Coffee Chat: Peepers and Blooms
Hello, hello...Come in! I'd meant to make cookies but bananas ripened and so I decided that called for Banana Pound cake. I love to make this in 2 loaf pans and freeze one for future use. The tube pan is big and hefty and must cook far longer than the 2 loaf pan. It took 76 minutes to bake these this week, a bit longer than usual perhaps due to the humidity. There's coffee which will be most appreciated now we're back cool again. It was so pleasant the first part of this week that we had the windows open. It was so nice to sit here in the evening hours and listen to the peepers outdoors that we turned off the TV and let them serenade us. How peaceful it was!
I noted on our way to church Sunday morning that at last our maples are starting to bloom here. This is a full month later than the maples we saw in the coastal area at the first of February which were fully in bloom. As well, the river willows have a healthy yellow tint to their uppermost stems...Soon they will be covered in a soft tender green. Like the red of the peach trees branches, the yellowing of the stems indicates sap rising. I found several early bloomers in wild plums, wild pear and Japanese magnolia on the way back home that day. But just to show us who is boss and who is not, it has turned off cool once more.
I felt so full of energy on Sunday and happily contemplated my ambitious list of projects and jobs for March. I reined myself in on Sunday and convinced myself that the weekly kitchen cleaning was really quite enough for that day. I'd already made both breakfast and dinner and we'd gone to church, so the day was really nearly gone. Of course, I woke Monday morning feeling quite ill with acing ears, sore throat and stuffy head. I am not sick again, but the after effects of the cold or allergies are playing havoc with me at the moment. I managed to push through by mid morning and after setting dinner in the oven to cook, I tackled my room and got that big dresser of mine sorted out. It pleased me no end to see that chaotic mess neatly organized once more.
I didn't cull very much at that time as I hate to cull clean clothes. I tossed only one shirt and that one only because it had a huge stain that was too prominent to ignore. I'll wear the rest of the shirts in the order they are placed and if they are badly stained, I'll toss them after I wear them a day or two. If they are nice enough to keep for further wearing I'll place them in a different area of the drawer after they are freshly laundered.
I also sorted out several files of things and got them better organized. By dinner time I'd accomplished quite a lot and since dinner tended to itself for the most part, it was accomplished with minimal interruptions.
After dinner I cleaned the fridge. I'd opened a bottle of sparkling Moscato last week and had a glass. John had re corked it for me but the bottle leaked and boy was that a sticky mess which hit every single shelf and the bottom of the fridge, too. It took a good 40 minutes to clean that fridge up. I am glad it was not full. I always find the best time to clean the fridge is just before grocery shopping don't you?
I had my head just full of things as I worked Monday. I am longing to refresh my kitchen. I want to replace the rugs and curtains and incorporate more red and turquoise into the room. I'd painted one shelf to use somewhere (not sure where just yet) but decided last Friday that the one with the chickens and red tray should be painted as well... It's not a bright turquoise but a sort of smoky grayed turquoise color that I find very easy on the eye and is the exact color of the blue in the center of the flower on the canister set, which really was the inspiration.
I've some lovely vintage ads from a 1923 magazine that was falling to pieces that I salvaged and plan to frame. And if we can remove that galley rail on the wall above the stove hood I should be able to fit pretty plates I've found. I plan to install a small piece of wood to keep plates from slipping. I am looking forward to changing things up. Of course my budget for this is small, just about $100.
I got a major bit of shopping done on Tuesday of this week. I found some rugs for the kitchen which I am considering hard and after looking for months at fabrics and curtains I succumbed to my old favorite place to find curtain material: the sheet aisle at Walmart. I found a lovely pattern with the perfect colors. Want to see?
The cream rocker in the kitchen sitting area adorned with rugs I'm considering and...
close up of the 'material' for the new curtains aka a full sized sheet from Walmart.
I saw a photo on Facebook the other day which reminded me strongly of Grandmama C's kitchen. The photo showed an older grandmother with two little girls. The woman was seated at a kitchen table with the enameled cast iron sink. There was visible nowhere a dish drainer, or cloth or bottle of soap. The counter seen in the photograph was remarkably empty as well. The kitchen had simple curtains at the window with a matching cloth on the table. I could almost smell the aroma of diluted bleach that permeated Grandmama's kitchen. She really was a stickler for keeping her kitchen sanitary and clean. She put away her rinsed and dried dish drainer as soon as she'd wiped the dishes dry and put them away, and the soap was stowed neatly away under the sink. The damp cloth was hung on a little aluminum rack attached to the inside of the door. Now Grandmama did have a canister set on the counter top and a cookie jar but the rest of her items were put neatly away. Of course at that time there were no microwave or coffeemaker to clutter things up anyway.
I looked about my kitchen afterwards and loathed the amount of stuff on the counters. I thought and thought about what I could do and after a bit I jumped up and went to work. First I took the big old crock full of kitchen tools and moved the empty crock back to the living room. I emptied the boxes of baggies out of the island drawer and dumped in all those tools, willy nilly-ish. I can organize and cull them later but for now that is one less item on my counter top. I had a metal holder silverware caddy that was red and cute but big and took up a bit of space, so I dumped out the silverware and put that in a smaller tin after removing lots of pieces and putting them in the side board silver drawer.
Then because I had nowhere to put the baggies, I emptied two of the kitchen drawers and tossed a small grocery bag of junk, just pure junk. Why do I save the most useless odds and ends?! I put the baggies in the top drawer and after sorting dish cloths and towels I had a neat drawer of those items and a bag full of things to do something with. Too good to toss, not quite sure if they could be donated.
I've worked in this kitchen for 18 years now and it's taken time to figure out what works and what doesn't and how to refine it all so that it works best. I think removing the canisters and the mixer to the little counter next to the fridge and designating that as a baking center was one of my brainier ideas. It was good thinking and has been convenient as can be. I noticed that afresh when I was making the pound cakes. I had room enough to work, the refrigerator was next to me, the island handy to hold the floured and greased cake pans and just steps away is the sink. Every item needed was right there.
Oh how I'd love to redo the kitchen. Not in a huge way but it would be costly all the same. I'd enlarge that kitchen window a bit and ever so slightly increase the sink area. I'd love to have deep drawers to hold pots and pans and to switch the stove over just 1 foot and catty corner it into that deep dead space I can't use at all. I'd put in a wall of cabinets for a pantry space and build in a desk and bookshelf for cookbooks.
But I cannot redo the kitchen and needs demand we replace flooring and windows and underpinnings first, and John has already agreed to have the work on the front porch begin in that someday time when my brother has time to get around to us. That too is necessary work as the steps are breaking down rapidly and this will be the second time in our years here we've had the to deal with them.
I decided that my bed and bath were my project areas this month...so why am I doing the kitchen? Because inspiration struck hard! I get excited when that happens and things start to fall into place. I have worked on the bedroom and bath. In fact, I've only two more cabinets to clean in the bath and one of those is debatable since it's mostly John's house tool stuff and John makes a huge mess of things in that cabinet. And I've told you what I did in the bedroom with my dresser. Next I plan to work on the closet. It's not bad, but it does need refining. When we had to clear the closet for the hot water heater outage a couple of months ago I just put things back and didn't bother to organize.
Last week I went with John to Best Buy. I had to have a new mouse for my computer and of course we walked around. I indulged myself big time. I bought all five seasons of Downton Abby. I realized the previous weekend as I watched the program how very much I enjoy it. It's not story line but the glimpses into bygone eras, the costumes (oh my word the costumes!), the scenery etc., the social and moral actions, the manners and decorum...isn't decorum a lovely old word? Too bad we see so little of that today! I had some birthday money with me and I bought the discs.
One thing I do know: Masterpiece Theater productions are so beautifully done. I will watch them over and over and over again. I have several productions on VHS tapes that I can no longer watch, I rent the Dvds from Netflix repeatedly. I felt no shame when I bought the Downton Abby Dvds even when John questioned my reasoning behind such an extravagant purchase. He'd never have questioned if it was perfume or books or something for the house but he knew I seldom purchase anything that pricey for my own entertainment. I expect what made him bite his tongue hardest though was that it was my birthday money being spent. House rules are that we shouldn't question allowance and gift monies we spend. Those can be spent however and where ever we choose.
I looked out the kitchen window last night as I was cleaning the kitchen sink and there was the moon gliding slowly upwards. I haven't seen the moon rise in the longest bit of time and it was so pretty as it slipped in and out of the clouds. I smiled to myself as I watched. I went about the kitchen shutting the blinds and curtains and came to the living room to see the sun setting, with lots of bright turquoise and soft coral and gray puffy clouds to soften the whole from being garish. That was lovely as well and I realized in the space of about 5 minutes I'd seen the sun and the moon. It was a bit like watching the night shift husband go off to work while the day working neighbor came in.
I told you we were back at cooler weather this afternoon but just this morning the AC was running...Yes really. It was about 76 outdoors this morning and humid as could be. It was unpleasant. We caught a bit of heavy rain on our way back from the grocery, but we'd had only light showers here. Then the cooler wind blew in and it's been lovely. I am so not prepared for the heat and humidity of summer! If my blood were thinner and I were less prone to glistening to the point of dripping, I'd welcome it, I would really. But it makes for one miserable woman. I had a hard time sleeping last night with the warmth, sigh. My consolation is that this too is a season and shall pass and I am not referring to pre-Spring, Spring, Summer nor Fall (all warm weather seasons here) but my personal little season.
The muscari came up overnight. I guess the warmth brought them on. They are so pretty mixed with the yellow daffodils. I think this royal combination of yellow and purple is my favorite. It is one of nature's own choosing for you see it nearly every spring and fall here, in wildflowers along the roadways.
I finished Stillmeadow Seasons in which Mrs. Taber spoke often of her 'Quiet Garden' which was fenced in by a white picket fence and had a blue slate floor and every flower was pink, white or blue. Now doesn't that sound lovely? I've often thought gardens of all white or a set color theme would be pretty...but then I think of not seeing purple iris or orange day lily or red roses or watermelon crepe myrtle and my thoughts dissolve. I suggest to myself that perhaps all colors belong in a garden. But it is restful to the eye and mind to see just a few together and if you haven't a wide open space that all blends into the next the way my own yard does then perhaps themed gardens could be nicely done and enjoyed. For my open space I am limited to the edges of the yard and just about the house. Really I've had loads of flowers at times but currently I have few and that does not make me happy in the least.
It is another of my 'someday' dreams to see this property cleared somewhat once more (in places and not so much in others. I'd love to have fencing along the main road and a gate at the head of the main drive. In my mind it looks like a pristine little farm with flowers and fruit trees and vegetable garden and a barn for animals and a chicken pen and all those lovely things. But my husband looks at me with dead eyes and yawns and asks "Really?" Gracious that he lives here willingly at all is quite a big deal for he is used to larger metro areas within walking distance of home and felt he'd quite gone to the wild side living in the small town in the next county, lol. It is that all that lovely life takes a lot of hard work and money and dedication. And while I have the dream, I am sadly short on the requirements. I find it difficult enough to rustle up anyone willing to feed Maddie for a day or two should we desire to go anywhere and frankly you just don't really up and leave a homestead for more than a day. Of course, there is always the possibility that necessity will drive us to have that homestead!
I scan headlines now and then and a Yahoo!News line read "Your Grandparents Paid More for Groceries Than You" and I laughed out loud. I suppose if your grandparents lived in the city they did indeed but my family survived on what they raised, foraged or bartered for. Corn and wheat were raised and ground for personal use, vegetables and fruits were cultivated. Beef and chicken and eggs and pigs were raised and eaten fresh or canned or cured. Milking and butter and cream and buttermilk were part of the daily routine. Cane was grown for the syrup made each fall. Granny tells me they purchased bananas once a year at Christmas as well as raisins. Oranges were bought for the children's stockings. Can you imagine what a treat those things were when they were limited to once a year?
I think it's that idea of 'special' that drives me to eat as seasonally as possible and to keep some things for special once a year treats. It is lovely to reach into my deep freeze and pull out peaches or strawberries to use to make a special something out of season but they hardly taste the same as fresh in season items. I think everyone should eat fresh in season just to know the difference in that and canned and frozen items. Not that the canned or frozen is inferior but different in texture and taste. There's a great deal to be said for running your thumb down the seam of a pea pod and popping those sugar sweet green gems into your mouth. Unbelievable. Or a warm ripe tomato bitten into like an apple.
I just chuckled remembering a day when we children were here with Granny. She truly believed in keeping up occupied and this particular day we were in the garden picking butter beans or something. We whined and complained and fussed as we worked and finally I remember someone saying "But Granny....I'm HUNGRY!" And she didn't even stop work then. "Well for heaven's sake, you're in the garden and it's just FULL of things to eat!" We all stopped and looked at one another. I don't think it ever occurred to us that we might EAT what was right before us. No, indeed we were too used to seeing it cooked or sliced or preserved in some way. We attacked a tomato plant like a horde of hungry pests and ate a tomato each and then we shared a couple of bell peppers between us and no one complained of being hungry until it was time to stop and prepare lunch.
Gardening...It does come up as a subject this time of year doesn't it? I saw a man the other day at the local store when I bought the rosemary plants. He and his wife and child were getting onion sets, cabbage and tomato starts. "We'll just go slow, " the husband said to his wife. "We can plant a few things now to come in behind these but this will get us started. I've waited late to get ready." I've been slack myself. I've not purchased the containers I'd promised myself I'd rout out and I've not bought seeds and I've not started a thing for the coming season. I don't need much really for us. I'd love a small garden but the deer would eat it right down. I still mean to use that kennel but need to really get busy building those raised beds.
Oh the many many things I want to do! Quilting and gardening, sewing and painting, writing and jelly making, genealogy and canning, furniture refinishing and landscaping. I feel like that commercial where the mom needs multiples of herself to tend to all her tasks during the ady. Would ten of me get it all done, do you think?
Well dears, I should end here. Time has moved on and the afternoon is nearly gone. I'd meant to get so much done this afternoon but here we are, chatting away and I wouldn't trade this for a clean closet or weeded flower bed. Talk to you again soon!