Monday, January 29, 2018

Favorite Books this Winter

We have really had some cold and windy days, so I have had a chance to cozy in on some projects and a few really good books. I would love to hear your favorites right now. 

I have a Kindle or two, so I usually read on that, but at times nothing can compare to holding a book and maybe adding a note in the margin. I thought about organizing a book club and that may develop just a bit in the future. Here are just  few you might like. Links to the books are clickable on the titles.


I read Beth Moore's first novel, The Undoing of St. Sylvanus. I am a long-time Beth Moore lover, and I really thought she did a great job with this first fiction work. I also bought the workbook. Turns out she has some really cool extras free on a web page. HERE. I also wanted to get in on a free livestream, but I actually forgot! I don't think it is available now. 


Even though I am certainly not getting any older,I enjoyed this book so much two years ago that I am starting it again. The Beauty of Aging. It has much to ponder and it is very uplifting really. I think my mom and grammas all set good examples of staying involved and fun most of their lives. Grace. It is one of the prettiest words in our lives. Grace, Gratitude, and Grit...... good words. She has a wonderful website and newsletter. HERE. This book is available on Amazon through third party sellers or on Kindle.


Another book I brought out of the vault is Giada de Laurentis Feel Good Food. I bought this about four years ago, but it turns out you actually have to eat this way for it to turn you into Giada. I can't say her food is my family brand whatsoever, but the recipes I have tried, I like.... I have to laugh when I recall Mom's opinion of this beautiful little woman on the Food Network. (She never failed to hiss a bit about Giada's cleavage. Those of you who know my mom will laugh. Mrs. Modesty.)


I recommend any book by Sally Clarkson. This one, The Life Giving Table, is on my short list waiting in the wings. She brings some really good ideas to daily life. I have enjoyed her other books also. 

I hope you are enjoying your favorite things this winter. I may pop on with a couple more books later if you like this kind of thing. Let me know in the comments what you want. 

Stay cozy. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

For Mama

Unbelievable. Today marks the anniversary of the day our mother and granny passed away.

Isn't it true that major events, both happy and sad seem to live in two paradoxical time waves. It simultaneously seems like forever ago... and it feels like yesterday. I wonder if the changes in our lives are visible.

My mother had the gift of hospitality. Who else would plan a birthday party-extravaganza from a hospital bed in the middle of the living room? Who else really, really wanted to be a queen for her last Halloween...  so much that her dear nurse wanted her to have a tiara. Mama, Granny to her dearest grandson, was the epitome of a gentle, fierce warrior-cookie baker-queen created to persevere, to live, to survive. She got this grit from her mama, my little gramma.

Mama was my ultimate encouragement, one I looked toward for earthly inspiration, for approval, and for comfort. She was the most generous person in our world.

My earliest memories find her doing the little, marvelous things that feed the soul... taking a picnic outside with me and our perfect cat Sally and collie dog Laddie.... painting popcorn with pink fingernail polish and gluing it to branches that also framed little blown-out eggs with magical Easter scenes inside...... proudly viewing a summer's work of over a hundred cans of green beans, 80+ quarts of old-packed tomatoes, and bag after bag of golden freezer corn, fresh green peas, and juicy strawberries and peaches And like the little red hen story she adored, she did it all herself, with any help my dad could give after his full time job and farming.

Mom and I played school until the day I walked into first grade in an embroidered gingham skirt with a teacher's bouquet of zinnias carefully wrapped --- first in a wet paper towel and then aluminum foil. My mother had taught first grade and couldn't wait for me to experience the magic of learning. She was purposeful in not teaching me to read before I went to school. I think she wanted to be fair, to give the teacher what was hers, to create in me a lifelong love of the classroom. It worked for us.

We did our hair and put on Evening in Paris perfume in front of her waterfall vanity. Her contant mantra of "pretty is as pretty does" is as central to my core as the wonderful clothes, coats, boots and purses she bought me. She spent her clothing budget on me, that's for sure.

We read together in her old gray rocker until my feet nearly touched the floor. For every silly, happy, angry, sad, or confused word that came out of my mouth, she provided undivided attention. Only a mother wants to listen 24 and a half hours a day!

Losing our mothers is a life-changing event. Where is that person living here with me who has Saturday planned to run by the Amish, have lunch in town, and watch a Hallmark movie in the dark? I need her to remind me to dust that shelf, to make a plan and stick to it, to roast her a hot dog until it is "good and burnt."

Through the past 11 years I have lived in her house. Even after her major stroke had done its worst, she managed to tell the nurse, "I do not live with my daughter...  she lives with me." My son has given up a lot, as well.  She needed help. I am glad, so glad, it worked out we could give what she needed. He says he would do it again. Our story worked for us. We feel she gave us even more.

Dolls. How could I ever write about Mom without mentioning her dolls. Such beautiful little faces. I have given a few away, but the rest of them have been waiting in the shadows and wondering about their futures. I suspect the majority of these girls will continue to live here at Meadow Lane... I told the buyer at a major auction house I wasn't selling any of the dolls who spoke to me. That must have been overheard because they have been speaking up more lately.

In the end of our lives here on earth it is good to leave with eyes fixed on Heaven. My mother spoke and demonstrated her love and faith. I heard her pray aloud after her stroke. She always thanked the Lord for her life and for her family. She asked for strength to be a better person. She asked for God to watch and help us all.

Much more I could say, but this seems enough for today. Mothers, when things go right, are perfect for the children they create.

And so it goes. I wanted to write this, and it is, after all, my blog. I can say what I feel.....

We miss you, Mama.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

All Kinds of Love. Ten Unconventional Ways to Celebrate the Day

Whimsy and Hugs!  It's high time I decorated for Valentine's Day--- just a touch here and there. Today was so spring-like the temptation was to head right on in to Easter! However, hold on to your mittens! It is Missouri, and Alexa says we are having snow on Thursday, February first.

I know I am surely no expert on Valentine dating, but I am here to announce that Valentine love can be yours! First, if you are blessed to have a partner today, I know you already know some ways to show that love in the form of the traditional gifts, cards, dinners out or in...  I will add only one idea here because this is the focus already of this Hallmark Day. 

1.) Remember a movie you went to see while you were just getting to know each other? With Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and tons of other resources, you can probably find that movie and recreate that date... right down to the food you ate. Check out this Copykat website to make your restaurant's favorites.

Now, on to some other fresh ideas to celebrate the holiday with or without your Sweetie. 

2.) Nobody sees more Valentines than your postal workers so decide to extend your holiday sharing to these fine delivery folk. That's it. Whatever you decide to give, tie it up with a red bow and maybe a card or heart tag. "Valentine, You Bring It!" And  you have it. Gum, Candy, Hot cocoa mix, a pair of gloves from The Dollar Tree... Thanking these hard workers takes so little. 

 3.) Adopt a classroom. Do you have a teacher in your family? or in your circle of friends? Let them know you would like to do something fun for their students during February. I actually think NOT the 14th because most schools have plenty going on that day. Offer suggestions and be sure to check out what the school's regulations allow. Some don't accept food, and most won't allow home-baked goodness any more. but a cute pen/pencil and a notepad can be fun. Again the very abundance of Dollar options will save the day. Red and white twine and anything will let kids know they are special. You may want to deliver in person...or not. Up to you,

4.) What about the Senior Center? I personally don't think you can miss with any elderly attention. Reach out to a friend with an elderly parent or relative. A little bit of time is the greatest gift of all so visit if you can or send a little care package of lotions, teas, treats (check on sugar trouble)...  A warm shawl is often the very best gift because it is easy to handle, and they get cold often.

5.) Post your best holiday recipe with a photo on Facebook. Tag a fun group of friends if you wish or invite them to like, share, and comment. If you truly feel up to it, offer the ingredients in a box tied up in red cellophane .... or the finished product to a random commenter to be selected by a set time. 

6.) Contact a local church, civic center, or ministry to see if you can make or buy a few cards to send to shut-ins. Include on each card a cheerful story about Valentine's Day and maybe a scripture or a few scriptures that show love. You might not be able to get a list of names due to some privacy things, but maybe they could pass your cards out themselves if you drop them off or mail to the person in charge.

7.) Do you know a young couple with or without children? I think any young person...of any age... would love a gift card to a family restaurant. For any amount you care to give. Or maybe they would like you to make your special, one of a kind, cake, casserole, pot of soup... I was a teacher for 36 years, and it was pure love to come home to a meal cooked and ready by my mom, my gramma, or a friend.

8.) Techie love. If you are savvy with technology, offer a free session of training to a non-technical friend. They can come to you, or you can go there. Maybe they secretly wish for a Facebook account. Make it happen. Possibly they don't know of the wonders of YouTube. Be their guide. If, by chance, you are reading this and still the non-technical one, just call up your friend who is always on the computer and see if you can bring over a salad or jug of sweet tea and have a fun lesson. Either way, it's best if the teacher writes down steps or a tutorial refresher website. Now you can send a virtual valentine. You're welcome.

9.)  The Gopher Gift of love...  Call up a person who just doesn't get out much and offer to go buy them something... groceries on their list, a gift for them to give a special person in their life, a stack of all-occasion cards for them to send, personal or health items... They will want to pay for the items. Let them, They will offer to pay for your time, but say, "Not this time... Happy Valentine's Day."

10.) I saved the most unconventional for last. Be your own Valentine. Clean up your kitchen and set the table for one or ten... it doesn't matter. Plan a menu that is good, healthy, and just the wee bit out of the ordinary. Go get it from a restaurant or make it the day ahead. Put on  neat outfit and makeup. Set a little bit of time to watch something fun, read, scrapbook, call some friends, do your nails, listen to music or take a pampered nap...  whatever floats your boat as long as you know it is for yourself from yourself.

Whew! Don't I sound bossy? I am preaching to the choir. I hope I try some of these myself. They all require a little work and maybe some cash. Most can be done pretty easily and inexpensively. 

 Now...  I plan to cozy in and dream up some Valentine Love

Friday, January 26, 2018

Warmer Days

Just the type of day to do some cleaning, watch my new obsession, The Crown, on Netflix... and make some wonderful soup.

I got the basis for this soup from a vlog on YouTube by The 2 Orchids, and I added a little touch to it.

Soup Recipe: 2 TB EVOO 1 onion diced 1 med. carrot diced 2 garlic cloves minced 5 cups of low sodium chicken broth 4 ripe plum tomatoes cored, seeded and diced ( I used a can of diced tomatoes) 1/2 tsp. oregano 1/4 tsp salt black pepper 19 oz. can of white beans (cannellini) rinsed and drained Fresh green beans cut into pieces 1 cup of uncooked shell pasta ( small) fresh basil fresh parsley 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese Heat oil and add onion, carrot and cook until softened. Add garlic, cook for about a minute. Stir in broth plus 2 cups of water, the tomatoes, oregano, S & P. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 min. Add white beans, green beans and pasta and cook until pasta is tender. Add the basil, parsley & cheese, then serve.

* I didn't add the beans, but I added celery. I used my own chicken broth and water plus a little shot of this soup base mix. And I used canned tomatoes and Italian seasoning.

Really tasty!

I had several ask for the oatmeal cookie recipe I mentioned a couple weeks ago, so here it is. My dear friend printed these up to give friends at her mother's funeral.

Whimsy and Hugs!

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Whimsy and Hugs!

It's good to see at least one of us is progressing toward her goals of world domination!

Really just a work in progress here with baby steps through the organization and reclamation process. It's hard to make a blog post about the same thing, day after day, and even harder to be the reader! This week I was blessed with some lovely visitors for breakfast, lunch, and tea... My son made some exchanges at Columbia today and surprised me with takeout, my absolute favorite  restaurant meal, the Asian chicken salad from Applebee's. It is just perfect. That dressing is beyond yummy.

I did a little research locally into an outdoor market here in the front meadow. That was very insightful. I think the whole process is too huge for two people, my son and I! But it would be interesting.

Loving this winter's dark days, but I know I am mostly alone on that! Don't shoot me. I have no power over the weather! Enjoying projects and soups, teas, coffees, and dreaming. Take good care, lovies!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Chill

Linking with Between Naps on the Porch.

For real, Baby! The weather here in Missouri has been so chilly this new year. Yesterday and today provided us a little emotional relief, but the roller coaster plans a huge nose-dive to Arctic drafts tomorrow. While I have had warm house and snuggly lie-ins. books to devour, and a lap kitty, my heart goes out to my cousin/niece who has had no water since ... I don't know... quite possibly the whole of 2018...  and a dear friend who sets her alarm to run her water on the hour 24/7. We have set the heaters to run in the peripheral bathroom that has been ticking off the voltage usage quite like a Taxi meter set to travel.

Tonight the weather is balmy 56 to 48 degrees. Having some friends in for a visit and decided to purchase the menu of lovely grilled chicken salads---- and just make some Pillsbury crescent rolls. I had a menu to cook but think it might be better another night. These salads are not on the diner's menu of our Pizza Hut, but they make them if people ask...  They are "da bomb"!!!!

I made some oatmeal cookies from a recipe my friend shared after her mother passed away. Seriously a contender for the best oatmeal cookie I ever made. I think my holiday decor is mostly packed away. We are loving the new arrangement for the living room, watching some really fun movies

Whimsy and Hugs!