I let go of the guilt trip and skipped making them this year.  Next year could be different.  Years ago if I had read this I would have thought "what kind of selfish mother wouldn't make her son's favorite cookies at Christmas?"  Years ago I was younger and had more energy.  Ho Ho!!

  Anyhow, I suppose I'm sharing this here because I feel the need to explain my absence in the last few weeks.  I guess I unintentionally scaled back on my computer time too.  Funny how at one time December was my favorite time to share things on my blog.  I love Christmastime and all that goes with it.  For whatever reason I was happy to scale things back this year and found that if I spent too much time in blogland it became easy to second guess my laid back approach to Christmas and feel the need to do more and hurry up about it.  I guess I'm just trying to say that there is so much beautiful inspiration out there and I love it all.  This year it just seemed a bit overwhelming to me so I spent more time unplugged.
Once again next year could be a whole different story, but for this year I'm quite happy with this slower pace.
My hope is that each of you are enjoying the pace that is right for you and your loved ones.  
I'll most likely be carrying out this laid back intentional Christmas season until the new year so I'll take this opportunity to wish you a very meaningful and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Whew and Oops!!

"Whew" is what I say after decorating the tree in the dining room and. . .

the tree in the family room.  It's so nice to be all done with that job.  Time now to put my feet up and enjoy the magic of the lights.
Thinking it might be fun to try capturing the blue hour as a backdrop to my blue/white Christmas tree,   I kept backing up trying to get in as much of the 9' tree as possible.
That's where the "oops" came in.

Seems I backed right onto the vacuum hose.
A little candid shot as I tried to steady myself, which was a bit like being on a teeter totter.  Didn't realize my finger pressed the camera button while all the action was happening.  I got quite a kick out of this shot as I was reviewing my photos.
I'm happy to report that I was able to get off the hose before I heard a thud or a boom or a crash.
Ah, the hazards of Christmas decorating!
You haven't had any of those, have you?
All I can say is I'm glad I was the only one home for this event.
The men in my family would have had trouble keeping a straight face over this one.
For now, I'm off to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Right after I get that pesky vacuum put away.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

 It seems like after all of these years of blogging, I'd find it quite simple to change up the header and background for the seasons.
However, that is so not the case.
I find it a test of my patience each time I make the attempt.
What worked last time doesn't seem to work the next time.
Gigantic headers, off center headers, chopped off headers.
♫ Fa La La La La ♫

I think I need a course in Easy, Effortless Blog Design 101.
I've been plucking away at it now for close to an hour...
even consulted my blog bible... the place where I jot down tips and tricks I see along the way.
My efforts have yielded a re-run of last years efforts and this time part of the header is chopped off.  Egads!!
I consulted that link I have bookmarked... the one telling me how to center my header.  It worked like a charm last time.  Not so much this time.
Ho Ho Ho
When I finished creating this masterpiece and went to "view blog" I thought "what a big, busy looking mess I've made"
 It didn't help that my colorful Thanksgiving collage was residing right below the header.  Talk about too much going on at once.
In the interest of making things somewhat less busy, a sparkly white candle has replaced the collage.

Alright, now that I have gotten that off my chest...
onto more pleasant topics.
Isn't this a fun time to wander through blogland?
Inspiration to be found at every turn.
I am so enjoying the opportunity to tour decorated homes, pick up simple ideas for cooking, baking, wrapping, etc.
I also love reading about the different traditions people embrace during the holiday season.
Every year I am reminded of what a joy and pleasure it is to be able to do this.
There's been a lot of talk recently about how blogging has changed so much in the past few years.  I agree, but I also think there's a place for all of us and for that I am thankful.

Until next time (when I hope to be done with the Christmas decorating),


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

  I've been a bit scarce in blogland recently.
Not sure why.  Seems the spirit hasn't moved me to pick up the camera.  Another blog slump, I suppose.
At any rate, I think of you even when I'm not posting.
If you will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autumn Garden

 The frost isn't on the pumpkin. . . yet!
Apparently we will wake up to a far reaching arctic blast. 
In watching the news reports, I know that it won't be nearly as harsh for us as it is for many to the north and west of us.
What I do know is that the countdown is on until the frost is on the pumpkin and the flowers too.
So, today, on this mild autumn day, I invite you to stroll with me through the autumn garden.

 Although there are many leaves carpeting the lawn,

 the trees are still sporting their autumn wardrobe.
I think the colors coordinate so well with the crystal clear blue sky.

Yellow with a hint of blue.  Yes please!!

Orange tipped leaves?  
Oui Oui!!

The new landscaping around the pond provides interesting texture in the form of ferns and grasses.  I love that pink muhly grass.  It looks a bit like a pink cloud.  The little Japanese Maples are also a nice contrast to the greens that are so prominent in the garden.

New camellia bushes are loaded with big plump buds.
This one is looking rather promising as it begins to open.

Encore Azaleas are providing a nice pop of color.
Until this year our azaleas had been limited to the spring blooming varieties.  I've been pleased with the performance of this encore variety.  Now we get to enjoy them for three seasons instead of just one.

It probably comes as no surprise that I would pair up yellow pansies with a blue flowerpot. :-).

Well, I could continue on and on with garden wandering, but I don't want to bore you.  Instead, I offer you the last rose of the season.  In this month of giving thanks, I wish to thank you ever so much for your visits and your friendship and your kindness.
It means so much to me.

No matter what you may be facing in life right now,
I wish you peace and contentment.


Friday, November 7, 2014

It's All A Blur

 Last time I posted it seemed the fall season was just getting underway.  Though I had good intentions of popping in here with some updates, it just never happened.

 Yesterday, after a rainy morning, the sun came out and seemed to highlight the beauty of the yellow leaves outside the kitchen window.
I decided I'd better get out there with the camera before the trees were bare. 

 Halloween is a big event in our neighborhood.
In fact it's so big that the last few years we hightailed it out of here and went out to dinner.
This year, we decided to invite a few people over and participate in the fun.  I had good intentions of snapping a few pictures of the food and table.  However, this was the only picture I took before the doorbell rang and it was time to move onto more important matters.

 Little Elmo wasn't too sure about that headpiece and his 3-1/2 teeth aren't quite enough for candy eating...

But, he was a good sport and went along with his daddy and uncle to do a little trick or treating.  His mommy works at a children's hospital and was helping to brighten the holiday for her young patients.

 In our neighborhood of more than 800 homes, the kids all trick or treat along the trail that runs behind our house.  This means that we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and... well you get the idea, of kids that come through.  It makes for a fast and furious time of handing out candy.  I noticed that many of the parents were also in costume.  The man above wore a fantastic vampire costume.  I assume he was a dad, but who knows... maybe he really was Count Dracula.  At any rate, he really got into singing along to our vintage Monster Mash CD and soon had a large audience.  I tried to get a picture of the front of him, but I had a hard time getting through all of the kids.  Ha!
Right about when we ran out of candy, the rain started falling so we headed into the warm house and enjoyed our meal of chili, cornbread and hot spiced cider.

While looking through the Halloween pictures, at first I thought that this one was blurry.  On second glance I decided it was more like  a certain little boy is a blur of activity... somewhat like these last few weeks have been around here :).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Few Fall Favorites

 One of my favorite things about Fall is attending the historic homes tour in a nearby town.  Through the years we have had the chance to step inside many different homes that have been lovingly restored to their original beauty along with enjoying the history behind the house.  This year we even toured the former home of Elizabeth Dole's grandparents.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside the homes, but I did take a few as we walked from house to house.
I thought this fall display was a warm welcome.
This house wasn't on the tour this year, although we did tour it in years past.
 Let me just zoom out so that you can see it better.

Pretty, isn't it.
That big wraparound porch looks like the ideal spot to enjoy the sights and sounds of an autumn afternoon.

As we waited in line to enter one of the houses, this caught my eye.
A pretty and interesting combination of colors and textures.

One of the houses sat on a corner lot.
The homeowner built this little house to resemble his own.

A cute little neighborhood lending library.
Have you ever seen this before?
I hadn't, but it sure seems like a neat idea.

 It just wouldn't seem like fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch.
This year it was even nicer to enjoy it with my favorite little pumpkin.

Of course these cooler days make the warmth of the kitchen even more appealing.  
I don't very often think to roast a whole chicken.
I'm glad I had that thought last night as it smelled so good as it baked and the meat just fell off the bones... just the way I like it.
Comfort food at it's best.

Susan Branch recently shared a recipe on her well-loved blog for a broccoli kale slaw.  The orange dressing and cranberries made it an ideal accompaniment to our roast chicken fall comfort food dinner.
Delicious and nutritious (as my mother often said :).

Just a few of my fall favorites here tonight.
There is one more that I can't really show you, although I'm sure you can conjure it up for yourselves... I just got up to let Peanut out and there it was... woodsmoke in the cool crisp air.  

Care to share any of your fall favorites?


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Patriotic Garden Palette

As I pulled into the driveway this afternoon I couldn't help but notice a patriotic little combo residing in my garden.

 Red Pentas

 The penta flowers are one of the greatest annuals for our southern climate.  They need zero care.  I've done nothing to them since I planted them last spring and they have filled in and grown super tall.  They were a source of constant color with no deadheading required.  As an extra bonus they attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Three cheers for pentas !!!

White Camellias

The beautiful camellia sasanquas are a fall blooming plant.
Soon enough the garden flowers will be lost to frost.  Boo Hoo!
That thought makes the camellias even more welcome and appreciated.

  Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

It seems a year doesn't go by where I don't have to sneak one of these into a post.  What can I say.... love that gorgeous shade of blue.  In fact, it reminds me of...

Wasn't it nice of that jet to fly by as I pointed my camera at the blue sky?
We're in for a picture perfect weekend here.
Hoping for a lot of outside time and time to do some blog hopping.
I've fallen way behind in that department and I need to see what you've all been up to.

In the meantime, I wish you blue skies and happiness this weekend.