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, December 8, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and a little look inside 8 December 2014

Outside my window...the mourning doves are vying with the jays and cardinals for their daily repast while a stiff breeze tries to blow all of them over the ridge onto the neighbor's lawn.  The weathermen are calling for a cool day here and lots of clouds.  I suppose that is appropriate since it is December.  I don't know whether to be confused or amused. Last week we had days in the 70's with so much sunshine  that the only thing summery that was missing were the leaves.  Today is feels and looks more like a late fall day in Upstate New York with the slight bite of approaching winter in the air.

 I had a message from Adam this morning, did I return his copy of "It's A Wonderful Life."  I am sure I did but I searched high and low and couldn't find it anywhere.  That movie is a special one for me.  At the lowest part of my life my husband paraphrased this quote from the movie to me.  He stopped my self-destruction by his love and devotion and hasn't stopped loving me since.  I am not a big "movie impacting life" fan but I am a sucker for a good quote any day.

Of course there are still days when this guy dominates my psyche, but hey we can't be George Bailey all the time. (actually my husband just about is)

I am thinking...about family far and near and how true the phrase "the more things change the more they stay the same" is.  One of my granddaughter's locked her sister in the dog kennel this weekend.  It wasn't malicious by any means. I am certain there isn't a malicious bone in the child's body. But I sure would have liked to have some insight into the imp that put the thought into her head.  Her father and uncles used to engage in the same kind of deviltry when they were young.  Again, no malice was intended.  They were acting on imagination and the capriciousness of childhood.  My hat is off to the girl's mother though. She has a patience and level of love and tolerance that I wish I had had at that stage of the game.

I am thankful...for the love and devotion of all my kids for each other.  The regard that they exhibit for each other is a balm to the heart of this mother.

I am sure that they love each other at least this much!!!! 

I am reading...not a thing currently. I finished up the book about confession and am taking a hiatus from reading so I can meet some deadlines and wrap up my pending work.

Creatively speaking...Santa's workshop is in full swing now that the commission work is wrapping up.  Today I sew buttons, make buttonholes, and do other bothersome finish work and then it is on to the things that this grandma has to complete for her little chicks.

Spiritually is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Nine months from now we will commemorate the birth of the Mother of God.  Today she is conceived in her mother's womb without the stain of original sin in order that she may be untainted and without blemish and worthy to house The Word Made Flesh.

From the kitchen...I think a celebratory meal is in order.  For my husband there will be bacon double cheese burgers with all the trimmings.  For myself there will be a high protein shake with raspberries. and my mother will choose not to enjoy here BLT.

On today's schedule....I will be attending noon mass to celebrate the Feast.  This is me whenever I get to go to a weekday mass.  Hello, Blessed Sacrament, here I am!!!!!

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish wrapping and shipping packages, keep trying to conquer Mount Washmore, finish small jobs and sundries so that I can begin to reduce the pile of UFOs in the garage, and maybe get some cleaning done around here.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with, and friends are what it is all about.  I am not just referring to Christmas and I'm not talking about when you get to be together.  I mean life and salvation.  Every day, day to day, day in and day out if you don't have selfless love and devotion to family and friends you cannot show the love and selfless devotion that God has for you to any one else.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and a little look inside. 2 December 2014

Outside my window...the moon is making its plunge back behind the earth to  spend the day and the sun's rays are just beginning to streak the sky with shades of gold and red.  I doubt I shall ever get over the weather around here.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we awoke to everything glittering with frost and air that snapped and tingled with the chill of it.  Sunday and yesterday we had temperatures in the 70's.  The light was so bright and clear that it felt as if you could see forever.  
 Sunday I took a long walk and discovered this beauty and hidden place not too far from here.  I have now found my new walking place that is conveniently close by and full of surprises that are just waiting for me to unearth them.
 I am thinking...about changes, conscious changes and changes that come upon you without you really knowing that they have.

I am thankful...for a husband who changes out the alternator in a car without giving it a second thought.  I am thankful for a brother who helps diagnose the pesky problem.

I am still reading...The 7 Secrets of Confession.  This book has been full of moments of revelation, self-reflection, and resolution.

In the creativity department...the work room was quiet over Thanksgiving.  Matthew came to visit and I was loathe to spend time sewing when I could spend time with him in conversation.  Now, though, it is nose to grindstone, back on the treadmill, crack the whip time.  I have a couple of orders to finish and ship today.  Yesterday I picked up two more bag orders and a couple of aprons.  I also have to put the finishing touches on my gift for the giving tree at church.

 Spiritually speaking...I have found a wonderful priest and confessor at a church not too awfully far from here.  He has lined me up with an order of Poor Clare's as well who are giving me much needed spiritual direction.  This path behind the church is the start of the outdoor rosary that I love visiting when I go to see father.  How refreshing that in this area of mega churches and very busy parishes I have finally found one that is a bit like home.

From the kitchen...there will be leftovers on the menu.  Last night I made meatloaf, broccoli, and baked potatoes for supper.  Thankfully there is plenty left so that I don't have to concern myself in the kitchen.  After actually cleaning the house yesterday (yep I really did a good job for a change) and conquering mount washmore (6 loads worth!) I don't feel too guilty about indulging my creativity.

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish and ship all the pending work and slip in some of my own projects along the way.  One week from today is my husband's 62nd birthday.  I am hoping to line up a grandma sitter and take him out on the town to celebrate.  The best day of my life happened nine years before I was even born on the day that God sent this man into the world.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
I had camera issues on Thanksgiving day and this is about the only pic that came out.  Matthew and his "twin" cousin Joseph.  What a blessing to have the family that God gifted me with.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hints, tidbits, and a little look inside 24 November 2014

Outside my window...we have the southern version of Buffalo, NY going on here. It has been raining hard and steadily since early yesterday morning.  How fortunate that Doug raised up the path leading to the garbage pails and filled in the low spots in front of the shed on Saturday.  He also cleaned out the gutters and I am pleased to report that they are flowing freely at this time.

I am thinking...about the wisdom of staying inside and getting a lot done today, she thinks as lightning fills the room and the boom of thunder follows.  Yep, staying home and inside with the music cranked up good and loud.  

I am thankful...for leisurely Sunday's spent beside my husband.  Casual conversation, warm drinks, good movies, lots of laughter, and talks with our children punctuate the day.

This man that I married has been a blessing in so many ways.  He is the finest example of love that I know, of dying to self in order to show Christ to those around him.  Every breath he takes is an expression of the faith that he has in the Resurrection.

I am continuing to read....7 Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn.  I predict that this book is going to become one that I reread over and over again.  There is so much food for my soul in it that there is no way I can consume it all in one sitting.

In the creativity department....I have a stack of bag orders on the table that I plan on dispatching today.  I have run into a problem.  I have exhausted all of the suitable cargo pants in the thrift stores that are close by.  I may need to make a run to Greenville and outlying thrift stores in order to build up my stash.  Not complaining by any means.  A lack of cargo pants put by means I am selling bags!  I also have a choir robe to alter for a neighboring church and an apron to get done and shipped before the end of the week.  That should take me to Tuesday.

From the kitchen....there is chicken noodle soup on tap.  

This chilly. damp weather puts me in a mind to make soup and what better variety than chicken noodle.  There is enough in this pot to freeze some stock, have soup for a couple of days, and some plain chicken for salad.  I guess I am set until Thanksgiving!

A few plans for the rest of the week...clear the boards of all this work and get things shipped. Wednesday Matthew arrives for a visit!!!!!! Thursday we go to my brother's house to celebrate the feast of Thanks.  Friday or Saturday my brother, Tom comes for a visit and, alas, Sunday Matthew has to go back to Ft. Bragg.  I plan on packing every second with love, laughter, and hugs.

The picture thought that I am sharing is a word picture....warm hugs, the scents of cooking, and the hum of conversation spiced by occasional dollops of laughter. This is what I wish for everyone on Thanksgiving.

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.