Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet Magnolias...

I have loved Magnolias all my life.  I am from the Magnolia State afterall!  We have a large gorgeous tree on the East side of our home outside our breakfast, kitchen and laundry room windows. I love that tree. I love watching the birds skitter about in the branches.. love the deep green of the leaves.. the red berries that show up after the creamy white blooms have played out.. the light sweet scent that lingers in late spring while the tree is in bloom... I really love seeing red birds on the branches.. that red against the green leaves! Wow!  And a few times we have had snow and red birds at the same time. Amazing!

The Magnolia is starting to bloom right now. I love to find a bloom that hasn't opened and then watch it progress day by day from a bud to a wide open flower.  Here are a few photos showing the various stages... Once again I wish I could attatch smells to this blog.. light sweet fragrance... hmmmm...

The white bloom will actually turn a golden brown color as it dies.  As strange as it may sound, those dying blooms have a beauty all their own. We don't have any of those yet.

Here is a shot of our tree.. I couldn't get it all in the frame.. it is sooo tall.... it was about half this size when we moved here 21 years ago.

One more thing I love about that tree... memories of my kids climbing in it!  Magnolias have great branches for climbing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the simple woman's daybook

I have seen this mentioned and shared on other blogs and always think it is neat. So I decided to try it here. I hope I do it correctly!  The main site is found here...  the simple woman's day book


Outside my window... the sun is shining and I have been watching birds flit from flowers to feeders (which are now empty and need to be refilled)

I am thinking...that I need to do something more productive than being on the computer!

I am thankful...for the life the Lord has given me.. for peace.. for the assurance that He is Sovereign over every detail!

In the kitchen...I have yummy smoked chicken salad, as well as the makings for big green salads with grilled chicken and other yummy additions. Nothing cooking today.

I am wearing...t-shirts and shorts... at home attire.

I am creating...a scrappy disappearing nine-patch quilt.

I am church tonight for our mid-week service REFRESH. 

I am something is going to play out in my life.. waiting to hear about "it".. another lesson in patience!

I am reading... A Time to Heal by Barbara Cameron and Mighty Prevailing Prayer by Wesley Duewel.

I am the Lord.

I am looking forward to...lots of things.. quiet weekend with my husband, starting up the next Ladies' Bible study at church in a few weeks, being with church family tonight to pray, .........

I am learning that thoughts are powerful and negative thoughts are often rooted in sin.. mainly pride!

Around the house...laundry is done (thanks to my sweet husband who finished it up for me!), the pups are napping (again!), it is quiet as I am home alone.

I am pondering... how to get my motivation back for exercising.. especially with the summer heat and humidity here!

A favorite quote for today... You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough for me. C. S. Lewis

One of my favorite quiet time basket. It is a large footed basket we found at my grandmother's home after she died.  That was almost 30 years ago!  I have used it ever since and it still looks great. Keeps me connected to her. :-)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Normal house stuff.. more laundry, some cleaning, things like that. I need to catch up on some blogging.  Continue working on Bible study.  Church tonight and Sunday. Empty Nest Friday and Saturday. A fairly quiet week.. yeah!

A peek into my day... fabric is calling my name....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Memory Lane -- the Annex Chocolate Chip Cake

I grew up in a fairly small town. When I graduated high school the population was around 20,000. Yes, I am aware there are towns much, much smaller.. but there are also towns / cities much, much larger. And honestly the small townness of my hometown had more to do with attitude than numbers. It felt like a small town.  Everyone knew everyone else and all their business!  There were no secrets (or very few) in my hometown.
My hometown is located an hour and a half from any larger city. There are a zillion little communities all around... mostly rural, country communities. To do serious shopping in the big city, we had to drive 90 minutes or more.  I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so there were very few chain stores or restaurants etc. and we had none. We were off the beaten path.. so no reason to be there. 
I grew up going to locally owned businesses... many had been in the same family for generations... and I knew the owners.  I bought shoes from Mr. Case at Case Shoes.. he went to market with his customers in mind. I remember hearing him say to a lady once “I found the perfect shoes at market to fit your narrow heel”... the ladies at my favorite clothing store would call every so often and say “We just got in a shipment of dresses and I put several back in your size that will be perfect for you!” I would then run by the store and pick up those dresses.. without paying.. take them home and try them on. Keep what I wanted.. return the rest.. all went on my parent’s charge account. No Visa.. No MasterCard.. no Credit Check.  This was true with pretty much every business in town.. including restaurants.  
I remember when we got our first fast food chain.. Burger King. Kids were overjoyed!  Before that we had to make do with the local burger joints.. the Homochitto Malt Shoppe and the Belmont Shake Shoppe (don’t you love the names!).. or Kathy’s Dairy Bar!  Restaurants were the same.. we ate catfish at Jughead's... elegant fare at The Side Track.. homemade croutons and peanut butter at the Rendezvous...
Great memories.. 
Recently we celebrated my husband’s birthday. I decided to take us back to my hometown.. at least in our minds.. and relive one of those yummy memories.  My husband did not grow up in my town, but moved there for work after college. We courted there and lived there the first 4 years of our marriage.  One of our favorite places was owned by a local doctor’s wife... The Annex Tea Room.  The Annex was located in a sort of warehouse... not a super large one. It had housed a heating and cooling supplier once and had brick walls, concrete floors and the high ceiling was covered with exposed pipes.  By today’s standards it would be considered industrial. Mrs. Amacker, the owner, filled it with oak pedestal tables she bought at estate sales, antique shops, flea markets etc. And oak chairs. It was not matchy at all!  She added white table cloths and flowers every where. It was wonderful!  The recipes were her own.. the best chicken salad ever, fruit plates with poppyseeed dressing, homemade bread with butter, broccoli soup, roast beef sandwiches, ham sandwiches, and the desserts.. oh my!  
One of our favorites was her Chocolate Chip Cake... and that is what I made for Hubby’s birthday. I did alter it a slight bit.  

Here is the original recipe with my changes noted below.
Annex Tea Room Chocolate Chip Cake
1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Butter Cake Mix
1 small box milk chocolate instant pudding
1 8 oz carton sour cream
1/4 c water
1 c oil
4 eggs
Beat all together. Add 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pecans.  Grease and flour a large sheet cake pan.  Bake at 350-degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Spread icing over cake and cut into squares.
1 stick margarine 
2 Tbsp cocoa
5-6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Bring to a roiling boil. Add 1 box powdered sugar. Beat until ready.
NOTES: I made the cake as instructed except I baked it in a Bundt Pan. And then instead of icing, I made a chocolate glaze and drizzled over the cake (found a recipe online).  I then added some sprinkles since we were celebrating.. how can you have a birthday without sprinkles! It was YUM!!!!! A Huge Hit that was gobbled up quickly. No doubt it will show up here again to provide another trip down memory lane.
Oh yes... Mac and Mia did not get to sample the birthday cake but they did celebrate. They ran a wild wiener dog race around and around the house until they both collapsed with exhaustion!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yard Update

Thought I would share some photos to show where things are with the yard and all the flowers and such...

My husband plants a lot of the same plants each year.. plants we love like petunias and verbena..

 but he always enjoys adding something new to the mix. This years newbie is Agapanthus.. Lily of the Nile.  These plants grow sooo tall!  We have to whose blooms are just about to open that are easily 3 feet or more. We have 2 others (pictured below) that are not as tall and have nice open blooms.   I love the soft lavender / lilac color.

We have Asiatic Jasmine in our bed and I love it!  It has spread and filled in some bare spots and is so rich and lush with color. I really do love it!

And I shared earlier about our confederate jasmine. It continues to grow and bloom profusely!  Love it too!

When we planted these beds years ago, my husband's new discovery was Anthony Waterer Spirea.  We planted two and have enjoyed watching them grow and bloom with these bright pinky-purple flowers.

A few years later we planted a third... only to discover its blooms are white and a lighter purple.  We love them both.

As always I have herbs growing and yes, I use them in cooking!  In fact last weekend our son used some of the mint to make Blueberry-Mint-Lemonade.  I, for some reason, failed to snap a photo of the mint or the oregano... but here are the other 3 we have this year..

Isn't this thyme lovely.. so green!

Rosemary... one of my favorites!

Basil... ranks up there with Rosemary!  I use a bunch of both of these,

While out in the yard, I noticed the blue birds going in and out of the house.  Couldn't catch the Mr. but got a nice shot of the Mrs.

The day before these photos were taken we had some rain and wind.  Our River Birches always loose some twigs and such. A nice size limb fell that day. Mia had to investigate, but deemed it safe and went on to better things.  

Be Joy-filled!