Monday, December 28, 2015

Lessons Learned and Things Remembered

It's been an interesting year. As I reflect on 2015, these thoughts come to mind.

The only person that you can really change is yourself.

Things don't always turn out like you planned, or the way you think they should, but they mostly turn out like they are supposed to.

When you focus on what you want, everything else falls into place.

There's a lot of beauty and joy in ordinary things.

Some fools aren't worth the breath needed to cuss them out.

There are people out there who pretend to be nice, honest and compassionate, but ultimately their words and actions prove otherwise.

Surround yourself with the things you love; discard the rest.

It's ok to say no to unnecessary crazy.

Choosing to be happy is good for your health.

Life is better when you're laughing.


In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived, and
how gracefully you let go
of things not meant for you.
--Buddha


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Enjoy The little Things

Christmas and the end of the year can be stressful.  There's shopping, wrapping, decorating, and cooking to be done.  Scheduling time with friends and family and meeting other obligations usually makes the holidays more hectic.  

Here's a hint that might help ease your stress.  

Just STOP.  

Now think about what you really love most about Christmas.  Is it cookie baking, or decorating your home, or giving your time?  Visiting with friends?  A quiet evening with your love?  Watching movies in your PJ's? 

Do THAT.  

Whatever makes you smile is what should be pushed to the top of your to do list.  Let the other stuff slide, or get it done quickly and out of the way.  Say no thanks to crowded stores, boring events or people that you don't care to be around.  Say yes to laughter, love, and simple pleasures. 

These little things that you love most are the memories you will always cherish.  Do more of them.  
 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Cheer

I don't put up a huge Christmas tree or completely redecorate for the holidays. I do add a few decorations to each room to make the season brighter. 

My newest addition for our bedroom is a quilted wreath wall hanging and cute pillows featuring a patchwork ornament and a Santa hat. I didn't have a pattern, so I used EQ7 to lay out the designs. I love how the fabrics add a bright modern touch to the room. The black and white swirled quilt is the back of one I already made.  

Make your space merry with a few well placed items that will make you smile. It doesn't have to be perfect, just festive.  

Twinkling lights around the back door or a special ornament hanging on a cabinet knob give just the right touch of holiday spirit. 

Tiny lightweight ornaments on my Norfolk Island pine make a perfect little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. 

A snowman plate on my kitchen counter adds a simple touch of holiday cheer, especially with those just baked chocolate chip cookies.  

Enjoy the season and have a wonderful, relaxing December.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Creativity Is Messy


I've been busy in the sewing room as well as the kitchen. And, I started decorating for Christmas, so today I am straightening up my mess. Check back next week for details on my latest creations and a bit of holiday decor.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Home On The Range

I've been baking, roasting, grilling, and simmering on my brand new gas range. We installed it last week and I love it! Just a bit of countertop modification was needed, compliments of my favorite guy. The shiny stainless steel gave my kitchen an instant update, and even better, it was on sale! Only one hiccup so far with fish sticking to the griddle, but I'll chalk that up to operator error. I've used gas before in the RV, but our former stove was an electric relic from the late 70's.

The chess pie I baked first didn't last long enough for a photo, but I made sure to get one of my latest creation: vanilla Bundt cake with eggnog frosting. I substituted eggnog in place of milk, and added a dash of nutmeg. Yum!

Thanksgiving turkey will provide a chance to test out the temperature probe, and of course I'll be baking my signature pecan pie, along with cheesy crisps, pecan cornbread dressing, and chocolate chip cookies. If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen...it's way more fun when you have a new toy.

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful, and relaxing Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Watch Out For Flying Pigs

I have something important to say, something that most of you won't believe. Before I get to it, I will certify that I have not suffered a head injury, nor am I intoxicated, senile or crazy. My husband had me tested.

Well, here goes...I want Jeff Gordon to win the NASCAR Championship this year. Yep, that's right. The 24 car. You might remember that as rabid and passionate Dale Earnhardt fan, I long ago declared Jeffie my mortal enemy. Anyone but 24. I know pigs are flying, and hell is most likely under a freeze warning.

Things have changed, namely NASCAR itself. The nonsense of the Chase, playoffs, or whatever they want to call it has made formerly exciting races just a game. The rule manipulation and circus-like atmosphere of the broadcasts is nearly unwatchable, and way too much like reality TV.

Since Dale Jr. is out, there is no one left in the top eight that I would care to call a champion. Points don't matter, therefore no one really earns the title. So I decided Jeff should take a last big trophy to his retirement party. 



 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thoughts Of Gratitude

As we enter November, with the Christmas frenzy already in full force, I would rather focus first on being thankful. To me, this month is a time of reflection and beauty. The season is changing; the last colorful leaves are falling. Here in Tennessee the temperature can be warm one day and downright chilly the next. I'm grateful that I can enjoy all of that.

My life isn't perfect, but I'm thankful for everything I have.


Monday, October 26, 2015

If The Broom Fits

It's nearly Halloween and I've seen candy and witches everywhere!

Do you remember how excited you were as a child?  Picking a costume, getting ready to go out trick or treating with your friends?  

Let go of all your stress and find that playful state of mind for the rest of the week.  

Watch scary movies, laugh at Young Frankenstein, and by all means treat yourself to something delicious.



Monday, October 19, 2015

Just Because

These doesn't always have to be a purpose or a reason for everything we do. Even those of us who thrive on organization and lists have to admit that sometimes it's just more fun to give in to an impulse.

Some of my best memories are the result of a diversion from my normal routine. A last minute invitation to lunch, an unexpected visit or phone call, or an impulsive decision can produce wonderful experiences. I met my sweet husband on a blind date when I was fifteen...and 46 years later we still call that our luckiest day.

Our lives are lived in a routine of sorts, and that's a good thing. After all, most of us are responsible adults. But no one should get caught up in a tedious rut. We surely don't want to grow old and wonder why we didn't ever play hooky, take that cooking class, learn to play the guitar, or buy those amazing shoes. Or why we didn't make a new friend, give someone flowers, or just sit alone and enjoy nature.

So do something--anything--different today. 
Just Because.


"Life is a gift. Never forget to enjoy and bask in every moment you are in." --Anonymous

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Is It Too Much To Ask?

I've seen a lot of things lately that make me wonder.

Is it really too much to ask that:

someone shows up on time for work?

a person doesn't call in sick once a week? 

a worker brings the correct tools for the job?

a company does what they promise, when they promise?

everyone keep highly personal information to themselves?

managers follow up on their workers?

people treat their family members with kindness?

humans try to follow the Golden Rule?

Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe indifference is the new normal.  All I ask is to be treated with respect, honesty, and courtesy. I want reliability, capability, accountability, and dependability. Is that too much to ask? 


 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Gorgeous Autumn Days

After a little preview of cool dreary rain over the weekend, Monday has dawned with sunny skies, fresh air, and nearly perfect temperatures. My windows are open, and I'm energized to do a bit of housecleaning before I find some excuse to go outside.

I believe there are some leaves that need to be swept off the sidewalks, and the screened porch needs a bit of sprucing up. Maybe I'll take a brisk walk in the woods, then make use of the glider to relax with a glass of sweet tea and a good book.

Useful Notion: Take advantage of pretty days every chance you get.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Best Of Both Seasons

This time of year Is just right for simple, cozy meals. The other morning I tossed some leftover rice into the crockpot, along with a handful of mixed vegetables, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. I sauted bite sized pieces of fresh chicken with a diced onion, then added to the pot with oregano, coriander, and black pepper. At suppertime, I served it with a topping of shredded cheese and a side of corn muffins. For dessert: homemade apple pie, made with Jonagold apples from a local orchard. YUM!

Even though we've had some cool mornings, we're lucky to still have access to end of season summer veggies. On the menu this week is a big BLT with crisp bacon, lettuce and a slice of juicy Tennessee tomato. I can't quite let go of summer just yet. After all, high temps are in the 80's and the hummingbirds are still here.  It's time to enjoy the best of both seasons.


“And just like that, summer slipped into fall.” --Unknown


Monday, September 21, 2015

Practicing Patience

patience [pey-shuh ns]
  • the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like
  • an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay
  • calmness, stability, and persistent courage in trying circumstances

After sixty-one years, you'd think I'd be pretty good at being patient, but apparently I need more practice. I want to focus on the without complaint, loss of temper part. 

Maybe yoga, meditation, or some kind of diversion would help. 

There's always a big glass of wine or a margarita.  Yeah, I'll take that. 


“Sometimes the fastest way
isn't always the best way.
Sometimes the best things in life
take a while.”
--Emily Beth

Patience is a virtue,
except when I'm the one
who has to put up with 
unnecessary crap.
--Unknown

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Good Life

I love fall. What a busy and fun time! 

I didn't get around to posting anything last week, but that's ok. I was busy enjoying myself and I think I will focus on doing that more often. A good balance of solitude with family and friend time made my days joyful.

Today I've opened the windows to let in the cooler air that's come our way. As for the rest of the week, I'll just go with the flow and see what each day brings. 


"If you stop, look, and listen, 
you'll realize that life is amazing."  
--Unknown

"A good life is a collection 
of happy moments." 
--Denis Waitley
 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Late Summer Notes

Full Circle
I had a little time to play in the sewing room last week, so I decided to refresh my curved seams technique. They aren't really as difficult as they look if you cut and sew precisely. These burgundy and tan prints from my stash made the perfect tote for autumn days.



My mama and I have had more time together lately and we've both had fun. We went for sassy new hairdos, explored the library, looked for shoes, and sat out on our screened porch to read with huge glasses of sweet tea. Our late August cool spell came at just the right time.



Sometimes I wonder how people and businesses who don't treat people well keep their friends or stay in business. They say one thing but do another, they don't communicate clearly, and when questioned, they transfer blame to someone else. I found the ideal quote to help figure them out.

When someone's words and actions 
aren't lining up,

go with their actions, every time.

Actions say what words won't.”

~Unknown


Monday, August 17, 2015

42 Years And Counting

We are celebrating our wedding anniversary this week. The years rack up pretty quickly when you are enjoying life. I could swear that it has only been twenty-something years since we walked down that aisle on a hot August evening in 1973, but the calendar doesn't lie.

I was only nineteen, but apparently we chose well and the marriage took. Naturally there have been ups and downs along the way, several moves, three different careers for me and one for him. Adventures, fun, laughter, and love have been the best parts of our journey. Now we're retired and life is better than ever. 

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!


They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow
Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you

I Got You Babe, Sonny & Cher, 1965
written by Sonny Bono


I can't see me loving nobody
But you for all my life
When you're with me, baby
The skies will be blue for all my life

Happy Together, The Turtles, 1967
written by Alan Gordon & Garry Bonner

Monday, August 10, 2015

Savoring Summer Salads

We spent the last two weeks tackling some long needed chores. A couple of home repairs, trim and window washing are now checked off our to do list. I'm thankful the house is 95% brick and very low maintenance. If only the grass would cooperate!

Chicken Avocado BLT Salad
I love making salads for supper on hot summer days. I created this yummy delight that will be a regular menu item around here. Chicken Avocado BLT Salad starts with bacon, cut into bite sized pieces and fried in an iron skillet. Use the same skillet with the bacon drippings to saute bite sized chicken breast pieces. (The smaller pieces cook quickly.) Add to a bowl full of chopped lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, avocado, celery and baby carrots. Top it off with a sprinkle of pecans, shredded cheddar, and homemade honey mustard dressing.


Useful Notion:
What you allow
is what will continue.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Pulling, Cutting, And Tossing

That pretty much describes last week at our little hacienda. We pulled weeds, and in this heat I'm wondering why we still live on five acres. We cut back shrubs and tree limbs that have been growing like crazy. And of course, we mowed grass. A condo started to sound pretty good once the heat index crept up to 108.

I'm just thankful that out in the country no one cares if your yard isn't perfectly landscaped. I was reminded why we enjoy living here when I saw a little fawn walking down our driveway. What a cutie, or at least I thought so until he made a beeline for his lunch buffet...my morning glories!

A rainy day was spent clearing out two hall closets and bathroom cabinets, tossing stuff that we don't need anymore. I've learned that simpler is better, so I was ruthless in my purging. I tossed a big bag of trash, and have a nice load ready to take for donation.
City Blocks

After all that manual labor, I took a day off to design and sew a quilted tote. I started with a pack of five inch dotted squares and cut borders and lining from a multicolored striped material.  The result is City Blocks, a 17” x 15” bag perfect for a laptop, groceries, or library books. 

Several more designs are in my mind for this week. I've got to use up more of my stash before the next fabric sale begins.





Tossing clutter is like pulling weeds.
You have to make space
for beautiful things to flourish.”
~Katie Scarlett

Monday, July 20, 2015

Break Some Rules

Life is short. Too short to follow every rule or trend that comes along. 

Sometimes the rules just aren't right and the trends are idiotic.

Who makes all these rules anyhow? 
And why are we compelled to follow them?


I didn't break the rules
The rules were already broken
when I got here. 

"They're more what you'd call 
guidelines than actual rules."
 - Jack Sparrow

I try not to break the rules but merely
to test their elasticity.”
- Bill Veeck

Let's do some 
We shouldn't be doing this”
things!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Hot Summer Day

I can't think of a better place to be on a hot summer day than in my air conditioned sewing room. With outside temps in the high nineties and a heat index over 105 degrees, there's no relief in sight.

Yesterday's quilt project is appropriately named Hot Summer Day. I pulled out bright fabrics in orange, watermelon, and gourd yellow, then balanced them with medium turquoise batiks. After a few minutes with EQ7 quilting software, I had the design layout finalized.  

Hot Summer Day
A few rotary cuts, a snip here and there, zoomed along on my trusty Singer, and the blocks were done in no time. This week I'll add lightweight batting, backing and binding for a finished 38” square quilt.

Stay cool everyone, and make time for doing what you love!

Happiness is air conditioning on a hot summer day.” 

Yes, of course I remember when we didn't have air conditioning here in the South. Not in our car or in our house. We rode around with all the windows down and sat in front of a fan at home. Thanks so much for pointing out how old I am.” --Anonymous




Monday, July 6, 2015

Communication Breakdown

The world would be a better place if all of us could improve our communication skills. It's not really that difficult: just say what you mean and mean what you say. Simply and tactfully, of course. Then, listen.

Communication shouldn't be a one-sided activity. The goal should be to share information and convey ideas. Assuming that “everyone knows” something or dropping vague hints instead of directly addressing an issue only causes confusion.

Lack of communication can cause simple situations to explode into major difficulties. In this information age, we have more ways than ever to talk, text, and get in touch with others. So let's do that!

I hope these quotes make you laugh and inspire you to consider how you interact with others.

If you expect me to read your mind,
you're going to have to think more clearly.”
--Spuds Crawford


The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place.”
--George Bernard Shaw

I sort of kind of said something
a little like that but maybe not
clearly enough to sound like that...
But it's what I meant.”
--Mary Eva Swatek



Monday, June 29, 2015

Mowing And Musing

We've been enjoying a couple of days of cooler temps and lower humidity. What a delight it's been to sit on our screened porch and do a little yard work in reasonable comfort at the end of June.

While mowing this morning, I used the time to clear my mind. It's good to do that every now and then; to reset and concentrate on the present. I focused on the breeze across my face, the smell of newly mown grass, the contrast of sun and shade, and how nice everything looked when we finished. I was happy just to be here.

Wouldn't it be nice to have that quiet feeling of satisfaction in all that we do? Life would sure be simpler. The answer may be to stay in the moment and experience all life has to offer. There could be something important in everything, even mundane chores or negative experiences. I believe I'll try looking for that hidden moment every day.


There's a treasure hidden in every moment. 
The joy of life is finding it.” 
– Katrina Mayer


Monday, June 22, 2015

A Day Off



I'm taking the day off 
to conduct some 
important business.  

See you next week!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happily Sewing


Saturday was National Sewing Day, so I made a weekend of it.  Music, iced tea, and a stack of cool, pretty fabric. I fiddled with several designs to come up with a cute triangle wall hanging and some pillows for the living room.
 
It was very relaxing until I tried to filet my little finger with the rotary cutter. Oh well, just slap on a band-aid and carry on.  No need to worry about a little blood because I didn't get any on the fabric.




Fabric is so addictive 
that it should be 
a controlled substance
...but I'm sure glad it's not.  


Monday, June 8, 2015

Seven Things I Could Really Do Without

Reality TV – Who in the universe thinks any of this is real? It's a tv show, with a script and cameras, for heaven's sake. One or two of them were slightly entertaining, but now every network, including the weather and history channels, has multiple “reality” series that are just tiresome and stupid.

Drug ads – I do not want to learn about medication side effects like diarrhea, swelling of tongue or throat, vaginal discharge, erections that last four hours, bloating, gas, constipation, and bleeding while I'm cooking dinner or trying to read an article in Better Homes and Gardens. If I want to know, I'll look it up myself or ask my doctor.

Gossip presented as news – National and local newscasts lead with stories about someone who has had a sex change operation or molested a family member. Then the same story repeats for days, with opinions from anyone who will comment. Oh, and by the way, that person has a new book/tv show/movie coming out next week. Who cares? I want to hear real news stories, not crap, marketing ploys, or someone's opinion.

Too much skin – Please keep your clothing in its proper place, not yanked down, pulled up, or hanging half off of your body. I do not care to see your underwear or the tattoos you have on your butt, your boobs, or below your bikini line while I am eating at a restaurant or shopping. Save showing off your fine (or not so fine) self for the lake, the pool, or the privacy of your own home.

Weather panic – There's a thunderstorm or snow predicted! Go to your safe place! There's water ponding on the roads...do not drive! They're zoomed in to street level for a tiny orange speck on the radar. I'm glad we have access to early warning weather information, but these panicky sounding weather people make a little storm line sound like a catastrophic major event for days before it arrives. 
 
Movie remakes – If the original movie was good, it should stand on its own. That's why they're called classics. If it wasn't, then why bother to make the exact same film again? Lazy Hollywood ought to come up with original ideas. There are plenty of interesting novels that would make great films.

Formulated “music” - The sing-song chanting stuff that is being passed off as music is just horrible. You can't tell one whiny singer from the other, pop or country. None of them can carry a tune and most go outside their range to the point of screeching. The same four word chorus is repeated over and over and over again and called a hit because it fits some formula.

Thank goodness I can choose to avoid most of these by changing the channel, muting or turning off the offending sounds or shows. If only I could erase images seared onto my brain of people's inappropriate and unfortunate choices for public attire.