outside & inside the house

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Grace and I found a Garden Center yesterday pretty close to home.  It was big, exciting, and bright and full of ladies of all ages filling their carts to the brim with annuals, perennials, potting soil, pots, vegetable plants, fertilizer, tools, and mulch!  I said, “I’m NOT going to get distracted by wanting alllllll the flowers!” and then I admit I did indeed became a tiny bit distracted which made her wander off to some flowering trees over in the quiet back corner while I made up my mind, eventually, to buy two huge RED hanging baskets and two RED watering cans planted with RED geraniums.  They look wonderful against our YELLOW house.  I now have the Memorial day//July 4th bunting up, too.  Home Sweet Humble Home.

Meanwhile, inside the house:

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I also picked up this little cabinet from a (new-to-us) Thrift store.

It has become our Scrap/Art-booking cabinet.

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Grace promptly ran off to find some books to put on top of it.  Mary Oliver poetry, a book I’m reading, a book she JUST finished, and one of her beloved Dictionaries.  (She has a weakness).

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Inside the cabinet there are removable shelves for our books and papers.

My scrapbook is on top, then Grace’s and then Sarah’s.  We each have one.  We glue anything and everything inside of them.  Someday I’ll take a few videos of them to share. Joanna does them with her girls, too, and when we’re together we love to spend time looking through each other’s books.  We also mail each other papers to include in them, too.

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Again at the thrift store, I couldn’t resist this 1070’s child’s tablecloth with Raggedy Ann and Andy on it.  Seeing it made Sarah remember that she had a Raggedy doll (which used to be Grace’s).

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***

Guess what?  My Christmas Cactus is blooming again!  It gives me great joy (rather like a christmas joy!)  Two buds; one small and one just-about-to-open.

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Sherlock sleeps in his favorite bed all day long (he reminds us of a taco in a shell, so his new nickname is Taco-cat which is the same backward and forward, David told me).

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Parker was sleeping so soundly on my bedroom floor that I had to stop and check his breathing.  He’s fine just really tired.

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My current read; Grace and the boys listened to the audiobook when they were still homeschooling years ago and I remember how much they loved it.  I was in the mood to try reading some Newbury Award books that I missed as a child, so I pulled this one off their shelves.  I think of them as I read it.

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I found this one just sitting on the couch.  I’m guessing Grace is reading it because I mentioned that I wanted to go see Laura and Almanzo’s house next summer but that she probably wouldn’t want to go with me because “you never really read the books like I did as a child.” To which she became slightly offended and said yes she did too read them.

This morning Grace couldn’t find packing tape.  I told her where to find it.  She couldn’t find it.  I went to check and found it promptly.  Then she could not find her shoes.  I bent over to look under the coffee table.  “They’re right there under the coffee table.”  “HOW DO YOU DO THAT?”  She was impressed.  “You’re like a MEDAL-DETECTOR of lost things!”

I felt really proud of myself.  Someday when you’re a mom you’ll hone this skill, too, Grace.

HONE:  refine or perfect (something) over a period of time.

trip back home

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I left Thursday morning as soon as the children got on the school bus and drove leisurely to my parents’ house.  I stopped several times for coffee, gas, the mall, and an antique store where I found a handful of old photos and letters for my scrapbook.

Mom was at work but Dad and the dog greeted me and we went for a walk up the road so he could show me the wood he’s been cutting.

We passed the house my mom and her siblings grew up in which now belongs to someone else.

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I played on this yard as a child, too.

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Springtime Daffodils were peeking through old grasses from last year, in a tire that my Grandma planted flowers in years ago.

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Dad stood by his woodpile in the woods across from Andrew’s and the pond.

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I admired the beautiful scenery as we walked back down the road to home.  I’m forever thankful to have grown up in such a beautiful area.

Soon it was time to pick up my cousin Erika so we could go to school and sing.  But first, I was delighted to see her fiestaware collection.    This is a photo of just some of what she and her husband have found.

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Aunt Colleen says Jillian (Erika’s daughter) is the avocado whisperer because she’s the only one who can get the pits to grow.  This is an avocado plant in her bedroom!  She planted it from a grocery store avocado, using the pit after they ate the rest of it.

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This is a school yearbook photo of my friend Nicole, my brother, myself, Carmine, Dana (my HS bestie) and Aaron, all friends from my childhood who were in chorus with me years and years ago.

My beloved chorus Director is retiring this year so those of us who could attend went back to school to sing one last time………

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The beginning of the concert…..

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My friend Tracy took this photo of me and the rest of the alto section.  Oh it was such fun!!  I was just a little bit rusty and couldn’t sustain a note quite as long because I’m out of practice.  But still, so fun.  I loved seeing familiar faces and places; the whole weekend was full of nostalgia and memories.  I hadn’t been inside the school in over 10 years.

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My sweet cousin and me after the concert with our red folders.  🙂

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Looking pretty good for a pair of 40ish year olds!  My friend Tracy and myself (same graduating class of 1994).  We had fun walking around seeing the school and how it has changed since we attended there (seems like just a year or so ago…….)

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Me and Mrs. Westover at the reception after the concert.

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The old gym that we graduated in.  Ah, memories!!!!

friday:

I stopped by the restaurant in town that morning where Erika is the baker and she gave me some slices of her homemade pie to take home!  Thank you Erika!  The pie was delicious when we ate it that evening for dessert.  Mom and Dad had raspberry and I had chocolate peanut butter (split with brother Dave).

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I drove to meet mom for lunch.  She was able to take a special four- hour-long -one just for me.

(isn’t the floor of her office beautiful?)

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antiquing…….

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Someone glued lots of old McDonald’s toys to a mirror.  It would be fun in a child’s bedroom.

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My cute mom.

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A frame/art shop with a window full of cats.

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LUNCH at a thai place

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COFFEE time! (with our Vera purses of the same pattern but slightly different fabrics)

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After I left mom back at work, I drove the back way home and passed the house my family lived in until I was in 2nd grade.  Dave and I have many vivid memories of childhood here.  It was a Sears Roebuck house kit built by my paternal grandparents.  My dad grew up here and then he and Mom bought the house and lived in it for a while, too.  It used to be yellow but the shrubbery is the same (not green now bc it’s still early spring here).  Mom said even the driveway was the same and hasn’t been repaved since they sold it.  🙂  The second story window was my bedroom.

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And this house next door was my Paternal Great-Grandparents’ house.  The families stayed close to each other and Dad has lots of photos of gatherings on the different yards for cook outs and picnics when he was a youngster.

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And then I drove by the old church we attended and my Dad was baptized in.   I remember Sundays with lots of family and friends.  We went to this church until I was about Sarah’s age but I remember things . . . . .children soak everything in. . . . it’s a good reminder for me to be gentle with my own children.

I went to the small country cemetery where my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and Great-Grandparents (all on my dad’s side of the family) are buried and then to the school and country store.

Then, home again to my parents’ house and a visit with my brother Dave.

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I love this photo of Dave and my dad and the family pets.  🙂

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“up on the hill”

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I went walking in the woods with mom and Dave — they stopped to look at everything, Mom said, “I want to see something new!”  They make rock “people” stacks everywhere, and look for gold in the creek (it MIGHT happen!) or arrowheads.  Maybe!

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Standing under a giant purple tree mushroom.  Something new we saw!

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Then Mom (she’s very observant) saw a black animal over in the field so Dave and I walked over to check things out.  It was two black cats, maybe from Uncle Brian’s house?  We didn’t know them and they didn’t know us.  They ran off to hide in the old barn.

saturday;

Mom and I did some garden clean-up with Dad and then got ready for more adventuring.  We asked Dad to take our photo but first he took this one:

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We invited him to come along but he graciously declined.

Mom found a vintage white coverlet and I found a vintage fiesta ivory gravy boat.

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~loveliness in a beautifully arranged shop.

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~Seating area in a deli where we ate lunch.

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Fred, more than 50 years old.

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As we left I took a plant!

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~Beautiful vintage fiestaware (I didn’t buy it).

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I LOVE my mom’s eye for things.  She really liked this old oven and opened up everything to figure it out and imagine using it.

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Oh how wonderful it was to have a day with my mom!  I’m so thankful and so blessed.

We shopped until we dropped and then we went home and she made a pork chop dinner!

It was delicious.

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She has sewing and crocheting projects going.  This is a quilt piece she’s working on, inspired by the photo next to it.

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Photo of Uncle Bob and my Dad Greg next to that same shrubbery.

sunday

Sunday was a DELIGHT.  I went to the church I attended all the way up until Rich and I moved away as a young married couple……..and I got there at the same time as my father in law!  He was alone (Leslie was home with Charles) so we sat together.  I cannot even tell you the gratitude I felt as we shared a Bible and enjoyed a church service together, and singing.  I am blessed to be married and born into the most wonderful families.  I could look just across the way at Aunt Colleen sitting with her girls taking notes, and Erika sitting behind them with her husband and sister Elisha.  My cousin Heidi was there with her two young sons, too.

After church I went home with Dad so I could visit with dear Leslie and Charles.  Leslie was just coming inside from caring for her hens.  She was wearing a pink jacket and had an egg from the coop.  She put the tea kettle on and we sat right at the table and had a nice long visit, just the four of us.  Dad gave me a box full of his maple syrup to bring home for the grandchildren’s pancakes and french toast.  Leslie gave me a bar of her homemade soap tied with a ribbon.  And guess what?  It was snowing outside.  Yep, snow at the end of April.  In fact, Grace just texted me to let us know it’s snowing in Pennsylvania right this very minute.

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My father in law built their house. They just finished the back addition and it looks beautiful.  I love the wide plank floors and all the windows.

After goodbye hugs, I drove to Colleen’s house and we went out for lunch together, just the two of us.  The food was delicious and we had a nice long visit as we ate.

Then, we headed back to her house for another hour or so and made homemade snickerdoodle cookies just like when we were little.

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~African Violets in bloom on her kitchen windowsill.

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~A picture she painted of the view outside her childhood bedroom window.

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She had a batch of Uncle Brian’s green salad in the fridge and even though we weren’t hungry we just had to have a spoon of it.  Tastes like our childhood!

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Meghan giving the dogs a treat.

After we got our cookies baked, I had to leave to go back home to Connecticut.  I drove the back roads for a while and then got on the highway.  I drove through some snow, some rain, and the most gorgeous end of the day clouds.  I listened to podcasts on the way home and arrived back to my husband and children at 8pm.

Heart-full and Joy-full.  It’s good to be home.

tuesday morning

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Good Morning!

The pie tasted even better this morning.  I just ate a piece for breakfast.  (more details on instagram).  Sunlight is flooding, FLOODING into the room and it’s glorious.  We’ve finally had warm springtime weather and I spent most of the afternoon yesterday outdoors.  I was looking forward to blogging but as soon as the door slammed behind the children going to school after a long spring break and I was alone in the house for the first time in forever, what did I end up doing?

C L E A N I N G

I turned on the tv and cleaned away to my hearts content asking myself who I was and why and how did I turn into this woman delighting in cleaning when she was alone in her very own nest?

And then, I read my book which is just getting good and un-put-downable, went for a brisk walk, watched the busy birds, and baked a pie.

This morning when the door slammed I grabbed my computer to blog.

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Guess what play Sarah is going to see today?  And guess who was making her laugh while I took her photo?

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*****

The Lord loves you not to-day, Christian, because of anything you are doing, or
being, or saying, or thinking, but he loves you still, because his great heart is full of
love, and it runneth over to you…….. Charles Spurgeon

SaveSave

day in the life……

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One of the things that I’m thankful about regarding Sarah is that she is always willing to snuggle and have “couch time” with mom.  In order to have couch time you need:

  1. a blanket or two
  2. a cat
  3. a good tv show
  4. books
  5. ice cream
  6. hairbrushes

At the end of a busy day, this is bliss.

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She brushed my hair and made it pretty.  I brushed her hair and she, as usual, made complaints.  Her hair has gotten quite long and at 7 years old she’s not very good at taking care of it or keeping it brushed.  She ends up with tangles and this week, pine pitch.  I’m thinking about having it trimmed about five inches to make it more manageable.  In fact, this might be a nice outing for us on this cold rainy and snowy day.

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Good natured Seth, on a Costco trip.

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The black cats we adopted at Christmas time have bonded to yours truly.  They adore me, however, at the sound of footsteps, or doors opening, or unexpected movements, they bolt.  But their purrs are loud and one of them is faithful to curl up on the couch next to me each night.  Unfortunately I cannot tell them apart.  I usually have to ask the children, “Who is this?”

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Amanda came over yesterday with her son Weston and her friend’s daughter Julia.  Sarah had a girl to play with and they wasted no time in doing all they could in two hours.  It was absolutely adorable.

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We talked a mile a minute and made plans and went for a walk with the girlies.

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It’s been cold and I’ve been pouting in the house, having the children do chicken chores.  Two days passed, “no eggs mom” they say cheerfully.  So after Amanda left I trudged to the coop and found 2 dozen.  Hello?  I don’t get it.

They sure are pretty.  One of my favorite antique store purchases in the last year has been this old feed scoop.  It was the only thing I could grab to put the eggs in yesterday. . .

I made the children egg sandwiches for dinner last night and used up 7 of them.

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We had a fire all day and Seth made a hot dog before bed.  He only took one bite before giving it to David, who practically ate the whole thing in one bite.  (little brother/big brother).  Seth is suffering because he had an expander and habit breaker put in the roof of his mouth this week.  He can’t talk and can’t eat and secretly I want to take him right back and have it removed.  But they say it’s for the best and he will get used to it.

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Aren’t burning pinecones lovely?  Mom told me the Indians used them as fire starters so Sarah went down with a bag to gather them on a dry day (which is how she got pine pitch in her hair).

David felt dizzy during the day so I let him drink a Gatorade (reserved for sports practices and meets) and when he was done he threw that in the fire, too, causing me to lecture loudly.  Next thing I found was a metal pipe.  I saw it just as I threw another armful of logs on the fire and David was offended and said “My pipe!”.  “Get the pipe out of the house and stop throwing things on the fire!”  He amuses me and terrifies me.

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At the end of the day and just before couch time with Sarah, David and Seth and I put our feet up on the hearth and chatted and laughed about things together.

It’s been a lonely week without my husband, but having the children home on spring break has made it much better.  He comes home tonight and I found myself putting make up on at 8:00 this morning.

seth almost got to go swimming

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Two evenings ago at around 6 pm I was upstairs peacefully making dinner when Seth ran up from the basement and reported, “There’s a leak downstairs.”

I threw aside everything I was doing and screamed because “leak” is one of those emergency words in the life of a parent.  I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could, with Seth running ahead of me.

In a flash I realized that the water pipe to the hose outside the basement wall had frozen and burst.  I could hear water gushing and see it seeping quickly onto the floor of our finished basement which contained not only a very full storage room and laundry room, but also beds, bookcases, desks, a sectional couch, toy boxes, dressers, a futon, end tables, chairs, throw rugs, a wrestling mat, and all of the children’s stuff that they threw on the floor instead of put away (clothes, shoes, books, garbage).

I called Rich and said, “Rich, Rich, quick tell me how to turn the water off in the house!”  He sputtered, “What?… H?… B?…  Why?…  What’s happening tell me what’s happening?”  I quickly told him and he helped me get the water turned off , said he would be home soon, and we hung up.

(I’ve learned in 22 years of marriage that his “home soon” meant “as soon as I get there” which was not the same thing as my “home soon” which meant, “10 minutes or less”.  In this instance, he did indeed get home in 10 minutes (he was at the school) and I almost fell over in surprise because I thought it would be more like…..whenever he was done with practice).

Thank goodness I was about 3 days behind in laundry and there were approximately 10 dirty bath towels in the laundry room ready to be used as a temporary wall to hold back a most giant alarming puddle from spreading further into the room.

It could have been so much worse.  In fact, I couldn’t help myself from continuing to say over and over and over, “This could have been a DISASTER an absolute DISASTER!  If you boys weren’t in the basement, if you hadn’t run upstairs so fast to tell me, if Dad hadn’t answered his phone, if we weren’t home at the time, the WHOLE BASEMENT WOULD HAVE FLOODED!”

Finally Seth interrupted me to ask in all seriousness, “Could we have gone swimming?”

adventure

We are leaving to take Grace to college on Friday morning.  Jacob will be coming home this weekend while we are gone, to pick up Ethan and take him back to college with him. So we are savoring the last week at home before a very busy weekend.

I’m sitting cross legged on the couch, still in my pajamas.  The kids are playing a game and Parker the dog is stretched out next to me, snoring.  Gentleman Gray is grooming himself on the end table.

We had rain in the night.  The outdoors is fresh and clean and the sun is shining bright.  I ate a piece of pie out on the porch and watched the morning birds fly about.  I saw a hummingbird chase around a titmouse and a bee sipping nectar from a flower in my garden.

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I recently made a pound cake and it turned out so good I thought I would share the recipe.  Click HERE for a yummy Vanilla Bean-Brownie Ripple Pound Cake from Southern Living.  And it used up five eggs so it was a winner in every way.  (I’m always looking for recipes that use up the eggs from our flock of 14 hens).

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I quartered some baby potatoes and fried them with an onion and some peppers.  When they were done, I made a spot for four eggs and cooked them with the lid on until they were just soft in the middle but not gooey in any way (I hate runny eggs).  It was a delicious breakfast and so easy.

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I was gazing at the monarch caterpillars when I saw Gentleman Gray trot by the window with a frog in his mouth, legs every which way.

Cats are funny.

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Ethan spent over an hour yesterday morning learning a new song on the guitar.

It was like he couldn’t stop, he was so focused.

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Why yes, she WAS singing “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?”

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Caleb got his summer reading assignment done.

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Grace and Tessa worked on a puzzle.

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Watching a movie with the kids (Lego Batman).

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The two swallowtail caterpillars finally stopped eating and began the chrysalis stage.  Instead of dangling like the monarchs do, they hang themselves under a stick using a loop of silk.

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And then, like magic, they turn into something that looks just like a stick.

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I recently got this at Goodwill.  “Five little maidens out on the green, Happier maidens never were seen.”

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legs

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I have about 10,000 peaches to take care of thanks to our one and only tree being LOADED this year!  (I made a pie yesterday).

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Grace and I finally got her college preparations done yesterday.  AND manicures and pedicures.

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*****

“The less we are attached to life, the more alive we can become.  The less we have preferences about life, the more deeply we can experience and participate in life.  This is not to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast to blueberry muffins.  It is to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast so much that I am unwilling to get out of bed unless I can have raisin toast, or that the absence of raisin toast ruins the whole day.  Embracing life may be more about tasting than it is about either raisin toast or blueberry muffins.  More about trusting one’s ability to take joy in the newness of the day and what it may bring.  More about adventure than having your own way.”

~Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in Kitchen Table Wisdom

 

sweet boy & sweet cake

The other day a sweet boy who lives here came to me and said,  “Mom, when I was walking to Logan’s house I passed a construction worker on the side of the road picking up garbage,” he paused to self-consciously clear his throat and continued, “I stopped and told him he was doing a great job.”

“The reason why I said that to him was because Cody told me it was the little things like that which make a big difference in a person’s life.”

“When I was almost to Logan’s house, he drove by me in his truck and honked his horn and waved.”

We looked at each other and I saw in his loving eyes it was something that meant a lot to him.   You might say, although he has never been anything like Grinch, “his heart grew three sizes that day”.  His story touched my heart as well, and I’ve thought about it over and over this week.

It’s so strangely beautiful that when doing something for another person you not only bless that person but you also bless yourself.

In fact, this huge concept is something I use in my mothering bag of tricks.  If I notice that the children (some or all) are not getting along with each other I ask them to do “something” (make a sandwich, pick a flower, give a mug of tea) for that particular sibling they aren’t getting along with.  Maybe even give a hug or write a note.  It does wonders in creating smiles, melting hearts, and breaking the tension in the air.

 

******

Cherry Coffee Cake

We explored an old abandoned house last weekend and took away a few recipes cards which we found like garbage upon the messy floor…..this was one of the recipes.

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It is simple and, without any extract, the cake itself tastes nice and buttery.  The cherry pie filling could be switched out for any fruit filling and you could add a touch of cinnamon to the topping, too.  I bought a can of raspberry filling to try next, with maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract added to the cake.  Blueberries would be a nice variation, too, with lemon extract.

It bakes up as a thin cake, so it’s more of a snack (to eat with a mug of hot coffee).  The kids ate it in their hands like a brownie and they all liked it very much.