Friday, July 29, 2016

Blessings win

Some weeks I'm especially grateful to have the encouragement of Friday Fave Five, to look back and find the blessings among the challenges.  This is one of them.  Blessings win!

1.   I am the lucky recipient of a 'gift-away' from Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.  Peggy hosts a link up party once a month, and I just love the format that she provides for looking at the 'gift of an ordinary day.' I won her drawing for a gift package last month, and it arrived in the mail earlier this week.  A coloring book with wonderful pictures and quotes (have you gotten into the coloring craze? I have and it's fun!) There's a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, which I'm gifting to my daughter.  And -- I love this -- Peggy's idea, a 'landing pad' which is essentially a supersized coaster that can hold things that need a place to 'land' -- keys, cell phone, mug, etc.  I am using this on my desk and it holds my tea cup and my cell phone.

2. My dad and stepmom are up north for a couple weeks, and on Wednesday they drove through Wisconsin and stopped to see Luke and Miranda and the kids.  I had such a warm, fuzzy feeling all day, knowing that they all got to be together.  Luke snapped this picture of Carol holding Sawyer.  It is the next best thing to holding him myself!

3. On Saturday we spent the afternoon with our friends Rick and Pam.  We went to a beer festival in their new town, which is just a few miles north of us.  Good fun, good eats, good friends!

4. We are nearing the finish in getting garden beds established.  Here's the framework for one that Dan just completed.  I'm so grateful for that husband of mine! It's amazing what he can do with one of my sketches and a picture from Pinterest:)

5.  I had a lovely day on Monday with my Aunt Ann.  We went to lunch at a new restaurant and did a bit of shopping. It was restful and fun and relaxing.  

How was your week?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mom's Quilt

Patti at Embracing Home is hosting a link party called Trip to the Past Tuesday.  It's a chance to share stories, photos, anything nostalgic. As someone who enjoys family history, I'm looking forward to sharing some of the keepsakes in my home and getting their stories written down.  It's an open party, all are welcome!

One of my favorite family treasures is a quilt that my mother made. She created it with pieces of fabric from members of our family. Little scraps of one-and-a-half-inch squares, join together to form rings that interlock with one another. The pattern is called the Wedding Ring.

I remember when Mom was making it. She gathered the scraps as though on a treasure hunt.  A scrap from Grandma's apron, a piece of Pop Pop's work shirt, another piece  from my brother's old Army fatigues. They were taken from clothes that had been discarded or no longer deemed functional,  snipped from the bottom of a shirt tail or inside a pocket.  Many of the pieces were taken from the scrap bag, fabric from sewing projects that she and I made.  I recognized the gingham from curtains she stitched that framed the windows in our kitchen.  There were pieces from the smock tops I made in junior high and proudly wore to school.  A piece of pink flannel with a puppy print were from a cousin's worn out pajamas, and a square cut carefully from the hem of an aunt's maternity blouse reveals the faded print of a kitten and a straw hat.

I run my fingers over the fabrics, coarse twill next to worn cotton pieced next to thin shirting. I have forgotten the source for each individual piece, but I can see the faces of my grandparents, my father, my brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Their faces stand out as boldly as the bright colors against muslin background.  I can see Mom's hands at work, pulling needle and thread through the layers, stitching frayed edges to hold the patches within the quilt, just as our family is bound together by circumstance and love.  It is her legacy, to remind us that although we are all very different, we are one family.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Books, creme brulee French toast and more favorites

Because I'm feeling a little bit rebellious, I'm going to count backwards this week, saving the best for last.  Which means very little, because here in no particular order are my favorites:

5.  Yesterday I met my friend Renee for brunch.  We went to a patio cafe, sat at a table with an umbrella and I had the creme brulee French toast and she had the Belgian waffle with strawberries and real whipped cream.  We drank copious amounts of coffee and talked about summer so far and how there is still a lot left to go, and we're not going to rush it or waste a moment.

4.  On Monday, I watched my 4-month-old grandson Bentley.  We went to the library to pick up a book that was on hold for me. He patiently waited in his stroller while I browsed the stacks, then we sat in one of the window seats that overlooks the park and I whispered to him all the lovely books we would read when he gets a little bit older.  And I willed it into him to breathe in the scent of all those wonderful books and to love them as much as I do!

3.  Lilly went to the groomer for a much overdue cut and shampoo.  I love our groomer, she is so patient with Lilly's, shall we say 'idiosyncrasies,' and once confided in me that she sits on the floor with all 45 pounds of Lilly in her lap, to cut her toenails and trim her paws.

2.  I wrote about our weekend trip back here. We came home on Sunday and I am still savoring the memories of the lovely time we had in the mountains.

1. And the number one favorite of the week is . . . a new sprinkler system was installed in the backyard on Monday!! (insert roar of the crowd here)  No more moving the old oscillating sprinkler numerous times each night and no more dragging the hose around to water the garden beds.  I have a few pots that I'll hand water, but we now have drip systems for the veggie garden and rose garden, and the hard-to-get-to side yard has a little zone all its own. Dan will rig up an extension for the bird bath, so it too will have its own water supply.  I am a happy camper.

How was your week? You, too, can be part of the elite Friday Fave Five group by linking up here!  ;)


Monday, July 18, 2016

Rocky Mountain weekend

Dan and I took a road trip over the weekend to Ouray, Colorado.  It is located in the southwestern part of the state in the beautiful San Juan Mountains.  Ouray was established in the 1870s, during the height of the mining industry in the area.  It was named for Chief Ouray, a well-respected leader of the Ute Indian Nation.

The majestic mountains that were once home to more than 30 mining companies are a huge draw for jeeping enthusiasts.  Dan and his family explored many of the roads when they relocated to Colorado from Kansas in the 1970s. "Four-wheeling" as they called it, was a new activity for me, but I soon came to appreciate the skill required to maneuver vehicles over rugged terrain and the satisfaction in seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in our state.

On Saturday, we rented a jeep for the day.  July is prime time for wildflowers and we saw plenty during our drive to Yankee Boy Basin and on the road up to Imogene Pass.

The Colorado state flower is the blue columbine.

It's beautiful on its own and even lovelier when mingled with Indian paintbrush and bluebells.

There were fields covered with bluebells and delphinium.

Pictures just don't do justice to the beauty of the area.  If I had to choose a favorite flower it would be the Indian paintbrush. There were several different hues, including red, orange and rose.

This broad-leafed green plant has different names, but the book I have identifies it as corn lily.  It looks really pretty growing in meadows, especially since delphinium and bluebells seem to share the same neighborhoods.

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the bumblebee was huge!

At about 11,000 feet lies a delicate ecosystem where the wind is fierce and the temperatures icy cold.  Yet, there are still hundreds of species of plants that grow on the tundra, including lichens and moss and flowering plants.  They stand strong against natural elements, however walking or driving off road can easily destroy their environment.

We were surprised to learn that the road to Imogene had only opened a couple of weeks, but when we saw all the snow up top, we could see why.

The summit. . . 13,114 feet above sea level.

What goes up, eventually comes down;)  Down the other side of the pass, lies the town of Telluride.  We made it to the bottom and enjoyed a nice lunch, before driving back to Ouray using the 21st century route -- Highway 62.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summertime faves

This is going to be a quickly written list for Friday Fave Five.  In a couple of hours, Dan and I are heading out for the hills for the weekend.  That would be Favorite #1.  Our favorite house/dog sitter is taking over for the next couple days, and I have confidence that he will water my garden and keep things looking lively until I get back.  (fingers crossed).

#2.  The book I mentioned is last week's post is Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin.  I will attempt a review at some point, but let me say that it will most certainly be my favorite read of the year and I'm so happy to have found a new (to me) author to love!

#3.  This little guy was gathering pollen from one of the squash blossoms in the garden yesterday.  Oh.My.Goodness.  He is grabbing as much as he can and the last I saw, he could hardly take off, but rather 'rolled' down the edge of the leaf to get a running start?  ("I think I can. I think I can.")

#4.  I'm feeling so blessed by summer these days! Beautiful sunny mornings that beckon me to get up early and read devotions on the back porch while sipping coffee (made by my DH before he leaves for work). Garden delights! Outdoor aerobics in a pool of refreshing water with sunlight dancing on the surface.  Daisies galore in the garden, books that beg to be read and cool evenings with star-filled skies tease me outside one more time before going to bed.

#5.  New blogging friends!  Blogging can be like having pen pals, when a comment leads to further conversation through emails.  So many lovely bloggers out there!  

Enjoy the weekend, friends!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Daybook in July

For Today . . . July 12, 2016

Looking out my window . . . a warm summer evening.   There's been a forest fire burning for several days in the mountains near us, and the air has a soft hazy look to it.  The sun is setting behind the mountains and the sky is orange.

I am thinking. . . that it was really nice to have a 'stay-cation' last week from work. And that it was really nice to go back today to a fairly empty office.  I got a lot done!

I am thankful . . . to live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of retirees and other people home during the day.  It's nice to go outside and see other people, even just to wave hello.

One of my favorite things. . . my Chaco sandals.  They are soooo comfortable on my feet.

I am creating . . . a collection of writings about my family history.

I am watching. . . Homeland on Netflix with Dan.  We're on season 4 and we have a routine where we watch two episodes on a disc, save the third for the next night, then return the disc and wait (fingers drumming) for the next disc.  We are old-fashioned in that we don't stream, just get the discs.  If we streamed . . . well, we have no self discipline and we'd watch a whole season in one night, probably.

 I am listening to . . . a Carole King song on Amazon prime.

I am reading. . . Contrition by Maura Weiler.

I am hoping. . . that Dan's team wins their softball game tonight;)

I am learning practicing . . . how to listen to my young adult children without trying to sway their decisions or wishing for a preferred outcome.

In my garden . . . zucchini, zucchini, zucchini.

In my kitchen. . .  lemon zucchini bread.  The recipe is here.

Shared quote . . . Don't overly spiritualize your religion.  We're meant to live our faith in the everyday.  God wouldn't give us a gift we couldn't use. He wouldn't give us a way we couldn't walk. The law is written on our hearts, and with grace, we can live in it now. (From A Book of Grace-filled Days by Jessica Mesman Griffith).

  A moment from my day. . .

Closing Notes. . . Last month, Peggy (our hostess for The Simple Woman's Daybook), had a drawing for a gift package.  Imagine my surprise and delight to receive an email from her that I am the lucky winner!  I feel doubly blessed, for participating in the Daybook each month, and now this.  Thank you, Peggy!

If you would like to try writing a Daybook, here's the link:  The Simple Woman's Daybook


Monday, July 11, 2016

The view

When I started writing this at ten o'clock this morning it was only 70 degrees outside. What a glorious, beautiful summer day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and a soft, cool breeze blew. Such a sharp contrast to this past weekend when it hit 100 degrees.

On Saturday, Dan and I went to the company picnic for his work. Catering to young families, as it should, it was held at the local amusement park. We enjoyed a lunch of brats and beers and potato salad and beans, with ice pops for dessert. We shared a table with the young family of one of Dan's coworkers.  The excitement of their kids reminded me of the many times we took our kids to the very same park and how much fun they had on the rides.

After we finished eating, we walked through the park, the pavement reflecting every degree of the 100 degree heat. We took a ride on the Ferris wheel and admired the view from the top, the city of Denver spread out below and the beautiful mountains.  One ride was enough for these old folks.

 But we did take a stroll through the park, reminiscing about all the times we took our kids there.  It was fun to see it all again and remember some of the highlights. One time, Dan went on the Mind Eraser with Joey -- a roller coaster that does just what the name implies -- and as the car came to a turn and flipped upside down, Joey's glasses flew off and with one fell swoop Dan caught them!

Another time, Luke and I went on the Sea Dragon, which I thought was going to be a fairly tame ride, when in fact the weightlessness of it had me hanging over the edge of our cart, while Luke warned, "Don't you dare embarrass me, Mom, by throwing up!"

Sometimes when we look back at the years we spent raising our kids, it all seems like such a blur.  Even when we were in the thick of it, I knew that it was all so temporary, and I wanted to savor it as much as I could.  As if reading my mind, Dan remarked, "We had a lot of fun with the kids, didn't we?"

I often wish I could go back, even just for a day, and experience it again.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grace filled moments

I'm sneaking in before the week is over to list my Friday Fave Five.  This has been a nice week, beginning with a family gathering on 4th of July.  Thinking back, there were several small 'moments' of grace that I'd like to share.

1. We went to a Rockies game on Thursday evening with Emily and Marcus.  One of my favorite parts of the game is the Star Spangled Banner!  We were standing in line at a concession stand when it started to play.  For those few moments, everyone in the park was focused on the flag, including every person in line at the concession stand, the cashiers, and the workers.  All the fans in the concourse had stopped walking and were facing the flag, and of course all the fans in the stands.

2.  I started a new book this week.  I love the moment when I'm reading something new and realize, this is going to be a great read.

3. The first zucchini in my garden! It's always a delightful surprise to see that very first one, as though I'm not really sure I'm going to get BUSHELS of them from just my one plant.

4. One day this week, I went to lunch with my Aunt Ann and friend Renee.  We had the best day, shopping on the little Main Street of a nearby town.  At lunch, we all had pistachio ice cream and 'toasted' my grandmother who would have celebrated her birthday the day before.

5.  A chance encounter with family members who live in town, that I don't get to see very often.  I stopped for an iced coffee and ran into my aunt and two cousins and an adorable little second cousin:) We had a nice visit while sitting out on the patio of the coffee shop.

How was your week?


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer reading

I seem to be on a roll lately, finding good books to read, so I thought I would share some.

This is one of those stories that moves back and forth between decades, with each segment revealing something new about the other.  Grace Monroe is a new bride in 1950s England, when she learns that she's been left an inheritance by Madame Eva d'Orsey, a woman unknown to her.  The story is filled with a bit of mystery, eccentric characters, and a story line that is enjoyable especially to those of us who love perfume. 

I think this will go on my list as one of my favorite reads of the year.  I loved this story of a teenage mother in southern Appalachia who is befriended by an older woman at the shirt factory where they sit side by side stitching shirt collars.  When her friend dies, Emmalee wants to make her a special dress for her burial, much to the disapproval of the townspeople who feel that a good Christian woman deserves better.  I felt connected to Emmalee and admired her courage, tenacity and her determination to give her baby a better life. This is a beautifully crafted story, with a lovely writing style.

This is a memoir by one of the American heiresses who marry into British aristocracy and inspired the role of Lady Grantham on Downton Abby.  It provides a firsthand account of life upstairs and downstairs at Bleinheim Palace by the wife of the Duke of Marlborough.  But that is only part of her story, as later Consuelo becomes a philanthropist and champion of women's rights.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, once I gave myself permission to skim over the plethora of names and titles of her numerous house guests, and just enjoy the book for her accounting of life during the Edwardian era.

What have you been reading this summer?  Do share in the comments section.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. 

Ronald Reagan

Friday, July 1, 2016

My favorites this week

Today is the start of a four-day weekend for Dan, so there's a favorite right there. Link up with Friday Fave Five if you'd like to join the group and share the best parts of your week.

1. Dan was out of town for much of the week, and even though I sleeping in an empty house, I enjoyed the solitude that the time provided.  I caught up watching some recorded shows, started a new book and worked through most of my to-do list.

2.  Brooklynn was here on Monday and we took a trip to Walmart and bought a pool and bathing suit. She didn't really need the suit because she spent most of the time finding rocks and putting them in the pool. Can you stand this cuteness?? Haha!

3.  Facetime has been a gift for keeping in touch with the Wisconsin contingency.  It's not the same as being there in person, but I love that I can talk to my grandkids every day and we can see each other.

4.  Last weekend, I went to a bridal shower for my nephew's fiancee. It was a champagne brunch, and the food and decorating were so beautifully done.  It was lovely getting to know the bride-to-be a little more and meeting her family.

5.  The staff at work is growing by leaps and bounds.  When I started working there three years ago, I worked for two therapists.  Now, there are eight!  I enjoy my job and all the people I work with, and the flexibility that I have in my hours.

How was your week?  Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends! And happy Independence Day to those in the USA!