Thursday, November 29, 2012

the big switch

We finally did it. Something we've talked about for years, and seen friends do successfully. 
We have a small dining room and fitting 12 around our table is the limit and quite confining. 
Once squished into one's seat at the far end of the dining room, there's no further moving 
during the meal. Sometimes I don't even sit at the table. And we love to have many 
around our table. Thinking of 12 or more at Thanksgiving encouraged us to give it a try. 
Yes, we switched the dining room with the adjoining living room.  
Our "new" dining room is so spacious I feel like I'm in a banquet hall. 
(Well, maybe that's an exaggerating a bit.) 
We set up the tree in the new ever-so-cozy "parlor" 
and it seeps into the "dining" room which is nice. I'm not about to move the tree, 
so I guess we'll keep things this way at least through the holidays. 
The "jury's still out" on if this should be a permanent change, but so far I'm 
liking it a lot. If it's permanent, the chandelier will be moved. I know it's a woman's 
privilege to change her mind, but I've been warned there would be no mind changing after that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Potato Rolls

Potato rolls are a big hit in this house. It's been a few years since I made them, but I really wanted to get into some yeast and kneading last week, so pulled out the crinkled recipe card. My dad especially loved it when I made them--when things switched, and they started coming to my house for holidays rather than our going to their house. I miss my dad and this year as we cleaned up the kitchen we remembered how he always helped with the dishes. So this year I made them in his memory. I realize that this recipe reads a bit like my driving directions! "Turn by the purple house with the large bush at the top of the hill."

Potato Rolls ---  makes 5 doz. rolls    350 degrees/ 20 minutes

3 C milk (scalded) (I heat in microwave)
1 C mashed potatoes
1 C sugar

Put together and mix, add 2 C flour and let stand

I usually put my 1 pckg yeast in 1/4 cup tepid water with a tsp sugar and let it "start" before adding it to above mix. One just has to be careful that the scalded milk mix is not too hot--if it is it could kill the yeast. If it's more like tepid, the yeast should do fine in there, working off that one cup of sugar!

Then add:

1 Tb salt
2 eggs
1/2 C melted shortening
Enough flour to form stiff dough--about 4-5 cups

Knead well and let rise.  Form rolls and let rise two more hours. Bake and enjoy the delicious scent. Of course they are best fresh from the oven, otherwise I'd freeze them for later use. I also usually grease the tops of them with a smidge of butter when they come out of the oven. This recipe could also make a loaf of bread and rolls. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

the week that was

It was full and wonderful week ... left to right: my brother taking Mom on a walk; homemade potato rolls; "the climber;" napkin rings by our nieces; reflective moments; the last day for our pumpkin; Christmas begins; nieces and their grandma make a gingerbread house from "foamies;" and what comes after everyone leaves––cleaning up and enjoying the memories!

See Mary's Little Red House for other mosaics!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pausing for Thanks

This is one of my favorite posts. Each time I read it I am reminded at how much 
I have to be thankful for. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

The day started in the wee hours as the Gardener had a 6 am medical procedure. Seemed the rest of the day filled up quickly, and late afternoon found us at the foot doctor's for another small procedure. I was rather tired, and wanting just to read my book. But I was very aware of my surroundings. I had never been to a foot doctor waiting room before and was amazed at the variety of people that had something going on with their feet. I made particular note of each one's feet as he or she walked out of the office. 

A 70-something woman wheeled in her husband. He immediately lost himself in his news magazine while she registered at the window. She looked exhausted. I was thinking of her small size and how in the world she managed to care for him. A mother and sister brought in their son/brother, a 40 or so year old man with c*rebral palsy. My, they had him in line. Turns out the mother, also in her 70s, had had recent knee surgery. 

But then the most amazing thing occurred. The door opened and it was as if a light filled the room. A beautiful woman in her 50s, well dressed with gorgeous shortly cropped silver hair, sailed into the room. She went right up to the office window and greeted everyone. Obviously she was a regular patient. She asked everyone intentionally about their Thanksgiving plans, and wished them all a happy holiday. I noticed she was wearing a long skirt with nice white sneakers. I looked again and noticed that she had a light limp. And then I looked again and realized she had a brace on one leg for support, and on the other---no leg at all, but an artificial, mechanical leg.

She finally sat down and started talking with the waiting mother-with-the-new-knees in conversation (remember, I had my nose in a book, but obviously wasn't terribly focused on my book.) She ask all about her Thanksgiving plans, down to the details of the menu and who would cook what. What an art she had in engaging others in conversation! Then the mother turned the conversation and asked the silver haired lady questions. "I can't help but notice you have only one leg, yet you are so happy. By watching you today, and how beautiful you are inside and out, I realize my problems are small, and how I need to count my blessings."

The silver haired lady replied in such a gracious manner, "Oh, I can handle this, because I am alive! I have had severe di*betes for years and needed a kidney replacement as dialysis did not work. Oh April Fool's Day some years ago I got a call at 2 am saying they had a kidney and a pancreas for me. My body accepted the transplant beautifully and all was well until I got a blood clot in my foot. They had to amputate my leg (di*betics have poor circulation in their feet, causing many problems, and potential for amputations). But I could so easily have died. Losing a leg is nothing. And it is all the Lord. He got me through it, and HE gives me joy each day."

This woman positively glowed. I felt like I was in the presence of the Lord. It was an experience I will probably never forget.  At this Thanksgiving, though I may fret over some challenges in life, there is SO much to be thankful for. And I am.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012


 I find my eye is drawn to series, patterns or "repeats" when I have my camera in hand.
 If you look for them, you see plenty.
These images are all from the beautiful southern city of Charleston.

Joining Mary's Mosaics on Monday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

doctoring soup

It's November already and no post here on soup? Something's not right! Soup is my favorite, versatile food, and one of the reasons I like winter so much. I guess "retirement" has been so busy I haven't had time to make soup from scratch. But when I grab a can of soup, I can't leave it alone. Today we had some canned chicken vegetable soup. I added:

one can of red beans
garlic and onion seasoning
Chili powder
a little chicken paste
a cup of low sodium V-8
3 Tb. or so of cottage cheese
Feta Cheese garnish.

It just makes it a bit more special, delicious. and a home made "flare!_

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A moment in time

Do you ever have moments––just a brief second or two––where you get a glimpse of something that brings forth a memory or emotion ... or a sense of calm?

We got lost––my fault––I was tired and missed the turn. We were driving out in the country, and a storm quickly came up but soon turned to a gentle rain. We had to turn around so I found a side road. At the corner was a house with a simple front porch and a porch swing. Two men were sitting on the swing, watching the rain and talking.

It was a moment. I was transported first to the swing and the sound of rain on the roof and swishing water around the porch floor. I could smell the humidity, the mildew, the scent of fresh rain. I felt the cool breeze that stirs with the rain. I felt a peace and a rest and a slowing down. No particular moment from my past came to my mind, but a familiar sense of sitting out rain storms on porches, near open windows, in a schoolyard under a tree, or splashing through puddles protected by an all too small umbrella ...

As I turned around and continued to drive, I savored my reflections and the image of those men sitting out the rain. I felt refreshed just as the rain had nourished a parched earth. I think I'll remember this for a long time. I love a rain storm after all. I'm guessing you understand what I'm fumbling to express.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


 This week three quilting friends and I headed an hour south to a shop called The White House.
 It was in a white house and half of the fun was just walking around 
such a quaint, beautiful old home.
I was interested in the abundant vintage linen, all in beautiful condition.
And my quilting friends were, of course, interested in the quilting fabric.
I was glad I stopped in the little restroom tucked under the stairs.
What a great idea to use a vintage tablecloth for a shower curtain!
Got my creative juices stirring for my next project ... fixing up another bathroom.

Connecting to Mary's Little Red House for monday mosaics.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

apron strings

 Last night Merea met at my house for our monthly meeting. 
(Merea is a Hebrew word meaning "one who is a close advisor or companion.")
 Eight younger women and six older women. During our meetings we share 
our stories, a devotional, and do a craft together. 
Over the months our relationships grow and we speak into each others' lives. 
The younger women suggest things they want to learn. 
Some of the girls used a sewing machine for the first time as we 
sewed simple seams to make aprons out of tea towels.
The directions are simple. Find a good quality, fairly large tea towel. 
Fold over two corners
and sew the corners.
Thread the ribbon through each sewed side, 
secure it with a hidden pin at each corner when you have
 the length you want for around the neck and tying at the waist.
Cute and simple gift idea!

Please visit Yvonne's Stone Gable Blog to read more creative ideas!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

rags to riches

The Gardener and our boys had fun during their childhood collecting Horatio Alger Jr. books
 and reading them together. It was something to look for in junk shops or 
garage sales, and a find was always celebrated. 
One of the most prolific children's authors, Alger wrote almost the same story line with each book. 
A poor boy rises to success through hard work, honesty and bravery. 
The books took place in the 19th century and always involved a villan and then
a wealthy benefactor who noticed the boy for his character, and helped him get
established in life. Our boys had fun guessing just how the plot would come about. 
I like to think the boys learned a bit about good character through the books.
But was it so much the stories they enjoyed? Or snuggling in close to their "papa," as they
called their dad, and hearing his voice reading to them. I'm not sure, but I know I loved
listening to the reading and their lively discussions while I cooked supper in the kitchen. 
The collection remains in our aged "secretary," a favorite piece of 
furniture found long ago in a crumbling antique shop.

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