Thursday, September 29, 2011

Short and Sweet

Someone in my husband's family liked to paint.  It's the same flowers, maybe even the same paint on this set of glasses and pitcher, on some pink silk, on a picture taken over 100 years ago, and on a wine decanter set. Family myth and legend does not give this person a name, too bad, I would love to know who this talented person was.  

This set came to me with five glasses - the pitcher holds 72 ounces,
each glass hold 7 ounces (8 if filled to the rim). 
Wonder how many glasses came with the original set...

I enjoy using them every now and then.  Yes, even though they are old and beautiful and have to be hand washed, they still get used.  If we don't make memories with them, who will?  All we have is today, let's take care of each other and make each day as sweet as possible.

Today I'm making Fuzzy Navels.

Why? Because as Bing Crosby used to say, "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."

3 oz Orange Juice
3 oz Peach Schnapps
1 oz Vodka - (optional - your drink will be much sweeter without)

Hand full of ice

Put everything into a cocktail shaker. Shake until top is frosty.

Pour into your favorite glass.

I like how each glass reflects different colors.

Or, if you are fixing more than one, you can pour the ingredients into a pitcher and stir. (James Bond won't mind, he's busy tonight and can't stop by your place - don't let that stop you from having a sweet evening.)


It's Thursday, join me at ColoradoLady's Vintage Thingie Thursday. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life vs. Blog, for me life always wins

Happy Tuesday!  Last week in September and here I am going in 20 different directions and happy as I can be. 

First off, I am knee deep in wedding preparations.  My daughter and the love of her life have found each other and so a marriage is in the making.  Wedding in two months - yes, I am almost busier than a one armed paper hanger. 

Still working on my sewing room.  The bookcases went in without a problem and with almost an inch to spare.

They may not get painted, but they will get dusted.  Lots more to do, no time to stop...

I did a bit of shopping yesterday.  Here are a few things that followed me home...

I hope to be decorating with the pumpkins soon.  The raffia has a --- WAIT A MINUTE !  Where did the chocolate come from???    Sure, I know where it's going...

But wait, there's more...

A little something that I ordered from an Etsy shop arrived in yesterday's mail - that's all I can say now, it's the start of a gift.  Christmas is coming, hope it's not rushing on my account.

Last and best, gifts from my Mom.  From her garden and kitchen to our table.  Life is good.

Fig Preserves and Salsa

I hope you have wonderful plans for this week - it is the last week of September.  God bless your adventures and if something really good happens - enjoy it.  Live in that moment and make the most of it.  You can write your blog another day, never miss the opportunity to live.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to the Garden - Passion Flower Vine

On Tuesday, the temperature at the start of my day was 62F and I was movitated to garden.  For starters, I want to improve the view from the kitchen table.  So I'm putting in a small flower bed. I bought two Passion Flower Vines and a trellis, all that was left was to make the bed and get them in the ground and growing.

Thank you Google for the picture.  (My plants aren't blooming - yet.)
In my youth we called these "MayPops."
I gathered up everything I needed for this project and completed the whole thing in just over an hour (83 minutes, but who's counting?).

On your mark, get set, go!

I used the trellis to determine how big to make the bed. Fortunately for me, the Previous Owner had this thing about collecting old bricks, so I've started using the old bricks in my landscaping.  I like the recycle aspect of using them and if I want to expand a flower bed I just have to grab a few more bricks.


See the hole?  A tree used to grow there, the Previous Owner cut it down and each year it sinks a bit more as the roots have rotted   composted returned to the earth.  Every now and then I put a little more soil in  (usually after I stumble).  On Tuesday, I put soil in the hole then started putting in the grass that I was removing to make way for my new flower bed.  Nothing wasted.  I like that.

All I had to do was dig out grass.

Still digging.  When does the fun start?  Wish you (or anybody) were here digging with me.

Ready to Lasagna Garden my little bed.  I added a some soil and amendments, just a little.  Then I grabbed some newspaper and lined my new bed to help keep weeds to a minimum.

I added back some of the old dirt (that sounds silly, most dirt is, well, as old as dirt - how ever old that is) mixed in some 'new dirt' and added the bricks. 

And the plants!

All that was left to do was add mulch, water, and clean up.  I've got a nice little garden and next spring and summer I will have beautiful, blooming vines.

The job is almost finished.

Here it is, Thursday morning.   It's amazing what can happen when the temperature cooperates.  Only two days in the ground and already the tendrils are at work. 

Life is good.

My view from the kitchen is better this morning --- my coffee even tastes better. 

Thanks for stopping by.  I'm off to Vintage Thingie Thursday with Colorado Lady (button just to the right if you want to join us).  I'm 'rerunning' my coin story over there - next week I must find something new to bring to her party.  Hope you have a great weekend.  cJoy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old Fashioned - Words, Regrets, and Oatmeal Cookies

Here's an old fashioned word for you. 


Webster tells me it means "To miss and long for the return of."

What are you pining for at this moment?

I didn't plant geraniums this past spring.  I can't remember a year when I did not plant at least one geranium.  In so many ways, big and small, this was not the summer I had planned.  I love to plan.  I always carry a notebook and calendar.  How could I have missed the geraniums?

I suppose I could buy one ragged geranium now and try to keep it going through the winter, but that would be like trying to put up a Christmas tree in April or expecting to see tulips in September.  Some things in life are more wonderful because they only happen at an appointed time - you enjoy them in season or you wait until next year.

I will just have to accept that Autumn is coming and go with that.  I'll make cookies and stock up on tea and bring out a few pillows and throws to make the rooms feel cozier.  I should probably clean up the fireplace and get ready for the first cold night when I realize Summer 2011 is just a memory.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe - Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup of butter (2 sticks, softened)
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of old fashioned Oats, uncooked
1/2 c. chocolate chips, 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecan), 1/2 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350F
Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.
Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt - add and mix well.
Stir in Oats, chocolate, nuts and raisins - mix well.
Scoop out a tablespoon of the dough and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper to line my cookie sheets -  easiest clean up possible). I get 12 cookies per cookie sheet, don't crowd them.
Bake 11 minutes (maybe 12).

Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet then put them on a cake rack to cool completely.

For Oatmeal Bars - line cookie/baking sheet (13 x 9) with parchment paper, spread out mixture - don't worry if it doesn't cover the entire pan, just spread it evenly and cook 33 minutes (no more than 35 minutes).  Cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then lift out onto rack.  (The parchment paper will make it easy to lift out.)  Cool on rack, slice after they have cooled.

I was busy this weekend, so I made the bars.  I like to freeze them in small batches then I'm ready with a quick treat. 

Have a cookie, it will not replace what you missed out on or lost this summer.  Some things we're not supposed to replace, some things we are supposed to accept and to live with a hole in our heart and every time we think about it, we love what we lost and they, or it, live on in our memories.

Did you skip a summertime tradition this year?  Any regrets?  With a bit of planning maybe you can make next summer a little better.  Just pull out your calendar and write down what you want to do differently next year.  For me, I've made a note on April 11th which reads "2012 - Buy Geraniums."  The last week of December, when I'm transferring calendars, I'll see that reminder and for a moment or two I'll think back on this past summer's victories and losses, I may even do a bit of serious pining, but that's o.k.  It will also be a reminder to give thanks for all I have.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rain At Last

In our part of Texas we are entering hour number four of a wonderful rainy night. Many thanks to all of you out in the world tonight praying for rain.  For the first time in over three and half months I'm crawling into my bed listening to the wonderful sound of rain on the roof.  I continue to pray that rain will fall throughout the state and where ever it is needed in the world. 

God bless us, every one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's A Chinese Coin - An Update on Last Week's Post

My blogging adventure continues to expand (please note - I've added links inside my blog this week).  Many thanks to my friend, Stephen.  Not only is he friendly, kind, smart, and a wonderful horseshoe player - - - he also speaks and reads Chinese.  Here's his message after reading last week's blog,  "What is this?"   I guess this makes him my first guest blogger... 

I hope I've followed Stephen's directions and have the coin going the right way.

Yes, Madison was right. It is a Chinese coin which was used in the reign of the Emperor Qian Long (1736-1795). You can see the Emperor’s name on the front of the coin (the flip side in your blog. You need to turn it 90 degrees clockwise to make it right-side-up): 乾隆 (you read from top to bottom). Other two Chinese characters, 通寳 (from right to left) means common currency (for the whole country).

So this is the back side of the coin...
On the back of the coin was the name of the Mint factory where the coin was made (there were 22 factories in total at the time). It is written in the Manchurian language (that is because the royal family of that dynasty was from that region). I do not know the Manchurian language so I don’t know where it was made.

Coins are round with a square hole in the center. There are two explanations for that design. 1. The round shape symbolizes the heaven and the square hole symbolizes the earth (the ancient Chinese believed the earth was square). Therefore, the coin is the symbol of the emperor’s sovereignty. 2. The design was necessary for the coinage technique. The craft men held the coin on a square stick to polish it. (Round shaped coins are easy to use. That is probably why the coins are still round today). Such design is also good for carrying. A large amount of coins could be easily strung together with a rope through the center hole. That was how people carried their money in old days.

The value of the coin is probably what people care about the most. Well, if it is a mother coin (handmade by craftsmen and used as a model for casting coins), it is valuable. Otherwise, it is not because there are a lot of them in existence. I don’t have much knowledge about coin collections and I can not give you a estimation of the value of your coin. Too bad.

You can find the pictures of different coins made at the same time at this website:


The more I blog the more amazed I am at how connected we all are.  Thanks to all of you who visit my blog and thank you to all who leave comments. 

Friends, old and new, make life so wonderful.
First, there was Patti who gave me the box of buttons that had a coin inside. 

Then ColoradoLady's Blog and her world famous Vintage Thingie Thursday that gave me the 'exposure' I needed when I asked for help in learning more about my little treasurer.  Her VVT blog is my favorite way to spend my Thursday morning coffee break.  Note to quilters:  Suzanne (ColoradoLady) is embarking on a quilt project using bits and pieces and tiny, tiny scraps of cloth, you can read all about it on her blog.  No, I'm not going to attempt this - I plan to watch from a distance and see all the beautiful quilts that others are creating.  I need another new project right now like I need butt implants.

And Madison - I enjoy her blog and recently started following her adventures at Madison Makes  - she told me the coin was Chinese. 

That bit of information reminded me of Stephen and once I contacted him I learned so much about my coin.  

Thank you, one and all. 


P.S.  Yes, I will find something new to bring to the party next week - if it's Thursday I'm usually at ColoradoLady's Vintage Thingie Thursday. Today I'm with her in another way, praying for a blogging friend of hers and praying for Suzanne.  Funny how my little story started out to tell you how in some way we are all connected in this life.  Like it or not we are also connnected in death and anyone's passing should be a reminder to do good while we can, to love and let others love us, and truly no man or woman is an island.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes and although I originally posted this in September, here it is January 22 and I'm in the mood for some hot soup.  Today I'm linking up with A Simply Klassic Home and her new link party.  I've added Kristin's button to my side bar.  Check out her blog she's very clever.

One of my favorite cure-alls is Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Saturday, my husband and I decided if Autumn and cool weather isn't going to come to us, we would just have to go to it.  We decided that even though it was almost 90 degrees outside, inside it's after Labor Day, so Autumn is officially here.  Also, we are tired of Summer Salads. 

Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup


Chicken - approximately 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken.   Saturday I used - 3 thighs and a leg (that's what I had in the freezer).  I think the dark meat is great in this soup. I sometimes bag up cooked chicken, freeze it, and save that to add to my soups.  If I had wanted to make this look beautiful I would have used chicken breast, cut up into perfect little bite size cubes.  

Oil - 3 or 4 Tablespoons for the whole recipe.  (I used canola on Saturday, I have used olive oil - it's up to you, the food police will not come to your door).

Salt and Pepper

1 cup of chopped onions

1 cup of chopped bell pepper

1 heaping Tablespoon of finely chopped garlic

I use a 2" Jalapeno pepper, but I just use half.  I slice it lengthwise, that way if I decide to remove the hot stuff it's easy to spot. Here's where I tell you WASH YOUR HANDS - you will be angry with me and yourself if you get the pepper on you. 

1/8 t. ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Chilpotle Chili Powder (this is my secret ingredient - guess it's not so secret anymore - it gives a smokey flavor and a kick to the soup.  You can use less - 1 teaspoon, I'm not trying to hurt anyone. You can also use 1 Tablespoon if you really like spicy food.)

1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes

8 cups (2 quarts) of chicken broth  (I have put 10 cups of broth in, it's still good and flavorful.)

Tortilla Chips - 3/4 to 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips and tortilla chips for garnish

One lime

Sour Cream

Fresh Cilantro

How to Cook Chicken Tortilla Soup:

If you're starting with raw chicken season the meat with salt and pepper.

Using medium heat, warm soup pot for a couple of minutes, add 2 Tablespoons of oil, give it a minute then add chicken.  If the meat is chopped up, cook until meat is done then remove to a plate, this will keep the chicken from getting rubbery.  If the chicken is still on the bone, cook for about 7 minutes, turning it over a couple of times, then leave it in the pot to continue cooking.

Add a little more oil to the pot if the bottom of the pot looks 'dry.'

Add 1 cup of chopped onions and 1 cup of chopped bell pepper cook until onion becomes translucent. 

Add 1 heaping Tablespoon of finely chopped garlic and 1/2 a large jalapeno pepper.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stir often, you don't want to burn the garlic. 

Add Spices: 1/8 t. ground black pepper, 2 Teaspoons Chilpotle Chili Powder

Add 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes.

Cook 2 or 3 minutes, stirring often.

Add 8 cups (2 quarts) of chicken broth and bring to a boil, turn the heat down, put the lid on the pot and simmer 45 minutes.

Stir occasionally.

After simmering 45 minutes you're ready to add the precooked chicken or if you left the chicken on the bone, take it out of the soup now, take the meat off the bone and return the meat to the soup. 

I use forks to take the chicken off the bone.

Add 3/4 to 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips.  This thickens the soup, this is also where you get your salt.  If you don't add the chips you may want to add a little salt now, of course if you don't add the chips this isn't Chicken Tortilla Soup...

Stir to mix everything and cook for 3 more minutes then turn off the heat.  Soup is ready to eat.  It's very hot, you can wait 10 -20 minutes to eat it.  Your kitchen should smell very 'southwest-y."

To serve: 
Put a handful of tortilla chips in a soup bowl.

Add soup, squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice on top.  Top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro leaves.

Start to finish is approximately 2 hours, if you can get someone to help you with the chopping it's even faster.  Enjoy!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

What is this?

Thank you to everyone who suggested ways for me to display my buttons.  One of the ideas I got last week about what to do with my button collection came from Cindy.  She separated hers by color and stores them in jars, for now that's what I plan to do.  I'm not doing the whole collection at once, just starting with the shoebox that I dumped out on the dining room table for last Thursday's blog.   I sorted those buttons in the evenings as I watched TV.  It took a few nights to go through and as I got to the last of the buttons I found this:

It was much dirtier than this - I couldn't even tell if the center hole was round or square.
(I cleaned it a bit because in the first pictures you couldn't see any markings.)

I decided to wash it because I couldn't tell what it was.  I even used a little silver polish on it.  It took a bit of scrubbing before I could finally see markings.

Texas Quarter and ?

I love the saying "Sight is an ability, seeing is an art."  I can see this, but what am I looking at? 

And the flip side...

Now I'm curious.  What is it?  How do I go about finding out what it is?  Thinking of it as a coin will be my starting place, but I've never researched coins before.  Any tips on how to find out what I've got or does anyone know what this is?



It's Thursday, so I'm taking my 'whatever it is' over to Vintage Thingie Thursday with Colorado Lady. Just use her button to join us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Paint and Tea

Who washes the walls and cleans the base boards on those wonderful fix up the house shows?  Who goes to the hardware store to purchase more paint when they realize they need just a bit more to finish?  When will they show up at my door? 

I know it looks bad but until a few days ago it didn't have all those different colors and it was only a storage room.
Remodeling, decorating or just painting a room is work. I try to look at it as a fun project but the part I like best is the job completed. The shows I love to watch always show the before and a little of the work going on and then the BIG REVEAL. My big reveal is days, maybe weeks, away. 

I was up early this weekend because cooler weather was promised and I wanted to work in the garage so I can finish my sewing room and actually do some sewing.  Last week it was so very hot I didn't go outside except to water the plants and feed the birds.  I stayed inside and started sorting through my stuff deciding what to put in the "new" room.  Almost everything is ready to transition to the new sewing room/studio, now I've got to paint so this can happen. 

My sewing room (I may not be a studio person) has served as this house's storage room for the past 45 years.  I am painting in a room that got one quick spray of builders' white in 1966 and hasn't been touched since.  We swept the place up in 2005 and then started storing things in there, but now I have a new use for the space.  The former owner collected tools and motors, those things were gone when we bought the house, but we were left with plenty of smudges around the door and on the walls.  He also used nails to hang things and part of my morning was spent taking down large (3 inch) nails and patching holes. 

At some point I started to worry if I paint this room white it will look the same as it does now.  I searched for a 'happy' yellow color and then thought, "This room isn't white, just paint it white."

I had to sand the walls - I've never had to sand walls before - they felt gritty.  I put on a mask and started working.  I took a break and went out to breathe for a few minutes, then went back in and swept the floor, took another break, and then quickly washed the walls and left them to dry. 

I was trying to decide what color to go with, looking through all the little paint chips, when I noticed a white near the yellows called "Magnolia White." That's right. I bought a gallon of paint because I liked the name of it. 

Walls sanded, washed, and taped up - ready to paint.

Monday morning it was cooler than it had been in months - I put down newspapers and started painting. It's been a long time since I painted a ceiling.   The walls and ceiling are the same color. I have a semi-gloss white to do the trim and I'm planning on getting a new door.

It was about here I wanted to quit.  I didn't, I just wanted to.

I'm painting in sections. I'll work at organizing this area and then move to another area in the room.   

Notice I got a new switch plate, the other one didn't cover the hole that was cut in the sheet rock.  I always thought the old switch plate looked like it was holding on for dear life.  Now I've just got to wipe down the trim and give it two coats of paint.

This evening my plan is to get my husband to help me put the bookcases in here.  I hope they fit, I don't have much wiggle room - 90 1/2" of bookcases in a 91 1/2" space.  

During my breaks I had iced tea, I've had that a lot this summer, but I've been enjoying a new flavor the last few weeks.


3 bags decaf tea 
1 bag of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea
Boiling water

I sometimes have a cup mid-morning and the leftovers (I make extra on purpose) I drink iced during the afternoon. I know, you thought I was all about the booze or caffeine, nope. This summer I found this new tea "Bengal Spice" - well, the favor is new to me and after months of hot, hot temperatures and gallons of iced tea, I just wanted to try something a little different.  The flavor reminds me a bit of Chai, it's caffeine free, just spicy enough to jazz up my tea - iced or hot.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  I'll help - the first comment that requests a box of tea I'll send you a box of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Who's Got the Button?

Long ago and far away my grandmother would give me her button jar to play with - obviously I was an easily amused child.  I enjoyed everything about them, sorting and counting kept me busy, and the button jar allowed me the luxury of staying in the kitchen with 'the women.'  

Today one of my favorite collections is my button collection. It reminds me of my grandmother and now I can appreciate the art and durability of these amazing little workhorses. 

Many of these are glass and, except for the "JOY" button, I found them in Germany. 

When I first started collecting buttons they were just the extras from my clothes. I would pop them into a small jar that I kept on a shelf in my bedroom.  Then I started to really notice buttons - pearl, shell, plastic, wooden, metal, and glass.  For a while I was buying sewing kits at garage sales, keeping the buttons, and giving away the rest of the sewing items.

About a decade ago, I realized my collection was getting out of hand so I told myself I would use buttons on my sewing projects.  Of course, many of my pieces are baby quilts and table runners, not really suited for buttons.  My button collection continued to swell.  Eventually, I stopped buying buttons and, by and by, started to give some away.  Then (surprise) friends started to give me more buttons. Several months ago Patti showed up at my door with this box.

Gift Box

When I peeked inside I was thrilled.  Then I put the box on my 'button' shelf in my sewing room. 
Button Shelf

As you can see from the picture above it's not very glamorous.  Even worse, you can't see most of the buttons.  The Texas Star Jar was a Christmas present.  The other tall jar was a $1 garage sale find.  After that, I sort of got lost, I couldn't figure out how to store and display my collection, I used whatever I had on hand - old tins, candy and shoe boxes - even ugly plastic (ugh!). 

I think it's time to make a change.  I'm thinking that maybe if I really like my buttons I should give them a better place than on a shelf inside old boxes.

Here's a peek inside Patti's box, a few little boxes, a lot of buttons.

Notice I have poured them out on an old sheet because I don't want to scratch the table top... never know what you'll find in a box of old buttons.

One woman's trash, another woman's treasure.

I'm on the look out for a way to display my treasures. 
Any suggestions?

It's Thursday, so I'm taking my buttons over to Vintage Thingie Thursday with Colorado Lady.  Just use her button to join us.