Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Book Offering Useful Hints and Helpful Ideas

A few years ago, Gail Greco wrote a book titled, "New Secrets of Entertaining", tips from America's Best Innkeepers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and discovered many helpful and fun tips. Who better to learn from than America's best innkeepers? Under the heading of "coffee perks", I learned that, "Scents of cinnamon drift through the house when the coffee brews at Ash Mill Farm. One-quarter of a teaspoon of the spice is added to a ten-quart pot of coffee. This gives the coffee a nice flavor and cuts down on the bitterness. All of our guests think the coffee is a special blend. Add your own amount of cinnamon, according to taste." The Ash Mill Farm ----Another idea I have used, "For a pretty tea plate, dig up a violet from the yard and put it in a little crock(or a votive holder) on the plate with the tea treats. The plants survive nicely in the house for several days and can then be replanted in the garden." Sage Cottage ----From the Lanaux House, I was reminded of, "A warm, sparkling smile outshines any decor or cuisine." Just a few tips and reminders from a special book. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Lovely Birthday Brunch

I was totally surprised this weekend by an unexpected visit from my daughter, who lives in Texas. With the help of my other two daughters, they pulled it off, without me even having a clue. She walked into the brunch that my mother had planned for me. Here is one of my mom's signature dishes, a bowl of finely cut up fresh fruit. It looked so beautiful and tasted every bit as good.

This picture is a real treasure to me because it includes all of my daughters and granddaughters. It is a rare occasion when we are together. In this photo, I am still trying to grasp how this happened without me knowing it.

My dear mother, the true hostess. One cannot begin to count the number of meals she has hosted in her lifetime. And, like always, we all felt blessed to be invited to another one of her brunches.

My granddaughter helping me blow out my candles.

Pink tulips to coordinate with the soft pink walls of her home. The tablescape was so pretty.

Here I am with my two sisters, who are very good at keeping secrets too. Yes, in case you are wondering, I am the oldest in my family. What a very special 55th birthday I had! Unfortunately, my two sister-in-laws were out of town for the weekend, and could not be here to celebrate. Truly for me, this rare happening was the best thing I could have hoped for, on my birthday weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Heartfelt Sentiments

After the surprise of yesterday's blog posting, and after getting over the fact that a picture like the one my daughter posted, existed and was shared with blogland, and after being blessed with an overwhelming amount of birthday wishes...I want to express to each and every one of you, my heartfelt thanks. Your kind and caring words and birthday wishes, were so special to me. I guess turning "55" isn't so bad after all. Thank you Jeane' for that meaningful tribute that you gave to me. As for me, my thoughts on this day, can best be summed up in a brief article I read recently. It is titled "Growing Older" by Dale Evans Rogers. It is sincerely the prayer of my heart as I face the next segment of my life. "Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older, and will someday be old. Keep me, from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from the craving to try and straighten out everybody's affairs. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details--give me wings to get to the point. I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of other's pains. Help me endure them with patience. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains. They are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint--some of them are so hard to live with--but a sour old woman(or man) is one of the crowning works of the devil. Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it; but thou knowest, Lord, I want a few friends in the end. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so." "Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty--they merely move it from their faces into their hearts." Author unknown -picture from "Country Living" magazine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just A Little Surprise!

I will probably be taken out of the will for this, but it's a risk I'm willing to take!

This is Jeane`, Judy's eldest daughter writing. Under normal circumstances I would never dare to even think of taking advantage of my knowledge of mom's blog password...but this month is not normal.

March commemorates 2 things...one, mom's year long anniversary of her foray into blogging AND on March 27th, the day she blessed the world with her presence just a few years ago! :)

I found these pictures from 1996, taken while on weekend vacation with her family. In it, she is attempting something she had never done before (at least to my knowledge!) and it captivated all her little nieces and nephews, as their facial expressions will attest to! It reminded me of her willingness, even if it takes a little time, to venture out and try something new. Like blogging.

I am so very proud of you, mom, and the way you pour your heart and God-given creative spirit into this art form you have delved into this past year. And yes, I do believe that the blogging that mom and so many of you, her treasured friends and fellow bloggers, create on a weekly basis are indeed artistic expressions to be admired!

This Friday, we will celebrate Mom's birthday! Again, I know she'll cringe initially upon reading this entry and may be embarrassed that I disclosed this information, as she is a rather private person and prefers the attention OFF herself. However, as her daughter, I felt led to do this. Feel free to leave a little birthday wish if you should so wish! We always receive "just a little something from Judy"...and now I'd like to give her just a little something from me (and perhaps you!).

Incidently, the picture below is very recent. It MIGHT (but only a slim chance) get me back into the will (in which I would inherit a mighty extensive tin collection!)...stay tuned. :)

Sunday Afternoon Fun

A cousin's rare get-together on the farm, Sunday afternoon.

Two girl cousins with the same name, became good friends.

  • Don't worry...this little four wheeler goes real slow, did not leave the backyard, and Uncles were right there with them...but, the joy was obvious for these young guys."Recipe for Preserving Children
    1 large grassy field
    1/2 dozen children
    2 - 3 small dogs
    A pinch of brook or pebbles Mix children and dogs well together and put them in field, stirring constantly. Pour brook over pebbles; sprinkle field with flowers; spread under a deep blue sky and bake in the sun. When brown, remove and set to cool in a bathtub." Author unknown

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The "Very Fashionable" Grandma's Apron

A month or so ago, I was having a lengthy talk with my sister-in-law. You see, we are now both empty nesters. We are at a point in our lives where we, like many of you, are looking for new direction, and new avenues of interest. She, my dear sister-in-law is one of the most talented, creative and skilled people that I know. Her mother is a seamstress, and passed the ability onto her daughter. For years she won awards in the local 4-H clubs, sewing beautiful outfits, modeling them in fashion shows, and receiving compliments every time she would wear them. The workmanship was always perfectly done. As her children were growing up, she made them clothing that resembled those purchased at expensive boutiques. As the children became teenagers, her sewing skills were put on the back burner. Soccer games, basketball games, transporting children, many parties of teenagers became the norm. Those years are past now. At this empty nest stage, I suggested that she should somehow, in some capacity, resume the sewing skills.

Both of us grew up with mothers and grandmas that wore aprons in the kitchen. Both of us love to bake, cook and have people to our homes for meals. I told her that she should create an apron that we would feel comfortable wearing for the evening, when having guests to our homes. Well...that conversation took place as I said, about a month or two ago. Last week I went to her home, only to discover that she had run with the idea...and did she ever run!! Look at these GORGEOUS aprons and matching tea towels that she created. I was speechless!! Who wouldn't want to wear one of these? The workmanship is so meticulously done, the colors are so perfectly coodinated, and the patterns that she chose(or in some cases made up on her own), are so very flattering! What would our Grandmas say if they saw these aprons? Oh, they would have been so very excited to wear something so beautiful.

I ordered these from her, and it just so happens that I am a black and white person. That is why I chose all of the black and white ones that she had made. She also made ten other ones that are equally as outstanding, in many different colors and patterns. Some vintage, some more contempory and some that resemble beautiful pastel sundresses. I cannot tell you how impressed and amazed I was when I visited her home last week and saw what she had produced in such a short amount of time. I will tell you now why I ordered the three aprons that I did. First of all, I wanted to be the one to give her the first order of aprons. I decided to use these for my three pay-it-forward gifts that I am committed to in this blogging world. These three aprons and the coodinating tea towels, will be sent out to the three women that I owe the pay-it-forward gifts to. She will be featuring these aprons in gift shops in our area, and I know for a fact that any women who gets one, will wear it proudly. "Aprons by Julia" came to be.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday's Wedding

Our youngest daughter's first attempt at creating a wedding cake(with the help of her pastry chef). The bride chose this cake, and I must admit it looks fairly close to the picture she was given. The roses are created out of the fondant, and I think they look real. We were proud of her finished product.

My nephew, his lovely bride and their grandma. What a beautiful wedding it was! Having my husband's family together again was a real blessing. It was the first in almost three years.

The adorable flower girls.

All of the girl cousins except two, one being the flower girl and the other, our middle daughter who was unable to attend due to distance and schedule. We all missed her!

My dear friend of many years, was the florist for the wedding. She did an outstanding job! Here is one of the centerpiece bouquets at the reception. All of her creations, whether it was the bright pink roses that the bridesmaids carried, or the white flowers of the reception, were perfectly done. The day was a memorable one for all of us, as we celebrated the wedding of these two very special people.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Instant Friends

Instant friends...relatives by birth... they live worlds apart from each other...brought together this weekend because of a family wedding. For the youngest one...the admiration was immediate...for the oldest one the care and concern was obvious.

Worms...bugs...whatever they found, was of interest. Notice the little hand on the bigger arm. What you can't see, is the boots on the wrong feet of the youngest one caused by the haste at which he found himself in, when presented with the idea of going outside to play.

The memories...the joys...and the influence...were all discovered in one morning's encounter.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Collection of Tins

Many years ago on a visit out of state, I purchased a tin of mints at a gift shop. They had a picture on the top of the place that I was visiting. I thought to myself, that it would be a reminder to me of my visit, each time I would have a mint. That was the beginning. I never started out thinking I would collect tins, it just happened. Now years later, I find myself with this unique and very special collection of tins, from all over the world. Most of them are given to me by family and friends. This shelf is designated for the tins from institutions, states, resorts and countries. I am so very blessed by those in my life, who think of me in their travels and visits, by bringing a tin home for me. I am amazed at the number of small tins that have been produced in this country and abroad, creating a much bigger collection than I ever envisioned when I purchased my first tin of mints.

In my curio cabinet, I have the tins categorized in groupings. This shelf contains "The Disney" tins, the "Dilbert"tins, the"Mary Engelbeit" tins, the "Dr. Seuss, Cat in the Hat" tin, and other colorful and unusual tins.This shelf is reserved for the "old, and very old" tins. The "Schimmelpenninck" tin that held 20 cigars, the "Phillips' Milk of Magnesia" tablets, the tin that held" OXO" cubes(that were used to improve soups, gravies, and etc.... So many of the tins include stories with them that make them even more special. Like the little white "Good Food" tin, I found with a note laying on the mat at my front door one day. The note was from a friend that had visited our home a year or two ago, and he remembered my tin collection, when he found an old tin at his business, while cleaning out some desks. The note and the tin at my front door, were proof once again, that little acts of kindness, sure do make lasting impressions.

Yes, dear friends, sadly to say this is my acquired tin collection over the course of many years, thanks to all of my family and friends. I treasure each and every one...even the" Yip-Yap" tin of breath fresheners for dogs, from my counsin Jenni.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Karen's Toffee Delight

I do not who Karen is, but what I do know is that this recipe is outstanding! It is for you if...you like sweet and salty together...if you are not counting calories...if you want to give a gift to someone that you are trying to get to like you(this will work)...or if you have family coming in from out of state, for the weekend and you want a "welcome home" gift for them.

Since this recipe did not copy clearly, I will give you the ingredients and the instructions here; 1 and 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers, 2 sticks of butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 bag milk chocolate chips, 1/2 bag peanut butter chips. Preparation; Put oven rack in highest position, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 x 18 pan with sides with aluminum foil. Then cover with saltine crackers. In a separate pot, melt butter and add brown sugar, let simmer for four minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over crackers, spread until crackers are covered. Put in oven for 9 minutes. Remove from oven.

Cover with milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. Let sit for two minutes, then smooth with spatula.

Put in refrigerator for two hours. Then break apart. STORE IN FREEZER. Karen has a note with this, "be careful not to eat it all before it hits the plate."

Would this help you to feel welcomed home after not being home for three years?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day To You!

Today, you just may have looked in the mirror and felt like things may not have been right...skin not perfect, neck not like it used to be, hair not doing what you wished that it would, eyes drooping,...creating a feeling of discouragement in you. Well, this guy could help with your situation...he's happy and look at him posing so proudly on the rock, despite all that he has to deal with each day...

and maybe you feel like you really are in need of a manicure, and(or) pedicure...

...or you are feeling like your personality is at times, the prickly type personality where it seems like you rub everyone the wrong way...

...or at times it seems like you just blend in with the scenes around you, and you get the feeling that no one even notices that you exist...

...or you might be feeling like with your personality, you stand out too much in a crowd. That your personality is too bold and colorful...

Whatever your look today, and whatever your personality, hopefully today you will be reminded that there is only one of "you". You were created for a very special reason and no one else can fulfill your purposes here on earth. If you need any reinforcement in this area, read Psalms 139.

These "interesting" creatures were photographed by my Uncle in his trip to Aruba. Hopefully, they will add something of interest to your St. Patrick's Day fun, and will remind you to celebrate your uniqueness...the qualities that make "you" special.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Spring Centerpiece

This is the simple centerpiece that I used this weekend;
Two small Primrose plants, a crystal bowl of water, tea light candles with the silver holders removed, a few floating baubles, and some friends around your table...what could be better?

"Do not be overly concerned with the interior of your home, it's the inside of your heart that your quests will remember." Ann Platz

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today's Bridal Shower At The Old School

Today I attended a lovely bridal shower for my nephew's future bride. It was given by her bridesmaids and it was held in a quaint, very old one room schoolhouse.

Here is a picture of the beautiful bride-to-be and her bridesmaid, which just happens to be my dear neice. All aspects of the shower were so enjoyable. The bride-to-be added such grace and warmth to the atmosphere of this party. I think my nephew is a fortunate guy.

Much to the delight of my little granddaughter, she discovered for the first time, what a blackboard and chalk were. She was so very enamored with this new found operation. She spent so much time making as many little marks on the big board, as her 1 1/2 year old fingers could do. I loved seeing her in this role, because it brought back many memories to me of my elementary school days. So very much has transpired since those days of my life. Here I am ...now a grandmother watching this little girl standing before a chalkboard, just as I did in first grade. Truly, it was a nostalgic moment for me.

I really enjoyed spending the afternoon in this old school. Not many changes had taken place over the years. Oh yes, the walls had a fresh coat of paint, but the wooden floors and doors were all from long ago. Something as simple as a blackboard and chalk, was enough to occupy her for a good portion of the afternoon.

Decorating the table was a gorgeous bouquet of pink roses in a crystal vase. Just the right touch to add a bit more charm to today's bridal shower.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Magazines, Flowers, Photography and Time To Relax

Magazines, flowers, photography and time to relax, are just a few of my favorite things in life. One of the magazines I am always drawn to, is" Country Living", British Edition. The photography in this magazine is so outstanding. I have a problem in that I find it very difficult to get rid of the past copies of this magazine from the last few years. If I do pass the magazine on, I always save at least one or two of the pages I like most.

This quiet, beautiful Saturday afternoon, I thought I would share four of the pages I have saved in my huge white notebook.

Some fortunate person will receive this bouquet of flowers.
I can almost feel the relaxation and smell the sweet floral smells in this lovely setting. A good friend, a hot cup of coffee, and hours to share... In reality, the laundry needs to be completed and the muffins need to be baked. I wish each of you my blogging friends contentment and joy throughout the rest of your weekend.


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