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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

So, Mama's Pumpin' Iron

Yep, you read it correctly.

My Mama is pumpin' iron!

I just learned about it yesterday and I am not in the least bit surprised.  After all, this is the woman who raised me.  The woman who used to milk cows and rake hay and cut tobacco and haul silage and drag furniture out of a burning house and shoot buzzards and threaten-me-to-within-an-inch-of-my-life...

So, why would anybody be surprised that this woman is pumpin' iron?

Well, Mike was.

(The photo above is one where she had just threatened my sister and me 
and forced us to stand beside her in a pose for the camera and smile.  
Can't you see all that?)

See, this is really how the conversation came about.  I stumbled across astutely discovered a bargain at our local Goodwill the other day that was something he needed - a cell phone clip.  (Why he needed it is a story for another day.)  So, he asked me why I was in the Goodwill in the first place.  (He's not so fond of my Goodwill treasure hunting but that is a story for another day.)  So, I just explained that my Mama mentioned that she needed some dumb-bells.

I couldn't even continue with my explanation.  When I said that, he gave me the most incredulous, shocked look and kind of went into a rant.  "What in the WORLD does your mother need dumb-bells for?  She has suffered with knee trouble, had knee surgery.  Then, suffered with hip/back trouble, had back surgery.  Recently suffered with hip trouble on her other side and has been undergoing physical therapy and steroid treatments.  Why on EARTH would she need dumb-bells?"  And then he grunted that exasperated grunt.

So, after a brief pause to let him catch his breath and recompose himself to a state of listening, I proceeded to explain that she had been using these dumb-bells in her therapy and mentioned that she needed to get her some weights to continue her work-outs at home.  Since I was going to be right across the street at the Walgreen's getting medication for our old, decrepit bodies, I volunteered to look for her some weights and that is how I came to be in the local Goodwill.

It was my lucky day!  First, I found these cute little weights:
(No, those specks around them are not dirt on my floor.  
I am a tidy housekeeper and would never have dirt and such on my floors!  
Well, maybe just a little speck or two...)

They were ninety-nine cents each and went into my cart.  The thing is, Mama had said she needs three-pound weights and these didn't have any designation to tell me how heavy they were.  Since I am not experienced with pumpin' iron, I couldn't really heft them around and determine how heavy they were.  So, I kept digging and looking.  Then, I found this pair of weights:

I didn't have my reading glasses with me.  So, I couldn't see what the little inscription on the side said and didn't know if it was a three or a five or an eight and there was no young whipper-snapper lolling around to read that for me.  So, they went into the cart and I kept digging and looking.  Then, I found this pair of weights:
(No, that is not a grass clipping or a piece of mulch lying on my floor beside them.
I am a tidy housekeeper and would never have grass clippings or pieces of mulch and such on my floors!  
Well, maybe just a little clipping or piece or two...)

So, I came home with three sets of dumb-bells for my Mama and spent only about $15 which is less than half what they would be at retail price.  Score!  (That is supposed to be a metaphor but do you score in pumpin' iron?  Maybe not.  It was a score at getting a bargain, though!)

When I got to my glasses, I learned that I had come home with a pair of three-pound weights (on the far left), a pair of eight-pound weights (in the middle) and who knows what those cute ones on the right weigh but I think they are two or three pounds.

Mike was still shaking his head at the thought of my Mama pumpin' iron and mentioned that Mama had only expressed a need for three-pound weights and wondered what I was going to do with the others.  I suggested that she might begin training the two of us in pumpin' iron and he could use those manly eight-pounders and got another one of those incredulous, shocked looks and a grunt.  I can see that happening, though, can't you see her doing that?
(Doesn't this look like a woman who is one of those hard-pushing trainers?)

For some reason, Mike didn't seem to think that would be happening.  Then, I suggested that perhaps Mama would work up to the eight-pound weights as her therapy progressed.  After all, she had already advanced from two-and-a-half-pound weights to three-pound weights

At that I got a true guffaw!  After he had wiped the tears and caught his breath from laughing so hard, Mike informed me, "If your Mama moves up to working out with a pair of eight-pound weights, she might get mad at your Daddy and whip his butt!"

(Only he didn't say butt.  The word he used begins with an A.)

I can see that, too, though.  Can't you?  I mean, look at her...  all five-foot-four of her...
Iron-Pumpin' Machine that she is...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Busy Week, ahem... Actively Engaged Days

What a week!  Sunday was a day for sharing.

I shared what little I know, ahem... my vast knowledge about canning and freezing with my daughter-in-law and her friend Kali.  (I really have a hard time figuring out what this poor girl's name is because Mike, Stephen, and even her husband, Mark, tease her by calling her Kallie and Kathy and who-knows-what-else.  And when you are sitting and chatting with one another, you rarely call somebody by her name...So, when I got ready to introduce her the other day, my mind just went blank.  Sorry, Kathy Kallie Katherine Kimberly Katy, ahem... Kali!)


Anyway, I guided these sweet girls through canning six beautiful jars of green beans that were fresh from Stephen and Bonnie's garden and picked and snapped and washed by her!  (What you don't realize is that she has never aspired to be a domestic goddess and has always been an outdoor girl and is now a business maven during her off-outdoor-girl time, which is six-days-per-week, since she and Stephen own their own business.  Read about that HERE and HERE.)  Her beans turned out to look like blue-ribbon-winners at anybody's state fair, though.

At this point, you may be wondering why I'm not sharing photographs of this momentous occasion.  Well, there is a perfectly good explanation and it might have something to do with my sitting at the island tasting a splash of Arrington Vineyards' Firefly Rose (that they brought along) and yack-yack-yacking and never even thinking of taking a photo of these cute, sweet, hard-working girls I'm bossing around, ahem... mentoring through the preservation-of-food lessons.


The girls also sliced and blanched and chilled and bagged five quarts of yellow squash and five quarts of zucchini squash.  It turned out to be beautiful as well!  Of course, this culinary delight which was 'put-up' for future meals when we are in the dead of winter, for example, was also grown right in these girls' gardens and picked by their own sweet hands (and maybe the rough, calloused hands of their husbands, too).

Do you see me puffed with pride over these girls?


Monday was a day the hubs took a day off from work and we had the chance spend the day together.  Wednesday was another day for my friend Margaret and I to do some more work on school-work, ahem... Refreshing and Updating.  Friday was a day for a follow-up visit to the doctor for Mike and, of course I went along to find out what the doctor had to say because who knows what it would sound like coming from Mike?  Somehow he seems to hear medical instructions a little bit differently than I do.  You know, like, "go home and keep your leg propped up," turned into, "I'm going out to the barn to feed and water the chickens and do a little grass mowing."

So, I'm spending this Saturday morning trying to catch up and wrangle the house back into submission, ahem... leisurely sipping coffee and I might swish over the floors after I nibble a piece of toast.

Monday, June 24, 2013


It is always interesting to see what ways the granddaughters have redecorated my house after they have returned to their own home.

One such time was when a Learning Experiment took place.  You can read about that HERE.

I've noticed that Lillie really seems to like things to be in nice straight lines.  For example, once after she had visited, I noticed that everything on the guest bathroom vanity had been set into a straight line up against the back splash.  The candlestick holder, the bowl for jewelry, the fragrance pot, the toothbrush cup, the soap dispenser, the lotion dispenser, and the towel were all in a nice straight line across the back of the vanity.

The other day she worked on the back porch.  I wish I had snapped a picture before I moved the furniture back to where it usually sits.  The drink tub and stand, the glider, the end table, the pot of flowers, and the sofa were all in a nice straight line up against the rail.

When I realized what had taken place, I stopped moving things and shot the photo above.  Do you notice what she had done?  Look a little closer.
Yep, every pillow...all in a row.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sweet, Thoughtful Surprises

I'm not big on surprises usually.  But sometimes a surprise comes along that is just wonderful.

I have a wonderful husband.  

Sometimes more rugged than sophisticated.

Not perfect.

Just wonderful.

Sometimes he is sweet.

Sometimes he is gentle.

Sometimes he is thoughtful.

Sometimes he is considerate.

Sometimes he is silly.

 Sometimes he surprises me.

This week he left me a sweet, thoughtful surprise.

Isn't that wonderful!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trying Something New

Sometimes I feel like I get into a rut.  I don't know what makes me do it.  I find I wear the same three outfits in a rotation or I prepare the same handful of meals in a rotation.  Isn't it nice sometimes to just shake things up?

Well, I had gotten a little bit tired of being in my menu/recipe rut.  So, I started recording Paula Deen's cooking shows and The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I also started following The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond's, blog.  I also started pinning almost every recipe I thought would be remotely easy and sinfully delicious on Pinterest.  I also started clipping recipes for my ZipList recipe collection.  The next thing I did was go back through all this amalgamation of ideas I had collected.  Then, I made a list of things I wanted to try first - well all the main dishes, anyway.
(As you can see, at one point I got this list confused with my grocery list!)

Of course I first wanted to try all those chocolaty, gooey, delicious desserts first!  But, I forced myself to only look for something to spice up the meal part of our menu.

Then, I began to access those online recipes I had pinned and clipped and bookmarked and we have been shaking things up around here.  The good news is, Mike even commented that he liked the way we have been eating lately!

The first thing I tried was something that claimed to be lower in calories and looked simple and tasty.
You can find the recipe for Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs HERE.

I made those Chicken Kabobs and they were indeed Yummy!  We at them over a rice pilaf and had a side of fresh pineapple chunks and it was a delicious, lower calorie meal for us.

The next thing I tried was Baked Cheesy Chicken Chimichangas.  See, I was sticking to the lower calorie version of one of our favorites.  Aren't you proud of me?  I was.  They did indeed turn out to be tasty and in some ways better than that you could get at a restaurant - You know except I did the grocery shopping for ingredients instead of somebody else and I did the cooking instead of somebody else and I did the clean-up instead of somebody else.  You can find the Chimichanga recipe I adapted HERE and my version HERE.

To celebrate Father's Day and honor Mike and my Daddy, I tried Loaded Nachos with home-made Pico de Gallo and we had a Nacho buffet for everybody to enjoy.  I used The Pioneer Woman's recipe and you can find that HERE.  It was an easy feast for a crowd and seemed to be gobbled up with gusto by everybody!  Plus, there were leftovers that Mike and I had the next day.

Doesn't this chunky Pico de Gallo look delicious?  It was!

Even after that we still had leftovers.  Now, I LOVE leftovers but Mike is good for one revisit but rarely any more after that.  So, I took the beef and bean filling and created Chimichangas by adapting the other new recipe.  You can find my newly adapted recipe HERE.

I'll share some more of what we have been trying that is new in later posts.  Or, you can go to Recipes Out of the Blue if you just cannot wait.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Recent Project

I have a To-Do List this summer.

(Did you notice the capital letters?  That means it is important to me and I REALLY intend to get those things on that List done!  See...capital letter again.)

The first thing on the list has been for me to recoup from the sinus/ear infection and rest up.  I know I am getting really old to lead a fast-paced life, but, still, this school-year really sapped my energy.

One of the things on my list was to spruce up the sofa on our back porch.  The cushions were originally bought as a make-do sort of fix.  You see, this sofa frame is one of those things which belonged to some dead relative of Mike's.  So, even if we didn't like it and even if it didn't sit well and even if it was hideous and horrible, we would have to keep it because SOMEBODY is very sentimental and leans toward being a hoarder.  And the good news is that the sofa is not any of those things - well, except it did belong to the dead relative and Mike inherited it.  It is really a comfortable sitter and I like it and it is nice and wonderful.  Only...
It didn't have any cushions when I first met it.  It was just a bare, sad, lonely frame crying out for some cushy goodness.

So, I went to places like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Trees-N-Trends, Lowe's, and Home Depot looking for cushions for that bare, sad, lonely, crying out for some cushy goodness sofa frame.  I had in mind something Martha-ish.  (Now that she is out of the Big House she is in almost every store imaginable, isn't she?)  The least expensive thing I could find was about $100 for one set of cushions...and it would need three cushions...and even then those cushions would not fit precisely...and I could buy a whole new sofa, cushions, and companion chair for about $400.


So, I tried to figure out a way to make-do.  I stumbled upon a sale and bought several chair seat cushions.  I think I got about eight of them for less than $40.  We made that work for a while but, honestly, nobody wanted to sit there because those loose cushions just kept falling over and tumbling around and attacking whoever was sitting on it and it just wasn't very comfortable.  So, I wound up giving the cushions to my daughter, Bridgette, who turned them into something wonderful at her house on a Craft Day.  So, it was back to the drawing board for me and our sofa.

First, I thought I would just buy a couple of long foam cushions and cover them.  Then, I remembered my Bay Window Seat project.  The one piece of foam for that was about $100.  Then, there would be fabric.  Then, there would be sewing.  Then, there would be wrestling the alligator-like piece of foam into the cover.  And...I decided buying the pre-made cushions might be a better option.  So, I began pinching my pennies and planning my budget to include this luxury...

Then, one day while I was at Old Time Pottery looking for an outdoor umbrella after a spring storm had destroyed ours and... there was my solution... a chaise cushion.  It was exactly the correct length and the price was only about $25!  Deal!  I decided that these were a bit thin and wrangled three of them into my cart - two for the sitter and one for the back.  I chose this cute, snappy, red, geometric print that looked so cheerful and I thought it would provide a wonderful contrast to our green and white house.  Then, when SOMEBODY came home from work, the cute, snappy, red, geometric print that looked so cheerful and contrasty to me...did not look so to SOMEBODY.  So, I was back to the store with that set in a couple of days and got a bright-but-conventional-striped set of cushions that my daughter-in-law, Jessica, helped me select.

Those have served us well but the stripey colors were looking rather tired, sad, and faded. Plus, they had been subject to abuse from the cats and Scientific Trials.

So...I began looking for something to update them last fall when there was a wonderful sale on outdoor fabrics at Sir's Fabrics.  The table with odd pieces of outdoor fabric was labeled $4.99 per yard.  Deal!

I found a print that is all scrolly and geometric and modern and traditional all at the same time.  The colors are black, cream, and an olivey-hunter green.  It is perfect to coordinate with everything out there.  Plus, it is fresh and up-to-date.  If you don't believe me about this being something that is new and fresh, just look at THIS PIN of mine on one of my Pinterest Boards.

So, last week I set to it and stitched up some simple covers.

I'm not sure if I like the looseness of the fit of the covers and I may go back and do a bit more stitching to make them fit more crisply and snugly.  For now, though, I like the freshness and trendiness and cushy comfort of the sofa on the porch!

Plus, the bonus is, I have about a yard left and, when I can think of what I want to do with it, I will have a whole new project for free.  Deal!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Refreshing and Updating

What a wonderful day I've had today.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time with a friend from my college days.  I don't mean those days when I was in my early forties and returned to school and I felt like I was trying to wrestle an alligator and get myself into a career where I could support myself, feel fulfilled, and share my passion for literature and writing...I mean those days long, long ago when I was barely more than a girl and thought I had the world by the horns and could lead it around to do my bidding.

My friend, Margaret, and I went through undergraduate school at the same time - often taking the same classes.  I got to know her brother, sister, and parents back then and learned that we had similar upbringings.    We moved on after college - married, had babies - she had three boys and I a girl and boy.  (Her eldest are about the same ages as my two.)  Later, we reconnected when her brother married and our children were members of his wedding party.  Still later, we stumbled upon one another here or there along the way.

Like one day when Mike and I were out doing some last minute shopping at Target and there were her and her husband.  The four of us just parked our buggies and chatted as if we were touching base after being apart for a couple of weeks and as if we were not each on a mission to get something done in a hurried fashion!

About a year ago, another dear friend of mine, Angela, began working at a different school.  She mentioned the name Margaret a couple of times in passing conversation.  Low and behold, her teaching friend, Margaret, turned out to be MY Margaret!  Isn't it a small world?

Now that you have all the background history that is vital to this trivial drawn-out informative post, I can continue...

Margaret shot me an email last week and invited me to get together with her.  One thing led to another and then today I trekked over to her house.  The premise intention was for us to work on some teacher-y things together.

First, we assembled the ingredients for our lunch...and chatted.

We supervised her family dogs' bathroom break and sipped some water, ourselves...and chatted.

We logged onto our computers...and chatted.

We did a wee bit of teacher-type work...and chatted.

We took a lunch break to enjoy the delicious chicken wraps for which we had concocted condiments and sauces...and chatted.

We enjoyed a leisurely meal...and chatted.

We did a few more teacher-type tasks...and chatted.

It was one of those times when one of us asked the other a question about a family member and that answer led to a story and that story led to a tale and that tale led to an update...

I'd like to think of the day as spent with us refreshing and updating our internal computers.  After about six hours, we had mastered about three teacher-y tasks and we were getting close to being caught up on some important family topics...

We plan to get together next week to do a little more teacher-type work...and maybe a wee, tiny, little bit of refreshing and updating!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

I am fortunate to have the man I do as my father.  He certainly could be the picture beside the word in a dictionary.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Monday, June 10, 2013


We got a downpour!  At about one o'clock this afternoon I went out to do a little grass mowing because the weather gurus were predicting rain for late afternoon and I thought I could help the hubby out a little.

I got most of our yard cut and decided to cut along the fence line going down the driveway.  The sky started sprinkling a little bit on me but I thought I would continue and come back up on the other side of the fence before I stopped mowing.

Well, by the time I got back up to our house, the rain had stopped.  So, I decided to mow another little area across the driveway where the guys park their trailers and to mow the drainage ditch in case the rain did come and was too wet for Mike to mow.  Again, the sprinkles dripped down but stopped and I got another little segment of grass cut.  Then, all of a sudden, the rain began to really fall!

I went to the barn with haste and parked the mower.  Then, trotted pretty quickly to the house.  Toby, who had been waiting on the porch, and I scurried into the house but not before we were pretty drenched.  So, I just shucked out of my swimsuit and jumped into the shower.  When I stepped out of the shower, I glanced out the window and was amazed at the sight.  So, I pulled one of Mike's shirts on and went out with my trusty little camera.
This view of water rolling down the driveway between Stephen and Bonnie's house and our barn!

Just southeast and downhill of the previous spot, the drainage ditch in which I had just finished mowing grass!

Continuing on southeast and looking toward my mother-in-law's house, you can see the water running down the driveway and overflowing the drainage ditch across our driveway traveling on toward the creek which runs in front of our house.
Looking due south off my deck in an area that I had been riding the mower over less than forty-five minutes before.  The water would have been washing me away if I was there now!
Our driveway looks like a creek bed with water steadily running down it!
Lots of water coming down that hill!

I sent those pictures off to Mike and Stephen and Bonnie to let them know what things looked like while they were at work.  Then, I got a call from Stephen telling me that I needed to go out and take a look around to assess the storm damage.  So...
Off I trekked to begin my assessment.  LOTS of the rocks from the driveway were washed out and huge gullies were left behind in the driveway that connects our two houses!
The drainage ditch I had just mowed caught some of the gravel.  Isn't it hard to believe that in less than thirty minutes that much water can rush down and turn this area into a rolling rapids?  Then, about thirty minutes later it looks calm and serene!
I set the soft drink bottle into one of the gullies to give a little perspective of how deeply the water had cut into the ground after the rock was washed away.
I headed on up the hill to drive the loop around and see if this was the worst of the washout.  Again, see the soft drink bottle about half-way up and to the right there in the photo.  This was a bigger gully.
If you look really it closely at Stephen and Bonnie's garden, you can see how the corn is leaning toward the east...
An almost flat spot atop the hill shows that even there was some water damage where the straw off Stephen's newly seeded grass was washed.
Heading down the hill on the opposite side of Stephen and Bonnie's house and you can see that their driveway is gully-washed here, too.
Easing on down their driveway showed several gully-washes in this side of their driveway but nothing too dramatic.
Looking down the creek, you can see the 'stick-line' where the water was out of banks and on the right side of the creek there are a couple of limbs that were washed down.
Another view of the creek...

I pulled out onto the highway and turned in to the southern entrance to our compound to head back up the hill toward home.  Here is the view heading up the driveway toward my mother-in-law's home.  Look closely into the middle of the photo and you can see my soft-drink bottle setting down into that gully.
The deepest gully of all was washed here and I was glad to be driving a truck or I would have drug the bottom of my vehicle when I drove up the driveway toward home.

We had a major mulch washout!  This is a view of the flowerbed that I picked and poked at just this morning!
This shot shows where some of the mulch wound up when that water was rolling down the hill.
This picture shows the water trail that sweeps just past the stepping stones and around the flower bed just off our back porch.  That is a lot of water force!

As I am composing this post, I have the television on where the weather reporters are showing photos and video of tornadoes which swept through southern Kentucky.  Bless them and I hope folks weathered the storms safely!