Wednesday, March 30, 2011

As you know, last week was my birthday and what a special week it was.  As you also know, my blog has always offered "just a little something for you", however little it may be.  I love to create gifts for others.  Something that reminds me of the recipient and something that lets them know I care.  Last Saturday evening I found a big shopping bag at my front door.  I lifted the very heavy bag into my foyer and here is what I found in it...a bag filled with old issues of "Victoria" magazines.  I knew exactly which friend had left it for me.  My friend Heidi and I had spent time during the years that our children attended the same school, browsing through antique and flea markets. One of the items I spent time looking for, was past issues of "Victoria" or "Country Living" magazines, with the intent of using them to create some homemade cards.  I don't scrapbook but I do enjoy creating cards for my family and friends. 
We haven't done our browsing for quite a long time,  so you can imagine how surprised and pleased I was to have this package at my door along with some of her own artistically made cards.  You see, that is how gifts work for me, they add unexpected joy and delight that someone, somewhere was thinking about me and what I like.  Whether it is one's birthday or not, tiny, "thinking of you" gifts or cards are always the perfect way to share your heart thoughts with other.

While my husband was watching March Madness, I went through each and every magazine, cutting out every beautiful picture I found.  Above is one of the pictures that I thought would make a nice, elegant looking card.  I restocked my basket thanks to my friend's fun discovery.

Another pretty picture that went in my file.

The chocolate covered eggs that have been produced in another friend's kitchen for many years, ones that she is famous for, I discovered at my back door.

I cut one in half so that you could see for yourself what the delicious centers look like.

Really, I am convinced that it is not the gifts, it is the giver caring enough to say, "I care".  Whether old magazine issues, homemade muffins, chocolates from your kitchen, or a card with written sentiments, in the middle of a somewhat ordinary week, it is all part and parcel of  having a small part in making others lives happier.
I want so much to bless others, like I have been blessed.

I read a well written post on Tuesday, March 22 on "Wrapped and Ready".  Suzanne did a great job on expressing her sentiments in regards to giving.  I thought as I read the post, that we think alike in this aspect of life.  She just did a better job in expressing her heart.  The blog is ""  I recently discovered her blog and enjoy my visits there.  You may want to pay her a visit.

Thanks for visiting here today.  You all are blessings to me!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My dear friend gave me this magnet for my refrigerator.  What an important message for me to remember as my life has been so blessed with many little ones, in the last few years.    Today, I am sharing a few of the beautiful creations that are in my life today...

I see them each as miracles...little artistic creations fashioned by The Designer.
Old fashion pink roses that I received for my birthday, adding the best aroma to my kitchen...

These brilliantly colored flowers that keep multiplying in my planter, with their little faces lifted toward the sun.  The detail on them always amazes me...

This precious picture I received in a Picasa Album yesterday.   My little granddaughter who I wish lived nearby.  Love this picture that her mother captured during the weekend...

...And last but not least, this happy, somewhat mischievious, smile makes my day every time I see it.
No matter what today holds, these little blessings will be treasured.
Wishing you some specially designed, little blessings to get you through your day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today, for nostalgic reasons, I was reading back through the carefully and lovingly written baby book that my mother kept for me.

In a simple, vintage way, without fanfare, it was stated..."A baby girl arrives".

With a colorful, vintage style baby announcement card it was shared with family and friends that I indeed had arrived.  My mother tells the story that she grew up with seven brothers (she was the oldest), and up until the moment that I was born, her doctor assured her that her little BOY would soon be arriving.  Thus, the fact that I was their first baby and I turned out being a little girl, she was elated.

She wrote down every little detail that could possibly be shared about me, including all that I ate at each meal and how many times I brushed my teeth as a toddler.
I had a happy childhood and so many special memories.  I was given two brothers and two sisters.  And I was the self-appointed "mother" that kept them safe and alive:) (their stories are endless and embellished a bit, each time they are told).  You know, it all seems impossible to me that here I am 57 years later... a grandmother to little ones like I once was.  Today, I treasure each moment.  I thank God continually for His undeserving grace, mercy, and care in my life. I thank God for my journey on this earth, and for the family and friends who help add joy to my days.  I am thankful too for all of you who visit my blog and allow me the privilege of sharing my life with you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

An evening filled with instruction on loving one's children and learning to cook Italian food.

It meets every other week.  It is called "Apples of Gold".  It is a time of teaching, older women instructing younger women.  The first part of the evening is a Bible study which involves the older women sharing what they have learned in parenting roles, to the younger women.  This week's lesson was on "loving your children".   I am not involved but some of my relatives are and my sister shared these pictures with me.   The table was decorated in a fun, festive, colorful, and inexpensive way and I just had to share it with you.  Legos, plastic buckets, balloons, and pieces of slate with chalk drawings.

This gave the women ideas of fun ways to add festivity and color to their tables.

Dollar store buckets and tissue paper add the perfect touches to the table.

Bright colored pieces of children's Legos were placed down the center of the table.

Simple, colored paper plates, napkins, and cups added a touch of color to the white tablecovering.

The creative ladies and mentors that decorated the table for the evening.

The food segment of the evening, was "Italian Night".  Here a lady shares secrets for preparing her famous homemade tomato sauce.  She learned her skills from her Italian family many years ago.  I heard she added humor to her instructing.  I smile just thinking about her as an instructor.  What a lady!

A lovely mentor and the young women assigned to her.  Their faces reveal the joy they discovered in participating in this important, helpful, and encouraging course.

Wouldn't you agree, that homemade "Tirimasu" seems like the perfect way to end an Italian cooking class? 
I am thankful for older women who take the time and care to teach and share their wisdom with the eager to learn, younger women.  It is how it should be.  We certainly can gain valuable information from those who traveled the journey ahead of us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When you happen to sit down to coffee with a friend, and that friend looks at you across the table and tells you that she tried a recipe the evening before that was exceptional, I don't know about you, but I pay attention.  You see this dear friend and her daughter are both very good cooks.  Her daughter finds most of her recipes from "Cooking Light" magazines.  I listened as my friend went through the simple steps involved in making her dinner, knowing in my heart as she spoke, that I would be trying it in the very near future.  What convinced me more than ever that this would be true, was hearing how delicious it sounded without containing hundreds of calories.  Right now my thoughts ofter revolve around low calories and exercise since Summer will soon be here. 
Tonight I made this recipe for my family.  I did not make the sweet potatoes that she did, since I didn't have them on hand.  I made rice instead, but can I tell you, this lowfat meal was exceptional.  I just had to share it with you all, just incase you would like to make it.

I don't know the name of the recipe and neither do I care.    Let's just call it scrumptious chicken.

1/4 cup of lowfat buttermilk
1 - 2 TB of dijon mustard ( which I did not have on hand much to my dismay, so I used honey mustard)
Mix these two ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Toast (in a frying pan for 3 minutes) 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs (watch carefully so they only get light brown and not too dark)
1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts
2 TB of shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 tea. finely minced rosemary (I am not a fan of this so I added a bit of garlic powder instead)
1/4 tea. salt
1/4 tea. pepper
Mix all these dry ingredients in another mixing bowl.

Take one 6 ounce pack of fresh chicken cutlets or tenders.
Dredge the cutlets first in the buttermilk mixture and then in the dried mixture.  Put each completed piece on a wire rack that is placed on a cookie sheet.  My guess is that the wire rack placed on top of the cookie sheet allows the pieces of chicken to cook evenly.  This chicken should be cooked in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes or more if you feel it might be needed.  I baked mine for 25 minutes this evening and then turned the oven to 325 degrees until we were ready to eat.
I made some rice, and steamed some fresh broccoli.
My grandchildren were here for dinner also this evening and we ate every piece of the chicken.
It was an outstanding meal in our books. 
For dessert...clementines for each.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I thought you would like to see my aunt's beautiful, unique, and quite old crystal chandelier that hangs over her kitchen island.  I fits the style of her kitchen perfectly.  Her husband bought it a few years ago, at an estate sale.  I wonder how old it is?  It sure adds an elegant touch to her lovely kitchen decor.

A votive candle burns in a tiny orange Fiestaware cup.

Tiny Easter touches graced the kitchen table.  She likes anything minature, unique, and pretty.  These little guys made me smile each time I looked at them.

I think it is so much fun to see how people decorate.  What they choose to display, and how they choose to do it.  What does the dish look like that you use to serve your jelly beans?

Her gifts are always thoughtfully chosen and the presentation is so creative.  Isn't that tiny pink and white oil lamp, adorable?   I am blessed by her friendship.  I have found that aunts do make special friends (even if we are the same age:)
Hope your day was a encouraging one today!

Monday, March 21, 2011

 Some laugh-out-loud lines from Barbara Johnson:

"Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper it doesn't permanently solve any problems, but it does make things more acceptable for a while."  

 "There is hope for a women who can look in a mirror and laugh at what she sees."  

"Frogs have it easy;  they can eat what bugs them."

Yesterday we went to say the funeral home to offer our condolences to my husband's uncle and family.  They had said their good-byes a few days before to their dear, much loved wife and mother.  His aunt had lived to see her 90th year on this earth.  The last few years had been so difficult for this wonderful family, as they watched their loved one live with her sickness.  But, yesterday as we visited with her family and friends, we were reminded over and over again, of the joy and laughter this special lady brought into everyone's lives.  As we stopped to visit with her grandchildren, they confirmed this by telling us about what a fun lady their grandma was.  Their laughter, even as they talked about her, was such a blessing.  Her laughter was a deep down, hearty laughter.  The kind that was contagious.   Yes, she had some huge heartaches that she faced in life, times when I am sure she felt like her world was falling apart, but yesterday, what they fondly remembered was the joy and laughter she freely gave.  I love my memories of this lady, and her brother (my father-in-law), who shared the same features to their personalities.

In my husband and my families, we have an abundance of humor, and I am so thankful for what that has added to my life.  It has helped me through many valleys in my journey of life.   I close with a piece I found in a book by Barbara Johnson that makes me smile whenever I think of it;

"My Bunny Slippers"

    A friend sent me a pair of bunny slippers, and every now and then, I put them on, especially when I'm
tempted  to start thinking I'm important or "nearly famous".  There's something about bunny slippers that keeps my perspective where it belongs, but in addition to that, my bunny slippers remind me that whatever happens doesn't have to get me down.  I can still be a little silly and laugh and enjoy life.  Pain dissolves, frustrations vanish, and burdens roll away when I have on my bunny slippers."

"A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance."  ~Proverbs 15:13

I sure do appreciate the good reminder I received from a beautiful lady, who is now sharing her joy in heaven.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"If Spring came but once a century instead of once a year or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and explanation there would be in all of our hearts to behold the miraculous change."    ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Flowers are like human beings. . . they thrive on a little kindness."  ~ Fred Streeter

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that the worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul."   ~Johann Woldgang von Goethe

"The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but the wide world's joy."    ~Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, March 18, 2011

It is Friday.  The weather forecast calls for sun and tempetures in the seventies.  It has been so long since that happened.  Today, I have a random post that is filled with a few "smile makers" for me.    Little things that bring joy to my somewhat ordinary week.  Last year a dear friend sent me these tiny flower salt and pepper shakers.  I brought them out of storage and placed them on my kitchen table. 
They make me smile today.

Yesterday we brought out a floor puzzle with 42 big pieces and along with the two precious ones pictured, we worked on, and completed this puzzle.  Best part of all, it is reversible, and we finished one side and then did the other.  Yes, this process brought a smile to me too this week.

This small, unique lamp that I found at a gift shop.  I placed it in my guest powder room and it makes a perfect way to add a touch of nature to the room.  Best part of all, it was 1/2 off the regular price.  So, the lamp, it's soft rays and the price that I paid for it, brings a smile to my week.

This beautiful, cottage type shelf that now hangs on my kitchen wall, was a gift from my daughters to me.  They purchased it on Etsy, and told me it reminded them of me and something I would like.  They know me well.  I really like the glass jar that is included, and I will fill it with flowers from my garden all summer.

The tenderness shown here for a big sister towards one of her little brothers made me want to add touches to the picture, from the Picnik website.  Whenever I see this sitting on my kitchen island, it brings me a smile.  Maybe it is because I was the oldest sister of some special brothers and sisters, I know how her heart feels on this picture. 

And, to think that soon, but not soon enough the farm behind our home will hopefully produce some more of these beautiful, succulent strawberries.  Yes, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this contains some random smiles for me today.  Blessings that need to be counted.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"To invite a person into your house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof."  ~Brillat-Savarin

"I might understand all mysteries, have all knowledge and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and might bestow all my goods to feed the poor,  but if I don't have love, I have nothing."  ~I Cor. 13

Table set for dinner in my kitchen last summer.  Flowers from my friend's garden.  Memories of our time together, still priceless.

"Search for happiness and you may never find it, but help others find it and you shall be truly happy.  ~author unknown

"Use a person's first name often.  It makes people feel acknowledged, and it is one big thing in the world that is truly theirs."  ~the Innkeeper at Willow Brook Inn

I will close this post with a another hint I learned from an innkeeper, "If you bake apples on a tray in a slow oven for the afternoon, by the time guests arrive, your whole house will bear the natural scent of a comforting welcome."  It works!  I add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla.  Try it and see if you agree, even if you invite friends in for coffee and cookies.


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