Monday, December 28, 2009

Blogging Friends Are Such Treasures!!!

Hi Folks!!!  It seems like I picked an awful time to have a giveaway, and people are just now beginning to get back to reading their blogs after the holidays.  SO!  I've decided to extend the giveaway through 10:00 PM Sunday January 10th and I'll pick a winner and announce it sometime on Tuesday the 12th!  Thanks for being patient, Becky


In this last year plus a few weeks, I have 'met' some of the nicest folks through my blogging efforts.  I was welcomed into this community with open arms and appreciate the kindness of so many folks.  I just realized that I have passed the 20,000 visitor mark, and this just still amazes me so much!  To think that I've had so many visits from all over the world to read what I have to say, well, it's very special to me!

And to celebrate, I'm having a little giveaway.  I'm afraid that, due to shipping costs, this will have to be open to US locations only - and you have no idea how much it pains me to have to say that!  But, you international folks mean just as much to me as all the ones around here.

Now, what I'm giving away is . . .

A vintage pressed glass tidbits bowl with a handle.  (I know they have a name, but my mind is drawing a blank right now!)

. . . a cookbook published in 1981, written about an old Atlanta landmark, The Frances Virginia Tea Room.  This cookbook has some great recipes (a good variety), but also has a very nice story along the way as well.

. . . a set of three lavender sachets, made by me.  They are of a very pretty fabric in a deep beige background with lots of greenery and flowers in roses, blues and lavenders.  These are great for lingerie drawers, but are also wonderful for putting into purses you aren't using currently to keep them from getting that musty smell.

That's it!  Although I'm sure that as I find things to add, I'll be adding them along the way.

Now, what do you need to do to enter?  Very simple:

  1. Leave a comment on this post, answering the question I'll be posing below for one entry.
  2. Post on your blog or website about this giveaway, and come back and add a second comment, just to let me know you've posted for a second entry.  You can even use the picture in my righthand column for your blog.
And that is it!  See, I said it was very simple.  The question I want you to answer is very simple as well. 

This morning I was reading a blog and the owner said that for the last few years, instead of making New Years resolutions, she just chose a word that described how she wanted to live the next year.  For 2010 I chose the word 'joyfully', and the phrase 'live joyfully'.  As you will see on my new banner, I am really going to try to 'live life joyfully in 2010'!

My question for you is:  What one or two words would you choose as your goal, motto, etc. for the year 2010??? 

This giveaway will be open through Tuesday, January 5, 2010, with entry cutoff at 9:00 pm.  I will announce the winner by Thursday, January 7th at noon.

And, I'll be back very soon to share bits of our Christmas with you.  It was a wonderful time of food, family and fun!  Until then, you can find out about my biggie gift from hubby HERE!   Blessings, friends!  Becky

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Tale of Twelve Feathers

Those of you who have read my blog for any amount of time know that I love 'my' birds!  I have several feeders, three of which are hanging on hooks on the deck, just a couple of feet outside my office/studio window.  Right now I see a downy woodpecker eating off of the suet feeder, a dark eyed junco sitting on the deck rail, a Carolina wren eating dropped seeds off the deck, and several titmice, nuthatches and chickadees eating off the other feeders.  I LOVE my birds!

And one of my favorite things to do is 'rescue' birds who have gone astray.  You see, we have a very tiny screened porch right off the breakfast room and dining room.  It is probably less than 6' wide and maybe 9 feet long.  We long ago took the screen door off the hinges because it was too much trouble opening and closing two doors to let the girls out.  So, from time to time birds get into the screened porch and can't find their way out.  That makes my dogs go crazy, and thus calls for a rescue operation!  I have held goldfinches, a dove, a cardinal, titmice, a dark eyed junco, and I can't remember what else, but you get my point.  For me to be able to hold these gorgeous things in my hands is such a joy!  Holding a cardinal was a precious gift, because they are so scary and don't normally let humans get close enough to them to be caught.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago the girls started barking and I knew that bark.  I looked out the door, and sure enough there was a female cardinal on the screened porch and she couldn't find her way to the door.  I made the girls move back and I quietly went outside.  I started talking to her, and she just lost it, fluttering back and forth, up and down, trying to fnd the exit.  I inched my way closer to her, talking calmly, telling her she didn't need to be afraid of me, I'd done this before and I hadn't hurt anyone yet.  Yet!  She went down on the floor and tried to get out a small hole in the screen,  (Insert note here, the bottom half of the porch has screen on the inside and lattice on the outside.) but it wasn't big enough and she apparently was stuck.

I reached down to get her, and barely grasped her tail feathers, and she bolted!  Out of my hand, and out of the door, leaving all 12 of her tailfeathers in my hand.  I almost cried!  What was I going to do.  Shoot!  What was SHE going to do!  I brought the feathers into the office and got on the internet.  No problem, they will grow back in about 6 weeks.  They lose them regularly anyway, just not all at one time!

So, I tied up the twelve tail feathers with a ribbon and keep them on my work table.  I don't know what they are supposed to remind me of, except maybe the one that got away!   Or maybe that sometimes it's okay to lose something you think is vitally important in order to let something better grow back in it's place.

But the very next day I was sitting here at my desk and looked out and a gorgeous male cardinal was sitting on the frame underneath our deck table.  It was raining (of course!) and he was staying dry, but just a few feet away, there she was, with her little stub of a tail, eating away, and being watched carefully by her man.  And I do mean carefully, because he sat there until she was full and they both flew away.  So even though she looked different, her man still loved her very much.

And yes, next time there's a bird that needs rescuing, I'll be there to do it.  I just won't grab the tail feathers again!  Have a great weekend friends!  Blessings, Becky

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Promises, Promises!

Good Morning Friends!  Where to start! Well, I guess the obvious place to start is that I was up earlier than usual this morning. Last night I was really tired, and went to bed early and slept well (big surprise!), so I woke up and decided to come and check on all my blogging friends. (By the way, what is it about this age I’m in now {late 50’s} that doesn’t allow a person a good night’s sleep???)

Anyway, I was in here blogging away and looked out the window to see a really eerie sunrise - all pinks and oranges and kind of hazy. Now, that I could even tell that the sun was rising at all was a wonderful thing! The last time we saw the sun in these parts was last Thursday, and even then it was really cold and got cloudy as the day went on. And today is Wednesday, so it’s been almost a week since the sun has shone here.

A little while later I went to put ‘the girls’ out for their morning barking fest to do their business, and noticed something. The sun was beginning to come up, and while it wasn’t yet visible beyond the horizon, it’s rays were reaching up into the trees, and there was a gorgeous glow all around the house.

And then it struck me! That glow held such promise! Promise of a day with some sunshine, of a day when I could look out and see some blue sky. Promise of a good day, with opportunities to do all kinds of things within this span of time I was given. And as I pondered this idea of the day’s promise, another thought took it’s place. A thought that filled my heart with such joy!

He, this Savior of ours, came as a tiny little baby, fulfilling a promise made ages ago, and yet His coming also generated many more promises! Promises of love, of hope, of forgiveness. Promises that every single one of us can cling to, and rejoice in their truth and goodness. And although many people make promises they can’t or won’t keep, He will keep his promises. We can put our faith in Him, because He will not fail or forget us! That’s what Christmas is really all about! Promise. Hope. Life. Eternity. And I for one will try to keep my focus there, and to rejoice in the goodness of promises!

Have a great day.  Blessings friends! Becky

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some People . . .

 . . . just love stirring up trouble!  And that's why I've had to once again start using word verification for comments.  I've recently started getting comments from folks trying to sell something - sometimes it's okay things, but other times it's wierd stuff that I don't want my friends reading.  These 'ad comments' are computer generated and unwanted, but can be stopped by using the word verification!  So, I'm sorry to my friends, because this of course means you'll have to go the extra step and do word verification before your comment can be posted to my blog.  Please don't let this stop you from posting - please!  I love your comments and read every single one!!!

Thank you so much for understanding.  Now, I'm off to wash about a gazillion dishes and pick up around the house!  If I get finihed with that in time, I may even make a batch of cookies.  Or maybe not!   Becky

Monday, December 14, 2009

Busy Enjoying Life!

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted . . . almost a week, can you believe it! But you know, I guess I've been following my own advice and enjoying this Christmas season!

One way I've been enjoying the season is from the decision I made to do less decorating. For the last few years I've gone all out, even to having 4 trees and lots of decorations and even made Christmas toppers for my kitchen windows. But this last couple of years has been awfully hard, and now that I'm trying to learn how to live my life without the stress of caring for my Dad, I've decided it's more important to do less and enjoy more. Doesn't that make sense???

Our tree this year - forgive the weird bow on top ~ I've got more ribbon to add to it, but haven't gotten it done yet!

So, last week was neat. On Thursday my hubby took his last vacation days and I had to leave the house so that he could wrap my Christmas gifts from him. I left the house @ 9:40 and didn't get home again until almost 8 pm! I took my mom shopping, and to run some errands, and then we went to my aunt's house for a visit. She had brought us some goodies back from her trip to Connecticut, and wanted us to come get them and see their house decorated for Christmas.

On Friday, hubby was home, too, and we had planned on going riding in the mountains to get some greenery for the house, but it was really cold and rainy, so we decided to stay home. I worked in my office/studio all day, going through most of my paper crafting supplies and reorganizing and trying to make room for the new Cricut I'm getting for Christmas.

One of my favorite ornaments - a hand painted Santa on oyster shell that I bought in Port Renfrew, a town on Victoria Island in British Columbia.

Saturday morning, hubby went to work for a few hours - a problem had come up on Friday and he wanted to go straighten it out before Monday. That evening we had a 'date', and went to a new Japanese restaurant in our area 'Kani House'. Japanese food (hibachi) is one of my favorite cuisines,and their food was very good! I rarely get to have Japanese food any more ~ since we moved to the boonies, so this was a great treat for me.

Another favorite ornament - a pair of mukluks from Ketchikan, Alaska.

On Sunday we were really bad! Seriously, we broke down and opened our joint gift for each other! We got a Nintendo Wii game system, and we spent most of Sunday afternoon playing with it - so much fun! We played the Sports Resort game, and just loved it! Bowling is my favorite, but I also love the canoeing and swordplay. If you don't have any experience with one, you really should check it out. The games, at least the ones we played, are made so you have to really 'play' the sport, and you get your heart rate up, and sometimes work up a good sweat. We wanted it to get us up off our rears, and I think it's going to do that just fine! And we're in our late 50's, and in bad shape, so if we can do it, most anyone can, too!

Another favorite, but I don't know why except that it speaks to my love of birds. There's no real sentimental value to it at all.

So, now it's Monday and hubby is back at work. I've been doing laundry all day, scanning some old pictures so I can print them out, and playing a bit on the Wii. I'm going to make copies of pictures of the family for my brother and his sons for Christmas. I hope they will mean something to them, but . . . with them, you never know.

Yes, Rebecca, there is a Santa Claus! This is my stack of gifts from my hubby. Every single one of them! He says 3-4 of them are stocking overflow, but I don't see how! There is no way he'll have this many, although he will have a good Christmas. Note the gift on bottom right - that's the Cricut, lol!

Another favorite ornament - this one was bought at The Mole Hole shop in Naples, Florida, hence the sailboat!

Three more favorite ornaments ~ The white poodle is to remind me of my little Max, a poodle I had some years ago. I don't think you can tell, but it has angel wings! The old teardrop ornament was one of several a former neighbor gave me. There was a whole box full of them, many broken, and she was putting them in the garbage. I threatened her with her life (not really) and she gave them to me instead. I still have 8-12 of them. And the German pickle ornament from the Germany pavilion at Epcot Center.

Here is my mantle with it's simple decorations this year. The nativity set we've had since our first Christmas together, our stockings, and the banner that I made. I cut trees and stars out of "Joy to the World" Christmas carol sheet music (you can find it HERE) that I printed on ivory cardstock. I put sprigs of greenery and berries on the trees, and vintage clip art pics of birds and holly on the stars, highlighted with Stickles. I put gold German glass glitter around the outer edges of all the pieces. I threaded them together on a shimmery off white organza ribbon.

For the letters J, O and Y, I printed them out with a basic font the size I wanted, cut them out with a craft knife, leaving the paper around it intact like a stencil. I brushed glue onto the stencil, removed it and spread the letters with the gold glitter.

Another project I'm really proud of is my lace tree that is under the cloche on my dining room table.

I saw this idea on a blog (I'm so sorry I can't remember who's it was!) and knew when I saw it that it would work perfectly for some lace I had. I bought it this past summer at an estate sale between Helen and Cleveland, GA. There were 4 pieces of @ 1 yard each, in two designs. They are hand tatted lace, and I was afraid to cut them because they would ravel, so this was the perfect use for them.

I put a bow of a gold colored seam binding ribbon holding three vintage skeleton keys on top of the cloche, tied around the knob on top.

I tore a strip of fabric as close to the color of the lace as I had in my stash, twisted and turned it until it covered a styrofoam cone. I pinned it into place with straight pins. Then I took the first piece of lace, winding it around the cone, pinning it here and there along the way. And I repeated it with the next two strips of lace. For the fourth strip of lace, I kind of wound it loosely like a garland.

Then I took old buttons and jewelery, as well as beads and bells (mostly gold tone or deep red) and stuck them into the foam with wire.

Then I put it onto a footed cake plate, placed green moss around the bottom, along with a few silk poinsettias, topped it with the cloche and keys, and it was done! I still want to put something on top, but I haven't found just the right thing yet. It makes a great everyday centerpiece for my dining room table when it's not in use.

So, as you can see, I've been enjoying this Christmas season so far! And that is my Christmas wish for each and every one of you - that you will enjoy yourself, your family and friends this season. Have fun together, leave the stresses and drama somewhere else for a while!

Blessings folks! Becky

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Enjoy Your Life!

My husband called me from work yesterday and read the quote below to me over the phone. He had received an e-mail from a co-worker in another state, and this was below his signature, I suppose it is his favorite saying. The words touched me so that I asked hubby to forward the e-mail to me. These words pretty much say it all:


Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets,
so love the people who treat you right,
{pray for and then . . . } forget about the ones who don’t,
and believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it.
If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.
'Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
Speak kindly. And enjoy your life.'
{Note, I added the 'pray for and then . . .' before 'forget those who don't', because I believe we should pray for them.}
Enjoy your life. How can you enjoy your life if you aren't forgiving and hold onto hurt and anger and grudges for far too long. How can you enjoy your life if you never take a chance, never allow change to happen in you, and never try anything new.
Some people never let go of a grudge. My mother is one of those. She is still angry with a friend over something the friend did more than 40 years ago. What she did was wrong, but I'm sure she's forgotten all about it. Holding onto this isn't hurting the friend, it's only hurting my mother, but I can't make her understand that. She is stealing her own joy - and how sad is that!
I am not a grudge holder, it's just not who I am. When something keeps swirling in my head that bothers me - things like hurt, anger or regrets - I lift up a prayer and ask God to take that away from me, and replace it with peace. And do you know what??? He does! Our Father doesn't like to see us hurting or stewing over something like hurt feelings, and all we have to do is ask sincerely and He will take it from us and cast it away where it belongs - into the sea of forgetfulness. God wants us to live a joyful life, and even with trials, there are still so many things that can show us glimpses of JOY.
Today I am finding JOY in the little things. Things like the chilly rain that is making the birds work like beavers at my feeders. I've had two Downy Woodpeckers and a Carolina Wren fighting over one suet cake - so much fun! Things like finishing up my simple decorations, and maybe making a batch of ginger cookies later today. I'm also finding JOY in remembering why we celebrate this season.
So, where are you finding your JOY today??? Blessings, Becky

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Shivery Sunday Calls for Soup!!!

Whew! What a weekend it's been - weather wise, anyway! Yesterday (Sat.) morning I woke up to sleet, but within 30 minutes or so it was snowing. We had snow for about 2 hours and then it stopped. By 11 am the sky was almost cleared and a watery sun was shining through. Then this morning we got up to a chilly 25 degrees, and it barely made it out of the 3o's all day.

Here are a couple of pics of my frost bitten knockout roses . . .

The poor things were icy! So that's the last of the bloomers until my camellia blooms, and it won't be long, because it's already showing bits of pink in the buds. Maybe we can have a bouquet on the table for Christmas dinner???

Anyway, we stayed inside and I made a batch of cranberry orange muffins - yummy! And then this afternoon I made another one of our favorite soups - Corned Beef Soup. My mother 'invented' this recipe many years ago, probably from desperation. We didn't have much, and I imagine she had a can of corned beef and some potatoes and carrots, and she turned it into soup. Little did she know it would be an immediate hit and that we both would still be making it probably 45 years or so later! Here is the recipe:

~Peel and dice a large onion - about 2 to 2 1/2 cups diced.

~To a large soup pot (at least 6 quarts) add 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons canola oil, heat to medium high heat and add the onions. Stir and allow to cook until almost tender.

~Now add your vegetables:

  • 5 - 6 medium sized potatoes peeled and diced. Enough to make about 4-5 cups diced. (I used russet because that's what I had!)
  • 8 - 10 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Enough to make about 3 - 4 cups.
  • 3 - 4 stalks of celery diced. Enough to make about 1 to 1 1/2 cup diced.
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I start with less and add more if needed later).
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 nice large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes - about 1/2 teaspoon. You can add more or use less, depending on your tolerance for heat. This was not very warm, so I ended up adding a couple of dashes of Texas Pete for a little more spice.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

~Bring to a boil. Add more water if you think it needs it to cover the veggies. I used about 5 cups total plus the broth.

~Stir well and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

~Add the can of corned beef. You will find this in the canned meats area of your grocery, near the chili and good old Spam! Most of the canned corned beef is from Brazil. As you cook it, the corned beef will cook down, so there's no need to chop it up unless you want to.

~Return to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer for about one to two hours or until the veggies are tender.

And there you have a delicious, warm, good for you and filling bowl of soup. Doesn't it look pretty in my Christmas dishes???

As I said before, this is one of our very favorite soups, and tonight hubby ate about 3 bowls full, followed by a couple of fresh cranberry orange muffins. Both are very good winter comfort foods!
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make it, please let me know! Have a great week, Becky

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Twenty Six Christmases

This Christmas will be the twenty sixth that I've shared with this man . . .

We started dating in April of 1984, and I wasn't sure what Christmas would hold. I had moved home with my parents in very early 1984 because my dad was having major surgery and Mama needed a helping hand. Let's be real, here. I could always do more with Daddy than Mama could, and she needed someone there he would listen to! All my furniture and such were stowed away in a storage unit until the time when I cold once again move out on my own. I was, after all, almost 32 years old!

Anyway, my now hubby and I had been dating a while, and were talking about the future, and I was spending much more time at his condo than I was at home. But when Christmas started approaching, he wouldn't talk about decorating his condo. He just didn't see the point.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I left work early, went to the storage unit and dug out my Christmas decorations, went and bought a tree, took it all to his condo and started decorating. He came home and started helping me. I created a monster! The next Christmas we were married, and he was the first one to bring up the decorating topic. And the gift giving topic. Man, is he a great Christmas gift-giver!

You see, we don't do a lot most of the year. Usually there's something small for birthdays, and we'll do something special for our anniversary, but Christmas is when we really do it up. I have a wonderful husband in many ways - but I can honestly say he is one in a bazillion when it comes to Christmas.

He starts asking for ideas in, oooohhhh, August or September. And he shops, and looks around, asks for updates on the list of ideas, and he really puts a lot of thought and effort into the process. And then he saves a day of vacation, and about 10 days to 2 weeks before Christmas he stays home, runs me out of the house, and wraps each and every gift himself, using lots and lots of tape! He also fills my stocking and fills the top with tissue paper so I can't peek. Most years I have between 7 and 12 gifts to open. I try to compete with him, but it's hard to keep up!

A few years ago I could tell he was more excited than usual. I had a feeling he'd gotten me a new laptop PC because mine was dying a slow and unnatural death, but would that make him that excited??? On Christmas morning we take turns opening gifts. Whoever has the most packages starts first, then the other opens and so forth. My next to last gift was the laptop. But there was still one box for me to open.

He made me open a card first. It was so sweet, and it said "I've never found anything that sparkles as much as you do, until now. I love you," I started crying. I mean, how romantic is that?!? I opened the box, and it was a gorgeous white gold and diamond ring, and man, did that ring sparkle! Of all the wonderful Christmases we've shared, I'll probably remember that one most because of how much thought and love he put into that gift. He used the little bit of money he got after his dad died to buy a ring for me. {sigh}

This year is much the same, except on a smaller budget. We have gone in 'together' and gotten a Wii and a couple of games for us both, but it's packed up and we can't open it until Christmas morning. I've got him shoes, clothes, oldies CD's, and a few 'toys'. He's got me a Cricut (so excited!) and a few things I won't know about until Christmas morning. But, do you know that after 26 Christmases together, I can honestly say that he, this dude in the funky pictures above, is the most incredible gift of them all. I am one blessed and grateful woman.

Merry Christmas, friends! Becky

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Visit with Mildred . . .

I had the sweetest comment/invitation on my last post from Bennie and Patsy. They had shared my blog with their readers, and plan on highlighting different blogs the first of each month. That was so sweet of them, and I'm definitely adding them to my blog roll as soon as I finish here!

And in the spirit of their invitation, I'd like to invite you to visit my friend, Mildred at Mildred's Menagerie. The picture above is of Mildred's sweet Dachshund, Harriet, who is one of the members of the menagerie at Mildred's house. Mildred tells stories of times ~ and things ~ gone by, and I'm always learning something new from her.

I chose Mildred to share with you because she holds a special place in my heart. She lives probably 35 miles (more or less) from me, and she even knew and bought flowers from my sweet Daddy before he passed in September, but yet she and I haven't met face to face! I hope it will happen one day, though!

So, enjoy visiting Mildred today, and go and visit Bennie and Patsy, too - while you are out! Blessings friends, Becky