Monday, July 27, 2009

Has Anyone Seen the Right Side of My Brain?

The creative side of my cerebral cortex has somehow developed legs and wandered off during the night. I cannot for the life of me imagine why it would want to do that, can you? I think I have a pretty nice place for it to reside. Maybe it thought differently.
This would explain why I draw a complete blank when I go into my craft room. I pull out papers and glue, bits and bobs, canvas and paints, place them on the table and.......nothing. Zip, zero, nada, rien. It is a sad, sad state of affairs.
I have looked high and low, in baskets, drawers, cupboards and on shelves. In the closets, the kitchen, the hen house and garden. Where has it gone? Hmm, I wonder. Have I tucked it somewhere and don't remember? It's possible, I've done it before.
Wherever it is, I hope that it is getting a lot of rest because when it gets back, it is going to be very busy. In the meantime, if you happen to run across that naughty right hemisphere of mine, don't let on what you know. It may never return!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I don't think Gussie quite understands how big Pearl really is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Madame Defarge and Mary Poppins

The past few weeks have found me taking my mom and dad to their respective doctor visits, which allows for a lot of down time for me. Because I like to keep busy, I have taken to bringing a basket of knitting with me.
While I was at the VA hospital waiting for Dad to have an x-ray, I noticed a little boy watching my every move. He leaned over to his grandmother and asked her if she knew how to do that. She replied that she did at one time but it had been too long since she had done so. It was the perfect lead-in for a sweet conversation ending with me giving her the pattern and her promising to give it a try. Her grandson asked her if she would teach him. He's seven and, I think, the perfect age to give a pair if knitting needles and a simple project.

I hope she does teach him. I could tell he was very intrigued by the whole process and, when you think about it, would be very helpful with hand-eye coordination, math skills, patterning, all the things a boy needs for school!

I love the way the pattern leads you into a perfect circle with single point needles. Virtually mindless to accomplish, once you get the rhythm of the pattern.

I'm giving you a few links of you want to create a washcloth for yourself. The second link is for the one I have made here. You should definitely treat yourself to a hand made wash cloth in your bath- Something special for someone special. You deserve a little luxury. :)
I used a skein of Paton's Grace cotton yarn and size 3 Brittany birch needles. I love these needles. They are soft in the hand and the yarn slips perfectly off of them. They are a dream.

My other project this week has been to read Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. Can you believe that I have never read the book that inspired the movie?

I have to say that I think Disney did Mary Poppins a favor. In the book she is haughty, short-tempered and rather rude. Disney definitely softened her.
There are the familiar tales of Bert, the Match Man not a chimney sweep; Uncle Albert Wigg, who laughs himself to the ceiling; Miss Lark and her terrier Andrew, the very spoiled dog; The Bird Woman and stories that were new to me- The Dancing Cow, Mrs. Corry and her huge daughters, a trip around the world, and the twin siblings of Jane and Michael, John and Barbara.
Whew, sorry about that run on sentence.
Here's a bit of the real Mary Poppins, from the chapter entitled Christmas Shopping:
"Just look at you!" said Mary Poppins to herself, particularly noticing how nice her new gloves with the fur tops looked. They were the first pair she had ever had and she thought she would never grow tired of looking at them in the shop windows with her hands inside them. And having examined the reflection of the gloves she went carefully over her whole person- coat, hat, scarf, shoes, with herself inside- and she thought that, on the whole, she had never seen anybody look quite so smart and distinguished.
But the winter afternoons, she knew, were short, and they had to be home by tea-time. So with a sigh she wrenched herself away from her glorious reflection."
That's Mary Poppins to a T- a bit full of herself. I wanted to like this book, mainly because Mary Poppins was a movie I loved as a child and still do today. I remember going to the drive-in in Braintree to see it with my parents and little brothers and wishing that I could have a house with a nursery and a need for a nanny. Thank goodness I did not read the book then, or I don't think I would have the same feelings for the nanny that came on the East wind.
I think things will be getting back to normal soon and I will have more time to accomplish the things I need to do around the house. Still, this has been a nice diversion from daily tasks and I am grateful. Sometimes it's just nice to escape.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jeanne D'Arc Living

I was very fortunate to have won a copy of Jeanne D'Arc Living from Carol at Raised in Cotton a few weeks ago. I have been pouring over the pages since it arrived in my mailbox and every time I find something new.

The photos transcend the language barrier and draw me in to delight and inspire.
This makes me want to decorate a nursery.

How many wonderful ideas would pop into your head if
your workroom looked like this, I wonder?

Simple, sweet and beautifully appointed rooms.

These two hangers just make me happy.

I have already started collecting lichens from my back yard in hopes of having enough to make a wreath like this. I think by this winter I should have what I need.

There are recipes, tutorials and this easy-peasy way to make a vignette that looks as though it took years to create.

Seriously, anyone can do this!

Thank you, Carol. I will treasure this forever.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Perfect Summer Side

I don't think anything says "Summer in the South" like a summer squash casserole. We grew up eating summer squash prepared one way- boiled in water until soft, drained and served with salt, pepper and butter. I love summer squash that way, I really do. But, when I moved here to Georgia I discovered a new way to eat it and I have not been the same since.

What is there not to love? Summer squash from the garden, soft slices of onion, milk, eggs, crackers and best of all, cheese! Lots of cheese.
I made some for my dinner tonight. Just that for me, everyone else had chicken and macaroni and cheese because they don't eat squash. My husband asked me what kind of casserole I had made and winced when I told him. Harumph.
I'll share my recipe just in case you have a bounty of summer squash in your garden or have been the recipient of a mystery bag hung on your door like I was.

Summer Squash Casserole

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2 large summer (or six small) squash, sliced thin. You will need about five cups or so of sliced squash.
1/2 Vidalia onion, in thin slices

Place onions and squash in a steamer basket (or colander) over boiling water, cover and steam for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the following:
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (if desired)
salt and pepper to taste
2T melted butter

In a separate bowl, mix together:
1 sleeve Ritz crackers (or your preference), coarsely crushed
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Reserve out 1/2 cracker and cheese mixture. Into the remaining cracker/cheese mixture add the squash and onions. Mix together well. Pour squash into a buttered 9x13-in. baking dish.
Pour the milk and egg mixture over the squash and top with the reserved cracker/cheese mixture.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned.

This is just so darn good that I had to take some up the hill to my mom and dad's so I wouldn't eat it all. "Share the joy.", I always say. My hips will thank me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Whatever Possessed Me.......

To go into the bathroom and take a pair of scissors to my hair? :) It was getting much too long and I was pretty tired of trying to make it look nice. Long hair and I do not get along very well. So, in a moment of insane impulsiveness I cut my hair. Short. Funny things is that I really like it! No, it isn't perfect but it isn't anything a good stylist can't fix in 8 weeks.
Something that did turn out perfectly this weekend was Susan's homemade soft pretzels.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I remember making soft pretzels when my children were small. Once.

Susan's looked so delicious that I had to try them again. My kitchen smelled heavenly. Good thing you can't see my dirty oven. ;)

I added cracked black pepper to the dough and garlic and coarse sea salt to the tops. A side of classic yellow mustard completed my afternoon snack. All I can say is, "Heaven!" They are delicious and so super easy to make. Really, in less than two hours you can have homemade, hot-out-of-the-oven pretzel goodness. These will definitely stay in my make-at-home file.
So, what did you do this weekend?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Stinky Squid

No, this is not a condemnation of what some deem to be a delicacy of the sea. It is instead the name of a particular mushroom that I discovered growing in the mulch outside the dining room window. At first glance I thought it was a claw from a crab or crawfish. But, since we have not eaten crab or crawfish lately, it had to be something else entirely.

The brilliant orange of this mushroom fades to a beautiful creamy white below the ground. It is a member of the Stinkhorn family, although there was no odor being emitted while I took its picture. Thank goodness because the description of the odors from these fungi range from fresh dog poop to that of a very ripe cadaver. Oh, joy. Oh, rapture. The Latin name of this particular mushroom is Pseudocolus Fusiformis, just in case you were wondering.

I watched as flies darted to it landing gently on its "tentacles" in their effort to help it spread its spores about my yard. Nothing like the smell of death or dog poop to draw a fly in, huh? Bleah.
But, it was a fascinating find and I am grateful my camera battery was in full charge so that I could share it with you.
So, if you ever look out your window and see a brilliant orange claw poking up out of the ground, it may well be this little beauty. Go out and admire it, just don't get your nose too close.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

While I Was Away......

Do you remember when I switched around my living room and dining room and declared it done? Well, it wasn't. It needed a bit of tweaking here and there so while I had some free time on my hands, I made a few changes.
Driven by boredom, ideas began popping into my head on how to best make the long wall more interesting. I really did not like the way it looked. Too, I don't know, predictable I guess you could say. That said, I also had to take into account that I am on a very limited budget so I had to use things that I already had. Okay, all set. Off to the craft room to see what I could use.
In my stash I have a stack of rather well-loved, worn books. I have used them for all sorts of projects, including wallpapering the bottom half of my hallway. I just love that look so I used it again. There is nothing that matches the color of old book pages. No tea-staining or paint can come close to the natural aging of paper.
I started placing the pages at the ceiling line, butting them together. Next row, a little overlap of the top and progress had begun. I then realized that if I wanted to cover the entire wall in this manner I would need a lot of books! Random placement was what was needed. Here is the result:

I still could have covered the whole wall with pages, filling in every empty space but as I stepped back and really looked at what I had done, I realized that the pages appeared as though they were cascading down the wall. Beautiful! It made me think of something you might see at Hogwart's. Can't you picture young wizards scanning pages as they fall down the walls of the library?

I moved this cabinet from my bedroom to house my favorite platters, plates and nicknack's. I bought it from a man who lives nearby in Conyers for $75 a few years ago. It had been in his family for generations and was made sometime near the end of the Civil War. I don't know what the wood is, but it is made with wide planks that were cut from trees that grew on their land. He had it stored in his very damp basement, filled with old tools and rusty nails. I think it is happier with its new life.

This quilt was made by a brother and sister, two of my ancestors aged 8 and 5, somewhere in the 1830's or 1840's. I took it from my parent's garage on my birthday last month and hung it on my wall. Happy birthday to me! I wonder if it was a project assigned by their mother to keep them busy during a summer vacation or to while away long winter evenings. Whichever it was, it has that lovely, naive charm about it that I love. The bachelor's chest was made in Griffin, GA and holds my linens and other bits and bobs.
I love the way the wall now has movement and energy. There are small treats to discover within the pages- advertisements for new books, an inscription from a teacher to her student (dated 1883) and notes taken during French class, all designed to keep you occupied while you wait for me to finish cooking dinner.
I think I can finally say that this room is done.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh, How Sweet.

Hello!! I am back online, in my own house, on my own computer at last. What a relief! No more waiting for Dad's MagicJack to load, which took an eternity, or having him hovering over my shoulder trying to see what I am writing. Not that he can't read it when I'm done. I guess he likes to be in-the-know!
It will now take me approximately three weeks to read through all of your blog posts. And I will read each one of them because I want to be able to catch up on what has been happening in your lives, your sewing rooms and art studios!

A week or so ago I wedged my camera in my kitchen window in hopes of catching Mama or Papa Wren feeding their babies. What a treat to have caught this shot of Mama Wren feeding her very large, very hungry chick! Isn't that cute?

The babes have fledged and the house now sits empty. I hope it doesn't stay that way too long. I love watching the activity while I am washing dishes.

One thing I noticed about this little family of birds is how neat they are. I guess I have always assumed that wild birds are like chickens, leaving waste where it drops. But, no! What a surprise when I saw this:

Someone in the house lifted up a bit of poop and a short time later Daddy Wren came along, picked up the poop in his beak and flew away with it, making a deposit close to my compost pile. Birds are very, very tidy little things. But, I am very glad I am not one. ;)