Saturday, March 7, 2009

Letters, Packages, Ribbons, and Bows



Just sharing my pretty envelope from a certain Auntie whom I love around here. I have been shaking faerie dust off everything for a while now. ;>



And in the same day's post a package from Robin with extras tucked in. Shop with Etsy or with Ebay or from some of our wonderful blogging buddies and you'll know the joy of finding a unique, one-of-a-kind item.

Oddly enough, it was Aunt Amelia's where I first saw this darling picture and thought to myself that it would look sweet in my sewing room. Fine. Fast forward just a few short days and there it was at Robin's The Punkin Peddler.



Look at the other treasures that Robin tucked in...I so love the decorated clothespins, which I have already put to work.





See how prettily everything was wrapped and just look at the ribbon, which is a gift, too. I couldn't resist doing this with it...



That idea was borrowed directly from something Melissa shared at The Inspired Room yesterday.

Thanks to both Aunt Amelia and Robin! You gals know how to make a day brighter.

Have a happy, restful weekend.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kitty Cat

Do you all have a little stash of ideas or photos for use on your blogs? Quite a number of them exist here. Ninety-nine per cent never get used. I was planning to go in quite a different direction this morning until...

This morning while my beloved ran to the store for the morning paper and some milk, I busied myself in the kitchen getting breakfast ready — oatmeal, orange juice, our vitamins measured out, the coffee perking — the usual. When I sat down at my place, there was a cute little fuzzball perched by my bowl looking at me. My beloved obviously extended his shopping list.



Tiny little kitty cat has been placed on a high shelf out of harm's way. If Miss Fioré ever finds her, she'll not know that it's a kitten, she'll think mouse.

Another wintry mix here today, but that does not prevent me from wishing you a warm almost-spring day!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Perhaps Today Is The Day?

...that we shall see how this looks on the gal and not on the hook?

Don't you love it when all the loose ends get tied up into one neat tidy package? I do! That's why I'm so happy to send you right over to see Lovella wearing the new apron that she won on my recent giveaway. She wears it beautifully! (And do look for the added bonus in wearing one of these aprons.)

Have a happy day, Dear Ones...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Turtle Cake Among Other Things

When my parents moved to the home where they now live, I was almost four and my sister almost one. A few years later, the Smiths arrived and within months my mother and Sibbie Smith had a path beaten across the field that separated the two homes... a path that led directly from one back door to the other.

What an easy friendship Sibbie and my mother had. They rarely telephoned one another; they simply showed up on each other's doorstep whatever the need — a cup of sugar or a cup of coffee and conversation. This went on for years, but eventually the Smiths bought another home across town and the relationship changed. Not that my mother and Sib don't maintain their friendship to this day, but they certainly don't enjoy that ease of visiting.

Somewhere along the way, by the time I left home for college, most mothers were working outside the home. My own mother returned to teaching to help with my education and things changed radically for her. When she returned home at the end of a day in the classroom, she simply didn't have the energy to pursue friendship in the way that she had before. She would sometimes mention it wistfully in passing.

Today, as I sit at my keyboard and try to stay connected at some level, I find myself wishing that more women were able to stay home. In those former times, women created the sense of neighborhood. They were the ones who cemented the kids and the husbands and everyone together in community. My father and Eb Smith were/are close friends because their wives were friends first.

By the time that I was a young wife and mother, I, too, was working outside the home. There were precious few hours to pursue friendships. They occurred naturally at the workplace, but not in the neighborhood. In fact, one was fortunate to know his or her neighbors. I didn't know all of mine. I didn't have a path beaten to my neighbor's back door.

What am I trying to spit out here? Just that I appreciate Blogdom for the sense of neighborhood that it provides. It may be artificial, but it is a good alternative to talking to oneself and twiddling thumbs. You see, there're precious few women I know, either in my neighborhood or out of it, who aren't in the workplace. Can you imagine if I visited and communicated this much with any one of those women I know who do not work outside the home? I'd wear out my welcome very soon.

So thank you for inviting me to your homes in Blogdom. Thank you for sharing your ideas and the books you read. Thank you for telling me about your projects, the flowers you grow, and the way you decorate.

You will note that I have made a few changes here. I really didn't want to, but A Haven was getting quite sluggish and so slow in loading that I've had a few complaints. When it became a problem for me, I knew that something had to be done.

My plan is to feature five blogs a week in the new format right here and then rotate around. You may see that some blogs have been dropped at the new site and some new blogs have been added. I hope that you'll peek in on my buddies from time to time. This may not be a solution that works at all. I've agonized a fair bit because featuring other blogs makes me happy and I'd prefer to do it on this page. We'll see how it goes...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We're celebrating another birthday today. John is 26...again. ;>

We baked Tina's Chocolate Turtle Cake last night. You can find this delicious recipe right there with all the wonderful photos that Tina is so well known for doing. I'll leave you with a photo of molten caramel as a tease...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Bowl of Sunshine



Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits. Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds. Fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds. ~H.W. Longfellow

I'm not finished here, but coffee is on! (On second thought, yes, I am finished here and will save what I've been pondering for tomorrow. Enjoy your Tuesday!)

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's in a Name Game

Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread said that I could play and I thought it high time for some levity around here. Either that or I'm losing my marbles.


1. REAL NAME: Vee (hahahahaahahahahahahaha...)

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's and father's middle names): Jane Willis

3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad): John Victor

4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name): Swave (Oh that's awful!)

5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Yellow Cat

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born): Lynn Quantico

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav drink, add "THE" to the beginning): The Blue Flavored Water (huh? huh? It's got a certain ring!)

8. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): Eeon

9. STREET NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie): Rocky Road Thin Mint

10. ROCK STAR NAME (pet's name and street where you live): Fioré Oak (I made that last bit up. I'm already in the witness protection program and I'm not telling you where I live!)

11. EXOTIC NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on): Ginger Pleasant

12. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of real name plus-izzle): Veeizzle

13. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black, and the name of one of your pets): Black Towser

Would you like to play, too? If so, consider yourself tagged!

Oh, hint, hint, Kathy shared that she would be celebrating 200 posts in March. Perhaps we should keep a careful eye on her blog. ;>

Have a wonderful Monday...

(It's snow, snow, and more snow here. How are you faring?)




AccuWeather Map

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Growing My Wonder

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We all know the feeling of a season dragging on. It may be a season of the year or a season of life.

Recently, I shared that I have been wandering about in a winter of my mind. This winter of mind is much like the winter outside my door. I've hunkered down not wanting to do much beyond the walls of my home. My sphere revolves around me and my beloved and this place. Marriage has been wonderful, but no marriage, however great, can take the place of an awakened spirit. In fact, I believe that both of us have been struggling with this winter of mind. You, too?

So what a relief to find a book that perfectly described the condition and teaches a way to work beyond it. I identify with the following paragraph. My name could well be placed in the parentheses and it would be accurate.

(They) are indifferent, stoic. We recognize them [the wonderless] by their fat hearts, dull ears, sluggish eyes. They have large empty spaces between their thoughts and connections to a purpose larger than themselves. They fight to get and keep control. They stand rigidly stationed at the hub of their universe. Nothing's sacred except what affects them personally.

A Piece of the Solution:

Wonder reminds the wonderless of the unknown, those things out of their control or outside of their experience: mysteries to be solved, meanings to unravel, spiritual realities to face.

A sense of wonder can be a bother. It takes time and energy to see deeply. Wondering disrupts peace and tranquility. Wonder stirs fires. Wonder opens strange doors. Wonder finds stories in the forest when it is so much easier to plow through and get on home.

So this is why I've been riding around in a truck that rumbles through town plowing snowbanks.

It will be why I have a date in March with my grands to play in the mud. I mean it. We're going to get good and dirty. I am making rivers and dams and we're going to sail twigs and boats downstream at the end of the drive you see here.

It's the reason that my computer is going to be shut down more often. The television has already been given the boot.

It'll be why I am scanning the clouds, breathing deeper, and looking at the moon in the middle of the night.

It's why I'll continue to join my beloved for morning devotions when I don't always "feel" like it.

In the end, my hope is that I will have found that I have been on a perpetual quest for wonder...that I have enjoyed a sense of awe in this world that God has given and in the people that He allows us to know and love.

I'm not going to limit my wonder to the little screen before my face nor the larger one that sends out messages that I don't wish to receive. I'm going to slow down. I'm going to listen to more birdsong and not only symphonies or praise music.

In the end, too, I hope that I will have walked closer to God. That I will praise Him more, thank Him more, worship Him more, appreciate Him more, know Him more.

Quotes have been taken from Awakening Your Sense of Wonder: Discovering God in the Ordinary by Janet Chester Bly.

Please join Melissa at The Inspired Room for more discussions on The Disconnect Challenge:Revisited.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Valentine Arrives



My win from Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage arrived yesterday! What a beautifully packaged delight it was. The protective packaging was old patterns (I must check them out carefully) and strips of music. And, as if the woven heart embellished with lace, buttons, and an adorable key charm weren't enough, the heart was filled to the brim with handwritten recipes and newspaper recipe clippings that Miss Sandy tells me are from her personal collection. I am so touched by her thoughtful gesture.



We'll be revisiting this once the rhubarb grows high enough to be harvested because there is a recipe for Rhubarb Roll that I am definitely going to try.

Thank you, Miss Sandy!

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rushing It?


It may look like this outside...

But inside is another story...



Am I rushing it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Such a Fun Day It Was



First things first...the video I shared yesterday was not the video that my beloved wished me to share. The one below is.

Sooo, it was my birthday yesterday. I'm still ♣*♥@ years and one day older than Lovella. She offered such a good example of how to lovingly provide photos of ourselves for our families...you know what I mean? At some point, we become invisible women. At some point when the hair is graying, the derriere has slipped another inch or the chin has gone slack. Lovella says that smiling is her best beauty tip. I say something else entirely, but see for yourself.



Exactly! Hide behind the camera and shoot into the mirror. Do NOT under any circumstances hand the camera over to another person.

Speaking of which, I received the best tip ever on picture taking from Joni @ Cote de Texas. I included that link because Joni shows us exactly how it's done though that is not the topic of her post. Look carefully for pictures of Joni. I refer you now to the final comment on Vanity, Thy Name Is... for Joni's great advice. Some of us need it; some of us don't need it yet, but if all goes well, everyone will need it some fine day.

My best birthday gift? Well, let me just say that my family is very generous and I love them all. I'll be going to the movies and enjoying a gift or two on their dime and I have flowers, books, dishcloths, tea towels, perfume, and decorative things. But the best gift was that my baby grand said "Nonni" for the first time. It warmed my heart!

Oh, should I be concerned about the message on the birthday bag? Don't forget to listen to the video...just a few seconds. (Please don't listen to it over and over as some around here have been doing.)

Have a great Wednesday!

Quick Stop Wittle Whoop

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothing But Blue Skies



Is there anything more beautiful than a vivid blue sky against snow?

Today is an adventure day. We're off for breakfast and wherever the mood strikes us. We won't be going in the truck, but I thought I'd give you an idea of what our plowing day was like yesterday. You'll see two houses that are probably very familiar to you by now if you have visited me before. Have a fun day!

(Edited to Add: For whatever reason, I can't figure out how to get a video on the same post. Still, it's just below so not so bad.)

Nothing But Blue Skies~Video

Monday, February 23, 2009

Scrabble



Don't you just love a good game of Scrabble? Me, too, but that's not what's making me so happy about this two-dollar Scrabble game. Nooo, not at all. Now I can do this:











...and in case I forget where it is...



Best of all...



Create a wonderful and warm day...

Edited to Add: And doesn't Scrabble provide the perfect way to wish a very special blogger this?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crème Brûlée and Butter Chicken

The crème brûlée was so good! For Christmas I gave John a Crème Brûlée Set because I'd he'd been dying for one. Turns out that I shouldn't have bothered with the set because the ramekins that came with the set are ridiculously small and the butane "torch" is as well. When it came time to fire off the brown sugar topping, John used the great big torch. Very exciting! As you can see, I'm just using Pyrex custard cups, which gives a more reasonable portion. In case you've never tried making this dessert, let me assure you that it was very easy and the results were over the moon. If you ever need to impress guests...

Here's the recipe that I used, which I've had floating about so long that I don't know where it's from. (Perhaps an old Country Living magazine?)

Crème Brûlée

-Ingredients-

√ 2 cups heavy whipping cream
√ ½ cup sugar
√ 1 TBS real vanilla extract
√ 5 large egg yolks
√ 12 tsp brown sugar

-Method-

* Heat oven to 325°
* Place six ¾-cup ramekins in a 13x9x2" baking pan.
* Mix cream, sugar, and vanilla in a heavy medium saucepan.
* Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a simmer.
* Cover pan and reduce heat to very low and simmer gently for ten minutes.

* Whisk yolks in bowl until blended well.
* Gradually whisk yolks into hot cream mixture (after the mixture has already simmered for ten minutes) until just blended.

* Divide custard between ramekins.
* Pour enough hot water into the baking pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the dishes.
* Transfer the baking pan to the oven.
* Bake custards for 35 minutes. Custards should be nearly set in the center when gently shaken.

* Use tongs or a spatula to remove the custards from the pan.
* Cool for 30 minutes.
* Chill at least three hours and up to two days.

* When ready to serve, sprinkle 2 tsp brown sugar over each custard, place on baking sheet for added protection and either broil to brown or use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar.


All I have to say is yummy!

And, just because a couple of you mentioned the Butter Chicken, I'll toss in that recipe, too.

Butter Chicken

-Ingredients-

☺ 2 beaten eggs
☺ 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (What's fun about this is that any flavored cracker works...I've tried many different kinds and they all work, just be sure to use a cracker as that's the texture crumb you're looking for.)
☺ ½ tsp garlic salt
☺ ground black pepper to taste
☺ 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (I prefer to cut them into strips creating a chicken finger...more sides to coat, in which case, you'll need more crumbs.)
☺ ½ cup butter cut into pieces.

-Method-

* Preheat oven to 375º
* Place eggs and crumbs in two separate bowls.
* Mix cracker crumbs with garlic salt and pepper.
* Dip chicken in eggs.
* Dredge chicken in the crumb mixture until well coated.
* Arrange chicken in a Pam sprayed 9x13 baking dish.
* Place butter over the top of the chicken.
* Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until juices run clear.


Have a happy Saturday and, if you try either of these, please let me know!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Gratitude List

Maybe I didn't exactly celebrate, but I did consider being grateful...this is my gratitude list for a snow day (we're enjoying another today). I really should do these more often because even though a few nasty things crept into the day, a few disappointments, they were far outmatched by the delights. This really must be remembered.

1. After my beloved had been out plowing, shoveling the roofs and the walks, I made him some hot chocolate...from scratch.

2. He brought home some donuts.








3. And together we enjoyed a mid-morning snack. We used our Mr. and Mrs. mugs saved for special occasions. John's daughter sent those to us for a wedding gift.








4. I received an email from my daughter-in-law with a photo of my grands attached.



5. I was able to do a little decorating and some cleaning and organizing.








6. We had Butter Chicken for supper and my dishwasher cleaned up!















7. It was still light outside after five pm.








8. In the evening, I made crème brûlée...











9. using the new ramekins.












10. Such a cheery yellow...can't wait to taste one.











11. It was a wonderful and cozy jammie day.

Have a great weekend, Everyone. I'll catch you another day.

( Blogger always makes creating lists so much fun! Not. =} )

Celebrate Winter?

Spring is the only season that does not arrive a month early.

How pretentious can one be? (That's my own quote.)

It hasn't been a long, hard winter, though my heart hasn't figured that out. I am in some sort of winter in my mind that has lasted much too long. So this morning's snow matched my spirits...chilly.



After Valentine's Day, I changed the message on my little chalkboard immediately...



This morning, I was reminded to slow down, wait, abide, resist the urge to wish time away...

(You may read exactly what we did by following the link to Our Daily Bread on my sidebar.)

Check back tomorrow to see if I was able to do any celebrating.

Enjoy your day whether it be a spring one or, like mine, very much a winter one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Johnny's

Oh boy! Look what came in the mail on Valentine's Day!


Er...let's try again...


If I could just move Fioré's behind a bit...


There! Johnny's Seed Catalog is a delight through and through. This year, I'm most interested in these...



If you visit Johnny's, they'll send you a catalog of your own. I'm certain that you'll love it as much as Fioré and I do.



Oh, and see why I'm in love with herb disks right *here* on this video. Fascinating!

While we're discussing plants...let me share this info on Christmas cactuses/cacti.

Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. You can place the plants in a dark closet from about 8 P.M. - 8 A.M. each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. Christmas cacti will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees F, eliminating the need for the dark treatments. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.
Source

Guess my sister was right after all! And, guess what just hit the basement this morning? I'll report back in a month. Will that be in time for Easter?

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Power of Suggestion

Did you have a good Valentine's Day? I'm scooting around this morning to snoop and see what you have to say about it. My day was lovely, but I want to tell you about my Valentine's Eve. Don't get all **twitterpated, it's just funny. At some point in the night I became aware of my beloved standing over me offering something, something that smelled just like peanut butter. I'll use dialogue as it's so much easier that way.

I: What's that?!

He: A peanut butter sandwich.

I: Why?

He: (somewhat surprised) Because you asked me for one.

I: I asked you for a peanut butter sandwich? When?

He: Just now, you asked me for a piece of bread.

I: Are you kidding me?

He: Nooooo, and I repeated that back to you and you added 'with peanut butter on it.'

I: Well you know what you can do with it!

He: (muttering) Guess I'll be eating a peanut butter sandwich.

It's true love when your beloved eats a peanut butter sandwich that you ordered in the middle of the night. I was telling my son and daughter-in-law about this and my daughter-in-law told me that my son talks all the time in his sleep and that she just has to ignore it. Good advice for my darling, too, I guess. I truly had no idea that I talk/issue orders in my sleep.

Yesterday, I realized once again how powerful my suggestions are. I asked my sister how her Christmas cactus was doing. (Mine has one measly bud and I have followed "the rules" perfectly.) Again, dialogue...

She: Oh my yes, thank you for telling me how to take care of that cactus...it's loaded with blooms and has been blooming for months.



I: It has?!

She: Oh yes! Why within days of bringing it out of the basement it was blooming.

I: Out of the basement?

She: Yes, just like you told me. You said to leave it down there for a couple of months and forget about it.

I: Noooo, that's for geraniums, not for Christmas Cactuses.

At which point, my niece interjected...

"That Cactus was so happy to get out of that cold, dark basement it was willing to do anything."

Hmmmm, in that case, I think mine has earned some time in the basement!

Have a wonderful Monday, Dear Ones.

**twitterpated: excited for no account such as some (you know who you are) were wont to be over my Valentine Tea. Check comments for my response.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Prayer

Prayer is the language of a person burdened with a sense of need. It is the voice of the beggar, conscious of personal poverty, asking of another the things that are needed. It is not only the language of lack, but of felt lack, of lack consciously realized. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," means not only that the fact of poverty of spirit brings the blessing, but also that the poverty of spirit is realized, known, and acknowledged. Prayer is the language of those who need something — something which they, themselves, cannot supply but which God has promised them, and for which they ask. In the end, poor praying and prayerlessness amount to the same thing, for poor praying proceeds from a lack of the sense of need, while prayerlessness has its origin in the same soil. Not to pray is not only to declare there is nothing needed, but to admit to a non-realization of that need. This is what aggravates the sin of prayerlessness. It represents an attempt at instituting an independence of God, a self-sufficient ruling of God out of the life. It is a declaration made to God that we do not need Him, and hence do not pray to Him.

'Do you expect to got to heaven?" asked some one of the devout Scotsman.

'Why, man, I live there,' was the quaint and unexpected reply. It was the pithy statement of a great truth, for all the way to heaven is heaven begun to the Christian who walks near enough to God to hear the secrets He has to impart.

~selections from The Classic Collection on Prayer by E.M. Bounds




Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

...or as my daughter used to say, "Happy Valentimes Day!"



If you have not yet visited Warm Pie, Happy Home, please do; it's always a happy place where Ruthann dispenses excellent advice and ohhh, that playlist!

Picture Source

Friday, February 13, 2009

Planning a Valentine Tea

I am planning a Valentine Tea for my Beloved. He's pretty much a coffee drinker to the core. Hot chocolate every now and then and, just recently, I've been able to introduce tea. The Chocolate Raspberry Bliss shown is going to feature prominently at my tea party. You can find the mousse recipe I'd like to try at Celestial Seasonings. I've been wandering through Blogdom looking for something to complete the menu...perhaps some tea sandwiches such as my own Garden Patch Sandwiches (in the recipe section of my sidebar) and something more for dessert. Alice at Tea in My Cup (even if she is on an extended break from blogging) is my first stop. Also there are some delicious sounding coffee drinks posted at Kettle and Cup.

I did bake some cookies last evening...not a hit with the man...oh dear. Maybe that frosting will spiff them up. It occurs to me that the most romantic thing about these cookies is not that they are in the shapes of hearts and strawberries, but that they were baked on a silpat "made in France."














Today, I am busily working on Valentines...most especially the one for my grandmother as she is the one who adores this holiday. I'll be selecting one from Quill Cottage because Miss Sandy always provides great tutorials.

Have a wonderful Friday...gotta skate!