It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What is a lingonberry?

 Until about 2 weeks ago I had never been to an Ikea store.  My oldest grandson and I were looking for something to do and, surprisingly, he suggested we go.  I had always thought of Ikea as a store that sold inexpensive-some-assembly-required furniture.  I was in for a big surprise that was quite delightful! Well worth the hour and a half drive to get there!

Just to note in case you're not familiar with IKEA it is a Swedish-founded and Dutch-based multinational group that does design and sell assembly required furniture as well as other home furnishings and offers complete kitchen design products.  In addition their stores feature Swedish food products. Their prices are very reasonable and I found the quality of everything to be good.

We ate lunch in their cafe which is conveniently located in the middle of the store. He suggested the Swedish meatballs and I was not disappointed! The entire meal was delicious and nicely served on real plates with real utensils and an actual glass for my drink.  My only debate was if it should be considered "pre-fab", but I decided not to consider that question.  Just eat and enjoy.

Along with the entree and sides there was a helping of lingonberry sauce; I had never heard of lingonberries and expected it to taste like cranberry sauce as it looked identical.  But it was totally different with a mildly sweet taste that was the perfect complement to the meal. So as we shopped I picked up a jar of their lingonberry jam even though I rarely eat anything with jelly or jam.  Why not give this a try for something different?  And, the nutritional information wasn't bad at all.

So what is a lingonberry? The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association defines it as

A close relative of the cranberry and the blueberry, lingonberries (Vaccinum vitis-idaea var. minimus), usually known as the lowbush or mountain cranberry, do grow wild in the cooler regions of the United States.  

The lingonberry grows as a shiny leaved, short spreading, evergreen shrub, quite similar to the lowbush blueberry, although the branches of the plant are more tender and less woody.

picture from Wikipedia of the species found in North America

Friday, February 23, 2018

Linger a little longer

All good things do eventually come to an end and so it was time to trim the nandinas. Before this last spell of wet, cold weather I pruned them back, but decided to save this cluster just to prolong the winter season.  

I always look forward to the nandinas’ red berries around Thanksgiving. I just want to enjoy them a little longer. But no worries as they will soon start to bloom and reassure me that there will be berries to enjoy again!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Waiting to plant

Peppermint and basil - waiting to be planted. I picked these up about a week ago and kept them in the house while it was still cold.  They are now outside and I'm going to plant them this week in pots.  I've found that the more delicate herbs seem to fair better in the summer heat in a pot where they retain moisture. It also enables me to move them around if needed.

Now the confession:  I've already been plucking the basil leaves for culinary purposes. It really is my go-to herb for cooking and just for a little aromatherapy. Herbs are one of nature's best gifts!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fun facts about Fat Tuesday & Mardi gras

Have you ever wondered what Fat Tuesday is all about?  I wasn't raised in a family or religion that observed the season of Lent; I didn't really know what it was until I joined a denomination that does observe the season. Likewise, I was unfamiliar with Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras.  Since we are heading into the beginning of Lent I thought it might be fun to look at these two observances and how they came to be, especially since they were originally one and the same.

Eating pancakes and going to Mardi Gras celebrations are fun activities, but their origins are thought to have started in the Middle Ages as a way to prepare for Lent. Since eating meats, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were restricted during Lent families would have three-day celebrations beginning on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and culminating in a great feast on Tuesday.  The purpose of the celebration was to consume these items that would spoil during the forty days of Lenten fasting. By the beginning of the 20th century the celebration had been shortened to the one-day observance of Shrove Tuesday.  This term was derived from the word shrive which means to confess one’s sins and receive absolution from the priest.

So where do the pancakes fit in to Shrove Tuesday?  The English gave us this tradition of eating as many pancakes as humanly possible as a way to use up milk, fats, and eggs on hand.  It’s easy to see where the nickname Fat Tuesday came from, right?  But the Fat Tuesday nickname actually came from France as a reference to eating up all the fatty foods on that day.  Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.

Today Mardi Gras is associated with parties, parades, and revelry in the streets of many cities. It is thought that this tradition came about as a result of the Spring Equinox celebrations of the Romans and ancient pagan peoples of Europe, although many think that the celebrations began as a way to “let it all hang out” before the somber Lenten season’s restrictions mandated observance.  These pre-Ash Wednesday celebrations were referred to as “Carnivals” which is derived from the Latin term carnem levare, meaning "to take away the flesh".  Most likely their exuberant excesses led to the Church’s decision to shorten the celebration to one day!

I hope you enjoy the fun associated with this week’s Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Carnival activities.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Vintage has been on my mind a lot lately. Vintage clothes, hats, linens, china and now jewelry. I have just a few rows to go on this crocheted shoulder wrap made of extra-fine merino wool, but my search for buttons was turning up empty. Then I found this pair of vintage clip-on earrings in a thrift store - perfect!

Who needs expensive mass produced buttons when you can have vintage clip-on earrings to hold your wrap together?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas in the air

 When the wreaths appear, you know that Christmas is in the air!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Petunia, Betty & the mini-dachshund


In July of 1989 the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority achieved its goal of returning streetcar service to the city of Dallas, Texas when the streetcars began rolling down the tracks in the Uptown district.  All the cars are authentic streetcars and run 365 days a year with no fee to riders.  They can be chartered for private events too.



Petunia was part of an order of 25 cars from the J.G. Brill Company and was introducted into service in 1920 by the Dallas Railway Company.  While she featured many safety improvements her ride was bumpy and uncomfortable to riders.  She remained in service until 1947 and then was stripped of wheels, motor, and electrical wiring and converted into a residence.  Today, thankfully, she has been re-fitted with shock absorbers.

I rode Petunia in 2015 and was delighted with her details as well as the Uptown neighborhood.  At the end of the line the driver takes a break while the trolley is turned around via a large rotating wheel.  Petunia has doors and operating contrals at either end of the car. At that time the M-Line (as it is nicknamed) was pet friendly although I had a struggle getting the dog on and off as the steps were steep!
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Betty was built in 1926 by American Car Company for the Dallas Railway and Terminal Company and was still in service in 1956 when Dallas ended their trolley routes. She was then converted into a children's playhouse. Upon her return to Dallas she was renovated and equipped with air-conditioning.

I rode her in July 2017 and was delighted with her interior and once again enjoyed the ride.  The afternoon was cool as rain showers were approaching and the windows on the trolley were open. As I stepped on I asked if dogs were permitted as there was no mention on their web site about still being dog friendly.  The operator said no, but told me to come on board that it was okay since he had a mini dachshund at home! I hopped on and Bree enjoyed her ride, even sniffing the air through an open window.

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What is a trolley and how does it operate? The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority web site offers this explanation:

A trolley car (or streetcar) is similar to a railroad passenger car. Like a train, a streetcar runs on a set of rails. Streetcar tracks are usually in or alongside city streets. An electric streetcar is sometimes referred to as a “trolley”, because it has a special pole that extends from the roof of the car to an electrified overhead wire, similar to a telephone or utility cable. The trolley pole collects power from this overhead cable and sends it to the motors located underneath the streetcar. The operator “drives” the streetcar with a controller.

The first street cars were introduced in 1828 and were pulled by horses or mules. The first electric powered streetcars began operating in 1888 in Richmond, Virginia and quickly caught on in other cities. Just to note that San Francisco's famous streetcars are actually cable cars that are pulled along by a special cable located under the street in a slot between the rails; they have been operating continuously for over 100 years.

Dallas discontinued their streetcar service in 1956 after pressure from various groups. The 4 remaining streetcar lines were closed and Dallas opted for modern bus service.

Funding for the M-Line operational costs is provided through an agreement with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit as well as donations from other sources including public donations. To see a schedule click on the link above.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Welcome Summer 2017

Happy First Day of Summer! Where I live the temperatures have already soared into the upper 90's and there is lots of sunshine and those big fluffy Texas only clouds.  All eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico from now until early October, and, yes there's development out there already. Time for watermelon, iced tea and summer evenings swatting mosquitos.  The long days of summer stretch before us - get out and do something fun!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Little Elephant

[IMG_1642_edited-1.jpg February 2017, temporary location

This cast stone elephant is charming, isn't it?  It is one of two that are part of the Hertzberg Circus Collection.  For many years it and its companion stood in front of the former San Antonio Public Library at 210 W. Market Street.  Everytime I walked by the building it never failed to make me smile!

The little elephants have a long story that, thankfully, has a happy ending for them. Harry Hertzberg was a local attorney and avid circusana collector who left his extensive collection to the City of San Antonio when he passed away in 1940.  The collection was then housed in the former San Antonio Public Library building and the first elephant was installed at the front; the city continued to add to the collection doubling its original size.

Five elephants were cast by local artist Julian Sandoval.  A fellow circus collector commissioned one for Mr. Hertzberg as a gift; it was displayed on Mr. Hertzberg's lawn until his death. The second elephant was donated to the collection when its owner passed away in 1989.  It was installed opposite the original elephant in front of the old library.

By 2001 the circus collection contained 40,000 items and the cost of maintaining the museum was prohibitive. Per the terms of Mr. Hertzberg's will the collection then passed to the Witte Museum. One elephant was installed in front of the museum and named "Cinnamon Candy". Countless children (including my oldest grandchild) posed for pictures with this little elephant.
IMG_2465_edited-1.jpg Cinnamon Candy in her new location, 2017

A re-painting of the elephant was sponsored by the Bolner family, owners of Bolner's Fiesta Spices in 2006; conservation work has also been done to preserve the elephant. When the Witte underwent a major renovation the elephant was moved to the side of the museum, close to the temporary entrance.  When the renovations were finished the little stone elephant was moved to its new location in front of the B. Naylor Morton Research Center. I'm not sure where the other elephant is - time for a trip to the museum!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's amaryllis time!

This year's amaryllis crop is booming and more stalks keep appearing! It's so uplifting to pull into the driveway and see the line of bright red flowers greeting me along with the 2 pots of red geraniums!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blog Revival

After much debating I've decided to revive this blog again.  It was my first blog and as I read back over those early posts, I know I've come a long way with creating my self - at least my writing self!

Almost 2 years ago I switched over to using a Wordpress format with the same blog name and posted simutaneously for a while.  I just couldn't abandon this blog.  Even with not writing anything I still get more views  here than on Wordpress and more than anything I want people to read and enjoy what I share. And I still feel this way, so I'm going to start posting here.

I may use some of the same content found on Wordpress, but may vary the content.  Please read along with me!

And, just a reminder that I have 2 other blogs.  Click on the pictures in the side bar to reach Tales of Wagging Tales and Doorway Into the Past.

Where are these stairs? Mission Concepcion, click here to read more