Thursday, December 9, 2021

Cheerful Christmas Decorating

The amaryllis that was just planted in my last post has come and gone.  It was in bloom on Thanksgiving and sure was pretty while it lasted.

The cactus that was loaded with buds has also done it's thing for the year.  I now know it is a Thanksgiving cactus.  It, too, added beauty to the house as we celebrated Thanksgiving.
Now they shall both be treated as houseplants until spring when I will move them outside.

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying these days leading up to Christmas.  Are you busy decking the halls or have you already finished?
Mine has become scaled down to a very manageable process.  I must say I am really enjoying it now.  Everything has been decorated for a week.  I do have fun tweaking things here and there.  
The little oil painting above was a recent thrift store find.  It was in a very dated frame and was tossed into a bin with a very low price tag.  I'm sure it had been cast aside in favor of modern pictures found at places like Hobby Lobby.  
The little boy pulling his fresh cut Christmas tree up the lane to the farmhouse transported me to days gone by.  The rolling hills covered in snow provided such a peaceful setting.  When I turned the painting over there was an address label the artist had placed there many years ago.  I don't know why her beautiful work wound up in the thrift store bin, but I wasn't about to let it remain there.

I did set it free from the dated frame and then added it to my hutch.
It's small size makes it an ideal piece to use in little vignettes around the house.

Another thrift shop visit yielded this DECEMBER frame.
Actually it was in a box with 11 more frames.  One for every month of the year and boy are they ever pretty.  
I spent some time last night going through my photo albums in search of a suitable picture for December.  It seems I stopped having pictures printed in 2010.  It sure was a trip down memory lane to look through all of those albums.  I then looked through the albums on my phone and still couldn't find a photo of all of my (small) family together at Christmas.  So, I settled for one of my son and his girlfriend with a snowman they built on one of the only Christmases that we had snow.
At the top of my to do list this year:
Get one nice photo of the whole family together for Christmas.

My Christmas decorating doesn't change much from year to year.
I kind of use the same elements in slightly different configurations.
This year I was craving the comforts of Christmas past in my kitchen.  Grouping select pieces of my vintage treasures with a bottle brush tree seemed to work on the countertops.

Christmas Cheer next to the stove.

Another little corner and a place to enjoy my favorite ornaments up close.

The view from the kitchen sink.

Couldn't resist these cheerful tea towels.

And it wouldn't be Christmas without the sweet little toy stove.
On a recent phone call with my eight year old grandson, he told me that the two things he wanted to do when he comes for Christmas are:
1:  Make blueberry pancakes with grandpa.
2:  Decorate cookies with lots and lots of sprinkles.

I can see I need to add something else to my to do list:

Purchase lots and lots of sprinkles :)

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Weekend Walk

Oldest son came over to watch college football with us on Saturday.
He brought along shrimp cocktail and a seven layer dip with chips which served as lunch.
Once the football game was over and the food was devoured, it seemed like there was only one thing to do.

Get out there on that beautiful fall day and take a walk.
Hopefully burn off some of those calories while getting some fresh air and exercise.

We decided to explore one of the trails in the neighborhood.
It provided a good workout with several inclines.  
I wanted to soak up every bit of the vibrant fall foliage before it all disappears until next year.

Near the end of our hike we came to this outdoor fireplace.

It was hard to pass up the opportunity to sit a spell.

Brett made himself comfortable in the nearby chairs.
I tried them out too and, in truth, could have sat there for quite awhile enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

But, since it was exercise we were after, it was time to hop back on the trail toward home.

The little beaver that someone had set on the fireplace mantle added a touch of whimsy.

How was your weekend?


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Apples and Amaryllis in Autumn

Always a delight when the colors of autumn arrive in our backyard wetlands.
One afternoon this week I glanced out the window and noticed golden leaves softly falling as the sunlight filtered through.  I just stood there and watched for awhile.  It was so pretty and peaceful.  A bit like being in an autumn snow globe where the snowflakes had been replaced with beautiful leaves.
Our week has been such a nice one with temperatures warm enough to allow for open windows during the day.

It was also ideal weather for being in the garden.
Deep purple pansies and a tulip mix called "Spring Delight" gives me hope for a beautiful courtyard display next spring.

A pot of violas to cheer up the back patio.
Love those sweet little faces.

Now that we are into November and our mild days are numbered, my thoughts turn to indoor gardening.
The Meyer Lemon, Christmas Cactus and Norfolk Pine have all been re-located to the inside of the house.
I couldn't pass up the amaryllis display at the local garden center.
This one came home with me.

It had a plump bud on it when I removed it from the box.
Almost looks like it was waiting to fly out of there.
It will most likely bloom long before Christmas.

This weather has put me in the mood to bake.

So, when the neighbor ladies scheduled a girl's night, I volunteered to bring a dessert.  I wanted something that tasted and smelled like fall.  I found a recipe on line for apple squares.  The recipe made an 8 x 8 square.  I wondered if that would be big enough.  I know ladies can be dainty eaters when it comes to dessert, but I also wanted to have enough for everybody.  I considered just doubling the recipe.
Having never made it I would have been disappointed if this didn't work out.  Overthink much?  Welcome to my world :).


Around this time I happened to be visiting a blog.  Someone who I know is an excellent cook and baker.  While there I poked around in her recipes and came upon this.  The ingredients were almost identical to the original apple square recipe, although there were a lot more apples (yay) and best of all . . . 9x13 pan.  Perfect.  Plenty for the girls and extras to take home to the husbands.  Win Win!

Thank you to Lorrie for coming to the rescue.  Even though she doesn't know she did.  Just one of the many ways we connect in wonderful blog land.
I can tell you that the recipe was a huge hit!
I've already had one request for the recipe.

This afternoon the clouds have moved in and rain is on the way.
I've been turning my amaryllis regularly to encourage a straight stem.
It appears to be working.  
I think it has doubled it's height in a week.
I'm kind of glad I don't have to wait until Christmas to see that bud turn into a blossom.
I'm thinking I may need to visit the garden center again for another one or maybe two.  This is the easiest gardening ever and the reward is amazing.


Monday, November 1, 2021

Tiny Words of Thanks

Have you ever gotten excited over a new floor mop?
It would seem as though this is an issue I have been pondering for years.
My most recent issue has been to find a mop for the laminate floors in the laundry room/office.  Apparently the thing you don't want to use on this type of flooring is a mop that leaves too much water behind.  I've tried a few choices since moving here and none have been too great. Either they did leave the floor too wet and/or were hard on the old back.
The other day I moved it up on my priority list and got serious about finding thee one.
Sometimes I avoid doing this as it can be time consuming and a bit overwhelming.  Easier to just plug along with the less than ideal situation.  Anyhow, after checking out the options, I decided on Bob Vila's top choice.  I figured he ought to know what he's talking about and it did receive rave reviews.

While this post is really not a mop review, I must say I LOVE everything about this system.  Perhaps most of all I like the simplicity of the instructions and the simplicity of operation.
You know a product is a success when you look forward to washing your floors.

You may be wondering what this post is about if not to promote a microfiber mop.  
I guess it is more about those small unexpected words of thanks.

When I selected the mop I had no idea I was supporting a small family business.  
The handwritten thank you note included in the box let me know.
Some might think it was just in there to garner favorable reviews.
I'm not one of those people.  In this case I will be happy to leave a highly favorable review.  After all those reviews helped me make an informed decision before purchasing.
As I've begun my Christmas shopping I am making a concentrated effort to support small businesses.  
My husband has been a small business owner for over 30 years and we surely appreciate our loyal customers.
He is in the business of selling and servicing a very specialized type of machinery.  Most of his customers are machine or tool & die shops.  Kind of a man's world to my way of thinking. I guess if I had my own small business it would be selling something different than machines.  Maybe home decor, flowers or books ;).  Anyhow, machinery is our business life as I have worked alongside him in one capacity or another all of those years.

When this tiny note fell out of the envelope with a customer's payment, Brett read it out loud and then dropped it in the trash.  I promptly removed it from the trash and tucked it into my desk drawer.  Something about a man in his machine shop taking the time to pencil out this note makes me smile.  That was many months ago and I still find it smile worthy every time I open the desk drawer.

Have you received any unexpected notes of thanks recently?

Let me take a moment to say a big
Thank You
to all who stop by and visit here.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fall Things

These days not a lot changes from year to year with my seasonal decorating.  I did, however, add a touch of fall to the large island that is visible from most rooms in the house.  Just enough to announce fall's arrival while still leaving plenty of room for all of the other activities that happen around that island.

One of those activities has been putting together this fall themed puzzle.  

Normally at this time of year I look forward to visiting a local pumpkin farm to select a few things to decorate the porch with.
This year I could have cared less one way or the other.  I wanted to care, but just couldn't seem to muster up any enthusiasm.  Part of an increasing slump I find myself in lately, I suppose.
One day Brett deposited me :) at the pumpkin patch while he went off on a few errands.  By the time he came back to get me I had a cart full of pumpkins, gourds and a hay stack waiting to be loaded into the car for future porch decorating.  Seems he knew better than I what was needed to get me out of that slump.  The next morning found me on the porch cleaning windows and porch furniture, sweeping the porch, tossing spent plants followed by arranging those pumpkin farm finds into a pleasing display.

I had about decided there wouldn't be a wreath on the door after looking at the offerings at Tuesday Morning.  Although they had several to choose from, I didn't care for any of them and thought the prices were a bit steep for how "blah" they looked.  
I was very surprised when a neighbor friend rang my doorbell last week with a beautiful fall wreath she had made for me.  I haven't seen her in many months so she wasn't responding to my "slump" yet her timing was interesting.  
After telling her about my visit to Tuesday Morning I offered to pay her.  She prefers to use the barter system so I will be baking her an apple pie in exchange for an apple wreath.  I think I am getting the better end of that deal, but that is what she wanted.

A pottery bowl found at GW last summer.
When I mixed it with a few wood pieces and a wee touch of pewter, I am liking the touch of fall it adds next to the stove.


The very best thing this fall is a precious little addition to my extended family.  My niece's first baby born September 24th.
Unfortunately she lives on the other side of the country in California.  While I would love some cuddle time with her, I so enjoy receiving new photos from the new grandparents.

~ Wishing you a fall filled with happy things and a very Happy Thanksgiving wish to my Canadian readers ~



Monday, August 23, 2021

Hopeful Signs

Our hot and HUMID weather has me looking for hopeful signs of cooler weather to come.  Notice I didn't say fall.  For I know that this is the time of year where many don't want to think of the summer coming to an end.  Truthfully I'm not trying to rush things along.  It's just that I have had it with our current weather situation.
Over the weekend I noticed these orange berries growing alongside the restaurant where we went for dinner.  
Hopeful Sign #1

After dinner we stopped into the garden center to look for something.  While Brett was paying for our purchases, I searched for a spot of shade in which to wait.  These mums looked totally out of place in this heat.  I can't imagine planting them this early as they will be done blooming when fall weather arrives.  Either way I am counting them as . . .

Hopeful Sign #2

Right next to the mums were these white coneflowers.
I have the more traditional purple coneflowers (echinacea purpurea).
They perform well here and the butterflies and goldfinches are drawn to them.  Many of mine have gone to seed which I will leave on the plant through fall as the finches are already daily visitors.  When it comes to birdseed I don't think you can't get much fresher than that.  So, flowers that feed the birds through fall.  You guessed it. . .

Hopeful Sign #3

Not far from those white coneflowers I found a few in orange and red tones and look what the tag says Fall is for Planting.  
So, it may not be fall and it definitely doesn't feel like fall, but perhaps a few new flowers in fallish colors will fool me into thinking the temperatures are cool and crisp.
Ha! Ha! Ha!  Very doubtful.
However, unlike the mums, these should do well now and right up until frost hits.  Sounds like another hopeful sign to me.

Hopeful Sign #4

Three new coneflowers have found their way into my garden.
Right after planting the visitors began to arrive.
Beautiful butterflies fluttering among the flowers . . .

Always A Hopeful Sign.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

On The Water

After several stormy days we were rewarded with a bright, beautiful  day.  That blue sky filled with big white fluffy clouds reminded me of summer days as a kid when the possibilities seemed endless.

When we sold our house three years ago, the boat was sold along with it.  We had a lot of fun over the years on that boat, but it was time to move on.  
One of the benefits of our new community is membership in a boat club.  Now, if we want to get out on the water, we can rent a boat for the day.

Yesterday we picked out a nice pontoon with a slide and headed out for a day on the water.

With over 500 miles of shoreline, Lake Norman offers plenty of room for exploration.  

Due to it being a weekday, the motor boat traffic was fairly light.
Perhaps that's why the sailboats were enjoying the moment.

Something very summery about a line-up of sailboats.

One of my favorite things about boating has been checking out the lakefront homes.  A few of them even had their own helicopters.

While floating in the water it was hard to resist looking for pictures among the clouds.  This one reminded me of something I'd seen previously . . .

Not the clearest picture, but hopefully you get the idea.

After our time cruising the lake, swimming (and going down that slide) it was time to head back to the marina.  I turned to look behind us and saw the sun setting over the water.  One lone cloud seemed to be heading towards the sun or perhaps it was about to plummet into the depths of the water.  I took three quick photos with my phone.  This one had that little round hole in the cloud which I thought was kind of neat.  Does anything come to mind when you see this cloud formation?

How are you enjoying these late summer days?