Friday, September 28, 2007

A little Hoot for Amy!!!

Hey, It's all for Amy today. When I received my email from Isabella's Closet, I knew I wanted to say a little about this wonderful friend of ours named Amy. If any of you have followed her sensitive and heart touching blog about dealing with breast cancer, your hearts will forever be linked to this courageous and spunky Midwestern mom and housewife, blogger and friend. I find myself thinking of her throughout the day, saying little prayers for her and for the hundreds of women going through this ordeal. We as friends and readers are so honored to know Amy. I continue to marvel at her honesty toward life and her positive, fighter attitude toward this cruel disease and its formidable treatment. I can close my eyes and see her post from the night before her first treatment, "If anyone can beat this thing, I can," she said. And she can. With the help of fabulous doctors and powerful medicine plus the love and strength of loving family and an omnipotent God, Amy is a survivor. We look forward to the days in the near future when her posts will again be filled with lace and laughter and light hearted cottage charm. But we will forever be changed and strengthened by her account of this battle and its ups and downs. As Amy goes through the last of her chemo treatments, we give her a huge cyber hug... She is a sweetie, and we love her to pieces. Thank you, Isabella, for contacting me... It is a privilege to know people such as Amy and you and others in blog land! Take care, everyone. Hugs to Amy!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Karla's Party from my House to Yours!

I've decided to take part in Karla's party (see her pretty blog with all the party animals here).
Here are some favorite shots around my house.... enjoy the cool days, y'all.

Teacups start my day.... My favorite corner of the kitchen

My Christmas mantel
Santas in September? Ha!
Color coded books, with a few stuck here and there to make me feel at home... My friends, the books!
My summer faerie mantel..... How I enjoy these little pixies to keep me company!
The belle of the ball!
Gone to Mothers, but this little cot still sleeps like a cloud!

Come in for a little cup of spiced coffee this morning!!!
Sally ponders the new French Veterinarie poster! Hmmm... does she know French, as well?
Little pitchers are my passion.
And blue china
Love my red accents and my crows.... I so far haven't used the big cooler, but I have high hopes of a big party yet!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A wake-up to Autumn!

Guess who's soooo happy it's Fall? Yep, 'tis I, as Lancelot crooned. Even though today is a bit muggy, it's only in the seventies. I think it won't be long until it's time for chili and for lovely fires in the fireplace at Mom's (and fake ones here). I may need to rush this because I am going to a big meeting today for Curriculum Writing. It will be kind of fun to be with a team of teachers all with the same goals and interests. I missed being on teams during my five years as half day teacher. I guess I really just wasn't ready for retirement, huh?

I dedicated my weekend to creating a lovelier space for sleeping (when I'm home and not at Mom's.) I can't tell you how different it starts my day not to be greeted with piles of clutter and crud.... I am getting ready for a big party this weekend for my son and friends. He starts school October 1st for an intense eight weeks of computer training. We are having a guy friends party with lasagna and that yummy man-kind of food, cheese/sausage dip, little smokies.... etc..... No dainty tea parties here, huh?

Take care, all. I'll look forward to more autumn days and crisp weather all around. Hugs.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A dream deferred

I should just delete these in silence, and believe me I have tried, but I simply cannot. I keep looking at them in pain, andI just can't delete them with never revealing them to anyone. You see, I was planning a little dinner party for my mother and daddy's wedding anniversary, which was only six days away when he died. I had these invitations I had made, had purchased little nests with birdies in them... had the guest list, the menu.... I was inviting their friends who were still married.... three elderly couples.... Ah, Robert Burns indeed, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." Anyway, here they are... was going to use my blue and white flow blue that my dad bought me.... and just have a simple meal... Now I am selling the little nests and deleting these little notes, but I just wanted to share them with you because you would have loved them and you all actually inspired it. I'm not much of a planner (always afraid it won't come to pass...) but I have started being more excited with preparations and enjoying the process, the journey more... This unfortunate turn of events didn't stop me. I did enjoy the planning, and I feel sweetly satisfied that it would have been lovely and appreciated if things had gone well that week. And far, far more was lost than just this little party....

Now I will turn to other ideas and other plans. I think it is well to plan and build and imagine. But a person has to remember that sometimes a tragedy or a missed plane or a bout with the flu intervenes... I could never have felt this way a few years ago.. Perhaps I am finally growing up. My friends told me I never would. I never actually cared to.... I really rather doubt it, don't you?

Have a good weekend. I didn't mean this to be overly sad, but just to share something special that never got to be... I guess it falls into that category of what happens to a dream deferred.... I can say that in this instance, it just faded into a slightly misty wish with a hole in it...

Enjoy our beautiful fall. I'm going to the shop and then to a friend's house for supper. Fun!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pigs in the Blanket (Cabbage Rolls)

online photo, but it looks just like mine.
When fall winds blow, I think one of the most delicious meals in the world would be my granmother's pigs in a blanket. (Better known as cabbage rolls). I think they're divine, and she always made them along with her creamy mashed potatoes... extra liquid from these made the gravy, and we were set. She often made huge batches in two separate pans and brought them over to my mom and dad's household and to mine. Let me tell you what. Coming home after a day of teaching to a house tinged with these tomato-ey good home comfort food treats. It could happen for me if I'd get busy with a head of cabbage (green is prettier on these than red, although the taste is the same), a little hamburger and rice... and something tomato... Fill up a crockpot, turn on for sevenhours on slow... absolutely delicious. I reminds me of my friend's risotto, her Italian dish for the holidays...
What a "narsty" week as my ex would call it. Long days at school, even a six hour parent teacher conference thing on the MOST uncomfortable benches ever manufactured. Kids out early on Thursday and then completely "done" in their minds on Friday... whooooooo... at least it was payday... (Doing the Snoopy Happy Dance)..... I would never recommend teaching for the "money" but it didn't hurt this week!
Mom's table is covered with items she wants me to sell in my shop.... She's at that throwing out the baby with the bath water stage, and I don't like to see these treasures set out like this. She insists I'll be selling them at an auction later, so why not now? I dunno.... My brain is just on overfill right now.... I would love some mindless tv... got to move that satellite reception thing to my room at Mom's. Our taste in television is "slightly" different. She thinks "Dancing with the Stars" should be rated X due to their scanty clothes... My mom is a little bit on the Puritan side, I'd say... and lost in the thirties....
Well, sweet ones... As the old windmill outside my front door churns around and around and the sun dips into the West, I'm on my way back to Mom's for the night... Short break with my cat on the back of my arm chair and a dab and a promise to my home's cleanliness again.... Have a fun weekend. May your teams win and your comfort food be yummy.
Slow Cooked Cabbage Rolls
(Pigs in the Blanket)
1 large head cabbage
1 egg, beaten
1 can ()8 oz) tomato sauce
¾ c. quick cooking rice
½ c. chopped green pepper
½ c. crushed saltines (about fifteen crackers) optional
1 chopped onion
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 can (46 oz) V-8 juice
Salt, to taste
Grated parmesan or other cheese, if needed
Remove core from cabbage. Steam 12 large, outer leaves until limp; drain well; In a bowl, combine egg, tomato sauce, rice, pepper, cracker, and onion. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Place about 1/3 c. meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Fold in sides, starting at an unfolded edge, and roll up completely to enclose the filling. Secure by placing fold side down in large, deep baking dish or in slow cooker. Pour V-8 juice over rolls and bake at 325 for one and a half hours or in slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours. Sprinkle with cheese and salt for last half hour.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beautiful Soul Friend

Beauty does not linger, it only visits.

Yet beauty's visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm,

it calls us to feel, think, and act beautifully in the world:

to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful.

Because of Simple Abundance, I met Anam Cara. John O'Donahue is someone with such depth and integrity of language, I reserve him for special times. My first encounter with this deeply spiritual author was his masterpiece, Anam Cara. Last year I did a self-assigned class through the first chapters of this book. And now, this morning, I discover a new book on a theme I've decided to adopt: beautiful. Not the superficial beauty, per se, although it is definitely something to strive to achieve as I putter and eliminate and arrange things in my surroundings to achieve a beauty for the eye... but a beautiful spirit and soul. Yep. It's in there. I think we all have that beauty of soul, but at times (like yesterday as I barged through the day in a blustery pity party of sorts, fighting with my son and gritting my teeth at my mom) we aren't close to it. Payday is Thursday (praises be!) and I am ordering this book. Have a beautiful Monday.

The description says this: "Beauty is a gentle but urgent call to awaken. Bestselling author John O'Donohue opens our eyes, hearts, and minds to the wonder of our own relationship with beauty by exposing the infinity and mystery of its breadth. His words return us to the dignity of silence, profundity of stillness, power of thought and perception, and the eternal grace and generosity of beauty's presence. In this masterful and revelatory work, O'Donohue encourages our greater intimacy with beauty and celebrates it for what it really is: a homecoming of the human spirit. As he focuses on the classical, medieval, and Celtic traditions of art, music, literature, nature, and language, O'Donohue reveals how beauty's invisible embrace invites us toward new heights of passion and creativity even in these uncertain times of global conflict and crisis." ------ how could that be anything but healing?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Paula Deen on Oprah

I'm having a time with my posts and Youtube today. If this doesn't show, just go to youtube and look up Paula Deen Oprah. It's the first one. I should have left my template alone!!! grrrrr...

Amazing Photographer

Isn't this amazing? You can check out this photographer's portfolio HERE. I was just having a hot, sick of summer STILL moment and typed in "autumn sanctuary" on google. Wow. It was a lead to this photographer's work, and I thought the pictures were so beautiful. They DID become a sort of sanctuary for my spirit this morning. The name of the photographer is Francis Cailles, but I don't know anything more about it.
I'm part of the sandwich generation, I hear. Not sure if I like that label, but I understand where they get it... You know, I spent five years being really semi-retired. I mean REALLY. I didn't do anything I didn't really have to do or want to do. It seems I didn't want to do much because the contrast then with now is diabolical, nearly devastating to the soul. I'm in utter shock not to have hours and hours to watch my favs on tv, to read book after book--- to putter around and arrange fall decorations. To bake little treats for my "boys" and girls that visit here with my son. I am afraid this post will come across as whining, and I don't mean to... really, I don't. It is just a comment on the dramatic difference and vast veering my life has done in this past month. Half of it is due to being full time at school and having large classes all day long, filled with students who DO and DON'T want to learn. I'm having fun with all that, though. I have had a life long love affair of the heart with teaching, and I find I am not tired of these young people at all. I truly enjoy all of that work and it feels like 'not work' actually. It just takes up a lot of time. Then there's Mom. And she isn't really "work" either, but she is needy... in a non-clingy way. I don't want her to feel as if anything is difficult for me to do for her. I don't want her to feel any sadder than she does already. I don't want her to feel stupid for setting a pan of perfectly baked brownies on a burner that was on.... and burning the bottoms of the chocoloate MACADAMIA nut treats... I really don't. Because it isn't because she's older that she did that. Surely not since I set the perfectly scrumptious stuffing on a lit burner two Thanksgivings ago and ruined the whole thing.... It just happened. But I am going to have to try really hard not to try to FIX everything.
There is an author, Gwen Shamblin, who tells of the fixit-fox syndrome. I am a fix-it fox. I think our generation is all a bunch of fix-it foxes. We try to help our kids way too much, I think. We try to help our parents way too much. We are, indeed, sandwiches. Smashed ones. Oozing ones with drippy peanut butter and sticky, slimy, yesterday's bananas.... hahaha... Okay. Okay. I've gone too far. Maybe just a bit of gommy grape jelly????
I remember reading in books and magazines about women who were told to "carve out" a few minutes for themselves. Pamper me missions on Flylady and in other books were amazing to me. A few minutes? An hour a week or even a day? I was blessed with about eighteen "me" hours. Of course, now it is culture shock to have none. I'm more than amazed. I'm flabbergasted, appalled, and kind of sick to my stomach.
My shop is a mess. My home is a mess (remember the bed I removed? It hasn't been re-arranged by faeiries, I'll tell you. My mom is a mess. (She is grieving like she will and should about losing her life long soul mate). So.... deep breath... I'm into uncharted waters for me, at least. Part of me screams to be unselfish and give it all that I've got. Part of me whispers that She had her time like this and she, at least, had her life long mate who adored her (which I evidently am not going to have). Part of me wishes to high heaven I'd just stop rambling and spilling my guts out and be "perky," as I usually am...
So deep breath.... again. Enjoy the pictures and whatever season (busy or calm) your life is in. I'm going to read a new book today, so I'll let you know how that goes. Baby steps. Baby steps. And on top of all this, I, yes I... really miss my dad. Somewhere along the line of making Mom feel better and being all tough and cool for school and helping my son cope with some life changes... I have stuffed all that somewhere.... And it's slipping through the cracks in my self control.... and if I think very hard about not seeing him ever again on that front porch as I drive up.... it's gonna just blow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hey, there! Since it's almost fall!!!

Can't believe it is September 12th already. The days are getting so crisp, and we even have had a couple of nights that say "fall is here!" Pink-stained morning clouds peek through my bedroom window, and I'm getting ready for another day at school. Had to share my gramma's favorite end of the garden chili sauce recipe with you. It is simply divine to eat, but even more fun to make. I've got to tell you that you can even use canned chopped tomatoes, semi-drained of the liquid to make this if you aren't lucky enough to have scads of juicy tomatoes at this end of the summertime.

End of the Garden Chili Sauce
4 qts. Chopped, peeled ripe tomatoes, drained. (And you can use canned tomatoes if your garden is only in your dreams!)
2 c. chopped onion
1. c.. chopped sweet red peppers
1 c. chopped green peppers
2 c. chopped celery
3 T. salt
2/½ c. sugar
2 1/2 c. vinegar
1 T. mustard seed
1 t. cinnamon
dash celery seed
1 t. allspice (optional)
A kiss of cayenne pepper (very optional and be careful!)
Cook all ingredients slowly over very low to medium heat in huge kettle. We use one with a very large opening for maximum bubbling and evaporation! This wonderful process takes several hours of simmering. Stir often and think about the blessings of harvest. This sauce cans at this time by open kettle method, or it freezes beautifully in little jars. It is delicious in chili, in hamburger sloppy joe, on eggs as a garnish and even mixed in proportions of ½ c. to 1 pkg. Cream cheese and used as a delicious cracker dip. (I have been known to eat it with a spoon as a soup, snack, or consoling bit of YUM!)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Changes all around . . .

Not my shop.... but an artistic impression of the "dormant, dream phase" I'm currently experiencing WITH my shop.... What's behind the blue door?
"When it rains, it pours," my gramma always said. And it's raining here, it seems. With all the changes in living arrangements and life purposes around here, you'd think I'd quit tinkering with the stuff that didn't need to change??? But no... I haven't mentioned my little shop for a while, but it is undergoing a dramatic switcheroo. The evolution of Shady Peanut Lane is quite slow, almost "stunted" I might say.

First, about twenty years ago the dream hit my cousin and me to create a little shop in my grandmother's two story home. We bought the wallpaper and mentally filled it with all kinds of treasure rooms--- a kitchen gadget room, a tea room for little ladies' lunches, an upstairs room for Christmas, a cool back porch for Halloween... We had our dreams. In our minds we named it Prairie Sampler, and my dear friend (the one who never fails to support my dreams, the baked Alaska one.... ) even bought me pencils with that name printed on them for inspiration. Well, the pencils are all that ever happened. The wallpaper found its way to my dining room walls, where I love it daily. The beautiful old, two story home was claimed as right of way for a four lane highway... The walls and boards became a barn for my father, and needless to say, Prairie Sampler did not happen.

Then, for two years I rented a ten foot square space in a consignment business, and another friend (a former teacher) split the cost (which was really high). We didn't do much in there... Something about the sterile concrete walls and the proximity to other booths with tire tools or laundry soap really depleted our pizaaz. About the only cool thing I had was an absolutely fabulous old walnut primitive armoire... It was in pretty shabby shape and unfinished state. I put a wild sum of 600 dollars on it, and it sold in about a month.... Then all our stuff was on the floor a bit... Finally, We had industrial looking shelving and just barely existed until this business, too.... made a little demise. Finally about four years ago my friend opened a little shop called "My Cup of Tea." So cute, so full of teapots, china, fabulous tea, Department 56, and other treasures. I was thrilled for her... AND PEA GREEN.

Amazingly, in only about five months the little shop space next to My Cup of Tea became available. Yes, I could rent it. Yes, I could take possession in May. Oh! Shady Peanut Lane was born. The name came from the beautiful little stretch of land on our farm with overhanging brush and a little tractor path underneath. Whenever little girl me (where did she go?) was lucky enough to ride behind my grandfather on his little tractor to check cows, we used to find this little part of heaven, stop, drink our bottle (we split it) of Double Cola and eat a couple soda crackers with "bitey" (very sharp) cheddar cheese. Absolute bliss. He called that little patch Shady Peanut Lane, so I thought no more lovely place name could exist for a little shop. My cousin, son, father, and I painted, papered, wired and heaved our wares inside. We managed to fill it with the most delicious candles you have ever smelled, lovely coffees, sweet primitive and shabby treasures, a few antiques... just the this and that kind of shop I've always wanted.... And it is a place for my friends to come and just sit and visit... with My Cup of Tea lady next door, we just party all the time!

Until yesterday. Due to a big relocation in her future, my cousin came yesterday and had to pack all her goodies away to sell in another place. Ugh... you should see my shop. It will be alright, I keep repeating to myself. I will find other cabinets, fill them with my own treasures, create a shop that speaks even more of my own heart... But with what? The name remains, and the work done on the place itself. I still have my lovely little kitchen cabinet and the cubby hole nest display my ex brought home from a bowling alley, no less. My dad saved it, washed it at the car wash, and brought it over one boiling hot July day to put in the shop.
My college writing teacher used to glory in the part of our writing he called "the floundering stage." It was the early agony when we couldn't get it all together in our minds to say what we hoped to say. I think this is a floundering stage for Shady Peanut Lane. Once I "see" it in my mind, it will happen in the world... won't it??? Meanwhile, I'm going to grab my book for inspiration today, Where Women Create. It's an amazing brain-igniter... As are all of you! I always dreamed of opening an online branch of Shady Peanut Lane... Who knows... sometimes when I am the busiest (translate full time school teacher, curriculum writer for senior high, helping with Mother's house as well as mine), I am the most fruitful.... ???? I'm kind of an all or "nuthin" kind of person. Hang on to your seats.... We may be in for a bumpy ride... (or not.) Have a good week.

P.S. Once a long time ago before I knew about blogs and before I realized not to "take" a photo off the internet without getting directions about who put it there... I found this photo of a shop. It looks a lot like my shop on the outside ---except mine has no florals, no sparkle like this right now... Anyway, it is an inspiration. If any of you own this shop or knows who does, please let me know... I would love to give credit to such masters of the art of Wow!!!! Isn't it pretty????

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Good for a little laugh!

What a cutie bug. I can't watch this without either laughing or crying???? What a cute baby.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It's called "Upset the Apple Cart"

Okay, so this is the little cot I had in my dining room. It is an antique, open spring thing that was bought by my dad as a high school student. He used it, and later HIS grandfather slept on it for years. Then my grandmother, then my other grandmother, then my son... and finally I claimed the little squeaky, heavenly-comfortable thing for my own. I LOVED it in my dining room because I could catch a little snooze and still be "up" if anyone dropped by.... But I needed, as in "NEEDING" a fix, it at Mother's. So....
Good-bye, little summer crow.... You have to stay home.....
So long, Mr. Tiffany Lamp. My mother loves colonial and Victorian more.... And goodbye little bay window. I ADORE lying in bed in that alcove of windows when the lightning flashed, the sleet hit the glass... mmmmmm... However, I'm putting in the comfy-est, coziest of recliners there.... I'll be fine, I'm sure once the habit of heading to the day bed is broken.
So, my mother's room where I moved is peopled with bears, dolls, doll houses, antiques.... crammed wall to wall.... These little friends were sipping tea and lemony butter cookies made by an elf on midsummer night.... and I even found a little bug or two who had joined in the party, (but don't tell my mother. She's a neat freak!). This room is a newer addition made a few years ago after my dad had his hips replaced, open heart surgery, and he decided to make a room in our garage.
We moved it all around, stowed a few of the cradles, threw that horrid pink chair in the ditch... It tilted to the left and threw an unsuspecting slacker to the floor... It just took entirely too much energy to sit in that chair without being slid to the ground.
This is the spot.... I moved the little bed right here.... However, the photos didn't download properly and I deleted them first.... so the final reveal will have to take place tomorrow or so...
My mother has quite the doll collection. Right now we are in the midst of moving them all around and creating a new look. That is one of my favorite therapies. It isn't something my mother likes to do, but after it was all done, my Mom said, "I love the new look." I was surprised to hear that from her, and then she just smiled and added, "If it makes you want to stay, I'd love anything!" So? What does that mean? Hmmm? I am home tonight, doing a bit of vacuuming where that old bed used to sit... It had a feather matress most of the time, so underneath looks like a mix between a ladybug factory (Missouri has a pest problem with golden ladybug beetles or whatever they're called).... and goose nest.... Those photos will NEVER be coming, but I will show you all the finished bay window in a few days when I figure out what looks good there.... Meanwhile, my grades are calling me to post them on the electronic gradebook.... I may be showing my age and maybe even my IQ here, but isn't it funny that the "timesaving" electronic gradebook is still to do although my grades are actually quite happy, lined in the old ledger and calculated on an old time calculator!!! I remember when my grandmother bought my first calculator to help me figure grades. It was state of the art, the size of a small ham, had a roll of paper the size of a buttered cathead biscuit, and cost her about 70 dollars.... I have a MUCH better one from Walmart I bought for a buck.... But oh, Gramma... I loved you for spoiling my every wish and desire... Aren't Grammas fabulous? I was soooo spoiled.... what a blast... Take care, everyone. Stay tuned for "THE BIG MOVE / PART DEUX.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

With Love and Cornbread

Well, good Sunday morning! I have been home a while (stayed all night at Mother's), so I decided to bake some cornbread in my grandmother's old iron cornbread molds. Lovely stuff, cornbread. And to go with it, my mother has cooked up some good, old fashioned navy beans and ham. As soon as I finish this post, get my clothes on, gather up some stuff--- it's soup time!
Today is moving day for me... not an actual moving day, per se, but a mini move. I just don't sleep well at night. I browse through the house, get up and read, love to go online, maybe bake, watch television if I can find anything, sometimes just sit with a candle glowing and pray or think---- None of those work out too well in an ancient house that CREAKS every time a person moves and a light sleeper in the next room. So today is moving day for me, a little cot I absolutely LOVE to sleep in, and some duds, suds, and books. If I get to town to the potato chip section, I'll add spuds to that list... I think personally a milestone such as this calls for Prairie Farms French Onion dip and Mesquite Barbecue Chips and Diet (of course!) Coke.
Eventually I plan to get a television hooked up to cable, a little cordless phone, ---- hopefully a little internet for my laptop the SCHOOL gave me!!! (only while I teach there, but still how wonderful), and some remnants of home. The room is lovely, and I'll post some pictures of it before and after I get moved in. I won't be staying every night. My son will take his turn sometimes, too. I think it will work out fine. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I will have a little bathroom all to myself, a hot shower, and access to windows, outside doors, and moonlight... who could ask for anything more?
All this, and a sweet little mommy tucked in bed on the other end of her house who is not afraid. Thank you, Lord!