Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come and Sit for a Bit.....

Eddie Dale and I worked in the front yard this morning.....together, of course.   He edges and weed-eats; I mow and sweep.  We love teaming up!

Hard to believe that tomorrow is June 1st!  

Welcome, Summer!
We think you're looking mighty fine around here.....

The new rose bushes, pink and red, are blooming.  The lantana is up and showing its vibrant hues of orange and red.  The petunias are still going like gangbusters.  The mums are gigantic - some have already bloomed and been pinched back once.  And the grass has greened up - thanks in large part to the fact that we have a water well and can water often.

I wish each of you, dear Friends, could stop by for a visit and glass of iced tea with me!!! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Apricot Madness!!!

My dad has a bumper crop of apricots on his little tree this year!  He called yesterday morning and said "C'mon over and get after it!!!", so Ben and I headed over in the heat of the afternoon to help harvest these sweet tastin' little fruits.

It's amazing how many apricots awaited us....and this is after he (and some of his neighbors) had already started raiding the stores!

In the 100+ degree heat, we picked apricots until we were soaked with sweat.....loading up half a dozen plastic shopping bags in the process.  While we picked, we snacked.....yummy!  Juicy apricots, warm from the sun and straight off the tree!

Since it seems that the whole bunch ripens at the same time, and there is simply no way to consume that many apricots before they start going bad, I quickly googled the best freezing method and went to work.

 After rinsing the fruit in cool water and allowing it air-dry, I simply sliced each apricot in half and removed the pit.....super easy.  For each extra large mixing bowl of fruit, I added about 1/8 cup of fresh lemon juice and roughly 1/4 cup of sugar.  Stirred it well and then scooped it into gallon-size ziplocking freezer bags.

 I was careful not to overfill the bags so I could get the fruit into a somewhat flat layer, spread out across the entire bag.  To remove all the excess air from the bag prior to sealing, I zipped it most of the way and used a straw to "suck out" the extra air.  This created these nice, easy-to-store bags for the freezer.  (And we ended up with four gallon bags of apricots!)

Hopefully, this will allow us to enjoy the apricots for some time to come.  Even if they get a little mushy as they thaw, they will be great in some recipes which I googled.  A couple that I particularly want to try are apricot salsa and, of course, apricot cobbler. 

We also want to have some fresh fruit to snack on, so I kept one container of washed fruit in the fridge so we can easily grab one on the go.  (Keeping the ripe fruit in the fridge will definitely prolong the life of it.  Otherwise, those little suckers can over-ripen and go to mush in a matter of hours!)

This little apricot-picking adventure was a terrific kick-off to the Summer, when we really get to enjoy the bounty of Nature's fresh fruits and veggies.  I can't wait for Daddy's tomatoes to start coming in!!!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

What's More American Than Baseball?!?!?

Eddie Dale and I enjoyed a bit of a mini-vacation today!  This is where we went.  Do you recognize it?

My broker is a huge Texas Rangers fan, so he treated all of us (and our significant others) to a day at The Ballpark in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers!  He got two rows of seats in the "All You Can Eat" section - all we had to do was get there!

So, we headed out this morning for the 2-1/2 hour drive.  Really just a hop,skip and jump here in the great big ol' Lone Star State!  We arrived well before 2:05 game time and had time to explore and load up at the buffet......

Speaking of the buffet, the "all you can eat" offers hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and sodas - all standard game fare.  I was impressed that the Rangers organization kept a seemingly endless supply of these ballpark staples hot and ready.  Of course, by the time I had consumed nachos and a chicken sandwich, the food was starting to look a little less appealing.  Actually, it really is not all that appealing before you start eating......probably the "appeal" lies in the fact that it's included in your ticket price!  By the 7th inning, when I went to refill my soda, the sight of people piling their plates up with food was definitely very unappetizing.....

But, I digress.....back to the game!  We watched the players warm up and stretch.  For some of them, this means having someone else actually stretch them.....

And, although we were seated in a canopied area beneath the giant tv screens, we enjoyed the graphics in the stadium across the way.  This is for you, Eddie Dale......I know it thrilled you to see that your employer, Academy Sports + Outdoors, is the sporting goods retailer.....

of the.....

Texas Rangers!

And, there you are.....enjoying the game (not to mention the free hot dogs!).  Have I mentioned how thankful we were to be seated in a shaded area on this very sunny day????

We did get to see a few Rangers home runs and that is a thrilling experience!  They set off fireworks explosions from behind the lights at the top of the stadium and play the swelling score of "The Natural" actually gave me goosebumps. 

The Ballpark is an awesome structure and it was packed today!  Sold out game attendance was 46,637....and I think half of them were in line to "run the bases" after the game!  From what I understand, it can take several hours when they open the field up for fans to run the bases....and the lines snaked around and around......thousands upon thousands of people waiting to set foot on Ranger Field! 

By 5:30, we were on the road, headed west towards home.  But, I have to show you what we passed as we went through Fort Worth.....

Holy cow!!!  Is that a......BOAT?!?!?!  Driving down I-30?!?!? 

Yep, it sure was!  You just never know what you're going to see.....

All in all, it was wonderful way to spend part of our Memorial Day weekend - enjoying a great American past time.....

But, now that the game is over, my focus turns to remembering the real reason for this holiday weekend....honoring those men and women who have died in service to this great country.  While we all enjoy the three-day weekend and the kick-off of Summer activities, it's important to give thanks and respect to those who gave their all to keep us safe and free!

Wishing you a terrific holiday tomorrow.  Would love to hear what you have planned!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Camera Play with the Birthday Boy

Yesterday was my son's birthday - Ben is 23 years old!  Where did the time fly?!?!? 

It was also the event of a solar eclipse.  While Eddie Dale was out on the patio, grilling some steaks and shrimp for the birthday boy's dinner, Ben and I headed out front for some photos in the setting, and eclipsing, sun.

The sunlight was absolutely golden, popping through the trees like a soft spotlight.  While we were playing around, getting some shots to work on my new header, Ben noticed my shadow against the house and snapped this shot......

Wow!  I grabbed the camera from him and told him to pose......and he did.  Here he is saluting the eclipse.....
It was a fun, lighthearted moment with my son.....who is truly a grown man now.  Love you, Benjamin Ross!

Feeling thankful for moments like these......

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Roasting and Reflecting.....

Yesterday was one of those days that just feels like SUMMER!  Brilliant blue and sunny skies; temp hovering around 90; barely a breeze stirring......

Eddie Dale didn't have to be at work until 2:00 in the afternoon, so he decided to do a little yard work out back about mid-morning.  Since said work involved not one, but two, chainsaws.....yours truly decided to hang around out back while he was know, just in case......'cause he really makes me nervous sometimes......just sayin'......(Sorry, sweetie!)

About 11:00, I decided I was through with sitting under the covered patio and drinking coffee.  I wanted to be out in that sunshine!  I wanted to feel it on my have a little bit of that "sun-kissed glow"! 

So, I dragged out a plastic fold-up lounger, a couple of old bath towels (so my sweaty self wouldn't stick to the plastic), a squirt bottle of water, some long-forgotten Hawaiian Tropic oil from a basket at the back of the bathroom closet (wonder how many years old that stuff was?!?!?), and my IPhone and earbuds.  I even braved putting on a swimsuit!

Y'all, I set up my own "pretend beach", sans water and palm trees, in the middle of the backyard and sunbathed for a full hour!!!   (Carefully timing it, of course - 15 minutes front, 15 minutes back, 15 minutes each side - and that takes some real maneuvering on the sides, folks, because you want to be "even"!)

Now, before everybody starts going all nuts about me "sunbathing", let me just say.....I don't do it often.  I am well aware of the risks of spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen.  But, golly!!gosh!!darn!!, as I lay there all slathered up with that coconut scented oil (and sweating like a pig!), it was if I was transported back in time......

To a time when I was just barely a teenager, laying out on those old webbed lawn chairs in the backyard,  wishing we had a pool.  Flashback to the early 70's......putting good ol' "monkey blood" into a bottle of Johnson's baby oil when we didn't have tanning oil (well, it did make our skin look sort of pink) and checking those tan lines every 15 minutes.  C'mon....didn't you do it, too?  Didn't we all do it????  

To add to the nostalgia, my music shuffle landed on The Carpenters' "Goodbye to Love".....then "Close to You".....and, oh, the most wonderful feelings and memories just swept over me, nearly overwhelming in their clarity.  I went browsing through the music index, searching for every Carpenters' song I could find!  Isn't it funny how a song can take you back that way?  I fondly recalled spending hours on end in my bedroom, spinning 45's, and The Carpenters were always one of my favorites.

My mind just wandered, pretty randomly.......I remembered my favorite "baby doll" swimsuit from about 1973 - pink & white gingham with eyelet trim and the fact that I felt compelled to "fill out" the top with tissue once when we went to the swimming pool.  You see, I had an awful crush on one of the more mature lifeguards and wanted to appear more mature myself.  (Not a good idea....when toilet paper gets wet, it breaks down and floats out.  Oh, I can laugh about

My 10th birthday party, a simple affair hosted for a few friends at our home one afternoon.  That stands out in my mind because I actually had a party AND a cake that was made by someone other than my mother.  A lady who did creative (for that time) cakes out of her own kitchen made a sheet cake and decorated it to match the napkins we had found.....a field of little purple and maroon heart-shaped flowers.  Afterwards, running down the sidewalk to meet my dad when he got home from work to show him my new Carpenters' album (which he, of course, knew about since it was from him and Mom) because I was just busting at the seams with excitement.

My thoughts just jumped all over like that while I lay there, soaking up the sun.  One memory would come to mind....then another.....and more than anything, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude for having had so many good times to look back upon.

Okay, so's you don't worry, I didn't blister out there even though I didn't wear sunscreen.  And even though I just about felt like I was going to suffer heat stroke before I finally broke down and came into the house, I thoroughly enjoyed that time out there, just remembering.......grabbing hold of a memory from here and there, pulling it out and reliving it in my mind.......

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, I recently added Playlist to my blog, just beneath the current post.  Since I'm so re-loving The Carpenters, I have prepared a special playlist to share for the next few days.  My hope is that I will be able to update the music from time to time, to fit the posts or the, bear with me and explore the different tracks on the player.  Each song is selected purposefully......and one I really want to share with you.  Stay and enjoy for a little while!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wardrobe Faux Pas....or Not?

Everybody in the family headed out to see Ansleigh "graduate" from preschool yesterday evening.  We were all so proud of her and enjoyed the program (mostly because it wasn't overly long and the participants didn't get bored and start wiggling too much.....and because it was pretty precious and the kids were so dang cute!).
This little missy is done with Preschool.....moving on up to Kindergarden!
And we had a wardrobe "malfunction", "clash", "coincidence", or, perhaps, "faux pas"....occur!

Remember when I mentioned a couple of days ago that my mom, my daughter and I all bought the same sandals at Target? (Read about it HERE....)

Bonnie (yes, she has a Bible verse tat on her foot and tiny footprints around her ankle.....she is fearless about her faith that way!)

Mom enjoying punch and cookies after the program.....and rocking her new sandals!
Actually, we knew this might happen.  Should have been expecting it.....

Well, maybe I was anticipating it.....because I was the only one who didn't wear them new shoes last night! 

Honestly, I don't think it truly bothered either one of them too much to have on the same shoes.  Although, I think Bonnie was a tad bit more conscious of it than Mom....and Bonnie is usually one of those people who doesn't give a flip what others think.  So, somehow, I found it amusing enough to try to snap a photo of their feet together.  Not happening!!!  When Bonnie realized I had the camera turned on, she kept moving away from her Nanny - I guess so I couldn't get a photo of them side by side....

Oh, well, it was bound to happen.

Smiling at the little things that happen daily........

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Tribute to Mother's Day

Mother's Day.....

A day set aside to celebrate honor the one who gave birth to and raised us, nurtured us along on life's journey......
My Mother - Becky
And, just as importantly, if you are a Mother, to reflect on the many vast and varied blessings of having a child......or, in my case, three!  (Triple the kids, triple the fun......or something along those lines.)

Me and my children - Benjamin, Bonnie & Samuel (from left)

And, hey, it's a great excuse to spend time with Family! (As if we need one around here....)

My daughter and grandkids picked up Mom and me this morning have lunch together.  Nothing fancy, a rather "spur of the moment" outing to Taco Bueno.  But, aren't those usually some of the best times?!?!?   No advance planning and fuss - just grab your bag and go......

After eating, we had a little time to kill, so we went over to Target.  Did a lot of browsing.....some chasing kids.....and Bonnie actually added to her work wardrobe a bit with some cute selections from the clearance rack. 

Funny thing......I found these darling little sandals in "pewter", which is better than the new black for summer, don't you think?  Mom loved them - so we found them in her size.  Bonnie loved them - so we also found them in her size.  There will be three generations sporting this look around here this summer!  Gotta love it!!!
My hubby warned me not to post this as I might attract a stalker with a foot fetish!

Eddie Dale was thoughtful for Mother's Day, as he always is.  Beautiful red roses, which definitely wanted to nest in a goblet instead of a vase today.  And cards from the kids......I am feeling all loved and wrapped with XO's and XO's!

And, speaking of the kids, this Momma has one of her little birds back in the nest - but, only for a few days.  Ben is staying here while he looks for a new apartment.  We are searching for a one-bedroom unit here in town for his first venture into the world of "no roommates" and "flying solo".  Since he will be 23 years old next week, I am truly attempting not to "baby" him while he is here!  But, good-golly-gosh, it's hard not to treat him like a kid, even though he certainly acts like an adult......

I guess we moms will always view our children as "our babies", no matter how old they get!!!  I am going to enjoy having "Benjaturtle" sleeping safely and soundly under our roof for a few nights. 

In reflection, I have been so greatly blessed by my children.  Being a Mother is probably the greatest accomplishment of my life.  I was a stay-at-home mom for a lot of years - twelve, in fact - and I was good at it!  I believe that the time and effort spent "raising" my children was valuable and productive for both them and me. 

Thank you, Lord, for bringing Bonnie, Ben and Sam into my life and allowing me to be their MOM!  And thank you for one of my very best friends, my MOM! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Daily Plan

When I got an IPhone, just about a year ago, I started downloading various apps - sparingly.  I have never paid for an app, selecting only those that are free.  I'm cheap that way!  But, there is one in particular that I have really enjoyed.

It is the YouVersion app, which allows me to access The Bible on my phone.  You can access it online HERE.

It has many features that I really like:
  • I can search by key word or phrase for specific passages. 
  • There are Bible reading plans to help you read daily.  These include devotional content, too.  I have tried a few of them and am currently working through a 40 day program, "Seeds of Spring", which I am really enjoying.  It is a little more "meaty" than some of the plans I have tried.  I receive automatic little reminders to check out the daily scriptures and devotions so I can stay on track.
  • Different translations are available, so I can try them out and see which ones are the easiest for me to follow along with and understand. 

The last time I got a new Bible was probably about 24, maybe 25, years ago.  I received a beautiful, deep red,  leather-bound Ryrie Study Bible, in the New American Standard translation.  It has my name (well, former married name, but this doesn't bother me....) in beautiful gold script on the lower right corner.  There is something about being able to leaf through the thin, gold-edged pages that is more tangible than reading scriptures on a small phone screen.  Plus, I am a "marker".....I seem to have favored pink highlighters through the years.  There are various notes and dates in the margins.  I like that looking back through it is like looking at a script of my life.....

Lately, I have been trying out different translations.  After reading Ann Voskamp's book, "1,000 Gifts", I am really drawn to the Amplified Bible.  I think that perhaps I will invest in a new printed version!  I think it's about time.

Through the years, I have tried many methods of studying scripture and prayer journaling.  I have gone so far as to have a 6x9 3-ring binder that had several different tabs for things such as prayer requests, recording favorite scriptures, etc.....

But, often times, I found that all my time was spent "organizing" my prayers and Bible study - not actually "doing" it.  So, I went to the other extreme - not writing anything down, just winging it.  As you can guess, that didn't work so well.  I suppose I am just not mature enough to keep up the daily routine, but I found that issues I wanted to commit to pray over were falling between the cracks simply because I couldn't remember everything.  I am naturally a list maker, so I needed to write things down to jog my memory.

Now, what is working for me is a small notebook (with pretty flowers and pink pages, a bargain at the Dollar General) to keep up with prayer requests and jot down a scripture or a quote from a devotional that speaks to me that particular day.  I also have a spiral notebook for listing "gifts".  I keep these, along with my Bible, in a basket on the bedside table, so I don't have to go far or search for it at the end of the day.

And, yes, I am an "end of day" person.....I find that I am able to keep the daily routine up better if I do it before retiring in the evenings instead of rising early to have my "quiet time".  Quite simply, my early morning "quiet time" involves a cup of coffee on the back porch, just soaking up birdsong and watching the dogs do their business - it is sort of like a wake up time for me, but it gives me a sense of peace to start off the day.

Whatever it is that you do to grow spiritually, find something works for YOU!  No two people are the same.  But, I have no doubt that God will lay it on our hearts to draw near to Him in a way that works for us, individually.  Experiment with will find what works for you!  And then just stick with it!

Be blessed today......

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sporting It Short for Summer

Yesterday was one of those "bad hair days".....bad enough that I decided to scoot my rear in and get a haircut pronto! 

And I am really thankful that I did.  I have been going to the local Super Cuts for nearly 14 years and a wonderful stylist, Kippy, has been cutting my hair all that time.  Even when I lived 260 miles away for a period of time in there, I would regularly return to her when I was in town for her services.  She is absolutely THE BEST!!!

As I was waiting my turn, I could hear chatter from her area.  And me and my big ears couldn't help but overhear that she was moving.  When she called my name and I approached her, I immediately asked her if it was true.  Was she leaving???

It is true.  She is pulling up stakes and moving to the Austin area to be nearer to her daughter.  And I am bereft.....

She "knows" my hair!  She knows where the cowlicks are; she knows how it lays here and there; she understands when I describe something new I want to do.....she just "knows".....

And she has listened through the years....a lot.  They say that a woman's hair stylist knows all her secrets.  Well, maybe not secrets, but as you chat and visit you get to know a person quite well.  Sometimes, your stylist is one of your closest confidants.  And I will miss our visits and catching up as she snips away at my hair. 

She spent extra time with me yesterday, carefully describing everything she was doing so I could point out little details to the next stylist who has to cut my hair.  We took my style much shorter since it is warmer now and I traditionally go shorter and sassier in the summer months. 

And, when it was over, we hugged and I told her what a blessing she has been to me through the years and wished her luck and much happiness in her new adventure.  She promised to keep in touch and let me know where she settles to work in Austin......

Who knows?  Maybe I will need a road trip to Austin in about 5 weeks!!!

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&...