Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How Will I Be Remembered As a Cook?

I read an interesting article in the most recent Southern Living magazine.



The article, "Tastes Like Home" was a special for Mother's Day. It was a compilation of stories about remembering your mother's signature dish or recipes that they cherish from their moms. Two of the four stories made me stop and ponder... 

Could those stories be my own children's stories? Is this how they would remember me?

Let me explain.


These were not your typical reminisces of my generation's mothers who cooked grandiose meals and had homemade cookies waiting for them when they arrived from school. (I am 56 for your pinpointing the generation I would be talking about). It was a remembrance from a 20 something and as I read the story it made me wonder if my daughter would have written it.

I was scared. Feelings of guilt first, then as I read I realized the authors were not portraying their mothers in a negative light. It was just very different.

Let's face it ladies of my generation, we are not from our mother's generation. We have raised our children in the 90's and the 2000's. Food is different and we are so much more mobile and busy (whether good or bad) than our mother's were. I don't think I am just speaking to the working outside of the home moms like I was either. It may be a southern thing though. After all we have wonderful weather that makes us get outside and play ball like crazy...even girl moms have softball and volleyball these days.

I fall into the category of the busy working mom who loved her little chickadees very much.

I know my downfall for a hot meal cooked up by this little mama began when the baseball nights became longer. The late 90's found me with upper elementary children. Convenience foods were just so easy to pack in the lunch box. Convenience foods were just easy to put in the oven and bake. Grabbing a quick meal at our local Taco Town on game nights was inexpensive and just plain easy.

Then middle school hit and the activities increased. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and teaching began to change. My husband was an administrator at a high school. There was just always stuff going on.

I know I am not the only one.

It wasn't just the opening line where the author had to text her sister to answer the question posed...did her mother have "A dish?
Another piece of the article from the first story really caught my eye too. Here is an excerpt...

The thing is, my dad was the more memorable cook in our family. He didn’t necessarily make dinner every night. My mom managed meatloaf and hamburgers and, yes, salmon croquettes—with the crunchy bone nuggets of canned salmon hidden inside—most evenings. But my dad made the cool meals. He would eat something once at a restaurant and re-create it at home, like the exotic huevos rancheros we had on a ski trip when I was probably 8 or 9 that he then made every Saturday morning until none of us could take it anymore. 

As I read the article, I panicked. What would my children say was their favorite recipe I made? Would they remember their dad's recipes more than mine?

You see, my husband did just what that article said. He loves to cook and grill. He was a great big help to me along the way.

I determined to ask my daughter as soon as I could what recipe does she think of when she thinks of me.

My daughter comes by my house for lunch about 3 out of 5 days. She works close by and is no dummy. Mom has leftovers now. I am retired after all. Also, my son comes many evenings to eat as well. Maybe I am making up for the many eating out meals we ate.

I asked her what recipe she thought of when she thought of me. She said well, mostly your desserts.
She listed off the many cakes I make - pound cake, yellow cake with fudge frosting, Italian cream cake, and oh...my banana pudding.


I breathed a sigh of relief.

She did have a thought for me. Not a blank like the first story in the series.

As we talked about the whys of the question and the article I read, she did say, "Well, Mom the barbecue baked chicken I am eating right now is one of your dishes. I make it all the time."

She also recalled my broccoli and rice casserole. She understood that I worked and we were busy, but we always ate together even if it was at Taco Town (our local cheap taco dive).

Either way it was a great article and I enjoyed seeing how a new generation thinks.
Here is the link to the article. You don't have to have the magazine to read it.

I feel a little better after talking to my daughter. I hope to keep on doing better with the home cooked meals now that I am retired. Never too late to start, and those of you who read me regularly know I am all about healthy now.

I also think this generation of girls (to me they are girls) are doing a much better job than mine. They are making better choices and trying to be more conscious of being healthier. A whole 'Nother story for another time.

Off to meal plan,
Sandy

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Late Weekend Wrap-up

While last week was very tough, plans for the weekend had been made months earlier, so I had to try and handle grief along with the weekend plans.

Warning
This is a rather long post with no pictures. I guess we will see if you really enjoy reading my posts. 😃

Mother and I used to go to the Extraordinary Women conference each April for many many years. It was one of our little things to do together. Three years ago, we couldn't go because of my step-dad's cancer. Then it just seemed we never got our steam back to go again. We would talk about it each year, but just say maybe next year.

A couple of months ago, I decided I would get tickets for her March birthday, and that we would try and go as she is slowing down and I know there is coming a time when even if she wants to go she wouldn't want to climb stairs or have the stamina to go.

The conference was this weekend. I had absolutely no desire to go. She has been sick with a sinus infection and then with the antibiotics for it. Then, I had Lucy's passing.

I decided we would do an abbreviated version. Friday nights are always a speaker and then a concert by someone. I have seen Mandisa, who by the way is a must see if you ever get a chance. I have seen Francesca Battistelli who is also wonderful. This year was Sidewalk Prophets. While I would have loved them on any other weekend, I knew she wouldn't. On Friday evening, we went on to to Pensacola to let her shop and then to hear the speaker. We left early instead of staying for the concert.

We knew were going to do only half of a day on Saturday. The question was would it be the first half or the second half. When we saw the speaker list, we had seen the second half ladies before, so we opted for the first half.

I learned a few things this weekend that had nothing to do with my sadness. Mother handled the amount that we did fine, but she would not have really been too good for the whole day. She is in good health, but the last three years she has slowly gone down. She fell four years ago in a fluke accident, then a few months later, my step dad got sick. She has just slowly slowed up. She no longer walks like she did. She has lots of flexibility and can get up and down with ease. In fact, better than some half her age. She cleans her house from top to bottom, cooks for herself, reads, and does puzzle books (cryptograms). She does not seem to want to meet anyone new or socialize.

I am thinking her bus trip to Maine this summer with my aunt will be her last big hurrah for something like that. This is mostly older people who go on these trips, so it should be slow paced, but it should wipe her out. At least, I think it might.

Sometimes that body slows before the mind, and sometimes the mind slows before the body. Either way is stinky.

I had a hard time enjoying the conference this year for many reasons. I wasn't excited to go in the first place, then my situation, and then the fact that it is kind of hard to watch your parent slow down.

Two of the five ladies we heard were worth my getting out of the house for. Nothing earth shattering, but again my mood was not the best. Don't worry ladies...I am good. I am enjoying my time in retirement to study the Bible with more time than I have ever had.

There are just seasons in life that there are tasks to do. I am in a season of trying to care for Mama even though she is just not what she used to be. However, I am loving the season of being able to impart advice to my daughter who comes about three times a week for lunch. I wouldn't trade that for the world.

There was also one more big thing for the weekend. After church on Sunday, our lead pastor wanted to have the church staff to come to the farm for a get together. The lead pastor and family are dear friends of ours and are frequent visitors at the farm. A couple of weeks ago while there, he thought how good it would be to let the staff come and not have to do anything but just show up for an afternoon of fun. They have been working so hard in the weeks leading up to Easter. Many are young with families on a tight budget.

So, we hosted a cookout with them having to bring nothing. Fishing, 4 wheeler rides, rides similar to a hay ride, balls, and long walks were had by all. IT was a good outing for Lemony. All kids are drawn to a big ole Golden Retriever and she let all of them pet her.

That my friends was a busy weekend with a lot of tears in between for Lucy. I am better today. I am putting a book together in the next month for the kids and me of our dogs. They have been a big part of our family life. Looking at all the pictures has helped me remember her fondly and know that she is suffering.

If you survived a picture less post then have a great evening. I will try and do better next time.
Sandy

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Sweet Lucy

This is a hard post to start. I was absent last week. I just couldn't even read any of the blogs from my blog list until last night.
Y'all know my Lucy, the Springer has been going downhill for awhile now.

The last round of seizures about 2 months ago started the trek to getting no better. We tried a new medicine that had been very expensive until just recently. It has not been commonly used for dogs. I am happy for future dog owners that it will be available now, because it is a far better drug. It really seemed to be working, but the ravages of the side effects of the other drugs plus the damage done by the seizures were to much for her.

I won't go into too many details,  but the need for water was beyond crazy and it was hard to withhold water from her. It just drove her nuts, but drinking too much caused its own problems. On Monday evening last week, I had to spend the night with my mother because she was sick. I knew Lucy had been real lethargic and hated leaving her. I got up and headed home at 4:15 AM Tuesday morning to see about her, because she was getting up around 4:30 each day. I got home to Jeff having been up with her since 3:00.

I just can't write much more and most wouldn't want to even read it, but we lost her on Thursday. The whole family has been a mess.

I just cried all day Thursday and Friday. I tried to control myself on Saturday and Sunday, but it has been so hard.

I know that cancer had just ruined those organs.



We have had three English Springer Spaniels over the course of our marriage. Each one was so special and so loved. We have never been without a Springer for more than 10 months. They are definitely the breed for our family. Lemony, the Golden arrived in our lives 8 years ago. She has watched Lucy be sick for some time. I think dogs are very intuitive, so I know she knows. Lucy has spent the night with the vet a couple of times recently, so I don't think she thought anything of coming home without her on Thursday, but I had to run to the store on Friday morning. She didn't handle me coming in without her. I know she thought I had gone to get her. She has been mopey as well.


I found out that my neighbor down the street had lost his beagle on Easter Sunday morning. She was really old. The gentleman that owned her was a single older man. I know he is lost without her. I was passing by his house on Saturday morning and he was outside. I stopped and rolled down the window to let him know how sorry I was. He had heard about Lucy, so there we are -both tears rolling down our faces.

Lucy was the dog that a great book could be written about. My family all read Marley and really connected with the book from the first chapter when the author describes he should have known how wild Marley would be because of the daddy. That was so true of Lucy. Her daddy was the wildest thing we had ever seen.

My son is on the left. My house has always been full of boys. Paul Allen sent me this one. I had taken this picture.  I walked outside to see her sitting with them just like she was one of the guys. He still had it on his phone. I know it is in our albums. I plan to put the kids a book of photos with her and each one of them.

I remember trying to pick out the one for us. We noticed a roly poly little one and commented at how he was like our second one, Murphy. It was then I noticed a little girl sitting over by herself so quiet and what seemed to be like posing. It was if she were saying, "Look at me, I am so pretty, and I am so calm." We selected her. Jeff had said, "Yep, she seems like the calmest one of the bunch. Let's get her."

CALM has never been a word used to describe her. Energetic, undisciplined, stubborn, and yet the absolutely most loving. She was determined to make everyone like her.

I will stop for now. I will share some lighter things about the weekend later, but I will let that be my post for today.

Dogs touch our hearts and yes, I know they are not humans.

I miss her so badly. She was a big part of our family for a long time. It is always hard to say goodbye.

Sandy

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend

It was a busy weekend, but all good. I knew going in I would have a busy one, so I tried to prepare myself last week. I love Easter, after all it is the greatest day for a Christian.

On Good Friday, I had to meet the plumber at my son's house to fix the kitchen sink...last plumbing problem I hope. Then the deck was finished and I tried to put some things back together (pictures of it at the end of the post). Hubby got off a little early so we moved some things back into place and decided some needed to go to the trash heap.

All the while doing those things, I was so mindful of what Jesus did for me. We had a quiet supper at home that evening.

I stayed home Saturday morning rather than going to the farm. I had gone on Thursday to water the garden, so I figured Hubby could handle it on Saturday. I did a bit of cleaning and food prep for Sunday.

That evening we had two of the five Easter services at our church, so I went to one of them. I served at two of the Sunday services, so I was quite pooped. I didn't really get to stop though. I had the family coming for Sunday supper.

Usually my daughter and my mom help out if they are here, but Lindsay had her in-laws here until Sunday after church. I was so excited that they were able to come down and go to church with them. They live in Atlanta. I had hoped they could stay Sunday evening, but the mom couldn't get off work on Monday. I think Lindsay was very tired. She has been hopping at work lately. Mom has had sinus issues for the last two weeks. We have a doctor's appointment this afternoon.
I did the cooking except for the pork loin and sausage which Hubby grilled. I didn't mind if I can have my small family with me.

I didn't take ONE solitary picture yesterday, not one. I was just busy and never stopped. I was so sad when I realized I had not taken any pictures. That is really not like me at all. AND, the girlfriend came. Paul Allen brought her and we were so excited. She is really adorable. I had an opportunity to get a picture of her and I blew it.

Please tell me I am not the only one who has ever done that. You know I know it is the first time I have missed an Easter picture. I don't know what to put in the photo album. Blank spot with a note...Mom is losing it.

Let's see our menu consisted of..

Appetizer

Concecuh Sausage
Pimento Cheese
Crackers

Main Meal

Pork Loin
Mashed Potatoes (Mother calls them creamed potatoes)
Peas
Deviled Eggs
Rolls

Desserts

Chocolate Meringue Pie
Lemon Bars

So that is my Easter with no pictures😞

The message was so good at church. A good Resurrection Day spent serving the Lord and with family. Doesn't get any better.

Here is the finished deck and dock.


 






If you are wondering about the older looking boards at the bottom. They were not redone as they are all structurally good and will last a long time. They can be removed without messing the deck up in any way. 

A water picture from right in front of where Lucy is standing.


The next two pictures of what happens in spring in the Panhandle of Florida. Those live oaks that drip with Spanish moss that are we are so famous for drop their leaves. Yes, just like fall everywhere else. Hubby got up four bags from the lawn this weekend. They bud and the leaves fall off in the spring. We rake in April in September here.



This a close up of the top of one of the trees. I took it from the top deck on back. 


Thought that tidbit might be interesting for the northern friends. 

Have a great day y'all.
Sandy



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Refurbished Our Leather Couch

We have had a leather couch, chair, and ottamon  that we bought way back in 2005 when a local furniture store was going out of business. It was a big purchase back then for us. I thought it was outrageously priced even on sale, but we had decided after much research that we were getting a quality piece of furniture.

I will stand by that decision today. It is like the old saying you get what you pay for.

After 12 years and lots of teenagers and dogs, I think it has held up pretty well.

This is it before the refurbish.
Doesn't look bad from afar, but if you look at the front seams on the closeups you will be able to see the wear and tear.


I will show you some closeups as well.



It has begun to show signs of wear some of which are due to my slacking on cleaning and conditioning it, but the biggest thing was the chair. My husband sits in it daily and it has basically conformed to his body and of course he leans to one side and it sits lopsided.

The chair was way worse than the couch.


So begins the idea that you need something new and of course you see all the new things out there and you begin to wonder if you need something totally different. After some searching and thinking about it, I first came to the conclusion that leather was a must for us.

One I would never ever be able to keep a light colored couch clean - I don't care what kind of spray finish is put on it. I would die with white slipcovers no matter how stylish they are. They just wouldn't work in my house.

Then  I began pricing new leather couches. Still expensive.

Two other things played into my decision to refurbish. I loved the style of mine and I had trouble finding something similar. Either too modern which wouldn't fit in the room or really big ones. I also brought home samples with colors. I thought about maybe going with more of a tan so it would be more neutral and then I could play the pillow switch out that everyone does.

I was never sure I loved the color of ours UNTIL I brought in the samples. I didn't like any of them. I finally realized all these years that I really liked the color of mine even though there are none out there in ANY magazines the same as mine.

I especially have been pleased when I changed out some things in the room and added blue. I think I had always been trying to keep it neutralized rather than accenting if that makes sense.

After I made the decision that I liked it, I looked into finding someone to give me a quote to refurbish and if it would look good, etc.


The guy that did it came by and gave me a quote and raved both the day he came to give me a quote and the day he worked on it about the quality of the leather. He said it was much better than a lot of the new stuff and that it is leather all over and that many have vinyl backs or sides.

Anyway for $700 I have a new looking couch and chair. I was super pleased. He pulled out each cushion and added new stuff to it the old. He said it was like putting pajamas on a bear to get it back in. I had no idea that the backs have zippers at the very bottom so that the cushions on the backs are removable. He cleaned it for hours and then restrained it. He says the stain will hold up better than the new because in the factory they spray them and he rubbed it in.

This picture was taken immediately upon leaving. He had moved the items all close together so he wouldn't mess up the whole room.

The backs are stuffed to the brim.







Leather is a difficult choice, but if you make it you need to like it for a long time. You can buy an upholstered couch for less and change out more often.

I did condition mine very regularly until about three years ago when life just got too busy. I think the leather would not have looked so poorly if I had kept that up. The stuffing probably would have needed help either way.

The guy that did mine recommends conditioning once a month and cleaning every three months. He says not buy the products that have cleaner and conditioner in one bottle.
I will be a little more diligent with it this time around, but I am pretty sure I will have this couch and chair for another decade plus. Like I said you better like your choice. If you do, then the extra money is worth it.

I am keeping them covered during the day for the doggies👍




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cross Stitching, Flowers, Trees, and Deck Update


I finished the bunny in time to enjoy for Easter. I set it up on the easel for showing y'all, but I am hanging it on the cabinet in the dining room for Easter and probably all of April.




I have so many things lined up to do that I am having trouble staying with one, but I don't feel like I make much progress if I have too many projects going at once. I will probably work on the Christmas cardinals that I didn't finish before Christmas and a patriotic one.

A few thoughts about the crazy weather...

I have decided that some flowers and trees were just as confused by the winter/spring craziness this year. We basically didn't have winter except for two very cold weekends in which we got down to the record breaking temperatures that killed lots of my plants that I don't normally move in around here. However, I hardly wore anything more than a sweat shirt this winter. Then there is February which should have been cold and I wore shorts and took walks on the beach. It is no wonder that the plants don't know what to do.

These flowers were completely duped by winter...azaleas and camellias. My azaleas were completely done by the end of February. The camellias couldn't decide whether to bloom or not. The ones in the yard were worse than those at the farm. They did bloom, but not nearly as prolific as last year.
Even the pansies this year seem confused. They bloom one week only to nearly die the next.

My major disappointment this year was the bulbs. I had planted tulips and more daffodils in the ground. The daffodils did bloom but looked puny. The tulips broke ground but never bloomed. I was extremely sad. I will plant the tulips in pots again like last year. I REALLY missed them.

On the other hand, the roses, geraniums, and hydrangeas didn't seem to fall for any tricks. They have been about normal.

I think the trees have all budded late this year. I really thought the Natchez crepe myrtle in our front yard wasn't going to bloom, but it broke out almost overnight. The birds are so excited about that. There is a pair of cardinals that love that tree in the summer.


The live oaks have not dumped their leaves, but I feel it is coming any day now. Live oaks are like the other oaks in the fall ...leave dump like snow falling in the spring.

The deck is coming along what seems slowly, but should be finished by the end of the week.

Some progress pictures and some big mess pictures. I probably need to get rid of some flower pots and some old patio furniture. I will analyze all that next week.

The mess is all on the second level. Can't even really get to my plants to water them.


Two progress shots from yesterday.



I have a busy day lined up, but I will be back tomorrow with a share about my my leather couch refurbish. It looks amazing.

Sandy

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five for Friday

I think I will throw out a Five on Friday...

#1  I finished my bunny stitch. It is adorable, but most definitely not my best stitching. I just fell in love with the pattern, but it is on 32 count linen. For some reason, it was hard to see or at least more than usual.

My shadow is across it:)
I will finish it in someway today. I am not planning to frame it or even make it into something that will fit in a frame. It will most likely hang. Well, we will see.

#2 Lucy, the Springer will be 12 tomorrow. She is doing much better, but just let me say diapering is not a fun thing. I thought I would never do that on a regular basis again. She is fine with it. Stands there like a champ.

Here she is as a puppy...



She would bite the tail of our other Springer and then rush and get under the table. He couldn't really get to her well and she knew it. Always the mischievous one.
Another...


#3 Construction Stuff.

I am hoping we get a lot done on the bottom deck today. I have a feeling it will be almost done, but will require the rails and so forth next week. I am super excited. No pictures yet.

I have workers lined up for fixing our foundation problem. They say it is an easy fix, but we have to dig up my front flower bed, so I will be trying to help on that. I am fine with the shrubs, but I may have to dig up what roses that I am able to grow here. I love roses and this yard, does not have a suitable place for them. I had 14 lovely named roses at my previous home. I miss them. Oh well, they are scheduled for 2 weeks away, so I guess I need to be praying for mild rains and not gully washers.

I also have a worker lined up to get my son's door and sheetrock patches done next week. 

Happy construction days.

#4 My daughter continues to work on her yard. She is so funny. She is ultra shocked at how much stuff costs. I am like, yes, I know dear.

They got the front sodded where the new palm tree went in, but I haven't taken any pictures yet. I did snap a few of her back yard. I think I told you her husband is in construction and they started a new job on 30A (the famous beaches around here with all the little communities like Seaside and Watercolor, etc.) They had dug up some pavers, so he brought two truckloads home for her to use.

Here are some backyard photos.


The dwarf lemon tree already has lemons.

The other side.


She strung up some lights along her back fence. She also took some paint and painted her clay pots. I had some left over outdoor paint. She is always looking for the econo way to do things. She was shocked at how expensive flower pots were, and I had told her geraniums do well in clay pots here. The geraniums are adorable in them.


I love watching my kids grow up. I am not sure where the time went though.

#5
I have mostly stayed on top of my chores this week. I was trying out a different routine, but I didn't like it. It was one of those do a task a day like all dusting. I would never ever see a completely clean room, so I need more motivation than that. I need to just stick to my plan. It is all about being home long enough to actually do it.

I saw God's hand on things this week. Things I had prayed about for a long time. We can get discouraged, but His timing is perfect and He has plans that we just can't know about. We just have to trust and dog gone it, we don't like to that sometimes. 

That is five for Friday and I am about to get moving on the rest of the day.
Sandy