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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I enjoy Thanksgiving.  As I was furiously cooking today I found myself, as I often do, reflecting on Thanksgivings past and on family long departed.  As I made the cranberry bread for in the morning I tried to remember when my mother first started making it; I think I was a teenager, but may have been a little older.  And, I'm making her cranberry meatballs for our main meal tomorrow. 

As I unpacked enough of the plates and serving dishes to serve the meal I found myself once again trying to remember the story of the Noritake dishes; did Daddy fly them back in the cargo hold of an empty plane or did one of his buddies?  Or did they order them through the base exchange while we were at Clark?  We never used them much, but I always enjoyed seeing them in the glass front china cabinet.

I had to remember with a smile the Thanksgivings that I traveled with husband and children to Mississippi to spend the holiday with my parents.  I loved those trips, Mississippi is so beautiful heading into the Christmas season and our visits were always memorable. Sometimes my sister and her family was there and sometimes not.  I had to laugh about the year when we finally sat down to eat our Thanksgiving meal and we all realized that Mama had forgotten to make gravy.  There were some nudges and whispers as we told the children not to say a word!

And then there was the Thanksgiving right before my mother passed away.  My sister and I arrived on Saturday, she fell and broke her hip on Sunday night, and on Wednesday we had moved her into a care facility.  I don't think she realized it was Thanksgiving on Thursday, although she did visit for a few minutes with a cousin that drove over from the other side of town to visit her.  I enjoyed chatting for quite a while with the cousin; I had never met her until a few years before.  We talked of their childhood and she shared stories I had never heard, including the story about my grandmother making a beautiful recital dress for my mother and she got to wear it, too because they were the same size (where my grandmother got the money for a recital dress is beyond me but she must have bargained for the fabric and trims). My sister and I ate turkey and dressing at Cracker Barrel after waiting for a table for over an hour.  We took home our desserts for later after another visit back to the care facility. Mama would pass away just a few days after we left.

Last Sunday my Sunday School class had  its annual Thanksgiving potluck lunch.  I look forward to this event as the food is wonderful.  We sit at tables of eight and it gives us a chance to visit. As we went through the line I noticed that the paper plates had a Thanksgiving theme and a Bible verse on them.  Imagine, a paper plate with a Bible verse!  It was Psalm 117:2, the truth of the Lord endures forever. I commented to the person in front of me and she agreed.  Then she read the verse aloud and made the comment, "That truly is something to be thankful for, isn't it."  I had to agree with her, but then it hit me that I had never thought of God's truthfulness as a blessing.  But it is and I've added it to my list of blessings to count. 
May your Thanksgiving be filled with blessings!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A cozy time

In my last post one of the pictures was of my Dickens Village.  I had started buying these pieces about 15 years ago. I had always enjoyed looking at the displays of little villages set up in the stores during the holiday season.  When my son was in his teens he started working at a local Sears.  One night he mentioned that he loved the display of the little village that Sears had for sale.  That was really all the encouragement that I needed to start buying pieces of the Department 56 Dickens Village.  They were expensive, but I tried to add one piece each year for several years.  I even bought each of my children a few pieces that they took to their own homes a few  years ago. Just about every year the Village is the first thing to go up, usually early in November, and the last to go down, usually around the first of February.  I love the warm, cozy glow of the lights and never tire of the peaceful charm of the little village.

Jaydon (oldest grandchild, age 9) loves Christmas as much as I do.  He and I both have to hold ourselves back to keep from decorating too early!  His love of the village became evident this year.  We set it up several weeks ago, planning the event well in advance so we could look forward to it.  Before the night came I had put away some of the fall decorations and prepared the top of the entertainment center for the village, so we were ready to go.  I laid out the foundation and then started bringing the boxes in from the storage container in the garage.  By the time I got the last box in the house he had everything out of the boxes and spread out, ready to go.  But then he surprised me because he had a plan and went right to work setting up each house, putting out the little people and accents, getting batteries in the lamppost, and then adding the trees and little wrought iron fence.  I only had to do a bulb replacement and add a little more of the fluffy stuff we use for snow.  He did it all.  All that was left for me to do was put the empty boxes back in the garage.  (I think decorating this year will be super easy for me!)

Several times since I've seen him standing close to the little village, just gazing intently at it.  I know he is lost in thought, just as I often am when I look at it.  Every now and then I've also seen him make a small adjustment to something in the set up, the mark of the master!  This morning it was cold outside, in the upper 30's.  He snuggled down on the sofa with a blanket, cartoons and the cozy glow of the Dickens Village.  I made him a cup of instant French Vanilla  coffee to sip while I made his breakfast and when I took it in the living room I realized what a delightful scene it was.  The houses were glowing so peacefully and he was so comfortable.  I hope this morning will be on of those moments in time that he will remember when he is older and thinks of time spent at my house. It has already created a beautiful memory for me of a little boy enjoying the cold early winter morning surrounded by the things he loves.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings

Today was Monday, all day long.  Glad to be leaving work I was driving along, half dazed after the day's work.  The sky ahead was dark and gloomy, just the kind of November sky I love.  Then I noticed that a group of trees (or maybe they were crepe myrtles, not sure) along the freeway had turned a deep, dark red.  Not a burgundy red, but not too dark either.  They were beautiful, especially with the background trees just starting to get a little fall color.  Thank you Lord, I needed that was my grateful thought as I drove by.

The trees outside my office building are turning red, too.  Everyday the view from our 2nd floor mezzanine shows a little more color.  By next week, Thanksgiving week, they will be at their peak.

We have rain in the forecast, for what that is worth.  I'm hoping, praying please please please for rain so the wildflower crop will be bountiful next spring. 

Football teams aren't doing too great this year, except for Ole Miss.  Go Rebels!  Still, I can't wait for Thanksgiving night when Texas and Tech square off.

A big pot of mums that blooms faithfully every November

Those nandina berries again! This year's crop is better than last year's!
The Christmas cactus that blooms at Thanksgiving is loaded with blooms!
The beloved Dicken's village gives the living room a warm glow
Counting the blessings, thankful for each one.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Several weeks ago I posted about our Saturday morning Gardening at the Children's Garden at the Botanical Garden Center.  It has been an enjoyable experience even though it is a Saturday morning commitment.  The weather has turned very pleasant; this morning it had rained prior to the start time making the ground slightly soft and easy to work. 

In early October, about five weeks into the program, we arrived one morning to find that our plot had been cleaned out.  It wasn't because of bugs or disease, it was from an honest human mistake.  We have several Master Gardeners that work with our group (they are wonderful!) but didn't communicate among each other about who had already put pesticide on what plots.  So what happened was that our plot and two others received multiple drenchings with a mild pesticide.   I was heartbroken, but the Master Gardeners were so kind that out dismay was soon overcome. 

As with just about anything unfortunate there was a silver lining to the little dark cloud.  Although we lost two tomato plants laden with fruit, a small plot of green beans, a cucumber, and two cabbage plants we were either able to replant or to plant some other things that the other plots were not able to plant.  In addition, they gave us creative license, so to speak, with our plot.  All the other plots have to conform and be uniform.  Ours does not!  As a result, we have planted 2 Swiss chards, 2 areas of sweet peas, 15 additional onions, and two additional cauliflowers. Plus, we have been allowed to harvest from plots where the workers don't show up!

I forgot to make pictures today before we left the garden, but here are some of the things we brought home. We had 2 large bags and 2 small bags overflowing; for the harvest, we give thanks!

2 heads of broccoli
Green tomatoes from a neighboring plot.  That big one is going in the frying pan!
A cucumber and cherry tomatoes harvested from a neighboring plot.
Arugula (yes, it is soaking in a Halloween bowl)

2 varieties of kale

Lots of Crawford lettuce!

Swiss chard
Mari-mums waiting to be floated in water. These are edible and will reseed, but I like them floating in a bowl or a little vase.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A quilt from the past

For my final quilt post from this year's International Quilt Festival I have to share about the quilt that touched me the most.  One of the exhibits featured the life and works of Betty Alderman who passed away in the last year after a battle with breast cancer.  The exhibit featured many of her quilts that she designed and made.  Reading about each entry was very interesting; she had led a very full and creative life.  She owned the business that marketed and sold the patterns for her quilt and she was an avid collector of antique quilts.

All the quilts were remarkable, perfectly made and enjoyable to look at.  Sunbonnet Sue in various occupations and styles were her trademark, along with a little black cat that made its way into several of her quilts.  I lingered for quite some time in this exhibition, delighting in all the different designs and reading each comment. 

These two quilts captivated me the most. The lower quilt in the picture was made in 1860.  Betty had bought it at an auction, if I remember correctly, in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. Although it is in relatively good shape, it is frail and was displayed carefully on this ramp covered with a dark cloth.  It is frayed in many places and brown around the edges where human hands touched it.  The reds have faded and in spots are very thin or even worn away.  But the stitching is beautiful, perfectly done. 

I knelt down for several minutes, lost in thought about this quilt.  I did the math to calculate that it is 153 years old.  I thought about the hands that made the quilt; were they young or old?  Was it made by a country woman or a city woman?  Was she waiting for her husband or sweetheart to come home from the war?  Who was the creator of this quilt?  In my mind I could feel the soft fabric and imagine how it felt to her to push and pull her needle through it.  I felt so close to the quilt and its past. 

The hanging quilt is a replica carefully copied from the original and made by Betty. To be authentic she even rounded the corners, a big no-no in today's world if you are being judged! And I just noticed that Sunbonnet Sue is showing her style in the quilt next to it!


Here's one of Betty Alderman's fun quilts.  Note the little black cat perched on the middle chair! I have a picture of my black cat perched on top of a wing chair so I'm thinking I need to give this idea a try!

All quilts designed and made by Betty Alderman, photographed at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quilt Art

Wind by Masanobu Miyama, photograph taken at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013
This is a quilt, yes a quilt!  It is made of fabric, small pieces of fabric assembled to form a picture.  There are many quilts that use this technique on display at the International Quilt Festival.  As much as I love the traditional quilts on display, I find myself intrigued by this modern form of art. This dog reminded me of my English Cream dachshunds, but the exact breed of the dog wasn't revealed in the artist's comments.
This is the creator's description of her project
Firecracker by Virginia Greaves photographed at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013
This is a quilt, too!  This photo is closer so you can see the stitching.
Note the sold sticker on the description.  I would have a hard time letting someone buy this if I had made it!
Grandpa's Farm by Cindy Kozlowski, photographed at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013
I saw this one across the way and couldn't wait to get up close. The quilt was interesting, but so was the story behind it.

And, finally something fun...
The Great Crate Escape by Pauline Salzman, photographed at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013