Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas Blooms and A Cookie Recipe

My amaryllis bulb rewarded me with five beautiful blooms on one stem.  The tiny leaves near the base have another bud forming so I am keeping my fingers crossed for another bloom or maybe five.  So different than the bulb I planted last year which sent up several leaves that grew and grew, but never did send up a bloom.

A pretty poinsettia on the kitchen island.
With all the time spent working in the kitchen at this time of year, it makes the tasks a bit more pleasant.  

In my last post I mentioned a new-to-me cookie recipe I had made.  Lorrie asked if I would share the recipe and I am happy to do so.  

recipe from Gooseberry Patch Holidays at Home cookbook

A note on the recipe:  If you don't care for rum extract, these are also good with maple extract as a substitution.


I rather doubt that I will be posting again before Christmas, so I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a most joyous holiday season.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Few Thoughts at Christmastime

After Christmas last year I took advantage of the 50% off sales and picked up a Christmas tree for my living room.  Perhaps I should call it my reading room because that is what mostly takes place here.
When trying to decide how I wanted to decorate it, I settled on using the very old ornaments that belonged to my parents.  Many of them are Shiny Brites and all of them are very delicate.  Worrying about them getting broken almost stopped me.  But, when I thought about how long I have had them I decided it was best to put every last one of them on that tree and enjoy it to the fullest.  Which is exactly what I have been doing.  Each morning and most evenings I make myself comfortable in my reading chair and this is my view.  Such a pretty and peaceful way to start and end the day in this busy time leading up to Christmas.

When I think of how old and fragile these ornaments are, it's rather amazing that there are still so many of them intact.  This Santa is one of my favorites.

Last week I was invited to meet a few of the neighbor ladies for lunch.
After lunch I invited them over for dessert.  I decided a variety of bite size choices would be best and baked pecan tassies, chocolate cherry cheesecakes and a new to me recipe, nutmeg logs.
In the morning I set the table with my Christmas china so that everything would be ready when we returned from lunch.
One of our topics of conversation was that the younger generation, for the most part, has no interest in owning sets of china.  When I got married 42 years ago I thought having a full set of china was such a thrill.  It made me feel so grown up and elegant.  Many years later I dreamed of owning the traditional Lenox holiday china.  When it became possible, I enjoyed setting the table with it for our Christmas celebrations.  In my mom's later years she gifted me four sets of it.  
Her last visit to my home was a Thanksgiving visit many years ago.
I decided to decorate the house for Christmas early that year and set the table with the Lenox china.  I know it brought her great joy and it still stands out as our last happy holiday celebration together.

Although both of my parents have been gone for many years, the memories old ornaments and out of fashion china evoke make me glad I still own them.

Our weekend weather has been damp and dreary.
Extra thankful for Christmas lights on days like this.
Today I'll be tackling the Christmas cards.
Probably another old fashioned tradition.  Yet one I will most likely be carrying on until it's obsolete.

Wishing you JOY for the season.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Post Thanksgiving ~ Pre-Christmas

The Christmas decorating is underway at my happy home.
Before I get too immersed in that, a brief documentation of the Thanksgiving that was. . .

Thanksgiving was different in many ways.
My son offered to be the host in his new (to him) home.
One drawback to that is he doesn't cook.
He did offer to provide Costco's version of a pre-made turkey dinner.
That idea was shot down quick by his cousins.
I said I would be happy to help in any way.  But, I decided to let the younger generation come up with the plan.
This is new to me and I found it rather fun to wait and see what they came up with.
I did bring over a few fall decorations and my sister-in-law brought her table cloth.
I felt right at home seated around our old dining room table.

Once the plan was in place, we all brought a few dishes to share.
I guess I should say the females brought the food ;)
My son happily provided the "shelter" (as he called it) and the beverages.
I'll say one thing we had no shortage of food.
It's been tradition for my sister-in-law to bake the pumpkin pie and I bake the apple.  New this year, her granddaughter baked a chocolate cream pie.  
Yum! Yum!Yum!

Hats off to the younger generation for a most successful Thanksgiving celebration!!

Now, back to the Christmas decorating.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Houseplant Love

With the gardening season mostly over for the year, I enjoy a different kind of slower paced gardening in the form of tending the houseplants.  
Although I've been documenting this for years, it is always such a fun surprise to see all of the buds on my Thanksgiving cactus when it comes in from it's summer vacation on the patio.
After watching this Lisa Emeterio video I was inspired to elevate the look of my cactus.  Instead of the normal pot it was in I chose this Wedgewood bowl that has been gathering dust in the cupboard.  Some moss on the top to hide the "mechanics" and I think it looks pretty good.  Now to watch as the beautiful blossoms unfurl.

My Norfolk Pine always responds well to a summer spent outdoors.
Every year I think I should decorate it for Christmas.
Perhaps this year I will actually follow through.

Pothos is such an easy plant to grow.
The bright shade of green on this one caught my eye in the garden center last spring.  I think it's called a neon pothos.
I particularly like when the sun hits it in the morning drawing attention to it's beauty next to my favorite chair.

Wanting a new plant for low light conditions I recently purchased this sansevieria.  Yes, the good old "snake plant" or "mother in law's tongue".  I am still a bit surprised that I made this purchase as I used to think they were not something I would ever want in my house.  Ever since I was a kid, for some reason, I associated them with "old lady" plants.  I know they have recently become popular again.  Perhaps that is why I am seeing them in a new light or perhaps it is because now I qualify for the "little old lady".
In reading about their care I learned that they are one of the better plants for purifying the air inside one's home.  They are supposed to remove formaldehyde and provide oxygen in it's place.  With the new rugs and furniture that sounds like a good plant to have around.
I may have to apologize to this plant for all of the bad thoughts I've had about it.

My anthurium did well on the patio until an early frost caught me off guard.  After bringing it in, most of the leaves have turned brown and I've been clipping them off one by one.  It is looking kind of pathetic at the moment.

It almost found a new home in the compost heap until I noticed this new leaf and upon closer inspection there are a few more getting ready to unfurl.  So now I will spend the fall and winter months tending to it with hopes that in time it will once again be strong and healthy.  I am going to start by finding a slightly larger pot for it as I think it has outgrown this one.

I can never resist growing an amaryllis or two at this time of year.
Last year's bulb turned out to be a dud.
I have high hopes for this one.


Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Sweet and Spooky Surprises in the Garden

Over the weekend I spent some time working in my son's garden.
There were a lot of weeds that needed to be taken out before our anticipated frost later this week.  While the guys were busy tackling indoor jobs, I made it my mission to eradicate (nearly) every weed I came in contact with.  Brett thought I was over calculating when I requested one tall yard waste bag to get started.  By the time I was done, five of those bags were filled to the brim.
I saved the largest weed patch for last.  It was in full sun and the temperature was 83 degrees.  There were many water breaks in the shade.  I nearly gave up before I finished, but I persevered.
As I was working on the final stretch, something bright red caught my eye.  Growing at the base of the fence it looked like a tiny strawberry.  Even the leaves look like strawberry leaves.  Strawberries are a spring/summer thing around here so I was mystified by this discovery.  Thanks to the plant identification feature on my phone I was able to learn that it is a mock strawberry, Indian strawberry or false strawberry.  Apparently the strawberries are edible, although not as tasty as a true strawberry.  Either way I think they are adorable and let them stay right where they are.  A sweet little surprise at the end of my weeding session.

Back at home I was engrossed in tugging my zinnias out of the pots they had been growing in all summer.  I'm not sure who was more surprised when this little guy flung out of the pot.  Although they are on the creepy side, this one was the tiniest I have ever seen.  He clung to the side of the pot watching me finish the job.  I wouldn't think this would be the time for wildlife to be breeding.  Between this little fella and the baby snake that was slithering into my herb garden as I was removing the basil, I guess they are still having babies.  Oh goodie, more snakes in the garden.  Ugh!!

This face about sums up my feeling on that topic.
Actually this is kind of a funny discovery made while moving black eyed susans to new homes.  We get these weird fungi that emerge up from the soil and look just like round balls.  They can be hard to spot at first in the soil and mulch.  I thought this one rather distinctive with his creepy face.  Just right for Halloween.


Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Documenting October

October has been such a lovely month here this year.  One sunny day seems to follow the next bringing with it the highly anticipated autumn leaf color change.

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't done a single post to document the month.  By this time next week we'll be into November.

So, before the last few days slip away, a few notes to remember October...

I don't do much in the way of Halloween decorating, but this small display houses the pieces I have held onto through the years.  The little ghosts are Gurley candles that were from Brett's childhood.  The others were things I bought when my own boys were kids.  Looking at them brings happy memories.

The other day I went looking for a few hydrangeas to dry.
Most of them looked well past their prime.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a few on the backside of one plant.  They were at the bottom and pressed up against the house.  Once I wrangled them out of there, I was rewarded with four large blooms sporting pretty autumn colors.  They are now on display on the foyer table.

While I was out there I took a look at all of the plants.
Another nice surprise was a few raspberries ripening.
Somehow knowing that the frost will be coming anytime now makes these berries even more precious to me.  I will be watching them closely as they ripen in hopes of eating them before the birds find them.

When we brought the lemon tree back to the patio in April it had five green lemons on it.  They have only recently turned yellow.
Soon it will return to it's winter home in the garage.  This time it will have 8 green lemons and many blossoms.

The last of the furniture arrived this week.
It will be so nice to all be able to sit at the table for the holidays.

In celebration I made cauliflower ham soup and a batch of pumpkin muffins.  Brett and I gave it a test drive and declared it all good.

Ready to head into November and the holiday season.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Nesting Season Has Arrived

Another Autumn season has arrived.
A season for warm drinks, soft throws, good books and . . .

nesting.  Plenty of feathering the nest to make things cozy for the cooler months ahead.
As the family room furniture continues to trickle in, it has been fun to come up with some new fall vignettes.
I have done away with a coffee table in favor of two ottomans.
I like the versatility of being able to prop our feet up on them or move them around for additional seating, if necessary.

With the days getting shorter, it was time to pull out the candles and put the batteries back into the battery operated candle lanterns.
So nice to warm up the evenings or the cloudy days, like today.

I enjoyed rearranging the hutch a bit.
I've ordered a new dining table that will better suit our needs in this house.  No more pulling odd chairs from here and there when the family is all here.  The table is supposed to be delivered in a couple weeks.  

While waiting for the table to be delivered, I've been playing around with how I will set it for the fall season.
I found the prettiest plates at the thrift shop recently.  It's hard to tell in the photo, but they have a bit of leaves, corn, gourds and acorns on the border.  Made by Pfaltzgraff and only 49 cents a piece was a deal that I couldn't pass up.  The glass turkey, pumpkin soup bowls and candle holder were also thrift finds from previous years.  To me the fun is pulling them together to make a coordinated, collected table scape.
Nesting at it's finest.

My nesting instincts often spill over to the thrift shop.
While there last week I overheard someone say that a tree had fallen over the road I needed to travel to get home.  It landed on a car and brought down the power lines with it.  Traffic would be stopped both ways for hours.  Oh dear!  To pass the time while waiting I went around filling the cart with fall themed treasures from the past.
These two yellow ware bowls with the brown bands weren't right for my house, but I will always love them.  I think they lend themselves to beautiful wood furniture, gourds, pumpkins and sunflowers.  All things that could be found there on that day.  I set up a little vignette and snapped a picture.  It satisfied my fall nesting interests while passing the time.  It still took me an hour and a half to get home.
Thankfully nobody was injured in the car that the tree landed on.
I have no idea why that tree fell as it was a lovely evening.
I rolled down the car windows, cranked up the radio and enjoyed the (long) ride home.  By the time I got home it was dark.  So nice to have the cozy candle light to greet me.

Happy Fall, Friends!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Busy Moving

Big changes have been taking place here.

A large portion of our furniture made it's way into this moving truck headed to our son's new home.

We've been getting by without family room and dining room furniture.  It was a wonderful opportunity to give the floors and baseboards a good cleaning.  New furniture has been ordered.

Once we got everything moved to his new home, we helped him get his condo in the city ready to sell.  He moved here after graduating from college and starting his career.  That was 12 years ago.
Once the place was empty, I felt a bit nostalgic thinking about how much has changed since he first moved here.  Another one of those "where does the time go" moments.

Even though he is now a grown man, I asked him to let me get one last picture with the city in the background.

The new furniture has begun to trickle in.
So far I am very happy with how it looks and functions.
If I ever get nostalgic for the old furniture I know where to find it.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Fall Inspiration at the Furniture Store

Well, it's still HOT here.  The kind of heat that has worn out it's welcome as far as I'm concerned.  So, while I have nothing against summer, I am just yearning for the cooler temperatures to arrive.  I want to be enjoying the outdoors without melting.  
Yesterday we escaped the heat and spent a few hours in the air conditioned Hickory Furniture Mart.  One of my favorite stores to visit is an Amish made furniture shop.  The craftsmanship of the furniture is so impressive to me.  I also enjoyed how they had decorated for the fall season.  This large dining table with seating for 12 greeted us when we first walked in.  I could just picture each chair filled with family members enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together.  A fire would be crackling in the fireplace and, perhaps, the snow would be falling outside the windows.  Ha!  On a blistering hot day, one can dream.

I would love to curl up in this bed with a good book.
Unfortunately the scale of this furniture was too large for the guest room we are trying to furnish.

I'm not quite ready to decorate for fall.  I did, however, enjoy gathering inspiration for when the time comes.

Sitting by a campfire on a cool, crisp evening sounds heavenly right about now.

This display makes me anticipate fall baking and those delicious fall flavors.  Pumpkin Spice, Apple Everything, Cinnamon, Cloves & Nutmeg.

All of these pretty fall decorations are getting me in the mood to start adding a few touches to my own home.  This week our temperatures are forecast to drop into the 80s.  One day the high is only supposed to be 79.  Woo Hoo!!!  I think that might be all that's needed to start the decorating process.  I may begin with the hutch.  I like the simple way they decorated the one above.

I'm nowhere near being ready to see Halloween decorations here as they look out of place to me when it's full on summer outside.  When the leaves start to change and cooler temperatures are here to stay, that will be the time for jack o' lanterns.
I did have to laugh at this display in the Amish buggy.

While we didn't find furniture at the Amish shop, it was fun to wander through and be inspired.  
We did find what we were looking for in one of the other shops.  Awaiting furniture delivery will be a pleasant way to pass these late summer days.  My son has recently bought his first house.  We have donated some of our furniture to him.  I now feel right at home in his house :D.

Enjoy this last August weekend!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

What Happens in the Courtyard

When we created this courtyard patio space, we planted jasmine at the base of the trellis and watched it grow and fill in nicely.  Just what we had in mind to offer privacy from our close proximity neighbor :).
This is how it looked last summer.
A late winter freeze threatened to do it in.  In fact when spring rolled around it was totally brown.  It was a bit devastating to lose it after watching it thrive for a few years.  Brett was set to dig it up until I noticed a few green leaves at the base of each plant.  Rather than surrender it just yet, we decided to see if in time it would rebound.
Knowing that it wouldn't look too impressive this season, I planted a row of morning glory and moonflower seeds along the base of the trellis.  For some reason only the seed on each end germinated.
As summer has evolved we have been watching these vines climb up the trellis.  Not quite as pretty as the jasmine, but at least it's green and growing.
Since they haven't bloomed, I'm not sure which flower to expect.
The other evening I went to see if there were any buds yet and was surprised to see this:

~ Ipomoea Alba ~

One big beautiful moonflower.

For a relatively small patio situated so close to the next house, a lot goes on out there if one is paying attention.  In the spring this cardinal was a daily visitor.  Flying from window to window banging his beak into the window, it was easy to tell when he was here.  Oftentimes his mate would be out there with him.

This sweet little chipmunk has discovered the bird feeder.
I enjoy watching him along with the birds while drinking my morning coffee in the living room.

Apparently someone else is visiting the patio during the night.
On a recent morning the feeder had been knocked to the ground and I spied the little chipmunk wondering where his food source had gone.

Standing on his tippy toes for a closer look.
Behind him grow our two tomato plants.
Upon closer inspection I found the night visitor had helped himself to several tomatoes along with the bird food.

This visitor is my least favorite.
You have to really be paying attention to spot him there hiding between the patio and the siding on the house.
I know that snakes have their place.  I just wish it was nowhere near my place.  One day I was stepping onto the patio from the house to water my plants and nearly set my foot down on him or one of his many, many relatives.  EEK, I'm not sure who ran/slithered away faster from that close encounter.