Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Coffee Chat: Fair Weather or Foul
Hello dears. Come in, come in. I'm afraid I've nothing baked but there are graham crackers and peanut butter and if you're feeling adventurous there's marshmallow cream (real stuff not the vegan recipe I posted, lol). If you're feeling a bit more sophisticated there's Chocolate Hazelnut spread. All are delicious and yummy on a graham. And sort of homey and comfortable, too, which is what I need at the moment.
Because so many of you keep asking, I'll tell you straight away there is no sign of Blossom. She had on a collar with a name tag and phone number on and there've been no calls. I don't believe anyone picked her up. She wasn't prone to going for car rides. With a tag and collar she's not likely to have been mistook for a lost dog. The nearest dog shelters are 30 or more miles away... No, I expect that Blossom went where all good country dogs go eventually and it breaks me to say so but there you are. It's now pushing a week since I last saw her or heard her bark in the fields. I cannot deny the obvious.
Yet, I keep her bed on the front porch awaiting her return and turn on the porch light just in case she's wandering back again. I listen to every barking dog to be sure it isn't her unique beagle bark I hear. My heart leaped in my chest Monday when I came home. As I drove up the driveway I saw something sitting in Blossom's favorite chair. It was Misu, but for just a moment, I thought it was Blossom. They were the exact same size, right down to weight.
I have especially enjoyed Blossom and watching her transform in the time I had her. Each time she started her beagle bugling, John and I chuckled. To watch her these past few weeks as she walked about the yard it was easy to see the place was hers to command. She was lead dog and Maddie looked to her to take charge of chasing rabbits, keeping the deer away and to head up the morning walk to check the newest trails and scents.
Although Bess was told when she got her from rescue that Blossom was two years old, I suspect she was a good deal older than that. And the past few weeks, somehow seemed to point up the fact that she was an older dog, from her demeanor to her morning stiffness. I miss her. The Country Girl in me is philosophical. The woman in me is grieved.
Now let us move on.
We are at the point of the year where we're sometimes winter and sometimes spring and never enough of either to really step solidly into or out of either season. Dawn, who lives a bit south of me has buds starting on her pecan tree. Not yet here in my home, although we've seen some light dusting of pollen. There is no pollen at all in Katie's area just yet, which is as much north of me as Dawn's is south of me.
And then, too, it isn't just warm/cold. We seem to waffle between sun and clouds, rain and sun. Often enough it's all in the same day! It's all very changeable and certainly not dull, but I feel as though I'm not sure of what to wear, etc.
That betwixt and between feeling seems to have colored my whole life at the moment. Even today, the skies are blue but we're due storms and you can feel the oppression that comes with them. Yet to look out the windows it seems I'm wasting time sitting indoors watching the skies.
I have done some cleaning up outdoors. I did some more work on that rose bed and cut back the ones growing right up in the skirting of the house. I am at the point now of digging day lily and moving them to the edges and then putting down weed block and mulch on that bed. This will not be a heavy task. Day lily are not hard to dig nor to plant. Mine are the old fashioned sort that bloom just once a Spring and then are done.
I also cleaned porches somewhat. They could do with a right good wash. I've told John I rue my choice of light slate gray for the porches. The dogs have proven that muddy tracks will show plainly. I have a hard time keeping floors mopped indoors and here the porches need a good mopping as well! It is my plan that this Spring will find the front porch refurbished and finished at last, a far cry from my plans to finish that up by Labor Day weekend last year!. There's a lot of painting I want to do of items meant to gussy it up. There's a project or two to finish up and plants to purchase and I can finally call that one done. The back porch, over autumn and winter, has deteriorated. The cabinet I'd meant to paint the interior of, must be scraped and painted entirely, inside and out. The paint held up really badly to the weather.
As frustrating to me is the amount of mildew that has attached itself to every single white painted railing and rafter. All the work I put into washing those at end of summer has been for naught. It shall have to be done all over again and then repainted with an anti mildew agent added into the paint to make it look nice once more. What's more that flooring paint is coming up. My brother used Valspar paint and it's been my experience with it that it always lifts and flakes horribly. I'll purchase another brand and hope I make my work last a bit longer.
I get overwhelmed looking at all the tasks and jobs needed just to maintain the outdoors of the place and can't even see how I might possibly ever manage any new projects, at least outdoors. It appears to be a more than full time task just to keep it up. John could, honestly, care less about flowers and flower beds and anything other than just utilitarian jobs outdoors. If I say that he's no help, I mean it in the nicest way, but he isn't. It doesn't interest him, he sees it all as a waste of time and wonders at my desire to continually push to keep up, forget adding anything new. He happily mows grass and occasionally cuts a branch that is slapping at him while mowing and otherwise it is all just fine the way it is.
Until I can make headway with what I have already started, I can't possibly start up further projects. I should be more than overwhelmed if faced with any more unfinished projects and I mean that sincerely. I'll just persevere until I can catch up with myself once again.
But oh the dreams I have of great pools of lawn surrounded by deep beds of flowers that bloom from one season right into the next! I have my secret wish list for the day I win Publishers Clearing House or the lottery or any of those other contests I never enter. I know it can be done with work and perseverance because Robin has made a work of art of her yard and in just a few short years, too. I'd have a white garden and a lovely vegetable garden as Brandi has made of hers and garden 'rooms'. It's not an impossibility, any of it. But it certainly is a possibility that would require a load of work and we're right back to my long list of unfinished projects at present.
So aside from garden and porch dreams (how obvious is it I'm longing for the next season?), I've been restless indoors. I am so close to having the house as I want it. I still have to finish up the guest room project, but it looks nice nearly all of the time at present, considerably nicer than it has since I first set it up. I really should FOCUS on what I have and try to do what I might. Like paint that lovely antique bed I bought. I realized the other day I'd moved it to John's music room due to having company here and I've not thought of it even once since then. It really has been an 'out of sight, out of mind' thing. I also have a dresser I might use but it would mean shifting a lot of things and finding a replacement piece. And honestly I do want a vanity pretty badly in that room, as it's an old fashioned sort of space. The other option would be to move my antique washstand into place and use it, which would work...but then I'd have to find a table to use as my nightstand. Another fruit basket turnover situation which I'm trying hard to avoid!
I took down the gallery wall of photos in my bedroom this morning and moved some of the prints to the master bath and some to the living room. I have to remove all the nails and picture hangers in the wall and then start figuring out how to use what I have to refresh and renew and then decorate once more.
I have a short list of wants of mostly inexpensive items needed to improve a room or two (lamp finials and a new clock for the living room, a clock for my sitting area in the kitchen and the larger table top I've wanted forever for the old piano stool to make it a decent side table, an additional rug for the kitchen). I have two areas I'd hoped I'd be able to start as this year's projects indoors but right now I think it might not happen this year at all. It's more of that business of so many unfinished things staring me in the face that I can't quite bring myself to half finish even more. I still am picking up a few inexpensive items to use in those projects as I come across them.
I feel, all in all, as though I'm not with the program somehow. I know that what would help would be to focus on one area and not stop until it's done instead of being a flighty bird flitting here and there. I'm at the point where I just don't want to keep retracing my steps and returning to an area over and over again. I just want it DONE.
It was that which sent me into the Dollar Store yesterday afternoon. I bought a black out curtain for our bathroom in a pretty blue color that suits that room. I'd put up a cream colored curtain when I first worked on that room because it was what I had on hand and frankly it was serviceable but it lacked in making the room look finished. That curtain set me back $10 and no more. I changed out pictures this morning, mainly because I wanted to use the spring birds that I'd hung in that room in the living room (where they are quite pretty by the way). Now the bathroom is refreshed and DONE.
I have a little changing out of some accessories in the living room and that room will be DONE as well. Every little finished area spurs me on to finish the next one and the next. It's exactly the sort of incentive I need at present.
The dining room...There's a work project that has never really been begun. I have fabric to cover the chairs. But I must buy a staple gun or find staples for the ancient one I have on hand. I need to sand down and repaint the chairs but am stuck on what color to use. Current thinking is a gunmetal gray, which means I'll need a different fabric for the seats. The table needs to be refinished...Well you see, there is a project every which way I turn and I think that has helped put me in this funk of sorts. Time to do just as I did yesterday and do the one thing that will finish up a room and try hard not to UN-do a room in the process of freshening another!
Ack enough of that...Cooking has been a blah area for me of late. I finally broke out of that mode and just pulled a recipe from a cookbook randomly. I didn't follow the recipe to the letter. I didn't have all of the ingredients but what I ended up with was a rather tasty dish and one that John liked well enough to go back for seconds of. It made me stop and think of how often of late I've leaned hard on tried and true and bare basics when I might be taking the same ingredients and making something new but still budget friendly. Today's recipe trial was a boost to my creative spirit in the kitchen. It also was a rather nice reminder that good basic foods make good dishes.
Something else that gave my creative urge a kick was the Brunswick stew that Katie made. It was a leftover makeover of a lime based chicken dish she'd made. Let me just say that she went by instincts in making the Stew and it was flavorful and creative. Hers had a smoky note that really added to the flavor and aroma that I especially appreciate. I liked it a great deal and look forward to having more of it. Glad she sent home plenty of that good stuff!
I try and catch an episode of Chopped on Food TV now and then. I watched the 'Wasted' episode from 2013 last night and it was all about using what many people might throw away. This reminded me of a dish I'd found on Pinterest called Miroton which appeared to be similar to what we might call Roast Beef Hash. And I began to think of Jacques Pepin, one of the chefs I watched routinely in my early married years. Pepin appealed because he made many lovely budget dishes from basic foodstuffs. I feel the need to find some of his cookbooks (at the library perhaps) and renew my acquaintance with him and his methods of stretching the budget while serving a beautiful meal.
At Aldi last week, I waffled between buying a new to me orange variety, Cara Cara, or clementines. In the end, the price won out and I bought the oranges. Oh.My. The Cara Cara orange was found in the 1970s growing wild at Cara Cara Hacienda in Venezuela and grafts were brought to the U.S. It is a navel orange, lower acid, sweet and fragrant. The blurb on the variety is that it has notes of strawberry...I didn't notice such but will say that it has a floral sort of background note that is very nice. I like these oranges so very well that I hurried back into the store while passing it on Monday and bought another bag. I hope this becomes a more common variety in the stores when they are in season.
A lot of people discount Aldi. The brands are not common ones, though they do have some well known brands. However, if you think you'll get nothing gourmet there you are mistaken. The Aldi range of foods is well beyond that of a bare basics grocery which I find is a common presumption and quite wrong. I've had some of the finest chocolates it's ever been my privilege to eat, unusual varieties of foods (like the Cara Cara Oranges) and more. True some things are not available every time you might go in and some items we might consider basic are considered seasonal by the store
Every now and then I think I'd like to shop other places, that offer a greater variety but in the end, Aldi wins as far as budget and really fine foods go...Or so I think anyway.
I guess I've about run down with my chatter. Do stop in again, soon. Perhaps next time we'll be taking coffee on the porch or having iced tea? Who knows? It appears that of late, anything goes!