Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 22 - Goodbye 2012 - Remembering and Moving On

I'm in the middle there somewhere.
When your children are in their 40's and 50's and your grandchildren range in age from 4 to 24 and two great grandchildren will soon become three great grandchildren, you cannot look ahead without looking back.  If you are a teenager, do not hurry.  If you are in your 20's, do not worry.  If you are in your 30's or 40's, your best days are still ahead.  If you are in your 50's, you are a little late for a mid-life crisis, so buck up.
I am incredibly blessed with family.
And blessed to have a pool for those, I love, to enjoy...
and knowing that their memories will include learning to swim in my pool.
If you are in your 60's like me, especially since I will join those in their 70's this year, my suggestion is that you don't allow anyone to discourage you from looking back and remembering the 'good old days'.  As for me, I'm grateful to be able to count them as 'good'.  The past is a wonderful place to visit but none of us should want to dwell there. 
I'm blessed to be surrounded with God's little creatures.
And I especially appreciate this Cardinal who nests, each year, in the Rambling Rose just outside my window.
 My great hope is to be able to look back at 2012 and refer to it as 'good old days' as well.  So on this last day of 2012, I plan to do a great deal of remembering and counting my many blessings.  Tomorrow, along with cooking up my Southern dose of New Year Luck, ham bone and black eyed peas, I intend to do a great deal of looking forward. 
But looking backwards, for a moment now, affords me the special opportunity to appreciate the abundance of food with which my family and I have been blessed because I well remember a time when we were hungry...and I don't mean didn't have enough to eat, I mean real, food-less, hunger.  I'll share the story one of these days.
Independence Day affords me many opportunities to look back happily as family has gathered at my house summer after of my very favorite things and I look forward to it every year.
  And, I will attempt to explain why I started counting UP the days of my life.
I love the little studio my son built for me.
I love that we can pull off summer themed parties in February....
...and growing things...
and stormy days at the beach...
and the fact that my Hubs is so easy going...
and that spring always arrives...
and that I find beauty in the way light plays among simple things...
and I love bubbles!
May we all be blessed in the coming new year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 21 - Trash to Treasure Recap

Refinishing furniture can be painstakingly tedious requiring hours of messy stripping and endless sanding just to get to the point of beginning the application of a new finish OR it can be quick, creative and fun.  I seriously prefer the latter. 
And the end product becomes an absolute joy when it has cost me as little as $1.  In 2013, I need to do a better job of documenting my little 'projects' because some of my favorites not only didn't make it to the blog, they have been sold or given away.  

Some of the refurbished or re-purposed  items that have made it to the blog are listed here with links to take you to their stories.  Link to dining table details  and to  finished table.

  From damaged brown to marble-topped, shabby blue.
 Mid-century Unwanted to Quirky New Table.
Taking a mirror from the barn to the house.
 My shabby-wonderful $25 desk.
 Who would have thought an old dish drainer could reduce clutter?
Have fun turning old T-Shirts into Fringe Scarves.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 20 - 2012 Recipe Recap

It looks like I fell down on the job in 2012 and didn't share much in the way of recipes.  But here are links to a few, in case you missed them.
Recipes without photos can be found at the links below:
Pumpkin Spice Dessert
Sour Cream Pound Cake
Make-Ahead, Baked Breakfast
Click on "Cooking: Recipes & Methods" in the "Labels" column, to the left, for previous food related posts including ones on home canning.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 19 - Ice Storm Recollections

I don't know if it's true for everyone but it seems that my recollections of distant events exist more in small, visual snapshots than in an exact chronological accounting.  One such memory is of a Virginia ice storm in the spring of 1979. 
Our family was visiting for the weekend, a sort-of job interview, where it was arranged that we would stay the night with an elderly farm couple who were only strangers long enough for introductions to be completed.  A warmer, more welcoming pair I had never met.  He was short and rotund with stubby, fat fingers scrubbed clean to a shine but forever stained by the Virginia soil in which he labored.  His cheeks were Santa Claus rosy, a perfect accompaniment to the mischievous twinkle of his eyes.  His wife was tall and lean, with a long, stern face.  She had stooped shoulders from which a print dress and white apron hung revealing no hint of shape at all.  Her hands, gnarled from hard work and advanced years, still hinted of once slender and graceful fingers. 

We had run from our car through the wind-driven rain and sleet into the warm glow of their kitchen.  We were ushered to seats around the large kitchen table and I remember the dinner items exactly: their own pork tenderloin, home-fried potatoes, fresh-canned green beans, sliced tomatoes, homemade sweet and sour pickles, and home-canned peaches with ice cream for dessert.
The closest we come to an ice storm here is when we leave the sprinkler on.
The men and children had retired to the living room and, as she and I finished the last of the dishes, the lights flickered and went out.  I heard some mumbling from both of them as one by one, small lights began to appear here and there.  Candles, apparently permanently positioned around the three rooms, provided ample light for the flurry of activity that took place in the next few minutes.  I remember asking if the power would likely be out for long, thinking the answer would be somewhere between minutes to hours but the reply was that it was likely to be out for several days.  They knew of the coming ice storm and what it could mean.  I did not.

Having lost power, the temperature in the old homestead would quickly begin to drop.  There was a short flurry of activity as armloads of quilts and armloads of pillows were carried through what appeared to be a closet door in the kitchen.  Then there was a time of chatting by candlelight in the living room.  Before long it was announced that the basement had warmed and as if I were to know what significance there was to that statement, we were escorted through the magic closet door.  How silly I felt.  Having lived in the south for so long, I had completely forgotten that such things as basements even existed.

There, in the small underground footprint of the house, my memory captured mythical images, vignettes in pools of yellow lamplight floating on a sea of the dark unknown.  In the center of the room with concrete floor and concrete walls there stood a big-box of an oil furnace radiating its welcome heat.  Situated on a faded carpet, near the furnace, two old, high-back rockers awaited their occupants, upholstered and worn, one positioned with a foot stool.  Between the rockers there was a small table holding an oil lamp which captured the entire scene within its circle of light.

Some small distance away, in its own circle of lamplight was a card table set with another lamp and a game of Monopoly, where the older children gathered to pass the time. 

I remember a great deal more about that basement and the cozy warmth found there but I don't want to bore you further with it here.  Though one more thing I remember about that particular ice storm, and others that I have experienced since, was the gun-shot sound of breaking tree limbs ringing randomly through the countryside.  
  Oh yes, the old man had been right.  The power would be off for days and days and days. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 18 - The Gift

As empty-nesters, Hubs and I easily slid into the tradition of opening our gifts late on Christmas Eve which left us free to visit with grandchildren on Christmas Day.
Egg Nog Surprise
It has become a sweet time for us although I struggle every year to find a gift for the man who has no wants or unmet needs.  Time after time I've taken notes, throughout the year, of every "I wish I had..." statement of his, only to find that by Christmastime he had fulfilled his own wishes.  My mistakes have been legion.  There was the keyboard because he once remarked that he wish he played the piano...not a serious wish.  Then there was the "Garmin" so he couldn't get lost in the Alaska outback but he never gets lost and it was too hi-tech for my low-tech guy.  That was later followed by the "Dragon" because he writes continuously but doesn't type...again, too technical even though I had our computer guru set it up.  This year I finally hit the mark with a "Kindle"...perfect for the voracious reader that he is.

As for me, I guess I've been just as much of a challenge.  But this year, as I've been spending so much time looking backward, he keyed in on this, (dare I say it) 'antique'.   I've been looking for this exact, pre WW II, tea set pattern in every antique shop in dozens of cities, over the course of my adulthood.  Hubs found it on eBay.
The lid shown is for a sugar bowl.  So, I need a Tea Pot Lid, a Sugar Bowl & 2 cups to make the set complete.  But with or without the missing pieces, I am totally thrilled! 
I've also tried for years to figure out my obsession with this particular set - just why it's meant so much to me.  This year I found the answer in my breaking heart while watching people I love dearly struggle through problems in their marriage.  This tea set was found on the kitchen counter of the home that my parents rented during my father's last year of medical school.  That was the last year my family was happy and whole.  I was 10.  As a child, I thought the tea set was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen; the porcelain so thin, the design so free, fresh and lovely.  It may well be the reason my favorite colors are blue and white.  It was a beautiful, tangible symbol of a time when all was well in my world.  Thank you, my wonderful husband.

(If any of you should come across my missing pieces, PLEASE let me know.  Thanks)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 17 - Merry, Merry Christmas - Captured

Setting all the stress and worries of our worlds and lives aside for the few blessed moments of Christmas day, I'm sharing these images that will be with me always and encourage you to indelibly imprint your own images in your personal catalog of memories.

Some assembly required
Helping with the instructions
 Merry Christmas!