Friday, April 27, 2012

Birthday Treats

Today is my niece's birthday, and like my daughter, she is a college student preparing for finals. I thought she might appreciate some sweet sustenance, so I made her some chocolate chip cookies. I bought an old-fashioned looking container to put them in, but wanted to dress it up a little. Because she likes pink, I had an idea of what I wanted to put on the front, and found the perfect thing on Free Pretty Things For You. I found the image here. Isn't it sweet? Thank you Keren for all the wonderful graphics you share on your site. Here are the birthday goodies all packaged up and ready to take to my niece. Happy Birthday Tara!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cookie Love

My youngest daughter is in college, and in the process of writing papers, completing projects and preparing for finals next week. Her head isn't hitting her pillow much at night. Instead, I'm likely to find her on the floor, asleep on a textbook, where she left off studying. Of course as moms do, I look for ways to help her get through this busy and stressful time. 

I can't study for her, can't write her papers, and sure can't create her PowerPoints! So what's a mom to do? My first instinct is to head to the kitchen and bake. From the time my children were young, chocolate chip cookies have been their favorite. And although I've tried many different recipes over the years, the good old Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag reigns in our house. Years ago they were an after-school snack waiting at the end of the day. Now I make them whenever I think someone in my family might need a little lift.

I add my own little touches to the recipe. I always use unsalted butter and my favorite Nielson-Massey vanilla. I add an extra dash of salt and heap the brown sugar for more flavor. And because I don't like flat cookies, I add an extra 1/4 cup of flour.

It's going to be another week before Sarah is done with finals, so I'm stocked up on ingredients, and my faithful KitchenAid will be getting a workout.

Of course there are other ways to help her as she finishes the semester: words of encouragement, healthy meals,and rides to campus to save her some time. But sometimes there's just nothing like a chocolate chip cookie (or two, or three!) warm from the oven and a glass of cold milk to get you through the tough times.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Small Things Hardly Noticeable

"If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable."  Rainer Maria Rilke 

Have you ever had one of those days when you experienced true, heartfelt joy? Today is one of those days for me. The sun is shining, there's a warm breeze on my face, the birds in my backyard are chattering back and forth, and the contentment I feel brings me such a sense of peace. I'm always so grateful for these moments.

As I wandered through my front yard, I noticed that the lily of the valley are finally blooming. To me there is no more beautiful, delicate, and fragrant flower on earth. They're easy to miss if you don't look closely. So of course I grabbed my camera, fought off the bombarding bumblebees, and captured their delicate beauty to the best of my ability.

I pay attention to these moments. These are the times when I know all is well with my soul. For this day. And that is enough.

"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come." Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Simplify, Simplify

It's hard to believe that it's been over a month since I last blogged. To be honest, it was becoming a burden to me. I am somewhat of a technophobe, so blogging is a constant struggle between sharing my thoughts and fighting with the technological demons that pop up to discourage me. So I took a break to try to figure out where I wanted to go with all of this.

And as I reflected, I realized that my lack of motivation isn't really a result of the technology issues. The real problem is that my blog doesn't have a focus. I have been blogging about things that interest me, but there doesn't seem to be a common thread that binds my posts together.

So moving forward I am going to move in a different direction. For years, my true passion has been reading about and finding ways to simplify. I truly believe that my true purpose is to share my conviction that our world is in too big of a hurry, and we're missing out on the meaningful things in life.

I was at Barnes and Noble this afternoon and this book caught my eye:

So I splurged and bought it for myself. I've always had an interest in and respect for the Amish, and who could resist the lovely apron on the cover! The subtitle reads One woman's quest for a slower, simpler, more sustainable life. That describes me, and what I believe will be the heart of my blog going forward.

I have discovered my focus and purpose. You will no doubt see some changes as my blog is reborn after seven short months. I hope you'll check back and share in this journey I'm on. Together, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, maybe we can rediscover the sweet, simple things of life.

Friday, March 02, 2012

I Prefer the Before Pictures

Yesterday, I was at the library, looking for a book (right, I never leave the library with just one book) to read over the weekend. I wanted something with pretty pictures that would inspire me, give me ideas, or just take me back in time. I found one by the editors of This Old House, and flipping quickly through the pages I saw pictures of the insides of old homes, specifically kitchens. They were old-fashioned looking kitchens just like the one I dream of. So I grabbed the book, along with several others of course, and headed for home. When I finally had a chance to sit down with a cup of tea, I opened up the book and discovered that those pictures that drew me in were the "before pictures." Sigh. They tore those kitchens out and remodeled them into more modern-looking, state-of-the-art kitchens, complete with shiny granite countertops.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who wants a kitchen that hasn't been changed since the 1950s. For years, I've had this picture that I tore out of a magazine as an example of the kind of kitchen I want. 

Many of the items in this kitchen are new, but they are true to the spirit of an old kitchen. This is what I long for: sunny, cheerful and bright. I've always wanted a kitchen with a back door with a window in it, so I could hang a homey-looking curtain on it.

Yes, in so many ways, I prefer the before picture. Like many of you, I feel like I belong in a different time, and often find myself feeling out of place in this high-tech world of ours. I have been feeling very nostalgic lately, and have found through some research that nostalgia can be good for us. I'm often nostalgic for my own childhood, but I discovered that there is actually a name for my nostalgia for a time I never lived in: historical nostalgia. I hope to dig into this a little more. Maybe I'll figure out why I'm drawn to vintage tablecloths, aprons, and jadeite. And why I want to find an old farmhouse with an antique stove, sink, and clawfoot bathtub still in place, no remodeling necessary.

Do you ever yearn for an earlier time? Do you also prefer the before picture? I'm convinced that I can enjoy the blessings of my life and the times we live in, while finding a simpler way to live, embracing the spirit of the past.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I had every intention of getting a post done for Valentine's Day, but time slipped away from me, as it does so often these days! I wanted to hop on though, and let you know that my daughter, Sarah, did do a really fun vintage Valentine's Day post on her blog, Sing and Don't Be Silent. If you have time, she'd love it if you stopped by! Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dotty Swap Fun!

On Wednesday, I received my Dotty Swap package in the mail from Shirley of Zetta's Aprons, who was my swap partner. It was a beautiful red and white polka-dot basket filled with so many fun surprises.

I loved the cupcake kit, which included a dotty cake mix, decorations, and the perfect cupcake liners. The Valentine's containers are so adorable with just the right amount of sparkle! They are filled with candy and a cute little Eiffel Tower keychain. And how about Lampchop, with her polka-dot bow? Isn't she adorable? I haven't seen her in so long. Such good memories! Shirley included some gift tags, Sweethearts candy with a cute bluebird tag on it, and a wonderful vintage valentine from her collection. Of course she had it all arranged beautifully, but as you can see, I had so much fun digging into the goodies that I couldn't get them back quite the way Shirley had them!  

Now that I know Shirley has received her package, I'll share what I sent her:

It was such fun to make these, and to be a part of the Dotty Swap. Many thanks to Holly at Cutie Pie Cottage for hosting this swap. It brought anticipation and excitement during a normally gray and gloomy time of year.    

Monday, February 06, 2012

"Thin" Mints

It's that time of year. I'm in trouble and here's why:

I order mine from my niece, Abby, who lives in Ohio. I can't remember if I ordered 8 boxes, or 10 boxes, but who's counting? Of course that means I have to wait until I visit her, or she visits me, to get my cookies. The problem with that is my Girl Scout Cookie craving officially started last Thursday, with no cookie booths in sight. So what's a Thin Mint-starved person to do? Well, on that same Thursday my daughter came home to report the most amazing sight. Drive-thru Girl Scout Cookie sales! And it's right on the road I take home from work! They have a circular drive, so you can just pull through, order your cookies from a cute little girl and her mom, and pay right there. What a genius idea! Now I can satisfy my craving without even getting out of my car.

Of course this is not a good thing. I don't know about you, but I can eat a whole sleeve in one sitting. I counted, and that's 16 cookies and 640 calories. I've never chowed down a whole box at once, but you can do the math--1280 calories. Which brings me to this question: "Thin" Mints? Kind of ironic, huh?

Did any of you sell Girl Scout Cookies when you were young? I did, and my daughters did too. I went to the Girl Scouts website to do a little research, and discovered that cookie sales started as early as 1917. Only back then, the cookies were baked at home by the girls, with their mothers' help. Yes, moms were involved even back in those days! If you want to read more about the history of Girl Scout Cookies you can follow this link:

I'm down to half a box now, and no visits with Abby in the near future. I think it's time for another visit to the drive-thru. Too bad they're not open 24 hours.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Understood Betsy

I  need to stay off ebay. There are things I don't know I need, until I find them while trolling around in one of the vintage areas.This time it was a vintage book. I don't even remember how I stumbled on it; a click here, a click there, and the next thing I know, I discover this book for only $15.00 with free shipping and handling. Of course I had to order it!

What is it about seeing your name in the title of a book? When I was a young girl, I devoured all the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, and the Betsy books by Carolyn Haywood. Our library had all of them, and I checked them out over and over again. Somehow I missed this one; apparently the library didn't have it! 

I was drawn to the cover of this book because of the vivid colors and the fact that Betsy had black hair, like me (well, at least I did before it started turning gray!). The back cover is just as colorful. Betsy is sitting in the kitchen, and on the table in front of her is a book and a needle and thread. It's such a cozy scene, and one you would find in my home.

The book was first published in 1916 (my copy is a 1962 version), and tells the story of Elizabeth Ann, a small, timid 9-year-old orphan who goes to live on her aunt and uncle's farm in Vermont. Over time, Elizabeth Ann becomes Betsy, and "discovers herself, her abilities, and all the lovely things in the wonderful world from which she had been shielded."

Apparently this book was a classic in its time, and remains in print. It's recommended for children ages 8-12, but this little girl at heart is looking forward to reading it. Since I still live in my childhood hometown, I went online and searched our library's catalog. I'm happy to report that there are now two copies of Understood Betsy. It's good to know that the young Betsy's of today have another option to read!


Friday, January 27, 2012

This Room Is Mine

 I recently rediscovered one of my favorite childhood books, This Room is Mine, by Betty Ren Wright. It's the story of two sisters who share a room, just like I did with my sisters. 

You can tell this book was well-loved! It's all taped together and is actually missing some pages. You'll see that I had dreams of being a librarian when I was a young girl. Inside all of my books I made columns for people to sign their names and check them out. Two of my favorite "toys" were my date stamp and ink pad that I got for Christmas one year. Apparently this book was checked out once, by my sister, in March 1970. I also made sure that they knew where to return the book, even if they lived in the same house!

Like all sisters, Chris and Mary got mad at each other.

Their solution was to lay a jump rope on the floor to divide their bedroom in half.

They agreed that whatever was in their half of the room belonged to them. I had to laugh when they argued over who was breathing the other's air. It sounds like something my sisters and I would have argued over.

All is well until Mother comes by asking who wants milk and cookies. The door is on Mary's side, so Chris is stuck.

She goes on to imagine spending her life on her side of the room, until her sister comes back and asks her if she wants to play jump rope. All of a sudden Chris doesn't feel mad anymore, so she picks up the jump rope and goes out to play with her sister.

I love the illustrations in this book, but more than that I think this book spoke to me as a child because I was always looking for a space to call my own. With three younger sisters and one younger brother, there were not many solitary spots! To this day, I yearn for a space to call my own. But just like when I was a child, I'm surrounded by loved ones, which makes quiet moments hard to come by. That's okay though. I know that much too soon, the time will come when I can have quiet time on a regular basis. But that will mean all our chicks have left the nest for good. So for now, I'll gladly share my space--no jump rope necessary. 

I'm linking up with Corey Moortgat's Lil' Vintage Story Books.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Have A Winner!

 Thanks to all of you who commented to enter my first giveaway! This morning, we held the "official" drawing, which was me pulling a name out of my daughter's red vintage hat.

And the winner of the Throw Out Fifty Things book was...

Donna from The Sunny Side of the Sun Porch! Congratulations Donna! Be sure to visit Donna's blog, where she shares her life from her beautiful sun room. As you'll see, it's a lot more organized than mine is.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Not So Little Vintage Storybook

 It's Friday, so it's time for Lil' Vintage Story Books on Corey Moortgat's blog. This week, my vintage book isn't little, but it sure is cute. It was published in 1945 by Whitman Publishing Co., and the illustrator was E.B. Segner. 

Each page features a different animal charmingly illustrated

Anytime I find a vintage book with a farm theme, I have to buy it (if the price is right). I'm drawn to these because I hope to live on a small farm someday. I really am a farm girl at heart, and hopefully that dream will come true in the near future.

Last year, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this fabric:

It matches the book! How fun is that? I haven't decided what to do with it yet, but think it would make a cute quilted wallhanging. A project to add to my long list!

If you haven't had a chance, be sure to stop by Corey's blog and link up with your favorite vintage story book.