Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Friday, October 31, 2014

Felties and Halloween

 Here are the little "felties" that I've been working on this month. We are just about finished with this project...two more to go. Hope to get them all finished by Thanksgiving weekend, when we decorate for Christmas. Oh, I've had so much fun doing these. They don't require any talent...just being able to do a running stitch with a needle. The fun is selecting the colors of felt and the contrasting threads to decorate them with. I used a bit of paint for small things, like eyes once in a while.
While I've been making felties for me....I decided that our friends at Neighbors rehab. in Byron would like some too. Our Church helps out with BINGO....the favorite game of the residents. They are always in need of prizes. I hadn't donated anything in quite a while and remembering how much a small prize meant to my Dad years ago....I decided to donate a few. Sometimes just a little trinket can make some one's day. I made these and bagged them in little cello bags....tied with jute and boxed them up. I'll take them over to Church later.

After the last two are made....what will I do? I haven't really decided yet. Christmas will be here and I know that I'll be busy with one thing or another. I may try a felt garland for Valentine's Day.

Cold and blustery for Halloween. Poor kids.....hope their mom's dress them warmly. The first Halloween costume I remember was a hobo. It wasn't hard to be a hobo. Just some old clothes and a piece of coal to dirty my face and hands. A red farmer's hanky at my neck and one of Dad's old hats. We fashioned a stick with a kerchief sack on one end.....supposedly for my lunch. There....that was it. I was never a fairy princess or a Disney character. We didn't have much in those days and really no one had a store bought costume. I don't even remember if they had them in stores. Costumes that are homemade are always the best. 
I have a little story to little girl was such a tiny one for so long. The first year she had, big for her, bunny pajamas and I put little ears on her and we took her around to relatives to show them. Her second year....the bunny pajamas still fit and of course she was a bunny again. The third year...if my memory serves me right...she was a bunny again.....after some alterations from me.  Her brother was growing each year and had a new costume every year. I think he was a mini hobo for a couple of years. Then 10 yrs. later, John came along, and one year he was invited to a party. He was really into robots, so he and his dad made his costume out of boxes and aluminum foil. It was a great success and he won first prize. 

Well, I have to get on with things around here this morning. We haven't had breakfast and I'm trying to talk Joe into breakfast out....after's a holiday. I want BOO BERRY PANCAKES.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm an Old Fuddy Duddy

Today is the day that I get my new camera. Another gadget to learn about.. I thought. In these later years, I find that I want to live a more simplified  life. My time on earth is getting shorter. I want to savor each and every moment. So, when choosing a camera, I picked out one that is easy to use. Not trying for the best attempts at spectacular closeups anymore. That isn't important to me now. Just a simple camera that I can use to take pics of family and to use for my blogging. I'm looking forward to using it and not having to sit down and read through a book of instructions and getting so frustrated while doing it.  

There are manuals for every appliance that comes in the door. It has always been a habit of mine to read through the whole thing before using the appliance.....even though I often use the same buttons over and over and don't try out the "special features" I have often said that I need just an on and off button. Maybe I'm a frustrated old soul when it comes to technology.....thinking about Mom's first automatic washer that didn't need a manual. We just plugged it in and started it up. 

I know that I sound like an old fuddy duddy....but it's how I really feel. What would I rather do....sit and read a manual back and forth while looking at the camera ...finding A and B then skipping to Z in tiny print....going back to see what it says again....having it fail and having to reread something....or go outside and finish up the fall work. Just some little fun sprinkling my wildflower seeds along the woods border. I have an old birdhouse to take care of too. Filling the bird feeders is a pleasant thing to do.When the camera comes, I will be able to take a few pictures right away. No trying to read with a magnifying glass...print that is meant for a teenager.

This post will not be understood by my children...who revel in all things that technology brings.  All the latest gadgets...especially phones, that they find that they must have. I would just explain to them that one day I was very much like they are....I wanted the latest refrigerator, tv, the new Princess phone, cell phone that was huge, the ability to record a tv show, a Ford station wagon, teflon pans, fabric softeners, frozen foods, and countless other things. Just recently a Keurig. I've been through that already....there will come a time when you younger folks will remember back to today and find that the things you coveted are obsolete. Things are changing so quickly now.....maybe you all should just breathe and take life a little simpler. Figure out what is really important in life. Your gadget or your spare time.

So, off I go, while Joe is at the pool. A morning to myself and one that I will spend outdoors. 

an update.....
The camera is here and this old fuddy duddy had no problem getting it hooked up. Now, to take a couple of pictures.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Squash 101

Beautiful butternut squash...something I look forward to each fall. They are good year round, but the ones in fall are so fresh and full of flavor. As I aged, it became so hard for me to cut squash of any kind in half to bake. Frozen squash just doesn't do it for me. I was tired of having to ask my husband to cut one for me....I even found him struggling with a sharp knife. I knew that this just wasn't safe for us anymore. Then I got an idea....thinking about baking potatoes...I wondered-- could I prick the squash with a sharp instrument and put on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven. Would it explode and mess up the oven? I took a chance and it worked out beautifully. So, now to save myself from a trip to the ER.....I started doing it this way. 

Just wash the squash, prick it with a sharp meat fork all over, place on a foil lined pan and bake at 375 for an hour or hour and a half....depending on the size of the squash. When it's done, the holes will bubble a bit and the skin will have taken on a shiny look. Take your hot pad and squeeze a should give and feel soft. Let it cool and then cut in half and scoop out that beautiful, tasty, orange flesh.

One time my daughter told me that her squash never tastes as good as mine. This is how I make a tasty squash casserole for Thanksgiving. 

I use 3 or 4 different kinds of squash. This time I used a buttercup, butternut, and acorn. After baking the squashes and scooping out the flesh, I use an old fashioned potato masher and mix in a stick of butter, 1 heaping TBS of brown sugar, pepper and I use Seasoned taste. Seasoned salt gives it the taste that I like. Using the three squashes, made up a nice casserole full for the freezer. I freeze it in the casserole and then thaw it the night before the holiday. 

I hope you all will try baking squash this way. It's a lot safer and if you have "old" joints....saves a lot of pain.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Sunday in October....Before Halloween

Last night, I worked on my little felt ornaments. Two more to go and I will have 24. I'm going to search for a couple strings of lights for my little woodland tree that will hold these little felt ornaments. The tree has white lights and I think that these ornaments call for more color. Can't wait for the day after Thanksgiving, when we decorate for the holiday.

I went to a neighborhood garage sale yesterday. The family is moving away. It was kind of bittersweet shopping there. So many toys that have made their children happy through the years. A tiny cradle, doll bunkbeds, books including the Laura Ingalls Wilder set (had to turn my head when I noticed these) Christmas decorations and Easter too. Everything nicely taken care of. I didn't see much that I wanted, but on my way out the door, I noticed a pile of red and green. Three homespun table cloths in sizes I could use. A big one for the dining room table, one oval for the table in the breakfast nook and a round one for my mother's table in the window. I have them in blue and off white...and now I have three in Christmas red and green. Now, you know how much I love red.....These will be used over and over again. Nothing wrong with them and after laundering...they are folded and in my cupboard.

This was one of the few garage sales that I have been to this summer. The other was one where I was looking for books for my great grandson Clifford. After this sale, I took a ride around the neighborhood, mainly looking at the Halloween decorations, when I came to an unadvertised sale. I visited for a bit and then started up the driveway. I noticed a very old, dilapidated, bird house and a couple of bird feeders. They saw me looking and said that that area was their free area. I told them that I thought the bird house had character. The gentleman laughed and said, "Oh, most of our things have character!" He told me to go ahead and take it. It was really dirty and full of nesting material and a few bugs as well. I really worried about putting it in my car, but threw caution to the wind and home it came with me. Now, Joe might not see it the way I do. To me, it looks like a place that a bird family will thrive. When I get my camera, I'll take a picture and show it to you. For now, you'll just have to use your imagination and picture an old brown tumble down building with a peaked roof. A board is loosely hanging from the roof, a rusty crooked wire to hang, and a full house of nesting material and no way to open it to clean it. There it sits in my little garden. Today, I am going out to take another look and see what I can do about getting the stuff out and then....where to hang it?

It's a nice day today....sunny but chilly. The leaves are falling fast and we are beyond peak in our area. Morning drives to the pool offer us another view....steam coming off the Rock River and over it...geese in formation. Fall is here and winter is in the wings.
Enjoy this fall weather. I still haven't gone on my picnic. Hope this week is nice so we can do that. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Plans in the Making

Sitting here thinking about the days ahead. I guess that I should take advice from things I've read. Don't waste time thinking about the in the present.

Can I think  about something in the future for a minute? Take Thanksgiving, for example. This morning found me searching for recipes on the web. It gives me pleasure to do this. I like to see new trends in holiday menus and read about some new recipes. Deciding for a change things up a bit and then going back to the old ways. Now, I have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for family over and over again...and almost always use the same recipes. If I have changed things in any way....I would notice facial expressions, when I brought out a new green bean dish. They were expecting the old tried and true green bean casserole. No pumpkin pie??? More facial expressions. "Oh, what's in these mashed potatoes?" someone might say. I know that the sour cream I added was not my regular old mashed potatoes. So, I will try to do Thanksgiving the same way as always, but there might be a new twist this year.

I think that holidays are special times for families. Most people don't want things changed too much. I think that they are comfortable with the old ways. Families want to hang on the the past. Thanksgiving is a time for comfort foods...bringing back memories of the holidays in the past. Stories told about people who are no longer with Tim and the pumpkin cake or his carving lesson from Joe. Other stories come to mind, tales about my brother, Jim, leaning on the kitchen counter in pain because he ate too much....or stories about LuAnn and her Tofurkey (a vegetarian turkey) or John smiling over his first sweet potato dish, Brandon will have hot gravy. (he wanted hot gravy when he was just a little guy...just like his grandpa Joe.)

At holiday time I sometimes wish I had a big kitchen. Everyone congregates in my kitchen...near the food and maybe me. My little kitchen is so full of people bumping into each used to bother me, but now, I just enjoy having my family around. My kitchen will be just makes for a cozy family get together. 

This year I will make things ahead and freeze them. The same old recipes will be made...actually this menu is a pretty good one and one that I will enjoy too. People will be in my way, there will be laughing and joking, the food will be hot...and good, the dishwasher will be filled when the dinner's over, leftovers will be packaged for take outs, the candles will be snuffed, the good byes at the door, and Joe and I will collapse in our chairs. That's the way we do Thanksgiving.   

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Treasures....My Books

Here I am with all my garden chores done for the year. I'm starting to "live" inside again. Oh, I'll be the pool, to the grocery, Dr. appts, lunch with friends, and many other activities, but later on these activities will depend on the weather.

I sat for a while this afternoon....looking at some of my books. Books are a treasure to me. I still order new ones..many are used books. I love to open an old, worn book and see the markings and underlining...maybe some special words that a person has written. A little note stuck in between pages...or a leaf or flower pressed and crumbling. Books with post it notes are from more recent times.

It has always been hard for me to write in a book. I know how much I love reading books with notes in the margins, but I just simply couldn't do it. I guess that my upbringing had something to do with it. I had so few books and my parents couldn't really afford to buy very many. I was told to take special care of they could be passed down to a younger cousin.

I remember the first day the encyclopedia set came into the house. I was so excited. We didn't get the World I wanted, but the Funk and Wagnall's set. The World Book came into the house later on, when my younger brother needed them. He was 13 yrs. younger and my parents were in a better financial situation at that time. The Funk and Wagnall's did just fine for me...

Now days, I realize that my books are my books. Someday they will be passed down to my two kids. I take good care of them still, but now...I write some things in the margins, underline meaningful things, stick a post it note on certain pages. I have a special flower or two pressed in some.

The other night I looked in a Catholic Woman's Bible that I hadn't looked at for a while, and found a note written there about my son Tim. Several Masses were said for him after he passed away. I looked up a favorite verse from the book of Timothy to put on thank you cards for the Masses. It took me back to that time, and made me remember. Someday, someone else will open that Bible and see my note about him. I hope that they get that same feeling that I did.

So, as winter comes, I will sit in my chair and pick up a book or two, and underline and leave some notes...if I want. After all....they are my books...for now anyway.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Morning...

I did go out and finish my bulb planting. It was getting cooler, and I wanted to finish the outside work. My geraniums filled a big black garbage bag. They did so well and will be planted again next year. We have a man who mows here and he takes our lawn cuttings with him. He lives on a farm and has a use for them. So, when he is due to come, I put the things that are heavy for me out by the road and he puts them in his truck. I do have a compost pile back in the woods that I use most of the summer. 

Speaking of the woods, it is about time to scatter my wildflower seeds. Some I have purchased and some from my own gardens. Columbine seeds scatter well and I get good results from those. Little columbines popping up here and there. 

We bought a new stove...a KitchenAid with double ovens and a matching microwave. We have white appliances so this was ordered in white.
After delivery we found that the broiler, which is on top, wasn't working. Probably just a glitch that needs a service call. He's coming this morning to get this figured out. Joe was kind of upset that we couldn't broil a steak this weekend, but that's how it goes today. Things aren't like they used to be. I'm sure it will be OK and we'll be broiling soon.

You might wonder why an old couple needs a double oven. Well, it was always a dream of holiday time to have two ovens. One for the turkey and the other for sides. But....that was never in the picture for me. I wrangled the meal together for years without two ovens. It was a real feat sometimes....with crock pots, and micro waves humming my meal. Well, now that I am old, my dream came true. I will enjoy this appliance...making cookies will be a breeze, no more waiting for nut breads to bake to start another batch, baking potatoes and broiling steaks at the same time, and that holiday meal will be easier...squash, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole on top....turkey on the bottom. I can't wait. It will be put to good use this Thanksgiving.

I had another dream as a young be a homemaker and have children. I never wanted to be anything else. To me, cooking is part of being a homemaker. Putting a nice meal on the table is a delight to me. I love what I do and always did. My dreams did come true. 

Well, I best be going. The service man will be here soon. I have visions of pumpkin bread baking in the new oven and also tomorrow...baking different squashes for Thanksgiving. I like to mix squashes together for flavor.

Have a wonderful day...

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Day So Far

Here's the road to our house. The trees are across the street from Elizabeth's house. People stop to take wedding, homecoming and other pictures here.
Trying to decide if I've done enough for one day....or should I go out and plant the bulbs and my fall work will be over. I worked my fanny off this morning....cutting down the anemones (all except the white ones that are still beautiful) and cleaning up the bed on the west side of the house. It all looks so bare right now. I love when the pine needles fall from next door and they leave a blanket over my perennials.

I found this from last year....Some might call my garden “uncontrolled” but I call it wildlife-friendly. The beauty of it comes not just from the plants but from the birds, bees, butterflies, amphibians, mammals etc which have been made welcome by my creating habitats for them. Everyone can do the same by just being a little bit more uncontrolled. After the harvest, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour and leave the garden to look after itself and the wildlife. Being too tidy is the eighth deadly sin.

The last of the fall deliveries is here. My new boots fit perfectly and are just what I wanted. I bought an in between jacket in black fleece. I'll get a lot of use out of that. The amaryllis and other bulbs to force are here too. Now, I can stop searching online and just get some projects done.

I've decided to make some little things for the youngest Sunday school classes. I'll show a picture, when I make a few. I was going to use them for bingo prizes, but they look like something that the little kids would like. I'm making doves for the bingo prizes.

Neither Joe nor I wanted to cook the pork chops that I had thawed for yesterday's dinner. I just put them in the crock pot with some mushroom soup and sliced onions. We'll have those tomorrow. I've never cooked pork chops this will be an experiment.

You should see the view out my window here. The trees in the background of the houses across the street....are gorgeous. Blue skies with big puffy clouds. The bright green lawns and a bonfire in the back yard.I love this time of year....everything is so beautiful.

I am gathering some steam....sitting here. I think I will go out and plant the bulbs. I decided to put the mini daffs in Mary's Garden. I came in the house and looked at my pictures from spring this year... to see where I had some blooming. Now, when I go out, I'll know where to plant some. If I get them in soon, they will be covered with that pine needle blanket.

Now that my work is over outside....I can get on with plans for Thanksgiving. Everyone in our family is invited and I'm waiting for them to let me know if they'll be here. I love holidays with family all together..and Thanksgiving is such a special time. My Thanksgivings are very casual....with good food....comfortable or football...and pies....pecan and pumpkin :)
I'm off to plant the bulbs...Balisha

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We Had a Date With 1040 lbs. of Turkey

After Mass last night we hurried over to the United Church of Byron. Many people from our Church were on their way over too. It was the night that the United members were having their turkey feast. They do this every year, but Joe and I hadn't ever been. There were cars parked everywhere, but somehow Joe and I got a close one. We entered the doorway and could smell the heavenly :) smell of turkey cooking. They took us into their sanctuary and lined us up in rows of 10. The dinner had been going on for a little while and we had to wait for the first group to finish. We chuckled as each member of our Church came in the door. After a short wait, it was our turn. The smell of turkey intensified as we neared the huge room full of people. Our table was waiting...round table to seat 10, snow white cloth, white china, silver wrapped with a burgundy napkin, pretty fall centerpiece and padded chairs. Each table had a server and other servers floated around as needed. Our host was very gracious and welcomed us to the Church. We were seated with some young firefighters from our town. One of the men had his wife and little girl with him. I asked if they had been there before and was told that they like to support the local Churches. The meal was served family style. The server started the meal with fresh cranberry sauce and homemade coleslaw. While we were filling our plates the rest of the meal came.. real mashed potatoes, gravy in insulated white pitchers, fresh green beans, dressing piled high, and the star of the night....a big platter of hot turkey. I noticed that many of the serving bowls were antiques. We kept the server quite busy....firefighters and Joe have big appetites :) Everything was piping hot and they served as much as you wanted to eat. When the meal was over there was a pumpkin dessert and the servers were kept busy passing whipped cream. Hot coffee, water, white and chocolate milk were available. I can't say enough about the way this Church handled the dinner. You could tell that they were pros...and so many Church members helping out from the kitchen, to the carry out room, to the many many servers running back and forth to keep plates full and people happy. I can't forget the planning committee.I asked how many turkeys they prepared.....40....26lb. turkeys. I have worked in the Church kitchen so much in my past. I know what a big undertaking this was. So many dedicated people making light of the work they do. If you want a good meal....go to a Church dinner in your area. Church cooks are the best....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Simple pleasures on a windy day....

A cup of Ovaltine and an apple cider donut...
The drive to the pool full of fall color...
Getting into the warm water at the pool...
Watching Joe shoot baskets in the pool...
Exercising in front of the window with a fall view...
Sitting out of the pool and seeing the window's reflection in the still water...
Hot home made soup for dinner....
A crunchy Sugar Crisp apple....
Watching the leaves blow off the trees...
A movie in the mail...
The smell of brownies baking in the toaster oven...
Cutting into the warm brownie...a melty chocolate treat...
Hearing the heat go on...
Warm clothes...
Watching Ellen....
That's it so far...a day full of pleasures. Here I am writing my post for today...telling the little snippets of my day so far.
Have a nice evening,

Finding Faith In Fall Colors, by Penny Wiegert

I thought I'd repeat a post from last year. I know that many people didn't read my old blog and might enjoy this.

I read this article in our Observer newspaper this week. I thought it was beautiful and so timely. It really touched me and I thought I would share it with you. I asked for permission to put it on my blog and it was given. Last week was the beginning of the Catholic Year of Faith for we Catholics. The Year of Faith is striving to get us back in touch with the basics of our Catholic identity and the devotions, the community celebrations, the shared love of the Eucharist that is at the core of our beings. We should look at faith as a lifelong that we can share with people of all faiths.

Finding Faith in Fall Colors by Penny Wiegert...editor of the Observer...the Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, Illinois

I am convinced that the fall colors of the trees this year are the most beautiful, most vibrant I have ever seen. I am quite sure I never fully appreciated the transformation of the lush green of spring and summer into the warm amber, rich burgundy, sun-kissed yellow and glowing orange of fall. Perhaps, it's my advancing age that helps me pause to appreciate God's color palette.
My husband and I traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to attend the 100th anniversary of Our Sunday Visitor several weeks ago, and to avoid the stress and congestion of the Chicago expressways, we decided to take a more rural route. As the road twisted and turned through a canopy of trees the sun helped highlight the first ignitions of the fiery colors of fall.
The banks of color that lined the road brought to mind how similar the trees and their colors are to the human race and our faith. The brilliant variations became, for me, a kind of meditation. It was striking how many of the trees remained green while the others stood out, bathed in bright colors. But it was the background of green that allowed the reds, yellows, and oranges to stand out. 
It occurred to me that people are a lot like that too. There are many who stand out among a crowd. Those that stand in the background often look on the others with a sense of envy at their ability to shine and be different and be noticed and admired. But the envy is misplaced because it is a fact that without the steady, reliable nature of those that "stay behind the scenes" there never would be the brighter stars to shine. Appreciation is born of opposition--- to know quiet we need to know loud; to know bright we need dark; to know soft we need rough.
In Scripture we can see this illustrated for us when we read Paul's letter to the people of Corinth, where he uses the example of the body and the example of the unity and variety of gifts. These passages tell us that we need each other and all the skills or lack thereof  to be a whole people and whole society. We need each other in order to emit the brilliance of God's plan, just as the trees of fall emit a lush visual banquet for the eye.
It is considerably appropriate that the Year of Faith begins in the beauty of fall. As we reflect on the changing seasons, I think we can apply that experience of transition to ourselves. We can choose to use all the resources and opportunities  available to transform into a deeper appreciation of all the aspects of our faith and not just the "star" which is the Mass. We can journey closer to Christ and where he is in our lives so that we can experience a new embrace for the gift of the Eucharist. 
And as I continue to appreciate the opulence of the fall colors, I think we should use that example to appreciate the faith our fellow Christians possess. We can try to use the brilliance of faith we may see in others and their example to inspire us to shine and stand out just like the turned trees. During the next year, we can strive to share our faith story with someone, or perhaps just share our appreciation for theirs.
Try talking to God and talking to each other in faith and about faith. Take the admiration for your faith opposite and put it to use for the unity and value of the whole Church. Perhaps that conversation can assist us all in transforming ourselves and bring forth a faith that is strong and brilliant and can wash the world in a new season of faith, hope, and love that will last long after the Year of Faith is gone.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Love Homemaking

Joe's Recipe for Chicken Soup:

* Note: If making a small amount of soup, just alter the amount of ingredients to fit. This recipe is for a  large soup pot.Whole Chicken or 4 chicken breasts. Boil in large stewing kettle (something like you saw in cartoons of cannibals cooking people) Add generous amt. of salt.Slice 6-7 carrots end to end. No need to peel.Cut up 4 stalks of celery.Cut up 2 large onions.When chicken parts are done...take out of boiling water, but do not throw water away. Allow chicken parts to cool. Carefully cut or pull chicken bones away from meat. Slice the chicken parts longways. Lay slices flat and slice longways again...then cut into cubes. Throw everything together into the pot.Now, add to the pot, 3-4 teaspoons of chicken base (you can buy this at the store rather inexpensively) And stir all together. Then add generous amt. of dehydrated parsley flakes, or better yet...fresh. The best Chicken base of the several that I have tried is the Chicken Base bought at the GFS store.Finally, using white pepper, add salt and pepper to taste.Now for the noodles..... Boil noodles in a large separate kettle.Now I use wide no yolk egg noodles and rotini combined.In this large kettle, put in more water than you think you'll need and then add few drops of cooking oil (keeps noodles from sticking together). Bring water to a boil and add the noodles...stirring frequently until tender. After noodles are cooked, pour into a scolapasta and drain. Then rinse noodles thoroughly with real hot water (this removes all the starch). (If you prefer, just cook the noodles until Al Dente and then add them to the liquid soup.)Add all the noodles to soup mixture in kettle, bring to a boil again and simmer for half hour or more.NOTE: The amount of noodles that you will use will depend on how large of a kettle that you started with. Just remember more noodles is better than less noodles.... You may want to sprinkle a small amt. of cumin into the soup towards the end and stir in thoroughly. ENJOY!***Also, if you would like you can add potatoes to the soup, just peel 3-4 med. sized Yukon Gold potatoes. Cut into large cubes. Definitions... Scolapasta = A colander Joe's grandma was from Sicily and spoke very little English. He lived with her and could speak Italian fluently. (I have to say that I add a box of chicken broth...I think it gives more flavor, but Joe prides himself in how he can make a tasty soup without it. )

Here I am today with all kinds of things going on in my head. Recipes, and cooking mostly. I have two big pots of soup  starting on the stove and another pan with beef for chop suey. I'm making Joe's chicken noodle soup and beef vegetable soup and for today's meal....chop suey. I love to cook like this and the cooler days just get me all warm and fuzzy with homey ideas. 

I love home making. It's what I always wanted to do. Raise children and keep a nice home. I enjoy what I call marathon cooking. Preparing meals to have good leftovers. My high school foods teacher called leftovers....planovers. I have always remembered that....since the 50's when I was in school. She taught us to cook with real ingredients...once she brought in chickens with the feathers on for each cooking station. We had to clean the chicken and learn how to cut it up. Then we all did different recipes and tasted them all when they were finished cooking. I still have my old recipe cards from her class. She was a regular Julia Child....a tall woman with some meat to her  :)

As you have heard before....I enjoy cleaning cupboards, drawers and closets. Sometimes I just get an urge to clean my closet. My daughter laughs at this...." just did that. You have the most orderly closet I've ever seen. Would you like to clean mine?"  My shoe boxes used to sit on the upper shelf and I had labeled them as to how they fit. Brown loafers, tight or Black shoes...tassels. This all saved me time. I know what's in the box and whether I can wear them for a long period of time...or just a little like when I go to Church. It's my system. I have a new system....I keep seasonal shoes in a shoe bag holding 12 pairs. I only keep 12 pairs for a season....tossing a pair as they get old. Twelve shoe boxes are on the shelf with shoes that are for the next season. I change them as the season ends. 24 pair might sound like a lot....but when you figure in shoe boots, and garden shoes, crocs, slippers etc......they add up. Gather up all the shoes you own...I'll bet you have as many as I do. Maybe more...Imelda :) 

I am planning the chop suey for dinner today. I know that Joe and I will have a little cup of that chicken noodle soup tonight, while watching a favorite TV show.

So, I had better get back to my "home on the range." The chicken is done and it's time to add the veggies.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Thought Filled Day

There's my little shelf over the sink decorated for Halloween. I put a few things for Halloween out, but I don't get carried away.
We are at peak now for fall color. The ride to Oregon was pretty...even with the mist this morning. Three of us in the big pool.

Some thoughts today.... My mind is kind of blank at the moment. Waiting for something to hit me to post about. I don't often feel like this, but now... in this in between seasons.... I find it a  little hard to write posts. There are only so many things you can say about fall beauty.

Too wet to work out in the yard....a little test from M. Nature as to how I will occupy my time in the winter. Lots to do...if the weather would only cooperate. Is she giving me time to rest? I wonder. 

My stove broke on Sat. I was using the self cleaning feature and it simply shut off. We had just been out to buy a new stove. The one we have is a Kitchen Aid, bought just 9 yrs. ago. Joe wasn't happy with the broiler, so we decided to get another. We get the new one on Sat. Today, not thinking, I started making a pizza. Well, no oven. I had to make individual ones in the toaster oven. They turned out pretty well, but I just wasn't hungry for mine is in the fridge for leftover snacks.

Grand daughter, Sydney, is getting married in Sept next year. We made the hotel reservations yesterday. A year ahead....I guess you have to do this early now days. 

Daughter, LuAnn, planning a trip to Ecuador at Christmas time. She is taking her nephew.... my grandson, Collin, for his graduation present. Last year it was zip lining in Belize and this time Ecuador. That girl of my is quite the adventurer. I'm so glad that she is like this....her mother isn't like that at all....I love home.

Speaking of home....I must remember to call Elizabeth. We are due for a visit. I once asked her where she would like to go for lunch...she said, "I like home." Simple as that. We take turns making the lunch and this time it's my turn. 

Geraniums in the window are thriving. It must be the right spot for them. Now, if they'll only start blooming. I have so many plants in the windows, that I'll have to forget the lighted snowflakes in the window this Christmas. Maybe a simple lighted candle for each window.

A trip to Merlin's is coming up. Merlin's is a gift shop in Oregon, Il, A friend from Hampshire comes out and picks up another friend of ours on the way...we go shopping and have a nice lunch out. I really look forward to this day. 

A turkey dinner at a local Church this weekend. We will go, because Joe loves turkey and I enjoy getting together with folks I don't know. 

Well, that's all that is on my mind. Tomorrow will be better and more interesting. I'll not sleep tonight....trying my best to dream up an interesting post :) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall is All Around

It's raining cats and dogs. Where did that old saying come from? The only thing I found was that in the 1500's there were thatched roofs. When the weather was chilly, raining, or cold....the little animals would hide in the thatch...when it rained hard...they came tumbling down...thus "Raining Cats and Dogs."

I was out doing a little fall cleanup this morning. Joe had an appointment and so I was on my own. I tackled the front gardens first. I had done a little already, but today I wanted to work out there for quite a while. I felt good and that's when I have to do the work. I cut the clematis off by a half, and then planted 30 daffodil bulbs. The ground was so hard. I think my bulb planting days are
 over. It is so hard each year to get through my soil in the fall. My hands hurt so badly and I have to baby them when I get in the house. I have several more daffodils coming in the mail, but those will go in an easier spot to dig. 

Moving over to the center front....I cut back the lilies and planted some daffs there as well. I know that I will enjoy these next the work is  probably worth it.

Mary's Garden was more of a chore. The hostas are so huge and some were still greenish.I know that I should leave them until the leaves are yellow or brown, but I have done this many times before and they always come back beautifully.  I like to get them cut down before the pine needles fall from the two trees next door. When the pine needles fall...they make a blanket over this area that is so pretty. It was a struggle with my clippers....then I resorted to the weed whacker. That worked pretty well. It left the short stems kind of ragged. I cut off the ragged part with my shears. It's always easier with hostas, to let them go until the frost gets them. Then you can just reach down and pull gently and they come right out. They are kind of slimy then and it's so cold outside.....I about freeze to death. I don't know what it is about old age and body temperatures. I seem to get colder now... even in the house... not like those years of menopause, where I was hot all the time, Anyway, I got the job done and it looks neat and tidy. I'm going to ask the lawn mower man to throw a bag of mulch on where I dug for daffs tomorrow. Then come spring, it will all look nice.

As I was planting, I was thinking ahead to spring. When I put a bulb in the ground...I almost can't wait for spring to come. I'll think about the bulbs all during the winter. Sometimes I forget where and what I planted, and it's a surprise when they break ground.

Tim's little memory garden will look so nice with the butterfly weed, lilies of all kinds and many colors, little alliums, poppies, and now these daffodils. I wanted a colorful garden and hopefully that is what will happen.

I finished up just as Joe was coming in the drive. "What's for dinner," he said. "Soup and a sandwich," I answered. That's what we had and just after we ate...the rain started.

Looking out the window...I see the lawn with yellow leaves scattered all over. The planters out by the road are still thriving. Those geraniums have bloomed non- stop since June. They were such a good buy....88 cents apiece and they have grown and bloomed their heads off.

The rain is continuing and it's a little dark out. It reminds me of what's coming. Darkness in the late afternoon will be here soon. I kind of like the change....I enjoy the cozy feel of late afternoon in the warm house. It will be time for home baked treats...cookies and cupcakes and a cup of something hot to drink. A nice time of the day when the houses are lit up with lights and candles. Maybe a fire in the fireplace....I'm getting anxious.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Love Color

Yesterday I ordered some things to brighten out house for the coming winter. I like to have blooming plants around me all through the year. Winter comes and it's time for Amaryllis bulbs, paper white narcissus, Christmas Cactus, and maybe a few forced bulbs. Books and flowers are the things that I buy most. I would take a new plant or book over a new piece of clothing any day.

One year we had a garden club project for each of us to take home a pot of put in the cold and bring out in the early spring. We selected the tulip bulbs and planted them in shallow, clay, bulb forcing pots. Wrapped them in wet newspapers and put them somewhere cold, but not freezing. I had an extra fridge downstairs to hold mine. We kept moistening the newspaper until spring and then brought them up and in a week or so....they started growing. We all got on the phone to check with everyone and see if they were having the same results. It was a fun project that was highly successful. 

Yesterday, I ordered a couple of kits with crocus, paper whites and the amaryllis. Along with those, I ordered some daffodils that I hadn't seen locally. They will be here soon.....just in time for me to sink into the ground and plant. 

On the way home from dinner out.....yesterday, we stopped at Farm and Fleet and I bought a package of large daffodil bulbs. I guess that's about it for this year.  I hope that I haven't overdone it that it's a chore for me. I always have these mighty plans and then reality sets in and I find that it is difficult to do. Oh, well....I'll just have to persevere. (now that's an old word that I haven't used in a while) I like to plant daffodils because critters seem to leave these bulbs alone......not like my orange tulips that disappeared in a year.

I chose a Red Lion amaryllis. I've had this one so many times, but when it's time to order another one....that red always takes my eye and I can't help myself. I like to have them bloom a little after Christmas, so that there is something pretty in the house when all the decorations come down.

I bought some suet blocks....many suet blocks. Joe is a big fan of our woodpeckers and he looks out for them. Loves to see them at the suet feeder. They fly between our feeders and the woods many times a day.

Looking out my window...I see three chickadees, two finches (wearing their winter drab) a male cardinal (wearing his new, bright coat of red), and here comes a blue jay. The birds seem to like the fruit and nut seed that we are trying. I feel like I'm selecting something for us to eat, when I am at the birdseed aisle :)

Well, as you can tell...I love color and it shows in my choice of blooms, and also in the birds I love to watch. They both decorate our home and will be here through the winter months to make things cheery.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Cozy Place by Balisha

Everyone needs a cozy place. A place to sit and read, knit, sip tea, or just be alone...away from the noises of the house. My little place used to be in the breakfast nook....right near the sliding glass doors. I could look out the window at the bird feeders and the woods. Yesterday I was in the mood to switch things around....and switch I did. My dear friend Ruth used to say, "Looks like the wind blew through here!" whenever I changed furniture around. Things weren't so heavy then and I was much things got moved around more often. Now days I must move little things and our heavy furniture stays in the same place. So, doing what I did yesterday, gave me a feeling of accomplishment as well as something new to look at. I just hung a bird feeder out the window my chair and filled the feeders. 

Windows become so important in the winter. I like mine to be shiny clean and the window swags freshly laundered. I'm not a fan of heavy draperies or I have swags on all the windows. Some are lace and the new ones are a swags of red and white toile fabric with birds. The dining room has drapery swags with a floral print. 

Now that I am in the front of the house....I sit awhile and look out the window and think of how I could make winter window watching more interesting. Thus came the feeder. When Christmas comes, the railing of the porch will be decorated with greens and red cardinals....white lights. 

Looking out the window will give me more to look at. People going by, kids getting off the school bus, the mail lady, delivery people, and company coming in the drive. I will still have the birds to watch and squirrels too. (Last week 15 wild turkeys were in our neighborhood)

This isn't a place just for looking out the window. I'll have a new place to sit and read for a bit, and listen to my little radio on Sat. morning. I often get up before it will be a quiet place for me to start my day. This collectible plate hangs near my cozy spot. Here's a little poem this morning....

My Cozy Place by Balisha

I love a little cozy place  to sit so quietly..
To see outside the window at clouds and pretty trees.
The birds that come to visit for seed most everyday..
A squirrel who delights me with his entertaining ways.
A favorite quilt, a candle bright, some lovely potpourri..
My mother's table, with a book, sits very close to me.
 A special place for me to sit and plan my life ahead..
I'll think of mostly pleasant things... not of a life I'll dread. 
Now, I have that cozy spot to read and do some things...
A place to just enjoy myself... until a sign of spring.

I hope this encourages you to make a little cozy place for you to sit this winter. It doesn't have to be big, fancy and grand....just a little spot off the beaten path inside your house....hopefully with a window. If not a window...a pretty picture or mirror to look at. You don't need a old chair that you've been meaning to fix up with pillows... and a throw or little quilt over the back, to cover up with. A place to have a little snack and read the paper or a book. A place to pray and meditate perhaps. Let me know if this inspires you to fix up a spot for yourself in your home. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Parsley and a Fall Drive

Here's what my parsley looked like before the weather turned. I always plant a couple plants...both the curly and the Italian flat leaf. I think that the Italian has more flavor. Once in a while, they come up again the next year. I've had this big cup and saucer for several years. It's been handy....right outside the door where I can grab a handful easily I think that other than salt, pepper and's about the most used seasoning I use in cooking. Years ago, I used to dry it and use it all winter. I don't do that anymore....but I do miss it... the winter. I know you can put it in ice cube trays and freeze it....but it seems like kind of a bother. Growing it in the house has never worked for me.So, I go with the dried variety.

Today is pool day. It's really a treat to drive to Oregon and see how the colors change from day to day along the river. We live in a part of the state where we have the Blackhawk Trail going through our town. It's a scenic drive along the Rock River. The highlight of the drive is the statue of Blackhawk...the Indian chief... standing tall in amongst the beautiful colors of fall. It's really advertising on big signs, the curving road following the curve of the river. Birds of all kinds....shore birds and even pelicans... and deer are to be seen. We drive into town and cross the river and sometimes think nothing of it. We just take it for granted. Many people drive to our town to see the colors....I always appreciate the sights I see. It's one of the best drives in N. Illinois for fall color. Our area has state parks and many forest preserves. We have a forest preserve just up the road from us. So, we are leaving in a few minutes. It's a bit cloudy today....or I would take some pictures. The pictures in my header are sights that I have seen on that drive. Now, I have to get the day started. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Views About Our Way of Communication....Texting

This is going to be a post that some will agree with and some won't. I don't text.  I love words and conversation. I enjoy the surprise, when someone emails me with news. I love being able to say, "Hello, how are you?" I've always loved phone conversations with women friends. Sometimes long newsy chats with a cup of tea. Women have always loved to communicate with each other. We connect, relate and share our lives this way. Communication is a way of forming a lasting bond.

I can remember conversations into the night with a friend whose mother had just passed. Conversations with another about her ailing husband. Talking with one about our grand kids and their accomplishments. Talking with my husband when he was on a fishing trip.Talking to a relative in the hospital. Cheering up an old person with a phone call. The first phone conversation with a baby. Talking with Joe when he's on the way home. These are all the things that I would miss with a text. 

People don't make eye contact anymore when they are talking.

Phone conversations are more important as we age. We look forward to someone calling us....especially a family member and not a telemarketer :)  

I've noticed lately that some women I used to email with are still emailing, but with one or two word sentences. No punctuation just abbreviations. I had a very stern teacher for college prep English in high school. She was a great teacher and taught me so much. She would be appalled at the way the English language is being slaughtered today. The emails I receive have no salutation. No friendly "Hello, or even Hi" and no ending either. Just stopping not saying "Goodbye, Love you, or even Later." 

I write a blog post almost everyday. I enjoy writing...enjoy putting words down on this blog that will make someone else happy or relate something serious or funny. I play with words......finding new words and trying them out in my conversations and writing. I play word the 8 yr online scrabble game with my daughter. 

Thank Heavens my kids don't text me. I would miss their wonderful voices and hearing their reactions to things I tell them. A conversation with a child.....precious words are lost in texting. 

I don't know....maybe I'm old fashioned, but when I get an email from a dear old friend that says her message in three gives me pause and I might not feel the way I used to with her. Maybe words aren't as important in this fast world.....but a world without words is not for me.


Saturday, October 4, 2014


Slush is predicted for sometime today. Is Mother Nature playing a trick on us? Is she bringing back memories of the worst winter I can remember? I'm one who normally likes winter....but last year, even I was complaining. I was thinking this morning, as I peered out the window....watching for "slush"...... am I ready for this cold weather to start? Are things around the house prepare for this? What is left to do? Here's my list....with a few chuckles from me this morning.

Are the closets ready? Turtlenecks, thick sweaters, sweats, coats, hats, boots, scarves, winter robe, the list goes on and on. Did I mention scarves??? I'm always knitting a scarf....should I make more? Slippers and long nightgown. Heavy socks.

(All this heaviness of clothing reminds me of my children. The last one, John, was always dressed with thick clothes. He looked like the Michelin  Man. He couldn't bend over. What was I thinking? Just wanted him to be warm. )

On with the list.....

Reading material....are my fall and winter books stacked and ready by my fireside chair? Is my winter afghan on the back of said chair? Where is that heated throw...a Christmas gift from John last year? Fall candles, potpourri, fall decor etc. 

I mentally move into the kitchen. The freezer is getting low. Do we have enough canned soup? Hot chocolate and marshmallows ready? My head cold things.....chicken broth, ginger and lemon tea, lemons, cream of wheat, jello.
Winter cookbooks are ready on the shelf....for comfort foods. Casseroles, baked vegetables, soups and stews, hot beverages....and some new recipes to try.

We got our flu shot and I must stock up on cough medicine, ricola lozenges, and vicks. Toss out the old and start anew.

My head is spinning...

Now the bedroom..... flannel sheets, cozy comforter, extra pillows, heat adjusted, boxes of tissues. (Did I say flannel sheets? Last year I bought some sheets from QVC. They are a soft polar fleece sheet. I don't normally like flannel, but these are like Heaven. Can't wait to put them on the bed again.)

My head is spinning again....

There's still so much to do (fall cleanup too) and I haven't even mentioned the furnace and other mechanical things. I'll just let Joe do those things...I have to get busy knitting...another scarf  :)


Friday, October 3, 2014

The Fruit Cellar

When I was a girl living in the 1940's, there weren't any processed foods. The TV dinner hadn't been invented yet. The grocery stores didn't carry the produce that they do today. A fresh pineapple was unheard of. We ate things that were in season....and that's why an orange in the Christmas stocking was started. We didn't have oranges very often in the winter. The freezers were small little compartments that hung down in the middle of a small refrigerator. No ice makers in those days. We seldom had ice water, tea, or even Kool Aid back then.

My mother was a canner. She "put up" quite a few of the fruits and vegetables that we ate during the winter. Late summer found her in our un air conditioned kitchen... peering over a kettle of tomatoes to put in jars, seal and put into the canner. She had two canners going at a  time. I remember a hot kitchen in the summer....not from the weather but from the stove with canners boiling. The familiar "ping" to say that the jars had sealed was a sound that she asked me to keep track of.

We were recipients of bushels of apples....the person giving them to us would say...."This were under the can just cut away the brown spots." Mom was thrilled with anything she could get. Those apples meant that we would have applesauce throughout the winter. Mom would ration out the applesauce so that it lasted for a couple months. I never had jarred applesauce until I was a teenager.

I remember getting bushels of peaches and pears. I loved having a peach with cottage cheese salad for lunch. Mom and Grandma used to make blushing pears. They would be cooked with a few cinnamon red hot candies. I love these to this day. The last thing that she canned each year would be chili sauce. I can still smell it in my memory. We would have that with beef and pork roasts.

Then there were the tins with Mom's fruitcakes inside. She made these for everyone... for gifts at Christmas. They were her treasures.

Where did we keep all of these canned things? We had a house with a basement that wasn't heated. Part of it had a dirt floor. There was a monster furnace. It looked like a big octopus in the middle of the room. There was a coal bin on one side......and across from that was an old stairway coming down from the outside. Much like the one in the photo. Remember the old song....Playmate come out and play with me...and bring your dollies three....climb up my apple tree. Look down my rain barrel...slide down my cellar door and we'll be jolly friends forever more.
Well, we had that cellar door and the stairs led down to our basement. There was a little room, partitioned off from the rest of the basement, that Mom called her fruit cellar. I've heard it called a root cellar, but ours was a fruit cellar. She decorated the shelves with fresh shelf paper each fall and put her jars on those shelves. All lined up like jars of jewels. The window to this little room was always that the sun could come in and shine on her jars. She would have a gunny sack of potatoes, carrots in sand, and onions hanging. I loved going into the fruit cellar. It was my job to bring up the jars as she needed them.

We were healthy in those days...I think because of the fact that we got good nutrition (no processed foods yet) plenty of sleep, (no tv) and we played outside in all kinds of weather. 
Those were the days of my youth....I'll never forget.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My First Pair of Garden Gloves

My mother wasn't a gardener. She never owned a pair of garden gloves. She was a very stylish woman, who enjoyed making a home for us. Her strengths were in the kitchen and decorating. Our small house was very pretty. She was one of the first to cut figures out of wall paper and apply them to the walls or ceiling. My bedroom had rose wall paper in the dormer and the same roses were carefully cut out and applied to the ceiling. The same for the kitchen. She cut out the little Dutch girls and boys and put them on the wall. This was her way of saving money, not having to buy a lot of wall paper.....and still having the illusion of wallpaper on her walls. 
She saved money in her clothing too. She used to take an organdy dickie and dress up an old black or navy dress. She often changed collars and cuffs so she could have something fashionable to wear.
In the days when I was growing up....the girls and moms wore white gloves. Going to Church found us dressed to the  nines. We always had "Sunday clothes" After Church we would come home and change right away to take care of these clothes. 
This is where the story takes a turn. My dad was a wonderful gardener. His garden was the envy of the neighborhood. Straight weeds....good crops....all from his careful tending. He worked long hours, and not having a car meant that he walked many miles to work each afternoon. He gardened with such a passion. I can see him now in his white t shirt and long pants (no shorts for men at that time) and his leather garden gloves. Those leather gloves were the only expensive thing he owned for gardening. He had the same pair for years. He took special care of them at the end of gardening season.....rubbing them with oil and storing them carefully until next year. Well, one day he needed me to help him. I didn't have any garden gloves....only my Church gloves. I ran to the dresser and got my gloves out and went and helped Dad. I tried to wash them before Mom saw them, but they didn't come clean. Sunday came and I appeared with no gloves. Mom said, "Run and get your gloves." I had to tell her. That's how I got my first pair of garden gloves....and I think about it every time I put my old worn leather gloves on my hands.
The picture shows a planter made out of cement and a pair of garden gloves. I thought it was unique and would show it to you here today. I have the website if anyone is interested in making them. If you decide to make these...let us see a picture of your hand planter. I have a planter that was given to me as a gift that is much like this. It's supposed to be God's hand.
This is another pool day. It's cloudy out and cool. The leaves are coming down fast now.
The little chipmunk is at the feeder in the window....looking in at me. His cheeks are stuffed with seed....he's preparing his larder for the coming season. Winter...hope he and his family are safe this year. It wouldn't be the same without his antics in my garden.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A No Plan Kind of Day

I tried to lighten this picture up and messed up the view out the window. You'll just have to close your eyes to the brightness out the window. The geraniums that I brought in are doing well. Very few leaves have turned brown. Looks like I will have a window full of geraniums this winter.
Speaking of out my window...there's a small finch like bird on my feeder right now that has a soft orange patch between the wings on his back, finch like markings, and a very soft orange breast. I don't know what it is. He's traveling with finches. This fruit and nut seed assortment is attracting some different birds. The old visitors are learning to enjoy it. 
There are leaves down all over the yard right now. Our lawnmower man just mulches them. You might find this funny.....when Joe asked me to marry him there was a stipulation on my part. I had lived in a house with trees all around. I spent hours each fall raking and bagging these leaves. It was a given... each day, that raking would be involved.....unless it rained. If it was worse...had to wait until the leaves dried to rake again. Back to the stipulation....I was promised that I would never have to rake....and he's kept that promise. We laugh about it every fall as the leaves come down. 
Today is pool day. We went yesterday and just a couple of people were there. When they left, Joe and I were the only ones in the pool. When our time was up...two little toddlers came in with their moms. One went right into the water, splashing and cute. The other, a little girl, was more hesitant. She and her mom got used to the water first and then went all the way in. The little girl is having private lessons. They were so much fun to watch that we stayed on the sidelines watching them for quite a while. I love this routine that we have now. Swimming is doing us both a world of good. When I say swimming, I don't mean doing laps. We do exercises in the water....Joe does water walking and I combine that  with other exercises. I try to keep moving all the time I'm in the water. We use the hot tub too. We only stay in a little really relaxes much so, that I have a hard time getting any work done when I get home :)
No plans for meals today. I really don't like having no plans. Hopefully I'll come up with an idea. We just had poached eggs for breakfast, so that will hold us for a long time.
Well, I had better get ready to go. 
Maybe later...