Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day

Today I'm wishing a meaningful Memorial Day to all.  I trust that many of my readers and friends are enjoying, or have enjoyed, a wonderful weekend with family and/or friends.  I know that some are sorrowing today, and my heart goes out to those friends who are overwhelmed with grief and sadness. 

This morning I was reading a post from my blog friend Barbara H. who blogs at Stray Thoughts. She used a graphic which pointed out the meanings of Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and Armed Forces Day.  I am often confused about these holidays, so I appreciated her sharing the information.  Memorial Day honors those who died in service to our nation.  Veteran's Day honors the living who have served in our armed forces.  And Armed Forces Day honors those who are currently serving in the military.

Barbara also included a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who noted: "Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them."  This idea is something that has been on my heart often as I care for my elderly dad, a World War II veteran.  The men and women who gave up so much, and in many cases, their very lives, for the cause of freedom, are such an inspiration,  and we owe them much.  We should never take our freedom for granted, though many do.  Let's be sure we are showing our appreciation to our veterans, thanking God for the freedoms we enjoy, and praying faithfully for our nation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Completely random

View from my window right now
Okay, I am going to try for a blog post today.  I warn you, it will be completely random and helter-skelter because that's the state of my brain and life right now.  But here goes!

The above photo (from a previous year) depicts just what I am seeing from our bedroom window today.  A window completely filled with apple blossoms.  Glorious!  At the far right of the picture, you can just glimpse the road far below.
Our neighbor's wild cherry tree was in bloom this past weekend, but heavy rain and wind soon knocked the delicate blossoms off.
Let's see.  Some time back, I mentioned feeling the need for a getaway for Mr. T and myself.  My blog friend Arlene at Nanaland sent me this lovely card:

It refreshes me every time I look at it, so I keep it handy on the hutch.  It is slightly reminiscent of our one-hour getaway a short time ago:

which will have to do until we can book some time at the lake up north.  I so appreciate Arlene's thoughtfulness!

Speaking of Arlene, I recently won the May giveaway at Nanaland: a Vera Bradley makeup bag.Isn't it gorgeous?

You can't really tell the color from this photo.  The bag is a very pretty red.
Inside of the bag -- such a pretty print.  I love it.
It will be going along with me on that getaway whenever we can manage one.  Thank you, Arlene!

I wanted to show you a few of my recent crafts.  Simple, simple things and only a few, because my time has been so fragmented of late.
phone charger holder for my oldest granddaughter -- and a hook to hang it on
This is a gift card holder I made for my local daughter's birthday.  I got the idea from Gooseberry Patch.  You pull the ribbon and out comes the gift card.  We got her a Lowe's gift card to buy perennials with.
My granddaughter who turned 10 requested a Lego sack ... in her favorite color, of course.  This is how it looks gathered up and hanging from a doorknob.
And here is the Lego sack opened up as it would be used for playtime.  For those who are interested you can read about Lego sacks here: Lego Sack Tutorial.  I've made loads of these.  My grandkids love them.
I've managed to complete several of these-- love the color of this one.  The variegated yarn in the middle is called "Candy Sprinkles".  Fun.
I've completed two in this color combination and a couple of others as well.
You can find the pattern here: Scalloped Potholder if you should be interested.  I leave off the hanging loop and use them as hot dish mats on the table. 

And then here are a couple of scans of recent vintage finds, both of these from my parents' home.
This is about the actual size of this vintage card.
This is the cover of a coloring book published in 1970.  The designs look as if they could be from today, don't they?
 Pretty neat designs on that coloring book cover, don't you think? They are a combination of embroidery and applique.   I'd love to copy the snowman on something, and the other designs are nifty also.

Here are a few photos of spring wildflowers:
My dad's backyard abounds with these large white violets.
They even grow in concrete!
Painted trilliums are out in our back yard
Lots of violets about
I noticed yesterday that the clintonia, or blue bead lily, is starting to bloom.
 Spring is "birthday season" in my daughter's family.  They have one in March, three in April and one in May, so we have been at their home a lot these past couple of months.  One evening we saw this lovely sunset on the way home:

 Do you ever prepare chicken in a slow cooker? To my mind this is the easiest and best way to cook a chicken when you find a good deal on whole chickens.  They were 88¢ a pound at our local supermarket this past week, and I wanted to make chicken salad wraps to take to a get-together.  Cooking the chicken in a crockpot gives you meat and broth in one easy step.  Here is how I do it:


1 roasting chicken or young chicken (I have also done this with bone-in chicken breasts)
Seasoning of your choice

Remove the bag full of “innards” from the chicken and discard it. Rinse the chicken with cold water. Place the chicken in the crock pot. Sprinkle liberally with the seasoning of your choice. I prefer the Montreal Chicken ™ seasoning blend, but Greek seasoning or lemon pepper are two other tasty possibilities. That’s it -- you don’t need to add anything else.

Cover the crock pot and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. You will have falling-off-the bone, beautifully seasoned chicken and nearly a quart of good broth. You can freeze the broth to use later for another purpose, or use it as a start on a soup with leftover chicken later in the week.

I want to quickly share another recipe with you.  I love these Al Fresco chicken sausages.  They are quick, healthy and delicious.  I find they are pretty pricey in our local supermarket, but very reasonably priced at Walmart, so that's where I usually buy them.  The Italian version is also very good.  I haven't tried the other flavors, but there are several more.

This would be a fantastic supper for those busy days.  It takes an hour in the oven, so you could put it in the oven and then go do gardening or yard work while it bakes.  I found a similar recipe in a magazine originally, but have tweaked it quite a bit, so here it is:


1 package of chicken sausage (fully cooked type such as Al Fresco) -- in the sweet apple flavor
1 large sweet onion
1 large apple (Honeycrisp is the best!) or 2 smaller apples
1 tube garlic and herb polenta
Olive oil
Salt & pepper (optional)

Have a 9 x 13-inch baking dish ready and just add the ingredients as you prepare them.  Slice up the chicken sausages.  I slice each one lengthwise and then cut them into about 1/4-inch slices crosswise.  Peel the onion, cut it in half and cut each half into wedges.  (Or cut them smaller if your onion is really huge.)  Wash, core and slice the apples into wedges.  Don't bother to peel them.  Then slice your polenta.  I cut it in quarters lengthwise and then slice it between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch thick.  Now drizzle some olive oil (at least a tablespoon, but it's up to you) over the ingredients in the baking dish.  Salt and pepper to taste if you like, but it's really optional.  I forgot it last time and the dish was still wonderful.  Stir everything together well.

Bake at 375ยบ for 1 hour.

I think you could make endless variations on this dish by using other flavors of sausage and including different vegetables like peppers, zucchini, etc. rather than apples.

When I take this to our church potluck, I bake it in the morning, timing it to come out of the oven just before we leave the house.  I cover it with foil.   Then when we get to church I place it on an electric warming tray where it holds just fine until we are ready to eat a few hours later.

And finally, have you ever eaten Fiddleheads?
Photo from UVM Food Feed
An acquaintance of my hubby's harvests fiddleheads every spring and gives bags of them away.  He gave Mr. T a bag at his job site.  We did some investigating online and found the best way to prepare them -- they need cleaning and blanching.  We then sauteed them in olive oil and garlic as his friend suggested.  Absolutely delicious.  Some people say they taste like a cross between asparagus and spinach.  Well, we enjoy both of those vegetables -- but honestly, we decided fiddleheads are better than either one!
Not the best photo -- I took it spontaneously with my Kindle.  It doesn't do these delicacies justice.
We had never cooked or eaten fiddleheads before, but wow!  We hope he gives us another bag next year!  (I think we will leave the harvesting to him, though, as many ferns are poisonous.)

Lastly, but it really should be first -- remember my word for 2016?  It was Faithfulness.  I never did get time to set or even think about any goals for the new year as I usually do.  Things have been utterly crazy with eldercare and accompanying concerns, not to mention other responsibilities.  I concluded at the time, in the post referenced above, that even if I didn't get to set any goals, that just being faithful in all that God has given me to do, and trusting in His faithfulness day by day, would be sufficient.  Has that ever been tested!  To remind me, I recently took this graphic, which I made some time ago, and made it my desktop wallpaper.  (My readers are welcome to borrow it.)

What a blessing to be reminded of God's faithfulness for every step of our journey, every time I log into the computer and when I shut it down at night!  This view of one of our local lakes, with scriptural truth imposed over it, just is such a great reminder.  Yes, He, our all-wise, all-powerful Creator, is faithful!

Sharing this motley post today with Sandi's No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.  Also with Vintage Charm and Share Your Cup Thursday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mental health moments

The above picture may not look like much, but it reflects some special moments ...
A couple of weeks ago I talked about taking a "mental health day" (or more accurately, an afternoon) and today I want to share some "mental health moments" from this past weekend.  What is the neatest thing is the way they came about.

For months now, at least since January, Mr. T and I have been thinking about a getaway.  For various reasons, mostly involving eldercare needs, we have had to put it off.  Originally we were thinking about an overnight getaway and even had a destination in mind.  But a couple of weeks ago, I began to feel that we needed something more relaxing.  A cabin, maybe, not a hotel room.  With a water view.  A situation where we could prepare our own simple meals and not be dependent on restaurants.  And so on.  When I mentioned these thoughts to my hubby, he heartily agreed and added his thought that we should take two nights, not just one.  Those plans are still in the works and may be a long way off.  However, in the meantime ...
Last week my desire for tranquility became so great that I had this thought:  what if we take our camping chairs and maybe a snack and just go to the water's edge somewhere and just sit for a few hours?  I even had a place in mind, a public beach at a nearby lake which I was pretty sure would be very uncrowded at this time of year.  I didn't voice this thought, though, as our week was very busy with work, errands, and eldercare.  Remember, I never said a word about it.  The neat part is about to happen.

So, on Saturday after lunch Mr. T asked, "I know we're both really busy, but do you think you could spare an hour or so?  I was thinking we could take our camping chairs to the public beach and just sit and watch the water for a little while." 

He was dumbfounded when I told him I had had the exact same thought just a few days previously.  We concluded that there was absolutely no doubt as to what we needed to do, so promptly packed up the chairs, grabbed a couple of apples, and headed out.  The day was dreary and overcast, but at least there was no rain.  We encountered a cloud of bugs when we first moved toward the water, but a breeze picked up and kept them away. 

It was quiet and tranquil with just the sounds of water (and passing cars in the background, for a road was behind us).  We soaked up the serene view of water and  trees, noticing those pretty pastels of trees that are just leafing out.   The picture below is of our own woods in a previous spring.
If you look closely you can see not only a spring green tree dominating the photo, but a pinkish tree to the left.  We saw trees similar to this across the lake, but were not close enough to get photos.

We stayed perhaps a half-hour or a little more and then reluctantly left for home.

And, although I have no sunshiney, sparkly photos to show for our mental health moments, I have something even better -- the sure knowledge that our all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God always knows what we need and is faithful to provide it -- in the greatest detail.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Image from Free Pretty Things for You
I hope that all of the ladies I know will have a very happy Mother's Day tomorrow!  I think that we need to celebrate all ladies on this special day, because even though some may not have borne children of our own, we all have had opportunities to nurture others in one way or another.  I liked what my friend Stephanie wrote in her Mother's Day post found here: "Whether you're a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a grandmother, an aunt, or a friend, may this day be extra beautiful and special for you.  Let us celebrate in quiet gratitude that we are women of God."  I so agree with Stephanie's thought, and that is my heartfelt wish for each of you.  Do check out Stephanie's post; it is beautiful.

On a related note, I read another fantastic post concerning Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard, by Holley Gerth.  The lovely graphic below is by her as well.  I love this thought!

I'd also like to share a few of my favorite Mother's Day cards with you.  Some are vintage; others are favorite cards I've received.  
Love this quote from Louisa May Alcott
 I've mentioned in a  previous post how my youngest daughter took time to send me the above card in the midst of a cross-country move.  It's a favorite and I love the sentiment.  The gorgeous artwork is by Shelly Reeves Smith.
A Mother's Day beach picnic looks like fun!
Love the details in the picnic card above.
"My mom, my friend" -- love this!
As you can see, I scanned a snippet of the envelope along with this cute card above.  The flower stem and bow are actually made of ribbon.
"Just a note on Mother's Day" -- vintage card.
I like how the musical note looks as if it is made from lace or a paper doily. Very sweet.
This is a card my hubby and his siblings signed for their mom one year.
The pretty hydrangea card is one I received from my daughter and her hubby.
The artist is Marjolein Bastin, of course.  Her work is unmistakable.  
A card I gave to my own mother many years ago.  Sort of cute.
Hope you've enjoyed these cards and links and that you'll have a blessed Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Springtime paper treasures old and new

From my collection of antique cards
I've been trying to put together a post of some of my favorite spring-themed paper treasures.  Some are old, some are newer, some are old but recently acquired.  The crocus card just below and the pretty card at the top of the post are from my collection of antique cards which were handed down from a great-aunt.  The little fan, featuring a tiny basket of early spring flowers, came from the same source.

The spring tag above was made by my good friend J.  Some years in springtime, I hang it from my dining room chandelier, where it will twirl in the breezes and both sides can be seen.

 Below you can see the reverse side of this tag.  J. typed up her thoughts on the tiny tag to the left and printed it out.  The scalloped piece with the picnic basket is actually a pocket, and this little tag fits in the pocket.  I love the quote from Anne of Ingleside!
Below is something else quite old -- a scrap of unused, age-freckled shelf paper from the summer cottage of my childhood.  The scan does not do it justice.  The flowers are actually embossed.  So pretty.  I must think of some interesting way to use it.  The wooden shoe-themed paper below it is also a shelf paper or drawer liner and came from the same place.  There are two largish pieces of this.  Isn't it pretty and springlike?
 This hand-tinted 1951 photo of a baby in springtime is just too cute to resist.
 In 2004, my daughter sent me the above card and I have always loved it.  She and her hubby were moving cross-country at the time and she sent this from Estes Park, Colorado as they traveled West.  I frequently display it in May either as part of a ribbon board or elsewhere in my decorating.  You may see it again in a few days as I hope to post about a few favorite/vintage Mother's Day cards.

Lastly is the May illustration from the 1961 Woman's Day calendar.  Sweet, isn't it?

Hope you have enjoyed this look at some springtime paper treasures!  I'm sharing today with Vintage Charm and Share Your Cup Thursday.  Also with No Place Like Home and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.