Friday, February 27, 2009

More Violets

The Dog Violet Fairy

I dropped in to Main Street Antiques in Turlock last week. My friend Betty Sue has a booth there. You see that I was unable to resist more violets. I am such a sucker for them. Don't try to tell me that they wouldn't have found their way home with you if you had seen them first! These were mailed in 1910 and 1911. Think of that. Do you suppose anything we send now will be worth saving in a hundred years?

. . . Oh, and you should see what I bought from Betty Sue! Maybe I'll just tease you, and maybe I'll take more pictures . . . You should definitely stop in!

Don't you just love the wax seal and ribbon on this one? It was intended and expected to be cherished. And someone did just that. Such a nice thought.

When I posted the photo of my first violets of the year a couple weeks ago, I actually did a little research, and just couldn't waste it, thinking, naturally, that you were probably going to need it. :)

A Little Violet Lore
Courtesy of the American Violet Society

Violet Magic :

A garland of violets around the neck protects from deception and inebriation.

Used in love philters and spells, it restores health after a long illness.

If you are given violets plants as a gift, it's very auspicious. If this gift comes from your lover, the better.

When violets bloom in the fall, they mean to warn us about imminent dangers.

When violets appear in your dreams, fortune is not too long away.

Dreaming Violets? A Violet in your Dreams.... You will marry someone younger than yourself!

I see that dreaming of violets has two meanings. You will marry someone younger, and fortune is not too long away. They both do sound pretty dreamy, I suppose. :)

Want to know more about Violets?

The Heartease Fairy
Cecily Mary Barker

Antique engraving, compliments of Diane Knott's Musings

Do you like it?

Actual jpeg removed due to copyright. {It has been pirated, not fair to the artist. Shame on those scurvy pirates!} But, proof positive that I'm not the only one who loves it!

How much do you looove my new banner? I found a lovely woman with an etsy business to design it. When I was looking through her offerings, I noticed that I already have two of her artworks, making her a pretty natural choice for me, don't you think? I just know that you're going to love her work as much as I do. Here's a link for you to check it out for yourself! Thompson Designs

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Signs of Spring

Plum Tree Blossoms, and a sweet pair of House Finches.

You really need to click on these next three pictures to enlarge and properly appreciate the birds. :)

This little pair is waiting for me to leave so they can resume their breakfast. They don't completely distrust me, they are still in the open but would be a lot more comfortable if I just weren't as near as I am. They're perched in a wintering Hydrangea. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that it's a beautiful plant in the right season.

Dining along a Primrose Path.
They aren't tidy little guests but worth it, still. Don't you think?

Click here: Feed the Birds, if you would like instructions for sterilizing birdseed.

Nesting Season

I can't wait to tell you what I discovered in our backyard this morning. First, a tiny bit of background . . . When Sam was a little boy, he built a perfectly beautiful little birdhouse in his 4-H woodworking class. It was immediately, and with great pride, hung on the deck post, right where we could enjoy it from the breakfast table. Over the years his beautiful birdhouse has been the birthplace of gazillions of . . . wasps! Today, I see the promise of something new, different and wonderful! As I stepped under the little bird house, I felt and heard a flutter of bird wings! I didn't see the bird, but there was no doubt that it was there. I hadn't been looking in the right direction because I was trying to discover what all of those lumpy things were on the ground. They were bits and pieces of an old wasp nest. Birds are moving in! For the first time in about ten years! The little birdie parents are taking over their proper home, built for them, throwing out the squatters, and cleaning house! I couldn't be more pleased! Isn't it wonderful? I'll try to take pictures tomorrow, but I couldn't wait to tell you! A lot of moving going on these days. Must be nesting season. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

It is good

We, as in all of us, the entire family, are spending our days helping with the big move, and the nights recuperating. Every last one of us is sore and achy. Mark and I are walking, nay, hobbling around like we've added thirty years to our already ample ages.

Justin has youth and fitness on his side. Pregnancy is not helping Elizabeth. {Mom grin} She's achy and off balance, and not allowed to lift, so she's a little frustrated, wanting so much to do so much. Isn't that the way it is?

Christian is just as pleased as punch. He loves playing in his new "Green Room". He doesn't want to leave. When his parents needed to make one more trip to the old house this afternoon, he came to find someone who he knew would be sympathetic to his needs, he sought out Grammy. He might have figured me for a soft touch, I don't know. . . but he came to me, hand beside his mouth lest his parents overhear, looking so pitiful it would have broken your heart and whispered, pleadingly, "I don't want to go." So he didn't. It would have taken a pretty heartless Grammy to deny him this honest, sad request. He was tired, and three, and settled in, and the television had just arrived, and Thomas the Tank Engine was on it.

Zach, Elizabeth and their boys provided much needed muscle, in spite of Zach having been up working all night, and eventually succumbing to exhaustion on the love seat. But he looked so cute. {another Mom grin} Imagine three little boys amid the confusion of moving cartons and a moving van. Oh, and the big hole in the backyard that. . . we are pretty sure, was designed for pint-sized adventures. Yep, pretty much the definition of little boy adventure-land.

{ridding the new yard of a poisonous berry plant}

Happy Parents + Happy Kids = Happy Life

Photo Credits:

In the U-Haul ~ Justin

Cutting the bush ~ Bebe

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Girls' Night In

I am feeling so smug. The guys will have to entertain themselves, I am having the girls over for a movie night. At kind of a late hour, {which somehow makes it feel a little more like a special occassion} we are going to stretch out on the sofa, and watch Serendipity. Have you seen it? Don't you love it? Most of us have seen it before, and it is the perfect antidote to an otherwise seriously dark and gloomy night.

My apologies to our collective group of Honeys. Sometimes a girl's gotta giggle.

I'll build a toasty, warm fire in the fireplace, make a lovely cheese fondue, reposition the sofa to take the best advantage of the big television, {since it's not being used for hockey tonight} add wine and grapes and we're good.
I have the best cheese fondue recipe. I like to get my cheese from the makers, it feels so European that way. {silly grin here} It's Oakdale Cheese & Specialties, who, by the way provided the original recipe. I have altered it a bit. Some purposely, some accidentally, till we think it's just perfect, and because we do, we keep an eye out for opportunities to indulge in it. It isn't fair to tease you with all of this deliciousness, so I will post the recipe for your "Nights-In" to be.
It is Random Act of Kindness Day, afterall.

Can't say I never did anything for you!

Dutch Cheese Fondue Recipe

1 clove garlic
1 3/4 cups milk
1 lb. Gouda Cheese, grated {We like mild Gouda, for this recipe}
4 T Flour (Wondra is great)
4 T lemon juice
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
2-3 loves crusty Italian or French Bread {cut into cubes or sliced}

Coat the grated cheese with flour in a zipper bag.
Cut the bread into cubes or slices.
Rub the inside of the pot with the cut garlic clove, then discard garlic.
Place the pot on the stove and add lemon juice to it. Heat over medium flame until it is hot, but not boiling.
Add handfulls of cheese, alternating with the milk and stirring with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and has the appearance of a light creamy sauce. Add pepper to taste.
Remove the pot from the stove, and place over a candle.

Additional Information:
I don't know why, but, 'wooden utensils only', are recommended.
If the fondue is too thick, add a little milk.
If it is too thin, you can thicken it with a little extra flour.
It will become thicker as time passes while it sits over the candle, though.
I really recommend Wondra. It is a sauce and gravy flour. Very easy to work with. It comes in a blue cardboard canister and will be found on the baking aisle at your grocer, near the flour.
The original recipe had wine, quite a lot of it. I don't remember how much anymore, but I think the recipe is probably available on their site to which I have provided a link.
Everybody who has tasted it, everybody, loves it.

mmm . . . . . . cheese fondue, wine and a movie with girlfriends . . . .


Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Day! Oh, Happy Day!

My daughter and son-in-law bought their first house today! It closed escrow this morning! If that isn't a red letter day, I don't know what is! Congratulations, Elizabeth and Justin! And Christian! You have worked hard, and scrimped and saved, and today it is all worth it! I am so very proud of you! Happy, Happy!

Oh, more good news! I was just about to hit the "publish" button, when my cell phone rang. It was Sam. He has been applying for graduate school. He's torn between two of them. While he and his fiance are entertaining her brother at Disneyland, he got a phone call, and he has been accepted into one of his first two Seminary choices! What a wonderful day this is turning into!

Can you believe it?

Praise God!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Natural Beauty

Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, tender, precious, gracious, self-less, life giving, life affirming act. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, or hidden, or to get excited about. It is pure and simple. It is the way we are designed to feed our babies. It is right and proper.

My Grandmother wet-nursed her sister's child. And probably saved her life. There were times in the past when it was simply an accepted practice to feed a child whose Mother was weak, ill, or as was often the case in centuries past, when the Mother was lost during childbirth.

These days, there are programs for saving breast milk and donating it to children in need in other countries, and even at home. That's progress.

I well remember my first encounter with donating mother's milk to a newborn who had lost his. I will never forget it. I would have nursed every child that I could, had it been socially acceptable. I hope it will be again. Maybe we're on the verge of a breakthrough. I certainly hope so.

~ With much Love

PS Read this related story: A Police Officer in China, after the earthquakes. . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Violets are the sweetest, simplest flowers. They are unassuming. You don't hear romantic banter peppered with the word, 'violet', and they aren't generally sent as tokens of love, but have you ever picked a bouquet of violets? Have you ever inhaled their delicious aroma? Have you ever set a tiny bouquet on your bedside table to breathe in the loveliness?

You know of the nosegays that delicate ladies carried in the days of yore to ward off, shall we say, the unpleasant scents of civilization. Remember Eliza Doolittle and her little violet bouquets? If you could just inhale a violets lovely fragrance, you would wish to carry a little tussie mussie with you simply for the romantic notion.

When I had my store, I carried little silver vase brooches . . . sigh . . . people just didn't get my vision. I still have my little brooch/vase and certainly do my part to keep the old tradition alive.

The violets in my yard were starts from my Grandmother. Grandma is 98 now, and very often we can be heard discussing her violets {Truly, when the topic isn't quilting.} She moved to California after WWII, and brought her beloved violets with her. She says they originally came from a hog pen. They have made several other stops along the way in order to find their way into my flower bed. And I love that. I love that the flowers have history. There is so little history in our homes, and especially our gardens, any more. We have such a tendency toward trendiness.

And I love to share my violets. I will give starts to anyone that appears interested, and especially, I try to make certain that any of Grandma's grandchildren that want any have them!

I worked in a little French boutique for a couple of years. When my violets were blooming, I would cut a little bouquet a day, put them in the prettiest little vase or bottle that we had, with a little tuft of ribbon around the neck, and someone would have to have that vase before the day was through. . . ."and I can have the violets, too, can't I"? I did the same in my shop . . .{another sigh} . . .

According to "The Language of Flowers", the meaning of blue violets is Faithfulness. It does seem apropos. They are the most modest, unassuming and faithful flowers, returning late every winter to assure you that the world still has loveliness buried deep inside, waiting for warmer days.

The Violet

Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head
As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colour bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there.

Yet thus it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused a sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

Jane Taylor
{1783 - 1824}

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vintage Valentine Swap ~ Finis

It is here! The awaited book of fantastical Valentines! It is here! And don't you just love it?

Like an award recipient, I need to thank so many people! If the ladies who made these lovelies from all manner of ephemera happen to stop by, please, please, identify your artworks! I would love to know who made them! {and then thank you properly!} In the meantime, I will identify the ones that I am able! First, and foremost, Thank You, Dede!
{The aritst is identified immediately under the photo of her work.}

Milli W.
sashagirl on flickr

Marbi Burnette

Jennifer Jinete

Pinky Denise

Pink Pomegranate

Jackie Cate
Wren's Nest Designs

Laurie Giberson

Kiss Noises
Lily Cottage

Karen Bensom
Recycled Rita

The Junk Drawer

Linda B.

Sue McPherson

Love, Jolene

Melissa Merrill

Dede Warren
Dream, Create, Share
Another big thank you to Dede for identifying these pretties!

Stacey Brooks
Flotsam & Jetsam

My contributions are posted elsewhere. Clicking here
Vintage Valentine Swap, will take you there. The post that you are currently viewing will probably be the first one, so you'll need to scroll through all of this to see the older posts.



To those who can dream there is no such place as faraway.

{author ~ unkown}

What would you do if someone gave you the following sort of directions, and a week?
Use this image in some sort of artwork, with the prompt: Dream.
You may use the word, or not, but it is intended as inspiration.
The image is posted at the bottom, this is my answer to the query.~

The challenge art is framed with copper foil. The large butterfly's path is marked by silver bullion, the small one's by vintage amber buttons. It is a truly vintage key tag that identifies the "key to happiness", whose ribbon is fabric cut from a scrap from Elizabeth's wedding. The tiny feather, I found on the front door step of Elizabeth and Justin's first home, the day that they first viewed it. {Escrow closes this week! Want to talk about a dream!}

You can view all of the other entries, as well at Mind Wide Open, but not until tomorrow, February 8th. It should be fun, I have no idea what the other submissions will be, and I hope I'm not embarrassed once I do!

Her's is a lovely blog, I think you'll like it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lemon Bars

Correction: World's Best Lemon Bars Recipe
{according to Mark}

Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar

Filling Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. lemon juice

2-3 Tbsp. powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Butter 8" square baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients.
Mix until well blended.
Pat into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 15~20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
Mix all filling ingredients (except powdered sugar) and blend well.
Pour over the baked crust.
Return to oven for 18~20 minutes or until set.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 16 ~ 2" square bars.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pickled Papaya Recipe

Pickled Papaya Recipe
(as I recall )
For this batch, four quarts, I used, approximately:
3 cups White Distilled Vinegar
5-6 pounds ripe Papaya (2 large)
1 jar (12 oz. ?) Banana Peppers, including liquid
1 medium White Onion
2 Tablespoons whole Black Pepper Corns
3/4-1 cup white Sugar
1-2 teaspoons of salt, according to taste

Notes and Preparation:
Sterilize jars and lids.
This is not processed in a hot water bath. It is a cold process and must be kept refrigerated.
Peel papayas.
Scoop out seeds, and discard them.
Slice Papaya into long thin slices. They will need to be short enough to be covered with liquid in the jars.
Thinly slice the onion.

  • In a medium saucepan, over medium flame, combine vinegar, pickling juice from the jar of banana peppers, sugar and pepper corns. Heat just to simmering, making certain that the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Distribute the banana peppers evenly among the jars (this should be about 4 or 5 per quart jar).
    Alternate filling the jars with the papaya and onion slices. (I mean add a few onion slices, then a few papaya slices, then a few onion, an so on . . .)

  • After the jars are filled with the fresh produce, carefully pour the vinegar mixture until it covers all of the fresh ingredients. If you run a little short, you may add more vinegar; or if it just a tiny bit short, a little water to finish topping off. Important Note: I like to make certain that the liquid has cooled. Be aware of the potential for breaking the jars if you pour hot liquid over cold fruit in cold jars.

  • Seal jars with lids and rings, and refrigerate. There will already be pretty well developed flavor in a day or two.

More Notes:

I can't tell you how long it will keep in the refrigerator, but you are used to being aware of these things, right?

I had wanted to try the recipe with Apple Cider Vinegar, but when I got home from the grocer, the seal on my new bottle was broken, and I'm just paranoid about those things, so I opted to use the white vinegar that I had on hand, as I recall the original recipe called for that, anyway. But I still think cider vinegar would be delicious! I will have to give it a whirl some time.

If you think you would like your pickled papaya a little hotter, you could try jalapenos instead of banana peppers. Oooh, that sounds positively yummy!

This is the recipe as it was taught to me, many, many years ago, when we lived on Guam.
The original post is here: Such a Nice Day
Since that post, I have had a request or two for the recipe, so I updated, and posted it there, and decided that a special recipe like this deserves it's own address. :)

Have fun experimenting!
And wouldn't you expect, with the hundreds of hits that I get on this recipe that someone would comment? Do you think that's a bad thing . . . that not one has?