A Nosegay for You

I wanted to share some of the beautiful little moments that have come my way lately.

First of all – ranunculus for sale at the grocery store! I tried valiantly to grow ranunculus in Bakersfield, and would have succeeded were it not for the creepy beetles who came along and ate all the blossoms at their peak. I don’t often purchase flowers, but these reminded me of peonies. I love their curly stems.

A beautiful wee tabby at one of the garden centers we visited this week. She was curled up on a shelf on one of the displays and was quite hidden, but was more than happy to accept a chin rub. Don’t you love it when businesses have resident pets?

Phone calls with my sister, one in particular on a snow day when the entire town was closed in. And another one this afternoon. I always enjoy our chats.

An e-mail from a friend that I hadn’t heard from in a few years, informing me of the birth of her third baby and the pending adoption of another foster child. I am blessed to know there are people like her out there. And she’s still several years away from age 30!

A small quilt binding class. Binding has been my last hold-out. I need to practice, but at least I (sort of) know how.

A delicious cool front that came in Friday night, just before our big day of yard work. It made our work much easier. There’s something so gratifying about physical work.

Beautiful, meditative Liturgies at church, especially Presanctified Liturgy and Adoration of the Cross. These services, for me, have so embodied the often-quoted story about the ambassadors sent to learn about Orthodoxy who reported back that ‘they knew not whether they were in heaven or in earth’ during the Liturgy. My mind often wanders during services – how easily I lose my focus – but there are also profoundly beautiful moments.

Preparing a small birthday gift for my husband’s 87-year-old grandma. I love sending mail to elderly people.

No, it’s not all sunshine and roses around here, but small moments mean a lot to me. What blessings, big or small, have come your way lately?


Garden Update

My appearances here are becoming less and less! This isn’t intentional, just a side effect, I suppose, of having lots to do. We’ve been putting quite a bit of time into the garden, and I’ve also been hidden away working on a personal essay for a writing workshop I’m in.

Little by little, we’ve been doing a lot in the garden. Last weekend I planted quite a few herbs and some new flowers in my main bed, which has the advantage of its soil already being amended and improved. Trying to garden with a young dog at my heels was quite entertaining! He would grab small pots and run off with them, bite flowers off of plants, and eat the herbs. He was being silly, and he knew it.

We’ve also been working on putting in a new flower garden in the big empty spot where we lost a nice tree in Hurricane Ike last September. After I tried to plant a few things there, I realized the soil desperately needed to be amended before much more went in the ground. So my lucky husband has been digging in countless bags of peat moss and potting soil the past two days! Bless his heart. I laid twenty bags of mulch while he was working on that, and suspect that I will be hard-pressed to move tomorrow as a result.

The best part is that I did put new plants into the amended bed, digging them in this afternoon. I’m quite excited about this and hope that everything thrives and does well! If it does, I will share pictures. We still have work to do, but I think the worst of it is over.

What home and garden projects have you been working on?


Domestic Scenes

I'm afraid I haven't been around in blogland much lately. I have finally been pressured into joining the dreaded facebook, and have been familiarizing myself with it. Real Simple magazine had a good article in April's issue that clearly stated a lot of my thoughts about fb. I will have to share that in another post!
But I wanted to share a few domestic scenes with you this week. I finally made my first batch of refrigerator pickles, a favorite from childhood, made by my mom. When I stumbled upon some Kirby cucumbers, I just knew I had to make them. I used this recipe, modified somewhat. They were good, but I'll tweak them a bit next time. It was rather exciting to make them, though! (It doesn't take much to make my day.)

I've also managed to do some stash busting this week, and used up 12 yards of flannel that I'd had for several years to sew baby blankets for a donation drive at church. They're so easy: 36-inch squares of two different fabrics, sewn together inside out, turned rightside out, and then topstitched around the edges. Yes, perhaps they're not traditional baby blanket colors, but they're warm and I'm thrilled to find a use for that flannel! They will go to an orphanage/day care center in Romania; it's a little humbling to think my quickly whipped out blankets might be used to wrap up little babies in need of so much. I wish I could offer so much more.

And, I rather liked the way these daffodils looked after they'd dried up in the vase. They were from my garden. A few more are blooming, but they're almost done. A friend also split some of her perennials to share with me this week, which was exciting gardening news (thanks again!). She brought her border collie to play chase with my pup in the backyard; what fun to watch them race around!
Have you tried any new recipes? Enjoyed any spring flowers?



I'm luxuriating in what will likely be the last truly cool days here until next December. The rain has returned, badly needed. There have been bits of beauty in the last few weeks: my red salvia after being watered, lovely blossoms at the Japanese Garden. The red salvia have even re-seeded themselves, which is quite exciting to a beginning gardener like myself! They're popping up all over and will look lovely once they grow. I spent a lot of time weeding this week and made enough progress to be able to plant a few things in the big empty spot where we lost a tree in the hurricane last fall. I will be relying heavily on salvias because they do so well here, and there are many varieties of them. The weeding was rewarding; there's something exhilarating about hard work. I've also planted a few varieties of thyme along the front walk, not so much for herbal use as for groundcover and a nice scent. I hope they do well.
Speaking of the salvias re-seeding, wouldn't it be nice if our energy and creativity just re-seeded themselves as easily as the salvias do? After our fourth (and last) round of week-long houseguests in two months, I find myself a bit at odd ends, procrastinating on all the things I need to do, even the fun things. But at least I could bring myself to pull weeds!
What are you up to?


Saturday in Galveston

Wordless Wednesday: My first time back to Galveston since Hurricane Ike. Photos by my husband. They were hauling sand onto the beaches, repairing the sails on the historic Elissa. Cruise ships were taking off, part of Moody Gardens was still closed. A rogue wave hit me and soaked me pretty well. A sunny day touring with our visiting family.


In the Details

It may be a cliche, but I never cease to wonder at the exquisite detail in the natural world all around us. The complexity and beauty of even a small flower or mushroom is noteworthy. I've heard atheist professors openly admit that the intricacies of the human body are the biggest challenge to their disbelief: How do our arms know to grow to the same length in the womb? How are our amazing, complex eyes created so perfectly, essentially little cameras in our heads? I think this detail in nature is partly why I love the Psalms so much - so many of them delineate God as He is revealed in nature. The Psalms are on my mind especially now that Lent has begun and I'm reading/praying a chunk of them daily. A group of twenty women around the country are rotating through the Kathismas (ah, the internet); between all of us, the Psalms are prayed in their entirety every day. Knowing that I'm responsible to fulfill my portion keeps me motivated to keep with it daily. Having gone through most of Christ in the Psalms last year, I also find myself seeing Christ revealed in the Psalms so much more than I did before. It's really quite striking. I also remember what Kathleen Norris wrote in Acedia & me. She continually referenced the psalms and noted that the desert fathers and mothers considered praying of the psalms to be essential for overcoming acedia. I appreciated this insight.
On another note, I'm expecting more houseguests tomorrow! If you're interested, there will be a small post from me on 40 Maxims (see side bar) on March 7.


Fifth Photo Tagged

I was tagged by Martha to open my fifth photo folder and post the fifth photo in that folder. This photo is from my sister's wedding in 2005. My husband is escorting my dear Grandma Helen to her seat. The wedding was held outdoors, overlooking beautiful Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. This photo is bittersweet. The wedding and the weeks leading up to it were delightful and full of celebrations - the bridal shower, a small bachelorette party that involved a surprise limo ride through the Black Hills and a stop for dinner at our favorite restaurant in Hill City, an authentic British tea for the ladies in the backyard a day or two beforehand, and a rehearsal dinner at a local park with our favorite Chinese restaurant catering. One of our good friends and I shared matron of honor duties. Another good friend was the impromptu coordinator and later stayed in our cabin, snoring all night - although we were all too wound up to sleep well anyway! The bitter part is that Grandma passed away less than a month later. We four granddaughters (my sis, our cousins, and I) were all very fond of her and she is still deeply missed. But I rejoice that she was able to be there for all four of our weddings and that I was able to see her again that summer and see how excited she was about my sister's wedding.
If you want to play along, consider yourself tagged.


{Crafting it Forward}

The always creative Martha posted a giveaway on her blog this weekend. As I was one of the first three to comment, I am hereby {crafting it forward} on my own blog.

So, the guidelines: The first three people to comment on this post will receive a handmade gift from me! There’s a twist, though – winners must post this giveaway on their own blog, and then create something handmade for the first three commenters as well. You have 30 days to make and send your handmade goodies, any price range, anything you decide to make. I think it will be fun.

I’m so eager to see who will post! And if you know me, you can probably guess that I may just go ahead and make cards for you! Perhaps I’ll let the winners pick their favorite images from my blogs…we’ll see!