Friday, January 29, 2016

A Road Not Taken

The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.

~Lisa Wingate 


My daughter returned to school full-time this year. It so happened that she needed to switch out of one class for another this week. Upon arriving at the professor's office to request his permission for enrollment in his class, she found that the professor whose class she was leaving shared the same office and there he sat. Talk about awkward

She wrote Professor 1 a note thanking him for his time and saying that she hoped to have the opportunity to take one of his classes at some future time. She closed with the quote above. Apparently, he was impressed by this and sent her a thank you for the thank you.

A happy weekend to you... See you in February! 


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Keeping it Brief

Last time, I promised a puzzle report, a Catherine Holman puzzle report.


You were certainly correct about getting those edge pieces done!


I like using trays and cookie sheets and tin lids to put my pieces together elsewhere (think easy chair) before bringing them back to the table. If I need help with the transfer, I use a large spatula. (All tips learned from my mother who loved doing puzzles.)

Notice the fleece blanket is gone! Thanks to all who suggested it, including Catherine herself. ☺



 My other tools of the trade are a flashlight and a magnifying glass.
***

 I didn't know that I would have the grands' school pictures to share today, though they seem like a fitting bookend for Monday's post. I was so pleased with both photos. Love these guys! 

~Samuel age 10~

~Jakob age 9~

***
Did you set up your puzzle? 
 
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Monday, January 25, 2016

1925


Thank you for all the feedback on sleigh rides. A number have been on one. It was surprising to me and, of those who said that they had been over the Jingle Bell trail, no one had any disparaging comments to make. I may need to rethink the idea that they sound more fun than they are. 

The picture I used for the sleigh ride was an old Christmas card from my grandmother's collection as seen on my fridge above. It contains a nice note from Ross and Effie (who were among  my grandparents' dear friends). They owned a dairy farm with a view on the ridge above "the lake" in New Brunswick. (I do adore a prepositional phrase.) It was always great fun to visit them because the barn was full of kittens. Lots and lots of kittens. I don't remember the cows. Besides that, Effie kept the tidiest home and had the most darling yellow and blue kitchen. I have liked the combination ever since.


 So I had found the Christmas card and a whole lot more while tidying my bedroom on Saturday while so many of you were dealing with Jonas. Actually, I had been tidying all week and have more to show you another day. When your home receives a sudden influx of "stuff" where does it land? Everything, that I have no idea what to do with, lands in my bedroom. A week ago, I could hardly find my way to the bed. It's a little better these days. You can see the closet in need of organization there behind my grandmother's photo. (More on the photo in a bit.) 





I removed the Ruth Fielding series from the bookcase that lives in the closet and packed it away in boxes along with the vintage Nancy Drews and the newer Nancy Drews and the Bobbsey Twins set. I decided that they were taking up prime real estate. The closet will be this week's chore I believe.


As I have mentioned many times over, there are boxes and boxes of vintage photos. This particular one was taken in 1925 when Nan was Sweet Sixteen. As you can see I have tucked it into my winter display. My goal is to keep these photos accessible so that I can rotate and show them off. I also have my gallery wall for display, though it is filling up fast.


It was fun to get out my magnifying glass and take a closer look at this photo. Nan (her name was Irene) is wearing a pale pink dress, a string of pearls, a bracelet, and a pair of silver shoes. There are ribbons hanging from her shoulder...very feminine. This edit is very much to my liking with the blues beyond her. 


One of these stuffies is an old friend. His name is "Monkey." I  must have had a twisted sense of humor as a child for anyone can see that he is actually a rabbit with his long ears. He's a mess. Anyone holding onto old stuffed animals that have been loved right to death? I don't think that I could part with him, but he probably needs to be given a decent burial. Wait until I show you who else I am holding onto one day.

My one Downton Abbey thought...no spoilers (Susan Branch is providing wonderful commentary for Downton Abbey, [link goes to last week's; click on her home page for current offerings])...is this: has Tom gained a wee bit of weight? 

That's enough yabbering for a Monday. Join me Wednesday when I reveal how much progress has been made on the Catherine Holman puzzle and show you a positively geriatric stuffy. Aye! Life's exciting and, yes, I have been watching a lot of Monarch of the Glen. How could you tell?


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Sleigh Ride? I Think Not


I am still in my jammies today for no good reason as I do not have a cold, though I am cold. Perhaps I'm in solidarity with the folks anticipating a blizzard, which, bless God, will miss us. We did prepare with the purchase of food and the plowing of the driveway. Those things don't go to waste.
***

I've been watching one episode after the next of Monarch of the Glen on Netflix this week and all thanks to Judy at Cranberry Morning and more for the scenery than the story. Gorgeous! (Judy is a full-blown Anglophile and today she may just be featuring something from her travels in Great Britain.) Now I had tried to watch MotG back when it was new and never could get interested, but seeing Archie dodging buckets in season 1, episode 1 clicked with me. Things had been leaking around here, too. Ahem. Yes, things are also a bit threadbare here. Ever noticed that front hall carpet at Glenbogle? I am already halfway through Season Three. When the big changes come...Season Four or Five, I'm bailing.


This watching of old PBS programming is reminiscent of the winter five years ago when I watched one show after another of Larkrise to Candleford. My mother had passed and I needed diversion of the highest order.  Larkrise to Candleford helped get me through until spring when I could gain some equilibrium.
***

I made applesauce bread last night while the wind whipped around and we were comforted to eat it still warm and slathered with butter. (The recipe has been added at the bottom of the post.)
***

I bought a pork loin early in the week that lasted us many meals. I kept trying to reinvent the leftovers — pork with potatoes, pork on potatoes, pork on toast. It's gone now, which is probably good. I'm moving on to Cheesy Corn Chowder tonight, thanks to Dotsie at Podso. (My recipe is in the recipe box located in my sidebar.)
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 I keep thinking that I want to go on a sleigh ride. What possesses me? It's way too cold for that. I'm pretty sure that sleigh rides sound more fun than they are. Do they sound like fun to you? Have you ever been on one?

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Vee's Applesauce Bread

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar (feel free to skimp if applesauce is also sweetened)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup walnuts are optional

Method:

1. preheat oven to 350°
2. grease and flour a standard bread loaf pan
3. mix eggs, sugar, oil, add in applesauce, mix well
4. Into flour, add dry ingredients and, using whisk, stir well
5. Add flour mixture slowly to wet mixture
6. When well incorporated, fold in walnuts, if desired

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. It may take up to 20 minutes longer.

Cool on wire rack

Yummy! Better the second day...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

*Chimney Smoke and Cheery Snowfolk

Brrrrr...it is cold outside and the wind doth howl. I'm not going anywhere. Good thing that some diversion arrived a few days ago all the way from Catherine Holman's place. She sent me *a puzzle that she gave away at Pigment of Your Imagination. I was a blessed winner. 

Now I don't do a lot of puzzles and my eyesight has not improved over the years, yet I set up the card table immediately in front of the French doors where the light is pretty good for a few hours in the early afternoon. As you'll soon see, I have not made a lot of progress. I refuse to get competitive with myself. The minute the eyes balk or the neck tenses, I am done for the day. John wondered aloud how long it would take me and I let him know that it may take several months. I am considering it my winter project.
(I may live to regret using a fleece blanket for my table cover.) For those who may not have met Cathie, she is an amazing folk artist and that card above? That's her artwork! The puzzle is also created from her artwork! I like puzzles that have lots of little scenes within scenes. 


Thank you so much, Cathie! I'll let you know when it's done and I'll even take a picture.

Want to take a guess how long it'll take me? Pertinent information: five hundred pieces, in the round, and a fleece blanket to fight. You might let me know if you do puzzles in the wintertime.

See you Friday Lord willing and the blizzard stays away.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Ramblemore

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I wish I had some lofty thoughts to share because his I Have a Dream speech is my favorite
of all time. 

When I taught speech writing (one of my favorite classes to teach), students were required to read many classic speeches. They would have to select a favorite, deliver it to the class, and defend their reasons for choosing it. I should have given myself the same assignment. Then I'd have more to say for this post today. 

I will say this: Race relations in the U.S. are not in a good place. My hope is that we'll go forward to better days than ever soon, but we have a long, long way to go to achieve Martin's dream.

***

No spoilers, but I did wear a big grin for the last twenty minutes of Downton Abbey.

***

Some asked if I would be watching Mercy Street. I lasted all of 12 minutes. Too many severed limbs for me. I remember visiting a living history museum where there was a discussion of 1800s medical practices. The story was that if you fell from the hayloft and broke a leg that you hoped and prayed that the doctor was out of town. In that way, you might get to keep it. Doctors were saw happy and not only in those foul conditions of war time, but in regular communities in small town Maine.

My great-grandmother (who wrote me the letter I discussed a few posts ago) had a grandfather who served in the Civil War. He made it through, but died of his injuries a few short years later. Her grandmother received a widow's pension for the rest of her life. You'd think I would appreciate Mercy Street. Not so much. You?

***

We have had a snowstorm over the weekend and are having another today. We have celebrated two birthday boys. Now they are ten and nine. I took zero pictures. I must be losing it. 


Here's Jakob last August and way back in 2007 when he and the blog were babies.☺

Next time, I have a blog win to share. Hint: it meant that I put up a card table in the best light I could find.

A good week to you! Thank you for peeking in. Say, do you have a favorite classic speech? 



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Friday, January 15, 2016

This I Know


People who are too fat know it and we don’t need to keep being reminded. I eat too much and am too fat, but my real vice is that I am bad tempered.
 ~ Julian Fellowes


I am joining Amy for Five on Friday for the first time! I am using the format "This I Know" inspired by reading the above quote at the above source. 

1. Since I am a horrible copycat, I will echo Julian Fellowes' comment. I am fat. I know it. You can shut up now. (Does this also make me bad-tempered?) 

2. Winter became a little brighter when Downton Abbey returned. I'm already in high anticipation for episode 3 on Sunday evening.




3. Spoilers are no fun. It can be a challenge not to be Newsy Nancy so thank you to all who are in the know, yet play it cool and coy. 

4. The minute you pull out of the donate dock at your nearest Goodwill, you will think of a way to use whatever it was that you dropped off. 

5. ♪Jesus loves me, this I know. (And He loves you, too.) The Bible tells me so. ♪
♥♥♥ 

You can find the other participants at Love Made My Home

A happy weekend to you! 
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hodge Podging Today

Joyce from This Side of the Pond asks the questions and the participants provide the answers.
 
1. Share one thing that really makes your day.

 Waking up? ☺ My first cup of coffee (usually my only cup of coffee) and morning time with John. Hearing from the kids or the grands is always great, too. Actually, hearing from most anybody is a super day. 
***
2. Lots of these kinds of lists out there, but one found here says the fifteen most colorful places on earth are:

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy~Burano, Italy~Havana, Cuba~Rio de Janiero, Brazil~Chefchaouen, Morocco~Balat, Istanbul, Turkey~Menton, France~Jodhpur, India~La Baca, Buenos Aires, Argentina~Guanajuato, Mexico~Capetown, South Africa~Valparaiso, Chile~Wroclaw, Poland~San Francisco, California~and Pelourhino, Salvador, Brazil.  

~Trip Advisor~


Of those listed which would you most like to see up close and in person? Of all the places you've seen or traveled in your own life, what would you say was one of the most colorful?

 Quiet and calm places would be my preference...a charming village or a cottage by the lake would be top shelf. Guess that eliminates these places, which I am sure have a charm all their own. 

As something of a concrete thinker, I'm going to say that the most colorful place I have ever visited was the Grand Canyon.
***
3."Everything you want is on the other side of fear." Jack Canfield  In general, would you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?


Somewhat. Or...everything you want is on the other side of funds. ☺ To be very serious, I truly believe that everything one wants/needs is on the other side of faith.
***
4. Imagine you're stranded on a desert island and dessert appears...what do you hope it is? Do you ever struggle to remember which spelling is desert and which is dessert?

a rootbeer float

not lately
***


5. What song almost always makes you cry?

The old hymns of the church are the ones that resonate with me.  There is a Fountain was the most recent one to make my eyes mist, though there are many that have that effect.
***
6. January is National Soup Month.  Everything from soup to nutsin the soupthick as pea soupsouped up...which saying most recently applies to your life in some way? Explain.


Everything from soup to nuts seems best. I have lived in four different states: Virginia, Maine, Oklahoma, and Arizona. I have taught every grade level from preschool to college with the exception of kindergarten. I have been married to two very different men (not at the same time ☺). I have lived in a large home and a small home... 
***



7. Write a two word note to your younger self. What does it say?


Pray First
***

8. Insert your own random thought here.


Mine is a common one as old as time: Where do the years go? My eldest grandson will be 10 this week. It feels like just yesterday that Sam arrived! It sure was a happy day!


This was the first picture of Sam to appear on the blog way back in July of 2007. He was a year and a half old. The photo on the right was taken last summer. I removed Jakob (his hand is on his brother's shoulder) for this side by side comparison collage, but Jakob's birthday is coming right up so I will be pairing him with a photo of his younger self next week.
*** 

Thank you for popping by today! If you'd like to find the other participants or participate yourself, please visit Joyce right *here.*
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Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Tree

No, no, it is not, definitely not, a Christmas tree. ☺ It is quite different. It is a winter tree, hence the label. I have finished packing Christmas away. The view in the Christmas closet looks just like a Tetris game, boxes and bins fitted just so. I forgot to pack the Christmas aprons so they will hang on a peg in the sewing room. I will still be finding Christmas items in June. Happens every year. It's the strangest thing as I do not even see the items. It's as if they are wearing a stealth cloak.

That snow out there? It has been greatly reduced after a massive rain storm throughout Sunday and overnight. I imagine the ski resorts are bemoaning the fact. It will get good and cold this week so they can make their own snow. 

So I am as  ready as I can make myself for winter with twinkling lights on a wee tree that make me grin just to see them. What are you doing to make winter easier to bear or do you not require the little games I play?
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P.S. Downton Abbey? A bit dull this second episode or is it only I who thinks so?

Friday, January 8, 2016

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

Hope that you have had a great week. For those of us who celebrate Christmas right through the twelfth day, I am sure that it has been a busy one getting the Christmas decor down and put away. I have a ways to go yet, but the tree is down and packed away in the garage. Do you write yourself helpful notes for next Christmas season? I do. I have reminded myself how many strings of lights there are and where the red button extension cords are and where the Christmas cards are and things like that. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I spent a very pleasant time reading through all the Christmas cards once again. I noted that they come in categories and took photos of some of the most notable ones. 

~2015 stack of cards~

~The Reason for the Season~


~Homemade Lovelies~

~Local Flavor~

~So Pretty~

~Families~

~From Family~

~With Sweet Messages~




As a regular reader, you know that I have been going through the vast amounts of ephemera that landed in my world when my parents' home was closed in autumn 2015. My mother saved so much! This is a precious, precious card and letter from my great-grandmother (pictured above with my grandmother). I was only six years old when she passed away so this was almost overwhelming to read. She writes and tells me how much she loves me and always will. She shares her memories of my singing and dancing for her. She offers sweet, gentle advice on how to cope with a challenging little sister. ☺  She sends money for my birthday for a dress with bows on it as that is what I told her I wanted. She closes with hugs and kisses for each member of the family telling me that she sent plenty for me to share. Yes, I did say overwhelming.

I am more determined than ever to remember to write sweet little notes in cards and letters. Sometimes we do not imagine how valuable they are to those who receive them, even years and years later.


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Zingers

So I was opening a new box of Cheerios while John watched when he said, "Stop! Make sure that you're opening from the right end."

"Do you think that I don't know how to open a cereal box?" I asked rather testily.

"Are you telling me that you have never opened the wrong end?"

"That's exactly what I'm telling you!"

"So all those other things you do are just flukes?"

Well, I never! If this keeps up we'll be a short skip and a hop from Can This Marriage Be Saved? ☺


We visited the boys and their tree last week. Sam had invited us as he wanted to show it off. It was a very pretty tree. They always have a real one and it smelled so good. Sam's favorite ornaments are the Santa hats, which are really egg cozies re-purposed.

 
 That's Jack the Beagle to the left and Bazil the Pug by the fire. Some grandmothers take pictures of the family. Mine was moving around too much.

After a while (45 minutes or so), Jakob asked, "When are these people going to go and get up to their own devices?" Well I never! On Christmas Day, the same grand had asked me if he could use my iPad and I said that he could except that I forgot where it was. Into the air he announces, "What's up with these old ladies who don't know where their iPads are?!" We are grooming him for Saturday Night Live. ☺☺☺

(Jakob loves the turn of a phrase and often enjoys using one that he has recently found in his reading or overheard. I try valiantly not to laugh, but it is very difficult not to guffaw. I'll leave the discipline to his parents who both had a turn with these situations.)

Jakob made a sweet ornament that has hung beautifully on our tree this season. I may have been reaching as it was being presented when I was politely told by his mom that he had made it especially for John.  Yes,  John and Jakob are buds. And that warms this Nonni's heart.  


I baked a pecan pie yesterday for our Epiphany dessert this evening. If you are honoring Epiphany, have a blessed one! Either way, enjoy a beautiful day... 
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Where Did They Go, Et Cetera, Etc.

I was shocked one morning a couple of weeks ago by what was going on at the bottom of my blog page. I went to bed one evening with over 500 Friends and woke the next morning with 480. Oh no! I wondered what I had done wrong to offend so many so quickly! Apparently, nothing. This is something that Google is doing. You can find a message on your Blogger Design Page about it in the Overview tab. (If you ever wondered in the first place. Did you?) I am happy to see the number ticking back up ever so slowly. Thank you to my new Friends. Perhaps some of the same Friends I lost. Not sure.


***

Oh aren't we off to a delicious start with Season 6 of Downton Abbey?! So pleasant, after all this time, to watch Downton Abbey once again. No big spoilers here today (nor in comments please), though I did love the way Lord Grantham dispatched a certain troublesome witchy woman. That man is wiser than I gave him credit for. Oh and I did love Violet's question to Mrs. Crawford: Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?

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A little off topic, but did you happen to see the Downton Abbey float at The Tournament of Roses Parade? Now that was beautiful. Wanda of Got a Minute or Two is showing some close-up shots of the floats, including the Downton Abbey one on this post. Wanda is revealing a couple of secrets about the float, too. ☺


***

Off to dismantle a bit more Christmas. I am playing a game. If I am caught taking down Christmas, I lose. How good that John is not the most observant man. Slowly is the name of the game. No more than five trips up and down stairs a day carrying a tray of treasures. In the mornings I pack those away and start over. Perhaps the tree will be all down and packed away by the weekend or perhaps I shall decide that we need a winter tree with lights only to cheer us for another while. After all, I decorate seasonally all year through and winter is the current season. 


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