If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mike's Christmas Gift

Stephen and Bonnie fulfilled one of Mike's wishes on his list. They wrapped and presented him with this HUGE spatula.  (No that wasn't on his list!  Who knew they made such a thing?)

Attached to the spatula was a printout with clipart and wording to explain that he also got twenty-one chickens! Almost as soon as all the wrapping paper landed, he was out the door and up at Stephen and Bonnie's barn to check them out. Upon return, he claimed, "Those are some pretty chickens!"

Part of his flock

Fresh feed
Looking them over closely
This one has sort of a necklace of grey/black feathers.
There are red ones, black ones, and white ones.  I don't know much about chickens but they do look pretty good to me, too.  The next project will be to expand the pens out at Mike's barn and get these new girls placed in their new home.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Yes, we got a little bit of snow on the Saturday after Christmas!

Just a little dusting...
It was a wee bit deeper on the deck.
It was pretty.

Design Consultant

I am proud to add a plate to the shingle I have hanging by my door - Design Consultant!  (No, I don't really have a shingle and who knows what it would say if I did - klutz, goofball, cheapo, wanta-be...) 

Recently, my daughter, Bridgette, began making garden flags to give as gifts or to sell to folks who like a custom look.  I might be just a wee tad bit biased, but I think she does a marvelous job!  See:

See, she even has a repeat customer - other than me!  (If you would like your own custom garden flag, you can contact her!)

A few days ago she was working on Christmas gifts and was stitching one for my daughter-in-law, Jessica.  Jessica and Bryan have a new house and they are having all sorts of fun making it home.  Anyway, one of the things on Jessica's wish list was garden flags.  So, Bridgette had drawn her name and decided to fill that wish. 

When we went to Sir's Fabrics a few weeks back, we had stumbled across some outdoor fabric remnants.  I picked up a piece that I'm going to use to freshen up my deck sofa and another couple of pieces that I have no idea how I'm going to use - but it was a bargain and I loved the pattern and I've learned not to let that get away!

As soon as Bridgette saw a couple of pieces of the outdoor fabric, she said she thought of Jessica.  I would describe Jess's taste as a combination of earthy, modern, jazzy, natural, and elegant.  So, I guess that is why she fits so well in this family - eclectic is how that sort of design is referenced.  She leans toward browns - tan, chocolate, caramel, etc., greens - sage, seafoam, olive, etc., blues - robin's egg, grey-blue, etc., rust, russet, etc.  Her choices are always beautiful and usually something I would not have noticed till she picks them! 

Anyway, Bridgette found a paisley-type print that she thought looked like Jessica and got it for the base of the garden flag.  Immediately Bridgette's creative brain went to work on how the finished flag was goint to look.  She wanted it to be an all-season one that could be displayed at any time of year.  Since we are southerners, it seemed natural to me that Bridgette thought of putting an initial on it. 

So, this past week, I got an email asking me if the garden flag needed an extra personalization element.  At that point, the flag had the printed background, an oatmeal-colored oval, and a printed B appliqued on it.  I was consulted by her asking me if she should also add their last name.  Then, I was consulted to know what color the last name should be stitched. 

I showed the work-in-progress to my friend and co-worker, Kris, and we recommended the color and encouraged that she add the last name.  I think we did a great job on this project, what do you think?
Oh!  And, Bridgette did pretty well, too!

Yes, this was a shameless plug for my daughter and her work-from-home business.  Yes, I was compensated for this post - she showers me with love and some of her experimental projects!

Friday, December 28, 2012


Some projects are started from scratch and others are a result of recycling.  I recently tackled one of the recycling ones and I'm quite pleased with the results.  You may remember the post that featured a re-do of this stool. 

It was a bargain and I liked the upholstery of the embroidered floral stripes on a background of black silk.  However, it just wasn't happening in the bedroom where I decided was to be its home.  So, off with the embroidered silk flowers and on with a tone-on-tone damask leaf print. 
Maybe some day I will get brave and tackle a slip-cover for the chair and the two will match...

At any rate, I hung onto the silk embroidered fabric.  After a trip to the dry cleaner, it was ready for another project.  I thought it would fit in with the decor of the den and sort of further tie my merlot silk drapes with the neutral furnishings and infuse my love of florals.  So, I knew the piece was destined to become pillows.

At first I thought about making a cover for the large throw pillows on the couch like I did HERE or HERE.  I really like the idea of keeping them as matching pairs, though, and I would have to piece something else with the embroidered silk to make that work.  Not really the look I had in mind.  So, after digging around in my sewing room a bit, I pulled out a couple of rectangular lumbar-type pillows that my friend Angela and I had snatched up for a couple of dollars at Old Time Pottery.  I dug a little bit more and found the remnants that were left after Jessica and I crafted her a pillow or two.  (You can read about that HERE.)  It is a simple little tone on tone print in a golden cream color.  Then, I dug into a recently acquired stash of trims that I picked up at the local Dollar Mart which coordinated beautifully.  Voila!  Custom-crafted decor!

One of the new pillows rests on this wing-back side chair near my revamped frame and floor-lamp.

The other one rests here in the rocker my Daddy gave me several years ago.

Here is a close-up of one of the pretty little pillows.
I like a recycle project when it turns out as pleasing as this one!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Recap

We faced Christmas with mixed emotions this year.  We mourn the loss of Mike's dad, share concern for those less fortunate, and rejoice in celebration with family.  Today, the day after, has been a time for me to simply relax and luxuriate in a way.  Mike was off to work - AGAIN and Toby and I had the house to ourselves.  It has been quiet and restful.  That was just what was needed after all the reveling.

Our celebration started off last Saturday when we joined Mike's extended family.  His mother and her sister have traditionally gathered all their family together for a feast.  It has grown into a pot-luck affair since the children and grandchildren are grown.  So, if a person simply tastes everything on the buffet, that is a heaping plate!

The grown folks are chatty and the children are boisterous and everybody seems to have a really good time of feasting and fellowship.  We gather at Mike's mother's house upon the hill across the pasture from us.  This is the view off our back porch:

She has plenty of room for us all to spread out and sit at a table to dig into the delicious dishes everybody contributes.  She and Miss Peg (Mike's aunt) and Mr. Frank (Mike's uncle) did the set up and provide the backbone of the meal.  Peg and Frank's son, Jacky, came early to help cook the country ham.  Mr. Frank was the primary slicer of the turkey and the ham.  There was potato salad, green beans, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, creamed corn, rolls, corn-light-bread, cranberries, pies, cakes, dessert squares, cookies, and lots more.  I ate so much I could hardly breathe!

There were cousins and nephews and a niece and children galore in attendance.  Some perched in the dining room, some in the farmhouse kitchen at a couple of tables, some up in the bonus room with the children and babies, and some in the sunroom.  We ate and laughed and talked and ate and laughed and talked.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, Mike and I hosted our family.  I cooked most of the day on Saturday and set the tables.  Then, Sunday morning bright and early I was up heating the food I'd cooked and cooking some more.  (I did let Mike squeeze into the kitchen to cook up some sausage and biscuits for breakfast!)  Bridgette, Corey, Lillie, Lydia, Stephen, and Bonnie came for a late lunch after church.  We feasted on smoked ham, yeast rolls, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, cranberry salad and a plethora of sweets that the daughters brought.  I ate so much I could hardly breathe!

We gathered in the den and exchanged gifts. 
Lillie and Lydia went first with the opening.  They were excited over PJs and other clothing as well as Legos, dolls, and doll strollers. 
Lillie got a fancy belt with lots of bling that we all envied.  She also got a baby doll that Bridgette did some babysitting for between photo shots.
Lydia got a baby, too, and she immediately set to rocking it just like folks do with a real baby. 
Stephen seemed pleased with his orange and white checked shirt.  I had to take several shots to get a glimpse of his face peeking out over the top.
Bonnie's smile radiates with each opening and Stephen seems to be reserving judgement.  I was so glad that they drew names using drawnames.com and I could check in and see their lists.  It made my shopping easier - especially after I decided not to just get the guys the same things and the gals the same things.  I figured they might want something different from a set of wrenches or a personalized bag from Thirty One.  So, I checked their lists and checked them twice...
Oh, the guys still got a tool, like this ratcheting wrench by Kobalt that Corey is checking out.  Mike had seen it advertised on TV and thought every guy on our list needed one - I think he must have wanted one himself!
Bridgette asked for white towels because when they get mud, makeup, or grass stains a little bleach will restore their pristine-ness.  I think she liked them and the Origami Owl necklace all the daughters got.
As expected, the tablets for Lillie and Lydia seemed to be the hit gift.  Stephen was amazed at the techno-savvy-ness when three-year-old Lydia opened hers she exclaimed, "A tablet!"  Then, immediately after it was turned on her little fingers started sliding and touching to get to apps she wanted to give a try.  Digital natives!
I don't know who was helping whom in this shot.  Both of them seem mesmerized, don't they?
My parents dropped in after their visit to Granny's and Daddy had to check out all the gadgets everybody opened.  Then, Stephen and Bonnie were off to their next stop - Bonnie's family gathering.  Corey, Bridgette, Lillie, and Lydia were off to church.  In a couple of hours, Bryan and Jessica stopped in from their trek to see Bryan's grandmother in eastern Tennessee.  Once again, we ate and I ate so much I could hardly breathe!
 Jessica seems thrilled with her gift as Bryan inspects and reserved judgement.  Doesn't that look seem familiar?
Bryan had to send a message to Corey showing that he was reserving judgement till he knew whether the gift was a keeper.
Evidently, the lunch box works!  Jessica didn't seem so sure about the size of it, though, especially when he suggested she fill it up each day.
Mom seems to like the personalized pottery piece from Mudd Puddles Pottery I ordered for her.  It did turn out beautifully. 
All of this was exhausting for poor Toby and he had to get a little rest.  Finally, he just curled up and napped!
We all had a big day and I think we all wound up tired, content, and glad we had the time to share together! 

The next morning, we gathered at Mike's mother's for a breakfast of country ham, eggs, sausage balls, gravy, biscuits, hash brown casserole, and sweet rolls.  Mike's brother, Jim, and his entire family came as well as Mike's two children and their families.  We gifted each of the youngsters and then played a game of Dirty Santa with gifts for the adults.  There were a couple or three hot items - a griddle, a set of tools, a cooler.  So, some folks had the opportunity to choose a gift more than once.  Mostly, we all simply shared a good time. 

We also got to share our gifts with Mike's daughter Laura and her children. 
 Some gifts required studied concentration to tear into - like the one Cassie is wrestling.
 Evie immediately had to don her necklace being the girly-girl she is.  After all, a girl's got to look accessorized!
 Again, the tablets were a big hit for the granddaughters.  I think Cassie's face shows how she feels about hers.
Evie was mesmerized with a coloring app and wanted to color a Disney princess over and over, changing the look each time.
Again, I wonder who is teaching who when it comes to this technology!

All-in-all, we had a very blessed holiday.  How fortunate we are to be able to shower one another with gifts and share time together over-indulging in delicious foods!  The memories of these good times will last forever and our gratitude for our many blessings can never be fully expressed.  I hope you and yours made life-long memories to treasure and reveled in abundance as well!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours...

We hope your Christmas is full of warm and treasured memory-making times!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Mis-Adventures in Feast Preparing

How is it that I got to be "The Grandmother" whose house everybody comes over the river and through the woods to see on the holiday?  Wasn't it just the day before yesterday I was the young girl flipping around and grumping because we had to get all our work done so we could go to MY grandmother's house over the river and through the woods.  Because I'm sure it was JUST yesterday that I was forcing my own children to get all their chores done so we could go to my mother's house over the river and through the woods.  How did this happen?  How come I didn't get that "grandmother" training where all the food comes out tasting like Martha or Ina prepared it and looking like Norman Rockwell painted it?  How on earth did those ancestors get everything prepared and done at the same time?  When did they sweep the dust bunnies up off the floor?  When did they swish the layer of dust off the furniture?  When did they scrub the toilets and wipe the water spots and toothpaste off the bathroom sinks?  How is it that they were still standing upright and smiling when we arrived and not bent over, aching, and frowning and cursing as they realized they hadn't prepared something?  Why didn't somebody give me THAT training?

Our children are coming to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts and eat the feast I'm preparing tomorrow.  We're having two types of ham, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, green beans, rolls, desserts and cranberry salad.  (Well, at least that is what I've got planned!  Right now we might just have hams, a loaf of sour dough bread from the grocery, and cranberry salad while we sit on the unswept floor and try not to disturb the protective layer of dust on the furniture.)

When the holidays roll around, some foods are just...expected.  Cranberries at Christmas and Thanksgiving are expected.  I'm glad because I like cranberries at any time of the year - and especially at these holiday feasts!  One of my favorite dishes from childhood is a congealed salad my mother made with cranberry sauce.  Here is my mis-adventure at trying to recapture that delicacy:

  • Gather your ingredients.
  • Mumble a few curses under your breath because nobody on earth will know or care except you and Toby because you are the only two around and Toby won't tell anybody.  The curses are mumbled when you realize that you accidentally picked up jellied cranberry sauce instead of whole cranberry sauce and because you got cherry gelatin instead of black cherry gelatin.  You are determined to make this work.  So, you don't go back to the store but just persevere!
  • Following the directions on the gelatin, boil two cups of water in a microwavable mixing bowl.
  • While this is zapping, open the crushed pineapple and whole cranberry sauce jellied sauce and mumble a few more curses.
  • Mix the pineapple and sauce together smushing the lumpy sauce against the side and bottom of a beautiful glass bowl to get rid of those lumps.

  • Carefully remove the boiling water from the microwave because if you slosh it and it spills on your toes, you will have to loudly mumble curse words and Toby will run over to make sure you are alright and look at you like you are crazy.
  • Mix the gelatin into the boiling water completely.
  • Sprinkle the chopped pecans atop the pineapple/lumpy cranberry sauce mix and mash your lips together because you keep thinking that it would be so much better with the whole cranberries in it.
  • Suddenly feel all warm and genius-like because you have a brilliant idea - dried cranberries!
  • Drop a handful, or two, or three...Oh, what the heck!  Drop a good four handfuls into the hot gelatin liquid and let them sit for a minute while you wipe up the splatters of stickiness that you caused.

  • Go ahead and wet a paper towel and wipe it up off the floor, too, because if you don't you will be cursing later at the sticky spot.  While you are wiping the counter and before you get to the floor you will notice that SOMEBODY has already spilled something else and there is a trail of drippiness going down the side of the cabinet and at the base there on the floor.  (Not you, of course.  SOMEBODY else did this because you would never leave a mess like that and forget about it till it dried and looked all yucky to be discovered later and cause somebody else to mumble curses!)  Then, get you another wad of paper towels and scrub the counter and the floor good.

  • Pour the liquid gelatin and softened, dried cranberries into the pineapple/sauce/pecan mixture and give it a good stir.
  • Get more paper towels and clean up the mess you made trying to pour, stir, and take a picture at the same time because you don't have that much coordination and Lord knows you don't want somebody else to come along and find the sticky mess YOU made!
  • Give the whole concoction a good stir and carefully shift the beautiful bowl and mixture over to the fridge so it can begin to 'set up' and get all jelly-like.
  • Leave it in the fridge for about an hour and give it another gentle stir to mix in the pecans that have all floated to the top.  Be careful not to trip over the dog when you get to this step or you might almost tip the entire concoction out onto the floor and mumble more curse words. 
  • Cover with that clear plastic wrap that gets all clingy to itself and you have to stretch and pull and tear the first piece and then mumble curse words as you wad it up and throw it away before you get a nice flat piece stretched across the top of the bowl and tear it off the roll. 
  • Smile to yourself and say, "Now!" to Toby because you feel a sense of accomplishment at having one dish ready for all the family.

*Note:  I stressed that you should put this in a pretty glass bowl.  That is something that my mother and grandmothers taught me in the training to be THE GRANDMOTHER.  Presentation is important.  You eat with your eyes before you do with your mouth.  A colorful food like this adds to the appearance of the table or buffet and everything looks and tastes better in a beautiful bowl!  No southern woman worth her salt would even consider not having something for the holidays served in a beautiful bowl!

*Another Note:  It is easy to forget this dish because it is one of the first you prepared and it gets pushed to the back of the fridge and everything else will be coming off the stove or out of the oven.  So, make yourself a note and post it somewhere that somebody in the family will see and remember to take it out of the fridge before you eat because it is a dish that you and THE GRANDFATHER would get absolutely sick of if you had to eat it - just the two of you.  Yes, this is the voice of experience speaking because I remember my mother and grandmother making just this mistake!  Let's hope I don't tomorrow!

I would advise you to prepare this dish near the beginning of your preparation stages so that you can feel that sense of accomplishment because there are loads of other dishes, lots of cleaning, and gifts to finish wrapping and beribboning and you will feel overwhelmed at all you have to do.  You are going to need that little triumph!  Trust me.  I know.  I am THE GRANDMOTHER now!

Happy Feast Preparation to all you other GRANDMOTHERS! 

(If you would like this recipe in a more concise form, you could just go HERE.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is my Daddy's birthday.  Not every girl gets to have a Daddy like me.  I know how lucky I've been and cherish the blessing he is.
A child at heart...

Boundless sense of humor

Supportive of others
Full of exuberance and joy
Lover of nature and agriculture

Persistent and tenacious worker
Dedicated to family

Socializer extraordinaire
Opinionated and thoughtful
Happy Birthday, Daddy!