Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Something from Nothing...

 Sometimes I look at something and see potential... but for what?  I think it over and over, only to come up empty.  Today, I went out to the barn to feed our cows and saw a bent, rusty old light cage ~ once used to protect a light bulb.  I've passed it by several times with a quick thought of... I should use that somehow.  Ignoring the urge to just pass by again, I picked it up and brought it inside.

After looking around the house for inspiration, I came across a crystal bell in my daughter's 'glass collection.'  I recently bought it for $3 at the thrift store.  It's ball-shaped 'ringer' fell out on the car-ride home... so, turned upside down, it was a perfect fit in the light cage ~ for a vase.

Then I just needed something to hang it with, so ... after successfully scavenging for twine among my gardening supplies ... I cut it in to 3 equal lengths (always cut more than you think you'll need ~ for any project).  I tied the twine around the top of the light cage, spaced as evenly as possible, and then secured the pieces at the top in a loop to form a hanger.

From there I placed the upside-down bell inside, filled it with water and flowers, and hung my creation next to a window.  I think it'll be a nice place to display delicate blooms from my garden that might otherwise get overlooked.

I realize you might not have everything on hand to make this hanging vase, but maybe the bigger take-away is ~ it's good to try and see potential in 'useless' objects, and create something from nothing.  If your ideas don't work out the first time, just keep looking and you're sure to find something to save!


“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, 
than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” 
~ Edward de Bono

Monday, August 29, 2011

Grater Vase

Here's a simple project to try.  A pretty autumn centerpiece... or not!  Use it anywhere you could use a little color, or add it to an autumn display. 

While visiting my parents this weekend, I noticed a new light on the counter, made by re-purposing an old grater.  Seeing it motivated me to get my grater out and do something with it.  So thanks Mom for inspiring this post today!

You might already have an old grater sitting around, like me.  If not, they're fairly easy to come by at antique or thrift stores.  Pretty inexpensive too.  As for the other supplies:

1.  Anything non-metal to center the grater on... I used a vintage potholder.  

2.  A small container, such as an old spice shaker.

3.  Flowers, leaves, or berries... I used hydrangeas.

4.  A few apples, pears or mini-pumpkins/gourds.

To put it together, first place something down to form the base of the arrangement (instead of a vintage potholder you could use: a cloth napkin, handkerchief, crocheted doily, kitchen towel, placemat....)  The reason to put something down first is to keep the metal grater away from water... and rust. 

Next fill the spice container with water and center on the base.  Place the grater over top.

Use your choice of flowers, branches of autumn leaves*, or clusters of bittersweet.  Grasses or dried seed pods can also be a nice addition.  Just take a walk outside for some ideas.  

*In an arrangement, anything with a 'woody stem', such as a branch, should be smashed with a hammer at the bottom to allow for more water flow to flowers or leaves (I do this with lilac in the Spring).

To finish, gather 2 or 3 apples, pears, mini-pumpkins or gourds at the side... and that's it!

"Winter is an etching, 
spring a watercolor, 
summer an oil painting...
and autumn a mosaic of them all." 
~ Stanley Horowitz

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

A new baby is like the beginning of all things, 
hope, a dream of possibilities. 
~ Author Unknown
Age is an issue of mind over matter.  
If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.  

~Mark Twain

The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained.  
By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, 
and if it is good, it is better than your youth.  
~ Marya Mannes

This world can change in the blink of an eye.  
That is why everyday, not just today, 
I thank God for you!  
Love you Mom, and...
 Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nearing Summer's End

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer.  
My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.  
It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.  

~Violette Leduc

"Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year... 
it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul."

~ Reverend Billy Graham

This was one of those perfect New England days in late summer  
where the spirit of autumn takes a first stealing flight, like a spy, 
through the ripening country-side, and, with feigned sympathy 
for those who droop with August heat, 
puts her cool cloak of bracing air 
about leaf and flower and human shoulders. 

~ Sarah Orne Jewett, The Courting of Sister Wisby, 1887

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Moon

"The moon is at her full, and riding high,
Floods the calm fields with light.
The airs that hover in the summer sky
Are all asleep to-night."

~ William C. Bryant 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
- Psalms 19:1

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's Never Too Late

This morning while preparing a bottle of milk for our calf, I called to the kids to let them know I'd be heading out soon.  Usually my daughter stays inside while my son walks with me back to the barn.  I look forward to our little morning walk & talks... it's a special time for us both.

Today I heard two little voices say, "Bye Mom!"  So I left alone.  I attempted to take in the early morning sights, but my thoughts kept drifting back to my son.  It was so quiet without him talking by my side...

The calf was patiently waiting in his usual spot, so I made my way over and he started on breakfast.  His bottle was half emptied when I heard a door open and shut, and then I heard crying... it was my little boy.  He ran to me, hugged my leg, and asked through tears, "Am I too late?"  I said, "No, look... I'm still here.  You can still help me feed him."  He rubbed his eyes and reached out to hold the bottle.

As the calf finished, I took the empty bottle in one hand, and my son's hand in the other.  We walked back to the house together, with enough talking, giggles, and smiles to make up for any time lost ~ or tears shed...

We yearn for closeness with our children ~ just as God longs for that same closeness with us...

Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives and what we want, that we put God off to the side...  We think we've got everything under control and either forget to ask for His help, or just don't think we need it... but we do.  It's comforting to know that although we may forget about Him... He'll never forget about us.

God is faithfully waiting for you to remember Him.  He's waiting for you to return to His side... and no, it's never too late for that.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
- Lamentations 3:22-23

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jars of Clay

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

- Genesis 2:7

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; 
we are the clay, and you are our potter; 
we are all the work of your hand.

- Isaiah 64:8

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 
- 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

What we are is God's gift to us.  
What we become is our gift to God.  
~Eleanor Powell

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Candles & Clouds...

Biscuits that is!  Another recipe from the little red box... and a simple table centerpiece.


This dough can be kneaded and rolled out for cut-out biscuits, or with a little additional milk, can be made in to drop biscuits.  (The drop biscuits are pictured above)  A note at the top of the recipe card also says: good for shortcake.  Hope you'll give these a try!

Cloud biscuits

2 c. sifted flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1 egg (beaten)
2/3 c. milk *

Sift together dry ingredients, cut in shortening.  Combine egg and milk.  Add to mixture all at once.  Stir until dough follows fork around bowl.  Turn out on lightly floured surface.  Knead gently with heel of hand 20 strokes.  Roll dough to 3/4" thickness.  Dip 2" biscuit cutter in flour.  Cut straight through (no twisting).  Place (upside down) on ungreased baking sheet 3/4" apart for crusty biscuits, close for soft biscuits.  May be chilled 1-3 hours if desired.  Bake at 450` for 10-14 min.

* For drop biscuits increase milk to 3/4 c.  Omit kneading.  Drop dough from teaspoon.  Proceed...  

A few tips:

~ Use parchment paper to line your baking sheet, and you won't have to
    worry about burning (especially if using a dark or non-stick baking sheet).

~ Preheat your oven to 460` until you place your biscuits inside, then reduce
    to 450.  This helps the biscuits rise higher by giving them a 'jump start.'


Simple centerpiece:

Look for an old tin at thrift stores, antique stores, or yard sales... and fill with pillar candles.  I just have it sitting on a place mat.  I needed to boost 2 of the candles, so I went out to the garage and found 2 small, equal metal plumbing pieces.  My husband never knew he helped decorate!

Found this interesting:

“In the Virginia of the olden time no breakfast or tea-table was thought to be properly furnished without a plate of these indispensable biscuits.....Let one spend the night at some gentleman-farmer's home, and the first sound heard in the morning, after the crowing of the cock, was the heavy, regular fall of the cook's axe, as she beat and beat her biscuit dough.....Nowadays beaten biscuits are a rarity, found here and there, but soda and modern institutions have caused them to be sadly out of vogue.”
 ~ ‘Virginia Cookery Book’ (1885)


Monday, August 8, 2011

Simple Man

"To thine own self be true..." ~ Shakespeare

As I take my son by the hand and lead him to bed, I forget all the events of the day.  They seem insignificant as I fix his pillow and pull the covers around him.  Kneeling to pray at his bedside, I ask that we place our hands together and close eyes...

I Thank God for my family... for keeping us safe and healthy, yet another day.  I pray for a restful night's sleep.  I pray for angels to watch over my son and wake him with the morning light... In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.  Standing once more, I lean over and give him a hug and kiss.  We say our, "I love you's," and he turns over... already drifting off to dreamland.

Slowly I walk to the door ~  and pause.  I have a few more prayers for my precious son's 'right now' as well as his future.  I pray he's learning to be respectful, make good decisions, be thankful for what he's given ... I pray I'm being the mother he needs me to be.

I open my eyes... and for now he's still just a little boy, tucked in under the covers.  Someday, I'll open them to see a much different boy, at least on the outside.  Quietly, I turn out the light and close the door...

My innermost mother's hope for my son is true happiness.  I hope he follows his heart, and most importantly...remembers there is someone up above.

I hope he's a simple kind of man... 

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it'll help you some sunny day

Oh, take your time don't live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
Go find a woman you'll find love
And don't forget son there is someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man's gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can? Oh yes, I will

Boy, don't you worry you'll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?

Baby be a simple, be a simple man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man...

 Simple Man ~ Lynyrd Skynyrd

Train up a child in the way he should go; 
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
~ Proverbs 22:6

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Value of a Penny

When we were little, my brother and I would visit Grandma and Grandpa Leasure with Mom.  We'd start in the kitchen, usually with a combination of hugs, milk and cookies, then mom and Grandma would get to talking... and we'd sneak off.  One of our favorite things to do was "quietly" make our way up the old white farmhouse's very narrow and very steep staircase...

I emphasize "quietly" because those steps were also very squeaky, no matter how hard we tried to be silent...

Anyway, when we finally reached the top of the steps there were several choices.  There was a "junk room", the one little bathroom of the house (keep in mind ~ seven kids + two adults had to share it!), a linen closet, and several bedrooms that used to be my mom, aunt and uncle's.

In one of those upstairs bedrooms... one immediately to the left, there was a jar of pennies.  Wait...let me rephrase... a HUGE jar of pennies.

I don't know for sure who's they were, but they always impressed my brother and me.  We'd question each other... "How many pennies do you think are in there?  How much do you think that thing is worth?  Is it too heavy to carry down the stairs, if we both work together?"  I don't think that last one would've ended well...

Even little pennies add up.  In our world where it's all about dollars and no cents (feel free to substitute 'sense') pennies seem to have lost their value.  Who bends down to pick up pennies anymore?

 Well, me for one.  

You see, my Dad has a wise saying that goes something like this:

"If you don't bend down to pick up pennies, 
don't expect to find any quarters just lying around." 

I like to think of his saying in another sense...

"If you don't pause to notice the little blessings, 
don't expect to see the big ones either."

Take time to appreciate even the smallest blessings in your life... the perfume of a pretty flower, a baby's giggle, a goodnight kiss ~ hugs, milk and cookies... I know you'll soon realize how richly blessed you are ~ regardless of how much money is in your wallet.  Oh, and next time don't overlook the value of that shiny penny on the pavement.  Pick it up, and...who knows, maybe you'll start finding quarters...

For the Love of Flowers

I know the beauty of our Lord
By all His wondrous works out-poured
The intricate and rare design
Of blue-bell, rose and columbine
The leaf that bursts from wooded bud
The shower that spawns an emerald flood
As out across each hill and plain
The muddy dross is green again
The bird returning to its nest
No map to point it east or west
The earth no more a dormant plot
As daisy and forget-me-not
Clothe the wood-lot and the dell
Where yesterday the snowflakes fell
As hope and flower blooms anew
In spring-time’s sun-kissed avenue
I know the beauty of the Lord
As seed springs from a soil restored
Where thankful gardeners hug the sod
And the handiwork of God

The Beauty of the Lord ~ written by Janet Martin

"I'd rather have roses on my table 
than diamonds on my neck." 
~ Emma Goldman ~

"A morning-glory at my window satisfies me 
more than the metaphysics of books." 
~ Walt Whitman ~

"With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters purple asterisks for autumn."
~ Conrad Aiken, Preludes for Memnon, 1930 ~

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."  
~ Claude Monet ~

Thursday, August 4, 2011

While She's Still Little

My husband came close as I was cradling our sweet baby girl and whispered... "Before you know it, she'll be waving goodbye to us and getting on the school bus."  I didn't say anything or take my eyes off her.  I thought... that day will come, but not today.

We've shared many days together since that first one... each with its own special moments...

Now that day is so close I can count how many there are left until then... 26.  I still have mixed emotions about it.  That sweet baby I've cradled in my arms, carried on my back, and led by the hand... will walk off by herself, turn around, and wave goodbye to us...

What is the first day of school?  It's a beginning.  It's the beginning of new growth in my child, and me... and it's good... but that doesn't mean there won't be any tears, at least from this mommy (and daddy).

I'm sure it'll get better after those first few days.  I know there are many, many more days to come until that day when she'll graduate, that day when she'll find the one... that day when her Daddy will give her away...

Those days will come soon enough... but not today.

Today, I'm going to enjoy time with my little girl... while she's still little.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Good and Perfect Gift

Dad has worked for the same company, out of the same office, for several years now.  He, like many other fathers, has gathered quite the collection of photographs and artwork on his office walls.  Recently he was told he'd be moving to a new office... and so began the process of 'stripping wall-papers'... 

Yesterday I came out to visit and noticed a few manilla envelopes on the kitchen table.  Momentarily I wondered about the contents... then forgot about them as the kids played with toys, and I talked with Dad.

I left the room, but could hear lots of talking and giggling.  I couldn't quite make out what was going on.  Upon my return, I found Dad and the kids huddled together on the living room floor, looking at examples of my (and my brother's) childhood artwork and a few photographs.  As I leaned in, I spotted a manilla envelope.   

So that's what had been stashed inside...

As we looked through all the scribbles and 'I love you Daddy' pictures... there was a large black and white photo.  It almost seemed out of place with everything else.  It was a picture of me I'd never seen; probably just covered up through the years on one of his walls.

As I brought it closer, I asked Dad if he'd noticed what I was holding... a tiny bouquet of Queen Anne's lace.

This may seem of little importance, unless you've read my post, Queen Anne's Lace, where I describe one of my childhood memories.  Coincidentally, I'm even standing by the edge of the woods somewhere...

Have you ever found a perfect gift for someone?  This picture was just that to me... a perfect gift, received in God's perfect timing.  Today I will remember to thank God for His good and perfect gifts, whether they be big or little... expected, or not.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above... 
-James 1:17