Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quilts on Snow... & Other News

February 20, 2010

I know, I'm hopeless but I think quilts look even better in the snow than they do when there is green grass and leaves!

I hope you all had a nice and restful weekend, and I thank you for your nice comments on my weekend post about hymns.


We learned this month that Jamie and Thad are going to (finally) be able to buy the house they've been renting for several years. Land disputes and court proceedings and many problems the owners have had to resolve have put the sale off for years. BUT FINALLY! We figure they will close on their home by the end of this month!

Then on Friday we found out that our son's purchase agreement he made on a home--one that was in short sale/foreclosure--that he signed around the first of December has (FINALLY!) been accepted! He's been told that closing should take place by the end of March....which all adds up to what I knew was already a busy spring is likely to get even BUSIER.

He closes and moves the last week of March...

A trip to see Jamie in April.

A large retro housewife bridal shower for my niece when we get back.

Once that's done, we have to get the yard and gardens in shape...we can't plant the veggie garden until the end of May but we still have a ton of work to do before that can happen!

Have to be packed and ready to run by the middle of May for the birth of my grandson...

Once that's done and I'm back home,which will probably be mid-June I will have a couple months to get ready for a baby shower for Jamie that I'm planning with my sister that will take place when Jamie and Thad and the baby come home for a week for Melissa's wedding in August. Once they leave, it's almost time for school to start again!

So all that means....
I'm going to be crazy busy!

And that pesky SPRING CLEANING has to be done in MARCH or it won't get done. This will be the quietest, least scheduled of months until school starts again.

I now realize that, like someone older had told me years ago, when your kids grow up and get out on their own only means you get busier...and when you add in grand children....more so!

How's your spring and summer shaping up?

I usually don't have to think this far ahead...but this year is different and because I turned the calendar to March, I guess it's awakening me from my dopey hibernation and realization is setting in about how close all these events are becoming!

Sunnier days in 2007, wearing an apron my good friend Pat gave me that year for my birthday...

Well....guess I better get my sleeves rolled up and get to work!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Power (and Peace) in Hymns

I love to go to church on Sunday mornings.

I go to a very plain country church. It used to be a store, it's been added onto and has a funny shape with a rounded roof.

You might go to a church in the big city with beautiful furnishings and stained glass windows, a soaring roof line and a steeple with a bell.

Not that any of that matters.

What I do know is that
the Lord is pleased when we give him our first fruits, and that means the first fruits of our time, too.

To begin the week on Sunday morning: just taking that time to recognize that the reason we are able to live, move and have our being is that HE makes it all possible --is a comfort and a blessing.

Sitting there in that pew, knowing that you need to be humble, because you certainly don't deserve all the blessings that He's given to you.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me!"

Some things that I love about church are the peacefulness that overwhelms me as I enter and sit in the pew.

I love that we're all sitting side by side, as a family.

I love it when my husband puts his arm around me...the hush of the congregation as the pastor steps forward.

I like hearing the choir sing.

I love holding my Bible, and the sound of the pages turning in unison as the pastor announces the texts during his sermon.

"Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!"

I also love it when my husband shifts in the pew and switches arms and turns and puts his other arm around our son, making memories that are strong and precious and will be etched in his heart for the rest of his young life, even when his dad may no longer be near him, physically, he'll feel those arms wrapped around his shoulders during church.

"Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be....thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done....on earth as it is in heaven....Give us this day, our daily bread...."

One of the best parts of all on Sunday morning, is picking up the hymnal, hearing the music start to soar and singing hymns that our parents, theirs before them and generations beyond sang in churches, both humble and great in generations past; in this country in the cities or frontier towns scattered across the middle of the country, even in the wild west, or in their homelands across the ocean.

"What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus...what can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus...oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow..."

I am more than happy to sing a song to God that perhaps George Washington sang as he stood tall in his congregation out there in the wild and beautiful hills of Virginia:

"Faith of our Fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword!"

The words of the familiar hymns--most of them by now memorized-- have meanings, and if you do nothing more than listen to the sermon contained within the words of a've been to church and can go home fuller than when you arrived.

"We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around...."

(A hymn can be hummed to your baby while you're rocking him to sleep, your accompaniment the squeak of the rockers: infusing him with wisdom inspired by God and his Word....precious memories made for both you and the baby. There are simple ones you can softly sing...)

"Oh, how I love Jesus...Oh, how I love Jesus..."

Some hymns are upbeat:

"Some glad morning, when this life is over, I'll fly a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away....I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away...."

As that song is sung, I can vividly remember tent revivals I went to with my parents as a kid: in a hot and breezy tent on a late summer night, all of us gathered and parked in the freshly cut hay field on the farm a sweet old farming couple we went to church with. The crowd sang "I'll fly away" and ten more good old gospel songs with all their might, and the crickets sang along.

Some hymns are comforting and reassuring:

"Anywhere with Jesus, I can safely go; Anywhere He leads me in this world below..."

There is one song in particular I can never make it through without crying and that is:

"To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear...."

(My husband has learned that as soon as that song is announced he puts his arm around me because he knows what's coming. It's either run out of the auditorium or weep through it; most of the time I weep.)

Some songs remind me of certain people, like my brother-in-law who died young, and at his funeral we sang:

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone....!"

At Easter, we are reminded of our Lord's loneliness in Gethsemane when we sing the opening lines of:

"I come to the garden alone...while the dew is still on the roses...and the voice I hear, falling on my ear...."

Or around the fourth of July when we all sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, I think of my dear Grandpa who requested it be sung at his funeral. Strangely I can sing it all the way through without a tear, because it's a triumphant song:

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored....He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on...!"

We can celebrate seasons with our hymns, and the remember the sacrifice of those that came before us during special times of year by singing those classics like:

"Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain..."

That's another one that I can barely make it through without a Kleenex. My throat swells and shuts and I can barely get a word out past the first stanza.

Yes, just opening a hymnbook can bring back a flood of memories and of comfort. Have you heard the stories about Alzheimer patients or those with severe cases of dementia who can remember nothing much else...being able to sing along word for word when a hymn that was burned into their soul is sung: bringing joy to the family of loved ones as they watch and listen?

"I will sing the wondrous story, of the Christ who died for me....How He left His home in glory for the cross of Calvary....Sing O sing, of my redeemer, of the Christ who died for me! Sing it with the saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea!"

I know the modern trend is "praise and worship" and "contemporary Christian music" but I hope that as long as there is a United States of America that we will never fully abandon the precious hymn book and the stories and simple wisdom and truths contained therein.

A hymn is a mini-sermon, and we all probably have memorized enough for a lifetime, just in case it's us one day that's sitting in a wheelchair with our gray hair and not able to remember our own name, singing with our families:

"Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee...."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's STORY TIME: Frisker (Or the Dog Who Wanted a Home)

Today I'm sharing another vintage children's book from the Whitman Tell-a-Tale Books series copyrighted 1956; FRISKER by Mary Lauer Nowak. Other than the pages coming away from the cover and some wear on the spine, this book is in pretty good shape.

Little Lisa S. once owned this book. I'm acquainted with her --I actually know who Lisa is! The reason is her last (maiden) name is on the book. I've considered trying to contact her to see if she might want it back; I bought it at a garage sale that wasn't at her childhood house, so she may not have seen this in YEARS! Well, she took good care of it for it to make it through all of these years. I'm glad she saved it, because it's one of my favorites!

Now, stick with this story, it gets a little sad but it has the happiest of endings. I like the illustrations which were done by Leonard Shortall. (I wonder, was he short or tall?)

Either way, Leonard did a wonderful job on the drawings..they are some of the most crisp and colorful in my whole collection. When you think about it, what would a children's author be without an illustrator to make the story come alive?

(Click any photo to enlarge.)

Now wasn't that ending worth the wait? Frisker looks so proud! So sweet....I want that little red doggie house!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dollar Store Decorating

Last week, Carol at Raised in Cotton showed us some gorgeous glasses and stemware she bought at a dollar store; and asked if we had any favorite buys from a dollar store that we've used in our homes. I have one to show today.

I was running through Dollar General the other day because since I broke my foot, big stores are out of the question because of all the walking....before I even get INTO the store my foot hurts, so...I needed flour and stopped in at Dollar General.

I walked by this plate, and of course the colors, the gingham border and the rooster caught my eye. It was $1.50 and it now lives above my fridge. I kinda like him. And when I don't anymore? No big deal, he can hold a cake I can give away or cookies for a sick friend! How fun!

Another Retro Housewife Bridal Shower!

Last spring, I gave my niece Autumn a retro housewife bridal shower. This spring, another niece, Melissa, will be celebrated at a shower in mid- April! Such fun these themed bridal showers. I mean look at that photo!

She recently had some photos taken by a friend for her postcard invitation that will be very similar to her cousin's. I loved the shots and they'll be done in black and white with a white border in a matte finish to stay true to the 60's retro theme.

Melissa's shower is a retro housewife theme, but this time we'll be going a little more on the glamorous side by doing a garden tea party.

The decorations will be tea cups, and glamorous vintage hats, gloves and purses, a collection that my mother has built up over the years. Of course it will give us aunts (there's four of us aunts, my mom had five girls and four boys) a chance to wear our fancier vintage aprons while we wait on our guests! Such fun....

Melissa borrowed a favorite hat for her invitation photo and doesn't she look the part of a 60's fashion plate? What a cutie!

There will be enough of my mom's vintage hats, gloves and purses to decorate the whole hall and I'm sure my mom will love seeing other people get to see and enjoy her big collection.

I am ordering two invitations, half with this photo above and half with the top photo. The middle photo that is the closeup of the hats will be used in the decorations or in other ways for the shower. I thought it might make a nice calling card with the bride's new address for all the shower attendees to take home with them.

If you have other ideas for ways to use the middle photo, let me know, I'd love to hear them.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Map Your Drawers....

The other day I showed you my little "aquamarine" corner of the living room. That little dresser I showed you has some unique drawer liner that actually is kinda cute. Have you got some old maps--or at least a Cracker Barrel map or two sitting around because they were too cute to toss?

Oh, but what to do with them?
Spread it out, cut it to fit and ...


What do ya think?

The paper clips lie at the border of California and Nevada.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple & Easy: Baked Steak Fries

Thanks to my friend, Linda, I've found that there's an easy and painless way to make your own restaurant-quality steak fries at home without frying them!

These go very well with grilled steak, burgers or chicken, even fish. They are simple to make and are done faster than you might think!

You will need:

Baking potatoes, washed and drained or dried off (1.5 potatoes per serving)

Olive oil
(several tablespoons to 1/4 cup depending on how many potatoes)

Lowery's seasoned salt OR your favorite seasoning
(I enjoy a Cajun blend spice along with a very light sprinkling of the seasoned salt.)

a gallon-sized Ziploc bag

Preheat oven to 450

On a cutting board, slice the baking potatoes the long way, and slice them again, then again into pieces as shown above. I usually get at least eight good sized fries from one regular baking potato.

Place the potato slices into a Ziploc bag, then add enough olive oil to coat lightly but don't drown them. Work the potatoes around in the closed bag until they've all had a light coating of the olive oil. It will depend on how many potatoes you use, just hazard a guess on the olive oil.

Once the potatoes have been coated, put them in a hot oven (450) on a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with PAM and put them in the center top of the oven.

Bake for as long as necessary (anywhere from 15-30 minutes or so) to get the desired crispness; the first time you do these, you'll need to be keeping an eye on them .

You can flip each one individually half way through baking if you want them all done evenly on both sides. Or not. I usually let mine go longer because my guys prefer them to be dark or well done and very crisp.

Once they are done, shut oven down and remove the fries, season them lightly while still hot on the cookie sheet.

Remove the fries to a platter that has been lined with paper towel.

Break out the ketchup and serve!

This is a healthy side dish and not too heavy on the calories!


Garden note:
We are JUST NOW running out of the potatoes we grew in our own gardens last summer! We are going to plant potatoes every year from now on and add even more rows this spring. We may be able to get two harvests of potatoes if we can stagger the plantings, we're excited to see how it works out. We loved having our own home-grown potatoes all winter!

This is one of a batch we had of super-duper sized potatoes...It's pictured next to the big sized soup can and WOW!

This is our potato harvest when they were fresh out of the ground and ready to wait a week to wash. Potatoes prefer to grow in cool weather and last summer was very cool so that might explain why we had such a good harvest.

Do you grow your own potatoes?

They're actually a lot of fun to grow, except for the part that requires one to mound dirt up around the plant. GOOD GRIEF! We ran out of dirt! The more dirt, though, the better the potatoes turn out, as the dirt denies the sunlight a chance to turn the skin of the potatoes a green color which is a mildly toxic substance called solanine.

If you plan to grow a garden this year and are looking for a good all-around gardening book this one is it:
Go to this link to see a copy and read the reviews:


It's arranged A-Z. Want to know how to grow your own potatoes?
Go to P for potatoes. Simple! Is your lawn giving you fits? L for lawn!

This book is chock full of easy to read information and just enough illustrations and diagrams to not be dry and boring. I find it to be a great gift for a gardener, first time or not! I am constantly referring to this book.

I buy mine that I give to my friends used off AMAZON.COM and usually get it for under $2 plus shipping. Right now there's a copy for 39 cents plus shipping! Amazing!

I've given many away because interest in gardening is way up and no wonder! Saving money on food is a smart move, and if you've got the room for growing your own food, it's a relaxing and rewarding way to feed your family! Growing and preserving food for your family is a double blessing.

I have a copy sitting on my table right now that I ordered for my friend Shelley, who is going to plant a basic kitchen vegetable garden this spring. I can't wait to give it to her as I find great pleasure in helping others learn to do what our parents and their parents did: make your ground work for you and earn its keep!

And, here are some more gardening/canning/preserving photos for you to enjoy, I know I had fun finding them in my photo files, it makes me anxious for spring!

Dreaming of spring and of gardening!