Friday, January 31, 2014

January is finished

I decided to pick up the challenge to join Cheryl's month in review meme. I just went with the photos as they were, as I hadn't been planning a photo review. It seemed to be a month of recovering from one infection and dealing with another. And the month always begins with our mentor group. This past month we had a guest speaker who is a cleaning specialist for sure. She arrived complete with cute handouts for our mentees. Cold weather means stew…the upper right corner is Moroccan Beef Stew--yum. Lots of time with Little Brother and Little One, partly because their mom wasn't feeling well (all hands on deck to cook dinner). Little Brother was delighted to have some "school" with me, and to run around checking the level of everything in the the house ...
One cold morning we tried out our wedding-present waffle iron after too long being inactive.
It didn't go so well but it's worth another try.
Finally . . . snow! As little as it was, it stayed around a few 
days as it was so cold. The lingering included an icy patch right at our back door.
Cold weather means a fire in the evening and all things cozy.

Joining with Thinking About Home  for Gathering the Moments

Thursday, January 30, 2014

a teeny tiny nursery

Back in our young days we didn't have much money, nor did we wait to marry until we were "established" in life as seems more common in today's world. My younger sister had the first grand baby in our family and in their tiny house there was no room to set aside for a nursery.

So I decided to make her one. Just for fun. How I enjoyed making it--carpet, wall paper, window with window shade, curtains, a rocker with a tiny crocheted blanket, a dresser with a tiny lamp, a cradle, picture on the wall and more … (sorry about poor photo quality).

I have alway been in love with miniatures . . . from the doll house we enjoyed playing with as children, to visiting the Queen Mary's amazing dollhouse at Windsor Castle or Colleen Moore's fairy castle at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (which just so happens to be undergoing a big restoration project right now that is open for the public to see.) The photos at this link are so familiar to me. We would go to the museum with our school class each year and I would linger in my fascination long after the others had gone to a new exhibit. So I was delighted to read Cathy's extensive doll house post on her blog, Morning Musings. It inspired me to dig up this old photo of the teeny nursery. I didn't crop it more because I just loved seeing that old blue VW "bug." I made this little project during the days we lived at the "Big House" and I used my patient's wonderful workshop.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Freezer Food

Over the years I've taken food to friends who need a meal––such as a new mom, a sick friend, a friend who has had a death in the family, or someone just needing a little help . . . . Sometimes others take meals at the same time, so I've thought about the idea of bringing a meal for the freezer to use just when they need it. It's nice to have one in the freezer for us too.

I did a guest post today about this with a recipe at Cheryl's Thinking About Home. Chicken Tortilla Soup. You get all the ingredients ready in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. Then it just needs defrosting and heating in a slow cooker for the day. Cheryl is doing a weekly series on slow cooker meals. But her blog is much more than recipes. I love how she shares about her home, family and celebrations. I think you will enjoy her beautiful blog.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"I'm on the phone …"

It's no wonder (not so) Little One asked me recently if everything in my house is old. 
On our kitchen wall hangs a "retro wall phone" that we no longer use but 
keep there due to inertia. It actually can be a lot of fun. 
First the grandies learned that it is indeed a phone (I'm guessing they know 
only cell phones, as Little One asked why you needed both ends on the receiver.) 
The Gardener and I have perfected a game of ringing the "old phone ring" on
my cell phone a couple of times and then answering the phone on the kitchen wall. 
I usually carry on quite a conversation as if talking to someone very interested 
in what the kids are doing and how they are. Usually they don't care to speak 
on the phone so I ask the caller to try again another time.

But on this particular day they got into it. As you can see, "Miss Imagination" is 
having quite a long conversation with some friend. I was so amused at her facial expressions 
and the way she played with the cord while she talked. Where did she learn that from? 
The last picture is so funny--she obviously is "listening" to something that is making her smile. 

With most of us using cell phones the "mystery" associated with a ringing 
phone (sans caller ID) is a thing of the past. No more deciding who will
 answer the phone and guessing who will be calling. 
It reminds me of when I'd be around my dad when the phone would ring. He'd always
say, "If it's the president calling for me, tell him I'll call him back later."
Joining Mary's Little Red House for Monday Mosaics.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

kitchen treasure

A month after I turned 22,  I graduated from nursing school/college, 
had a wedding, honeymooned with my honey, packed up and moved 800 miles from home, 
took my nursing boards and started my first nursing job--all within about the space of four weeks.
Midst all that I remember thinking rather frantically that I would need to cook,
and asking my mother for some of her/our favorite recipes.
She wrote them out on 3 x 5 cards and thus  began my recipe file.

It's like the opposite end of the spectrum from the high tech P*nterest way of storing recipes.
But I'll hold onto my old recipe box closely for its crammed with my mother's recipes, 
others I've copied from friends, some of my grandmother's, ones my aunts have copied 
for me, etc. I like seeing their familiar hand writing and the worn, stained look, often
remembering the occasion when I first was served the dish …"Oh, could I
 please have the recipe?" Yes, a box filled with memories, a treasure. Food holds an
significant place in our lives--heritage, social occasions, holidays, traditions …
It's all there in a small 3 x 5 tin box.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

my files are thinner

I've been cleaning stuff lately, maybe you have too. Sort of an early spring cleaning or 
squeaky clean new year attempt. The catch-all drawer in the kitchen could use a 
weekly sorting. Sometimes I get lost in what I find. 

This time I sat down with my folders of recipes and other magazine clippings--such 
as house ideas ... but mainly recipes ... determined to purge. I well remembered 
my zest and youthful enthusiasm at the time of clipping ... "this would make such a good 
dinner for us ..." my mouth watering in contemplation. Have I made most of them? 
No, probably not even a few (But it's fun to dream, even about recipes.)
And I was aghast to find some all the way back to 1982.
Talk about "retro" recipes and magazine clippings. 

I was nicely entertained as I happily tossed and chose a few 
to keep, making my files much thinner. The reason that it was easy to toss this 
time around is the internet. I seem to go there more and more for recipes. 
"Just google it" and up come more than a few choices, not to mention all the 
delicious recipes found on favorite blogs.
I save them now on P*nterest ... making it quite convenient to find them.

Hang on to your hats … what new things will seem "matter of fact" ten years from now?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

through a glass clearly

While "up in the mountains" last fall we stopped at a visitor center/art museum.
As we sat around waiting for our friends to finish whatever they were doing, my 
camera popped out of my bag to capture the beautiful glass displayed in the windows.
There's something interesting about this glass for some of you who are fans of the 
Mitford Series. If you could see through it clearly, you'd see Father Tim's 
church across the street… that is, the one JK based her story on.
I love visiting Blowing Rock and thinking of her writing there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

good-bye to the builders

My cousin lost her mother a few years before I did.
I won’t forget her telling me that grief, even months later, will hit you when
you least expect it. That happened to me the other day when I turned on
some music that we often played as Mom was at the end of her life.
I was overwhelmed by emotion as it began playing and I was transported to her bedside.

But it was a different kind of sadness that amazed me the other day as
I browsed in an antique shop. I do love a good antique shop. I don’t buy often,
but find it relaxing and in tune with my love of history.
So many things remind me of the past, of my grandparents or my childhood. 
More and more I see things that my parents would have owned, but now leave 
behind, as their generation, the “builders,” pass from this earth.
I guess that was the sadness that hit me this time. I looked at whole sets of dishes in
wonderful shape. Some my mom had; some I remember from relatives or her friends.
I wondered about what starry-eyed bride may have chosen a particular sets of dishes,
or the family or friends who ate at the tables set with such loveliness.
It doesn't seem like the next generation wants these as now they sit lonely
on a shelf echoing voices of the past, hoping to be loved again.
It was strange to feel such an emotion, but I realized that I was mourning the
generation of my parents, the "Builders." That generation seems so silent now
 and those few who remain seem to be passing quickly from this earth.
I’ve been to quite a few funerals in the past few months.

The sobering thing is that this means my generation
is rapidly becoming the “older” generation. :-)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pillow Notes

Creating cards this month took me back to January posts
four years ago. What was I up to in those winter months? 
I found a post about covering up old pillows with
tea towels, napkins or odd fabric I had around the house.
I remember it was a lot of fun, but why am I not feeling 
that same energy on this cold morning?
We have a blue bedroom in our house that I was 
decking out with all these pillows. If you do a search on
this blog for "pillow talk" you will see I was joining a "pillow party" my 
friend Rhondiboth in blog and in person, was hosting (yes, we were 
blog friends long before we realized we lived only a mile apart.)  
I'm smiling most today about finding a theme for the cards in both 
color and subject, and getting them uniform looking for a change.
Not that this is necessary, as we only use one card at a time.
And since these cards are square, I hope they come with rectangular
 envelopes, otherwise extra postage is required and we don't want that!
box top
I think you may smile too if you visit Vee's Monthly Card Party
You might want to join in the fun.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

grandma pics

I enjoy a day with Little Brother when we can work it out. This week I got some bright colored pipe cleaners. Saw these "games" somewhere on the internet. Who would guess dropping pipe cleaners through a paper towel tube could be so funny, or threading them through a colander could be harder than we thought? The pic in the lower right corner makes me laugh. Nine month-old baby sis is clearly posing with a smile for the budding young photographer, 
but I think her biggest thrill is pulling up on things. 

This would make a good pre-school work sheet with the question: "Which picture is wrong?"
Well I guess that depends on one's perspective on life. 
Who says we have to conform to a normal way of wearing a jacket?

I call these "Grandma pics" as they were ones I grabbed my iPhone for, not wanting
to miss capturing the moment. The quality isn't great but I'm still connecting to 
Mary's Little Red House for Mosaics on Monday.

Friday, January 10, 2014

me and my shadow

Bright winter morning sun brings a symphony of shadows.
Shadows are everywhere if we look for them!
I thought this was interesting: deep shadow to the left; shadows dancing on the 
table and windowsill, and shadows from the tree outside the window.
Joining Donna's Photo Challenge today.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

as the world spins

I was in an Emporium near our house the other day.  It has many small booths filled with interesting things and is run by a group of older women who seem to be friends.  (Aside: I say "older" but some of them could well be my age. Why do I forget my age? I'm often surprised when I find out that someone I think is much older than me is really my age. Living in denial maybe?)

Back to story: On this day there was a big sale so the checkout counter was pretty busy. And these ladies were all talking about  ----  vertigo. They apparently have all dealt with it. To hear their lively banter and stories was somewhat amusing as I knew what they were talking about.

I've had vertigo twice ... and the first thing I would say about it is if there is a ceiling fan operating over your bed, to turn it off.  My primary sent me to an ENT the first time. By then all symtoms were gone but he did a maneuver and there was nothing to it. He was looking at my pupils when he did it.

A year or so later, a second episode. How impolite for Ms.Vertigo not to check with me before arriving if this was a convenient time to come or not, because all activity must stop. A friend encouraged me to watch a YT video of the this maneuver and to try it. I had my husband assist me because I found it a bit scary during the process and was glad he was there to sort of hold on to as the world spun so very fast it seemed out of control for a brief second. But then it was over and the vertigo was gone. I was amazed to hear the women talking about doing this maneuver in almost a casual manner. It wasn't "casual" for me!  

Saturday, January 04, 2014

more from downstairs

The big tree with me and my home made big fluffy fabric ornaments.

Seriously, how many people have an accident driving through a car wash? I did. When we were living downstairs in the big house I drove my employer's mercedes through a car wash (that's back when you actually were in a line of cars driving through a car wash) and gently banged into the car in front of me. Talk about an embarrassing moment. I was probably talking to someone else in the car and not paying attention when the guy in front braked. It was a fender bender, and if I remember correctly, only my car had damage.

As this frigid winter weather lingers here and around the country I am reminded of the snowy and cold winters we had those years at the big house. I have a vivid memory of two weeks when the temperatjures lingered at 25 F below.
The Gardener had to keep Mr. H's
old plymouth running.
Each morning I'd check the thermometer outside Mr. H's iced bedroom windows and we'd shiver and wrap him in more blankets. Day after day. The snow never left the ground that winter. I remember the graduate students that lived with us were always having trouble starting their old cars.

 I loved playing Mr. H's grand piano and he would listen from his room right above the living room. As well as the parties and friends over for dinner that we often enjoyed, it was great fun to have lovely, stately guest rooms for our parents and siblings to stay in when they visited. At the back of the house was a rustic sort of bunk room where the boys in the family had slept. The Gardener, also a grad student, used it for his study, and I'd climb the back servants' stairs to that room to get the next installment of the paper I'd be typing for him late at night.

I loved cooking on this stove.
 I shopped at the small grocery shop in his little town. Royal treatment there--food was bagged or boxed up for me and carried to the car, or even delivered to the house. Once I had a sales slip that reached from my head to my toes. Of course we were feeding quite a few with all the staff coming and going. I had to learn to make some exotic food for him. Things like sweetbread (cow brains or pancreas), and tripe (cow stomach), tongue, and something I enjoyed more--veal a la marsala. For this latter meal I was instructed to pound the veal with flour and the curvy edge of a saucer--yes a piece of his old pink Spode china. He would listen upstairs for the "ringing of the plate." I confess I still pound veal (or chicken breasts) the same way.
Hand drawn wallpaper graced the dining room walls.

One of my memorable moments was a birthday party we had for him.  Maybe it was his 85th. His nurses came, as well as his secretary and a nearby daughter. One of the nurses had sewn fabric on a finger towel so that it looked just like a tuxedo rather than the bib that it was. He wore that down to dinner. The guys helped to serve and of course carried him down the winding stairs in his wheelchair. And what did he request for that special dinner? Tongue! I'll never forget it. That huge cow tongue on a platter was a sight to behold. A special night, yes, but meanwhile a little freaky in the kitchen.

Sometimes I think our years there were a dream. We were young, teachable and so grateful for the opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful place. It's a time we often reference or talk about with friends and family, and it's a joy to still exchange letters at Christmas with his son and DIL whose family we visited on the farm. Thanks for sharing the memories with me.

The Gardener on his way to class.

Friday, January 03, 2014

'fore and afts'

When we first moved into this house I (eventually) painted every room. Among the first was the 
living room--painted a sort of pinky beige that was quite popular back then. The tiny foyer was 
a darker shade and a few months ago I painted it the wrong blue. After we made the old living room 
into the dining room I knew things had to be changed. The wall paper in the 
old dining room/now cozy sitting room was so dated--probably 25 years old--but we 
actually loved it and had a hard time deciding to change it. 
A straight-talking friend of mine finally told me I should let it go. That's all I needed!
Why does it take so long to make a decision that once done you wonder why it took so long? 
I am thrilled with the color as I always wanted this color of blue, even though it's really gray.
I went to an older man at a local paint store, armed with pictures on my tablet, 
and in just a few minutes he had he selected the colors for me. And did he get it right! 
I let someone else strip the wall paper and do the painting. What a luxury for me! 
The color in the entry and the (new) dining room are the same and also a form of gray. 
We got some "new" chairs on Craig's List, a new chandy and some new window
 treatments and it gave me the transformation we were looking for. 
I think my most favorite spot is the old blue plates hanging
over my great-grandmother's cabinet.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

cleaning the slate

And so the time comes to remove some of the clutter of Christmas
 and create a clean slate. Little by little I've put Christmas away. 
Well I should say, its all upstairs in the guest room. This year I'm determined to 
reorganize how I store everything while I pare it all down a bit. It's hard to say 
goodbye to some memorable ornaments, though, such as the ones I sewed or crocheted
the years we lived in the "big house." Maybe I should hold on to them a bit longer …
   But the key is finding where I stashed all the usual things I have around the house. 
It's amazing how when I find a place to tuck something away,
now a month ago, I assume I will find it again.
 As the Gardener assures me, "It will show up in due time." 
Just a little opportunity to practice  p a t  i e n c e  in this new year!
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