Sunday, May 01, 2016

A poem and a post for the last day of April

... which possibly will not get published until May, who knows?
Bloodroot ~ one of our first spring wildflowers
I had so many thoughts I wanted to tie together -- a poem I wanted to share (since April was Poetry Month); a walk in the woods; the first wildflowers; the restorative, healing power of time spent in God's creation; even a thought or two about my late father-in-law whose birthday was the last day of April.  Sadly, my thoughts will not even hold together.

I think I will start with the poem.  It is called Gifts from the Wildwood and is by South Carolina poet Archibald Rutledge.

Gifts from the Wildwood

I know not how to capture
This fragrant wildwood's rapture,
The magic of these dells
Where silent beauty dwells,
Where noble strength and power
in oak and pine tree tower.
But when from these I come,
I hope to carry home
Some spirit not yet had
To keep me strong and glad,
Something from oak and pine
To be forever mine;
When from these woods I part,
Some wildflower in my heart.
~ Archibald Rutledge

It is from the last line of this poem that Jamie Langston Turner took the title for her wonderful book,   Some Wildflower in My Heart.  If you have never read this book, I recommend it very highly.  I do not enjoy most Christian fiction; much of it is far too shallow, and my reading time is so limited that I will not waste it starting books and not finishing them.  But Jamie Turner's writing is different.  Each of her books actually has a different voice, yet there is a common thread ~ I guess I would summarize it as the impact we as believers can have in the lives of others if we are truly living as God would have us to.  If you do read Some Wildflower in My Heart, don't be put off by the scholarly tone of Margaret Tuttle, who is telling the story.  She uses large words, slightly formal language, and refers often to books she has read.  But when you get into the story and learn about Margaret's background, you realize why she speaks and writes as she does.  It's a story well worth reading, and Birdie Freeman, whose story Margaret is telling, is an example for all of us to emulate.

Jamie Turner's other books (I believe there are seven more) are also excellent and I highly recommend them.  They can be read as a series, for most share some of the same characters, but they also stand alone very well.

I've gone off track a bit, but wanted to share how this excellent writer has edified me.  The poem above, Gifts from the Wildwood, figures in the story of Birdie Freeman and Margaret.   I loved the poem and found that it really spoke to me, as I have found so often that spending time in the woods or by the water is comforting and healing.

A few weeks ago my daughter mentioned how she and her family took a "mental health day" and went for a hike in the woods adjoining their property.  That sounded appealing to Mr. T and myself, so we asked them to let us know the next time they planned a hike.  A couple of Saturdays ago, we were able to find a few hours to join them.  Below are some scenes from the day:
Josiah is standing inside a cellar hole from an old house or barn.  Imagine building that by hand!
Mr. T and our son-in-law figured there had to be a well near the cellar hole somewhere.  They went looking and found it!
One of the waterfalls we saw
Taking a break by one of the waterfall areas
The sky was gloriously blue!
More of the treetops
Another waterfall
And yet more falling water
There were no wildflowers out yet in the woods,  but thankfully there were no black flies either!  And even though none of the trees were leafed out, there is just something about tumbling, rushing water and green, green moss that encourages and refreshes the winter-weary spirit.  We had to shoehorn this hike into a very busy day, but I am so thankful that we did!

As we made our way through the woods (there was a bit of light-duty bushwhacking before we came onto a logging road), I was pleased that I could recognize some different types of moss and plants to share with the kids.  It reminded me so much of my father-in-law, whose knowledge of the woods greatly exceeded anyone I've ever known.   He kept a wildflower list every year as he observed the various flowers coming into bloom.   He also loved waterfalls, cellar holes and would have so enjoyed that hike.  He was also a poet, and the following lines are from his poem Spring Fever:

When I see the geese returning 
Once again I have a yearning
To walk again some old familiar trail
There to seek some early flower
On some sunny bank or bower, 
Or where the brook meanders through the vale.

Find some cellar long forsaken
That the years have overtaken,
Or walk along beside some old stone walls;
Maybe watch the sunlight flashing 
Where the noisy brook is splashing,
And madly dashing o'er the rocky falls.

The above are two of the five stanzas of the poem, and the second could have been describing  the hike we took.  He had surely been on many similar ones.  April 30 would have been his 101st birthday.  He is the one who brought us the bloodroot in the picture at the top of the post. And it always brings sweet memories when "his" flowers appear in the wildflower garden every spring.

(I am sharing today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and  Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Simplest spring decorating

Yes, it was time to change some things in my decor.  I kept my maple sugaring themed items out for a long time, clinging to the fact that a friend who does sugaring as a business was still at it.  But finally I just had to change things, though I had no idea what to change them to.  The snow was gone (though it came back!) but really, no flowers, or even buds, and no leaves on the trees yet.  Flowery spring decor seemed out of the question.

Since I had seen a few daffodils, I decided they would be okay.  (I'm wondering now what has become of the drifts of daffodils I saw Monday.  They have been thoroughly snowed on!)  So for the dining table centerpiece, I simply swapped out my sugaring scene cake dome for a pitcher of silk daffodils.  Kept the little brown birds.  I like them.

On the hutch, I thought the simplicity of the jadeite and milk glass together was quite pretty.   I've had the sugar and creamer for eons, since the 1970s, I think.  Just located the jadeite plates in a box of old dishes  rescued from our family's little vacation place.  (Sometime I need to blog about this cottage in the woods.  It was not my idea of a vacation -- no plumbing, no running water, although there was electricity and a phone and even a TV set that may have gotten one channel.  Now I look back on it with nostalgia, although I still wish it had had plumbing.)

Don't remember where I acquired the little oval platter in the center, but it looked springlike to me.  All of the little birds (intended to be salt & pepper shakers) were gifted me by my friend Lynne.  Next shelf down holds some pretty teas for one, plus an antique card and a quote from the poem "The First Spring Day."
The bottom shelf holds a lustreware sugar bowl, a chintz mug from a thrift store, my silver baby mug, some of the family transferware, more daffodils and green & white Fiestaware salt and peppers.
And then you see the hutch in its entirety below.  Simple, but I like the look for this in-between time of year.

Hope you have enjoyed this look at the simplest spring decorating!

(I'm sharing today with  Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.)  Also sharing with Share Your Cup Thursday and Vintage Charm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April fool?

Taken through a window a couple of hours ago...
This April, it has seemed a bit as if the entire month has been an extended April fool's joke.  Today is the worst yet -- it's snowing again!

Yesterday I took a picture of these "accidentally" planted daffodils at my dad's.

Many years ago my mother tossed a couple of pots of dead (she thought) daffodils over the embankment in their back yard.  Wasn't she surprised when they eventually bloomed during a subsequent spring?!  They've continued to bloom yearly ever since.

While in the back yard I also spotted this white violet plant growing up through a crack in concrete. When I see phenomenons like this it always reminds me we need to bloom where we're planted.

And then today, winter is back.  The day began with alternating snow, rain, and sleet.  By eleven it had turned to snow and continues to snow.  It's predicted to end by 3 or 4 pm, but in the meantime, this is my view:

This and the photo above are of our woods out back.
View from the front porch.
As we always say, if you don't like New England weather, wait a minute.

Linking today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Embroidered tablecloth for spring

This is pretty much a repost of something I shared back in 2011.  I recently saw a tablecloth of similar design and vintage on someone else's blog, and was reminded of this pretty one that I had made.  I thought I would share this again for those who may have missed it.  This project was a long time in the making, but the results were worth it!

Many, many years ago, when an elderly lady in our church passed away, her husband gave me many of her sewing and embroidery things. Among them was an unfinished project in a grocery bag -- a gorgeous tablecloth stamped for embroidery.  The stitching for one corner had been barely started; the rest still had to be embroidered. I admired the tablecloth, put the bag in my craft closet and forgot about it.  Although I had done a lot of embroidery when I first got into needlework, it had been years since I'd done much of it -- and I'd never tackled a project as big as a tablecloth!

One day a few years back, I took up embroidery again and began thinking about how I'd like to take on a challenging embroidery project. I was sorting through my craft closet in the same time frame and came upon this grocery bag. I had found my project!  It took me years to complete it and I felt like giving up more than once.  But I plugged away at it as time allowed.

As I worked on the tablecloth, I decided it would be for my daughter Carrie. She often uses tablecloths and I didn't think she had one specifically for spring, a season she loves. For a couple of years, I set a goal to give this to Carrie at Christmas -- then, when it didn't get finished, I would aim for her birthday in April. Finally, in March 2011,  I finished it!!! I love the flowers and the clear vintage-y colors.

Here's the center of the tablecloth. This took the most time, as you might guess.

Here's a close-up of the center.

This is what the corners look like.

A small motif like this is in the center of each side.
 And this is how the tablecloth looked on Carrie's lovely Easter table in 2011.  It's such fun to see her using it for spring occasions each year.

A very satisfying project completed at last!

I am sharing today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.  Also linking with Vintage Charm and Share Your Cup Thursday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lemon Trifle .... the perfect springtime dessert

Photo from Taste of Home
I've been trying recipes like crazy lately, and I so need to get some recipe reviews and links posted.  I decided to start with this one since it is relatively fresh in my mind.

Over the weekend we celebrated my daughter's birthday with her and her wonderful family.  I offered to bring something and ended up bringing a potato salad (her hubby was grilling chicken) and a lemon dessert.  She loves lemon and it is such a wonderfully refreshing flavor for springtime.

I'd been looking through some older issues of Taste of Home, and in the  2008 April/May issue, which featured a lemon recipe contest,  I found this one: Lemon Bar Trifle.

Well.  All I can say is "Wow!" It's a perfect springtime dessert.  Of course, being the inveterate recipe tweaker that I am (more about that in a future post), I did change a few things.  In making the lemon filling, I knew I could skip the time-consuming step of cooking the mixture and then adding the beaten egg yolks to the hot mixture.  My lemon meringue pie recipe (Betty Crocker) has you beat the egg yolks together with the water and then stir it all into the cornstarch/sugar mixture before cooking.  It works great and so that's what I did with this filling.  I also eliminated the all-purpose flour in the filling and just used an additional 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch.

A friend had given me Meyer lemons and that's what I used for most of the rind and juice in the filling.  I did use one regular lemon because I had one that needed to be used up.

In the cream cheese layer, I cut the confectioners sugar back to a cup.  Three cups would be way too sweet.  And I also whipped a pint of heavy cream to substitute for the whipped topping, adding a bit of confectioners sugar and vanilla.

I don't own a trifle bowl so just put this in my largest glass bowl.  It looked so pretty and tasted even
 better.  I will definitely be making this wonderful dessert again!

I'm sharing today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.

Monday, April 11, 2016

April in absentia

Photo from Photos Public Domain
 Not only have I been in absentia, but April itself seems to be among the missing as well.  It snowed again this morning.  At times it has almost seemed as if March and April's weather have somehow gotten switched around.  In March we had some lovely warm sunny days.  Daffodils in sheltered spots were on the verge of blooming.  In April so far we have had snow, sleet, temperatures in the teens and even single numbers,  freezing rain, gusty winds -- you name it.

I cannot believe we're eleven days into April and I haven't blogged once this month.  Not here, not on my Christmas blog (which I've severely neglected of late and on which I have much to share). Life is busy, busy, busy and stressful and it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. My hubby and I barely have time to think, so I don't have a lot of real substance to share on my blog these days anyway.  All of my serious thinking at the moment is going into my Sunday School lessons and other important responsibilities.  But I do have lots of pretty vintage cards to share on my Christmas blog, and many, many recipes to review and link to on this blog.  I've read lots of interesting posts on other blogs that I'd like to link to, but don't expect to find time for that anytime soon, if at all. 

Yesterday, though it was cool and windy, was a nice sunny day.  In the late afternoon, after we got home from church, Mr. T and I went for a walk downtown and stopped in at a thrift store I had not previously visited.  I found a fun vintage Pyrex bowl (late 1950s) for only $3 and hope I can eventually get the baked-on stains removed from it so I can enjoying using and displaying it.  For now, I can barely keep up with meals and laundry, never mind removing stains from vintage Pyrex, so that will be a project for another day. 

For now, I am ....

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maple decorating sweetness

A few syrup tins, vintage sugaring photos, vintage syrup labels and a metal sap spile
I grew up with maple sugaring -- and hope to write a post one day about that sweet experience -- and over the past few years I have enjoyed adding a touch of maple to my early spring decorating.  Today I will show just a few pictures of my maple decor.  Most of these photos were taken with the Kindle so they aren't the best, and the light was a little funny but I sort of like the way it looks.
In the hallway, a March scene from a Tasha Tudor calendar
The moose pitcher is an heirloom from my grandmother's collection
No maple on this shelf, but a bit of added green for St. Patrick's Day
Sugarhouse tin and wooden tree in a cake dome.  Little brown birds are a gift from my friend Lynne.
Early spring hutch in its entirety
Hope you've enjoyed this taste of my maple decorating!  Sharing today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.  Also sharing with Vintage Charm and Share Your Cup Thursday.  Visit these wonderful link parties and be inspired!