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.