Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year's Day.  It was a welcome sight!  Even though it did not raise the temperature substantially, it did warm the soul......

Late afternoon sunlight streaming through our West facing windows, the stark outline of bare trees visible against a most blue sky......magical.  

It's the simple things, the ordinary, that often bring joy to the day.  A renewed and perpetual goal of mine is to take the time to see......

Monday, January 1, 2018

Post Christmas Post - No Blues Here....

Christmas has come and gone.....again.  It was a lovely and scaled back season for us in 2017.  Perhaps the diminished trappings of the holiday helped us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy more our time spent with Family. 

There was less décor.  We decided on a smaller, tabletop tree this year, filled with our special collection of Shiny Brites and twinkly white and multicolored lights.  Without the concern of our seven month old Australian Shepherd overturning the tree and no loss of floor space or rearranging of furniture, it turned out to be a decision that most likely will be repeated in the future!  Only our favorite pieces ended up on display this time around and I supplemented with simple white prayer candles grouped here and there.  It was quite simply perfect and fitting for us in this season of our lives.  

The end of the year brought a frigid arctic cold front and several gray days of below freezing temps.  It has actually been a most welcome change to slow the pace and stay inside, snuggled up in warm fleecy blankets and sipping on hot coffee throughout the day.  With the Christmas decorations down and packed away, the house feels clean and wide open, ready for a fresh start in a new year.  It has also been the perfect opportunity to rebinge on Season 1 of The Crown, having already blown through Season 2.  Although, I have to be cautious about binging on British I tend to start talking to myself with a thick royal accent and craving scones!  

Since tomorrow will mean a return to work and normal routine, I took the time to prepare and simmer a pot of vegetable beef soup this morning.  The leftovers should be a warm and simple solution for quick lunches throughout the coming week.  And, I am still basking in the glow of accomplishment of having done some meal prep and planning for this week, instead of falling back on a bowl of microwaved mac & cheese in a rush.  

Now, as the late Winter afternoon sun sinks low in the western sky, I will turn my attention to the evening household chores.....feeding the dogs, dinner and cleanup, and preparing for tomorrow.  There might be time for another episode (or two) of The Crown before I crawl under the covers and enjoy a bit more of the lovely novel I am currently reading before my eyelids grow heavy and I succumb to sleep and rest in preparation for a short week.  

I bid you sweet dreams, dear Friends.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Evening Meal

Evening falls and the lights are on in the kitchen as I prepare the final meal of the day.  With my beloved feeling a bit under the weather, a steaming pot of homemade chicken noodle soup seems in order.

 I slice the carrots and celery, season and simmer the chicken broth and stir in the egg noodles as it comes to a boil on the stovetop.  The finishing touch is the tender chunks of chicken breast.  And the aroma is heavenly!  Soon our stomachs are filled with delicious sustenance.  

After this simple meal, I return to the kitchen to clean and put things away.  The blue bowls sparkle again; the heavy saucepan drains by the sink.  My eyes scan the counter tops and find stark beauty in the curved faucet and the stacked dishes on the open shelf.  My wedding ring sits on the window sill above the sink beside my favorite essential oil.  

Even the chippy striped cup that holds the scrub brush and dishwashing wand looks graceful in its functionality.  

Some might say that washing the dishes by hand is old fashioned.  But, it is a part of the process for me.  These tasks - preparing a meal and cleaning up after - are as rewarding to me as the food that is prepared.  These tasks are the way I tend to our home, the way I show love.  They feed my soul. 

Have you looked around and found beauty in the everyday, the ordinary?  It surrounds us - art hidden in plain sight.  It makes the way easier and life more abundant. 

Stop and see.....

Monday, September 11, 2017

Vintage Trucks & Angel Art

As September unfurls before us, I've been making some little changes around the cottage.  Our "look" or "style" is still evolving and my goal has been to eliminate clutter and fluff and only have pieces in our home that I truly love. This quote from William Morris pretty much sums it up for me - 
With this in mind, I have added a couple of pieces that I truly LOVE!  

The first is this print from Round Top Collection, painted by Texas artist, Roxanne Spradlin.  Now, I love every element of this piece of art - the blue vintage truck, the pumpkins, the barn.  And it is cutely edged with galvanized tin, making it so unique.  When I came across this, I ordered it right away and I really believe it will stay out past the current season.  Something about it just speaks right to my heart and pulls me into another world of days gone by. 

You can browse other pieces by Roxanne Spradlin and other artists at the Round Top Collection Gallery.  

The second piece of art I am crushing on is this beautiful angel painting by Lisa McReynolds, part of the "American Artists Curated for Kirkland's" line. I have been admiring angel and angel wing art for some time, so when I came across this, I put everything else in my arms back on the shelf and walked out with this one single item on my last Kirkland's visit.  I find myself just sitting and gazing at this on the living room wall, feeling peace and calm envelope me. 

You can check out more of this amazing artist's work at Kirkland's.

Neither one of these pieces cost more than $30, which just goes to prove to that you can find décor you love on a budget.  Their true value is in the warmth and welcome they provide and the way they make you feel in your own space.

Thank you for letting me share this little snippet of our home with you on our visit today.  If you were here, we would sit and sip a cup of coffee and talk about all our plans for pumpkin shopping and Fall decorating!  But, since you're not, please leave a comment and let me know you stopped by.  Or visit me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I'll look for you there!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Feathering the Nest

Three day weekends are a good thing.....a very good thing.  

And the changing of the seasons, Summer into Autumn, is also a very good thing.  There is already a different slant to the afternoon sun.  Mornings are refreshingly cooler and the evenings arrive a little earlier with each passing day.  Over the next few weeks we will be tumbling head first into Fall....and I wait with eager anticipation.  Even the summerlike afternoon heat this weekend couldn't dampen my autumnal spirit.  I dug around in the plastic bins in the storage building out back and brought in my first layer of seasonal décor....

I am craving a simpler, more natural look in our home this year.  Much less "stuff" made the cut and the results are exactly as I had hoped.  I am still tweaking as we live with it, but I will be sharing little snippets as the season progresses.  

As with most creatures, my urge to feather our nest grows very strong at this time of year.  Simple tasks like cleaning, laundry, even preparing a meal, take on an almost spiritual reverence in my role as homemaker.  Creating an atmosphere of comfort, warmth and welcome becomes the top priority.  Soon the season of snuggling will be upon us!  So, nest on, dear friends, nest on!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Introducing the Newest Member of the Family

I could not be more proud to announce the newest addition to our family! 

Youngest son, Sam, and his sweet wife, Savanna, welcomed Kenneth Grant Butler to the world on the morning of July 27th.  Weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces and
measuring 20-1/2 inches long, he is a perfect little bundle of pure joy.

He came about three weeks early because his momma was having some health issues.  But, the delivery was smooth and everyone is well and healthy now! 

It's difficult to put into words the crazy assortment of emotions I felt upon seeing my youngest hold a child of his own for the first time.  Let's just say my cup runneth over! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Procrastinating on a Project

Sitting here, listening to the thunder and the pounding rain against the windows and wishing I had made good on my plans to clean out my closet today.

You see, I've been contemplating emptying my closet for months.  And I mean empty it completely!  Then reload with way fewer items.  Some call it a capsule wardrobe - that is a pretty popular term these days.  Others might say it a 'minimalist approach' to dressing.  Either way, it is something that has been wiggling around in my mind for some time. 

And yet, I continue to put the project off.  Why the blazes is that?  It's definitely something I want to do - downsize and simplify my wardrobe! 

The main reason is the sheer size of the project.  It is daunting, to say the least.  Perhaps even overwhelming.  I know it is probably going to take several hours and create a huge mess if I do it properly.  So, I start thinking about the process and begin to lose sight of the end result - which is a simpler wardrobe and less time focused on deciding what to wear each day. 

Even though I busted my rear getting most of the regular weekend chores done yesterday so I could work on the closet today, I still managed to piddle around and avoid getting started. 

Shame on me!  Seriously, now that it is nearly supper time, I find myself still sitting on the sofa, watching Netflix with the hubs and listening to the rain. 

I guess I am just not quite ready, or motivated, to get off my butt and get the job done.  Or, maybe I just needed the downtime today.  Whichever, I still feel a bit of disappointment with myself for not just jumping in feet first. 

Do you ever plan a project and find yourself procrastinating like this?  Please, oh please, tell me I am not the only one.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Super Bowl Sunday - What's for Supper!?!?!?

One of our favorite things to do when there's a big game on TV is make up a variety of "finger foods" to snack on during the evening.  Tonight's Super Bowl was no different and we went for some of our favorites - buffalo wings, sausage balls, pigs-in-a-blanket, and, of course, one of our old standbys,  this yummy spinach dip.

It's a tradition to have this creamy dip at least once during the holidays, but we rarely have it during the year.  So, it's a real treat!  It's delicious and rich; and the basic recipe makes a ton - we snack on it for days!  My favorite way to enjoy it - scoop it up with "hint of salt" wheat thins crackers. 
Yum yum!!!

Most of you probably have this recipe down by memory.  But, in case you haven't tried it, I'm sharing it below.

Spinach Dip

16 ounce container of sour cream
1 cup mayo
3-4 finely diced green onions
1 small can water chestnuts, diced
1 small package frozen chopped spinach
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix (or spring vegetable soup mix - they both work great!)

Thaw spinach, squeeze and pat with paper towels to remove excess moisture.  In a medium size bowl, mix sour cream and mayo together.  Stir in vegetable soup mix, chopped water chestnuts and onion, mixing well.  Finally, add spinach, stirring well with fork to break it up and evenly distribute it throughout the dip. 

Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving with snack crackers of your choice. 

Now, to enjoy the last two minutes of the Super Bowl.  Looks like it's going to come down to the wire - great game!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Good Night, Moon!!!

Friday, the 13th.  Are you superstitious?  I'm not - but, it always makes me do a little double take to see a Friday, the 13th roll around on the calendar.

All in all, though, it was a pretty normal day....and a Friday, to boot.  There is no other feeling quite like finishing up a week at work and settling in at home on Friday evening - wallowing in the pleasure of knowing I don't have to get up for work in the morning.  It makes me want to snuggle on the sofa and stay up late.  Only problem is - I am generally too worn out from work to stay up late!  

There was the most fabulous full moon this week!  Did you see it?  Thank goodness it was a clear evening when it began its ascent in the eastern sky - a huge ball of molten silver.  The light it shed during the night was fiercely gentle, filtering through the woven blinds when we retired to bed and turned out the lamps.  When I awoke the next morning and took Pepper outside, it was still hanging out in the west.  Although it was beginning to settle down into the branches of the bare mesquite tree out front, and a haze had settled around it, it was magical.  Such beauty. 

It nearly took my breath away.

Just that few moments gazing at the setting moon helped to kickstart my day in a joyful way.  Such beauty is so often right under our noses - or maybe just above our heads.  We need only to stop and look, take it in, soak it up, revel in it. 

Breathe deeply....and keep it simple. 


Friday, January 13, 2017

WELCOME BACK - I've Got Something To Say...

Welcome, 2017!!!

And welcome back to all my Family & Friends at Janie's Porch!!!

I hope all of you had a peaceful and blessed Christmas.  Ours was lovely, even though I don't have a lot of photos to show for it.  You see, my main goal this year was to focus on just living it, get so caught up in the moments that I didn't even think of grabbing a camera and trying to document much of it.  And I was pretty successful at that, is evidenced by my lack of Christmas posts and photos here on the blog.  I did, however, manage to get a few shots of décor and such shared on Instagram and Facebook.  (It is so much easier to share little everyday snippets on those "faster" platforms.  Hint, hint....)  For example, here is a shot of our Christmas tree this year - one of my all time favorites! 

With the start of a new year, I have been stealing away bits of time, here and there, to reflect on what is important.  As always, the question comes to mind, "Do I want to continue to blog?" 

Since I started this blog back in 2009, "blogging" has truly evolved and become something so different.  With the development of other social platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, it has become a lot easier to share thoughts in a brief, immediate fashion.  Let's face it - it is sometimes challenging to find the time to sit down and write a full length blog post.  From what I see, it is much the same for many others. 

Some bloggers have gone to monetized or commercialized platforms.  What was once a labor of love for amateurs is now a burgeoning business and successful blogs are often filled with pop-up ads and links that make it difficult to actually read or navigate through posts.  Honestly, everything has gotten so slick, glossy and perfect.  It is getting more and more rare to come across a good old grassroots, homegrown kind of blog.  And that frustrates me.

There is nothing wrong with an attractive, well laid out and visually pleasing blog.  But, when the same ideas and styles are shared over and over, it gets hard to distinguish one blog from the next.  (And I know you know exactly what I am talking, don't sit there and shake your head.)

Mostly, I am making the point that I have not the time or the inclination to duplicate so much of what I see out in "blogland".  I am just a working gal who likes to write and take a few photos.  I am not particularly gifted at either, but I feel like I do have my moments. 

I also like to share my thoughts on this or that from time to time.  I love our little cottage and like showing you our home, sharing a tried and true recipe, or even reminiscing about childhood memories or a meaningful family tradition. 

In recent months, I have come to embrace the idea of SIMPLICITY more and more.  Whether it is in our home and furnishings, wardrobe, or day to day lifestyle, "simplicity" is becoming the key word by which much is measured. 

With that in mind, I have begun the shift in both this blog and my other social media outlets towards finding simplicity.  I love sitting here at the keyboard and organizing my thoughts, seeking and finding the right words to get those thoughts down in a way that will mean something not only to me, but to the one who might stumble across and read them. 

I don't expect to get a lot of readers - mostly my husband, my dad, maybe the kids and a few friends who like to keep up.  That is fine.  It's mostly for me anyway - a creative outlet and something I can look back on and feel a sense of accomplishment. 

As I have said many times before, I would love to keep up with everyone on Facebook and Instagram.  I find it so much easier to snap a photo or pop a quick post over there on a regular basis.  It is also a lot easier to interact on those platforms, so I can get to know everyone better.  Here are the links to follow along -

In the meantime, I hope you will still visit the original blog here.  I will still be posting because, like most things in life, Janie's Porch is still evolving.  I can promise you this, though - you will never get a pop up ad over here!

See you soon!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Our Fall Porch at the Cottage

Hello, friends!  

I hope your Monday went well.  Mine was busy, busy, busy at the office.  However, I felt blessed with an extra measure of energy today.  It's almost as if this time of year carries its own special magic for me, spurring me to get things done and kicking off a fresh round of nesting! 

And now, I am eager to share our Fall front porch with you!  

My greatest desire is to keep things SIMPLE this year.  

It has been my recent goal to simplify in many areas of my life.  This has spilled over into seasonal decorating, as well.  With our new paint color, everything looks so different - more vibrant and intense.  The details stand out starkly now, so a little goes a long way.  The purple mums, though still tightly budded at the store, looked full and healthy; so, they made the trip home with me.  The pumpkins are arriving in different colors and sizes, one or two each time we visit the supermarket.  My asparagus ferns are stunning this year, having done so well in the super-sized pots I found at Big Lots this Spring.  We will enjoy them through the first freeze and they provide beautiful greenery and texture as a backdrop for the more autumnal colors!  

~ My Camera ~ 
When I was home for the lunch hour, I popped the battery for my Canon camera onto the charger so I could play with it a bit this evening.  It's not a terribly fancy camera and I am still learning to use it.  (My husband surprised me with it a couple of years ago - and I mean it was a wonderful surprise, totally unexpected!  He took all the pocket change he had saved for the last few years over to the bank and had it counted - coming up with enough to purchase this camera out at Sam's - so generous!)  The model is a PowerShot SX510 HS, and I can transfer images directly from the camera to my tablet via our wifi network!  Imagine that, no pulling the SD card or searching for the USB cable!!!  I am still learning the settings, but I took all these images using the auto setting. 

Something NEW - If you hover over any of the post photos in the blog now, you will notice that I have added the ability to "pin" directly from this page to Pinterest.  
So, by all means, please PIN AWAY!!!

Now, that I have gotten my camera back out, I can't wait for some great lighting so I can get photos of some of our interior Fall decor!  

Now, there are a couple of things you can do for me.  First, I would love to know that you've stopped by - so, leave a comment for me and say "Hello"!  Then follow along with me on social media, by clicking on the following links ~ 

It's much simpler for me to find moments throughout the day to post on those platforms and you will see me there much more often.  So, I hope you will pop over and take a peek. 

Back soon for another visit on the porch! 


Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...