30 April 2014

Making it My Own: Wind Chimes

 It may not seem like a big deal, but over the weekend I finally tackled some of the boxes which have been sitting in our garage since last summer. Now there is (sort of) a path on one side of the garage, and two cabinets are organized with stuff we actually need and use!

When I was crawling around in the top of my dad's garage last summer, I unearthed many treasures and brought them home to our garage. This odd assortment includes old Christmas lights, dog leashes, a tiny afghan my grandma made for my cats, my old diaper pail (YIKES! More on that later!), and a set of wind chimes. I found the wind chimes in the bottom of an old bucket, completely dismantled and covered with spiderwebs. Deep in the same bucket was a brand new set of leather shoestrings, as if my dad had meant to repair the wind chimes but never got around to it.
When I was growing up, these wind chimes hung on our back porch. I used to love the sound made by the wooden ball as it swung between the bells in the breeze. I had completely forgotten about the wind chimes until I found them that day. But when I hit the ball against the bells, the hollow clanging sound took me straight back to my childhood. I scooped them up and brought them home, knowing I needed to find a place for them.

Over this past weekend, I found the wind chimes in the garage and told Spouse of my plan to hang them. They needed a good cleaning and a coat of spray paint. He took on both tasks and then set to work stringing them back together. With a few minor adjustments, they'll be ready to hang -- although we haven't agreed on a place for them yet. He doesn't think the neighbors will appreciate them so much. :)

It really doesn't matter to me where they hang. I just love having them here with me. Something old -- and meaningful, made new again.

25 April 2014

Feline Friday: The View

As I watched something on TV the other night, this** was my view:
Love those little feets. 

**Flower added for modesty purposes. :)

24 April 2014

April Round-Up

Well, blogging friends, another week has gone by and my blog still sits neglected. I know I've promised to do better, but I'm just not quite there yet. The good news is that this month I've made progress toward finishing up some big stuff. By this time tomorrow, I will have closed on the last of my parents' four properties. This means that I can officially settle the estate, and that is a huge weight off my mind. I have a long way to go in putting my life back together, but finishing up all of that business allows me finally turn the page and start anew.

With that in mind, I have started a few additional projects for the store where I teach. For the past few days, my craft table has looked like a tornado hit it. I swear, I clean it up after every project, then it looks like this again within 30 seconds!

In addition to more crafty projects, I'm looking forward to getting back into gardening. This spring, I hope to finally correct some of the issues which have plagued me for years. My gardens were pretty neglected last season, which only served to exacerbate the existing problems. I recently decided enough is enough, so I contacted a gardening expert who will be visiting within the next couple of weeks to help me re-design my flower gardens. I'm pretty excited about that!

But the very best thing about April was visiting our daughter
at Indiana University to see her senior percussion recital. I can hardly believe she's finishing her fourth (but not last) year of college. She worked very hard preparing for her recital and did a fabulous job. I'll post more about that later (with videos, if she'll let me share them!) but for now, here's a photo of her picking up her recital programs! We are so proud of everything she has accomplished in the past four years!

So all in all, it's been a good month. I'm moving forward, albeit slowly. Here's to a productive, happy spring!

18 April 2014

Feline Friday: Check-Up for Lily

This week, it was time for Lily's check-up. She has a history of naughtiness at the vet and typically has to be sedated in order for them to handle her. Although it is safe, I really don't like for her to have that done. You just never know when something could go wrong. And I can hardly bear seeing her little limp body!

So this time I told Lily that she needed to be a Good Girl so she didn't have to get The Gassy. On the way to the vet, she was very calm.  
Where did u sai we are goween, Mommeh? 

 Oh....I remembers dis plaice now! NOEZ!!!
Once inside, Lily forgot her promise to be a Good Girl and commenced her very impressive hissing and snarling behavior. The vet had to dismantle the carrier to remove her for the Big Weigh-In. (In retrospect, I wish we had skipped that step.The results were shocking!) 

Still, I elected not to have her sedated. The downside of this is that Lily received a very abbreviated exam. The vet was not able to palpate her chubby tummy very well, and he could not look inside her mouth. (I told him that it has adorable gray patches, just like her fur!)

The bottom line is this: Lily appears to be in good health, but she has a weight problem. I feel badly because this is totally my fault. With everything going on in the past year, I have not paid as much attention to Lily's food intake as I should have. I've let her have more NOMS than she should, and it shows in her waistline. So we started her restricted food diet yesterday. So far, so good. Hopefully the next time we visit the vet, she'll be a much slimmer, trimmer version of her snarling, hissing self! :)


17 April 2014

Recipe: Pork & Poblano Stew

Blogging friends: Please forgive my continued lack of posts. This time, I truly feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel and hope I can get back on track very soon. We've just returned from a wonderful trip to Indiana University to see our daughter's senior recital. I've got much to say about that fantastic event, as well as several other happenings. But since I'm still finishing up some projects, I thought I'd simply share a quick recipe today. 

I found this recipe for Pork & Poblano Stew in a fall 2013 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It sounded like a recipe we would enjoy...and it was! I made it ahead of time and put it in the crock pot for the afternoon so I wouldn't have to worry about watching it on the stove (not my strong point). This is a very tasty recipe -- low fat and very healthful, too! I hope you'll give it a try!

 Pork and Poblano Stew 
Source: Better Homes & Gardens magazine 

2 teaspoons hot chili powder
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red sweet pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion cut into thin wedges
1 14 1/2 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic, undrained
1 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 inches stick cinnamon
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel 
1/4 cup fresh orange juice 

In a medium bowl, sprinkle chili powder over pork. Toss to combine. In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pork, about 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove pork with a slotted spoon and set aside.

(Okay, this smells really good! I'll bet you can smell it from the photo!)

Add remaining oil to saucepan. Add poblano pepper, sweet pepper, and onion to saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. 

(Oops, I forgot to take out the pork! No worries...it all gets combined anyway!)

Add tomatoes, broth, and cinnamon stick. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and add reserved pork and orange juice. Return to a simmer for 5 minutes more. Stir in orange peel. 

(There was a note in the magazine about the orange juice and peel, directed to anyone who might be afraid to add those ingredients -- that would be me! I typically do not like fruit flavors mixed in with "savory" dishes, but in this case the citrus simply brightened the flavor.)

To serve, remove stick cinnamon. Ladle into shallow bowls.

11 April 2014

Feline Friday: Pet Me!

Lily has recently started doing the absolutely CUTEST thing. Now you probably know by now that Lily does a LOT of cute things, but I swear this is just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen. I know that my photos don't do it justice, but I hope you'll get the idea!
In the evening, Lily loves to curl up on my lap. It looks something like this. :)

The next thing I see is this little paw, reaching out toward me...

...until she grabs my wrist and actually PULLS it toward her!

Pet me, Mommeh! Of course, I give her plenty of scritches, then those little paws wrap around my wrists until she falls asleep -- with her head in my hand!
Precious, precious girl!

04 April 2014

Feline Friday: #tbt

I know it's Friday, but it's never too late for a Throwback Thursday photo or three! 

Bailey started giving Lily back rides when she was very young and she still loves it, although she's much heavier to haul around now!

 Aww, we've always loved those little white paws!

And here's one of my favorite pictures: Lily falling asleep sitting up during a late night in the craft room!

We love our Lily!

02 April 2014

Keep or Donate?

I recently cleaned out my Grandma's house and donated many of her household items to the local hospice thrift store. I've made so many trips to that store that they now know me by name. A couple of weeks ago, I loaded up my SUV with the last set of boxes and had a little bit of extra room, so I thought I'd rummage through the oodles of boxes in our own basement and see what else I could donate. One of these days I'll get back to the big organization project I started last winter!

So I opened up a dusty box of stuff I've kept for a very long time. As I dug through it, I was surprised at how little I could remember about the contents! Okay, if you can't remember why you're keeping something, then perhaps it doesn't need to be kept, right?

In addition, when you're trying to decide whether or not to keep an item, you really should consider who gave it to you -- even if you don't love it. When getting ready for my parents' auction last fall, I wish I had given more weight to this factor. I let go of a couple of items I wish I'd kept, not because I had any attachment to the objects themselves, but simply because of who gave them to me.

So with those considerations in mind, I began looking through the box. Here's a little porcelain figurine that someone probably gave me at my high school graduation. Hmmm...should I keep? NOPE! DONATE!

 Next up: A porcelain figurine of a red-haired girl playing the piano. I'm sure the giver thought the girl resembled me, and perhaps that was true at some point. Do I need this or want to display it in my house? Nope. DONATE!

   Here's something I actually remember fondly: A cool necklace from second grade! I had the most GROOVY second grade teacher EVER. She wore long skirts (called maxi dresses) and beaded scarves tied around her hair. I wanted to be just like her. (Maybe I still do.) KEEP.

 Deep in the box I found a set of black plates on stands, a small bamboo saucer, and a decorative hair thingy. For the life of me, I cannot remember why I have any of these items. But I do know that whatever meaning they once had is long gone, so the decision was easy. DONATE.

Next I found this perfume decanter. I vaguely remember that it belonged to me but cannot recall where I got it. Would I ever consider using it? Nope! DONATE!

But by far the best item I discovered in that box was this small loaf of French bread. This is actually a real loaf of bread which I brought home from France on my first trip in HIGH SCHOOL!  It is hard as a rock and perfectly preserved. Petrified, I guess you could say. In spite of my daughter's objections (EWWW, MOM!)...
Definitely KEEP!

So here's my advice: If you pick up an object and it holds no appeal or meaning for you, consider it a good candidate for donation. Just take a picture before letting go of it, so at the very least you can look back on it and scratch your head, thinking, "What the heck is this and why did I hang onto it for so long?" 

On the other hand, if the object transports you back to another time and place -- like riding in the back of the bus on your second grade field trip or your first visit to a Paris bakery -- you might consider hanging onto it. 

Just for old time's sake.