Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Sweet and Enjoyable Christmas

My Christmas cookie baking got started a little late this year.
As thoughts of which ones would be required baking despite the late start, I polled the family for their favorite "it won't be Christmas without..." choices.  Peanut Blossoms are always a unanimous favorite.  In my 36 years of marriage they have been as much a part of Christmas as decorating the tree.  It seems it wouldn't be Christmas without them.

When I polled grandson Jaxson for his favorite, he promptly replied "Santa and reindeer cookies".
That took a bit of thought on my part as I haven't made cut out sugar cookies since my boys were little.
Good thing I haven't been able to part with those vintage red cookie cutters.
I must admit once I got started baking them, it was a whole lotta fun decorating them.
Far from Pinterest worthy, they brought back memories of simpler times.

That freshly painted laundry room proved to be the ideal spot for arranging and storing the Christmas day platters.
The only thing in the room is the washer and dryer leaving plenty of space to spread out.

I even used a corner of the counter to hide the goods, although it wasn't long until my hiding spot was discovered.

It gives me great pleasure to carry on the Christmas cookie baking traditions my mom began so many years ago.
Some of her recipes carry on.  Others remain in her handwriting on the recipe cards.  I like to keep the old favorites and also try a few new ones.
New to me this year is the candy shown above on the pedestal dish.
When I saw the recipe for Peanut Chews on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog, I was intrigued by the use of honey in the recipe.
It proved to be a very simple recipe that can be made ahead.
It was a big hit with our crew.

On this final day of December, I wanted to document a few thoughts about Christmas 2017.  The only thing is, after the cookies were baked it seems I set the camera down and just lived in the moment.  Oh, there was that split second on Christmas day that I thought I should be taking pictures.  The result wasn't worth the time to me so I just continued to absorb and enjoy the holiday as it enfolded.
I hope that your holiday season has been a memorable one.
As we look forward to a new year, may it bring to you
good health, peace and happiness.


 Stay warm & safe,

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Unconditional Love in a Fur Coat

Thank you to those of you who took the time to enlighten me on your photo storage methods.  I've decided to store my photos for blogging on the computer.  I'll just have to play around with the editing as it is different than what I did in Picassa.  Sounds like a good project for the new year. 
Anyhow, in revisiting many of my old blog photos, it has occurred to me that a blog is many things.
A place to share with others, a way to appreciate the small things in life, a place to record events in your daily life and perhaps, most important of all, a place to share what's on your mind or in your heart.  On that note, a bit from the heart tonight. . .

This photo from the archives took me right back to this post.
Usually a good sport about her occasional blog features, there were limits :).

She much preferred keeping an eye on my blogging antics from her perch on the top of the chair.

In truth, she was usually happiest cuddled up in snooze mode.

When not snoozing, she was always up for a boat ride.

Walks were always welcomed, no matter what the season.

Swimming... not so much.
Tried it once and couldn't get out of that lake fast enough.

One can learn a lot from their doggy.
Peanut has taught me a few things about being a loyal companion and faithful friend.
I have come to think of her as being unconditional love in a fur coat.  

And, if you are ready to take a break to read a few chapters or catch a few zzzz's, she's your go to gal.  

Christmas has always been her favorite holiday.
It didn't take long for her to catch on to pulling the tissue paper out of the gift bag to reveal her Christmas treat.
A little custom that was soon to be woven into the family traditions.

As much as we had hoped for one more year of that tradition, it wasn't to be.
Peanut's health took a sudden turn.
It didn't take long for us to see that her time had come.
Yesterday, we put on our brave faces and took one last photo by the Christmas tree.

And one last photo at the vet's office.
One last teary hug for our dear pup.

Peanut lived a long and happy life.
Just before her 15th birthday she was diagnosed with kidney failure.  We were lucky and blessed to have had her for another 9 months after that.  The vet was quite surprised that she did that well.

She will be greatly missed around here, but there is comfort in knowing that she is now at peace.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

There's This and Then There's That...

Before December is a mere memory, I resolved to blow the dust off the blog and join the holiday merriment that is such a fun time in blogland.
The problem is, things are a wee bit different this year.
First of all, there's this:
With the downsizing frame of mind I am in, there's nothing new to see in the decorating department.  In fact many of my vintage treasures are finding new homes through Ebay or thrift shop donations. Shocking, isn't it?  When I began my blog in 2009 the thrifty treasures were a big part of what I was all about.

We are in the process of having some rooms repainted.
Most recently it was the laundry room.
In preparation for the painting, I removed everything but the appliances from the room.  The painting was finished days ago, yet I have no desire to return anything to the room.
It's been so nice to be able to work in there without  working around stuff on the counters, the top of the dryer, the floor, etc.
Yesterday I edited the vintage laundry room collection.
It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was blogging about those collections.  Now, I'm nearly embracing the minimalist lifestyle.  Ha!  
All this to say, will anybody who's been reading my blog all these years be interested in this pared down home?
So... there's that.

Most concerning of all, there's this:

It was necessary for us to get a new laptop.
All data from the old computer was transferred to the new.
Although, it took me awhile to find where they hid the photos I use for blogging.
Since day one, I stored them by month and year in Picassa.
When I began my blog and had no clue what I was doing, my son set up the Picassa account and that was the only way I knew to get photos from the camera to the blog.  It worked great for all these years.
Picassa is nowhere to be found on the new computer.
The photos are there, but I have to click the month and year to see what's in there.  With Picassa the photos were all there at a glance.
It seems that Google has done away with Picassa.  They said some of my photos can be found elsewhere.  I went there and found some, but they were in no kind of organized order.  Grrrr.....
So, it seems I will need to figure out how to do the picture thing again.

Despite all of the this and that's excuses,
the joy of the season is still happening all around us.
It's been kind of a fun challenge to pare down and re-think the old.
Not sure how fun the challenge of organizing blogging photos will be, however.  If you'd care to share your method for blog photo organization, I'd love to hear.  After you take your photos, what's the next step?  I'm sure my Picassa method is outdated by now, but it worked for me.  Often I find the new methods really are more efficient, it's just a matter of knowing how to do them.

On that note, I wish you a lovely day today.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pumpkin Pondering

While we are still enjoying fall color, the ever growing blanket of leaves on the ground tells me it won't be long until the trees are totally bare. 

 Since I wasn't blogging in October, I never shared my front steps all decorated for fall.  Shortly before Halloween I hit the farmer's market and had fun making the front entrance ready for the season.
The jack o' lanterns have now been removed, but the pumpkins, gourds and mums are still hanging in there.
I plan to leave them in place until Thanksgiving.
After that I have plans for a few of those pumpkins.
The farmer told me that the greyish green one on the bottom left step is an heirloom variety that is especially delicious when roasted.
I'm looking forward to trying it.
I'm planning to add some to the freezer for future use.

Today I used a can of pumpkin that was in the pantry to make pumpkin soup for lunch.  There was enough in the can for a loaf of pumpkin bread.  It tasted so good as an afternoon snack.

I love the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg.  There is something so appealing about those spices at this time of year.
The recipe I used can be found here.  It's a lightened up version.  However, it's so moist and flavorful you'd never suspect it.
With our US Thanksgiving just around the corner, I'm thinking lightening up now is the way to go.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Little Things in November

I've come to the conclusion that when trying to get back in the swing of blogging again, smaller might be the better way to go.
So, with that in mind, I present a few of the small things I noticed today.
Things like:
Turning the page on the calendar to a new month.
When I bought my calendar this year I decided there would be no peeking ahead.
It's very small and rather silly, but now I can hardly wait for the first of the month to see what beauty awaits me.  This Gooseberry Patch calendar has yet to disappoint.

Things like:  a bit of whimsy at the coffee station.
As I continue to edit my holiday collections around here, this little witch is staying put.  From the wart on her nose to the wee little jack o' lantern in her hands, she has endeared herself to me.  I would miss her if she was gone :).  

Things like:  Charming packaging.
This too sits on the coffee station tray.
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate sounded like the perfect treat for sipping on Halloween night.  Although, I will admit that the adorable milk bottle and the "Sillycow Farms" name had some influence on the purchasing decision.

Well, I told you... small (very small) things today.
Although it's only been a little over a month since my last blog post, I was a bit surprised by how foreign it seemed to me to sit down and compose a post.
Hoping to get back in the swing of things now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Decorating Elements From Nature

Adding one more thought to my previous post . . .
In my efforts to simplify the seasonal decorating, I'm looking at nature's gifts in new ways.
This morning I gathered a few hydrangeas, beautyberries and zebra grass tassels.
I rather like the textural, autumnal feel it adds to the dining room hutch.
The gravy boat in the background is filled with pecans given to me by a co-worker.  She found the nuts that had dropped all over her yard to be a nuisance.  As much as I love pecans, I found the process of shelling them to be a bit of a nuisance.  I do, however, love the looks of them in fall décor. 

Best of all, when the season is over, I can toss it all.
No storage space in the attic required.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Few Fall Touches

In these lingering days of summer, I've been adding a few subtle touches of fall to my home.  I'm going for a nod to the season rather than an all out change every surface to scream "Fall has arrived".
Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just that at this stage of life, the interest and energy level for that has changed considerably.

In fact, Brett & I have started to think about downsizing in the next year or so.
We've begun the process of looking at smaller homes.
When we first started talking about it, we had no idea where to start looking.  Just for the heck of it we visited one of the "active lifestyle" communities in the area.  We have now visited three different ones and talked to a lot of people who have made this move.  Everybody we've talked to seems thrilled with their new home and community.  The one thing we heard over and over was how much stuff they had to get rid of to downsize.  The other common theme was not to bother saving it for your kids as they don't want it.  

Our current house doesn't have a basement.
What it lacks in basement space, it more than makes up for it in attic space.  Lots and lots of attic space with lots and lots of things stored in them.
Through my years of blogging, I have talked about cleaning the attic on more than one occasion.  Many things have found new homes through the years, yet many things remain in those attics :/.
I am learning one thing through this process of house hunting.
Now is the right time to get serious about clearing the clutter.
Whether we move next year or in five years, we will be ahead of the game to start dealing with it now.
So that is exactly what we have been doing around here.

Yesterday I sorted through the bins in the attic containing fall décor.
I picked out a few favorite pieces.
I chose a few spots in the house that I thought could benefit from a touch of fall.
In the dining room it was the center of the table
and a few dishes added to the hutch.
For now that is plenty.
The remaining items were packed into the car and taken to one of my favorite charities.
As each holiday rolls around I plan to repeat this process.
It's rather amazing how much stuff a house can accumulate over the years.
When my son was home last week I had him clean out his dresser and closet.  Four garbage bags of clothes came out of there and he hasn't lived here for over three years.  Yikes!
Speaking of my son, I want to thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers on my last post.
We are happy to report that they made it here and back home safe and sound.  Thankfully there was no damage to their apartment and the power was still on.  Amber spent one night in the hospital where she works in Orlando.  They lost power and were working off of generators.  She said the room the staff slept in was on the fourteenth floor with windows from floor to ceiling.  It was a scary time and she was so glad to get back home when it was safe to do so.  

While here visiting, Jaxson decided that when raspberries become finger puppets they suddenly taste better :).
We miss him already, but are most thankful to have their little family reunited once again.

Friday, September 8, 2017

On My Mind This Morning

I, unintentionally, drifted away from the blog world for awhile. 
Some of that time was spent glued to the television watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey.  It was so heartbreaking to see the devastation and hear the personal stories.  I can't even imagine what it must be like for all of the people dealing with the aftermath.  My heart goes out to them.
Now, it hardly seems possible that we are once again watching coverage of another hurricane roaring towards southern Florida.
With family members living there, this one has me more glued to the tv than ever.  My son and his family live in the Orlando area.
He was scheduled to fly home on Sunday for work.
Yesterday it was decided that the safer option would be to get in the car and drive.  He packed the car, loaded the dog and our little grandson and headed north.  Mommy works in a hospital and will be staying there for the duration.
During one of our somewhat stressful phone updates yesterday, I looked down to see a very elderly little dog paw firmly planted on my leg. With my tendency to be a worrier, it was a small comfort at that moment.   It reminded me of something I saw over and over during the Hurricane Harvey coverage.  Human beings facing horrible circumstances, yet helping one another in every way that they could.  Suddenly it no longer mattered the skin color, age or political persuasion.  
Last night as darkness began to descend, it was clear that our family members wouldn't make it home.  Brett sprang into action calling around for a hotel that might have vacancy and accept pets.
After several tries he was able to score the last room in a pet friendly place.
This morning my son reports that the nervous dog kept him awake most of the night.  Soon they will all load up and continue on their journey.  Brett has been busy as a bee and more talkative than ever.  My way is to keep busy in a quieter, more reflective way.
Ha!  I guess we all have our ways of dealing with things.
The first order of business for me this morning is cookie baking.
Once my grandson arrives safe and sound there will be cookies and milk for all.
As I continue to watch the updates on tv, I only wish it were as easy as providing cookies for all.  It is a bit of a helpless feeling to watch our fellow Americans suffering this way and not being able to do much to help.  Having said that I do believe in our own way we can each do something to help.
Along with cookie baking, I'll be praying for those in the path of Hurricane Irma.  Always a good place to start in my opinion.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Yummy Summer Sandwich

Can you guess what's happening in my kitchen?
If you grow basil this may be a familiar sight right about now.
Pesto making time.

Last winter my sister-in-law gave me a cutting from the basil plant she had growing on her kitchen windowsill.
When I got home I stuck it in water and waited a few weeks until it sprouted roots.  At that time I planted it in a little pot on my kitchen counter and cared for it until it was safe to plant it outside in my garden.
It is now thriving out there in the garden as you can tell by the size of the leaf above.

Seemed an ideal time to harvest some for a batch of pesto.
As I was making it my mouth was watering just thinking about it's intended purpose...

With just four simple ingredients, this recipe has become our favorite summertime sandwich.
If you'd like to try it, you will need:
- a nice loaf of crusty Italian bread
- a nice fresh tomato
- fresh mozzarella cheese
- basil pesto

Slice your bread.
Spread each slice with pesto.
Lay mozzarella slices and tomato slices on one piece of bread.
Put the other piece of bread on top.
Brush the outside of each piece of the bread with a bit of olive oil and cook in a pre-heated skilled as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich.

Once the bread is toasty and golden and the cheese is "melty",
cut in half and enjoy.
A little taste of summer!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Something to Cheer About

Give me a Z
Give me a U
Give me a C
Give me another C
Give me an H
Give me an I
Give me an N
Give me an I

What's it spell?

Why, zucchini, of course.
I'm thinking many people would not be cheering about zucchini right now as their gardens may be overflowing with them.
Over here, we are cheering enthusiastically over our very first crop.
To date our attempts to grow them have been unsuccessful.
One year the male and female flowers didn't do their thing, another year squash vine borers did them in.  In fact, after those failed attempts I swore there would be no more tries.  However, last spring I decided I was not ready to admit defeat.  I always thought they were easy to grow and it was ticking me off that I didn't have any luck with them.
So, I stuck a few plants in the garden and waited and waited and waited some more.  Nothing!
I checked out some YouTube videos about that male and female flower thing.  I headed out one day with my Q Tip determined to help them (ahem) get it on only to find out there were no female flowers in the bunch :(.
The other day I was tempted to rip out the whole mess.
Just for the heck of it I started poking around amongst those big leaves and there it was.
Oh, what a beautiful sight :).

The next day while snipping some basil I spotted another little zucchini peeking out at me.
I decided to harvest it promptly before it disappeared like most of my tomatoes have :/.
Once in the house it seemed a photo shoot was in order.
I added another element harvested from the garden, the zinnias.
Zucchini & Zinnias.  A happy summertime pair.

I'm wondering if it is normal for zucchini to grow and grow and then put out the squash late in the season?  If you grow it, what has been your experience?  Do you harvest throughout the season?