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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shop Your Shelves

Months ago, Valine gave me a small begonia when I came to visit.  I have managed to keep it alive on my kitchen windowsill, which is the only room in the house that lets in enough light to grow plants.  I has been getting quite long and dangly, and was still in the original plastic wrapped pot.  In addition, I picked up a several small herb plants at Wal Mart the other day and wanted to keep some of them indoors. Time to spruce things up!  
I have been in a purge and donate regime at the house, so I really didn't want to purchase new pots, but I did look while at Wal Mart and Joann's. Since I didn't find anything that I really liked, I came home and decided to shop my shelves. I'd almost forgotten about the small terrarium I purchased several years ago at Round Top. It was tucked away in one of the bedrooms with fake plants inside, but not being used in a very effective way, so it was time to bring it out again. I've never had much luck growing my herbs indoors, so I thought I would see if being in a terrarium might help. Terrariums capture the moisture and act like a mini greenhouse, so it was worth a try. 

The next challenge was finding something to pot the herbs in. Clean tin cans to the rescue! I poked holes in the bottom of the cans for drainage and transferred the plants into the cans. 
Using ordinary scotch tape to secure it, I wrapped a piece of burlap around each one. 
I was afraid that I might mix up which was oregano and which was thyme, (which isn't a big deal if you aren't actually going to use them for cooking), but becomes important when using them in a recipe. I wrapped a strip of chalkboard tape around and wrote the herb on it. (I've had the tape in my scrapbook stash for a while). 
Next up was the begonia. 
While shopping my shelves, I noticed an old teapot that had once belonged to my mother and my grandmother before that. 
The handle had been broken in several places and glued back together and the top was missing, but I always liked it nonetheless.  While there are no drainage holes, I'm hoping that the spout will provide a little bit of drainage and keep things from getting too moist.
I re-potted the plant and then gathered a few other things onto a metal tray and set them on the butcher block cart. 
Putting things onto the tray will make it easy to move if I need to use the top for cooking or baking preparation. 
Back in the late fall, all of my herbs suddenly died all at once. I had huge rosemary, thyme and oregano plants which were all well-established, as well as a potted Satsuma tree on a small patio by my storage building and one morning I discovered them all dead as can be. It was so weird, but I think that it coincided with the day my yard was sprayed with weed killer, and I think some of it must have been accidentally sprayed onto the herb patio. So, as soon as it warms up again (which I'm sure won't be long), I will plant the rest of the herbs outdoors. But, these will stay on my windowsill, with hopes of happy growing and cutting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love After Loss

Many of you know that I was married before, but, tragically, mental illness took him from our family. In the years that followed, I dated a little bit, but not very much. While I hoped to eventually find someone to share my life with, it all took so much effort. I had difficulty even meeting appropriate single men, much less entering into a relationship with them. It was all so confusing and scary, and when the girls were still at home, even harder. By the time they were grown and gone, I had settled into a busy routine of being single and finding the right person seemed rather hopeless.
I lost both of my parents during these years, I worked hard at my job as a teacher, did a ton of volunteer work at my church and enjoyed sewing and crafting into the wee hours of the morning. I have never been much of a cook, and being alone meant I didn't really even have to think about that chore. It didn't matter that my house was a wreck from the crafting and sewing--who was going to see it anyway?--and laundry was something I did when I had run out of clean underwear. Staying so busy left little time for meeting new people, taking risks or leaving myself vulnerable. I felt that God must have other plans for me, so I threw myself into these things and focused on being happy as a middle-aged single lady.
And I was happy. I did things I enjoyed, had a great job and great friends, not to mention an amazing family. Then all of sudden, out of the blue, Ron Perkins stepped into my life at a summer race. We bumped into each other after 30+ years and things have never been the same since.  It's not always easy--nothing worthwhile ever is--but it's been good.
In order to nurture our relationship, I backed out of some of my volunteer responsibilities and have been choosier about which ones now receive my attention. I am still not much of a housekeeper, but, I try to confine my artistic messes to one area of the house now. Instead of sewing into the wee hours of the night, I find that I am now content to stitch on the couch while he watches football or while he is at work. I don't mind doing double the laundry one little bit and --brace yourself -- I actually enjoy cooking now!!
All of that is pretty easy stuff to do when you are in a good relationship. The part that is difficult is the most important, however. You see, I can't hide my broken parts from him and sometimes we both speak sharp words to each other that hurt. It is hard leaving myself vulnerable to another person, but in the pain of misunderstanding and disappointment, he is there for me and I am there for him. We forgive and we start again and we literally old each other up when the other is unsteady.
So, you see, the difficult part is actually the best part as well.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Birds, Bees and Barking

I recently posted a short video clip on Instagram of one of my favorite animals, my little Maltese, Emmi. She is such a funny little dog.  I do believe that she feels her main purpose in life is to keep all birds and squirrels out of our yard.  And she takes that responsibility very seriously!

This winter, she has been especially diligent about keeping all birds off of our deck, which is easier said than done most days. Although she gives it her best barking effort (much to my dismay), and patrols the perimeter of the area, some of the sparrows have found a way to outsmart her.
In the flowerbed next to the deck, there is a miniature rose bush that once lived at my mama's house many years ago.  While this time of year, there are no blooms, and sparse leaves, the sparrows have discovered that they are generally safe within the thorny branches of the bush.
Emmi, and even Joy, try their best to scare them away, but there are a few brave birds that know their bark is worse than their bite since they can't actually reach them.
In other news around the backyard, new little buds are popping out all over the yard with the spring-like weather we've been experiencing. There are tiny buds on the fig tree,
and the blueberry bush I planted last year has the prettiest little blossoms on it.
Even the bees are out, taking advantage of the record-setting temperatures.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Be Mine

I've worked with children most of my life, so when I began my student teaching years ago, I wasn't at all surprised by their anticipation of various holidays. Halloween, came first and the kids planned their costumes for weeks. And, of course, notes to Santa were written and gift lists were compared and discussed in the weeks leading up to Christmas. But, I was totally unprepared for the excitement that Valentine's Day presented.

Even though there was no character dressed in a costume, the children had so much fun picking out the perfect box of cards from the store to exchange with their friends.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised--I vividly remember how much I loved making my own Valentines out of doilies and red paper and saving the prettiest ones for my best friends. Valentine's Day was indeed a very special time.

Toddler D has no idea what Valentine's Day is about yet, but I thought he might enjoy the process of decorating cards for his friends. I picked up some supplies at our local Dollar Tree--a couple of packs of cards, heart stickers, stampers and his favorite, some transportation stickers--and showed him how how to use all of the supplies.
I loved watching him work, carefully peeling away the backing of the stickers. Little dimpled hands are the best!!
The stampers were his favorite!
Later, he helped me write his name on the inside of each card--he can make a couple of the letters without any help! Then, we bagged them up so he could take them to school last week. I can't wait to see how he reacts to receiving Valentines from his friends!
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Kindness Matters

It is no secret that this is a difficult time for many people. Given the reports you read on social media, the world itself is in a state of constant turmoil and the United States, in particular, is going through a tough time.  No matter which side of the political fence you lean, the division seems especially marked right now and people all over the country are witnessing angry attacks on those whose views are different from their own. This is one reason I decided to take an indefinite break from Facebook--I cannot control the posts of others, but I can control my exposure to them and this is the way I am choosing to do that for now.
But, something else is happening too-a movement that may have been born out of frustration, but one that actually has the potential to change the world. If you are reading this, then you have probably been touched by the "Be Kind" movement in some way, even if just a hashtag. It is nothing new--the command dates back thousands of years. In fact, one of the very first scriptures I ever learned was The Golden Rule--"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  Be Kind.
As a little girl, when I came home distraught over the mean comments of a friend or feeling left out of an activity, my mother's advice was often to "kill them with kindness". The words often frustrated me at the time because sometimes I think I wanted her to give me permission to be mean back. But, she was so much wiser than that.  She knew that the sting of a bitter retort often backfires and leaves the giver feeling worse than the receiver.
I believe that God can bring good from any situation if we let Him. I have experienced it firsthand many, many times. Maybe, just maybe, the Be Kind movement is just that.
Perhaps He is working slowly, quietly, behind the scenes with all those who will listen, to create a voice that is louder than the negative ones we hear and read. Being kind could lead to a world where we can appreciate our differences-even different political views-and know that they are all equally important in creating a balanced world. A world full of kindness.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Quick DIY

Like most of the Pinterest world, it seems, I love the chalkboard style.  I have a chalkboard on my front porch where I enjoy posting seasonal quotes and artwork.
While I have several small chalkboards I use in my home decor as well I would love to be brave enough to have a chalkboard wall or cabinet face like these:
 (unknown source)
But, I am also a little bit leery of having chalk dust all over the kitchen. Instead, I opted to create a quick little chalkboard on the inside of one my cupboard doors.  Big enough to write some stuff in a handy location, but can be hidden by closing the door. How's that for commitment?

Since I was too lazy to walk out to the storage building to find painter's tape, I used a piece of the pretty washi tape that Jana gave me to create a straight edge at the top.
Armed with popcorn and some Zipfizz, I gave the surface 3 coats of paint, then pulled off the tape.
I prepped the surface by covering it with chalk and then wiping it off.
Just for fun, I drew a fun little arrow border with a white chalk pen--chalk pens are more permanent, so I won't be erasing that. (You can see here that a bit of the paint peeled off with the tape, so I had to touch that up)
Now it's ready to keep up with shopping needs or recipes or even a fun message.
Knowing that the paint peeled off really easily with the tape makes me wonder if it is going to stick on the rest of the surface.  The cabinets were originally painted with oil-based paint and the chalkboard paint is acrylic.  But, that's the nice part about being a somewhat small surface inside a cabinet---it is not big deal if it doesn't last and in the meantime, I'll have fun with it!

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