Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today's Blessings....

Continuing my list of blessings....  I could list more if I didn't expound on them!  LOL!

31. Heating and Cooling... as in a central unit that takes care of the whole house. Our old one was shot... time to pull the plug and let it go.. so we did.  Yesterday a new unit was installed.. so quiet.. and more energy efficient.  I feel a bit more ready to take on the summer heat and humidity, which will be here sooner than I want.

32. Kids who talk... our kids are very open with us (I know they don't tell us every detail of their lives.. I am not that naive!)... they ask our advice.. share what they are thinking, praying about.. what they feel God is leading them to do or not do... they are 24 and 19... I consider this a huge blessing at their ages.  I thank God for the openness and closeness we have and pray it continues on.

33. My current ladies' Bible study group and the study itself.  We are finishing up Priscilla Shier's One in a Million... which is about Promised Land living.. that abundant life Christ promises in John 10:10.  I was unsure at the end of last fall's study what to do next.. this popped into mind, but I didn't really consider it.  After looking at this and that and dealing with some life craziness, God reminded me of it in January and I said "OK fine"... I have no doubt He smiled and thought "Just wait until you see what I have planned"... oh my!  This study has gone hand in hand with things happening in my life and teachings at our church.. the timing has been perfect!  And I have such a great group of ladies.. some of the regulars and a few newbies.. and my daughter got to join us this time, which was a grand treat for me!

which leads to ...

34. Rides to and from Bible study with my daughter.  :-)  Most weeks we have been able to ride together for Bible study. It takes 15 - 20 minutes to get to the church.  Not a long time, but those to and froms have been so sweet. Time to catch up... girl talk.. laugh.. all that fun stuff we don't get to do as often as we once did now that she no longer lives at home.

35. Quiet... I love quiet.. I am sure I could go insane if there was never any noise, but really... I love the peace of quietness.  Not silence.. there are noises.. comforting ones.. the ceiling fan turning.. birds singing outside.. occasional sounds from the pups.. wind chimes... house sounds.. sounds I probably don't even notice because my ears are so use to them.  I get a bit on edge if I have to do with out quiet for a prolonged period of time.

36. Clothes drying on the line outside..  I love hanging out clothes.. the smell and feel of them once dry.. MMMMM... I even love seeing them out there in the sunshine drying. Go figure! LOL!  Maybe it evokes memories of my Mama Rush and her clothesline.. which seemed to always have something hanging on it.  Maybe it is because I grew up with line dried clothes, so it is the norm to me. Maybe it is the thought of saving money and electricity. I don't know why, but I just love clothes dried outside.

37. Extended Warranties... ok this might not normally pop up on a list of blessings but I got an email today from the manufacturer of our new HVAC unit.. we registered it online with them.  The furnance and thermostat have a regular warranty but the email was letting us know that the A/C and Coils have an extended one.. 10 years instead of 5!  I hope to never need it, but still.. what a blessing to know we are covered longer than normal.  I have no doubt this is God taking care of us.

38. Personal Extended Warranty... we have that with God.. His promises never fail and never end.  We don't have to worry that He will provide for us, but only 3 years.. or that He will love us for 2 years..  shelter us in the shadow of His wings 1 year.. etc.  His Word endures forever which means His promises for us do too!

39.  A springy surprise... a while back my mother got rid of her guest room bed (which was kingsize) and replaced it with a full size.  In the process, she had a kingsize comforter set she no longer needed that was relatively new.  My husband brought it here and set it on the bed in our daughter's old room. We had no idea what we would do with it.  Jump ahead to 2 weeks ago. We pulled the heated mattress pad off our bed and decided it was time to spring-a-fy the room... which just means changing from some dark shams to light ones mainly.  When we were remaking the bed, my husband said "I wonder" and went and got the comforter .. tossed it on the bed. One side is floral the other striped. The floral was up. It was too much for us.. so we flipped it... the stripe is perfect!  Goes great with the rest of our room. We added the matching shams and voila!  We have a new look.. lighter springy colors... fresh and fun.. and best of all Free!

40. Spring Color.... I love Spring in the south and it came early this year.. really early!  Still... we have had (and continue to have) some amazing colors by way of azaleas, daffodils, iris, petunias (yep, they bloomed early!), dog woods, plum trees, redbuds and so much more! And there are all sorts of lovely green back drops to make those blooms stand out. The greens of spring are soo rich and vibrant!  I just love the newness and life of it all!

10 more blessings.. and didn't even list the dogs or books this time!  LOL!

Open your eyes to the blessings that abound all around!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


A friend recently shared a recipe for homemade granola bars.  I decided on a whim to make some today.  I went basic.. peanut butter and chocolate chip. Added the chips before the mixture had cool enough and they melted a bit. Still they taste YUM and I doubt they will be around long!  Today's combo was based on what was on hand.  I also have some dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut which I think would be phenomenal together. But I don't want to use peanut butter with them and I had no other nut butter to use.  So I will do some exploring in the health / organic food section at Kroger and see what I can find.

Here is the recipe (from my friend, Susan):

Alicia’s Mix and Match Granola Bars
Makes about 20 full sized bars or 30 smaller bars
4 cups quick cooking oats
3 cups dry cereal *
2 cups dried fruit **
1 cup nuts or seeds ***
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup sunbutter, soy nut butter or peanut butter
2 tsp real vanilla
1.  Grease and set aside a 9×13 or 10×14 inch baking pan.
2.  In a very large bowl, stir together the oats, cereal, fruit and nuts.
3.  Heat the brown sugar and honey in a pan over medium heat, stirring often, just until boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in the nut butter and vanilla.
4.  Pour hot mixture over dry mixture and mix well.  (If you are adding in chocolate chips, allow the mixture to cool slightly so they do not melt.)
5.  Press very firmly into prepared pan (wetting your hands can help a bit).  Allow to cool and cut into bars. 
*  Good dry cereal choices are rice crispies, cheerios and corn flakes.  Rice crispies are perfect but anything crunchy will do.
**  Dried fruit options include raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple, etc.  Diced prunes are surprisingly sweet and delicious but they’re rather sticky.  I dust them with powdered sugar to chop them so they don’t make a sticky mass.  You can also add ingredients like coconut and chocolate chips.  Our favorite mix so far is chopped prunes, tart cherries, coconut and some white chocolate chips.  You can also do themes like tropical with coconut, papaya, pineapple…
*** Any nuts or seeds will do.  These contribute protein, texture and a bigger health punch.  Options include sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, flax seeds….
My husband saw the oatmeal out and said "Are you making Oatmeal Scotchies?"  I told him I wasn't, but if I had butterscotch chips I would. I had some.. so I baked him some cookies.  (You can find the recipe for those here: Oatmeal Scotchies )

2 yummy treats in one afternoon. I don't imagine they will last long. Both our kids and there "others" will be here tomorrow for lunch. I figure these will be discovered then if not sooner and once that happens they will be headed out the door. Which is totally fine!

No doubt these are not Weight Watchers friendly, but you know.. sometimes you need to enjoy life and not have to worry about counting points!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pride of Mobile

Our house has a long row of azaleas along the east side... right outside the window over the kitchen sink and the bay window in the breakfast room.  I love looking out on them all year round, but especially in spring when they are blooming.  Ours are a dark pinkish-red color.. more red than pink.. called President Clay. (Here is a photo of a President Clay.. not ours.. Pres Clay Azalea )

These azaleas were planted long before we moved into this house (21 years ago this summer!) and they are lovely, but I would really love some true pink azaleas.  I love the soft pink ones like a George Tabor or a brighter pink like a Judge Solomon... add some white azaleas in with those and WOW you have a gorgeous display in spring.

My mother's house has pink azaleas.. Pride of Mobile.. a southern classic.  Again, these were there long before she moved up here with my dad in 1995. She has one plant that is huge!  Because my brothers and I are spaced out (19 year span) my mother's grandchildren range from 40 down to 19.  There is a bit of a gap between the first 8 and the last 3.  My 2 and my youngest nephew were always called "the little kids" and each year we had an Easter Egg hunt at my parents home here and there was always a photo taken of "the little kids" in front of the big azalea.. which was almost always in full bloom at Easter.

Well blooms came early this year and will surely be gone by Easter.. and "the little kids" are now young adults... so no egg hunts or photos for a while... but that big ole azalea still explodes with color every spring.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lightening Up For Spring...

I wish I had taken a before picture.. I have some but who knows where!  We redid our bedroom a couple of summer ago. Went from medium teal walls with peach, rose, light blue, and green florals .. very "cool"tones.. to very warm ones.. olive green walls, gold comforter (not metallic or bright), floral shams that in shades of terra cotta and gold and greens., dark terra cotta rose shams.... very warm and a bit autumny.  We love it!

But we like to be a bit seasonal.. lighten up for spring and summer.. so last year we changed out the shams and used gold ones and cream ones. It helped. But this year we went a bit farther!

Recently my mother got rid of a king size bed she had in a spare bedroom. The linens on it were bought a year ago.  I loved them at the time. Still do. They have been sitting on the bed in my daughter's room (daughter moved out) for months.  Well this morning as we were changing sheets, my husband grabbed the comforter and put it on the bed. It is, like most comforters, reversible.  One side is floral.. we started with that. Too much.. too girlie. The other side is a stripe.  It worked.. then we added the shams that match it.. used the floral side for those, just enough floral but not too much. We added our cream shams that we use in summer along with the cream matelasse to drape across the end of the bed.  Kept our green throw pillows and terra cotta wedge pillow... same dust ruffle and curtains.. and voila!  We have a "new" room.. a bit lighter in color.. springy... fresh... we like it... now we just have to get use to it! LOL!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Flea Market

We often pass a place about 20 minutes from us where there are some warehouses and a big sign that says FLEA MARKET... and we always say "One day we need to stop there."  So we did.  What a treasure trove. Lots of the things you expect at flea markets.. and lots of other stuff.. like there were boxes and boxes of various kinds of work gloves... masks.. haz-mat suits (I kid you not!).. rubber boots.. and there is a separate "Room" (more like an airplane hanger with construction type salvage.. molding, bead board, lumber, numbers, metal pieces, doors, windows.. it was / is great!

While there we found a bed for my mother. She has a gorgeous old bed that her great-grandparents purchased in the late 30s / early 40s for their younger daughter.. my great-aunt.  Last fall my husband and I made mother a quilt to fit that bed for her 80th birthday.  Sadly, she took a fall in November and will no longer be able to sleep in it as it is high and requires her to lift and such too much. She has to have something low to the ground.  And we found it.... but we did not buy it that day.  We told her about it first and got her ok.

The following weekend we went back to get it (they are only open on Saturday and Sunday).  It was still there.  While waiting for someone to help us haul it out of the building (it was, of course, in the farthest back corner buried under tons of other goodies), I noticed some old Pyrex bowls.  I love old Pyrex and fire king and such.  One set was just solids (I have a set like those that belonged to my grandmother), but they were all scratched up and just not that pretty. Then I saw one big bowl... green... white flowers.. I have seen it called Crazy Daisy or Spring Blossom... not sure when it was manufactured.. I am guessing 70s.. it has that 70s look.  If I found an entire set it would probably run around $40.  I just found the 1 bowl, so it would probably go for $10 or less.

There was no price on it.. so I asked.. what did I pay.. nothing! Nada!  LOVE IT!  I love "FREE"... the lady tossed it in since we were buying the bed. Made my day.. I am rather easy to please! LOL!

I brought it home.. washed it up.. and have been using it ever since.. Yes, I USE my vintage Pyrex.  That is what it was made for.. to be used.  It is a great bowl... has a happy look.. makes me smile when I use it..

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The ball is rolling....

A month or so ago it was announced that our church would be making 2 mission trips outside the US this year... both to Haiti / Dominican Republic... one in June (a construction oriented trip) and the other in September (Medical Missions).  Our children (19 & 24.. not really children!) have both indicated they hope to be involved in Missions out of the country at some point (both have participated in the US for years).  This year is going to be Luke's year..just a few weeks prior to his 20th birthday, my baby (yes, he is my baby.. always will be!) is going to hop on a plane for the first time and leave the US.. no doubt for the first time.. to go help build a home for a family in Haiti.  He is pumped!

God has given him complete peace about the financial part.. HE will provide (Jehovah-Jireh!).. so about 3 weeks ago, Luke and I went to the Post Office and applied for his passport.. and today an envelope arrived..

It's Here!  I haven't seen the actual passport yet. Luke is on his way home from Texas where he and a team from our church have been working with Mission Arlington .... doing Missions stateside.  

And so the ball is rolling... June 3 will be here soon and he will be leaving on that jet plane... I have no doubt this is the first of many departures for this one who loves the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and might.  He makes me proud and shames me all at the same time. I did not have that devotion and passion at 19.. don't think I have it at 49.. I praise the Lord for all He has done and continues to do through my children.  

For Me????

My poor husband had a tough year last year when it came to yard work.  We have about 3/4 of an acre.. not a huge lot, but big enough.  It is a corner lot with most of the yard in the front and side.. takes as long to edge everything as it does to cut the grass. He uses a push mower because he says the yard is really too small to justify a riding mower and because we live of a small hill, so not really conducive to riding.  Last year 2 things happened to make his life difficult.. our son (his help) took a job working as a summer camp staffer and lived away from home.. so he was rarely here to help... and then the power steering on the mower died. We have had this mower for some time now. Hubby and son have serviced it and made repairs as needed, but this was beyond fixing.  So my sweet fella pushed mowed our big ole yard, as well as my mother's (we take care of it too) all last year with the worn out stubborn ole mower.

Have I mentioned I don't do yard work? Not a big fan of fresh mown grass.. tend to make my eyes itch and my nose sneeze.  I tried to use the weed eater thing once.. almost cut off my leg.. hubby took it away form me and has told me to never touch it again.  Tried the electric edger.. and yes as crazy as it sounds I cannot do that either. I am totally inept when it comes to yard work using machines. Now I can rake and weed and water and things like that.

So it is mowing time again... and yes, we still have that sad ole mower... Hubby and I don't do big Christmas for each other... so shortly after the first of the year he said "I want to buy you an iPad as a late Christmas present. I was thrilled at that idea!  and then he added and I want a new lawn mower.. it can be my belated Christmas present. No problem!  That works for me too. He mows.. I play on the Ipad in the air conditioning... what is not to like about that idea!

I postpone the iPad shopping since I heard a new one was coming out.. Hey, I want the newest one.. who knows when I will have an opportunity to upgrade!  In the meantime the search for the mower is one. We saw one at Sears and it had a key to start it.. and I did it... I opened my mouth.. what possessed me I will never know... "If you got one that starts with a key I might be able to mow the back yard."  Now the back yard is flat and not super large.. the easiest thing to mow here. But still!

I saw my husband's eyes twinkle with delight.  We kept looking and finally 2 or so weeks ago we found it... a new orange baby.. self-propelled and yes, it has a key to start it.  I haven't used it yet... but I think my time is coming.. this weekend!  Pray for me.

Oh yes.. the iPad is coming this week too.  At least I will have something fun to do while I recoup from my foray into yard work!

Newbie and Oldie

p.s.  I can now say I have a Husqavarna... mower not sewing machine! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Petunias in March!

I love Petunias.. always have.. and we pretty much always put some around the yard in pots in the summer for their big splash of color.  At the end of summer, my husband just left the pots in the beds.  Normally he takes removes them and cleans everything out to get the pot ready for next year. .. but for some reason he just did not get that done this year.. and I, for one, am glad!  Why? Because much to our surprise, the petunias (which we dead and gone from what could be seen), have come back out in the pots and are blooming!  In March!  It is fun to see  both petunias and pansies blooming at the same time!  Not the norm here at all.

Look at these beautiful blooms...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Feed the Birds..

In the movie Mary Poppins there is a lovely song that says "Feed the birds, tuppence a bag...." It is about a little old lady in the park called the bird lady who sells bags of crumbs for others to feed the pigeons.

Well I have no bags of crumbs to sell, I am not in a park and their are no pigeons here. .. and I am not an old lady .. yet!  But I do love birds and they find plenty of feed and water and even shelter in our yard.  Yes, there are 2 wild wiener dogs who live here. One has always ignored the birds.. the other use to always bark at them, but they ignored him.. so now he just occasionally raises his voice to them.

Living in the sunny south, we have a wide variety of birds year round. Some make their home here... some vacation here in winter.. some just pass through.  No matter. I love them all.

We have blue birds scouting around for a place to make their nest. We are once again advertising 2 lovely condos on our fence. They have recently been cleaned out and are close to the local pub which provides an all you can eat buffet 24 / 7 and plenty of water for drinking and bathing. I have no doubt a couple will snatch it up soon.

We also have cardinals.. these lovely red birds are my mother's favorite birds and so they hold a special place in my heart.  I recently got to watch a couple dining at one of our feeders and even got a few photos...

Here is the husband chatting with a little finch....

And here is the Mrs. waiting her turn...

Take some time to stop and watch the bird today.. they are fascinating creatures.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Apologies and Blessings

I am ashamed to say that I have done a horrible job posting here and a worse job counting my blessings!  I started the 1000 Blessings last January and only posted twice! 20 Blessings!  I could list 20 a day for the rest of my life and not count them all!

So today I am starting again.. with #21.. and hopefully I will do a better job posting and counting in 2012.

21. Sunshine!  I live in the South, so sunshine is pretty much part of my steady diet. But we have had a lot of grey days lately and while I actually like a bit of rain now and then.. good excuse to stay home with a good book.. I love the Sunshine.. and I find as I get older that I seem to need it more. It was grey this morning, but when I walked out shortly before lunch the sun was shining so bright and it just seemed to lift my mood. When my kids were wee ones we would see streaks of sun streaming through the clouds and I would say "Look, God is smiling on us!"  That is how Sunshine feels to me.. as if God is smiling... a warm comforting smile and encourages and comforts and strengthens the soul.

22. Music... I love music.. just about any kind. I love to sing.. love to dance... to listen to music.. to play the piano (something I don't do much these days... but I am thinking I need to start playing again just for the fun of it). Music effects my mood more than just about anything. My dad was a musician at heart.  We listened to a lot of music growing up and at times he would lie on my bed and sing to me at bedtime. Those were magical times to me. Sweet sweet memories! Which leads me to my next blessing...

23. My favorite musician.. my son.  From pretty much day 1 it was obvious music would be part of his world. He "sang" as a baby... loved to hear music. My husband bought the sweetest little stuffed dog before Luke was born. You wound it up and it played "How much is that Doggie in the Window".. just the melody.. all tinkly and bright. Luke loved it! When he was 2, we were in Walmart and he was in the buggy looking at something and singing.. he always sang no matter what he was doing and quite often still does.  I was getting something off the shelf and turned away for a sec.. turned back and there were 3 or 4 elderly people standing around the cart listening to him. He was totally oblivious.. had no idea they were there. It was precious. God has gifted him musically.. he plays many instruments and sings.. and since he was 13 he has been involved in leading worship in church and other functions.  It is a huge blessing for this mom to see her child walking out the calling God has placed on his life.

24. Light at the end of the Tunnel.. my precious girl has been going through a wilderness season. As she and I are learning together in Bible study, the wilderness may not be fun, but God has a purpose for it.  I know He has been at work in her life.. it shows!  And it appears she is on the edge.. she can see the Jordan River and the Promised Land just past. Her journey will not end.. there will be more wildernesses (is that a word?) ahead.  But it looks as if this one will soon be in her past and for that I am truly grateful!

25. Wind.  Yes, Wind. No I do not care for damaging winds and tornadoes.. but I go love the sound and feel of wind.  I loved sailing when I was growing up.. and riding in our boats (motor boats).. and riding on a motorcycle.. or in a car with the windows down... or biking.. anything where the wind blew across my face and whipped my hair around.  I love to feel a gentle breeze on a Spring Day.. to stand in a cooling gust shortly before a storm on a hot sticky summer day.. to hear the leaves rustle.. the wind chimes sing.. as the wind goes through on its merry way to who knows where.  "Who has seen the wind? Neither I not you. But when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing through. Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I. But when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by." (Christina Rosetti)

26.  Poetry... call me old-fashioned.. dreamer.. romantic.. I love poetry.  I use to read much more of it than I do now.. another something I need to remedy (like piano playing).  From Browning and Shakespeare's sonnets.. Odes to Haiku.. long narratives.. Sandburg.. Rosetti.. cummings.. Longfellow.. Keats.. Bryant.. Whitman... Dickinson.. and so many more... I love poetry just for the sheer sound of hearing it.. poetry should always be read aloud.. and the way it evokes memories, feelings, sights, sounds.. Poetry is music with a silent melody.

27. Water.. H2O.. I drink almost nothing but water.. I love the stuff.. and I am regularly reminded how blessed I am to have access to clean water for drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, sanitation and more. In so many countries, the same water source is used for multiple uses and often that source is a river or lake with no treatment plant or filters. Many many diseases could be prevented.. which means deaths could be prevented.. with clean water.  There are many charities that look to provide this blessing to others... 2 I would recommend are Blood Water Mission  and Water for Life

28. Giving... it truly is more blessed to give than receive. If you don't believe me, try it. Start small. Pay for someone's meal .. you don't even have to tell them.  Take a bag of groceries to someone in need (again, you can leave it at the door.. ring the bell and leave if you want it to be anonymous). Like most, my husband and I live paycheck to paycheck.. and many folks would think we don't have a lot.. and we don't compare to much of our nation.. but we are truly rich compared to most of the world and how blessed we are to be able to give to others.  And giving isn't just about money. Give a service (mow a widow's yard)... give time (read with a child)... give ability (teach someone a skill you know and they want or need)... there are many, many ways to give... you will be so blessed if you do!

29. Russell Stover Coconut Nests.. LOL!  Yep Easter candy that I do NOT need, but oh how I love it! Chocolate and Coconut.. how can you go wrong with that. They use to put jelly beans in the center to look like eggs.. I had to pop those off and give to hubby or throw away... not more. They got wise and started making them without those nasty things. YUM! And I am thankful they are only available for a short while once a year!!!!

30. My Kindle... my daughter and her fella bought me a Kindle for my birthday. I didn't really want one, but smiled and took it. I love books.. love the feel of them in my hands.. turning pages.. the whole process.  But there are a lot of freebies available for Kindle and I do love saving $$$... and I love love love to read. So I tried it.. and now I am hooked!  Yes, I still read traditional books, but how I love the convenience of the Kindle and the fact that I can adjust the font size!  And you can play games on it. That is icing on the cake!

So 10 more blessings... and hopefully I will stick to it and write more in the days ahead. In the meantime, I hope you are opening your eyes and looking for the blessings that swirl all around you.  Start counting!