Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Memories Around the Piano....

Christmas is in the air!!!

Everyone is bringing out treasured ornaments, decorating the tree and creating lovely vignettes across Blog Land.  For me, just sitting and browsing through the photos is so inspiring, but....

I've been doing a little decorating of my own.  

This piano has been in my family since I was a child.  I am so thankful to have it in our home!  It holds many special memories and is very beautiful....the warm wood, lovely lines and keys yellowed with age now.

I dress it differently for the holidays from year to year.  And, since we don't have a fireplace, the piano top serves as a mantel, of sorts!  This year I have topped with an evergreen garland, wrapped in tiny white lights and a beaded garland in traditional red, green and gold.  

To add some varying height, I popped bright red and green flocked ornaments from Dollar Tree on crystal candlesticks and nestled more into little Depression Glass dessert dishes passed down from my grandmother.....

I added in some chunky gold paper mache elements......

And, of course, my red and gold clip-on birds sit among the branches of the garland!

But, my absolute favorite element is the vintage sheet music - "White Christmas".  Ed found this on Ebay several years ago and it is such a treasure.  There are times when I walk through the living room and am simply drawn to the piano, compelled to pull out the bench, take a seat.....and play this lovely tune. 

Doesn't it make you want to sit down and make music?  I know it makes me want to sit and down practice, practice, practice this piece so I can play it and have the family gather around and sing on Christmas Eve!

This is just one little corner of our living room and I promise to have more to show you  next time we visit!  Until then, wishing you many blessings......

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Magic of Lights.....

We are decked out in full holiday regalia here at our cozy little cottage!  

Over the weekend, Eddie Dale finished hanging the lights outside and set up our little herd of deer to graze on the lawn out front.  We were a bit worried because we've had these deer for several years and I hold my breath every year when he unpacks them and plugs them in.  Sure enough, the rear legs were out on one of the bucks, but he was able to jiggle the wires a bit (while I said a quick prayer) and now they're all working again.  At any rate, I think he did a great job!

For years, we have hung simple evergreen wreaths with red velvet bows on the windows.  This is a look that I think is timeless and classy, so I just stick with it!

This is the 8th year year for our multi-colored lights with the clear icicles - that has to be a record!!!  But, they are still cheerful and maybe a little old-fashioned - let's just say "vintage" and it works for me.

 I have been going out the last couple of nights and shooting photos, experimenting with different settings on the camera to try to capture the magical glow of the lights......I'm sure the neighbors must think I'm crazy!

But, I'm mesmerized each time I step out on the front porch!  If I have to go anywhere after dark, I circle the block a couple of times just to creep slowly by the house and look at it from the street.....

I will be sharing the decked halls inside the house in the next couple of days, so I hope you will come back and join me! 

I'm linking with At the Picket Fence  for Inspiration Friday today.

Thanks for stopping by our little porch.  Please leave a comment below and let me know you were here!!!

Keep Believing....

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Day After Thanksgiving....

The morning after, and I sit here with a cup of coffee, listening to the wind whip the leaves into a frenzy outside....

And I am so thankful for the day we spent yesterday, preparing for and enjoying our family. 

In a break with tradition, we had an early evening meal, as opposed to the usual midday feast.  I still prepared a turkey, cornbread dressing and the usual side dishes.  But, the pace was slower, a bit more relaxed, since we were dining late in the day.  There were moments of rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off, but, overall, it was very enjoyable. 

Bonnie drifted in earliest.  She was alone since Matt was working the store's super early holiday shopping schedule and the kids are with their dad's family for this holiday.  She was tired, so tired.  Wrapping up her first trimester, she feels a bone-deep exhaustion.  So, I put her in the back bedroom for a brief nap before it was time for her to prepare her contribution to the meal - green bean casserole.  She fell asleep quickly and I couldn't resist grabbing my camera......

Mother arrived right on time with her famous fruit salad.  Then Sam and Savanna....and Ben.  Daddy was missed, but he drove down to Austin early yesterday morning to spend the holiday with my sister and her family. 

We sat together and ate until we couldn't take another bite, talking and laughing the entire time.  Then, we cleared and cleaned and watched a little bit of a movie before heading back into the kitchen for Round Two with desserts. 

Bonnie and Ben had planned on heading out to WalMart at 8:00 pm to hit the Black Friday sales, but Bonnie was so sleepy and has a full day planned today.  So, they decided to pass.  Everyone said good night around 8:00 and headed home to sleep off the effects of the turkey dinner.  Poor Eddie had to be at the store this morning at 4:30, so he retired super early, too.  And, I was left alone to reflect on the day in the quiet of the evening.....

Lights on the Christmas tree and garlands in the living room....the holiday season officially underway.  And the peace and quiet of our cozy little living room is the ultimate blessing at the end of a long day. 

I crept quietly into the bedroom, where Eddie slept and the lights from our tabletop tree still twinkled.  I crawled into bed and laid down my head, thankful and content.

My goal for the remainder of this long weekend is to get the front porch decorated.  I must pack away all the Autumn decorations, putting away the crates and bins in the storage shed, and "dress" the entry and windows with greenery, new red ribbons and lights.  Eddie will hang the lights on the house on Sunday since he is off.  All the boxes out on the covered patio need to be put away, too, and perhaps this is the task I find most daunting.  I've been digging through them all week as I worked on the decor inside the house and it's rather a mess at the moment.  But, overall, the bulk of the work has been done to ready our cottage for the holidays.

Now we can simply sit back and enjoy the results!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and What I Wore.....

I've noticed a trend - bloggers posting about certain outfits they've put together, particularly on Wednesday.  It's called "What I Wore Wednesday", I think, and I'm sure it links up for a party somewhere.  There are a couple of these "fashionistas" who put together the cutest outfits and I look forward to their post every week!  I so wish I could pull myself, or at least an outfit, together the way they do!

Well, today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Around here, that means it was a day devoted to last minute picking up around the house, running to the store for forgotten items, baking, running to the store for another forgotten item.....You get the idea.  It wasn't exactly a day for getting all cutied up!  But, I wanted to play "What I Wore Wednesday".....

So, tongue in cheek, here's what I wore today.....

Mossy Oak screen printed long sleeve tee - from WalMart - circa 2007 - $9.96
Ancient Levi's - from Academy, I'm sure - circa too long ago to remember
Nike sneakers - from Academy, a couple of months ago - used the Hub's discount, so about $70

I felt pretty silly posing in front of the full length mirror and taking my own picture - that's for sure!  And there's no charge for that fantastic view of my messy guest room/home office, including the bed with no bedskirt (but that's another story.....).  

All in all, I stayed pretty comfortable all day in this relaxed ensemble.  Ran to WalMart and HEB....oh, and Dollar General when I realized I'd forgotten confectioner's sugar.  Baked the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing tomorrow, and a batch of oatmeal cookies.  Took a short little siesta with the dogs.  Then Eddie brought home chicken finger baskets from DQ and now the jeans are feeling a little restrictive....but, that's the price you pay for enjoying fine dining like DQ!!!

Now, on a more serious note......

I want to wish each and every one of you a most blessed Thanksgiving.  
May your heart be filled with gratitude and joy not only tomorrow, but every day.  

See y'all on Friday with our kick-off of the Christmas season!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Holiday Planning 101....Getting a Jump-Start

It feels like the calm before the storm.  Quiet Sunday morning; Eddie is already at work and the two little dogs are wrestling around in the floor at my feet....

But, the real action will get started this week! 

The holiday season is barreling down on us with gaining momentum.  Only three short days until Thanksgiving and its festivities.  I can't count today because most of my afternoon will be tied up with an open house at one of my listings.  Please say a prayer that this place gets sold soon!!!

I've done what I can in advance to try to allow for flexibility and enjoyment of the actual holidays ~

My menu for a simple, but traditional Thanksgiving dinner is planned and my shopping list prepared.  The kids have plans with their Dad's side of the family for the noon meal, so we are having an early supper at our home.  This will actually end up working to everyone's advantage.  I don't have to be up at the crack of dawn to start the turkey, so I might actually get to watch a bit of the Thanksgiving Day parades on TV!  On the menu ~ turkey, cornbread dressing, yams, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce and soft rolls.  I'm trying to talk my Mom into making her fruit salad.  And we are doing a variation on traditional desserts with pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate coca-cola cake.  My mouth is watering just typing this!

I went ahead and did the bulk of the interior Christmas decorating this past week.  Oh, I know there are lots "nay"sayers who feel the tree going up prior to Thanksgiving is a travesty.  But, honestly, if I hadn't done it early, I would be so stressed out trying to get it done this next Friday and Saturday.  (Especially when you consider the debacle of having a pre-lit tree with 2/3 of the lights not working and have to run to the store for a new one!  Honestly, that is not a boat I would like to have ended up in on black Friday...)  I'm still tweaking and finding things in crates that I'd forgotten about, but overall I love the way it is turning out this year.  Every year is a bit different and this year we had to find a new place for the tree since we've rearranged the living room a bit.  Although the pencil-slim tree I found isn't everyone's cup of tea, it is working very well for us.  And with as many ornaments as we have, it truly looks "loaded"!

Oh, Christmas Tree!!! - 2012

I've gotten a lot of our Christmas shopping done over the past month and wrapped a good portion of it yesterday.   I can remember years when I've been shut off in a bedroom on Christmas Eve, still wrapping presents, because I put things off until the last minute.  Let me tell you, that is not very enjoyable!  More like STRESSFUL!  So, I've tried to eliminate that stress this year.  And, even though Christmas giving is scaled back in our family (because we're all pretty much in the same boat financially and don't have lots of money to spend on expensive gifts), I was grateful for each gift I wrapped, no matter how small, because it was chosen with thought and love. 

But the most important thing I have been trying to do this year is prepare my heart for the wonder and joy of the season ~ taking the time to reflect on blessings and be thankful.  I can only do so much to eliminate some of the physical stress during this busy time of year.  But, if I can prepare my heart and maintain a sense of peace and thanksgiving, it will be easier to deal with unexpected stresses and outside factors when they arise.  Although this is something to work on throughout the year, it seems to be even more critical at this time of year when we are so bombarded with activities, expectations and emotions.   

I'm sure every one of you has some sort of plan for getting through the holidays with your sanity intact.  Everybody handles it differently and if you've got some tips to share, I hope you will leave a comment below.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Booger Attachment? No Way....Well, Maybe...

I must admit....I am not a "cat person".

It probably stems from the fact that I am terribly allergic to cats.  We discovered this the hard way when I was a child.  We went over to visit some cousins in Sweetwater, about 45 minutes away.  They had an adorable little kitten and I held it, loved on it....and the result was wheezing and eyes that looked like scrambled eggs!  Benadryl was not available over the counter in the mid-60's, so the only remedy on a Sunday afternoon was a cool, wet cloth across my eyes.  The swelling took quite some time to go down and it was pretty traumatic to a little kid!

All through the years, I've avoided any contact with cats.  Sure, I can be in a house where they live, but I know not to touch any surface the cat has been on and then touch my eyes!  

When we lived out in the country, there were some outside cats, still somewhat feral, hanging around.  We often fed them and enjoyed watching their antics out in the yard (and the fact they kept down the mice population).  All of these "barn cats" stemmed from one old tom - we called him Big Mo.  One of the kittens was named Charlie by Trayden and it stuck.  She came around quite a bit - not quite as feral as the others.  And she often brought her kittens with she did this cold night.

Charlie and kittens from two of her litters.  They sure were little cuties!

Let me introduce you to a cat I could really love, though.....'cause he's the cutest little stinker.  This is Tom Booger, or just Booger for short.  Yes, that's really what my daddy calls him.....

Booger and "his" chair.....
Whenever Daddy goes out of town, I have "Booger Duty".   I go over and feed him, make sure he has water.....scoop the poop and pee out of the litter box(es).  (Daddy recently went to two so he could scoop every other day, but I prefer to scoop every day - for obvious reasons!)

Over the last couple of weeks, Daddy went on a road trip to North Carolina,  So, for ten days or so, I went over to check on Booger every day; giving him his daily serving of tuna and making sure he had dry food and water; and, oh, did I mention I scooped out his litter box??? 

Let me tell you, he loves that tuna!!!  He stands on his hind legs and "paws" my rear while I'm getting it ready.  (Thank goodness he has no front claws!)  While I clean the litter box, he woofs down his food and then bounces back up in his chair.  He loves this chair and lays there, rubbing his head and face against the arms.  Then he makes a big display of "pawing" the back of the chair and taking swipes at me as I walk through the living room.  It's like a game of some sorts, I guess.

At any rate, I've gotten a bit attached to him on our little daily visits, even though I can't pet or cuddle with him due to my allergies.  Daddy is back home now, so this round of Booger Duty is over. But, that little guy is growing on me! 

How about you??? Cats?  Or dogs?  Or, maybe even both?!?!?  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bonnie Turns 30!!!

Today is my baby girl's 30th birthday!!!  

So hard to believe that it has been three decades since that precious little bundle of joy came into my life.  A couple of years ago, I wrote an emotional birthday post for her.  
You can read the story of Bonnie's birth here.  

There have been some big changes in Bonnie's life in the past year.  In January, she married Matt!  I shared some of their wedding celebration right here.  

And now even bigger changes are coming.....

Bonnie and Matt are expecting their first child together in May, 2013!!!   
Which means that I am going to be Mimi to yet another precious grandbaby! 

Little Baby Powell is just a blip on the radar in this photo, but he/she is there, thriving and growing, getting ready to be welcomed into our growing family.  

The announcement came to family and close friends at Ansleigh's sixth birthday party.  After the presents were all unwrapped, Bonnie handed Ansleigh one more little bag to open.  It only took a moment for Trayden and Ansleigh to put it together.  Talk about some excitement  - just look at the smile on that little girl's face!!!  None of us was expecting the announcement, so it was a wonderful surprise.  

Bonnie has been struggling with morning sickness and tired-to-the-bone exhaustion.  She laughs about her strange cravings with this baby.  For example, she was craving a hotdog smothered in sauerkraut.  So, she had not one, but two!  After the ensuing sickness, she was quickly cured of that particular craving.  But, the first trimester is nearly over and, hopefully, things will get a little better for her soon!  

Take a moment to wish Bonnie a very happy birthday today!  And keep her in your prayers on this stretch of the journey!

Wishing you a happy 30th birthday, Bonnie
And a year filled with abundant blessings, my precious girl!!!

Love you bunches.....


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Not a Day Wasted.....

What a beautiful Autumn day it has been here!  

You simply couldn't ask for a more beautiful day for everyone to get out and vote. I totally avoid politics here on Janie's Porch.  It's just not one of those things I want to get into, so I will leave political discussions for others.  But, I do appreciate that the weather was so delightful today, so no one around here can use that as an excuse for not getting out and doing their civic duty. Right???

Since Eddie Dale was off today, we played hooky.  You know "played hooky" as in totally threw everything else out the window and just winged our way through the day as if we had not a care in this world.  Every once in a while, you just have to do that!  All the stuff on the "to do" list will still be there the next know it will!!!

We decided to enjoy Taco Tuesday at Rosa's.....and it was delicious.  As always!  Then we hit WalMart and finished up some Christmas shopping and prowled around a bit.  (I know you do not want to hear this, but I'm going to tell you anyway that we are about 80% done with our scaled-back Christmas shopping. Woohoo!!!)  We stopped by the local Department of Public Safety office and he renewed his driver's license.  Not so much fun....but, we found some humor in the situation while we were there.  

Looks like someone had a mishap in the parking embarrassing!  And, oh, the irony.....

We even hit a couple of thrift stores.  You heard me right....I dragged good ol' Eddie Dale into the Goodwill and Salvation Army resale shops!  And, it was kinda fun, even though we found not one single thing we could not live without.....

When we got home, I headed over to Daddy's place to feed his cat, Tom Booger, and tend to the litter boxes (he has two.....and I think he pees and poops twice as much now.....).  As I was leaving, I noticed the sunlight spilling through the trees at the cemetery across the road.  For some odd reason, I was drawn if gravity pulled me.  I wound around the curving roads, around the different sections of the cemetery.....Garden of Prayer, Ten Commandments Sections I and II, the mausoleum, Field of Honor, Star of David Section....all divided by winding lanes, shady trees, low rock walls and manicured shrubs.  I turned off the radio in the car and rolled the window down.  I stopped and sat......listening to the quiet.  It didn't feel macabre....or weird.....

It just felt so peaceful.  The slant of the sun was incredible, creating deep shadows and contrasts.  And, I felt incredibly alive and blessed....somehow, refocused.

Now, I am home and my chef/husband is cooking away in the kitchen.  Homemade salisbury steak with mushrooms is what's for dinner tonight, dear friends. 

What a fantastic day it has been.  I'm so thankful that we were able to take the day off, just to be together and boot out the stresses of work and the outside world.  And I am thankful for a few minutes, sitting in a car in a cemetery, to put the world into perspective.  It was NOT a wasted, not at all!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Under a Starry Sky.....

Last night, I stood in the dark, under an inky blue sky, shimmering with stars.  
The warm afternoon had turned to cool twilight, the air carrying just the faintest hint of a chill.  
The waning moon rose brightly in the east.

Looking up, I breathed deeply and listened to the quiet and familiar sounds of the neighborhood.....
a dog barking, the slam of a car door down the street, 
the hum of traffic a few blocks away.  

And I felt blessed.  

What better way to end the day than soaking up the beauty of God's creation around us?
Even in the darkness, there is beauty and peace. 

Keep your eyes and heart open.....
The blessing is there.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autumn Top Ten

Now that the flurry of activity around Halloween is past, I am totally focused on enjoying Autumn, the season of harvest and thanksgiving.  

With the stores already getting all decked out for Christmas, it's easy to be lured into skipping ahead.  Heck, I'm struggling with wanting to bust out the red & green myself.  But, the period leading up to Thanksgiving is so often overlooked and really deserves its own accolades.

So, I sat down, put pen to paper and composed a quick "Autumn Top Ten".....although, not really in any particular order, just how they popped into my head..  Here we go.....

~The warmth of pulling on my favorite sweater for the first time of the season. 

~Pumpkins on porches. 

~Windows open to let the house cool down after warm Indian Summer afternoons. 

~Shades of red, orange and gold creeping into the trees. 

~Leaves skittering down the street and across the lawn in the breeze. 

~Crisp mornings and cool evenings with the smell of woodsmoke from fireplaces. 

~Pumpkin flavors (coffee) and scents (candles). 

~Scarves with everything!

~Chrysanthemums in full bloom. 

~Saturday and Sunday afternoon's football games on tv - resulting in the most delightful naps. 

This is a season without a lot of commercial fanfare.  No gift giving.  No cards exchanged.  No movies, at least that I can think of offhand.  But, it is the season of great blessings and discovering Joy in the small things, particularly the beauty of nature.  

Don't let the glitzier holidays steal your zeal for the simpler celebration of harvest.  Take a moment to share one of your favorite things about Autumn in the comments below.  I love hearing from you!

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