There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and little look inside 17 November 2014

Outside my window...there is a cold rain falling steadily.  As the sun gradually lights up the sky the drops that line the tree branches glisten and glitter in the feeble light.  Though it is chilly and damp the bird sing gaily as if to encourage all who listen.  There are cardinals, finches, titmice, and jays all vying for the feed that will give them the energy to continue their antics another day.

I am thinking...that a wood stove or fire place would be a nice addition to this house.  Back home a day like today would have been declared a day to curl up by the fire, read a book, and drink a hot cup of tea.  

I am thankful....wait for it...wait for it...the local mall.  Now that my family members have picked themselves up off the floor let me explain.  Yesterday after mass I went to the local mall to walk since it was a bit too cold even for me.  Though the stores were closed the mall proper is open for those who wish to walk in the mornings.  Ryan your mother has joined the ranks of elderly mall walkers!

This is joy and imagination.  My daughter Kim frequently sends pictures of the girls as they go about their daily business of being children.  This is Savannah dressed as Cinderella.  

And Kaycie just being cute.  What a pleasure and joy it is to be able to share in their childhood.  The sounds of their little voices raised in song and pretending brings me back to the days when my people were young.  Thank you Kim.
I am remembering...warm spring days with family.  Watching Layn help Papa plant trees.

I remember the excitement of the little people spending time with their grandfather. The chatter of their voices asking him questions and pointing out their observations will stay with me forever.

 A little boy, any little boy from our family saying, "I holp you" is a treasure that is beyond compare.

 I am reading...a new book that Doug bought me this past weekend called 7 Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn.

In the creativity department...I have two bag commissions to work on today and get shipped out tomorrow.  I am finished with the boat project, hooray! My hands are thanking me.  Progress is being made on various Christmas gifts and the shipping on those will commence shortly.

From the kitchen...squash soup and homemade biscuits will be on the menu tonight.  Something warm, filling, and mild I think is called for on a day when the rain falls and the cold keeps the heart on edge.

A few plans for the rest of the week...lots of reading, sewing, praying, talking with my little people, and living of my life I think.  I am finally really learning some lessons that I was taught in the past but that never stuck before.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

I am trying to imitate the innocence, simplicity, and energy of this little boy.  Though he is not flesh of my flesh nor blood of my blood he has a bond that is more real.  He is the grandson of my heart.  He was born or my choosing and that makes him beyond precious to me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and little look inside. 10 November 2014

Outside my window...there is frost on everything and a definite nip in the air.  If I look up I can still see the moon.  On days like this, when the moon is well up in the sky I imagine that it has made a tryst with the sun and just for a few hours they get to be together.The sun's embrace can be seen by the brightness of its reflection off the moon.

I am thinking...about the weekend past.  Matthew and I got to spend some time together.  I was graciously welcomed by the family of his friends and treated to not only their hospitality but also made to feel a real member of the family, if only for a day!  
God knows what the soul is in need of even if the soul does not.  Mr. and Mrs. Curley don't know how the warmth, (both literal and figurative) brought back memories that soothed my heart.  Family prayers recited around the wood stove, the clatter of the stove in the morning as Mr. Curley made the fire to warm up his family, the laughter shared and the blessings and embraces given to their children reminded me of raising my own family.  

I am thankful...for families.  The family that I am a part of and the larger family that God has blessed us all with.  I have been frequently comforted by the familiarity of going to mass when away from home because the Catholic Church and the mass are so welcoming and well known to me.  The same is true about spending time with a truly Catholic family.  The framework that the practice of the faith creates for family life is a blessing to visitors to the Catholic home.

 I am remembering...hugs shared with my babies, laughter, tears, and contentment.  We are not an island nor did God create man to be so.  It is the connections that teach us about God, ourselves, and how to live so to be with Him in heaven one day.

In the creativity department...there was none this weekend, at least not from the sewing room.  My journal, however is full of reflections, poems, phrases, and other bits of wisdom gleaned from my time away.

Mary-Kate this guy is a new friend that I made while on my travels.  They say everything is bigger in Texas and that may be so, but the chickens are definitely impressive in Bethune, South Carolina!

An indulgence...on my way to see Matthew I passes this cemetery tucked into a little clearing in the woods and promised myself that on the way home I would stop and make a visit.  Yesterday to begin my journey home I visited the people buried here.  Though hardly modern the graves here have been lovingly surrounded by a beautiful stone wall.  The beloved dead here have been carefully tended to by the residents of the community and it is quite obvious, while walking around, that the tenants are visited frequently. Color me strange but I cannot resist a cemetery, especially an old one.

From the kitchen...there are thankfully plenty of leftovers to fall back on.  My loving husband cleaned the house for me while I was gone and all that I have to do today is care for mom, do a couple of loads of laundry, and finish up in the sewing room.

A few plans for the rest of the week...keep the glow and determination that comes from reflection and love shared wrapped tightly around me.  Though that cloak will be my warmth and comfort I hope to extend it around all those I meet this coming week.  The gift that I have been given is only good if it is allowed to wrap itself around others thus growing and fulfilling its purpose.

I am reading...The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell.  I am in a definite Arthurian mood lately and thought I would revisit my collection of Arthurian literature.
Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...the moon and the sun are sharing the morning.  I wonder what they whisper to each other on cold mornings like this one is.  Does the sun wrap herself around the moon to keep it warm when it is frosty out?  Does the moon crave the warmth of the sun as the seasons march determinedly toward winter?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drinks from a loving kitchen

I am of the opinion that the best traditions have to do with food and drink!  Countless times this family has come together to cook, eat, and enjoy each other's company.  Though we are scattered to the winds lately keeping traditions is a good way for my husband and I to bring back warm memories of times spent together on the farm.  

One of those traditions has to do with the making of various beverages, including so called adult beverages.  Now that it is cranberry season I have commenced the making of my cranberry cordial.  This particular drink is not awfully popular with my boys but I have wonderful memories of sitting with my daughters, Mary-Kate and Melissa by a warm fire sipping cordial and knitting.

Since it is such a good and easy recipe I thought I would share it here for those who would like to try.  Caution, once you try it there is great difficulty waiting for it to fully mellow and mature before you take a drink.

Cranberry Cordial 

3 cups fresh cranberries (one 12ounce bag), picked over and washed
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups 100-proof vodka
2 teaspoons grapefruit zest

Coarsley chp cranberries in food processor or blender and transfer to a clean 2-quart container.  (I use a 2 quart canning jar)  Add sugar, stir, and let stand for 1 hour.  Add water, vodka, and zest. Cover tightly and let stand in a cool, dark place for 1 month.  Shake 2-3 times a week to prevent clumping of fruit.
Use a coarse sieve or colander to strain out solids. Discard. (I have frozen the mash in lumps on a cookie sheet to use over ice cream.) Strain again using a fine-mesh strainer. Transfer to clean container and let stand for 1 week.  Rack or filter into final container. Cover and age for at least 1 month more before serving.

Here's today's batch waiting for the liquid and zest to be added.  When I strain I often use multiple layers of cheese cloth since it does the best job.  I also do the final rack into screw cap wine bottles that I have saved.  Remember to keep lids screwed tightly on so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate away.  
This has a beautiful ruby color that is pretty served in a cut glass cordial glass.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and a little looks inside.3 November 2014

Outside my is COLD!  This morning I listened as my husband scraped the ice from his car before he left for work.  Though I am hardly used to him leaving for work in the morning, hearing him scrape the car on his way out is not an unusual happening.  When we were still on the farm, this man who loves me so much, used to scrape the car clean on his way past to the barn.  He cleaned it off in anticipation of any errand I might have to run that day.  He did it out of love for me.  It didn't matter if it was cold and windy, snowy, or there were inches of accumulation, he did it anyway.

I am thinking...about love lately.  Not the silly, syrupy stuff that fills the movies and novels of the day, but the real stuff.  The love that scrapes the ice off a car that may not be leaving the driveway that day, the love that chronicles the lives of grandchildren for a grandma hundreds of miles away.  This type of love, self-sacrificing, giving, and joyful is the kind of love that my days are filled with and surrounded by.  I live in a glorious world that is defined by love and it humbles me.

I am thankful...for sunshine, oak leaves falling, wood smoke, and breezes.  

I am Sunday evenings spent cooking hot dogs over a fire, listening to my children as they played together, and the smell of the apple wood as it burned and lighted up our nights.

I have been working...trying to finish orders and build up a supply of things for sale.  The embroidery machine has been running constantly creating lovelies to please the eye.  I truly enjoy searching for designs that will make people happy and then incorporating them into my creations.

From the kitchen...sweet potato soup is on the menu! Lately I cannot get enough of those lovely orange vegetables.  Maybe I will bake some chicken to go with it and possibly some pumpkin bread on the side.

I am reading...CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, again for the gozillianth time!  This time of year, the cooler weather, the end of the Liturgical season all seem to inspire me to reread old favorites and discover new truths in them.

A few plans for the rest of the week...ignore the pain in my hips and legs brought on by the cold and Saturday's rain and drive into a fresh week of creativity, care for my mother, and loving my husband. All of that will be punctuated by chats with MK and Melissa, glimpses of Christopher and Layn, Stories of Savannah and Kaycie as told to me by Kim, and prayers for all of those that I love.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you....

This morning's view out the window of my workroom.  If I don't focus on that shed back there I can almost imagine that I am living in the woods...almost.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and a little look inside

Outside my window...the sun is beginning to lighten the sky.  The neighbors next door have chickens and their adolescent rooster is attempting to crow to let us all know it is time to start a new day.  The school bus is coming through the development picking up the kids for another school day while the activity at the airport has picked up and planes can be heard taxiing along the runway in preparation for take off. The mockingbirds, bluejays, and cardinals are all out calling and gossiping to each other as the gather their morning hoard of seeds and berries.

I am thinking...about blood pressure, health insurance, appreciation of things lost and several other not quite related topics.  

I am thankful...for this man and the precious time that we have to be together.  He has been working six day weeks at his job lately and so we have less time to share.  How blessed we were to live where he worked for all the years the kids were growing up.  To be able to pack them all into a trailer, hook up a tractor and drive out to whatever field he was working in was a blessing that I took for granted at the time.  All the years of having to cook 3 meals a day (gasp, doing my duty) was a blessing in disguise that I never really understood until now.  

I am remembering...times spent having picnic lunches by our favorite clearing, long walks through the woods (ostensibly to look for standing logs to sell) to get some alone time together, or sitting under the stars saying the rosary while a fire burns merrily before us.

From the kitchen...there is leftover chicken stew, salmon salad, and green beans to be finished up. That should get me off the cooking hook at least for today.

Surprises and blessings...yesterday's trip to Georgia just to see this waterfall!  The drive was beautiful as was the walk to the falls.  When we rounded the bend and came upon this sight it was breathtaking.  These falls drop and unimpeded 186 feet.  The water in the creek beyond the falls made more noise than the water falling from the cliff.  It was so restful to sit there listening to the sounds the water makes as it works its way down stream.  Later we drove to the lake that is the source of the falls and had a picnic.

In the creativity department...I took some time off last week to make some pants for my granddaughter Kaycie.  The little imp insists on growing!  Being the grandma I couldn't just make some plain pants for my little girl.  I have to embellish and make them fun for her to wear at the same time.

A few plans for the rest of the week...get the house into shape again! I hesitate to let ReNee' know that I haven't done a whole lot of cleaning since we got back from Washington.  So, with that being said, cleaning and laundry are the first order of business today.  There are phone calls to be made, sewing projects to be completed and shipped, and emails and messages to be answered and sent. That should about do it for today! I guess the rest of the week can take care of itself.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you....
The glorious blue of the sky yesterday is a good image to keep in mind while the north enjoys cold, damp, and a slight chance of snow.

Monday, October 20, 2014

From the inside looking out

Outside my is dark with millions of stars winking above and a little crescent moon floating effortlessly above our little corner of the world. It is quite nippy out, about 45 but oh so fresh and clean smelling!

I am thinking...about changes.  Change comes, it is the true definition of life, and no matter how much we might fight it change of some kind is inevitable.  This week I want to think about and concentrate on conscious and deliberate change.

I am thankful...for forests, streams, and the scent of dying leaves in the air.

I am remembering...the sight of this tree in my son's backyard.  We kind of got to know each other when I was visiting last month.  The tree and its setting symbolize for me the rightness and tranquility of Ryan and Kathleen's home.

From the kitchen...there must be some major cooking going on today.  The refrigerator is bare of leftovers so this lazy wife has nothing to fall back on.  I think fettucine with spinach, mushrooms, and feta, a baked chicken, and summer squash will be on tonight's menu.

I am reading...three books at once suddenly. I have managed to fit reading into my life again (for now) and seem to be trying to make up for lost time.  I have a couple chapters left in Mother Theresa's biography, The Dog Listener has been entertaining me all weekend, and St. Therese's biography is filling my heart with renewed hope.

My husband continues to be my rock and my connection with sanity.  The oneness of marriage is a grace and blessing that cannot be overstated nor should it be neglected.  I pray that I am a similar help to him and that he too considers me a partner that he is pleased to walk through this world with.

Surprises and blessings...yesterday we took mom to a nearby mill and historic sight in order to get her out and get some exercise.  She gets plenty of stares as she trundles along the wooded paths with her walker.  By the time that we left for home her cheeks were pink and she was trying hard to tell us something of her feelings about the afternoon.  There is a nature trail at this site that is a mere 3/4 of a mile long. However when you get to the halfway point at this covered bridge you might as well be hundreds of miles away from anything. The silence and peace are so profound.  The only thing to be heard the whole time we were walking was the conversations of the stream as it made its way over the rocks in its bed and the rustle of leaves as the pushed their way through the crowds of hangers on on their way to the ground.

In the creativity department...I made and sold five minion hats this week along with the two that I am sending to Layn and Christopher. My granddaughters, Kaycie and Savannah have outgrown the ponchos that I made them a almost two years ago so it is time to come up with something larger.  Purple and pink are their favorite colors so of course I had to paw through my stash and find just the right combinations to please my little princesses.  This is my first effort.  I hope they like them.

A few plans for the rest of the hard and pray harder.  The weather man is calling for sunny, cool, and crisp fall days with downright chilly nights for the whole of this week.  I plan on being outside as much as I can soaking in the scents and sights of autumn.  Maybe take a drive up to the mountains later in the week.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...I think I could sit and watch and listen to the mill wheel turning every day.  There is something about the sound of water that sets my thoughts in order and takes the tension out of my body.  The constancy of the turning wheel with the endless fall of the water makes me think of the shower of grace that God pours onto us.  We just need to be the wheel that catches his blessings, makes use of them, and then passes them on to others.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hints, tidbits and a little look inside

Outside my is dark! Of course it is dark since the time is only 3:42 AM!  We had some serious thunderstorms in the night with quite the downpours!  Because I rarely, if ever, sleep when the thunder is booming and the lightning is flashing here I am sitting up with no hope of making up for lost z's.  Autumn has finally arrived here in the south.  The past few days have been crisp in the morning and evening with warmish afternoons.  The colors, though not as brilliant as back home, are changing and mellowing the countryside.  Southerners seem to have some kind of thing about burning leaves so the air lately has been redolent with the acrid odor of burning leaves. 

I am thinking...about circumstances and happenings and how they can either be accepted as means of grace and sanctification or they can be railed against.  Yesterday was one of those happenings.  Due to a migraine on Saturday afternoon I wasn't able to get to confession and evening mass.  Still in need of confession I decided to drive into Anderson where there is a parish that offers confession before all the Sabbath masses.  Because of a bike and running race that I didn't know about the drive to and from mass, usually around 40 minutes took me more like 90.  My first reaction is usually to get annoyed and push the speed limit and/or find an alternate route.  Yesterday I decided to arrive at church calm and disposed to be with the Lord so I spent the trip to mass "examinating" my conscience, as my kids used to say.  The way home was spent reciting the rosary and listening to the Divine Office.  In spite of the rain and the delays I am happy to say that I arrived at both locations, mass and home, much more relaxed and disposed to be pleasant.

I am thankful for...farmer's markets, antique malls, and unusual architecture.  Saturday, before the rain moved in, we spent the day at a truly exceptional farmer's market in Anderson, browsing an antique mall, and enjoying a walk through the historic part of town admiring the architecture.

From the that it is definitely cooler I am going to make Pork and Mushroom Stew for our supper tonight.  Whenever I make this dish I think about my son, Adam who is a particular fan.  Though we will have it over brown rice rather than mashed potatoes the memories this meal will invoke are as comforting as the food.

I am reading..Accidental Theologians by Elizabeth A. Dreyer

I am hearing...the soft sound of rain on the roof, the whir and buzz of the ceiling fan over my head, and the grind and plop of the ice maker dumping its load into the bin. I miss the chirp of the occasional cricket that would make its way into the house in NY at this time of year.  Other sounds that are missing here are the soft rustlings of the tenants of the old walls of the farmhouse, the soft snuffles and snorts of the pigs across the road, and the awakening sounds of the cattle across the road as they come to the feed bunk to see what has been left from the night before.

A few plans for the rest of the week...there is a little bit of sewing left on my big boat project to finish. I didn't count on the stress and strain working on marine canvas would have on my hands so it is taking longer that it should.  I have picked up a sewing student and will spend this week working out scheduling kinks, developing a lesson plan, and generally looking forward to the new challenge.  

Updates and reflections...because there are those who actually read this and are interested I include a bit about my mother.  Physically she is strong and very healthy.  We take her walking and she and Doug do her exercises every day so her strength and mobility are maintained.  An added benefit of all the exercise is better sleep at night, for all of us!  Mentally she is very much subject to the vagaries of her disease.  When she speaks she isn't always able to find the words that she wishes to use which is a frustration for all of us but we manage to figure out what she means most of the time.  She has no idea who anyone she meets is but that fact doesn't seem to be a bother either. She just nods and goes about her business.  Her world is mostly populated with memories from long ago and people that either are no longer alive or she hasn't seen in decades.  However, if that is what makes her happy and peaceful who are we to jerk her into a reality she cannot understand nor tolerate.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

This is an old railroad depot in Anderson.  The space inside is home to a very large antiques mall.  Though the items for sale are either overpriced or hardly useful it was fun to spend part of Saturday browsing through the treasures housed there and remember times long past.