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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday 01.28.2014

I know, I know.  I should not have let him do this, but he slipped up there while I was making pictures and then I realized he was watching me to see what I would do.  So what did I do?  The overindulgent grandmother simply made his picture and told him to be careful that I did not want to have to pull him out of the lake and then have to explain what happened to his mother!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Creating Yourself, part 2

Life is about creating yourself. I have many thoughts to share about that statement, many of which are still swirling around in the salad spinner brain.  And, dear readers, I think you also have thoughts about how the events of your life have led you to be the person you are today as well as the person  you want to be.  I think in the process of creating ourselves we incorporate a selective process where we attach ourselves to what we want to be and try to move away from that which we do not want to be.  In the process, we create the person we are happy to be. 

As I mentioned in the last post, I was creating myself when I started this blog.  Little did I realize that it would, in turn, lead me to other bloggers who are of like mind as well as some who have given me insight into different avenues of thought.

Through an internet search one afternoon I found the Preservation in Mississippi blog which has kept me in touch with preservation efforts in the other state that I love and call home in my heart. I have travelled virtually all over the state reading about the preservation of and sometimes the loss of historic treasures.  My love of old buildings was buried deep down inside, I knew it was there, but it needed to come bubbling up to the surface.  It needed to be released so I could incorporate it into my life - part of the creating process.

From that blog I found Suzassippi's blog after she became a regular contributor to Preservation in Mississippi.  She recently wrote a lovely post that shared our chance connection and how we connected through post office murals and cemeteries. She shares words about historic places (and pictures, too) and introduced me to the Living New Deal project.  She also writes about life in Mississippi as well as her trips home to Texas and a dear horse named Rio. She likes good food, pots of tea, and good wine!

Suzassippi in turn led me to other bloggers that have expanded my world.  She introduced me to Lana at Hickory Ridge Studio.  Lana shares good recipes on her blog, writes about her love of music and horses, she quilts and does needlework, and is a working mother with a precious little one.  Often she shares about her struggles with the lack of time and so many things she wants to do.  I relate to that struggle and it encourages me to know that I am not the only woman with not enough time to do the things I need to do, much less the things I want to do.  Lana also is a super photographer and catches the Mississippi landscapes to share with her readers.

She also introduced me to LindaRe's blog, Between the Gate Posts.  LindaRe is a genealogist who  describes herself as a community researcher who intertwines family stories with historical events.  She has some amazing stories that are heart wrenching to read, but need to be shared so they are not forgotten.  I'm thankful for her dedication to sharing these stories as she is also busy tending to her family.  LindaRe also includes photographs and illustrations of the people and events she writes about, bringing reality to the stories.

One last blog I want to mention before I close is Southern Lagniappe.  Janie is a photographer who shares fabulous pictures from around Mississippi along with beautiful devotional thoughts.  She has the artist's eye for capturing nature and I'm grateful that she shares it on her blog.  Flowers, trees, and nature always lift my spirits and her blog inspires me to keep on working on my photography skills. 

Thank you to all of you who blog and share your world with me.  You have inspired and encouraged me more than you will ever know. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Creating yourself

I found this little plaque while Christmas shopping and the words struck me so that I knew I had to bring it home.  It quickly found its place in my kitchen window.  I wish someone had told me this when I was younger, but maybe it is something that you can't understand until you have experienced life.  I've thought about this saying a lot in the last few weeks and have several posts outlined on the subject.

I didn't realize it, but I was creating myself when I started this blog almost five years ago. If you've read that first post then you know that it was a small chrysanthemum that lifted my spirits and caused me to realize that it was the small simple things of life that give me joy.  Starting the blog was a way for me to write down and capture my thoughts; I was creating a part of myself that had been hidden deep inside and needed to come bubbling up and out of me.

Little did I know that in addition to satisfying that creative drive with writing and photography that I would encounter other bloggers with similar interests and values.  Reading their blogs and sharing comments has formed friendships for which I am very grateful.  I have found that reading about other women’s experiences has made me aware of the many commonalities that we share.  Reading posts written from different viewpoints has made me even more eager for more experiences of life that expose me to different thoughts and new approaches to thinking.  Yes, that is part of creating oneself, isn’t it? Expanding your thoughts, exploring your world, embracing new ideas, always seeking to know more, accepting life's experiences.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday 01.21.2015

Mitzie never hesitates to tell me what is on her mind!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Simple Joys of Blue Willow

Blue Willow dishes have been a part of my life since I was a small child.  When I read the comments on my last post (thank you, dear ladies) I realized that Blue Willow dishes are one of the small, simple joys of my life. I eat off them everyday, enjoying their comforting pattern, and never connected with them being a small, simple joy!

My mother was born in 1933 and I know that my grandparents didn't have very much.  Times were hard.  I don't know if they bought this little set for her or if it was a premium that came in sacks of flour or sugar.  It is possible that one of the several childless aunts and uncles that doted on my mother gave it to her.  It is also possible that just like with paying for her piano lessons by driving the teacher around to other lessons that my grandmother paid for it by bartering.  I will never know, but I played with it as a child during those priceless visits to my grandparents home.
My mother treasured this little set and had brought what remained of it home with her when they cleaned out her parents house.  Sadly, most of the remaining pieces have a chip or two and both surviving cups have no handles. I also treasure this little set and brought it home with me when we closed my parents house. Most pieces bear the mark, "Made in Japan" which indicates it was made between 1921 and 1940; there is no manufacturer mark, but it is of relatively good quality. I found a very similar set in my reference book where the shapes of the pieces are identical, but the pattern appears differently.

The plates tell a version of the Romeo and Juliet story.  There are many versions of the Blue Willow legend but it involves two young lovers who are denied permission to marry.  In one legend the father's are kings of adjoining kingdoms and bitter enemies. The fathers refuse to allow their children to marry and you know the end of the story.  The two birds are the young lovers, turned into turtle doves by the gods so they can fly away to happiness. There are many symbols in the designs and the band around the edge is a story in itself with many different patterns. While most people attribute the legend and the pattern to the Chinese, the pattern was developed by the British and the legends later assembled by the British and Americans!
I had purchased a few small plates, a Homer Laughlin platter, and a cup and saucer in local antique stores before I purchased my first dinner plate.  I brought it home and was about to proudly hang it on the wall in a grouping of plates when I flipped it over and, gasp, looked at the mark for the first time: it was a Johnson Bros. pattern, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.  It was not an antique, but a fairly recently made plate! I still laugh at myself about that one, but as it was the plate only cost $15 and later went into the cabinet for daily use.  Shortly afterward Albertson's had a promotion that offered Blue Willow dishes as the premium.  I saved my stamps and managed to assemble an 8 place setting of Churchill Blue Willow for a very reasonable sum.  As they were discontinuing the promotion I was short on stamps, but noticed that they still had a good quantity on hand, so I negotiated for the tea pot at the premium price! I wish I could have afforded more, but I could only buy so many groceries in a week. 
I don't know what it is about this pattern that enchants me.  I find it so soothing and so natural and it seems timeless.  Now with the growing family I really do need to expand my set.  I can't think of eating off of anything but Blue Willow!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Favorite Friday Fish

The fifth grader frequently asks for his favorite Friday meal - tilapia.  We decided tonight to name it "Our Favorite Friday Fish".  I found the recipe on the can of Old Bay seasoning and it is very easy!

Brush both sides of fish fillets with oil and place on a foil lined pan.  Mix together 1 teaspoon of the Old Bay reduced sodium seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon dill weed, and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (I use McCormick's California Blend).  Sprinkle evenly over the fillets and bake at 400 degrees until done.

The original recipe was for salmon, but I always use tilapia. Tonight the requested sides were green beans, avocado and a sliced pear.  I would have liked some pasta or couscous, but was too lazy to just make it for me.  We ate in front of a nice little fire while watching Cartoon Network and then switching to the Disney channel.  A perfect Friday night for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday 01.14.2015

Doorbell on the
Hermann and Antoine Ingenhuett homestead
Comfort, Texas

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Silence

Have you ever noticed how silent it is on a cold day or night?  I first noticed that silence during the two winters I lived in Alaska.  Most nights I would venture out to the skating rink located close to where I lived, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend or two.  Just to note, we lived on a base and it was perfectly acceptable for a 9 or 10 year old to go out at night.  Many nights I would be the only skater on the rink and the northern sky and stars watched over me; occasionally the Northern Lights would dance for me, too.  I remember the silence and the feeling of being so in touch with the universe.
I experienced that silence this afternoon and had to marvel again at the wonder of it. After church I hurried home to get started on the Cowboys game, let the dogs out, and flipped on the TV.  As is their habit when it is cold and wet the little darlings stood by the door, so I went out with them and mandated that go out into the yard.  As I stood there waiting on them I was aware of the silence in the winter air. The sky was a light gray and the temperature still cold.  There was no sound of traffic and no sound of planes taking off.  Smoke from a fire place drifted by and birds were flying against the backdrop of leafless trees. Just total quiet surrounding me in the cold air. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wednesday 01.07.2015

I've always loved working puzzles, the bigger the better.  This 1,000 piece puzzle was fun and easy.  I bought it at the King Ranch (where else would you find a puzzle like this?) and Jaydon convinced me to start on it that same night.  As we put the different places together to form the puzzle's border we discussed places we had been and places we want to go.  Road trip!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Challenge Yourself!

My grandkids have this little laptop-like toy that they play with from time to time.  The little monkey on the screen tells them to "Challenge Yourself" and then gives them a task to complete.  I've been hearing this little monkey in my head since right after Christmas.  

As I shared earlier, I usually don't make New Year's resolutions although at this time of year I think of certain things that I need to accomplish. Right after Christmas I realized that I needed to spend sometime clearing my mind and to start planning ahead. It was as I was rolling all this around in my salad-spinner like mind that I started hearing the monkey.  Challenge yourself, challenge yourself, I just have to challenge myself.

Rather than making resolutions, compiling to do lists, or setting goals I've come to the honest conclusion that I just need to challenge myself with each activity.  I'm just competitive enough that the idea of a challenge is motivating to me.  I've decided that 2015 will be the year of the challenge.  Bless that little monkey's heart; I find direction in the strangest places.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday 12.31.2014

Store window, Fredericksburg Texas
I was captivated by these words on the store window. As I stared at them I wondered what their significance was and if they were original or a quote.  I know that they caught my attention because  the advice of the words were what I needed to see.  I know it is time to start something new.

A little checking and I found that they are attributed to Eckhart von Hochheim (1259-1327) who was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic. He was referred to as Meister Eckhart, having the academic title for the Magister in theologia he earned in Paris. He would be tried as a heretic, but is thought to have died before the verdict was announced. I find myself wanting to know more about this man who lived so long ago, yet speaks to me now.

As we come to this last day of 2014, dear readers, I find his words to also be appropriate advice for the coming new year.  New Years day isn't anything really special, there really isn't anything new about it.  But it is a time to mentally reflect on the past year, anticipate the new year and plan to live life as the best you can. Is it time to challenge yourself to try something new?

Strive for happiness and take satisfaction in all that you do.

Happy New Year and
May you experience the magic of beginnings!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The In-Betwen Time

Right now we are in the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  The in-between time.  The race to Christmas is over, but the Christmas spirit still lingers.  The decorations are still up and I'm still playing Christmas music, but we have another celebration to look forward to and the holiday atmosphere is still here. I almost think of Christmas as a week long celebration that goes from Christmas Eve through New Years Day.

This week has always been just as pleasant to me as the days before Christmas and I suspect that this goes back into my childhood.  Most years we were at my grandparents and this week was spent enjoying Christmas presents, visiting with relatives, going for drives in the country and, weather permitting, taking a winter walk through the pasture or nearby woods.  One holiday was over and another was to come before we had to head home and declare an end to that year's Christmas season.

This week is when people begin making their New Years resolutions.  Time to end one year and start the next with good intentions of new habits.  I've never seriously made New Year's resolutions; although I usually do think of a few things that I should do like organize all those paper pictures stored in random boxes and finish some UFO's in the quilting room. But strangely, this year I've had several experiences that are making me aware that I do need to make one resolution and keep it.

The first event was my inability to concentrate and plan a simple breakfast. I had signed up to provide the buffet-style breakfast for my Sunday School class on the Sunday before Christmas.  I had estimated we would have about 40 people that Sunday (and I was right) and needed to plan for juice, fruit, and then two other items.  I've known about this for weeks, but every  time I started to think about the menu I just drew a blank.  I just couldn't organize my thoughts and make any decisions.  I even looked for some new recipes thinking that would help.  But nothing, nada.  Even in the grocery store I was wandering around for quite a while, picking up items for one dish and then putting them back.  I just couldn't seem to focus, but finally got it together and the breakfast turned out well.  The end result was that I realized that I needed to de-clutter my mind; I just had too many thoughts going too many different ways which was keeping me from focusing.  I resolved to sit down after Christmas and spend some quiet time trying to re-group.  Maybe sit outside with a cup of tea and a notebook, clearing out the mind.

The next event was on Christmas Eve day.  I was to make dessert for our family gathering.  After much debating I decided to make Red Velvet cupcakes, but wasn't sure about what else to make.  So, the result of my indecision was that I ended up going to the grocery store early on Christmas Eve morning to get the things I needed for the cupcakes as well a few other items.  I had decided the night before that if they had a suitable pre-made pie or dessert that I would just buy it. After all, I had not wrapped any gifts and I knew that my time was short. That turned out to be a wise decision and I brought home a lovely (and delicious) pumpkin pie.  But the problem was that in addition to the store being crowded the shelves were pretty empty in some places.  Including the aisle where the baking goods and the necessary red food coloring would be.  I stood there in disbelief looking at the empty shelf.  What, I screamed out to myself, no red food coloring?  Don't they know this is Christmas?  Good grief.....oh, wait.  Really, are you surprised?  What were you thinking, did you really expect to come in here at the last minute and find a much sought after item like red food coloring?  Come on, it is Christmas and red is the color of the season! So I had to re -group and fortunately found a package mix that worked well.  Still in a state of disbelief as I finished the shopping I reminded myself that I had no one to blame but myself for waiting until the very last minute to shop.

As I drove home I continued my conversation with myself and had the clear thought that it is time to get myself organized again and quit living 5 minutes into the future; I have to start planning ahead. Not a bad resolution, is it? It is definitely time to sit down with the tea and a clean page in the notebook and start thinking ahead.  As 2014 comes to a close and I enjoy this in-between week I am finishing up some of those unfinished items on the to do list and getting them out of the way.  I feel like I'm clearing the path in my mind to get back into an organized life.  I'll probably fall off the track and when I do I'm just going to remind myself about the red food coloring episode!