Friday, November 30, 2012

Bringing Nature Inside for Christmas

As my cleaning chores are coming to an end, I am beginning to think about dragging out a few Christmas decorations. But the thought of sorting through the boxes, deciding what to use, hefting the boxes up from the basement, unwrapping them, and finally finding a spot for them depresses me.

So I think my nod to the holidays in the category of decorations is going to be cutting and snipping greenery from nature and bringing it inside for simple displays.

I tried out this combination today. Boxwood and dwarf nandina look extremely Christmas-y to me! Love the red of the nandina. These cuttings are in water but I don't know how long they'll last. In all likelihood I'll have to replace with fresh cuttings nearer to Christmas.

I really like the effect of the natural plant material displayed in a Blue Delft bowl, which belonged to my husband's grandmother The bowl matches the Delft candlesticks I bought during a trip to the Netherlands in the 1980s. The blue candles will be replaced by silver or white ones the next time I go shopping.

I tried out nandina clippings around a fat candle in the kitchen. These won't last long without water (but maybe they keep their color when dried? I don't know; I have never used the plant this way!). I think I would like a red candle instead of green.

As I gradually add a few more things in the way of decorations, I will post them here. I have other things in mind but I definitely do not want to go overboard.

And after the holidays, I can simply toss them out. No repacking boxes. Yeah!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Funny what reappears from the past when you’re cleaning, isn’t it?

I unearthed this item from the depths of my piano stool (no idea why it was THERE, of all places!) a few days ago. A Boomerang, a gift from one of my husband’s nephews. He purchased it during a trip to Australia some years ago.

Now my familiarity with a boomerang is limited to the lyrics of a novelty song, My Boomerang Won't Come Back, which was popular back in the 1960s. The song was recorded British comedian Charlie Drake and became a surprise hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1961. Read more about the artist and song at Wikipedia. Here are the lyrics.

The boomerang was historically used for hunting, as well as sport and entertainment. It is thrown and typically constructed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang, which the label states this one is, is designed to circle back to the thrower.

Readers in Australia can perhaps tell us stories about the boomerang, as it seems to be closely tied to the history of that continent. Or you can read about it on the Wikipedia page.

It’s an interesting and odd looking item. I am not sure what to do with it. Display it? Perhaps, but I can’t seem to make it successfully stand up in the little wooden display stand provided.

This could be the oddest thing I have in my house! What about you: what do you consider to be the “oddest” thing you own?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Rid of Dust Bunnies for Christmas

Where does all the dust come from?

I have now spent two days deep cleaning the house and have been amazed at the amount of the accumulated dust. Normal weekly cleaning doesn’t address the grime that gets on light fixtures, baseboards, mirrors and glass shelves in cabinets.

I decided it was time to give the house a good going-over before Christmas and what a work-out I’ve had. No need to worry that I haven’t done my daily walk or yoga exercises!

Cleaning the fireplace screen, andirons and tools was a major undertaking. But I do love the look of sparkling brass in winter, especially at Christmas.

I thought about taking out and washing each and every piece of crystal in the curio cabinet, but what a daunting task that would be.

On second thought, I just cleaned the glass shelves around each piece and called it done. I will individually wash each piece as I go if we use it during the holidays.

After all, the doors on the cabinet will be closed and who is going to open them to check and see if everything has been cleaned?

Naturally – for me – I can’t keep only to the  task at hand but must venture into other endeavors. Today, it was thinking about what decorations I'll make for the house.

If I had my way, I’d simply make a large arrangement of boxwood shrubbery clippings and call it the Christmas tree. I LOVE boxwood, both growing in the garden and cut for arrangements at Christmas time. Just adding a red bow to this arrangement would be adequate, don’t you think?

I crocheted a set of eight of these Christmas place mats back in my creative days with wool and needles.

I know this greenery won’t last for a month but I’m just testing it out, see?

For tabletops, a bowl of red apples, oranges or nuts beat out sparkles and artificial anything, in my opinion.

A sprig of boxwood adds a finishing touch.

Over the years our mother has taken Christmas tea towels and added a crochet edging. I have many of these, some used and some not because I deem them too pretty to use. I usually take them out each Christmas to display in a wicker basket.

A hot pad crocheted in the granny square pattern.

This is just a quick post to let you know what's going on with me in recent days. I have to say goodbye now and get back to work now. There still are many more dust bunnies to capture!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Faux Leopard

Reading Patricia's Red Cardinal blog got me to thinking about leopard print, as she included a quote from noted columnist and fashion editor Diane Vreeland:

Imagine a world without Leopard!
Who'd want to live in it??"

Now I'm not THAT fond of leopard print, but have succumbed to small splashes now and then.

I got this leopard print bag years ago, before the current craze for leopard returned. Funny thing, it was one of those free bags with purchase you get at the cosmetic counter. It’s been so long ago that I don’t even remember which cosmetic line promoted it. But I was smitten and had to have it.

Funny thing is that I never carry this bag without getting multiple compliments. Seriously!

A sleeping mask, which I’ve never used. But it’s here if I ever find myself in need of such a thing

I bought this scarf a couple of years ago but have worn it only a few times

PJ bottoms, which I have used and laundered so much that you can see how faded they are becoming. They are my favorite sleeping garment, paired with a soft black long sleeved tee for winter.

I had fabric leopard skin gloves and really enjoyed wearing them, but one has become lost. Gloves and umbrellas! Two items I have trouble keeping.

Leopard skin aside, there's a current documentary film recently out on Diana Vreeland that I want to see. The Eye Has to Travel is the story of her life and her career as editor at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue magazines.
Does your wardrobe contain any leopard skin clothing or accessories?



Friday, November 23, 2012

What Am I Thinking Right Now?

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) was an American author in the area of the new thought movement who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature. Hill said, “One comes to finally believe whatever one repeats to one’s self, whether the statement be true or false.”

If this is true, and I personally believe that it is, we must be very careful about our thoughts!

In line with Hill’s philosophy, one of the terms you run into over and over again if you read books on personal development is, “What Am I Thinking Right Now,” a question the reader is advised to ask herself throughout the day.

Are we thinking positive and empowering thoughts? If so, they are likely producing good feelings?  If however, we are thinking negative or constricting thoughts, we likely are not feeling so great.

Thoughts affect feelings .If we think limiting or negative thoughts long enough, it becomes our reality.
Photo Credit:
Hill’s most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time. He became an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1936. "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" is one of Hill's hallmark expressions. How achievement actually occurs, and a formula for it that puts success in reach of the average person, were the focal points of Hill's books.

Today's philosophy-of-success teachers still use the research formulas taught by Hill to expand their students' knowledge of personal development.

While many have read the book with the goal of increasing monetary wealth, the principles outlined in the book reach far beyond achieving personal riches. The philosophies contained therein are a guide for personal enrichment, organizing our lives, understanding how our brains work and letting go of limiting behavior.

It is reported that many readers of the book felt that Hill never explicitly identified this secret, but he offers these words about 20 pages into the book:

“If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to be so determined to have it that you convince yourself that you will have it. . . You may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in great quantities unless you work yourself into a white heat of desire for money, and actually believe you will possess it.”

Desire and Belief. Want something so badly you can taste it and Believe you will have it!

Substitute your own goal for the word “riches” above, or keep it in place if riches are your goal.

Today I am asking myself, "What Am I Thinking Right Now."

Please share your thoughts on this subject.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Way to Cook the Thanksgiving Turkey

Just so the title isn't too misleading, I'll clarify that I'm speaking of a turkey breast.

I never thought the Thanksgiving turkey could be made without an oven in which to roast it.  But I was wrong.

Almost two weeks ago, our kitchen stove died and a replacement ordered. The sad news is it won’t be delivered until next week, which left me with a dilemma. How on Earth could be turkey be roasted or the pies baked?

I don’t do well cooking in someone else’s kitchen, so making dishes at my mother’s house was out of the question. It was decided that this year we would go out to eat. Not my idea of the way Thanksgiving should be – lining up on a buffet line where others in front of you messed up the food and/or possibly sneezed over it. But it seemed we had no other alternative, dispite the challenge of getting mother and her wheelchair there.

And then a light bulb went off in my head. I wondered if a turkey breast could be made in a crockpot. A quick Internet search yielded wonderful news: not only were there many recipes, but notes indicated the meat comes out moist and delicious.

So I was off! I've had a turkey breast thawing in the refrigerator since Monday, planning to roast it after the new oven arrived as an after-Thanksgiving treat. So it's a matter of getting the meat into the pot and cooking it for eight hours. Later tonight, when it's done, I'll refrigerate it and reheat tomorrow.

There were the usual preparations:

-- Spray the pot with oil and line it with three stalks celery, one chopped onion and 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic.

--Wash and dry the meat; rub with a package of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, thyme, sage and oregano.

--Drizzle with one tablespoon butter.

--Add ½ cup chicken broth.

--Cover and cook one hour on high and seven hours on low.

(The meat can be placed under the broiler (at my mother's house, of course) before serving to get that brown crispy skin.)

Oh my goodness! That distorted blob on the top is my reflection!

As for the pie, I measured the glass Pyrex pie plate in the toaster oven and it just fits, so I’ll be able to bake a pecan pie later today. (This toaster oven has been a lifesaver these past days for heating things during the absence of a large oven.)

Now with the cornbread dressing my sister is making (and who knows what other delectable dishes she'll come up with!), the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy and a green salad we'll have our traditional meal.

We won't have the turkey legs extending into the air (as in a Norman Rockwell painting) but at least we'll be in a warm and cozy home environment instead of a crowded restaurant with all that pushing and shoving and noise.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S. who are celebrating this holiday tomorrow!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music for Relaxation

There are many distractions in this harried world. Too many things command our attention and sometimes it's difficult to slow down and take care of ourselves.

There are a variety of ways to take a step back, take a break, but everyone needs an "escape," even if for a short time, and in our own manner.

Some ways we refresh ourselves are with a nap; quiet contemplative time alone; a walk; exercise; a hot bath; or spending quality time with loved ones.

One thing that does the trick for me, but something I often actually forget to do, is listening to soothing music.


New Age music is my favorite type of music for relaxation. It calms the mind and spirit; inspires; and expands consciousness.

The tracks on a New Age compilation sometimes feature one set of panpipes, but they also frequently include a whole arrangement of instruments. Usually it includes the acoustic guitar or the piano, but Eastern-inspired instruments like the sitar and the tabla are sometimes used. The rhythms are often repetitive, interspersed with nature sounds like birds chirping, a mountain stream running or underwater whale noises. While electric instruments are sometimes thrown in to add a different dimension, the aim is always to create soothing music.


There are tons to choose from, but one of my favorite compilations is Reiki Healing Journey, available on CD or MP3 download for iPod. If you click on the link, you go to Amazon's page, where you can listen to a sample of all 20 tracks and try before you buy.

I love buying music from Amazon, not only for their prices, but also because I can listen and decide before making a decision about what to purchase.

What are your favorite ways to escape and relax? Is listening to music one of your favorite ways? If so, what type of music do you choose?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sitting by the Fire on a Saturday Night

What better way to spend a Saturday night than in front of a cozy fire?

 There were plenty of movies to choose from

And then some

But in the end, it was just sitting -- gazing and reflecting on the open flame.

The dogs were tired and napping

Even Kitty Sox wanted to join us

So it's back to the fire to absorb some of that warmth on a coldish November evening.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seeking Beauty

After the fullness of autumn color has passed and winter's whisper is just a breath away, it's not as easy to find beauty in the landscape. look up to see the few remaining leaves on a Hickory Tree.

Or look down and see the wine-color of an Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Can that be a violet nestled among the fallen leaves?

Of course, the Southern Magnolia never fails to please, regardless of the season!

Holly berries -- one of winter's stars!

The Eastern Red Cedar comes into its own when the color of autumn is past

The Betty Prior Rose gives a last gasp before folding up for the colder weather ahead

Oh, Arugula, you sweet green thing! How you do resist the cold!

The Bradford Pear Tree is always last to the Autumn Party!

Berries for my feathered friends

This Nicotina (Flowering Tobacco) didn't get the memo that winter is just around the bend

A row of Nicotina marching in a line toward.... the death of winter

Somewhere in there, amid the fallen leaves, there's a Rosemary plant! 

Ah, there you are! Rosemary makes me think of Christmas trees


This HAS to be the last Gardenia of the year

Boxwood -- Dependable any time of year

Autumn leaves on the ground -- almost as beautiful as on the trees

And a beautiful sunset

 And another

But waiting for the gorgeous red skies of December. Stay tuned because next month it's going to be difficult to aim my camera anywhere but above.

Wishing you a beautiful weekend wherever you may be.
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