Sunday, May 22, 2016

In My Home This Week: New Beginnings

In my home this week:

The little bird that nested on the back porch last year is back.  John mentioned we had a bird nest on the cupboard shelf next to an extension cord.  I noted the nest but didn't think too much of it until this week when I was working outdoors potting plants and I realized I was keeping Mama bird from her business.  I hurriedly cleared up my mess and came indoors.  She flew in and out while I worked about the porch Friday morning and even this morning as I rocked on the porch before the family woke, she went about her business feeding her family.  It made me mindful that I needed a breakfast plan.

The family came in last night in the wee hours of the morning.  This morning we attempted to talk but there's so much going on at once there's little time to get a full sentence out of our mouths.  Nevertheless, I did gather that we're probably looking at about 6-8 weeks.  It will be roughly a month before either of the house sells will close.  There will be some minor work done on the new home.

Today I realized that this 'visit' will be a stretching of myself in many ways:  managing our budget, our time, our energy...most especially my own time and energy.  Score one on my side.  I realize during the last weekend the family was here together that my morning time prayer and study would be a pleasant memory only unless I moved from the kitchen area into a more private space.  When I discovered yesterday evening that the family was coming in two days early, I quickly set things to rights before sundown.  My last act was to move my Bible, prayer journal and devotional into our bedroom.  I didn't leave my room this morning until I'd had that quiet time and it set my day off on the right foot. 

A restful, not really.  I didn't have a meal planned ahead and I didn't anticipate how much destruction even a very well behaved almost 2 year old boy can create.  I had a dishwasher full of dirty dishes I really ought to have done yesterday afternoon.  There's a huge basket of laundry already and this day only just barely done.  I've been spoiled with it mostly being the two of us, so yes, I'll be making adjustments all along. 

As will the family.  Daddy must go away to work in Savannah and Mama is sleeping on a blow up mattress on the floor.  Boy is in a pack and play and in a strange room.  Most of their belongings are packed away and in storage.  This will not be easy for them.  Little comforts will be lacking and days will be demanding all of us to buck up and do our best. And we will.

...I plan meals:

Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey Breast, Italian Roasted Vegetables, Peach Cobbler

Fried Chicken (takeout), Salad, Rolls, Peach Cobbler
This was John's desire...and I'm smart enough to realize that right now I need to take whatever help is offered.  We'll watch the budget but the budget  will bear the strain of a few conveniences here and there.

Sweet Chili Pineapple Chicken with Rice
I'll make this dish while Sam is gone since he dislikes pineapple.  It's full of vegetables so we can skip a side dish. 

Left over Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Mac and Cheese

Easy Italian Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Wedge Salads

Beef Enchiladas, Yellow Rice, Green Salad with Pico de Gallo

Grilled Steak, Grilled Corn, Tossed Salad, Rolls

...I plan my work:
As we attempt to settle in and find our way about one another, I'm settling for keeping up this week.  No big projects planned. 

It is a Harvest week, so groceries and bills and errands.

Blog posts as able.

...I plan my leisure

Quiet time in my room each morning is what I aim for and perhaps reading in my room each evening.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My Frugal Week: A Challenge to Save

My Granny's old wash pot is a valued treasure Mama recently gave to me.  I didn't plant the fern in it since I don't want to rust out the wash pot, but I did put the fern in on a drip pan.  I think it's rather neat to use it on the back porch.  And yes, I did say 'wash' pot.  This pot was placed over a wood fire and water heated in it.  Then the clothes were put into the hot water and stirred about with a paddle of sorts.  "Boiled clothes", as an older woman once told me, "always smell the freshest."  It also served a second purpose in my childhood when Granny used this one and a mate to water cows each day.  I suspect she'd be mighty surprised to see it sitting on my back porch now and called a 'treasure'.

Saturday:  I made several meals from my menu plan last week but also skipped a few.  Today I had chicken breasts in the fridge along with a variety of vegetables.  I decided to make an easy Peanut Chicken Stir fry for lunch.  Most of the vegetables were already prepped and I had only to cut up the chicken.  It was pretty yummy served over brown rice I'd made ahead and put in the freezer.

Shut curtains on the sunny sides of the house and opened them on the shadier sides to offset the heat of the sun.  The blinds and black out curtains really do make a huge difference (as did the service we had on the AC on Thursday).

Went through the accumulation of magazines Mama had given me or which came through the mail this month.  I set aside a few to give to Katie, set aside a few more issues to mail off to Amie.

Sunday:  Stripped the bed this morning, washed sheets with clothes this afternoon.  John hung some things out to dry on the line but opted to dry sheets in the dryer.  It took about 20 minutes to get them dry.

My anniversary is in a couple of weeks.   John had asked what I'd like to have and I wanted a cobalt glazed terracotta bird bath, which happened to be on sale for half price this week.  We picked it up today while we were out.

When I went into  the store to pay for the bird bath, I bought a Sunday paper, a snack and sodas for us both.  He paid for the bird bath.  I paid for the other items out of my pocket money.

We came home to eat dinner: tuna pasta salad with saltines. 

I made coffee.  I always turn off the coffeemaker immediately after we pour our two cups of afternoon coffee.  Later, John will have a cup of coffee after supper.  We reheat it in the microwave.  No waste of coffee, no need to make more.

Made John's lunch sandwiches, packed the shelf stable stuff directly into the bag.  I chilled a soda and will pack with ice packs in his lunch tomorrow to help keep his lunch cold for the morning hours.

We finished the chicken salad and pimento cheese for our supper sandwiches tonight.

We filled the bird bath with water from stored jugs and placed rocks in the bottom of it to give the birds and butterflies a spot to sit.  I refill these water jugs routinely, so the water is fresh.  It's good to know in a power outage I always have some fresh water on hand. Watering plants with this water is a good use for what might otherwise go right down the drain. 

Monday:  Packed John's work lunch.  I made us breakfast.

Washed a full load of clothes.  This was a mixed lot of new sheet set, towels, underthings.  I hung on the line to dry.

I weeded and mulched the area at the back porch this morning.  I wisely left Maddie's main lying down spot as a dirt spot and just mulched from there on.  I used the last of my weed mat this morning on that area and will have to buy more before I tackle the next area.

Fed the animals while I hung out the clothes.

Took off trash when I headed into town to Mama's for our day out.

I went into the grocery.  I bought dog food and paper towel both of which were on the same aisle. I  walked in the exit door which led me directly to that aisle and right back out again.  No looking to the left or right...heaven knows how much money I saved us just doing that!

Went to Lowe's since it is across the street from the shopping center where we ate lunch and went into grocery.  I bought soil and plants.  I picked up several plants from the reduced price shelf.  Some looked sad but what appeared to be wrong with them was that the flowers were faded or they looked thirsty.  Deadheading and a good soaking with water will set them right once again.  I got two sweet potato vines,  two 4-packs of marigolds and something else I can't recall  at the moment.  They were all $1 each which was an excellent price for them.  I also bought some other plants, all good perennials and annuals like Coleus, Vinca, Begonia, Portulaca, Salvia, Celosia.  I think these will all do well in my back porch flower area.

Came home and made myself a pot of coffee.  Yes, I said pot. I only wanted the one cup but called Sam to see if he was coming in tonight so I'd know whether or not to make a full pot and then proceeded to make it while he told me he wasn't.  He suggested I pour up, put in fridge and save for him to drink as iced coffee.  I'll do that, too.

Earned $20 from Pinecone research.

I thought supper tonight would be a challenge but I had leftover stir fry vegetables and discovered I'd taken turkey out to thaw before the weekend.  (I remembered as soon as I saw it but it was forgotten until that moment.)  I combined some of the turkey with the vegetables, a little broth, a little soy and had a vegetable rich dish for supper.  It was rather tasty.

Tuesday:  Stage 3 complete on the back porch flower bed.  I potted up flowers for three baskets.  I've determined that the bed needs a little something more and will work on that before presenting the final product to you but it's coming together very nicely.  The wire baskets came from the shed.  I'd actually forgotten them but they were perfect to line with old burlap and fill for the chairs.  Oh the joys of 'shopping at home'! 

I used up the turkey in the fridge and made a creamed turkey over toast for our meal today with salad and steamed broccoli. 

Our vitamin order arrived as did our new dining area rug.  Any guess which I opened first?  I plan to purchase new pictures for the dining area (they are already chosen and will be ordered tomorrow) and new table linens, too, but those will wait a bit.  I've been just longing for blue/green in the area but the rug introduces other colors that I look forward to bringing into that space.  The rug we purchased was a clearance item from Overstock.  It was paid for with money I'd set aside earlier this month.

I've been flying by the seat of my pants and on a whim where breakfasts and suppers are concerned but this is about to change.  When I finally sit down this week to plan meals for next week I'm planning breakfasts as well as suppers.

I spent a quiet afternoon doing nothing much.  I've managed to clear out my magazine basket and read a few vintage magazines.  No excuse except the weather is rainy and somehow its not conducive to doing work.  I did promise myself to rest through out the week and I guess today was that time.

Wednesday:  John had a doctor's appointment to follow up on some long ago lab results.  It's taken this long to mesh his schedule and the doc's.  He was given a few inexpensive supplements to add into his routine and a prescription addition that was free at Publix.  I must say this one perk of using the pharmacy at Publix is the free options they offer on the least expensive and most commonly prescribed medications.

We picked up lunch and a few bits of fruit and some clearance priced items (olive oil...I don't know why it's ever clearance, honestly! but it was).  John gave me some cash to offset the cost of the extras today which I appreciated and so did my budget.

We ate only half our lunch.  The rest will do for tomorrow's supper or lunch either one.

We bought a gift card for a young man who is graduating.  The cost of that was covered by our gift fund...which will be stretched beyond the limits next month when we have 9 birthdays and an anniverasry in a 4 week period, sigh. 

I made spaghetti sauce this evening.  I've been  craving spaghetti for weeks now and so I gave in to my cravings.  I have a pint of sauce left over.  I told John as I stood there chopping myriad vegetables for the sauce, I realized that this was one of our survival recipes in our poor days.  1/4 pound of ground beef or 1/2 a pound at most, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers were all less expensive than meat years ago (and still are) and so that's how we made spaghetti sauce and served it over loads of spaghetti.  We almost always got two meals off our spaghetti back then and we still do despite my cutting way back on how much I make.  I just can't even imagine spaghetti without all those extras tossed in! 

And I remembered as I was working, that we had only a refrigerator freezer for the first year of our lives together.  I routinely bought enough groceries to last us two weeks and it all had to fit in the fridge and fridge freezer.  Of course, we had little money so it wasn't nearly the challenge you'd might think, lol.  But it's good to be reminded, as I struggle with a decision about keeping two freezers running, that in the past a family of 7 managed well enough with just a refrigerator freezer and that helped finalize my decision to let the little freezer go.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Saved leftover water  in bottles, water used to steam broccoli, and even a few dregs of coffee from the coffee pot.  I used to water plants.

Ordered new pictures for the dining area.  I'd found some I liked some months ago and I've held on to the catalog for months and months now.  I checked to see if they were still available and they were.  I have cash on hand to cover the cost.

We picked up what supplements we could at the pharmacy.  We had to order two of them when we got home.  I used my shop and earn at Swagbucks to earn a little extra cash back.

I used my brainstorm list to jot down a few ideas I'd had for yard d├ęcor/planting.  It's easy to forget inspired ideas.  If they don't pan out it's okay but at least I've a cue to memory so I can try them out.

Thursday:  John's diet will change a bit over the next few weeks, since he's to eat a higher protein, lower Carbohydrate sort of diet.  That's not a problem.  It's essentially what we did for years with Atkins and I'm accustomed to counting carbs with my own diabetic meals.   I also know well how to incorporate higher protein in the diet without making it solely meat based.   Our doctor is the frugal sort as well. "Use up what you have at home and then slowly incorporate the new things into the meal plan," he says.  Ditto for supplements.  "Use what you have on hand, then purchase the newer ones you'll need."  Can do, doc, can do.

Took plain old soap and water out to the front porch and washed down the railings.  It looked 100% better and doing that periodically will keep algae and dirt at bay.  It never takes a long while to clean them either.

Did you know that thunder and lightning provide nutrients and minerals to the soil?  I was happy to hear the thunder this morning, even though it means dear Maddie must spend time hiding out in her dog house.   My baskets planted on Tuesday morning already look terrific just with the fresh soil, rain and thunder we've had.  They will be looking lush in no time.

I made a big breakfast, larger than usual for a routine morning, because I had potatoes and onions in the fridge that I'd meant to make into a side dish I never got around to making.  I added some bell pepper and leftover hot dogs and slipped eggs into nests of potatoes to steam while the potatoes cooked.  It was yummy but it means light lunch for us today (hello, leftover sandwich!).

I had a very nearly empty (too little to use for it's main purpose) dishwasher detergent bottle.  I added some water and sort of swirled it about and then poured into my hot water to mop floors.  I love this solution for making my dirty floors appear white once more, plus the detergent cuts grease about the stove floor area as well.

Printed off two 8x10 seed packet lithographs for the living room walls.  I need to find frames in my stash now.

Pieced together a late lunch after mopping kitchen. 

Finished off the floors after lunch and then tossed the mop head into the washer with other bits of laundry I keep finding.  John was going to wash a very small load earlier this morning and I discouraged it because I knew I could come up with more items between now and tomorrow.  I'll do a load then. I'm going to go see if Sam has any pieces in his room that need to be washed, too.

Partially packed John's lunch with the shelf stable items.  I'll make his sandwiches this evening.

Friday:    Packed John's lunch and made him breakfast before sending him off to work.

I went out this morning to work in the corner flower bed.  My dream is to plant it with day lily of an ever blooming sort but no money to be had for plants this week.  The savings was in the amount of work required.  We've had just enough rain this week to moisten the ground and soften the dirt, so I could easily weed the area, and shift about the dirt Maddie had moved in digging herself out holes to lie in.  The bed weeded and leveled off a bit made spreading mulch easy peasy.  And then I used some edging I've had forever (since we moved here) to border the bed.  It's not rock or brick but it's right back to that "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can" quote that is my motto this year.  It was what I had.  Because the ground was soft I was able to use a shovel to make a crevasse in the ground about the edge of the bed and then use the rigid edging pieces and a hammer to sink in nice and deep.    Now I shall stop for a bit as I really do need to purchase more landscape weed mat before working on any other areas. 

Tried several of the inspiration ideas in the flower bed in front of the back porch and none were very satisfactory.  I ended up toting it all back to the shed and determining that what I'd like to do is plant petunias in two of the galvanized tin pails I have.

While I was in the shed, I plundered until I found my wreath from last summer for the back porch.  Not sure yet what I'll do for the front door.

Dug out some frames to use here in the house for the living room wall. 

Washed a small load of clothes and dried in the dryer since it was raining outdoors this morning.

Made a pot of soup for my dinner.  I had a small container of leftovers marked "Beef Soup" and that's what I used as my base, along with some frozen leftover tinned tomatoes, a potato, carrot, a bit of celery and onion and the Broth paste base that I bought at Aldi.  It sure hit the spot on this cooler, damp day!

Mixed up a little cornbread for my dinner.  I thought I'd make cornmeal pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast but know from past experience if I mix the batter now they'll be very flat tomorrow.  Instead I mixed my egg and milk and added just a little to the cornmeal for my bread.  Then I put the rest of the egg/milk mixture in the fridge.  In the morning, I'll mix with my cornmeal and my pancakes will rise high and fluffy.

While there's no one in the guest room, I took advantage of the guests being gone and vacuumed the room really well.  It's a bit of a tumble that room but not of my doing.  I'm not complaining either just very aware that as a long term guest room it's a bit crowded and it makes me mindful that it's a long way yet from being a truly comfortable room.  I think as my indoors project that room will have to be a focus area once our guests have parted.

I love that broken pot on the patio that I've planted but water runs right out of it very quickly.  I determined what I needed to do was put a broken bit of pottery there to help hold in the water/soil somewhat.  I had an old berry bowl in the shed that served perfectly.

I was frustrated with weather, which wouldn't allow me to paint.  And that new dining room rug just pointed up how much those old chairs needed refurbishing.  However, the original green vinyl type upholstery fabric I'd cut out to use on the chair seats just did not appeal to me.  That's what held me up for the past several couple of months even though I'd purchased a staple gun just for upholstery use.  I recalled suddenly that some years ago my oldest son's wife had given me some upholstery fabric that was gray-ish and so I went to dig in my fabric stash and found it.  Sure enough it made a lovely match to the rug, not an  exact match but close enough.  I had enough to do all four chair seats.  Even though three of them desperately need to be sanded and painted they look nice.  And I feel rather pleased with myself for pulling that long ago memory of a gift of upholstery fabric from my mind and then finding it.

I've worked hard this week.  When I look at all that's been accomplished, a little here and a lot there, and realize how very little money was spent overall, I realize that the one thing I needed the very most of was time.  I have enough of that to spare some for projects, especially those that give me a sense of accomplishment, a long lasting pleasure and a sense of pride in my home.  Everything doesn't always turn out just as I plan it but I often have a second wind of inspiration to carry me through to a conclusion that works very well and gives me the much wanted 'new' even if I am using what I have. 

What did you do this week that made a savings and made you feel proud of your work?

Tried and True: Recipes to Share III


Kathy:  Definitely going to have to try that lava cake recipe!
I have been making this roast sticky chicken for close to 20 years, I think. I originally got the recipe from a frugal living board on ivillage from Tawra Kellam who has the Living on a Dime website now.
I no longer roast it for 4 hours, since that is a Long time to leave your oven on, plus expensive electricity use. I roast for 20 min/pound and we still like it.

Dawn:  I also love that lava cake recipe. It is so easy but very good. I shared a recipe for spinach dip that was a hit at a bridal shower this past weekend: 

Lana:  This chocolate pound cake is so, so good and it turned out perfectly which is not always the case with pound cake recipes. I baked it in a tube pan and it almost overflowed so next time I will put it in two loaf pans.

These muffins are almost always in my freezer for my husband's lunches. A few more chocolate chips go in ours and I use 4 bananas for moist muffins.

Karla:  I made my menu today so I guess I'll share a tried and true family recipe. My husband's mom used to make this when my husband and his siblings were kids. It's super easy and really yummy. Easy to prep ingredients ahead of time.

Neese Family "Mexican" Salad

1 lb ground beef
Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to your preferred amount
1 medium-large head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 medium-large tomato, diced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz shredded cheese (we use cheddar)
4 oz nacho cheese Doritos, broken up plus more for top
Dressing - 1/2 cup French Dressing mixed with 1/2 cup Thousand Island Dressing

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, drain off excess grease/liquid. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

In a large serving bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, kidney beans and ground beef. When ready to serve, add the Doritos and dressing and toss to coat. Keep more Doritos for the top if you'd like. This does NOT keep well for leftovers.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Loving My Home: The Great Outdoors

One of the chairs where I set a planted basket

Mama went to the dentist today.  I stayed in the car while she went in but I have to say it was no hardship at all to wait.  Her dentist has created a little haven of tranquility.  His office is built to look like a colonial home which he's landscaped all about with flowers and trees.  In the 'back yard' of the house there are bird feeders and bird baths and flowers.  Bird songs resonated about me the whole time, sitting there in the spring sunshine with a cool breeze blowing through the windows.  It was so peaceful and lovely I had to wonder how much more calm his patients must be than the average dental patient.  Just walking from the car into the office was enough of an experience to soothe you. 

I watched the dentist as he filled the bird feeder, dead headed a few flowers, filled the bird bath, watered a basket.  I couldn't help but think how restorative that must be for him each day to slip outdoors and tend to things.  And what a calm demeanor he must bring in to his patients!

When Mama came back to the car I told her how much I'd enjoyed waiting on her.  She told me, "When they are working on your teeth, they have you facing the window so you can watch the birds at the feeders and see the flowers."  My goodness!  I can't even imagine how that must distract from what's going on otherwise.  Can you tell I'm a little nervous when it comes to dentists? 

I also couldn't help but think, as I sat there waiting upon her, that this interlude in my day, this quiet spot, wasn't planned but it was most certainly the tranquil point of my day and was very restorative.


I am amazed at how much work I've accomplished in my yard thus far.  My inspiration of course is Granny.  She was widowed a little younger than I and she got through that first year of grief by working in her yard, creating a flowery haven that was filled with scent and almost year round blooms.  She pruned and trimmed and transplanted and created new flower beds where none had existed before.  The result was not only a beautiful yard but a place that brought healing to others as they visited with her.  Except on the very coldest and rainiest days, visitors sat on the porch, overlooking that lovely yard, admiring birds and blooms and rabbits and soaking in the utter peace of the place. 

I am not working through any grief as she was, but I have always wanted a lovely yard.  In the first years we lived here I had the back of a young man who was all too willing to dig flower beds for Mama and I planted them with lovely flowers.  The most beautiful plot of flowers I've had to date was at one end of the patio and it bloomed with gorgeous zinnias, cosmos, touch me nots and more.  It was stunning. 
Touch me nots

There was a big round bed in the center of the yard planted with roadside finds of wild purple verbena surrounded by orange day lily.  It was a beautiful combination but I failed to think of fact that the orange day lily were going to bloom for only about a month, being an old variety and not the newer ever blooming sort.  If I'd had the newer variety it might have satisfied far longer.
Old fashioned and wild Orange Day lily

I had a front porch flower bed of pink four o'clock and Heavenly Blue Morning Glory that were saucer sized flowers.  And I discovered that some plants, no matter how lovely, will take over.

But alas boys grow and move out into their own lives as they ought to do and I was left to my own devices.  For a few years I had nothing much at all.  Then when I realized how much I was missing flowers I had pots.   Potted plants satisfied where flower beds had once done.  Flower beds overflowed and had to be divided and eventually I was too weary to even attempt to find spots for them all.

So why this 'sudden' need to have flowers once more?  I missed them.  I need to be surrounded by lovely things.  I'm not nearly done yet.  I have another flower bed to tend to, one that will require digging up some older plants but I mean to work at it a bit at a time until it's done.  I am thinking of spreading seeds of zinnia and cosmos at one side of the driveway in an area not too grown over by grass at present, since they don't care for rich soil but prefer poorer sorts (and heaven knows that soil is poorer).  I mean to fill pots with flowers and set them about here and there in neatly mulched beds and as I am able (or happen to have strong backed young men about) shall have them dig a hole or two while they visit and plant a few things for permanency. 

I'm going to take a page from Granny's book and create my own haven of loveliness and peace and tranquility.


You know that phrase 'Live and learn'?  Well I've learned!  No more plants growing wild at roadside for me.  I have a green thumb, I do truly, and in my hands these roadside plants thrive beyond reason.  They thrive to the point of plague in my yard and overtake beds and spread and spread.  They are a lot of work as they go out of control and I am still fighting several of my poor choices in roadside finds no matter how much I might like them. 

I'll mention a few of them for those of you not in the know: Spiderwort, Bouncing Bet and old fashioned four o-clocks which began from 1 (O.N.E.) seed Granny gave me from some unknown source and which then spread and spread and grew huge (H.U.G.E.) tubers underground. They do smell lovely and yes, they flowers generally open about 4 in the afternoon which makes them a lovely plant for night scents.  I knew one older woman who planted them in a barrel and so kept them from spreading in her yard in that way.
Four O'Clocks

Morning Glory is a lovely thing in the cultivated sorts but let those go to seed and you'll have an annual supply of tangled vines with quarter sized flowers take over every where they might be dropped.  Know that birds love Morning Glory seeds and then 'drop' them as they go about their business.  I do not recommend gathering seeds from field morning glories.  Or indeed in not being diligent to snip off spent blossoms  on intentionally sown morning glory, so that seeds might not form unless you don't mind them taking over.  That said, one of the loveliest sights I've ever seen was a wire fence which was planted annually with a deep purple morning glory that simple stunned when seen in masse.  Still it's the Heavenly Blue ones that wow me more than any other, although Katie once gathered a lovely old morning glory seed that was white with deep purple stripes.  Alas those would not grow here and I used all the seed up attempting to get them to do so.

There is a lovely feathery vine that grows near rail road tracks with tube shaped red flowers.  The old folks here call it Lipstick Vine but I've yet to find an image of the plant I mean.  It's quite pretty.  And can be as pernicious as any of the rest of the aforementioned wild flowers.  I will say however, that I've seen it twice displayed in a lovely way.  One was in a friend's yard.  She had it growing in a low pot and trained to go up a trellis in a heavily mulched area.    It was gorgeous.    The other situation was on an older home with a carport with open side.  The owner ran strings up and planted lipstick vine at the foot of each string.  They grew up and blocked the street view (she lived on a corner) and made a lovely thing of that carport.  It took my breath each time I saw it.

The wild verbena that grew in the yard was lovely.  It still comes up mid-yard where it was planted originally and now and then I go dig up a few young starts though John does keep that area mowed.  Along roadside it's quite pretty and it blooms all summer long, though it does get leggy compared to the hybrid variety.  Oops.  I think I may be talking myself into starting a bit of it in a flower bed.  Shoo!

wild verbena

Bouncing Bet is pretty with pink blooms and a habit of lying upon the ground which does make them good ground cover.  It also means that they develop roots all along the stem and creep steadily over and out of the area where you've planted them.   I've planted in shade and the vines grow lovely and green but it needs sun to bloom.
Bouncing Bet

 Bouncing Bet and Spiderwort both have a tendency as well to grow wherever even the smallest piece of plant is accidentally dropped or from the tiniest root.  And how they do spread.  I've decided I can best afford these plants in the edges of the woods where they are now growing after being tossed there as I slowly eradicate them from flower beds.  I've also noted that unless John is diligent in mowing there are about a thousand coming up in an 9 foot width from each spot where they've been planted.  Should we ever abandon this place it would first be overtaken by Spiderwort and briars, then by Cedar, Privet and Sweet Gum trees.

Spiderwort's saving grace is that bees adore it.  And I like bees.  It's also a blueish violet trefoil shaped flower and it gives nice height in a flower bed. I think it's a doggone shame it's called Spiderwort because it really is rather pretty.   That said, you've heard it's faults, so be wary.


All that said, two flowers I covet which grow wild and will do absolutely nothing at all for me:  Black eyed Susan and Queen Anne's lace.  Now and then I'll have a bit of Queen Anne's lace come up in some portion of the yard and I guard it and threaten John to leave it be and place brick about it so it won't be mown down nor poisoned.  And just as it blooms it dies and that's that.  Black eyed Susan does nothing at all, never germinates from seed and fails utterly to set roots if moved as a plant.  I've even bought the hybrids and get the same results.  In this area, my green thumb fails me time and again.


Granny seldom bought a flower or plant.  Most all of hers were pass along plants except for petunias and a few Siberian iris.  Nearly all the rest were lovely old fashioned sorts of plants and as I said she had blooms pretty nearly year round.  She did avoid a few plants herself, namely hyacinths and narcissus neither of which she cared for.  She always called hyacinths 'funeral flowers' and I'm not sure just who in the family died at the time of year those were in bloom but it apparently left a rather lasting impression upon her.  She did cave when she was in her 80's and plant a few bulbs, but those flowers were never ever cut and brought into the house as just about every plant in her yard was.

If I have any regrets it's that I failed to acquire plants from her home when she was living and encouraging me to get them.  I loved walking about the yard with her and hearing that Mrs. Butler gave her this plant or Mrs. English gave her that or Mrs. Wainwright offered her the start of that one and Mrs. Spillers gave her another.  Many plants came from women she'd known through the years and while I did meet Mrs. Butler who was a handsome woman with a fondness beyond reason for bearded iris, the others were older women when Granny was a young woman and so they live on only in the memory of the lovely flowers they offered to Granny to start in her own yard.

I have accepted a few along the way myself, though passalong plants are not as frequently come across as in the old days.  I have day lily from Mama's divisions, as well as an old fashioned lantana that the butterflies flock to each summer.  There's the New Dawn rose from Granny and a lovely old prolific spring blooming deep red rose that is wonderfully perfumed from a departed friend, Nancy, as well as iris from Debbie's great grandmother's yard.  I also have iris from Grandmama and Granny's yards and I can say honestly that these plants bring me great joy when they bloom.

Nancy's lovely and aromatic antique red roses

Grandmama's beautiful yellow Iris

I guess that's enough garden talk for today but you can see I do love my flowers outdoors as well as indoors and I've learned a few things over the years in planting them. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tried and True: Recipes to Share for May


I'm a little late getting around to this, this month but better late than never right?  We've had two great months of offerings of favorite recipes.  You can find them here and here

Rules are the same as usual.  You can post link/links or recipes to the comments.  I'll save and delete from the comments as they come in.  I'll give 1 week to get your recipes linked up and then repost here. 

Here are two recipes I've found this past week.

Did this taste like a chocolate chip cookie?  No, not really but it was good and it was sweet and it was single serve all of which were bonuses in my book.  I'm going to try more of the mug recipes and try using sugar substitutes in them.  This was a good starter recipe for me.

Oregon cottage shared this recipe in 2012.  I've been making it at least that long and it's always a huge treat.

Quick & Easy Lava Cakes - An Oregon Cottage

I've tried other recipes but this is the one I go back to over and over again because it's almost no fail.  The only time I ever had a problem was when I failed to take them out when the timer went off.  Even one minute more is enough to set the middle, so stay in the kitchen and be ready to remove these from the oven the moment the timer goes off!

I look forward to seeing what you'll share this month!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

This Week In My Home: Ch-Ch-Changes

This week in my home....
...I've been busy of late.  John asked me Friday, "Is there someone timing you?  You've been acting as though you have a deadline to meet!"  Well...No.  But I'm so excited about all the creative thoughts flowing through my mind that I am determined to get busy and start making my visions reality.  Fortunately the greater portion of my inspirations are do-able, and affordable.

My big source of inspiration has been that quote I found earlier in the year: Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can. 

Take my work on Friday.  I've purchased paint a little at a time, a can here and a can there for various projects.  There's almost always leftover paint isn't there?  So I'm using up leftovers and have painted the three ladder back chairs I want to use in my back porch flower bed.  I will be painting the old set of steps under the pecan tree too.  I saw a photo in Pottery Barn of a plant stand that was a set of steps...I have a set of steps.   I also happen to have a can of black paint. As it happens that set of steps is clearly seen from my chair in the living room.  I think a vision of pretty pots of flowers will do me good, don't you?

I'm also beginning a long put off project of getting my dining room chairs painted and recovered.  I can't even recall how long we've had them but Katie was still living here when I got them and I've been meaning to paint and recover ever since.  Well this is the time.  I officially have one painted chair and I have covers cut and a brand new staple gun.  And while I was working on the chair there was a vision of my table and buffet all painted.  I am sure repositioning the dining table this past week helped get all of this inspiration going.

Why all this busyness and push?  Because I want and need to see pretty things about me and I realized that I can wait forever and ever, thinking that one day there will be money enough (maybe but who wants to wait to see?) to hire or buy things done but there's something in me that wants to see what I can do where I am with what I've got.   It's part and parcel of making home where I am at the moment instead of waiting for something better to come along.  It's important to live now and not one day some day down the road.  

Weekend Reading


Dee shared this on her Facebook page and being a history buff I thought it was so cool to see historical photos superimposed over modern day photos of the same area.  This was well done and gave a sense of timelessness to the Paris street scenes.  I really enjoyed viewing these photographs.

Years ago I did a full tutorial on Vanilla for Penny Ann Poundwise newsletter readers.  This contains much of the same information.  I'll have to start digging up a few of those old informational things from my old newsletter items to share, but in the meantime why not make reading a learning experience as well, right.  I came across this on Vanilla this past week. 

Being clothes minded I read Bridgette Rae's weekly blog posts.  I liked her post on the well dressed woman.  I'm not yet up to 'investing' in quality pieces but I do believe in 'asking for help' in the form of Pinterest, Polyvore and Rae's outfit posts.

This post on Passover was thought provoking.  It is not written from a Messianic or Jewish view but from a spiritual standpoint.