Monday, April 30, 2012

This Will Curl Your Hair, No Mold, Fun Place to Shop

1. The kind of misty day when the mist gently sticks to my eyelashes.
2. Steve's father sent along this little trick to prevent berries from molding so quickly:
Mix 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. Gently rinse berries in this wash.
It's been a pet peeve of mine that strawberries mold within a day. I tried this trick yesterday and my berries are still perfect this morning. He says it works for all berries and they will last up to two weeks, but I won't be putting that two-week part to the test.
3.I like the variety of things available at Ikenberry's farm market. I stopped there to buy salted peanuts for the guys and I found all the tomato plants I wanted for the garden. They also have old-fashioned candies by the pound to mix-and-match into brown paper bags. I love Bit-O-Honey!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Higher Standard, The Most Beautiful Phrase, The Waiting Game

     "The art of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card...
     Of course, love letters are probably as numerous as need be, though the long distance telephone must have lowered the average of these, too. Young girls write to each other as much and as imprudently as they have always done, and letters between young girls and young men flourish like unpulled weeds in a garden where weeds were formerly never allowed to grow."
     The difference, though, between letter writers of the past and pf the present, is that in other days they all tried to write and to express themselves the very best they knew how, while today people don't care a bit whether they write well or ill. Mental effort is one thing that the younger generation of the "smart world" seems to consider it unreasonable to ask.
     To such as these, to whom effort is an insurmountable task, it might be just as well to say frankly: If you have a mind that is entirely bromidic, if you are lacking in humor, all power of observation, and faculty for expression, you had best join the ever growing class of people who frankly confess, "I can't write letters to save my life!" and confine your literary efforts to post-cards with the engaging caption, "X is my room," or "Beautiful weather, wish you were here."                             "Etiquette" by Emily Post, 1937

1. Emily Post's book is an eye-opener, indeed. I have long thought manners and proper etiquette were a lost art. I think our society could use some brushing up. I'm inspired to put (almost) all of Miss Post's 859 pages to good use and raise our family's standards a little higher.
2. Daughter #2 makes the discussion of how the words, "cellar door" are claimed to be most the beautiful phrase in terms of sound without regard to meaning. I recalled a song I used to sing to the girls called Playmate and it has the words, "cellar door" in it. Daughter #3 asks me to sing it. This was one of her favorite songs for me to sing and I can tell by the look on her face that she remembers.
3. We invite ourselves to linger at our friend's house after our study while we wait for Daughter #4 to call for a ride. Another couple also stays behind and we enjoy a visit outside out on the deck with a glass of wine for some and beer and cigars for others.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Morning, Good Morning, New Old Books, Out To Lunch, Winding Down

1. Up 4:00 AM to drive the night roads, taking her to the bus bound for D.C. Dawn slowly brightens the sky on my drive back home. I brew a fresh pot of coffee and begin the day for a second time.
2. I found some fun books at the library book sale. "The Leatherstocking Saga" by James Fenimore Cooper is set in western and upstate New York in areas where I grew up and am familiar with. "Etiquette" by Emily Post, published in 1922, tells you everything you need to know about how to behave anywhere from a fraternity party to a funeral. The chapter titled, "The Country House and Its Hospitality" sounds interesting and I can't wait to read, "What We Contribute to the Beauty of Living". Will share some later!
3. Lunch at Hollywood's was a sandwich of breaded eggplant with sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers and melted provolone on grilled sourdough bread, accompanied by sweet potato fries. Very yummy!
4. Another pot of coffee, (brewed by Steve, B.!) bookends the day. This cup is taken on the porch as Steve and I catch up on our week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Morning Serenade, A Soft Day, On Albums

1. Her dad sings to her while she eats breakfast. Frank Zappa? I hear baritones and high choruses. "No", he says, "Canon in D". I could have sworn it was Frank Zappa.
2.Thunder, fog, rain, balmy, mists in the hollows; a nice day.
3. I forgot how polished Steely Dan's music is. It makes kitchen clean-up a lot more fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Changes in everyday habits like the "new and improved" blogger layout can really mess with my brain. Hence the posting hiccup. But I will overcome...

1. Monday was Steve's birthday and he wanted to celebrate with his regular pool night. Daughter #2 and her husband came over so Son-in-law could join in the game. Daughters 2, 3 and 4 sat with me in the family room and we girls had a nice visit while the guys played their game.

1.a. He shared his candy.
2. For a moment I felt like I was in two places at two times at once. The barn smell prompted a memory trigger from the 1960's of the petting zoo at Storytown in Lake George, NY. I am intrigued by scent triggers because they do more than simply recall a memory. They vividly put me right back to the place and time. We went to Storytown every summer when we were kids and it was always fun.
3. The checkbook balanced to the penny. I am good!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For Cobbler, Praise, Lazy Day

1. Large, red stalks of rhubarb show a ring of green around their centers when sliced.
2. We are a church that enjoys our music! People raise their voices to sing out loudly, musicians smile as they play, the notes and lyrics are beautiful. The music is a gift we're sending Heavenward to God along with our hearts and souls.
3. Such a damp and dreary afternoon is good for nothing more than naps and reading. By evening, we've had enough of this and we're happy to see our friends for study and discussions.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday in the Yard

1. The vegetable garden soil is moist and dark once it's turned. It's beautiful this way, without anything planted. It's new and anticipating, like spring itself.
2.  One more big job which requires the guys' muscle. We need to replant five hemlocks that were put in too deep last year. Steve rigs an A-frame and uses the truck to hoist them up while the rest of us scramble to move dirt, etc. I feel much better about the trees chance for survival now that this is done.
3. The sun beats down on us during the entire project in #2. I keep glancing at the sky for some respite from the heat. As soon as the last tree is in, the sky clouds over, a cooling wind kicks up and raindrops hit our skin. I use this as permission to do no more outside work for today and I'm glad. But before I go in, I take a chair and sit for a minute to let the weather's cooling effect sweep over me

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Time Fun, Up Do, Another Year Older

1. That time of year when girls and boys dress up so handsomely and youth seems to last forever.

 2. The hairdresser made it up as she went along, creating a side swept style, adding a braid here, a curl there. Sixty-three hairpins later...She really liked the result because it felt natural and it was easy to wear.
3. He and I celebrated his birthday with Buffalo wings (dipped in blue cheese dressing of course) and a beer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My House or Yours?, Renewed, Eat Your Veggies

1. The carrot cake was baked, the coffee was on and the kitchen was tidied. I relaxed and waited for her to come. Up the road, her kitchen was tidied, her coffee was on and she knitted while she waited for me to come. So goes the story of two friends getting old together.
2. A shower is pure luxury after getting all dirty and grimy. The basics of soap and water can be so transforming.
3. I made a pan of roasted vegetables, (asparagus, red onion, cherry tomatoes, Bell pepper and summer squash drizzled with olive oil and coarse salt), then served it atop of a bowl of quinoa. Delicious!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Fresh Change, A Bright Spot, Soft Ground

1. A forty-five minute drive to the other side of town gave me a chance to go into Fresh Market. I wish every market experience could be this nice. The bakery smelled wonderful, the fresh flowers were beautiful and the specialty foods were ever so tempting. Smiling clerks in green aprons were waiting for me at the check out.
2. Walking through the parking lot on a rainy day holding a bunch of bright yellow tulips.
3. We've had a good soaking rain, non-stop, all day. The ground will finally be ready for me to take my shovel to it. The forecast calls for more rain on Sunday and I'm all for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'll Get Over It, I See Draperies, Pillows and Aprons, The feast

1.I suppose the lawnmower he bought for me, but that he really chose for himself, might just get him out into the yard more often. Now that I think on it, this purchase that I was selfishly disappointed about is really a good thing for him.
1.a. Daughter #4 and I laugh and laugh as we drive up to the house this evening and see him toting around on the mower. It's just as I thought.
2. The fabric selection at is over the top. I'm inspired to sew something, anything!
(Daughter #4 saw it featured on the Nate Berkus show.)
3. I cooked an entire pot roast for the multitudes and only two of us showed up for dinner. We opened a bottle of wine and celebrated our bounty.
3.b.Leftovers were portioned into containers and tomorrow's lunch is made.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baking Again, It Works, Needs a Home

1. Walnuts toasting in the oven smell good and, well...nutty. Toasted nuts taste better in the oatmeal cookies.
2. I needed a lamp for the porch and I remembered the black wrought iron floor lamp we bought at an auction last summer. I found it down in the basement, rewired and ready for summer reading.

3. We've had so many stray dogs show up at our place over the years that I've lost count. This morning two more puppies showed up, no collars and starving. I'm so glad daughter #3 was home. She collared them, gave them food and water and played with them on the grass until Animal Control could come out. They were the happiest, tail-wagging dogs I ever did see. Despite whatever hardships they endured out in the woods, they were sweet and loving and so darn happy! They appear to be a brother and sister mixed breed. I thought of them all day and pray that someone gives them a good home.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Force, It Was Decided For Me, What I Would Rather Do

1. The volunteer crew spread the entire ten scoops of mulch around the new landscaping. The green of the boxwood, hollies and azaleas now "pop" with the dark mulch around them. It looks and smells great. They also tore down an old deck, pulled out stumps, and edged and watered all the beds.
1.a. The little girls who were planting shrubs decided to name them. Grace, Hope, Truth and Big Billy.
2. The bad news is: the ground is too hard and dry for me to turn our vegetable garden. The good news is: the ground is too hard and dry for me to turn our vegetable garden. I want to get that job done, but I'm beat and really didn't want to do it today anyway.
3. A shower, homemade chicken soup for dinner and a book to read.

Friday, April 13, 2012

M'am?, Perfect!, Up Too Early, Genius at Work

Mr. Keveren with two student performers. Photo courtesy of Sarah Reaser O'Brien
 1. We've lived in the southern states for twelve years and the polite, "M'am" thing still stands out to my attention. Today, the mulch delivery man (who was my age), said "M'am" after everything. His mama must have done a very good job bringing him up to have him say it so naturally like that. I like it when it's used as a question. For example, if someone doesn't quite hear what you said, they'll say, "M'am?" It compacts so much into one word. Using my method, I would have to say, "Could you repeat that please?" or "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said?". But, "M'am?" says it all. So what would a woman say to a man? "Sir?" Goodness! With everyone talking like that, we'd sound straight from "Gone With the Wind"!
2. She bought the first and only dress she tried on. Too easy.
3. I'm so glad she canceled work because I desperately needed a nap.
4. Today's weather was picture-perfect and lovely for an evening stroll through the Hollins University campus for a concert. Composer and arranger Phillip Keveren played a few of his songs and showcased several students who played his arrangements on the piano. He composed a song on-the-spot, using an audience member's phone number. To watch his face, his movements, his oneness with the piano, was to witness the natural gift of musical genius.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

But That's Not What We're Out For, Light and Crispy, BFF's

1. It's so unpredictable to shop with Steve. We usually set out for one thing, and then buy something totally unrelated. That's what makes it fun and spontaneous...and most definitely dangerous.
2. I made Marie's Beer Battered Fish. It's all about the coating. 
3. Fun, silly, creative photos of two teen-aged best friends at the beach.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just the Right Spot, Home, Pretty Good!

1. My friend L. gave me a package of note cards with this bee on them and suggested it would look pretty in a frame. I agree! I found the perfect spot for this adorable picture right next to my kitchen sink.
2. We went out for dinner at Sal's Italian Restaurant. From the moment we entered, I was homesick. The tempting aromas, the music, the ambiance, all made me feel that I was back in Albany way back when. This was the archetype Italian restaurant of my growing up years. I asked the waitress where the owners were from, but I already knew. This was the real deal.
3. ...and a movie. The Hunger Games. Now I know what all my kids are talking about.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

At Home, It's Just Not "You", Puppy Talk

1. Today is the first day of our "staycation" as B. called it. Steve is off from work and we are on our own to do as we please. My goal is to try and stay out of the kitchen. I even let my flour canister become empty so I can't bake anything even if I want to.
2. He tries on a neon yellow shirt, a peach oxford, a cobalt vest, and a turquoise jacket, all from a clearance rack. I hang up my cell phone quickly when I see him in the turquoise. I have to stop him before it's too late.
3. Henri sits up on his bed, looking all sleepy and sweet. I give him hugs and kisses and tell him how adorable he is; then he plops back down and retreats back to sleep.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Signs, Perked Up, Leftover from the Weekend

1. The rocks from my little succulent garden are scattered all over the path. Granddaughter has been here, doing the busy things that toddlers do. Because of the little hands that put them this way, the rocks make me smile and I leave them as they are.
2. I give the perennial beds a face lift by pulling out all the dead stalks, leaves and weeds.
3. Pink frosted sugar cookie, shaped like a bunny and sprinkled with purple sugar.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Weekend in Photos

Mari in her new hat.

Then, 1999
And now, 2012
 Dozens of Praying Mantis babies on our back steps.

Everyone found four leaf clovers.
She just wanted to touch the pretty colors.
The lawnmower is broken so they used the horse-mower. I love the light green color of trees in spring.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Try Them With Eggs, Finally!, In the Sun

1. B. mentioned how delicious these Bacon Cheddar Scones were and she passed the recipe along to me. The kitchen smells so good when they're baking.
2. Daughter #1 and granddaughter arrived this afternoon!
3. We were surprised that the afternoon turned so mild. We ended up having our dinner on the porch and enjoying the late afternoon sun.

Succulent Garden

My dad gave me the hens and chicks about 18 years ago. I've moved them with me wherever we went.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rainy morning, Good lunch, Can't Wait to Give It

1. Rain patters on the tin barn roof. Light bulbs high up on the rafters add a small glow to the huge space. The horses shuffle in their stalls and the chickens cluck around on the hay bales, but the rain has muffled everything and life is quiet this morning.
1a. Oscar-the-farm-dog pesters a chicken on one of the hay bales. Audrey scoots him away and we peek at the bird, thinking she looks dead. Audrey timidly creeps closer and closer, afraid of seeing the dead bird when suddenly, it flies up at her, squawking loudly and startling us both. We have a good laugh at ourselves.
2. Simple food tastes so good when I'm ravenously hungry. A Swiss cheese sandwich on soft bread with lots of mayo and fresh pineapple on the side is completely satisfying.
3. I found enough scraps of a pretty blue vintage print to sew into a hat for Mari.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oscar, Morning in Spring, A New Home

1. He sits on my feet and pushes his body against my legs. I feel honored that an animal accepts me this way.
2. At 3:30 in the morning, I get up to open a window and I hear the birds singing.
3. It's that time of year when friends share plants from their gardens. Down the years, I can walk through my garden and recall where (almost) everything came from.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Running Home, May I just Eat the Top?, Multiplying

1. Rabbit's whiskers, back-lit by the setting sun as he scampered across the road. Bunny whiskers : )
2. The ketchup/ mustard/ brown sugar sauce that topped the meatloaf was our favorite part.
3. I played around with the "hens and chicks", giving them more room to spread and redecorated the succulent bed with an old wheel and some ocean-polished rocks.