Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Mother I've Always Hoped to be...

One Sunday morning, a teacher asked our class, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I really can't recall what the other children's responses were... just my own.  "I want to be a mother, and I want to be married to a nice, handsome man.  Oh, and live in a nice home.  Oh, and have nice kids..."  That's where the memory fades.


Children have a naive view of the world.  Or they should, anyway.  What I didn't realize at that young age, was just how tough it is to be a Mom...  Moms make sacrifices no child can fully comprehend.  I'm so grateful for my mother's...


She cooked for us.  Not all homemade, from scratch meals... but we almost always had dinner together... without the television on.  We actually talked to each other about our day, and the others cared enough to listen.

She cleaned for us.  She kept our home clean and in working order.  If there were times our home was unkempt, it didn't stay that way for long.  Several times I remember family dropping by unannounced, only to find that, yet again, our house was as it should be.

She cared for us.  True love is shown when you put the needs of others before your own... without hesitation.  At the risk of becoming ill herself, Mom diligently watched over us while we fought off all sorts of sicknesses.  Pretty big risk considering: who takes care of a mother when she's sick?  When we were sad, she was there to lift us up with a hug and an encouraging word.  If we were scared, she was our comforter.

She went without.  Mom came from a family of seven children.  Most of her clothes were handed down from siblings or friends... so with her first job came a new wardrobe and eventually, a cute little car.  When she had me, priorities shifted.  She stopped buying stylish clothes in favor of more 'sensible' clothing.  Her car was sold in favor of a more "family friendly" one. 

She was there.  I knew I was never alone.  Simple as that. 


In my eyes, I have all my young heart once desired.  I'll probably never know everything my mother went through for me... all the sacrifices made.  I'm grateful for her, and am so blessed to call her, "Mom."  She was... and is... the mother I've always hoped to be.

Thank you Mom, for everything... only you will truly know what that means.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Closer to the Heart

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart 


I consider myself an artist, although I have no formal training.  Yet, do we not consider children artists?  Before even entering preschool, children know what they create will be beautiful.  They scribble, finger-paint, and draw from the heart. 

At some point, we're designated artistically inclined... or not.  Those deemed not very artistic just give up in a sense... perhaps they focus their energy elsewhere.  That seems logical, until you think back to how every child began life a natural Picasso...

My drawing at 4 1/2 is probably not much different 
than yours were at this age.

Whether you're inspired to draw on the back of your to-do list, like me (daffodil sketch, done in blue ball-point pen) or paint on a blank canvas ~ if it comes from your heart... it will be beautiful.

So get out some paper, a coloring book... anything.  Release that inner 5 year old spirit and have a little fun.  

Remember, we were all born natural artists... and no training, formal or otherwise, can change that.

"For all my life, 
I have been learning to paint like a child." 

~Pablo Picasso

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trifle of a Centerpiece

The kitchen is a great place for reinventing utilitarian pieces in to something decorative.  Take a trifle bowl... you can use it to make layered desserts, dips, and salads, but speaking for myself... I don't use it very often.  So, I took it down from its place in the pantry, and made a centerpiece out of it.

The themes I kept in mind were: natural & beachy.  I didn't buy anything special... just searched around the house to put this display together.

Surprise!  The "tablecloth" is actually a cloth shower curtain.  I gathered it up on the ends to 1) hide the plastic strip at the top of the curtain 2) lend a casual feel.

Next I laid down a woven placemat (Katie Brown workshop, bought at Meijer's on sale a few weeks ago).  Then I centered the trifle bowl on the placemat and added 2 candles on either side... I tried the candles on upside-down sundae glasses and in small white bowls.  Both ways looked great, just use what you've got!

Now for the trifle bowl, the center of attention...  I found a tiny terra cotta pot (you could use any hard, small, level object) and centered it in the bottom.  Next I poured my old white button collection around it as filler...  If you don't have buttons, consider using shells or light-colored rocks.  On top of the terra cotta pot, I centered a rusty metal lid from an old 'Saltines' tin... you could use any small metal lid.  I centered a pillar candle on the lid and finished the arrangement by weaving in pearly branches I usually bring out at Christmas...

That's it!  It doesn't take much to make a special table display...
without spending a bundle.  Take a look around your home and get creating!

“You can’t use up creativity. 
The more you use, the more you have.” 

~ Maya Angelou ~

Friday, July 22, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace

"What's in a name? 
That which we call a rose 
by any other name 
would smell as sweet..."

~ Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet

This weed to some is very special to me.  It's spread prolifically since its introduction to American soil from Europe and Asia.  You can find it in ditches, fields, edging the woods... every time I see it I'm reminded of one of my sweetest childhood memories.


I was outside in the garden with my daddy.  I probably went to the edge of the woods to explore, as children do, and there he joined me.  I asked him about the pretty, lacy flowers growing there.  He explained they weren't something he'd planted.  In fact, they were considered a weed.

Why?... how could something so lovely be called a weed?  Daddy pulled weeds out of his gardens after all.  He explained that even weeds can be beautiful... and these certainly were.  Together we gathered a big cheery bouquet for our kitchen table.

Just like this so-called weed, 
you are not defined by what others may label you. 
You are beautiful because you were created by God.  

When my daughter Olivia was born, nearly 6 years ago, Queen Anne's lace was in full bloom...  Anne is her middle name not just because it sounds pretty with Olivia.  I chose that middle name with the hope she'd learn my daddy's lesson from me, and would pass it along to her children someday.

I can almost see her... kneeling down gently... drawing a little one close, perhaps next to the edge of the woods somewhere... "Do you see this flower?  Isn't it beautiful?  Let me tell you a story..."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Relax... Simple Candle Idea

 Finding time to relax can be difficult, especially during a hectic day... but with this simple candle idea, anyone can have a little 'me time.'  Cup of tea and cozy blanket optional...

Last evening, after clearing the dishes and sending the kids outside with their Dad, I had a little time to myself.  So, taking advantage of the situation... I gathered a few odds & ends pieces of glassware and some white candles, and brought them in to the living room to create a little mood lighting for Mommy.

Here's how you can do it too...  You don't have to use (or buy!) anything elaborate or expensive.  The display only takes minutes to put together.  When you're finished you can put everything back as if it never existed, although it's pretty enough to keep around for awhile if you like...

Candy dish, sundae glass, vase...

Add a votive to show off details. 

 Try turning the glassware over
and displaying candles on the bases.
Just make sure everything is steady
and there's room for the candle on top.

Why not find a little 'me time' for yourself today?
Just sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great is Thy Faithfulness

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:22-23

One of the most beautiful hymns of our time is "Great is Thy Faithfulness."  The words started as a humble poem... one of approximately 1200 written by Thomas Obadiah Chisolm.  

This 'ordinary man' was born in Kentucky on July 29th,1866 and struggled with poor health his entire life.  In 1923, at 57 years old, he sent "Great is Thy Faithfulness" along with several other poems to his friend, Rev. William M. Runyan, a musician associated with the Moody Bible Institute and an editor with the Hope Publishing Company.  He was so moved by the words of this particular poem that he set out to write a score that would do it justice.  

When the hymn was published in 1923, and for several years, it garnered little attention outside of the Moody Bible Institute, where it was a favorite.  That changed in 1945 when it was sung at Billy Graham crusades.  From there it gained worldwide recognition.

At 75, Thomas Chisolm wrote:

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

This man, who had plenty to be bitter and complain about, made a decision to be grateful for God's faithfulness... he found and appreciated the good things in his life, and thanked God for them.

Thomas Obadiah Chisolm lived to the old age of 93.  He helped to give us a wonderful piece of music which will surely stand the test of time.  More than that, this 'ordinary man' behind the music was a wonderful individual, who... to this day... is an amazing example of a man who faithfully trusted God.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 89:1 

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.


Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vicki's Chocolate Crinkles

This is one of those recipes from my little red recipe box.  I've used this one several times, first because it uses simple ingredients I have on hand, second because it makes a nice big batch of cookies, and third because... well, they're good!  Can't go wrong with chocolate either...  On the recipe card, "Chocolate Crinkles" is written as the name, but "Vicki" is written off to the side.  So I think it's only fitting to rename them after her: Vicki's Chocolate Crinkles...

2 c. sugar
1 c. shortening or butter*
2 eggs

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

confectioner's sugar

In a large bowl cream sugar, shortening (or butter), and eggs.  In a medium bowl mix flour, cocoa, salt, and soda.  Add flour mixture to cream mix.  Form balls and roll in confectioner's sugar.  Bake at 350` for 10 minutes.  Don't over bake.  Enjoy!

* I've tried using shortening, which results in a crunchier cookie.  For this recipe I prefer using butter or even half butter/ half shortening.  The cookies turn out with a richer flavor, and not as crunchy.

"All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!"  ~Charles Schulz

Friday, July 15, 2011


If you're like me, when you first read Fricidillies you thought, what is that?  Why, it's the name of a recipe, of course... I found this one in my little red box too.  In the top right hand corner, credit for this one goes out to a Mrs. Roy Waits of Lancaster, Ohio.

2 lb. ground beef*
6 slices bread (no crusts)
2 beaten eggs
1 c. milk
2 tsp. Lawry's seasoning

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. water
potato chips

Mix and fry in patties dropped from teaspoon.  Place in casserole.  Mix soup and water and pour over above.  Sprinkle with potato chip bits.  Bake 1 hour at 350`.

*An internet search resulted in me finding a few recipes that substituted 1/2 lb of the beef for pork.  All around there aren't too many recipes for this dish.  Wonder where it began... and how it got that name.  Just saying it makes me smile.  Fricidillies! 

The result was very good.  My husband compared it to baked steak, and the kids liked eating their "little hamburgers."  I'll be making fricidillies again soon!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Precious Little Gifts

   If you've ever been around young children, you've probably received one or two of their hand-picked bouquets.  Clasped in tiny, chubby fingers... they're a gift of love from a little one wishing for nothing in return ~ except what we give them anyway... a kiss, a hug, a "Thank you so much, these are just beautiful!" 

    How many times have you taken those carefully gathered flowers and moments later, for whatever reason, placed them on the ground to wither?  Tiny, precious gifts quickly and simply forgotten.

Those precious little gifts are just like God's blessings.

   Little blessings you're grateful for in one moment, and forget about in the next.  Don't let all those precious little gifts go to waste.  Take time to notice and appreciate the moments in life that make you say, "Thank You so much, that was just beautiful!"  Let God know you appreciate even His smallest intervention in your day.
  You'll find the small things add up...

   Maybe the next time a child bounds over to you with a bouquet to hold... instead of setting it aside, take the time to place it in water.  Remember what it stands for... because it's actually one of God's precious little gifts too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homemade Pickles

Our cucumbers are doing well this year.  We're starting to harvest several daily... so that means there are pickles to be made!  My husband makes them every summer, regardless of our own crop (but it's nice when they're from your garden).  He's always trying new recipes, and there's never any canning involved.  Here's the one that got him started.  I made sure to include all the original directions...

12-15 cucumbers (depending on size)
7 or more cloves garlic
1/3 c. coarse pickling salt
1  1/2 tsp. pickling spice
2 tsp. dill seed
2 tsp. dill weed*
3/4 c. white vinegar
6 c. water

*Can use fresh or dried dill weed.  If using fresh, use about 8 - 4" sprigs of dill.

Cut the cucumbers lengthwise, but NOT all the way through.  Place in a large glass or plastic jar.  In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients, then pour over cucumbers.    Cover with wax paper- 4 sheets thickness- and secure with rubber band.  Sit on counter and shake for 24 hours (not you, the jar) then put in refrigerator for 7 days.  Eat & Enjoy!

There's no place like...

 Home Sweet Home

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly, that come at my call --
Give me them -- and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
Thro' the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the caress of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet, home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home! 

~poem and ballad written by J.H. Payne in 1822 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mom's Raspberry Trifle

Raspberries are in season right now, so it's a great time for this dessert... which tastes as good as it looks.  If you make it, I recommend using a trifle bowl or large clear glass bowl for presentation.  You'll want to be able to see the pretty red and white layers...  

1 can sweetened condensed milk (chilled)
1 c. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (3.5 oz) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 c. heavy whipping cream

1 Angel Food cake, cut in 1" cubes

2 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam
2 c. fresh raspberries

Optional garnish: chocolate curls or mint leaves

In a large bowl blend together milk, water, and vanilla.  Add pudding mix and whisk 2 minutes.  Let stand 2 minutes.  Cover and chill until mixture is set.  Whip the heavy whipping cream on medium until soft peaks form.  Fold in to the chilled mixture.  Place 1/2 cake cubes in serving bowl.  Top with 1/2 cream mixture.  Carefully spread jam.  Sprinkle 1 cup raspberries over jam.  Repeat layers, with raspberries finishing on top.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

"And the fruits will outdo what the flowers have promised."        
~ Francois de Malherbe

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Tea" lights

I love simple decorating ideas.  I love them even more when they're inexpensive... like this one.  All you need are two items: an old teacup, and a votive or tea light candle... and the match to light it I suppose.  Place the candle inside, and there you have it!

It's nice to be able to move them around if you want a little more accent lighting.

Here I moved one to highlight a photograph of my Grandma Leasure.

Gather them together as a table centerpiece...

These are just a few of my suggestions... have fun displaying your own "tea" lights! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Bold Declaration

Change.  It makes us uncomfortable, and it requires sacrifice.  As I sit here on the 235th anniversary of our country's independence, I am grateful for it.

Did you know that when the American Revolutionary War started in 1775, most colonists were not in favor of independence?  They were comfortable with the British in control.  It was what they were used to... therefore many thought change was unnecessary. 

One year later, the attitude toward Great Britain was dramatically different.  Colonists were getting fed up with life under British rule.  A pamphlet published in January of 1776, "Common Sense" at first signed, written by an Englishman, further fanned the flames toward freedom.  The best-seller explained, in simple terms, why it made sense for the colonists to start their own country, with it's own government. 

In June, representatives of the 13 colonies came together in Philadelphia to compose the Declaration of Independence... one of our nation's greatest treasures.  On July 2nd, the document was voted and agreed upon... but July 4th was the official day it was adopted.  So we celebrate their bold declaration on this day.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 
~ penned by Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence 

What if our forefathers just sat back and decided they didn't want to fight for independence?  Where would we be had they not desired change in their life?  What if they would have chosen what was easy instead of what was right

As you enjoy your freedoms today, remember those who've gone before, making sacrifices and difficult decisions so you may live your life however you choose...

We the people, of the United States of America 
...say thank you!!

Happy Independence Day! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"When at Last I Took the Time..."

 "When at last I took the time to look into the heart of a flower, it opened up a whole new world; a world where every country walk would be an adventure, where every garden would become an enchanted one."  
~ Princess Grace of Monaco

"When at last I took the time..." 

Let me tell you about a lesson I'll never forget.  It was a Wednesday or Sunday night in the middle of Summer.  There weren't many teens in the youth group that evening, so we walked outside to a picnic table to talk and pass time... or so we thought.  As we found a seat, we were told to be quiet... and to close our eyes.  Someone mumbled something, and so we were told again... just be quiet and listen.  We started looking at each other... what was going on?  "Ahem...eyes closed..."  I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking ~ Is this really our lesson? What is this?   

After several minutes of silence, we were asked to say what we'd heard.  What?  No one talked... there was nothing to hear!  Our youth leader asked, "Didn't you hear the birds?  Kids singing inside?  Cars passing by on the road?  The sound of the breeze blowing through the trees?  Listen again."

Wow, okay... I was surprised I hadn't noticed those things.  Nothing was wrong with my hearing.  I just tuned everything out because I was too busy thinking.

I find myself, at the end of the day especially, contemplating that lesson all over again...  What did I really take the time to hear today?  What did I really take the time to see?  What didn't I... what did I miss?  Sometimes I get so caught up in my thoughts I miss what's right in front of me.  Sometimes it's best to be silent and live in the moment. 

So, this is what I've learned: Take time to really experience your life right now.  Don't get so caught up in thoughts and dreams that you miss what wonderful things you already have... at this moment.

When at last I took the time...
I'll leave it up to you to finish the rest.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dutch Apple Cake

Here is another old recipe from my little red box... the name is Dutch Apple Cake on the card, but you could also call it an apple upside-down cake.

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. milk

2 baking apples, peeled and sliced thin

2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

1/3 c. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 egg

Melt 1/2 cup butter, then add brown sugar, cinnamon and milk.  Pour in 9" pan.  Arrange apples on top.  In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Cut 1/3 cup butter in to flour mixture.  In another bowl mix milk and egg then add to flour mixture.  Stir only until flour is mixed in.  Spread batter over apples.  Bake in 350` oven 45 to 50 min.  Serve upside down.  Garnish with whipped cream.

A little food for thought:

"Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed." 
~ Robert H. Schuller