Monday, August 31, 2009


Today I'm dreaming.

Do you see this big comfortable leather chair with comfy pillow and blanket to pull around one's toes? I'm dreaming that I am totally by myself sitting right there. I'm dreaming that there's no dog hair caught in the pillow or floating around my head as I plunk down.

Do you see any cushions askew, any blocks sticking out from under the couch, a slingshot, dirty tennis ball, or stack of magic cards that need to be carried up to a bedroom? No, me neither. Because all is tidy and calm. Because I'm dreaming.

By my side is a big basket full of soft yarns. Do you hear any voices? No, I don't either. I'm all by myself and there's no one yelling, "Mom, what's wrong with my white shorts if I put them into the dirty basket wet and now they have black, fuzzy spots all over them?" There's no one interrupting me as I slip, purl, yarn over, and knit two together . . . calmly . . . over and over.

On the table beside me is a freshly made salad that I'm going to eat with no one picking out all the black olives.

And I've got a stack of books right beside my salad. Books I've tried to get to all summer. Books that have been inviting me to have a good, long visit for quite a while.

All is neat, all is quiet. I am alone. It is bliss.


And now that I have set up this scenario of blissful perfection, let me tell you what would happen approximately 30 minutes after I had achieved my "Nirvana."

I would become bored . . . and lonely . . . and irritable. And I would wish for the chaos and noise and mess that transform these walls from house to home.

Dreams are good . . . but only for dreaming. When it comes to living . . . give me reality!

Goodness . . . I love this life!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Geranium Love

I love geraniums!!

I didn't know I loved geraniums until this past week when I babysat three precious specimens for My Mom.

They sat in huge pots on my front porch, drank in blistering sun without complaining, and erupted in cheerful explosions of color, adding charm to the front of my house. Even their leaves are flirty.

What have I been thinking? Why hasn't this fun, hardy plant been part of my "landscape"? (I use the term "landscape" very loosely.)

I guess it took babysitting them and getting to know them to make me realize how much I need them!

I've heard that can happen with babies and puppies. Apparently, it's also the case with geraniums.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Worlds Collide

Here's a funny moment my blogging buddies will appreciate.

Several weeks ago I did my "100th Post Giveaway." When I had a winner, I packaged up the goodies and took everything to the UPS Store to have it boxed up and shipped.

I was waited on by a young-working-his-way-through-college clerk. I gave him the individual packages to box up and a little note to lay on the top that had the sentence in it: Thanks for being a sweet reader.

I saw him read the little note. And then his eyes widened, and he stood a little taller and asked with admiration, "Are you an author?"

I paused a moment. A nice long moment. A nice long moment in which I savored the words "you" and "author" being used within the same sentence. I smiled indulgently.

And then I shook myself and said, "Oh, no, no. I just have a little blog and I did a little giveaway."

"Wow, must be a pretty big blog to be able to do a giveaway!!!"

Well, uh, no, you dear young thing. Giveaways pretty much pop up like wildflowers in an open field here in Blogland.

"What do you blog about?"

Oh, my. I dove right in. "Well, just, uh stuff like, uh, being a mom and home and, uh, stuff like that," my excellent verbal skills proving my true claim to the title of "author."

Ahem. What was he to do with this information?

"Well, uh, I guess at least there wouldn't be many people who would blog on that topic." ::nervous giggle:: "So, at least, uh, you'd have a corner on that market."

Oh, my, you dear naive boy. You dear-naive-working-your-way-through-college-at-the-UPS-store-totally-outside-my-realm-my-world-my-sphere-boy.

Yes, there are 3 of us that blog about home and life.


3 million* that is. At least that's what it was when I went to bed last night. By this morning it was 3.4 million of us domestic/creative/bloggy type people out there.

The UPS clerk quickly boxed up the goods and avoided any more converations that would involve blogs, writing or domesticity . . . clearly three subjects far outside his comfort zone.

Then he returned to reading Hot Rod Magazine and drinking his Jolt Power Cola.

And I drove home to blog about painting my deck with my boys and making tabbouleh and knitting eco-friendly cotton market bags.

*Note: I have NO idea how many crafty/domestic/creative bloggers there are. Don't look to me for a source of statistics!! I just randomly pulled this fact out of the air : )

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunshine After Rain

Yesterday was a thick, muggy, blanket of a day. The kind of a day that only a person who has experienced a Southern summer can appreciate. And I find myself beginning to mutter words under my breath like, "sick of summer," and, "can't breathe in this heat," and, "if fall ever gets here."

So, we weren't surprised when the weather radio began to sound its alarm around nightfall, warning of severe thunderstorms and flash floods, swelling rivers and high winds.

It descended on us once all The Kiddos were calmly tucked in to bed and the dogs had buried their sleepy noses under their paws.

And descend it did. It rocked, it crashed, it exploded, it flashed, it drenched, it buffeted.

And this morning it is gone. And in its place is clear, fresh air and blue, blue skies with white, flossy clouds scudding across.

Drips falling from cherry tomatoes.

Water delightfully beading up on the deck The Sons and I just stained.

A magical mushroom pushing its way up.

And a million little crystal sparkles caught in the tangle of green morning grass.

And, excuse me, but was that just the slightest hint of a cool fall breeze I felt in the air?

Wait, wait.

Please, Fall, come when it's time, but I've still got kids in the pool and tomatoes ripening on the deck and sundresses and flip-flops in the closet.
Just kidding about the seasonal complaints! We're still soaking up the summer. Fall can wait!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Comforting and Fresh and Delicious . . . Oh, My!

I think it was because Oldest Daughter and I watched the finale of a cooking competition last night that yesterday I just couldn't cook the "usual" for dinner. No spaghetti, no tacos, no goulash. I just had the need to unleash my inner Top Chef . . . well, maybe not, but we can dream.

So, when I looked at Pioneer Woman's food blog entry and found Red Pepper Risotto, and my favorite chef at Publix handed me a plate of Lime Butter Tilapia to try, and I had garden-fresh tomatoes sitting on my counter, well it just all came together!

Don't you just love it when occasionally a meal comes together like that . . . all the planets line up and magically you just put together something dreamy.

And mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm, it was dreamy.

Comforting, fresh and delicious. Would that everything I serve at my sturdy oval dining table could be such!

Lime Butter Tilapia

1 1/2 lb tilapia (orange roughy or flounder) fillets (thawed, if needed)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 lime (for zest and juice, rinsed)
1 shallot (rinsed)

Using electric skillet, set temperature to 250 degrees. Season both sides of fish with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

Place 1 tablespoon of the butter into pan; swirl to coat. Add fish; cook 2 minutes on each side. (my favorite Publix chef told me this was long enough, and amazingly it was!! This fish was the softest and moistest I've ever had!)Cook time may vary depending on the thickness of the fish.

Meanwhile, cut remaining 4 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces; place in small bowl to soften. Peel several strips of lime peel, without any white pith, with zester (or vegetable peeler). Chop finely for zest (1 tablespoon); add to butter. Remove ends and peel from shallot; chop shallot finely and add to butter.

Stir remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper into softened butter mixture until well blended; chill until ready to serve.

Squeeze juice of lime (1 tablespoon) over fish; remove fish from pan. Top fish with lime butter mixture and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Publix Apron's

Volleyball Season

(So sorry for the blurry pic. I mentioned many times during the game to the Man of the House that I could really have gotten some awesome pics if I had a digital SLR camera. He did not appear to be listening.)

Volleyball season is here! And with it comes hours on hard metal bleachers, stomach-churning matches, and long drives to locations all over North and South Carolina.

But I love this game! I love watching this game! I love watching Oldest Daughter play this game!

I love conversations that include words like "dig," "dink," and "dive." I love screaming my lungs out after a long rally that finally goes our team's way. I love the streak of pinky-red that crosses Oldest Daughter's cheeks when she's determined to win the point.

Yep, for the next 3 months you'll be able to recognize me by my stiff hip joints, hoarse voice, and the GPS clutched tightly in my right hand.

Go Hurricanes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Please Silence Your Cell Phones . . .

"Please silence your cell phones!"

It runs across the screen at the movie theater, it's announced at meetings and written on signs in my doctor's office. And I always respond, a little self-righteously, "Who are these yahoos who need to be told to silence their cell phones in a place where quiet is called for?"

Which brings me to this past Sunday morning. My wonderful pastor was preaching. He had our total attention. He is so gifted in making God's Word real and relevant, and we were all on the edge of our seats . . . taking it all in as he brought his message to a close.

When all of a sudden a cell phone went off.

A cell phone in the 3rd row.

A cell phone set on medium high.

A cell phone with a ring that could only be described as a dance tune.

A cell phone in my purse.

da-da-da-da-da (cha-cha) da-da-da-da-da-da-da

I flopped wildly over in my seat to grab the phone in my purse and silence it, of course signaling to the entire church who the cell phone offender was. I could feel my family withering with humiliation on both sides of me.

But where was the phone? In truth, I can't find my phone in my cavern of a purse on a good day; why should I be able to find it in church . . . on the third row . . . in a scene of meditative quiet.

Mad digging in purse. Empty Orbit gum pack . . . no. Super Aqueous contact solution . . . no. Aloe-based sunscreen, Colgate toothpaste, reminder card from the children's dentist . . . no, no, no. Oh, something hard and cold . . . no, that's my digital camera.

Mercifully, cell phones only ring so long, and then with an exaggerated "twang" they quit, letting you know you have missed your call . . . and letting the entire congregation know they can now return to listening to the pastor.

The call was from a friend. A friend who forgot I was in church. A friend who wanted to know if I would attend an event with her. A friend with whom I will not be attending any events for the rest of my life. Just kidding . . . just kidding!

Bless his heart, the pastor soldiered on, totally ignoring the interruption, as we all learned to do in Speech 101. No one said anything to me about it after the service. In fact, come to think of it, no one even made eye contact.

So, in answer to the question, "Who are those yahoos who need to be told to silence their cell phones in a place where quiet is called for?"

I reply with freshly aquired humility, "Those yahoos are me."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Updo's, Braids, and Loops

Wouldn't you just love to have your own, personal hairdresser living right under your own roof, taking special "do" requests, making your hair look adorable every day?

Youngest Daughter lives in such lap of luxury. And blessed Oldest Daughter does her best to satisfy all hair desires of this child, as well as add some creative touches of her own.

Wanting the All-American-Girl-Next-Door look?

Then it's ponytails!

Needing a little elegance to go along with your brand, new summer sundress?

Introducing the elegant updo, featuring twists, flips, clips, and bows.

Wanting to add a little funky to your everyday ponytails?

Bring on loops!!

Just read Pippi Longstocking?

We're all about braids!

Can't decide what in the world to do with your hair today?

Leave it in the hands of the creative master, who comes up with the 3-in-1 triple braid.

I always knew I wanted a sister, and every day with these two reminds me exactly why!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Would You Like Paper or Plastic . . . or Cotton?

Time for a new knitting project. I think this will be fun and usable.

Don't you hate the guilt when you walk into Earth Fare or Whole Foods? The register monitors tell you:
Plastic bags will take 3,000 years to break down in our landfills.

It costs more to recycle and ship paper bags than it does to recycle plastic.

Plastic bags release toxins into the earth.

Ack! My solution is going to be soft and reusable and a beautiful golden yellow.

Here's the yarn:

And here's the pattern:


I think this will be fun, and it will make me smile every single time I walk by those monitors!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Wherein I Learn to Make Tabbouleh at the Hands of a Master

Yolla is leaving for Lebanon at the end of this week. ::sniff:: But not without a parting gift to me. Yolla announced last week that she would be teaching me to make tabbouleh. Not asked if I wanted to learn, mind you. Announced. And I loved it!

I was given a list of ingredients to have ready:

(oops, this picture should have some olive oil in it too!)

And when Yolla arrived at 1:30 p.m. on the appointed day, everything was waiting in readiness. I felt rather like a school child waiting for a home visit from her teacher. And maybe that's because all her life Yolla has been a teacher and a school administrator. Those kinds of people do tend to make me try to stand a little straighter.

Yolla surveyed my kitchen as an artist would someone else's studio. A swift glance around, and she was ready to take charge. She looked over my waiting ingredients and pronounced them good. Solid B+. She pushed up her sleeves and got to work.

"You have washed the parsley?" (insert strong Middle Eastern accent when Yolla is speaking)

"Uh, no." Shoot. Down to a C-.

"You have washed the onions and tomatoes?"

"Uhhhh, no, coming right up." Things were going downhill.

"You have a lemon juicer?"

"Uh, well, no." How could I tell her my fresh lemon juice usually comes out of a very large green bottle.

"You don't have a lemon juicer? Then you will show me how you plan to juice the lemon."
(Hands on hips . . . waiting.)

Fortunately I remembered a random cooking show where they showed you how to juice a lemon by cutting the lemon in half, holding the blade of the knife up against the flesh of the lemon, and squeezing the lemon so the juice drips down the blade. I performed this, all the while trying to appear confident.

I think I saw Yolla give a slight sniff.

Now, down to the business of chopping of the tomatoes and green onions. I scrambled to record the measurements as Yolla worked.

Next up, the highlight of the tabbouleh, the parsley. This was the tricky part, Yolla explained. She took each stalk individually . . . each stalk of 2 full bunches of parsley . . . and laid them in bundles for chopping. And then with a very practiced hand and with my sharpest, largest knife (that has been known to trim off the ends of thumbs and fingers with regularity) whizzed through all that parsley . . . left hand moving quickly back away from the knife, right hand chasing the left, chopping away with the knife, tiny specks of deep green parsley left in its wake.

There is a reason I couldn't get a clear picture here. The hands were moving too fast.

Apparently the ability to finely chop parsley for tabbouleh was a prized skill back in Yolla's day. The finer the parsley, the more clever was said to be the girl. And, one can only imagine, more marriagable! Nowadays, we put a food processor on our wedding registry and call it a day.

Yolla had brought her bag of bulghur wheat and added it in, along with the spices, juice, and oil.

Then we stirred and got forks and tasted and tweaked and tasted. And oh, mmmmmmm, it was scrumptious!! We sat on the couch and I listened to stories of the Lebanese war and life in Beiruit. And I felt full body and soul.

Oh, delicious, delicious tabbouleh. My family won't touch you with a 10-foot pole, so you're mine . . . all mine!!

Don't tell Yolla, but after she left I ate half the recipe on Tostitos tortilla chips. Somehow I don't think she'd approve.

Yolla's Lebanese Tabbouleh

1/2 cup finely ground bulghur wheat

3 tablespoons of water

1 very large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes

6 large green onions or 8 small green onions

2 bunches of fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I won't tell if you use the bottle!)

1/4 cup olive oil.

Mix water and bulghur together in a large bowl. Chop tomatoes. Thinly slice green onions. Add to bulghur and stir well. Very finely chop 2 bunches parsley (not the stalks, just the leaves). Stir well again. Add remaining ingredients, stirring after each addition. Allow tabbouleh to sit for an hour so the bulghur can soak up the juices. Eat in romaine boats (Lebanese-style) or with tortilla chips or pita chips (American-style).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Winner - "Favorite Things Giveaway"

Wow! I loved all your sweet comments on the 100th Post. Thank you.

But onto more important matters . . . winner of the giveaway!

I used a Random Number Generator for complete, utter, and total accuracy, and it tells me the winner is:


And #10 just so happens to be:


who blogs at

Check out her blog. With 6 kids (and 5 of them age 6 and under!) there is never a dull moment. Lacey makes me laugh and I love the way she thinks and writes!

Lacey, just e-mail me (look on blog sidebar) and let me know if you want chocolate hazelnut or cranberry pecan biscotti or a mixture of both.

More "favorite things" giveaways to come! I can't think of anything more fun than sharing some of my favorite things with you!!
Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Painting and Perspective

There's nothing like 93 degree weather, splinters in your knees, and the smell of oil-based stain to give you a little perspective.

The Man of the House left us with instructions to please stain the deck. I immediately nominated Oldest Son and Middle Son to help out. Oooh, it is good to have a homegrown labor force.

Oldest Son does not complain. He plunges in to the work like a mule resigned to the plow and gets going. I heard him once mutter, "Could this be any more uncomfortable?" as he balanced on one knee, a heel, and the palm of his right hand while painting with his left. But the rest was head down, nose to the grindstone. Hard worker.

(wait, I just complimented you for working . . . were you really just listening to music?)

Middle Son does complain . . . and loudly. He questioned everything. Why we hadn't hired someone for this horrific job, why we hadn't rented a sprayer, why we chose an oil-base over a latex base, why having a deck was preferable over exiting the back door and jumping into open air. This probably means he will be a brilliant problem solver in the future, but for today it just meant I had to answer too many questions and justify too many decisions.

My blood started to boil . . . right along with the mercury in the outdoor thermometer. My mind went on a little tirade about ungrateful, selfish children.

However, when it was all over my complainer's section was well done and thorough . . . followed instructions to the letter . . . stain beautifully applied. Job well executed.

On the other hand, I had to call my cheerful worker back to get the stain down in between the cracks. I had given very specific instructions about that. The instructions appeared to have been completely ignored (maybe he hadn't heard me over his i-pod!!).

My blood started to boil . . . right along with the mercury in the outdoor thermometer. My mind went on a little tirade about ungrateful, selfish children. (Wait, this is starting to sound familiar.)

However, when I called my cheerful worker back and showed him his error, he responded beautifully. "Sure, Mom." He got to work in the, by now, blazing afternoon sun. Not a complaint. Redid his work. Got it right this time.

Okay, I'm getting it. It's living with imperfection again. Seeing my kids' strengths. Appreciating them. Seeing my kids' weaknesses. Accepting them, giving grace, watching God grow and change them, knowing none of us will ever be perfect this side of Heaven. Letting the grumbling roll off my back and loving the job well done. Patiently accepting slivers of board left unstained and loving the heart that is willing to work.

No, there's nothing like 93 degree weather, splinters in your knees, and the smell of oil-based stain to give you a little perspective on this business of mothering . . . of loving . . . of living with imperfection.
(p.s. Don't forget to leave a comment on the giveaway if you'd like to be entered!! Ends at midnight Friday.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

100th Post and "Favorite Things" Giveaway!!

Wow!! Five months have gone by and I'm already to my 100th post!! My short-lived blogging journey has been interesting and fun and thought-provoking.

Here are a couple of mosaics of some good memories:

Indulge me with one more mosaic!

These pictures bring back a smile or a smirk or a sigh!

After my brief 5 months of blogging, I have a list of 5 things I love about blogging:

1. Blogging is a great way to chronicle what's going on in our lives on a daily basis. I certainly wasn't doing this kind of journaling before!!

2. You readers have been a blast! You make me laugh, give great advice and give me little peeks into your own world. It's so enjoyable to meet people from all over the globe whose lives you would never touch without this amazing, slightly surreal, world of blogging.

3. My commitment to "finding humor, beauty, and joy in the everyday-ness of life" has required me to keep my eyes "peeled" to actually find these treasures. And as a result, I've been richly rewarded in the finding.

4. Blogging is a wonderful, creative outlet when I've had just a little too much vacuuming of dog hair out of carpets, collecting wet towels from various corners of the house, or scraping burnt waffles out of the waffle iron (please tell me why I should have to grease a non-stick appliance!)

5. Blogging gives me something to do with my free time : )!! Ha!

So, to celebrate 100 posts I'm going to do a "Favorite Things" Giveaway. I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite things with you.

First off, since you know I love knitting and crochet, I have knitted a dishcloth:

And crocheted a dishcloth just for you:

Remember when I was knitting at the pool and getting a thrill from the blue and the green together? Well, that was all for you, my dears! You were on my mind!

These were knitted/crocheted from the luscious Blue Sky Alpaca 100% organic cotton yarn in the color "pear." Most yummy cotton yarn ever created, I do believe.

If you've read my gardening posts, you know that I have been gifted with neither great desire nor great ability in this area. However, my theory is, if you can't do something well at least look good while doing it. These gloves are included in the giveaway, and they make me look like a downright professional! They're thin and tight so you can do things like tie your tomato plants onto stakes, but they also give your hands great protection.

And if your hands are still a little work-worn, whether it's gardening or bread baking or carpool driving you're doing, here is my favorite, favorite hand cream. A true classic. Your hands will thank you.

Lastly, you might remember me posting about my fabulous brother's fabulous bakery.

I'll be sticking in this little giveaway package some of his delicious freshly-baked biscotti, of course all organic and hand-made, in your choice of chocolate hazelnut or cranberry pecan. I can't show you a picture of the biscotti because I'm going to buy it fresh the day I mail the package!

So, there you have it! Can't wait to send this package of dishcloths, gardening gloves, hand cream, and biscotti off to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. But do it by Friday because at the end of the day Friday the giveaway will be closed. (And for those of you who like to comment by e-mail instead of on the post, feel free to enter by e-mail.)

Woo-hoo! Here's to another Happy 100!