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"


  1. Oh my - that was such a beautiful, warm post - I really feel as if I have had a vacation too - thank you xxx

    1. You are welcome...everyone needs a vacation like that..although your home is pretty dreamy :) !

  2. Thanks for including us on your visit with your mom. She is so pretty and the hat you knitted is gorgeous! There is something to be said about visiting and meals shared together :)

    1. I will pass the compliment along to her...I think she is too. Hope I look like that when I am 74!

  3. It looks like you had the best time! Your cousin/little sister is very talented and I love her art work. When I first saw the picture of your mom in the hat and scarf I thought they were a set, it's a perfect match! Ok, now you have me missing my mom [ :) ] so off to call her.

  4. I know..it is special that they match...I am kind of a sap for sentimental stuff like that. Makes me miss my grandfather!

  5. Your lovely heartwarming post brought a tear to my eye, my mother passed away just a couple of years ago and I do miss her so.........lovely photo's of you and your mom together, she looks wonderful at 74.


    1. Thank You...I will pass that on to her! I am so sorry about your mother and it makes me more determined to visit mine while she is in such great health!

  6. Your mom is so beautiful. And those pictures by the fireplace- she looks child-like in the hat and scarf~ something about that twinkle in her eyes. I bet it was such a wonderful trip home. I am so looking forward to my visit with MY mom...

    I like a set table, too! Something from MY mom, too! And we use cloth napkins and china at every meal- no ugly dishes on our table. BUT... Charlie REALLY loves the ketchup bottle, and squirting it out, and so that has a place of honor next to my crystal vase of flowers! haha, life with little ones...

    Miss Maggie is on the move- not crawling, but scooching... you know? I set her down on one side of the room, and 10 minutes later she is on the other side (usually destroying one of the boys' block towers!). Every day, a new, wondrous, magnificent moment.

  7. PS For your Blendec in the mornings, from SkinnyTaste.com:

    Skinny Green Monster Smoothie
    Servings: 1 • Serving Size: about 1 3/4 cups • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 6 pts
    Calories: 253.4 • Fat: 4.0 g • Carb: 38.6 g • Fiber: 5.5 g • Protein: 17.5 g • Sugar: 18.4 g
    Sodium: 236.7 mg

    1 small frozen ripe banana, peeled
    2 cups baby spinach
    1 tbsp Better n Peanut Butter
    3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)

    1. Thanks for the recipe! I will have to try it...I have never had a green smoothie! But we make a lot of red and orange smoothies! Hope you have as much fun with your Mom as I did...not sure if I am going to be here or not ~ still trying to decide!

  8. Wonderful photos of you and your family. I've traveled to both the East and West coast, in a sleeper car on Amtrak. It is a very relaxing way to travel. They will actually bring your food to your room, if you request it.

  9. How do you ever leave a place so lovely with so many smiling faces. How lovely! Looks and sounds like a wonderful trip home. You're mom looks so happy and healthy:))

    My sister lives in Franklin and plays down town ( she's a struggling musician/singer:) on the weekends. We go to visit a couple times a year. Maybe we'll be there at the same time someday and we can meet in Nashville for coffee:))

  10. That would be so cool....if only I got home more frequently....I am trying to make that happen a little more now days! Nashville is such an awesome town...I hope your sister is successful there!

    1. Looks like a wonderful time! Your mother is lovely. The hat turned out well and looks perfect on her! I haven't taken a train in years, although I used to work in advertising with Amtrack as my client. They used to like it when I took a train ride now and again :) Thanks for sharing!

  11. What an awesome trip! I once took the train from SC to Boston...my favorite part was the dining car...

    Have a lovely day!

  12. Hey Sis! I sure have been thinking of you often. Looking back over the blog sure brings back wonderful memories. That week was so much fun! It has been a long time since I have enjoyed such delicious food and pleasant company. I felt so at "Peace" with the world. Your Mom and I have been having a blast as normal, and I found time to pot this past week. We should come visit soon! Please give Ellen and Sara a hug for me. I sure do love you H. Smile!
    -Amy Jane

  13. Amy Jane said...

    Hey Sis! I sure have been thinking of you often. Looking back over the blog sure brings back wonderful memories. That week was so much fun! It has been a long time since I have enjoyed such delicious food and pleasant company. I felt so at "Peace" with the world. Your Mom and I have been having a blast as normal, and I found time to pot this past week. We should come visit soon! Please give Ellen and Sara a hug for me. I sure do love you H. Smile!
    -Amy Jane


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