Sunday, June 30, 2013

Odds & Ends in June

I can hardly believe that June has come to its end, but here we are, the heat and humidity leading us closer to the swelter of July and August.  Here is a sampling of what is going on around here... 

1.  The crape myrtles that my son gave me for Mother's Day seem to be satisfied in their new home.  If a shrub could represent my childhood it would be the crape myrtle.  We had a large one in our yard that I spent hours sitting in, playing, singing, imagining.
2.  I finally have a hydrangea in bloom!  This strip of ground must be just right for growing things because everything I've planted there is just, well, blossoming! 
3.  These red dianthuses are taking off just in time for the 4th of July.  They are currently growing in with at least 6 of my potted flowers.  (I looked it up.  Dianthuses is indeed the plural of dianthus.)
4.  Some of my potted plants NOT thriving in the heat.  I haven't even bothered to learn this one's name since I can't get it to grow.  I'm about to pitch it out and replace it with something a bit more reliable.

1.  Clover is everywhere, which means honeybees are everywhere.  So watch your step!
2.  This nasty-looking fungus is called a stinkhorn.  It just popped up in my flowerbed overnight and was gone in a day or two.   Stinkhorn is appropriately named as it it not only looks like a poo-lollipop, but smells of poo, too!  But  flies love it.  Ick!

1.  All of our male hummingbirds are called "Napoleon".  So here is Napoleon surveying his territory waiting to see if he has a clear shot to the feeders.  We don't have as many this year as in years past but I still keep them fed.
2.  This tiny baby bunny has found a home under my hydrangea.  It scampers to the rosemary when we are out watering the shrubs.  Currently he is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.  That is only a theory since I haven't actually held it.  It is awfully cute!

1.  Summertime is perfect for sun tea.  I make a quart of hibiscus tea this way just about every day.  Might as well use the heat for my benefit, right?

2.  I made/altered curtains for my son's new house.  The curtains for the kitchen and media room are of the fabric pictured above.  The ones for the guest/playroom are solid ivory.  Next is the boys' room.  We have to pick fabric for that first. 

3.  This is what happens when you start to make nectar for the hummingbirds and then forget that you left the burner on.  Yikes!  Folks, no matter how hard I try, I just cannot multi-task.  This is the final proof I need.

1.  I also began trying my hand at glass etching.  This is my very first attempt.  It is hard to see but there is a primitive house with the word "HOME" beneath it.  It was a blogiversary gift for my dear friend, Cheryl, who writes a wonderful blog called "Thinking About Home."  She has been writing it for 4 years!  I made the stencil using contact paper for the house from a picture of one that she used for a series she wrote on hospitality and then used pre-made stencils for the lettering.  She is an excellent hostess both in real life and through her blog.  I am repeatedly blessed by her thoughts.  Stop by for a visit HERE.

I know some of you Heat Seekers need no convincing that summer is great, but I need to purposely look for the evidence.  I will always choose air conditioning over fresh air.  Every time.  Except last Friday.  I did work on a project in the heat of the afternoon but I knew it was time to quit when a bead of sweat dripped into my ear canal.  Something tells me I am going to have to look really, really hard to find much good stuff outside in July!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Keeping Up with the Twins

Levi and Liam came to visit a couple different days in June.  Here they are on the day that Grandpa and Daddy had a yard sale...

Liam on the left.  Levi on the right.

Their little white overalls exposed just how dirty my floor was!  They had fun remembering their "old home" even though the furnishings had slightly changed.

Here they are on the day Daddy and Mommy left them with me and Bia (Auntie Amelia) while they went to the dentist...

Levi in orange.  Liam in gray.
Levi loved the new rattle eggs.  He ran around shaking them above his head.  Liam occupied himself by exploring the place using his new climbing skills.

Our fireplace has a built-in wood box that they liked playing in.  They weren't able to climb into it while they lived here.  They've really grown!  And now they know just how to climb down without cracking their heads... feet first.

We went outside to play.  They both HAD to taste the clovers.  They both spit them out.

They are busy little boys, for sure.  I am so looking forward to their next visit!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Yellow Dishes and Smoocheroos for Hubby

I have been looking for special occasion dinner plates for about, oh, 20 years now.  I could never find any that I thought I wouldn't get bored with so I just kept using the plain white Corelle that  I bought the year after I got married.  That was almost 25 years ago.

I never really searched for new plates, just browsed about if I saw something that looked interesting.  Then one day I saw a couple boxes of dish sets sitting on a clearance shelf and said "Yep, that's what I want."  My husband agreed so we bought them.  I love the color.  Yellow.  Which is odd because I am not typically drawn it.  But this particular shade of yellow is a bit more neutral than others and will work quite well with all sorts of accent dishes.

Aren't they pretty?  I just love 'em!  And the flowers?  A nice "welcome home" gift from my Hubby after returning from an overnight visit somewhere.  What can I say?  He misses me when I'm gone.  That's not to say that he isn't delighted to see me go sometimes but that is for another post.

I've kept the new dishes in their boxes all these months because I didn't have a place for them on any shelf or in any cabinet.  After the kids moved out I had much more space to spread out and I had the perfect spot for them.  I placed the mugs, bowls, small plates, and dinner plates in said perfect spot and closed the door.  


The large plates stuck out about an inch past where they should have!  I think I said  "You have GOT to be kidding me!" a little more forcefully than I had intended because my husband and daughter were quite concerned that I may have just lost $1,000 or something major like that.

Months of waiting and they didn't fit!  So I Googled plate racks.  I must've looked at 50 or more styles but none of them would work since they weren't angled correctly for my needs.  This had nothing to do with preference.  The plates had to be at an angle to fit.

My husband offered to build one for me but... well... see... how do I say this gently?  He doesn't always listen to what I need for him to build.  He builds for me what he thinks I want him to build for me rather than what I meticulously describe.  This has caused many an argument over the last 25 years.  One of which happened just a few weeks ago where I vowed and declared that I would never let him build another thing for me... ever! 

I like functional things to be plain, no frills.  My husband likes to add "touches".  Just extras that he thinks will enhance it to better meet my needs.  He would have made an excellent Victorian.  My natural inclination to keep things Spartan tends to make cave dwellers look a bit frou-frou.  And the ones who had those stick figures on the walls?  Pretentious!

I completely rejected was hesitant to accept his kind offer and kept looking despite his promise to keep it simple.

Now to make a long story slightly shorter I'll skip some minor details.  We compromised (that's what you do when all else fails, right?) and decided to go with purchasing a plain dish rack for him to disassemble and put back together at the needed angle.  Then we found out how much it would cost... upwards of $40!  NO THANK YOU! (**See Note at bottom**)

Isn't it amazing how the exorbitant cost of something can increase your faith in your husband's promise to deliver?  So I gave him the okay to build it... along with meticulous instructions.

Here it is, friends.  My plain dish rack.  It fits and is EXACTLY what I asked for.  Not one single frou to be found.  I danced!  I clapped my hands!  I gave my man a big ol' smoocheroo right then and there, and declared it to be perfect!  And it cost less than $10 even when you figure in the sales tax and the small amount of paint that he already had on hand.

And the door completely closes!

**Note** We would have needed to purchase 2 racks at $20-25 each (plus shipping) in order for it to hold all 8 plates.

This blog post is linked up to

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Nest of Their Own

Our son and his wife moved in with us early February, 2012 when we found out they were expecting twins.  This was to afford them the ability to save some money to purchase their own house and allow my daughter-in-law to continue her college education without having to work outside the home.  This kind of arrangement has become more common, a sign of the times.  I think it is called the "Boomerang Generation"-- adult children moving back in with their parents after having been on their own for a time.

Zachary, our son, had moved out a few years earlier when he was 18.  He and his wife had rented an apartment and then a small house before moving into our renovated garage.  NOT the ideal situation for any of us, but affordable and with built-in babysitters!  Armed with good intentions and a plan for success, we began this unexpected phase.

It wasn't always easy.  It wasn't always fun.  In fact, it was occasionally terribly stressful.  But the intention was fulfilled and I was blessed to be part of the daily lives of my first grandchildren for over a year.  My husband and I became a team unlike any other time in our marriage.  I learned that true apologies are made out of strength, courage, and humility.  I gained a deeper understanding that love and strife are a part of every relationship but the outlook we want the most WILL conquer the other, if only in our own heart.

I miss seeing Levi and Liam as often as I used to but now our time together is primarily about having fun.  Tiring fun, but still fun.  And I love that! 

"The kids" have done a great job of sprucing up their new place, making it their own.  It is a cute little house with a nice big yard.  

Now my nest houses fewer people but it is still Not-So-Empty because it holds memories of both generations past and generations future, and the potential to be filled with the visitors that come our way. 

I am entirely grateful for all the lessons that I was presented with in the past year.  Hopefully some of them stuck.  I certainly didn't pass all of the tests!  But we each are moving forward, and filtering it out as we go.  And I am not ashamed to say that when I moved a piece of furniture a few days ago I got choked up when under it I found  a Cheerio.

P.S.  My husband also is not ashamed for me to tell you that he got choked up when he read that last sentence.  He is an AWESOME Grandpa... as you can see HERE.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And So the Battle Rages

I have an ongoing battle with my hair.  Obnoxiously curly is the best way I can describe it.  I've heard it all so don't even start... "You are lucky.  My hair won't even hold a perm," "I wish I had half the curl you have," "People pay good money to have hair like yours," etc.   

Don't get me wrong, when done correctly curly hair is beautiful and I do not wish that I had straight hair, and I am grateful that I have hair at all, but I would like for what I have to look better than it has.  I just want it to look like I actually care about its condition for appearance's sake.
So, armed with a picture that I found on the internet, I headed off to a local fancy-schmancy  hair salon, plopped myself in the hairdresser's chair and said "You're in for a treat."  Hairdresser took a look at my picture, took a look at my hair and said "I'm not too sure about this.  You'll actually have to *DO* something to your hair every day if I give you this cut."  Yes, he emphasized *DO*.    I replied "Let's go for it."  As he hacked off masses of curls, his hope rose to the point of saying "I think this *MIGHT* work after all!"  Yes, he emphasized *MIGHT*.  Cheeky fella!

Well, it has been a couple weeks since then and I've done fairly well at actually DOING something with my hair most days.  Mind you, I've never had the same results twice, and have had varying degrees of success.

Enter Delmarva humidity...

Some days I can get away with a quick blow dry.  But because of the humidity, today is not one of those days.  I will lay odds that we will not have another one of those days until at least September.  Probably October.  I dried my hair this morning, it didn't look too bad.  I went outside, spent about 10 minutes putting a couple flowers into their pots, walked past a mirror and... WHOA! Frizz 'fro!  So my hair and I had a conversation. I'll spare you the details. I don't want you to think I've gone completely off the deep end.

I can get the best hair cut, buy the costliest products, blow dry and flat iron til my arms grow heavy but at the end of the day, I still have curly hair.  As I work with it more and more it becomes a quicker process, but a process still.  I still need to wrestle with it the next day.

So, as I am in the process of conquering my hair, I realized that this ongoing battle is a metaphor for the life of a Christ-follower.  At least for this Christ-follower.  Flesh vs. Spirit.  My will vs. God's will.   Who is going to win?

I can pray, study, worship, and say all the right things, do all the right things but at the end of the day I'm still just a bag of flesh, a sinner in need of a Savior.  But I also know that I must wrestle it so that it will look like I actually care about its condition.  Not for appearance's sake, but for reflection's sake.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Green Tea... and Thoughts on Gagging

I try to drink the recommended amount of water each day.  Try. But I get really, really sick of water.  Sometimes it even makes me gag.  Literally. And we have "good" water, not the brackish stuff that many people have in this general area.

Since I'm trying to kick the diet soda habit, I can't even turn to that for an occasional break so I decided to start drinking a glass or two of unsweetened green tea each day in place of a glass or two of water.  And to add an illusion of sweetness, I mix in a little peppermint.  Perfect!

The tea was just the thing I was looking for to easily and healthily solve my problem.  I was perfectly content with it and could have happily replaced all my water with it.  It was refreshing and guilt-free!

Then it happened.  A doctor's visit.  My blood pressure was high.  Now I have 2 months to lower it without medication before they start pushing pills at me.  I don't want to start down THAT road anytime soon!  Among the things suggested to help naturally reduce my pressure is to limit my caffeine.  So I had a choice... give up the green tea (it has a fairly low caffeine level but it does add up!) or give up my morning coffee.

Now you have to understand,  I really, really enjoy my morning coffee.  Seriously!  My husband is forbidden to speak to me until I've had at least 2 sips.  Well, if he were bleeding profusely or the house were on fire I'd make an exception but other than that, no! (I slightly jest.  See my post about morning coffee HERE.)

What to do, what to do?  Well, since I was enjoying my green tea so much I decided to go with having a glass of it in the morning rather than a cup of coffee.  I knew it wouldn't be the same as coffee but figured it wouldn't be too much of an adjustment since I really, really liked the green tea, too.

I figured wrong. 

The tea that had been great when it was replacing a beverage that I didn't really want to drink anyway (the water) but when it replaced something I was so attached to, something that I just didn't want to give up, I became so unsatisfied with my tea that I found it disgusting.   It made me gag!  And then I got mad at my husband because he got to drink coffee and I had to smell it... and hear him sipping it!  I felt pretty sorry for myself.   So the very same thing that had been such a relief to me had now become a source of disdain.   

As a friend of mine would say "Sounds like a Bible lesson to me!"

We are so relieved, so refreshed by the promises in God's Word when we hear the good news.  We are so strengthened to know that by the power of God we are able to overcome some of our less-than-desirable character flaws.  And to know that we don't have to be eternally punished for the weaknesses that constantly plague us?  That's good stuff right there!

But then God starts messing with the things that we really, really desire.  Things that we really, really want to do, or affirm, or possess.  We don't find that stuff quite so refreshing.  Let's face it, some of His expectations are difficult to chew, let alone swallow, and they sometimes make us "gag".    And this is where the true test of our resolve (a.k.a. faith) comes into play.  Will we believe God in ALL things or will we believe only the bits about God that are easy, hoping the really tough stuff will be overlooked?

This morning I drank my green tea with a cheerful and grateful attitude, and jokingly asked my husband to refrain from looking like he was enjoying his coffee so much.  He complied by saying "This coffee is just horrible!"  The ornery grin he had on his face implied otherwise. Because I adjusted my attitude this was the first morning I didn't gag on my tea and my husband and I had a very pleasant conversation before he left for work.  But I know the real test of my resolve is yet to come.  What, then, will I choose?

Just as a final thought that occurred to me as I wrote this... Apparently, Jesus gags, too.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent."
--Revelation 3:15-19 (emphasis mine)