Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I have been waiting years for this!

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I like oak trees, acorns and oak leaves...all sizes and shapes. When we bought our home 23 years ago, I was delighted to see a young oak tree in the back yard.
Every fall I enjoy the lovely apricot colored leaves and secretly wish our tree had acorns. I love this perky little nut! It has the cute top hat but it is very cute with or without the "hat". I like to use them for crafty wreaths and Christmas decorations. I look for acorns that have fallen from the trees at a city parks or along the sidewalks of old neighborhoods. I like to use them in their natural glory but sometimes they look great with a light spray of golden paint.

Today I was outside with my 15-month old grandson. Keeping up with him is quite an activity. He looks at everything and has that special delight in the small wonders nature gives us every day. It was on an excursion such as this that I looked down and saw, barely, these tiny acorns. I could hardly believe this find! I looked more closely and found that the squirrels had beat me to it and devoured the nuts! They scarfed down the insides of many an acorn and left the shells of a few.

I never thought about the insides of the nut but perhaps to the squirrel the baby acorns are a delicacy. After all, they steal all of the walnuts on my walnut tree only to bury these in shallow holes that become baby trees in a year or two. I'd rather have the nuts thank you very much! But they ate the acorns, leading me to think it was a treat for them too.

Now I will be on the hunt! As I put my flowers to bed for the season, I plan to look for as many tiny acorns as I can find...whole or not!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living in the Moment

Life can be so mundane. I am one of those people who have lived their lives in the future, the past and sometimes in the present. This brings many challenges and I am resolved to apply what I have finally learned about life.
I am the only one who can change the way I perceive the days I am given. Even a gray day can be lovely. I awoke this morning to lower temperatures and gray skies. I had some errands to run and could not help but notice how lovely the fall colors are becoming. Oh my yes! Last week I nearly pressed a tiny leaf that was tinged with the slightest tinge of red. I realize that it is important to enjoy these little moments; they are a gift that all too soon will fade away.
Fall will give way to winter and soon enough nature will take away the splendor of these colors and they will be replaced with winter’s coat of frosty white and grays on fences and posts.
I am determined to enjoy fall as much as I can. I look forward to Halloween, Veteran’s Day and especially Thanksgiving. Pumpkin, freshly harvested nuts and apples bring to mind a warm pie or cake from the oven on a crisp day. The colors of autumn bring so many things to mind and I can enjoy them, one moment at a time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wow...Rice in the Crockpot....oh happy thought!

Recently I decided to try cooking brown rice in the crockpot. This was triggered by the Steamer Bags I spotted in the freezer case at the grocers. It was such a time saver but not very budget friendly. Brown rice is healthy and it takes a while to cook. That leaves it out for those impromptu "What's for dinner moments." So, a new cooking project was born.

I put 2 cups of water in the crockpot with 4 cups of water, added about a teaspon of salt to the mix and took off for a couple of hours. Imagine my excitement when I peeked inside to see what was going on. I know you aren't supposed to peek in the pot, it can take away precious cooking time but I had no schedule and was too curious to wait. It was bubbling up and getting the job done! No boil-over on my stove, just happy simmering in the pot.

I let it cook for about three hours. I measured what I needed for the casserole I was making; then I divided the remainder into servings sizes for the two of us in ziploc bags and put them in the deep freeze.

Last night I grabbed a bag from the freezer, put the rice in a casserole and zapped it in the microwave for 60 seconds, fluffed it a bit with a fork and added another 90 seconds. It was getting warm so I fluffed it some more and then just let it go on the "Hold Warm" cycle while I continued to get the rest of the food ready to set on the table.

The rice was great! I served it with pork chops, gravy and corn on the cob. My husband said it was all very good.
I have another go-to timesaver in the freezer that I can add to soup, tex-mex food or anything I can dream up! It was so easy to do with minimal cleanup!

Friday, September 17, 2010

15 months of Fun

My husband and I watched our 15-month old grandson for a few hours today. He is so busy and so fun to watch. Everything is interesting for him. He is all about how things work. Wheels and anything with wheels gives pause for his inspection!

We recently purchased a Radio Flyer wagon so the grandkids can wheel it around the yard or block or wherever it can seemingly notwithstanding. Both my husband and I grew up with a wagon just like it and we purchased one when our girls were young. That wagon is full of memories. After restoring the wagon to its orginal glory, we gifted it to our two oldest grandkids to create their own memories with the wonder on wheels.

This new wagon is busy from the time that little guy lands at the door. He runs to the deck door and reaches for the handle. Stretching with all his might, he can reach it with the tippy-tips of his fingers. He is learning to say "Out" sort of, and as his translator I know that is just where he wants to go. Once outside, he wants in for a ride. Grandpa takes him all around the big back yard and the next stop is out front, across the street and to the mailbox! They roll along on down the street and back again so they can deliver the mail to me. Once safely parked in the backyard, the wagon is ready to be parked in its garage...inside the basement door. But the sight of the wagon empty brings me outside to the deck for there is the little guy doing his best to climb back in for yet another ride.

Ah...that shiny red wagon is ready for another adventure led by Grandpa and the little guy who is always ready for a ride.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Quiet Friday afternoon....

Is it me or are the dark windy days often just ignored for their simple gloominess? I am going to have to make a list of things to do this fall and winter so that I can enjoy myself and avoid the dark day blues.

Coffee: My sister took me to Starbucks this morning for a treat and I had a warm pumpkin scone...luscious, warm and great with my Americano

Go to a garage sale now and then or...thrift shopping. After coffee we went to an estate sale and we scored some great fabric fat quarters for fifty cents.

Organize my stash of fabric! Two reasons come to mind. I will be motivated to use it up and second, someday that could be my stash being sold at a garage sale. I thought of an old saying as we drove away "She who dies with the most fabric wins" I wonder how that really computes? Anyway, moving on....

Reading is a good way to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea. I like novels, mysteries, inspirational and the bible. Reading is also good with a warm cup of milk in the wee hours of a long night.

Crocheting! It's not just for afghans anymore. Thanks to Netflix I can watch/listen to anything I want on television while creating a sweater or mittens or purses with my hands....besides crocheting keeps my fingers out of chocolate.

I have projects and plans of things to do and while they are things I truly want to do I have put them off. I think I have just been waiting until the weather turned and with things going the way they are now, I can't wait to get started. First off, a colorful dinosaur quilt for grandson number 1! Stay tuned for pictures.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall is in the Air

As I make coffee in the morning, I enjoy taking a look out the kitchen window to see what has magically happened over night. Sometimes there are big surprises, like frost or snow! This morning I noticed that our firebush is beginning to have dark pink tips, a first sign of fall for me. This bush turns a blazing red, hence the name; sitting, as she does near some birch trees, she is particularly stunning on a golden day. My golden days are when the sun is just so and the back yard shimmers. I know, that is an odd characteristic for nature to possess but take it from me it is a sight to see.

We like to take a picture of our grandkids in that corner every fall. We have some great pictures, like the one with Grace wearing a tiara and Luke with his Texas Longhorn ball cap. Sometimes they are sitting with some pumpkins too, but always on the green garden cart. These are not staged photos. Indeed, sometimes the kids can't contain themselves as they giggle when Grandpa wants them to sit there like the cherubs he envisions.

This year the seasoned crew will once again be joined by their cousin Thor, who last year was a mere three months old. This year he is active, he is robust and will certainly add to the fun of the picture. We enjoy our three grandkids so much. It is fun watching them have their pictures snapped and these pictures are an annual reminder of how quickly they grow and change. It seems like yesterday we took the first pictures and so it would seem it was yesterday when our daughters were in front of the camera! Fall is in the air indeed and I plan to enjoy it immensely.