Thursday, February 27, 2014

Looking closely to the now...

Stress. It's a really evil part of the composition of most worlds. Those of us with autoimmune issues find out that stress simply sizzles the wires... And we're sick... Or done... Burned at the base of the brain. No good to anyone or ourselves.

Throughout my years as a teacher, my energy was five parts adrenaline, one part caffeine. Deadlines moved my world, including the big ones such as Christmas, grade cards, visitors!!

Ritual, routine, schedules, exercises--- "Not my style," I'd sneer like Might Casey at the Bat... (But hey, he struck out, right? Left all his fans in defeat and disappointment.)

Give me three days of "procrastinated work" and I could polish every smidgen of that up in one good all-nighter.

Individuals have pride in all sorts of things. Some can drink everyone under the table, I hear. Some color code their closets. Some boast about letting others save the day. Me? I bragged on the amount of work I could do if I poured enough stress into my psyche. Well. Wasn't. That. Dumb?

And I have the brittle spirit to prove it. And the illnesses. And the clutter. Filter in the absolute onslaught by the media to provoke abject despair, fear, and panic, thus ensuring the citizenry will 1. purchase, 2. purchase on credit, 3. purchase and waste .....because we actually didn't need it ..... or want it to begin with.

I look toward my roots, my solid, hard-working parents and grandparents. Despite brewing trouble, war, and hundreds of other very real pressures, I remember my grandparents as unusually collected, calm, happy people. Perhaps they put that face forward for me, their granddaughter, more than for others... But I sense their "happiness" relied more on the lack of selfishness, on the presence of work and hobbies, and on a more narrow perspective, if not a naïveté regarding the widespread misery of the whole freaking world...

My dad, more than once, began a huge project with just a small, insignificant step. I remember gazing in hopelessness at dozens of burned light fixtures after my school fire...  Bit by bit, he rubbed, polished, dipped, painted...reclaiming finally the whole lot. With a single stitch, my grandmothers initiated a quilt or blanket. I can see my mother's sparkle as she pressed a hopeful seed into the damp garden rows, yielding jeweled quarts of pressure canned vegetables for our winter' stable.

I turned my focus toward work, others, projects, and the spirit today.  I didn't hang on Facebook, or troll through the news... Just one pleasant double crochet after another... Listening to the inherent wisdom of the past. Dialing back the stress.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

... Quest for words...

Millions of people.... Roaring...roaming, laughing.. Crying... Searching... grieving...  This world, this state...this town... right now seems too full of heartache, loss, illness..  Amber alerts, kidnapping, Westboro, candlelight vigil, senseless actions.

Our community always staggers in rebellious shock when tragedy strikes. Danger lurks then along roads once friendly..  Mothers tuck the sheets of denial tight around the bedsides of children, no matter how grown up...

In Missouri cities, and anywhere, monsters pose as teachers, coaches.. And the unthinkable pushes its ugly head into our conscious mind. Many of us hide our desperate fear in random, far flung moments of abandon, in conscious efforts to look another way.

But we cannot turn away when those we love have lost a part of their hearts... Then we tremble, grow cold, wish for nameless blessings. Life, that fragile, golden thread... It holds the souls. It holds the joy. It spills forth in celebration, but it ravages in spite of all our clutching..

There is a God, but... Blessings blend with trauma, illness, accidents, and heart-clutching fears. What if?.... And no one dares to name it.

My friend lost her son this morning on a curve right by my house. There are no words, but the poet soul keeps searching for them anyway.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Surprise, Paula!

What every well-dressed house needs is its own rose garden.... shawl, that is.  I used Bernat silky acrylic variegated yarn...color was Rose Garden.  This is a five row granny attached to nine others  with a row of shells all around the whole scarf.   

It's my newest finished project...
 I fashioned this for my sister/cousin's  birthday surprise party.  We were supposed to bring a package of seed.  I had selected a cute box with all blue flowering seeds...  But due to el Polar Vortex weather My seed order was returned to sender by UPS....  so.I made her this with Rose Garden yarn...

 Rose garden seems appropriate foe so many reasons. Our grandmother...we call her Ma.....  had such huge, dinner plate roses... That sweet grandmother is ever out in her garden in our memories---Suntanned arms, hair in  French knot, Ma had a beautiful way with flowers, handiwork, and living. My cousins all inherited those green thumbs... Which usually translates to lots of work.

 Tonight's party will be in her daughter's new home...  I'm excited to see my sister/cousin's expression because  she has absolutely no idea.  What about you? Do you like surprises?

 We are also creating a memory jar...  I'm afraid my memory just got out of hand!  I couldn't stop with one... we have too much history...  I had to do the whole alphabet!

 And for that special touch..  I crocheted her a book Mark with a posy...  and I might have just "chained one" for each of her special years on this earth...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sunny Winter... Gentle Whispers...

Oh, it has been a "breath of fresh air" to see the sunshine around here. Tonight's glow created its magic against the living room wall.  How long since a bright sun set in Missouri?

One sure way to brighten the day... To set apart time to just play, rearrange, invite the newest little touches of upcoming spring.

Goodbye to the very last traces of the past. I made these sachets for Mom on the very day! We had to enjoy them just a couple days longer! Time now to put these away for another, milder winter.

A quick moment in the kitchen, a new little mosaic lamp, and a glimpse of our little red electric heater. Nothing like a little cozy in a drafty kitchen.

And then the beginning of soft green Irish happiness. I tucked the green and white hearts from the Christmas tree with these beautiful ornaments from Ireland.  My son's best friend lives in Dublin with his bride... These gifts and several more treasures found us for Christmas.

My grandmother's gold china cup, some light green salt and pepper shakers,  special cups and saucers, and a woven coverlet...

Welcome, these perfect days of late Winter.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


This lil guy was spotted in the New York Yankees stadium watching some prep work down on the field (according to Facebook). He has the right idea, doesn't he? Get there early and find a good seat!

I'm ready to follow some baseball again! Clear skies, cleared roads... UPS deliveries.. 50° and higher... I worked half an afternoon, reorganizing the shelves with bakeware, casseroles, little treats. Not only can I not find anything... I have stuff left over, thank you very much. I started, however, with a box of new Temptations..., bowls, baking dishes, racks, plates... So, it will work itself out.

I found one treasure. Picture coming tomorrow or Thursday. Enjoy the Thaw if you are getting one.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pineapples, Paleo, Sundogs, and Sleet

Just enjoyed a day with family.. My son and a friend were here for a nice Paleo lunch.. Balsamic grilled chicken, carrots, fried cabbage, baked sweet and Irish potatoes, salad, and sautèed black olives and mushroom. For a Valentine treat we had fresh pineapple.

At the end of the day... My sister/cousin called with the news of a sun halo, a sundog. My son ran outside just in time and took this gorgeous photo... Forecast for freezing rain and more wintry mess mix.  Just so everyone is safe.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Things

Just heard a tip this morning from a former coworker... She ran out of creamer, so she used a splash of milk and a quarter tsp. of Nutella... That has to be awesome! Nutella is da-bomb! I love it paired with low calorie cream cheese on 45 calorie whole wheat toast...  It's so delicious and feels so healthy that I usually "help out" my system with two slices!  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's early, blue predawn...  Snow gently falls, and the day begins.  I've already been blessed...spoken to my son and my mother....  What are your Valentine plans?  My sweet cousin/sister brought down a beautiful plate of decorated sugar cookies and a festive tin of yummy cafè au lait, a felted heart....

I'm crocheting Boho hearts from a sweet free pattern (from Cherry Lane on my side bar).  I'd love to make my Mom's favorite cookie, Snowballs....  They are also called Russian Tea cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes [a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cakes or Polvorones]
Adapted from Epicurious

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then nuts. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Set remaining 1 and 1/2 c. powdered sugar aside.

Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. 
Sift remaining powdered sugar over cookies, if desired, just before serving.

I was just thinking about the busy day ahead for the flower shops!  I was there one year only.  It was a lot of chaos, kinda fun... Very exhausting.  I've shared before my attempt at working for a florist...

My only job on Valentine's Day was to blow up helium balloons.  Suffice it to say...  There is that
learning curve there..  Too little, the Mylar looks wilted, wimpy, blah...  Perfect amount?  All smiles.  Then kaboom!  Loud Bang!  And believe me...  It was several, I mean several $5 balloons before I got it...  And even then I wasn't a natural...  Not my most shining moment...

Besides a few lovely, sparkly engagement rings, I think the most extravagant gift I ever heard about personally...  A coworker once got a white Cadillac with red leather, heated seats from her hubby on Valentine's Day...  Yep...  Pretty extravagant.  She was beautiful, inside and out...a Merry heart and kind spirit...  However.....  That was quite the buzz that year.

Have a great day...  Make yourself a soothing cup of coffee, tea, cocoa... Choose your love potion....

Or....  I used to make this mix for a quick, delicious pick me up...  I don't have the ingredients or I'd fix you a batch today...

Friendship Tea (also called Russian Tea)...  Maybe the Olympics has brought out the Dr. Zhivago in me)
1 c. Tang instant orange drink powder
1/3 c. Lipton dry unsweetened instant tea
1 t. Cinnamon
Scant 1/4 t. Clove dust (optional, and go light!)

Shake this up in a bowl with tight lid. It makes a cute jar gift. To make tea, add two to four tsp. to mugs of hot, boiling water... Light, sweet, "tangy".....tastes like mulled cider and makes me think of my Aunt Hazel...  She served this in bone china teacups to my entire elementary school... (20 students)...

So whether your day contains roses, hot tea, Cadillacs, or sweet concoctions...  May you always harbor safe memories of loved ones in your hearts...

Have a gentle, loving, blessed day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

La-dee-what? When? Oh, heckie pooh!

I am certain something needs to be invented for this tendency I have to.... Procrastinate!  I am honestly so fearful of getting things all done, stacking them up... And feeling a sense of. .?? What?  How bad could that feel?  

I'm am now in the mood for Irish green, or even Easter... Hello! It's Valentine's Day! Right the day before Christmas?  Yep.  Hearts and doves.... I'm thinking it is an inner plot to keep me out of the moment... Self  Sabotage... No idea why. But coupled with no exiting my Mother's home more than five times since December 22nd... And now my trusted Amazon via UPS HAS REFUSED TO TRAVEL OUR ROAD... So I didn't send Valentines, didn't buy little gifts, have decided to just light pretty candles, sprinkle some ghastly tasting conversation hearts Sweet-tarts. (Truly horrible)....  And
Just celebrate in small ways.  

My gramma, and later my parents, try to let me think the holiday is for everyone... But any of you singles know... It's for couples and children...PERIOD.. Build you a box when you are in school. Grab out the valentine from your secret crush if you got one. Try to read something in the card, between the lines.  Bleaugh! I say, grab a chocolate heart and a cup of steaming coffee laced with something awesome... Watch a movie, make some soup. Have a couple "red pills"... (I was sorting a pack of M &M's to cull the red ones at 1:00 a.m.)  And call in ambivalent.

If you are married or romantic.. Different story. Your advice is more regular. Enjoy your loved ones. I treasure my precious ones. I love this pretty set of pillowcases from my Sweetie...  Relax.  no stress. This will be over Saturday!