Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Good Morning

Bran muffins....something that we love for breakfast. I make them pretty healthy using bran, buttermilk, splenda brown sugar, assorted dried fruits, and chopped walnuts. They are chocked full of good things. This morning they are full of dried apricots, raisins, and walnuts.

 I just bought a new item for my kitchen...a silicone muffin pan.  do you know why I bought it? It's red and I love red accents in the kitchen. Not too crazy about it. It's floppy when full of batter and after I almost dropped it, I decided that (for me) the metal ones that I have used for many years will do for me. 
 I print a lot of recipes from the internet and I love to get recipes from blogger friends. I know that those are good ones.....just like the recipes from Church groups. I have several little Church cookbooks that I use over and over again. I keep the recipes that I print off in a plastic baggie handy in my kitchen. As I try them, I write some remarks about the recipe and toss the ones that aren't good.
 Here they are...all ready to enjoy. I am just waiting a little while for them to cool. I love a muffin like these with a cup of tea and some fruit for breakfast.

I thought yesterday, while shopping for produce, that I love this time of year. Everything is fresh and ripening. I bought strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, a pineapple, and blueberries. Sounds like a fruit salad. We are going to a birthday party soon, and I spied a melamine chartreuse bowl on the shelf for $1. I put it in the cart. When I got to the checkout, the bagger put some of the fruit in the bowl and said, "There I made you a fruit salad" The bowl will hold a pasta salad, however. It's just the right size and I can leave it there and not bother bringing it home.

I hear a plane flying low over our house this morning. We hear and see it each year. I think that they are dusting the crops. Reminds me of years ago when they sprayed for mosquitoes. We would hear the truck coming and make a dash and shut all the windows, so we wouldn't smell it inside. I can remember kids following the truck on their bicycles. When I think about the hazards in that....I wonder what is happening to their bodies now years later... as a result of that spray.

I'm planning a day in the garden. There are several things that I want to do. First I'm taking some pictures of flowers on the woods border. There aren't too many flowers there now. I sprinkled seed in the fall, but with our lawn mower mowing so close, I don't think that they had a chance to grow, but there are a few a little ways back that are blooming. 
I also want to cut down the spikes of the hosta flowers. I don't like them once they loose their flowers. I have a lot of hostas, so that will probably be my only project out there.

We're going to have fried chicken today. When I have buttermilk in the house, fried chicken is always on the menu. Probably mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh green beans, salad and fruit for dessert will be our meal. 

Can you believe that tomorrow is August already? Where did the summer go? My daughter in law sent an email with Merry Christmas as the subject. My grand daughter, Xoie and her family, will be here for one weekend in Dec. and Karen wanted to get our plans made early so we could all see them. 

Have a nice day,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where I'm From
I am from washing hung on the line and Tide, from Ipana toothpaste, and Spic and Span.
I am from Sunset Park, hot sunny days and little sprigs called trees.
I'm from the backyard garden... from tire swings and sandboxes and puppy dogs.
I am from homemade cookies, 12 inch tv's, and the Kane County Fair.
I'm from a stay at home Mom and a hard working Dad.
I'm from summer evenings and holly at the street corner and made up games in winter.
I'm from FDR and women's lib beginning and the polio vaccine..
I am from cooking from scratch, and a 5 dollar bill on the 4th of July.
I'm from a dog named Bonnie and a jar of salamanders.
I'm from Sundays around the piano with Grandma and Sunday suppers of fritters.
I'm from family holidays and huge turkeys, Aunts and Uncles who visited and fun with cousins.
I'm from Saturday night board games, baby sitting jobs and a job at the corner drug store.
I'm from women in the family who kept things going during the war.... Home made clothes and poodle skirts.
I'm from piano music, Church choir and meetings with the minister in the bell tower for religious training.
I'm from Elgin... city of watches, Saturday movies, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
I am from lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, fudge and a mother who made them.
I am from thunderstorms in the summer and going to the basement.
I'm from trips to Chicago on the "L" and Christmas shopping in August.
I am from dollar day sales... new school clothes, peeking at hidden Christmas presents.
I'm from new lawns, big gardens, red wagon full of tomatoes for sale.
I'm from Circus trains in the middle of the night.... Wing park swimming pool... new bike.
I am from front porch stoops with yellow chairs. Brown awnings and a big fan.
I'm from a baby brother when I was 13....rocking him to sleep, so I could play with friends.
I'm from good grades, small allowances and a first paycheck....a black pottery piggy bank.
I'm a combination of all who are related to me.
I'm from all who have ever loved me .I'm from the 50's.... lots of girl friends and a boy or two.
I'm a best friend to many and a loving Mom and Wife.
It's who I am.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Tiniest Lily

This is the tiniest lily in my yard. A Blackberry Lily brought from Washington DC. We went to visit Mount Vernon while I was in DC years ago and I saw this little lily growing there. As we were leaving, I noticed that you could buy a little plant. I bought it and wrapped it in a wet paper towel and then in a plastic baggy for the trip back to Illinois. It was planted in my garden and thrived there. When I was moving, this was one of the plants that I wanted to bring with me. So, now it grows here in Byron. I wait for it every year. Such a tiny bloom that later on will have a seed pod that resembles a blackberry. Shiny cluster of black seeds. I like to bring this little flower in for a tiny bouquet. 

I need to go to the grocery today. It won't be a chore because the weather is perfect. I don't know how most feel about this summer, but I am loving it. Cool mornings to get things done in the garden and warmer afternoons...but not hot and humid. 

I better get going....I may come back later.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Heaven is For Real

We just watched the movie, "Heaven is for Real." We really enjoyed it and know that it has a big audience. We all wonder about Heaven...but we will not know until the end. Except for certain people who claim to have seen it in an experience where they have died for a moment on the operating table or some other life-death experience. I have to say that I am always a bit skeptical, but this movie made me a little less. A small boy of four, has an experience that he nonchalantly mentions, after surviving a ruptured appendix. His story is pretty convincing, because he tells things that he could never have known. Telling things just matter of fact as he goes through his normal days. His revelations astound his preacher father.This film opens the door to the reality of heaven and the love of God. Through the eyes of this tiny boy we catch a glimpse of our God who promises an eternal home.  

I remember back years and years ago, my mother had a partial gastrectomy.She was in surgery for a long time. As she was coming to...she spoke of the light, that so many claim to have seen. We thought it must have been due to the anesthetic. She claimed to have had a spiritual experience until she passed away years later.

I don't know what you think will happen after your death. My faith is simple. I know that there is a home in Heaven waiting for me. It's something that guides me in everything I do. I think that God directs my life. When I have positive thoughts...that's God to me. When I do something good for someone...that's God's influence working. When I feel a presence in Church...God is there. It gives me comfort in my living and I have no fear of death.

The cast of characters really make this movie believable. The little boy, who plays the part of Colton...will just melt your heart. We enjoyed it and Joe read the book in an afternoon. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Thoughts and Brandon's Birthday

Sometimes our Church could use a little something. Something to make it more interesting. Oh, my....hope I don't offend anyone. Our music program needs something...and last night it got it. We had a small choir made up of just a few men from our Church. They brought applause from our very quiet Catholic Church. Sometimes we have music that is so quiet and then the congregation is quiet too. Everyone afraid to make a mistake and sing the wrong note.....and be heard by everyone. With this big voice choir of five men...there was none of that. The congregation sang with gusto. Leaving the Church, I told Father...."That was a rousing Mass tonight." I hope that many people will comment to him, so that our music changes. I told Joe on the way home, "I feel like I've been to Church."

We are home today, waiting for grandson Brandon to come by and pick up his birthday present. He turned 19 yesterday and it's hard for me to believe that he is that old. I came into this family when he was about 7 yrs old. His grandma had died just a short time before and here I was someone new in his grandpa's life. Would I be accepted? I had no worries when it came to Brandon. I wouldn't think of trying to take his grandma's place, but as a little boy...he was so ready for another grandma type woman. I played with him...everything from tossing a ball to playing board games. Once in a while he would cheat a little, but I never let him get away with that. I never believed in letting kids win games. When we played checkers, I often took a long time to decide. He said, "Sometimes you think too much." That comment has stuck. Even his grandpa Joe says that to me...."Balisha, you think too much." Well the time has flown by and he's a young adult, busy with his life and ready to start his 2nd year in college. He'll be here soon, so I had better get going.
Have a nice evening,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Nice Day and A Visit With Elizabeth

Yesterday was a perfect day. It started out at the pool...where we had it almost to ourselves. At one point, I was in the water all alone. Joe was using the hot tub and I was still in the pool. This is helping his legs and my arthritis. We mostly exercise in the water. During the summer, they give a lot of lessons and we enjoy watching the little kid's progress each week.

We stopped at McDonald's for a quick lunch, because of Joe's appointments and my plans for the afternoon. Instead of eating at the restaurant we went to East Park, by the Rock River,  and ate while watching a pelican fishing. There are usually 30 or so pelicans there, but yesterday only one lonely bird. They are huge birds and we love to watch them.

When I got home, it was time to get ready to go to Elizabeth's for our visit. She lives just up the road from us with her two West Highland Terriers. She met me at the door and I waited a while before she let the dogs in from outside. They get too excited when I visit...they need a cooling down period :) She loved the lily that I took her from my garden. We sat next to the fireplace with a dog in each lap. Bello and Foxy are such cute dogs. Taking care of her pups keeps Elizabeth going. She told me about the places she'd been since I was last there. A concert at Anderson Gardens, city market in Rockford, shopping excursions....this lady gets around. She is in a water aerobics class at the pool we go to. Several times a week she is enjoying the water and hot tub. We have our Church in common, so conversation always about that. She asked if I wanted we went to the table by the window and had tea and an almond coffee cake. I had taken Ernestine's zucchini bread...and we shared that. She asked about the recipe and I told her. After we cleaned up the table, we went back to our chairs and settled in for more conversation. I mentioned that I was going to be making some favors for bingo prizes..for the nursing home in town. Little Manger scenes that are easy to do, some Christmas signs for doorknobs, and some felt doves for Christmas trees. As I was explaining about these...she offered to help me. So, the next time we meet, maybe she'll come to my house and we can do these together. She is one of the ladies who makes prayer shawls for our Church, so in her close to 90 age.... she is pretty active.

It was time to leave and we went to the door and said our goodbyes. As I left her driveway, I thought to myself...she's keeping up on everything current from ipads, to world events, to Mass everyday, to swimming at the pool, and still loving to shop for clothes, and watering her plants. She's an inspiration to me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wilted Lettuce

 I grew a romaine type lettuce this year. I think the name was Green Towers. I picked the leaves as they grew and ate these many times since spring. Then I let it grow into bunches. Yesterday, I picked 4 bunches of this delicious lettuce. There were no holes in the limp, squishy, leaves underneath. Just perfect beautiful heads of crispy lettuce. As I picked them, I had a plan in mind. My lunch would be a wilted lettuce salad. Here's how I made it:
After washing and spinning the water out I put the bowl back in the fridge to keep it cold and crisp while I fried some bacon. After the bacon was done, I pulled it out of the pan and kept some of the bacon grease in the iron skillet. I added a small chopped onion to the pan along with 1/4c cider vinegar, 1/4c water, 4 tsp sugar, salt and pepper. I cooked this mixture for a little while... whisking while it cooked. Then I assembled the salad. First the broken up lettuce leaves, then some sliced radishes, then I took a hard cooked egg and crumbled it over the top. I crumbled the bacon and put that on top. Then the heavenly warm bacon dressing on top of that. It was so simple and delicious. 
This salad has been a favorite of mine since I was five yrs. old. During the war, I stayed at my Grandma's while Mom worked. Her neighbor, Mrs. Fowler, had a nice garden. One day she invited me to lunch and this is what we had. I loved it and hoped that she would invite me again. Who would have thought that a five yr. old would like a salad like this? 
Reminds me of the first time I took our new grand daughters to lunch. I asked where they wanted to go and they said, Wendy's. We got to the restaurant and stood in line to order. My little 3 and 5 yr olds both said, "I'll have the salad bar." (at that time Wendy's had a salad bar) I looked at these two little ones with surprise...salad bar?? I never would have thought that they would order a meal like this. It's been a favorite story of mine as they have grown into young women...who still love salads.
I have to go get ready to leave for the pool. When I get home, I'm going to Elizabeth's for tea.
Have a nice day...
 I added this at the last....I forgot to take a picture of the salad until it was half gone. It was so good....I couldn't wait.
I'm taking Elizabeth one of my Star Gazer lilies and a loaf of Ernestine's zucchini bread. All I needed was one stem of this lily to make a nice little bouquet. I don't think she has these in her yard. She does have the most beautiful border of purple coneflowers.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Chipmunk's Garden

 When I'm gardening, I sometimes find little bunches of tiny plants that have sprouted. Hmmmmm...where did this come from? Many times I have planted seeds and by pulling up these little clusters of seedlings...the seeds that I want get pulled up too.....upsetting me a little. I have never left them to grow to maturity...until this summer.

 I was watering my stacked planter and turned it to water the back, when I discovered a sunflower that was growing pretty well. It looked OK in the back, so I left it. I knew who the little gardener friend the chipmunk. He scampers up to the bird feeder and stuffs his cheeks...then runs away to hide them. I've seen him rummaging around in this planter and sometimes I've chased him away so he doesn't break off a petunia. I must have missed this day...when he planted "his garden" 
Today, it is blooming. No holes in the leaves....a perfect plant and situated so that people might think I planted it there. It is a pain in some ways...watering. If I miss a day of watering...the plants droops. I guess I should thank my chipmunk friend for planting this water meter. Now, all I have to do is look out the window and see if it is limp...and rush out to water the whole planter. I think that is the reason the rest of the plants are doing so well. 
Thanks little chippy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Color...Oh, The Color! It's My Latest Favorite

 Walk with me to the back yard and see what is blooming. I follow the wonderful sweet scent and know what is blooming.Can you believe this color? Just look at the perfection in these beautiful flowers. I don't take any credit for these. I just took a wrinkled bulb and put it in the soil and voila....a beautiful flower appeared months later. 
 These are oriental lilies, because of their scent. I planted them in my little garden by the deck originally. Then I decided to move them, so I did, but I guess that I didn't get all the bulbs. These are a result of that action.
 When you plant them, you want to make sure that there are other plants near to hide some of the tall stalks. I leave them in the garden after they are done blooming. Unlike many flowers, their stalks are kind of pretty. I'm sure to dead head them, so that the nutrients all go into the bulb. No seed heads on these.
 Look at that beauty. There are no words for this.
I think that the name is interesting. These lilies face up, when blooming...gazing at the stars. Every flower that blooms in my yard is my favorite.... as you can tell.When I pick a favorite, I forget about the next one coming and then that one becomes my favorite. I do love this favorite of mine, but my real favorite is coming soon. What will it be?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Busy Tuesday

 When you drive up to our house...these two pots are the first thing thing that you see. We had Blue Rug Junipers planted in this spot for a few years. As the years passed...they needed trimming, grass grew up even though there was a barrier put down when they were planted, and they started to look shabby. We just couldn't bend down and pull up the tough grasses anymore. Joe wanted to do something different. This was his plan. The man who mows for us pulled out the shrubbery and put new landscaping cloth down. We went to Lowe's and bought some new pots. When the mulch was down, I bought 20 geraniums...10 for each side. It's been a breeze to take care of this summer. 
I was sitting on the porch the other morning when a man pulled up in front of the house. He leaned out the window and said, "Would you settle an argument between my wife and I? Are those geraniums artificial?" I told him no and he said that they look so perfect all the time....he thought that they must be artificial. I don't know if that was a compliment or not. Joe said to tell him that there's nothing artificial in our yard. A little story about artificial...I used to walk past the mayor's house in Hampshire, Il. The house was up a little hill with a split rail fence in front. All along the brown fence...were these so pretty yellow sunflower like plants. They were short and always in bloom. I walked my dog everyday and saw those flowers. At the end of the summer, I talked to his wife. She said that she had a secret...they were artificial and no one could tell.

I got a haircut today and stopped at the grocery to pick up some chicken. I waited for the chicken to cook and visited the produce dept. Peaches were on sale. They were hard as a rock. A gentleman was picking some out and putting them in a bag. I mentioned that they were really hard. He told me that he leaves them out for a few days and they have been delicious. So, I took his word for it a bought a few. Then I passed the watermelons. A woman said that she never picks out a good one. I showed her my way of picking one out...I hold the watermelon and thump it with my knuckle.If it sounds kind of hollow like and I feel a vibration from the thumping in my arm that is holding's ripe. I usually have good luck picking them. I bought some peaches, tomatoes, avocado, radishes, and a few Pink Lady apples. Leaving the store, I thought how lucky we are to be able to buy what we want and need at the grocery. I shudder to think what people in these war torn countries have on their tables.

It's clouding up and getting ready to shower. I didn't water my containers today....hoping for this rain. The lawn man said that it was starting to get dry here...and that we need some rain. 

I got my order today with the two swimsuits. I've had so much trouble finding one that fits and looks good. Finally I have two...they fit perfectly and hide some of my bodies imperfections :)
Talk about's time for me to get going and take care of some jobs around the house. Doing work outside really takes it's toll on my housework. I love being out and love to do things away from the house, but I need to do I'm torn most days. I love rainy days when the decision is made for me. Joe and I are only two people....we are both pretty neat, but sometimes I feel like I'm always picking up and putting about you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Monday in July

Here's my stack n grow all in bloom. As you can see, I've had a little help in planting this. There's a very tall flower growing in the back. A sunflower......planted by my constant "helper" in the garden...... my little friend the chipmunk. I know that he's the same one who visits everyday, by his behavior. Joe's not crazy about him, but I love to watch he scurries around while I garden. 
The sunflower is about to another picture soon.
Our weekend began with Sat. night Mass. Then a couple, who are friends, wanted us to go to White Pines for dinner. This is a favorite spot of mine...all woodsy and so beautiful. It was such beautiful night and a wedding was going on next to the little restaurant. We could hear music in the dining room and looking out the window, we had a bird's eye view of the fun they were having. In our dining room, a birthday party was going on. It was for a woman who turned 100 yrs old that day. She was there with family members and a few former students of hers, when she was a teacher. Her son came over to our table and brought some cake to share. I went over to wish her a Happy Birthday and mentioned that I would imagine that she was tired after celebrating all day. She said no, that she was enjoying herself, but would be able to sleep well that night. She was a lovely woman...dressed in a simple flowered cotton dress and wearing a beautiful corsage. 
We ordered our food. Joe had a steak, Jeanine had chicken breast over rice pilaf, her husband had ribs, and I had salmon. Our food was excellent. My salmon....moist and grilled to perfection. 
Sunday found us not wanting much food. We decided to drive to Crystal Lake to see Joe's son and his partner. She fell down some stairs at work and broke one leg and badly sprained the other. There she sat, one leg in a cast and the other in an inflated boot. She can't put any pressure on the one leg and very little on the other. I felt so sorry for her...I put myself in her position and wondered if I could handle it as well as she is. She has needed help with everything, but now she is learning how to live with this. Dan is making her situation as good as it can being patient, cooking, cleaning, his job, and catering to most every need. I know that she will come out of this OK, because she is a strong woman. But sometimes even strong women need some tender loving care..
I got word on Friday, that grandson Collin has Lyme disease. They caught it right away and started antibiotics. He's just got the rash and no other symptoms. The tick bite is very easy to identify....a huge red swelling with a red ring around it. He's such an outdoors kid....his dad joked that they were going to get him a flea and tick collar. 
Well, here we are on Monday....going to get hot and humid. I have things done around the garden and all I have to do is water the containers. The house is in order and we will eat a light meal later today.
Have a nice day where ever you are...

Friday, July 18, 2014

She Has a Personality That Doesn't Quit...Xoie is 25 today....July 19, 2014

I met this little girl when she was just three years old. Her Mommy and my son John were dating. I didn't know it was serious until Halloween. We met Karen's two little girls, when they were brought out to our house on trick or treat. This little one sat there in her costume, I forget maybe a cheer leader, with big eyes. She had her treat bag and wanted to get going. After that first meeting the big kids got married and a few years later, my son adopted the two girls. I can hardly remember when she wasn't ours. She had a personality that wouldn't quit. A smile that could win you over. She was always full of mischief and fun. A favorite thing to do at our house was to get the bag of dress up clothes, go down to the family room, and have Grandpa dress her up in a funny outfit. Then she would come up the stairs with her sister and give us a show. Then back downstairs for another outfit. It made her sad, when she was a teenager and found that I had tossed out the bag of clothes. The above picture is a few years old. We met at Red Robin that celebrate and I asked the waitress to come and sing Happy Birthday to her. We all joined in and clapped and had a good time. She's twenty five years old this year.. ....and my how the time has gone by. I can hardly imagine that she's that age. She was just recently married and has started that new phase of her life. I know that she will be successful, because she has such a loving heart. So, Happy Birthday to you, dear Xoie...
Grandma loves you.

Cherry Tomatoes

These cherry tomatoes are called Sungold. They are the sweetest tomatoes. They don't turn quite as red as some I've had, and they don't crack. So far, the critters haven't found them. 
 The tomato plant looks a little anemic to me, but the yield is going to be spectacular. I know that there are no harmful chemicals on these I just eat a handful as I'm working in the garden.
 They share a pot with Purple Hyacinth Bean vines.I just tied them up along with the vines and let them climb.
 I want to mix these in with cukes, bowtie pasta, a little chopped red onion, and a small can of whole, pitted, black olives. I will dress this simple salad with a vinaigrette. 1\4cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Whisk together and pour over salad. So simple, but sounds so good with a half sandwich or cup of soup.
When I start picking things like these, I always feel like I could take care of a little more garden space. My wish is to have a little space for 4 tomato plants, 4 pepper plants, a row of heirloom lettuces, some green scallions, and maybe a zucchini plant or two. 
I saw a garden on my way to the pool this morning. The garden was surrounding the backyard deck. Instead of planting flowers around the deck...they planted vegetables. So handy to the kitchen. Everything looked healthy and well cared for. 
I may do a batch of bread and butter pickles this year....or some freezer pickles. I love those crispy pickles with a light lunch. Just a few jars to savor during the coldest snow storm this next winter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Refrigerator Rolls

Mona a comment here about my refrigerator roll recipe. I guess that I should put it here for everyone to see again. It's the most simple thing...If you want a pan of rolls, just take some of the dough and make them.....leaving the rest in the fridge for another time. I got this recipe years ago from a friend. My mother in law used to make some pretty much like these. I used to keep this in my fridge and whenever I had to take something to a picnic, Church funeral lunch, or give to someone who needed some comfort....I had something tasty to contribute. This recipe along with my refrigerator bran muffins is one of my recipes that I've used over and over. I'm so glad that Mona and other bloggers are enjoying this recipe. Here it is....Balisha

Recipe for Balisha's Refrigerator Dough

2 pkg yeast
2 1/2 c warm water (warm)
3/4  c shortening
3/4  c sugar
2 eggs well beaten
8 to 8 1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 tsp salt

Soften yeast in water.  Add shortening, sugar, eggs, 4 c of flour and salt.
Mix (use electric mixer)  until smooth.    I used my dough beaters.
Stir in the remaining flour t make a soft dough.  ( You may not need all of it.)
Place in a large bowl and cover tightly.  Store in refrigerator.
The dough will rise so punch it down occasionally.  
When you are ready to bake, shape into sweet rolls, dinner rolls or 2 loaves of bread.
Let them rise  until double in size (about an hour) and bake at 400 degree's 15-20 minutes for rolls and 35-45 for bread.  
This mixture keeps for several days in the fridge.  No kneading is necessary.  Just make a pan of rolls whenever you want some.  Very easy and fool proof.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Technicolor Summer

You had better put on your sunglasses to look at my post for today. It is a bright and almost perfect day here in Byron.....No. Illinois. We go to the pool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Here is what we see, when we get to the park district building. COLOR!
Flowers of all colors mixed together. When people say, "Those colors don't go together," I always say to myself....God put all colors together on our earth....and He doesn't make mistakes.
 These gardens are planned and planted by the "boys" at the park district. They do a new theme every year. This years theme must be Technicolor. I love the way the gardens are tiered...taking up less space than planting on a flat surface. They are also easier on the knees when working there. I've never seen anyone working weeds. They must do their work after hours.
 This garden has a sculpture of an owl in the center foreground.
 Now you can see it better. Loads of annuals mixed in with perennials. 
 These colors will blend in with fall. I can visualize pumpkins, gourds, ornamental kale etc. Maybe a scarecrow.
 A close up of brightness. It doesn't seem as if the Japanese Beetles have found this garden.
 Another picture...I just can't get enough of this garden.
 The shady area trees are under planted with impatiens of all colors. In a little while these will be huge.
Up an embankment with begonias. This is absolutely stunning. I have enjoyed watching the progress of these gardens...from tiny little starts to the fabulous showing today.
As we drove home, I saw that everywhere between the pool and our house is bursting with color. Containers planted with colorful flowers. Every store has a container in front. Pinks, oranges, reds, and yellows all blending together on God's palette.All along the Rock River there are wildflowers. For a mile or so....Queen Anne's Lace, It almost looks like it was planted there, it's so thick.
I said yesterday that my old eyes seem to need more color...and today that happened. 

On the menu for today....

BBQ chicken breasts
Homemade potato salad
Sliced tomatoes and baby peppers
Fresh fruit...watermelon, cantelope, blueberries.
A technicolor meal.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Change is Good wanted color? Well here is it almost the middle of July and my garden is bursting with color. One of my favorites, the purple cone flower is at it's peak. They are in the back yard up against the clothes pole where the purple clematis is blooming. It's a pretty color combination.
 Out by the entry to our home are these vibrant geraniums. They are in large containers on either side of the drive. Planted late, but have filled in the whole pot with blooms. These are easy care....I love them.
 Mary's Garden is a quiet place with more subdued colors, but this yarrow is so pretty right now. I have trouble picking flowers to bring in the house...I like to enjoy them outside, but these are just begging to be picked...they dry so well. I might pick a few for a bouquet for fall.
Next to the herb garden is a trellis with several different clematis vines. Pink, purple, and white. This is a good year for clematis. Lush, green leaves with abundant flowers.

I have said that I enjoy pinks, purples, blues and other pale colors in my garden. Joe prefers the loud.... brash colors. The orange lilies for instance. So, I am trying to incorporate more bright colors into my gardenscape. I have been moving things around. The apricot, ruffled, day lilies have been divided and put in several places in the front gardens. They were a friendship share from an old friend in Hampshire. I brought them with me, when I moved here. They were in the shade in the back and not blooming as well. Now, they are front and center....let's see what they do next year.
Last night it was so nice and cool, I took a chance and went out to do a few things, wondering if the mosquitos would carry me away. They weren't I took advantage of that and divided another plant. This is in the allium family. I don't know the name of it, but it looks like a bunch of onions when you dig it out of the ground. Very neat plant with purple flowers (like chives) right now. I brought this home from Church, when we were dividing a couple of years ago. I divided one large plant into five different plants. I put one back in the original spot, and place the others across the front of Tim's memory garden. That little garden is really shaping up. First will come the daffodils, followed by the orange lilies, clumps of yellow day lilies, poppies, butterfly weed, a rose bush, and the purple allium type flowers lastly. Just think of all the colors in this garden. I'll show pictures of this area later on.
It was time to go in and I was ready to stop. I had extra energy later on yesterday, because I fell asleep reading in the afternoon. Otherwise, I am tired and don't accomplish much in the evening.  I'm looking forward to next year see how all the changes work out. I know that there will be a little tweaking, but that's what gardening is all about. Change...things grow, divide, multiply, the garden is never the same the next year. Life goes like that too...we are changing everyday. Never the same. I guess we need some tweaking too once in a while. An oil can would come in in the Wizard of Oz :)

Just found out that the alliums are called drumstick alliums. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Hands

The inspiration for this post is:
from  Britt wrote about her hands yesterday, in a post. I asked for permission to copy a line or two. Here is what she said, "If I had to choose between beautiful nails and elegant fingers, I have no doubt. I prefere the two I have. They show all the 56 years they have lived and loved and worked, and they proudly show it. Wrinkles, broken nails and all.

My Hands, by Balisha
From the very first moment of birth my hands have been important to me. The first little dimpled fist and tiny fingers wrapped around a parents what every parent remembers with joy. Later on I gazed with wonder at my hands waving in the air. The first wave bye, bye, patti cake, playing peek a boo, this little mousie, itsy bitsy spider, and blowing a kiss, "Now I lay me down to sleep" with folded hands..
As time went on playing in the sandbox, modeling clay, mud pies, helping to make cookies.....fingers in the dough, catching bugs.Holding a fat Crayola crayon, a pencil, a paintbrush.
I went on in school and used my hands to turn the pages in history books, gestures in a class play,make pottery with potter's wheel, began to  feel compassion for another...a pat on a friend's back, when she was in trouble.

A new stage in life when I married and used my hands to start creating in the kitchen, make curtains, apply makeup, turn the pages in the newspaper. Then in my first pregnancy, feeling the baby move in my, what a sensation that was the first time! The touch of my baby's dimpled hands, the joy of folding diapers.
I loved being a Mom. I changed diapers, curled hair, wiped noses, tied shoes,  fed meals, calmed a crying child, turned pages in a book..."Go Dog Go" cleaned up messes, wrung hands when they were sick, bandaged boo boos, soothed a brow and so many other things that come with being a Mom. Later in my life, I waved goodbye as they left home, and wiped my tears.

The later years were filled with using my hands to garden, paint, create things, cooking for two, care of aging parents, caressing Mom with Alzheimer's...holding her hand, patting Dad's shoulder.."It will be all right," Cared for sick husband, gripping the arm of hospital chair, prayed for him, soothed him, fed him,  and last...scattered his ashes.

By now I am  a widow and use my hands to cook for one, knit, craft, paint, gardened,cleaned, touched my grandchildren, soothed babies, patted the dog, folded hands and prayed.

I met someone, and shook his hand for the first time. Patted his dog and mine, cooked his favorite meal, and later...took his hand in marriage.  I've helped to make a home for us.... using my hands to decorate, clean, garden, soothed him before surgery, put on those elastic stockings, with my arthritic hands, held his arm as he walked with a new hip, learned new computer skills, learned to love writing.....tapping the keys of the keyboard.

As my son was dying last summer, I wiped his brow, and touched his face for the last time. I wiped away many tears.

It's just about full circle now. My hands are looking old, never had a professional manicure, countless bottles of hand lotion don't change things. Wrinkles appear almost daily. These old hands of mine have seen it all... from my first little fingers wrapped around my parent's hands, holding my newborns, intimate touches in marriages, soothing older people, waving goodbyes, blowing kisses, cooking countless meals, yes my hands have been busy.

Along with Britt who says, that she has earned these hands. I feel like I have earned every wrinkle on my hands... just as I have earned every wrinkle in my face. So, now, when I shake hands at the "Sign of Peace" at St. Mary's, I will look down at my hands and say...."Job well done."


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Goldfinch and the Afghan by Balisha

The Goldfinch and the Afghan

While I was sitting on the porch, relaxing in nice weather...
A little bird came visiting with very golden feathers.
It was a Finch who landed on the afghan on the rail..
She looked at me with eyes so scared and flipped her little tail.
The afghan lying there... across the rail to dry..
The bird building her nest that day...saw it with her eye.
A bit of string attracted her...the fringe went all around..
She went to work and pulled that string without a single sound.
She stuffed her mouth and flew her nest up in the tree...
Paid no attention to the world....especially not to me.
Her nest was needed right away...her babes would be so warm..
With fuzz she took from my afghan on that warm July morn. 
I ran to get a camera... and sat there oh so still..
She never returned that morning...I think she had her fill.
A lesson learned just yesterday while on the porch I sat...
My camera will be with can be sure of that.

I miss so many great pictures by not having my camera at the ready. It's hard to always take a camera around, while I'm doing work in the garden. My hands get dirty...where will I put the camera....don't want it to get dirty or wet...I feel like a packrat anyway, out in the yard. So much to carry around like my tools, waste bucket, sometimes my lawn cart, and always my chair. The camera just gets in the way. But yesterday it was a different story. I was just sitting on the porch....resting a bit....when this little goldfinch came flying in. I had put the afghan over the porch rail because it was damp. It was about 1 1/2 ft from me. She landed on the afghan and gave me a look. I didn't move an inch....I hardly took a breath. She tugged and tugged at the fringe...all the while keeping a "bird's eye view" on me. She made several trips back and forth from me to the Ash tree in the front yard. I felt safe getting up and sneaking into the house for the camera, while she was gone. I got back and set up the camera, so I wouldn't have to move an inch....and she didn't come back. I checked several times that day and didn't see her on the afghan. I left it there until night and then moved it to the back of the chair. I hope she got her nest built. I like to think of those baby birds all cuddled in my afghan. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Kitchen is Humming

My kitchen started humming about 6:30am. My brain was humming and so was I. This was a continuation of my day in the kitchen, yesterday. We went swimming in the morning yesterday and Joe had an appointment in the afternoon. I had started refried beans the day before. They weren't finished that night. So, I put them in the fridge and started them again, when we got home from the pool.  They were done when Joe got home. 
So those are waiting in the fridge. I had big plans for today. My kitchen would be humming again. I thawed two small pork roasts to put in my slow cooker. I often cook two things at once. The s;ow cooker is large and will accommodate two roasts easily. I am trying a new recipe. First I rubbed the roasts with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. I put them in the pot and mixed up  1\2c chicken broth, 1\3c balsamic vinegar, 1T honey, and 1T Worcestershire sauce. This mixture was poured over the top and the roasts will cook for about 6 hrs.When they are done...I will use two forks to pull meat apart and then put the meat back in the juices. Joe wants some of the refried beans with his roast. The 2nd roast will be used for BBQ sandwiches later on toward the weekend.  
 My little kitchen was in kind of a mess anyway, so I decided to make those zucchini breads that I talked about the other day. I had already put the zucchini through the food processor, chopped the nuts, and drained the the biggest part of the job was done. As I mixed the batter, I thought how much this batter reminded me of my apple cake. Moist and delicious. I haven't made one of those in years. 
 Here they are all ready for the oven. I didn't make a big loaf....just 6 small ones. So nice to have in the freezer to pull out later on. 
As I was cleaning up, I started thinking about my kitchens in the past. My very first kitchen was good sized. It was a three room apartment and the kitchen was the biggest room. 
The next kitchen was in a bigger upstairs apartment with a little smaller kitchen. I felt like I was up in the trees. This apartment was the upstairs of one of those big houses they call Painted Ladies. The rooms were all unique. The kitchen having wooden pull out bins for flour, potatoes, etc. in bulk. Wide ledges on the windows where I cooled pies and cakes, A step down to a little eating nook. It was such a cute kitchen and it was where I began my love of cooking. A young bride with a new baby boy and lots of time to experiment in the kitchen.
Down through the years I've had 2 huge kitchens, and my last one before here....was a galley kitchen.....narrow, but very conveniently built. 
Now, we come to my kitchen today. It's small and in a square configuration. Very few steps have to be taken in this one, and everything handy. Perfect for someone my age.  All I have to do is turn around and the appliance that I need is there. Quite a bit of storage space, but the counter top space is limited. I really need more counter space for big cooking, but there's no way to remedy that, so I work with what I have. I like neat counter tops, but find that I want to have things handy...and not have to climb around to get my counter tops are cluttered. Sometimes it really bugs me and I move things here and there, never finding the best way. 
Well, the breads just came out of the oven and the house smells divine. Joe doesn't like zucchini....should I tell him what those green specks are  :)?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Random Thoughts

The day begins with birdsong out the window. Wish we could have windows open year round.....wonderful way to wake up.

We went for a drive yesterday and saw that the corn is over my head. No damage from recent heavy rains and wind. I'm married to a wannabe farmer. Joe always watches the crops and talks about the problems of the farmers. Lots of people out enjoying the last of the 4th weekend. Music at the restaurant while people eat.

Rain during the night. I listened to it and watched the lightning as I drifted off to sleep....forgetting the cushions on the front porch. They are damp this morning.

I'm going to make Ernestine's zucchini bread this morning. Check out her blog for the recipe. She posted her 40 yr old,  often used, original recipe on her blog.  If she posts a recipe I know it's good. She and I may be "kindred spirits." We often like the same things.....and often are doing things similarly.

I saw another green frog this morning....or was it the same one? This time he was enjoying my petunias. 

I have some transplanting to do, but that will be for another day....a cooler one.

It always seems to me that summer is winding down after the 4th. Sales in stores to get rid of clothing before the fall season. Christmas movies non stop this weekend... on a TV station. 

My garden is getting tired.....not from heat, but just tired of pushing out those blooms. My fertilizer will perk it up, I hope.

Grand daughter's birthday coming soon. Just ordered her gift...I love Amazon. Saw that my book is on the way. I have one more to read from the library before I can start this new one. Love this summer reading program. Makes me sit and relax a bit more. Five books in less than 3 months. It's all for a tote bag to carry my books in. I could buy this tote bag over and over again....winning it is special. I won my insulated coffee mug last year. Love it.

A story from Father at Mass, yesterday. He was camping with his two dogs, this last week. He heard the weather forecast for heavy rains, 100 mph wind gusts, lightning, and hail.  Soon after, his camper started shaking, lightning was coming down and his doggies were getting scared. He remembered that his awning was still up outside. So he donned (his words) his foul weather apparel and stepped out into the weather. He started to take care of the awning...holding the metal pole up in the air. He was a human lightning rod. He laughed at himself at this point. I could just picture him out there, soaked to the gills, holding up this metal pole.... while his dogs barked inside the camper. He said that this was a good example for him to trust in the Lord. 

So, I guess that I will trust in the Lord.... and start my day, knowing that He will help me all the way. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Surprise in My Garden

I've been working in the yard today. I fertilized the flowers and cut back some...did some dead heading and just regular cleaning up. I had a lawn cart full... by the time I rounded Mary's Garden. I have a hanging basket there, on the trellis with's shady there and I thought that it might do well in this part of the yard. The clematis has grown so much and was almost covering the basket. I tried to pull the clematis away and trim it a bit, when something plopped onto the chartreuse hosta below. It was a tiny tree frog. It had landed in the perfect spot.....camouflaged by the very same colored leaf. As I watched it, I was surprised when it hopped on my hand. It felt like an weight to it at all. He looked at me with tiny eyes showing no fear. I got to study it with it's little suction cup feet. No camera....Joe wasn't around....I wanted a picture of this little fellow. So, I decided to try to go into the house and get the camera. We got inside the front door. He didn't move an inch. Around the living room and into the hallway. The light changed and I saw him crouch. He sprung off my arm and onto the carpet. I thought maybe it had been a bad idea to bring him in. How would I catch him? That would really be comical....two old folks chasing a frog around the room. He just sat there on the carpet and I picked him up. He hopped over to the bookcase and clung there while I got my camera. I snapped a couple of pictures and then thought that the fun would begin. He just waited for me to pick him up and we went outside. I placed him on the hosta leaf and sat down to watch him for a while. He sprung up to the clematis, where he had been before. I lost sight of him in the leaves. I had never seen one of these in our yard.

I like to keep track of different bits of nature that I see for the first time each year. This year, so far, this tiny frog, and some red headed woodpeckers. I hadn't seen the woodpeckers since I was a little girl.

I continued down the yard and sat under the birdhouse shaped like a church. I could hear soft peeping coming from inside. Then I heard the mom and dad chickadees scolding me...."Hurry up, we need to feed our babies." So, I worked a little faster and went on down the side of the house and watched them return with food for their young. A second batch of chickadees this summer.

I'm careful when gardening now....and wear garden gloves.The hostas are huge and I've seen snakes under them in past years.
I cut back the roses, because I saw some J. Beetles the other day. I do this each year at this time, so that by the time the beetles are gone, the roses will have their final flush of blooms. I hate to see them all chewed up and covered by beetles.....and I don't want to use chemicals or stand there dropping them into soapy water. I read the other day to cut back petunias on the 4th of they don't get leggy. I got this information from Pat at do this with mums too.

I continued around to the back and moved some pots with flowering plants to the front yard. This is the time of year when our gardens are just about to start looking kind of tired. I move things around to give things a new look.

I was really tired, when I was finished. I looked like an old hag, when I came into the house :) We ate some leftovers and sat down to watch a movie....both of us so tired, we kept falling asleep. Now, I'm going to shower and wash my hair and do my best to stay awake until bedtime. Gardening is certainly labor intensive. Sometimes you just have to push yourself to continue on and get the job done.

Filling the World With Negativity

Oh, my gosh....I've been reading FB comments on a particular picture. I guess I really shouldn't bother with reading the comments, but curiosity killed the cat, you know. Why do people put such negative thoughts out there? Is everyone angry these days? Certain people are trashed no matter what they do. They are blamed for everything under the sun. They just have to blink and something bad is written, accompanied by a picture. The media looks for the most horrendous picture of the individual and puts it out there to accent a negative writing about said person. People seem to enjoy passing on negative information without even checking the authenticity. They receive an offensive email and dash to the keys to send it on to their friends. People are quick to blame...."Not my fault." FB is a public forum.... it gives people courage to say what they wouldn't say to your face. I love FB because I enjoy seeing pictures of family members and also reading posts about things I'm interested in. I've enjoyed several recipes that were posted as well. I only put family pictures there and pictures of flowers etc. I guess my contribution would seem uninteresting to those who love to paint a negative picture of another person. It seems that no one is worried about the way they look to other people. Putting their negativity out there makes them look bad to others. Who would want a friend or and employee who fills the world with lies?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fabulous Four and the 4th of July

Here are the fabulous four. They are wonderful grand kids. Always busy and so many different interests. How are they spending the 4th? Here's a brief tale for each.

Tyler is a member of a group called Project Two. He is in college and has been a part of this group since 2007, when they were called the Jersey Kids. Tyler is the one in the middle.  Go on the internet to find out information on this very successful group. They were busy this 4th with a concert at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I heard that it was a wonderful concert. They had the perfect day for it.

Collin, who is still in high school loves the out of doors. He and his friends have been at my daughter's lake house all week. She just arrived yesterday....and more company is coming today. Collin and friends are in the canoe. Collin is on the far left. They got her potter's wheel out and make some pottery. I'll show pictures sometime next week.
Here's the new bride. Xoie got married this summer and lives in No. Carolina. When she married Kyle....she got a bonus...a little boy named Cliff who calls her mommy. She's such a happy wife and mom. I'm sure she's doing all kinds of mommy things on this first 4th of July with her little family. I miss her.
Last, but not least, the oldest....Sydney. She and her boyfriend, Dave made a cross country drive to Seattle for a friend's wedding. She has posted pictures of their trip on FB at every stop. I almost felt like I was with them. The latest news from the road.....a phone call saying that Dave proposed, and gave Syd a beautiful ring. No date set for this happy couple. They are going to a rodeo today and will be on their way home after that.

So, now you know what all my grands are doing. Each one is different. They had parents who cultivated their differences and gave them so many unique experiences when they were growing up. I think that John and Karen did a terrific job raising these kids. Happy 4th to all of safe.
Love you,