Thursday, March 29, 2012

This Old House

Our house was built in the mid 1960's. Would someone please tell me why it has one of these?

Notice I said it was built in the 1960's not the 1860's...  We didn't even see this little hooky-cooky thingy until the "Brick Doctor" came out to caulk up the fireplace. 

When we bought the house it had a brass firescreen attached to the fireplace.  I opened it up (it was a bit rusty and only opened about ten or so inches), looked in and saw one charred log, lots of ashes, and a few spiderwebs.  The building inspector told us he couldn't certify the fireplace as usable and explained how we would need to get a plumber out to check the gas line, a chimney sweep, and also we would have to hire someone to caulk up the cracks in the brickwork.  Still, the house was in a great neighborhood and it did (technically) have a fireplace (two things to check off our wish list).

Now, fast forward six and a half years...  Spring is here and we are finished with cold weather so I am closing the fireplace damper, dusting, sweeping up, and just plain cleaning the hearth.  I usually only think about "it" on days like this. 

I didn't even know what "it" was called until Wednesday morning (that's right, yesterday) - It's a fireplace crane.  I was getting this post ready to link up with ColoradoLady's Vintage Thingy Thursday and wanted to know the name of the vintage treasure I planned to show off.  You can 'google' anything - even things you don't know the name of...

Tell me, what's in your house that makes you wonder "why did the builder add this little beauty?"


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I love this time of year. 
Longer days, shorter nights.
Warmer winds, everything trying to grow - all at once.

We have been blessed with just enough rain 
and  the earth smells wonderful.

My garden gate.



Winter was so mild that morning glories are blooming in March.

The Onion Patch - March 18.

Onion Patch - March 24.

UPDATE:  Here's my terra cotta rabbit.  I got my husband to tip it over -
 no snake.  So I happily continued to weed this flowerbed.
I did find a little (about the size of a new Number 2 pencil -
only it was light brown instead of yellow)
 ground snake (aren't they all?) in the daylillies -
yes, that was me you heard screaming Saturday morning.
No snake picture. 
I moved the rabbit to remind me where the red yarrow is planted.
I have no idea where the snake went.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wake Up Call

Do you have something you have loved for years that no one else knows about?  I ponder this because my vintage beauty is a bit of a mystery to me.

After my mother in law died I was the happy recipient of  her sewing supplies.  She had an old cookie tin full of tools and thread, a few pins and needles, a seam ripper, buttons, hooks, and a little compact with a spider and fly design.

Sewing Box / Treasure Box.

There were all kinds of sewing supplies in here along with the little compact. 
I cleaned it out and just keep buttons in here these days. 
The compact stays in a special place and I see it every day.

My mother in law, Mary, was on my mind Monday morning. I had picked up the little compact from its usual resting place and thought about using it for my "Vintage Thingy Thursday" post. Something cute and easy to blog about. I'm looking for cute, quick, and easythese days because there's so much work to be done in the garden - leaving me with little time for blogging. I carried it around the house, found a cord and wore it for a while. I wish she had told me a story or two about it. What did it mean in her life? I will never know, my husband doesn't remember ever seeing it when he was a kid - he doesn't remember what her sewing box looked like either.

Thunderstorms kept me awake Monday night.  I was in bed by 11:00 p.m. and at 3:00 a.m. I was wide awake.  I got up and had a glass of milk.  Went back to bed, started to doze and was awakened by THUNDER!!!!  Just one extremely close thundering bit of thunder.  That was it, I gave up and went in to the living room.  Sat in the quiet for a several minutes and then turned on the t.v. (this is not my normal morning routine).   BBC America morning news was "live" (always a good sign) at London's Westminster Palace where they were waiting for Queen Elizabeth II to arrive and to begin celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee. 

I stood there a few minutes and took it all in.  Sorry, not the Queen's speech or the fact that 60 years is a long time, I wasn't even too concerned that one of the men in the front row really needed to comb his hair... 

I was thinking about all the conversations I had had with my mother in law about "The Royal Family."  I remember her father was from Great Britain and she enjoyed following their Royal Family's adventures - we usually ended up talking about the clothes. I'm sure she would have liked the outfit Queen Elizabeth wore Tuesday (she liked everything the Queen wore). 

For a few minutes on Tuesday I felt close to Mary. Maybe the rain and thunder were just there to help me remember someone I have loved. Was it because I had her on my mind that I had this fun coincidence? (This is where I confess I did not get up early last year to watch the "Royal Wedding." It takes a bit more than that to get me out of bed.)

I don't know all the stories about the little compact, life goes on. I enjoy having it in my life reminding me of Mary.

I'm joining Suzanne at ColoradoLady for  Vintage Thingy Thursday.  Stop by in you would like to see other vintage items.

Also, my blogging pal, Annie, of Annie's Ruby Slipperz is having a giveaway.  Annie explains it all at Annie's Mystery Baby Give Away or something like that.   If you quilt or know someone who does check out this fun chance to win.

Was it a gift or had she saved and bought it for herself?
Or maybe she found it years ago in someones sewing basket?

One more thing - If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, just ask "Why am I up?" The answer will come. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Gardening, Good Food

Two of my favorite blogs have posted on broccoli recently.  Roses and Other Gardening Joys lamented that her broccoli was starting to flower - I have heard the expression 'bolt.'  I think I like 'flower' better - it implies something beautiful is happening.  Then this past week, The English Kitchen introduced me to purple broccoli - complete with a recipe, I can't help but wonder what it tastes like. 

Someday I'd like to try growing broccoli in my garden, not this week.  This week I'm planting summer squash.  I just put a few plants in around the perennials and add a few seeds here and there and we'll have squash in approximately 50 days.

Summer "Straightneck" Squash - in the beginning..

Squash is one of those vegetables that I had to learn to like.  When I was growing up squash casserole could be found everywhere.  Sometimes hidden under fried onions or cracker crumbs or both, it was  there - warm, salty and squashy.  I learned to eat squash casserole (it seemed the polite thing to do).  These days I like to have it raw in salads, but, truth is, I like it best fried.  It's easy to do and I'm looking forward to cooking it this way when I have my first harvest.

I start by washing the veggies.

Trim off both ends.

Slice them in neat, little strips - all the same size (I wish!).

This is where I tell you "Yes, you may cut them up in little neat circles."  I think I learned to eat fried squash like this because I thought it was little fish.  (Besides being a polite child I was also very gullible.)

Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, then dust them with cornmeal.

Here they are all ready to cook.

This cast iron skillet is my secret ingredient. 
Turn on the heat for 4 minutes (you want a medium hot skillet to
cook your squash) then add just a bit of oil and butter.

Add the squash, cook 3 or 4 minutes.

Turn and cook the other side - 3 or 4 minutes, longer if you want to brown them.
You can turn them more than once - come on, play with your food - experiment to see how you like them.

As you can see I like my squash a little 'toasty.'

For now I'll just weed and water my garden and get ready for our big harvest.  Don't just sit there!   Cook or plant something today. Why not do both?  And if you've got a squash casserole recipe that really, really tastes good - can I please have it?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook - cJoy Version

This afternoon I've been working in the garden and so came in to rest under the fan and have a glass of water.  While I might want to take a quick nap, today I'm going to try something new.  I'm linking up with Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.  

For Today:

Outside my window:  It's warm, at least ten degrees warmer than usual. 

I am thinking:  I want to finish weeding and mulching the rose bed along the back of the house.  I'm already dirty and a bit scratched up I might as well finish. 

I am thankful:  For my family, even though today and this week we are scattered around the world, we are just a phone call away from each other.

In the kitchen:  The sink is clean!  The TV remote is on the counter - in a couple of hours my husband will be looking for that. 

I am wearing:  My favorite blue Texas Rangers t-shirt, grayish capris, old gray tennis shoes and dirt.  Sunscreen and my favorite perfume, Sensuous.  I don't know, it's just a habit to put on perfume every morning.

I am creating:  A more orderly home, last week we finished the shelves in the linen closet (before it just had a shelf and a rod for hanging clothes).  It's the only linen closet in the house.  I'm taking forever to put things on the shelves.  It's a relief to have a place to keep extra linens and paper products (and all my husbands baseball caps!).

I am going:  To bed early tonight.  This whole time change thing wears me out. 

I am wondering:  If there is a snake under the terra cotta bunny in my garden - there was one last spring...

I am reading:  not so big remodeling (Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live) by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassallo. 

I am hoping:  I'm reading the above book because I hope to make a few changes in our kitchen - take down a wall, move the fridge... simple stuff. 

I am looking forward to:  my shower.

I am learning: I can not do it all.  I never could.  I guess I used to think God was on vacation and I was in charge.   I don't have to be the boss...

Around the house:  I really, really need to sweep.

I am pondering:  How can I make this world a better place?  - I'll have to get back to you on this.

A favorite quote for today:  "We've been through a lot together - most of it was your fault."  Anonymous (wish I could thank whoever said it, makes me laugh every time I think about it.)

One of my favorite things:  Having a meal with friends. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Finish weeding and mulching roses, plant squash, buy coffee filters.

A peek into my day:

This is the cover of my notebook.  I keep my TO DO List and shopping list inside. 
Rough drafts for letters and ideas for blog posts.  I try to remain calm
even on days when I'm not having a cocktail.

 Thanks Peggy for the brain workout.  I look forward to
following your blog.  Happy Spring! 


Another Day in the Country

My mom's home is one of the most peaceful places you could visit.  The best place to have your morning cup of coffee is on the deck watching the birds raid the bird feeders, sun softly shining through the trees, gentle breezes.  It is beautiful with lots of trees, birds, deer, flowers, peace.

One of the many bird feeders my mother has collected and uses around her house.

When you are in the country and your neighbors are not able to see or hear what's going on at your house (like when you flush or change the channel on the t.v. or drink coffee on the deck in your pajamas) life is different.  Relaxing.

Red Camellia, yellow and white daffodils, moss (green) - I love the country.

Mom has flowers around the house.  Then flowerbeds.  Then, at the edge of the garden, just where the woods begin, she's blurred the flowers and the countryside.

I spend most of my time in the city, so the country is a special place to visit.

If you don't have time to get out in the country today here's two morning minutes for you to enjoy.  The picture isn't that clear, but the morning sound is what I was trying to capture.  Rock, Mom's trusty dog, is there beside me trying to be good.  Pushing and pulling me every now and then to put a bit of movement in the picture.

Sorry about the car going by, it was rush hour.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

God and Dirt

I love working in the dirt, it reminds me of the saying "life began in a garden."  Lots of folks tell me they feel close to God working in their gardens, me too.

If you really want to have a "God" experience - try pottery.

I'm serious (I have worked in a pottery studio). Most people have a vision of Demi Moore in the movie "Ghost"  all easy, sexy, and no sweat.  It's not like that.

Imagine God the potter.  God has an idea of the perfect bowl and so takes a bit of clay and slaps it on the wheel, wets his hands and as the clay starts to spin God pushes and presses trying to lift a simple bowl out of the clay. This takes a bit of work (lots of upper body strength) and lots of patience. The clay likes to jump around, tear, wobble and, in general, seems to have a mind of its own.

By the time God calls it a day - and says "That's it!" or "TA DA!" or whatever God pronounces when the bowl is shaped - there is still lots of work to be done.  The bowl is left to dry, cleaned up a bit and then low fired (approximately 1,800 F), then sanded, and - providing it has survived the drying, firing and sanding - glazed (painted).  After all that it is high fired (approximately 2,100 F and up) and left in the kiln to cool.

Important note here - while the bowl is high firing the potter is there, near the kiln at all times to keep check on the temperature.  I have yet to meet a potter that hasn't been singed by the heat in the kiln.

When the potter opens the kiln and takes out the bowl it will need to cool a bit more.  Word of warning - at any stage cracks can appear.

Finally, it is sanded to take off any rough edges, washed up, or at least dusted, and "TA DA" you have bowl.

My friend and former boss, Janet, (Hart Street Pottery) offers classes and sells pottery she makes.  (I'm not being compensated in any way - just dusting, and I got to thinking about dirt, dust, soil, and clay.)

Check out potters in your area - buying local is important to all of us - where ever you may be. 

Every now and then, like today while I've been dusting, I remember and am amazed by how much love, effort, time, blood, sweat, and tears goes into trying to create a 'simple' piece of pottery.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Onions

Wednesday was damp and cloudy my favorite time to work in the garden. I cleaned out an area where I usually plant basil and planted an assortment of onions instead.

Ready to plant.

Red, yellow, and white onions.

My back garden needs serious weeding.  Yesterday, in the midst of garden guilt, I was reminded by HolleyGarden at Roses and Other Gardening Joys that no garden is without weeds. 

I've decided not to knock myself out trying to have a perfect garden (I learned long ago that perfection is highly overrated).  I'll just do a better job of editing my pictures so you (and I) won't notice all the weeds. 

In my back garden on Wednesday - Salvia greggii, rose bush,
blueberry bushes...  one of my bird baths, the daffodils and more roses...
then my neighbor's very neat and tidy garden plot.

Almost perfect are the gardens at The House in the Roses.  CIELO's blog has a fairy tale look and Tuesday's post, reminding me of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, inspired me to get into my garden to plant the onions... and a few more cilantro seeds... and marigold and nasturtium... once I start gardening, it's hard to stop.

I keep my favorite seeds handy and tuck them in when the mood strikes.

My favorite garden tool is at least twenty years old.  Its familiar wooden handle makes me smile as I work in my garden, not because it's perfect but because we've been together such a long time.

Is it vintage?  I'm not sure, but let me tell you I feel a bit vintage after a few of hours working in the garden. 

Thank God for long, hot showers and mugs of tea.

I'm joining Suzanne at ColoradoLady for Vintage Thingy Thursday,
even if my little garden tool isn't vintage, I'm sure the dirt is.  


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rambling Back to Real Life

I have had a fun break from my everyday life and spent the last couple of weeks visiting with my family and walking in the north Georgia countryside.

We survived a small tornado - it touched down a few miles up the road from Mom's house.  I also visited with some of the most beautiful, talented, and intelligent children in the world - my nieces and nephews. 

Does anyone recognize this shrub growing at the edge of Mom's driveway?
 I've forgotten its name.

I collected several plants to bring back home with me and try growing in my Texas garden. 

My new plants - gifts from Mom and her amazing garden.

Including these three ancient roses - 

My potting shed is just some wire shelves on the patio.  

O.K., I admit they don't look that old right now sitting here in their Styrofoam cups, but the Billie Bart Pink Rose, the Reminds Me of  the Old New Dawn, and the Pink from a Fence Somewhere are all old enough to buy us a drink.  My mom rooted me a cutting from another deep pink rose in her garden - not a climber it just has really long canes.  I think I'll name it Rock's Rose. 

This is Rock.

Now before you tell me I can't just name roses, no one who owns these roses knows what they were originally called.  Mom has had three of them in her garden for years and she can tell you about their growing habit and fragrance, but she doesn't know who first cultivated them.   The "Billie Bart" rose was growing on the property my aunt and uncle bought over three decades ago - there was no tag on it, without hiring a 'rose detective' how does someone figure out what rose they've got?  I just name them something that will have meaning for me... 

I'm gardening and cleaning house this week.  Speaking of cleaning house, I just deleted my PINTEREST account.  I loved having some place to put stuff - very convenient, super easy to share, but I don't want to be accused of stealing pictures and/or ideas.  I did question PINTEREST's posting instructions "don't use this to be self promoting" and only post pictures you have a right to post, but my pictures are the only ones I own.  So I quit of my own free will - that should free up a few minutes. I was so happy when I first started using it - especially when I would see something and wanted to share with a friend.  Now I'll send my friends to the 'original site' and they can check it out for themselves - just like we used to do.  

Please forgive my rambling, but somehow I think I see a connection to PINTEREST and the roses I'm rooting, I just can't get everything into focus and explain that connection.

Not stealing ideas, work, and art of another person is important to me and I was reminded of this as I was standing in the check out line of the grocery store with my Mom.  I spotted a magazine with a beautiful quilt on its cover.  I picked it up to for a quick look through and saw a picture that reminded me of something.  I looked at another picture and thought "Wow! This person must love Old Grey Mare  (I loved her place at Christmas)  because this looks just like her blog pictures."  I told my Mom, "This is creepy, these pictures look ripped out of a blog that I follow...."  By the time I saw the piece of roof (architectural art) on the living room wall I was livid !!!  How could someone steal this?! 

(Where do "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" and "Passing something off as an original idea" meet --- and does anyone get hurt?)

At this point I stopped my "only looking at the pictures" and started reading.  Oh, it was Susan Stoddard.  Then I saw where they mentioned her blog, Old Grey Mare, and I started to calm down (to the point of feeling a bit silly).  I really like her blog (and yours, too) and would hate for anyone to get credit for all her (or your) hard work.

I'm just showing you the front cover of the magazine,
 you'll have to go out and buy it for yourself to see how wonderful it all is.

When I got back to Texas, I checked her blog and sure enough she knew she was featured in Country Sampler,  I just haven't had time to read blogs lately so I didn't know what she was up to.  Also, I noticed she's having doubts about PINTEREST.  I would say "Great Minds Think Alike" but there's probably someone out there who owns that little ditty.

It's good to be back home. Once again I've traveled and my blogging friends were on my mind.  Hope your March is off to a great start. 

What's new with you?