For many years the little white angel spent most of the year in a box with other Christmas decorations that would be briefly displayed and then put away. She had been a trinket-type Christmas gift from either a friend or co-worker, but had such a sweet serene face that she had been kept. In due time a collection of angels assembled themselves on top of the bookshelf and she joined them there. Quietly, they watched over the living room.
But the peacefulness of the little group was disturbed when a construction worker very unwisely maneuvered a long baseboard through the wide doorway and hooked the little angel sending her flying into the floor below. Crash! My irritation level was already high with the workers and now this. I turned around expecting to see only scattered pieces of the ceramic angel, but instead saw her face down in the floor intact with only a shattered wing. Surprised, I mumbled to the horrified worker that it was nothing expensive.
I picked her up and turned her over. Her wing was gone, but the serene look was unchanged. Immediately I saw the analogy and gently placed her back on the top of the bookcase. She had been hurled to the floor without any warning, crashing face down. Damaged, but not destroyed. Changed in an instant, never to be the same. But, still loved and still treasured she was not to be cast off. I swept up the broken pieces and threw them away, thankful for the gentle hand of the loving Father that’s there to pick us up when we find ourselves face down in the floor. Part of us may be broken, but with His care we will be restored to our place in His plan.
All I have done is water these amaryllis bulbs and cover the plants during the worst of our winter weather. In turn I have been rewarded with an explosion of blooms – 12 stalks with 4 blooms each to be exact. I will not complain about cold weather from now on as I truly think it is the cause of this showy display!
Bunnies, eggs and vintage hats! Time to start humming Easter Parade, too! Irving Berlin wrote so many memorable songs that we still enjoy today. Easter Parade’s lyrics were written in 1933 and set to music he had composed in 1917. Recorded many times and featured in numerous movies it really is one of those timeless songs we never forget!
This is a peaceful scene, isn’t it? My eyes are always drawn to a porch swing and, if possible, I allow myself a few minutes to sit and swing. Lazily swinging back and forth always brings back a treasured memory for me….
One of my grandmother’s older sisters lived across Highway 9 from my grandparents. Every afternoon, at the appropriate time, my grandmother would walk me across the road for a visit with Aunt Tient (pronounced like pint, only with a “t”). She and her husband, Uncle Hayden, doted on me just as they had doted on my mother. They were childless with a lot of love to spare.
When my mother was growing up Aunt Tient and Uncle Hayden lived in Greenwood. My mother spent many hours with them with each visit being announced in the Webster County Times newspaper according to the custom of the day. Uncle Hayden was a night police man, so he slept during the day. Mama described Aunt Tient “tiptoeing” around during the day so he could sleep. She was also one of the few women at that time who knew how to drive; I suspect that Uncle Hayden had taught her so she would be able to drive herself as needed. In turn she taught my mother to drive and to drive very well! Uncle Hayden loved my mother dearly, but I was always scared of him. He had scratchy whiskers and smelled unpleasantly of chewing tobacco, plus his policeman-like demeanor made him a little gruff. He worked odd jobs as a painter and was usually gone while I visited. When he was there he watched television with the volume turned way up as he was hard-of-hearing. Sometime prior to my arrival they had bought and moved into their converted duplex conveniently across the highway.
My days followed a continual pattern. Pick and work in the garden in the morning, hang wash on the line, and begin preparations for the mid-day meal (dinner to us). After the lunch dishes were washed and put away it was rest time. My grandmother had been up since very early, cooked 2 meals and worked steadily in the rising heat. After resting we would turn to working on processing vegetables from the morning garden pick. I would wait impatiently for the appointed time to call Aunt Tient to arrange my visit and then off I went.
The first order of business after my grandmother left was to have a cold Coca-Cola. A daily Coca-Cola was forbidden in my world; my mother thought that one a week was all that a person should have. Truth be known I suspect that she drank one every day during her visits to Aunt Tient’s! Sometimes we would be a little decadent and add a scoop of the very best ice cream in the world and have a Coke float. As we sipped our drinks she would sometimes tell me stories like the one about the day that the banks closed and people had no money. She and her husband had $14 in cash, so they were okay until the banks re-opened. Only many years later would I understand. I remember these times at her table as being serious talks.
After that enjoyable repast we would sometimes gather eggs from her hens, which I dearly loved helping with. Aunt Tient was terrified of snakes and always made a big issue of watching for them while we gathered the beautiful brown eggs into a basket. To this day I pay extra for brown eggs at the grocery store just to honor her hen house.
We might also finish up a little cooking project from earlier in the day. Living in a duplex afforded her the luxury of a cooking kitchen on one side of the house and a cooler kitchen in which to serve and eat a meal. Jelly and jam was her speciality and I remember watching her pull the little glass jars out of the boiling water. I’m sure that like my grandmother she was also canning and freezing vegetables from her garden to be used during the coming winter months. The kitchen was very old and very hot, so I was always glad when she finished.
Then it was time to head out to the cool side porch and swing in the porch swing. It was painted a dark green and there was always a cool breeze to be enjoyed. While we swang back and forth she would delight me with funny stories from her and my grandmother’s youth. She was quite a story teller and made me laugh and giggle with each tale; sometimes I would beg her to tell a particular story that I loved and she always complied. Like my grandmother she also had boxes of pictures that she would entertain me with. As she identified each picture she always had a story to go with it, too. Those hours in that porch swing left a lasting impression on me of good times enjoyed with family and the value of a porch swing. She also had a checkers set and delighted in telling me to “king” her!
Several times she produced a box similar in size to a blanket box and a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog. She would help me cut out pictures and attach them to the box. I don’t remember if we used tape or glue, but that box was turned into a beautiful home or so I thought. I suspect that both of us were very silly in our decorating.
All too quickly my grandmother would cross the road to retrieve me before beginning the evening meal (supper) preparation. She would usually chat for a few minutes with her sister before we left. I was always reluctant to leave, but knew that the next day would mean another visit with Aunt Tient in the porch swing.
Until about 2 weeks ago I had never been to an Ikea store. My oldest grandson and I were looking for something to do and, surprisingly, he suggested we go. I had always thought of Ikea as a store that sold inexpensive-some-assembly-required furniture. I was in for a big surprise that was quite delightful! Well worth the hour and a half drive to get there!
Just to note in case you’re not familiar with IKEA it is a Swedish-founded and Dutch-based multinational group that does design and sell assembly required furniture as well as other home furnishings and offers complete kitchen design products. In addition their stores feature Swedish food products. Their prices are very reasonable and I found the quality of everything to be good.
We ate lunch in their cafe which is conveniently located in the middle of the store. He suggested the Swedish meatballs and I was not disappointed! The entire meal was delicious and nicely served on real plates with real utensils and an actual glass for my drink. My only debate was if it should be considered “pre-fab”, but I decided not to consider that question. Just eat and enjoy.
Along with the entree and sides there was a helping of lingonberry sauce; I had never heard of lingonberries and expected it to taste like cranberry sauce as it looked identical. But it was totally different with a mildly sweet taste that was the perfect complement to the meal. So as we shopped I picked up a jar of their lingonberry jam even though I rarely eat anything with jelly or jam. Why not give this a try for something different? And, the nutritional information wasn’t bad at all.
A close relative of the cranberry and the blueberry, lingonberries (Vaccinum vitis-idaea var. minimus), usually known as the lowbush or mountain cranberry, do grow wild in the cooler regions of the United States.
The lingonberry grows as a shiny leaved, short spreading, evergreen shrub, quite similar to the lowbush blueberry, although the branches of the plant are more tender and less woody.
All good things do eventually come to an end and so it was time to trim the nandinas. Before this last spell of wet, cold weather I pruned them back, but decided to save this cluster just to prolong the winter season. I always look forward to the nandinas’ red berries around Thanksgiving. I just want to enjoy them a little longer. But no worries as they will soon start to bloom and reassure me that there will be berries to enjoy again!
Peppermint and basil – waiting to be planted. I picked these up about a week ago and kept them in the house while it was still cold. They are now outside and I’m going to plant them this week in pots. I’ve found that the more delicate herbs seem to fair better in the summer heat in a pot where they retain moisture. It also enables me to move them around if needed.
Now the confession: I’ve already been plucking the basil leaves for culinary purposes. It really is my go-to herb for cooking and just for a little aromatherapy. Herbs are one of nature’s best gifts!
This is a throw-back post to last year, but I am sharing it again since I know I have many new readers! Whatever you do today, have fun!
Have you ever wondered what Fat Tuesday is all about? I wasn’t raised in a family or religion that observed the season of Lent; I didn’t really know what it was until I joined a denomination that does observe the season. Likewise, I was unfamiliar with Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras. Since we are heading into the beginning of Lent I thought it might be fun to look at these two observances and how they came to be, especially since they were originally one and the same.
Eating pancakes and going to Mardi Gras celebrations are fun activities, but their origins are thought to have started in the Middle Ages as a way to prepare for Lent. Since eating meats, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were restricted during Lent families would have three-day celebrations beginning on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and culminating in a great feast on Tuesday. The purpose of the celebration was to consume these items that would spoil during the forty days of Lenten fasting. By the beginning of the 20th century the celebration had been shortened to the one-day observance of Shrove Tuesday. This term was derived from the word shrive which means to confess one’s sins and receive absolution from the priest.
So where do the pancakes fit in to Shrove Tuesday? The English gave us this tradition of eating as many pancakes as humanly possible as a way to use up milk, fats, and eggs on hand. It’s easy to see where the nickname Fat Tuesday came from, right? But the Fat Tuesday nickname actually came from France as a reference to eating up all the fatty foods on that day. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.
Today Mardi Gras is associated with parties, parades, and revelry in the streets of many cities. It is thought that this tradition came about as a result of the Spring Equinox celebrations of the Romans and ancient pagan peoples of Europe, although many think that the celebrations began as a way to “let it all hang out” before the somber Lenten season’s restrictions mandated observance. These pre-Ash Wednesday celebrations were referred to as “Carnivals” which is derived from the Latin term carnem levare, meaning “to take away the flesh”. Most likely their exuberant excesses led to the Church’s decision to shorten the celebration to one day!
I hope you enjoy the fun associated with this week’s Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Carnival activities.