Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two Gorgeous Gals

Sara has a new masterpiece featuring none other then....Scout!  I love this painting and have quickly commissioned her to paint our other three dogs.  I don't have the original photo she used as inspiration to paint this as it is in her computer, but I can assure you, it is a dead on, 
100% likeness of her trusty sidekick, Scout! Below are some other photos of Scout....

This is Scout's favorite place in the world - ever the "fisherdog", she loves to try and catch the small brim and perch that hang around the banks of our river. 

Just another cute photo of Scout!!!!

The other day, I bought bones for all the dogs...it has been a while since we got them bones and Scout was obviously excited....so excited that she held her bone just like this for about 45 minutes!  I kid you not...the other dogs were just chewing away and Scout was like a statue, just sitting there - holding her little bone.  I have a feeling she was afraid to move and put it down ~ in fear of another dog taking it from her...none-the-less, it was a comical sight! 

This past weekend brought another ball, and ths time Sara was our girl in the the white gown!

I had her pose for some photos....I don't bring my camera to the ball as it is just too much to lug around ...I have learned to just capture the event with my mind's eye and enjoy the moment!  Gran-E is great about taking photos with her small, pocket camera and usually produces some great ones for me!

This was my favorite photo from our little "photo session"!  I think it captures Sara's personality perfectly!  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Freaky Friday Farenheit

To say that that our weather is freakishly warm is putting it mildly...we are within two degrees of breaking the all-time record highs....

It has been HOT ~ around 80 degrees....for weeks now! All of our flora and fauna are confused; this beautiful Japanese Magnolia should not be blooming or budding out until APRIL!!!!!!!

Azaleas are in full bloom ~ Fred is happy about this! 

While I do envy the beautiful pictures of snow that I see on my favorite northern blogs, this "Spring within Winter" has been quite pleasant! 

Those blue buds are my sweet olive ...they don't usually bloom until May! Everything is discombobulated....and no wonder...it is literally 25 degrees warmer then it should be right now. 

Warm enough to give a dirty dog a bath....is that not the saddest face you have ever seen? Actually, Maisy likes to be bathed! The camera happened to catch this expression, but she really doesn't mind a bath at all! She loves the attention and would be bathed all day if you scrub her all over!  

 The girls enjoyed the warm day by "Tye-dying " T-shirts with Kool Aid in the park.
You just mix real Kool Aid with vinegar to make the dye.....if you are interested
here is a link ~ "KoolAid TyeDye"

They really turned out nice and bright  -  so cheerful! 

And there is a lot of panting going on by our four dogs as they all have their full winter coats, and are now desperately trying to shed them (all over my house, thank you very much) 
I do hear that a cold front is on the way.....maybe we will have a touch of winter before we have to fight another long, hot, grueling summer!

Are you having  weird, wacky weather ~ do tell!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Found ~ Simple Abundance.....Literally

Why must you lose something to really appreciate its worth? And why does it always surface when you finally break down and replace object that you have lost or broken? 
 Have you noticed that???? 
This even extends to animals!  We have a barn cat named "Apple Juice" (the girls named him thirteen years ago) and he keeps all the mice away in that fabulous red barn you see in my header.  One day, Apple Juice did not come out to see me when I walked up to the barn...we looked high and low for A.J. with no luck.  Having owned him for ten years, we were heartbroken that he was missing.  After four months of waiting for A.J. to come home, it was clear that he was gone for good and our barn was in desperate need of another barn cat.  My friend Anne, (Fred ~ the goat's owner!) had a cat that "adopted" her and she offered to bring it to me.  Do you know that the very day she brought that cat to me, Apple Juice walked right up to my back door and meowed like he has never left us! It was the strangest thing in the world, but we were elated.  Apple Juice is still healthy as can be and had never 
left us again...he is now turning fourteen! 
Back to the topic of my post!
I have been reading Simple Abundance for over ten years...it is a book that you can read, every day, every year, for life.  You will never tire of it.  Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author, was inspired to write it from a quote by Toni Morrison ~ "If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ".   Seven million copies later and a # 1 New York Bestseller, 
it is on many a bedside table! 

This summer, as I was traveling to and from, I lugged it all over the place.  School started and some time went by before I realized that I did not have my copy of Simple Abundance...so I went looking for it.  Unsuccessfully.  However, I didn't worry too much ~ things usually surface, it took Apple Juice four months, right?  I kept my eyes opened for it, but no luck.  About two months ago, I started looking in earnest...under beds, I cleaned out my car, asked my mother if I left if in Tennessee, and had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Sure, I could buy another copy, but after ten years, this book is an old friend of mine.  She can't be replaced....and I really didn't realize all of this until she was gone. 
Last week, when I visited my mother, I was able to look at my house in TN and assure myself that SHE was not there .  I had been holding out hope, but now even that was exhausted.  Tired of not having my daily, uplifting essays, I walked into a bookstore and bought another copy. The copy I bought was the ten year anniversary copy and had a
 preface in it by the author which I found quite interesting! 

Sarah Ban Breathnach was a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of two previous books, but finding a publisher to take on the 957 page manuscript of Simple Abundance  was a demoralizingly difficult battle.  The proposal was turned down thirty times over a two year period. The reasoning behind the rejection? Simplicity wasn't commercial, and a lifestyle book based on gratitude? Forget it. 
 Many years, seven million copies, and thirty languages later suggest a different story.
Two fun facts that I didn't realize:  Sarah Ban Breathnach fought hard for two items in the book:  the pink ribbon bookmark and the fact that the pages are not numbered!  I didn't even realize this until I read the anniversary preface!  Her reasoning is..... "no woman on the face of the earth would ever allow herself to buy a book over five hundred pages, let alone read it.  Instead, I asked if there could be a ribbon bookmark, so that the reader
could keep her place.  To this day, I don't know how long it is"
My new anniversary copy, however, did not have the ribbon in it!  I have a feeling that it is just too cost prohibitive, as books are having to be sold so
inexpensively to stay in line with E-readers.  
Now, the fact that my book did NOT have a ribbon,  only fueled my fire to
  FIND MY COPY!!!!!!
When I returned home, I searched my house yet again....and do you know, I found it behind another book, hidden from view in my livingroom bookshelf! I was so excited.....like I said, I really never appreciated it before, but boy, oh boy, do I ever now...especially, now 
that I know about that ribbon book marker! 
In it is the needlepoint bookmark I made with my grandmother....another very sentimental memory!

See  ~ no numbered pages! I have had this book forever and NEVER noticed that! 

My mother taught me the trick of taking sweet notes and tucking them into cookbooks and other books that you will pick up from time to time (such as coffee table books).  When I found my Simple Abundance book, this sweet note from my sister to Elizabeth was in it..(so glad I didn't lose it either), it is a note thanking Elizabeth for her speech at their rehearsal dinner ten years ago...Elizabeth was eight.  

He's back!!!! (If you are new to my blog ~ meet Fred!)
you can see his first visit by clicking here...."Fred comes to visit"
I goat-sit for Fred!

Due to our freakish, warm weather...everything is bloom and Fred really likes flowers! 

Maisy and Fred became friends this time

They got along quite famously

Much better then I expected

Ellen got to feed Fred ~ he is still bottle feeding (and eating flowers)

Now that is one happy girl

and one happy goat!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

'Tis a gift....

'Tis a gift to be simple, 
'Tis a gift to be free,
'Tis a gift to come down 
Where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves 
In the place that's right
'Twill be in the valley
Of love and delight. 
                                                         Nineteenth-Century Shaker Hymn         

When I read this passage, it described perfectly, my visit home to Tennessee last week.....

Ellen was going to Atlanta for a drama convention for several days, so I thought it was a good opportunity to slip away and visit my relatives in TN...something I never do by myself!
It began with a train ride  - this time, I treated myself to a sleeper car for the ride up.  

I really don't mind riding coach, but since I didn't arrive until very late, it was awfully nice to have my very own room with a bed and pillow to stretch out on, be able to surf the net and knit! All the comforts of home!

Included with your sleeper car fee, is a trip to the diner car.....and the dining facility is excellent on the train.  I had steak and baked potato - and typically you meet someone very nice to chat with while you dine if you are alone.....I dined with the woman in the checkered scarf and red/black beret. She was so pleasant and fun to talk to...a recent graduate of college, and was going to visit her mother too...she was anxiously awaiting news from a recent job interview and was to find out the very next day whether or not she got the job.  She was hoping to get it because she told me that she wanted to have money to buy something "really nice for her mother's birthday".  I couldn't help but interject my two cents...and that was to "save her money and use her talents to make something home-made and from the heart ~ her mother would like it just as much, if not better!" That thought had never crossed her mind....I wonder if she got the job and I wonder if she made that gift...........

Even though I arrived very late, (1:00 AM), and we stayed up and chatted a bit before going to bed, I still awoke before dawn...and thank goodness I did!  The sunrise was glorious!

The house was quiet and still; I had some quality time to practice and fiddle with my camera while enjoying God's display of natural beauty. It does look like snow in the photo, but sadly, it is not....I was hoping for snow while I was there! 

I was working on a scarf to match the hat that I had just finished, so I just sat and knitted in the peace and quiet until everyone started to stir.  My parents have a house that is so conducive to feeling like you are outdoors while you are inside....huge pane-less, picture windows line the entire back of the house and over look the tree-filled, back yard.  Since you are on the top of a hill, it feels like you are in a tree house!

View from the windows

It didn't take long for my Mother to get up and join me with a project of her own...she was
cracking and picking out pecans!

And that is pretty much how the day went...we just lounged, chatted,

laughed, visited and had about as much fun as two people can have when doing absolutely nothing! 

My cousin,  and now self proclaimed, little sister ~ Amy Jane ~ came over and joined us in the lounge fest!!! However, we managed to get one important task accomplished and that was to 

take the Christmas tree down....finally!  As we were taking it down, we were amazed by the fragrance of the pine needles....more so than any Christmas tree I have ever taken down.  It was a Noble Fir if that makes any difference.  I bagged up some needles to bring home for sachets (and hopefully soap making) and even through the plastic bag, the whole room smelled like pine....so Grams (our pet name for my mother) had a bright idea....

She stuck some branches in a cute basket and 

placed it by the fireplace ~ so we could catch a nice whiff of pine while we would lay by the fire! Now even though we did goof off and lounge most of the day, we got ourselves in gear for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is one thing that doesn't happen at my mother's house...you do not miss a meal and you do not go hungry!

If you like garlic, this is the dish for you...

Her tables always looks like they are out of a magazine... you never use anything but china, crystal and silver...and real napkins! When I was little, I used to get upset that EVERYTHING
had to go in a dish or serving piece...we could not put ketchup, bottles,
 jelly jars or any type of condiment jars on the table. 

We still can't! But now I appreciate the beauty.

Home-made buttermilk pancakes...this is a great recipe.  I will try to get it on the side bar as 
it is an "oldy but a goody"!  This stove is my mother's "pride and joy" of her kitchen and a decision that she agonized over when redoing it.....it is a Wolfe and makes cooking even more fun as every thing comes out "just right"!

Another thing that Grams turned me onto was the Blend-tec...those that know me, remember my "Blendtec high"...I couldn't stop talking about it!  This awesome machine is basically a garbage disposal in a blender and will grind anything to smithereens.  My mother makes fresh fruit drinks every morning and they are delicious....another thing she inspired me to start doing.  I use my Blendtec more for soups and dressings, so I need to get back in the habit of using in the morning again! 

Amy Jane hung out with us old folks for several days and worked on her artisan skills; quite the artist, she paints, creates jewelery and is an amazing potter.  She is sharing her talents by teaching Art 1, 2 & 3 at the local high school....she had so much fun that she .....

(shhhh) took off a day of work to stay with us and (do nothing). 

I cast on another hat...this one is for Amy Jane, it has since been knitted and ripped out three times ~ thank you very much ~ but the end is finally in sight and I am about an inch away from finishing
this "Rosa Hat" from Soule Mama.  I then want to move on to mittens...
does anyone have an easy pattern?

I had a photography session with my Mom.

I gave her one of my knitted "Rosa" hats by Soule Mama and it just so happened that it matched perfectly with a scarf that she inherited from her father...and well, you know I just had to document that!

It got a bit cold outside, so we decided to go inside and sit by the fire for a few shots....they turned out really nice.  But before I show you those, I couldn't resist snapping one of my step-father who was laying on the carpet, under the TV, trying to re-hook it to the cable wires!
(and you know how frustrating that can get!)

What a good sport!

Here is my favorite shot of all times of my mother, in my hat and my grandfather's scarf.
Is that not a match made in heaven? Just in case you are wondering...she is an au naturalle beauty....her beautiful complexion is the result of using sunscreen, hats and staying out of the sun for her entire life.  Hard to do, but the results are amazing!  She is 74 and looks like my sister.
Stay out of the sun!!!!!

I really cannot stop making this hat...I am now on my third (the link is above)...oh well, here it is again...I just love this hat...thanks for the pattern Amanda!  ("Rosa Hat")  Now, I am like George Washington and I cannot tell a lie...this hat takes me forever to knit ~ but it is worth it.  I am working towards the day that I can  link up to "Yarn Along" and can cast on a sweater or a shawl or blanket (while reading a novel like Pride and Prejudice) and produce it in oh...several days like all these amazing woman whose blogs I read. !

Then my Mother took a photo of me...even though it is a bit blurry, I like it.
Don't I look relaxed????  I am!!!!!

One handy feature in the kitchen is the retractable cutting boards that are above almost every drawer in the kitchen!  It is genius....look to the left of the stove, above the drawer ~ you pull that out and voila, you have a cutting board like the one you see her making guacamole on.  Yes, she also has the coolest mortar and pestle bowl ever!  When I redesign my kitchen, I sure hope to be able to work those cutting boards in below the counter space....one day (sigh).


And, we had yet another fantabulous dinner....basically all we did is eat wonderfully, lounge and complete our projects.  Oh, we did sneak off to Memphis one day to help my Mother buy a computer...but other then that, we sat right by that fire and had girl's weekend of
doing nothing but what we wanted to do! I didn't even write a post as it was too
precious to miss a minute of....

I know there are excessive photos of the table, but it was so pretty,
and had such a good time practicing with my camera!

This weekend, I was determined to leave my settings on Manual and learn to photograph
in all types of light without a flash (and I did) as
I had the time to get the settings right!!!!

All good things must come to an end, and I was anxious to see my girls and my hubby, so I finally had to re-board that train and head back South!

I worked on Amy Jane's hat and made a good bit of progress....(after ripping it out three times!) I would  knit about three inches, make a critical mistake and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got! So, I would have to start all over...but, the third time was the charm!

And look what welcomed me home!!!!!!
My sweet Ellen made this for me!

Now that Elizabeth is gone, Maisy has become my little sidekick during the day  ( read "Missing our Gal"....is that not the cutest face ever to come home to?

See the wooden bowl and spoons...that was my welcome present from my mother when I arrived to TN ~ It has already found a home on our table.  (she bought it on her last visit to Nicaragua)  I am going to put some nice salt on one side, and my family wants me to put "Tony Chacheres" on the other....I think I will, as I have always hated that ugly green canister on the table (must get that from my mother's genes).  We never have a meal without "Tonys" so, that is what must go there...thanks Mom...one day, my table will look as good as yours....my visit definitely inspired me!

Vacations are fun, but Home is always "Home, Sweet, Home"